Monday, September 4, 2017

Good Morning Starshine

It occurs to me that my reluctance to post pictures due to a Google Adsense denial (for too many pics!?!), has kept me from posting as often as I would like. For a looong time, a year maybe, I've refrained from posting ANY pics at all.

Screw that. I like posting pictures.

This morning, smoke haze from the fires in Oregon, Utah, Montana and Idaho, was so thick in the valley that the sun rose red in the east.

Eerie, yes?

In the south, Texas is floundering in water from last week's pounding by Hurricane Harvey, while Irma has been upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane, as she roars her way toward Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Florida.

Prayers to all.

Red Sun Rising, Treasure Valley, Idaho, US

Yesterday, the sun rose clear and crystal, peering over the neighbor's roof to kiss my patio garden. It brought to mind a song from my youth, Good Morning Starshine.


Sunkissed Snapdragons, September 2017
Good morning, Starshine. The earth says hello.

Sunkissed Snapdragons and Pumpkin Vines
You twinkle above us, we twinkle below.

Late Summer Sunflower
Good morning, Starshine. You lead us along,

Late Sunflowers and Snapdragons
My love and me as we sing, our early morning singing song.

Early Morning September Sun, Treasure Valley, Idaho
Sing boop doopty, diddy oddy oopty,
La la, lo lo
Saba soobie saba, doobie aba daba,
Li li, lo lo
Doobie oobie walla,
Oobie abba dalla
Early morning singing song.

Hehehe, yes, those last verses were my rendition, NOT the actual lyrics.

Just saying.

Good Morning Starshine was sung by Oliver for the hit musical Hair.

I hope everyone in the US has enjoyed the long Labor Day weekend. I got some editing done on Book 2, AWEN STORM, and plan to spend tomorrow writing several new scenes for the closing third of the book.

Happy September!

P.S. My projected completion date for the first draft of AWEN STORM is the end of September. And yes, I need all the luck, prayers, and well wishes you have to offer, to get me there.

P.P.S. Click here for a YouTube audio of Oliver's Good Morning Starshine
          Click here to travel back in time to the late 60's, early 70's 
          Click here for the psychedelic version

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell writing as O.J. Barré

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming AWEN trilogy. Book One, AWEN RISING, is complete and in query. The first draft of Book Two, AWEN STORM, is nearing completion, and Book Three, AWEN TIDE, is swirling in the mists of creation.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Mountain Magic

Here are a few pictures from our trip from Nampa, Idaho, to Livingston, Montana. I hope you enjoy!

Our chosen route took us past the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park, so we detoured through the park via West Yellowstone, Montana, so that C & D could buy lifetime park passes before the price goes up. I had previously experienced the southern section of Yellowstone - this was my first trip through the northern end.

After refueling in Idaho Falls at a Walmart that had, believe it or not, a fly shop, we headed north. The further we drove, the more trees we saw. Trees! Trees! Beautiful, luscious, gorgeous trees! Thank you, thank you, trees! (Can you tell I miss living with trees?)

View through the front windshield, north of Idaho Falls.

TREES!

The drive through the park was enjoyable with many breathtaking views. In this shot, you see the Madison River exiting a gorge.

Madison River in Yellowstone National Park, MT
As night approached, I caught this shot of the moon rising over the river. (Not sure which river, we crossed more than one.)

Moonrise Over River in Yellowstone National Park
Near the north entrance, we stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs to view the travertine terraces. From Wikipedia:

Mammoth Hot Springs is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine in Yellowstone National Park adjacent to Fort Yellowstone and the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District. It was created over thousands of years as hot water from the spring cooled and deposited calcium carbonate (over two tons flow into Mammoth each day in a solution). Because of the huge amount of geothermal vents, travertine flourishes. Although these springs lie outside the caldera boundary, their energy has been attributed to the same magmatic system that fuels other Yellowstone geothermal areas.

Flowers Blooming in the Runoff at Mammoth Hot Springs
More from Wikipedia:

"Terrace Mountain at Mammoth Hot Springs is the largest known carbonate-depositing spring in the world. The most famous feature at the springs is the Minerva Terrace, a series of travertine terraces. The terraces have been deposited by the spring over many years but, due to recent minor earthquake activity, the spring vent has shifted, rendering the terraces dry.


August Moon Rising Over Terrace Mountain, Mammoth Hot Springs
 Here is a view of the travertine terraces:

Travertine Terraces, Mammoth Hot Springs
Standing alone by the travertine terraces, is Liberty Cap, a dormant, 37-foot hot spring cone marking the northern portion of Mammoth Hot Springs. Liberty Cap got its name from its resemblance to the peaked caps worn during the French Revolution. Source: Waymarking.com

Liberty Cap, Yellowstone National Park

Last, but not least...Olivia's Cloning Gel! No, seriously. Cloning gel. We found this at a sweet little shop in Livingston, MT, Woods Rose Market. No, I did not buy any. Yes, I wish I had. 😆

Olivia's Cloning Gel
That's all folks. Hope you enjoyed this little pictorial of my trip to Livingston, MT.

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell writing as O.J. Barré

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming AWEN trilogy. Book One, AWEN RISING, is complete and in query. The first draft of Book Two, AWEN STORM, is nearing completion, and Book Three, AWEN TIDE, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Weekend Respite - Montana Bound

This morning we leave for Livingston, Montana, for the 2017 International Fly Fishing Fair. My brother-in-law, Don O, will be tying and dubbing flies and presenting his wacky denizens of the Bait's Motel.

2017 International Fly Fishing Fair
The man is a fly-tying genius.

I will be there to video and photograph Don in action, and to get us lined up for future events. My sister does everything else.

Sofie and Masie, their Shitzus, are traveling with us. Thank goodness for puppydog drools and sloppy kisses. And SUV's.

I'm looking forward to being in the mountains for a few days. Surrounded by green, green, green, green, GREEN. While the Treasure Valley, where I live in Idaho, is irrigated and lush, the surrounding area is not. Think tan. Beige. Ecru. Sere. Hot. Dry. Arid. Think high desert rimmed by boring, brown mountains.

While the temps in Boise are hitting triple digits, the highs in Livingston are topping in the 80's, dipping to the 40's at night. Ahhh, blessed relief.

So, yes. I'm excited. For the Fly Fishing Fair. To meet new people and see new sights. To be surrounded by trees and varying shades of green. To laze beside the Yellowstone River. To meander through the upper third of Yellowstone Park. To hang out with my sister, my bro-in-law, and the pups, poke around shops, listen to music, and have a relaxing few days away from work.

Yes, I will miss my Bugsy. But, he'll be waiting to greet me when I get home in a few days.

As will AWEN STORMS, Book Two of the trilogy.

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell writing as O.J. Barré

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming AWEN trilogy. Book One, AWEN RISING, is complete and in query. The first draft of Book Two, AWEN STORMS, is nearing completion, and Book Three, AWEN TIDE, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

New Title? Thank You, Muse!

Although I haven’t officially typed a new title into my manuscript, it is apparently changing. And it’s a done deal.

The other day, while reading through the table of contents of Book One, a chapter title grabbed my attention, and wouldn’t let go.

Awen Rising.


The two words dogged me, meandering in and out of conscious thought, diddy-bopping through my brain cells, refusing to cede ground, or depart. I pondered and mulled the two words for days, loathe to relinquish a title I’ve treasured for the last six years. But, the more I agonize, the deeper the proposed title burrows in.

Sitting down with pen and paper, I search for an answer. Awen Rising? Why?
  • It is active, leaving the passivity of Blessed Are the Peace Makers cowering in the dust.
  • It’s shorter, snappier, and more personal to Awen, the driving force of the trilogy.
  • It implies that something, or someone, good or bad, will be rising, or increasing in awareness and power. Something, or someone, that must be reckoned with. Awen.
So, basically, Awen Rising captures the essence of Book One. Even better than Blessed Are the Peace Makers.

But if Book One's title changes, then so must Book Two's.

"Awen Storms", the muse whispers.

Hmmm. Awen Storms hints that Awen will be challenged, or conversely, bring challenge upon others. Again, this title captures the heart of Book Two, if not perfectly, then pretty darn close.

And what about the finale? Book Three?

"Awen Tide", la muse moans softly, rocking me gently to and fro. I consider the meaning. 


A tide is relentless, never-ending, always encroaching, consuming, constant. It can cleanse and heal, bringing life from sea to shore, or it can rip the land to shreds. And, like Awen, a tide is ruled by the heartbeat of this fair planet, as she is influenced by Earth's elements and the moon.

So three new titles. Woohoo!

"But why change your titles, after all this time?" you ask?

Because the muse says so. And when la muse speaks, I must needs listen. Else my muse will go mute, and a writer is naught without the sweet serenade of her muse. But, get on board with her "suggestions", and she will gladly stick around. At least, until the next kerfuffle.

Plus, the shiny new titles have catapulted me back into the thick of Awen’s story, soaring high on the wind beneath my wings.

Thank you, Muse. I've missed you so.

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell writing as O.J. Barré

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming AWEN trilogy. Book One, AWEN RISING, is complete and in query. The first draft of Book Two, AWEN STORMS, is nearing completion, and Book Three, AWEN TIDE, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Celebrating Life

Hi Y'all,

Thought I would share my Facebook post from earlier today.

Good Morning! Thank you for your well-wishes on this Fabulously Happy Day!
In celebrating my entry into the seventh decade of Life, I pause to relish the wonder and joy, the sweet sensation of loving, and of being loved.
It has been a wild ride.
And wasn't that what I wanted from the get-go? To live this life, running through the grasses, the weeds, the brambles, the vast jungles? To find my way through, around, and over, each and every obstacle, challenge and adventure? To savor the catastrophes alongside the joyful interludes?
Yes. Yes. It was.
In looking back at my dreams, accomplishments, my travels, my voracious thirst for knowledge, my raging appetite for more, more, more, I see the thread that binds it all together, and keeps me from hurtling into the abyss.
No, it's not gravity. It is love. I know this with all my God-given senses, in the deepest recesses of my heart and soul.
As a child, I desired wisdom. To be wise, a wise woman.
That little girl took in every nuance of her life, and from all she absorbed, chose wisdom over love, not realizing it was an all-or-nothing choice.
She got her wish.
Today, as wise woman, I make a new wish for that little girl. Henceforward, and forever more, this wise woman dedicates our remaining, remarkable, years, to Love.
Happy Birthday, Wise Little Girl. You are loved beyond measure. And so much more.❤️



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 complete and in query. 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, June 3, 2017

DON'T POKE THE MAMA BEAR!

I love that God has a sense of humor. Last night I prayed for an answer to a looming decision - which of two actions is the best for me to take? This time my answer wasn't sent via dream.

It appeared in the guise of a horoscope.

Don't poke the Mama Bear.

I didn't. I promise. I let her have her way.

But first, I made a list of all that needed doing, with the intent of following-though later in the day.

Well hoo hoo hah. Guess what?

This morning, Mama Bear got her way. But, less than three hours into the afternoon's work session, she roared. Loudly.

via GIPHY

Granted, the last two hours had been a bust, and the simple task no nearer completion.Shutting my laptop in extreme frustration, I came outside to regain some balance.

Now I pause to wonder. Do I really want to waste another minute keeping his fly-tying website with DonO's old provider?

Bluehost has a $2.95 a month special for the first year. How 'bout we pick up and go there for our hosting needs? The Bluehost I remember gives excellent customer service. Their system, while formidable to a dilettante geek like me, is at least doable. And did I say, their tech support is superb?

Done. Sold. No more debacles with ITX. Mama Bear says so.

But, she's still poked. Only a few things are marked off our to-do list. Which means weekend work. Until it's all done. Then Mama Bear can go back to being happy.

Want a peek at my list?
  1. Set goals for June.
  2. Write a blog post for That Rebel. Another for Dr. O.
  3. Transfer DonO's new Fantasy Flies website from Wordpress.com to .org.
  4. Attend/watch a webinar re: Essential Oils certification, plus my doTERRA gameplan.
  5. Call Dr. G re: Position.
  6. Take care of Mama Bear.
Seriously. Only Mama Bear was first. Else, NOTHING would get done.

And yes, beside the website transfer, and the Dr. O blog post, the rest of my list is complete!

Do you have a Mama Bear? Care to share? What happens when your Mama Bear gets poked?

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

P.S. When O.J.'s not writing, Mama Bear lives in a mildly-poked state, so I'm hoping this post helps calm her.

P.P.S. My Mama Bear is me.

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming BLESSED ARE THE PEACE MAKERS trilogy. Book One, COMING HOME, is complete and in query. 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, May 3, 2017

What If...?

Admit it. You grew up loving Rudyard Kipling's poem "If". Did you memorize it? Recite it on a stage in front of your schoolmates' parents?

Did you aspire, like me, to its lofty tenets? So much wisdom. So much travail. So much promised.

Yet, here I am, entering the autumn of my life. And wondering.

What if...

What if - rather than choosing stoicism, I live life to its fullest, out-loud and proud?
What if - my inner light shines so very bright, it gives yours permission to flare?
What if - the glow of our collective light dispells the darkness forever?

What if...?

Kipling If (Doubleday 1910).jpg
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools; 
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on"; 
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
—Rudyard Kipling
Ahhh. See there. Didn't you fall in love with IF again? Are there other what-if's you'd like to propose? Any thoughts on Kipling's IF?

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 complete and in query. The first draft of Book Two, COMING TO, is nearing completion, and Book Three, COMING FULL CIRCLE, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Scenes from an Unsettled Mind Redux

Scenes from an Unsettled Mind was originally published on February 15, 2010.

I dream in vivid colors and bold action, multiple vignettes that fade on waking. Left behind are bits and snatches, impressions of the endless parade through my mind.

This morning, left behind was a sense of frustration. Of pushing and pulling, cajoling, trying, vying. Doing what was in front of me to do, only to find I’d made the wrong choice. Wrong place, wrong time. Wrong decision, wrong action. Wrong world, wrong life.

Nampa, Idaho, March 2017
Rising did nothing to quiet the frustration, bringing it forward in to my morning.

The weather outside matches my mood, dark gray clouds raining drops all around. Scooping green tea leaves in to a strainer, I immerse them in the mug I bought last year in Solana Beach where I’d run away to escape from my perplexing life.

So much has changed since then, I live in a different home on the opposite coast, have a different partner, different car. Yet, nothing essential has changed.

My life has been a marathon; running to, running from, running in place.

There are times when I feel I’m living out an episode of The Twilight Zone. When, in the quiet, still places of my mind, I have a sense of the world and it’s a lonely, frightful place, not at all what I’ve been trained (or want) to believe.

Click here to read the remainder of Scenes From an Unsettled Mind, originally published on February 15, 2010.

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 complete and in query. 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, April 12, 2017

Welcome to Query Hell

Holy Moley. It’s been nearly three weeks since I last posted. As of then, I’d not written on my manuscript in fourteen days. I am still not writing. Damn. One week became two. Now two has become five. And no new manuscript words.

I have spent several hours, here and there, editing the second book of BLESSED ARE THE PEACE MAKERS. Working my way through the written two-thirds of that heretofore-unedited manuscript. But my heart's not in it.

Rejection sucks. No matter the form.

Having someone meet your literary-child is tough. You’ve labored, after carrying it in your creative womb, sometimes for years. You’ve introduced it to readers, and fellow writers, most of whom liked, or loved, your baby, and were happy to help you bring it into the world.

Finally, you begin searching for the perfect agent, one who will find your baby a good home with a reputable publisher. You send queries, and participate in Twitter pitch-parties, knowing your baby’s essence can’t be captured in 140 characters. Or a paragraph. Or a full-page synopsis - that dastardly document meant to convey major plot points, including spoilers.

Watch out. Next come the "pass" lettersThose life-sucking, crushing, depression-invoking rejections.

There's the "sorry-it's-not-right-for-me rejection, the "it's-too-long" (though at the short end of the fantasy spectrum), the "I-love-your-characters-but-the-plot's-not-right-for-me", the "I-didn't-bother-to-read-any-pages-but-no-thank-you-anyway", and the "I-didn't-connect-with-your-main-character" rejection.

What now? Enter fetal position and eat comfort food. Gain five pounds. And write zero new words. Because who can write when your baby, your masterpiece, your life's work, is dissed, slammed, and otherwise rejected?

Last week the answer to my fourth query arrived. As you've guessed, it too, was a pass. I had suspected as much from the get-go, and only submitted out of obligation (because I knew the agent and she represents my genre), but I must admit – it tweaked me, still.

Such a delicate, sensitive being, am I.

Really. How do writers do it?

I have one last query pending, a tiny publisher, from Twitter’s #PitMad. I didn’t submit to the two others that liked my pitch. One had made the Preditors and Editors list a few years back, the other was a self-publishing firm. 

https://imgflip.com/i/1n4ukl
Speaking of self-publishing, I haven't ruled that out. It's a lot of work, but it would bypass the agent rejections. And the resultant paralysis. I honestly don't know if I can take twenty more no's.

Plus, it would get PEACE MAKERS to readers a year sooner.

So it’s self-publish, or suck it up, and continue querying. Either way, it is time to write again. And what if there is that one agent, or one publisher, willing take a risk on my baby? 

What to do, what to do? Any thoughts? What would you do?

UPDATE: I did it. I emailed another query. And have two more going out in soon. Guess I'm not done yet. I must've needed to write about it. To reason it out. Thank you, dear rebels, for listening!

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 complete and in query. 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, March 23, 2017

One Week Becomes Two

Hang on, folks. There's a new post a-coming. I promise.

In the meantime, I wanted to let you know:
  1. I'm still alive.
  2. All three of my early queries bombed out.
  3. I've been broken up over it.
  4. So much so, that I've not done much writing in the last two weeks.
  5. I am not quitting, though I have had the thought.
  6. Today I sent a query to an agent from my Relentless Writers FB group.
  7. I posted three pitches for BLESSED in today's #PitMad on Twitter, for which
  8. I've received two #PitMad favorites - both from small publishers, rather than agents.
  9. #PitMad is open for another three hours, meaning there's hope for more.
  10. I'll be sending queries for #PitMad requests this evening after dinner, and
  11. Hopefully, I'll be back to writing in earnest by tomorrow.
There ya go. I'm crushed, but not dead. Hope rises again.

Thank you to Brenda Drake for coordinating #PitMad, and to all the #PitMad agents and publishers for participating. Especially those who favorited my pitches. Y'all rock!

See you again soon!

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 finished and in query. The first draft of Book Two, COMING TO, is nearing completion, and Book Three, COMING FULL CIRCLE, is swirling in the mists of creation.

Friday, March 10, 2017

I'm Tore Down

The life of a writer is a lonely one, filled with ups, downs and sideways thumps. Finishing a fantasy novel after six years of hard work is definitely an up. As is the excitement of having readers love your characters, your storyline, and your book.

A month ago, I began the process of finding a literary agent, someone who loves BLESSED ARE THE PEACE MAKERS: COMING HOME, has a can-do attitude, connections in the publishing industry, and the cajones to fight to get my novel published, for the most money, and into readers’ hands.

Ideally, my agent will be proficient in foreign rights, movie rights, and subsidiary rights. Because I’m convinced BLESSED can be both an international bestseller, and a blockbuster movie.

I know, I know. I’m not asking much. But isn’t that what every author wants? Maximum exposure for your literary baby?

My first query went to the (so far) dream agent. After reading my letter and first three pages, she requested 50 more. Riding a potent UP in which I KNEW this agent would love, love, LOVE my book, and ask to read the full manuscript, I waited patiently for the next request.

Then, THUMP came a dreaded “pass” email. She loves my characters and thinks I’m “very talented”, but the plot didn’t develop in the way she’d hoped. Not privy to her thoughts, I don’t know what this means, but her pass took the wind from my sails. A day later, a second agent declined, after reading only the query letter.

NEXT!

Keep querying. Keep writing. Keep my chin up. And know that the perfect agent will appear.

But, daaaammnnn. What a downer.

That I join a long (and illustrious) list of bestselling authors who were rejected repeatedly before being discovered, helps. I have another query out, and will soon email more, continuing the process until I find THE ONE.

Because I believe, no, I KNOW, she/he is out there, waiting for, praying for, my book.

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

P.S. If you like rockin' blues, don't miss Calvin B. Streets' rendition of I'm Tore Down

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming BLESSED ARE THE PEACE MAKERS trilogy. Book One, COMING HOME, is finished and being queried. 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, February 26, 2017

On Writing a Blurb - Metamorphosis

What a difference a year makes. Oh wait. Eighteen months. When I reread my first stab at blurb-writing from a post I published in August 2015, I wanted to gag. Or hold my nose. 'Cause compared to the current one, it stinks. Or is that just me?

I thought it would be fun to go back and grab several iterations, so you can see the progression. If you're interested in how the blurb for BLESSED ARE THE PEACE MAKERS: COMING HOME morphed over time, start at the beginning and read all the way through. If not, read the first and skip down to the last.

Here's the first one, circa August 4, 2015

AMERICA 2042CE: A down-and-out disaster specialist finds she’s the last of a long line of magical Druid priestesses carrying the bloodline of William the Conqueror. To make matters worse, she is expected to fill the shoes of her new father, the erstwhile Grand Druid whose coma is likely the result of foul play. Taught to run from adversity by a mother who carried the secret of her powers and heritage to an alcoholic grave, and faced with a foe known only as “The Darkness”, she must race the clock, cramming twenty-six years’ of training into the short time left.

On the opposite coast her nemesis, a sorceress-turned-holy-woman, is targeted and tagged by the invisible foe: a race of Reptilian aliens residing in Earth’s interior. Placed there millennia ago and kept secret and apart from the Humans by a forgetfulness curse enforced by dragon guards, the Reptilians are determined to take control of the planet. Led by a nasty Draco general, they will use the evangelist and others like her to pit the humans against one another, leaving Earth ripe for the picking.

Okay. I didn’t gag that time. But here’s the blurb I used for French Press Bookworks’s query workshop on October 2016.

I love when fantasy collides with real life. In Blessed Are the Peace Makers, Awen, last of the Druid Priestesses, diverts Earth’s destruction in 1042AD by saving a young William the Conqueror from death. Now, it is 2042 and their descendent, a down-and-out disaster specialist, on the run from an obsessed sorceress-slash-holy-woman, is Earth’s only hope. A race of Reptilian aliens, secretly living in Earth’s mantle, plots to use the holy woman and others like her to brainwash the Humans into destroying one another, leaving AboveEarth ripe for the picking. Aided by magical animal Elders, including dragons responsible for keeping the races secret and apart, the heroine faces insurmountable odds to avert the coming Darkness.

Shorter, sweeter, but still no cigar. As both Dionne Abouelela and James Stryker asked, what are the main character's names? After workshopping with them, together briefly, and James, extensively, I ended up with this.

In the near future, fantasy collides with real life when Emily Hester, an untrained druid, must rise from the ashes of a troubled past to head the powerful Awen order, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. A looming threat known only as “the Darkness” – reptilian aliens living secretly in Earth’s mantle – plot to take AboveEarth by manipulating humans into destroying one another. Pursued by a smitten sorceress, Shalane Carpenter, and aided by magical animal elders, a sexy druid priest and his teen nephew, Emily must reluctantly learn the magic necessary for the druids to have a chance at saving Earth.

MUCH better. But still vague about motivation and voice. Here’s another iteration, rewritten based on an article by Laura Zats. I sent this in a query letter to agent Sara Megibow of KT Literary, then ten days later, to Laura Zats of Red Sofa Literary, and Rebecca Strauss of DeFiore and Company.

One thing her deceased mother taught Emily Mayhall was the fine art of running away. Reeling from the loss of her fiancé, her nerve, and her job as a disaster specialist, Emily is stalked by Shalane Carpenter, a shaman-sorceress whose wiles turn men, and most women, to mush, and bought her national acclaim as an evangelist. Immune to Shalane’s advances, Emily assumes a new identity, one she finds in a ledger in her mother’s strange box of druid artifacts. When a registered letter arrives addressed to Emily Mayhall Hester, she throws it on the counter, unopened. That night, the frantic dreams begin – she is Awen, druid priestess, and she must save the young Duke of Normandy’s life, or else. When the letter turns out to be from an attorney in Atlanta, GA, who represents a birth-father Emily didn’t know existed, she reluctantly accepts a free ticket to Atlanta, not knowing that the troubles she’s leaving behind, are nothing compared to what she’ll face when she gets there.

Set in the near future, fantasy collides with real life for a slew of supporting characters including a sexy druid priest and his teen nephew, “invisible” dragons, and magical animals, while a foe known only as the Darkness – reptilian aliens living in Earth’s mantle, plot to destroy humankind.

Longer. More words. But each packs a punch. I get a better sense of who the main characters are, and the predicament in which they find themselves. I want to know more. I want to read more.

Which, after all, is the whole point of a blurb.

To date, the last (along with the first three pages of the manuscript) prompted a request for additional pages from Sara (be still my heart!). Her partial-request reading time is two to four weeks - it’s been a little over one. The query-reading times for the others are longer, so we'll see.

Which is your favorite? Do you prefer a different blurb?

Here’s to a happy and hallowed day for all.

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, February 11, 2017

Oh Yes I DID! Query Emailed.

I did it. I did it.
I emailed the first agent query
For Blessed Are the Peace Makers: Coming Home
And who knows,
With luck,
Maybe the last.
No. I swear.
I’m not kidding.
I really, really
DID IT!
Before hitting send,
I hovered over the keyboard,
Heart pounding,
Breath shallow,
A little faint.
But not in a sick
Sort of way.
In a jumping out of
An airplane kind of way.
Not that I ever have.
Or probably ever will
Unless the plane’s
Going down.
Now it’s time
To celebrate.
Kombucha and
Netflix anyone? LOL.

What are you celebrating this fabulous night, as the luminous moon shines her reflected light on our highest intentions?

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, February 2, 2017

Groundhog Day 2017

It’s Groundhog Day, and tonight (as an annual ritual), I treat myself to the movie of the same name, another of my favorites. I will watch Bill Murray, an arrogant a-hole, relive the same day over and over. I will laugh and wince as I share his surprise, amazement, disbelief, the precognition, growing frustration, and his tenacious ability to hold fast to his off-kilter, self-centered view of the world.

Only this time, just maybe, I will get the punchline, and admit to my Self that I am stuck in an unending loop – my own, personal Groundhog Day. Best-laid plans and Acme be damned, I am Wile E. Coyote, locked in pursuit of the effortless, ever-elusive, Road Runner. Meep meep.

A tetherball, I swing blithely through time, in ecstatic motion, until the post approaches and - too late – BAM, we collide. Recoiling, I unravel to hang limp and lifeless, until the next round. A brave steed on a carousel, I am dressed for battle, riding the greasy pole until drunk and dizzy, but never manage to escape the paddock.

If we humans are lucky, we learn early in life to let go of expectations – of who we think we are "supposed" to be, and what we're told we "should be" doing.

If we are lucky, we’ll let go of the whys and wherefores, and learn to love the dance, the pursuit, the ups, the downs, the song. We will give ourselves to the ecstasy of trying, of flying, the resounding thud when we hit the inevitable wall, and the never-ending supply of childless wonder.

And if we are very lucky, the monotonous will become glorious; the predictability, reassuring; the constancy, cathartic.

Is it any wonder, as magnetic beings, on a magnetic planet spiraling through space, we spin along with it, ever seeking the light?

Cue the movie!

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

O.J. Barré is author of the Blessed Are the Peace Makers trilogy. Book One, Coming Home, is finished. 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, January 26, 2017

Pick One and Jump In

Since I can't seem to get my act together to write a blog post (and yes, I missed last week's too), I went through old ones mining for gold. Lo and behold, I found a draft that was basically complete and needed little editing. AND it has never been published.*

Actually, I found several, but this one is timely, as it sets up a coming post. So I'm polishing (a little) and publishing. Some back-story, since it's out of time sequence - this was written on March 17, 2016 after I attended Writer's Digest's Atlanta Writing Workshop. I hope you enjoy!

Life has taken another twist, propelling me forward and on. That’s what happens when you have a dream (or goal) and work toward it. Even if only a little at a time.

Thinking my manuscript was “ready”, I attended the Atlanta Writing Workshop on February 20 to pitch my novel to three literary agents. Nothing came of that, but during the day’s sessions, my vague suspicion that my story could be better was confirmed.

After the eye-opening “First Page” panel, I went home and cut the first five pages of BLESSED ARE THE PEACE MAKERS: COMING HOME, giving it a crisper, less background-intensive beginning and leaving more for the reader to discover. But like any remodel, the initial action creates a ton of related work.

C’est la vie.

In the last session of the day, Chuck Sambuchino shared a list of things writers can do to feel in control (though we mostly are not), and said to pick one thing and jump in with both feet. When that one is mastered, pick another. One is to build a platform, a way to let people know about our books.

Like Social Media.

Chuck asked how many were NOT on Twitter and about half the room raised our hands (including me). Not good. TWITTER is where literary agents and editors hang out. Meaning a Mecca for unrepresented writers like me. It’s also a way to get the word out about my books, once published.

So, bored with Facebook, and itching to put Chuck’s advice to work, I decided to try Twitter again. And am shocked and amazed. I like it.

The pace is fast, but brings a stream of fascinating people and topics, mostly of the artistic/literary ilk, any and all of whom are available for interaction. All I need are the cajones. Two weeks in, I have 93 followers with light participation. The more dedicated I am, the more people I meet, the more books, contests, music, etc, I discover.

I like it. I love it. I want some more of it.

So much so, that I find myself transferring Chuck’s advice to other areas. Like my livelihood, using it to launch a couple of (ad)ventures I’d been noodling, one for months.

Are you dancing around something in your life, wishing and hoping for it, dreaming of having or doing it, but not getting any closer?

Pick one. Jump in with both feet, like Chuck said. And don't forget to tell us about your adventures in the comments below.

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

P.S. Find me on Twitter. My current follower-count just passed 2400, and is rising steadily (if ploddingly).

* Oops. The article previously appeared on Relentless Writers in March of last year. Click here to read the original and other great posts by a variety of gifted writers, agents and editors.

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, January 11, 2017

The Ice Age Cometh

!SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't, and plan to, read To Build a Fire, by Jack London, please know that this post is about my visceral and psychic reaction and contains definite spoilers. If you don't mind, read on. If so, click here to read his short story (takes only 10-15 minutes, maybe 20), then come back to process your own reaction by reading about mine and leaving us a comment. 

Thank you for stopping by. Please enjoy...

Staring out the window, I watch fat snowflakes land on the mound in front of my apartment. As each conglomeration tumbles before sticking, my mind turns to a favorite movie. A work of fiction, Day After Tomorrow is woven around fact and depicts the coming of a new Ice Age. Before the Big Freeze, there is day-upon-day of relentless snowfall in the northern (and not-so) regions.

This is happening now, and I can't help but compare. Places with normally-mild winters, like Boise, Idaho, where I currently reside, are getting pounded. And have been for thirty-plus days. On the other side of the globe, normally-sunny Greece is blanketed in snow.

My mind jumps to a piece by Jack London I recently read for a creative writing class. Other than research, I rarely watch or read what I believe will be a downer. If there's no redemption, no deliverance, no life-affirming message, then what, pray tell, is the point?

To Build a Fire is London's short story, about a man in the Klondike who ignores common sense, and an old-timer's warning, to take a shortcut to his gold-mining camp. He's on foot and alone except for a husky that (like me) doesn’t particularly like the man. It's nearing winter in the Arctic, so the sun is scarce, and the temp plummets to seventy-below.

The story is an account of arrogance gone awry and as I read, my apprehension grows. Something bad is going to happen and the man will likely die. The more I read, the sicker my gut, until I taste the metal of dread.

I plod on, as assigned, though I hate each beautiful, well-placed word the man “speaks” in his head. When he takes a step, breaking through snow and ice, and his whole foot sinks into a running stream, I know (because of masterful foreshadowing) the time has come. (And even knowing, I wish for the best.)

London describes in acute detail the progression of hypothermia, as observed by the man, one frozen body-part at a time. I felt it all – his numbness, fear, panic, the futile attempts to light a match and tinder, only to have his one chance at survival snuffed out. Then the quick descent into apathy, eyeing the dog considering slitting it open for his own survival, the dog backing away because he doesn’t trust the arrogant man.

Then surrender, acquiescing to the coming of death, and its gentle kiss as he falls asleep.

I hated that short story, hated and loved it at the same time, because of Jack London’s literary genius.

In sharing this with Debbie, my teacher (and now friend), she pondered that if written during the Alaskan gold rush, it was likely meant as a warning to foolhardy souls heading to the Klondike, a preview of what to expect upon arrival. That I can wrap my head around. That I get.

But back to the snow falling outside my window and the mound halfway-up the Handicapped sign. As one who looks for the "why" in things, I wondered at the time why I continued to read a story that left me icky and cold.

It occurs to me now. Maybe I read London’s dark narrative, in spite of my own rules, because a new Ice Age cometh, and I needed to know. I will recognize the signs of fatal hypothermia and find comfort when I succumb to frozen limbs and halted heart.

Or maybe it will be millennia before the next Ice Age, and it was merely an excellent assignment designed to further-open this writer's mind to the power of narrative prose.

Either way, the snow sure is pretty.

What are YOUR thoughts on London's short story?

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

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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