Monday, March 30, 2015

Fun Sci-Fi Artwork on Cover of April 2015 SPACEPORTS & SPIDERSILK

My fun sci-fi artwork "Telling Tales" appears on the cover of the April 2015 issue of Spaceports & Spidersilk. I'm very pleased with this one. Check it out!

I think this is something like the 6th artwork of mine to appear on the cover/door of Spaceports & Spidersilk. I will add one more to that number in the fall. "Monster in the Ruin" was actually accepted for the fall issue before I created "Telling Tales" for the spring one. It works out that way sometimes.

Telling Tales (cover art)..........Spaceports & Spidersilk, April 2015 Issue, March 2015.

Under the Ice on Enceladus (cover art)..........Spaceports & Spidersilk, July 2014 Issue, June 2014.

They Come in Peace (cover art)..........Spaceports & Spidersilk, January 2014.

Peg Powler (cover art)..........Spaceports & Spidersilk, July 2013.

Kamal Del and the Dark Elemental (door art)..........Spaceports & Spidersilk, Vol. 5, No. 3, September 2012.

Crossing the Ertrixian Snowfields (door art)..........Spaceports & Spidersilk, December 2011.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Five Reprint Poems Accepted for Publication in APHELION

Although the poetry editor over at Aphelion said he prefers new content, he still accepted five of my previously published poems for publication in the next few issues. So, it looks like "Bluebell Spell", "Something in the Yew", "Breathless Dusk", "The Brownie", and "Never Ending Struggle" will be appearing in Aphelion.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kindle Edition of "Father Ryan's Fright"

Kindle edition of my Irish fairy short story “Father Ryan’s Fright” is now live in the Kindle Store.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UTZGGZO

In this short fantasy story inspired by traditional fairy lore, an Irish Catholic priest who speaks ill of belief in the Little People suffers the fright of his life one night when he is called out to a farmhouse sited within the shadow of a fairy hill.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Giving All Those Adverb Haters the Finger

Hah! As I'm looking over the version of my previously published story "Father Ryan's Fright" formatted for submission to Kindle Direct Publishing, I noted my repeated use of "-ly" adverbs right in the third paragraph:

Cross scowls and sour glares met the priest's gaze when he looked up from his notes. A farmer who never tilled the earth near the local fairy mound frowned contemptuously. An herbalist suspected of having frequent liaisons with the fay snorted angrily. Some parishioners glanced anxiously toward the door, but only the drinkers who regularly slipped out to the pub before services ended actually got up and left. The sermon's subject matter had roused their thirst more than usual that day.

I used "contemptuously", "angrily", "anxiously", "regularly", and "actually", just in that one paragraph. And this is from a published story (it appeared in the November 2013 issue of Anotherealm), one that I feel may be my best yet, and one that others have called a good story.

Talk about giving all those adverb haters the finger!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cover Artwork for Irish Fairy Story "Father Ryan's Fright"

Okay, everyone, what do you think of this image as a cover for a Kindle Edition of my Irish fairy story "Father Ryan's Fright"?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tweaked Description of Kindle Edition of "The Redcap of Glamtallon"

I made slight changes to my description of the Kindle Edition of my horror short story "The Redcap of Glamtallon". I was not entirely happy with the language of the description. It seemed a bit clunky to me. I changed this:

"In this horror short story inspired by borderland lore, an American graduate student and her Scottish beau investigating a haunted peel tower encounter something far worse than ghosts. They come face-to-face with a bloodthirsty redcap."

to this:

"In this horror short story inspired by borderland lore, an American graduate student studying abroad and her Scottish beau visit a haunted peel tower. Hoping to encounter a ghost or two, they instead come face-to-face with a bloodthirsty redcap!"

The newer one seems a bit smoother to me.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fog, Brunswick, New York, March 14, 2015







Photos of "Orbs"!



Did I capture photos of orbs? Is the apartment parking lot haunted by a legion of lost souls? No, it's a foggy evening. The "orbs" are just the light from the camera's flash reflecting off water droplets. Since the camera is focusing on objects in the distance, the droplets are out of focus.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Connection Between Fairies and the Dead

(Article originally published in Disturbed Digest, Issue #4, March 2014.)

At first glance, there may seem to be few links between the frolicking fairies and the souls of the dead. However, if one delves deeper into traditional fairy lore, one finds that the fairy realm and the realm of the dead overlapped. A handful of fairy types functioned as harbingers of death or summoners of dying souls. On occasion, fairies would intermingle with the human dead. At times, the spirits of deceased mortals gathered in fairy places or even behaved rather like fairy folk. Lost human souls, especially those of children who had died prior to undergoing the Christian rite of baptism, might take fairy form and join the ranks of the fays.

Some denizens of the fairy realm had links to the realm of the dead by heralding the approach of death or summoning the spirit of a dying human to the otherworld. The keening fairy woman known as the banshee foretold the forthcoming demise of Irish mortals of Milesian descent, humans of heroic lineage whose surnames started with " Ó" or “Mac”(White, 2005). A glimpse of the Highland Bodach Glas, the Dark Grey Man, signalled impending doom (Briggs, 1976). The gruesome-looking dullahan would ride the countryside on his thundering black steed and then stop to hold his severed head aloft to summon the soul of whoever was about to die (Curran, 1998). The mine-dwelling wichtlein of Germany warned miners of imminent death or disaster by raising a din as if they were hard at work (Sikes, 2002). Dunters or powries, noisome resident spirits of Border fortresses who sounded as if they were beating flax or milling grain in a quern, would raise a louder ruckus if death or disaster drew near (Briggs, 1976).

According to tales from Ireland and its remote western isles, at certain times human souls who had departed their mortal shells would accompany the fairies in their preternatural revelries. During dark celebrations held on the night of October the Thirty-First, fairies reeled hand-in-hand with the risen dead (White, 2005). A man of Ireland’s western islands named Hugh King discovered that his deceased friends and dead acquaintances, clad in their long funeral shrouds, danced at the fairy fair held on November Eve (Wilde, 1887). Out late one November night, an Inishark woman sighted revenants garbed in white mingled amongst a great gathering of cavorting fairies (Wilde, 1887). A grief stricken lass from the same isle spied her late lover gambolling with the fairies atop their hill when she peered through a ring of herbs given to her by a lady in white (Wilde, 1887). A shepherdess who encountered a group of festive fays met a pale young man; a man she knew had drowned the previous winter (Wilde, 1887). In a tale found in different locales across Ireland, a man witnessed deceased acquaintances riding with the fays when he tried unsuccessfully to rescue his dead wife from a fairy procession (Ó hÓgáin, 2006). The Irish fairy monarch Finvara was also King of the Dead and ruled over a host of departed mortals (Briggs, 1978).

Some stories of earthbound souls blurred the line between fairy and ghost. Noisy spectres of those who had once been human would haunt fairy raths with their clanking and creaking (White, 2005). The Northumberland bogy called Dunnie, a shape-shifting prankster who liked to adopt the guise of a horse or donkey to play practical jokes on Hazelrigg farmers, had been a plundering Border reiver in life (Briggs, 1976). The Irish Phooka of Kildare, who appeared as an ass and performed the toilsome tasks of a household fairy, identified itself as the spirit of an indolent scullion (Briggs, 1978). The English Cauld Lad of Hilton, a brownie-like entity that the servants of Hilton Hall expelled in the traditional fashion of laying brownies by leaving him a gift of a new cloak and hood, was said to be the ghost of a murdered servant boy (Keightley, 1978). The Cauld Lad of Gilsland, reputed to be the restless soul of a neglected boy who died of hypothermia, acted like a banshee and foretold death by shivering and moaning at the bedside of one about to die (Rose, 1998).

In perhaps the most direct link between fairies and the dead, certain types of fay were considered to be human spirits endowed with fairy powers. The sluagh of the Scottish Highlands, dark entities that winged to and fro across the midnight sky and forced hapless mortals to join in malicious mischief, were said to be the Host of the Unforgiven Dead (Briggs, 1976). The bean-nighe, who portended doom by washing blood-stained clothes in the forlorn streams of both and Ireland and Scotland, was believed to be the restless shade of a mother who had perished during childbirth (Briggs, 1976). Cornish tin-miners claimed that their helpful mine fairies known as knockers had once been Jews who had toiled in the mines in ancient times (Briggs, 1976). The Welsh commonly considered their Tylwyth Teg to be the spirits of departed humans neither entirely evil nor completely good, spirits consigned to reside in this world’s hidden places until Judgement Day (Sikes, 2002). The samovily, a fatally seductive southern Slavonic water fairy, was thought to be either a human bride who had lost her life on the night of her nuptials or a deceased mortal girl who had never been baptised (Franklin, 2002). The beautiful vily of Slavonic lore danced in circles and possessed powers of enchantment and shape-shifting just like their Fair Folk kin of Western Europe, but some accounts insisted that these alluring beings were the ghosts of prideful maids or unbaptized youngsters (Franklin, 2002).

In a recurring theme in fairy lore, the souls of departed human children who never entered the Christian fold could become mischievous and even malevolent members of the fairy realm. The sheerie, luminous Irish sprites who used maleficent magic to lead wayfarers astray, were thought to be the bitter spirits of unbaptized babes (Curran, 1998). According to Devonshire lore, their own diminutive mischief-making pixies shared similar origins (Keightley, 1978). The potentially deadly tarans who roamed Scottish forests and the nocturnal spunkies who misled wanderers in Somerset were also believed to be the souls of children who never underwent the ritual of baptism (Franklin, 2002). The same explanation was applied to the origins of numerous will-o’-the-wisps such as Pinket, a will-o’-the-wisp who haunted Worcestershire (Franklin, 2002).

Though some people insist that “ghosts are not fairies” (White, 2005), certain aspects of fairy folklore suggest that wayward human souls did, at times, acquire a fairy existence. The connection went beyond mere association. Ghostly entities such as the Phooka of Kildare, Dunnie of Northumberland, and the Cauld Lad of Hilton appeared to possess fairy-like attributes and exhibit fairy-like behaviour. Fairy folk such as the sheerie, the sluagh, and the samovily had once been human. Fairies not only foretold the coming of death and consorted with the dead, sometimes, they were the dead.

References

Briggs, K. (1976). An encyclopedia of fairies, hobgoblins, brownies, bogies, and other supernatural creatures. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

Briggs, K. (1978). The vanishing people: Fairy lore and legends. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.
Curran, B. (1998). A field guide to Irish fairies. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.

Franklin, A. (2002). The illustrated encyclopaedia of fairies. London, England: Vega.

Keightly, T. (1978). The world guide to gnomes, fairies, elves, and other little people. New York, NY: Avenel Books.

Ó hÓgáin, D. (2006). The lore of Ireland: An encyclopaedia of myth, legend and romance. Woodbridge, England: The Boydell Press.

Rose, C. (1998). Spirits, fairies, leprechauns, and goblins: An encyclopedia. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

Sikes, W. (2002). British goblins: Welsh folklore, fairy mythology, legends and traditions. Doylestown, PA: Wildside Press.

White, C. (2005). A history of Irish fairies. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers.

Wilde, Lady F. S. (1887). Ancient legends, mystic charms, and superstitions of Ireland. Boston, MA: Ticknor and Co.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Cover Image for Kindle Edition of "The Redcap of Glamtallon"

I created the above image for use as a cover on the Kindle Edition of my horror short story "The Redcap of Glamtallon". Being an artist as well as a writer, I figured I could come up with something eye-catching. I think it works, in a garishly-pulpy sort-of-way. I especially like how the Redcap's eyes draw you in. Also, I think the blood along the top works quite well. Being a cover for a story about a Redcap, blood has to feature prominently in the image.

Friday, March 6, 2015

"The Redcap of Glamtallon" Kindle

The Kindle version of my story “The Redcap of Glamtallon” is now live in the Kindle Store:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UCMN4PY
I created the cover design, too.

In this horror short story inspired by borderland lore, an American graduate student and her Scottish beau investigating a haunted peel tower encounter something far worse than ghosts. They come face-to-face with a bloodthirsty redcap.

The story was originally published in Cover of Darkness, Issue 14, March 2013.