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!

 

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forever June 23, 2012

Filed under: Mythology,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:55 pm
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“No measure of time with you will be long enough, but let’s start with forever.”

Edward’s wedding  speech

Twilight Breaking Dawn (pt 1)

Having just finished draft two of Grace Awakening Myth, this whole “I’ll love you forever, if all those evil doers keep out of my way long enough” thing has been on my mind.  Is it easier to love someone forever when you have to keep fighting for them?  If someone is just always ‘there’ and not at risk, is it too easy to take them for granted?

Here are Bella and Edward at their wedding, finally everything is going their way, but no one gets happy ever after at the beginning of a book.  Forever has to work through adversity.

 

Harry Potter vs. Twilight July 31, 2011

Filed under: Commentary,Reading — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:22 am
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This quote is making the rounds of Facebook statuses these days:

‎”Harry Potter is about doing what’s right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”- Stephen King

With all due respect, Mr. King.  I disagree.  That is a weak, simplistic statement simply designed to create controversy.  It is also completely erroneous.

Twilight is about the power of love, just like Harry Potter is.

In Harry Potter, you see this power in Snape’s obsessive love for Lily.  That love was a fundamental component that weaves through the entire series.  In Twilight, the mutual obsession of Edward and Bella drives the plot.  In both series, the obsession leads to protection.  Edward fights to protect Bella.  Snape’s obsession with Lily protects Harry, though secretively.

The  theme of love as protection is another theme the two series have in common.  Lily’s sacrificial love for Harry provides the blood protection that allows him to survive amid constant threat.   The same concept applied when he sacrificed himself for those fighting at Hogwarts.  Edward fights to protect Bella.  Jacob fights to protect Bella.  Both would have willingly died for her.  Because of love, Bella trains to be able to protect everyone.  Because of love she endures pain to develop her gift and fight to protect the Cullens and the Quileute wolves.

Harry Potter is about doing what’s right in the face of adversity, sure.  Being willing to sacrifice yourself for the good of the world is a pretty amazing thing.  However, Twilight shares this theme.  In  New Moon, Edward chooses to sacrifice his happiness for what he considers a better life for Bella.   His choice nearly destroys them both, because their love is too powerful to allow them to be separate.   Adversity takes many forms.

Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend?  No way.  It’s about how having the right life mate fills your world with pain and joy in equal measure.  It’s about how the challenges of a relationship (like wanting to eat your true love, for example) need to be worked on, but that those challenges can be overcome.  It’s about how overcoming those challenges is worthwhile.  It’s about how learning to be together can make life more complete.

Harry Potter knew that, too.  When he got through with the task of destroying Voldemort, he married Ginny.  He knew love was important to have in his life.  That was the whole point of defeating Voldemort, after all.

Peace and love.  They both take effort.  Twilight and Harry Potter are different, but they come to the same conclusions.

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PS. They are the same conclusions that Grace discovers in Grace Awakening

 

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Poor Kristen June 2, 2010

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:53 pm
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Pity Kristen Stewart, a victim of her own fame and the juggernaut that is the Twilight hype. Speaking in an interview with Elle magazine Kristen likened the media frenzy to the trauma of being raped. We’ve seen in interviews in the last year that Stewart doesn’t like talking about her personal life. She is really quite shy and introverted. These qualities may seem strange in an actress, since acting is the epitome of extroverted behavior, but up until Twilight Stewart’s success in art films had not garnered her the extremes of public interest that is fueled by Twilight fan frenzy.

She signed on to the Twilight franchise early. Was she ‘asking for it’ by her willingness to take on this film? Considering the hysteria generated by the books, what did she expect the response to the movies was going to be?

Everyone deserves to have his/her privacy treated with respect, and we know that paparazzi are not particularly known for that. What do you think? Now that Twilight has brought her fame and fortune, do you think Kristen has any right to complain?

 

 
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