Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ISFDB: Nice Idea, Frustrating System

Has anyone out there figured out how to add or edit publications on the ISFDB? My knowledge of entering and editing such databases is woefully lacking, and I get lost trying to figure it out on my own. Their help pages were no real help to me. Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe it's becoming harder to teach this old dog new tricks.

I like the idea of having a fairly comprehensive speculative fiction database, but I think assuming that authors and artists will have the time and the ability to enter their own data is a bit of a flawed assumption. I've had over one-hundred poems published over the past four years, along with a number of interior illustrations and a handful of cover-artworks. Many of these publications have been speculative in nature, but not all. Frankly, I don't have the time to figure out how the ISFDB database works and then spend hours (if not days) entering my plethora of publications, especially if I'm expected to enter the ToCs of all the zines and anthologies my work has appeared in (Hungur, Sounds of the Night, Abandoned Towers, Illumen, Tales of the Talisman, Wondrous Web Worlds Vol. 8, Arcane Whispers Volumes 1 & 2, A Time To...Volume 3, Lost Innocence: A Niteblade Anthology 2007-2008, etc. etc. etc.).

Unfortunately, as it stands now, my ISFDB bilbiography is dreadfully incomplete. As a matter of fact, it only lists my cover-art for the January 2011 OG's Speculative Fiction, my interior illustration "Gothic Window", and my poems "Gothic Window", "The Accursed Castle", and "Things in the Swamp". Some pretty big things are missing, like my cover-artworks for Shelly Bryant's poetry collection Under the Ash (published in 2010 by Sam's Dot Publishing), David C. Kopaska-Merkel's poetry collection Brushfires (also published in 2010 by Sam's Dot Publishing), and Abandoned Towers, Issue #3, July 2009. My repeated contributions to several magazines are missing, apparently because whole magazines are missing. The Sam's Dot zines Aoife's Kiss and Champagne Shivers seem to be listed, but where are the Sam's Dot zines Hungur, Sounds of the Night, Scifaikuest, and Illumen? The lack of a listing for Hungur also means that my dark speculative story "Vengeance of the Alpe", published in Hungur, Issue 11, All Souls' Night 2010, is nowhere to be found. Tales of the Talisman seems to be listed somewhere in the database, but why don't the poems I've had published in that particular zine ("Galactic Road Trip" in Tales of the Talisman, Volume IV Issue 1, Summer 2008, and "When Wizards Dream at Night" in Tales of the Talisman, Volume IV Issue 4, Spring 2009) show up in my ISFDB bibliography?

I'm sure I'm griping over nothing; after all, I have a list of my publications here (toward the bottom of the page). It just annoys me. I guess I get annoyed far too easily nowadays.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trojan Eagle, Again!

Today on our constitutional, Michele and I saw a bald eagle soaring over the bend in the Hudson River just north of Troy, about a block or so from our current place of residence. This is the second bald eagle we've seen in the area of the river bend, and the third we've seen in the general vicinity of Troy. There were a couple of other instances that were "maybe" sightings, but in those cases the birds were not positively identified. This is the third time we were able to positively identify the bird seen as a bald eagle. We caught a clear sight of the white tail and head. At one point, as if to show off, the eagle soared right over our heads.

So far, all our sightings of Trojan eagles have been of solitary birds. They could be birds simply passing through; after all, there are a number of eagles along the Hudson River south of the Capital District. However, I'm hoping that our repeated sightings are an indication that eagles are scouting out this area for potential breeding sites, and we may have a breeding pair in the area soon. There are certainly plenty of fish and various types of waterfowl around for the eagles to eat, and plenty of large cottonwoods and other riverside trees for the eagles to roost in. As long as they are left alone, they may just settle here. That would be cool!

We also saw a turkey vulture flying fairly low over the river a little while after the eagle soared off. It was interesting to have a sighting of both birds within a few minutes of one another and be able to compare and contrast their distinguishing features. As dramatic as turkey vultures can appear when seen fairly close-up, they are not nearly as majestic-looking as eagles.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Online Portfolio

Thanks to the free portfolios available through deviantART, I now have an on-line portfolio featuring my artwork and illustrations here:
Azure Lion Productions: Richard H. Fay - Artist/Illustrator.

It's nothing fancy, but it does enable me to feature some of my best published science fiction, fantasy, and horror pieces in a decent on-line gallery. It's something I can link to, if need be.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Future "Artist of the Week"

It looks like I will be featured in a forthcoming "Artist of the Week" piece over at The Gloaming. The editor said that the images I submitted, four samples of my sci-fi/horror filler art, are very intriguing. She also sent me a series of interview questions to answer.

Talking about myself is always difficult, but I think I'm getting better at it. Anyway, the images the editor has in hand (or should that be "in in-box"?) are good examples of my black-and-white pen-and-ink work, so they can do some of the talking for me.

As always, I'll post a link when the piece profiling me and my art is posted. Of course, to be profiled, I had better answer those interview questions first!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another "Nice" Rejection

The other day, I received another rejection that, while still frustrating, contained a nugget of nicety that lessened the pain a bit. In an obvious personal reply, the editor said that he and his co-editor really like my art, but it just doesn't match the stories they have accepted for publication. Apparently, my pieces are too traditional for the written works they are currently publishing.

Yes, my style may lean toward the traditional, since my tastes seem to wander in that very same direction. I may be able to go in a more non-traditional and unconventional direction (I would say that "Surreal Landscape" was rather unconventional, as compared to my usual), but without something to guide me, I would probably get lost. The editor suggested that I read some of the sample stories on their web site. I tried this, but I my inner-artist ends up wanting to create imagery specifically for those stories. It's hard for me to judge what specific images to create using just the broad palette of stylistic preferences. In other words, I could potentially create something based on what I get out of sample stories, but there are still no guarantees what I come up with will match other stories the publication plans to publish in future issue.

By the way, I am willing to compose art on assignment. Sometimes it's easier to match the art to the stories that way. It certainly gives me a better idea of what an editor or publisher wants. Trying to match art to stories based on a general sense of style and theme can be hard, at least for me. I find it difficult to compose imagery for stories I haven't read, although I was able to come up with cover-art for David C. Kopaska-Merkel's Brushfires with just the title and the knowledge that it was a collection of speculative poetry.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"A Haunted House" in APHELION

For what it's worth...

My poem "A Haunted House", which was originally published in the Halloween 2007 issue of Tales from the Moonlit Path, has now been posted in the March 2011 issue of the web-zine Aphelion. It's always nice when something of mine appears in more than one venue. I've seen on-line publications vanish from cyberspace due to the sites updating or dying, so I'm beginning to spread my work around a bit. I figure doing so will give my works a better chance of remaining on-line.

As for this poem in particular..."A Haunted House" is a series of horrorku I wrote in 2007. If I were to write the same series today, I would undoubtedly use less words, especially in some of the "middle lines" of some of the individual horrorku. The piece seems a bit wordy to me now, but it seemed fine when I wrote it. I guess that's a sign of a poet's art developing and evolving.

Anyway, if you didn't check this one out back in October 2007, check it out now!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crazy-Net: The REAL Waste of Time

What are the real wasters of time and energy? Internet discussions that are hardly real discussions at all, discourses that lead only to anger and frustration, they are the real time-eaters and energy-drainers.

These things aren't worth the aggravation. They certainly aren't worth the hours of my life lost. I should know to keep clear of that dismal mud-hole, but I always seem to slip back into the muck. Will I ever learn to keep to a less miry path? (shakes head and bemoans the day lost to the crazy quagmire)

Start Big?

A writer who says they only submit material to pro venues and will not submit material to "lesser" venues because they value their work seems to me to be akin to:

- a stage performer who says they only take parts in Broadway productions and will not take parts in off-Broadway productions because they value their performing ability

- a film actor who says they only take starring roles and will not take supporting parts because they value their acting ability

- a rock musician who says they only play stadiums and will not play clubs because they value their musical ability

- a classical musician who says they only play for major orchestras and will not play for a local orchestra because they value their musical ability

- an artist who says they only have their art shown in major museum galleries and will not have their art shown in a local museum gallery because they value their artistic ability.

Do you truly think that off-Broadway performers, supporting actors, bands playing clubs, or local musicians and artists value their talents any less than those of a "higher" status? I seriously doubt it. As a matter of fact, I suspect that a number of those of a "higher status" started out in the "lesser" venues.

Not every performer will be a Broadway star. Not every actor will be a Hollywood star. Not every rock band will play stadiums. Not every classical musician will play in major orchestras. Not every artist will have their works featured in major museums. Should those that don't make it big right off the bat do nothing gainful with their talent while hoping to make it big some day (if ever)? Doing nothing gainful until you make it big seems to be a rather ludicrous course of action, but in the writing world, certain writers will tell you just that - if you don't sell to the "pros", don't bother selling anywhere else at all. "Pro or nothing" appears to be one of the mantras of the moment.

I think, because you can potentially start big in writing (all you need is that one big sale, or so the thought goes), some now believe that you must start big. That seems to go against the grain of the rest of the world, but perhaps writing is vastly different than other endeavours. Based on some of the things I've witnessed, I'm beginning to believe that writing is an alternate universe all to its own.

By the way, I see this whole idea as related to the notion that you must start your career with that high-pay, high-status job, that you need not work your way up the ladder. Unfortunately, things rarely work that way in the "real world".

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Something Versus Nothing

It seems to me to be a greater waste of effort, time, and creativity to let writing or art that isn't the right flavour or style for the "pros" go completely to waste than to see such things published in "lesser" venues. It seems to me that having something to show for one's work, publication-wise and monetary-wise, is better than having nothing whatsoever to show for it at all (other than "trunked" writing and artwork that no one outside of one's immediate family will ever read or see).

Personally, I would rather have something versus nothing. I would rather keep making my "fanzine" sales than make no sales whatsoever. I would rather make some money, however "token" it may be, versus making no money at all. Hoping to break into the pros someday is fine and dandy, but what about today? What does one do in the meantime? Does one let opportunities to make some sales, to make some money, to see some publications, pass on by because they aren't of the "proper" status for "right and proper" (i.e. "real") writers and artists?

To suggest that my one-hundred-plus poetry publications, handful of non-fiction publications, fifty-plus illustration publications, and four or five small press cover-art publications have somehow been less-than-worthwhile because they have been in a mix of "4 the luv" venues, "fanzines", and small presses, seems to me to smack of status-obsession, arrogance, and snobbery. Actually, it's downright absurd, not to mention insulting.

Some state that they only sub to pro places because they value their work. Well, God-damn it, I value my work, too! Apparently, so do the small-press editors and publishers that have bought and published my work. I'm sick and tired of being made to feel like I've wasted the past four years of my life, that my work in those four years has amounted to nothing. Perhaps I'm lacking in self-confidence. Perhaps a small part of me buys into that whole argument that only pro-sales are worthwhile. Or, perhaps this whole publication-thing is just driving me batty.

Wasting My Time?

So, has everything I've done up to this point, writing and illustration-wise, just been a terrible waste of time?

The reason I ask this is because I've been involved in a discussion which has arrived at the worth (or lack thereof) of submitting material to "lesser" venues, those below the level of the "pros". Yet again, a pro writer has suggested that nothing below the "pros" is truly worthwhile, that subbing to "lesser" venues isn't worth it (in terms of readership, and possibly for other reasons as well).

So, should I have waited several more years before I saw any of my art and writing in print, if any of it ever saw publication at all? Should I have turned down those chances of making $5, $10, $20, $30, or even $50 , and instead worked on the long-shot of making ten times that? It would be nice, but I have to be realistic here; my chances of my style (art and writing) fitting in the handful of pro zines out there is slim to none. More than one "lesser" zine has shown repeated interest in my art and poetry. More than one has paid me for my efforts. Alas, it looks like it still amounts to nothing in the end.

Maybe I should just give in and give up. Maybe I should finally wake up and realise that all my work so far has been an exercise in wasting time. All I really have to show for my work is empty worthlessness. I guess I'm just too much of a stubborn moron to admit it.

My head hurts now, and I can feel the blood boiling in my veins. I'm getting rather fed up with the publication world again. This happens every so often. I really have to start looking into artistic outlets outside of the realm of publication, just so I can have an escape from publication once in a while. Zazzle is a start (even with my lack of pro-credits, I do sell stuff featuring my art through Zazzle), but I have to find more than just Zazzle.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Found Via Google Alerts...

There are times some strange things pop up in the Google alerts I have set to alert me of web-things featuring my name. Usually the strangest things have nothing whatsoever to do with me (there are many Richard Fay's out there). However, today I received an alert linking to this:
Vernon's Blog: anglo-saxon warrior

Scrolling down the page a bit, I found images of the mug and stein featuring my "Anglo-Saxon Warrior" from my Azure Lion Productions Zazzle Store. The caption of one image credits me as the artist (the caption is actually the product write-up lifted directly from my store), but the other caption does not (the line crediting me was left off).

So, the question is, what do I do about this, if anything? I have already done something; I left a comment on the blog in question requesting that the blogger either link the images to my store, or take them down. I figure any chance to get linkage for the store is a good thing.

"Nice" Rejection

Sometimes, I receive a rejection that contains some comment that softens the blow a bit. In a recent rejection, an editor said this about the rejected poem:
"it bears your most excellent stamp".

Excellent stamp, eh? That's a nice little ego-boost. It makes me think I might actually know what I'm doing. Unfortunately, the very same piece that contained my "excellent stamp" did not grab the editor enough for inclusion in the next issue of the magazine. They did ask if I had anything else in the works, which always gives me hope that the next piece I come up with will actually have a strong enough grasp to grab the editor and hang on until it sees publication.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Filler Art Markets?

Anyone out there know of any markets/publications/venues that might be interesting in purchasing sci-fi-type filler art (small pieces that could fit at the bottom of a page)? I have four pieces that I created recently, a couple of them on the "dark and creepy" side, that were turned down by the market I made them for. Unfortunately, I don't know of any other markets interested in sci-fi art in this particular format. I've been in this position before. This isn't the first time that I've created drawings to a certain format (size and dimensions) that don't get used by the place I made them for, and then I'm left not knowing what to do with the art once it's turned down.

A list of potential markets for such things would be greatly appreciated. I hate feeling like I did all that work for nothing, but that feeling may be all too common a feeling in the world of publication.

Poems to Appear in APHELION

A bunch o' my poems are slated to appear in Aphelion over the next few months, including a couple of previously unpublished pieces. As it stands now, it looks like "Wondrous Gobbledygook", a piece that I had posted on my web-site (when I had a web-site) will appear in the April 2011 issue of Aphelion. "Souls Adrift", which was originally published in Fear and Trembling on April 8, 2010, will appear in the May 2011 issue. "Peg Powler", which was originally published in Bewildering Stories on December 1, 2008, will appear in the June 2011 issue. "Death's Ship", a previously unpublished piece, will appear in the July 2011 issue. "Last Thoughts of a Cosmic Fighter Pilot", another previously unpublished piece, will appear in the August 2011 issue. "Wandering Ole Willow", which was originally published in Bewildering Stories on January 26, 2009, will appear in the September 2011 issue. "Life is the Life", which was originally published in The Monsters Next Door, Contest Issue 4.5, November 15, 2008, will appear in the October 2011 issue.

As always, I'll post links as each poem goes on-line at Aphelion.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Niteblade Art Blog: The Fantastic Art of Andres Canals

Today, I posted a new entry in the Niteblade Art Blog, in the Niteblade News section of the Niteblade website. This time around, I feature "The Fantastic Art of Andres Canals".

I must say, I was quite impressed by Andres's work. The mood conveyed by the overall composition deftly matches the subject-matter of each piece, and some of the finer details contained within those compositions are amazing. His work has the look of traditionally-rendered fantasy art, but come to find out, Andres combines traditional and digital methods.

Being an unabashed Tolkien fan, I was especially impressed by Andres's "Warg Riders". The whole composition oozes beastial fury (the background has a rather hirsute look that echoes the bristling fur of the wargs), and the wargs actually look like wolves!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"Something in the Yew" in parABnormal Digest Issue 1

My dark speculative poem "Something in the Yew" has been published in the premiere issue of the Sam's Dot magazine parABnormal Digest. This is the poem that was almost published in Doorways, a poem that has been in submission and publication limbo since October 2007. After travelling down such a long and winding road, I am greatly relieved that this one has finally arrived at publication.

The poem was inspired by the lore that the dark and dense foliage of yews provided shelter for supernatural entities. I can see why people thought this; there was a rather creepy-looking yew tree at our former place of residence that seemed an appropriate home for something strange and unnatural. Our dog always seemed on alert when near that tree. One day, while taking our dog for a walk, Michele noticed that crows flying overhead perched in other trees, but refused to perch in the yew. That bit of oddness provided the initial spark of inspiration that led to "Something in the Yew".

Issue 1 of parAbnormal Digest is available for purchase in various electronic formats at Smashwords. Print copies of parAbnormal Digest, Issue 1, are available through the Genre Mall.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rejection #5

My wizardly fantasy story, the one I wanted to write versus the one I apparently should have written for today's markets, has received rejection number five. If the message sent by the editors isn't just a form rejection, then my story apparently caught their attention. Catching the attention of editors is a good thing; it's the first step toward potential publication. However, after consideration, the editors at this particular publication decided they couldn't use the piece.

Of course, the editors might say that in every rejection. The message could simply have been their standard form rejection. I don't know, but I would like to cling to the hope that my story actually did catch their attention. Like I said, it's a start toward publication. Now I just have to catch the attention of the right editors at the right venue.

Time to find potential market number six. Fingers crossed! (My fingers are getting sore from being crossed so many times - damn rheumatoid arthritis!)