Homelessness Happens — by Christine Larsen

Homelessness Happens — by Christine Larsen

Homeless. What a desperately sad and empty word. Homeless. Hopeless. Sadly, I’m learning those two words are constant bedfellows. Never thought that’s the address I’d be filling in on those endless bloody welfare forms. Thought that was ‘owned’ by the crims and the druggies and other no-hopers. Didn’t give a thought to those who are left financially and mentally crippled by divorce and losing the family, the home and the job. Didn’t know how easy it was to lose the lot. Or how low that could bring a fellow.  Hmm… interesting words – ‘fell’ and ‘low’. Didn’t know just how low that was until I lost the respect of all I loved; how much I needed them; how ‘nothing’ I felt without them.

Would’ve thought one look at me would be proof enough. I try to keep up a semblance of cleanliness, decency and the like. But it’s damn difficult here on the streets with only the cracked and too often filthy basins in public toilets. Easier to clean one of them than risk the so-called ablution block – a favourite place for the drug-dogs to shoot up. AND leave their needles on the shower floor. If the busted up tiles don’t get you, the sharpies surely will. And a heap of other unsavoury types… don’t go there. Or to public ‘conveniences’ either. IF you have the luxury of choice!

Saw some headlines on a newstand yesterday – another homeless man found frozen where he tried to sleep overnight in an abandoned demolition site. Somewhere in the US of A, they said. This long and fierce cold snap of theirs is taking a terrifying toll of those doing it rough, they said.

Hmm… be grateful for small mercies, they tell us. And I am. I AM grateful for our balmy summer nights Downunder. And a chorus of other ‘down-on-their-luck’ types would chime in – if anyone with the ability to change things ever asked.

There was this bloke. Clever, well-to-do… once upon a time.  Did a story on him, they did. Heap of photos and a video too. Showed 24 hours of his life. He had it all sussed out pretty good actually. Gave me a few ideas to copy, sort of… you know? Like catching the longest line a bus or train takes, riding them to the end and back again. Get a bit of sleep there – well – lots of bits of sleep, actually. Out of the wind and rain on a bad night, bit of a breeze on a stifler. Can’t complain about that.

But one problem is the scourge of our Aussie summer – the heat of the day. Shopping malls are great. Air-conditioned and all, but there are always security guards watching and waiting to shuffle you on… none too gently, either. They recognise who you are. Like they can smell you.  Hmm… probably can, come to think of it.

So it’s back out on the streets – bitumen melting beneath the painfully thin soles of your shoes; shade at a premium – and again, you’re going to get moved on – sooner rather than later.

It’s bloody tough, you know. The good-hearted mob think of clothes and rugs to warm you when you’re down. But there are long, lonely months of heat where we need sunscreen and hats and shade and water. In dreams, you have a fridge with a jug of cold water that never runs dry and a bed that folds loving arms around you all night.

IF perchance you sleep long enough to dream!

OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

Christine can be found on –            IMG_7208

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The Black Hole Of Pantser by Mark Huntley-James

The Black Hole Of Pantser by Mark Huntley-James

One of the big questions writers ask each other is “are you a plotter or a pantser?”  I know it doesn’t sound big, certainly not the most earth-shattering issue, but go on, dip your toe in this creative minefield and ask a writer whether they plan every detail before they write or just go for it. Just ask, if you dare.

I can see the appeal of plotting, the certainty, the sense of knowing where you’re going, but it just never works for me, so I’ve been a pantser since… forever. Now, suggest being a pantser to a dedicated plotter and put your fingers in your ears to block out the screams of anguish.

So, if you ask me, I’m a pantser, and proud of it. Simple, yes? What could possibly go wrong?  OK, that’s a much bigger question.

Last year I got sucked into the Black Hole Of Pantser – a murky Shadowland of creativity. I knew how my story started (I was a third of the way in, after all), and I knew how it needed to end. I’d just written a crazy scene that tied my flawed hero in more knots than a troop of boy scouts could ever undo in one lifetime. It was wonderful, completely crazy, and I could see the ending in the distance… just one more step… wait… who turned my lights out?

The friable subsoil of my plot crumbled under my feet and dropped me into a black hole, the chasm between where I had reached and where I needed to finish. I had no idea what came next. I didn’t even have a spare box of matches to set fire to my fingers. If I were Indiana Jones, there would be snakes as well.

Anyone else down here? Hello? It’s lonely in the Black Hole of Pantser.

I did the only thing I could think of – logged on to my favourite writing community and screamed for help. I wasn’t looking for an actual answer, just fellow writers to say the necessary things:  there, there, I’m sure it will be fine; put the coffee on; try writing a plot outline.

Nobody had the answer, but that wasn’t the point. I was stuck. I needed an open space (other than the black hole) where I could scream frustration and not get escorted away by qualified medical professionals. I needed people who understood.

Then I went and wrote some more. Any old rubbish. What my hero did next, minute by minute. How often did he trip over his own feet? How many books on knots could he find in the library?  Write and write, until I could see light.

I wrote my way around the Black Hole and accidentally backed into the Cave of Random Rubbish. It’s amazing what you can find in there, and even the gloom of the Hole looks bright in comparison…  And there, under a tatty piece of inspiration, was a big tub of Expanding Plot Hole Filler, more than enough to patch over the gap and take me all the way to the ending.  (Oh, and according to the packet, it contained 90% Completely Bonkers, so that was perfect for me.)

Now, if only I had a plan, I would never have got into that mess. Would never have spent an hour or two online, sharing woes and jokes with other writers. Would never have had the pleasure of finding my unexpected way out of the hole over the course of several days “writing blind”.

If only I had a plan, I would be a completely different writer.

Plotter or pantser? An apparently trivial question that is intricately entwined in how we create. Go on, ask the question, and be prepared for a long, long answer.

This trivial big question is like being left or right handed. Liking or loathing marmite.  It’s twisted tightly through the core of the writer’s creative heartland.

Go on, ask the question.

OMP Admin Note:  Mark Huntley-James writes science fiction and fantasy on a small farm in Cornwall, where he lives with his partner and a menagerie of cats, poultry, and sheep.

He has two urban fantasy novels out on Kindle – “Hell Of A Deal” (http://relinks.me/B01N94VXBC ) and “The Road To Hell” (relinks.me/B07BJLKFSS  ) – and is working on a third.

He can be found online at his blog (writeedge.blogspot.com), his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media thing (tw: @MarkH_J, fb: @MarkHuntleyJames)

No Time Like Now — by Michele Potter

No Time Like Now — by Michele Potter

Well, this week another friend passed away from rotten miserable cancer. I hadn’t seen her for quite a while but kept in contact through social media. A little over a month ago, she notified everyone that she had stage 4 liver cancer. She didn’t ask for anything, as was her usual, just that everyone knew and would think about her.

I wish I had gone to see her and talk to her one more time.

Regrets, we all have a few. For everyone I have known who has passed away too soon, I have regrets: that I didn’t visit, I didn’t do this or that, I made excuses, etc. And now they’re gone, and procrastination won’t help a bit. Too little, too late. And here I am feeling sorry for myself instead of having empathy for her family. Someone kick me, please.

I suppose as I get older (which is a better alternative than not having any more birthdays!), this scenario will play out even more frequently. And, at some point, it will be my turn to share the bad news. I’m hoping to just pass away quietly in my sleep after I reach the 100-year mark, but we don’t always get what we want, do we? Perhaps I should get my affairs in order, so to speak. But then what? Just sit around and wait? No, I don’t think so.

I want to put the word out now. If I suddenly kick off, everyone left will have to set it up. And I don’t want one of those “celebration of life” things sometime down the road. Get right on it, no waiting around. I want a wake, with some party atmosphere—don’t be all solemn, please—because you know I love a good party. Serve some booze, wine and beer are fine, maybe ham sandwiches, too. Don’t forget chips. And music. Not that whiny stuff, something more Led Zeppelin-ish. And for God’s sake, mix it up a bit. Tell jokes. Talk about all the stupid reckless crazy things I did in my life. I wouldn’t mind a few motorcycles in the funeral caravan, either. Someone could even ride mine, I guess.

If there’s time, for example, if I suddenly get stage 4 liver cancer, I will plan it out myself. I’m not terribly afraid of dying, but I am afraid of not living enough. Every single friend or family member that passes away before me is a kick in the stomach; it’s not something that I will ever get used to. At the same time, every single one reminds me that there are still things to do and life to live.

We all have to go sometime. Let’s enjoy the time we have now. If you were thinking of visiting an old friend (like me!), make that a reality, not just a thought. There is no time like the present. Literally.

OMP Admin Note: Michele Potter is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues.

Michele is an incredibly diverse and talented writer who I hope will collect her short stories and make them available on Amazon someday soon. In the meantime, her story PERCEPTIONS is available in the guest author section of the flash fiction anthology BITE SIZE STORIES VOLUME ONE.



One Million Project Fiction Anthology

One Million Project Fiction Anthology

The recent publication of the three-volume short story anthologies from the One Million Project was the culmination of over a year and a half of work and coordination of over one hundred writers, editors and publishing professionals. Each week, I will highlight each of the anthologies to give readers a taste of how fabulous these books are. PhotoFunia-1517878513(1)

This anthology contains a variety of fictional works, poetry and even a few non-fictional stories. Step back in time to 1746 with author Sheena Macleod’s Ghosts of Culloden a haunting tale of the last battle fought on Scottish soil. If you have ever considered your dog to be a member of the family, you will cry your heart out when you read Fluffy by Tyke Evenese. I love the poetry of James Cleveland Turner, a former CIA officer whose short story in rhymed verse is similar in style to the rhyming verses of Doctor Seuss.  Mother Hoodie will give you something you never felt when reading a Doctor Seuss story — goosebumps.

I can promise you that One Million Project Fiction Anthology has more than its share of stories that will transport you back centuries in time or maybe just to your childhood. Stories that will make you feel sadness and loss, the tender emotion of new love, or have you laughing at the banter between characters.  This collection of stories brings writers from around the globe who provide the reader with an escape from the daily grind.

The beauty of these publications is two-fold — entertainment for the reader who will be helping to provide funding for Cancer Research UK and EMMAUS Homeless Programs through their purchase.

Cancer Research UK provides research which assists researchers, physicians, and medical centers around the world.  EMMAUS Homeless Programs can be found worldwide with over 330 centers that assist the homeless through job training and assistance to find jobs and places to live.

The One Million Project’s mission is to raise One Million Pounds for charity.  All proceeds from the sales of the anthologies (minus publication/shipping and handling fees) will be donated to the aforementioned charities.

The OMP acknowledges the following contributors who donated their stories and their talents to this project.

Authors: Tom Walburn, Lavinia Leigh, James Cleveland Turner, David Butterworth, Melissa Volker, Jason Greenfield, Sheena Macleod, Patsy Jawo, Riya Bhattacharya, Tyke Evenese, Debra Goelz, Art Dunham, Dawn Barton, Darcy Lundeen, Meixia, Sue Hart, James Loughlin, Michael Walsh, D. J. Meyers, T. E. Bradford, C.L. Henderson, Kate McGinn, Nicole Bea, Steven J. Clark, Christine Larsen, Lorraine Reed, Andrew R. Nixon, Paul Westley, Zoe Mitchell, Nancy PS Hopp, JJ Kendrick, Emma L. Thomson, Michele Potter, Jason Cook, Diane Dickson, Lindsey-Jane Doley, Michelle Kidd, Geraldine Renton, George A. McLendon,  and Suzanne Milne

Compiling Editor: Jason GreenfieldIMG_6873

OMP: Fiction Editors: Sue Hart & K.V. Wilson

Main Cover Designs: D.J. Meyers

Main Cover Logo Design: Claudia Murray

Formatting and Image Editing: Declan Conner

Publisher: OMP Publishing with assistance from Kate Anderson & Dark Ink Press




OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who blogs on a regular basis about various causes and issues.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.