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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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  • Writing and Walking

    Inspiration, Writing MG Books

    I try to walk every day. Outside. Without a phone in my hand or headphones plugged into my ears. Just me, and the path ahead.

    Because I live in the Chicago area, this can get a little challenging in the winter, but I still try to get out and walk, sometimes stamping through the snow and braving the wind chill, maybe lasting only fifteen minutes.

    I’m one of those writers who finds that time away from the keyboard is actually some of my best writing time. It’s then that the characters and plot and setting and dialogue that have been bouncing around in my head seem to straighten out and make some sense.

    I’m not alone in this belief.

    “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow,” wrote Henry Thoreau. Well-known walking writers include Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, William Wordsworth, Henry James, Thomas Mann, and Joyce Carol Oates.

    So what is it about getting outside and moving your feet that helps get those creative juices flowing?

    Research is finding that walking allows the brain to work in a different way. Walking has been shown to improve the ability to shift between modes of thought, increase attention and memory, and allow us to recover from mental fatigue, all of which are important when creating. And walking has another benefit — it elevates our mood.

    I’ve found this to be true, as well — when I get too busy doing, I don’t dedicate enough time to thinking.

    I know that after sitting for hours at my desk, fingers curled around the keyboard, staring at the screen, I feel instantly better the moment I get outside. When I walk, my mind has time to meander. To roam and wander and stroll along, with nothing awaiting my attention. At least for the next hour or so.

    The beauty of walking is that all you need are a good pair of shoes. You don’t need to take lessons or join a club or pay a membership fee. And you can do it whenever!

    If all this isn’t enough to convince you to close that document and open your front door right now, there’s another benefit to walking around your neighborhood. What you observe, feel, hear, and smell can find its way into your work in progress! I’ve had this happen a number of times.

    Are you a walking writer? Have you found it helpful in your work? Leave a comment and share your thoughts. That is, when you get back inside.

    Michele Weber Hurwitz, the author of Calli Be Gold (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House 2011) and a forthcoming middle grade novel in 2014, is on her way out for a walk. Visit her at www.micheleweberhurwitz.com.

     

    18 Comments

    10 Comments

    1. Kate Hannigan  •  Nov 19, 2012 @10:59 am

      I couldn’t agree more, Michele! I take my characters out for a good airing every day, walking the same route so that I can devote my brain space to dialogue and plotting! Not to mention thinking about the sounds leaves crunching underfoot, the smell of rain in the air or fireplaces in winter. I agree that it’s great for all the senses, and that can help color our writing.

      Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

      @Kate Hannigan, I walk the same route every day too! And I’ve been known to talk aloud, so my neighbors probably think I’m nutty! And yes, totally agree about the sounds and smells!

    2. Pat Wooldridge  •  Nov 19, 2012 @11:09 am

      A good walk really clarifies my mind. It’s easy to get lost in words, ideas, and the indoor chores sandwiched in between. Whole days can be eaten up with all that. I can forget to get out of the chair, get out, get active. Once I AM out and moving, I wonder why I didn’t give in sooner! And, yes, after a good, long, fast walk, everything does go easier with the writing and the artwork. It’s a lesson I seem to have to learn repeatedly. (WHY is that? Especially when, as Kate says, all our senses come alive with the sounds, sights and aromas all around us as we walk along).

      Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

      @Pat Wooldridge, Agree completely! Darn those chores, they get in the way of everything!

    3. Jill  •  Nov 19, 2012 @8:27 pm

      Thank you for this post.
      I often read about people running or going to the gym…makes me feel guilty just for my lazily slow walking (in bitter cold weather, dressed like a snowman!)…but now i know i’m not alone. Walking and writing ….luv it.

      Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

      @Jill, And have you noticed how much happier walking people seem, as compared to runners? We smile at each other!

    4. Marilee Haynes  •  Nov 19, 2012 @9:59 pm

      I love taking my characters for a walk – or a run. Sadly for me, however, I’ve find that I do my best plot unraveling when I’m scrubbing bathrooms or vacuuming:)

      Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

      @Marilee Haynes, Haha! I’ll have to try that!

    5. Julie Mata  •  Nov 19, 2012 @11:02 pm

      Yes! I’ve always loved walking, even as a teenager I felt a great need to take walks. When I went through particularly bad times, I walked. I enjoy finding new paths, new roads, and they say doing something in a new or different way is also good for the brain. Glad to hear it’s a writer thing!

      Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

      @Julie Mata, Sometimes the simplest endeavors are the best cure! Thanks!

    6. PragmaticMom  •  Nov 20, 2012 @8:15 am

      I think best when I am walking my dog off leash on a hike. I use crampons over my boots to navigate the ice during the winter and just wear tons of layers to last for one hour in the cold.

      Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

      @PragmaticMom, Sounds invigorating!

    7. Deb A. Marshall  •  Nov 20, 2012 @9:27 am

      I am a walking writer who has stopped walking. Thanks for the reminder to walk away from the computer and…write!

      Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

      @Deb A. Marshall, Yay!

    8. Dianna Winget  •  Nov 20, 2012 @9:29 am

      I can totally relate to your post, Michele. I live in North Idaho and try to walk for thirty minutes every day year round. I don’t mind tromping through the snow, but a steady rain usually makes me stay inside. It’s funny how it makes me feel guilty though! But I agree that walking clears your head and makes you feel better. I’ve written many story scenes and worked through difficult plot challenges while walking.

      Michele Weber Hurwitz Reply:

      @Dianna Winget, I know, about the rain! That’s the one thing that keeps me inside too. And I just can’t bear to walk in a mall.

    9. Donna Gephart  •  Nov 22, 2012 @8:24 pm

      Definitely a walking writer. Or a jogging writer. Or a biking writer. Being out in nature is very good for the creative mind. Thanks for this post!

    10. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Nov 22, 2012 @8:43 pm

      I love walking! And it’s true that it does help stimulate ideas and clarify problems. I’m also a gal who figures out story snags while cleaning toilets – oddly enough! The mindless chores are good for daydreaming.