27 September 2016

stay positive

Here in the U.S. Rocky Mountains there's an awesome writer's group called Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and they just had their awesome annual conference filled with fun, information, networking and all kinds of neat stuff.

Some of the excitement may be wearing off... RMFW members and others may need a pick-me-up.

Writing is hard. Stringing one word after another is hard. Revising is hard. Proof-reading is hard. Finding markets is hard (An awesome resource is ralan.com). Submitting is hard. Getting rejected is hard.

I'm here to say: Keep the faith! Stay positive! One of my favorite Jesse Jackson quotes is "...it is not their aptitude but their attitude that will determine their altitude."

Some people say you can train your brain to be more positive. Tips include:

  • Express gratitude
  • Repeat positive affirmations
  • Challenge negative thoughts
Here, at Electric Spec we sincerely appreciate all your submissions.

Good luck!

20 September 2016

Why Manuscripts Stand Out

We have a special treat today. Our Associate Editor Minta Monroe has some advice for authors. For those of you who don't know her, she's the author of The Mound Dwellers and 2 collections of short stories, Home, Sweet...Death and Crossing Over.

Recently, I’ve been binge-reading a bunch of manuscripts by authors seeking publication (that’s all of us, right?) They’re all very well written, but some of them stand out, and others do not.

So I took the opportunity to study this—because we all want our manuscripts to stand out in a positive way when they reach the editor’s desk. The reasons why some of them *do* stand out didn’t become apparent to me until I noticed that certain elements of the exceptional manuscripts were missing from the rest.

Here are 5 things I’ve noticed so far. Manuscripts that stand out…

  • …use sensory detail. As a reader, I want to go on the journey with the characters. I want to see, feel, taste, hear, and smell all the things that they notice. Not only does this help to make the setting feel real, but also the characters.

  • …have characters who feel real. What the characters look like doesn’t matter nearly as much as what they are feeling, or how they act, or why they choose to act in the way they do. They’re active characters rather than passive. They actually do something—and it’s interesting—rather than talking about it.

  • …have lots of conflict. Once we readers care about a character, we *really* care when trouble comes knocking. We are rooting for the character, and we want him/her to solve whatever problem crops up. But will he/she solve it in time?

  • …have twists and turns and surprises. Readers want to be surprised. We don’t want the expected answer. We want new and marvelous adventures that we haven’t been able to predict.

  • …have a nice balance of pacing. Sometimes the action is fast, when exciting events are happening. And sometimes the action is slow, when the characters are introspective so that the reader gets to understand why they are doing the things they are doing. It’s not all of either one, but some of both, and they need to be balanced.
This is just the beginning, but here’s the bottom line: even the most brilliantly luminous story ideas will fall flat without these 5 elements.

Thanks, Minta!

13 September 2016

W00t! W00t!

W00t! W00t! We're still celebrating the latest release of Electric Spec! Thanks again, everyone who helped make it happen. We appreciate it.

What's your favorite story? The Dead Life? The Lightship? Song of the Brethren? The Quiet Death? The Inmates are Running the Asylum, and the Asylum is Running the Ship? I really like them all--but I guess that's not much of a surprise since I helped choose them.

I'm also tickled that we got to hear from so many of our authors this time here on the blog. Here are the links in case you missed any of them: T.A. Hernandez, Neil Davies, Dean Giles, David Cleden.

What's next? We're accepting submissions for the notable November 2016 issue! Please send us your stories! The deadline for this issue is coming up...October 15, 2016.
Next week we'll have a blog post from Associate Editor Minta Monroe with some tips for writers.

12 September 2016

from Author Cleden

We hope you're continuing to enjoy the new issue of Electric Spec. For your reading pleasure here are some words by Author David Cleden about his intriguing story "Song of the Brethren."

For most of us, a sense of place plays an important role in our lives. We may talk about being drawn back to the place where we grew up, to where friendships were made (or broken), to where our familial roots are. Sometimes the place where we feel we truly belong is not where we start out; we have to journey through life to discover it. And sometimes the journey of discovery leads us right back to our beginnings.

For a long time, I've wanted to explore the idea of what would happen if that bond to a place was as strong as it could conceivably be. Maybe even a matter or life and death. How would it feel to be physically tied to one particular place for an entire lifetime? What would be the penalties for breaking those ties--and the motivations of those who decided to ignore them?

Those ideas, without shape or form, were still tumbling around in the great void of my skull when I remembered something from a long-past family holiday. My eldest son was only a few months old and we'd gone for a family walk up a valley in the beautiful wilds of Dartmoor in the UK. As we stood under a twisted, wind-blown tree on the side of valley, my infant son (who was strapped to my chest in a baby-carrier) became absolutely entranced by the dappling of the sunlight through the leaves above him. He couldn't tear his gaze away. It was as though that tree was the most wondrous, magical thing he had ever seen. (It was). For one brief moment, he seemed to have a special bond with that tree and nothing else mattered to him.

Back home, and wrestling with a little patch of garden behind our house, it also struck me how easily the wrong things are determined to grow in the wrong places. Tufts of grass constantly thrust up through the gravel path, yet zilch in the little patch of lawn where we'd appreciate it more. And brambles! Oh don't get me started on brambles. If ever there was a plant destined survive a nuclear winter...

Anyway, the story ingredients seemed to jell in my head during one intensive weeding session in the garden. With a little care and attention and application of various seasonings, it matured into the dish that I'm delighted the fine editors at Electric Spec have chosen to serve up amongst a whole host of gourmet treats. I hope it sits well on your palate. (But always remember, not all poisons taste bitter. Some disguise their true nature with an unnatural sweetness. Bon appetit!)

Very interesting! Thanks, David!

10 September 2016

We're alive!

We're alive! Huzzah!
Check out the new issue of Electric Spec

Thank you very much to everyone that worked hard to make this issue happen. Thank you Authors Hernandez, Davies, Cleden, Giles and Nichols! Thank you Artist Errigo! Thank you Associate Editors Cooper-Towler, Monroe, and Devlin!

Most of all, thank you readers!

09 September 2016

from Author Giles

And the hits continue... It's so fun hearing from our authors. Author Dean Giles tells us about his story "The Quiet Death."

To give you some insight into the story, I worked on a 4 year European collaborative R&D project back in 2011 looking at advanced Telecom networks (http://modegap.eu). Our existing fibre optic networks will reach gridlock in around 15 years, so a drastically new approach is required to update the technology. The project was looking at novel fibres and components. The hope is that the new technology will increase 100-fold the capacity in our backbone networks. This will eventually filter through to home networks. It made me think, what will happen once bandwidth demand increases to the point that this new technology is saturated? I've read a lot of science fiction, especially authors like Arthur C. Clarke. One that really stuck in my mind was Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Steve Baxter, where they develop a wormhole technology that allows you to spy on anyone at anytime, and the affect this has on human society. Fascinating idea. Any way, it gave me the idea that possibly in the future we might use a similar technology to overcome data gridlock.

I also love the idea that the universe is tied to consciousness. So in the same way time and space are part of the same fabric, consciousness is just another facet of that. My thinking was that the disruption the technology made to space-time, also affected consciousness on a local level, and this is how the "loop" effect came into play.

The character is based loosely on my Granddad. An old school British man who can fend for himself. Knows how to build stuff and tie knots, he is adaptable. He doesn't think much beyond what is necessary for the job in hand. He's not a dreamer, he is a doer. But underneath, at his soul, he is very human. I wanted to highlight the importance of human emotion, which is easy when compared against the Quiet. Harry is a man who has lived his life, stuck by his principals, and is prepared to accept death with dignity. He is my version of a decent human being, and, in this story, one that represents the human race.

Thanks Dean! Very interesting!

08 September 2016

from Author Davies

At Electric Spec we enjoy hearing from authors about their writing processes and what inspires them. Author Neil Davies told us the following about his upcoming story "The Lightship".

Image of the North Carr Lightship:

What is a lightship?

In our present day reality, lightships combine two of my lifelong fascinations, lighthouses and boats. A lightship is, basically, a lighthouse on a boat, able to move around to where it’s needed. Advancing technology has largely replaced them, but they do still exist, and I was lucky enough to get to look around one when it was docked as part of what has now become the U-Boat story attraction in Birkenhead. Back in the early days they only had the rusted hull of the U-Boat (which you couldn’t go on), a Royal Navy submarine (which you could), a Royal Navy warship and the little lightship. And back then I was fit enough (and light enough) to get round all of them!

In the setting of my story, the lightship is a spaceship that acts as a beacon (or lighthouse) to mark any area as it is required. Just like our present day lightships, it’s being overtaken by technology and is due to be decommissioned, which is where the story begins. With the lightship as the setting, the story combines combatants in a long-running war between Humanity and the alien Fris, and an unwelcome, and undetected, visitor on the lightship itself. The rest I will leave for you to find out by reading the story.

Have fun.

Fascinating! Thanks Neil!

06 September 2016

fiction firsts

Huzzah! We'll be releasing a bunch of free fiction in only 4 days, count 'em 4! We told you about this fabulous fiction in our spectacular September issue of Electric Spec last week: here.
Today, we're going to try something fun. We're going to post the first lines of the fiction to entice you to read...
Can you tell which first lines go with which stories? :)
  • The knife hovered over the flesh of the baby's plump little arm.
  • The oscillator in the west wing has stopped working.
  • For a moment, Rose couldn't move.
  • Commander Aldo Kinnear sprawled on the Rec Room bench, bruised, exhausted and scared.
  • Harry’s chair rocked noisily against the wooden slats of his porch-balcony.
  • A flash of too-bright light illuminated the dead girl's face for an instant as the crime scene photographer snapped a picture.
Wow! Quite a variety! Check them all out in only 4 days! (Did I mention a new issue's coming out in 4 days?)