Merry Christmas, From One of the Oldest Christmas Gifts I Remember

Christmas is always a magical time of year, and even more so for children. In fact, that’s one of the things I miss about my kids being little. They still enjoy the season, but they don’t have the same kind of wonder they used to.

I’ve been spending the last couple of months rearranging my office, and I finally have a good place for an old friend of mine. Meet Fudge Bear.

Poor guy doesn’t have any of the fabric left on his nose, and there are some threads coming out of his paws, but he’s not in terrible shape after all these years!

I was in first grade when my parents and I were grocery shopping at our local membership warehouse. I spotted a huge cardboard box filled with the most adorable teddy bears. I was absolutely in love with the tweed bowties, noses, and paws! It broke my heart not to go home with one, but I made sure to talk to Santa about it.

To my delight, I got my very own bear on Christmas Day that year. I knew there had been a big bin of them at the store, but I was quite sure that mine was made by elves up in Santa’s workshop.

Over the years, and with several moves, a lot of my childhood possessions have been lost to time. Fudge, fortunately, isn’t one of them. He’s been on my bed, in the back of the closet, mixed in with my daughter’s stuffed animals, and seated on a random chair. Now he gets to stay in my office. Sometimes he’s in my desk chair, or in the reading chair, or on the blanket trunk, but he always has a place here.

Merry Christmas from Fudge Bear!

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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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Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie? The Debate is Settled!

It’s that time of year again. Christmas trees are in every window, shoppers are getting their last-minute gifts, and children are all hoping for that one special toy. But the most die-hard fans of Christmas are…watching Die Hard, right?

I personally love it when the old Is-Die-Hard-a-Christmas-Movie debate comes up on social media. It seems that everyone is particularly adamant about their opinion, although I’ve noticed that neither side usually backs it up with any proof.

To settle the debate once and for all, let’s take a look at the elements of a Christmas movie and whether or not John McClane and crew bring it to the table.

It’s the Holiday Season: I think we can all agree that a Christmas movie has to take place at Christmas time, at least in part. McClane comes into town for Holly’s company Christmas party, so there’s really no doubt as to the time of year. There’s not a lot of holiday music, since we mostly hear typical action movie soundtrack, but there is a little bit. There’s also lots of seasonal decor, some of which even gets used to fight the bad guys. John could’ve chosen regular old packing tape that I’m sure would be in that building somewhere to strap a gun to his back, but did he? No. He went for the Season’s Greetings tape, like any good little elf would do.

Isn’t it Romantic?: Most holiday films seem to have at least some romantic element to them. There’s something about this time of year that makes us all want to have our loved ones with us. George Bailey falls back in love with his wife (and his life) in It’s a Wonderful Life, and even Rudolph finds Clarice.

Personally, there’s no doubt to me that Die Hard is romantic. I remember seeing John McClane walk barefoot across broken glass when I was about ten (don’t worry, it was on cable and edited), and I thought it was the most heroic, romantic thing I’d ever seen. In fact, everything he goes through to save his estranged wife and as many other people as he can is one hell of a romantic sacrifice. And of course, despite their differences, John and Holly are together at the end.

Miracles Do Happen, Don’t They?: You can’t have a Christmas movie without a Christmas miracle! Whether it’s snow on Christmas Eve, a gift that only the real Santa could bring, or a crabby old man having a change of heart, something amazing has to happen!

You could say that Die Hard is full of Christmas miracles, actually. Do you think he would’ve survived that fall down the elevator shaft at any other time of year? Or his dive off the top of the building with a fire hose around his waist? How about the massive amount of blood he must’ve lost throughout the length of the film? And all while barefoot! These definitely aren’t everyday occurrences.

If those aren’t good enough Christmas miracles for you, then consider Sergeant Al Powell’s final act of shooting the last terrorist. He’d been so traumatized by a past mistake he’d made that he never thought he’d be able to draw a weapon again, not even to protect someone he loved. But the close bond he and McClane have built over the walkie-talkies gives him the courage to save his friend.

A Quotable Christmas: Many of the great Christmas classics have a great quote that just about everyone can recite. There’s Tiny Tim’s “God bless us, every one!” We all know that every time a bell rings, and angel gets its wings. One of my personal favorites is from Home Alone: Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal! While “Yippee ki yay, m*****f*****” might not make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, it sure is catchy.

In conclusion, I contend that Die Hard is absolutely a Christmas movie, considering that it has all the required elements. Is it fair to exclude it from the holiday movie list simply because of the action sequences, dead bodies, blood, and f-bombs? Maybe we should think about those as added bonuses, something for the grownups to enjoy after the kids have gone to bed and we don’t have to keep it PG anymore. Besides, this is a holiday movie that I can watch with my husband without him making fun of it, so it’s definitely staying on my list!

Merry Christmas, readers!

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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 Shadowscapes Tarot

It’s time once again for Tarot Tuesday! The energy of Monday is cleared away, and it’s time to look toward the rest of the week.

This week’s pull is from Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore. It’s a beautifully illustrated deck with a guidebook that reads like a fantasy novel.

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 Devil: Something is holding you back. You feel like you’re stuck, and probably not in a good place. However, just like the woman on the card, you actually have a way out if you will only look for it! Don’t let hindrances stop you from doing what you need to do.

#2 – Page of Swords: The page brings a message to you, and it is one of balance, clarity, and change. Keep your world balanced, but look at it with a youthful optimism. The page could also represent someone new coming into your life in a positive way.

#3 – The Chariot: You have a goal, and it’s time to set your plan forth in order to achieve it. Your drive and your stamina will get you most of the way there, but you need to forge your way forward on a determined path. This card also suggests balance, just as the Page of Swords did, so make sure you’re looking at everything around you and taking all into account before you charge forward.

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 or visit me on eBay (see link below) and we can get it arranged 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 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: Brian Prinzo II

I recently got to catch up with Brian Prinzo II, author of the recently released Cain and Abel: The Revelation, to explore his writing life and what’s behind his new book.

What inspired you to write Cain and Abel: The Revelation?

It started with my boredom with the science fiction section in my local library when I was in high school. I checked out and returned numerous books without finishing them because they couldn’t catch my attention. It also stemmed from my fantasies of being similar to the characters in Cain and Abel (having powers, inhuman strength, fighting bad guys and the forces of evil, etc.). So when I was in college, I started my own book to satisfy my bizarre imagination.

What’s your writing process like? Are you an outliner or a pantser?

I’m definitely a pantser. I started writing Cain and Abel before I had a full plot outlined. I was basically piecing together action sequences I had in my head and trying to make sense of them. I did make character descriptions with brief back stories and laid the foundation for the settings and the world, but beyond that there was little to no planning. Any English teacher would be rightfully whacking me on the knuckles with a yard stick for this.

Have you always been a writer?

I’ve always dreamed about being one, but I’m careful with the term. It’s hard for me in my mind to really define the word. Does having a published work make you one? If you’re sitting on thirty books that’ve never been published are you still considered a writer? I’ve tried my hands many times when I was younger, but I never really finished anything until Cain and Abel. Quite frankly, I almost gave up on that.

Coffee or tea?

Although I drink both, I definitely prefer tea. I’m currently hooked on Arnold Palmer (half tea, half lemonade).

Where’s your favorite place to write?

Usually on the couch in pajamas and a bathrobe with my laptop. I find my arms get strained really quickly when I sit at my desk, and I have all my notes in an app. It’s a little more comfortable that way, at least for me.

Are you reading anything good right now?

I am. I’m currently reading American Demon, and I have Million Dollar Demon on queue (both by Kim Harrison). Her Hollows series is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it to any fans of paranormal and dark fantasy. She definitely influenced me, but the biggest influence on my book was The Nimble Man by Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski. This is another all-time favorite of mine. I will say Kim Harrison is a little more in depth with her material concerning magic, but I would still suggest both.

What’s your favorite time of day?

I’m a bit of a night owl, but there are pros and cons to everything. I’ve read successful people are up very early and in bed very early but I can’t seem to get into that schedule (and I’m far from a millionaire).

Do you have any future books in the works?

I am working on a sequel to Cain and Abel, as of right now entitled Cain and Abel: The Resistance. I have no release date and I honestly don’t want to create an ETA because I write agonizingly slowly, and I sincerely have no idea when it will be done. I hit a bout of writers block with this title that was equivalent to a brick wall and it literally spent years collecting digital dust. This year however it started pouring out of me. This is one of the nice things about self publishing. You can move at your own pace with no agent breathing down your back. I will say however that as crazy as The Revelation is, The Resistance pretty much tells The Revelation to hold its beer.

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You can connect with Brian on Facebook, and be sure to check out Cain and Abel: The Revelation on Amazon. If you pick up a copy, make sure you go back and leave a review!

Thanks, Brian, for spending a little time with me to dive into your work!

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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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Christmas Movie Time! Single All the Way

It’s just one week until Christmas Eve! That means that amongst all the last-minute shopping, gift wrapping, and baking, there’s still time to watch Christmas movies! This is one of my favorite things about this time of year. It’s a lot less pressure than everything else. 🙂

Today’s selection was a new one this year, Single All the Way. I honestly skipped over it a few times as I was skimming Netflix. I mean, how many I’ll-pretend-I-have-a-significant-other-to-please-my-family-at-the-holidays movies can they make? It’s getting to be a pretty tired trope.

Fortunately, Single All the Way actually makes it work! I don’t want to give away too much, but there are some nice twists that make it fit a little bit less into that trope than it might seem. I also think it’s great that there are starting to be more Christmas romance movies about LGBTQ couples. Even better is that Peter’s family isn’t bothered in the least by the fact that he’s gay. It comes up, and they’re certainly aware of it, but nobody is trying to change him or get him to go out with a woman. His family genuinely loves him for who he is, and maybe they know him better than he knows himself.

I honestly really liked this movie, and it’s definitely going on my list of favorites.

What movies are you watching? Do you have any suggestions for me? Let me know!

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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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More Christmas Movies: Father Christmas is Back

I’ve mentioned before that it’s always a risk to try out a new Christmas movie. There are so many old classics to love, after all! But there are several newer ones that have become classics for me over the last few years, so I can’t help but try out at least a few new ones.

And it seems pretty safe when I see a new Christmas movie that is a Netflix original (often a good sign) and has a cast that includes Kelsey Grammer, John Cleese, and Elizabeth Hurley. Right?

Well…

This movie is nothing short of awkward. The basic storyline is that a father who left on Christmas Day over twenty years ago has finally returned. His four somewhat dysfunctional grown daughters now have to deal with it. Sure, this could be a great comedy, and it should be considering the cast. But it’s really not funny at all, and so much time is spent setting up how awful these people are that it becomes boring. It’s the family Christmas gathering that makes you wish you pretended to be sick and stayed home in your pajamas.

I recognize the looks on their faces. It’s the same look I had while trying to watch this movie.

I’m no great movie critic, and it’s difficult for me to pinpoint exactly what went wrong here. I just know that it did, at least for me.

Have you watched Father Christmas is Back? What did you think? I’d love to know!

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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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Christmas Movie Time! The Christmas Inheritance

While this year I’m hoping to explore some new holiday films I haven’t seen yet, I just couldn’t skip out on one that’s become a recent favorite: The Christmas Inheritance.

Here’s a quick summary from IMDB: Before ambitious heiress Ellen Langford can inherit her father’s gift business, she must deliver a special Christmas card to her dad’s former partner in Snow Falls, the hometown she never knew. When a snowstorm strands her at the town inn, she’s forced to work for her keep, and in the process, finds romance and discovers the true gift of Christmas.

With the typical Christmas romance trope of a spoiled young woman who has to return to a small town to fulfill the family tradition, The Christmas Inheritance has just about everything you’d expect: a cute inn, a guy who’s heart has been broken, troubles that keep our heroine from just running back to the city, and a scene that makes me sob every single time no matter how many times I watch it.

Even though I’ve pretty much watched this movie every year since it came out, it was still absolutely worth having on while I wrapped Christmas presents. (Sorry to anyone who has tear stains on their gift…see note about the scene that makes me cry.) The acting is actually pretty good, which doesn’t always happen in movies like this. The story isn’t particularly new or earthshattering, but it’s definitely satisfying. If you’re looking for warm, fuzzy feelings as you curl up with your mug of hot cocoa, then The Christmas Inheritance is it!

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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!

Close up hot cappuccino white coffee cup with heart shape latte art on dark brown old wood table at cafe,food and drink concept.

Like what you’re reading?

Consider buying me a cup of coffee to help keep this blog going! Every bit helps!

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Tarot Tuesday: New Deck! The Muse Tarot by Chris-Anne

Here’s the other new deck I promised last week! I often pick decks that are based around nature, past lives, and mystical images. The Muse Tarot by Chris-Anne, however, really pulled at me while I was shopping around.

The images are much more modern than anything else I have, but I just love them! I think variety is important, and I’m sure there will be times when the questions at hand require this deck instead of others. You can see below that there are modernized version of some cards that are familiar, but (like with many other decks) the suits are slightly different.

The backs of the cards also have a beautiful, simplistic design. Even the inside of the box is pretty!

I look forward to getting to know this deck better, and you’ll be seeing it added to my rotation soon enough! Are there any tarot or oracle decks that you’d like to explore?

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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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Giveaway Alert! Autographed Copy of Once a Wanderer

Hi and Happy Monday! It’s time to do another giveaway! This week it’s an autographed copy of Once a Wanderer, written by yours truly! This is the second book in the series, and you can find the first one here.

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!

Congratulations to Keith W., winner of last week’s giveaway!

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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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Guest Post: Blending and Balancing Work and Home by Barbori Garnet

This guest post is by Barbori Garnet, author of Home at the Office: Working Remotely as a Way of Life.

The boundaries between work and home can become blurred, or perhaps even seem nonexistent, when working from home. To help with the balance between work and home, below are some ideas to make that happen.

Try journaling – Start your day or wind down your evening with journaling. It can be an excellent way to focus your thoughts before beginning work or getting your thoughts down to help you relax before bed. Choose a notebook that you like and a comfortable place to settle in, with a cup of tea in hand, for a special time of journaling.

Go outside – It can be as short as 10 or 15 minutes or as long as an hour – or longer – just as along as you get outside for a walk, jog, bike ride, ice skate, or cross-country ski. Getting fresh air and moving your body will help you reset during your work day – such as during your lunch break – or in the morning or afternoon, if you have some flexibility in your work hours or schedule.

Take breaks at home – Even at home, you can implement a few changes that will help establish a clear boundary between work and home. Some things to try include:

  • having a picnic lunch on your porch or in your yard
  • taking quick 5-minute exercise breaks throughout your work day to weightlift, do squats, lunges, or jumping jacks
  • depending on the season and climate you are in, spending 15 minutes in your garden planting, watering, or weeding can help to take a step back and come back refreshed

I hope that, by giving the above suggestions a try and including the ideas throughout your day, you will find more balance between work and home, making both more enjoyable.

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Barbori Garnet is a writer and author of Home at the Office: Working Remotely as a Way of Life (Atmosphere Press, September 2021), artist, musician, and gardener based in Alberta. She
enjoys writing non-fiction and writes on remote work, home offices, gardening, and more.

Barbori has a BFA from Academy of Art University and an MA from Southern
New Hampshire University.

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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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