Writers of the Future Contest – Honorable Mention.

Here’s the story of the story that I wrote for the Writers of the Future Contest, and which won me this cute blue badge 🙂

Writers of the Future - Honorable Mention badge for my science fiction short story.

It all began in mid-September with David Farland’s newsletter, in which he mentioned that the deadline for sending the fourth quarter entries for Writers of the Future contest was September 30th. Like all serious readers of his newsletter, I considered the date seriously, and noted it on my whiteboard. Then I checked out the site and realized that the contest invited entries only in Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, which meant that the stuff that I had been writing until then, which included modern-day mysteries, thrillers, or even inspirational stories involving non-fantastical real world beings such as cats, dogs, even birds; wasn’t welcome.

This limited the scope somewhat. My connection with fantasy genre is limited to a casual reading of Tolkien’s LOR and an artist’s peek into my wonderful client Barbara G. Tarn’s books. That left me pondering if science fiction was something I could play with. I enjoy watching science fiction movies and I am Michael Crichton fan. My regular readers know that I own a rickety time-machine that has developed a habit of running out of fuel in odd places and times. Oh, and I am an engineer by education. All this made me decide upon science-fiction as the genre for my contest-entry.

And so I wrote a story and uploaded it for the contest. Right after the bird had flown, I began to see the cracks in my story. My descriptions of smells, sounds, even the characters were either non-existent or minimal;  stuff that I had just skipped over suddenly started looking important, the climax of the story came too late, the resolution could’ve been stronger…the list went on and on – the only thing that actually made sense still, was the story, and a wow that it had garnered from its only reader, my rougher and saner other-half. After berating myself for being in such a tearing hurry all the time, I shook my head, got rid of those nagging thoughts, forgot about the story I had sent, and got back to work.

In the first week of December, I received a surprise email from Ms. Joni Labaqui of Galaxy Press telling me that I had won an Honorable Mention for my story. The badge arrived this morning and I just had to share it 🙂

So there you go. That was my story of the story that I wrote for the Writers of the Future contest.

Now I must get back to the drawing tablet 🙂 I will share some of my new creations with you very soon.

 

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Pilgrims arrive in Cuba – Illustration: Governor Hutchinson & Castro Brothers

Following is one of my more recent illustrations for the Talk Business and Politics magazine.
Pilgrims on Mayflower - Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson travels to Cuba to meet Castro Brother for trade. Illustration for the magazine Talk Business and Politics

The Artwork:

On the left page, you see Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Randy Veach, and Lisenne Rockefeller. The right page has the Castro brothers (Fidel Castro and Raul Castro) in a red car. The left page artwork (which also was the cover-art) is conceptualized around the Pilgrims theme.

The Pilgrims:

In 1620, 132 people sailed from England to America (or the New World.) They arrived on the shores of America in an awkward looking ship called the Mayflower. This ship wasn’t built for long voyages on the open seas, and so the journey from England to the East Coast of America lasted two long months. Upon arriving at Cape Cod, they experienced a climate that was colder than they were used to, so they stayed aboard facing an outbreak of a disease that dwindled their number to 53. The passengers then made huts, settled down, and came to be known as the pilgrims.  Land was sighted on November 9, 1620 and it was then that the first prayer of thanksgiving was offered.

The connection:

The brief was that the Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and two other dignitaries who traveled to Cuba with trade-plans must be shown as the pilgrims approaching the Cubans in a ship (Mayflower.)

The Castro Brothers:

Fidel and Raul Castro have ruled Cuba for more than 50 years. The brothers are often seen together in public.

US-Cuba Relations:

More than 50 years ago, Cuba was placed under sanctions by US. The sanctions that were the outcome of a tussle on oil were imposed in the Kennedy era, and are still in existence. A few years ago, relations between the two countries began to thaw, with both President Obama and Raul Castro “apparently” being on the same page of the embargo story.

And yet, Cuba isn’t really opening its heart for trade with the United States, because despite the green-flag that the United States has been waving on the business front, the embargo is still on – and they would remain until Cuba demonstrates democracy. In general human rights in cuba have been a serious concern for the world-community. According to the US Government, between 1959 and 1993, 1.2 Million Cubans left Cuba for the US for reasons ranging from political executions, forced labor camps, and myriad other instruments of oppression have been in use to the lack of decision-making freedom on issues of health, religion etc.

For the embargo to go, Cuba must become more democratic. Changes are underway and the US Government has been taking a note of it. For instance in 2011, it became legal for Cubans to buy and sell homes. In 2013, Cuba abolished travel restrictions, allowing Cubans to travel the world over. If things move in the right direction, Americans might even get an opportunity to own a home in Cuba.

Right now, US and Cuba are approaching each other with caution and hope 🙂

Check out the Cover Art here.