27 December 2006

Calvin and Hobbes

A funny cartoon for a snowy afternoon: Snowman House of Horror

22 December 2006

Snow Day!

For those of you who don't know, all of the Electric Spec editors are members of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and not too surprisingly, we live in the Rocky Mountains. Thus, we all had a snow day yesterday, Dec.21! Personally, being stuck at home was great! I got a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff done for the next issue of Electric Spec, coming out January 31, 2007.
I also finished a nice draft of that story I'd been pondering (no more Homeland Security!).

I hope everyone else's forced vacation was as nice.

Happy holidays to all!

18 December 2006

Save the Novelists, Put Down Your Remote

Many of you know I'm not much of a television watcher. I spend far more time reading than I do watching. I've realized for some time that I'm among a small minority of Americans, but I didn't quite realize how much of a minority I was. The U.S. Census came out with a statistic that Americans spend around 1,500 hours a year watching T.V. In comparison, Americans spend about 160 hours reading novels. No wonder it is so hard for aspiring novelists to find a market for their book. Maybe if we all made a concentrated effort, we can change the average novel reading time to 161 next year! (Yes, I know, I set my sights high!)

Don't diet--concentrate your story

I've been pondering Betsy's excellent comments of Dec. 13 as I work on a short SF story myself. She said to 'Put your story on a diet'. I agree with the intent of this comment, but IMHO the wording is imprecise. You don't want to just make your story shorter. You need to cut out all the non-vital parts to concentrate or distill the story. Leave ONLY the essence of the story, lose the extra bits.

For example, the short I'm working on involves a woman who uses the Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics to save her family. When I wrote it originally I included this whole thing with Homeland Security (HS). After pondering it for a while, I realized the problem with the story was the HS part was totally superfluous. So, it's back to work for me!

What's the essence of your story? Are there any superfluous bits?

15 December 2006

Gore says 'play a more active role'

CNET posted recently that Gore urges scientists to warn public about global warming at the Dec. 2006
American Geophysical Union Meeting in San Francisco. He makes several excellent points.

I say additionally fiction writers should play a more active role in warning the public about global warming.

What will the world be like in twenty years? fifty years? a hundred years? Show us!

14 December 2006

Political Interference in Science

The Union of Concerned Scientists has a new feature on their website: The A to Z Guide of Political Interference in Science, in which they state scientists who work for and advise the federal government have seen their work manipulated, suppressed, distorted, while agencies have systematically limited public and policy maker access to critical scientific information. They have data to back up their claims.

This is a particularly sad and disturbing state of affairs.

Apparently some members of the US government believe 'Ignorance is Strength'.

What's next? 'Freedom is Slavery'? 'War is Peace'?

13 December 2006

Put your story on a diet

We just had our production meeting last night and the results are great: Seven wonderful stories to look forward to in January. A couple are from unpublished authors. That's the best email to write as an editor, knowing you're making someone's dream come true.

What kinds of stories did we pick? Several seemed to speak to the times, indirectly: the war, terrorism, race relations. One amusing story contains unwanted guests--maybe we were subconsiously thinking of the upcoming holidays?

Overall, I noticed a theme in our conversation, even about the stories we did pick. They all could be shorter. I've written this here before, but a solid rule during editing is to cut ten percent. (I'm not making it up: Stephen King, for one, said an editor told him that early on and he's always followed the advice--obviously to great advantage.) This exercise belongs in a later revision, when you're quite sure what you're trying to say. Then, search out ways to be concise. Eliminate adverbs and maybe even adjectives. Study your descriptions. What purpose do they serve? Do they propel the plot and character development, or only ground the reader so we're not floating in space? Good descriptions do all three.

You might not make the ten percent, but in general every story needs cutting. The new year is coming; time to trim the fat.

12 December 2006

Nanotech regs

MSNBC reports today the City of Berkeley to regulate nanotechnology.

...and so it begins. No doubt others will follow suit.

I know we need it, but my muse is feeling smushed.

11 December 2006

Moonbase by 2020!

NASA says they'll establish the first premanent human base on the moon by 2020 at the latest. Read all about it on NASA's 'Why The Moon?' (you can also get a poster and other neat stuff!).

What do you think? Should we do this? Would you move to the moon?

09 December 2006

Hope for the Future

Today, I took my daughters to the Integrated Teaching & Learning Laboratory's Design Expo at the University of Colorado. I was impressed. CU's engineering students showed off their stuff, from the trivial to the profound. For example, one student showed us his wave energy simulation, which used the rise and fall of (simulated) ocean waves to generate electricity. He said several larger versions could generate enough electricity to power Portland, Oregon! Maybe there is hope for the future, with students like this coming up with new alternatives to fossil fuels.

My girls, however, preferred the automatic sno-cone maker and the s'more machine--especially the free samples. Hey--as long as it gets them interested in science and engineering, I'm all for it!

08 December 2006

Doh! Deadline passed for winter 2007

We've closed submissions for our winter 2007 issue. Don't worry if you didn't make it, we'll be happy to consider your story for our spring 2007 issue.
The winter 2007 issue will be out on e-newstands on January 31, 2007.
It looks to be excellent (if I do say so myself)!
We have some awesome stories in the mix and an exciting article which I'll blog about when it's a little more developed.

07 December 2006

Water Flow on Mars

The New York Times reported on Dec. 6, 2006, the Strongest Proof Yet of Water Flow on Mars! Photos taken within the last seven years suggest water flow down crater walls!

...Awesome story material!

06 December 2006

"Spec the Halls" Writing Contest

On Mirathon's blog, I found reference to a holiday speculative fiction writing contest. It offers small cash prizes and large kudos. Now, amidst all the card writing, cooking, decorating, socializing, shopping, wrapping, unwrapping, and whatnot, you have the opportunity to do something for yourself by sending in your best speculative short and gaining a bit of recognition. As the guidelines mention, you'll be able to spread "the joy and delight of the spirit of Christmas [by] twisting it to your own ends." Check out the contest guidelines here: "Spec the Halls."

04 December 2006

ElectricSpec deadline looming

The deadline for submissions for the winter 2007 issue of Electric Spec is looming! We will accept submissions only through December 7th, 2006 for our winter 2007 issue. We have some really nice stories so far and it looks like it will be another excellent issue!
Beginning December 8th we will consider submissions for our spring 2007 issue.

Good luck submitters!