Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cover-Art for October 2015 SPACEPORTS & SPIDERSILK

Hey, you out there! Yeah, I'm talking to you! Do you like monsters? Of course you do! Then make sure you check out the cover of the October 2015 issue of Spaceports & Spidersilk. It features my seasonally-appropriate scary-but-fun artwork "Monster in the Ruin".

Saturday, September 26, 2015

"Black Widow" Illustration and "Patient Black Widow" Horrorku

Here's something I did a few years back for an illustrated dark poetry collection that almost saw publication twice. However, in both instances, the publishers pulled out of publishing the collection. It did seem as if the collection was cursed. Anyway, this illustration was meant to go with a version of the following horrorku:

patient black widow
trapper waits in ragged web
straying men entrapped

Horrorku Copyright © 2011 Richard H. Fay

Though the illustration never saw publication, the horrorku did, in the twitter-zine microcosms, on October 23, 2011.
"Black Widow"

Friday, September 18, 2015

Zazzle Store zRank: I Don't Think I Like the Sound of This!

Apparently, Zazzle now has this zRank that has something to do with how well your store is optimized for their system. It's a ranking from 1-10, 1 being the least optimized, 10 being the most. Currently, my store is ranked at a measly 3. Though I would say I sell pretty well through my Richard Fay/Azure Lion Productions Zazzle Store (just this morning I sold a Late Medieval Sword Tie to a customer in Gothenburg, Sweden), it seems Zazzle's zRank algorithm considers more than mere sales. As a matter of fact, they say it is not a measurement of revenue. It looks to me as if they are pushing, among other things, creating and sharing "collections ".

Why is this important? Well, according to Zazzle:
"zRank is not currently factored into marketplace search results but will be in the near feature."
In other words, I take it to mean that products from lower ranked stores will appear lower down in marketplace search results, meaning stuff from lower-ranked stores might get lost in the crowd and never be seen by potential customers.

Good grief! It sounds like Zazzle is now playing Facebook-type algorithm games!

I hate to say it, but If Zazzle becomes too much of a time sink for me, if I have to do a lot more than design products to sell products featuring my art through Zazzle (and at this point, I DO sell through Zazzle), I might stop designing new products for my Zazzle store. There is always my Azure Lion Productions CafePress Shop. I already sell regularly through that shop, and I could start concentrating on that one instead of my Zazzle one. I've already gotten behind in adding new stuff to that shop, in part because I've been concentrating on my stores on other sites (like Zazzle).

I will see about creating and sharing some collections over on Zazzle, but I can't let it take up all of my time. Time is precious, and time wasted on creating collections is time lost creating new art and new products.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Alas, Too Many Americans Don't Understand Their Own Government

Three things have become clear to me recently:

1.) A number of Americans, especially those on the right of the political spectrum, do not understand about the different powers and responsibilities of the three branches of the U.S. Federal government (legislative, executive, and judicial). They seem particularly clueless about the whole concept of checks and balances.

2.) Too few Americans, especially those on the right of the political spectrum, have actually read the U. S. Constitution, and fewer still truly understand it.

3.) America desperately needs to improve American studies and civics education, since far too many Americans seem to lack a basic understanding of how their government actually works.

Recent events indicate that some Americans are in desperate need of civics lessons. They seem to believe that personal religious beliefs trump constitutional prohibitions against the government of the United States establishing a religion. They seem to believe that government employees in the United States may use their powers to impose their religious beliefs on others. Personally, I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America (i.e. the law of the land in the U.S. of A), specifically THIS:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

I also believe in the incorporation doctrine, which says that, through the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, select provisions of the Bill of Rights apply to state governments as well as to the Federal government.

Additionally, it's not that hard to understand the part the Supreme Court plays in the whole system of checks and balances. It's so easy kids could learn it

From the Congress for Kids site:

"...the Supreme Court may check Congress by declaring a law unconstitutional."

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Today's Horror Writers Don't Read Horror! Say What?

In a Facebook discussion about horror, someone had this to say about the horror writers of today:
"Today's horror writers haven't read any horror, only watched it."
I consider myself something of a writer of horror, both poetry and prose, and I've read quite a bit of horror fiction and poetry. I've read classics, such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, H. P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, W. W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw", Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" (one of my all-time favorite poems), John Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci", and the English translation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's "Der Erlkönig", as well as more contemporary material such as Stephen King's It, Salem's Lot, Pet Sematary, and Cycle of the Werewolf. As an artist and illustrator, I've even had a smattering of exposure to current horror fiction those times I've illustrated the works of other horror writers.

To be perfectly honest, I've probably read more horror short stories than horror novels. Over the years, I've read a number of horror fiction anthologies. Some of the horror anthologies in my personal library include:
The Monster Book of Monsters: 50 Terrifying Tales, edited by Michael O'Shaughnessy,
The Book of the Dead: 13 Classic tales of the Supernatural, edited by Alan K. Russell,
100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories, edited by Al Sarrantonio and Martin H. Greenberg,
Great Ghost Stories, selected and arranged by John Grafton,
and the Watermill Classic edition of Midnight Fright: A Collection of Ghost Stories.

I'm particularly fond of the classic "weird tales", and have read a plethora of weird fiction. Though not all weird tales are dark, many are. My personal library includes copies of the anthologies Weird Vampire Tales (edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Martin H. Greenberg, and Robert Weinberg), 100 Wild Little Weird Tales (edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Robert Weinberg and Stefan Dziemianowicz), and The Best of Weird Tales 1923 (edited by Marvin Kaye and John Gregory Betancourt). My personal library also contains just about every volume of Lovecraft's fiction printed by Del Ray/Ballantine Horror in the 1980s (the ones with the superbly creepy cover artworks by Michael Whelan), including The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre.

A good number of the horror writers and poets I've encountered over the past few years appear to be well read. They seem to be able to carry on fairly informed discussions about many of the standards of horror literature. I can't say I know many horror writers who haven't read quite a bit of horror fiction.

What say you, fellow horror writers? Have you read much horror fiction, or do you prefer to watch horror rather than read it?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

I Fail at Networking

A Facebook friend shared a link to this article by Jeff Goins on Medium:
The Unfair Truth About How Creative People Really Succeed

As I was reading the article, I got thinking about my biggest failure as a creative. I am NOT a people person and I am NOT good at making meaningful and lasting connections with other people. I've actually burned a lot of bridges and cut off access to a number of so-called "gatekeepers". My failure at making more than a mere handful of meaningful and lasting connections with people in the writing/publications world is one of the reasons I've decided to take a hiatus from doing work for publications so I can concentrate on art for my stores. That way, I can bypass many of the publication world "gatekeepers" and sell items featuring my art through various online stores. The publications side of things just wasn't doing enough for me, and I know some of that was my own fault for not being able to make enough meaningful connections.

I can sell merchandise featuring my artworks and designs internationally through Zazzle, CafePress, and Redbubble. I do so on a regular basis. I have also seen a number of poems, stories, and articles published in a variety of small-press publications. I've even had some works in "best of" anthologies. And yet, I can't seem to take my writing to the next level. I have some stories up in the Kindle Store, but other than copies I bought for myself, I've sold all of one copy. The reader who purchased that copy did give the story a five-star rating and left a positive review, but I just can't seem to sell my stories like I sell stuff featuring my art. Why is that? It might be because I just don't have much of a network behind me, supporting me, promoting my works. I do think there is something to this idea that networks and connections are key to success as a creative. It certainly seems true in the realm of creative writing.

Friday, September 4, 2015

"Reach for Your Heart"

Okay, everyone, what do you all think of my latest artwork, "Reach for Your Heart"?