Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve and the Loveliness of Christmas Cards



People often complain about the sending and receiving of Christmas or holiday cards. If someone gets a card from a person not on their "sent" list, they're liable to go into a little bit of a panic and try to send one before it looks like it was only sent in receipt. Or they might hate that feeling of obligation, that now they "owe" someone a Christmas card.

But I love getting Christmas cards, and I love sending them, too. The intent of Christmas card sending has always been to simply send a note of Christmas cheer to help celebrate the season. Or, in some cases (as in the very first Christmas cards ever sent: http://www.emotionscards.com/museum/xmas.html), to ask for donations for the poor and needy.

Since the very beginning, however, the idea that the card should be a small work of art has been part of the tradition.

"Holiday cards designed by Kate Greenaway, the Victorian children's writer and illustrator and Frances Brundage and Ellen H. Clapsaddle, were favorites in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Most were elaborate , decorated with fringe, silk and satin. Some were shaped liked fans and crescents; others were cut into the shapes of bells, birds, candles and even plum puddings. Some folded like maps or fitted together as puzzles; other squealed or squeaked. Pop-up Cards reveled tiny mangers or skaters with flying scarves gliding around a mirrored pond." - Juddi Morris, Vivian Hotchkiss http://www.emotionscards.com/museum/xmas.html

I am just as bad as everyone else. I get into a frenzy; I think I need to have the perfect cards, but not spend too much money. And then I need to buy enough cards. And if I don't buy enough and the others aren't available? What then? Get different "make up" cards. But then I have to decide who gets the original ones and who gets the second set? Jolly Santa? Christmas tree? Art Deco Christmas? And then what if the addresses are wrong. And then there's postage, which is almost ¢.50 per card these days. And you can choose from a variety of stamps. Who gets Mary and Jesus? Who gets the lovely pine branch? Who gets an ornament? What if they're out of Christmas stamps? Which stamps to get then? And again, who gets what?

It's as full of decision making energy as shopping for gifts!

I had part of the stress taken away a couple of years ago when I ordered 8 1/2 x 14 paper by mistake and didn't know what to do with it. And decided since I had already spent money on paper and ink and was short on what I needed to buy cards, that that would be my card. So, that's how my newsletter was born.

But the whole Christmas card thing becomes a bit of a stressor for everyone. And then we forget why we do it all in the first place. The other evening I had a reminder when I finally slowed down (was forced to slow down, actually, by this cold) enough to clean up my bureau and go through and put up my Christmas cards. I spent the evening going through each one. I read them, enjoyed the pictures, looked at the photographs, read the newsy letters enclosed in the cards.

Everyone had done it differently. And each card represented someone in a unique way. Some had children's and family pictures. One of my friends admitted to at least 10 takes to get their family photo right. Then there are the newsy letters - jobs gained and lost, children growing up, people moving, new things happening.

Then the art of the cards. They can range anywhere from the free cards my dad and stepmom send me from their past donations to animal groups to handmade creations with drawings and ribbon and homemade paper. Even with the "free" cards, my dad chose that polar in the bear in the snow cuz he thought it was cute. The friend who sent her handmade card used creams and reds in her homemade paper to represent her. Someone else sent a teal card with red ribbon. Another person sent a card of blues and whites. Another a card of reds and grays. Each card uniquely different from the other, representing one person sending greetings to another in a time honored tradition that goes back 150 years.

E-cards are beginning to replace regular greeting cards. I received at least three this year so far. And they have their own qualities. You can add motion and sound to an ecard that you can't to a regular card. The colors are brighter and there's more going on.

Each card is a little ambassador from a friend or relative's house to yours and represents time and energy, probably love, as well as effort. I found when I took the time to actually read and appreciate the cards that it helped me enjoy this time of the year a little more. If one of the functions of a winter holiday is about bringing light into the middle of the darkness, then each of these cards can represent a small light being sent your way during a time that could otherwise be dark for you.

So, Merry Christmas from my house to yours. And here's my little light I'm sending out to you.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve Eve

Here are a couple of videos from Christmases past in case you’re in the need of something jolly with holly and other things that end in olly… (to paraphrase Susan from the Hogfather).

She Lit the Candle: A short holiday story - http://youtu.be/pCo7ZzcCiC4

City Sidewalks: A holiday poem - http://youtu.be/vFAGEew-oSg

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Doing Research

Today I stopped by our neighborhood newsstand to pick up some bridal magazines to do some research for a story I’m working on. I know people go on and on about how online is it these days, but Google and Bing assume you want to see certain things when you punch in your search terms, and the newsstand doesn’t assume anything. You have these magazines all there before – and you can choose whichever one you want without one of them shouting at you in loud font and colors or blinking across the screen. The artistry of the pics is different, the point of view, the perspective. It’s just better if what you’re looking for is a variety of styles or bits of information that haven’t been fed to you based on assumptions made by the cookies planted on your computer.

So, I pick up three of the bridal magazines (one says it’s the Fashion Issue! Oooh!), marginally wondering what the guy at the register will think of me as I buy them, when I stop short because I see the January/February double issue of Analog (www.analogsf.com/2011_12/index.shtml ). Not only that, but hidden a couple of tiers back is the MARCH issue of Analog. It’s hard to find SF/F mags out on the newsstands these days. Not like the old days when you could find Omni just out and about on your way to the coffeeshop. *sigh* I miss Omni.

So, then I start to wonder what the guy at the register will think of some middle-aged, overweight chick buying bridal fashion mags and and scifi mags both in one go. I figure he probably figures (if he figures at all) that it’s for my kids. People always assume I have kids, and I let them.

But then I get distracted again because I’m actually looking at the Analogs in hand. They’re much more thin than they used to be, even the double issue. It’s sad. They used to be nice, thick mags that you knew were packed with stories, articles, reviews all having to do with science fiction. Analog was one of the heavyweights, along with Asimov’s (www.asimovs.com/2011_01/index.shtml ) and Fantasy & Science Fiction (www.sfsite.com/fsf/ ). In many ways, they still are the heavyweights and the diehards. It’s hard to get a story published by them unless you’re a name already. (I have tried several times, and I know others have as well. For the record, all three magazines rejected The G.O.D. Factor (sdpbookstore.com/storybook.htm#godfactor ).)

But something else I noticed, besides how thin and shoddy they felt, was that neither issue had female authors listed on the front covers. I don’t know if this means they aren’t getting any good submissions from women or if women just aren’t submitting to them, but it was discouraging and started punching all my old buttons where I wonder if I should start submitting stories under R.V. Olivier instead of Rachel V. Olivier because the scifi/fantasy world, no matter how much the insiders talk about how it’s come a long way, still seems to be ruled by the OWGs (old white guys).

I know, that’s not really true. The scifi/fantasy world has come a long way. I mean, we might have Stephenie Meyers as an ongoing embarrassment, but we also have Octavia Butler and Elizabeth Moon and Marion Zimmer Bradley and Joanna Russ, etc., etc., etc.

And, since I haven’t looked at an Analog in a long time, it could be these are just “one ofs”. So, I keep staring at them, wondering if it would be worth it to get them, these two issues of Analog. Do I really want to read a magazine that doesn’t want me? But who knows? Things change. I could enjoy the stories, even if Robert J. Sawyer (one of the listed authors) does normally give me a headache. I could learn something. It’s research. It keeps me abreast of my field. And it’s not like the bridal mags want me either. I mean, I’m not seeing any plus size brides on those magazine covers.

I shrug. I add the Analogs to the pile of bridal mags and plunk down the money and ask for the receipt. After all, it is research.

Once upon a time, I would have been embarrassed to even be found looking at a bridal mag. That’s so much fooffera that I have no need of and think is absolutely unnecessary. However, I would have rushed out to not only get the Analog, but go to the back of the mag and find the subscription form so I could look forward to a new issue every month.

These days, though, I’m thinkin’ the bridal research will be the more fun of the two.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Monday: Deals, specials and stuff!


This is going to be a bit of a link salad. Since Saturday was Small Business Saturday and Monday will be Cyber Monday, I thought I would take some time to include links to authors I know who have books for sale and artists I know who have art for sale, and other people who have cool things to sell, all easily accessed online. And of course that includes links and deals for my stuff as well! ;-)

First off, the list of authors I know who have stories for sale at this time:

C.G. Bauer: Scars on the Face of God
Charles Gramlich: Killing Trail
Gary Inbinder: The Flower to the Painter
Angela Korra'ti: Faerie Blood
Angela Consolo Mankiewicz: http://www.POETACMANK.blogspot.com. Scroll down and on the left you’ll find a list of chapbooks and anthologies.
Will Molinar: The Restless and Torment series.
C.Leigh Purtill: Book I of Fat Girls in L.A.: All About Vee
John B. Rosenman: Alien Dreams
Allene Symons: Nostradamus, Vagabond Prophet
Elizabeth Thurmond: Twelve Princesses of Bel-Air

Arts, crafts and other cool stuff for sale:
Flora's Pond
Off Screen in Hollywood
Angela Ranzoni: Ranzangel on Etsy
David Stine: as i see it
Zareeeeeen!: The Red Camel: Tribal Jewelry and Textiles

I know there's more I'm forgetting, but it's a start. If you're looking for something unique for friends and family for the holidays, I suggest you look above, cuz those are some of the most unique people I know!

And last but not least, don't forget you can find The G.O.D. Factor here; The Holly and the Ivan can be found here; and Rae's Bar & Bistro poetry collection can be found here. And while there's a 25% coupon at Lulu that's good through Dec. 14 (BUYMYBOOK305), for just MONDAY November 28, you can use the Cyber Monday coupon at Lulu (CYBERMONDAY305) to receive 30% off (expires 11/28/11, 11:59 p.m. PST).

So, go save America and shop where it counts!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Support Your Local Author - Buy A Book For Christmas!

Okay, that should read, buy MY books for Christmas. Why? Because I'm part of the 99%. I'm a small business, so to speak. But mostly because I think you will like them! I've got a poetry book for you intellectual types, a scifi/adventure story for you action types, and a paranormal fantasy for you romance types! You can see them below.

You can find the poetry book, "Rae's Bar & Bistro," here on Lulu.com for $9.95, but 20% off or $7.96 through January 1 ($3.99 shipping): http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/raes-bar-bistro-a-poetry-collection/18650641

You can find the scifi book, "The G.O.D. Factor," here through Sam's Dot Publishing for $6 ($4 shipping): http://sdpbookstore.com/storybooks.htm#godfactor

You can find the paranormal fantasy, "The Holly and the Ivan," here on Lulu for $9.95, but 20% or $7.96 through January 1 ($3.99 shipping): http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-holly-and-the-ivan/18650726


AND GUESS WHAT??? While I have a 20% discount already set up on my Lulu books, Lulu is now advancing a special 25% discount on my books. Just enter the coupon code BUYMYBOOK305 at check out. I'm not sure if that's on top of my discount or instead of my discount. But it makes my Lulu books $7.46 if it's instead of and $5.97 if it's on top of. Either way, it's a win! The extra-special coupon code runs through Dec. 14.

So, BUY MY BOOK!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Los Angeles and Public Transportation


I live in Los Angeles, one of those cities that you read at the bottom of shopping bags from chic boutiques: New York, Paris, London, Los Angeles. You know? It's arguably the home of the film industry and has more freelancers per capita almost than any other major city other than New York. It's a city with a history, from a spot on the river with a mission, a pueblo and a fort and the longest name ever (El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula or The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Porciúncula River) to a city with some of the worst and longest traffic jams ever, Los Angeles has grown to be a city that people look to as an example (sometimes a bad example, but still, an example).

Los Angeles is also a 230 year old Virgo (September 4, 1781, you can see all the Venus, Pluto, Air and Fire in the charts here. And read about it's life path, 3, here.). She's got a lot to deal with, what with all the creatives who live here, as well as the other industries, schools and people who make their home here. It is also romantically (and ironically) known by some as a "car" city. The place where you could find yourself blowing up the freeway with the beach on one side and the city or the mountains on the other (of course, traffic usually impedes that illusion).

Believe it or not, there was a time when Los Angeles was known for its public transportation, its railcars that took inhabitants from one end of town to the other. But sometime after the big oil boom, gasoline became cheap, car companies wanted to sell cars and oil companies wanted to sell oil, so the rails went away, the cars took over, and Los Angeles became the city where you drive (see American Graffiti). The city were you do not walk (as sung about by Sheryl Crow and demonstrated in LA Story by Steve Martin).

Recently, people in L.A. have begun to realize that all that driving from their home in West Los Angeles to their job in Thousand Oaks, or from their home in West Hills to their job in the city is not good for them or their paychecks. Jobs are being cut, hours are being cut, gigs are being cut. People are pulling in, pulling back, seeing what they can do with less, from home, or at least closer to home. People are checking out the public transportation again, or seeing if biking to work or the store is a better option. Not only that, but they're doing things like writing their council members about bike lanes and better public transportation so that these can be viable options for everyone.

Council members are taking them seriously, installing "sharrows" on streets where bikes travel so motorists understand sharing the lane with bikers. Money is being put into the public transportation system to make it a more viable option for everyone and not just those who are too poor to own a car.

This is all good, except for the fact that there are still people out there who don't see how important all these steps are. They have money, not just money. They have wealth. They have influence. They have nice cars. And they don't feel like sharing their roads with walkers, bus passengers or bicyclists. Like the spoiled brat at the nursery or the school, they don't feel like sharing their playground, even though everyone is entitled to it. They complain about how bicyclists create traffic jams - not the millions of cars on the road - no. Bicyclists. They complain about how buses create traffic jams - not the millions of cars around the buses. Nor do they seem to understand that there are millions of people (yes, millions, there are 3 million people in L.A. proper and 15 million in the Metro area) taking those buses to work or to school and if they didn't take the buses, they would be driving, and traffic would do more than just suck.

No, these complainers don't want to share their pretty, shiny new cars that guzzle fossil fuel or their streets that are full of potholes because of all the drivers and no money to fix the potholes, with the bicyclists that work on muscle power or the buses that run on clean gas or methane. This blog is in response to those spoiled brats - the ones that give Angelenos a bad name.

Angelenos have long prided themselves on being trendsetters. While we have our own "style" we still compete with cities like New York, Paris and London as being ahead of the pack. However, in one instance we are woefully behind the times and stuck in a rut, and that is when it comes to public transportation and sharing the road with bicyclists. If we measure Los Angeles against the rest of the world in this regard we lose, hands down.

Several council members in our city are working to rectify that situation by making roads and areas in Los Angeles more accessible by bike by adding in bike lanes "sharrows". This is something that Los Angeles needs, and not just to keep up with New York, Paris and Milan, but also for the health of this city and the people in this city.

There are some who have complained about reworking the roads to include bike lanes. Or they complain about having bus stops in their neighborhood - they don't want "those" sorts of people in near their homes. (Hello! I AM one of "those" sorts!) They cite increased congested traffic as their reason. And yes, there will be increased congested traffic during the construction of these bike lanes or when building in new bus stops and terminals and better public transportation options. But that is spoiled, selfish short-term thinking.

In the long-term, bike lanes and increased public transportation options will only make this a better city, not just for those who live here, but also for those who visit. A tourist in San Francisco or Paris or London knows they can stay in a hotel and hop on the Metro to get to most of their destinations. Tourists in Los Angeles are not so fortunate. If you want to stay in L.A. but go to Disneyland for the day, you better be prepared for a 2-3 hour bus/train trip or rent a car. Want to stay downtown but visit the beach? Again, 2 hour bus trip there and back, if you're lucky, or rent a car. It's easier to go to New York.

Do we want those tourist dollars? Why yes. Yes, we do. So, we need to make it better for them.

Do we want to have a better life as residents in Los Angeles? Why yes! Yes, we do. We need to make it better for US. Not just SOME of us - not just the rich, but ALL of us.

So, we have to start thinking in the long term. In the long term, bike lanes are better for Los Angeles for the following reasons: 1) We need more jobs in this city and this construction of bike lanes or public transportation stations will provide jobs for people. 2) The world has changed in the last few years and cars, those romantic vehicles stuck in our heads as bastions of American Freedom, are NOT the future, they are the PAST. As jobs are lost and hours cut, who can afford to keep a hunk of metal going that's costing fuel, upkeep, insurance and skyrocketing parking tickets and fees? A bike is cheaper. Using the bus is cheaper. And 3) It's better for the environment and our health if we make Los Angeles a bike friendly and public transportation city.

Many things need to change for bikes to become a more integral part of this city and for buses and trains to be viable. For one, we need to ALL (motorists, cyclists and pedestrians) learn to obey the rules of the road better. Angelenos are notorious for not stopping at stop signs (I've even seen cops roll through the stop sign at Clinton and Larchmont), jaywalking, not using turn signals, and not wearing helmets or having lights on their bikes. I've been in a certified crosswalk and had cars roll right on through without stopping. I've seen motorists cut off buses that are trying to turn or drop off passengers (you think it's easy to stop a vehicle that large? You're lucky you don't get crushed when you pull crap like that).

We need to have refresher courses on how to keep to these rules of the road, and we need to obey them. And yes, it means motorists will need to learn to look out for bikes on the road from now on, and that bicyclists start wearing helmets and need to learn the hand signals for turning left and right, as well as proper road etiquette whether riding near pedestrians or on the road with motorists. Pedestrians need to remember to look out for idiot motorists who aren't watching the road.

Things change. The world has changed. We need to get over it. Put the big girl panties on and deal with the fact that the "golden car age" that L.A .was a part of is over. Quit our whining and just do it. Learn to share the road with everyone who's out there.

Either that or admit that we are no longer the trendsetters we thought we were and it's no use trying to keep up with New York, Paris, London or Milan; admit defeat in our continual competition with San Francisco. In which case, they end up with the groovy bicyclists, mopeds and really neat Metro trains, and we're stuck with the unsightly, aging gridlock.

Very unattractive and so last century.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just in time for Christmas!


For anyone out there waiting with baited breath, or looking for holiday books to buy for gifts, I suggest you check out the newly reissued "The Holly and the Ivan." It is now in paperback for all you people who didn't like the ebook version. Small enough to throw in your purse and read on the run. Hope you enjoy! http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-holly-and-the-ivan/18624196

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Okay, sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't so I'll just be as blunt as possible and hopefully it will work this time.

I am looking for people (no more than 5-10 because that's the most I can afford [and I'm not even sure I can afford that]) to read and review my book of poetry (Rae's Bar & Bistro), or the re-issue of my holiday paranormal romance novella in paperback (The Holly and the Ivan). I will send you a free copy of one or both of these books if (and ONLY if) you: 1) Promise to read it in a timely manner - within a month of receiving it and 2) Promise, Promise, PROMISE to write a REVIEW of it ON YOUR PUBLIC BLOG or talk about it on another social networking site (NOT private), also within a timely manner. You can say you hate it, I don't care. As long as you put it out there, spend at least 150 words saying something about it, with a link to the book on Lulu.com or on my website.

I can't afford to pay for advertising. I need to do GRASSROOTS MARKETING. I'm not looking for private emails telling me you liked it or about the typos. I need you to tell other people OUTSIDE my normal group of friends whether or not you like it. And link to it. I'm seeking to SELL THESE BOOKS. I need to build a larger audience of readers. I'm asking your help to do that.

While I'm okay with scrubbing toilets for a living, I'm not very good at it. Plus, I don't have a car and these days they don't seem to want to hire you unless you have a car. My hours have been cut at work and my freelance clients are fewer or with smaller projects. So. This is what I know how to do. This is what I'm trying to do to make a living.

SO, if you ARE willing to read one or both of these books and review them (and your FREE book is payment - these both cost at least $5-6 each just materials and labor) then send me a private message, either through tribe or to info@puttputtproductions.com. I'll need your name and a physical address where I can send the book(s).

Thank you in advance for playing along.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Announcing the Official Publication of Rae's Bar & Bistro



Last week, I said I was publishing a collection of poetry, this week it's official.

Rachel V. Olivier and Putt Putt Productions announces the publication of Rae's Bar & Bistro: A Poetry Collection. Find it on Lulu.com here now: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/raes-bar-bistro-a-poetry-collection/18557919

A compilation of poems ranging from scifiku and tanka to sonnets and sestinas, launching into free verse and beyond, these poems explore life, death, family, friendship and more. Like a late night bar & bistro, there is something here for anyone who is trying to find their way home after a night out looking for themselves. **20% discount good through January 1, 2012.

Available through Lulu.com, and coming soon to Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com for $9.95. Get a 20% discount through January 1, 2012. Go to puttputtproductions.com/published_work/poetry for more information to the above link to order direct from Lulu.com

ISBN 978-1-105-18214-3

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just in time for Halloween!




I thought this anthology was coming out in November, but it actually came out at the end of September. How did I miss that?!?!? Anyway, Cover of Darkness, a horror anthology through Sam's Dot Publishing, also has a short story in it that I wrote called "The Man in the Hat." The beginning is based on a true story I read in the paper years ago, still have the article somewhere. But besides my story, there are plenty of other spooky tales and poems. And if you're too impatient to order the hard copy here, you can also order the eBook here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Death of an economy: Which stage of grief are you at?

“So, I guess this is just the way things are now.”

I was waiting with a friend of mine for the tow truck to pull his truck in and park it. It, my friend’s truck, had broken down on the freeway after most autoshops are closed, so home it came to be towed in the morning somewhere else. We had been talking about how we probably wouldn’t get to retire like our parent before us, and the state of the economy, while waiting for the truck. We talked about how we kept waiting for the economy to get better. How, at first we , as in the entire world, couldn’t believe how bad things were. And now, of course, we’re all very angry about it. As we talked about it, my friend and I realized it was like the entire world, or maybe just the industrial world, was going through the stages of grieving for an economy that no longer exists.

The stages of grieving, in case you’ve forgotten, are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

I think we went through Bargaining before we went through Anger. Our economists, our government leaders, our business people, we all denied it at first of course, and then tried to bargain it away. Now we’re angry – oh so very angry. We’ve had our livelihoods stolen from us, we feel. How could this happen? Who is to blame? Someone must pay! We are all so very, very angry. And we feel helpless. And still angry.

Eventually, after the anger dissipates, we’ll be depressed. But will that come before or after Christmas?

Recently the LA Times had an article that said our economy has gone up 2.5% and they were so excited! (Part of Bargaining? Part of Denial?). I wake up in the morning to NPR’s Morning Edition and hear the economists talk about going into a second recession and I’m surprised because I didn’t think we’d ever left the first. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my personal recession started a few years ago and I never got out of it – I don’t know where people are getting money for iPads or cars or homes or vacations or anything. My client list has decreased. The clients I have are calling less. And the hours at my one part-time job have been cut. And I KNOW I’m not the only one out there going through all this. And they say our economy is growing? Or that it ever left the recession first time round?

What do you expect of theorists? Personally, I think they’re all still stuck in Denial and haven’t moved on yet to where the rest of us are.

Not sure when the Depression will break in. Will it be before Christmas, because we all realize we’re not getting the extra hours or extra job to pull in much needed holiday funds so we won’t be able to spend money on holiday things? Or will it be after Christmas and the holidays when we realize we spent what little we had left in savings on holiday stuff and now January’s rent is staring us in the face and not letting us alone for another minute?

Whether it arrives in mid December or late December, it will arrive. And if you’ve never been depressed before, be prepared for an entire world that doesn’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning, because what’s the use? Not like we’re going to make any money anyway, right?

You won’t believe it at the time, but eventually the depression passes. Because if it doesn’t, you’ll die. But once the depression passes you realize you just need to get up, get dressed and do your best each day. And that’s all you can do. It’s all you’ve ever been able to do, really, but now you know it truly.

And then you’ll have hit Acceptance. You’ll accept that your credit is crap now, that you’ve moved into your parents’ basement and that the tech toys of 2011 will be the last you purchase for a good 5-10 years because let’s face it, rent and grocery bills are more important than that shiny eReader or SmartPhone that neither you nor your parents can afford for you to have anymore. And if you still have a car, it will not be new, you’ll do what you can on duct tape and paper clips to keep it going, or get ride of it and get a bike or moped to get to work because you can’t afford to pay for a hunk of metal, insurance, gas, parking tickets and upkeep, and the darn thing keeps costing too much to drive anywhere anyway. So, you find a job close to home, if you freelance, you keep it all to telecommute or meetings in the neighborhood, and it saves time and money and the environment. You don’t have the cool stereo system anymore, but you no longer drive two hours each way to work, anyway.

Because that’s just the way things are now.

As my friend and I were talking, the tow truck driver parked the truck and made sure of the AAA card number from my friend’s husband, then waved and drove off.

“We really need to get a new car, but that will just have to wait,” my friend sighed.

And then we went into dinner, a home cooked meal and not out anywhere, because that’s just the way things are now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rae's Bar & Bistro: A Poetry Collection




A collection of both previously published and previously unpublished poetry that ranges from quirky, scifiku to playful to thoughtful to erotic and back to angst-ridden. Pure vanity on my part. I got tired of waiting for someone else to like my poetry and put it out there.

Available soon through Lulu.com and Amazon.com for $9.95 with a 20% discount through the holidays: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/raes-bar-bistro-a-poetry-collection/18366350

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It's Official...

If you haven’t heard it yet, you will soon. Drollerie Press (drolleriepress.com/ ) is officially closing, which means “The Holly and the Ivan” by Rachel V. Olivier is officially out of print. If you have a copy, it’s a rare thing indeed!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Numbered to death...



(The drummer, the guy who directed this video, is my cousin, Simon Olivier)

In "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," (1974) by Robert M. Pirsig, the main character talks about when he was a teacher. He refers to himself in the third person as Phaedrus. Phaedrus became so preoccupied with defining true quality, but not by the experience, but by quantifying quality, that he went insane. In other words, Phaedrus spent so much time trying to break down objectively (using numbers, fractions, decimals) what is meant to be subjective (language and feeling, and what is "good" or what has "worth") in many cases, that his brain couldn't handle it anymore. He was trying to find the definitive number for something that has no number. For all you quantifiers out there, it's like dividing by zero, or zero by anything. Or finding the square root of zero.

It just doesn't work, because zero doesn't quantify anything, it just is.

Needless to say, Phaedrus went crazy and was sent for electroshock treatments. In the book, the protagonist is trying to find equilibrium between the Phaedrus he was and someone who can simply enjoy something in the moment for what it is without quantifying it.

When I moved to San Francisco I lived in a tiny house in someone's backyard. I had a place for me and my cat to eat and sleep and a garden, and not much else. But I loved it. At last I was going to live amongst artists and writers and have discussions about Sartre or Rousseau or Voltaire or writing and music and painting, and creating paradise in your own backyard.

Instead, every party I went to, every party I held, ended up with many of the people there talking about credit scores, rent and lease amounts, salary, monetary worth. Just like most of the parties I went to in Los Angeles ended up with discussions on sports scores, weight gained or lost, weight pressed, age, monetary worth (again), calories per glass, calories per serving, how much money to make a film, how much money a film had lost.

Just numbers and more numbers and more numbers.

At the end of the parties I would feel so drained and weary, and not just from the party. It was a weariness born of feeling like I would never measure up. I would never meet the required number on my credit score, weight, salary, etc. to achieve true "worth".

Lately I've noticed, as have you, probably, the same weariness prevalent everywhere. It's part of what the Occupy Wall Street protests are about. The numbers - salaries, retirement, loans, credit scores, cost of living, unemployment - don't measure up. They don't measure up on the "have-not" side and they don't measure up on the "have" side, either.

We can't blame anyone else but ourselves for this weariness. Go to Yahoo or Google and just look at the titles of the articles listed on the home page: Ten things women do wrong regarding men, Eight things men won't share with you, Five foods to a healthier body, Four easy ways to exercise at the office, Nine things you didn't know about Steve Jobs, Four things editors wish writers would do, Seven things you didn't know about your postman, Six things your employers don't want you to know, Fifteen exercises you can do in front of your computer, 41 places to find freelance writing jobs, Five weeks to a better you, and it goes on and on and on.

Did you know (I only know this because my mom told me) there is even a series of the Book of Lists? Not just one. They are just lists of lists.

Then, think about how you wake up in the morning and go to bed at night to the news on the radio, TV or your home page. What is that news normally comprised of? Lists and numbers. There's the lists of sports scores. Then the weather. Not just the temperature for the day, not just that it will be hot or cold or dry or wet, but temperature, wind velocity and direction and chill/heat factors, even a number descriptor for air quality. What about American Public Media's "Let's do the numbers" financial discussions and reports. Stocks are up. Stocks are down. Way down. Unemployment is up, spending is down. "Consumer confidence" (now there's a descriptor) is down by whatever percent. A percentile for your confidence in how far your money will go and whether or not you will spend it.

I wonder if there are bookies in Vegas for betting on that kind of thing?

And there's another set of numbers. Bet with the house. Bet against the house. 21, Seven Card Stud, Five Card Draw...

Then there's the other news. Test scores are down, down, down. Number of people who read books is down. Numbers of teen pregnancies is up (or down, depending on the statistic). Number of literate people is down. Number of people without health insurance is up. Number of obese people is up. Number of soldiers still in Iraq and Afghanistan. Number of veterans with PTSD. Number and make of weapons. A new car that gets this many miles per gallon at this fast per hour. Consumer electrical usage is down by this much. Consumer electrical rates are up by this much. We are the 99%. We are the 98%. Your [insert minority or disability here] is whatever percentage of the population.

We can't win.

When we go to school what do they want to know? Grades, test scores, number of times absent, number of times sent to the principal, number of clubs involved in, number in your classroom. You are in the upper percentile in your class. No, the lower percentile in your class. No, you're in the upper mid range, or is that the lower mid range?

Or at the doctor's? Your numbers - weight, age, birthday, height, patient number. What are the numbers on your cholesterol, your blood pressure, your pulse rate, your temperature. The blood tests give you numbers for everything, depending on what you were tested for. If your score is a little too high you're in this category. If a little too low in that category. How many veggies do you eat a day? How many times do you exercise a week? How long do you exercise? Baby, you're off the charts...

We quantify all these parts of our lives that have to do with the QUALITY of our lives in order to make it easier for us to define and live with it. It's supposed to make it easier to figure out where we are in whatever spectrum has been assigned to whatever thing we are measuring. But instead, it just makes us weary; because all it tells us is that we don't measure up. And we never will.

Hey! Wake up! Don't you remember?!?! Phaedrus went INSANE trying to quantify the unquantifiable! And here we are doing the EXACT SAME THING. Every day. Several times a day. What are we thinking!?!?! We're going to go crazy, absolutely stark raving mad and be locked up in Arkham Asylum right next to the Joker and the Riddler and Poison Ivy if we're not careful.

Numbers are abstract concepts. They are ABSTRACT, okay!?!? A number is not a concrete thing. It is simply a descriptor of how many things there are and how these things might possibly, theoretically, interact in the correct set of circumstances.

A NUMBER, for example, is a not a SANDWICH. A SANDWICH is a CONCRETE THING. All the NUMBER does is tell you how many sandwiches you have! Some people have zero sandwiches. Some people have ten. If someone with ten sandwiches eats one, then they have nine left. If they eat one and give away one they have eight left. But the subject is not the number. The number simply describes the subject, which is, in this case, the SANDWICH.

What is important is not how many sandwiches you have, it's whether or not you have a sandwich to begin with, and whether or not that sandwich tastes good. Does it taste good? Are you enjoying it? Is it nourishing you? Good. The problem comes when we try to assign a number to what "Good" is. On a scale of 1 to 10, where does your sandwich sit on that scale of goodness? So, instead of saying better than most, but not as good as the one you had last week, you say, "6". And then it gets entered into a database and pops out a statistic and suddenly you have the weight of the world on your shoulders regarding sandwiches because someone decided to measure the goodness of sandwiches and forgot that "6" doesn't really mean anything. Neither does "six". It's the sandwich that means something.

There are times, of course, where the descriptor is just as important as the subject. You really do need to have a minimum number of abstract dollars in your bank account in order to pay your rent, mortgage, grocery bill, heating/ac bill, etc.

But, when it comes to those things that mean something to you, all that matters is if things are better or worse. Are you healthier today than you were yesterday? Did you write today? It doesn't matter how many words you wrote. It doesn't matter the extent to which you dieted, exercised and meditated. Are you better? Are you worse? Do you have enough control over your circumstances to make it better? Yes or no. Do you have food in the cupboard? A roof over your head? Clothes on your back? Yes or no.

Most of the time, that's all you really need.

Last Chance...

For paranormal romance...



So, there's a chance that "The Holly and the Ivan," a holiday paranormal romance, could be going out of print soon. If you're possibly getting someone a Kindle or Nook or other e-reader for Christmas and want to fill their e-reader with some good stories, then I recommend trying this or any of the other stories at Drollerie Press out. For now, you can find "The Holly and the Ivan" here: http://drolleriepress.com/books/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=7&products_id=98. Find it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Holly-Ivan-ebook/dp/B004JMZJ92/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1306212106&sr=8-2

It's a whole $1.95. If you're not sure whether or not you're interested, then read an excerpt here: http://www.bewilderingstories.com/issue365/holly_ivan_ex.html

Or hear me reading a portion of it here: http://www.youtube.com/user/kikopyeandi#p/u/12/q1AC2Ex7tUo

It might be a little early for some folk to start their holiday shopping, but I'm truly unsure as to how much longer this title will be available, so get it while you can!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grand Announcement

October 1, 2011 I signed the agreement making it official: My novella, “The G.O.D. Factor,” has been optioned by the lovely and talented Elizabeth M. Thurmond, who will be writing a screenplay based on it.

YAY!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I am in The Order of the Hot Potato

Apparently I wrote a story considered controversial enough to be included in Bewildering Stories 3rd Quarter Review in The Order of the Hot Potato. They didn't say why it was controversial, but I'm 17th out of 18, so it's not as controversial as others further up the list, but still in there.

Anyway, so, if you're curious about it, you can see my listing here: http://www.bewilderingstories.com/anthologies/436-447/436-447_antho3.html#hot_potato

Just click on the green link for Family Coat and you can read the story and decide for yourself.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Review of "The G.O.D. Factor" and a Farewell

Cross posted from http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2011/09/06/a-review-of-th…and-a-farewell/

Back in June this year when "The G.O.D. Factor" first came out I was looking for people who would read my novella and honestly review it on their blog or in their forum, or wherever they let out their great "yawp" the most. I got some volunteers - some of which posted reviews on their blogs and others who felt more comfortable simply emailing me. However I heard it, though, it was exciting to hear what people had to say about my little novella. (You can find those reviews here: http://www.puttputtproductions.com/published_work/novellas .)

But I also wanted to seek out reviews from people who didn't know me, who hadn't read anything I had ever written, and might see something completely different in my work than what I assumed was there. My friend Angela pointed me in the direction of Hugh Fox, who wrote reviews for Small Press Review. But he was also a poet with 54 volumes of poetry under his belt, as well as the first writer to tackle a critical study of Charles Bukowski, and one of the founders of the Pushchart Prize, and that is in addition to his many other accomplishments. To read more about him (other than the Wikipedia entry above, go to the poetsencyclopedia.com entry here.

Small Press Review is a "magazine with review columns, information and helpful hints on getting published. Published bi-monthly, it contains up-to-date and late-breaking news on the small press and small magazine industry." From what I can tell, it's been around since 1963, founded and edited by Len Fulton, also a prolific poet, writer and editor in the world of the small press.

To get such people to take the time to take a look at my work would be a wonderful thing indeed, no matter if they loved it or hated; that they would take the time to read and comment would be enough. So, I was very excited to have Angela help me with that. However, there was a little bit of a mix up in the sending of a review copy; I sent it to the wrong address. And then my other copies of "The G.O.D. Factor" were delayed in getting to me, then Len Fulton passed away on July 28, which made me wonder if this was the right time for this (Google Len Fulton and you get link upon link of people announcing his passing), but by hook or by crook, between Angela and I, we got a copy to the correct address, that is to Hugh Fox, and it was even before the book signing at Chevalier's on August 20.

After all that, I was grateful that he'd even take a look at my little novella. But read it he did and came up with the below review. It is such a completely opposite view of what I had in mind when I wrote "The G.O.D. Factor" that I laughed aloud when I read it. It's beautiful when people find things in your writing that you never saw. It can be ugly, too, but in this case, I thought it was awesome. Mark Twain was right, just say yes when people tell you what they thought you meant when you wrote something. In any case, I'm honored to have received Hugh Fox's review, copied and pasted below:

The G.O.D. Factor
Novel by Rachel V. Olivier
$6.00/ Sam’s Dot Publishing

Review by HUGH FOX

A dual-levelled book that at the same time deals with space-ships and their crews, but also is a metaphorical commentary on the place of the divine in the human universe. Very subtle:

“Monica? Monica?” The G.O.D. had finished going through all variations. It had been an enjoyable exercise if he did say so himself. And, he realized, he did. The G.O.D. ran through the systems to find Monica.Sensors indicated neither she nor anyone was aboard ship, but the ‘ship’ was much smaller than the one he woke up in,....the G.O.D. was fascinated by where it was. Running through information filed away almost 100 years ago, the G.O.D. found the charts from the Galactic War, back when they’d known this part of space. ...Humans he could help; humans that would have a better life because he, the GO.D.. would be able to show them how to have better, more efficient, life. “Get in touch with Gawwd.” (pp.48-49).

On one level it’s all spaceship games, but what we’re really dealing with is God looking back at the earth, human beings, seeing how things have gone, convinced that if mankind really dealt with God their lives would be better, better, better, that they should come back and get in touch with him/her. So there is a huge, important message here, and at the same time Olivier is a masterful writer dealing with the whole space-ship level of the book. I imagine lots of reader might miss the huge metaphorical double-level here, but some second-thinking, re-reading will eventually bring them into Olivier’s major message: return to The Divine.

***

Again, it truly is an honor to have Hugh Fox review one of my works, and I love how he saw an alternate vision to what I had in mind.

Yesterday I heard from Angela that Hugh Fox passed away this weekend, and this could be one of the last reviews he ever wrote; it may or may not make it into print at Small Press Review (which is still going after Len Fulton's death). But it seemed fitting that I post Hugh Fox's review with a final thanks to him for taking the time to review my novella and a farewell to him on his death.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another Review of "The G.O.D. Factor"

Back in July, I posted about some wonderful reviews I got for “The G.O.D. Factor” from Christina E. Rundle and Charles Gramlich. And then this past week, C. Leigh Purtill posted another great review here. Or, you can follow this link to my website where I have them all listed. This part makes me glow every time I read it: “a little Ray Bradbury, a little Isaac Asimov, a little Robert Heinlein. It all adds up to a really fun story with a main character you want to spend more time with.” *sigh*

The consensus seems to be that I need to write more in Monica’s world about Monica’s life. And I’m not promising anything, but I did put a sentence or two on a blank page yesterday while I was thinking about how I might go about doing that.

In the meantime, I have a few other stories to finish…

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Laundry Soap

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a housekeeper. There have been times in my life when I was better at keeping up at it than others. When I lived in the cabin in San Francisco, for example, giving the floor a daily sweep was almost a necessity.

But that didn't mean I got underneath everything or dusted everything or even did dishes everyday. But over the years one of the chores I have almost come to love is doing laundry. Now, I'm not going to go into all the things I like about doing laundry since I already did that here (oddly enough, a year ago). A few years ago, I started making my own laundry soap. I tried it first for fun. I mean I bake my own bread sometimes, why not my own laundry soap? I liked it so much - how it turned out, how it worked out for me (better health, not so many chemicals against my skin, nice smells, etc.) that I haven't gone back to commercial laundry soap since.

Now, I have mentioned over time how I make my own laundry soap. And I know I'm not the only one out there who does it, but it's amazing how many people are - well - amazed - when I tell them I do this. So, since I've recently been typing up instructions, etc for people who are curious, and put together a batch for my sister for her bday (I hope you've opened your bday gifts by now - please?), I thought I would post here, once and for all, that yes, I DO, in fact, make my own laundry soap.

I got the original recipe from the book, The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier. Here's a copy of that page from her book.



But here's what it has morphed into for me:

Ingredients:

2 cups (1 bar) grated soap/soap flakes (Dr. Bronner's Rose-hemp all-in-one castile soap)
2 cups baking soda (Arm & Hammer)
2 cups washing soda (Arm & Hammer)
2 cups borax (20 mule team)

10-30 drops each of the following essential oils: Lavender, Sweet Orange, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Rose Absolute (or other essential oils depending on your needs/likes).

Directions:

Use 1/8 - 1/4 cup per load (give or take and depending on load). I would use 1/4 cup for the laundromat-sized machines if they're full, but less if you're just doing a partial load. More for more soiled loads.

Notes:

The lumps are probably the borax, it gets lumpy. And there are some pieces of soap that don't grate all the way down. So you might find a soap bit or two at the bottom of the washing machine.

I recommend shaking up the container it's in a bit before each laundry session - not each load, but each session - just to make sure it's all stirred evenly. Settling occurs and all that.

If you use stuff like Spray-n Wash and OxyClean in wash or to pretreat, it works with those just fine.

If you are trying to whiten or brighten a load, then instead of bleach, add Sweet Orange essential oil, or maybe hydrogen peroxide, oxyclean or distilled white vinegar.

White vinegar makes the water softer and keeps your clothes from drying stiff if you hang them to dry. Also breaks up any uric acid.

If you're trying to fight germs or fungus or something that you're not sure will come out with a regular wash, then add a little rosemary or tea tree oil or eucalyptus essential oils as they are all anti-fungal.

So, there you have it. If you need to, bookmark this entry so next time you hear me say I make my laundry soap and you're surprised to hear it because you forgot, you can go back to this entry to look up what it is I do.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Full Circle

So, because this is so cool, I thought I would post this.

This is me and the fabulous C. Leigh Purtill back when I first met her at her book signing for "All About Vee" at Chevalier's Books back in May 2008. I blogged about it here.


And this is me and the fabu Leigh at my own book signing for "The G.O.D. Factor" this past Saturday. Also at Chevalier's!


Just seemed kinda cool.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Top ten thoughts on hawking my wares at my first book signing ever at Chevalier’s whilst waiting for people to show up…

1) I wonder if my little novella will grow up to be a real book like the ones on these shelves one day?

2) If I had a tail, I probably wouldn’t slouch as much when I sit.

3) Would it help if I chased people down in the street?

4) I don’t suppose there’s a way to lose a chunk of weight before anyone shows up, is there?

5) There’s lipstick on my teeth. I just know it. There’s lipstick on my teeth.

6) This is beginning to feel remarkably like that party I gave in junior high.

7) Don’t look at the time. For God’s sake, DO NOT LOOK AT THE TIME!

8 ) Need to ask Vicki Pettersson for some Vegas Show Girl dance tips incorporating holding a book so I can dance on the sidewalk and get people to stop and come in and buy my book.

9) Or even just wave it around a little.

10) The people here are awfully nice. I sure hope I sell some of these suckers.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It never hurts to ask...

Cross posted from http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2011/08/14/it-never-hurts-to-ask-2/

I’m getting ready for my signing on the 20th at Chevalier’s (http://chevaliersbooks.blogspot.com/). So, I’ve been going over the reviews posted by people to print out and have on hand with me (you can find some of them here: http://www.puttputtproductions.com/published_work/novellas). (BTW – if I sent you a review copy and if you haven’t had a chance to read and review The G.O.D. Factor yet, then let me know when you do so I can post a link to it on my site and use it in future – hopefully – signings.)

I have to confess, at first I was just excited that it was happening. Then, all the particulars started setting in. Ordering books. Ordering enough books. Ordering them on time to get them in time. Making postcards. Mailing postcards. You get the idea.

Now, most of that is done and I’m just plain nervous. The books haven’t arrived, yet (but they will soon). Should I read? Is that done at Chevalier’s? Then I need to practice what I’m going to read, right? What should I wear? Will anyone show up? Will I feel like throwing up the entire time? Or just defeated like when I gave my first party in junior high that fell as flat as a lead balloon? Why am I doing this? Wouldn’t it be better if I stayed at home and just watched Buffy and wrote? What got me into this?

Oh, that’s right. I asked. I sent emails. I picked up the phone. I asked and was given an answer.

That’s one of the things I realized I’ve been learning lately: It never hurts to ask.

I think I need to start including it in the mantras I frequently discuss in writing circles, such as “Write, revise, repeat” and “Always pay attention, because you don’t know where the next idea will come from.”

Sometimes I get people, mostly persons of the high school and college-aged persuasion (kids from Road Trip Nation and my college Alma Mater Western Washington University’s online mentoring program being two examples), asking advice on how to get started on writing, copy editing, proofreading, and generally making a living with words. It’s hard to answer their questions. Most writers know the saying: There’s three rules to becoming a writer but no one knows what they are. Being/becoming a writer is a very Zen process. It’s different for everyone. What is the same for everyone is that it happens through hours of just simply doing it. And then there’s all that practical stuff. There are entire libraries and sections of the book store and Amazon.com dedicated to all that practical stuff (formatting a manuscript, grammar and editing, finding a critique partner, getting involved in a writers group – or not, taking writing workshops – or not, getting an MFA – or not, writing a querying letter, proper etiquette with your editor, etc., etc., etc.).

So, while I don’t want to overwhelm the questors who come my way, I do want to point them in the right direction. I usually end up saying things like don’t give up. Keep at it. Find others like you. Pay attention to everything. And now I’m going to add “it doesn’t hurt to ask” to that list, just as they’ve asked me.

It can be very difficult to ask for or about anything. We’re always afraid of rejection – the big no – no date, no job, no story, no second chance. Plus, as much as we talk about free speech in this country, and our rights to it, the subliminal message is that a “good” girl or boy is one who doesn’t question anything; who simply does what their parent, teacher, employer, spouse, commanding officer asks of them. It’s ingrained in fairy tales and legends from several cultural outlooks. A good/pious/patriotic/virtuous person simply does what they’re told. Without question. And if they are good enough/patriotic enough/virtuous enough God or a fairy godmother or some other Deus ex Machina will come down, recognize how good and brave they’ve been and reward them accordingly. My shorthand for this is usually “maybe if I keep my mouth shut and head down they will go away or we won’t get in a fight this time…” (which never works for anyone’s information).

On top of all that, I think there’s a little bit of ego tied up in the unquestioning lifestyle. Some people think better of themselves if they don’t ask. Or they feel like other people will think that they’re stupid if they ask. Maybe they feel like their “manhood” or “womanhood” has been bruised or questioned if someone questions them about something or if they have to ask about something. They get irritated with other people who ask, thinking that, “I figured it out on my own, so you should, too!” Well, yeah. The questors are figuring it out. They’re asking about it to help themselves figure it out. They’re looking to you as a sign post. If you’re going to get your ego tied up in it, then look at it that way, rather than at the “nuisance” factor.

Oftentimes, not asking is actually the lazy way out. You won’t get a writing job or internship unless you ask – and keep on asking until you get one. Hell, you won’t even know they’re available unless you ask. You don’t get an editor to look at your story or poem until/unless you write a nice cover letter/query letter ASKING that they take a look at it. And if they won’t look at it, write another cover letter to another editor. You won’t find the right writers group or critique partner unless you ask around.

It’s the same with other parts of life. We all know that most of us get employment by going out and looking for it, not by sitting at home and waiting for it. If you’re broke and need help paying rent or getting groceries, how do you know whether or not there are people and programs out there that will help you unless you ASK. That man or woman that you’re interested in isn’t going to “know” you’re interested in them unless you ask them out. If you don’t know the price of something you ASK.

While I am a speculative fiction writer and do think that telepathy could be a rather cool (albeit dangerous) thing, the fact of the matter is that most of us do not possess that skill. We can’t read other people’s minds and they can’t read ours. We have to ask other people for information and sometimes they have to ask us.

Recently our apartment building has been undergoing inspections and I hate strangers in my abode with their street shoes on. Other places I have lived, I had a welcome mat where people could wipe the shoe crude off. We aren’t allowed mats in our apartment building. I was going to keep my mouth shut – “be a good girl” – compliant with the wishes of The Powers That Be. But, then I remembered that it can’t hurt to ask, hard as it is sometimes, because the answer will not always be pleasant. So, I picked up the phone and asked about people removing their shoes before entry into my apartment. And I found out that they can, sort of. They have booties they can wear for such requests. I wouldn’t have known that unless I asked. If you’re vegetarian or allergic or have other health considerations when dining out you also know the power of “it doesn’t hurt to ask.” That is the only way you can find out things. If you’ve ever needed help with anything – studying a topic, caring for someone who’s ill, caring for yourself when you’re ill, or even just time with a friend – then you know. It never hurts to ask.

In fact - frequently - people were waiting for you to do just that – just ask.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The G.O.D. Factor excerpt

If you’re haven’t ordered a copy of “The G.O.D. Factor,” yet cuz you’re still on the fence about it, then you can read an excerpt of it on Bewildering Stories here: http://www.bewilderingstories.com/issue442/godfactor_ex.html

You can buy it here: http://sdpbookstore.com/storybooks.htm#godfactor

And, as a reminder, if you live in Los Angeles, I’ll be signing copies at Chevalier’s, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., 90004, on Saturday, August 20 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What's in a Name?


Warning: Pretty good take off, but shaky landing on this one, so be prepared (in some respects, it's really kind of dorky). In which I discuss names, what they mean and how they effect us, and then read a poem, kind of named in reference to the Names Quilt.

Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTr7NX0Uzn0

Monday, August 1, 2011

City Music



This is the second poem published in the Summer 2010 issue of Poetry Quarterly, City Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaXtYYKRZRY. For more of my poetry, go to Putt Putt Productions (www.puttputtproductions.com). For more issues of Poetry Quarterly, go to www.poetryquarterly.org.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Family Coat



Bewildering Stories has published one of my short stories, "Family Coat," which is up in Issue 441.

You can read part 1 here: http://www.bewilderingstories.com/issue441/family_coat1.html

You can read part 2 here: http://www.bewilderingstories.com/issue441/family_coat2.html

"Family Coat" is the story of a young man who finds a way to break through his old fears and inhibitions from past and present hurts and problems and move forward in his life.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chasing the Blues Away



This poem, "Chasing the Blues Away," was originally written 10-15 years ago when I was hanging out in places like St. Nick's, the Snake Pit, Smalls, and Sloans (if you're from L.A., you might know about some of those, even if they are closed now). The poem, however, didn't find a home until it was accepted and published in the Summer 2010 issue of Poetry Quarterly (www.poetryquarterly.org). You can hear me reading the poem here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuZs3SWRq7M

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New short story out now in Beyond Centauri



Out now in the 9th Anniversary issue of Beyond Centauri (July 2011), is my short story, "Gramma and the Giant Tomato Worm." There was a bit of a mix up when it went to print and it reads "Rachel and the Giant Tomato Worm", but if you decide to get a copy just cross it out or think "Gramma", cuz it was written as a tribute to my gramma, Helen Christine Avant Oliver.

If you're not sure about getting this copy of Beyond Centauri, then click here to hear the beginning of the story and see if you'd like to have a go at it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"The G.O.D. Factor" update

I have posted some of this in bits and pieces in different parts of the interwebs–and put it up on my website as well–but thought I would put up a blog that updated everyone on things happening with "The G.O.D. Factor."

First of all, if you didn't hear, "The G.O.D. Factor" made Sam's Dot Publishing's bestseller's list for June 2011! Yay!

Second, if you're still on the fence about getting yourself a copy, then there are a couple of places where you can read about it, including Charles Gramlich's Razored Zen, Christina Rundle's blog, as well as in the July 2011 issue of the Larchmont Chronicle (click on the Larchmont Chronicle link to see the article) and the Illuminata.

And finally, if you happen to be in the Los Angeles area in August, I will be having a book signing at Chevalier's Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., on Saturday, August 20 from 1 to 3 p.m. If you are going to be in the LA area (and even if you've already bought the book) on August 20, I would love to have you drop by and say hi!

So, that's the news! Stay tuned for more information on "The G.O.D. Factor"!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One of my very first stories...

Disclaimer: This was supposed to be a vlog. I've been meaning to vlog, or post something, for the last couple of weeks (or at least since the week after "The G.O.D. Factor" came out). But, I got busy. Got distracted. And it's been hot, which means I've been feeling sweaty, uncomfortable and unattractive and not wanting to sit in front of any camera, let alone a tiny one embedded in my computer. Besides, all the fans going non-stop make for this background white noise that gets picked up by the sound and then it's all down hill from there....

So, just remember, this was supposed to be a vlog, but is now going to be a blog. And we'll see how soon I actually post it....

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Back in May, when I was posting my countdown vlogs to the release of my novella, I went digging through old photographs for pics for some of the material I was reading. I found a bunch of photos I had totally forgotten about in the process, shared them with some people, and then also, in the very bottom of the chest where I keep the photographs (in no particular order), I found what must be one of my very first stories or books. I thought people out there might get a kick out of seeing one of my first stories.

It had everything.

1) A compelling story (if you can read it, that is):


2) Action and illustration:
(I think this was supposed to be a kite, or maybe a monster?)


Walking along the road (I think those bumps on my head are supposed to be rubber bands for pony tails - or I was channeling Princess Leia way before her time):


At the beach (are those supposed to be musical trees? Trees in the shape of musical notes? I don't know.). And then on the next page (hard to see), I THINK that's supposed to be a Christmas tree and a wreath:



And then of course it has FAMILY. Here you see me and who I think is supposed to be my little sister (see, I even labeled it, "Rachel" and put a red bow on my head so you'd know it was ME.). And again with the musical notes, or maybe they're just supposed to be our golden slippers! Who knows?:


And then finally, me and my mom. My mom is the one with the purse, at the top. At least, that's what I'm assuming. And somehow the number "5" is involved in our day.


And we lived happily ever after, or so I'm assuming.

The End.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's HERE! Presenting, "The G.O.D. Factor"!




You've waited all day, and now here it is, "The G.O.D. Factor" out through Sam's Dot Publishing TODAY! You can find it here: http://sdpbookstore.com/storybooks.htm#godfactor . The artwork and cover design is done by Mitchell Bentley, Atomic Fly Studios! Hope you enjoy it and thank you for coming along for the ride. Now, BUY MY BOOK! ;-)

You can hear a portion of the story read here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxOv0iIf9fc

To hear a fun version of the gospel song referenced, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyU1ISgMcfs

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gramma and the Giant Tomato Worm and ONE MORE DAY!




It is May 31, 2011 and ONE (1!) day until the release of my novella, "The G.O.D. Factor" out through Sam's Dot Publishing. This is the next to last of my count down videos. I will be reading from a story that was accepted for publication by Beyond Centauri. You will be able to find it at the Sam's Dot Publishing bookstore (www.sdpbookstore.com) after it comes out in July 2011.

You can find the novella at sdpbookstore.com beginning June 1, 2011.

You can find me reading a scene from Gramma and the Giant Tomato Worm here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boJx-FsJiS0

Monday, May 30, 2011

Scary Things and Two More Days Until "The G.O.D. Factor"!



It is May 30, 2011 and TWO (2) days until the release of my novella, "The G.O.D. Factor" out through Sam's Dot Publishing. To count down the days I'm presenting a series of scifi videos. This one is a story I wrote, "Scary Things," published online at 2009 at Bewildering Stories (http://www.bewilderingstories.com/issue321/scary_things.html ).

You can hear part of "Scary Things" being read here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPYVWnAc2AM

You can find the novella at sdpbookstore.com beginning June 1, 2011.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Message and Three More Days Until "The G.O.D. Factor"!



It is May 29, 2011 and 3 (!) days until the release of my novella, "The G.O.D. Factor" out through Sam's Dot Publishing. To count down the days I'm presenting a series of scifi videos. This one is a poem I wrote, "The Message," that was published in Winter Canons this past winter at Midwest Literary Magazine (http://midwestliterarymagazine.com/books/anthologies/winter-canons/).

You can find me reading the poem here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIr6YmjcJpQ

You can find the novella at sdpbookstore.com beginning June 1, 2011.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Oracle of Themazuri and Four More Days Until "The G.O.D. Factor"!



It is May 28, 2011 and 4 days until the release of my novella, "The G.O.D. Factor" out through Sam's Dot Publishing. To count down the days I'm presenting a series of scifi videos. This one is a story I wrote, "The Oracle of Themazuri," that was published online in March 2011 at Mindflights.com (http://www.mindflights.com/item.php?sub_id=6902).

You can hear me reading from "The Oracle of Themazuri" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hytwm_E6mK4

You can find the novella at sdpbookstore.com beginning June 1, 2011.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Day in the Life of Iris and Five More Days Until "The G.O.D. Factor!"



It is May 27, 2011 and 5 days until the release of my novella, "The G.O.D. Factor" out through Sam's Dot Publishing. To count down the days I'm presenting a series of scifi videos. This one is a poem I wrote, "A Day in the Life of Iris," that was published in the September 2010 issue of Aoife's Kiss (available at sdpbookstore.com under magazines). It's based on the Goddess Iris/Aurora.

You can find the novella at sdpbookstore.com beginning June 1, 2011.

You can find the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buHPxAC6W3M

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Counting down the days...



It is May 26, 2011 and 6 days until the release of my novella, "The G.O.D. Factor" out through Sam's Dot Publishing. To count down the days I'm presenting a series of scifi videos. This one is a poem I wrote that was published in the Fall 2010 issue of Poetry Quarterly (available at poetryquarterly.com). Not even marginally scifi, but it'll have to do...

You can find the novella at sdpbookstore.com beginning June 1, 2011.

You can find the video of me reading the poem here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBC1Byrgid0

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One Week to Go...



...Until the release of my novella, "The G.O.D. Factor," a perfect story to read in these end times.... ;-)

To count down the days I'm presenting a series of scifi videos. This one is a scene I wrote for a contest. My MySpace friends and I used to have 500 word story contests to keep us writing. I wrote this for one for those blog contests. It's based on my childhood and some of the friends I had then.

And remember, you can find the novella at sdpbookstore.com beginning June 1, 2011.

You can find me reading my "story" (no title) here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-XGNsGMDNE





Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Eight More Days to the Release of "The G.O.D. Factor!"




It is May 24, 2011 and 8 days until the release of my novella, "The G.O.D. Factor" out through Sam's Dot Publishing. To count down the days I'm presenting a series of scifi videos. This one is a poem I wrote that was published in the November 2010 issue of Scifaikuest (available through Sam's Dot Publishing). You can find the novella at sdpbookstore.com beginning June 1, 2011.

You can find me reading my poem Found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnGrOhhF7xM

Monday, May 23, 2011

T-9 Days and Counting to Release of "The G.O.D. Factor"!




It is May 23, 2011 and 9 days until the release of my novella, "The G.O.D. Factor" out through Sam's Dot Publishing. To count down the days I'm presenting a series of scifi videos. This one is a poem I wrote that was published on Everyday Weirdness on January 17, 2010. You can find the novella at sdpbookstore.com beginning June 1, 2011.

You can find the video of me reading the poem here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCVGQxwknMw