30 April 2013

stay tuned

We're having the Electric Spec production meeting soon for our marvelous May issue. Stay tuned for an update at the end of the week. Thanks!

23 April 2013

grab me

I don't think it's a secret that all the Electric Spec editors are also writers. I write a lot of short stories and submit them to various venues. It's annoying when an editor writes back, "I liked this story, but it just didn't grab me enough. Sorry." Ugh! As we finish up slush for the marvelous May 31, 2013 issue, such comments do resonate with my inner editor. I've been reading a lot of nice stories, but not a lot of stories that grab me. (Feel free to think: Ugh!).

One how-to writing book I read recently emphasized manipulating readers' emotions. I hate to say it, but emotions grab readers.
How's a poor author supposed to manipulate a reader's emotions? By making the characters feel emotions. When people read fiction they become the characters they read about. If the protagonist is emotional, the reader will be more likely to be emotional and will be more likely to be grabbed by the story.
Unfortunately, you can't have emotions for no reason; they need to be integral into the story. This is done by having high stakes. The situation the protagonist is in needs to be important.

The good news is we all know at least one person very, very well and we can mine that knowledge for our fiction. What's the worst thing that could happen to you? What would rock you to your core? How would that make you feel? Why? What would be the consequences? What would you do to resolve or fix that? The deeper you delve into your psyche, the more writing seems like therapy--but maybe that's a good thing. Ultimately, readers want truth and understanding about the human condition.

Good luck!

16 April 2013

editorial relationships

Savvy Electric Spec authors know the deadline for the marvelous May 31, 2013 issue has passed. But, fear not! We're now accepting submissions for the awesome August 31, 2013 issue.

Recently, one of my favorite magazines changed editors. I had exchanged some emails with the old editor over the years, and seen him talk at cons. Of course, I always read his editorials, as well. I felt like I had a relationship with him. Similarly, I've already exchanged a couple emails with the new editor and read his first editorial. So, I feel like I've got a relationship with the new guy. However, I realize these feelings are incorrect. I do not actually have a relationship with either of these editors. If I were to call one of them on the phone, they would not be happy. If I were to email them on their personal email, rather than the magazine email, they would not be happy. We have a professional relationship and that is it.

You may know where I'm going with this. One of the Electric Spec editors is having a little trouble with a prospective author thinking they have a personal relationship. I know relationships can be tricky in the Facebook era, but editors and authors have editorial relationships, not personal relationships. We may greatly enjoy your fiction (or not), and/or enjoy working with you through the editorial process (or not), but that's it. Please do not call editors or use their personal email, unless explicitly invited to do so.
Thank you in advance for being professional! :)

I greatly enjoy your submissions! Keep 'em coming! ( submissions@electricspec.com )

09 April 2013

writing tips

Reminder: the deadline for the May 31 2013 issue of Electric Spec is coming up: April 15, 2013. Get those stories in!

I recently came across Joss Whedon's Top 10 Writing Tips. Check them out here. Whedon is one of the most talented and successful people of our time, so when he gives tips, I listen! His tips include: Finish It, Structure, Have Something to Say, Everybody has a Reason to Live, Cut What You Love, Listen, Track the Audience Mood, Write Like a Movie, Don't Listen, Don't Sell Out. Seriously, check them out.

All this prompted me to wonder what my writing tips would be. So, without further ado, here are my off-the-cuff writing tips:

  1. Keep writing. This is, of course, closely related to 'Finish It' but with good reason. Are you really a writer if you don't finish anything? Are you a writer if you don't write?
  2. Find joy in writing. I hate to say it, but I know many writers at various stages of their careers and money doesn't seem to be plentiful for anyone. Authors need to find their fulfillment elsewhere: in creating new characters/stories/worlds, or maybe in meeting and getting to know other like-minded souls, aka writers.
  3. Get feedback on your writing and listen to it. I don't know anyone who can write a perfect first draft. I know some aspiring writers who think their first drafts are perfect... And I'm not optimistic about their publication success. Note, however, you shouldn't change your work willy-nilly based on what random people say. Only you know in your heart what your story is and what it needs.
  4. Develop your writer's voice. Voice is invaluable. Voice is the combination of subject matter, vocabulary, sentence structure, tone, theme, and all other aspects of writing. Of course everyone has a voice, but you want your voice to be distinctive and unique. Think of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series, or Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. You'd know those voices anywhere. How do you develop your voice? You write with your inner editor turned off. Incidently, NaNoWriMo is great for this.
  5. Keep trying to improve. Read writing books. Study novels and stories: what worked, what didn't work? Go to writing conferences. Talk to other writers. Read writing blogs about writing tips. :)

How about you? What are your writing tips?

02 April 2013

intuition: a writer's tool

We are hard at work behind the scenes on the marvelous May 2013 issue of Electric Spec.
I've been a good editor, going through slush, but I've been a bad writer. I haven't written any brand-new words for weeks. Ugh. :(
Sure, I did revisions and submissions and critiques and all manner of other writerly- and editorly-related tasks, but I didn't WRITE.
Why so much procrastination, you ask? Every time I tried to work on a particular WIP it felt like pulling teeth. I couldn't make myself put the words on the screen. I was hating the WIP. I considered abandoning the WIP.

But then I took a step back. Rather than try to force the WIP to go where I thought it should go, where else could it go? I brainstormed. What could happen, rather than what should happen? I thought of some new fresh ideas. I decided to abandon the old stale ideas, and, Huzzah! suddenly, I could write new stuff again. I wrote two chapters this week and have lots of ideas for additional chapters.

Yes, apparently, it is difficult to teach old writers new tricks. I should have listened to my intuition weeks ago. Don't be like me. If something doesn't feel right, it's probably not right.
Intuition is there for a reason! Follow it!

How about you? Have you ever tried to ignore your intuition? What happened?

Keep sending us your intuitive stories! :)