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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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  • Boo! Let’s get creepy! (And enter to win!)

    Giveaways, Writing MG Books
    blackcat

    photo courtesy of morguefile.com

    Happy Friday the 13th, MUF peeps! In the interest of personal safety on this creeptastic day, go ahead and hang a horseshoe for good luck, don’t break any mirrors and — whatever you do — hold your breath when you pass a cemetery!

    At least, that’s what my 8-year-old self would have advised… That stuff doesn’t scare grown-up me one bit. I’ll just be here blissfully stepping on cracks in the sidewalks, spilling salt everywhere, and whoa… wait a minute? Was that a black cat? Crossing my path? Excuse me while I run home and hide under the covers…

    Phew! Safe now.

    Okay, in all seriousness, there’s just something about a good, creepy story — no matter what your age — but especially when you’re a middle-grader. Maybe it’s because it’s sorta scary (in an exciting way, of course) to leave childhood behind. Or perhaps it’s because looming adolescence makes it feel like you’ve been possessed at times. Or, it could just be that there’s no better way to safely scare the socks off yourself than with a good book.

    Whatever the case, I distinctly remember devouring ghost stories as a fifth-grader — then hanging out with my buddies at recess holding seances, trying to conjure up spirits and lift each other using only our fingertips (“light as a feather, stiff as a board” anyone?).

    And we all had Ouija boards, which of course we never EVER used alone, lest we become the earthly vessels for some malevolent spirit…

    Still, as much as I enjoyed spooking myself out as I kid (like the time a friend and I found a smashed gravestone in the woods, took it home and hid it in my closet until we became convinced that it was possessed and had to be exorcised and properly disposed of…), I’d never actually written a spooky story. I’ve always been funny/realistic writer. Well, until my recent work-for-hire gig with the fabulous Working Partners Ltd., that is. So let me share a few things I’ve learned along the way:

    • Less is more. Horror and humor are similar in this regard. Over-the-top can be funny or scary, but oftentimes it’s much creepier not to have the whole monster jump right out at you — let the reader get just a glimpse of a jagged fang, the outline of a horrifying shadow, the scrape of nails along the wall.
    • Physical reactions can be your friend — and enemy. Hearts can only pound so much before they explode. Too many goosebumps make your characters look like they’re diseased. Find other physical ways to convey fear — the uncontrollable twitch of the eyelid, a sweaty palm sliding down a railing, a mouth suddenly gone dry.
    • Don’t rush it! The anticipation of something scary can be even creepier than the thing itself. Telltale heart, anyone? Let the suspense build — don’t just rush into the big “BOO!” moment. Make. Them. Sweat. It. Out…

    And… apparently because I’m writing a creepy post, I was just, quite literally, interrupted by the sound of footsteps clomping across my back porch. Seriously. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP! And I am here alone. Gulp. Excuse me while I go check things out. And if I don’t come back, please call 911. And tell my mom I love her…

    Okay, upon a very freaked out investigation (heart pounding, for real…), I just discovered a worker had erroneously wandered into my back yard (she was supposed to be at my neighbor’s house next door).

    Phew. (Wipes sweaty palms on dress.) On that note, I am going to sign off now.

    And go hide under the covers. For real.

    Jan Gangsei is a writer on the Welcome to Weirdsville series, published by Little Brown in the UK. And because she wants to thank you for making it to the end of this post, she’ll be giving away one copy of the first and second books: Happyland and Ghost School. Share your favorite spooky story in the comments below (or just say “BOO!”) and she’ll pick two random winners next week! But whatever you do, please don’t hang out on her back porch. You’ll give her a heart attack.

     

    5 Comments

    5 Comments

    1. Heather  •  Sep 13, 2013 @8:09 am

      We were driving with friends in a van during a downpour on a hot summer night. It was tricky navigating the winding country roads in the darkness. The wipers tried valiantly to clear the windshield. Suddenly from the back seat, in a low, gravelly voice, my four year old said, “We’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die.”

      Luckily, NONE of us have died. But we were all amazed at our little boy’s comic/cryptic timing.

    2. Krista Dendinger  •  Sep 13, 2013 @5:18 pm

      Not really a story, but some creepy incidents. I used to live in an apartment that was the upstairs of an older house. I had a lamp in my bedroom that would turn on by itself. On my TV, the volume would go up and down by itself as well. After I moved out, I never had those problems with that lamp or TV! I was pretty convinced I had an ghostly houseguest at that apartment.

    3. Jill  •  Sep 13, 2013 @8:30 pm

      Nice post.
      No real life stories to share.
      But with books…I always remember growing up with The Fear Street series (ones like The Cheerleader or The Babysitter), Goosebumps, or an occasional ghost story in the Babysitters Club, etc. There were always those fun “scary” books too with multiple stories in them, like the ones where a couple park on a cliff and the “Hook” on the doorknob…
      Memories. I kind of want to read all these again!

    4. Llehn  •  Sep 14, 2013 @5:14 am

      Oh man. Time Of The Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones scared me so much that I can’t look at its cover without feeling my hackles rise!

    5. Heidi Grange  •  Sep 15, 2013 @1:33 am

      Hmm. In my own experience, I’d have to say the freakiest thing I ever experienced was driving in a whiteout. I was so tense the whole time I thought I would have a heart attack.

      Books, my current favorite scary story is Gravediggers.