Monday, January 29, 2018

Don’t Fight the Muse. She Knows What She’s Doing.

What do you do when your muse is silent? Throw a hissy fit? Sulk? Play the blame game? Me too. But instead of working, these anchor me deeper into the depths of despair.

Don’t you love it when your muse is singing? When she rises in the morning, and dances around the room, whispering sweet everythings in your ear? When she sits with you at the keyboard and pours her heart into your prose?

Me too.
But what about her silence? Those times when she delivers neither inspiration, nor words?

I am learning to love these too.


Because I have discovered my muse always has a reason.
She knows what she's doing.

When nothing flows - the words, the motivation, the ability to be still and write - it is time. Time to stop tormenting myself. To stop churning and surrender to the wide-open yonder. Let go of the need to push on, and through.

I dislike the term “writer’s block". Always have. Yet many a dry spell has shaped my writing experience, including a year-long "block" in the middle of AWEN RISING. Now I finally understand.

When I am unable to write, it's because I have nothing to say.


Because I haven't stopped to listen. Or I am headed down the wrong road. Or there's work to be done before proceeding.

Like researching new settings, names, legends. Or sitting in silence, watching the morning light play on the swift-moving clouds, allowing space for the next thread to appear.

I am learning to trust the muse - because she always knows.

What to do. Where to go. Who to bring along. When to humor wayward characters. How to distinguish the good gals from the bad.

On encountering a deadend while driving, what do you do? Stop, reassess, check the map. Maybe find a new station on the radio. Turn right, left, or flip a U-ey to backtrack.

When hitting a literary wall, we can do the same. Crank the radio. Dance a jig. Run errands. Take a drive. Let the mind wander. Move from the desk to a comfy chair. A cafe. A coffee shop.

I am down to the last scene of AWEN STORM, Book Two of the AWEN trilogy. The main characters are within spitting distance of the final hurrah. And while I’ve known for a long time how this leg will end, and had plans to polish it off this morning, I encountered a wall of resistance.

It sent me out for groceries, in the pre-dawn hour. To Walmart where I loaded up on sugary treats after a brief embargo. McDonald’s for a Egg McMuffin, oh yes I did. Then Winco, because I forgot the crackers.

Back home, I sorted a weeks' worth of clothes and lugged them downstairs. Loaded the washer. Took towels out of the dryer. And in the middle of the laundry room, my muse whispered.

"The ending is already written."

You  mean that cool scene we cut from the prologue of Book One?

"Yessss. That's the one. That's your ending."


My muse isn't being mean. She’s not punishing me. And there’s nothing I have done to offend her. She is calling me to listen. To be still and know.

In this case, extra words would be wasted effort.
The ending is done.

So lighten up. Surrender to the silence. Let your mind wander. Let it play. Your muse will whisper, and you will hear. And the silences will grow shorter and shorter. 

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

O.J. Barré is author of the Awen trilogy, a genre-bending fantasy set in 2042. Steeped in current, ancient, and future history twists, the Awen series offers danger, adventure and romance for a cast of modern-day druids, dragons, reptilian beings, and magical animals. Book One, Awen Rising, will be released August 1, 2019. Book Two, Awen Storm, in 2020. And Book Three, Awen Tide, in 2021. A prequel set in Medieval France is also planned.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Woohoo! I just joined the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and guess what!

Many of the members are writers I know from my early blogging days. The IWSG is headed by Alex Cavanaugh. Hi Alex! I also see Roland Yeomans, Karen, Hart, Lynda, Julie, Heather, Stephen, Denise C., Arlee/Lee, Michael, Jemi, Angela, and Denise Y. And those are just the names I recognized at first glance.


So that's where all my "old" friends ended up.

I am ashiver with excitement, looking forward to getting reacquainted. AND meeting the other two hundred writers.

So what's it all about, Alfie? Are you a writer, thinking the IWSG might be right for you?

I borrowed this from the IWSG website:

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! If it links to Google+, be sure your blog is listed there. Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional! 

February 7 question - What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

The awesome co-hosts for the February 7 posting of the IWSG are Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia,Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

So. There you have it. I joined an online writer's group. And am mondo excited.

Happy Friday, y'all!

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

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming AWEN trilogy, a rollicking fantasy set in 2042CE that combines current, ancient, and future history. 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.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Welcome 2018

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!

Another year has rolled around, and the time has gotten away. I think often of you. Yet, seldom have I reached out to say so.

I miss you, my friend. From the depths of my being, and the bottom of my heart, I miss you.

2017 was intense at times, so-so at others. And now and again, spectacular.

FYI - The highlighted phrases are linked to blog posts on that particular topic, if you would like to read more.

Last winter was difficult, with piles of snow that began accumulating in early December, and never melted until mid-February. This winter has been oh-so-much better.

Then came the fires that ripped through the new growth, as summer stripped the moisture and life from everything, and fouled the air with smoke.

In May, I began using d­oTERRA essential oils. I love the physical, mental, and emotional medicinal properties of the oils. And doTERRA’s supplements, greens, and protein mix are game-changers, giving me the oomph I'd been needing.

In mid-June, I began working part-time for Healthy Family Chiropractic, a group of activator docs. It was odd in the beginning, working for someone else (it’d been 20 years). And while I get paid less than half the amount I would normally make, I show up for work, adjust patients, and the rest is taken care of by my employer.

At June’s end, I celebrated 60. Another decade mark. The hip is still an issue, but with regular chiropractic care, massage, stretching, CBD oil, and doTERRA’s Deep Blue, the pain is manageable.

In August, my sister, bro-in-law, their two Shitzus, and I, went to Livingston, Montana, for a fly show. We detoured through the northern section of Yellowstone on the way up, and through Craters of the Moon coming home.

Yes, I am still writing. Following my bliss. I completed Book One of the AWEN trilogy. And the first draft of Book Two is nearing completion. My self-imposed deadline has come and gone (December 31st) but I am writing the ending as we speak. Once this draft is a wrap, I will set the manuscript aside for a month or so, and start writing Book Three.

At the beginning of 2017, I sent queries to a few literary agents, seeking representation. As each rejection arrived, my inner-writer withered a little more. I got stuck in limbo. So I decided to stop actively pursuing an agent, at least until I am closer to the end of the trilogy. Assuming I don’t decide to self-publish.

In July 2017, the books' titles changed to: AWEN RISING, AWEN STORM, and AWEN TIDE. Shorter. Snappier. More descriptive. Easier to say. Easier to sell. Easier to remember.

My dual priorities for 2018, are writing Book Three and polishing Book Two. The remainder of the story is coalescing, and ideas are arriving for the finale grand.

By year-end 2018, I plan to have two completed fantasy manuscripts (totaling 220,000 words!), on my way to three.

I know, I know. You want to read them. Well, good news!

I am still in need of Beta Readers. To be a beta, you basically read the manuscript in either MS Word or PDF format, then tell me your thoughts. What worked for you? What didn’t? What would you change? What threads were left dangling? Were the resolutions too contrived? Any unbelievable characters, or events? That sort of thing.

If you would like to beta read, let me know by leaving a comment below, or email me at ojbarreauthor at gmail dot com. I will forward the file for your personal perusal. Book One is ready to send now. Book Two, later this year.

In 2018, we're planning a spring trip to Yachats, on the Oregon coast. A friend from SoCal is coming to Boise in mid-April. Depending on finances, and available time-off, maybe a trip to Ventura. Or Atlanta. Or Orange Beach. And definitely more time exploring the Idaho mountains.

I have also opened to the possibility of relationship. With a like-minded fellow. Time will tell.

Who knows what else 2018 will bring?

I am predicting good fortune, happiness, and joy. May you be blessed with an abundance of all you hold dear, including love, laughter, good health, and cheer. 

Happy 2018, my friends. Never forget that you are loved.

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

P.S. The highlighted phrases are linked to blog posts on that particular topic, if you would like to read more.

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming AWEN trilogy, a rollicking fantasy set in 2042AD, that combines ancient, current, and future history. 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.
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