• OhMG! News


    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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  • I’ll catch up as soon as my Flux Capacitor is fixed…

    Inspiration, Miscellaneous, Op-Ed, Writing MG Books

    So there I was, walking to the record store to buy a new 45 when this guy from the future parked his Delorean on the street right next to me. I tried to get a picture, but my camera was completely out of film. I ran to the phone to call my mom, but I was out of quarters, too! I sighed. All I knew, as soon as I got home I was writing my best friend at camp. She’d never believe this. I just wished it wouldn’t take four whole days for the letter to reach her!

    Okay, if that paragraph made the least bit of sense to you, then you’re probably over the age of 30. Or, really into history. (Ancient history, if you happen to be a middle-grader.) Because let’s face it, when it comes to technology — be it music, computers, cell phones — change happens faster than some guy speeding through time in his souped-up Delorean.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against change. (If not for change, I’d still be sporting a really bad perm and blue eyeshadow and aspiring to be an MTV veejay.) But rapid changes in technology do present an interesting dilemma to the writer — something I got to thinking about while reading a popular MG series recently with my 10-year-old son. In one book, a key plot point centered around the protagonist’s brother working in a film developing lab. No biggie, right? Except about halfway through the book, I came to realize my son had absolutely no freaking clue what a film developing lab was. Our subsequent conversation went something like this:

    Son: Hey, what’s film?

    Me (incredulous): The stuff you put in cameras.

    Son: You put stuff in cameras?

    Me: Yeah, to record the pictures.

    Son: Oh. So it’s like an SD card? (Pause) I don’t get it. Why do you need a lab then? Don’t those things plug right into the computer?

    (Mom’s old head hits the desk.)

    Amazing. In the span of less than ten years, one book managed to become completely dated… And actually on the verge of not making any sense. Not because the writer used some obsolete pop reference (I mean, we all know better than to go tossing in a little Right Said Fred, lest we want to peg our book squarely in dark ages of the early nineties). Rather, because the author included a bit of technology that seemed entirely relevant at the time. I cringe thinking how much my main characters actually IM each other in my first book (my proverbial drawer novel, where it will likely live forever). I suppose I could go back and change all those IMs to texts. But no doubt they’ll go the way of the telegram someday, too. Replaced by what, I don’t know. A chip in the head that transmits messages straight to your brain?

    And the funny thing is, technology doesn’t just date a novel. It can help drive plot, too. Just imagine if Harry, Hermione and Ron had Google. Or e-mail. No more hours searching for answers in the forbidden stacks of the library. No more post owls. (Okay, so I don’t really want to imagine that so much.) But what if Judy Blume’s Wendy had a computer and a YouTube account? Cyber-bully, anyone? And I’m guessing if Claudia and Jamie tried to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of the Arts today, they’d be found almost instantly thanks to the GPS apps their parents installed on their cell phones.

    So what’s a writer to do? (Besides hiding in the corner, clutching their coffee and please-don’t-ever-let-it-become-obsolete iPhone.) It seems to me one of three things:

    • Create a whole new fantasy world, a la Harry Potter, where there is no technology to contend with… witches and wizards don’t need email. Or the internet. Or regular cameras. They have owls! They have spells! They have paintings that move and talk!
    • Head back to the future — or the past. Here, you can either make up your own technology, as in Feed. Or, just go ahead and set the whole story in some very definable point the past, as in When You Reach Me (which, of course, also featured its own futuristic time-travel technology, albeit without the Delorean).
    • Just roll with the times, knowing that inevitably they are a-changing. I mean, so what if in ten years kids don’t text anymore, right? We’ll all be ROTFL anyway. Thanks to the chips in our heads, that is.

    So how about you? How do you deal with technology when you write? Avoid? Embrace? Create your own? Please, tell me in the comments below! Or, send a post owl. That would be pretty cool, too.

    Jan Gangsei went from typing her first short story on a Brother typewriter to drafting her first novel with her thumbs on her iPhone. She couldn’t imagine ever having to use whiteout again. Also, she’s had that Maroon 5 song Payphone stuck in her head since she started writing this post. If anyone could suggest a new song, she’d appreciate it. Anything but Right Said Fred, that is.

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