Scars by K.V. Wilson

Scars by K.V. Wilson

Abby’s dark bangs scattered as she glanced over her shoulder, scanning the market for the source of the voice.

“Is this yours?” it persisted. An elderly man emerged from the crowd. In one hand, he cradled a shiny cerulean item.

“Oh, ye—” Abby’s voice broke as she glimpsed the state of her mother’s gift.

“My wife saw it fall from your bag. I didn’t think I could catch you—you’re so fast!” he panted, clutching at his side with his free hand.

Abby had eyes only for the bowl. It had split into three—no, four!—pieces.

Tears collected at the corners of her eyes and she reached up a sleeve to blot them away.

The bowl was blue and mottled like a robin’s egg. When Abby had first glimpsed the vessel, she knew she had to have it. She had saved up the lunch money her father had given her—every day that month—to finally purchase the little vessel for her mother’s birthday. Her mother was still in the hospital and had been for months. Abby hoped the bowl would cheer her up.

“Are you alright, child?”

She shook her head. “Thank you, but it’s nothing now.”

The elderly man squatted in front of her. She recognized his features, she realized: cropped dark hair, kindly eyes and small, ovular glasses. He was usually the one at the tiny shop offering the sesame balls and other treats.

Her mother – who was half-Japanese – adored the sweet desserts. She used to bring them home for Abby and her father—rewards for a long day at work and, in Abby’s case, middle school.

The man smiled kindly. “You’re one of Hina’s daughters.” It wasn’t a question.

Abby nodded. “It was for her. The bowl,” she choked out.

“I have something to show you. I think you’ll like it.”

Abby gazed up at the elderly man. A sparkle twinkled in his eye, causing her curiosity to pique. “I really don’t have money,” she admitted, “or else I would’ve bought all your desserts like mom used to.”

The elderly man chuckled. “It’s been a while since we’ve spoken, your mother and me.”

“She’s…in hospital.” Abby stared at the ground as she followed the old vendor. She didn’t know why she was following him. Perhaps it was because she had nothing else to do now that she had to come home empty-handed on her mother’s birthday. Perhaps it was because she wanted to know what the elderly man wanted to show her. She hoped he had good intentions. The summer street market was bustling with customers and tourists, however; if she had to, she would cry out.

“Your father told me a few months ago. I am sorry, Abby. I wish her a safe recovery.”

“Thanks,” she mumbled, too quietly for him to hear.

“You’ll have to wait here for a few minutes. My wife isn’t as spry as she used to be.” He chuckled again.

Abby glanced at him in confusion but he was already disappearing into the shop. She turned and smiled as she watched the lanterns bobbing in the breeze.

After a few minutes, the man’s wife emerged from the back of the shop, a small bottle of what looked like paint in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. She passed it to her husband as he came up beside her.

“May I?” the elderly gentleman asked, indicating the shards of blue porcelain.

Abby’s brows furrowed but she nodded. The man popped the lid of the paint bottle and dipped the brush in. He coated one edge of the broken bowl with an ample coat of paint and then pressed it onto its companion. He repeated this with the other portions.

“Kintsugi, they call it, Abby.”

He held up the completed bowl. Webs of intercrossed golden paint held together the pieces of porcelain.

“An old Japanese tradition. The art of precious scars.”

“I have something, too,” the vendor’s wife added, and before Abby could reply, she’d disappeared into the shop again.

The gentleman excused himself to help a customer. Abby used this time to examine the bowl. It was still beautiful, she realized, despite the fact that it was broken. The gold lacing was rather pretty.

And then the man was back at Abby’s side, gently testing the paint with his thumb. “It needs a bit longer to dry, but you must have to go soon.”

“Yeah.”

“You’ll need this, too. Put it in when the paint’s dry.” The elderly woman smiled, handing Abby a paper bag. “Tell Hina happy birthday from us.”

Abby beamed. “I will,” she said, peering inside. To her delight, the bag contained four sesame balls. “But I don’t have anything to give—”

“There’s no need. And look,” the old woman said gently, pointing at a vase in the window of the shop. From its mouth sprouted a couple of white lily buds, their stems intertwined.

As she took a step closer, Abby realized the vase was decorated with the same lines of golden paint, delicately applied so as to prolong the vessel’s life.

The gentleman said softly, “People are like this vase and bowl. They are delicate, but they are strong. Your mother will recover, especially when she has you and your father by her side.”

Abby left with the porcelain bowl and the paper bag. She couldn’t help but compare her family to the repaired bowl. By remaining together, they could conquer anything.


OMP Admin Note:  K.V. Wilson is a fantasy author obsessedkvwilson with mythology and culture. Born in Alberta, she currently lives in British Columbia, Canada, where she spends her spare time playing the piano, hiking, songwriting, and reading and writing stories. She is honoured to be a part of the One Million Project as an author and editor.

 

Website: http://www.kvwilsonauthor.ca/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spirits.kvwilson/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16644289.K_V_Wilson
Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/kv_wilson

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/K.V.-Wilson/e/B06XVZ3VPK/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

DEEP WATERS ~~ thoughts on my writing: its failings, its purpose, its promise ~~ by Melissa Volker

DEEP WATERS ~~ thoughts on my writing: its failings, its purpose, its promise ~~ by Melissa Volker

My published collection of short stories was born of a time in my early adulthood in Manhattan where I was single, sometimes lonely, always rebellious and beholden to no one but myself. My plummet into depths or lift into heights affected no one but me, and my desire to connect with the human condition in all its glory and despair led to much of both.

I yearned for intense understanding of what it is to be, to love — to love too hard or not enough — to long for more or wish for nothing, to see the world and those moving through it with x-ray empathy right into their core. It was simple (save for the sometimes crushing lows) for me to be raw, vulnerable, tough, crass, essentially with emotional and spiritual impunity because I was young, life an adventure more than reality, and mortality little more than fiction — or at least, an enemy to dare.

I look at portions of my recent writing and stare at pages full of blatant gaps and accusatory holes; it is often just skimming the surface of what I really mean, where I intended to go. It might be rich in language, moving and full of a certain truth, but it does not take the daring, unabashed leap into the brutal honesty that would make it…devastating. Enlightening. Real.

The words are there — purposeful, melodic, weighted with intent, but they are merely bobbers on the surface of a deep pool. They are fallen leaves of autumn in the current of a river — vibrant, lovely, slipping and spinning, carrying you away to an uncertain destination, the rush and momentum intoxicating…

But what about all that cool, dark water beneath where it is all plays of light and shadow, blades of sunlight slicing into its murky depth with selective illumination that create corresponding pillars of darkness.

That’s where I must go. To the pebbles and rocks on the bottom that cut your feet or sparkle in shafts of sunlight — to flip them over and reveal the multitude of life, death, and breathtaking beauty. I must dive down and cut my flesh on the sharp edges, releasing my blood into the water, or gather the bits of mica and pyrite hidden in the darkness and bring them to where their glitter reflects that of the sun on the ripples of the surface.

The leaves are lovely and bring melancholy contentment, troubled uncertainty, or simple peace, but they are not — all of it.

I must reach All Of It for the words to say what I mean.

Plumb the bottom where it’s dirty — where too much movement stirs up the silt and makes the water murky, thick, suffocating.

If I’m not reaching there, if I’m hovering only just beneath the surface, why is that?

Because life has changed and to delve into those waters requires a fearlessness that has waned.

Those truths are too possible — those pains, that loss, the trauma, that…death.

I am older, with a more complex life — one I am acutely aware could be damaged, maimed, gone even, in no more than a breath because the truth of life is that nothing is guaranteed.

So I cannot dive with fearlessness because I am fearful.

I know now that some wounds never heal. Some pain is too acute. Mortality is no longer a fiction.

Nothing is hypothetical, imaginative, speculative — they are all very possible realities. And to write them, to explore them through fictional lives with any semblance of genuine truth and honesty — with raw realness — I must experience them. Not in the living world — in the imaginative one. But if I do it with commitment (which I must for it to matter), it feels no different.

But there are nightmares there. Fodder for an anxious mind and sensitive heart.

And yet, it is also what has always, always driven the best words to the paper.

What has driven me to the paper.

I am reminded of the definition of courage: it is not acting without fear.

Courage is being afraid — and doing it anyway.

And when I have courage — I am a writer.

When I do not — I merely pretend.

So I look for courage — and I dive.


OMP Admin Note:  Melissa Volker is a writer and OMP Network member.  Melissa is one of our guest bloggers for the One Million Project website.

To learn more about Melissa and her work:

www.melissavolker.com

Twitter: @melvolker

Facebook: @mvolkerwordphoto

New Contemporary, surreal YA “How the Light gets In” out now!


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Home from Home?? ~~ by Christine Larsen

Home from Home?? ~~ by Christine Larsen

The first raindrops hadn’t registered in her ears or mind; so light and far between were they. Little more than a soft breeze drove them… at first.

Rachel peered out the window – even opened it slightly, hopeful of a welcome freshness. A cleansing, she thought. God knows how much we need that. And she imagined luxuriating in a hot shower instead of that hated yet strangely welcome ‘basin bath’. OK for Josh, with his typical young boy aversion to soap or anything that smelled clean! But not Penny. At this age, she’d take a contrary stance to Josh on anything and everything… and to most other boys as well.

The surrounding gloom dragged Rachel’s heart and soul down, deepened by the earliest light of day remaining hidden behind a vast, solid-looking wall of clouds. A quick glance at her old, trusty watch confirmed daylight was near. She smiled. You never let me down old friend.

A deafening clap of thunder drove all else from mind as the gentle thrumming abruptly changed tempo. Impossible to tell whether huge raindrops or hailstones were battering the bitumen stretching emptily away. Rachel’s mental meanderings washed away as cleanly as layers of dust from her family car.

I’ve always loved hearing rain on a roof, she thought. Always. But  I never thought we’d be hearing it quite like this.

 Her sadness and despair deepened. He’d threatened to take everything many times but she found herself refusing to accept a Liam so cruel, a break so brutal. This was not the man she’d married; the life they’d planned to build and share.

“And the children?” she’d asked, and heard her voice wearing an unfamiliar cloak of desperation. Surely parental love would sway him? But this stranger with Liam’s face refused to acknowledge feelings, reasoning, logic. Nothing moved him. He simply didn’t care.  His rejection was just as final for these children he’d fathered.

“They’ll be fine,” he continued as if having an everyday chat about shopping, or taking Josh to football practice, Penny to ballet class. “You’ll see to that. You always do.” Now his voice held an unexpected venom, as he grabbed her chin and shook it threateningly. An unpleasant, coppery taste filled her mouth, nearly quenching that newly found determination. You won’t hit me again… not now, not EVER again.

“You’re so bloody good at EVERYTHING, right?” But she wasn’t.  Especially when she discovered all their important documents bore only his name. Everything except clothing. Hers and their children’s.  Only a fraction of their possessions could come along to their gypsy-like existence – sleeping in the car, night after endless night as they waited… and waited for that  ‘emergency’ housing. Hmmph… some emergency! Tears of anger threatened the iron reserve of her public face. Alone whilst Penny and Josh slept through restlessness and an odd moan breaking through, she could drop her guard.

Abruptly, beads of sweat pearled Rachel’s lip as a shadow loomed outside the fogged up windows. Previously she’d left back windows open only inches to avoid giveaway signs of occupancy within their darkened car; a forlorn hope to not alert security guards. Last time, they were kind enough, but it was their job to move squatters on – even in the middle of a lonely night.

Now, Rachel dared not wipe the smallest peephole for fear of what she might discover only inches away. Elbows pressing into her sides, she tried making her body even smaller in a desperate attempt at concealment. Her grip tightened on the knife beneath her pillow, never slackening even when that shadow melted away. Had he really gone?  A major distrust of men now haunted her.

At last, Rachel’s eyes were forced into a kind of lockdown, after tearing up once too often from strained staring at elusive shapes that were mostly her imaginings. Her rest was never complete, always grabbed in fits and starts until the next foreign sound set off her personal alarm. Like little Josh’s beloved teddy bear, she figured –

‘Someone’s got to keep their eyes open all the time.’


OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire IMG_7208to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

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)

Homelessness Happens — by Christine Larsen

Homelessness Happens — by Christine Larsen

Homeless. What a desperately sad and empty word. Homeless. Hopeless. Sadly, I’m learning those two words are constant bedfellows. Never thought that’s the address I’d be filling in on those endless bloody welfare forms. Thought that was ‘owned’ by the crims and the druggies and other no-hopers. Didn’t give a thought to those who are left financially and mentally crippled by divorce and losing the family, the home and the job. Didn’t know how easy it was to lose the lot. Or how low that could bring a fellow.  Hmm… interesting words – ‘fell’ and ‘low’. Didn’t know just how low that was until I lost the respect of all I loved; how much I needed them; how ‘nothing’ I felt without them.

Would’ve thought one look at me would be proof enough. I try to keep up a semblance of cleanliness, decency and the like. But it’s damn difficult here on the streets with only the cracked and too often filthy basins in public toilets. Easier to clean one of them than risk the so-called ablution block – a favourite place for the drug-dogs to shoot up. AND leave their needles on the shower floor. If the busted up tiles don’t get you, the sharpies surely will. And a heap of other unsavoury types… don’t go there. Or to public ‘conveniences’ either. IF you have the luxury of choice!

Saw some headlines on a newstand yesterday – another homeless man found frozen where he tried to sleep overnight in an abandoned demolition site. Somewhere in the US of A, they said. This long and fierce cold snap of theirs is taking a terrifying toll of those doing it rough, they said.

Hmm… be grateful for small mercies, they tell us. And I am. I AM grateful for our balmy summer nights Downunder. And a chorus of other ‘down-on-their-luck’ types would chime in – if anyone with the ability to change things ever asked.

There was this bloke. Clever, well-to-do… once upon a time.  Did a story on him, they did. Heap of photos and a video too. Showed 24 hours of his life. He had it all sussed out pretty good actually. Gave me a few ideas to copy, sort of… you know? Like catching the longest line a bus or train takes, riding them to the end and back again. Get a bit of sleep there – well – lots of bits of sleep, actually. Out of the wind and rain on a bad night, bit of a breeze on a stifler. Can’t complain about that.

But one problem is the scourge of our Aussie summer – the heat of the day. Shopping malls are great. Air-conditioned and all, but there are always security guards watching and waiting to shuffle you on… none too gently, either. They recognise who you are. Like they can smell you.  Hmm… probably can, come to think of it.

So it’s back out on the streets – bitumen melting beneath the painfully thin soles of your shoes; shade at a premium – and again, you’re going to get moved on – sooner rather than later.

It’s bloody tough, you know. The good-hearted mob think of clothes and rugs to warm you when you’re down. But there are long, lonely months of heat where we need sunscreen and hats and shade and water. In dreams, you have a fridge with a jug of cold water that never runs dry and a bed that folds loving arms around you all night.

IF perchance you sleep long enough to dream!


OMP Admin Note:  Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

Christine can be found on –            IMG_7208

ceedee moodling

Wattpad

Tablo Publishing

Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Twitter

 

The Black Hole Of Pantser by Mark Huntley-James

The Black Hole Of Pantser by Mark Huntley-James

One of the big questions writers ask each other is “are you a plotter or a pantser?”  I know it doesn’t sound big, certainly not the most earth-shattering issue, but go on, dip your toe in this creative minefield and ask a writer whether they plan every detail before they write or just go for it. Just ask, if you dare.

I can see the appeal of plotting, the certainty, the sense of knowing where you’re going, but it just never works for me, so I’ve been a pantser since… forever. Now, suggest being a pantser to a dedicated plotter and put your fingers in your ears to block out the screams of anguish.

So, if you ask me, I’m a pantser, and proud of it. Simple, yes? What could possibly go wrong?  OK, that’s a much bigger question.

Last year I got sucked into the Black Hole Of Pantser – a murky Shadowland of creativity. I knew how my story started (I was a third of the way in, after all), and I knew how it needed to end. I’d just written a crazy scene that tied my flawed hero in more knots than a troop of boy scouts could ever undo in one lifetime. It was wonderful, completely crazy, and I could see the ending in the distance… just one more step… wait… who turned my lights out?

The friable subsoil of my plot crumbled under my feet and dropped me into a black hole, the chasm between where I had reached and where I needed to finish. I had no idea what came next. I didn’t even have a spare box of matches to set fire to my fingers. If I were Indiana Jones, there would be snakes as well.

Anyone else down here? Hello? It’s lonely in the Black Hole of Pantser.

I did the only thing I could think of – logged on to my favourite writing community and screamed for help. I wasn’t looking for an actual answer, just fellow writers to say the necessary things:  there, there, I’m sure it will be fine; put the coffee on; try writing a plot outline.

Nobody had the answer, but that wasn’t the point. I was stuck. I needed an open space (other than the black hole) where I could scream frustration and not get escorted away by qualified medical professionals. I needed people who understood.

Then I went and wrote some more. Any old rubbish. What my hero did next, minute by minute. How often did he trip over his own feet? How many books on knots could he find in the library?  Write and write, until I could see light.

I wrote my way around the Black Hole and accidentally backed into the Cave of Random Rubbish. It’s amazing what you can find in there, and even the gloom of the Hole looks bright in comparison…  And there, under a tatty piece of inspiration, was a big tub of Expanding Plot Hole Filler, more than enough to patch over the gap and take me all the way to the ending.  (Oh, and according to the packet, it contained 90% Completely Bonkers, so that was perfect for me.)

Now, if only I had a plan, I would never have got into that mess. Would never have spent an hour or two online, sharing woes and jokes with other writers. Would never have had the pleasure of finding my unexpected way out of the hole over the course of several days “writing blind”.

If only I had a plan, I would be a completely different writer.

Plotter or pantser? An apparently trivial question that is intricately entwined in how we create. Go on, ask the question, and be prepared for a long, long answer.

This trivial big question is like being left or right handed. Liking or loathing marmite.  It’s twisted tightly through the core of the writer’s creative heartland.

Go on, ask the question.


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 Fiction Anthology

One Million Project Fiction 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. PhotoFunia-1517878513(1)

This anthology contains a variety of fictional works, poetry and even a few non-fictional stories. Step back in time to 1746 with author Sheena Macleod’s Ghosts of Culloden a haunting tale of the last battle fought on Scottish soil. If you have ever considered your dog to be a member of the family, you will cry your heart out when you read Fluffy by Tyke Evenese. I love the poetry of James Cleveland Turner, a former CIA officer whose short story in rhymed verse is similar in style to the rhyming verses of Doctor Seuss.  Mother Hoodie will give you something you never felt when reading a Doctor Seuss story — goosebumps.

I can promise you that One Million Project Fiction Anthology has more than its share of stories that will transport you back centuries in time or maybe just to your childhood. Stories that will make you feel sadness and loss, the tender emotion of new love, or have you laughing at the banter between characters.  This collection of stories brings writers from around the globe who provide the reader with an escape from the daily grind.

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: Tom Walburn, Lavinia Leigh, James Cleveland Turner, David Butterworth, Melissa Volker, Jason Greenfield, Sheena Macleod, Patsy Jawo, Riya Bhattacharya, Tyke Evenese, Debra Goelz, Art Dunham, Dawn Barton, Darcy Lundeen, Meixia, Sue Hart, James Loughlin, Michael Walsh, D. J. Meyers, T. E. Bradford, C.L. Henderson, Kate McGinn, Nicole Bea, Steven J. Clark, Christine Larsen, Lorraine Reed, Andrew R. Nixon, Paul Westley, Zoe Mitchell, Nancy PS Hopp, JJ Kendrick, Emma L. Thomson, Michele Potter, Jason Cook, Diane Dickson, Lindsey-Jane Doley, Michelle Kidd, Geraldine Renton, George A. McLendon,  and Suzanne Milne

Compiling Editor: Jason GreenfieldIMG_6873

OMP: Fiction Editors: Sue Hart & K.V. Wilson

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/Fiction

myBook.to/Thriller

myBook.to/Fantasy


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

 

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