28 April 2017

behind the scenes

Oops! I put the wrong date on this post schedule. :( Here's this week's post. Late. Ugh. First time.

We have started to work hard on the marvelous May 31, 2017 issue of Electric Spec! We're busy finishing up the slush pile right now. Folks should get an email by today or tomorrow if they are rejected (bummer!) or move on to the next level (hold-for-voting). Please note if you submitted and don't hear from us by tomorrow...something may have gone awry.

All the editors have to rank the stories in hold-for-voting from top (#1) to bottom. After I get the rankings I compile the total points for each story. Stories with the smallest number of points will probably get into the issue.

This weekend we have our production meeting scheduled. We discuss the stories, starting with the ones with the smallest number of points. Different editors advocate for different stories and have to agree to edit them. We also have to consider things like issue balance. This is primarily genre. For example, we don't want to have 5 horror stories--despite my post from last week. We also try to pick the cover art at the production meeting.

After the production meeting I email all the stories we don't accept (bummer!) and each individual editor emails the authors they will work with on editing. We send out contracts and after they're signed, we get to work!

Next week, here, I'll tell you what happened at the production meeting.

Of course, we're currently accepting submissions for the August 2017 issue.

web tips for writers

The head of Blackbird Publishing, Jamie Ferguson, has an awesome blog with web tips for authors. Check it out here! Jamie's also an awesome writer...

18 April 2017

blood and gore and guts

Here at Electric Spec we publish macabre horror. We enjoy horror of the spooky/creepy and/or reality subverting type. A certain segment of the horror story submissions we get involve blood and gore and guts. IMHO, this can be fun on-screen but rarely seems to translate well to written fiction.

Quite a bit of research has been done on the appeals of horror. For example, Dr. Deirdre Johnston's 1995 research into the motivations for viewing graphic horror said

  • gore watching low empathy, high sensation seeking, identification with the killer
  • thrill watching high empathy and sensation seeking, identifies with victims, likes suspense
  • independent watching high victim empathy, high positive effect for overcoming fear
  • problem watching high empathy for victim, but negative effect, sense of helplessness
As an author, you should consider these motivations. Which readers do you want to reach? Mold your story accordingly.

Good luck!

13 April 2017

Submission deadline April 15

This is a friendly reminder that the submission deadline for the marvelous May 2017 issue of Electric Spec is fast approaching: midnight US MST April 15, 2017.
Get those stories in!
Good luck!

Of course, immediately after that we'll be accepting submissions for our next issue (August 2017).

11 April 2017

New novel!

Exciting news: my new humorous science fiction novel came out!

A Jack By Any Other Name

When interstellar singer spy Jack Jones has to solve his own murder on The Shakespeare things do not go smoothly.

First his clone body loses thirty years of memories, and then it starts experiencing strange urges and abilities. As he investigates he discovers brigands, space pirates and a secret faster-than-light drive, which could push the galaxy into war. He would sing a song, solve the mystery, and save the day --if only he could remember how.

It's available in all the usual places in all the usual formats--including audio!

04 April 2017

writing tips

At Electric Spec we are hard at work reading your submitted stories. Here are some writing tips as a result:
  • Multiple points of view are fun, but they need to make sense. Each pov character needs to contribute something unique. Ideally, a pov character has a lot on the line.
  • Create well-rounded characters. Consider giving all your characters both good and bad qualities. Even bad guys shouldn't be all bad. Remember, you want the reader to empathize with your characters.
  • Watch out for non-said dialogue tags--especially in a short story. Non-said dialogue tags take the reader's attention away from the story. Said dialogue tags fade away. Incidentally, with the increase of stories on various audio platforms, consider having fewer dialogue tags. Also do not include adverbs with your dialogue tags.
  • Do have a story resolution. This is a bit market dependent, but at Electric Spec we want something significant to be different at the end of the story.
  • Resolve all your McGuffins. A McGuffin/MacGuffin is an object or device that acts as a trigger for the plot. I don't recommend them, but if you use one resolve it! For example, if your story has a monster chasing the characters the monster needs to eventually catch up to them.
  • Obey the principle of Checkhov's gun. Every element in the story needs to be necessary. For example, if there's a loaded gun in scene one it needs to go off. (And, yes, this is similar to the above point.)
That's probably enough for now.
Thanks for sending in your stories! Keep it up. :)