“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

Musings~~by Thomas Walborn

There has been an ongoing discussion in a forum that I follow about a writer’s relationship with their muse. Apparently, that relationship can be somewhat contentious at times. One writer described her muse-ical vision of ‘blissful harmony and a beneficial symbiosis’ as hopelessly idealistic, instead describing it as an ‘uneasy truce in a war of give and take’.

I sat on the sidelines for that conversation. I didn’t feel qualified to add anything to the discussion. I finally felt compelled to make a confession.

I did not have a muse.

In truth, as I read their comments, I found myself thinking, maybe I am the lucky one. If people are having that much trouble with them; I’ll pass.

But still, I wondered. What would it be like to have a muse?

I have tried to imagine my ideal muse. Would she be a willowy alabaster goddess with an off-the-shoulder toga? A Dwayne Johnson lookalike getting in my face and reminding me that the fate of the world depends on me meeting my deadline? Or maybe just a Golden Retriever who greets me with a big grin and a wagging tail, sending dust motes swirling through the morning sunbeams and then settling at my feet with a contented sigh as I take my place at the keyboard.

Why do I need a muse? I mean, I can usually come up with a short story idea before the weekend is over. So I decided to Google it. I asked the oracle, “Why do I need a muse?”

And there it was. In 0.46 seconds, I had the answer. Well, over 198,000,000 answers, as it turns out. But the very first response was: “5 Reasons Why You Need a Muse”. I found out I can shed the awful burden of responsibility for creative efforts by just handing it over to my muse. No worries, musee will think of something. According to the title, there were four more reasons but I stopped reading after the first reason. It was good enough for me. But it didn’t tell me HOW to find a muse. More on that in a minute.

First I want to share a few of the other articles on the front page of the search results. These were just the titles:

“Obsession, Danger, and No Sex: Why every woman needs a muse…”

“Why Men Love a Muse”

“The Danger of Being a Muse”

“How to be a Muse: Twelve Steps (with pictures)”

Clearly there is a lot more to this muse-ing thing than I realized. So I have decided I need one.

I could have entered another G-search to get the collective wisdom of the net on how to find my own muse, but I decided instead to ask a friend. John is one of the most creative writers I know. He can create a mood with just a line or two and his stories always captivate me. I asked him how I could find my muse. This, in part, is what he told me:

“Sometimes they find you. Sometimes you find them. They exist in the quiet spaces between, the ignored places. They lurk in the streets – a half-glimpsed figure who smiles at you then hurries away. You can charm them with flattery, snare them in traps, beg them to come…”

And somehow, that sounds right. I will continue to do what I do, but will listen to the whisper of the trees, the smile from the stranger, the taste of chocolate on my tongue…

Yes, chocolate. Specifically, dark chocolate, with almonds.

I have realized through this journey that chocolate is my substitute muse. So until the real thing comes along, don’t worry about me. I’ll be alright.


OMP Admin Note:  Thomas Walborn is a writer, photographer, and an OMP Network member. His work can be found on wattpad.com/ThomasWalborn. His short story, “A Good Life” can be found in the One Million Project’s Fiction Anthology 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

Locked In With My Thoughts~~by John Nedwill

This week I’m ‘celebrating’ my eighth week of quarantining. I’m counting this from the day that the management at work gave me a laptop and told me, “You’re working from home now.” So, that has been eight weeks sitting in front of the company-supplied computer, trying to find some meaning to what I’m meant to be doing. Eight weeks of reduced interactions with my fellow human beings. Eight weeks of the same walls and the same view across the garden rhubarb. And I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m not in debt. I’m still earning enough money to cover my outgoings. And, when this is all over, I’ll still have a job to go back to.

Of course I’ve had my ups and downs over the last two months – who hasn’t? And, as a writer, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to escape the world around me … although it’s not as easy as it was before this all started. Lack of motivation has been a problem. Let’s face it: when you’re stuck in front of a computer screen all day, the desire to spend more time in front of another one is severely lacking. Lack of time has also been a problem. In accordance with Philip K Dick’s ‘Law of Kibble’, the list of things to do expands to fill the available space. But I have still had time to think and learn.

So, what am I going to take from this period of my life?

  • I can cope with the big things. It’s the small things that cause the problems.
  • Routine is a good thing. It brings comfort and structure to a day. But when it’s broken, it takes a long time to recover.
  • There are some simple pleasures in life.
  • Video calls are no substitute for talking to people in real life, no matter how much you try to dress them up as fun. But they’re better than nothing.
  • You meet all sorts of people in queues.
  • Small kindnesses matter.

So, while we sit in our social bubbles and wait for the ‘new normal’ to assert itself, what will will you bring with you when you emerge into the world?


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

A Job Writing~~by Mark Huntley-James

How much money can I make as a writer? Sorry, run that by me one more time. You want to make money, as a writer? Why? How?

I’ve been noticing how the internet is laden with advice on how to write for money. How to be a novelist. How to boost your sales. Or how not to get your hopes up because the successful writers are like lottery winners. Interestingly enough, as I started writing this, a discussion on the topic of writing and money popped up on my favourite online hangout at www.sffchronicles.com offering a wide variety of views. However, what follows is entirely my own opinion and there’s no-one else to blame.

The thing is, I’ve been writing since I was in my teens, and I would be delighted if someone gave me lots of money for doing it, but that’s not why I write.

I know I must be pretty good at it because people have been known to smile as they read what I wrote, and that’s a very good reason to write. Not as good as it makes me happy, but making someone else happy (or sad, or angry depending on what the writing is about) seems like a good reason for doing it.

Realistically, if I wanted to be paid to write, I would go and get a job where someone paid me to write. Except for that absolutely miniscule percentage of writers who get their novel published and sell enough to actually see some money, the rest of us had better have a day-job, win the lottery, or be startled to discover that they are the only heir of a fabulously wealthy and recently-deceased long-lost relative. Taking those options in order, that’s: reality, wild optimism, and the sort of incredible fantasy that you should expect from a writer.

My writing is just an aspect of a more general drive – I like making things. I like the contented buzz of standing back and staring at the latest story, the greenhouse, the new doors on the storage shed or the new book shelves made from old shipping pallets, and being able to say to myself “That’s good. That works”. And whether it’s a piece of writing, or the bookshelves, there’s also satisfaction in that moment where I look and say to myself, “That just needs polishing down a bit, that little bit there…”

People do get paid for writing, do make a career out of it, and I would hope that some of them still enjoy their job. I’ve been employed in two different jobs over the years, doing something I enjoy, but after a while each of those did become just a job. Writing has never been a job, and perhaps that’s just as well, because I’ve not grown bored with it.

There’s a quote by Stephen King that really sums it up: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” It’s a very good quote, but for me it glosses over a very important point, and implies that somehow being an amateur is inferior. If I want to be paid to write then I have to treat it as a job, but honestly, I am intrinsically an amateur, literally someone who does it for the love of it. The King quote is locked into the mindset that being paid is the one and only measure.

Writing is about making something, and it makes me happy.

Isn’t that enough?


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

A Little Ray of Sunshine~~by Christine Larsen

Sad little corners of our hearts are full of holes we can never fill; small dark places shaped in a fashion that only one special being could ever fit. With time, the sharpest, most raw and ravelled edges are smoothed… much of the time. But the hole remains forever.

We once witnessed this kind of grief and loss by a cow mourning her dead baby. High on a hill where she had given birth to her lifeless offspring, she cried… loud and long bellows of agony, interspersed with low moans as she licked and licked that lost soul as if sheer willpower alone could restore life. She would allow no-one near her to comfort or even distract her with feed and water. Three days and nights her obvious pain continued. And then she walked away. It was done. But that specific spot in that particular paddock would give her pause for a small quiet time before a long sighing kind of moan seemed to set her free to move on. There were more calves for her, but this one? We had no doubt of that special hole left forever in her heart.

My mother had a similar experience after she lost a toddler of 22 months, who came home after a long illness, believed to be recovered – only to unexpectedly die in her arms. She held him for his last breath and in a sad little corner of her heart until the day she died 57 years later. I was told she nearly lost her mind with her grief, until the combined encouragement of our family doctor and my father convinced her another baby was the only solution to her empty arms – and a wonderful start to shrinking and smoothing the edges of that special hole in her heart, as well. I can vouch for the truth of this healing. I was that baby and my mother would share the story of her pain and her recovery with me in great detail over the many years we shared.

It was only recently I heard the name for babies like the ones I’ve mentioned – it’s ‘Rainbow Babies’. Believing and loving the Rainbow Bridge concept for reunion with beloved animals after death as I do, I guessed what the name indicated. When I asked Google, “What is a rainbow baby?”one of the most beautiful answers was a sweet mention of the name especially remembering –

‘…all those babies born sleeping, or we’ve carried but never met; those we’ve held but couldn’t take home, and the ones that came home but didn’t stay.’

And I thought again of my small brother. When he came home the first time, all seemed exactly right through his early babyhood in the most loving family imaginable. When he came home the second time (also from hospital but this time following his terrible, isolating illness), he couldn’t stay even 24 hours. It has always been the strangest of feelings… this knowing I would probably never have existed without him leaving that special space for me.

Like the miracle of a rainbow after a storm, a rainbow baby is one that is born after the loss of another. Rainbows don’t erase storms, but they symbolize HOPE.’

God surely does work in mysterious ways.


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

Caught With My Pantser Down – The Search For Paladin Po~~by Mark Huntley-James

Note to self – write about the perils of being a pantser.

Fortunately, I only wrote that a few weeks back, so I remember what it means. It further sticks in my mind because I was complaining to my partner about my troubles with the noteless Paladin Po, one of those cases where I’m trying to pick up the pieces of a part-finished book months, or even years later, and the note makes no sense, or there is no note at all.

(The original title for this was Take Note, but that lacked something in the click-bait stakes**.)

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Plotters walk away now because otherwise you will be trying to read this whilst shaking your head in disbelief, but for the pantsers out there, take note, take lots of notes, and make them sensible notes that will still mean something in twelve months time.

Let me present Paladin Po, a minor character introduced and dispatched in the space of a chapter, with the personal charm of a yeast infection and created to make a point later in the book. Po is one of the backroom boys in a nasty little slave trade, never really hands-on, but still unlovable, and perhaps in need of a redeeming feature or two exposed in a future chapter. Really, the only problem with Po now is that I wrote him somewhere around 2016, then the book went on hold and I have no idea what he is for. That point I was going to make later in the book is now completely lost.

I searched the whole file, the back-ups, anything that looked like it might contain explanatory notes, and found nothing. When I wrote Po, I knew what he was for and I was in the pantser flow, but four years, three urban fantasies and one space-opera later, I’ve forgotten the details. If only I had written some notes, recorded that point to be made, then maybe now I would have some idea what he was all about.

Poor Paladin Po – unless I can reconstruct the details, he will be erased from the narrative, which is fitting since his business is linked to erasing people. I shall leave him in for the moment in the hope of remembering.

Just writing a note is not enough. As I was reconstructing my thoughts on Po from a sketchy one-line note, I did a little tidying of all of my notes. After a health hiccough last year, I have finally caught up with the modern world and now have a smartphone. Since that upgrade, my note-taking has improved with Google Keep, with the bonus that I can access my notes from every device. The corollary is a surplus of notes, many of them redundant, like last month’s shopping list or the size of screw I need for a job that’s now complete. So, I did some tidying, reading and deleting until…

Sidekick — punchline should be needed a better plan and silent drive.

I stared at that. What does it mean? Random notes with an entire text of “20cm” are pretty clearly a measurement I needed recorded for a few hours at most, but obviously deliberate gibberish is different. Do I delete or keep? I should certainly make a note about not making cryptic notes. Purely by chance and not long after, I tried to save this account of my hunt for Paladin Po in the wrong directory and there was a document called “Sidekick” from just over a month back, and I was sure I had seen something about sidekicks recently.

I tracked it down, re-read, and in that context the note made sense, more or less. I just had to put in all the missing punctuation, missing words, and sort out the unfortunate consequences of the auto-correct on my phone.

Calling all pantsers – I know the story just happens, evolving as we write, but please, take note, write a note or two, and put enough context in those notes so they still make sense next year.

Happy writing.

**elsewhere, I’ve written a diatribe on Five Great Ways to Roast Live Clickbait. ()


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

Being Boring~~by John Nedwill

Douglas Adams once described it as “the long, dark teatime of the soul”. Medieval clergy called it ‘accidie’ and thought of it as one of the precursors to the mortal sin of sloth. Most of us just call it boredom. However, the stigma around it still stands. Many people see boredom as a curse – something to be avoided. To them, boredom is something to be avoided. Instead of being bored, we should be doing things that fill our time and occupy our minds.

Of course, in the last decade, any number of things have been brought about to relieve us from boredom. Each of these things demands a share of our increasingly divided attention. as well as social media with its unceasing demands for updates, likes and reads, there is mobile gaming – designed to separate us from our money as much as from our limited time. Streaming services and on-demand video channels try to tempt us to them with their latest ‘must-see’ offerings. News channels bombard us 24/7 with the latest developments in politics, fashion and trivia, and invite us to share our reactions – now! And, as if that wasn’t enough, there are those who try to fill the physical world with toys to distract us. Boredom is a terrible thing!

But what did we do before there were all these things to distract us from the tedium of life? The answer is simple. We got bored. And when we got bored, we got creative! As children, we would make up games with incomprehensible rules, or we would create worlds to inhabit and populate with our imaginations. We would explore the things around us, satisfying our curiosity and learning (sometimes salutary) lessons about life.

As writers, we should be harnessing this creative energy. Yes, we can always find something to distract us and fill in time, but that is time that we could be spending doing something creative. Even if we are not writing, we can be thinking, planning and plotting – not just idling the hours away in some fruitless twiddling of our thumbs.

So, the next time that you are feeling bored, don’t reach for the television remote or your mobile phone. Grab a pen, take some paper and use the time that you have been given.

Embrace your boredom!

(Editor’s note: I’ve always thought there was something significant about the fact that the German phrase for “I’m bored,” Ich langweile mich, literally translates as “I bore myself.”)


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

A Personal Space Odyssey~~by Christine Larsen

Wasn’t it only yesterday we watched in awe as the movie ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey’ showed us the unimaginable steps Man had taken in readiness to embrace the brave new world of the 21st century?

We look around ourselves now we’ve begun 2020 and find the world hasn’t changed anywhere near our hopes and expectations of a brighter, happier, more peaceful future. Despite this, we don’t have to change our own personal odyssey too much to gently increase the positives in our own small corner of this world and consistently work at reducing – even ceasing – the negatives that try to pull us down.

A well-known song suggested the need for ‘sweet love’ NOW in our troubled world… and that was back in 1965! That particular ‘now’ is much more than half a decade ago, but it’s never too late for any one of us to generously give and graciously receive Love – no matter how small the gift.

It’s not so hard to take that smallest step – to be the first to smile at a stranger; to offer a greeting, a kind word, a helping hand. These are the simplest gestures of regard toward another human being.

Marry that with empathy – NOT to be confused with sympathy – meaning feeling sorry for, or pitying – all too often leaving the person feeling alone in their tragedy, somehow lacking the understanding they sought and desperately needed.

Empathy is quite different. It is entering into that other person’s world as far as he will let you – and respecting whatever level he is ready to allow. It’s moving forward gently, with baby steps, as and when his spirit ebbs and flows. Never forget, we have not the least idea what this person feels, fears, avoids, or suffers – unless we have ‘walked a mile in his shoes’. And even then, his shoes are a different size than ours. His feet likewise. And his exact path has never been ours no matter how alike it may seem.

The most important thing we do have to offer is a willingness to just stay ‘with‘ this suffering person, in his moment – trying to sense and share and lessen his burden. Only he can lift it, but your understanding will help support him at what may well be his lowest ebb. This is Empathy.

And while you are concentrating on sensitively supporting this person, you will find unexpected changes happening inside yourself. Many previously negative attitudes to people and events will slowly change and soften – and your tolerance will increase to a previously unimaginable level. This is Love.

And from this love can come the possibility for both of you to choose your tomorrow to be the ‘First Day of the Rest of Your Life’ . Those simple words offer SO much – just like the promise of each day’s sunrise – a new day, and a new chapter can begin. A renewal process can begin by simply concentrating on becoming the best possible person you alone can be.

And just like that, your Personal Space Odyssey has begun.


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

The Helsinki Solution~~by Akje Majdanek

“Did you know a homeless woman once asked Hedda for a handout while she was getting out of her BMW in the parking lot? and she told the bag lady to get a job. Can you believe that? Where’s an old woman gonna get a job in this town? She must have been at least eighty. And do you think Hedda would give her one? Hell no. If you wouldn’t hire a homeless person yourself, you ought to keep your big fat mouth shut about them getting a job.”

Der Reiter, Akje Majdanek

We’ve all been there, applying for work. Getting dressed up in your nicest clothes for an interview at McDonald’s only to lose out to someone better dressed or better looking than you. Remind me again how homeless people are supposed to get the position? Fast food seems to have the highest turnover rate and are the easiest jobs to get, but how can a homeless person get one? They need to shower, shave, get a haircut and buy nice clothes first.

Helsinki thinks it has the answer. The city has introduced a housing first policy, and so far it seems to be working. In 1987 there were more than 18,000 homeless people in Finland. In 2019 there were an estimated 5,500.

Previously, a homeless person in Helsinki had to jump through hoops before receiving the final prize─a home. The steps included getting a job, getting therapy, getting sober, etc. depending on the individual’s situation. Few people climbed out of homelessness that way since even the simplest steps were difficult without money.

But now each person is given a small apartment with electricity and running water. The cost is initially borne by the government, then repaid from the formerly homeless when they get a job. Each apartment is individually rented─there is no forced sharing.

It’s easy to see how this could be altered by region to accommodate prevailing conditions around the globe; for instance, instead of paying for an apartment with cash it could be paid for with “sweat equity” like Habitat for Humanity does. But unlike Habitat for Humanity, there’d be no hoops to jump through first. This could work, and would likely cost less than what we’re doing now. It certainly deserves experimentation. I think the Steve Miller Band said it best:

Feed the babies
Who don’t have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Living in the street
Oh oh, there’s a solution.


Remember the books you had to read back in high school and college? Books like Animal Farm, Catcher in the Rye, Anna Karenina, The Crucible, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Jane Eyre and a hundred other deep, profound, thought-provoking reads? And remember how you said, “My gawd, those were the most boring books I’ve ever read in my life. I swear I’ll never read anything with literary merit ever again. From now on it’s nothing but sparkly vampires for me!”

Remember that? So who’s writing brilliant stuff like that today? Who’s writing the books that future students will complain about in the universities of tomorrow?

Akje has no idea, but she’d love to find that author, buy him a bottle of Beam and plagiarize all his work. (#^.^#)

Discover more about Akje and her writing at these links:

Amazon

Dreamwidth

Twitter

NaNoWriMo

Wattpad

Goodreads

Facebook


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

Ready, Steady, Groan~~by Mark Huntley-James

Self-publishing a book is easy, isn’t it? Write it, check it over, press the buttons on Amazon, and there you are, another ebook is born. Anyone can do it.

If that’s been your experience, you might want to stop reading at this point. Otherwise, here’s how it might really happen, and how long it might really take.

I just published another book, a science-fiction space-opera romp called Streamrider. It was great fun to write, but then languished in a corner for many years as I concentrated on writing urban fantasy. So part of the reason it took years is completely my own fault for writing and publishing three other books.

Looking back, the first draft of the opening of Streamrider was written in 2012, and the next activity was in 2015 when I picked it up again and finished the first draft. So, all told, it’s been around for a while. In a moment of madness, almost exactly a year ago, I agreed with my partner that yes, since it was in good shape, had already been through multiple editing passes, 2019 was the year to publish.

The point is, the book was so nearly ready that there was almost nothing to do except a final polish and sort out the cover design. So, whilst I was slogging away, working on edits for “Hell Of A Bite” a year ago, my parter decided on a quick re-read of Streamrider, just to get ahead of the game. I mean, it would be a month’s work at the most, and then I could write another book for the rest of the year. Simple, right?

Such an easy decision since the book was almost ready…

The funny thing is that a book looks different when you’re about to publish. Little niggles that perhaps weren’t right but easy to ignore on a casual read suddenly become important. It’s like redoing the wallpaper in the lounge – it looks fine until the family come round and mention the bubbles, and that bit by the door where the pattern doesn’t line up. From the initial re-read, my partner evolved a long list of things that needed fixing, and when I went through, I found words, sentences, paragraphs and even scenes that I wasn’t happy about.

If it were wallpaper, I’d be buying a big tub of magnolia paint to cover over the mess.

Now, throw in a few Real Life surprises, because those always turn up. Perhaps a few health problems leading to editing whilst sitting in hospital waiting rooms, and publication of “Hell Of A Bite” overrunning into lambing season. and all those positive statements about “just a month or so” fell apart.

Honestly, forget the health stuff, that month was wildly optimistic of itself. With hindsight, make it at least three, and then double that to take account of all the other things intruding into our lives, and add on two for the overrun of “Hell Of A Bite”.

Self-publishing is exhausting and takes a huge amount of time, and no matter how ready you think you are, you probably aren’t. If you think it’s easy, then you probably aren’t doing it right, and even with the experience of previous books, I massively underestimated the amount of work.

Anyway, it’s done so time to start the next one. It ought to be written by June, ready to start editing for 2021…

Now, what was that formula again? Treble the first estimate, double that to account for real life, and maybe add two months for good measure?

Forget about the pain and stress, I’m just enjoying the sight of the book glowing in the reader. I’m also catching my breath before working out how to do the same book as a paperback. I’m ready, of course I am, and it shouldn’t take more than a month, should it?

Your turn, now.


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