Monday, August 19, 2013

Meanwhile... Middle Grade! How We Spent Our Summer

Here in the Lucky 13s, we have two middle grade books releasing this month-- both of them tomorrow!

Congratulations and a very happy book birthday goes to Karen Harrington and SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY, and Teddy Steinkellner's TRASH CAN DAYS: A MIDDLE SCHOOL SAGA!

We asked each of the MG Luckies: How did you spend your summer? Did you get any inspiration for your next or current MG novel during the lazy/busy days of summer?

Karen Harrington

For me, this summer has been a wonderful mix of being Mom's Taxi Service and finishing the final edits to my next middle-grade book COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS, out in summer 2014. The day after I sent in the final, FINAL manuscript, I took my girls out for an ICEE and we stayed by the pool for hours. Now, we're trying to slow the summer down by keeping our afternoons wide open and swimming and watching movies and reading. I have an inkling of a new story idea and I'm looking forward to writing (and getting a much needed haircut!) when they return to school.

Ari Goelman

The Path of Names takes place in a summer camp remarkably like the one I attended for around fourteen summers. Much of the novel is based on my real life experiences there, where I was frequently involved in solving murder mysteries and communicating with ghosts. Okay, the last bit isn't strictly speaking true. I solved no mysteries and communicated with no ghosts, despite a borderline obsession with Ouija boards when I was twelve. Still, there's no question that my experiences at summer camp inspired me when I was writing The Path of Names.

Caroline Carlson

I spent most of my summer working on the sequel to MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT. I also got to travel to England, where I visited the amazing collection of handwritten manuscripts in the British Library and hoped that some literary inspiration might transfer itself from Jane Austen's notebook to my own. I'll be spending these last few weeks of summer with my brainstorming notebook, starting to plot my next book.

Kit Grindstaff

My summer has been BUSY! Promo (including a Lucky 13s 7-author bookstore event near Boston!), setting up school visits, etc. But I just returned from a week with friends in New Hampshire; part work – 2 book signings – and part getaway, taking time to laze by a lake and read read read. As I devoured books surrounded by pines and blue sky, my mind relaxed and began wandering off into new watch this space!

Kristen Kittscher

It's been a fun, busy summer celebrating the release of THE WIG IN THE WINDOW with 15 different events on two coasts -- and not surprisingly, a summer short on actual writing! I'm hoping (praying?) that as I get more seasoned as a writer, I'll be able to switch more quickly between my full-time extrovert or full-time introvert modes. In the meantime, though, perhaps all the life experiences and impressions I've gathered during these fun months will fuel my imagination as I return to my writing bunker. The fun feedback from kids certainly inspires me!
Tara Sullivan

My book launched at the end of June, just two days after I stopped teaching for the year, and then I went to ALA in Chicago, did a book tour in the VA/DC area, and took a research trip to Haiti. Oh, and I finished the first draft of my second book by writing over 100 pages in 11 days. You know, little stuff. :)

Tamera Will Wissinger

This has been a working summer and I traveled to Iowa, Illinois, and Georgia for several fun events. I was lucky enough to:
  • Celebrate GONE FISHING’s release near my hometown
  • Present a workshop to Iowa reading teachers
  • Participate on an ALA panel with 15 of my Class of 2k13 mates
  • Read from GONE FISHING at ALA’s Poetry Blast
  • Work with winning student artists and authors at the State Fish Art Expo
In addition to seeing family and friends, a highlight of the summer of 2013 was meeting dozens of kind and enthusiastic teachers, librarians, booksellers, students, and fellow authors (including many of The Lucky 13s!). As far as inspiration, I did get to sit by a persnickety gal on one of my flights. I kept quiet; I took notes.

Elisabeth Dahl

This summer, I took GENIE WISHES to bookstores in and around Chicago, Los Angeles, Berkeley, and Boston, meeting lots of wonderful kids, parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and fellow authors along the way. While I moved around, I was also teaching writing online through Johns Hopkins' Center for Talented Youth. My fifth through seventh grade students were a charming group with a notable gift for writing dialogue. Finally, this summer I also became one with a lime popsicle--or more like twenty or thirty boxes of them. I could say this was book research, but really it was just heat and greed--and oh they're so good I'm off to the freezer...

Barbara Brauner and James Iver Mattson

"We’ve had an OMG summer. We finished the first draft of OMG: Book 3 and sent it to our editor. We worked on the final copy edits for OMG: Book 2. And we made a little promo video for OMG: Book 1. (Premiering soon, if we can ever get it out of the evil clutches of iMovie.) OMG! No wonder we’re tired!"

Liesl Shurtliff

I spent my summer moving (blech) and drafting my next book Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk. (Yay!) Jack has a lot to do with plants and growing, so I was inspired by all the gardens and beautiful growing things this summer!

Nancy Cavanaugh

My summer began with the anticipation of finally having time to do all the things I never have time to do. While I enjoyed having all that time, I accomplished almost nothing on my long "to do" list except for enjoying some very much needed R & R with my family. Now as August heads for September, my lazy days of summer will inspire me as I look forward to all the possibilities that come with the regular routine of fall.

Jennifer Ann Mann

Summer is a great time to try something new, so I put my MG series aside and started a YA. Wow, how different! I loved the new freedom it gave me, along with the chance to hang out with a few shady Satan! Summer is so fun.

Polly Holyoke

I spent my summer driving to bookstores around the country and signing stock. It was wonderful to see how many kids, from Cleveland to Dallas, were in those stores reading books, looking at books and buying books. The publishing industry is in upheaval, but I was inspired and reassured to see those kids. I think children will always want and need good stories.

Peggy Eddleman

As for me, I alternated between slaving over edits for book two and preparing to launch book one, and having tons of fun. One of the highlights was going with my husband and kids to San Diego. We got a chance to go to Sea World, the beach, and Comic Con! We had a blast. I also got to spend some time in the mountains with a bunch of writers, working under starry skies.

How about you? Did you do anything fun or productive this summer? Tell us about it in the comments!


  1. Loved hearing what everyone did this summer. I worked full-time and was a taxi driver for my daughter big time so it took up lots of my time. Looking forward to school starting and having a little more time in the morning to myself.

  2. I learned how to design a book trailer this summer for my September release, BROTHERHOOD. You can watch the trailer on YouTube here: or on the home page of my website,