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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,


    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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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.




  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.