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!

VOTE VOTE VOTE

 

Happy Monday!

Please remember to vote tomorrow. Our country is finally falling off the broken bones it was built on, and we don't need to save it. We need to fix it. Many states have made it harder for certain groups to vote, and there are intimidaters monitoring the drop-off boxes in other locations, but do not let that deter or scare you. This will be one of the most important elections in our history. Human rights are at stake. Climate change is at stake. The future of these "United" States is at stake.

October Review

 Well, I definitely missed last Friday, so I guess I can double up this time!

© Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

It's the last Friday of October, and I know I've said before that I need these months to slow down. It feels like there aren't enough MINUTES in the day, let alone hours, to get things done nowadays.

One thing about being on a computer all week for work is that I don't want to be on it when I'm at home. Of course, this doesn't bode well for writing or (as you can see) blogging. I really have to push through that, especially for the new year. The commute really is taking a toll on me, though. I have to get up an hour earlier than I'm used to just to ride the bus to work (to not only save on gas but to not pay for parking in the City of Wilmington). If I'm lucky, I sleep on both trips to and from, but that doesn't factor in loud people and lead-foot drivers. I can't wait for our relocation. Even though it's not much closer, taking a bus would mean taking TWO to get to the new building, and it's not in Wilmington, so I'll be driving, which will give me back an hour of sleep; plus I'll get home sooner. Also, though this is also new and challenging work, I'm definitely still pining for a job that leans more to my writing abilities and nothing else. On the bright side, with the QA testing I've had the privilege to do these past couple of months, I can add that onto my resume for experience.

I've been looking at what I've written so far in Divided Princess, and I'm not satisfied with one of the chapters I've reworked. I guess I need to re-rework it back to what it was, but I moved it in the first place to make a fuller chapter for Cyan. It's still short, so it didn't work how I needed it to anyway. Maybe I'll give him more to do in the chapter so I can fix the issues. Part of my goal with this book is to show what a regular life looks like for these characters, at least for a short time (wink). I can delve a little deeper into that for Cyan. But I really can't wait to get back to writing new-new material in this book. Things have been coming together in my mind so tightly that I once yelled about it in my bathroom, and my sister asked if I was okay. haha

Hopefully I'll be back into the swing of things in November, though a lot of things happen that month, too. I'm still trying to decide if I want to do NaNoWriMo. If I can get this first part of DP fixed, I'll have more motivation to do it. We'll see.

Black Author Spotlight: Pura Lux

 

Happy Hallows!

It is the first Friday of October, which means it's time for 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.

Today, I am highlighting Pura Lux.


Pura Lux is an amazing poet I met while at Florida State University. She is from Homestead, Florida, and  I believe she now lives a little more inland, so gratefully, she was safe from Hurricane Ian! She writes the most surreal, ethereal, and the rawest words I've ever had the privilege to read. Though she's quite nervous to share her work to the masses, she uses Instagram to post her musings backed by pretty graphics that sometimes include her lovely face! I'm still waiting patiently for her slam book *ahem*, but for now, scroll through her feed to read her beautiful words!

Follow Pura Lux on Instagram!

Quarterly Goals

 

It is the last Friday of September, which is a 5th Friday, so that means it is time to look at my quarterly goals!

I actually had a dream one of my friends from high school who also wrote a book series asked why I wasn't at a(n imaginary, because it was in my dream) book festival. I think it was Kitty Gang, and if it was I'm laughing. That is a term fans of BTS use for Park Ji-min. I told him I didn't know about it but also that I can't do any promotion until January because I'm technically still on contract. On that note, the countdown is ON. But that's for next quarter.

I also just realized I skipped July's 5th Friday because it was my birthday month. So, I have to look back at April's quarterly goals. I had only read 6 books then, and I'm at 11 now, one away from my adjusted Goodreads goal. I had the week off, and I wanted to read more, but I think I slept more than anything the first three days. I guess I needed it. Then, I caught up on some of my DVR and played a couple of video games. I'll get back to reading on the bus this coming week, and especially tomorrow, because it's football season.

The last quarterly post, I said I planned to publish Divided Princess by Winter next year...I mean, I guess it's still possible, but I'm only a third of the way done with it at the moment. Maybe I will do NaNoWriMo so I can work on more scenes, even if they're not in any particular order. We'll see. I actually just moved a scene or two around, and whereas I said I had 20 chapters in the first part, I merged a couple of chapters, and I also think I miscounted, so now there are 17. I'm still reading through, fixed some continuity, and making sure things make sense overall. The first few chapters are establishing what Jonnie and Cyan have been up to the past year, so diving more into their personalities and dynamic is one of the primary goals.

Ew, in April, I had that job interview for a proofreader that didn't pay anything. Fortunately, in that same post, I started doing freelance work with my sister's friend's company, and I'm now on their roster for proofreading projects when needed. I also did QA for the first time, and I liked it. We just finalized that project, so hopefully this will lead to more frequent work with them. I go back into the office Monday, and the only thing I'm dreading is the early wake up. I'm enjoying the job right now. Once we relocate, only a few months away now, I'll gain an hour of sleep back. I can endure. But I do want to be a full-time proofreader, whatever that looks like.

Tomorrow, I plan to continue my staycation vibes, but I hope that everyone in the path of the hurricane(s) is somewhere safe and with some semblance of power. Be careful out here! I saw a video where someone ordered UberEats, so also just be mindful and EAT WHAT IS IN YOUR HOUSE during storms!

Anyway, see you next month!

September Review

© Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

Welcome to Fall!

September has been a pretty okay month. I've been taking the bus to work, so I have a chance to read more. I cut my book goal in half for the year when I realized I wasn't going to reach 2 books per month. I might get in more than 12 this year, though, so I'll try 24 next year. I'll be on vacation next week, so I plan on sitting and reading, reading the first part of DP, and catching up on shows I've started and have yet to finish.

The job is going very well. With the whole department full of new people, we're all learning together, so my productivity has been higher than ever in any State job. haha The commute is draining, but we'll be moving a little further south early next year, so I won't have to get up before 6am to try to catch the bus. It's only 8-minute difference from one building to the other, but the new building would require too many buses, and I spend too much time checking routes and times for ONE bus every in-office day (anxiety is a bitch). Freelance-wise, I haven't received Fiverr requests for a long time, and Twitter won't let me send the Tweet to promote it for some reason. I'll try again soon. My other freelance proofreading work went very well this past summer. I'm finishing up a project this coming week, and hopefully I can work with the company again soon.

On another note, I'm going to cancel the Patreon. I know it's only been a few months, but it's not getting any hits, and I'm the kind of person who has no motivation to do things if no one is interested in it. I tried to hold out, but trying to drum up content for a patron who literally lives with me is disheartening. I can just tell her my updates. Maybe I can try again later when I have more engagement, but not right now.

Oh shoot, there's a 5th Friday this month. As usual, I will look back on my last goals, see what I accomplished, and also post what my goals for the next quarter will be. I'm excited for the end of the year, because 2023 means I will be free to start hyping, promoting, and SELLING Fractured Princess again. I can't wait, and I hope you can't either.

Enjoy the weekend!

September Writing Update

 


We're going to be in 2032 if we blink too long!

It's the THIRD Friday of September, can you believe it? Not only does that mean we are a few days away from my favorite season, but it also means that it's time for a writing update!

So last month, I mentioned that I finished the first part of Divided Princess. I started the first chapter of the second part. I did one major revision to it, because I brought in a character earlier than they were needed, and it was getting in the way by my forgetting they were there haha. I need them later, so I'll put them back in then. It just makes sense.

I'm going to pause the writing and read the first part back to see how it all feels. I think that will also help me with the next few chapters before I get to where I need to go in the story. One thing I do want by the end of the series is for there to be less crying haha. Jonnie cried a LOT in the first book. Of course, she went through a lot of grieving in that book, too, so it should be understandable. I just want NO tears from her by the third book, if possible haha. We'll see how that goes. 

In other news, I'm going to Kensington (Northeast Philly) tomorrow to meet MultiMind for her book signing! I featured her in my Black Author Spotlight back in January, and her hustle is so inspiring. I can't wait to be able to promote FP again. She's given me so much knowledge about self-publishing and has helped me in this journey so much, I can't thank her enough.

I need to try to record some Patreon videos today, one for last month and one for this, and I'm also supposed to be working (what else is new?), so I'll cut this here. Have a good weekend!

Weekly Words: Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

 Happy Friday!

It is the 2nd Friday of the month, and that means I share with you what I am reading or writing, and I have successfully finished the book I'd been lazily reading since April and a whole comic book saga (The Dark Phoenix Saga, which was hilariously bad, but nostalgia), and have started a web series as well as a new book! And by new, I mean another book, because I bought it December 2020.

Justina Ireland's Deathless Divide, the sequel to Dread Nation, returns us to post-slavery, zombie-riddled America with Jane McKeene, zombie fighter extraordinaire, and this time, we also get to look through the eyes of her fellow fighter and former rival Katherine Devereaux as the girls try to get to California a la Oregon Trail...with zombies (they're not really taking the Oregon Trail, but could you imagine!).

This might be one of my favorite covers. Some covers with the characters on them tend to miss the mark, and these two really bring to life Jane and Kate for me, except Kate is described as light enough to pass for white, but that's the only difference. I can imagine her being out in the sun would give her this complexion. But anyway, the juxtaposition of their clothes also enhances it for me. Jane dresses to fight. Kate dresses to remain a lady. I do think it's funny, where I've gotten so far, that she keeps cutting off pieces of her petticoats to clean things. She's resourceful, I'll give her that.

I just started reading this on Tuesday, so I haven't run into any more shamblers (what they call zombies), but getting to see Kate's POV, we do get to read more about her ace/aro leanings. Seeing what Jane goes through with her on/off beau Jackson, Kate expressly says she will never feel that kind of push-pull and would never even sign up for it. It's great to see.

If you haven't read Dread Nation yet, I highly recommend it, and I don't even like zombies. I definitely remember yelling in fear reading the first book, so I expect nothing less with this one.

Here is the blurb:

After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.

But nothing is easy when you're a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodemus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880's America.

What's more, this safe haven is not what it appears - as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.

But she won't be in it alone.

Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by - and that Jane needs her, too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.

Watching Jane's back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it's up to Katherine to keep hope alive - even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.

 

What are you reading this month?

Black Author Spotlight: PYIF

 


Happy Friday!


It is the first Friday of SEPTEMBER, and we can freak out about that later. It is time for 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.

Today, I am highlighting Allen "PYIF" (Push Your Imagination Further) Greene.


This author is actually very near and dear to me: he's one of my cousins! We come from a very artistic family, from music to illustrating to writing, we are very right-brained.

PYIF is a sci-fi light novelist who is finally actively pursuing his dream toward publishing. I've had the pleasure of reading his first few draft pages, and I think readers will be in for a treat!

PYIF has created a GoFundMe to help with art commissions and copyright buyouts. Please support if you can! He's almost halfway there!

Follow PYIF 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

August Review

 

© Creative Commons Zero (CC0)


It is the last Friday of August. Kids are starting to go back to school, and I am one month into my new job. It's close to an hour commute, so I switch between taking the bus and driving on the days I work in-office. I get to telecommute Wednesdays and Fridays, so I get some semblance of rest between the tiresome driving. Our office is relocating next year about 7 miles south, but there's also going to be an office down the street from me, so maybe I can beg my way into there one day a week. We'll see.

My sister and I are preparing to amp up our housing search before anything else breaks down in this one. We had to replace our whole HVAC system last month, a highly unexpected cost. When we sell, we'll be able to pay off the loan we had to take out. We're looking at renting, because we don't want to live together forever, but the market is not for buyers or renters right now. Adulting is highly overrated.

I finally finished Black Leopard Red Wolf, and oh my God, what a story. Figuratively, I can't wait for the next book, which I think is out (*looks* yes, it came out in February), but mentally, I need a break from the density and rawness of Marlon James's writing. The action and the dialogue were my favorite parts of the story. Overall, it is not a happy one, but how many epic fantasies really are?

I officially finished the first part of Divided Princess, the sequel to Fractured Princess. (The books are split into three parts as a nod to my old Final Fantasy games that were three discs on Playstation One.) I had written "Book Two" much earlier in what I had been writing, but the scene I completed this week felt much more like a suspenseful ending. Whereas the first book has 15-16 chapters per part, so far Book One of Divided Princess has 20. A few are short, because Cyan talks a lot more this book. What does a Watchman do when his Watch no longer needs him for protection but is still his baby sister? Little things like that. I like getting to explore his mind more. He's my favorite character.

For the rest of the month, I plan to finish The Bellas' memoir that I started some time last year, do some more writing, get my next two Patreon posts ready, and slide into September excited for whatever will come. See you there!

August Writing Update



Happy Friday!

It is the third week of August, and having been reading more this month has really gotten my motivation to write back up. The only thing I have to do now is figure out how everything I want to write will make sense in the grand scheme of The Shattered Chronicles. There's a really big scene I wrote forever ago that I realize won't make sense yet, and I either have to scrap it (don't want to!) or move it. The plight of being a writer.

I'm also trying to figure out if I'll ever have more exposure than I do. Trying to restart this book series, I know people usually say your first book isn't the one to get published. Of course, self-publishing breaks that rule for you. I love this story and the characters, and I want other people to love it too. People who aren't my friends and family. So once I'm able to actually promote it, maybe I'll get more followers and patrons.

On that note, I'm hoping my Patreon takes off. I have a tendency to quit things when they get ignored after a while. This can't be one of them, but it's also only been a couple of months. I need to be more patient. It's just hard.

All right, didn't mean to get bleak, so I'm going to go! Have a great weekend!

I'm in a GAMING Tournament!

Happy Friday!

The second Friday of the month, I usually share what I’m reading, but I’m still reading the book from a few months back. I’m reading it faster, though, so I expect to have a new book to share in September. Today, I’m sharing something special!

This Sunday beginning at 4:30pm EST, I will be in my very first Apex Legends Tournament with other Black Girl Gamers, hosted by Benefit Cosmetics!


The tournament will be featured on the front page of twitch.tv. You can view it on the BGG channel, where they will be having a “Get Ready With Me” makeup session before the tournament, and I will also be streaming on my channel, twitch.tv/debthebird. I haven’t done in months, so I need to make sure my stuff is set up. I hope you’ll join me. It’s going to be fun!

Black Author Spotlight: AJ Woodson

 


Welcome to August! It is the first day and the first Friday of the month, so it is time for 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.

Today, I am highlighting AJ Woodson.



AJ Woodson is the creator and Editor-in-Chief of Black Westchester Magazine, a webzine for people of color in Westchester, NY, and the tri-state area. As the website states, "BlackWestchester.com is committed to be a platform to profile life, culture, economics, politics, sports and entertainment and those who are representing vision in these marketplaces and who can both encourage and provide role models to other men and women. BlackWestchester.com, through its online magazine, monthly newspaper, weekly talk radio show and editorial content, will be a vessel of community information throughout Westchester and the Tri-State area of New York. Our mission is to promote the concept of “community” through media." Black Westchester Magazine currently has close to 1,000 articles, with topics ranging from entertainment to politics, and hosts seven radio shows.

AJ also wrote a book about the creation of the webzine called Black Westchester - The Origin Story And How My Faith Was Instrumental in This Great Experiment, which tells of how the magazine came to be.


It is currently available on Amazon, but you can purchase an autographed copy through Paypal or Cashapp via $MrAJWoodson. Click here to read the article with the news.

You can follow AJ on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at MrAJWoodson.
His website will soon be available at www.mrajwoodson.com.

________________________________________________________________________________


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: S.D. Johnson

 


Happy July! It is the first day and the first Friday of the month, so it is time for 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.

Today, I am highlighting Samone "S.D." Johnson.


Samone is a self-published speculative fiction author, wife, and mother of three. She is also a mentor, beta reader, proofreader/editor, copywriter, and ghost writer, and she also helps promote other books! 
She actually has her own author spotlight as well! Samone's website is equally as active as she is. You can view her current read as well as books she's read previously, and watch her booktuber videos!

Her first series, The Fallen Scion Series, is currently available on Amazon, and if you visit her website, you might actually find a free sneak peek of Book 1: The Scion's Descent *wink*. Here are the awesome covers of all three books (peep the backgrounds!):




And here is the synopsis:

The Falling Scion Series is a coming-of-age story dropped at the crossroads of Mad Max and family deception. The year is 2305 in a post-apocalyptic dystopian United States. Our fragmented Scion Yoli has grown up regal and privileged in the Shore Delegation but is seemingly transformed overnight when she is kidnapped by a sister that she never knew existed and told the truth about her bloodline and pedigree. She can’t trust anyone and she’s full of resentment, and all she wants to do is run from all of it. She doesn’t have time to be smitten with Solomon the Post Trader or lose her best friend and Daily, Selah. Yet, with learning the truth, she’s forced to deal with it head-on or be consumed by the deceit.

Everything changed for Yoli, the day the men of the Pit and their heinous leader Santana got their hands on her. Santana tortures Yoli, in hopes to get information from her that could change the course of their history. Not to mention this evil man is revealed to be Yoli’s uncle and mortal enemy. After an all-hands-on-deck heist to get her back from the Pit. Yoli goes through a tragic drug-induced detox only to be forever changed from the sheltered heir of the Shore Delegation to a wild child still grappling with life after the enemy has sieged and destroyed her home. The once life-loving young lady has become a dark, brooding, life-hating, hedonist drowning her broken pieces in debauchery. Along with Solomon the Post Trader (the man she has come to swoon after), her new sister Stacia (the one she once admired and now loathes), the people of the Bottoms, and the bounty hunters, the group finds themselves at the Barnes Military Base with the Pit looming close behind them. This is where Yoli learns two of the most crucial parts of her existence and she realizes that she has to get her act together and her life in order if she is going to live to see another day. It’s this bit of information that her sister was hiding that took from a young adolescent girl to a woman that must make adult decisions. One of those things is that her traditional tattoo Scion markings that she received at the age of thirteen during her coming-of-age ceremony, hold the key to a “promised land” beyond the desert wasteland that they all know. It’s that map in her Scion markings that her greedy uncle Santana will stop at nothing to get his hands on.

It’s at this moment that Yoli rises up and uses the information that Santana was after to keep her loved ones safe. She decides that it's her time to lead and stop crying about a past that she cannot change. Yet even that causes a whole new set of problems. The Pit is hot on her trail and she still can’t shake the burden of lies that she has to carry every time she looks at her sister, but she perseveres with the little hope that she has left. It’s lead her people or die trying time.

Faced with the tragic loss of one of Yoli’s loved ones, she decides that enough is enough and heads out after the enemy on her own to put an end to the torment that her family has suffered. She wanted to look death in the face and conquer it once and for all. Will she succeed?


Sounds intriguing! I love a good complicated family narrative.


Once again, you can visit Samone's website at http://www.authorsdjohnson.com/.

Follow Samone on Twitter and Facebook at authorsdjohnson.

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

June Review: I had a busy month!

 June has been a busy month for no reason.

© Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

I only say this because I was busy every Saturday for one reason or another. Here is what I did:

On the 4th, I went to my first Pride event with my younger sister. It felt so good to see so many people out, and I saw other demisexual flags on the street, so I wore mine like a cape of honor. Next year, I have to remember to bring money, because the drag shows were popping! We spent most of our time there.

woman in a Demi Goddess t-shirt standing akimbo on marble steps with a demisexual flag worn like a cape
Me on the steps of the Townsend Building at Legislative Mall.

On the 11th, I had a graduation party to go to, and then I stopped by the African American Festival with my goddaughter. Then, my friends all piled into my house to eat crabs. On the 18th, Dover Comic-Con took place, and I spent two hours passing out merch bags filled with a bookmark, business card, and post card with Fractured Princess's blurb and release date.

gray mesh gift bag with a business card with three identical black girls' faces on it, a bookmark that reads "Fractured Princess" on the top, "Debra Renee Byrd" on the bottom, and a young black girl's face in the middle, and a post card
The bag is shiny, so pictures are meh.

I had fun those two hours. I passed out all 75 bags that I had, and I even got to stop to eat for a minute before I left to get ready for my best friends' baby shower. Then, we piled into our other friend's apartment and watched Turning Red.

On Juneteenth, my sisters and I hung up textiles of our mom in the room that used to be her sitting area in her in-law suite at my older sister's. She updated it, and it's really cute (not that it wasn't before, but my mom liked cherry wood and maroon/taupe fleur-de-lis afghans, and we do not). We sat in there and chatted for a few hours. Then, I rested on the 20th, which was very nice.

Tomorrow, I have a baby's birthday party and a barbecue at my sister's, and then it will be July! Well, not right away, but it will feel like it. There is a possibility that I will take a break in July, as it's my birthday month, but I'll cross that bridge in a week. I still have to record a video for Patreon, so that will be my goal later tonight or early tomorrow morning.

Writing wise, as you saw in my post from last Friday, I have so much written down, and I can't wait to put it all together. It's for Book 3, though, so that means I need to get the ball rolling on Divided Princess. I need to figure out how to get to all the stuff that leads to Book 3. I kind of know, but I just need to sift through my jumbled ideas and make sure I carve out a sensical path. Wish me luck!

________________________________________________________________________________

Join me on Patreon for additional content!

June Writing Update: Change of Plans But Good News...



It is the third Friday of the month, which means it's time for a writing update. This one is brought to you by Twitter:



There are other tweets after the first that may or may not have clues to the inspiration for these plot points, but ...*evil grin*.

Anyway, I had to make a slight change of plans for my attendance at Comic-Con, so while I won't have a table this year, my spot is reserved for next year, and I will be walking around with the merch I have to pass out to folks. Hopefully they use it to find me here and everywhere I am on the interwebs.



________________________________________________________________________________

Join me on Patreon for additional content!

Weekly Words: Black Authors and the White Gaze

*Trigger Warning: Discussion of R***, Incest, and S***** V******* in Writing*


Happy Friday!

For the second week of June, I typically share what I'm reading, sometimes what I'm writing. I'm still reading Marlon James's Black Leopard, Red Wolf, and I've gotten to a point where if I actually carve out time to read, I make it further. Imagine that!

However, I want to stop and discuss something I noticed while I was looking through the reviews to see how people felt about it. It has an average of 3.5 stars on Goodreads, with 75% of readers rating it at least 3 stars. As I said in the previous post, one reviewer said to read it in small doses because it's dense, and that's one of the reasons I'm still reading it. I made it through George R.R. Martin's A Feast For Crows and A Dance of Dragons. I think I can make it through a book 500 pages shorter. And as it's being called the African Game of Thrones, I am comparing it to GOT. I'll get into some of that in a minute.

The other reason I'm still reading it is as a Black fantasy author, Black readers don't get to see fantasy written from the Black perspective frequently, especially the Black male perspective, and Black authors deserve Black reviews. SFF is still saturated with white authors not only writing white MCs but overstepping and writing POC MCs, so not only do audiences receive a usually poor misrepresentation of POC in fantasy, POC writers get shut out of the traditional publishing industry because "there's already a ____ story," or "this doesn't feel authentic to _____" (which I've seen many POC writers say this was told to them, ironically), or the biggest one, "I (the agent/reviewer/reader) can't connect with this."

The latter is a problem of the white gaze. White readers open these books by Black and NBPOC authors with a lens of expectation that we can't meet because we're not white. We're not going to tell stories in the same way as white writers with the same historical influences as their readers, because our histories, stories, and mythologies are different. So, when we don't meet this impossible expectation, or sometimes even exceed it, these are the kinds of reviews we get (I'm going to highlight some key elements of these reviews):

From Goodreads, 2-star review (excerpt):
"honestly, this is the most pretentious book i have ever read. its so far beyond high-brow, its in an obnoxious league all on its own. james employs every literary device possible to transform his words into riddles, half-truths, and vague mysteries. as a reader, i dont mind having to sometimes work for a story. some of the best stories take patience to dissect deeper meanings. but what is really happening here is marlon james hiding behind his fancy words and complicated sentences to distract the reader from the lack of substance and development. the rhetoric in this story is dense, convoluted, and bogged down with false promises of something worth reading. the prose is evasive and meandering, dragging the reader around and around in circles without an end in sight. its honestly a disorganised and conceited mess."

From Goodreads, 2-star review (excerpt):
"Of course, the African foundation brings with it different types of stories and forms than those which underly the Greek/Roman mythic tradition but the same fundamental questioning is at its heart. Like Ovid’s Metamorphoses, it’s an interconnected compilation of stories, featuring representations of violence and transformation throughout. Here, the overarching narrative is the tracking of a lost child, but this is a book of movement and journey, change and discovery. There’s so much more to it than this one tale, instead it’s a meandering exploration of an unknowable world.
And yet, it's precisely this which is its downfall."

I can barely call the first one a review. It's a scathing takedown of the author's skill, and it's only a PART of their review. They went on for five paragraphs. What this actually reads like is this: "How dare a Black man attempt to create something intelligent." Something white men have been praised for doing for centuries is suddenly terrible when a Black man does the same.

The second review almost felt like the reviewer got it. While in their full review, they still recommend the book as an exploration of folklore and myth and a particular style of writing, they call it meandering and unknowable and claim that is the book's downfall.

I've said almost exactly this in another blog post: Unknowable to WHOM?

White readers need to be careful how they read and review books by POC. It's that simple. If you are reading a book written by a POC and you don't understand it or can't connect with it, I would highly recommend before running to review it, you ask yourself, "Why?" and more importantly, "What am I missing?"

Because many of the 2 or fewer-starred reviewers tell on themselves, and what they are telling is, "I've never read anything besides white folklore, white mythology, and white narratives." One reviewer even mentioned the consequences a white male would have received if he had tried to write this book. Well,  to that I ask, "Why would a white male be trying to write an African-based fantasy with a queer, Black MC in the first place?"

POC writers and readers have not had much of a chance to read our own narratives. Schools don't focus on anything else until February or college, so most often than not, we're relying on ourselves or others before us to shine a light in the right direction so we can write something true to us. Black Leopard Red Wolf is HEAVILY built on not only African folklore/mythology, but African cultures and issues we as Black people know about. So, when the discussion of homosexuality or female genital mutilation sneaks into the conversation (and I say "sneaks," because it took me a second to realize the implication of what a character was describing to the MC), Black readers who know the beliefs and practices of certain African countries/communities know why the author was pointing it out. Some of these countries (there are 54 in Africa) still have violent systems of misogyny in place--some by their own hand, some by the effects of white supremacy. This is something else Black readers know and understand that a white reader might not know or might even ignore.

Many of the low-star reviews also mentioned the trigger warnings, and yes, there are a lot of triggers. One reviewer said, in talking about the comparison to A Game of Thrones, that it is all the parts of GOT that they didn't like. And that's a very fair statement. But let's unpack that as well.

Unless you live under a rock, you know GRRM and the Song of Ice and Fire series. If you didn't read the book, you saw the tv show, or heard about it, or have heard about both if you neither read nor watched. GRRM wrote these books at a time where trigger warnings did not exist. As a matter of fact, I have only read two books where trigger warnings do exist, and they were both written by Black women who self-published their books. I have yet to see trigger warnings in traditionally published books, and if there are, they are new.

Back to GOT, if you've seen the show without reading the books, you might not know that all of the characters were aged up. Because all of the Stark children are no older than 14 in the books. Danaerys Targaryen, whose brother sexually abuses her and forces her to marry a 30-something-year-old man, is 13 years old in the books. 20-year-old Renly Baratheon is in a homosexual relationship with 15-year-old Loras Tyrell, and Renly is later murdered. ASOIF is heavy on rape, incest, child abuse, and sexual humiliation.

I point all of this out as someone who LOVES those books, and I also ask: where were the scathing think pieces by white readers on these issues? At the most, I saw outrage from readers when certain scenes in the tv show were changed to add more rape. But both the books and the show received a resounding thumb ups from the masses. A Game Of Thrones alone has a 4.5-star rating with 94% being 3 or more stars on Goodreads.

So, while we are entitled to our opinions, who are we to praise one book despite its gross flaws because it aligns with the medieval Euro-centric narrative we are used to and figuratively burn another book with the same flaws because it is coming from the "unknowable" place of African-based storytelling?

________________________________________________________________________________

Join me on Patreon for additional content!

Black Author Spotlight: Amber McBride

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 Amber McBride.


Amber is an author, poet, English professor, National Book Award Finalist, and sensitivity reader whose website I need you all to go look at right now. Do it. It's STUNNING. Based on her bio and press kit, she is a whimsically dark character, and I am here for it. Her students call her Ms. Mermaid, and her family calls her Little Wolf. We will call her an author whose second YA novel-in-verse, We Are All So Good At Smiling, is currently available for pre-order!


When I shared this cover on my Facebook, I might've gotten more comments than I have since I launched the page. Because this cover is GORGEOUS! The soft colors and the transparent lettering make for a beautiful mix. Here is the blurb from Amazon:

They Both Die at the End meets The Bell Jar in this haunting, beautiful young adult novel-in-verse about clinical depression and healing from trauma, from National Book Award Finalist Amber McBride.

Whimsy is back in the hospital for treatment of clinical depression. When she meets a boy named Faerry, she recognizes they both have magic in the marrow of their bones. And when Faerry and his family move to the same street, the two start to realize that their lifelines may have twined and untwined many times before.

They are both terrified of the forest at the end of Marsh Creek Lane.

The Forest whispers to Whimsy. The Forest might hold the answers to the part of Faerry he feels is missing. They discover the Forest holds monsters, fairy tales, and pain that they have both been running from for 11 years.

I need this book. It sounds like it has a hint of surrealism that I love.

Preorder We Are All So Good At Smiling in Hardcover or Kindle at Amazon.
If you missed it above, visit her website at amber-mcbride.com.
Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at ambsmcbride.

________________________________________________________________________________

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

May Review

 

© Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

Happy Friday!


It is the last Friday of May! This has been an interesting month for writing. I’ve written close to 2,000 of what’s so far 3,000 words of a backstory that gets mentioned in the sequel in far less words than will actually be in the sequel. Haha But on the bright side, I’m still writing! I said last week that I’ll have to do some plotting to actually get back into this sequel, and yeah, that’s really going to have to happen. I have so many ideas that are popping into my head to propel the story to its major plot points, but I need to make sure the right pieces get put down to get to them. And I really can’t wait to get to Book 3, but I have no choice!

Career-wise, I had a virtual interview for an admin position in the HR department upstate. I have an in-person interview with them early June. I’m a little on the fence about the position, but it included proofreading in the description, so that intrigued me. Then yesterday, I saw an editing position open for the Legislative Branch, so I applied immediately. I have never seen these types of job available for the State, so that’s a good thing to see such a change. I’m really trying to get out of administrative work entirely. Full-time editing has been a dream of mine for a long time.

And maybe one day, I’ll be full-time author? Maybe? *high-pitched voice* Either way, one more week until I launch my Patreon (nervous yelling)!

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.