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    July 11, 2014: Apply for a Thurber House residency!

    Thurber House has a Children’s Writer-in-Residence program for middle-grade authors each year and  guidelines and application form for the 2015 residency were just released.

    This unique residency has been in existence since 2001, offering  an opportunity for authors to have time to work on their writing in a fully furnished apartment, in the historic boyhood home of author and humorist, James Thurber. Deadline is October 31, 2014. For details, go to READ MORE

    July 10, 2014:

    Spread MG books in unexpected places 7/19
    Drop a copy of your own book or of another middle-grade favorite in a public place on July 19 -- and some lucky reader will stumble upon it.
    Ginger Lee Malacko is spearheading this Middle Grade Bookbomb (use the hashtag #mgbookbomb in social media) -- much in the spirit of Operation Teen Book Drop.  Read more ...

June 16, 2014:
Fizz, Boom, Read: Summer reading 2014

Hundreds of public libraries across the U.S. are celebrating reading this summer with  the theme Fizz, Boom, Read! Find out more about this year's collaborative summer reading program and check out suggested booklists and activities. Read more ...
 

April 30, 2014:
Join the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and help change the world

The conversation on diversity in children's books has grown beyond book creators and gate keepers to readers and book buyers. What can you do? Take part in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign May 1 though 3 on Tumblr and Twitter and in whatever creative ways you can help spread the word to take action. Read more ….

April 11, 2014:
Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

April 9, 2014:
How many Newbery winners have you read?
You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

March 28, 2014:
Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

February 14, 2014:
Cybils Awards announced
Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

November 12, 2013:
Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

November 9, 2013:
Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

October 14, 2013:
Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
Read more ...

September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

September 16, 2013:
National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

August 21, 2013:
Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

August 19, 2013:
S&S and BN reach a deal
Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

August 6, 2013:
NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

 
July 2, 2013:
Penguin & Random House Merger

The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

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  • Serious About Series

    Interviews, Writing MG Books

    You’re reading a fabulous book, you’ve invested in the characters, in their situations and suddenly, you’re on the very last page and then…it’s over. You want more. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend.

    Book 4: Fat Cat of Underwhere

    But it doesn’t always have to end that way. Not if that fabulous book is part of a series.

    Middle grade series come in all sorts of varieties.. From intricate plots like Harry Potter to fun and simple reads such as  Diary of a Wimpy Kid. There’s even an  increasing popularity of graphic novels, such as Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell or even hybrids like Bruce Hale’s Underwhere series. You can never be sure when market trends might change.

    So, what makes readers love a book so much they want to read the entire series?

    “I either need a plot point that keeps me coming back or a character I identify with. Humor’s in there too! “ –Jen K. Blom

    “When I’m actually sad the book’s over, that’s how I know right away that I have to have the next book!” -Hilary L. Wagner

    “The main character. I love a very strong voice while reading a story, it’s important to stay in tune with the characters main goal and if it’s a good one I’ll follow it all the way.” –Jen Daiker

    “It could be the voice, the premise, the protagonist or a combination of all three.” –Amie Borst

    “Books set in a different time period or fantasies set in an entirely unique culture that make me want to live in that world!” –Marissa Burt

    I’m just beginning the journey as an MG series writer, but I often wonder if other authors started off the same way. I knew once I had the idea for my first book that it just had to be a series. There were too many situations for my main character to overcome in only one book. Yes, she is an accidental troublemaker.

    Julep O'Toole: What I Really Want To Do Is Direct

    I bribed two fantastic and successful MG series authors to answer some questions I had on my mind. Lucky for me, they settled for chocolate instead of money. 

    Did you plan for your first book to become the first of a series?

     Yes, but the credit goes to my editor, Shannon Dean-Smith at Penguin, who encouraged me to write it. She came to me and said she was looking to acquire a series and would I consider writing one? I pitched her Julep O’Toole and we were on our way. -Trudi Trueit author of  Julep O’Toole series and Secrets of a Lab Rat series

    Is it challenging for you to carryover certain details, characters and explanations from earlier books without making it seem redundant and boring?

    I think there are two tricks. First, keep the explanations short for the reader that already knows everything, but detailed enough for the new reader. Second, avoid info dumps and just pepper in the information.-Barrie Summy, author of I So Don’t Do Mysteries series

    What is a good recipe for creating a “hot” MG series?

    Relatable characters. I think young readers are looking for characters to spark their souls. But If I had the magic formula, I’d be a mega-selling author!-Trudi

    I So Don't Do Makeup by Barrie Summy

    How involved do you get with your characters?

    When I’m out and about or even when I’m at home with my kids, I’m always wondering what Sherry would make of the situation, how she’d react, what she’d say.-Barrie

    For you personally, is it more difficult to write a series or a stand-alone book?

    For me, a series is easier than a stand alone, because it takes the pressure off to have to wrap up everything in one neat, tidy bow. It’s incredibly freeing.-Trudi

    What advice would you give to writers wanting to write an MG series?

     Choose your characters wisely. You’re going to be spending a lot of time together. -Barrie

     First, remember that a good idea doesn’t always make for a good series. Make sure you have enough material to sustain your work through, at least, five books. Also, every book in your series should be able to stand on its own merits. Finally, and most important, don’t second-guess the marketplace. Write what your heart says must be written. That is, after all, what it’s all about. -Trudi

     Some of our most memorable books from our childhood were book series. For me, it was the Babysitters Club (I so wanted to open my own babysitters club!) and The Boxcar Children (every kid fantasizes about living on their own at some point). You know those are good books when they stay with you into adulthood. I asked readers what some of their favorite childhood series were and this is what they had to say.

    Amie Borst: I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure series.  There was something about having control over the outcome of the story that made me want to read the books again and again.

    Jen K. Blom: The Black Stallion. I was a horse nut and dreamed that every horse I read about (all, curiously enough, black Arabians!!) was mine.

    Hilary Wagner: My mother got me the Little House series, something I wouldn’t have picked for my self as a kid, but I quickly got hooked! 

    Marissa Burt: I really liked the Mandie books (mysteries set around the turn of the century), by: Lois Leppard. the ones that stood the test of time – that I loved as a kid and still read every year – are L.M. Montgomery’s books.

    Mom, There's A Dinosaur In Beeson's Lake

    Trudi Trueit:  Judy Blume – changed me, and changed my life. That is powerful storytelling.

    I personally love writing a series because it allows me to explore my characters in many different situations that I wouldn’t normally have a chance to do with a stand-alone book. I get to know my characters on a deeper level and I find new characteristics in them that I didn’t necessarily realize or show within the first book.

    It’s the same as meeting someone for the first time. You spend more time with that person getting to know them. Wanting to be around them. Becoming friends. That’s how you become so invested in your characters. After awhile your characters feel very real to you. Talking to them, on the other hand, is an entirely different issue.

    Just like the readers, I don’t have to say goodbye once I’m done. I can pick up right where I left off and continue with the next dramatic and social disaster that my characters have created.

    Although I do have one advantage over the readers—I don’t have to wait a year to see what happens next!

    Rose Cooper loves gossip so much that she wrote and illustrated a book all about it, which includes all the juicy secrets and gossipy goodness you can get your hands on. Her upcoming middle-grade humor series, Gossip from the Girls’ Room, A Blogtastic! Novel, will be published by Delacorte/Random House, January 11, 2011. Be sure to snoop out Rose’s website at www.Rose-Cooper.com.

    17 Comments

    17 Comments

    1. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Jul 26, 2010 @7:53 am

      I think the great thing about a series for the kid reader is that it’s easy for them to make a decision on what book to get at the library/bookstore. They know what to expect and that they’ll like it, so they just keep coming back for more. It’s an easy way to keep them reading.

    2. Jemi Fraser  •  Jul 26, 2010 @8:00 am

      I enjoy books written in a series – always have. I think my first favourites as a kid were Encyclopedia Brown & the Bobbsey Twins :)

    3. Amie Borst  •  Jul 26, 2010 @9:22 am

      Great post Rose! I love series for many of the same reasons you mentioned. Thanks for including me in your post!

    4. Danette  •  Jul 26, 2010 @9:50 am

      Interesting comments from series authors, especially about having to dispatch necessary info in subsequent books. How much does a new reader need to know and how to plant that info without dumping it? Tricky!

    5. Melina  •  Jul 26, 2010 @10:16 am

      I love Barrie Summy’s books.

    6. Jen  •  Jul 26, 2010 @10:32 am

      Rose this seriously rocked!!! I loved all the people and answers that were included!!! Brilliant :)

    7. Laura Marcella  •  Jul 26, 2010 @11:31 am

      There were so many fantastic MG series when I was a kid! Anne of Green Gables, Little House, Redwall, Ramona Quimby, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Encyclopedia Brown were some of my favorites. I still re-read them every few years!

      There are a lot of terrific series these days, too. I haven’t invested my time in some of the more recent ones, but of course I love Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events!

    8. Laura Pauling  •  Jul 26, 2010 @11:46 am

      I love series. I’d love to write a series. So much fun. For me, it’s a strong character and a fun premise. I love Cammie from Ally Carter’s books!

    9. Hilary Wagner  •  Jul 26, 2010 @12:29 pm

      I think the key to a good series is keeping the books great across the board. A great example of that is the Silverwing Trilogy, by Kenneth Oppel. I found all three books unique and stand alone. They didn’t need the one to support the other and each book stayed with me for a while after I read it.

      Great post, Rose!

      xoxo — Hilary

    10. brian_ohio  •  Jul 26, 2010 @1:39 pm

      Hurray! Barrie’s on the Mixed-Up Files. Nice to see you here, Barrie. You know I love your books. I’m engaged to the 2nd one in the series.

      Wonderful Post. Series are great, especially when it’s about a character that I adore. It’s sad when they come to an end though.

    11. Elissa Cruz  •  Jul 26, 2010 @1:50 pm

      I love series, too…except when I have to wait for the next book to come out.

      As a writer, I am currently working on the second book in a series, and I have to admit that I have a new-found appreciation for those who write series. Thanks for the writing advice…and the rest of this post!

    12. Jaydee Morgan  •  Jul 26, 2010 @7:36 pm

      Great post – and loved hearing all the different viewpoints. When I was younger, I loved reading series books. Now, as an adult, I’m not so patient to wait for the next one.

    13. Tracy Abell  •  Jul 26, 2010 @8:54 pm

      I can picture the childhood shelf filled with Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy mysteries. I loved them but also the Little House books and Anne of Green Gables. I’m working on a series idea of my own right now, and very much appreciated the insights from seasoned series-writers.

      Thanks for this timely post!

    14. Laurie Beth Schneider  •  Jul 26, 2010 @9:32 pm

      As a kid I loved the Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden, Romona and the Little House books. My 11-year-old daughter has enjoyed Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik books; Meg Cabot’s Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls; and Peggy Gifford’s Moxy Maxwell. My personal favorite is Lisa Yee’s Millicent Min, Girl Genius, and its companion books Stanford Wong Flunks Big Time and So Totally Emily Ebers.

    15. Natalie Aguirre  •  Jul 27, 2010 @5:51 am

      Great advice. I loved the advice on how to add info in the second book in a series so it’s not an info dump. I’m struggling with my first chapters and trying to find the balance on that one.

    16. Wendy S  •  Jul 27, 2010 @8:54 am

      Great article! My son’s favorite series so far has been the Guardians of Ga’Hoole and Warriors. I loved Barrie’s advice to choose the characters wisely since you’ll be spending a lot of time together – lol! I’ve heard editors say that generally about manuscripts they acquire – it has to be a MS that they’re willing to spend a lot of time with.

    17. Matthew  •  Jul 27, 2010 @1:02 pm

      Great post! Awesome blog. There is nothing better than a series in which a story goes on and on. In fact I’m still disappointed HP didn’t go on longer! :(