• 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 ...

  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • The Craft

    The Craft | The Process | The Writing Life

    Contrary to popular belief, writing a book isn’t just sitting, staring at a computer screen, spewing out words and hoping they’ll magically mold into some sort of story.  Oh, but wouldn’t that be wonderful?  Those little black letters and words could climb and squirm their way into some semblance of order until you have a coherent story, worthy of an audience!  But, alas, until someone creates this wonderful piece of technology, writing a book is quite the contrary.  It requires skill, patience, perseverance, and knowledge.  Part of that knowledge comes from understanding your craft.  There are many elements that go into writing a book, some of which might seem a little more elusive than others.  Characters need to be carefully crafted, worlds must be skillfully created, and the plot must carry through the entire story.  While those are some great starting points, there are even more things to consider—voice, characterizations, descriptions, showing the story to your reader through the character’s eyes, and engaging your audience.  Easy peasy.

    Characterization: The last thing you want is a cardboard cutout for a main character.  Honestly, that’s just flat, boring, and stiff.  Unless that’s your point, then go for it…? Maybe.  Otherwise, you’ll need to make your character engaging and someone for your readers to care about and root for.  And when introducing other characters, point out physical traits and characteristics other than eyes and hair color.  Think about the way they walk or how their hair falls into their face when they tip their head or how, no matter how many times this character bathes, they always smell like cheese.  I like cheese.  Swiss is my favorite.

    Grammar & Technique:  I done gone and writ a book. Win I was dun, I even uzed spill check. It be a good book. Reel smart persons are going ta loved it.

    Plot:  It was midnight. A girl woke from a nightmare.  About zombies.  She cried.  Her mother comforted her with milk and cookies.  The end.

    Show Don’t Tell:  This is best described in a wonderful quote by Anton Chekhov— “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”  Brrr….It’s cold outside.  Oh, I mean I have goosebumps on my arms! Time for a sweater.

    Voice :  This is really quite an elusive little thing that isn’t so little.  Yeah, it’s kind of vital to the life of your story.  Voice is your character’s unique way of speaking.  It’s the way they tilt their head, laugh with a sweet little trill and narrate your entire manuscript.  Voice takes practice, and once you get it, you’ll know it and so will your readers!

    World Building:  Zombies are cool.  That is all.

    * * * * *

    Beginnings:  Once upon a time.  It was a dark and stormy night.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  They call me Ishmael.

    Muddy Middles:  Help! My feet are stuck in quick sand and I’m sinking!  This story is going NO WHERE fast!

    Wrapping It Up:  And they all lived happily ever after.  The end.

    Back to MUF’s “For Writers” page


    1. Karron  •  Sep 18, 2012 @8:10 pm

      If it were easy, everyone could do it. There are those who struggle to write so much as a sentence that is their creation. There are those who can write 100 pages and never say anything. Then there are writers.


    2. Maryann Cocca-Leffler  •  Jan 10, 2014 @9:36 am

      Hi- So glad I found your blog (through SCBWI message board). I am a well-published author-illustrator of picturebooks…but a MG virgin, working on my first MG reader.
      I live in southern NH and would love to connect with other MG published authors in this area. Feel free to contact me. Maryann Cocca-Leffler


    Leave a Reply

    Allowed tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>