More Fantasy Stamps


I mentioned the stamps I have created for a fantasy land called “Phinq” but I have made stamps for another fantasyland as well.

One called “Xanth”.

No, I did not create that place, it was created by author Piers Anthony and has covered thirty-five volumes of funny, punny tales.

I read his stuff (not just the Xanth volumes) since my youth and ate up each Xanth novel as they appeared. I loved the characters and the puns as well as the writing.

Anyway, while I was creating my Phinq stamps, I thought I would design a few for Xanth as well. I printed up several sheets of the things and sent them as a gift to Piers.

He was tickled by them. So much so that he ordered a bunch more so he could sell them at his Xanth store run by his daughter, Penny. He even suggested two additional designs in the series.

After that, I was communicating with Penny for a couple years until the need for more stamps diminished.

I did not add more to the original eight issued and stopped printing them when the demand declined.

I was saddened to hear in 2009 that Penny had passed away after an operation on a cerebral melanoma.

My condolences went to Piers.

No parent should have to bury a child, of any age. It seems to go against the natural order.


Phantasy phor Phun


Although it seems to be completely out of style these days, I am a stamp collector.

But then, when I started, it was more popular… but let’s not get too specific about decades, okay? Let’s just say it was long, long ago in a universe far, far away.

So I collected stamps. Big deal, huh? Except that I found out about a wonderful area to collect called “fantasies”.

No, not stamps dealing with magical creatures or characters from famous films or comics, but postage stamps that were issued by places that don’t exist! At least not legally.

After finding out about this phascinating subject, I decided to start my own phantasy nation and, with the assistance of my brother, we created the nation of Phinq.

And the moment the preliminaries were made “official” we began issuing stamps.

Now, there is nothing too unusual about this process, as there are probably thousands of philatelists (stamp collectors) who have gone the same route and produced their own addition to the genre.

The one unusual feature about the Phinq stamps is that I am still issuing them.

Not too impressive if I had started the practice a couple of years ago but my brother and I are grandparents!

The first Phinq stamp was issued April 1st, forty-six years ago, and the latest was issued last month.

A few years ago I tried to get the mess organized – yes, I still have a bunch of stamps of practically every issue… seems I always printed more than I actually used. And with the death of the snail mail in recent years, the usage has diminished even further. (Of course, today I issue fewer of every stamp than I used to.)

So, writing fantasy is not the only aspect of my life hooked by the genre. Yes, I live and stamp in fantasy as well.

Another Interesting Thing about the Ryl volume

I should probably also mention that an interesting piece of the Ryl story (The Stones Will Tell) is that the wizards have absolutely no clue about who this next hero is going to be. I mentioned that they had a strong believe that the clue would be revealed in the stones present in the forehead and sternum of every living person, but they are uncertain what precisely they should be looking for.

And they certainly don’t know who they are looking for either. From their many trips into the “ethernet” they have found the clues about this person but nothing definite. Not only do they know nothing about who the hero is, they are certain that the hero does not even know who he is either.

From their future searches, the wizards know the date for the revelation of the hero but that day comes and goes without any revelation ion the matter. The wizards are still in the dark.

In the story, we follow the separate adventures of several young people who were born on the correct day the prophecies name as the birth-date of the hero. The wizards and their support groups try and “train” these youths… primarily to keep tabs on them to see if the hero will somehow reveal himself. But it does the wizards little good.

(Spoiler alert)

If you have not read the story yet, I certainly hope this does not spoil the story for you if I say that the hero is to be found among the handful of youths being followed.

Even with that clue, you might be hard-pressed to discern the right one from the plethora of choices. And I hope you will try and guess before the end of the book.

Who knows? Your insight might be better than that of the wizards. I believe I have sprinkled enough clues through the story to see what’s going on.

And though I have not completed either of the prequel volumes, they are not shaping up to have as full a landscape of intrigue as the final volume, but they will still be based on politics as that is the focus of the series.

I hope you enjoy the other volumes as well.

Something More Interesting

At the end of my last (rather crabby entry), I mentioned that I should probably try and write something more interesting in this post. Well, here it is and… well, I hope I can say something of interest… to someone.

Okay. With that said, let’s get started.

The first novel I published, The Stones Will Tell was originally titled A Hero for Ryl.

The volume was started in 1978 and after four chapters, I put it away on a shelf. It seemed to be directionless. After a few months, I pulled it down again and started at an earlier part of the timeline for the story, but again it stalled and was returned to the shelf.

Four years later, I brought it down and dusted it off. I had come across a new idea which would take the story in a different direction. And the change was really intriguing: what if the people in this fantasy land had crystals growing out of their foreheads? And what if these crystals were generally different from one person to the next in terms of color, shape, and clarity? And what if each person had a second such crystal growing from their sternum, or breastbone?

girl with crystalsman with crystals

It was a fascinating concept and became the basis for the story in that the wizards thought the crystals would somehow lead them to the anticipated “hero”. The reasoning behind this being that earlier heroes in history had a radically new feature in their crystals that set them aside from the rest of “humanity”.

The first hero had the first set of crystals that saw the same color in both of his crystals. The next hero had crystals that were alike in cut (i.e. shape). The third had the first crystals that had clarity, without disruptions in the crystals themselves.

The wizards are certain the stones of the next hero must be different as well – though they have no idea what the change must be.

The task at finding the hero is made more difficult by the political situation facing Ryl at this juncture: five neighboring empires are trying to gain control of the country and, by extension, control of this forthcoming hero. And there are power struggles within Ryl itself as the recent king has died without a viable heir. Two various factions have presented claimants and the Regent of the nation discovers both of them are frauds.

As there are so many differing political groups vying for power in the volume – the wizards, the five emperors, the groups behind the two pretenders to the throne, the communal Brotherhood and their splinter group called “the renegades”, as well as the undergound freedom movements in the Ryllian territories of Yevas and Tenichta… well, there is simply too much political intrigue for the volume to resemble the standardized “quest for the hero” type of story. One could call it a novel of political intrigue encased in a fantasy setting.

But though much of the political intrigues were included in the first outline, and the second, the addition of the stones present in every player changed the landscape for the novel. First off, you will notice no character in the volume wears any sort of jewelry. It may seem a small thing but why would anyone feel the need to wear jewels when they already have a couple of large stones growing out of themselves?

Another point was that in the original version, I really stirred up the pot by having even more groups vying for control of one area or another. The first readers said it was too confusing so I had to rewrite it with fewer groups. And that was tough!

Several of the early readers also questioned where the wizards came from and suggested I write a prequel volume. Hence the name change of this volume. Now the small series is entitled “A Hero for Ryl” and it looks like it will be at least one other volume and perhaps a third.

Fortunately, one of those volumes will likely include the material I first wrote as the beginning of the tale before I pushed the starting point of the final volume back until just a year or two before the climax.

It has been a marvelous adventure outlining the characters and the interactions between all the power groups struggling for dominance. And my favorite character is the very ancient Duke of Yenthorol, the primary figure in the piece. His long life keeps him active in this trying time although he should be preparing to meet his maker. His energy seems boundless, though his senility comes into play a few times.

Even so that he can use that for an excuse when propriety demands an out.

Anyway, that is how the story came about and why it took so damned long to write it.

Hopefully the prequels will not take thirty years to finish.

Okay, I’ve started the freaking blog already…

You would think this sort of thing would be a “no-brainer”… a writer, writing a blog!!

Yes, I have actually published two volumes and have three more in the pipeline for publication so, yes, I am a writer but I did not really want to set out writing a blog… another novel or novella, yes, but a blog?

Okay, I understand the marketing strategy and keeping in touch with the public. Believe me, if it were not for all the readers out there beyond the confines of my small writer’s den, I would not find an outlet for my addiction: writing.

And the majority of my projects have been outlined to run for several thousand words, not the couple of hundred required for these postings. How do you wrap your mind around something so… so… I don’t know, tiny, perhaps.

If I tweeted, I might think the unbounded spaces within a blog would be real freedom, no need to restrict the number of characters spaces, no need to shorten the links to “bitlys” or such. But I do not even write short stories!

Yes, I am being obtuse. I really have no problem with blogging and have written short subjects before (I believe they call them “emails”) and I will be more than happy to discuss any points of the books I have published to date: The Stones Will Tell and Beamish Boys, should anyone have questions, comments, or even some complaints about the books.

And I will announce any new volumes coming out (as soon as my publisher lets me know the “whens”).

If you have not heard of either of my previously published novels, they can be found on Amazon (for kindle as well as paperback), Barnes and Noble (for Nook), Smashwords (for any digital version), and at Lulu for the hardback edition.

And, of course, all these links can be found on the Martian Publishing website as well.

And that’s it for the first post.

Perhaps I will think of something interesting for the next one.