Noticing Noticing~~Mark Huntley-James

Mornings have a simple routine, get up, check the animals, have breakfast, except for winter when breakfast happens first whilst we wait for daylight. That’s most mornings. Some time back now, I had one of the specials where I needed to be somewhere, on time, clean and presentable. That meant add in getting showered, finding clothes with no significant animal debris on them, and packing in lots of extra jobs that couldn’t wait until after I got back.

The clean clothes were already set out. All I had to do was shower, cook breakfast, get clothes off the rack beyond my partner’s desk, check weather forecast, nice legs, stroke cat…

Wait. Nice legs? Where did that come from?

Back up. Literally. It was something that caught my eye on the desk – a piece of junk mail waiting for the decision: recycle immediately, use as fire-lighter, use as litter-tray liner. In the semi dark, some unquiet corner of my mind that still remembers its testosterone-addled youth picked out a dim photo, and nice legs. It took some staring at the desk to put the pieces together.

The thing is, this was just a passing glance. All that background stuff in my head, at the subconscious level, picked out a particular detail – part of the activity we mostly don’t notice. The same stuff that gets your foot shifting to the brake before you can consciously paraphrase the Bard – is that a pedestrian I see before me? – or keeps your fingers out of the way of the knife so that supper remains the vegetarian option. We spend so much of our time not actually noticing all the stuff we notice, that it comes as a surprise when circumstances make us actually notice it.

The people who do the adverts in the junk mail know it too, even if they don’t know they know it. That picture, on close inspection, was an ordinary young couple walking down an ordinary street. When I pick it up and look at it now, my head doesn’t instantly say ‘hey, nice legs’, except as an echo of earlier surprise, instead it explores things like do we want another credit card? No. Not even with really competitive rates and easy balance transfer? Er, no. Mostly my head says, is this paper too shiny for the litter tray? But somewhere, in the background, that bit of my mind is probably still chuntering – nice legs, see, told you so. So even though I don’t want the credit card, and surely wouldn’t be swayed by the nice legs, some bit of me noticed, and there’s no telling how insidiously it might be nagging the rest.

Now here’s a thing – I am currently ploughing through a manuscript, doing final edits and proofing, with a view to publishing it in the coming month – and there’s a minuscule theme of nice legs running through the story. My thief is chasing a rich-girl, because she’s made off with the trinket he was stealing, and his thoughts encompass nice legs and good legs for running. Is this just random chance, or did the Tiny Plot Detail department in my subconscious have this thing lying around and spot an opportunity to use it?

So not only did I notice a tiny detail in passing, I’ve now noticed that I seem to have folded that into a story. It makes me wonder how many tiny details slip into my writing without me even noticing where they come from.

Hmmm… this reminds me, I must tell my partner I’ve just noticed there’s some junk mail needs processing. Nice fire-lighter.


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 http://writeedge.blogspot.co.uk, his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

At Any Age ~~ by Kate McGinn

At Any Age ~~ by Kate McGinn

Today I turn 59 years old. It’s hard to believe that only four years have passed since I began to seriously proceed on my writing journey. I’ve always written stories as soon as I knew how to read and write. When I was young, I dressed up in some type of costume or outfit living out the fantasies in my head as a part of my play. 

As my younger sisters grew, I included them in my make-believe worlds assigning them roles. Our little trio did pre-school improvisation presenting our playacting fun to our family.  I wrote songs (bad songs), and to this day my sister and I remember one of them and can sing it. No one, trust me, no one wants to hear it.

In high school, an English teacher thought enough of my stories to submit one to a national competition. It didn’t win any prizes but knowing that he’d thought enough of my work to submit it made me so proud. Why didn’t I end up writing my first book until I was fifty-five years old?  Life — it’s that simple and that complex.

I hear writers lament about not starting sooner or worrying that the fact they began writing, later in life diminishes their creativity in some way.  As if being an empty-nester or a retiree, somehow lessens the validity of what they are doing. The words and phrases like “hobby”, “time on my hands”, and “writing for the enjoyment” reduce the level of professionalism and creativity because the author is older.

When I was thirteen years old, I visited my uncle and aunt in Newtown, Connecticut for a summer. My aunt’s grandmother had painted several canvases I’d admired. One was a masted ship sailing on an ocean, another illustrated a lush Japanese garden, and the third painting depicted a scene showing my young cousin playing at the beach. I remember these works vividly, and also that my aunt’s grandmother was in her nineties when she began painting.

Toni Morrison published her first novel at age 40. Dorothy Allison, the author of Bastard Out of Carolina was 42 years old when it hit the scene. George Saunders was an environmental engineer before becoming a best-selling author at age 37. George Eliot published for the first time when she was 40. The author of  White Oleander, Janet Fitch, knew she wanted to write at age 21, but didn’t publish her first book for another 18 years. Even Mark Twain didn’t write Huckleberry Finn until he was 49! Other authors who had their first breakthroughs after their mid-thirties include: Cheryl Strayed, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Maya Angelou.

Being older doesn’t negate the creative voice, but it can accentuate the depth of life experiences we bring on our writing journey.  I’ve had over forty years of heartbreak, love, sadness, triumphs, failures, and joy that my young teenaged self hadn’t experienced yet. I worked as a nurse for over thirty years, served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, became a wife, a mother, and a bed & breakfast owner during those years. I lived in Texas, Florida, and Italy. I traveled to multiple countries and across the USA. Every single memory good and bad influence the words I place on the page.

It’s never too late to tell your stories. Don’t ever let your age whether young or more mature (like me) stop you from pursuing your creative dream. It is valid at any age.


OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn 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. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

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 and in the One Million Project Fiction Anthology. Her Clare Thibodeaux Series which includes the suspense books — EXODUS, WINTER’S ICY CARESS, and NEVER SHOW YOUR HAND — is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Kate’s stories can also be found in the magazine — Mom’s Favorite Reads available on Amazon and Smashwords.

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KUKTYFQ

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1473258097&sr=1-2-ent


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

Bemused~~John Nedwill

I was in the bathroom getting ready for work when she walked in. “Hey!” she said and sat down on the toilet. I grabbed for a towel to cover myself up.

“Don’t you knock?” I asked, trying to make up for lost dignity with indignation.

“No,” she said. “You know I don’t. Now, I’ve got an idea that I’d like to discuss with you.”

I waved my foam-covered toothbrush at her. “Can’t it wait? I’m a bit busy right now.”

She sighed and stood up. “Alright. I’ll catch you later.”

And, with that, she vanished.

The next time she showed up was when I was on my morning commute. I was in my car, waiting for the lights ahead of me to change. She walked up to my car, opened the passenger door and got in. “We need to talk,” she said. “About this idea of ours – remember?”

“I remember.” I drummed my fingers on the car’s steering wheel. “It’s just it’s a bit awkward right now. Can we – ?” I was interrupted by someone in queue behind me sounding their horn, letting me know that the traffic light had turned from red to green.

“Later?” she asked in a disappointed tone, then vanished.

Later turned out to be when I was sitting in a meeting. The room was full of too many bodies, giving off too much heat as the Chief Engineer droned on about quality assurance and budgets. My attention was drifting, so I didn’t notice it when she let herself into the room.

“Can you get out of this?” she whispered in my ear. I shook my head. “Not even if there’s an urgent appointment you just remembered?” I shook my head again. “You’re no fun.”

I didn’t see her again until much later. I was in bed, asleep, when I was woken by somebody shaking me. “Good,” she announced as I turned on the light. “I’ve got you all to myself.”

I fumbled for my glasses and looked at the clock beside the bed. It was after midnight. “You want to talk about your idea. Now?”

She gave me a grin that was full of teeth and mischief. “Yes, I do. And I’m not going to let you sleep until we’ve sorted it out.”

“Fine.” I levered myself up and searched for the pen and notebook that I had left on the floor by my bed. “Where shall we start?”


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology