• OhMG! News


    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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  • Book Giveaway! And an Interview with Jennifer Duddy Gill

    Authors, Giveaways, Interviews

    Congratulations on your debut novel, Jennifer, and thanks for celebrating your launch with us. We’re so honored!


    What would you like to tell us about your book?

    ‘The Secret of Ferrell Savage’ begins with Ferrell entering a sled race to impress a girl he likes and, for reasons that are beyond his control, he gets her attention and becomes a celebrity in his town. A jealous racing competitor threatens to reveal a secret about Ferrell that even he, Ferrell, didn’t know: he’s a descendent of the infamous Colorado cannibal, Alfred Packer.

    So it’s a cannibalism story! Excellent! That’s rare in MG fiction. :-)

    Ha ha! Actually, it’s a not-too-gruesome story about an awkward first crush. Thank goodness, none of the main characters get eaten. The main thing that Ferrell has in common with his great, great, great uncle is that they both became unexpected legends.

    What inspired you to write ‘The Secret of Ferrell Savage’?

    It was the character himself that came to me before the actual story. He didn’t have a name at first, but I knew his personality. He’s lovable and easy-going. He isn’t a good student because he’s too daydreamy and he’s not good at sports because he doesn’t like to compete. He hates it when other people feel bad for losing. I would be driving in my car or taking my dog for a walk and this 12-year-old boy’s voice would come into my head and say funny things that would express his own quirky interpretation of the world and I couldn’t wait to find out what his story was.

    Ferrell Savage is the most awesome character name I’ve read in years. How did you come up with it?

    Most of the names in the story give clues to the characters. Just like real-life Alferd Packer himself – he was a meat packer. J Ferrell and his friend Mary Vittles have a discussion about their names in the book. She finds it humorous and somehow suiting that his name is pronounced “feral” like a wild, brutal animal. Then she points out that her own name sounds like it could be a title for a cookbook because “Merry Vittles” sounds like happy food.

    happyDSC_5984Have you always written?

    When I was ten years old my sister, Mary, bought me a journal and I loved having a place to write my thoughts. Soon, I was so hooked on writing that I would put off doing my homework because I needed to write about my day first. I have a huge trunk filled with my writing in colorful notebooks of different sizes.

    Wow! Sounds like you had a really awesome sister? Does she still encourage you to write? Have there been any other key encouragers of your writing?

    Both my immediate family and my in-laws have been very supportive and excited about my publication and that means so much to me. My agent, Wendy Schmalz, has been my greatest supporter of all. I’ve heard of agents parting ways with clients when the first book didn’t sell, but Wendy never lost faith in those earlier manuscripts, nor in me as a writer. Ariel Colletti bought Ferrell Savage for Atheneum and she was wonderful to work with. She is easy going and very approachable. She’s also got a great sense of humor. Sadly for everyone in publishing, Ariel decided to choose a different career path. My new editor is Ruta Rimas and while the editing part of the process was finished when she took over, she has been a champion of the book and I’ve been grateful to have her on my side. I hope to have the opportunity to produce a book together with her, from start to finish.

    Speaking of gratitude, I also want to bring attention to the book’s adorable art work. Sonia Chaghatzbanian’s interior illustrations are the perfect highlight to each chapter heading. There are several that made me laugh so hard!

    And how did you choose middle grade as a focus for your writing?

    When we lived in Costa Rica I bought a composition book with Tweety Bird on the cover. In this book I wrote about our experiences as I imagined them from my eight- year-old daughter’s perspective. I had a lot of fun with it and both my daughters loved the stories. I thought, hmm, maybe I should try writing other stories for kids. So, I wrote a book with hopes of selling it. I was lucky enough to get the interest of a fabulous agent, but unfortunately the book didn’t sell. I wrote two more books, both a little bit dark and serious, and they came close to selling, but unfortunately the time wasn’t quite right. Ferrell Savage is actually the fourth book I wrote.

    The view from Jennifer's writing desk in Costa Rica.

    The view from Jennifer’s writing desk in Costa Rica.

    Costa Rica! Wow! Have you ever lived any where else?

    After college I joined the Peace Corps and taught organic agriculture on a West Indian island called Dominica. Later, I taught English as a second language in Barcelona. For a brief time I worked in a printing press on a kibbutz in Israel. By the time my husband and I met, we’d both seen a lot of the world. We adopted our second child in South Korea and as soon as she and our older daughter were grown up enough, we wanted to give them a view of the world outside of the U.S. We hope they’ll always be aware of the whole wonderful globe we all share.


    And now the lightning round

    Your favorite beverage and soundtrack while writing?

    Ha! I’m going to sound painfully boring, but I like water best and complete silence when I’m writing.

    Your favorite place to write?

    At my desk or on the couch with one foot resting on our dog, Susi. She likes to always be within my reach.

    Your favorite quote or writing mantra?

    I can really relate to Gertrude Stein’s quote: “It takes a heap of loafing to write a book,” because when I’m working my hardest, I’m usually staring out a window.

    And now in honor of the day A Cannibal Valentine! Yes, that’s Alfred Packer! Thanks to Meghan Gates for the artwork.



    Thanks for sharing your book launch, Jennifer!

    If you can’t wait to get your hands on this book, leave a comment and you are automatically in the drawing for a free signed copy!

    The giveaway winner will be announced on Thursday, February 20! Stay tuned!



    1. donna  •  Feb 14, 2014 @9:34 am

      What a f asntistic idea for a book. I hear it’s fabulous!

    2. Laurie Schneider  •  Feb 14, 2014 @9:39 am

      Thanks for channeling your inner 12-year-old boy, Jennifer. I can’t wait to meet Ferrell!

    3. Greg R. Fishbone  •  Feb 14, 2014 @9:48 am

      This looks like a lot of fun.

    4. Rose Green  •  Feb 14, 2014 @10:35 am

      That sounds hilarious. I can’t wait to read it!

    5. Mindy Alyse Weiss  •  Feb 14, 2014 @11:06 am

      This sounds like such a fun book, and I love first crush stories. Congrats on your debut MG, Jennifer. I can’t wait to read it!

    6. Michele Weber Hurwitz  •  Feb 14, 2014 @11:28 am

      I loved reading about your journey to publication, and all the places you’ve lived! Congrats on your debut!

    7. Sheela Chari  •  Feb 14, 2014 @11:50 am

      I’m sharing this with my friends. So happy to hear about this book, Jennifer! Congratulations!

    8. Yolanda Ridge  •  Feb 14, 2014 @12:48 pm

      Congratulations, Jennifer! Can’t wait to read it – I’m very intrigued!

    9. Emily Gloeckner  •  Feb 14, 2014 @1:45 pm

      This book sounds like it will be fun read! Looking forward to it!

    10. Jeff Jones  •  Feb 14, 2014 @2:33 pm

      I am anxious to get my hands on a copy of Jennifer’s latest work, The Secret of Ferrell Savage.

    11. Rosanne Parry  •  Feb 14, 2014 @3:05 pm

      congratulations Jennifer! Can’t wait to share this title with all the middle grade librarian’s I know!

    12. Justine Barr  •  Feb 14, 2014 @5:29 pm

      What an interesting book! I can’t wait to read it to see if my kids would like it!

    13. Heidi Grange  •  Feb 14, 2014 @6:06 pm

      I think I can safetly say that out of the numerous middle grade books I have read, none of them involve cannibals. ;)

    14. PragmaticMom  •  Feb 14, 2014 @8:30 pm

      I can’t wait to get my hands on the this book!

    15. Diana Jones  •  Feb 14, 2014 @9:01 pm

      Sounds like a book my boys will enjoy!

    16. Mary Duddy Bleisch  •  Feb 14, 2014 @9:16 pm

      “Good job, Jennifer!” (as Dad would have said)

    17. Liz Teed  •  Feb 15, 2014 @8:01 am

      Kudos to you on your debut novel. I love how you’ve saved all your journals and have such family support!

    18. Jennifer Duddy Gill  •  Feb 15, 2014 @9:50 am

      Thank you Rosanne Parry for interviewing me and thank you to everyone who commented! I hope you really will enjoy this quirky little book or find a kid who will.

    19. Katherine Fedde  •  Feb 15, 2014 @11:56 am

      Yay Jennifer! I want a copy… and to be a descendant of Alfred Packer.

    20. K. Inger Fedde  •  Feb 16, 2014 @8:36 am

      Looking forward to slipping a story about a crush into our youngest’s reading schedule! He thinks hard on things and has started to actually know the names of girls.

    21. NennaM  •  Feb 17, 2014 @9:49 am

      I´m so excited to get to read this book!

    22. Margie Krell  •  Feb 18, 2014 @10:31 am

      Congratulations, Jennifer! What an accomplishment to have a book coming out! The story sounds like a lot of fun, I’m trying to think of the kids that I know in this age group to recommend it to….