13 February 2018

from Author Mabry

We're excited to present "Order of the Blessed Return" by Sean Mabry in the upcoming February 2018 issue of Electric Spec. Sean was kind enough to tell us a bit about it...

The inspiration for this story came in two parts. Part one was George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, which examines the idea that a miracle is "that which increases faith" regardless of its truth value. Part two was my long-running fascination with necromancers. At some point, I realized that a skull-and-black-robes necromancer could easily position himself as a miracle worker if he only put a Lazarus-type spin on his works. Thus, the Order of the Blessed Return was born.

Of course, that's not how the final version came about. The first draft took that premise and used it to wag a sanctimonious finger at religious hypocrisy. As fun as it was to write that draft, I'm glad I didn't stop there. If I had, this story would be much shallower and more mean-spirited than (I hope) it is now. As I revised the story and let the characters become real people, I discovered something important. I discovered that, at its core, this story isn't just about religion.

At it's core, this is a story about compromise. We all make comprises between what our hearts know and what reality demands. We do dirty things and try to soothe ourselves with clean words. We set noble goals and set to work with coarse tools—the only tools available. Personally, I don't believe anyone in the Order is evil. I believe they are people, trying their best to make sense of a frightening world.

Of course, that's your decision to make in the end, just like Brother Wynam must make his decision.


Thanks, Sean! Very interesting!

06 February 2018

Productive Meeting

We, the Electric Spec Editors, recently had a very productive production meeting! The weather was scary and spooky, filled with fog, ice, and snow--but we overcame it.
This time, the stories were so outstanding, we couldn't decide on just five. So, for the first time ever we will be publishing six stories! Huzzah! Thank you for sending us your excellent stories.

I'm excited that we also have two authors lined up for blog posts already. Check back here on Feb 13 and Feb 20 for those. Hopefully, we'll have some more, as well.

At the meeting we had a nice discussion of story themes and the current cultural zeitgeist. It's fascinating how different authors address similar themes. This time we had a lot of social commentary along the dystopian arena. We also had ...porcupines. Weird, huh?

So, book-keeping: Everyone who submitted during the relevant submission period should have heard from us. If you did not: something went awry and please submit. Everyone who was in hold-for-voting but did not make the issue has been sent an email. A few acceptances are still are their way; keep an eye out for contracts. Next steps: editors work with authors to edit stories.

Be sure to check out the fabulous February 28, 2018 issue!

30 January 2018

2017 Reader's Choice Story of the Year

One of our editors, Nikki Baird, just finished the contest for 2017 Reader's Choice Story of the Year...

And the winner is: Clara by Adriana K. Weinert. Congratulations, Adriana! Woo hoo!

There was also an Honorable metion: The Chain Outside of Time by Aaron D. Proctor. Congrats, Aaron!

Checkout the ElectricSpec Facebook page some time.

Here, next time, I'll post a report on the Production Meeting.

23 January 2018

surprise me

We, the Electric Spec Editors, are hard at work, going through slush for the fabulous February 28, 2018 issue. We only have about another week to finish up. I've read some decent stories recently that I did not advance because ...I saw the ending coming from a mile away. Please don't telegraph your story ending in the first paragraph. Consider surprising your reader.

How do you do this?

  • For one thing, successful authors are readers. You should read in your genre to know what's been done before.
  • Try a reversal in your story. This is when it seems as if the story is going in a particular direction, but, bam! it changes course.
  • A reversal can be associated with a dark moment when all seems lost. Dark moments are very effective because they tug at readers' emotions. And, then, when it turns out all isn't lost, the reader rejoices. Hurray! More emotions.
  • Original unique characters will often surprise readers, because unique characters should drive a unique story.
  • Original unique settings can likewise surprise readers because we haven't seen them before.
  • Nonlinear chronologies can be surprising. At best, all the threads l come together in the end, prompting the reader to think: Wow! So, that's what was going on. :)
  • Your idea here.
Good luck with your surprising story!

16 January 2018

most popular blog posts

Doh! You just missed the deadline for the fabulous February 28, 2018 issue of Electric Spec. (It was Jan 15.) But, don't worry. You can submit now fo the marvelous May 2018 issue.
We are hard at work on the next issue of Electric Spec.

So, in the meantime...a few statistics. We are about to cross into 600,000 views for the blog! (Yes, right here!)
(Unfortunately, since we've had a few different hosters over the years, we don't have overall stats for Electric Spec itself.)
So, focusing on the blog, we tend to get a significant uptick around release dates. We also get a signficant upticks when we have guest bloggers--especially authors. :) Yay, authors!
It appears that two of our most popular non-author, non-release-date blog posts were:

Keep those stories coming! Thank you!

09 January 2018

characterization

At Electric Spec we're really trying to get through the slush pile. Thank you for sending us your stories!

Every editor is different. Personally, I enjoy stories with strong characterization. I want to believe your characters are real people. How do you do this? By being specific. Use specific details. For example, don't write 'cookie,' write 'homemade chocolate chip cookie,' or whatever. Also, use metaphors and similes that are specific to your character. A witch would have much different metaphors and similes than a scientist. Often, you want to give the specific subjective thoughts and feelings of characters. Show me what's inside their head.

Furthermore, generally, the protagonist should be special in some way. Show me this specialness, and then use it in an integral way in the story. For example, I just read a story in which the protagonist is a clock-maker. The climax and resolution of the story should thus involve clock-making. Perhaps your protag is unusually compassionate or brave or whatever. The point is the story resolution should hinge on whatever this uniqueness is.

Consider sending us a story with some unique specific characterizations!

Don't forget the submission deadline for the fabulous February 2018 issue is right around the corner: January 15, 2018! Good luck!

02 January 2018

e-mo-tion

Happy New Year!

Here's hoping 2018 is even better than 2017!
The submission deadline for the fabulous February 28, 2018 issue of Electric Spec is: Jan 15, 2018, midnight, US Mountain time.

We're starting to get enmeshed in the slush for the new issue, so I have a tip...
The number one job of an author is to evoke emotion in the reader. I can't stress this enough.
E-mo-tion is the most important component of every story. If I don't have an emotional reaction to a story, I'm much less likely to buy it. Conversely, if I do have an emotional reaction to a story, I'm much more likely to buy it! :)

What are some good examples of emotional stories? I happen to be rereading Connie Willis' excellent book The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories (2014). In the past, I've discussed "The Last of the Winnebagos" (here and here) so I won't do that again. Instead, I'll mention "A Letter from the Clearys." Wow, talk about an amazing emotional reaction. It may be a perfect story. It starts very subltly: "There was a letter from the Clearys at the post office." What follows is a very slow reveal of something huge (I won't spoil it for you) done via an exceptionally well-created character. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.

Send us your emotion-evoking story!