26 May 2015

new issue in 5 days!

We have a new issue of Electric Spec coming out in 5 days! You already heard from Author K.C. Griffin about her story "Mass Exodus" and know we'll be featuring chapter one of Emissary by Author Betsy Dornbusch. I believe we also bragged about Editor Betsy's Interview with Roberto Calas. We have a bunch of other neat stuff...

Author Jim Breyfogle tells us about "Sowing Peace" in his epic fantasy; you'll never think about a graveyard in the same way after reading this. Author Jessica Kelly explains how to take advantage of people's lack of attention to "Details" in her macabre tale.

We also have some science fiction. Author Malcolm Laughton makes us realize being an "Ageless Rock Star" is not as wonderful as it sounds. In "Cruising in an Event" Author George Schaade shows us the adventures of a father-daughter team in a chaotic world.

Be sure to check it all out on May 31, 2015!

19 May 2015

from our author

Here are some comments by Author K.C. Grifant about her story "Mass Exodus" which is upcoming in our marvelous May 31, 2015 issue of Electric Spec:

I have always been obsessed with flying. I wanted to soar since I was a kid, jumping from the third step of our front porch hoping that sheer willpower would launch me upwards. Dreams of unencumbered flying were the sweetest gift: for a few infinite dream-moments I experienced a buoyancy and freedom that could not be replicated in the waking world.

The germination for the story “Mass Exodus” was a single thought: what if we all had this ability to fly without explanation?

This strange occurrence would be met the way all news today is met: as a collective mass of reactions online. Social media has an unprecedented effect on how we process the world, especially unusual or upsetting events. The near-instant access to everyone’s responses moves us closer to a hive mind than ever before.

As an idea quickly propagates throughout a system like an aggressive virus, the hive mind could, conceivably, be hijacked to perpetuate a mass delusion or used to propel a jump in the evolution of our brains and psyches. As the main character tries to figure out what’s what and resist a powerful collective belief, she risks becoming humanity’s sole outcast.

Ultimately, the question that came out of this story was: if everyone believes in something, how do you know if it’s a mass delusion or a new reality? I invite you to read and decide for yourself.

12 May 2015

Author Betsy

I bet you were expecting preview of coming attractions for the marvelous May 31, 2015 issue of Electric Spec. This is a preview of coming attractions! In Editor's Corner this time, we are lucky enough to get chapter one of Author (and Electric Spec Editor) Betsy Dornbusch's new hardback novel Emissary. W00t! I've starting reading it and "ooh la la!" it's good. And I am totally objective. I objectively recommend it.

For those of you who only know of Betsy's editing expertise, she has several books out. There's Exile in hardback and trade paperback. I was even blurbed: "From the first line ("Cut her throat. His own wife."), readers of Betsy Dornbusch's Exile know they are in for a dramatic and exciting tale.... Any reader who joins her for the ride will be glad they did. Lesley Smith".
There's Archive of Fire, of which Author Aaron Michael Ritchey said "Archive of Fire is Supernatural on steroids." She also has a secret (oops!) identity as Ainsley, author of speculative erotica including Lost Prince, Quenched with E.C. Stacy, and Quencher with E. Cameron Stacy.
Anyway, my point is, Author Betsy knows what she's doing. Check her stuff out.

Here at Electric Spec we support authors. That's the whole reason we started the 'zine a decade ago. So, also coming up in the next issue will be Editor Betsy's fun interview of Author Roberto Calas! I can't wait!

05 May 2015

May 2015 prod meeting

We, the Electric Spec Editors, are hard at work on the marvelous May 31, 2015 issue! Recently, we had the production meeting. We met at a new establishment which did serve adult beverages. We all got carded--which was hilarious. :) I, personally, imbibed 5 different types of beer, but Editors Betsy and Dave went all fancy with the bourbon. The food was yummy. We did pat ourselves on the back a little for making Electric Spec a success for almost a decade. (Yeah!)

But, I know those aren't the types of details you're interested in. We had a vigorous discussion of the stories. One major consideration ended up being issue balance. We picked 2 SF stories, 2 fantasies, and 1 horror story. It was difficult because there were so many good ones, but we couldn't pick 5 fantasies, for example. Another major consideration was the story ending. Did the protagonist(s) do anything to cause the ending? Was something different at the end?

I emailed all the hold-for-voting folks who didn't get into the issue. If you're one of those, you should feel good about getting into hold-for-voting. We're sorry we can't published all the stories in h-f-v! We are in the process of emailing all the "yes" authors. Please send back your contracts promptly so we can start editing. We'd love to have more authors blog about their stories here, too. Please consider it if we're publishing your story.

Fun fact: we are nearing the half-million mark (500,000) for page views of the blog. Tell your friends. Come on, let's push it over the edge. :)

I'd like to give a special shout-out to our Associate Editor Nikki Baird who helps us read the slushy stories. Yeah, Nikki!

I'd also like to give a special shout-out to prospective authors. We wouldn't even have a 'zine if you didn't send us your works of art. Yeah, you!

28 April 2015

the whole package

We, the Electric Spec Editors, are finishing reading slush this week and moving on to choosing stories for the May 31, 2015 Electric Spec issue. I find this step (choosing) difficult because all the stories in hold-for-voting are good. This step is probably the most subjective. What do I look for? Well, I'll tell you: the whole package. In terms of stories this means:
  1. The story has a unique voice. This can be rendered via the protagonist's point-of-view or the prose or a beautifully-rendered world or something else. Basically, I want to get lost in the story.
  2. The story has a unique plot. I choose stories with plots I haven't read before. However, if the voice is lovely enough, this can be superseded.
  3. The story has a unique protagonist. IMHO every protagonist should be flawed in some way and be gifted in some way. The protagonist's unique qualities then should drive the plot problem and solution. I want to believe the protagonist is, or could be, a real person.
  4. The story is in a genre I prefer. Subjective-me really likes urban fantasy and hard SF and especially stories with time-travel and/or quantum physics. I like other types of fantasy and soft SF and macabre horror. In general, I prefer man-against-nature stories over man-against-man stories. I enjoy humorous stories (but humor itself is very subjective). I don't like stories with a cruel tone. I have been known to black-ball stories with rape, especially kid rape. Caveat Scriptor.
  5. Finally, there are editorial concerns: The story is mostly free of grammar and spelling errors. (Error-filled stories are more difficult to edit.) The story isn't super long (These are more work to edit). The story can't be similar to one we published before.
And then, of course, at the production meeting we have to worry about things like issue balance, meaning, for example, we can't publish 5 zombie stories.
But the production meeting is a post for another time...(like next week!)

21 April 2015

advice from reading slush

We are working hard behind the scenes on the May 31, 2015 issue of Electric Spec. Right now, we are still getting through the slush pile. Thus, you should expect to hear back from us by the end of April/beginning of May if we got your story.
Here's some advice for potential Electric Spec authors based on reading slush:
  • Focus on the first page. If the first page has a lot of spelling or grammar issues editors are less inclined to keep reading. If the first page is confusing editors are less inclined to keep reading. I should know who the protagonist is, where he/she/it is, when he/she/it is. Refer to each character consistently via one name. Don't put a lot of specialized terms or jargon that I can't figure out from the context on page one. I shouldn't be asking 'What's going on here?'
  • Do have a unique protagonist. Every real person is different, so every fictional person should certainly be different. The more unique they are, the better. How do you create a unique protagonist? Virtually everything in the story should be colored or interpreted through the protagonist's perceptions. Specific details also help here. For example, a new Lamborghini Veneno Roadster is different from a dented 2007 Nissan Versa and tells us something different about the character(s) that own them. And FYI: telling the reader the characters' hair color will not create unique characters.
  • Do have a unique twist on plot. Notice I didn't say a unique plot; I'm not sure those exist. For example, a story about zombies taking over is not unique. A story about zombies getting better was unique--the first time. A tip: if your plot has been made into a TV/cable show or a movie is it not unique/twisty enough. In particular, human men killing other humans or aliens is hard to make unique. A surprise reveal at the end that the protagonist is really an alien is hard to make unique.
  • Do have nice smooth prose. I recommend reading aloud to catch awkward sections. Generally, you don't want to repeat the same word within a sentence. If your prose is not smooth it takes me out of the story. Don't make me stop and ask 'What is the author trying to say here?' Any time I'm taken out of the story it gives me an opportunity to think 'I should reject this.'
  • For Electric Spec we like stories with a plot. This means something needs to be different at the end of the story than it is at the beginning of the story.
  • Do show. You can tell, you just need to do some showing as well. Telling is summarizing and puts a layer of author between the reader and the characters. Dialogue is a good way to show. :)
I guess that's it for now.

We sincerely thank you for sending your stories in!

14 April 2015

Morrell's Advice

Recently I had an opportunity to hear author David Morrell speak. He summarized many points contained in his writing craft book Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing: a novelist looks at his craft. I strongly agreed with much of his advice. In no particular order, here are some highlights:
  • Writing is a kind of self psychoanalysis. Use your one-of-a-kind psyche to guide you to original unique stories, subjects, themes and approaches. Don't try to imitate other authors. Don't chase the market.
  • Don't be ignorant about other authors. Read!
  • When you get stuck in your writing, consider having a conversation with yourself. What happens next? Why? So what? and the like.
  • Plot should equal conflict plus motivation.
  • Plot and character should be intimately related.
  • Write what you're passionate about! If you don't know about something, research it. Have adventures; live your life. A well-lived life has a lot material for fiction.
  • A writing career will have many peaks and valleys; keep your perspective.

How about you? What good writing advice have you gotten?

The submission deadline for the May 2015 issue is midnight U.S. MDT, April 15, 2015!
Get those stories in!