12 March 2019

Fiction Trends

We've been doing Electric Spec long enough to be cognizant of fiction trends. Today, I'm going to discuss two separate issues: format and content.

In terms of format, fiction is shorter. Flash fiction is becoming more and more popular. I think this is technology-driven as we read on our phones, etc. Some authors are even able to write a story within the confines of twitter! Impressive! Closely related to this, fiction starts in media res, in the middle of things, even more than ever. Fiction has shorter sentences and paragraphs, as well--all related to technology changes. Consequently, as editors, we do look for stories that start quickly.
Another huge format issue is audio. Audio is gaining more and more of the fiction market. (We don't have any plans at Electric Spec to get into audio.)
Something that hasn't happened much yet but has been promised is: multi-media and/or interactive fiction. I do believe in the future, we will absorb our fiction differently. :)

In terms of content, there have been four main trends I've noticed in recent years:

  • Genre mashups. I believe this is driven by the success of indie publishing. No longer are authors constrained by the rules of big publishers. So, readers have gotten more and more used to mashups, until they're requesting them. At Electric Spec we love genre mashups!
  • Dystopia/grimdark fiction. Of course, dystopian fiction has been around a long time, but starting about two years ago we really started seeing more of it. (I'll leave the cause(s) of this pessimism to your imagination.) This type of fiction is very pessimistic.
  • Solar punk/hope punk fiction. Solar punk is basically fiction that's climate-friendly with green technology. Often it has African and/or Asian aesthetics, as well. The African/Asian influences are a result of Black Panther's massive success, in my opinion. Yay! Usually solar punk is also positive and optimistic. Some people now refer to optimistic fiction as hope punk. I believe it is a direct reaction to all the negatives of dystopia/grimdark fiction. Of course, back in the 'golden age' of science fiction was almost always optimistic. We love solar punk and hope punk!
  • Kick-ass women protagonists. I think this is a direct reaction to the Me-Too movement. Writers and readers want to write/read stories of female empowerment rather than victimization. This will only increase with Captain Marvel's success. Electric Spec loves kick-ass women stories!
Whether you embrace the trends or buck them, good luck with your fiction!

05 March 2019


We're still enjoying the fabulous February 28, 2019 issue ofElectric Spec! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!
How about that nice cover art, huh?

What's your fave story? The Strongest Man in the Village? Guinevere? Riverbed? When He Stopped Crying? The Blessing of Song?

We enjoyed them all and hope you did, too!

28 February 2019

Fabulous February Issue Live!

We're Live! Check out the fabulous February 28, 2019 issue of Electric Spec!

Thank you authors! Thank you artists!

Thank you editors!

And, most of all, thank you readers!

27 February 2019

from Author Mueller

We're excited to feature the fantasy "Guinevere" by Amelia Dee Mueller. She tells us a little about her writing process.

Guinevere was the first short story I ever wrote. Before it, I’d already pumped out two pretty awful novels that I love to my deepest core but that will never see the light of day, but something about writing a short story was very intimidating to me. I’d wanted to tell Guinevere’s story for a long time, but I never thought a short story would give me the room to do it. She’s a legend, literally, and there’s no way I could cover all of her in only a couple thousand words. But I couldn’t come up with enough of a story to take up a novel’s worth. So her story sat on the back burner in my mind, waiting to be written.

Luckily something came a long that gave me the push I needed: a deadline and peer pressure. I was taking my first creative writing class at the University of North Texas and needed something to turn in. The only story I had ready was Guinevere's, and everyone in my workshop was turning in such wonderful works and I knew anything that I came up with last minute wouldn’t hold up against theirs. I get competitive in workshops, which is exactly what you’re not supposed to do, but I can’t help it. I wanted to write the best story of the course, and the best in me was the story I’d been sitting on for almost a year.

I forced myself to sit down and outline it as a short story, and then I stayed up all night pounding out a first draft that I hated, as we all do with our first drafts. I revised. I rewrote. I made it better. I turned in something I wasn’t proud of. I got good feedback from talented classmates. I revised. I rewrote. Rinse and repeat.

I could go into the grueling submission process I went through after that, but it would look pretty similar. Writing is about creativity and inspiration and character and all of that, but all of that is worthless without discipline. I needed outside forces to get me started on that path, but after I found it I was able to discipline myself.

Writing is hard work, but for us that commit to it, it’s work worth doing. Even the hard parts. Guinevere taught me that.

Thanks, Amelia! Very interesting!
Be sure to read "Guinevere" and the rest of our stories tomorrow, in the fabulous February 28, 2019 issue of Electric Spec!

26 February 2019

from Author DiMaggio

We're excited to feature the literary horror story "Riverbed" by Rachel DiMaggio in our next issue. Here's what she tells us about her process.

Dry Spells: Block or Boon?

I’ve often heard the advice to write every day. I’ve tried that many times, and it seems to result in very few worthwhile pages. When I’m in “writing as creative practice” mode rather than “first draft, go go go!” mode, I don’t force myself to write every single day. Instead, I try to write on a semi-regular basis for two reasons: to be ready for a story that is almost ready to bloom, and to explore concepts and ideas in search of stories that haven’t formed yet. I experience it as tending a wild and unpredictable garden. Sometimes the soil needs to rest. Sometimes it needs to be nourished with the writing, music-making, and art of others. Sometimes I just need to ignore it and let the briars and wild flowers take it over until there is so much life and color that I have to get back into the work.

Even so, there are a few tricks I use to get through writing blocks. Having a small space that you associated with writing is really helpful, whether that’s a desk, a library study carrel, or a home office. I’m very lucky to have a dedicated room for my writing, and when I go there I know that it’s creativity time. It’s also the space where I do yoga and meditate. I also primarily use this room for all the peripheral work associated with promoting and selling my writing. Having some writing rituals or objects, such as lighting a candle, using a writing-only notebook, or staking claim to a corner of the coffee shop has also worked for me!

I've recently been working on staying creative by doing art and craft projects that are completely outside of writing. Hand embroidery allows my mind to run down whatever paths present themselves, while providing a sense of satisfaction from producing something tangible. Plot points and character motivations tend to untangle themselves when I am not staring into a Word file, but at something else. The vigilante part of my mind that shoots down rogue ideas left and right tends to check out when I’m involved in a non-writing project. That’s when the cool stuff sneaks in.

Thanks, Rachel! Be sure to check out her story this week in the February 28, 2019 issue of Electric Spec!

25 February 2019

Author Davidson in BHotY

We heard some good news from Author Bill Davidson. His story "A Brief Moment of Rage" will be featured in the Best Horror of the Year Volume 11 later this year. Congratulations, Bill!

Be sure to check out his new SF story "The Blessing of Song" in Electric Spec on February 28, 2019!

21 February 2019

from Author Stone

In the upcoming fabulous February issue of Electric Spec we're excited to feature the fantasy "The Strongest Man in the Village" by Lucy Stone. She gives us some thoughts on writing...

Writing is very difficult, and I probably shouldn't be doing it. I have a job and a three-year-old. They're both very demanding, but have their lovely moments. The three-year-old has more lovely moments than the job, but he also has more excruciating moments than the job, so it kind of evens out.

I can't give up the job, because it pays my mortgage, and I can't give up the three-year-old, because he’s my little guy and I love him to the stars and back (which is a longer trip than to the moon). Writing would seem to be the expendable thing. Except it isn’t.

I used to write when my son was sleeping, but he doesn't nap in the daytime anymore, so I write in the evenings and on into the night, even when I know I have to get up early for work the next day, because I don’t love my job--or even my health--the way I love this.

So what is it? Why do I find it so easy to write about the negatives of writing, but not the positives?

I think it’s because the positives are as fundamental as breathing, so I don’t think about them much. My favourite is probably spending time with my characters in my head--listening to their various gripes and jokes and morose predictions--which I realize is something I did before I knew how to write, and still do now in the long moments when I don’t have a pen in my hand.

But there's also:

1) Day-tripping in other perspectives and other worlds, which you can wrap around you like a shawl when it’s cold and horrible outside.

2) Building up worlds in which you have the intoxicating power of control, and then realizing that you don’t.

3) Thinking, when you manage to pin down the slimmest, clumsiest shadow of a thought, that somebody else might recognize it, and say "Yes, that’s it--I’ve thought that too!"

4) Challenging yourself to think: what would this feel like? What would this look like? as though every scene is an intricate puzzle with no right or wrong answer.

5) Telling stories to please yourself, when the books you buy seem to miss the mark.

6) Re-writing other people’s stories the way you think they should have gone.

It's all the fun of reading, with the added bonus that you can congratulate yourself on having come up with it all.

That's probably where I should stop, because that’s the contradiction about writing I can never quite resolve: it’s losing yourself while at the same time pandering to yourself. Some people call it escapism, but everything about it is inescapably you.

That's quite a nice break for a mother, of course, because when you’re looking after a little one, you’re expected to be a Mother and not a person. I've written for most of my life, but never so feverishly as in the months after my son was born.

Anyway. I'll keep at it. I used to think I was doing it for the praise, but that has tailed off, and I’m still scribbling, so I guess I am doing it for love.

Interesting, Lucy! Thanks!

Check out all the stories on February 28, 2019!