Awen is 100 issues young!

20 May

Yes, it’s true – Awen has reached its hundredth issue! You can download a pdf copy for free from the issues page, along with several earlier issues.

This issue includes:

Fiction by SchiZ, DJ Tyrer, Jenn Weiss, and Lee Clark Zumpe,

Poetry by Nick Armbrister, H.G. Carter, Marc Carver, Aeronwy Dafies, DS Davidson, Emma Doughty,  Diane R. Duff, Walter Durk, Rik Hunik, Keith Murdoch, Paul Murphy, Gordon Scapens, SchiZ, Megan Sherman, and Neil Wilgus.

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Call for submissions

24 Apr

Editor Jon Harvey at Spectre Press is looking for submissions for two new anthologies…

The Realm of British Folklore

(Probably, this will not be the final title)

Tree entity

I am looking for stories and poems for a new anthology that involves British Folklore.

The stories may be short or long, even as long as a novelette. The stories or poems can be of horror, humour or psychological. But, I don’t want any twee stories.

I will pay one penny Sterling per word, with a minimum payment of £10 Sterling for poems and very, very short stories. For illustrations, I will pay £30 for ‘header’ illustrations to a story, £100 for full page illustrations and £200 for the cover illustration. All rights are reserved by the author and the artist. If your story, etc. has been published elsewhere, please let me know where and when the work was published.

I would like to have all the material in by Halloween this year as I would like to have enough to keep me busy over Christmas. The anthology, hopefully, will be ready for release by February/March 2019.

Contact me by email (jon.harvey@talktalk.net or spectrepress01@gmail.com) or by post to Jon Harvey, 56 Mickle Hill, Sandhurst, Berkshire, GU47 8QU, UK.

The following is a list of festivals, people and creatures of British folklore that I can think of. There are likely to be numerous others that either I don’t know or have forgotten about:

There are festivals like Beltane (the Gaelic May Day festival), Samhain (the Gaelic celebration of end of the harvest) normally held on the night of the 31st October and there are other festivals held in Wales, Scotland and Ireland, such as Lughnasadh, which is similar to Samhain.

There are folk such as the ‘The Green Man’, ‘John Barleycorn’, ‘Wayland Smith’ and ‘Herne the Hunter’. There’s the ‘Wild Hunt’ or the ‘Eternal Huntsmen’. And don’t forget the ‘Wicker Man’.

As for creatures, there are Dryads, Hamadryads, Nayads (although the latter two are creatures of Greek mythology), Selkies, Faeries, Elves and Pixies.

Fairyland is supposed to be a special place, full of wonders. However, time there runs much slower than time in the real world. One minute in fairyland could mean a decade or so in the real world. If a traveller enters the land of fairies and then come back, centuries may have passed. Once they step back into the real world they will die and their bodies will crumble into dust.

Pixies and faeries have numerous names in various parts off Britain:

The Welsh Tylwyth Teg form the collection of types of pixies: Ellyllon (elves), the Bwbachod (household spirits similar to brownies and hobgoblins), the Coblynau (spirits of the mines), the Gwtagedd Annwn (lake maidens) and the Gwylion (mountain spirits resembling hags)

Cornwall has piskies, pizkie or pigsies and the Knockers (like the Welsh Coblynau, spirits of the mines).

Scotland have the Aos Si which are supposed to inhabit ancient sites.

By the way, I have heard the Coblynau/Knockers myself in the coal mines of South Wales.

The Children of Clark Ashton Smith

(Probably, this will not be the final title)

CAS illo

Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Garden of Adompha” illustrated by Virgil Finlay

Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) is my favourite fantasy author. I’ve had the pleasure of publishing several stories in the vein of CAS’s works. I’m very  interested in publishing an anthology of stories, poems and prose poems in CAS’s vein. Whether the stories are based in Averoigne, Hyperboria, Poseidonis, Zothique or anywhere else, as long as it fits CAS’s mode of storytelling, I’ll be more than interested. If your story, etc. has been published elsewhere, please let me know where and when the work was published.

I will pay one penny Sterling per word, with a minimum payment of £10 Sterling for poems and very, very short stories and prose poems. For illustrations, I will pay £30 for ‘header’ illustrations to a story, £100 for full page illustrations and £200 for the cover illustration. All rights are reserved by the author or artist.

I would like to have all the material in by January 31st, 2019 so I can publish the anthology by June 2019.

Contact me by email (jon.harvey@talktalk.net or spectrepress01@gmail.com) or by post to Jon Harvey, 56 Mickle Hill, Sandhurst, Berkshire, GU47 8QU, UK.

The Best Witch?

20 Apr

We’ve had two series of The Worst Witch from the BBC. When the first episode aired, I wasn’t entirely satisfied but hopeful, and opined it was its target audience whose satisfaction mattered most. Well, they clearly were satisfied, as it returned for a second series and I must admit that it has really grown on me with subsequent episodes, with Mildred transforming into a perfect rendition of the character.

It hasn’t displaced the ITV series in my affections, but as a fan of that series, I find it different but equally good and it was sufficiently distinct that I didn’t spend all my time comparing the two, but became immersed in the unfolding story. Although the main characters from the books and the key elements of the series – Agatha Cackle’s plotting to seize the academy, Rowan-Webb, the arrival of Enid Nightshade, the rivalry between Ethel and Mildred – are all there, the series managed to avoid rehashing the events of the older series, forging its own path (such as with Esme Hallow’s story arc and the events surrounding the Foundation Stone) and avoiding direct comparisons between the two. (Perhaps that was why Miss Hardbroom’s first name changed from Constance to Hecate?)

Once I became used to Bella Ramsay as Mildred Hubble, recognisably-Mildred yet distinct from the portrayal of Georgina Sherrington, there really was nothing about the series to irk me and much (such as the consistently-excellent Ethel Hallow and her sister Esmeralda, and the wonderful Enid*) that impressed me.

(*It’s interesting that Enid, as portrayed in both the ITV and BBC series, is nothing like her appearance in the books by Jill Murphy, yet manages to perfectly catch her character, leading to a stand-out portrayal both times.)

I’m currently working my way through the ITV series, and its Weirdsister and New Worst Witch sequels, but I will be buying the BBC series on DVD to watch again from beginning to end once series two is released. (See here and here for the series on Amazon.co.uk.) The two will sit happily side-by-side on their shelf.

This series will please everyone with an interest in The Worst Witch in any of its previous incarnations and the magical school genre generally, and is a perfect series for children, being good escapist fun for fantasy fans of all ages.

In Need of a Supplement

30 Mar

You may have noticed that the March issue of The Supplement hasn’t appeared on this site or through the post. Unfortunately, due to real life pretty much derailing all my plans for March, I didn’t have the time to work on producing any reviews or to type up any of the snail mail submissions (not that I have many). With only a couple of electronic submissions on file, I didn’t have enough to put together even a decent lightweight issue.

If things work out, the issue should appear in April rather than being skipped altogether, but this leads me to a big problem with the next issue – unless I get some submissions soon, I will be providing most of the content myself, and that depends upon my having the time to work on it.

I’m really hoping you will be inspired to send me articles and reviews for forthcoming issues, but, if not, it’s likely that The Supplement will fold at the end of this year with any of my reviews to come being posted on here. So, if you don’t want that to happen, I really need you to submit. Thank you.

Just Do It!

28 Feb

If there is one piece of advice I give to wannabe writers again and again, it’s “Write it and submit it.” If you don’t do it, you might never know failure, but you’ll certainly never know success.

I’ve known many excellent writers who have come nowhere near the success they deserve and the one thing they all have in common is that they either don’t write much or they do, but refuse to submit it. Of course, some of them have good reasons for not doing so – they may be busy with their family commitments or pursuing a career they love, or have other artistic talents that take precedence – but most fail to reach their potential because they just don’t believe in themselves. Perhaps, they worry about the quality of their writing and, so, just don’t put pen to paper. Or, they continually revise it, seeking elusive perfection rather than actually submitting it. Or, they produce reams of work, but, fearing rejection, put it to one side and write something else that nobody will ever read. Then, there are those who are too caught up in every day minutiae, the need to earn a crust, who put off writing till for a tomorrow that never comes.

This is the reason so much rubbish gets published commercially. Professional publishers need reliable writers who can produce to deadlines more than they need good writers. If only those excellent writers would actually write and submit, they would be successes. Instead, the mediocre writers succeed unopposed.

Hence my exhortation. Write your story, poem or article – and, then, submit it. It may be rejected. In fact, it probably will be rejected – even the best novels were usual rejected several times before being accepted for publication, and even well-established writers will sometimes have work rejected. That is a hazard of being a writer – but, if you can understand it has little to do with the quality of your writing (whilst paying attention to any feedback you receive), you will be well on your way to success. Those who submit lots of work and resubmit rejected work stand a much higher chance of acceptance than those who write little and allow rejection to stifle their work’s chances.

If you have written something, you have achieved more than many potentially-great writers. If you submit it, you’ve made the first step towards publication. Keep at it, don’t be scared, and success is likely to come your way. Give up, and you’re guaranteed to fail…

Redundant Advice

29 Jan

There are many, many sites out there offering suggestions on improving your writing style. Most advice, if not applied slavishly, is well worth considering. Not every piece will apply to everything you write, but you will become more aware of what you are writing and why, helping you to improve.

As an example of why you shouldn’t just apply an idea without fully understanding it and when not to use it, I will take as my example eliminating redundancies in language. You are most likely aware of such things as ATM Machine (that is, Automatic Teller Machine Machine), but not all apparently-redundant words are actually redundant.

To consider just a couple of examples I found one site listing hundreds of redundant words they recommended writers should edit out, take ‘circle around’ and ‘climb up’. The site that suggests reducing ‘circle around’ to just ‘circle’, but this raises an immediate issue for me – the former implies 180 degrees (in the sense of getting behind someone), while the latter means 360 degrees. Of course, a sentence such as “circle around behind them”, could be changed to “circle behind them” and still make sense as it retains sufficient context. But,other sentences could be rendered gibberish or end up changing what you meant to say into something quite different.

It’s a similar problem with cutting ‘climb up’ to ‘climb’ – you can also climb down (as well as in, out and along), so it really depends upon whether the option is solely one way or not. Again, just assuming a word is a redundancy can lead to confusion.

In addition, a policy of redundancies also ignores the flow of the sentence. Sometimes a redundant word is present because it makes the sentence flow better. These can be removed without damaging context, but, sometimes, you may be left with a sentence that is less pleasing to the ear. (Of course, this can also work the other way – too many redundant words can make your writing clunky. Ultimately, you need to read aloud each variation and hear how they sound, not rely upon rules.)

So, consider the advice, but make sure you are applying it properly and you’ll produce better writing.

It’s Christmas…

17 Dec

Well, okay, not quite, but I probably won’t be online then!

As happens every year, Atlantean Publishing has two Christmas releases out – Xmas Bards 7 and Christmas Chillers V.

Xmas Bards 7 – The Happy Snowman

The seventh annual Xmas Bard is a collection of six haiku, a tanka and five other poems (including the titular one) by DJ Tyrer.

Like all our broadsides (The Bards, Xmas Bards, Xothic Sathlattae and Yellow Leaves) it is available for 10p + 50p postage (or a second class stamp) in the UK. The postage covers upto five broadsides at 10p each. If you order five or fewer copies alongside a booklet or magazine, there is no postage charge.

Overseas the cost is 20c + $2 postage for one copy, $3 postage for two or three, $4 for four to seven copies and $5 postage for eight to eleven copies (email atlanteanpublishing@hotmail.com if you want to order more). If you order a single copy alongside a booklet or magazine, there is no postage charge.

Christmas Chillers V

The fifth annual volume of Christmas Chillers contains three spooky festive tales by DS Davidson, DJ Tyrer and Matthew Wilson. As ever it has an evocative cover by Christopher Catt James

  • Whatever Happened to Santa Claus? sees a quest to restore the Christmas magic go terribly wrong.
  • Murders on Christmas Eve gives us just that as a store Santa finally flips.
  • Christmas Morning sees a visit by Santa to a would-be occultist, who discovers the jolly fat man isn’t a man at all.

All volumes of Christmas Chillers can be ordered for £3 (UK) or £6 (overseas) each and the 3-for-2 booklet offer applies.

How to pay

Purchases can be made by stirling cheque (payable to DJ Tyrer) or cash to the editorial address, or via PayPal.

Channel That Festive Spirit

We release a volume of Christmas Chillers every year and welcome submissions of dark or horrific Christmas-themed tales. We don’t mind a little humour, but the overall tone should be dark. Email your submission to us no later than September 2018 and you’ll hear during October if it’s been accepted for inclusion.