07 July 2020

try-fail cycles

Yes! We are still hard at work on the awesome August 2020 issue of Electric Spec. Yes! The submission deadline is still July 15, 2020! Get those stories in!

As I read slush, I'm reminded of a tip from a famous editor: utilize try-fail cycles. A try-fail cycle is exactly what it sounds like. Your protagonist tries something (usually to solve a problem), and is not successful, and then tries something else... Most authors write these organically, without ever thinking Now, I need a try-fail cycle. It can be helpful, however, to consciously think about them.

Consider a definition of a story: a protagonist has a problem and acts to solve it. If the protag acts and is successful, a try-succeed instance, this is not an interesting story. Is it even a story? If the protag merely acts and fails, a try-fail instance, again, this isn't an interesting story. Thus, the cycle aspect of the try-fail cycle is also important. The protag needs to try more than once.

Most interesting stories have a series of try-fail cycles with increasing stakes. This makes the story more dramatic and gives the reader a more satisfying emotional payoff in the end. Try-fail cycles show and enable character growth. They also allow the overall story plotline to twist, change, grow. They make a short story much deeper and more interesting.

So, if your story is dragging, consider adding another try-fail cycle. Good luck!

30 June 2020

Pandemic stories

We are hard at work on the awesome August 2020 issue of Electric Spec. The submission deadline for this issue is July 15, 2020--so get those stories in.

We have started to receive quite a few pandemic stories. We thought we'd start to get some for the last issue but they didn't materialize. I guess it took a little lag time for folks to wrap their heads around what was happening. We welcome stories on whatever topic the marvelous muse sends you, but...

For us, pandemic stories still need to be speculative. Recall, speculative fiction includes genres that all contain elements that do not exist in the real world. We love fantasy, science fiction, and macabre fiction and all their possible subgenres and mash-ups.

Thus, last year, a story about a global pandemic would probably be considered speculative fiction. In 2020, not so much. Can you take it to the next level? What will be the long-lasting consequences of the pandemic? How will it change our culture? Society? Hopes and dreams? How will it change humanity? How will it change your_idea_here? Write that story!

Good luck!

23 June 2020

Voice, voice, baby

Here at Electric Spec we're starting to think about the awesome August 2020 issue. Editors have started going through slush again, albeit to varying degrees. Personally, I have made quite a dent in my stories. In the first cut, I try to consider if a story is objectively good. Does it have one or more compelling characters? Does it have a plot in which something changes? Does it have neat speculative elements? If so, I put it in the hold-for-voting folder, so all the editors can consider it.

In the final go-round, however, I'm subjective. All the editors have their favorite topics; I think I've mentioned mine here before. One of my favorite qualities in any kind of writing is voice. I think I've mentioned this before here, as well, but it's worth repeating. Literary voice is the particular style an author uses to create their story. Sometimes the characters embody this voice, while sometimes it's the narrator. Some authors can create different voices for different works, e.g. Charlaine Harris. Some authors have a unique writer's voice in all their work, e.g. Connie Willis. I don't care how you do it, but I do love me some good voice...

The submission deadline for the awesome August issue is coming up surprisingly soon: July 15, 2020. Thank you for submitting your stories. We appreciate you, writers!

16 June 2020

from Author White

Author Desmond White passed along his thoughts on "writing and life's little diversions."

For every ten articles of "5 Things Stopping You From Writing" and "4 Ways The Internet Has Interrupted Your Novel," there's the one titled "Distracted? It Could Help Your Writing." I'm in the diversion-is-good camp. Of course, when we go to write, we should write. Neil Gaiman advises the author to "sit down at the keyboard" and "put one word after another." But the paradox of the craft is how we need Focus and Distraction. Not the passively engrossing but exhausting delirium of tv show binges, but showers, walks, joyful conversations, a cooked dinner, a nap with the cats, a moment outside. The tedium of work, of emptying the litter, of walking to the mailbox. These aren't interruptions but priorities. When engaged but a little bored, dreams are more potent, solutions more frequent, and the laws of association meander like driftwood at twilight.

Thanks, Desmond! Good advice! :)

09 June 2020

Nebula Awards

Winners of 55th Annual Nebula Awards Hopefully, everyone's familiar with the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and their prestigious awards. The latest batch of winners was announced recently.

  • Novel: A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley)
  • Novella: This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga; Jo Fletcher)
  • Novelette: Carpe Glitter, Cat Rambo (Meerkat)
  • Short Story: "Give the Family My Love", A.T. Greenblatt (Clarkesworld Magazine 2/19)

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

SFWA has quite a few resources available to members and nonmembers http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/information-center/.

02 June 2020

The Marvelous May 2020 Issue

Wow! I'm so impressed with the Electric Spec authors and editors! We got the marvelous May 2020 issue out even in these challenging times.
Check out the awesome stories:
  • "Gabriel Vane's Carnival Extraordinaire" by Kate Everett -- You don't need a ticket. You don't even need to pay. Just be careful what you bring with you. . .
  • "Where There Once was Wind" by Clint Foster -- What does the wind see and know? A tale of magic and ambition told from an unexpected perspective.
  • "Under Our Skin" by Owen Leddy -- Three young people seek to protect the last threshold of personal independence from a truly hostile takeover.
  • "All the Way Home" by Gail Ann Gibbs -- In the place between life and death, a group of strangers searches for where to go next.
  • "Rona of the Els" by Desmond White -- A novice witch at the edge of civilization makes a desperate grab at her one chance to fulfill her dreams.

In addition, making a debut appearance for us is cover artist Yuri Magalhães with "Quiet Reflections."

Finally, don't miss our interview with Barbara Bennett, author of the urban fantasy novel Alchemy of Glass--"a celebration of time, history, science, magic, technology, and love."

Check them out if you haven't already!

Woo hoo!

31 May 2020

May 2020 Electric Spec live!

The marvelous May 31, 2020 issue of Electric Spec is live! Woo hoo!

Thanks so much to all the authors!

Thanks so much to all the Electric Spec staff.

And, especially, thanks so much to all the readers!

Woo hoo!