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Guest Post: Everything is Better with a Bag of Weed

Blogger’s Note: This is an anonymous guest post that discusses marijuana usage. If this is not a topic you’re comfortable with, please feel free to scroll on.

Okay, so, I prefer the pens, but same concept. This is my marijuana advocate statement.

July 7th, 2019 (today is August 24th, 2022), I got a positive pregnancy test. I immediately put down the pen. One healthy baby, a pandemic, and 2 1/2 years of breastfeeding, I finally sat down to smoke. Now, let me point out these last three years have been absolute HELL on my mental health. I know they have for everyone, but this is from my POV.

I dealt with the fear of pregnancy with a rainbow baby. Every sonogram, wondering if there’s still going to be a heartbeat. MFM (maternal fetal medicine) checkups on my fucked up cervix every two weeks to make sure it was functioning and would keep her safe. Then, after making it through, I had to reenter an operating room for a c-section. The same surgery that quite literally killed me for a minute last time. We survived all of that, then she was born the first week of March 2020. The week before lockdown. Everyone says, “It takes a village to raise a baby,” but what do you do when that is taken away? You suffer from PPD.

I am completely convinced that being on lockdown would have been INTENSELY easier if I had been able to smoke. I chose to breastfeed instead. I am sure there are people that believe it is okay to smoke while you breastfeed. Yes, I know there are cannabinoids naturally present in breastmilk. But I also know the affects that marijuana can cause on undeveloped brains (why only adults should smoke, but I’m kind of a hypocrit on that) and there was not enough research on it for me to feel comfortable, so I decided against it. I had planned to breastfeed from the start, because I was not able to with my oldest. The plan was to do BLW (baby led weaning) and wean her at one year. Because of the pandemic, I decided to do extended nursing to give her an extra immune system boost. Also, anyone with a toddler knows that sometimes they can be little jerks and refuse to eat food. It was my way of making sure that she was getting all of the nutrients she needed. Incase you aren’t aware, a part of PPD is paranoia. The stupid ball of meat you call your brain tells you that you are a terrible mother and you aren’t providing everything that your child needs and they are better off without you. Some days I would tell myself that I had to hang on, I had to wait out the waves of depression because I was breastfeeding and I was the only one that COULD give her everything she needed. It’s how I talked myself out of giving up. (My oldest is more or less self-sufficient, but I knew that her dad and her stepmom would take care of her.)

On top of the enormous strain of being a human feed bag, I also randomly got forced into a career as a 6th grade teacher. You know that show Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? Spoiler alert: I am not. Luckily, my oldest is smart and capable, and we made it through. But it was hard on her. Just coming into puberty, couldn’t go to school or see her friends and family, adjusting to being a big sister after being an only child for over 10 years, getting a new stepdad, and mommy completely losing her shit. Cue mom guilt spiral.

My husband and I also decided to have a “pandemic wedding.” I’m not complaining. I never thought I would get married, and I always said that if I did it would have to be a simple outdoor wedding. In that sense, it was perfect. We waited until some of the restrictions were lifted and I had my dad and stepdad both walk me down the aisle, which was my backyard. I was happy for a little while. But as most of you know, if you are brave enough to admit it, signing that marriage certificate changes things. I’m not sure if it was getting married. Maybe it was being new parents, and the stresses of life, and a million other contributing factors. But our relationship struggled. It still does. Somewhere along the way, I began to resent him.

Like most wives, I could go on for pages about all of the small ways my husband annoys me. But, to be fully honest, most humans annoy me after a certain point. I think mostly it’s because he’s the only adult that I see for weeks on end, even now. I’m working on that. Also, my husband loves to talk. When we first got together, I loved it. I could sit and talk to him for hours. Eventually, I became so overwhelmed and overstimulated that I could NOT listen to him rant on and on about music and things that he enjoyed. I am an introvert. If you are talking for hours about something that I am not personally invested in, I’m going to tune you out. That’s involuntary.

Then it hit me. When we first got together, we would talk mostly at night. After I smoked. Have you ever gotten stoned and watched someone that you like talk about things they love? It’s amazing. Yes, I could do that without smoking, but it helps shut down the other part of my brain that is talking over him. “I don’t understand wtf he’s talking about.” “Why can’t we talk about something that I like, or something actually relevant to our lives?” Blah, blah, blah…. shut up depression.

Over the last two years, I’ve tried multiple times to pull myself out. I’ve had manic episodes that were amazing. And borderline psychotic episodes where I thought I’d end up going on a grippy sock vacation. I wrote a book (like, a whole novel), and I painted/remodeled a few rooms in the house. I have tried so many different things and gone on a rollercoaster of emotions. For a long time, I didn’t want to admit that I was failing. I didn’t want to get help. I could manage. I was wrong.

The last few weeks have been the ultimate hell. I have been having some mildly concerning health problems, and we were/are struggling financially. My husband’s job was over an hour away, and gas prices skyrocketed. Even with a car that is good on gas, it still took most of his pay just to get there and back. We were struggling to get food and pay bills. He made just enough money to where we wouldn’t qualify for assistance, but not enough to really get by without it. We were making it work, though. Then we got Covid, which set us back even further. Then my car broke down. Then my husband lost his job. FML.

I’m going to be fully honest. It was mostly selfish pettiness. I was pissed at my husband for losing his job. I was pissed at the universe for targeting us. I could feel myself slipping and I knew I had to do SOMETHING. I decided that it was time to wean. I have been slowly spacing out her nursing and limiting her nighttime nursing since her second birthday, hoping she’d give it up on her own. Ladies, if you need to stop nursing for your mental health, do it. For anyone saying, “Breast is best,” fuck off. Having a non-suicidal mother is the best thing for a child. We went cold turkey. I thought it was going to suck. She still has some meltdowns in the middle of the night, but she stopped asking after 24 hours. The minute we hit 48 hours, I was FREE. But I had a new problem. Breastfeeding produces oxytocin. I very quickly realized that that was what was keeping me going. I felt the spiral. It would take too long to set up an appointment and go through the trial-and-error bullshit that comes with going to the doctor and trying two or three different antidepressants (each one with the ‘adjustment period’) and trying to get my head right. I didn’t have that kind of time. So, I picked up the pen.

Let me tell you about my night. I was able to cook dinner. My hip was not hurting like it always does. And I didn’t gag or get nauseated when I looked at the raw meat. I had an appetite and enjoyed my food. I didn’t get annoyed that people were in the kitchen, and my toddler was being a turd-ler. I hung out with my oldest for awhile and helped her set up her social media (yay for the teen years). I didn’t yell at the dog when she wanted out for the 300th time in 30 minutes. I got my house straightened up. Have you ever seen someone’s kitchen during a depressive episode? If not, good for you. If you have, help them. If it was your kitchen, I’m sorry. I cleaned up the mountain of toys and I swept the floors and I washed a bunch of dishes. I got down in the floor and played with blocks with my toddler. I had patience again. Then, the icing on the cake: I listened to my husband talk. I didn’t zone out. Granted, I still don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about half of the time, but that’s okay. I followed what he was saying and was able to give more than a one syllable response a few times. And once the girls were both asleep, I didn’t stay up to play a game on my phone. Usually, I play the most mind numbingly boring puzzle games to try to shut down my mind. Instead, I laid down and went to sleep. I sort of had the spins because I think I took too many hits. I could swear I could feel my brain coming back to life, neurons lighting up that had been dead for years, connecting pathways that had been broken. It wasn’t an over-the-top euphoria feeling, just a very calm, reassuring feeling that things might start getting better. It was glorious.

Not long after I fell asleep, the little one had a nightmare. A screeching toddler waking you up out of a dead sleep is awful. But for once, I wasn’t irritated. I was able to stay (mostly) calm through it. I did end up having to recruit help from my husband, who kept an eye on her so I could go back to sleep after she calmed down. I still didn’t get much sleep, but the little that I got was actually restful. I didn’t wake up exhausted like I always do. I got up, hit the pen, picked up the toys from last night, and washed a few more dishes. While washing the dishes, my mind started to wander and I decided to write this. We are still struggling, obviously. Everyone is. But I gotta say, it’s a lot easier to deal with the struggles of daily life if you have a clear mind. Now, I’m going to go dance to some Pinkfong/Babyshark songs and finish cleaning my kitchen before my teenager gets home and I have to help her with Spanish homework.

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Interested in submitting your own guest post? Check out my Contact and Submissions page!

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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Open for Submissions!

Hey everyone! I’m happy to say that I’m currently open for guest posts! Short fiction, poetry, writing and publishing tips, book reviews, and a twist of new age or spiritualism is always welcome! You can check out all the guidelines here, but please feel free to let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

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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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Filed under Uncategorized

Open for Submissions!

Hey everyone! I’m happy to say that I’m currently open for guest posts! Short fiction, poetry, writing and publishing tips, book reviews, and a twist of new age or spiritualism is always welcome! You can check out all the guidelines here, but please feel free to let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

***

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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Guest Post: ‘The Homemade Poppy’ by Elizabeth Pederson

As Remembrance Day approaches each year, I am reminded of a November about ten years ago.  I was in a mall in a big city in a province in Canada. I had grown tired and had finished all the shopping I wanted to do that day.  I decided to rest on a bench for a few minutes before I headed to the car to go home.

As much as I do not like shopping, I do love people-watching.  So, I enjoyed ending my time at the mall sitting watching the people around and walking by.  Within a few minutes an older gentleman asked if the empty seat beside me was taken.  I told him no, and he sat down.

I looked over at him, and I noticed the poppy he was wearing first.  Instead of the usual poppies that are readily available at this time of year, his was different.  It was bigger, and it was crocheted with a tiny black pompom sewed in the middle.  It also had some green stitching ever so subtly placed as leaves around the poppy.

It was very unique and quite pretty.  I smiled at the man.  “I am admiring your poppy.” 

The man nodded his head and looked away.  After a brief silence he said, “There is a story to it. If you want to listen, I will tell it.”

He cleared his throat dramatically and moved ever so slightly closer to me on the bench.  He began…

“I am the youngest of 14 children. We didn’t have much more than our basic needs met as we grew up. There was just not enough income to afford more than that for 14 kids.  My mother made everything we wore by hand – and yes, for all 14 of us.  She was quite handy with a needle and thread.  Of course, there were lots of times that clothing was shared.  Unfortunately for me, I rarely had anything new being the baby, but I had plenty of hand-me-downs.  I was about eight when this special poppy surfaced. 

“Every Remembrance Day, our whole family would gather at the cenotaph in the center of our village for the service to pay our respects to the soldiers who fought for our freedom and gave their lives as sacrifice.  Back then, poppies worn on your breast pocket were not common.  Unlike today, where we see them available in numerous places, yours for a donation.  Back then, it was the odd person who wore one of those.   My mother made poppies for each of us to wear.  They were hand sewed and she always added in that they were made with love.

“We were very proud to wear them.  They were beautiful, a new version of this one. Wearing the poppy was extra special as our father fought in World War II, and we were always serious about showing our appreciation and respect for his service.  So, year after year, we wore the homemade poppies with pride.

“They did wear out after time had passed, and some got lost along the way.  And eventually, we didn’t have any left.  Mom passed on years later and it seemed that the tradition had been lost.  Some of our sisters tried to replicate them but couldn’t quite get it right.  We appreciated them trying, but it just wasn’t the same.  Several years after Mom’s death, the family homestead was being sold and we worked together to empty a lifetime of memories, collections, and junk to clear the house for the sale.

“One afternoon as we were working away in various parts of the big house clearing it out, Charlie came running up from the basement.  He yelled, ‘Simon, come quick! You gotta see this!’  He held out a wooden box in his hand.  It was tied with a bright red ribbon.  It said ’To Simon’ on the top of it on an old piece of material in our mother’s handwriting.  I untied the ribbon excitedly.  When I opened the box, it brimmed over with my mother’s homemade poppies.

“These ones were brand new and so beautiful.  I gasped.  I looked closely at the pile of poppies so perfect and made with love and felt my heart just ache for my mother’s hug.  I looked again and notice the corner of a yellowed piece of paper sticking out under the poppies.  It had some writing on it that said, ‘Dear Simon, these are for you. Share them if you like, or keep them all for yourself.  I made them for two reasons. One, it was a great way to keep my hands and mind busy as I worried whether the crops would yield enough to get us through winter.  And the second reason is knowing how much you seemed to love these poppies the most out of the whole family.  I want you to have enough of a supply that you will never run out.  Love, Mom.’”  The old man stopped talking. 

I sat looking at him, my eyes brimming with tears.  Tears for the love in his voice as he told the story, and tears for the feeling I could only imagine him having each time he pinned on one of his mom’s poppies. I was barely able to get a whisper out of my mouth.  “Thank you so much for sharing that story with me. It’s beautiful.”

 “Thank you for listening, and thank you for the gift you gave me: your time and attention. I will never forget it.  Not many have time these days to listen to an old man’s ramblings.” He looked away briefly, then suddenly he jumped up from the bench.  “There’s my bus. I better be off.” He looked back as he was walking away.  “God bless you, Elizabeth.”

I hadn’t told him my name.

***

Elizabeth lives in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, but growing up she lived in five different provinces in Canada. She is from a family of seven kids. She fell in love with writing when she realized that she wanted to keep doing it and it brought her joy. She won a provincial-wide short story contest in high school, and she writes on an on-going basis. Everything from lists to memoirs. Mother of three, favourite colour is green. Grandmother to two girls. And, avid stand up paddle boarder.

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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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Book Review: The Chase by Clive Cussler

When selecting a book from my overloaded shelves, it’s always easy to pick up a Clive Cussler novel. I’ve read several of his novels before, and I figured it was about time to grab The Chase.

From the Cover: In 1906, the western states of America suffer a string of bank robberies by a single man who then cold-bloodedly murders any and all witnesses, and vanishes without a trace. Fed up by the depredations of “The Butcher Bandit,” the U.S. government brings in the best man it can find: a tall, lean, no-nonsense detective named Isaac Bell, who has caught thieves and killers from coast to coast.
 
But Bell has never had a challenge like this one. From Arizona to Colorado to the streets of San Francisco during its calamitous earthquake and fire, he pursues a fiend who seems to draw pleasure from the challenge and a woman who may to hold the key to the man’s identity. As Bell begins to suspect a new term used among top psychologists, sociopath, may describe his target, the Butcher Bandit turns the chase around on him. The hunter becomes the hunted. And soon, it will take all of Bell’s skills not merely to prevail . . . but to survive.

What I Loved: What’s not to love about a Clive Cussler novel? He was always an absolute master of detail, something that’s extremely important when writing historical fiction. I was completely catapulted back to 1906 as Isaac Bell of the Van Dorn Detective Agency tracked down a murderous bank robber. True historical events were blended seamlessly into the plot with only the most necessary exposition. The characters were deep and well fleshed out, and the plot was twisting and turning every minute. The Chase is a book of action, suspense, intrigue, and even a little bit of romance.

What I Didn’t Love: I wouldn’t consider a novel like this an ‘easy read’ simply because there’s so much to keep track of and so much happening. That’s really my only complaint, but it’s something I knew going in. It’s only really a problem because life has been chaotic lately, and I haven’t had much time to just settle down and focus on a book.

Rating and Recommendation: It’s no surprise that The Chase is a 5-star book. Clive Cussler was an absolute master.

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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.

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Book Review: The Duchess by Bertrice Small

My most recent choice for my Bookshelf Cleanout was The Duchess by Bertrice Small. Historical fiction of any sort is always interesting for me, and since I do write a lot of romance I end up reading a lot of it, too!

The Duchess: A Novel by [Bertrice Small]

From the Cover:

As the daughter of the richest man in England, Allegra Morgan attracts a number of fortune hunters willing to overlook her flawed pedigree to gain her enormous wealth. Her most ardent suitor is the arrogant but impoverished Quinton Hunter, duke of Sedgwick, who has little to offer a prospective wife except his grand title. Allegra decides that if she must marry, she might as well be a duchess. So she agrees to the match with one condition: her husband must never ask for her love. She has seen the misery love can cause and has vowed to give her heart to no man–especially a dangerously alluring duke.

Quinton is dazzled by his new wife’s grace and fortitude, as well as the fierce desire that rages between them. Despite his best intentions, he finds himself falling in love with her. Then the terrors of the French Revolution hit close to home, and the two of them set off on a treacherous adventure that could cost them everything . . . including their final chance at happiness.

What I Loved: Bertrice Small certainly did her research on the period. I know what a difficult task that can be, especially when it comes to clothing. Given the detailed description of every outfit, this was clearly not a problem for the author. The political happenings of the world are often mentioned, and these do have some impact on the characters. The dialog was well written, and most of the main characters were fleshed out and easily distinguishable.

What I Didn’t Love: While there’s plenty of historical detail, some of it is dumped into the story in a heap of exposition that’s poorly disguised as dialog. I wouldn’t mind this method too much, except that I don’t think anything more than a line or two was needed in these instances.

While I was interested to see how a very poor man with a title and a very rich girl without one would work out, I thought the first half of the book dragged quite a bit. Toward the end, the main characters go on an adventure that, while not unenjoyable, felt like it was just dropped in to give the plot some oomph before the end.

I have to be honest here: I really didn’t like the love scenes. While they were passionate, they were rather unrealistic. I can’t say I was a fan of the word choice in these scenes, either, but I acknowledge that’s often a matter of preference.

Rating and Recommendation: There are definitely some things about The Duchess that had me complaining, but considering that there really is a story here (and an arc for both of the main characters), I have to give credit where due. It wasn’t my cup of tea, and I probably won’t seek out more by this author, but I can’t say it was particularly bad, either. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. I think, if anything, this book proves that everyone is looking for something different.

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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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The Lost Manuscript Publishing Company

Someday, I’ll share with you the story of how this publishing company came to be. For now, since it’s late and I’m sure I should be in bed, just do me a favor and visit The Lost Manuscript Publishing Company. It’s still under contruction, but check back for more info!

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Thinking of a Veteran I Don’t Know

There are plenty of veterans I could write about today, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about one in particular.

When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to take a few college classes for free during the summer.  My speech class had kids my age, college students, and one older guy who always sat off by himself.  His age made him more of an outsider than his scruffy hair and old clothes.

We had to do that lovely introduction thing teachers make you do, and though I don’t remember his name I do remember that he was a Vietnam veteran.  Most of us didn’t particularly enjoy getting up to talk in front of the crowd, but it was especially hard for him.  He’d freeze up and have to sit down, even though his speeches were interesting and well-prepared.

The one moment where he really shone was his demonstration speech.  This guy was amazing with jewelry, making beautiful glass beads and wrapping them in twisted wire to create gorgeous pendants.  He had the whole class crowded around a big table while he worked.  He was in his element, and he was so proud when he was done.  He gave a few of us the pendants he’d made, and I wore it all the time.

On his next speech, he froze up again.  I could see how much it bothered him, and when I saw him outside I tried to encourage him.  Now, I don’t see how a fifteen-year-old girl could possibly help a full grown man.  It seemed right at the time, and I can only hope that he wasn’t offended.

But he never came to class again.

I still don’t know his name.  At the time, I didn’t understand anything about PTSD or what it would be like to go back to school when you’re twice the age of everyone else there.  Every now and then, he pops in my mind and I wonder what happened to him after that last unfinished speech.

And while I doubt he’d ever possibly read this, I hope he does and knows that someone is thinking about him on Veterans Day. (And I still have that pendant twenty years later!)

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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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Book Review: Always Darkest by Jess and Keith Flaherty

What’s better than winning a book giveaway?  Maybe finding out that it’s a paperback (because I’m just an old-fashioned girl, after all)?  Or that it’s signed?  Or that it’s just really, really good.  Always Darkest was all of that and more.

From the Back Cover:  

Everybody loves a hero.
Everybody loves an antihero with a heart of gold.
Nobody loves a demon.
Nobody but Mal Sinclair, though she doesn’t know it.
Ben was just looking for a vacation from hell, but wound up finding his life’s purpose instead.
Always Darkest, Book I of The Arbitratus Trilogy, draws you into a world of angels and demons walking among us, a world where good and evil are not absolutes. An ancient prophesy sets the stage, but the players will decide the outcome.
And the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

Always Darkest

What I Loved:  While I can’t say that I’m usually into the demons-and-angels genre, I really got sucked in by this book.  The premise was highly intriguing, especially as I started to get about a quarter of the way in.

One of the main characters is a demon, but he’s a surprisingly likable demon.  He’s easy to relate to, and I found myself rooting for him early on.  (What does it say about me that I’m on a demon’s side?)  But that was the case with several of the characters.  They had distinct personalities that made them memorable and delightful.

Interestingly enough, the book is written from an omniscient point of view.  This isn’t something I’ve come across very often, and I think it takes a lot of talent to pull it off successfully without making it seem like the author had just forgotten what POV he or she was using.  But the Flahertys really make it work.  It not only helps the depth of the book unfold, but also seems incredibly relevant considering the subject matter.  (Is God, in his omniscience, witnessing all of this?)

The descriptions are just wonderful!  I truly felt like I was in the story, whether I was meeting a character or exploring a new place.  Here are a few of my favorites:

“She had once been almost forbiddingly beautiful, but whatever she had been doing had corrupted her exterior and she was beginning to resemble her true nature; her former rich colors fading to grey, her teeth sharpening, her skin starting to crepe and sag.  She had all the warmth of a pit viper and made no secret of her contempt for demons.  The unblinking way she stared at him made Ben certain she was fantasizing about turning him inside out and leaving him hanging from a tree at midnight.”

“She spent some of her early years around New Englad, was born in Boston, but she had no memory of real time here, save for a vague sense she would like the smell of a Christmas tree in the house, and she might want to try her painfully underdeveloped artsy side by paining with her dad when the leaves changed.”  (Honestly, this is just a small part of about two pages that made me feel as though I was completely immersed in autumn.  Crisp air, sweatshirts, and hot coffee.  I loved it.)

“Life, after all, was cruel, and no one had ever promised him the afterlife wouldn’t be.”

I also have to say that any book that makes several mentions of Star Trek and mentions one of my favorite dishes to make that nobody has ever heard of (cassoulet) gets several points in my book.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  Right at first, it’s a little difficult to keep track of the characters because there are so many demons, fallen angels, and other various roles.  Fortunately, this clears itself up after the first couple of chapters.

Also, I think this book might make a little more sense to me if I knew more about the Bible, but that’s all on me.

Most of all, I just hated that it had to end.  I’m ready for the next one!

Rating and Recommendation:  5 stars

If you like intrigue, romance, ancient history brought to life, fantastical creatures, great dialogue, battle scenes, and the way you feel in the pit of your stomach when the seasons change, then you’ll love Always Darkest.

If you don’t like any of that, then you must be dead.

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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, Paradox, 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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The 90s are Back! Making Nice with Generational Appropriation

Little black backpack purses.  Chokers.  Cute dresses with big black combat boots.  Ringer tees.  Welcome to my teenage years…and apparently those of my kids as well.

I was overwhelmed by the 90s elements I noticed when I went to the mall a few weeks ago with my girls.  As I looked at my own daughter with her short overalls with one strap undone, I realized just how much my own past had snuck up on me.  (There’s a nice little splash of the mid-to-late 80s in there as well.)

thumbs up

At first, I thought it was great!  I loved seeing my  daughter dress the way I always wanted to.  I remember how my mom loved it when I wore bell bottoms as a kid.

But then I had to wonder how my parents’ generation actually felt about us when we walked around in our flared jeans with our hippie sunglasses and wore happy faces and flowers on everything.  Sure, the clothes were somewhat similar to what they had worn back in the 60s, but they weren’t born of any actual culture or trends that related to those times.  We hadn’t lived back then, and we didn’t know the significance of it. Were we taking anything away from that era by mocking it, or were we honoring it through imitation?

I didn’t think about it at all back then, but I am now.  For me, life during that decade was incredibly heavy and real.  Sometimes it was a good thing and sometimes bad, but it was a very vivid experience for me.  If I heard a 90s song on the radio, I remember just how much it impacted me when it was brand new. That doesn’t mean someone else can’t enjoy it, but I just don’t see how it can mean the same thing to them.  And the cargo pants, Skecher boots, and baby tees were just as significant.

The really interesting thing is that I can’t tell you just what made it all so significant.  I remember Operation Desert Storm, Lorena Bobbitt, the O.J. Simpson trial, and Dolly the sheep, but I don’t know how much these things actually affected me.  I honestly think it was more about the trials and tribulations of just being a teen and figuring things out, which is a difficult thing for most people.  Still, it’s hard to really say.

When we were prancing around in our velvet shirts and platform shoes, did the older generation wonder how we could possibly know what it was like to go through the civil rights movement, the first moon landing, or the assassination of JFK?  Or were they just happy to reminisce over their childhood?  (I mean, they didn’t have Facebook constantly asking them to take the ultimate Friends quiz or count down a list of the top toys from their youth.)

friends

I don’t know the answers.  I just know that my daughter dresses like Daria, and I think it’s adorable.

daria

 

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, Paradox, 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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