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

STOP the Home Fires Burning~~by Christine Larsen

A sky with a partially open zip running across it. Where the zip is open, a fire is burning.

Most of my readers know by now I’m Australian. And all who know me are well aware of how passionately I love my country. Can you then imagine how my heart and soul bleeds for the pain so many of my fellow Aussies are enduring as our beautiful country burns?

Amongst our blessings in this small corner of our world are clear skies and cool nights, making our sometimes blistering days tolerable. Our dear old stone farm-house protects and comforts us … so far. But this morning we awake to a haze across distant paddocks. Same as yesterday morning’s sea fog that rolled in across our area. Or is it? Actually, no. It’s a light smoke drift from bushfires far north of us. The air is still and our weather forecast does not include winds from the north, so we should be safe. But the feeling of dread will not drift away similarly. And the tears continue to flow for the pictures and continuing bad news that surrounds and near overwhelms us.

Too many Aussies in countless parts of our great land, through every stratum of humanity, are finding themselves homeless, stripped of all that made them who they once were. Whether management/entrepreneur/business magnate – or everyday worker/small business owner or operator/ditch-digger – no matter their occupations – BUSHFIRE doesn’t discriminate. Or care. With a terrifying roar and at unimaginable speed, it roars across all, devastates all. Man does not doubt his helplessness against Nature’s fury.

The randomness of Nature is yet another source of wonder. And horror. In the main street of a small country town, ALL is decimated – the baker, the butcher (and yes, if there were a candlestick-maker, him too!) but in the 21st century it’s most likely a mini-supermarket. They’re levelled. Every hope and dream, everything they’ve slaved their lives (and usually quite a few forefathers lives, too)- GONE! And amid the desolation, one home stands – or is it the local hairdressing salon? The owner cannot stop shaking her head in bewilderment – and a ridiculous but increasing feeling of guilt somehow – for being a sole survivor. She continues to ask herself how the whole area will survive without its heartbeat and soul… its tiny township.

Down a nearby dirt road, again, all man-made structures are flattened, charred, beyond redemption. No tree or blade of grass remains unscorched. A shell-shocked farmer attempts to accept the loss of all he’s worked his lifetime for. The tears he sheds are not only due to the smoke-filled air of his still smouldering world. He cannot bear to imagine the final total of his stock losses. He’s already seen enough instances of burnt bodies piled up against fences. Abruptly his head lifts. Was that…? It couldn’t be…? And he starts running towards the faint but increasingly plaintive bleating of his goats. They’ve survived against the odds. He may never learn how, but he cares not as they re-unite.

Would that all the victims could find their way home like this. Would that Man and beast alike were not facing a future of some of the worst post-traumatic-stress known? Trouble is, although we all dream – ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride’ – right now there seems to be a dreadful lack of winged unicorns to ride far from danger and the pain of the loss of all those treasures… and realities.

Doesn’t stop us wishing.


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

Narrative Medicine~~by Søvn Drake

In my early twenties, I lived as a volunteer at the Simon Community, a remarkable program dedicated to homeless outreach and sheltering in London. We walked the windy streets and sat on the cold cement of the Bullring rolling fags to build rapport with people so chilled from the elements their fingers didn’t work properly enough for a smoke. At Christmastime donations flooded our pantry. Delectables literally rotted on the floor by New Year’s, but by February the cupboards were bare (food for thought as you consider donations to charities this time of year). The fact is we all need to work year round to make the world a better place. All of us should and can do more.

What, you ask?

When I’m not masquerading as a writer, I’m a physician and I practice something called narrative medicine. It sounds very fluffy and not terribly scientific. It certainly doesn’t reimburse well, but after using it for 18 years, I can tell you it’s consistently the most powerful tool I’ve seen help people. And you don’t need to have an M.D. to learn it.

Narrative medicine consists of listening to people’s stories and asking about them with kind curiosity. What do you hope for? What are you looking forward to? What brings you joy and makes your life worth living? What are you worried about and how do you find strength in difficult times? Or even, how was your day and why was it good or bad? These seem like simple questions, but coupled with compassion and patience for others, even those different than you, progress can be made.

There is no need to limit these conversations to those who are ill or destitute. Ask your family, ask your friends and coworkers. Ask the girl serving you coffee at the shop. Don’t mindlessly stare at your phone and ignore the people you pass on the street. Engage with those around you in the real world. When you know more about people, how they feel, and what they think, you can better provide them with what they need, may it be a medical intervention, a hug, companionship, a kind word, a cup of tea, or just a smile.

It’s human connection that heals us, bonds us together, soothes hopelessness. When we genuinely listen to one another we understand one another. When we understand one another, we find common ground and on common ground we can move past differences in politics, religion, and the color of our skin. We can care for one another, love one another, heal and grow.

I care for people who are homeless and people with terminal cancer as well as hundreds of others with marred and broken souls. I can’t fix any of those problems. But hopefully I make people’s lives a little better by listening to and connecting with them, and I’ll keep getting up and going to work everyday, even if that is all I can do.

And I ask you to help me.


Søvn Drake is an emerging writer who can be found haunting coffee shops in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. More about her and her writing can be found at: https://sovndrakestories.wordpress.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

Out of Line~~by Mark Huntley-James

I want to talk about health issues. Not real ones (other than my bad back – later) but the dreadful afflictions visited by authors on their characters. This is all part of my doomed Campaign For Realistic Injuries.

Picture the scene: the hero has fallen off a cliff, broken an arm, been shot twice and clearly needs to lie down for a week or six until it all feels better. In reality, that is. In the story the hero keeps going, climbs back up the cliff with only one arm working, holding onto convenient tufts of grass or hardy vines with his teeth.

Just recently, my other half was having a little rant – standard questions that pop up on writing discussion groups, such as what sort of injury can I inflict on my main character to keep him out of action for a day. This stuff is important, you know? Vital plot devices to control the timing without requiring the hero to step out of character, because a delay caused by dropping by Mum for a cup of tea doesn’t cut it unless our hero hasn’t spoken to Mum for thirty years and now the situation is desperate because she’s down to her last teabag.

So, a day off for no other reason that the hero needs to be late for something. Or only arrive at the last minute. How about a headache? One of those can slow me down for a day, even two if it’s a bad one. Any takers? No? Not dramatic enough? A muscle sprain, then, will that do? No? How about toothache… no I’m not taking the ****. A proper toothache is worth a dozen headaches.

I know, you think you need more blood…

Let’s hear it (tympanic membrane injuries permitting) for the Campaign For Realistic Injuries.

The whole thing would have passed me by as an amusing comment, but I pulled a muscle in my back – a classic, real injury, with only one visible symptom: I couldn’t quite stand straight. It sounds silly and I had to stare in the bathroom mirror for a while to convince myself – I had to concentrate hard to stand with my feet, hips and shoulders in line. It didn’t obviously hurt (unlike walking, turning, breathing…), but as soon as I stopped trying, my posture slumped with my hips to my left.

A real and realistic injury – the hero walked a bit funny. It lacks something. Let’s face it – there is nothing heroic or sexy about a bad back. All I did was heave hay bales around on the Monday, fire-wood on the Tuesday, trimmed hedges on the Wednesday… and spent Thursday through Sunday unable to move and dosed to the eyeballs with ibuprofen. (So it’s a bit over the top if you only want to to delay your hero for a day.)

I had a mobility issue. Walking was fine for short distances in small, slow steps, provided I didn’t turn to the right. Left turns were fine, right turns would trigger a muscle spasm and the sort of pain you can’t do anything about, just endure until it goes away – impossible to really remember or describe. So there I was, sitting on the sofa, barely able to move, time on my hands (or time on my arse) and a whole bundle of related items came together.

Not so long ago, my other half pulled a muscle in her neck, with a similar outcome – days spent immobile on the sofa. Sitting in the same position, I had a new, intimate and unwelcome understanding of what she went through as it healed. So, you want an injury that means your hero is going to be a few days late for the big show-down with the Avenging Horde of the Evil Dread… go with a muscle sprain. If you opt for broken bones, penetrating wounds or other spectacular damage, that had better be for a few weeks delay… or maybe months.

And seriously, climbing back up the cliff and holding on with your teeth…

I mentioned toothache – if you haven’t had a proper toothache, you have no idea. I was on a training course a few years back and noticed a twinge on the Friday afternoon. On the Saturday there was pain. On Sunday I started eating a pillow. That helped to distract from the total failure of the pain-killers. On the Monday, with foam-filled furnishing getting scarce in the house, I got an emergency dental appointment – infection and inflammation of the nerve, trapped inside a tooth with nowhere for the inflammation to go… That was one significantly disabling toothache.

So, try to picture the scene. Your hero has made it to the showdown, swinging their sword/battleaxe/magical doodad, one hand holding his aching jaw, eyes tight shut because the pain seems different like that, and stopping every three fiends to let the pounding head settle down.

As coincidence would have it, we have been following a documentary series on Royal Marine Commando training – if you want a prototype for your indestructible hero dragging himself through hell and into the fight, these are the guys. One particular incident stood out in the context of disabling injuries – the recruit who failed one of the big, final tests (a timed route march carrying a heavy pack) and collapsed just short of the finish line on the retry. The training team were absolutely willing him to finish, and watching it from the comfort of the sofa, it was impossible not to be rooting for him to succeed. He really wanted it, but just missed… because he had a fractured leg.

Just in case you missed that… fractured leg. Now, if you were writing your hero, finishing a gruelling march with a fractured leg, who would believe it? Of course, there is a really serious caveat on this – the recruit was putting everything he had into reaching the finish line in spite of a fractured leg, an utterly mind-boggling piece of determination, but even if he had made it across the last few hundred meters (rather than being carried away for medical attention), the Avenging Horde of the Evil Dread would have had him for breakfast. Disabling injuries for your action hero need to stop a bit short of a broken leg.

Realistically, even if you do choose a pulled muscle for your disabling injury, pick the muscle carefully. Lower back is a dicey one, upper back is tricky, neck and shoulder can give significant mobility restrictions…

So, the Campaign For Realistic Injuries. Lets have a few more nasty bruises, ragged hang-nails and troublesome splinters… or perhaps a migraine. I’ve had one migraine in my life – pain, nausea, visual disturbance, the full works. That’s pretty disabling while it lasts, although it’s a toss-up whether it was worse than the toothache.

Let’s get real, this is fiction we’re talking about. There’s no place for realistic injuries. Unless you’ve experienced a good back injury, or a proper toothache, it doesn’t mean anything unless the hero has lost at least six pints of blood, an arm and the love of his/her life. But perhaps the next time your hero needs a day off, give a thought to a nasty outbreak of boils or a couple of bee stings. Please?


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

Learn To Love Your Inner Editor~~by John Nedwill

“I have spent most of the day putting in a comma, and the rest of the day taking it out.”

Oscar Wilde is supposed to have said this. Many people take this as an illustration of Wilde’s lackadaisical approach towards life in general. But those of us who understand the skill of writing realise that there is a deep truth underlying his words: editing really matters.

Alright. Confession time. As well as being a reasonably unsuccessful writer, I am a part-time editor. I have edited articles for magazines; I have edited books and theses; for my sins I even edit the reports of my fellow engineers. Of course, this means that I have seen numerous abuses of the English language and grammar.

No-one is immune from mistakes. I’m not, you’re not. Everybody who has ever set pen to paper or fingers to keyboards commits errors. These run the gamut from simple typographical errors, through misplaced commas and grocers’ apostrophes, to total failures of English. And if you think that an education is a guarantee of quality in a piece of writing, then you will be sorely disappointed. Some of the worst offenders I have come across have PhDs! While they may be highly skilled and very intelligent individuals, they have no idea how to write.

Some people I have edited for (No names! No pack drill!) have been of the opinion that writing is an art, and that great artists should not be constrained in what they do. I disagree. I am firmly of the opinion that writing is a skill, and anyone can learn how to write well. And one of the keys to learning to write is being aware of what you write and how you can self-edit. So, allow me to share what I think are the four key things to being able to write well.

1. Draft and redraft. Nobody should ever publish the first version of anything they write. For example, this blog entry is my third draft – and I’m sure somebody else will run a critical eye over it before it is published.

2. Let it stand. Time makes a difference to how you see things. What may look good on the page today might not seem so good tomorrow. If nothing else, leaving a piece for a while gives you time to think.

3. Learn to punctuate. Commas, full stops and apostrophes may seem like mere conventional marks, but they can change the meaning of a piece of writing. Weigh up what they do to your writing. However, Oscar Wilde showed that you can go too far, so …

4. Don’t obsess over making things perfect. The whole point of writing is to produce something for others to read. Eventually, you have to stop polishing your work and publish.

Of course, there is the argument that an editor gets paid to check a manuscript and fix it; so – why bother? The answer to this is simple. If you don’t exercise some control, then the manuscript stops being your work and starts being your editor’s.

So – please learn to embrace your inner editor and to be more aware of what you write. You might be pleasantly surprised (well – less unpleasantly) when you get your manuscript back!


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

Next Stop…?? ~~ by Christine Larsen

Banksy's "Girl with Balloon" - a stencilled image on a concrete wall of a girl reaching out to a heart-shaped balloon that she has just lost.

Then there’s another kind of homelessness altogether. It’s one most people rarely consider. It’s about the children who have no ‘real’, forever home of their own. No permanent nest to find sustenance and nurture of small spirits. No soft place to fall when Life proves too difficult to bear alone. They are foster children.

There are shelters, emergency housing and institutions catering for the small homeless brigade; temporary and foster homes for the lucky ones. Lucky? So it is generally believed. But scratch the surface – not too deeply at all – and the saddest of stories emerge.

‘He was nothing but a paycheck to them’

‘… and a year in a children’s home that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Charles Dickens’s novel’

‘… foster mother was very controlling and threatened to send me back to the children’s home if I misbehaved’

‘I felt like a leftover and like a piece of shit that was being carried around from family to family.’

‘My sister and I were 4 and 6 when fostered. We have 2 brothers, each in different foster homes.’

‘Foster kids are good kids in a bad situation – but still just kids’

‘As a child I came to her afraid, having been deprived of every liberty and associating home with violence and neglect.’

And yet, despite all this, there’s a sense of no-one else being able to replace the birth parents. There’s confusion and fear rapidly escalating into terror – but over-riding these are grief as the loss of their ‘known’ unfolds. No matter the abuse or neglect, no matter the shortcomings of their parents, their home was their world. Despite their anger and pain, a part of them never stops loving those parents. The losses continue – of friends, community, school – even the simple comfort of knowing many of the people who have surrounded them. Intangible losses like stability and security; the sense of belonging and identity and connection are the pieces of the jigsaw that build home… and at least some sense of control, however small.

Taken against their will, often passing through a series of group homes or shelters before placement in foreign surroundings with strangers. This is now home, they’re told. Be happy, they’re told. Even though the length of time they’ll be there or how many repeats lay ahead remains secret – adding to the unbearable confusion of their new world. Many profess a wish to be more fully informed and prepared for the trials ahead. Many different ‘homes’ can be expected – statistics tell of 20% of foster children moving more than ten times. Only half stay in one home for over a year. Packing up, saying goodbye, moving, unpacking and starting their whole life all over again becomes the ‘norm’. Little wonder one study has found foster children are more likely to suffer PTSD than combat veterans.

Easy to learn how to build a shell of non-caring, coldness, defiance – in fact, anything to avoid attachment – when nothing can be relied on; everything could change at a moment’s notice. They have learned all too well the frustration of helplessness and pain of the impermanence of their life now.

Home isn’t ‘home’ anymore.

As I said in the beginning – another kind of homelessness altogether.


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


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

Noticing Noticing~~Mark Huntley-James

Mornings have a simple routine, get up, check the animals, have breakfast, except for winter when breakfast happens first whilst we wait for daylight. That’s most mornings. Some time back now, I had one of the specials where I needed to be somewhere, on time, clean and presentable. That meant add in getting showered, finding clothes with no significant animal debris on them, and packing in lots of extra jobs that couldn’t wait until after I got back.

The clean clothes were already set out. All I had to do was shower, cook breakfast, get clothes off the rack beyond my partner’s desk, check weather forecast, nice legs, stroke cat…

Wait. Nice legs? Where did that come from?

Back up. Literally. It was something that caught my eye on the desk – a piece of junk mail waiting for the decision: recycle immediately, use as fire-lighter, use as litter-tray liner. In the semi dark, some unquiet corner of my mind that still remembers its testosterone-addled youth picked out a dim photo, and nice legs. It took some staring at the desk to put the pieces together.

The thing is, this was just a passing glance. All that background stuff in my head, at the subconscious level, picked out a particular detail – part of the activity we mostly don’t notice. The same stuff that gets your foot shifting to the brake before you can consciously paraphrase the Bard – is that a pedestrian I see before me? – or keeps your fingers out of the way of the knife so that supper remains the vegetarian option. We spend so much of our time not actually noticing all the stuff we notice, that it comes as a surprise when circumstances make us actually notice it.

The people who do the adverts in the junk mail know it too, even if they don’t know they know it. That picture, on close inspection, was an ordinary young couple walking down an ordinary street. When I pick it up and look at it now, my head doesn’t instantly say ‘hey, nice legs’, except as an echo of earlier surprise, instead it explores things like do we want another credit card? No. Not even with really competitive rates and easy balance transfer? Er, no. Mostly my head says, is this paper too shiny for the litter tray? But somewhere, in the background, that bit of my mind is probably still chuntering – nice legs, see, told you so. So even though I don’t want the credit card, and surely wouldn’t be swayed by the nice legs, some bit of me noticed, and there’s no telling how insidiously it might be nagging the rest.

Now here’s a thing – I am currently ploughing through a manuscript, doing final edits and proofing, with a view to publishing it in the coming month – and there’s a minuscule theme of nice legs running through the story. My thief is chasing a rich-girl, because she’s made off with the trinket he was stealing, and his thoughts encompass nice legs and good legs for running. Is this just random chance, or did the Tiny Plot Detail department in my subconscious have this thing lying around and spot an opportunity to use it?

So not only did I notice a tiny detail in passing, I’ve now noticed that I seem to have folded that into a story. It makes me wonder how many tiny details slip into my writing without me even noticing where they come from.

Hmmm… this reminds me, I must tell my partner I’ve just noticed there’s some junk mail needs processing. Nice fire-lighter.


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

At Any Age ~~ by Kate McGinn

At Any Age ~~ by Kate McGinn

Today I turn 59 years old. It’s hard to believe that only four years have passed since I began to seriously proceed on my writing journey. I’ve always written stories as soon as I knew how to read and write. When I was young, I dressed up in some type of costume or outfit living out the fantasies in my head as a part of my play. 

As my younger sisters grew, I included them in my make-believe worlds assigning them roles. Our little trio did pre-school improvisation presenting our playacting fun to our family.  I wrote songs (bad songs), and to this day my sister and I remember one of them and can sing it. No one, trust me, no one wants to hear it.

In high school, an English teacher thought enough of my stories to submit one to a national competition. It didn’t win any prizes but knowing that he’d thought enough of my work to submit it made me so proud. Why didn’t I end up writing my first book until I was fifty-five years old?  Life — it’s that simple and that complex.

I hear writers lament about not starting sooner or worrying that the fact they began writing, later in life diminishes their creativity in some way.  As if being an empty-nester or a retiree, somehow lessens the validity of what they are doing. The words and phrases like “hobby”, “time on my hands”, and “writing for the enjoyment” reduce the level of professionalism and creativity because the author is older.

When I was thirteen years old, I visited my uncle and aunt in Newtown, Connecticut for a summer. My aunt’s grandmother had painted several canvases I’d admired. One was a masted ship sailing on an ocean, another illustrated a lush Japanese garden, and the third painting depicted a scene showing my young cousin playing at the beach. I remember these works vividly, and also that my aunt’s grandmother was in her nineties when she began painting.

Toni Morrison published her first novel at age 40. Dorothy Allison, the author of Bastard Out of Carolina was 42 years old when it hit the scene. George Saunders was an environmental engineer before becoming a best-selling author at age 37. George Eliot published for the first time when she was 40. The author of  White Oleander, Janet Fitch, knew she wanted to write at age 21, but didn’t publish her first book for another 18 years. Even Mark Twain didn’t write Huckleberry Finn until he was 49! Other authors who had their first breakthroughs after their mid-thirties include: Cheryl Strayed, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Maya Angelou.

Being older doesn’t negate the creative voice, but it can accentuate the depth of life experiences we bring on our writing journey.  I’ve had over forty years of heartbreak, love, sadness, triumphs, failures, and joy that my young teenaged self hadn’t experienced yet. I worked as a nurse for over thirty years, served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, became a wife, a mother, and a bed & breakfast owner during those years. I lived in Texas, Florida, and Italy. I traveled to multiple countries and across the USA. Every single memory good and bad influence the words I place on the page.

It’s never too late to tell your stories. Don’t ever let your age whether young or more mature (like me) stop you from pursuing your creative dream. It is valid at any age.


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 Clare Thibodeaux Series which includes the suspense books — EXODUS, WINTER’S ICY CARESS, and NEVER SHOW YOUR HAND — is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Kate’s stories can also be found in the magazine — Mom’s Favorite Reads available on Amazon and Smashwords.

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


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

 

Bemused~~John Nedwill

I was in the bathroom getting ready for work when she walked in. “Hey!” she said and sat down on the toilet. I grabbed for a towel to cover myself up.

“Don’t you knock?” I asked, trying to make up for lost dignity with indignation.

“No,” she said. “You know I don’t. Now, I’ve got an idea that I’d like to discuss with you.”

I waved my foam-covered toothbrush at her. “Can’t it wait? I’m a bit busy right now.”

She sighed and stood up. “Alright. I’ll catch you later.”

And, with that, she vanished.

The next time she showed up was when I was on my morning commute. I was in my car, waiting for the lights ahead of me to change. She walked up to my car, opened the passenger door and got in. “We need to talk,” she said. “About this idea of ours – remember?”

“I remember.” I drummed my fingers on the car’s steering wheel. “It’s just it’s a bit awkward right now. Can we – ?” I was interrupted by someone in queue behind me sounding their horn, letting me know that the traffic light had turned from red to green.

“Later?” she asked in a disappointed tone, then vanished.

Later turned out to be when I was sitting in a meeting. The room was full of too many bodies, giving off too much heat as the Chief Engineer droned on about quality assurance and budgets. My attention was drifting, so I didn’t notice it when she let herself into the room.

“Can you get out of this?” she whispered in my ear. I shook my head. “Not even if there’s an urgent appointment you just remembered?” I shook my head again. “You’re no fun.”

I didn’t see her again until much later. I was in bed, asleep, when I was woken by somebody shaking me. “Good,” she announced as I turned on the light. “I’ve got you all to myself.”

I fumbled for my glasses and looked at the clock beside the bed. It was after midnight. “You want to talk about your idea. Now?”

She gave me a grin that was full of teeth and mischief. “Yes, I do. And I’m not going to let you sleep until we’ve sorted it out.”

“Fine.” I levered myself up and searched for the pen and notebook that I had left on the floor by my bed. “Where shall we start?”


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

Praise to Raise~~Christine Larsen

Close-up of a group of daisies.

Dear Mum,

It all began outside the back door admiring the growth of our tomato plant – once again planted in the same spot. Ten years in a row now. It’s totally against best advice from experts, but even they might reconsider if they saw the stunning results, year after year. It’s probably due to the North-facing wall soaking up all the sunshine during the afternoon and staying warm for much of the night.

But you know me, Mum – always choosing an alternative view, especially if there’s a touch of mysticism about it. I love imagining those tomato plants grow so well due to all the attention they always get from everyone who comes to our door and find themselves unable to resist a comment about the glorious size and beauty of the current plant. And that thought centred all my thoughts on you.

Do you remember that quite fabulous daisy bush at the back door of our dairy farmhouse? Uhrr, did I say bush?… more like a small tree. As if you could ever forget those armfuls (or more accurately, bucketfuls) we would pick for you to take back to the city after another of your little farm getaways.

What a picture you made, sitting in the back of our car with a mass of daisies seemingly sprouting out of the floor around your knees. We often debated who had the brightest face – you, or any one of those white beauties with their cheerful yellow centres.

How your neighbours in the block of elderly citizen’s units loved to be given a share, along with fresh milk and parsley and farm-fresh eggs. Like a breath of fresh country wafting into the city, they said, stirring many faraway and long-forgotten memories. For some, it was farm holidays when they were young enough to embrace every moment, every chore. For others pleasant picnic outings into hills or rural surrounds.

But I’m wandering off the subject. Back to the daisy ‘tree’ at our door. How often, as we harvested our generous bounty, would we talk about the amazing growth and size of those glorious blooms? And chat about my belief that the constant praise of visitors was the reason for the spectacular growth – as though that bush preened and grew some more, just to prove worthy of its admirers.

When I heard of research proving human praise promotes plant growth to an unbelievable degree – and when we were appreciating our flourishing tomato plant, I smiled as I remembered that daisy bush. My imagination took flight, thinking how absolutely this applies to the human race.

Even the tiniest of babies – human or animal – respond incredibly in growth, both physically and emotionally, in an atmosphere of loving approval and caring calm. Constant kind talk and gestures of approval build a degree of self-respect and esteem that can rarely be seriously dented in that child’s future.

I came full-circle to wonder if you ever knew what a gift you and Dad gave me. I don’t think so. You both simply mirrored and magnified your own happy nurturing, without thought or deliberation. I think being who I am is a testament to you both – but especially you, Mum. We had so many more years together than I had with dearest Dad.

Many desire or imagine lost parents as Guardian Angels, hovering near, always watching and protecting. I have a different view, Mum. I see you and Dad free of ALL earthly cares, never looking down to witness much that would cause you pain when compared to the world you knew.

This was what you strengthened me for with your love and unswerving belief in me; to face my own battles with courage and a stoic belief in myself and my own abilities. I am the epitome of the saying,

what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’

… thanks to you!

Love always,

Christine


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


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