29 October 2019

Happy Halloween!

The Electric Spec Editors have pretty much finished going through the initial slush pile. What this means to you: if you submitted during the current window July 16 through October 15, 2019 (U.S. Mountain Daylight time), you should have gotten or will be getting, an initial email very soon. This initial email says: 'No, thanks,' or 'Stay tuned.' We've gotten some feedback that people don't like to hear they made it past the first cut, but this is how we do it.

We have our Production Meeting scheduled for this Saturday Nov 2. We all meet in person and fight it out. Everyone has their story favorites so it can be an interesting meeting. Anyway, by the beginning of next week, we will have finalized the stories for the issue. We will email all the 'Stay tuned' folks as well. 'Yes' folks will get a contract. 'No' folks will get a 'No, thanks.'

It's always tough to reject a story. We do sincerely appreciate you sending us your works of art.
Hopefully, everyone is enjoying the fall season.

Happy Halloween!

22 October 2019

manipulate reader emotions

Wow! We are busy with slush for the notable November 30, 2019 issue of Electric Spec. Thank you for sending us your stories!

I guess it's the time of year, but I'm reading a lot of stories involving murder, suicide, homicide, regicide, basically lots of death and destruction. Of course, this is the most dramatic type of story conflict. But...

An author's job is to manipulate the reader's emotions. Thus, the way to make a death a powerful story element is to make the reader care about the character before the death. I'm reading quite a few stories which thrust the death upon the reader not unlike they thrust the sword into the character--quickly, suddenly, and before we care.

How do you make a reader care? Create a realistic empathetic character. This is a character that cares about other characters and that has other characters care about him/her. Readers love an underdog, they love a character that keeps trying even when the odds are against them. There are also writerly tricks in the 'save the cat' variety: save the cat, baby, puppy from harm.

So, sure, write your murder and mayhem, but don't forget to write empathy first.

Good luck!

15 October 2019

Deadline Today

Today, October 15, 2019, midnight U.S. Mountain Standard Time, is the deadline for the notable November 30, 2019 issue of Electric Spec.

The editors have had varying levels of success getting through slush so far. But we have all agreed that the number of stories is up and the quality remains very good.

So, thanks very much for sending us your stories! We appreciate it! Spec Fic authors are awesome! Good luck!

I better get back to slush, so I'll leave it there...

08 October 2019

cli-fi versus lab-lit

We are very busy reading submissions for the notable November 2019 issue of Electric Spec. If you sent us a story: Thank you! If not, keep in mind the submission deadline for this issue is October 15, 2019. Good luck!

There are two relatively new fiction sub-genres called "cli-fi" and "lab-lit" which sometimes get confused.

Cli-fi is an abbreviation of climage fiction; this is literature dealing with climate change and/or global warming. Cli-fi may be speculative in nature. Thus, it might be science fiction. There are a lot of great examples of cli-fi novels and movies, e.g. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. Cli-fi does not have to have any speculative element. Cli-fi may also have aspects related to science and/or laboratories, but does not need to.

Lab-lit is an abbreviation of laboratory literature; this is literature dealing with science and/or scientific laboratory culture. Lab-lit is not speculative in nature. Thus, it is not science fiction. There are also some great examples of lab-lit novels and movies, e.g. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. Lab-lit does need to have some aspects related to science and/or laboratories.

Thus, if a novel is about climate science and involves laboratory scientists it can be both cli-fi and lab-lit. A great example of this is Carbon Dreams by Susan M. Gaines.

Bottom line: potential Electric Spec authors can send us their speculative cli-fi, but not their lab-lit.

01 October 2019

Horror is hard

The deadline for the notable November issue of Electric Spec is in sight: October 15, 2019. Get those stories in!

We are deep in the slush...
Recently, I read some horror stories, and it strikes me that horror is very difficult. This is because in horror, in particular, the author needs to evoke an emotional response in the reader. Moreover, the range of emotions is not huge; generally, readers look for fear and/or a sense of the uncanny. I had a professor that always said horror needs to subvert readers' expectations of reality. Possibly, horror evokes shock or disgust--but since we focus on more macabre horror, these are less common in our 'pages.'

Supposedly Stephen King said, "Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It's when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there's nothing there..." That does sound terrifying! There's clearly a reason he's considered the master.

Horror has additional common elements, including exploration of wicked deeds, events, and/or characters. Often they contain plot twists near the end. Often they have a strong spooky tone and mood, created via vivid descriptions.

Send us your horror-ible stories! :)