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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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  • Guest post: S.R. Johannes: My self-pub MG journey

    Learning Differences

    My Journey in a Nutshell

    Since I got serious about writing in 2004. I’ve had 4 books go to acquisitions. Yes four. Two of those – a MG and Nonfiction book – almost sold BEFORE I had an agent. After I signed with a top agent in a top NY agency, I had TWO more books go to acquisitions with her – a tween paranormal and this book – Untraceable. The tween was in even in noncontractual revisions at a couple houses for over a year – only to not sell.

    After my agent and I parted way, I spent time wallowing in my self pity, eating chocolate, and yelling at the world from my office window. Soon I came to the conclusion these books probably did not have a future in traditional publishing –- so I went out on a limb and decided to publish it myself.

    That was a hard decision. These books were my blood, tears, sweat, fears, and dreams all bound in 300 pages.

    Stigma Of Self Publishing

    Unfortunately the view of self-pubbing is very negative. I will admit (not proudly) that I always had a negative view myself. I felt that most self-pubbed books were of a low or cheap quality and came from people who could not get published.

    Every self-pubbed book I had ever seen was someone trying to sell me a spiral bound copy from a trunk of a car or people pushing them on my at conferences or festivals. I could obviously tell were self-pubbed.

    This view was the main reason I fought self-publishing my own stuff for so long. I had been on the traditional side with an agent and going to acquisitions – so self pubbing would have been admitting to myself that I wasn’t good enough. That I had failed.

    Boy, I was so wrong.

    Did you know that the majority of the eBooks on Amazon’s top 100 are self-pubbed? Seriously, go look at it. They did it the right way so you can’t tell. Then, once you dive into the wonderful indie community, you realize that there are so many great writers out there that are self-pubbed. Not to mention famous ones. Like Christopher Paolini or John Grisham. Some choose to self-pub and some do it because traditional pubbing hasn’t worked for them for whatever reason.

    I also met a great group of girls who had self-pubbed and we created a support group called The INdelibles. Their books have all been done the right way. The professional way. And you would never know unless you knew imprints or houses.
    So, here are a few ways to get past the stigma:

    1) If you do it for 100$ it will look like a 100$ book.

    Self-Publishing is not free. There are costs involved – especially if you want to do it right. I say, you get out of it – what you put in. Do what it takes to make it right or don’t do it at all. Spend some money to make sure your book is of high quality and doesn’t look self-published then you might get your foot in the door.

    2) Everyone Judges A Book by its cover

    I think it’s critical to have a good cover that does not look self-published. A quality, high res, and unique cover. I saved money to hire a photographer to do my cover because I wanted something original and high quality. I wanted my book to blend in to the other traditional books that were so successful. I didn’t want to give anyone a chance to say – “Oh this is self pubbed”. Because then my book never gets a fair shot. And trust me, you will get turned down just because it is self-pubbed. It sucks and is totally unfair but it’s true. So make sure it looks good. The cover sells books.

    3) Don’t skip the editing

    I had my book edited by a children’s editor and then paid to have it copyedited when it was done. I’ve spent a long time on this book to make sure I was proud of it. And I am. Self-pubbing is a short cut to the long publishing process. It is NOT a short cut to writing, revising, editing, revising, and editing.

    4) Commit

    Self-pubbing is HARD. It may seem like the easy answer but it is not. You do it all ON YOUR OWN. Getting reviews, doing blog tours, cover, typography, editing, formatting. It is a long and arduous process and is a huge time commitment. Before and after you publish. It doesn’t end. Don’t do it if you don’t have the time to put into it. Don’t do it if you feel uncomfortable marketing and promoting yourself (in a classy and non pushy way).

    In The End

    This has been a hard road for me, but I’m proud of where I’ve landed. I did this book my way and I feel I did it the right way for me. I say – don’t do it just to do it – do it right.

    – Thanks, S.R!

    And now to you, TMUFers! Have you read any self-pubbed books? We’d love to know about your impressions in the comments section!

    …..

    A little about ON THE BRIGHT SIDE by S.R. Johannes!

    Gabby is a disgruntled tween angel who has just been assigned to protect her school nemesis and ex-beffie. Problem is her ex-beffie is dating Gabby’s longtime crush. Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (since when is sticking toilet paper to her shoe or spinach in her teeth a sin?) Soon, Gabby gets out of control and is put on probation by her SKYAgent, who has anger management issues of his own. Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death.
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