Wasn’t There, Wasn’t Me~~by Mark Huntley-James

I just got hung up on one of those writing mantras – write what you know – which is tricky when you write about demons and time-travellers. I’ve written about this before, but I’m going to do it again, because once again I wasn’t there, and it wasn’t me, leaving me writing about what I don’t know.
I have been struggling with a scene, which is such a common thing it’s barely worth mentioning. For me, it’s a big problem, but for the rest of the world, such a tiny matter that it’s beneath notice. My anti-heroine is in trouble, deep in the heart of the enemy, with no external help, lots of guards, that sort of thing. I know she gets out of it… but how? And how to do it without breaking the rest of the story.

Whilst I’m figuring it out, there’s other things to do – write about the lambs born over the month, the cat sleeping in one of the hens’ nest boxes, the abrupt transition in the weather from blazing skies and drought to endless, chilly downpour. That stuff is easy, because I’m there, seeing it, experiencing it and writing what I know. I can picture it, even down to the cat sensing what was coming and moving before I could get a photo.
You really can’t beat real life for supplying the whole package – world ready-built, characters established, plot done, humorous hen with wide-eyed look available as an optional extra.

It’s a bit more tricky imagining myself as a manufactured, gender-indeterminate assassin trapped in the palace of a mad emperor exiled to a world outside of time, trying to engineer a coup d’etat in the middle of a brewing civil war. Cornwall just isn’t like that.

Much.

The thing is, years back I wrote a scene concerning a demonically-possessed bus doing a high-speed getaway down a dangerously steep urban street called Race Hill, with high walls to either side, and sweeping oncoming vehicles into the afterlife with dual-beam hellfire. That was easy, because Cornwall really is like that (apart from the demon stuff).

I’ve driven down Race Hill in nearby Launceston, although to be honest, the really narrow sections are one-way, so there was no oncoming traffic, a Volvo estate doesn’t count as a possessed bus, my fictional Race Hill is a smidgen steeper and it heads out of town, not into the centre. Even so, I’ve been there, and it was me driving, and for the bits that weren’t quite right, I borrowed snippets from Summer Hill in Bristol where I grew up, a street that used to have hand-rails in places.

Sitting here, writing this, I can picture Race Hill in my head so easily, although it does morph into that more dangerous and possessed one.
That doesn’t answer the detailed questions over my anti-heroine assassin, but it tells me where to start – I need to be there, to see it all through her (or his – bit indeterminate there) eyes. I actually installed some mind-mapping software, which is just like having a huge whiteboard and an endless supply of post-it notes, that all fits on one laptop screen and doesn’t blow away if the summer ever comes back and I can write outside. Armed with my virtual whiteboard, I could be there, trapped in the palace of a mad emperor, looking for ways out and writing it all down, so that I can relocate it all to somewhere closer to home.

OK, so Cornwall isn’t really like that. Devon, on the other hand…

This palace of the mad emperor, in my head, is not entirely unlike Derriford hospital in Plymouth. OK, not too many exiled emperors there, or guards with orders to shoot on sight, but getting lost there the first time sticks in my mind, because even with the internal maps, those corridors just seem to go on forever, and because it is built on a hillside, the main entrance is on level six, which messed with my head from the start. The important thing is that I was there, it was me, and the experience translates so easily to a world outside of time.

When my anti-heroine finally escapes she probably won’t stop for lunch at the nice Thai Noodle place, but that’s her loss. Perhaps she would if there weren’t a war on.

My writing problem was that I wasn’t there and it wasn’t me, but now that I am there and it is me, everything works so much better, even if there aren’t any prawn crackers to look forward to.

PS My last excursion on this topic lives at https://markhuntleyjames.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/am-i-there-yet/


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

“Where IS our home, Mummy?”~~by Christine Larsen

With a hand raised in policeman STOP-style, little Miss Four-year-old causes onlookers to stop in their tracks as she replies to her mother’s summons—”SHH-HH-HH! I’m ON THE PHONE, can’t you see?” Few witnesses would guess the pink ‘pretend’ cell-phone she speaks into is a rescue from a heap of unwanted clothes, goods and chattels piled outside a local charity shop.

Even fewer would realise the clothes of mother and daughter came from probing through those same piles of rejects… after they’d formed a bed for them, the previous night. If they looked more carefully, they may notice the creases and wear in the mismatched clothes, always too big or too small; the slight sloppiness of the incongruous yellow rubber boots, and the unkempt hair, nowhere near as clean at it should be.

Casual onlookers do not understand why behavioural issues are already rearing their ugly heads—seemingly patiently tolerated by the mother. How can they empathise without knowing the emotional isolation these two endure due to the constant changes in their ‘home’? Mother and daughter are unwilling and helpless members of the homeless army, adrift each night on public streets.

Elsewhere, a small boy searches his mother’s tired, beaten face and persistently asks, “Where IS our home, Mummy?” He’s never totally ‘well’—his sniffly nose and harsh, recurring cough fairly shout how tough they are doing their lives, and the tragic results of the basic health care possibilities that pass him by, constantly. For him, such things as proper and adequate nutrition, immunisations and dental care are luxuries—mostly unknown to him.

His mother knows… only too well, sadly. And agonises over her inability to care for him ‘properly’. Sometimes, as she suffers through the chill of her heart and soul that perfectly mimics her body’s discomfort, she questions whether she could have/should have stayed with the monster she’d fallen in love with, so long ago. Guilt and the toughness of life these days almost drives her back to the nightmare of regular verbal and physical abuse. Almost. She shudders. No…no…no!

In the past, in her dreams she imagined life would somehow be better once her son was at school. Wrong! His sad world had to be hidden by lies, like why his school uniform was ill-fitting, his shoes scruffy; his avoidance of friendships where the truth may come out; his inability to ever have someone back to his place to play, to have an ‘overnighter’… resulting in him having few if any friends. He’s always having to find a way to avoid those unaffordable school outings and excursions. His stress levels are high, his academic skills and concentration low, his chances of any kind of successful future exceedingly slim.

Thankfully, most of us can only imagine what the sour taste and soul-chilling feel of not having a roof over your head at night must be like, although many choose to never confront this reality. In far too many warm homes there will be those watching a TV commercial about the desperate plight of the homeless—especially through the endless hours of current winter nights—who turn away, muttering, “I can’t watch this. It’s too terrible. Why must they show this sort of thing when we’re eating our tea? It’s so thoughtless!”

What a terrible trial for an adult to endure… and then there’s that homeless child.

Thoughtless indeed to share film of the plight they live All night, every night.


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.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


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