Safety in Numbers?~~by Akje Majdanek

I’d planned to write a comparison of literary, upmarket and commercial fiction and why litfic isn’t what you think, but haven’t been able to concentrate lately. I haven’t been able to think about anything actually but the coronavirus.

I know, first world problems, right? Such a nuisance to have to wait in lines at the store, then discovering they’re out of everything you want when you finally get inside. Having to order takeout at restaurants and wearing masks and gloves every time you leave the house. Not being able to leave the house at all unless you desperately need something.

For days I went to the bother of calculating mortality rates for various countries until it depressed me too much. Friends have pointed out the positives, like how the environment’s improving thanks to global quarantines, but that just brings to mind what scientists have always said: that human overpopulation causes environmental destruction, which brings disaster. Could this disease be the result of environmental destruction? Are the scientists right that there are too many people in the industrialized nations? Are we chopping down too many forests, plowing over too many prairies and destroying too much animal habitat in order to provide housing, office space and shopping centers for all those people?

According to the Guardian, since 2003 China has poured more cement every three years than the USA did in the entire 20th century. Today, China uses almost half the world’s concrete. How many animals do they displace or destroy when they do that? And how many do we in other countries displace or destroy when we build our own cities? This pandemic could’ve started anywhere.

Animals don’t just disappear when we destroy their habitat. They move in with us. Where I live in Florida we now have coyotes running through our backyards because developers built a strip mall and car dealership near our house. I didn’t know Florida even had coyotes until then. What if those coyotes were infected with something? They’d spread it to our dogs and cats, who’d then bring it to us.

According to scientists, there’s this thing that protects us called the dilution effect, which, as I understand it, means that good germs protect us from bad germs. For every evil microbe like a coronavirus there’s a good microbe that preys on it, but when we plow down the forests we disrupt the biodiversity, and those microbes are destroyed or mutated and the good ones can’t protect us anymore.

We have to stop destroying the environment, and the first step is to start practicing sustainable reproduction. Two children per couple is sustainable; anything above that is not. If we don’t start taking better care of the environment, Nature may come up with even worse diseases for us─diseases that cause blindness, deafness, paralysis, necrosis, brain damage, disfigurement. Smallpox caused blisters all over the body, and we used to think there was nothing worse than that. We’re proud of ourselves for eliminating it, but how great an achievement was that when we’re inadvertently creating new infectious diseases all the time with our behavior?

Sustainability should be a no-brainer. It essentially means moderation in all things. To quote a character from one of my own books:

They say those who won’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I predict dire lessons in the future.

(Editor’s note: The dilution effect is a result of herd behaviour in prey animals. All other things being equal, as a herd gets bigger, the risk of any one animal being eaten by a predator becomes smaller. The paper discussed in the linked article argues that the expansion of human civilisation into areas that were previously wilderness increases the risk of a new disease emerging that can infect humans. If we split a population of wild animals into two, any diseases they carry can start to evolve separately in the two sub-populations, as they might now be subject to different selection pressures. This effectively gives evolution extra “rolls of the dice” when “trying” to create a disease that can jump into humans. (I put “trying” in quotes because evolution doesn’t have any plans or ambitions. It just looks as though it does.) This is in addition to the risks posed by living nearer to wild animals than we did before.)


About Akje Majdanek

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

Facebook


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.
If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.
Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.
LINKS
myBook.to/OMPThriller
myBook.to/OMPFantasy
myBook.to/OMPFiction
myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Being Boring~~by John Nedwill

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

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

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

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

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

Embrace your boredom!

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


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

A Personal Space Odyssey~~by Christine Larsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


OMP Admin Note: Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

The Problem With Resolutions~~by John Nedwill

Happy New Year to you all!

Yes. I know that it will be February by the time you read this, but that doesn’t matter. Did you have a good Christmas? Did you make any New Year resolutions? Are you sticking to them? I thought as much.

I know that it’s traditional to make promises to yourself at the start of a new year. It’s symbolic of a new start, an attempt to change you and your life for the better. But, keeping to your resolutions can be a terrible chore. It always seems to go through the same cycle. At first, it’s exciting to be trying something new. Then, as time goes by, they become inconvenient and you find excuses: you ‘forget’ or “Just this once won’t make any difference.” Then, before you know it, the gym pass is lying forgotten in your coat pocket, the intake of gin goes back to its old levels, and the great novel is left in a drawer somewhere.

Well – allow me to tell you my secret to keeping New Year resolutions.

I. Don’t. Make. Any.

You see, I find it far too easy to abandon my resolutions and discard them like puppies that have grown too big. Instead, if there’s something I want to do, I make a habit of it.

Human beings are great creatures of habit. Even if it’s harmful or something we don’t enjoy, a habit is a hard thing to break. But, if a habit can be harnessed for good, then why not cultivate one?

One of my habits is to make a daily entry in my journal. I take my journal everywhere with me; in fact, it has become one of my defining traits. When I take my journal out and start to scribble in it, nobody seems to notice. It’s just a habit of mine.

Another example. Like most people, I have a Sunday morning routine. Mine starts with Sunday breakfast while listening to the radio. After that I do the household chores. Then I sit down at the kitchen table to do something creative. It doesn’t matter what I do – writing, calligraphy, bookbinding – so long as I feel that I am adding something to the world. It’s a habit.

So, if you really want to do something, don’t make a resolution. Make it a habit!


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

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

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

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