Two things happened so far this year that can be considered positive developments. I created a Patreon page to help finance my stories, including ’The Mercy Giver,’ and three of my stories in These Broken Worlds have been nominated for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards.
And they are not bad little stories either. In ‘A Tale of Two Moons,’ an alien longs for her destroyed homeworld. In ‘The Day the Sky Burned,’ I give a ground zero view of the day the Great Alien War broke out, and in ‘When Stars Blink,’ an eyewitness describes the arrival of the aliens
I suppose the award can best be described as New Zealand’s version of the Hugos. I may be wrong, but I’m excited so it’s quite possible I’m not thinking clearly.
The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are fan-voted awards, given by the SFFANZ (Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand) for contributions in the science fiction, fantasy or horror fields, and fans can vote for novels, short stories, art, fanzines, or just services to Science Fiction in general.
The award is made with the generous support of the Weta Workshop. Yes, the same people who designed things for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and many other movies.
Voting takes place at the National Science Fiction Convention here in Wellington each year and nominations for this year’s awards are now being accepted. Deadline for nominations is 8.00pm PST on 28th February 2016, which is just around the corner.
Oh, and anyone can make a nomination and it is free!
So there you have it. My first ever nomination for words I wrote. I know it’s just a nomination and that the number of nominations will decide who lands on the final ballot, but as I write this update, glee pumps through my veins and it’s a good feeling.
TBW was mentioned on Tor.com’s Aurora Australis last year and I remember writing at the time how awesome it felt. But then, TBW is a mini-kōsalogy of awesomeness and a lot of love and commitment from a very talented group of authors went into producing this precursor to “Interspecies,” and so I’m really thankful for the recognition it’s getting.
My smile is tickling my earlobes but I have to get back to writing. I can tell you this, though, as an indie author the nomination inspires the heck out of me.
With a toothy grin, I bid you farewell.
There are ten days left and with only 23 preorders, sadly, The Mercy Giver will not receive funding in time. Still, this was a really wonderful experience for me and I want to thank you kind folks for all the support you've showed. You made The Mercy Giver and me feel welcome and for a writer that is gold.
I have something personal to share with you today.
I took part in a Flash Fiction Competition hosted by the César Egido Serrano, Museum of Words last year (or maybe it was earlier this year, I don’t remember). The competition is held annually with a first prize of $20,000. Yep, a pretty heavy payout for so few words, but trust me, having only a 100 words to write something profound severely limits your options.
The motto for this edition was: “Mandela: Words and Concord”, following the ethos of the César Egido Serrano Foundation of using words as a tool against violence and to promote dialogue. All-in-all, they received 35,609 applications.
I submitted two pieces of fiction. Alas… I didn’t even make the shortlist.
Somehow during the writing of the story and the waiting, I must have really gotten emotionally invested because I actually believed I could win. And it kinda hurts a lot that I didn’t. When I wrote “No More Words” it gave me goosebumps. Growing up in South Africa and hating it there for so very many reasons and considering the path my life eventually took, I felt uniquely equipped to write this little piece. A little piece that is epic in what it leaves unsaid.
Here it is:
No More Words
The old man paused and turned his gaze to the lands of his ancestors far below. He leaned on his staff and studied the valleys and rivers through heavy eyelids. Deep grooves lined his leathery face. The journey up the mountain had been strenuous, filled with many perils.
Qamata called to him, his name a sigh on the warm, comforting wind. “Come child of Africa. You have done enough. It’s time now to rest weary bones. Your ancestors await you.”
The old man chuckled. “A good thing then, eh? I’ve used up all my words.”
“Indeed, Madiba,” Qamata replied. “Indeed.”
To give you some context here, Nelson Mandela was affectionately known as Madiba by most people in South Africa. Madiba is also the name of his clan. According to tradition, a clan name is considered far more important than a surname as it refers to the ancestor from which a person descends.
Madiba was Xhosa, from the Thembu people to be precise. They are a subgroup of the Xhosa nation. Qamata is a prominent god in the folklore of Xhosa people of South-Africa. Qamata is the child of the sun god, Thixo, and the earth goddess, Jobela.
Although Madiba was Christian, when I wrote my story I reimagined death as a journey back to the past, to the very beginning. And in this story I wanted Madiba to travel back to a world free of conflict and influence from outside. It felt natural to write the story this way and it made so much sense at the time. It still does to me.
So, while my story did not make the selection, I’m sharing it with you here so it may stay in the light. At least this way it won’t gather dust in the shadows of obscurity.
As for the other piece I submitted:
Words That Hurt
“But he hit me first!” Tears stained the little boy’s dust-caked cheeks. Blood trickled from a cut on his lip.
The woman held his hand in hers. His scuffed knuckles seemed alien on his young skin, like a corruption.
“Because you called him a coward.” Her eyes were soft and kindly and creased at the corners. She pressed a damp cloth to his lip and the boy winced. “Your lip will heal quickly, Kete, but your words hurt Jac deeply. It will not heal so quickly.”
The boy sobbed. “What can I do?”
“Apologize.” She smiled. “That might help.”
I don’t think this one is as emotionally strong, but the broken skin on the child’s knuckles being described as a corruption felt appropriate and in my view is a good commentary on violence. Again, the power is in what I left unsaid.
Of course, I’m biased. I fully acknowledge that. But I still get an emotional flux when I read my stories. We have only one life to live, after all, and how we live matters a great deal. Surely that must say something, right?
My apologies if this post sounds a bit whiney. I guess it is a little. But now that I have written this I do feel better. There is that, at least.
Love you all
PS: Having had time to reflect on my submissions and eliminating emotion entirely, I have concluded that my piece ended up closer to being an ode than it does a commentary on words and violence.
(Originally published at woelfdietrich.com on November 3, 2015)
A Slightly Updated Cover
This is my first update.
Thanks for the support showed thus far, folks. It is deeply appreciated. I've made a slight change to the cover. Added some color. I know I said the cover for The Mercy Giver is temporary, but I think it's growing on me.
So there you go. Let me know what you guys think. Any ideas or do you like the minimalist approach I'm taking?
Take care y'all