Monthly Archives: January 2022

Author Interview: Teri M. Brown

I always like hearing about other writers, their processes, and their lives outside of writing. I figure you do, too! Teri M. Brown, author of Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, shared a bit of her time and her adventures with me recently.

Does writing energize or exhaust you? 

Yes! Seriously, it does both. I find the writing very exciting and when I am through for the day, I often talk over everything with my husband. However, after a long session at the computer, I sleep hard for the first several hours.

What is your writing Kryptonite? Real life. I work best when I can escape from the house and my office. Put me on the beach, or at a writer’s retreat, or even at my mom’s house when she’s gone away for a week, and I’ll get more accomplished than I can at home. Why? When I’m gone, things like dishes, laundry, meal prep, and taking the dog out don’t get in my way. I can focus entirely on writing. At the Weymouth Writers-in-Residence, I am able to write 50,000 to 70,000 words in one week!

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 

Don’t be afraid. Just get the story out of your head. The more you write, the easier it will be.

What books do you currently have in the works?

I currently have four novels in various stages of completeness, an inspirational non-fiction based on my trip across the US on a tandem bicycle, and three children’s books waiting for an audience.

How did you get started writing? 

I began writing my first novel in 2017. I had a story line in my head but had been afraid to put it on paper. I went to a one-week writers-in-residence during NaNoWriMo and completed 50,000 words. That particular manuscript hasn’t gone anywhere. I will have to do a lot of rewriting if it ever does because I couldn’t give my main character any flaws. I loved her too much! I was also about to separate from an emotionally abusive husband, and I think I needed my character to be strong and capable and unbreakable.  My second manuscript has some of the same problems, though I was getting the hang of it.  Both of those manuscripts are contemporary, character-driven fiction. My third manuscript, An Enemy Like Me, is historical fiction that I would like to release after Sunflowers Beneath the Snow.  It is loosely based on my grandfather who is of German descent and fought in WWII in the US Army in Germany. My fifth manuscript is Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. I decided to release it now because it is timely – the Russians are amassing on the Ukrainian border once again, which is a pivotal point in the plot of the book when it happened 2014.  I have another partially finished manuscript that has a fantasy lean to it, but my father died while I was writing it. Every time I try to go back to it, I just can’t seem to find the words. And I have a dystopian fiction idea and a humor spoof about menopause in my head.

What advice can you give to writers & aspiring writers?

 Write. Write. Write. The only way to get better at your craft is to do it. Don’t wait until you have gotten a degree, taken enough classes, read enough books. Just start writing. Your first stuff will likely be crap, but that’s okay. Everyone starts there. Very few people write the Great American Novel the first time they pick up a pen.

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Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown came into this world with an imagination full of stories to tell. She now calls the North Carolina coast home, and the peaceful nature of the sea has been a great source of inspiration for her creativity.
 
Not letting 2020 get the best of her, Teri chose to go on an adventure that changed her outlook on life. She and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. She learned she is stronger than she realized and capable of anything she sets her mind to.
 
Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others.

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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 DetectiveHer 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.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Tarot Tuesday! Pick Your Card from The Good Tarot

It’s time once again for Tarot Tuesday to see what the rest of the week holds for us!

This week’s pull is from The Good Tarot by Colette Baron-Reid. These cards are just gorgeous and have so much energy when I’m working with them!

If you’re interested in a reading of your own, please see the bottom of this post .

Study the photo below and see which card calls to you (1, 2, or 3). You may want to know what the week holds for you in general, or you may have a specific question in mind. Regardless of what you want to know, let your spirit guide you on your card. You’ll find the cards and their meanings below.

Are you ready? Scroll down to find your card!

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#1 – The Empress: The Empress represents fertility. This could mean an actual pregnancy or birth, but it also represents the birth of new ideas. Your world is abundant, brimming over with possibility and potential.

#2 – Strength: You are strong and courageous! While some versions of this card show the lion being overcome or slain, notice how this woman simply redirects him. It almost looks like she is turning this big, fearsome creature to do her own bidding. You are capable of this, too.

#3 – 9 of Air: This card is about compassion and forgiveness. Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? Perhaps you need to forgive yourself? Either way, remember that we’re all only human and doing our best. The 9 of Air could also be a call to faith and to remember your spiritual guidance.

Which card did you pick? Did it mean anything for you? I’d love to know, so feel free to leave me a comment!

Interested in a reading of your own?

You’ll receive a photo of the actual cards drawn and a thorough explanation of their meaning. The readings are done through email, so please ensure a valid email address is included with your payment! This is for a generalized reading with a deck that calls to me. If you have a specific question or needs, please feel free to email me at ashley@ashleyomelia.com and we can get it arranged. Thank you!

$10.00

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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 DetectiveHer 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.

Please note that I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Interview: Blogger and Writer Katie Schnolis of Peace, Love, and Yoga Pants

Writing and yoga pants go hand in hand (along with comfy hoodies and fuzzy socks!) so I jumped at the chance to catch up with Katie Schnolis of the blog Peace, Love, and Yoga Pants.

What inspired you to start your blog, Peace, Love, and Yoga Pants?

I had the urge to share my story in bits and pieces.  I guess that’s what a blog is, right? I felt like I had more to say than what could comfortably fit in social media posts or at a dinner table conversation.  A blog just sits there patiently for you, and you can read it whenever you’re ready.  You can subscribe, even, and your email tells you when you can read it.  Technology.  What a great gift. 

I come from a family of many writers.  My dad was a writer, my two eldest siblings are writers, and my mom wrote often.  Letters.  She wrote letters to the editors of publications for subjects she found incredibly important, she wrote letters of support when she thought someone needed an electronic pat on the back, she wrote to inmates because they had no one else to talk to and she couldn’t imagine being that lonely.  “I’ve got time, paper and a pen,” she’d say.

As far as naming it, when I started my blog in 2015, I’d hit the skids, in a matter of speaking.  My dad died in 2014, and in 2015 I got sick for many months, missed a lot of work, saw too many doctors with too few diagnoses.  For half a second I thought about naming it Peace, Love and Happiness, but at the time happiness seemed out of my reach.  Peace what was I longed for, love was what I wanted to share with the world, and yoga pants were the vehicle by which to get both of those.  Who doesn’t feel peaceful and loving while wearing yoga pants? I’m tellin’ ya, it takes much longer to bring about peace with tight jeans.

I understand you have a book in the works.  Tell us about that.

My dad had bipolar disorder and wrote a manuscript that he never published.  He ended up writing the book around 1983, and I eventually read it as an adult at some point, but don’t remember many of the details besides the big talking points: his illness and the effect on our family.  After he died in 2014, I talked to my siblings about my publishing his book with my book chapters feathered in between his.  You see, as it turns out, I have bipolar disorder as well, and some of my story sounds like his.  My siblings gave me the go-ahead to use my dad’s story and I’ve been writing mine alongside his. It’s a little bit: “Mental health life and treatment: then and now”.  

What advice do you have for anyone who’s trying to balance their writing life with family and children?

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, because that will just make you miserable. 

Do your best. 

Some parents get up early to write so they can focus before the kids start making noise.  Others stay up late for similar reasons.  “Me time.”  That’s what you need.  Finding an appropriate amount of “me time” that works for your family isn’t selfish.  It’s healthy, and it will demonstrate for your kids healthy boundaries and interests.  My favorite author Anne Lamott says often that you just need to sit (butt in chair!) and write regularly.  Make a schedule and stick to it.  If you can only manage 15 minutes a day, that’s almost two hours a week! It really adds up.  It’s good for your kids to see you chasing your dreams!

 Follow that still, small voice telling you to do it because no one else will do it for you. 

As my brother Mike, a fellow writer tells me, “Sit down and write!”

Coffee or tea?

Iced tea.  When I’m not drinking water.

Have you always been interested in writing?

Yes.  I can picture myself as a six or seven-year-old when I used to ride my bike around my neighborhood.  I spent a lot of time by myself and would have a running narrative in my head.  “She rode her bike up the shady hill to the small playground to find two kids she’d never met before…”

I constantly narrated my day as a kid.  It hasn’t really stopped. 

What’s your favorite place to write?

My office desktop computer.  My husband and I found a used desk online and it’s absolutely just right for me.  The walls are painted a shade named Hawaiian Blue, which is a teal-ish color.  The carpet tiles are multicolored because I love all things bright.  I’ve got some paintings on the walls, year-round Christmas lights and some pictures of my parents and other family members.  I never write without a candle to light my way. 

Are you reading anything good right now?

I’m about halfway through Dear Evan Hansen, which I giddily stole from my son.  It’s got some surprising differences from the movie and soundtrack – I haven’t seen the stage production yet.  It’s quite enjoyable. 

I’m also reading Matt Haig’s The Comfort Book.  If you’re not familiar with Matt Haig, (please get  so, now!) he writes both fiction and non-fiction; adult and children’s books.  The back cover of The Comfort Book says, “The Comfort Book is a collection of little parcels of hope.  Gathering notes, proverbs and stories, it gifts us with new ways of seeing ourselves, the world and ourselves in the world.”  It’s sweet, insightful and kind.

I have to ask:  What are your favorite yoga pants?

THEY STOPPED MAKING THEM! I’m so sad.  I can’t go on. 

Okay, I’ll go on.  It was an active pair by Old Navy and they’re no longer available.  Now my (rare) yoga pants-shopping life consists of reading review after review, but *sigh*.  They’re never the same. 

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About Katie: Writer of life-y things, employee for companies usually related to marketing, mental health advocate, wife, mom, fur ball mom, sister, frustrated crocheter just trying to learn how to make a freaking hat.  Yes, she’s tried YouTube, no, she’s not getting any better.  Her scarves look pretty nice.  She doesn’t have any awards yet, but you know that thing when people flip their hands upside down and make their index fingers and thumbs into circles and put them on their face and make them look like they’re wearing glasses? Yeah.  She can do that.  And she’s incredibly grateful that you would take the time to read this.

You can find Katie at Peace, Love, and Yoga Pants as well as on Facebook.

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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 DetectiveHer 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.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Guest Post: 25 Things Writers Need by AE McRoberts

Greetings, padawan! Today I’m so excited to be writing a post for a fellow Ashley. Because us Ashley’s need to stick together…we’re only the number 154 ranked name in the world after all 😂

Today we’re going to dig into one of my favorite sections in Chuck Wendig’s book 500 Ways to Tell a Better Story. Have you read it? It’s a great writing resource, and I highly recommend it. He shares some fantastic insights, and I got a lot from it!

So, let’s go, 25 Things Writers Need:

#1: A good chair

As a writer, we spend a lot of time sitting, so investing in a good chair is paramount to both comfort and marathon writing sessions. But here’s my bone to pick…standing desks. Smart ass scientists have proven that sitting on your tush all day long isn’t exactly good for you, so I say forgo the chair and get a standing desk instead…or maybe a treadmill desk.

Lose weight and kill off characters at the same time, what’s not to like!

#2: A word processing program you don’t hate

Like any opinion, the answer to this varies wildly. Some love Scrivener (I’m in that camp), others hate it. Some use Google docs, others Word. And there are SO many writing programs available out there to choose from.

But my advice, try them all. Experiment. Learn exactly what works for you and run with it. Because at the end of the day, it’s about you, the writer, and the specific program to you doesn’t much matter.

#3: A way to track change

I use a simple numbering system. My first draft is 1.1, my second is 1.2 and so on. Once, I got up to 1.15! As with all these suggestions, do what works for you. BUT, the most important thing I’ve learned as an author is don’t delete anything (anything as in entire stories, I’m not saving like individual sentences…well, maybe sometimes, lol).

I might put a story in my ‘this is shit’ pile, but I don’t delete it. Because you don’t know when and where you can reuse something.

#4: Spreadsheets

Okay, my husband loves his spreadsheets, but I never really learned how to use them. But they are a useful and clear way to organize some sorts of information if that’s your jam. If you’re smarter than me, go for it!

#5: A way to back up your work

Thankfully, being married to a tech-savvy dude has saved me. Because early in my writing career, he drilled home the importance of backing up my work. He got me a Dropbox, and I totally love it. I have my photos, and everything I’ve ever written. Like I said above, I delete nothing so there’s a lot in there!

I’ll stress this: Get SOME sort of backup service, and regularly (or automatically) backup your stuff. Because that sinking realization that you’ve just lost an entire manuscript is the worst feeling in the world.

#6: Another way to back up your work

Proper previous planning prevents piss poor performance. In the military they say “two is one and one is none”, so in this case, assume your one backup will somehow fail, and have a secondary system. Or hey, if you’re extra paranoid, triple down. I always put my manuscripts on a thumb drive as well. They’re a cheap way to ensure that I always have what’s important.

#7: A way to take notes anywhere

Be prepared, padawan, for a story from my past. I was walking my kid to REI, (they have a great slide there), and I was listening to music. When the song “Sway” by Rosemary Clooney came on, I thought (and I still do) the chorus said ‘I can hear the sound of violence, long before it begins,’ but the actual lyric is violins, not violence.

Since I misheard the lyrics, as I walked I began plotting a story where these dudes can actually sense violence. When we got to REI, I whipped out my trusty iPhone and began world building.

It was then that I learned the truth of this statement. Always have something to record your notes, thoughts, musings, ideas on, wherever you are. It can be paper or digital. Always be prepared to follow the muse.

Some go to the extreme and wake up in the middle of the night to record dreams, but I value sleep way too much for that. If it’s good, I’ll remember it again in the morning…hopefully. Lol.

#8 A most excellent pen

I’m almost confident saying that all writers are a little obsessed with notebooks/pens. I love them 😍

Granted, I’m not really into like fancy pens, I’m more of a cheap BIC pen type (remember, “most excellent” just means you like it, doesn’t have to be fancy). But as it so happens, writing engages a different part of the brain than typing, so I always have to brainstorm/plan on paper. I can’t seem to be happy with what I brainstorm when I type. Weird, I know.

Anyhow, having a good pen and paper is inviable to give your musings a little boost.

#9 Whiteboard and/or cork board

This one fills me with sadness, so I might cry a little. 😥

My fam and I are digital nomads, so I travel around Europe, moving every 90 days or so. This means that I live out of suitcases. And unfortunately, I can’t travel with anything very large. I miss my whiteboard so much. It’s such an excellent resource to organize, plan, and structure. I could put up notes and keep track of elements I wanted to. I could write little encouraging notes and pin baby pictures. One day I’ll have an entire wall that’s a magnetic whiteboard, and that will be bliss.

You haven’t plotted a book until you’ve done it full scale on a whiteboard!

#10: The Internet

Both a writer’s best and worst friend: the internet. Between the dictionary and thesaurus, Reddit, and Wikipedia, the internet is a must-have to construct stories, edit them, and publish them.

You could go all Thoreau and write off-grid in a cabin somewhere, no internet, no electricity, but meh, that’s overkill. Having the internet at your fingertips makes writing 1,000 times easier.

And this leads to our next point.

#11: A way to escape the internet

The dangers of the internet are very real, and no, I’m not talking about spending hours and hours browsing pancake recipes. Though, that is a really perilous rabbit hole if I do say so myself.

I’m talking about procrastination.

Spending hours researching the accuracy of one line, or the endless distracting black hole of social media. It takes some self-control not to spend every moment of writing time doing something other than writing, but once you strengthen that muscle, it gets easier!

Flow helps a lot also, because once I get into the flow of writing, social media doesn’t seem as appealing. There are some tricks you can do, like website blockers and full-screen mode, but mostly it’s just self-control.

#12: A website

Every author should have one. Period. Even if it’s just a pretty picture and your name. Because once you publish, you’re going to want to have a nice place to showcase all your books and merchandise. It should be easy to remember and spell. Ideally, it should be your name (or pen name). I was lucky enough to get aemcroberts.com. Super simple, and it’s me!

You don’t need to be tech savvy either to have a nice site, you can easily throw up a nice template via WordPress or build a one-page site in Carrd.co in a matter of minutes. But your website will be the spoke of your digital presence, and your publisher will expect you to have one, so chop chop!

#13: Books and Stories

I’m of the firm opinion that a writer should also be a reader. It comes with the territory.

You can’t write good stories if you don’t read extensively, because creativity requires seeds of inspiration! So, all authors should collect favorite books and stories. I have easily fifty super-duper favorite books that I can read over and over. The good news, this doesn’t have to mean shelves and shelves of traditionally published paper books. This means fanfic, audiobooks, Kindle Unlimited, and even little kid stories!

The more widely you read, the more idea sex you can have. 😊

#14: Music and other art

This one is a little obscure, sure, but relevant. Authors are creators. We imagine and daydream and harness the muse. As creators, we should collect and appreciate material from all sorts of other creators. This means artists and musicians, sculptors, performers, you name it. The muses aren’t just limited to writing. They are that piece of you (or anyone) that urges them to go make something new!

#15: Healthy snacks

As discussed above, writers spend a lot of time sitting. That means not a lot of time spent moving. Which means that you shouldn’t be cramming artificial sugars down your throat, cause that’s a recipe for becoming corpulent, very corpulent.

But here’s the catch: brains use glucose, so sometimes to get your brain really working, you need brain snacks. That doesn’t mean go straight to some factory processed shit. Grab nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit.

#16: Blood flowing to your brain

This, Padawan, is important. Your brain is a highly efficient and complex organ. Sitting on your ass for hours at a time isn’t an ideal recipe for success At least once per hour, get up and move! Do squats or pushups. Go for a short walk. Do something to get the blood flowing.

Fun fact, I do squats as part of my prewriting routine every day. It tells my brain that I’m about to get creative and it works wonders!

#17: A good shower

I’m a shower girl. I love showers, even more than a nice hot bath. It’s the feeling of water hitting my skin and washing everything away. But when you do something routine, something familiar, that frees up your brain to think about other things. That’s why showers and driving can be so important to solving problems. So next time you’re stuck, take a shower!

And think of me while you do it. 😉

#18: An afternoon pick-me-up

Afternoons can be a slog. They drag on, you get lethargic, and sort of blah. But that doesn’t have to be the case! No!

Take some time to do something invigorating. Listen to some screaming punk music, or go for a run. But it doesn’t have to be something major. Turn on some opera and sing your heart out. Recite dirty limericks to yourself in the mirror. Mix it up. Live a little.

#19: Other writers

Writing isn’t entirely a solo sport, it’s actually very much a team effort. It takes lots of people to bring a story to life. Sure, one person might write it, but there are so many more involved in the full process.

There are alpha, beta, and gamma readers. There are editors and proofreaders. There are cover artists and formatters. It doesn’t just take a village to raise a kid., it also takes a village to make a book. So, go out and find others!

This one is hard for me because I’m an extreme introvert. Between my husband and kid, I get enough human interactions to last me forever, so it can be a little challenging to reach out. But it can be worth it!

#20: People who have absolutely nothing to do with writing, ever

Stories are about humans surmounting challenges and obstacles. To really learn how humans would react/interact, you need to have some experience with people. Experience people and all they offer, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the most excellent 😊.

Every single person you encounter, in real life or media, is a potential source of character and story inspiration!

#21: An editor

The best writers need great editors. The worst writers need editors. Editors are the saviors of the written word (cough, like me, cough).

You should have a strong relationship with your editor. They should understand you, get you, and your writing voice. But, you should also trust them enough to listen to their advice, and don’t take every editing recommendation as a personal attack. Find someone who you can strike a good balance with, and who gets you, because a partnership with a bad editor can be as poisonous as poorly prepared pufferfish sushi…well, maybe not quite that bad, but close enough.

#22: A daily writing goal

I don’t necessarily agree with this one. There are some days that I can’t write, because of whatever circumstance, or if I’m taking a writing break. But sometimes authors need that sort of push to motivate them. Stories burn in me. I have to write, and if I don’t, I go insane. Literally. So, to me, a daily goal isn’t needed. But I’m a unique pancake. If you need that motivation, then set it. Make it reasonable and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make it, but have clear, simple, and achievable daily goals.

#23: Deadlines

Some perform well under pressure. Others, not so much. So, this one is entirely personal and you should decide what’s best for you (unless you sign a book deal, in which case you have a responsibility to deliver on time, and missing deadlines is no bueno…I’m looking at you Rothfuss and Martin).

Writing should be a joy. It should be fluffy pancakes piled high with fresh strawberries, whipped cream, and maple syrup. It shouldn’t be stress and heartache and misery. So, if you work better under a deadline, give yourself one. Or if you work better without a deadline, then don’t…unless you have a book deal, and then see above.

#24: A finished manuscript

It doesn’t matter if it’s shit. It doesn’t matter if it’s poorly written or the best thing ever. Just finish. You can set it aside or polish it to publish. Just finish. I have like ten stories I wrote as practice that are just sitting in my Dropbox, and I’ll probably do nothing with them other than mine them for cool characters or random ideas.

But I finished them. It’s that hard, and that easy.

#25: An audience

I’m of the opinion that you should write about what inspires you, and the audience will follow. But that has a big caution flag next to it. If you write about a demented old man who goes around murdering babies, your audience might be tiny. But generally, there are people who will read anything.

Just be aware that your passion might not translate well if it’s more extreme. I find that it’s harder to write when you’re not burning with the need to write *this* specific story though, so I hope the stories you burn for have nice large audiences 😉

Well, padawan that’s it for Chuck Wendig’s 25 Things All Writers Need. What’s your score? Do you have all 25?

As I’ve said, this list is his opinion and highly subjective, and even with none of these things, you can still be an amazing writer. So, don’t stress about it, take it or leave it as you see fit, and maybe go out to Hobby Lobby and buy all their whiteboards.

Now, go forth and write!

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AE McRoberts is a romance/fantasy author and developmental editor who lives out of suitcases and travels Europe with her husband and son. When she’s not writing or editing, she’s reading, gaming, or eating pancakes. You can read more of her writing at AEMcRoberts.com, or you can find her on Twitter and Reddit.

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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 DetectiveHer 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.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Tarot Tuesday! Pick Your Card from The Spirit Animal Oracle

It’s time once again for Tarot Tuesday to see what the rest of the week holds for us!

This week’s pull is from The Spirit Animal Oracle by Colette Baron-Reid. I love the beautiful, misty artwork on these cards. And of course I always love anything that has to do with animals!

If you’re interested in a reading of your own, please see the bottom of this post.

Study the photo below and see which card calls to you (1, 2, or 3). You may want to know what the week holds for you in general, or you may have a specific question in mind. Regardless of what you want to know, let your spirit guide you on your card. You’ll find the cards and their meanings below.

Are you ready? Scroll down to find your card!

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#1 – Hummingbird Spirit: Be still, enjoy the now, and know that everything you need is being provided for you. A hummingbird has many flowers to choose from, but there’s no need to flit all over the place and experiment with every different option. You’re on the right path, and you’re doing well.

#2 – Cat Spirit: Confidence and independence are what you need to work on right now. You need some time to yourself, to step back from everyone else’s problems and focus on yourself. You know your worth, and everyone else will, too, once you spend some time with your inner self.

#3 – Ant Spirit: It’s time for you to collaborate with others. This may be as part of a team or a community effort, or perhaps it is simply time for you to ask for help and to be willing to receive it. This isn’t always easy, but teamwork can really pay off!

Which card did you pick? Did it mean anything for you? I’d love to know, so feel free to leave me a comment!

Interested in a reading of your own?

You’ll receive a photo of the actual cards drawn and a thorough explanation of their meaning. The readings are done through email, so please ensure a valid email address is included with your payment! This is for a generalized reading with a deck that calls to me. If you have a specific question or needs, please feel free to email me at ashley@ashleyomelia.com and we can get it arranged. Thank you!

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Come visit me on eBay!

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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 DetectiveHer 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.

Please note that I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Author Interview: C.J. Hudson of the upcoming Fairhaven Series

C.J. Hudson is the author of the upcoming Fairhaven series, with the first book due out this year. I caught up with him for a few moments to discuss his writing life and his books.

What would you sacrifice for a chance to win back your first love?

Danielle and I were both ten when we fell in love as neighbors on Fairhaven Street. We spent three amazing years together. Despite my “ugly duckling” appearance, lack of confidence and a family with three generations of abuse, she loved me. Being with her exposed me to a life I never thought possible. All we wanted was to go on one date because we were not allowed to go on dates due to our age.

I was forced to move out of state to escape my father. On my last day with Danielle, I gave her a pendant necklace of half of a broken heart, and a promise that I would come back for her when I grew up. I kept the matching pendant.

For seven and a half years, until I was eighteen years old, I remained faithful to her. I never took my half of the pendant off, even after it rusted. All those years, she was the inspiration that guided me to become the man I am today. I broke the cycle of violence in my family so that she would never have to experience it. ​

All I ever wanted was that one date we were denied because of our age back then. Nearly eight years later, I was standing outside her front door, the promise kept. ​ For years I was told what I was doing was crazy, that there was no way she would remember me, let alone still love me after so long. The only question was, who would be right?

What inspired you to write Destiny Lives on Fairhaven Street?

The initial inspiration came back in 1996 and returned in 2017 when my children were born. Back then, I’d been wracking my brain trying to figure out a special way to tell my first love, Danielle, that I’d devoted the last eight years of my life to her, hoping for one more chance to see her again. It had to be something different, something unique. The tour guide on a class trip to Paris suggested I write a novel, that it serve as “the grand gesture.” I also wanted to leave behind my story for my boys. The story of how I became the man I am today, how I met their mom, and how they came to be.

Have you always been a writer?

Most definitely. I wrote my first book when I was seven. It was “published” with glue and staples.

How many books will be in the series?

I’m thinking of at least five, but the great thing about memoirs is that you get new material every day in your life. It only stops when I’m in the ground.

Since this is a novel based on real-life events, what challenges did you face in portraying people you know?

Recalling memories that were 30+ years old as accurately as possible. Keeping the story entertaining while being truthful. The fact is I was depressed and struggling through most of these events, but I didn’t want the writing to be depressing. I am trying to sell a book, after all.

Coffee or tea?

Neither. Keeps me up. I’m a water kind of guy.

What does your writing process look like?

The nice thing about a memoir is that the book practically writes itself. I’ve found over the years that my best work comes when I’m feeling the emotion in the chapter. It just flows out of me. That means re-living every single part over and over, both good and traumatic. My wife would come into the office and see me in tears sometimes because I was re-living the event I was writing about. If I try to just sit there and write, the quality is horrible.

If you could spend the day with any writer, who would it be?

J.K. Rowling. I’ve always enjoyed her writing style and ability to convey emotion.

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You can follow C.J.’s progress and get updates on his book by visiting his website.

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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 DetectiveHer 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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Giveaway Alert! A Writer’s Guide to Medicine by Natalie Dale

*This giveaway has closed*

Let’s kick the weekend off with a giveaway! I recently had the chance to interview Natalie Dale, author of newly released A Writer’s Guide to Medicine. She was generous enough to offer a free Kindle copy of her book to one lucky reader!

Entering is easy! Each action earns you an entry:

-leave a comment here on this post

-leave a comment on the giveaway post on my Facebook page

-share the giveaway post from my Facebook page

-join my mailing list

Not sure what to say? Any comment will do, or you can tell me what your favorite animal is!

The contest will stay open for one week! There will be another one coming soon, so be sure to check back!

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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 DetectiveHer 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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Tarot Tuesday! Pick Your Card from The Akashic Tarot

Needing a little guidance for the week? Then you’re in luck, because it’s Tarot Tuesday!

This week’s pull is from The Akashic Tarot by Sharon Anne Klingler and Sandra Anne Taylor. If you’re unfamiliar with them, the Akashic Records are fields of energy that contain all knowledge past and present. It’s a complex but fascinating idea. I recommend The Akashic Records Made Easy by Sandra Anne Taylor to explore it further.

If you’re interested in a reading of your own, please see the bottom of this post.

Study the photo below and see which card calls to you (1, 2, or 3). You may want to know what the week holds for you in general, or you may have a specific question in mind. Regardless of what you want to know, let your spirit guide you on your card. You’ll find the cards and their meanings below.

Are you ready? Scroll down to find your card!

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#1 – The Queen of Forces: The Queen of Forces holds all the powers of the moon and sun, balancing the darkness and the light and bringing dynamic creativity. This could represent you or another person in your life who lends powerful support to your endeavors. She could be someone new or someone you already know, but she’s happy to help guide you on your way.

#2 – 4 of Keys: Something is blocking your path. Fortunately, you have all the tools necessary to clear the way and move on! Work with determination and diligence, but make sure you completely deal with the obstacle so you don’t trip over it again.

#3 – 6 of Keys: This is a time of abundance for you. Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, it’s coming. Your work is paying off, and your creativity and prestige are growing.

Which card did you pick? Did it mean anything for you? I’d love to know, so feel free to leave me a comment!

Interested in a reading of your own?

You’ll receive a photo of the actual cards drawn and a thorough explanation of their meaning. The readings are done through email, so please ensure a valid email address is included with your payment! This is for a generalized reading with a deck that calls to me. If you have a specific question or needs, please feel free to email me at ashley@ashleyomelia.com and we can get it arranged. Thank you!

$10.00

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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 DetectiveHer 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.

Please note that I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Please considering doing your shopping using my links to help me earn money at no cost to you.

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Author Interview: Robert E. Christopher

It’s always fun to go “behind-the-scenes” and see what makes another author tick. I got to do just that with Robert E. Christopher, author of The Tower: Anya’s Story.

From your bio, I see that Dungeons and Dragons has inspired you to create deep characters.  Are there any other places you draw your inspiration from?

I read a lot of fantasy novels, and though I enjoy the themes of good versus overwhelming evil, I often feel let down by what I see as thin or clichéd characterization. What inspires me is when I discover a series like the Books of Babel by Josiah Bancroft, which feature flawed but very human characters doing their best in extremely difficult circumstances. This is what I set out to achieve when I wrote The Tower: Anya’s Story.

What inspired you to write The Tower?

The original idea for The Tower came from a very long running game of Dungeons and Dragons that I’ve been involved in for over thirty years. Over that time, the story has grown to include the fate of kingdoms, worlds and gods, with the consequences of character choices spilling out across the universe. The central concept of the arrival of a mysterious tower is one such consequence. I thought it would be fun to explore the possibilities such an event could have.

In addition, it was very important for me to make sure the central character, Anya, was as real as possible. My eldest daughter was twelve when I began writing, and I imagined all the discrimination and difficulties that she and other young women could still face in the twenty-first century and applied it to Anya.

This long-running game of Dungeons and Dragons game sounds intriguing. Can you tell me more about that?

Our Dungeon Master, Simon Williams, runs a unique game with enormous depth of history, characters and even physics. He has started a new branch of the story with us playing live on Twitch. It’s called The Ruined Keep and features a gang of thieves and smugglers reacting to an encroaching evil. You can catch up with us at 8pm GMT every Tuesday.

What’s your writing process like?  Do you outline or are you a pantser?

I definitely outline. With short stories, I may launch into them with nothing but a single idea, however, the idea of beginning a novel without the security of a framework fills me with dread. I like to consider what themes are important to the overall story, so they can be baked into each chapter, if possible. An outline may take a few months to get right, but it saves much more than that in editing. For me, an outline also gives me reassurance I already have a story to tell and there isn’t an endless blank void of empty pages challenging me to fill them.

Coffee or tea?

Neither. I’m a social pariah in England for not liking tea, but I was never brought up on it. As far as coffee is concerned, I’m honestly unsure why anyone would drink it.

Are you reading anything right now?

I’ve just started reading The Hunger Games. We watched the series of films together as a family, and I was so impressed with the themes and construction of the story, I borrowed my daughter’s books to see how Suzanne Collins does it.

Are there any other writers in your family?

My mother’s cousin has written a children’s book based on stories he told his own children, but I don’t know of anyone else.

What’s your favorite time of day?

I am certainly not a morning person. It’s a little ironic, because my writing routine for Anya’s Story was to get up whenever I woke and write, so I would often be up and typing at five thirty when the rest of the house was still asleep. I think I would have to say that the evening is my favourite time because that is when I can spend most time with my family.

Do you have any future books in the works?

Like many writers, I have several ideas rattling around in my head. My next project is another Tower story. I wouldn’t call a sequel, instead, it is a linked, almost concurrent tale set in the same part of the universe as Anya’s story. I hope to be able to explore different, real world issues in two more novels before bringing the different characters together for a climactic conclusion.

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You can find The Tower: Anya’s Story on Amazon on Robert E. Christopher at his website.

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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 DetectiveHer 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.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

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Tarot Tuesday: Pick Your Card from the Animal Tarot!

Time to shake off that case of the Mondays and get ready for Tarot Tuesday! This week’s draw is from the Animal Tarot deck by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine. I love all the beautiful animals in this deck and the way that everything is connected to nature. If you’re interested in a personal reading, please see the bottom of this post.

Study the picture below. If you have a question or situation you’re concerned about, hold that in the front of your mind as you choose your card. You can also simply pick the one that calls to you. When you’re ready, scroll down to find the meaning of your card.

Ready?

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#1 – Five of Summer: You may be experiencing some conflicts or unpleasant changes. It’s important to remember that life can’t always be perfect, and we have to do our best to learn how to deal with those conflicts and changes. Things will be all right if you make the choice to move forward.

#2 – Release: New beginnings are upon you! This may not always be an easy thing to deal with, especially since those new beginnings often come from the end of something else. Even if it’s difficult, try to focus on all the options that lay before you now. Perhaps the ending you experienced is something you really wanted, in which case it’s time to celebrate!

#3 – Prince of Autumn: Whatever your goals are, you need to make a detailed plan in order to get to them. Action without forethought won’t bring you the results you want. And if you do have a plan? Then it’s time to start taking action! This is the time to work as hard as you can toward that goal and achieve as much as possible.

Which card did you pick? What did it mean for you? I’d love to know, so feel free to leave a comment.

Interested in a tarot reading?

You’ll receive a photo of the actual cards drawn and a thorough explanation of their meaning. The readings are done through email, so please ensure a valid email address is included with your payment! This is for a generalized reading. If you have a specific question or needs, please feel free to email me at ashley@ashleyomelia.com or come visit me) and we can arrange it easily. Thank you!

$10.00

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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 DetectiveHer 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.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tarot and Oracle Cards