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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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  • Brainstorming For the Young (and Young-at-Heart)

    Learning Differences

    Knowing many of you readers are teachers and parents, I am certain you have, at one time or another, heard this complaint: I don’t know what to write about!*  (*said in a whining tone of voice)  Well, here are a few tips you can share with those young writers and you can say you got them from a real author!

    You can tell I'm a real author by my messy work station

    First off, authors do not have a complete story in mind before they write it! It is said that authors don’t write stories, they discover them. We all start with a puzzle piece or two: A name, Setting, Cool phrase, Subject (war/baseball/dog/dance, etc), Ending, Title, Character (boy/girl, alien, chipmunk), Conflict (argument, competition, misunderstanding, 2 people w/ conflicting needs).  We then take those few puzzle pieces and brainstorm.

    General Brainstorming Rules

    • Have lots of scrap paper available – don’t limit yourself to just one page.
    • Write down EVERYTHING that comes to mind, however stupid or lame or blah or boring or far-fetched. Actually PUT IT ON PAPER. It may not be as stupid as you think and it may lead you to something better.
    • Write fast. Do not pause to edit or second guess. NO editing allowed at this stage!
    • Neatness does NOT count. Neither does spelling or grammar or complete sentences.
    • If something ‘rings your bell’ put a star by it but KEEP BRAINSTORMING.

    Three Brainstorming Techniques to Try (In order, from knowing the least about your story to knowing the most)

    1. Web-making or Tree branching (Puzzle piece = Cool Phrase, Subject, Genre, Setting, Title)

    Put your word in the center of the page and draw a circle around it.

    Then play a ‘word association game’ with it, writing as many other words/phrases that come to mind. If a word you write makes you think of a different word, continue the branch forward. When you run out of words on one branch, go back and start a new branch with another first word.

    Don’t get caught up with the branching – drop it if it is slowing you down. It’s not a work of art and there’s no right/wrong way. The most important part is to keep writing down words/ideas that come to mind.

    2. Questionnaire (Puzzle piece = Name, Character, Conflict, Ending)

    Take your initial idea/word/subject and start asking yourself questions about it.

    Write down as many different answers as you can to each question – nothing is stupid!

    Sometimes you have to get those first, easy answers out of your brain to make room and time for something more interesting to come out. Writing them down gets them out of your way, out of your mind so they don’t keep coming back to block your thinking.

    If you have trouble asking yourself questions, here are some to get you started:

    1. Who is the Main Character?
    2. What does the Main Character want/need? (Needs are more compelling than wants)
    3. Why is this important to the Main Character?
    4. What could happen to stop the MC from getting what he/she wants?(conflict, complications)
    5. Where does this story take place?
    6. What is cool or important about this setting?
    7. Who are the other characters in this story
    8. How do they feel about the MC and/or his problem?
    9. Does the MC achieve his goal and if so, how? How does he fail?

    3. Character Diaries/Interviews (Puzzle piece = Conflict, Character(s)

    Write from the point of view of each of your characters. A short story should have a main character and a few others (3 max?). If you’ve decided what the conflict/major story problem is, have each character write about it from his/her perspective. This is merely the way you used to pretend as a kid. It’s acting, but on paper. Pretend you are this person and start ‘talking’. You can pretend you are writing in your diary, or writing a letter, or even being interviewed (where you make up the questions).

    Post Brainstorming: Now what?

    Once you have a paper or ten full of ideas, words, phrases, go back and re-read. Mark anything that strikes you as interesting/exciting. Pull out those ideas and put on a separate sheet of paper. You may need to do a little mini brainstorming to fill in the holes.

    By the time you are finished, you should have

    A Character___________________________________________________________

    in a setting____________________________________________________________

    who wants/needs something______________________________________________

    but there’s a conflict_____________________________________________________

    and he/she has some failures (making it worse each time)_______________________

    _____________________________________________________________________

    until finally*…___________________________________________________________

    (*Remember, your character should solve his/her own problem. They can have help but only a little.)

    Brainstorming is not just for Beginnings! There are many times, mid-manuscript, when authors get stuck. So I go back to my earlier brainstorming sheets and see if there are some ideas there. If that doesn’t help, I brainstorm my problem, asking myself, um, “what’s the problem?” And then, “What are some possible solutions?” If a character is not working, I might do a diary entry for that character to see what I can “discover” about him/her.

    Brainstorming is useful in the “re-visioning” process as well. By the time we are finished with our first drafts, we know the characters better than when we started. We may find our original plan does not work so well with who the characters have become.  Uh oh! What’s a writer to do? 

    Why, brainstorm, of course!

    Beverly Patt is mid-brainstorming, mid-re-visioning her third novel at this very moment.

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