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Showing posts from March, 2016

How do you research your fiction?

Dear Kim, Thank you for the note about Book Reviews . You are right; they are so important for the health of a book, and a way to support other writers. Today I have a slightly different take on a book review for you. This post wasn't meant to be a book review. I really just wanted to chat with you about research in fiction. But a review of a gripping book just appeared. You'll see. I was at the Foundation last week and a fellow young adult author was sitting with me. We got to talking about our "process" in writing genre fiction. While she said the Internet was the only tool that she used for research, I think she discounted all of the hours she spent drinking in pop culture, eye-binging Dexter, and reading the many fictional worlds that she and I talked over. My research method is much like the above when I'm writing a first draft: internet, pop culture, reading for pleasure; however, when I'm in draft- percolation -mode , I dig for more content to

Book Reviews: Why They're Important and a Review of Ratgirl: The Song of the Viper by Gayle C. Krause

Dear Alison, I do love book recommendations. Sometimes my #TBR pile resembles the leaning tower of Pisa. If I discover that a book towards the bottom of pile is a MUST read such as PAX, I pretend I'm playing Jenga and yank that book out. Normally, I manage to win the teetering game. Other times, I lose and need to re-stack.  This past month, I've been eyeball deep in writing Book Two of the Starr Fall series , Starr Lost . Happily, I submitted Book Two last Friday, and now I'm catching up on all the work I've neglected including my TB-Reviewed pile. My TB-Reviewed pile closely resembles my #TBR pile.  Exhibit 1:  Yep, it ain't pretty. Well, the books are certainly pretty, but the size of the pile is unsightly. You see Alison, as an author, I've come to realize just how important book reviews are. The more reviews a book receives, the more likely search engines, including the all-powerful Amazon, will bring that book to the top of their lists rather t

Book Review: PAX by Sara Pennypacker

Dear Kim, I am happy to hear that you are feeling better (Baby too.) You and I find common ground in our young adult, even adult, book recommendations. I typically leave Donna to send us recommendations about terrific Middle Grade novels. But, boy oh boy, do I have one for you today. WONDER by R.J. Palacio Poster of precepts by one of my lit circle kids. I need to keep up with the best in Middle Grade fiction in order to engage my small literature group of amazing readers that I meet with at our local elementary school. This school year we've already read Kathy Erskine's Mockingbird and R.J. Palacio's Wonder . Currently we are enjoying Kwame Alexander's The Crossover . When we finish Alexander's novel-in-verse, our next pick is PAX . Oh, PAX . I could write a love song about this book. Hey, that's not a bad idea. The kids might enjoy writing a song about the love between Peter and Pax. Peter and Pax were best friends. Peter, age twelve, ne

Finding Time for a St. Patrick's Brain Dump by Kim Briggs

Dear Alison, Last weekend, we lost an hour to Daylight Savings. An hour doesn't seem like that big of a deal. After all, it's only sixty minutes, but that hour doubled the sixty minutes I lost between Friday and Saturday when I decided I needed another hour of sleep. That hour I lost was time I usually spend working on SCBWI emails--and if I'm honest, most weekends I spend two to three hours on SCBWI stuff in addition to being a mom, a wife, and a writer. So I entered into Daylight Savings with an hour already lost. By Sunday morning I was already two hours behind. I tried to make that hour up Sunday night, but by Monday during our critique group meeting, I felt that 3rd lost hour of sleep, and I began to lose more and more time. Alison, the snowball effect is REAL. Bizarre circumstances sprouted each day--Tuesday after track practice (I'm a coach not a runner) I had to wait a half hour for two students to get picked up. Tuesday night, I discovered Girls on the

Lucky: On Finding Writing Mentors

Dear Kim, We had a great time celebrating my father this past weekend. Seventy. My siblings and I all gave him the "John Green" treatment. (My father is John Green, not that  John Green.) My dad believes in the art of public speaking. Given the opportunity he would speak at your birthday, your kid's fifth grade graduation, your best friend's mother's retirement. He likes to speak. Scratch that. He loves to speak publicly. He adores, and masters, the sweet mix of a little humor joined by a bit of nostalgia, blended together with a dash of love. The John Green toasting Garry and I at our wedding. My brother really nailed his tribute to John Green. I was lucky to give my 90% humorous speech before my brother stepped up to bring us all to tears. John Green was proud. I'd have to say for many reasons I am lucky to have John Green as my father. Among the reasons, he was my first writing mentor. As a young journalist my dad kept on deadline and covered al


Dear Alison, You're right. Sometimes all your story needs is a new POV. A change of perspective to really nail the storyline. Do you want to know a secret? Months ago, I wrote a Point of View post--I never published it because well... I'm not sure why, but I'm glad I didn't because it's the perfect post to follow your  POINT OF VIEW and Stories that JUST WON'T DIE  post. In my past life as a high school English teacher, I spent a lot of time on Point of View. I taught my students (and I believe it now more than ever) that Point of View is one of the most important literary devices to consider when writing your story. Think of Point of View as a camera lens. As the writer, you decide what view or perspective of the story you want the reader to experience. The Three Main Points of View (POV) include First person, Second Person, and Third Person. You are the Director. You decide what POV you want for your story. FIRST PERSON Fi

Point of View and Stories that JUST WON'T DIE

Dear Kim, As you know I'm knee deep in a major manuscript overhaul. My characters shot me out of bed last night with a message and I wearily wrote this on the pad next to my bed: Ignore the nice writing at the top-- thoughtful things to add to my To Do list, written at a very reasonable 11pm. The chicken scratches that appear mid-page are the rantings of a 4:13am writer struggling to match the best point of view to a story that just won't die! As you know Headless (working title) started out with too many POV shifts. In the first few drafts, each first person/past tense chapter was followed by a  third person/present tense passage examining my main character's execution day. It was shifty. Oh so shifty. (And turns out, shitty too.) I worked out plot kinks, added another important character. Firmed up Elizabeth's struggle with wanting to love Nick, but knowing what he would/could eventually do to her. And then I promptly put the book away. For years. Three y

Lisa Voisin's The Warrior Prophet Cover Reveal and Giveaway

Dear Alison,  I know I posted yesterday about Rubin Pfeffer and #NY16SCBWI, but I promised my fellow Inkspell-er, Lisa Voisin, I'd reveal her awesome book for  THE WARRIOR PROPHET , the third book in her  The Watcher Saga   and share an excerpt from the book today--which happens to be THE WATCHER 's 3rd Book Birthday! There is also an amazing giveaway included with the reveal for ecopies of THE WATCHER and THE ANGEL KILLER, the first two books in the series, so you can catch up, AND an angel wing key chain! Without further ado... DESCRIPTION Mia Crawford is a prophet. She can see angels. She also sees demons. Everywhere. She knows the angels are preparing for war to get her fallen angel boyfriend, Michael, back. A war that could take years. Haunted by visions of Michael’s soul being tortured, Mia can’t rest until she knows he’s safe. To save him, she must make an impossible journey through Hell. Her only guide is the one person she prayed