Interview with Kimberley G. Little, author of When the Butterflies Came

Summer Author Blitz buttonI’m always up for promoting wonderful authors, so when I heard about the Summer Author Blitz, I jumped on the chance to participate. The Summer Author Blitz is organized by Belle Whittington and Tabatha Perry of the Montgomery County Book Festival. Thanks, guys! And there will be a Twitter party for the #2013SummerAuthorBlitz on July 19 at 7pm and a Facebook event on July 26 at 3pm, so don’t miss them.

Kimberley G. Little

Kimberley G. Little

Today I’m featuring author Kimberley G. Little, author of the middle-grade mystery novel WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME, who’s giving away a copy of her book and some swag (see below). Told you she was wonderful.

This book is her sixth for young readers, and it tells the story of young Tara Doucet dealing with love, loss, family and magic. Here’s the description:

Everybody thinks Tara Doucet has the perfect life. But Tara’s life is anything but perfect: Her dear Grammy Claire has just passed away, her mom is depressed and distant, and she and her sister, Riley, can’t agree on anything. But when mysterious and dazzling butterflies begin to follow her around after Grammy Claire’s funeral, Tara knows in her heart that her grandmother has left her one final mystery to solve.

Tara finds a stack of keys and detailed letters from Grammy Claire. Note by note, Tara learns unexpected truths about her grandmother’s life. As the letters grow more ominous and the clues harder to decipher, Tara realizes that the secrets she must uncover could lead to grave danger. And when Tara and Riley are swept away to the beautiful islands of Chuuk to hear their grandmother’s will, Tara discovers the most shocking truth of all, one that will change her life forever.

Sounds so enchanting! I can’t wait to read it.

I asked Kimberley four quick questions. Here’s what she said:

What inspired you to write WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME?

When the Butterflies Came bookcoverSo many things! The magical world of butterflies . . . spooky Louisiana swamps . . . old plantation houses . . . treehouses on an island in the South Pacific . . . and a girl who is connected to all those things through her Grammy Claire.

I love mysteries and wanted to try my hand at writing a mystery that didn’t have ghosts or paranormal elements. I took the prettiest girl at school (also a character from my book, CIRCLE OF SECRETS), but gave her a brain along with her silky, waterfall hair.

Tara begins receiving secret letters and keys from her scientist grandmother whose sudden death was untimely, and who imparts her secrets from beyond the grave through these letters so Tara can figure out who/what is trying to destroy the unusual butterflies her grandmother was researching in Micronesia.

It was fun to write about a very smart and very cool grandmother because I never knew my own grandmothers — and I hope I can be a very cool grandma too someday!

What were your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge was putting the pieces of the mystery together and having it all make sense. Plotting out a book often gets convoluted. I use 3×5 cards to help me piece it together. It’s helpful to spread them all out on a big table or the floor to make sure the puzzle *fits*.

Learning about the island of Chuuk in Micronesia was also a challenge — without spending my life-savings to travel there. After exhausting the Internet and books and YouTube, I came across two people who’d lived there and was able to interview them. I adore the cool tidbits you learn through research and incorporating them into the story.

Did anything surprise you about the process?

I *love* unexpected twists, and there is a marvelous twist at the end of this book that didn’t come to me until I was part way through the first draft.

Are you working on anything else now?

I just turned in the editorial revisions for my next novel to my editor at Scholastic for Summer, 2014. It’s called THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES and is about a girl who lives in an antique store with a cursed doll.

I’m also doing final work on my YA debut with Harpercollins Fall 2014. It was pitched as the YA version of The Red Tent and sold in a huge deal to Harper. The story is about the roots of bellydance in the ancient Middle East, goddess temples, tribal warfare, and a delicious romance.

A firm title is still forthcoming so keep checking my website for details and keep up with me on Facebook and Twitter where I’m pretty active. 🙂

Thanks, Kimberley!

And active is right! You can find Kimberley online at all these places:

And here’s the trailer for WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME:

Have a look at the rest of the Summer Author Blitz schedule.

Now, click the link below to enter for your chance to get a copy of Kimberley’s novel and swag:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Interview: Lynda Mullaly Hunt, One for the Murphys

Lynda Mullaly HuntDebut author Lynda Mullaly Hunt‘s novel One for the Murphys doesn’t come out until May 10, but it has already received lots of praise, including a starred review from Kirkus. So, who better to talk writing with?

I met Lynda at a Writer’s League of Texas event in March and as soon as I heard about One for the Murphys, I put it on my to-read list. The middle-grade novel follows Carley Connors, who is thrust into foster care after a heart-breaking betrayal. In the happy, bustling Murphys family, Carley’s in a world she doesn’t understand, and it frightens her. She resists the life of dinners around a table and a “zip your jacket, here’s your lunch” kind of mom. But with the help of her Broadway-obsessed friend Toni, the Murphys show Carley what it feels like to feel like you belong. Until her mother tries to get her back.

Sounds like it could be heart breaking. (Check out the book trailer at the end of this interview.)

The winner of The Tassy Walden Award: New Voices in Children’s Literature, Lynda is a former teacher and scenario writing coach. Here’s what Lynda told us about her book and writing process:

Me: When you started writing One for the Murphys, did you begin with characters, a situation or did the whole story pop into your head?

Lynda: I always begin with pure character and then discover the plot later. The first seed of Carley Connors took root during a conversation with my 9-year-old son about Luke Skywalker (from the movie, Star Wars) finding out who his real father is. I began to think how interesting it would be to long for something yet wish it away at the same time. Although, there were other seeds germinating as well that would lead to Murphys.

I had seen the Broadway play Wicked and was struck by the wonderful writing, the main character of Elphaba and the idea of “Defying Gravity.” The more I played the soundtrack, the more Toni, one of my characters in the book, spoke to me.

When I was young, I lived with another family for a few months; they gave me a peek into a world I had not known before. I left their house with new ideas about what my life could — no, would — hold for me.

Finally, as a young teacher, I met a friend who became a mom-figure to me — always kind, supportive and protective. This woman’s initials are JM. This is why the foster mother is named Julie Murphy. I wanted her to have the same initials as this friend who had mothered me.

Three weeks after the Luke Skywalker conversation, the voice of Carley Connors popped into my head while I was doing the dishes. I ran to the computer (although it was awful to tear myself away from the dishes!) and wrote what would become the first chapter of One for the Murphys. I knew my character, Carley Connors, immediately. But, I learned her story as I went along. 

One for the MurphysMe: From that inspiration, did you outline the story or jump into the first draft?

Lynda: I’ve tried outlines, but they point and laugh at me.

Not only do I just jump in, but then I proceed to jump all over the place. I begin a book by writing the beginning; seems pretty normal thus far, right? When I’m a few chapters in, my mind will decide to show me the ending, so I write that. Then I spend the rest of the time connecting the two. However, all of those in-between chapters are written completely and utterly out of order.

My writing seems to be driven by the emotions of the characters. I really don’t know what part of the book I’ll be writing as I make coffee in the kitchen and “prepare.” Then, when I sit down — BAM! — it’s usually there. Something, anyway. (If the writing stinks to begin with, I just keep writing through the stinky period.)

After finishing a scene, I write its title/subject on a 3×5 card and put it on a magnetic white board. As the book progresses, I work on putting these cards in order. Every chapter of a book is a separate file on my computer; piecing them together to create a novel later is actually fun! It’s like doing the ultimate puzzle! When it is assembled, I read it from beginning to end and add text to create smooth transitions between chapters. It’s a nutty process — but it’s all mine!

Me: Which do you enjoy most and why: writing the first draft or revising subsequent drafts?

Lynda: Ooooh, hard to answer. Well, I have always liked to revise more than most writers do. However, I suppose I favor writing the first draft, as writers usually write to their strengths and revise to their weaknesses. Most of my emotion/character comes through on the first round and then I revise for plot, adding tension, deepening characters with details, etc. I guess I’m kind of a woos on this question, because I really can’t decide. I love to deepen characters while I revise! But I love to create them out of thin air, too!

Me: Were there any storylines, scenes or characters that you ended up cutting from One for the Murphys? If so, why were they left out?

Lynda: Actually, the first line that appeared in my head while doing the dishes that day was, “I ask the nurse how long I’ve been out.” I mean, I could feel the fatigue of this kid. Smell the hospital. I knew her instantly. It was weird.

However, during my last revision before my agent sent it out to editors, I decided that the story really begins with Carley’s arrival at the Murphys’. So, I cut the first three chapters of Carley being in the hospital (although I copied them off first and highlighted anything that needed to be kept and woven in later).  The story now begins with Carley’s car ride to their house and important hospital details are shown in memories.

Also, in the first round of revisions with my agent, I cut way back on two characters, Rainer and Mandy. Both still exist, but not nearly to the extent they did earlier. I wanted to deepen Carley’s experience with the Murphys and her friendship with Toni. If I hadn’t cut Mandy’s subplot, the book would have been too long.

Me: When you’re done with a manuscript, what do you do to celebrate?

Lynda: Erm…well…to be honest? I sleep before anything. However, my husband, children and I do go out for a fancy dinner!

My most *favorite* writerly way of celebrating, though, is early on when I have enough written (50ish pages) that it feels like it’s becoming a book. I go to Staples (They love me there. When I walk in, a banner drops from the ceiling that reads, “Welcome, Lynda!”) and I buy a new binder and new tabs and go home and print out chapters and begin to assemble it. Then I run around the house and show everyone! I LOVE this!

Me: Wonderful! And I love that you celebrate mid-book too.

Thanks for the interview, Lynda. Can’t wait to read One for the Murphys.

Find out more about Lynda on her blog. She also blogs at her agenby blog EMusDebuts and Class of 2K12 and can be followed at Twitter at @LynMullalyHunt.

Here’s the One for the Murphys book trailer:

Book categorization: Protagonist’s age or story’s theme?

The Fault in our Stars

I’ve been mulling over this post for a while, ever since I read Salon‘s Laura Miller praising two young adult novels, John Green‘s The Fault in Our Stars and Meg Rosoff‘s There Is No Dog. Not that I have any objection to her praise. On the contrary, what concerned me is the reason for their classification as young adult.

Miller describes the books as “smarter, better-written and more emotionally complex than most adult fiction.” High praise indeed, and very much deserved, but when Miller asked, “Why should you, an adult, bother with a novel intended for an audience aged 14 to 18?” it made me wonder: Were these stories really written just for that audience?

Books for children and teens are, of course, categorized by the age group of their audience. Picture books, early readers, chapter books, middle grade, upper middle grade, young adult — these all guide kids to books that are appropriate for their age. I have no complaint with the categories. It’s good for parents and children to be able to quickly identify which books are right for them.

But what does give me pause is the reason books get slotted into one of these categories. Too often it’s based on the age of the protagonist. If the protagonist is 10, the book is considered middle grade; 13-14, upper middle grade or younger young adult; 17, squarely in young adult.

But is that really the best way?

The Fault in Our Stars and There Is No Dog, as Miller says, “ask questions as difficult as those posed by any serious writer: Why do we suffer, why must we die, and what meaning can be found in any of it?”

These are very adult themes. So again, what makes us assume they were “intended for an audience aged 14 to 18?”

There Is No DogWell, Green’s protagonist, Hazel, who’s dying of thyroid cancer, is 16, and Rosoff’s protagonist, Bob, the creator of the world, is a teenage boy.

Now, I don’t personally know these authors and haven’t posed the question to them. But as a writer who shares every writer’s goal — to create the best story possible — I’ve got another theory of why these books were written with protagonists these ages: It worked for the story.

Green is writing about the tragedy of cancer and our yearning for life. If he had written Hazel as a 30-year-old, or 50-year-old, the tragedy wouldn’t be as poignant as it is for a 16-year-old. Not to say that a 30- or 50-year-old with cancer isn’t tragic, but their stories would be different and would answer different questions.

Rosoff’s Bob isn’t a call out to teenage boys saying, hey, what would you do if you created the world? It’s a humorous look at how ridiculous the world can be — even when it’s ruled by so-called adults — and how it might be if a teenage boy was at the controls.

These books weren’t written to entertain teens. They were written to tell the most powerful, funny and touching versions of their stories. And to do that, the authors chose an age for their protagonist that worked best for their tale.

Miller says the books “are not afraid to respond to these questions unflinchingly. … I can think of a dozen acclaimed contemporary adult novelists who blunder through this territory…”

While I love her praise, what she’s missing — and anyone who thinks of books about children or teens as only for that audience are missing — is that sometimes, to really look at ourselves and our world, we should look at it through the eyes of those younger than us, not as jaded as us, the eyes of those who can see us and our world more clearly than we can.

Should Lord of the Flies be classified as a middle-grade because it’s about a group of 13-year-olds? Should Ender’s Game be given to early readers because its protagonist starts the book at age 6? Is it even appropriate for middle grade, as Ender grows to age 9?

Ender's Game

I read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game as a teenager. Back then, there was no “young adult” classification and Ender’s Game was considered an adult book. My father gave it to me to read and I felt quite proud reading my first adult novel. Now the book can be found in young adult shelves, but if booksellers, librarians and marketers went by the age of the protagonist, it would be available to readers who are much younger. And it shouldn’t be! This is not a book for kids — it’s a look at society, what we’re willing to sacrifice, and how that affects the children we use. An adult theme if ever I’ve seen one.

No, books shouldn’t be judged by the age of their protagonist. They should be judged by what they have to say. Appropriateness for an audience shouldn’t be judged by the characters, but by the situations they’re in, the book’s theme even.

And there’s another reason that books shouldn’t be shelved based on the age of their protagonist: It limits the audience. A friend of mine told me recently that she recommended The Fault In Our Stars to an avid reader of adult novels, but the reader turned up her nose because the book is “young adult.” To her credit, my friend told the reader to try Green’s novel anyway — the reader did and loved it.

So, I ask all agents, editors, marketers, booksellers and librarians: Don’t judge a book by its protagonist’s age; judge it by the story. Spread the word to all appropriate readers based on theme and you just might find a new audience.

Beautiful Beginnings: Bethany Hegedus’ Between Us Baxters

Between Us BaxtersEditors and agents talk a lot about “voice,” that seemingly elusive quality that every good book possesses. As soon as I started reading Between Us Baxters by Bethany Hegedus, I was immediately struck with one thought: “Wow, what a voice!”

Between Us Baxters is a middle-grade novel set in the fall of 1959, a time of racial tension in Holcolm County, Georgia. The story is told by 12-year-old Polly, who’s white, and looks at her relationships with her poor parents, her overbearing grandmother, and her best friend, 14-year-old Timbre Ann, who’s African-American. When thriving colored businesses start getting burned to the ground, Polly worries about losing her friendship with Timbre Ann.

Heavy subject matter indeed, as well as important and poignant.

Bethany begins the novel with writing that packs a punch. Reading it, you immediately get a sense of Polly, her character and her circumstances. For me, whose accent is far away from Southern, I even found my thoughts twinged with a twange.

Here’s the first page from Between Us Baxters:

Like Moses, Meemaw had ten commandments. On Sundays, I was bound as if by the Bible to a long list of rules. Before dinner, be seen and not heard. Once at the table, lay my napkin in my lap. Keep my elbows off the table, ankles crossed. Bow my head while Uncle Jimmy presides over the prayer. Pass the rolls to my right. Don’t talk with my mouth full. Use the soupspoon only for soup. Wipe my mouth with a napkin, not the back of my hand. And never leave the table before being excused.

Why, if Moses had a number eleven, Lord help me Jesus, Meemaw could have come up with another one. But Holcolm County, Georgia, beat her to it. Here we were all supposed to live by the “no befriending Negroes” rule.

Mama and I preferred to break a few commandments every now and again. And today we weren’t giving credence to the one unwritten law the entire South, not just Georgia, subscribed to. This morning, we were breaking bread with the Biggses.

Can’t you just see this character? Her voice is so strong. Her colloquialisms (“Lord help me Jesus”), her attitude (“Meemaw could have come up with another one”) and her principles (“we weren’t giving credence to the one unwritten law”).

We can also imagine Polly sitting at that Sunday table, trying her best to follow all of Meemaw’s rules — and hating every minute of it.

The first page of a novel can mean the difference between a sale and the book getting ignored. By studying Between Us Baxters, we can see a good example of a first page that works.

Have you read any brilliant beginnings lately? What are you favorites?

Author Recommendations

For my last post in Random Acts of Publicity Week, I’m sending out some love to my author friends:

Jaqueline Kelly‘s debut novel, The Evolution of Capurnia Tate, won the 2010 Newbury Award. The book tells the story of an 11-year-old girl who takes an interest in nature as she learns what’s it means to be a girl in the turn of the century.

Bethany Hegedus is the author of two middle-grade books, Between Us Baxters and Truth With a Capital T, about girls, secrets and family.

Jenny Moss‘ first book, Winnie’s War, is a historical middle-grade novel and won the Bank Streets Children’s Books of the Year award. She has also published two more novels, both young adult: the fantasy adventure Shadow and the romance Taking Off.

Jennifer Zeigler‘s three young adult novels are Alpha Dog, How NOT To Be Popular and the most recent, Sass & Serendity, a tribute to, you guessed it… Her How NOT To be Popular is being developed as a movie.

PJ Hoover recently published her first young adult novel, Solstice, this year, but prior to that, she wrote the Forgotten Worlds Trilogy for middle-grade readers,

Jessica Lee Anderson‘s young adult novel Calli is the latest in a line of five books. Jessica’s other work are the novels Border Crossing and Trudy and the non-fiction books What Is a Living Thing? and Presidential Pets.

Kari Ann Holt, or K.A. Holt as her reader fans might know her, has two books: the outerspace adventure Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel and the zombie haiku novel Brains For Lunch.

Gwen Cooper is the only author of adult books on my list. Her first novel is Diary of a South Beach Party Girl, and her second, Homer’s Odyssey, about Gwen’s amazing eye-less cat, is a New York Times bestseller.

Great writers. Great books. Check them out.

Book Recommendation: Zack Proton series

So, it’s Random Acts of Publicity Week — an idea I love — so this week, I’ll be posting book recommendations.

First up is the Zack Proton series by Brian Anderson, a writer in my local Austin area.

Zack Proton Book 1When I moved to Austin and started attending the SCBWI meetings here, I kept hearing from people, “You have to read Brian Anderson’s Zack Proton series!” So I was thrilled to meet Brian at the SCBWI booth at the Texas Library Association convention. When he showed me his books, I quickly understood why everyone had been raving about them.

The three-book series follows The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton, the young leader of a spaceship delivering 16 million bags of mail across the galaxy. Unfortunately, when our hero needs the restroom, he accidentally opens the wrong door at the back of his ship — despite numerous signs warning him not to — and falls out. He’s rescued by Omega Chimp, the last chimpanzee who was sent into space. And let the adventures begin…

Zack Proton Book 2In book one, The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Red Giant, the reluctant duo battle the “eviliest, nastiest, most horriblest space giant ever to walk the spaceways — Big Large!”

In book two, The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Warlord of Nibblecheese, the duo must rescue a group of second graders from the renegade band of warrior space mice, who are kidnapping Earth’s teachers and replacing them with robots.

And in book three, The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Wrong Planet, the duo think the’ve finally caught up with Zack’s lost mail ship, but the planet keeps disappearing.

Zack Proton Book 3Anderson filled the books with humor that kids ages 7-10 will love, and it’s enhanced beautifully with the illustrations by Doug Holgate. Just like any good picture, Holgate’s illustrations add more to the story. For example, at the beginning of the first book, the text says, “Commander Zack Proton kept a watchful eye on the stars and galaxies whizzing past his window as his intergalactic starship raced toward the far end of the universe.” But the illustrations show our hero in his commander seat reading a book!

The cherry on top of this book is brief interludes in the story, such as comics featuring our intrepid heroes, a recipe for the banana pancakes Omega Chimp’s mom made, and Zack Proton’s Tips for Young Space Heroes, which invariably turn out to be wrong.

Inventive and fun, I highly recommend The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton series. With the mix of text and illustrations, plus the jokes, this middle-grade book series is especially good for boys who are reluctant readers.

Find out more at www.Zack Proton.com

Have you read these? Tell me what you think.

Writing Young Adult Fiction by Deborah Halverson

Staying on the topic of revising, I talked to someone who knows a lot about making children’s literary the best. Deborah Halverson has been on both sides of the desk, working as an editor for Harcourt for 10 years and later as an author of two teen novels, Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth, both published by Delacorte/Random House. She also founded the DearEditor.com website where she helps other writers take their work to the next level.

Deborah Halverson

Deborah Halverson

Today, she’s launching her newest book, Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, in which she poured all her experience and knowledge. (Check back soon for a review.)

Deborah chatted with us about editing, writing and switching genres.

You’ve been on both sides of the desk as an editor and as an author. How do the jobs differ?

I’ve always seen editing and writing as two very different jobs—creating versus trouble-shooting. What surprises me is their chief commonality: both require firm decision-making. You can’t be mamby-pamby with the elements and characters in your manuscript if you’re going to finish the darn thing and polish it up for submission. You have to conceive, implement, and then look at the page and decide yay or nay and then move on. I believe lack of decisiveness is a big factor in writer’s block.

An editor must be equally decisive. She’s got more work on her desk than hours in the day, and if she can’t make dozens of decisions every day (read this submission or that contracted manuscript? Reject or offer a contract? Ask for more revision or accept the draft you’ve got? Is this the problem with the plot or that? Position the book this way or that?), she’s as stalled as any writer suffering the terrible W.B. And obviously, a stalled editor ain’t a good thing.

Do you find it easy to edit your own work, or is it easier to edit someone else’s? Why?

Objectivity is impossible to maintain when you’re writing a novel. It is essential for editing one. Thus it’s easier to edit someone else’s manuscript than my own. I self-edit my manuscripts to a point where I feel that I’ve spotted all the weaknesses I’m ever going to spot, and then I bring in an editor friend to give it the once over. This all happens before I submit to my agent. And since my agent has an editorial background, she’ll throw in her 2 cents, too. And yay for that! Whatever makes the story stronger.

Interestingly, sometimes an editor in a publishing house can read through a single manuscript and its revisions so many times that she feels too close herself and decides to bring in a fresh set of eyes. When that happens, she’ll step over to the office next door and ask her colleague to take a look to make sure all the issues have been resolved. And then copyeditors and even proofreaders might pick up on something because they are coming in fresh! It’s all in service of the story, the author, and the reader.

Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies book coverYou started out writing novels and have now turned your experience into the non-fiction instructional book Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies. How different was it to write this book compared to your novels?

I discovered that I really, really enjoy writing nonfiction. That wasn’t a total surprise since I very much enjoy writing my writing advice posts on my website DearEditor.com, but the extent of my joy in the genre was eye opening. My challenge with this book wasn’t inventing characters and plotlines out of nowhere as it is when I write novels, it was trying to word potentially dry material in an accessible and engaging way. I loved finding creative and even funny ways to come at the material. Loved it!

My litmus test was my editor at Wiley. If I could cause her to send me an email out of the blue that said, “Ha! Just read X. Funny, Halverson” then I knew I scored. She and my copyeditor have awesome senses of humor and so writing this book was a joy all around. I hope that comes through for readers.

What was your biggest challenge writing your For Dummies book? And what pleases you the most about it?

Getting it done! The delivery dates for the WYAFFD chapters were tighter than I’d ever operated under before, so just meeting the deadlines was a challenge. 358 pages in 5 months. Phew! I had to put a lot of my life on hold to complete it. Luckily, my editor and copyeditor were not only funny but speedy, so we got into a productive groove and pulled it off. The positive energy buoyed me as I worked into the night and through the weekends.

I’m very proud of the book and what it offers writers, but most of all I’m pleased about the take-away factor. That is, I believe writers of all levels will take from the book solid, tangible techniques that they can apply to their writing immediately and see obvious results. Perhaps it’s the teacher in me, but application to one’s manuscript was very important to me from the get-go.

What’s your favorite piece of advice that you’ve learned for YA writers?

Writers of teen and tween fiction must cultivate a youthful narrative voice. Whether their writing first person, third, or omniscient, they need to respect and reflect the sensibility of their young readers. I devote an entire chapter to creating a youthful narrative voice in WYAFFD, but you can get the quick down-low from this free Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies printable Cheat Sheet.

Thanks, Deborah! Great information.

To celebrate the launch of WYAFFD, Deborah is giving away free chapter critiques and a grand prize of a full manuscript critique. So get over to DearEditor.com and enter.

Keeping up with middle-grade

Browsing my Google Reader subscriptions the other day, I realized that the majority of the author blogs I follow are by young adult authors. And, although I love those blogs, as I write middle-grade fiction, I figured it was time I broaden my scope. So, I started looking around for blogs by middle-grade authors and found this great group entry, From the Mixed-Up Files.

It’s written by a group of nearly 30 authors of middle-grade books and offers news, information, insight, interviews and fun. Oh, and book give-aways! It’s good for everyone interested in middle-grade books, from writers to readers to parents of readers.

For writers, posts like this Reading Through Middle-Grade one is awesome. In it, author Joanne Prushing Johnson relates her conversations about books with her own middle-grade children. It’s interesting to see their answers.

The blog also has a starting page for writers, as well as many areas for parents.

In my search, I also found the website of middle-grade-book author Bruce Coville. Although his website is more for fans, it’s a great example of what authors can do to connect with children in this age group.

For example, he has a guest page where fans write in and he posts replies. The fans must be so thrilled to get that kind of conversation … if you will … going with one of their favorite authors.

Coville also has a fan art page, which I thought was wonderful. Again, young fans must be tickled pink to see their work on their favorite author’s website. Check out the awesome pictures.

What are your favorite blogs or websites by middle-grade authors?

Write On!