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    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 ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...


    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...


    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories,


    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...


    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...


    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…


    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...


    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...


    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...


    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...


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Listen Up, Writers: Take a Walk!

Inspiration, Miscellaneous

I am a writer and an athlete. I’m also prone to bouts of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that crush my motivation to write or exercise. And as those who suffer SAD or depression will tell you, the longer you go without doing something, the harder it is to get started again.

I’d heard about treadmill desks from Mixed-Up Files alum Hélène Boudreau and had it in my head the desk had to be attached to the treadmill. But I didn’t want an attached desk because I use my treadmill to run, and so never pursued the idea. Flash forward to the end of October when I was curled up on the couch, berating myself for being a non-writing, gelatinous waste of humanity. The thought of the long, dark months ahead had me in tears.

I needed to do something.

I remembered the walking/writing idea and did a little research. Guess what? Treadmill desks do not have to be attached! Treadmill desks can be free-standing shelving!

I went to a restaurant supply store and bought two 14” x 48” shelves and four poles for about $60. I thought I wanted shelves that were only as wide as the treadmill but am glad I was forced to get the 48” size because it turned out that extra room is great for my water bottle, dictionary, notebook, etc. I recommend getting two shelves so you have extra space but also because the second shelf makes the “desk” more stable. This type of shelving is fully adjustable so you can tweak the height until it feels comfortable. (We had an extra ping-pong table net and I attached that to the poles to create a backstop so I don’t have to worry about knocking my laptop onto the treadmill).

So far I’ve walked 47 miles and logged over 2,600 minutes of walking and writing time. I use a spreadsheet to keep track of my sessions, including calories burned (7,050!) In addition to those stats, here’s what I’ve learned:

  • It’s important to take frequent eye breaks. Every ten minutes or so I look up and out my window where I’m fortunate enough to see things like this:
  • Because I’m a runner and geared for “faster/farther,” I initially also had that attitude for walking and writing. Wrong! I learned the hard way it’s best if I work in 60 minute sessions at the slowest speed: 1.0. This means I walk exactly one mile in one hour, but it also means I don’t suffer eye strain and upset stomach. I do, however, set my incline at 3.5 because that’s most comfortable for me. (Note: my heightened vision sensitivity may be due to the progressive lenses I wear and you may find you don’t have any problem walking faster and/or longer. The key is building slowly.)
  • It’s helpful to increase the screen magnification.
  • There are days the treadmill seems extra creaky and loud, so I keep earplugs handy.
  • When I’ve reached my walking/writing quota I stand on the unmoving treadmill to continue working because while walking beats standing, standing beats sitting.

Verdict? My mental, emotional, and physical health improved via the treadmill desk. You know what else happened? (Beside gaining a new-found evangelism for treadmill desks? Ahem.) My writing life has improved. I’m writing more consistently and the writing feels stronger. My current work-in-progress is more cohesive than the second drafts of other manuscripts I wrote while sitting. Granted, much of that is due to writing from an outline for the first time, (HA!) but I also believe my brain is working in different ways. Now when I’m stuck, I walk slowly and gaze at the finches and clouds as I work out the solution. I don’t quit and go visit the refrigerator. I don’t quit and check my email.

I don’t quit.

(Speaking of email, when I first mentioned having a treadmill desk my spouse wondered if I’d want internet connection in our basement and I said, “Absolutely not!”)

The walking/writing has also reignited my exercise routine. I’m back to daily yoga and runs, and even hooped outside one warm afternoon. I’m no longer the weepy woman on the couch. I realize converts can be an annoying species, but hope you’ll look beyond my zealotry and consider incorporating a treadmill desk in your life.

Remember: when you walk and write, you’re always moving forward.

Tracy Abell plans to walk and write her way through her latest middle-grade novel which she hopes doesn’t end up being the equivalent of walking to her former home in Alaska.

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