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!

12 May 2016

fabulous fiction

This is our official first preview of coming attractions for the marvelous May 31, 2016 issue of Electric Spec. As I said before we had some really lovely stories to chose from. Thus, not surprisingly, we ended up with some truly fabulous fiction.
  • "The Watchers" by Frances Gow is an amazing, rich steampunk tale complete with aliens and biblical references.
  • "Mother" by Irene Punti is a unique, lyrical far-future science fiction tale with some horrific overtones.
  • "Cutting It Fine" by Graham Brand is a beautifully-written science fiction tale about an unusual family legacy and possible implications/ramifications in its demise.
We have two more author stories I hope to tell you about soon.

In addition, in Editor's Corner Nikki Baird will share a wonderful science fiction tale, "Runaway," in which a young girl isn't who she seems and an old man comes to terms with his past.

Be sure to check it all out May 31!

And, in the meantime, check back here for more previews!

10 May 2016

from Author Punti

We're putting together a great new issue of Electric Spec for May 31, 2016. One of our featured stories will be the fascinating SF tale "Mother" by Irene Punti. We asked Irene to say a few words about her story:

As the granddaughter of a twin sister, I have always been fascinated by the ways in which two people with the same genetic makeup and upbringing will seem almost identical in their character and then suddenly reveal themselves to be extremely different. This got me thinking about how it would feel to be treated like a copy rather than as an individual, and that’s how I started writing my short story “Mother”.

While I was writing the story I would walk home from work and I would see nests of processionary caterpillar on the pine trees (a very common pest in the south of Europe). They seemed to be the perfect example of losing your individuality: moving in a single file of caterpillars that look exactly like you, following the exact same path as the caterpillar before you. So I decided to incorporate them into the story. Plus I have always been slightly terrified of processionary caterpillars and it seemed only right that for once they would do something good for me.

Thanks, Irene!

Check out "Mother" on May 31, 2016 at Electric Spec!

03 May 2016

pulling back the curtain

The Electric Spec Editors recently had the production meeting for the marvelous May 2016 issue. Choosing amongst the lovely stories in hold-for-voting is always difficult. As I think I mentioned, we had an unusually large number of good stories in hold-for-voting. Thus, it was especially tough this time. :( Many of the stories we passed on were strongly liked by one or more editors. Take heart if you were in hold-for-voting: your story was publishable.
If you're interested in more subjective specifics regarding the meeting: the weather strongly resembled a blizzard when we met. (Yikes!)

We're in the process of emailing folks with our decisions. Yays also get a contract. Please send it back ASAP so we can start editing. Once the editor and the author agree on the story version, files still have to go to our copy-editor. Then, after we get files back from her we have to create the webpages. Yes, it's kind of an elaborate process. We also post author bios--so send those along, if relevant.

Other behind the scenes tasks include picking cover art, writing the Letter from the Editor, putting together the Editor's Corner entry. And, of course, we have to pay everyone! Please send along your paypal info. :)

We've also been encouraging authors to send along a blog entry for right here. Please consider this if you are one of our authors. I believe blog hits are around 520,000 at this point. Keep in mind that's hits accumulated over a decade. :)

Next week I'll post more specifics about delicious upcoming stories!

26 April 2016


In my neck of the woods, spring has finally sprung. The sun is shining, the scents of flowers ride gentle breezes. Yes, I would rather be outside in the sun, rather than inside on my computer! A very experienced full-time writer I know says the productivity of part-time writers plummets in spring and summer. He says: don't succumb to temptation! Keep your butt in the chair, your fingers on the keyboard.

What's a poor writer to do? Every writer needs to answer that question for him/herself. Personally, I'm going to give myself permission to yield to temptation, to shorten (not eliminate!) some of my writing sessions--with the caveat that I try to make them up another time.
Good luck with your own battles with temptation. :)

Behind the scenes we are hard at work on the marvelous May 2016 issue of Electric Spec. We are almost through the slush pile. We've got the production meeting scheduled for the beginning of May. We do seem to have an unusually high number of good stories already in hold-for-voting. Next week I'll start blogging about coming attractions in the new issue. I can already say we'll have some beautiful cover art and five excellent short stories!

19 April 2016

explain or not?

Preparations for the marvelous May 2016 issue of Electric Spec are in high gear! The submission deadline is passed. (But don't fear: we're accepting stories for the August issue.) Once again, we got a huge number of stories submitted. Thank you very much if you submitted! It will take some time, however, for us to get back to you... (See approx schedule in last week's blog post.)

In the meantime, I had an interesting discussion with some writer friends about explanations in novels. One writer recently finished a unique horror novel. Should she explain the whole monster mythology and origins and rules within said novel? Hhm... We thought: maybe not. It was scarier not knowing what was really going on. It was scarier thinking the monsters might come to our town!

I do think this is related to genre. At some point explaining your horror turns it into a science fiction. For example, if scientist John Smith's virus escapes ABC lab and sickens folks with the result that they get super hairy, their teeth grow, and they crave live food, the story seems like SF--especially if Dr. Smith is seeking a cure. If suddenly people howl at the moon, on the other hand, it seems like horror.
Fantasy can also be turned into SF with too much explanation. For example, if folks in your story can float by waving a magic wand it seems like fantasy. If folks levitate by manipulating dark energy it seems like SF.

Please note when I say explain I'm not talking about info-dumping. The age of the info-dump is over. Don't do that in any genre. Info-dumping involves the author directly explaining things to the reader. Often this is done via narrative without characters. A rule of thumb I use is: no more than 250 words of exposition at a time. Info-dumping can also be attempted via characters using the dreaded "As you know, Bob..." Don't do this. Characters should not discuss things they already know.

Bottom line: each author has to decide for him/herself. To explain or not to explain?
Good luck!