Mad For Middle Grade: Giving Thanks!

Inspired by the Lucky 13′s “Meanwhile… Middle Grade” series, we the MG authors of 2014, have banded together to create an unstoppable league of superheroes… or… erm… we decided to create a similar series. Welcome to MAD FOR MIDDLE GRADE! We’ll be here the first Monday of every month! Stay tuned as we discuss the process of middle grade writing, chat about our favorite middle grade books, introduce our own middle grade titles, interview middle grade professionals, and generally obsess over everything middle grade! And if there’s any middle grade topic you’re interested in, we’d love to hear it in the comments!

Ahhh… autumn is in the air, pumpkin-spiced everything is on the tongue, and crispy golden leaves are on the ground. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means–It’s almost turkey time (hooray!). But more important than the food is the idea of giving thanks. And this year, we all have a lot to be thankful for.

Question: What are you thankful for this year?

Rachel Searles
Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan

Rachel SearlesI’m always grateful for my fantastic family and friends, but they’re so supportive that if I told them I wanted to wanted to be a circus performer, they’d sign me up for trapeze classes and buy out seating in the Big Top. There are two people that THE LOST PLANET certainly wouldn’t have happened without. One is my incredible critique partner, Liz–I honestly don’t know where I’d be without her help and friendship. The other person is my amazing agent, who consistently impresses me with how thorough and forward-thinking she is, and whose one little “yes” over a year ago set off such wonderful changes in my life.


Rebecca Behrens

Rebecca BehrensIt takes a person to write a book but a village to publish it, right? This year I’m thankful for all the village people (ha!) who are helping me take When Audrey Met Alice from a story that existed in my head and hard drive to a published book. I’m grateful for my family and friends for their enthusiasm and encouragement; for my agent and agency for their savvy and support; for my editor and the wonderful team at my publisher for taking a chance on me and my characters; for my writer friends for keeping me sane (or what my version of sane is, anyway); and for readers and book-lovers, most of all. Oh, and I’m also extending thanks to the pizza delivery guy because otherwise I would’ve starved to death this year.


Gayle Rosengren

When you love books as much as I did growing up, the desire to write for kids often follows quite naturally. It certainly did for me. Being a children’s author is all I ever wanted to be, Gayle Rosengren 100x100and now it’s really happening! Gratitude and euphoria are inseparable in my heart. The fact that my book was inspired by the two women I loved most–my mother and my grandmother–makes my happiness even sweeter. I’m thrilled that soon kids will be reading my book! For that I’m indebted to my awesome critique group, and to my husband, family and friends for their encouragement and support. And I’m fall-down-on-my knees grateful to my brilliant editor, Susan Kochan, for bringing Esther’s story to life.


Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Author photo 357KBDial/Penguin

I was walking around today, my brow furrowed, scowling at everyone I saw, eaten away by problems on the book I’m currently writing. Why isn’t the plot working? Is this character believable? What will my editor think? Haven’t a thousand other writers already said this better? And then I realized . . . what a wonderful, fun, and unbelievably fortunate set of problems to have! Working on a novel? That’s a gift, not a curse. So today I am grateful for my current batch of problems, which I’d rather have than an easy day at something I don’t love.


Skila Brown
Candlewick Press

Skila Brown I am crazy thankful for my three kids. They ask me questions about what I’m writing, read my stories, and share ideas they have for future books. They also keep life in perspective for me—pull me away from my desk to get outside and do something else—exactly what a writer needs to do.


Robin Herrera
Amulet Books

I want to take this opportunity to thank some of my early teachers. Some of them 2013-10-18 02_50_38encouraged my writing, even before I knew I wanted to be a writer! So thank you:

MS. LAWSON (5th/6th grade) – I probably would have ended up in juvie without her guidance.
MR. BLAKE (high school Theater) – Thanks for giving me a safe place to go after school!
MS. TURNER (high school English) – The first teacher to tell me I should consider writing as a career.
MR. MIDDLEMISS (high school Journalism) – For letting me write a bunch of crappy newspaper articles! Wait… maybe I shouldn’t be thanking him…


Jennifer Downey
SourcebooksJen Downey

I am grateful to have realized with crystal clear clarity (thanks to the tutelage of unsung heroes, Winter Daphne and otters), that once my book is out in the world, no matter how many people abhor it or dislike it or remain indifferent to it, or develop a faint fondness for it or even (dare I hope) delight in it, I will essentially remain the same shmuck I am at this very moment, and the world will continue to pour out its sorrows and its treasures of scent, sound, and sense, friendship and courage, intellectual lightning and loving connective thunder.


Ryan Gebhart
Candlewick Press

To Grandma and Papa.
I’m thankful for them lending a hand in raising me and my siblings growing up. I’m thankful for all the trips they took us on, and for their unquestioning support in me and all my random dreams. Although my grandparents never hunted a day in their lives like the grandparents in There Will Be Bears, I still love them just as much as my main character Tyson loves his grandparents.


Tracy Holczer

Things I’m grateful for:

My fabulous agent, Rosemary Stimola, for having the patience of seven people and NIK_5082CROPknowing just what to say to calm writerly nerves.

Kouign-amann. If you know what that is, you know why. If not:

The time to write stories, which hasn’t always been the case.

My awe-inspiring children. Each of them have special gifts and will change the world in their own big and small ways. I’m so grateful to be able to watch it all happen.


Tara Dairman

taradairmanAs my debut creeps ever closer, I’m so grateful to be sharing the ups and downs with a whole community of fabulous kidlit writers. But I would never have gotten to know these writers if someone hadn’t made the effort to organize groups like OneFour KidLit, Mad for Middle Grade, and Emu’s Debuts (the other group blog to which I belong). So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the organizationally-minded folks who make it possible for the rest of us to connect—and give a special shout-out to our Mad for Middle Grade den mama, Lauren Magaziner! 🙂


Dana Alison Levy
Delacorte/Random House

Levy_Dana_author_catI’m grateful for many elements of my life, from really good cheese to the hugs my giant children still occasionally bestow upon me. But I am particularly grateful for my writing partners. It takes a special kind of friend to:

Gently point out a massive plot hole
Highlight a ludicrously over-used word
Cheerlead and tell me I’m awesome
Reread the Same. Darn. Paragraph. Fifty times or more.

Without these patient and talented people I’m not sure the journey to publication would have happened at all. And it certainly wouldn’t have been as fun.


Lauren Magaziner

IMG_1907WARNING: I’m about to get as mushy as a mashed potato.

I am so incredibly grateful for this whole process; this is a lifelong dream come true. I have many people to thank for that, but that would seriously take a whole ‘nother novel. So a quick THANK YOU to the team: editor Nancy, assistant editor Stacey, and agent Brianne. Thank you for your insanely genius editorial letters. Thank you for laughing at my weird jokes. Thank you for believing in Rupert and Witchling Two… and me. My world is so much more amazing with you three in it!  Every day is like a cauldron full of sunshine!


Heidi Schulz

Profile 13I have so much to be grateful for this year, particularly when it comes to my writing. I’ll let my book’s acknowledgment pages give specific thank yous to those that have helped me the most, but today, I’d like to say: I am grateful to my mom, who taught me to read so many years ago, to the authors who made me fall in love with words, and to those whose work continues to inspire me. Thank you!


Edith Cohn

author photo with Leia smallI’m grateful for my craft, the joy of writing, the magic moments when a story appears to me. I’m grateful for my readers—those thoughtful people who take the time to tell me how I can improve my story. I’m grateful to the writers who don’t critique my work, but who sit next to me while I type or lend an ear when I need it. I’m grateful to the friends who don’t live nearby but still call or email to cheer me on. I’m grateful to my agent, my publisher and my editor for making this journey so much fun.


What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving season?

Have a happy turkey day! We’ll see you again on December 2nd for a really special segment of Mad For Middle Grade. Stay tuned–you definitely don’t want to miss it!

Lauren Magaziner is a 4th grader at heart, watches way too much TV, and loves to steal people’s toes to make Toecorn, which tastes like chewy, meaty popcorn. Only one of those is true. (Okay… you caught me. They’re all true.) Her MG debut THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES—about a boy who becomes a witchling’s apprentice in a town full of dangerous, Toecorn-loving witches—is forthcoming from Dial/Penguin in Summer 2014.

One thought on “Mad For Middle Grade: Giving Thanks!

  1. Pingback: Review: School of Charm | The Hiding Spot

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