Thursday, May 28, 2015

Driving, Dining, and Divas

Hey there ~

I thought I'd write a post about something other than writing tips. {{I do give some writing tips for a collective YA author blog I'm on, Uncommon YA (which by the way has 25 amaaaazing YA authors who are superb, funny, brilliant, and write cool books, so please check us out on Twitter and the blog itself sometime: Uncommon YA)}

Now back to today's topics. I love writing and chatting about myself, but yanno, no one wants to chat with an empty chair so writing blog posts for no one seems silly, which is why I usually refrain from doing so on my own blog page.

BUT.....here's the thing:  I don't know whether there's an invisible someone in that chair reading my posts, making an invisible connection with me somewhere out there in the world. If so, hello invisible person! *waves

So I thought I'd start showing my normal, everyday side to any readers who might stumble over here. (Okay, quiet those who know me and are objecting to my use of the word "normal" to describe me). In any case, I thought I'd start writing weekly posts about nothing. (Kind of like Seinfeld).

Today's topic: Driving, Dining, and Divas

DRIVING

I love driving fast (ish). Like around 10 miles over the limit usually....except for when I'm approaching one of the secret "police hiding spots" which, since they're there most Thursday mornings and afternoons on the end of my block, isn't much of a secret.  I call myself an assertive driver and rarely text and drive unless I'm at a stoplight.

I love driving convertibles. Although I'm in the Chicago area, we still have approximately six months of top-down weather. To me, it feels like a luxury, quality of life thing. Here's Black Betty, my new VW Bug convertible. Isn't she cute?




DINING

I love to eat out, but more importantly, I love to socialize. If only I had been born to be one of those people who can eat whatever they want and never gain weight. My favorite dining out items are usually finger foods like nachos, sushi, and flatbreads (I'll often order apps for my dinner), but I'm trying to order more salads. (I have a hard time saying no if I haven't made up my mind before walking in and I see something amazing like pot roast nachos.) Yum...I love pot roast. Too bad not too many places serve it. (Invisible restaurant owners who are reading this, take note.)

Tonight's spot? Pinstripes in Northbrook - Fab outdoor dining place.


DIVAS

I'm not one, don't know many, but I love watching them on TV. Reality TV rules my world. I say it's for help developing my fictional worlds (like research - that's what I tell my husband), but we all know it's fun to drink wine with one of my daughters or neighborhood friends and watch Real Housewives of Anywhere squabble over petty stuff, splash wine in the other woman's face, and/or talk badly about her behind her back (but to the whole world). Priceless.


So that's it for today. Go ahead and exit the chair now. Hope you come back next time. (I'll try to get a comfier cushion). Remember:  don't drive too slowly if you're in my hood. Ain't nobody got time for leisurely Sunday drives except dogs in car with their heads poking out the window.

Until next time....

xoxo, KYM



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Is it the Author's Job to Create Positive Role Models in YA novels?

I was recently talking with some writer friends and this question came up: 
Is it more important for YA authors to potray realistic characters (that may have a dark side)  or to create positive role models?


Good question. 

There have been some readers who weren't thrilled with the depiction of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in my YA novel, WANTED; DEAD OR IN LOVE, as being humans with wants and desires all their own. After all, Bonnie & Clyde were hardened criminals from the 1930’s who were in love and committed crime after crime. In my novel, they come back to life within the bodies of two teens, and um, they’re not necessarily typecast as “the bad guys.” 

No doubt about it, Bonnie and Clyde did a lot of horrific things in their day and were eventually gunned down for it by a posse of tough crime fighters called The Texas Rangers. I’m not making excuses for Bonnie and Clyde––it was good they were stopped. Gun downed by a posse of sharp shooters? Not sure about that one. Especially when you factor in the time frame when they lived (The Depression), where they lived (the poorest slum in Texas), and their age when they started to commit their crimes (16 for Clyde, 19 for Bonnie).




I think what I tried to show is that most of us––Bonnie and Clyde included––are not solidly “all good” or “all bad.” Many of us make decisions that seem like a good idea at the time that later turn out to be not-so-great. My main character, a teen girl named Monroe, has always lived by the motto, “You Only Live Once,” but when she faces the counterpart to that, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” she starts to reconsider.



If she could do it all over again, she might say, “Yes, you are in charge of your own destiny. Just make sure it’s the destiny you really want.”



Actual footage taken from Bonnie & Clyde’s death scene in 1934.



 

So the long and the short of it is...while positive role models are wonderful, I need to trust that teens can "see behind the curtain" and realize that fiction serves many purposes: some to tell the truth, some to make you see the direction you don't want to venture. I did not try to glorify Bonnie and Clyde as heroes, but as teens who made choices that ultimately resulted in their deaths. Definitely NOT something anyone would strive for and I know teens reading my book can figure that out all on their own.

'Til next time, stay safe!

KYM
 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A BONNIE & CLYDE VALENTINE - Signed Giveaway - WANTED: DEAD OR IN LOVE


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Wanted by Kym Brunner

Wanted

by Kym Brunner

Giveaway ends February 14, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, January 22, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: KATIE SPARKS (author of Reality Natalie)

Hello readers: I'm so excited to bring you my interview of Katie Sparks––a wonderful middle-grade author who also happens to be my friend and amazing critique partner! I had the pleasure of reading this book in all stages––from inception to publication. It's soooo super cute, funny, and authentic - just like the author herself!

Where did you get the idea for Reality Natalie?


About 5 or 6 years ago, I was completely enthralled with all of the reality shows that were popping up on TV. They ranged from singing competitions and talent shows to cooking or bake offs and clothing designer contests. The list became endless. But one thing I noticed was that none of them were for little kids. At the time, I believe the youngest person who could audition for American Idol, had to be 16. However, I knew that despite these rules, some of those watching these shows were kids!  From that realization, I thought about a girl who was obsessed with reality television.
 

Thus, Reality Natalie was born!
 

Describe how you created characters that speak and act so authentically.


I combed through my story several times and tried to find areas where I explained something in my voice instead of how an 11-year-old might see it, and tweaked them. For example, every time Natalie notices her parents look at each other in thought, she wonders if it’s some sort mind-reading skill you get when you are get married. 



People always say that kids say the darndest things and it’s true! The hardest part is getting yourself to remember what it was like at that age and to see the world through their eyes. Finding your character’s voice and keeping it consistent throughout helps make your story stronger and more authentic sounding.


What type of revisions did you make after FIREDRAKE acquired it? Were there any you didn't agree with?

My publisher and I went through several rounds of edits looking for various things at each time. The first time around we looked for the global, large-scale edits like red herrings, loose ends or plot points that didn’t work or make sense. Natalie has a blog that she enjoys so I had to make sure the timing for each of her posts were correct and made sense.



At one point in the revision stage, we had a conversation whether or not one of my characters was being too hard or too soft on another. My publisher and I talked it over and I decided to revise it based on some of our talking points. What came out of that is a stronger, well-rounded scene that satisfied both my publisher and myself, and rang true for the characters.


What advice do you have for other middle-grade authors seeking publication?


My advice pertains more to the writing than the act of trying to get published. Middle grade is a tough audience to write for. Your characters are out of the “baby stage” but not quite a young adult. Their main focus is typically their friends and family and the surrounding world around them. It’s also very important to keep in mind the middle grade voice.

What are you working on now?

I always have several projects up my sleeve. It helps me to bounce and back forth between them so I don’t get too stuck on one. Plus, it helps drum up ideas. For me, and I’m sure for many writers, taking a break from one WIP for a bit and then coming back to it later with fresh eyes can really help. Right now, I’m working on a couple new middle grade novels, one possibly with series potential. They are very different concepts; one is serious and the other is more fairy-tale related. I also am trying my hand at a few different picture book ideas. It’s always been a big goal of mine to publish a picture book! 


QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS:

Source
What do you love most about being published? This might sound cheesy, but I really like seeing my name on a published book. There are a million other exciting things about being published but since I was a little girl I’ve already wanted to experience that moment where I held a book in my hands and this time, my name was it.

Who was your favorite character and why?  I relate a lot to Natalie since I share many of her qualities, but I grew to love Robbie Lovelton, a secondary character in the book. He isn’t quite a class-clown, but nonetheless, is a boy in Natalie’s class that enjoys getting on her nerves. Despite his quirks, he is endearing and even funny at times.  I’ve even begun thinking of writing a story from his perspective, but that’s just a thought right now!

Where and when do you write?  I don’t have a specific time that I write, but I have found that middle of the day works well for me. I also try to carve out time after work at a coffee shop to write. It forces me to focus and there are fewer distractions than home. Otherwise, I enjoy getting up early on the weekend, making coffee and writing before the craziness of the day begins.


Do you have a muse, music, or certain drink you must have while writing? Coffee, coffee, coffee! I wish could listen to music but that ends up being a distraction for me. I’ll start singing the words and totally lose my train of thought!

Katie Sparks and her cat, Moe
Dogs or cats? Why? I love dogs, but I’m going to have to go with cats. I have a very vocal cat, Moe, at home who actually acts more like a dog. She’s crazy, but I love her!

Favorite recent MG books (besides yours of course!) from past three years: I really enjoy reading the books listed on the Rebecca Caudill list each other. I don’t get to all of them but I try! Some that have really stuck out for me recently include Every Soul a Star, Mockingbird and Out of My Mind.


Favorite MG of all time: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babitt (turned 40 this year!). I read this book when I was younger and just fell in the love with the characters and the story.  Who wouldn’t want to be immortal? 



CHECK OUT KATIE'S WEBSITE HERE!




Thursday, January 1, 2015

"MY GRANDMA IS ONE SMART COOKIE" CONTEST ENTRIES!

Here are the finalists - Who should win? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook - thanks!

ENTRY # 1


ENTRY #2


Entry #3


My grandma is a one smart cookie because she is funny and wise. She helps out on holidays and helps even if no one even asks. Therefore I think my grandma is a one smart cookie.              




WIN A KLU COLOR TABLET!
by entering the

MY GRANDMA IS “ONE SMART COOKIE” CONTEST!
              1 Lonely Teen Girl
      +  1 Deal with the Polish Spirit of Love
                  (courtesy of her one smart, spirit-conjuring grandmother, of course)
              2 Tasty Boys (and a whole batch of deception)

16-year-old Sophie Dumbrowski’s grandma is one smart cookie. How about yours?

Is your grandmother (alive or deceased) one smart cookie? Does she do amazing things for her community, your family, or her health?  Does she go out of her way to make your life better? Does she bake the best cookies in the world? Then tell the world about it!

To enter, all you need to do is submit a picture of your grandmother (alone, with you or your family, in actionwhatever works!) and write a one to three sentence caption telling why she’s so smart / wonderful / generous/ (fill in the blank). Winners will be judged on the overall quality of the writing (conventions /word choice), the ability to make a connection to the reader, and having a clear photo that focuses on your grandmother. ENTRANTS AGES 13-21 WELCOME!

Captions should begin with “My grandma (NAME) is one smart cookie because…”

Send your picture and entry electronically to: kymbrunner@comcast.net with the subject: ONE SMART COOKIE CONTEST or enter online at http://kymbrunner.com

Must be received by January 15th – Winner announced January 30th
All entries will be posted at http://www.kymbrunner.com
WIN A COLOR  KLU TABLET* AND
YOU’LL BE ONE SMART COOKIE, TOO!
*donated / no warranty / comes with charger

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Key to Kickass Dialogue

Dialogue Secrets


Source
  
Quick! After a person’s appearance, what’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone? If you’re like most of us, it’s what comes out of their mouths. First impressions and all that. But when you read, you can’t see the characters, so your first impressions are made based on what the characters say, not how they look.

Simple concept, right? Not so simple to deliver.

SO…HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR CHARACTER MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION?

Give them something to say that is:

·      Believable
·      Fits their personality
·      Consistent, yet unexpected
·      Short and natural

        1)   Believable Dialogue


How do you know if it’s believable or not? Put on your walking shoes and get out your notebook! Head to the spot where the prototype of your character would go. Need to write teens talking together at lunch? Go to a fast-food restaurant near a high school. Want to know what couples say when they’re on a date? Head to a movie theater early and go see latest romantic comedy. You get the idea.

***HINT:  LISTEN AND TAKE GOOD NOTES. I promise you’ll forget the words and how they said them if you don’t.

       2)   Dialogue that fits the character’s personality


There’s a famous writing cliché that says a reader should be able to read a line of dialogue and know who the character is without the identifying dialogue tag.

The key is being the character when you write his or her lines. Imagine YOU are the sensitive butcher who is very observant––seriously! Picture yourself looking out of the eyes of the butcher with your hands on a raw steak and then write his or her lines. A great way for authenticity is to actually observe a butcher talking to his or her customers. Conduct a quick interview if you can, asking his top three concerns about his job. You might be surprised to learn what those things are…and so might your reader.

****HINT: SWITCH INTO THE MINDS of all of your characters (even the minor ones) as you write to create words that only THEY would say.

Source

       3)   Consistent, yet unexpected? Huh?


Your job is to make sure your characters are real, that they speak the truth (or not, depending on who they are). In real life, characters might keep their thoughts to themselves. Not so in fiction. Characters that are pushed to the brink must speak out––to a best friend, to the cabbie, to the offending party, to the police.

Yes, we want dialogue to be authentic, but it IS a story and it does need to intrigue your readers. So let them speak their mind and propel the story ahead by providing interesting thoughts for your readers to mull over.

***HINT:  TO KEEP PACING ON TRACK, use frequent dialogue to break up paragraphs of exposition.


       4)   Short and Natural


Cut to the chase. No one likes listening to boring blow-hards, so don’t let your characters be one of those people. Remember tuning out a boring teacher? That’s what didactic dialogue and info dumps feel like to your readers. Only include information that’s absolutely necessary for the story’s sake and skip the rest. You need to know the backstory, but keep it to yourself if it isn't essential to the plot.

***HINT:  READ ALL DIALOGUE OUT LOUD. Change voices to the way you imagine the characters interacting and it’ll feel more “real.” If you’re bored with the conversation, so is your reader. If it doesn’t sound the way a person really talks, cut it or revise it. Listen to real people and you’ll notice most of us talk in short sentences with breaks for others to add commentary.


So there you have it. Write dialogue that’s believable, fits the characters, necessary, and natural and your readers will come back for more!

*****
Hopefully you’ll find authentic dialogue galore in WANTED:  DEAD OR IN LOVE, which features two alternating POVs––one from Monroe (a modern-day teen who becomes possessed internally by the infamous Bonnie Parker), and the other from Clyde Barrow himself (who works hard to take over the body of Jack Hale, a teen male).

And if cultural humor is more your style, you’ll get a helping of Polish spirits along with a bounty of teen angst in ONE SMART COOKIE, a Polish teen who seeks the help of her spirit-conjuring grandmother to find the perfect boyfriend.

Kym Brunner


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Bio:

Kym Brunner's method of creating a manuscript: write, procrastinate, sleep, repeat. She's addicted to Tazo chai tea, going to the movies, and reality TV. When she's not reading or writing, Kym teaches 7th grade full time. She lives in Arlington Heights with her family and two trusty writing companions, a pair of Shih Tzus named Sophie and Kahlua. She's repped by Eric Myers of The Spieler Agency.



 

 













 



Wanted: Dead or In Love Book Trailer:






Saturday, November 15, 2014

Magical Night at Anderson's Bookshop


Have you ever had one of those surreal moments when something BIG is happening and you can feel it in every nerve of your body and you want that feeling to last forever?

Well, that happened to me yesterday when I crossed a line through an item on my bucket list:  appearing at Anderson's Bookshop as an author.  I felt amazingly lucky to be on a panel with some of the friendliest, coolest, nicest, smartest YA authors around. How had we never met before?

Here are the brilliant authors of some super super cool books (all with an original dark element including:  OCD, cults, swamps, body sharing with dead outlaws):


LEFT TO RIGHT: Lindsay Currie (co-author of CREED), Natalie Parker (BEWARE THE WILD), Rachel Wilson (DON'T TOUCH), Me (WANTED: DEAD OR IN LOVE) and the other co-author of CREED, Trisha Leaver.



Here, expert storyteller Natalie is beguiling the crowd with her tale about going to GATOR RANCH in the deep, deep, deep South. Ask her to tell you about it sometime!

Some of our fabulous attendees! Thanks so much for coming out!









Some other fun tidbits: Shared dinner and sweet treats beforehand with the panel at Jimmy's. Delicious food and nonstop conversation that made my author heart happy. Thrilled to see my book on the shelf. Wahoo!







But the BEST PART OF THE WHOLE NIGHT was meeting Nathalie, Stephany, and her father who had driven over an hour to meet me and buy my book. You girls are both awesome and Nathalie, your enthusiasm for writing blew me away. I know I'll be seeing your name on a book cover one day in the future! Thanks for coming out!!
The adorably cute and effervescent Nathalie (left) and her artistic sister, Stephany!