Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Business Model for Pulp Fiction

I was having a really interesting discussion the other day about pulp fiction and the Golden Age of short stories.  The cheaper publishing costs plus the popularity of the magazine format plus the space exploration obsession of the age made for fertile grounds in the short form fiction arena.

So the argument in said discussion was that we are no longer living in the Golden Age for short stories.  The form isn't as mainstream as it used to be, which, therefore, means that you can't make a living as a short story writer.

This really got me thinking.  And you know what?  I call bull on that statement.

You know who really made the money during pulp fiction days?  The publishers.

You know how the authors made money?  By writing constantly.  Guys like Ray Bradbury were PROLIFIC writers.  They had to constantly churn out new stuff in order to make a living.  And even then it wasn't like most of them were making millions.  At best, most of these authors "got by."

So the excuse that it's no longer the Golden Age of Short Fiction is not a valid one.  Short stories have always been a hard sell.  It was probably even harder back in the day because there was so much more competition.

But what's interesting is that the business model hasn't changed at all.  Only the medium.  Pulp fiction writers had to write constantly and send their stuff out everywhere until they got nibbles and eventually a paycheck.  Same goes for ebooks today.  The only way to make money with short stories is to publish as quickly as you can put out quality work and to post your story on every single online book selling channel you can find.

You gotta love short stories or leave 'em.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Guest Blog: The Other Publishing Company Launch Innovative Weekend Short Story Competition – ‘The Lit Bits Weekend Challenge’

As part of their mission to bring the best short stories from new and established authors to keen readers around the world, The Other Publishing Company are running a series of weekend short story competitions, with winners receiving publication and a share of a £1000 prize pot.

Over the course of four consecutive weekends, starting on the 13th of December 2013, The Other Publishing Company are challenging writers to produce an entertaining short story of 1000 words. Each Friday morning they are giving writers a set story title to work with and challenging them to have it completed by Monday morning.

Each weekend three winners will receive £80 or $80 (depending on where they live), that’s 8p or 8c a word! At the end of the month twelve winning stories will share almost £1000 in prize money, and all winning stories will be published in special Lit Bits compilations. Entrants can enter as many stories each weekend as they wish, and from anywhere in the world, but they must be written in English. Entry is entirely free “to give everyone an opportunity to make money from their writing and get published, whether you’re a household name or not yet published,” says The Other Publishing Company’s Commissioning Editor and competition judge, Michael Cameron-Lewis.

Acclaimed authors Robert Rigby and Michael Cameron-Lewis will judge the competition. Robert Rigby is the co-author, with Andy McNab of the best-selling Boy Soldier series of novels. His other fiction includes the novelizations of the Goal! movies and a stand-alone novel in the series - Goal: Glory Days. He is the author of the four official London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic novels for children. Robert also writes for the theatre, television and radio drama and is a prolific songwriter and composer, working in recording, television and radio. Robert has also had three short stories published on Lit Bits; When Harry Met Dali, The Silences, and Each Little Bird. Michael Cameron-Lewis is The Other Publishing Company’s Commissioning Editor; and a best-selling author, television writer, and theatrical director in his own right.

For full details and to sign up please visit the competition page:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review of "On the Clock in Vegas," short story by Brian Bergquist

Professional gambler Benny Delgano is in Las Vegas to compete in a high stakes fantasy football tournament for one hundred thousand dollars, only to run into a demented criminal from his past with revenge on his mind.

Forced into colluding with Tommy the Wolf at the fantasy football draft in order to spare his friend's life, Benny finds out the stakes were higher than he originally thought.

I'll admit, the subject material is not really my cup of tea.  I'm more of a Settlers of Catan gamer rather than high stakes gambling.  And I know just enough about football to follow a game.  But fantasy football?  Lost me there.

That disclaimer said, the writing was compelling enough that I still enjoyed the story.  Even though the terms and catchphrases thrown around sometimes sailed over my head, there was enough action and intrigue to compensate for that.

There's a very small twist at the end.  I won't spill the beans in this review but the twist hinges on the protagonist, Benny, being a bit more clever than the reader gives him credit for.  I almost kind of wish this had been played up more?  Like instead of reading like a noir gambling story it would have been more interesting to the lay reader if it had read like a Sherlock Homes.  No mystery solving, minding you.  Just giving clearer hints about Benny being one step ahead of everyone else.

3.5/5 stars
Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this story on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Adapting Short Fiction for the Screen, Guest Blog by Screenwriter Derek Ryan

Derek Ryan is the screenwriter of an independent adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's 2BR02B based in Vancouver B.C. 2BR02B was one of Mr. Vonnegut's early short stories, written before most of his novels. Since it is such a splendid example of Short Fiction, he is reaching out to the short fiction community hoping to drum up support for turning it into a film.

For me, this was my first time adapting a literary piece into a screenplay format. Luckily, since the short story is already so cinematic, I didn’t have a David-esque battle to fight in order to make it work for the screen. The biggest challenge for me was giving the audience knowledge about the world that the film inhabits without resorting to narration or some gross sequence of expository dialogue. I feel narration is somewhat of a cheat, so instead, we added an entirely new scene as a prequel to the events in the short story. This way, the audience gets to see more of the world, and infer from what is seen, as to what the world is like. Though narration may be the most effective way to get facts across, I find it boring. We have our characters talking about the Federal Bureau of Termination and gradually over the course of the first few scenes, things start to fill in. I like it when the audience doesn’t know the whole story right from the start. It’s just more exciting that way.

The dialogue in the story also needed some revamping. In the original short story, there is an extended use of a 2BR02B vernacular that includes words and phrases that we don’t use. This happens when you get a very good piece of Sci-Fi. The world building is very important. But for us, in order for the audience to not be confused(since we have a limited time frame and can’t write exposition like in a book), some of these phrases needed to be toned down. For example, I couldn’t use all of the slang terms for the Federal Bureau of Termination, but instead could only fit in two. That was something that I didn’t necessarily want to do, but to have all of those terms floating around would have been too confusing to the audience. So, in order to still include them in our project, we decided to use all of those slang terms for the names of the perks we are giving away on the IndieGoGo page.

Anyways, turning this story into a screenplay was an absolute pleasure. It offered a great skeleton from which to make an excellent screenplay. Being able to have access to such a great story, and about a very interesting, and pressing issue – population -- was something that was a huge honour. Population is something that as a world we need to take a look at. The statistics behind population growth over the past 100 years are insane.

Though we are still at the early stages, this project promises to be one that everyone on our team can be proud of. It’s going to be a long haul going forward, but it will all be worth it in the end. Anyway, we hope that you guys like what we are trying to, and please give the short story a read! It’s a fantastic story, and we know it will make a fantastic film, especially with Paul Giamatti as the Lead. Thank you so much for letting me post on here, and I hope that you guys like what you see.

Here is the story --

Here is the link to our page --