21 May 2019

from Author Foster

One of the excellent stories we'll be featuring on May 31, 2019 is "Krarg the Barbarian vs. the Afterlife" by Luke Foster. Luke sent us some thoughts...

Comedy is a funny thing, no pun intended.

I've written and drawn comic strips and comic books for almost 11 years now, and most of them were comedies. Comedy and comics have gone hand-in-hand for almost a century, and they will continue to do so as long as comics are made.

But writing prose comedy is a much different beast. Instead of relying on visuals to help sell (or, in some cases, be) the joke, you need to work with the reader's imagination and really have a knack for language to make the laughs come to life. Writers like Douglas Adams, P. G. Wodehouse, and even Robert B. Parker had a real aptitude for writing and comedic timing, and not only were they gifted with those skills, but they made it look effortless, too. That, in many ways, takes just as much talent.

As much as I love comedy, this is actually the first humorous prose piece I've written. When I'm working in this medium, I tend to lean towards crime, horror, and other, darker genres. This story, though, just had to be a comedy. The moment I was given the challenge "write a story about death that isn't negative or grim" was the moment Krarg the Barbarian was born. I may not be Adams, Wodehouse, or Parker, but I hope you get as many laughs reading this story as I did writing it.

Very interesting! Thanks, Luke!
Be sure to check out this story and all the others on May 31, 2019.

14 May 2019

from Author Knighton

We're pleased to feature the excellent story "Zhai Chengda's Wife" by Andrew Knighton in the may 31, 2019 issue of Electric Spec. Andrew tells us...

The Inspiration Behind Zhai Chengda's Wife:

One of the toughest things we can do for something we love is to acknowledge its faults. Whether it's tolerating your partner's snoring or recognising that eating a whole cheesecake will expand your waistline, it's tough to accept that there's bad mixed in with the good. But when it comes to writing fiction, acknowledging those problems gives us a chance to grow.

I love steampunk fiction, and I'm terribly aware of one of its biggest problems - that it's very Eurocentric. As a genre, it's usually focused on the achievements of the western world, particularly Britain, to the exclusion of other societies. There's nothing wrong with stories set in London, Paris, or for the more adventurous the Wild West. But steampunk can be so much more, and thinking about that inspired me to reach further afield for a setting.

Historically, China has been responsible for many of the world's great inventions, from gunpowder to the printing press, and that makes it a natural location for a steampunk story. Inspired by the industrial achievements of Song Dynasty China, I created a world in which the Chinese Empire has made great leaps forward, including airships and rocketry, and is dominating its neighbours. Not everyone wants to bow down before a great power, and a nation on the borders is intent on resistance. But when your opponent is a military giant, more subtle forms of resistance are needed, and so a tale of spies and diplomacy begins. This is the story of Zhai Chengda’s Wife.

Many details in this story are extrapolated from real life. From the military manuals to the political conflict, everything has its roots in something from our world. This isn't a story about the world as it was, but perhaps it's a world as it could have been. And if it adds to the variety of those steampunk unrealities, then I'll consider my work well done.

Thanks, Andrew! Very interesting!
Be sure to check out this story and the others May 31, 2019!

07 May 2019

May 2019 Production Meeting

We, the Editors of Electric Spec, had our in-person Production Meeting recently. Yes, in the Star Wars Day/Cinco de Mayo/Kentucky Derby/Game of Thrones/Avengers craziness we still managed to get together. At a cidery, no less! At least this time we didn't have to contend with hundreds of golden retrievers.

Meeting face-to-face goes back to when the 'zine first started fifteen (!) years ago. We fight it out in person, each promoting our favorite stories submitted for the issue. There were an unusual number of finalists this time. We feel blessed to have so many writers share their art with us. Thank you for sending us your stories!

By now, hopefully, everyone who made it into hold-for-voting will have heard back from us with either a 'Yay!' or a 'Nay!' We're all writers so we know it is annoying/depressing to receive a rejection. If you received a reject from us: Sorry! But you can take heart that your story is publishable. Yay authors need to send back the contract and paypal info to get the editing process going.

I'm hesitant to say it, because something could go wrong, but it looks like we will be publishing six spec fic stories in the marvelous May 31, 2019 issue!

So, stay tuned right here for info from featured authors in the coming weeks.
Woo hoo!

30 April 2019

hard at work!

We, the Electric Spec Editors, are hard at work on the next issue. The good news is we have lots of awesome stories to choose from. The bad news is we have lots of awesome stories to choose from.

I better get back to it.

Next week I'll let you know what happened at the production meeting...

23 April 2019

show and tell

All the editors are hip-deep in slush, getting ready for the marvelous May 31, 2019 issue of Electric Spec. None of us like to do it, but we do have to reject stories. To avoid this, I have a tip...

As kids we are asked to "tell a story." In creative writing classes, student-authors are often told to "show, don't tell." And, experienced authors know "there are no real writing rules." If all this seems contradictory to you, it's because it is!

When I'm reading slush, however, I look for authors who show and tell. Moreover, I look for authors who show and tell on the first page. This usually means some kind of scene-setting (telling) and some kind of dialogue (showing). The telling could be describing characters. The showing could be in-the-moment protagonist thoughts/reactions. This could be _your_idea_here_. I don't care what the showing and telling are, but the combo usually leads to effective storytelling.

In addition, savvy writers know the writerly trick: use telling in the first sentence. Think of some of the most famous first lines, e.g. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." or "I am an invisible man..." I'm sure you can think of other examples.

Send us your showing and telling stories for the August issue!

Soon, we'll start discussing the marvelous May issue!

16 April 2019

As you know, Bob

We are hard at work on the marvelous May 31, 2019 issue of Electric Spec. (The submission deadline was yesterday, April 15. But you can submit now for the August 2019 issue.) We are going through the slush pile.

I recently read a story that had quite a bit of 'As you know, Bob...' dialogue. This is a crutch whereby the author is telling the reader something in the story that the characters already know. It reads as very unnatural and stilted. For example, "As you know, the lizard king hatches from an egg, so we are going to look for the egg cache." Don't do this. It's a variety of info-dump.

It's so easy to avoid! Just make one or more of your characters more ignorant. :) For example, "Where are the lizard eggs?"

A good way to test for this is to read only your dialogue out loud. Does it sound like a conversation? Does it make sense? Does it impart needed information? If not, consider trimming it.

We'll start bragging on the new issue is about two weeks...

09 April 2019

Politics of all kinds

The submisison deadline for the marvelous May 31, 2019 issue of Electric Spec is coming up soon: April 15, 2019. Get those stories in!

I was reading slush and an author inadvertently (I assume it was inadvertent) offended me with politics. As I'm using the word, politics can cover a myriad of topics from Democrats and Republicans in the USA, other political entities in other countries, to different religions, to various companies (Coke versus Pepsi, anyone?). Authors don't necessarily know an editor's affiliations. Thus, authors run the risk of offending them when they write a story with a negative slant to one 'political' party. Bottom line: I rejected that story.

What's a poor writer to do? Use his/her imagination! We are talking about fiction here, folks. I have no problem reading a negative story about the Remocrats or the Depublicans, for example.

Of course, writing is a creative endeavour, so if your story demands 'political' negativity, go for it. Just don't try to sell it here.

Good luck with your stories, positive or negative, political or apolitical!