What are we up to right now?
03/19/2014 - 12:48

We are currently preparing for our appearance at Calgary's Comic and Entertainment Expo next month, sharing a space with some awesome publishing partners. If you are there, we'd love to see you at booth 1410-1510 , so drop by and visit. Look for the banner that says THE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY ALLIANCE.

The editors are still valiantly reading through all the story manuscripts that were sent in during our winter submission period. We thank the writers for their patience, and remind them that they can track the status of their submission through the Submittable log-in they received.

On Spec is a proud sponsor of the Pure Speculation Festival in Edmonton (www.purespec.org) , and this year's featured Author Guest is David Gerrold. Weekend tickets will go on sale soon, and you might want to think about a trip to Edmonton in November to see this fellow. He's a legend. David is, by the way, a Guest of Honor at next year's WorldCon in Spokane, and Pure Speculation promises far more opportunities to meet him in person, without having to wait in long lineups. Our Science guest is Discovery Channel's Daniel Riskin, and our special visitor via Skype, will be award-winning author Samuel R. Delany. It is a weekend to plan for.

I am proud of my editorial team, and would like to applaud Barb Galler-Smith and Robin Carson. The two of them created a special Teacher Toolkit that will be made available to teachers in middle and secondary school English classes (free on request). The kit takes a story we published in On Spec a couple of years ago, "Space Monkeys" by Ryan M. Williams, and provides a comprehensive set of lesson plans that any teacher can tailor to fit his or her class needs. Barb and Robin presented their kit at four teachers' conventions in Alberta in February, to very enthusiastic audiences. We are confident that more kits will be created in the coming years, using On Spec stories deemed suitable for the YA reader.

It seems like such a long time ago (when my hair was much shorter), but we like to remind everyone about a very cool promotional video that was made for us in 2012 by Teddy Edwards, then a university student. It shows some of the On Spec editors at work, and gives you some insight into the way we select our stories. Have a look! We'd love to increase the views to this young man's video.



One way to help On Spec
02/26/2014 - 13:48

On Spec is hitting a funding crunch as the publishing grants are getting smaller and smaller each year. Sadly, this is not always matched by an increase in sales revenues, as much as we try to promote On Spec with a shoestring advertising budget. As a reader and subscriber, you are our best resource to get the word out, and here is one way. Next time you are thinking of buying a birthday card or chocolates or a gift for a geeky friend, please consider buying them a gift subscription, or even ordering a single copy of On Spec. It will last longer than a card, have no calories, and can be re-gifted or donated to their local library when they have finished reading all the stories and poems. Great value for the money, and nothing for the landfill!

Now the hard work begins
12/31/2013 - 13:01

We'll be extending our deadline for story submissions a few days, because Submittable has a maximum of 300 items per month, and we appear to have reached that before the end of December. So keep checking for updates. But you only have a limited time.

After that, the editors get to work doing what they do best, reading and culling the slush. This takes time, folks, so be patient with us. If you have submitted, you do know that you can check online for your manuscript's status without having to send us an email query.

While you wait for a reply, if you have never read On Spec (come on, we know you're out there), you may want to think about ensuring our continued existence by actually buying a subscription for yourself and/or a friend. This is the brutal truth. As a Canadian and Alberta arts magazine, we do receive funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Alberta Culture Multi-Media grant program. But the money is not coming from a bottomless well. The grants are getting smaller or possibly even being threatened by forces beyond our control. We can only do more with fewer resources for so long. We're not begging. A subscription to On Spec gives you hours of reading enjoyment. And then you can pass your copy along to someone else.

Remember you can also read On Spec in digital (pdf) form, currently with a Zinio subscription. Soon we will offer more formats for more ereaders.

If you are feeling particularly generous, you can also send us a gift to help with our projects, like the Teacher package, currently about to be launched for Middle School and Secondary English teachers. We can't provide a tax receipt, but we can certainly give our thanks.

Our very best wishes to all for a happy, peaceful, healthy and safe 2014.

The Editors and Staff of On Spec

the spirit of holiday giving
11/24/2013 - 11:12

Once again, it is time to give all our readers a reminder that they are our best source of advertising for On Spec. And On Spec is also a wonderful gift under the tree for the readers in your life. Consider the purchase of a gift subscription for someone (or several someones) on your holiday shopping list, and save yourself some lineups, sore feet, mall crowds, parking woes, "sold out" signs, and all the other inconveniences of actually leaving your home to shop.

And to those of you who already buy a gift subscription for your local library--a huge collective hug from all of us here! Good karma to you!

While you are in the mood, you could also consider buying Canadian magazines for the non-SF readers on your list. Magazines Canada is a great place to look for those. http://www.magazinescanada.ca/consumer

Pure Speculation 2013 Done and Dusted!
11/18/2013 - 22:10

On Spec is proud of our long-time affiliation with Edmonton's Pure Speculation Festival. This year, with author guests Gail Carriger and Art Slade (Art was sponsored by On Spec), along with media guest, the amazingly versatile Liana K, the Festival was a great hit with all the participants and attendees. If you were there, you'd know. If you missed it, then you should try to be there next year with special author and screenwriter guest, David Gerrold, Skype guest Samuel R. Delany, and Media/Science guest, Daniel Riskin.
Edmonton in November, you say? Deal with it! Visit www.purespec.org for news and updates. And remember, the earlier you send in your registration, the easier it is for the organizers to make plans.

Getting Ready for Pure Speculation
10/13/2013 - 19:57

The editors and staff of On Spec are looking forward to Edmonton's annual festival of the Fantastic, Pure Speculation. Weekend passes are still available, and can be purchased here. http://www.purespec.org/Registration.html . A highlight of the weekend will be the Steampunk Ball, and tickets are being sold separately, with a discount for Pure Speculation weekend pass holders. Along with the opportunity to visit and shop in the dealer room, attendees at Pure Spec will be invited to an array of fascinating and informative panel discussions, from Women in Gaming Culture, to Nanotechnology to How to Run a Critique Group. Full details for programming at Pure Speculation, plus guest profiles are available here http://www.purespec.org/Schedule.html .

Young writers can attend a unique workshop with Edmonton artist, Spyder Yardley Jones, run by the YouthWrite Society. See their website for information. http://youthwrite.com/content.php?secondary_id=157&id=642

There is so much packed into one weekend, and you can find out about ongoing Pure Speculation events held throughout the year. Follow the Pure Speculation Festival on Facebook and Twitter.

Visit our booth at Edmonton Comic Expo- Photo Ops with our Dalek are FREE
09/24/2013 - 11:11

On Spec is sharing a booth this weekend at Edmonton's Comic and Entertainment Expo. Find us on the huge map of the vendor area in booth 415.

Also, editors Diane Walton and Barb Galler-Smith will be in two sessions for writers, along with Dave Gross and Andrew Foley.

WRITING 101 Saturday September 28, 2:30 pm in Room 107- Interactive Workshops

...and for you die-hards who can't tear yourselves away, but need a place to sit a spell...

GETTING PUBLISHED Sunday September 29, 4:30 pm in Room 108- Shop Talk

See you there!

New Issue & New Format & New Initiatives
09/17/2013 - 11:58

We hope you enjoy reading our Summer 2013 issue. We encourage your comments on the stories, and on the new look and feel of the magazine. Cat, our designer, has done a splendid job.

Our Teacher Package is coming along well, and will be available for free download in the new year. Editors Robin Carson and Barb Galler-Smith have created a complete learning experience for middle and secondary school students, using an On Spec story (we hope the first of many). Teachers will be able to access lesson plans, class assignments and exercises, supporting links to ideas and themes discussed in the story--a perfect set of lesson plans to help introduce their students to works of the fantastic. They will be making an in-person presentation of the new package at Alberta Teachers' conventions in 2014.

Managing Editor Diane Walton will be attending the annual conference of the Northern Lights Library System, and looks forward to meeting librarians from northern Alberta, and introducing them to On Spec and some of our Canadian SF book publishers, as well as to the Pure Speculation Festival. Diane will also be going to Geek Girl Con in Seattle in October.

Closer to home, you can see us at the Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo and at the Pure Speculation Festival.

Have a wonderful autumn!

A note of appreciation
08/13/2013 - 09:52

The entire On Spec family wishes to thank the members of the Toronto World Fantasy Convention 2012 Board. Their generous gift, presented at this weekend's When Words Collide convention in Calgary, is a powerful endorsement for the contribution On Spec has made, and continues to make, to Canada's literary landscape. We are thrilled by this expression of support.

new venture unveiled
06/11/2013 - 20:50

In my last post, I mentioned a new project for 2014. That project is our partnership with Calgary, Alberta book publisher Tyche Books, to produce a 25th Anniversary issue for On Spec!
Tyche's announcement says it all very well. http://tychebooks.com/?p=1868

We are going to be busy selecting our favourite stories from On Spec's past, and getting in touch with the writers, many of whom have become close friends over the years. It's going to be a great year.