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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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  • Star Struck at SCBWI-LA

    Miscellaneous, Writing MG Books

    Lin Oliver (co-founder of SCBWI and master of ceremonies extraordinaire) opened the 2012 SCBWI conference in LA with a tribute to the Olympics.  After lighting a torch (match) there was a parade of athletes (faculty members) up to the podium (stage.)  Then each faculty took to the microphone with a single word of inspiration .  There were lots of great word choices, of course, but none that spoke to they way I felt the entire weekend.

     Star Struck.

    It wasn’t just the big name publishers, although there were lots of those.  The first keynote was delivered by Arthur Levine (VP at Scholastic and publisher of his own imprint) who talked about what makes a book timeless:

    1. They have deep insight into the human condition and connect with the reader on a personal level
    2. They contain humor that is routed in essential truths and ironies
    3. They use anticipation rather than suspense

    Neal Porter (editorial director of his own imprint at Roaring Book Press) and Laura Goodwin (VP and publisher of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers) joined the editor’s panel in discussing the writer/editor relationship and the difference between critic and editor.  Essentially, editing is something that has to be done, by you and by others, in order to make your book really great.  This sometimes means putting aside your inner critic and letting go of the ego associated with your work.

    Star Struck.

    It wasn’t just the highly coveted agents, although there were lots of those.  In the agent’s panel, they talked about doing your homework, taking your time, polishing your craft, researching COMP books, being aware of sales tracking/book scan numbers, establishing a body of work so agents can see your career path, and determining the best way to spend your time.

    The Agents Panel with Lin Oliver (moderator), Jill Corcoran (The Herman Agency),  Deborah Warren (East West Literary), Linda Pratt (Wermick & Pratt), and Josh Adams (Adams Literary)

     

    Star Struck.

    It wasn’t just the magnificently talented illustrators, although there were lots of those.  Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles) gave the funniest keynote of the conference with a description of his favorite fictional characters from childhood: Dorothy, Wendy, and Alice who all travel to faraway places and have amazing adventures but really just want to go home.  Bryan Collier (Dave the Potter) gave the most moving keynote but I can’t tell you about it because my notes were ruined by tears.  Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back) charmed the audience when he spoke about his first book idea which came to him so magically that he’s spent days wandering around his house wearing the same clothes trying to re-create the experience ever since.

    Star Struck.

    It wasn’t just the best-selling, award winning authors, although there were plenty of those as well.  There was Patty MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall) who talked about her own childhood experiences and those of her grandchildren to make the point that “the child endures in all things.”  There was Dan Gutman (My Weird School) who encouraged the audience to “use your strength and don’t write for everyone.”  There was Karen Cushman (The Midwife’s Apprentice) who advised us to “connect the passion and the prose.”  There was Clare Vanderpool (Moon Over Manifest) who told us to embrace the chaos and pay attention.  There was Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) who shocked the audience sharing her experience at an abandoned Soviet prison where she volunteered to be starved, beaten, and sleep deprived to bring emotional truth to her family’s story of being Lithuanian refugees during the Stalin regime.  And there was Gary Schmidt (The Wednesday Wars) who gave the final keynote and lead an amazing intensive on “Your Narrator, Your Point of View, and You.”

     

    Kari-lynn Winters (also picture with me above), Debbie Oh, and Eliza Seanson-Wheeler at the Hippie Hop which featured a flash mob, lots of great costumes, yummy mexican food and dancing at the hotel poolside.

     

     

    Star Struck.

    It wasn’t the TV and movie producers there to talk to agents about buying the screen rights to books or the professional baseball players I met in the lobby or even the actors attending because they too want to write for kids… although there were some of those (this was LA, after all.)

    It was the sum of all those things.  But more than anything it was being surrounded by so many people who are passionate about producing great books for kids.  The conference made me want to be a better writer and the faculty members gave me the tools I needed to do so.  And above all, inspiration.

    Yolanda Ridge is the author of two middle grade novels, Trouble in the Trees (Orca Book Publishers, 2011) and Road Block (Orca Book Publishers, 2012), and recipient of the Martha Weston Grant which allowed her to attend her first international SCBWI conference.  Photos courtesy of Debbie Ridpath Ohi, illustrator of I’M BORED

    12 Comments

    6 Comments

    1. sheelachari  •  Sep 11, 2012 @8:42 am

      I think it’s very important to connect both online and offline in real time with people. It sounds like you had a fabulous experience, Yolanda!

      Congratulations on wining the Martha Weston Grant – see, you are a star, too!

      Yolanda Ridge Reply:

      Thanks Sheela!

    2. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Sep 11, 2012 @12:30 pm

      Sounds like a fantastic time. Thanks for sharing!

      Yolanda Ridge Reply:

      Thanks for helping me get the post up, Karen!

    3. Ali B  •  Sep 11, 2012 @2:23 pm

      It sounds like you enjoyed the conference as much as I did.

      Yolanda Ridge Reply:

      Hopefully our paths will cross next time!

    4. Kari-Lynn Winters  •  Sep 11, 2012 @2:25 pm

      A great weekend. Can’t wait for next year.

      Yolanda Ridge Reply:

      It was great connecting with you, Kari-Lynn! Hope to see you again soon!

    5. Clare Di Liscia Baird  •  Sep 11, 2012 @4:04 pm

      Yolanda, it was fantastic meeting you! Hope to see you in New York!

      Yolanda Ridge Reply:

      Great to meet you too! Saving all my pennies for another conference but don’t think I’ll make it to NY. Stay in touch!

    6. Linda Andersen  •  Sep 11, 2012 @8:08 pm

      Yolanda,
      Congratulations on receiving the Martha Weston Grant which enabled you to attend the SCBWI Conference in LA.

      Yolanda Ridge Reply:

      Thanks Linda!