Thursday, March 31, 2011

Award Starts with Aw(www)

Today is the official beginning of the A to Z Challenge. April Fools! NoT.  There are 934 bloggers participating. At least that was the count when I looked a few minutes ago. 934 bloggers who have accepted the challenge to blog on topics from A to Z over twenty-six days in the month of April.

Don't be surprised if I get bored and go backwards from Z to A. Or jump all over the place. The point, I think, is to build blogging muscle, writing muscle. To get in the habit of writing every day.

That said, here goes. I am starting at A. Because it is April. And because I want to.

I've received a couple of Awards over the last couple of months, during the time that I have been mostly away from blogger. This seems to be a perfect time to trot them out and thank my friends for thinking of me.

Thank you.

I may miss one. Or two. If I do, and you notice, please tell me so I can make Amends.

Dang, where are those suckers? Oh wait, I found one. The last one awarded actually, by Jules over at Trying to Get Over That Rainbow.  Thanks, Jules!

This one asks the receiver to tell 4 truths and 1 lie, then pass it on to 5 beautiful bloggers. First, the task.

1) I've found the perfect house and will be moving in within a few months.

2) My cat is having kittens.

3) I just sold Black Betty and bought a new (to me) SL450 Convertible.

4) Calvin Streets is moving here soon to hit the Atlanta blues scene and I'm so happy I could burst.

5) I hate getting awards.

Well, crapola. Thanks, Jennifer Shirk for picking the one 'lie'. You were right. But I did the exercise backwards and listed four lies and one truth. Oops. So, which one is the truth? :)

I'm passing this on to the last five bloggers I've met, most of them through Tessa and LB's Nature of Magic Blogfest. (BTW, I wasn't one of the five finalists, but I did receive a special mention for the excerpt I posted from my new work-in-process. I'm thrilled to pieces, thanks, guys!)

L.B. Diamond @ Yup-Like the Stone
Autumn @ Autumn Shelley
Linda @ Scheherazade
Laura Howard @ Finding Bliss
Monica @ Old Mommy, Still Yummy (who actually found me through A-Z!)

I received this beautiful award from two of my friends, and...

OMG! No you did not. Ummm. Yes I did. I didn't save it. It's not in my dusty award closet. Was it Donna Hole? Jules? Becky, the Words Crafter? Oh, please Universe, help me to be more organized. And please, whoever I forgot, please forgive me. Geez.

Anyway, Donna, Jules, Becky, Elliot, Eric W. Trant, Roland Yeomans, Michelle Gregory, Yvonne at Welcome to My World of Poetry and Bru at Pitch Slapped I am passing this Award along to you.

Because you are always there to hold me up and encourage me, even when I seem to be down for the count. You guys rock.

Please click over and visit these awesome writers. I am blessed and grateful to have each and every one of you in my life.

I've been at this one post for hours and I'm beginning to suspect that if each of the 26 April A to Z posts takes me this long, I probably won't make it. I do, after all, have a bestseller that needs writing. But I'll give it my best shot.

Till tomorrow, then. My hastily scribbled notes say I'll be talking about 'Be vs. Are'. Hmm. WTF? Of course, I was supposed to talk about 'A vs. The' today. Oh well.

As we say in AA, keep coming back. :)

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Meet Hibbs, The Bear with Two Shadows

From Amazon: "In a land just beyond your mirror lies a realm few discover. It is a magical, dangerous dimension. There lurks your darkest nightmares and your fondest hopes.

For nearly two thousand winters there, the seasons have flowed inevitably one into another. Life is as it always has been. The Huron war with the Iroquois, the Commanche with the Lakota, and the Apache with everyone.

Across the great waters, the Mongul storm the great wall of Chin. The samurai of Nippon invade Indus. And the vast Collisium lies in ruins, overgrown with vines and olive trees.

The deer and bear roam the deserted villages of Gaul. And the lonely wind whispers through the towering monoliths of Stonehenge. The race called Whyte is not even a memory. Except to Estanatlehi, The Turquoise Woman, once named Gaia, Goddess of the Earth, by the People she alone remembers.

All of which means exactly nothing to the young bear Hibbs. For as long as he can remember, he has been raised by The Turquoise Woman, whom he simply calls GrandMother.

Trained by her, hunted by the Lakota, accompanied by the strange hawk, Little Brother, Hibbs has happily ambled from mountain to desert to forest, even sometimes across the great waters.

Often he has asked GrandMother why she has led him to so many different lands. The answer has always been : Because a moving target is harder to hit.

He thinks it is a joke. It is not. He is hunted by more than the Lakota. He is being hunted by a being now known as the Gray Bear, though that has not always been his name.

Hibbs is the unknowing key to rescuing the race once called Whyte from oblivion. For that very purpose the Turquoise Woman has raised and trained him. But now she repents of her actions.

She has grown to love the young bear. And for the Whyte race to live, Hibbs must die.

So she has hidden him in the ancient land of Eire, home of all manner of strange beasts and wonders, ruled by the stag-being Cernunnos. Here she hopes she can cause Hibbs to be lost among so many fearsome creatures.

It is a vain hope.

Hibbs, large of heart, bold of spirit, cannot see pain without trying to help. He has become a healer. And heal he will do no matter how much Cernunnos protests.

And protest the tyrant does -- with his vast army of Darklings. To survive, Hibbs and Little Brother must escape, using a mysterious construct called a Sidhe Mound.

Estanatlehi sees her plan to save Hibbs further unravel as the bear and hawk find themselves in Avalon, now being bloodied by an eon-long civil war.

There, in the crystal and gold palace of Caer Wydr, Hibbs interrupts the dark ritual, Diatheke, setting the race called Whyte a step closer to their destiny and himself into a desperate struggle of spirit with the Gray Bear."

One day, less than a year ago, a writer named Roland Yeomans visited my blog and left a comment that touched and delighted me. I hastily clicked over to his blog, Writing in the Crosshairs, to read his entry in the blogfest through which he had found me.

What I read brought tears to my eyes. First, because I'll never in a million years be able to write as beautifully as Roland. He portrays even unsavory characters in such a light that you can't help but connect with them, feel for them, love them. And his main characters? I'd marry 'em.

Now we have Hibbs, the Bear with Two Shadows, who was conceived in a icy-cold apartment as Roland's Lakota mother spun tales for her sick son. Beautiful, poignant, exquisite. These are all words I would use to describe Roland's writing. Sprinkle in humor, wit and a lot of heart and you have the makings of an iconic bestseller. Tolkien, move over.

Roland was kind enough to grant me an interview as he is making the rounds to promote his new e-book. You can't beat the price: $1.99 to download. If you don't have an e-reader, you can download a free app here. Then download the book on Amazon here.

Ready. Set. GO! First off, thank you, Roland, for stopping by. I just have a couple of quick questions, then I'll let you and Hibbs get on with your tour.

First, what is the one thing writers lose sight of, and shouldn't?
"Writing is not all about me --

not even about you --
it is about the readers out there.
They wander into their favorite bookstore, hoping to find a novel to knock their socks off.
Different things will do that of course.
Adolescents hope to find a novel that speaks to their desires and questions, hoping to find a few answers that make sense of a world that we adults have come to realize often makes no sense at all.
A middle manager might want fast-paced action.
A disillusioned woman might want to find a novel that whispers real romance between two lonely adults is still possible
In short they all want a novel that speaks to the universal themes that stir beneath the waters of their unconscious desires."

You were a teacher, a psychologist, a book store owner and now a blood courier. Each of these has prepared you in special ways to be a writer. You have a sixth sense that allows you to see people: not just their outsides, but their insides as well. That is quite a gift. I'd like to know what your take is on myth. What is it and what does it mean?

"We are all bound by universal desires. Yet despite that fact, we are alone. We start life alone. We walk it alone. We meet its end the same way. Along the way, we reach out. Sometimes our touch is returned. Most times it is not.

For a time our paths mingle with the steps of others. But misunderstandings, death, or conflicting goals cause our paths to part.
Some pray to God. Some feel that they are prey to God, playthings of a capricious being without feelings for his toys. Still others feel that they are alone in a random cosmos.
Myths come from our striving for answers to these universal questions that can be distilled into one word : Why?
Myths are Man's way of making a stab at guessing the unknown answer to that one word question."

In The Bear with Two Shadows, you employ Native American mythology. Why did this particular form appeal to you?

"The Native Americans were masters of myths. They needed a mythology to explain, not only the vastness and power of the cosmos and the wonders of nature, but also to explain the mysteries of the human mind with its desires; its fears, and capacities for good and evil; creation and destruction; and selfishness and self-sacrifice.

One such myth strangely transcended across all the tribes from the Apache to the Aztec, from the North American continent to the South. It was the myth that dealt with evil and why the monsters from without can be defeated and why the monsters from within cannot. At least not fully.
The Native American did not dissolve into the winds with the coming of the White Man.
They fought us,
Or should I say half of my mixed bloodline fought with the other half.
In that I am a walking parable of 21st century man : a man at war within himself.
Be that as it may, the Native American fought the Europeans then receded into the shadows of our consciousness -- like their myths of undying evil. And as our headlines reveal, that evil is all too real.
Perhaps then, there is something real within the myths sparked by that evil as well.
It has been said that Man is least himself when he talks in his own person -- but give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. If that is correct, then my novel, THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS, is the truth as I see it.
And perhaps it will speak to the truth lurking within those who read it.
A novel, like a man, is never one thing. There are always several faces behind the mask it shows you.
It is up to each reader of my novel to decide for him or herself which is the mask and which is the true face in what they read of themselves and others in THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS."

Wow. I stand in awe of you, Master Storyteller. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to stop in Rebelville.

Let's hear it for Hibbs and Roland Yeomans, ladies and gentlemen. *loud applause*

I, for one, am clicking on over to download that free app and The Bear with Two Shadows. Right now! I'm hoping that all of you will help me support my friend and fantastic author and do the same. All you have to do is click on the links I've provided.

Happy Reading ~ Olivia J. Herrell
P.S. I believe there are prizes to be won (as in books) if you comment, buy a book, facebook or tweet it, etc. Just click on over to Elliot Grace's blog to get the details and possibly, if you're lucky, a free book!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Nature of Magic Blogfest

Tessa Conte and L.B. Diamond are hosting The Nature of Magic Blogfest. You can click on over for the rules and to get your entry in before Sunday evening (the 27th). Check out the other posts while you are there.

I've decided to post an excerpt from my as yet untitled novel, hoping it will propel me back to writing.

This is taken from the prologue:

"A chill air brushed William’s cheek, followed by the touch of something gauzy and light. He opened his eyes to a flash of lightning through a curtain that fluttered against his face. It appeared he was in a one room hut. Why did this place feel familiar?

By a lowing fire a woman sat, a great furry beast at her feet, a cat curled in her lap. The dog appeared asleep, but the calico’s green eyes were trained upon him.

Without moving, William examined the room. There was a door and a window on the other side. Should need arise he could escape. Why was he here? Why was he not dead? And who was this mysterious woman?

William rose and slung his legs over the edge of the bed, pulling the soft pelt with him. His head swam and the room swayed. The dog jumped to attention between him and the woman, who sat upright and studied him. The fire danced in crystal clear eyes the color of the finest emeralds. He knew those eyes.

“Where am I? How did I come to be here?” William demanded. “What magic has kept me alive? I had an arrow in my shoulder and a spear piercing my heart. Where are the wounds I should bear?” He held the fur to him and swung his right arm as if brandishing a sword. “My shoulder bears no mark, my back no gash. What magic is this that my heart yet beats?”

“Druid magic, my lord. I am Awen.”

William recoiled. “A witch! I have been magicked by a witch?”

She lifted a taper and leaned closer, holding the candle between them. Crimson hair tumbled over squared shoulders and cascaded to a compact waist. Candlelight flickered in long-lashed eyes. Heat gathered in him as he looked upon her mesmerized, unable to tear his eyes from her face.

“A witch I am not,” she laughed. “I am a daughter of the earth, as you are its son. My powers come from her and are used only for good. You know this. You, too, have the gift. Search your heart.”

William tried to stand, but his legs betrayed him. He settled back on the bed. Doing as she bid, he felt no malice or evil from her. Nor lie, either. Still he was wary. The church despised pagans and had fought decades to eradicate them. How had she survived?

“I fled my home in England when they burned us out,” she said, answering his thoughts. “I saw my mother and father murdered by men on horses from my hiding place in the forest. When the soldiers left, I ran to the house. But it was too late. They were dead.

“I wandered for a while, living off the land as is the way of my people. Eventually, other druids happened upon me. They were leaving England and brought me along. One couple was childless and adopted me, raising me in the way of the druid. We were safe here, hidden from the world. Strong magic hides this glade. It was our ancestors before us and cannot be seen by those who do not know it.

“I foresaw your uncle’s treachery,” she continued. “He betrayed you and sent you riding to certain death. I could not let that happen.”

“My uncle? It’s no secret that his loyalties lay elsewhere. But why would a Druid care about my fate?”

“This morning I dreamed of you and of the ambush. You were killed by the spear that pierced your heart. You bled out as one of your own men watched. He betrayed you, William. He relished striking the killing blow.”

She stared at a spot just over his head, going on. “Then Normandy rebelled and neighbor slew neighbor. The madness spread through England, France and Europe. Then on to the Orient and the rest of the world. Civilization fell. Anarchy reigned.

“Humans laid waste to Mother Earth until she could no longer recover. So she fought back. Great cracks appeared in the land, fiery pits that opened up and spewed lava until the seas boiled and the air was filled with fumes too harsh to breath. Earth died. And she took mankind with her.”

William waited for Awen to continue. Her story sounded much like the Armageddon the priests read about from the bible. “And what has this to do with me?”

Awen blinked, as if waking from a trance. “Your death, William. Your death triggered the wars. If you die now, Earth and all that she mothers will die. I cannot let that happen.

“When I woke from the dream I was guided to you. I did not arrive in time to stop the attack, nor could I have. But with the help of a brave meara I rescued you and brought you here. The waters did the rest.”

“The waters? The healing waters of Luftshorne?” he asked.

Awen nodded.

“That’s a legend,” he scoffed, but wondered. Something had healed his mortal wounds. Something very powerful.

“Aye,” she agreed. “A legend based in fact. When you’re strong enough you will see them. But tonight, you must rest.”

Something in Awen’s velvet tones made his body feel heavy and he could scarce keep his eyes from closing. In the midst of a yawn, he found his body moving of its own accord and then he was lying on the feather mattress swaddled in fur.

On the precipice of slumber a thought struck him, making him quake. He was in a Druid’s lair and under the spell of the Druidess. He must escape."

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this little snippet. Please leave a comment before you go, then click on over to read the rest of the entries. Thank you, Tessa and L.B.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Eldala, Heart of My Heart

Ta Da! I did it. I read a book. Mind you, I have several stacks. I keep buying them. I want to read. I try to read. But up until this last week, there's been an irritating little censor in my head that critiques every word and phrase. Dang dude stopped me over and again.

Eldala, Available from Amazon
Thank you, Michelle Gregory, author of Eldala. I finished reading your book a couple of nights ago and found it charming, delightful and, to be perfectly honest (I'm showing my guts here), enlightening. It's a tale of two people whose hearts become entwined then are wrenched apart.

Prophecy, fate, magical curses and power all play a hand in Kieran and Jessara's lives. Though set in a different time and place, I couldn't help but draw parallels between the curse upon Teleria and the utter chaos going on in the world around us today.

Closer to home, watching these two characters dance around each others 'stories' gave me a powerful insight in to my own love relationship. What appears to be missing, may not be. And what is as plain as the nose on your face to one person may not be so evident to the other.

Thank goodness these two had fate and a talented writer prodding them together. In real life (mine) that is not usually the case. I almost lost my Eldala.

Understanding, like inspiration, often comes from the most unlikely place. Who'd a thunk that reading a love story peopled with evil despots and curses and magic (read fantasy) would clue me in to what a big lug I've been for the last seven years.

Thank you, Michelle Gregory (my fellow HSP) from the bottom of my heart. And, thank you to my Eldala, for not letting go.

To everyone else, if you like a good love story spiced with danger, intrique, a kingdom to be saved and a people to be freed, Eldala is your ticket. Click here to buy a copy.

If you're touchy feely, like me, order the paperback version. If you're more like my sister-in-law, Carolyn, and prefer your books in digital form, you'll find those here, too. But, either way, grab your copy soon.

OH YES! And thank you to Christine Hole at The Writers Hole. I won my copy of Eldala in her You've Come a Long Way Baby Contest/Blogfest and how lucky for me. Thanks, Christine!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Say Hey, I Love You

I've shared this link before, but here it is again. Because I do.

Happy Friday Everyone! Olivia

P.S. Today is my 20th AA Aniversary so I'm celebrating with a movie, a meeting and friends!

P.P.S. I've officially lost 10 pounds, yeehaa. Yes, I'm a bit short of my goal but, HEY, it's 10 pounds. 25 more to go. :)


Monday, March 14, 2011

Alone Beneath the Southern Cross

As a child growing up in rural Georgia, I developed a habit of wandering off in to the woods or fields on our property. I was in search of a hideout, a place to escape the constant barrage of personhood one experiences in a family of six. Especially one that lives in a very small house.

I never thought about why I climbed trees to get away from the rest of the world. I just did it. Now I know that I was seeking the comfort and solace of solitude. A place to dream dreams and pretend.

I crave alone time. Did even then.

These last few years, my life has been topsy-turvy and willy-nilly. If you are a regular here, you know all about it. If not, trust me. And while things seem to be getting 'better', and I seem to be getting better, the ground under my feet feels like shifting sands.


I feel like I'm either tiptoeing or barreling through (depending on the day) a Twilight Zone episode.

Maybe it has something to do with my cat whizzing in my aunt's fireplace gravel or me breathing Kilz fumes for two nights in a row and having a bout of allergic-itis that included sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and sleeping a lot.

Or maybe it's because I'm working again. Or that I'm 53 years old and living with a relative rather than in my own place. Or because I (Ms Get-It-All-Put-Away-As-Quickly-As-Possible) have boxes all over my bedroom and my office equipment is still in Dahlonega.

It could be that being back in Villa Rica and having a family again, one that is quite large and branchy and complicated, is overwhelming me just a bit.

You think?

Well, hell, it has been a long time since I felt like a scolded seven-year-old.

Hey. It could be that Bobby McGee is bouncing in and out of my life and my emotions are wonky in his wake. I could be hormonal. 'Cause God knows those finally joined the party.

Whatever is going on with Olivia, I am in serious need of a hideout. And not just any hideout.

I need a beach. With the waves and sun and sand filling my senses and seabirds wheeling overhead.

Here's a 'beach' song that touched me in a special way today, Southern Cross by CSN.

And don't miss the amazing website I found when I googled Southern Cross. The pictures are phenomenal. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Put on Your Sailing Shoes

For all my blues buddies, on this Friday night, umm, make that Saturday morning, a bluesied up version of Robert Palmer's Sailing Shoes.

Courtesy of Stevie Ray, David Sanborn, Maria McKee, et al:

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chocolate Blues Experiment

It's 3:00 am and I now know how much caffeine is in a whole bag of Lindt's 60% dark chocolate truffles. And just how long it takes for the resulting crash.

Aren't you glad I did the research for you?

Two other things I found out tonight: David Letterman is really funny when he talks about his seven-year old and when I'm desperate enough, I will actually type a blog post on my teeniny iPhone keyboard. With one finger.


Twitter anyone?

~ Olivia J Herrell

P.S. I am taking on the position of agenting a hot blues artist, Calvin B. Streets. If anyone out there has any words of wisdom, I'm all ears.

Here's Calvin playing She's My Baby.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dragon*Con 2011

Last year I heard rumblings about Dragon*Con and something about pirates and faeiries and so forth. In researching Atlanta music venues for my favorites blues artist, I stumbled across this:

Dragon*Con is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe!
For real?

This year, Dragon*Con will be held Labor Day weekend (September 2–5, 2011) in Atlanta, GA.
HEY! That's MY neck of the woods! Whatever it costs, I'm putting Dragon*Con on my calendar for this year. Would anyone care to join me? If so, we should register soon. Several of the host hotels are already sold out. And the price (for the four days) goes from $90 to $105 after May 13th, and to $120 after July 15th.

We can help get the word out to take Dragon*Con global:

So whether it is by telepathy, ansible, or signal fire, we need to get the word out. You don’t want to miss out on the chance to share Dragon*Con with the rest of the world!

There is a huge guest list. My top three must see/meets are: Terry Brooks, Timothy Zahn, and WILLIAM SHATNER! Yeeehaaa.

Plus, Charlaine Harris, Anne McCaffrey and so many more. Leonard Nimoy. Sean Patrick Flannery. For $90. Yeah. I'm going! SF Blogger family, let's get together and meet in Atlanta over the Labor Day weekend.

What say you, maties? Meet me at Dragon*Con 2011?

Arrrrr ~ Olivia J. Herrell
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