Hallowed Be Thy Gun…

4 May

A little over three years ago, Atlantean Publishing released a booklet of Gary Beck’s Hallowed Be Thy Gun, a poem charting the history of the USA through its wars. If you haven’t read it, you will delighted to learn that you can now download a PDF scan of the booklet (it is at the very bottom of the page).

Also available for download, besides many issues of Awen and The Supplement, are two Garbaj Presents… pamphlets and two prose ebooks (one of which is an ebook exclusive, not available in print). And, they’re all free!

So, what are you waiting for? Get reading!

Another new View!

18 Apr

Hot on the heels of the Cosmic Horrors issue of View From Atlantis, here comes the Cosmic Joke issue, with an irreverent look at the bleak horror that is the universe. Things aren’t any better, but at least we can laugh at it!

A new call for submissions is about to open (and, if you happen to be reading this at some future date when issue 26 is but a back issue, don’t worry, there is a call for submissions and a new issue of View From Atlantis approximately every month, so just hop over to the guidelines and see what we’re seeking now!).

A new View and a new project

13 Apr

View From Atlantis

Cosmic Horrors is the theme of the 24th issue, online now.

A companion issue, Cosmic Joke, will be added later in the month.

5-7-5 Haiku Journal

This is a new webzine dedicated to haiku in the ‘classic’ 5-7-5 format. It will also be taking haibun, haiku sequences, and tanka. The site is still ‘rough-and-ready’ with just the guidelines up, but that will be changing once it is ready to launch with content. Submissions are welcome now. Visit the site for more details.

Publisher News

12 Apr

Genre: Urban Arts

Site: GenreUrbanArts.com

Submit: https://genreurbanarts.submittable.com/submit

About us: https://genreurbanarts.com/mission

Shop: https://genreurbanarts.com/store

Genre: Urban Arts (GUA) Is A Platform Where Artists Can Become Published Digitally & In Print. We Also Provide Exhibiting & Performing Opportunities For Visual & Performance Artists Via Pop-Up Galleries Across The US. @GenreUrbanArts #GenreUrbanArts

Writer Beware!

8 Apr

Writer Beware is an excellent site with information on how writers can avoid getting scammed and news of the latest problematic publishers and rip-offs. If you’re a writer and you aren’t already reading it, it’s well worth a look – in particular, the pages on publishing contracts and copyright of edits.

Nothing for Nothing

4 Apr

When it comes to having your writing published, you shouldn’t settle for giving your hard work away for nothing.

But, what counts as something is for you to decide.

Some writers won’t settle for anything less than cash, and preferably pro rates. Others might be happy with a complimentary copy of the issue or anthology in which their work appears. There might be other forms of compensation you find acceptable (for example, ‘exposure’ – that’s the, ahem, polite term for condescending to publish your work and not actually giving you anything in return –  might actually be fine when you’ve written an article about a charity that will give them some visibility or if publication is in a prestigious journal that grants bragging rights or academic kudos, as might be the case in certain niche subjects).

Where you have free access to a publication – such as blog guest posts, public webzines and ezines that are free to download – I would count that as the equivalent of a contributor copy. (Some would disagree, but you do get a copy of the product.) Indeed, as you can point friends, relatives and fans to the appropriate site and there is potential for your work to reach large numbers of readers, it’s better, in some ways, compared to receiving a single contributor copy to take space up on your shelf.

Of course, you do need to decide how valuable your work is and how much compensation it deserves. Expending the first rights of a piece of work that took a lot of time and effot to create on a free-to-view website that doesn’t pay is a bad idea – at the very least, shop it around some paying publishers first. On the other hand, having a previously-published poem appear online gives it a new lease of life. This is why I’ve always welcomed reprints for Atlantean publications – not only don’t I agree with the idea that once something is published it can never appear again, I accept that a small press that only provides a complimentary copy shouldn’t be greedily demanding unpublished work.

For a beginner writer, it is often the case that the morale boost of being published, the potential for feedback (whether from the editor or readers), and the chance to list a title in your bio make it worthwhile to submit to small press publishers or have your work appear in webzines. If you are more established, such things are less valuable and you likely will want your work to appear in paying markets.

Not that non-monetary compensation should be ignored. Appearing in a webzine can still be useful to an established writer if their bio can include a link to their site or to the Amazon page of their latest book. Likewise, I’ve always been amenable to including links and adverts in Atlantean publications alongside an author’s work. You just need to decide if what you’re getting in return is worth what you’re giving up. (This also goes for publishing work on your own site, blogging, and even self-publishing – could you get paid to have it published? Or, are you creating visibility for your ‘brand’? Or, do you have the potential to make money yourself from it?)

Should you choose the self-publishing route, remember that, while there are legitimate companies that do the hard work of putting your book together, sourcing artwork and the like, there are a lot of scams and you need to be certain you are getting real value for money, especially as you can source services such as editing and artwork directly. And, remember: self-publishing companies are honest about what they do and you hire them to provide a service. Such companies don’t pick and choose clients (except, perhaps, at the most basic level of turning away genuinely-unpublishable work). If a company acts like a regular publisher, assessing your work, but then charges you for publication, it’s a vanity press and, not only is likely to cost far more than paying for legitimate self-publishing services, it is likely to be of a far lower standard. Avoid them.

Ultimately, the decision will always be yours. Just never give your work away for absolutely nothing. And, never ever pay someone for the privilege of being published.

Coverley (Re)Watches…

29 Mar

Lust for a Vampire

1971, Hammer Film Productions, 95 mins


Harris Coverley: Re-watching this film in the past week I had detailed recollections of watching it when I was eight (I swear have not seen it since). I remember clearly the screaming maid in the carriage, the blood pouring ritual, the bulging breasts, the pathetic pleading of Ralph Bates, the cross-eyed carnal pleasures of Yutte Stensgaard lying on her back…to my eyes it was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen, and was one of the first actual horror films I ever experienced. They always had good (and dirty) stuff on Channel Five at the end of the nineties…

But how do I feel about it now?

The core essence of the film, that is, its heart, can be separated into two elements:

1.      Its rich gothic atmosphere, which is near-immaculately achieved to an almost hyperreal status. You could depict the film as a Hammer self-parody, but even if it was that it becomes through its visual successes a work of what we might term noble art (sort of like how Don Quixote parodied the medieval epic, yet in the process Cervantes ended up creating the modern novel).

2.      To borrow the term from those two pompous actors in Blackadder the Third, the vastness of the bosom, which I will defend, also like those two actors, as “artistically justified”.

I cannot stress enough the fact that Stensgaard (all three of her) is the true star of the film. At various points there are drawings and engravings of her character which emphasise a trifecta of her central features: her pretty face, and her, erm, twins. She is frankly a beautiful woman, and I make no apology for saying that. That the film is called LUST for a Vampire, and not Fancying a Vampire, or Having Strong Feelings for a Vampire, is down to her and her alone (although there are a plethora of attractive females on display). It does also help that, even though this was her second-to-last ever film, Stensgaard is a good actress who knows what’s she’s doing on screen.

These are simply the best components, and it is a shame that it otherwise has so many problems which dent its aesthetic and sensual achievements.

Let’s start with the plot, or rather, what we can attempt to identify as the plot. We begin with the evil Karnstein family of vampires in Styria in the 1830s Austrian Empire, following on from the first film in a loose trilogy, The Vampire Lovers (which I have never watched—not that I think it matters for context), who resurrect their daughter Carmilla in the form of Mircalla (Stensgaard), a blonde Teutonic temptress who wears anything as long as it leaves almost nothing to the imagination in terms of frontal assets (and whom always sees fit to stand in front of the low-angled camera).

This undead slut is sent to study at a finishing school which has conveniently opened up right outside the Karnstein’s hilltop lair. This is in order to…something. It could be argued her family send her there to feed and grow after her long sleep, but given that almost immediately she can hypnotise and kill anybody who comes her way this does not seem likely. It is possible that she was sent there for a real contemporary education—her lack of knowledge of the times since her original death is lamented constantly by her teachers (when they’re not trying to get their hands down her dress front that is).

At the same time, Richard LeStrange, a passing Anglo-Irish author of gothic novels (why, how about that?), played by Michael Johnson (a TV actor with almost no film credits, although he holds his own very well), tricks the idiotic schoolma’am (and her stupidity will get worse, believe me) in charge into letting him teach literature there because, well, he’s horny. Very horny. He’s also a drunk, which impairs his judgement constantly.

Mircalla begins to seduce and suck (blood) her way through both the locals and the student body, and when one girl disappears after being sucked dry and dropped down a well, the school mistress decides to…do nothing. Like I said, stupid.

In fact most of the characters are actually pretty stupid in spite of most of the actors doing a decent job. LeStrange allows himself to be seduced by Mircalla merely by the sight of her, and does not consider this weird, even though he is supposed to be familiar with all the classic gothic and romantic tropes. The history teacher Giles Barton (Bates), an avid scholar of vampire lore who declares his unconditional loyalty to Mircalla, ends up getting drained without even getting any action (I recall even at eight that I felt sorry for him and his smashed hopes—now I just think he was a fool). The schoolmistress is led to wherever necessary by Mircalla’s scheming aunt the Countess Herritzen (Barbara Jefford), even after the police get involved with the disappearances and mysterious deaths (which is somehow “solved” when the police inspector is dropped down the same well as the girl, and is never mentioned again).

The only non-undead person it seems with half a brain is the aerobics instructor Janet Playfair (played by the lush Suzanna Leigh, who was actually only a year older than Stensgaard), who endeavours to tell the authorities what is going on, but even she is caught in a hypnotic trap by Mircalla, and is only saved by the sight of her cross necklace (I remember at eight hoping against hope for a more unsheathed encounter between the two—alas, Hammer could most likely not afford Leigh’s nudity bonus).

The irony of these narrative weaknesses is that the film is directed but not written by Jimmy Sangster, most famous for penning many of Hammer’s Frankenstein and Dracula instalments, and in doing so, getting the Hammer name off the ground and into the pop culture zeitgeist—as such, a hero to weird fictionists like myself. It was instead scripted by Tudor Gates, who other than a contribution to the script for Barbarella, made little else of note. His script draws on the characters created by J. Sheridan Le Fanu in his novella Carmilla, but none of Le Fanu’s original genius remains here.

Sangster’s direction is what saves the film for the most part, but the constant use of day-for-night shots, with midnight spookiness presided over by a blaring sun (reminding me of my holiday in Iceland) coming close to ruining the ambience.

The love scene in the graveyard between LeStrange and Mircalla is notable to have playing in the background what must be one of the worst songs ever recorded. “Strange Love”, sung by the mononym Tracy (who released three singles around 1970 and was never heard from again) has a total lack of melody, an arrangement that seems decided at random, lyrics written by a thesaurus (and a bad one at that), and the singer herself is clearly stoned or bored (maybe both).

But…in spite of all that, the film has its cultural merits. Besides its fruitful (and fruity) gothic romanticism, that the feature, made in the least politically correct era imaginable, is unabashedly queer deserves attention. Yes, Mircalla is depicted as a predator, but the sexual desires of the other girls are by-and-large shown as emanating from a natural and innocent curiosity. It is also, if you had not already guessed, unashamedly erotic, and its sensuality, in spite of its other failures, is true and effective. For example, the aforementioned love scene may be the first time that cunnilingus was depicted in a mainstream British film (not graphically of course, but you know what’s going on if you’re not eight years old and you believe that it’s a vigorous kissing of the navel region).

Bates called Lust for a Vampire “one of the worst films ever made”, and even Hammer’s official history, The Hammer Story, condemned it as a “cynical and depressing exercise”, but I cannot agree. As a coherent horror film, aiming to tell an interesting tale, it is a small failure—I stopped my recording several times and ended up watching it over the course of several days for lack of an obsessive interest. However, as a work of erotic art it is a minor feat—the vastness of the bosom is most justified, and most straight men and, lest we forget, queer women, will agree.

The Supplement 96 is here!

28 Mar

It’s been a long time in coming, due to circumstances beyond my control, but we have a new issue of The Supplement on the site for you to download! Submissions are required for future issues, so if you have an opinion you want to share, an article or review, or some news, get in touch.

A Tentative Reopening

3 Mar

Atlantean Publishing is once more open to submissions.

What We Want

Submissions are open for Awen, Bard, Monomyth, and The Supplement. You can find more information by reading the guidelines, but please note the following:

  • Shorter poems suitable for Bard are especially needed.
  • If submitting to Monomyth, please send stories between about 2000 and 4000 words – we have a lot of longer stories in the inbox, of which we can probably only include one or maybe two in an issue, so please do not add to the glut!

The only non-magazine open calls currently planned for this year will be Hallowe’en horror poetry, the Dark Tower series, and the broadsides (The Bards, Xmas Bards, Xothic Sathlattae, Yellow Leaves). All other themed calls are currently closed. Old themes may reopen and new ones will be announced at some point.

We are not currently open to solo-author/solo-poet booklet submissions (there are some in the backlog and no immediate slots, so it may be a while.) Please do not send any mss.

Art (especially pieces suitable for Bard covers) is sought, but is best submitted via post at the moment.

Submissions to View From Atlantis are unaffected and you may submit during submission periods as usual.


Although the press is open again, a computer crash last month means things are moving slowly at the moment. (I know which email submissions have, so far, been accepted for Awen, but will have to collate email acceptances for Bard and The Supplement by trawling through emails. If you have had a piece accepted for Bard or The Supplement that was submitted by email and hasn’t yet been published or sent a letter of comment that hasn’t, please feel free to get in touch as it would help speed the process up a little. If you submitted by post, you’re not affected.)

Awen 111 is here!

20 Feb

The new issue of Awen is available to download. It features prose from Bruce-Grove and poetry from Seth Allcorn, Bruce-Grove, Marc Carver, Andrew Darlington, DS Davidson, Diane R. Duff, Arthur C. Ford, Sr., Mark Hudson, Colin Ian Jeffery, Donna McCabe, Paul Murphy, SchiZ, Howard F. Stein, and DJ Tyrer.