26 January 2021


We are working hard on the fabulous February 2021 issue of Electric Spec! We're mostly done with slush now and are preparing for the production meeting.
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

What should you write about?

Yes! We are working hard on the fabulous February 2021 issue of Electric Spec! We've received many marvelous stories. Thank you for submitting! I'll give a progress report on the new issue in about two weeks.

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

working hard on slush

With the Jan 15, 2021 submission deadline looming for the fabulous February 2021 issue of Electric Spec, all the editors are working hard on the stories in the slush pile. If you sent in your story already: Thank you! If not: Get it in!

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

Electric Spec Update

Happy 2021!!! Like the rest of you, the Electric Spec Editors are happy to be in the new year. We don't anticipate any big changes with the ezine this year. We'll have four issues with approx. five stories per issue. If your story is accepted, we may do some editing, working with you.

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.

Good luck!