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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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  • Writing Retreats Part Two: Tips for planning a great retreat

    Learning Differences

    Good morning, Writers!

    After last week’s post, I received tons of private emails asking me about planning a retreat. Thanks for your interest!!  It seems clear that writers (especially far away from the East Coast) want to know how they make their own events.

    So today, I’m going to give you a few tips. (at least, the important ones)

    Note:  If it sounds like too much work, you can always call me! (I love planning these events and I don’t mind traveling!)

    For those who are ready to dive in and organize, let’s talk!

    Tip #1:

    Give yourself some time.

    For the last nine years, I’ve been a co-organizer of the Novel Writing Retreat at Vermont College of Fine Arts.  I am a big believer in the power of a safe, inspiring writing community, and it is one of the most humbling things I do—making this experience happen for others. But even with all this experience, we need time to plan. We need to contact faculty. We need to talk about lectures. We need to reach out to potential participants. Every year we take many months to plan our event. We think about everything that could happen. We stay flexible.

    If you are not flexible, this is HARD work.

    Tip #2:

    Start with a mission.

    What do you want to happen at your event? Do you want quiet time? Or lectures? Critique opportunities? Time to read out loud? Do you want to unlock the subconscious? Talk marketing?

    When I began planning the novel writing retreat at VCFA with Cindy Faughnan, we decided to offer the retreat to advanced writers. (For us that means: published writers, writers with MFA’s, or writers who have completed a draft.)  We wanted our retreat to be a time to talk craft ONLY.  Over the years, we have added a writing track to the traditional critique track. It allowed us to include more writers who might want to come hear lectures and write. Every year we evaluate what we offer and what we could offer. We look at our area and the other events. We find a time that doesn’t compete with other events.

    If you don’t know what you want to accomplish, it’s hard to market your event!

    Tip #3:

    Know your strengths.

    As an organizer, it’s good to know what you do well.

    Not good at making a schedule? Hate talking to a group? Understand what you can offer to a group and then find someone else with different skills to help you.

    I like chatting.

    Tip #4:

    Location, location, location.

    Place is important in books. It’s essential for a retreat.

    If your retreat is a small group or sleepover, a big house or hotel works fine. But for large groups, you may have to rent a space. This is a big expense, and it makes a big difference. A good facility can make add comfort or personality to your event.  It’s important to keep track of your budget, knowing you will have to pass on this expense to your retreaters.

    It’s okay to rough it, but then the retreat should cost less.

    Most important Tip #5:

    What do you want????

    And I don’t mean your characters. I mean…you. As an organizer, you can think about the other classes and conferences available to you. And you can plan your event to fill a niche. That includes bringing in faculty that YOU want to learn from.

    Be honest!

    Don’t like getting out of the house or even your PJ’s? I also teach online classes for writers.com. And I think that community is just as potent and supportive. (There is nothing more exciting than teaching! I learn so much from all my students.) If you are willing to communicate often, an online retreat can also be a great experience. For LOTS of writers.

    The final word: remember: making a retreat is a big responsibility. People spend hard earned money to attend. Writers are people with dreams and hopes. Writers often work without any feedback or recognition. When you step up to plan an event, you will have the honor to meet new people, to inspire them, to help them take the next step. This is an amazing feeling. I hope these tips inspire you to try it!

    Have a happy writing day!

     

    If you are looking for a great online class, registration is open for Sarah’s Manuscript Review at writers.com. for this September. It’s a WONDERFUL experience. Email me with q’s!

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