Monday, November 30, 2009

Zazzle Merchandise Makes Great Gifts

Just a quick note, Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store items featuring my art and designs would make great holiday gifts. And I do get a share of the profits from each sale of items featuring my work.

C'mon, make my Christmas just a little bit brighter by brightening Christmas for your family and friends by giving the gift of art this year. There are a lot of different images to choose from, from the surreal to the historical, from the folkloric to the fantastic. And the items available range from binders to stickers, from aprons to t-shirts.

Check it out!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

West Dingleton's Loss of Humanity

Illustration Copyright © 2009 Richard H. Fay

West Dingleton's Loss of Humanity

It all started with a strange cloud,
A nebulous mist of colours
Glowing faintly
In the night.

An aurora in the east
Some suggested.
Electrically charged fog
Others said.
Ambient mood lighting
A few joked.

It descended upon the sleepy town
In a dull rainbow shroud.
Noises were muffled,
Bare flesh
No one worried too much
Until the changes began.

Subtle hints appeared at first,
Crooked eyes,
Drooping lips,
Peculiar warts,
Odd tufts of hair.
Deformities soon multiplied
And grew more and more grotesque.
Limbs twisted,
Noses dropped off,
Mouths expanded into
Gaping maws,
Bulbous lumps of human flesh
Sprouted vestigial limbs.
Their minds remained clear
As their bodies were corrupted.
Tears fell
While tears could still fall.

Word of the calamity soon spread.
Surrounding communities panicked.
The outside world
Shunned the town,
Barricaded roads,
Protected mankind.
Plans were made
To wipe out the creatures,
Destroy the mutations,
Cleanse the land.

The poor people of West Dingleton
Had become something different,
Something monstrous,
Something dangerous,
Something alien,
No longer human.

Or did they?

(Poem originally published in Bewildering Stories Issue 256, August 20,2007.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Another Illustration Published

Just a quick note: my illustration for "Holiday on Phreetum Prime" now appears alongside the poem in the on-line version of Abandoned Towers.

Now back to composing more art and poetry (I'm currently working on an illustration for my speculative poem "West Dingleton's Loss of Humanity").

Sunday, November 22, 2009


by Richard H. Fay
Ink on Bristol board, digitally coloured

The above illustration now accompanies Doug Hilton's story "A Brief History of the Internut" in the on-line version of Abandoned Towers. It also appears on merchandise in the Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store. This merchandise features various "green" phrases and messages in an attempt to use the image to tie-in with environmentally conscious concepts.

I had to dig up pics of an old computer and a peanut plant for this one. Even after I found images to use as references, I wasn't sure at first if the concept requested by the author of the story would work. However, once I drew the computer, the plant, and the roots, I realised that it almost had a "Dali-esque" feel to it. It's certainly on the weird side.

Weird often works for me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What I Want for Christmas

My mother-in-law, who is more of a mother to me than my own mother, asked what I wanted for Christmas. I told her I wanted this:
Super Pro Edition 1/24 VsTank Pro PanzerKampwagen German Tiger I Late Production Desert Brown Airsoft Radio Remote Control Battle Tank.

Yeah, I'm a kid at heart, and a World War II armour buff to boot! When I had the time for such things, I used to build plastic armoured fighting vehicle models from kits. I still have a few of the models I put together on display, along with some decent-quality ready-built ones. However, I always wanted an RC tank, especially a Tiger. There's something especially bad-ass about the Tiger tank.

Well, my mother-in-law ordered the tank. So, it looks like I'm going to get to play like a kid come this Christmas morn. I'm excited!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"The Sheerie" in APHELION

My speculative cinquain "The Sheerie" has been published in the November 2009 issue of the web-zine Aphelion. Check it out!

In case anyone was wondering, I once again dip into the well of fairy folklore for inspiration. More specifically, I again delve into the connections between the realm of fairy and the realm of the dead. The sheerie are said to be the spirits of unbaptised children imbued with dark fairy magic and dangerously jealous of the living. They appear as tiny beings shimmering with a corpse-light glow, or dark goblins carrying burning lengths of straw, or nothing more than glimmering lights darting about in the fashion of will-of-the-wisps. No matter the form they take, the sheerie delight in causing the living misfortune. They have the power to derange unprotected humans, often with fatal consequences.

The sheerie are definitely not butterfly-winged Tinkerbells. As a matter of fact, they're downright menacing. It's best to carry a crucifix or a bit of iron when travelling about during twilight, especially near fairy hills or boggy ground, just in case the sheerie are roving the countryside. Following those corpse-light brands will lead you astray, and may even lead to your death.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Trouble with Freelancing.... there are never any guarantees. Even a "sure thing" can suddenly go down in flames, or so my recent experience indicates.

During most of last week, I was busily working on the illustrations for a book of short stories that was supposed to be published by a publisher I've worked with on a regular basis. The author of the collection in question had requested that I do the art for the book, and the publisher agreed that I was the best illustrator for the job. I was to do four new interior illustrations, plus the cover art. An illustration and a diagram I did for one of the author's previously published stories would also have been included. It appeared to be a good opportunity for me to flex my artistic muscles. Not to mention, I was to get paid for this project.

I had finished one illustration, received the author's approval of the image (he actually said "wow"), and made darned good progress on a second. However, it seems all was for naught.

This morning, the publisher e-mailed me with a rather disturbing message. She said that work on the book has come to a screeching halt, due to the fact that she and the author had a rather tense discussion about whether or not she was going to publish it! She no longer wants me to do any work on the illustrations for the book in question.

As Charlie Brown would say, "good grief". Or, to put it more bluntly and crudely, "what the hell?".

I will admit to being rather miffed over this latest bad news. If things have fallen apart beyond any chance of repair, what do I now do with an illustration of an upside-down welcome sign dissolving into a psychedelic swirl? And do I still go ahead and finish the illustration of an old computer sitting in a farmer's field with roots coming out its bottom and a peanut plant growing out of its top? It was looking so cool, almost "Dali-esque" in a way, that I'm reluctant to abandon it now. Even so, perhaps the best thing to do is to cut my loses and chalk it all up to experience.

Yes, I'm pretty frustrated. It seems I wasted a week's worth of work for nothing. Admittedly, lately I've been drawing slower than usual, although the fact that I had to dig up images of old computers and peanut plants to use as references is partly to blame for my snail's pace. Of course, in some ways I'm glad I didn't make better progress in regard to this particular project. It would just have meant more drawings would now be in limbo.

Coming right on the heels of a second rejection of my eighty-line poem about a ghoulish vampire based on alpine lore, this latest bad news has made me wonder if any of this is worth it. In some ways, this is even more frustrating than a rejection of my work, since my art was never the problem. In this case, the flighty and often insane nature of the publication business is the true problem.

I guess this is just more proof that I have to continue the effort to expand my horizons and find more art venues, even though that is proving to be yet another frustrating venture. And I worry it might end up being a venture in futility.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Holiday on Phreetum Prime

Holiday on Phreetum Prime

by Richard H. Fay

Twin red suns rise over a crimson sea
As wudols twitter a raucous chorus
Amongst the majestic etafal trees.
Saunter beneath the weeping purple fronds
And sip a cup of sytunn flower tea
While wine-stained waters kiss a chartreuse shore.

Sail the ruby waves on a solar sloop.
Watch black-winged tijucks fish for mugaspits.
Feel the droning hum of an ulorn's song
As it dives right under your silver ship.
Weigh anchor beside Glastornak Island
And marvel at its tall crystalline spires.

Return to your quaint cliff side veranda
In time to see the blue shubiyemps dance.
Laugh at their crazy mating rituals,
But then shed a tear when the males drop dead.
Join the joyous feast and masquerade
To honour the fatal change of seasons.

Rest quietly beneath the yellow gaze
Of Phreetum Prime's seething volcanic moon.
Spy golden sprites flaring in the night sky
As ion storms clash in the stratosphere.
Be lulled to sleep by a burgana's trill
As a soft breeze blows across the dark sea.

(Poem originally published in Star*Line, March/April 2008)

Illustration available on merchandise in the Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store

Sunday, November 8, 2009

J. Bruce Fuller's Article about Persona

J. Bruce Fuller posted a very interesting article about persona in horror poetry:
Imagination and Persona in Horror Poetry
His points about using persona in horror poetry can apply equally well to speculative poetry in general.

Speculative poets often speak through an imaginary or historical narrator. I don't think most speculative poetry is meant to be confessional verse, at least not it the usual sense of the term. Speculative poets frequently take on the voices of others, and these others need not even be human. Speculative poets might speak with the voices of aliens, or fairies, or demons, or mythical beasts, or mundane animals, or even objects traditionally seen as inanimate. It should be obvious that the poets haven't actually turned into such things. It should be obvious that the poets are imagining. However, the concept of confessional poetry has muddied those waters, and the line between imagined and real might not always be clear to all readers or listeners, especially when speculative poets speak with voices all too human.

I've used this idea of persona again, and again, and again in my own speculative verse. I'm certainly not a demonic serpent ("Serpent of Storms") or a life-draining vampiric entity ("Life is the Life"), or a killer being driven to madness and suicide by visions of the face of the lover he killed ("Your Bloody Face"), or a bleak haunted island ("The Haunted Isle"). However, I spoke as if I were a demonic serpent, or a life-draining vampiric entity, or a killer, or a haunted island. I think the ability to speak in the voice of another is just as important to fictional poetry as it it to prose fiction. And it's one of the creative techniques that can set speculative verse apart from mainstream.

Not all poetry need be confessional, at least not personally confessional. Unfortunately, I think some poets seem to think otherwise. They apparently think poetry is, by it's very nature, confessional. And this can lead to a misunderstanding of speculative verse.

During one of the Poet's Live Corners I attended, after I stated that I had some dark speculative pieces to read, one of the other poets present mentioned the time they had a poet show up and read poetry about murder and mayhem. I got the impression that they had been shocked by this poet's material, as if it were almost confessional in nature. Did they truly have a murderer in their midst? I doubt it. I had to smile, knowing the dark and often diabolic nature of much of my own verse. Does that mean I'm a dark and diabolic person? Of course not!

Just because a poet writes about bloody murder doesn't make that poet a bloody murderer. There is such a thing as imagination. However, I think my experience at the Live Poet's Corner exemplifies the lack of understanding speculative poets and poetry occasionally face within the broader poetry community. And this is why I often explain the type of poetry I write before I begin reading it in public.

One of the first things a reader or listener of speculative poetry must understand is that such verse is imaginative verse. The poet isn't confessing so much as imagining (although confession may still be buried beneath the imaginative trappings). Unfortunately, if you operate under the notion that poetry is confessional by default, you might misunderstand the concept of persona in speculative poetry. You might not fully realise that the speculative poet is speaking as someone else, that they are imagining. And that means you miss the whole point.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Editing is Censorship

Stephen Colbert said it - editing is censorship. He stated this fact while interviewing his guest Harold Evans:

So, all you editors out there, stop being censors! Don't filter what readers want to read! Don't filter what brilliant writers, poets, reporters, and hacks want to write! (I say with an impish grin on my face and a mischievous glint in my eye - there are always blogs for the truly brilliant stuff.)

Bigfoot not an Ape...

...if it truly exists, at least according to the primatologist Esteban Sarmiento:

While I may be no primatologist, and only have a B.S. in Biology, this is something I've been saying quietly for years. For all their wildness, in some ways Sasquatches look and act too human to be in the great ape branch of the bushy primate family tree. I always thought Bigfoot was closer to us than it was to the gorilla, appearances aside. I only briefly bought into the "Gigantopithecus theory", then discarded it in my own mind after Bubba the Bigfoot moved into our former neighbourhood.

Some of Bubba the Bigfoot's apparent actions, untying garbage bags and stacking food wrappers dug from the bags in a neat pile, leaving sticks beside the garage door, and having the wits to roam the wooded hills on the outskirts of North Troy relatively undetected (he learned to quiet right down not too long after his initial noisy arrival) seemed very human-like. It certainly weren't no bear! And I know of no known animal around here big enough to howl like Bubba howled that first night.

Oh well. If only most scientists would stop being as extreme in their views as certain religious extremists, if they started being as open-minded as they claim to be, if they stopped proclaiming that Bigfoot couldn't possibly exist and actually looked carefully at the mountain of evidence gathered so far, then maybe we could have some real interesting talk about WHAT the Sasquatches truly are, rather than this endless debate about whether or not they even exist. Personally, I don't have the luxury of disbelief; I've had some interesting close-encounters, and my wife actually caught sight of Bubba once. Should I call my wife a liar or a nutter, especially when she's the no-nonsense, level-headed one in the house? And how dare scientists try to tell us we must be mistaken because it simply cannot be, according to current scientific dogma? Shame on them!

Anyone catch the mid-season finale of Destination Truth last night? Anyone catch the true importance of the hair sample Josh Gates and his team recovered from Bhutan? Hair was found that was determined to be from an unknown primate, in an area where locals have claimed a primate still unknown to science has lived for centuries. Hm...

Yeti CAN'T be real because? Sasquatch CAN'T be real because? We MUST believe science has discovered all large animals because? Cuvier's "rash dictum" has been proven wrong again, and again, and again, and again. Why must scientists still adhere to this rather pompous notion? I understand the need for evidence, but in these days of DNA extraction and analysis, not to mention the scientific analysis of footprints and the like, why must the proof necessarily be in the form of a corpse? At the very least, don't the other forms of evidence warrant further investigation, or has science become so stodgy that it can only explore within already-known parameters? Whatever happened for searching for the truth? I thought self-evident truths were for preachers and lawyers.

And for those of you who think Bigfoot couldn't stay hidden in the wilds of North America, go take a trip to the Adirondacks sometime, or even the Catskills. And that's nothing compared to the Pacific Northwest.

I once stayed hidden from a troop of neighborhood delinquents, who had seen me in the woods behind my parents' house outside of Oneonta, NY. The group set off to find me. They stayed on the trail; I stayed behind a fallen log. I kept my eyes on them the whole time; they looked for me but never found me.

All the time I spent in the woods of upstate New York, I think I found deer bones only once. I never found the bones of some of the rarer residents. Bones are devilishly hard to find in the forest; nature cleans up the mess pretty quickly. Porcupines gnaw on bones, leaf litter covers them, and they quickly become hidden and recycled.

As for tracks, these are hard to come by on a forest floor covered with thick layers of leaves, needles, and loam. Tracks are more typically found when the forest floor is blanketed in snow, or in muddy areas near streams, or on swampy ground. And often times, you only knew an animal was about by its tracks. I once saw bear tracks in the wild (a mother and cub walked right past my rabbit's cage one night), but I have yet to see a bear in the wild. Some have asked why we don't see Sasquatch tracks more often. I'm amazed we find the ones we do! And those tracks do have a tale to tell, if you are willing to listen to what they have to say.

As for the line "people are crawling all over those woods", rubbish! I could walk from my parents' home, across the hills through the woods to a friend's house several miles away, and never meet another human being. Once in a blue moon I would run into other local kids, but this only happened on very rare occasions. And I encountered a bow hunter only once (and didn't see him until he spoke, due to his camouflage). I stayed out of the woods during gun deer hunting season; it was too dangerous. Of course, if I knew to stay out of the woods during certain months of the year, perhaps another intelligent primate would have known to avoid the deer hunters.

Besides, Bubba is a perfect example of how a Bigfoot can live alongside humans. Apparently, they don't all need to remain in the deepest, darkest wood. Some can do quite well on the outskirts of human settlement, or even closer than that. And Bubba isn't the only garbage-eating Bigfoot I've heard about. He certainly wouldn't be the first wild animal to acquire a taste for human garbage.

Oh well, until there's a body to shove under scientists' noses, the official line will be "they don't exist". And people like me will just go on looking like nutters until we're finally proved right.
Tags: bigfoot, cryptozoology, sasquatch

Ouch! That Rejection Hurt!

I don't like to post about rejections as a rule, but I seem to be doing it a lot lately. And I just had to talk about this one, since it was perhaps a bigger blow than the usual rejection.

All five poems that I submitted for consideration in a vampire anthology, including three reprints, a cinquain chain of four cinquains about the Leanan-Sidhe, and an eighty-line piece about a ghoulish vampire of alpine lore, were turned down. I was really hoping the editor would find at least one of the five worthy for inclusion. The fact that he didn't makes me question my abilities as a poet. Having all five rejected at one fell swoop was quite a blow. Ouch!

I'm beginning to hate vampires, especially the contemporary image of vampires. I'm usually not overly interested in writing about vampires, unless prompted to do so. I especially hate the current perception of vampires as sexy-cool characters (although the Leanan-Sidhe is certainly seductive). I was hoping my poem about a ghoulish vampire of traditional lore would help reverse the trend, but perhaps it was a futile stand against the mighty torrent of popular thought. Or maybe it was simply a case of rotten execution. I thought the piece was good, but I've learned over these two-and-a-half years that my own judgment regarding my work means little to nothing.

Even though I'm usually a vocal exponent of the need for persistence and perseverance, this recent rejection has made me question this whole poetry-thing. Am I wasting my time? Is it worth it anymore?

My success seems inconsistent at best, and I wonder if I may merely be a mediocre speculative poet, all the praise from certain individuals aside. It's ironic when some people debate the old paying venues versus "4 the luv" markets issue, and I seem to struggle to find a home, any home, for certain poems. It's as if others have their choice of venues, and I just have to take what I can get. What the bloody hell am I doing so wrong? (Not that this antho was a paying market, but what was I doing wasting several days of my time writing an epic-length poem specifically for this antho, just to get it rejected? The time would have been better spent on art.)

Oh well. Don't mind me. I've been depressingly ill for days now. I had a cold early last week, then the flu just in time for Halloween, then another cold right after the flu. Crud settled in my lungs, and now I have a bad case of bronchitis. I'm sure my current state of unhealth is adding to my miserableness. That, and this lingering feeling that I'm wasting my time with poetry. It makes it hard to be motivated to write more.

Anyone know a market that might be interested in an eighty-line poem about a ghoulish vampire based on alpine folklore? Or how about a four-cinquain long cinquain chain about the Leanan-Sidhe?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"weeping tree" in SCIFAIKUEST

My horrorku "weeping tree" has been published in the on-line version of Scifaikuest. Check it out! (THIS should take you right to the horrorku page. Just scroll down the page to find my contribution.)

"Weeping tree" combines the concept of a weeping willow with the potentially dangerous, and possibly even murderous, animate willow of folklore (think Tolkien's Old Man Willow). I play a bit on the name weeping willow (although I never mention willow by name). Why does the tree weep? Perhaps it weeps for a bitter loss, one it must avenge.

Yes, I've been down the path of murderous willows before, but I love the concept so much (I like willow trees), I just had to go there again.

A Leviathan Ascendant in MindFlights

"A Leviathan Ascendant" now appears on the cover of the November 2009 issue of the e-zine MindFlights. Check it out!