Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Four years ago… October 9, 2012

The week before Thanksgiving in 2008, I was given Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga to read by one of my English students.  That Thanksgiving weekend I bought my own copies of the books, read through the series again, and then poured over Stephenie Meyer’s website, reading everything I could about the genesis of the story, the process of writing, what she’d done to find an agent, and the adventure her life had become.

I was completely, totally, thoroughly inspired.  An idea sparked.  I’d had a story floating in my head for decades.  I’d written it down in a couple of versions before, but it wasn’t right.  I had known I needed a hook, but I just couldn’t figure out what it could be.  Stephenie gave me the solution: mythology.  Just as she had used vampires and werewolves, Greek mythology could be melded into the experience I wanted to share in order to provide the depth and conflict that had been missing in previous drafts.

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving (that is, this very day four years ago) I began writing Grace Awakening.  That first day, I wrote about five double spaced pages.  The second day I did the same.  Then the third.  By the end of three weeks I had 75 pages of writing.  I set the goal to keep writing 25 pages a week. I met or exceeded that goal each subsequent week.  Twenty three weeks later, the first draft was complete.  It was the week before Easter, and I had 155,000 words.

A couple of weeks after Thanksgiving in 2009, I went to the Surrey International Writers Conference.  I pitched the book to a small Vancouver publisher.  She was interested and asked to see more.

A week before Thanksgiving in 2010 I signed the contracts with Gumboot Books.

In 2011, Gumboot Books went out of business, but Grace Awakening Dreams was released anyway through Lintusen Press in July.  By Thanksgiving 2011, it had been in the list of  Top iTunes Fantasy books in Canada over a hundred times.

In 10 days, I’ll be back to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference to pitch Grace Awakening Myth, a companion novel that tells  Ben’s version of  his battle for Grace.

It’s a lot to be thankful for: four years of creativity, empowerment, challenge, excitement, growth, and adventure.  It’s been an amazing ride!

Four years ago, when I started typing, I would not have been brave enough to imagine that I’d be in this place today.  But here I am.   My friend Heather observed, “Where will you be in another 4 years? Do you not love the “wait and see”‘ of life?”   The thought of it hit me in the gut.  Where will I be? I can only dream where Grace will be, keep writing, and hope I’m holding tightly to her coat tails as she explores the world!



fat girl November 29, 2010

The fat girl is crying inside tears under  her laughter.

She bounces ’round the school yard and wants to be what boys are after.

Such a shame that she’s so fat

She might be pretty under that.

They never look at her that way, because they are superficial,

She weeps into pillow then decides to make it official.

Such a shame that she’s so fat

She could be pretty under that.

If boys can’t see how sweet she is beneath her layers of fat

She’ll be alone unless she drops the weight and that is that.

She spends some time and works a bit on losing what she can

She drops a few that thin her face and now she’ll snare her man.

Such a shame that she was fat

She’s mighty  pretty under that.

She lies in wait for just the one Who doesn’t know her past

Before he can imagine what’s ahead she’ll snag him tightly fast.

Such a shame she’s been so fat

Everyone knows it’s under that.

And so it  was, a handsome man came looking for a mate

A wedding day and he is snared not knowing what’s his fate.

Such a shame that she was fat

He sees a beauty under that.

The joy of having kids to love can’t quite remove the loathing

she feels when she looks in the mirror and soon she stops her doting.

Such a shame that she’s so fat

and rather bitchy on top of that.

Her handsome man becomes a source of constant humiliation

She wants to be what she can not Her bitterness infuses frustation.

Such a shame that she’s so fat

She should be jolly under that.

Because she can’t accept herself, she compensates with work

She wants everyone to admire her wherever she should lurk.

With strength of will she bends all ears to make them see her side

They buy from her and sing her praise while hubby sees her lies.

Such a shame that she’s so fat

Her husband loves her under that.

From time to time a program comes along and she drops pounds

The success makes her elated and she tells everyone around.

She is trapped in self-disgust in her body that is fat.

Because inevitably it all comes back and more on top of that


There’s only one success in life she’s nothing if not thin

She desperate now to be the girl who always gets to win.

Such a shame that she’s so fat

She’s sure successful  besides that.


No matter if she has success and earns a lot of money

The truth of who she really is is certainly not funny.

Inside’s the little fat girl who is self-absorbed and cruel

She’s so desperate for admiration that it only serves to fuel

Control o’er all who come to her thinking she is kind and true

But watch yourself, she’ll take all you’ve got ’til there’s nothing left of you.

Such a shame that she’s like that

No heart is left beneath the fat.



This poem is rooted in that aphorism “Wherever you go, there you are.”  Some people blame a lot of things for their sense of unfulfillment– their weight, their race, their spouse, their circumstances, having kids, not having kids, etc.  Although we all have challenges to overcome, it’s always our own life, and our character is revealed in how we deal with those challenges.  So here is a narrative of a woman who was obsessed by the needy fat child within her and how  she lets that child run her life.  It’s an extended metaphor.  It is a cautionary tale.   Those inner children should not be allowed to run amok!  They are like Stephenie Meyer’s Immortal Children in Breaking Dawn– they destroy all around them, while the creators lose everything in the fight to save them.  Sometimes we have to destroy the inner child in order to save ourselves and our relationships.


thanks Steph! July 5, 2010

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:02 am

I love what Stephenie Meyer does to the creative centres of my brain.

She takes me to places where ideas flow over me until I’m drowning in them.


after the Eclipse July 2, 2010

The problem with spending time in a fantasy world is that sometimes it’s very hard to leave and return to the world of reality.

I have a friend who was raised in a huge Catholic family. Her dad was an illiterate farmer. He valued farm chores. He did not value education, and he especially did not value reading. Being discovered shirking one’s chores with a book was asking for a beating. I can kind of appreciate the anger. When your children have escaped into a book or movie, they are out of your control. They are being exposed to ideas that may differ from your own. A lot of people fear ideas that are different from their own, and that is why we have censorship. Ideas are free. Control is not.

I came out of the Eclipse matinee today, lost in the world of love, hard decisions, glorious Pacific scenery (the very roads of the Fraser Valley that we were driving last spring break), and the passions of youth. I have felt a little bittersweet all day, as I fight not to go back and read through the series again. (I just read them all last weekend for about the twentieth time, afterall, and I watched the movies 3X this week already).  My emotions have been highjacked by Twilight again.  It doesn’t matter that it has been a long time since I was engulfed in those passions of new love and the difficult decisions that last a lifetime, but it doesn’t seem like it. Whether those feelings were thirty years ago or three years ago, the intensity of them doesn’t change. Auntie Bright and Grace discuss this at the end of Grace Awakening,

. “Have you heard how the archaeologists have excavated three thousand year old honey from within the pyramids?”
(Grace) nodded and whispered, “Yes, they discovered it was still perfect, because bacteria don’t grow on honey.”
“Exactly. Like ancient honey, a first love remains ever incorruptible despite the passage of time. Though the boy may no longer exist, the memory of him is always pure and sweet.”

Like Bright, I’m feeling somewhat lost at the moment in the ache and joy of nostalgia. Those intense feelings are always just below the surface, and the Twilight Saga has woken them for many women, of all ages. Whether our heads remember all the details, our hearts recall each nuance of confusion, joy and adoration.   Stephenie Meyer’s created world pushes us back to that place.  It can be a wonderful place to revisit.  Being in love has a narcotic effect on the system.  It does us good to re-awaken those passions by escaping from our dreary every day.

Perhaps someone watching my vacant stares and unexplained flashes of smiles might be distressed.  Perhaps that fact that my thoughts are unknown would pain some people.  Not being quite in control of your head can be a problem.  On the other hand, it is amazing as a writer to know that words have that kind of power!   I bow to the brilliance that can take control of my emotions away from me, and remind me of  love’s power.

I am so glad to have spent the last twenty-five years with the amazing and brilliant man who happily attends Twilight movies with me, discusses books, gives me valuable  writing critiques, tolerates my foibles, loves me beyond reason, and yes, does laundry. What a blessing I’ve been given.  I am reminded of this whenever I float out of the cloud of love and adoration rekindled by Twilight.

I hope Grace Awakening leaves readers in a haze, wishing they were still lost in the story, spending time with Grace, Ben, Bright, Jim and the others. I hope they find themselves in the realm of memory, remembering the boys and men who first touched their hearts and awakened them to the grace of love.  I hope the fantasy rekindles their hearts to their reality.


reality and fiction June 18, 2010

…the difference between fiction based on reality and fantasy is simply a matter of range. The former is a handgun. It hits the target almost close enough to touch, and even the willfully ignorant can’t deny that it’s effective. Fantasy is a sixteen-inch naval rifle. It fires with a tremendous bang, and it appears to have done nothing and to be shooting a nothing.

Note the qualifier “appears.” The real difference is that with fantasy—and by that I mean fantasy which can simultaneously tap into a cosmopolitan commonality at the same time as it springs from an individual and unique perspective. In this sort of fantasy, a mythic resonance lingers on—a harmonious vibration that builds in potency the longer one considers it, rather than fading away when the final page is read and the book is put away. Characters discovered in such writing are pulled from our own inner landscapes…and then set out upon the stories’ various stages so that as we learn to understand them a little better, both the monsters and the angels, we come to understand ourselves a little better as well. (Charles de Lint. Memory and Dreams. p. 323)

I wish de Lint’s words were my own, because they’re so profound. Consider: “harmonious vibration that builds in potency.” Oh how I hope that Grace Awakening offers the reader such a lingering mythic resonancy! How I hope that as they grow to understand my characters, they understand themselves better, just as I have grown from the process.

When someone asks why on Earth I chose to write a novel with a fantasy twist, I want to be answer as eloquently as this! I am reminded of Bella’s comment in New Moon, “Could a world really exist where ancient legends went wandering around the borders of tiny, insignificant towns, facing down mythical monsters? Did this mean every impossible fairy tale was grounded somewhere in absolute ghost truth? Was there anything sane or normal at all, or was everything just magic and stories?” (p. 293) When it became clear that the story I had to tell required me to embrace myth, it was an epiphany. Once the mythology began to weave between the lines, my words flew beyond me. They started unfurling so much more than the germ I’d started with. Mythology reveals great truth, and I learned a lot from Grace and Ben, Jim and Bright, and the others in their world.  I suspect there is much more to learn.

I’m really looking forward to hearing what sorts of things the rest of you learn from Grace et al. If you’ve read Grace Awakening, I’d love to hear what harmonious vibration is resonating with you.


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