Here is a list of ten influential middle grade writers I found on twitter. These beautiful people are using their writing talents and passion to offer something valuable to other writers. They are a source of inspiration for me and many others.
1. Shannon Messenger - blog meme and writer's conference
MMGM stands for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. What is it? She explains it on her site: "I'd noticed that middle grade books didn't seem to get a lot of love in the blogosphere, so I created the meme to shine a bit of a spotlight on them, in the hopes that others would do the same. I LOVE when other bloggers join in." Shannon displays a list of all MMGM posts every Monday. To join is simple: write a post about a MG book or author you want to highlight, and e-mail Shannon your link by Sunday night.
WriteOnCon is a free online children’s writers conference (main characters under 18 only) created by writers, for writers. I had a chance to participate (a lot in 2010 when it all started, and a little the following years) and I was impressed! Everyone can join, for free, from anywhere around the globe. Shannon is one of the founders and does a great job co-hosting the event every year. I would highlight all the masterminds behind that awesome event, but this post focuses on MG writers only. Maybe on the next post.
2. Elissa Cruz - twitter chat and group blog
#MGlitchat, a twitter event that takes place every Thursday on twitter. Join in if you love MG books! Twitter chats make my head spin so I don't normally join in, but I'm often lurking to see what the topic is and what great tweets are being retweeted. I also use this hash tag to add participants to my MG Writers twitter list.
From the Mixed Up Files is the group blog of middle-grade authors celebrating books for middle-grade readers. For anyone with a passion for children’s literature—teachers, librarians, parents, kids, writers, industry professionals— we offer regularly updated book lists organized by unique categories, author interviews, market news, and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a children's book from writing to publishing to promoting."
3. Hilary Wagner - group blog
Project Mayhem is a group blog of about a dozen MG writers who are either traditionally published, agented, or established book reviewers or bloggers. This blog is packed with writing tips, MG novel reviews, and industry news.
The first two MG novels in Hilary's series, NIGHTSHADE CHRONICLES, have been published.
4. Kate Messner - online auction and appearances
KidLit Cares, an online talent auction to benefit the Red Cross relief effort for Sandy. Agents, editors, authors, and illustrators have donated various services to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with donations being made directly to the Red Cross disaster relief fund. Great cause!
Kate also does a whole lot of other things. She offers both in-person and virtual visits to schools, libraries, book clubs, conferences, and business and educational meetings. She also speaks at SCBWI and other writing conferences and gives professional development workshops for educators. She has published picture books, chapter books, and MG novels.
5. Jess Keating - twitter meme
#KeatingCreature is a Twitter feature where Jess posts a knowledge bite about an amazing animal. You can also find a list of all the amazing creatures on her blog. Informative and entertaining. Love it! Besides being a MG writer, Jess is also a zoologist, and her passion for animals is evident. Nice to see something on twitter other than promotion links and articles about writing. Those are good too, but I'm always looking forward to discovering the next strange animal Jess will feature. I hope her agent finds her a contract soon. I imagine I'll find the same passion, the same love for animals, the same wit in her MG book. I want to read it!!
6. Brenda Drake - cool contest
Pitch Wars, in which writers have a chance to find a mentor that will help them fine tune their first pages and pitch to get them ready for the agent round. This contest is a wonderful opportunity for writers to network and have fun, and possibly find a mentor ... and an agent! I didn't get picked by a mentor, but I loved the concept. Brenda was one of the mentors for MG writers, and I received valuable feedback from her and another mentor I submitted to.
7. Riley Carney - nonprofit, young author, appearances
Breaking the Chain to eliminate poverty for children through education and sustainable development, both within the United States and internationally. Breaking the Chain places new books in high-risk, high-need elementary and middle schools. It seeks to increase literacy rates by providing opportunity. What a wonderful cause! And reading the testimonies on the website, a very successful one as well.
Riley is a young author at 19, and published five books in a fantasy series for ages nine and up, THE REIGN OF THE ELEMENTS. She wrote the first three books when she was 15, the other two when she was 16. Some of her profits go toward her literacy program for children.
Riley does a lot of speaking engagements. She visits schools, speaks at writer's conferences and library events, has offered writing workshops for kids and teens, and is also available for Skype chats. She talks to kids about her books and how important reading and writing have been in her life, about Breaking the Chain, about taking ownership over their own education, and about risking failure to achieve their dreams. What a powerful message! Oh, and her tweets are awesome. You should absolutely follow her.
The moral of the story: we are never too young (or too old) to make a difference and to achieve our dreams.
8&9. Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer - resources for young writers
SPILLING INK, a book that teaches writing skills to young writers. Their website is packed with resources for both teachers and young writers, a book club, and writing contests for kids age 8-12. What a great way to encourage young writers to develop their skills!
Anne Mazer's books include the MG series of twenty books, THE AMAZING DAYS OF ABBY HAYES.
Ellen Potter wrote SLOB (which I absolutely loved) among many other MG novels, including THE HUMMING ROOM, released earlier this year.
10. Eric DelaBarre - positive message, coaching
SALTWATER TAFFY, I was impressed by its positive message. Eric uses this book to teach his young fans (affectionately called Taffy Heads) to believe in themselves and in their unique qualities. He conveys his message through book club and school visits (in person or through Skype), YouTube videos, an essay contest for kids on his website, and a workbook that complements his novel.
He also offers coaching sessions to other writers at a reasonable price.
The world is filled with awesome people. Do you know of any other MG writers who made a difference?