Browsing the archives for the Authors category.

  • 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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  • Thicken thou Skin

    Authors, Inspiration

    Writers often stay in the closet about their writing. Why? Because admitting you’re an author opens you up to feedback, critique, and rejection – more than any professional outside of arts and entertainment.

    reject-stamp-100108266Staying in the closet, however, means never getting published. For this reason, writers are encourage to thicken their skin and get used to rejection. Easier said than done, especially since most writers are sensitive and empathetic by nature.

    I am hyper-sensitive to rejection of any kind, even outside of my writing life, and self-doubt has been my worst enemy for as long as I can remember. After five years in the business of being an author, my skin has not been thickened – wrinkled, but not thickened – and my ego is more fragile than ever.

    At first, I thought the self doubt would disappear after I finished my first manuscript. Nope- that was when I first came out of the closet and faced the rejection of publishers.

    First published book? Nope – then it was reviews and sales records.

    Second published book? Nope – ditto to above followed by the rejection of my third manuscript.

    Agent? Well, this is the stage I’m at now, having just signed my first (and hopefully last) contract with a literary agent earlier this month. I am excited about this new step in my career but I have to admit, by this time in the game I am grizzled and wrinkled enough to know that the need for thick skin does not end here. As we work on another set of edits before she makes my first agented submission, I know we heading back at stage one (only this time in a tank with bigger fish – and sharks).

    ID-10086055Since my skin is not thickening on its own, I’ve collected a list of links that can help writers – and anyone with a heart beat, really – face the world of feedback, criticism, and rejection. Not exactly light summer reading but maybe, just maybe, it can help bring us into fall with something more useful than a sunburn.

    Rejection: 3 Methods for Coping (Gotham Writers) A good, quick place to start.

     25 Things Writers Should Know About Rejection (Terrible Minds) Digger deeper with ideas that go beyond the standard “suck it up”. Caution: mostly flowery, but occasionally foul, language.

    5 Ways for Writers to Overcome Self-Doubts (write to done) While some of these pointers apply to more seasoned writers (NOT authors), I love The Pimple Rule. Great links to other posts on making peace with criticism and why feeling like a failure boosts creativity.

    The Seven Stages of Publishing Grief (Writer Unboxed) Describes the ups and downs of writing in the age of google and amazon with a demonstration of how a writers reaction to bad book news follows the seven stages of grief.

    Famous Writers Who Were Rejected Before Making it Big (Bubble Cow)In an industry where comparison is paramount, remembering that all the great ones – our mentors, our role models, the objects of our envy – have also been rejected can literally help keep us sane.

    I truly believe that if you are not getting rejected you are not getting published but sometimes – okay, often – a gentle reminder is in order. And since the web is littered with them, here are some more:

    Best Sellers Originally Rejected (Literary Rejections)

    Famous Authors Harshest Rejection Letters (Flavorwire)

    Literary Rejections on Display: When all else fails, it helps to know you are not alone. This blog is for the not-so-famous among us to share the pain of rejection.

    Famous Writers on Literary Rejection (Aerogramne Writers’ Studio) And finally, some words of inspiration from writers who have been through the tunnel and reached the light of success but still faced rejection.


    If you have any tips to share, please comment! I’d love to hear how you’ve thickened thou skin. Or have you given up?

     Yolanda Ridge is represented by Amy Tompkins of the Transatlantic Literary Agency. Her books include Trouble in the Trees (Orca Book Publishers, 2011) and Road Block (Orca Book Publishers, 2012).

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    The case for outlining

    Authors, Writing MG Books

    I outwardly claim to be a “pantser,” writing by the seat of my pants, as I do so many other things in life. Inwardly, I yearn to be a planner in life and an outliner in writing, but my outline resistance has deep roots. And then, last spring, during a workshop on story structure, this simple comment changed my ways:

    “Planning a vacation doesn’t ruin a vacation … yet,” said Claudia Gabel, senior executive editor at Katherine Tegan Books during the SCBWI Western Washington conference in April 2014.

    Okay, it didn’t actually change my ways … yet. But the potential and inspiration are there. I still needed to hear from writer friends who work with outlines. Here’s what I’ve learned (bios of authors interviewed are at the end of this post):case of the library monster

    If you haven’t always been an outliner, what was it about a particular book/project that turned you around?

    Dori Hillestad Butler: Selling a project on a proposal and then having an editor need to see a chapter-by-chapter outline! I was a very reluctant outliner at that time. But now I actually like to outline. I think it saves me time overall. It helps me focus. And because I have an outline, I usually know what’s coming next…unless I get partway into a story and realize my outline is wrong. Sometimes that happens. When it does, I usually re-do the outline. Sometimes I wonder if my “outline” is some other writer’s idea of a “first draft.”

    vanished book coverSheela Chari: I was a pantser type for sure. But when I decided to try my hand at writing a children’s mystery novel, I discovered I really needed to have a plan. Not a foggy one where I had some notion of how it would all end, but something more detailed that could help me construct a satisfying mystery story, where chronology, timing, and the sequencing of information (i.e. clues) were all crucial. There was no way to do this without planning things out on paper.

    Christina Wilsdon: I have always been an outliner. I can remember writing reports about different states back in 5th grade and how putting all the information I gathered into the right categories felt so efficient and kind of like herding sheep into the right pens. Over the years, as projects got more complex, outlining helped not only to corral information but also revealed gaps I should fill and sometimes even fostered connections between categories.

    Stacey R. Campbell: I did not use an outline while writing my first book. That book took me four years to complete …  Then one morning, over coffee, I read an article of the value of creating an outline and decided I would give it a try with my second book Hush. I finished writing Hush in less then six months.

    Briefly, what is your process for creating an outline? Do you know the end, and build in between?

    girls research book coverJennifer Phillips: I used to do a traditional outline starting with the beginning and working sequentially but then I read some writing advice that got me experimenting with the ending first. For fiction, I think this is a very interesting technique and I’m going to try it more. For non-fiction, it depends on the nature of the work. But I’ve been outlining a biography on Horace Mann that I’m slowly tackling in between other projects and life. I started with a high-level outline of the overall chapter structure first, after I had done a bunch of initial research, and then I started outlining within each chapter, just a brief description of the beginning, middle and end to make sure I’m telling a narrative story within each chapter. I also add outline notes about sensory details I want to include when I outline a book or short story.

    Sheela: The outline never stays set in stone – it evolves along with the rest of my story. This way I have room to change, take the story in a new direction, but always have a game plan that I can refer back to when I get lost.

    Christina: Most of my completed works are nonfiction. For these outlines, I know I usually want to go from introductory broad-overview sorts of topics and end with a wrap-up that’s broad. And then I plan the in-between.

    How often do you refer to your outline?

    hushStacey: Daily when I’m writing and rewriting I refer to my outline. It helps keep me moving forward. It is a map of what is to come, what has happened, and what needs to be enhanced.

    Jennifer: I use my outline throughout a writing project. One reason is that it serves as my memory. I have to juggle a lot of family/work commitments and I can’t usually tackle a project in one continuous stream of writing. I also don’t feel constrained and imprisoned by it; I’ll revise the outline if a story is emerging differently than I expected. The one exception is when I’m doing a work-for-hire non-fiction book. The editorial team, in my experience, provides manuscript specs and requests an outline for initial approval before you start writing. If I want to change some significantly from the approved outline, that’s a conversation with the editor first.

    For Horse-Crazy Girls OnlyChristina: For a long nonfiction book, I actually copy and paste the outline into my document, and start writing in the outline sections. I go back later and re-title the outline’s items and move and delete as  necessary.

    How do you use your outline in writing a synopsis? 

    Jennifer: My outlines become the first draft of a synopsis. I make a copy and work right from that file.

    Stacey: As for the synopsis- so much easier with an outline!! It’s practically done for you

    Any tips for reluctant outliners?

    Jennifer: Just start with a high-level beginning, middle and end. Don’t get bogged down in the type of outline you may have used to write an English composition assignment. And if you’re a visual person, make it visual. Don’t torture yourself over trying to find a perfect format. Do whatever works for you!

    Thank you so much to these generous authors for their insights on outlining:
    Dori Hillestad Butler is the author of the Edgar-winning The Buddy Files mystery series and The Haunted Library (August 2014) chapter book series.
    Sheela Chari is the author of the Edgar-nominated middle grade mystery Vanished, the book that switched her from pantser to outliner.
    Stacey R. Campbell is the author of Hush; her debut middle grade Arrrgh! is coming in September 2014.
    Jennifer Phillips is the author of Girls Research: Amazing Tales of Female Scientists, for grades 4 through 6.
    Christina Wilsdon has written many nonfiction books, including the middle grade For Horse Crazy Girls Only.

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    Book Expo America – Photo Essay & Musings

    Authors, Book Lists, Industry News, Inspiration, Librarians, Teachers

    I just got home from my first ever BEA (Book Expo America) bookseller convention held at the Javits Center in New York City. It’s been nearly 10 years since I visited New York and, though I came very close to canceling the whole thing 3 weeks before, the experience ended up very much worth all the flights from my tiny corner of the world in the Southwest, the Dramamine (ha!) and the angst/worry/nerves/chewed fingernails.


    Javits Center, New York City

    Highlights of my experience:

    1. This summer my 4th novel will publish with Scholastic (THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES) and I finally got to meet my talented and terrific editor for the first time. Scholastic also set me up with an ARC signing – we estimated at least 100 copies in 45 minutes. Whew! So much fun.

    2. I was also able to meet my Harpercollins editor for the first time (FORBIDDEN, Nov ’14) and discuss edits for Book 2 in the trilogy as well as their forthcoming marketing/publicity plans. My editor called it a “robust” marketing plan – whoo hoo!!

    I’ve been to ALA and IRA Conventions before, which are geared toward librarians and teachers, while BEA is put on by booksellers (although teachers, librarians, publishers, authors, and READERS, are there in wild abundance.)

    I discovered that agents, foreign agents from around the world, movie people, as well as folks from outside publicity firms are also at BEA in strong numbers. I was able to meet and chat with Scholastic and Harpercollins sales and marketing folks manning their respective booths eager to talk about upcoming Fall titles.

    BEA Diversity Panel

    The WeNeedDiverseBooks Panel Members. I missed it but I heard it was FANTASTIC!!! Raves from everyone who attended.

    BEA Diverse

    As you can see from the standing room only crowd waiting for the Diversity Panel to begin.

    My two days was so wild and crazy with appts, panels, classes (yes there are many of these, much more than I expected), lunches, and autographing sessions, I neglected to take a picture of the Autographing Area. Believe me, there were THOUSANDS of people there to snag ARCs and meet their favorite authors. I did notice that Adult and Young Adult authors were in higher abundance than Middle-Grade Authors. I had one of the few MG ARC signings and the line was crazy huge. I signed like a mad woman, (while trying to simultaneously chat with the terrific readers and booksellers and librarians – my publicist and editor unpacking and opening the books as fast as they could next to me) that I have NO pictures. Truly, I was there! Really! :-)

    BEA Children’s Book Breakfast: Carl Hiaasen, Mem Fox, Jason Segal , and Jeff Kinney (l to r)

    Your Average Book-Lover Citizen was able to attend on the final day of Saturday since the BEA convention organizers added a Book Con day (also called Power Reader Day) to the schedule. The public was able to purchase tickets, grab ARCs as well as enjoy demonstrations, games, and panel events with their favorite authors.

    Read a great recap of panels and events here: BEA Round-Up by Publisher’s Weekly

    Pics From the Floor!


    I *am* partial to the purple flooring . . .


    Middle-Grade Books!


    More Books!


    Scholastic titles that have sold internationally.



    A Lego Bounty Hunter: couldn’t help myself.


    The aisles go as far as you can see in both directions.


    Audio Books!


    Publisher’s Weekly as well as Booklist, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and other reviewers were represented.


    I tried to snap displays of MG books for y’all.


    Barefoot Books


    Self-Explanatory. :-)




    Gorgeous weather enjoyed by all – except when it suddenly poured rain trying to get a taxi to the airport Saturday late afternoon. Some of my ARCs got wet in my bag. :-(


    Was anybody at BEA that I missed? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments.

    June 27-28 I’m headed to the American Library Association Summer Conference – raise your hand if you’re going! Would love to meet more readers and writers.

    Kimberley Griffiths Little’s newest MG novel will release July 29. THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES has already received terrific reviews from Kirkus, PW, and School Library Journal said, “A perfect choice for lovers of ghost stories, historical fiction, or just a good yarn.” Stay tuned for her launch with giveaways right here on MUF. Find Kimberley on Facebook. and Twitter:@KimberleyGLittl

    Teacher’s Guides, Mother/Daughter Book Club Guides, and book trailers “filmed on location” at her website.

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