All posts by Brent

Story Submissions Open March 1

We will be open to new submissions of short fiction on March 1, 2018. The window will close six weeks after that, and no emailed manuscripts will be accepted.

As usual, we cannot promise a quick turnaround, although we have some new slush readers who have joined us to help with the massive volume of work we receive in that time period. Once a story is short-listed, it will be read, evaluated and discussed by several of the editors before we make the final decisions.

In the meantime, please read the Guidelines for Submission Format carefully and keep it wholly to ensure your story is read. If you have questions about the submission process, please refer to our Submissions FAQ first. If you still have questions they can be sent to onspec@onspec.ca.

We look forward to your stories, so get typing!

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“Casserole Diplomacy” E-book in Alberta Libraries

We are pleased to announce that, thanks to the Alberta government’s generous support of Alberta’s book publishing industry, Tyche Books has told us that  “Casserole Diplomacy and other Stories: an On Spec 25th Anniversary Retrospective” is available as an ebook through public libraries across Alberta!

Check your local library to see how this book can be accessed. For those new to On Spec, “Casserole Diplomacy” is a collection of editor-selected stories to celebrate 25 years of On Spec in Canada.

For more information about the Read Alberta E-book Project, click here.

Submission Update

We’ve been told that some writers tried to submit stories last night within the deadline, or so they thought. However, they found the link to Submittable for Short Fiction had been removed.
It appears that Submittable may have cut off submissions at midnight Eastern time, which left a lot of people out of luck. If you were one of them (and we rely on your honesty!) , please contact us by Friday, Febrary 3 at onspec@onspec.ca.

Podcasts for Writerly Types

I love winter. Any excuse to stay inside and read a good book is a good excuse, and winter delivers. Cold, snow, biting winds…no thank-you! Give me a comfortable chair, a mug of something hot, and a good book to curl up with any day.

But with Canadian winters providing such an extended period of excuses, there are times (brief, horrifying times) when I don’t have a book at hand. And that’s when I turn to my podcasts about, what else, writing and books. There are a plethora of literature oriented podcasts out there. Whatever the genre you’ll find a podcast or six to entertain and spark your imagination.

For those new to podcasts, I’ve chosen three of my favourites to get you started. Even if you’re a podcast aficionado I hope at least one of these will be new to you, and deliver hours of entertainment. I’ve linked to their websites, but all of these are available through iTunes if you want to subscribe.

WriteReads – WriteReads is “a Canadian book club podcast that will change the world of literature forever.” A bold statement, but given how many books I’ve personally picked up based on their recommendation, they might manage to pull it off. Hosted by Kirt Callahan and Tania Gee and produced in On Spec’s home town of Edmonton, the duo list the books they’ll be reading on their website. Listeners are encouraged read the monthly selections and take part in the discussion. But even if you don’t read along, the podcasts are highly entertaining and informative. There is always something wonderful in listening to passionate people talk about the thing they love, and it’s clear that Kirt and Tania love books. That alone makes it worth listening to, and it’s almost icing on the literary cake that you also get smart critique and great book recommendations.

Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff – This crosses the streams for me a little bit, as it could be argued that Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff is primarily a table-top gaming podcast. And while that is the reason I started listening, I think it safe to say you’ll get just as much from the episodes as a writer, even if you never go near a gaming table. Robin D. Laws and Kenneth Hite are both well-published authors as well as game designers. When they discuss role-playing games, what they are really talking about is story construction. And they talk about it so well, you can ignore fussy little details like what media is involved. I highly recommend listening for the wealth of story ideas this podcast generates; you may never run out of inspiration again, especially if your writing tends to the odd and macabre.

Sword & Laser – The longest running of my three suggestions, and with good reason, Sword & Laser is hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. Each episode features lively discussions about news in the world of sci-fi and fantasy (not always related to literature), interviews with authors, and the podcast also runs an ongoing book club to foster a sense of community. Community building is actually one of the stated goals of the podcast, and they seem to be doing a great job. I recommend tracking down the video episodes when they were part of the Geek & Sundry Network on YouTube and giving those a watch. They had a lot of fun with them, and you can continue to watch snippets of interviews and such on their YouTube channel. Probably the best general-purpose podcast for both staying on top of news in the SF&F world and discussing the books you love.

Okay, that’s three of mine. If you’re new to podcasts I hope this gives you many entertaining hours and leads you on to more. If you’re already immersed in the podcasting world, what are some of your favourite writerly podcasts? Drop them in the comments below.

Subscriber Update

To our subscribers,

Recently we were dismayed to find that Canada Post had returned 30 copies of our Spring 2015 issue, rather than delivering them to the subscribers. It appears to be completely random, and the address labels have absolutely nothing wrong with them, so we are investigating this issue with our mailing service. The copies will be re-posted as soon as possible.
Thanks,
Diane Walton, Editor-in-chief

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.

 

 

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.