03 October 2023

the First Page

The submission deadline for the awesome November 2023 issue of Electric Spec is October 15, 2023. Wow! That's coming up soon. Get those stories in!

We are working hard reading the slush pile already. Psst! I've got a secret to tell you: editors don't always read the whole story. We know authors don't like this idea. It seems unfair, right? It is unfair. Unfortunately, with hundreds of submissions for each issue, we just don't have time to read all of all the stories. :( Of course, some editors are more likely to read more of a story than other editors. And some markets read more than other markets.

This means authors need to make sure their first page is excellent! I can't stress this enough. The first page is very important. Check and double-check to make sure the first page doesn't have a lot of grammar, spelling, formatting or other obvious errors. Make sure the short story starts on page one. (Novels can take longer to start.) This will mean different things for different stories. But, after page one, a reader should at least have a guess of what the story is about. It's fine if this changes during the tale, but a story needs to seem to be about something--even on page one.

Good luck with your first page!

26 September 2023

How not What

I don't think it's a secret that many of the Electric Spec editors are members of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW). Some of us are also members of The Inklings, a Speculative Fiction Critique Group. We had an interesting discussion the other day about ideal critiquing. I think it applies to editing, as well.

Critiquers should be concerned about how authors execute their vision, not about what they're writing about. When focusing on how, we can focus on the effectiveness of writing. Does the reader get engrossed, get carried away? That's what authors want. That's what readers want, too. :)

Furthermore, each author should write about what they are passionate about. Each author should follow their muse. Each author has their own unique path, experiences, and imagination--make use of them! As an editor, I've often found a story written about something I'd never before considered. Editors love that! I think readers love it, as well.

Good luck creating what you want effectively!

12 September 2023

August First Lines

Some pundits say short story first lines are crucial. I say they're fun to look at. Here are the first lines from our awesome August Electric Spec stories:
  • The last of my buy-out pay got me as far as Utross IV.
  • Gary and I fight, and afterward, I go shopping.
  • A giant eyeball opens in Michelle's living room floor.
  • I am walking in the city at night.
  • Of all the apothecaries in all the neighborhoods in San Francisco, he has to walk into mine.
  • They dropped anchor just after dawn.
Can you identify the story from the first sentence? Do you think first sentences are crucial? Talk amongst yourselves...

05 September 2023

Basking in the August glow...

Yes! Less than a week ago, we published the awesome August 2023 issue of Electric Spec! We are still basking in the glow of
  • "The Last Deal" by Sophia Alapati-- The best witch in San Francisco is a man with a big debt in his past, and he has only one chance to clear it... or pay the price.
  • "Amber" by Clarissa Grunwald--What if you could make your worries, sadness, and fears disappear? What would be left of you?
  • "Eye Contact" by A. C. Spahn--It's hard enough to be a painfully introverted artist. Then, a big eyeball appears in the studio...
  • "Necropolis Waltz" by Glynn Owen Barrass--Even after an ancient god's moon-wrecking apocalypse, an unlikely band of survivors fights to preserve what's left.
  • "King for a Day" by Ray Daley--A down-and-out spacer sets down on a planet with a unique tradition that might be the answer to his bad luck blues.
  • "The Ring of Contradictions" by Allison Wall--In a strange little pub with a fighting ring where philosophies clash, truth is the grand prize.
Which was your favorite story? So many to choose from!
Savvy readers will realize this is one of our biggest issues ever--especially when you consider we also had two entries in Editor's Corner.

Thank you to all who helped make this a great issue! You are very appreciated!

31 August 2023

Awesome August 2023 Issue Live!

Huzzah! The Awesome August 2023 Electric Spec issue is live!

Thank you to our cover artist! Thank you to all our authors! Woo hoo! We appreciate you!

Thank you so much to the entire Electric Spec editorial team! Woo hoo! We appreciate you!

Thank you especially to the readers! We wouldn't exist without you. :)

29 August 2023

From Author Alapati

We are excited to announce one of our featured stories in the awesome August 2023 Electric Spec is "The Last Deal" by Sophia Alapati. Sophia was kind enough to send us some comments about the story:

The Last Deal was brewed from three ingredients: a queer witch, a powerful ex, and a noir setting. I intended to write this for an anthology of positive queer witch stories, but by the time I finished writing, the submission deadline had passed and I had written something a little too dark and twisty to fit the bill.

As an author who is more pantser than plotter, all I knew when I sat down to write was that protagonist Cas was salvaging his life in the aftermath of a tortured history with a god. I wanted to explore the idea of trying to escape a relationship with something that feels omnipotent--whether that’s a religion, a job, or another person. I also love concocting magic systems, and had fun researching chemical and symbolic properties of potential potion ingredients.

The genre was the final component that made this piece come together. To me, a warlock--etymologically from the Old English wærloga, meaning "oathbreaker"--fits right in with the noir setting, where we often see a morally dubious protagonist haunted by the deeds of their past. Noir also gives me the chance to write lush similes, which I'll never turn down.

My best little piece of writing advice for fiction writers is to read nonfiction. All my best short stories have been sparked or made richer by learning about things from breeding apples to bank heists to immortal mushrooms. So go forth, read, and stay curious!

Interesting! Thanks, Sophia! Be sure to check out all the new stories on Aug 31, 2023!

24 August 2023

From Author Grunwald

We are excited to announce one of our featured stories in the awesome August 2023 Electric Spec is "Amber" by Clarissa Grunwald. Clarissa was kind enough to send us some comments about the story:

When I was in third grade I was obsessed with Bruce Coville. I read everything I could find by him. And while I've aged out of his core demographic and moved on to other authors, I still have tremendous respect for his ability to write fascinating, challenging stories for early chapter book readers. When I wrote "Amber", I wasn't intentionally writing a tribute to his Magic Shop series, but that's what it turned out to be. It's a little shorter, and a little more cynical, but I can't deny the inspiration.

The boutique itself is inspired by a souvenir shop in my town. I have nothing against the shop and go there for gift cards sometimes, but I have to admit that I have no idea how they stay in business. We are not a tourist destination, so there can't be many people in the market for souvenirs. If they are hawking dangerous magical items on the side, that at least explains how they get the rent paid.

Interesting! Thanks, Clarissa! Be sure to check out all the new stories on Aug 31, 2023!