28 February 2015

Check it out!

Check it out! We're live with a brand-new issue of Electric Spec! Huzzah! Thanks for joining us as we start our tenth year!

Thank you very much to our authors. Thank you very much to our associate editors, Nikki Baird and Chris Devlin. Thank you very much to our tech support folks at Hardlight Multimedia. Thank you author Rebecca S.W. Bates for the interview. And special thanks to our cover artist Joel Bisaillon. Check out his awesome picture:

And most of all: Thank you readers!

24 February 2015

more free fiction

Savvy readers know at the end of this week we'll be giving you more free fiction in the Fabulous February 28, 2015 issue of Electric Spec! Here at Electric Spec we love speculative fiction, all kinds.

Rounding out our quintet of excellent stories will be Peri Fletcher's fantasy "When Next the Rains Come" and George Walker's science fiction story "Museum Man."
Among other things, both of these stories do a marvelous job with plot and character arc. Things are definitely different at the end than they were in the beginning. Coincidentally, the protagonists in both stories rebel against their fate, creating new paths for themselves. Aren't active protagonists great?

We'll have a couple other fun items in the issue including a fascinating interview with author Rebecca S. W. Bates and a dramatic bonus story in Editor's Corner.

Be sure to check everything out on February 28!

17 February 2015

macabre horror fantasy coming

Only eleven days until the fabulous February 28, 2015 issue of Electric Spec!

Last week you heard a little about one of the upcoming stories. We also have some exciting macabre horror fantasy coming in the issue. Yes, that's a mouthful. The horror genre is the most difficult to define. The Horror Writers Association says horror can deal with the mundane or the supernatural, with the fantastic or the normal. It doesn't have to be full of ghosts, ghouls, and things to go bump in the night. Its only true requirement is that it elicit an emotional reaction that includes some aspect of fear or dread. FYI if you're a horror writer you should know about the Horror Writers Association (HWA).

In eleven days you'll get to read for yourself Jason Sturner's "Potawatomi Island" in which a man travels to a spooky island searching for answers to a long-standing mystery.
You'll also get to read Charles Payseur's "Capital Coffee" in which coffee's role in the apocalypse is illustrated.

Check them both out in the new issue!

10 February 2015

from our author

In case you haven't heard, we have another fabulous issue of Electric Spec coming at the end of the month. It will contain several excellent stories. One of them, "Once Lost, Gone Forever," is by author Gwendolyn Kiste. We asked her to tell us about her story:

At its core, “Once Lost, Gone Forever” is a coming of age story. As a huge fan of novels like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird, I set out to create a supernatural tale that transforms the chaotic nature of teenagers into an overt “gift” that the two lead characters use to express themselves, albeit with dangerous results. For so many reasons, Inali and Melissa are unlike anyone I’ve ever met, yet they both share similarities with virtually every friend I had growing up—in particular their desire for belonging as well as their craving for a life that’s just over the horizon but always somehow out of reach.

Just before I wrote “Once Lost, Gone Forever,” my own best friend from high school moved across the country to start fresh with a new partner. While I was (and am) so happy for her, it got me thinking about how much our bonds forged when we’re children impact us for the rest of our lives. We don’t require friends in the same practical way we need family. Friends fill a different type of need, one that helps us understand who we are and how we fit into the world. With these themes in mind, I wanted to craft something dedicated to that profound feeling of young friendship. An ephemeral, even ethereal experience, I hope I’ve done it justice.

Be sure to check it out on February 28, 2015.

03 February 2015

About the production meeting

We, the Editors of Electric Spec are working hard behind the scenes on the February 28, 2015 issue. Recently, we had our production meeting for this issue. Thus we are in the process of emailing all the authors with stories in hold-for-voting with a yea or nay. Yea authors also get a nifty contract which they need to email back so we can start editing their stories. Let me reiterate something I've said before: if your story was in hold-for-voting it was publishable. Writing is a tough business so you have to appreciate small victories. You should pat yourself on the back.

Some totally unbusinesslike impressions of the meeting... We met for the first time at an Asian restaurant which seemed to have only one waiter working. Thus, we had less liquor than usual. :( Editor Dave also said the scotch and soda he ordered was the oddest he'd ever tasted. I do wish I had a picture of his expression when he tasted it. However, my beers were good and my sushi was good, so I'm not complaining.
We invented a new game. When the fortune cookies come, instead of adding 'in bed' at the end, add 'in my novel.' Thus, here are our novel fortunes:

  • The axe soon forgets, but the tree always remembers in my novel.
  • Take time to relax especially when you don't have time for it in my novel.
  • Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it in my novel.

Here are some more interesting/relevant impressions from our story discussion:

  • Length was an issue. Very short, flash, pieces are tough; it's hard to write an entire plot in less than a thousand words. Longer pieces (over 5,0000 words) were not popular. None of us seemed to want to edit those.
  • Don't worry about political correctness. We had a story with a Muslim protagonist doing some unusual things and we discussed if we should worry about offending people. Bottom line: No worries. Send us your politically incorrect stories.
  • Telling is not a hit with us. If a story has a lot of telling, i.e. summarizing of the story, rather than showing the story, it was less likely to be chosen. To be clear, none of the stories were all telling--such a story wouldn't have made it into hold-for-voting.
  • Story epilogues weren't popular. One editor said why would a short story need an epilogue? Put the whole story in the story.
That's about it for the behind-the-scenes. I won't tell you about seeing Editor Betsy and Editor Dave 'talking' in the dark and deserted parking lot. Under the full moon. I won't tell you how their ears seemed much larger and hairier, or their hands looked much claw-ier, or their teeth much bigger and sharper. I will tell you I got out of there quick!

27 January 2015

genre versus literary

I've been thinking a lot lately about the dichotomy between genre and literary fiction. This is probably because I'm in the process of reading The Best American Short Stories 2014. Of course, BASS is the collection for literary fiction. While all these stories are beautifully written, I wouldn't have chosen any of them for Electric Spec.

The series editor Heidi Pitlor had some telling words in her intro: ...many stories tended to wander--sometimes intriguingly, often into unsettling territory--rather than accelerate toward some definitive endpoint. While some stories that I read this year were built around or upon some narrative roadway...plenty were not.
To me this epitomizes the divide between genre and literary fiction. I would say genre fiction needs to have a narrative roadway, i.e. a plot. This means something needs to be changed at the end of the story. It could be subtle, e.g. a change within the protagonist, but something needs to be different.

When I choose fiction for Electric Spec I agree with the 2014 BASS editor Jennifer Egan: The best fun, for me, comes from reading something that feels different from anything else. ...Let's say that I'm biased toward writers who take an obvious risk, formally, structurally, or in terms of subject matter, over those who do a familiar thing exquisitely.
We do strive to publish original stories.

Egan is also a bit provocative considering her job as BASS editor: ...I don't care very much about genre, either as a reader or as a writer. To me, fiction writing at any length, in any form, is a feat of radical compression: take the sprawling chaos of human experience, run it through the sieve of perception, and distill it into something comparatively miniscule that somehow, miraculously, illuminates the vast complexity around it.
This is definitely something to aspire to.

Maybe the genre/literary divide isn't so big. What do you think?

Next week I'll tell you about the Production Meeting for the Feb 28, 2015 issue.

20 January 2015

write a lot

We editors tend to get asked "How do I write a story you'll buy?" This question is really "How do I become a better writer?" There are several things we recommend including joining a critique group, reading a lot of fiction and reading writing craft books. However, the number one thing you can do to improve your writing is write a lot.

A while ago Neil Gaiman said on his journal:Chuck Jones told would be artists to draw, explaining that "you've got a million bad drawings inside you and the sooner you get them out, the better". Raymond Chandler is reputed to have told would be authors that they have a million words of crap to get out of their system. And in both cases there's a lot of truth there -- if only because it allows you to keep going despite your technical limitations and inability to get the words or the pen to do what you want, and eventually find yourself, well, competent. And some of the words and pictures you turn out on the way can be pretty good too.

There's really no substitute for this. You have to put in the time and energy and put the words on the page/screen. You have to get used to putting one word after the other. I think it also helps you get over the preciousness of your writing. Authors need to be able to kill their darlings. :)

Behind the scenes, we are very busy at Electric Spec getting through the slush for the Feb 28, 2015 issue. If you submitted a story by the Jan 15 deadline you should hear from us by the beginning of Feb with a 'No thanks' or a 'Hold-for-voting' email. I better get back to it!