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

The Confession ~~ by John Nedwill

The Confession ~~ by John Nedwill

Alright, I can’t keep this to myself any longer. There is a terrible secret that I have to confess. Please don’t look down on me for this. You see, I wasn’t always a writer. I was – and still am! – a tabletop gamer.

I first became a tabletop game in 1980. You have to understand that I was young and very easily influenced then. My initial exposure was from an advert in the back of a computer games magazine – one of those that had programme listings you typed in by hand. The ad in question was for a company called Games Workshop, offering three games for £20. But these games were not computer games. These games were roleplaying games: games to be played with dice, pencil, paper, and (so the blurb claimed) imagination. As there were three games, three of us banded together and scraped up the requisite cash. Then we bought a postal order, posted it off with the coupon and waited.

About two weeks later a parcel arrived for us. We tore it open and pulled out three boxes: Basic D&D, Runequest and Traveller. Each box contained manuals on how to play the games, complete with type-formatted text and tables. We were, to put it mildly, perplexed. How could these be fun? But, we had spent our pocket money for the next two months and we were determined to find out what was going on with these things.

It soon became clear that these books were not just words and numbers. They were a means of codifying worlds of fantastic beings and strange treasures; guides on how to settle disputes were settled fairly, if not necessarily amicably. They sparked something in us. For a glorious few years, we became Bronze Age heroes, valiant explorers of space and time, and slayers of dragons. Even better – we became creators of worlds.

But, as inevitably happens, we went our separate ways and outgrew our adolescent fantasies. Well, I didn’t. I kept playing. I found new friends who had also been drawn into these shadow worlds of the imagination. Together we honed our skills. We learnt how to create memorable characters and how to build new worlds. We learnt how to create epic adventures. We read books and shamelessly stole ideas from them, proudly flaunting our thefts and not caring if we were found out. But, most of all, we learnt how to tell stories.

I am still a gamer. I still sit around a table with my friends, eating snacks (admittedly low-fat and low-sugar now), drinking beverages (tea rather than fizzy pop) and rolling strange dice (we still compare our collections). But, I have managed to parlay the skills I learnt from gaming into skills for writing.

You see, gaming has taught me how to create rounded and believable characters. It has taught me how to detail locations. It has taught me how to create plots that will stand up to being poked, prodded and generally tested to destruction. But the stories I tell are now meant to be read rather than played out.

So, that’s my dreadful secret about how I became a writer. What’s yours?


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

 

It Is Not Widely Known ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

It Is Not Widely Known ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

It is not widely known that Napoleon Bonaparte wrote a romantic novel: “Clisson et Eugénie”. A young man’s classic dream of love, war, and death. Publishers were skeptical; ‘Not exactly world shaking’, said one. “Needs more ‘umph’. Give the hero more pain, adventure, suffering.” Bonaparte nodded in Gaelic politesse.  Later as Emperor, he had the entire publishing staff drafted into the infantry, sent to Egypt where at last they found the adventure, pain, and suffering that eluded them in the submissions pile, merely reading about life.

Had ‘Clisson et Eugenie’ been seen for the work of potential genius that characterized Bonaparte’s military campaigns, the Sphinx would still have his nose. Louisiana would still be speaking French. Probably America would still be speaking English, instead of American.

A fact even less widely known is that Jason Greenfield is a Napoleonic scholar, for all that short Corsicans are a constant hidden theme in his writings; a theme Greenfield himself is shy to admit, or perhaps has simply never noticed.  But to the initiate it is no surprise that the ‘One Million Project’ began with the Short Corsican himself, when the newly crowned emperor called for the uprising of the commons,   Bonaparte said to Josephine, “Consider, mon chere, if just one million miserable, dirty worms of the earth will commit to the Revolution, we shall be in Moscow by Christmas, and celebrate Emperor’s Day in London.” A moving speech, dans la Francais.

The million never arrived, the war ended, the worms of the earth turned to other things. And yet the ideal lives on. For OMP is a brave march through the cold wasteland of formulaic fiction. This Grand Army is divided into three forces: Fantasy, Thriller, and Fiction.  Their goal: a far-away, just over-the-horizon victory for research into cancer. For those who have lost loved ones to lumps, lymphomas, and Leukemia, this goal suffices. For they whose eye has become trained to search for ‘oncology’ when entering a hospital, the enemy is a foe to face with sword drawn, teeth barred, no quarter given.

But for us the writers and readers, it is the bugle-call itself that thrills the heart. L’emperor Greenfield has gathered forces that are, in fact, revolutionary; and the fight is sheer fun, fear, and fantasy. The stories in this year’s OMP collections defy all easy commercial pattern, all the tradition of pre-digested packaging of plastic fantasticality. Here are wonders of mystery, of horror, of comedy and tragedy; without a cliché to shame the front ranks.

Strange, that our cliché of madness is to fantasize about being Napoleon. Not a nice person; but imaginative and energetic. A dreamer with a sword; and definitely, the hero in what he wrote.  ‘Everyone is a hero in their own story’, goes the cliché. Perhaps. But better to be a hero in another’s story. The OMP is a march of storytellers and readers alike, to be heroes to the sick, and those fearing for the sick.

How easy to fantasize the victory march; how easy to turn fantasy to practical effort. A bit of out-of-the-box writing; a few clicks on the ‘purchase’ button. Even a review; Sacre-nom de Dieu, it’s enough to pose on a park bench with an OMP copy, eyes wide with just appreciation. Read, write, review, purchase thrice and start anew. Rise up, millions! Think big!

There is room for all beneath the Victory Arch.


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

On the Borderlands of Fantasy ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

On the Borderlands of Fantasy ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

I write fantasy. I read fantasy. I suppose I love fantasy. But I do not live it. Nope. I cross no fingers, knock no wood. I change the smoke-alarm batteries yearly and disdain mutant clovers, blessed crosses and St. Anthony medals for protection. I buy Captain Crunch, not Lucky Charms. I rotate my tires, signal lane-changes and floss. I yawn at spilled salt, black cats and cracked mirrors. I stare up at the night sky and see no Man in the Moon; just craters and plains with Latin names. I am… Mr. Reality.

And yet my daydreams are of stone vaults where cloaked figures gather for the Ritual. When enemies duel on a cliff-edge, I am there, popcorn bowl in hand. As lightning flashes across the cemetery, it lights up my eyes as much as any vampire’s. My ears are tuned to the sound of a ghostly horse trotting down the midnight road.

I told my kids Santa was a fraud, the Easter Bunny a flop-eared construct. That the periodic chart of the elements had greater influence over their destiny than any Zodiac. Even as I read to them from the Hobbit, Narnia, Prydain, Goosebumps, and the tales of Mr. H. Potter. Sometimes I wondered: did this create a fault line that must, soon or late, shake their lives?

Which duality brings us to scrubs. If there is a spectrum of fantastical clothing, with golden armor and velvet capes upon one side, the dress-code for Reality’s far end is blue-green plain two-piece unisex cotton clothing. Scrubs, that maketh the soul to stand in the harsh fluorescent lighting of what is real.

My daughter is interning in nuclear-med imaging tech. She can recite the bones of the body as I can the kings of Numenor. List the interactions of human organs as I can explain the factions of Dune. And gives me advice on hydrating as though I lived on Arrakis. She comes home in scrubs.

It is not really a uniform. It is more like holy armor. It says the wearer has been helping cancer patients out of wheelchairs and back in again. Injecting strange potions into veins, scanning bones and soft tissues with magic devices that will reveal the ill within.

I ask how her day went, and she shrugs. For her, it was just another day in reality town: fluorescent lights and heavy traffic. She knows what is real. Things that leave weird stains on your scrubs. But now I’m not so sure I know.

I am not a person given to causes and quests. OMP’s chance to write a story for a charity tilting at cancer was mere opportunity to do a bit of daydreaming. And yet, and yet… I think I have wandered across the border I spent so many years mapping. I sit at the kitchen table and worry that the fantasy world is slyer than I gave it credit. It wants us to be heroes, or villains, or at least explorers in strange lands. To take the quest, tilt against the giants or the windmills.

Bah to fantasy fog! I’m sitting at the kitchen table in Reality’s sunlight, feeling proud and nervous. True, outside the window I hear thunder, and maybe the hoof-clops of a ghostly horse. Old stuff, old props I can handle. But…scrubs? Who would have supposed they could be the magic robes of fantasy?


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.

Real Life — by Mark Huntley-James

Real Life — by Mark Huntley-James

It’s funny how the same theme can pop up over and again, apparently by pure coincidence.  I’ve been in conversations with writers, talking about progress on current projects and a regular (largely humorous) complaint is but real life got in the way this week.  I know we’re only larking around, and I have my fair share of Real Life(TM) getting in the way, but it got me thinking – this is not a coincidence, it’s the wrong way of looking at things.

Firstly, ignore the implied pretension that writing is more important than real life.  Whatever gets your blood moving will always be more important than the necessary chores of daily existence.

Secondly – Real Life(TM) is the most important resource a writer can have.  Yes, it pays the bills, gets the laundry done and all that, but real life is the fundamental building block of our existence, with so many uses.

Thirdly – Apparently using Real Life in your writing is a proper Thing now, but it’s called Slice Of Life, which sounds more like a pizza serving suggestion.

Why would I ever use Real Life? I write crazy stuff about time travelers, alien beasts and a fictional English town where demons walk at night, doing unspeakable things with chocolate flakes. Any hint of real life there is surely going to set off a fictional allergy attack that will leave my books coughing up their final chapter through the prologue.

Maybe not.

That fictional town of mine – it’s inspired by bits of a place where I lived for years, along with scraps of the nearby town where I now do my shopping.  It has all the geographical continuity of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (I’m not knocking the movie – Morgan Freeman was fantastic).  Yes, there’s a lot of fiction stitching it together, but the town and my characters are sucked straight out of Real Life. (And then thoroughly chewed until there’s no visible sign of Real Life.)

It doesn’t matter whether you are writing bizarre fantasy, or fictionalising a true story, there is nothing like a hefty infusion of Real Life to make it more convincing.  A reviewer said some complimentary things about the believability of my characters, but the real point is I that have met them, and not just in my head. No one character is a single individual from my Real Life, but like my fictional town, each one contains a bunch of reality glued together with fiction.

No matter how realistic or fanciful your story is, Real Life ingredients are an inspiration, a valuable background canvas, and a taste of the familiar to help your readers connect.  Yes, Real Life gets in the way and is pretty much impossible to get around, but that just means you’re not looking at it the right way.  Real Life is someone in front of you at the bus stop.  Say hello, start a conversation, and perhaps find yourself in a fulfilling long-term relationship with Real Life(TM).

That bus is only going to get you to the office or the shops.  Real Life can show you stories. And it can show you how to tell them.

In spite of all of that, I’m still going to joke about Real Life getting in the way of my writing.  It’s that sort of relationship.

 


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 (writeedge.blogspot.com), his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media thing (tw: @MarkH_J, fb: @MarkHuntleyJames)

One Million Project’s Fantasy Anthology

One Million Project’s Fantasy Anthology

The recent publication of the three-volume short story anthologies from the One Million Project was the culmination of over a year and a half of work and coordination of over one hundred writers, editors and publishing professionals. Each week, I will highlight each of the anthologies to give readers a taste of how fabulous these books are.

Our Fantasy volume presents a variety of genres including Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and PhotoFunia-1517875727 (1)Supernatural Fantasy.  Each story is of differing lengths and some authors have contributed multiple mini-stories so there are more than forty stories in this volume.

Find out what happens to Rachel when her long-time boyfriend leaves her for another man in S. Cinders’ story, Dragon or escape into a tale about what happens when the gods and goddesses create mischief in The Perfect Tree by Sarah A. Wilson.  Have you ever gazed in the mirror and questioned your life choices? Raymond St. Elmo will amuse your inner child with his Sci-Fi tale, The Girl Running Deep in the Sea of Glass.  Ready for some romance? Then you will love North Star by Gabriela Cabezut. Her story will have you wishing on a star hoping you will find your own naked man on a hilltop in Colorado!

 

I can promise you that One Million Project Fantasy Anthology has more than its share of stories of myth, fantastical creatures and the unexplainable.  Bringing writers from around the globe who present the reader with stories that provide the escape from reality every lover of the Supernatural, Fantasy and Science Fiction relish.

The beauty of these publications is two-fold — entertainment for the reader who will be helping to provide funding for Cancer Research UK and EMMAUS Homeless Programs through their purchase.

Cancer Research UK provides research which assists researchers, physicians, and medical centers around the world.  EMMAUS Homeless Programs can be found worldwide with over 330 centers that assist the homeless through job training and assistance to find jobs and places to live.

The One Million Project’s mission is to raise One Million Pounds for charity.  All proceeds from the sales of the anthologies (minus publication/shipping and handling fees) will be donated to the aforementioned charities.


The OMP acknowledges the following contributors who donated their stories and their talents to this project.

Authors: S. Cinders, Xanxa Symanah, Jason Greenfield, L.L. Montez, Adrian Hilder, J.M. McNeely, Chie Hatsume Pamyu, Mark Gardner, Staci Hudson, Sarah A. Wilson, Winter Silverberry, Anna Quin, A.L. Peevey, L. Fergus, Sharon Rhoades, Meg MacDonald, Mark Huntley-James, David Michael Williams, Kristen Jacques, Leigh W. Stuart, Betsey McQueen, Mel El, Susan K. Saltos, Owen Rothberg, Steven J. Pemberton, Raymond St. Elmo, Gabriela Cabequt, Sue Baron, Melissa Volker, David McKeown, Diane Dickson, Scott Butcher, Richard Ashcraft, Oliver Pratt, Vered Ehsani, Dawn Elize, Seb Jenkins, Subrata Saha and Rebecca Weiger.

Compiling Editor: Jason Greenfield41vj1XSGPNL

OMP: Fantasy Project Manager: Linn Neilson

OMP: Fantasy Editor: Sharon Rhoades

Main Cover Designs: D.J. Meyers

Main Cover Logo Design: Claudia Murray

Formatting and Image Editing: Declan Conner

Publisher: OMP Publishing with assistance from Kate Anderson & Dark Ink Press


myBook.to/Fantasy

myBook.to/Fiction

myBook.to/Thriller


OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who blogs on a regular basis about various causes and issues.

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 and Kindle Unlimited.

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

 

Short Stories for Charity from Around the Globe — One Million Project

Short Stories for Charity from Around the Globe  — One Million Project

Over a year ago, UK author Jason Greenfield decided to enlist his writer friends to join him in a literary effort to raise money for charity through the publication of a collection of short stories.  Over the months since that initial internet message to his fellow writers, a thirty-member cadre of writers from a variety of genres grew until it became one-hundred-eighty individuals — writers, editors, publishers, media persons, musicians, and artists — from eleven different time zones around the world.

Known as the “One Million Project”, this group volunteered their time and talents to produce what has become a three-volume anthology of short stories.  Each volume contains 40 original works which have been a true labor of love for the people involved.  The proceeds from the books will be donated to Cancer Research UK and the EMMAUS Homeless Charity.

All three volumes are available for Pre-order on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk right now.  Check out the links below!

Help us to raise a little sunshine in the lives of people less fortunate than ourselves through the power of words.


PhotoFunia-1517878074One Million Project: Fantasy

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079KJK67H

 

 


One Million Project: FictionPhotoFunia-1517878513(1)

myBook.to/OMPFiction

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079KH1QYH

 

 


PhotoFunia-1517879511(1)

One Million Project: Thriller

myBook.to/OMPThriller

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079KHF6ZH