Something to Talk About ~~ by Mark Huntley-James, #OMP Blogger

Something to Talk About ~~ by Mark Huntley-James, #OMP Blogger

There are so many things my mother never talked about.  One of them was money, so it was quite a surprise to me, as her executor, to learn that she actually had some.  Since she never talked about it, I was also surprised by one of the charities she made bequests to.  The British Heart Foundation made sense – she had a heart condition – and likewise the diabetes charity, but the one that initially puzzled me was Cancer Research UK, because I saw no immediate connection.  There didn’t need to be one, but the other causes she supported were things she had had a close association with, so I expected something.

Of course, illness was another thing my mother never talked about.  Yes, she would tell you all about her glucose levels, how the latest pills were doing, but she only ever mentioned her own health.  She skipped over Grandad’s health twenty years ago, yes he was quite ill so she was staying with her parents to help out, but that was about it.  I knew he was ill, in a subliminal way, because his vegetable patch wasn’t dug over – the first time in all the years I was old enough to notice – and he looked short.

I don’t have any good way to describe it properly. Grandad was taller than me and broad in the shoulders, but now he looked short. My mother did say he wasn’t feeling well.

What my mother avoided mentioning, discussing or otherwise bringing out into the light of day was that Grandad had cancer. Some months later I took the umpteen hour drive down again, and saw him in hospital a few weeks before he died – he looked terrible, but he was being discharged and I drove him home.  Just being away from the hospital perked him up and by the time I left at the end of the weekend, he was looking good.  Of course, no-one was mentioning the C-word, let alone the terminal diagnosis.

I’m sure I must have worked it out, but I wasn’t telling myself either.

So, I shouldn’t have been surprised by any of my mother’s bequests.  They all touched her.

Nine months ago, I was asked if I would like to contribute a story to a charity anthology and I agreed.  It seemed like a good idea, supporting a worthwhile cause, and there it was again, Cancer Research UK.

I wonder what my mother would have thought?  She didn’t really talk about that sort of thing.


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.


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

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The Sounds of Silence ~~ by Michele Potter, #OMP Blogger

The Sounds of Silence ~~ by Michele Potter, #OMP Blogger

What goes through your mind on an early morning walk?

For the first part of my morning ritual, my mind is pure chaos. The stream of consciousness chides, cajoles, threatens, and screams at me as I plod along.

You didn’t need that bowl of ice cream last night!

Get that house clean!

Why can’t you stay on a schedule?

What were you thinking?

Why did you say that to him?

And on and on . . .

Interspersed with lectures from my other selves are words that I can’t forget: sharp words that hurt, rebukes, insults, and the like that should have been pushed back into the dusty closets of my mind. Instead, they echo as heavy backdrops of negativity. They weigh me down as I walk, translating physically by making my back and legs ache, my head throb.

My walk becomes more like a wild boar crashing through than a graceful gazelle on the Serengeti.

How does one find serenity? I know people who always seem calm and reasonable, a joy to be around. Even in the face of adversity, they can find silver linings. I tend to do the opposite. And when I consider what kind of a life I’ve had thus far, it hasn’t been that tough. Especially in comparison to others.

“There’s always someone worse off,” my mother would say when I complained about most anything. And I know that now; in fact, I knew that then. Yet this compulsion to get down on myself, to torture myself by going over and over every real and perceived wrong is constant, no matter how often I beat it back.

I stop at the little bridge to watch the rushing water, muddy and ever-changing. We’ve had some recent rains, and I can see where the creek had risen on its banks. A doe hesitantly ventures out from the trees, followed by twin fawns. They drink at the wide part of the creek, choosing to ignore me standing on the bridge. They know I’m not dangerous. Crazy, maybe, but not dangerous.

I take a deep shuddering breath as if I had been holding it in. Tears hang like silver threads in the back of my head. I haven’t cried in ages and I’m not going to now. A sweet melody from a goldfinch trills across the valley. I hear a tree frog and splashing sounds as the deer run across the creek.

I decide to go on with my walk and my life. My sneakered feet make a rhythmic pleasing sound on the trail. A truck passes on the road nearby, the first traffic I’ve noticed this morning. I meet a bicyclist who greets me with a good morning and a smile.

The flora by the trail is fifty shades of green. Fifty Shades . . . I laugh at my own “literary” reference. The words in my head fade into a hum, and I pick up my step. I walk through a spider’s strand, brushing it off and breaking it. That poor spider worked a long time to get that strand just right to catch its breakfast, and I’ve gone and wrecked it. But what if it had caught me? A storyline partially forms in my mind.

I’ll never reach serenity or Nirvana, but hey, I’m all right for now.


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.

https://www.amazon.com/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=la_B00CBFLI1W_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095358&sr=1-4

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095546&sr=1-1


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

 

Newly Published Addition to #OMP Short Story Anthology — OMP: Variety

Newly Published Addition to #OMP Short Story Anthology — OMP: Variety

Check out the latest offering by the #OneMillionProject!

https://www.amazon.com/One-Million-Project-Variety-anthology-ebook/dp/B07FNJ91XX/


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the organizations listed above to combat cancer and homelessness.

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

 

Homelessness – Is It A Man-Made Disaster? ~~~ by Moinak Das

Homelessness – Is It A Man-Made Disaster?   ~~~  by Moinak Das

A couple of weeks back, I was traveling to Mumbai, a densely populated city on India’s west coast. It is the financial centre of the Indian subcontinent. It is a region, famous for its demographic diaspora.

Mumbai is also famous for its maze-like, super-cheap and robust railway connectivity. I remember I took a train from Kalyan to Bandra to visit a friend’s house. It was an hour-long journey. I wasn’t traveling alone. I was traveling with the friend himself. And we were discussing a lot of topics during the commute. One such topic was ‘homelessness’. Homelessness is the condition wherein people fail to arrange a safe, secure and stable habitat.

For a very long time, I have believed homelessness to be a manmade disaster. The reason was simple. In my opinion, anything naturally available and critically essential to human existence must be made into a basic human right. But, a quick google research tells me that is not the case with land! Internationally, no treaty or declaration specifically refers to a human right to the land.

Countering my left-wing socialist views, my friend argued with rationals. He made me calculate the total surface area of the land on earth. Using simple high school mathematics, a few basic calculations and a couple of obvious assumptions, I found this to be approximately 60,000,000 square miles. Of this, 33% is desert, 24% is mountainous and only the remaining is actually habitable. This leaves us with approximately 25,000,000 square miles of habitable land. Then I divided this by the approximate number of people living on earth. We found out that each person (irrespective of his or her age and gender) can have up to 2 acres of land to live on. Not to forget, this habitable land also includes the forests and therefore ain’t very beneficial. Now, if we also brought into consideration the land space required for farming, manufacturing and other essential constructions, we would be left with less than 1 acre of land per person. Also, every 3 seconds, a child is born and every 11 seconds a person dies. The ratio roughly turns out to be 4 to 1. With life expectancy increasing, the 11 seconds will rise and the 3 seconds will decline. “In other words, we have a severe land crisis bomb ticking on which is going to blast, if not now, very soon!” he concluded.

I did agree with his rationale to some extent. He had a valid point. But the socialist ‘me’ couldn’t settle with this. I argued for this unjust fallacy. When you think about it, the majority of our world works to pay their rent, or for a place to live in. But why? The land belonged to everyone equally in the beginning. It surely didn’t belong to the governments. And neither did it belong to any private entity. They didn’t create it. The land was created by nature, by God or whatever you’d like to call it. But somehow we have found the reasoning in being charged for what should be free unequivocally. We continue to be sheeple, thinking that money should be given in exchange for things that are rightfully free to all the living beings by default. And we have even developed rationales to justify this fallacy.

My friend cut me short again! “And where do you plan to build the factories? Where do the 6-lane highways lie? Where does your shopping mall stand? And where do we place this railway station?” my friend fired, pointing out of the window.

“And why do we need them? Why do we need shopping malls? Why do we need 6-lane highways? Can’t we live like people used to live in good old days? Can’t we have lived in our own parcel of lands and have grown just the amount of food we need to survive?” I argued back.

Bandra arrived pretty soon. And we had to get down. Of course, we didn’t talk on this anymore.

I don’t know who was right and who was not. But I still believe this thing. There doesn’t have to be homeless people, or people being evicted because the economy can’t sustain itself and provide jobs. There doesn’t have to be hungry people because the economy can’t produce enough.

However, as easy as they might seem, they are too idealistic to be followed in this pragmatic world. For that is why tough socialists have constantly failed and feeble capitalists have survived.


OMP Admin Note:  Moinak Das is an aspiring writer and an impromptu storyteller. A curious wanderer as he is, you can expect any genre in his writings. So enjoy reading and let the ink of imagination flow.

https://inkofimagination.wordpress.com/

On the Borderlands of Fantasy ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

On the Borderlands of Fantasy ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

I write fantasy. I read fantasy. I suppose I love fantasy. But I do not live it. Nope. I cross no fingers, knock no wood. I change the smoke-alarm batteries yearly and disdain mutant clovers, blessed crosses and St. Anthony medals for protection. I buy Captain Crunch, not Lucky Charms. I rotate my tires, signal lane-changes and floss. I yawn at spilled salt, black cats and cracked mirrors. I stare up at the night sky and see no Man in the Moon; just craters and plains with Latin names. I am… Mr. Reality.

And yet my daydreams are of stone vaults where cloaked figures gather for the Ritual. When enemies duel on a cliff-edge, I am there, popcorn bowl in hand. As lightning flashes across the cemetery, it lights up my eyes as much as any vampire’s. My ears are tuned to the sound of a ghostly horse trotting down the midnight road.

I told my kids Santa was a fraud, the Easter Bunny a flop-eared construct. That the periodic chart of the elements had greater influence over their destiny than any Zodiac. Even as I read to them from the Hobbit, Narnia, Prydain, Goosebumps, and the tales of Mr. H. Potter. Sometimes I wondered: did this create a fault line that must, soon or late, shake their lives?

Which duality brings us to scrubs. If there is a spectrum of fantastical clothing, with golden armor and velvet capes upon one side, the dress-code for Reality’s far end is blue-green plain two-piece unisex cotton clothing. Scrubs, that maketh the soul to stand in the harsh fluorescent lighting of what is real.

My daughter is interning in nuclear-med imaging tech. She can recite the bones of the body as I can the kings of Numenor. List the interactions of human organs as I can explain the factions of Dune. And gives me advice on hydrating as though I lived on Arrakis. She comes home in scrubs.

It is not really a uniform. It is more like holy armor. It says the wearer has been helping cancer patients out of wheelchairs and back in again. Injecting strange potions into veins, scanning bones and soft tissues with magic devices that will reveal the ill within.

I ask how her day went, and she shrugs. For her, it was just another day in reality town: fluorescent lights and heavy traffic. She knows what is real. Things that leave weird stains on your scrubs. But now I’m not so sure I know.

I am not a person given to causes and quests. OMP’s chance to write a story for a charity tilting at cancer was mere opportunity to do a bit of daydreaming. And yet, and yet… I think I have wandered across the border I spent so many years mapping. I sit at the kitchen table and worry that the fantasy world is slyer than I gave it credit. It wants us to be heroes, or villains, or at least explorers in strange lands. To take the quest, tilt against the giants or the windmills.

Bah to fantasy fog! I’m sitting at the kitchen table in Reality’s sunlight, feeling proud and nervous. True, outside the window I hear thunder, and maybe the hoof-clops of a ghostly horse. Old stuff, old props I can handle. But…scrubs? Who would have supposed they could be the magic robes of fantasy?


OMP Admin Note:  Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas.  A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.

Gays — by Akje Majdanek

Gays — by Akje Majdanek

I can’t remember why I was at Electric Lit recently, but I stumbled across “this post” from a gay reader who resents heterosexual women writing m/m romance novels.

I can see his point, but of course, these novels aren’t meant for gay men, they’re written for straight women. They’re not supposed to be accurate portrayals of gay men; they’re supposed to be portrayals of men the way we want them to be. All romance is fantasy, after all.

Speaking for myself, I first started reading m/m romance when I’d read one too many hetero romances with a bimbo heroine and it occurred to me, Why am I reading a book about some TSTL heroine who isn’t me having a relationship with a great guy she doesn’t deserve, when I could get two men for the price of one?

It just made more sense to read about two men coming together than try to live vicariously through some stupid cow I couldn’t relate to. Evidently, a lot of other romance readers feel the same way. (♯^.^♯)

But I can totally sympathize with gay men who get a rude awakening when they stumble across one of these books. I feel the same way when I buy a bookmarked literary fiction, only to find it’s actually pulp fiction that happens to have stream-of-consciousness, a navel-gazing character, or an emphasis on characterization over plot. Personally, I define litfic by depth, not by gimmicks.

What’s needed is a better way to categorize books so the appropriate audience can find them and others know to avoid them. The problem is how to do that when the Book Industry Study Group is slow to recognize new genres, and Amazon has even fewer categories than the BISAC listings.

Actually, pondering it now, I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. ˓(ˊᘩˋ⋆)


OMP Admin Note:  Akje Majdanek is a writer and OMP Network member.  Akje is a guest blogger for the One Million Project website whose creativity is evidenced in her work.  Akje’s books–Der Reiter and Adeline–are available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Akje_Majdanek/e/B00UZSTW74 

The Problems with History ~~ by John Nedwill

The Problems with History ~~ by John Nedwill

Normally I write short stories. There is a discipline to it, trying to write a story that is complete but compact. And there is definitely a challenge in writing something that makes sense and is engaging when you only have a certain number of words to tell it in. Besides, the short story form seems to suit my butterfly mind. It allows me to develop an idea, write it down and move on before I become bored with the whole thing.

This does have its drawbacks, though. I find it very difficult to sustain a story to 10,000 words – let alone the 100,000 that most publishers seem to demand for a modern novel! It’s not that I just stop writing, leaving my story hanging in mid-air. No. What happens is that I start to close down my story. I resolve the various plot threads, I try to give the characters their endings, and then everything is brought to a (more or less) satisfactory conclusion.

Still, I am trying my best to overcome this. I recently embarked on a project that I think might actually be worthy of receiving a longer treatment. While doing some research into the history of my family, I discovered an interesting but little-known incident: the Larne gunrunning of 1914. As I looked deeper into events surrounding the incident, I found myself fascinated by the personalities involved, the political machinations surrounding it and the actual logistics of smuggling guns into Ireland. The more I looked, the more I became convinced that there was a story here that needed telling.

That’s when I hit another problem. For those not familiar with the recent history of Ireland, it has been a rather turbulent two or three centuries, the events of which still have repercussions to this day! And some of the people of Ireland have long memories and can be very touchy about certain subjects. So, rather than risk the wrong sort of attention by dramatising the actual events, I decided I would write a story that was a fiction based on the events of 1914, with names and places changed to suitably muddy my trail.

Oh dear. If you think writing historical fiction is hard work, it’s even harder trying to disguise it! I have had to alter the details of the events, changing them so that while they are accurate, they are not accurate enough to offend people. I have had to invent characters who, while they reflect the people involved, are not the actual people themselves. I’m also trying to play up the farcical elements of the whole thing. A sense of humour can be a wonderful defense. In short, the whole thing is a minefield and I feel like I’m dancing around the craters!

Will I actually bring this project to a conclusion? Will I break through the 10,000 word barrier? Will my story even see the light of day? I have no idea, but I’m going to find out!


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.