All posts by onspecmag

Best Wishes for 2017

As 2016 comes to a close, we at On Spec want to thank our loyal readers and subscribers for their ongoing support. Thanks go out also to the wonderful people who purchased seasonal gift subscriptions for their friends and family members. We are looking forward to new opportunities to bring On Spec to a wider audience in the coming year.

We would like to take this time to remind you that our free Teacher Toolkit is available for download. If you are or if you know a middle-grade English or Language Arts teacher, we offer a complete lesson plan to teach the story “Space Monkeys” by Ryan M. Williams.

From all of us to all of you, our very best wishes of the season! Peace and goodwill to all.

On Spec Open to Fiction Submissions

After a long gap, we are once again ready to read new works of fiction. Between December 15, 2016 and January 31, 2017, you will be able to follow the link on On Spec’s Submissions page, and send us your very best short speculative fiction for consideration.

With the disclaimer that On Spec is volunteer-run, and so nothing happens overnight, we will do our utmost to ensure your work is read with respect and care. If we can make any constructive comments on works that are declined, it means that we see some potential, but just haven’t the resources to work with you to make a story publishable. That’s your job.

Best wishes to you all for a peaceful and happy holiday season, as we celebrate the solstice in our own ways.

Congrats to all the Hugo Winners!

On Spec sends its congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the Hugo Awards. Several of us were at last year’s ceremony, and watched as the voters showed their disapproval of the attempt to hijack the process with a slate of “puppy-approved” nominees. While last year, perhaps “no award” was all we could do in most categories, this year’s winners deserved the prize, and showed that the fans have a much stronger voice than the people who want to destroy the Hugos.


Diversity and excellence in the genre won last night. Congratulations to all.

Another Successful WWC in Calgary

Several of On Spec‘s editors were at the annual When Words Collide festival of genre fiction writers and readers , held at Calgary’s Delta South hotel over the weekend. There was a stunning array of panel discussions, and a host of talented writers, editors and creators. It gave us a chance to reunite with old friends and meet some new ones. And Randy McCharles and his crew of volunteers continue to give us one of the best events in Canada for writers and readers to connect.

During a podcast interview on Sunday, I was (mildly) taken to task for neglecting to push On Spec as much as possible in the area of social media. We always say that we depend on our readers and writers to spread the word about On Spec, but it’s also our responsibility to ensure there are opportunities made to encourage this. Once thing the interviewer (and we’ll post a link when it is available on the web) pointed out was that we seldom really push for new donors to our Patreon campaign. We are grateful for the monthly gifts from our supporters, and currently we receive approximately enough each month to buy a story and a couple of poems. But that support has not grown at all in many months.

In a perfect world, with a combination of subscription and sales and ad revenues, plus Patreon donors, and individual gifts, we’d have enough to sustain On Spec for many years to come, and allow us to make actual plans, rather than constantly scrambling to make ends meet. As shown by past events, we cannot depend on government funding forever.

So with that in mind, I am once again reaching out to people who have shown some interest in On Spec, by subscribing to this list. If you are at all interested in ensuring On Spec‘s continued existence, over and above paying lip service, we’d be ever so grateful if you either subscribed, made a gift of On Spec to your local library or high school, or dropped a dollar or two a month to help us through Patreon. The links are available on our website. You could also make a one time donation by cheque or PayPal.

And do use every opportunity you get to tell people about our magazine. Don’t assume that everyone already knows about us. If you’ve ever had a story, poem or artwork in On Spec, please remember that we’d love to post a photo showing you holding up the issue(s) your work appeared in.

A new issue of On Spec has recently gone to our designer, so once the design, proofing and printing is done, it will be in the hands of our subscribers. We will likely open to new submissions of fiction later in the fall.

Our next appearance will be at the Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo in September, and we also look forward to organizing some Edmonton events for writers and readers in a partnership with the good folks at Variant Edition Comics & Culture during the winter months.



On Spec at VulCon 2016!

We’ve been looking at our schedule and suddenly July is nearly upon us!

What in the world is a person to do with July?  There are the usual festivals with parade and such, family BBQs and camping, and shopping, sightseeing, visiting with friends, going to a museum, and meeting celebrities, artists and the warmest “locals”!

Yes, you could do ALL of those things in one great place–Vulcan, Alberta on July 9-10, 2016.  You could be in one of the most wonderful small towns in Alberta that weekend for VUL-CON–a Star Trek gathering with other sorts of extravaganza things to do and see!

On Spec will be there for the second time. We went last year and had an amazing time.  Small crowds meant we had some super quality time with artists, vendors of all kinds (including the ladies who had so many great knitted items with logos of our favourite superheroes, the local animal shelter, a life sized Spock, and SO much more!

In town there’s the Trekcetera Museum–more than just Trek and the collection is fabulous.  Costumes and memorabilia galore!

Spend some time at the Trek Station information centre and marvel at the solar panelled structure that powers it.

If this sounds like an ad for the town of Vulcan, the Trekcetera museum and the Vul-Con convention, you’re right.

The people are warm, friendly, and have all the best parts of being a small town. We love Vulcan.

On Spec will be there July 9-10, 2016 having a blast!




Farewell to a Real Mensch: R.I.P. David G. Hartwell

News of the tragically accidental death of David G. Hartwell left the SF writing and publishing world reeling with the shock.  I first learned about his accident from a brief post on Facebook on the evening of his fall, and realized that any chance of recovery was slim. Yet we continued to hope. It’s no exaggeration that I had trouble sleeping that night, and equal difficulty concentrating on anything the following day.  Our SF family was sharing in the vigil. Wednesday night, after my weekly community choir practice, I immediately checked my phone’s Facebook app to see the sad news of David’s passing. Even when I’d expected the news, reading the words on the screen made me feel like I’d been hit with a blunt object.

Almost immediately, the tributes to this amazingly intelligent, noble, always charming, kind and generous man began to appear on personal blogs, websites and all manner of social media. Some people had been lifelong friends and professional colleagues, and others may have had just a brief encounter with David when he stopped by to visit their dealer table at a convention, to chat about the genre they both loved.

I knew David casually, and was constantly in awe of the fact that he actually knew who I was. He always showed a professional courtesy to me and my On Spec colleagues as fellow editors, and that meant a great deal.  Some famous folks will only give the time of day to other famous folks. David was not one of those. When he spoke with you, he engaged with you fully, and was happy to be there in the moment, and not looking at his watch to see how quickly he could leave to go see someone more important.

David was, as they say, the genuine article.

Yes, he knew about On Spec.  In fact he became a champion of Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy literature at a time when our little writing and publishing community was just beginning to spread its wings. He read the review copies of On Spec that we sent him, occasionally selected one of our stories for his annual “Honorable Mentions” list in the “Year’s Best” anthology, and above all, he paid attention to what our home-grown writers were saying. And when he edited their work he made sure he brought them to the attention of the rest of the world.

David wasn’t a writer, but he sure made writers look good.

I saw David at last year’s World Science Fiction convention in Spokane, and like the rest of us, assumed there would be many more conventions before he hung up his plaid jacket for the last time.   He will be missed.

Aurora Winner!

We at On Spec are thrilled to have the “Aurora Winner” image on our website for the coming year. At the award ceremony held at Toronto’s SFContario6 on November 22nd, 2015, the prize for Best English Related Work was accepted on our behalf by the Aurora Awards Administrator, Clifford Samuels.

We are also thrilled that artist Dan O’Driscoll won for his cover art with both On Spec and Bundoran Press.

We at On Spec want to thank the loyal readers and supporters who  both nominated and voted for us once again. We will do our best to continue publishing a magazine worthy of your support.

Congratulations to our fellow nominees and to all the winners.

2015 Aurora Award Winners


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 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.