Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

I'd like to say good riddance. But it wasn't the year's fault. All in all, it was an extremely educational year. I know more. I've let go of more.

I've found more.

Goodbye to depression. Junk food. Ice cream. Sugar. And, oh dear lord, goodbye to Coca-Cola and all its relatives.

Goodbye lethargy. Goodbye lack of motivation. Goodbye wallowing. Goodbye fatigue. Goodbye to sleeping nine-ten hours a day.

Goodbye slouchy chair. Goodbye having no money. Goodbye doing without.

Goodbye to feeling awful. Finally.

So in these last few minutes of 2010's lifebreath, I raise my glass.

I toast you 2010.

Here's to the year that launched my writing career, brought me many new friends, gave me back the home I never thought I wanted, and the family I didn't think I had.

Thank you 2010.

For reunions. For sister cousins. For coming home. And for bringing my brother home.

Thank you for unveiling my voice.

And now, five minutes before midnight, I bid you adieu. And will see you, on the morrow, in 2011.

Happy New Year, Olivia J. Herrell

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yay Me!

I finally, finally, finally updated the look of my blog. Whaddya think?

Yeah. It's green. I haven't got the shade quite right. Not yet, anyway. It's so close, but...(Yes, that was a shameless plug for my friend, Elliot Grace, whose breakout novel South of Charm will be out in 2011. To read more about it, click on the cover in the right sidebar.

More to come. New things are afoot for 2011.

Happy Early New Year!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Little Ol' Quixote Me

Having eaten at plenty of Chinese restaurants over the years, and being an avid reader of anything with words on it, including placemats, I knew that my Chinese zodiac sign was the Rooster.

But it had never occurred to me that I am, indeed, very rooster-ish. I stumbled across a website yesterday: chingoracle.com. What I found was an eerily spot-on description of me:

"The Rooster is the Don Quixote of the Chinese cycle. It is the intrepid hero who needs to keep its feet firmly on the ground. In order to survive, it's the most eccentric and misunderstood of all the signs. From the outside, we see aggression and self-confidence but deep down, he or she is conservative and old-fashioned.

Those born in the Year of the Rooster, especially men, will be attractive, even really handsome. They are proud of their fine feathers and carry themselves well. You'll never see a listless Rooster. They are very dignified and even the most timid of the Rooster family will be elegant and will be noticed wherever he or she goes.

There are different types of Rooster: chatty ones (me) and solemn observers. It's difficult to deal with both. (Ouch!) The Rooster has many noticeable qualities and is shrewd, attractive, precise, organized, decisive, honest, on the ball and very frank. But he or she can also be brutally critical. Never ask a Rooster for his or her honest opinion as you may never get over the trauma! (Me? Never!)

Roosters love discussing and debating (to show just how intelligent they are) and sometimes don't respect others as they ought to. (Guilty.) When someone ruffles the Rooster's feathers, he or she becomes intolerable. Roosters are not cut out for diplomacy, so situations which demand tact, delicacy and discretion are difficult for them. They go around trying to convince others to think their way, with the zeal of a missionary. (Ouch, ouch, and triple ouch.)

A showy type, the Rooster loves being the center of attention (coughcough). He or she has an imposing personality and could work in a career in the public eye. Cheerful, lively and amusing, the magnificent Rooster never misses a chance to list his adventures and feats.


Looney Tunes (In)famous Foghorn Leghorn
Eloquent, Roosters have good verbal and written communication skills and are prepared to talk on any topic. If you want to challenge the Rooster to discuss a controversial topic, be ready for a long, hard battle: the Rooster is extraordinarily resistant."

Oh. My. God. Well, if nothing else, it's food for thought as I look back at 2010 and forward to 2011. Thank you to Andrew Rosenberg at The WriteRunner for getting the ball rolling in that direction. And thank you to chingoracle.com for dangling my idiosynchrosies in front of me.

As for 2011, the first six months I'll be focusing on poundage: letting go of 35 pounds and pounding out a 110,000 word manuscript. That's about 1 1/2 pounds a week and 600 words a day, both doable. Then, as a birthday present to myself on June 30th, I will be 35 pounds lighter and hold the first draft to my new bestseller!

What are you looking forward to in 2011?

"Every single life only becomes great when the individual sets upon a goal or goals which they really believe in, which they can really commit themselves to, which they can put their whole heart and soul into." ~ Brian Tracy

Here's to a brand new year, one in which we all get a little closer to that big brass ring.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Public domain images courtesy of bing.com.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Card

It's been a day of making candy,
Hanging out with furry,
Four-legged beasts,
And listening to old Christmas favorites.

Now I'm off to bed
To await Santa's tread
With visions of pralines
Dancing in my head.

Merry Christmas.
Peace on Earth
Silent night.
Holy child.

May you be surrounded
By all you hold dear,
And may you hold dear
All that which surrounds you.

Merry Christmas 2010.



I'm predicting (and hoping for) a white Christmas. Intellicast says there is a chance of snow for the Atlanta area. Happy Christmas to each and every one of you, whether you celebrate of not.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Gifts We Lay

Last year I picked up a $5 Christmas CD while shopping at Kohl's. The proceeds went to charity and I needed some new tunes. Last week I finally listened to it.

First time through, I was a mite annoyed. The songs were different.

Second time through, I recognized voices.

The third time, I listened with a different ear. Turns out, it's a fabulous rock/bluesy Christmas CD, the perfect addition to my library.

Track one is my favorite: Rob Thomas singing "A New York City Christmas'. Every word is poignant. Each note, pleading.



His words stopped me. They made me wonder.

"...Yeah I'm sending you a Merry New York Christmas
And a prayer for peace on earth
Within our time
Oh, the sidewalk angels echo hallelujah
And we understand them
Now more than ever..."


And we understand them? Really? I never stopped to do that. I never tried to understand them. Not the sidewalk angels. Nor the others, either.

I remember feeling unsafe in the days following 9/11. More than once, I imagined myself cowering in a closet, bombs exploding in my back yard, the 'enemy' advancing on my neighborhood. I felt what that must feel like. What too many feel every day.

Awful, awful, awful.

Now, digging deep, I find a memory and dust it off. It's 1970. I'm in 7th grade. The teacher closes the blinds and hushes a darkened room full of expectant pre and barely-teens. Then the whirring begins as the 8mm film threads itself. Suddenly Stalin's armies burst on scene. Bombing Poland.

In black and white the shells whistled. Buildings exploded. Unceasing. Relentless. Panzers rolling in to cities reduced to rubble, residents surely shaking in their shoes. If they had any left after the long, cruel 2nd world war.

It was supposed to be over. Their side, our side, had won. So why didn't the allied forces stop Stalin?

No one came. Not the English. Not the Americans. In spite of Poland's repeated and frenzied cries for help, the great nations looked away. Broken and battered, the Poles caved and Stalin installed a communist government in Warsaw. Wasn't that what our forebears had been fighting against all along?

I cried angry tears. Tears of anguish. Tears of shame. I was thirteen. Like the Poles I couldn't fathom why my country didn't help them. Then time marched on and I forgot what I didn't understand.

Fast forward forty years to 2010. To me, listening to Rob Thomas's Christmas song.

"...Call on your angels
Come down to the city
Crowd around the big tree
All you strangers who know me
Bring your compassion
Your understanding
Lord how we need it
On this New York City Christmas..."


Call me slow. But happy Christmas. I finally understand.

"...So call on your angels
Your beaten and broken
It's time that we mend them
So they don't fade with the season
Let our mercy be the gifts we lay
From Brooklyn to Broadway
And celebrate each and every day
This New York City Christmas."


My wish this holiday season
Is that we all find understanding.

That compassion guide us.

And that mercy be the gifts we lay.

Hallelujah.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

**Disclaimer: I am no expert on foreign affairs, or world wars, or he said/she said. I'm just reporting my own experience. No more.**

Rob Thomas video courtesy of youtube.com. Lyrics courtesy of lyrics007.com. Polish memory jogger courtesy of Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Christmas, War is Over

The other day I posted a video of Celtic Thunder performing the classic "Christmas of 1915". Would that we could create our own video, only this time sharing the news that war is truly over. Forever. Not just for one day on Christmas.

In "One" Richard Bach not only postulates such a scenario, he shows us the games that the world's countries played to see who were the most amazing pilots, etc. They played at games rather than at war. No one got hurt. Except for an unfortunate pilot here and there who spiralled out of control. Oh, how I wish that time were now.

Rolling Stone: Lennon's Last Interview
Today is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's murder. The world mourns a hero. I mourn him. He was a peace activist when there was still such a thing. What has happened to us as a society that we now are complicit in waging war rather than insist on waging peace? We used to carry signs. We used to raise our voices. Today, I'm raising mine.

War is a money making machine for some. War got us out of the great depression. Well hell. Today, war puts us deeper and deeper in to one. And takes the lives of our children. Our sons. Our daughters. Our loved ones. It claims the lives of innocents. And it claims their souls. Ask any veteran.

I realize that talking about this might make me unpopular. You may even 'hate' me for it. There is so much hate talk these days that it scares the living Dickens out of me. Even Americans hating Americans.

But today, I don't care how unpopular this makes me. This is my truth. War kills. It maims. It wounds. It takes away the very soul of our soldiers and our country. Yes, it takes mine and yours, too.

In honor of John Lennon and the rest of our fallen heroes (both dead and alive), here's John and Yoko singing my favorite Christmas song, "Happy Christmas, War is Over". This, by the way, is the prettied up version. If you have the guts to see what war really is, then click the link after the video instead. This is what John saw. What our soldiers see. This is what I see.

Happy Christmas. Let war end.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8jw-ifqwkM

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let There Be Peace On Earth

In the last three days I've seen Celtic Thunder mentioned four times. Twice channel surfing: PBS is airing the Christmas concert. Then February Grace at Pitch Slapped posted a link on Facebook. And now I've received an email from a friend with a different video.

I ascribe to the theory that, while life might be random, there are no coincidences. My second novel has roots in ancient Celtic tradition. And four mentions in three days bears paying attention.

I listened to the song Bru posted and found it lilting, lyrical and haunting. Then I clicked over and sat, tears streaming, listening to the song that had been forwarded.

You've probably heard it before. Here it is again. Celtic Thunder performing an old classic, "Christmas 1915".


Celtic Thunder - Christmas 1915

As this song intimates, I believe that people don't make war, governments do. Religions do. Greed does. Call me naive. Or stupid. But don't try to change my mind. I have friends from Iraq, Iran, Afganistan, Turkey, Germany, Russia, China, Korea and Vietnam. They have hearts. They bleed. They cry. They have families. And they want peace, just like you and I.

Reach out. Love someone. Forgive someone. Let go of ill will.

For another bit of musical delight, check out Gladys Knight performing "Let There Be Peace On Earth".

Let there be peace on earth. And let it begin with me.

'Tis the Season ~ Olivia J. Herrell

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Morning Wonders

I wrote this last Sunday, but didn't have time to complete it for posting. Mixed throughout, are pictures taken the evening before at sunset.

It's Thanksgiving Sunday. Tomorrow we go home. But for today, I am here. At the beach.

I woke early, but not before the sun. Sitting on the deck, I basked in her glory, bundled in sweats and heavy socks against the chill. The air was still, the wind as light as a whisper and smelling of morning.

I watched a tiny bird standing in place at the water's edge. She seemed to be lost in quiet contemplation, her Sunday morning devotional, meditating on the riches and wonders of earth's bounty.

She stood her ground as the waves rolled within inches of her feet, so lost was she in her reverie.

By and by, a seagull cried out as he wheeled above her, raising an alarm. Soon he came to rest beside his friend, leaned over and murmurred something. I think it went something like this, "Why good morning, Myrtle. My, but aren't you looking mahhvelous today."

Myrtle, not wishing to be disturbed, merely kept her eyes on the horizon. I wondered if perhaps she was waiting for her own Cap'n Turner.

Hector, however, was on a mission. "Myrtle, just so's you know, a man approaches. Fly, fly, fly away now, and save yourself."

Myrtle ignored him, though she cast a wary eye down the beach. Hector walked a few steps away, placing himself squarely in the man's path. I swear the little gull assumed a warrior stance and waited for the intruder to reach them. Myrtle continued contemplating the restless tide.

Soon, the man was within a few feet and Hector gave ground, walking a few steps away from the water. A moment later, Myrtle followed, keeping Hector between her and the man.

As soon as the man passed, Myrtle resumed her solitary stance at the water's edge.

Hector, free to carry on his morning browsing, departed.

How blessed I feel to partake in their morning ritual, even as an onlooker.

What a beautiful way to spend a morning. On the beach. In the sun. Sharing devotion with a couple of feathered friends.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. My heart and prayers go out to Bryan at The Time Guardian Saga. He lost his beloved sister on November 6th and just posted a beautiful and touching tribute. If you don't already follow Bryan, please click over and give him some love.

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