Hi, Mixed-Up Filer’s! May I just say MUF’s as in Moofs? Let’s go with that. I coined it, so my pronunciation.
Anyway, since this is my first real piece for MUF, other than the interview I conducted with Shana Burg, which if you haven’t read it, why on earth not?? Go on and do it now. I’ll wait………… (whistling)…………………………(glancing at my watch)……………….Ah, there you are! Welcome back! Wasn’t she great? Anyway, as I was saying, since this is my first post, I decided to ask our fearless-leader, the Lord-High, Elissa Cruz, (I’m not sure why, but that’s what she makes us call her) Anyway, I asked her what should I write about?
Her reply was a simple, “Whatever you want.”, which seeing as how that will most likely be the last time she ever tells me that, I thought I’d take advantage of her edict and figured that the best thing to do for my first piece, would be to first introduce myself, and then explain how I came to be a member of this site. And then, I will discuss resources. And what do I mean by resources? I mean, taking advantage of everything at your disposal to help on your writing.
But first let’s start with, how did I become a part of MUF? It’s kind of a funny story actually. You see, like my esteemed-colleagues, I love middle-grade books and I love to write. Also like them, I had to apply to become a member of this site. However, unlike them, I had to apply many times. Many, many times. Did I say many yet? Anyway, after my thirty-seventh application, I received a very lovely e-mail from the aforementioned Elissa Cruz, asking me, that if she agreed to let me become a part of MUF, would I please stop sending the weekly delivery of rhododendrons to her house? Well, from experience, and as Jenny Finkel, the girl who I asked to my prom over seventy-three times, can attest to, I can sense when I’ve worn someone down. So, I readily agreed and here I am!
Now, about this post. I know, I know, get to the point already, Jonathan. Well, give me a second, I was just about to! See, I love to read Middle-Grade, which I guess tends to help if you’re writing for a site dedicated to it. But, I also love to write Middle-Grade, and that’s what I want to discuss. Writing and using your resources. Resources are plentiful for writers, but I’m just going to mention a few. Let’s start with this site (shameless plug). There are many different reasons why people come to sites such as MUF, I mean besides hoping to read one of my posts. Take why I came for example. Even before I became a member of MUF, the reason I always loved coming here, was to find out about what books were out right now in Middle-Grade. Mixed-Up Files gives a really cool and in-depth monthly release list, which invariably led me to buy one or more of those titles listed…every time. Yeah, I’m like a kid and have absolutely no will-power when it comes to books. Or comics. Or DVD’s. or… Okay, yeah. I see it too. I think I just might have a problem. But anyway, I checked off what I was interested in and knew what books to be on the lookout for. And if you read the author’s interviews, you probably noticed that time and again, the thing that’s mentioned most is “How’d you get my number, Jonathan?” But after that, the other thing that was mentioned a lot, was the importance of reading in your genre. It’s good to know what’s out there. Not just to get a glimpse of the marketplace, but because reading helps you improve your own writing.
And speaking of the author interviews, they are another feature to take advantage of. Usually, the authors wind up giving tips about what helps them or about their writing routines. I realize that what works for one, might not work for others, but I think even if one thing helps, it becomes worthwhile. You just might pick up something that you haven’t considered before.
Commenting on the articles is good too. It’s never a bad thing to ask further questions and reach out to others. You might get answers to something you’re interested in or get help about an issue you’re having. And I don’t just mean this site. While, I want you to stay here and spend as much time as possible on Mixed-Up Files, check out others as well. Different sites have different perspectives. It can only help you to see what benefits you (but, of course always come back home to MUF :) )
Network and market yourself. And by networking, I don’t mean trying to make connections in order to see what somebody can do for you and help you out. Some actually do think it’s about that, but know up front, there are NO shortcuts. It’s about the work. It always comes back to that, doesn’t it? Your work. I know it may sound funny coming from someone who hasn’t been published yet, but nobody can say that I’m not putting in the work. That’s what counts in the long run. Nobody cares how many Facebook friends you have, if your story is in terrible condition. It’s how well you are able to revise and do the work and do what needs to be done to get your story in the right condition to be sold. And while the work is what counts, I’m just saying that using your resources, might make the work easier.
With that being said, still network. I know it sounds like a contradiction from the previous paragraph, but it’s not. Connect with other writers. Critique groups, conferences, etc. As for Facebook, use it! Join pages dedicated to writing. Friend other writers. I don’t mean bombarding specific writers with questions, because that’s a quick way to get unfriended. But, I am constantly amazed at how friendly the writing community is. I’ve seen people throw a writing question out as a status and been surprised by how many others rush to respond to it and help out their fellow writers. I’ve friended writers on there and discussed writing with, but haven’t yet met. And weird thing is? You come to feel close to these people and root for each other. But, if you’re a writer, you understand. You get it. Writing is a lonely, solitary profession, but perhaps could be a little less so when you’re sharing your experiences with others going through the same thing.
Well, that’s it for now. Elissa placed me on a strict word count and I’m getting close to it. It’s been a lot of fun and before I go, I’d like to first of all, thank my good friend, Lester Sherman for helping me with the research necessary for this article. But, even more important, I’d like to thank, Elissa Cruz, because in honor of my first post, she has vowed that if I receive over 500 comments from different, individual users, she will post pictures of herself wrapped like a mummy. Yes, a mummy. So, what are you waiting for? Comment away!
Jonathan Rosen is a high school English teacher, living in South Florida. He writes middle-grade geared toward boys, because he finds they share the same sensibilities and sense of humor. Jonathan has lived all over the world and is hoping to eventually find a place that will let him stay.