At Any Age ~~ by Kate McGinn

At Any Age ~~ by Kate McGinn

Today I turn 59 years old. It’s hard to believe that only four years have passed since I began to seriously proceed on my writing journey. I’ve always written stories as soon as I knew how to read and write. When I was young, I dressed up in some type of costume or outfit living out the fantasies in my head as a part of my play. 

As my younger sisters grew, I included them in my make-believe worlds assigning them roles. Our little trio did pre-school improvisation presenting our playacting fun to our family.  I wrote songs (bad songs), and to this day my sister and I remember one of them and can sing it. No one, trust me, no one wants to hear it.

In high school, an English teacher thought enough of my stories to submit one to a national competition. It didn’t win any prizes but knowing that he’d thought enough of my work to submit it made me so proud. Why didn’t I end up writing my first book until I was fifty-five years old?  Life — it’s that simple and that complex.

I hear writers lament about not starting sooner or worrying that the fact they began writing, later in life diminishes their creativity in some way.  As if being an empty-nester or a retiree, somehow lessens the validity of what they are doing. The words and phrases like “hobby”, “time on my hands”, and “writing for the enjoyment” reduce the level of professionalism and creativity because the author is older.

When I was thirteen years old, I visited my uncle and aunt in Newtown, Connecticut for a summer. My aunt’s grandmother had painted several canvases I’d admired. One was a masted ship sailing on an ocean, another illustrated a lush Japanese garden, and the third painting depicted a scene showing my young cousin playing at the beach. I remember these works vividly, and also that my aunt’s grandmother was in her nineties when she began painting.

Toni Morrison published her first novel at age 40. Dorothy Allison, the author of Bastard Out of Carolina was 42 years old when it hit the scene. George Saunders was an environmental engineer before becoming a best-selling author at age 37. George Eliot published for the first time when she was 40. The author of  White Oleander, Janet Fitch, knew she wanted to write at age 21, but didn’t publish her first book for another 18 years. Even Mark Twain didn’t write Huckleberry Finn until he was 49! Other authors who had their first breakthroughs after their mid-thirties include: Cheryl Strayed, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Maya Angelou.

Being older doesn’t negate the creative voice, but it can accentuate the depth of life experiences we bring on our writing journey.  I’ve had over forty years of heartbreak, love, sadness, triumphs, failures, and joy that my young teenaged self hadn’t experienced yet. I worked as a nurse for over thirty years, served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, became a wife, a mother, and a bed & breakfast owner during those years. I lived in Texas, Florida, and Italy. I traveled to multiple countries and across the USA. Every single memory good and bad influence the words I place on the page.

It’s never too late to tell your stories. Don’t ever let your age whether young or more mature (like me) stop you from pursuing your creative dream. It is valid at any age.

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 and in the One Million Project Fiction Anthology. Her Clare Thibodeaux Series which includes the suspense books — EXODUS, WINTER’S ICY CARESS, and NEVER SHOW YOUR HAND — is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Kate’s stories can also be found in the magazine — Mom’s Favorite Reads available on Amazon and Smashwords.

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.



Mom’s Favorite Reads Emagazine for April 2019

Mom’s Favorite Reads Emagazine for April 2019

Mom’s Favorite Reads, a magazine for the modern Mom, #1 on the Amazon charts six months running!

Our April magazine, now available to download FREE.

In this issue…

* An exclusive interview with Sunday Times bestselling author Lesley-Ann Jones

* Easter stories and activities

* Recognising Autism Awareness Month

* The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll

* Challenging your fears

* And so much more

Paul Glanville, Remembered: More Than an Author

FeaturedPaul Glanville, Remembered:  More Than an Author

I had a friend named Paul Glanville. We were both authors and had connections to each other through Amazon’s writer’s forum, WriteOn, and later through Wattpad. I don’t know if I’d read any of his work before we began conversing on Facebook Messenger.  He was working on his horror story, Mirage, and I had self-published two suspense/thrillers and was working on a third.

He asked if I would read his work-in-progress and I agreed. Over a year or more, we would discuss writing, books, publishing, marketing, cover designs and a multitude of other topics related to our work. I knew he lived in California, and he spoke lovingly about his wife, Claudia. He considered himself a lucky man to have her in his life.

I know he had a generous spirit. When he learned that I had recently traveled to Cali to see my son and his wife, he told me that the next time I planned to go to LA I needed to let him know. He wanted to invite my husband and me to dinner.

Paul wrote his stories with courage, bringing the reader into a horrific world where sadistic people hurt the powerless for the thrill of doing it. It takes courage to write something some people would condemn as too graphic, too violent. He wanted his front cover to have a human skull on it. I thought it would be best to not have it be so obvious. He compromised and put it on the back cover. I believe I’m not as brave as Paul.

His writing does what it should do — it brings out an emotional response in his readers. I experienced revulsion, anger, and sadness as I read his scenes. This is every writer’s goal. I wanted to see his characters get revenge and cheered his protagonist on. He didn’t sugarcoat the horror in his story. He didn’t skirt around the darkness that belonged to the serial killer who preyed on women in his book.

He gave me a signed copy of his book, and I’m humbled at being included in the acknowledgments. I was shocked to learn of his death. I still have him included in my list of Facebook friends and miss his evening posts on Messenger looking to chat about writing.

I miss him, but I’m not the only writer I know who feels his absence. Below are some others…

Douglas Debelak

I never met Paul in the real world, nor did we discuss much about our personal lives, but it is the same for many of us who consider one another friends far more than just FB friends. I think that I can say that I was a friend of Paul’s and felt a deep sense of loss, hearing of his passing. In addition to our interaction through Amazon WriteOn, we had a number of personal conversations through email. Paul read and critiqued many of the short stories I wrote for the Weekend Write In. In addition to Mirage, I read many drafts of Paul’s books and short stories, about which we had some deep and honest exchanges.

Paul sent me a printed and signed copy of Mirage, for which I’d just started writing a review when I heard that he’d passed. I’ll happily pass that on. I’ve had no interaction with Claudia, other than her acknowledgment of comments I left on Paul’s FB page following his death.

I think his novel Daphne was excellent. It was as provocative as Mirage in its own way, as explicit, while not as dark as some of his other material. Paul wrote some dark stories about the monsters that are real, but most us shy away from, the human monsters. He did not shy from looking into the souls of those monsters. Mirage was only one of those. I don’t know whether any of Paul’s other short fiction are still online anywhere, but he wrote one that ended with a woman, still alive, in a lobster trap as bait. One of those most chilling and vivid images I recall reading.

I never felt I had to soften anything in my discussions with Paul. I could be as dark as I wanted, without ever being judged. Although Paul wrote about evil, I sensed he was a good man. I liked him and miss him.

The text for the draft of my review of Mirage is below:

The first thing I’ll say about Mirage is that it is a finely crafted story. It is riveting. It is dark. It is edgy. It is graphic. It is disturbing. It is not for everyone. But the author makes that crystal clear in his disclaimer in the front of the book. Could he have backed off on the graphic content just a smidge? That’s a hard call and it was his to make. I think that may have made the book more accessible to a wider audience and possibly more commercial. But, if you are into stories about serial killers, who, if you haven’t figured that out, are sick, sadistic animals who care nothing about their victims and do sick, horrendous things to them, then perhaps a less diluted and sanitized offering is in order. I think this author provides you exactly that.

I found this a short compelling and interesting read. I highly recommend it.


Christine Larsen

I, too received a signed copy of Paul’s book ‘Mirage’ as thanks for a small part I played in advising about some Aussie-isms.

In between help and advice we shared about our writing, I discovered a side to Paul that not so many may know – his love and knowledge of music… particularly Latin American.

In his book ‘Mirage‘ he had his beautiful MC, Celeste, softly singing a popular song to her rescuer. We are all familiar with the traditional version of Cielito Lindo, played by mariachi bands everywhere and Paul sent me a link to a fine rendition, but he wanted a sweeter version and went searching.

I still have his words from a private message –

That’s the only way I ever heard this tune, although for Mirage, I imagined it sung as a ballad. And then I found this:


Such a beautiful version has an added dimension to its poignancy now that Paul’s gone.


I leave you with a short story Paul wrote for the One Million Project’s Thriller Anthology —

The Detour

by Paul Glanville

A routine day takes a detour when an airliner is hijacked. Paul is an Embedded Systems Engineer by day and has been writing for himself since WordStar was popular. He has only recently begun to share.

I am a glorified bus driver.

I start every day in Jakarta. My passengers get on, and I take them to Banda Aceh, with a stop halfway at Pekanbaru. There’s about an hour traveling between stops. We pull up to the terminal; a few passengers get off and some cargo from under the floor is unloaded. Then new cargo is loaded, some passengers get on, and after about a half-hour, we’re on to our next stop. When we get to Banda Aceh, we turn around and do it in the opposite order on the way home.

Banda Aceh is a resort town. You may recall hearing the name; it was hit by a tsunami in 2004. That was a terrible disaster, but it’s all cleaned up now, and we’re the cheapest way to get there from Jakarta. We take longer than the others, who go there directly without stopping three times, but if you’re one of my passengers, we’ll get you to within a short taxi ride of the resorts before noon.

I’ve been flying for decades: first for the Indonesian Air Force, ferrying men and supplies all over the country. Now I’m the captain in a small regional carrier, doing almost the same thing as before.

The job is not nearly as glamorous as people think. It’s mostly preparation for an awesome responsibility, every day.

My favorite part is taking off. You push those throttles forward, and the engines gradually spin up to full power. The A319 strains, but you have the brakes on. Finally, you release the brakes, and you’re pushed into your seat as she leaps forward. About halfway down the runway, you pull on the yoke slightly, the nose gently rises, and the world disappears from view in the main windscreen. The feeling… the rumbling sound of the wheels on the tarmac goes away; it’s suddenly quiet as you lift up. “Wheels up!” you command, and your copilot flips the lever. Three green lights turn red then extinguish altogether. “Wheels up!” your copilot responds. Above the clouds, the sun shines brilliantly. She wants to fly. There’s no feeling like it, and I get to do it several times a day. You look over to the man in the right seat. “She’s yours.” You feel him take the controls and you let go. Now you can relax a bit and enjoy the ride from the best seat on the plane.

Landing is the tricky part. If you just aim the plane down, it’ll accelerate like a roller coaster, and you can’t land if you’re going too fast. Getting up is easy, but it’s a delicate balance, getting back down.

I’ve got thousands of hours more experience than my copilot, and he’s not going to get any more if I fly the plane all day every day, so I hand it off. I usually let copilots land, too. Again, they need the experience more than me. After a while, the company changes my crew: new copilot, new cabin attendants. I’ve had the same flight crew for months, and we talk about each other. We know each others’ personal lives: who’s married, who’s dating, what’s happening in their families. It’s less of a boring grind than it otherwise would be.


We just took off from Sultan Syarif Kasim II International at Pekanbaru—next stop: Banda Aceh—and we’re climbing through broken cloud past 5,000 meters, up to our cruise altitude of 8,000. Ninety-seven passengers, mostly tourists. I’d just handed off the controls to my copilot, Martin Ramirez, when I got a call from the forward flight attendant’s station.

“Captain, there’s a disturbance…”

Then, I heard a lot of noise. “What’s happening?” I asked.

The cockpit door suddenly burst open. It’s not supposed to do that after I lock it.

A lot of screaming and yelling. A stewardess fell backward, landing hard on the cockpit floor, and three men followed, stepping over her as they barged in.

“We’re taking control!” one of them said. He held up a hand grenade. That got our attention like nothing had ever before. I looked over to Martin. He was looking at the grenade as if he was watching his life count down.


My copilot ignored me, still focused on the intruders and the weapon.

“Martin!” I yelled.

He jumped and looked back at me, his eyes wide-open like saucers.

“Martin, I’ll handle this. You fly the plane!”

He blinked then nodded. “Yes, sir!” He gulped and turned to face the controls. He was scared but doing his job.

“I give the orders here!” the leader said.

I turned to him. “Sir, I’m the captain, and I can order everyone to cooperate with you.”

“Fuck you! I give the orders! Do you hear me, asshole?” He was still excited.

I had to calm him down. “Loud and clear. You give the orders. I have the authority to do whatever you want, okay? Just tell me what you want, and I’ll make it happen.”

The leader’s demeanor seemed to relax a bit, although the other two still looked pumped to their eyeballs with adrenaline.

In the calmest voice I could, I asked, “Tell me. What do you want?”

“Take us to Mecca!”

A hijacking. I was almost relieved.

“Martin, we’re going to Mecca.”

We’ve had more than our share of radical Islamic-inspired violence and terrorism, but we’ve been in relative peace for most of the last decade. I looked at the three again. They were certainly “True Believers,” but were they part of some radical group? They got a grenade aboard somehow and the door might have been weakened—was someone in the ground crew involved?

“Uhhh.” The stewardess began to stir. “Sorry, sir.” She got up to her hands and knees. “I couldn’t stop them.”

“That’s okay.”

“Get her out of here,” ordered the leader.

The two other men grabbed her, roughly lifted her up, and shoved her out of the cockpit. She fell on her belly and slid down the aisle. I wanted to get up and stop this—a hijacking is one thing, but nobody abuses my crew! What could I do without getting everyone killed?

The leader spotted the jump seat and sat where he could keep an eye on us. “I’ve got everything under control here. You two, guard the door.”

“Okay.” They left.

By now, even the passengers in the tail knew something was wrong.

“Good morning. This is your captain speaking. We’ve had a disturbance in the cockpit, and we’re working on it, so there’s no cause for alarm. In the meantime, please remain seated. Thank you.”

We settled in for an uneasy ride.


Fifteen minutes later, we started our descent into Banda Aceh. The way it’s done is by reducing the engine power, usually all the way to idle; when you reduce power, the plane slows and you maintain the proper airspeed by gently descending. You can hear the sound of the engines drop, and this alarmed the leader.

“What’s happening? What are you doing?”

I turned. “Don’t worry, we’re just starting our descent into Banda Aceh.”

“No! We’re going to Mecca!” He waved his hand grenade around.

“We can’t make it all the way to Mecca. We have to land and refuel.”

“Don’t fuck with me. I saw the fuel trucks at the airport. You already refueled!”

I looked at the papers from Pekanbaru.

Four hours ago, when we did our preflight preparations at Jakarta, Martin noticed that the price of jet fuel was lower at Pekanbaru, so we made sure to have enough to get there, plus the mandated reserves, of course. You have to understand that planes fly more economically when they’re carrying less weight, and fuel is heavy, so you try to take off with only as much as you’ll need, plus a little extra for emergencies. So, when we stopped there, we partially fueled while we unloaded and loaded passengers and cargo. We knew we’d be back in a few hours on our return trip. The plan was to completely fill our tanks on the return leg and ferry the cheaper fuel back to Jakarta for the airline. The economics of running an airline is a boring part of the job. But today, it became a real problem.

I did the math. The gauges were showing about a quarter full. Forty-eight hundred kilograms. I guessed about 1500 km, give or take. I saw Martin glancing at the gauges. He glanced over to me and shook his head. We didn’t need to say a word. We’d done the same arithmetic and came to the same conclusion.

“We can only go about 1500 kilometers before we have to refuel.”

“I saw the plane getting refueled.” He waved his weapon. “We go to Mecca or else everyone dies!”

I turned and sat back. “Martin, set cruise at 10,000 meters. Point seventy-eight Mach.”


“I know,” I sighed. “Just do it.”

“Yes, sir.”

I told the flight controller about our situation. Minutes later, we were passing Banda Aceh. I started praying for a friendly runway beyond the horizon.

Every airport in the world has a four-letter code name that our flight management autopilot understands. I asked traffic control for the airport code for Mecca. A few minutes later, I was told that Mecca has no airport, none at all, which surprised the hell out of me. Actually, I was so far beyond surprised that I can’t think of a word for it. Imagine, more than a million pilgrims come to Mecca for the Hadj every year, and there’s no airport in town.

The controller added that the closest airports are Jeddah and Medina; Jeddah is closer; only about eighty kilometers from Mecca.

“You heard the guy,” I said. “We can’t take you to Mecca, but we can get you close, so where do you want to go?”

“Medina!” he answered.

I relayed that to the ground and was given a code to enter: OEMA. I punched it into the Flight Management Console. It’s more than 6300 km away.

No way we would have made it, even if we had been fully fueled, especially not with the plane loaded with ninety-seven passengers and four cargo containers.

“What makes you think we can go all the way to Mecca with this plane?”

“We looked it up on the Airbus website—an A319 can go 6750 kilometers. Banda Aceh to Mecca is less—we looked that up too—so we go to Mecca!”

Martin and I exchanged bewildered glances. This plane can do about 6000 kilometers, if she was topped off. Maybe 6300 if we exhaust the reserves—in light air, or with a slight tail wind, maybe—but a headwind would force us down early. 6700 kilometers? No way!

Martin spoke up, “Hey, boss, that plane you saw in the Airbus site, was that the A319 Neo?”

“I dunno. Who cares?”

Almost whispering, Martin addressed me, “I think Airbus is promoting their newest model on their site. The Neo’s got sharklets.”

Of course! You might have noticed how, on many new planes, the last couple of meters of the wings are bent to go straight up. They’re called “winglets” or “sharklets” because of their shape. They dramatically improve a plane’s performance by roughly ten percent.

Ours is not a brand-new plane. We don’t have that feature, and even if we were full of fuel, we wouldn’t make it to Mecca. As it was, we couldn’t even make it a quarter of the way there. The next land, beyond the horizon, was India, and I was worried that it was too far away. I silently prayed for a stiff tailwind…

We don’t carry international charts that include the Indian Ocean. Why would we? We’re regional. So we really didn’t know where we’re going. We didn’t know which waypoints to program into our Flight Management System (a super-fancy controller for the whole plane, including an autopilot), the frequencies of the navigational beacons along the way… nothing. We were lost in a big sky.


“Regional two-niner two-seven.” It was the flight controller.

“Regional two-niner two-seven. Roger.”

“Hi. We understand you’re en route to Mecca.”

“Roger, Mecca.”

“Vector directly to AKINO.”

A waypoint! Thank goodness! We had someplace to fly to! I entered AKINO into the Flight Management Console. Course 274. Almost due west. Sounded about right. I hit the program command button. I felt the plane respond to the autopilot, banking slightly to the right from 270. “AKINO, copy.”

“At AKINO, contact Colombo Control for further instruction.”

“Thanks, Jakarta!” Sri Lanka! I’d forgotten, and it’s closer than India! Maybe, just maybe…

“You’re welcome. Good luck!”

Years ago, we only had radio beacons for navigation. After a while, they started naming the intersections of the beacons; if one beacon was at a particular angle with respect to another, you could tell the controller that you were at a particular waypoint. They’re on the charts. Today, with GPS, we can program our autopilot to go anywhere, and we have a new set of waypoints that are simply latitude and longitude coordinates. Nearly all of them are five-letters long, just as most of the beacons are three and airports are four. AKINO is a GPS waypoint.

It took thirty minutes to get to AKINO. We said goodbye to Jakarta Air Traffic Control, they wished us luck, and we contacted Colombo Control. They were expecting our call and gave us more navigational waypoints in order: TEBIT, HC, MTL, VCRI. That last one grabbed my attention—four letter codes are airports! I glanced over to Martin. He looked as surprised as I felt. Dare we hope? I steadied myself and looked over my shoulder at my “guest” in the cockpit, Mr. Hand Grenade. I entered the codes into the Flight Management Console. The airport was about 80 km further than our fuel estimate.

The controller continued to give us letters and numbers. Mr. Hand Grenade didn’t seem interested.

Have you ever driven your car on “E,” certain that you’ve got another two or three liters before your engine starts sucking air and dies, certain that the gas station a dozen kilometers away is close enough? There is a big difference between certainty and knowledge, isn’t there? No matter how certain you are, you still sweat up until the moment you roll into the station and stop in front of the gas pump, don’t you?

Cruising at ten thousand meters and point seventy-eight Mach, it took about an hour to get to TEBIT. An hour of watching the needles slowly drop, little by little, lower and lower. Ahead, open sea, open sea, and more open sea. The closer we get to TEBIT, the more nervous I got. I watched the gauges and waited, listening for a sputter, a hiccup, anything to hint that an engine is about to cut out, and then the other. I waited for a hint that our quiet glide down to the water was about to start.

TEBIT disappeared from the console screen. I felt the plane gently change course towards HC, another waypoint…


“Take the controls, Cap,” Martin said. “I’ve got to use the restroom.”

“Bird’s mine,” I replied as I took the controls. Before our guard realized what was happening, Martin had released his seat belt and was out of his seat.

“Get back! Get back in your seat!”

“C’mon, man. I’ve really gotta go.”

She yawed slightly then straightened out. An alarm went off. An alarm I’d been dreading.

“What’s that?”

“Shit! One of the engines stopped,” I said, clearing the alarm.

“What did you do? Start it back up!”

“I didn’t do anything. We’re running—”

Another alarm sounded as the screens went black.



Clearing the annunciator, the cockpit was eerily quiet. No whine of the twin turbines; only the whoosh of air.

I was piloting a 55-ton glider.

I heard something slam against something else. The cockpit door slammed. There were sounds of a struggle. I glanced quickly over my shoulder—they were on the floor—and I got back to work. More struggling and then pounding on the door. This time, it didn’t open.

Martin got back in his seat. His clothes were in disarray, his tie and belt missing altogether. He smiled. “Look at this,” he said. I glanced over. He had the grenade! “Notice anything?” He handed it to me. She was flying smoothly, and I didn’t need my right hand for the throttles, so I reached over.

There was something, well, odd. Something caught my eye, and I turned it over—there was a hole in the bottom. “Martin, are you telling me we’re going to ditch in the ocean and my passengers are in mortal danger because of a fucking practice grenade?”

Martin nodded, laughing. “Hard to tell them apart, especially when the bad guy doesn’t give you a chance to examine it.”

There was thumping on the other side of the cockpit door. It stopped, and I got a call on the intercom. It was Sally, one of the cabin crew.

“Some passengers took out the bad guys. We’re good in here,” she said.

“All clear in here too,” I said, looking at our hijacker, lying on the floor, hog-tied with a tie and a belt.

“Cap,” Martin said, “with all the excitement, I forgot why I got up in the first place.”

I laughed. “I’ve got her. Go do what you have to do.”


“Oh, and get our ‘friend’ out of my cockpit!”

“Aye, Cap’n.”

He opened the door and cheers erupted from the passenger compartment.

I heard something being dragged on the floor, and the door closed.


When the engines died, hydraulic pumps and the generators died with them, taking out the flight controls and the computers. Fortunately, planes like ours are fitted with some very basic emergency backups. When the engines’ hydraulic pumps fail, there’s a little windmill that pops out of the fuselage called a Ram Air Turbine, and it works a small hydraulic pump. It’s just powerful enough to control the plane. There’s also a set of six old-fashioned instruments so we can know how high we are, what direction we’re going, and so on. So, we were flying old school.

One of those instruments, the VOR receiver, came to life. It had picked up the MTL beacon. The receiver showed the direction and the distance to the transmitter; we were 200 km away. At our altitude, that was too far to glide, but if we headed straight for it, we’d be closer to land and maybe some shipping…

It was a long fifteen minutes. Altimeters look like clocks, and I spent the whole time watching ours spin backward.

We’d been in radio contact with the Sri Lankan Air Traffic Controller, and they had us on RADAR the whole time. And, of course, the flight attendants had prepared everyone in the cabin—we didn’t want a repeat of what happened to Ethiopian Airlines 961, another hijacking where half of the initial survivors didn’t even make it out of the plane before it sank.

We were down to our last one thousand meters when Martin spotted a plane coming towards us. I just got a glimpse of it in the right-hand side before it disappeared up and to our rear.

Before I knew it, a big C130 was flying on my side. “Sri Lanka Air Force.”

“Good afternoon,” came over my headset. “We’re here to help. We’ve got divers, medics, and a few power boats from the Special Boat Squadron ready to drop and help your people until more substantial help arrives. A navy cutter should arrive in about half an hour.”

“Roger, and thanks!”


Our angel, in the form of a military transport, flew alongside us, talking us down. I can’t begin to say what a help that was. They told us how close we were getting to the water.

I pitched the nose up and slowed the plane. The other plane gently floated away, apparently unwilling to follow us into a stall and a ditching. Then I felt the tail skimming on the water. This is what we’re paid for. You’ve got to keep the wings absolutely level. You can’t let one engine hit the water too soon before the other. If it does, it’ll stop while the other is still going 200 kph, and the plane will break up.

Water washed over the windscreen. When both engines hit the water at the same time, the plane stopped, quite suddenly, from 200 to zero instantly. The nose bobbed up. I could see the sky! I looked around. We were okay. Martin and I went through the shutdown sequence and were out of the cockpit in a minute. The cabin crew didn’t need any prompting. All the doors, including the two, one over each wing, were open, and the passengers were filing out onto the inflatable ramps that double as rafts. Nobody seemed to be seriously hurt. A few scrapes here and there, but everyone was moving on their own. All in all, pretty good. I think my cabin crew is the best.

So, no casualties—except for the hijackers, that is. Nobody had thought to untie them, put them in their seats, and clip their seat belts. When the plane stopped, they didn’t and they met bulkheads.

The Sri Lankans even managed to save the plane—this plane! The divers attached floats to her, preventing her from sinking before a crane and a barge could be brought to the scene. They didn’t have to do that. I think they’re geeks and just wanted to show off that they could.

It took a few months, but she was declared air-worthy again. Well, I hope you liked my story. We’re approaching Jakarta, and it’s about time to start the descent checklist, so you’ll have to leave the cockpit. Nice meeting you. Goodbye.

The End


Another wonderful story, Paul! Rest In Peace, my friend…




Paul Glanville’s book — Mirage  — can be found at these online retailers.

Mom’s Favorite Reads Magazine #1 on Amazon Since Its Inception

Mom’s Favorite Reads Magazine #1 on Amazon Since Its Inception

Mom’s Favorite Reads, a magazine for the modern Mom, #1 on the Amazon charts six months running!

Our April magazine, now available to download FREE.

In this issue…

* An exclusive interview with Sunday Times bestselling author Lesley-Ann Jones

* Easter stories and activities

* Recognising Autism Awareness Month

* The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll

* Challenging your fears

* And so much more…


The Importance of Dialogue in Plot Development ~~ by Kate McGinn

The Importance of Dialogue in Plot Development ~~ by Kate McGinn

Dialogue — can you picture a story without it? Most stories have chapters or scenes without dialogue, and an example of a book without any dialogue from the main characters is the animal story, An Incredible Journey.

So, yes, it can be done and successfully, but dialogue plays an important role in a story. Humans communicate with more than dialogue. Their actions, tone of voice, what they say and how they say it as well as what they don’t say all communicate something about the message they want to convey or perhaps what they are reluctant to say.

One important role of dialogue in a story is that wherever it occurs it should move the story forward. The following excerpt is from my book, Winter’s Icy Caress, and I’ve used it to show an example of how dialogue moves a story forward.

“What are you reading?” Wyatt asked while surveying the contents of the refrigerator. He lifted the half gallon of milk in a mock toast before tipping it back for a drink. She knew he drank from the milk jug because it irritated her. One corner of her mouth turned up.

“There was another abduction. A Chippewa woman. Have you heard anything about this?” She scanned the article for more information.

“No. I don’t think Dave’s involved yet. The local authorities would still oversee the investigation until they decided to bring in the FBI. Do you know either of the women?”

Clare’s forehead furrowed, and she shook her head as she continued to read about the Wind disappearance. “The latest woman’s name is Sara Wind. I wonder if she’s related to Alana.” Wyatt looked over her shoulder at the newspaper photo.

“Not the best photo. I know Alana when I see her, but I’ve never talked to her. Maybe Loretta knows.” Wyatt grabbed a glass from the cupboard and poured the remaining milk into it before stealing a slice of peanut butter toast from Clare’s plate. She slapped his hand. He gave her a saucy grin before taking a big bite of toast.

“I think I’ll ask her when we have dinner tonight.”

In this example you meet two characters — Clare and Wyatt. The dialogue between them moves the reader further into the story as we learn about the disappearances of women in the Bayfield area. We are also introduced to other characters during their conversation: Dave – who is connected to the FBI, Sara Wind – the missing woman, and Loretta – the woman they will have dinner with that evening.

In a few sentences we find out Clare is concerned about the news, wants to know more information about the disappearances and plans on asking her friend that evening. The dialogue moves us into the next scene, but what isn’t said while they are conversing tells us another story about the couple and their relationship.

This next example from Empty Chairs, Empty Promises offers an example of how dialogue can define character. What the character says, the words they use, their tone reveals who they are as well as their relationship to the other character. Dialogue changes dynamics in the story by creating emotional responses to what is being said.

“Mom, I don’t understand you! You sell our family home and now you want to go alone to who knows where…” Carrie argues over the phone with me.

“Puerto Rico. That’s where I’m going,” I correct.

“What are you talking about? Traipsing off in some type of mid-life crisis, it’s ridiculous. I’m embarrassed one of my friends will find out how demented you are!” Carrie isn’t going to let up and frankly, I’m getting tired of the tirade.

“Young lady, I’m your mother, and I won’t have you talking to me like this. I’m not having a mid-life crisis. I’m taking a much-deserved vacation, and I plan on enjoying myself. I’ve got another thirty or forty years ahead of me. I need to decide what I would like to do with it.”

“Whatever. Have fun. Don’t worry about your children, we’ll be fine.” My daughter is filled with resentment and each word drips with venom.

“Carrie, you’re an adult. I’m not abandoning you. You and Nate are always in my thoughts. I’ll get in touch with you when I get there.”

“Well, don’t let it interfere with your fun. I need to go.” And then, she was gone. I sigh at the petulant tone in her voice and shake my head, wondering if I’d been as insufferable when I was her age. No, I had two children to care for when I was her age. I didn’t have time for drama.

In this conversation, you are introduced to Libby Crenshaw, the protagonist of the story and her daughter, Carrie. The conversation moves the story forward by revealing Libby’s plans, gives the reader a glimpse into Carrie’s personality and how she and her mother interact. Through Libby’s inner dialogue, we see that she has made up her mind and will not give in to her daughter’s demands.

Through this passage, the reader may begin to form a connection towards one or the other of the characters, choosing sides and bringing them into the story as they feel the tension build between the two women.

Dialogue serves many purposes within the story structure by providing realism, dramatic tension, and giving voice to the characters as it defines who they are.

It makes the story advance by helping to direct the course of the plot. Characters should experience some type of change after a scene containing dialogue. If it doesn’t cause change it isn’t required to tell the story. It is nothing more than filler and should be deleted.

Dialogue provides information as secrets are revealed and the histories of the characters are divulged. It serves to balance the elements of storytelling by breaking up action sequences and/or descriptive passages.

Keep it natural by giving characters different voices. Let them interrupt each other and give them and non-participants in the scene actions in the background to convey reactions to the conversations. Put them in a specific identifiable location and time during their conversation. Use misdirection, what is unsaid, what is ignored or implied to increase the tension in the scene. Use internal dialogue to communicate those things only the character knows.

Dialogue is a powerful tool for the writer, but it is only effective if it moves the action forward.

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, and in the One Million Project Fiction Anthology. Her Clare Thibodeaux Series which include the suspense books — EXODUS, WINTER’S ICY CARESS, and NEVER SHOW YOUR HAND are available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

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.


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.

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:


Ripples on the Pond

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.






A Hidden World ~~ by John Nedwill

A Hidden World ~~ by John Nedwill

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

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

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

Short stories are everywhere!

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

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

OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger.  His work can be found on 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.