Tag Archives: CC Humphreys

Award Season!

We are pleased as punch to announce our nominations for the Pushcart Prize.  How did we pick them?  It was hard.  Have you even looked at a fantastic menu and couldn’t decide what to order?  Twice Sue’s had the pleasure of dining at renowned Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver.  Both times she asked the owner which dish he’d recommend, and his reply was the same:  how can a parent choose his favourite child?  As publishers, we find ourselves in a similarly impossible position trying to pick favourites, but by studying the inclinations of each prize, we recommend the stories we think stand the best chance of winning each competition.  The Pushcarts are geared to literary fiction, which we have in each issue, but we proved our cross-genre dedication by nominating a literary vampire story. (Think they’ll notice?) The competition is fierce for these awards, but we know these stories are gems. And win or lose, we trust the authors of these stories will feel how much we value them in our magazine.

Nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2015:Victorygirlbutterfly

We have also have suggested the following stories for Imaginarium 4, an anthology of Canadian Spec Fic by Chizine.

In addition, ‘Blackthorne & Rose: Agents of DIRE’ by KG McAbee has been submitted for a Bram Stoker Award.

Stay tuned for the announcement of our Journey Prize nominations.  And hey, all you members of the SFWA, now’s your chance to be a hero and nominate a favourite fantasy or science fiction story for a Nebula Award!  If you’d like a complete list of our stories in that genre, just let us know.  We’d also like to hear from you if there is one or more of our stories you think ought to be submitted for other prizes.

Finally, the estimable CC Humphreys has finished judging our very own Raven Cover Story Contest  and we’ll be announcing the winners on Monday.  To whet your appetite, here, in no particular order, is the list of finalists:

  • ‘The Hemisphere Stone’ by Mike Glyde
  • ‘Dear Louis’ by Sara Cedeno
  • ‘Claws In’ by Ace Baker
  • ‘Odd Jobs’ by KL Mabbs
  • ‘Family Relics’ by Katherine Wagner
  • ‘The Ravens’ by Anna Belkine
  • ‘The Inner Light’  by Krista Wallace
  • ‘The Jealous Valley’ by Kiril Lavarevski

Congratulations to all these authors and best of luck in the final judgment!

Contest Alert!

Pesky Summer Jobs by Tais Teng
Pesky Summer Jobs by Tais Teng

Only a fortnight until the Ravens come home to roost! Our story challenge is to write a piece to link with this painting by Tais Teng. In addition to the $500 prize, the winner will be our Issue 6 featured author, an honour shared with award winning authors CC Humphreys, JJ Lee, Joan MacLeod, Susanna Kearsley, and Eileen Kernaghan. If this sounds like good company, send us your story soon! We have a limit of 100 entrants. Your story needn’t capture all the elements in this fantastical painting, but should tie in to at least one of the visual or symbolic references.  Final judge will be CC Humphreys, so sharpen your quills and write!

“Hide!”, Plague and the Monkeysphere












We’ve got a Flash Fiction contest happening, and we’re looking forward to reading the entries. I’m full of admiration for you Flash Fiction writers. FF has to grab its readers almost from word one, hold them tight and send them off, tingling, after a few moments’ read.

Mind you, a gripping start is arguably necessary to most fiction nowadays. So, how do skilled storytellers achieve an immediate lock on the reader? In previous blogs we’ve talked about nailing the central conflict while setting us firmly in time, place and point of view. As well, many writers set their hero down right in the middle of the action. Danger ought to work, but often it doesn’t, because action alone isn’t enough to make us care.

Why not? I asked myself.  I recalled reading up on the Monkeysphere idea, which states that most or possibly all of us are only emotionally equipped to care deeply about a certain number of people within our circle. (for more on that, visit  http://www.cracked.com/article_14990_what-monkeysphere.html). Then, how do you cause a reader to drag your hero into his circle, so closely that he cares enough to read on?

Let’s say your hero is fighting her or his way out of a car accident or gunfight or whatever the action may be. You haven’t had time to set up a fascinating, flawed character that we can identify with and care about (although clever dialogue can help, and often does in movies that start in a hail of gunfire).  One answer is, if you don’t have time to build a character up front, then what you need is heroic resonance. I was fascinated to see how Ian Rankin begins Hide and Seek (Orion, 1990), smack in the middle of the action.

Chapter 1


He was shrieking now, frantic, his face drained of all colour. She was at the top of the stairs, and he stumbled towards her, grabbing her by the arms, propelling her downstairs with unfocussed force…”

Rankin has skillfully made me care by having one imperiled character desperate to save, not himself, but somebody else. “Hide!” panic gives us heroic resonance that Help me! panic can’t easily achieve.

Then we have C.C. Humphreys, who this month released Plague (I love writing that!). He wrote one of the all time great starts in his book, that seems to take literally George M. Cohan’s advice to get the protagonist up a tree and throw rocks at him. His hero is in mortal danger as The French Executioner (‪McArthur & Company, 2001)begins:

“It was unseasonably cold for a late May night but the former occupant of the gibbet was too dead to care and his replacement too unconscious.”

 But these are only two highly skilled examples of one sort of beginning.

There’s an unlimited number of brilliant ways to start a Flash Fiction piece, of course, and I can’t wait to read yours.

Mel Anastasiou

You’ll find our contest page here and on the tab at the top of this page.

CC Humphreys New Novel Coming Soon: Plague

cchumphreysportrait.Author. Actor. Swordsman. That’s the title of CC Humphreys’s website. http://cchumphreys.com

He’s got a new novel coming out on July 15th.  Watch for Plague —and for chances to hear Chris read from it. Because CC Humphreys gives one hell of a reading.

With one sweep of his blue-green beacon of a gaze, he casts you hugger-mugger into the fray of his thriller. Now, you’re tottering in your padded jerkin on London’s South Embankment, nose to nose with a gang of armed Elizabethan thugs. He thrusts a sword and buckler your way, and the conflict overtakes you. It’s fight or die….

I love CC Humphreys’s books, and by a very good fortune, he enjoys writing them. Not that rapidly paced, well-researched storytelling is a doddle. He likens writing to climbing a mountain: step by step, and don’t look down. But it’s exciting, too, like his stories.

I last heard him read in London’s Samuel French Ltd, Bookstore—established 1830—a great venue whereat to entertain his listeners with stories of his quite epic career: how he became a Shakespearian actor, how he wrote his first play in 24 hours and won first prize, and how the idea for his first full-length novel occurred to him: there was CC Humphreys, chinning himself on gym bars, and noticing in the mirror as he did so that he had quite a long neck. Easy work for the axeman, he thought. Or… for the swordsman. From there, it was a leather-booted leap of inspiration to six-fingered Anne Boleyn and the swordsman hired to behead her. The French Executioner, which has one of the best opening lines ever penned. Look it up. On his site: cchumphreys.com

And never miss one of the man’s readings.

Also by CC Humphreys:

Shakespeare’s Rebel, Orion, 2013

A Place Called Armageddon, Orion, 2012

The Hunt of the Unicorn, Knopf, 2011

Vlad: the Last Confession, Orion, 2009

The Runestone Saga, Knopf, 2006 – 2008

The Jack Absolute Series, Orion, 2003 – 2006

The French Executioner Series, Orion, 2002 – 2003



PULP pairings

Those of you who have been following Pulp Literature from its inception may have noticed a certain malty, hoppy flavour hereabouts.   It seems only right, therefore, that we play the part of good cicerones and offer you beer pairings to go with the fare in our first issue.

Where the Angels Wait by CC Humphreys.  Without a doubt the beer to quaff with this one is a cerveza, pronounced “thairvaitha”, and not from one of those ubiquitous bottles you find all over the liquor store shelves.  No, you need an Alhambra, served cold while you take refuge from the merciless Spanish sun in the shade of an orange tree.  Take care, though.  This one goes down so smooth you won’t notice you’re drunk till you stand and try to walk away.

Stella Ryman and the Case of the Third Option by Mel AnastasiouWhen drinking with Stella it doesn’t do to put on airs.  You’ll want a no-nonsense beer.  Nothing hoppy, nothing chilled, and certainly nothing with fruit in it.  A decent pint of ESB will do nicely, hand-drawn from a cask, if you please.

Only the Loons Know by SL Nickerson.  After the apocalypse it’ll be good to know university students.  They, if no-one else, will be back to making beer in no time.  The eclectic bunch of survivors will all have their own far-flung cultural ingredients to add to the mix, but whatever comes out of the vat will be quintessentially Canadian.  One only hopes they don’t use Lake Ontario water.

Of Siege and Sword by Tyner Gillies.  This is one you’ll want to drink with the lads.  Lager, and lots of it.

Glass Curtain by Sue Pieters.  Sophisticated, mature and bittersweet.  What better to match the floral overtones, the old- and new-world sensibilities, and the lingering poignant flavour of this story than a Westcoast IPA?

The Mechanics by Angela Melick.  A different kind of dystopia needs a different kind of beer.  We recommend a Japanese can.  Whether it’s super-dry or malty is your choice, but make sure it’s from a vending machine.

Allaigna’s Song: Overture by JM Landels.   Allaigna is underage, so only give her small beer, well watered.  Lauresa has exotic tastes and will drink something different every time: frambozen, wheat ale, kriek … surprise her.  But if you’re going to sit in a smoky tavern with Irdaign and hear the future told, you’ll need a well-aged stout to stiffen your spine.

Join us at the Launch Party on December 20th as we raise glasses of fine R&B Brewing Ale and toast these stories into life.




First issue first lines

As a teaser for our first issue, here are the first few lines from all the stories in issue 1.  See if you can match them with their authors!

  1. “Live or die, live or die! That’s all anybody does around here. For once, I wish somebody would come up with a third option.”
  2. Keld tensed as he heard the clinking footsteps and huffing breath of the enemy.  It wasn’t the anticipation of the coming fight that made him tense, it was the bloody hallway.
  3. “Failed equipment located. Searching … no procedure available.
  4. Sitting on the edge of the bed now, listening.  A door opened, shut, someone has come and gone, that much is certain.
  5. If you walk down the grand staircase of Castle Osthegn, you will see a family portrait.
  6. “Why is the grass always greener in Sally’s yard?” I ask this out loud, and my husband takes my question literally.
  7. You must understand, post-apocalypse Hamilton couldn’t get much worse than pre-apocalypse Hamilton.

Here are the stories they come from:

a. Where the Angels Wait, by CC Humphreys

b. Stella Ryman and the Case of the Third Option, by Mel Anastasiou

c. Only the Loons Know, by SL Nickerson

d. Allaigna’s Song: Overture, by JM Landels

e. Glass Curtain, by Sue Pieters

f. The Mechanics, by Angela Melick

g. Of Seige and Sword, by Tyner Gillies

Post your answers in the comments below.  The first person to correctly match all seven will win a signed limited edition JJ Lee paper doll, drawn by the amazing Kris Sayer.

A snippet of JJ's costumes -- now in glorious colour!
A snippet of JJ’s costumes — now in glorious colour!

And of course, if don’t guess correctly but are still jonesing for that doll, you can pledge at the $50 level on our kickstarter page.  There are still a few left, but you need to hurry — the campaign only runs till November 5th!

Featured Author: CC Humphreys

We don't recruit most of our writers with a buckler to the back of the head.  Honest!
We don’t recruit most of our writers with a buckler to the back of the head. Honest!

Chris (CC) Humphreys was the first author I approached to contribute to Pulp Literature back in the heat of summer when the idea was just simmering.  I caught him at a weak moment:  we had just spent an hour rehearsing our swordfight for the spectacular Bard on the Beach launch of his latest novel, Shakespeare’s Rebel, and were nursing our aching muscles with a couple of beers at the Ascot on Pender.

He cocked his head and a small gleam appeared in his eye.  “I’ve got something” he said.  “It’s not historical though, and it needs a bit of cleaning up.”

I was sold.  Anyone wanting to read Chris’s historical books has a dozen to choose from.  To be able to offer something different from a well-known author, now that is a treat!  And the cleaning up didn’t worry me.  A writer who can put out a quality book every year for the past decade certainly has the chops to tidy up a short story in a matter of months.

It’s possible he may have regretted offering it up, especially when I was politely clearing my throat to see how it was coming while he was finishing edits on his next book, Plague.  However, from the author’s note that accompanied ‘Where the Angels Wait’, I think you can tell he’s pleased with the end result:

CC Humphreys
CC Humphreys

“It has been fascinating revisiting a piece of work I wrote some years ago, before I became a professional writer. I remember being very proud of ‘Where the Angels Wait’ at the time. It seemed to say exactly what I wanted to say at the time, explore what was concerning me. Now… well, it needed some work. I got back into the spirit of it. I also was very aware of all the ticks I had as a young writer. The energy was there but the execution was a little… slipshod?

     “One of the big lessons I’ve learned as a novelist is economy. Saying what you want to say in less. Leaving things unsaid. I’ve probably cut one third of the original and think its much better for it. I’ve also recast it in the present tense when the original was in my more customary past. The story called for it, that immediacy of experience. I wouldn’t have known how to do that at the time.

    “I have to say, I am delighted with the result – and want to thank my editors for this opportunity to go back in time. I wouldn’t want to live there now, as writer or person. But it was good to visit.”

We’re not just delighted — we’re thrilled with the result!  And we can’t wait to show it to you in Issue no. 1 of Pulp Literature!