“The Social Network” ~~ by John Nedwill

“The Social Network” ~~ by John Nedwill

Writing is meant to be a lonely thing, isn’t it? After all, the popular image of the writer is that of a solitary figure, closeted away in some garret or study, committing their thoughts to paper. And the actual act of writing is something that is done somewhere quiet, away from people, all the better for the thoughts to flow uninterrupted.

Well, it’s not. Not for me, anyway.

I belong to a number of writing groups. Most of them are virtual affairs, based around message boards, with the members posting online to exchange views and offer each other encouragement. There is always a bit of chatter going on, with the conversations taking place over days or weeks. The nature of the internet means that the members of these online groups are scattered across the world, and they come on at various times of the day. I have made some good friends in these groups.

However, the group that I love best is my local writing group. It is a group of about a dozen members, although we rarely get everybody turning up at the same time. We meet twice a month in the function room of a local pub. The agenda for most meetings is the same: everybody gathers in the bar downstairs for a quick drink, then we go upstairs to start our meeting. We talk about the events of the last fortnight, share our news – good and bad – and then settle down to the evening’s business. Usually, this is a talk from one of the members on a subject of interest, sometimes it is a talk from a local author or a workshop. But this isn’t what is important to us. What is important to us is the companionship.

Writers are not antisocial. We like to talk to other people with the same interests. We like to share our experiences. Most of all, we want to be with people who are like us, who understand what it means to set pen to paper and create stories. And, while online groups are good and have their place, there is nothing quite like getting to know our fellow writers in person – and there is nothing like sitting around a table, talking with friends.

So, if there is a writing group local to you, are you an active member? Do you go along and share your thoughts with other writers? Or, if there isn’t a writing group nearby, have you thought about starting one? You never know who you might meet.


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

“Grammar, What Big Teeth You Have” ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

“Grammar, What Big Teeth You Have” ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

Grammar rules, OK.

Breakages will be reported, criticised and condemned.

I never learned much in the way of English grammar.  Plenty of French, Latin and Greek, but very little English.  I’ve largely forgotten the former three, and now I just struggle with my native tongue and frankly the natives can get pretty damned restless if not outright hostile.  For some reason, there are two things which bring out the tyrants, the complainers, the rabid proselytisers – grammar and spelling.

When I was a kid I was frequently told that there was no such word as ‘can’t’.  Not even finding a suitably recent and liberal dictionary containing the fabulous ‘can’t’ could put an end to the assertion.  There simply was no such word, no matter how many people used it, in speech and print.  Now roll on a few years, to my teens, and those immortal words: to boldly go where no man has gone before.  I don’t care that everywhere they went there were clearly people who had arrived earlier, it was the split-infinitive that troubled me.

Or, strictly speaking, failed to trouble me.  I like to boldly go.  I try to imagine that opening as the grammarians might have it – to go boldly – and I can see myself switching channels.  And back when I first encountered all that bold adventure, there was no remote on the TV so I would have had to have got out of the chair…

The trouble with grammar is the collision, with resultant debris, between a pattern of rules and the fluid reality of people communicating.  People like rules, like patterns and, as someone who once earned a living as a scientist, I like rules and patterns, but language does not follow grammar, grammar is the attempt to slap rules on later.  The one size fits all garment that inevitably sags or pinches.

In the dim and distant past, I learned about verbs – regular verbs and irregular verbs, the ones that follow the rule, and then all the special cases for the ones that don’t.  The very terminology is misleading because the regular verbs are the ones that barely get used.  The irregular verbs have been ground down, knocked about and generally dented by frequent exercise, constant use and regular abuse.

And so the language changes.  Language is like that – words, phrases and grammar of my parents’ generation often seem a bit stilted, and my grandparents’ generation… well that’s some foreign language that sounds close to English.

The trouble is that language changes as if change is the only thing that matters, a crazy race to be somewhere else, whilst those grammatical rules are slow to adapt.  The rules, by my crude and unsubstantiated estimate, describe the language at a time somewhere between my grandparents and my parents and, like me, are a bit too padded around the waist and likely to get out of breath if they have to run too hard to catch up.

I don’t dislike grammar – it’s just a set of rules best treated as guidelines (to borrow from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean). Grammar doesn’t define language, it’s a report done later to explain what happened, to hide the uncomfortable bits, to bring the erratic into line. Forget Disney, let’s borrow from the legal world – the rules of grammar are simply sentencing guidelines. And remember that if you deviate too far from those guidelines there will be complaints, protests and appeals to a higher authority that the sentence is wrong and ought to be corrected. There is no deeper sin, except to fail to get the spelling rite.

Those who treat grammar carelessly, who choose to explore beyond and to boldly go where no writer has writ before, they must expect to be hounded mercilessly. If you do it right, and well, then applause and acclaim await, but pick poorly and you are off to literary obscurity.

There’s a quote I like, attributed to Pablo Picasso (but possibly falsely), that I’ve seen doing the rounds on social media lately –  Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

Syntax, anyone?


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.

Huntley-James 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 https://markhuntleyjames.wordpress.com/, 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

 

 

 

Making a Difference ~~ by Sebnem Sanders

Making a Difference ~~ by Sebnem Sanders

In the wayward, icy wind, blowing the city fumes in all directions, Miss Plenty tucked in the errant locks that had escaped from her wool cap and pulled it tightly over her ears.  Warming her freezing hands, framed in fingerless gloves over the heat of the fire, she scrutinized Mr. Nothing. “I see a pensive look in your eyes. What’s up?”

“Sometimes, my thoughts drift to the past, but what’s done is done.”

“This is our reality. Your memories belong to a life that is no longer yours. Or one you left behind for your own reasons. No point in slipping back into something that’s gone.”

“I know. Still, acceptance or not being acceptable bugs me.”

“Acceptable, hmm,” she said, watching her warm breath turn into white vapour in the cold night air.

“I betcha,” she said, with a smile, “we can make a difference.”

“How so?” Mr. Nothing asked.  “The only difference we make is they run away from us as if we carry the plague.”

“Yup. But what if we meet them on their terms? Other than that stark discrepancy we conjure when we walk down the high-street.”

“You mean dress like them, and mingle with crowds without anyone noticing us?”

A mischievous spark gleaming in her eyes, she answered, “No. That would be against our philosophy and decision to live on the streets. Something more clever and subtle.”

“Hmm,” he said thinking. “By staying the same and beating them at their game?”

“You’re getting there,” she said, fumbling through the pockets of her over-sized, shabby coat. “You got a fag? I must have smoked the last one.”

“Yeah,” he said, digging beneath the layers of clothes on his slim torso to extract a crushed pack. “Here,” he took one out and stuck it in her mouth, then dipped a twig into the fire, lighting hers and one for himself.

“So, what’s the plan?”

“I’m thinking,” she said, as Wino approached the barrel, with a flask in his hand.

“Evening, guys. The nice lady at the bar gave me some mulled wine and magazines to read. Want some?”

“Why not,” Miss Plenty replied. “Keeps you warm. What did you do, sweep the shop front?”

“I carried some stuff for her.”

The temporary warming effect of the spiced drink invigorated their bodies, as the homeless settled into their corners, watching the lives of the homeful spread out on the pages of the glossy magazines. An article about a socialite triggered Plenty’s attention. A Costume Party Fundraiser, with a reward for the winner. Tickets $65. How to get the tickets … do I dare?

The following morning, Plenty ambled to the pay-phone and made a collect call to her best friend.

“Hi, Sandy, I need a favour.”

“Where are you? When will I see you?”

“Don’t know, yet. I’ll call you. Please do me favour, get me two tickets to the fundraiser…”

“Why? Are you into the benefit events?”

“Don’t ask questions, and please have them delivered to The Mayflower on West Street…”

“I’ll do anything for you. Just promise not to go AWOL too long. I miss you.”

“Promise. I miss you, too. Thanks.”

Two days later, Plenty picked up the envelope containing the tickets from the local bar.

Back at the homeless settlement beneath the bridge, she looked for Mr. Nothing. She spotted Wino, stretched out in his corner, fighting with a crossword puzzle.

“Good to see you sober for a change, Wino. Where’s Mr. Nothing?”

“Crosswords keep the mind active,” he said, with a big smile, exposing his missing teeth. “He wasn’t feeling well, maybe pissed out of his mind. I saw him going to the bushes down there.”

She found Nothing asleep behind a tree, by the embankment. His face appeared flushed. She put her hand on his forehead. It was burning. “Wake up, wake up. You’re going to get hypothermia here. You have a fever.”

Nothing opened his bloodshot eyes and moaned. “I don’t feel well. My tummy is churning.”

“What did you eat again? Didn’t I tell you not touch anything thrown in the garbage bin? Especially, after the last time.”

“It was only leftover pizza in a box.”

“You don’t know how long it’s been there, do you? Or whether it’s been contaminated. Get up, we’re going to the shelter for some soup.”

She dragged him along to the homeless shelter. After serving him a bowl of soup with a generous squeeze of lemon, she gave him a paracetamol tablet from the first aid cabinet and made him drink it with lots of water.

“For the next two days you’re having nothing but soup, and my mother’s remedy.”

“I didn’t know you had a mother.”

“Everyone has one. Hot lemon juice mixed with fresh mint is the best. You’d better get well soon. We’re going to a party.”

“What party?”

“A costume party.”

“What? Are you mad?”

“I’m not. It’s a fundraiser with a reward.”

“Where do we find the costumes?”

“We won’t have to.”

Plenty kept an eye on Nothing for the next two days as he recovered.

They arrived at the venue of the Fundraiser and mixed with the crowds stepping out of their cars at the entrance.

“You’d better turn on your best accent, Nothing. I betcha, you’re some kind of academician with your knowledge of literature.”

“I’ll try,” he said, grinning.

The event was televised live by a local channel working with the charity website. The homeless couple was photographed at the entrance, along with the other guests in fancy costumes. Kings, queens, knights, Cinderella, Snow White, Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Don Quixote, Long John Silver. Dracula, Superman, Brigitte Bardot, Marlene Deitrich, George Sand, Madonna, Rita Hayward, and many diverse characters and icons.

Awed by their sumptuous surroundings and the publicity involved, Plenty and Nothing tried hard not to look out of place. Once they settled into the ambiance, they scoffed as much as they could eat and drink from the buffet. They danced and chatted to the other guests.

A couple of hours into the event, the highlight of the evening came as the votes began to pour in. Plenty and Nothing watched themselves and the other contenders on the screen. The session closed down at the end of the hour.

A presenter mounted the stage to announce the top three winners: Brigitte Bardot 950 votes, Dracula 1240, The Homeless Couple 1350 votes.

Heads spinning, legs shaking, Plenty and Nothing made their way to the stage. Nothing took a deep breath and thanked the audience. He coughed and continued, “We won’t be able to accept the award because we didn’t make the effort to prepare our costumes. These are our regular clothes, second-hand gear from charity shops. We’re real homeless people.”

The presenter took the microphone, as a commotion rose from the audience. “I invite the Charity President, Mr. Smith, to the stage.”

Mr. Smith climbed up the steps and greeted the homeless couple. “There’s nothing I like better than genuine stuff. The cheque for $1000 is yours to do as you please. We’re happy with the results.”

Dodging their way through a sea of photographers, Plenty and Nothing managed to leave the venue. They ran down the streets, taking shortcuts via narrow alleys, between blocks to lose the press on their tail. They hid in a derelict building near the settlement and waited to make sure there were no reporters around.

Back under the bridge, they called the members of their clan to make a decision about the cheque.

“Cigarettes for everyone.”

“Wine for everyone.”

“Burgers and pizza for everyone.”

“Give it to the shelter for everyone.”

The shelter won, by the majority of votes. Plenty and Nothing, accompanied by Wino, as the witness, took the cheque to the manager of the Shelter from the Storm. “With our compliments.”

On the way back, Plenty nudged Nothing with her elbow. “See, we make a difference.”

This story first appeared in Ripples on the Pond, my debut anthology of flash fiction and short stories.

https://www.amazon.com/Ripples-Pond-Sebnem-Sanders-ebook/dp/B077XCK3SD/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546758746&sr=1-1&keywords=ripples+on+the+pond


OMP Admin Note:

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently, she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have been published on the Harper Collins Authonomy BlogThe DrabbleSick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, SpelkFiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, and CarpeArteJournal. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child.  Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. Her stories have also appeared in two Anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work:

https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/

 

Ripples on the Pond

https://www.amazon.com/Ripples-Pond-Sebnem-Sanders-ebook/dp/B077XCK3SD/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546758746&sr=1-1&keywords=ripples+on+the+pond

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17427985.Sebnem_E_Sanders

https://www.facebook.com/sebnem.sanders

https://Twitter.com/sebnemsanders
https://Instagram.com/sebnemsanders
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sebnem-sanders-b3593263/


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

Homelessness – Is It A Man-Made Disaster? ~~~ by Moinak Das

Homelessness – Is It A Man-Made Disaster?   ~~~  by Moinak Das

A couple of weeks back, I was traveling to Mumbai, a densely populated city on India’s west coast. It is the financial centre of the Indian subcontinent. It is a region, famous for its demographic diaspora.

Mumbai is also famous for its maze-like, super-cheap and robust railway connectivity. I remember I took a train from Kalyan to Bandra to visit a friend’s house. It was an hour-long journey. I wasn’t traveling alone. I was traveling with the friend himself. And we were discussing a lot of topics during the commute. One such topic was ‘homelessness’. Homelessness is the condition wherein people fail to arrange a safe, secure and stable habitat.

For a very long time, I have believed homelessness to be a manmade disaster. The reason was simple. In my opinion, anything naturally available and critically essential to human existence must be made into a basic human right. But, a quick google research tells me that is not the case with land! Internationally, no treaty or declaration specifically refers to a human right to the land.

Countering my left-wing socialist views, my friend argued with rationals. He made me calculate the total surface area of the land on earth. Using simple high school mathematics, a few basic calculations and a couple of obvious assumptions, I found this to be approximately 60,000,000 square miles. Of this, 33% is desert, 24% is mountainous and only the remaining is actually habitable. This leaves us with approximately 25,000,000 square miles of habitable land. Then I divided this by the approximate number of people living on earth. We found out that each person (irrespective of his or her age and gender) can have up to 2 acres of land to live on. Not to forget, this habitable land also includes the forests and therefore ain’t very beneficial. Now, if we also brought into consideration the land space required for farming, manufacturing and other essential constructions, we would be left with less than 1 acre of land per person. Also, every 3 seconds, a child is born and every 11 seconds a person dies. The ratio roughly turns out to be 4 to 1. With life expectancy increasing, the 11 seconds will rise and the 3 seconds will decline. “In other words, we have a severe land crisis bomb ticking on which is going to blast, if not now, very soon!” he concluded.

I did agree with his rationale to some extent. He had a valid point. But the socialist ‘me’ couldn’t settle with this. I argued for this unjust fallacy. When you think about it, the majority of our world works to pay their rent, or for a place to live in. But why? The land belonged to everyone equally in the beginning. It surely didn’t belong to the governments. And neither did it belong to any private entity. They didn’t create it. The land was created by nature, by God or whatever you’d like to call it. But somehow we have found the reasoning in being charged for what should be free unequivocally. We continue to be sheeple, thinking that money should be given in exchange for things that are rightfully free to all the living beings by default. And we have even developed rationales to justify this fallacy.

My friend cut me short again! “And where do you plan to build the factories? Where do the 6-lane highways lie? Where does your shopping mall stand? And where do we place this railway station?” my friend fired, pointing out of the window.

“And why do we need them? Why do we need shopping malls? Why do we need 6-lane highways? Can’t we live like people used to live in good old days? Can’t we have lived in our own parcel of lands and have grown just the amount of food we need to survive?” I argued back.

Bandra arrived pretty soon. And we had to get down. Of course, we didn’t talk on this anymore.

I don’t know who was right and who was not. But I still believe this thing. There doesn’t have to be homeless people, or people being evicted because the economy can’t sustain itself and provide jobs. There doesn’t have to be hungry people because the economy can’t produce enough.

However, as easy as they might seem, they are too idealistic to be followed in this pragmatic world. For that is why tough socialists have constantly failed and feeble capitalists have survived.


OMP Admin Note:  Moinak Das is an aspiring writer and an impromptu storyteller. A curious wanderer as he is, you can expect any genre in his writings. So enjoy reading and let the ink of imagination flow.

https://inkofimagination.wordpress.com/

Gays — by Akje Majdanek

Gays — by Akje Majdanek

I can’t remember why I was at Electric Lit recently, but I stumbled across “this post” from a gay reader who resents heterosexual women writing m/m romance novels.

I can see his point, but of course, these novels aren’t meant for gay men, they’re written for straight women. They’re not supposed to be accurate portrayals of gay men; they’re supposed to be portrayals of men the way we want them to be. All romance is fantasy, after all.

Speaking for myself, I first started reading m/m romance when I’d read one too many hetero romances with a bimbo heroine and it occurred to me, Why am I reading a book about some TSTL heroine who isn’t me having a relationship with a great guy she doesn’t deserve, when I could get two men for the price of one?

It just made more sense to read about two men coming together than try to live vicariously through some stupid cow I couldn’t relate to. Evidently, a lot of other romance readers feel the same way. (♯^.^♯)

But I can totally sympathize with gay men who get a rude awakening when they stumble across one of these books. I feel the same way when I buy a bookmarked literary fiction, only to find it’s actually pulp fiction that happens to have stream-of-consciousness, a navel-gazing character, or an emphasis on characterization over plot. Personally, I define litfic by depth, not by gimmicks.

What’s needed is a better way to categorize books so the appropriate audience can find them and others know to avoid them. The problem is how to do that when the Book Industry Study Group is slow to recognize new genres, and Amazon has even fewer categories than the BISAC listings.

Actually, pondering it now, I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. ˓(ˊᘩˋ⋆)


OMP Admin Note:  Akje Majdanek is a writer and OMP Network member.  Akje is a guest blogger for the One Million Project website whose creativity is evidenced in her work.  Akje’s books–Der Reiter and Adeline–are available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Akje_Majdanek/e/B00UZSTW74 

The Problems with History ~~ by John Nedwill

The Problems with History ~~ by John Nedwill

Normally I write short stories. There is a discipline to it, trying to write a story that is complete but compact. And there is definitely a challenge in writing something that makes sense and is engaging when you only have a certain number of words to tell it in. Besides, the short story form seems to suit my butterfly mind. It allows me to develop an idea, write it down and move on before I become bored with the whole thing.

This does have its drawbacks, though. I find it very difficult to sustain a story to 10,000 words – let alone the 100,000 that most publishers seem to demand for a modern novel! It’s not that I just stop writing, leaving my story hanging in mid-air. No. What happens is that I start to close down my story. I resolve the various plot threads, I try to give the characters their endings, and then everything is brought to a (more or less) satisfactory conclusion.

Still, I am trying my best to overcome this. I recently embarked on a project that I think might actually be worthy of receiving a longer treatment. While doing some research into the history of my family, I discovered an interesting but little-known incident: the Larne gunrunning of 1914. As I looked deeper into events surrounding the incident, I found myself fascinated by the personalities involved, the political machinations surrounding it and the actual logistics of smuggling guns into Ireland. The more I looked, the more I became convinced that there was a story here that needed telling.

That’s when I hit another problem. For those not familiar with the recent history of Ireland, it has been a rather turbulent two or three centuries, the events of which still have repercussions to this day! And some of the people of Ireland have long memories and can be very touchy about certain subjects. So, rather than risk the wrong sort of attention by dramatising the actual events, I decided I would write a story that was a fiction based on the events of 1914, with names and places changed to suitably muddy my trail.

Oh dear. If you think writing historical fiction is hard work, it’s even harder trying to disguise it! I have had to alter the details of the events, changing them so that while they are accurate, they are not accurate enough to offend people. I have had to invent characters who, while they reflect the people involved, are not the actual people themselves. I’m also trying to play up the farcical elements of the whole thing. A sense of humour can be a wonderful defense. In short, the whole thing is a minefield and I feel like I’m dancing around the craters!

Will I actually bring this project to a conclusion? Will I break through the 10,000 word barrier? Will my story even see the light of day? I have no idea, but I’m going to find out!


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.

Will Imagery Replace the Written Word?

Will Imagery Replace the Written Word?

We are bombarded by images and sound bites almost 24/7 due in part to around-the-clock news channels and social media sites that feature photos with a brief message providing links to the words.  Even a still photo will be considered passe in part due to the rise of live video on Facebook.  Emoticons and GIFs are replacing written phrases.

I love a good photograph or a funny video as much as the next person, but I’m a writer and I wonder if future generations will miss the joy that I’ve found in reading a book.  There is something very special about reading a book passage which paints a mental image in our brains transporting us to another realm created through the author’s vision molded into the reader’s interpretation of their literary musings.

The warm red glow of the rising sun peeked through gaps in the advancing front of the storm.  Its weakened light glinted off of the corrugated metal carports.  The roar of the tide rushing into the beach and an occasional car door or trunk closing were the only sounds. — Exodus, Chapter One

I had a specific memory in mind when I wrote this paragraph in my first novel.  A writer uses words like an artist uses a paintbrush.  Our combination of adjectives, verbs, and nouns are the paints we stroke onto our canvas.  We use long sweeping sentences mixed with crisp ones to add drama and layers similarly to the technique a painter will use when they change the type of bristle on their brush or the direction and quality of their application of paint.  Splashing a bit of color here and there to bring out dimensions in their work is not unlike building tension in a scene.

Will future generations be unable to frame a mental picture of what they are reading?  Will our writing become a washed out photograph relegated to the past because a bright video set to music strengthens certain nerve centers in the brain while other neurons, which once dealt with the impulses of reading a descriptive passage, whither away?

I thought it was funny when people would visit my home, look into my home library and comment, “Have you read ALL of these books?”   When I told them that I read the majority of them, they would look at me like I was a freak of nature.  Or when I hear a negative comment about a person being “strange” because they don’t watch TV and “all they do is read!”  I begin to worry about the direction our society is going.

I was curious to see if this was a problem or only a theory produced by my book-obsessed psyche.  I found out a Pew Research Center study showed approximately 72 % of American adults had read a book in 2015.  This was a continuation of a gradual decline over five years.  In 2011, about 79% had read a “book in part”.   Women read more than men on average and younger people (80 %) read at least one book in a year compared to senior citizens with only 69% reading a book/year.   Americans as a whole read fewer hours per week by half when compared to readers from other nations around the world.   These statistics are sobering.

Or, am I worrying much in the same way the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” predicted in 1979?  It didn’t.

In the early 20th century,  the Italian avant-garde art movement — Futurism — looked to destroy older forms of culture, preferring to explore new technologies and media as the means to communicate their creative vision.  Futurism added an additional layer to the cultural whole, instead.

We, as writers, can fight back by presenting the best quality work we can.  The continued honing of our craft and improvement in our writing skills is a must.  I’m not an elitist writer, and I cringe when I read comments by writers about all of the crap being written today.  My belief in encouraging all forms of writing by many writers will be our saving grace.

We crawl before we can walk or run.  Our writing develops and improves as we write.  If we turn our noses up because “we” know good writing and denounce the offerings of another, we will discourage the exploration and evolution of the art we wish to embrace.

So, I have joined the ranks of authors utilizing the social media I worry will destroy the older exchange of ideas in books.  If it goes the way of music videos and new art movements, it will add something to our creative palate and may bring more readers and writers into the fold.  Inclusion is the remedy to keeping an art form thriving in an ever-changing world.


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. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1473258208&sr=8-1

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

 

 

Unlocking the Social Media Marketing Puzzle

Unlocking the Social Media Marketing Puzzle

I was online chatting with another author the other day, and we were discussing what types of marketing we do.  I started going into whatIMG_5071 I do for marketing and realized my approach to social media needed something.

So where did I go for more information on how to market on social media?  I went online to social media to see what works for other writers.  I was able to download a ton of infographics on Pinterest about Social Media Marketing tools, and I read at least a dozen articles on it.

I gleaned some essential points from my research:

  • Social media marketing is not about your books as much as it is about you as an author.
  • Various types of social media have specific guidelines which help you get your brand out to potential readers effectively.
  • There’s a right way and a wrong way to use hashtags depending on the social media platform you are using.

You will turn off potential readers if they are continually seeing your post “Buy my Book!”  A good rule of thumb is to make sure that 80% of your posts are social and 20% are direct marketing of your writing.  Give your new friends/followers a glimpse into who you are as a writer.  What are you reading?  What insights do you have into writing?  What do you want to know about your readers?  Ask them, and you will be engaging your potential audience and not causing them to click on the “Unfollow” button.  When you do put your book marketing post out there, make sure you post no more than 1-4 times per week and only 1-2 times per day.

The most common reason social media users “unliked” a page was because the brand posted too often and cluttered up their newsfeed.  You don’t want them to hide your posts!  That’s like flipping the channel because you don’t want to see the commercials.  To make your posts most effective make sure that the image or brand you wish to convey is sending a consistent message across all of your platforms.  Your attention to your messaging will ensure that your posts will have more impact without being overbearing with too much frequency

Too lengthy a post can also decrease the number of engagements you will receive.  A photo, short video, GIF or meme with a link to more content will capture the attention of your follower, but a novella-length post will have their eyes glazing over.

Sooo, what do I post?

Let your reader know who you are.  I don’t mean telling them about your recent surgery or your divorce.  Keep your private life private, but tell them funny snippets about your life.  Do you like to bake?  Put a photo of your latest culinary masterpiece along with sharing your special recipe.  Behind-the-scenes pictures at your book signing, your favorite place to write, or a special spot where you like to read.  Add favorite quotes, your favorite books, links to your blog posts, a good book written by another author, event information, writing tips, etc.

Interact with your followers by responding to their comments. Thank them for their Retweets and when they befriend you, respond promptly.  That means today, not next week.  If there is a delay, apologize sincerely, but you don’t have to give details about why you weren’t more prompt.  Remember, Social media is all about getting to know people.  If they feel a personal connection to you, they may invest their money and time in your book.

Each form of social media has its guidelines.  Pinterest and Instagram are visual media platforms.  Your pin/post needs to be eye-catching.  It needs to be something special enough to warrant having someone save it to one of their Pinterest boards or to like it on Instagram.  Each one has guidelines as to what size images work best on their site.  An application like Canva contains easy to use templates for various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, making it easy to have a post which captures attention.

Too many hashtags can be distracting. More than two and you lose engagement. Check out articles about the different hashtags writers can use to promote their work.  Got a book on sale for 99 cents?  Try #99c or #99cents at the end of your post.  Free ebook?  #FREEbook or #BookGiveaway.  Consider using #InIMG_5070dieThursday, #WriterWednesday, #MustRead or #FridayReads.

Keep hashtags to a minimum, group them at the end of your posts, don’t hashtag every word, or #makeyourhashtagssolong no one can or will read them.  Use hashtags that are trending, but make sure they work with the message you are trying to send.

Take the time to do the research and find those social media platforms which will work with your schedule and your life.  Social media can be overwhelming, and you don’t want to spend so much time online you don’t have time to do what you love to do — write!

And with that, I #amwriting.


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. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1473258208&sr=8-1

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

@katemcginn6

https://www.katemcginn.com/

How the Creative Arts Inspire Me–by Kate McGinn

Music and art transport me to another place and time.  The rhythmic strands of a guitar in the opening stanzas of the passionate melodies from the island of Puerto Rico will transport me to the island in a heartbeat.  The song Despacito that has been so popular this summer evokes the beach, laughter, and camaraderie between my family of gringos and my extended Puerto Rican family through the ties we have with our lovely daughter-in-law.  The caring for each other’s welfare combined with a love of family, music and an openness which couldn’t help but make me wish I had a bit of Puerto Rican blood in my veins.  The music lets me feel for a moment I was part of their rich culture (at least until I tried dancing and let’s just say “sad” describes it perfectly).

 

Irish songs with pipes and the steady beat of the bodhran brings to mind green fields with blue seas crashing against the dark cliffs along the shore all the while white BCAFA67E-E15E-4514-98C2-07051A38CEF2puffy clouds float over the mountains covered with black-faced Connemara sheep.  I tap my feet with the rapid melodies fighting to restrain myself from spinning around the living room to the song (only because of the aforementioned inability to dance–I could hurt someone).  Seriously, you don’t want to see the damage I inflicted upon myself and a metal bucket while dancing to LOCASH’s song, Ring on Every Finger.

 

Visual arts–paintings, sculpture, and photography–have the same effect on me.  I see a story in every work of art.  At Loche Eske Castle, the sculptures of a woman sitting under a tree reading while three children torment each other a short distance away caught my imagination.  My photo of an old church cemetery called out a tale of heartache and loss.

 

I’m reading A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline based on the Andrew Wyeth painting, Christina’s World.  A fictional account of the interactions between Wyeth and his muse, Christina Olson.  I googled Wyeth and found myself looking through his painting several of them are alluded to in the book.

 

Wyeth found beauty in the most austere and everyday items in the Maine home of Alvaro and Christina Olson as described by the following passage from Kline’s novel.

 

“We are more attuned to the beauty of this old house, with its familiar corners, when Andy is here.  More appreciative of the view down the yellow fields to the water, constant and yet ever changing, the black crows on the barn roof, the hawk circling overhead.  A grain bag, a dented pail a rope hanging from a rafter:  these ordinary objects and implements are transformed by Andy’s brush into something timeless and otherworldly.”

 

Just as the musician takes melodies from the sound of the rain and the wind and an artist uses the imperfections, light, and shadows to color and add depth to their works of art, the writer pulls from emotions, sounds, songs, images, memories to type words onto a page.  A single note, the touch of the brush against a canvas and the letters on a page can transform a world, a mind and a heart with their existence.

 

This is what I love about the arts and the part they play in my life.  I might not dance gracefully but I continue to try.  I sing like a frog but sometimes I can’t help myself, I must sing.  My world continues to push me to write and this I strive to do to the best of my ability as long as I still breathe.

 

I mentioned Puerto Rico in this blog and it pains me deeply to see my fellow Americans and military brothers and sisters and their families suffering following the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria within days of each other.  Please keep them in your prayers and if you are able to help during this terrible time please consider donating to the recovery efforts.

Donations for Hurricane Maria Recovery in Puerto Rico


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. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1473258208&sr=8-1

=1473258097&sr=1-2-ent

On Twitter: @katemcginn6

https://www.katemcginn.com/