• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Authors > Community-Building at KidLitCon 2012
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    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 ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...

     

    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...

     

    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories, read more...

     

    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...

     

    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...

     

    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…

     

    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...

     

    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...

     

    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...

     

    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...

     

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Community-Building at KidLitCon 2012

Authors, friendships, Giveaways, Industry News, Librarians, Parents, Teachers, Trends

KidLitosphere Conference

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to tell you about a beautiful fall day last week when kidlit bloggers came from all around the country to talk about their favorite subject: children’s and teen books. Along with librarians, authors, school teachers, agents, and publishers, three Mixed-Up Files members were there, too. Us, three that is.

Michelle Schusterman, Sayantani DasGupta, and Sheela Chari talk about community-building and the Mixed-Up Files at KidLitCon 2012

At this year’s KidLitCon held at the New York Public Library, Michelle, Sayantani, and I shared our experiences in community-building on the blog and off the blog, using our collective Mixed-Up Files experiences. Not only that, there was KidLit Jeopardy, live tweeting, and prizes we handed out to our Jeopardy winners and 3 tweeters in the audience chosen at random!

Books by Mixed_Up Files authors that we gave away at our presentation. All right!

We split our presentation into three parts – building, sustaining, and expanding your blogging community. Michelle started us off, using her previous experience as a founder of the group blog, YA Highway, to talk about how to build a blog, find friends instead of just followers, seek IRL or in-real-life interactions, and learn how to balance it all by finding the right methods of communication for yourself and taking time to unplug and recharge.

Over twitter, audience members in the room responded to our question:

What’s the best place for a meet-up? #mglitchat

 ‏@ohmiagarcia: cafe! Coffee is always a must.

 ‏@celialarsen: virtually: twitter; in person: a place that serves alcohol!

‏@SleepingAnna: depends on your group: living room to coffee shop to Skype!

‏@RobertFWalsh: Bill Gate’s basement. Failing that, his garage. (Note: I’m no longer welcome there.)

Next, I talked about sustaining a community – finding ways to keep your readers coming back. I focused on giveaways, something we’ve done frequently at the Mixed-Up Files, and shared two major ones: The Great Library Giveaway and Skype Author Visits. I talked about how giveaways, while fun, don’t always generate enough traffic on their own. But with some planning and innovation, and by looking at the big-picture, you can still have successful giveaways that benefit more than just the winner but the community, too. It was especially to nice to share the successes of the 2010 Library Giveaway, where we gave away 70 brand-new library books to a library in need.

Psst… we have a new goal this year of 100 – so if you are interested in donating a book or nominating a deserving library, details are at those afore highlighted links.

I also shared some of the joys and challenges of Skype visits – and even tried to enact a real-live Skype conversation with Elissa Cruz in front of everyone – but the technological gods were not on my side and the call didn’t go through. But never fear! We continued on gallantly!

During this part of the presentation we asked over twitter:

how do you get readers excited about a giveaway?#mglitchat

‏@celialarsen: post link to contest in various places, offer swag/book of choice.

@SleepingAnna: Get the readers excited about giveaway! Thru info and fun contest!

@LeeandLow: Re giveaways: “Don’t have to give things away. Good content has more reach than giveaways.”

‏@RobertFWalsh: Giveaways should involve George Clooney. Or tickets to a Notre Dame football game. (Hint: my wife suggested 1 of these)

Sayantani ended the last part of presentation with a look at diversity in blogging. She suggested that expanding a blog’s readership with an eye to diversity means paying attention to who writes for the blog, and what they write for the blog – including a diverse blend of interviews, booklists, and general posts focusing on issues such as gender or multiculturalism. This also means diversifying who is on your blogging team. She gave the example of the Mixed-Up Files application process, our methods for scheduling posts through a message forum and calendar, and stressed the need for a robust membership committee that doesn’t always agree on everything.

She also talked about diverse content and shared several booklists from our blog that cover a broad range of interests, from books for boys, books for girls, books about disability, strong girl characters, and books by debut authors.

During Sayantani’s section, we asked tweeters:

What does diversity in blogging mean to you?#mglitchat

@SleepingAnna: Variety of ages, professions, opinions, interests. Ex: food story time entry read by a cook!

Yin (Perrine Wynkel), via paper and pencil: Diversity engenders a collision of different perspectives and ideas, which increases the possibility of something new and exciting and fascinating being created – new avenues of thought.

All in all, we had a fantastic time at KidLitCon, meeting so many wonderful bloggers and children’s lit enthusiasts. We feel especially lucky to have the chance to share some of our blog’s successes and challenges. Thanks so much to everyone who came out to hear our presentation! And thank you to all the wonderful Mixed Up Files authors who donated their books for our giveaway! And for those of you who weren’t able to attend, here’s three of the Jeopardy questions we asked attendees — test your knowledge of all things Mixed Up Files and leave your thoughts below in the comments section! (answers in form of a question, please):

Jeopardy “Answer” 1: The name of the statue at the center of the mystery in “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”

Jeopardy “Answer” 2: The names of the two children in “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”

Jeopardy “Answer” 3: The day and time #MGLITCHAT convenes to talk about all things middle grade

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

—————————

Sheela Chari is the author of VANISHED (Disney Hyperion). You can watch her this morning on the TODAY Show with Al Roker.

Sayantani DasGupta is the co-author of The Demon Slayers and Other Stories: Bengali Folktales (Interlink, 1995), the author of a memoir on race and gender in medical education, and co-editor of an award winning collection of women’s illness narratives.  She likes to tweet, blog, and otherwise blather.

Michelle Schusterman  is the author of the I HEART BAND series (Penguin, 2014). She’s currently living in Queens, and she blogstweets, and Tumblrs.

12 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Liz  •  Oct 4, 2012 @8:20 am

    Thanks for a great presentation, Sheela! My blog is also a group blog, so it was helpful to have tips on how to manage that. Also, thanks again for making me the lucky winner of your book–can’t wait to read it! (I think it’s coming with me on a road trip this weekend…)

    Sheela Chari Reply:

    @Liz, So glad to hear from you – I was looking at your illustrations on your web site a few days ago, and they are simply wonderful! Hope you enjoy VANISHED! :)

  2. Michele Weber Hurwitz  •  Oct 4, 2012 @6:03 pm

    Great post, y’all! Thanks for representing the Mixed-Up Files peeps at KidLitCon!

    Sheela Chari Reply:

    @Michele Weber Hurwitz, Thank you, Michele! We really had a fantastic time!

  3. Linda Andersen  •  Oct 5, 2012 @8:02 am

    What a great conference idea! Way to go! Thanks for posting this. I learn so much at From the Mixed Up Files site. Love you all!

  4. Sayantani DasGupta  •  Oct 5, 2012 @8:52 am

    Aw, many thanks Linda! We had so much fun and appreciate your enthusiastic support as ever!

  5. Yolanda Ridge  •  Oct 5, 2012 @10:46 am

    Sounds like a great presentation! Thanks for doing such a great job of representing The Mixed-Up Files at KidLitCon!

    Sheela Chari Reply:

    @Yolanda Ridge, Thank you! :)

  6. PragmaticMom  •  Oct 5, 2012 @12:23 pm

    I wanted to attend so reading this post is the next best thing! Next year!

    Sheela Chari Reply:

    @PragmaticMom, I talked about you and my skype visit with your daughter’s class as a great synergy between me, MUF, and your blog. You were there with us in spirit!

  7. Charlotte  •  Oct 5, 2012 @7:17 pm

    Thank you so much for the great presentation, especially the fun Jeopardy game! I love my signed copy of The False Prince–it’s one of my favorite books of the year.

  8. Sheela Chari  •  Oct 5, 2012 @10:40 pm

    @Charlotte, Goodness – I wish I had known you were you! I love your blog! Thanks for being there at our presentation.