• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Indie Spotlight > Indie spotlight: Fire petal Books !
  • OhMG! News


    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 ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...


    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...


    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories,


    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...


    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...


    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…


    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...


    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...


    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...


    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...


  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

Indie spotlight: Fire petal Books !

Indie Spotlight, Interviews

Today we welcome FIRE PETAL BOOKS as our Spotlight Awesomest Indie Bookstore in Centerville, Utah! Welcome, guys!

I have to hand it to FIRE PETAL’s owner, Michelle Witte. She was amazingly honest and open, and a real pleasure to interview! Kudos also (IMO) for opening a beautiful new bookstore for kids and teens in this ah, challenged economy. And it’s doing so fabulously, too! A real dream come true, I think.

The marvelous and talented Michelle Witte!

So enough about me. On to Michelle and FIRE PETAL !!

Oh yeah. The Great Author Wall. Coolness reigns here!

JKB: You’re a new independent bookstore. What prompted you to open in the particular area of town, and why this time?

MW: When people ask why I’d do something so crazy as open a bookstore (a dying entity) during a recession, my only thought is: There’s never a good time to take a risk like this. Why let one excuse or another stop you from following your dreams. The thought that originally kicked me into gear with the store was, someday will never happen if I don’t make it happen.

As for the location, I’d lived in Centerville, but had to move away about a year ago. I love this community for many reasons, but the two biggest for locating a store here are proximity to Salt Lake City and the neighborhood feel of the community. Since we’re only 10 minutes north of Salt Lake you’d think it would be much like the city, but it’s really not. Plus it’s the only real independent bookstore between Salt Lake and the next large city, Ogden, which is about 40–50 miles away. I say “real independent” because there are some children’s boutiques and game stores that also sell books, but the retail space devoted to books is much smaller than that devoted to other items.

JKB: Do you do special events for the youngsters?

MW: Of course! That’s one thing indies can bring to a community that larger retailers can’t—the active participation in literature and events. We’re still feeling out what would be best for our store, but we plan to do traditional events storytime and book groups. In addition we’ll have writing groups for teens, writing classes, author discussions, signings, and pretty much whatever we can imagine. Since I own the store, I can do pretty much whatever I want, and I love doing fun, crazy, quirky things.

JKB: How do you get the word out about your fabulous bookstore?

MW: Ooh, I like the sound of “fabulous.” Publicity is actually a tricky thing, especially for a traditional establishment (bookstore) in an evolving world. I used to work as a journalist and editor for newspapers, so I understand how to get the information you want in front of the media. The thing is, newspapers are dying. I don’t say that lightly. The paper I used to work for just laid off nearly half of their staff—including the entire copy desk. So traditional forms of advertising just aren’t going to be as efficient as they were in the past.

Another path is to use the internet as marketing tool. It has a lot of pros and plenty of cons as well. How do I find my target audience? And, more than that, how do I make an impression on locals in my target audience. But viral marketing is cheap (other than my time), and I can reach a wider audience. But as I mentioned, how do I narrow that to people who will actually walk into my store? I’m still working on that.

I don’t know the magic answer (please email me if you do), but I’m experimenting in a lot of different ways to figure out what really works. So far, I’m seeing it’ll have to be a combination of traditional media mixed with online venues. The ideal situation would be for the mix of marketing to spark a word-of-mouth frenzy. Actually, the most interested customers walking into the store come after recommendations from friends and family. Those who walk in off the street might be interested, but there’s a higher likelihood of them walking right back out again after a quick browse. It’s the personal connection—the community—that will bring customers to our door and keep them coming back.

JKB: Could we have your website? Twitter account? Facebook? (Note to readers: showing support online is just as awesome as dropping by! You can even purchase books online through FIRE PETAL, I’ll tell you more about that in a bit)

MW: Do you really want the list? This could be dangerous—and much more than you asked for.

JKB: Hit me.

MW: Well, here goes:









JKB: What are some upcoming events we all can look forward to?

MW: Starting Friday, Oct 15 at 3 pm, we’ll be having a weekly storytime. The next two weeks, storyteller Jeff Bond will share ghost stories with kids age 8–13.  We also have writing groups for Teens and YA writers – check out our website for details!

JKB: I also understand that FIRE PETAL will shortly have a way to order books online through the store…so make sure to swing by and support your local indie – EVEN if it’s online, EVEN if you aren’t local! By buying independent you support the fabulous book economy…doncha want to do that?

And if you’re in the area, have a FANTASTICAL KID’S birthday party at FIRE PETAL! Details here.

Thanks again, Michelle, for stopping by The Mixed Up Files! You are amazing, and FIRE PETAL rocks!



  1. Donna Gephart  •  Oct 20, 2010 @7:08 am

    Michelle, Three cheers for you for making your dream come true and for providing a real treasure for your community. Hope you soon have more customers than you know what to do with.
    With all good wishes for much success!

  2. sheelachari  •  Oct 20, 2010 @3:47 pm

    I loved reading about this bookstore coming to life. Good luck and congratulations!

  3. Laurie Schneider  •  Oct 20, 2010 @7:39 pm

    There’s nothing like a neighborhood bookstore. Best of luck to Fire Petal!

  4. Elissa Cruz  •  Oct 20, 2010 @9:04 pm

    I love this store! And I’m so lucky to live close enough to visit in person, not just vicariously. Kudos to Michelle for opening it!

  5. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Oct 21, 2010 @8:33 am

    I love this bookstore success story, Michelle! I will have to check you out the next time I’m in Utah visiting family. You are a brave woman, but three cheers for books!!!

    A new indie opened this past summer in Albuquerque where I live – right during this awful recession and I was so surprised the owner would have the gumption to do it. Alamosa Books – and it’s terrific. We now hold our monthly SCBWI schmoozes there and it helps bring in traffic to the store. The owner has tables and chairs and it’s very cozy. We all try to buy a book every month after the schmooze is over as a thank you, too. Yeah, one night I bought three. What can I say? I’m a sucker for books. And when they’re right in front of you all shiny and delicious . . . I just whip out the credit card and close my eyes. :-)