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.

 

 

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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.

In Memoriam: Terry Pratchett

Sir Terry Pratchett, 1948 – 2015

Yesterday the sad news broke about the death of beloved author Terry Pratchett, at age 66. On Spec wishes to extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Pratchett’s friends, family, and colleagues.

Terry Pratchett is perhaps best well-known for his series of Discworld novels, encompassing one of the most unique settings in fantasy literature, with a cast of characters to match. More than that, Mr. Pratchett used his world to turn a critical eye on our own. His work was skilfully rendered satire, drawing our attention to some unfortunate facet of society.

I’ll leave you with my favourite passage from Terry Pratchett’s Men at Arms, by my favourite character, Sam Vimes. Best speed, Mr. Pratchett; I hope you’ve found your Discworld after all.

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.

Locus’ Obituary for Terry Pratchett

Neil Gaiman’s Article, “Terry Pratchett isn’t jolly. He’s angry.”

 

In Memoriam: Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015

Yesterday morning, the world became a little less bright with the passing of beloved actor, director, and artist, Leonard Nimoy. Or, as I and many thought of him (with his encouragement), Honorary Grandpa Leonard.

I speak for the entire On Spec team when I say our hearts and thoughts go out to his friends and family, and we join millions of fans world-wide in sharing this loss.

There are going to be many, many tributes to Leonard Nimoy in the next little while, by people who knew him better and are much more qualified to speak to his impact on the world. And if I’m honest, I’m still processing the loss and can’t really think of what to say myself.

So I will simply say, from everyone here at On Spec: Live long and prosper, Grandpa Leonard. You’ve returned to the stars.

Welcome to new followers

Welcome to those of you who have chosen to subscribe to our blog! Your interest is appreciated.

Our new issue has just been printed and is in the mail to subscribers. The digital version will also soon be available. We look forward to your feedback.

We’d also like to know what you’d like to see on our website to enhance your experience. Send us an email or use Facebook for your comments to I Read On Spec.

Also, the Patreon campaign continues, and we will need your support to get through the coming year. Every dollar counts toward the goal of sustaining On Spec.

Regards,
Diane

Message to Writers

This is an update to our most recent fiction submission period. Some of you have been asking (and rightly so) about the status of your stories. While you can log in to Submittable and see the latest information, including editor comments on declined stories, you were promised a response by the end of November.
In a perfect world, that would be so. We accepted submissions of stories for our regular issues as well as for the upcoming theme issue of “punk” stories. With the few resources we have, we chose to concentrate on the punk submissions first, and so those ones have been selected. We will now move on to read the submissions in the other batch of manuscripts we received.
Each story can take 20 minutes to half an hour of an editor’s time, just for the first reading. And we have approximately 200 stories to read. That’s a lot of person-hours. So we appreciate your patience as we move through this long process.
Thanks,
The Editors

Best Wishes for 2015!

As 2014 comes to an end, it is time to reflect on the highs and lows of the past year, and to look ahead to a fresh year, with so many possibilities. I’m pleased to report that we have achieved some form of financial stability in spite of the drastic cut to our 2015 grant funding, and we are grateful to those sustaining patrons who sent us money, and to those who continue to donate. With careful management, we can get through the coming year. And remember how easy it is to donate through Patreon and show your support.

We want to continue to bring our readers even more challenging and interesting fiction, art and poetry, and to show the world that Canadian writers thrive. Speaking of the world, please support us by subscribing to the digital version of On Spec, and do let your friends and family in countries outside Canada know just how easy it is to be reading On Spec within a few seconds.

In the coming months, we’ll be making further enhancements to the website, and adding new and engaging content. If you are interested in volunteering for On Spec, we hope to have a new database set up, so prospective volunteers can send us their information, and we can put them to good use. We will also be looking at new stories to develop for the On Spec Teacher Toolkit Series. If you know a teacher, let them know about our comprehensive teaching aid for “Space Monkeys”, a story that appeared on the pages of On Spec. Other projects will be announced as the year progresses.

We’ll be at several conventions and book events in the coming months, and as always, we look forward to meeting with our authors, artists and readers. Also be sure to look for our friends and colleagues with Tyche Books, and buy a copy of the On Spec 25 year anthology.

My deepest thanks to all my On Spec family–editors, staff, proofreaders, designers– and to all the creative artists who have placed their work in our hands over the years. I wish you all success and good fortune in the coming year.

Peace

Diane Walton

Managing Editor

The Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic

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