Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Roll Will Roll on Into 2009

Every Day Poets put up their January table of contents. It appears that my haiku "moaning hemlock tree" will be published on January 12th. This means that my publication roll, where I've had at least one poem published every month since April, 2007, will continue into early 2009. (My poem "Wandering Ole Willow" is scheduled for publication on January 26th in Issue 322 of Bewildering Stories, but that schedule is subject to change.)

Right now, I have poems scheduled for publication in January, February, "Spring", and November 2009. Plus, there are a few due out in forthcoming issues, dates unknown at this time. If I can get at least one poem published this coming March and April, my roll will have rolled on for two years!

In some ways, with all my poems in certain "4 the luv" markets, I feel like I'm cheating a bit. I'm beginning to think that I should start shooting more frequently for bigger markets. Of course, that could mean longer wait times as a result, and fewer publications overall. However, it really is just a silly personal goal, nothing more. And if my roll ends soon, I won't shed a tear.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Poems in Bewildering Stories Annual Review

In case you missed them in the quarterly reviews or in the issues they were originally published in, you can find my poems "A Horror Editor's Lament" and "My Alien Love" in Bewildering Stories’ Annual Review, 2008 The Editors’ Choices: issues 273-318. The Annual Review is a summary of the four Quarterly Reviews. Poetry and short poetry can be found in Part II.

"A Horror Editor's Lament" was originally published in issue 278 and appeared in the First Quarterly Review of 2008. "My Alien Love" was originally published in Issue 300 and appeared in the Third Quarterly Review of 2008.

A Look Back: Acceptances for 2008

Previously, I posted about my publications in 2008. Realizing that things published in 2008 don't always reflect things accepted in 2008, I thought I would take a look at my acceptances spreadsheet and see how many works (poetry, art, and articles) were actually accepted in 2008.

Including everything, including reprints, I had 111 works accepted in 2008. This number includes my art as well as my writing; I don't really keep separate records for my illustrations. This also includes my art used in first the Flashing Swords and then in the Abandoned Towers Zazzle stores.

Not bad at all, if I do say so myself. Of course, my own stats in 2008 will probably be hard for me to beat. Shooting for even more in 2009 could be an unrealistic goal.

In my book quality still trumps quantity, and I would rather do work of quality than work in quantity.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Haiku Accepted at Every Day Poets

Today, an acceptance message was awaiting me in my e-mail box. I received word that the editors at Every Day Poets have decided to publish my wintry haiku "moaning hemlock tree". This particular piece happens to be one of my rare forays into mainstream, and was inspired by actual observations of a hemlock tree being blown to-and-fro in a rather bitter wind.

I don't have a date of publication yet. I'll certainly post a link when the haiku is on-line.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Publications For 2008

Since I've seen a few others post about their publications in 2008, I figured I would jump on that particular band wagon as well. Even though I already mentioned numbers in my retrospective entry, I didn't post specifics. And now that I finally broke down and split my "List of Publications" on the Azure Lion Productions web site by year, it's easy enough to post my publications for 2008. So, here goes, Richard H. Fay's 2008 publications (I believe most of my poems, minus a mainstream piece or two, should be eligible for Rhysling nominations, for those of my friends in the SFPA. However, I included my Champagne Shivers 2008 Issue stuff in 2008, even though it was actually published late 2007.):

Short Stories, Flash Fiction, & Drabbles 2008
The Trouble With Unsolicited Messages..........The Drabbler #11, June 2008. Honorable Mention in the 11th Sam's Dot Drabble Contest.

Poetry 2008
stark ebon tower..........Aphelion, December 2008.
Peg Powler..........Bewildering Stories, Issue 316, December 1, 2008.
My Final Masterpiece..........Niteblade, December 2008.
Life is the Life..........The Monsters Next Door, Contest Issue 4.5, November 15, 2008. Poetry Winner, "Through My Eyes" Writing Contest.
They've Come For Me Again..........Aphelion, November 2008.
Autumnal Woodland Morn..........Every Day Poets, November 9, 2008.
Chupa-Chupas..........Hungur, Issue 7, All Souls' Night 2008.
Midnight Encounter on Merais Minor..........Hungur, Issue 7, All Souls' Night 2008.
Consequence of Taking Too Much..........Macabre Cadaver, Issue 3, October 2008.
Sorceress Devolution..........The Lorelei Signal, October-December 2008 Issue.
Three Horrorku..........The Monsters Next Door, Issue Four, September 2008.
Lonely Fairy Rath..........Aphelion, Issue 124, Volume 12, August 2008.
Ethereal Journey..........Bewildering Stories, Issue 301, August 11, 2008.
My Alien Love..........Bewildering Stories, Issue 300, August 4, 2008; also Bewildering Stories' Third Quarterly Review, 2008 Editors’ Choices: issues 297-307.
Gremlins in My Brain..........The Monsters Next Door, Issue 3, July 2008.
What Stirs There..........The Monsters Next Door, Issue 3, July 2008.
Death in the Forest..........The Monsters Next Door, Issue 3, July 2008.
Green Chitinous Domes..........Aphelion, Issue 123, Volume 12, July 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Galactic Road Trip..........Tales of the Talisman, Volume IV, Issue 1, Summer 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
The Faces..........The Ashen Eye, Issue 1, June 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Green Grass..........Aphelion, Issue 122, Volume 12, June 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Corpse-Candles..........Niteblade, June 2008; also Lost Innocence: A Niteblade Anthology 2007-2008.
Artificial Form..........Aphelion, Issue 121, Volume 12, May 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Infiltration..........Bewildering Stories, Issue 288, May 2008; ; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Scifaiku (minute murderer)..........Scifaikuest, Issue 20, May 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Scifaiku (wander the ether)..........Scifaikuest, Issue 20, May 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Demons of the Dark Nebula..........Hungur, Issue 6, Walpurgisnacht 2008.
Kamal Del and the Dark Elemental..........Sorcerous Signals, May - July '08 Issue.
The Phantom Dimension..........The Ashen Eye, April 11, 2008 (on-line promotional article w/ contributor's bio).
The Collector..........DemonMinds, Spring 2008 Issue, April 10, 2008; also DemonMinds Spring 2008 print edition, featuring the best of DemonMinds, Spring 2008.
Bearshirt..........Aphelion, Issue 120, Volume 12, April 2008.
My Haunted House..........Bewildering Stories, Issue 284, April 2008.
The Haunted Isle..........Illumen, Issue 8, Spring 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Scifaiku (rainbow against black)..........Illumen, Issue 8, Spring 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Holiday on Phreetum Prime..........Star*Line, March/April 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Unidentified Funny Object..........Aphelion, Issue 119, Volume 12, March 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Spirit of the Skull..........Night to Dawn, Issue 13, April 2008.
The Birth of Sentience on Aggraboth V..........The Fifth Di..., Edition 10, #1, March 2008.
Your Bloody Face..........Tales from the Moonlit Path, Issue 9, February 2008.
A Horror Editor's Lament or One Heck of a Headache..........Bewildering Stories, Issue 278, February 18, 2008; also Bewildering Stories' First Quarterly Review 2008, Editors' Choices: issues 273-283.
The Dark Host..........Bewildering Stories, Issue 277, February 10, 2008.
Intergalactic Getaway..........Aphelion, February 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
Horrorku (spirit of the night)..........Scifaikuest, Issue 19, February 2008.
Marriage of Earth and Antares..........Sounds of the Night, Issue 2, February 2008.
The Incubus..........Sounds of the Night, Issue 2, February 2008.
Old Mother Elder..........Bewildering Stories, Issue 275, January 2008.
The Changeling..........Bewildering Stories, Issue 274, January 2008.
Things in the Swamp..........Champagne Shivers, 2008 Issue; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers.
The Accursed Castle..........Champagne Shivers, 2008 Issue.

Non-Fiction 2008
Vampiric UFOs..........Hungur, Issue 7, All Souls' Night 2008.
Vampiric Creatures of Ancient Myth and Legend..........Hungur, Issue 6, Walpurgisnacht, 2008.
The Darker Side of Fairy Lore..........Doorways Magazine, Killer Holiday Issue, Issue 4, January 2008.

Illustrations 2008
Unicorn Enwreathed..........Abandoned Towers, Issue 1, November 2008.
The Professor Speaks..........Abandoned Towers, Issue 1, November 2008.
Tom-Tit-Tot (also part of the Fairies and Dragons Series)..........Macabre Cadaver Issue 3, October 2008.
Eldritch Miasma..........on-line version of Abandoned Towers, August 2008.
Viking Sword Series..........Flashing Swords, Issue 11, August 2008.
Fairies and Dragons Series..........Flashing Swords Special Edition, Summer 2008; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers
Viking Age Weapons Series..........Flashing Swords, Issue 10, April 2008.
Ethereal Journey..........Scifaikuest, Issue 20, May 2008; also Macabre Cadaver Issue 3, October 2008; also on-line version of
Abandoned Towers.
Demons of the Dark Nebula..........Hungur, Issue 6, Walpurgisnacht 2008.
Tyler's Ghosts..........Flashing Swords, Issue 9, February 2008.
John Humble Versus Wolf-Head..........Flashing Swords, Volume 2, Issue 8, January 2008.
Things in the Swamp..........Champagne Shivers, 2008 Issue; also on-line version of Abandoned Towers; also Macabre Cadaver Issue 3, October 2008.

Monday, December 22, 2008

sparkling silver strands

sparkling silver strands
sway amidst evergreen boughs
blown by my child's breath

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Happy Holidays everybody!

Friday, December 19, 2008

DNA Tests Confirm, It's Caylee

Most probably suspected it, but now it's official. I just saw the headline stating that DNA tests confirm the remains found near the Anthony home are indeed those of three-year-old Caylee Anthony:

DNA Tests Confirm Remains Are Caylee Anthony

All because her self-centered mother felt that her own flesh-and-blood was cramping her party-hardy lifestyle too much. So, since she couldn't live her life the way she wanted with kid in tow, Casey robbed Caylee of life period. That's my theory, anyway. And the whole bleeding Anthony family are just as guilty as Casey herself. Hear about Casey's brother taking down the memorial shortly after the remains were first found? They all knew what happened, or at least suspected the worst. They should all go to jail!

Dark, disturbing thoughts are going through my mind right now. Let some jailhouse thug exact real justice for poor Caylee's death. Make them all suffer before they die!

I guess a stranger could have been responsible for Caylee's death, but since the mother didn't seem too concerned that her own child was missing, I seriously doubt it. Stories changed too much too often. And then there is the death-smell in the car.

At least prosecutors now have a body, and the family can no longer argue that Caylee is still alive. Poor little thing. I think I'm going to go cry now.

Northern Perks

sweet maple syrup
drizzled over steaming flapjacks
on a chilly spring morn

swimming in a forest stream
shaded by tall basswood trees
on a humid summer day

sweeping hilly vistas
painted bright scarlet and gold
on an autumn afternoon

sweetheart snuggled close
seated before the roaring fire
on a cold winter's eve

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Squirrels: You Are What You Eat

If ever you wanted proof of the old adage "you are what you eat", look no further than our wacked-out suburban rodents, those bushy-tailed rats known as squirrels. Squirrels are nuts!

I've seen squirrels yelling at the top of their little lungs while sitting atop utility poles. I've seen squirrels running madly across utility lines just so they could fall off mid way. I've seen squirrels gone wild after eating a neighbour's foxglove plant (squirrels that later vanished, presumed dead). I've seen drunk squirrels (thanks to fermented apples), drugged squirrels (see above), and just plain dumb squirrels.

Today, I saw a squirrel scampering across the yard. It stopped around the middle of the yard, stood still for a second or two (I could almost see the tiny gears turning), then buried an acorn in the snow! After it completed its work, it sat up for a moment, snow hanging off its chin like a wee Santa's beard. Then it scampered off.

Perhaps it was able to get down to the dirt; after all, we currently have only a thin, spotty cover of snow. Still, when you think about all the nuts they lose, the whole concept of squirrels burying nuts is rather absurd.

I say again, squirrels are nuts!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm a Master Poet...

...or so says the editor of Abandoned Towers in her latest e-mail announcement! Since it's not a private correspondence, but more of a general message of new stuff on Abandoned Towers, I feel it's safe to share what she said about me. The same announcement also appears on the Abandoned Towers blog.

I'm flattered, flabbergasted even, but I don't know if I deserve such an honour. In my heart of hearts, I know I'm far from being a master poet. I am sorely lacking in technical knowledge of poetics; I frequently operate on instinct alone, with mixed results. I would be happy with the title of capable wordsmith.

Very often, for me, the word's the thing.

Article Accepted

The editor of Abandoned Towers has accepted my article "Speculative Poetry: Past, Present, and Future" for publication in the on-line version of her 'zine. Which is good news, considering that she was the one that suggested I write the article in the first place!

Some may disagree with my rather broad definition of speculative poetry, but I don't think squabbles over definitions are overly productive. Using my broad definition as a jumping off point, I try to show how many past literary classics could be considered to fall under the umbrella of speculative poetry. I argue that speculative poetry need not be seen as a lesser art compared to its mainstream kin, that it has a rich past and potentially bright future.

Anyway, you can read all of this in my article. I'll post another entry when I know it's on-line.

Blasted Laryngitis!

I was planning on attending the open mic night last night at the Flavour Cafe and Lounge so I could read more of my poetry. Really, I was. Unfortunately, I have laryngitis. I can still speak, but my voice is dreadfully strained. I could never do my verse justice in this condition. Maybe next time.

Of course, it's my own fault. The other day, I ended up in a screaming fit over a neighbour's rather vulgar screaming fit. Basically, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I've heard more than enough garbage talk coming from next door, and seen some pretty vulgar things as well, like the neighbour's boyfriend/husband/significant other/whatever urinating off the back porch after having one too many beers and a few joints.

I seriously doubt that the neighbour even heard me over Duran Duran's "Wild Boys" cranked up to 34 on my 100 watt stereo system, but I was raging for several minutes. I figured, if they wanted noise, they would get noise alright!

And to top it all off, I think I also have a slight cold.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Rhonda Parrish Day at Beth Wylde's Yahoo Group

Rhonda Parrish, writer, poet, and founder and editor of the fantasy and horror e-zine Niteblade, will be appearing on Beth Wylde's Yahoo Group today (Monday, December 15). She will spend her time chatting about her work as a writer and Niteblade editor, as well as giving away prizes!

And why am I posting an entry about this? Well, as Niteblade Art Blogger and a poet who has had a handful of poems published in Niteblade, I figured I would stop by Beth Wylde's Yahoo Group and join in the chat. Rhonda has already put on her interviewer hat and asked me a bunch of questions about such things as: how long have I been writing, what are some of my own "personal cliches", what poets I admire most, what inspired me to write "My Final Masterpiece" (my latest Niteblade publication), and what pieces are closest to my heart.

This is my first-ever interview, so I'm pretty excited. Okay, sometimes it doesn't take much to get me excited, but I take what excitement I can get!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Stark Ebon Tower" and a Retrospective

My speculative haiku (or "fantasyku" if you fancy that term) "stark ebon tower" has been published in the December 2008 Issue of the web-zine Aphelion. In this particular little poem, I try to contrast the rather intimidating image of an imposing- looking ebon tower (Orthanc?) with the somewhat more pleasant concept of someplace a sorcerer would want to go to get away from it all.

Check it out!

And since this may be my last poetry publication of 2008, I thought I would look back at this year's publications. If I counted right, I had a total of fifty new poems published in 2008. Nineteen of these were published in paying venues, markets that paid at least a token payment of one dollar. I also had twenty-nine reprints published in 2008, including poems in "best of" issues, quarterly reviews, and print anthologies. I received payment for one of these reprints; the rest were non-paying (in other words, payment in exposure only or "4 the luv").

In addition to my poetry publications, I had one drabble, two articles and several illustrations published in 2008. Some of the art publications were series of illustrations used in single articles, so the exact number of individual works published is actually greater than the ten or so illustration entries on my list of publications. Plus, some of my art has been used in the Abandoned Towers Zazzle store. I received payment for most if not all the new illustration publications, but no payment for the reprints.

Why go into all of this? I don't know; I was just curious. Does it really matter in the greater scheme of things? Perhaps not, but I just wanted to prove to myself and others that about a third of my previously unpublished poems were published in venues paying at least a token payment. In no way do I restrict myself to "4 the luv" markets only.

Will I ever see numbers like this again? Probably not; I am now starting to work on longer projects, ones that will take time away from time spent composing poetry for 'zine submission. Last year at this same time I probably had thirty to forty poems in my submission pool; today I have about three or four. So my wild ride will probably come to an end soon as I slow down and work on other things.

And when I started seriously submitting speculative or genre poems back in April 2007, I thought I would be happy with four or five publications a year. I never dreamed I would have ten times that number! And submitting illustrations for publication wasn't even part of my original plan; it just seemed to happen, thanks in part to encouragement from a few of my editor friends.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Poem Accepted at Bewildering Stories

After a bit of a revision, my poem "Wandering Ole Willow" has been accepted for publication at the e-zine Bewildering Stories. It is tentatively scheduled to appear in issue 323, but might go on-line earlier than that.

This particular poem was inspired by the folklore suggesting that willow trees could uproot themselves and walk about at night, muttering and stalking unwary travellers. This same folk belief probably inspired Tolkien's "Old Man Willow".

For those of you may be wondering about the wisdom of submitting to a "4 the luv" market, let me just say that the Bewildering Stories managing editor's suggestion that I revise and expand the original submission actually did help me turn the piece into a much better poem. I might not have thought about expanding and deepening the piece without that nudge in the right direction.

Sometimes I still need that friendly nudge to get all I can out of my work. And I do appreciate when certain editors take the time to give me that extra push. You don't find that at every venue.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Parley of Elf and Troll

Here is a flight of fancy that has been sitting neglected on my hard-drive for over a year now. I had submitted this poem, unsuccessfully, to a handful of markets, and then forgot about it. Something told me to dig it out, give it a brand-new polish, and post it to my journal. The piece might seem quite whimsical, but I think there is a profound message buried under the whimsy. Then again, maybe I'm just reading too much into my own poetry!

The Parley of Elf and Troll

During an uneasy parley
Following the briefest of lulls
In their constant fighting,
Elf and troll meet
Atop a speckled toadstool
'Neath the gnarled oak tree.

Instead of reaching an agreement
To heal past grievances,
The two argue and cuss
Over who should be cross at whom.
Each blames the other
For such bitterness and strife.
Elf calls troll ugly and sour;
Troll calls elf cutesy and trite.
They insult each other's mothers,
Divergent tastes in fashion,
And even inherent talents,
Or lack thereof.

The troubled truce finally shatters
When harsh words lead to hard blows.
Troll clobbers elf,
But the coming dawn
Turns troll to stone.
Elf slinks down
Into the shadows
With the rest of his twilight kin.

Fueled by misunderstanding,
Their endless fray goes on.
Nothing seems to stop
That infernal
Eternal war.

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Monday, December 8, 2008

Justify Your Magic?

I've seen several discussions about fantasy writers needing to explain their system of magic, justifying why certain characters can wield magic and how that magic works. A current discussion on a Live Journal friend's journal got me thinking about this issue once more. In my mind, I compared the argument calling for explanation to the less logical attitude found in all of the fantastical tales of the past. And I've reached the conclusion that those readers and writers who think that magic should always be logically explained and justified might not have it quite right. Instead of trying to figure out exactly how their magic works, maybe modern fantasy writers should spend more time trying to figure out how fantastical stories of the past created their own sort of wondrous magic.

In my opinion, many modern writers and readers are truly missing the real magic with all this "explain this" and "justify that". You can lose the wonder if everything is explained in a quasi-rational manner. Unless you or your readers actually believe in the reality of your own version of fantasy magic, then there always will be some sort of disbelief and disconnect from reason anyway. Certainly the rules of magic should be consistent throughout your creation, unless there are justifiable reasons why they aren't, but you don't have to tell the readers everything. The author should have a good idea why the magic works, or at least how it works, but the reader doesn't have to know all. If they do, that brightly gleaming sense of wonder may shatter into a million dimly glittering shards of mild amusement.

Take a look at the folklore, myths, and legends of yore, the precursors of modern fantasy. Magic not only exists in these stories, but it can be one of the driving forces. And yet, that magic need not be justified fully, need not be explained in its entirety, it just is. An evil sorcerer or a malevolent witch wields magic because they can, because that is what sorcerers and witches do. Perhaps some explanation and justification is implied (evil sorcerers and nasty witches might make deals with the Devil to acquire their powers), but it doesn't have to appear as a full-fledged explanation in any one story. Some stories may suggest that magic works through the recitation of certain songs or words, but the reader doen't have to know exactly how those songs or words actually tap into magical powers.

Take a look at fairy folklore. Magic certainly exists in these tales, and is often not explained at all. What explanations do exist for why fairies are such magical creatures (they are magical nature spirits, or holdovers of the pagan gods and goddesses, or fallen angels too bad for Heaven yet too good for Hell, or spirits of the unbaptised dead endowed with fairy powers, etc.) can be as varied as the specific cultural backgrounds and circumstances of the tellers of such tales. It is pretty much just taken for granted that fairies are magical beings, and can wield some pretty impressive magical powers. Of course, a lot of it is illusion, mere fairy glamour, but that sense of possible unreality makes it even weirder and wilder and more wonderful.

Why must modern fantasy turn its back on the past, ignoring the wonder found in these time-honoured tales? Why must we know all? Why can't some details be left up to the imagination of the reader? The capability to suspend disbelief can be vital to creating that sense of wonder in the fantastical. Are certain readers losing the ability to suspend their disbelief? Have they become so jaded as to lose that sense of wonder altogether? Have they grown out of the ability to see the fantastical through the wide, wonder-struck eyes of the inner child? Has the awe regarding the fantastic already shattered? I hope not.

Hopefully, we will see a return to the wonder of the fantastical, a reappearance of the magical in fantasy magic. Just like with a sleight-of-hand magician, a wizard fully explained loses some of his fantastical lustre, some of his mystical appeal, some of his numinous charm.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Der Erlkönig

One of my favorite poems happens to be "Der Erlkönig" by Johann Wolgang von Goethe. Not knowing more than a word or two of German, I'm sure I miss some of the poem's subtleties in the English translations, but I've always liked the story. The verse possesses a chilling quality that grows more ominous as it progresses to its morbid conclusion.

Apparently, there is some debate regarding the meaning of Erlkönig. Often times, it is translated into English as Erl-king, implying that the term means "Elf-King". However, the literal translation from German means Alder King. In my mind, either one has some connections to the darker side of fairy lore, specifically the idea of malevolent forest spirits, so I think it a silly debate. I've always connected the Erl-King to fairy lore, in the broadest sense of that term. There is certainly something "fairy-like" in his actions, being invisible to the father, trying to entice a mortal with glamourous offerings, and carrying off the spirit of the child while leaving behind the boy's empty mortal shell.

Some interpretations claim that the poem merely describes the fevered hallucinations of a sick child. Perhaps that is what Goethe intended, and yet the work does echo folk beliefs. Folklore frequently suggested that entities like the Erl-King only appeared to those with the gift of second sight, or to children.

There are several different English translations of "Der Erlkönig". The literal translation loses the rhyme. Some English adaptations try to keep the rhyme, but change words here and there. Sir Walter Scott even created a somewhat loose translation of Goethe's original. I personally like the translation by Louis Untermeyer that appeared on the record The Haunted House and Other Spooky Poems and Tales by Scholastic Records, the source where I first encountered this work. I actually blame this recording for eventually setting me on the path of dark speculative poet. Poems like "Der Erlkönig" certainly influenced my own works.

And yes, I do still have the record, even though I acquired it when I was in grade school. However, I can't seem to find the Untermeyer translation on-line.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Done With Forums

I've finally had to reach a bitter decision. Lately, I've been spending way too much time getting sucked into rather ridiculous forum debates, time that could be better spent on more productive endeavours. So, even though I've actually met some great people on various forums, for my own sake I have to stay away.

In many ways, it's my own fault; I'm too pig-headed and opinionated to avoid certain discussions. I feel I must always speak my mind, which isn't always a good thing. It can get one in trouble when one thinks differently than many of one's on-line friends and associates. And I've simply got too much to do to be involved in that kind of trouble over, and over, and over again.

Call my penchant for verbal sparring one of my worst character flaws, but at least I'm trying to deal with it the best way I can. And the best solution seems to be to do away with the temptation altogether. So, no more forums. I'll stick to my blogs.

Now I just have to stay out of blog flame wars.

Niteblade Art Blog: Pencilled Mayhem

Check out the latest installment of the Niteblade Art Blog: Pencilled Mayhem. This time I feature the pencil drawings of the fantasy artist Shane Lees. He combines fantasy imagery with a bit of science-fiction to create dangerous worlds inhabited by deadly cyborgs and doughty warriors.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My First Public Poetry Reading

Well, I finally did it. I finally read my poetry in a public setting. I finally participated in open mic night at the Flavour Cafe in Troy, NY and read a handful of my poems.

At first I was just a bit nervous, and worried about how well the audience would receive my particular brand of poetry, but it actually went extremely well. I only stumbled on a word or two, mostly words that give me trouble under the best of circumstances. I think I read pretty clearly and presented the verse with an effective amount of emotion.

People seemed impressed with my works. It was a small but quite supportive crowd, probably the best type of crowd for a first reading. I received a fairly hearty applause after each poem, and a fellow poet came up to me after the reading to ask me more about my work and chat about his own. He even walked out with us as my wife and I left. The hostess of the event commented that her daughter would really like my poetry, and asked if my works were available on-line.

The only slight wrinkle in the event was the fact that my wife and I had to leave not too long after I read to go pick our daughter up from her evening acting class. I felt a little guilty running out so soon. I would have preferred to stay and listen to more of the performances, but we were on a rather tight schedule.

Maybe next time we will be able to stay a bit longer and enjoy more of the night's entertainment. After having such a good time, there will definitely be a next time. And I have been intending to make some connections with the local art scene.

Necrotic Works

Here's one for anyone that has ever felt that their muse had died, that no matter how hard they tried, the words came out lifeless and dull. I feel your frustration; I've been there before:

Necrotic Works

Numb words
penned by cold hands
fall on bloodless pages
like decayed flesh sloughs off a corpse -
dead muse.

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Need a Calendar?

So, do you need a calendar for the coming year? Are you looking for something a bit different than the usual store-bought fare? Do you want a bit of art to hang on your wall? Would you like to help support the creative endeavours of this particular aspiring fantasy artist? Then consider purchasing one of these:

2009 Richard Fay Calendar

Calendars do make great holiday gifts, too!

Competetive About Being Abused?

Warning, the following is a serious rant. I'm rankled, riled, pissed-off to the extreme.

Alright, I've been accused of a lot of things over the forty years of my life, sometimes for good reason and at other times for no apparent reason at all (a neighbour in a drug-induced tizzy once accused me of practicing voodoo). However, this might be a new one. I've now been accused of acting competitively over matters of emotional and psychological abuse. Apparently, according to at least one person's opinion, I am in some sort of sick abuse competition, throwing my own stories of emotional and psychological abuse in the ring against other alleged instances of such maltreatment.

Pardon the expletive, but what the fuck? I may have a different perspective due to my own personal experiences, my threshold for actual, genuine abuse might be different than the apparent abuse thresholds of others, but pardon me if I do speak as someone who went through it. Knowing what true abuse is like, I think instances of screaming abuse when it might not really reach the threshold of abuse actually devalues what those of us who went through it suffered, and still suffer. And even though I have experienced it myself, I refuse to go around crying "abusive parent" whenever some parent posts something on-line I don't agree with. I cannot abide that behaviour anymore than I can abide abusive behaviour.

You want to attack my personal opinions and beliefs, fine! I might not like it, I might put up a fuss, but I might actually listen. Just don't turn it into a foul insult. You want to attack me personally through insults, you can just go to Hell! I no longer put up with it from my own parents, I'm certainly not going to put up with it from internet trolls and generally miserable persons with overly large chips on their shoulders and way too much time on their hands. And yes, I am the type that might try to knock that chip right off, but I really don't have the time anymore for such worthless endeavours. I have too many constructive things to do with my life.

Live my life, understand what it's like to be me, then you can judge me. Until then, keep your bleeding judgments to yourself!

Sorry to all my friends out there, but I just needed to get this off my chest. I don't even think that the person who made the comment about being competitive about abuse will even see this. This was just something I just couldn't keep bottled up inside. If I did, I might have exploded.

Monday, December 1, 2008


My poem "Peg Powler" now appears in issue 316 of the e-zine Bewildering Stories. I drew my inspiration for this piece from the lore about the water-demon/nursery bogie said to haunt the river Tees. I approached the verse as if I were a parent or caregiver warning children to stay away from the potentially dangerous riverbank.

Also, my cinquain "My Final Masterpiece" now appears in the December 2008 issue of the fantasy and horror e-zine Niteblade. I have no idea where the inspiration for this piece came from, but I do know it's one of my most erotic horror poems to date. Mind you, this is coming from a guy with rather Victorian sensibilites regarding erotica. Unusually for me, the horror in this piece is mundane, not supernatural. I wouldn't write poems like this as a rule, but the imagery I saw in my mind's eye was just too deliciously horrific to pass up. And, as an artist, the idea just struck a chord.

Check 'em out!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Brick Walls

My words
fall on deaf ears,
my thoughts forever blocked
by stark constructions laid across
closed minds.

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

This poem examines the frustration that I frequently feel when involved in certain internet discussions. At times, I sense that an encounter such as this is less a discussion or even a debate, and more an opportunity to stand upon a soapbox and present your personal viewpoint to the world. I suspect that attitudes and opinions rarely shift due to anything said during these supposed discussions. And yes, I have been guilty of some of this myself.

Another reality has come to light. I have realized that I think differently, I perceive the world differently, than a lot of other people out there on the world-wide-web. I don't know if it is a situational thing, or a generational thing, or just a perceptual thing, but it has become clear that I tend to view the world through a different lens. In some cases, there will never be a middle ground because I just don't see it.

Differences can be wonderful; after all, diversity is the spice of life. However, strong differences in opinion can lead one into trouble, if one is not careful. And trouble seems to follow me wherever I go.

A final note - one thing I've noticed quite often just makes me want to bang my head against that proverbial brick wall. There seems to be a tremendous amount of splitting hairs out there, and that happens to be a form of twisted logic I simply cannot abide.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday Death: It's Finally Happened

More proof (and here) that retail can be deadly work.

They finally did it, those bastards! Those disgustingly rowdy, obnoxiously nasty Black Friday shoppers killed a poor Wal-Mart worker. The wretched rabble broke down the door and trampled the worker underfoot like a herd of stampeding steers. And then they just went on shopping as if nothing happened, as if the tragedy unfolding before their eyes meant absolutely nothing to them.

Let me tell you something - those few dollars an hour were not worth dying for. Wal-Mart and the other retailers should be handing out hazard pay!

Having seen some of it first-hand when I worked in retail years ago, and having heard plenty of horror stories when my wife was a retail manager, I'm surprised it took this long. The wild feeding-frenzy Black Friday produces amongst certain rabid shoppers was always a disaster waiting to happen. Now it has.

And writing is supposed to be as terrible as retail? Sorry Charlie, I just don't buy it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful For...

This year has been a bit rough. The budget has been very tight now that my daughter is going to college, and I've suffered some wild ups-and-downs on the publication front. And the general economic situation is a bit worrisome, especially since we live on basically one income. It will take a lot more work and luck to get a decent income out of my writing and art, if I ever do. And then there have been a few rather minor health problems that have troubled me greatly, like my wrist issues. At times, I worry that these problems will derail my nascent art career.

However, I am thankful for my family. My wife and daughter have been very supportive of my creative endeavours, and both soldier through the rougher times better than I do. And my daughter is proving that home-schooling worked, that she was more than prepared to start college.

I am thankful for my poetry and my art. My poetry has done better than I ever hoped it would. And I've gotten a few pieces of art out there, too. I've even got plenty of art on various pieces of merchandise in the Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store. The calendar is especially cool.

I am also thankful for the friends I've made over the past year or so. Some of my writer, poet, and artist friends probably have more faith in my skills and abilities than I do. It's nice to know that some people actually appreciate my creative works. Actually, it's a wonderful feeling. Dare I say I even have some fans out there?

So, thanks to all my friends! Now I have to get cooking a turkey. Just a small Butterball turkey roast, so it won't take that long to cook.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Monsters in My Life

Fell beasts
haunt dreamless nights
filled with curses and pain,
coming not from Hell, but from a

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Coming from a family of abusive alcoholics, I have experience with the pain and anguish alcoholism can cause even the innocent to suffer. This poem reaches into the darker regions of my childhood and young adulthood, touching on personal anguish and pain that still lingers even today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Mock You With My Poetry: A Poem By a Poetry Snob

Here is a work from a nasty, unrepentant poetry snob. Keep in mind, I'm not speaking in my own voice, I'm speaking in the voice of my imaginary haughty elitist. In the past, I've actually been called a poetaster and a wannabe, so take this more as cautionary verse rather than a reflection of my own feelings and beliefs. Personally, I would rather help other poets achieve great things than tear them down. Always take care when you criticize the creative works of others, or you may just sound like I. E. Loquence. And I hope nobody would want to sound like him (or her - I. E. doesn't have to be a man):

I Mock You With My Poetry

by I. E. Loquence

I mock you, pathetic poetaster,
With my own superior verse.
Your damnable doggerel
And sadly stilted stanzas
Pain my poet's ears.

I mock you, wretched wannabe,
With pointed words
And sharper wit.
I cut your work to ribbons
And laugh at the mess.

I mock you, false bard,
Purveyor of indifference,
Meretricious minstrel,
Seller of languid lines
And cheap tricks.

Away, foul prostitute!
Take your pedestrian works
And hawk them elsewhere.
Your pale glimmer fades
Beneath my mighty shadow.

(of your dismal dregs,
not my fine libations)

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

A Wow Moment

Usually, I'm my worst critic when it comes to my own work. I'm so bad at judging the quality of my artwork, finding non-existent microscopic flaws, that my daughter says I have "artorexia". Things aren't much better for me on the poetry front. I constantly worry that my verse isn't really poetic enough, that it doesn't have enough emotion, and that it exhibits poor structure.

A strange thing happened the other night, and one that probably won't happen again any time soon. No sooner did I lie down in bed then I had sudden midnight inspiration. Arising from potential slumber, I made my way downstairs to jot down my idea.

The fact that I dragged myself out of bed isn't the strange part of the story. I do that all the time. The strange part came a bit later.

A few lines became a few stanzas, which then became a completed poem. Once completed, I quietly read the piece to myself and thought "wow, this is actually pretty darned good". It seemed to flow very smoothly. It seemed to stir the emotions, working on an emotional level. And, it seemed quite "poetic".

Of course, now I have to find out if editors feel the same about this particular work. I worry that I might be jinxing my chances of seeing this one published any time soon. However, I truly feel that it isn't so much of matter of if as a matter of when. I feel confident enough in the power of this particular piece to say that it will find a home, eventually.

It's a different place to be. Maybe I am finally developing some confidence in my creative abilities.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Promotional Illustration

I was asked by Crystalwizard of Cyberwizard Productions to come up with an illustration based on a poem by David C. Kopaska-Merkel to use on material promoting his forthcoming collaboration with Kendall Evans, Nightship to Never. It took me a couple of tries to create something that matched David's intended imagery (blasted misinterpreted metaphors!), but with modifications to my original drawing I eventually came up with something that met with his approval. It was a mildly frustrating process, but all's well that ends well. And thank goodness for digital manipulation!

So, my illustration should appear alongside David's poem on materials Crystalwizard will be using to publicize the release of Nightship to Never. And no, you can't see it just yet! You will just have to wait until Crystalwizard gets around to promoting the book.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blasted Ear Infections!

One of the quirks of my existence is the fact that I am strangely susceptible to otitis media. I tend to suffer from frequent ear infections; something that is more typically a children's problem than an adult one. A doctor once told me it may be due to an idiosyncrasy in my anatomy. My Eustachian tubes may not have developed from a horizontal orientation to a more vertical one like they normally do when children mature into adults. Or maybe my tubes are just too narrow.

Up until a couple of days ago, I actually went several months without ear problems. Unfortunately, my daughter brought a cold home from college. And I caught it. So, here we go again! My nasal passages stuffed up, my left middle ear plugged up, the left side of my face puffed up, and my ear and face became tender and sore.

After suffering recurring ear infections for years, I've discovered most tend to be viral. So rest and time are the only things that will make the infection go away. In most instances, antibiotics are unnecessary. And I don't believe in the unnecessary use of antibiotics. I would rather not help produce super-bugs, thank you very much!

Well, at least I have plenty of books to read. And I might watch a little television, and do some crossword puzzles. It could almost be a nice mini-vacation if I wasn't ill. The general malaise and sore ear kind of ruin the pleasant aspect.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Two Poems Accepted at APHELION

I received word that my speculative cinquain "Two-Dimensional Visitors" and my speculative haiku "stark ebon tower" will be appearing in forthcoming issues of Aphelion. One will be in the December 2008 issue, and the other will be in the February 2009 issue. I don't really know yet which one will appear in which month's issue, and it doesn't really matter. As long as they get published, I'll be happy.

Actually, this was one of the fastest acceptances I've ever received. I send one poem at 3:14 PM and the other at 3:21 PM today, and received the e-mail from Aphelion's poetry editor at 4:57 PM. I guess I sent them at just the right time.

Rollin', rollin', rollin'... (Of course, the roll may come to an end in this coming January, but I'm not too worried if it does. And you never know, I may yet have something scheduled for publication in January.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Life is the Life

My winning poem "Life is the Life" is now on-line in Issue 4.5 of The Monsters Next Door. Congrats to all the other winners. Way to go!

Check out all the winning entries at The Monsters Next Door Contest Issue 4.5.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cinquain Published in APHELION

My speculative cinquain "They've Come For Me Again" has been published in the November 2008 issue of Aphelion. Check it out!

Poem on Schedule at Bewildering Stories

My poem "Peg Powler", inspired by the lore about a water-demon said to lurk in the River Tees, is scheduled for future publication in the e-zine Bewildering Stories. The managing editor commented that it is not a poem one would want to see on a riverbank sign!

This is actually my second poem entitled "Peg Powler". There is another that I posted on a forum or two written from Peg's perspective. The one set to appear in Bewildering Stories is written from the perspective of a nursemaid or parent warning children to stay away from the river, using the character of Peg Powler to scare little lads and lasses in traditional nursery-bogie style.

By the way, here's a reminder to check out my cinquain "Autumnal Woodland Morn" at Every Day Poets. If you haven't already done so, please rate it, and perhaps leave a comment.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Autumnal Woodland Morn" in EVERY DAY POETS

My cinquain "Autumnal Woodland Morn" is now on-line at Every Day Poets here. This is one of my rare forays into mainstream poetry, although I think my speculative roots still show. I'm very proud of my word choice in this particular poem. Everything came together just right.

Go check it out! And please rate my poem. And if you like, while you are casting your vote, please leave a comment as well. I would love to hear what you think of my little cinquain that could.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Ahead of the Curve

Apparently, my wife and I were ahead of the curve when it came to calling an end to home school when my daughter turned sixteen, and instead sending her to college full-time. Check out the story I just saw on Yahoo News about New Hampshire's plans to allow tenth graders to graduate and go on to college here.

I obviously thought my kid was ready to graduate after tenth grade. And based on her stellar performance in college so far (four As and a B on her recent mid-term report), I was right.

A Threat to Marriage?

According to the opponents of gay marriage, allowing homosexuals to marry would be a threat to the institution of marriage. Have they looked around lately?

People who marry simply for the big party are much more a threat to the institution of marriage than homosexual couples wanting the same rights as heterosexual couples. People who readily accept the concept of "starter wives" are also a threat to marriage. People who divorce at the drop of a hat, after the first hint of problems, are a much bigger threat to marriage than homosexual couples. And perhaps the biggest threat to marriage as an institution comes from those people who have multiple children out of wedlock with various alleged dads.

The institution of marriage means nothing to some people, and it isn't due to gays and lesbians wanting the same rights as married heterosexuals! Marriage has already been devalued and threatened by other general societal trends. Marriage has been under siege for years.

On my side of the family, there were more "broken homes" than intact ones. A couple of my relatives had been divorced twice-over. Most (including my own parents) had been divorced at least once. There was even a lack of value in the marriages that lasted, legally if not emotionally. My grandmother refused to divorce my abusive, drunkard grandfather even when he lived with his mistress for fifteen years, and supposedly sired at least one bastard child.

I always love the irony of those who claim to be the true defenders of family values. Are they blind to the things I see? Some supposed families I know personally are quite lacking in any sort of real family values.

I see no threat to my eighteen year marriage from others looking for the same rights my wife and I already have, as long as those rights come with responsibilities. As a matter of fact, I support the idea of granting homosexual couples the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual ones. Of course, I would also love to see more straight people put more value on the sanctity of marriage.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Not Meant to Give a Poetry Reading

I am starting to think that I was never meant to give a poetry reading. That may be one part of the whole poetic experience I will never personally experience.

A while back, I had sent an e-mail to a local coffee house that hosts quite a few art-related events. I was hoping to set up a poetry reading at some point down the line. They replied only with a form e-mail, so I figured I would just attend one of their open mics before I actually went the next step and gave their booking person a call.

On their web site and in flyers on the tables, the coffee house in question claims they have an open mic session the first Thursday of every month. Well, today is the first Thursday of November, so I was all ready to read tonight. Lo and behold! They don't have an open mic tonight.


I understand that there could be a host of reasons why they aren't holding an open mic tonight, including schedule conflicts, but I am still disappointed. It's putting me back into recluse mode. I want to say the heck with the whole idea!

It would be nice to potentially get a little local recognition, but I'm not sure it's really worth it. For living in such a cosmopolitan area, it's proving bloody difficult to find the right time and place for a local poetry reading. I may have to wait until my collection is out, and then see if I can schedule something at one of the local independent bookstores. Even the local Barnes & Noble frequently has book signings by local authors.

Or maybe I'll just sit home and read to my dog and cats! Wuff, meow, wuff! (How do you say "eldritch" in dog?)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

History Before My Eyes

Last night, I saw history being made right before my eyes. The United States elected it's first African-American president. This is indeed an awe-inspiring historic moment, and a barrier-shattering precedent. However, it does make me think of all the other amazing moments of recent history.

Obviously, important events become unforgettable moments in history all the time. And yet, I feel as if I've witnessed (through the wonders of television and then the internet) more than my fair share of "instant history".

I watched the television screen as the space shuttle first took off into history. The day of the Challenger explosion, I viewed the constant replays of that terrible tragedy over, and over, and over again. I saw another tragedy unfold as I watched the coverage of Columbia's doomed re-entry. I witnessed the end of Concorde as Air France Flight 4590 crashed.

I remember the Big 80s, Reaganomics, "Star Wars", Iran-Contra, and the "Evil Empire". I recall the time a woman ran for vice-president on the Mondale-Ferraro ticket. I also remember when Poland became free once more. I recall the day the Berlin wall came down. I saw the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the "Evil Empire", and the failure of the coup that tried to bring it back.

I watched the drama of the impeachment of President Clinton over his criminal dishonesty regarding the Monica Lewinsky affair, only the second impeachment of a president in US history. I can't help but to remember the messy 2000 presidential election, and its outcome. And I definitely recall the day my wife walked in the door unexpectedly and told me the Twin Towers had collapsed. I will never forget the empty skies of a usually busy air traffic hub as all commercial and private planes were grounded. That day I knew the world had changed forever.

These truly are amazing times. Some of the events of recent history have been heartening, while others have been heart-breaking, but all have been incredible to behold. Awe-inspiring indeed!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Niteblade Art Blog Featuring Ciaran Collins

The first installment of the Niteblade Art Blog is now on-line here. In this inaugural art blog I feature the work of an aspiring illustrator from Northern Ireland, Ciaran Collins. I like how Ciaran's art is light-hearted and yet darkly atmospheric. It reminds me of the sort of stuff I adored when I was a kid. Heck, I'm still rather fond of the cute-and-creepy style.

Check it out!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bunch 'O Brags

I have lots of stuff out, or coming out, this month. My poems "Chupa-Chupas" and "Midnight Encounter on Merais Minor", along with my article "Vampiric UFOs", appear in Issue 7 of Hungur. Two of my illustrations appear in the November Issue of Abandoned Towers (print version). "Unicorn Enwreathed" accompanies the story "Minkus, the Masterful Magic-Mender" by Hannah Steenbock, and "The Professor Speaks" accompanies the story "The Mentor and the Apprentice" by Aaron French.

And that's not all for November! I've got more due out later this month. I will have a poem coming out in Every Day Poets on November 9th, and my contest-winning poem will appear in the special edition of The Monsters Next Door on November 15th. I'll post links when they're on-line.

And the roll rolls on...

Contest Winner

My poem "Life is the Life" won in the poetry category of The Monsters Next Door "Through My Eyes" Contest. I'm very pleased by this news. Actually, I'm ecstatic.

This is my first contest win. Wahoo!

The winning entries, including my poem, will be featured in a special half-issue (issue 4.5) of The Monsters Next Door, due out November 15th. I'll post a link to my winning poem when it's on-line.

November is proving to be a very good month. More on that later.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Greeting Card Featuring My Art & Poetry

Believe it or not, I came up with a poem for a greeting card! The Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store now features a greeting card with my mermaid illustration on the front, and a little rhyme I wrote on the inside.

At first, I wasn't sure if I could come up with an appropriate poem. My initial attempt at composing a poem to go with the mermaid was too dark for a greeting card. I began to wonder if I would be able to easily and effectively create a proper greeting card poem. However, my second try worked just fine. I'm actually rather proud of the result.

Check it out!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Niteblade Art Blogger

The editor of the fantasy and horror e-zine Niteblade sent out a call for an art blogger. I happened to be one of the applicants who answered that call. The idea of posting blogs to promote the work of various aspiring artists appealed to me.

Well, the editor offered me the position, and I accepted. I am now the art blogger at Niteblade!

So, if you are a fantasy or horror artist looking for some exposure, if you would like to see your work featured in Niteblade's art blog, please send me examples of your art and a little bit about yourself to: Niteblade can't offer any monetary remuneration for your art; payment is in exposure only. However, I do promise to spread the word about the entry featuring your work.

Let me see whatcha got!

Horror Cinquain Accepted at NITEBLADE

My horror cinquain "My Final Masterpiece" has been accepted for publication in the December 2008 issue of the fantasy and horror e-zine Niteblade. This particular poem exhibits a somewhat erotic nature. Well, the subject is about as erotic as my work ever gets, anyway. And unlike many of my other horror poems, "My Final Masterpiece" does not have a supernatural theme.

I believe it pays to explore new themes every now and then. It exercises the muse, helping to keep creativity limber.

For a while, I wasn't sure if I would have any publications in December. I don't have much in my submission pool right now, and I've been too busy on other projects to work on much poetry for zine submission. I haven't really been trying that hard to keep my roll rolling. So I'm very glad that my cinquain will appear in Niteblade. It means that my roll will roll on into December.

Now on to 2009...

Monday, October 27, 2008

rustling skirts

rustling skirts
spinning shadows
ghostly ball

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Bye Bye Medieval Font

Curses Yahoo Site Builder! I spent most of the weekend trying to deal with a strange glitch that suddenly popped up in Yahoo Site Builder. I was changing one of my illustrations from a black and white version to a new colour version, and when I published the page, all my medieval-style script loaded wrong. Links and titles would be mixed-up. The script, a special font published as an image, didn't load properly at all.

At first, I tried to trick the site builder into thinking that I added new text. That didn't work. Wondering if something had happened to the program itself, I un-installed and re-installed Yahoo Site Builder. Well, that led to further problems concerning my internal links. For some reason the program didn't read the internal links properly when importing my site, so I had to redo my page-to-page links. And still the medieval script refused to load properly.

In the end, I switched to Palatino Linotype. It's a much more standard font, and one that can be published as text instead of published as an image. That actually solved the problem.

I don't know why this happened. The medieval font worked fine for months. I'm saddened by the loss of my fancy script, but I would rather have a site that loads properly with working links rather than a fancy one that loads all jumbled up. One plus of all this is the fact that the site loads just a smidgen quicker now.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another Poetry Collection in the Works

An amazing thing happened the other day. After I sent more and more reprints to a certain editor, she commented that, with ten more pages, we would have a chapbook, if I wanted it. In other words, out of the blue, the editor (who also happens to be a publisher) offered to publish a collection of my science-fiction and fantasy poetry and art.

At an earlier date, I had mentioned to this very same publisher that I wanted to eventually work on a fantasy collection in the future. So perhaps the offer wasn't completely "out of the blue" after all. However, I hadn't done much more than thinking about it, until now.

Considering that the editor really wants me to create illustrations for my works currently in her zine anyway, ten more pages wouldn't be much of a problem. I may even have some poetic forum and blog postings floating around that I could include in the collection. If we could get all the way to 110 pages, we could release a full-length book! That may be overly ambitious, but it might still be a goal worth shooting for.

Nothing is really official yet. No contracts have been signed. However, the fact that the publisher approached me after already publishing the works in question gives me some confidence that this idea for a collection will indeed reach fruition.

Still, there are things I need to do to make this a viable reality. I would like to include at least a few unpublished works. So I had better get busy writing more poetry. And I had better get busy drawing, too.

It looks like I'll be pretty busy for the next few weeks or months. The gears in my mind are turning so fast that I haven't even had time to really think about how amazing the whole thing truly is. I might just fall over in shock once it truly sinks in!

Oh well, it sure beats boredom!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Seventeen More Poems in ABANDONED TOWERS

The reprint floodgates have now opened! I just had seventeen more poems published in the on-line version of Abandoned Towers. "West Dingleton's Loss of Humanity", "The Faces", "Holiday on Phreetum Prime", "Infiltration", "Nanomite 323", "Galactic Road Trip", and eleven "Selected Scifaiku" now appear on the Abandoned Towers "Poetry" page. One of my scifaiku, "wander the ether", appears alongside an accompanying illustration. All have been previously published, some in print, and others on-line.

One thing that is new; the illustration accompanying "wander the ether" is now in colour. The version originally published in the May, 2008 print issue of Scifaikuest was black and white. The addition of colour has turned a cool drawing into a very cool drawing, if I do say so myself.

To peruse these latest additions to the Abandoned Towers site, just click on the link to the "Poetry" page. Scroll to the bottom. Then click on the links for each individual poem, and the page containing my scifaiku.

I would love to "hear" what people think of my various science-fiction poems and the "wander the ether" illustration. And while you're there, check out some of the other nifty works published in Abandoned Towers.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Slimy Orange Guts

slimy orange guts
oozing between my fingers
jack-o-lantern's birth

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poem Accepted for Publication in ABANDONED TOWERS

The editor of the zine Abandoned Towers has accepted my cinquain chain "Amongst Faerie Oaks" for publication in the November, 2009 print issue. That's a long wait, but I've waited just about as long before. It happens.

Since the last line of one cinquain becomes the first line of the next, and I usually avoid such repetition, this particular poem proved to be a challenge to complete. In the end, however, I was happy enough with the results. And the editor obviously liked the piece enough to accept it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What's in a Name?

Okay, some inhabitants of the right wing of the political fun house (or mad house, as the case may be) invoke Senator Obama's middle name of Hussein as if this somehow makes him an anti-American terrorist. Oh, really?

Let's turn this name game around for a moment and look at Senator McCain's last name. McCain sounds awfully Scottish to me. He must really be a Scot come to subvert our American values and traditions!

Since he has to be a Scot due to his Scottish name, McCain will force all American males to wear a plaid "skirt". He'll call it a kilt, but a skirt by any other name...

Once he has perverted American fashion, McCain will then attack our other traditions, like having turkey on Thanksgiving. Turkey will be right out; the offal delicacy of Scottish haggis will take the place of that time-honoured American entree. And you can forget about stuffing and cranberry sauce, too; the only dishes allowed alongside the national sausage will be "neeps and tatties".

As for the national anthem, McCain will obviously push to make it law that the "Star Spangled Banner" shall always be accompanied by highland bagpipes. No more singers belting out the tune solo, they will be drowned out by a raucous troop of rowdy pipers.

Oh, and perhaps he will make Gaelic the official language. English certainly isn't, so why not Gaelic instead? There will be mandatory Gaelic education in all public schools. And even when we do speak English in public, we will all be made to rrrrroll ourrrrrr rrrrrrs.

This all sounds pretty darned silly. Implying that Senator Obama is some sort of anti-American come to subvert our culture or attack our nation just because he happens to bear the middle name of Hussein is just as silly.

My last name is Fay, but I'm actually half Slovak. The other half is a bit of an Irish mix. For many years I had an Italian last name, even though I don't have a drop of Italian blood. My step-father legally adopted me after he and my mother married, when I was but a wee laddie. A few years ago, I legally changed my last name back to the name I was born with, in part because there was no real father-son relationship between my step-father and myself. The name alone certainly didn't make us a real, functional family.

So, what's in a name? Often times, not much. Not much at all.

(Sorry to any Scots out there that might take offense. I love the Scots and Scotland, I really do. If McCain was O'Cain instead, I would have made similar jabs about Irish traditions.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

shrouded skeletons

shrouded skeletons
swaying amidst cobweb veils
seasonal decor

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Friday, October 17, 2008

Corvus corax, Avis fatalis

An homage, or at least a nod, to Edgar Allan Poe...

Corvus corax, Avis fatalis

shards of moonlight
glint in the raven's eyes
while that fell feathered fiend foretells
my doom.

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

In case you're wondering, Corvus corax is the scientific name for the common or northern raven. My attempt at Latin following Corvus corax hopefully means "fatal or deadly bird" or "bird of fate". I may have messed up or mixed up forms, but if I did I'll just claim poetic license. I don't really know much Latin outside of some scientific names.

Interestingly enough, avis also means, figuratively, a portent or omen. I didn't know that before I decided to use avis in the title, but it's certainly appropriate.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wrote a Foreword

Here is a new and unexpected experience for me. Since the two poets involved seem pleased with the results, I think it's safe to mention that Crystalwizard of Cyberwizard Productions asked me to write a foreword for a forthcoming poetry collection by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and Kendall Evans.

Even though I said yes pretty quickly, I wasn't sure if I would be up to the task. Since both David and Kendall are accomplished, award-winning speculative poets, I felt a bit daunted by the prospect of writing a foreword that would due justice to their work. Well, I put on my creative cap and came up with a darned good foreword, if I do say so myself.

I'm still amazed that Crystalwizard requested that I write the foreword to begin with. I know I work with her on a regular basis, but I was surprised by this request. And I surprised myself with the results.

Just as the old saying goes, you never know what you can do until you try.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Liar, Liar, Skirt on Fire!

Apparently, Sarah Palin believes that Senator Obama has not been completely honest about his relationship to Bill Ayers as well as his connection to the possible election fraud committed by the group ACORN. Unfortunately, the same accusation of dishonesty can be leveled against Palin herself. Frankly, I tend not to believe in or listen to liars.

Recently, Sarah Palin blatantly lied about the conclusion of the bipartisan report on Troopergate. She claimed vindication, saying that the report found she did not abuse her power. However, the report clearly stated that Governor Palin did act unethically, and broke the state ethics law. She abused her power alright, and is now insulting the intelligence of Americans by lying about it.

War is peace. Black is white. Up is down.

I wish I could say this is new territory for me, but I've been here before. I've already visited the warped land where lies are truth as long as the liar thinks they are true, despite what the plain facts might say to the contrary.

My own madly malevolent mother is an unrepentant liar. I once caught her lying about a rather small life insurance policy that she kept secret, hidden, and supposedly safe from my greedy hands. When I accidentally found out about it, she claimed that the policy wasn't really in my name, it was actually in my step-father's (he happens to be Richard too, and at that point in time I bore his last name).

Calling her bluff, I declared that the policy had my social security number on it, not my step-father's. Caught in her own lie, she then admitted that it was a policy they had originally taken out when I was a kid. It was indeed in my name, I was legal owner of the policy, and it probably should have been handed over to me when I turned eighteen. Instead, my parents held onto it, secretly paying into it. My mother claimed she would have "done the right thing" and made sure my wife and daughter were taken care of if something had ever happened to me, but I doubted that. The small amount of death benefits from that pathetic policy wouldn't have covered the cost of the funeral, let alone any other expenses, and my bet is that my mother would have gone on a cruise, remodeled the house (again), or done some other selfish thing with the money.

The worst part of the whole story is that I then caught hell for accusing my mother of lying! She stumbled into her own web of lies, and yet turned it around so I was the guilty party. How dare I accuse her of lying to me?

Truth is lies. Lies are truth.

So I am thoroughly unimpressed when someone states an obvious lie. Shame on you, Sarah Palin!

By the way, in case you're wondering, the insurance company let me cash in the policy without question. I did get my "greedy little hands' on it in the end, and put the money to better use. Of course, I still wonder if my mother has more policies on me that I don't know about, hidden away in her home or in a safe deposit box while she hopes beyond hope that I die before she does.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cinquain Accepted at EVERY DAY POETS

After a few failed attempts, I now have a poem accepted for forthcoming publication in the e-zine Every Day Poets. Their editorial team felt that my cinquain entitled "Autumnal Woodland Morn" was appropriate for the season. I'm assuming it will appear on-line sometime next month, since it is specifically a November poem.

The roll rolls on, and on, and on, and on...

Thacher Park Trip

We took a trip to John Boyd Thacher State Park today. We hiked for about three hours, and along the way I snapped a few photos (my wife took the one of me on the nature trail). I also took some snapshots of the view at the top of the Helderberg Escarpment. Unfortunately, I had to take in the wonderful view solo because my daughter suffers terrible vertigo. We didn't think it was wise to have her walk along the top of one-hundred foot cliffs!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

All It Takes is One

At times, all it takes to set off the powder keg is one crazy individual lighting the fuse, one sick person committing one violent act. Just one.

That is the lesson history has already taught us. It has happened before. If you doubt me, read about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo in 1914. The intertwined alliances and growing militarism of early twentieth century Europe may have created an atmosphere where the assassination of the archduke became an easy pretext for war, but that doesn't change the fact that one violent act by one angry man triggered the chain of events that led to World War I.

This is why the cries of "traitor", "terrorist", and "kill him" shouted by certain McCain supporters troubles me. We may be nearing another boiling point in history where simmering hatred and unrest could create the spark that sets off an explosion. One slight flick of a finger could send the dominoes tumbling.

To put it bluntly, if something terrible does happen, all hell could break loose. And I dread the possibility.

The Hate Scares Me

Certain things I've seen in the news recently trouble me greatly. I'm extremely disturbed by the venomous, and potentially dangerous, hatred displayed at recent McCain rallies. When his supporters start to cry "terrorist", "traitor", and "kill him" in reference to Obama, I worry about what the future may hold. This is a dangerous path to take in a nation with a history of assassinations and a penchant for violence.

What has Palin and company stirred up? What are these crazies actually capable of? How long before the violent rhetoric turns into violent action?

Ironically enough, some of this reminds me of what I've read about the history leading up to World War II. Hitler came to power in Germany, in part, based on a policy of hate. Even if McCain himself denounces the worst of it, the fires of hatred have been stoked. And it may take more than a few contrary words to put the flames out now.

Yes, I'm worried and scared. I do not want to live in a nation of hate. I don't want my daughter to face a hate-filled future. This has to be stopped, and stopped now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Weird Concert Experience

I may be a speculative poet and artist, but last night I discovered I am a terrible square at heart. I just don't understand the more experimental side of art.

My daughter and one of her college friends decided to go to some of the opening events at the new Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at RPI. They lassoed my wife into being their chauffeur, and since didn't want to just drive back-and-forth from home to RPI, she got us tickets for one of the shows. It happened to be Robert Normandeau's Cinema for the Ears, a presentation of "acousmatic" multichannel electronic music. I figured we were in for a weird experience, but nothing prepared me for what I saw and heard.

Walking into the building itself, I knew right away we were in trouble. The structure looked like some great wooden ark trapped inside a steel and glass monstrosity. It appears as if it's trying to be modern, but it just comes off as idiotic. However, it was the perfect venue for that particular performance.

To me, music has pattern. Music has rhythm and melody. Music does not arise from a parade of noise and sound effects strung together through a multi-channel sound system.

Strange sounds assaulted our ears right from the beginning. The first part sounded like the wet poo sounds when my cats had diarrhea combined with the thumping throb when my neighbors have their music cranked too loud. A man a couple of seats down from my wife let a rather long fart rip, but my wife never even noticed. She thought the sound was all part of the show.

At one point it sounded as if the giant ants from the movie Them were attacking the building. I even said as much at the time. And at one point the ark must have turned into a spaceship, because it sounded as if we took off into the starry sky.

My wife and I sat through the first part, hoping the second would be better. Our hopes were soon dashed when we heard a sound akin to Godzilla pissing on the concert hall. And, boy, the Big-G has a huge bladder! Then, after another series of thumps, throbs, squawks, and a few nature sounds here and there, the aliens invaded! The noises coming through the speakers sounded just like the sound effects from an early Eighties video game. However, the aliens couldn't keep the 9:45 express away, because we then heard train effects. Finally, a marble went around, and around, and around, and around.

Intermission couldn't come soon enough. My wife and I sat out the second half, and waited in the adjoining cafe while my daughter and her friend went back in for the rest of the show. After the show, my daughter's friend raved about the composer. I, on the other hand, was less-than-impressed. The fact that Normandeau is apparently world-renowned for such work had me scratching my head in utter bewilderment.

What I heard sounded like the bad sound effects from a cheesy sci-fi movie, or a bunch of kids fooling around with a series of synthesizers. It certainly did not sound like aural art by a renowned aural artist. I simply did not understand the performance at all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Murmured Words

murmured words
heard in empty rooms
voices of the dead

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

The Dangers of Retail

Yes, work in retail can indeed be deadly:

Customer opens fire at Tenn. mall, killing worker

Disgruntled customer + firearm = tragedy. Having seen how angry customers can get, I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often. Perhaps the confrontation was over personal matters instead of retail matters, but retail workers do still face potential dangers from armed robbers and angry customers. I've seen it. I've experienced it. Thank goodness I haven't had to put up with it for years now.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is Science-Fiction Poetry Silly?

Certain discussions and comments regarding the place of science-fiction poetry in the literary world got me wondering about the subject. Is science fiction poetry a silly non-genre? Is the wider field of speculative poetry truly the quality-poor step-sister of literary poetry? Must speculative poetry in general be seen as merely folk-art while its mainstream literary relation is granted the title of fine-art?

Standing under the broader umbrella of speculative poetry for a moment, I suggest that this particular poetic genre has been with us a very, very long time. Ancient myths and legends, often presented in verse form, are truly speculative stories cloaked in the shroud of belief. In other words, the subject matter of these tales would be speculative in nature except for the fact that people seemed to believe that these tales were true back when they were first told. Much of what was myth, legend, and folklore inspired later speculative literature classics such as Frankenstein, Dracula, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Lord of the Rings. Speculative poetry has delved into the same creative depths, using verse instead of prose. Science-fiction poetry merely puts the "modern myths" of the science-fiction genre into poetic form, just like the ancients often did with their own wildly imaginative tales.

Certain examples of poetic classics from years ago also seem to fit nicely into the label of speculative poetry. Many of Poe's macabre poems could be considered speculative. Poets of the past often used folklore, fairy folklore in particular, as poetic inspiration. Works by W.B. Yeats ("The Hosting of the Sidhe"), Christina Rossetti ("Goblin Market"), and William Shakespeare (Mercutio's speech about Queen Mab) could arguably be considered speculative poetry of this nature. Why must modern speculative poetry be placed in a lesser category than its more illustrious predecessors? This makes no sense to me.

Speculative poetry is a valid poetic genre, one with a rich past and potentially exciting future. Science-fiction poetry is just one sub-type of speculative poetry, and a logical offshoot of science-fiction literature. I see no real need to suggest that it must be a silly non-genre. And a determination of quality should be made on objective grounds, not based merely on what genre a piece falls under. Calling speculative poetry a lesser art due to its subject matter is grossly unfair. Many current speculative poets let their creativity soar, they give free reign to their speculative muses, and it shows in their works. Besides, I've read some examples of modern mainstream poetry that seemed incredibly silly, and downright dreadful! Mainstream certainly doesn't equal quality anymore than speculative equals a lack of it.

To be quite honest, I never even realized such distinctions existed until fairly recently. I've always approached my speculative poetry as just plain poetry. The separation of speculative poetry into its own category, the placement of all speculative-themed verse into a stuffy dark box shoved into a little corner of the literary attic, seems a bit silly to me.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Spooks and Frights

Spectres take flight!
Phantoms and ghosts drift into sight.
Bogles and bogies,
Goblins and ghouls,
Join all strange things that go bump in the night.

Skeletons chuckle!
Graveyard moulds heave and buckle.
Creatures and critters,
Monsters and mutants,
Rise up slowly from the miry muckle.

Leaves fall and blow!
Corpse light candles flicker and glow.
Witches and warlocks,
Devils and demons,
Wing through the sky to frighten those below.

Zombies must roam!
Bats take off in the gloam.
Maniacs and madmen,
Frankensteins and fiends,
Dig dead bodies from the cemetery loam.

Something's at the door!
Strange beings recite spooky lore.
Wraiths and wizards,
Bugbears and banshees,
Appear from the dark to scare you once more.

Copyright © 2007 Richard H. Fay

A Bit Late: Bewildering Stories Third Quarterly Review

Even though it was apparently up last week, I didn't find out until today that my speculative love poem "My Alien Love" appeared in Bewildering Stories Third Quarterly Review, 2008 Editors’ Choices: issues 297-307. That's the third poem I've had in a Bewildering Stories Quarterly Review, out of a total of ten of my poems published in their e-zine. I guess you could say they like my work.

Anyway, I'm proud of this achievement. Of course, my pride is tempered by the knowledge that there are always much greater goals to shoot for. Still, any recognition above and beyond publication is a good thing.

All that from a poem I began to think was fatally flawed! Weird.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Potential Poetry Reading: Any Advice?

After putting it off for quite some time, I finally sent an e-mail to a local coffee house inquiring about possibly scheduling a date and time for a poetry reading. Since I hit the century-mark with my poetry publications, and the forthcoming publication of my collection seems to be back on track, I figured it was time to bite the bullet and face the public. Besides, it wouldn't hurt to get a little local exposure, something that I've been lacking up until now.

So, all you poets out there, do you have any advice regarding poetry readings? What things should I do, and what should I avoid? What should I expect?

Even if, for whatever reason, this particular establishment chooses to say no, there are other reading opportunities out there. Sooner or later, I will be reading my poetry. And it's something I've never really done outside of the classroom or my own home, so I'm a bit apprehensive about the whole idea.

And words of advice or encouragement would be greatly appreciated.

My Comment on it All...

I'm fed up again. My daughter took this photo of our one cat sticking her tongue out. I figured, with a little modification, it suited my mood at the moment.

So I'm just going to blow a cat raspberry at all those miserable people out there trying to drag me down into their stagnant, reeking pools of misery. Somehow, even as pessimistic as I can be, I have more hope for life, the universe, and everything than that. I certainly hope I'm better than that.

Our cat actually DOES blow raspberries on occasion. How talented is that? Then again, maybe she's just copying what her daddy's been known to do.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Understanding and Tolerance

The following words of wisdom came out of comments I made in a recent on-line discussion. The thoughts may be a bit simplistic, but I think there's still truth in these words. Truth enough anyway to share with others. Food for thought for all those "Joe Six Packs" and "Intellectual Elitists" out there. So here goes...

With knowledge comes understanding. With understanding comes tolerance.

With ignorance comes intolerance.

And intolerant ignoramuses are just plain schmucks!

I Lived in a Haunted House

Our former family home was haunted. Some may question the reality of ghosts and hauntings, but I don't have the luxury of disbelief. I feel there is no other explanation for some of the things my wife, my daughter and I all experienced while living in that house. Although some of the occurrences were probably associated more with us than the location, the site did seem incredibly active. I'm sure I've already made mention of some of these encounters with the paranormal, but since it's October, I thought I would present a more thorough overview.

When we worked on painting the home, prior to moving in, the kitchen lights seem to have come on by themselves. We didn't think much of it at the time, until we started experiencing other types of phenomenon.

Quite frequently, we would see a pale grey, human-like shadow standing in the vestibule between the dining room and kitchen. It was often accompanied by a cold spot and static. There was nothing that could logically be casting the shadow, but it appeared quite often. We figured it was the home's former owner come to check on the place. He never did much but stand there. It was as if he didn't really want to disturb us.

We heard the sound of a game of marbles being played. This sound, coming from the floor and the walls in the dining room, ceased when I dug a bunch of marbles out of the intake vent in the dining room. However, I don't feel that the marbles had actually been moving around because they were buried in thick dust and stuck in cracks in the vent.

We would also hear footsteps upstairs when no one was there. My wife and daughter often heard footsteps upstairs when I was napping or sleeping late. And I don't sleepwalk, so it wasn't me. And I heard the footsteps once or twice when I was home alone, although my wife and daughter heard them more often than I did. Again, the footsteps would be accompanied by a cold spot and static charge. At times you just knew when you walked through someone, even if you didn't see or hear anything.

There was a time both my wife and I heard a woman's laughter coming from an empty room. It was perhaps the clearest disembodied voice I've heard yet. Strangle enough, our daughter didn't hear it, although she was right next to us at the time. The window and storm window in the room were both shut, there are no radios or vents in the room, and we never heard the neighbours that loud and clear, so the source of the laughter remains a mystery.

The living room would frequently come alive with darting, luminous orbs. We would see several shoot across the room. This occurred most often towards the end of our grey cat's life, when she was ill for two years (she didn't seem to suffer until the very end, when we finally had her put to sleep).

Ghost cats, both known and unknown, also appeared when our cat was ill. My wife recognized her former cat, one that had been dead for years. We figured they had come to take our poor elderly kitty to the other side, but she hung on for months, refusing to go just yet. And when she did finally pass, she came back when our black and white, part Siamese cat was ill. My daughter even saw our deceased grey cat transform into a grey orb!

The black and white cat appeared frequently after her death, sometimes in a brief but complete visions, and sometimes only in bits and pieces. One time her ears were sticking out of the wall to drive her "loyal doofus" (our German shepherd/Chow Chow mix) crazy. The dog couldn't quite understand why she couldn't follow her best friend. She actually happens to be one of the spirits that followed us to our new home.

My daughter claimed to see several odd apparitions in the yard and on the porch, everything from tall black figures to my doppelganger. She even saw a man dressed in red, in clothes we later determined wouldn't have been out of place in the 17th century!

A few times, if I entered our bedroom in the dark, I would swear I saw a black shadow rush at me. It would swoop across the floor and get right in my face before dissipating. I always felt as if I someone were right there, and react defensively to the sight. At first I attributed it to a trick of the eye or a trick of lighting, but after my daughter reported a black figure in the window of that room the day we moved out of that house, I'm not so sure.

Strange faces and figures first appeared on my computer's desktop background in that house. However, I don't know if there is a connection, since they still appear on occasion. They might be interested in what I'm doing, and not necessarily associated with any one location.

Based on the impressions we got towards the end of our stay there, and the fact that my daughter saw a black something that she still refuses to describe, we got out of there in the nick of time. A neutral haunting seemed to be turning into something evil.

We have some activity in our new home, but nothing like we had before. Our cat still come by, we have occasional sounds at the door, and my computer screen friends still pop in, but we don't feel anything evil here. We can live with an occasional strange noise or supernatural visitor, as long as it's nothing too negative.