28 February 2013

Live, we are!

The fabulous February 28, 2013 issue of Electric Spec is live! Huzzah!

Thank you to our artist and all our authors! Thank you to all the behind-the-scenes folks, especially Chris Devlin, Nikki Baird, and Marty Mapes! You all rock! W00t!

I think I'll go read everything again...

26 February 2013

two more days

Wow! We're only two days away from an exciting new issue of Electric Spec! Can you believe we're starting our eighth year? Huzzah!

This time we have a nice variety of stories from rock n' roll to spooky to touching to surprising. Mark Rigney's "Empathy Rocks" involves intense rock n' roll, lots of action, and aliens (of course!). Jennifer Crow's "Strange Notes from Underground" is a disturbing story set in historical St. Petersburg. "Heart of a Magpie" by Kathryn Yelinek involves a creature from Polish mythology enabling a woman to come to terms with her life. Epic fantasy gets a unique treatment in Rebecca Schwarz's "The Count is the Kingdom." And, finally, David Barber's "The Secret Life of Princes" has a twist you'll never see coming. Thank you, authors, for submitting such good stories!

In addition, there's been a lot of talk about Betsy Dornbush's new novel, EXILE, from Night Shade Books. You all will actually get to read the entire first chapter in our new issue, as well as an in-depth interview of Betsy.
Our old buddy, movie critique Marty Mapes, even returns to our pages with his article on narrowcasting.
We also have some very nice art work from Ron Sanders. Thank you, contributors, for such interesting features!

Be sure to check it out February 28, 2013!

19 February 2013

new issue coming

We're still working behind the scenes on the exciting new issue of Electric Spec, coming February 28, 2013! We have five fabulous stories by authors: Mark Rigney, Kathryn Yelinek, Jennifer Crow, Rebecca Schwarz, and David Barber. I'll give more info about them next week. :) We have some neat cover art lined up. I think we even have a movie column.

We have an intriguing excerpt from Editor/Author Betsy's new novel out from Night Shade Books which starts with: "Cut her throat. His own wife." Ooh. I have shivers. One of the really creepy cool things about this book is the necromancy/magic system.
We also have a fun and informative interview with Editor/Author Betsy. Among other provocative topics, Betsy discusses differences and similarities in how men and women think, bi-sexuality, how writing short stories benefits writers, and how partying leads to writerly success.

Check it out February 28, 2013! And check back here next week for more teasers. :)

12 February 2013


We, the Editors, are hard at work behind the scenes on the upcoming fabulous February 28, 2013 Issue of Electric Spec. We're all deep in the editing process. We each get assigned two stories. How, you ask? It's usually the stories in the issue we like the best. Let me explain. To make things more quantitative, before the production meeting each editor gives each story in hold-for-voting a numerical score and I compile them before the meeting. Then, at the meeting we have our knock-down drag-out fight, er, I mean, discussion. When the dust clears, we have our final stories and each editor usually ends up editing the ones he/she gave the most favorable rankings.

Which brings me to the editing itself. Correcting grammar and spelling issues is a no-brainer. The tricky part is paring out all the non-essential bits of the story to leave a perfect story jewel. Editor Dave is awesome at this. We actually call him The Hacker behind his back. Oops, did I just let the cat out of the bag? Gremlin Editor made me do it. :)

Personally, I find editing to be very challenging. A story is work of art and I don't want to do anything to change or compromise that art. But what if that art contains adverbs? We all have our personal editing styles. I'm more likely to tell an author a particular section isn't working or needs to be streamlined and ask them to do it. So far, this has worked pretty well.

Ultimately, a story is the author's work of art. If the author doesn't want to make the changes an editor recommends, they're free to withdraw the story. That has happened a couple times. I can't help thinking this was a mistake on the part of the author. Editors never change the essence of a story, we just try to make it even clearer and more wonderful.

I'll start telling you more about the exciting new issue next week. Stay tuned!
And keep sending us stories for the next fabulous issue. Thanks!

05 February 2013

show me the story

I'm still recovering, er reeling, from our production meeting last week. As we argued, er discussed, the stories in hold-for-voting, it struck me that Electric Spec does have certain things we want in a story. This surprises me a bit since we have three different editors. (I guess that's where the fisticuffs, etc. come into play.) So, at the risk of repeating what I've said in months past, here are some of the things we look for in an Electric Spec story:
  • a speculative element. If your story doesn't have something macabre/fantastic/science fictional it's out. I'm sorry to say a very nice story made it to the Feb 2013 issue's hold-for-voting, but it had nothing speculative, so we couldn't publish it.
  • a character who acts. The character can be animal, vegetable, mineral, supernatural creature, machine, insert-your-idea-here, but it must at least try to do something because he/she/it has...
  • a problem. This is part 1 of your plot.
  • a conflict. This is part 2 of your plot. Something must happen that opposes the character's efforts to solve his/her/its problem. In very short stories (~1500 words or less) you might not have space for this. That's okay.
  • a resolution. This is where the reader finds out if the character succeeded (Yeah!) or failed (Aw!).
  • active scenes with dialogue. Note this is showing, not telling the story. Other markets may prefer telling. We do not.
  • something unique. We want to see something we haven't seen before. This could be a unique problem, a mash-up of speculative fiction tropes, unique magic, unusual technology, a new world, etc. The sky's the limit here. A great example of this is In the Belly of the Beast by Larry Hodges in which the character slays the dragon in an entirely new way. :)
Keep sending us your stories, and good luck!

01 February 2013

behind the scenes

Yes, we did have our Electric Spec production meeting this week. And, yes, I did promise to tell you about it, so here we go...

First of all, super-duper thanks to all the authors who submitted stories for the Fabulous Feb 28 2013 issue of Electric Spec. We had an unusually large number of excellent stories in the hold-for-voting pile--which made things extra difficult for us! An oddity: we had a lot of horror/macabre stuff this time. I'm not sure why since the submissions period was after Halloween. Perhaps Thanksgiving, Chanukah and/or Christmas put you all in the mood for spooky gruesomeness? I'm not judging...
So, anyway, this did make issue balance a little more challenging this time. Fantasy and Science Fiction stories that made it into the finals had a little bit easier time of it than the macabre/horror.

I sent out my good-news emails and contracts first thing this morning, but the last time I checked the other good-news emails and the bad-news emails hadn't been sent out. Oops. This will happen soon if it hasn't already. I promise.

What else? Thank you to our awesome associate editor Nikki Baird.
This reminds me, it doesn't really make sense to address your cover letters to one editor or another. They get assigned to us randomly. Thanks in advance to our other new associate(?) editor Chris Devlin--you rock!

At the meeting, the usual hijinks were enjoyed by all (although I can't speak for our poor waiter). I, personally, had four kinds of beer and some red meat. Some other editors I won't mention by name (but their appellations rhyme with 'Dave' and 'Betsy') consumed salads. Good grief. That doesn't give you the energy boost you need for caber tossing and our other 'conflict resolution' techniques. Ooh, we got some free food, too. I guess the restauranteurs thought we looked hungry. Or scary. (That may have been the broadswords.) Or both.

It looks like we will have neat artwork, five excellent short stories, a movie column, an interview of Author Betsy, as well as an excerpt from her new novel in the next issue. Huzzah! I'm looking forward to it. :)
Check it out February 28, 2013!