Some of our readers may know that the On Spec crew are all volunteers who do their On Spec tasks from their home computers. We don’t have an office to go to, and so this time of self-isolation does not have as big an effect on the daily activities of On Spec as it would for the larger magazines. For us, it’s business as usual, more or less. And right now we have an ever-increasing list of fiction and poetry submissions to read, as they come in thick and fast to make sure they beat our March 31 deadline. As of this writing, we’re up to 335 submissions. Approximately 5% of those will eventually find their way to On Spec pages.

In my day job, I’m employed by a large national company with an office in downtown Edmonton. The company closed all the offices and so all employees have been working from home since last week. My team is quickly learning about online meeting apps, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Zoom is pretty impressive, especially the breakout groups function. And you can select a different background image so that your co-workers see a lovely tropical beach instead of your messy kitchen counter. I have a feeling that it will be the way we stay connected for quite some time to come. Oh, did I mention how much fun it is to see co-workers’ kids and pets in the picture! In our casual Friday get together yesterday, it was charming to have one colleague’s toddler say “hi” to another colleague’s twins. Sadly, my weekly community choir practices have been suspended for now. Since many of us in choir are seniors, this is best for our protection.

I should mention now that if you are a parent with middle school aged children at home, and you need as many educational tools as you can get your hands on, go to our Teachers and Librarians page on the On Spec website, and download the free teaching toolkit for “Space Monkeys”, story that was published in On Spec several years ago. And spread the word to any friends you think this would help.

If you are a writer and have a question specific to the writing craft, you can always us the “Contact us” link to pose a question to the On Spec editors. We’d like to start a new FAQ feature on the website, because your question is probably the same question that many other emerging writers have been seeking an answer to.

Anyhow, we are all learning to cope with this situation, and all those disaster books and movies are taking on a whole new meaning. Take the warnings seriously, and change your behaviour. A friend of mine said she gave the “Live long and prosper” Vulcan salute to a gas station attendant the other day, and he responded in kind.

So stay safe and keep your families and friends safe as well.

Live long and prosper. And by the way, SING!