Bob Thurber has released his final thoughts on this year’s Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize!
Runner up: ‘Day Three’ by Robert Runté
Winner: ‘The Angler’ by Nicholas Christian
On ‘The Angler’, Bob had this to say:
I adored this selection from the first read, and appreciated the narrative’s strong current and free-flowing authenticity on all subsequent readings.
The language of “The Angler” blisters like sunburn. The edges of this very short (under 600 words) story are prickly bright and they’ll leave blind spots on your eyes for days. Congratulations to the winner, and thank you for the enjoyable daze. Your story outshined a long, sunny list of finalists.
Double congratulations are due to Nicholas Christian for his recent marriage to the 2018 Magpie Award for Poetry winner, Kelli Allen!
You might recognize Bob Thurber from Issue 12 as our feature author, and as the returning judge for the 2018 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize judge.
Bob was recently declared legally blind, but true to form, he hasn’t let that slow him down. “I have enough ‘tunnel vision’ to still work (read & write & edit) every day, using various magnifying tools and software, though my work sessions are shorter. More stories and more books are coming.”
A big thank you once again to everyone who participated in the 2018 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize. If flash fiction drives you, set a reminder for the annual Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest, opening Jan. 1st, 2019.
Ten days and ten entries remain. We are pleased to release the Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize shortlist. Listed below are the authors whose stories will be considered, by flash-master Bob Thurber, in alphabetical order.
Amy Neufeld Jen Knox Kate Felix Kate Felix Liz Cox Liza Potvin Nicholas Christian Rob Taylor Robert Runté Ron. Lavalette
The list is shorter, and the stakes are higher. Best of luck to these ten flashes of fiction!
A hummingbird sighting always feels a little bit magical, and with the many entries for this year’s Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize, we are feeling awe-struck! We’re pleased to announce the longlist: the top 27 entries listed alphabetically by author last name. Authors listed twice have two entries in the longlist.
Alex Reece Abbott Ariel Basom Lauren Bentley Nicholas Christian Liz Cox Kate Felix Kate Felix Marissa Fischer Aleisha Hendry Terrence Huntington Jen Knox Jen Knox Ron. Lavalette Kim Martins Jenn Marx William P. Masters Gabriella Morrison Sadi Muktadir Amy Neufeld Liza Potvin Robert Runté Megan Rodgers Rob Taylor Annis Teller Annis Teller Hannah van Didden KT Wagner
Thank you to everyone who entered! The shortlist will be revealed in July, and the winners, picked by Bob Thurber, will be announced July 15th.
Looking for inspiration? Peruse these snippets from past Hummingbird Contest winners. All that furious fluttering should get the juices flowing.
2017 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize Winner, Issue 17 ‘Just Down the Hall’ by Jeanette Topar
Truth was, Mrs Cole had become a little afraid of 902. Late in the evenings she’d hear 902’s footsteps slide across the tiled hallway, hesitating outside her door. “Is this my place?” her neighbour would ask. Mrs Cole would mute the volume on her TV and hold her breath as she sat quietly in her tidy living room waiting for the woman to shuffle away. The last few times Mrs Cole had encountered her, 902 was wearing nothing but a gray slip that blended with the colour of her skin and matched her hair — she appeared little more substantial than a shadow or dust mote hovering in the hall.
2016 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize Winner, Issue 13 ‘Xuefei and his heart’ by Rebecca Wurz
Xuefei sat on a metal stool in the corner of the operating theatre. He’d been awake all night, and now, sitting in the quiet of the deserted room, he felt drowsy. He had transported the heart of the criminal executed at dawn from the prison infirmary to the university hospital’s surgical suite, built especially for this demonstration. American transplant surgeons, collaborating with Chinese colleagues, were scheduled to do the first heart transplant on Chinese soil.
2015 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize Winner, Issue 9 ‘The Last Neanderthals’ by Christina Crocker Escribano
You say, No one is going to eat us, but I know better. The path of the forest is necklaced in footprints. The surface of the snow is scuffed and bloodied. They left no remains of skin or bone, just a fistful of hair that looks like our own. We stop and watch, for a long time, as if the blood was an outline, a shadow, a spirit blooming in the ice. You say the soul lifts from the body, but I see that it doesn’t.
2014 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize Winner, Issue 5 Here I Lay Down My Heart by Rob Taylor
Hayim lifted Mima toward the dhow. The captain knelt, grabbed her by her armpits and lifted her up, then lowered her into the hull. Hayim tossed in his duffle bag and for a moment, in the thin skim of ocean and sand that skirts Bagamoyo, stood apart from all that mattered in his world. Then he hoisted himself on board. Mima was already playing with the livestock and making friends with the other children. In the weeks since their arrival in Tanzania she had learned a mouthful of Swahili and was now in full song. Samaki! Kuku! Mbuzi! she pointed and guessed, and the children laughed and nodded and were impressed. Hayim climbed atop a mound of rice bags, maybe seven or eight deep, and pressed his duffle bag into the curve of the hull, punching it here and there with his fists, pounding out their shape. Between punches images of Tel Aviv flashed in his mind — their old apartment, the table and chairs, dishes and books he’d filled it with. Those few weeks when Mima had gone to preschool and life had felt normal and the word normal had plumped with meaning. Then Hayim lay down and his mind cleared.
You remember Issues 1 and 14 feature author, CC Humphreys, don’t you? Allow us to refresh your memory … he’s the swashbuckling thespian and prolific author whose historical fiction and young adult novels have topped the charts.
Sound familiar? Well, longtime fans and newcomers alike, take note! CC Humphrey’s new historical fiction novel, Chasing the Wind, is now available through Amazon or the Penguin Random House website!
Set in 1936 during Hitler’s Olympics, Chasing the Wind tells the story of Roxy Loewen, a morally ambiguous pilot following the path of a rare painting across a politically turbulent Europe and North Africa.
Smuggler. Smoker. Aviatrix. Thief.
The dynamic Roxy Loewen is all these things and more, in this riveting and gorgeous historical fiction novel for readers of Paula McLain, Roberta Rich, Kate Morton and Jacqueline Winspear.
Jen, Mel, and Sue agree what a pleasure it was to teach at this fantastic conference! With attendance topping 150, the secret seems to be getting out about the high quality of presentations, and the personal and helpful atmosphere. Favourite highlights were blue pencil sessions, panel presentations, and the keynote by Adam Dreece entitled, “The Power of No, Damnit, I’m Doing This!”
Writers and editors alike left inspired, encouraged, and yet wondering why, with price tage of only $80 for three days of workshops, more people weren’t there. In order to ensure a full house next year, we encourage all our readers to go to the Creative Ink Festival facebook page or website to keep in touch and be ready to pounce on the 2019 early bird registration rate! The Burnaby Delta Hotel conference room holds 600… we can fill it!
“The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.”
Thank you to Literary Titan, and congratulations to all the other incredible books Stella was listed with. We’re looking forward to slapping the Literary Titan Gold star on Stella’s cover!
Writers are you coming to the Creative Ink Festival in Burnaby on the May long weekend? If not, why not? This growing festival for writers and readers is the best bang for your buck in town! With three full days of workshops, panels, blue pencils, and readings, there is something to spark the most recalcitrant muse. Plus you get to hang out with amazing authors such as Kevin Hearne and CC Humphreys.
All three Pulp Lit editors will be there, along with our amazing Communications Director Jasmin Nyack who will take charge of the table. We are very busy with panels and presentations this year, but we’ll always make time to chat in between. Here are Mel’s, Jen’s, and Sue’s scheduled appearances:
1:00pm: Designing Character Backgrounds Brenda Carre (M), Chadwick Ginther, Kevin Hearne, JM Landels, Randy McCharles You have an idea for a character, now you have to figure out how to flesh out the character. Come listen to our panelists discuss how to do this.
1:00pm: Blue Pencils Rhonda Parrish/Susan Pieters /Sylvia Taylor (red)
2:00pm: Research C.C. (Chris) Humphreys (M), Eileen Kernaghan, Susan Pieters, S.G (Sandra) Wong Research isn’t just for non-fiction writers. Every piece of fiction, no matter the genre, will contain details which, if not accurate, will throw a reader out of a story. But how do writers do research? When do they start? When do they stop? How do they wade through the quagmire of overwhelming information and choose just the right pieces to weave into their stories?
4:00pm: Slush Pile Confidential with JM Landels Learn what goes on behind the scenes at a literary press. What is the slush pile, how does it work, how long should you wait for a response? Learn what catches an editor’s eye and what can turn them off your story, and, once it’s accepted, what steps it goes through to become a published work.
4:00pm: Find Your Writer’s Voice Adam Dreece (M), Kevin Hearne, Linda DeMeulemeester, Susan Pieters What does that even mean? How do you find it and when will you know if you have found it? How do you make it one that stands out from all the rest?
7:00pm: Blue Pencils S.G. (Sandra) Wong/JM Landels/Ellen Michelle
8:00pm – 10:00pm: Dealer Spectacular Meet and Greet
10:00am: Beyond Social Media JM Landels (M), Tod McCoy, Kristene Perron, Jonas Saul, Sylvia Taylor Creative Book Promotion goes beyond Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all of those social media resources. What can be done to promote yourself and your work in other areas of the internet or in person?
10:00am: Creating Tension Mel Anastasiou (M), Dwayne Clayden, Tyner Gillies, Lisa Voisin Top Agent Donald Maass says there should be tension on every page. How do we accomplish that? How do we get our readers hooked on the anticipation of what will happen next? How do we keep them invested in what happens to our characters? What happens in our world of the novel?
11:00am: Feeding Your Muse Mel Anastasiou (M), C.C. (Chris) Humphreys, Michele Fogal, Jim Jackson, KT Wagner The creative process can often be a tricky one, and it is easy to fall into ruts or hit a blank wall. Our panelists will discuss how to develop ideas, create compelling subject matter, and what do next when you find yourself stuck, not knowing what to do for your next piece of art, writing or other creative project.
12:00pm: Real Life Superwomen Lisa Gemino, Sandra Wickham, JM Landels and Kristene Perron What do you get when you put an MMA fighter, a pro fitness competitor, a mounted combat expert and a stuntwoman together on one panel? A rousing discussion about the realities of being a “strong woman” and how that compares with their portrayal in fiction. Join authors Lisa Gemino, Sandra Wickham, JM Landels, and Kristene Perron as they KAPOW the stereotypes and share the truth about the lives of superwomen.
1:00pm: Writing Fight Scenes Kristene Perron (M), Kevin Hearne, C.C. (Chris) Humphreys, Tyner Gillies, JM Landels, TG Shepherd Join panelists for tips on writing effective fight scenes. Learn what to include, what to avoid, how to make them fit your story and dispel some myths and fallacies about fighting. Battles may break out among panelists.
4:00pm: Pitches JM Landels – Pulp Literature
6:00pm: Storytelling on the Fly Krista Wallace (M), Adam Dreece, Manny Frishberg, JM Landels, Kristene Perron Writers know that nasty little editorial voice that wants to control every idea, every sentence, every word. Come and share some laughs with these writers as they send that nasty voice away kicking and screaming. With only a few prompts, they will create a story together, one sentence at a time. It WILL have a beginning, middle and an end. It WILL NOT make much sense. There WILL be mirth.
6:00pm: Red Pencils Sue Pieters/Rhonda Parrish/John Mavin
7:00pm: Live Action Slush–General Edition Manny Frishberg (M), Mel Anastasiou, Randy McCharles, Rhonda Parrish, Susan Pieters, Krista Wallace (Reader) Our panel of editors and publishers listen to anonymously read story openings and comment on why they would or would not wish to consider the complete work. Bring the 1st page of your manuscript (please leave your name off the page!) to be read aloud and receive comments from our panel of authors and editors. This event is both fun and educational — don’t miss it!
11:00am: Pulp Literature Presents CC Humphreys, JM Landels, Mel Anastasiou, Susan Pieters, Brenda Carre, Tyner Gillies, Kristene Perron, Krista Wallace. Join Pulp Literature editors and authors for a glimpse into what’s new at the press and enjoy readings from issues past, present … and future!
12:00: How To Finish What You Start Mel Anastasiou (M), Chloe Cocking, Jim Jackson, Randy McCharles, Jane Whittingham Whether you’re an artist, writer or crafting aficionado, everyone can have problems finishing what they started. Panelists share tips on the best ways to maintain your momentum and make it all the way to the end.
1:00pm: Publishers Panel Mel Anastasiou (M), JM Landels, Tod McCoy, Sylvia Taylor Publishers and editors discuss industry trends, their working relationship with authors and agents, the impact of ePublishing on their business, and audience questions.
3:00pm: Live Action Slush-YA and MG Randy McCharles (M), Susan Pieters, Sylvia Taylor, Krista Wallace (Reader) Our panel of editors and publishers listen to anonymously read story openings and comment on why they would or would not wish to consider the complete work. Bring the 1st page of your YA or MG manuscript (please leave your name off the page!) to be read aloud and receive comments from our panel of authors and editors. This event is both fun and educational — don’t miss it!
3:00pm: Red Pencils JM Landels/Tod McCoy/Jonas Saul
4:00pm: How to Create a Killer Opening Adam Dreece (M), Tyner Gillies, Dwayne Clayden, Sue Pieters We hear it over and over again. Your opening needs to GRAB people. How exactly do you do that? How do you get your first pages to jump out at editors, agents, publishers and readers?
Plus we will be presenting the results of the Festival’s first ever flash fiction contest. The winner will receive professional editing and publication in Pulp Literature.
Phew! And those are just our scheduled appearances. There are so many more wonderful writers, editors, and general gurus presenting this year that you’ll fill your creative cup to overflowing Plan to be there — you won’t regret it!
Last week we promised a surprise you would not want to miss, and today’s the day. Of our shortlist, three poems caught Renée Sarojini Saklikar’s eye for the fifth annual Magpie Award for Poetry. Without further delay, here are her picks and comments.
2nd Runner-up – $50 prize
‘My desk’ by Angela Caravan “An ambitious poem, which needs some attention to line breaks and form. That being said, the language intrigues. The possibility of what the language is attempting here: admirable.”
First Runner-up – $50 prize
‘All I Need is a Chair, My Red Piano, and’ by Christine Leviczky Riek “I Enjoyed the dense construction, which leads reader into the world of the poem, telling a story of loss and longing, using repetition of key phrases and a great evocation of a particular time and place.”
Winner – $500 prize
‘Leather wraps both our shoulders, and I will call you my lungs, my falconer, guidepost’ by Kelli Allen “I read this lovely poem as a sonnet with its fourteen line construction and those interesting, rhymic two line couplets cascading a series of stories in image. Wonderful!”
These poems will appear in Pulp Literature Issue 20, Autumn 2018. Congratulations to our winners, and a huge thank you to Renée Sarojini Saklikar for serving as this year’s judge. Thank you as well to all our contestants for your participation and suppourt!
Spring is in full swing, feathers are flying, and bees are buzzing. The winners of the Magpie Award for Poetry will be announced on May 15th, the same day that the earlybird rate for the Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize ends (enter soon!). And our Magpie, Judge Renée Sarojini Saklikar, who has just as much an affinity for flying creatures as we do, will be launching her new book, Listening to the Bees, tomorrow …
Listening to the Bees
Can poetry matter? In an age where information is rarely parsed into verse and 120 character limits reign supreme, it’s a valid question at many a poet’s roundtable discussion. However, for Renée Sarojini Saklikar, the answer is simple: Yes.
Listening to the Bees (Nightwood Editions, 2018) is a book of essays and bee poems in collaboration with Dr. Mark Winston. The recent and alarming decline of honey bee populations deserves attention, and Renée’s poetry has risen to the occasion. This joint artistic and scientific venture moves between the deeply personal connection humans have with bees and meticulously gathered facts for a written experience of what it means to listen to bees.
Renée Sarojini Saklikar is Poet Laureate for the City of Surrey, British Columbia. Trained as a lawyer and with a degree in English Literature, Renée is currently teaching creative writing for SFU and Vancouver Community College. Renée’s first book, children of air india, (Nightwood Editions, 2013) won the 2014 Canadian Authors Association Award for poetry and was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Renée’s poetry, essays, and short fiction has been published in many literary journals and anthologies. Her work has also been adapted into other art forms, including musical and visual installations. Pulp Literature Press thanks Renée for serving as the judge for 2017 and 2018 Magpie Award for Poetry.