Monthly Archives: September 2011

Don’t Be Left Behind! Jump On The Mixed-Up Middle-Grade Skype Tour Bus!

The Mixed-Up Middle-Grade Skype tour bus is pulling out… you have until October 3… that’s next Monday… to enter. Who can enter? Any grownup with a class, club, troop or group of middle-grade kids who love books. We’ll pull our Skype tour bus into your home, library, classroom or any place else with an internet connection!

How do you enter? By leaving a comment here. Extra entries when you blog, tweet, or post on Facebook (but be sure to come back and leave another comment for each of your additional entries)

Can more than one person enter for one class, book club, troop, or group? Sure! Ask every parent in your child’s class to leave a comment! The more the merrier!!

What will you win? A full 45 minute Skype visit from one of the Mixed-Up Middle-Grade Skype Tour authors, plus a copy of that author’s book and assorted swag, if available.

When’s the drawing? October 3. Winners will be announced here at the Mixed-Up Files on October 4.

Any other questions? Look here.

And another thing…

There are two more authors on the bus today!

Welcome Erin Moulton!!! Can you tell us about your new middle-grade novel Flutter?

 FLUTTER, came out in May 2011. My second book, THE LANTERNLIGHT DREAMERS, will hit bookshelves in Summer 2012.  Both are MG novels and both have very quirky, yet resourceful characters, with big hearts, who manage to get themselves into trouble despite their best efforts. 

What do you like best about writing for middle grade readers?

I love the voice that pops into my head when I think of “middle grade people.” They can be funny, poetic, tangential.  They can spin you a metaphor as quickly as tell a crude joke.  Once this age begins talking in my head, there is no way to stop it! 

What was your favorite book when you were 8-12?

A Murder for Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner.

I’ve never heard of that one but you have super taste… and I love FLUTTER so I’m going to check it out!  What makes your school visits special?

I have lots of experience on doing programming from my time working in after school care, so my lessons/visits are often a mix of Author Talk combined with information on creative writing or literary elements. I also am a firm believer in lots of visuals, questions and hands on projects to keep the kids engaged.  Maple candy is often involved if it lines up with school policy :J

OH! Hooray here comes Jen Blom! Jen how about telling us about your new book Possum Summer?

I’m an animal lover and I get to write about them! My debut title, POSSUM SUMMER, deals with a girl who’s trying to find her way between the little orphan possum she’s dying to save and her strict father who says no way. My second book, THE SPOTTED PONY (2013) is what happens when a girl visiting her father’s feedlot in Texas falls in love with the wrong horse!

What do you like best about writing for middle grade readers?

It’s the most magical time to be a reader. Anything is possible, and you’re learning about the world around you. I know that books shaped my outlook when I was growing up, and it’s so exciting to think that my books might do that for some other kid!

I totally agree! What was your favorite book when you were 8-12?

It changed daily but the ones I still re-read are RASCAL (North) SUMMER OF THE MONKEYS (Rawls) and WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (Rawls)

What makes your school visits special?

The amount of energy and participation I get from the kids!

There you have it, folks! Two more amazing authors raring to meet your kids and their class, club, or group. All you have to do is ENTER.

Tami Lewis Brown, the author of THE MAP OF ME, and seven other middle-grade authors are ready to visit your group! Jump on the bus!

How Many Authors Fit On A Skype Tour Bus? Welcome and Win Tricia Springstubb, Bruce Hale, and Kathryn Erskine!

Nope. That’s not us.

Yep! That’s more like it.

The Mixed-Up Middle-Grade Skype Tour Bus is ready to pull into your school, library, home… or where ever you are! To enter comment here by next Monday, October 3. Winners will be announced on October 4.

Who might be headed for a visit with your troop? We have a busload of authors including me Tami Lewis Brown (The Map Of Me),Erin Moulton (Flutter),Kathy Erskine (Mockingbird), Tricia Springstubb (What Happened On Fox Street), Sarah Aronson (Beyond Lucky),Uma Krishnaswami (The Grand Plan To Fix Everything),Jennifer Nielsen (Elliot and the Pixie Plot) and Bruce Hale  (Chet Gecko Mysteries)! Can you believe it? So many authors and plenty more time to tell all your friends and neighbors to enter for you and your classroom, library, troop, or group.

Today three authors are visiting to talk about their books and their Skype visits.

First up? National Book Award winning author Kathryn Erskine.

Hi Kathy! Please tell us about you and your books.

My latest book is The Absolute Value of Mike. I tend to write about tough issues but there’s always humor, too, because that’s what life is like.  I enjoy reading books where I learn interesting stuff painlessly — so that’s what I like to write for others, too. 

What do you like best about writing for middle grade readers?

Middle graders are curious and open-minded which makes for a great group of readers!

What was your favorite book when you were 8-12?

The SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS series by Arthur Ransome because they were wonderful adventure stories about kids who got to camping and sailing and have adventures without any parents around!

I loved SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS, too.  And Ransome’s books have very cool maps as end papers, I might add. What makes your school visits special?

 I LOVE answering students’ questions — and asking them some questions, too — and they love seeing my dog.  :o)

A Skype visit with a dog! How cool!! You can read more about Kathy in Wendy Shang’s interview right here at From The Mixed-Up Files.

Oh look! Here’s Tricia Springstubb! Before you climb on the bus, Tricia, tell us a little about your books, especially your newest middle grade novel, Mo Wren, Lost And Found.

I’m a promiscuous writer—I’ve published fiction for kids of all ages, as well as for adults.  The language and complexity of my writing varies, but family is always at the center.  Family forms us, yet we have to wriggle free of it to truly become ourselves.  My stories explore that contradiction over and over.

What do you like about middle grade readers?

Readers this age just rock.  They demand great plot and character, but also appreciate nuance and beautiful sentences.  Their eyes are wide and their hearts are big!  A writer couldn’t ask for a better audience. 

Did you have any favorite books when you were that age?

When I was a middle grader, I loved, among many other books, Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames—those great girl heroines!  I read totally indiscriminately and insatiably. I wish I could still read that way.What makes your author visits special?After working forever as a teacher, librarian, and school volunteer, I’m now a full-time writer for the first time in my life.  This is an amazing privilege, but has one drawback—I’m not around kids enough!  I love school visits to keep in touch with my peeps!  

Tricia is a loyal (and very hardworking!) member of the Mixed-Up Files. You can read more about her and her darling protagonist Mo Wren here.

 Wow… here’s Bruce Hale, the author of about a zillion Chet Gecko books, too! Welcome Bruce! 


What do you like best about writing for middle grade readers?
I love the sense of possibility — it feels like you could take those readers nearly anywhere, as long as you keep them entertained.  Mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, graphic novels — all genres are open for exploring.
What was your favorite book when you were 8-12?

I first got hooked on reading in 3rd grade, via Tarzan of the Apes.  That was my favorite series, but eventually I branched out to books like THE HOBBIT and WRINKLE IN TIME.

You can read more about Bruce, his wacky sense of humor, and his wonderful books here.

All right readers! Are you ready to jump on the bus? We’re saving you a seat and all you have to do is leave a comment right HERE!

Tami Lewis Brown wants to park the Mixed-Up Middle-Grade Skype Tour Bus in your driveway. Enter HERE to win an author visit for your eager readers.


Interview with Author and Illustrator Rose Cooper

I’m so excited to have the fabulous and uber cool, Rose Cooper, with us today at the Mixed Up Files!  Rose is my writing BFF and we’re prone to absolute silliness.  But we’ll try to keep it to a minimum today cause it’s all seriousness here at the Mixed Up Files. 😉

Me:  So Rose, tell us a little bit about your bad self.

Rose: I am represented by Rosemary Stimola and I’m the author and illustrator of the Blogtastic! Novel series.  It took me six long years of tears rejections, before I finally wrote a story that gained interest from agents and ultimately got me signed. Eight weeks later my book found a home with Random House.  

Me: Sounds like me. The six long years part. Except it’s only been two. Like I said, exactly like me.  Anywhoooo, how did you come up with the idea for Blogtastic?

Rose: I was sitting in Starbucks studying for my Business Law class. I was near the girls room and I thought, “wouldn’t that be funny to have a book about a bathroom blog?” and Bam! the idea was born. Of course, the titled changed from Bathroom Blog to Gossip from the Girls Room so it would be more appealing to readers.

Me: I dunno, the bathroom humor fanatic in me kinda likes Bathroom Blog. *shrugs* *ignores farting noises from the dog* So….Rose….tell me, do you spy on people in the ladies bathroom often?

Rose: Only when I’m super bored. Or looking for material for my next book.

Me: *Winks* Gotcha. Suuuuure.

What about the boys room?

Rose: I know i’m supposed to say no to that, so no. Absolutely not. That would be totally wrong. And I definitely don’t send my son into the boys room to spy either. That would also be very wrong.

Me: Right. I mean wrong. Yes, spying is very wrong.  *nods* I have to ask….does your main character, Sofia, find any interesting uses for toilet paper?  *ignores middle-grade memories of Halloween…bad Amie, bad!*

Rose: In GOSSIP, Sofia had to use the toilet paper as a nose plug when she was hiding out in the stink haunted stall. She uses what’s available to her when the situation calls for it. She’s like the MacGuyver of bathrooms. 

Me: There’s a stink haunted stall in my house. I could use some MacGuyver moves here when I have to clean it. Something’s gotta work better than a clothespin and toilet brush.  So all our readers are dying to know….why do you write for middle-grade readers?

Rose: I relate to kids best at this age, probably because my son is in middle grade and also partly because I refuse to let go of my childhood. 

Me: Repeat with me: I will not grow up. I will not grow up.  Phew! I feel better! What do you think is the BEST PART about writing for middle grade?

Rose: There are so many great things, it’s hard to pick just one. But I would have to say getting emails from kids who read the book. When I hear how they are inspired to write or illustrate their own book, or how much they enjoyed reading it, it makes me feel as if this is the reason I became an author.  

Me: That’s gotta be such a rewarding feeling. You’ll get to experience that all over again pretty soon, won’t you?

Rose: I will! My second book, Rumors from the Boys Room, will be released Oct.11, 2011 (holy cow!) and you will see many familiar faces, as well as new ones. Sofia Becker swears to only blog about things that she hears from a totally trustworthy source—herself! Her locker just happens to be in her direct line of vision of the boy’s room (if she peeks around the corner), so this gives her many opportunities to spy on the boys. Of course there’s no way she could possibly get that information mixed up, right? Thrown into the mix is a FES (foreign exchange student), a Popular Pretty who has the ability to use her hair as a weapon (or jump rope), and a dirty psycho kitty.

Me: Hair as a weapon, eh? *Twirls head, gets whiplash, realizes that was stupid*

As author and illustrator you have a lot of responsibility….tell us about the process.

Rose: After I do revisions on the actual manuscript, I then work with a designer at Random House. I send her all the images and she puts the book together. Then I revise the manuscript some more. Then revise the illustrations. I am essentially always on a deadline, whether it’s with the book or the illustrations. It’s twice the work, but completely worth it.

Me: That sounds like a lot of work. In fact, I’m breaking a sweat just thinking about it.

I already know some prehtty kewl stuff about the third book (nanny, nanny pooh, pooh!) Wanna share some secrets with the readers today?

Rose: The third book in the Blogtastic! series will be Secrets from the Sleeping Bag, due out summer 2012. Sofia goes away to summer camp and is without any technology (gasp!). Not only does she make new friends, but she finds herself in the middle of prank wars, marshmallow fights, bigfoot sightings, and activities gone horribly wrong.  Oh yeah, and she totally fears for her life when she encounters wild animals. Hint: not skunks.

Me:  Did you notice how I said “secrets” before? Yeah, uh huh, told you I knew some prehtty kewl stuff.  Well Rose….we really appreciate you visiting with us at the Mixed Up Files today. It’s been real. It’s been fun. And it’s been real fun. Before we go out for lunch and eat chocolates and bon bons, is there anything else you want to share?

Rose: I’m going to be a Ninja for Halloween.


Rose has graciously agreed to give away two books – Gossip from the Girls Room and her soon-to-be-released Rumors from the Boys Room – to one Mixed Up Files reader! Cause she’s awesome like that. And I bribed her.

Leave your comment below to be entered.  No Mia St Claire’s allowed.