Category Archives: News

Fresh Faces on Mixed-Up Files!

The applicant pool that applied to join Mixed-Up Files was absolutely amazing. We were sorry we didn’t have more spaces to fill and were energized by the enthusiasm for our mission. But we are delighted to welcome twelve amazing new contributors to From the Mixed-Up Files!

via GIPHY

Although you can read all about them on our Member Bio page, we also asked them for their reading and writing-related resolutions for the new year. Here’s what they had to say:

Patricia Bailey: “My writing resolution is to finish the middle-grade novel I’ve been working on.”

Jenn Brisendine: “I plan to finish my current WIP, then research and draft another by summer. I’ve been focusing on reading MG historicals lately so I want to pick up some new fantasies, contemporaries, and other genres. I also want to re-read my favorite craft books like Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird.”

Heather Murphy Capps: “My New Year’s resolution is to amplify the voices of our writers of color — We Need Diverse Books!!”

Sean Easley: “I want to read at least twenty new MG books this year. I got a lot of them for Christmas and can’t wait to get started.”

Annabelle Fisher: “My reading goal is to read lots of MUF-member books, so I can get to know you all better. As for writing, I’m aiming to finish the first draft of my next book, which is about life in the library stacks.”

Robyn Gioia: “My goal is to write a graphic novel and read some marvelous new MG books!”

Amber J. Keyser: “My goal is to promote the heck out of the books I have coming out this year.”

S.A. Lawson: “I totally and utterly resolve to finish bk 2 of my MG series, (possibly write a sequel to my YA due out in March), & start a YA novel I’ve had mapped out for a year.”

Beth McMullen: “I want to finish the YA novel I started in 2016.”

Natalie Rompella: “To start from scratch on my mystery MG and complete drafts I and II by end of year. To have social media guide me to the best new books of 2017…and of course read them!”

Julie K. Rubini: “My writing goals are to finish MG bio I’m under contract for within deadline, complete and submit both PB bio and YA novel. I hope to read a work from each of our Claire’s Day authors and Illustrators!”

Suma Subramaniam: “My reading resolution is to add 40 diverse books to my bibliography (pb, mg and ya included), and my writing resolution is to finish the drafts of two MG novels.”

As you can tell by their resolutions, this is an energetic bunch. We are so excited to see what they bring to our Mixed-Up Files family.

Reasons to be Cheerful

Whatever your political leaning, you probably agree that it’s been a bruising couple of weeks. So for my last post on this blog, I’d like to share a few things that have made me happy lately.

truth-or-dare_final1- A book club for girls at Forgan Middle School in Forgan, Oklahoma chose to read my latest middle grade novel, TRUTH OR DARE. For the club’s seventh and eighth grade girls, as well as their teachers, to be able to buy their own copies, they needed a sponsor. And you know who sponsored their purchase of 23 hardcover copies? Delbert, the school custodian. The idea that this lovely man stepped up to buy all those copies of TRUTH OR DARE for a group discussing girls’ body issues, self-esteem, and related topics–well, it makes my heart burst.

A lot of folks want to keep kids reading–and they’re not just teachers, librarians, and publishing world insiders. Let’s be sure to celebrate the Delberts of the world. They’re definitely out there.

star-crossed-jpeg-516kb2-My next middle grade novel, STAR-CROSSED, will be published by Aladdin/S&S in March 2017. It’s about a middle school production of Romeo & Juliet in which the girl playing Romeo realizes she has a crush on the girl playing Juliet. This book is very much a middle grade novel–positive, gentle, and, unlike Shakespeare’s play, a comedy. Despite its lightness and wholesomeness, STAR-CROSSED would surely have been deemed too edgy for mainstream publication just a few years ago. But when I proposed STAR-CROSSED to my publisher, Simon & Schuster, they embraced it immediately–in fact, they recently highlighted it in their Spring 2017 Library/Education newsletter as a book promoting diversity. I’m also delighted to report that Scholastic has just licensed STAR-CROSSED (with a specially designed cover) for sale through book fairs and book clubs.   

So yes: #weneeddiversebooks on middle grade shelves. And you know what? We’re getting them. Joining STAR-CROSSED, LILY AND DUNKIN, GRACEFULLY GRAYSON, DRAMA, GEORGE,  LUMBERJANES and others, there’s Jen Petro-Roy’s PS, I MISS YOU coming Fall, 2017.  For more middle grade titles with LGBTQ characters, click here.

3-A related development in middle grade fiction: tough topics explored with special sensitivity for the age of the reader–for example, Nora Raleigh Baskin’s NINE, TEN, A September 11 Story

 

and RUBY ON THE OUTSIDE,

and Kate Messner’s THE SEVENTH WISH.

 My other book launching next year, HALFWAY NORMAL (Aladdin/S&S Dec 2017), deals with a different sort of tough topic. It’s about a girl who, upon returning to middle school after two years away for pediatric cancer treatment, feels as if she can’t communicate her story–until the class begins its study of Greek mythology. Not once did my publisher fret about the subject matter being too dark for middle grade readers; they trusted me to write something age-appropriate and even (yes, really, I promise!!) fun.

Ultimately, what I think HALFWAY NORMAL and STAR-CROSSED are both about is how books give kids a language to express themselves, and connect to others. I’m truly encouraged by the way publishers have embraced stories like these, which promote empathy, inclusiveness, self-expression and self-esteem. We’re expanding the notion of what middle grade books should be–reaching more kids, touching more hearts, and opening more minds. We’re also making kids smile. As we give thanks this week, let’s remember that middle grade books are better, and more important, than ever. Cheers!        

BARBARA DEE is the author of six middle grade novels published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, including TRUTH OR DARE, which was published in September.  Next year Aladdin/S&S will publish STAR-CROSSED (March 2017) and HALFWAY NORMAL (December 2017). 

Reminder: Applications Open

Just a reminder that there’s still time to submit your application to From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors. The details can be found here and applications close Tuesday, November 15, 2016.

Come join the fun!