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.


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


v. hoped, hop·ing, hopes
1. To wish for a particular event that one considers possible: We are hoping for more financial support.
2. Archaic To have confidence; trust.
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.
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


de·spair; dəˈsper/
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
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


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


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.)


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

Connect with James Stryker: Twitter @JStryker21 or

Connect with me: Twitter @OJBarreAuthor 
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