Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Got Got Got No Time

That about sums it up for me. No time for my blog. No time to read yours. And, alas, no time to even write this week.

Tomorrow, a holiday, is more of the same. No time left for you, my dear manuscript. But soon, real soon.

Why? Because I'm working three day jobs, darn it! Yes, they're all part time, but still. Plus, there's this little matter of sleep. I must have eight hours or I'm a walking zombie and no fun to be around, even for myself.

Hmm, Tuesday is the day. I commit to carving out at least four uninterrupted hours to write. That should net me at least 1000 words, maybe more. I finished Part I last Sunday. And have the beginning of Part II in mind. Now to just sit down and flesh it out, let it unfold.

To my blogger buddies, I see your titles and blurbs fly by on my dashboard, and, oh how I want to read your posts. One day, one day soon, I know I'll be able to sit and catch up. But in the meantime, I have something to look forward to.

Till next time...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cave Crickets, Bugs and The Census

The other night, I woke to the sound of Bugsy eating something on the floor beside the bed. Like most cats, he has no couth about eating; he smacks, chomps and eats with his mouth open and is just as noisy when he laps water. So his food and water are in the kitchen.

Curious, I turned on the overhead light and found him eating a cave cricket. Ugh. Half of it was gone and he seemed to be struggling with the obscenely long legs still attached to the other half. For those of you who have never encountered a cave cricket, hope that you don't. They typically live in caves (hence the name) or other dark places. Like basements. These are not the common, cute little field crickets that chirp and bring to mind Jiminy Cricket. No, these ugly critters belong to a different family altogether. My last run-in with a cave cricket was during my growing up years, in our basement in Villa Rica. It is one of the few insects that truly makes me shudder.

I'd forgotten how many bugs live in Georgia. And how prolific they are, especially during the rainy season. When I lived in Southern California, people used to ask me if I liked the fact that it was relatively bugless. Having discovered those little blackflies that hang out around water (which is just about everywhere in SoCal), and having been bitten like the dickens on numerous occasions, garnering welps big enough to make me call poison control, I'd look at them cross-eyed and say, "Bugless? You've GOT to be kidding." And if you need to deal with pesky flies, check out the Tips Bulletin's natural fly remedies.

HAHA! Joke's on me. How could I possibly have forgotten about the cornucopia of bugs that live, thrive and bedevil those of us living on the East Coast? Specifically, in my case, North Georgia.

We have these huge, black carpenter ants that run around like crazies, doing something or another on the deck. They seem to be particularly adept at finding their way in to the house. And scorpions, yikes. Another loathsome insect that sends chills up my spine. One had the audacity to run across my bedroom floor the other night when I was sitting right there. I smacked it with my notebook and stomped it with glee. Out of my house, sucka! A couple of days ago, I encountered another one on the wall by the washing machine. So I smashed it. With a flip flop.
Darn basement. It's bringing all kinds of unsavory creatures in to my house.

Yesterday morning, whilst sitting for meditation minding my own business, I got buzzed by a mosquito doing a fly by. It was probably part of the advance guard of the droves that are sure to visit this year. There are plenty more bugs, like the fruit flies, but I'll leave those for a later story.

Back to the illustrious cave cricket. I'm working late hours with the census this week. Supposedly, it's easiest to catch people at home in the evenings. Assuming they have the common courtesy to answer their door. Most don't. (I hope you're not one of them.)

Two nights ago, I rolled in at 9:00 p.m. Bugsy didn't greet me, as he usually does. I found him in his hidey-hole in the closet, loved him up, then let him sleep while I watched the season finale of Brothers & Sisters. Later on, when he didn't come to bed, I dragged him out. He acted droopy and kept licking his lips and swallowing.

Yesterday, it was worse. He was gagging and wretching. He barfs up grass and stuff all the time, so I wasn't terribly concerned. But this was different. So I googled. He wasn't exhibiting the signs and symptoms of distemper or any other scary cat illness. It didn't seem to be a hairball attack. His appetite and thirst were intact. He went outside and chased birds and squirrels, so no lethargy. He didn't seem to have a fever. The only symptom was the gagging every time he ate or drank. So I decided to watch and wait.

In the afternoon, I talked to a patient who runs a kennel and has worked with vets and kennels most of her life. She told me how to determine if he'd been bitten by one of those danged old bugs. Or a spider. Negatory. She confirmed my wait and watch,

Then I told her about his late night cave cricket snack. Aha! That was it. Apparently, they have pincers on those scary legs. She figures he upchucked one and it stuck in his throat. And assured me it would dissolve. So I'm waiting and watching. And feeling empathy for my little kitty. At least I know it's not serious and that he'll live.

I, on the other hand, may not. This census stuff is killing me. In a figurative way, of course. I am NOT having loads of fun. And I'm getting tired of being yelled at by people just for doing my job.

People, please. If a census worker calls you, be nice. Answer their questions. They, too, are just doing their job. If they knock on your door, please answer. Ignoring them is costing you, and the rest of us, taxpayer dollars. When you ignore them they have to call and/or come back. And they're getting paid. Time and mileage. If you're in the boonies, like most of my addresses, you're costing us even more.

This is my message to this morning's screamer.
You don't have the decency to answer my knocks, or my calls, or to pick up the phone and call me back. Yet you scream at me on the phone, like a big, fat baby, when I call you for the fifth or six time. I've made six or seven times trips to your house in the middle of the woods, got out of bed early in the morning and had to stay out late in the evening trying to find you at home. PUHLEASE! Get a clue! Look in the mirror and yell at the person who is REALLY being offensive.
There. I've said it. Now I'm done. Do your duty and answer. It's much less painless for all concerned. There are people, like me, coming behind the enumerators. It's called Quality Control. Be courteous. Be nice. Joke with them. Lighten up. 'Cause the fact is, I'll be back. I might even have a cave cricket in my pocket.

To my screamer, I pray that you be blessed this rainy season.

Pictures from top to bottom: cave cricket; carpenter ant; brown scorpion; blood-sucking mosquito; Bugsy with last season's strawberries on his face (ain't he a crack-up!)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Flirt Fest Blogfest, I Had To!

The gals over at Critique This WIP are hosting a Flirt Fest Blogfest today. I had decided not to participate in another blogfest until I get this manuscript rolling forward again, but here I am, unable to resist. After all, it's a Flirt Fest!!!

Make sure and click over to Critique This and read all the other entries in the Flirt Fest, there are some truly amazing writers over there.

I'm posting another scene from my current WIP (work in progress for my non-writer readers). In this one our main character, Sammy, just stepped off a plane and is feeling particularly vulnerable.

Fighting the tears that threatened again, Sammy shook them off and threw a brilliant smile at the man who had just deplaned. Tall and lanky with broad shoulders, dark hair and flashing eyes, he was just what her bruised ego needed. He looked crisp and fresh in black-on-black Armani, in spite of the five-hour flight across the country.

“Cherie,” he grinned, “you here for long?”

“Don’t know,” she replied, tossing silken hair from a pixie face that held sad, green eyes.

Lanky waited a beat for Sammy to fall in beside him. She had a designer bag over one shoulder and towed a laptop and carry-on behind her.

“May I?” He asked, reaching for the carry-on.

“I’ve got it, thanks,” she flashed another of those almost-famous smiles. “You changing planes? Coming home?”

The report of her stiletto heels rang through the concourse, blending with the symphony of Hartsfield. One PA announced an arriving Delta flight, another, a last boarding call.

Lanky paced her, smitten. She knew that look.

“I’m just passing through. My next flight’s out of Concourse B. And you?” he asked.

“Oh, just visiting,” Sammy shrugged and stepped on to the escalator descending to the tram.

“Can I buy you a drink?” he asked, close behind. “I have a couple of hours to kill before my next flight.”

Sammy hesitated. What was another hour or two? She could use the diversion. When she’d called Daddy after landing, he’d said Mama was sleeping.

“No, handsome, I’d better not,” she concluded. “I have to grab a rental car and head north. Don’t want to get in too late.”

“Mon Cherie, are you sure?” he implored. “It’s early. One hour. No more.”

Laughing, Sammy waggled her head and gave him a little pout. “No, Handsome. I’m sorry.”

The tram pulled up and after everyone had gotten off, Lanky extended his arm for her to board. Sammy stepped in, chose a center pole and wrapped her arms and leg around it. The dark man took another and watched her with jet-black eyes, a speculative smile on his lips.

He was certainly a sight to behold. Too bad she didn’t have time to play. But still, she was tempted.

The tram announcement interrupted her thoughts. "The next station is concourse B. The color-coded maps and signs in the vehicle match the station colors. Please move to the center of the vehicle and away from the doors. Please hold on. This vehicle is now leaving the station."

When Lanky edged over to share her pole, Sammy unwrapped enough to give him a handhold.

“One little kiss, Cherie?” he leaned in and whispered.

“Non,” Sammy giggled. Then sighed. Oh, it felt good to be pursued. Even if only for a while.

“The train is approaching Concourse B. Please hang on.”

“Just one?” his breath tickled her ear.

“Non, s'il vous plait, non. Stop teasing.”

“Ah, mademoiselle, my heart breaks.”

“We have now arrived at Concourse B. The doors are opening. Please exit the tram.”

“Your stop, handsome,” Sammy said. “Have a great flight. And thanks for the offer.”

Lanky chuckled, leaned closer and planted a warm kiss on her lips, his eyes never leaving hers. Then moving away, he stepped to the door and stood, watching her.

“Au revior, mon amour,” he laughed, stepping off the tram, and waved as he turned to go.

“Bye,” Sammy waved, green eyes sad again, watching him though the closing doors.

“Bye,” she whispered.
A big thanks to Merissa, Julie, Margaret and Courtney, the aspiring romance authors who fuel Critique This, for hosting this blogfest. Don't forget to click over to read the other entries to their Flirt Fest Blogfest.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tickle Me Elmo

A year or two ago, I gave a bag of goodies to a teenager, someone I love dearly. If I remember correctly, it was a gift for her birthday, full of little things I had collected. None of the things cost more than a few dollars, but each of them was special in some way. Several months later, I was in her bedroom and, lo and behold, that gift bag was there in a corner, on the floor, the items I'd lovingly picked out still in the bag. I was hurt. Offended. Even outraged.

How could she think so little of my gift that she'd discarded it, untouched, on the floor and left it there for months? I wanted to pick it up and take it back. But, I couldn't. So I decided, after some agony, not to give her any more presents. To date, I haven't.

Fast forward to the present. Or more aptly, The Present. I am in an ongoing process of doing stepwork or, Selfwork. Right now, I'm looking at my resentments and the associated, underlying fears. Part of that is to look at my own behavior: where am I doing the same acts and actions that I'm resenting in others?

A dear friend, Karen Mead, of The Peaceful Journey, commented on my last blog post, What You See Is Not Always What You Get, and in answering her I got a big AHA. Here's the exchange, which can be found in the comments section of that post:
Karen said...
Darlin - you Rock! What a great post. Aren't surprises the best???

Olivia Herrell said...
Karen, great to have you here and thanks!! Surprises are, especially when I take the time to open them up and find the gift inside rather than just shaking the box and commenting on the pretty (or ugly) wrap job!
The Aha was, OMG, I'm guilty of not opening my own presents. Yes, I open the ones that people give me. But I'm not opening the big ones, the presents from the Universe, from God! WOW!

Case in point, my new front yard. Just before we moved in, the owner cleared all the pine trees, leaving us the space and sunlight for a small garden. That's my present, because I wanted one badly. Yet, there it sits, full of stumps and roots and rocks, because I haven't 'opened the gift'. I've oohed and ahhed and shaken my present, but I haven't even unwrapped it, much less taken it out to play. I love to dig in the dirt, to pour my sweat and labor in to it. I love to buy the plants and shake them gently out of their containers and place them in the soil I've prepared, then tend them with love and joy till they mature. What am I waiting for??

It's like getting a Tickle Me Elmo and leaving it in the wrapper. I don't get to experience the wonder of Elmo. I can't play with him. I can't enjoy his lovable, bright red face, nor squeeze him and listen to him giggle. He can't give me the joy he's meant to bring because he's still stuck inside that box.

But, even worse, the giver (God/The Universe) of my unopened Elmo Present will be hurt and offended and figure I didn't want it. If I am too busy or have too much disdain to enjoy The Present, if I don't even have the presence of mind to unwrap it, I most likely won't get anything else. Or I'll be given more things/events/people/stuff to disdain. And who wants that??

Are you fully enjoying your Present? Or are you, like me, shaking the box it came in, exclaiming over the packaging, then shoving it aside and opening your arms for the next gift, More, More, More?

Monday, May 10, 2010

What You See is Not Always What You Get

When I closed my eyes a year ago and imagined what my life would be like today, it wasn't this.

In May of '09, That Rebel was just a glitter in my eye and an itch I'd yet to scratch. I'd had a blog a few years before, but after Mama died in 2006, it petered out. So did my motivation to continue shopping publishers for the children's book I had written. Oh, and let's not forget the income stream that turned in to a trickle that same year.

What I saw in my imagination, was me in Southern California doing what I was already doing. Or me in a little beach town somewhere in the U.S. I would escape and find work in a coffee shop or, better yet, a book store that served brewed tea and lattes, a place where the locals met to dish. I had a wild fantasy of running away from my practice and financial obligations. I'd make enough money to cover room and board, and have a beater car with no payments. My life would be simple and free from stress and the enormous responsibility of being a doctor.

My dream did not include the North Georgia mountains, nor building another practice. I was writing, but the what was a mystery. It didn't feel like another children's book, though I had a whole series of Frank and Ernies plotted out. There was love, but certainly not love lost.

Today I started a three day training class to be an enumerator for the 2010 Census. Not just an enumerator. An enumerator reinterviewer. We'll be contacting one out of ten households to confirm the authenticity of the data that was garnered on the first pass. Sounds exciting, huh? Probably not. But I get paid. Having had my own business for the last twelve years, it feels good to know I'll get a weekly paycheck for a couple of months, plus 50 cents a mile. Out here in the boonies that can rack up. The work will be done on the phone and in the field in the same small town as my practice. Meeting all those folks should be good for business, right? But, when I closed my eyes a year ago, I certainly didn't see me doing this.

I believe, along with the great teachers and religions,  that I create what I see and what I believe. It's dangerous to dwell in misery, because crap begets crap. Conversely, awesomeness begets awesomeness. I can look at my life on the surface today and recite all the reasons why what I saw is NOT what I got.

But is that true? Of course not. I dreamed of escaping and I did. I dreamed of being out from under that financial burden, and the T. Rex is down to a smaller Linheraptor. I saw myself in a beach town. While the closest beach is a few hours away, I did land in a mountain resort town. I got the paid-for beater car, ragtop and all. I am NOT building a full-time practice, just a small town, part-time one.

And I'm writing. That Rebel is my sounding board; it's where I rant, whine and philosophize and hone my writerly skills. It's the watering hole where I come to drink and my soul gets its fill. That Rebel was the springboard for my current work in progress; a southern fiction that was born right here; on these back roads in the foothills of the Appalachians.

I left the womb of Southern California and all my worldly stuff. I stepped out, in to the void. I crashed. Hard. Then I thrashed around for a while. But in the middle of all that thrashing, I found something else. I found you guys. I found my writing. And I found myself.

What I see IS what I get. Just not necessarily in the exact form that I imagine. What is your dream? Are you living it? Or are you missing the miracle by dwelling in the negative, like I was for so long?

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bad Girl Blogfest

Once again, I've agonized about turning another piece of my baby loose for public inspection. This time, the venue is the Bad Girl Blogfest hosted by Andrew Rosenberg over at The WriteRunner. I have decided what the hay. This excerpt is taken from a women's fiction novel I'm currently working on. Mine seems tame after reading some of the other submissions, but, good, bad or indifferent, here she is.
It was dark when she reached Manuel’s, a juke joint blues club in Santa Monica. There were other places J.C. might go, but Manuel’s was a pretty safe bet. J.C. was a regular on stage and he liked the adulation the crowd there showered on him. Especially the skanks. He never could get over his liking for strange.

It was her misfortune that Sammy couldn’t get over her liking for J.C. Maybe this time would be the charm.

The studly valet opened her door and almost dripped drool before wrenching his eyes from her decollete.

“Evening, Ms. Starr. I’ll take care of her for you.”

“Thanks, Beau, is J.C. inside?”

“Umm, not sure,” the valet lied.

Squaring her shoulders, ready for a fight, Sammy flounced in to the bar, high-beams flashing. He was there, at a table, drinking with his musician buddies.

Ignoring him, she detoured to the bar and ordered her usual, a Budweiser.

“Cuervo shooter?” Brandy, the bartender, asked, raising her eyebrows toward the table of men in the corner. Sammy hesitated for a fraction of a second. She didn’t want to get snockered tonight, and tequila tended to do that to her.

“Ohh. Why not.” She needed liquid courage. After all, she wasn’t exactly Laura Croft. Though, she did have her moments. She hoped tonight would be one of them.

Downing the shot and sucking on the sliver of lime, Sammy shuddered. Then she turned the frosted mug up and gulped half of its contents. And belched.

“So ladylike,” Brandy giggled.

At that, Sammy wrinkled her nose and chugged the rest. Slamming the mug on the bar beside her purse, she winked at Brandy and stalked over to J.C.’s table.

“Hello, boys, J.C.” Fists planted on come-hither hips, Sammy pinned J.C. with her eyes. “Got a minute? We have some unfinished business.”

Not intimidated, J.C. shrugged.

“No, I think we pretty much finished. Me and you? We are through.”

“We’re not through till I say so,” Sammy hissed. “Get up asshole and fight.”

J.C. chuckled. The rest of the table was silent. They’d all seen Sammy in action and weren’t about to get in the middle. One had even been the recipient of a well-placed jab in the not too far distant past. They were all staying out of it.

“Get up from this table, now!”

“Or what, princess?” J.C. scowled. Looking at the other guys, he snickered. “Did you know that Sammy was once Chicken Queen of the South?”

“That does it!” Quick as lightning, Sammy reached under the table and flipped it. Drinks flew and the musicians scattered. All but J.C., who was drenched and mad as a banty rooster.

“You cunt!” he growled, wiping the front of his shirt, murder in his eyes.

“That’s more like it, punk,” Sammy purred. Taking advantage of his rage, Sammy struck, stamping a stilettoed heel in to his sneakered instep.

J.C. roared. Grabbing her by the pony tail, he yanked her around so they were nose-to-nose. He wanted to deck her, but he couldn’t. He knew he'd had it coming.

“It’s over bitch,” he ground out through clinched teeth. “Over. Done. Fini. No more. Why can't you get that through your head?” Shoving her away to keep from hurting her, he turned to right the table and gain his composure.

Sammy was on him like a banshee on crack. She locked her legs around his, toppling them over on the sticky, liquor-drenched floor. A glass exploded as they landed, with Sammy on top, peppering J.C. with her deadly jabs.

“Stop it, Sammy. Stop!” He commanded. “Stop. It. Now.” Wrapping his arms around her, J.C. pinned her flailing arms to her side. She was still on top of him, her body molded to his, that clingy top molded to hers. God, she was sexy and she still turned him on, even when she was hopped up crazy.

“Why, why, why?” Sammy wailed against his chest, the anger oozing out of her as she sobbed.

J.C. wanted to stay mad at her. It would make everything so much easier. But he couldn’t. His guilt and her tears undid him. And he knew the make-up sex would be worth it.

“Come on princess, let’s go home. We’ve given these boys enough of a show for one night.”

Ashamed, and somewhat mollified, Sammy complied. After all, her intent was to get him home again. And on that, she had won.
Yeehaaa! Olivia Herrell

Should I, Shouldn't I?

Omigod. Dare I??

Dare I enter another snippet from my manuscript to the upcoming Bad Girl Blogfest hosted by Andrew Rosenberg?

Bad Girl Blogfest

I'm pondering it. I just might. I just might do it. I am leaning in that direction.

Go check it out. And enter a scene of your own. Or read some of the great ones already submitted!

Whaddya think? Should I? Olivia Herrell

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

51 Followers...But Who's Counting?

On May 1st, thanks to Lilah Pierce's Last Line Blogfest, my follower count clicked over to 50, then advanced to 51 on the 3rd or 4th. I am totally thrilled and delighted. And must subject you to my rebel yell.


And, because I'm a country girl at heart, and in some circles that qualifies me as a Redneck Woman, I'll add a hearty HELL YEAH! for Grethen Wilson.

Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my Last Line submission, and to those who are now following my blog. I'm pretty sure I made it to all of your blogs, but if I missed you, please let me know so that I can stop by. And, to Terresa at The Chocolate Chip Waffle, I wanted to get a poem in to your contest, but I just ran out of time. I have my eye on those purdy bows, though, so I will definitely keep said eye out for the next one.

Something noteworthy happened to me over the weekend. Putting that little snippet from my manuscript out there for all of you to read, and sharing the first 10 pages with Postman, a trusted friend, was ginormous. I didn't get my nose lopped off or my heart broken either time, and now there's a bonfire under my behind.

It's time for me to put up or shut up. I made the commitment to a few people back in January that when I reached 50 followers I would start shopping articles for publication. That was either my lazy way of procrastinating, or my self-care way of garnering enough confidence in my writing abilities to get the hutzpah to get out there and do it.

Whatever the case may be, it's time. And, oh yeah. I finally got the courage to make my main character suffer, and that was a long time coming.

Thanks, y'all!

That Rebel, Olivia Herrell

P.S. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Blackberry Winter

Why do blackberries get their very own, personalized winter in the South? Because by the time it arrives, we've had enough warm days or weeks to think that summer has arrived and we're all done with winter, and then BAM, 40something degree nights and days in the high 50's arrive. We put our sweaters back on and say things like, "'s cold!" And that phenomenon happens to coincide with the blackberries blooming.

I found this on Sherpa Guides, The Natural Georgia Series. It's referring to the terrestrial (land) ecosytems, I added the information in italics, and the bolding.
Recently disturbed areas (i.e. cleared of vegetation) start recovery with a grass stage first dominated by the pioneer species, crabgrass. This is a very short-lived stage of forest recovery or succession. We often see examples of this stage in cleared land that is abandoned and along roadsides where periodic mowing helps to maintain this stage. If left undisturbed, the grass stage progresses to the grass shrub stage dominated by blackberry (Rubus sp.) and broomsedge (Andropogon sp.).
This means that country roadsides are prime real estate for blackberry bushes. Here in Dawsonville and Dahlonega, they're everywhere. The first blooms showed up a week or so ago, and now they're in full, glorious bloom. They're everywhere I look and I can't help but smile. I daresay, come late summer, if I can beat the birds to 'em, I'll be out there, somewhere, picking blackberries.

Till next time,

......Olivia Herrell

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Last Line Blogfest

Thank you to Lilah Pierce for hosting the Last Line Blogfest!

To my nonblogging readers, I'll put up a regular blog post on Monday, May 3rd. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this tiny sneak peak in to my upcoming bestselling novel!

To my fellow bloggers and Blogfest participants, welcome and have fun. I'm looking forward to reading your last lines and to your comments/critiques of mine. Thanks!

This last line entry is an excerpt from my current work in progress, a chick lit novel. Call me paranoid or superstitious, or just downright silly, but I am not yet ready to give away the story line or the title. Now that that's out of the way, here are the last two paragraphs of the first chapter:

Sammy wiggled her pink-tipped toes in the grass before slipping tiny feet in to the leather thongs she’d tossed down. Letting herself out the back gate, she marched to the front door, seething.

Damn. It was locked. She’d suspected as much. Maneuvering around the needle-sharp agave, Sammy reached for the fake rock where an extra key was hidden. Even J.C. didn’t know about this one. It wasn’t the first time he’d locked her out. But she bet it would be the last.

Love y'all! Rebel
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