Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

I'd like to say good riddance. But it wasn't the year's fault. All in all, it was an extremely educational year. I know more. I've let go of more.

I've found more.

Goodbye to depression. Junk food. Ice cream. Sugar. And, oh dear lord, goodbye to Coca-Cola and all its relatives.

Goodbye lethargy. Goodbye lack of motivation. Goodbye wallowing. Goodbye fatigue. Goodbye to sleeping nine-ten hours a day.

Goodbye slouchy chair. Goodbye having no money. Goodbye doing without.

Goodbye to feeling awful. Finally.

So in these last few minutes of 2010's lifebreath, I raise my glass.

I toast you 2010.

Here's to the year that launched my writing career, brought me many new friends, gave me back the home I never thought I wanted, and the family I didn't think I had.

Thank you 2010.

For reunions. For sister cousins. For coming home. And for bringing my brother home.

Thank you for unveiling my voice.

And now, five minutes before midnight, I bid you adieu. And will see you, on the morrow, in 2011.

Happy New Year, Olivia J. Herrell

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yay Me!

I finally, finally, finally updated the look of my blog. Whaddya think?

Yeah. It's green. I haven't got the shade quite right. Not yet, anyway. It's so close, but...(Yes, that was a shameless plug for my friend, Elliot Grace, whose breakout novel South of Charm will be out in 2011. To read more about it, click on the cover in the right sidebar.

More to come. New things are afoot for 2011.

Happy Early New Year!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Little Ol' Quixote Me

Having eaten at plenty of Chinese restaurants over the years, and being an avid reader of anything with words on it, including placemats, I knew that my Chinese zodiac sign was the Rooster.

But it had never occurred to me that I am, indeed, very rooster-ish. I stumbled across a website yesterday: chingoracle.com. What I found was an eerily spot-on description of me:

"The Rooster is the Don Quixote of the Chinese cycle. It is the intrepid hero who needs to keep its feet firmly on the ground. In order to survive, it's the most eccentric and misunderstood of all the signs. From the outside, we see aggression and self-confidence but deep down, he or she is conservative and old-fashioned.

Those born in the Year of the Rooster, especially men, will be attractive, even really handsome. They are proud of their fine feathers and carry themselves well. You'll never see a listless Rooster. They are very dignified and even the most timid of the Rooster family will be elegant and will be noticed wherever he or she goes.

There are different types of Rooster: chatty ones (me) and solemn observers. It's difficult to deal with both. (Ouch!) The Rooster has many noticeable qualities and is shrewd, attractive, precise, organized, decisive, honest, on the ball and very frank. But he or she can also be brutally critical. Never ask a Rooster for his or her honest opinion as you may never get over the trauma! (Me? Never!)

Roosters love discussing and debating (to show just how intelligent they are) and sometimes don't respect others as they ought to. (Guilty.) When someone ruffles the Rooster's feathers, he or she becomes intolerable. Roosters are not cut out for diplomacy, so situations which demand tact, delicacy and discretion are difficult for them. They go around trying to convince others to think their way, with the zeal of a missionary. (Ouch, ouch, and triple ouch.)

A showy type, the Rooster loves being the center of attention (coughcough). He or she has an imposing personality and could work in a career in the public eye. Cheerful, lively and amusing, the magnificent Rooster never misses a chance to list his adventures and feats.


Looney Tunes (In)famous Foghorn Leghorn
Eloquent, Roosters have good verbal and written communication skills and are prepared to talk on any topic. If you want to challenge the Rooster to discuss a controversial topic, be ready for a long, hard battle: the Rooster is extraordinarily resistant."

Oh. My. God. Well, if nothing else, it's food for thought as I look back at 2010 and forward to 2011. Thank you to Andrew Rosenberg at The WriteRunner for getting the ball rolling in that direction. And thank you to chingoracle.com for dangling my idiosynchrosies in front of me.

As for 2011, the first six months I'll be focusing on poundage: letting go of 35 pounds and pounding out a 110,000 word manuscript. That's about 1 1/2 pounds a week and 600 words a day, both doable. Then, as a birthday present to myself on June 30th, I will be 35 pounds lighter and hold the first draft to my new bestseller!

What are you looking forward to in 2011?

"Every single life only becomes great when the individual sets upon a goal or goals which they really believe in, which they can really commit themselves to, which they can put their whole heart and soul into." ~ Brian Tracy

Here's to a brand new year, one in which we all get a little closer to that big brass ring.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Public domain images courtesy of bing.com.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Card

It's been a day of making candy,
Hanging out with furry,
Four-legged beasts,
And listening to old Christmas favorites.

Now I'm off to bed
To await Santa's tread
With visions of pralines
Dancing in my head.

Merry Christmas.
Peace on Earth
Silent night.
Holy child.

May you be surrounded
By all you hold dear,
And may you hold dear
All that which surrounds you.

Merry Christmas 2010.



I'm predicting (and hoping for) a white Christmas. Intellicast says there is a chance of snow for the Atlanta area. Happy Christmas to each and every one of you, whether you celebrate of not.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Gifts We Lay

Last year I picked up a $5 Christmas CD while shopping at Kohl's. The proceeds went to charity and I needed some new tunes. Last week I finally listened to it.

First time through, I was a mite annoyed. The songs were different.

Second time through, I recognized voices.

The third time, I listened with a different ear. Turns out, it's a fabulous rock/bluesy Christmas CD, the perfect addition to my library.

Track one is my favorite: Rob Thomas singing "A New York City Christmas'. Every word is poignant. Each note, pleading.



His words stopped me. They made me wonder.

"...Yeah I'm sending you a Merry New York Christmas
And a prayer for peace on earth
Within our time
Oh, the sidewalk angels echo hallelujah
And we understand them
Now more than ever..."


And we understand them? Really? I never stopped to do that. I never tried to understand them. Not the sidewalk angels. Nor the others, either.

I remember feeling unsafe in the days following 9/11. More than once, I imagined myself cowering in a closet, bombs exploding in my back yard, the 'enemy' advancing on my neighborhood. I felt what that must feel like. What too many feel every day.

Awful, awful, awful.

Now, digging deep, I find a memory and dust it off. It's 1970. I'm in 7th grade. The teacher closes the blinds and hushes a darkened room full of expectant pre and barely-teens. Then the whirring begins as the 8mm film threads itself. Suddenly Stalin's armies burst on scene. Bombing Poland.

In black and white the shells whistled. Buildings exploded. Unceasing. Relentless. Panzers rolling in to cities reduced to rubble, residents surely shaking in their shoes. If they had any left after the long, cruel 2nd world war.

It was supposed to be over. Their side, our side, had won. So why didn't the allied forces stop Stalin?

No one came. Not the English. Not the Americans. In spite of Poland's repeated and frenzied cries for help, the great nations looked away. Broken and battered, the Poles caved and Stalin installed a communist government in Warsaw. Wasn't that what our forebears had been fighting against all along?

I cried angry tears. Tears of anguish. Tears of shame. I was thirteen. Like the Poles I couldn't fathom why my country didn't help them. Then time marched on and I forgot what I didn't understand.

Fast forward forty years to 2010. To me, listening to Rob Thomas's Christmas song.

"...Call on your angels
Come down to the city
Crowd around the big tree
All you strangers who know me
Bring your compassion
Your understanding
Lord how we need it
On this New York City Christmas..."


Call me slow. But happy Christmas. I finally understand.

"...So call on your angels
Your beaten and broken
It's time that we mend them
So they don't fade with the season
Let our mercy be the gifts we lay
From Brooklyn to Broadway
And celebrate each and every day
This New York City Christmas."


My wish this holiday season
Is that we all find understanding.

That compassion guide us.

And that mercy be the gifts we lay.

Hallelujah.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

**Disclaimer: I am no expert on foreign affairs, or world wars, or he said/she said. I'm just reporting my own experience. No more.**

Rob Thomas video courtesy of youtube.com. Lyrics courtesy of lyrics007.com. Polish memory jogger courtesy of Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Christmas, War is Over

The other day I posted a video of Celtic Thunder performing the classic "Christmas of 1915". Would that we could create our own video, only this time sharing the news that war is truly over. Forever. Not just for one day on Christmas.

In "One" Richard Bach not only postulates such a scenario, he shows us the games that the world's countries played to see who were the most amazing pilots, etc. They played at games rather than at war. No one got hurt. Except for an unfortunate pilot here and there who spiralled out of control. Oh, how I wish that time were now.

Rolling Stone: Lennon's Last Interview
Today is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's murder. The world mourns a hero. I mourn him. He was a peace activist when there was still such a thing. What has happened to us as a society that we now are complicit in waging war rather than insist on waging peace? We used to carry signs. We used to raise our voices. Today, I'm raising mine.

War is a money making machine for some. War got us out of the great depression. Well hell. Today, war puts us deeper and deeper in to one. And takes the lives of our children. Our sons. Our daughters. Our loved ones. It claims the lives of innocents. And it claims their souls. Ask any veteran.

I realize that talking about this might make me unpopular. You may even 'hate' me for it. There is so much hate talk these days that it scares the living Dickens out of me. Even Americans hating Americans.

But today, I don't care how unpopular this makes me. This is my truth. War kills. It maims. It wounds. It takes away the very soul of our soldiers and our country. Yes, it takes mine and yours, too.

In honor of John Lennon and the rest of our fallen heroes (both dead and alive), here's John and Yoko singing my favorite Christmas song, "Happy Christmas, War is Over". This, by the way, is the prettied up version. If you have the guts to see what war really is, then click the link after the video instead. This is what John saw. What our soldiers see. This is what I see.

Happy Christmas. Let war end.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8jw-ifqwkM

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let There Be Peace On Earth

In the last three days I've seen Celtic Thunder mentioned four times. Twice channel surfing: PBS is airing the Christmas concert. Then February Grace at Pitch Slapped posted a link on Facebook. And now I've received an email from a friend with a different video.

I ascribe to the theory that, while life might be random, there are no coincidences. My second novel has roots in ancient Celtic tradition. And four mentions in three days bears paying attention.

I listened to the song Bru posted and found it lilting, lyrical and haunting. Then I clicked over and sat, tears streaming, listening to the song that had been forwarded.

You've probably heard it before. Here it is again. Celtic Thunder performing an old classic, "Christmas 1915".

Celtic Thunder - "Christmas 1915"

As this song intimates, I believe that people don't make war, governments do. Religions do. Greed does. Call me naive. Or stupid. But don't try to change my mind. I have friends from Iraq, Iran, Afganistan, Turkey, Germany, Russia, China, Korea and Vietnam. They have hearts. They bleed. They cry. They have families. And they want peace, just like you and I.

Reach out. Love someone. Forgive someone. Let go of ill will.

For another bit of musical delight, check out Gladys Knight performing "Let There Be Peace On Earth".

Let there be peace on earth. And let it begin with me.

'Tis the Season ~ Olivia J. Herrell

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Morning Wonders

I wrote this last Sunday, but didn't have time to complete it for posting. Mixed throughout, are pictures taken the evening before at sunset.

It's Thanksgiving Sunday. Tomorrow we go home. But for today, I am here. At the beach.

I woke early, but not before the sun. Sitting on the deck, I basked in her glory, bundled in sweats and heavy socks against the chill. The air was still, the wind as light as a whisper and smelling of morning.

I watched a tiny bird standing in place at the water's edge. She seemed to be lost in quiet contemplation, her Sunday morning devotional, meditating on the riches and wonders of earth's bounty.

She stood her ground as the waves rolled within inches of her feet, so lost was she in her reverie.

By and by, a seagull cried out as he wheeled above her, raising an alarm. Soon he came to rest beside his friend, leaned over and murmurred something. I think it went something like this, "Why good morning, Myrtle. My, but aren't you looking mahhvelous today."

Myrtle, not wishing to be disturbed, merely kept her eyes on the horizon. I wondered if perhaps she was waiting for her own Cap'n Turner.

Hector, however, was on a mission. "Myrtle, just so's you know, a man approaches. Fly, fly, fly away now, and save yourself."

Myrtle ignored him, though she cast a wary eye down the beach. Hector walked a few steps away, placing himself squarely in the man's path. I swear the little gull assumed a warrior stance and waited for the intruder to reach them. Myrtle continued contemplating the restless tide.

Soon, the man was within a few feet and Hector gave ground, walking a few steps away from the water. A moment later, Myrtle followed, keeping Hector between her and the man.

As soon as the man passed, Myrtle resumed her solitary stance at the water's edge.

Hector, free to carry on his morning browsing, departed.

How blessed I feel to partake in their morning ritual, even as an onlooker.

What a beautiful way to spend a morning. On the beach. In the sun. Sharing devotion with a couple of feathered friends.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. My heart and prayers go out to Bryan at The Time Guardian Saga. He lost his beloved sister on November 6th and just posted a beautiful and touching tribute. If you don't already follow Bryan, please click over and give him some love.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What Are You Thankful For Today?

Me? I'm grateful for (among other things):

Oceans. The Gulf of Mexico. Lost Keys. Perdido Bay. Orange Beach. Alabama. Generosity. Aunt Dixie. Kek. Mini Coopers. Going topless (the car, silly). iPod shuffle. Cranking it up. Bopping to the music. Swapping stories. Fond memories. Adventure. Fellow travelers. Soul sisters. Second chances.

Beach artists. Messages in the sand. Sand fences. Early risers. Sleeping late. Green tea. California almonds. Tazo. Macy's Parade. Times Square. Laptops. Wireless connections. Blogger. My Blogger family. Sisters. Brothers. Father. Mother.

Waves crashing. Sensitive ears. Pondering all manner of life. Wisdom. Philosophizing.  

Angles. Walkways. Eleventh floors. Eco-conscious board of directors. Sea oat restoration. Jeff, whoever he may be. Warped senses of humor. (You do see it, right?)

Footprints in the sand. Fan patterns. Waves crashing. Souls cleansing.
There and back again trails. Young lovers (no, I did NOT take a picture). Smiles to last a lifetime.

I hope you enjoy your day, wherever you are. Honor what was and find the beauty in what is. Love. Laugh. Live.

I promise you, I am.

Happy Thanks Giving to All, Olivia

Monday, November 22, 2010

Go Figure

I see puzzle pieces.
Everywhere.
I close my eyes.
And there they are.
Superimposed over
Everything else.

AND

I hear pirate music.
It's haunting refrain
Replays in my head
The king and his men
Stole the queen
From her bed...



Think I need a break from the jigsaw?
And Pirates??
Yo ho, all together
Hoist the colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars
Never shall we die.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. Just found out I'm going to the beach for Thanksgiving weekend. Yeeeeeehaaaaaaa!
P.P.S. Maybe I'll find me a pirate. Arrrrr.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jolting the Brain Waves

I've been watching reruns of Harry Potter (plus I/VII, yes I loved it) and Pirates of the Caribbean. Visiting relatives. Trekking to Gainesville to apply for unemployment benefits (please pray that I have a valid claim). Dreaming. Pondering the new story. Just in case you missed me.

Am I hiding out? Me? Yeah, probably.

I am also piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. Obsessively.

I recently read a post by Tabitha Bird that reminded me how much I love jigsaw puzzles. I searched through scores of them at the local Super Walmart and selected one of an English castle adorned with beautiful flowers.

Castle Gardens by Mega Puzzles


I chose this particular one, NOT because it has 1500 pieces, but because my new novel starts out in medieval England. Plus, I love flowers and beautiful gardens.

A phenomenon occurs when performing mundane tasks, the mind has a way of wandering. Ponderizing, as my friend Eric calls it.

Doing jigsaws, on the other hand, requires the brain to pay attention. There is little wandering going on as the eye searches and matches endless hues of colors, shapes and textures.

But it does put the brain in to an alpha meditative state which brings calm, peace and quiet. It also integrates the use of both sides of the brain, increases dopamine output, and gives one a sense of making order out of chaos. It flexes the mind leading to a longer life and to a better quality of life.

Puzzle in Progress

But mostly, for me, I'm hoping it does this:

"...The jigsaw puzzle is a metaphor for life. Challenges we face with our jobs, relationships, and health can leave us confused and overwhelmed. These challenges are easily likened to the fragmented jigsaw puzzle, with so many disconnected pieces and no clear starting point. By physically piecing a jigsaw puzzle together while in a powerfully creative meditative state, we are shifting the focus in our subconscious from confusion and inundation to proactively working on the solution. We become “rewired” to take a more balanced, holistic view of our lives, considering all the little pieces, but also how they fit into the big picture. We begin to make connections between things that may have previously seemed unrelated, such as relationships between our emotions and our state of health. Patterns begin to make sense as we focus that positive energy and apply it within our own lives. As the jigsaw puzzle takes shape, the different parts of our lives start coming together to form a sensible picture..." ~ excerpt from a fantastic article by Trish Donroe Parker, Homeopath and Owner of Connections, Jigsaw Puzzles for Healing.

It doesn't hurt that working on jigsaw puzzles also enhances creativity. Yeehaa.

Of course, according to research at the University of Liverpool, I could read Shakespeare and get many of these same effects. Who knew?

What do you do to exercise your brain? Read Shakespeare? Work jigsaw puzzles? Meditate? Sit and stare at the clouds?

Walmart Clouds



~ Olivia J. Herrell


Friday, November 12, 2010

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

Every day I get an email with a tarot card reading from Astrology.com. Some days I read it, some days I don't. Something told me to click today, so I did. And this one is perfect.

It sums, in a nutshell, the place at which I find myself.
 "The Ten of Chalices card suggests that my power today lies in completion. I celebrate and am grateful for captured moments of simple perfection. Satisfying my hearts desire connects me by example to love, beauty, pleasure, and happiness in those around me and gives me confidence to take it to the next level. ""We made it."" Unconditional love makes a family and home is where the heart is, so at last, I am never alone. I am empowered by gratitude and my gift is emotional fulfillment."

I am at another crossroads, one in which family plays a huge part.

I've fallen and I can't get up. Yesterday I realized that each time in the past when my world fell down around my ears, my mother was always, always there for me.

She wasn't a lovey-dovey mother, though she loved me more than words could say. She was more the tough love type. You know the kind. Just watch "Ray" if you don't.

I stood looking out my living room window, staring at the dead and dying leaves as they fluttered in the breeze. I'd just hung up the phone with a friend who'd told me her mother had flown home a day early and was driving up from Atlanta to be with her at a funeral. Her mother barely knew the deceased, but because Elaine needed her, she was coming.

I stood with both hands clutching my sweats as if about to wade through deep water. Only my knuckles were white in a death grip. Grief welled up and the tears leaked out. Instead of wiping them away, I let them flow.

And flashed back to scenes of me sitting beside Mama in the clinic, her hand resting on my shoulder as she fondled my hair. Mama beside my hospital bed. Mama letting me sleep in her bed when I was frightened or sick. Mama picking me up at the police station. Mama taking me to ER with a broken arm or to the doctor with an allergic reaction to a drug. Mama taking me in when I had nowhere else to go.

Her quiet courage, her unflinching resolve, her unwavering support. No matter what. No matter how badly I'd messed up. No matter how many times my heart was broken. No matter how bad my pain was or whether it was convenient for her or not. She was always, always there.

I let the memories wash over me as I stood clutching my pants, rocking side to side, tears flowing freely, unwilling to wipe them away or blow my nose, not wanting to staunch the memories.

Then came the deep inner knowing that I've fallen and I can't get up. Because my mama's not here to make it better. There is no steady compassion, no mother's love to help me heal.

Finally, I sat down. And cried some more. And in the middle of all that, memories of my aunt crept in. My aunt in Villa Rica, another who has always been there for me. And as sure as the sun will rise in the morning, I knew that I need her now.

So I made the call. I will see her this weekend. And spend Thanksgiving with her.

I need my family. I need my mama. I need my aunt.

So what that I'm in my 50's. I need my mama. Because I've fallen and I can't get up.



~Olivia J. Herrell

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cleaning Out the Award Closet

First off, I want to say a hearty THANK YOU to J.C. Martin @ Fighter Writer for showcasing That Rebel on her blog on Friday. Each week she highlights one of her followers and I LOVE this idea. What a wonderful way to say thank you. J.C., you rock! Oh yeah, and she just got published!

Thank you to Donna Hole for awarding That Rebel the Happy101 Award. Donna honored me weeks ago and has probably forgotten all about it. But luckily I stored the award on the shelf, to remind me.



Thanks, Donna. And thank you for not giving up on me when I all but disappeared. I'm passing this Happy 101 to Jules the Rainbow Rebel, Words Crafter, Mary @ Giggles, Yvonne the poet, Terry, Postman and Melissa.
Next is the Honest Scrap Award. Thank you to Jules at Trying to Get Over That Rainbow, who gifted me with this one. HEY! Isn't that the Arm & Hammer dude?

Okay. So these 10 things will cover all the awards, okay? Hmm...

1) I started my second novel and am about 2000 words in. I have a working title, but it's not the one I want. So I can't share that yet.

2) No, I haven't finished Churches, Chickens and ChiChi's, I'm about halfway in to that one.

3) Yes, new novel jumped in and took over, demanding to be written NOW.

4) I've spent most of the last two weeks researching background for my new novel, delving in to all sorts of new realms and loving every minute of it.

5) The medication has kicked in and the depression is lifting. Some days are better than others. A couple of weeks ago I got a whole lot of work-type stuff done. The last two were about writing. This week, hopefully, will be about both.

6) While in the pit aka the wild gray yonder, I couldn't do diddly. Not write, blog, read, work, answer the phone, socialize, nor much of anything else. Other than watch movies and television and sleep for hours and hours and hours. Oh yeah. And eat.

7) Black Betty (my car) needs a new battery. And I need Click and Clack to tell me what's making those funny popping noises under my front end. Or is it in the back? A mechanic rode with me for an hour the other evening and she refused to misbehave for him.

8) I'm on a sugar tear and the cupcakes on two of these awards are looking might-y good right now.

8) I'm having fun falling back in love with my hometown, Villa Rica. We're taking it slow and easy and so far, so good.

9) I'd like to get another cat for Bugsy to play with. But who knows where I'll land next and finding a home for two is harder than for one. Or not. We'll see.

10) I can't eat eggs which led me to explore other options for breakfast. One of my favorites is shelled hemp hearts mixed with a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. This morning it was a pear and vanilla mixed with five tablespoons of hemp seeds/hearts. They have a buttery, nutty flavor and are full of protein, Omega 3s and 6s, and are a great source of Vitamin D.

11) Did anyone notice that I have two number eights so you got eleven factoids rather than ten?

I'm passing the Honest Scrap award to a few people who, like me, are a-okay with baring all. These are some of the guts-sharing-est people I know. If you are a regular here, you'll recognize most of them.

Elliot @ So close, but... makes me cry with his elegant, gut-wrenching honesty.

Kobico @ Mindless Meanderings of a Middle-Aged Maniac. The first day I read her blog I knew she was a true sister because I had walked a mile or two in her shoes. She weaves the triumphs, trials and tribulations of her life in to magic. I always relate to something in her topic. She's also an avid home gardener.

Eric W. Trant @ Digging with the Worms is about as straight-forward and brutally honest as one can be, letting it all hang out, warts and all. I admire you for that, Eric. Never stop. This one's for you, Texas Rebel. Is that why y'all got a dubya in yur name?

Ivy Bliss @ every head I've had the pleasure to have known. Ivy is about four-foot-nuthin tall. Well, maybe I exaggerate a little. But you would never know it by reading her blog. This woman's a giant. And another let-it-all-hang-out kinda gal. I promise you will grin, if not outright guffaw when you read her posts.

Then there's Arlee Bird over @ tossing it out. On Wednesday's he does memoir. And boy does he do memoir.

Swinging around the circuit, I keep bumping in to Roland D. Yeomans @ Writing in the Crosshairs. The truth about Roland, who he is and what's going on in his world leaks out of his daily posts. These are usually writing lessons extraordinaire, including guest posts from the likes of Mark Twain (whose own memoir will finally be released), Raymond Chandler and Ernest Hemingway (who has it out for Roland). He's also generous with excerpts of his own short stories and novels.

Donna Hole is another one that speaks her mind. And her heart. Most recently she's agonizing about her writer status. Donna, you are an amazing writer. No doubt about it. You're also one of the most generous people I know.

I recently discovered Jayne @ A Novice Novelist who makes me smile with descriptions of what's going on in her world in the U.K.

Lastly, I found Tabitha Bird @ Through My Eyes a few weeks ago when I was in the middle of that dark depression and rarely on Blogger. Reading about her journey and her awarenesses touched a place inside me that needed to be sparked. She's on hiatus right now to finish editing her memoir, but I've linked you to the post that touched me so. Also read her puzzle piece post.


This award is full of Sweetness!

Thank you to Kathie at Just a Happy Housewife for The Icing on the Cake Award. I believe there was a tell-all attached to this one, too, but I've already bared all I'm allowed for one day. Kathie has a wonderful blog that lifts me up every time I read her.

This award goes to...hmm...actually, if you're here, reading this post and you don't already have this award, go ahead and grab it. It's so hard to choose and I love you all!

Now, for some music. Kek recently turned me on to the late Eva Cassidy. This cover tune is for a friend whose feelings I hurt a while back. We're all good now but: fact number twelve: I can be a bit callous at times. I know. Big surprise, huh? That Rebel's not perfect. Dang.



~That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Creativity Has No Bounds

Check these guys rocking out on a NYC subway on iPhones!


Wimp.com posted this today on Facebook. I just had to share.

Make the world smile. Have a creative day! Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dead Lady Bugs

I've been living with lady bugs for a couple of weeks now. One day they just showed up. Inside the house and out. Mating. Dying. Lying around, some flapping their wings, trying to right themselves. I rescue as many as I can. But most don't make it. It's just too dry in here.

I sweep them in to the dustpan and release them off the deck. Some fly. Some don't.

Occasionally I hear a crunch as I'm walking about. Or take off my fuzzy footies and find one on the bottom and shudder.

Bugsy totally ignores the darned things.

My cousin, Kek, says I have a house full of good luck. What I really have is a house full of dead and dying bugs. Trying to hibernate. And they bite.

But lady bugs biting is another story. For another day.
Ladybug Garden








"Toy Story 3"
Is in the DVD,
Queued and ready to go.

Happy Fall.
Happy November.
Happy NaNoWriMo.

To all my friends writing your little bums off:
Don't forget to take time to live.
To laugh. To cry. To hug your child.
To dance, to sing, to give.



Whatever happened to Leo Sayer, anyway? And ha ha, now you've got him stuck in your head, too.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

To MY Boys of Summer

To borrow a famous line from John Fogerty, "Put me in coach. I'm ready to play."

Finally! But like I said. "I'm Back."
And I'm ready to play, blog, write. Even work. Yeeehaaaa!

But now back to baseball:

Yes, I'm a Rebel. And, yes, I'm a Braves fan. I mean, I am an Atlanta girl and I grew up with Ted Turner. 24/7.

But HEY! What up with getting whupped by San Francisco, boys? Fer cryin out loud!

For the record? I still love ya man.

In spite of being a Rebel, I've got lots of Yankee blood in my veins. My grandfather's nickname was Yank and my dad was little Yank. Then my mama was a Yankee, too.

So, it's no wonder that I loves me some Yankee baseball. Those dudes are always smokin'. Till they got smoked by some Texas sluggers.

Us Rebels know about smokin'. You know, Boston butts and all. No not Sox butts. Pig butts.

Slow smoke one of those little pig puppies and you've got yourself the best pulled pork fixin's in the world. Just don't mess it up with that sweet sweet sauce. Use something spicy vinegary with just a little sweet to tone it down.

Mmmm. Now that's some good World Series eatin'.

Go get 'em, Rebels. Umm Rangers. Show my Californians how we slug 'em in Texas.

This is dedicated to all my friends, family and followers, baseball fans or no. The video is a classic, set to one of my favorite baseball songs, "Centerfield" by John Fogerty. Turn it up. :D



Time to go smoke a butt, That Rebel, Olivia

P.S. If you weren't grinning or in tears or both after watching this video, you MUST watch it agin. Just sayin'. And turn it UP!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Red Letter Day

I’m up early.

Bugsy started talking, as usual, around 7 a.m. He wakes with the day, then naps between my knees until first light. He knows I'll let him out now. Any earlier would mean the basement.

As I lay in half-slumber, the wind gusted rain against my screen and its song stirred an ancient longing.

I love storms.

Instead of going back to bed, I opened the slider Bugsy-wide and we both stuck our noses in the hole. Lightning flashed, with an answering shudder from thunder.

The wind splashed water in my face as Bugsy slipped out. Then he lickity split about-faced and slipped back in. Puss isn't crazy about storms since getting caught up in one.

"Uh-oh," I thought. "Betty."

She wasn’t tucked in to her hidey hole. I had left her last night in the lonely driveway, now the rains lashed at her aged ragtop.

Her silent plea pierced the morning fog, “Bring me in. Give me shelter.”

I bundled up and wiped the sleep from my eyes. And prayed that the old girl would start. But she was happy to see me and fired right up. I could swear she purred, “thank you,” as I left her safe and dry.

Now I sit and let the symphony of the rain bathe my soul.

Oh that this light would linger, to envelope my world in its softness. Bugsy braves the storm and runs out, leaving my side.

I am surrounded by fall color, each leaf a wet jewel shimmering light.

Thunder crashes and Bugs darts back in. He makes for under the chair but leaps instead on to the ottoman at my feet.

Swiping his back a few times with pink tongue, he settles Buddha style, ears splitting the difference between door and window.

Gardenia fills the air, courtesy of a candle from Gold Rush Days. The patter outside grows stronger.




A writing day.

A day full of portent and wonder.

A day full of water, living and alive with splashes of autumn color.

I told cousin Kek the new storyline yesterday, as we swayed back and forth on the swing on Grandmother's (and now her) porch. It seemed fitting. At first I stumbled, but then as I warmed up, out it tumbled.

She loved it. And promptly said, "I bet you sell a million copies and become rich and famous. When you do, I'll be your assistant."

Then we both giggled with delight.

It is heady stuff sharing my stories. I hadn't before, preferring to save them for the keyboard. Until now. First a trusted writer friend, and now my blood.

Guess what. The tale is growing and expanding. It's gaining a life of its own. It belongs to William, a main character, and his heirs. It belongs to the world they give their life to.

Do you know what I mean? Does this happen to you?

I am blessed. And oh so grateful. I love this story. I love this time of year. I love how the rain intensifies the brilliance of ambers and yellows and golds and reds that are still liberally laced with green.

These are my colors. My palate. That of the hunter moon.

The rain falls harder, resounding in the trees. I am humbled.

And. I am back.

Thank you, angels, for sticking around while I was off in the wild gray yonder. Thank you for listening and for all of your thoughts and your love.

And thank you for holding a piece of my story in your heart.

It is a banner day.

A red letter day.

A very good day for writing.

~That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I See Things

I See Signs




















Survivors
 .





Where Red Maples Got Their Name (Acer Rubrum)

I See Skies Tickled Pink Over Corn









And a Home Abandoned, Yet Waiting

I See God's Glory

In Color in the Curves

And Waiting at Home















I See the Magnificence of Fall in Georgia
BTW, if anyone would like to borrow and use my photographs, please feel free to do so. I ask only that you give me credit as the photographer/author and link back to this post and my blog.

Happy Hallows!

~That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Congratulations to Alex J. Cavanaugh whose sci-fi novel, CassaStar, was released on Tuesday!!

CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh
Science fiction/adventure/space opera
ISBN 9780981621067 Dancing Lemur Press LLC


To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…


Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.


Much to Byron’s chagrin, the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.


As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Click on over for links to read the reviews and interviews with Alex and for information on where to get your very own copy.

Rebel yell and a big YEEEEHAAAA!

Way to go Alex! I'll be ordering my copy come payday!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real

Blues and a poem for a lazy Sunday.



B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray's brother, Jimmie Vaughan.

Excerpt from "Finding Your Way Home, A Soul Survival Kit" by Melody Beattie:

"Fear comes seemingly from out of the blue and disrupts the whole of your life. You can't think, can't feel, can't find the next step, and can't connect with your soul and heart. It disrupts the flow, gets in the way, makes you feel crazy and disconnected from yourself, from God, and from the world around you. Answers seem just out of reach. They all feel wrong anyway, because all you can feel is your fear."

************************************************

Stand Tall

I wrestle a beast I cannot see,
A monster, fierce and bold.
She destroys and devours,
Devastates.

Stop. Stand still. Turn.
Face the madness in her eyes.
Don't look away,
Stare her down.
Stand tall.

She is smoke and mirrors,
Nothing more.
Look close, push back
Watch her fall.

The smoke clears,
The mirror implodes.
Shards shatter and fly.
Tuck. Duck. Survive.
Stand tall.

~Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's All Right

Hello Angels. Just checking in to let you know that:

a) I'm all right;

b) I've been in a semi-coma-ic state for the last couple of weeks; and

c) I've missed you something fierce.

Here's a little fall color for you, straight from the North Georgia mountains. Yes, it's a little early, not quite peak. But beautiful, nonetheless.

Remember the Traveling Wilburys? Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne, Jim Keltner? Here they are performing "The End of the Line" on an old steam engine as it rolls along.

The embedding has been disabled on youtube so you'll have to click the link to watch and listen. And, yes, there is a teeniny commercial at the beginning. But, if you've never seen this video, and I hadn't, you're in for a real treat. I got goosebumps halfway in. Pay attention. You'll see why.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwqhdRs4jyA

Love y'all. And thanks for checking in on me.

That Rebel, Olivia

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Near Naked Halloween Costumes. For Men.

Okay. This is a classic example of why I don't set up future posts. I see articles that make me snicker or take notice and save them to write about them later. I then determine whether or not the material is appropriate to post. Then I always, always include a commentary to explain, warn, or soften the blow if it's edgy. Or dicey.

This time I goofed. SORRY! Of course the title probably gave it away.

Now that it has aired, sans explanation, I'll put it back out there.

I ran across this Creative Loafing article about a month ago and it gave me quite the chuckle. I saved it to a post closer to Halloween, then forgot about it. But. I haven't been on blogger a lot lately (do you miss me?). I failed to notice I had a time bomb ticking on my blog.

Sorry guys. I would've warned you. Though I guess the title was warning enough.

For those of you who looked at the pictures and didn't read the article: shame on you. The dude's funny (Shawn Alff). Funnier, even, than the pictures.

In case you're worried, all the private parts are covered. But barely. And you might get a chuckle at the wacky outfits and the wackier men who actually went out on the town in them. One can only hope they had a change of clothes close by.

The point of the story, however, has to do with last year's furor over young girls and women wearing sexy/near naked costumes at Halloween. This dude posits that since women have claimed that day to let it all hang out, maybe men should too.

Some will think this tasteless. You're probably right. But what the hay. I thought it was funny. Happy Birthday, to my buddy Roland. Click on over to his blog and wish him well.

Now, to it. Here is the article published in Creative Loafing last year.

Happy Fall!

http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2009/10/27/bare-minimum-halloween-costumes-for-ballsy-men-pics-nsfw/

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Passing It On

The following is from one of those email letters that we periodically receive. Most of them don't get forwarded. Lord knows I rarely do. But this one touched me. So. Instead of forwarding it to the people I love, I'm sending it to you as a blog post.

The author is unknown. But whoever you are, if you're out there, your poem is beautiful. And so true.

Here goes:


To realize
The value of a sister/brother
Ask someone
Who doesn't have one.


To realize
The value of ten years:
Ask a newly
Divorced couple.


To realize
The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.


To realize
The value of one year:
Ask a student who
Has failed a final exam.


To realize
The value of nine months:
Ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.


To realize
The value of one month:
Ask a mother
Who has given birth to a premature baby..



To realize
The value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize
The value of one minute:
Ask a person
Who has missed the train, bus or plane.


To realize
The value of one-second:
Ask a person
Who has survived an accident.

Time waits for no one.
Treasure every moment you have.
You will treasure it even more when
You can share it with someone special.

To realize the value of a friend or family member:
LOSE ONE.


The origin of this letter is unknown,
But it brings good luck to everyone who passes it on.


Remember....


Hold on tight to the ones you love!

This one's for Jules and The Words Crafter:

Monday, October 4, 2010

To My Bobby McGee

[First, let's get 'business' out of the way. If you're clicking over from Patti's How Much Did I Write? Blogfest, here's a quick report: I clocked a couple thousand words and maybe three hours' time on my wip. But I spent the entire week and weekend doing invaluable research, so I consider myself and my week a success.] Now. For 'Bobby':

Today fall surpassed spring as my favorite season of the year.

North Georgia is touched. Its flowing green sentinels line a landscape licked red and yellow. Dogwood, first to bloom in the spring is also first to blush. Lemon poplars mirror fields of butterscotch goldenrod. Sweet gums leak liquid amber.


Applesauce clouds scud across the cornflower blue horizon. I snap pictures while I drive, hoping to capture my little brother's eyes. If you knew Jon, you know this color. I call it Jon's-eye blue.

Flags billow above browning fields and willows dance and sway. The north wind whips the leaves ashiver. Creation waves.

A cycle is complete. After 35 years, I'm home.

Last night, seeing thirtysomething of my high school classmates, I breathed a sigh of relief. Every one of them, half my graduating class, looked exactly the same. Class of '75, you guys look mah-velous!

We danced. We talked. We hugged. We laughed. We cried. And we danced some more.

Nothing had changed. Yet everything has.

We're older, wiser, kinder. Less quick to judge and faster to accept our differences.

When dancing, the songs seem infinitely longer.

I'd be lying by omission if I didn't tell you that it was the most fun I've had in years. And while I was busy having fun? A wound that I wasn't aware of having began to heal.

For traveling the farthest, I won a prize. I chose Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits CD. Then we bid adieu with a promise to meet again.

It took ten months to reach this crossroad. This fall.

As I headed toward home, Janis belted the blues. She immortalized the lyrics of Bobby McGee, written by Kris Kristofferson. Some say they were written about her.

In college I wrote a landmark essay (for me). The topic? Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. Until today I could only guess the true meaning of these words, this song. At the tender age of nineteen, I had no clue.

Today, with the windows down and Janis's voice ringing in my ears, I got it. Today, I understood.

Calvin*, this song is for you.



*Calvin B. Streets is a master bluesman: writer, composer, lyricist, performer, producer, guitar string virtuoso.

To hear snippets and download tunes from Calvin's CD "He Ain't Done With Me Yet" click here. To see and hear Calvin performing "She's My Baby", an original off his upcoming CD "Ragalicious", click here.

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