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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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  • I Thought I Was Wrong But I Was Mistaken

    Inspiration, Miscellaneous, Op-Ed, Writing MG Books

    No one who’s ever examined my life would use the word perfectionist to describe me. After all I’m surrounded by the kind of chaos that makes a three-ring circus look like a trip to the spa. Dirty dishes, mounds of laundry, unpacked boxes from our recent move piled in the basement . . . you get the picture. It’s not at all how I like to live, but it’s my life and I’m thankful for it in all its messy, imperfect glory. But I confess that after a mountain of unexpected changes, I am struggling with the ongoing lack of routine and organization. It’s coming, but there are many tiny steps in the process and my positive attitude is at war with my inner perfectionist and my preferred coping mechanism—procrastination.

    Perfectionism’s relationship to procrastination is like my inner five year old thinking “if I can’t do it perfectly, then I won’t do it at all.” But the scary thing is that perfectionistic thinking actually interferes with creativity and innovation. That’s some serious motivation to stop hidden perfectionism from contributing to writer’s block.

    So as writers, what can we do to minimize the negative effects of perfectionism and it’s chokehold on the creative process?

    Here’s what I’m trying.
    1. It’s Getting Very Drafty Around Here: I’m trying to accept that a first draft will contain good, bad and indifferent portions. That’s why there is “delete,” “cut,” and “save as” functions on my computer.

    2. I Thought Only Gorillas Lived in the Mist: Instead of waiting for the perfect writing moment, I’m learning to write “in the midst.” It would be fantastic to carve out large chunks of quiet time, but that’s not my reality. Others might be able to get a babysitter or use children’s nap times. Some people might get up early, stay up late or write during their lunch break. Each person’s unique situation requires a unique response. Accepting it and adapting keeps me from procrastinating “until.”

    3. My GPS Can’t Find This Moving Target: Focusing too much on the end product can take the fun out of the process. Rewarding small achievements helps me to feel like my writing is a break from other more mundane aspects of my life and makes the creative process more enjoyable. If I focus only on the fact that I still need to write 15,000 words to finish my first draft, I miss the pleasure of creating an unexpected scene or making myself laugh through the antics of my character. It’s not perfection, but it’s a step forward in the process of completion.

    4. Trial and Error Have Nothing to Do with Court TV: Playdough and Post-It Notes were both invented by accident. My recent crazy life has given me many new ideas, frames of reference, experiences and inspirations that hopefully will lead me toward an unexpected creation that I would never have discovered otherwise.

    5. Bibliotherapy is Way Less Expensive Than a Massage: I just read a book from my to-be- read list that fit well with the conflict between my dream life and my current reality. A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban features the less-than-perfect life of almost eleven year old Zoe and the conflict between her dream of being a concert pianist at Carnegie Hall and her real life playing old TV theme songs on her Perfectone 60 organ. Zoe’s life is further complicated by a father who is limited by an unnamed anxiety disorder and a workaholic mother who is both physically and emotionally unavailable. The friction between Zoe’s dreams of perfection and the reality of her life is very funny and reminded me to look for the humor in my life’s ironies. Reading a book that aligns with themes I’m experiencing or a struggle I’m having with a work-in-progress helps me restore creative energy when life and writing seem to be in direct conflict with each other.

    Care to Share?

    1. What are the strategies you use when “real life” collides with your writing time or creative thinking?

    2. What books do you like to read when life is less than perfect?

    Joanne Prushing Johnson writes middle grade books with humor and heart. She recently relocated back to Ohio from Nebraska with her rambunctious brood including her handsome hubby, four boys and huge hound. In the process, she traded the suburbs for the city and Runza burgers for Skyline Chili and that is perfectly fine with her. Joanne is represented by Quinlan Lee of Adams Literary.

     

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