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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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  • I Would Write 500 Words

    Inspiration, Writing MG Books, Writing MG Series

    And I would write 500 more. Just to be the author that writes 1,000 words and falls down on the floor.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbNlMtqrYS0

    Let’s face it. Writing is HARD. Especially now when authors have major distractions like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other various forms of social networking.  Not only are these things a major time suck, but they open us up for comparisons. It’s hard to avoid these detrimental comparisons when we’re inundated with words and images that remind us we’re not good enough.

    writing comparision

    And because writing isn’t the only place where I feel like a failure, you’ll need to double click the above image in order to read the microscopic words I’ve so cleverly crafted.

    There’s the other part of the inferiority I feel on a daily basis: I’m not agented.  My published books are co-authored by my 13 year old daughter (which I love, but I worry that others may think it’s weird, or think I’m not a “real writer”).  I’m with a small press so there haven’t been reviews. Without reviews its been extremely hard to get my book into schools, let alone the hands of readers. Some days I wonder why I do it. Why do I bother?

    Those emotions brought me down so far that I stopped writing.  Last year between my final edits for Cinderskella and my first draft of Little Dead Riding Hood, I wrote nothing. From submitting LDRH to my publisher until January of this year I wrote nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Big fat zero. For NINE MONTHS. I could have - quite literally - given birth during that time. To a book or a baby, choice is yours.  But I didn’t.

    Instead, I worried.  Fretted over sales. I wallowed. I compared myself to others. I sulked in self pity.

    While I was away from writing, I just sank deeper and deeper. Staying away from writing wasn’t helping me. In fact, it was making things worse.  And seeing updates from other authors definitely contributed to my feelings of failure. Why couldn’t I accomplish what they were? Why wasn’t I making the time for something I enjoyed so much?

    Then, sometime during the holiday season, author J. Scott Savage posted a challenge on his Facebook page.  (Yes, in this instance, FB helped!)  He challenged authors to write 500 words a day in the new year.

    A little spark lit within me. I could do this! Large goals are always better when broken down into bite sized pieces.  It’s true with anything – education, weight loss, and yes, even writing books. We need to meet little goals in order to achieve the larger one. So instead of thinking about writing a 60,000 word book and being overwhelmed by that concept, I would focus on the little goal of 500 words each day. I even did the calculations. I could write one book in four months. Three books a year.

    So, unbeknownst to Scott, I set the goal to write 500 words a day.  I was going to excuse myself on weekends (which would mean my final goal would take a little longer, but I was okay with that).  Five days a week, I was going to sit down and write. All I needed was a half hour.

    This is how my first week went:

    Day 1 – *stares at blank word doc* Type something. Anything. *types two words* Think! THINK! *types five more* *stares at clock* It’s only been 10 seconds? Good grief! FOCUS! *45 minutes later, 501 painful words are typed*

    Day 2 – *stares at previous 501 painful words, sits on hands to prevent from deleting them* Okay. This time DON’T THINK. That’s where you went wrong yesterday. You were thinking TOO hard.  Just type. *30 minutes go by, 621 words are typed*

    Day 3 – *refuses to stare at screen* Don’t read what you wrote. You know it’s garbage. It doesn’t matter. Just write. *30 quick minutes later, 1,250 words are typed*

    Day 4 – *remembers scene, eagerly gets to work* *60 minutes later, 2,500 words are typed*

    Day 5 – * opens document, fingers itching to start* *90 minutes later, 3,200 words are typed*

    It speaks for itself, really. I found that once I forced myself to sit down and write, the words flowed. Sure, there were tough days, (and there still are) but I’m writing again! I’m excited about my stories! I’ve set an easy goal and I’m able to reach it each day.

    This goal has taught me a lot about myself, too.

    1 – I don’t have to write every day.  (This recent post from Nathan Bransford helped confirm that.) Yup. It’s okay not to write on weekends. Or when I’m sick. Or if my day is super busy. Just as long as I get back in the saddle as soon as I can, it’s okay to take a day off.

    2 – Every part of writing – whether it be storyboarding, plotting, or  creating characters - matters. Even though word count isn’t increasing or progressing, that’s okay. The story is! I allow myself to take credit for every step of the journey.

    3 – My accomplishments are my own and I don’t need to compare myself to others.

    I love what I’ve learned about writing, about myself, during this process.  I’m going to keep on keeping on with my 500 words a day because I see progress. I’ve felt my inner growth. And that’s what matters most.

    What about you? What kinds of goals have you set? What helps you as a writer? I’d love to hear your comments and ideas!

    Amie Borst is a PAL member of SCBWI. She writes twisted fairy tales with her 13 year old daughter, Bethanie. She’s writes 500 words a day, even if they’re terrible. Find her at her blog, facebook, twitter, and pinterest. Add her books on goodreads!

    21 Comments

    21 Comments

    1. Jane Heitman Healy  •  Mar 12, 2014 @7:56 am

      Thank you, Amie, for your honesty and encouragement!

    2. Amie Borst  •  Mar 12, 2014 @8:03 am

      You’re welcome, Jane! I hope it helps someone else out there that might be struggling.

    3. Jen Swanson  •  Mar 12, 2014 @8:08 am

      Great post, Amie. Very inspirational and quite touching. Good for you! WRITE ON!!

    4. Amie Borst  •  Mar 12, 2014 @8:29 am

      Thanks Jen. It feels great to be back!

    5. Michele Weber Hurwitz  •  Mar 12, 2014 @8:56 am

      It’s a tough world we writers live in; so easy to compare, and get down on yourself. Glad you’re back at the keyboard :)

    6. Jennifer Duddy Gill  •  Mar 12, 2014 @9:46 am

      What a great post, Amie. I think you’ve described what a lot of us go through. I’m so glad you are forging ahead.

    7. Amie Borst  •  Mar 12, 2014 @9:52 am

      It’s always nice to know I’m not alone!

    8. Rosanne Parry  •  Mar 12, 2014 @9:56 am

      You know in my debut year, my class of 2K9 author’s group had a joke about self-googling causing blindness. Really it goes for any of that urge to constantly check the progress of the book. And really the most valuable advice I got was to finish the next book instead of obsessing over publicizing the current one.

      Not always easy and I find myself taking writing breaks when I travel, but I’ve also learned to use that “break” time for reading, research and renewal, so that when it is time to get back to the page I can give my full attention to it.

      Great post Amie!

    9. Yolanda Ridge  •  Mar 12, 2014 @10:00 am

      Thank you for sharing your journey, Amie. I can certainly relate to everything you’ve said – I think a lot of writer’s can but it still helps to know you are not alone! I’m going to start my 500 now… Happy Writing!

    10. Amie Borst  •  Mar 12, 2014 @10:22 am

      Roseanne – as a former theatre student, I can relate! We were told never to read the reviews. It’s not much different as a writer, is it?

      Yolanda – I hope you surpass your goal today. Good luck!

    11. Juliana Lee  •  Mar 12, 2014 @12:49 pm

      Love it! ‘My accomplishments are my own and I don’t need to compare myself to others.’ I saved your minuscule chart because sometimes I just need to laugh… I think most of the braggers are liars anyway, kind of like the boy’s locker room!

    12. Amie Borst  •  Mar 12, 2014 @1:10 pm

      Thanks Juliana. I think the biggest problem is we so often compare ourselves to the “highlight reel” of others, while never getting to see their daily struggles.

    13. Lesley  •  Mar 12, 2014 @2:39 pm

      Love your honesty and got a lot from this post, thanks Amie.

    14. Amie Borst  •  Mar 12, 2014 @2:55 pm

      You’re welcome, Lesley!

    15. Susan Hill Long  •  Mar 12, 2014 @5:57 pm

      Great post; thank you for the inspiration! For me, my little ticking tomato timer helps remind me to stay put till I get the words down. But I seldom set a wordcount goal, and will give it a try.

    16. Amie Borst  •  Mar 12, 2014 @6:05 pm

      You’ve got to do what works for you, Susan. If your tomato timer does the trick, then stick to it! It is fun to try new things though. Good luck with the 500 words!

    17. Jen Gennari  •  Mar 12, 2014 @10:13 pm

      All of us feel like this every now and then; thank you for sharing! I find it’s so true–you have to do butt in chair to get the writing done! I find a daily journal (pen and paper) helps to take a break from the story and keyboard.

    18. Amie Borst  •  Mar 13, 2014 @1:58 am

      That’s a great idea! I’ll have to try that.

    19. Jill the OWL  •  Mar 13, 2014 @7:36 pm

      This is so what I needed to read today! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!

    20. Jenny Pessereau  •  Mar 13, 2014 @11:20 pm

      Man, I needed that. Thank you for writing those particular words above, 500 words or not.

    21. Mary Jane Driscoll  •  Mar 15, 2014 @10:26 am

      Wow, I never thought of making myself write just 500 words a day. I can do that!
      Thanks, Amie, I think that will jump-start me back into finishing my stories. I too sometimes feel overwhelmed because I don’t have a lot of time to devote so I just don’t start that day. Then the next day comes and I do the same thing. Setting a goal for 500 words is do-able on almost every day! I have also read that if you do your writing at the same time every day your brain will be ready at that time. I am going to try to write my “at least 500 words” at the same time every day too! Thanks again.