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.

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