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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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  • Revision–the BIG picture

    Inspiration, Writing MG Books

    One of the hardest parts of both finishing and revising a novel is keeping the big picture in mind–juggling all the elements so that you end up with a story-shaped book that delivers the ending you promised at the start. I’ve tried different strategies over the years and this is the one that is working pretty well for me at the moment.
    5 steps to seeing your novel as a whole

    1. Shrink your text to 8 point type, remove space between chapters and make margins as narrow as possible so that the whole novel will fit on less than 50 pages. Print it out. Put it up on a wall or lay it out on a large table or bed.

    • Observe the balance of dialog to description.
    • Notice chapter lengths relative to each other.

    2. Highlight setting descriptions

    • Are they present throughout but not large?

    3. Highlight physical intensity/action in a different color. Do the same for emotional intensity/tension and humor

    • Is there balance? Some action in every chapter; some tension in every chapter?
    • If it’s not a funny book, is humor providing a respite? If it’s a funny book, is the humor consistent throughout?

    4. Use a post it notes to mark where each character is introduced.

    • Does the main character appear in the first page or first 400 words of the book?
    • Are all the major characters introduced in the first third of the book?
    • Are there clumps of 3 or more characters introduced in a single scene?

    5. Use post it notes to mark the major events of the plot

    •   Are setting and main character established in the 1st 500 words?
    • Is the inciting incident in the first chapter?
    • Does every chapter contain an obstacle, or a reversal, or an important plot point?
    • Is there a single clear climax?
    • Does the story resolve and end shortly after that climax?

    Remember these are questions and not commandments. You may have additional questions to ask yourself or different aspects to highlight based on the type of story you are telling. It’s just a tool, so feel free to make it your own.

    This is how big picture revision looks in my office.
    This is a 45,000 word MG novel shrunk down to 34 pages. Setting details are in green, humor is pink, action is yellow, and emotional intensity is orange.
    Over the top of the highlighting I used cross-hatching to indicate view point narration. I have two view point characters. One is indicated by right slanting red lines and the other is shown with left slanting green lines. Putting the alternating point of view up on the wall like this made it clear that in the middle, the POV character is not clear. I can also see that there is too much of the red characters POV and not enough of my green character’s POV in the final section.

    I’d love to hear from you about what works for you when you are revising with the flow of the whole novel in mind. Leave your suggestions in the comments!

    9 Comments

    9 Comments

    1. Karen Schwartz  •  Sep 26, 2012 @8:20 am

      I love posts on process. I will do a version of the shrunken manuscript with summary lines of scenes and impt info on POV, time, emotional and plot changes. I will also read the whole thing in a single sitting to hold it in my mind.

    2. Michelle Schusterman  •  Sep 26, 2012 @6:14 pm

      Ditto – I love seeing how everyone writes and revises. And Rosanne, this is pretty brilliant. Pretty sure I’m going to give this a shot myself. Thanks!

    3. J Moraski  •  Sep 26, 2012 @6:28 pm

      I really needed this one today. Perfect timing for good info. Thank you!

    4. PragmaticMom  •  Sep 26, 2012 @10:19 pm

      So helpful. I sent it to a friend of mine who is writing her first book and she’s struggling with exactly this step. Thank you!

    5. T. P. Jagger  •  Sep 26, 2012 @10:45 pm

      Love it, Rosanne! I’ve done some highlighting to guide my revision before but never tried the shrunken-font-hang-it-on-the-wall approach. Very cool. Thanks for sharing your brilliance! :)

    6. Sue Cowing  •  Sep 26, 2012 @11:43 pm

      So neat and clear, Rosanne! Timely for me, too, because I started with one character POV for my next novel but decided on two in revision. A great improvement, but t’s hard to keep the structure and balance in my head, so making it visual should really help. Thanks!

    7. Dede Perkins  •  Sep 27, 2012 @7:35 am

      So simple and seemingly quite effective! I’m going to try your technique with my current wip. Thank you, Rosanne!

    8. Dianna Winget  •  Sep 27, 2012 @12:50 pm

      This is an intriguing idea, Rosanne. I’ve written several MG books and what seems to work best for me is to tweak and revise until I know it’s getting close, and then read it all in one sitting. This takes several hours straight, but if I can pull it off it really helps me to see the big picture. I can’t see it if I only read a chapter or two at a time.

    9. Mathilda Wheeler  •  Sep 30, 2012 @12:09 pm

      I’ve read about doing this, with a slight tweak–Highlight in different colors as you suggest, but on a copy of your mss in the computer, then shrink as small as possible so you really just see the colors and print out. I think you can do a full novel in ten pages this way. However, I don’t think you can actually READ it, so it may not work for the post-it additions. Thank you so much for sharing this technique!