Holding Space~~by Christine Larsen

One beloved, long-term partner is in pain. The other fusses around, plumps the pillows, tweaks the blanket a little smoother. “What can I do for you? Should I call the doctor? The ambulance?” And the suffering partner says, “Just love me.” The carer thought that was what they were doing with all their attentive actions. Gradually they realise the act of ‘being there’; touching, holding, emotionally walking close alongside on this final journey, requires only the quiet but steady warmth of their love. Only? That is only everything to the needy one.

That’s ‘holding space’.

Another long-term couple share her last hours exactly as she has wished; not in a hospital bed, not connected to countless, soul-less machines. She lies on their old, worn lounge, just a shadow of herself now. Surrounding her with his love, he holds her hand and reminisces about so much they have shared from that amazing first meeting of eyes… of hearts… and souls. They whisper, “I love you forever,” and her peace is absolute.

That’s ‘holding space’.

When you’re giving your full empathetic attention to another who’s distressed, lost, ‘in need’ — with no judgement, no rush to try to solve their problems with platitudes; when you totally accept them, warts and all, whether or not you really understand their sorrow and fears, you are empowering them. You are telling them by your acceptance that you believe in their strength and ability to deal with their crisis.

That’s ‘holding space’.

Allowing another person to express themselves without fear of judgement or whether they are ‘telling their story right’ is like creating a bubble around them to protect them from the world and its intrusions; like giving them freedom to think and feel exactly ‘in the moment’. Remind yourself, over and over, it is not your job to solve their situation. It is your job to just be with them, loving them through this part of their life journey; hearing them with your heart; echoing their thoughts and emotions; always acknowledging their right to feel the way they do.

That’s ‘holding space’ in a most special way.

And what of the survivors of those first stories of long-term partnerships? What of their space when their loved one has peacefully slipped into that final sleep? Woven into their grief and loss will be a precious ‘knowing’ they recognised exactly what their loved one wanted… and willingly, lovingly, held open the door to their new reality, to simply ‘be there’, fully embracing the moment.

Having learned the lesson so well, the survivor’s greatest reward will be the ability to accept the hole in their heart that no other can fill; comfortably and comfortingly indulging in a large dose of self-kindness. It’s not suppressing or denying the pain of the loss; rather an acceptance of the inevitability of Life and the risk we take when first we love.

That’s ‘holding space’ for themselves.


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.

Christine contributed A Bonny Wee Lassie to the One Million Project: Fiction anthology.

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 are now available (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

Eclosion~~by John Nedwill

In theory, by the time this blog entry is published, England will have passed another milestone on its route towards a new normality. Like may other countries, the UK has dealt with the SARS-COV-2 outbreak with a combination of lockdowns, testing and vaccination (with varying degrees of success). The current strategy of the government is a programme of controlled relaxation of restrictions, carried out in stages. On 12th April, all shops – both essential and nonessential – were allowed to open. So, this means that as well as supermarkets, pharmacies and hardware stores, those of us who live in England are now allowed to go to stationers, book shops and other places. Cafés, bars and restaurants are also allowed to serve people – provided it is a takeaway service or customers are seated outside.

When I was talking with my mother, who lives in Northern Ireland and is subject to different restrictions, she asked me what I was looking forward to. I thought for a minute, then came up with three things.

First off, I’m looking forward to being able to go to the butcher that I have used for many years. They are based in the local market, but the market building was closed as it contained a number of businesses that were deemed ‘nonessential’. Over the years I have got to know the staff at the butcher, and the service is good. Before the restrictions, I would often chat to the people behind the counter and exchange news and gossip.

Next door to the butcher is an ice cream stand. They sell their own ice cream and it comes in flavours that I have not been able to get anywhere else. Yes, it is significantly more expensive than the ice cream in the freezer section of the supermarket; but it is definitely worth it.

Finally, the local bookshop will be open. I have been able to buy books by mail order (unlike the meat and ice cream), but there is something about being able to go to a bookshop, to browse the shelves and to discover a book through serendipitous accident rather than through an algorithm.

In short, what I am after is variety. After a year of working at home, after months of lockdowns and ‘stay at home’ orders, I am looking forward to getting out of the house and experiencing life again – even if it is just the small pleasures of seeing people, tasting new things and being back in familiar places.

(Editor’s note: eclosion is the act of an insect emerging as an adult from the pupa or as a larva from the egg.)


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 are now available (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

Reintegration~~by Søvn Drake

(Editor’s note: The day this article appears is Easter Monday in the 2021 Christian calendar. I didn’t plan it like that, but it seems appropriate, given the article’s theme.)

Life changed last year and it will never be the same.

Now I find myself wondering how will it change again as we reintegrate ourselves back into the world. Perhaps as we reunite with loved ones with whom we have been separated from for so long, we will be gifted with more appreciation for life.

My husband and I are physicians, and as such we were fortunate to be vaccinated in the first wave. As soon as my mother was fully vaccinated, we swabbed our son’s and his best friend’s nose, threw them in the car, and drove 1382 miles from Seattle, Washington to Boulder, Colorado. We left at the end of online school on Friday and arrived at my mother’s before it started on Monday. My son’s school has been online since March 23rd, 2020. For twelve months he has only played with his best friend in a socially distanced manner outside wearing masks. They were limited to riding bikes, kicking a soccer ball, or snowboarding.

Since reuniting, they have giggled cheek to cheek watching episodes of the Simpsons during our twenty-hour haul across the American West. They climbed rocks at windy rest stops, ate burgers together in their own hotel room, and learned to play poker which they love. After twelve months of online gaming (grossly surpassing the amount of screentime any child should ever have) they haven’t been on their iPads once since getting to Colorado outside of their lessons. They huck rocks into the pond that lies behind my mother’s house, play hide and seek, and build forts like my sister and I used to.

The drive–through long–is a beautiful one and a route I drove in my 20’s and again in my 30’s. The stark western landscape seemed more breathtaking on this trip than I remembered. Perhaps I appreciated it more because I’m older now and I write so am always on the lookout for detail. Maybe my senses were primed because I haven’t traveled in a year. But I think I saw things differently because of how our lives were irrevocably altered in the last year.

After crossing our own local mountains, we traveled through rolling barren hills in Eastern Washington covered in shrubs. We crossed an Oregon mountain pass as a blizzard swirled around us. My trusty Subaru trekked on through an ever shifting landscape brushed with snow. Sunlight pressed the contours and jagged edges of hillsides into stark relief in fantastic and unpredictable ways. The olive-colored Oregon landscape turned to a wild west movie-worthy brown terrain in Idaho. Inspiring mountains peaks and a full rainbow highlighted our drive through Utah. The desolate dry wasteland in Wyoming finally succumbed to dazzling yellow fields as we neared Colorado. My husband and I were awed by our country’s vastness, its gorgeous large swaths of emptiness. It felt as if we had never really seen the stunning beauty of America before, and it had a powerful effect on our psyche.

We weren’t sure we were going to make our journey on the ludicrous timeline I had set, but when I realized we were only three hours from my mother’s house I was filled with a yearning to see her I hadn’t felt since she went to the hospital for the birth of my little sister when I was three. I refused to stop overnight in Laramie despite my husband’s protests. My son too wanted to push on through to his grandmother’s (previously my grandmother’s) house where we both have wonderful childhood memories.

My mother hadn’t hugged anyone in a year.

My mother is in her 70’s and has been in good health. An introvert who has never enjoyed socializing in large groups, she spends most of her days gardening. Women in our family are campers, outdoor women, and pack rats. She has two girlfriends she walked with daily throughout the pandemic. So while I worried about a lot of things last year, I never worried about her. She was so happy we made it Sunday night and didn’t have to wait one more day to embrace us.

But when I hugged her I realized I should have worried about her more. I should have called her more, Facetimed with her, sent pictures, and thought about her more than I did. She was lonely. I woke up early the next morning because I wanted to be with her, talk to her about the mundane details of life, and drink the cheap coffee she drinks, instant Nescafe. My grandmother also drank it and I’m too much of a Seattle coffee snob to ever purchase it myself. But I always drink it here when I sit on the sofa watching the Rocky Mountains change color in the sunrise. It pairs nicely with this house and all the memories I’ve accumulated here throughout my life.

Nescafe has always tasted good here, but this year it tastes divine.

I sit here in my grandfather’s old bedroom writing, his doctorate in Natural Science dated July 1944 hangs behind me. The shelves are filled with photo albums and transcribed family letters dating back to the turn of the last century. I’m home, surrounded by family and I appreciate it more than I ever thought I could.

Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control officially announced vaccinated people can be indoors together without masks. So as you and your loved ones get vaccinated and finally finish that long, painful, lonely wait, cherish the reunion with friends and family. We once took so much for granted. Now we may see the colors of the world brighter than we ever have. Perhaps as writers we will overcome the brain fog and writer’s block that has plagued so many of us during these dark times and capture with our pens the beauty of life’s simple pleasures like never before.


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

Unconscious Desire~~by Mark Huntley-James

I don’t write about writing, as a rule, even though I’ve broken that rule several times lately. That’s the thing about rules and writing – don’t like them, don’t use them, certainly don’t want to recommend them to anyone else. I’m a pantser, I just write, no structure, no plans… no… no way that this can possibly be true.

My previous post on this topic (again, breaking my rule about not writing about writing) was on plans hatched by my characters and the intervention of unforeseen factors, which got me to thinking about my largely subconscious planning process. Since I don’t plan my writing and things still seem to work out, it feels like there must be some sort of plan happening in the background.

It doesn’t matter so much with a short piece like this – I can write randomly, rambling on to get my thoughts together, then tidy up, give it some structure, and it looks like I planned it that way all along. That does not seem a plausible or practical way to write a novel, let alone a series of novels, but apparently that’s what I do. Unless, of course, there’s some sleight-of-mind thing going on in the background, where a vast planning organisation in the back of my head does all the design work without me really noticing.

It’s a little like driving a regular commute. How many times have you gone to work, the shops or the gym and arrived with no recollection of actually doing the driving? It’s quite amazing how much the human mind gets done without the human noticing.

Last time, I wrote about a plot that was going nowhere interesting, really, really slowly, and suddenly the panster lightbulb came on, delivered fixes, and all was well. If it was really that easy, why did it take weeks of apparently fruitless work and frustration culminating in two days of ah-ha!

When I look back at what I did, there is a catalogue of writerly grunt-work. I wrote an outline of the plot I had, an outline of how that plot ought to look, notes on which characters ought to appear where and when, and then abandoned all of that because none of it really worked. At the same time, I wrote pieces of the book, trying to fill in the gulf between what was already there and what the new outline suggested would be good, which is not a happy thing to do, because I hate outlines.

Then, out of nowhere, something in the back of my head said: that goes there, that little incident is the obvious basis for a big showdown, which fits the wider pattern of the book, and look, everything makes sense. With hindsight, it seems to me that it didn’t come out of nowhere, but out of weeks of work, letting the book, the characters and the world slosh around in my subconscious until finally an answer emerged like a surprise predatory iceberg easing casually into the path of an unsuspecting ship that it’s had its eye on. Perhaps exactly the same sort of process that a dedicated plotter might achieve with a ream of paper, unlimited PostIts and a pack of pens in fifty different colours.

My way is easier on the rain forests.

I don’t know if my grand theory is true. I have no way of testing it or proving it, but it seems a much better explanation than miraculously, out of nowhere. (Besides, in terms of plots, that’s known as a deus ex machina, which is really just Latin for miraculously, out of nowhere, and is a little bit frowned upon by writers.)

Writing books is hard work. The real miracle is that anyone is crazy enough to do it. I would like to think my explanation of how my head works is right, but that’s probably based on an unconscious need for explanations, and this one is so cool that I really want it to be right.

And here, with no plan, I’m done writing this blog. Apart from the editorial litter-picking, and giving it the gloss that makes it all look planned.

(My other half, who reads and comments on all my work, deserves a mention here. She just said so.)


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 contributed a story to the One Million Project: Fantasy anthology, While We Were Sleeping.

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 are now available (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

Altered Ability~~by Christine Larsen

Silhouettes of people in a line, all holding hands - child, woman, man, person in a wheelchair, man, woman, child. Behind them, the sun is rising.

“Race you down the passage, Chris,” and he was off in his magnificent electric wheelchair, those fabulous blue eyes flashing every which way. He was a handsome devil was Bill, along with possessing a genius-level brain, a photographic memory and a spirit as tall as a Giant Sequoia. Ohh, nearly forgot to mention, he had also been a road accident victim many years before, suffering a broken spine that paralysed him completely from the neck down. Bill was a quadriplegic. He would have been the first to disparage this label, medically accurate as it may be. He needed recognition of the person he was, NOT his medical condition. I understand Bill was not alone in this perfectly understandable desire.

There’s an unhappy history of unfortunate, often cruel, names to describe people who are far more physically challenged than most. I’m most definitely NOT one who demands or even tinily appreciates ‘politically correct’ terminology and names, all too often finding the replacements more offensive than the originals. With improvement of the language used for those with uncommon abilities, an overhaul of the regular verbiage is long overdue.

Hopefully, the most cruel and thoughtless names—crippled, spastic, retarded, etc.—are descriptions from a dark and faraway past. Hopefully! And yet, ‘handicapped’ and ‘disabled’ are taking some losing, being so commonplace. The ugly ‘handicapped’ summons up endless shutter-like pictures with a never-ending flow of the clumsy awkwardness of these people hitting one insurmountable hurdle to so-called ‘normality’, after another. According to one spokesperson, “Disability IS… when your car breaks down, it disables your car. People are NOT disabled,” suggesting the term itself can cause lives to being lived with much greater degrees of restriction, much increased self-doubt and dependency.

I saw an interesting attempt to avoid the word ‘disabled’ at a shopping centre carpark. The easily recognised stick figure in a wheelchair had the word PARKING beneath. Well done, being also clearly understandable to those lacking knowledge of the language. But it struck a funny bone… uhrr, park your wheelchairs there and a miraculous cure will enable you to walk away?? Despite this amusing aside, ‘people with disabilities’ (as they prefer being called) understand and appreciate efforts like these. It’s not really so difficult to imagine how you would want your humanity—your humanness—placed first when you’ve lost so much else; some aspects, maybe forever.

Here are a few preferred terminologies to consider:-

DON’T USE ‘confined to a wheelchair’ or ‘wheelchair-bound’, but

USE ‘wheelchair user’ or ‘uses a wheelchair’.

DON’T USE ‘victim’ or ‘sufferer’—these are dehumanizing and imply powerlessness

USE ‘person with a disability’, ‘person with paraplegia’, ‘person with HIV/AIDS’.

See how the person features, and the problem moves into the background?

DON’T USE ‘disabled access’ and ‘handicapped access’, but

USE ‘wheelchair accessible’, ‘wheelchair accessible via ramp’, ‘upper floors wheelchair accessible by lifts’.

Almost all dislike being considered as some kind of especially superhuman, brave, or courageous being. They are the same as everyone else, usually simply needing to try a lot harder, but otherwise sharing the same talents and skills, given the right opportunities, training, and support. As I understand it, these are wishes, not demands; preferences to give them back their individual self-esteem and self-belief that they remain a vital part of their world.

I’ve researched and ‘tossed around’ many ideas and suggestions for altering our perception of these folk, and believe we could achieve much with some adjusted thinking about their abilities.

‘Lesser’ ability had appeal until I thought about the effort it takes some to even breathe. Suddenly, ‘lesser’ pales significantly.

‘Different’ ability sounds good. So much of their previous life-styles differs from anything imagined, or probably even believed possible to survive.

‘Physically challenged’ (or ‘mentally’, ‘emotionally’, ‘environmentally’—the list would be long); this feels the most promising to me. ‘Challenge’ is such an understatement of what these folk must endure and overcome… but it feels honest, and the best.

And my name for this article—ALTERED ABILITY—is deeply relevant to me, despite being perceived as ‘somewhat science-fiction, compared to authentic life’ by some. Considering some implants, prosthetics and treatments, this is maybe not so far from the truth. But my meaning was the massive adjustments people with DISabilities must face as they learn to accept and live with their new reality.

All we able-bodied folk need is empathy. Not such a great ask, hey? Remembering the countless, fantastic rewards to my heart and soul from my time working with Bill as his carer and oft-times visitor/helper in his hospital and rehabilitation stints, I would give the greatest encouragement to re- stacking the odds in the fullest favour of success with the physical challenges he and people like him confront.


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.

She contributed the story A bonny Wee Lassie to the One Million Project: Fiction anthology.

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 are now available (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 Rhythm of Life~~by John Nedwill

By the time this is published, we will be almost a year into the official declaration of the COVID-19 emergency in the UK. Since then we have been in and out of various stages of quarantine, we have been isolated from our friends and families and we have lost so many people on the way. It has not been a good year for so many of us.

I am one of the lucky ones. In the last year I have lost income, but I still have my job. I don’t see my friends any more, unless it is over a Skype chat. I miss seeing people and going to places that I used to spend time at: cafés, galleries, museums, that sort of thing. However, as a writer I still have one place I can go – my imagination.

Or I used to.

Like many others, I now work from home. The place where I used to sit and write in my notebooks has now become my office. I spend too much time there. What was once my sanctuary, the place where I could go to get away from things, became a place that I had to be, nine hours or more a day. As a result, my writing suffered. When you spend so much time in front of a work-supplied laptop, the last thing that springs to mind is to spend more time in front of another laptop, trying to write. As days blurred together with no way to distinguish them, I decided that I had to do something to get part of my life back. So, I established a new routine.

Every weekday, I am online to work just after 6:30 am. I spend my time in front of their screen, my radio tuned to something vaguely engaging – Radio 4 or Radio 4 Extra for preference. Then, come 3 pm, I stop. That’s it. No more working for the day. I put the work things away and go out for a walk. It gets me out of the house and clears my head. I get back home by 4 pm and get out my Japanese textbooks and language lessons. Until 5 pm, I am immersed in my language studies. After that, it is time to cook dinner and spend time with my daughter. There are days that she is the only other human being that I see.

After 7 pm, it’s time to socialise. There is the usual round of friends and family to talk to, and the (now weekly) meetings of the local writing group on Skype. A couple of nights a month I get together with old friends to play games over the internet. And some nights I write.

It’s not as much as I used to. And it took me a while to establish a new routine where I had time to write. But I am writing regularly and – with the help of friends – getting the feedback I need to keep writing. I have something that works for now.

There’s just one thing that bothers me. One day this is all going to end. And that means I am going to have to establish a new routine.


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 are now available (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

Do You Really Need An Author Website?~~by Akje Majdanek

Back when Wattpad had a writer community I used to spend a lot of time there, and after they shut it down I moved to the new community. It seems to be pretty much the same people asking the same writerly questions, like How do I get a traditional publishing deal?

The answers are always the same: first go to Publishers Marketplace, QueryTracker, or Duotrope and find an agent.

But the first step really ought to be: build a professional looking website. Why? Because the first thing an agent generally does before taking you on is to find out more about you. Are you a popular author? Do you write anything that would sell big? How much of a following do you have? What kind of social network presence do you have? And a question that’s becoming more pressing these days: are you a liability because you’re a badly behaving author who’s been involved in an internet scandal?

To find out, the agent will google your name and see what comes up. After all, even though the controversy over American Dirt helped make it a bestseller, those in the industry don’t want to actively court disaster. If you’re a hothead with a long history of attacking reviewers, they’re probably going to give you a pass. The first thing that comes up in a Google search should be your author site so they know you’re a serious writer, and it ought to look professional.

Have a gander at some of my favorites:

Stephenie Meyer
Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Judy Moody
Emily Martin
Cassandra Clare
Ben Okri
Shel Silverstein
David Arnold
Vince Frost
Jennifer Egan
Julie James
Elinor Lipman
Jane Austen

Yes, even a dead author can have a gorgeous website, and so can you! It’s easier than you think. Jane Friedman, Joanna Penn and Joe Bunting have written excellent guides on how to do it, and there are probably many more guides online.

I built mine on NeoCities, although I don’t recommend that you get a free one like I did. For one thing, there are usually bandwidth limits with free sites. But I’m dirt poor so I had no choice. You can always upgrade later when you get moolah. WordPress is a good possibility since they offer both free sites and paid, and most of the web runs on WordPress. Squarespace is another popular host.

Things you might want to put on your site:

■ a biography
■ a link to your blog
■ a contact page and list of your social networks
■ blurbs and excerpts from your books
■ a list of scheduled events (lucky you!)
■ news, updates and FAQs
■ book trailers, videos, podcasts
■ your favorite book quotes
■ mood boards, face claims, playlists
■ deleted scenes
■ essays, short stories, early work
■ share your favorite links and resources
■ give them a peak at future releases
■ let them subscribe to your email list

There are probably way more things you could add; just think of what you’d love to see on your favorite author’s site. The important thing is to give your readers, or potential future readers, a good idea of just who you are and what you write. Your site is a great way to brand yourself and get them interested in your work, so be yourself and have fun with it! If you love it, they’ll probably love it too. (*^-‘) 乃


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. (#^.^#)

Links:

Amazon

Dreamwidth

Twitter

NaNoWriMo

Wattpad

Goodreads


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers are now available (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

Weel Done, Cutty Sark!~~by Steven J Pemberton

In honour of Burns Night, I’m reprinting this article from a simpler time (i.e., when it was safe to travel on a train to visit a tourist attraction). The connection to Robert Burns is revealed in the third paragraph.

A photo of the Cutty Sark in its dry dock in Greenwich.

Cutty Sark is a 19th-century sailing ship, preserved as a museum in a dry dock in Greenwich in London. It’s a clipper, a type of ship built for speed, specifically to carry tea from China to Britain. Tea was still something of a luxury in Britain at this time, and the first ship to make a delivery of the new season’s crop could command a high price.

The exhibition tells the story of the tea trade in general and Cutty Sark in particular. When tea was first introduced to Britain, import duties on it were so high that it was a profitable cargo for smugglers. Aristocrats would keep their tea stash under lock and key, and prepare the drink themselves, rather than trust their servants to do it.

The name of the ship comes from the poem Tam O’Shanter by Robert Burns. Tam is on his way home, drunk, late at night, and sees light coming from a ruined church. Witches and warlocks are dancing there, and the devil himself is playing the bagpipes. Tam notices one particularly attractive young witch wearing a sark (a shift or chemise) that’s too cutty (short) for her. Unable to restrain himself, he calls out “Weel [well] done, cutty sark!” in admiration. The witches and warlocks, alerted to his presence, chase him. He makes his getaway over a bridge (the devil and his servants can’t cross running water), but the young witch manages to seize the tail of his horse. The ship’s figurehead is a likeness of the witch, holding the horse’s tail. It’s not entirely clear to me why the ship’s owner chose the name. Certainly it suggests a fast vessel, but since the witch’s quarry escaped, it also suggests one that’s not quite fast enough.

For a trip from China to Britain, the ship’s hull was essentially packed solid with tea crates, and carried about 580 tons of tea – enough to make about 200 million cups. The crew initially slept in a compartment at the bow, but complained this was too small, and so a couple of cabins were built on the deck. Even allowing for the fact that people tended to be smaller back then, these must have been cramped – eight or ten bunks in a space not much bigger than our spare bedroom.

Cutty Sark made “only” eight runs on the tea route. The ship’s launch coincided with the opening of the Suez Canal. The canal shortened the route from Shanghai to London from about 16,000 miles to about 12,200, but it wasn’t suitable for sailing ships. That, coupled with the improving efficiency of steam engines, meant that steamships became a much faster way of bringing tea to Britain. Clippers were broken up or moved to other routes where speed wasn’t as important. Cutty Sark spent forty years or so sailing the world before returning to Britain in 1922 to be converted into a training ship. By the 1950s, it was no longer needed in this role. As it was the last surviving tea clipper, it was moved to a permanent dry dock on the River Thames and converted into a museum.

The exhibition tries to convey what life was like on board, though a lot of imagination is called for – you’re spending a few minutes on a stationary platform in the middle of a big city, not weeks on a rolling ship hundreds of miles from land, constantly being chilled by the wind and drenched by the waves.

Unusually for a ship in a dry dock, you can walk around underneath the ship and admire its lines. The way this was done has been criticised as being ugly and more for the benefit of the corporate hospitality market than for the sake of preserving the ship. Personally I don’t see what the problem is, though I know very little about architecture.

Allow an hour to go around, or maybe an hour and a half if you want to read all the text or have a go on the interactive exhibits.

This article originally appeared on Steven’s blog at https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/15925731-weel-done-cutty-sark.


OMP Admin Note: Steven J Pemberton is the editor of the OMP blog. His writing is mainly fantasy and science fiction novels. You can learn more about those at his website at http://www.pembers.net. He contributed a short story (History Lesson) to the One Million Project: Fantasy anthology, and writes stories for the OMP’s Fox Universe/Earth-F project on Wattpad.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers are now available (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

Off-plan~~by Mark Huntley-James

I’m pantser, not a planner. I don’t analyse, I just write. Except when it all goes to pieces in the middle of writing a book and a bit of structure is needed to dig my way out of a hole.

There has been a lot of that lately, with my currently book proving unusually troublesome, and at a time when my plans in general have been upended. Two years ago, set up with both life and writing plans that stretched over two years, I suddenly found myself struggling to write whilst sitting in various hospital waiting rooms. A year later, with diagnosis and treatment plans established, enter COVID.

That’s the trouble with plans – the vagaries of life can upend them in a moment.

All of this came together in my head recently as I had a breakthrough with a shambolic plot where everything was floundering, going nowhere, and completely failed to have any relationship with the overall story. Somewhere in the back of my mind there was a plan of sorts, probably a sentence or two at the most, but never written down. That plan, however, was nothing more than a random collection of minor triumphs for my characters, their own grand plans coming to fruition in an almost linear and distinctly pedestrian progress towards success.

Real life isn’t like that, and all the people I know who talk about the theory of writing tell me that fiction shouldn’t be either.

After weeks of struggle, that mess became a coherent plan in the space of two days (including grumbling on social media and feeding the sheep in the rain). I put that sudden success down to the weeks of effort finally paying off, leading me to a moment of insight, the desperately needed plot-twist to provide the point of failure in the plan.

So, I have a new plan. Not a plot outline, though, because I’m still too much of a pantser for that.

To explain my moment of insight, I need the writing analysis, which I never do, unless I’m desperate. A great many stories seem to follow a very simple structure which I found was particularly noticeable in some episodic tv shows. I happened to do that noticing recently whilst watching some old favourite DVD box sets during lockdown.

It goes like this.

Set up the conflict. Devise a plan which will resolve the conflict so that everyone lives happily until the next episode. Drop in an unforeseen factor that derails the plan completely. Devise a new, more desperate and challenging plan. (Add to taste, optional, extra-desperate plan-C for final twist if desired.) Deliver a nail-biting, skin-of-the-teeth success in the alternate plan. Final credits.

Funnily enough, that’s not unlike real life. The last year has had more than its fair share of sudden phone calls from the hospital “that terribly urgent test you are booked in for tomorrow has now been cancelled due to COVID-19, press one on your keypad now to reschedule.” That might be less dramatic than “your plan to save humanity from the deadly plague from outer space has now been cancelled due to the Zarg invasion, press one on your interdimensional confabulator to connect with the subspace resistance fighters” but it comes down to the same thing: no plan entirely survives contact with real life.

So, now I have it. My plot twist. The unforeseen factor. My original pedestrian plot is no longer a walk in the park. The plan is derailed, the new plan is there to rescue the mess, and now it all feels like fictional real life again.

Maybe I will add a line to the dedication, thanking the hungry sheep who helped my thought processes along.

Oh, and the “new plan” actually fits with the theme of the book, which is completely fortuitous, because I never plan or analyse for that. Not consciously, anyway.

Oh. Not consciously… Now I have a plan for my next article. Not what I was originally planning…


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 are now available (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

It’s an Ill Wind~~by Christine Larsen

The words "IT'S AN ILL WIND" in a spiky font. The background is a dark blue sky with wind-swept white clouds.

In January 2020, I was writing about stopping the home fires burning. My Australia was on fire, and it seemed nothing could outstrip the losses, the grieving, and the pain this disaster caused. Currently, we are seeing many replays of the horrors… and the painful aftermath. The follow-up a year later shows the human spirit triumphing over that appalling disaster, in many ways. The common denominator is courage and an unquenchable will to survive.

In March 2020 a pandemic swept the world in unimaginable numbers that forced all else to pale. The losses and suffering have been immense, testing the fibre of far too many human beings beyond anything they should ever have known. Daily, the news reports have bombarded our senses with a more intense ‘doom and gloom’ scenario than the entire world has ever had to face, accept and contend with.

To imagine any positives out of this horrific scenario had seemed impossible… and yet a significant percentage of homelessness has become a solvable problem, being called an unbelievable ‘silver lining’ of the ominous cloud of the pandemic.

Unconventional approaches across the world are achieving varying levels of success… it seems ‘one size (or solution) does NOT fit all’, sadly. That many options are being trialled—even though some are resulting in failure—is SO encouraging; to think so much more care and studied thought is being spent on this soul-destroying problem than ever before.

Considered the most innovative (but commonsense) reaction and subsequent action has happened in Finland, where a successful program has seen immediate placement of homeless people into existing housing, newly purchased flats and purpose-built housing blocks. They give these tenants individually tailored support services that continue as long as needed.

From their welfare payments, the newly housed contribute what they can to the rental, and the Government pays the rest. Successful? Well…there are no more homeless shelters, they are all now converted to supported housing.

An unexpected financial bonus to the authorities has seen up to 9,600 euros (over 15,000 AUD) a year savings on the regular ‘homeless’ costs of just one person! An amazing win/win situation for all … surely?

The ‘knee-jerk’ response to place these ‘lost’ beings into hotels and motels is proving UNsuccessful. No independence of feeling of self-worth is fostered, and in fact, a common reaction has been to feel ‘trapped’, being ‘a burden with nothing but nuisance value’ — and still no independence or opportunity to develop a sense of responsibility.

Moving homeless people into empty student apartments is a reasonable choice… IF they have their own, most basic cooking and self-care facilities. Far preferable is converting long-term empty houses and buildings of all varieties into permanent housing, and purchasing housing units where rent amounts can be income-ability based.

Then comes the need for recognition that support may not stop the moment a person walks into what may be their ‘forever’ home. In an ideal handling, dedicated co-ordinators would assist those in need of a guiding hand and a voice to walk through all the regular necessities, like credit checks and applications, budgeting, furnishing/daily living requirements, and the actual move-in. Ongoing needs could include negotiations with the landlord, neighbours and facing and meeting problems and potential conflicts.

Many would need physical and emotional support as they learn (or re-learn) ways of adjusting to; coping with; and succeeding in their alternative world. For others, serious addictions, bad habits and ‘crutches’ must be addressed and resolved if possible. A whole other world, for sure.

As various bodies around the world reach out, we hope and pray—despite their deepest despair—the ‘rough sleepers’ can accept and benefit from the TLC being offered. How wonderful if 2021 saw the beginning of the end of that other, sinister pandemic — HOMELESSNESS!


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 are now available (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