It’s an Ill Wind~~by Christine Larsen

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

It’s All A Bit Crap, Really~~by John Nedwill

So, it’s almost the end of 2020. I would like to say that although this year has been a horrible year, we have managed to come through it alright. It would be marvellous to say that this year has shown us how we can come together and has demonstrated that we have heretofore unknown reserves of resilience. I would love to say that in the last year I have taken the opportunity of the time afforded to me to look deep within myself, assess my priorities and learn new skills.

Only I can’t.

Yes, the media has been full of uplifting stories and panegyrics for the ‘heroes of the hour’. We have been bombarded with messages of hope and told that because we are exceptional, we will come through this year and be better for it at the end. (I’ve no idea what’s been happening on social media. I don’t swim in that pool.) But it all rings hollow to me.

For most of us, the reality of the last year has been quite different. We have been put on furlough, forced to work from home or faced redundancy. We have seen our horizons shrink to the local park and a few square inches of screen. If anybody has been ‘lucky’ enough to have been classed as an essential worker, then they have had to face the risk of infection with no extra reward. We have all had to endure lockdowns and isolations. We all face an uncertain future.

In the meantime, our ‘lords and masters’ have acted according to their stripe. Some have faced the crisis with courage and empathy. Others have denied events until they were directly affected – and even then not necessarily acknowledging the seriousness of the situation. Politicians have declared themselves to represent the common interest, but have decried anybody who dares gainsay them as ‘enemies of the people’ and the ‘liberal elite’.

I’m sorry. I really wanted to write something that was happier and more optimistic, but to do so would have been hypocritical of me. I do not feel that way, and I know that many others do not either. If we do not voice our true feelings, then nothing will ever change. Ultimately, the solution to this lies within ourselves. We have to show compassion for others. We have to look after the vulnerable. We have to support those who have fallen. That is what a society is for. True change comes from the bottom, not from the top.

So, please, if you are reading this, take care of yourselves and those you love. Take whatever joy you can, when you can. And remember, it is perfectly alright to feel bad when the world around you has gone to crap.

Happy New Year. I hope.


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

Why Is Litfic So Unpopular?~~by Akje Majdanek

Let me say it now: there’s nothing wrong with lightweight, quick, easy beach reads. Who wants to read a ponderous tome like War and Peace on the beach? You want something easy to digest.

But there’s a pandemic raging out there right now and no one can go to the beach. Everyone’s complaining that they’re bored out of their minds with plenty of free time lately and nothing to do, and yet litfic still can’t get a break.

This is sad since it’s so good for you. According to Examined Existence, reading literary fiction can:

● increase your empathy
● sharpen your consciousness
● improve your brain
● protect you from Alzheimer’s
● give you insight into society

Reading reportedly increases our neural pathways and offers us mental simulations of events we’d never get to experience otherwise. I know for a fact it increases empathy. If you don’t believe me, then read Lincoln in the Bardo and tell me you didn’t feel sorry for the ghosts by the end.

Odds are you won’t read Lincoln in the Bardo. Whenever someone comes out with another list of the Best Books of All Time or The 1000 Books Everyone Should Read Before They Die, most people have read fewer than twenty. Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan have a hard time competing with Stephanie Meyer and E.L. James. So how come litfic’s so unpopular?

Does anyone even know just what literary fiction is? For the last few days, Bookbub has been advertising an Anna Todd novel as literary fiction.

No, really. I couldn’t make that up.

I think it’s the old belief that literary fiction is any book that focuses on character instead of plot, or any book that can’t be classified under a specific genre. Nope, there’s more to litfic than that.

Firstly, literary fiction isn’t the opposite of genre fiction. Litfic comes in as many genres as commercial fiction. The difference is the depth. Litfic novels should have literary merit, or shall we say “a value as art”. They should have gorgeous prose, heavy themes, and evoke an emotional response. There are no formulas in litfic, no tropes─anything goes, and experimental language or structure is encouraged. Ambiguous endings are common, but the one thing every literary novel should do is tell you something about the human condition and the world we live in. Should litfic novels be entertaining? Of course! But it’s possible to be entertaining and still say something important.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with commercial fiction. In the first place, it sells! Give a book a Pulitzer, Booker or Nobel prize and you can be sure it won’t be read. Commercial fiction is fun to read, usually more plot-based and escapist. Commercial fiction’s rarely as dense or challenging as litfic, and the ending is normally known ahead of time. The detective always figures out who dunnit by the end of a mystery, the hero always gets the girl in a romance novel, and the sheriff has caught the cattle rustlers before the last page of a Western. What’s not to like? There’s a certain comfort in the predictability. If you like one Western, you’re bound to like them all.

A middle road option gaining popularity lately is upmarket fiction, a hybrid of literary and commercial fiction. Upmarket has all the accessibility of commercial fiction, but more depth and unpredictability like literary fiction. Also known as “Book Club Fiction”, it usually has a great hook and a focus on plot and conflict like commercial fiction, but the writing style is more like literary fiction, and it has more of a message than commercial fiction.

Examples of upmarket fiction:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Examples of literary fiction:

White Teeth by Zadie Smith
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Atonement by Ian McEwan
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Examples of commercial fiction:

■ anything by Stephen King
■ anything by Danielle Steele
■ anything by Dan Brown
■ anything by Robyn Carr
■ anything by Patricia Cornwell
■ anything by Kristen Callihan

I don’t know why litfic is so unpopular; I only know it’s damned hard to write. I’ve been trying for years and haven’t succeeded yet. But I’m going to keep trying, and I’m going to keep reading it. Why? Quite frankly, there are relatively few of those 1000 books you need to read that have disappointed me. (ღ˘ᴗ˘ღ) ❣애! ❤


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 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

Cut off at the Needs~~by Mark Huntley-James

Did someone say lockdown? It’s not something we can all get together and talk about, but for writers it has to be one the greatest natural resources of our lifetime, albeit one we’re not supposed to go out and exploit…

In something I’m currently working on, one of my characters has a deliberate catch-phrase – I don’t get out very much. Oddly enough, that was my experience before lockdown. I’m not the most social person, and we live in a rural location, in one of the most sparsely populated parishes (ignoring the sheep), and my main social interaction is driving into town to do the shopping. So lockdown has had very little impact on me, except for the way it has touched everyone else…

So, put your mask on, check you’re not on the at-risk list, and go watch the more social members of our species go to pieces when their world changes.

Quite by chance, not long after Lockdown One started, I happened to be in a supermarket in Plymouth on one of our very rare major outings. I’d seen jokes online about toilet paper shortages, and there it was, for real, right in front of me. It took a moment to sink in that the long aisle that should have been piled high with paper products was completely empty.

I remember a sugar shortage when I was a kid, and likewise a potato shortage, which meant my mother exploring new and exotic things, like pasta and rice. Up until then, pasta was not a word I knew and I had no idea that Heinz Spaghetti Rings were in fact pasta in a tomato sauce, or that rice could be used for anything other than rice pudding. Now, suddenly discovering that we had a toilet roll shortage was a timely reminder of that delightful quote – “Every society is three meals away from chaos”.

(Until I wrote this, I could not have told you that that comes from Vladimir Lenin.)

So, welcome to lockdown, where suddenly no-one can find toilet paper, flour or baking yeast, the scammers come out in force to prey on anyone they can get their claws into, and various high-profile individuals are forced to resign (or not) for breaking the very rules they devised or imposed.

You couldn’t make this stuff up, and even if you did, it would sound insane.

We’re not evolved to wear masks, keep our distance, or live in isolation. So, get your mask on and go watch the upright monkeys in their unnatural habitat, fighting over the last sheet of toilet paper, then you can tone it down to something more believable and write a story.


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

Ages and Stages~~by Christine Larsen

We dream… we plan… we work at bringing our dearest goals to fruition. But as we reach various levels, and ‘plateau’ out to catch our breath, look back and assess our progress, we can find our achievements and outcomes to differ from the original aims. The focus of Life, its dreams and aspirations, changes as the years pass. Looks so simple when you’re young and planning a successful Life with the happiest of endings — but reality is complex. Nothing prepares you for life’s events, or their power to make or break you.

0-10… the formative years, focussed on family love, security and happiness. Pre-school years can be the steepest of our lifetime learning curve, as expanding levels of ability and intellect replace physical helplessness and inexperience. Dreams focus on grandiose ambitions like becoming a princess, or a King… or maybe a firefighter or a film star. Everything is possible and plausible.

10-20… increased scholastic learning for most, as needs of self-esteem, self-worth, self-belief develop, now moving outside the close family circle to encompass friends and workmates… and increasing sexual exploration of love from a partner. Independence from family begins – sometimes with parental blessing, but often involving a deal of turmoil – as the growing teenager fights for freedom, and ‘rights’ – the right to be ‘different’ (from parents and authority figures, but identical to peers and perceived heroes).

20-30… Personal values of honesty, loyalty and respect blossom, weaving freedom with experience to create a more realistic picture of the future. They require unselfishness to build life and home — with partner, then children — along with the need for intense growth of new skills.

30-40… Achieving our physical peak as strength develops to cope with the demands, conflicts and responsibilities of ‘growing’ children, along with the general ebb and flow of Life happenings. Whilst career goals are progressing towards achievement, this can also be a time of losses, of financial downturns causing alterations in the Life plan, as reality strikes yet again. These are hard-working years as we cope with countless demands on our time, energy and skills… the price of being human.

40-50… An introspective time — another level of learning and acceptance of many unimagined situations — rebuilding and reshaping Life’s dreams with potential loss of parents and the need to adjust to being the ‘older generation’. Children leaving home to begin their own lives can open the need to face and accept the ‘empty nest’ syndrome. Time for self-examination; review of past and reassessment of future. Goals can take on a different meaning and direction.

50-60… The focus narrows, becomes more self-centered as assessment and appreciation grow of personal worth and skills. Life’s lessons have taught you increased self-esteem, independence, ability and knowledge with maturity and confidence. Time for deeper investigation and learning of spirituality and of prioritizing the greatest personal satisfactions. A time for finding increased closeness, love and understanding of friends and family as we share Life experiences.

60-80… Despite physical slowing down, this can be the most rewarding of decades. An incredible freedom can exist when the keyword is ‘time’; to sit back, taking stock of the years; exploring buried talents and skills set on the back-burner in the past; appreciating respite from Life’s pressures. A most fulfilling stage, reminiscing and accepting achievements along with the altered plans that didn’t meet anticipations. Every day is a bonus…as golden as you choose.

80+??… Unknown territory… yet!


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

Side Projects~~by John Nedwill

For the last year, I have been involved in a number of projects related to my writing. Like many of the people who read this blog, I’m involved in a number of writing groups – both in the real world and online. One of those groups is the Weekend Write-In on WattPad. The premise behind the Weekend Write-In is simple: every week we write a piece of flash fiction based on a one-word prompt. The group has been going for over six years, and there is a hard core of regulars who, each week, come up with 500-word stories. Like other groups, people come, people go and people stay.

In the late summer of last year, I was approached by one of the new members of the group – a lady from Seattle who goes by the pen name Søvn Drake. She had a simple pitch. “You guys have some really great stories,” she wrote. “Why don’t you start a podcast?”

“A podcast?” I replied. “What would we do in this podcast?”:

“Well, we could get people to record their stories. Then we could put them out so that other people could hear them.”

I remember thinking to myself that this was a really crazy idea. But, it was one worth trying. “Sure,” I wrote back. “Count me in.”

It took the pair of us two months to put together the first podcast. We had to encourage other people to record their stories. Fortunately Søvn can be very persuasive. We had to learn how to record and edit. Fortunately I already had the software to do this. Finally we had to learn how to get our podcast published.

Since then, we have put out 12 podcasts – releasing one on the first Friday of every month. We have developed our techniques, becoming more sophisticated and feeling confident enough to experiment with our format. And, more importantly, we’ve actually got to hear what some of our fellow writers sound like. People who we have known for years through their words, we now know what they sound like and, in some cases, what they look like. We’ve recorded people from Australia to India and many points in-between.

And, you know what? It’s been hard work, but it’s also been fun. And worth it.

To listen to the Weekend Write-In podcast, go to https://weekendwritein.wordpress.com/


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

Out of the Blue~~by Christine Larsen

A much-loved Aussie comedic ballad begins with the words –

‘There’s an old Australian stockman lying, dying…’

and continues with instructions of what to do with his wallabies, cockatoos and koalas, with emphasis on his kangaroos.

A deadly serious true story began in outback West Australia in 1917 when a Kimberley stockman, Jimmy Darcy, suffered massive internal injuries when his trusty horse fell on him during a cattle stampede.

At the nearest settlement, 80 km away, the Halls Creek postmaster was forced to perform surgery, armed with a pen-knife, some morphine and instructions via Morse code from a Doctor Holland, 2,800km away in the capital city of Perth. The only other option was certain death without surgical intervention.

The crude operation took hours of cutting and stitching to repair Darcy’s ruptured bladder, following the doctor’s translated Morse messages. The 29-year old miraculously survived, but in a dangerously weakened condition. To unbalance the odds against his likelihood of survival even further, he now had a malaria attack to contend with.

Meanwhile, Dr. Holland began his gruelling journey from Perth. Following an agonisingly slow voyage on a cattle ship, the next leg forced him to spend almost a week in a Model T Ford, that was mainly held together by leather straps. Aborigines pushing his car across river beds was amongst all manner of setbacks plaguing his trip; like numerous punctures, radiator leaks and engine stutters, to name a few.

Despite the desperation measure of having to use the rubber tubing from the good doctor’s stethoscope to syphon the last petrol from a can at one miserable stage, the gutsy little car finally gave up — still 40 km. distant from Darcy. Dr. Holland was forced to walk, then gratefully ride on horseback through the night, to finally arrive at his destination.

Tragically, Jimmy Darcy had died only a few hours earlier.

Another stalwart of the outback — the man who would forever change the face of medicine in the Australian Bush, the Christian’s Christian, the Reverend John Flynn — was deeply affected by the stockman’s cruel end; yet another victim had succumbed to the tyranny of travelling this vast country. Flynn determined he would find a way to ‘provide a mantle of safety’ for the people of the outback.

He embraced the idea (conceived by another unlikely hero) of delivering medical assistance swiftly by air, and although it would take a decade to come to fruition, in 1927 an aerial medical service was given a ‘try-out’, and in 1928 the first flying ambulance took to the air under instruction from a pedal-powered wireless. The development of this phenomenal facility is partially thanks to Governmental support, but heart-warmingly heavily supported by the charitable donations and hard work of thousands of volunteers, to keep the doctor flying.

Today, in this deeply troubled year of 2020, one bright and shining light is the life-giving and sustaining support provided by the now famous Royal Flying Doctor Service with its fleet of 77 aircraft, including two new PILATUS PC-24 jets that not only halve flying time and travel longer distances than ever, but also have the unbelievable capability of using unsealed runways as short as 800m. These two are known as the emergency wards of our skies. The fleet travels across the area of 7.69 million square kilometres of Australia.

Down here, in our SE corner of South Australia, an RFDS plane lands at one of our airports to speedily transport the sick and injured to and from our capital city of Adelaide (a mere 5 hours by road away), twice a day, every day of the year. It’s the worst, yet best feeling to see that distinctive red-bellied RFDS plane fly overhead. SO sad the need happens, but SO thankful this selfless service exists. There are few in our area who don’t have a story of themselves, family or friends having received life-saving support and deliverance from our beloved flying doctor.

On a daily basis, over 1,000 people nationally are provided with not only emergency services, but also primary health care in such diverse areas as visiting immunisation clinics and GP, nursing and allied health diagnosis and care — from dental services to depression counselling; all stages of maternity care; the list goes on… and on… And the remoteness of countless rural areas is lessened, along with paralysing fear, as relief and joy accompany that first glimpse of the dot in the sky. Way before the quietest hum can be heard, there’s a special comfort… the flying doctor is on his way.


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

Beyond the 2D and Into the World~~by John Nedwill

So, we’ve been in lockdown for many months now. At first we weren’t sure that it was going to happen and then – all of a sudden – it did. We were not allowed to go out, except to go shopping for essential supplies or for an hour of exercise. Bars were closed, as were restaurants, cafés, galleries, cinemas, libraries … Visits to friends and families were no longer possible. We went into a shutdown. But that didn’t mean that we had to stop seeing people.

All of a sudden the media was full of stories about Zoom, Facebook and WhatsApp. We were being bombarded with tales of people being interrupted by their children or their pets, or of businesspeople only being dressed from the waist up. It seemed that the whole world – or at least that part of it that the media was interested in – had gone online. I wasn’t immune to it. My local writing group moved from fortnightly meetings in the upstairs room of a local pub, to weekly meetings via Skype. My reading group kept meeting monthly to discuss (and in my case, denigrate) our chosen books. For a while it was fun. Different. But now … ?

Right now, I long to see other people in the flesh. Far from connecting me, the use of video apps and voice channels helped me feel more isolated from the world. For a few hours I would hear voices of people I know, and then it would be back to the same four walls. It took me a few weeks to realise what it was that I was missing.

So much of our communication is non-verbal. We rely on subtle cues to tell us when somebody has finished speaking or when somebody else thinks they have a point to make. These cues can be as blatant as raising a hand or as subtle as a glance between friends. And then there are the other, more intimate senses. Smell, taste, touch, pressure, warmth. When we are with people, as opposed to just seeing them or hearing them – we get so much more. But, staring into screens, looking at grainy images of compressed video or listening to sidebanded audio channels can only give us so much.

But what does this have to do with writing? Well, when you are describing a character, when you are writing about their interactions with the world, there is more to it than just the words. You need to bring your characters out from the 2D world of the page and surpass the 3D world that claims to be reality. Bring your characters to life. Give them quirks. Insert small gestures into their conversations. Allow the reader to notice things about them. But please – don’t go too far. You don’t want to be thought of as the literary equivalent of William Castle, do you?


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

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myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Wasn’t There, Wasn’t Me~~by Mark Huntley-James

I just got hung up on one of those writing mantras – write what you know – which is tricky when you write about demons and time-travellers. I’ve written about this before, but I’m going to do it again, because once again I wasn’t there, and it wasn’t me, leaving me writing about what I don’t know.
I have been struggling with a scene, which is such a common thing it’s barely worth mentioning. For me, it’s a big problem, but for the rest of the world, such a tiny matter that it’s beneath notice. My anti-heroine is in trouble, deep in the heart of the enemy, with no external help, lots of guards, that sort of thing. I know she gets out of it… but how? And how to do it without breaking the rest of the story.

Whilst I’m figuring it out, there’s other things to do – write about the lambs born over the month, the cat sleeping in one of the hens’ nest boxes, the abrupt transition in the weather from blazing skies and drought to endless, chilly downpour. That stuff is easy, because I’m there, seeing it, experiencing it and writing what I know. I can picture it, even down to the cat sensing what was coming and moving before I could get a photo.
You really can’t beat real life for supplying the whole package – world ready-built, characters established, plot done, humorous hen with wide-eyed look available as an optional extra.

It’s a bit more tricky imagining myself as a manufactured, gender-indeterminate assassin trapped in the palace of a mad emperor exiled to a world outside of time, trying to engineer a coup d’etat in the middle of a brewing civil war. Cornwall just isn’t like that.

Much.

The thing is, years back I wrote a scene concerning a demonically-possessed bus doing a high-speed getaway down a dangerously steep urban street called Race Hill, with high walls to either side, and sweeping oncoming vehicles into the afterlife with dual-beam hellfire. That was easy, because Cornwall really is like that (apart from the demon stuff).

I’ve driven down Race Hill in nearby Launceston, although to be honest, the really narrow sections are one-way, so there was no oncoming traffic, a Volvo estate doesn’t count as a possessed bus, my fictional Race Hill is a smidgen steeper and it heads out of town, not into the centre. Even so, I’ve been there, and it was me driving, and for the bits that weren’t quite right, I borrowed snippets from Summer Hill in Bristol where I grew up, a street that used to have hand-rails in places.

Sitting here, writing this, I can picture Race Hill in my head so easily, although it does morph into that more dangerous and possessed one.
That doesn’t answer the detailed questions over my anti-heroine assassin, but it tells me where to start – I need to be there, to see it all through her (or his – bit indeterminate there) eyes. I actually installed some mind-mapping software, which is just like having a huge whiteboard and an endless supply of post-it notes, that all fits on one laptop screen and doesn’t blow away if the summer ever comes back and I can write outside. Armed with my virtual whiteboard, I could be there, trapped in the palace of a mad emperor, looking for ways out and writing it all down, so that I can relocate it all to somewhere closer to home.

OK, so Cornwall isn’t really like that. Devon, on the other hand…

This palace of the mad emperor, in my head, is not entirely unlike Derriford hospital in Plymouth. OK, not too many exiled emperors there, or guards with orders to shoot on sight, but getting lost there the first time sticks in my mind, because even with the internal maps, those corridors just seem to go on forever, and because it is built on a hillside, the main entrance is on level six, which messed with my head from the start. The important thing is that I was there, it was me, and the experience translates so easily to a world outside of time.

When my anti-heroine finally escapes she probably won’t stop for lunch at the nice Thai Noodle place, but that’s her loss. Perhaps she would if there weren’t a war on.

My writing problem was that I wasn’t there and it wasn’t me, but now that I am there and it is me, everything works so much better, even if there aren’t any prawn crackers to look forward to.

PS My last excursion on this topic lives at https://markhuntleyjames.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/am-i-there-yet/


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

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:

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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