Thursday, August 14, 2014


WAY BACK IN MAY, 2013, I POSED SEVERAL SHORT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS to the On Spec editors (including myself) so that writers might have a better understanding of our tastes and what we are looking for in the stories submitted to us. As we are about to open a new submission window for both the Punk themed issue and our regular issues, I thought it would be a good idea to pose those same questions to our new editors, Eileen Bell, Brent Jans, Constantine Kaoukakis, and Laurie Penner. Here is how Eileen Bell answered my questions: 

1). What kinds of stories appeal to you most? Do you lean towards a particular type of story or style? I will read almost anything speculative, but lean toward the dark and/or the humorous. The story with the most appeal for me will have a definite beginning, middle, and end. Yes, I’m actually looking for a plot! I want believable characters that leap off the page. Good, crisp dialogue. Enough description to bring the story to life, without overwhelming it. Oh, and there is a special place in my heart for stories set in Canada. 

2). What types of stories don't appeal to you? What are your pet peeves, writing-wise? High fantasy does not appeal to me, and lately I’ve found that I’m reading much less historical fiction. Absolutely nothing wrong with either -- they are just not what I’m reading right now. Pet peeves? If there’s too much description, no matter how beautifully written, I’ll skip it to get to what happens next. For me, in a short story especially, too much of it is the kiss of death. I believe that every bit of description must have a reason for being there. If it doesn’t, take it out. Another peeve is an unsatisfactory ending. If I’ve decided to go on this journey with you, please give me an ending that is well written and as thoughtful as the beginning. Oh -- and don’t get too clever with your writing. Some like that, but I find it distracting. I’m there for the story. 

3). What advice would you give to a writer submitting to us? Read back issues of the magazine to make sure that your work fits. Before you send your manuscript, proofread. Just using spell check won’t do it. (We can tell when you do that, you know.) Follow the guidelines. But above all else, write a story you love. 

4). Please list any credits you'd like mentioned (ie. book pubs, editing/publishing involvement), followed by a small bio. I’ve had short fiction published in magazines and several anthologies, including the double Aurora Award winning Women of the Apocalypse and the Aurora winning Bourbon and Eggnog. My first novel, a paranormal mystery called Seeing the Light, (Tyche Books) will be out in October, 2014. When I’m not writing, I’m living a fine life in my round house (that's in a perpetual state of renovation) with my long suffering husband and two dogs. Oh, and the first story I ever had published was in On Spec!

Thanks, Eileen. For those of you who want to see what those of us who represent the 'old guard' like and don't like, you can check out these links:

For Diane Walton
For Barb Galler-Smith
For Ann Marston
For Barry Hammond (poetry)
and for myself, Susan MacGregor

(P.S. And I, for one, adore Historical SF, so if you've written one, don't worry! Eileen and I will battle it out. And Barb might wade in to wage war with us, too. - S.)

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