Enjoy Your Isolation! Seriously!

It’s easy to focus on what we’re not allowed to do right now. Concerts and sporting events have been cancelled. Kids are missing out on birthday parties. Weddings are being postponed. It’s a little scary just to go to the grocery store.

But social distancing and staying at home doesn’t have to be a bad thing! I stay home most of the time, but even for me there’s suddenly a lot more time on my hands now that school is out. I’m going to do my best to enjoy it, and so can you.

1. Do That Thing You Always Wanted to Do – How many times have you said you were going to write a book? Or start a blog? Or learn to play that guitar you bought? There’s no better time than now, and we’re incredibly lucky that we have the internet to help us along.

2. Love on Your Pet – Our animals are probably thrilled about all this time with their humans! Teach your dog a new trick, brush your cat, or tame that bearded dragon! It’ll make them feel good, and it might just make you feel a little less anxious about what’s going on in the world.

3. Get Caught Up – Okay, so maybe this part isn’t quite as enjoyable for some. Personally, I really like having a clean house, but I don’t always have the time to make it happen. This is a great time to get caught up on all those laundry, dishes, and dusting!

4. Deep Cleaning – I really think this deserves a category of it’s own. Again, maybe not fun for everyone, but once you’ve organized that sock drawer you’ll never go back. Binge watch some Marie Kondo, and then start a stack of stuff to get rid of! (Just maybe hold onto those old t-shirts in case you can’t get any more toilet paper.)

5. Rebuild Your Relationship – We’re all stuck inside together, right? Dates at home can be just as romantic as going out, and they’re a lot cheaper! Have a candlelit dinner with some good music. Snuggle up on the couch and rewatch your favorite movie. There are plenty of possibilities!

6. Spend Time with Your Kids – Have you noticed how much time you’re saving by not having to pick them up from all their extracurriculars? Use that time to play board games, read books together, or have a family meeting. There are lots of museums and zoos offering free virtual tours, which could also be great to check out together.

7. Cooking – Have you always wanted to make bread from scratch? You’ve got the time, and you won’t have to go to the store!

8. Treat Yourself – Paint your toenails. Give yourself a facial. Tweeze your eyebrows. Take a long bath with a good book. You deserve some peace and relaxation, and you might as well get it in now.

9. Read! – Is your bookshelf groaning with volumes you haven’t touched? Are you longing to revisit the classics but never have time? It’s time to read! I’ll have a free book available each week for about the next month, and I know many other authors are doing the same thing.

10. Spread Love Without the Germs – You might be staying home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t call, message, and videochat your friends and loved ones. Get connected and catch up!

Yes, things are different, but we don’t have to hate it. We can deal with this, and we’ll get through it! Don’t forget to wash your hands!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Let This Be a Lesson to Us

It’s difficult not to think about COVID-19 right now. Life is changing for us, and even though that change is only temporary it’s potentially huge. Kids are out of school, people are working from home (where they can), and we’re concerned about the supply chain. Since we don’t have a time machine to undo all this, I hope we at least use this crisis to learn a little.

1. Disaster Preparedness – I’ve heard plenty of PSA’s about disaster preparedness over the last few years. I always think it’s a great idea, but it leaves my mind soon afterwards. We can come up with all sorts of excuses (finances, time, storage space), but the reality is that we need to be ready in case something happens. Take this time to evaluate your emergency kit to make sure you and your family (and pets!) will be taken care of. No, you might not be able to stock up on much right now, but you can certainly make a list.

It’s not that bad, right?

2. Working from Home – There are far more companies who offer flexible schedules and work from home opportunities than there used to be, but I hope this time will show both employers and employees how much they can get done remotely. This could be extremely beneficial for all concerned, especially those with families. Which also brings to mind…

3. Corporate and School Sick Policy – All of a sudden it’s okay to call in at work, but we all know it wasn’t like that. You had to be on death’s door to call in. The company needed you, and they’d much rather you come in and spread your germs to customers and other employees than stay home in bed. Schools weren’t any better, offering perfect attendance contests and prizes that had ill children determined to get to school. Yes, there’s always a concern of people abusing the system, but we need to be a little smarter. Wash your hands and stay home when you’re sick, no matter if we’re worried about a pandemic or not!

4. Believing Everything You Read Online (and then sharing it!) – Right as the U.S. started to fear COVID-19, a Facebook post showing the back of a Lysol container began circulating. It had coronavirus circled on the back and claimed this disease was nothing new. When I saw it, I immediately went to the CDC’s website to check it out for myself. I think we all know the truth now (that COVID-19 is within a larger family of coronaviruses), but now misinformation in general continues to spread. This makes it impossible to know what to believe. I’m not just talking about social media here, either. If your news comes from a site that’s obviously slanted toward a religion or political party, then it’s biased.

5. We’re Not Superman – Here in the U.S., it’s easy to believe we aren’t vulnerable. We’ve been on top for a long time. We have good lives, especially compared to many other places in the world. But we’ve come to rely on those good times of abundance to such an extent that many people don’t know how to deal with the threat of it breaking down. I really think we need to evaluate our vulnerability and see what we could do to improve it.

I’m definitely not saying the pandemic is a good thing, but if we have to deal with it then we might as well learn. Some of these ‘extreme’ measures we’re putting into place might give us great benefits by becoming the norm, and if we don’t learn our lesson then we’re doomed to repeat it.

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My most recent short story, Immunization, is available free for a limited time on Amazon!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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New Free eBook is Live!

My latest short story is currently available through Kindle for free!  Immunization is a quick read that explores and pokes at some of our fears in this strange time as we try to find the balance between overreacting and not doing enough.  (This is purely for entertainment purposes, so please don’t take any of it too seriously.)  It’s free through the 22nd, so grab your copy and be sure to leave me a review!

You can also check out my other Amazon books while you’re there!  This is a great time to curl up and read!  Feel free to do your other online shopping through either of these links, as you’ll help this starving artist continue writing.

 

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Unusual Jobs for Your Characters – Writers’ Resources

I’ve already given you a list of common jobs, which are useful in many genres of writing.  But sometimes you need a career for a character that’s far beyond the norm, and that’s what this list is for!  Some of these jobs pull in a lot of money, and others are just unusual.

Check out more lists like this on my Writers’ Resources page.

If you have an idea that belongs on this page, leave me a comment and I’ll add it to the list along with your preferred link.

animator

archeologist

astronaut

bodyguard

choreographer

cruise ship captain

CIA agent

cryptozoologist (studies legendary creatures)

entertainment lawyer

exobiologist (studies life on other planets)

fashion designer

film director

fountain pen dealer

hemp/cannabis farmer

hunting guide

literary archeologist (studyies ancient writing/literature)

microbiologist

mine rescuer

Olympic athlete

paranormal investigator

paleontologist

professional athlete

professional gamer

puppeteer

royalty

royal aide

snake milker

stunt coordinator

toy designer

TV producer

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Volunteer Opportunities for Your Characters – Writers’ Resources

When building a character for your novel, it’s great to give them a few quirks and a job, but a volunteer position can add a lot to their depth.  It not only makes your character more of a real person, but it might also give her a reason to be in the right place at the right time and solve the crime/win the love of her crush/tick off someone who deserves it.

Since I love just these sorts of lists when I’m writing, I’m sharing them with you!  You can find this list and more on my Writers’ Resources page.

If you have any suggestions for this list, leave me a comment!  I’ll add your idea as well as your preferred link.

animal shelter

Big Brothers Big Sisters

blood drive

booster club (athletics, band, etc)

Boy Scouts

Boys and Girls Club

churches

city cleanup

coaching

food pantry

Girl Scouts

Habitat for Humanity

historical society

homeless shelter

hospice

library

literacy program

national parks

park district

political campaign

Red Cross

retirement home

schools

soup kitchen

warming shelter

YMCA

youth center

 

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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20th Century Timeline for Writers (1900-1999)

This is a work in progress as part of my Writers’ Resources page!  It’s here to give you some help or maybe just a little inspiration if you’re working on any sort of historical fiction.  You’ll find that the links open a new tab so you can come back easily.  You can also check out the 19th Century/Old West Timeline.

Have something that shoudl be added?  Leave me a comment!

 

1900

Hawaii is annexed as a U.S. territory

1904

-both the World’s Fair and the Summer Olympics are held in St. Louis

1908

Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell is published and will begin a tradition of Scouting around the world

1911

Ronald Reagan is born (Feb 6)

1919

Prohibition (the 18th amendment) was passed on Jan 16.  The country wouldn’t officially go dry until Jan 17, 1920

1929

Martin Luther King, Jr. is born (January 15)

1941

-the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (Dec 7)

1957

Wham-O introduces the Frisbee (Jan 23)

1959

Hawaii becomes a state (August 21)

1963

Cat’s Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut) is published

1967

-the first Super Bowl is played (Jan 15)  (Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs in L.A.)

1968

Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated (April 4)

1969

Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut) is published

1970

The Mary Tyler Moore Show is broadcast (until 1977)

1974

-Stephen King publishes Carrie, his debut novel (April 5)

1980

Ronald Reagan is elected President and is at that time the oldest person elected for the position

1997

Madeline Albright becomes the first female Secretary of State, the highest ranking female official in U.S. history the time (Jan 23)

 

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Jobs for Your Characters

As a writer, you want your characters to have some depth.  Maybe they need some interesting quirks, or maybe they just need a job.  I often find that when I’m cranking along on a story, it’s really helpful to look through a list of options when I need to make a decision about a character.  While it’s by no means exhaustive, here’s a list of common jobs for you to use in your creative process.  These are the kind of jobs you’d find in any typical town, so this list is particularly helpful if you’re working on cozy mysteries.  If you think of something that should be on this list, leave a comment and I’ll add it!

Looking for more posts like this?  Check out my Writers’ Resources page!


Accountant

Artist

Attorney

Baker

Banker

Barista

Bartender

Blogger

Bus driver

Busboy

Busker

Butcher

Cab driver

Car salesman

Carpenter

Chef

Cleaning lady (or cleaning gentleman?)

Computer tech

Cook

Daycare provider

Delivery driver

Discount store clerk

Doctor

Dog groomer

Drywall finisher

EMT/paramedic

Factory worker

Fashion designer

Fast food worker

Financial advisor

Firefighter

Florist

Gas station clerk

Hair stylist

HVAC tech

Insurance agent

Janitor

Jeweler

Landlord

Librarian

Mechanic

Musician

Nurse

Painter (of either homes or landscapes)

Paralegal

Paranormal investigator

Pet sitter

Photographer

Pilot

Plumber

Police dispatcher

Police officer

Printer

Real estate agent

Secretary

Security guard

Shoe salesperson

Stable owner

Teacher

Teacher’s aid

Veterinarian

Waitress

Warehouse foreman

Web designer

Welder

Writer/author

Youtuber

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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