2015 Alberta Book Awards

Continuing our run of good news: Our friends at Tyche Books have THREE titles in the running for the 2015 Alberta Book Awards Speculative Fiction Book Award . Since the On Spec 25th anniversary anthology “Casserole Diplomacy and Other Stories” is one of those titles, and since “Seeing the Light” by our own Eileen (E.C.) Bell is another, Eileen and Diane  will be at the awards dinner on September 18 to join Tyche for the announcement of the winning book.

For a full list of the nominees, check out the 2015 Alberta Book Awards site. And join us in congratulating all our fellow nominees!

Comes the Dawn

I know the recent Canada Council letdown(s) have hung a pall over doings here at On Spec. We’ve all tried to stay hopeful, “…at dawn, look to the East” and all that. But it does feel like we are due some good news, right?

Well it came. On September 1, our mighty Editor-in-chief Diane Walton announced on Facebook:

Happy to report that On Spec will be receiving funding this year from the Alberta Media Fund, courtesy of the department of Alberta Culture and Tourism. We’ll continue encouraging donors to support our Patreon campaign, to help us sustain the magazine’s future.

This news couldn’t come at a better time. It goes without saying we would like to give a huge thank-you to the Alberta Media Fund and Alberta Culture and Tourism. But we would also like to say thank-you to you, the loyal readers who stuck by the magazine while we figured out how to weather this storm. While the clouds seems to be breaking, we’ll still be sailing a bit more carefully.

But one thing we are happy to announce is that all subscribers who have been patiently waiting for print copies will receive them. As soon as we have the funds in hand, printing and disbursement for the recent issues will commence. We don’t have a firm timeline on that yet, but stay tuned here; as soon as we know, you’ll know.

If, buoyed by this good news, you are looking for something new to read, why not check out our sister magazine Sleuth? We’re really proud to have taken a step in a new direction, and if mystery and suspense is your thing we’d love for you to take that step with us.


Canada Council Update

About this time last year, we at On Spec received the disturbing news that our application for funding from the Canada Council for the Arts during 2015 had been rejected. It was rather stunning, especially accompanied by jury comments about how poor our fiction selections were, and how sloppy the magazine’s production quality had apparently become, in the jury’s opinion.

There is no appeal process, so we did what we could do under the circumstances: severely reduced our production and organizational and staffing costs; depended even more on our volunteers; and tried to increase fundraising efforts with our Patreon campaign. We have managed our dwindling resources very cautiously, and we are grateful to our other granting agencies, the Edmonton Arts Council and the Alberta Media Fund, for their support.

A few weeks ago, we received the news that once again, the Canada Council jury had deemed On Spec unworthy of support in 2016. To add insult to injury, instead of a few vague criticisms, we were provided with a scoresheet, showing our high, low and median scores from this year’s jury, based on the criteria they used for judging. Magazines are judged on: quality of writing, design, marketing and production; ability to identify a target audience and reach readers; quality of the magazine’s administrative and financial management; excellence of content and quality of writing and editorial work; achievement of mandate and editorial vision; and contribution to the development of the practice.

While we certainly cannot argue that we should pay writers more, being told that we don’t demonstrate an ability to identify our target audience, or that we lack a strong editorial mandate, clearly shows that the jury pretty much ignored or discounted everything we had carefully explained in our application, along with the testimonials we provided on the quality of our fiction and our value to the development of the genre in Canadian writing.

Once again, there’s no appealing the decision.

Some hard choices had to be made, and the first is that, starting with our Spring 2015 issue (delayed due to several family emergencies among the members of our senior editorial staff), On Spec will temporarily suspend print production, and be available as a digital magazine only. We trust that, as soon as funds become available, On Spec will be printed for our subscribers, and we appreciate their support. As soon as the issue is available, our subscribers will be informed by email or by letter, and given a means to freely access the digital issue in their preferred format.

In times to come, our marketing and fundraising efforts will increase to the best of our abilities, and we look forward to publishing more excellent fiction and poetry for many years to come.

We are also proud to announce the launch this month, of Sleuth Magazine, a new Canadian digital journal of mystery and suspense. The first issue will be presented at When Words Collide in Calgary.  We hope that Sleuth will fill a niche in much the same way On Spec did, 25 years ago.

Thanks, as always, to all our contributors, subscribers, and donors for their ongoing support.



Joël Champetier- Canadian SF Has Suffered a Major Loss

The whole family at On Spec wishes to express our deepest condolences to friends and family of Quebec SF author, Joël Champetier, who passed away Saturday May 30, following a courageous battle with cancer.

Joël was an award-winning author, and longtime editor of Solaris, a highly-respected Canadian French-language SF magazine.
For more information, go to the Locus Magazine Obituary for Joël.

Special Offer For Writers

Are you a writer? Or do you know someone who is? If so, here’s your chance to pick up eleven books in one bundle that teach how to be a writer and to build a writing career. Books written by established pros, best sellers, and award-winners. And you can also get a 40% discount on Jutoh, the best software available today for producing professional quality ebooks, the tool used by the top indie authors.

For a limited time, StoryBundle is offering “The Write Stuff” ebook bundle, curated by the award-winning, multi-genre author and editor, Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

The price is right, too. You only need to pay a minimum of $5 to get the initial set of six titles in The Write Stuff bundle: The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer, Writing Into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith, , Playing the Short Game by Douglas Smith, Making Tracks – A Writer’s Guide to Audiobooks by J. Daniel Sawyer, Rejection, Romance & Royalties by Laura Resnick, Business For Breakfast – Vol 1: The Beginning Professional Writer by Leah Cutter

If you pay at least $15, you’ll get another five books, plus the code for 40% off Jutoh: Break Writer’s Block Now! by Jerrold Mundis, Writing Horses – The Fine Art of Getting It Right by Judith Tarr, The Write Attitude by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Pitfalls of Writing Fantasy by Vonda N. McIntyre, 30 Days in the Word Mines by Chuck Wendig,

And don’t worry about what kind of ebook reader you need–you get multiple DRM-free formats (both .epub and .mobi) for all books.

The Write Stuff bundle is available for a very limited time only. This offer expires at midnight on June 4, 2015. So go to http://storybundle.com/writing right now to get this bundle and kick start your writing career.

Plus, Douglas Smith is offering a free copy of the bundle to a lucky On Spec subscriber. Just tweet about it (with the StoryBundle link above) and include our twitter handle (@OnSpecMagazine) and Doug’s too (@smithwritr), and we’ll draw a winner from tweets over the next week. 

New Ways to Get On Spec

In our constant search for ways to remove impediments between our desire to sell you an amazing magazine, and your desire to buy said amazing magazine, I’m happy to announce two new methods for acquiring both digital and hard copies of On Spec. Both have been added to the subscription page, but here’s the details:

Kobo – We’ve teamed up with Kobo to offer both digital subscriptions and single issues of On Spec. The single issues go all the way back to 2009, so that is plenty of stories for you to catch up on. Plans are in motion to expand our offering of back-issues as well, so you may see more issues offered as time goes on.

Variant Edition – Edmonton has a brand new comic store, Variant Edition! Besides carrying an amazing array of comics, VE has made the sage choice to not only carry hard copies of On Spec in-store but also to offer them digitally through their site. Just scroll down until you see the On Spec Magazine button, and click through to add it to your cart. And the added bonus of buying On Spec through Variant Edition? Supporting a cool new comic store in Edmonton!

Tell your friends! Tell your neighbours! Tell enemies you want to confuse with kindness! We’ll keep finding ways to make buying On Spec easier, because we want to keep putting amazing sci-fi in your nerdy little hands.

Gallery Walk

It’s finally here, gentle readers: the On Spec Contributor Gallery! Take a walk through the gallery and see all the wonderful writers, artists, and poets who have contributed to our twenty-five year history, as well as current contributors.

As well as the gallery, every week we’ll pick a contributor at random to feature here in the blog. We’ll give you a little more detailed look at what they’re up to, maybe even a short interview. So stay tuned for that.

If you are a past or present contributor to On Spec, please send us a picture of yourself, preferably holding your issue(s) of On Spec, along with a short bit about what you’re up to now. Include a link to your site if you have one. Pics and bios can be sent to onspec@onspec.ca.

The Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic


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