Blogging about blogging on a blog that’s not this blog

Just FYI, babies, the contest is now closed. Cheetos and limeade for all who entered!

You do know about From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors, right? The snazzy and ultra-informative new blog community for authors of middle-grade fiction, of which I happen to be a member? See, this is the second time I’ve managed to finagle my way into the company of a slew of writers and illustrators who are just miles ahead of me when it comes to professional accomplishment – I managed to snooker the good folks at The Enchanted Inkpot into letting me be a founding member there too, although eventually I was overcome by guilt at the fact that I’m neither published nor an author of traditional fantasy, and took a hiatus from being an Inkie.

But enough with the remorse! For better or for worse I am a Mixed-Up File Clerk, or whatever snappy nickname we finally come up with for ourselves, and next week I’m scheduled to make my first post. Exciting stuff, right? Because I’m gonna blog about…um…I’m gonna…it’ll be…

Okay, I got nothing. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true either – I do have a concept. “Getting in Touch with Your Inner 12-year-old,” or something like that. Finding the middle-grade voice, the late-single-digits early-double-digit years mentality, bringing yourself into that state of being so that you can craft a story that rings like a proverbial bell for those kids transitioning from elfin childhood to hulking young adulthood. The best I’ve come up with yet is to just “remember stuff” – brilliant, neh? Oh, I can rattle on and on about how I access memories for my own writing (and trust me, I’m gonna do exactly that), but I’m thinking I want to try and drag some examples in from outside my own experience. So I’ve done some googling and what-all, and come up with exactly squat. Yes, yes, the lackadaisical nature of my research probably has something to do with my poor results, but I’ve chosen to ignore that part.

You are going to help me! YOU ARE. Stop fussing, it’s undignified. Know why you’re gonna help me? Because if you do, I’ll enter you in this contest to win a stack of I’ve-already-read-’em books that towers so high above the landscape, carnivorous pegasi fly off to its apex with their shrieking victims, only then getting comfortable and dining on fresh eyeballs and still-quivering entrails.

Here’s the deal on the whole number-of-entries procedure, cats and kittens:

1 entry – Leave a comment on this post. Don’t care what it’s about – your cat, the lifespan of the moray eel, the World Cup, whatever. I’m not a soccer fan, so if you comment on the World Cup I’m, uh, not gonna care, but whatever, dude.

1 additional entry – link to this contest on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. and so on and so forth. Each link (please leave the link in your comment) counts for 1 entry.

1 additional entry – follow the ole bloggy wog. Why not, eh?

2 additional entries – if you’re a writer of middle-grade fiction, comment on what you do to tap that 10 or 12 year old mentality. Do you hang out with middle-grade kids? Do you flip through old diaries and other nostalgic (or maybe not nostalgic) documents? Watch a lot of Hannah Montana?

And here’s the kicker…

10 additional entries – find me an interview, article or some other reputable source of semi-legitimately published ย information that details what any one published middle-grade author does to create the voice, vision and world of their novel. Put the link in your comment. And yes, if you’re a published middle-grade author yourself, it can be about you. Yes, I am really pressed for time these days, and it may be sacrilegious to my colleagues over at The Mixed-Up Files, but so be it. THIS IS MY BLOG RIGHT HERE AND I’LL DO AS I PLEASE…
Edited to add: It just occurred to me that this may be problematic if you all go a-hunting for stuff and it turns out there’s only 3 things out there in the entire interwebz that fits the bill. So tell you what, I’ll amend this one. All you have to do is link to an interview with a middle-grade author. That’s all. Doesn’t matter what they talk about in the interview – alien abduction? Their nana’s gazpacho recipe? The heartwarming offensive resurgence of Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre, who never should have left the Dodgers? It’s all fair game.

The prize –ย Now, the irony here is that my stack of used books (they’re not violently used or anything, calm down) is actually higher on YA than it is on MG. *shrugs* You’re gonna complain?? Seriously? I should smack you upside the head! Oh, I wouldn’t smack you upside the head. Hard. If you win, you can take your choice of the following books:

  • A CURSE DARK AS GOLD by Elizabeth Bunce;
  • FLASH BURNOUT by L.K. Madigan;
  • ANY WHICH WALL by Laurel Snyder;
  • THE DOOM MACHINE by Mark Teague;
  • SKIN HUNGER by Kathleen Duey;
  • ANDROMEDA KLEIN by Frank Portman
  • SLIDING ON THE EDGE by C. Lee McKenzie
  • GOOD ENOUGH by Paula Yoo

That’s not a bad heap of books right there, eh? Yes, the winner can have their choice – if you want all of ’em, they’re yours. If you only want some or even just one of ’em, hey, whatever spins your dreidel.

Come on, peeps. Help me out here. I’ve got top-secret high-priority ultra-classified super-cool stuff going on, stuff that hopefully I’ll be able to spill to the world at large relatively soon, but for now it’s chewing up my time and mental energy in a very private way, so just trust me when I tell you that it would be really great if you would just do me a solid and enter the stupid contest, OKAY??

The deadline for entering is Sunday, June 27, midnight Pacific time. Get on it, babies.

Stricken with fever-dreams of glory and exultation,


34 thoughts on “Blogging about blogging on a blog that’s not this blog

    1. No interviews? I’m sorry Jeremy, but I have to send my army of zombie squirrels over to annihilate you. Nothing personal, ok? OH I’M JUST KIDDING

      Thanks for entering!

  1. Let’s see.

    There, I commented.

    +1for that
    +1 for retweeting (DelilahSDawson)
    +1 for Rss following
    +2 for being an MG writer who deeply remembers the pudgy, badly dressed, nervous, socially idiotic, Mary-Lou-Rhetton-haired, awkward imbecile I was in middle school and spends a few minutes sitting in Mrs. Matthew’s algebra class before starting to type and thinking about the exactly wrong thing to say.
    +10 for finding this blog entry by literary agent Sara Crowe, who dissects four classic MG characters:


  2. Hi Mike! I’m really enjoying The Mixed Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors blog – looking forward to your participation. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I retweeted for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am now following you – in multiple places. Ack. I’m a stalker. ๐Ÿ˜›

    I have read some MG novels…one of my favorite MG authors is Jerry Spinelli, so I googled and binged a bit and found this interview, which you may find helpful:

    And while I write PBs and YAs, I can tell you that I tap into my teenage life repeatedly for voice and general emotions when I am working on the YA. I watch Degrassi, eavesdrop on/observe teen behavior in public places and read 1-2 YA novels per week to transform my memories into something that would feel more current. And yes, I talk to them too, and have them read what I’ve written to see if it feels believable and true.

    So I could really use those books…just sayin’… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good luck! Hugs, Jodi ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. “Stalker” is such a loaded term, isn’t it? I prefer “dangerously fanatical loose cannon” myself – it’s much gentler. An excellent, thorough set of entries, minion. WELL DONE

  3. Mike,

    I’ve been ruminating on this topic a bit myself lately. Have you ever heard this Peter Graham quote?

    “The Golden Age of science fiction is twelve”

    I think it applies to Fantasy and Fiction in general. For me it means the stuff you read, watched or played at twelve sets your personal benchmarks. For life.

    Twelve for me was Star Wars (1977), Spider-Man comics and AD&D, 1st ed.

    Those are my touchstones. I go back to the feelings I had for them when looking for the awe, excitement or immersion that I need to find in a character.

    The MG book I’m writing has a MC that is a music nerd. That wasn’t me, but I know the passion he has for his favorite thing.

    I also talk to kids at that age. Luckily I have a bunch of nieces and nephews that fit the bill, my wife is an elementary music teacher (gr. 3 – 6) and I help out with a high school drama club now and then.

    I’m enjoying the Mixed-Up Files blog. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

    I’m about to tweet this, but I’m too lazy to do the math on my entries. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Jim, here at #mikesempire we respect anyone who openly states their defiance to doing math related to contest entries. And hey, you and I have a lot of the same 12-year-old benchmarks!

    1. That helps a lot, Anna! And I don’t resent you at all for blogging about this topic before me. Nope. YOU’RE NOT MAKING ME LOOK BAD AT ALL… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I twittered, I face booked.

    Now, I shall talk about my cat. Wait. I don’t have a cat. Okay, World Cup-um, yeah, same here.

    Now, my inner 10 year old. One of the things I’ve been doing lately is thinking back on the books I liked when I was that age, why I liked the book, what it felt like, what it inspired in me, if that makes sense. Of course, this means any middle grade that grew out of this would be historical, har har. For kids today, I see them at the library, at school, talk with them about books, gives me a sense of the today kid. I also watch you tube-lots of kids out there with mini movies, talks etc etc up. Of course…I sometimes feel weird doing that-like the adult with no kids hanging out in the picture book area, reading all the pbs. Anyhow, I think I’m blathering…what was the question? Do I win something now?

    1. Your bold request for an unmerited contest victory has won respect, if not an actual prize! YOUTUBE! Why haven’t I thought of that? Although I see what you mean about the weird factor – while I enjoy my high level of FARCICAL creepiness, real creepiness is another matter…

    1. Aw, see, I knew I could count on you for the good info, Molly. #mikesempire salutes you! I shall release the zombie squirrels for a celebratory feed.

  5. Subscribed! I was going to mention Anna’s post but she did above and beat me to it. I googled a bit today and only found what others have found. I have to say, I love that list of give-aways. The ones I know are winners, makes me want to know the others.

  6. I’m commenting. +1
    I retweeted +1
    I follow +1
    Uh, for my voice, I just never grew up. And I’m pretty sure you didn’t either, so you’re good. ๐Ÿ˜›

    I’ll come back if I find anything else for ya. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. WELL DONE. And um, yeah, about me never having grown up…that HAS been suggested to me before… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Hi, Mike! What a great gig–congrats! (+1)

    I write mainly YA, but I do go back to old diaries and writings and such and would do so if I were writing an MG piece, too. In fact, I looked at my old Mickey Mouse diary recently, which I kept sporadically from about age 8 – 11, and I wrote some truly horrible things about my bratty little cousins, who are now in their 20s and substantially cooler. Evidently I was quite unforgiving. Hanging out with kids of that age also helps, or failing that, eavesdropping on them at malls, movies, amusement parks, whatever. I am a big fan of eavesdropping. (+2)

    And, um, Tanita and I interviewed Derek Landy of Skulduggery Pleasant fame last fall:

    I actually need another stack of books like I need another hole in my head, but I like being helpful. ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus I’ve got my eye on Any Which Wall.

    1. I’m trying to refine my eavesdropping skills. Seems like a delicate balance, right? Eavesdropping without appearing, you know, creepy and disturbing. The Derek Landy interview is great, thanks!

  8. Hmmm, I was going to point you to Annastan’s recent blog post, but she beat me to it, plus she’s the one who actually wrote it. ;->

    How about contacting Gary D. Schmidt? I know he’s a big time author, but he’s also a writing professor and mentions the importance of voice on his faculty bio. Maybe he’d be willing to share some course notes? Okay a long-shot and intimidating, but I recall a coyote video you left on Nan Marino’s blog, so figure maybe being inhibited around writers isn’t a problem for you. ;->

    1. Asking Gary Schmidt for course notes is a bold, bold idea. Big thinking! I gotta say, the thing with the howling at the moon video was that I was alone – well, maybe not entirely, but any questionable characters that were lurking about in the shadows kept their distance. Thankfully.

  9. In my office I have a slinky, a bubble maker, some great rocks (that are good skipping stones), books from my childhood, and a kite. Toys help me channel my inner 12-year-old. By the way, that howling-at-the-moon video still makes me smile.

    1. The toys really do make a difference, Nan. The right object can be very evocative of a particular time and place.

    1. Excellent link Paul, thanks! I used to have a cat who wouldn’t kill mice immediately, he’s scoop them up in his mouth and carry them off to some hiding spot in order to torture them…seemed a bit callous, but hey, cats…

  10. I feel like I’m working on a term paper, Mr. Bloggy Wog Jung!

    I have one cat named Condolezza Rice with a penchant for running meeting, but none for decreasing the mouse population.

    fb is feeding your Blogginess as I write and I’m channeling my MG self just as I always do when I write stories for younger readers . . . chew Juicy Fruit gum very loud, doodle, let my slinky go down the stairs.

    Off to Tweet. Sweet, huh?

    p.s. Have to dig a bit on that interview thingy. I’m not as swift as Paul G. Sheesh. There’s always a DAR in the class.

  11. Sarah and Tanita’s Derek Landry interview is awesome.

    Here are links to a few interviews I did… Thought you’d also like the last link–Miss Erin’s interview with Gary D. Schmidt.

    Robin LaFevers:

    Wendy Mass:

    Lisa Yee:

    Gary D. Schmidt:

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