We need to thank our excellent cover artist and authors. Hurray for our creatives!
We need to thank our excellent editors and tech staff. Thank you for all your hard work!
And most of all, we need to thank our readers! Woo hoo! We wouldn't exist without you!
Thank you, everyone!
30 November 2021
We need to thank our excellent cover artist and authors. Hurray for our creatives!
23 November 2021
16 November 2021
- The Tasting by D.A. D'Amico
- A Perfect Day for Monkeyfish by Richie Narvaez
- Willa's Gambit by L.J. Lacey
- The Universal Rule of Doors by Calie Voorhis
- The Exorcism of Lily Quinn by Claire Schultz
- The Most Wonderful Time by Michael Merriam
09 November 2021
02 November 2021
Thus, all authors who submitted for the notable November 2021 issue should have heard back from us by now. Authors of accepted stories should have received an initial email from your editor, including a contract. Please send back the contract ASAP, so we can start working on your story! Yes, we are excited! I hope accepted authors will also take us up on the offer to blog--stay tuned for that, as well.
I did hear back from some authors already and very much appreciate their alacrity and enthusiasm! Woo hoo! Thank you, authors.
If you submitted a story, but it wasn't accepted: Thank you, author! We appreciate you, as well!
Starting next week, I'll start previewing the new issue here. Should be fun!
26 October 2021
If you submitted to us, you should have received an email by now saying either 'Stay tuned,' or 'Sorry, not this time.' Somehow, it seems like one or two submissions get lost in cyberspace for each issue. Not sure how or why this happens. So, to be clear, if you did not hear from us, we did not get your story. (Bummer!) Please consider resubmitting (for the fabulous first 2022 issue).
What's next? All the editors are carefully considering the finalist stories and ranking them in order of preference. We have our production meeting coming up this weekend. No doubt, this will be a contentious knock-down, drag-out fight! Or not. :)
I'll let you know, next week.
19 October 2021
Consider joining, or creating, a local writer's group if you don't already belong to one.
It was called "Writing Short: Focus on Short Stories."
There are many excellent reasons to write short fiction. Short stories are a great way to hone your craft. Short stories are a great way to get your name out there and get new readers. Short fiction is great for giveaways on your website or newsletter or for deals/ads. Short storeis are a great way to make some money--or not.
The craft section included discussions of characterization, plot, setting, emotion, theme, symbols, voice, mood, and style. The middle section was about marketing. A short story is a marketing asset. The final section was about different fiction publishers and rewards that aren't necessarily cash.
The bottom line is: short stories are valuable on many levels.
Good luck writing short!
Savvy writers know we closed to submissions for the notable November 2021 issue of Electric Spec! But don't worry; we're accepting subs for the February 2022 issue. Get those stories in!
For those who did get their stories in, we are hard at work behind the scenes...
I'll tell you more next week.
12 October 2021
Over the last couple of years we have received more and more flash fiction.
What is flash fiction? Savvy writers know it is a short short story. Definitions vary, but in general, it's a story of less than 1000 words. There are actually a lot of different terms for this including dribble, mini-saga, micro-fiction, drabble, micro-story, sudden fiction and others. It doesn't matter what you call it.
It's important to note that even though the story is short, it still needs all the elments of a short story including character, plot, emotion, and setting.
The most famous flash fiction, a six-word story, is attributed to Ernest Hemingway: For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.
There is no doubt this is a story with a lot of emotion because the reader brings a lot to it...
However, flash fiction is more difficult than standard short fiction. It's challenging to get all the story elements into so few words. At Electric Spec we have rarely published flash fiction because of this.
But, if you care to accept the challenge, go ahead and flash!
28 September 2021
As editors, we sincerely appreciate you sending us your stories. We also appreciate you following the rest of the rules we've set up, based on years of experience:
- send an rtf file in an attachment
- use standard manuscript formatting
- include a short cover letter in your email
- use the appropriate email address
- do not query us about your submission. Please recall we publish 4 issues per year, so we don't keep your sub for longer than 4 months maximum without contacting you. If you haven't heard from us within 4 months, something went awry.
- upon acceptance, please return the contract in a timely manner
- stay open to critique from your assigned editor. Please note we will not force any manuscript changes on authors.
- return your revised story in a timely manner
21 September 2021
This means we have started working on the new issue; specifically, we are going through the stories in slush. (Thank you for sending us your story!) Hopefully, if you're submitting to us, you read this blog at least occasionally. One of the things I've said is market is important. Luckily, it's easy to get a handle on this market. You can read previous issues of Electric Spec for free. Woo hoo!
Thus, for this market, we like some showing. I've read quite a few stories in slush lately that have little, or no, showing. Rather than exclusively telling me the story, show me the story! This means show the dialogue, thoughts, feelings, and action in the moment. Do not narrate everything for the reader. If I read a story that is exclusively narration, telling, with no showing, I will likely reject the story.
Good luck with your story!
14 September 2021
The urban city setting for “Phantom Limb” could probably be any large city a few years hence, but it was actually inspired by London. At the time the story was written, I was working in central London and the streets, park and metro mentioned were all traced out (in my head, at least) based on real places. (The Soho Square area, to be exact). I’m pretty sure at some point on a lunchtime walk, the well-known Boomtown Rats song “I Don’t Like Mondays” must have been playing on my iPod and then I basically had all the ingredients I needed for the story.
The first draft was written on the morning commuter train into London. It amused me greatly that while my fellow passengers sat reading somber newspaper stories about declining share prices and the latest crisis being mishandled by the government, I was bringing havoc and mayhem to London’s streets. For a time I worried about fellow passengers shoulder-surfing my stories and wondering about the sanity of their fellow passenger, but if anyone ever noticed, it was never reported to the authorities.
Interestingly, in my many lunchtime walks around the area, I realized that area truly is the hub for post-production and video-graphics companies. I counted a dozen or so (including big name companies) all within a few blocks) and so somewhere along the way bits of the story started to fall into place. However, there are no surveillance drones patrolling London streets (yet) and I’m pretty sure the Metropolitan Police aren’t using the tactics described in the story.
For the record, I would also like to state that any chips that may have been inserted in my own head during this time were purely of the carbohydrate variety.
Thanks a lot, David!
Check out "Phantom Limb" and the rest of the stories in the awesome August 2021 issue!
07 September 2021
This story is a retelling of the old Norwegian fairytale “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” which my dad read to me several times as a bedtime story in early childhood—early enough that I only half-remembered it as an adult (“what was that story again? The one with the bear and the girl?”). I rediscovered it in 2020 after some Wikipedia sleuthing. I was going through a phase of obsession with myth/fairytale retellings at the time, and decided to develop a modern take on this cozy, folkloric Scandinavian odyssey.
My project started out nice, but grew more and more pagan and American Gods-ish the more I wrote. Before I knew it, I was researching old Saami animist beliefs and shamanism, and had somehow rewritten my favorite childhood fairytale to center around a sketchy human sacrifice.
This was also one of the first times I’d run a story through the Critters critique workshop’s gauntlet, a very humbling experience that connected me with about 20 different reader/reviewers who didn’t pull punches. Rewriting my already-bizarre story afterwards turned out to be one of the trickiest writing exercises I’ve tried this year.
A huge thank-you to Electric Spec for selecting my work! It’s an honor to be featured here.
Thank you, I.S.!
Check out "Waking the Bear" and the rest of the great stories!
31 August 2021
We need to thank our excellent cover artist and authors. Hurray for our creatives!
We need to thank our excellent editors and tech staff. Thank you for all your hard work!
And most of all, we need to thank our readers! Woo hoo! We wouldn't exist without you!
Thank you, everyone!
One of the stories we are excited to feature is "A Thousand Ways" by Beth McCabe. Here's what the author has to tell us about the story:
I'd like to give a nod to the late, great Robert Heinlein for the inspiration for my portrayal of Riley, the protagonist of my story "A Thousand Ways."
When I was a kid in the middle of the last century, my mom often dropped me off at the town library after school. At the time I assumed she just wanted me out from underfoot, worried as she always was about performing her household duties up to that era’s oppressive standards.
Later I understood that she was also sharing a gift with me: her love of reading. (She hid her own library books under the toaster cover, as Dad considered her reading for pleasure "wasting time").
During those long afternoons I roamed the dusty stacks, pulling out any volume that looked interesting. With no adult guidance (thank goodness), I didn't know there were rigid sets of girls' books and boys' books. And so I fell across Heinlein's Juvenile Novels--what we would now label as YA.
That was it for me: I knew I was meant to read, and write, speculative literature.
It's true that Robert H. could only envision boys as main characters in his adventures. And at least one of his books was serialized in Boys' Life, a Boy Scout publication, effectively bypassing young female readers. (I like to picture some of those boys' sisters innocently saying, "What magazine?", then following a Heinlein adventure under the covers with a flashlight.) But his books still spoke to my inner girl nerd, an entity that had scant reinforcement in that time and that place.
One of my favorites was Farmer in the Sky. In this book, a family emigrates from a dying earth to the Jovian moon Ganymede, which they have been told is a fertile farm colony. I vividly remember the immediacy and verisimilitude of teen-aged Bill's new environment. In spite of the fact that little was known about this moon--which just gave Heinlein's prodigious imagination more leeway--I was right there on Ganymede with Bill.
When I set out to write "A Thousand Ways," Riley was very clear with me about how to tell her story. I had to make people not just see, but feel what a first-generation Martian kid would feel. How the challenges of adolescence--sibling rivalry, an unrequited crush, an existential threat to her community--would play out just as it would for an Earth kid. But, although one-third g, dust storms, and a cramped underground habitat would be an alien environment for us, to Riley, it's simply home.
No matter what planetary body it's on, there's no place like it.
My thanks to the Electric Spec editorial team for giving Riley her voice. It's great to join this talented group of authors and editors.
Thank you, Beth!
Check out "A Thousand Ways" and the rest of the brand new stories!
24 August 2021
I would like to preface this post by saying that my story, "Shaytandokht," which is set in Afghanistan, was written and accepted before the recent terrible events unfolding in that part of the world. It is not a commentary on the current crisis, and I don't pretend to have any insight into it. It's merely a coincidence.
"Shaytandokht" is one of the most difficult stories I've ever written, but it's also one of my favorites.
The story is set in the frozen desert of modern Afghanistan, and the title refers to the Farsi name of a woman named Shaytandokht (pronounced "set-on-doh-hut"), who a few locals say is the daughter of the devil.
The story consists almost entirely of three men walking across the desert, just talking. But what made the piece so difficult to write is that two of the three men don't speak the same language and rely on the third man to translate between them. And none of them are named, so ensuring the reader knows who is talking means leaning heavily on each man's individual mannerisms.
Doing that became complicated by the fact that I wanted the piece to have the feel of an allegory, so I used very sparse and simplistic phrasing throughout.
I outline my stories in great detail before I write, so the first draft of "Shaytandokht" took only a few hours, but the revision took days because so much depended on the individual word choices. The rhythm of the language had to reflect the stilted nature of the three men's somewhat adversarial relationships, so I was constantly replacing words that either felt too expressive for the trio or (for lack of a better word) civil.
One of the trickiest aspects was illustrating the men's individual personalities. For instance, when the non-English-speaking man relayed something, he would display certain mannerisms relating to what he said. But the guide, who would normally just translate the first man's words into English, would sometimes have his own reactions to the man's words, so every aspect of the ongoing conversation would be colored by the guide's own word choices. It became extremely difficult to create that constant juxtaposition of the original words and the speaker's mannerisms, and the guide's translation and his reactionary mannerisms. Hopefully, the reader will never notice any of that, but trying to make it transparent took more time than the entire initial draft took to write.
Probably because of all the effort to hide the complexity, "Shaytandokht" is one of my densest pieces. At 2,100 words, it's quite short, but I think it packs more punch per word than anything else I've written, and even though we barely get to know the characters in that short time, I secretly like them all.
I do hope you enjoy "Shaytandokht" as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Thanks, Jonathan! Very interesting!
Be sure to check out "Shaytandokht" and the rest of the stories on August 31!
17 August 2021
"Lady of the Sword" is one in a series I did of lady knights. Beautiful women that are also lethal. I tend to do series with a general theme – whatever is causing the neural synapses of my brain to fire. Like when Covid hit in March of 2020, and I did, I think seven lion paintings (some quite large) to avoid watching the mounting body count as we entered the Apocalypse. For my speculative art, I try to put some time and effort into the backgrounds to make them memorable, but I think I bit off more than I could chew with this one as I spent way too much time on the background of this one.
Thanks, Brian! Very interesting!
And without further ado, here's a sneak peek:
10 August 2021
Here's what J.C. had to tell us about it:
I don’t write about siblings. That probably sounds deeply ironic, coming from the author of a story called “The Promises of Sisters,” but it’s true. Like many fantasy authors, I end up with a lot of orphans and only children. It’s hard to go on magical adventures when your sibling wants to come, too.
I do, however, have two sisters. I’m the oldest of three, and my sisters have profoundly shaped me as a person. They regularly challenge and infuriate me, and they support me even when I can’t support myself. Such is the power of siblings. They also read my writing regularly, although hilariously, they won’t read this story until it comes out (hi Emily and Aly!).
When I began writing "The Promises of Sisters," the working title was "What It Means to Burn," and it was merely about a young woman who went to the land of the dead and then returned. But you can’t send someone to the land of the dead without a good reason, and I was struggling to find that reason for my protagonist.
It can be a hard thing, as a writer, to have an idea for a story and have that story take you in a completely different direction. So it was with this tale. While I was trying to walk the land of the dead, my protagonist was trying to get to her sister, and she wouldn’t rest until I’d added that sister into the story. As usual, the writing knew better what it needed than I did myself. The sister stayed, and the story unfurled from there.
When it came time to write the ending, though, I was challenged yet again. I don’t want to give anything away here, but I will simply say that sisterhood works both ways. I’m sure I infuriated my siblings just as much as they did me, and I know they love me as much as I love them. Love is not a straightforward road, and sisters will be pulling each other’s hair one minute and walking the paths of the dead for each other the next. Metaphorically, at very least.
Thanks J.C.! Very interesting!
03 August 2021
We had a large number of wonderful stories to choose from. Yay! We had trouble deciding, so ended up picking six stories. Yes, this is unusual!
Thus, all authors have, or will soon, hear from us regarding the disposition of submitted stories. 'Yes' authors should have, or will soon, receive a contract. As soon as we get those back, we start editing stories. Some editors think this is the funnest part of being an editor--helping make stories even better.
Our tech team has already starting creating the issue on the website. We are looking forward to getting blog entries from authors/artists for this very blog.
So, stay tuned for more Electric Spec info right here!
27 July 2021
20 July 2021
Bonnie Ramthun is a Colorado mom, wife, and novelist. Her novels for adults include the detective Eileen Reed mystery series of Ground Zero, Earthquake Games, and The Thirteenth Skull. Her middle grade mystery series includes The White Gates, Roscoe, and Haunted Waters. The White Gates, published by Random House, was a Junior Library Guild Premiere selection and a finalist for the Missouri Truman Award. She is a former chapter president of Mystery Writers of America, a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and a former war gamer for the Department of Defense.
13 July 2021
We are very busy with all the hundreds of stories in slush. Thanks for sending us your story!
Here's some miscellaneous feedback for authors:
- Do follow standard formatting conventions. Weird fonts, giant or tiny text sizes, extra spacing after paragraphs, and other odd stuff makes editors cranky.
- If you email us to withdraw your story, please try to include the date you sent the original submission.
- Don't bother summarizing your story in the cover letter. If I can't tell what the story is from reading it, a summary isn't going to help.
- Don't list dozens or hundreds of credits in your cover letter. If you want to include credits, just pick the top three or so. If you aren't sure what the 'top' means, go ahead and include the most recent.
- Don't tell us if you're unpublished in the cover letter. It's not an advertisement.
- I like to see title, genre, word-count and author contact info in the cover letter. If you want to include a bio--keep it short. We will request an updated bio from authors upon acceptance.
- We don't send email acknowledgements of story receipt (It caused too many problems.). But we won't keep you in suspense longer than four months. Every once in a while we get an email that an author has been waiting to hear from us for six months or more... No. Sorry, your story got lost in cyberspace.
- Authors who submit at the beginning of the submission period may do better than authors who submit at the last minute. Most editors try to keep ahead of slush. But, somehow, the end of the period always ends up being hectic. Thus, the beginning of the submission period is more relaxed. A more relaxed editor is more likely to take more time with your story.
06 July 2021
In our continuing discussion of feedback for authors...
Don't include gratuitious sex and/or violence. We especially don't like child rape or murder. Rape or murder of anyone is a tough sell, to be frank. Killing off characters in a short story and having the reader care is difficult. Often, there isn't enough page space to make the reader feel empathy for the victim.
That's why we prefer spooky or eerie macabre fiction rather than gory horror.
Don't offend the editors. This means, in your story, you shouldn't blatantly insult editors. Or authors. Or, anyone, for that matter. This idea holds for the cover letter as well.
Closely related to this is: don't include extreme politics or conspiracy theories in your story. I'm sorry to say, we had a story recently that included denial of the Holocaust as a major story element. Hard pass--exceptionally hard pass. In fact, we asked that author not to send us any more stories.
To end on a positive note: Do send us the story only you could write. We love personal, unique tales. What are you expert in? Passionate about? Who or what do you love? Write us a story about it!
30 June 2021
We are deep in the slush pile...
Here's some tips:
- Your page one needs to be very good. We get hundreds of stories, so, sadly, if your story opening isn't good, we probably won't keep reading. This means:
- formatting should be appropriate
- minimize grammar and spelling errors
- the content should be clear and interesting
- I recommend having someone else read your opening. Ask him/her what the story is about, or what's intriguing. If they can't tell you--modify the opening.
- Write about something we like (How do you know this? Read previous issues.)
- one editor loves dragons
- one editor enjoys unresolved/open endings
- one editor enjoys time travel, alternate worlds, quantum ideas
- consider steam-punk or genre mashups
- Consider a first line hook
- this probably isn't a long description
- this probably isn't dialogue
- the author telling the reader something can be effective here
22 June 2021
We have started working on the new issue, in particular, on stories in the slush pile. We periodically get requests for story feedback from editors. Sorry! We can't do that except... right here! So here you go:
- Be wary of starting your story with the protagonist waking up. (We see this A LOT.)
- Do submit your story as an attachment in the correct format.
- Do include a cover letter with the word count. There is no need to summarize the story. If the editor can't figure it out...not good.
- Do include some kind of speculative element in your story.
- Do write something original and unique.
- Do read earlier versions of the ezine so you know what we like. The good news is: they're free!
We'll probably include more tips right here next week.
Good luck with your writing!
15 June 2021
My fave is: https://ralan.com/ .
Obviously, if you are reading this, you are familiar with the best spec fic market of all: Electric Spec! :)
I heard about an article on authorspublish.com recently: 28 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Markets That Pay.
They say: Electric Spec is a speculative fiction magazine that is published four times per year and they will consider any story between 250 and 7,000 words with speculative fiction elements. They prefer science fiction, fantasy and the macabre, and pay $20 for every story they publish. Although they don’t acknowledge story receipt, they aim to respond within 135 days by email, with a “reject”, “accept”, or “hold-for-voting” message. If you haven’t received any message by that time, please resubmit. Take a look at their submission guidelines here. Read the current and previous issues here.
I didn't include their links.
I must admit I don't know much about this site, but it's nice to be mentioned. If you do know about it, feel free to comment. ;)
Electric Spec is currently accepting submissions!
08 June 2021
- BEST NOVEL Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tordotcom)
- BEST NOVELLA Ring Shout, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom)
- BEST NOVELETTE "Two Truths and a Lie", Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com)
- BEST SHORT STORY "Open House on Haunted Hill", John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots)
I believe you can see the ceremony on sfwa_youtube.
01 June 2021
In this issue, we're proud to share:
- "A Touch of Cooperation" by D. A. D'Amacio--There's a great prize to be had on a hostile alien world, but no single person has the strength to claim it.
- "The Kipnibble Singularity" by Andrea M. Pawley--When an AI society arises in the most unlikely of places, how will they treat humans... or cats, for that matter?
- "Jeremy Sleeps" by Elizabeth Guilt--To be in love is to share our dreams... yet for one woman, the experience is anything but a honeymoon.
- "The Law of Stonekin" by Sean Mabry--In gargoyle culture, there are a few simple rules for survival. Then there's always that one person who has to push the limits...
- "The Annie Scam" by Luke Foster--Social media gives us a seductive illusion of connection--and for one influencer, reality crashes down in a startling way.
Check it out!
31 May 2021
Thank you so much to all the authors! To the cover artist! To the Electric Spec team! It's an honor to work with so many great creatives. Woo hoo!
And, of course, the reason we're all here: Thank you Readers!
25 May 2021
Here's a fun thing to do -- find out how the brains of your friends work. I promise that interesting conversations will result.
Start by telling a friend that you're going to say a few sentences and that you'll ask afterward about what you just said. Then say something like this, "You see a person walking beside the street. Someone going in the other direction passes with a dog, and a car drives by." It doesn't much matter what you say. Just be sure to leave out the details, and only offer a few simple sentences about a scene. Then ask your friend to tell you what you just said.
Some people will add texture to the recollection. Some will stick to what you said. Others may only be able to recall one sentence. Regardless, when that's done, ask your friend if the thing they just recalled was something they saw or something they heard or something else entirely. The point is to get to how they formed and retained the memory.
In doing this little brain glimpse exercise with one of my favorite writer friends, I learned that she created the memory of what I said completely in sound. She had no visual at all. It turns out that when she writes, she doesn't see anything either. I was stunned at the time, but my conversation with her was an early one. I've since learned that the way memory works is all over the place.
I have about six mental tracks going at once with four of them completely visual. In my field of view when my eyes are open, the layers I can see exist on top of each other. One of the non-visual mental tracks sometimes ponders what it would be like not to have so many tracks observing and thinking about things all the time. The irony isn't lost on me.
In my visual way, I wrote "The Kipnibbles Singularity." I started with the name Vespasian. The image of a cat immediately came to mind, and I started to look around in my brain for what was in Vespasian's environment and what was important to him. The house revealed itself to me from the ground up. I saw that Vespasian had very strong feelings toward his food bowl, and that bowl was special in a science fiction way.
That story was a lot of fun to write. My mental tracks don't spend much time visualizing a technological singularity, but when they do, Vespasian the Cat is always involved.
Very interesting! Thanks, Andrea! Check out all the stories on May 31, 2021!
20 May 2021
Sleep can telescope or collapse time, and can mess with our perceptions. Yet because it's something that we (usually) do every day, we regard it as mundane.
Sometimes we're not even aware that we are sleeping. How often have you seen someone asleep on a sofa, snoring, only to have them open their eyes and deny that they've been asleep? Sometimes, lying awake at night, I feel as if I haven't slept at all - but am aware that the time has passed too quickly for that to be true. I might have memories of things that happened during the night which, when considered in the literal light of day, are too fantastical to have actually happened. Conversely, sometimes people will tell me things I said or did which I don't remember at all.
Years ago, I woke up in the middle of an argument; I was furious that a friend refused to accept what I was saying. As I repeated my point over and over, my conviction faded until I realised that I was talking absolute rubbish. By the time I was properly with it, I couldn't even remember what it was I'd been trying to say. The friend, by the way, was genuinely present, and was somewhere between amused and baffled by their end of the conversation - apparently I'd appeared completely alert the entire time, forming sentences that were syntactically correct, but utterly meaningless.
I am a sound sleeper, and often my alarm clock intrudes into a reality which waking-me wouldn't recognise. The things I believe about this little, ringing monster beside my bed - and the decisions I can take while wrestling with it - often owe far more to dream logic that sense. I am, quite literally, not myself when only half awake.
Sleep is, by any definition, a mind-altering substance, and I wanted to write a story which explored the experience of living more permanently in that half-space between sleeping and waking.
Very interesting! Thanks, Elizabeth! Check out all the stories on May 31, 2021!
18 May 2021
Why non-human protagonists?
That is the question I often ask my imagination, and always with a tone of accusation. After all, it’s much more difficult to write non-human protagonists. Whenever I do, I have to work that much harder to help the reader relate to them.
So what makes Guillaume the Gargoyle like us? What makes his story worth our time? A few things. First, he has an insatiable desire for novelty. I once read an essay about early human sex differences. It talked about the male tendency to push out into the unknown even in times of relative peace and comfort. That's weird, isn't it? And while it's not exclusive to males, it does speak to a certain impulse that makes our species unique.
Second, he's selfish, but in a particular way. He has an idea of what he wants and he makes the deadly mistake of assuming others want the same. Worse, he acts on it. If Guillaume wanted to hurt others, especially Benoit, then he'd be a flat, boring villain. Instead, his fundamental goodness becomes corrupted by a subtle and devious Ego. Sound familiar?
Third, and finally, he’s trapped in the Cycle of Trauma. Tauri the Stoneweaver created the Stonekin to suit his own needs. Guillaume created Benoit to suit his. Is Guillaume not perpetuating the same harm as before? He is, at first. He only escapes the cycle by sacrificing his own happiness for the autonomy of his new friend. Of course, that very decision earns him a second chance.
And if a weatherbeaten gargoyle can find his redemption, can't we all?
Very intersting! Thanks, Sean! Check out all the stories on May 31, 2021!
11 May 2021
Not every pandemic story is about a virus. Last year, many people tried their hand at online dating, some for the first time. Other people tried to take advantage of them. Those stories inspired "The Annie Scam."
Fun! Thanks, Luke! Check out all the stories on May 31, 2021!
06 May 2021
About the piece, he says: My mushrooms need goopy yellow plutonium juice to thrive. They need to eat, right? We must continue to provide for them. Quinuclidinyl benzilate does wonders for their spore production And dimethylheptylpyran--such an aphrodisiac!
Fun! Thanks for sharing, Michael! Check out his bio on our Artists page. Check the whole issue on May 31, 2021!
04 May 2021
Down to business... All authors should have received an email from us with a yea or nay by now or within the next couple of days. If you haven't heard from us: please resubmit. Mysteriously, it does seem like cyberspace eats a story every once in a while. :(
Savvy readers of this blog know 'yea' emails are accompanied by a contract. Please send those back ASAP so we can start editing your story. Don't worry! We edit with authors.
All this means we should start posting blog entries from contributors in this exact space very soon. Woo hoo! Stay tuned!
May the Fourth Be With You!
27 April 2021
Bottom line: next week I'll give the Production Meeting report here.
Thank you very much for submitting your stories! We really appreciate it!
20 April 2021
We have received many, many excellent stories. Thank you for submitting! The time-crunch is on to finish the stories in the slush-pile. If you submitted, you should hear from us within the next two weeks.
How do you get your story published? You write the story only you can write. This means we want to see unique specific details of setting, world(s), characters, thoughts, feelings, and the like.
What are you passionate about? Why? Show us! What do you have expertise on? Why? Show us! What experiences have you had? What people have you known? What are your values and ideals? What are your dreams? What are your worries and fears?
When you incorporate your specifics, your story will shine!
13 April 2021
We get hundreds of submissions for each issue. (Yay!) This means we do not read every story in the slush pile from start to finish. Sorry.
This means your first page needs to be very good, and your first paragraph needs to be very good. Grab the attention of the editors with something unique. This could be beautiful prose, a dramatic problem, a personable voice, or a fascinating world. This could be a speculative fiction genre we don't get often such as steampunk, or humorous horror. This could also be a fun mash-up of speculative genres.
Often authors waste precious real-estate on the first page with backstory, setting descriptions or world-building info-dumps. Another way of putting this: often authors start the story too early. Start your story when the story starts.
If you must include backstory, descriptions, info-dumps, etc. put them a little later. (Notice this is market-dependent; some markets like front-loaded description.)
I hate to be negative, but ... If you have weird formatting, grammar issues or other similar problems on your first page, it will count against you.
Good luck making your first page awesome!
06 April 2021
Today, I thought I'd pass along some tips regarding not annoying your editors.
- Don't ask for an update on your story. Unfortunately, we just don't have the resources for this.
- Don't ask for exceptions to various submission rules. Please do attach your story as an rtf file. Please do use standard formatting.
- Don't send your submission to the wrong email address. It likely will get lost even if you send it to editors at you-know-where. Again, we just get too much email to deal with this.
- Don't submit a story outside the word count limits. We won't bend the rules for your story.
- Don't critique instructions on the submisisons page or elsewhere on the website.
- Don't tell us the wrong things in your cover letter. I don't want to know you've never published a story before. I don't want to know your political or religious or other very subjective opinions. If you've published dozens of stories before I don't want to know the names of all the markets; pick the top few. Don't summarize your story.
- Do tell us your name (and pen name, if relevant), your story name, your story genre, your story word count. Do tell us a short writing-related bio.
- Don't open your story with a lot of racism, misogyny, brutal murder-of-editors (!), or other offensive stuff.
30 March 2021
I must admit some real-world events have overtaken us, or at least, me. I live less than a mile from a recent mass-shooting in the U.S. The rest of the editors live in the same general area. Consequently, I have no stomach for stories full of dead bodies. If you have such a story, please wait to submit it. If you've already submitted such a story: sorry, try another market.
We will all get through these challenging times with time and kindness.
23 March 2021
Please continue to follow best safety practices: wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
Please consider getting the vaccination when you are eligible.
I'm looking forward to the day when we're all safe! Take care!
16 March 2021
The last year has been difficult for everyone. At the last Electric Spec meeting the editors discussed how tough it had been and how we didn't really have the stomach for negative, depressing, or dytopian stories.
So, if you're writing, consider creating a story with a more positive spin. Optimistic stories will get more editor-love in the near future.
Hopefully, things will get better and better as 2021 progresses...
09 March 2021
by Anselmo J. Alliegro?
Did you read part 1 of Nikki Baird's enjoyable short story "The Iron That Binds?" What will happen in part 2?
Did you read the fascinating interview of D.A. D'Amico Interview by Candi Cooper-Towler? How has D.A. managed to published in Electric Spec multiple times? What does he know about audio publication? Read about these topics and much more!
02 March 2021
Here's what we've got for you in our first 2021 issue:
- "Al and the Skeleton Tree" by Paul Wilson--Is the most notorious tree in a run-down neighborhood really haunted...or is the mystery even deeper?
- "Keeper John" by Bill Hughes--An elite courier of magical artifacts receives the deadliest package of his career.
- "The Flip Side" by Jay Tyler--Extreme measures to control overpopulation conceal an even darker secret.
- "Visiting Hours" by Selah Janel--The faerie hunter known as the Erlking pursues the one mortal who escaped him.
- "Paper Wings" by Brian Low--In the chaos of the Three Kingdoms era, a young scavenger befriends a magical paper bird.
28 February 2021
Thanks so much to the cover artist and all the authors!
Thanks so much to all the Electric Spec staff.
And, especially, thanks so much to all the readers!
25 February 2021
To me, one of the wonderful things about classic pulp fiction was how fast the stories were. The authors I like best are the ones who would just drop you in the middle of something without any explanations. If a background detail is important, it will become clear enough as you go--and if it isn’t important, who needs it? At least that’s the theory. Several writers--especially crime writers like Mickey Spillane and Paul Cain—wrote some ferociously quick fiction that way. I can't pretend to be as good at it as those guys, but I try to keep their example in mind when I sit down to write.
Thanks, Bill! Very interesting!
Be sure to check out "Keeper John" and all the other stories on February 28!
23 February 2021
I was one of those kids who had a giant imagination growing up. It wasn't just the fact that I was creative, but I tended to carry my what-if's into whatever real life situation I was in. Family vacations turned into epic adventures in my head, the little day to day tasks became romanticized while looking at them from new angles. Everything presented a special possibility, everything opened up questions. What if a relative I was visiting was really a witch (I had a thing for haunted houses even then, so this wasn't an insult)? What if aliens landed and I had to teach them what everything was for on Earth? What if magic was real?
I loved playing outdoors, and loved hiking trails with my parents in the nearby state parks. There was just something about trees that opened up possibility for me, that made me feel safe and gave me a sense of freedom I didn't get walking around the neighborhood. It wasn't hard to imagine that creatures lurked in the underbrush. Between my early love of folklore and the fact that all of the 1980s marketed magical creatures to girls, it wasn't hard to make the leap in my mind. Of course pixies hid under the trees! Why couldn't some Midwest version of selkies hide in the creeks? A friend of mine once found an alligator snapping turtle in his backyard, so who knew what I could wake up to!
Deep down, I knew it was pretend. It was never anything I tried to convince other people to believe--I knew how reality worked, even as a kid. I treasured those moments, though, those peaceful walks where the air smelled green and every rustle of leaves held the promise of something elusive, something that may or may not exist. Those ruminations always got me thinking, and in some ways, I think they made me very self-aware and in touch with my own emotions. They also opened up the possibility of public embarrassment and many, many family stories of which I'll never hear the end of, but it's a small price to pay.
As I got older, those what ifs served me well as a writer, but they took a more adult tone. What if a person wished hard enough, worked long enough, and it just still wasn't enough? What if magic wasn't enough to save someone? What if two characters loved each other, but never got around to actually admitting it to each other? What if magic was real, but it couldn't cure every problem?
That mix of childhood daydreaming and adult sensibility led me to Birch's story. After the death of my grandparents over the years, I came face to face with the fact that they were people who had ups and downs, did their best, loved and lost, just like a lot of people do. I had to face the giant wall that now separated me from them, had to face the swirl of emotion that each passing brought up. Each death also brought me closer to who they were as people, and made me question my own place in the world. T
Inevitably, they eventually merged with my story ideas and mental meanderings through imaginary forests. My grandparents had no magic cure for the hardship in their lives, so what would happen if a magical creature had to accept the limitations of their power and consequences of the human realm? Could a creature like that take joy in the little things, or would it forever be a game to it? The character of the Erlking has always fascinated me. He's someone who's known for his cruelty, for stealing away maidens and feasting on the souls of children. There are many different interpretations, and you see hints of him pop up in other characters--you'll never convince that there isn't at least a bit of Erlking in Labyrinth's Jareth. There's also loads of stories alluding to the relationships of faeries and mortals, but what would that even entail? What would that mean in the modern world, and what would a faerie do if even his power couldn't protect him from love, or protect the object of his love from death?
What if, indeed.
Thanks, Selah! Very interesting!
Be sure to check out "Visiting Hours" and all the other stories on February 28!
16 February 2021
Generals and heroes are interesting for sure, but I've always been more fascinated by the struggles of the less-privileged in times of war: soldiers, farmers, and in this story, scavengers. But what if the things you're scavenging are also trying to kill you? As for why I set this story in China's Three Kingdoms' period, I thought I'd like to write (and read!) something a little different from the Western-inspired settings that I mostly read.
I hope you enjoy the story too!
Thanks, Brian! Very interesting!
Be sure to check out "Paper Wings" and all the other stories on February 28!
09 February 2021
Al and the Skeleton Tree: This story was inspired by a short period of time that I lived with my father. I had a job at a local theater and walked to work every day through areas very much like Pecan Grove. The tree is real, a huge thing that forced me off the sidewalk and into the road to walk around it. I got to wondering one day about its age, how much it had seen, and how much of its history might make it angry.
I like the trio of characters in this story and how supportive they are of each other. Later edits suggested anger at racial and economic inequality from Al. It wasn’t a theme I planned, but one that emerged organically. A good lesson in letting the story live and not forcing it into a pre-conceived box.
Also, this is the birth of Pecan Grove East to mirror Pecan Grove West where Daddy Christmas exists, a story I finished last year. Like that tale, I know I am not finished with these characters or this tree, and I find that very exciting. Hopefully anyone reading will find the same excitement.
Thanks, Paul! Very interesting!
Be sure to check out "Al and the Skeleton Tree" and all the other stories on February 28!
02 February 2021
This means all authors should have heard from us by this week if you submitted within the Feb 2021 window. If you did not hear from us, your story may have gotten lost in cyberspace. Authors who got acceptances should have also received a contract by now. As soon as you agree to the contract, we'll start editing your story.
We will be featuring cover art "Denial" by Anselmo J. Alliegro. The artist says, "This painting depicts a retreat into a bubble, whether it be virtual, the media, or any medium that alienates us from each other and the natural world. The person floats inside a bubble of denial, while the environment outside is degraded and burning."
Stay tuned later in the month for a sneak peek of "Denial" right here!
26 January 2021
When I initially read stories in the slush pile, I try to be very objective. I look for a protagonist, plot, setting, world-building, and a speculative element. If a story is objectively good I put it in the hold-for-voting pile. The stories in hold-for-voting are ranked in order of preference by each editor. Then we discuss them at the production meeting.
When it comes to the final rankings of each editor, our subjectivity comes into play. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. One editor likes arty stories with a lot of pretty prose and descriptions and a vague or unresolved ending. One editor loves anything to do with dragons. One editor seems to like anything to do with quantum stuff. One editor likes stories with time travel. One editor likes stories with music. (Yes, that's a lot of editors.)
Some people call these preferences reader cookies--because they are a yummy treat for the reader. :)
I guess the bottom line for writers is: if you want to be published in a particular market, you should read the market to see what the editors like. Another take-away is: if your story isn't chosen, it could just be because of the subjectivity of the editors. A different editor or set of editors might love your story.
Next week I'll report on the production meeting.
19 January 2021
In the meantime, in the age of Covid, I've been rereading a bunch of my nonfiction writing books. (How about you?) Writing advice really differs. At least one nonfiction author recommends keeping a writing journal and writing in it free hand everyday to keep the creative juices flowing. Another says keep a notebook/note app with you twenty-four seven to jot down ideas (like Agatha Christie!). One says write down ideas on a big sheet and connect them in a kind of idea cloud.
One says reject your first ideas because they're too obvious.
There's also the old adage: Write what you know.
I've been ruminating on all this advice. I think you should write what you're passionate about. When you write what you care out, the story comes alive for the author. This makes it come alive for the reader.
Bottom line: do whatever works for you.
Good luck whatever you decide to write about!
12 January 2021
Within the last week, I read more stories that started with the protagonist waking up. Ugh. Try to avoid this. I read more stories that merely involved a man killing his romantic partner. Ugh. Try to avoid this.
Interestingly, I also read a couple stories with no showing. Ugh. Try to avoid this. If you read Electric Spec, you know we like some showing. Showing means dialogue, people talking to each other. Showing means characters acting in the moment. In contrast, telling means one person, such a narrator, telling the reader what happened. Some markets like telling; consider submitting your telling story there.
In these challenging times, consider distracting yourself by reading some free fiction at Electric Spec.
Stay safe and take care!
05 January 2021
The submission deadline for the fabulous February 28, 2021 issue is Jan 15, 2021. Get those stories in! Of course, we'll be accepting subs for the next issue after that.
As you may or may not have noticed, some editors have already been going through slush. Some have not yet--but they will soon.
I have read a lot of stories already for this upcoming issue.
I have some tips (although I'm not sure that any of these are new):
- Do obey our submission rules. Email your rtf file as an attachment. Do include a submission letter. Do use between 250 and 7000 words.
- Do include a speculative element.
- Do not start your story with the protag waking up.
- Do earn your murder(s). If you do include one or more murders, try to make them interesting or unique. I'm pretty tired of the standard husband/boyfriend murdering his wife/girlfriend.
- Do have correct grammar and spelling. (A couple mistakes is no big deal.)
- Do try to write something fresh and unique.