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.


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 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.



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.


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” ( ) and “The Road To Hell” (  ) – and is working on a third.

He can be found online at his blog (, his website (, 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

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.



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 and 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



One Million Project: FictionPhotoFunia-1517878513(1)




One Million Project: Thriller

The Cultural Bridge

The following  idea is developed after a lot of research and consultation with a lot of people. The idea written below is not solely a product of my imagination. I must agree, Sharon Rhoads has helped me change my views comepletely. With this, I extend my gratitude towards her and give her the credits she deserves.


Culture is the part and parcel of human society. It is a prism of realities. In simpler words, culture is just like our mother tongue. Just as we start learning our language even before we understand its importance and use, we start learning our culture way before we are even aware of what it is.

Culture seeps into us, through the bedtime stories that we read, or the music that we listen. It also gets into us subtly through the religious traditions, holidays, celebrations, and the works of literature and mythology.

Strangely enough, culture still remains one the most misunderstood concepts in the world of humanities.

People, since ages, have misunderstood the meaning of the term, ‘culture’. Culture is how you live and who you are, not where you live. For instance, fishermen have a “culture”. People who live in homeless camps and shelters have a “culture”. People who are very wealthy have a “culture”. The people of a certain culture will understand each other and the life they live, but outsiders will not. Every one of us has our own “culture” that has nothing to do with where we live and still everything to do with who we are.

Nations these days rarely contain a single “culture” within their borders. When we talk about “culture” we need to be clear about its meaning. When we use that word, we are not referring to different countries. We are, in fact, referring to the differences in how we see the world, how we see ourselves, how we see others and how we live our lives. Did you know that deaf people have a “culture”? Or for that matter, circus performers have a “culture”. Even the surfers have a “culture”. And all these “cultures” separate people from each other because they don’t understand the other “cultures” around them.

But ‘culture’ hasn’t always remained a favourable influence.

A lot of times, in fact, it has worked against us. It made us look down at others as ‘different’. It acted as a wall, more than the link it was supposed to be. It stood for ages, dividing us on the basis of our differences. These are quite evident from the outright wars that had been waged between the east and the west, the Arabs and the Non-Arabs, the blacks and the whites and so on.

The internet, television and movies today, show us all the other parts of the world. But, they seldom help us understand the people who have different “cultures”. How well do you understand the “culture” of the deaf? They have their own language and a set of social expectations.

These are the walls that need to be knocked down!

In order to further this, One Million Project, OMP came up with this idea; the idea of knocking down the Cultural Walls and converting them into Cultural Bridges. So here we are, starting another wonderful project where we would like to have writers, artists, musicians and others share something about their culture on this online platform. Let our audience know about a different culture every few days, not through the humdrum routine textbooks they’d pick up in their high schools or libraries, but through the real stories about the real human experience.

Because sometimes we need more than an anthropologist or a sociologist to teach us culture. We need each other!

Moinak Das
(with special thanks to Sharon Rhoads)

The Cultural Bridge

For more information on the project, please visit us on The Cultural Bridge and tell us how you feel about it. We are currently in our initiation stage. So if something doesn't work for you, don't hesitate to comment there. Thank you.


Finding Talents!

“Grandpa! Can I ask you something?” The boy asked as he rested his head on the old man’s lap.

“Umm-hmm. Go ahead, son.” The old man ruffled his hands through the boy’s dishevelled hair.

“Miss May was telling me that everyone has a special talent.”

“Yes, she was right!”

“But how do I find my talents. I have spent twenty-three years of my life. But still, I haven’t figured out the purpose of my existence and the value of my presence! Leave alone ‘talents’. Sometimes I feel, I am not talented at all.”

“Hahaha! Well, that is not true, child” Grandpa replied.

“Then how do I find my talents? Martha is an excellent singer. Toby plays wonderful football. Lira is good at drawing. Ron is good in studies. And I am good at nothing! For the past couple of years, I have only been failing. I have failed in my exams. I have failed to qualify for the school football team. I have failed to make my parents proud. I have failed at everything I have touched.” A drop of tear rolled down his eyes as his voice trembled.

“Trust me, son. You are talented indeed. If you ever have the feeling that you are not talented enough, it isn’t your fault, child. It is the system that is faulty. It is the world which lacks eyes to recognise your talent. You may, in fact, be possessing a rather unusual talent. The talents that your friends possess are actually common talents. Like being good at sports or studies or being good at a particular art. The talents that do not get recognised are patience, thoughtfulness, optimism, the desire to succeed or rebuttal to defeat, will power and so on. If you observe, these are the same set of skills that are otherwise ‘taught’ to some people through ‘self-help books’ or the ‘lifestyle coaches’, but then there are few people like you who possess these naturally. And the worst part is that these kinds of talents do not have a conventional stage for display. For Lira, the drawing paper is her stage for display. For Toby, the football ground is his stage for display. But for you, my son, there are no stages for display and hence medium of expression.”

“So will I never get to show my talent? Will no one ever know that I am talented?” The boy looked up, a little relaxed.

“Well, that is not true again. It may be that your innate talent may be situation specific. There are people who do not handle failure well; these days little kids are committing suicide over trivial issues. There are people who do not even know how to get back up after falling. But if you have that talent called ‘perseverance’ then you are one of those rare kids who knows how to get back up again even after falling a thousand times. Your talents actually help you to live your life. Just ask yourself this one question. ‘Would that seemingly talented Martha be able to live your life? Would that seemingly strong Toby be able to keep on facing failure like you?’ and I am sure; the answer would always be ‘NO’.”



I just outed the Bulgy Bear!

The title of this blog sounds rather strange, so lets put it in context.

The Bulgy Bear is a character from the Narnian books, which are public domain. That means any writer can use them, much like Alan Moore when he created The League of Extraordinary Gentleman and used characters from Victorian literature in interesting new ways and much like any of ten thousand different writers can and have written a Sherlock Holmes story.

My own concept of the Mythlands – Mythical Creatures (which will start to show up in the second volume of my anthology collection BITE SIZE STORIES) is a hopefully original take on characters from fairytale, fable, myth, legend, literature and even pop culture and uses characters from worlds like Narnia, Oz, Wonderland, Babar’s Elephantland and many more.

But this isn’t actually an article about public domain characters – I just wanted to set the backdrop. Believe it or not, this is really about the OMP and the part of its mission statement that goes beyond just the book collection to raise money for our two specific charities (Cancer Research UK and the homeless charity EMMAUS). We also want to build a platform for spreading awareness of other worthy causes and discussing issues (See my last blog on Animal Conservation and the petition to protect JERICHO THE LION).

As a writer, I’ve never shied away from exploring different facets of character and society and although a lot of my  stories take place under the Fantasy genre, I like to mix in some ‘mundane reality’ and not so mundane reality. The Mythlands stories are no different. You’ll find planes, trains and automobiles (The Hare’s corporate jet ‘Hare Force One, Mr Toad’s roadster etc), mobile phones, discussion of menus in restaurants, self help groups, pirate radio stations (run by Captain Hook and Mr Smee) and even scenes where characters go to the toilet (the Asgardian God Vali heeds the call of nature and stands by the urinal beside a stuttering pig in a tuxedo who is described as a bit porky), corporate and economic business structures (Mythical Creatures Interdimensional and its board of Directors including Chairman The Tortoise, The Owl and others with major stockholders Mr Toad and King Babar) and much more.

Reality mixed with fantasy characters and fantasy setting. There are different races, religions (the relaxed multi denominational religions of the Domain as opposed to the extreme and oppressive church of the Aslanist State of Narnia) and styles of government (The benign corporate rule in Domain City, the whimsical monarchy of Babar, the firm grip of Queen Ozma over her nation and its vassal states such as Merryland and Ix, who voted to leave the Ozian Union but Ixit was overturned when Ozma sent in her troops) and, most pertinently to this blog, sexuality.

Just as in real life, we are straight, bi, gay, gender fluid, trans – we are monogamous, polygamous and many other labels or descriptives that miss the point that we are all human beings, regardless of any of that; in the Mythlands the creatures, humans, gods, talking or anthropomorphic animals et al, are also what they are.

When writers write about sexuality (or race, religion, ethnicity etc) they sometimes make a big deal of it and it really shouldn’t be a big deal. It should just be, because people just are. End of.

In The Mythlands there are four acknowledged gay characters (though in my mind canon a 5th – Goldie Lochs swings both ways) – The Owl and The Pussycat, an openly gay long standing couple with a rock solid relationship, introduced in one of the two tiny ‘pre stories,’ before I began my epic adventure THE HEIST. Since then, I’ve written some 50,000 words and The Owl has only popped up briefly at the MCI quarterly board meeting to give a presentation on the status of the Cair Paravel Economic Summit in Narnia – he’ll shortly return as the action is currently in Narnia and heading to a collision in Cair Paravel.

But back to the title of this article … in my last installment, written today, I’ve outed the Bulgy Bear – I haven’t made a big deal of his sexuality and as he’s been defined as a character already so he’s not ‘The Gay Character.’ – he’s a character that just happens to be gay. As it happens it does raise a slight plot point as he lives in a repressive society where the extremist faith of the land condemns gay people. Being gay in the Aslanist State of Narnia is punishable by death. His boyfriend and love of his life is a foreign diplomat that has come to Narnia for the economic summit. As a non public domain character (like the stuttering pig) I can only allude to this character in very general terms – he is a small bear called Boo Boo (He does NOT wear a bow tie!). No other facts are known about him, though I might mention he has a friend with a green hat who likes stealing picka nic baskets!

So the Bulgy Bear and the others are Mythland characters – Bulgy is a veteran soldier and Narnian loyalist whose strong faith is being tested by a series of revelations about injustices within his society, that are coming to light as the formerly isolationist Narnia, slowly opens its borders for the first time in seventy years. These are the main elements of the character.

His sexuality has nothing to do with defining him (except in a vaguer sense against his society) and that’s how it should be!


I hope to present guest bloggers and to address gender and sexuality issues from different perspectives – mine was from the writer/fantasy POV – others will be more directly to do with real life and experience.