Browsing the blog archives for October, 2012.

  • 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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  • And the lucky library is…


    We tallied up the 1,947 votes we received for our Great Library Giveaway, and I am pleased to announce that our 97-book collection of middle-grade titles will be sent to the library at

    Gateway College Preparatory

    in Georgetown, Texas!

    Sunrise over Gateway College Prep. Photo by Gateway College Preparatory. used by permission.

    Congratulations, Gateway!

    I know we’ve said it a dozen times, but we really do want to thank all the authors, publishers, readers, and our own Mixed-Up contributors for their donations.  We also want to thank our readers for nominating and voting for such worthy libraries.  We’ve had so much fun reading about all the libraries and seeing your enthusiasm.If you’ve enjoyed this giveaway, too, please let us know.  We are considering making this as an annual event, but we’d love your input.

    Congrats again to Gateway, and thanks to everyone for helping us help  a library in need!

    And Happy Halloween, too!


    Voting Ends TODAY!


    Flickr photo by Teresa Thompson

    Don’t forget that voting for our Great Library Giveaway ends tonight at 11:59pm Pacific time.  If you haven’t voted yet, please do so by looking to the left of this post.  The voting poll is at the top of our left sidebar.

    If you’d like to know a little more about our three finalists, please go here.  Tomorrow we’ll announce the winning library.

    Thanks to everyone for participating in our giveaway by either nominating, voting, or donating a book!



    Making a Promise

    Writing MG Books

    I feel a bit stupid, sitting here, staring at my keyboard, wondering how to begin a post about beginnings. But maybe that’s the way it should be. Because writing beginnings is hard work. Well, let me rephrase that—writing good beginnings is hard work. That’s probably why this beginning sucks. Because I didn’t really work all that hard at it. I’d apologize, but I’m on a tight schedule and don’t have time to be sorry.


     Anyway, I don’t know about you, but I love it when I pick up a book and the first few lines pull me so completely into the story that I know I’m in for a journey I won’t soon forget. The opening provides the author’s promise of great things to come.

     Wendy Mass made me a promise about a month ago. But actually it wasn’t only one promise. It was three. And all three promises came from her novel Every Soul a Star.

     No, I didn’t reread the opening paragraph three times. At least if I did, that’s not what I’m talking about. Wendy Mass made three promises because she wrote three beginnings, choosing to tell her story from the perspectives of three different kids—Ally, Bree, and Jack. Each of them gets his or her very own Chapter 1. Let’s look at the three beginnings and consider how they manage to make such great promises to the reader.

     Chapter 1: Ally
          In Iceland, fairies live inside of rocks. Seriously. They have houses in there and schools and amusement parks and everything.
          Besides me, not many people outside of Iceland know this. But you just have to read the right books and it’s all there. When you’re homeschooled . . .

     Chapter 1: Bree
          I was switched at birth.
          There’s no other explanation for how I wound up in this family. My physicist parents are certified geniuses with, like, a zillion IQ points between them and all these grants to study things like dark matter and anti-matter, which are apparently very different things. . . .

     Chapter 1: Jack
          My father has no head.
          Well, of course he HAS one, but I’ve never seen it. All I’ve seen is about a hundred photos of the rest of his body. . . .

     These could be the beginnings to three different books, and I’d want to read all three of them. That’s because each beginning makes a tremendous promise, giving a glimpse into a character who will drive the story forward.

     In each beginning, the point of view is clear, and the presence of voice is hard to miss. Reread those three beginnings. It doesn’t require much imagination to hear each character speaking to you. But these openings provide more than clear points of view and engaging voice. They also reveal just enough characterization and plot that I’m compelled to keep reading.

     Ally? She seems to believe some strange things. Plus, I learn she’s homeschooled.

     Bree? She’s got, like, that slightly ditzy way of talking, and she, like, doesn’t seem to think she’s too smart compared to her parents.

     And Jack? For some reason, his dad’s out of the picture. Literally.

     So when you’re working to craft the perfect beginning to your story, look closely at your opening lines. Do they establish the point of view? A believable voice? Do they provide a hint of your characterization and plot? If so, you’ve probably crafted a great beginning. And once you’ve made a promise like that, you might as well keep writing.

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