Saturday, July 31, 2010

Milestones Blogfest/The End of Seeking

Thank you to Donna Hole for hosting today's Milestone Blogfest! I can't seem to finish the post I've been working on for days (yes, angels, I'm stuck again) so I am reposting an article from September of last year. While it isn't current (as in of today) it was a huge turning point in my life, the milestone that gave me permission to be where I am today: living a simple life and writing.

I call this milestone The End of Seeking Aka The Light at the End of the Tunnel. Read on. And when you're done, click on over to Donna's for the links to read the rest of the entries. I'll be doing the same thing.

What milestones brought you to this moment, this place, this time?

A woman met a man she didn't want to meet.
She liked him. She saw in him a burning light.
From deep within a feeling unbidden
overwhelmed the woman. The feeling
frightened her. How could this be from the
sight of the light in the man she didn't want
to meet? The woman sat still. A memory of a
far off place came to her and remembering
the beauty, the awe and the wonder, her fear
left. The man talked on, unaware. His flame
burned bright in the night. - Olivia Herrell


This is from my personal library, and was penned painstakingly one February, years ago. I was early in recovery in AA, stinging from a long weekend in Hilton Head with my wonderful, but alcoholic mother, who'd spent the entire weekend whining about anything and everything in general, but mostly about me in particular.

There was a man in my life, just then, who was a member of Al-Anon, the sister organization to AA. Though I was sober in AA, I had no defense against my mother's drinking, nor against her tongue when she was drinking.

That man introduced me to Al-Anon, where my recovery continued and grew.

It's been almost 19 years since I started down this long road of recovery.

Over that time I have peeled away one layer at a time, doing personal inventories, making amends, clearing up wreckage, learning to say no. Then learning to say yes. I've spent countless hours in AA meetings, Al-Anon, group therapy, individual therapy, motivational seminars, ashrams, self-help books, meditation, walks in nature, journalling, writing, thinking, feeling, being, sleeping, reading, dreaming, cell, one breath, one heart beat at a time.

I've had good teachers. The best. And, I'm a good student.

But there was always another.

And another.

Today, that came to a rather abrupt halt.

I even heard the "eeerrrrrkkkkkkkk!"

It was a peculiar sensation. Rather like being slammed against a concrete wall. The wall at the end.

Now, for all my fellow seekers out there: Have you ever wondered how you'd know when you reached the end of your long search? I don't think I'd ever even pondered the question! Yet, now, here I am, at the end. And knowing it.

"What's at the end?" you ask?

The light.

The light that burns bright in the night.

The big surprise? There's really no surprise, at all.

It's what every weary seeker must find.

I don't feel cheated. Not at all.

I do feel deep gratitude. And relief. And not just a little silly.

I bow to my divine, to that burning light within me.

Baba Muktananda advised, "Honor your Self, Worship your Self, Meditate upon your Self. God dwells within you as you."

Tonight, I know, more than ever before, what he meant.

Thank you, to all my teachers. I love and respect and appreciate you, more than you may ever know.

And, thank you to Karen Anderson, Angelic Intuitive, whose loving Spirit helped me to recognize the end.

I will close with this. We all know this story. But...guess what! I found the teacup! :D

Taken from an NPR script:
A seeker has heard the wisest guru in all of India lives atop India's highest mountain, so the seeker tracks over a hill in Delhi until he reaches the fabled mountain. It's incredibly steep, and more than once, he slips and falls. By the time he reaches the top, he's full of cuts and bruises. But there's the guru, sitting cross-legged in front of his cave.

Oh, wise guru, the seeker says, I have come to ask you what the secret of life is. Ah, yes, the secret of life, the guru says. The secret of life is a teacup. A teacup? I came all the way up here to find the meaning of life and you tell me it's a teacup? The guru shrugs, so maybe it isn't a teacup.
~Olivia J, Herrell, September 13, 2009

More than anything, I hope this post gives you permission to look around your own life. Eyeball that huge milestone. What was the turning point that got you here? To today. Are you happy with where you are? If not, what would you change?

I changed everything. I sold my worldly goods, left my practice, changed coasts, stepped off the hamster wheel. I will admit that the dismount was less than graceful. I'll even admit that I did a face plant. It took a while for me to regain my sanity and my bearings. But thank God. Because that is what shoved me in to your world. And birthed my novels. So this milestone? It's a big one.

What about yours?

~Olivia J. Herrell

Picture of that rebel (yeah, that would be me) in Oak Canyon Park across the street from my apartment in Oak Park, CA. Even better, my sister (Cheryl) took this picture only a few months before I wrote this particular post. Good memories. :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Alyson Noel Signs 7-Figure Deal For New Series

!Here's one for our vision boards!

According to the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy on July 26th, "Immortals author Alyson Noël Signs 7-Figure Deal For New Series". Yes, angels, you read that right. Seven figures. A MULTImillion dollar advance. Woohoo! Go Alyson, Go Alyson! The following paragraph is taken directly from the article by Gina Bernal and will link you over to it:
Alyson Noël, author of the internationally bestselling Immortals series, has signed a new four-book contract with St. Martin’s Griffin imprint, brokered by Bill Contardi of Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. A spokesperson for the author shared the details of the deal exclusively with Speakeasy, saying Noël will receive a “healthy seven-figures with additional performance bonuses that could double that.”

How about that! Click on over to read the whole article. Sounds like a great premise for the series, too.

Way to go, Alyson! We're happy-dancing for you!

This is a video of Barenaked Ladies performing "If I Had a Million Dollars". It was not the best vid of these zany dudes on, sound quality-wise, but LOOK! They're performing live at Chapters Bookstore in Langley, BC, with the Bestsellers marquis right behind them! Woohoo! What will YOU do when you get YOUR multimillion dollar advance?? I think I would pay for all my blogger friends to have a get-together somewhere. Oh. And buy me some love, lol! Hey, I know. We'll get BNL's to play for us! :D

Psssssst, There is a message for you at the end of the post, underneath the Million Dollar video. Check it out while you're listening. :D

OMG, I have to share! Would you go over and read my new profile information? You've heard me talk about my current wip, but here's the reveal for my second one! What do you think?? I really, really want to know. :D

~That Rebel, Olivia

Bugsy Made Me Do It

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." ~ George Bernard Shaw

I played last night. Bugsy made me do it.

About the same time, at o' dark thirty, Bugsy must come inside. This six year-old feline rules my heart. But I am Alpha kitty, so he minds.

Every night for the last few weeks, he trots in and snarfs his treats. (Yes, I do know that these are the real reason he minds.) Then flops down on the floor, next to the chair where I commune with my laptop, and cleans himself. He's OCD like that. Must lick something on his body at least a thousand times a day.

When he's done licking, he sits on his haunches and meows. Tiny little 'let me out' mews. I tell him no and keep clacking, ignoring him. The mews crowd together, almost rapid-fire, and become full-on meows. I look at him and shake my head and tell him firmly, with attitude, "No!"

"Yeah right," he yeowls, intent on manifesting an open door, not quite understanding why this works most of the time, then doesn't, others.

I call him over and he sidles up to my hand and pets it.

It was then that I heard him.

"Play with me." His eyes said it. His body said it. It's oozing out of him, loud and clear, "Stop pecking on that thing for five minutes and play with me."

So I did. We played 'slap the mouse around' first. Then 'bat the string'. For twenty minutes he was the center of my Universe. We played. I took off my writing cap and made my comrade, and me, happy.

The other day at the thrift store, I bought a clock. It doesn't work, but there is a speckled trout painted on the front and an inscription that says,"Time to go fishing." While I'm not an avid fisherwoman, I love to put a minnow or worm on a rod, cast it out into the lake, prop it in a holder, then sit back and watch the bobber.

I know what that feels like—that lazy, hazy, hang-out-with-nothing-better-to-do feeling. I bought this clock to remind me to play. For my sake and my muse's. Now my cat is getting in on the action.

Dear rebels, do you stop to play? Do you have that special someone to remind you? What does your playtime look like?

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." ~ Plato

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell, writing as  O.J. Barré

O.J. Barré is the author of the upcoming Awen series, a druid science fantasy set in 2042. Steeped in current, ancient, and future history twists, Book One, Awen Rising (set in Atlanta, Georgia) is scheduled to debut August 1, 2019, in both ebook and paperback format. Book Two, Awen Storm, is slated for 2020. Book Three, Awen Tide, arrives in 2021. And should there be a Book Four, expect to see it in 2022 or later as Awen Unleashed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My One True Calling

To my friend, Terry Stonecrop, the ingenius creator of Gardner West, Private Eye, and whose post today asked the question: Born To Write...Or To Be Wild? I think both. Wild AND a writer. But then maybe those are synonymous.

Blue Angels Air Show 7/24/10 by Stephen Lasley
Of the callings she listed, the two I never considered were bull fighter and hockey player. Which one was my favorite? Ooo, ooo, fighter pilot!!

In 1975, I had a pen in my hand poised over the dotted line. I was seventeen, a senior in high school and had just scored 98 percentile on the ASVAB. They wanted me. Badly. Here was my chance to be a pilot.

Like Terry, the 'Fighter' part of pilot eluded me.

I 'inherited' my daddy's love for airplanes. He worked for Lockheed, in Marietta, Georgia, at the main base...please click over to WhackaDoodle Dandy to read the rest.

Friday, July 23, 2010

No Means No

Finally. It's ready. My entry for the red dress club's Friday "pick a number" meme. My numbers were 8, 1, 7 and 4.* If you're interested, I'll explain what that means at the end of the story. Or, just click on over to the red dress club and read the full details. While you're there, follow the links and read the other entries.

This scene is a little different than I had intended. It may or may not be used in my manuscript. Please tell me if you think I am telling more than showing and, if so, does the story suffer because of that. Warning, as the title applies, a sensitive issue is presented below so please be forewarned.

Janice stumbled to the creek, desperate to get away. She could hear the party in the house and wished she had stayed. She would be shy and uncomfortable. Still feel like she didn’t belong. But that was better than this.

Why oh why had she let Brian bring her out here? She hid behind a tree and peered around it toward the house. No one was coming. Brian had gone back to the party.

She leaned against the trunk and slid down it to sit Indian-style, just outside the circle of light. Fairy lanterns twinkled in the back yard, the romantic glow out of sync with what had happened. She held her breath to listen, to reach out with her senses. She was alone.

Her new blouse was torn and clung to the slight rise of her breasts. So did the smell of his aftershave, its headiness now mingled with her fear and revulsion. Beads of perspiration gathered around her lips and under her arms, it dripped down her chest. Strands of hair clung to her face and neck.

She wanted to go back to the party but her pants were wet and sticky, and the smell of his semen made her gag. If she went in there, everyone would look at her. And they would know. They would think she was bad.

Maybe she was.

A whippoorwill called in the distance. Another one answered. Someone opened the back door and Pink sang of heartache and despair. A tear trickled down Janice's cheek, followed by another one.

She held her blouse together, wondering where she could find a safety pin. She’d spent three weeks searching for just the right top, going from shop to shop to find this particular one, white with big splashes of orange flowers. She had thought it made her look older, had wanted it to. She wanted to look beautiful for Brian.

She was a fool. Brian had wanted only one thing.

It happened so fast. One minute everything was wonderful. They were laying side by side and he was kissing her. Next minute her pants were down and his knee was between her legs, shoving them open. She was strong and fought him. He was stronger.

He'd fought back with words. "You don't want to be a tease, do you?"

Then, "Let me just feel. I won't do anything, I promise." And, "You want me to, I know it."

Then the knee, and he was in there.

She had turned to stone. Unmoving. Unseeing. Unfeeling. Eternity collapsed and she'd ceased to exist.

But now, the only way out was through. So she walked back in there. She pretended. Everything was fine. Nothing had happened. She drank a beer. Then drank another. She fell out of a car full of girls, giggling. Drunk. Her friends, not a man named Brian, shoved her back in. They got her home. Life went on. They never knew.

*The writing prompt for my story: 8) a high school freshman, 1) in the woods, 7) in the summer and 4) a crime has occurred or is about to.

Could you help me with this? Should this scene be made stronger? It is a flashback to a critical turning point for the main character of my novel, sooo...What do you think?

Thanks for your help, Olivia

A Little Late is Better Than Never

There's a new 'Pick a Number' meme up at The Red Dress Club. I'm a little late, the prompt for today's meme was posted on Tuesday. But the posts go up today, so...I thought I'd let you know in case you want to run over there and play. Just click the button to the left to go to the website.

Since My Muse is on Friday strike (and yeehaa/yay, I am beginning to notice a pattern here) I thought I'd participate in this week's writing fun. My entry is (will be) about a high school freshman, in the woods, in the summertime. A crime has occurred or is about to.

In about five minutes, Me and the Muse are running screaming out of the house to: shop, stop by the library, go to my favorite recycle center (aka dump), eat (that's FIRST!), buy veggies at the farm stand, browse my favorite thrift store (okay, yes, this technically should be included in 'shop'), and possibly get a hair cut. Or not, depending on the Muse.

I will be taking my laptop to pound out le entry, which suspiciously looks like a sticky scene I need to write for my wip. But since it's a meme, see...hehe, my Muse loves the idea.

TaTa For Now. I'll be back around to post le piece when I find wifi. Which, up here in the boonies, is code for 'home'. :)


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Formatting From Lit Agent Faye M. Swetky

According to Jeff Rivera and Galley Cat, LiteraryAgent Faye M. Swetky Wants "Starkly Unique and Appealing" Books. The only thing they're not currently accepting is Poetry and Children's Picture Books and they are looking for marketable manuscripts of 60,000 words plus.

The submission policy is outlined on their website and she insists that we follow the guidelines, including the use of Publishers' Preferred Formatting. If you're thinking about submitting to her agency, make sure to read the submitting tips and use the proper submission form which is provided online.

Most of us know how to format properly, but it's always a good time for a quick review, just to make sure that nothing's changed: (Hint? It hasn't! Check it out:)

Good luck with your submissions!

On the home front, I apologize for not having made it by your blogs for the last several days. I miss you. I'm submersed in writing and researching new plot twists for Churches, Chickens and ChiChi's and hatching plans for a new blog.

I'll be back in a couple of days with more news!

~That Rebel, Olivia

OH! And in case you haven't made it by there in the last few days, Roland D. Yeomans at Writing in the Crosshairs is writing a new Science Fantasy mystery and sharing it with us, one scene at a time. We're now three days in and my oh my, the fans are loving it. Including moi! So click on over and catch up, then tune in daily from now until THE END.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What Do You Do After Writing Icky Characters?

What do you do to get the ick off after writing a particularly nasty scene in a vile character's voice?

I took a shower. Washed my hair. Put on essential oils of my friend, Karen's, creation called "Clearing".

But I'm still feeling icky. So. I thought I would share a few things with you to feel better.

Over the weekend, I put a link on the Red Dress Club blog to one of my older blog posts "What You See Is Not Always What You Get". I met some new writers, visited some cool blogs and got some great feedback from the readers. One comment in particular, from a woman named Sandra, made my weekend.

I spent much of said weekend playing in the mountains with my friend (and sister-in-law), Carolyn. So I didn't have much time to do any blog reading or writing. Now I'm woefully behind. But, this morning before settling in with my manuscript, I clicked over to Sandra's blog, Absolutely Narcissism, and belly laughed reading her hilarious Beach Day post. Go ahead. Check her out!

In other news, I read an update on Lucille Ball's estate. Her lifetime achievements awards will revert to her daughter, while the widow of Lucille's second husband gets to auction off her love letters. I find that incredibly sad. I hope whoever gets them will treat them with love and respect.

Finally, I'd like to dedicate this old video of Raquel Welch and Cher singing "Woman" to my new friends, the ladies of the Red Dress Club and to all you writers with little kids at home.

But, hey Guys, check it out. Raquel Welch is smokin' and Cher is her quintessential self! 

Pictures from top to bottom: Carolyn; the lake at Vogel State Park, Blairsville, GA

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tonight I Am Grateful

For a simple life that is full of little besides what matters.

For finally speaking to Trish, Kayla's mother.

For taking care of a debt that needed handling.

For being called back to work.

For having an immune system so strong that it slam-dunked a cold virus in two days.

For having met the requirements to be promoted in my part-time business (but I'm holding out for that $500 bonus, so I'll wait till next month to accept the promotion).

For having a calling in the arts and for being a writer.

For being rewarded by my Muse with a deeper, more meaningful direction for my novel.

Knowing, for the first time in three years, that us good guys are going to win.

For being part of a community of writers who are generous and caring.

These are just a few of the blessings that have been bestowed on me this week. There are so many more: My sister-in-law, who is driving up to play in the mountains with me this weekend. My cousin, who is now in business with me (the one in which we're both up for promotion). My sister, who just got her ticket to meet me in New Smyrna Beach in August. My cat, Bugsy, who is a constant source of companionship and love, affection and amusement. My new friend, who is always there when I need him. The summer rain coming down outside my window, complete with occasional lightning flashes and rumbles of thunder.

I just found out about Half-Full Friday and, though I found out too late to link up this week, I loved the idea and thought I'd do my own little gratitude post. Click over if you'd like to join me next week in the fun.


ab·so·lu·tion   /ˌæbsəˈluʃən/ Show Spelled[ab-suh-loo-shuhn]
1. act of absolving; a freeing from blame or guilt; release from consequences, obligations, or penalties.

I heard Sue Foley's "Absolution" a couple of days ago and, since I am a sucker for the blues and a wailing guitar, this is my new favorite song. I had to share. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Today was an exciting day, one of milestones reached and others anticipated. For me, personally, Madame Muse returned to town and my manuscript took off in to deeper and darker territory, I realized that my one year blogversary is coming up on the 25th AND My blog reached that magical number 100 followers, yeeehaa!

A delightful woman named Gail, with an equally delightful blog (well, three actually) was the 100th follower. Thank you, Gail! Even more cool, Gail clicked over from Jules's blog because of her post about the Tagged game we've been playing. It's a silly game, but fun, in which we reveal the contents of our respective purses. And clever Jules figured out a way to get the guys involved. You go girl!

Which brings me to another topic, the wonder of link love. I am overwhelmed by the generosity I see displayed every day amidst the writing/blogging community. Peevish Penman is hosting an Advice for New Writers blogfest in which (count 'em!) 40 authors are freely sharing their knowledge. Click on over and feel the love.

Then there was RaShelle whose post today was a plug for Alex J. Cavanaugh's new (awesome!) book trailer that was released today. Congratulations, Alex on that milestone! Roni shared some great tips and many other writers weighed in on being a Pantser (most comedically Eric Trant). Papa Hemingway shared some invaluable tips on how to write a great novel via Roland. And this is just a small sampling of the GIVING going on here in our little blogverse. Thank you so much, to all of you for being such generous spirits.

OH, and don't forget Donna Hole's Milestone Blogfest on July 31st.

Speaking of milestones, here's one for you: When I grow up I wanna be an old woman!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Do you ever get an itch? You know, a little niggling that turns in to a giant SLAM if you try to ignore it? Today I had the urge to go see a movie. Just a movie. Nothing in particular. It wouldn't go away so I hopped on (my go-to source for movies) and what pops up but a trailer that says 'click here for sound'. So I clicked. HEY, I usually don't click just because something tells me to. Believe me.

It was the trailer for The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Opening today. Doo doo Doo doo.

Now, I haven't been paying any attention, but this screamed at me to go see it. So I did.

And, OMIGOD, I LOVED it. First off, Nicolas Cage, as Balthazar, is a scruffy hunk in a '350-year-old black leather trench coat'. I'm still a Cage fan and, in my humble opinion, he was perfect as Balthazar.

Jay Baruchel, the voice of Hiccup in "How to Train Your Dragon", was adorably geeky and funny and clumsy and endearing as Dave, the Prime Merlinean (aka, our hero).

Alfred Molina plays a wicked, yet debonair Horvath, the good guy turned bad, out to unleash sorceress Morgana on an unsuspecting world. I thought Toby Kebbell stole his thunder as the hilariously divine 'assistant', Drake Stone, a celebrity magician who has been waiting around for centuries to resume his studies with Horvath, but has been spoiled by his celebrity status.

OH, and let's not forget Teresa Palmer, Dave's crush, who plays a delicious role in helping Dave step in to the very big (old mans!) shoes he's been handed.

Contrary to the popular critics' views, everything about this movie was fun to me. I laughed out loud, got misty-eyed and cheered for the good guys. No, it wasn't perfect. There were a few things that reminded me of other books or movies. But so what. I had a blast.

And, yes, I came out of the theater with a big, silly grin on my face, believing in magic of the best kind. And that, no matter what, us good guys are gonna win.

The previews were awesome today, too: One for a new Secretariet (based on the real thing) movie with Diane Lane and John Malkovich that looks smashing; the big screen trailer for the new Harry Potters (yippee, the countdown's on!), Part I releases November 2010, Part II in July 2011; a trailer for Tangled, an animated movie about Rapunsel that made me laugh out loud; and, hmm, oh, one forgettable one about the Smurf's that had the children in the theater buzzing.

Check out the trailer for Tangled, in theaters on November 24, 2010:

OH, and don't forget Mesmerix's contest over at Scribbler to Scribe. It ends today, July 15th, so get on over there!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

WHOM Do You Write Like?

Just a quick post to share this fun little app I found courtesy of Galley Cat at It's called "I Write Like" and was created by Coding Robots and the journal-writing software Memoires by Mac. Paste in a sample of your writing and it will analyze it and tell you what famous writer you write like.

I plugged in some paragraphs from a post I did on Highly Sensitive People and it (rapidly) came back as Stephen King. Imagine that.

I write like
Stephen King
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Curious, I plugged in the first couple of pages of my Churches, Chickens and ChiChi's manuscript and it came back as Chuck Palahnuik. Since I had no idea who that was (sorry, Chuck!), imagine my surprise when I googled and found out he's the author of "Fight Club" and half a dozen other novels and writes in a genre known as transgressional fiction. Heck. I had to google that, too.

What I read made me blush. Well, not so much at what I read, but that my work might be considered transgressional. And that I'm such a noob.

Why Chuck Palahnuik? (And, why IS it I feel the need to analyze everything?) Could it have been because of the profanity in that first couple of pages? Or because my mc refers to her thong-clad ass in reference to the peepy next door? Probably.

I had to try one more, so I cut a few paragraphs from a different chapter, one that was written in her mother's voice. Now it says I write like Dan Brown. I hope it meant as in one of his earlier novels. Not that last one. Ha. I wonder if it tells you if your writing stinks? Probably not.

Whatever. It is entertaining. And I learned something. I learned that there's a whole other genre out there in the arts that I could aim for. Which means I could write that really naughty paragraph back in that I felt the need to censor, lol.

So, if you haven't already (and I bet you have!) click on over and see who YOU write like. And let me know. Then put a badge on your blogger site so everybody else can play, too.

Hold On To Your Receipts!/Tagged!

Tin House Books, a publisher in Portland, OR, announced on June 30, 2010 it's "BUY A BOOK, SAVE A BOOKSTORE" promotion:
PORTLAND, OREGON (June 30, 2010) In the spirit of discovering new talent as well as supporting established authors and the bookstores who support them, Tin House Books will accept unsolicited manuscripts dated between August 1 and November 30, 2010, as long as each submission is accompanid by a receipt for a book from a bookstore. Tin House magazine will require the same for unsolicited submissions sent between September 1 and December 30, 2010.
Click on over to their website for the complete details, which actually sound kind of fun! If you're shopping for an agent or publisher, go ahead and submit. But don't forget to include your receipt from a bookstore.


Speaking of receipts, I was tagged by the lovely Suzie at ~Writer Junkie~ to reveal the contents of my - UGH- purse.

Which is utterly unfair, 'cause, you know, if I was a DUDE I'd never be asked to perform this oh-so embarassing act.

Hey, ever thought about that word? Embarrassing? Ever take it apart? Em-bare-ass-ing. Fits, huh?

Okay, under protest, I'll do it. But only because I love you, Suzie. And then only because you (and several of my other Blogger heroines) preceded me in performing this dastardly deed.

First, thank you to my sister-in-law, Carolyn, who gave me this Kathy Van Zeeland bag for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I LOVE Kathy bags because they're fun and funky colors AND they have lots of pockets.

As for the contents, here goes:

1) wallet, no I will NOT reveal its contents. But you can guess if you want to;
2) cell phone/home phone/business phone which is also my phone book, my alarm clock and my calculator;
3) Terry Brooks' "First King of Shannara" on its way back to the library;
4) various and sundry business cards for people who have not made it in to my cell phone/phone book;
5) my Sony Super Steady Shot digital camera and Tamrac case (with extra battery). This goes everywhere with me;
6) a postal receipt for stamps;
7) a bottle of HCL for digestion and, HEY, that is definitely tmi;
8) three (count 'em) checkbooks, two personal, one business;
9) Doctor's brushpicks (again, tmi!);
10) three pens;
11) two lipsticks, one lip gloss and one spf 15 sunscreen, and no I DON'T wear them all at the same time. Except maybe the lip gloss;
12) sunglasses, again, ALWAYS with me;
13) my 'cheaters', 1.50 reading glasses;
14) car/house keys; and
15) a key (that doesn't work) to a meeting hall.

Over to the side is a composition book that is too large to fit. But it also goes everywhere with me. It's my 'memory in a binder' cum 'idea catcher' thingy.

OK, folks, that's all. I'm done baring me arse. And my purse. What we won't do in pursuit of the arts!

BUT WAIT, I'm supposed to tag two other gullible amazing women. The rules? Reveal the contents of your bag and tag two others to do the same. Here goes:

Mary, Giggles and Guns; and

Jules, Trying to Get Over the Rainbow

P.S. If you guys have already been tagged, you don't have to reveal again. Just pass on the tag to some other unsuspecting lovely ladies. :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wisdom from the Top

"Cherish your vision and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprint of your ultimate achievements." ~ placard at Mountain Crossings

"Often, it's not the load that breaks you's the way you carry it."~ placard at Mountain Crossings

After a rough week that culminated in a gawd-awful Saturday, Piedmont Writer suggested I spend some time in nature. It was just the shove I needed to get off the pity pot and out the door.

Twenty-five miles from my home, Mountain Crossings at Neel's Gap is housed in the historic Walasi-yi Center sitting directly on the Appalachian Trail at an elevation of 3,108 feet. The drive there is beautiful, lined with hardwoods and pines, rhododendron and mountain laurel, on a winding highway with curves and cutbacks, a motorcyclist's dream.

As I drove, my muse took the reins and connected some dots. Lee of tossing it out, had suggested I read Flannery O' Connor. Yesterday, I began. Aha. One dot connected. Zoe C. Courtman wrote today of tension and the power of "Please don't: ________". Another dot connected.

At Mountain Crossings, I bought two books, "Georgia Trivia" by Stephanie Watson and Lisa Wojna, and "A Treasure of Georgia Folklore" by Ronald G. Killion and Charles T. Waller. Nancy, at the counter, is now my new friend. We share the same Sabrina sunglasses and she was kind enough to suggest I leave my car and walk the trail. I took my Sabrinas and "Georgia Folklore" along with me.

Finding a rocky outcrop just off the trail, I sat and read excerpts from my new Treasure. And was transported back to a time when I spent hours in the woods: reading, playing make-believe or just be-ing. And, guess what? Another dot connected.

Driving back down the mountain, I stopped at Boggs Creek with a notebook and pen, my camera and my keys. I shed my sandals and sat on the rocks in the middle of a butterfly playground. Black swallowtails and tiger swallowtails and cabbage whites fluttered around me. With my feet in the creek, I listened to the melody of the water rushing over rocks and felt raindrops splash me lightly through the shelter of the trees.

Sweetly, in that serenity, my ravaged heart healed.

I see my path more clearly. I have a boundary to set. And I have a manuscript that is a living, breathing thing. It's full of life, and more, it's full of surprises. It may even turn out to be a literary 'thing', instead of a light summer read, as I had thought. We'll see.

To those friends who held my hand through this long, dark night: thank you. I am in your debt.

Pictures from top to bottom: Mountain Crossings, Walasi-yi Center, Neel's Gap; overlook at Neel's Gap; Swallowtail butterflies at Bogg's Creek; Bogg's Creek - and yes, those are my feet. :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Final Scene. Helloes and Goodbyes.

Today was an emotional day. It started last night with a disturbing phone call that kept me up past 2:00 a.m. I was too upset to sleep, so I emailed a friend. Which helped and granted me sleep, but not enough. Then I woke with an aching heart.

Already raw, I discovered Elliot Grace's blog, So Close, but... He had written a powerful post about the Gulf oil spill and how it is killing all the wild life.

I have purposely avoided the news for the last six months and, while I have known about this awful, awful event, when I saw the picture of this pelican, I was undone. His article is one of the most provocative pieces I have read in a while and I sobbed for all the littles who have no choice. If you haven't already, please click on over.

The tears have been close all day. Unable to write, I couldn't read or watch a movie or do anything else for more than a few minutes at a time. I am on empathic overload. So I read a few pages of three different books, none of which captivated me. I watched movies in the background. And I ate. A whole pound of Ranier cherries. Popcorn and cashews. Cheese and Triscuits.

I finally settled in with Breakfast at Tiffany's. I leave you with the final scene. We should all be so lucky.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Faulkner? Not Today.

"Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error..." ~ William Faulkner

Today I clicked over to a new follower's blog and discovered Roxy at A Woman's Write. She was reading Faulkner in the sun to the sound of her children playing on the Slip and Slide. It sounded so delightful that I decided to run over to my local library for a lending card and a peek at whatever Faulkners they might have on the shelf.

I got there just before closing time, gave them my license and an Allstate bill for ID, then went to browse with only seven minutes left. I despise hurrying. Especially in bookstores and libraries. It took five of those seven minutes to locate Faulkner and rule him out. Sorry. Just not in the mood for heavy prose. Another one minute to scan the shelves and rule out Fannie Flagg and Thomas Fleming and a blur of others. Near panic, I scooted over to the new fiction. Nada. Time's up. "Terry Brooks!" flashed in my head. Back to 'Old' Fiction.

About that time, a not-so-nice lady came over to the stack and said, "We're closed you know."

Crap. "Two minutes," I begged. She huffed and turned her back.

Of course he'd be on the bottom shelf. So I'm all squatted down, eyes darting over the titles, looking for "First King of Shannara". I was about to give up when I spotted the almost-brand-new paperback. Grabbing it, I hurried to the front desk where a much-nicer lady checked me out. I left triumphant, with the prequel to Terry Brooks' Shannara series, one I've been wanting to read since last year.

It now sits proudly on my ottoman where I can see it out of the corner of my eye. And the first sentence?
"The old man just appeared, seemingly out of nowhere."
AHA! Notice anything? Yep. There's an 'ly' adverb, right smack in the middle of the first line of a series that sold millions of copies and boasts the first fantasy novel ever to hit the NY Times bestseller list. Which confirms what I already know: sometimes an adverb is the only word that fits. So go ahead. Use it.

I've decided since my Muse seems to be herding me in a different direction, I'll take a little time off, make sure she's serious. So, I'm taking my mind to the playground. One of Terry Brooks' making. Ironically(!), in googling to see how many copies he sold, I found this tidbit in Wikipedia:
One day, in his early college life, he was given a copy of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, which inspired him to write in one genre. While Tolkien inspired the genre, Brooks stated at the Charlotte Literary Festival that he credits the inspiration of his style of writing to William Faulkner's works. With this inspiration, he then made his debut in 1977 with his first novel The Sword of Shannara. This novel became the first fantasy book ever to appear on the New York Times bestseller list, where it stayed for five months. (emphasis added)
Hmm, if I'm getting Faulkner style through Terry Brooks, I think I got the better end of the deal. Not to take anything away from Faulkner, but I'm in need of a playground, not a battle field. I'm trying to steer clear of those today.

Well, just slap ME around!! Terry's written another Landover novel, where the heck have I been?? That's the one I SHOULD be reading. Hmm. The paperback release date of "The Princess of Landover" is July 27, 2010. Next!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Don't Mess With The Muse

Dear Muse,
Have I slighted you? Not honored you? In my haste and excitement at that incredible 3,018 word day did I fly right by and start expecting the next great thing, without giving you the adulation you deserved?

I did, didn’t I? I did my usual, “Wow, ain’t I great! Let’s do more!” dance, didn’t I? Yes. Yes I did.

Did I immediately say, “Wow! At this pace, I can make THE END by an August 17th deadline!” and immediately blab it to the world? Yes. Yes I did.

I want so much to be like those other writers, the ones who whip out a novel in two months or 10,000 words in one sitting. I want to be like Nora Roberts who births five books a year, ripe with lovable and hate-able characters in locales I yearn to visit. I want to be instantly transported to that place and that time where I can write and not have to put on a veil to earn a living out in the world.

Dear Muse, my coveting ego has dishonored you. It has dishonored my Self. I write of lessons and transformation and ignore one of the most profound:

Be Where I Am. Be Who I Am. Accept it. Love it. And in so doing, love myself.

I am not those other writers. I am me. I am unique, and so are they. Only I have my voice, my imagination, my life experience. Only I can tell my story. In my own time, not theirs.

I see now, O Mighty Muse, my lesson:

My path is my path. My process is my process. And it’s not about THE END. It’s about the journey.

And the other lesson? Oh yeah. Don’t mess with the Muse, she’ll kick your ass!

~Olivia J. Herrell

Monday, July 5, 2010

Life Finds A Way. It Always Does. ~ RolandYeomans

"In case you didn't know, you couldn't tell, or you haven't heard, if you're reading this right now on a computer, you're rich. If you have somewhere to go today, you're connected. And if there is anyone, anywhere, who for any reason knows where you are in this moment, you are loved." TUT - A Note from the Universe.  
Yes. Life always finds a way. This last six months has been a huge metamorphological phase for me. I am not being transformed so much as I am being shown who I am and what I am not, what matters and what doesn't. A lifetime of presumptions, predispositions and beliefs are falling by the wayside. I am learning that I need so little. Yet, still I have so much. There are things that I find necessary. A bed, my car, a roof over my head. Food and water. My cat as companion. My laptop and internet. But my life is much simpler than it once was.

For a person such as I, with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, being a doctor or caregiver of any sort is not a great choice of professions. I am paying for that now and riding the pendulum to the opposite extreme. At some point I expect I will settle somewhere in the middle. And I've discovered I'm much more suited to the arts.

Right now I want nothing more than to spend the day writing and hanging out with Bugsy. Some days it is hard to do more than that. Yet I take a shower, put on the veil and answer the curtain call. But only when I must.

Yesterday I drove to Amicalola Falls, which has suddenly become the center of a story line in my novel. I climbed down 425 stairs to stand on the bridge across the face of the falls along with scads of middle easterners (who by all appearances now call NoGA home). I remember a similar experience at Mt Rushmore years ago, when I was unable to enjoy the beauty for the droves of people. I so resented their presence and what we Americans had done to nature.

Yet, yesterday the people bothered me little. Since I'd planted myself in the middle of the bridge and was in no hurry to tackle the steps back up, I became the unofficial picture taker for several different groups of people. Have I changed? No. Not really. Only my perspective has.

What am I trying to say? Who the hell knows, I lost track. OH.

A friend told me that "social scientists say all of us will have to re-invent ourselves at least three times in our lives." I am on the up side of that number, I passed three a long time ago. Looking back, I can see that my life has been about constant reinvention. I am on a priceless adventure, one not to be undertaken by the weak of heart. The resting points have been few and far between. This particular instance just seems to be a particularly profound event.

Maybe it's because the lessons are the same and I needed to be smacked around more than most to learn them. So my reward for obstinancy in the face of universal truth is a big fat face in the dirt slug fest.

But you know what? This too shall pass.

It occurs to me that I have no idea about so much in this world. Sometimes being unaware is not enough. I am finding I have been a know-it-all. And that I really know nothing. It was just an edifice I constructed to shield me from the world, to set myself apart. To keep myself alone. Can't touch this.

Silly me. It didn't work. Well, the alone part did. But I am sensitive. And I feel deeply. And everything touches this.

~Olivia J. Herrell

For the curious and for those who have recently joined my blog, I've added links to previous posts on related topics. If you'd like to delve a little deeper in to the psyche of a southern-fried earth angel, go ahead. Click on over. You just might find a piece of yourself there.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Genre Hopping Crazy Lady?

"Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart - Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens." ~ Carl Gustav Jung

RaShelle at A No. 2 pencil stat! asked the question, "Where do you draw your inspiration?".

In Bridge Across Forever, Richard Bach (one of my favorite authors) shares the following :
What was the question? ...Oh. Where do I get my crazy ideas? Answer: sleep-fairy, walk-fairy, shower-fairy. Book-fairy. And in these last few years, from my wife. Now when I have questions I ask her and she tells me the answer. If you haven't already, I'd suggest you want to find your soulmate, as soon as you can. Next question?
I've always loved this answer, because it's pretty much true for me, too. (The fairy part, not the soulmate part, I'm mateless at the moment.) I just have to pay attention and listen.

The title for my current wip, Churches, Chickens and ChiChi's came to me while driving, from the car fairy, one word at a time. The day the third word fell in to place, I was driving home from a seminar and by the time I reached the house, I had the premise, the main character, several of the supporting characters and much of the storyline. Thank you, car fairy!

I'm now a third of the way through the first draft of that novel, a southern women's fiction with a big smattering of romance and some rauch. As I've mentioned a time or two, I don't multitask well, so when the idea for a new novel, in a totally different genre starting niggling at me a few days ago (during meditation), I told the meditation fairy, "thank you for sharing" and wrote the idea down for later. Later being when I'm done with this first draft.

Today, while sitting for meditation, lo and behold, instead of giving me more insight on where to take my current wip, little niggle insisted on being heard and handed me the premise, the main character, several of the supporting characters and much of the storyline for Novel Two. And it's SciFi. Go figure. Thank you, meditation fairy!

Which brings me to a post by Roland Yeomans at Writing in the Crosshairs a week or so ago. He said he writes in the genres that most influenced him as a child and asked what books we had read back then and whether we find that same corollary in our own writing.

At first, I had a hard time remembering what I'd read (after all, that was a long time ago and I was an avid reader from the time I first started putting sentences together). But his question engaged my rememberer, and I realized that my reads were all over the place. I genre-hopped like crazy. If it looked interesting, I would read it, even when the subject matter was way over my head.

But I was pretty sure I had not read any southern women's fiction or 'romance' back then (though every good novel has a smattering of romance).

Now I get it. Heaven help us. I started out reading all over the place so it's not unlikely that I would write all over the place. The trick will be to have some common thread because I'm pretty sure agents and publishers frown on genre-hopping.

Does Roland's theory hold true for you in your writing? Any words of wisdom out there for a genre-hopping crazy lady?

Friday, July 2, 2010

15-Year-Old Writer Counts 6.5 Millions Reads

That is the title of a Galley Cat article published today. Needless to say, I had to read the article and I HAD to share. I saw it in an email I receive daily from Apparently there is a 15 year-old girl in London sharing her fiction work on a site called Wattpad who's logged 6.5 million reads. Her name is Abigail Gibbs and she has 4,638 fans as of a minute ago when I looked. It seems she is posting a chapter at a time and her fans are snapping it up.

I say, "You go girl!"

But, I have several questions, and here's where my newbie-ness (i.e. ignorance) is showing.

1) Does Abigail get paid for these reads? I clicked on her work and accessed it for free so I think that answer would be NO.

2) If not, can she ever make any money on this work now that she is self-published on a free site? I mean, would a publisher pick up a work like this?

It seems counter-intuitive. But that's just me. Can you guys enlighten me?

Thanks for helping a sister out! Olivia

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Do We Really Need Word Verification? Plus Awards!

One of the things I left out on my Looks Matter in the Blogging World post is word verification (WV). Did I mention that it drives me nuts? No? Didn't think so. At least one other of those 65 people who commented on Elana's post mentioned it too. It's just another layer that burns time and slows us down when reading and commenting on other blogs.

Here's my question: are there really dementoids out there waiting to hack in and make comments? Or computer programs that are busily sending out bots or whatever those feel-y things are to, uh-oh, wait, wait, drop some spam in my comments section?

Once I realized WV annoys the ever-lovin' outta me, I turned mine off. Doesn't it make it sooo much easier to leave a comment on my blog? If I get spammed, well, shoot. I might just have to take a fraction of a minute and, um, delete it!

My buddy, Eric W. Trant at Digging With the Worms, turned his on the other day and made a game out of making up sentences with it. Now that was fun. I even got a fun little snippet for my wip out of that game. But having to do WV every single time I want to comment on your blog? Ugh. Because chances are high that if I'm over there reading your post, I'll want to comment, too. Come on. Make it easy, k?

Now that I shared that peeve, here's my wip report. 22,009 words as of 1:18 a.m. EDT. I missed my goal of 22,000 by the 30th, my birthday. But only by an hour and eighteen minutes. So in my book, I dunnit. Yeehaaa!

Lastly (I think), thank you to Suzie, at Writer Junkie, for sending me some link love in the form of One Lovely Blog Award. Awww. Thank you, Suzie! Go check her blog out, this amazing woman has three! romance wips going at once. She's also a new writer for Critique This WIP.

Here are the rules:
1.Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and her/his blog. (check)
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered. (oh, man, more linky thingys, does anyone know an easier way to do that??)
3. Contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award. (I'll be around soonly.)
Newly discovered. Hmm. Here goes:

1) Stu, at Stusplace, who impressed me muchly with his Bickering Blogfest entry.
2) Tiffany, at Tiffany Neal
3) Kristen, at Take It as It Comes
4) Elizabeth, at Elizabeth Mueller
5) Donna, at Donna Hole
6) Elaine, at Wordsmithing
7) Jen, at unedited
8) Melanie, at Meanderings of Melanie Sherman
10) Arlee Bird, at Tossing It Out
11) L'Aussie, at L'Aussie Writing
12) Mary, at Giggles and Guns
13) Vicki, at Rambles and Randomness
14) Talli, at Talli Roland
15) Jemi, at Just Jemi

Okay, my arm is officially falling off right now sooo...that's it folks! If you recently became a new follower here and didn't comment, then darnit, I've missed you. Let me know and I'll come by to see you and give you some link love!

~That Rebel, Olivia

Postscript: Grown Ups is a sweet movie with enough belly laughs to satisfy. I stuck around until the end of the credits and was rewarded with this song. Adam Sandler wrote it for his dad a couple of years ago. I dedicate it to all our dads:

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