I LOVE R.L. Merrill. You'll probably hear me say this a lot about authors because they are amazing people, all with different personal stories to tell. However R.L. makes everyone feel like they're her best friend. She's honest, reflective, funny as hell, and R.L. is the best cheerleader-for-authors that has ever lived. And, of course, she's also a fabulous writer!
At age 45, my body is at least 50-60% covered with ink. I started my tattoo collection at age 20 and I’m still not done. In fact, I have an incredible back piece of a Phoenix rising from the flames and a pile of skulls that is not completely colored in. You could say that, in and of itself, is a metaphor for my life. I’m not done with my evolution. But my first experience, as is with everyone who gets tattooed, is something I will never forget.
I attended college in Lamoni, Iowa, which is a tiny place about three miles north of the Missouri border on I-35. I spent four years there, and while most of it was incredible, I spent two of those years involved in a relationship that, in a lot of ways, was a step back for me in my maturation process. Once out of the relationship, I decided to finally do something for myself that I’d wanted to do for a very long time.
After two years in this relationship, I walked away with my health and sanity, but not many friends. I’d been out of the dorms for two years, so the few friends I’d had moved on with their lives for the most part. But I had this one friend, Chris, who was instrumental in helping me through the end of that school year and for that I’ll forever be in her debt.
She had the obligatory ankle tattoo and I was like, “I need a tattoo. Like now. Before I go home for the summer.” Which in hindsight was kinda dumb since so many amazing tattoo artists live in the Bay Area, but I was determined. Chris told me she’d gotten hers done in Des Moines at a shop I can’t even remember the name of, and she said she’d take me one weekend before I headed home.
We arrived, with an appointment I believe, on a sunny spring afternoon and waited to be taken back. We waited quite a while. There was some employee shuffling around behind the counter that had Chris and I raising our eyebrows at each other before the big dude in charge came out and said, “He’ll take you back.”
“He” turned out to be “The Apprentice.” I’ll call him Newb for the purpose of this post. Newb was a short, thin guy with a long reddish beard and long scraggly brown hair. He was probably in his late thirties, he mumbled when he talked and his hands shook. Now, I never quite found out how long he’d been apprenticing, but let’s just say he was INEXPERIENCED.
Being the impulsive person I am that is determined to do things just a little different, I told the guy, “I would like an Earth on the side of my hip.” I brought in a little design. It was about the size of a silver dollar, okay maybe a silver dollar pancake, and I wanted it to be colored in blue and green. He took the scrap of paper from me, fumbled with it, held it up to my hip bone (which was still visible back then. Before two children. Probably sixty pounds ago), and then left to make the stencil.
I’m sure I asked Chris some questions about what to expect, which she probably answered, but what commenced was an hour and a half of what-the-fuckery that thankfully I’ve not had repeated on my person since then.
Newb worked for a very, very long time on the outline. The dude-in-charge came by to check on him many times and scolded him for not “stretching the skin” enough. At one point I had two dudes stretching the skin of my fairly flat belly so that Newb could get the outline done. It was uncomfortable but not horribly painful, but I was mortified by the two dudes leaning over my stomach while Newb’s beard actually tickled my exposed skin. Ew.
Like I said, I’ve had many hours in the chair since my first time, but this one I will never forget. When Newb was finished, I stood up and had what appeared to be like an egg-shaped blue and green splotch with awkwardly drawn continents on it. I paid probably fifty bucks for it? We said thank you, and Chris and I got back into her car to drive the hour or so back to Lamoni, mostly trying to figure out what had just happened. She felt terrible, but I was like, “hey! I got my first tattoo. It’s here and it’s not going anywhere, and I love it. It’s my commitment to make this world a better place, however I can.”
And that Earth still remains on my hip, although it’s had major tectonic shifts after two pregnancies and weight gain. It’s still bright blue and green, the color having hardly faded after 25 years. I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s a reminder to me of all that I’ve been through, all that I’ve committed to, and all I hope to accomplish with this life I’ve been given.
Thanks, Karysa, for having me on the blog today. If you want to know more about my crazy world of Rock ‘n’ Romance, you can find me on my website, Twitter, or on Facebook. Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance!
R.L. Merrill started writing in 2009 in order to deal with some not-so-pleasant life situations and to escape from the icky parts of being a responsible adult. It's turned into a very fulfilling way to spend her minuscule amount of free time and has mostly kept her sane. Her stories involve real life struggles and the romance that gets us through. Her novels are influenced and inspired by her own experiences as well as those of folks around her that she admires and respects for their strength and perseverance. She's lived in the San Francisco Bay Area her whole life, with the exception of the four very good years she spent in rural Iowa during college. She's been an educator for twenty-three years as both a teacher and school counselor, and has spent time working closely with police and non-profit agencies as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate. She is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, tattoo collector, Metal fan, movie geek and book nerd, and she currently presides over a horde of animals consisting of two cats, a dog, various fish varieties, and a ball python. Merrill writes contemporary, paranormal, and historical horror.
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~March 13, 2015
Everyone deserves a second chance in life.
After receiving yet another pink slip, teacher Jesse Martin is desperate for a way to make ends meet. When her principal offers her a Home Instructor position for the summer, she finds herself giving a second chance to an angry, reclusive, rock god living in the Hollywood Hills.
Danny Black should have it all. But an unbalanced ex-wife, a troubled pre-teen daughter, and a threat to his livelihood have him ready to make some major changes. Never one to back down from a challenge, he'll take on this stubborn, beautiful teacher who seems immune to his “gimme” smile, and attempt to win her heart in the process.
Can Jesse accept that this time, offering someone a second chance will change her life for the better? Will she embrace the life Danny is offering her and discover that when it comes to life’s lessons, sometimes love is the best teacher?
This novel is for readers 18+ due to the hijinks of some hairy and perverted neighbors, a no-nonsense personal assistant with a foul mouth, a fragile pre-teen going through some real drama, and plenty of good, good lovin’. Add these together and you’ve got all the makings of a crazy, real-life Rock n’ Romance!