Kym in yard

Feeling Dead Inside? Bwaahahahaha....

In my YA novel, Wanted: Dead or in Love coming from Merit Press in July, 2014, my main character Monroe Baker has the ghost of the legendary Bonnie Parker inhabiting her body, fighting her for control. This is problematic because whomever inhabits the bodies at the deadline . . .survives.

In Monroe's own words:

Being impulsive, I act first, think later. I don’t recommend it. Now I’m on probation for something stupid I did at school. If I get arrested again, the judge will give me jail time. To keep out of trouble, I work as a waitress at my dad’s Roaring '20s restaurant, dressed like a flapper. Didn’t take long for me to screw up again. Here’s what happened: Dad showed me the spent bullets that they pulled out of famous criminal lovebirds, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s dead bodies––items he bought at a gangster memorabilia show. Who would have known that Bonnie and Clyde’s spirits were locked inside that container, waiting to be freed? Not me certainly, or I wouldn’t have done it. Opening the container wasn’t enough to make Bonnie’s spirit search for a new body to inhabit, but given my lousy luck, I cut my finger on the stupid thing, opening the door for the whiny, love-starved Bonnie Parker to enter my body.

Course, at first I didn’t really believe that she was inside of me (who would, right?) so later that night, after I met this cute but dull guy named Jack, I showed him the slugs. Bad move. Turns out Clyde hadn’t lost an ounce of his slyness, easily infecting poor Jack and quickly committing a crime. Luckily, Jack finds a way to get back in charge, but after doing some investigation, we find out we have only 36 hours to ditch these outlaws or we’ll share our bodies with them indefinitely. See what I mean about bad luck?

Take it from me––spontaneity’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.

Monroe Baker/Bonnie Parker (aka Kym Brunner) :)
Kym in yard

Landing an Agent: 5 Authors Share Their Story (MY VERY FIRST AUTHOR PANEL..SQUEE!)

I cannot tell you how SUPER EXCITED I am have been asked to share what little I know my wealth of knowledge on this topic!! Seriously though, I've had three wonderful agents for various lengths of time (one of them still claims me as his client - thank you, Eric Myers!) and I'd be happy to share what worked (and what didn't work) for me. If you're in the Chicago area on September 21st, come join the Chicago SCBWI network for a writerly good time. :)

Chicago SCBWI Presents:  Landing an Agent: 5 Authors Share Their Story

September 21, 2013, Saturday 10 AM - 12 noon

Location is right off LSD, 920 W. Wilson, Chicago, IL 60640

Plenty of great street parking

There are many twists and turns in the rollercoaster ride to finding an
agent. Come on out Saturday morning to hear 5 great Chicago authors with
new or upcoming books talk about how they landed their agent and tips on
helping you find yours.

There will be time for networking and for Q & A. Come prepared to be
inspired and kick off the summer doldrums!

*Michele Weber Hurwitz’s debut middle grade novel, CALLI BE GOLD (Wendy
Lamb Books/Random House 2011), was named a Best Book of 2012 by the Bank
Street College of Education. Her second novel, THE SUMMER I SAVED THE
WORLD. . . IN 65 DAYS, will be published in April of 2014 by Wendy Lamb
Books. Michele is with Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media.

*Carol Brendler is the author of RADIO GIRL, a historical novel for
upper-MG; WINNIE FINN, WORM FARMER (FSG, 2009), a picture book illustrated
by Ard Hoyt; and there's another picture book on the way from FSG called
NOT VERY SCARY, (Summer 2014). Carol works with Ammi-Joan Pacquette of the
Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Carol’s website is

*Allan Woodrow is the writer behind the middle grade books THE PET WAR
(HarperCollins), and under the alias Fowler DeWitt, THE CONTAGIOUS COLORS
OF MUMPLEY MIDDLE SCHOOL (Simon & Schuster, Fall 2013) and its upcoming
sequel, the AMAZING WILMER DOOLEY (2014). His agent is Joanna Volpe of New
Leaf Literary & Media. Visit him at


*Kym Brunner is the author of the debut YA novel WANTED: DEAD OR IN LOVE
from Merit Press (July, 2014). She's repped by Eric Myers of the Spieler
Agency. Be sure and visit Kym’s website for more info: LOOKIE - IT'S ME!!!

*Sarah Aronson is the author of three books for kids and teens: HEAD CASE,
BEYOND LUCKY, and her newest novel, BELIEVE (Sept 1 2013, Carolrhoda
Books). She is represented by Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary Agency.
out more at her website:

Books will be for sale!

We will cap this event at 40, so please RSVP to reserve a spot at this
popular event.

WHEN: September 21, 2013, Saturday 10 AM - 12 noon

WHERE: 920 W. Wilson, Chicago, IL 60640 (Garden Room)

PARKING: plenty of street parking, pay at box, also available for a minimal
charge Weiss Hospital parking garage


Kym in yard

HOLD TIGHT has finally arrived!

I'M SO COMPLETELY EXCITED to share that my critique buddy and great friend Cherie Colyer's book baby was born yesterday!!! HOLD TIGHT (Big sister to EMBRACE). Congratulations on her new bundle of joy. I CANNOT wait to hold this beautiful bouncing book in my hands!!! Here's the scoop on the wee one:

What's one little spell?
When you’re new to magic, one spell can be the difference between getting what you want...and ruining the lives of everyone you love.
Sixteen-year-old Madison has just embraced her magical powers. The trick now is learning how to control them. She and her boyfriend -and fellow witch- can’t even enjoy a simple kiss without getting shocked when their powers collide. Instead of mastering her new skills, though, Madison is stuck watching her kid brother and doing chores.
But being a witch does have its benefits. With a simple spell, Madison instantly conjures the help she needs around the house. Or so she thinks. Her idea of “help” invites trouble of its own as a pair of dangerous yet enticing beings enter her life. When a classmate disappears soon afterwards, Madison discovers she's the next victim of a threat she's powerless to resist...and there’s nothing it won’t kill to make her surrender. Caught in the crossfire between two dashing but deadly creatures, Madison must figure out which one to trust and how to rid her world of the other—before one of them destroys her and everyone she cares about.

Get HOLD TIGHT today!
Congratulations, Cherie! I can't wait to read this sequel to Embrace, which I loved! (And not just because you're my friend!) Embrace was a super interesting read and I know Hold Tight will be too. After all, I had a few sneak peeks. Serious book love here.

Kym in yard

Talking About the Tough Stuff – Controversial Content in my Book

When someone says the word “controversial,” my ears perk up. I rub my hands together and lean in so I don’t miss a word. I’ve never been a strict “rules follower” kind of person, which has gotten me into a fair bit of trouble over the years, so let’s just say I enjoy hearing stories about others like me. Even as an adult, I hate following rules that don’t make sense––rules that someone deemed necessary but aren’t really. For example, recently I was in a public bathroom and I saw the note, “Only one towel per person” taped to the hand towel dispenser. I was like, “Seriously? You’re going to dictate that?” (So of course I took two. All right, three. But they’re lucky I didn’t take like 50 of them, just for spite.)

So when you ask what’s controversial about my novel, “Wanted:  Dead or In Love,” my immediate answer is EVERYTHING. Starting with the main character, Monroe. She swears a lot, has been arrested three times in the past year, she makes snap decisions, and inadvertently starts falling for a guy who would make any parent scream, “He’s no good for you!” But my response is, “Hey, busybody. Monroe represents real girls who are confused about who to love and who make decisions without consulting their parents first.” And who’s to say Monroe’s decisions are wrong­­? They’re just different than ones her parents would make. (Okay, some decisions of hers might be wrong, but she’s under a lot of pressure.)
I expect there will be some (maybe even a lot) of readers who will get all “Barney Fife” over my book, bustling about in overblown indignation. After all, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, downright nasty criminals from the 1930’s who were in love, come back to life––and 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––they deserved to have been stopped. 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. 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.”
            That’s the thing with Monroe––sometimes she’s in too far to heed her own advice.
Kym in yard

Want 4 Minutes of (Literary) Fame? Of Course You Do!

You've heard of a stand-up comic before, but a stand-up author?

Let me explain....

I decided I was tired of letting comedians have all the fun. I wanted my 4 minutes of (literary) fame WITHOUT having to wait for the Micheal L. Printz award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature Committee to notice me (cough, cough). So I chatted with a couple of my besties, Cherie Colyer and Katie Sparks, and we came up with a plan.


1) We picked a cool pub that'll let us have a private backroom. (Kidlit + alcohol = Happy Crowd)
2) You sign up in advance to obtain your very own “4 Minutes of Fame”
in one of the following ways:

  • reading pages from your book

  • sharing your book trailer

  • showing illustrations you've drawn

  • revealing your book cover

  • some other creative expression of your children’s lit book.

3) Invite your friends, family, and fellow authors to join us for some good old-fashioned book gossip and…
4) Viola! You've gotten your 4 Minutes of Literary Fame, made some new connections, and received some free exposure for you and/or your books!

(NOTE: The Green Brothers will NOT be attending this event...although they are welcome to participate. John? Hank?)

WHO:   Any traditionally published, self-published, or want-to-be-published author/poet

WHAT:  A good time (Seriously, that’s all this is – FUN!)

REGISTER IN ADVANCE to be one of the stand-up authors. SIGN UP HERE.  We’re limiting this first stand-up literary event to the first 15 authors who sign up – but we are planning more of these events to come in the future! If you're not sure you're ready to present THIS time, come on out and cheer on your fellow authors!

WHEN: MONDAY, OCTOBER 21ST at 7:00 PM (til approx. 9:00, but you can stay as late as you like….)

WHERE: TOKIO PUB ( 1900 W. Higgins, Schaumburg, IL

COST:  FREE (although we hope you buy a cocktail or three to thank Tokio Pub for allowing us heathens in…)

Hosted by: Kym Brunner at // Cherie Colyer at // Katie Sparks at

*We will have a table set up for the stand-up authors to display bookmarks or other giveaways, but so that others can attend without feeling pressured to buy, we ask that you do not bring your books to sell. HOWEVER, we will be giving all attendees a list of the stand up authors' names, book titles, and/or website addresses so they may contact you after the event. Thanks! :)

Now all we need is….YOU!

Hope to see you there!

'Til next time,
Kym in yard

Editorial Notes: Nice try, Brunner. Can't Slip THAT Past Me...

I sold my book, Wanted:  Dead or In Love to Merit Press Books back in April. WOO-HOO! I received the first pass editorial letter in July. WOO-huh? Not so fast, sister.

My first round editorial letter arrived about 9 weeks after my agent sold the book. My editor, Jacquelyn Mitchard (I know! She's famous and fabulous!), gave me lots of lovely compliments to start off the letter. Things like: "It's exciting...and it's dark and it's just almost feasible in a magical realism way." AND..."When she talks in her head to the outlaws, it's bewitching."

Words to warm my heart. I beamed, my eyelashes fluttered with pride, I couldn't stop smiling....

....Until I read the rest of the letter. Yeah, not so heartwarming. Fix this, make that clearer, eliminate the info get the idea.

The thing is, after I was done (took me a little over two weeks working on it non-stop), I felt better. The things she spotted did need pruning and now my manuscript reads better, feels more authentic, and doesn't have a large SPLAT! of information somewhere in the center (something that my intelligent readers would NOT have needed anyway!).

In other words, she cleaned out my novel's attic and got rid of my junk––the feeble bits of unneeded garbage I'd shoved into the manuscript and had hoped no one would notice was there. Luckily, Jackie noticed and demanded (I imagine her pointing to the recycle bin with one hand, while pinching her nose closed with the other) that I get rid of the old useless junk I'd been holding onto. So I hoisted the dull, dusty verbiage over my shoulder and dumped it in my laptop trash bin. (Crinkle, the sound of emptying the trash).

Now that the attic has been cleaned, I sit and wait for round two, wondering what she'll find in my closet. Eeek...

'Til next time,
Kym in yard

Squeaky Wheel or Silent Partner? Author-Agent and Author-Editor relationships

If you're anything like me, whenever there's a "situation" in life, I'm always evaluating whether I should say something to the person or if I should just stay quiet.


  • You overhear daughter's boyfriend say something rude to her - ignore or comment privately to daughter?

  • Someone you don't know well has lipstick on her teeth - say something or feign oblivion?

  • Acquaintance says something against your beliefs - engage in discussion or let it slide?

In each situation, I need to evaluate what the outcome will be. I used to always come right out and speak my mind, but I've found that my opinion's not always welcome and/or I need to mind my own business. Believe me, it's not always easy to stop myself, but since I really dislike when certain individuals think they're the authority on every topic, I try to tread lightly when giving advice. (I can see my daughters rolling their eyes now, but offspring are in a different category, right?) :) But seriously, I've tried to adopt more of a listen and discuss then a "I'm telling you..." type of attitude. It seems to work for me.

When it comes to author-agent and author-editor relationships, I've found the same is true. I wrestle with my questions for a bit, check with my close writing buddies to get their opinions, and if we're all still in a quandary, THEN I shoot off an email and ask. Don't misunderstand me - I  will definitely get clarification on what was asked of me if I'm unsure - but I refrain from abusing the privilege. I'm succinct, polite, and direct - ask what I need to, thank them for their time, and move on. Because of this, I seem to get responses very quickly. Could be my wonderful agent's style (thank you, Eric Myers of the Spieler Agency!) and my talented editor's business acumen (Hello, Jacquelyn Mitchard of Merit Press), but I like to think it's also because I don't bother them too much.

Yes, I know authors who say "they're working for YOU," but in reality, it's a partnership. And just like every other relationship in my life, I try to follow the golden rule: Treat others the way you'd like to be treated. I don't want a slew of extraordinarily long emails filled with rambling questions, and I'm pretty sure they don't either. I'm happy to answer questions or clarify information, but I believe in the "less is more" philosophy.

How about you? Do you send off a quick email whenever you have a question, or do you wrestle with it for a bit first?

'Til next time,
Kym in yard

Grab a torch. Authors...UNITE!

You know how, the minute you sign that book contract, your editor says, "Now get out there and promote your book!" That OHMIGOD elation of signing the contract, the feeling you get knowing that the book you wrote is going to be out in the world someday soon, is somewhat deflated by the feeling that you're not quite sure how, when, and where to get the word out.

Will people think I'm conceited? A braggart? A traveling salesman? Eeek! No one wants that.

But the truth is, there are a LOT (did I say a lot, I mean gadzillions) of books out there screaming for you to read them. So how does a person get their one book to stand out among the others, hoping that they think it sounds like a book they want to read? You need a dash of research, a healthy dose of prayers and hope, and a deluge of some good, old-fashioned luck.

And I found that luck, hidden in the team of authors that also sold their books to the F & W Media imprint called Merit Press.

The 13 of us––there will be more as the imprint grows––spearheaded by author Beth Feldbaum's tremendous efforts, have created a YA of Merit blog, newsletter, Facebook, and Twitter to get the word out. I was delighted to find instant camaraderie and fellowship of other authors, much like myself, who want readers to find and connect with our books.

So come on over and test the Merit Press waters. Here's what the publisher had to say about this new imprint and our editor-in-chief, Jacquelyn Mitchard:

“The mission of the line is to provide an abundance of intensely readable, highly suspenseful and unforgettable fiction for readers aged thirteen and up, with a particular emphasis on strong, savvy, female heroes rising to conquer sometimes stunning challenges thrown at them by a very real contemporary world,” said Karen Cooper, Publisher. “We knew we needed expert guidance for the creation and growth of the line. Jacquelyn is the ideal partner for this new initiative, and we are thrilled to work with her.”

So grab a torch and check us out....we have the kind of books perfect for reading in the dark.