Sir Julius Vogel Award voting – distance votes close 10 April.

Read our nominated story, Ahi Ka, below.
Read our nominated story, Ahi Ka, below.

10 April 2014, is the deadline for Sir Julius Vogel Award voting from afar. If you are not attending Conclave II, the NZ National Science Fiction and Fantasy convention, held over Anzac weekend in Auckland, then you’ll need to vote by tomorrow. (Main voting takes place at national convention.) I have two works that have been shortlisted as finalists for the SJV awards:

  • Best Short Work: Ahi Kā. 
  • Best Collected Work: Twisty Christmas Tales.

Please read Ahi Kā below.
To vote, you need to be a member of SFFANZ, Science Fiction Fantasy Association of NZ. Details are here. If you are a member already, the voting details are here.

 Ahi Kā.

  • (Prose and interwoven sonnet, Truth Lies in Fire and Dies in Flame)
  • Winning entry (first equal) in NZSA NorthWrite 2013 Collaboration Contest
  • By Eileen Mueller and Alicia Ponder

Howls pierced the fog of my dreams. I clutched Ahi, shaking her awake. “Are they real?” Yowling wound through my ear canals, ricocheting inside my head. “The dogs, Ahi, can you hear them?”

She woke, startled. “Hurry, Manaaki. They’re coming.”

We scrambled out of our bush-clad hideout, dashing up the hillside, sliding in the damp earth, ponga fronds whipping our faces.

Frenzied yelps closed in on us. The creatures’ vicious snarling drowned our laboured breathing.

Blue eyes pursued us, hot gas flames in the dark.

Were they real?

I yanked my meds from my pocket. Pills scattered in the dirt. I scrabbled for them. One stuck in my throat before sliding down.

#

Cry havoc and let us unloose the dogs

the dogs, let slip those hellish brutes of war

for tonight Manaaki will have to choose

to run—

#

“Hellhounds,” Ahi yelled, bounding up the mud and crumbling rock.

Menacing growls raced through the underbrush. Ahi yanked a nail from her fingertip. It flared to light, illuminating the black-hackled beast leaping towards us.

“Ahi?” In all our time together, her fingernails had never exploded into fireballs. I stared at her and swallowed another pill, tasting dirt.

The hound, with pain-stricken yelps, was devoured by flame. Wild baying echoed in the valley below. More hellhounds.

Ahi stood, fingertip bleeding. Her hand, with only four nails, reached out. Warm blood sticky in my palm, she yanked me uphill.

Had my medication stopped working?

To be sure, I gulped another down.

#

Laugh in the shade of the slavering beast

let fire light his eyes and make death tame

the boy is mad—

#

 The hellhounds thundered behind us. Racing through the darkness, we tripped, smashing our knees on jutting rocks.

I gagged on the stench of the hounds’ hot breath. They snapped at our heels—and bit deep. I screamed.

Ahi ripped off another nail, flinging it over her shoulder. The beast yelped and fled, trailing flames.

Fingers spraying glistening blood in the flame-light, Ahi aimed nail after nail at the perilous beasts, until only two nails remained.

#

The boy is mad to thwart this hunter’s feast

the dirt he tastes will never bear his name

and yet he stops and turns—

#

Ahi flung her penultimate nail through snarling fangs.

The beast combusted. Singed fur and burning flesh. A pale demon loomed behind the hellhound’s flaming carcass. Worse than hellhounds. Worse than my lover-turned-stranger beside me, oozing blood from her torn fingertips. Worse than hallucinations.

I screamed.

Ahi smiled through her blood and tears. She tore the final fingernail from her hand and pressed it into mine. “Swallow this,” she whispered.

#

Truth Lies in Fire and Dies in Flame   

Cry havoc and let us unloose the dogs

the dogs, let slip those hellish brutes of war

for tonight Manaaki will have to choose

to run through fire and flame or face the maw

 

Laugh in the shade of the slavering beast

Let fire light his eyes and make death tame

The boy is mad to thwart this hunter’s feast

The dirt he tastes will never bear his name

 

And yet he stops and turns, his wild fear tame

Ahi Kā, Manaaki keep the home fires burning

In blood and fire—with life he stakes his claim

Ahi Kā, let us stand where he is standing

 

Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds;

But burn those who chase Manaaki out of bounds

END.

Notes:

Ahi Kā was placed first equal in the NZ Society of Authors’ NorthWrite 2013 Collaboration contest, which required two authors to write a short story and a poem, or two short stories. Instead of penning  a short story and a poem individually, Alicia and Eileen chose to collaborate closely, interweaving their work and honing it until it was seamless.

Ahi Kā includes:

  • A sonnet containing direct quotes from Shakespeare.
  • References to the Māori legend of how Maui bought fire to the world via a goddess with flaming fingernails.
  • Political elements—oblique references to Māori land wars through Māori language:
    • Ahi Kā = to keep the home fires burning; burning fires of occupation; gain a title to land through long-term occupation; hold influence over land and defend successfully against challenges, thereby keeping their fires burning.
    • Manaaki = hospitality, support;
    • Ahi = fire;
    • (Source Māori Dictionary online)

Alicia and I hope you enjoyed our work. We’d love it if you’d vote for Ahi Kā and Twisty Christmas Tales (available on Amazon.)

Two stories on the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2014 Shortlist!

Sir Julius Vogel Award
Sir Julius Vogel Award

Thank you! Thank you! & Thank you!

Thanks to my fabulous readers, two of my works have made the shortlist for the 2014 Sir Julius Vogel Awards!

AHI KA, co-authored by Eileen and Alicia Ponder, and winning entry of the  NorthWrite 2013 Collaboration competition, is shortlisted for BEST SHORT STORY.

TWISTY CHRISTMAS TALES is shortlisted for the BEST COLLECTED WORK.

The full shortlists and long lists for all categories are here.

The final votes will take place at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of NZ (SFFANZ) convention in April. Only SFFANZ members can vote to determine the final recipient of the awards.

I’m thrilled to see that many of my awesome writer friends have also made the shortlists in a wide variety of categories. I’m honoured to be nominated amongst such great company, including Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts, editors of Baby Teeth, who accepted my first published short story, Dad’s Wisdom for their anthology.

Congratulations to everyone who made the shortlist. It’s a great achievement. And thanks to my readers for liking my stories enough to nominate me.

Value-packed World Building Clinic Goes Live.

When writing fiction, have you ever struggled to make your story feel alive? Have the scenes sat staring at you, flat on the page?

We’ve all been there.

Imagine your stories coming to life and enticing your readers to devour your words with hungry anticipation. Stories that feel so realistic and compelling that you have to turn the page to see what happens next.

The key to compelling stories is building a world and characters that immerse us as readers and draw us in.

I’ve just done a great course that helps to bring fiction to life. A course which focuses on getting your word right, no matter whether you write crime novels, thrillers, science-fiction, contemporary fiction, fantasy or children’s stories.

Holly Lisle, author of over 30 novels and founder of a novel writing school, has just published ‘Create a World Clinic.’ What did I learn from this course?

Create A World Clinic Cover
Bring your fiction to life with this world building course.

1.Holly’s clinic showed me how to utilise world building right from my opening sentence.

2. The course demonstrates how to limit your world building to the minimum details essential to your story, while giving the story life and momentum.

3. Create a World Clinic is packed with  quick exercises that helped me create new worlds within minutes. Holly calls this SANE world building.

4. But for those really hooked on building elaborate worlds, there is the ‘Geek-Deep’ section of the course—containing videos, maps, timelines and world models Holly has built in Minecraft and other detailed techniques.

5. Oh, and another bonus: this clinic taught me how to dissect worlds and figure out any problems. A project that I was stalled on has suddenly taken on new life because I was able to pinpoint a subtle issue that was killing the story.

Holly’s cool Create a World Clinic is selling for a song.

And you can get 10% off this clinic and any of Holly’s other short courses until 15 March 2014. How?

Holly has requested that her discount coupon be distributed by email only, and not published on the web.  So to get your 10% discount of any of her short courses, sign up to ‘Write On!’ my newsletter—via the box in the right hand sidebar. You‘ll receive an email containing the discount coupon, a free flash fiction course, and weekly issues of ‘Write On!’

(If you’ve already subscribed to ‘Write On!’ you’ll have the discount coupon waiting in your inbox.)

Just enter your email address in the blue box in the right sidebar.

I should also mention that Holly provides a stack of worksheets to help you with world building, and an online forum which you can use to discuss what you’re learning with others.

I know I’m going to use this clinic on my current project and again for future projects and hope you also have fun doing ‘Create A World Clinic.’

IMG_8121
World building can look great from a distance. (Note: World puzzle is NOT part of the course!)
IMG_8126
But up close… oooops! Those world building mistakes show!

 

Sir Julius Vogel Award Nominations

SJV Award
Sir Julius Vogel Award

Nominations for New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards for science-fiction, horror and fantasy close this Saturday 15 February 2014 at 8pm.

I have two works Ahi Kā and Twisty Christmas Tales, which have been nominated for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, however they need to be nominated multiple times to get on the short-list. If you have a few minutes, please send an email or two. 🙂

To see Ahi Kā, go to this link and scroll down past the judges’ comments.   Twisty Christmas Tales is available here   If you’d like me to send you a copy of either of these works, please contact me here.

Rules: You can nominate as many stories as you like, but each nomination must be in a separate email. An individual can only nominate each work once. You must provide your name and email address (see 10 in red below) with each nomination. Please also feel free to nominate other NZ sci-fi or fantasy stories published in 2013.

Email the following to SFFANZ

  1. Title of nominated work: Ahi Kā
  2. Name of Producer / Author / Creator: Eileen Mueller & Alicia Ponder
  3. What the work is: Short story with interwoven sonnet
  4. Year of First Release: 2013
  5. Publisher / Production company name: NorthWrite 2013 website (NZSA Northland Branch)
  6. What category: Professional awards, short story
  7. GENRE:  Fantasy
  8. This work won the NorthWrite 2013 Collaboration contest and appeared on the NorthWrite website in December 2103: http://northwrite.co.nz/northwrite2013-collaborative-competition/
  9. Contact details of the person making the nomination:  Your Name:                   Your email address:
  10. Comments:

In a separate email: send the following to SFFANZ

  1. Title of nominated work: Twisty Christmas Tales
  2. Name of Producer / Author / Creator: Eileen Mueller, Alicia Ponder, Peter Friend
  3. What the work is: Anthology
  4. Year of First Release: 2013
  5. Publisher / Production company name: Phantom Feather Press
  6. What category: Professional: Collected Work
  7. GENRE:  fantasy
  8. E-book available at http://www.amazon.com/Twisty-Christmas-Tales-Festive-Children-ebook/dp/B00HA070BU
  9. Contact details of the person making the nomination:  Your Name:                   Your email address:
  10. Comments:

🙂 THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!! 🙂 

Eileen Receives Special Mention for Homeless Flash Fiction

Just for fun, I recently entered a worldwide flash fiction competition run by Inscribe Media (based in Britain.) The goal was to create emotion using 20 words or less.  I had fun creating a few entries and was surprised when I received a special mention for this little story of 19 words:

Scraps of rotting pumpkin, cast-off shoes….A bitten hotdog! Starving, he shovels it down, stumbling to the next bin.Blanketmanwiki

As a teenager, I bought food for homeless people on the streets of Wellington. When I lived in Switzerland, people were amazed when they saw me buying hot food for those living on their streets — something as simple as a hotdog, a slice of pie, or some fruit to brighten their day. From the reactions of the Swiss, I could tell this was a rare occurrence.

Nowadays, attitudes have changed. The photo above is of Ben Hana, a.k.a ‘blanket man,’ who lived on the Wellington streets. Many showed kindness to Ben, who chose to live on the streets. When he died there was a temporary public memorial set up and a public funeral. He had become a persona and a part of many people’s lives. He was offered accommodation and clothing, but chose to live without both.

Perhaps we can’t make a huge difference in everyone’s lives, but a spot of kindness lets them know that people still care. One small token of love could give them hope to carry on. And if many people could give that token of kindness, then someone could be fed or housed. bin rummaging

I have a close friend who lived on the streets for two years as a part of his young adult life. It started with a choice to see how the other side lived, then he got stuck. He was always grateful for a offers of a night’s accommodation, but often turned them down, going to sleep in a barn or shed, outside, or in the local homeless shelter when the weather was rough. Soup kitchens, kind donations of food and charity organisations helped him get along until he turned his life around. He’s lucky. He’s now has a successful career, a great family and a wife who adores him. Few would ever guess that he has been there.

Another friend of mine said his roughest months were being homeless in winter, in London, living in a cardboard box. Cold and wet, inside a carton? The thought of it always makes me shiver.

We are all community members, and we can make a difference. But what can we do?

Seven years ago, I started an initiative to collect grocery items for battered women. I used an existing group to channel the collection. I was amazed when we were told that, each year, our weekend collection provided enough food for 6 months. Women who had left their homes in desperation when being abused and gone to the Wellington Women’s Refuge, could receive a few of our groceries to help them get on their feet until state assistance came through. We expanded the collection and included furniture and mountain buggies for kids, twin prams etc, kindly donated by a local company that we approached. Now, I am no longer involved, but that legacy lives on and that annual collection still takes place.

A few years ago, I engaged my local church to bake Christmas cookies for the homeless. Each year since then,  this group has donated goods at Christmas time. Initially, we donated hygiene kits (toiletry items etc) and cookies to the ‘Wellington Night Shelter’  – a homeless shelter for men. Soon others in our neighbourhood heard what we were doing and started to donate home baking  as well.

Sometimes we also reached out to include homeless women at the ‘Wellington Women’s Boarding House.’  Their toiletries were packed in gift wrap, to be given to each new resident as a welcoming gift. They received home baking at Christmas. I advertised their plight in a local news article and more donations came flooding in – turkeys for Christmas dinner and gifts for the women and children.

In 2013, that same church group delivered survival kits to the Night Shelter. These were home-sewn bags which contained essential survival items (torches, water, food, survival blankets, first aid items etc) to be used in the event of an emergency (earthquake, flood etc.) I was happy to see that, although I wasn’t involved, this same group had expanded and built upon my initial idea and were continuing to provide for those in need.

Get involved. Start a collection through your school or community group. Help out at a local food bank, make a donation to a local charity, do something kind for the next ten homeless people you see. Then keep on giving. It’s a great feeling, and highly addictive. 🙂

Eileen was awarded a New Zealander of the Year Local Heroes Award for her community service.

I’m on SpecFicNZ’s blog

SpecFicNZ (SpSpecFicNZeculative Fiction New Zealand) featured a post about us winning the NorthWrite 2013 Collaborative contest with our collaborative short literary work, Ahi Kā. Go here to see SpecFicNZ’s post.
Alicia Ponder and I won first equal in this competition.

Two other SpecFicNZ writers are mentioned for receiving an honourable mention in the same contest, for their collaborative short story: Dan Rabarts & Lee Murray.
SpecFicNZ is a great organisation that supports both NZ writers  and readers of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy and horror.) If you write, or love all things fantasy, horror, or sci-fi, I encourage you to join.

 

 

More of My Stories to be Published In Disquiet Anthology

I have great news. 🙂Boy_Scared about Disquiet

Two of my short works – a poem and short story – have been accepted for the Disquiet anthology, a compilation of dark stories that will ‘make your toes curl.’ All of the works in this book are set in New Zealand and Australia and are by Antipodean authors.

The details are still under wraps, but rumour has it that this collection of disquieting stories will be roaming our streets in mid 2014. Keep your windows locked and a torch by your bed!

 

Eileen Mueller featured on Holly Lisle’s How To Think Sideways Blog

My story Dad’s Wisdom was mentioned in a review on in the Baby Teeth anthology recently on The Horror Fiction Review. About my story, the reviewer said, “Other very good stories include “Dad’s Wisdom” by Eileen Miller about a boy taking advice from his dad on what to feed a dragon under his bed;”  Short and sweet! Yeah, Miller/Mueller, I get all sorts of spellings! (They got Eileen right, which is  a bonus!)

HTTS-Boot-Camp-Header2-940x72I wrote to Holly Lisle recently, who has been an amazing writing mentor for me. She has published my letter on her How To Think Sideways blog, and you can read it here.

Holly Lisle runs a novel writing school called ‘How To Think Sideways’, which includes a number of free writing courses, as well as larger clinics, workshops and career courses. I’ve done many of them. Her courses are great, she’s a straight-shooter, right to the point, who provides great frameworks for writers, and goes into more depth than I ever thought possible. On her free marketing forum board, UGLY BABY (the name is a long story), Holly offered a free bonus clinic to anyone who got paid over $50 USD for their fiction work. I did. So I qualify for her really cool upcoming Create a World Clinic (my choice.) For the next $250 I earn above and beyond that, I qualify for a free workshop too. Holly gets such a kick out of seeing writers flourish. It’s one of her aims in life to leave a legacy of writers she has taught.

Click here to do her free flash fiction course.  Or sign up to Holly Lisle’s UGLY BABY fiction marketing group who brainstorm together about selling their fiction. Click on this link to the post about me and follow the instructions at the bottom of the page.

Eileen Mueller featured on Helen Lowe’s blog

“Here’s SpecFicNZ–Wellington”: Featuring Eileen Mueller – I was recently featured on Helen Lowe’s blog, as a Wellington member of SpecFicNZ (Speculative Fiction of New Zealand.) Hop over to Helen’s blog to find out more about what drives me to write, hour after hour, into the wee hours of the morning almost everyday!Twisty Christmas Tales - Festive Stories for Children of All Ages

Twisty Christmas Tales is still up on Amazon for those of you that would like to prolong your Christmas spirit and enjoy crazy Christmas Capers on your i-pads or kindles. If you don’t have a kindle, you can download Kindle for PC free from Amazon and read it on your computer. Or you can go to Smashwords and order the pdf (word processing version.) You can even print the pdf and read the stories that way.

My work was also posted on New Zealand Society of Authors’ NorthWrite website – Read my winning entry, Ahi Kā written collaboratively with Alicia Ponder. To find our piece, you have to scroll beneath the judges comments to the actual winning entries. Ahi Kā is a complex piece, its background is here. How we wrote the piece is here.

I’m looking forward to a great 2104, and hope you’re all well and happy and that 2013 has been good for you.

What has KurtX been doing since New Zealand’s Got Talent?

Go to KurtX’s website to see his audition and semi-final performances. Or see my earlier blog posts about his audition and semi-final on NZGT!

KurtX, harmonica hero from NZ's Got Talent
KurtX plays the harmonica at Carols by Candlelight – Wellington’s iconic Christmas show

Carols By Candlelight with KurtX!

Kurt blowing the crowd away as he blow his harmonica for all he's worth!
Kurt blowing the crowd away!

You guessed it. KurtX was invited to perform at Carols by Candlelight, an iconic Wellington Christmas celebration for the last 20 years. Kurt did what the organizers termed ‘an ACDC rendition’ of ‘Once in David’s Holy City!’ It was amazing.

And yes, I am still a firm fan of KurtX. He did not disappoint! The crowd loved his performance.

KurtX plays harmonica for Pack the Bus
The bus – Pack the Bus

Pack the Bus!

Straight after his semi-final appearance in New Zealand’s Got Talent, Kurt was approached by The Breeze, a local radio station, to perform for their Christmas ‘Pack the Bus’ tour.

KurtX and I had great fun collecting gifts for needy families for Christmas. KurtX entertained the kids with modern harmonica renditions of a hip hop version of ‘We Wish you a Merry Christmas’ and a more traditional take on of ‘The First Noel.’

We went to four local schools. The children really got into the spirit of Christmas by bringing gifts and foodstuffs to see needy families through the festive season. By the end of the tour, the bus really was packed full to the brim with food and toys of all description, and the storage room at the City Mission was overflowing.

Eileen & KurtX with a mountain of gifts for charity
Eileen & KurtX with a mountain of gifts for charity

Because we participated on the last day of the collection, the bus was so full that we could hardly walk down the aisles! We were grabbing gifts and propping them up as we drove back through town to the radio station! New Zealanders are known for their generosity – we were humbled to see it in practice.

Packed Bus!

To prolong your Christmas, read Twisty Christmas Tales!

Here is KurtX’s website. What will 2014 bring for KurtX? He has plans – we’ll keep you updated!