Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dear 2016: So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight

I’ve been hearing bad things about 2016. For me, it was so-so. So much so-so, that when I think back, I get nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Maybe it was worse (or better) than I remember. Hmm, let's see...

Yes, many of our icons died in 2016. In the last few days, two of my favorites – Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. So many actors. So many musicians. Most from my era. Most near my age.
Then there was my brother, Bill, who passed on June 19th from a heart attack that would probably not have been fatal had his girlfriend bothered to call 911 rather than waiting forty-five minutes to see if he would rouse.

I did go to the Keys in May with my sister and brother-in-law, stayed in a condo on the water (named Fins to the Left), saw a manatee up close, and several resident iguanas, ate seafood outside at sunset and sat on a spit of beach covered in seaweed.

In June I moved. To Far-Far Away. From Georgia to Idaho, in time to experience their worst winter since who knows when. The last four weeks I’ve remained at home. In the house. Where it’s warm. And am just beginning to venture out in the car.

During the long, long move, I drove (alone, except for Bugsy, my cat) from Atlanta to Cheyenne, Wyoming, until my car broke down nine miles from the night’s destination – my niece’s home - where I vacationed for the next three weeks.

2016 saw my Twitter induction. I opened an author account in February after a recommendation from Chuck Sambuchino at a Writer’s (Digest) Workshop in Atlanta. I’m now up to 2100-plus followers and have met many cool authors and bookworld people along the way.

Through Twitter I scored a live query workshop with French Press Bookworks and author, James Stryker, getting exposure as an author and great feedback on my query letter. Dionne Abouelela encouraged me to dust off That Rebel. So I did just that and am posting here weekly (rather than every few months), and some weeks even hit my goal of two posts.

Also in the stretch-and-do-something-new-and-different category, I’m helping my bro-in-law divide his fifty-minute instructional fly-tying video into segments – short videos that will be uploaded to SendOwl (soon) for sale. Once this project is complete, we’ll get his Fly-Tying YouTube channel up and running, monetizing that.

At the same time, I created a YouTube channel for my VLOG (basically a blog, but in video), which is on the back-burner, except for occasional, random posts. I have great plans for it in 2017.

Last, but definitely not least, I finished Blessed Are the Peace Makers, Coming Home (after six-plus years) and wrote another chunk of BATPM, Coming To (Book Two in the trilogy/series). I am currently rereading Book One for finishing-touches and will begin seeking representation when my query letter is polished and ready.

YEEEEHAAAA!!

Toward that end, I have the perfect agent in mind – Sara Megibow of KT Literary out of Denver. I “met” her on Twitter during NaNoWriMo and (be still my heart) she invited me to query. So you can bet hers will be my first. (Am I crazy for going for my dream agent first?)

So there you have it. My 2016 in a nutshell.

Other than Bill dying, not having an income due to a day-time-job crisis, freezing my buns off, being leery of driving in the snow/ice, going back on Prozac for some situational depression, having no local friends because of my hermit/writer lifestyle and missing the ones in Georgia, 2016 wasn’t half-bad.

In fact, parts of it were quite good. Like the stuff I’ve mentioned. Getting to see my sister several times a week. Finding my nearing-publication-author-legs. Overcoming camera-shyness. Learning to take, edit and produce videos. Having a newer home that is dry, has carpet and new tile and a covered parking place with great neighbors. Plus, the depression is lifting, yeehaa!

That said, I’ll be happy to see 2016 to the door, and am anticipating a fabulous 2017. A year of new beginnings. The Year of the Rooster*. My yearA big year. I feel it in my bones.

Happy New Year!

That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell (writing as O.J. Barré)

P.S. If you're curious about Roosters (my Chinese sign), read this.

P.P.S. Sorry about the funky fonts, sizing and spacing, Blogger is being wonky tonight.

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming Blessed Are the Peace Makers trilogy. Book One, Coming Home, is in final edits. The first draft of Book Two, Coming To, is nearing completion and Book Three, Coming Full Circle, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Peace On Earth

Hello ye Rebels, I've missed you.

I'm sneaking in to drop a wee line and since we're smack in the middle of end-of-year holidays, I'm sharing part of a post from December 2010. Click to read the original.

Here's the excerpt:

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 me.

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

Hmm. Let it begin with me. I hope you enjoyed the post from Christmas 2010. Look for a new one this Thursday (the 29th).

That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell (writing as O.J. Barré)

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming Blessed Are the Peace Makers trilogy. Book One, Coming Home, is in final edits. The first draft of Book Two, Coming To, is nearing completion and Book Three, Coming Full Circle, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

"Boy: A Journey" – The Adventures of Becoming a Productive Rebel

Today That Rebel is honored to host author James Stryker. You remember James, right? He is the query-ninja who, along with Dionne Abuoelela of Penname Publishing, gave me that great feedback in the Query Workshop a few weeks ago. James's new book Boy: A Journey releases four days from now (Monday, December 19th) and is available for pre-order by clicking any one of its links. 

Thank you to James who took the extra time to look at how his character might be considered a Rebel. Please open your minds and hearts to James Stryker and his new book, Boy: A Journey.

Take it James:

The deeper I’ve ventured into Internet rabbit holes of thoughts on rebellion, the more at home I feel being a guest on That Rebel with a Blog. Many of my writings showcase rebellion – Assimilation, my debut novel, actually features a first-definition-listed-in-the-dictionary rebel with the main characters rising against the authority of an organization. But my forthcoming release, Boy: AJourney, takes a different spin on the concept of rebellion.

In his book-length essay, The Rebel, philosopher Albert Camus writes “What is a rebel? A man who says no, but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. He is also a man who says yes, from the moment he makes his first gesture of rebellion.” At its core, my novel is a story of individuals who said “yes and no simultaneously.”

The resistance within Boy:A Journey begins before the main character, Luke, even exists. After his father Jay’s sudden death, Luke hears about the first step in rebellion from [an enigmatic stranger] Tom, Jay’s childhood friend: 

“What if you could never leave the stage? What if you were forced to stay there? To keep performing. To keep playing a character? However much the people praised and admired you, I guarantee eventually that spotlight would burn you alive.”

Luke nodded as if he understood.

“This is the pièce de résistance. This was the night. This was the moment, if you like. He’d finally decided that it was enough. He launched himself off that stage without knowing where he’d land, or caring if anyone would catch him.”

The character Jay refused to play any longer was the role of a female. Throughout Boy: A Journey, Luke learns how the repercussions of Jay’s rebellion against his gender assignment are without the destructive connotations the word rebellion typically carries. Even as Jay said no, his actions carried no abandon but rather consistent progress toward his goal – to build a meaningful life aligning with his true male identity.

While Jay’s journey is complete almost as soon as the book opens, Luke must confront a similar internal struggle to become a productive rebel. Driven by aspirations of Broadway stardom, Luke has felt pitted against his father for years, believing that Jay never supported his dream. On returning home after a year of self-imposed exile, Luke still nurtures the dream of dramatic triumph over Jay’s perceived expectations for him:   

He’d land a lead role in a huge production. Carnegie Hall. A big, classic Broadway show with his name on a marquee in huge letters. And then he’d call his father to rub the success in his face.

Luke doesn’t have a problem being a man who says no, but his rebellion fails in the latter half of Camus’s thoughts on a rebel – his refusal is accompanied by surrender and a lack of ambition to create something better for himself.

As Luke seeks answers about Jay’s hidden past as a transgender man, he is guided by another man well-acquainted with forms of rebellion, his father’s best friend, Tom. Like Jay, Tom hasn’t been hesitant to strike out on his own path; however, the argument could be made that he was never able to overcome implications of a renunciation:

It was a cliché, stereotypical scenario. Tom had moved into the neighborhood, and in the house next door lived the slender, beautiful girl with long dark hair and light-colored eyes. His parents had been thrilled—maybe this girl could knock the “gay thing” out of their otherwise exceptional son. Tom had fallen. And he’d never been able to pick himself back up.  

Now in the end stages of terminal cancer, Tom is faced with the consequences of a life spent in incomplete rebellion. He’s broken the mold, but by failing to move forward. The novel opens as he considers if there is even any merit in continuing what he calls “his pathetic existence.”

A final thing Camus said of the rebel is “[it’s] those who know how to rebel, at the appropriate moment, against history, who really advance its interests.” Boy: A Journey is Luke’s moment. In re-discovering the man he thought he knew, he must navigate the examples of rebellion set before him and determine his own path.

For my friend, O.J. Barré’s audience of rebels, I hope you’ll check out Boy: A Journey when it releases from NineStar Press on December 19th

Thank you, James. It sounds like Luke, Jay and Tom are definitely rebels. Good luck with your upcoming launch and please check back with us down the road a month or two to let us know how it's going!

Thanks to all you Rebel readers! Have a glorious day!

That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell (writing as O.J. Barré)

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming Blessed Are the Peace Makers trilogy. Book One, Coming Home, is in final edits. The first draft of Book Two, Coming To, is nearing completion and Book Three, Coming Full Circle, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Peace Maker Progress

It’s a rainy Saturday, following on the heels of a snowy week. A good day to stay home and write.

My manuscripts haven’t been touched in ten days. Ouch. Guess I (or they) needed a rest. I have been doing research, mostly via YouTube videos, and am happy to report that I hit the mother lode.

Last night, climbing into bed very early, I opened one of my reference books. After the YouTube payola, the passages I read spurred a slew of plot twists for Book Two, setting the stage for the beginning of Book Three and reinforcing the overall theme for the series.

Yes, you read that right. The series. Because in the midst of the week’s research, it occurred to me that a Book Four might be needed.

Huh. Imagine that.

Who knew one tiny little idea, received in 2010 whilst meditating on that porch in the North Georgia Mountains, would morph into a four-hundred-thousand-word behemoth?

Certainly not me.

But I am grateful. I am grateful to the Idea Fairy and to the Genius within that grabbed the idea and ran, throwing plot points and characters and themes and settings at me so fast and furiously I had to pay attention, though I was in the middle of writing a completely-different novel.

I put that novel down and started this series, the Blessed Are the Peace Makers series.

Now it’s six-plus years later and Peace Makers is coming to fruition. Book Two is set aside for a week or so while I focus on final edits for Book One, incorporating the excellent feedback from my betas.

Then I will begin the query process for Book One and proceed with Books Two, Three and Four, if a fourth is indeed warranted.

Have a great day!

That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell (writing as O.J. Barré)

P.S. On the mental and emotional front, I seem to be emerging from the bog of depression, anxiety and panic. Yeehaa! Thank you to the team at Terry Reilly here in Nampa, Idaho, and to my sister and brother-in-law, whose support is helping me get back on my feet.

O.J. Barré is the author of the Blessed Are the Peace Makers trilogy. Book One, Coming Home, is in final edits. The first draft of Book Two, Coming To, is nearing completion and Book Three, Coming Full Circle, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Pre-Move Soliloquy

I wrote this quick "poem" on June 21st, two days before my move from Georgia to Idaho. Though I started packing two months earlier, and my sister flew in from Idaho to help, that last week was a killer. Literally. Keep reading.

D-Day minus two.
Much done.
Much left to do.
Friends pitching in
Bringing food
Love
Understanding.
In the middle
Of it all,
Bill died.
My brother, Bill.
I can’t talk
Or write
About it yet.
No time
To fall apart
So no tears
Though they sneak
Out in the morning
Before the steel
Curtain clicks
Into place.
Blessed numbness
You are a
Life saver.
Work.
Get it done.
Last day of packing
Receiving guests.
Git ‘er done
As Bill would say.
Git 'er done.

That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell (writing as O.J. Barré)

P.S. I still haven't stopped to grieve. Or maybe, though I loved him, there's nothing to mourn. Bill and I weren't close, never were, though over the last ten years we talked a lot more and I saw him occasionally. I do miss knowing he's out there. But unlike when Jon and Mama died, I'm not overcome. Which is good, I guess. But weird. 

O.J. Barré is the author of the Blessed Are the Peace Makers trilogy. Book One, Coming Home, is in final edits. The first draft of Book Two, Coming To, is nearing completion and Book Three, Coming Full Circle, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Life is a Game, Keep Playing

Lately I alternate between terror and gratitude, spending most days somewhere in between. On one hand, I know I will be okay, my needs will be met, I won’t be homeless, my heater will be fixed and my aging car will pass the upcoming emissions test.

On the other hand, nope, I’m not going there, even to write this post. But at times, I am scared, angry, worried, helpless and hopeless. On these days I crawl into bed early and pull the covers over my head.

One way I de-stress, a few minutes at a time, is playing Spider Solitaire on my iPhone. Recently I’ve hit a losing streak. A long, long losing streak.

Yesterday (or was it the day before), frustrated at yet another Spider-loss, I told myself aloud, “Keep playing.”

Why? Because experience has shown that eventually, usually soon, I will win.

As the words left my mouth, I heard what I said. A connection occurred, a live-affirming, you’re-on-the-right-track AHA moment.

KEEP PLAYING!

Because eventually, hopefully soon, I will win this game of life. The dark clouds will dissipate or blow over, the skies will clear, the depression will lift and that steady source of income will manifest.

But I cannot quit. I cannot give up. I cannot give in. I MUST keep playing in order to win.

So keep playing, I shall. For the Win!

That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell (writing as O.J. Barré)

P.S. If you are struggling to make it (whatever your “it” is), or have reached the end of your struggles and have wisdom to share, please leave a note in the comments. There is magic in sharing. I promise.

O.J. Barré is the author of the Blessed Are the Peace Makers trilogy. Book One, Coming Home, is in final edits. The first draft of Book Two, Coming To, is nearing completion and Book Three, Coming Full Circle, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Hallelujah

A few years ago, I moved to the small town I grew up in, Villa Rica, Georgia. At Thanksgiving that year, I was struggling to get my business going, living in a one-bedroom house with little insulation and a crappy heater. It was a tough time, but beautiful in its simplicity. And no tougher than the challenges I face now.

I can't help but wonder as I look back over my years on this blue and green planet: did I have so many ecstatic lifetimes that I chose to suffer in this one?

This feels true. But whatever the answer, it matters not. I am here. Suck it up. Make lemonade. Shine the light. Be grateful. Help another. Smile and get up. Carry on. 

It gets harder, I tell you. But I know that one day soon, the sun will shine on my life once more, and I'll be happy and loving life.

This is a post I wrote for Thanksgiving 2011. I hope you enjoy.

My friend, Ivy Bliss, mentioned Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah on Facebook this morning. Somehow, from that, I proceeded to listen to four or five different versions of this soulful, evocative song. The melody haunts, lifts, lowers and crawls, then rises up again in hallelujah.

I kept coming back to Leonard Cohen's version. It is his song, after all. He wrote it. Everyone else's? Great covers. Jeff's. Kd Lang's. Rufus Wainwright's.

But, the angels in the background (both human and organ-ic) and Leonard's breathy voice stumbling out monotone, clipped words of agony and ecstasy do something to me that the other versions don't quite achieve: it wrings tears from the cockles of my heart. Hallelujah.

Click here to listen: Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen.

My prayer today is that you find the blessing in every moment. Better yet, the Hallelujah.

Happy Thanksgiving ~ Olivia J. Herrell/O.J. Barre'

P.S. We lost Leonard Cohen in 2016, along with many other people, including my big brother. My heart cries, not for the dearly departed, but for those of us left behind in this uncertain world. Hallelujah.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

HOPE

Hope
v. hoped, hop·ing, hopes
v.intr.
1. To wish for a particular event that one considers possible: We are hoping for more financial support.
2. Archaic To have confidence; trust.
v.tr.
To desire and consider possible: I hope that you will join us for dinner. We hope to buy a house in the spring. See Synonyms at expect.
n.
1.a. The longing or desire for something accompanied by the belief in the possibility of its occurrence: He took singing lessons in the hope of performing in the musical.
  b. An instance of such longing or desire: Her hopes of becoming a doctor have not changed.
2.  A source of or reason for such longing or desire: Good pitching is the team's only hope for victory.
3. often Hope Christianity The theological virtue defined as the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God's help.
4. Archaic Trust; confidence.

After my despairing post, I thought it wise to follow with the flipside. The despair-buster, HOPE.

Soon after I published "Despair", I received an email from the teacher of the creative writing class I recently attended. The subject line proclaimed: Editing Job. She went on to explain the position is online, editing dry (I believe her words were "very dry") material, but the pay is good, hours flexible, work at home, and it would pay the bills.

In spite of this serendipitous in-box arrival, by mid-afternoon my despair had developed an obsessive edge. To escape the looping lunatic in my head, I had to leave the house. Get out. Change perspectives.

So I, with laptop, drove to Flying M, took a table in the slanted-sun (because all the tables are sun-drenched in the afternoon this time of year), and ordered a brewed (herbal) tea and my current addiction, a no-bake chocolate cookie.

Halfway through tea and cookie (and yes, I ate it all), my sister appeared, done with her service commitment for the day. She had read my despair post. And that’s what sister’s do. Which is why I’m in Idaho in the first place.

Suffice it to say, that by the time we both left, an hour-plus later, the loony was silenced. I came home and finished my editing resume, plus cover letter, which, considering I’ve never edited professionally, turned out quite well.

By the time my head hit my newly-flannelled pillow, I had confirmation of another month’s reprieve, which gives me time to pursue other avenues of income, like this editing job and Don's Fantasy Fly project.

No, I haven’t emailed the resume. I’m waiting for the company name to include in the salutation. I am sorely tempted to send it without one. But if you watched the Author Query Workshop with Dionne AbouelelaEditor at Penname Publishing, one of her pet peeves is receiving a vaguely-addressed letter.*

But back to the topic. Hope. Not that we’ve ever left it.

I have moved from despair to hope, and that is a good thing.

And doesn't it always work that way?

Hope is the ultimate despair buster. Hope trumps despair. Every time.

And hallelujah for that!


That Rebel ~ O.J. Barré

*Turns out, I must email my resume sans company name. Oh well. Good thoughts and prayers if you would, please!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Despair

Despair:
de·spair; dəˈsper/
noun
1. the complete loss or absence of hope.
"driven to despair, he throws himself under a train"
Synonyms: hopelessness, disheartenment, discouragement, desperation, distress, anguish, unhappiness
verb
1. lose or be without hope.
"we should not despair"
Synonyms: lose hope, abandon hope, give up, lose heart, lose faith, be discouraged, be despondent, be demoralized, resign oneself

Despair.

I understand why some people die and why others go as far as to take their own lives.

Despair.

The first example sentence says it all. “Driven to despair, he throws himself under a train.”

I am in despair. And I can tell you, I understand. And even think of, well, let’s not go there.

Most likely you’ve inferred from my last several posts that everything in my life is hunky dory. While Draft Three of Book One is finished (and the feedback so far is excellent), and I am making headway on the second half of Book Two, my money has run out and my mental and physical health preclude me from building a new chiropractic practice, or even to continue pursuing that trade. (Due to panic attacks and/or moderate to severe hip pain every time I try it.)

I had a line on a server job at a new (and yummy) restaurant, and yesterday was offered the job. But I’m almost sixty (omg that sounds old!) and my body is feeling every minute of it, so I had to turn it down. Despair.

Nothing a little money won't fix. My expenses are low. But even low, they must be paid. Despair.

I guess I am lucky. Many people live their lives in quiet despair, doggedly forging on. But I am not those people. For me, despair is crushing, debilitating, while the other side holds no worry over bills, or homelessness, or being a burden. Despair.

I have reached the end and don’t know what to do.

I will meet with family this evening or tomorrow, but his work is tenuous, too. I could sell my chiropractic table and get by for another month or so, but the market is small, nearly nonexistent. That could take months, or years, by which time that train and I would already have met. (In fact, I can hear the whistle around the bend.)

Oh, to have the last twenty-five years back. To get a redo on careers and say HELL NO to chiropractic school and the immense cost I've paid physically, as well as financially - foregoing retirement, vacations, opportunities and left with nothing but destitution and crippling debt. Despair.

I’ve come face-to-face with an awful truth: for sixteen of the eighteen years since chiropractic school, I have lived at, or near, poverty level. Only two of those years have provided the level of income I abandoned to attend chiropractic school.

So, yes. I despair.

And nothing but a hand-up (a job, money, good thoughts, prayers) will help. 

That Rebel, O.J. Barré 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

That Rebel is LIVE (via VLOG), Overcoming Writer's (Or Any) Block

Good morning, All!

Now that I am living in Idaho (and the world is my oyster) I have made several major decisions and life choices that I will be sharing with you. Today I talk about one.

I created a YouTube channel in my author penname, one I will use to VLOG.

A VLOG is a BLOG, only in video version. This is something I have feared, but doing the live workshop with French Press Bookworks and James Stryker finally freed me from that terror.

I don't have to be beautiful. The video doesn't have to be perfect. I don't have to be clever. Or charming. Or anything else.

I just get to be myself.

This past weekend, I recorded my first VLOG. Faced with the prospect of being days behind on my word count for @NaNoWriMo 2016, I realized why.

In order for me to write, the story must first live in my head. Once I see it, I can create it through words. But until then, I'm screwed and can't write a decent sentence. Though I'd been back through my notes, the threads dangled loosely in my mind and refused to come together.*

So here, my friends, is my first VLOG. What I do to overcome writer's block, to release the muse, that genius in my head/soul that grabs the ideas and creates beautiful worlds through words.

But it's also for anyone who has hit a wall and are unable to continue, whatever the issue.

No, it is not perfect. I am still learning. I now know to hold my iPhone sideways in landscape mode so that the image isn't squeezed to the middle of the frame. (If you're viewing it mobile, there's an icon you can press in the lower right corner (on my iPhone, anyway) that will allow the video to fill your whole screen.)

CLICK HERE TO WATCH MY VLOG!

I hope you enjoy! And please subscribe to my YouTube channel, you won't be inundated with spam. I promise.

But you will help me out. And that is greatly appreciated.

That Rebel ~ O.J. Barre'

Saturday, November 5, 2016

How I Scored a Query Workshop (with French Press Bookworks)

As I mentioned a few days ago, last week I "stumbled upon" a free Query Workshop - ON TWITTER! To celebrate finishing Draft 3 of Blessed Are the Peace Makers, Coming Home, I enrolled and cobbled together a quick query letter and emailed it to James Stryker (guest query ninja) and French Press Bookworks, the brilliant host.

A Free Query Workshop - Yeeehaaa!
For those who don’t know, a query is a one-page cover letter sent to prospective agents and publishers to gain interest in an author’s manuscript. The query typically accompanies a 1-3 page synopsis of your novel and/or a sample, say the first three to fifty pages (depending on the particular agent or editor).

If your query sucks, the rest probably won’t get read. So you can see how important a query letter is to the author pursuing a traditional publishing contract.

I expected to be one of several attending what I thought was an online workshop, so you can imagine my surprise when it was recorded LIVE on Google Hangouts and I, and my query, were the only guests. (Had I poked around a little prior to what was actually an Author Workshop, I probably would have figured this out.)

Before the workshop, I had dinner at my sister's and ran home with only twenty minutes to spare. Changing in to my pj's, robe and old Koolaburra's (like Uggs only handmade in Australia), I had enough time to access Dionne Abouelela's email, download the Google Hangouts app on my iPhone and click in.

There was Dionne, headphones on, live and in color and me in my pj's and robe. Seeing myself in the screen, I shucked my tell-tale robe because, well, for obvious reasons. Suffice it to say, I was ecstatic to have Dionne and James to myself, but mortified that my first online appearance as an author is with me in my pj's, freshly washed-and-oiled face and hair that hadn't seen a brush since morning.

I kid you not. If nothing else, it'll be a great story to tell when I am rich and famous. Plus, not knowing in advance kept me from being nervous. At all. Ever. Not once.

So yay for me (and boo for me).

Dionne Abouelela and James Stryker were fabulous, their feedback, helpful and encouraging. I was so stoked I couldn't fall sleep until the wee hours of the morning. Our Query Workshop is available for viewing on French Press Bookworks's website and YouTube, and now you can link to it through That Rebel with a Blog.

If you're in the query process, I encourage you to watch. All aspects of a query letter are addressed, using mine as an example. If you're not in the query process, I encourage you to watch. You can see me in pj's and hear Bugsy (my cat) join the show.

Either way, watch the Author Workshop with me, author of Blessed Are the Peace Makers, Coming Home, Dionne Abouelela, French Press Bookworks and editor at Penname Publishing, and James Stryker, author of Assimilation and other soon-to-be-published books.

Enjoy our Author Workshop. I did!

~ That Rebel, O.J. Barre (aka Olivia)

To view the Query Workshop, click one of the links above or CLICK HERE.

Connect with Dionne Abouelela and French Press Bookworks: Twitter @FPBookworks or FrenchPressBookworks.com

Connect with James Stryker: Twitter @JStryker21 or JamesStryker.com

Connect with me: Twitter @OJBarreAuthor 

Monday, October 31, 2016

No Tricks. TREAT!!!

Double Rainbow Over Nampa, Idaho 10/30/2016

I did it! Draft 3 of Blessed Are the Peace Makers, Coming Home is complete. Yeeehaaaaa!

As it stands, the word count is 104,300 or about 500 pages published.

I emailed the manuscript to five different readers and am anxiously awaiting feedback from each. Fingers crossed these guys and gals will love it and get back to me quickly.

I do need a few author-readers. Are any of you interested in reading my fairly-well edited Southern Fantasy?

To celebrate, I enrolled (via Twitter) in a free query workshop with French Press Bookworks and author James Stryker, the query ninja. After finishing the draft on Tuesday last, I cobbled together a quick query letter and emailed it to James and French Press. (Look for a post later this week for details and a video of what turned out to be a live Author Roundtable with me as guest!)

Also, I signed up today for NaNoWriMo 2016 which starts…TOMORROW…to complete the last 50,000 words of the second novel in the trilogy, Blessed Are the Peace Makers, Coming To. I'll be counting on you guys to stop by That Rebel and cheer me on.

Much has changed in my life these last months, but the burning desire to get Blessed out and in to your hands has not. To further that, I will be posting here at That Rebel weekly. My goal is twice a week, though the days will float depending on my life and schedule.

I need your help. If I show up, will you? I can’t do it without you. 

As always, thank you for stopping by That Rebel, and for your comments, blog-love and support.

I'll see you in few days,

That Rebel, OJ Barré

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Loving So Much It Hurts

I had Mexican today. By myself, though I rarely eat Mexican alone. It is one food that’s better when shared. Like sushi. Or hibachi.

As the hostess walked away, I laid my hand on the menu and was overwhelmed by the memory of being in Lupe’s with a man I love, a man who slipped away to another plane of existence, two-years back.
2006ish-Port Hueneme Air Show

As I wait for the server, I see on Facebook that his daughter, also dear, has posted how much she’s missing him. And I swear, Harold Richland is sitting beside me, flipping through the menu, knowing he will order Chili Colorado when the waitress shows.

I am in La Bamba, on a different coast, to write while I eat, as I often do. But the love wells up, in to my throat, and the food is hard to swallow.

Harold I miss you.

That’s all.

I miss you.

And I love you, still, so much that it hurts.

~ O.J. Barré

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Saying NO

I’m doing it.
MY thing.
Not yours.
Not hers.
Not theirs.
Mine.
My thing.
My thing is to write.
I’m a writing fool.
Not a saleswoman,
A writer.
My spare time,
Be it physical,
Mental or emotional,
Is for writing.
A head filled with
Tasks, phone calls, texts,
Meetings, Facebook pages,
Order-taking, customer service,
And work, work, work,
Is not conducive to
The writing process.
So the answer is No.
Once and for all:
No.
I am not a saleswoman.
I am a writer.
Writing is my passion.
My precious.
My own.

~ OJ Barre'


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A WRITER’S CRISIS OF FAITH

Who am I?
What am I?
And why?

I’m wondering. Have I shot myself in the foot, screwed my pooch, flubbed my dub?

There is an author, Delilah S. Dawson, who is widely-read and telling it like it is. I had time this morning to read the beginning of her “Catcall”. Whether creative nonfiction or short-story, I want to go back, to finish. Because the lead-in is that good.


As I march through the days, weeks, months and years, diligently giving time to the massive project that is “Blessed Are the Peace Makers-The Trilogy”, I ignore that which I’ve been told is my forte: the ability to tell the truth in a relatable, and sometimes stark, clarity.

And I mourn.

Because that, my friend, fed me. Filled me.

By emptying my guts, I redeem my soul, one story at a time.

Telling my journal is not the same. Yes, it gets my thoughts and hopes and dreams on paper and out of my head. But it doesn’t bring the depth of awareness that polishing each word for public consumption gives, nor the satisfaction of others relating.

Have I lost my bearings by ignoring my friends’ (Elliot Grace, Eric W. Trant, Roland Yeomans, Andrew T. Post and other gutsy writers*) advice to embrace creative nonfiction? Have I missed the mark by throwing everything in to one fiction/fantasy project and turning my back on that which I know feeds my soul?

Holy cannoli. I have.

So now what?

Periodically, I contemplate revamping "That Rebel" and giving to it that which it deserves: an owner who loves it, and hugs it, and pets it, and squeezes it, and calls it George. Well. Maybe not George. I kinda like "That Rebel". But you get my drift.


The Abominable Snow Bunny

What holds me back?

Don’t laugh.

There are/were people reading my words that I prefer not to know me. Or my business. The fellow who proclaimed he was madly in love when we broke-up, then two weeks later moved a match (dot) com-woman in to the house I helped him pick out. My brother’s girlfriend. And…

Huh. Is that all? Two people? I let two freaking people keep me away from my love? What the hay-diddle-diddle?

That’s it. Screw it. This stops today.

But there will be changes.

I’ve taken a pen name, a pseudonym, a nom de plume, my official author-name. Call me O.J. O.J. Barré. Nice to meet you.


There will be other changes. More articles, more regularly. On a myriad of topics, not just writing. A new look. Who knows? Sky's the limit.

That Rebel ~ O. J. Barré

*As I visit my old-friends' blogs, I find that they too, have been blogging less often. How about we start a blog-challenge to kickstart our blogs. Again.

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