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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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  • One Writer’s Literary Inspirations

    Book Lists, Inspiration, Writing MG Books

    Like all writers worth their print cartridges, I read a lot. While I write primarily for middle-grade readers I read a variety of books: adult fiction, non-fiction, biography, memoir, young adult and, of course, middle-grade fiction. Good writing inspires me, no matter the source.

    However, there’s something extra special about finding a middle-grade novel that hits all the right notes; I get a thrill in the presence of greatness. And while there are certainly other books that qualify, here are five novels that inspire me to be a better writer.

    BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE by Kate DiCamillo

    I was working on a novel for adults when I first read this book, and was frustrated with my progress. I was floundering in the middle, unsure where my story was supposed to go. BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE was like a lungful of clean air, and I decided I’d set aside my work-in-progress to write a children’s novel with a clear beginning, middle, and end. I needed a goal that felt both manageable and worthwhile (neither of which could be said about my project). Opal Buloni’s story gave me permission to try and write a story that mattered to me.

    SAHARA SPECIAL by Esmé Raji Codell

     

    This story reinforces the power of writing a book that is both poignant and funny. Fifth-grader Sahara’s school file contains evidence she belongs in special ed but Sahara keeps her own file in the form of her book, “Heart-Wrenching Life Story and Amazing Adventures.” These days I pick up SAHARA SPECIAL for a little fix of all-star teacher Miss Pointy, and to remind myself to write characters who feel deeply and who make the reader care just as deeply.

    A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT by Linda Urban

    This book has short chapters, many one-page in length. It motivates me to use concise language to portray my characters and their lives. Linda Urban creates vivid imagery with so few words it’s downright inspirational (once I get over the feelings of intimidation). Plus, can I just say Wheeler Diggs is one of the best boy characters ever? I have a mad crush on him and wish he’d been my friend in elementary school.

    EMMA-JEAN LAZARUS FELL OUT OF A TREE by Lauren Tarshis

    Again, another book that tugs at your heartstrings while making you laugh out loud. Emma-Jean is a true original and her socially awkward take on middle school gets the reader rooting for her. This book inspires me because the plot isn’t filled with cliffhangers and sword fights, but is merely, yet powerfully, the story of a girl learning how to form new relationships.

    HOW TO STEAL A DOG by Barbara O’Connor

    The premise of this book, a destitute family living in a car, could easily drag a story into such a dark place a reader wouldn’t want to follow. But Georgina’s story is told in such a humorously matter-of-fact way, you can’t help but go along for the ride. Especially with an opening like this: The day I decided to steal a dog was the same day my best friend, Luanne Godfrey, found out I lived in a car. Barbara O’Connor knows how to raise the stakes and increase tension, and I take a peek at this story to help me do the same.

    So what about you? Are there books you keep on hand to get you over the rough spots of a draft or revision? Stories you return to because they remind you what it’s like being eleven? What books inspire you as a reader and/or writer?

    Tracy Abell continues to read and read in order to soak up inspiration. She also writes and writes, in hopes of someday achieving her own literary greatness.

     

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