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Giveaway Alert! Remembering Calix by Ashley O’Melia

This month’s giveaway is for a Kindle copy of Remembering Calix. It’s a short sci-fi romance that I hope you’ll enjoy!

Calix wakes up in the wildlands of Alcor, unsure of exactly where she is. More importantly, she doesn’t really know who she is. Pairing up with a wanted criminal who insists on helping her, she journeys through the wildlands and into the city to discover her past and change her future.

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 planet is!

The contest will stay open through the end of February! 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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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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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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Remembering Calix Now Available for Kindle!

If you preordered Remembering Calix, it should now be available on your Kindle device! Didn’t preorder? That’s okay, because now you can just go buy it! This is a little sci-fi space opera that just wouldn’t leave me alone, and I had to write it. I hope you enjoy!

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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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Cover Reveal and Pre-Order Available!

I’m happy to say that Remembering Calix is now officially available for pre-order! It will download automatically to your Kindle reader on July 1st! To celebrate, I’m sharing the full cover with you. Enjoy!

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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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Cover Tease for Remembering Calix

My newest novella, Remembering Calix, is currently available for pre-order! Check out a partial cover reveal below, and keep your eyes open for the full, official cover!

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

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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.

Be sure to check out the monthly giveaway!

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.  Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for news and more!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  I will always give you my honest opinion about an item when linking to it.

 

 

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Book Review – The Troubled Youth by Anthony Miner

When two people are forced to confront their past and their future all at once, how can they possibly handle it?  That’s what you’ll discover in The Troubled Youth by Anthony Miner.

From the Cover:  Jackson and Samantha live modestly in a small apartment in Upstate New York when tragedy strikes Jackson’s family back in his hometown of Lake Joy, Massachusetts. Now the couple, along with their two cats, pack up their lives to take care of the family he left behind years ago.
The Troubled Youth is a novel about the two of the most drastic parts of life; heartache and love. For Jackson, it follows his journey back to a place he long forgot with the added pressure of grieving over the loss of a loved one. And for Samantha, the story shows growth and pain of adjusting to a new life. As a couple, they will struggle and mature. But the more they seem to learn from each other, the more their past mistakes will come back to push them away.
Regular everyday life rarely offers a clear cut good and evil. There is just opinions mixed with choices. Read the story of this fiction and follow a realistic story of a young couple that make plenty of mistakes along their path to understanding the losses of loved ones and finding a life they never expected.

What I Loved:  There is a very real love between the two main characters that’s palpable throughout the book.  Despite all the problems they’re facing, it’s obvious just how much they care about each other and that their love is the central core of their entire being.

The Troubled Youth deals with the very real problems of adulthood.  While Jackson’s family tragedy is (hopefully) much more than most of us would ever have to deal with, it asks the questions:  What would we do if we had to make the toughest decisions in life?  Where do we draw the line when it comes to our loved ones?  Is there a line?

This book has a very distinct feel and tone to it that makes it incredibly real.  While the characters could have been sitting in any old kitchen, I immediately envisioned them as being in the house I grew up in.  That might not have been what the author intended, but it worked very well at keeping this a relatable story.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  While the flashbacks do a great job of revealing the character’s backgrounds, they tend to jump out and take the forefront of the story.  For example:

At the very beginning, when Jackson is getting some horrible news, we take a big side step into the other times the main character has cried in front of his fiancé.  It feels like such an awkward thing to do at that moment, especially when the author begins talking about the montage at the Hall of Presidents at Disney World.  He mentions a speech by President George W. Bush right after 9/11, and I immediately opened a new tab to look it up.  I had completely forgotten about this particular moment, and it was quite moving just as the main character had promised.  I’m not sure, though, that this was the right place to bring it up.  It makes this whole section very jumbled.

Also, this book could have been better edited.  There were quite a few awkward sentences, as well as some incomplete sentences, missing words, or misplaced commas.  Sometimes the wrong tense is used.  Some of this is more acceptable than it might be in a different piece due to the casual tone of the book, but I still found it distracting.

Rating and Recommendation:  While there were some editing issues, I think overall this is a really great story.  I don’t typically go for real-life dramas, but I’m happy that I read it.  There’s something different about it, and it truly made me feel as though I was going back home and having to deal with all the consequences that come along with that.  I give The Troubled Youth 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a cathartic and emotional read.

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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, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.  Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list for news and giveaways!

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August Book Giveaway!

Everyone likes to win free books, right?  I know I do!  Just click here.

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Book Review – You Dear, Sweet Man by Thomas Neviaser

How much attention do you give to the advertisements that surround you every day?  They’re constantly there, and many of them barely even register.  But what if one of them insisted that you pay attention?  Such is the case in You Dear, Sweet Man.

Note:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  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.  I will always give you my honest opinion on something before linking to it.

You Dear, Sweet Man is the story of a burger joint that will go to any lengths needed to redesign its marketing campaign and keep up with the times.  It’s also the story of a burned out man in search of something new in his life.  There’s also the story of the two young-and-hungry men who are desperate to help make the ad happen, and the woman who is manipulating all of them.

What I Loved:  This story was so very different from anything I’ve read recently, and I mean that in a good way.  It wasn’t just your average genre fiction.  The characters were well-developed and described, making them easy to differentiate from each other and to envision as I read.  The story held my attention even when I really wasn’t certain what direction the story was heading.  I think this is in large part because the opening chapter was such a great hook, and it made me want to know more.  There’s also just a great sense of suspense.  Once I finished, I felt that You Dear, Sweet Man had an ending reminiscent of something out of the Twilight Zone.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  Unfortunately, this book could really use some better editing.  There were repeated or missing words and redundant phrasing that needed to be taken care of.  Overall, the story was well-written, but I found these distracting.

I also felt that the ending could have used a little bit more explanation.  I don’t want to go into anything specific in order to avoid spoilers, but I wish there was a little bit more clarification.  Perhaps it was meant to be somewhat mysterious, and I can see how that works, but I’m one of those people who really likes to understand what’s going on.

Rating and Recommendations:  I hovered back and forth for the star rating on this one because I was slightly disappointed at the end.  Since it is so innovative and well-written, though, I’m giving it 4 stars.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes science fiction when it’s incorporated into our current way of life.

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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.

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.

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