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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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  • The Making of an Audio Book

    Learning Differences

    I have loved audio books ever since I was a kid, so when I heard my first book Heart of a Shepherd would be brought out in audio I was elated. When the audio book producer from Listening Library, Dan Musselman, called me to ask if I’d read the author note for the audio book of Second Fiddle, I was over the moon, although I had no idea what to expect.

    Because I did speech and debate in high school, I did know enough to print out my pages double spaced in 20 point font, so I could read without losing my place. I practiced the whole author note aloud several times and then took out a pencil and marked each place where I should take a breath. Then I went back through and underlined where the emphasis should fall in each sentence. And then, because I know I tend to mumble, I highlighted words where I needed to be attentive to articulation. A dozen more practice runs through the 5 page author note, and I felt ready.
    I got in touch with Mary MacDonald Lewis here in Portland who is a very well known voice artist. If you have On Star, that is her calm and reassuring voice telling you what to do. She’s also a director, a dialect coach, and a great teacher. Taking a voice class from her before I did my first book events was one of the best investments I’ve made. Mary Mac has a recording studio in her home, so we got together and she taught me how to use a studio microphone. Mary asked me to speak standing up with my mouth only an inch or so from the screen, which felt very awkward at first. And she insisted the most important thing was to smile, because people can hear it when you’re not smiling. I was sure she was making it up, so we recorded a few sentences, smiling and not, and guess what? I could hear it!

    Then we got down to the work of the reading. I read as carefully as I could, but I still needed to stop a dozen times and back up when I misspoke or made a funny mouth sound or shuffled my feet. Also, dropping the page on the floor is a lot louder than you think it is! Maybe the biggest surprise of all was that it took me more than an hour to read 5 pages out loud. I was so relieved that the entire book was someone else’s responsibility.
    When I thought about writing this post I know my experience was just a tiny piece of the whole audio book experience, so I was delighted when my voice artist Bri Knickerbocker agreed to be interviewed.

    Bri Knickerbocker grew up in Pittsburgh, PA speaking in silly voices and singing, creating and performing plays and writing countless books about black cats. Now she lives in LA, acts on camera, voice acts and writes novels. To learn more, visit her here for writing: http://briknickerbocker.blogspot.com/ and here for voice over: http://brisoundslike.com/ You can follow Bri on twitter @briannanoellek.

    How did you get interested in voice acting?


    I was originally attracted to voice acting because I love animation and anime; I’m a kid at heart and anytime I get to sound like a 6 year old girl I can’t help but smile and giggle.
    I’ve got some anime fans in my house, and those voices do sound so young—even younger than the animation looks. How did you get started?


    I booked the first voice over job I ever applied for, which was some goofy animated commercials and it took off from there. Voicing book trailers, video games and audio books– all appeal to my love for dramatic story telling, getting emotionally involved and bringing characters to life through my voice.

    Did you take specific training for voice work?


    I actually haven’t. As cliché as it may sound, voice acting has always felt natural to me. In that sense, I’m self-taught. But earlier this year I did start taking on camera improvisation and film classes and both of those have only helped me grow and open up emotionally to be a better, fuller voice actress.

    Wonderful! I love it when I can squeeze in classes. I took a poetry slam workshop this summer that was a blast! I always come back to the page with fresh ideas when I do something a outside my comfort zone. Can you describe how you got the part for Second Fiddle?

    Really funny story, I found an ad on craigslist that stated an audio book company was looking for a voice actress with a British accent. As instructed on the ad, I called the number posted and left a voicemail in a British accent. When Janet Stark (from Random House) called me, I kept up the faux accent, totally unsure if I should let her know I’m not really British. I came in to audition for the project and met Dan Musselman, immediately confessing that I’m just an all American girl from Pittsburgh, PA and he decided to have me audition in my natural voice. I didn’t book that particular project. But a few months later Dan emailed me telling me they’d like me to voice Second Fiddle. It was my first audiobook and a dream come true for me!
    That’s so exciting! When Dan called me to ask if I’d read the author note he told me how delighted he was to find just the right book for a promising young voice actor. ☺
    What is the process for recording an audio book?


    Dan mailed me the hardcopy manuscript straight from LA (I was in Pittsburgh for the holidays at the time) and I read the novel over and over again. First, simply reading and enjoying the story. Second, I put together a journal of all the dialogue and words in foreign languages and dialects, then looked them all up online, except the French, which thankfully I remembered from high school! I flew back to LA and recorded at Random House with Tony Hudz as my director and foreign language consultant/specialist.
    I was wondering if you got help with the foreign languages. Dan was kidding me about that.
    “Did you really have to put in all those languages?”
    “What!? They live in Europe!”
    “But Estonian? Really!?”
    “Sorry!”
    He was kidding. But it’s true that made it a more challenging than a book in just one language. How long did it take to make the recording? Because I was a total slow poke!

    It took two days to complete and one more trip to the studio for just a few pick ups.

    What happens if you make a mistake?

    When I made a mistake, Tony or I heard it right away. Then, I’d simply restart voicing from the last sentence.

    Did you have a favorite part of the process?

    My favorite part was reading your story, and emotionally involving myself in it as I voiced it, hopefully bringing it to life and doing it justice! Losing myself in the story to be Jody and travel through her suspenseful adventure was magical and exciting and so rewarding.

    Gosh, thanks! You’re a writer yourself. Can you tell us something about your work-in-progress or your favorite genre to write?


    I’m currently writing an edgy young adult paranormal romance about ghosts and dark ones (demons) and my most recently finished work is a contemporary young adult novel with magical realism. Writing is related to voice acting for me, because they’re both complex storytelling, with three dimensional characters that I have the power and responsibility to bring to life. I get very involved with the story and characters in both mediums; I don’t want to let any of the characters down! It’s up to me to give them their voices so other people can hear what they have to say.
    Do you remember a favorite middle-grade book book you’ve read recently?

    I recently read a middle-grade novel called Sea, by Heidi R. Kling and The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall—I recommend both!
    Wonderful! Thanks so much for spending a little time here at the mixed up files.
    Readers, do you have any questions about audio book making process? Have you read a good audio book lately? Let us know what you think in the comments.

    At the end of the day I’ll have a drawing from everyone joining the conversation for an audio book of Second Fiddle and you can hear Bri’s voice work for yourself.

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