Monday, September 27, 2010

You Wrote How Much? Blogfest

Patti Nielson is having a You Wrote How Much? Blogfest! These are the rules, copied from Patti's blog:
Starting Monday, September 27th, you write down every minute you spend writing or editing everyday until Friday, October 1st.

On Monday, October 4th post your results, or you can keep everyone update to date daily if you'd like.
I typically count words written rather than time writing so this is a new approach for me. I thought I'd try it and see what happens.

I bet there's still time to sign up if you'd like to join in. Click here.

BTW, I spent several hours yesterday editing and writing but I didn't keep track of the time. I polished a couple of chapters and added another one, around 1500 words.

That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Inches and Miles

Today The Great Writing Experiment (hosted by Elana Johnson, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and Jennifer Daiker) is going on over at Elana's Blog. The topic is Writing Compelling Characters. There are no rules. So I'm posting about a character, one that I hope is compelling. I am so close to my work that I don't know if she is or not. I'm hoping that you'll be honest and tell me.

The Autumnal Equinox is the one time of the year when day equals night no matter where in the world you are. Sarah shuffles to her car in a gait that screams old lady. She makes a note of this and adds it to the pile of mounting evidence: the pale yellow raincoat, treasured but ancient; the slumped-over, caved-in posture; the lurking tears ready to spring forth and the teeth she’d forgotten to brush.

Yesterday it was the odor that clung to her two-day-old clothes as she left the Department of Family and Children’s Services. Not many of her clothes fit her anymore and, while she wanted to care, knew she should care, she couldn’t.

At least today she’d had a shower and colored her hair. But even that was evidence of the slide. Until a few months ago her luscious red hair had been managed by a high-priced stylist. Today her color came from a $5.97 box of Clairol Natural Instincts.

“How does one slide from the top of the world to an old lady in a raincoat with bad breath and b.o.?” she wondered.

Looking back she saw it had happened by inches and miles.

She remembered being a doctor, sought after and respected. She made good money, employed an assistant and paid her taxes. She was generous and talented. She had finally found the love of her life and he was in love with her. She owned a condo and lived in the land of her dreams.

Then her stepfather died and a few months later, her mother followed. The recession hit and her business suffered. She cared. She threw money at the problem but the outflow became a hemorrhage. She paid her mortgage with credit cards like a good little citizen and over time she lost it all.

She cared so much that it rocked her faith and cracked her foundation. Her indomitable spirit faltered.

The stress made her sick and she kept going. She'd had to. But nothing could stop that awful slide. The love of her life soured. He fell in love with a doctor, he said, not a failure. And that had been the final blow.

Adrift, treading in dangerous waters, she kept paddling even though some days she couldn't remember why. Till she met Eli.

And the inches became smiles.

Sarah swam toward him, excited and full of hope but his words were hollow. Instead of shelter and comfort she found rejection and heartache. Now she was alone, far from home, with nothing.

Miles became inches and inches became miles and there was no where and no way to escape. Denial was her blanket, her only comfort.

She sat, every day like an automaton, staring at her computer, wishing things were as they had been. Then the call came, a loved one suggesting Sarah apply for aid. It was then that Sarah knew what she had suspected for some time: she was no longer a productive member of society.

Surrounded by walls she couldn't scale, she made the call. She filled out the form. Candice the caseworker at the DFCS, was kind. She told Sarah there was no shame in needing help, that this is what DFCS was for.

Sarah cried in earnest then, hot tears of shame dripping down her cheeks as her world crumbled to dust. What she needed, more than food stamps, was help for her soul. The depression, so close at hand for four years running, consumed her. It dogged her footsteps, making her clothes too small and her sleep too long. It kept her from working. She was at the end of her money, her credit and her assets. And her prison cell was full of fleas.

Candice handed her a Kleenex and through the lump in her throat, Sarah asked if there was a free clinic that could help her escape. There is. Sarah whimpered and made another call.

That miserable day ended and Sarah slept for twelve long hours before waking to another miserable day.

This morning she sprayed for fleas and set a bomb for good measure, then trudged to a 12 Step Meeting where her wretchedness was confirmed. Even the steps had failed her.

Afterward, she found the clinic. She wondered how she had fallen so far and so hard. Taking the paperwork from Linda, she put on her glasses and sobbed, unable to see though the tears. Another patient, the only other soul in the waiting room, let her cry.

Linda is sorry but they can’t see Sarah today and not for another two weeks. Does Sarah mind driving to another town next Wednesday? Dumbfounded and unable to argue, Sarah agreed and left. But she can’t go home, her house is bug bombed. She did anyway and sat on the deck in a plastic chair. She sat so long that her hand went numb from leaning on her elbow.

Finally, she dragged her bones back to the car and drove to Five Guys for a hotdog and coke and a cool place to write. She deposited her laptop on a table and ordered, then came back and turned it on. The battery is low, she needs her power cord.

Sarah shuffles to her car in a gait that screams old lady. She feels more ancient than her raincoat. She wonders how she will muster the strength to make it until Wednesday. But it’s the Autumnal Equinox and she knows that she will.

It's only inches and miles.

This post is dedicated to the millions who suffer from chemical depression, an oftentimes fatal disease if left untreated. Thank you to Elana, Alex and Jen for hosting this 'experiment'. There are 177+ entries last time I checked. Click here to read all the other awesome posts and to add your own if you haven't already.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Top 10 TV Shows Blogfest, My Favorites

Alex Cavanaugh
Today is Alex Cavanaugh's Top 10 TV Shows Blogfest. I forgot. Totally. Until I checked my blog and had three new followers (thanks, angels!). I clicked on 'stats', that lovely button someone recently pointed out (thank you!), and found they had clicked over from Alex's blog. I don't REMEMBER signing up. But, yeah, there's my name.

Sooo, without further ado, here is my hastily thrown together list. It's in no particular order other than that in which the shows popped in to my head. Did I forget a favorite? Probably. But here are the ones I DO remember.

1. Two and a Half Men. I have seen every single episode of every season. Numerous times. I still watch it and still laugh out loud. Why do the antics of misogynist Charlie, his mooch-of-a-brother Alan and his numnuts nephew, Jake, make me laugh so hard? Don't know, don't care. But it's funny. Their self-absorbed mother and sassy maid Berta are just icing. This is the last season but I expect this show to live unto perpetuity on syndicated telly. (I actually got to see the season opener tonight, yay!)
2. Gilmore Girls. After quitting my day job in 1994 to go back to school full-time, something had to give. Those somethings were TV and newspapers. Six or so years later I discovered a little ABC show called The Gilmore Girls. The characters were real and endearing, the banter quick and witty. Once a week I was wisked to enchanting Stars Hollow with single mom Lorelai and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Rory. The kooky cast flit in and out of handsome, but cantankerous Luke's Diner. Alas, GG ran it's course. But episodes are still available on ABC Family.

3. Sex and the City. I didn't catch the SATC bug until its next to the last season, but I quickly caught up by renting Season One on DVD. Then I bought several seasons. Then rented some more. This show grew in substance and by Season Four the episodes were about more than just relationships and sex. These girls experience loss, infertility, cancer and more. All the while keeping us laughing.

4. Gilligan’s Island. This is one show I remember racing home to see as a kid. I longed to be Ginger, though I was more of a Mary Ann. I never was good at dumb. Or glamorous. I could totally relate to Gilligan, the irrepressible optimist. I was intrigued by the Howells who managed to stay 'rich' even on a deserted island with no money. I found the Skipper to be an even bigger dummy than Gilligan. And the Professor? Quite sexy.

5. Boston Legal. This is probably my favorite TV show of all time. William Shatner is the train wreck that keeps me coming back for more as Denny Crane, senior partner. James Spader is Alan Shore, Denny's best friend and all-too-human defender of humanity. With a brilliant supporting cast that includes a strong Candice Bergen, this show delivers belly laughs and tears while tackling tough current issues.

6. Brothers and Sisters. This show boasts Sally Field, Calista Flockhart and Rachel Griffiths, among others. A wonderful show full of family dynamics, current issues, laughs and tears. This week is the season opener.

7. Ally McBeal. Another show I caught the tail end of. Loved Jon Bon Jovi and all the wild cut away scenes.

8. Star Trek. The original series. I never did get in to all the other Star shows. Probably my loss.

9. The Closer. Gotta love that southern drawl gracing female lead, Kyra Sedgwick. Yeah, I know it's not her real accent. But still. This show does a good job of showing the fragility and quirks of a strong character.

10. NCIS. Mark Harmon. Need I say more? Yeah, okay. It's not just Mark. The whole show rocks. Even though I have to close my eyes when a gory mess is present. Luckily, that's only a small fraction of the show. Also opening this week.

There you have it. Click on over to Alex's blog to read the rest of the entries. Who knows, you may find some new shows to check out. Thanks, Alex, for hosting! And thanks every one for stopping by. I'll be making my rounds this evening and tomorrow to check out all the other entries. I need me some new favorites!

~That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, September 17, 2010

Notes from the Universe and More Friday Finds

Do you ever feel like your ship is never coming in? This was yesterday's Note from the Universe. I receive these uplifting missives every weekday. You can, too. Just go to and register.

"You know those people, Olivia, you sometimes feel you're waiting for? I mean new friends and connections, agents and directors, customers and clients, publishers and producers, dear hearts and darlings. Well, they're actually just waiting for you... to make some serious room for them in your life.

Do stuff, Olivia, little stuff, lots of stuff, prepare the way... and don't even think of stopping until you're dining with them at The Ritz.

The Universe

Thoughts become things... choose the good ones! ®
© ®

"Room Service? Hi. It's me again, Olivia Herrell. That's right, in the Penthouse Suite. If you wouldn't mind, could we please have another round of desserts, some more wood on the fire, and, uh, some new springs for the trampoline?"

Is your name holding you back, maybe even keeping you from being published? My friend, Karen Mead, shared this link on Facebook.

There is a fabulous celebration of friendship and publishing success going on over at Elliot Grace's blog. What an inspiring and inventive way to acknowledge his landmark 100 followers AND his debut novel, South of Charm, coming our way in 2011.

There is a lot of blog love (link love as my friend, Postman, calls it) going around the blogverse these days. Another friend shared this awesome vid on FB (I'm so sorry, I forgot who!) and I HAD to share. This is dedicated to all of my friends.

Last, but not least, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY, to my nephew, Joshua Herrell, who is stationed in South Korea.

Amanda, his wife, keeps us informed on Facebook and via her blog.

I wanted to share a pic of Josh standing (in uniform) on the North Korean border. She'd posted it a few days ago to FB. Alas, she's taken it down.

So instead, here's a shot of him on vacation with his family in Guam.

Love you, Josh!

AHA! Found that picture. I had shared it on MY Facebook page. It's still there so I'll share it with you. Josh with North Korea behind him:

I love you, Josh!

Stay safe.

We're sending thoughts of love and light, peace and joy your way.

~Aunt Olivia

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Be Still and Write

Walasi-Yi. It's quiet here midweek, post Labor Day. Unlike my thoughts. They skitter, slide and bounce. A new direction has been presented and my brain is off and running. Yesterday was spent in research needed to determine what is possible. Online. Emails. Phone calls.

All that activity brought me back to what I already know: financially I am in a box with no wiggle room. My heart believes different and instructs my subconscious creator to make it happen. Then hurtles in to a tailspin, an emotional whirlwind of whys and why nots.

The poplars are turning yellow. Isolated leaves blown free by the capricious wind tumble to the ground where they will prepare the way for their brethren.

I close my eyes. The wind picks me up and carries me with it. Tenor chimes sing in time to my flight. Then I'm grounded once more as cars pull in to the parking lot and the footfalls of man approach.

So like life.

A fellow wanderer clicks pictures of the gorge. Another fills his water bottle.

The wind gathers in the treetops, its crescendo touching my soul. I think of August Rush who hears music in every sound. The leaves, the chimes, even the cars roaring by and the passenger doors slamming play a part in my mountain concerto.

Who does it call?

Or what?

I hear it shout, "Just be.

"Give your creator time to create."

"Be still and write."

And so I obey.

I am still.

I write.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Evoking Emotion

Years ago my husband (now ex) introduced me to singer, songwriter Michelle Shocked. Everytime I heard this particular song it would choke me up. I never stopped to think about why.

Recently, when looking for a song I'd heard and fallen in love with (in a commercial, no less), I found out it was Michelle. I included the song, When I Grow Up, in a post a while back.

Yesterday I stopped to listen to Anchorage, the 'choke me up' song. I watched the video for the first time. And bawled. Yep. My face was wet and I was boo hooing to beat the band. Why? No particular reason that I could fathom.

Except one.

Michelle has masterfully woven EMOTION in to this beautiful song. Never once does she hint at love, longing, regret, grief or acceptance. But every word is steeped in these powerful emotions.

Here, my angels, is a word master.

Please give her a listen. First, close your eyes and listen to the words. Then listen again watching the video. Adding the visual increases the emotional impact. But it's there, no matter.

I want to be like Michelle.

Have an awesome weekend. I'm heading off to Villa Rica's Gold Rush Days.

Be Shocked. Enjoy Michelle.

~That Rebel, Olivia

P.S. Thank you and welcome to all my new followers and commenters. And to the rest of you, too! A special mention to Yvonne at Welcome to My World of Poetry who claimed the magical 150th spot. Pop over and give Yvonne some blog love. She's going through a tough time right now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Do You Get Unstuck?

Congrats to Mary for getting unstuck. How'd she do it? By reading a friend's blog about something totally unrelated.

Never underestimate the power percolating in the blogverse.

Or in the ocean.

Or in the wisdom of a friend's words.

Or in the girl with the faraway eyes.

My writing sanctuary in the living room has kicked me out. I've been sent to my bedroom. There the words come. Clumsy, I will admit. I read what I wrote yesterday and it needs work. But I'm proud of every single shiny word.

Business is done for the day. Dinner is on the stove. Soon my belly will be full and I'll shuffle off to the rocker recliner in the bedroom. With my laptop. And my Florida notes.

Happy Writing to YOU! Olivia

If you liked Faraway Eyes, you'll love Dave Roots on

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to Writing

Yes, I'm back from New York. I'm back from Florida. And starting today, I'm back to writing. Full steam ahead.

Toward that end, I have set a 5000 word per week quota on my Churches, Chickens and ChiChi's manuscript.

Making this quota will produce a completed first draft by mid-November.

Which rules out NaNoWriMo. Yes, I had been contemplating kicking off my newest novel during that time. We'll see what happens with CC&C first, though.

Happy writing. To all of us!

~That Rebel, Olivia

P.S. I just ended up at this really cool website (yes, I'm supposed to be writing!) and thought I'd share:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Perfect Beach Days

Canaveral National Seashore. This was our favorite beach.
We parked our sand chairs in the shadows and ventured
out in to the warm Atlantic surf. Out here, the mind quiets and the senses take over.

Golden Silk Spiders string ginormous webs (up to 8 ft) across any space they could find in the palmetto thickets and from tree to tree spanning Eldora Lane. They bounced and swayed on the coastal breeze. Driving underneath them with the top down was quite, umm, interesting.

We sat between two turtle nests, careful not to disturb them.
The wire mesh keeps the racoons from eating the eggs.

In the foreground of this picture the yellow stake marks a turtle nest. This magnificent view will greet the hatchlings as they scamper down the beach to the Atlantic. Once in the water, they will swim to the inlet and make their way up Mosquito Lagoon. According to Nita at the Visitors's Center, the sheltered lagoon acts as a nursery.

Dunes on the Atlantic side of the barrier island, Canaveral National Seashore. The sand marches up to the sea oats, these are beginning to bloom. Behind the sea oats are palmetto thickets which abound on the island.

Mosquito Lagoon. Aptly named. I can vouch for it.

Our shadows on the Atlantic beach.

Then a shower. No pictures. :D

Dinner at PJ's. We had a yummy Mediterranean pizza (Loose Zeus) with grilled chicken and spinach artichoke dip slathered on it. For finishers, the most decadent pie to cross my palate in ages, Reese's Peanut Butter pie.

My new 'hook'. Check out the plastic tube above it full of fish. The tube circles the dining room/bar area of PJ's.

Tonight is our last night.
For the first time in years,
After a week away from home
I'm not ready to leave.
I want to stay.
Someone ship me Bugsy.
The ocean calls.

~Olivia J. Herrell
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