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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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  • NaNoWriMo – Pep Talks

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    NaNoWriMo Logo

    (Note: This is the fourth of a five-part series about NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program.  Click the following links to read Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 5 of the series.)

    This week several of our NaNoWriMo authors’ stories continued to flow along easily, word after word. The students are writing as though they are excited to see what is going to happen next. But there were several kids who were a little slumped over in their chairs. Fingers were perched on the keys of their AlphaSmarts, but they weren’t moving. Pencils were tapped and chewed on, but they weren’t being used for writing. And it makes perfect sense that right here, in the middle of it all, most writers, even bestsellers, hit a wall.

    I asked several of the older kids what they were feeling. Many admitted they were worried they wouldn’t finish. Finding time to write is really hard, they said. They weren’t sure they liked their stories anymore or they were stuck because they’d hit a boring spot in their story.

    As for word count and “finishing,” WigMo and I have made it clear to our students that there is absolutely no shame in not meeting the word count goal the students set at the beginning of the month. NaNoWriMo is all about writing a fast draft, a method that works for many writers. But it isn’t the only way to write a book. Writing slowly and editing as you go is another great method. What’s most important is that our writers continue to work on their novels even after the so-called deadline at the end of November. I was happy to hear that all of our students said they plan to keep writing.

    But to get them through the next weeks, they need some big encouragement. The NaNoWriMo website has pep talks for writers and these encouraging words from your favorite authors can be accessed year round. While I was stuck in a writing rut this summer, I went to the NaNo site for help. I found a great pep talk by Neil Gaiman, an award winning author and two of his middle-grade novels include The Graveyard Book and Coraline. A paragraph from his pep talk that I posted on my wall in big letters says:

    “You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.”  (You can find the entire pep talk here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/node/3699304)

    After sharing Neal Gaiman’s words of wisdom, I asked the students to take five minutes to write a short pep talk to themselves. With their permission, here are some of the pep talks they wrote:

    “A good story needs commitment. You can’t write a big story just because you want to. You need to actually work on it. And I believe that if you are committed to writing, you will succeed in writing.” Sunny, Grade 5

    “For me, it really helps to read. I get great ideas. I write and write and write then, if I get stuck, I read. When I get another idea I write it down. That gives me another idea, which leads to another idea. I start to write, then I can’t stop! Later, if I get stuck, I read, I get an idea and so on.” Cassidy, Grade 5

    “Write whatever you want. Don’t give up until you get to the finish line. Writing is like a reward, not a punishment. Once you get done with a book, you’ll feel fantastic. It feels fantastic even writing it.”  Aislinn, Grade 5

    “Just keep writing. Never give up. Don’t say to yourself, ‘My story isn’t good enough. I give up.’ Your story is always good, whatever you think. When you write you say to yourself, ‘Nearly there, nearly done.’ When you are done you will think, ‘I didn’t give up. I never stopped writing, and I completed my goal. Now I feel much better.’”  Jenna, Grade 5

    “I get support from my family. My babysitter read what I have so far of my story aloud to my younger brother and he really liked it.”Isha, Grade 5

    So, to all the writers out there, you are not alone. Writing a book is a tough job but you are doing it! I hope other writers will find inspiration in these words of wisdom. We would love to hear your strategy for keeping the words in motion.

    6 Comments

    6 Comments

    1. Laura Marcella  •  Nov 18, 2010 @3:20 pm

      They’re such wise children! Thanks for sharing!

    2. Karen Schwartz  •  Nov 18, 2010 @4:22 pm

      What wise young writers out there!

    3. Laurie Schneider  •  Nov 18, 2010 @4:24 pm

      Maybe instead of an inner editor I need an inner child! Great pep talks.

    4. Rebecca Ryals Russell  •  Nov 18, 2010 @6:08 pm

      Teaching writing was the best part of my 14 years in the MG classroom. I miss that so much. I don’t miss all of the other stuff, though. I’m enjoying my retirement and writing MG and YA books for those kidlets to read.

    5. Jennifer Duddy Gill  •  Nov 18, 2010 @7:58 pm

      I agree with all of you – the children are wise and an inner child with all that wisdom is exactly what I need too!

      Rebecca, I’m so glad you’re enjoying your retirement. I can see why you’re having so much fun since you’re spending time writing for kids.

    6. WigMo  •  Nov 23, 2010 @5:48 pm

      Here’s one more pep talk from a fifth grader who wishes to be known only as Jello –

      Writing is just like drawing, but there are limits. I doesn’t matter how much you write, but if you write a longer story, it can become a book. A short story can still be famous, too.
      Writing a famous story/book can be a real honor because many people will read it. But even if it doesn’t make it to the wall of fame or something, you will still be proud of yourself. Writing can bring you to new places. Writing can express your feelings, and it’s a ticket to the unreal world in your mind.