The Availability And Benefits Of Short Fiction

You can discover new authors who might become your next Favorite Author by reading their short stories. And your investment in time is minimal.
on Jun 30, 2014 · 8 comments

Splickety's Avily Jerome and Ben Wolf at the 2014 Realm Makers Conference

Splickety’s Avily Jerome and Ben Wolf at the 2014 Realm Makers Conference

For many Christians who love speculative fiction, there simply can’t be enough, and yet finding good stories may be problematic. Often we can’t afford to buy books if we aren’t sure they’re the type we enjoy. Hence, we rely on the tried and true. We buy Favorite Author’s books and perhaps books produced by Favorite Speculative Publisher. And that’s it.

But what about the other eight hundred or so Christian speculative books that are on the market? Might there not be some good books in the bunch? Undoubtedly so. But how to find them.

One way, of course, is to use the SpecFaith Library resource and hunt down books—based on genre, cover, story description, or key words—which you might like, then click on the Amazon link next to each and read an excerpt.

Another plan is more circuitous and long term: how about starting with short fiction? For some time, Christian speculative fiction has been available via free digital magazines on the Internet. Mindflights was one quite popular publication which had merged two others: The Swords Review and Dragon, Knights, and Angels. Others took a less overt Christian and more science fiction approach. Ray Gun Revival was one such publication, Residential Aliens, another.

More recently Digital Dragon made a foray into the world of online Christian speculative stories. None of these has lasted, however, in part because they don’t have a sustainable income. Consequently the editing falls to volunteers who come and go or to the editor-in-chief who ends up doing all the work and eventually wearing out or moving on to other venues, depending on his or her career path.

Does that mean these ventures were all busts? I don’t think so at all. In the first place, these sites offered writers a place to test the waters, to see if their stories measured up, to see if they’d be accepted for publication. Furthermore, they offered readers a place to find stories they wanted to read–fantasy or science fiction stories which had a Christian worldview or Christian characters or a Christian theme.

Now here comes the circuitous route I mentioned earlier—the method readers can use to find the good books they want. Many of the authors of online short stories are novelists. They write short fiction to hone their craft AND to develop an audience. In other words, you can discover new authors who might become your next Favorite Author by reading their short stories. And your investment in time is minimal.

Splickety Publishing Group logoA new, not-Christian-but-created-by-Christians publication came out a few years ago. Splickety Magazine has since developed into the Splickety Publishing Group, with three imprints catering to different genres. One, Havok, specializes in speculative fiction:

Havok is the premier publication for speculative flash fiction. We publish stories in the following genres (but this is not an exhaustive list): science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, paranormal, supernatural, horror, techno-thriller, superhero, and more.

Havok_coverThe good thing and the bad thing about the Splickety publications is that they have found a way to be self-sustaining: they solicit advertising AND they charge for subscriptions. In other words, these online and/or print magazines are not the free content of yesteryear. However, they are quite affordable. A digital subscription to Havok, which comes out quarterly, costs $9.95, or approximately $2.50 an issue.

While there are some ebooks or e-novellas available for a comparable price, the beauty of a short-story publication is the variety and the number of authors with whom you can become acquainted.

In addition, Splickety publishes a Lightning Blog containing articles, announcements, and, yes, several short stories! Why not dip a toe into short fiction this summer and see what authors you might meet who you’d like to continue reading.

Best known for her aspirations as an epic fantasy author, Becky is the sole remaining founding member of Speculative Faith. Besides contributing weekly articles here, she blogs Monday through Friday at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. She works as a freelance writer and editor and posts writing tips as well as information about her editing services at Rewrite, Reword, Rework.
Website ·
  1. dmdutcher says:

    There’s also Aquasynthesis from Splashdown Press, which is shared-world flash fiction, and Provision Books Common Oddities, which is PDF and free and prints full-sized fiction and reviews. Not really much else, and anthologies generally aren’t common to Christian spec fic.

    Some authors do novellas, which can be a good introduction to their style.

  2. Lyn Perry says:

    Thanks for broaching this topic (and mentioning Residential Aliens) – this was our purpose exactly (as you mentioned above), to provide a platform for Christian-themed speculative fiction and allow new writers to develop. I wish I had the time to continue such a venture, but if we all keep looking and encouraging other believers to expand our network of influence, we’ll eventually ‘break out’ of the ghetto.

  3. notleia says:

    There’s a load of models we could try to utilize and combine to make something that might possibly work. I think something more like Netflix or Hulu, something forum-ish, is more likely to take off than a magazine, especially if you’re trying to get people to pay for it. But it would need to offer a selection like Netflix or Hulu, and there’s a a problem. Another possible model is the site Wattpad, which is essentially a YouTube of text stories. It’s free, and there’s a lot of content, but there’s a lot of poop to wade through for the good stuff–or at least not-horrible stuff–which is determined by popular vote.

    Maybe it’s possible to hit something in the middle, like using a paywall. Maybe the amateur stuff on the free side with the edited stuff behind the paywall, maybe with some popular edited stuff shifted to the freebie side for teasers, like when Dish teases me with free AnimalPlanet for a month. I dunno, maybe this could offer more direct pay results to the authors based on how many hits their stories get.

    How plausible does that sound to everyone else?

    • Notleia, I think that might be what the Havok Lightning blog is for because they do have some stories there, with the paid pieces “behind the wall” (I like the way you explained that). The old Sword Review had a forum. It really was a growing enterprise—ventured into book publishing and someone bought them out but didn’t want the magazine arm. I thought that was a big loss. I was excited when Digital Dragon came on the scene, but I know I didn’t do much to promote them and they weren’t around long. So now we have Havok and the other ventures DM mentioned. I hope they can make a go of it.



  4. Alex Mellen says:

    To fellow writers on SpecFaith, for the same reasons that reading short fiction is a good idea, writing some is too. It’s not time-consuming like a novel, it allows you to practice tight, well-crafted writing, and it helps you break into publication.

    • Ben Wolf says:

      You’re exactly right, Alex. We at Splickety often tell folks to write flash fiction regardless of what your writing career aspirations are because it tightens up your writing and forces you to make every word count. Great advice.

  5. Matthias M. Hoefler says:

    Thank you Rebecca and all. This was a very helpful post.

  6. Ben Wolf says:

    Hey everyone,

    Wow, thanks so much for the shout-out, Spec. Faith and Rebecca! Havok is trekking along nicely and I’m grateful for your support and your interest. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality flash fiction in the world, and with your help we’ve been doing just that.

    I’m delighted to say that Havok is going strong and we aren’t going to quit any time soon. My secret has been to keep costs hilariously low and to rely on a dedicated team of volunteers (I think we have 15 total employees now?) without whom none of this would be possible.

    Spec. Faith brought up some interesting points about us charging for the flash fiction we produce and publish, and I’d like to address those. Obviously we need to bring in some money just to cover our expenses (and none of our staff get paid–yet–by the way, hence the term “volunteers”) to produce each issue. We recently raised our prices to reflect our growth and the improved quality of what we were offering, but along with that we will increase the payments to our authors (we’re going to double the current rate) starting in January of 2015. So never fear–money spent on Havok or our other magazines is being well spent and reinvested into helping us produce great publications for our readers.

    What’s more, we’re always offering ways for readers to get ahold of our magazines (at least in digital form) for free. We’ve started to offer free subscriptions to Havok via the email newsletters of our featured authors. We gave away about 100 one-year subscriptions to Tosca Lee’s followers, and we’re going to make that same one-year subscription available to Bryan Davis’s readership as well. You just have to know when and where to look, but Havok is totally available for free if you’re willing to sign up for your favorite authors’ mailing lists. You may even be able to get it for free forever if you’re diligent enough.

    So we’ve found ways to make it work thus far. We’re exceed about the future, but we need your help to continue moving forward. Here’s how you can help:

    1. Subscribe. Yep. This is super helpful to us because, whether you’re a paid subscriber or not, you’re one more set of eyes we can share with prospective advertisers. That means more potential for ad revenue, and thus more capital for operating expenses, and THAT means we won’t have to disappear on you like many of the aforementioned other publications.

    2. Submit. Without exquisite flash fiction, we won’t have anything to publish. Send us your best work (after you’ve edited it and had it critiqued and proofed by other awesome writers) and maybe we’ll put it in an upcoming issue. We’ve all got stories that are weird and might not fill 400 pages of a novel, right? Shrink them down to 1,000 words or less and send them our way.

    3. Advertise. Have you got a speculative product that you want to promote to our readers? It can be a book, a blog, an action figure, a bowl of alien jello–whatever. If you produce it, you can buy ad space with us to share with our readers. We always offer discounts if you purchase space in multiple issues.

    4. Blog with us. We’re constantly on the hunt for experienced bloggers who want to expand their reach and get their messages out there, specifically as it relates to flash fiction, of course, but also with regard to writing in general and, as far as Havok is concerned, stuff that’s weird and unusual. If that’s you, get in touch with us.

    If you’d like to jump into the fracas with us on any of these things, visit our website, for more information. We also have a few volunteer positions open and we’d love to consider you for them if you’re interested.

    Thanks again, Spec Faith, and I’ll happily answer any questions you guys might have about anything Splickety- or Havok-related.

    Ben Wolf
    Executive Editor
    Splickety Publishing Group

What do you think?