A Hidden World ~~ by John Nedwill

A Hidden World ~~ by John Nedwill

I’m not writing a novel, and you don’t have to either.

This may sound strange coming from a writer, but it makes sense. You see, these days there is a perception that successful authors only ever write novels; and whatever genre it is you are writing in, your novel should be as long as you can make it. It’s even better if your novel is part of a series. After all, if you look at the shelves of your local bookshop – and if it’s anything like mine! – you see row upon row of thick volumes facing you. And a lot of these books are not stand-alone stories.

However, there is a hidden world of short stories out there. Many famous authors – both past and present – have written short stories or essays, and published them in magazines or collected them in anthologies. A quick browse of the shelves in my local bookshop turns up George Orwell, Charles Stross, Walter M Miller and many others. There are also collections of short stories based around different themes and genres. Stepping out of the world of published books, there is a thriving culture of magazines – electronic and print – where short stories are welcomed and celebrated.

Short stories are everywhere!

I’m not ragging on novels or the people who write them – far from it! I love to settle down with a good book and lose myself within its pages. But I also love to dip into collections of short stories, with their glimpses of imaginary worlds and fantastic situations. You see, not everyone is suited to writing stories of 50,000 words or more. Not every plot can or should be spun out to meet some arbitrary target. Nobody – especially not a writer starting out on their chosen path – should feel pressured to write a novel.

Writing should be a pleasure. Enjoy being creative, no matter what you write.


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 Good Idea ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

A Good Idea ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

I have a head full of good ideas, or at least they look superb provided they stay in my head.  It’s like when we have to take our huge fluffy cat to the vet for his recurring eye problem – in the controlled environment there, he stays still, perhaps purrs, and eye-drops go in.  Away from the vet, in the wilds of our kitchen, he wriggles, wails and scratches, defying the firm embrace of a towel and ensures that most of the eye-drops land on the floor, in his ear, in my eye… anywhere except where they are supposed to go.

Good ideas are just like that from the moment I let them out of my head.  In fact, even the rubbish ideas do the same.  The moment I want to wrap words around them, the ideas wriggle, bite and scratch so that what comes out is nothing like that perfect, purring super-good idea that was in my head.

So, what’s the problem? Was the idea faulty, or just the words I dressed it in?  And why did I ask the question the wrong way round? The fault, dear Reader, is not in my ideas, but in my writing.

You know, I’m sure I’ve heard something like that before. Never mind. Back to The Idea…

The good (or even great) idea is an illusion. Hold up a great idea to a mirror and see its reflection, the equally mythical original idea.

How about this one? Girl meets boy, their families disapprove, everyone dies.  I can see it in my head.  The killer line – Romeo, Romeo, where’s your damned hashtag?  Are people going to be still quoting me in four hundred years, or is my work destined to be composted at the bottom of the slush-pile from hell? Perhaps if I come up with a killer name for the girl, it will work, and maybe throw in a really posh location to draw in the audience – that might make it a winner. I’m thinking Helen sounds good, and I’ll set it in a great ancient city, something like Troy… then the family disapproval, a big war, and everyone dies…

Once you start poking at it, people have been telling stories for thousands of years with a basic plan of boy meets girl… and everyone dies. Or hero goes out, slays the monster and marries the girl. Or… well, there’s a good catalogue of great ideas that storytellers have been taking and recycling over the centuries. Ooh, no wait, what about pauper child turns out to be the rightful king…

It’s not the idea that matters, but the words. That’s the real point of being a writer – finding the right words to wrap an idea and make it ready to face the world, fresh and bright, new and interesting enough that people will be amazed at what you can do with boy meets girl and they work together to create mass slaughter.

The great idea that looked so good in my head is really an expertly photo-shopped super-model, and the trick is to get it out and ready for the world, new clothes, new style, strutting its stuff down the literary catwalk.

Forget the great idea – go stitch your words into a great presentation.


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

 

Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Took ages to find him. I’d ask at writer’s conferences, libraries, weird old book-stores. Searched online. Most said Thoth quit, he’d died, never existed. Or sold out to Amazon, was running a bed-and-breakfast in Thebes. I gave up. One more god crossed off the list.

Then at a bus stop I notice this bag lady reading ‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’. I don’t usually talk to strangers, but that book? It’s like the first fantasy novel game-manual. We chatted, she dropped a few crazy hints, then trundled her shopping cart away. The wheels squeaked like harpies giggling.

So I found the god of writing. In New York, in the alley back of the Random House offices. I don’t think that was irony. The spot happened to be sheltered from the wind, with a good steam-vent and dumpsters stuffed with slush-pile rejects you could read or toss into the trash-barrel flames. Pretty sure one of those manuscripts was mine. I always print my submissions on ivory paper; expensive but gives the MSS an old-scroll feel. Not that editors even send a reject email. Snobs.

Thoth was a tall guy in a couple of coats, a ragged hoody, long beak of a nose sticking out. He wasn’t alone. Fellow homeless stood around, warming hands, debating the worth of what they found in random pages of manuscripts before tossing them to the fire. A lady wearing ten sweaters hummed in Greek; she might have been Thalia, Muse of Poetry. But mortal or deity, we stood together staring into the flames, listening to city sounds: sirens and cars, trains, planes and the eternal wind.

At length I asked Thoth: how did it all begin? Not what was the first story; but why had some lunatic made up that first tale? He took his time answering. As the gods do, when they answer at all. At last he spoke, in whisper low and sing-song as the wind.

“It began just like this. A circle of lonely eyes staring into flames. Hunger in the belly, fears for the dark beyond firelight’s edge. A circle of survivors who saw no story in life but this: eat till you are eaten. And then, and then… some conjunction of thought and sound and heartbeat came. I remember far-off a wolf howled, while fire-wood shifted, sending sparks to the stars. And a sick child coughed. And some man or woman began talking to the flames. Someone who felt suddenly filled with wonder, yet drowning in worry. Wonder for the joy that is this life, and worry for the sick child. Who’d feed them, fend away the wild dogs? And when it became their own turn to be sick, to fall behind in the hunt? What then?

“And so the first story came. Words out the mouth. With plenty of hand gestures, I recall. I forget the tale itself. Some tangle about a forest, a spear and a monster that could only be defeated by a tribe working together. A hunter, a farmer, a pot-maker, and a funny dog who kept stealing the scenes. A mess that needed blessing from the Muse of Editing. It seemed an absurd waste of breath to those practical survivors about the fire. And yet… the idea stuck. Caught, as fire does. They had a vision of a united tribe, caring for one another. Life as a tale finding meaning not in surviving, but in helping to live.

“You ask what was the seed of that first tale? Caring. At least concern. But give credit to the dancing flames, the circling dark and the wolf-howl wind. Most of all to the heart’s cry that life must be more than sparks rising, vanishing, gone.”

I stood there silent, weighing Thoth’s words. Not the first time someone has claimed the origin of storytelling is in the heart’s tangles, not the brain’s wrinkles. Nor that the highest stories turn our heads from the pages, to look at one another with new eyes, with opened minds. Bit old fashioned, I suppose. I’d expected something more grim-dark, but perhaps that’s a style for a darker age.

I was just about to ask the God of Literature if he’d review my new work-in-progress but the cops came, blowing whistles. They put out the trash-barrel fire. Arrested the Muse for being an illegal, confiscated my manuscript though I explained it hadn’t even had a chance to be tossed to the trash yet. My third tazing over a review this year. The rest scattered. Haven’t seen Thoth since.

But I like to think he has a high opinion of the One Million Project.


OMP Admin Note: Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas. A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.


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 Writer’s Wish List ~~ by John Nedwill

A Writer’s Wish List ~~ by John Nedwill

“Ho ho ho ho, little boy! And what’s your name?”

“John. John Nedwill, Santa, sir.”

“Hmm. Let me just check my list. Ah – there you are! I see there are some black marks against your name – “

“Oh.”

“- But there are also some good marks. Enough to put you on the ‘nice’ half of my list. So, what would you like for Christmas, John?”

“Ooh – I’ve got my list here. Can we go through it?”

“It looks like a long list, and you haven’t been that nice. But, we’ll see what we can do.”

“Alright. First of all, I’d like a new pen – one with a nice, broad nib that makes my handwriting look neat.”

“That’s a worthy thing for a writer. Go on.”

“And then I’d like some ink. Some really black ink.”

“That will be for the pen? Would you prefer cartridges or a bottle?”

“Bottle please. I’l like a notebook as well. One with good paper that the ink won’t bleed through.”

“Of course. But don’t you want a new tablet or a shiny new laptop? Lots of writers want one of those.”

“Never for first drafts. Next … Some whiskey please.”

“With an ‘e’, I note. You can have it, but only if you can prove you’re over twenty-one.”

“Are you kidding? My beard’s almost as bushy and as white as yours. And could I have some inspiration as well?”

“Hmm. I might have some lying around. But you’ll have to wait for it.”

“Last thing on my list – could you get me an agent? Please?”

“Ho ho ho – no! Remember what I said about only being so good?”

“Maybe next year, then?”

“Maybe. Now, off you go John. Merry Christmas!”

“Thank you, Santa! Merry Christmas to you!”

“Now, who’s next?”


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

The Beauty Is In the Eye of the Author ~~ by Nera Hart

The Beauty Is In the Eye of the Author ~~ by Nera Hart

Everyone knows that thing that authors often say, you know, the one about how much harder it is to write when you start to realise how much work goes into the little technicalities, besides simply telling a story?

Yes, that thing. It is true, by the way. The more I know about writing the harder I find writing.

I have to edit, edit and edit again. And I always worry that when someone, who knows these things, reads my finished work they’ll think I haven’t edited it at all.

The commas, the cheesy words, or worn out phrases, the overuse of certain words, colons, hyphens, or not indenting the first sentences of your paragraphs…

Phew, I’ve got a headache writing these and that’s not even scratching the surface.

But, today it just dawned on me after moaning about all this to another writer, that yes, it is so much harder to write when you’ve learned about all the things that can go wrong for your work, but… I can also hear the beautiful monologues, dialogues, and narratives everywhere!!!

I can appreciate good discussion points, statements, freakouts or conversations of love anywhere and everywhere I hear them. Whether it is on TV or during the conversations  I overhear outside my children’s school or in some well-written dramas, some sentences are so beautiful it brings me nearly to tears!

And, this is without what I’m reading.

The world of words, as hard as it is, is also absolutely jam-packed with beauty, and we, my distinguished colleagues, are so lucky to have the knowledge to appreciate it.

Let’s bring out the beautiful. It is what we do, after all.


Nera Hart is writing poetry, short fiction and in a process of writing her first crime fiction novel.

She writes in two languages, English and Croatian, and image1her ambition is to translate the classic Croatian novels into the English language.

Nera became involved in The One Million Project recently.

Nera runs a Facebook group ‘Quills And Parchments’, in which book lovers and authors socialise.

You can find Nera and her work at:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1778050345825324

https://my.w.tt/2Jb4T1zLzL

Twitter- @nerahart

 

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

 

Scars by K.V. Wilson

Scars by K.V. Wilson

Abby’s dark bangs scattered as she glanced over her shoulder, scanning the market for the source of the voice.

“Is this yours?” it persisted. An elderly man emerged from the crowd. In one hand, he cradled a shiny cerulean item.

“Oh, ye—” Abby’s voice broke as she glimpsed the state of her mother’s gift.

“My wife saw it fall from your bag. I didn’t think I could catch you—you’re so fast!” he panted, clutching at his side with his free hand.

Abby had eyes only for the bowl. It had split into three—no, four!—pieces.

Tears collected at the corners of her eyes and she reached up a sleeve to blot them away.

The bowl was blue and mottled like a robin’s egg. When Abby had first glimpsed the vessel, she knew she had to have it. She had saved up the lunch money her father had given her—every day that month—to finally purchase the little vessel for her mother’s birthday. Her mother was still in the hospital and had been for months. Abby hoped the bowl would cheer her up.

“Are you alright, child?”

She shook her head. “Thank you, but it’s nothing now.”

The elderly man squatted in front of her. She recognized his features, she realized: cropped dark hair, kindly eyes and small, ovular glasses. He was usually the one at the tiny shop offering the sesame balls and other treats.

Her mother – who was half-Japanese – adored the sweet desserts. She used to bring them home for Abby and her father—rewards for a long day at work and, in Abby’s case, middle school.

The man smiled kindly. “You’re one of Hina’s daughters.” It wasn’t a question.

Abby nodded. “It was for her. The bowl,” she choked out.

“I have something to show you. I think you’ll like it.”

Abby gazed up at the elderly man. A sparkle twinkled in his eye, causing her curiosity to pique. “I really don’t have money,” she admitted, “or else I would’ve bought all your desserts like mom used to.”

The elderly man chuckled. “It’s been a while since we’ve spoken, your mother and me.”

“She’s…in hospital.” Abby stared at the ground as she followed the old vendor. She didn’t know why she was following him. Perhaps it was because she had nothing else to do now that she had to come home empty-handed on her mother’s birthday. Perhaps it was because she wanted to know what the elderly man wanted to show her. She hoped he had good intentions. The summer street market was bustling with customers and tourists, however; if she had to, she would cry out.

“Your father told me a few months ago. I am sorry, Abby. I wish her a safe recovery.”

“Thanks,” she mumbled, too quietly for him to hear.

“You’ll have to wait here for a few minutes. My wife isn’t as spry as she used to be.” He chuckled again.

Abby glanced at him in confusion but he was already disappearing into the shop. She turned and smiled as she watched the lanterns bobbing in the breeze.

After a few minutes, the man’s wife emerged from the back of the shop, a small bottle of what looked like paint in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. She passed it to her husband as he came up beside her.

“May I?” the elderly gentleman asked, indicating the shards of blue porcelain.

Abby’s brows furrowed but she nodded. The man popped the lid of the paint bottle and dipped the brush in. He coated one edge of the broken bowl with an ample coat of paint and then pressed it onto its companion. He repeated this with the other portions.

“Kintsugi, they call it, Abby.”

He held up the completed bowl. Webs of intercrossed golden paint held together the pieces of porcelain.

“An old Japanese tradition. The art of precious scars.”

“I have something, too,” the vendor’s wife added, and before Abby could reply, she’d disappeared into the shop again.

The gentleman excused himself to help a customer. Abby used this time to examine the bowl. It was still beautiful, she realized, despite the fact that it was broken. The gold lacing was rather pretty.

And then the man was back at Abby’s side, gently testing the paint with his thumb. “It needs a bit longer to dry, but you must have to go soon.”

“Yeah.”

“You’ll need this, too. Put it in when the paint’s dry.” The elderly woman smiled, handing Abby a paper bag. “Tell Hina happy birthday from us.”

Abby beamed. “I will,” she said, peering inside. To her delight, the bag contained four sesame balls. “But I don’t have anything to give—”

“There’s no need. And look,” the old woman said gently, pointing at a vase in the window of the shop. From its mouth sprouted a couple of white lily buds, their stems intertwined.

As she took a step closer, Abby realized the vase was decorated with the same lines of golden paint, delicately applied so as to prolong the vessel’s life.

The gentleman said softly, “People are like this vase and bowl. They are delicate, but they are strong. Your mother will recover, especially when she has you and your father by her side.”

Abby left with the porcelain bowl and the paper bag. She couldn’t help but compare her family to the repaired bowl. By remaining together, they could conquer anything.


OMP Admin Note:  K.V. Wilson is a fantasy author obsessedkvwilson with mythology and culture. Born in Alberta, she currently lives in British Columbia, Canada, where she spends her spare time playing the piano, hiking, songwriting, and reading and writing stories. She is honoured to be a part of the One Million Project as an author and editor.

 

Website: http://www.kvwilsonauthor.ca/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spirits.kvwilson/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16644289.K_V_Wilson
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/kv_wilson

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/K.V.-Wilson/e/B06XVZ3VPK/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

DEEP WATERS ~~ thoughts on my writing: its failings, its purpose, its promise ~~ by Melissa Volker

DEEP WATERS ~~ thoughts on my writing: its failings, its purpose, its promise ~~ by Melissa Volker

My published collection of short stories was born of a time in my early adulthood in Manhattan where I was single, sometimes lonely, always rebellious and beholden to no one but myself. My plummet into depths or lift into heights affected no one but me, and my desire to connect with the human condition in all its glory and despair led to much of both.

I yearned for intense understanding of what it is to be, to love — to love too hard or not enough — to long for more or wish for nothing, to see the world and those moving through it with x-ray empathy right into their core. It was simple (save for the sometimes crushing lows) for me to be raw, vulnerable, tough, crass, essentially with emotional and spiritual impunity because I was young, life an adventure more than reality, and mortality little more than fiction — or at least, an enemy to dare.

I look at portions of my recent writing and stare at pages full of blatant gaps and accusatory holes; it is often just skimming the surface of what I really mean, where I intended to go. It might be rich in language, moving and full of a certain truth, but it does not take the daring, unabashed leap into the brutal honesty that would make it…devastating. Enlightening. Real.

The words are there — purposeful, melodic, weighted with intent, but they are merely bobbers on the surface of a deep pool. They are fallen leaves of autumn in the current of a river — vibrant, lovely, slipping and spinning, carrying you away to an uncertain destination, the rush and momentum intoxicating…

But what about all that cool, dark water beneath where it is all plays of light and shadow, blades of sunlight slicing into its murky depth with selective illumination that create corresponding pillars of darkness.

That’s where I must go. To the pebbles and rocks on the bottom that cut your feet or sparkle in shafts of sunlight — to flip them over and reveal the multitude of life, death, and breathtaking beauty. I must dive down and cut my flesh on the sharp edges, releasing my blood into the water, or gather the bits of mica and pyrite hidden in the darkness and bring them to where their glitter reflects that of the sun on the ripples of the surface.

The leaves are lovely and bring melancholy contentment, troubled uncertainty, or simple peace, but they are not — all of it.

I must reach All Of It for the words to say what I mean.

Plumb the bottom where it’s dirty — where too much movement stirs up the silt and makes the water murky, thick, suffocating.

If I’m not reaching there, if I’m hovering only just beneath the surface, why is that?

Because life has changed and to delve into those waters requires a fearlessness that has waned.

Those truths are too possible — those pains, that loss, the trauma, that…death.

I am older, with a more complex life — one I am acutely aware could be damaged, maimed, gone even, in no more than a breath because the truth of life is that nothing is guaranteed.

So I cannot dive with fearlessness because I am fearful.

I know now that some wounds never heal. Some pain is too acute. Mortality is no longer a fiction.

Nothing is hypothetical, imaginative, speculative — they are all very possible realities. And to write them, to explore them through fictional lives with any semblance of genuine truth and honesty — with raw realness — I must experience them. Not in the living world — in the imaginative one. But if I do it with commitment (which I must for it to matter), it feels no different.

But there are nightmares there. Fodder for an anxious mind and sensitive heart.

And yet, it is also what has always, always driven the best words to the paper.

What has driven me to the paper.

I am reminded of the definition of courage: it is not acting without fear.

Courage is being afraid — and doing it anyway.

And when I have courage — I am a writer.

When I do not — I merely pretend.

So I look for courage — and I dive.


OMP Admin Note:  Melissa Volker is a writer and OMP Network member.  Melissa is one of our guest bloggers for the One Million Project website.

To learn more about Melissa and her work:

www.melissavolker.com

Twitter: @melvolker

Facebook: @mvolkerwordphoto

New Contemporary, surreal YA “How the Light gets In” out now!


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