Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Found Poetry with Kwame Alexander's BOOKED

Dear Kim (and friends!!),



Our students are nearing the finish line (teachers too.) A quick sprint to the end is all that we have left.

At our school, the students literally speak in terms of "finish lines", "touchdowns", and "goals". Not because of the annual field day, but because of the new reading program. The final unit in the American Reading Company's curriculum is SPORTS FICTION.

No SPORTS FICTION unit would be complete without a poem from Mr. Kwame Alexander. But, what Kwame book to discuss? CROSSOVER? BOOKED? THE PLAYBOOK?


Since many students are shin guard-deep in soccer right now, I picked BOOKED. In this verse novel, Kwame Alexander uses a variety of poetry styles to bring his main character, Nick Hall, to life. Nick is obsessed with soccer. When he becomes sidelined, books are his new game.

The lesson:

After reading from the book, we "borrowed" one poem and used it as a seed for our own poetry. Students were able to highlight up to three words per stanza. They then cut the words from the copied poem and maneuvered the words to make their own. Manipulating words in this manner is called found poetry, and it is a favorite way to get kids engaged in writing poems.



I then offered a selection of additional poems from a wide range of sports. The students could work to apply the same rules:

1. Read the poem all the way through.
2. Reread and highlight up to 3 words per stanza.
3. Cut out the highlighted words.
4. Rearrange into a new poem.
*You can use any punctuation you wish.
*You can add up to 3 words of your own within the poem. (I fudged on this when a child had an idea that was too good to stick to the "only 3 extra words" rule!)

One student's poem reads:

Goal!
Yes!
I know soccer
The green grass
The ball
Yes!
I know soccer!

Have you found a poem lately? I am sure one is waiting for you in the pages of BOOKED by Kwame Alexander.

Much love!
Alison

P.S. Speaking of poems, and classrooms, and teachers... If you know a teacher who might be interested in our On the Bookshelf workshop at the Highlights Foundation, please pass the information along. Teachers can earn up to 3 credits and bring home a bag full of books. (Bonus: you'll get to see me!!)


Thursday, May 18, 2017

MATT PHELAN: Graphic Novelist Superhero

Dear Alison and friends,

It’s a bird. No, it’s a plane. No, it’s Matt Phelan, superhero of the graphic novel.

Picture it. A man, an ordinary man, sipping his coffee, his highly caffeinated coffee, while the sun rises in the early morning. One child hangs from his left arm. Another hangs from his back. To most these young humanoids serve as a distraction, but not to this man. He sits with a smile and an unwavering determination to finish his coffee.

Next Frame. The man steps outside his front door with his hands on his hips, a flowing red superhero cap draped artfully off his shoulders. To most he looks like a man with an overactive imagination and a propensity to cosplay. To his readers, he looks like a superhero.



Next Frame. Matt enters his art studio. He closes the door. He glances at his desk with his pens, pencils, paint, and paper scattered across it waiting for him to return. His cap lifts. A light bulb appears above his head.

Next Frame. He sits, takes pencil to paper, and begins to create his first art panel to his next graphic novel. He doesn’t create art for awards or accolades. He creates it for the two young humanoids in the house, the half dozen humanoids that live in his neighborhood, the hundreds of thousands of humanoids both young and old waiting to devour his next graphic novel. His pictures tell a tale like no other. Matt Phelan sees the world through the lens of a single panel, followed by another panel, soon followed by a collection of panels. He spins stories through pictures. The awards and accolades will follow. They always do, but to this man, this graphic novel superhero it’s about capturing a moment that will resonant with readers until the end of time.

Matt Phelan, author/illustrator, graphic novel superhero lives in Eastern PA. He’s been a faculty member of many of our Eastern PA SCBWI events. He possesses the incredible gift of being able to speak thoughtfully and deeply to writers and illustrators about his approach to art. June 11-14 Matt will join forces with cartoonist, Merrill Rainey at the Highlights Foundation for Your Guide to Graphic Novels. This intense workshop will engage both writers and illustrators in the graphic novel form. Matt will share his super hero tips. He might even lend you his cape. Scholarships and grants are still available.

 

So, if you grew up reading comic books (who didn't), and you loved to write (who doesn't), and you wanted to try your hand at a new and growing medium AKA the graphic novel, I would rush to the Highlights Foundation registration page and fill out the application, and while you're there, you should read this super awesome, red cape worthy post by Matt. Oh and you should probably read the entertaining post about graphic novels by our very own Inksister Alison Green Myers called Make Room for Graphic Novels. 

INSERT YOUR FACE IN IMAGE...



Sharing the writing love one letter at a time, 
Kim







Wednesday, May 10, 2017

BOOK BLITZ & BLOG TOUR: Starr Fall

Dear Alison and friends, 

This week you are in for a treat. (Well, I hope it's a treat.) We've had three posts in three days, but for excellent reasons. Alison needed to have a dance party to celebrate her new Work in Progress and aside from the fact that everyday should be reason for a dance party, I'm participating in a Book Blitz and Blog Tour for Starr Fall in anticipation of the upcoming release of Starr Gone, Book Three of my young adult series. In case you missed the cover reveal, here's the post. 

So, over the next two weeks, a load of different blogs are hosting me. I've written some cool posts about Starr Fall, shared details about the characters, created Character Pinterest boards, and shared new excerpts, so be sure to follow along with the Blog Tour and comment. Plus there's a giveaway for a $10 Amazon Gift Card... 



Let's get the Starr Fall Book Blitz rolling!


One Starr falls, and a killer rises.
Book Cover

STARR FALL
Kim Briggs
Series: Starr Fall, Book 1
Genre:†Young Adult, YA Contemporary, YA Romance
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Publication Date: November 4, 2016
On the run from the Organization, Starr never planned on falling in love.
Starr Bishopís the complete package. A perfect smile, brains to match, and a winning attitude. Boys want to date her and girls want to be her. Sheís the type of girl you want to hate, if only she wasnít so damn likable. But donít worry, sheís not interested in your boyfriend. Boys are one complication she can live without.
When the Organization decides sheís not only the model student but the ideal assassin, Starríll need a lot more than high test scores and extracurricular involvement to get herself out of that commitment.
Dark, moody, and dead sexy Christian Evergood is the last person sheíd expectóor even wantó to come to her rescue. From opposite ends of Webster Highís social hierarchy, their lives collide in one electrifying moment. Christian isnít the Goth loner he pretends to be, heís a part Cherokee, All-American boy who wants to be a hero, Starrís hero. Christian makes Starr forget that the Organization is after her, but nothing will stop the Organization from collecting their top recruit.
By the way, the spot for junior class president just became available.
Abandon whatever you are doing and read this book! I truly enjoyed it. It's such a quick paced book. You could easily read five or six chapters without realizing how much time has passed! The ending left me wanting more!
- Shakera Blakney, YA Insider

Purchase Links

Teaser

Other Books by the Author

Be sure to also check out Book 2 of the Starr Fall series:
Book Cover
STARR LOST (Starr Fall, Book 2)
A Starr falls, and a family is found.
On the run from the Organization, Starr and Christian find safety on the Qualla Boundary with their friends, Ben and Coda, but Starr needs answers. She owes her dear dead friends, Sami and Jody, that much. She forms a team of her own to fight the general and his recruits.
Life becomes tense on the Qualla Boundary, sparks fly, and the Organization is about to smash in their door.

Buy†Links: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble
"After reading Starr Fall I didn't think anything could top that at all. Then I read this book...I just loved it, and the ending was INCREDIBLE."
- Meggan Turner, Goodreads reviewer

Giveaway

WIN
Giveaway Graphic
Prizes up for grabs:
$10 Amazon Gift Card
Copy of Starr Fall and swag bag (US/Canada - Print, International - eBook)
Contest runs from May 10 - 24, 2017.

About†Kim Briggs

Author Pic
Kim Briggs once smashed into a tree while skiing. The accident led to a concussion, a cracked sternum, temporary notoriety as a sixth grader returned from the dead, and the realization that fictionalized accounts are way more interesting than just slipping on the ice.
An unhealthy obsession with conspiracy theories combined with a love of travel and happily ever afters led Kim to write her YA novel, Starr Fall, where a secret organization decides 17-year-old Starr Bishop is not only the model student, but the ideal assassin. While in hiding, Starr meets dark, moody, and dead sexy Christian Evergood. Cue the swoon worthy music. But itís not all happily ever afters for Kim. Her NA novel, And Then He, explores the dark and scary corners of the human psyche. Following a night of innocent flirting with a handsome stranger, Tiffani finds herself in the midst of a nightmare she canít escape. And Then He is available through Amazon and other major book retailers. Starr Fall released November 2016 with Inkspell Publishing, followed by Starr Lost in January 2017 and Starr Gone in June 2017. Her novella, Avalanche is part of the Valentine Kisses Anthology and released February 14, 2017.
When sheís not doing something writerly, Kim can be found jumping into snowdrifts with her three kids, husband, and dog. Sheís careful to avoid trees.
Visit her website and sign up for updates: http://www.KimBriggsWrite.com.
Please like her Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KimBriggsWrite/.
Chat with her on Twitter: @KimBriggsWrite.
She shares writing love with her INK Sister Alison Green Myers at INK Sisters Write: http://INKSistersWrite.Blogspot.com.
Social media links:

Tour Schedule

Follow the book tour from May 11 - 24, 2017.
Get sneak peaks, excerpts, fun facts and other never-before-published info on Starr Fall.
Tour Graphic

In partnership with
Book Unleashed


Sharing the writer love one letter at a time,
Kim

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What RULES Your Character?

Dear Kim,

I put Girls of Summer away for a spell to let her simmer before big revision #6,402.

So, as you know, this means PARTY TIME. 🎉🎉🎉

Okay, not like streamers and gin parties, but starting a new novel PARTY.

It is such a happy, anything-is-possible time. I can fall in love with my characters as they uncover themselves to me. Not worry about... tightening plots... revising scenes... word-freaking-choice... too many ellipses.

I mean, I know where I want to go with Untitled Story. She's been the star of my journal for two weeks. See?




Isn't that journal adorable. Gift from my bestie. She knows that I have a BIG obsession with LITTLE things. I filled all fifty, itty-bitty pages with backstory for CeCe, the star of Untitled Story. (And, don't worry, I'm not going all meta on you here, the title isn't "Untitled Story". Just not feeling the working title: OBEAST.)

Anyway, the most surprising thing for me so far with CeCe is that she has all of these rules. She likes structure. Plans. Expectations. For example, shopping at Goodwill has exactly two rules.



The rules of Goodwill:

1.) Patience
2.) Imagination

In my first draft, this is where CeCe gave up the rules of Goodwill:


Fun, right?

I know it's backstory heavy right now. But, hey, what are first drafts if not backstory and shitty sentences? Just like CeCe's Goodwill rules, I need patience and imagination to finish the draft and then turn it into trophy. (Okay, let's not get carried away. "Trophy" is too strong a word here. Consider this a first draft.)

I'll revise to turn this into a stronger scene, let the rules come along more naturally. For today though, I wonder about other characters and their rules? Like Edward Cullen (oh, don't roll your eyes at me!).


No sunlight in public. 
No human hunting. 
No shirts.
What rules are missing?

Or perhaps an example from one of my favorite YA novels, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. (If only it was from one of the greatest characters to ever dance across the page, Tiny Cooper, but no.) This one comes from Will Grayson I:

This book has my heart. But, dear reader,
do yourself a favor and read
Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story today.
💛💛💛

“Also, I feel that crying is almost--like, aside from deaths of relatives or whatever-- totally avoidable if you follow two very simple rules: 

1. Don't care too much. 

2. Shut up. 

Everything unfortunate that has ever happened to me has stemmed from failure to follow one of the rules.”







Does your character create rules for herself/himself? I'd love to hear about them.

For now, let me dance off to my first draft PARTY.

Lots of love,
Alison

Monday, May 8, 2017

COVER REVEAL & GIVEAWAY: Starr Gone, Book Three of the Starr Fall Series

Dear alison & friends,

Friday was the official reveal for Starr gone, Book three of the starr fall series. I can't even contain myself right now. Check it out and guess what, people can preorder...



⭐⭐⭐ Unveiling a new cover ⭐⭐⭐
Book Cover
STARR GONE
by Kim Briggs
Series: Starr Fall Series, Book 3
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, YA Romance, YA Thriller

Publication Date: June 3, 2017
A Starr gone. A team betrayed.
You never know who your true friends are until a gun’s pointed at you. One will take a bullet, and the other will pull the trigger. Starr learned that lesson the hard way.
The perfect smile. A killer attitude. General Treadwell wanted nothing more than to turn Starr Bishop into the ideal assassin, but she’s far more valuable as Jessica Chamberlain, granddaughter and heir to Chamberlain Chocolates. Luckily, he’s found two enthusiastic replacements. They lack Starr’s intelligence, but no matter, they possess their own weapons of persuasion along with a flair for the dramatic, and that’s never a bad thing.
Di, along with Christian, Frank, Ben and Coda, are determined to keep Starr safe, but the depths of betrayal crack the very foundation of the team. When Starr becomes a pawn in a game of power, money, and manipulation, Di channels her WWSD (What Would Starr Do) to rally the team. She owes her best friend that much. No... More.

Pre-order Now for $2.99 Only!

Other Books in the Series

Don't miss the other books in the Starr Fall series.
Book Cover
STARR FALL
Series: Starr Fall Series, Book 1
When the Organization decides Starr would make the ideal assassin, she needs to escape the island and disappear. While in hiding she meets dark, moody, and dead sexy Christian Evergood. Christian makes Starr forget that the Organization is after her, but their lives are more entwined than either one realizes.
One Starr falls, and a killer rises!
Buy Links: Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble
"Great start to a new YA series! This was definitely an enjoyable read with a cliff hanger of an ending."
- K.G. Fletcher, Goodreads reviewer
Book Cover
STARR LOST
Series: Starr Fall Series, Book 2
A Starr falls, and a family is found.
On the run from the Organization, Starr and Christian find safety on the Qualla Boundary with their friends, Ben and Coda, but Starr needs answers. She owes her dear dead friends, Sami and Jody, that much. She forms a team of her own to fight the general and his recruits.
Life becomes tense on the Qualla Boundary, sparks fly, and the Organization is about to smash in their door.
Buy Links: Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble
"After reading Starr Fall I didn't think anything could top that at all. Then I read this book... I just loved it, and the ending was INCREDIBLE."
- Meggan Turner, Goodreads reviewer

Giveaway

WIN $10 AMAZON GIFT CARD
Giveaway Graphic
Contest runs from May 5 - 9, 2017.

About Kim Briggs

Author Pic
Kim Briggs once smashed into a tree while skiing. The accident led to a concussion, a cracked sternum, temporary notoriety as a sixth grader returned from the dead, and the realization that fictionalized accounts are way more interesting than just slipping on the ice.
An unhealthy obsession with conspiracy theories combined with a love of travel and happily ever afters led Kim to write her YA novel, Starr Fall, where a secret organization decides 17-year-old Starr Bishop is not only the model student, but the ideal assassin. While in hiding, Starr meets dark, moody, and dead sexy Christian Evergood. Cue the swoon worthy music. But it’s not all happily ever afters for Kim. Her NA novel, And Then He, explores the dark and scary corners of the human psyche. Following a night of innocent flirting with a handsome stranger, Tiffani finds herself in the midst of a nightmare she can’t escape. And Then He is available through Amazon and other major book retailers. Starr Fall released November 2016 with Inkspell Publishing, followed by Starr Lost in January 2017 and Starr Gone in June 2017. Her novella, Avalanche is part of the Valentine Kisses Anthology and released February 14, 2017.
When she’s not doing something writerly, Kim can be found jumping into snowdrifts with her three kids, husband, and dog. She’s careful to avoid trees.
Visit her website and sign up for updates: http://www.KimBriggsWrite.com.
Please like her Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/KimBriggsWrite/.
Chat with her on Twitter: @KimBriggsWrite.
She shares writing love with her INK Sister Alison Green Myers at INK Sisters Write: http://INKSistersWrite.Blogspot.com.
Social media links:

In partnership with
Book Unleashed


It's party time!!! Celebrate good times!!

Sharing the writing love one letter at a time,
Kim

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Dear Kim (and friends!),

I was shocked... I mean really, truly SHOCKED to find that neither one of us wrote a book review for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. This was one of my favorite books from 2015, yours too! I made mention of the book in another review, but did not give Simon, his Oreos, or his humor any of the LOVE they deserved.

Thank you, tinyobsessions for the image!

Well, I won’t make the same mistake with Becky Albertalli’s second book, The Upside of Unrequited.  



In June of 2016 the cover reveal for her second book hit the #Twittersphere, along with the blurb: “Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love- she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.”

After reading the blurb, I had three pretty lofty expectations for this book:

1.)  I could trust Albertalli using "Fat girls" and "crush" in the same book positively.
2.)  We would see unrequited love in the flesh, because in YA fiction that would feel amazing!
3.)  I would love Albertalli's writing as I had in Simon.

These were the expectations. But could the book deliver? I received the book last week and devoured it. There were so many scenes that I loved. So many bits of Molly’s thoughts that were perfection. 

1.)   I could trust Albertalli using "Fat girls" and "crush" in the same book positively.

"There's a reason I've had twenty-six crushes and no boyfriends. I don't entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It's almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does."

I completely connected with the main character Molly. In her mind everyone is on a fast track in the romance department and for some reason she is left behind. (She connects this at first to her body, more on that later.) Molly is Etsy, Pinterest, and wedding blog obsessed. She’s incredibly observant, which is totally characteristic for someone who thinks she needs to “catch up” with her friends.

I love Molly’s voice. The way that she examines her insecurities feels very real. I love that food is viewed positively in the book. (Aside from her grandmother’s comments. And, with that, well done, Becky! Oh the feelings you gave with eating the cookie dough next to grandma. Blech! So real!) I love that clothing was also seen positively—Molly’s 4th of July outfit and the dress for the wedding. (MODCLOTH and TORRID take note.) 

The female ensemble that Becky Albertalli assembled is fabulous. They're funny, loving, and happy, but they are also upsetting and downright unlikable at times. 



2.)  We would see unrequited love in the flesh, because in YA fiction that would feel amazing!

UNREQUITED

When I saw that word in the title I went bananas, because hello, don’t we always see HAPPILY EVER AFTER, not UNREQUITED? I thought, if anyone can do UNREQUITED justice, it is Albertalli. 

UNREQUITED was my middle name for all of my teen years and most of my twenties. Molly has twenty-six crushes by age 17. That number should be higher, right? My first crush came at eight. Snow White would never reciprocate my love for her, it was completely one-sided. Unanswered. Unreturned. Unrequited. And that was just the first of many. 



I wanted more of Molly’s unrequited stories. We heard about some of the 26 crushes, even giggled over the clever names she gave them, and followed her jump-to-conclusion moments of “unrequited” for each crush. By the time we met Will and Reid, we were desperate for Molly to find love.

Will there be another book where we find out what happens to Mina and Cassie? Molly and the boy? Olivia???? All of these relationships to ponder. 

Talk about UNREQUITED.




3.)  I would love Albertalli's writing as I had in Simon.

Albertalli knows how to write a character that is smart, funny, and insecure. She takes an ordinary cast of characters and gives them dimension. She makes us want to follow them around. Explore their town. Watch them fail and then hopefully succeed. She did this for Simon. Did she do this for Molly? Hell, yes.

In both books, Albertalli gives us main characters to care about. She gives us rich families and friendships in both books as well. The moms in Upside of Unrequited were genuine. I loved the driving scene with Nadine and Molly:

“It’s weird, right? Cassie having a girlfriend.”
“She’s not technically her girlfriend.”
Nadine grins. “I give it a week.”
That makes me laugh, but there’s also this sad sort of tug in my chest.
“Yeah, it’s weird,” I say.
“I know. Oh man, Momo. This is a tough one.” She nods, still looking at the road. “You know, growing up, my brother was such a dickwad, but your aunt Karen and I were really close. And I remember this. I remember when she got a boyfriend, and she just fell off the grid. It sucked.”
“Yeah.”
“And no one warns you about this. No one tells you how hard it is, because, yay, love! And we’re so happy for them! But there’s this sharp edge to it, right? Because yeah, you’re happy for them. But you’ve also lost them.”
My heart twists. I can’t speak.
“But Mo, they come back to us. You know? You roll with it. It’s weird for a while. But they come back. You’ll get her back.”
I tuck my knees up and stare out the window. We’re almost at Dupont, heading downtown. And there are so many people out. There’s this palpable energy in the air. It’s the kind of night where strangers start hugging and everyone’s drunk and loud and happy just to be in the middle of all of this. I bet people will remember today, even when they’re old. I bet I will, too.
“Pretty wild,” Nadine says.
“Yeah.” I nod. And suddenly, I feel like crying, but not in a bad way. More like in the way you feel when someone gives you a perfect present—something you’d been wanting, but thought you couldn’t ask for. It’s that feeling of someone knowing you in all the ways you needed to be known.

All three expectations met. ✓✓✓
Becky Albertalli is quickly becoming a favorite voice in this genre. 
I eagerly await her next book.

Much love,
Alison