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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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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A PSA from AQC (almost): Editing & Critiquing

Now that work has slowed down (because I made it), I can focus on a topic near and dear to my heart: editing and critiquing! This was the topic for the AQC chat last night, but I had Easter play rehearsal, and then my friend wanted my sister and I to come over and watch wrestling (which instead, we talked for 5 hours lol), so I was only able to peek in for a second, then skidaddle for a late and yummy dinner my cousin made.

I believe, though, that the topic was for editing and critiquing the work of others, and how to go about doing it. As I've just acquired my partner from The Matchelor (I'm so excited/anxious/nervous!) at Falling for Fiction, I felt the topic kismet!

Now, why are editing and critiquing so near and dear to my heart? I don't know. (Shoot me, right?) It just happened one day in my Dramatic Structure class, where we had to write, then sit in these tiny groups and read what each other wrote, then discuss the good and the bad. Then, sometimes, EVERYONE had to read it. Workshops still kind of make me cringe, because having more than 3 people read my stuff made me feel extremely naked, and I sometimes run through the house in fear of being seen even when no one's home if I left my towel in my room! But there was something about looking at someone else's work and seeing the little grammatical errors, the continuity, repetition (the rambling *points at self*), and being able to correct it and/or steer the writer in a better direction that made me feel powerful. Can hardly do it to my own work to save my life, but that's what others are for!

Now, a few do's and don'ts that I imagine the AQ-Crew went over last night.

DO: Be honest and specific. "I liked it." "I didn't like it." Those aren't good enough. What didn't you like about it? What did you like the most? What worked in his story? If you hated it, why?

And if you did hate it: DON'T be mean. I'm going to be honest: I'm a blunt person. My friends say I'm mean, and one calls me a jerk. lol Once, after a classmate wrote a short story 15 pages past the allowed limit and past the allowed margins by an entire inch, and the story was terrible, I let my emotions (it made me fairly angry) known in my written critique, and he looked at me sideways for a long time the following day. Don't be that girl. You want people to like you even if you're sort of judging them after what you've read. lol Instead of doing what I did, take it as an opportunity to help the writer better their work. You can be honest without killing someone's dream (I really hope I didn't kill his dreams).

DO: Open up your imagination to where the writer is going. I read a lot of different genres, and last year I decided to pick up my first hard fantasy to read. I was nervous, because I couldn't even finish The Fellowship of the Ring, and the book seemed to be about the same thickness. But I opened my mind to it, and I was plunged into a great world and story that I didn't want to end! (It was The Enduring Flame Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory.) It might be hard to read historical fiction if you love science fiction or steampunk when you like romance, but always try something once. Hey, you might even get inspired (it helped me find my pen name).

And with that, DON'T try to make the writer be you. I didn't mean for this to be anecdote theatre, but I once tried to get my friend to read a young adult flash fiction I wrote, and she sent me a short story she wrote. I lived a sheltered suburban life up and down the Eastern Shore; she grew up in a colorful town an hour from Miami. We had some issues with the way we saw the world. lol I had a rather steamy scene that she wanted even steamier, and the children in her story spoke as though they were horny teenagers. Our environments and life experiences shaped our characters and their circumstances. Since neither of us lived in each other's shoes, when the time came to say what we should change, those experiences and circumstances were the first things we said needed to, and we both said, "No." Again, keep an open mind. We all come from different walks of life, so take that into account.

Also, DON'T be so rigid with the technical stuff. If the writer wanted an English teacher, they would've asked for one. Some typos are accidental; some comma placements are purposeful. I think we all learned the basics, and then we decided the world was our oyster. Perhaps that run-on sentence was supposed to be a run-on. I like to start sentences with And, But, So. It means something different for everyone.

Finally, because I have to leave work soon, DO take into account you are holding someone's baby. They slaved for a long time and struggled with letting the baby-sitter take it away for the weekend. Don't take it for granted. Care for it the way you want yours to be cared for, and build a relationship and friendship with the person, so that you know there will always be someone in your corner when you're above to give up your baby.


Express Yourself: Childhood Books

Always a big thanks to Jackie Felger and Dani Bertrand for giving me something to do here. lol Click the links above to see their favorite childhood books and the list of other bloghop participants.

This week for Express Yourself, they would like to know what books we enjoyed as kids. And now, I recite a poem from my favorite childhood book:

Something big has been here
What it was, I do not know,
for I did not see it coming,
and I did not see it go,
but I hope I never meet it,
if I do, I'm in a fix,
for it left behind its footprints.
They are size nine-fifty-six.

That is the title poem from Jack Prelutsky's Something Big Has Been Here. I also still remember "Happy Birthday, Mother Dearest" and even recited "I Should Have Stayed in Bed Today" in class for Show and Tell, and the teacher had my classmates try to remember some of the things that happened to me in the poem. I will probably buy this book for my baby cousin and my future children. Poetry is love, and it's such a fun way to get kids to read.

Other favorites of mine when I was a child (in body. I'm still one at heart lol) included Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar, The Magic School Bus by Joanna Cole, and Corduroy by Don Freeman.

Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Freeday Ramblings and News

So, I'm not working today. I have it set in my head that since I actually had something to do all day yesterday at work, that I'm going to sit here and play Hexatron Rogue. Because I'm a nerd, and the other secretary has not worked a full 80 hours for about 2 months now. At least I get Good Friday off next week. I love days off. This goes back to my boredom at this desk, but I've also been put on tasks that salaried people used to do, but I'm still a temp. Fortunately, I was encouraged to apply for one of those positions, so now I play the waiting game.

Good news that I can't wait for: my mom has decided to rent an apartment. She's fallen down the stairs a couple of times, and her knees aren't taking that well. Her new apartment is just up the street, and it's a one story, which she has wanted for a while now. This means, the house will now be mine, my sister's, and our cousin's. A salaried job would do us all wonders, as they work at "The Bullseye", and awful job for anyone who works there or knows anyone who works there. I actually said at 25 that I planned to move out by 30, but now my mom's moving, so I don't have to. Maybe now I can feel like a real adult. Plus, she's a LOUD morning person. I can't handle it anymore.

I've been adding more description to my fantasy WIP and editing it. I'm almost back to the end, and this time, I plan to acquire beta readers. I might even have my sister back on board after about 7 years. She has her Masters in English, and she always looks at my work without that family loving eye.

Tomorrow, we (sis and I) are getting paid to do a Zumba demonstration for a health fair. Our church has been chosen for a big health grant, and this is the kick-off for it. I'm about to start teaching Zumba again, and I'm so excited. I was nervous and tentative to teach when I first started a year ago, and with this break I've (involuntarily) taken, I miss it! It's something I really love doing, and I see myself doing it for a little while longer.

This post is almost not at all writing-related, but I felt like posting and sharing. Have a happy Friday!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A PSA from AQC: Stop Right Now

Thank you very much. I need somebody with a human touch.

Sorry, Spice Girl moment. We didn't have a set topic last night, but one thing we kind of floated around was knowing when to stop and move on to another project.

As writers, we get to a few points in our lives where the current project just isn't working. There seem to be two major points that signify this:

Before the finish-line: 1) You are writing and writing and deleting and deleting, and nothing is coming together for a story you deem publishable. This is the point I reach often. I work on a project. Read it. Gag, then don't look at it for another few months. Sometimes, if another idea sparks that might be better suited, I will go back and try to reconstruct the disaster that was put away.

After the finish-line: 2) You're past the writing, editing, and polishing of your first manuscript, and you're querying...and querying...and querying...and you get requests for partials and fulls...and get rejection after rejection after...well, you get the point. At this point, it is probably best to stop and decide whether something needs to be done to your manuscript, OR, as someone said last night, "Maybe it's not meant to be your FIRST book." There are times where you need to work on something else that will make a solid first impression, and once you've got that under way, go ahead back to your first baby and see if it's ready yet.

Though this is a short entry today, I found the advice of the AQC veterans helpful and insightful. If you haven't joined already, visit to see what it's all about! There are tons of forums and groups waiting for you. ;)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Express Yourself: Lucky Charms!

No, no, no, not the cereal. Although host Jackie Felger does have a cute lucky thing she does with them, so go look at her lucky habits as well as her Top 10 Movies. And while you're at it, visit hot Dani Bertrand's, too. Because I said so. No, really, because this is a Bloghop, so there are many others who have done this. Go read theirs. :)

Also, here is Northern Irish Youtube sensation Adam eating Lucky Charms for the first time.

As I mentioned (kind of), today's Express Yourself question is: Do you have a lucky charm or a lucky ritual?

I do!

When renting a hotel room, I have to leap onto whatever bed will be mine for the night. Some people do this for fun. I do it as a christening sort of. If I don't do it right away, I think about it until I do.

Here are also some things I used to do but don't do anymore:

I used to make sure I said goodbye to my mom when she went to work because otherwise I thought something bad would happen to her on night shift.

I used to take my TY Beanie Baby Frog Smoochie with me on plane rides for good luck. If the seat beside me was empty, he even got buckled in.

See you next week!

Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest!

Thanks again to the great Alex J. Cavanaugh for a cool blogfest! Click his link to see the other bloggers' and his own favorites!

This is a tough choice for me. I've seen a THOUSAND movies! I might not even be exaggerating there. I even had a History of Film class, so I know a lot of random movies, too. To figure out my favorite movies was fairly easy. To put them in an order? Ehhhh.  But I think I did it.

The Countdown is on!

10. The Fast and the Furious - It brought us fast cars and Vin Diesel! lol It was also a surprisingly good story about a cop going a little too native to bring down the bad guy. I need to finish Tokyo Drift, then watch the next 2 movies before the new one comes out! Who knew it would become a series?!

9. Independence Day - "WE WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT! WE WILL NOT VANISH WITHOUT A FIGHT! WE'RE GONNA LIVE ON...WE'RE GONNA SURVIVE. TODAY WE CELEBRATE OUR INDEPENDENCE DAY!" Need I say more? I know it by heart. This movie gave me a nightmare or two, and I somehow missed that it was about aliens until I went to the theatre, but Will Smith AND Jeff Goldblum? Always a plus.

8. Serenity - If you're reading this after 8:30am, Swan Princess was here until I stopped by Alex's and realized I missed one of my FAVORITE favorite movies. But anyway, I watched Serenity not knowing there was such a thing as a show called Firefly (FOX will do that to you), and within the first 15 or so minutes, I was in love with all of the characters! There's a soft spot in my heart for fractured girls and the brothers (sibling brothers not black men lol) who love them. There's an even bigger soft spot in my heart for spaceship captains who try to be mean but really aren't. And the story of the reavers! Oh, my goodness, I still cry when I get to that scene. This movie was wonderfully made, and I love Joss Whedon and the Browncoats who fought to get it done!

7. Beauty and the Beast - A movie about a weird girl who *gasps* reads and meets a beast who is really a hot prince?! What more could a girl ask for. I had the song book and the soundtrack to Beauty and the Beast when I was a kid. It's my favorite Disney movie (though oddly enough doesn't include my favorite Disney songs). I could have added a few more Disney movies to my list, but I only had 10 slots.

6. Forrest Gump - Really, do I need to say anything about this one? Okay, one thing: Once day EVERY channel seemed to be playing it. My sisters and I watched it. When it went off, we turned and started watching it on another channel...When it went off again...We watched Forrest Gump for 6 hours.

5. The Wizard of Oz - Can't beat the classics. Judy Garland had the most powerful alto voice, and this movie appeals to my escapist fantasy mindset. You're thinking of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" right now. Don't deny it.

4. The Color Purple - "All my life, I had to fight!" Every black family uses a line from this movie in their every day lives. I wish I were joking. It's the quintessential coming into yourself movie, and I cry every time I watch the end.

3. Enchanted - The spin on the fairy tale done the best way imaginable. I love this movie, and I love its poke at fairy tale movies while maintaining the fairy tale formula. Boy meets girl, they marry in the morning. When Robert, who has said he doesn't sing or dance, started singing his heart song to Giselle the first time I saw it, I teared up. It was one of the most beautiful moments of a character arc in the history of film.

2. The Matrix - The movie that changed the world...Or did it open our eyes to the real one? Think about that. Even the Backstreet Boys paid homage to this in their video for The Call (Kevin's scene). Dark dystopian world, black leather and Ray Bans galore, and the special effects and fighting were so cool. Definite Christian subtext in the whole story, which I dug even more. The 2nd and 3rd movies were kind of blah, but Animatrix was a really cool addition to this series.

1. Amelie - While my roommate had this poster over her desk my freshman year of college, I had no idea what it was until a guy I had a stalker-like crush on told me I should watch it. When I did, I fell in absolute love. I even wrote a poem (in Spanish because I don't speak French) explaining how I AM Amelie. She embodies my whole outlook on life, and I feel like I should probably try to save the lives like she did. Then, perhaps, my Nino Quincampoix will finally knock on my door when I least expect it. God, I love that movie.

Thanks for sticking it out with me! Be sure to visit Alex and the other Movie Bloghoppers. :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Express Yourself: Game Shows!

So, we're not going to talk about how mixed up my mind is, but Express Yourself is on MONDAYS, not Thursdays.

Express Yourself is hosted by Dani Bertrand and Jackie Felger, and this week, they want to know what game show or reality tv show would we like to be on if we could.

I actually had a chance to audition for Wheel of Fortune, when the bus finally decided to roll over to the Mid-Atlantic tri-state area! It was a dumb process, though. You had to sign up, and your name got put in a big Bingo-style rolling cage, and they picked accordingly. Even if you got on stage to play one round, you might not have made it to the audition part, which came at a later date.

I would also (if I ever built up the courage) like to do The Voice or (if I built up the flexibility and lost the awkwardness) So You Think You Can Dance. I love to do both, and watching them makes me want to sing and dance during the commercials. :)

Mid-Atlantic Food and Wine Festival


Unfortunately, I was on the road, and then my niece needed the computer to do her homework, so I missed the weekly AQC chat. Thus, there is no PSA today.

To calm the masses who are now outraged and riotous with this news, here is a news video and article for the Mid-Atlantic Food and Wine Festival, which concluded this past Sunday with a Gospel Brunch in Wilmington, DE, and in which my choir and one of my church's other choirs sang. I haven't watched the video yet, so hopefully I get to later tonight.

Heavenly music goes down well...

This was the second year I pulled double duty, but we did get to stop and eat a few items. The lobster pot pie was awesome. I will mostly likely try to make this one day. I didn't get to try but 2 wines, neither of which I particularly liked. They must be sweet-sweet for me.

The highlight for me were the people who listened to us. A few ladies were just so full of energy and were two-stepping through one song. Even the servers at the Montrachet Wines table were dancing like we had just picked THEIR song (you know that song that when you hear it, you go "THIS IS MY SONG!"). It made me smile, and the strain of rehearsing and things were worth getting to see their excitement.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Change in Plans

If anyone comes looking for the rest of the AQC chat, first thank you. lol Secondly, I had to make a change to it, and it is now still in my Tuesday slot, but a shorter, less invasive version. Here is the link.

A PSA from AQC (Chat Series)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Express Yourself: The Colors!!

Another permanent blog day? Maaaaybe. =D

I actually did one of these a while back and never latched on to do it permanently. So what better time than now? Express Yourself is hosted by Jackie at Bouquet of Books and Dani at Entertaining Interests, so click their links to stop by.

This week is your favorite color! I stumbled on this today'ing blogs for yesterday's monthly IWSG bloghop, so stop by Laura's blog at My Baffling Brain to see her favorite color.

My favorite color is..... *drum roll*....


Did you know already? My blog is roughly the color of Pepto Bismol. I know it's really girly, as my sister tells me all of the time, but I love it. Maybe because it does make me feel like a girl, or it helps me assert my girliness, I don't know.

I like most shades, except for hot pink. It's too Barbie, as much as I loved Barbies growing up. My favorite shades would have to be between this gorgeous dark blushy color and this pale hint-of-yellow color.

I have a dress this color. I love it. I can't help it.

So there you have it, my favorite color!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

ISWG: Climbing from the Funk

Visit the originator here!

Sounds like a weird 70s song, doesn't it?

So this season I have gone from being infected by the depressed writer bug that went around, to a hopeful outlook for what 2013 will bring, to panic mode. Now that Spring is around the corner, I guess I will chalk all of the aforementioned to seasonal depression with manic tendencies. I've even started editing my manuscript again with less of a "Oh God, why am I doing this again?" and more of a "Hey, I can expand on this part right here!" Expound? Expand? >.>

Anyway, this will be a short one, but I just wanted to tell everyone to hang in there! Spring is coming, and with Spring hopefully sunny days and positive events, attitudes, and outlooks. If you're still fighting your way out of the writer's sinkhole many of us fell into, don't give up, and remember we're all here for you!

Thank you to Sensei Alex J. Cavanaugh for creating the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A PSA from AQC (Chat Series)

Good evening.

I was over-zealous in posting pieces of our chats in AQC, so I'm going to start from scratch and instead of give the chat, I will just list some of the important tips when moving into the business phase of publishing.

Reality of the time frame: the average time from signing to your book debut can be between 12 and 24 months. Major houses already have a set schedule, so you will have to be fit into an open slot.

Substantive edits are edits from your editor regarding anything from grammar to character/story development. Copy editing is more on the lines of proofreading and editing. You don't have to accept all of your editors' substantive edits, but it is a joint effort.

Publicists handle unpaid publicity, otherwise, the marketing department pays. Press releases, review outlets, and advanced copies used for review fall under the publicist.

Earning out means you get royalties. Selling through means being on track for another book.

The design department handles your cover design, font, and chapter headings and dividers. You won't have much say in these, but this department has far more experience.

It is wisest to give out advanced copies to people who will actually review your book. You want to produce buzz and word of mouth. Your publisher will also give away copies. Consider fellow writers, bloggers in your genre, and giveaways, but rely more on the first two.

Be sure to keep record of good reviews and blurbs provided by fellow authors that your publisher can use later.

This week's chat was hosted by historical fiction writer Sophie Perinot, aka Litgal! We have many established authors down at Agent Query Connect, so if you need help and aren't a member yet, sign up now! Our chats are every Monday at 9pm, so hurry before Monday comes back around. ;)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Back From the Future Blogfest!

What's this?? 3 in 1 day?! It must be my birthday. Well, it's not. Is it yours?! This is what happens when I catch up on a week's worth of blogs in one day. I blog binge. My final bite is for this blogfest Ninja Warrior Alex posted, and it's hosted by M. Pax, Suze, and Nicki Elson. It seems like a really cool thing to do, and since Save the Queen (tie-in) deals very much with my MC's future, I thought I should do this for myself as well! And away I go.

This is a bloghop! Click here!

You’re up before dawn on a Saturday when the doorbell rings. You haven’t brewed your coffee so you wonder if you imagined the sound. Plonking the half-filled carafe in the sink, you go to the front door and cautiously swing it open. No one there. As you cast your eyes to the ground, you see a parcel addressed to you … from you.

You scoop it up and haul it inside, sensing something legitimate despite the extreme oddness of the situation. Carefully, you pry it open. Inside is a shoebox — sent from ten years in the future — and it’s filled with items you have sent yourself.

What’s in it?

The first copy of Save the Queen signed by myself to myself letting me know I did it!

The VMD (it can play movies AND music!) of the movie directed by Bryan Singer with original scores and covers composed by me!

A picture of my husband with my 7-yr-old, 5-yr-old, and 2-yr-old children (Can't wait to see who THEY are lol).

Oh, look! A picture of our anniversary! We're holding the turtles in the Turtle Farm on Grand Cayman! He got the hint. hahaha

An autographed copy of Britney Spears' platinum single "Dance", thanking me for putting myself out there and sending her the song.

And one more, because I'm ambitious after all, a copy of my contemporary gospel album Speak!.

Yay. What's in your shoebox?!

Falling for Fiction hosts The Matchelor!

Are you one of those writers who has trouble finding CPs and Betas, and/or sees the Mixers but gets scared to join? Click the link below for a helpful push in the right direction!

Falling for Fiction proudly hosting THE MATCHELOR! All you have to do is fill out a questionnaire, and they will do the rest. :-D

The Matchelor: March 25-29. Spread the Word!

Why I Blog

Oh geez, 7 days went by like that *snap*, and then 2 more passed me by, too. I almost missed this week.

I believe, if I put my mind to it, I can add a permanent post on Tuesdays to reflect on what we at Agent Query Connect talked about in our Monday night chat. Monday was my first chat meeting since they changed it from Wednesday, so I was glad I got to be there for a little bit (and hopefully I can keep it up). One of the topics (I honestly don't remember the second, but it's still 8am) was whether or not we felt blogging helped an author with sales.

Now, of course, for us not-yet-there writers, it pretty much boils down to what we're doing it for at the moment. My main reason is so I'm not just talking to myself. I'm the type of crazy person who will sit by myself and speak out loud like I'm in an interview with Diane Sawyer or James Lipton, most likely James Lipton. It gives me a chance to think of what I will say when that blessed day comes. I'm not the best speaker, and I got through college without having to take a public speaking class, so as long as I prepare ahead of time, and because I can at least write out my thoughts coherently, blogging provides a good outline-like environment for me.

Another reason, I think, is to set a foundation for myself when that day comes that I'm a best (or at least good) selling author. It's not the best, but it's a start, and people can see where I started or how I started. Like a first draft blog. I've also been able to use it to showcase some of my old works or my off-the-cuff ideas, and I like to look back and say "Yay, I did that." *shoulder brush* or "Wow, you really obsessed over that dude." *head meet desk*

So, in conclusion (lol) I believe that is why I blog.