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

Praise to Raise~~Christine Larsen

Dear Mum,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’

… thanks to you!

Love always,

Christine


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

To find out more about Christine and her work:
ceedee moodling (Christine’s website)
Christine Larsen, Author


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

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

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

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Head Elsewhere~~Mark Huntley-James

Wherever I am, my head is often elsewhere – a book I’m reading, a film I’ve just watched, and most often completely else, strolling through a story I might try to write. Pay attention, watch what you’re doing, keep your eyes peeled… sorry, no-one in at the moment, please leave a message after the daydream.

This particular train of thought started when I was digging a hole – not metaphorically, but literally, with a spade, moving dirt from A to B, flat ground transformed to lump and matching dip. The aim of the hole digging was planting a tree, but for most of the time my head was elsewhere – not entirely healthy with a sharp-edged tool so close to my toes, and at some point it occurred to me that not only was my attention elsewhere but that this is almost my default state. Doing the laundry, loading the dishwasher, brushing my teeth, or planting a few hundred meters of hedgerow – it doesn’t matter where I am, it’s where my head is that matters.

I am never really alone when my head is elsewhere. Whole worlds open up, wondrous characters drop by for a chat or, on a bad day, the most fantastical bore leans on the door frame to talk me into hell. I could go back to reality, but seriously, is that any better? And what might I miss if I do come back early? Even a fantastical bore has a place in a story, perhaps even a central place depending on the tale. It’s tempting to think that head elsewhere is an essential mindset for being an author, although my suspicion is more that I am an author because my head so readily tours elsewhere.

However, I am not alone in being not alone when I’m on my own… Let me rephrase: I am convinced that I have known similar people over the years. There is a certain look and feel to them – the lights are on, someone is in, but you don’t knock on the door because you just know they are in conference with the aliens, translating Mum’s recipes from the original goblin, or disposing of a body (and there’s always room for a second one). This is only speculation, mind you, because I’ve never dared approach one of these potentially kindred voyagers and pop the question: excuse me, but is that your head, or is it elsewhere?

It’s tempting to think of the strange virtual world of the web as being elsewhere, but it’s not. Online is a different group reality, full of social communities or wild groups shouting at each other in ferocious arguments safe in the knowledge that they don’t have to look each other in the eye. Roving elsewhere, on the other hand, is a solitary exploration, no matter how densely populated elsewhere might be.

The thing about elsewhere is that it’s my fake reality. I like it there and I don’t take guests. Being an author means I that might then write about the places my head has been, either carefully sanitised (cleaned for general consumption and the really nutty bits removed) or in toe-curling detail because I feel like it and want to see eyes go wide, but whether I report it light or heavy no-one ever sees the full scope of my journey.

A few years back, on a drive home from Plymouth, in the dark (my wife was driving) I had an idea. It wasn’t much, but night driving needs concentration and, with no conversation, my head went elsewhere. I kicked the idea around, decided that it was growing on me, and wrote a story, told it to myself while I was elsewhere, edited it in my head, told it again, ran it by a receptive hedgerow. The trouble with having your head elsewhere is that even the worst drivel can sound good, but the next day I wrote it down as well as I could recall, toned down the crazy, changed the names to protect the insolent and won first place in a writing competition. Yay for me, but don’t think for one moment that the published story is really what happened when my head went wandering. It just wrote the bits that made a good story, edited for decency and skipping over the dull bits, and leaving out the embarrassing conversation with… Never mind. That’s for another story.

It’s a private business being elsewhere, full of technicolour wonder and companionship, so absorbing you can get lost for hours, only summoned back by those unstoppable forces of nature such as that cry in the distance the cat is eating your lunch, or the old-fashioned dial-up line back to reality that sends the occasional alert such as spade incoming, move your foot now.

Elsewhere. You can’t beat it, and there is so much to see. You ought to at least visit, perhaps get a season pass, and explore the boundless oddities. If you’ve got a minute I could give you some pointers to the best sights…

Sorry. Have to go. Reality calling. It’s time to put the chickens away.

My head will probably be in some other elsewhere by the time I get back. Maybe see you there. A more interesting you, of course, but that’s the nature of elsewhere.


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

The Words No One Wants to Hear

The Words No One Wants to Hear

If you ask almost anyone what is the one thing you don’t want as your diagnosis, a large percentage will say, “Cancer.” In the hospital, we simply referred to it as ‘CA’. Over the years, I’ve watched patients deal with their new diagnosis or the return of the dreaded disease in another part of their body just when they believed they’d won the fight.

It is a fight. A battle against mutated cells generated in our own bodies that overpower our immune systems and sometimes even destroying the body’s ability to build the white blood cells needed to combat diseases. It can hitch a ride using our bloodstream or lymphatic system to travel throughout our bodies.

It is a terrible enemy without mercy attacking young and old alike. I hate cancer. I want to see it made as innocuous as polio is now.

My family has — and is — dealing with cancer. And wouldn’t you think having been a nurse for over 30 years, I’d be immune to its ability to wound my heart and soul. The answer is no. Even in the hospital setting, I remember heading to the bathroom, running water and flushing the toilet repeatedly to hide my sobs when I couldn’t deal with the hurt and pain I’d witnessed moments before.

I’m old enough to remember when people would whisper the word ‘cancer’ as if saying it aloud may bring bad luck. Back in the mid-twentieth century, it was often a death sentence. Today, modern advances in treatments and surgical procedures have reduced mortality rates for many forms of cancer.

It is a good feeling to personally know so many long-term survivors of breast cancer and other cancers among my family and friends. I can only pray I would be as strong and appear as fearless as my loved ones if I would be diagnosed with CA.

This is why I support the One Million Project’s efforts to raise money for Cancer Research UK (CRUK).  Their research has aided in helping develop treatments such as immunotherapy to specifically target cancer cells throughout the body and reduce the ill effects other types of cancer treatments have had on surrounding healthy cells during the treatment process.


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

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

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

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

https://www.katemcginn.com/