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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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The Writers’ TOP TEN

Authors, Inspiration, Writing MG Books

Top-10-ListI LOVE end of year top ten lists…the best and worst dressed..the most embarrassing political moments….the best/worst movies, books, etc… They are everywhere!

Which means we need one, too.

So here it is! To inspire you for a great writing year in 2013…..MY top ten list:

THE BEST ADVICE I’VE RECEIVED (and often given), 2012 EDITION!

(feel free to take it, or not!)

10. Don’t hold back that revelation! This is a big one for me. What I mean: Instead of saving it for the end of the book, USE IT NOW…and see what happens next. What you find out will ALWAYS be more interesting than what you need to fill the pages, waiting to spill that revelation.

9. TRY EVERYTHING! Do I need to explain? In my writers.com class, the writers that are getting agents/getting into MFA programs/having great years are the ones who take advice and try!!!! Even if you end up deleting the writing, you learn something new about your character!

8. Don’t write when you don’t feel safe.  This is a tough one. And very personal. Writing can be a very dangerous activity….and it can be scary. So if the kids are sick or your hubby/wife needs attention or life is hard, that comes first.

7. Plot logically. Find the easy answer. Over and over, ask yourself: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Think: action/reaction.

6. Know what your book is about. Know what you want to say. Think about this as you write. Believe in yourself.


5. An essential aspect of creativity is NOT being afraid to fail. (Actually, you have to embrace failure!!! It’s an essential part of the process. My bad drafts teach me so much!!!! Then REVISE.) Remember: if you are not willing to look stupid, nothing great will ever happen.

4. Before you work on VOICE, know what your characters want and why. Know your plot. Foundation first. Otherwise, you’re probably just making darlings. Okay?

3. Take the time to figure out what your characters have in common with you on an emotional level. It’s there! I promise!

2. Two pages a day. Every day. Make the commitment.

And the most important piece of advice I have EVER RECEIVED…and continue to give it over and over again…….

celebrate 2

CELEBRATE every step! Chocolate and flowers, writers! Every milestone. Every correspondence. My kids know when I have hit 100 pages, because that’s when I make Thai Seafood Soup! This may sound silly, but when I’m on page 70, just thinking about that soup helps me write.

Happy New Year!!!!!

Sarah Aronson keeps a scrapbook  of great quotes, great writing advice, and occasional writing prompts on her blog, Beyond Revision. It has YET to get a comment. Come check it out in 2013!



  1. Linda Andersen  •  Dec 28, 2012 @8:07 am

    Great list. I especially like #10 also. I’m guessing this makes you come up with an even bigger revelation for the end. Am I right?

    sarah aronson Reply:

    @Linda Andersen, SOOOO right.

  2. Lill Pluta  •  Dec 28, 2012 @8:15 am

    Oh, that is a great list!!! I’ll have to print this one out.

    sarah aronson Reply:

    @Lill Pluta, Thanks!!!!!

  3. S. Pinneo / Julia's Child  •  Dec 28, 2012 @12:41 pm

    Great list! I ususally OD on #6 though, sometimes at the expense of story. But all can be fixed with careful application of the delete key…

    sarah aronson Reply:

    @S. Pinneo / Julia’s Child, Bow down to the delete key!!!! (We’ve been spending quite a bit of time together recently!!!)

  4. Gerri Lanier  •  Dec 28, 2012 @3:21 pm

    * Wow, what a great list! Thanks, Sarah!! #5 says it all for me.

    sarah aronson Reply:

    @Gerri Lanier, This is a piece of advice I keep on an index card, taped to my wall. Success can’t occur unless you’re winning to fail. BE BRAVE!!!!!!

  5. Brenda  •  Dec 28, 2012 @4:44 pm

    Really like #5, great list overall.

    sarah aronson Reply:

    @Brenda, THANKS!!!!

  6. PragmaticMom  •  Dec 29, 2012 @8:55 am

    I love the advice about giving yourself the freedom to try new things and fail!

    sarah aronson Reply:

    @PragmaticMom, It works for everything and everyone! Happy New Year!!!!!

  7. Pat Wooldridge  •  Dec 29, 2012 @1:22 pm

    Sarah Aronson, what a great post! Number 8 has to be one of my most favorite bits. Every time I feel that I can’t write because certain parts of life are overwhelming (and the overwhelming parts are never the same twice in a row, and I, as a person, am tough with myself), I do my utmost to bull through it, get that writing done. Even if some of it does end up on paper, I feel as though I am running at top speed and the situations clamoring for attention are all chasing me. Until I read #8 today, I thought it was just me letting life be difficult. This writing advice also is a crucial piece of riding (as in horseback) advice. During some years that were riddled with varied, unrelenting problems, if I felt that things would not go well if I saddled up my very energetic and ambitious Anglo Arab horse and rode on a given day, I didn’t ride. Again, I thought it was Just Me. Years later I read the very same advice I had been giving myself, and decided I really wasn’t so far off the mark after all. He would have realized that something was bothering me, my feelings would have transferred to him, and it would have been a very uneasy ride. Dangerous, actually. Thanks so much, Sarah. Oh—and about celebrating writing milestones which may seem small to an onlooker, but we know they are huge–I’m so glad you added that. Celebrating whenever we wish, is important and adds such energy to the whole process.

    sarah aronson Reply:

    @Pat Wooldridge, in this long career, I have had to periodically forgive myself. In a world where recognition is sometimes hard to ask for, we think we have to be always producing. We feel guilt. But one of my mentors gave me permission to take the break when I needed it. When crap is happening in your life, you have to take care of yourself. You don’t have to be productive (even though the whole two pages a day thing IS true.)

    GOOD LUCK and Write WELL!!!!!

  8. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Dec 29, 2012 @3:18 pm

    Marvelous list, Sara! I loved reading it. You make some really good points that I definitely use. Some of these, like knowing your “theme” or where you’re going next sometimes happen as we write the book – or during the revision process. :-) Happy New Year!!!

    sarah aronson Reply:

    @Kimberley Griffiths Little, Lately, I’ve been spending more time making a synopsis. Chapter to chapter. It’s funny how our processes change!!!

  9. Michele Weber Hurwitz  •  Dec 29, 2012 @4:52 pm

    Always love reading inspirational top ten lists! Thanks for writing this as we head into a fresh new year!

    sarah aronson Reply:

    @Michele Weber Hurwitz, You are welcome!!!! Bring on 2013!!!!! Eat the chocolate!!!

  10. Lori Ann Freeland  •  Jan 4, 2013 @9:33 am

    Love this list. FB’ed it. My favorite is number 5 because failing is my greatest obstacle. Thanks for sharing. :)