Weekly Words: Women in Writing - Octavia Butler


Happy Women's History Month

I DEFINITELY wasn't going to go this month without mentioning the queen of sci-fi. My hero, Octavia Butler. Not only did she write some very prophetic stories (read The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents and go ahead and have your heart attack), but she wrote some fierce, black women at every single turn. From my introduction to her work in Dawn, to her Patternmaster series, she wrote raw, gut-wrenching narratives that would often than not devastate me to the core. And sadly, as I may have mentioned before, she died of cancer the year before I discovered her work. I would've loved to see what else she would have written, especially in these past 17 years. Or she may have just said, "I told y'all."

But anyway, as you all may remember, my favorite book of hers was her last book, Fledgling.

This book was created on the most interesting premise of vampires not as the Nosferatu or Dracula variety, but the origin of the lore in which those stories were created. Their race, known as Ina, were a territorial society, where the women lived in one community and the men in another. When we begin with the main character, she is awakening in the midst of what appears to be a rebirth of sorts, and a painful one at that. Her skin is burnt, her skull is broken, and the world around her is destroyed. Very strong imagery. Come to find out a little later, her name is Shori, and her mothers genetically engineered her to be a dark-skinned Ina, so she could live in the sun. Some of the other Ina were not pleased with this, so to speak, and destroyed the community. By the end of the book, Shori finds her people and her mothers' killers, and typing this up, I want to read the book a third time. I loved it so much.

You may also know that I wrote a fan fiction based on the book in 2015. Every now and then, I find a comment in my inbox, and it brings me joy to see other Butler fans and hear that they love my little "sequel."

There is also a really cool organization called The Octavia Butler Project that mixes the arts with STEM, and they have two summer programs for young preteens and teenagers and events all through the year. If you haven't heard of them, be sure to check them out and donate if you can!

Next week, I'll close out the week with a shameless plug, so be on the look out! :)

Weekly Words: Women in Writing - Jodi Meadows


Happy Women's History Month!


This month, I've been highlighting some of my favorite women writers who have written great female characters. I'm sharing this week's a little selfishly because I helped sensitivity read this one, and I love the main character so much.

Jodi Meadows's main character Mira from the Fallen Isles Trilogy felt like a person the teenage me was, minus the trauma from an attempted murder as a child. When she was born, the council basically marked her as the avatar of peace and the end of the enslavement of one of the other isles, which bred some animosity, as ending slavery always does. But anyway, when she learns there is a conspiracy and does the right thing by bringing it to the council's attention, she is thrown into prison where she meets a group of people who will ride with her to the end of the series. Each book had some unforgettable scenes, from the first time Mira uses her dragon power, to the second time she uses it, and her friends see the actual shape of the dragon, to a steamy rain scene I read a couple times (hehe), to the isles STANDING UP (they were trying to prevent the isles from turning back into gods and deserting them. Come to find out, they were always going to leave, but they returned a bigger and better dragon island for the people who survived the literal uprising)! These books were magical.

And what was also so great about them was seeing Mira's character progress from this spoiled but sweet little rich girl with massive anxiety becoming this strong warrior for the people of the isles, even so far as standing up against a mad queen! I will always cherish her.


Tune in next week for another character and author I would not let this month pass by without mentioning!

**ANNOUNCEMENT** FRACTURED PRINCESS Available for Kindle Pre-Order



This is a quick announcement, but I'm very excited about it.

The 2nd indie edition of FRACTURED PRINCESS is now available for Kindle Pre-order!

Visit the link embedded in this phrase to purchase for $7.99!

Weekly Words: Women in Writing - N.K. Jemisin


Happy Women's History Month!

Last week, I decided to highlight some of my favorite female characters written by female characters for this month. No one knows when like women, so reading women written by women for women is always a treat.

Y'all know I wasn't going to get too far into the month without posting my queen, N.K. Jemisin! I had so many female characters to choose from, from Yeine and Oree (oh God, I loved The Broken Kingdoms so much *sob*) in the Inheritance Trilogy, to Jo in Far Sector, to the badass ladies in the Great Cities Duology. But it was a no-brainer for me to choose Essun, f.k.a. Syenite, f.k.a. Damaya from the Broken Earth trilogy.

The journey we went on with Essun, from her beginnings as a child given away by her parents to the Fulcrum to a grieving mother looking for her daughter in the middle of what seems like the world finally ending, or ending...for the last time (if you know, you know), was an emotion-filled, suspense filled wonder, and the ending was so satisfying I almost cried. Essun is a strong, determined, slightly broken woman who didn't quite know how to love her children until she loses them, and it was a joy to read such a complex character. No one writes like Norah.

If you haven't read the THREE-TIME Hugo Award-winning trilogy, what are you doing? Check it out!

Weekly Words: Women in Writing - Kristin Cashore

Happy Women's History Month!

Earlier this week, I had an idea to highlight some of my favorite female characters written by women authors. As a writer, I grew up an avid reader, so I've seen many a female character, but it's always special when a woman writes a woman FOR other women to read. So this month, I will share some of my favorites.

Kristin Cashore's Graceling Series

I don't even remember how I can't make came across Graceling, but if you've followed me long enough, you'll know my first pitches for Fractured Princess heralded it as Graceling meets Final Fantasy. It's still accurate, even though these books are around 10 years old now.

The story itself is quietly terrifying, but seeing characters like Katsa, gifted with the power to kill, and Fire, cursed with the power to control people's minds, and how they navigated their lives with the conspiracies happening around them was exciting. Fire, especially, was such a unique character to me. I think I read that book in 3 days. I'll also give a nod to Bitterblue's character, though I wasn't as whelmed by her book as I was by the other two, but she was a princess who was forced to clean up the mess her father created, so she was still a strong female character in her own right.

I might have to read these again. There are so many scenes I remember vividly. If you've never read them, check them out!

Monthly Review and Weekly Words: N.K. Jemisin’s The World We Make

© Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

Happy Last Friday in February!

I've felt both conflicted and free since getting rid of my rotating schedule. A Weekly Words on the FOURTH FRIDAY, WHAT!? I suppose it's because I've been blogging for so long and had built this little system that worked for a while, getting rid of it comes with some weird sense of guilt as though they have their own feelings. I'm killing my blog-darlings, and as a writer that's hard.

But to the trash with that! The freedom means I don't have to wait until X Week to tell you all about something, and that's a good thing! It should lead to less unplanned breaks because I have nothing to say on a particular topic.

So on that note, this week I applied for an LCCN for Fractured Princess. That's exciting, because that gives it a better chance at being available in libraries. I've I receive a number, I'll be able to set up the Kindle edition for pre-sale! May will be here before I know it. 

I've also written a few more words in the new draft of Divided Princess. I do think this restart is going to help me get to the end of the book. It's on my mind more and more now that FP is on the move again.

My reading is also on the move again! I've been beta reading a friend's work the past few weeks, but this week, I was able to start N.K. Jemisin’s next book in her Great Cities series: The World We Make!

All is not well in the city that never sleeps. Even though the avatars of New York City have temporarily managed to stop the Woman in White from invading—and destroying the entire universe in the process—the mysterious capital "E" Enemy has more subtle powers at her disposal. A new candidate for mayor wielding the populist rhetoric of gentrification, xenophobia, and "law and order" may have what it takes to change the very nature of New York itself and take it down from the inside. 

In order to defeat him, and the Enemy who holds his purse strings, the avatars will have to join together with the other Great Cities of the world in order to bring her down for good and protect their world from complete destruction.

I'm almost 100 pages in, and I'm already stressed out! The action in the first book was amazing, so seeing even more magical city avatar action almost right out of the gate again is exciting! I'm sad that this will be the last book, but I can how weaving current events into a world of magical realism could get exhausting. I wish I loved Delaware enough to write a love letter book to it hahaha.

See you in March!

Another Writing Update: The Dreaded BLOCK

Happy rainy Friday! Well, at least in the mid- Atlantic.

While I'm preparing for the big re-release of Fractured Princess, I also realized that I hit a big roadblock in writing its sequel. One I couldn't figure my way out of. Sometimes, my writer's block is because I'm hesitant to write the next scene or can't figure out how to get a scene down the road. This time, I realized what I was writing wasn't connecting.

And since I figured out some of the biggest pieces of the puzzle, I realized a couple things:

1) I needed to start from the beginning, from scratch; and

2) I needed to *gasp* plot it out. 

I've been a pantser my entire life, just writing things how they came to me, even if they came out of order. This was especially how I wrote FP, but also, I never planned on writing a sequel. FP was going to be a standalone book, albeit with a bittersweet ending. I don't even remember preparing for a sequel when I decided to self-publish.

But then, ideas came, and damn them, I liked them! And unfortunately, creating a sequel means figuring out how to connect it to the first book and make sense, so of course I need a plan. It's just aaarrrgggh.

I will say, though, that I like the first paragraphs I've written. I plan on repurposing some of the scenes from the first version, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose a lot of them. *sob* I was about halfway done the first draft.

I can't be too upset, though, because this will most likely mean a better story overall! I certainly hope so.

Lastly, if all goes well, pre-ordering of the Kindle edition will be available mid-March/early April! Stay tuned for more news!

Writing Update: ***NEW COVER DESIGN REVEAL***

Graphic of a Computer that reads "Writing Update" on the screen

Happy February and Happy Black History Month!

I don't have a lot to say today, but I did decide it was the perfect time to reveal the updated cover for the new edition of Fractured Princess, the first book in The Shattered Chronicles! Returning to self-publishing has been both a relief and a big undertaking. This time, I definitely want to make sure I do things right, including more promotion up to the big day, which will be May 30th!

As a reminder, this is the blurb for the book:

Jonnie is the last princess of the Crystal Bearers, once a powerful people. When she was a baby, the metal army destroyed what was left of them, and now it is hunting her. Her watchmen keep her just out of the metal army’s reach, but she has spent her seventeen years running and hiding. Instead of standing by while her watchmen keep risking their lives for her, she decides to learn how to fight alongside them.

On the journey to hone her skills, long hidden secrets about her people reveal a connection between the Crystal Bearers and the metal army that only fuels Jonnie's will to defeat it. But the more she learns about her own powers, the more she realizes she may be responsible for the metal army – and the destruction of her people.

And now, without further ado, I present the newly designed cover, originally created by Racheal Scotland:









Actually, as another reminder, here was my original concept sketch that I gave to Racheal way back in 2019:

pencil sketch of a girl in front of a willow tree
All right, now back to the reveal.









book cover with three girls Title: Fractured Princess. Subtitle: The Shattered Chroncles Pt. 1. Tagline: Past, present, future, Jonnie must fight for them all. Author: Debra Renee Byrd

I updated the design with Canva. It's a really great program. I'm so excited. The first cover, I didn't really do anything with, but with this one, I also made sure to get the spine right, and I continued the design on the back cover!

back cover with a broken glass design and blurb on the back

I hope you guys like it! More updates to come soon!

January Review


Black and white photo of a hand writing on a blank notebook
© Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

It's the last Friday of January, and what a month it has been!

I've been preparing Fractured Princess for its final cover reveal and release date. The plan is for next Friday, so be on the lookout! I will try not to make the biggest deal about it, but going back to indie publishing is exciting for me. I'm glad to have the reins again.

I'm slipping back into writing more in Divided Princess, reworking some scenes to strengthen the story. I was talking to my younger sister about it while we were sipping wine in Vegas (I can't believe we were in VEGAS), and thinking about getting to Book 3, knowing for sure how that plot will go, motivates me to keep going!

I also applied to be a vendor at Multiverse Con in October. I believe I will hear if I'm in next month. We'll see. If so, it will be my first out-of-Dover convention, for which I will be super nervous.

Speaking of applying, I applied for a couple of rare-to-see proofreading jobs. When they look legitimate and are telecommute positions, I have to jump at the chance. I might have two big projects coming up from local clients, so we shall see! I love proofreading, if I haven't told y'all enough.

Wrapping this up, I hope everyone had a good month. If not, here's to a better February! See you then. 

Heading to the West for a Week!

Happy Friday!

I've decided instead of completely changing my blog schedule to not make it so rigid. That way, I don't have to worry about the set topic for the week. I'll try not to just ramble every week, but even the erasure of the schedule in the left toolbar felt freeing.

I'm currently beta reading a book, so I don't have anything to share on the reading front this month. This week has been extremely busy, but it has fortunately flown by. I have one more work day, and then I am on VACATION! My sister and I we won a timeshare contest a couple of years ago, and we sat through the presentation and won two trips, one to Colonial Williamsburg (which we skipped), and one to Las Vegas! It'll be our first time in the West! The time zone difference is going to wreck me at least the first day. I slept every single drive the first time we went to Nashville, and that was only 1 hour different. But maybe we'll just be on a weird schedule for those 4 days. My sister is already partially nocturnal.

I started preparing Fractured Princess for Amazon. I'm going to register it with the Library of Congress, and though I planned to publish in July, because of Comic-Con I will be releasing the book in June! A cover reveal is coming soon. Most likely February, but definitely by March. I want to launch the pre-sale of the Kindle edition in March as well. I have little bursts of excitement when I think about being back in the self-publishing game. I can't wait to see what this year has in store for Jonnie and the crew.

This is a short one. I will try to schedule a post for next week, so I don't miss a week so soon. Have a great weekend!

New Year, New News!


It is the first Friday of 2023! Can you believe it? I surely can't. 2022 came in hot and fast, and the overall consensus was that this year needs to come in nice and quiet-like.

Well, I started 2023 with my first bout of COVID, so the year is super disrespectful already. I've been in bed since Tuesday, when I woke up ready to go to a scheduled doctor's appointment and realized something wasn't quite right. The past few days have taken me through rotating symptoms, and I'm grateful they all didn't hit at the same time. My doctor prescribed me treatment, so I started it last night. It gave me grapefruit mouth, but so far, so good.

On that note, some things I've gotten done the past few days:

  • I rewatched The Witcher and The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf. I am in the middle of rewatching the first 3 episodes of The Witcher: Blood Origin, which I watched with my sister last Saturday and had planned on finishing with her before I ended up in quarantine. I also watched all the bestiaries, and the narrator is so goofy.
  • I finished the audiobook version of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which I read NINE YEARS AGO. I had to search both this blog and my old blog to remember that I was still over on my old blog when I read it. I even forgot how I found the book in the first place. It was in an article about Black fantasy authors! Here is the post, if you want to peek at it. That was back when I used Random.org to pick a page from the book, and seeing the line that I chose, it's funny because I just heard the line a little over 24 hours ago.
  • I spent about 7 hours playing Apex Legends, and I don't know if it was being in bed or having to focus more because of the coughing and nose-blowing, but I played really well. Even won a couple of games. Yay!

Realizing I was at the end of the week, I knew I had to get a post up for today, especially because my book contract has now officially ended! That means I am free to self-publish again! This past year, I've spent most of my writing time revising Divided Princess, but I also had help from my friend, the author MultiMind (highlighted on my blog here), preparing Fractured Princess for its re-release, so I made some updates to it as well. I plan to have more information in the next few weeks, but I will be back at my local Comic-Con with a new edition of the book, hopefully in paperback and hardcover and featuring a newly designed version of the original cover by Racheal Scotland! I'm really excited about it.

So this far, that's the best thing to come of 2023, helping to balance out the bad, and it's only the beginning!

I'm In Another Tournament!

Happy Friday!

I'm peeking back in on my hiatus to say I am participating in the second Black Girl Gamers Apex Legends GameFace Tournament hosted by Benefit Cosmetics!

This year, I'm in Team MeMeDe, and I've gotten some good practice in! I hope to do better than have my captain carry me all 6 games haha. If you want to watch, the tournament will be live on the BGG Twitch Channel at approximately 3:40PM EST with two Get Ready With Me segments, followed by the big game at 5:00PM. I love to get the chance to play with the BGG, and here's to more tournaments in the future!

On Hiatus

Happy Thanksgiving! Don't stuff yourselves. 

I might as well make it official: I will be on hiatus for the rest of the year. See you in 2023 when I'm refreshed and ready to post again!