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    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, read more...

     

    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...

     

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Embrace Failure

Learning Differences

Today, I’m sending good vibes and support to the US Women’s Soccer Team, especially my favorite players, Abby and Hope.

Here’s Abby:

It has to burn to get THAT CLOSE…and not bring home the championship. (I’m also a NY Jets fan, so frankly, I feel that pain all the time.) But seriously, when you put EVERYTHING out there—when you risk it all—when you keep working and pushing yourself through injury…through years, it’s got to end in success. Right?

Well, that isn’t how it works in soccer or in writing. We don’t always get to win. But here’s the thing, if we don’t risk everything—if we don’t risk failure—we never even get close.

If you look up “quotes about failure,” here’s a sample of what you will find:

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”

The only real failure in life is the failure to try.”

Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”

What about quotes about success? Well, after a big pop up a whole bunch of self-help books, staples, and a girl looking for love, here is what I found:

“The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.”

“Most successful men have not achieved their distinction by having some new talent or opportunity presented to them. They have developed the opportunity that was at hand.”

“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that?s where you will find success.”

I’ve been thinking about this last one for a while now. Double your rate of failure. Hey—I think I’m doing a good job.

Let’s look at it from different POV’s:

When you examine the protagonists of most books, failure is a fact of life. If a character wants something, no doubt, the worst possible thing will happen. But make it too easy for him, and the story falls flat. In the best books, the protagonist will have to work hard…and struggle…and probably fail a whole bunch more times before getting to the top of the mountain: ie: winning. That’s why we love them. They fail. THEN THEY GROW. Then they triumph. Do you care less or more about characters that “rise from the ashes?” Don’t you love characters who must overcome failure?

But when it comes to real life…and especially writing…why do so many people think that failure is something to fear and avoid?

I think Steven Pressfield says it best. In The War of Art, he pinpoints the biggest obstacle to success there is.

Resistance.

What is that?

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

For many, Resistance embodies a fear of failure.

But with discipline, you can embrace failure. You can see that failure—and the willingness to fail—are the most important parts of the writing process.

I obviously agree. And actually, the stakes are pretty low. What is revision if not the recognition that you have failed?

In revision, we don’t just shuffle words. We re-imagine. We look at scenes from new angles. We write them badly—over and over again—in order to eventually
write
them
well.

Some people might find this discouraging. That’s resistance, too. Some people make excuses. More resistance. If you think you have to get it done fast or right the very first time, you are opening the door to resistance.

Instead….

EMBRACE FAILURE! because in a way, it gets you off the hook. You don’t have to write the perfect book today…you just have to write something bad enough to fix later.

When I fail, I discover!!!!! (I would never have known that Parker Llewellyn was a girl, if she hadn’t been a boy first.)

Last week, in my writers.com Whole Novel class, I asked the writers to list some books that had been inspirational to their process. On writer shared some quotes from a book called The Social Animal.

“The latest research suggests a prosaic, democratic, even puritanical view of how fantastic success is achieved. The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not divine spark. Instead, what really matters is the ability to get better and better gradually over time. As K. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University has demonstrated, it’s deliberate practice. Top performers spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously honing their craft. As Ericsson has noted, top performers devote five times more hours to become great than the average performers devote to become competent.”

“John Hayes of Carnegie Mellon studied five hundred masterworks of classical music. Only three of them were published within the first ten years of the composer’s career. For all the rest, it took a decade of solid, steady work before they could create something magnificent.”

I LOVE these quotes. They debunk the myth that talent must be innate. That genius is given and cannot be developed and nurtured. And that means, if I work hard enough, I can do it, too. It’s earned. The craft requires practice. Not just natural gifts.
We just have to be willing to endure failure. Rejections. Bad reviews…you name it. We get it. But we also all get over it. We make our stacks of NO. We laugh at the reviews. We write more books.

Success comes from failure.

If you don’t take chances, you will never succeed.

If you don’t risk falling down, you will never run faster.

When you fall down, you always learn something.

Last…let’s think not as writers, but as parents. Are we protecting our kids from the very thing that will help them succeed?

Whose kids play sports where “everyone is a winner?” They play games where no one keeps score. We do this to develop confidence and self esteem…but does it work?

Does it make our kids more curious? More willing to combat resistance? Or does it make them rely on success for self esteem? How and when do we teach them to fail?????
Not that long ago, I was subbing in the local school. An exam was forthcoming. I asked the students if they had questions. (It was an English class, and I had read the book.)
There was only one question: what do I have to study?

That is not risk taking.

That is not risking failure.

And thus, that does not breed success.

Letting children face the consequences of their choices shouldn’t begin in high school. It needs to start much earlier. When my kids were young, I often had to remind myself not to fix all their problems….right away.

It hurt a lot, but I felt they had to learn cause and effect through success and failure as part of a necessary maturing process. Intervening can interrupt that process. Kids can’t become responsible adults without failing sometimes.

And neither can we. So the mantra of today, for Abby and Hope,

Here’s Hope! (LOVE YOU!!)

…who I do want VERY BADLY to get gold medals and I hope they know how amazing they are and how proud we are of them…

is fail.

Try something you think maybe you can’t do. (Just nothing dangerous.) Embrace failure. Then get ready to succeed.

Happy Writing and Reading!

Sarah Aronson’s Beyond Lucky, is about heroes, soccer, a superstitious goalie, and a girl who makes the team. She hopes Abby and Hope will someday find her book and know how much their play inspired her writing.

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