The Big, Bright, and Butt-chair Goal

Every goal you write takes you a step closer to your grand and astonishing dreams. –Thaddeus, The Writer’s Boon Companion.

The Big Bright Goal

The big goal is worth writing down right now, and even on a daily basis. For example: I am a best-selling fantasy author.  I publish one or two novels a year, and I love speaking at fantasy conferences and talking with my readers.

The Butt-Chair Goal

If you too are a fan of Steven King’s On Writing, you know that his aim is 1,000 words a day.  Which means getting your butt in a chair and writing. My personal goal is 3,000 words a week to a cogent outline. That gives me two short novels a year.  Your writing tip prompt is to  jot down your butt-chair goal now.

The Yearly Goal

How many books written, how many books sold, where to focus new learning?  Yearly goals almost necessitate charts and erasable felts. This sends us to the stationery story on a righteous mission. Because, when writers note down goals for the year, whether in general terms, as in big bright and butt-in-chair goals, the activity keeps our feet on the ground, and our heads in that creative space which designs and executes unique, exciting reads for our readerships.

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

Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens, and is Senior Acquisitions Editor with Pulp Literature Press.

If you enjoy reading Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, get her pocket-sized writing guide, The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume, here.  Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.




2018 Magpie Poetry Contest Shortlist

What’s that old magpie nursery rhyme? One for sorrow, two for joy … ten a surprise you won’t want to miss! The Magpie shortlist has been selected by our poetry editorial team Daniel Cowper and Emily Osborne, and we tip our hats to these ten entries.  Names appear in alphabetical order (by last name) and those with multiple entries under consideration are listed more than once.

Kelli Allen
Angela Caravan
Daniela Elza
Rula Jurdi
Charlene Kwiatkowski
Christine Leviczky Riek
Scott-Patrick Mitchell
Cara Waterfall
Cara Waterfall
Sarah Zwickle

Thank you to all who submitted! Renée Sarojini Saklikar‘s picks will be revealed May 15th, so stay tuned for that surprise you won’t want to miss!

Did you miss the deadline for the Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest this year? Well, we love flash fiction so much, we have two contests! The Hummingbird Flash Fiction Contest opened May 1st and will close June 15th. Early bird entry fee ends May 15th!


2018 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize

Close your eyes and it might pass you by! The Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize is now open and we’ve got our noses pressed up against the glass, eager to see colourful flashes of fiction whizzing by!

Contest open: 1 May 2018
Deadline: 15 June 2018
Winners notified: 15 July 2018
Winners published in: Pulp Literature Issue 23, Winter 2019
First Prize: $300 and a 1 year subscription to Duotropehummingbird5
Runner up: $75

Judge: Bob Thurber

Entry fee: $15
Editorial Critique: $15
Early Bird fee (before 15 May): $10
Entry fees include a 1-year digital subscription to Pulp Literature.

This contest is for previously unpublished short fiction up to 1000 words in length.  Multiple entries welcome.  Total entries limited to 300.

Want feedback on your story?  Get a professional critique from one of the Pulp Literature editors for only $15 more.

Stella is a Leacock Medal Contender

Things that bring us joy:

  • Great books
  • Good beer
  • One of our authors being longlisted!

Mel Anastasiou has been longlisted for the
71st Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour!

Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries is one of ten books out of seventy that are under consideration for this prestigious award. The shortlist will be announced May 2nd, followed on June 9th by the announcement of the winner.

More information on the longlisted authors, as well as the history of the Medal, membership, and all the previous winners, is available on the Leacock Associates’ website at

Stella Ryman’s sleuthing adventures were first serialized in Pulp Literature Issues 1, 3, 5, and 7, and were complied into our first novel publication in 2017.  We’re incredibly proud of this book and delighted it is being recognized by such an esteemed jury.  Please join us in congratulating Mel, and be sure to check out Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries.

Already read the novel and want more Stella Ryman?  Check out Pulp Literature Issue 18, Spring 2018, containing a preview of Mel’s second Stella novel, Stella Ryman and the Mystery of the Mah-Jongg Box.




Author News: Bob Thurber

Do you like reading great fiction for only a fraction of the price? Issue 12 featured author, Bumblebee Flash Fiction judge, and all around debonair fella, Bob Thurber, has got a deal for you!

Cinderella She Was Not, winner of the 2006 Meridian Editor’s Fiction Prize, is available in the Amazon bookstore for 99¢ until April 26th.

“A fast read. Raymond, the “bad boy/lost boy” narrator is uncompromisingly honest, sometimes erudite, and occasionally charming. His observations of the well-to-do Porter family will remain in the mind long after reading. A terse, edgy, darkly humorous tale about love and marriage and infidelity…”

Intrigued? So are we, and luckily, we’ve got an excerpt to entice you even more!

Opening Excerpt of Cinderella She Was Not by Bob Thurber:

“It isn’t enough for your heart to break
because everybody’s heart is broken now.”

— Allen Ginsberg

This is a roughed up fairy tale, a sort of teaching tool for my children and yours. The year is 1999. I can’t predict the future but right now the world is an ugly mess, so don’t count on anything even resembling a happy ending.

My name is Raymond Masterson. I’m twenty-eight, married, chronically unemployed, and lucky not to be dead or rotting in some prison cell. Back when I was nineteen, I ripped off a couple of downtown Providence dope dealers, Southside boys, the kind of people who don’t forgive and never forget. It was a really stupid thing to do once, blatantly insane to do a second time. The only reason they didn’t torture and kill me was some narcotics agent shot them both dead during an undercover sting operation. Lucky me. The whole point of that anecdote being that I hardly expected to see my twenty-first birthday, and now, pushing thirty, I’ve got one kid in diapers, and another child on the way.

Lucky me again.

As pathetically mundane and unexciting as all that sounds, I’m actually doing okay. Thanks to my wife’s recently defunct old man (You may have read about the passing of Sam Porter, aka Uncle Sam, founder and CEO of Porter’s Drug Stores,) I’ve got a few bucks in the bank, so I don’t have to labor like most folks. It’s a great thing not to have to work or to worry where the money is coming from. Even so, in spite of my good fortune, most days I’m miserable, tortured by a terrible sadness. For one, I don’t know a damn thing about being a good father. So I worry about that.

Mainly, I’m frightened that despite my good intentions, given enough time, I’ll somehow screw my kids up. Most parents seem to manage that without even trying. So I worry about heredity, and the dark horrors hidden in ancestral genes. Granted, I concern myself too much with things beyond my control — about “Foreign Policy” and “U.S. Interests” and what the world will do to my children. About depravity, and disease, and war.

I once read that if parents truly loved their children there would be no more wars. That’s a hard line to swallow, though difficult to argue with. Oddly, it was written by a mystic who never went to war and never had any children.

Incidentally, there’s a war in this story, a small war, the shortest on record, but a war nonetheless. Possibly you watched it on television, and rooted for the home team. Or maybe you know someone who was there, and can describe the fireworks first hand. I’m only including this little war here because it is a semi-pertinent part of the story, but I’ve played it down as best I can.

Primarily, this is a tale meant for my children, for when they become young adults. It’s a somewhat crude but hopefully moral lesson in love and lust, if not quite a secret map to guide them and keep them forever watchful against the coldness in us all.


Once upon a time . . . 


Bob Thurber will be back as contest judge for Pulp Literature’s Hummingbird Contest, opening May 1st. Early bird entry fee is only $10 and ends May 10th, so make like a hummingbird and get your flashiest fiction ready!


Featured Author: Sophie Panzer

Ah, young talent! In the spirit of spring and new beginnings, emerging writers are a symbol of good things to come. Sophie Panzer, author of ‘The Commute’ (Issue 18), is brimming with fresh ideas and expression — fitting for our Spring Issue.

Sophie studies history at McGill University,  and was a finalist for the 2017 QWF Literary Prize for Young Writers, a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, and the winner of a 2015 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards National Silver Medal. We also have it on good authority that she is a fan of musicals and long walks in the woods.

If you’re wondering what the future holds for Sophie, we we can tell you a few things to keep an eye out for.  Issue 29 of Gingerbread House Literary Magazine and the inaugural issue of Fearsome Critters: A Millennial Arts Journal will both contain poems penned by Sophie Panzer. Additionally, her chapbook, Survive July, will be released this summer with Red Bird Chapbooks. Her debut chapbook is “…a hybrid collection of flash fiction, text  messages, and mini plays that tells the story of a young woman struggling with her mental health and sexuality after her first year of college.”  We’re excited for it all.

To get you hooked on Sophie’s storytelling style, here’s a peak at ‘The Commute’ from the  newly released Pulp Literature Issue 18.

The Commute

by Sophie Panzer

There’s a demon in the metro again, which means I’ll be late to work for the second time this week.

“This is ridiculous,” I hear a woman behind me hiss as a small crowd of harried commuters throngs around the Atwater metro entrance. A sign in French and English reading, “Out of service 6h — 9h due to demonic paranormal activity. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience,” is affixed to the doors.

“This is the second time this month!” I turn to the source of the voice, a middle-aged woman with a severe haircut and a navy pantsuit. She looks and sounds like my mother, a formidable, wealthy matriarch from Westmount used to getting her own way in her office and on the synagogue board.

“The people who cut funding to the DPAM don’t even live here,” someone else wails. “If they had to deal with this commute, we wouldn’t have to deal with this bullshit.”

I’m already mentally drafting an apologetic excuse to my boss, Sharon, but I doubt it will do me much good. I’m working as a paralegal in her downtown office because she’s an old friend of my mother’s. She’s not my biggest fan, especially since I turned her son down for prom in grade twelve and called her out for being a tiny bit racist when she said the one black member of our congregation looked like her hair had been attacked by a vacuum cleaner.

  Spring into the rest of ‘The Commute’ in Issue 18!


Running with the Theme

Here’s a fun game—spot the theme, as stated in the first half of the first act of the novel or film, usually by a supporting character or similar. What about the moment in Spectre when Moneypenny, on the phone with Bond, tells James she can’t help him just then because she has a life, and he should get one too?  Because, there may be shooting, peril, fab inventions, and mad escapes, but in my view (not the only view, obviously) the film’s theme is, It’s hard to get a life, when you’re Bond.

 Your Writing Tip: Run with the Theme.

In The Wizard of Oz, look for Professor Marvel to state the theme in his conversation with the runaway Dorothy in Act 1. The theme is repeated throughout. There’s no place like home. So, for a strong line, write out the theme 3-6 different ways. You can use each of these in strong but subtle ways to draw out the theme throughout the story.

One Theme, Several Ways.

Here’s part of a list of different views on the same theme that I wrote for ‘Stella Ryman and the Ghost at the End of the Bed’, the ninth Fairmount Manor Mystery novella starring my octogenarian sleuth, trapped in a down-at-heel care home. (Pulp Literature, Issue 16.)

  1. Reach out or die.
  2. Without connection, we’re just bundles of cells in fleece warm-up suits.
  3. If we can let go of loving people, we might form new and greater passions. What would they be?
  4. Or, maybe it’s the other way around, and all the love we feel makes supports for more passions.
  5. In Fairmount Manor we residents are like hermits or saints, who must connect to nature because we’ve cut ties with the world.

(The author takes no responsibility for the views of her characters.)

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

Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens, and is Senior Acquisitions Editor with Pulp Literature Press.

If you enjoy reading Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, get her pocket-sized writing guide, The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume.  Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.



Magpie Award Judge, Renée Sarojini Saklikar

It is our pleasure to welcome back the final judge for this year’s Magpie Award for Poetry, Surrey BC’s Poet Laureate Renée Sarojini Saklikar.

Renée Sarojini Saklikar, Surrey BC’s inaugural Poet Laureate, writes thecanadaproject, a life-long poem chronicle.  Work from the project appears in journals, anthologies and chapbooks.  Renée’s first book, children of air india, un/authorized exhibits and interjections, (Nightwood Editions, 2013) won the 2014 Canadian Authors Association Award for poetry and was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Award.

Renée is currently a mentor and instructor for Simon Fraser University, and co-founder of the poetry reading series, Lunch Poems at SFU.  With Wayde Compton, Renée co-edited The Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them (Anvil Press/SFU Public Square, 2015).  She is currently at work on the long poem, “Thot-J-Bap”, excerpts of which can be found in Eleven Eleven, The Capilano Review, DUSIE and The Rusty Toque, as well as in chapbooks published by Nous-Zot and above/ground presses.

We are delighted to have Renée onboard once more as the Magpie Award judge. Thank you, Renée!

The 5th annual Magpie Award for Poetry is open until April 15th.  Contest guidelines and entry form here.

Five Minutes, Five Stories: Pulp Literature Writing Tips

Even at the start of a new tale, it’s worth thinking about the next five stories in your body of work.

“Yes, the story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it.” Jules Renard.

Talk about your cool self-confidence, Jules Renard. But it’s possible, even probable, that all our stories exist in Renard’s “some place,” viz. the fertile fields of our writing minds. It’s tempting to push these upcoming stories away to concentrate on the work at hand.

Visit five future tales

Without sacrificing progress on a work-in-progress, it’s worth taking a look now and then at the broader creative vista.

Your writing tip: take five

Take five minutes to list the next five tales before you. Your writing mind will benefit from this ‘heads-up’ (pun intended) on future plotting. And, in this way you remind yourself that you are not only writing, you are a writer by trade, and yours is a great future in our field.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career.

Cheers, Mel

Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens, and is Senior Acquisitions Editor with Pulp Literature Press.

If you enjoy reading Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, get her pocket-sized writing guide, The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume, here. 

Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.