Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Wild Wyoming & Online Fantasy/Sci Book Fair

Hopefully, you’ve had a fantastic summer. And now that we’re coasting into the colorful Fall Season, temperatures are cooler in much of the Northern Hemisphere, including my new home in Cheyenne, Wyoming.


First, let me tell you about C. L. Cannon’s (Online) Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fall Book Fair. It is in full swing, and there are over 150 Sci-Fi and Fantasy books listed. Some are free to buy, some are available at reduced prices (such as $.99!), and many, like Awen Rising, can be read for free on Kindle Unlimited. (Did you know it only costs $9.99 a month - less than the price of some ebooks?!)

While you're browsing the Book Fair, make sure to register for the prize - a Kindle Fire, a 1-month Owlcrate gift subscription, and a $10 Starbucks gift card!

If you’re in the market for great new books (and as readers, aren't we always?), click here to shop at the Book Fair. A few are featured at the top but keep scrolling. Some of the juiciest nuggets will be found lower down!

Rambo - Contemplating the Day
This past spring, when my sister informed me of her decision to move to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to be near her grandbabies, I was thrilled for her. And since I was beyond ready to get out of Idaho, I chose to move too. Yes, it was hard to leave my Idaho friends and patients, but I never thrived in Idaho.

Somewhere in the middle of the moving insanity - packing, yard sales, goodbye lunches, and more packing, all while still working - I lost three pounds, and Rambo lost two! My 24-pound cat needed to lose weight. Me? Not so much. But it’s all good.

Thankfully, it's been much cooler in Cheyenne than in Nampa. Now fall is here, and our temps are dropping. We had rain yesterday with a high of 61, and today will be similar. Tomorrow, the warmth will return for a bit. 

Glen Dome, Vedauwoo, WY
A huge side benefit of moving? For the first time in six years, I am beginning to feel like myself again.

Two weekends ago, I took a short class on developing intuition through art and photos, mainly to meet like-minded people in my new town. Mission accomplished. There were only three of us, but we gave each other goosebumps via eerily accurate drawings and messages and then agreed to continue meeting monthly.

I also attended a fabulous, life-affirming 2-day Vocal Empowerment for Women retreat this past weekend in Fort Collins, Colorado - a fun city only 45 minutes south of Cheyenne and an hour north of Denver. After hearing an NPR segment about it this past summer, I've been itching to experience vocal freedom, not only as a woman but as a writer.

If you're interested in hearing more about it, let me know. I'll be happy to share my experience in the next blog. In the meantime, I can post about it on my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. And who knows, maybe I'll dust off my LinkedIn account.

Me, Michelle, Havilah, & Donovan
We also made it to Vedauwoo. And the Greek Festival at Frontier Park. None of this would have happened had I stayed in Idaho.

Oh, I almost forgot about the Laramie County Library! It is in downtown Cheyenne, has a café with yummy food on the first floor, and the third floor is – yep, you guessed it – a SILENT FLOOR! Nampa had an amazing library, but it was too noisy to write unless I scored a private room. Plus, there are nearby coffee shops and restaurants - all within a 10-15 minute drive from my home.

Greek Dancers

I have missed having varied places to write, and my productivity has suffered from it. In addition to the above spots, our new townhome has a partially-finished basement. I have my desk set up with a new, comfy office chair and am writing this newsletter down here. Even before Covid, I was stuck writing in one spot in our home in Idaho - my semi-comfortable chair in my bedroom!

Now, hopefully, all these new writing venues, classes, getting out in nature, and making new friends will translate into many, many more completed manuscripts, beginning with AWEN TIDE!


HEY, what a great segue! The third book in the Awen Trilogy, Awen Tide, is about 75% complete, and boy, is it a doozy. I am stumbling along, but the motion is forward, and I plan to kick it into high gear once the women’s retreat is over. The manuscript will likely be available for beta readers in a couple of months. If you would like to beta-read this trilogy finale, please let me know.*

*Beta reading entails reading the lightly edited, mostly-finished version of the unpublished manuscript and providing feedback. My betas usually get a free copy of the book once it’s published, so you will also get the end product. Just reply to this newsletter, and I’ll add you to the beta-reader list.

And in case you missed it, Awen Rising received a fabulous review from Kirkus Reviews! You can read about it here!

That's all, folks!

May this Fall season be a time of giving thanks as well as a time of going within and letting go of all that no longer serves you and/or anything that is keeping you stuck.

UNTIL NEXT TIME, Olivia/O. J. Barré

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

O. J. Barré is the author of the Awen Trilogy, a fun, fast, and epic urban fantasy set in 2042 Atlanta. Steeped in current, ancient, and future history twists, Book One, Awen Rising, debuted July 2019. Book Two, Awen Storm, released May 2020. Book Three, Awen Tide, will release in late 2022 or early 2023. All are (or will be) available in both paperback and ebook, and the hardback versions will be available soon.

Free For Subscribers

O. J.'s Awen Prequel novelette, The Druids of Marduk, Part I, is also available as an ebook - for purchase on Amazon (or free by signing up for her newsletter). The second installment, The Druids of Marduk, Part II: UnderEarth, is an ebook novella on Amazon. Part III: AboveEarth, is scheduled for a 2022 release.





Friday, September 2, 2022

I'm Walking on Sunshine, Whoa!

Yesterday, I received the link to the Kirkus Review for Awen Rising and have been smiling ever since. I had prayed that the person assigned the review would 'get' Awen Rising. Why? Because there are a few out there who don't.

My prayer was answered. Not only did the reviewer 'get' Awen Rising, they were obviously delighted and gave it a glowing review. I'm pretty sure they left a 5-star rating on Amazon, too. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, dear Reader/Reviewer!

The link at the end of the review will take you to my book's page on the Kirkus site. Please take a moment to click over and give Awen Rising a thumbs up. You will make my day, AND you'll be helping to forward my new marketing efforts. And yes, I need all the help I can get, so thank you!

Now, without further ado, here is the review. 

KIRKUS REVIEW FOR AWEN RISING:

"When the end of the world is drawing near, an ancient soul must be reawakened and take control of her power to save the world in this trilogy opener.

It’s 2042, and Emily Mayhall is living in Venice Beach, California, and mourning the death of her fiance, Trey, and getting fired by a boss who had blacklisted her in her industry and made sure she’d have trouble getting another job. Then her long-lost, Atlanta-based druid family finds her and brings shocking news: Her mother kidnapped her when she was 4, and her father has been searching for her ever since. Now Emily discovers that she is not only the heir to a long line of druid princesses but destined to save the world. Shalane Carpenter is an evangelical shaman who has hordes of adoring fans and magnificent magical powers but is unhappy. She’s troubled by her friendship with Emily, whom she once had a secret romantic interest in, and is determined not to lose her. Worse, Shalane descends from a magical race of reptilian creatures living below the earth, who seek to destroy all that lives above them in order to conquer Earth, with the sinister General Nergal in command. In order to survive, Emily may need help from a sexy druid priest, his nephew, and their animal Elders. From this setup Barré creates a great fantasy with a memorable cast, a fast-paced plot, and a lot of fun twists and turns, supported by careful and interesting character development. Emily is dealt shock after shock, but her flexibility and perseverance shine in an engaging narrative. At the same time, the story inspires empathy for Shalane and others who have their own trials. This character complexity befits the detailed worldbuilding that gives varied perspectives on the setting. Yet, if the worldbuilding is extensive, it’s woven so carefully into the plot that it never slows the pace of this entertaining fantasy.

A marvelously fun and intriguing first installment of promising series." ~ Kirkus Reviews Click here to give Awen Rising a thumbs-up! 

It's Labor Day weekend in the U.S. If you are wondering what I'll be up to, you will likely find me in my writing cave plugging away at Awen Tide, Book Three of the Awen Trilogy.

What are your plans for this fine, late-summer weekend?

Until next time, 

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

O. J. Barré is the author of the Awen Trilogy, a fun, fast, and epic urban fantasy set in 2042 Atlanta. Steeped in current, ancient, and future history twists, Book One, Awen Rising, debuted July 2019. Book Two, Awen Storm, released May 2020. Book Three, Awen Tide, will release in late 2022 or early 2023. All are (or will be) available in both paperback and ebook, and the hardback versions will be available soon.

Free For Subscribers

O. J.'s Awen Prequel novelette, The Druids of Marduk, Part I, is also available as an ebook - for purchase on Amazon (or free by signing up for her newsletter). The second installment, The Druids of Marduk, Part II: UnderEarth, is an ebook novella on Amazon. Part III: AboveEarth, is scheduled for a 2022 release.





Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Moving & Retirement Anxiety

This time last week, the movers were done unloading us at our new place in Cheyenne. I was making our beds, exhausted and on my last ounce of strength. The thought of climbing between the sheets was all that kept me going.

Since then, we have unpacked most of the kitchen and our bed and bath stuff, though much is still in boxes in the garage. We're slowly pulling out what is needed and relegating the rest to longer-term storage - down in the partially-finished basement. Soon we will need to tuck our cars in from the weather. But for now, the skies are clear, and the temps are fabulous, topping out at around 80F, with lows in the 50s. I'm grateful to have escaped the extreme heat that continues to plague the Nampa/Boise area, and I pray relief comes to them soon.

On Saturday, feeling the need for brighter and more color in my life, I ventured to the nearby TJ Maxx, arriving as they opened. Though intent on finding orange bathroom towels, I detoured down a clothes aisle and scored! Six new colorful and desperately needed tops came home with me. Plus the towels I mentioned and a few other things. Now today, I've settled on a fabulous (and even more colorful) shower curtain courtesy of Amazon.

My New Shower Curtain

I also left a message for Dr. Dierenfield's Cheyenne office. He's the one Activator chiropractor showing on their website, and I'm in dire need of an adjustment. Plus, who knows, he might be in the market for a part-time chiropractor.

Because the thing is - it feels weird not "having a job." And stranger still not knowing there's a paycheck coming in every other week. I could live on my Social Security check - if I had to. But I'd rather not. And I don't want to deplete my limited savings. Especially with the way prices are skyrocketing.

And that brings me to the main reason for this post.

There's this fluttery, nervy feeling I keep getting in my gut,  a mini/micro freakout. I'm sure you've experienced something similar. Like when an airplane hits an air pocket and for those few moments there's no support beneath you. It could also be described as... a big gulp, butterflies, a sense of foreboding or impending doom, waiting for the other shoe to drop, or the shit's about to hit the fan. (Click the gif below to hear Lucy.)


For those who have taken the "retirement" leap with or without a safety net, is this normal? Please tell me it is. I felt it a few times before leaving Idaho and assumed it was related to the immensity of the move. But we arrived at our new place on Saturday (the 13th), and our stuff showed up last Monday. Then as the week ticked by, I began feeling it again throughout the day. Over the weekend, it eased. Now it's Monday again, and the gut-grab is back in full force.

What the hay?

Curious, I googled "is it normal to get moments of panic after retiring?", and found a website called Sixty & Me. This article says YES. It's a real thing. So does Forbes.

From the Forbes website:

Retirement planning expert Sally Hurme, JD, says, “it can be kind of scary shifting from earning a regular paycheck to living off of your hard-earned savings month after month.”  ...You suddenly need to arrange your own cash flow instead of having it provided by your employer. Can you blame a person for feeling some panic? 

So, yes, retirement anxiety, and even panic, is a real thing—one I am bumping up against. I guess the real challenge is to not freak out to the point that I jump back into chiropractic rather than putting myself on a writing schedule. If I stay the course, finish and publish Awen Tide, then advertise the heck out of the trilogy, hopefully, I'll have money streaming in rather than gushing out.

Can I do it? We shall see. Wish me luck!

Until next time,

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

P.S. I could not keep the appointment with the neurosurgeon on the 11th. There was too much to do on that last critical day of the move. But I AM hoping to get a Zoom visit with Dr. Martinez to discuss what I should do about the benign mediastinal tumor.

P.P.S. As it turns out, Dr. Martinez does not make telehealth appointments, so it's time to punt. That means I will investigate my options here in Wyoming over the coming months.

O. J. Barré is the author of the Awen Trilogy, a fun, fast, and epic urban fantasy set in 2042 Atlanta. Steeped in current, ancient, and future history twists, Book One, Awen Rising, debuted July 2019. Book Two, Awen Storm, released May 2020. Book Three, Awen Tide, is on preorder and will release in 2022. All are (or will be) available in both paperback and ebook, and the hardback versions will be available in 2022.

Free For Subscribers

O. J.'s Awen Prequel novelette, The Druids of Marduk, Part I, is also available as an ebook - for purchase on Amazon (or free by signing up for her newsletter). The second installment, The Druids of Marduk, Part II: UnderEarth, is an ebook novella also available on Amazon. Part III: AboveEarth, is scheduled for a 2022 release.





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