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2012 was the year I wanted to prove myself as a storyteller. Up until then I had written, apart from a few dozen scientific articles and even a handful of a religious nature, a history book disclosing my discovery of Atlantis. Well, difficult as it was to discover Atlantis, writing fiction was even harder.

After Sailors of Stonehenge—that’s the title I gave that historical book—my writings sought to go beyond the mere transmission of information, they wanted to trigger a reaction, a smile, a snort, anything… “to spin the wheel of emotions.” But in my centripetal approach to literature I ended up being absurdly centrifuged.

All the stories collected in this compilation received some distinction: some received laurels, others brushed them with the tips of their titles, and the majority barely poked their heads above the parapet to see them on others’.

That the 25 stories presented here were selected by juries means that some people with sufficient interest in literature to organize contests have taken the trouble to read a lot of stories before deciding that yours is the best or is among the best. And what parameters do they evaluate to make such a decision? Very simple, just one: I like it or I don’t. Trying to go beyond this truism is an impossible task—not even critics and experts have the final word in this regard—because, as the saying warns us, there is no accounting for taste.

Yesterday was a special day because I could experience those five minutes of fame we all eventually get in life.

As I said in a previous post, sometimes I submit my writings to literary contests. The council of a town at the north of Madrid (Moralzarzal) had organized one to which I sent one of my stories. It turned out I was called because my story was among the finalists. The eight authors had to go on a stage set up inside of a bull ring (!). Then, with the tension of the Oscar’s ceremony (relatively speaking), a woman began to open the envelope that had written inside my name! (she said it wrong so for a moment nobody knew whether she was referring to me).

Then came the applause, the envelope with the money, a little speech, an interview for the local television (picture), even signing the book! (they had already published it in advance).

I titled the story “A Tale of Children for Adults,” and in it the characters speak metaphorically about the importance of controlling the five desires that can never be satisfied (money, sex, fame, food and sleep). Fame seems the most innocuous of the list, but that is why it may be the most dangerous.

Next week I’ll pick up another award in Valencia, for a story that deals with the importance of not attaching to material things…  A message to the author? There you are to correct me…

I update this blog with a weekly periodicity, usually on Saturdays. The reason this post comes late is because this past weekend I was traveling in a region of Spain, Extremadura, I had never visited before. I went to a town called Ibahernando (also to Aldeacentenera), in the province of Cáceres, to receive the winning award of a literature contest (short stories) in the national category. The jury liked my story. We should focus on a character born in Extremadura and I took some of my chess knowledge to weave a story around Ruy Lopez, a sixteenth-century cleric who revolutionized chess tactics.

I sometimes send some of my stories to literary contests. This is the first time I win, which is always good for the beginner’s self-esteem. Don’t worry, in this I have my feet on the ground, and my ego will not grow dangerously fat. In Spain there are plenty of prizes, and this is one of the most humble.

The best experience was meeting the people of Extremadura (a region mostly rural) and some of those who came from other parts of Spain to participate in a workshop on literature. Personally, I learned a lot from each of the people I had the opportunity to speak.

Also, they lodged me in a truly beautiful and quiet hotel in Trujillo, and I didn’t miss the chance to do some sightseeing in a town proud to be the birthplace of Pizarro (I don’t go into judging the moral dimension of the conquistadors), as well as Caceres, the capital, with a large medieval old town perfectly preserved.

The funny thing was that the prize consisted of cold meat and cheese (Extremadura is well known for these items)… and I am vegan! Life has a peculiar (samsaric) sense of humor… at least I am still trying to see it in this way.

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"Manuel Vega has written an extraordinary book. He has turned history upside down. I strongly recommend this book."
–Gavin Menzies, author of 1421 and The Lost Empire of Atlantis

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Sailors of Stonehenge