06 October 2015

more slush pile tips

Sometimes it seems the slush pile is never-ending... We know it takes awhile for authors to hear from us. Sorry about that! Without further ado, here are more tips gleaned from the slush pile:
  • Regarding plot:
    • Please don't start your story with the protagonist waking up.
    • Please don't send us your story of a man killing his girlfriend and/or wife. You wouldn't believe how many of these we get and it's very hard to do something fresh.
    • In terms of horror plots, possession by demonic types is a close second. If you must write this, do something unusual with it.
    • Do consider sending us epic fantasy with some kind of unusual twist. We don't get enough epic fantasy.
    • Do consider sending us urban fantasy (without vamps or weres).
    • Do consider sending us some kind of genre mashup.
    • Do consider sending us steam punk.
  • Regarding point-of-view: Fiction does follow trends and omniscient narrators are off-trend. If you want to try this, more power to you, but make sure you do it right! Head-hopping within a paragraph and especially within a sentence is not good. The current trend is for very close third-person pov or first-person pov.
  • Regarding science: I have been known to say you don't have to know a lot of science to write science fiction. (Of course, knowing science is a plus!) I stand by this. However, including blatantly wrong science will get you automatically and very quickly rejected.
Please do continue sending us stories.

FYI the submission deadline for the November 2015 issue is approaching: October 15, 2015. Good luck!

29 September 2015

slush pile tips

We've started working on the notable November 2015 issue of Electric Spec, namely, going through the slush pile. Sadly, we can't critique all (or any) of the stories submitted to the 'zine. But, from time to time, I give some advice here on the blog. These tips are gleaned directly from reading our slush. I would tell the respective author this if he/she were standing in front of me.
  • Be careful not to use too many adjectives. A single sentence probably shouldn't have four or more adjectives. Every sentence probably should not have adjectives. Instead of adjectives, use specific nouns, use strong verbs, use distinctive similes and metaphors.
  • Something should happen in your story. There are markets which publish stories in which nothing happens. This is not one of those markets. How can you tell if something has happened? Something should be different at the end of the story. It can be subtle but it has to be discernible.
  • You must have speculative elements. Metaphorical gods, monsters, etc. likely are not sufficient. Literal gods, monsters, etc. likely would be sufficient. Of course, your literal gods/monsters/etc. could also be metaphorical gods/monsters/etc. :)
  • Proofread your piece. If I see a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes on the first page it's a turn off. I may stop reading. This may be unfair to the author. :( But, as an editor I don't want to deal with a piece that needs extra work.
That's it for tips for now.

Please do not query us asking about your story. We get hundreds of stories and extra queries just bogs down the whole process.

That being said, please do keep sending us your stories! We love authors!

22 September 2015

Le Guin interview

Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the preeminent speculative fiction authors. Her novels include The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, A Wizard of Earthsea and many other award winners. Her work deals with themes such as gender and sexual identity, race, culture, environmentalism, anarchism and others.

About science fiction she says, "...science fiction ...contemplates possible futures."

Last week there was a very interesting interview of Le Guin over at salon.com: Ursula K. Le Guin on myths, Modernism and why "I'm a little bit suspicious of the MFA program". Highlights include:

  • Regarding publishing: the rules of the game are all changing, and the game itself is kind of a different game... no one knows where it'g going.
  • Regarding writing: ...there is a good way to write, and a not-so-good way to write. This hasn't changed.
  • Regarding critique groups: ...People who meet and read ... and critique...It's simply very nourishing and very useful.
She's a fascinating author. Check out the whole article!

15 September 2015


What a whirlwind weekend! We published the latest and greatest issue of Electric Spec on September 10. We hope you are still enjoying the issue. What's your favorite story? Ghostalker? The Metal of a Man? A Dose of Aconite? Tried and True? Peacekeeper? I really enjoyed them all. Please check them out if you haven't already and tell your friends!

Another milestone this weekend was the annual Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW) conference. All the Electric Spec editors and associate editors are members of RMFW and participate in conference. For example, Editor Betsy presented "Learning to Love the Step-Children of Writing" which was about taglines, queries and synopses. I presented "Scintillating Science for your Science Fiction." (Psst, here's the link to all the handouts: rmfw.org/conference/2015-handouts.)
If you're a writer, you should seriously consider attending the conference next year.

One of our most popular Electric Spec blog posts resulted from last year's conference when Editor Betsy and I taught a 'How to Write a Short Story' workshop. The post was called Short Story Cheat Sheet. Check it out.

We're accepting submissions for the November 2015 issue of Electric Spec. Get those stories in!

Phew! That's it for now. I think I need to go rest some more...

10 September 2015

Yay live!

Yay! We're live!
Check out the new issue of Electric Spec!

Thank you, authors!
Thank you, Ms. Carriger!
Thank you, associate editors Nikki and Devlin!
Thank you, tech support folks in Ireland!
Thank you, cover artist P. Emerson Williams!

Most of all: thank you, readers!

08 September 2015

new issue brag-athon

I've talked a bit here about the spectacular September 10 2015 issue of Electric Spec. Now I get to tell you about the rest of it!

As you might expect, we have some fabulous fantasy. We present to you "Ghostalker" by T.L. Huchu, in which the voice and world-building are excellent as the protagonist has to deal with ghost-related issues...
"A Dose of Aconite" by Lindsey Duncan shows us the emotional trials and tribulations of a werewolf hunter. Interestingly, both of these might be considered urban fantasy.

As you might also expect, we have some scintillating science fiction. In the SF arena we have a unique character, who used to work in well, an ...arena, and has a unique problem. This is Travis Heermann's story "The Metal of a Man."
"Tried and True" by Daniel Brock is a harrowing tale also involving technology and personal evolution.

Be sure to check out the entire issue on September 10! You'll be glad you did. :)

01 September 2015

author Dave

Last time I talked about the exciting Carriger interview coming up in the spectacular September 10, 2015 issue of Electric Spec. And before that we heard from author Jamie Killen about her neat story "Peacekeeper."

Another treat we have coming up is an Editor's Corner story by author and editor David E. Hughes, "Rex's Last Ride." This is an unusual one featuring demonic creatures and a motorcycle gang... I won't spoil it for you. I will recommend you check it out.

We've featured several stories from author Dave over the years. Many of them have been humorous. We had "The Dog that Broke the Camel's Back" which was a very humorous ghost story (no thanks to me!). In "My Kingdom for a Gislestorchen" a humorous SF tale puts a new spin on organ donation.

Many of them have been less humorous. Recently, we featured the haunting fantasy "Forgetting".There was also The First Priest of Maat an unusual fantasy inspired by Egyptian mythology (okay, this did have some humorous elements). Another unusual one was "The Devotion Egg" featuring religion and an egg (as you might have guessed). Dave also contributed the fantasy "Give ... Grieve." -- definitely not humorous.

Readers may know in real life Dave is actually a lawyer and much of his longer fiction features lawyers. In the fantasy "The Art of Persuasion" we see what really could go wrong with lawyering. Hmm. Dave has had a lot of successes in the courtroom...

Be sure to check out the new issue September 10!