Galloping Time, Supporting Systems for the Writing Life

Now and then, a moment arrives, when hardly anybody wants anything from us. Maybe something was cancelled, leaving a serene empty space, or it’s the day after a holiday.

I used to go mad at such moments.  Quick, this is my chance to write 5400 words.  But, what if, instead of typing up a storm until the next serendipitously empty timeslot raises its noble head and invites us to gallop away upon it (okay, that’s a tempting thought to me too, so if you love that idea, leave this paragraph in your dust and ride away on inspiration), what if we use this little moment of peace to redesign the systems and reset the components of our lives to create timeslots of our own?  And perhaps ask 3 questions:

  1. If my perfect life and writing career were here, what would it look like?
    hint: every day includes time for relationships, for eating and moving well, and for kicking back.
  2. What am I using up time for that I don’t like much, and that doesn’t serve me or mine?
    hint: we all know what to do, so, how to do it?
  3. In the area of life where things seem so crazy they’re sucking my creative energy, is there any system, perhaps over the course of the week, that I could set in place to make things less onerous?
    hint: systems are not about achieving perfection, they are about our present selves doing something in a few minutes to save our future selves an hour for writing.

I don’t want to use my creative powers to deal with It’s five pm and there’s nothing to eat, what magic can I perform?  I like cooking, but I’d prefer to use the magic on my manuscript and have food in the fridge and a plan in the kitchen.  Come the weekend, I don’t want to take that big beautiful 3-hour drafting timeblock and use it to shoulder through crowds at Costco.  If we can generate a system or two, we can support our creative powers without shortchanging our lives and the people we adore.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers, Mel

We believe in bringing well written, gorgeously published, superb storytelling to readers, and we pay writers and artists competitive rates for their work. Subscribe here. Good books for the price of a beer!

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseWhatever the weather, you keep writing. Your persistence, endurance, and strong talent move your career along beautifully. Your Writing Muse 

Adventures in Writing

untitledEndurance is one of the great challenges in our writing careers — holding on with tenacious minds to the idea that we can do this, even though we’re working on page 17 with 350 left to go.  But even more boldly, we’re also attempting to devise something brilliant, something that has never been made before.  Originality has always been a daunting sort of goal.  Making something out of nothing is the ultimate creation within the arts.  By definition, creation takes us out of our comfort zones.

One trick to time management and self-motivation, is to find a way enjoy the tension and fear, rather than frittering our drafting time away with other things in an unconscious avoidance of a big leap in storytelling or any tricky aspect in our writing careers.

It’s kind of like a day up Whistler, I guess, facing the most challenging run we’ve ever taken.  And, we never wanted it to be easy.  If we do this crazy thing, we do it because we know we can.  It’s down to us to find a line and follow it, and to choose — not whether we’ll do it, we already know we will, we’re equipped with the skills we need, we’ve paid our bucks, and won’t turn back — but choose to enjoy the ride and wear a cool smile while the snow arcs up around us.  What a great day this is.  Of writing, I mean.  Darn, I’d love a day up Whistler, too.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers, Mel

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuse:

I admire your discipline as you create time blocks for planning, drafting, & revising during your busy week. Your Writing Muse 

The Magpie Award is Open!

M is for March, and M is for Magpie … which means the 4th annual Magpie Award for Poetry is now open.  Earlybird rates save you $5 until March 15th, so hurry and get your poems in now.

Submission guidelines are here.

To inspire your fine-feathered words, here is some lovely coloured pencil work by Sandra Vander Schaaf, on artwork by Mel Anastasiou from Colouring Paradise: A Renaissance-Inspired Colouring Book.

'Two for Joy' by Mel Anastasiou, coloured by Sandra Vander Schaaf

‘Magpie’ by Mel Anastasiou, coloured by Sandra Vander Schaaf

 

The Real Sting: Bumblebee Contest Longlist

The Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest: short and sweet stories with a sting.  The real sting, though, is choosing between so many excellent entries.  The editors had to work hard to select a longlist.  Thank you to everyone whose stories made choosing difficult.

Here are the authors on the longlist, alphabetically by first name:littlepen

  1. Amanda Truscott
  2. Candace Kubinec
  3. Catherine Raphael
  4. Charity Tahmaseb
  5. Claire Lawrence
  6. Colin Thornton
  7. Cornelia Hoogland
  8. David Perlmutter
  9. Soramimi Hanarejima
  10. Ingrid Jendrzejewski
  11. Jenny Fleming
  12. Jay Allisan
  13. Joel Freiburger
  14. Kat McNichol
  15. Katie Gray
  16. K. Kris Loomis
  17. KT Wagner
  18. Laura Taylor
  19. Leslie Wibberley
  20. Luo Yang
  21. Margaret Code
  22. Melanie Cossey
  23. Richard Arbib
  24. Rose Divecha
  25. Steven Kochems
  26. Tristan Marajh
  27. William Kaufmann

Congratulations, authors!  We editors will steel ourselves to make a shortlist for contest judge Bob Thurber soon.

In the meantime, the Magpie contest opens tomorrow.  Poets, prime your pens!

Welcome to the Writers’ Café and Centre Stage. Be Prolific, Publish Often, Get Paid.

ProfileJan22017Writers'cafeOne of the many reasons we began publishing our literary quarterly Pulp Literature was that there were very few magazines that paid, and many that did not.  We firmly believe in paying authors.

Writers have a deep reservoir of great pieces.  Opportunities for paid publication can be tracked down on the Internet, although they are apt to go out of date quickly.  And, when agents and publishing firms are happy to accept unsolicited manuscripts, you want to know it.

Somebody’s got to scour the web for these opportunities, and since Mel is a mystery writer, and Jen is unstoppable in mounted combat, we decided we are the women to take on the challenge.  We search for paying opportunities, for open submissions windows, for publishers who are willing to take on emerging and established writers, and we devised a meeting place where you can find them.

Welcome to the Writers’ Café and Centre Stage, where there’s a paying opportunity posted at least once every day.  Cheers to you and your career, may you be prolific, publish often, and get paid for your excellent work.

With three cheers, from your Pulp Literature Team!

banner4musefinalbw

This week from @yourwritingmuseYou’ve got talent, persistence, and a great love of learning. Top success indicators. Congratulations from Your Writing Muse.

The Pop-Up Writing Space

We most likely have, each of us, a dedicated writing office space of one kind or another. Here, seated or standing at our own desk, we often feel primed to begin. It’s almost like having a head start on the work. I hear some of us saying, as I have from time to time, I can only write when I’m alone in my office.

Still, charm of setting and pursuing a noble goal are not enough for storytelling, nor are they always enough for the writers who devise them. Just as the stories we’re writing demand transformation to hold a reader’s attention, our writers’ minds desire change to keep sharp.

Libraries.  Coffee shops.  Different areas in our homes.  If we consider devising pop-up writing spaces, should silence be a prerequisite?  Those of us who admire Jane Austen’s work know we’d be missing much had she required quiet.

A pop-up office won’t be as fab as our own perfectly — or madly — arranged private offices.  Especially office spaces we love with all our hearts.  But, even pleasures may fail to please when we settle into a favourite rut.  Our brains are our most important writing tools, and they thrive on change as much as comfort.

 I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuse:

You keep the goals for your writing career in plain view. A perfect guide for your continued success. Your Writing Muse

Stay up to date on all our writing tips and contest openings with our free monthly newsletter.

The Bumblebee Closes Tomorrow!

In between your chocolates and champagne, don’t forget to send in your sweet and fizzy short stories to the Bumblebee contest, which closes tomorrow at midnight!

loveofficesgirl2And once you’ve checked that box off your to-do list, relax with some candles and bubblebath, enjoying Valentine’s day content in the knowledge our judges will fall head over heels in love with your story.

Entry guidelines here.

Stay up to date on all our contest openings with our free monthly newsletter.

In Praise of Stationery

pen2smallMaybe it’s the same for you, author:  I love stationery stores. Once inside, there comes over me a feeling of pleasant expectancy mixed with the urge to guard my own actions.  It’s the same kind of self-restraint with which I’d approach choosing three magical wishes.

The new notebook, the perfect pen, the …

I think writers love stationery stores because they are shops jam-packed with possibility, of white pages and dark ink that magically become something at once concrete and ethereal when they come into our hands.  Transformation is what storytelling is all about.

Great dreams and concrete goals fuel our writing energy and grow the amount of time we spend working on our manuscripts in progress.  At any rate, this is what I tell myself — that time spent among the pens and paper is actually time saved from procrastination.  And that, in a way, it’s our natural habitat.

 I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers, Mel

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseYou’ve got talent, persistence, and a great love of learning. Top success indicators, congratulations from Your Writing Muse.

Don’t miss a writing tips post!  We collect them once a month and send them to your inbox in our free newsletter.

Issue 14, Spring 2017

Planes, trains, automobiles, and mechanical bears carry us away this issue!

  • Bestselling author, actor, and swordsman CC Humphreys sets two strangers on a train ride in ‘The Ankle Bracelet’.  candy apple baby
  • Colin Thornton’s ‘Candy Apple Baby’ spins us out of control on the road.
  • Poetry from Ian Haight’s ‘Detroit’ takes us to the gritty streets of motor city.
  • Joseph Stilwell’s and Hugh Henderson’s graphic novel Blue Skies Over Nine Isles, soars to an intriguing post-post-apocalyptic future.
  • The protagonist of ‘Robin Hood’ by Susan Pieters takes a road she hadn’t planned to travel.
  • We’re stalked by two very different bears, in Greg Brown’s ‘Bear’ and William Charles Brock’s ‘Jonathan S Primrose Gets Eaten by a Bear’.
  • David Clink’s ‘Birdcage’ takes a suburban trip to the final destination.
  • There are two contest winners this issue.  Our Raven Short Story Contest champion Pat Flewwelling’s ‘The Handler’ is a superhero tale that doesn’t put a foot — or wing — wrong; and the winner of the Surrey International Writers’ Conference’s Storyteller’s Award, Claire Gregory, tells a poignant tale of heartbreak and betrayal from the beginning of the last century in ‘Forget Me Not’.
  • Stella Ryman is back with more amateur sleuthing and righteous red-tape slashing in The Case of the Fallen Crusader.
  • And with the second instalment of Allaigna’s Song:  Aria, our heroine wields magic and a hero’s conscience as she gets farther and farther from home

Pre-order and save!

Issue 14 smallIssue 14, Spring 2017
$14.99  $12.99


ebook
$4.99 $3.99

 

Using the Lag to Become Superb

beatlebootsstampA brilliant and successful writer once told me, “All writers secretly wish they were musicians or baseball players.”

I don’t know whether that’s as true as it sounds, but watching professionals having fun in their profession never fails to thrill me.

Ron Howard’s documentary Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, provides a view of The Beatles at the top of their field, taking the music (but not themselves or each other) seriously.  I love the way they josh, endure, satirize, remain true to their promises, adapt, compromise (the time they give to live performances,) and refuse to compromise (the recording sessions.)

And, they use the lag when things are slow to become superb.

The number of hours to excellence bandied about the Internet is 10,000, (and then on to another 10,000, I’ll bet) and those guys spent a chunk of theirs in Hamburg, playing eight hours a day, attempting to draw in passersby to a seedy club on a seedier strip.  I love to see the footage of the Fab Four making the most of their time on stage, the girls, the joking, and repeatedly creating the wild discipline required to play on through day and night.  Watching endurance, exuberance and excellence combined, I remind myself to smile while I write.  I’m kind of relieved that I’m spending my 10,000 in Vancouver and the UK, driven by nothing but deadline, with holly berries and sweet-singing blackbirds outside my office window.  I’m only kind of relievedthough.  Who doesn’t want to play music?  Or, baseball?  Who?

“I saw that Meryl Streep said ‘I just want to do my job well’.  And really, that’s all I’m ever trying to do.” -Paul McCartney

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseYou face your work with the happy, bold mindset that brings continuous growth and sure success.   Your Writing Muse @pulpliterature

Don’t miss a writing tips post!  We collect them once a month and send them to your inbox in our free newsletter.