10 July 2018

research -- love it or hate it

We are working hard on the slush pile. Thanks for sending us your stories!
The submission deadline for the awesome August 2018 issue is July 15, 2018!

I was recently interviewed about my research process. As some of you may know, my day job is scientist. So, while I do write sometimes-technical science fiction, I rarely do any research. This is because I get my fill of scientific research every week for 40+ hours.

At the opposite extreme, I recently interacted with an author who was building a huge fantasy mythology based on science. He'd been working on this world-building for a long time. I find this very impressive but...
I have had writer friends in the past who have spent all their writing time on research and then never managed to write anything. Caveat scriptor!

How about you? Do you do research? Do you love it? Hate it?
Whatever the case: good luck!

03 July 2018

make stuff happen

We are slowly working our way through the Electric Spec slush. Never fear, if you submitted, from us, you will hear!

I read a story the other day which started off strong. The first para was interesting... I was excited to read more. Cut to 4 pages later and we were basically in the exact same situation. Hhm. Nothing was happening. I did keep reading. Eventually, I got to the end and I thought Is this really the end? I still had a lot of unresolved questions. Basically, this author set up a lot of neat stuff but never followed through. Nothing actually happened. Don't do this.

Thus, my advice to you is: make stuff happen in your story. This is a little market-dependent. Our market likes happening stuff. Your results may vary with other markets.

Of course, the 'make stuff happen' mantra works in other aspects of a writing career. Write stories! Write novels! Submit to editors! Publish! Make a website! Build your brand! And on, and on...

Good luck making all kinds of stuff happen!

26 June 2018

story endings

We are starting to really get into the work for the awesome August 2018 issue of Electric Spec.
I've discussed story beginnings multiple times, but I haven't discussed story endings as often... I did discuss it here.
The point is story endings are important.

The most important thing about a story ending is it needs to address the problem you introduced on page one (you introduced a problem on page one, didn't you?). I'm a little embarrassed to admit sometimes when I'm writing a story I end up solving a problem that wasn't introduced on page one. But the magic of rewriting enables me to then change the problem on page one. :) Violà! My story solution matches my story problem.

Another important element of the story ending is the emotional payoff. Take a moment and show the protagonist reacting to the conclusion. Is he/she/it relieved? happy? sad? injured? Whatever it is, what does the protag think/feel about it? Show it!

Good luck with your story endings!

19 June 2018

summer is for ...reading

The (northern hemisphere) summer solstice is almost upon us. Summer is officially here! Woo hoo! I still have fond memories of summer vacation from school. I recall going to the library a lot and reading, reading, reading. It was pretty awesome.

Perhaps inspired by those memories I try to do some extra reading in the summer. Especially fun is rereading some of my favorite long series. Right now I'm rereading Butcher's Dresden files--and enjoying every minute of it. How about you? Do you have any favorite series? Last summer I reread all Harris' Southern Vampire series books. They were great!

Keeping in the vein (no pun intended) of free fiction, we have thirteen years of Electric Spec fiction available on the site. So many fun free spec fic stories! Check them out!

Good luck with your reading this summer!

12 June 2018

great first page

We've finally stopped basking in the glow of the marvelous May issue of Electric Spec and have begun thinking about the upcoming awesome August issue. We've gotten back into the slush pile. Thank you for sending us your art! I'm constantly amazed that so many talented people send us their works of art. Since we get so many, though, that means we can't publish them all.

How do you get your story in our 'zine? You create a great first page. Sadly, and honestly, you usually get only one short page to entice us. What's a writer to do?

  • Do obey submission rules, including file format, word-length. Do not have excessive grammar/spelling problems. Generally, not doing this will not get you an automatic reject but it makes editors grumpy, so we're predisposed to reject.
  • Carefully consider if you want to do something less common like using present tense. You can do it but does it serve your art or is it just annoying?
  • Don't doing anything cliched like waking up, driving in a car, characters looking at themselves in the mirror, etc.
  • Do create a unique realistic voice--this is the number one thing that draws me into a story.
  • Do create an intriguing premise. Often this is where your speculative element comes in. What is amazing about your story?
  • Do create a fully-fleshed out world. Even on planet Earth everyone's world is different. Show us the world of your characters.
  • Speaking of showing, do show us something. A full first page of telling is a tough sell.
Is all this difficult to do on page one? Yes!
If you're struggling, consider reading the first pages of some published Electric Spec stories and analyzing what those authors did.

Good luck!

05 June 2018

marvelous May issue!

We're still enjoying the marvelous May 2018 issue of Electric Spec. If you haven't checked it out yet, here's what you're missing:

Every quarter a theme seems to emerge from the collective unconscious of the writers who submit stories to Electric Spec. This quarter's theme appeared to be the combination of science and magic. We offer two such stories, along with something for everyone else, including time travel, a post-apocalyptic future, and a bar worth fighting for.

  • "Tech Support" by Toni Johnson: One Arcanexus Level One Help Desk customer service representative gives new meaning to 'on the job training'.
  • "The Blood Portal" by Mary E. Lowd: When magic and space travel intersect, sometimes what you need finds you, instead of the other way around.
  • "Sigmund Seventeen" by Chris Barnham: When a moment is lost, a connection broken, how many tries does it take to get it back?
  • "The Perchant" by Bill Davidson: Sometimes, in order to regain your history, you have to forget everything you know.
  • "The Butcher of Swiffle Prime" by Josh Taylor: Sometimes, all you want is a strong drink and a friendly face -- even if you have to name-drop to get it.
  • And don't forget our Editor's Corner where associate editor Minta Monroe shares her short story "The Hobnailed Sole."
Which story is your favorite?

31 May 2018

We're Live! Huzzah!

We're live! The new issue of Electric Spec is out! Huzzah!

may 2018 cover

Thank you to all the authors, the cover artist, the tech support folks and all the editors! Yay!

And thank you readers!