• OhMG! News


    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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  • Greetings from Nowhere with Barbara O’Connor!

    Learning Differences

    Barbara O'ConnorLet me start out by stating one mind-boggling fact.

    Barbara and I *met* online fourteen years ago on an old AOL board for children’s writers. That AOL message board was the first of its kind when the internet started becoming something more than just email–the same year Google was invented – but we hadn’t yet *heard* the term “google”. BEFORE bloggers or websites for authors. Boy, that sounds like something from ancient history!

    Barbara and I have been email pen pals for FOURTEEN years – and we have *never* met in person. That’s right. We’ve spoken on the phone a few times (she was the first person I called – after my hubby – when I got my 3-book deal with Scholastic two years ago!), but our paths have never crossed at the right moment and the right place in space and time. We both keep sayin’ “someday”! Barbara is one of the best Middle-Grade writers out there and a darling and has been one of my most supportive friends in the biz of writing books for kids. So of course I had to showcase her here on From the Mixed-Up Files!

    Here’s the officially awesome bio:

    Barbara O’Connor is the author of award-winning novels for children, including How to Steal a Dog, The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, and The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester. Drawing on her South Carolina roots, Barbara’s books are known for their strong Southern settings and quirky characters. In addition to four Parents Choice Awards and five state children’s choice awards, Barbara’s distinctions include School Library Journal Best Books, Kirkus Best Books, Bank Street College Best Books, and ALA Notables. She currently has books on over twenty state children’s book award lists. Barbara is a popular visiting author at schools and a frequent speaker at conferences around the country.

    Website: www.barboconnor.com  You can also find her on Facebook and at her blog, Greetings from Nowhere!

    Barbara, since we are ALL about Middle-Grade Books , tell us about some of your favorite MG books – as a kid and as an adult.

    As a kid, I loved mysteries: Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden. One of my favorites was The Pink Motel by Carol Ryrie Brink. I also enjoyed some of the classics, like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

    * Did you always want to be a writer? How did you fall into it? Why do you write?

    I’ve always loved writing. As a kid, I was forever writing poems and stories. As an adult, I’ve had many jobs but became interested in writing for children when I took a course at UCLA while living in California. Then I attended the national SCBWI conference as a total newbie and that was it….I was hooked.

    * Tell us a bit about your process? Outline? Wing it?

    Oh, how I would love to have an outline! I’m one of those organized folks who takes great pleasure in all things tidy. But, alas, my writing process never works that way. I start with a hazy seed of an idea that is often no more than a title or a first sentence. For instance, The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester started with: “Owen Jester tiptoed across the gleaming linoleum floor and slipped the frog into the soup.” That’s it! That’s all I had.

    I grope my way along from there, usually not even knowing the ending. I hate that process, but that’s the way it always is for me.

    I think I’m going to be ducking rotten tomatoes when I tell you I don’t do many drafts or major revisions. *she ducks* But that’s because I’m a very tidy writer who can NOT move forward unless everything behind me is as polished as I can get it. I’m often told by well-meaning writers, “Just keep going. You can go back.” But that’s not my way.

    Naturally, I do revisions after the manuscript is turned in, but have never had to do major story overhauls. I might tweak an ending or tighten a scene or develop a character or relationship more, but not total significant rewrites.

    * What is the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer? As a reader?

    As a writer: Tell the story the way that only YOU can tell it. Find your unique writing voice and listen to it at all times.

    As a reader: If you forget about the writer while you’re reading, that’s a well-written book.

    * You do a LOT of school visits around the country. What is one of your most memorable/funny moments while on the road or speaking.

    Oh, kids, kids, kids….I love kids!!! Yes, I have spoken to hundreds (thousands?) over the years. I love it when they want to show me their writing or tell me about the books they have written. I love how they are so much alike, no matter where they live – yet so different and unique, too. I love how honest they are.

    I had one moment that is far from funny but definitely memorable. I had gone to a school where the teacher did not want to read Me and Rupert Goody to the class because there is a mention of the mother slapping her misbehaving boys, “leaving her red hand-prints on their cheeks,” (referred to as “child abuse” by the teacher). Three days later, I was at a school brainstorming ways to show anger (versus telling). I asked the students what people DO when they are angry. A third grade boy said, “When I splash water out of the bathtub, my mother slaps me.”

    That was a reminder to me that children DO experience the unpleasant things in life. And I believe that authors don’t need to censor those things or ignore them. Perhaps that will help children be more understanding and empathetic. Or maybe a child will find comfort in knowing he is not alone. I write realistic fiction, so I’ve never shied away from addressing realistic issues.

    Oops! How did I end up here on my soapbox? Sorry. *steps down*

    * Can you give us your personal thoughts about where books are headed in this new century of technology and your thoughts about literacy for MG kids?

    Oh, geez…hmmm…I’m afraid I don’t pay as much attention to the business side of things as I should. But obviously e-books are growing in leaps and bounds.

    As for literacy for MG kids, I worry that the economy is hitting school librarians. Such a worry. I think librarians are the vital link in literacy.

    * Favorite Southern foods:

    Anything fried (which is everything in the South), BISCUITS, hushpuppies, boiled peanuts, pimiento cheese sandwiches

    * What’s coming up next in the Barbara O’Connor world?

    A middle-grade novel with NINE points of view. Phew…that one almost killed me. The title is ON THE ROAD TO MR. MINEO’S. It’s about a one-legged pigeon named Sherman. Tentative pub date is Fall 2012 with Macmillan/FSG/Frances Foster.

    Nine points of view! Sounds very difficult – but very intriguing!

    Thank you so much for being here, Barbara, and for all of you readers out there in Mixed-Up File Land–if you haven’t read one of Barbara’s fantastic Middle-Grade novels, go get yourself one pronto and settle in for a real treat!

    AND as an EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS for joining us today, we’re giving away not one, but TWO of Barbara’s books! A paperback of HOW TO STEAL A DOG and a hardcover of GREETINGS FROM NOWHERE!

    Leave a comment and TWO winners will be announced this Thursday, July 14th!

    Kimberley Griffiths Little was also a mystery lover as a kid and recently gave up outlining because it reminds her too much of homework. Her middle-grade novels with Scholastic Press are: THE HEALING SPELL which won the Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010 and is on the Bank Street College Best Book of 2011. CIRCLE OF SECRETS will publish October 1, followed by WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME sometime in Fall/Winter of 2012.   Please visit www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com to download the free guides for teachers and book clubs.


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