• OhMG! News


    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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Using Your Resources

Book Lists

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.



  1. Elissa Cruz  •  Aug 6, 2012 @9:54 am

    Jonathan Jonathan Jonathan. I said I would post of pic of myself as a MOMMY wrapped up in my work. Looks like we need to work on our communication skills. But nice job on the word count and especially my official title. ;)

    But in all seriousness, I do want to reiterate how important it is to network but to do so more as a way to build community. In my opinion, networking is not about YOU. When I teach classes on social networking, that is the first thing I bring up. Because if you are focused on yourself, you aren’t building a community.

    My two cents.

  2. JROSEN  •  Aug 6, 2012 @10:09 am

    Very good point, Elissa. I agree. And does this count as two comments?

    Elissa Cruz Reply:

    @JROSEN, No, not really. It has to be comments from people other than the two of us, silly.

    Oh, and it’s pronounced “muff”, not “moof.” ;)

  3. Jill  •  Aug 6, 2012 @12:14 pm

    Good post. Do you have a blog that chronicles your own personal writing and reading journey? I don’t do any social networking (no facebook or twitter), but I’m still so new to the writing world…so I need to absorb things and focus on the writing for a while/ long while :)

    Elissa Cruz Reply:

    @Jill, Jill, not that you asked me, but if you check the bottom of each post here, the authors who do have a blog outside this one will usually post a link there. Just thought I’d pass that info along in case you’re interested in more blogs about writing (and reading).

  4. JROSEN  •  Aug 6, 2012 @1:10 pm

    Hi Jill,

    Don’t have one, but have toyed with it for a while. I’ll post here if I do!

    Jill Reply:

    Thanks, I feel so new to all this and its fun to read others blogs (not to bother them with questions, because I wouldn’t want to be a nuisance, but just neat to see others who love books and especially MG books so much). I don’t blog (not yet anyway) because I’ve not much interest in social media things and I feel too too new to the whole writing scene.
    QUick question though: where do you get your ideas?

    JROSEN Reply:


    My head? :)

    I guess that just like everybody else, just comes. Although, I think I’m probably a little quirkier than most.

  5. Marit Menzin  •  Aug 6, 2012 @2:21 pm

    Good advice, and great post. I enjoyed reading it.

    JROSEN Reply:

    @Marit Menzin,

    Thanks, Marit!

  6. Sheri Crowley  •  Aug 6, 2012 @7:28 pm

    I’m considering getting back into writing and this article gives great tips.

    JROSEN Reply:

    @Sheri Crowley,

    Thanks, Sheri! Hope you do!

  7. Michelle Schusterman  •  Aug 6, 2012 @7:28 pm

    Great post, Johnathan!

    JROSEN Reply:

    @Michelle Schusterman,

    Thanks, Michelle!

  8. Lester Sherman  •  Aug 6, 2012 @8:05 pm

    So glad that I could help you with this post. Anything for a friend. Hope to see you with more blogs/articles. Plan on writing a book anytime soon?

    JROSEN Reply:

    @Lester Sherman,

    Don’t worry. You’ll be very involved in that too!

  9. PragmaticMom  •  Aug 6, 2012 @9:25 pm

    A mummy huh? I’d like to see that. Great advice too!

    JROSEN Reply:


    Only 484 more comments to go!

  10. Amy Honig  •  Aug 6, 2012 @11:21 pm

    Jonathan, Great stuff! It’s wonderful that you have friends like Lester Sherman who willingly puts aside his own commitments to help you with your research. I’m looking forward to reading your next post!

    JROSEN Reply:

    @Amy Honig,

    Thanks Amy,

    Lester has always been selfless.

  11. Heather Brady  •  Aug 7, 2012 @9:09 am

    Hi! Thank you for the article and the reassurance that the story is most important. An editor has suggested that I have a “middle grade voice” so I am reworking my chapter book ms at the moment (while working full-time outside the home!). I’m new to this site, and would like to network with other MG writers.

    JROSEN Reply:

    @Heather Brady,

    Hi Heather,

    Welcome aboard! Good luck with your manuscript. Definitely network with other writers. Here, Facebook, wherever you can.

    Elissa Cruz Reply:

    @Heather Brady, I’d also like to send a hearty welcome!

    If you’re a twitter person, we do have a weekly twitter chat about MG books and the craft of writing MG (#MGlitchat). You’ll meet tons of people there, too! It’s every Thursday 9pm Eastern.

    And the other place to check out, if you haven’t already, is Verla Kay’s blueboards (a message board for children’s writers and illustrators): http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php

    Good luck with your revisions and reaching out to other MG writers!

    (Oh, hey, Jonathan, sorry to butt in like that…)

  12. FUN post, Jonathan – welcome to the MUF world! And Elissa, you are also hysterically funny. Loved both your comments, too.

    I agree that the online writing world is fabulous. I’ve met so many wonderful people and made lots of great friends around the country. Unheard of when I started writing 20 + years ago. ;-)

    JROSEN Reply:

    @Kimberley Griffiths Little,

    You’re right Kimberly and thanks! Even just ten years it was very different. As you said, I also met a lot of great people this way. I’m always amazed by the relationships that can be cultivated this way.

    Elissa Cruz Reply:

    @Kimberley Griffiths Little, It is my sole purpose in this world to entertain the masses, didn’t you know?

    But the thanks should go to Jonathan. He came up with the funnies first, I just ran with what was given me. ;)

  13. Stacie Ramey  •  Aug 7, 2012 @9:30 pm

    excellent blog…hate to be serious with Jonathan for a minute, but I couldn’t agree more with what he had to say….work on your work, network by meeting writers who you mesh with, help others. But maybe all of those suggestions were really Lesters? Hard to tell, I’m sure Jonathan won’t. :)

    JROSEN Reply:

    @Stacie Ramey,

    Lester is always a fountain of ideas and we are very similar. It’s sometimes difficult to tell whose they really were.

  14. Julie  •  Aug 8, 2012 @1:43 pm

    I’m taking notes, Jonathan! Great stuff! :)

    JROSEN Reply:


    Thanks, Julie. Much appreciated!

  15. Rosemary  •  Aug 8, 2012 @8:45 pm

    Hey Jonathan, congratulations on your blogpost, great info delivered with awesome comedic flare :) Looking forward to reading more from you!

    JROSEN Reply:


    Thanks, Rosemary! I hope so. Elissa said I’m on a week to week contract. I should hear about next week by Friday. I’ll keep you posted.

  16. Dianna Winget  •  Aug 10, 2012 @11:08 am

    Welcome, Jonathan!
    I can tell you’re going to be a welcome addition to my favorite site.

    JROSEN Reply:

    @Dianna Winget,

    Thank you, Dianna!