All posts by Jennifer Landels

Friday Live Readings

The Pandemic, the Press, and You

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected you in some way. (If you have been living under a rock, stay there — it’s safer). For us at Pulp Lit, many things have not changed.  We’re writers and editors, and we like working at home in isolation — revel in it, even!

We have always conducted our business meetings virtually, and our day-to-day operations haven’t changed.  However Pulp Literature Press will feel the effects. Conventions, booklaunches, and retreats are an important part of what we do.  They get our books out in the community and let us engage with writers and readers in person.

This will be a hard year for us financially with so many event cancellations and the Canadian dollar plummeting due to oil prices.  It will be hard for our authors and artists too. We’ve already seen one of our favourite bricks and mortar stores, the Wylde Wood Collective, close its doors due to the crisis.  Here’s what we’re doing to help out our readers and our authors while keeping our non-profit press alive.

  • We have linked our Patreon income to scaling pay rates for authors and artists.  When we reach $200 a month (we’re almost there now), our maximum pay for short stories will increase to $0.08 per word and go up to $0.10 per word at $400.  You can see more details on the Patreon page.
  • We will be livestreaming readings from authors every Friday at 10am pacific time starting today!  Each week will feature three different authors who will read and answer questions from the audience between 10:00 and 10:30.

Today’s live line-up

Our line-up for today features the amazing trio of CC Humphreys, Laura Kostur, and Mel Anastasiou.

https://cchumphreys.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/image.jpg?resize=201%2C302CC Humphreys

He’s an actor, playwright, and fight choreographer. Oh, he’s also an award-winning novelist.  CC Humphreys is the distinguished 1st Issue feature author, appearing again in Issue 14. He’s a chimaera, like so many of our authors — and professional in every field (if his 17 published books and plethora of acting credits are anything to go by).

Laura Kostur

Born and raised in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, Laura Kostur finds inspiration from her surroundings and the wide variety of people drawn to the West Coast. Now employed in Communications with the Federal Government of Canada, Laura enjoy a job that allows her to write and edit every day, while interacting with a wide variety of people, and being of service to the public. When not at work, or working on her next novel, Laura can be found cutting and thrusting her way through classes at Academie Duello, a school of European Swordplay and Western Martial Arts. Laura currently works, fights and writes in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and possibly a dog, if enough people pester the aforementioned spouse into letting her adopt one.

Mel Anastasiou

Acquisitions editor Mel Anastasiou co-founded Pulp Literature magazine in 2013. She helps writers develop through structural editing with the magazine, in addition to her weekly writing tips on melanastasiou.wordpress.com, the popular ‘Writing Muse’ twitter feed, and through her non-fiction workbooks, The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Toward and Extraordinary Volume, and The Writer’s Friend and Confidante.  Her fiction includes Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries, the Monument Studio Mysteries, and the Stella Ryman Mysteries.  In addition she is the chief illustrator for Pulp Literature and has produced two colouring books of renaissance-inspired artwork: Colouring Paradise and Dragon Rock.

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From the Pulp Lit Pulpit: The Big Two Five

Issue 25. Twenty-five seems to be a big and important number. Young adults start dropping the ‘young’ at twenty-five. The silver anniversary is a significant milestone in a marriage, and a quarter is the smallest coin anyone honestly ever wants to deal with.

For a quarterly magazine, twenty-five is an achievement to be sure, and a milestone. But it’s a quiet one. At just over six years old, the magazine has found a rhythm. Processes are in place, roles are defined, identity is established. As managing editor, I find I am able to take a gentler hold on the reins and trust the skills of our newer editors to build upon the framework Mel, Sue, and I have established.

Over the past two years, Jessica has taken on a large share of the editorial load, and last year we were delighted to have brought two new assistant editors, Genevieve Wynand and Sam Olson, into the fold. You’ll be hearing more from them in the coming months while I take some time to work on my own projects.

But fear not, dear reader. The transition will be seamless from your side of the page, with the same great quality of top-notch stories, poetry, and artwork you’ve come to expect from Pulp Literature.

Cheers to the next twenty-five!

Jennifer Landels

To celebrate this milestone, we have made Pulp Literature Issue 25 available to you, dear readers, at the author price of 25% off for the month of February.  Take a peek at the contents and order your copy here.

The 2019 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize

It was a hard fought battle between our top ten feisty hummingbird entrants, and the skirmish between the final two was fierce indeed.  After careful scrutiny, our judge declared the winner by a feather to be …

‘Afterlife’ by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Judge Bob Thurber had this to say:

In ‘Afterlife’, the author skillfully tiptoes around grief and heartache, presenting a nicely woven, quirky portrait of life coming at you, whether you’re ready for it or not.

‘Featherweight’ by Chad V Broughman

The runner-up, ‘Featherweight’,  was a close contender with an ache all its own. Two fine stories with dynamic voices.
– Bob Thurber
These two stories will be published in Pulp Literature Issue 25, Winter 2019.  Congratulations to the winners as well as the top-notch shortlist, which included:
  • ‘The Decline of the Human Race: Volume 01100’ by Mike Donoghue
  • ‘One Human Swimming’  by Patricia Sandberg
  • ‘An Aerial Photograph of Home’ by Mack Stone
  • ‘Playing Late’ by Ariel Basom
  • ‘Picture Window’ by  Emily Ruth Verona
  • ‘The Lion’ by Hannah van Didden
  • ‘Mercy’ by Dylan Sealy
  • ‘Slow Night’ by Teya Hollier

What the Wind Brings: Matthew Hughes’s Magnum Opus

We are delighted to announce that we’ve entered into a contract with Matthew Hughes to publish his spectacular historical novel, What the Wind Brings. 

What the Wind Brings by Matthew Hughes

In the mid 1500s shipwrecked African slaves melded with the indigenous peoples of coastal Ecuador and together they fought the Spanish colonial power to a standstill, to remain independent for centuries.  The story of the people of Esmeraldas is told through the eyes of three characters: Alonso, an escaped slave; Expectation, an a-gender shaman; and Alejandro, a priest on the run from the Inquistion.

With its slipstream elements this novel carries a flavour of South American magical realism tradition into a grand historical epic.  Both sweeping and intimate, it is a delight to read from beginning to end, and we are honoured that Matt has decided to entrust his grand work to us.

We can’t wait to show it to you later this year.  In the meantime you can follow Matthew Hughes on his Patreon feed for more news as we approach publication.

Here’s to what the wind is bringing in 2019!

The Winner of the 2018 Raven Short Story Contest is …

Cheryl Wollner of Boca Raton, Florida for

Girls Who Dance in the Flames

Judge CC Humphreys, had this to say

The competition standard was very high. There wasn’t a bad story amongst them, and they were varied, with several in different styles pushing this one close.

I liked many things about ‘Girls’. The language was completely believable, with dynamic metaphors drawn from the narrator’s crazed imagination and steeped in the Southern Gothic world from which she comes. ‘come back home stained with his child’; ‘but I’ve cut my lifeline real long, long and round my hand like a ribbon ‘cross a Christmas present.’; ‘she talked all sand’. So many others. Yet the elegance of the writing never detracted from the flow of the story just swept me into another, so different world. The construction was good too, a steady development to the fiery climax.

The narrator’s voice was strong, clear, twisted, disturbing. Very well realized, and completely believable. I kept thinking that she might back away from her extremity, but she kept upping it.  A lot to cram into a five page story. Yet it held me throughout, had a clear arc, and left a disturbing aftertaste.

So well done. It will stay with me and I have no hesitation, despite other strong contenders, of awarding it this year’s Raven.

– CC Humphreys

Congratulations to Cheryl Wollner, who wins the $300 prize, and whose story will be published in Pulp Literature Issue 22, Spring 2018.   Many thanks to CC Humphreys for his careful reading and for returning to judge this year’s Raven Contest.  And as well, thank you to all the entrants who provided such excellent stories and made our job and Chris’s so much harder …. and yet so enjoyable!

https://cchumphreys.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/image-2.jpg?resize=123%2C185

CC (Chris) Humphreys has written more than a dozen novel for adults and young adults, including the Arthur Ellis winner, Plague.  His latest book, Chasing the Wind, is available here.

Happy International Women’s Day

I love our cover art.  For me, one of the greatest joys of the magazine is finding and choosing paintings to wrap our words in.  But I’m always a bit sad when the necessary banners and text cover up some of the beautiful images.

So to celebrate International Women’s day,  we offer you a sneak peek of the cover art for Pulp Literature Issue 15, Summer 2017 by the amazing S. Ross Browne.  Here is The Huntress, in her full undecorated glory.  Enjoy!

The Huntress, by S. Ross Browne.

Find more of Ross’s wonderful paintings here.

Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries

For my money, here’s the best reward on Something Novel

Mrs Stella Ryman is an amateur sleuth, trapped in a down-at-heel care home.
You’d be cranky, too.

Have I mentioned how much I adore Mel Anastasiou’s Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries?

Of course, I may be biased.  I was there when Stella was born, in Mel’s beautiful house on Bowen Island, overlooking the water, with the sun flickering through the towering trees around us.  In fact, I feel sure the opening sentence that came from Mel’s pen in that Hour Stories session, and which has remained unchanged since, was a product of benevolent Bowen sunshine.

“On this particular sun-and-shade April morning at Fairmount Manor, Stella Ryman no more entertained the idea of becoming an amateur sleuth than she had of entering next spring’s Boston Marathon.” 

Isn’t that brilliant?  I’m sure that a hundred years from now it will be one of those oft-quoted first lines, right alongside “It is a truth universally acknowledged …”

But Mel’s prose isn’t just elegant and witty … it’s also warm, compassionate, and insightful.

48944aa0e49fc0f95a6d49b4a2911610_originalIn Stella, she has written a character who is brave, intelligent, wise, and stubborn, but who is also trapped.  Stuck in a care home, limited by physical fraility, and at the mercy of her slightly less-than-reliable memory, she is nonetheless a warrior, seeking justice for the powerless within the walls of the Fairmount Manor care home.  While the context is mundane and the situations treated with gentle humour — the erratic wisdom of Mad Cassandra Browning, the convoluted plot to allow Thelma to take an unsupervised bath, the snarky observations of ‘The Greek Chorus’ of elderly harpies — Mel’s sharp and compassionate writing makes us care about defending the defenceless and righting the wrongs of the nursing home as much as Stella does.

Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities; and Stella, for all her eighty years and circumscribed life, is a hero that can stand proud in any Hall of Worthies.

If you haven’t yet met Stella, or if you have and want to get to know her better, consider ordering a copy on Pulp Literature‘s Something Novel Kickstarter campaign.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

-Jen

 

 

The Magic of Bowen

There’s something about Bowen Island that feeds the writer’s soul, and this magical place, a stone’s throw across the water from Horseshoe Bay, is central to the very existence of Pulp Literature.outdoorsI first went there to write over a decade ago as part of Dale Adams Segal’s writing retreat through Langara.  Her Hour Stories cards were a breakthrough for me, allowing me to muffle my harsh inner critic and revel in the joy of storytelling.  And my early morning walks through the quiet, misty woods near Snug Cove allowed me to empty my mind and let stories pour in.  Without that retreat, I’m not sure I would ever have written a novel — or even another short story.

Allaigna 1 croppedA year later I returned to The Lodge at the Old Dorm with some of the attendees, and we hosted our own informal retreat.  There, curled up on the luxurious bed in the Lady Cecilia room, I wrote the first lines of Allaigna’s Song: “If you walk down the grand staircase of Castle Osthegn, you will see a family portrait …”

If I hadn’t mentioned that writing holiday to Mel — who has lived on Bowen much of her life — I would never have known she was a writer too, she would not have introduced me to Sue, and the three of us would never have begun writing together using the Hour Stories.  Our writing sessions together have produced the drafts of all three Allaigna novels, the delightful Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, Mel’s new mystery series The Seven Swans (see Issue 9!), Sue’s captivating historical novel about Esther, and many of the exquisite short stories you see from her in the pages of Pulp Literature.

Winter 2014 cover proofBut perhaps the largest creation to emerge from one of our writing sessions was the magazine itself.  After a productive morning writing at Mel’s place on Bowen, the idea for Pulp Literature sprang almost fully formed:  like Venus rising from the sea below the sunny deck where we drank our beer and supped on the inspiration of trees and wind and ocean.

Maybe Pulp Lit could have been born in Sue’s welcoming home, or my chaotic one, or even on the ethernet waves of Skype where we meet so often.  But I tend to think the vital spark came from the magic of the island itself.  Which is why we held our first Year of the Muse Retreat there this year, and why I’m so delighted to be returning in January 2016.alexandra

Fellow writers, I hope you’ll join us at the place where it all began, to steep your writing in the magic of Bowen.

The Muse Revisited
An all-inclusive writers retreat surrounded by natural beauty, with gourmet meals, luxurious rooms, and good company.
The Lodge at the Old Dorm
Bowen Island BC
8 – 10 January 2016
Register here

The writing table. Photo by Rosie Perera

 

Swallows Contest Open

The Swallows Sequential Short Story Contest opened on New Year’s Day, and I’m thrilled to announce that the fine folks at The Comicshop in Vancouver will be our judges.  Not only do veteran funny-book connoisseurs Brent, Keith, and Tim have a fine eye for the best in comic book art and storytelling, they’ve been managing my comics reading list for years and I have utter faith in their judgement.

What are we looking for in this contest?  Aside from the nitty gritty details of size and format, which you can find on the Contests page, we are looking for what we always want between the pages of Pulp Literature:  beautiful art and good storytelling.  To give you an idea of our taste here are a few sample pages from previous sequential shorts we’ve published.

mechanics_p1 sample
‘The Mechanics’ by Angela Melick
‘Unwanted Visitors’ by Kris Sayer
p.3
‘Dragon Rock’ by Sylvia Stopforth & Mel Anastasiou
'The Wolf' by Kimberleigh Roseblade & JM Landels
‘The Wolf’ by Kimberleigh Roseblade & JM Landels

So sharpen your pencils, get out your brushes and digital pens and send us your best 1 to 5 page long short comic.  The earlybird entry fee is only $20 until January 15th, which includes an e-subscription to Pulp Literature, and the contest deadline is February 15th.  First prize is $500 plus publication in issue 7 of Pulp Literature, alongside feature author Robert J Sawyer!

Contest rules and guidelines are here.

 

The Art of Asking … and Offering

When you pass a busker and throw some change in the open guitar case, what are you paying for?  It could be for the good feeling of helping another human being; or it could be a gesture of gratitude, a ‘thank you’ for filling that corner of your day with music.

For me it’s often the latter, but there’s another motivation as well.  My coin in that case is a vote that says, “I like what you’re doing, please keep doing it, because I’m willing to pay you for it.”

Last year when we decided to launch a magazine to print the stories we love, this TED talk by the amazing Amanda Palmer was a large part of the inspiration.

viellaIt’s a vulnerable feeling to stand on the street corner with your hand outstretched.  When we ran our first Kickstarter campaign we weren’t just asking for your money, we were asking for your trust.  We had no white flower to hand you, and we hadn’t already filled your ears with music.  All we had were the reputations of great writers like CC Humphreys, JJ Lee, Susanna Kearsley and Joan MacLeod, and the promise of a year’s worth of fabulous stories.

One year on Amanda Palmer has published her first book, The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help, and we have four beautiful issues of Pulp Literature that we’ve been proud to put into your hands.

We hope you liked the medley of stories we’ve brought to your doorstep.  Once more we are asking for your help, this time to publish the next four issues.  Lend us your support and we’ll be your troubadours, bringing you fabulous fiction four times throughout the next year, and for as long as there is a public that wants to pay for it.

Whether you can afford to back us to the tune of $1 or $1000, your pledge on the Kickstarter page is your vote.  It says “I like a good story, I want to see more of them published, and I’m willing to pay to make that happen.”

We thank you for your vote.

The art of asking

For more on Amanda Palmer’s book and the new model for arts funding, see this excellent essay in the New Statesman by Cory Doctorow.