Monday, January 21, 2013

Meanwhile...Middle Grade: Kick Starting Your Middle Grade Writing Year

Happy New Year from the Luckies Middle Grade group! The long holiday period over, with days off work—and, in many cases, writing—we thought we’d talk about how it is to climb back into Author Mode. Has the tendency to over-indulge made mush of our brains, making the first words of a new year hard to squeeze out? Or are we raring to shake off winter inertia and dive back in? Or…have some of us not stopped at all?

As it turns out, we MG Luckies have quite a variety of ways to approach our New Writing Year – with a few tricks up our post-holiday sleeves. So here’s the Kick-Start smorgasbord from 12 of us whose books debut this year.

Happy Middle Grade reading in 2013, everyone!

I try to stay away from my desk during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Once January hits, and the cold settles in, I’m energized and ready to write again! My tip: Make a plan for the next day’s work. Always know what you’ll be doing next.
ClaireM. Caterer, THE KEY & THE FLAME (April 2, Margaret K. McElderry)
Other links for Claire: Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon

I think of writing and other creative endeavors the same way I think of exercising and showering--you can mix it up a little, but basically it's best if you do them daily. If you always keep the writing train moving, even at a slow speed, you'll never lose momentum entirely.
Elisabeth Dahl, GENIE WISHES (April 2, Amulet Books)
Other links for Elisabeth: Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon

Nothing gets my creative juices flowing more than reading. The more I read, the more inspired I become to plant my butt firmly in the chair and write. Middle grade books, young adult books, classic books, books on craft--reading any of these pushes that deeply-imbedded need to write straight to the surface.
Laura Golden, EVERY DAY AFTER (June 11, Delacorte Press)
Other links for Laura: Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon

Kick start your MG writing year by "being" eleven years old. You remember how to do it...hang out with your best friend, laugh at everything, paint your nails badly, eat French fries, watch dumb TV, and talk about cute guys in school that you would never, EVER kiss.  
Other links for Jennifer: Twitter and Facebook

In Colorado, January mornings are dark and chilly. So I've made a plan for writing in the wee hours before work. It involves fuzzy socks, a plush housecoat and a nest of blankets within reach of the coffee pot. 
Melanie Crowder, PARCHED (June 4, Harcourt Children's Books)
Other links for Melanie: Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon

When you’ve had to stop writing for a bit, starting again can feel like you’re trying to roll a gigantic boulder uphill! I think it helps to remember that the boulder is actually only two measly inches from the crest, and although that initial pushing is so hard and seems so impossible, you’re really only a short distance from the thrill of riding that boulder downhill.
Peggy Eddleman, SKY JUMPERS book 1: THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH (Sept. 24, Random House Children's)
Other links for Peggy: Twitter, Facebook and Amazon.

I believe in writing breaks, changes of pace, and reflection; the holidays are a good time for all three. What I’m currently writing is interesting to me, so I enjoyed jumping right back in after returning from a short trip. I’m also organizing my office and updating my calendar (which will include more time off!) 
Tamera Will Wissinger, GONE FISHING: A Novel In Verse (March 5, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children) 
Other links for Tamera: Twitter, Facebook and Amazon

I'm starting my writing year with the goal of exploring and playing as much as possible--both in my writing and in the rest of my life. A writing routine is a valuable thing, but this year I want to step a little outside my usual routine by learning some new skills and traveling to new places. With any luck, those new experiences will eventually transform into fuel for future storytelling.
Caroline Carlson MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT (Sept. 9, HarperCollins Children’s Books)

When I’m avoiding my office and find myself doing fascinating things like folding laundry instead of writing, I set myself reachable word count goals. I might tell myself I HAVE to write four hundred words the first day, and six hundred the second, and try to ease back into my routine.
Polly Holyoke THE NEPTUNE PROJECT (May 21, Disney/Hyperion Books and Puffin Books UK)
Other links for Holly: Twitter, Facebook and Amazon

Anne Lamott tells a great story in "Bird by Bird"—one of my favorite books on writing. Lamott's brother was overwhelmed by a school report on birds. His father's advice on how to tackle it: "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird." So, after the winter break, when getting back to writing can seem overwhelming, I take it bird by bird! 
Nancy J. Cavanaugh THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET (April 1, Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky)
Other links for Nancy: Facebook and Amazon

Yes: I’m totally struggling to get back into writing. I blame it partially on the flu and partially on getting distracted with debut-book marketing. My new mantra: remember you're a WRITER first... not a blogger, not a marketer, not a reader... so WRITE first, then do all those other things!
Tara Sullivan, GOLDEN BOY (June 27, Putnam’s/Penguin)
Other links for Tara: Twitter and Amazon

As for me, after any holiday, I read over pre-breakpoint chapters to re-immerse myself in the story. Best kick-starter? To have left a really enticing thread hanging. Like a question begging to be answered, it pulls at me to dive back in. And in chilly January, spicing my workspace with hot tea and a warm blanket definitely helps too!
Kit Grindstaff, THE FLAME IN THE MIST (April 9, Delacorte Press)

Kit Grindstaff grew up in the rolling countryside of England. After a brief brush with pop stardom (under her maiden name, Hain), she moved to New York and embarked on her career as a song writer. Kit now lives with her husband in the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania. THE FLAME IN THE MIST is her first novel. You can find her on the web at her Website, Twitter and Facebook, add the book to your Goodreads list, or pre-order at Amazon.


  1. Loved hearing how all of you get back into writing. And learning about all your awesome MG books. Can't wait to read them.

  2. What a fun post! Loved all the advice and all the info about new MG books. :)

    1. I learned a lot from my fellow MG Luckies too, Jess! Some good snippets :)

  3. This was a neat idea! It's fun to hear all the advice. I'm a fan of reading and/or music to get a kick of inspiration.

  4. Thanks for putting this together, Kit! Great post.

    1. You're welcome, Jennifer. Doing it got me over a major hurdle! (With Peggy's help...)