TGIFF – Leave Your Feedback for First Friday!


Just a reminder that registration is now open for the 2014 Pocono Retreat.  This year’s faculty is truly fantastic, and we hope you’ll be there too!  Critiques and Portfolio Reviews are still open as well – but secure your spot before they fill up.

It’s a very frigid First Friday in Eastern PA.  A perfect day to pour a steaming mug of something yummy and catch up on your reading & writing!

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This is designed to be an interactive post – your participation is what will make this valuable to all of us.  Please read the submission and then offer your constructive commentary by replying to this post.  Replies will need to be approved before they will appear.  If I am at my desk, they will be approved quickly.  If not, I will review and approve as soon as I can.

Below is the first few pages of a Young Adult novel submitted by EPA SCBWI ARA Kim Briggs. It’s not always easy to put yourself out there, so thank you for sharing, Kim.

We hope you’ll share some of your work too!  If you would like to submit a “first” for a future First Friday, please email it to

Starr Fall


For me, it’s about control. I control how many laps I swim, but I can’t control the speed of the swimmers on either side of me. I control how often I practice, but I can’t control if my competitors swim twenty or thirty more laps than I do each practice, and therefore have the power to beat me. That’s why I swam an extra twenty laps this morning, and that’s why I’m five minutes behind schedule and need to hurry to first period.

On my way up the stairs to Roger G. Webster High, I update my Friday To Do list.


ü  6:00 am to 7:30 am                 Swim Practice ~Added 5 minutes

ü  7:30 am to 7:40 am                 Shower and get ready for school~lost 5 minutes

  • 7:45 am to 9:15 am                 Chemistry
  • 9:20 am to 10:50 am               AP American Lit
  • 10:55 am to 12:25 pm             AP Contemporary Issues
    • Debate Topic: Gay Marriage
  • 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm               Lunch
  • 1:05 to 2:35 pm           American History
  • 2:35-3:05 pm              SGA Meeting
    • Straighten out Sami/Laura Issue
  • 3:10-5:15 pm              Swim Practice: 200 laps and maybe some sprints ~If time, sneak in a quick run
  • 6:00 pm                       Meet Jody and Sami at Sami’s House
  • 6:30 pm                       Dinner with girls
  • 7-9:30 pm                    Mall: pick up #2 pencils
    • 10:00 pm                     Sleepover at Jody’s house
  • Saturday, 10:00 am     Leadership Exam


Just as I reach for the door, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. I stop and look around. My eyes slide over to Christian Evergood, dark, moody, and dead sexy. He leans against one of the pillars with his black combat boot pushed up against it.

My heart races at the thought that he was staring at me, but I dismiss the notion immediately. Christian Evergood doesn’t stare. Not at me anyway.

Laughter explodes around me as dozens of students hang out in the halls before class. A pang of jealously runs through me. None of them had swim practice at 6:00 am. None of them have a locker all the way over in D-Wing. None of them have to hurry to first period Chemistry with Mr. Miller. I elbow and nudge my way through the crowded hallways.

Frank’s head towers over the sea of the students. I catch a glimpse of tight red ringlets standing in front of him, and I understand why he didn’t wait for me after practice. He set his sights on the new girl.

He wraps a stray red curl around his finger and tugs on it gently. “I love hearing about your friends at your old school. You paint such a vivid picture. I wish I could visit.”

Like a marionette doll, Red’s hand lands on his chest. Her strings pulled by Frank’s irresistible charm. “If only it wasn’t so far away,” she replies. Her hand lingers, as she leans in closer to him, their faces inches apart. “Maybe you could come over to my house after practice today? I’ll show you pictures.”

A blink. A nod. An easy kill for him.

“We can…,” his eyes jerk up to mine. He smiles when he sees me. “Hey Starr! Sorry, I missed you this morning. I got distracted.” He hooks my arm and starts walking down the hall.

I tilt my head towards poor little Red staring after us. “Aren’t you going to say ‘goodbye?”

“Oh yeah,” he says under his breath. He flashes his lady killer smile. “Later beautiful!”

Like a child on Christmas morning, her face lights up. She waves at him as if her life depended on it. “Bye Frankie!”

I furrow my brow at him. “Frankie? Seriously?”

He leans against a locker and shrugs. “It’s her pet name for me.”

I spin my combination into my lock again and again, but the stubborn thing refuses to accept it. A kick and a hammer fist delivered just above the locking mechanism opens it instead. “Pet name? Wasn’t yesterday her first day of school?”

“What can I say? When you got it, you got it,” he says. “I’m considered quite a prince to every girl in this school but…” He zeroes in a finger on my nose.

I swat it away. “I know how charming you can be,” I reply, as I put a couple books in my bag, “but what happens if Taylor breaks up with Hurley or the new girl talks to Nicky in Biology?”

His lean 6’3” frame stiffens. “Do you think Nicky would say anything?”

I slam my locker shut and turn to face him. “I doubt it, but one of these days, you’re going to get caught.”

Relief washes over him. He steps closer to me. “Girls can’t resist me. I’ll just talk my way out of it or on second thought, if you went out with me, my dating days would come to an end,” he teases, closing the distance between us.

Most girls would love the attention Frank gives me. Most girls would grow red faced and faint if they heard half the come-ons he practices on me. Most girls haven’t been best friends with him since he was an obnoxious, hormone-ridden, scrawny eighth grader who wore ratty Sponge Bob t-shirts and couldn’t get a date to save his life.

I shove him into class. “Get a grip.”

Just as I slide into my seat, the bell rings. I let out a sigh of relief. My day is back on schedule, and my discipline record remains blemish free.


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2 Responses to TGIFF – Leave Your Feedback for First Friday!

  1. Jackie says:

    Hey Kim, Your characters come to life with the dialog and exposition. I can sense the tension that may develop later in the story between Christian, Frank and Starr, or am I reading into things too soon:) Starr’s fix on a timely ordered life has me curious. The first paragraph reads a little choppy for me. If you read this paragraph out loud maybe burps in syntax will be more obvious. The character Christian Evergood – such a wholesome name, yet he appears to be a dark horse. I’m curious about him!

  2. I really enjoyed your main character Starr. She has a great voice, and I like the control-freakiness combined with a no-nonsense attitude! She really pops.

    My only suggestion would be in the character of Frank. I’ve been the new girl lots of times, myself (my family moved around a lot), and I think it’s a little unbelievable that the hottest guy in school would first of all touch the girl’s hair on her second day of school, and second of all, ask her to describe her old school, etc. I think you may just want to work on that interaction a bit to make it more natural, maybe less physical, more just flirtatious. Maybe she needs help catching up on notes from before she arrived at school, or needs a tour? However, if you’re going for an overly sexual lady-killer kind of guy and this is explained later, then go for it!

    One more question: I was wondering if you wanted to make Frank do a total transformation in one year from 8th grade loser to high school hottie, or if you might want to make his awkward days a bit further back, more like 6th grade. Again, if this is explained later or the timing is important to the storyline, please disregard!

    Overall, I think this is an excellent beginning with great characters, tantalizing questions to hook readers, and vivid descriptions.

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