• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Authors > Interview with Return To Exile Author, Eric Patten
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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:
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    August 6, 2013:
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    July 2, 2013:
    Penguin & Random House Merger

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    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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Interview with Return To Exile Author, Eric Patten

Authors, Giveaways, Interviews

I know what you’re thinking.  And yes, it’s another interview.  But it’s not just ANY interview.  This is a super-kewl-you-almost-forgot-it-was-an-interview interview.

Today I’ve captured, tied-up, and threatened with every inch of his life got Eric Patten, author of the majorly epic middle-grade novel, Return to Exile.

From EJ Patten’s blog:

Snare 1: Return to Exile


Eleven years ago, a shattered band of ancient monster hunters captured an unimaginable evil and Phineas T. Pimiscule rescued his nephew, Sky, from the wreckage of that great battle. For eleven years, Sky Weathers has studied traps, puzzles, science, and the secret lore of the Hunters of Legend believing it all a game. For eleven years, Sky and his family have hidden from dark enemies while, unbeknownst to Sky, his uncle Phineas sacrificed everything to protect them.
For eleven years, Sky Weathers has known nothing of that day.
But on the eve of Sky’s twelfth birthday and his family’s long-awaited return to the town of Exile, everything changes. Phineas has disappeared, and Sky finds himself forced to confront the mysterious secrets he’s denied for so long: why did his family leave Exile on that day so long ago? What, exactly, has Phineas been preparing him for? And, the biggest mystery of all, who is Sky really and why does everyone want to kill him?!
Featuring an action-packed plot that covers the gamut of every monster you’ve never heard of (not to mention weird powers and weapons made out of garbage), Return to Exile is brimming with boy and girl appeal and is a gem for reluctant young readers. And, with a diverse assortment of well-aged monster hunters in the cast, this series will be a hit with adults young and old as well.  Recommended for ages 9+.


So now that you know about his book, it’s time to get to know the author!  Eric’s been forced agreed to answer some questions for all of our Mixed-Up readers! 

Me:  Most authors come up with scenes for their books in various places….like stalking, watching people in the park. I prefer standing on my head and whistling Dixie while eating chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting and rainbow sprinkles. How about you?

Eric:  Hmm…nothing too odd. I usually just frequent the run-of-the-mill places writers often go: haunted basements, castle dungeons—our secret moon base in the fields of ruin.

Me:  *taps chin pensively*

Eric:  Though, for The Legend Thief (Hunter Chronicles, Book 2, which comes out December 4, 2012), I did spend a lot of time in the wilderness. My backyard goes right up into the mountains with their prairie grass and scrub oak forests, and occasionally, I would climb into the foothills with my laptop, take in the city below, and fight off bears with my bullwhip and unnatural good-looks and charm. Well, with a bullwhip, at any rate.

Me:  Ah yes, the good old, charm, good-looks and bullwhip technique.  Very effective.

Eric:  I also spent a few weeks at a ranch in the sandstone hoodoos of southern Utah. I’m actually allergic to just about everything outdoors—I get the sniffles something fierce—but I love looking at it through the window of an air-conditioned room while sitting in a hot tub and eating dark chocolate bars.

Me:  I think I’m in love.  He said CHOCOLATE.

*ignores awkward silence*

Me:  Anywho… I like talking to the voices in my head. They make great companions when I’m not eating cupcakes…or wearing a toga to go people stalking watching. Do you enjoy talking to your characters, too? And what, praytell, do they whisper back to you? Hmmm….??

Eric:  You wear a toga to go stalking? That sounds comfortable. I’ve always wondered, are those machine washable or dry clean only?

Me:  Wash-n-wear, baby!

Eric:  When I hear voices, I like to go to the secret moon base. The voices never bother me there. Apparently, they can’t breathe moon air. Stupid voices.

Me:  Stupid voices, indeed!  Personally, I favor chatting with these people in public, even if I do get strange looks. Do you prefer conversing in private or are you okay looking like the crazy bag lady – er, man – in public?

Eric:  Have you seen my goatee? I get crazy looks whether I’m talking to myself or not. I figure, why not get a cat, a hairnet, and a nice bag—maybe one from Target, or the Gap—and go for the whole shebang?

Me:  None of the above will be used as evidence against you in the court of law. Where were you Friday night, the 6th of October, 2011?

Eric:  Er…moon base?

Me:  Ah-ha!  Friday was actually the 7th!

*ignores chirping of crickets*

Me:  So…do you have children and do they enjoy reading your books?

Eric:  I have three kids, ages nine, seven, and five. Return to Exile is my debut and so far, only my nine-year-old daughter, Jordan, has read it. I think Return to Exile ranks third on her list, right behind Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series, and Avi’s The Good Dog.

Yes, she gave me the bronze medal.

Me:  Huh.  Well, at least you placed.  So anything prophetic you’d like to share with us before we bid you adieu?

Eric:  An author is never an author in his or her own home. I have no idea what that means, but I wanted to end with something that sounded deep. So, there you are.

Me:  And there you have it folks!  Straight from the author’s handkerchief-stuffed mouth.

But seriously, I want to thank Eric for humoring me today.  He’s my kind of guy.  I think we’d get along just fine, if he’d ever stop running away from me.

Eric is so epic, he’s offering up a 10 page crit to one of our readers!  Yes, you heard me correctly – a TEN PAGE CRIT!  From one author to another, I know how generous this is.  So if you’re a writer and want to win a crit from an epic author, then you should leave a comment!  But seeing as I’ve already won the crit, it’s kind of pointless.  Seriously though I can’t win – I work here.   But if I don’t win, everyone’s fired!  Seriously, I don’t have the authority to do that.  But….so yeah….

I dare you to enter.  Triple dawg dare.

If you’d like to see other blogs that Eric will be visiting this month, be sure to check the calendar!

Amie Borst writes fairy tales with a twist.  She’d love for you to visit her at her blog http://amie-borst.com and join her crazy corner of the cyberverse, complete with jokes and dancing skeletons.  But you won’t find any damsels in distress there – only butt-kicking, smart-talking girls with attitudes!

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