Featured Author: JJ Lee

It’s December, and Pulp Literature Issue 17, Winter 2018 is here! Featured author JJ Lee’s ‘Desdemone’ opens our winter issue with an exquisite Edwardian haunting of a most personal kind.

Multiple-award-nominated memoirist JJ Lee is author of The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit.  Every year, following in the footsteps of ‘Fireside Al’ Maitland, he  presents a Christmas ghost story on CBC Radio in British Columbia, and ‘Desdemone’ was his Christmas 2016 oeuvre.

Pulp Literature Issue 17, Winter 2018

We’re delighted to be able to bring this story to a print audience.  This is JJ’s third short story for Pulp Literature, the first being the dystopian Spec Fic piece ‘Built to Love’ in Issue 2 and the Yuletide Lovecraft, Moorcook, Nazi mashup ‘The Man in the Long Black Coat’ in Issue 8.

You can save $2 by pre-ordering our Winter 2018 issue here … and then get JJ to sign it for you when you pick it up at the Winter Launch Party, Monday Dec 11th from 5:00 – 7:00pm at the Cottage Bistro on Main St.

To get you in the JJ mood, here’s an excerpt from Issue 8’s ‘The Man in the Long Black Coat’, a holiday story with a Lovecraftian twist:

 

The Man in the Long Black Coat

A Chthonic Christmas Tale by JJ Lee

Silesia
December 1944

I don’t remember if Mother’s eyes said it or if she spoke the words, “He’s just a boy.” I do remember feeling anger and burning shame.  I was eleven years old, the eldest. Father had been gone for years.  The weekly newsreel Die Deutsche Wochenschau showed boys my age working in factories, making shells and gun parts.  In school we were told to be “slim and strong, swift as greyhounds, tough as leather, and hard as Krupp steel.”  I thought I was until I saw Mother’s eyes that night in the winter of 1944.

Herr Mundt didn’t care.  He had arrived from the larger, Lower Silesian town of G______ in search of what he called ‘recruits.’  He dressed in the makeshift manner of the Volkssturm, the People’s Army.  He wore scuffed and muddy railroad boots, brown breeches, and an armband over his grey coat sleeve.  On his collar, Herr Mundt had pinned officer pips.  He topped his head with the kind of hat a butcher would wear.  His attire was theatrical, ersatz, outlandish, wildly officious, and, because he seemed so out of control, menacing.  From his gaze I wanted to hide.

“He has five minutes to gather warm clothes and boots, if he has any,” said Herr Mundt.

He stepped back into the snow and shadows and strode off in the direction of the neighbours.  Mother shut the door.  My legs trembled as I climbed up the stairs and went into the bedroom.  I took off my pyjamas and folded them.  I tucked them under my pillow.  I began to put on as much clothes as I could.  I stuffed more warm things into a canvas bag.  I went to the other side of the bed and leaned down to kiss Lena, my sister, on her forehead.  Her eyes opened.

“You should be asleep,” I said.

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know.”

“Take this.”

She pulled from under the covers a tin soldier, my oldest, most treasured toy.

“Where did you find it?”  I fought the urge to snatch it from her and I held out my hand.  She put it in my palm.  I saw the chipped paint on its shako, the blue on its tunic nearly worn through from play, the bent rifle, and the blankness of its face.  It made me think of Father.

“Keep it until I come back.”

I tucked her in, kissed her again, and went downstairs.  Mother said, “You can hide in the forest.”

“I don’t think they will let me.”

A pistol cracked.  A woman’s wail cut through the night.  A minute later, Herr Mundt thumped on our door.  “Frau Steiner.”

Mother clambered into the cellar and came back up holding hunting boots.  “They’re still too big,” I said.

“It doesn’t matter.  You need boots.”

“Frau Steiner.”  Herr Mundt hammered on the door.  I put them on.  I didn’t have time to say goodbye to Mother.

I stumbled after Herr Mundt to a small truck idling in front of the church.  He opened the back and waved his pistol.  I climbed in.  Three other boys from the village — Jens, Rudy, and Zeydl — sat shivering on the side benches.

“Stay in here until we let you out.  If any of you try to run, you will wish you hadn’t.”  Herr Mundt shut us in and we rode without speaking.  At first I could hardly see, but my eyes adjusted to the dimness.  The walls were wood slats with no space between them.  A tarpaulin covered the top.  In one corner, there was a small tear that flapped in the wind.  Through it fell the palest light from the night sky …

Read the rest of the story in Pulp Literature Issue 8, Autumn 2015.

 

Averting Writer’s Vertigo

Sometimes we go a bit crazy with the work, and for a while there’s no vertigo and everything is fine. We’re in final edits for one project, another is in development, and a third is at 30,000 words.  And then, without warning, the cliffs of story loom above and descend below. It all seems too much. We think, maybe there’s an easier way to live. (And of course there are many easier ways, but we don’t write because it’s easy.)

Vertigo. It seems like a long way down.

We take a day off. A month. And pretty soon we’re calling it writers’ block and scowling at
the laundry (or equivalent) which somehow takes over our creative spirit and becomes central to life. Don’t ask me why I picked laundry here. Okay, maybe I’m waxing a bit autobiographical.

Four steps to help avert writing vertigo

  1. Write or say aloud one sentence that describes your ideal career. (Resist getting all writerly-ironic or apologetic about this.) For example, “I am a world-class fantasy writer, and I reward my many readers’ expectations with pure entertainment in two published books a year.”
  2. Identify the project that most advances that career.
  3. Ask, what’s the smallest, certain step forward I can take towards that goal?  For example, identify the darkest hour and hero’s sacrifice. Set a timer for 10, 20 or 40 minutes. Do the thing. Then leave it. Now, everything else done that day is gravy.
  4. Next day, back to step one.

I mean, there’s still going to be laundry. But clean laundry and a happy writers’ heart? Not a bad outcome for a better today.

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

Author News: Anat Rabkin

We love the eclectic nature of our magazine. Literary fiction, poetry, Sci-fi, short comics, and so much more come together in each issue to offer a wide variety for the diverse palettes we are serving.  Sometimes, the appearance of comics in a literary magazine can come  as a shock, but we believe that when words and images come together, another layer of depth is added to the story.

Anat Rabkin

Anat Rabkin is one talented artist and writer whose work has been featured in Issue 9 with ‘Forbidden Fruit’ and Issue 13 with ‘It Rained Then, Too’. Click here to browse back issues… 

She is also the author and illustrator of the webcomic Seraphim: Tales of Love and Courage, set to return from hiatus before the end of 2017!

Currently, Anat is hard at work on a Kickstarter campaing with Cloudscape Comics.  Her comic, ‘Soundblind’, is set to appear in their anthology, Swan Song, a massive, 12×12 anthology of comics about music, and life, and changing the world.

Find the full line-up and run-down of the campaign here

Anat Rabkin returns to Pulp Literature in the upcoming Issue 17, Winter 2018 with her first prose-only short story, ‘For the Love of Grey.’  It’s take on what awaits us in perdition, and one woman’s determination to remain positive.  You can pre-order issue 17 with a $2 discount until December 10th.

Meet Anat at the Winter Launch

Join us to launch Issue 17 at the Cottage Bistro on Main Street.  Anat will be reading from ‘For the Love of Grey’, and there will also be readings from JJ Lee, Emily Osborne, Misha Handman and the winners of the 2017 Cedric prize.

Winter Book Launch
Monday 11 December, 5:00 – 7:00pm
The Cottage Bistro
4470 Main Street, Vancouver BC

Free!  RSVP here

 

 

 

Membership has its Rewards

You may have noticed we are not running a Kickstarter campaign this year.  Instead we are relying on regular subscriptions, our Patreon page, and our new Pulp Literati memberships to keep the magazine afloat in 2018 and beyond.

Many of you have already switched to one of these three subscription methods, for which we thank you!  If you haven’t yet renewed and are wondering which method is best for you, here are the pros and cons of each:

Regular Subscription

  • Least expensive option
  • Prices are in Canadian dollars
  • One payment per year (will automatically renew unless you tell Paypal otherwise)
  • No-frills.  All you get is your quarterly issue in print or ebook.  But that’s still a big issue of fabulous stories, artwork, and poetry delivered to your door or inbox each season

Patreon

  • Prices are in US dollars, so slightly more expensive
  • You can choose your payment amount from $1 a month and up
  • Monthly payments are easier to budget around
  • No renewal hassles
  • Access to Patron-only blog content, and patron-only submissions inbox
  • An assortment of gifts at ascending levels of support, including post cards, colouring books, writing guides, manuscript critiques and more
  • The warm fuzzy feeling of providing the monthly support that ensures we keep operating year round

Pulp Literati Membership

  • Prices are in Canadian dollars
  • Memberships start at $5 per month (choose Patreon for smaller amounts)
  • Monthly payments are easier to budget around
  • No renewal hassles
  • An assortment of gifts at ascending levels of support, including post cards, colouring books, writing guides, manuscript critiques and more
  • By not using a crowdfunding middleman, more of your money goes directly to Pulp Literature Press
  • The warm fuzzy feeling of providing the monthly support that ensures we keep operating year round

People have asked us which method we prefer they use.  The answer is, we honestly don’t mind.  We are grateful for your support however it comes, and we want you to choose the method that works best for you.

Cheers, and thank you so much for your support!

Short Fiction Submissions Open till December 5th

Calling all writers!  We have a very short submissions opening period on right now!

For this period we are specifically looking for

  • Science Fiction.  We like all forms of spec fic, from alternate history to space opera.  But it’s been a while since we’ve had much good old fashioned hard SF come through the inbox.  Send us your best!
  • Mystery. We’re always well-served with the cozy Stella Rymans and the time-travelling Seven Swans, but we’d also like to see some shorter whodunits. Have you got an intriguing and original mystery that’s 5000 words or under?  Send it in.
  • Stories by Indigenous Canadians.  Since most of us in BC are guests on First Nations’ territories, we’d love to print more stories by the descendants of Canada’s first people.

Submission guidelines, form, and pay rates here

Please note that due to the large number of submissions we receive we can’t reply personally to every submission.  If you submitted in a previous opening period and haven’t heard from us, we are unable to take the story.  If we have contacted you to say its still under consideration, be patient.   Sometimes it takes well over a year to find the right issue for a story we like.

 

There’s still time to enter EVENT Mag’s Spec Writing Contest!

EVENT Magazine presents a smashing new contest for writers who like to experiment:

The “Let Down Your Hair” Speculative Writing Contest

Are you tired of magazines telling you they just don’t print science fiction?  Are you worried your poem has too many goblins to be eligible for such-and-such contest?  Fret no more, because here is a contest where the only limit (other than the 1800 word limit) is your wicked imagination.  Here’s your chance to write work featuring time travel, alchemy, super powers, ghosts, dystopian societies, teleportation, robots with human emotions, humans with robot emotions, talking dogs, talking dolls, mutants, cruel wizards, very old men with enormous wings …

But hurry! The contest deadline is November 20. It’s open to any genre, and the Grand Prize is $1,000, with a $250 Runner-Up (judged by Vancouver’s own Amber Dawn).

Full contest details are here

Raven Short Story Contest Winners 2017

No need to hold your breath any longer:  the results are in!

The Raven Short Story Contest winner for 2017

is Elaine McDivitt with her story, ‘The Tape’.

‘The Tape’ caught judge Brenda Carre in its powerful stream of consciousness .

“Who does not remember the striking cover of The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer? It provided a visual punch that the story made good on right to the end.  I found the circular theme of tape in Virginia’s haunting narration a gripping read. The unique cadence really supported the sense of horror and realization unlocked at a garage sale.” – Brenda Carre

Coming in as a close runner up, Kerry Craven‘s story, ‘Meggie’.

“This was a very interesting fairy-tale-esque exploration of the dehumanization of Dementia. Through Meggie’s surprising transformation into a new being she is able to move past grief at least for awhile. I loved the Baba Yaga quality of the magical young woman with the sack full of all possibilities. I would love to see the dialect trimmed somewhat. With a bit of editing this has the ‘whiskermarks’ of a fine story.” – Brenda Carre

Both of these stories will appear in Pulp Literature Issue 18, Spring 2018, and the winners take home $300 and $75 respectively as their prizes.

Honorable Mentions go to Alex Reece Abbott for ‘My Brother Paulie: A Domestic Space Odyssey’, and Charity Tahmaseb for ‘The Potato Bug War’.

Congratulations to all of these writers, and special thanks to judge Brenda Carre! Pulp Literature Press is grateful for the abundance of talent and hard work that was poured into all of the submissions for the 2017 Raven Short Story Contest.

Our next contest, the Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest for stories up to 750 words long, opens January 1st, 2017.  We hope to see you there!

Track your submissions at Duotrope

The 2017 Raven Contest Shortlist

The big announcement for the Raven Short Story Contest is just around the corner! For now, we are excited to announce the incredible authors who have made it on the Raven 2017 shortlist, alphabetically by author first name.

The Raven Short Story Contest Shortlist

Alex Reece Abbott, ‘My Brother Paulie: A Domestic Space Odyssey’

Brian Dang, ‘Edgeless’

C.E. Mandybura, ‘Monkey Days’

Charity Tahmaseb, ‘The Potato Bug War’

Daniel Beaumont, ‘Shifting Bodies’

Dustin He, ‘Carrion Feeder’s Pedigree’

Elaine McDivitt, ‘The Tape’

Jessica Oesterle, ‘Respira’

Joni Hobbs, ‘Lavender Rhy and The Moon Room’

Kerry Craven, ‘Meggie’

Judge Brenda Carre’s chosen winners will be announced tomorrow, November 15th! Until then, we would like to thank everyone for their submissions and we wait alongside you with bated breath …

Everything Changes in Publishing. Thank Goodness.

Everything changes in this world of writing and publishing.  The truth remains: there’s never been a better time to write and publish.  We’re told the opposite, of course. However, if you drive your time machine back thirty years or eighty years, you’ll hear the same old discouraging comments.  I’m convinced that could one accompany Louisa May Alcott to her first interviews with publishers, we’d hear them say that it’s all much harder now than it used to be.

Changes Past

Penguin Books have always been my publishing heroes.  Nearly anything they publish is worth reading, and if I ever in my life threw one of their paperbacks across the room, it was only to utter a heartfelt, Damn, I’ll never write that well.  And then pick it up again. (And vow to try until my dying day to write that well).

Changes Bring Opportunity

When Penguin started out, with the idea of getting excellent books out for sale for the same price as ten cigarettes, the naysayers had a lot to say.  “Nobody will stock paperback reprints, for they are useless, grubby, dog-eared calumnies of paper and card,” they sang.  (I paraphrase).  Naysayers predicted rapid failure.  Penguin smiled and sent a young staffer to the Regents Park Zoo, where he drew the first penguin logo.  A decade later this same staffer captained a WW2 submarine and wrote about it (grippingly), and Penguin published that book as their thousandth paperback.

Changes Within Our Control

All times are great times to be a writer, because it’s not about the era.  It’s about the attitude.

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. Coming soon, The Writer’s Friend and Confidante: Thirty Days of Narrative Achievement. Designed with Nanowrimo in mind, but works any thirty days you’ve got.

From Pulp Literature Press

 

The Raven Short Story Contest Longlist

Thank you to all you amazing short fiction writers for entering this year’s Raven Short Story Contest. The preliminary judges read this treasure trove of storytelling with great relish and appreciation. We are pleased to announce, alphabetically by author first name, the longlist for the Raven.

The Raven Short Story Contest Longlist

Note: if a name appears twice, that means two stories by the same author have made the list.  Double congratulations!

Alex Reece Abbot
Alex Reece Abbot
Brian Dang
C.E. Mandybura
Caleb Jackson
Carolyn Drake
CE Mandybura
Charity Tahmaseb
Colin Thornton
Daniel Beaumont
Debra Catanzaro
Dustin He
Elaine McDivitt
Elizabeth Barton
Emily Lonie
Hannah van Didden
Heidi L. Waterman
Jackie Carmichael
Jeanine Manji
Jen Bingham
Jessica Oesterle
Joni Hobbs
Joshua Visser
Kathy Joyce
Kerry Craven
KT Wagner
Larry Ivkovich
Liza Potvin
Mark Cameron
Michael Elliott
Peter Dickinson
Richard Arbib
Rob Greene
S. Ondrack
William Kaufmann

Good luck to all these writers, as we go through the difficult job of paring the list down to ten for judge Brenda Carre.  The winners will be announce November 15th.