All posts by onspecmag

Sarah Tolmie: Poet Interview

We are very proud to have a poem by Sarah Tolmie (“Ursula Le Guin in the Underworld”) in the current issue of On Spec. It’s a beautiful tribute to the life of an astonishing writer who influenced many of us in our writing.

Sarah was interviewed recently by Colleen Anderson, another well-known On Spec poet and author . Take a look! 


YA Podcast: Cast of Wonders

The marvelous Alex Renwick (writing as Camille Alexa) has a story in this podcast, and its first appearance was as the first prize winning entry in our Apocalypse Issue Vol 24 No 3! You can see the text of the story, as well as listening to the podcast. Well worth your attention.

The Rosetta Man: A Review by Nicole Luiken

The Rosetta Man by Claire McCague
Publisher: Edge-Lite, 2015
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
The Rosetta Man is an intriguing alien first contact novel–with non-verbal aliens. The story starts out in New Zealand, but soon travels. Every nation desperately wants control over the aliens and since Estlin (an empath who’s mental shininess often attracts small animals) is the only one who can communicate, he gets dragged everywhere along with them. I enjoyed the international aspect of the story. Though the main character is Canadian, there are characters from New Zealand, China, America, Indonesia and Samoa among others. I found the novel to be very well-researched with lots of small details that gave the story authenticity. (Though most of the math–okay, all of the math–was over my head…) The intrigue of who would get control of the aliens and the mystery of what the aliens themselves wanted kept me turning pages past midnight.
Quibble: One of the subplots involved a Greenpeace ship and was told from the point of view of marine biologist, Jeannette. Since Jeannette had a past romantic connection with Estlin, when their paths finally crossed after hundred pages, I expected more to happen. Not necessarily a rekindling of the romance but perhaps an epiphany or realization related to either’s character arc.

Nicole Luiken is the author of thirteen published books for young adults, including Violet Eyes and its sequels Silver Eyes, Angel Eyes and Golden Eyes, Frost, Unlocking the Doors, The Catalyst, Escape to the Overworld, Dreamfire and the sequel Dreamline. Her latest release is In Truth & Ashes, book three of Otherselves. She also has an adult thriller, Running on Instinct, under the name N.M. Luiken and a fantasy romance series, Gate to Kandrith and Soul of Kandrith.

Nicole lives with her family in Edmonton, AB. It is physically impossible for her to go more than three days in a row without writing. Nicole Luiken wrote her first book at age 13 and never stopped.

Nicole wrote her first book at age 13 and never stopped, and she also published in On Spec’s first youth issue.

What we’re working on

The next issue of On Spec (Vol. 28 No 4, for those of you who are keeping track) is currently at the printer, and we should be sending them out within the next 2 weeks. We’ll have new fiction by Hayden Trenholm, Chelsea Vowel, Susan Forest, Jordan Taylor, Robert Luke Wilkins, Sally McBride and C.J. Lavigne. Plus artist and author interviews by our own Roberta Laurie, and Cat McDonald, an editorial by Virginia O’Dine, Can-Con 2017 report by Diane Walton, poetry from Josh Pearce and a beautiful tribute in verse for the late Ursula Le Guin, written by Sarah Tolmie.

Meanwhile, there is another exciting project happening, and we will let the project leader describe it in his own words:

Hello! My name is Teddy Edwards and I’m helping to produce an exciting new project with On Spec Magazine. It’s called On Spec Sound Ideas.

Plainly, it’s a podcast comprised of fully dramatized radio-plays of stories On Spec has published in the past. We have a full cast of actors together, standing around a microphone and reciting lines just like the golden age of radio. On Spec has always had a knack for printing excellent character stories that beg to be brought to other media, and sound play/ radio drama/ theater of the mind would be my first choice. Even if I had the budget for a movie or web series. They find a magical line between immersive and engaging, like reading a movie.

Something fairly exciting about this project, (I think,) is that you don’t need to be a subscriber or a Patreon supporter to enjoy it! It is a free piece of On Spec that can be downloaded and enjoyed by anybody. We only ask that if you enjoy it, to share it with someone else you think might enjoy it.

The first episode is based on “Space Monkeys”, a story  by Ryan M. Williams, and looks to be finished up around mid to late March. This fine story is part of our Teacher Toolkit, and will be freely available for middle and secondary school educators to access and use with their classes.

I’m very excited about this, and I hope you are too!


(The cast of “Space Monkeys” hard at work in the studio. From left to right: Josie Cole, Griffin Cork and Lindsay Christopher)

Sound Ideas cast at work

RIP Kate Wilhelm

News has reached us of the death of Hugo  and Nebula Award-winning author, Kate Wilhelm on March 8, 2018. Our condolences go out to her friends and family.

She leaves behind a remarkable body of work, as well as many colleagues in the SF&F family who benefited from her teaching and mentorship over the years.  Kate was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame (2003) for her lifetime contribution to the genre. She will be missed.

We get submission queries

We were recently asked about our 6,000 word limit for stories. Yes, we have published longer stories over the years, but those were few and far between. Because we are limited to a certain number of print pages over the course of the year, we had to make an arbitrary decision concerning a story length cut-off. It also affects our pay rates, since we don’t pay per/word the way some magazines do.

That doesn’t mean we have closed the door on novellas, for example. After all, it’s our party and we can do what we want to. We’ll just be very selective.

And in the meantime, if you have a story that falls in the “about 6,000 words” category, please give it a long and hard look before you hit that submit button. If your first 3-5 pages is bogged down with back-story, for example, chances are good that the first reader won’t even make it to the end. Your job as a writer, first and foremost is to maintain the reader’s interest.

Make every word count!

On Spec Announces our Journey Prize Nomination

We’re pleased to announce our nomination for the annual Journey Prize for a short story published in 2017 .  “In the Shadow of a Broken Man” by Suzanne Church appeared in Volume 28 No. 1. Suzanne is an accomplished writer, and this story was her second appearance in On Spec.

The Journey Prize (officially called The Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize) is a Canadian literary award, presented annually by McClelland and Stewart and the Writers’ Trust of Canada for the best short story published by an emerging writer in a Canadian literary magazine.

Fiction submission window opening soon


We will be open to new submissions of short fiction as of 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.

So, on March 1,  authors will be offered a Fiction link to our Submittable page, along with the ongoing links for Poetry and Art.  Just follow the instructions to register and upload your story.