29 May 2012

new issue May 31!

We're almost ready to go live with an exciting new issue of Electric Spec! Check it out on May 31, 2012! We have six brand new entertaining speculative fiction stories for your reading pleasure. A.L. Soris shows us the surprising future of entertainment in "Itinerate Pandemonium". K.R. Hager gives us "They Who Ride Griffons" for a high fantasy thrill ride. Larry Hodges tells the tale "In the Belly of the Beast"--you've never seen dragon-hunting like this. D.Thomas Minton uses time dilation to tragic effect in "Time Debt". Karen Munro scares us with "Deep Deep"; let's just say you may be reluctant to let your kids go to summer camp this year. And, finally, editor David E. Hughes gives us a humorous and unique take on an urban myth in "My Kingdom for a Gislestorchen".

We also have a fascinating interview with neo-noir SF author Warren Hammond. I teased you about it earlier here. And our film critic Marty Mapes discuses A Cabin in the Woods, relating it to... You'll just have to read it to find out. :)

22 May 2012

Advice from Gaiman

We're nearing the home stretch on the new Electric Spec issue. Check it out May 31, 2012!

I'd meant to post the 2011 Nebula Award Winners as I am wont to do. So here they are:

  • Novel Winner: Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)
  • Novella Winner: ”The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” Kij Johnson (Asimov’s Science Fiction, October/November 2011)
  • Novelette Winner: ”What We Found,” Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September/October 2011)
  • Short Story Winner: ”The Paper Menagerie,” Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March/April 2011)
  • Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation Winner: Doctor Who: “The Doctor’s Wife,” Neil Gaiman (writer), Richard Clark (director) (BBC Wales)
  • Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Winner: The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman (Big Mouth House)
Congratulations to all the winners! Read more about it over at SFWA.

But speaking of Neil Gaiman, in the meantime, I got very distracted by his May 17 excellent commencement address at The University of the Arts. Here are the bullet points:

  1. When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing.
  2. If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that.
  3. When you start off, you have to deal with the problems of failure.
  4. I hope you'll make mistakes. If you're making mistakes, it means you're out there doing something.
  5. While you are at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do.
  6. So make up your own rules.
  7. So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom, and if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave like they would.
Check out the entire thought-provoking, encouraging speech here.

08 May 2012

in the slog

We, the editors, are deep in it: slogging through edits of stories and articles and all the rest. Hhm... That's not interesting. Okay, here's something exciting to report: In the May 31, 2012 Electric Spec Issue I'll be interviewing Warren Hammond, author of the gritty, futuristic KOP series. Warren gives a pretty fascinating interview. He discusses neo-noir, theism, sexual abuse, how to create a multi-layered empathetic protagonist, how the horrors of world war/genocide/totalitarianism affect writers, and more. Intrigued? :)

In other news...one of the editors had a minor success recently with a short fiction sale (okay, it was me). The secret to my success: perseverance. I workshopped the story, listened to what people said, revised, and repeated. Then, when I sent it out and the rejections started rolling in, I kept on sending it out. I cannot emphasize this enough: I didn't have any tricks, just a lot of hard work and perseverance.

Another one of the editors here had a pretty significant success recently with a two book deal. (W00t!) While she did work hard, IMHO the secret to her success was: networking. It's not my place to divulge details of how the deal went down, but take my word for it: knowing other authors and industry professionals such as agents, editors and assistants can be extremely helpful.

For some reason, I'm reminded that the excellent writing organization Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers annual September conference has opened registration.

02 May 2012

post-production meeting update

I think I can fight through my hangover to tell you what happened last night at the production meeting. At least eight different kinds of beer were imbibed, fattening food was scarfed down. There was cussing, fisticuffs, thumb-wrestling and sword play. Okay, not exactly all that stuff happened. :)
We did have a special guest, our movie expert, Marty Mapes, and discussed many things movie in the initial part of the meeting. Thanks for all your neat columns over the years, Marty!

Which brings me to the stories... We had difficult decisions to make because all the stories were very good. We appreciate submissions. Thanks! This time we had a large variety of speculative fiction to choose from including slam-bang action stories, meta-fiction, and more literary stories. We had science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and combinations thereof.

One significant factor in our decisions included issue balance; we need to include SF, fantasy, and horror in each issue. (Tip: I'd have to say in general we get less horror submissions than other genres. However, please don't send us a story about man killing his girlfriend/wife/female stranger--we see that a lot!)

Another consideration at our 'zine is originality. Several of the stories we picked had elements that we hadn't seen before.

Finally, an excellent story is more likely to get picked than a very good story. Some things for authors to consider include: Did you connect the dots to explain to the reader why the protagonist is acting in his/her particular way? If you have a unique fascinating world, do you explain to the reader why it is the way it is? At the other extreme do you have too much backstory? Note: backstory rarely works in dialogue. Does your protagonist act, drive the events of the story? Make sure, too, significant events occur.
If I was going to give one overall tip for short-story authors it's: is your story as short as it can possibly be? In other words, most stories are too long. You just want to include the crucial bits. :)

Thus, we have selected our stories for the May 31 issue. The authors of the hold-for-voting stories we didn't have room for just received an email from me. We're in the process of sending the authors of selected stories contracts. After we receive signed contracts, we, the editors, will edit the stories. Then,we send or link copies for the authors to approve before we go live. We're also busy picking cover art. I'm working on a fabulous new interview (more on that later). One of the editors is working on something for Editors Corner. We're working on the Letter from the Editor. And, finally, we have the technical aspects of creating the electronic issue, uploading content, etc., to complete.

Phew! If that sounds like a lot of work, it kind of is. But it's worth it. We love speculative fiction and we want to encourage authors.

Send us your stories for the August 2012 issue!:)
And check back here on May 31, 2012 to read the new issue!

01 May 2012

check in tomorrow

Psst. I'll tell you a secret: we're having our production meeting tonight. It's already shaping up to be an interesting meeting... In pursuit of treating all the stories in hold-for-voting fairly, each editor assigns each story a numerical value. Then we combine these to give each story an overall numerical ranking. So far it looks like the editors are not in agreement at all. We'll see what happens. That's the beauty of the numerical system--it averages out our personal biases and makes disagreements easier to deal with.

Therefore, check in here tomorrow and I'll post about what happens at the meeting. See you then!