20 February 2018

from Author Lowd

We're excited to share with you "Anger is a Porcupine, Sadness is a Fish" by Mary E. Lowd in the fabulous February 2018 issue of Electric Spec. The author shares a few words about the story...

This is a story about feelings -- how useless I feel when I'm sad; how dangerous I feel when I'm angry; and how terrified I am that if I say something too true, that the power of the truth could destroy everything around me.

There's a scene in the television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend where the main character's friends stand around her in a circle, confronting her with something they’ve learned about her past. She’s so scared and cornered that she lashes out and tears down each and every one of her friends by saying the cruelest things she can. It is the scariest thing I've ever seen in video. Watching this woman tear apart her friends felt like watching one of my literal nightmares, pulled straight out of my sleeping head and plastered on the screen.

The lead character of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is flawed and complicated and even kind of horrible, but she's the lead, and you come to love her and identify with her anyway through the magic of narrative. So many male characters are allowed to be so much worse, and yet they remain protagonists, sometimes beloved icons. When women characters go off the rails, they're written out of the show, and you never see what happens to them next. But in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the woman who went off the rails is the lead, and she goes right on with her life. When I went back and re-watched that scene, I realized that all of the cruel things she said -- they were true. They were said cruelly, but they were truths her friends probably needed to hear. A man can shoot people in the head and still be the iconic hero of a beloved trilogy of movies, but a woman must fear telling the truth, in case she doesn't do it nicely enough.

"Anger is a Porcupine, Sadness is a Fish" is a story about the crippling fear and anger that I've felt at times, and how I'm still afraid -- in spite of the healing powers of watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend -- that if I speak the wrong truth, or say the truth in the wrong way, I could accidentally destroy my entire world.



Thanks, Mary! Very interesting!

13 February 2018

from Author Mabry

We're excited to present "Order of the Blessed Return" by Sean Mabry in the upcoming February 2018 issue of Electric Spec. Sean was kind enough to tell us a bit about it...

The inspiration for this story came in two parts. Part one was George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, which examines the idea that a miracle is "that which increases faith" regardless of its truth value. Part two was my long-running fascination with necromancers. At some point, I realized that a skull-and-black-robes necromancer could easily position himself as a miracle worker if he only put a Lazarus-type spin on his works. Thus, the Order of the Blessed Return was born.

Of course, that's not how the final version came about. The first draft took that premise and used it to wag a sanctimonious finger at religious hypocrisy. As fun as it was to write that draft, I'm glad I didn't stop there. If I had, this story would be much shallower and more mean-spirited than (I hope) it is now. As I revised the story and let the characters become real people, I discovered something important. I discovered that, at its core, this story isn't just about religion.

At it's core, this is a story about compromise. We all make comprises between what our hearts know and what reality demands. We do dirty things and try to soothe ourselves with clean words. We set noble goals and set to work with coarse tools—the only tools available. Personally, I don't believe anyone in the Order is evil. I believe they are people, trying their best to make sense of a frightening world.

Of course, that's your decision to make in the end, just like Brother Wynam must make his decision.


Thanks, Sean! Very interesting!

06 February 2018

Productive Meeting

We, the Electric Spec Editors, recently had a very productive production meeting! The weather was scary and spooky, filled with fog, ice, and snow--but we overcame it.
This time, the stories were so outstanding, we couldn't decide on just five. So, for the first time ever we will be publishing six stories! Huzzah! Thank you for sending us your excellent stories.

I'm excited that we also have two authors lined up for blog posts already. Check back here on Feb 13 and Feb 20 for those. Hopefully, we'll have some more, as well.

At the meeting we had a nice discussion of story themes and the current cultural zeitgeist. It's fascinating how different authors address similar themes. This time we had a lot of social commentary along the dystopian arena. We also had ...porcupines. Weird, huh?

So, book-keeping: Everyone who submitted during the relevant submission period should have heard from us. If you did not: something went awry and please submit. Everyone who was in hold-for-voting but did not make the issue has been sent an email. A few acceptances are still are their way; keep an eye out for contracts. Next steps: editors work with authors to edit stories.

Be sure to check out the fabulous February 28, 2018 issue!

30 January 2018

2017 Reader's Choice Story of the Year

One of our editors, Nikki Baird, just finished the contest for 2017 Reader's Choice Story of the Year...

And the winner is: Clara by Adriana K. Weinert. Congratulations, Adriana! Woo hoo!

There was also an Honorable metion: The Chain Outside of Time by Aaron D. Proctor. Congrats, Aaron!

Checkout the ElectricSpec Facebook page some time.

Here, next time, I'll post a report on the Production Meeting.

23 January 2018

surprise me

We, the Electric Spec Editors, are hard at work, going through slush for the fabulous February 28, 2018 issue. We only have about another week to finish up. I've read some decent stories recently that I did not advance because ...I saw the ending coming from a mile away. Please don't telegraph your story ending in the first paragraph. Consider surprising your reader.

How do you do this?

  • For one thing, successful authors are readers. You should read in your genre to know what's been done before.
  • Try a reversal in your story. This is when it seems as if the story is going in a particular direction, but, bam! it changes course.
  • A reversal can be associated with a dark moment when all seems lost. Dark moments are very effective because they tug at readers' emotions. And, then, when it turns out all isn't lost, the reader rejoices. Hurray! More emotions.
  • Original unique characters will often surprise readers, because unique characters should drive a unique story.
  • Original unique settings can likewise surprise readers because we haven't seen them before.
  • Nonlinear chronologies can be surprising. At best, all the threads l come together in the end, prompting the reader to think: Wow! So, that's what was going on. :)
  • Your idea here.
Good luck with your surprising story!

16 January 2018

most popular blog posts

Doh! You just missed the deadline for the fabulous February 28, 2018 issue of Electric Spec. (It was Jan 15.) But, don't worry. You can submit now fo the marvelous May 2018 issue.
We are hard at work on the next issue of Electric Spec.

So, in the meantime...a few statistics. We are about to cross into 600,000 views for the blog! (Yes, right here!)
(Unfortunately, since we've had a few different hosters over the years, we don't have overall stats for Electric Spec itself.)
So, focusing on the blog, we tend to get a significant uptick around release dates. We also get a signficant upticks when we have guest bloggers--especially authors. :) Yay, authors!
It appears that two of our most popular non-author, non-release-date blog posts were:

Keep those stories coming! Thank you!

09 January 2018

characterization

At Electric Spec we're really trying to get through the slush pile. Thank you for sending us your stories!

Every editor is different. Personally, I enjoy stories with strong characterization. I want to believe your characters are real people. How do you do this? By being specific. Use specific details. For example, don't write 'cookie,' write 'homemade chocolate chip cookie,' or whatever. Also, use metaphors and similes that are specific to your character. A witch would have much different metaphors and similes than a scientist. Often, you want to give the specific subjective thoughts and feelings of characters. Show me what's inside their head.

Furthermore, generally, the protagonist should be special in some way. Show me this specialness, and then use it in an integral way in the story. For example, I just read a story in which the protagonist is a clock-maker. The climax and resolution of the story should thus involve clock-making. Perhaps your protag is unusually compassionate or brave or whatever. The point is the story resolution should hinge on whatever this uniqueness is.

Consider sending us a story with some unique specific characterizations!

Don't forget the submission deadline for the fabulous February 2018 issue is right around the corner: January 15, 2018! Good luck!