The Vigil ~~ by Kate McGinn

The Vigil ~~ by Kate McGinn

It didn’t begin with the inevitable phone call, but months before, after a visit to a physician. We all knew at some point this time would come, but somehow when the doctor’s predicted timeline was surpassed, we began to push the thought into those deep, dark recesses of our brain. Never quite forgotten, but not in the forefront of our daily ponderings.

Then, last week on a Thursday morning, it came followed by the mindless packing of clothing into a suitcase (without caring if anything matched), calling our sons, stopping the mail and the newspaper, and watering the plants. Hours of driving were filled with the quiet of reflection, grief, and disbelief. Each action seemed to be only possible because of our bodies’ repetition over the years of those same maneuvers.

Pressing a button and waiting impassively for the voice on the intercom to allow us entry into the facility. A deep breath is taken to steel my emotions and then I’m ready to walk down the hall to begin the vigil.

Soft-voiced greetings and tight hugs accompanied by silent tears as each family member and friend is welcomed. Hours, and then, days filled with endless cups of coffee, prayers, thank-you’s to staff members and visiting friends, and sleepless nights wondering if tonight the call will come announcing a change in condition.

Family members show the physical signs from the toll the vigil has taken on them with the presence of dark circles under their eyes and the weariness apparent in their every movement and expression. Even their smiles are muted by fatigue and the dam of unleashed sorrow.

On a Sunday morning at 3:24 am, the cell phone’s ringtone causes our muscles to tense up ready to spring into action. The silence is heavy with anguish as mechanically and efficiently we pull our clothes on, brush our teeth and walk out the door knowing, but dreading…

The vigil’s conclusion brought peace to a wonderful man who had lived a full and productive life and died surrounded by family in his final hours. And for his family, its end gave us a chance to say good-bye and to show our love for a father, grandfather, and friend.  The suffering of our loved one had come to an end.

Rest in peace, Papa John.

 

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It Is Not Widely Known ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

It Is Not Widely Known ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

It is not widely known that Napoleon Bonaparte wrote a romantic novel: “Clisson et Eugénie”. A young man’s classic dream of love, war, and death. Publishers were skeptical; ‘Not exactly world shaking’, said one. “Needs more ‘umph’. Give the hero more pain, adventure, suffering.” Bonaparte nodded in Gaelic politesse.  Later as Emperor, he had the entire publishing staff drafted into the infantry, sent to Egypt where at last they found the adventure, pain, and suffering that eluded them in the submissions pile, merely reading about life.

Had ‘Clisson et Eugenie’ been seen for the work of potential genius that characterized Bonaparte’s military campaigns, the Sphinx would still have his nose. Louisiana would still be speaking French. Probably America would still be speaking English, instead of American.

A fact even less widely known is that Jason Greenfield is a Napoleonic scholar, for all that short Corsicans are a constant hidden theme in his writings; a theme Greenfield himself is shy to admit, or perhaps has simply never noticed.  But to the initiate it is no surprise that the ‘One Million Project’ began with the Short Corsican himself, when the newly crowned emperor called for the uprising of the commons,   Bonaparte said to Josephine, “Consider, mon chere, if just one million miserable, dirty worms of the earth will commit to the Revolution, we shall be in Moscow by Christmas, and celebrate Emperor’s Day in London.” A moving speech, dans la Francais.

The million never arrived, the war ended, the worms of the earth turned to other things. And yet the ideal lives on. For OMP is a brave march through the cold wasteland of formulaic fiction. This Grand Army is divided into three forces: Fantasy, Thriller, and Fiction.  Their goal: a far-away, just over-the-horizon victory for research into cancer. For those who have lost loved ones to lumps, lymphomas, and Leukemia, this goal suffices. For they whose eye has become trained to search for ‘oncology’ when entering a hospital, the enemy is a foe to face with sword drawn, teeth barred, no quarter given.

But for us the writers and readers, it is the bugle-call itself that thrills the heart. L’emperor Greenfield has gathered forces that are, in fact, revolutionary; and the fight is sheer fun, fear, and fantasy. The stories in this year’s OMP collections defy all easy commercial pattern, all the tradition of pre-digested packaging of plastic fantasticality. Here are wonders of mystery, of horror, of comedy and tragedy; without a cliché to shame the front ranks.

Strange, that our cliché of madness is to fantasize about being Napoleon. Not a nice person; but imaginative and energetic. A dreamer with a sword; and definitely, the hero in what he wrote.  ‘Everyone is a hero in their own story’, goes the cliché. Perhaps. But better to be a hero in another’s story. The OMP is a march of storytellers and readers alike, to be heroes to the sick, and those fearing for the sick.

How easy to fantasize the victory march; how easy to turn fantasy to practical effort. A bit of out-of-the-box writing; a few clicks on the ‘purchase’ button. Even a review; Sacre-nom de Dieu, it’s enough to pose on a park bench with an OMP copy, eyes wide with just appreciation. Read, write, review, purchase thrice and start anew. Rise up, millions! Think big!

There is room for all beneath the Victory Arch.


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.


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

Labor Day Thoughts

Labor Day Thoughts

In the United States, Labor Day is a special day to honor the workers. Before the formation of labor unions in the early twentieth century, some employers took advantage of their blue-collar employees with long hours, no days off, poor working conditions and wages too meager to support a family.

Today, Labor Day is associated with a three-day holiday weekend and a multitude of “Labor Day” sales at the stores.  While all of the celebrations were happening, I was caring for my mom, a cancer survivor. Her cancer is gone, but age and failing health require someone to attend to her basic needs. On the four-hour drive back to Wisconsin, I thought about a news story I watched about former President Jimmy Carter.

President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, continue to work with Habitat for Humanity helping to build homes for low-income families.  This has been one of the ways the Carters have volunteered to help their fellow citizens.  President Carter is in his nineties, and also a cancer survivor.

How is this connected to a blog about Labor Day?

Let me explain. Carter had melanoma which metastasized to his liver and brain. He underwent surgery and was treated with radiation and immunotherapy in 2015.  He was cancer free after his therapy was completed in 2016. Amazing, isn’t it?  I recently wrote a blog about immunotherapy and the research Cancer Research UK had done in the development of this treatment which uses the body’s immune system to fight specific cancer cells limiting the damage to healthy tissues.  Immunotherapy was presented for the first time for treatment use in 2010, and there hadn’t been new treatments developed for melanoma since the 1970’s.

The Carters embody the two causes the One Million Project supports through the sale of our short story anthologies– cancer research and homelessness. It seemed fitting for another reason.

I was reminded of the scientists who devote their lives to finding cures for the many different types of cancer that millions of people worldwide will be diagnosed with this year. Did they sit at the barbeque pondering in their heads another aspect of the research they are involved in?  Or did they spend the weekend working tirelessly on a new development?

I thought about the families who provide care for their loved ones, day and night. Their commitment is a labor of love to be sure. It is hard work caring for someone who is sick and in pain, and I wanted to recognize the sacrifice of the families and the countless healthcare workers and volunteers who work diligently to help those in need.

So, on this Labor Day, I wish to thank those who give of themselves–whether they are paid or volunteer or a loved one. You help to ease the pain, to give hope, to provide a meal for the hungry, a bed for the homeless, a listening ear, a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry upon.  You make a difference.


OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers, and in the One Million Project Fiction Anthology. Her books EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.

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

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

https://www.katemcginn.com/


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

Summer Holidays ~~ by John Nedwill #OMP Blogger

Summer Holidays ~~ by John Nedwill #OMP Blogger

As I’m writing this entry for the OMP blog, it’s summertime. This is the time of year when, traditionally, people go on their main holiday of the year. For some people, the holiday is something to be planned in meticulous detail, from the destination to the activities for the day. For others, a holiday is more of an ad hoc thing, where they go somewhere on a whim and do whatever takes their fancy.

Then, there are those of us who fall between the two. I’m one of those people who has to block out their holidays in advance. The demands of work mean that I have to negotiate what dates I can go away. However, when I actually get to my destination, I rarely have any plans as to what to do.  Unless I am going somewhere for a specific reason (it happens!), I prefer to take each day as it comes. I rarely make plans for more than a day in advance.

You see, for me, a holiday is a chance to get away and recharge my mental batteries. I like to wander, following my instincts and senses. It gives me a chance to discover things and to do things that I want to do, without having to worry about anything more taxing than where I am going to stop for lunch. It also gives me time to sit and contemplate the world.

My holiday tactics have served me well so far. I have stood on the rocks at Carrick-a-Rede, watching dolphins playing in the bay. I have climbed to the very top of the lantern in Saint Paul’s Cathedral and seen the City of London spread out below me. My wanderings have taken me to the otaku shrine in the Akihabara and the Imperial Gardens to see the cherry blossoms. And, everywhere I have gone, I have taken my notebooks and pens with me, so I can write down the things I have seen and the emotions I have experienced, and I can then use them in my stories. Sometimes I even take pictures (!), but words are the way I express myself best.

So, when you go on your holidays, what are you going to do? What are you going to see? Whatever you do end up doing, just stop for a moment and try to remember it through the lens of your writing.


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

Dancing with Daffodils ~~ by #OMP writer Christine Larsen

Dancing with Daffodils ~~ by #OMP writer Christine Larsen

My family history reveals quite a few deaths by various cancers over a span of four or more generations.

This could strike fear into many present-day hearts – or at the least, cause more than a little disquiet – a sharpened intake of breath – perhaps an unexpected thudding in the chest. However… unless scientific research proves the opposite to current thinking, these cancers are unrelated and carry no sinister genetic ramifications for me and mine. No more chance of that dreaded diagnosis than 138,000 other Australians estimated to hear the devastating news this year.

This was reason enough for me to tuck any doubts way back into one of the dark recesses of my ‘think-tank’. UNTIL… the deaths of several dear friends, my father-in-law in 1985 and my Mother in 1999, changed all previous odds and thinking.

What could possibly lighten the burden of this bringer of darkness to the soul – this cruel destroyer? And pondered some before realising the answer was already right in front of us – DAFFODIL DAY.

The Cancer Council Australia began in 1961, expanded nation-wide in 1997, and adopted the glorious Daffodil as their emblem to raise awareness and produce messages and merchandise to raise money for Cancer research, education, support – and inspiring care and renewed hope in the hearts of victims AND their families.

Apart from its obvious beauty, we wondered why the choice of the Daffodil. Here are the actual words from the Cancer Council –

The Daffodil was chosen because of its reputation as a hardy annual flower; pushing its way through the frozen earth after a long winter to herald the return of spring, new life, vitality and growth. As one of the first flowers of spring, the Daffodil symbolises rebirth and new beginnings. To Cancer Council, and many affected by cancer, the Daffodil represents hope for a cancer-free future.

AND then the Cancer Council divulged that recent research revealed a natural extract from Daffodils holds cancer-killing properties – a concentration that could trigger cancer cell death.  Imagine… all that wrapped in a supremely beautiful parcel.

Our individual way to observe and salute this emblem of hope and renewal took place at our two mothers’ funerals. Each had died a year apart in August. We held each funeral on Daffodil Day and requested donations to the Cancer Council in lieu of flowers – despite which some dear souls gave both.

What we gave, apart from a wondrously huge wreath of mainly roses on each coffin, were dozens of daffodils on their proud, long stems for each of the mourners to set into those great wreaths. In the shortest time, the final resting places of our darlings were transformed into a blaze of golden joy – a wonderful symbol of all they gave to every life they touched, bringing countless smiles to shine through the tears.

As William Wordsworth wrote –

‘And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the Daffodils.’

On Daffodil Day – and any other day when your heart is over-burdened with grief and loss, maybe these beautiful thoughts can help –

To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever…

The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes…

This hole in your heart is the shape of the one you lost – no one else can fit it.

~ Jeanette Winterson


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 Larsen, Author, and her work:  IMG_7208

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

 – 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

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

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