Blessed Are The Peace Makers

The Blog

January 15, 2013
by Olivia J. Herrell

Literary Blockbuster Challenge

Join me in the Literary Blockbuster Challenge with!

I am finally getting Peace Makers, the blog, back up and running after transitioning from to .org. Somehow I managed to lock myself out. For weeks. For the second time I have uninstalled and reinstalled. Everything. Fingers crossed it’s up, running and accessible to both you and me. Tomorrow. Next week. And forever and ever amen.

Now. Time for a quick update on Peace Makers:

Good lord willing I’ll be able to get back in here for more updates.

Until next time, Olivia J. Herrell

November 25, 2012
by Olivia J. Herrell

Race For The Finish Line

I have fled in the shape of a raven of prophetic speech.” ~ Taliesin

It is Day 25 of NaNoWriMo and I must admit that I’ve fallen so far behind I’ll never catch up. But I am committing to sixteen hundred and sixty-seven words a day for the last six days of November (including today). That’s another 10K. I can do it. Yes I can.

Since I stopped to chart chapters and characters in an Excel worksheet for an overview, writing has been painfully slow. A nibble here, a peck there.

Such is my process, though. I could’ve kept typing, churning out words that I may or may not keep, all in the name of word count. But that just seemed silly. Instead I decided to step back to get the big picture. Now that I have it, I’m just floundering. Or so it seems.

A few days ago I went to the park to walk. As I’ve shared before, it’s one place I can get quiet enough to hear the story. I wasn’t disappointed. I got some great new threads and storylines. But it was slightly disconcerting to realize that they were for the next book, nothing for this one.

Which means: I’ve already been given everything I need for Book One. It’s sink or swim time with what I’ve been given.

Truth is, I am eighty-five percent done and methinks that scares the poopdiddlysquat out of me. Hence the hovering over, around and near my laptop and generally twisting in the wind. Doesn’t it sound like I need to take a walk? (my hip hurts) Or wash the car before the temperature drops and it gets cold again? (don’t wanna get wet or change clothes)

But I won’t do either. My little tail-end will be glued to this chair until I tap out another chapter. Please let it be easier to come by than the last one.

Because THE END is in sight. And I’d like to race across the finish line, not limp.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Dr. Olivia J. Herrell is the author of Blessed Are The Peace Makers, the Blog, and is currently working on the first of a Southern Urban Fantasy (trilogy) of the same name.

November 15, 2012
by Olivia J. Herrell

How Do You Get a God’s-Eye View of Your Story?

I am proud of myself. NaNoWriMo has helped me buckle down and get some real writing done. For the last fifteen days I’ve averaged close to a thousand words a day. For this undisciplined writer that is big. Really big.

Peace Makers is moving forward in leaps and bounds. ‘The End’ is in sight. The story elements are mostly in place. It’s now a matter of finishing some chapters, adding one or two more. Fleshing out others, further developing characters and scenes, rearranging and revising the flow here and there.

I recently read a Galley Cat article by Jeffrey Scott. He suggested using an Excel Spreadsheet to get a “God’s-Eye View” of your story. I’ve dabbled with Storybook 4, which is cumbersome and a bit daunting and hasn’t really clicked for me.

The Excel spreadsheet looks efficient, effective and easy to use. I’ve kept track of everything (except characters) in my head. It’s time to dump all that out so I can see the big picture and direct things accordingly.

So my task this weekend, in addition to writing every day, is to set up a Peace Makers Excel Story Board.

As of tonight the official word count for Blessed Are The Peace Makers is 72,682, 14,481 words of which I have written over the last fifteen days for NaNoWriMo. Thank you NaNo for giving me the motivation and impetus I needed to get this done!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

P.S. I also need beta readers, an indie publisher, cover art and (if possible) a book trailer. How exciting! It is so awesome to be at this point in the process. Woohoo!

Dr. Olivia J. Herrell is the author of Blessed Are The Peace Makers, the Blog, and is currently working on a Southern Fantasy trilogy of the same name.

October 31, 2012
by Olivia J. Herrell
1 Comment

NaNoWriMo and Me

Well. I did it. I signed up for NaNoWriMo today, registering just six hours before the action begins. Since then I watched NCIS. Ate homemade chili and Halloween candy. And made notes for NaNoWriMo.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. From the NaNo website:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel…”

Technically speaking, I am cheating. I am not beginning a new novel. I’m finishing the one that is halfway done. NaNo (I hope) will provide the perfect impetus to finish the last half in the time allotted.

I am in need of cover art. And, if I self-publish, which I’m leaning toward, I’ll need a publisher as well. If any of you have artists and publishing companies you recommend, I greatly appreciate your input.

To my friends and family: please know that for the next thirty days, when I am not at work making money to pay the bills, I will be behind the keyboard writing a novel. If you see me or hear of me doing anything but that, please send me home.

To my fellow NaNo writers: ONWARD!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

October 11, 2012
by Olivia J. Herrell

Mormon Diaries by Sophia L. Stone

Have you ever been confronted with an idea contrary to your existence, a truth so enormous that it shakes the very foundation of your being? Or had a life-quaking moment when all your beliefs are shattered, and you’re left bereft, adrift in the million jagged pieces that used to be your world?

Sophia L. Stone had one such occasion and in Mormon Diaries she shares her intimate struggle through a devastating crisis of faith, as well as the strength and support she discovered along her journey.

In the spring of 2012, while participating in a blog challenge, Sophia wrote a series of essays to help her understand her dilemma. Mormon Diaries is a compilation of those essays, written in a reflective style, beginning from the first lines:

“Coming here was foolish. At least that’s what I told myself as I sat in my psychologist’s office in March of 2012.”

The reflective style separated me from the anguish that Mrs. Stone endured, but my heart ached for her nonetheless.

Mormon Diaries is available in paperback through and, as well as ebook download for Kindle and Nook through the same sites.

Congratulations, Mrs. Stone. Mormon Diaries is a brave and bold effort, a must read for anyone in a quandry about their beliefs, their faith, or about life in general.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Dr. Olivia J. Herrell is the author of Blessed Are The Peace Makers, the Blog, and is currently working on a Southern Fantasy trilogy of the same name.

September 16, 2012
by Olivia J. Herrell

Censor Equals Stifled Muse

I sat down to my manuscript and had a moment of truth. It hadn’t been opened in a week, not since last Sunday, at this same time. Where have I been?

Good question. I’ve been staying away. On purpose. But not exactly. My muse, aka my creative self, went bye-bye. All because I cut the bulk of the last chapter I had written.

It was a shocking scene, delivered whilst drinking Coca Cola and eating wings at the Cinema Tavern. Later, rereading the chapter, I blushed. Then decided that maybe it would be more appropriate to reveal toward the end, rather than in chapter two. So I cut it. For later.

Then something happened. That decision put a kibash on all further creativity. I couldn’t get anywhere near my manuscript.

So I give. Uncle. I’m leaving here and moving that scene back to where it originated. Then on with the show!

Here’s to a silent censor. And a mollified muse.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Dr. Olivia J. Herrell is the author of Blessed Are The Peace Makers, the Blog, and is currently working on a Southern Fantasy trilogy of the same name.

September 9, 2012
by Olivia J. Herrell

Research Equals Inspiration

There are writing days and there are research days. Others are days to agonize, but not in the conventional sense of the word. (Those are the days when my imagination gets to run wild and play. See To Agonize, Or Not To Agonize.)

As a novelist, I am mostly a pantser. This means, for me, that everything starts out with one thought that leads to one idea. From that seed grows the general story, the plotting, the beginning and the end, and the first two characters emerge: light and dark.

But the pantser aspect is that I have no idea where it’ll happen, how I’ll get from here to there, what supporting characters will show up to help out or hinder, what twists will emerge, or which new threads will demand to be written in to the story (read rewrites).

I’ve found that delving in to existing and possible threads, via research, stimulates and provides juice for my imagination. I can’t seem to hit it over the head and click, click, click, put things together, though.

Instead I’m more like Johnny Five, voraciously needing input, until suddenly I can look up at the stars, throw my head back and laugh*. Because another piece of the story is revealed. The tiny connections gleaned from the raw fodder coalesce to a point of light that leads the way.

That said, I have a need to twist history just a little, tweak it to weave my story which is set in the future. Public figures are involved, so I must brush up on those proprieties.

I’ve spent much of today in research, mostly online, but also reading printed material I’d picked up some months ago. In between I cleared away a bit of clutter, swept, mopped and shook out rugs: a few of those unthinking, necessary things that give the mind time to wander and process.

I am so close. Sooo close. Getting down to the nitty and the gritty. But I’ve yet to uncover the final connectors that will give me the hutzpah to do it. Write the story this way, that is. Because I’m certain that’s how it went down.

Just sayin’.

If you’ve made it this far, and are trying to make any sense out of this article in any context other than writing, I’m sorry. There is none.

Happy 9/9@9pm EDT

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Oh, I almost forgot. This actually prompted my post, a chilling article for those, like me, who are looking at weather and other patterns. I would much prefer to stick my head in the sand. But this dang novel won’t let me. Mysterious Changes in Ocean Salt Spur NASA Expedition

*I couldn’t find the laugh scene on youtube, but this is the scene in which Johnny Five (in Short Circuit) figures out that his impending disassemble-ment means no more Johnny Five.

September 4, 2012
by Olivia J. Herrell
1 Comment

Eye of the Storm

The Labor Day Weekend turned in to a much-needed occasion for me to rest and regroup. Even better I churned out two new chapters and several thousand more words for my manuscript.

I wrote a chapter while eating wings at Cinema Tavern, one of the only area restaurants open today. Though I was bummed that my usual writing spot was closed, CT proved to be the perfect backdrop for pouring out my villain’s nastiness. I got carried away telling her sordid story and drank one too many colas. I’m pretty sure she got us kicked out of any PG13 ratings today, too.

Once home, I moved my writing chair out of the bedroom, and in to the room between the laundry and the porch. I am happy to report that after minimal shuffling, and tacking a couple of pictures on the wall, I now have a room that is light and airy and much more conducive to writing than anything else I’ve tried in this house.

Success at last. Yeehaaa!

Best of all, the word count for the main Peace Makers manuscript finally broke 40,000 and is now up to 41,460 (plus a couple thousand more words I’ve yet to marry to the main). For those of you who may not know, word count is a measure a writer uses to guage her progress toward the completion of the work.

Without chapters, scenes and word count, we would have no benchmarks, no cause for celebration, no much-needed pats on the back, until we swallowed the whole elephant and typed the conclusive THE END. In my case, that will be somewhere around ninety to a hundred thousand.

Finally, I spent too much time downloading and trying to understand how to use a free program called Storybook. It is for plotting, manipulating scenes and keeping track of characters, and otherwise managing one’s unruly manuscript. From its looks, the program is a bit unruly, too.

It may take a while for me to grasp how to use it. If anyone has pointers, I’d be grateful.

Happy Day After Labor Day.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Dr. Olivia J. Herrell is the author of the blog Blessed Are The Peace Makers, titled after her in-process Southern Fantasy, a trilogy of the same name.

September 1, 2012
by Olivia J. Herrell

If Not Happiness, Then What?

“A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on
earth.” ~ George Bernard Shaw (Quotation of the Day, The Free Dictionary)

Really? I’d like to try.

Wouldn’t you?

Tonight I brought my laptop to bed and wrote to Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changin’.

Tomorrow. Monday. Writing days. Must get this manuscript written and ready for Decatur Book Festival 2013.

Happy Birth Day to my greatniece, Havilah Evonne, who was born at 6:08 Portland (OR) time yesterday, our Blue Moon baby!

~ Olivia J. Herrell

Dr. Olivia J. Herrell is the author of the blog Blessed Are The Peace Makers, titled after her in-process Southern Fantasy, a trilogy of the same name.