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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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  • Talking MG, Inspiration & Space Monkeys with the Awesome Nathan Bransford

    Learning Differences

    Maybe you know him from his fun and informative blog. Perhaps you’ve been the recipient of one of his lightning fast query responses. Or maybe you just recognize him as that cool California dude in the orange shirt that looks like he’d be a whole lot of fun to surf with.

    Now, get ready to know Nathan Bransford in a whole new role: middle-grade author.

    Nathan’s sci-fi adventure, JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, debuted May 12. Both funny and full of action, JACOB tells the story of three kids who trade a corn dog for a spaceship, blast off into space, break the universe and have to face their fears (and a planet full of substitute teachers) to find their way home again.

    Nathan was kind enough to accept a virtual corn dog in return for an interview here on the Mixed-Up Files. Read on to find out how Nathan came to write middle grade, what’s next for Jacob — and how you can get a chance to win a free copy of this hilarious debut!

    First, congratulations! You must be so excited after all the work that goes into creating a book to see JACOB WONDERBAR on the shelves. How does it feel to finally have your baby out in the world?

    It feels great! Also a bit surreal because I’ve been anticipating it for so long. I began writing WONDERBAR in the summer of 2008, so it’s been nearly three years in the making.

    Back in your agenting days, your tastes seemed to lean more toward literary and young adult fiction. Were you surprised when you sat down to write and the voice of a middle-grader popped into your head? What drew you to writing for this age group?

    Yes, it did surprise me a bit. When it came to children’s books, as an agent I was definitely drawn more toward young adult fiction and more literary novels. But I let the idea guide the genre. The initial idea that sparked JACOB WONDERBAR was of a kid trapped on a planet of substitute teachers, and that felt middle-grade to me so I went with it.

    I also was drawn to middle-grade because the books I read when I was that age were among my favorites. Between 8-12 years old is a powerful time to be reading books.

    What are some of the books that influenced your own middle grade reading days?

    Anything and everything by Roald Dahl, BY THE GREAT HORN SPOON by Sid Fleischman, ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS by Scott O’Dell, HARRY’S MAD by Dick King-Smith, MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN by Jean Craighead George, and the Calvin & Hobbes comics by Bill Watterson.

    I love the fact that even though he’s on a wild space adventure, Jacob and his friends are still real kids with real-world problems. How do you keep your characters grounded, so-to-speak, when they’re off flying through (and breaking) the universe?

    I knew that I wanted to ground the characters with some real-life issues, because it felt real to me. Even though kids have a very active imagination, it’s impossible to avoid coming back down to Earth. So Jacob has a missing dad and is a good-hearted troublemaker, Sarah is overscheduled and puts a lot of pressure on herself, and Dexter is timid. They have to confront their problems in order to make it back home.

    Corn dogs… spaceships… burp breath… you’ve pretty much hit the trifecta for middle grade boys right there. How do you come up with your ideas? And names, too… I mean, what kid wouldn’t crack up at “Mick Cracken?”

    Thanks! I tried as much as possible to remember the types of things I thought were funny when I was that age. So… yeah. Corndogs, burp breath and upside-down calculator jokes.

    The name Jacob Wonderbar was inspired by my favorite coffee drink from Philz Coffee down the street from my apartment (Jacob’s Wonderbar Brew), and Dexter’s last name is an homage to a friend (who doesn’t take after Dexter). I don’t actually remember where Mick Cracken came from, but I do remember feeling that the name fits!

    (Also, my son would like to add that a planet reeking of burp breath is quite disgustingly awesome. Not so much a question. Just a statement of fact from a nine-year-old boy.)

    Haha, your son sounds a lot like me when I was that age.

    You’ve written some very enlightening posts on your blog about ebooks and the evolution of publishing. How do you see ebooks changing the MG landscape?

    I think middle grade may be a bit slower to switch over to e-books than adult books simply because parents may be reluctant to put $100+ e-book readers in the hands of 9-year-olds, but as prices come down and the devices become more ubiquitous I think you’ll see kids reading e-books more and more. I can remember the stacks and stacks of books I used to have on my nightstand, and I would have read even more if I didn’t have to wait for a trip to the bookstore or library.

    Speaking of your blog, it’s such a fantastic resource for writers — chock full of industry information, inspiration, updates on The Hills. The blog’s reported to have 150,000 visits a month — and has even spawned its own baby blogs. Did you have any idea when you began it would gain such a following? What do you think is the key to social media success (space monkeys notwithstanding, of course)?

    No, I really had no idea what to expect, but I’ve been extremely lucky. I think the key to success is to really cultivate a sense of community, and for that I was very fortunate to have such a great group of regular commenters, who set the tone in the comments section and who add so much to the blog experience. Other than that, I think the keys are consistency, patience, and remembering it’s all about what you can do for your readers and not what they can do for you.

    And on the subject of space monkeys, rumor has it they’ll make an appearance in the next installment of JACOB WONDERBAR. What other tricks do you have up your sleeve for future books in the series?

    Haha, yes they will! A band of space monkeys of suspect intelligence feature prominently in JACOB WONDERBAR FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSE, the sequel to WONDERBAR #1. As the title suggests, Jacob runs for president of the universe and has to contend with the planet of news reporters, more crazy Astral planets, and his own self-doubt.

    Book #3 is tentatively titled JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE INTERSTELLAR TIME WARP, and I’m just in the process of starting that one.

    Lastly, it sure seems you can do it all — pen a novel, hold down a day job, educate and entertain the writerly community, host contests and critiques — and heck, in your agent days you were one of the most queried agents around. (And still, you answered every single query, often within minutes.) All that is just a long way of asking… Are you actually a robot?

    Haha, no, I am all human. Very busy though! And if anyone has a spare robot could I borrow it?

    Okay, good — thanks for clearing that up :-). It was so awesome to have you here today on the Mixed-Up Files! I’ll check my junk drawer for spare robot parts…

    And, for our readers — since it turns out Nathan’s not actually a robot (but in fact, a really good guy), I’m giving away a copy of JACOB WONDERBAR! Just leave a comment below and our random generator will select our first winner on Saturday, May 28. And, because it’s the unofficial start of summer and we’re feeling good here at the Files, we’ll be choosing a SECOND WINNER on Tuesday, May 31! Yes, you read that correctly — for all of you that missed the first go around, we are giving away another copy of JACOB WONDERBAR on Tuesday. Just leave a comment below for a chance to win! (And, for all of you who entered the first time who didn’t win, you’re automatically entered in the second round!)

    Plus, don’t forget — you get extra entries for linking to this interview on Twitter, Facebook, your blog (or by clicking the “follow this blog” button on the right). Just mention each link in a new comment so the random generator will add your extra entries.

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