26 August 2014

Coming Attractions!

We are getting down to the wire for the awesome August 31, 2014 issue of Electric Spec! We'll be showcasing 5 wonderful stories:
  • "The Bog Man" by David K. Yeh
  • "The King Must Die" by Bo Balder
  • "Kites and Orchids" by George S. Walker
  • "Sci Fi High" by Clint Spivey
  • "When the Moon is Waning" by Larisa Walk
All these stories are exceptional. The editors are grateful that authors keep sending us such good stories. Thank you, authors! (Keep it up!)

It looks like we have some exciting other features as well. Here's a hint: Carol Berg.
I'll give you some more coming attractions on Thursday August 28.

Be sure to check out the new issue on August 31!

21 August 2014

even more from our authors

I have really been enjoying hearing directly from our authors. It's been a blast. Another fun story we're publishing in our August 2014 issue of Electric Spec is "Sci Fi High" by Clint Spivey. He wanted to tell us some...

Thoughts on Young Adult Fiction
by Clint Spivey

YA gives writers an interesting opportunity. While ten thousand authors are all chasing the same nickel in a world where readers dwindle due to distractions, YA flourishes. It seems parents, who may not even read themselves, see the value in encouraging it in their children, and with good cause. But what does this mean to writers? Do we strive to please parents, the ones likely buying the fiction? Or do we seek to try and give an accurate picture of the world to our ultimate goal, the dear reader.

I ask this because, through work-shopping a recent story, set in a high school world of monsters, robots, angels, and inter-dimensional beings, I found myself being criticized for language and themes that were too mature for the story’s teenage characters. While I appreciated all of the advice I received, and ultimately followed it since it helped get the story published, I found myself conflicted.

My own high school experience, completed some seventeen years ago, was full of drugs, drinks, sex, curse words, and crime. This isn't to say I engaged in these acts, sex almost never, but these things were all around my fellow students and myself. Drugs from pot to meth and even LSD were available on campus if one knew the right person. Knives were visible, probably guns, though I never saw any. I know many people who were having sex regularly. Our on site day care for teen mothers attests to that. This wasn't some school in a terrible place, either. But the very school where the guy who first wrote, ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…’ attended.

I don’t believe YA fiction for high school students ought be filled with sex, drugs, and gangs. But do we do our readers of this group a disservice by treating them with kid gloves? While reading, surrounded by reality replete with the dangers mentioned above, do they smell a phony only trying to get their parents to make a purchase? I admit I’m not well read in YA, but after writing the aforementioned story, I figured this was an interesting discussion to begin.

19 August 2014

more from our authors

One of the stories we're proud to present in our upcoming awesome August 2014 issue of Electric Spec is "The King Must Die" by Bo Balder--and it's not a fantasy, which you may be thinking. This is one of the most unique stories I've ever read.
Bo would like to tell us about:

My Experience in Writing "The King Must Die"
by Bo Balder

It was one of these rare moments of inspiration – I woke up at 5 in the morning with most of this story in my brain. I couldn't get back to sleep as long as the story was forming. I tossed and turned, feverishly imagining more, fleshing it out, until I gave up, got out of bedand wrote a brief outline. The actual writing, later that day, was as feverish and unusually smooth. I'd been to Vegas once, so imagining and looking up what it looked like in the seventies was easy. I've always loved Elvis and his music, so that wasn't hard either. The title is from Mary Renault's novel about Theseus in ancient Greece. In the novel, kings die to ensure their people's health and prosperity. I don't know where the frogs came from, I really don't. They were just there in the story from the beginning. Maybe somebody else will have an explanation what metaphor they are, but as a writer I think you should leave these symbols alone and just be grateful they appeared to you at all… Of course the story needed revision, but the essence was there from the beginning. It's special to me because of its strange birth, and I'm glad it's found a home!

12 August 2014

from our authors

At the recent production meeting we came up with the idea to let some of our authors 'talk' to the blog readers directly. Thus, I am happy to introduce to you author Larisa Walk; we're going to publish her Fantasy "When the Moon is Waning" in our August 2014 issue. So, without further ado, take it away Larisa!

One Writer's Inspirations
by Larisa Walk

People often ask writers about the sources of our inspiration. It is not an easy question to answer, because the ideas often come from many sources: dreams, something heard on the news, nature, another writer's book or story that triggers an A-ha moment, a conversation overheard while having a cup of jasmine tea at a tea house, mythology, or seemingly out of nowhere at all. That latter one is a gift, especially when the story comes to you from its beginning to its end, all but wrapped in shiny paper with a pattern of peach-colored roses and a matching bow.

I can identify my two of the most frequent sources of inspiration: Russian history and mythology. They inspire me not only because I was born and raised in Russia, but because there is so much conflict and mystery in them. And to me conflict and mystery are what makes a satisfying story.

Take the fact that Russia lived under the Mongol domination for 200 years. Immediately questions rise up like bubbles in a boiling pot of water: How did those people survive? What was their life like? Was there a resistance movement? Was there nothing but hatred toward the oppressors or were there stories of love between the Mongols and the Russians? After five years of research of both English and Russian sources, I wrote a novel that answers those questions: A Handful of Earth.

Then there is the Russian fairyland where each character has a dominion over a certain part of people's lives. The domovoi keeps an eye on the house; the dvorovoi rules over the yard and cares for the animals that live there; and the bannik looks after the bath house. This, of course, brings more questions, more mystery, and more inspiration. From here the writer's imagination takes over, and the crafting of a story begins.

07 August 2014

notes from the Production Meeting

The editors of Electric Spec had our Production Meeting this week. Approximately 6 beers and 2 scotches were consumed. We had a large number of very good stories in hold-for-voting, so it was tricky to narrow down the field to 5. Eventually we prevailed, however, and authors are being emailed the good (or bad) news as we speak. Hopefully all the hold-for-voting authors will hear back from us by the end of this week.
When we accept a story we send along a contract. Once the author accepts the contract we start editing the story. Things move pretty quickly this month since we're publishing the next issue on August 31.

Here are some tips based on our story discussion:

  • A strong voice is important but other things are important as well, namely, a plot
  • Make sure your story is speculative fiction. Macabre fiction, in particular, can be tricky here. For example, if a story contains a mysterious blurry figure, is it a ghost or an illusion? If it is a ghost you've got speculative fiction. If it's ambiguous...maybe not.
  • It's probably not a good idea to include tampons in your story. Editors are susceptible to the ick factor like everyone else.
  • We don't like super long (over 5000 words) stories. They're a pain to edit.

Other take-aways from the meeting: we're going to modify our webpage to indicate that we've been taking longer to get through slush. :(
We're going to ask authors if they'd like to contribute to the blog.
We were thinking of doing something special for our ten-year anniversary (next year), but we're leaning against it.
I guess that's all the highlights. We'll start previewing coming attractions next week.

05 August 2014

check back Thursday

Behind the scenes at Electric Spec we are in the final stages of preparing for the Production Meeting for the August 2014 issue. This involves ranking the stories in hold-for-voting. And then changing our minds and re-ranking the stories. And then changing our minds.... Ugh.

Check back on Thursday this week and I'll let you know how the meeting went.
Happy Tuesday!

30 July 2014

behind the scenes

We're working hard behind the scenes at Electric Spec preparing for the production meeting next week. I thought I'd give you a little peek behind the curtain...
We try to be objective when choosing stories to go in hold-for-voting. I even have a kind of check-list I use. Some items on the list include:
    Does the story have the following within the first 2 pages:
  • speculative fiction?
  • protagonist?
  • a problem?
  • is it hooky? am I intrigued? drawn in?
  • is the writing reasonably good? --meaning it's NOT distracting me.
  • does the author have a unique voice?
    Does the story have the following by the end:
  • the protagonist acts?
  • something happens?
  • things are resolved?
Note not all these things are required--but if they're there, that story will get in hold-for-voting.

After stories are in hold-for-voting the editors rank them in numerical order. I then compile the total score of each story for the production meeting. The total score is just the sum of the individual editor's rankings--so a lower score is better. For example, if all three editors think a story is #1 among those in hold-for-voting it gets a total score of 3. And incidentally that story would be in the issue. (We've never had a story get a score of 3.) Notice, with all these numbers we're trying to be objective here as well.

However, when I decide on my personal rankings I'm not objective. I do take into account if I like the story or not. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it's how I do my rankings. Generally, each editor's favorite story, their #1, does make it into the issue.

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