My photo
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"

Search This Blog

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Freeday: Love Yourself!

Happy Friday!

I was thinking about this today, and another day possibly Sunday. There was a scripture, so it must've been Sunday, about loving others as you love yourself.

My immediate thought was: "But some people don't love themselves, so they can't love others."

And this is recurring problem for me as a writer, and I feel other writers go through this as well. Sometimes, we absolutely HATE ourselves when it comes to our own work. I've gone through many bouts of self-hate and seclusion when I received a harsh critique, especially once I realized it was right. I've had those moments where I thought I'll never make it and my writing isn't as good as I thought. I've also had moments where I thought, "That got published?!" Partially because I thought I could do better, partially because I didn't do better.

And you know what? Most likely, I'll do it again.

BUT, I and you who do it too must remember to try to love yourself and your writing more than you hate it. Remember why you started writing in the first place, remember someone (even if it was your mom) loved it, and someone (probably not your mom) loved it for more valid reasons than your mom because she has to.

Remember that YOU loved it, and compliment yourself on what you've accomplished. Some people will never put pen to paper. Give yourself a pat on the back for doing at least that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Introducing: Wednesday Words


As I said, I wanted to start blogging on Wednesdays, so I figured out what I could do, and it's an easy one. :) Every Wednesday, I'm going to use to pick a page of the book I'm reading and a line or two and post it. See? Very easy, and you get to see what I'm reading as well.

I'm currently reading the fabulous Mindy McGinnis's Not A Drop to Drink, which you may know by now has a German adaptation AND was picked up for a movie! Add it to your Goodreads, and all that other good stuff!

There are 310 pages, excluding the title pages and such, so from 1 to 310, has given me...13. And there are about 18 lines on that page, so from 1 to 18...5!

Page 13, Line 5 of Not A Drop to Drink:

"Meat's too tough. You burn up more energy chewing it than you get from eating it."

Coyote meat is what she's talking about. Oddly enough, I reflected back on that sentence just yesterday while reading! I was wondering if I'd go ahead and struggle with the meat anyway or try eating a coyote pup, kind of like a deer vs. veal comparison. Ah well. As far as I know, my civilization's not going to crumble down to that point while I'm alive.

Thanks for stopping by! And see you Friday. :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Express Yourself: The Last Book

Happy Tuesday! Welcome back to Express Yourself, created by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

This week they asked what the last book we read was. The title to my post is a not-very-clever play on the last book I read: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan.

This was actually the first werewolf novel I've ever read. I read The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike back when I was a teenager, then Fledgling by Octavia Butler, both vampire fiction. I happened to pick this up because...I was in the D's in the library? And the cover intrigued me? And I hadn't read a werewolf novel before. I hadn't heard of the author before.

But now that I have, I am in love. And already have the next book from the library.

The Last Werewolf is about (you guessed it) the last living werewolf, Jacob Marlowe, who has actually given up on living and plans to drink and smoke and wait for the hunter, who set out to kill him for eating his father, to come kill him. I'm not going to give anything away, because if you saw me reading it on Twitter, you know there was a twist that I should've seen coming and didn't.

Looking at reviews, some people hated it, and I've no idea why, unless they were looking for Twilight or something. It's very internal--Jacob goes through a lot of reflection--and reeks of the male species, lol. That's not a bad thing; it's a very masculine book to me. I enjoyed the principal characters, Jacob, Harley (who I imagined looks like an older version of Glen by his description), and Ellis (who I couldn't help but imagine looks like James Marsden mixed with Sephiroth). They were all unique and genuine. The dialogue between them was vivid and natural. The action was ACTION. There wasn't anything I didn't like about this book. I gave it 5 stars.

So if weres are your thing, add it to your Goodreads!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Freeday: The Importance of Learning

(Side note before I start: I might add another post on Wednesdays. What will I add is the question.)

Happy Friday!

(Side note after I start: here in Dover, we have a Firefly Music Festival going on, and about 10 people are in each department at my job, so I'm just going to go ahead and blog and read. lol)

But anyway, having had worked on my fantasy novel The Crystal Bearer for close to 11 years now (wow, where'd the time go), I can now say that I've gained enough knowledge about the outs of writing. The ins change depending on you and that particular story. The outs, however, remain the same, and I couldn't say I learned them until maybe last week. Sometimes, things don't make sense until they do.

I was in college for half of the time I was writing my novel, so do you think I had time to network? Find Know there was a...actually, I don't think there even WAS a Twitter yet, so I definitely didn't know there was a writer's community on it! All I knew was that I would finish my novel, then I would send it to publishers.


Needless to say, that's no longer how it works. First off, no one's first draft is publishable. Geez, when I think back on mine, I shudder. I had TWO major overhauls, one where I cut scenes I loved, and one where I actually added scenes. I had to stop and think about what was important to the big picture, and what was just filler. I had to cut THOUSANDS of words, because I learned there is a desired word count among agents depending on the genre and target age group.

Secondly, if you never let anyone else outside of your house read it, you won't really know if your writing's actually any good. I had friends and family tell me for years that I was a good writer, but when I personally think back on my writing, I KNOW it was bad. lol I mean it could've been worse, but it was definitely eye-roll-worthy. So trying to publish before a stranger reads your work, so you have an idea of how your novel will be received, is testing it a little. The betas/CPs I've gone through were a big help, and the query critiques even more so!

So do what you can to learn any and everything you can about writing before you try to put yourself out there. You'll do better for it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Express Yourself: Scary Movies


Welcome back to Express Yourself! This weekly meme is brought to us by Dani @ Entertaining Interests and Jackie @ Bouquet of Books, fun questions to answer weekly. This week they ask us what was the scariest movie we've seen or book we've read that made us unable to sleep.

Hands down, only one movie has terrified me into insomnia (and all the scary movies I've seen, that's saying a lot), and it was Orphan. For most of the movie, you KNOW something is wrong with this little girl, and when it's finally revealed...It messed me up. lol I was praying for most of the night to have good dreams.

If you haven't seen it and want to, I recommend it. It's an awesome movie.

Stop by the ladies' sites to find the list of other participants, and visit them throughout the week to see what they have to say.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Revising My Query (There's a question way at the end.)

Happy Friday!

I know in a previous post, I called queries the bane of my existence, but I have finally begun to get somewhere with my query for The Crystal Bearer.  Once again, here is a before & after of my query, beginning with my entry for Query Kombat, and my latest revision. There is a big difference, and I'm receiving good words about the first two paragraphs. The last paragraph was a little confusing, so I overhauled it and will wait to hear what is said about it. :)


All that remains of the most powerful people on T’orre is Ghuli, and with a metal army destroying everything in its path to get to her, she feels powerless.

Ghuli’s parents sent her away from their land before the army destroyed it. With the ever-present threat in the back of her mind, she grows up trying to live life, mainly by swinging from willow trees and aggravating her watchmen. She reads fairytales of safer lands to occupy her dreams, but the closer danger comes, the more those dreams turn to dark, abandoned castles, to ghosts and faces Ghuli’s never seen. At least, she doesn’t remember seeing them.

Once separated by shipwreck and alone in the world she has come to fear, Ghuli discovers her dreams are more real than she desires. They are glimpses of a time that she has reversed. The price: her consciousness, the part of her that contains her memory and the control of her erratic powers, has separated from her body. Ghuli’s consciousness guides her body towards a rune called the Great Scroll, the key to piecing her back together and becoming more than just a lost, scared little girl. She will gain the power to stop the metal army, but another price comes with regaining her full potential. She must discover whether or not she is the reason her people were destroyed.

THE CRYSTAL BEARER is a YA fantasy complete at 98,000 words.


Princess Ghuli is all that remains of the Crystal Bearers, the world’s most powerful but reclusive healers. With an army of iron monsters destroying everything in its path to get to her, she wishes she knew how to use those powers.

No one knows who built the metal army, but its mission to destroy the Crystal Bearers is clear. To protect her from their fate, Ghuli’s parents sent her away when she was an infant. Now seventeen years old, Ghuli constantly fears the army will find her, and not even her watchmen can help erase her worries.

When the army destroys her home, forcing her to flee for safer haven, Ghuli realizes she--and evidently her people--possesses stronger, more harmful magic than healing. From astral projection to controlling the elements, these magics consistently save Ghuli and her watchmen without her even knowing how to summon them. It’s as though they have a mind of their own.

In actuality, they have her mind.

Ghuli’s consciousness moves through time and space as a walking, talking entity, and Ghuli learns it has separated from her body as payment for reversing time. Her consciousness guides her body towards the Great Scroll, the key to making Ghuli whole and learning why she reversed time. Ghuli will finally gain control of her powers to stop the metal army and live in peace. But learning why she reversed time will also reveal how she was the reason her people were destroyed.

THE CRYSTAL BEARER is a YA fantasy complete at 98,000 words.

Anyone else struggle with queries? How do you handle it, and how have you done with revisions?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Express Yourself: One Word

Welcome back to Express Yourself, created by Dani @ Entertaining Interests and Jackie @ Bouquet of Books to get to know their followers!

This week, they ask us to use ONE word to describe ourselves.

This is going to be harder than I thought...I'm going to say imaginative.

Being an imaginative person has its ups and downs. As a writer, imagination is a good thing. Living in the every day world, however, your mind can wander to all sorts of things, and I'm a person who tends to immediately imagine the worst case scenarios. Not a good thing at all!

Stop by the other Expressors to see what one word they use to describe themselves!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Freeday: International Problems

Happy Friday, everyone!

This is a complaint about what music is available where, if you were wondering.

Mr. Probz is a Dutch Hip Hop artist who I was linked to by a guy who is basically my boyfriend (not a long story, but a complicated one, and also an international problem). The version of the song he sent me below (the Robin Schulz Remix) is popular on the club circuit right now:

This is the one that is available everywhere at the moment. It's nice if you like club remixes. I don't like club remixes. The one below is the original version and the one I was sent:

It's BEAUTIFUL...and unavailable in the US. I know there are programs where I can extract the music from the Youtube video, and then I'd have the song, but I'd like to be legal about getting this song into my music library. Ugh.

Does anyone else have this odd problem with their musical tastes?

Weird entry, I know. Have a great weekend, though!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

IWSG: The Thick Skin

Happy Wednesday! It's time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! This group was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, a master of all trades and our resident ninja! Stop by his page to meet the co-hosts for the month, and visit the Insecure Writer's Support Group for blog posts, helpful links, and the IWSG Participants list.

This past couple of weeks has been pretty exciting for me on the writer side. I was finally chosen as an entrant for the Query Kombat! And I followed and met about 100 other people through Twitter, even finding a beta partner in my opponent!

Together, we've endured some harsh but needed criticism, and had I made it maybe last year or the year before, I wouldn't have been able to handle it. One of the first things we're taught when we join the online writer circuit is to grow a thick skin. I never thought I would! I'm a naturally sensitive person, and it was hard enough putting my baby out there. I used to get really defensive and yell at my computer screen, but I'm learning to take my grumbling down to a 1 and reevaluate my writing. That thick skin grew!

So even if I don't make Round 2, I can still say I came out a winner!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Express Yourself: Video Games!

Happy Tuesday! Welcome back to Express Yourself: a weekly meme created by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests.

Today is probably the easiest question in the WORLD for me: What is your favorite video game?

If you've followed me long enough, YOU even know the answer, lol. I loved these games so much I wrote a book in homage to them, after all. Since the creation of the Playstation, my favorite video games have been from the Final Fantasy franchise, a series of role-playing games that take you into a world typically on the verge of destruction, and a group of heroes are called on to save it.

While I'm here, the most popular question about Final Fantasy has always been: if it was the Final fantasy, how come there are more than one? And I can answer that now. The creator of Square Enix thought that their company was going to close, so they created the first Final Fantasy sort of as a last hurrah. But then, they didn't close, so now there are 14+ Final Fantasy games!

Of the FF's, my ultimate favorites are 10, 9, 8, and Crisis Core; and I LOVE the movie for 7: Advent Children. A great franchise if you love video games and story lines. :)