Monday, December 31, 2012

Letting Go of 2012 (And So Much More)

Last night I woke around 1:30 after going to bed at 9:00. This is not an unusual occurrence. Usually I get up, go to the bathroom, climb back in bed and fall asleep until morning.

But not last night. Last night I tossed and turned, kept awake by a throb in the leg that I had not experienced in a long time. Around 3:30 I got up, grabbed my journal and started writing. One of the things I wrote was this:
"It's hard to be optimistic about life at 3:38 in the morning."
After that came the litany of reasons why that was true. I am debating whether to share these. Oh god. Here goes.
  1. The love of my life (so far) lives on the other side of the country with another woman. (This probably snuck in to the list because I had watched a movie called Young Adult earlier in which an alcoholic Charlize Theron (I mean sloshed 24/7) plays a writer who tries to rekindle an old flame.)
  2. The novel I wanted to have finished by the end of 2012 sits in the computer with the first draft begging to be completed and it's all over the place. I have 95K words, some of which are good, others extraneous, and probably 5K more left to really make it complete.
  3. I have a tumor in my leg, but more urgently, I have a tumor in my chest.
  4. I have an amends to make and resolved yesterday that I would not let another year end without doing it.
  5. I have a friend that I need to vent to and a trunk to retrieve.
  6. I have a home/office that, while it suits my needs, does not support, nor fill my soul and I am tasked with signing another 12-month lease.
  7. I have $1000 worth of bills due as of tomorrow, including rent. (This was troublesome because at the time of writing there was little more than $100 in the bank.)
Once this was all written down and I could do nothing else, I climbed back in bed and slept like a baby until the alarm went off at 7:01.

The reality is:
  1. The love of my life ain't all that and I'm ready and open to being with one who is.
  2. The novel is exactly where it's supposed to be at this stage in the game and forcing myself to write because I should usually has the effect of making me balk like a stubborn mule. (And did. I'm writing this instead tonight.)
  3. The tumor in the leg has been there since the mid-80's. The one in the chest possibly as long.
  4. I wrote the amends letter tonight. As soon as she confirms I have the right email I will send it. Hopefully that happens really soon.
  5. Once #4 is complete, I'll be on to #5.
  6. I will either stay or I won't. The new lease is in an envelope, unopened and unsigned. I would really, really like to have a place where I'm not confronted by haints nearly every evening/night, a place where I can undress without feeling some perverted ghost is ogling me, or that one is hanging out in the corner leering at me while I watch a movie or waiting for me to help it pass to the other side. I want to feel comfortable walking around my house in the dark. Never before has this been as issue. Tonight I had dinner at a friend's house and her brother (out of the blue) told me of a house he has that might work. (I had not and have not told her, him or anyone that I was considering a move!)
  7. I create my own reality. When I went from thinking I needed a loan to believing the money would be provided, a 'miracle' happened.  I stated that God was sending me several new patients this week, starting today. As of last night's writing I only had one patient on the today's schedule, a new one. This morning three regulars booked and then a couple (new patients) called and came in. All today. All of them bought packages (and got a sweet deal!). And I now I have enough money to cover all those expense. God is good.
So here at the tail end of 2012, I am sharing my load, because in the sharing, it becomes lighter. It already has.

May your new year be bright and shining as we create the world we want to live in, rather than the one we've been told we must.

Are you letting go of anything or leaving anything behind in the year 2012 to make way for the new year 2013?

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Taking It Up a Notch

I spent more hours researching today than I did writing.

The threads under study are for Books Two and Three of Peace Makers, but the roots have to be planted in Book One. So I'm now going back and adding a third level of "bad guys" to the story.

No, I haven't written the last chapter. Things will happen there that result from what I'm working on now, so I'm waiting. Plus, today was a bad-guy kind of day.

Here is a paragraph from one of the scenes:

"He watched her performance for another minute, reveling in his good fortune at finding the perfect patsy. It was time to update the council. Stretching webbed fingers to the console to change bandwidths, he halted. The woman had begun singing. The song reverberated in some distant corner of his memory. The voice was angelic, like the Elohim from which he was descended, though he was far removed from his lofty forebears. He’d been stuck in this hellhole too long."

That, my friends is an excerpt from a nasty character I am working on, though evil isn't my strong suit. It is distasteful for me, even to write. I have a mechanism, a safety valve, that keeps me far removed from that sort of thing. Some call it naive, I call it dwelling in the good. To write not-so-nice characters and situations, I have to unlock that mechanism for a while.

As I said today on Facebook, it is so much easier for me to write the good ones.

Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you like it. Or not

~  Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. Thank you to author Christine L. Hardy, who inspired tonight's post .

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm Baaack

Yes. That's right. I couldn't stand it any longer. I missed you guys. It's lonely over in Wordpress Land. So starting tonight, oh wait, it's tomorrow. Starting now, I'm back.

First, a little update on Blessed Are The Peace Makers, which will heretoafterevermore be referred to as Peace Makers. The current word count is 86K. The heroine and critical players are in place for the final scene which is taking place at Zoo Atlanta.

NaNoWriMo was the impetus that got me here. I will admit I took a nine day break. Yep. The first nine days of December I did other stuff. But it paid off. In inspiration, motivation and every otheration.

I had several giggling, laughing episodes this evening. It is heady stuff being so close to the end of a manuscript. One that's three years in the making. In February 2010 the first seed idea presented itself. I was in the middle of another novel, a chic lit that was a lot of fun writing.

I scribbled the idea down and went on. But others bombarded me and I was getting nada for my chic lit. So I shelved it and started Peace Makers.

It has been a fabulous journey. The Dead just sprang to mind. What a long, strange trip it's been. Looking back, I smile. And laugh the laugh of delight. All the research. All the new horizons. All the words, characters and chapters. And all the ones to come. I've found my place. I've found my home. I am a writer. And my book is almost done.

I send a heartfelt thank you out to each and every one of you. I began this journey with you. And even when I jumped ship to Wordpress you supported me on Facebook, or silently on your own, wherever you were in your own life.

It feels only fitting that I end it with you, too.

Thank you all so very much.

~ That Rebel, Olivia J Herrell

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Angels Among Us

I was up at 5:30 this morning for an 8:30 appointment in Midtown Atlanta in the dark and pouring rain. Thank you to (my BFF) Ginny for driving me and for being there. Dr Wray said the tumor looks well-contained. 99.9% of this type are nonmalignant, but it's of a size that it needs to come out.

It arises from the nerve root between T3 and T4, but because it is outside of the spine (thank God!) he's not the man for the job. He is referring me to Dr. Refai at Emory Spine Center who specializes in this very thing. Dr. Wray's office will handle all the up front (getting me in, records transfer, etc).

Next step? Phone call from Dr. Refai's office setting the appointment day and time.

On the one hand it feels I am no closer to getting this thing out of me. But on the other? I googled Dr. Refai and he is Director of Spinal Oncology at Emory Spine Center. Now THAT humbles me. THAT brings grateful tears to my eyes.

Never, and I mean NEVER, underestimate the power of your angels. And if you think all angels are invisible, think again.

Mine are all around me: living, breathing, hugging, crying, cheering, praying, lifting me up and just being there.

For me. Some don't even know me. But they know somebody who does.

And because they can.

Thank you, Angels. Thank you.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. I just thought of what the tumor looks like. A big, fat turkey fig, ripe and ready to pluck.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Have a Tumor

Maybe I should start at the beginning.

Almost three months ago, I bought a new car. Two days later I was rear-ended, my head slammed in to the headrest creating jaw, neck and head pain. Fast forward two months and I'm still having bouts of shooting jaw pain, plus now paresthesias in both arms, burny pins and needles in my right one and occasional numbness in my left hand.

On a referral, I ended up last week in a neurologist’s office. This past Tuesday they did a nerve conduction study of my hands, arms and upper back (ouch, ouch and triple ouch). No nerve damage. Good news.

Thursday I went in for a double MRI, first of my neck from C1 through T2ish and second of my brain. The brain scan was clear. The neck MRI showed something in front of my spine, enough to make the tech seek confirmation from a neuro that we should repeat the study with dye. We did.

I’ll cut to the chase. I have a right-sided mediastinal mass at T3-T4. It is in front of the spine, does not extend in to the spinal cord, but does travel up the foramen (where the spinal nerve comes out at that level).

The differentials as proposed by the radiologist are a Schwannoma and a couple other nerve tumors that are usually found only in children. None of them are typically malignant. But the neurologist vehemently insisted I consult a neurosurgeon right away to have it removed.

When I had the presence of mind (and apparent audacity) to ask the results of the rest of my neck, he obliged me by nutshelling the findings, then immediately directed my attention back to the ‘eight hundred-pound gorilla in the room’. His words.

Next step? Find an experienced neurosurgeon who can take me right away. My friend Ginny made a phone call. It sounds like I’ll be able to get in with hers at Piedmont. The radiologist recommended a CT scan with dye, biopsy the bugger to make sure it’s not malignant, then cut it out. Get it all and it won’t come back. Ever. And life goes on.

The miracle? I know that I have a tumor growing in my chest because a young woman flew over a hill, barreled down a straight away and ran smack-dab in to the rear end of my car.

God is good. He’s carried me this far. I don’t believe for one minute that he intends to drop me now. But pray, prayer warriors, pray. Pray for me if you will. For God’s grace, for his protection and care, and that his will be done.

Am I okay? Absolutely. My family, friends and church have stepped up and surrounded me with an outpouring of love and support.

I believe that nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. And that good always comes out of bad.

And guess what? Tumor or no tumor, I’m doing NaNoWriMo. Day Three and I have two thousand words written.


~ Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mormon Diaries by Sophia L. Stone

Last week I posted a review of Sophia L. Stone's Mormon Diaries over at my new site Blessed Are The Peace Makers. Many of you know and love Sophia. She's one of the first people I met when I ventured out in to the blogosphere.

I love that her book was birthed from a collection of essays she wrote during the 2012 A to Z Blogging Challenge. Sophia's Mormon Diaries is a testament to what can happen when we get out of the way and let spirit move through us and tell our story.

Here is the first part of the review with a link at the end to read the rest:

"Have you ever been confronted with an idea contrary to your existence, a truth so enormous that it shakes the very foundation of your being? Or had a life-quaking moment when all your beliefs are shattered, and you’re left bereft, adrift in the million jagged pieces that used to be your world? 

Sophia L. Stone had one such occasion and in Mormon Diaries she shares her intimate struggle through a devastating crisis of faith, as well as the strength and support she discovered along her journey...Read on."
The direct links to both the Amazon and Barnes and Noble paperback and e-version are also included at the end of the article.

Congratulations, Sophia!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

BTW, I'm sure there will be a 2013 A to Z Challenge, so follow the link to participate next year.

Dr. Olivia J. Herrell is the author of Blessed Are The Peace Makers, the Blog, and is currently working on a Southern Fantasy trilogy of the same name.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Several of you expressed a concern about me closing down That Rebel. It occurred to me that I could post links over here (at least for a while) for my current articles so you can find your way to Blessed Are the Peace Makers.
Here is the beginning of today's post and a link to the rest.
I got it! This morning while walking by the lake with the geese and ducks, squirrels and assorted insects, the answer broke over me in the quiet, opening the door that stood between me and the rest of my book. 
“World build.”
To read the rest of the article, click here.
Happy Weekend, Olivia J. Herrell

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Time Has Come

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings." ~ 
from Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll 

It is time, my friends, to retire That Rebel, and now that it's here, my heart is heavy. I am saying goodbye to a dear friend.

Why today? It's my fifty-fifth birthday. And it seemed right. Something about that number feels powerful. Double nickels. Five five.

As a child, fifty-five was ancient. But I don't feel old. Just wise. And worn a bit thin around the edges, thank you Bilbo.

I celebrated. Got lots of calls, texts and Facebook birthday well-wishes, making me feel very loved and remembered. Thank you all. This evening I ate an enormous ribeye at Gabe's, followed by an obscenely delicious berry cobbler, warm with vanilla ice cream.

Can you say waddle?

Afterward, we listened to EG Kight and Lola Gully play some blues, R & B, a little funk and some soul in 100-degree temperatures, in spite of the evening hour. Then ended the evening with fireworks viewed from the air conditioned comfort of my home. Well. It was a backdoor window view, but still.

June 30, 2012. A day of moment. For me. For this blog. And for my new blog Blessed Are The Peace Makers.

So no, I'm not going away quietly in the night. I'm shifting focus. Or rather, gaining focus. I hope you'll stop by. I'll be on WordPress, rather than Blogger. But there's a Follow button at the top left of the page, and a 'subscribe by email' button on the right. If you're interested, I'd love to have you.

Thank you to each and every one of you: my readers, friends, family, countrymen, worldmates. Thank you to my writer friends and my commenters. I will not take That Rebel down. I couldn't. There is too much of me in here, too much of you.

Yeah. I'll leave the old girl up. For posterity.

Goodbye to That Rebel with a Blog. Hello to Blessed Are The Peace Makers.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

That Rebel Retiring

In a few more days I'll be retiring That Rebel with a Blog. Why?

Many reasons. First, and foremost, I have evolved over the last three years. That Rebel changed with me, yes. But I have reached a crossroads. Changing the name and revamping the look won't work. Not for me. Call me a wuss, but with today's political climate and freaky law changes, having a blog with the name 'rebel' in the title probably isn't a good idea.

So. I have a new blog that I'll be debuting this Saturday, June 30th.

Blessed Are The Peace Makers will be similar in format to That Rebel, but the emphasis will be on the birthing of a trilogy, not just life and writing in general. I will continue to rely heavily on creative nonfiction, sharing research snippets, fascinating historical characters and tidbits, plus any noteworthy writing shortcuts and resources I discover along the way.

Want to know more about Blessed Are The Peace Makers (The Blog)? Read on.

"Here you will read about an unconventional life: the life of a writer, a philosopher and a sage. You will get glimpses in to the world of a novelist, and likely be subjected to aha’s, scraped knees, triumphs and frustrations.
If you are fascinated, or even mildly interested, in metamorphosis and alchemy, join me on this journey. Be prepared for magic: the kind that occurs when ideas become words, words become stories, and stories beget dreams that overcome the nightmarish.
It is an epic journey, and one that must be undertaken in every lifetime.
This one will be ours. Come along for the ride. ~ Olivia J. Herrell
Thank you, to all my wonderful friends and followers. You each have a special place in my heart. Many of you have helped me become the writer I am today. Thank you for that. Thank you very much.

I'm not saying goodbye. 'Cause I'll be back again before we retire.

See you soon, Olivia J. Herrell

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lightning Crashes, Can You Feel It?

While researching the smell of lightning, I ran across a great Q & A by lightning expert Joe Dwyer on the NOVA website. Some of it got a little technical, but the article was fascinating and confirmed a few things that I'd been told over the years.

Things like: don't wash dishes or take a shower during an electrical storm. Don't swim during one, either.

And I now know what physical mechanism causes the sound of thunder, woohoo!

I hope you'll take a few minutes to click over and check out the NOVA article. Who knows, maybe one day it'll save a life .

~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. The embedding was disabled, but click to listen to Lightning Crashes, a poignant song by Live. This one's for Dastan Trant. May you live on and on.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Returning the Cinnamon

Yesterday, I went to lunch with my cousin/friend Shann. She arrived at the house and waited in the car. Bounding out the door, I greeted her and stepped to her open window.

Morning Sun Through Villa Rica Pines
We exchanged compliments, each finding something worth a shout-out, the norm between us two. Then she followed hers up with an "I'm so glad you're back here, and that you're my friend!"

To which I heartily agreed, "And I return the cinnamon."

Giggling, I corrected. "Sentiment, I mean. I return the sentiment."

On the way to Phat Phil's (me in front, Shann following), I felt an enormous surge of love and connection. It was a perfect spring day in Northwest Georgia, sunny and warm, but not too hot. A perfect, low-humidity day.
Villa Rica Main Street at Sunset

We drove down North Avenue, past the site of the old hospital, now a parking lot for the new, past Junior Food Store, and through the 'projects' where family-friends had lived. With pride I noted it is still as well-kept as it was back then.

The Old VR Movie Theater, Now Cinema Tavern
On Old Town Road through Fullerville, past Shelia Saul's mama's house and the baseball park. I spent countless hours in both places as a girl - hanging out, sleeping over, inventing foods in the kitchen. In my mind's eye I see little usses jumping the ditch playing follow-the-leader. My mouth waters remembering green plums plucked from the tree.

By the time I made the outskirts of Villa Rica, I was bursting with it. It welled up inside, the "detached-me" experiencing awe and wonder, as those feelings tumbled out in a shouted, "I LOVE YOU, VILLA RICA!!!!"

What has changed? Everything. And yet nothing.

Bugsy, At Home in Villa Rica
Only me. Well, not so much me, as my mind. My mind has changed. I now see a place of beauty, love and community. I see a place where I belong, a place I want to belong. That is what has changed.

So. Villa Rica. Thank you for giving me a beautiful life, both then and now. I am home.

And this time, I can return the cinnamon.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

There Inside My Mind

For my sister, who's in New York City on vacation and saw Phantom on Broadway last night.

Cherry, this is for you!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Monday, April 30, 2012

Better Left to Chance

Tonight I mourn.

In the relationship game of life, I am batting a thousand. Yes. Yes I am.

In the World of Olivia there seem to be two constants. One is change. The other is me on the tail end of a relationship gone awry. You would think a smart girl like moi would figure it out. Get it right.

So far, I have not.


I know what love feels like. I know my heart. I know me.

I know in hindsight that I had no business even thinking about embarking on a relationship with a man, much less doing it. I was looking for fun, not serious. Did I not say that in my profile? Yes. Yes I did. And I meant it.

So how did I let myself get sidetracked? Why did I toss my wish to have fun, in favor of the 'fall in love, get married and have kids' scenario? Did I tell you that I am fifty-four, soon fifty five?

The sign was there, even in the beginning. The Stop, This Is All Wrong sign. Did I notice? Yes. Did I pay attention? No. I let myself be swept along by the possibilities, by the fleeting magic of a dream awakened. It's quite intoxicating, that dream. But, as is the way with dreams, consciousness returns upon awakening.

And life is life. And what is, is.

My heart hurts and my eyes leak tears.Yet my words seem void of emotion. How can that be?

Tonight I mourn.

For the man. For the dream.

For the dance.

The dance - garth brooks by rawestern

Thank you, JP. For the dance.

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcome to Student Loan Hell

This blog was birthed in anger: anger at being duped by someone supposedly out to help me. It evolved in to something much more: a place where I could write and share my words, thoughts and feelings with others. My experience, strength and hope, we say in AA. It became a vehicle and evidence of my growth as a writer, as a scribe.

Today, I am angry again. Once more, That Rebel becomes a platform. Today, the lizard brain dragon is tamed, nay friended. Today, That Rebel comes out.

I am an American. I am a doctor. I owe $263,000 in student loan debt that started out as $90,000 in 1998 when I graduated from chiropractic college. At that time the interest rate was 8 1/4%. My $90,000 has been locked in at that usurious rate for the last 14 years.

Never mind the prevailing rate dropped as low as 1 1/4% during that time. I was locked in with no way out, forbidden to refinance at a lower rate. Or so the agencies told me.

Now, today, of the balance "owed" two-thirds of it is usurious interest, funny money on some banking institution's books.

There is no provision for bankrupting/forgiving student loan debt, not since before I incurred mine, anyway. I can understand taxes being unforgivable. But bank loans? Usurious interest? Why are all other loans forgivable and not these? Is that even constitutional?

It took six years in business before I made enough as a doctor to begin paying on my student loan. By then, the $90,000 had soared to $160,000 and my payments were $1200 a month.

The following year, the recession struck my town in California. My income was slashed in half, my expenses were not. I could no longer pay. My step-father died. My mother died.

The economy tanked. I lost everything and came home to Georgia to start over. To try again. That was at the end of 2009. It's now 2012 and I am almost self-supporting, almost able to pay my bills without assistance from friends or relatives. My adjusted gross income for 2011 was $1200. Yes, that is twelve hundred measly dollars for a whole year of work. But I continue in my quest to help people get better, get well.

To think of me, and people like me as stupid and irresponsible, is the same as saying it is the fault of the sixteen year-old when a twentysomething date-rapes her at a party.

I did not consent at age sixteen, and I do not consent at age fifty-five.

Am I stupid for believing in people, and in myself? For trusting? Was I stupid for believing I could make a difference in the world and pay back a ridiculously high student loan that I received no counseling for before the fact?

Maybe. But I still believe. I still trust.

Am I irresponsible? No. I have worked within the unjust, lose/lose student loan system, done everything allowable and within my power to keep my head above water, to survive. I am not in default. But I am unable to pay. Not now. Maybe, with this dreadful economy, not never.

Until then, I have a dream. I have a dream that someone will rise up and take on the system: as undemocratic, unfair, usurious, and even unconstitutional. Then the rest of us, the ones who have hovered on the fringes for too long, will regain our sense of compassion, our understanding, our truth.

We will befriend and train our dragons one by one. And we will add our voices to the fray.

Because this one matters.

It matters to me.

~ the Voice of That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Passing It On: Thanks For Your Time

My sister forwarded this to me the other day. It is another of those unsigned, anonymous messages that waft around the E-verse. I don't get them often anymore, I guess most people on my mailing list have taken to conversing on Facebook walls.

My sister is second to few in my heart and she is slow to forward things. So when she does, I pay attention.

This one had me in tears.

"Thanks for your time."

A young man learns what's most important in life from the guy next door.

Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

"Jack, did you hear me?"

"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said...

"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.

"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.

"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said.

"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important. Mom, I'll be there for the funeral," Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture. Jack stopped suddenly...

"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.

"The box is gone," he said

"What box?" Mom asked.

"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value most,'" Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read. Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. "Mr. Harold Belser" it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside.

"Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life." A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:

"Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser."

"The thing he valued most was... my time"

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. "Why?" Janet, his assistant asked.

"I need some time to spend with my son," he said.

"Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!"

Think about this. You may not realize it, but it's 100% true.

1. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way..

2 A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.

3 Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

4.. You mean the world to someone.

5. If not for you, someone may not be living.

6. You are special and unique.

7. When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won't get it, but if you trust God to do what's best, and wait on His time, sooner or later, you will get it or something better.

8. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good can still come from it.

9. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.

10. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.

11.. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.

12 . Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know and you'll both be happy .

13. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.

To all of you, who walk this path with me:

Thank you for your time.

You mean more to me than you'll ever know.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, April 6, 2012

Another Blackberry Winter

Last evening on the drive home, I noticed a patch of what looked like blackberries blooming. Being in tune with that sort of thing, I reasoned that they must be wild roses. There was only the one clump, you see. No other blackberries were blooming. And we'd had no cold nights yet, either. No, what we southerners call, blackberry winter.

The sighting did prompt me to consult the forecast when I got home. Lo and behold, the next day (now today) was to be much chillier, with a high in the sixties and low in the forties.

How was it that little clump of blackberry bushes knew, a day before colder weather would arrive, that it was coming? How did it know that it was time to bloom, before all the others?

Southern Sky, April 2012
Today I woke to a cloudy, cool day, one that saw me dressed in three-quarter sleeves, rather than sleeveless, and in sneakers rather than sandals. It was a glorious day, with a sky full of plump, juicy clouds that smelled of rain and formed battle lines across the horizon in every direction I turned, punctuated here and there by slashes of robin's egg blue.

I ventured along a different stretch of highway, this time heading east, rather than north. Still within the city limits, I spied them: brambles of blackberries in full bloom. Driving for miles, they graced both sides of the road, whole fields and power lines full of rambling white mounds, these lovely flowers that only yesterday weren't blooming, and in a few months will feed the critters and the birds.

Blackberries in Bloom Along the Highway, April 2012
Such are the mysteries of life, those things that convince me there is a God. Call it Higher Power, Jehovah, God, Allah. Call it what you would. But I can't help but think that He/She Almighty has a hand in the proverbial pot.

Happy Rebirth, Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

To Chuck Lorrre

Last night at the end of Two and a Half Men, Chuck's vanity card flashed on cue. Struck by it's brevity, I hit rewind, then pause, to read what he'd written. This is what the card said:
All you have to do is to write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. ~ Ernest Hemingway

I am so tired. ~ Chuck Lorre
CL Productions, #381

First off, this tied in so well with the post I had written only hours before that I had to take notice. My friend, Roland Yeomans, had passed this tidbit of Hemingway's along to me a while back when I needed to hear it. It's the reason I wrote those stumbling words last night. To. Just. Write. Something.

But Chuck. Hang in there, man. I love your shows. You make me laugh. And that is something that is sorely lacking in my life, hell, probably most of our lives these days. Hang in there.

Your words touched me, made me sad.

Don't give up. Don't give in.

"I am so tired," are the words my friend Gail uttered in despair as she lost her battle with cancer. They're the same words my mother spoke, not only on her death bed, but months before after my step-father died.

Whatever it is that has you down, Chuck, kick its ass. Or his, hers, or theirs.

But stay with us, Chuck. You are needed.

Just saying.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. Elliot, thanks!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Chuck Lorre (born Charles Michael Levine October 18, 1952)[2] is an American writer, director, producer and composer who has created many American sitcoms, including Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory. Lorre also served as an executive producer of the sitcom Roseanne, and currently serves as an executive producer for CBS's Mike & Molly.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cranking Up the Rusty Writing Motor

God I want to write a blog post.

A sentence.


So here's my anything.

Just to get started.

Till tomorrow.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, March 2, 2012

New Office, Old Body

The ghosts are gone, the floors are 'waxed' and tomorrow we move my office to the new house. As of Monday I will officially be working where I live and I find that incredibly mahhhvelous!

Here's a view of the house/home/office:

A view of the waiting room, almost (but not quite) finished:

We've since added a repurposed coffee table and I 'waxed' the floor with Orange something or another that worked pretty darn well.

And OH YEAH!! I'm back down to my California weight. I have shed the thirty-five pounds I gained during that awful, awful first year back. (Ugh, really. Thirty-five pounds!) Big pat on the back, Olivia!

Now that the crunch is nearly over to get the office ready AND I am no longer limiting calories, the countdown has begun for BEACH TIME! Seven days and counting.

Happy Friday Y'all! Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ghost Got Your Tongue?

Hello Rebels,

Long time, no see. I moved a week ago and still don't have DSL, though not through lack of trying. I haven't written in that length of time either, presumably for the same reason. Not even on my manuscript.

Never mind I moved in to a haunted house. Which contributed in no small part to the difficulties I've had this last week. A quick trip to see Brian (my therapist who sees dead people) yesterday confirmed what I already knew. One of them had latched on and was taking me for a ride. Bye-bye sucka.

This morning I realized that though she was gone, her husband was still here. He was easier and left when I told him to. The house feels much better, but there is still some residual ickiness. Brian is coming by here tomorrow to clear out any stragglers.

I will spare you the list of what has gone wrong this week, besides the DSL. Suffice it to say that I'll be happy to see the ne'er-do-well's gone. I'm looking forward to settling in and making this house a home, sans ghosts who disagree with the modern lifestyle.

Happy Weekend, Olivia J. Herrell

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Long Ago and Not So Far Away

Passionate research fuels storytelling. It can also remind us that some history should never be forgotten, lest it be repeated.

From Wikipedia:
"The Roman proconsul and general Julius Caesar pushed his army into Gaul in 58 BC, on the pretext of assisting Rome's Gaullish allies against the migrating Helvetii. With the help of various Gallic tribes (for example, the Aedui) he managed to conquer nearly all of Gaul...

As many as a million people (probably 1 in 5 of the Gauls) died, another million were enslaved, 300 tribes were subjugated and 800 cities were destroyed during the Gallic Wars. The entire population of the city of Avaricum (Bourges) (40,000 in all) were slaughtered. During Julius Caesar's campaign against the Helvetii (present-day Switzerland) approximately 60% of the tribe was destroyed, and another 20% was taken into slavery."

Ancient Gaul and its tribes.

Gaul was no small country, either. It encompassed current-day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine.

Yet Rome, under Julius Caesar brought Gaul to her knees in 58BC. They annihilated twenty percent of the population and enslaved most of the rest. The Gaulic culture and languages, including that of the Celts, disappeared, replaced by Latin.

Hmm, I no longer find myself sad that Latin is dead.

And yet, history does repeat itself. In spite of these (and many other) glaring examples, we humans seem to have learned no lessons. Are we doomed to barbarism, no matter our evolution?

And did anyone else notice that Rome marched in to Gaul on the pretext of assisting their allies? Sound familiar?


More poking around turned up one reason Rome was so pissed off in the first place.

"In 387 B.C....the first Brennus...(of Gaul) sacked Rome and as the Romans were paying tribute to him, he noticed they were trying to slight him. It is said that Brennus threw his sword onto the pile saying "Vae Victus" (woe to the vanquished)..."
But still!

This last (also taken from rather delighted me, in that it reads like fantasy.
"Brennus then advanced across Greece, looting everything he could find. Disatisfied with the paltry loot, he decided to go on to Delphi which was reported as the treasure house of Greece. Without waiting for Kicharos, Brennus and his army of 40,000 set off to attack the temple of Apollo, the ultimate goal of his expedition.

Here it is said that Brennus was defeated by earthquakes, thunderbolts which reduced the soldiers to ashes, snow storms, showers of great stones, and "ancient heroes appearing from the heavens". It appears that after a long battle the Gauls were forced to retreat before they could reach the Delphic treasures."
Ahh. Now THAT I can sink my teeth in to.

Does anyone else feel as small and insignificant as I, when going back through time? Rome ruled "the world" for 2200+ years. America, only a tenth of that.

What are your thoughts on the barbaric past, and present, of the human race?

Updated November 2, 2017

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

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming AWEN trilogy, a rollicking fantasy set in 2042AD, that draws upon ancient, current, and future history. Book One, AWEN RISING, is complete and in query. The first draft of Book Two, AWEN STORM, is nearing completion, and Book Three, AWEN TIDE, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Deliver Me

The New Year has delivered me to my writing. The manuscript, notes and characters I put down almost a year ago have come to life. The excitement is back, and building. My bedroom, my writing space, is adorned with various and assorted items that inspire me: posters, art, photographs.

Can anyone tell me why my iPhone
pics keep reverting to sideways?
While at Fernbank Science Center the other day, I bought a dragon (because, yes, there will be dragons), and was gifted a poster of the oceans and seas (because I love maps and this is maybe the coolest one I've ever seen AND it inspires me).

Now that I am writing again, I seriously need a new chair. And writing gloves. My current chair was a $20 thrift store purchase last year. It has served its purpose, considering I haven't spent that many hours a day in it. However, my left butt cheek sits at an angle and is about an inch lower than my right.
Dude. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this can not possibly be helping a hip condition I wish to be rid of. Nor is it conducive to holding my head straight.

Vic Caswell suggested writing gloves. This house has no insulation and my crooked chair sits in a corner through which cold air seeps. Even with the heater at my knees and a blanket tucked behind me, my fingers get cold.

The rest is cake. I'm happy to be writing again, even cock-eyed. When I sat down at the first of 2012 and pieced together the already-written prologue, prophecy and main body of the story, I realized I had a substantial beginning.

But as with any muscle, the writing muscle is one you lose if you don't use. I literally have had to force myself to sit still in this lopsided rocker and write. But I perservere.

It is paying off. In the last three weeks I've added close to 10,000 words, upping total count to just shy of 18,000. Some nights the words flow. Other nights I edit. I am of the 'edit en route' variety of writer. It helps me with the flow, it helps me stay in character, and it keeps my butt in the chair.

Some nights I can't write at all, but my butt is in the chair to watch my television shows on Or to read.

Whatever it takes, I am telling this story. I'm doing it. And the only way that'll happen is by keeping my butt in this chair and my nose in the story.

~ ONWARD ~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. As usual, I searched for a song somehow related to my topic. Here is Sarah Brightman and a wonderful cast singing Deliver Me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

You Little Ol' Busker, You

I came across a "new" word the other day: busking.

According to Wikipedia:
"Street performance or busking is the practice of performing in public places, for gratuities, which are generally in the form of money and edibles. People engaging in this practice are called street performers, buskers, street musicians, minstrels, or troubadours."
From the root word, buscar, meaning "to seek":
"Up until the 20th century buskers were commonly called minstrels in America, Europe and other English-speaking lands...The word "busk" comes from the Spanish root word "buscar", meaning "to seek" – buskers are literally seeking fame and fortune..."
And more from Wiki:
Folk music has always been an important part of the busking scene. Cafe, restaurant, bar and pub busking is a mainstay of this art form. Two of the more famous folk singers are Woody Guthrie and Joan Baez.
The delta bluesmen were mostly itinerant musicians emanating from the Mississippi Delta region of the USA around the early 1940s and on. B.B. King is one famous example who came from these roots.
Now there's Cyber Busking:
"In the first decade of the 21st century, some performers have begun "Cyber Busking". Artists post work or performances on the Internet for people to download or "stream" and if people like it they make a donation using PayPal."

Happy Busking, Olivia J. Herrell

And for my fellow blues and guitar lovers, here's a priceless video of the late, great Gary Moore and BB King swapping licks like, well, go see for yourself.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Frankie's Third Annual No Kiss Blogfest

This year my entry to Frankie's No Kiss Blogfest is an excerpt from the prologue of my newest work-in-process, Blessed Are The Peace Makers.
"The mail creaked and Awen grunted as she drew it from the prince's broad chest and arms. Shoving it aside, she summoned all her strength to drag him from the water. From the depths of slumber, William cried out. Awen probed his chest and shoulder for wounds, then wrapped her arms behind him to inspect his back. Her ear rested over his heart, listening for the beat of life. It was faint, but present.
The wounds had closed, save those that kept him from waking. She leaned in to confirm that he was breathing, and felt a light stirring on her cheek. It was present. She turned her face back and her lips barely grazed his.
Steel eyes flew open, startling her. Recovering, Awen’s face blossomed in welcome.
The eyes flickered, staring without seeing, then just as abruptly closed. His body was waking but his spirit still wandered.
Awen touched her lips to his cold, white ones. The eyes fluttered. She put her hands on both sides of the handsome face and slowly kissed him in the way of the druid. Forehead, nose, chin, cheeks. Then his eyelids and his temples. Finally, her lips came back to his. This time they were warm, and breath tumbled out of them like the water from the rocks.
Awen waited, her face only inches from the fallen warrior’s.
His eyes fluttered open. Sight was returning. He almost focused, then fell back under, the death sleep unrelenting.
Awen sat back on her heels and looked in to the forest. The glade had darkened. The light was waning. It was time to set a fire and a kettle. But first she must wake the almost dead."
Please leave a comment to let me know what you think of my little snippet. I'm counting on the Blogfest to inspire me onward. It's time to get onward with the business of writing, past time to get this story down for others to read. Oh yeah, and don't forget to click over now to read the other entries.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

So Long 2011, Hello 2012

If you're looking for a fun way to meet some cool writers, start 2012 with Frankie's Third Annual No Kiss Blogfest on January 2nd. Click on over to join in.

What a difference a year makes. This time last year I was blogging and writing on a regular basis after climbing out of a pit of depression. My Goodbye 2010 post had 25 comments. This year's had two, other than mine. Not that I'm counting. But it is a good indicator of what kind of blogger/friend/writer I've been this year. A sucky one at best.

For 2012, I pledge to do better, to get back out there, heart and soul. No guts, no glory, right?
2011 turned out to be a year for healing. 2012 is my year for charging forward.


Happy New Year, Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. And don't forget the No Kiss Blogfest. Here was my entry for 2011, an excerpt from my first work-in-process Churches, Chickens and ChiChi's:
It was dark when Sammy stepped from the Boeing 767 at the gate in Atlanta. She was glad she’d told her father not to pick her up, she wanted him at the hospital with her mother. She needed the drive to Gainesville to gather her wits. She had slept a bit on the plane, just enough to ease the hangover from the night before. Of course, the two Bloody Mary’s had helped.
She was still angry at J.C. And even angrier at herself. There was thinking to be done, decisions to be made and a huge mess to clean up. But right now, the main thing was Mama.
Fighting the tears that threatened again, Sammy shook them off and threw a brilliant smile at the man who had just deplaned. Tall and lanky with broad shoulders, dark hair and flashing eyes, he was exactly what her bruised ego needed. He looked crisp and fresh in black-on-black Armani, in spite of the five-hour flight across the country.
"Cherie,” he grinned, “you here for long?”
“Don’t know,” she replied, tossing silken hair from a pixie face that held sad, green eyes.

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

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

“I’ve got it, thanks,” she flashed another of those almost-famous smiles. “You changing planes? Coming home?” The report of her stiletto heels rang through the concourse, blending with the symphony of Hartsfield. One PA announced an arriving Delta flight, another, a last boarding call.

Lanky paced her, smitten. She knew that look.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Just one?” his breath tickled her ear.

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

“Ah, mademoiselle, my heart breaks.”

“We have now arrived at Concourse B. Please step away from the entrance. The doors are about to open.”

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

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

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

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

“Bye,” she whispered.
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