27 February 2009

And We're Live . . .

The new issue of Electric Spec is out. The all-new web design has already been getting rave reviews, and, as always, we have a great group of stories, an interview, and a movie column for your entertainment. We'd love to hear your comments on the new designs or the new stories.

And for those who follow our blog, we promise to be more faithful about posting now that our new issue is out and our redesign is done. (Whew!)

24 February 2009

New Issue!

The next week may be a bit hectic on-site, replete with outages, as we switch websites and wrap up final details on this issue. Apologies for any irregularities. Additionally, we're going to start accepting submissions again as quickly as we can, as well as regaining our usual standard for turn-around. Thanks for your patience. We assure you, it'll be well worth it. The new issue and website are looking fabulous!

11 February 2009

Specfic World Interview

Dolyle Wilmoth, editor of SpecFic Word, was kind enough to stop by and ask us a few questions about our Editorial Process. I thought I'd share our responses with our blog readers. For those of you who have been following us for a while, some of this will look familiar.

1) Name some of the most common reasons why you send a story packing back home to its owner?  

-- A weak opening with no immediately apparent conflict
-- Lack of a clearly defined, sympathetic protagonist
-- A story setting that is vague or too generic
-- Too much world-building at the outset of the story
-- The story is longer than it needs to be (i.e. lack of focus)
-- An ending that fails to bring the story together or resolve the central conflict in some way

2) And what automatically tips you off that a story isn't ready for publication, besides bad writing?

If an author isn’t able to grab us within the first paragraph, or at least the first few pages, then in all likelihood the story isn’t ready for publication. In a few instances, we’ve been able to work with the author to fix problem beginnings, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Authors need to polish their whole story, but particularly the opening.

Another common tip-off that the story isn’t ready for publication is flat or unnecessary character description. For example, we see far too many characters who are running their hands through their blonde hair or staring at x with their green eyes.

3) And what continually aggravates you to no end about submissions from new writers?  Things like: No SASE.  No return address. Phone calls asking about submissions, etc.

We like to see cover e-mails with at least the bare minimum of information, such title and word count. An e-mail with nothing but “please consider the attached” leaves us with guess work we don’t like to do. We could also do without information about pets (number of cats or dogs) or relationships (married, children) in the cover letter. Angry responses to rejections are also a frustration but fortunately not that common.

4) What kind of stories do you see way too often and don't care to ever see again in your slush-pile?

I don’t think there are any stories that we don’t ever want to see. Many times we have been surprised by fresh takes on well-worn topics. However, the following are tough sells:

Aliens land on earth.
Aliens land on earth and attack humans.
Aliens land on earth and have sex with humans.
A person is changed into a vampire.
A person is killed by a vampire.
A person has sex with a vampire.
A robot is built.
A robot attacks one or more people.
A robot has sex with one or more people.
Someone kills his or her spouse, girlfriend, mother, etc.
Light speed travel (or cryogenic sleep) has caused the protagonist to return to earth after some sort of space mission to find the world changed
Lots of fighting (e.g. sword fighting, space duels, laser battles) and not much else

5) What do you look for in a story--the things that make you sit up and say wow!
  1. Unique protagonists with unique problems
  2. Unique settings (either on our world or others);
  3. Writing that is smooth and tight, without extra words or plot developments 

10 February 2009

New Story

Please excuse the blatant self-promotion, but I thought I'd let people know I have a new story out at Fusion Fragment. I hope you take the time to check it out.

09 February 2009

temporarily closed to subs as of Feb 11

Due to our website redesign, Electric Spec needs to close temporarily for story submissions. We're going to do it as of Feb. 11, 2009. Sorry for the short notice. However, we will reopen for story submissions for the next issue (June 2009) as of March 1, 2009.

08 February 2009

New Website

Lesley hinted at it, but I'm now announcing our upcoming


Lesley has done a fantabulous job with the design and operation of our current
website for the past three years.
(Let's hear it for Lesley!!!)
But, when we got offered a brand-new professional site, we just couldn't turn it down.
(More specific accolades to come.)

Besides making publication super-easy for us, it features hi-res graphics and leading-edge navigation technology to best highlight the lifeblood of our magazine: our stories. We still plan on offering downloading options, but I think most readers will prefer to read
our stories online in our new, easy-on-the-eye format.

The new website will debut with our Third Anniversary issue at the end of this month. Unfortunately, we anticipate a few delays, a brief submission stoppage,
and a shut-down prior to publication.
As soon as we nail down those dates, we'll let you know here and on the current site.

Okay...back to editing those upcoming stories!!

05 February 2009

More on Wiggle Room

Editor Betsy's recent post about "wiggle room" was interesting. I'm not sure I agree with her about unintentional themes, but I do agree that different readers take away different things. And this is a good thing. For example, I recently workshopped a story with a new group and got some very diverse feedback. A little wiggling may be inevitable. :)

Recently, I reread Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and in the "Author's Definitive" Introduction, he wrote:
This is the essence of the transaction between storyteller and audience. The "true" story is not the one that exists in my mind; it is certainly not the written words on the bound paper that you hold in your hands. The story in my mind is nothing but a hope; the text of the story is the tool I created in order to try to make that hope a reality. The story itself, the true story, is the one that the audience members create in their minds, guided and shaped by my text, but then transformed, elucidated, expanded, edited, and clarified by their own experience, their desires, their own hopes and fears.

Wiggle Room.

02 February 2009

Issue Update

Here's a very quick update on the upcoming February 28 issue of Electric Spec. The editors had their production meeting over the weekend and selected stories for publication. Early this week all authors should hear if their 'hold for voting' story made it into the issue.

Kudos to all the authors. We had a heck of a time deciding on stories! There were many very, very good stories to choose from. If your story did not make it into this issue, please try us again. Several stories had to be declined because of concerns such as issue balance.

We also have some exciting changes in store with the next issue. Stay tuned for more info!

Perhaps the other editors would like to chime in about the production meeting or the exciting new changes? :)