29 January 2019


We, the Electric Spec Editors, are working hard on the fabulous February 2019 issue. I believe slush reading is completed. This means everyone that submitted before the Jan 15, 2019 deadline should have received an initial email by now. This initial email would be essentially 'No, Thanks,' or, 'Stay tuned.' If you submitted before the deadline, and haven't heard back from us, your story might be lost in cyberspace (sorry!).
The editors are busy ranking the finalists in anticipation of our Production Meeting this weekend. At the Production Meeting we'll make all the final decisions. Which stories will we publish? Which art will we use for the cover? What will we put in Editors Corner? Thus, next week, I'll blog about the new issue! Yay!

In the meantime...
I've been struck recently by how subjective art--including short stories--appreciation is. I received a couple reviews of a piece that were polar opposites. One reviewer thought it was wonderful. One reviewer thought it was horrible.
I think it comes down to if the reader can empathize with the protagonists. Does the reader see him/herself in the characters? Sometimes, an author and a reader are very different and it doesn't happen. That's okay.

I guess my point is, if we don't publish your story, that doesn't mean other editors won't love it. It doesn't mean many readers won't love it. Good luck placing it elsewhere!

22 January 2019

the lens of personality

We, the editors, are working hard on the fabulous February issue of Electric Spec. The submission deadline for stories has passed. That means we are hip deep in slush. We have about one more week for the associate editors and editors to get through their slush piles, so if you've submitted, keep an eye out for an email. Then, we have about a week for the editors to peruse the finalists in the hold-for-voting pile. Our production meeting is scheduled for the first weekend of February. Thus, all authors should hear back from us soon after that.
(We are currently accepting submissions for the marvelous May 2019 issue.)

From reading slush I have a few tips...
It's probably not a good idea to open your story with a page of descriptions. It's probably not a good idea for said descriptions to read like a laundry list, e.g. She had brown hair, brown eyes, tan skin, purple pants, etc.
Every description needs to be expressed through the lens of your character's personality. I don't care what the description is. I don't care who the character is. I do care if the description is unrelated to the character.
Here's a description from a master's page one: I'm blond and blue-eyed and twenty-five, and my legs are strong and my bosom is substantial, and I have a waspy waistline. This is a bit laundry-listy but it has so much personality, it works.

Incidentally, the first line of this book is: I'd been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar. Wow!
This is an excellent telling first line. Among other things, it's chock-full of personality.
And, yes, this is from Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris.

Stay tuned for more info on the fabulous February issue!

15 January 2019


Today is the submission deadline for the fabulous February 28, 2019 issue of Electric Spec! Get those stories in by midnight U.S. Mountain Standard Time!

I had an epiphany recently, related to the fiction in our slush pile...
As you probably know, the Electric Spec editors are also authors. This week I've been working on a story for a contest. In the contest rules, the editors give examples of the types of dramatic first lines they desired. I gradually realized they were all 'telling.' The editors didn't use the word 'telling' but that's what they were.
Something about this seemed familiar...

Sure enough, in 2006, I wrote a blog entry Short Story First Lines with a bunch of first lines from award-winning short stories. (Not all the links therein still work. Try American Book Review's Best Novel First Lines, for example, instead.)
A lot of these first lines are 'telling,' as well. Eureka!

Therefore, I can say with confidence: consider telling in your first line!
Of course, here at Electric Spec, we think you should have some showing in your story, as well--but that's another blog post.

Good luck with your submissions!

08 January 2019

epistolary slush

The deadline for the first 2019 issue of Electric Spec is fast approaching: January 15! Get those stories in.

We are working on the slush pile for the issue. Surprisingly, I've read more than one epistolary story this year. An epistolary story is a narrative told via a series of documents. In the old days, these would be letters. Later, newspaper or magazine clippings, book excerpts and/or some combination of all of these, became popular.
Horror has a lovely epistolary tradition including Carrie by Stephen King and Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Nowadays, anything goes. The story could be told via blog posts, texts, tweets, (descriptions of) streaming videos, or whatever else you can imagine. I love the creativity behind these ideas. And many of the high-tech versions lend themselves well to science fiction.

However, I do think it's difficult to evoke an emotional response in a reader via documents. It's particularly difficult with experienced speculative fiction readers (like editors!). Furthermore, many of these epistolary stories utilize surprise endings. Sadly, it's difficult to surprise editors.

So, bottom line: please do send us your epistolary stories.
But make sure they're excellent!

01 January 2019


Welcome to the fourteenth year of Electric Spec! Wow, time flies! As the new year begins many of my writer friends are working on their New Years Resolutions including writing more, submitting more, or creating an effective writing schedule. If you are doing the same: good luck!

A deadline is looming. January 15, 2019 is the submission deadline for the fabulous February 28, 2019 issue of Electric Spec.

We've been working on the slush for the new issue and I'm struck by how crucial story beginnings are. We get hundreds of submissions for each issue, so sometimes editors only read the first page of a story. As a writer I know this isn't fair, but it's pretty common.
Authors need to capture the editor's attention quickly. This can be via a great author voice, snappy dialogue, personable characters, an intriguing plot setup, a unique world, or a host of other methods.
Market does play a part here. Our editors like and dislike certain things. The easiest way to see what we like is to read back issues of the ezine--and lucky for you, they're free!

Resolve to get those stories in! :)

And, oh yeah, Happy New Year!