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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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Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Freeday: Being Black in Writerville

I alluded to this in my Wednesday post and am actually writing this on Wednesday because I won't be at my office.

But first, Happy Friday, and HAPPY HALLOWEEEEEENNN, ooooooo!!!!

Teehee. Now...

So, I'm black. haha (DUH, right?!). I don't call myself African American. I've often called myself an American of African Descent. That's more accurate. Africa's not even a country, so...anyhow.

Writing is already a profession/hobby/passion for which people give you strange looks when you tell them you do it. When I temped at Del State, an HBCU with a predominantly black staff, I used to work on my WIP at my computer. One of the ladies asked me what kind of stuff I write, and when I said fantasy, she was extremely confused (she kept asking me, "Like Star Wars?" which, duh, is science fiction). Black writers who do more than poetry and erotica? What?

Like, seriously, I had to Google black writers just now because the only one I could think of that wasn't Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, or the other classic writers was Zane. I know there are more because my cousin suffers through the WORST Netflix movies, some of which were based on books she'd read. I could be jaded, but in my opinion, black people tend to only read books that show them the "black experience": the streets, non-suburban, racial struggles, sex, hip-hop. I know that's partially untrue because my mother loves Shakespeare and Jane Austen, so I know there are more black people who do.

*raises hand* I didn't have the typical black experience, and I can't fit comfortably or truthfully into that kind of box, so I won't try.

There are 318.9 million people in the U.S. About 13% of them are black. About 190 of THEM (even though, some are probably nearly dead, and they counted Oprah, and I can't stand Oprah) are writers in some capacity. ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY! How many of THEM are speculative fiction writers?

There are 6 essential ones, according to Troy L. Wiggins. So that's 3% of black writers...What's the math on 6 out of 318.9 million? I feel like there will be an e next to the number (THERE IS! 1.880924913477454e-8).

So, prologue aside, when it comes to writing what I love, fantasy, I feel like I have a double-edged sword to battle: how can I be accepted by black readers who may not even read speculative fiction (though I know they're out there because I'm one), and how can I be accepted by non-black speculative fiction readers of a world dominated by non-black writers, agents, and publishers?


That was in response to a review I read about Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which I think has been taken down since I tweeted...I tried not to respond in a way that seemed attacking, but it was a serious question I had.

My WIP isn't set in a medieval European world, and when I had tried to do it even a little bit (Ghuli spoke straight out of King James's world), it sounded horribly forced. So there are elf-like people and giant-like people, but the world is an American Progressive Era world. The ones who lived in what would probably be considered medieval European were wiped out before the story began. You see mules and steam-powered vehicles more than horses and only one actual castle. The characters speak differently depending on their nationality, but there are no forthwith's or Your Grace's (though I do use howbeit and my lady). Will readers who love Euro-centric fantasy be okay with that? My main character is a young interracial (by our definition, but not by their world) woman whose main issue is borderline (or just completely) existential, but not because she is a person of color. Will black readers be able to understand her inner plight without needing her to be worried about her color?

Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory created a WONDERFUL non-medieval European world in their Enduring Flame Trilogy (it had dragons, but there were ZOMBIES, too!). I related so well to the characters and loved that trilogy so much that I penned myself after their legendary hero, Kellen the Poor Orphan Boy.

I want people to read my book and not be put off that they don't see what they're used to seeing. There are no knights and dragons and fair maidens that some relate to fantasy. The black and blackish people aren't oppressed or living in neighborhoods to which others relate. But I want PEOPLE, not just black and not just white, to be able to relate to the big picture. I want them, like we all do, to like my MC just for being her, and I want them to appreciate this new world I'm presenting to them without feeling isolated because of what I didn't do in the story.

I also want to be an inspiration to upcoming writers who, like me, want to be a voice that can break through the tropes and trends and do it successfully. SO, here's to hoping!

Thanks for staying so long, if you did. I hate long posts.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Words: A Hundred Thousand of them!

Happy Wednesday!

By Blood We Live was CRAZY good! I'm so glad I stumbled onto Glen Duncan. Phenomenal writer!

On a whim a couple of weeks ago, and I tweeted the article I'd read, I decided to look up black fantasy writers to see what I'm working with, so to speak. (Being a black speculative fiction writer is a totally other topic, and I'll probably work on that for Friday, but...) The article gave me SIX fantasy AND sci-fi writers, only one of which I'd heard of already, my spirit animal/vampire mother, Octavia Butler. The writer of the article said there were more, but geez, can you write an article with a list, or something? (I'll Google them, but still, if he could only pick 6, then I imagine there aren't that many others.)

I went with whichever cover gripped me most for fantasy (One book was voodoo-y, and the cover of another was jungle-looking, sooo...) and chose N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which is actually Jemisin's debut. The cover is AWESOME. Look at it. The story is set around the daughter of an outcast princess whose grandfather named her one of three heirs to his throne. So I'm guessing a fight to the death will ensue.

Now, because it is Wednesday Words, I will be using to pick a page and a line from the page to give everyone (and myself) a taste of what I'm reading.

There are 427 pages in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and Random has chosen page........358.

There are approximately 21 lines on that page, and they're all like half sentences (the print is wide-set), so I'm going to go with sentences today. Random has.........gone down the middle and chosen sentence 10.

I consoled myself with the fact that at least the poor soul in the oubliette was dead now.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Spooktoberfest 2014 Genesis's "Home By The Sea"

Hello! Happy Saturday!

I decided to do the Cover Girls' Spooktoberfest this year! We have to create a 300-word flash fiction and use the five words below. If I did it right, you will also see the LinkyTool for the other participants, and for you to join if you want! There is still time! The winner will be revealed on Halloween (insert creepy ghost noise).

A lone tree hung over the beach house, one big cocoon of spider webs instead of leaves. I hesitated, but winter was unofficially here, and I could bear the chill no longer.

The front door had no knob and swung open when I knocked. I stepped inside and called out. No one answered. The rising sun ate away at the darkness like a heavenly virus, and I only realized I was nervous once my muscles relaxed. The house was coated and stale with dust. I walked further inside, entered a parlor with mildewed furniture: a sofa, two chairs, a coffee table. On one wall, a bar with six stools, a piano on the other. I imagined high society drinking here and chatting about the stocks, and at the thought, such a commotion arose that I whipped around.

Tens of people stood behind me and in the corridor, talking and drinking. The sun’s rays revealed decayed flesh and tattered garments I only saw when I wasn’t directly looking at them. That alone should have paralyzed me, but their shadows on the wall, clawing and crying for a way out while their oblivious bodies laughed and carried on did the trick best. They turned to look at me with pale, dead eyes, and I knew there was a curse on this place.

“Welcome to the home by the sea.”

I turned again. Three ladies on the sofa, men in the chairs and on the stools looked back at me. A woman at the piano played a tune I’d never heard but would hear again. It was the bartender who had spoken to me. In the mirror, his shadow screamed at me to run away.

They all said to me in one dreadful moan, “Sit down. Listen to our stories.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Freeday: Smooth McGroove & Final Fantasy

Happy Friday, all!

I don't have anything to say, so here is this guy I need to marry (and his cat hehe) singing a capella versions of Final Fantasy scores.

Final Fantasy VII's Battle Theme:

Final Fantasy VIII - The Man with the Machine Gun:

Final Fantasy X - To Zanarkand (my favorite):

The behemoth that is Final Fantasy VII's One Winged Angel:

And though there are more, I leave you with Final Fantasy VII's Victory Fanfare:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Express Yourself: Halloween Costumes

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

This week, they ask us to name a Halloween costume we wore as a child.

I'm guessing I asked for these costumes myself, and I wish I had pictures of these, but in the 1st Grade, I went as Myrtle Urkel, Steve Urkel's cousin. I wore one of my mom's curly wigs, a pair of her old glasses, and one of my Sunday dresses. Being a big year for Steve, one of my friends was actually Steve, so we walked together in the parade. lol I probably just looked like an old church lady, but eh.

The year after, I was Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman. I can't believe they had a tiny version of that thing. lol And of course, one of my friends was Batman, which was interesting, because that was Heather lol.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Freeday: The Darling Massacre

That would make a great title for a book, no?

Last night, I cut a minor chase scene that had been a piece of a dream I had the night I dreamed up the inciting incident of my fantasy WIP The Crystal Bearer. I'm not okay.

Unfortunately, it just didn't fit anymore. I used it to showcase a portion of Ghuli's power, but she does it again later, so I'm half okay with not using it. I need to figure out if I need to show her doing it against her will, though, because she wasn't able to control her powers at this point.

This cut comes during a time where I had also just told a friend, who was adapting a story from an RP in which she and a friend participated, that they're going to think everything is important to the story because of how close they are to it. I introduced them to the inevitable and painful term, "kill your darlings." So of course, I have to take my own advice. But *blubbers in my head* I loved that scene.

On the bright side, I do have another story where it will fit nicely. In my dream, I ended up jumping out of a window to safety (and catching a ride on a white tiger, which was normal for my dreams lol), but in this other story, I needed a character to fall from somewhere somehow, so at least I'll see that scene again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday Words: Back to the Werewolves

I finished American Gods last Wednesday! When it picked up, it really picked up.

So I was finally able to open By Blood We Live, the final book in Glen Duncan The Last Werewolf series. This one continues with Talulla and the oldest living vampire Remshi, who is trying to fulfill a prophecy that he wrote himself, but it seems to have some merit. I won't give anything away in case anyone has picked up the preceding two books...except the next few lines.

As I've started doing, I will be using to pick a page and lines from said page to share with you all.

There are 368 pages in By Blood We Live, and Random has given 102.

Ooh, a tense page. There are about 33 lines on this page, so Random, do your thing......line 13...for the sake of not just quoting the quote from another book, I'll start at line 12.

We settled under an enormous horse chestnut. I was thinking of a line I'd read (1984?): Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me...Moonrise was fifteen minutes away.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Express Yourself: Halloween Time

There is a Final Fantasy station on Pandora. I'm in Heaven. Tifa's 7th Heaven to be exact. (giggle)

Welcome back to Express Yourself, created by Jackie @ Bouquet of Books and Dani @ Entertaining Interests to get to know their followers and we them. :)

This week they ask: Do you have any Halloween plans?

I do not. lol I want to give out candy this year, but our sister-church has a cafe that night, so I will be there! I still might put out little baggies for kids to pick up on our stoop. I like passing out candy.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Freeday: New Blog Title and Shout-Outs

Happy Friday!

I'd been thinking of changing my blog name for a couple of months now. I was tired of "The Writer Ambitious," and I wanted somehow to incorporate my love for Final Fantasy into the title, kind of like S.C. Author's, Writing, Publishing, & Harry Potter or Elsie Amata's Mock Turtle Musings. Obviously, they love Harry Potter and turtles (I, too, love turtles).

So, "how, oh how," thought I, "could I do the same for Final Fantasy?" Then, yesterday morning as I was browsing an Instagram account dedicated to Final Fantasies (that's also the name), I thought: "GASP! THE WRITE MAGE!"

It's a great play on the term White Mage, obviously, and others, like Mindy McGinnis's Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire, have done the same play on terms.

You will also find some winky-wink blog titles that play on right/write (which I actually have begun having trouble using!) such as The Write ;) Time by Dean C. Rich and Words Done Write ;) by Celeste Holloway.

So, I now have a title that 1) I love, 2) shows my love for my favorite video games, and 3) still says I'm a writer! In fact, I'm a write mage. ;)

The pictures over there ---> also prove it. teehee

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday Words: Finally nearly done American Gods

Don't hate me.

I remembered yesterday that I'm reading the version that Neil Gaiman actually wanted to publish first, and I feel like that's what's messed up my pace. I had to trudge through the middle of this story. It was so...blah!

It's finally started to pick back up with the pace and intrigue that caught me from the first page, and I'm so glad for that. I plan to be finished it probably tomorrow.

But it's Wednesday, so that means, I need to bring you some lines!

I'm going to do something a little different and only use to generate the number of pages I have left! So from page 436 to page 541, I will be reading 495.

Hm, that's in the Epilogue. I hope I don't give too much away for myself, but this is what I get! There are 32 lines on this page, so I will be reading......line 8.

He took a deep breath before he went under, closing his eyes, but the cold of the lake water hit him like a wall, knocking the breath from his body.

OOH, Shadow returned to Lakeside! I can't wait to see what's happening, but I have a hunch (especially, because I saw a few other lines while counting, of course).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Express Yourself: Scary Stuff

Good day to you all!

Express Yourself is a meme created by Dani @ Entertaining Interests and Jackie @ Bouquet of Books with weekly questions participants can answer.

This week, they ask us: What is the scariest movie/book you have seen/read, or that you want to see/read?

I have been trying to prepare myself to see Insidious 2, but I don't think it's going to happen. lol This past year, my cousin decided she wanted to try to watch scary movies, and one of them was The Caller, a creepy movie about a woman calling from the past to the house where she had killed her husband. It started pretty slowly but ended up messing our minds completely up. lol

Friday, October 3, 2014

RIP Aunt Louise - A Breast Cancer Survivor!

Happy Friday!

My great-aunt Louise died last week. She actually didn't die of Breast Cancer--she was a survivor! She lived to be 95!

This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I wanted to post a ribbon for her and all of the survivors (I have other family members who've survived it!), those who lost the battle, and for those who need to, well, be aware of it! Get checked! Check yourself! It's pretty fast.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG: Write Because You're A Writer

Creator: Alex J. Cavanaugh (sensei)

I know that sounds pretty obvious, right? But some of you would be surprised. People will ask some of us what we do for a living, and even if we have a day job, saying that we’re writers will sometimes get us strange looks. I had some perfect stranger (I hate when people at bus stations try to spark conversations) ask me, when I told him I majored in Creative Writing (at FSU), what would I write other than newspaper articles. As if books just…I don’t even know.

Heck, saying you want to be a published author when you grow up may not even be supported by your family. I follow a blogger who has that issue, and my older sister used to tell me how unrealistic it was to be a writer and spent too many years trying to get me jobs for which I was unqualified. And many people who ask what I graduated with (BA in English) think an English degree means I want to be a teacher. I still don’t understand why. I’ve known people who instead of going into Creative Writing or English go into weird things they’re not particularly interested in just to please their parents. No offense, but that’s some crap.

Some people have small minds. If you’re not being a teacher, doctor, lawyer, or whatever, you’re not doing anything of importance. WRONG.

You are a writer. NEVER put it on the backburner because people who don’t understand what it is to think these things up and to create other worlds and see other forms of mankind in their mind aren’t particularly worth pleasing. Life is not a drill. Go through it doing what you were meant to do. You’re not crazy, you’re not dreaming too hard. You write. That’s what you do. So, do it.

(Yes, IWSG peeps, you may use this for the E-Book. Happy Anniversary!!)