May Writing Update: Preparing for Comic-Con and Patreon!

 


Happy Friday! It is the 3rd Friday of the month, so that means it is time for me to share some writing-like updates for you all!

I purchased a new domain for an official website that's not just the blog, so if you visit debrareneebooks.com, you will see a fresh new landing page! I modeled it off of N.K. Jemisin's landing page, something simple that represents me. There is also a sneak peek of the first chapter of Fractured Princess that I added for potential new readers who I plan to meet at Dover Comic-Con!

The convention is now a month away, and I'm excited to get back out there and share some free merchandise. I purchased new bookmarks, business cards, and info cards with my Linktree for anyone interested. I wanted to create booklets with some free chapters, but the cost of that was astronomical. With that in mind, I also need to create a sign for donations, because I will definitely need some up to Launch 3.0.

I plan to start a Patreon in June to help with all of this. After creating a Kickstarter for the cover for Launch 1.0, I did everything else out of pocket, and I barely have pockets. I have a lot planned for monthly updates, and I hope to gain more attention with it, so as long as I keep on the grind, I think things will pan out well.

I also decided to release the book on my birthday again. I did say I wanted to release the book in Spring, but I am going to use that time for pre-orders and promotion. I don't want to rush everything like I did the first time. But by Spring, I do want to reveal the updated cover. I'm excited about it.

Last thing before this gets too long, I'm still writing! I'm happy about that, too. One thing I might need to do, however, is sit down and *gasp* plot out the second half of Divided Princess and the third book. I've already cut some potential scenes because of the turn the story has taken of its own volition, so I do need to write down some thought bubbles or trees, something.

Wish me luck!

Weekly Words: Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James

 


It is the second Friday of the month, and I have been stuck on the same book for what feels like the whole year, but it's only been a little over a month. A reviewer said it's dense, and that is true. I'm also just distracted, which I realize is a big part of my problem. Back when I could just sit and read non-stop, there was nothing else to do but watch TV. Now, there are video games, cell phones, internet, AND not just TV, but DVR, so I've grown accustomed to skipping the commercials I usually read through. I've really got to cut out some time to just read and nothing else. I really want to reach my Goodreads goal this year.

That said, I am currently reading Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James.


This is the first book in the Dark Star Trilogy, and it is about a man named Tracker who is hired to find a boy who disappeared. He usually works alone, but in this story, he picks up other "unusual" characters to search for the boy, one of which is a shape-shifting man-animal called Leopard. The back cover mentions that the boy is mysterious, and eventually Tracker starts to wonder if someone is lying about the situation. That's what I want to get to. I'm currently in a jail-cell with Tracker telling a crooked priest his life story. It is very reminiscent of African mythology in the cadence and way the story is written so far. I can't wait to see how it progresses.

Here is a line from the book:

There was always someone or some two or some three who will grab me like a stick and break me, grab me like wet cloth, and wring everything out me. And that was just the way of the world.

Based on the beginning of Tracker's story and where he is telling it, this tracks.


What are you reading this week?

Black Author Spotlight: Tatiana Obey

 Welcome back to the Black Author Spotlight!


The goal of this segment is to highlight black authors who are often marginalized and ignored in the publishing industry. Black writers usually turn to self-publishing--an already densely populated industry--to have their stories seen, and it is said that we have to work twice as hard to get half of what our white counterparts have. Hopefully, shining a little light on these authors will help to signal boost the work they are putting out there.

This week, I am highlighting Tatiana Obey!


Tatiana Obey (pronounced O-bi) is an NA/Adult fantasy writer, and I am HERE FOR IT. Her debut novel, Bones to the Wind, is a coming-of-age sword and sorcery tale with LGBTQIA+ representation, and it is out now!




Here is the blurb:

Rasia is determined to destroy her old man’s record in the Forging, a trial each child must succeed to come of age. All Rasia needs to do is hunt down a gonda, hitch its tentacle ass to her windship, and haul it back home in record time. Easy. Or it would be if Rasia wasn’t stuck on the same team as Nico—a know-it-all, spoiled, grubworm who never does anything Rasia tells her to do.

Nico doesn’t care about Rasia’s egotistical dreams of glory. This is her brother’s last chance to pass the Forging or her father is going to banish him from the family. She needs to scour the desert to find whatever team the bones placed him on and help him kill a gonda before it kills him.

Too bad Nico and Rasia can’t get along to steer a windship straight.

Bones to the Wind is available in paperback, hardback, and ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords. Click here for each purchase link.

Visit Tatiana's website here, and follow her on Instagram!

________________________________________________________________________________

If you are a Black author who would like to be in the spotlight, email me the following information at debreneebyrd@gmail.com

Name or Pen Name

Genre

Website/Blog

Social Media handles

Book (if any) and where to buy

Permission to use photos

Quarterly Goals

 


It is the 5th Friday of the month, and that means I reflect on the goals I set the previous quarter, check my progress, and set new goals if needed!

I should have read 8 books by now, but I've at least finished 4 and listened to 2, so I'm patting myself on the back. I'm glad Goodreads doesn't count when I started reading a book, though, because, oof. I actually saw a tweet that said to DNF (do not finish) a book you're dreading picking back up, and I believe I will have to do that. I have so many other books I need to start, books that I bought almost 10 years ago at this point. If a book is bad or just not for me, then, that needs to be okay, Deborah (I have to tell it to myself).

I've actually been writing more, some just getting "off-screen" narratives out of my head and some that are actually going to end up in Divided Princess's pages. My contract with WCP ends in January, so in the meantime, I am working with someone to prepare the re-release of Fractured Princess that Spring (a more definitive date is forthcoming). If all goes well with that, I want DP finished, edited, beta'ed, and ready by Winter 2023. I wish I could keep publishing the books on my birthday like I did the very first one, but maybe the next series premiere (*wink*).

So, I had an interview for a proofreading job this past quarter. Unfortunately, it pays pennies, and if I were younger, that would suffice, but I have a mortgage and student loans, so it does not suffice at all. I actually saved the description of a job I saw on Upwork as something I'd love to do. I've done a few jobs on Fiverr, too, and I also have a couple of other pending job prospects that may just turn me in the right direction. We shall see!

And since scheduling this post, I've also picked up a freelance job as a copywriter for my sister's friends' company and discussed another full-time role with another company. Both have told me I was low-balling myself, so my price is about to go UP!

So overall, things are continuing to move, some even speeding up. I'm feeling a little more optimistic about everything, and I hope that continues.

A Look Back 10 Years! My Blogiversary!

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On Saturday, April 21, 2012, I posted my very first blog post. Overall, my posts were all over the place. I was reviewing books, movies, albums, word vomiting, I had my mid-life crisis, had my posts scheduled on different days depending on the week. It was a LOT. I'm surprised I had any followers, as chaotic as my blog was. But either way, I made it to TEN YEARS! Cue fireworks!


Yay, Squall is happy for me.

I also believe that first post was my very first query. (Shout out to Revo Boulanger for helping me with my synopsis back then, and also my old coworker Lisa for uplifting me still!) I queried Save the Queen to Tom Doherty & Associates and was rejected. 10 years later, with countless more rejections, two title changes, two publications, two sequels in progress, and a pending re-release, I'm still passionate about what is now Fractured Princess.

There have definitely been a lot of bumps in both my life road and the writing road, but I can't wait for people to latch on to Jonnie the way I had intended from the very beginning. I'm also proud to see how far the story and my writing have come. Characters took hold of the reigns and steered the narrative in ways I did not expect. Storylines emerged that I would never have imagined 10 years ago. I tweeted a couple of weeks back how big the sequel is about to be, and it will be BIG. I'll get to explore side stories I just wrote to get out of my head and weave them into what was originally a standalone book with no desire to write a trilogy. And to be frank (you can be Mary), I could write several novellas based off of diverging timelines, and I keep thinking about it, so you never know.

Now, let's look back at 2012, shall we?

If you click this link, you can read 4 posts about the first stages of the book, how I pared it down from 120K words (I don't even remember what the heck was in those early chapters to warrant 120K) to 107K (it's now at 92K if I remember correctly), how I had to add a little thing called logic to situations, and some spin-offs that I was working on, some of which make it into the series (*hint-hint wink-wink*).

This post is where I changed Jonnie (then Ghuli (JOO-lee)) from white to black in real-time. The picture that inspired me was this now hard-to-search picture of Kerry Washington. As you can read, I had first decided to make the Crystal Bearers a mix of colors, but I ultimately decided to make them black. I also settled on diamonds in their hands. The Sprites were also originally white, but I diversified their skin tones as well, with the northern Sprites being lighter and the southern sprites darker. This is currently happening again with another race in the story for geographical reasons. More on that later in the year.

This post is definitely something I want to do with the final version, so I can see how far I've come. You posted the first line or last line of your chapters to see how compelling they were. It was such a great idea. I wonder if they're still doing it.

Here is a God-awful query I thought was the one. If passive was a query. It's this one!

And lastly, here is a Q&A I was honored to be a part of way back when.

Jonnie and I have come such a long way, and there is more to come. I will be at Dover Comic-Con this June with free samples of the new edition and hopefully some bookmarks, business cards, etc., whatever I can get from Vistaprint. I'll be able to release the new edition of FP in 2023, and I plan to have it published in all formats. In the next 10 years, I hope I will have published the entire series, moved on to one of my NA fantasies, and maybe even have finally found a job I love, because even 10 years ago, I was lamenting about being an admin, and *sings* I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm still here, here, here...


For everyone who may have started with me on the old Write Mage blog and for new followers everywhere, I thank you!

April Writing Update

 


Good news! I've been writing!

Certainly not like Kermit in that one meme, but I have been getting a few hundred words down on "paper," and that's better than I've done in a long time. It's the motivation of the light at the end of this current tunnel. I have a goal again, so I'm ready to get to work.

I've also been tweaking a few things in Fractured Princess for the next release. More will come on that later. Explanations will be involved, as well as one or two Instagram videos to accompany, maybe even a Live.

Oh! I also learned the other day that the poetry site I once posted two of my poems on has revamped, and now the archive of poems is gone. So, I plan to dive back into poetry and publish a slam book. The question there is, should I use a different pen name for poetry and pending romance stories? I don't know if I have the bandwidth to think of a THIRD pen name (as Debra Renée Byrd is my second). *sigh* I'll get back to you all on that.

Even more good news: I have this month's posts all written and scheduled out! So that means, if nothing else, I've been writing blogs again! I'm so glad I moved the posts to Fridays.

Weekly Words: I Heard My Audiobook!


Happy April Showers!

It is the 2nd Friday of the month, where I share with you what I am reading and/or writing. On the bright side, I actually read two audiobooks this past month! I finished N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season, and words can't express how much I love Nora's writing, let alone hearing it and returning to the Broken Earth trilogy. She's currently working on the film adaptation, and I keep telling my sister that I will be WEEPING in the theater when it comes out!

As you know, I am ending my contract with my publisher, and I forgot that around the time I requested to be released, they were working on the audiobook. An unabridged version is currently available on Audible, and aside from some cringeworthy name mispronunciations, hearing my book was an experience. Just like I did with The Fifth Season, I even mouthed some of the lines . . . to my own book! It was surreal. Sometimes, especially after a long time, I stop and think, "Wow, I really wrote that." You would think I couldn't surprise myself after having written for 30 years now, but I can!

So what are you reading this week?

Black Author Spotlight: Douglas S. Reed

Welcome to Fridays! And happy April! I hope everyone participating in A to Z has a great time! I thought about joining in, but as you can see, I am not. Maybe next year!

But anyway, I am starting off the month with another Black Author Spotlight!


The goal of this segment is to highlight black authors who are often marginalized and ignored in the publishing industry. Black writers usually turn to self-publishing--an already densely populated industry--to have their stories seen, and it is said that we have to work twice as hard to get half of what our white counterparts have. Hopefully, shining a little light on these authors will help to signal boost the work they are putting out there.

This week, I am highlighting Douglas S. Reed.


Douglas is an educator who was born in Queens, New York. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, a basketball coach, and the creator of Kataza Films and Kataza Books!




His novels, Garden's Corner and the award-winning Child of Gilead, are available at Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, BookBaby.com, Rakuten Kobo, and Target! Here is the blurb for his current book Child of Gilead:

Take the road less traveled, my son. Always. No exceptions.

These are Hannah's words to her child, spoken to reveal a higher truth of what it takes to live a life of meaning. Most importantly, they are words meant to keep a child away from harm and danger. But one day, mother and son are visited by an old family friend whose arrival brings with it the potential to uncover dark family secrets always intended to stay hidden.

Sparse and simply told, Child of Gilead is author Douglas S. Reed's long-awaited second novel and is a modern-day parable that seeks to answer the seemingly unanswerable truth, "Do you know me?"

That sounds really compelling!

You can visit Douglas's website and blog here. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
________________________________________________________________________________

If you are a Black author who would like to be in the spotlight, email me the following information at debreneebyrd@gmail.com

Name or Pen Name

Genre

Website/Blog

Social Media handles

Book (if any) and where to buy

Permission to use photos

Moving to Fridays & Listening to The Fifth Season, the Audiobook

I was supposed to post yesterday but had an interview and a routine oncology appointment, and EVERYONE on 495 wanted to get into accidents yesterday, so I had no time.

I'm going to move all posts to Fridays. I don't have anything tying me to Wednesdays anymore except for Wednesday Words, and I can change that to Weekly Words in two seconds. I just did. HA. My Tuesday nights are typically busy, so I can't schedule posts all the time, but my Thursdays aren't that bad at work or at home, so I can schedule a post easily, or easily post on Friday, which is the most available day at work.

The good thing about forgetting to post yesterday is I can tell you what I started yesterday!


I had a deal from Chirp in my inbox for N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season audiobook. As you know, 1) I LOVE Nora's work and LOVED The Broken Earth series, and 2) I want to record an audiobook for Fractured Princess, so this was a good chance for me to see how audiobook narrators sound and listen to a book I loved. And because I was stuck in an accumulative two and a half of hours of traffic added to an already three-hour round trip, I'm already a third of the way finished it.

Hearing some of my favorite lines, like, "This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends...for the last time" gave me so much life. I tweeted yesterday how my human self totally missed the biggest hint to the end of this book, and why wouldn't I have? It wasn't obvious, until you're reading the book again. The same thing happens when I'm rewatching a tv show and see hints that I couldn't have caught before (like Ronaldo telling the entire plot of the Diamond Authority in Steven Universe in the 31st episode of the 1st season, which we learn is true in the 24th episode of the 2nd season). It gets me fired up about the rest of the story.

I am on vacation the next two weeks, so I will return promptly and non-jokingly on April Fool's Day haha. Whether or not I am doing A to Z, at this point, we will certainly see. I did have something I was working on months ago, so maybe that will work??

See you in April!

Black Author Spotlight: K. Valerice

 


Welcome to the Black Author Spotlight!

This is Black History Month, and so I didn't want to wait until March for the next post! The goal of this segment is to highlight black authors who are often marginalized and ignored in the publishing industry. Black writers usually turn to self-publishing--an already densely populated industry--to have their stories seen, and it is said that we have to work twice as hard to get half of what our white counterparts have. Hopefully, shining a little light on these authors will help to signal boost the work they are putting out there.

This week, I am highlighting K. Valerice.



K. is a poet and short story author. She uses music and art to inspire her pieces, and she also does her own book artwork!







Heals, Feels & Pills, her collection of poetry, short stories, and musings, is available on Amazon. I'm patiently awaiting for it to appear in my mailbox! You can also purchase the book at Barnes & Noble and blurb.com.

You can follow K. on Instagram: @k.valerice.

________________________________________________________________________________

If you are a Black author who would like to be in the spotlight, email me the following information at debreneebyrd@gmail.com

Name or Pen Name

Genre

Website/Blog

Social Media handles

Book (if any) and where to buy

Permission to use photos

Black Author Spotlight: K.R.S. McEntire

 



Welcome to the Black Author Spotlight!

This is Black History Month, and so I didn't want to wait until March for the next post! The goal of this segment is to highlight black authors who are often marginalized and ignored in the publishing industry. Black writers usually turn to self-publishing--an already densely populated industry--to have their stories seen, and it is said that we have to work twice as hard to get half of what our white counterparts have. Hopefully, shining a little light on these authors will help to signal boost the work they are putting out there.

This week, I am highlighting K.R.S. McEntire.


K.R.S. is a YA speculative fiction author, specifically dystopian, fantasy, and sci-fi. Here is more from her website/blog at https://krsmcentire.wordpress.com/:

K. R. S. McEntire lives on a healthy diet of fiction and tea. She loves art, photography and travel because, like books, they allow her to explore new worlds. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and runs the Facebook page Diverse Books With Magic, where she shares book recommendations with other bibliophiles.

You can also learn more about and purchase her post-apocalyptic dystopian Eden Series, as well as her other works, via her website. I've been a member of her Facebook group for a couple of years, and I remember when she asked for everyone's opinions on the new cover. It's so cool to see what she ended up with. The juxtaposition of the colors under the ivy and green words is gorgeous! I can't wait to start these.


Here is the blurb for Saving Eden:

Sixteen-year-old Angela and her father are the last survivors on earth. She dreams of adventure and romance but only finds it in books. In the confines of her garden paradise, she’s untouched by contaminants that caused the rest of humanity to mutate into murderous beasts or die. But staying in the garden sure gets lonely.

When a seventeen-year-old boy stumbles upon Angela’s home with news about a thriving community, his presence upheavals everything she knew about the world. She dares to leave her garden for the first time to find a better home.

In the authoritarian society that she finds the line between man and mutant is murkier than she expected. Her father is danger, and the men tasked with protecting the settlement are extremely fond of murder. With their lives on the line, can Angela create one last happy ending in a hopeless world?

Follow K.R.S. McEntire on Facebook and Instagram: @krsmcentire
________________________________________________________________________________

If you are a Black author who would like to be in the spotlight, email me the following information at debreneebyrd@gmail.com

Name or Pen Name

Genre

Website/Blog

Social Media handles

Book (if any) and where to buy

Permission to use photos

January Review and Quarterly Goals

I was sitting here thinking there are 5 Wednesdays in this month, but there are only 4. Then, I wondered how my last quarterly goals post was in the September but the next one isn't until March. Then, I remembered I take a break in December. Ooops. haha So here is a double dose of my monthly review and goals for the quarter.

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January went by in a blur. I'm happy to say this new year, I entered with a much better mindset than last year. I was super depressed and grieving at the end of 2020, so I was very miserable January 1, 2021. After that, I started writing letters to my mom, and that really helped with my grief, and I moved on to the stress of a parent publisher that wasn't giving me any type of attention or support (except for the publicist. She was amazing).

Having requested to be released in December, I'm currently waiting for the official documents that confirm that, so I can focus on the road to self-publishing again. If all goes as planned, I want to start promoting at this year's Dover Comic Con, then release again on my birthday like I did the first time. It would be a nice little present to myself.

My older sister started a  group with a book called "Designing Your Life". We discuss what our life could be and how we might be able to get there. Our last activity, we created three jobs based on what gives us the most energy and engagement in our day-to-day life. All three of mine were far more creative than what I'm doing now. If I can get to do one of them, I know I'll be happier. One of my plans after my mom passed was to not get stuck in a job that drains the life out of me and do more things that I want to do. I need to start working towards that. That said...


My goals for the remainder of this quarter are:

Read 24 books this year (I'm already a book behind at this rate, but if I can read another book in the next 5 days, I'll feel like a wizard). I've had a couple of books that made me love sitting for an hour or so with some music and just reading again. I'm going to try to get back into the habit.

Write more. The other day, I wrote about 500 words while recrafting a scene in my sequel to FP. I was so excited. I've been opening that document up more, and I started recrafting another scene that I think will help push Jonnie forward a little more. I've also figured out the biggest plot in the story, just have to get to it. I'm squeeing inside just thinking about it.

Apply for more jobs. If I get added to one more task because someone else is retiring, I might implode. I understand my boss trusts me with stuff, which is always appreciated, but the bad thing about working for the State is that they like to pile stuff onto you when people leave, and of course you don't get paid extra for it. At another department, I spent almost a year doing another administrative assistant's job for free after they decided not to refill the position (sideways bitter smile). The one thing I know for certain is that I no longer want to do anything that resembles office work. I hate it. So I have to constantly force myself not to look at those openings so I'm not in the same place every 3 years at a new job. I need something more creative, and if that means taking a chance and stepping out to do something new, then that's what I'll have to do.

So, to sum up my results from September Quarterly Goals post, I'll say, things are slowly starting to move, and I'll say that's okay for now.

Starting Over

This is basically an evening post at this point, huh?

I've kept quiet about this waiting for things to be finalized, but I have requested to be released from Wahida Clark Publishing and SF(F)or the Culture. It wasn't a good fit, and that isn't uncommon for some authors. Self-publishing is best for me at this time, and as that had been the plan prior, that is what I'm returning to. I wish my fellow flagship authors the best with their writing, and I hope we stay in touch.

What that means for Fractured Princess is I will be publishing an updated version with the original cover art by Racheal Scotland. There will be paperback and *drum roll* hardcover versions, and if my brother-in-law is gracious (which he is), hopefully an audiobook by the end of the year. I've been thinking of things I can do with my Ko-fi account or wondering if I should close it and start a Patreon, but that means I will need to carve time out of my already packed days to create content, so I need to sit down and map out what that might look like. I don't have much of a fanbase, so the only thing I can think of would be prompts, which is good for me to get my brain going again. Having said that I want to do an audiobook, I would love to record that.

Anyhow, once I'm officially released, I can start marketing again and being out there like I used to. As things started not working out, I just hit a low and knew this would be the end result of this chapter. Hopefully putting Jonnie back out into the world the way I envisioned everything will be a freeing experience.