28 May 2013

Marvelous May Issue!

Hurray! It's almost here, folks! The Marvelous May 31 2013 issue of Electric Spec! I know I've said this before, but I think our next issue is our best yet! :) The fiction is outstanding--and I'm totally objective, of course! We've got "The Disconnected" by Aaron Ritchey, which really packs an emotional punch. We've got "A Beastly Game" by Sarah Pinsker which is a very unusual combo of South African football (rugby, for Americans) and supernatural creatures. Yes, you have to read it to find out what kind of creatures! We've got the beautifully-written "The City of Tears" by Maigen Turner. Charlotte Nash's "Tartarus" is an action-packed mind-bending thrill ride set on another planet. Finally, we've got the literary-style "Bulls and Magic" by Jarod K. Anderson. As a bonus, Editor David E. Hughes contributed "The Art of Persuasion" for Editor's Corner; Dave is a master at creating legal stories with speculative elements. We have a very interesting fairy-tale movie column from our regular contributor, Marty Mapes. And, as if all that isn't enough, Editor Betsy Dornbusch interviews author Kenny Soward! Phew! That's an impressive amount of issue.

As we finish up behind-the-scenes, a big shout-out to all the authors who submitted their stories for consideration for this issue. Thank you! Electric Spec wouldn't exist without you! Thank you to our columnists! Special thanks to our behind-the-scenes folks including Chris Devlin, Nikki Baird, and our website administrator (you know who you are!)!
Apparently, I need to go cold-turkey on exclamation marks! (!)

Check it all out May 31, 2013!

21 May 2013

The Importance of Records

Creative writing is art, but there are some pesky business aspects to it as well. Probably the most important business thing is to keep a record of where you submit your stories and novels. It makes you a more efficient, more likely-to-be-published writer if you submit to probable markets in a timely fashion. Let's look at both parts of this statement, because they're both important.

A probable market is a market that accepts your type of work. This means you must do your background research. For short stories, a great speculative fiction resource is www.ralan.com. (Does anyone have a great general short fiction resource?) For literary agents, a great resource is www.agentquery.com. I've blogged about market before.

A timely fashion is a bit trickier. The industry convention for novels is you may query agents simultaneously for the same work. However, if you get asked for a partial or full manuscript, generally, the agent prefers an exclusive. The industry convention for short stories is NOT to submit the same story simultaneously. This means you can only submit to one market at a time. If you are submitting to a SFWA-approved professional market, for example, I would definitely abide by this rule. If you don't follow industry conventions, you run the risk of offending an editor or agent. That can have a negative impact on your career. Yikes!

Another fly in the ointment is publication. What exactly constitutes publication? If you post part or all of your story on your webpage, is this publication? What about a novel excerpt? What if it's posted on someone else's website or ezine? What if you get compensated? What if you don't? What about rewrites? How much do you have change to make a 'new' story? Regarding this stuff, just be honest and don't try to mislead anyone.
Of course, when the money starts rolling in you have to keep records of it for the tax man. :) I hope you have that problem!

I've tried quite a few things in pursuit of writing records including spreadsheets and databases and, I must admit, none of them work great. Do you have any good tips? If so, please let us know!

The bottom line is: it is important for writers to keep records. Good luck!

Stay tuned as next week we start bragging about the next marvelous issue of Electric Spec!

14 May 2013

Conference Season

Ah, springtime! Leaves are budding, flowers blooming, birds singing, and writers conference season is starting. If you're a writer, consider rubbing elbows with other writers in person. Conferences have a lot to offer: you can meet and get to know other authors, you can go to craft workshops. Some even have writing contests and pitch opportunities with agents and editors. Before you sign up, think carefully about what you might want to get out of a conference. Do you need inspiration to give your writing a new shot in the arm? Do you want to meet a particular agent or editor? Do you want to connect with other local authors? Do you want to find some new critique partners? How much does the conference cost, including travel expenses? Do your research.

Some conferencs coming up include: Clarksville Writers Conference (June 6-7, 2013), the Carnegie Center’s “Books in Progress” Conference (June 7-8, 2013). Personally, one of my favorites is Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers annual conference (Sept. 20-22, 2013). I go every year. The deadline for their prestigious commercial novel contest "Colorado Gold" is approaching: June 1, 2013.

In general, a great place to find out about writers conferences is Poets & Writers: Writers Conferences, Colonies, and Workshops. Another excellent resource is the Shaw Guide to Writers Conferences & Writing Workshops.
Does anyone have a favorite resource to share? Or a favorite conference to recommend?

Maybe I'll see you at a conference this summer!

07 May 2013


At the production meeting last week we had an intriguing discussion about what makes a story good. One thing that came up was endings. Since we blogged about Story Endings last fall, I won't repeat myself. Another important component of a good story is emotion. I did touch on aspects of this in Story Layers earlier this year. But it can't be emphasized enough...

A good story affects readers' emotions by putting the protagonist through emotional situations. If I, as a reader, am not emotionally affected by a story, it hasn't done enough to grab me. The writer hasn't taken advantage of all the tools at his/her disposal. Emotion is one of the metrics we used to chose the final stories for the marvelous May issue of Electric Spec.
Check it out May 31, 2013 and see if your emotions are engaged! Feel free to let us know one way or another.

03 May 2013

production meeting

Hi, gang. The Electric Spec editors had the production meeting for the marvelous May 31, 2013 issue. All went surprisingly smoothly as we mostly agreed on which stories would be a good fit for the issue. Editors are in the process of emailing authors the good or bad news. Authors who made it into hold-for-voting should hear back soon with a "Yay" or "Nay." And they should pat themselves on the back for a job well-done since all the hold-for-voting stories were publishable.
In more behind-the-scenes news, each editor got assigned their stories to edit. We also shuffled some of the other administrative duties around. It's been over 7 years after all!

We also had a long discussion about the differences between horror and macabre and what kind of stories we've been getting in this genre. To make a long discussion short, we're tired of getting stories where some kind of monster (literal or metaphorical) murders someone. We're more interested in spooky, creepy, and/or paradigm-shifting stories. Thus, we're going to update our submission guidelines to reflect this. Stay tuned for this, and recall the fiction submission guidelines are here.

I guess that's it for production meeting info.
Keep sending us your stories!