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!

Twisty Christmas Tales – News!

Twisty Christmas Tales DomPost CapDay GiveawayFree Giveaway!

Today, Friday December 20, the DomPost are giving away 5 free copies of Twisty Christmas Tales. To enter email capdaycomp@dompost.co.nz by 5pm on 20 December. One entry per person. Give it  a try and see if you can win a copy of our crazy Christmas stories!

Review

Our first review for Twisty Christmas tales is live on Amazon. See what our reviewer thinks by following this link and scrolling down to his review. I’ll give you a hint, Twisty Christmas Tales got five stars! ♥♥♥♥♥

Get your e-book in time for Christmas!

While you’re there, grab ‘Twisty’ as a stocking filler and introduce your kids our crazy Christmas capers. They’ll soon be ho, ho, ho-ing at our stories and laughing at the surprises we leave them at the end of each tale. Twisty Christmas Tales gives insight into Kiwi Christmases in more ways than one, and also takes a quick peek into the lives of two children who are less privileged than we – who end up very happy with their own versions of Christmas. But mostly, Twisty Christmas tales adds a dash of the absurd and a sprinkle of magic to our festive season as Christmas in space, junior mad scientists, funny monsters, bird life, fairies and elves run amok in between the e-pages.

See Amazon, Smashwords or my previous blog post.

Cook Strait Times ran this story about Twisty Christmas Tales. The quality of the image is not great unless you click on it to view it in the gallery. You can also see the story online here (just click on the page to Cook Striat News Twisty Christmas Talesenlarge it.)

 

Ahi Kā – Winning Entry in NorthWrite 2013 Collaboration

gold-3d-number-one-medal-vectorAlicia and I were thrilled to win first equal in the NorthWrite 2013 Collaboration contest with our short work Ahi Kā. (The contest was run by run by the Northland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors.)

It was the first time that I had attempted collaborative writing and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This story started as a pair of teenagers running through the bush from something menacing, but grew until  it included Māori mythology, mental illness, some kiwi history, Shakespearean influences, paranormal creatures and a frenzied pace of action. The line between reality and fantasy is thin as Ahi and Manaaki desperately try to outrun demons.

To read our story online go to this ‘NorthWrite 2013 Collaboration – Judges Comments and Winning Entries post.’ You’ll need to scroll down past the judges comments about the entries, then ours is the top story.

To understand our references to New Zealand mythology, see the Māori legend about how Maui bought fire to the world. Political elements are also included via oblique references to Māori land wars (see below). The contest required a 2 short stories or a short story and a poem, so our piece includes a sonnet and some direct quotes from Shakespeare within that sonnet.  This work is completely different to anything I’ve written before and was a very intense collaborative writing process. My earlier post details that process.

Note: These translations may help when reading our work. Manaaki = hospitality, support; Ahi = fire; 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.  (Source Māori Dictionary online)

Have fun reading. We hope you enjoy the other entries as well.

Twisty Christmas Tales – Festive Short Stories for Children of All Ages

Twisty Christmas Tales is live!!!

Twisty Christmas Tales - Festive Stories for Children of All Ages
Twisty Christmas Tales – Festive Stories for Children of All Ages

Buy this e-book at Amazon or Smashwords for $US 2.99

What will Santa put under your tree this Christmas? A present that growls? A battered old bike? Or wings to fly?

Twisty Christmas Tales —ten crazy Christmas adventures for the whole family! Christmas in outer space or at the beach, carolling gone wrong, a strange elf creating havoc in Santa’s workshop, monsters running amok, and a junior mad scientist who turns Christmas into chaos.

Come along for the sleigh ride of your life, as these Twisty Tales weave their festive magic .

This Christmas anthology contains ten fantasy and science fiction short stories for children of all ages, written by three New Zealand award-winning authors, Eileen Mueller, Alicia Ponder and Peter Friend. Twisty Christmas Tales is available as an e-book at Amazon and Smashwords.

Amazon link for mobi files for kindle e-readers. This link will take you to Kindle for PC.

Smashwords link for all other formats – epub, pdf, rtf, lrf, Palmdoc (pdb), plain text or html files. (pdf, rtf and plain text will run on word processors, html can be viewed on screen) Some of these formats do not include covers.

Peter, Alicia and I hope you enjoy our Twisty Christmas Tales, some with a  New Zealand flavour! Please feel free to post a review on Amazon, Goodreads and Smashwords when you’re done! 🙂

Sign up as a reader in the box to the right, using the dropdown menu, and you’ll receive news about my stories as they go live.

Winners – NorthWrite 2013: Collaboration

Alicia Ponder and I have just won ‘NorthWrite 2013: Collaboration’ contest with our short work Ahi Kā. This competition required writers to work together to produce short fiction written by two authors, comprising either:NorthWrite 2013: Collaboration

  • 2 short stories
  • 2 poems
  • or a poem and a short story.

We were placed first equal with another pair of writers. The results of the competition are at NorthWrite’s site.

Alicia and I had such tight schedules that we weren’t sure whether we should enter. Two weeks before the competition deadline, we decided to go for it, despite me being away with my husband for New Zealand’s Got Talent semi-final filming. With our combined poetry and writing experience, we decided that NorthWrite 2103: Collaboration was an opportunity too good to miss!

We wanted to collaborate. Last year’s contestants had mentioned that they didn’t have time to collaborate extensively, because they only started two weeks before deadline. We were determined that even though we also only had two weeks we would collaborate, COLLABORATE, COLLABORATE!!!

From other blog posts I’ve read about collaborative efforts, most authors seem to write one story then the other author writes a reply. Alicia and I decided we wouldn’t. Instead we brainstormed, spending over an hour on the phone to come up with our basic plot and characters. We didn’t fill in all the dots, but left enough concepts fluid that there was space to evolve. We were determined to write everything together.

One of us wrote the short story. Then we both modified and tweaked it, via email and editing while on the phone. Both were essential. Tweaking via email was great for clarity and tightening the prose. Discussing the story on the phone (while one of us edited the document), kept our ideas fresh and dynamic. We bounced our suggestions off one another until they rapidly snowballed. As a result, we utilised more dimensions than either of us could have written alone.

The poetry gradually grew as an extension of the story, until a sonnet was born, tinged with Shakespearean influence. Elements of Māori mythology were interwoven into our story. Incomplete stanzas of our poem were scattered throughout. We used Māori names that gave hidden layers of meaning to our story’s themes. Finally we added political elements as an undercurrent.

Our work will be live on the NorthWrite 2013: collaboration site soon. I’ll post a link to the winning entries when they go live.

Note: These translations may help when reading our work. Manaaki = hospitality, support; Ahi = fire; 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.  (Source Māori Dictionary online)

To understand our references to New Zealand mythology, see the Māori legend about how Maui bought fire to the world.

Congratulations to Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray, editors of Baby Teeth and friends of ours, who received an honourable mention in the contest.

New Zealander of The Year Local Hero Award – Literacy and Community Service efforts

A few weeks ago, I was presented with a Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Local Hero  Award.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Eileen Mueller and Kiwibank CE,Paul Brock
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Eileen Mueller and Kiwibank CE,Paul Brock

These awards are given to kiwis who make a difference in their communities through volunteer work.

So what did I do?

Over the past seven years, I’ve organised numerous community service projects in my role as Director of Public Affairs for my church, but the highlight has to be ‘Books For Fiji.’

Books For Fiji: In 2011, I ran a campaign that collected over 45,000 second hand books, which were donated to 82 schools in outlying islands of Fiji. See the video below.

Books for Fiji came about after I found out that Her Excellency Ms Mere Tora, Acting Head of Mission for the Fijian High Commission (Wellington, New Zealand) bought books at garage sales and school fairs all year long. Every year at Christmas when she visited Fiji, Ms Tora took boxes of books home and donated them to local schools.

I was impressed with her dedication to children’s literacy and wanted to help.

Although my initial idea was to collect a few boxes of books to give to Ms Tora, my vision grew as enthusiasm from the kiwis spurred me into action. Books came flooding in. Local schools cleared out their libraries and donated boxes packed with books. Business donated stationery and provided free advertising. The media jumped on board, and books kept piling up. The community wanted to help raise the English literacy of Fijian children.

Secretary of Fijian High Commission Niraj Mudaliar, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Eileen Mueller with the Mayor's childhood books that she donated to Fijian school children to improve their literacy
Secretary of Fijian High Commission Niraj Mudaliar, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Eileen Mueller with the Mayor’s childhood books that she donated to Fijian school children to improve their literacy

Wellington Mayor Her Worship Celia Wade-Brown donated her childhood books, and Porirua Mayor His Worship Nick Leggett provided his libraries as collection points. All across the lower North Island of New Zealand, Mormon Helping Hands volunteers took donation boxes to their schools, workplaces and local supermarkets.

A deluge of donations came in. Then the hard work began. We sorted every book by hand, categorizing them into subject matter or, for fiction books, age categories. We created a mix of books for each school, so they received a balanced shipment containing board books, early readers, chapter books, novels, encyclopedias, dictionaries and reference books about  a variety of topics.

Sorting 43,000 books!
Sorting 43,000 books!

I worked with the Fijian government to ensure we targeted the most needy schools. Then we shipped the books out the door and sighed in relief that the hard work was over!

While the books were en route to Fiji, a camera crew from church headquarters became interested in our project. I met them in Fiji to present the first shipment of books to a school on Bau Island, the chiefly island of Fiji – an area steeped in prestige and tradition.

The best part of the entire project was seeing the children unpack their books and start reading. They opened the boxes, and with wonder in their eyes, each took a book off the top, sat down on the grass and started reading. They didn’t rummage through the boxes or yell in excitement. They just sat down and started reading.

Children on Bau Island with books from Books For FijiTheir quiet page turning bought more joy into my heart than any shouts of excitement could have. They wanted those books. They loved those books. They were reading English books and had previously had none on their island. They were being taught English, but had no materials to read. Their literacy could take a leap forward, thanks to the kindness of their neighbours – kiwis in New Zealand.

How can we make a difference?

Eileen with 100 items made for Wellington Neonatal Unit.
Eileen with 101 items made for Wellington Neonatal Unit.

Often a need is right under our noses. We don’t have to organise thousands of books to make a difference in the lives of those around us. If you see a need, contact a local volunteer organisation or charity and ask how you can help.

I have been lucky enough to have Mormon Helping Hands volunteers enthusiastically embrace every project I’ve organised. We’ve quilted for neonatal babies, cleaned the local homeless shelter (Wellington Night Shelter), baked cookies for its guests, and assembled hygiene kits for them. Thousands of trees have been planted across the region by keen volunteers, schools have been made over – not just tidied, but demolition work done, buildings, rooves and libraries painted, chairs upholstered, and carpet laid. Volunteers have blazed trails, mulched and weeded in the hot sun, and battled with gorse (thorny bushes) to provide recreational area for the local community.

Community service is also about building relationships with those you would never otherwise meet. For two years I was a member of The Wellington Interfaith Council Executive, putting time and energy into building more love and understanding between those of different faiths. We talked together, planted trees together, sang and danced together, and walked in each others shoes a little as we learned more about one another. It was a rewarding and fulfilling experience to see Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Buddhists, Sikhs and Baha’i planting trees on the slopes of Wellington, laughing and getting to know one another.

Planting, trail blazing, blackberry eradication and planting in 2013 with local rangers, politicians and a few volunteers. (Eileen is far right, back row)
Planting, trail blazing, blackberry eradication and planting in 2013 with local rangers, politicians and a few volunteers. (Eileen is far right, back row)

It was humbling to accept my New Zealander of the Year Local Hero medal, knowing that although I had brainstormed and organised these projects, none of them would have happened without hundreds of volunteers seeing the vision of a better community and giving their time and effort to make it happen.

I’d like to thank my generous husband and cool kids. Without their support and enthusiastic participation, I would never have gotten one project off the ground. Thanks to them a childhood dream I’d had of helping those in a less wealthy country has come to fruition.

Cook Strait News ran a story here about my Local Hero award.

I’d also like to thank politicians, church leaders and the many organisations that have assisted with projects. My thanks and deep appreciation go to the amazing helpers who have donated their time, sweat and service to help make our community a better place.

You can be a local hero too

We are all part of the jigsaw which makes up our community, our country and our world. I encourage you to look around, see a need, and contact a local organisation to see how you can help to make our world a better place. Who knows, maybe one day you will be a local hero too!

Article on Mormon newsroom

More information about New Zealander of the Year Awards can be found here.

KurtX’s Got Talent – New Zealand’s Got Talent Semi-final

KurtX rocked the stage at New Zealand’s Got Talent (NZGT) this week in his semi-final performance. KurtX may be the first musician to play harmonica to dubstep – a modern dance music genre that originated in Britain.

What’s astounding is that he underwent heart surgery shortly after his NZGT audition to correct a congenital hole in his heart that was discovered a few weeks before he went on stage.  See the full story of Kurt’s heart surgery in the Dominion Post, one of New Zealand’s leading newspapers.

KurtX's surgery detailed in Dominion Post
KurtX’s heart surgery was detailed in Dominion Post, a national NZ newspaper

Although Kurt needed six weeks to fully recover from the catheter procedure used to insert a device into his heart wall to block the hole, he was soon back on stage again for another high energy performance.

 

One of New Zealand’s top magazine’s, NZ Woman’s Weekly,  ran this article on their blog. It holds a family secret – revealing what made KurtX turn back to his music again.

KurtX, harmonica hero from NZ's Got Talent
KurtX, harmonica hero from NZ’s Got Talent

Wellington Newspapers, The Wellingtonian and The Cook Strait News, also ran articles on KurtX. He was on local radio station Classic Hits on Monday morning and busked in town during his lunch hour so he could meet the public.

New Zealand’s Got Talent backstage blog also reveals what KurtX’s favourite ice cream is – although he doesn’t eat ice cream before going onstage – so he won’t damage

KurtX plays cool tunes on his Memphis Meltdown at NZ's Got Talent.
KurtX plays cool tunes on his Memphis Meltdown at NZ’s Got Talent.

his lips before a performance. In this link, you’ll also get to see his fellow semi-final contestants – Jenny, Oceana, Geordie and OK Krew – in action!

KurtX had a fabulous time with them – doing push ups with Oceana on his back, gifting one of his back up harmonicas to a member of the OK Krew, (and teaching him how to tune it on the spot) and hanging out with Geordie and Jenny.  It was a tough show – all the contestants were talented. The results will be announced this Sunday night.

KurtX in Semi-final lineup NZGT
KurtX in Semi-final lineup NZGT

Too see Kurt’s Original audition here’s my earlier KurtX post.

Fore more harmonica fun check out KurtX.com

I’m published! Baby Teeth launches in Wellington, New Zealand!

Tomorrow night is the pre-Halloween launch of ‘Baby Teeth – Bite-sized Tales of Terror.’ My first published short story, ‘Dad’s Wisdom,’ is in this anthology!

Group Bench 1mediumres
Wellington Authors Back L-R: Michael Parry, Paul Mannering, Dan Rabarts, Sally McLennan. Middle: Jack Newhouse, Eileen Mueller, A J Ponder. Front: Jenni Sands, Darusha Wehm.
baby-teeth-cover-20130820
Baby Teeth cover

Baby Teeth is an odd concept. Inspired by the creepy things that kids say, these horror stories are raising funds for children’s literacy in New Zealand, via Duffy Books in Homes. What a great way for writers to raise funds for children! When I heard about the charity aspect, I wanted to be involved. Two years ago, I organized a project to help children’s literacy in Fiji, so this was a cause close to my heart.

Before submitting,  I read some of these stories and was so creeped out that I nearly decided not to submit! Some of the Baby Teeth authors have been doing horror for years and do it very well! However a story about a little boy having fun with a monster caught my eye. It was creepy but really funny. Voila! I had my inspiration. Thank you Paul Mannering for showing me that horror can be hilarious!

Mine is a quirky, humorous tale about a boy who finds a dragon under his bed and goes to Dad for advice – with unexpected results! I’ll be reading ‘Dad’s Wisdom’ tomorrow night. Paul Mannering will be reading the tale that inspired me to write about creepy things kids do to raise money for kids’ literacy.

Dominion Post’s Capital Day page features Baby Teeth

New Zealand press have been intrigued about this odd collection of stories helping kiwi kids so I was able to place four articles in these newspapers. The Dominion Post (national NZ newspaper) ran this feature today  The Wellingtonian ran this article. The Hutt News ran this story. Cook Strait News published the article below .

 

Cook Strait News post launch article.
Cook Strait News post launch article.

 

Come to the Quality Hotel, 223 Cuba St, Wellington. Drinks from 5:30pm. Readings at 6pm. Join our Facebook event.

 

See a review by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (SFFANZ) 

To purchase Baby Teeth go to http://www.paperroadpress.co.nz

baby-teeth-wellington-launch-poster-lores-1