Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Took ages to find him. I’d ask at writer’s conferences, libraries, weird old book-stores. Searched online. Most said Thoth quit, he’d died, never existed. Or sold out to Amazon, was running a bed-and-breakfast in Thebes. I gave up. One more god crossed off the list.

Then at a bus stop I notice this bag lady reading ‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’. I don’t usually talk to strangers, but that book? It’s like the first fantasy novel game-manual. We chatted, she dropped a few crazy hints, then trundled her shopping cart away. The wheels squeaked like harpies giggling.

So I found the god of writing. In New York, in the alley back of the Random House offices. I don’t think that was irony. The spot happened to be sheltered from the wind, with a good steam-vent and dumpsters stuffed with slush-pile rejects you could read or toss into the trash-barrel flames. Pretty sure one of those manuscripts was mine. I always print my submissions on ivory paper; expensive but gives the MSS an old-scroll feel. Not that editors even send a reject email. Snobs.

Thoth was a tall guy in a couple of coats, a ragged hoody, long beak of a nose sticking out. He wasn’t alone. Fellow homeless stood around, warming hands, debating the worth of what they found in random pages of manuscripts before tossing them to the fire. A lady wearing ten sweaters hummed in Greek; she might have been Thalia, Muse of Poetry. But mortal or deity, we stood together staring into the flames, listening to city sounds: sirens and cars, trains, planes and the eternal wind.

At length I asked Thoth: how did it all begin? Not what was the first story; but why had some lunatic made up that first tale? He took his time answering. As the gods do, when they answer at all. At last he spoke, in whisper low and sing-song as the wind.

“It began just like this. A circle of lonely eyes staring into flames. Hunger in the belly, fears for the dark beyond firelight’s edge. A circle of survivors who saw no story in life but this: eat till you are eaten. And then, and then… some conjunction of thought and sound and heartbeat came. I remember far-off a wolf howled, while fire-wood shifted, sending sparks to the stars. And a sick child coughed. And some man or woman began talking to the flames. Someone who felt suddenly filled with wonder, yet drowning in worry. Wonder for the joy that is this life, and worry for the sick child. Who’d feed them, fend away the wild dogs? And when it became their own turn to be sick, to fall behind in the hunt? What then?

“And so the first story came. Words out the mouth. With plenty of hand gestures, I recall. I forget the tale itself. Some tangle about a forest, a spear and a monster that could only be defeated by a tribe working together. A hunter, a farmer, a pot-maker, and a funny dog who kept stealing the scenes. A mess that needed blessing from the Muse of Editing. It seemed an absurd waste of breath to those practical survivors about the fire. And yet… the idea stuck. Caught, as fire does. They had a vision of a united tribe, caring for one another. Life as a tale finding meaning not in surviving, but in helping to live.

“You ask what was the seed of that first tale? Caring. At least concern. But give credit to the dancing flames, the circling dark and the wolf-howl wind. Most of all to the heart’s cry that life must be more than sparks rising, vanishing, gone.”

I stood there silent, weighing Thoth’s words. Not the first time someone has claimed the origin of storytelling is in the heart’s tangles, not the brain’s wrinkles. Nor that the highest stories turn our heads from the pages, to look at one another with new eyes, with opened minds. Bit old fashioned, I suppose. I’d expected something more grim-dark, but perhaps that’s a style for a darker age.

I was just about to ask the God of Literature if he’d review my new work-in-progress but the cops came, blowing whistles. They put out the trash-barrel fire. Arrested the Muse for being an illegal, confiscated my manuscript though I explained it hadn’t even had a chance to be tossed to the trash yet. My third tazing over a review this year. The rest scattered. Haven’t seen Thoth since.

But I like to think he has a high opinion of the One Million Project.


OMP Admin Note: Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas. A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.


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

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

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

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

The Beauty Is In the Eye of the Author ~~ by Nera Hart

The Beauty Is In the Eye of the Author ~~ by Nera Hart

Everyone knows that thing that authors often say, you know, the one about how much harder it is to write when you start to realise how much work goes into the little technicalities, besides simply telling a story?

Yes, that thing. It is true, by the way. The more I know about writing the harder I find writing.

I have to edit, edit and edit again. And I always worry that when someone, who knows these things, reads my finished work they’ll think I haven’t edited it at all.

The commas, the cheesy words, or worn out phrases, the overuse of certain words, colons, hyphens, or not indenting the first sentences of your paragraphs…

Phew, I’ve got a headache writing these and that’s not even scratching the surface.

But, today it just dawned on me after moaning about all this to another writer, that yes, it is so much harder to write when you’ve learned about all the things that can go wrong for your work, but… I can also hear the beautiful monologues, dialogues, and narratives everywhere!!!

I can appreciate good discussion points, statements, freakouts or conversations of love anywhere and everywhere I hear them. Whether it is on TV or during the conversations  I overhear outside my children’s school or in some well-written dramas, some sentences are so beautiful it brings me nearly to tears!

And, this is without what I’m reading.

The world of words, as hard as it is, is also absolutely jam-packed with beauty, and we, my distinguished colleagues, are so lucky to have the knowledge to appreciate it.

Let’s bring out the beautiful. It is what we do, after all.


Nera Hart is writing poetry, short fiction and in a process of writing her first crime fiction novel.

She writes in two languages, English and Croatian, and image1her ambition is to translate the classic Croatian novels into the English language.

Nera became involved in The One Million Project recently.

Nera runs a Facebook group ‘Quills And Parchments’, in which book lovers and authors socialise.

You can find Nera and her work at:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1778050345825324

https://my.w.tt/2Jb4T1zLzL

Twitter- @nerahart

 

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

 

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

Courage by Michele Potter

Courage by Michele Potter

Recently I toured one of the last fully operational landing ships from World War II. My father was a WWII veteran, and I was always interested in the history of that era.

I walked into the bay area, where tanks and other military equipment were once off-loaded. Incredibly, after more than a half-century, I could almost feel the presence of the young soldiers who had occupied the ship. I walked through the spartan, 4-hammock-high berth area and could easily imagine them resting, playing cards, smoking cigarettes, and passing the time “in between.” On the top deck, IMG_9926I gravitated to the big gun mounts strategically arranged. Through the sites, I could see the steeple of a church downtown. Each gun was manned by five men, the guide explained, and each had a specific duty. Imagine the terror of trying to aim and shoot effectively while being shot at, the sounds of screaming and explosions all around.

Courage under fire. Maintaining one’s inner fortitude while trying to stay alive. Most of us, thankfully, have never had to experience that kind of horror. But could we have survived? Would I?

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately. I suppose it comes from growing older, losing people, and coming to grips with my own weaknesses or strengths. One of the ultimate tests of courage is that shown in life-or-death situations. People who put their own lives on the line to save others, such as fire and rescue workers, law enforcement, emergency medical techs, etc., have my utmost respect. Would I put myself in danger to save a loved one? Yes, of course. But would I do so for a stranger? That I’m not so sure of. I’m not all that selfless.

Some people I’ve known, many of them gone now from this earth, had a different kind of courage. Despite being in pain, debilitated with disease or illness, they exuded awe-inspiring grace and bravery. I think of my mother, who suffered from multiple maladies that she didn’t discuss, yet always worried about how I was doing. Selfish as I was, I seldom asked how she was doing. Of course, she wouldn’t have told me the truth if I had. Or my uncle, who told jokes at his own expense right up until the bitter end. He loved to make people laugh and planned his own services with that in mind. How tough does one have to be, to know death is near and basically laugh at it?

I think of other relatives and friends who smile, don’t fuss or whine, while they suffer from the misery of cancer. They look forward to each day as a precious gift. While I, in decent health, often look at the darkest part of life, bringing sadness to myself when I should be happy. And glad to be alive.

I think I need to say, out loud if necessary, that I am glad to be alive. And like the Wizard of Oz lion, I know I have courage inside me. We all have the will to survive, sometimes against great odds. Sometimes it takes a great deal of strength just to get up and face the day.

Stay strong, my friends. Be like the lion if necessary.


OMP Admin Note: Michele Potter 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.

Michele is an incredibly diverse and talented writer who I hope will collect her short stories and make them available on Amazon someday soon. In the meantime, her story PERCEPTIONS is available in the guest author section of the flash fiction anthology BITE SIZE STORIES VOLUME ONE.

https://www.amazon.com/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=la_B00CBFLI1W_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095358&sr=1-4

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095546&sr=1-1


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

 

Summer Holidays ~~ by John Nedwill #OMP Blogger

Summer Holidays ~~ by John Nedwill #OMP Blogger

As I’m writing this entry for the OMP blog, it’s summertime. This is the time of year when, traditionally, people go on their main holiday of the year. For some people, the holiday is something to be planned in meticulous detail, from the destination to the activities for the day. For others, a holiday is more of an ad hoc thing, where they go somewhere on a whim and do whatever takes their fancy.

Then, there are those of us who fall between the two. I’m one of those people who has to block out their holidays in advance. The demands of work mean that I have to negotiate what dates I can go away. However, when I actually get to my destination, I rarely have any plans as to what to do.  Unless I am going somewhere for a specific reason (it happens!), I prefer to take each day as it comes. I rarely make plans for more than a day in advance.

You see, for me, a holiday is a chance to get away and recharge my mental batteries. I like to wander, following my instincts and senses. It gives me a chance to discover things and to do things that I want to do, without having to worry about anything more taxing than where I am going to stop for lunch. It also gives me time to sit and contemplate the world.

My holiday tactics have served me well so far. I have stood on the rocks at Carrick-a-Rede, watching dolphins playing in the bay. I have climbed to the very top of the lantern in Saint Paul’s Cathedral and seen the City of London spread out below me. My wanderings have taken me to the otaku shrine in the Akihabara and the Imperial Gardens to see the cherry blossoms. And, everywhere I have gone, I have taken my notebooks and pens with me, so I can write down the things I have seen and the emotions I have experienced, and I can then use them in my stories. Sometimes I even take pictures (!), but words are the way I express myself best.

So, when you go on your holidays, what are you going to do? What are you going to see? Whatever you do end up doing, just stop for a moment and try to remember it through the lens of your writing.


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.


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

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

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

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

The Cultural Bridge

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

img_1838

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are the walls that need to be knocked down!

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

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

Moinak Das
(with special thanks to Sharon Rhoads)

The Cultural Bridge

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

 

Finding Talents!

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

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

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

“Yes, she was right!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

@moinakdas

http://inkofimagination.wordpress.com