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Delaware, United States
Deborah Hawkins, penned Debra Renée Byrd, began writing after a blank book project in elementary school and never stopped, fashioning stories based on her favorite TV shows and movies before creating more original works. She studied at the University of the Arts and Florida State University before settling down and graduating from Temple University. She now resides in her hometown of Dover, DE, where she spends most of her time at work or at church. She loves fantasies, superheroes, is a trekkie and a brown coat. She loves television and lives for Final Fantasy video games, having collected most of them. She has read a myriad of authors, and her favorite authors change whenever she finds a new book that changes her life... "When you can't run, you crawl. When you can't crawl...well, you know the rest." -Tracey, Firefly, "The Message"

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Birthing a Darling??

This week has passed me by, but since it started, I have started (once again) editing my fantasy WIP Save the Queen. The big change this time: adding an opening scene.

I'm almost sure I've talked about this already, and if not, whoa deja vu. Anyway, I was so scared to do it. When it came to editing my original opening sequence, back-to-back chase scenes, I had: 1) changed the beginning by not starting on a literary long-shot of the scenery before zooming in on the impending danger and focusing right on the main character's reaction to the danger; 2) decided that the MC's supporting characters wouldn't leave her hanging through BOTH chase scenes but only one; 3) decided that since it is the job of these particular supporting characters to keep the MC alive, that they should never leave her side in EITHER scene; 4) described these characters in quick bursts and not even show the interior of their home, since it would be (not a spoiler) demolished between these scenes anyway, and elaborate on who they are as people later.

So, almost needless to say, when I received critiques, the question of the year was, "Who are these people we're supposed to care about?"

Since I joined Agent Query's Spec Fic Unit (lol), I've heard the phrase "Kill your darlings" more times than I can count, but I never thought of having to BIRTH one. I'm a very stubborn writer, which I know is bad, and I was set on this vision from when I was 18 years old. No writer wants to move off that first vision. It's their baby. So even though I went through 1-4 up there, the idea of NOT starting with the action kind of made me anxious.

Which is silly. Because if I don't take the time to establish who my charries are and where they live, who will care that their home just got torn to pieces? So I thought about it for a couple of days, posted my thoughts about it on AQC, thought about it for another couple of days, chatted on AQC to procrastinate, and then, I did it! I wrote 500+ words painting a snapshot of the characters I want people to like for the next 100k.

So, I'm proud of myself. (These posts always sound so vain. lol)

In other news, the high school drummer who lives behind us is giving me cause to commit homicide. This will be premeditated. I will plead guilty by way of gradual deterioration of sanity.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Adaptations: To Beef or Not To Beef

The Last Airbender came on Nickelodeon this weekend. I can't remember which day, but I knew I wasn't watching it. Why? Because I spent 13 dollars to see it in 3D, and it was not only terrible, but there were only two long-shot scenes that were in 3D. This one was my fault, because I, like everyone else who was in the theatre the day the first teaser was shown, saw that my favorite Nickelodeon anime was being adapted by the one-and-only-and-awful M. Night Shyamalan. Most anime/Avatar: TLA fans' major problem with this terrible adaptation was that the characters weren't Asian. Honestly, I didn't care. My problem was that M. Night tried to squeeze 20 episodes (about 7 hours) of information into a 90 minute film. So, not only did we not get to really know Aang, or even get to truly love Uncle Iro, but we couldn't go on the day-to-day journeys with Aang like we did in the ATLA. Another major beef I had with this one, was the complete change of the epic Aang-Avatar freak out where he wiped out the entire Fire Nation in the Season Finale. Instead, M. Night opted for Aang raising up a really huge wave to scare away the Fire Nation quietly. *cue duck lips of disapproval*

I think I left a long comment on someone's blog about some of the book-to-film adaptations I loved and hated, or started to and stopped my diatribe. The 50s thought any book that didn't have a happy ending deserved one, so they ruined a couple of books that I read in high school (The Good Earth, Fahrenheit 451). Then, there is the BIGGEST offender, A Clockwork Orange, in which some idiot director over-sexualized the scenery of an already sexually violent and ultraviolent book, and then had the nerve to make it seem like Alex was happily improving through the Ludovido technique. He was freaking out and upset that he had no say in how his life should turn out. "Aren't I a clockwork orange?" That was the pivotal question in the book, and it was nowhere to be found in the movie that I'm pretty sure is only a cult classic because no one who likes it read the book.

However, there are some movie adaptations that either stuck to the book, for which I was grateful, to those who successfully changed the plot/pace/situations to the point where I was satisfied. Cases in point: The Outsiders, and The Green Mile. These were two books I read in Junior High (in school and at my leisure respectively), and I cried like a family died at the end of these. Heck, I cried through an entire chapter of The Green Mile. When I got to see the movies, still tears. Why? Because the directors followed the books. There were no happy endings, no big changes in script or plot.

One movie in particular in which I was glad they deviated was The Watchmen. I started reading the graphic novel a few days before I saw the movie, so I was excited to see pieces of what I'd already read brought to life on the big screen. (Jeffrey Dean Morgan getting beaten to death is SUCH an epic scene! And the whole opening sequence set to "Times Are A'Changing?? 2 thumbs up.) One thing readers complained about was the lack of this LONG, insistent comic book within the graphic novel that just hammered into our heads the idea of cycles. I wanted so badly to skim through those when I got to them. The director left those out, thankfully. I was also thankful for the major deviation from the book: how half the city was destroyed (This movie came out like 5 years ago, so I'm going to spoil it up). In the novel, Ozymandias, to bring the world together instead of start nuclear war, staged an alien invasion. I believe there was a dimensional teleporter involved. I don't particularly remember. At that point, however, I'd already seen the movie and was thinking, "What the heck?!" In the movie, Oz did a more sensible thing and created a machine that acted in the same manner of Dr. Manhattan, an accidentally radiated scientist who became superhuman and was the reason we won Vietnam (that was a scene straight out of my nightmares). The machine's cloned powers destroyed the city, and the world came together to blame Dr. Manhattan, who leaves for another planet or galaxy to wait out everyone else dying.

I ramble on like a total geek to say that movie adaptations can be done well, and they can be done poorly. How they fare can sometimes be left in the hands of the audience. I, myself, will forever hold out for the movies that stay true to the books I loved.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lua (a poem)

So I don't really have anything to blog about, so I thought I'd share a poem I wrote in college about a very deep, seemingly one-sided crush I had on this guy. It's based around the song he was singing at the time the poem takes place: Lua by Bright Eyes.

I'm tired of being cold
Why don't you set down your guitar
And tell me to come sit in your lap?
Sing some more Lua for me
Let the sound of your voice
Against those words
Roam around in me
Being alone with you
Like we were then
Felt too close to the real
I bet you'd feel my heart
Lose a little weight
If you kissed me right now
We can stay conscious if you want to
But I'd rather just
Look at you in the moonlight
And know I can count on you

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Favorite Lines from A Song of Ice And Fire

I believe A Dance With Dragons is the most recent book from the great  George R. R. Martin. I'm only about a quarter into it, but I saw in his afterward that he said this book was three bitches and bastard. I'm loving the slow-down but also the continued foreshadowing, hopefulness, hopelessness, and suspense that is already happening!

With that said, I thought I'd take a moment to stop and pay homage to some of my favorite lines so far from this series. And awaaay we go.

"He won't be a boy forever, and Winter is coming." --Eddard "Ned" Stark (may he rest in peace) regarding his 4-year-old son Rickon.

"I am a sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the wall." --Part of the Oath of the Night's Watch

"For the night is dark and full of terrors." --Melisandre, the Red Priestess

"There are no men like me. There is only me." --Jaime Lannister

"Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died." --Jorah Mormont

"The things I do for love." --Jaime Lannister...right before pushing Bran Stark from a window.

"You know nothing, Jon Snow." --Ygritte the Wildling

"First lesson, stick them with the pointy end." --Jon Snow teaching Arya Stark a valuable lesson in sword fighting.

Inside My Head: Naming the MC

On Twitter, I recently posted an important (not so serious) question regarding if I could get away with NOT naming my main character for my upcoming project The Sprite Child's Epic (by Migan the Hillsprite). The idea of the story came from wanting to expand on a series of books my supporting character Brodie gives to my main character Ghuli in Save the Queen. I thought it would be nice to try to actually write the books she is reading in the library.

What I did first was try to figure the name of each book in the series. They're still tentative except for the first because I named it in STQ. "Catch of the Faeriefly." I already know I have to work on these three major factors: what does this world look like, what is my main character like, and what happens when she, you know, catches the faeriefly? The first couple of paragraphs came to me easily, and I typed them out no sweat.

But when it came to typing out her name, I had nothing.

It's been awhile since I've worked extensively on a story that wasn't STQ or where I was building a world from scratch, so the idea of coming up with a new name wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. An ex once said he likes for names to not be arbitrary, but because I never believed anything he said was worth much, I feel like nothing always needs to be deep. At the same time, when writing in a world that doesn't yet exist in literature, I wanted my MC's name to be accessible, at least by me. I decided to have the story take place before any of the races of STQ's world come together, so I knew I needed to deal with a Sprityn language not yet influenced by anything else.

Still nothing.

Because I was so stuck, I decided to let it go for a little while, knowing that by some random osmosis, my MC's name would come to me. I really have no memory of what I was doing when it finally struck me, but I thought of three simple words:

"You are Lenne."

This is a line my character Cyan tells another character when they are trapped in dire straits. It was a name he thinks up off the top of his head, but now it's a name that will once again connect these two stories. It also shows a little softness to my book's resident hardass. lol It means he read fairy tales as a child in his time between becoming a watchman. So not only does my little Sprite Child have a name, but now it all comes back full-circle.

*sigh of relief*

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

IWSG: Dreams and Well Wishes

Thank you, Alex, Tyrean, and Mitrhil!
Welcome to 2013! The world didn't end (and the Mayans didn't say it would, but people like to say that someone other than themselves were wrong, so whatever), and we saw yet another year where we're supposed to be flying around like the Jetsons and only just now have electric cars.

But at any rate, for those who don't know, the Insecure Writer's Support Group was founded by a ninja named Alex who makes you feel like you can take on the world just by blogging! The link up there will take you to a list of many other writers who come together once a month to vent their insecurities and/or kick them in the face for a month of relief and productivity.

With that said, welcome to another year where we as writers get to try again. By now, we may know the "rules", the definitive do's and don't's of writing, but we have also learned to learn what works for us because writers aren't made from cookie cutters. We're all different. We all have our own unique view of whatever worlds we have decided to type up or scribble down. We have tried to mold ourselves into another writer, one someone else has said or one even we ourselves may think is better than who we really are. Hopefully, we've gotten over that in 2012 because now we're in 2013!

May 2013 be a year of clear thinking, minimal procrastinating, and lots and lots of writing. Hopefully, we finished that one manuscript in 2012. Hopefully, we slaved over and succeeded in (sort of) mastering its GOD AWFUL QUERY (I didn't). If not, we can always try again. A few of our writer friends succeeded in getting published in 2012! Hopefully, 2013 will be our year to, you know, at least pick up an agent.

I say all of this in the third person to encourage myself as well as everyone else who had high hopes 366 days ago and acquired the lowest of doubts by the time they reached 2 days ago. Doubt is the greatest enemy of anyone with a dream, and I say let's dare to dream bigger this year! And if doubt tries to sneak in, we'll punch it in the face and lock the door to whatever receptor it found vulnerable.

You can be the best!!! (Sarah Braverman, Parenthood)

Hey, this is my 50th Entry!!!