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.


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.

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