Paying Homage

Paying Homage

By John Nedwill

There is a saying I come across with regards to writing:

“Bad writers plagiarize.

“Good writers pay homage.

“Great writers steal.”

At first, I thought it was one of those irregular verbs. After all, it is just the same thing said in three different ways; the sort of thing that is intended as a comment on writers and how they are regarded. But, more and more, I am convinced that it is valid advice for any writer.

When I started writing, I copied the styles and themes of the writers I was familiar with. After all, we are meant to learn how to write from good examples; and surely a published writer must be one of the best exemplars? However, if someone way back then had confronted me with the statement, “Hey! Your story is exactly like X!”, I would have felt as if I had been caught cheating and changed the subject.

Later, as I became more skilled at writing, I learnt what was good about an author’s work. So, instead of copying an author wholesale, I would consciously select a piece of work that I wanted to emulate the style of. I would pick out what I thought were the key pieces. Was it the way the author constructed their sentences? Perhaps it was the dialogue. Maybe it was the plot structure that I was interested in. Whatever it was, I would take what I wanted and use it to improve my work. Then, if anybody said, “Hey! You’re just like Y!”, I would smile and say,”Exactly.”

Now that I am a more confident writer, if I see something that I like about an author’s style or a story, I have no qualms about lifting it. The difference is that now I make it my own, twisting it to my needs, and hopefully producing something that is new and uniquely mine.

So, what’s the lesson from this? If you’re a writer, then you should not be afraid to admit your influences. You are a part of the culture. Even better – you are someone who expands that culture, adding to it with every word you write. Do not be afraid to embrace that culture and take what you want from it.


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer and OMP Network member, who will be blogging on a regular basis on various issues and causes.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the OMP short story anthologies which will be published by Dark Ink Press this fall.

Crickets

Crickets

Silence is golden.  Right?  Not so much if you are a writer whose characters and plot ideas roll around inside your noggin.  It’s gotten so quiet in my head right now; I can hear crickets chirping.  I know I sound crazy, but I was the book worm who lived her early life through the pages of books.  My imagination was a constant companion, and sometimes it got me into a bit of trouble as I drifted into my made-up world.  My parents would get so frustrated with me.

I love to tease and tell people I have a split personality disorder and hear voices in my head.  Then I smile.  I love freaking people out!

Yoga and 5-7 mile walks tend to bring out the creative voices within me.  I’m still getting some material I like out on paper, but the raging river is a drip, drip, drip right at present.  I’ve retreated to the library to write, hoping Clare and Wyatt or crazy Natalie and her buddies will wander out of the dark recesses of my cobweb-strewn attic of a brain.

So far, not even a mouse skittering across the dusty floorboards…

One beautiful thing about being part of a writing network like the One Million Project, in addition to the charitable aspects at the core of our group, is the camaraderie between the members.  A simple post about a writing issue, etc. and one or more fellow writers will be there to support and offer advice.

You discover you aren’t alone.

Writers can be introverted.  I know I am.  I love people and spending time with friends, but I don’t necessarily search them out.  I’m comfortable being alone.  And with the typical Grand Central Station chaos in my head, that might be for the best (LOL!), but when my mind is an echoing canyon and the only voice is my own yelling, “Where is everybody, everybody, everybody…”

Instead, Keith Urban sings sweet, sad songs through my ear buds while I look through the decades of pain, heartaches, love, joy, and passion I’ve collected over the past 56 years.  I pull at the memory strands belonging to my 26-year-old self.  At that stage of my life, I had more in common with my female protagonists and a little sliver of me lies at the heart of those characters.  How would I deal with the issues facing these young women?

If the younger me pined for the man who’d left me behind, would I move on or attempt to find my absent love?  If I was heading off to Columbia University, what would I be feeling?  Would I love The Big Apple or wish I was home in Corpus Christi, Texas enjoying the beaches and sailing on the Gulf of Mexico?

Is that a little stirring of response?  Lordy, I hope so.  It’s lonely in here with only the crickets for company.

Stop Saying It’s About Feminism

Written by Melissa Volker

Fandoms are passionate. Some more than others. It might seem odd to pen a piece about a fandom’s reaction to casting, because, well…it’s a TV show! But I am a fan and the cultural response is worth looking at.

The bruhaha over the new choice for Doctor Who has stirred the fandom pot with Traditionalists simply crossing their arms with a firm, simple, “No”, Change-Avoiders having panic attacks, hugging themselves and whimpering, “No no no no”, Haters (who aren’t true members of the fandom, in my opinion) who will hate no matter what, and yes, Sexists who simply state that a woman has no business playing that role.

I’m intrigued by all of these negative reactions. I understand some of them. I agree with none of them.

But what is most bothersome to me, to be honest, is the slew of women coming out swinging with a feminist rant. Accusing opposers of the choice of wanting to keep women in the shadows, oppressed, that by their thinking women should still be barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen.

I’m sorry, WHAT? No. Just no. Please, ladies, everything is not a feminist dig and making it so diminishes the things that are.

Doctor Who has progressed with female characters throughout its run. Rose Tyler was no wallflower or pushover. Donna Noble pushed the Doctor around and saved the world. River Song – excuse me…but if ever there was a character that was most like The Doctor but female…there she is.

That’s not what this casting choice is about. It’s about more. It’s about less.

Casting a woman as Doctor Who is on one hand a choice to move the show overall in a different direction, to stir the pot, keep it new, create challenges that will keep the show interesting and save it from growing staid and stale.

Cries of ‘mythology foul’ because a child was sired in the past doesn’t make sense on many fronts, not the least of which is that if the show stayed true to original mythology then it would be over, as Matt Smith’s Doctor had run out of regenerations.

Mythologies can be creatively tinkered with.

Foul that ‘he’ has “always been a man” rings about as valid to me as “it’s always been done this way”. Both arguments, used alone as a reason, are almost always certain to lead to doom.  What’s more The Master had been a man as well, but recently regenerated into Missy but the same uproar wasn’t heard. Why? And if anyone needed proof that a canonically male character could be played by woman, she was it.

But back to the feminism thing. Here’s why it’s not about feminism…

The entire last season dropped hints and laid seeds on something else: gender. The first openly gay character became The Doctor’s companion. That openly gay character ended up flying off into the sunset with an alien who had kept its human form — a female. The end of the series dropped all sort of hints:

 

DOCTOR: She was my first friend, always so brilliant, from the first day at the Academy. So fast, so funny. She was my man crush.

BILL: I’m sorry?

DOCTOR: Yeah, I think she was a man back then. I’m fairly certain I was, too. It was a long time ago, though.

BILL: So, the Time Lords, bit flexible on the whole man-woman thing, yeah?

DOCTOR: We’re the most civilized civilization in the universe. We’re billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes.

 

And near the end:

MASTER: Do as she says… Is the future going to be all girls?

DOCTOR: We can only hope.

 

This is not about feminism. It’s about gender. About what gender means. The Doctor can be in a female body (just like Missy), but still must be The Doctor — with the same memories, the same personality traits, the same struggles and approach to her role in the universe. She will move in a female form but Who she is must remain constant. It speaks to what gender really means and how little an impact it could (perhaps should) have. Gender fluid, non-binaries already get this. It’s Who they are. This could very well illustrate it for the rest of us.

It also offers tremendous story opportunities in reconciling a new female body with his/her past. River Song, for instance. Which again, ties back to gender identity/fluidity.

And simple humanity.

I’m not with the show. I have no idea of intention. But if you look at dialogue, off-hand remarks given by Capaldi’s Doctor this whole last season, I do think the show has chosen to walk the path of gender being unimportant. It is the character that matters. The spirit, the mind, the intention. What body that travels in is irrelevant.

Art has always been a mirror for the world. Doctor Who has been around for so long that in order to survive and stay fresh, to speak to each new generation and build on the fanbase, it must evolve. This is Who we are now. Who we are becoming. This generation is more tolerant, accepting and has more people identifying as gay or, more importantly, in fluid ways than ever before. They are saying that gender is irrelevant. It’s not the focus.

If that’s Who we are becoming, why not Doctor Who.

I will bet that for every angry, petulant and disappointed “No”, there will be a handful of, “Well…duh.”

But beyond all that…it’s just damned cool, it’s a big yay for female cosplayers, and I, for one, cannot wait to see where this Doctor takes us.

It’s a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey adventure! Enjoy the ride!

But please, stop saying it’s about feminism.


ABOUT ME:

Daughter of a playwright/novelist and a poet, Melissa Volker’s debut novel, Delilah of Sunhats Swans was praised by Alice Fulton, Guggenheim Fellow Poet, who said, “Delilah…is a charmer, a being blessed with a charisma as mysterious as it is luminous. You won’t soon forget her.”  It was followed by a collection of short stories and a novella, ‘a life undone’ and in total she has published six novels that include a YA scifi/paranormal and a middle-grade fantasy adventure.

A member of The Straw Dog Writer’s Guild , she recently won Words and Brushes third Collaborative Competition with her short story, ‘Truths’, which can be found on their website.

She is a total geekgrrl, Marvel fanatic and Wonder Woman wannabe (Thor would be cool, too). She cries at commercials and is a proud and loyal Huffelpuff.

 

You can find out more at her website: http://www.melissavolker.

Marketing Tips for Indie Authors by Akje Majdanek

Marketing Tips for Indie Authors              by Akje Majdanek

A lot of writers ask fellow WriteOn members for reviews to boost visibility rather than waiting for organic ones. While it’s supposedly true that more reviews mean more visibility, you could be sabotaging your own efforts. When readers see the same names turning up, again and again, it tells them this is a review circle, and the reviews are fake, so they avoid the books of those authors like the plague. .·´¯`(>▂<)´¯`·.

It’s also against Amazon’s rules for friends, colleagues or relatives to review one another’s books.

Amazon gave me quite a bit of grief when I reviewed Mark and Raymond’s books, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why they kept deleting my reviews. I discovered later it was because they suspected I knew those writers from the WriteOn community since all three of us were members. And they were right. My gushing reviews were legitimate, but against the rules, so I’m not going to review the work of anyone else I know from WriteOn, Wattpad or elsewhere. And you know what? Those reviews aren’t even necessary.

There’s a better way to boost visibility that’s endorsed by Amazon in their latest KDP newsletter, or maybe it was Author Insights. In any case, Amazon said it themselves, so it’s got to be okay.

To increase visibility, you must write more books.

The more books listed on your Author Central profile, the more visible you become, or so they say. Have you filled out your Author Central profile yet? Did you post a clever bio that tells potential readers what you write and piques their interest in your work? Have you added a blog feed so they can see your entries and follow your blog? You’re allowed more than one, so add this one while you’re thinking of it:

https://theonemillionprojectcom.wordpress.com/feed/rss/

For any WordPress blog, you simply add /feed/rss/ to the end of your blog address. For blogs at other sites, it’s probably different, but it’ll be something like atom/feed or RSS/feed or some variation thereof. Check the FAQs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“Okay, so writing more books increases my visibility, but it takes years to write more books! What do I do in the meantime?”

Glad you asked that. Most of you have written short stories, and short stories are books. You offer them separately, CLEARLY MARKED AS SHORT STORIES SO THE READER DOESN’T GET AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE THINKING IT’S A NOVEL. Seriously, make it clear it’s a short story. The readers talk to one another on Goodreads, LibraryThing, and other reader sites, so don’t ever disappoint them. Bad word of mouth travels faster than good word of mouth. ヽ(゚Д゚)ノ

So let me show you what to do, using Soleil Daniels as an example since I know she’s published a short story collection on Amazon. Images From a Wandering Mind is a collection of 15 short stories, so that’s fifteen books she can add to her profile RIGHT NOW, TODAY! And if she adds a paper edition, that’s thirty new books. See how it works? At the moment she’s only got one book listed, so I imagine she’s darn near invisible. She needs to upload each individual story as a separate book for 99¢ each. It’s unlikely any of those books will ever sell because if a reader bought each one separately, it would cost about $15. Why pay that when you can get the whole collection for $2.99? But she’s not trying to sell those books; she’s trying to sell the entire anthology. The collection now looks like a great bargain, eh?

If you haven’t published a collection yourself yet, but you have some individual short stories, you might want to start publishing those now as you write them and then combine them into a collection later, calling it the complete omnibus or something similar, so the reader sees what a good deal it is to buy the whole works. You could even create additional collections based on themes or genres; for instance, put all your romance stories together in one volume and all your fantasy stories into another, etc.

Now, to be honest, I haven’t tried this myself since I only have one short story at the moment, but the rest of you might experiment and tell us whether it actually boosts visibility or not. ヽ(^。^)丿


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 

Cancer Research UK Explores New Development in Immunotherapy

Cancer Research UK Explores New Development in Immunotherapy

The One Million Project was developed to help raise funds for worthy causes like Cancer Research UK (http://www.cruk.org ) and EMMAUS which works to help the homeless.

The ongoing battle against cancer has had some successes with improved diagnostics for early detection and new treatments which have reduced mortality rates in some types of cancer.  Cancer Research UK’s research has shown a potential breakthrough in immunotherapy.  Immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to destroy abnormal cells much like it destroys bacteria to prevent infection.

One of the challenges of immunotherapy in cancer treatment has been identifying specific molecules on cancer cells that can be targeted by the immune system.  Specialized immune cells, called T-cells, need to recognize the specific molecules or “flags” on the surface of the cancer cells so they can destroy them.

Tumors change as they grow, and their genetic codes will also undergo change during this process.  With traditional treatment modalities, these adaptations to the DNA can affect the efficacy and outcomes of current therapies.  A persistent problem with immunotherapy is the effectiveness of the drugs used can vary significantly from patient to patient.

Researchers from Cancer Research UK have discovered this tendency for developing cancer cells to change can help make them visible to the immune system.  The early DNA faults in the tumor’s evolution can persist throughout its development.  These faults are the flags used in immunotherapy.  Computer prediction models based on collected data on a variety of tumors are being used to spot these flags.

Advancements in this area could lead to personalized treatment therapies which would target an individual patient’s tumor based on the type of flag present on the cancer cells. Once the immune system recognizes these specific flags, they can destroy cancer cells with this indicator throughout the human body.  Treatments would be systemic in nature instead of the current protocols which focus on treating cancer cells within a certain organ.

In June 2017, the research led to the discovery of significant amounts of a particular type of T-cell called tissue-resident memory T-cells in the tumors of some lung cancer patients.  The patients with this tissue-resident memory T-cells are 34% less likely to die from their cancer.  This cell is present in the skin and helps in its healing and repair process. Although continued research is needed to develop these theories, it is a step forward in understanding the role of the immune system in targeting specific cancers wherever they occur in an individual’s body.


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. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1473258208&sr=8-1

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

@katemcginn6

https://www.katemcginn.com/

Ban on Creative Arts Allows Control Over Individual Freedom Under Kim Dynasty

Ban on Creative Arts Allows Control Over Individual Freedom Under Kim Dynasty

I recently watched a video of a young North Korean woman, Park Yeon-mi, when she spoke at the One Young World Conference in Dublin, Ireland in 2014.  Her eloquence and passion were evident, and her courage was a testament to the human will when faced with seemingly unbeatable odds.

As a little girl, she remembers her mother telling her that she shouldn’t whisper so even the birds or mice couldn’t hear her thoughts and words.  Park thought their supreme leader could read her mind, in large part due to the vast amount of propaganda about the power of the head of the government consistently presented to the people.

The cultural influences most of us take for granted weren’t even a possibility for her or her people.   She’d never seen books, movies, or heard songs about love stories.  There was one state-run TV station, and internet wasn’t available.  Park had witnessed her friend’s mother executed for watching a Hollywood movie.

The North Korean regime controlled all aspects of its citizens’ lives.  Women and young girls are sold to sex traffickers, and some are raised from birth specifically for that purpose.  If you committed a crime, the government could execute, imprison and punish three generations of your family for your actions.

Park watched an illegal copy of the movie, Titanic, and she realized how oppressive the Kim Dynasty was to its people.  She credits the film with teaching her the true meaning of love and showing her a level of freedom she hadn’t known existed.

Her journey to freedom was fraught with danger and fear they’d be sent back to North Korea.  Her father died when she was 14 years old, and she had to bury him in an unmarked grave on the side of a mountain without a chance to mourn or tell anyone of his death.  But, in April 2009, Park and her mother were flown to Seoul and freedom.

There are three actions which we can act upon to help the citizens of North Korea and the 300,000 refugees in China.  The first is to educate yourself about the situation in North Korea and share the information with others.  Secondly, we can provide help and monetary support to aid the North Korean refugees; and finally, petition China to stop the repatriation of North Korean refugees.

Park Yeon-mi is an activist, author, and speaker.  She has written for the Washington Post and was selected as BBC’s 100 Women in 2014.  She is currently enrolled in Columbia School of General Studies pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.

To see the inspirational video of Park at the One Young World conference,  click here.

The power of creativity and its ability to change thought and influence the actions of others is one of the lessons to be learned by Park’s story.  The Kim Dynasty forbids the creative spirit in its citizens and deprives them of any type of art–motion pictures, books, and music–to maintain control, squash independent thought and enslave them.

The One Million Project group wanted to bring attention to the story of this brave young women.  We believe the creative spirit can serve the good, and through our stories we work to raise funds for charities, hoping to improve the lives of others.  We have the freedom to make a difference, and with our collective efforts use our pens for beneficial change.


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. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1473258208&sr=8-1

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

Twitter – @katemcginn6

https://www.katemcginn.com/

The Cultural Bridge

The following  idea is developed after a lot of research and consultation with a lot of people. The idea written below is not solely a product of my imagination. I must agree, Sharon Rhoads has helped me change my views comepletely. With this, I extend my gratitude towards her and give her the credits she deserves.

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Culture is the part and parcel of human society. It is a prism of realities. In simpler words, culture is just like our mother tongue. Just as we start learning our language even before we understand its importance and use, we start learning our culture way before we are even aware of what it is.

Culture seeps into us, through the bedtime stories that we read, or the music that we listen. It also gets into us subtly through the religious traditions, holidays, celebrations, and the works of literature and mythology.

Strangely enough, culture still remains one the most misunderstood concepts in the world of humanities.

People, since ages, have misunderstood the meaning of the term, ‘culture’. Culture is how you live and who you are, not where you live. For instance, fishermen have a “culture”. People who live in homeless camps and shelters have a “culture”. People who are very wealthy have a “culture”. The people of a certain culture will understand each other and the life they live, but outsiders will not. Every one of us has our own “culture” that has nothing to do with where we live and still everything to do with who we are.

Nations these days rarely contain a single “culture” within their borders. When we talk about “culture” we need to be clear about its meaning. When we use that word, we are not referring to different countries. We are, in fact, referring to the differences in how we see the world, how we see ourselves, how we see others and how we live our lives. Did you know that deaf people have a “culture”? Or for that matter, circus performers have a “culture”. Even the surfers have a “culture”. And all these “cultures” separate people from each other because they don’t understand the other “cultures” around them.

But ‘culture’ hasn’t always remained a favourable influence.

A lot of times, in fact, it has worked against us. It made us look down at others as ‘different’. It acted as a wall, more than the link it was supposed to be. It stood for ages, dividing us on the basis of our differences. These are quite evident from the outright wars that had been waged between the east and the west, the Arabs and the Non-Arabs, the blacks and the whites and so on.

The internet, television and movies today, show us all the other parts of the world. But, they seldom help us understand the people who have different “cultures”. How well do you understand the “culture” of the deaf? They have their own language and a set of social expectations.

These are the walls that need to be knocked down!

In order to further this, One Million Project, OMP came up with this idea; the idea of knocking down the Cultural Walls and converting them into Cultural Bridges. So here we are, starting another wonderful project where we would like to have writers, artists, musicians and others share something about their culture on this online platform. Let our audience know about a different culture every few days, not through the humdrum routine textbooks they’d pick up in their high schools or libraries, but through the real stories about the real human experience.

Because sometimes we need more than an anthropologist or a sociologist to teach us culture. We need each other!

Moinak Das
(with special thanks to Sharon Rhoads)

The Cultural Bridge

For more information on the project, please visit us on The Cultural Bridge and tell us how you feel about it. We are currently in our initiation stage. So if something doesn't work for you, don't hesitate to comment there. Thank you.