I'm thrilled to announce that Erin Fry has sold her debut Middle Grade novel FAT BOY to Marilyn Brigham at Marshall Cavendish!
FAT BOY, in which a 13-year old obese teenager, tired of his life of XXL t-shirts and unrequited crushes, and reeling from his father's recent stroke, joins the cross country team to find out if there's more to life than French fries.
And boy is there! FAT BOY is not only beautifully written with a fantastic plot, but it draws you into the main character's world from word one.
Here's another great publishing story---Erin sent FAT BOY to one and only one editor, Marilyn Brighham of Marshall Cavendish. She sent it a little before I signed her in late April and within a week of signing, Marilyn emailed that she loves the book and is sharing it with her team. Now we could have subbed out widely with FAT BOY and stirred the editor pot into a fury but Erin and I felt that finding the editor that LOVES your book is so very important, and Marshall Cavendish does an amazing job with all of their books, so....we sat tight and wa-la....the offer came soon after and in Fall 2012 FAT BOY will hit the shelves.
Erin Fry taught middle school history and English for nine wonderfully amusing but utterly exhausting years before turning to a career as an educational writer. For six years, she wrote history curriculum and textbooks for Teachers’ Curriculum Institute (TCI). She’s been published by Scholastic, Great Source, and Zaner-Bloser, and currently reviews middle grade fiction for Publishers Weekly and occasionally, the L.A. Times. In addition to being a writer and mom to three middle graders, she’s a cross country coach, competes in triathlons, heads up a local youth running group and teaches kickboxing.
4 beautiful covers for Janet Gurtler's THE WEIGHT OF BONES
Cast your vote and you can win any title from the Teen Fire list!
Plus, write a 500+ word fan fiction inspired by THE WEIGHT OF BONES covers and maybe you will be discovered through their next great fan fiction contest. The two entries with the most comments will also get a free Teen Fire book, and great exposure for their own writing:)
I am thrilled to announce the sale of Anastasia Suen's newest chapter book series to Kira Lynn at Kane/Miller in a a 4-book deal!
Anastasia Suen is one of those writers that not only writes books for Ronnie and me to sub (and yes, Ronnie just sold Anastasia's newest picture book to Viking!), but editors ask me if Anastasia can write them a book. With 129 published books under her belt and a teacher and mentor to many published authors, Anastasia constantly creates innovative, exciting new projects that editors and readers want to buy.
This newest chapter book series is hush-hush since Anastasia and Kira came up with a new concept that is not yet on the market and we know will be a huge hit with middle grade girls.
So how does a deal like this come about? Over lunch in sunny San Diego, Kira mentioned a concept for a chapter book that she'd love to publish and I immediately thought of Anastasia. After researching the topic we realized that a new series was in the works from another publisher so it was back to the drawing board for Kira and Anastasia. They met at IRA and brainstormed ideas until Kira's aha moment and Anastasia's extensive research proved they had stuck gold with a ultra-popular activity for middle grade girls and yet not a single chapter book with this subject on the market. I think this is what Donny Deutsch would call The Big Idea:)
A Series Proposal and three written chapters later, a new, fabulous chapter book series is born!
So has getting the sale always been a slam-dunk for Anastasia? Take heart, breaking in is tough for everyone. From her bio on the Herman Agency Website:
Children's books have always been a part of my life. My mother started reading to me when I was a baby and we went to the library every week. I wrote my first picture book when I was eleven and I've been writing books for children ever since. I wrote hundreds of manuscripts and collected rejection letters for years...and then it happened. On my fortieth birthday, the phone rang. After writing for twenty-nine years, I sold my first book! Today I've sold 115 books: board books, picture books, easy readers, and chapter books (including a book for adults about how to write children's books). I've also written articles, poems, and stories for textbooks, magazines, and the web.
In 1995 I began working as a children's literature consultant for Sadlier-Oxford. Later I joined the Rosen Publishing Group Reading Advisory Board and became a "Classroom Connections" reviewer for Book Links. Today I also work as a consultant for the Brown Books Publishing Group, Lee & Low Books and National Geographic School Publishing. I blogged for Scholastic Teacher on Nonfiction Monday (a day I created). I also write about children's books each week on six other blogs.
Ralph Fletcher, one of the preeminent writers of books on writing for writers and educators, has a fantastic new book for the trade market--TEN THINGS EVERY GUY WRITER NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT WRITING, the first in a series of humorous how to write books for middle-graders, to be published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Macmillan.
The author of numerous picture books, poetry books, memoir, middle grade, young adult, professional educator books and books on writing, Ralph is a force to be reckoned with! Not only are editors vying for his work but when I told my child's 4th grade teacher about this book the first thing she said was--"when can I get it?" and she went on to tell me that she has every book Ralph has written and uses many of his ideas in her classroom. I have to tell you, all 3 of my children have had this teacher and she is by far the best writing teacher I have yet encountered.
I am thrilled to announce that Janet Gurtler's THE WEIGHT OF BONES will be a lead title for SOURCEBOOKS FIRE in Spring 2011!
Janet Gurtler's THE WEIGHT OF BONES, a twist on MY SISTER'S KEEPER for teens, in which a brainy high school freshman embraces yet resents the shadow of her beautiful, popular,volleyball-scholarship-bound sister. But when the senior is diagnosed with bone cancer, it drastically changes both sisters' lives.
Janet Gurtler is an amazing writer and THE WEIGHT OF BONES is one of those books that grabs you from the first page and doesn't let go. This is not a book of sappy emotion but a story of surprising plot twists and realistic characters that you will long remember after reading the last page.
"MacLeod ... displays a knack for getting readers genuinely
invested in her characters' lives and difficult decisions, many of which teens
will recognize from their own experiences."
"While there is plenty of hot action on the ice, WAITING TO SCORE is far less a sports action book than I had assumed it would be. This is foremost a realistic story of teens learning to fit in and survive, and author JE MacLeod does a stellar job of probing every one of Zack's interpersonal relationships..." —Richie's Picks
Look for THE WEIGHT OF BONES to hit bookshelves in April 2011!
Last night I reread Sharon Creech's LOVE THAT DOG and HATE THAT CAT to ground me in great MG writing.
Middle Grade is a toughie.
Many of us remember what it is like to be a teen. Heck, sometimes I think I still am one (wishful thinking, I know). But middle grade is a time when we are just forming our personalities. We are still part of the clump of elementary school but recognizing that we are individuals. Although we are herded from one subject/activity/etc to the next with the group, we are becoming aware of our tastes, abilities, opinions; often too young to rage against the machine.
We hit middle school and for some the raging may begin, but the need to be part of the group often has equal importance. So we rage against our parents and seek popularity amongst our peers. We don't all gravitate to the same groups but our need for friends and our conflicted feelings towards growing up and still needing the security of family begins our tailspin into teenage angst.
I read so darn much it is hard to remember what books I've read if someone asks---hey, what are the best middle grade books---but I will try to list some of my favorites and please list yours in the comments so I can discover new treasures. Regarding classics, yes they are fantastic and I don't know a child who goes through elementary school without reading THE GIVER or HATCHET, but what are some of the newer middle grades that are must reads?
Here are some of mine (some new, some older):
Rita Williams-Garcia's ONE CRAZY SUMMER
Ralph Fletcher's FIG PUDDING and FLYING SOLO
Sharon Creech's LOVE THAT DOG and HAT THAT CAT
Lauren Tarshis' EMMA-JEAN LAZARUS FELL OUT OF A TREE
Rebecca Stead's WHEN YOU REACH ME
Andrew Clement's FRINDLE
Lisa Yee's MILLICENT MIN, GIRL GENIUS and BOBBY VS. GIRLS (ACCIDENTALLY)
JILL CORCORAN is a children’s book agent with Herman Agency. Her current interests include: high concept Young Adult and Middle Grade Thrillers, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Comedies, and Adventure manuscripts.