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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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  • 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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