Decisions, Decisions. Saving Mental Energy for Writing.

“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits … I’m trying to pare down decisions.  I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing.  Because I have too many other decisions to make.”  Barack Obama, interviewed in Vanity Fair

All the decisions and judgements we make in our daily lives keep said lives rolling nicely along.  However, each large and small decision takes its toll on our writing powers.

Cherry Picking Decisions

Also, I like to make certain decisions.  I want to decide what I’ll be eating.  So, perhaps it’s possible to shift some decisions around, or group them.  A week’s menu put together once a week can lift the worry of what’s for supper, which can be a real judgement sapper for those of us responsible for seeing that everybody in the house stays fed and healthy.  My method is a small notebook, with a week’s rough plan on the left, and shopping lists on the right. Wastage has been greatly reduced as well.

“Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined. Otherwise, you waste someone else’s time instead of your own, which now wastes your hard-earned cash. How’s that for incentive to be effective and efficient?” ― Timothy FerrissThe 4-Hour Workweek

What decisions or judgements that an author makes daily or weekly, which don’t serve our writing or our family, can be eliminated?

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. She is 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 you through 30 days of hints and help with narrative structure.

From Pulp Literature Press

Raven Contest Deadline Extended

Due to the fact our managing editor is currently gallivanting around France, Spain and England, fiction and flash fiction authors have a few extra days to send us your stories.

Raven Short Story Contest deadline extended to October 20, 2017

We’re looking forward to reading these entries once Jen is back and recovered from sun, sand, and prosecco …

Read more about the Raven  here… 

The Raven Short Story Contest offers a $300 top prize,  print and e-publication. (Want feedback on your story?  Get a professional critique from one of the Pulp Literature editors for only $25 more.)

The Raven Short Story Contest

Show us your most scintillating treasures in the form of short fiction up to 2500 words in length and you could be the one bringing home $300 to line your nest! Enter the contest here.

Writing Goals and the Lion’s Share

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments,” Jim Rohn wrote. But it sometimes seems that the lion’s share of energy goes towards to the accomplishments side, and far less towards goals.

Today’s Goal

Because our lives are so busy, writing to-do lists can feel as if we’re setting goals. For many writers, the benefit of to-do lists is that they relieve the mind of having to remember non-writing tasks.  To-do lists make room for more writing brain power.  However, lists also tend to obscure the one vital action that’s needed, to take the next step in a writing career.  It may be worth writing a separate goal at the top of the to-dos:

What’s the one small or large thing I can do today to advance my writing career?

 Larger Picture Goals

For the larger picture, it’s well to keep the goals light and lofty.  After all, the idea is to be happy, enjoying our days as authors.  We want the freedoms and challenges that a successful writing life brings.  So, one enjoyable goal-setting exercise for longer-term goals might be:

Picture yourself at table, with friends or family, glasses of bubbly raised. What successes are they toasting for you, and you for them? 

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” –Bill Copeland

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, and is Acquisitions Editor with Pulp Literature Press.


If you enjoy reading Mel’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 you through 30 days of hints and help with narrative structure.

From Pulp Literature Press

Enter the Raven Short Story Contest

Why enter your latest short story in the Raven Short Story Contest?

Enter the Raven

With a top prize of $300, entries limited to 200, and editors eager to read your 250 to 2,000 word tale, you’ve got a great chance of bringing home a Raven prize.  

Flash Fiction geniuses take note!

Enter the Raven

Judge Brenda Carre writes gorgeous fantasy, but she loves the taste of different styles of storytelling and reads avidly across the genres.

More good news: your entry fee of $20  includes a $17.99 value 1-year digital subscription to Pulp Literature, full of more great reads all year long.

Enter the Raven

Mutiple entries welcome. We can’t wait to read them.

Cheers from your Pulp Literature Press Editors

Writers’ Strengths, Writers’ Targets

A Writer’s Strengths

Regarding writers’ strengths, It’s helpful to know what work our inner editors can manage on their own, and what aspect of a narrative requires our full attention.

Take for example writers who excel at exchanges of power in dialogue.  Authors with this particular superpower may find their minds popping up unexpectedly with revisions notes. “I don’t think this supporting character would react that way in Act 2, that’s more of an Act 1 comment.”  No matter what stage a manuscript is at, we ignore these casual mind-notes for revision at our peril.

A Writer’s Targets

However, no inner editor knows everything. Identifying the skill that spoils the party is a vital concern, especially if a writer is finding that stories are returning unaccepted.  The top reason I reject stories by good writers, for example, is that the central conflict is slow to emerge.  If this might be the case, then rather than thinking, Well, CS Lewis took his time to develop the story or Okay, I’ll start the story in the middle of the action (not a good move, equating action with conflict), it may be worth studying works where the conflict is not slow to emerge.

For example, a writer may make a study of debut novel or emerging writer prizewinners’ first pages ( see look inside on Amazon).  It’s fascinating to see how they get the central conflict up front without sacrificing a well-paced set-up.  Take notes of great beginnings and best first sentences as if for a master class.  With so much on our plates, thank goodness our brains love learning.

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 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 you through 30 days of hints and help with narrative structure.

From Pulp Literature Press

Rest, Change, Revive … Seasonally

One of our greatest statesmen has said that a change of work is the best rest.  So it is. – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

Changes in season bring with them some excellent thinking time.  Schedules change up in these months, and sometimes ideas for projects shake loose at the same time.

As well, new genres may present themselves.  An essayist writes a song.  A literary master finds the gateway to speculative fiction.  A mystery writer pens a thriller or a romantic comedy.  Maybe it’s just the slight lifting of the heat, or a lightening of the load that a change in the weather brings, which frees up a mind’s busy section to think about something new.

Do I contradict myself?  Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes. ― Walt Whitman

I love my genres, and I’d never change permanently for change’s sake, but only to pursue other passions.  And, returning to paragraph two of this post, maybe that’s the only song the essayist will ever write.  Still, that song changes forever the way the writer approaches essays when he or she returns to them.

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours.  And the people there see you differently, too.  Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

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


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 you through 30 days of hints and help with narrative structure.

From Pulp Literature Press

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

Outlining, a Fractal Approach

Outlining is fractal, like a rocky coastline. The jagged water’s edge looks similar—not identical, just very like—if seen from space, an airplane, a tower, a rooftop, or from a crouching position at the water’s edge. Story sections also look similar at different planning elevations.

Outlining Sections

Whether it’s the 7-volume arc, the single novel, the act, or the scene, it’s the same from varied perspectives. Great stories include the set-up, hard choices and sacrifices, learning and transforming, transfers of power, darkest moments, and great rewards.

Outlining Time Savers

Because sections are similar in structure, we can save  drafting time by carrying outlining templates. These might be graphic organizers we’ve developed ourselves, or various outline styles we’ve learned from experts, or a combination of the two.

Outlining Math

“1,500 to 3,000 words a week drafted to your outline, gives you 70,000 to 140,000 words a year.” – The Writer’s Boon Companion

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

Cheers, Mel

Note: map detail from Allaigna’s Song: Overture, by JM Landels.  Get this marvellous fantasy read from Pulp Literature Press, here.

You can’t escape magic when it’s in your blood …

When Allaigna was seven she almost sang her baby brother to sleep — forever.  She may not be heir to her mother’s titles and secrets, but she has inherited her grandmother’s dangerous talent for singing music into magic.  As her education proceeds from nursery to weapons ground to the rank of royal page, it becomes increasingly hard to keep her heritage and abilities hidden.

The original map was created by world-builder Scott Fitzgerald Gray and illustrated by Mel Anastasiou.

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

From Pulp Literature Press

Designing a Great Life Plan

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.  And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much. –Jim Rohn

In every profession, success experts agree:  set your course.  If not, not only do we writers not get done what we dream of doing, but we end up engaging in a lot of peripheral activities we don’t enjoy.  That won’t get us far.

Daily Life Plan Design

That means writing out goals.  And authors do. But how many of us write our goals every day?  Long term and short term.  We’re all different, but one powerful daily practice is to

  1. Visualize the highest, grandest dream in a writing career for a moment.
  2. Identify with painstaking accuracy the very next 20-minute step in that direction.

It’s a shiny bit of knowledge to carry about, that one small but vital “next thing”.  And of course our “grandest dreams” are completely portable.

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


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

From Pulp Literature Press

The Writer’s Boon Companion is a quiet, thoughtful chap.  Boon offers daily hints and exercises to support your narrative along its road to completion.  You’ll also find generous servings of motivation and philosophy to help you forge ahead over 30 days of drafting towards a completed novel or novella. This writer’s journal offers space for goals, reflection, outlines, and offers what no other writing guide can, the future visions of a steam-powered robot.”

And, coming soon, The Writer’s Friend and Confidante, paperback version. This new 30-day guide from Pulp Literature Press was inspired by the editors’ admiration for the strength, endurance, and talent of NANOWRIMO writers, as they rock Novembers from year to year.

 

In the Mood to Write, Simply Because I Have Coffee

Self-discipline rarely goes amiss, but what if a writer examines a great writing mood and figures out how to encourage it. This way we can plan not only a time for writing but a practical strategy for getting in the mood for writing as well.

Getting in the Mood

Everybody is different, of course. I’ve heard good writing moods encouraged by:

  1. Spending time alone in a cafe, a huge hot drink to hand, with instrumentals playing
  2. Drafting an individual project in good company, (with writing friends, my personal favourite, using Dale Adams Segal’s The Hour Stories)
  3. Leading into writing time by writing out a favourite poem or paragraph
  4. Going for a walk to the library, taking a single task and no more, and finishing the walk after that bit is written
  5. Phoning a writing friend to encourage and be encouraged, having set a date to do so
  6. Placing stickers on a calendar
  7. Setting a timer for 30 minutes, and pressing the start button at the moment we begin typing
  8. Chunking down the next step in a work-in-progress to its next step, so that it appears ridiculously easy and pleasant

Keeping Control of Days and Moods

Each of these spirit enhancers have in common the feeling that we are in complete control of our days and our moods. Not a bad way to live our writing lives.

“Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while one is working.” – Henri Matisse

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


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

From Pulp Literature Press

Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens.

Nicholas Christian, ‘A Wassail in Ink’

We are delighted to publish Nicholas Christian’s poem ‘A Wassail in Ink’ in Issue 15 of Pulp Literature.  We are even more delighted that he has provided another version of the poem, which he has agreed to publish here on the website.

A Wassail in Ink

by Nicholas Christian

Here is one beginning: an Ocean of Vietnam;
bottom rim stiff with starch grinding like rough glass
against an old belt buckle, eyes sweeping and moving
in rhythm through the dark of a stone spiral street.

And there the cavalier waited, iron-red mouth brushing
your waist and Avery Colt laughed into beer with October
promises before the night church of Kansas knew even spoiled honey
is sweet in black heels high under sconces of electric tallow.

Our canoe was carved for sinking, certain your wet shoes remember
how to walk into the dusk of an old stranger’s bread, and gun-fire
has come to mean tasting the vanilla whorl of water lilies.

And some braveries are the old tears stranded and hungry
given to island sand, words taken by the wind returned possessions
with the rain, grown thick and resonant as stretching pelicans—
we’ve landed on Bluebeard’s birch table, sure in opening one more door

the joys of hearing Rumi ask what have I ever lost by dying?
What choice but to sentence shining with fat our piles of bones

to the burning wood; now there is space for the tapestry of your back
to fit into my hand—this learning language through the body
sits so close to the future there is only the dance of it.

Which is all to say: these places are maps black from all this spilled ink
collecting in my cup full of little crows I’ve brought to your lips,
meaning nothing more than we are seven words written when not looking.

We think the poem is superb in both its forms.  What do you think?  You can find Issue 15 here if you don’t already have it.  We’d love to hear from you.

Nicholas Christian’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in TAB, The Lindenwood Review, Cobalt Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Off the Coast, Poetry Quarterly, Poetry City, USA, and elsewhere. His work explores the significance of world mythology and initiatory rites, and further what it means to live in a modern place and age where they are sorely needed while frequently absent.  He will be travelling to Goa, India in February 2018 to take part in a panel on South American mythology for Roots, a celebration of Portuguese language and literature.