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.

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KUKTYFQ

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1473258097&sr=1-2-ent


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

 

Fear of the Unknown~~by Kate McGinn

Fear of the Unknown~~by Kate McGinn

“You need surgery.” Those words can spark a jumble of emotions in someone. Even someone with three decades of experience in the nursing profession. How many times have I recited the risks of a surgical procedure to the people in my care prior to their own surgeries? They have been too many times to count.

The same feelings of uncertainty can be felt with any illness or medical procedure. We silently wonder at what will be found and how it will affect our daily lives. We worry about how our family will cope if we are unable to work or perform the daily tasks they depend on us to complete for them. In today’s fast-paced world our families are busy and spread out across the country. A health complication might mean a stay in a rehabilitation center or care center if the patient needs assistance during their recovery.

When you read this blog, I will be in surgery having a total knee replacement. It’s a commonplace surgery and has been performed since the Sixties, but when it’s your surgery that feels different. My unknown future and the lack of control are at the top of my list of worries.

As we progress through life, we face challenges and need to make decisions regarding our futures. We have some control over those decisions, but the outcomes are not guaranteed. You can do everything right and still not attain your goal. When you place your life and your health in the hands of the medical staff, you give up some of that control.

You can pick your doctor, your hospital and can make the decision to have the procedure. You can do background checks to see if the medical center has a good rating and your physician is certified and has a good reputation, but you can’t control the randomness of life.

I often recite two sayings and these little ditties guide my general philosophy of life. They are: It is what it is and If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. The first one is a cliché that might imply you don’t think you can fix the issues in your life, but to me, it means that sometimes life has moments where the only control you have is over your response. The second phrase coined by Woody Allen reflects on how something can still come to pass despite all we do to prevent such an outcome.

How am I dealing with my pending surgery? I have my will and health care power of attorney completed. I’m eating as healthy as I can, doing the isometric exercises my physician recommended prior to surgery, and I’m keeping a positive attitude.

My positive attitude is all I really have control over now, during and after.


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 — 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. And also on “The Stories We Tell” podcast on Google Play, Libsyn, Spotify, and http://www.paulsating.com/the-stories-we-tell

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KUKTYFQ

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1473258097&sr=1-2-ent

https://www.katemcginn.com/


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

Lost Weekends ~~ by John Nedwill

Lost Weekends ~~ by John Nedwill

If this blog entry is posted when I think it is going to be, then you shall be reading this just as I am recovering from a rather busy weekend. There are some of you who may remember how, in a previous post, I wrote about being a role-player and boardgamer. Well, I am not alone.

One of the ways that role-players and boardgames get to meet others involved in the hobby is by going to conventions – and the UK has a thriving convention scene. There are conventions every month. Indeed, there are times of the year when there seem to be conventions every week! And the biggest one has just taken place at the NEC in Birmingham. I am writing about the UK Games Expo.

The UK Games Expo usually takes place over three days during the first weekend in June. It is the largest gaming convention in the UK. It is probably the largest dedicated gaming convention in Europe (the Essen Games Fair is bigger, but is almost exclusively a traders’ show), and it is a serious rival to GenCon Indy in the USA. For three days, tens of thousands of gamers come from across the UK and Europe. They congregate at the NEC to shop, trade, meet, greet, with gamer-themed shows, go to seminars and – most importantly! – game. There is plenty of that at UK Games Expo: demonstration games, tournaments, organised play sessions and thousands of seats for people to bring along and play their own games.

The convention does not run itself. It relies on a small army of unpaid volunteers to man reception desks, patrol the trade halls, run gaming sessions, set up rooms …  The list goes on. Many of the volunteers are there for the whole weekend, working hard to make sure that the people who have paid to come to the convention have a good time. But, because the volunteers work hard throughout the convention, they rarely get to see what is going on. Still, there is no shortage of people willing to give up their free time for others. The rewards we get (Yes – I’m one of the volunteers) are intangible but worth it. We get to be part of something big. We get the satisfaction of having contributed something to a greater enterprise. We have been the ambassadors for something we are passionate about. We have made a difference.

That’s the thing about volunteering. No matter who we are or what we do, any one of us can make a difference by giving up some of our time to volunteer. Our contribution can be small or large. We can be an organiser or a cog in something bigger. It doesn’t matter, so long as we make a difference.


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


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

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

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

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

One Small Pair of Hands ~~ by Christine Larsen

One Small Pair of Hands ~~ by Christine Larsen

More often than not the odds against one person making a difference in this large blue planet of ours look insurmountable. But now and then a singular soul emerges and the world is changed – sometimes slowly, but always definitely and often, even dramatically.

One such who springs to mind was a woman of exceptional caring abilities. Undaunted by the death, destruction and despair faced by the recipients of so-called medical care, she totally ignored opposition by friends and the refined life she’d been raised to live by her wealthy family and willingly obeyed her own passionate gut feelings about cleanliness and nursing. Her oft-quoted creed was –

Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.

She was the Lady with the Lamp. Not the one in New York. This precious carer-cum-angel of mercy would shine her special light on the other side of the world – in the Russian Crimea, in the midst of a war between Allied British and French forces against the Russian Empire. Her name was Florence Nightingale and she changed the face of nursing and hospitalisation with her single-minded obsession to rewrite medical care.  Little wonder the British Secretary of War had personally requested her to assemble a corps of special nurses and guide them through best ministrations in the Crimea.

A base principle – indeed the first requirement she demanded of a hospital was that it ‘should do the sick no harm’. Sounds reasonable, even slightly ridiculous to need to state such an obvious premise… but yesterday’s conventional medical wisdom offered little protection against infection to the thousands of soldiers admitted to military medical care. The truth was, more died from infectious diseases than from their battle injuries. The reviled Scutari, the British base hospital where Florence and her lady crew were assigned, was built above a cesspool contaminating the rationed water. Rodents and bugs were attracted to the barely bandaged patients laying in their own excrement on bloodied bedding.

Florence, her corps of female nurses AND the least infirm patients set to work scrubbing the hospital from floor to ceiling. Her newly established laundry made her demands for soap and hot water for the clean bandages and bed linens legendary. Soon this was matched by her dogged insistence on appealing food for all and the satisfying of dietary needs for many.  In her mind, the classroom and library she created were incidentals by comparison, and yet no less important to this shining example of the benefits of education and voracious reading. And through it all, she would make her nightly rounds, lamp held high, tirelessly offering compassion and hope. In an amazingly short time span, Florence reduced the death rate of Constantinople’s Base Hospital by two-thirds. Little wonder the battle-worn and torn soldiers called her ‘The Angel of the Crimea’’.

Granted royal recognition and honour, plus $250,000 from the British Government, Florence used the money to establish the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. At last, nursing would be judged an honourable vocation suitable for inclusion in the proper upbringing of well-bred young women. Florence Nightingale’s massive research published reports and proposed reforms influenced and rewrote medical textbooks and nursing practice forever.

I look at my hands, often commented on about their smallness… and I’m humbled and challenged.

One small pair of hands CAN most certainly make a difference.

The Lady of the Lamp is the ultimate proof.


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.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

IMG_7208

 

 – 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

 

Will It ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

Will It ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

I was taught to wear a seat-belt by a chap called Reg White. Some forty-plus years ago, he drove me to school, along with his son and my sister. Cars came with seat-belts factory-fitted by then, but wearing them did not become a legal requirement in the UK until after I left school. The lesson was a trivial car crash – no more than a few miles an hour, rolling into the vehicle in front in stop-start traffic. My memory is hazy, but I don’t think either vehicle was damaged. My head, however, smacked off the windscreen pretty damn hard.

It only took one lesson.

I’ve not thought of that in years and was reminded by a recent drive to Plymouth for a hospital appointment, and buying a new toilet. Ordinary, everyday stuff, but on the way, we passed a friend’s house, which set a whole train of thought going, all the way back to Reg White.

We have an old Volvo sitting in our paddock. It did good service for nearly twenty years until it got too difficult and too expensive to pass the annual emissions test, the power-steering was becoming unpowered and the gearbox required a mix of good fortune and brute force to select the desired gear. We ought to get rid of it, but there is a certain sentimental attachment – we went everywhere in that Volvo, frequently packed to the roof with camping kit, and even slept in the back for short events. As it turns out, the back of a Volvo 740 Estate is about two inches too short for me to lie comfortably but easier than pitching a tent for one night.

The Volvo is in our will, a bequest to the friends on the road to Plymouth, a bit of posthumous housekeeping, or paddock tidying. That clause is redundant now, as the Volvo-fanatic friend on the road to Plymouth died a year or more back.  That set me wondering how many more of our odd bequests will pre-decease us?

There were a few of those in my Mother’s will. I don’t think she ever actually told my sister or myself that we were her executors, so it was a bit of a surprise after she died that we had to go and pick up the will from her solicitor. It was all quite straightforward, the bulk of her estate divided up amongst family, but like our own wills, there were redundant bequests, including Reg.

One of the last times we saw Reg was small get-together we hosted – my family, some friends of my partner, Reg and his wife. He was already ill by that point, prostate cancer held at bay, and not noticeably unwell. He tucked into the chicken in cream, almond and mushroom with enthusiasm (Reg was a bit of a foodie before the word was invented) and then had a portion of the vegetarian option. His prospects were good – prostate cancer is often slow – but his proved aggressive and unpleasant in the extreme.

So there it is, a train of memories back to a lesson in seat-belts from a man I remember as generous with time and tales, patient and devoted, and a life cut short.


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 http://writeedge.blogspot.co.uk, his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.


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

 

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 Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.


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

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

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

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

At the Closing of the Day ~~ by Christine Larsen

At the Closing of the Day ~~ by Christine Larsen

Hallo old friend,

Or is this goodbye?

You’ve fought so valiantly for so long, but the experts agree this could be one battle too many for your poor tired body.

Of course, experts have been wrong before. Miracles have happened. You’re the living proof of that… so far.

Those closest who’ve shared precious time with you say they’ve never seen your spirit so low. You must be SO tired.

It sounds like one part of you wants to once more rise up and fight the good fight; spit in the eye of anything that dares get in the way of you living Life to its fullest, extracting every last drop of loving and laughing to be found in the world around you.

So it has always been. This is the way you have lived your days, when the going was tougher than any should have to expect.

But I hear your voice in my heart, dear one, and though I don’t want to accept your words, I understand. This is one mountain too high, one ocean too deep, one more journey than your poor body can bear, with the terrible burden of your disease rising up everywhere this time.

A poetic soul suggested we not go quietly into that good night; that we should burn and rave and rage against the closing of our day. I’m sure this is true for some, dear one. But not you. Not this time. You’ve been there, done all that. Especially when you had to accept the terrible genetic factors dictating your path; the one you could no more control than you could change despite your heroic efforts.

Those who love you suffer too, imagining being without you. It’s so hard to let go… too hard for some whose hearts are breaking.

Life will teach them the lessons learned by other mourners. Those others who have suffered the worst losses before, now able to accept the moment has arrived when all choices are history. Those others who have found a way through their grieving to celebrate memories of a wonderful life [and you would be the first to say a much longer life than ever expected].

Time has come to say goodbye… but only for a while. I believe we have a date over the Rainbow Bridge, for starters. And then…?

We’ll see, dear one. We’ll just wait and see.

Until then, with the greatest love and thanks for being my friend…… I whisper goodbye, God speed.

Christine


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.

IMG_7208

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

 

A Good Idea ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

A Good Idea ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

I have a head full of good ideas, or at least they look superb provided they stay in my head.  It’s like when we have to take our huge fluffy cat to the vet for his recurring eye problem – in the controlled environment there, he stays still, perhaps purrs, and eye-drops go in.  Away from the vet, in the wilds of our kitchen, he wriggles, wails and scratches, defying the firm embrace of a towel and ensures that most of the eye-drops land on the floor, in his ear, in my eye… anywhere except where they are supposed to go.

Good ideas are just like that from the moment I let them out of my head.  In fact, even the rubbish ideas do the same.  The moment I want to wrap words around them, the ideas wriggle, bite and scratch so that what comes out is nothing like that perfect, purring super-good idea that was in my head.

So, what’s the problem? Was the idea faulty, or just the words I dressed it in?  And why did I ask the question the wrong way round? The fault, dear Reader, is not in my ideas, but in my writing.

You know, I’m sure I’ve heard something like that before. Never mind. Back to The Idea…

The good (or even great) idea is an illusion. Hold up a great idea to a mirror and see its reflection, the equally mythical original idea.

How about this one? Girl meets boy, their families disapprove, everyone dies.  I can see it in my head.  The killer line – Romeo, Romeo, where’s your damned hashtag?  Are people going to be still quoting me in four hundred years, or is my work destined to be composted at the bottom of the slush-pile from hell? Perhaps if I come up with a killer name for the girl, it will work, and maybe throw in a really posh location to draw in the audience – that might make it a winner. I’m thinking Helen sounds good, and I’ll set it in a great ancient city, something like Troy… then the family disapproval, a big war, and everyone dies…

Once you start poking at it, people have been telling stories for thousands of years with a basic plan of boy meets girl… and everyone dies. Or hero goes out, slays the monster and marries the girl. Or… well, there’s a good catalogue of great ideas that storytellers have been taking and recycling over the centuries. Ooh, no wait, what about pauper child turns out to be the rightful king…

It’s not the idea that matters, but the words. That’s the real point of being a writer – finding the right words to wrap an idea and make it ready to face the world, fresh and bright, new and interesting enough that people will be amazed at what you can do with boy meets girl and they work together to create mass slaughter.

The great idea that looked so good in my head is really an expertly photo-shopped super-model, and the trick is to get it out and ready for the world, new clothes, new style, strutting its stuff down the literary catwalk.

Forget the great idea – go stitch your words into a great presentation.


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 http://writeedge.blogspot.co.uk, his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.


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

 

Reading for Fun, or Not ~~ by Michele Potter

Reading for Fun, or Not ~~ by Michele Potter

 

Quite often, I like to take a break from writing to do some pleasure reading. Having loved books for as long as I can remember, I can’t imagine a world without them. My preferences run the gamut: thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, dramas, sagas, historical epics, even young adult or erotica. I love nothing better than a compelling story, breathtaking imagery, and a brilliant turn of phrase, no matter the genre.

However, there is one thing that stops me cold in my tracks, like a boulder in the road. That is editing: misspelled or misused words, bad formatting, and terrible grammar. I have started reading books that showed great promise but ended up never finishing them. Poorly edited books make me want to get my red pen out!

The worst part is, my proofreading obsession has spilled over into other areas. I find problems in newspapers, magazines, billboards, and menus. Emails and social media posts are not immune to my scrutiny, either. One time, I had to leave a restaurant because their shiny menus had “hambruger,” “patato,” and “costomer” printed for all to see. My friends and family laugh at my zealousness. Strangers, however, do not always react so well.

Of course, my background has something to do with being a grammar nazi. I have a degree in English and Education, worked in publishing, and spent a lot of years as a freelance copyeditor. But I believe my wanting to have the written word correctly written has always been with me. In seventh grade, I advised my science teacher that he had misspelled photosynthesis on a test. He didn’t appreciate my calling him out in front of the class, especially because I didn’t know what photosynthesis was. Science was my least favorite subject, but at least I knew how to spell the terms.

All this ranting has a point. Trust me. I know there are others like me. If you are publishing and want as many people as possible to read your heartfelt words, please check and recheck. Do your spellcheck, grammar check, have someone proofread/edit, and then read it out loud again. Don’t let a great story get tossed away by muddling it up with clumsy editing.

Also, if I have mistakes in this blog, please feel free to point them out. None of us are perfect. I am always interested in ways to improve my writing; while I also want you to be the best that you can.

Happy writing and don’t forget to read!


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

 

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