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

How Now, Kowtow? ~~ by Christine Larsen

How Now, Kowtow? ~~ by Christine Larsen

There’s a new kid on the block. He goes by the name of C.W. Writing [C.W.? Ahh, glad you asked. That’s Cringe Worthy]  He’s your basically wimpy little squirt, always blaming someone else for his shortcomings. Cringe moans and groans and spends half his life looking back over his shoulder, filled with regrets and remorse for his lack of skills, knowledge, finesse, whatever… peering way back in his personal evolution from a scribbler to a storyteller as if with a high-powered telescope.

Does he not recognise the insult he inflicts on his tender, vulnerable self of yesterday with his judgmental and negative thinking? How much his inner child suffers from his harsh rejection of his beginnings?

And you have to wonder – does he scrutinise his first words [maybe Ma-ma or Da-da], his first teetering stand-up, his first stumbling steps, with the same unforgiving attitude? And those earliest stick figure family portraits. They continued on for some time. What about them? And that eternal Sun shining in the top corner of every priceless piece of art, even when it rained? And has he forgotten the first Mother’s Day card he made with ultimate concentration [and tongue sticking out the side of his mouth]? The one painstakingly drawn on a page torn out of his brand new writing book? Maybe he doesn’t remember it, but his Mum surely did. That was the first of a long line his Mum hung with pride on her fridge door. Stayed there for the whole rest of the year… guessing he doesn’t remember that, either.

Failure? How can he believe his earlier, stumbling,  ungrammatical, typo and spelling error-filled attempts were failures? How can he underestimate the massive learning curve he embarked upon all those words ago when first he picked up a pencil? How else should he have learned his skills of today?  Did he never heed the famous words of Robert F. Kennedy – “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

Maybe all those loving family, friends who heaped so much longed-for praise upon his passionate efforts were white-lying because of their love and/or admiration, or simply a dear wish to encourage and a desire not to squash a budding talent. If this helped Cringe to reach the level of expertise he enjoys today, does yesterday’s questionable acclaim matter?

Does Cringe ever take a moment to recognise and take pride in the monumental progress he’s made? It surely doesn’t sound that way when you hear him express gratitude his earliest ‘stuff’ is lost somewhere, way back; or the wish to burn early efforts or flush them away. How daunting to find some words are out there somewhere, in print maybe, or part of a recorded interview gathering dust on some back shelf. He believes none of these count? Really?

Ohh dear, Cringe, my friend. Those first faltering steps along your wordy journey launched all that you are today. They deserve celebration, not condemnation. The dream of admiration and notoriety [even a dash of filthy richness?] was the catalyst to bring you to today’s hopeful recognition that in the final analysis, you write for you and only you. And then wrote it all down for others to see and weep over… or not?

Do yourself a favour, Cringe. Next time you embark upon a writing reminiscence, make sure the main part of that vision of yesteryear features the irresistible buzz that walked hand-in-hand with your enthusiasm. And the passion that lit a fire in your belly to create whatever poured out of your heart and head; the belief an untapped genius had arrived… to be unleashed upon a gasping, wondrous world.

Be honest, Cringe. Felt good, huh? In those halcyon days, there were no recriminations… only blood, sweat and tears as you strived to learn more; to be more enough for your own self. And that’s no shabby ambition. Ever.


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, AuthorIMG_7208

 – 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

 

 

Voting and Women

Voting and Women

I planned on writing this week’s blog and wanted to highlight a new One Million Project book about a woman who made an impact for women in the UK fighting for the right to vote.  It seems only fitting to highlight the historic strides women have just achieved in the US one hundred years after Frances Connelly walked into a polling station in the UK and cast her vote in defiance of the existing laws. 

In the United States midterm elections this November, many records have been broken by women candidates.  The largest numbers on record for women candidates for governor, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate were set during 2018.  Ninety women have been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives which includes some historic firsts.

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. In Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn became the state’s first female Senator. The first Native American women to be elected to Congress were Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids. And for the first time, South Dakota has a woman as governor, Kristi Noem. Kyrsten Sinema became not only the first female senator from Arizona but also the first open bi-sexual elected, and Ayanna Pressley became the first black Congresswoman from Massachusetts. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman to be elected to the Congress at the age of 29.

New Zealand was the first country to allow women to vote in 1893, but seventy-two years after the Women’s Suffrage began, the United States finally allowed women to vote in 1920, after the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.  This wasn’t always the case in the US. When the Thirteen Colonies fought for independence, the rights of women to vote in the Colonies began being revoked beginning in New York state in 1777. 

 

The struggle for women’s voting rights, or Women’s suffrage as it was known, had begun. In 1848 the first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. Elizabeth Cady Stanton proposed Women’s suffrage, and it was agreed to after the group heard Frederick Douglass’ speak. 

Scottish author, Sheena Macleod and author Laura Linham have written a book about the first woman, Frances Connelly, to vote in an election in the UK before voting rights for women in that country were granted. 

The following description is from the Amazon site for “So, You Say I Can’t Vote!:  Frances Connelly: The working-class woman’s route to the vote”

Women were granted the legal right to vote in Parliamentary elections in the UK in 1918. This right, however, extended only to property-owning, renting or university educated women over the age of thirty.
Seven years before this, Frances Connelly, a working woman walked past suffragists protesting outside the polling station in Yeovil, England, to cast her vote in an election. Her vote, and others like it, helped to keep the question in people’s minds — If one woman can vote, why not all?
Frances Connelly’s name is now largely unknown or forgotten. Her story is told here within the context of other women who voted in England before 1918, the struggles and complexities of the times in which these people lived and the contributions made by working-class women to women’s suffrage.

Order “So, You Say I Can’t Vote!: Frances Connelly: The working-class woman’s route to the vote”

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

 

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