21 June 2016

writing for joy

Recently, one of my writer friends shared a project. It wasn't what I think of as his usual genre or topic--which I said. He agreed and said he'd combined a bunch of things he loved. As I watched him talk about it, I could tell he'd been writing for the pure joy of writing. His whole face lit up. And the joy, the passion was very evident in the piece. Wow.

I highly recommend this. Try writing something for the joy of writing. Don't think about market. Think about what you love, what you're passionate about. It can really rejuvenate your writing juices.
I bet the result will be beautiful!

Good luck!

Think about sending us your joyful writing. :)
The submission deadline for the next issue is July 15, 2016.

14 June 2016

Summer vacation -- not!

I know many writers from around the world. (Writers rock!) And I've been noticing a tendency now that summer is upon us (in the Northern hemisphere)... Some writers have stopped writing. Oh, no! Say it isn't so! I'm not the only one who's noticed this. Writer Dean Wesley Smith has been blogging about it for a while. An example is, Either/Or Thinking. Dean says some writers think they have to choose between family time and writing time, especially in summer.

Don't do it! Writers need to keep their writing muscles primed and ready, in shape. Writers need to write.
That's not to say you shouldn't take a break on a fun vacation. But in your everyday life: keep writing! Do not take the whole summer off.

Send us the fun new speculative fiction stories that result from your continuing hard work. We're starting to think about the awesome August 2016 issue...

Good luck!

07 June 2016

Tips from Grayson

We hope you're still enjoying the marvelous May Electric Spec stories. While we rest up a bit, Editor Grayson Towler has something to tell our prospective authors.

Here are a few tips you may never have heard that can help you stand out in the slush pile:

  1. Don’t start the story with your character waking up. It seems an obvious place to begin—your hero gets out of bed and heads out into to a day of adventure. In fact, it’s so obvious we see it all the time! See if you can figure out a different starting spot for your tale.
  2. Don’t have your character look in the mirror. It’s tricky to get that all-important character description in, especially for first person stories, but having your hero admire her flowing chestnut locks in the mirror is pretty cliché. And speaking of chestnut locks…
  3. Don’t just rely on hair style and color for descriptions. It’s amazing how much we run into this trend. For some reason, in many stories we read hair style and color are not just the first details we hear about a character, but they end up being the only traits we see!
Even if your favorite bestselling story starts with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, and describing their hair, remember these are trends we’ve seen so often they make our eyes glaze over. Keep a lookout to see if you’re leaning too hard on these well-used writing tropes, and we’ll all be grateful.

Thanks Grayson!

31 May 2016

We're live!

The latest issue of Electric Spec is available! W00t! Huzzah!

Thank you Artist Andrew Muff!
Thank you authors Graham Brand, Frances Gow, Irene Punti, D.A. D'Amico and Dean D'Amico, and Dale W. Glaser!
Thank you Associate Editors Minta Monroe, Candi Cooper-Towler and Chris Devlin!

Most of all, thank you readers! We wouldn't exist without you!

26 May 2016

from Author Glaser

We're pleased to post comments by Dale Glaser on his upcoming scintillating story "Red Screamy."

My father was my gateway to genre fiction in a lot of ways. I read the Tom Swift novels he had collected in his childhood, listened to his vinyl double album copy of the Star Wars soundtrack on the family turntable (back before cable TV and VCRs made watching the movie itself at home a possibility), and generally followed him down various rabbit holes from a young age. Eventually I went my own way and discovered my own particular fandoms. My father was never the horror fan I grew up to become, nor was he ever taken in by the mythological or dystopian overtones of heavy metal. Still, there's no denying that he got me started on the path, from way back when to where I am now.

Somewhere in the middle, though, there was the point in time where I was outgrowing child-friendly versions of science fiction and fantasy and moving into more mature material, still about aliens and magic and so forth but with explorations of moral gray areas and other existential ambiguities, as well. I was a precocious kid and a voracious reader, so this transition came young enough to be somewhat problematic. My father never forbade me to follow my own interests, but I do remember him having conversations with me about whether or not I really understood what an anti-hero was and that they were not exemplary role models. I promised him that I knew the difference, which may have been motivated as much by wanting to tell him what he wanted to hear as objective truth, and I like to think that time bore out the promise, but I leave it to others to judge how well-adjusted (or not) I truly turned out to be.

Over the years I often found myself returning to these ideas, the things we learn from our parents and the interests we share in common with them, and how many of those things are or aren't considered acceptable and appropriate. Once I finally had children of my own, I gained more insight into how it all looked from the other side. A staggering amount of insight, really, as anyone who has undergone the fundamental life shift of having children knows. Picking and choosing which parental interests to investigate further as a child is a luxury; determining what to offer and what to withhold from a child as a parent is a responsibility, wrapped up in the ongoing efforts of trying to mold and shape a halfway decent human being.

Somewhere in the never-ending process of sorting through all of the above, my story "Red Screamy" started to take shape. As with many story seeds, it grew from taking something I believe in and extending it far beyond the usual rational limits. I encourage my children to be unique and independent and free-thinking, and if that means outsiders might perceive them as a little strange, so be it. But what if that strangeness became its own kind of gateway to forces beyond a child's understanding, or even beyond my own? That struck me as a tale worth telling.

Another compelling wrinkle occurred to me as the story played out in my head: what if two parents fundamentally disagreed on where to draw the line between fair game and out of bounds? I'm very lucky, and eternally grateful, to have a partner in real life who shares both a good proportion of my interests and my philosophical outlook, and we've never experienced major conflict and strife over what our children are exposed to or encouraged toward. But in the world I was inventing, I could see how it would be easy for opposites to attract and then clash over the young, impressionable spirit they are both responsible for.

Ultimately I invented a portrait of a family to reflect that notion, and "Red Screamy" was the end result. So it's a little bit autobiographical, but also pure fiction. It's a little bit realism, but also fantasy. It's a little bit thought experiment, but also a cautionary tale. And what exactly is being cautioned against may certainly be open to interpretation.

Thanks, Dale!

Be sure to check it out May 31!

24 May 2016

from Author Gow

We're coming down to the wire now. The marvelous May 31, 2016 issue of Electric Spec is only one week away! We've been working feverishly behind the scenes to get your free speculative fiction out to you. As promised, here are some more previews of coming attractions. We will be featuring two more spectacular stories:
"One Slow Trigger Day" by D.A. D'Amico and Dean D'Amico is an unusual tale of old-West gun slingers and their challenges. Or it is? :)
"Red Screamy" by Dale W. Glaser is a disquieting horrific fantasy which isn't afraid to take some risks.
We'll also feature some amazing art and possibly some other surprises.

And now without further ado, some words from Frances Gow author of "The Watchers."

I wrote The Watchers when I starting researching steampunk fiction as part of my MA Creative Writing. The aim was to write a piece of fiction using the city as a backdrop, evoking a strong sense of place. Victorian London has always been a classic backdrop for steampunk and because I know the city well, I felt able to feed on its nostalgia. I chose Paris because it fascinates me and the similarities and differences between the two cities was interesting to explore.

So with the background suitably steampunk, I managed to get in a bit of steam-powered tech alongside the retro-futuristic inventions. The protagonist’s story itself attempts to subvert the norms of the historical times, simply by the fact she is female attempting to enter a male dominated profession. And of course, there have to be aliens involved somewhere. The story itself might not live up to the classic steampunk definition, but it is my version and I think what emerged was something quite unique.

Thanks Frances!

Check it all out on May 31, 2016!

17 May 2016

from Author Brand

As promised, here are some comments from Graham Brand, author of a story we are very proud to present: "Cutting It Fine."

When I checked my notes for "Cutting It Fine" I was surprised to find that it was the first science fiction story that I wrote, where by 'wrote’ I mean that I completed a first draft. However, it had such a long revision period that other stories came and went before this one reached the final version that you can read here.

I’ve always had a fascination for the people in the background of space-faring tales: the janitors, the barmen, the clean-up crews. One of my favourite episodes of Babylon 5 was "A View from the Gallery," which focusses on two maintenance workers, and let’s us see the space opera action of an attack on the station through their eyes.

I decided to get serious about writing back in 2011, and "Cutting It Fine" started life as a warm-up exercise. I plucked a topic from the air (a barber on a space station) and sat down and wrote without any preparation. That file—called 'Barber Musings’—became the first scene of the story.

My barber character then languished in his orbital salon for over a year, until I fleshed out the story to its first draft of 6,900 words in October 2012, with a revision trimming it down to 5,900 words in February 2013.

My day job as an IT project manager intervened again. Throughout all this I’d been running projects first in Seoul and then in Sydney, and I didn’t get back to the story for another year. In the spring of 2014 five of us from the MobileRead forums decided to put an anthology together, and "Cutting It Fine" was one of my contributions. We acted as beta readers for each other, and their helpful criticism saw the story revised, and cut still further to 5,350 words.

We didn’t get enough material for the anthology, sadly, and the process eventually stalled. A year later, I ran the story past the eyes of a good friend—the editor of a science journal—who found yet more fat to cut, and I arrived at the final version of about 5,000 words that appears here.

One more thing.
Although I’ve had other full-length science fiction stories accepted in the meantime, they’ve yet to appear. So my first science fiction short story has also turned out to be the first that I’ve had published. So, it’s a big thank you from me to the team at Electric Spec.

I hope you enjoy the story.

Thanks Graham!

Everyone check it out May 31, 2016!