MG News Alert: New Independent Press Open to Submissions

WInding Path
We love sharing news with our readers and today we are happy to announce an new publishing group that is open to unsolicited middle grade manuscripts.
Winding Path Publications, a new independent children’s book press, is planning to launch next summer. They are currently looking for titles to add to their front list.
The group is based in Pittsburgh and stands by the motto of “with a little imagination and a lot of gumption, everything is possible.”  Even though a specific list of books is not currently listed on their site, the company seems to be looking for stories that children can get lost in.
They welcome picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels. To submit, please use the form on our website.

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MG Cover Reveal: Keeper of Myths by Jasmine Richards

About a year ago we featured a cover reveal for author Jasmine Richards and her book Secrets of Valhalla. Today we are excited to share the cover for her upcoming release, Keeper of Myths. The amazing cover was created by Sam Nielson.

Pre-order this book here!

KeeperMyths HC C Buzz and Mary are not your average kids…

Fact 1: They recently found out that Norse gods are real.

(And they’re about to learn there are even more gods.)

Fact 2: Buzz’s mom just returned after being lost in the Amazon.

(But there’s something important she isn’t telling him.)

Fact 3: They might have some awesome abilities of their own.

(And they’re going to need them very soon….)

Strange people have been arriving in Buzz’s hometown of Crowmarsh. But it turns out these visitors aren’t people at all—they’re mythological gods! They’ve come to kidnap Buzz’s best friend, Sam, whose newfound power makes him the key to granting the wishes of the gods.

Buzz and Mary must team up once again on a dangerous adventure to find a mysterious being known as the keeper of the myths. Only the keeper is strong enough to help them save Sam, unlock their own abilities, and banish the gods back to their realms—before they take over the world.

As you can see, Buzz and Mary have a lot on their plate and the mystery doesn’t stop there.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Mary wasn’t listening. Her hand was on the door handle. “Okay, are ready for this?” she said.

“Ready for what?” Buzz questioned.

“This.” Mary opened the door to her grandmother’s living room. Continue reading

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MG Book Review: The Kinfolk by G.A. Morgan


The Kinfolk (Book 3: Five Stones Trilogy) is the conclusion of a great fantasy series about three siblings who transported to an mysterious and dangerous island. The story shares some similarities to other tales where children are thrust into the middle of a world at war, but this series is distinct enough that it stands on its own.

Morgan has immerses the reader in a rich and vibrant world filled with harrowing battles and fast-paced adventure. Her dynamic cast of main characters are complex and believable. Throughout the series, you can see each grow and develop into the characters they need to be in the end.

Fans of The Chronicles of Narnia and Gregor the Overlander will love the series. To buy the book now, click here.

About the Book

In the final installment of The Five Stones Trilogy, Chase, Evelyn, and Knox must fight to save not just the island of Ayda but their own world. The three young people are scattered throughout the war-torn island as Dankar, the power hungry ruler of Exor, mounts his greatest attack. His forces begin a final, fatal siege on the weakening realms of Melor and Metria. His goal: to extend his power beyond Ayda, beyond the fog, to the rest of the world.

Will Chase be able to convince Ratha, the proud ruler of the realm of Varuna, to come to their aid? Can Evelyn learn to harness her daylights and control the stone of Metria? Will Dankar murder his own cousin in his bid for power? And if the Fifth Stone returns to Ayda, will its power save or destroy it?

G.A. Morgan, who “excels at world-building” (School Library Journal), introduced us to Ayda in The Fog of Forgetting and raised the stakes in Chanterelle. Now she brings the trilogy to a thrilling conclusion with a profound investigation: What does it take to continue believing in one another when almost every hope is gone?


To learn more about the Five Stones series and the author, G.A. Morgan, go to the Islandport Press site, visit her author website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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MG Book Review: The Best Mistake Mystery by Sylvia McNicoll

The Best Mistake Mystery by Sykvia McNicoll

Stephen Nobel has the makings of a good detective, but he doesn’t know it. He’s observant, curious, and like the dogs he walks to make extra money, never gives up when he catches a scent of something, in this case a mystery. When a bomb squad blows up a backpack at school, and then someone smashes a car into the building, he’s not sure he’s got the right stuff to sort it all out. He is after all the boy who counts his mistakes every day. He worries following the trail of clues will be just another mistake. But before long, he, his friend Renee, and the dogs Ping and Pong are hot on the trail of the culprit. He learns that clues are everywhere if you bother to look for them and mistakes aren’t always the problem, sometimes they are the solution.

With a pitch perfect middle grade voice, fast-paced action, likable characters and adorable dogs this story cannot go wrong. It is a must read.

The Best Mistake Mystery will release in January 2017. Pre-order now, click here!

Don’t miss out on great content from the Mafia! Have agency news, author interviews, book reviews, etc. delivered straight to your In-Box by entering your email address in the Subscribe Form at the top/right of the page.

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The Write Tip: Why We Tell, Instead of Show in Our Writing

Janice Hardy RGB 72

The Middle Grade Mafia is pleased to welcome back frequent contributor and friend, Janice Hardy. Her posts always provide amazing writing tips and today she is here with another must read!

Why We Tell, Instead of Show, in Our Writing

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

I think one of the bigger issues with show, don’t tell, is that it’s hard to know why telling happens in the first place. Sometimes it’s a simple skill issue, but more often than not, told prose sneaks into our work without us realizing it. It’s harder to fix when we don’t know it’s there, especially if it’s the more subtle (and sneaky) variety.

Generally, telling happens when we’re trying to convey information to readers and we don’t know how to do it within the context of the scene we’re writing. It’s easier to back up and summarize instead of dramatize. We tell, because we don’t know how to show.

We have all this information and imagery in our heads and it doesn’t make it to the page, even when we think it does. We know a character is feeling a certain way, but we have trouble articulating that emotion. We know events unfold in a scene, but the exact details of those events are murky and we’re not sure how they play out. We know why characters act as they do and assume our readers will understand the same as we do. Which they don’t, so our stories feel detached and flat, lacking the emotion we feel when we read our own words.

Telling also happens when we need writing shorthand, which is actually a good thing. Our muse is on fire and our writing momentum is strong, so stopping that creative flow to flesh out one or two words will slow or stop the momentum. Adverbs are useful placeholder words that identify an emotion or action until we can come back later and flesh out that idea. A single line of dialogue “said angrily” might become a passionate two-page scene between romantic leads during our revision. We tell, knowing we can return to that scene later and develop it into something profound—except sometimes we forget to go back and do just that. And if we don’t revise quickly enough, we might lose that passion altogether and forget what we’d wanted to write. Often, we also forget they’re just first-draft words and we’re harder on ourselves for “bad writing” than we should be. Continue reading


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The Writer’s Block: An Interview with Erin Petti

Recently, we had the opportunity to review Erin Petti’s amazing middle-grade novel The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee (September 2016, Mighty Media Press). Today, we are honored to have her joining us on The Writer’s Block.

Erin Petti

Middle Grade Mafia: Can you tell us how you decided to become a writer and what your path to published author was like?

Erin Petti: Thank you so much for having me on the blog! I’ve loved to write since I was a kid. In third grade it was mostly poems about anthropomorphic flowers, in high school I wrote a few plays, short stories in college, and comedy sketches in my 20’s.

It wasn’t until I heard the advice “write the book you want to read” that something clicked. I love children’s literature – both YA and MG. I began to think about the kind of stories I love the most: Empowered kids, ghosts, haunted New England woods, family secrets, and a crew of best friends banding together to do the impossible. Then I started writing.

I drafted Thelma Bee and revised, and revised, and revised! Through great beta readers, contests, and agent feedback, the manuscript got better and better. I am so ridiculously lucky that my brilliant agent Laura Zats found a home for my book at Mighty Media Press. They are the most creative, hardest working people in publishing (I’m sure of it) and they have done beautiful things with my book. The internal illustrations were a special surprise!

MGM: What kind of books did you like as a child and what does that say about you?

EP: I loved the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien had a huge impact on me as a reader and human (e.g., As I type this I have The Two Towers playing in the background because this is how I live.) When I was in sixth grade I discovered Ann Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and became completely obsessed – I think that’s where my love for dark creatures may have come from!

The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee by Erin Petti

MGM:  What inspired your book The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee? Were you like Thelma Bee, a budding scientist? Do you believe in ghosts?

EP:I was very, very different from Thelma when I was growing up – and I think that’s a main reason why I was inspired to write this book! Thelma is independent. She has such an unbreakable sense of self that all the regular middle school bologna rolls right off her. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her hair -she cares about her friends, her family, her work, and her dreams. It’s the way I wish I was when I was 11. I didn’t say boo my 6th grade year because of anxiety and being so terrified of what other people thought of me. I wanted to write a character that stared down the world and was absolutely true to her wonderful weird self!

MGM: Do you plan a sequel? Can you tease us with any details? When can we expect it to be released?

EP: Yes, a sequel is in the works! I can’t say much, but I’ll tell you that the crew will face an even more dangerous foe this time – the stakes get higher and Thelma learns a whole lot more about who she is and her family’s very unique history. Continue reading

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The Writer’s Block: An Interview with Kami Kinard

Kami Kinard headshot

Kami Kinard’s The Boy Project: Notes and Observations of Kara McAllister was re-released in paperback in July 2016. Middle Grade Mafia is excited to talk to Kami about her publishing experience and learn more about Kara McAllister’s quest for a boyfriend.  Kami is graciously offering to give away a free copy of The Boy Project. Stay tuned to Middle Grade Mafia for contest details.

Middle Grade Mafia: It’s been four years since we first saw The Boy Project. Were you surprised to learn it was coming out in paperback or was that part of the plan all along?

Kami Kinard: Well, it came out in paperback earlier for Scholastic Book Clubs before the release of The Boy Problem in 2014, but it was not available in trade stores in paperback. Now it’s part of Scholastic’s WISH line with a new cover and it’s on the shelves in Barnes and Noble, Target, and independent book stores. I did not expect it to be released again, so it was a very nice surprise.

MGM: As one of Scholastic’s WISH books, how does The Boy Project fit into that line?

KK: The tagline for the WISH novels is “Irresistible Stories of Friendship, First Crushes, and Fun.” Although The Boy Project is a story about first crushes, it’s more a story about friendship, and it’s light and humorous, so that makes it fun. It seems like a great fit for the line.

MGM: In The Boy Project, Kara McAllister decides to use the scientific method to get a boyfriend. Instead of chapters, the book is broken out into journal entries, charts, graphs, and research reviews. Why did you choose this format? Continue reading


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MG Book Review: Last Kids on Earth & the Zombie Parade by Max Brallier

The Last Kids on Earth Zombie Parade by Max Brallier

Jack, Quint, June, and Dirk are back and ready to kick monster butt in Max Brallier’s second installment of the fun THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH series.

In ZOMBIE PARADE, Jack and the gang are still cruising around the town of Wakefield in search of the baddies. Survival, snack food, and the occasional photo for Jack’s beast book put them on course for another wild adventure.

The crew notice that the town’s zombies are disappearing and decide that this may not be a good thing. When they receive help from a newcomer in town, they believe they can get to the bottom of the mystery.

Brallier has a talent in creating a believable MG voice, giving life to the kid characters like a cartoon on the page. Combine the words with Douglas Holgate’s illustrations and you find that you can’t put the book down.

The Last Kids series has been one I have enjoyed as an adult reader, but the fact that my nine and twelve year-old boys loved as much as I did is a testament to how much fun these books are. If you haven’t read the first book, click here to get it now.  Or click here to grab Zombie Parade.

Don’t miss out on great content from the Mafia! Have agency news, author interviews, book reviews, etc. delivered straight to your In-Box by entering your email address in the Subscribe Form at the top/right of the page.

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MG Book Review: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier


ghostsCatrina and her family move from Southern California to the coast of Northern California for her younger sister’s health.  Maya has cystic fibrosis and the cleaner, cooler air blowing in from the Pacific Ocean is better for her lungs. Cystic fibrosis is incurable and Cat knows that someday Maya will die of it. Cat doesn’t want to leave her friends and start over at a new middle school and she feels guilty for not wanting to do what is best for Maya.

The new town has a reputation as a great place for ghosts because the townspeople enjoy celebrating Dia de los Muertos- Day of the Dead. Cat is frightened by the whole idea of ghosts and wants nothing to do with them. But Maya is fascinated with the spirit world and talks their neighbor Carlos into giving them a ghost tour of the old amusement park. On the tour, they do see ghosts and Maya is thrilled, but she has a terrible breathing attack and ends up in the hospital. She almost dies.

Continue reading

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The Writer’s Block: An Interview with Bryce Moore

As Middle Grade Bloggers, we get the opportunity to review books before they hit the shelves. Luckily, we had the privileged of getting Bryce Moore’s book, The Memory Thief, before it made its way to Barnes & Noble. Even better is that the author agreed to answer our questions.


Middle Grade Mafia: Each author’s path to becoming a published author is unique. Please share your journey to getting THE MEMORY THIEF on the shelves.

The Memory Thief by Bryce Moore

Bryce Moore: After VODNIK came out in 2012, I was at a point where I’d completed all of my current novels, and I wanted to try something new. My wife and I at the time had a series of medical appointments in Portland, almost two hours away from our house. So we had plenty of time in the car together with nothing to do but talk. On one trip, I was stressed because I had no time to get my writing done that day, and my wife suggested we come up with a story idea as we drove. We came up with the magic system (how to steal memories and share them with others) on the way. I coupled that concept with the memory of awesome Disney horror movies I watched when I was a kid. (Something Wicked This Way Comes and Watcher in the Woods were the two that I loved the most.)

The book practically wrote itself after that.

Getting it published was much rockier. We sold it to one publisher, only to have them shutter their doors a few months later, leaving the book orphaned. That’s where my new publisher, Adaptive, stepped in. They’re all about finding lost projects (typically screenplays, but occasionally books) and breathing new life into them. My editor at the first publisher had found a new home at Adaptive, and she suggested MEMORY THIEF would be an excellent addition to their slate.

They agreed.

MGM: What is your writing process? Do you plot out the whole book before starting or are do you have an idea or character and see where it goes?

BM: I’m always tweaking my process, trying to find the approach that works best for me at any one time. I’ve plotted out a novel down to the tiny details, but in the end, I found out that a lot of what keeps me going as a writer is finding out what happens next. When I already know everything, I don’t feel the need to write it.

These days I generally start out with a general description of the book. What the main conflicts are and how most of it plays out. That document is probably only a couple of pages long. From that initial kernel, I write the whole book in one go, almost always in order (start at the beginning, end at the end), though occasionally I’ll jump ahead in the plot if things are getting bogged down.

After I’m finished with a first draft, I like to set it aside for three months or so. I then come back to it with fresh eyes so I can begin the revision process, which is typically extensive. Continue reading

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