19 October 2021

Short Story Workshop

Over the weekend, I presented a short story workshop at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (rmfw.org) annual writer's conference. The workshop was a blast! The whole conference was a blast! :)
Consider joining, or creating, a local writer's group if you don't already belong to one.

It was called "Writing Short: Focus on Short Stories."
There are many excellent reasons to write short fiction. Short stories are a great way to hone your craft. Short stories are a great way to get your name out there and get new readers. Short fiction is great for giveaways on your website or newsletter or for deals/ads. Short storeis are a great way to make some money--or not.

The craft section included discussions of characterization, plot, setting, emotion, theme, symbols, voice, mood, and style. The middle section was about marketing. A short story is a marketing asset. The final section was about different fiction publishers and rewards that aren't necessarily cash.
The bottom line is: short stories are valuable on many levels.
Good luck writing short!

Savvy writers know we closed to submissions for the notable November 2021 issue of Electric Spec! But don't worry; we're accepting subs for the February 2022 issue. Get those stories in!

For those who did get their stories in, we are hard at work behind the scenes...
I'll tell you more next week.

12 October 2021

To Flash Or Not To Flash?

The deadline for the awesome November 2021 issue of Electric Spec is coming up this week October 15, 2021. Get those stories in!

Over the last couple of years we have received more and more flash fiction.
What is flash fiction? Savvy writers know it is a short short story. Definitions vary, but in general, it's a story of less than 1000 words. There are actually a lot of different terms for this including dribble, mini-saga, micro-fiction, drabble, micro-story, sudden fiction and others. It doesn't matter what you call it.
It's important to note that even though the story is short, it still needs all the elments of a short story including character, plot, emotion, and setting.

The most famous flash fiction, a six-word story, is attributed to Ernest Hemingway: For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.
There is no doubt this is a story with a lot of emotion because the reader brings a lot to it...

However, flash fiction is more difficult than standard short fiction. It's challenging to get all the story elements into so few words. At Electric Spec we have rarely published flash fiction because of this.

But, if you care to accept the challenge, go ahead and flash!
Good luck!

28 September 2021

Let's have a good author-editor relationship!

The deadline for the notable November 2021 issue of Electric Spec is coming up: October 15, 2021! Get those stories in!

As editors, we sincerely appreciate you sending us your stories. We also appreciate you following the rest of the rules we've set up, based on years of experience:

  • send an rtf file in an attachment
  • use standard manuscript formatting
  • include a short cover letter in your email
  • use the appropriate email address
  • do not query us about your submission. Please recall we publish 4 issues per year, so we don't keep your sub for longer than 4 months maximum without contacting you. If you haven't heard from us within 4 months, something went awry.
  • upon acceptance, please return the contract in a timely manner
  • stay open to critique from your assigned editor. Please note we will not force any manuscript changes on authors.
  • return your revised story in a timely manner
If you do these things, we will have a good author-editor relationship! Woo hoo!

21 September 2021

Show me the story!

The deadline for the notable November 2021 issue of Electric Spec is coming up: October 15, 2021! Get those stories in!

This means we have started working on the new issue; specifically, we are going through the stories in slush. (Thank you for sending us your story!) Hopefully, if you're submitting to us, you read this blog at least occasionally. One of the things I've said is market is important. Luckily, it's easy to get a handle on this market. You can read previous issues of Electric Spec for free. Woo hoo!

Thus, for this market, we like some showing. I've read quite a few stories in slush lately that have little, or no, showing. Rather than exclusively telling me the story, show me the story! This means show the dialogue, thoughts, feelings, and action in the moment. Do not narrate everything for the reader. If I read a story that is exclusively narration, telling, with no showing, I will likely reject the story.

Good luck with your story!

14 September 2021

From Author Cleden

We're excited to feature "Phantom Limb" by David Cleden in the August 2021 issue of Electric Spec. Here's what the author has to say about it:

The urban city setting for “Phantom Limb” could probably be any large city a few years hence, but it was actually inspired by London. At the time the story was written, I was working in central London and the streets, park and metro mentioned were all traced out (in my head, at least) based on real places. (The Soho Square area, to be exact). I’m pretty sure at some point on a lunchtime walk, the well-known Boomtown Rats song “I Don’t Like Mondays” must have been playing on my iPod and then I basically had all the ingredients I needed for the story.

The first draft was written on the morning commuter train into London. It amused me greatly that while my fellow passengers sat reading somber newspaper stories about declining share prices and the latest crisis being mishandled by the government, I was bringing havoc and mayhem to London’s streets. For a time I worried about fellow passengers shoulder-surfing my stories and wondering about the sanity of their fellow passenger, but if anyone ever noticed, it was never reported to the authorities.

Interestingly, in my many lunchtime walks around the area, I realized that area truly is the hub for post-production and video-graphics companies. I counted a dozen or so (including big name companies) all within a few blocks) and so somewhere along the way bits of the story started to fall into place. However, there are no surveillance drones patrolling London streets (yet) and I’m pretty sure the Metropolitan Police aren’t using the tactics described in the story.

For the record, I would also like to state that any chips that may have been inserted in my own head during this time were purely of the carbohydrate variety.

Thanks a lot, David!
Check out "Phantom Limb" and the rest of the stories in the awesome August 2021 issue!

07 September 2021

From Author Heynen

Hopefully, you've seen the awesome August 2021 issue of Electric Spec! We're excited to feature "Waking the Bear" by I.S. Heynen. Here's what the author has to tell us about the story:

This story is a retelling of the old Norwegian fairytale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” which my dad read to me several times as a bedtime story in early childhood—early enough that I only half-remembered it as an adult (“what was that story again? The one with the bear and the girl?”). I rediscovered it in 2020 after some Wikipedia sleuthing. I was going through a phase of obsession with myth/fairytale retellings at the time, and decided to develop a modern take on this cozy, folkloric Scandinavian odyssey.

My project started out nice, but grew more and more pagan and American Gods-ish the more I wrote. Before I knew it, I was researching old Saami animist beliefs and shamanism, and had somehow rewritten my favorite childhood fairytale to center around a sketchy human sacrifice.

This was also one of the first times I’d run a story through the Critters critique workshop’s gauntlet, a very humbling experience that connected me with about 20 different reader/reviewers who didn’t pull punches. Rewriting my already-bizarre story afterwards turned out to be one of the trickiest writing exercises I’ve tried this year.

A huge thank-you to Electric Spec for selecting my work! It’s an honor to be featured here.

Thank you, I.S.!
Check out "Waking the Bear" and the rest of the great stories!

31 August 2021

Thanks a lot!

Huzzah! The awesome August 2021 issue of Electric Spec is live!

We need to thank our excellent cover artist and authors. Hurray for our creatives!
We need to thank our excellent editors and tech staff. Thank you for all your hard work!
And most of all, we need to thank our readers! Woo hoo! We wouldn't exist without you!
Thank you, everyone!

From Author McCabe

The awesome August 2021 issue of Electric Spec is live! Woo hoo!
One of the stories we are excited to feature is "A Thousand Ways" by Beth McCabe. Here's what the author has to tell us about the story:

I'd like to give a nod to the late, great Robert Heinlein for the inspiration for my portrayal of Riley, the protagonist of my story "A Thousand Ways."

When I was a kid in the middle of the last century, my mom often dropped me off at the town library after school. At the time I assumed she just wanted me out from underfoot, worried as she always was about performing her household duties up to that era’s oppressive standards.

Later I understood that she was also sharing a gift with me: her love of reading. (She hid her own library books under the toaster cover, as Dad considered her reading for pleasure "wasting time").

During those long afternoons I roamed the dusty stacks, pulling out any volume that looked interesting. With no adult guidance (thank goodness), I didn't know there were rigid sets of girls' books and boys' books. And so I fell across Heinlein's Juvenile Novels--what we would now label as YA.

That was it for me: I knew I was meant to read, and write, speculative literature.

It's true that Robert H. could only envision boys as main characters in his adventures. And at least one of his books was serialized in Boys' Life, a Boy Scout publication, effectively bypassing young female readers. (I like to picture some of those boys' sisters innocently saying, "What magazine?", then following a Heinlein adventure under the covers with a flashlight.) But his books still spoke to my inner girl nerd, an entity that had scant reinforcement in that time and that place.

One of my favorites was Farmer in the Sky. In this book, a family emigrates from a dying earth to the Jovian moon Ganymede, which they have been told is a fertile farm colony. I vividly remember the immediacy and verisimilitude of teen-aged Bill's new environment. In spite of the fact that little was known about this moon--which just gave Heinlein's prodigious imagination more leeway--I was right there on Ganymede with Bill.

When I set out to write "A Thousand Ways," Riley was very clear with me about how to tell her story. I had to make people not just see, but feel what a first-generation Martian kid would feel. How the challenges of adolescence--sibling rivalry, an unrequited crush, an existential threat to her community--would play out just as it would for an Earth kid. But, although one-third g, dust storms, and a cramped underground habitat would be an alien environment for us, to Riley, it's simply home.

No matter what planetary body it's on, there's no place like it.

My thanks to the Electric Spec editorial team for giving Riley her voice. It's great to join this talented group of authors and editors.

Thank you, Beth!
Check out "A Thousand Ways" and the rest of the brand new stories!