29 January 2013

Exile release!

I hope I'm not stepping on any toes, but our own Betsy Dornbusch is having a book launch for her new hardback fantasy Exile: The First Book of the Seven Eyes on Tuesday February 5, 2013, 7:30pm, at the Tattered Cover LoDo in Denver. W00t! Go, Betsy! Read more about it here: http://www.tatteredcover.com/event/2013/02/05/day. So, if you're in the Denver area Feb 5, I hope you'll consider coming over. I heard a rumor that she'll be doing a reading...
Betsy, feel free to chime in if you have anything to add. :)

In other news, we are working furiously behind the scenes on the fabulous new February 28 2013 issue of Electric Spec. The stories in hold-for-voting are very, very good. We have our work cut out for us to winnow them down. :( Which brings me to my next point: we're having our production meeting this week. I'll try to post an update on Friday with some behind-the-scenes treats.

For the next Electric Spec issue I'm interviewing Author Betsy Dornbusch about her new novel Exile: The First Book of the Seven Eyes and her path to publication. It should be informative and exciting! We may even be posting an excerpt from Exile in Editor's Corner. Stay tuned!

22 January 2013

ghetto or gangnam?

Here's an interesting question that's been wending it's way around cyberspace lately: 21st Century Science Fiction and Fantasy: Ghetto, or Gangnam Style?: Science fiction and fantasy creators and fans were originally outsiders… misfits who got no respect from the mainstream… who stood on the outside looking in. How much has changed in today’s world… a world in which popular culture oozes SF and fantasy elements?

IMHO, Science Fiction and Fantasy are mainstream now. We live in a SF/F world with our cell phones, aka mini super-computers in the palms of our hands, quantum dot televisions, privatized space travel and all the rest. Almost all the highest worldwide movie grosses have been in the SF/F ouvre, e.g. Avatar, Marvel's The Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, etc. Conferences like Comic Con and their imitators are rampant. Many of the most popular TV shows are in the SF/F genre, such as Big Bang Theory, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time, Person of Interest, Revolution, Beauty and the Beast, Arrow, depending on which list you consult.

Even if we just focus on fiction, what do we see?
What were the best-selling books in 2012? Yep, you guessed it, many science fiction and fantasy titles, including The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay, Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena, The Hobbit, A Game of Thrones, The kane Chronicales: The Serpent's Shadow, A Dance With Dragons, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords and a lot more. And that doesn't even include the whole Twilight vampire series which was super hot in 2010 and before, and the whole Harry Potter series which was white-hot in 2007 and before.

Here's another indication SF/F has become prevalent: Doris Lessing won the Novel Prize in Literature in 2007, partly for her "space fiction"--as she put it.
So that's my 2 cents, SF/F is as popular as Gangnam Style. :)

What do you think? Ghetto, or Gangnam Style?

15 January 2013

No Death Star

Today's the last day of submissions for the February 2013 issue. Good luck!

I don't know if you all ever participate in We the People: Your Voice in our Government, but there was an interesting petition lately "Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016." I can only assume this was a joke? Since it garnered over 25,000 signatures it got an official response from the white house. Check it out on the We the People website, or below:

Official White House Response to Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.
This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For

By Paul Shawcross

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here's how) and you'll notice something already floating in the sky -- that's no Moon, it's a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that's helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts -- American, Russian, and Canadian -- living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We've also got two robot science labs -- one wielding a laser -- roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo -- and soon, crew -- to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

Even though the United States doesn't have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we've got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we're building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

We don't have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke's arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country's future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star's power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

Paul Shawcross is Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget

Excellent response, Mr. Shawcross!

08 January 2013

Market Tips

Don't forget: we close to submissions for the Fabulous February Electric Spec Issue on January 15.

We've started working hard behind the scenes on the new issue. I've been going through a lot of slush and it occurs to me that you all might be interested in some tips about what we like or don't like or what we're looking for at our 'zine.
Of course, every fiction market is different. So, my comments will apply to Electric Spec. First things first. We publish science fiction, fantasy, and the macabre--also known as speculative fiction. Hence, the name "Electric Spec." :)

What are we looking for? We want a fresh take on any of these genres. For example, "Lest They Drink and Forget the Law" by Malon Edwards is a fantasy with an environmental twist. In a water-starved world, the protagonist has a special power to control water. Neat! Personally, any story dealing with climate change issues will get my attention.

Combinations of genres can work great. For example, "10,000 Bones" by Joe Ollinger is a spooky science fiction detective story. Neat!

Humor can work great. "In the Belly of the Beast" by Larry Hodges is a fantasy in which the dragon is killed in a unique anti-hero way. I'm smiling just thinking about it.
So, the bottom line is: we want unique stories.

What do we like? We like well-written stories of any type. In this day and age every story has to have a well-developed character. Electric Spec stories have to have a plot, by which I mean: the protagonist has some kind of problem and act to try to solve it. This almost always means some action and some dialogue.

As far as more specific likes and dislikes, these do depend on the editor.
I think Editor Dave most enjoys a good epic fantasy.
I think Editor Betsy most enjoys something dark and twisted.
I enjoy everything. :) But, if I had to narrow it down, I enjoy stories involving time travel and/or quantum mechanics.
I do have to say I dislike stories in which men torture and/or kill their wives or girlfriends. Gratuitous violence is not interesting. You'd be surprised how many of these we get under the guise of macabre.

So, anyway, there are some tips. Good luck with your writing and submitting in 2013! I'm rooting for you!

01 January 2013

Dealing with rejection

Happy New Year!

Loyal Electric Spec readers and writers know January 15, 2013 will be our deadline for submissions for the next issue (February 28, 2013), so get those stories in!

I've been trying to come up with a more upbeat post than 'dealing with rejection', but what can I say? It's been on my mind. Here are some thoughts about rejection:

  • As writers, dealing with rejection is part of our job. Let me say that again: if you aren't submitting your work and getting responses you aren't doing your job. Getting rejected is literally your job. Obviously, the ideal is to write and publish and then repeat--but I don't know any writer whose career goes like that!
  • Learn from rejection. Often rejection is accompanied by constructive criticism. If so, seriously consider it. Notice I'm not saying change your work every time you get a rejection. Sometimes work just isn't right for a particular market.
  • Grouse with your writer friends about rejection; this is a bonding activity. :) If you don't have any writer friends: get some! Making friends with other writers is one of the great joys of being a writer. Many public libraries sponsor writers groups and there are tons of them on the web. See for example, www.writers.com/groups.html.
  • Remind yourself why you write. Everyone has different reasons to write. You need to have reasons beyond getting published. Do you have a story inside that you just can't ignore? Do you enjoy the creative outlet? Do you lose yourself in imaginary worlds? Have you made friends with your fictional characters? Why do you write?
  • Consider the road not taken. Now, more than ever, there are a lot of outlets for creative work. Maybe your muse would be better served via a truly interactive story? Or a prose/music/interpretive dance project? Maybe you should pod-cast your story? Self-publish? What about trying crowd-sourcing? The only limit is your imagination.
  • Keep trying! The most important thing to realize about rejection is it doesn't mean your project is over. Who knows, the next submission may lead to success! I hope so.
  • What do you think is the best way to deal with rejection?