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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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  • Laurie Friedman Interview and Giveaway

    Giveaways, Interviews, Writing MG Series

    PHOTO BY-- RAUL RUBIERA Laurie FriedmanI’m thrilled to welcome Laurie Friedman back to the Mixed-Up Files blog. Laurie is the author of over 30 award-winning books for children, including the popular Mallory McDonald chapter book series for 7-10 year olds. Published by Lerner Books, the twenty-first book in the series, Three’s Company, Mallory will be out this January. Laurie has a new journal format series for older readers entitled The Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair. The second book in the series, Too Good to be True, will be released in January as well. Laurie has also written many rhyming picture books. She lives in Miami with her family. You can find Laurie B. Friedman on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also visit Mallory’s Facebook page or Laurie’s website.

     

    In your last Mixed-Up Files interview, you talked about how you came up with the idea for your Mallory series and how it helped kids take the leap into middle grade novels. How did you come up with the idea for your new The Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair series, and how many books will be in the series?

    When I was thirteen, my parents didn’t like my attitude, so they nixed my plans to go to summer camp with my friends, bought an RV and forced me to go on a family vacation with my little sisters for two-weeks of “re-bonding.” The best thing about the trip was that it gave me lots of material to write about! It’s all there in Can You Say Catastrophe?, which is the first book in The Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair series.

    So far, there will be four books in the April series and hopefully more. The first book takes place as April is finishing seventh grade and extends into the summer between seventh and eighth grades. The next three books in the series cover her year as an eighth-grader.

     

    Was it hard to begin a new series after writing Mallory’s story for so long?

    It was a lot of fun!  I have always been a series reader. As a young girl, I would curl up in my favorite chair (still in my office today) and wile away the hours with stacks of Nancy Drew and Ramona books by my side. As my own kids grew, we read through Harry Potter, Twilight, Lemony Snicket and The Hunger Games together, and I loved every minute of it. So as an author, writing series books has felt very comfortable to me.

    I just finished writing the 23rd book in the Mallory series and there are going to be more. I’ve been writing Mallory books since my daughter was in second-grade and now she is graduating from college! Mallory has been such a big part of my life and I love writing about her, but the challenge of creating a new character and series has been amazing. The April books are longer than the Mallory books so I have learned a lot about how to structure a novel. They are written in journal format which is one of my favorite ways to write.  Also, April is older, and she and Mallory are very different. When I write, I compartmentalize my Mallory time and my April time.  It’s literally like wearing two different hats!

     

    Wow, it’s amazing that you’ve already written twenty-three books in the Mallory series. What are some of your favorite Mallory moments?

    That’s such a hard question to answer! I really have loved writing about Mallory from the moment she moved to Fern Falls and left behind everything she knew and loved, including her best friend, Mary Ann. I think the moments I love best are the ones when Mallory knows she’s made a mistake and feels terribly about it.  She’s got a big heart and when she does wrong, she always wants to find a way to make good. Some of the most fun moments to write about are when Mallory does things that I want to do (and haven’t!) like being on a reality TV show (Mallory and Mary Ann Take New York) and going on a wedding cruise (Mallory on Board).  I’d have to say that my favorite book to write was Campfire Mallory.  When I was growing up, I seriously loved going to summer camp.  Writing about it was the next best thing!

     

    What types of adventures will April face in her series?

    Poor April.  She has a knack for finding trouble or is it that trouble has a knack for finding her? The answer to that depends on who you ask. April definitely has her opinion.  In the first book, April comes to terms with the idea that her family, though far from perfect, is hers and they’re always there for her. In the second book, April is torn between two boys. Her boyfriend, Billy, is the perfect guy. Sweet, cute, thoughtful, and fun.  But then there’s her mysterious, new next door neighbor, Matt. Everything in her life seems so clear, until he shows up. The second, third and fourth books in the series explore her feelings about both boys and how her decisions affect her relationship with her best friend, Brynn.

     

    How are Mallory and April alike? How are they different?

    One of the most notable differences between the two of them are their ages. In the first eight books in the Mallory series, Mallory was in third grade, and then moves on to fourth.  The April series starts when April is in seventh grade and continues as she finishes middle school.

    The experiences of a 3rd/4th grader and a 7th/8th grader are obviously very different and I work hard to make sure the situations that both Mallory and April find themselves in are reflective of what girls at these very different stages of development are experiencing. As a growing girl, I was a meticulous journal keeper. My mother saved the stacks of notebooks I filled with the daily goings on of my young life. Referring back to what I did or felt at a particular age helps me write characters that feel true to their ages. I also spend a lot of time visiting classrooms and talking to students about the plots and characters I’m creating. Their reaction to what I’m doing is the best gauge I know to keep my writing real and fresh, and to ensure that my characters will resonate and feel distinctive for my audiences.

    As for the individual personalities of Mallory and April, they are just so very different. (You will have to read both series to find out how!)  There is a point where Mallory and April intersect and that is that they both have flaws, hopefully loveable ones. Perfect people who always make the right decisions don’t exist in life (and if they do, no one likes them anyway) and shouldn’t in books either.

     

    Can you share some tips for writing a series?

    Whenever I start a new book in a series, the first thing I do is a rough story outline. Once that’s done, I do the math. For a person who thinks more creatively than analytically, that’s always a challenge, but there’s a structural component of successful series that cannot be ignored. One of the reasons readers return to series they love is because they know what kind of reading experience to expect when they pick up the latest installment. As a series writer, I think it’s critical to think through issues like word count, chapter length, and plot structure on the front end. Once my “blueprint” is in place, the art of the creative process, creating voice, characters and situations that ring true for each age group, can begin.

     

    Thank you for visiting the Mixed-Up Files again, Laurie. I loved learning more about Mallory and April!

    Want a chance to win a signed copy of one of Laurie Friedman’s books? Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below, and one lucky winner will receive a choice of Three’s Company, Mallory (which means the winner can read it before it’s even out in stores) or Can You Say Catastrophe? The winner will be announced on Saturday, December 7. Good luck!

    *You must live in the United States or Canada to enter the giveaway.

     

    Here’s some info about each of the books to help the winner decide which to choose:

    Threes Company Mallory

    Three’s Company, Mallory

    Some simple math: One + One + One = One too many! From the day we were born, Mary Ann and I have been best friends. We’ve always been a two-some. But now, there’s a new girl in town, and what used to be just us two has turned into three. If you ask me, things just don’t add up!

     

     

    Can You Say Catastrophe?

    Can you Say Catastrophe

    April Sinclair just wants what any normal thirteen-year-old would want: to disown her parents and obnoxious little sisters; to escape to summer camp ASAP with her two best friends, Billy and Brynn; and to make a good impression on Matt Parker, the hot new boy next door.

    Unfortunately, Matt witnesses April’s utter humiliation at her birthday party. Then Billy kisses her. Just as April is trying to figure things out, her parents cancel her camp plans in lieu of a family RV trip. A summer of babysitting her sisters and re-bonding with her family isn’t how she imagined life as a teenager. And it certainly won’t help her straighten out her feelings about Billy or Matt. Is there any silver lining to a road trip in The Clunker with her family of misfits?

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Laurie Friedman will stop by the Mixed-Up Files blog again later, so leave a reply if you have a comment to share or a question to ask her.

     

    Mindy Alyse Weiss writes humorous middle-grade novels with heart and quirky picture books. She’s constantly inspired by her thirteen and fifteen year-old daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix who was rescued from the Everglades. Visit Mindy’s blog or Twitter to read more about her writing life, conference experiences, and writing tips.

    13 Comments

    13 Comments

    1. Kelly KC  •  Dec 4, 2013 @12:37 pm

      I choose CAN YOU SAY CATASTROPHE? I’ve lived the storyline of THREE’S COMPANY, MALLORY (still friends with both a million years later), but have never spent time in an RV. Plus, I’m a world-famous, award-winning, best-selling MG author, even if only in my own mind.

      :)

    2. Karen Reagler  •  Dec 4, 2013 @1:34 pm

      I think Ms. Friedman’s books are wonderful. My three daughters have all of her books (although my oldest daughter insists that they stay in her room). I have read some of them as well and can’t wait for them to come out as audio books. Is there any plan for them to be released as audio books?
      K

    3. Laurie Friedman  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:14 pm

      I’m so glad your daughters like the books! I hope they’ll keep reading. Unfortunately there are no plans to release them as audio books but they are all available as ebooks. If your daughters have a reading device, they might enjoy them in that format. Please thank them from me for being fans!

    4. Jodi Moore  •  Dec 4, 2013 @4:49 pm

      Thanks for the inspiration and writing tips! I look forward to checking out both series! :)

    5. Lynnette  •  Dec 4, 2013 @7:10 pm

      I have some of the Mallory books in my K-5 library, but I had no idea there are so many! I’ll have to get ordering. I’d love the newest one.

    6. Laurie Friedman  •  Dec 4, 2013 @7:16 pm

      So glad you like the writing tips! I hope your students enjoy the books!

    7. Kim Peterson  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:17 am

      Two series I want to read. :-) Thanks for the tips about writing series books.

    8. Jaimie M. Engle  •  Dec 5, 2013 @11:40 am

      Thanks for a great interview! I look forward to reading the book…

    9. Jill Siegel  •  Dec 5, 2013 @5:11 pm

      Thanks! I enjoyed the interview, Mindy and Laurie!! Laurie, you have such an articulate way of explaining your works and your writing process! Mallory is an adorable character. :)

    10. Jill Siegel  •  Dec 5, 2013 @5:13 pm

      and I look forward to the April Sinclair series as well…

    11. Jayne  •  Dec 5, 2013 @8:04 pm

      Laurie led a workshop at SCBWI Florida a few years back and it was a ton of fun. My girls have read many of the Mallory books!

    12. Will Orser  •  Dec 6, 2013 @9:50 am

      Nice interview. Good luck with the new series!

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