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