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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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  • Fact or Fiction: Research and the middle-grade novel

    Interviews, Writing MG Books

    Okay, so here’s a conversation I’ve had far too many times: my husband/stepchildren/visitor asks, “Why are you reading a book called The Idiot’s Guide to Surviving a Lightning Strike (or The Flora and Fauna of the Blue Ridge Parkway, or How To Box)?” And I answer, “It’s research for a new novel I’m working on.” And invariably, the annoying person would respond, “But why do you do so much research? It’s fiction and it’s for kids!” Now, the short answer would be because I am, in my other life, a librarian, so research comes as naturally to me as breathing. But there’s more to it than that. To help me explain and explore the reason why research is so important when writing fiction for kids, I sat down and talked with a couple of my writer buddies, Sydney Salter and Patti Sherlock. Sydney writes for teens and middle graders. Her books include My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters, Swoon at Your Own Risk, and her middle-grade novel, Jungle Crossings. Patti writes all over the age-group spectrum, from middle grade to teen to nonfiction for adults. She’s the author of the award-winning novel, Letters from Wolfie, and her most recently released adult memoir, A Dog for All Seasons. Okay ladies, we’ve all heard it before: it’s fiction and it’s for kids. Why is is so important to research even the tiniest details? Sydney: Kids are people too! They deserve the best books we can write. That includes writing truthfully and accurately. Plus, these days, many adults gravitate towards kids fiction. Patti: I think it’s important to do careful research for kids books because out there, combing a book for errors, are eight-eleven-and thirteen-year-old geeks who have encyclopedic minds for facts, and who check for errors just for fun. If they write to your publisher and prove you got something wrong, you’re in trouble! Too true! I always have this imaginary reader sitting on my shoulder when I write who lives in the place I’m writing about and who knows everything there is to know about that place or the subject. So what is your research process when you’re working on a new novel? Do you do a lot of research up front or do you do research on an “as needed” basis? Patti: I came across this good piece of advice many years ago: while you’re writing a story, guess at the facts and then go back and research them later. That prevents you from getting bogged down in research and neglecting the story. I don’t heed this fully. It really depends on the story. When I wrote Letters from Wolfie, I researched the subject for months before putting down the first line. Sydney: I always do a lot of research before I write; I’ve found that the tidbits I discover while researching help me plot the story. Do you like doing research? Patti: I love research! I love it almost as much as I love writing. My favorite kind is interviewing people who have knowledge on the particular subject. Sydney: I love research so much that I have to set deadlines to start writing! Otherwise, I’d keep studying. One of my favorite things about being a writer is the freedom I have to learn about a variety of subjects. Oh I know! I think sometimes I use research as an excuse to put off the actual writing! Patti, you mentioned you really like to interview people who are subject specialists. What kinds of sources (besides books and the internet) do you both like to use for research? Sydney: I love to travel to fun locations–like swimming through underground rivers in Mexico before writing Jungle Crossings. mostly, I learn by reading. Until I had published books on the shelf, I felt shy about talking to real people. Now I’ve learned that real people love to talk about their expertise. I’m quite chatty these days! Patti: I love research that involves going to the source. Here’s a for-instance: when I was researching pulling horses for my kids novel, Four of a Kind, I went out to a dairy where they fed hay from a wagon pulled by horses. The man showed me how to harness, ect., then invited me to go along while he worked a pair of colts. As we pulled away from the barn on the wagon, I asked, “What’s the worst thing that can happen when you’re training colts?” He said, “A runaway.” About fifteen minutes later, the colts were galloping along, and he said, “Uh oh, hang on.” I asked why and he said, “We got a runaway!” He ran the colts into an area of mud, which slowed them down. I didn’t fall off, but now I had a new idea for a complication for the main character in the book! That’s something you couldn’t have gotten out of a book or off the internet! I worry sometimes that when kids are doing research, they rely too much on printed and electronic sources. There’s nothing like talking with a real live person. I’m curious, have you ever done a ton of research for a particular thread or subplot in your novel only to have it chopped in the revision process? Sydney: Oh yes, I researched and wrote a big, honking scene about the Mayan creation myth for Jungle Crossing. I thought it was so clever telling it in the form of a play my characters watched. But in the revision process, I cut all 1,500 words–and yes, the book was better for it. And doing the research still helped the overall story. Patti: Oh yeah, I’ve had to discard whole threads of the story! And then there’s the flip side: have you ever dug up facts that took your book in a different direction? Sydney: Yes, with my mummy story I’m working on. Once I found about a bit more about Egyptian afterlife, I was able to go from a total satire to a more conventional, yet still funny, YA paranormal. I love the way research informs plot! Well put, Sydney. I think when it comes right down to it, whether it’s reading books on the subject or actually or physically doing what you’re writing about, fiction and fact are really inseparable when writing for kids. Bobbie Pyron writes for teens and middle graders. Research for her first book, The Ring, took her into a boxing ring. To research her next book, The Ring by Bobbie Pyron Dog’s Way Home (March, 2011) she spend an awful lot of time hanging out with her dogs. To find out more about her, visit her website www.bobbiepyron.com

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