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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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  • Book Marketing 101

    Promotion

    You’ve written a book and perhaps you’ve even signed a contract with a publisher. Think your journey stops here? Well, it doesn’t. And the sooner you accept that, the better off you will be. Sorry, but it’s the ugly truth.

    As you probably already know, many publishers require their authors to do the lion’s share of marketing. Unless, of course, you’re one of the lucky ones that received a six figure advance, then you can sit back and relax…even write the next book.  But for the rest of us, well, there’s a lot of work ahead.

    The Big 5 and even many small publishers will submit your book for review which is a great start. Favorable reviews will help land your book into libraries, schools, and even reading lists.  I’m willing to bet even the less than stellar reviews help books get noticed (as any parent of an ill-behaved child will tell you, negative attention is still attention!).  But what if you’re with a small press that didn’t submit your book? What if promised reviews never came to fruition?  What’s a children’s author to do when their book hasn’t been reviewed?

    As a children’s author, readers aren’t reached in quite the same way as their adult counterparts. So it’s important (albeit a bit difficult) to connect with your readers in the way that they find their next book. I’m definitely no expert, but here’s some tips that should help all authors successfully market their work of genius.

         1. School Visits: This is a tricky step as most school libraries (or at least in Virginia) require the book to be reviewed by at least one major source. If you have the means, consider purchasing extra copies of your book. Donate a copy to your local elementary and/or middle school. Offer free or discounted visits (at least initially) so that you have a better opportunity to reach your readers.

         2. Skype Visits: I’ve connected with some pretty awesome readers through my classroom Skype visits. As a promotion, I’ve offered these free visits to teachers that use Cinderskella in their classroom. Children who wouldn’t have otherwise known about the book become excited about it. The best part is seeing their smiling faces and answering their thoughtful questions.

         3. Libraries/Summer Reading Lists: When Cinderskella was released, I immediately donated a copy to my local library. I had no idea what that small gesture would produce, as I did it solely for the readers, hoping one child would gain something from the message in my book. Shortly after I donated a copy I received a warm thank-you note from the Director as well as an invitation to present at their summer reading program. Am I stoked? You betcha!

         4. Book Signings: I love indie bookstores. They have a wonderful reputation of supporting authors. They will make every effort to reach readers who would be interested in your book. In exchange they like donuts. Cupcakes work well, too.

         5. Festivals/Group signings: Back in April, I was part of YA Fest in Easton, PA. There were over 50 authors present and I even participated in a world record. The friends and connections I made while I was there were invaluable to me. (Look close – my daughter and I are standing directly to the left of the librarian!)

          6.  TV, Radio, Newspaper, Magazines, and other media: While most authors would love a spot on Ellen, many will have to settle for the local venue to garner attention of would-be readers. Recently both of my books were featured in Middle Shelf Magazine. Skip ahead to page 47 to get all the deets!

         7. Book Clubs: Oprah and Al Roker are two names that come to mind when it comes to book clubs. Our very own Sheela Chari had her book, Vanished, featured on Al Roker’s Book Club for Kids.  But local book clubs through schools and even homeschool groups are a great way to be involved, too. Volunteer to speak at one of their events to be extra awesome!

         8. Websites and Blogs: It goes without saying that there should be a place on the interwebz for readers to find you. Some professionals argue you should have both a blog and a website, others say one or the other is fine. Whatever you chose, just keep it updated frequently.

         9. Contests and Giveaways: Goodreads, blogs, and other venues are a great way to promote your book through contests and giveaways. Readers love free books!

         10. Book Trailer: I’ve seen some awesome book trailers and others have been a major yawn fest. For me the key is to keep it short (30-60 seconds), highlight the major plot points, and keep the audience engaged. Yup. It’s the query letter in video form.

         11. Swag: Posters, bookmarks, buttons, necklaces…whatever floats your boat – or the boat of your reader! Freebies are fun and they create a way to connect with your audience. If you’re at a signing or school event, be sure to put your John Hancock on those babies. Signed swag isn’t just for those who’ve made a purchase!

         12. Social Media: Most middle-grade readers aren’t on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. So I’ve found that while this isn’t the best way to connect with my readers directly, it’s a viable indirect route to reach them through teachers, librarians, and other industry professionals. I’ve also connected with wonderful authors who have helped promote my books along the way through these various forms of networking.

    These ideas, of course, are just a start of all the various ways to reach your audience. But sometimes that’s all you need – one chance, one little start – and you’ll be on your way!

    What techniques have you implemented to reach the middle-grade reader?

    Amie Borst writes the middle-grade series, Scarily Ever Laughter, with her middle-grade (and middle daughter) Bethanie. Their first book, Cinderskella, released in October 2013. Little Dead Riding Hood follows this October 14th, 2014! Find Amie on her website and both mom and daughter on Facebook!

    2 Comments

    Odin’s Promise

    Book Lists

    OdinsPromise-240oxwide.2Odin’s Promise is historical fiction for middle-grade readers depicting the first year of German occupation of Norway during World War II. Eleven-year-old Mari relies on her elkhound, Odin, and her family for comfort and protection. Mari draws on love, humor, and inner strength to confront danger, find her voice, and endure hardship and heartache.

     

    Amie: Hi Sandy! Welcome to the Mixed-Up Files. Tell us why you enjoy writing middle grade fiction.  

    Sandy:  Middle grade fiction hits a “sweet spot” for me as a reader and a writer. The stories and characters offer infinite opportunities for change, challenge, growth, and discovery. Anything is possible; each page turn holds the potential for surprise. I’m never able to name “favorites” from among the books I’ve read, yet many of the ones I reread and treasure most are middle grade books.

    Amie:  What’s special about Odin’s Promise and why would kids love it?

    Sandy:  Odin’s Promise allows the reader to experience the impact of war from an unusual perspective. Germany invaded Norway claiming to be “friends”, but the threats and dangers surrounding Mari, Odin, and her country were no less real. Young readers with pets will recognize Mari’s relationship with Odin. They’ll also recognize the confusion and frustration of adult secrets, conflicting expectations, and uncertainty about who can be trusted. Readers who enjoyed Mary Casanova’s KLIPFISH CODE and Margi Preus’s SHADOW ON THE MOUNTAIN will enjoy comparing all three titles. We each researched extensively and incorporated humorous details from wartime journals.

    Amie:  We’re always looking for fantastic historical fiction here at MUF. Sounds like your book will really fit the bill!  Tell our readers a bit about Norway and why it’s an inspiration to you.

    Sandy:  I’m not Norwegian, but I visited Norway twice with a friend who is. We stayed with her relatives each time in the small village of Ytre Arna, which is where the story takes place. The physical beauty of the country was breathtaking: spectacular mountain views; crystal clear water; structures, stories, and history that predated the Vikings. Even more memorable to me were the hospitality, generosity, and stories of the people I met there. These memories never left me, and some fictionalized versions eventually found their way into my book.

    Amie:  Sounds lovely.  If forced to eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

    Sandy:  Hmmmm… what a tough question! Allow me a few moments to grieve the loss of dark chocolate and ice cream.

    Amie: You still there?

    Sandy:  Still grieving here… a moment , please.

    Amie:  Just one moment…

    Sandy:  Okay, I’m back.  It must be pizza. That’s hedging my choice, since pizza can be made into unlimited varieties, but still, pizza is pizza!

    Amie:  Great choice!

    sandy

     About Sandy Brehl:

    I’ve been an elementary educator and a writer in Wisconsin for many years. I also have file drawers full of rejection letters. Then I joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), which helped my writing immeasurably and led to this publication. When I’m not writing, I’m reading, gardening, and volunteering. Website Blog Facebook Twitter1 Twitter2 Goodreads

    How would you like to win a copy of Odin’s Promise?  Well, you know what to do!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Amie Borst co-authors the Scarily Ever Laughter series with her middle-grade daughter, Bethanie. Cinderskella is their first book and the sequel, Little Dead Riding Hood, releases October 2014.

    1 Comment

    Interview and Giveaway with Anne Blankman!

    Authors, Giveaways, Interviews, Librarians

    PrisonerOfNightandFogFinalCover

    In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

    Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

    And Gretchen follows his every command.

    Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

    As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

    From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

    *

    Let me start by saying Prisoner of Night and Fog is technically a young adult novel (full disclosure and all that) but I thought it would be a great addition to our historical fiction here at The Mixed-Up Files, especially for our upper Middle-Grade readers.

    Amie: I mentioned above that your book is technically YA, but how do you feel it will relate to the MG reader?

    Anne: As a librarian, I’m a big believer in matching children with books…and holding off when they’re not quite ready for a particular title. PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG is geared for those 12 and older, so I don’t consider it too mature for the upper MG crowd, let’s say seventh and eighth graders. My story does deal with weighty issues, such as anti-Semitism and violence, though, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting it in a ten- or eleven-year-old’s hands. What MG readers will probably like the best is my book’s mystery…and some female readers may like the romance the most of all. :)
    Amie:  That’s a good point. My 10 year old read a book recently that was a YA for 12 and up and she adored it! I think it comes down to the individual child, their reading preferences, abilities, and maturity level.  What was the most interesting thing you learned when writing this book?
    Anne: Oooh, it’s hard to pick just one! The strangest detail I discovered is actually about Hitler’s mustache. The reason he sported such a bizarre, tiny mustache is because he thought it made his nostrils look smaller. Apparently he was very self-conscious about them!
    Amie:  Ha! A Napoleon complex of nostrils! Do you have a favorite MG book from childhood?
    Anne:  This is almost a cruel question! I can only pick ONE favorite book?Hmm, the first one that leaps to mind is THE RUBY IN THE SMOKE by Philip Pullman. Gorgeous writing, a thrilling plot, a Victorian London setting, and a gutsy heroine–really, what more could you ask for?
    Amie: *Adds book to to-read list* We like to have a little fun here At MUF…so….Bed bugs or head lice? Farts or burps? Chocolate or vanilla?

    Anne:  I love these questions. Bed bugs for sure! Just the thought of little things crawling over my head wants me shudder. Ack! Definitely burps–it’s a compliment to someone’s cooking, right? And vanilla every time! Yum. Now you’ve made me hungry.

    Thanks so much for having me “visit”, Amie!

    Amie: Glad to have you, Anne!

    DSC_3331

    Anne Blankman grew up in a small town in upstate New York. She studied history and English at Union College and earned a master’s degree in library science from the University at Albany. She has worked for several years as a librarian. Currently Anne lives with her college sweetheart husband, Mike, and young daughter, Kirsten, in southeastern Virginia, where the hot summers haven’t killed her yet. PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG is her first novel.

    So, what do you say, Mixed-Up Members? Want to win a copy of Prisoner of Night and Fog? Well, you know what to do!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Amie Borst writes twisted fairy tales. Cinderskella and Little Dead Riding Hood are the first two books in the Scarily Ever Laughter series. Find her on facebook and her blog.

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