New Voices: Gail Shepherd & Karen Strong on Writing Southern Settings

By Stephani Martinell Eaton

Gail Shepherd and Karen Strong, debut middle grade authors, both found inspiration for their books in southern settings. Today they share insights about their journeys to publication.

Gail Shepherd

I grew up with the Vietnam war in the background—it was always on TV. That war influenced my sensibility and my world view.

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New Voices: Joshua S. Levy & Karla Manternach on Reactions to Their Manuscripts Selling

By Stephani Martinell Eaton

Today I am excited to introduce you to Joshua S. Levy and Karla Manternach, two middle grade authors whose debut novels surprised some of their friends. Joshua is the author of Seventh Grade Vs. The Galaxy (Carolrhoda, 2019) and Karla is the author of Meena Meets her Match illustrated by Rayner Alencar (Simon &

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Author Snapshot: Marie Cruz

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Marie Cruz is the debut author of Everlasting Nora (Tor/Forge, 2018).

From whom have you received creative feedback–critique groups/partners, writing teachers, expert/sensitivity readers, family and friends, editor and/or agent?

Over the last 15 years, I’ve received feedback from pretty much all of the above! But I must say that critique partners are the best.

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Guest Post: Barbara Dee on Keeping it Middle Grade: Handling Tough Topics in Fiction

Learn more about Barbara Dee.

By Barbara Dee
for Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s Cynsations

About a year ago, on a NerdCamp panel called “Tough Topics in Middle Grade Fiction,” we were talking about how middle grade was evolving, growing up, tackling subjects that used to be considered taboo—for example, sexuality, terrorism, refugeeism, and drug use.

I asked the educators in the room which underrepresented topics they’d like to see on their bookshelves.

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Guest Post: Carol Coven Grannick on Transitions: Lunging Forward, Leaning Back

By Carol Coven Grannick

I am leaving my day job at an extraordinary early childhood center on June 30.

Plenty of people think I am “retiring.”

But if you’re reading this, you probably could guess that I’m not retiring at all. I’m beginning my full-time career as a writer.

At last.

I’ve written and taught about transitions much of my life as a clinical social worker and still struggle with how to convey these vulnerable,

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New Voices: Inside Scoop on Debut Author Groups with J.H. Diehl, Lauren Abbey Greenberg, Jonathan Roth & Deborah Schaumberg

By Robin Galbraith

After years of writing you finally have your very first book deal! Now what? How do you promote your debut novel? I talked to four Maryland debut authors from the Electric Eighteens to get the inside scoop on how debut groups for young adult and middle grade authors work.

Deborah Schaumberg, J.H. Diehl, Lauren Abbey Greenberg, Continue Reading New Voices: Inside Scoop on Debut Author Groups with J.H. Diehl, Lauren Abbey Greenberg, Jonathan Roth & Deborah Schaumberg »

Guest Post: N.H. Senzai on Writing About War for Middle Grade & Escape From Aleppo

By N.H. Senzai

The reason I love writing for the middle grade audience is because at this age kids can still suspend belief and journey with you through a story as long as you create believable plots, authentic characters and dialogue that rings true.

However, you need to hook them in quickly, so my first goal is to create a story that “reels them in.”

Once they’ve signed on to follow your protagonist,

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Guest Post: Author Deborah Lytton & Agent Stacey Glick on Middle Grade Series Proposals

By Deborah Lytton

Thanks to Gayleen and Cyn for having us on Cynsations. It’s always such a pleasure to be here!

Today, I have asked my agent and friend, Stacey Glick to join me to discuss the Middle Grade series proposal.

Stacey is Vice President at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret Literary Management and has been my agent for over 12 years. Continue Reading Guest Post: Author Deborah Lytton & Agent Stacey Glick on Middle Grade Series Proposals »

Authors, Editor & Illustrator Interview: Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (Fighting for Justice)

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi are the co-authors of Fred Korematsu Speaks Up, illustrated by Yukata Houlette (Heyday, 2017). From the promotional copy:

Fred Korematsu liked listening to music on the radio, playing tennis, and hanging around with his friends—just like lots of other Americans. 


But everything changed when the United States went to war with Japan in 1941 and the government forced all people of Japanese ancestry to leave their homes on the West Coast and move to distant prison camps. 

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