Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Busted. No No NaNo.

Hi All, this is an article I wrote for the Relentless Writers' blog earlier this month.

Go ahead, Olivia. Admit it. @NaNoWriMo’s a bust. Today is Day Five and already you are four days behind.

The problem? I can’t seem to summon the oomph to take the leap forward, to write the second half of Book Two until Book One rewrites are complete.


This was NOT the plan, but the more I lean in to the (overly-optimistic) @NaNoWriMo plan – to complete beta edits/rewrites on Book One, then pound out the second half of Book Two – the harder it is to comply. Hell. The harder it is to even get NEAR my laptop. And the more frightening the scope of my story becomes.

What to do? What to do? Click here to find out what I did!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Slacker? NOT!

I know, I know. I haven't been here lately. In fact, not in a very long time.

But I'm here now and I only have a few minutes because it's late and I've spent the better part of the weekend revising BLESSED ARE THE PEACE MAKERS, COMING HOME. Editing. Rewriting. Adding needed touches here and there. Plugging in proper names for pronouns.

Giving Emily Hester, our main character, more power. Adding fore-knowledge, prescience. Introducing druids sooner. And dragons. And Brian. Setting up a first-chapter confrontation with the antagonist, bringing some events forward, emphasizing others, supplying ties where lacking and clarifying foggy passages.

So much to be done in so little time.

It occurred to me yesterday that I have only seven more writing days in which to complete this beta revision, the revision that will render my manuscript complete (please, please, please), preferably at ninety-eight to ninety-nine thousand words.

Right now, it's back up to one-hundred-and-one-thousand words, with edits complete through Page 159 (out of 404ish). Booyah!

Will I make it? Anything's possible. With five writing days left, I need only to make it through fifty pages on each of those days to achieve my goal.

Then #NaNoWriMo starts in November and I will write the last half of BOOK TWO!

All blessings, well wishes and prayers are welcome. Whether you are friend or family and feeling slighted by my silence, please know that I love you and that OJ's nose is to the grindstone, busy at the day-job and when not there, writing BLESSED ARE THE PEACE MAKERS.

I do plan to take the month of December off (from writing, not the day job) to visit friends in Southern California and to read some of the books on my TBR list, most recently-published by fellow Relentless Writer's authors, and Blogger and Facebook friends.

See you around, Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I Made a Desk, Now What?

"I made a desk
Or rather
A desk made me.
While toying
Wrestling ideas
Wrangling plots
Swirling the story
Letting it
New patterns
And possibilities
The mundane
Emptied me
Step by step
I trickled aside
And let
The story
In to place.
I made a desk
Or rather
A desk made me." ~ Olivia J. Herrell

My New Sauder Desk

Thank you, Charlotte Levine Gruber*. Thank you for reading Blessed Are the Peace Makers to the end, all ninety-nine thousand, seven hundred and forty eight words. You are my hero.

Thank you for liking the story, characters, flow.

You were kind. And excited. And honest. As my first beta reader, you rocked it.

Thank you.

As a result of your much-needed input I have a prologue to absorb, characters to assimilate, others to flesh out, conflicts to stir, gaps to fill, future-tones to invoke, lines to draw, motives to manage.

Time for rewrite.

Pausing to let the “aha” break over me, I laugh just a little. I now understand first-hand the importance of a second reader. Someone not the author. What was clear to me as I wrote, wasn’t so crystal to my reader. Huh. Imagine that.

Thank you Charlotte*.

Revised scenarios play in my head and after back-aching hours, I have a desk, complete with drawer and two cubbys.

Today I made a desk, and in the doing, the desk made me.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. In case you were curious, I did unplug on vacation to a limited extent, leaving the laptop at home and using the iPhone sparingly. Considering AT&T is my carrier and we tromped around Oregon, that wasn't difficult.

* Charlotte Levine Gruber is the author of CODE OF SILENCE. Click here to read more.

Friday, August 7, 2015

To Unplug or Not to Unplug?

Old-Growth Forest Atop Cape Perpetua
In less than two weeks I embark on summer vacation beginning with an early morning trek to the airport, followed by a flight to Boise, Idaho, via Minneapolis, Minnesota. After three days with family I haven’t seen in way too long, two of us will hop in the car and drive nine hours to the Oregon coast for five much-needed days at the beach.

I am so ready.

Not long ago I saw something on Facebook that piqued my interest and as the time nears, I find myself wondering what it would be like to use this vacation as an opportunity to unplug. To disconnect. To completely remove myself from the internet. For nine whole days.

Cape Perpetua Oregon Coast 
I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to fathom or to remember the last time I went a day offline, much less nine. I’m talking no email, no social media, no blog, no Pandora, no Trip Advisor, no Farlex Dictionary, no calendar, no GPS, NADA! For nine days my smartphone would play dumb. In fact, I might even turn it off completely. Wouldn’t THAT be 

Yes. It would. For me.

If camping (in nature) for a week, sans electronics, resets one’s circadian rhythm as the article sets forth, I’m inclined to believe that ditching my smartphone and computer will make a difference. (Even if we don't honor the sun in rising and retiring.)

It’s worth a try. If nothing else, I predict I will connect to the world in a whole different way. And that might be worth the inconvenience.

Bring it on.

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell


My holiday looms, less than a week until departure, and I’ve yet to choose a path. No Trip Adviser? How will we find restaurants, coffee shops, sights and attractions? No Facebook picture-posting? No GPS? No dictionary? NO EMAIL?? But Charlotte is sending her beta notes on Peace Makers while I'm gone. What to do, what to do...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Peace Makers in a Nutshell

As I mentioned a few days ago, I'm writing a blurb about the first installment of Peace Makers (Coming Home). Here is the current iteration:

AMERICA 2042CE: A down-and-out disaster specialist finds she’s the last of a long line of magical Druid priestesses carrying the bloodline of William the Conqueror. To make matters worse, she is expected to fill the shoes of her new father, the erstwhile Grand Druid whose coma is likely the result of foul play. Taught to run from adversity by a mother who carried the secret of her powers and heritage to an alcoholic grave, and faced with a foe known only as “The Darkness”, she must race the clock, cramming twenty-six years’ of training in to the short time left.

On the opposite coast her nemesis, a sorceress-turned-holy-woman, is targeted and tagged by the invisible foe: a race of Reptilian aliens residing in Earth’s interior. Placed there millennia ago and kept secret and apart from the Humans by a forgetfulness curse enforced by dragon guards, the Reptilians are determined to take control of the planet. Led by a nasty Draco general, they will use the evangelist and others like her to pit the humans against one another, leaving Earth ripe for the picking.

It's a bit wordy still, weighing in at 183 words, but this is the story in a nutshell. What do you think? Are you intrigued enough to buy an advance copy of the book?

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, July 31, 2015

The In-Between Time

I’m in limbo-land, manuscript out with betas, awaiting feedback and the resulting edits. Not yet ready to pick up Book Two and carry on, I have roughed-out a blurb, taken stabs at a pitch/hook, avoided writing a full summary (if I self-publish do I need one?) and gave myself permission to take time off, grant the muse a breather and turn the focus on life-things needing done.

4th of July Fireworks 2015
I have been productive. Piles are decimated, plants repotted, budget’s coming together, eye doc and dentist seen, along with the first season of NCIS, third of Death in Paradise and samplings of Tomorrow People, Code and Witches of East End (Julia Ormond!). Somewhere in the middle I attended a local writer’s workshop and updated That Rebel's look.

I also researched and found an old blog (my first), held hostage by Squarespace for the past nine years. Soon I will pay the price to unlock it, seventy dollars and what I suspect will be copious (though healing) tears. Within are not only articles about the first book I wrote, Frank and Ernie Find Home, but others written during my mother’s end-days.

Best of all? I’ve FINALLY chosen a nom de plume, the pen name under which I will publish Blessed Are The Peace Makers, and possibly the rest of my works. Now comes the process of “invention”, creating a persona and artist platform on social media, along with a schedule (and a commitment to it!) for posts.

I'll be announcing the nom de plume soon, stay tuned!

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Introducing VEXED by @AuthorWren Michaels

Hi Y'all, That Rebel just got a face-lift. As part of the new look, you'll be seeing more book releases, beginning with Wren Michaels' hot new romance VEXED. Released today, you'll find the order information at the end of the article. Get it hot off the presses!

Following is a Q & A with Wren, then keep reading for a juicy excerpt. (Ratings alert...R for sexy, steamy situations and some language.)

I give you Wren Michaels and VEXED:

Thanks for sharing in the release of my first full-length novel! I hope you enjoy reading about Kena and Luc as much as I enjoyed writing them. There's plenty of action, adventure, romance, and Vodou for everyone!


I did a little Q&A about the book:

Q) How did you dream up the dynamics of your characters? Originally the story was going to be completely different when I wrote the first 5000 words or so of the book. But after I came back from the 2014 Romantic Times convention in New Orleans, I was inspired to write something with a Vodou/NOLA flair. So the book took a twist and became so much more than I ever imagined. I wanted a strong heroine and an alpha male. But Luc ended up being more of an Alpha/Beta blend. He's not really one or the other. He's quite complex. Kena ended up being a witty heroine who took things into her own hands.

Q) Do you have any habits that get you in the writing frame of mind? Music is my biggest influence. I listened to mainly instrumental gaming soundtracks while writing. But one of my Critique Partners burned me a CD of music she thought would be perfect for this book, and it was filled with great songs by The Black Keys, Rolling Stones, Zepplin, Jack White and Muse. It ended up really making scenes come alive for me.


Q) How much real life do you put into or influences your books? In this book I tried to make the characters reflect their Vodou based deities. I did take some artistic liberties and spun a few things, but I did a lot of research to make sure a lot of the intricacies of their actual descriptions and quirks made it into the story. 
Vodou stole her life. A gay ghost stole her boots. And the man who stole her heart stole her memories. Kena plans to get it all back.

Ex-cop Kena's life is filled with regret, beer, and Cheetos. That is, until her ghostly roomie sends her dumpster diving, leading her to a sexy stranger named Luc and a fate she'd rather not remember. As Kena's memories resurface, so do her feelings for Luc, the man she's secretly been in love with for the last thousand years. And he needs her for more than a stroll down memory lane.

Vodou spirits, known as Loa, have been trapped in human form, and are trying to make their way back to the spirit world. But Luc's brother is possessed by a vengeance demon conjured at the hands of NOLA's crime syndicate kingpin. Saving him means damning herself to a spirit prison in a loveless, arranged union with the very man she's supposed to rescue. But not helping Luc's brother sentences him to death, leaving New Orleans in the hands of black magick, and losing Luc forever.


After stripping out of the wet clothes, I wrapped the towel around myself and wandered out to his room. On the bed lay a white long-sleeve button-down shirt. With a hard swallow, I dropped the towel and picked up the shirt, pulling it to my face. I took a long, hard sniff. Laundry detergent. Of course. Did I think it would smell like him?

Like he'd give you a dirty shirt to wear, Kena.

Thankful he didn't witness me in idiot-mode, I slid myself into the shirt and was caught mid-button when he knocked at the door.

“Are you decent?” He pushed the door open a crack.

“I'm clothed, if that's what you mean. Decent is debatable at the moment.” Purposely leaving the top three buttons undone, I worked my way to the bottom button as he walked in.

He halted mid-stride and looked at me. His chest rose and fell in quick spurts, training his eyes over me from head to toe. Veins traversed the length of his arm as he clenched his fists at his sides. “I don't wear underwear, so I apologize I have no bottoms. It's all I had that was long enough to cover you.” His position relaxed as he leaned against the mahogany armoire.

“Anything's better than cold, sopping-wet clothes.” I ran a finger through my hair, now slowly drying into loose stringy curls.

“So, are you going to tell me what happened tonight?” Folding his arms across his broad chest, bulging muscles stretched the navy-blue fabric barely covering his biceps.

I shook my head. “Not until I get some honesty from you, big guy.”

With a tilt of his head, he donned a sly grin. “You haven't asked the right questions.”

“Is this a game for you? Do you enjoy messing with people's lives? Do you get off on some fucked-up high being in total control?” My fingernails burrowed into the palm of my hand. Everything in me wanted to slap the shit out of him and then ride him like a cowboy.

He pushed off the dresser and walked over to me, lowering his head coming to a stop inches from my face. “You're the one in control and yet you refuse to acknowledge it. You refuse to let your mind accept it. Stop playing and start being.”

“What do you want from me?” I yelled, a little louder than intended.

“I want you to be you. I want you to”—he stopped and dropped his gaze to my lips, and then slowly made his way back up to my eyes—“come back.”

“Kiss me.” The words rushed from my lips without another thought. My heart hammered so hard in my chest I thought it would shatter my rib cage.

His breathing quickened. A low growl rumbled in his throat. “Don't do this to me, Kena.”

“Don't do what? You're the one doing things to me.” I slammed my hands against his chest and he sailed across the room, his back hitting the dresser behind him. “Shit! I'm sorry.” I reached out for him with a trembling hand.

Fuck, I’d done it again.

He shook his head and straightened himself up. In a blur of movement, he shot across the room and grabbed onto either side of my shirt, yanking me up to his face. “You want me to kiss you?”

“Yes,” I said in more of whooshing sound than a word.

He pressed his lips against my neck and his fingers curled into the fabric of the shirt, pulling me onto my tiptoes. “You don't even know who I am.”

“I don't care.” Words no longer made sense to me, only his touch spoke a language I could understand.

He laughed as he pushed me against the wall. Gripping the back of my head with the entire palm of his hand, he splayed the other across my cheek, his thumb resting against my jawline. Tilting my head back, he hovered his lips over mine. “You will.”

His lips crushed against my mouth.

With a sweep of his tongue, he devoured me into a kiss the likes of which I've never experienced before in my life. He punished my mouth with his tongue, sliding it over mine in a delicious dance of ecstasy and aggression. His hold on me was not that of violence, but of passion. The way his fingertips eased against my face, yet held me there as if he was scared to let go, revealed a vulnerability. He may be a man of few words who knew how to play the vague card, but his body and actions gave him away.

I arched into him, and he pinned me back against the wall with his hip. Clawing at his shirt, I ripped it out of his jeans and slid my fingers over his heated skin. A surge of energy rushed my fingertips as they glided along his body, electrifying me.

“Fuck, Kena,” he hissed, pulling back from the kiss.

In a movement so fast it blurred everything around me, he shot out the door, slamming it behind him. He left me gasping, clinging to the wall behind me just to remain standing.  My legs wobbled like Jell-O as I stumbled to the bed and collapsed. He sucked all the air from my body and replaced it with an ache, a driving need for more of him.

What the hell was he?


Wren Michaels hails from the frozen tundra of Wisconsin where beer and cheese are their own food groups. But a cowboy swept her off her feet and carried her away below the Mason-Dixon line, where she promptly lost all tolerance for snow and cold. They decided they'd make beautiful babies together and they got it right on the first try. Now Wren lives happily ever after in the real world and in the worlds of her making, where she creates book boyfriends for the masses to crave.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Beta's Baby!

It’s OFFICIAL! As of last night, the initial copy of Blessed Are The Peace Makers, Coming Home is in the hands of my first two beta readers. What are those? Writers (whose work I admire) that are kind enough to read through a fellow-writer’s manuscript to point out weaknesses, plot holes, areas needing clarity or improvement (or deletion), shout encouragement and the like.

Eric is already gearing up to run the manuscript through his handy-dandy program (that I must get my hands on for future works – I understand he’s releasing it online soon – for free!) that searches out to-be’s, gerunds, weasels (weasel words contradict or misinform) and other grammar no-no’s.

Am I dancing in the streets? Only a little. And only on the inside. Am I elated? Yes. And honored. A tad nervous. But on top of, and snaking through the jubilation, is an emptiness. A disorientation. Like a twirling top that’s lost its momentum and is wobbling, tottering, soon to tip over, roll around, and cease all forward motion. Until the next wind-up. Thank God for Books Two and Three.

Whipping Top clip artAnd in spite of the illusion, that feeling of suspended animation, life goes on. Next weekend I’ll attend a local writers’workshop; the price was right and it comes at a good time. Between now and then I will update and memorize my 25-word pitch (to practice when the opportunity presents itself) and compose a one-page summary of the manuscript (which is apparently easier-said than done). To my writer friends: is there anything else I need to prepare for the workshop?

Holy Smokes, is this feller fast or what? I just checked my inbox and Eric already shot back a…omg…really? A long list of those buggers I referred to above. Hmm. Looks like time to get cracking on revisions. Already. Yeehaaaa!

That Rebel ~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. A huge shout-out and thank you to Eric W. Trant, an author whose no-nonsense prose and generosity captured my attention several years ago. Full of gut-level honesty, something I achingly (there's one of those words) aspire to.

P.P.S. And another shout-out/thank you to Liv Rancourt, lead author (and whip-cracker, thank you, Liv!) for our Relentless Writers blog. I’m looking forward to reading her new short story.

P.P.S.S. I FINALLY (after how many years now?) downloaded Google Chrome because Blogger, as of my tries today, no longer works on Internet Explorer. And omg what a difference! What in the world was I waiting for?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Turn in the Road Less Traveled

My laptop, sweet, precious, ever-available sidekick, keeper of treasures, soother of my soul, my precious, my own, hit the floor today. Hard. At my unwitting hand. BAM! It happened so fast I’m not sure what did, only that my outstretched fingertips connected like a karate jab and it flew clatter bang to the hardwood floor, barely missing the soft, wool rug.

 “Oh no, your laptop,” my client cried.

 “Oh no, my laptop,” I echoed.

We looked at each other, eyes wide in shock, then I scurried around the desk thinking, “she’ll be okay, I know she will”, and scooped her up in a love-cuddle like a baby. She is, in a way. Only so much more.

Miraculously she’s still ticking. Prayerfully, she’ll continue for a long, long time. Or at least until we’ve had a few more years together.

Like this train of thought, my life has taken a right turn, one I knew was inevitable, but it frightens me nonetheless. The hip trouble that began three years ago after a rear-ender (while driving down a quiet street at the speed limit!) has escalated.

I can limp along (literally, though on good days it’s imperceptible), trying to avoid a hip replacement or I can get past the fear and do it now. This avoids further wear and tear to the surrounding and supported joints and, if I believe those who've already done it, will give me my life back.

So. Fear aside, it’s the logical thing to do.

Without quoting particulars, suffice it to say that I’ve done enough research to know the procedure and type of prosthesis best for me, which points me back to the Ortho I saw in December. He’s a great doc, I like and trust him, and one of his offices is ten miles from my house. The fact that he’s handsome has nothing to do with it. I promise.

That said, the recovery could take as long as six to twelve weeks (it’s my right/driving hip). As a single woman who owns her own business (meaning – no workie, no payie) that prospect is daunting, but God is good and I have no doubt he will provide. As always.

I’m proud of myself. Five months ago I was in denial, today my brain is slowly, but surely wrapping synapses around this. I'm thinking September - December, after my trip to Idaho and the Oregon coast.

In the meantime I’ll prepare, not only mentally and emotionally, but financially. That means saving money and moving ahead with a new venture, one I can do even laid up, recovering from surgery: get my photographs on stock websites for download/sale.

Like my affinity for words, I seem to be drawn to and have an eye for light, beauty and composition. Mostly I aim and click. And take lots of pictures. But the results, at times, are stunning.

I will close with a request. For good thoughts. Well-wishes. And prayers. For my laptop, the sweet, unassuming instrument that even now records my thoughts, and for me as photographer, writer and human being.

Thank you so much!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Uneasy Writer

It makes me nervous when people I know start dying. One’s bad enough, but so far today the count is three. The blues legend BB King who lived a long life, but will be missed by generations. Mark Johnson IIII, one of the marines that went down with the helicopter in Nepal, married to a distant cousin (of mine) with two little children, ages four and eighteen months. Now Elaine Dwyer, a sweet lady from my church.*

This engenders a streak of unease that runs through me like a snake exploring dark, tortuous tunnels and now that it’s exposed to the light, guilt creeps in for just feeling uneasy when the families must truly be suffering.

Clouds crowd together overhead as the wind blows past, impotent to make it rain. I want it to. I need it to, as much as the near-parched land. But it doesn’t.

~ Olivia J. Herrell
* Plus the eighty-five hundred dead and three thousand injured in the Nepalese quakes.

BB King (and guests) performing "You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone". Yes, BB, we sure will!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Works Every Time: Sit Down, Slit It Open, Spill It Out

Today is Saturday. I wrote this on Monday. It seems like weeks ago.

Today I realized I’m unhappy. Again.

Oh, not in my mind. There I’m happy. Or I think I am. I have plenty of evidence. I love my work. I enjoy my community and volunteering for the city. I have a church (for the first time in forty years.) My completed manuscript (first in nine years) is tucked away waiting to be reread with a fresh eye, and manuscript two is half written.

When I look at my behavior, or rather behaviors, plural, the signs are there. I won’t list them all, but I bet you’ll recognize a few. They include:
  • eating crap “food” including demon sugar
  • weight gain
  • shopping
  • moping
  • disinterest in outside activities
  • inability to exercise
  • running off to coffee shops, restaurants or other places to write
  • hours of Netflix
  • going to bed early
  • staring in to space (not the good, daydreaming kind)
  • avoiding decisions
  • running on auto-pilot
There are probably more, but these off-the-top-of-my-head ones are enough. I get the idea. Do you? 

What now? Figure out why?

Not necessarily.

I could distract myself, flesh out a profile on match dot com, find a man and ride that “new love” feeling for, well, maybe years. Or rent an apartment within walking distance of my favorite coffee shop/writing locale. That would open up space in the office for a couple of massage therapists, a nutritionist and/or some other cool "ist". Or I could bring in a doctor to share the practice, take care of patients when I’m away.
Any of these would bring activity. Break the boredom. Create happiness. If only temporary. But the truth is, I don’t know if I can be happy in West Georgia. I close my eyes, and I’m in Southern California, on a trail meandering through a scrub canyon, alone and safe, a half-mile from my complex and bustling traffic, with a smile that splits my face in two. All from pure joy. Of place.

I miss that. I miss it a lot.

So is my unhappiness place-related? I’m leaning toward yes. I have evidence.

The last I remember that kind of smile on my face, and my heart soaring, was a year ago. In Oregon, on a coast so wild as to never be tamed, in old-growth forests that march to the sea, along a ring of fire that will someday bring doom to us all.

There, I was happy. There, my heart soared. There, the smile remained plastered to my face. There, joy dwelt in my soul.

But, back to today, and my point.

If you are one of the many people that don’t know this secret, listen up.

Something wonderful happens when you put pen to paper, or fingertips to keys, and spill your blood and guts.

The subconscious is appeased. It’s had its say. And whatever the dilemma, you can always, ALWAYS get relief.
Once done with this process, I was able to return to manuscript two, stitching together the different voices into one fluid, (hopefully) flowing story. I cut the crap and sugar from my diet, including cola, got lots of sleep, and in spite of the fact that my day-job workload increased, and it was a crazy, bouncy, electrified-energy kind of week, I felt better and better each day.

Not only did I complete the edits today (through the last page written - 202), but I finished the related “God’s Eye View” spreadsheet, color-coded to keep the stories straight and evenly s/paced. It also ensures that one of the many (and egads, growing, number of) characters don’t stay silent, or hog the spotlight, for too long.

(Compressed to Protect Contents)
Instead of making a splash (splat?) on match dot com, or running off to spend a bunch of hard-earned cash on an apartment I don’t need, I cleaned up my food, walked around the neighborhood, cleaned the house, belly-laughed at an old comedy I discovered on Netflix (Out of Practice) and drank lots of home-brewed kombucha.
But mostly? I dove back in to writing. My true love. My precious. My own.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Momentous Moment

Awen Rays
After taking a week off from editing and writing (no it wasn’t a vacation, I still did my day job), I spent seven hours yesterday adding finishing touches to the manuscript. It’s so close to done. No, I haven’t turned it over to my first/alpha/beta readers yet. And yes, you’ve heard “I’m close” before. But that was wishful-thinking me. This is happy-reader me.

With one caveat.

According to the big boys, the two I listen to most when it comes to writing (because my personal process and preferences mirror theirs and I respect them as prolific, profound and prosperous writers), this is the point (before letting anyone else read it) I should stick the manuscript in a drawer and walk away from it for a month. A whole flipping month. Or in my case, let it sit on my laptop. Untouched. For a month.

Then, and not until then, I get to break it out, dust it off, brew a big pot of yerba mate or some other delectable tea and read it from cover to cover. If reader-me is satisfied, meaning there are no plot holes and things are tied up nicely at the end, I can consider turning it over to my beta readers. Otherwise, it’s back for another rewrite.

So. I just solved my own dilemma. I really, really want someone else to read it. Now. Not tomorrow. I want to see if I’m the only one who thinks this story is pretty special. My readers are standing by.
But I will wait. I will listen to Stephen King and Papa Hemingway. I’ll let it sit. And I’ll wait the requisite month before rereading it, God bless it.

But not until I fix one last little thing. Then somewhere around this time next month, mid-May, I’ll set aside a whole day to read the complete manuscript. I’m already looking forward to it.
Here’s to May!

~ Olivia J. Herrell
P.S. I’ll still be sticking to my twenty-four-hour-a-week writing schedule. Next up: finish Book Two!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

La La Land Redux

Danger, Plot Hole Ahead

I hit another plot hole today while clocking along editing, enjoying the story and character-development, then BAM! I’m in La La Land. And not totally sure of the culprit.

Part is timing. I cut and spliced an event forward, now I’ve run in to a chapter in which the characters have forgotten they’ve already been through all this. GAH.

Told ya!
Time to edit deep and edit hard and though I’m two and a quarter hours short of my weekly writing goal (of twenty-four hours), I’m calling it quits. The week starts over tomorrow.

Right now I’m on Page 237, shooting for 300 by the end of the week.

Rock on.

Looking Up -
Pics taken at Villa Rica Gold Museum

Thanks, Guys for talking me through a stuck place. Now it’s time to kill some darlings*. But not tonight.


On a related note, did I tell you I’m in a virtual writer’s group, one with a blog entitled RelentlessWriters?
It’s the same group of writers that helped me win NaNoWriMo 2014. You can find us at

Twenty-one writers (I believe that’s the last count) post articles three times a week on all things writing. I post one to two times a month. Click here to read my latest, also related to plot holes (aka La La Land), and click here to read the first one, in which I talk about why this writer-loner joined a group.

If you’re a writer, or not, and like what you see over there, give us a follow and check back weekly.

~ Olivia J. Herrell
*killing darlings = cutting extraneous wordage

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Madness and Laying It on the Line

March Madness is here and to celebrate, I'm dumping. No skatoles, or basketballs, I promise. Just important information that's rattling around my head.

1)      Edits are moving forward on Blessed Are The Peace Makers – Coming Home (that's what I'm calling Book One for now). As of last night it's about one-third complete.

2)      Book Two (yet untitled) still percolates. Sitting at 52Kish it’s about half written.

3)      Recently, while soul-searching yet again, this time questioning my literary dedication, not just to writing, but to seeing my works complete and out there for others to read, I came to a realization. All I need are three things - commitment, a plan, and time to do it.

4)      So I committed. I will spend at least 24 hours a week editing, writing, doing research, whatever it takes to bring these books** to publication and distribution.

5)      In 1994, I gave up a good-paying career to be a full-time chiropractic student. At 31 hours a week butt-in-class, plus countless more spent memorizing every bone, muscle, tendon, ligament, organ, system, medical term/history/failure, microbiology, macrobiology, histology, x-ray techniques and interpretation, adjusting techniques, anatomy, physiology, the-list-goes-on-and-onomy, I knew chunks of my time would have to be reallocated. Though the decision was difficult, I gave up television and the daily newspaper, graduated summa-cum-laude four years later, and never looked back. (Well maybe there was an occasional Seinfeld or Friends episode.)

6)      During this current existential exploration, it occurs to me that my situation today is not dissimilar to 1994, and in order to pay my bills AND bring these works to distribution, it would be logical (thank you, Spock) to repeat those success behaviors. SO...

Goodbye dear Spock, RIP Leonard Nimoy

7)      I must choose again - with heavy heart. After work (because I ditched cable years ago), rather than melting in front of mindless Netflix reruns and HuluPlus commercials, I will turn to my manuscript. Or blog. Or read your blogs. Or research. The pursuits that feed my writer-soul and move my works to fruition.

8)      Yes! You heard it here. I said it out loud. This evening recliner-slug is selling her recliners and giving up HuluPlus (goodbye insufferable commercials) and Netflix in favor of her literary aspirations. No, I haven’t cancelled them yet (the decision is fresh), but I will. This week. Before my paid-month runs out.

9)      You may also see less of me on Facebook. Or more. Depending on how a side-project* shapes up.

10)    And finally, a big shout-out to Andrew T. Post (one of my earliest Blogger buddy/writer friends). for mentioning on Facebook his new practice of tracking his daily writing productivity. That fell on fertile ground and inspired me to do the same.

11)  Last week I began tracking my own productivity, at first by hand, which was satisfying, but I kept having to dig for the infernal notebook, and once beside my laptop it became a coaster, collecting spilled crumbs and tea stains.

11)   This week I started an Excel spreadsheet. It’s even more satisfying, and ever-handy. You'll likely be hearing more about it.

12)  All this fueled both forward-motion and a sharper focus on the prize, plus it's given me concrete and useful data on my progress. For instance, this week I’ve invested 19 1/2  hours completing edits on five chapters (totaling thirty-three pages) and cutting 788 unnecessary words.

Is it working? Feels like it. Time will tell.

That’s good enough for me.

 ~ Olivia J. Herrell

*I’m toying with revamping or rebranding (or both) That Rebel, focusing more on issues we face on a day-to-day basis, similar to many past posts: social and cultural anthropological issues as relates to life through my particular lens/voice).

**Not just the Peace Makers trilogy, but also the abandoned women’s-fic novella Churches, Chickens and Chi-Chi’s and children’s book series Frank & Ernie Find Home.
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