Saturday, September 24, 2011

MG Author Eisley Jacobs and Born to be a Dragon

Middle Grade Feature Author & Book: Eisley Jacobs and her book Born to be a Dragon

Eisley Jacobs is one of the few middle grade authors I actually know and she was kind enough to let me interview her about her mg book for this month's topic. Here is the interview, enjoy!

How long have you been writing?
I think I’ve been writing since around the fifth grade. Seriously though, I was writing in spiral notebooks and creating stories for my peers to read. Poetry and actual stories that were probably rubbish, but I loved to write.

Sounds like fun. Rubbish is a good start, I know my first poems were just that, lol.
What is your book about?
BORN TO BE A DRAGON is about the epic friendship between a ten-year-old dragon and a ten-year-old girl. It’s a book about following your dreams and not listening to what the “world” says… It’s an amazing adventure for all ages.

Sounds awesome. I'm looking forward to reading the book.
Where did you get the idea for your book?
You know, a lot of people ask that and I really don’t have an answer. Story ideas come from many places and this one just happened to come at a time that I was ready to write it. My children love this story (as do many others) and it was just the right time.

Makes sense. Some ideas are hard to pinpoint an origin to but it's good you have a wonderful audience (your children). I remember hearing about them and the book on twitter. And when you published it that made things even better.
Publication story: What publication route did you go and how did you go about getting there?
I queried BORN TO BE A DRAGON (under a different name) at least 80 times. Sent a few fulls and a few partials and no one really wanted it right then. One agent said it wasn’t the right “time” for this type of story, while another said that she just couldn’t take on another dragon story. So I did my research and decided CreateSpace was the right place for me and I haven’t been disappointed.

I'm glad you found a route that works for you. Have heard some good things about CreateSpace too. Now, let's talk about other people's books.
What books do you like to recommend to others?
If you are reading in my genre, middle grade, I would recommend Chronicles of Narnia, Percy Jackson, Series of Unfortunate Events, The Secret Series and 39 Clues ;)

Haven't read any of them but I have heard of most, surprisingly. Genre time!
If you could write in any genre, which would you do?
I’ve never been asked this question, but I would honestly have to say I am doing it now. Middle Grade and Young Adult are fabulous genre’s and I will probably write them forever. I just love the audience and the reactions I receive. It’s really just awesome.

Great that you found something you can write and continue to love.
Is there a genre you wouldn't write in?
Probably adult fiction. I just can’t relate to it as a kid at heart.

Ah, okay. That's a good reason and we each have our own comfort zones in writing.
Do you have a project(story) you are working on now, or want to start working on soon?
I am currently working on Dragons Forever 2 and when it’s done, I will hopefully be doing a final read through of RINGS OF TIME, a YA Fantasy Novel.

Thank you Eisley for taking the time to let me interview you. Can't wait to read your book some day. People check out this author, you won't regret it.
Where online can the wonderful readers find you and your book?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Writing for Middle Grade

Note to self: When doing a month long topic about something you know nothing about, prepare ahead of time. And try to find stuff you know about personally.

There are some great posts coming soon but for now, I'm going to use different sources to provide tips for people who do write middle grade stories.

Writing a Middle Grade Masterpiece by Margot Finke at

Here are some tips on writing for middle grade that appeals both the upper aged and the younger ones since a variety of readers find themselves in the middle grade section (often found in the children's section of bookstores) found on the site by Finke.

Here are some ingredients for a Middle Grade Masterpiece:
Use powerful and active verbs.
A cool and fast paced plot to keep the reader going.
Have your own unique voice.
Alive character with authenticity and dialogue that matches.
Hook readers at the end of every chapter.

Other tips:
Observe kids in their natural habitat. See how they interact, speak and such.
Read published middle grade books and dissect them to see what makes them work.
Network with other middle grade writers.

You Can Write a Middle Grade Novel at

- Get started and don't quit.

- Research

- Provide characters and conflict

- Check out this web site for more details

There are some organizations that can help, especially this one:
The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Favorite Middle Grade Novels

This is a simple post. While I don't remember every middle grade book I've read in the past, there are some that stick with me. And some I'm not sure if they count as middle grade but I read them during that time so maybe they count. Either way, here are some of my favorites.

Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Silver Crown by Robert C. O'Brien
Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison (wore this book out)
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
A World Without Heroes (Beyonders) by Brandon Mull
Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene
Books by Kenneth Thomasma:
    Amee-nah: Zuni Boy Runs the Race of His Life
    Soun Tetoken: Nez Perce Boy Tames a Stallion
    Naya Nuki: Shoshoni Girl Who Ran
    Moho Wat: Sheepeater Boy Attempts a Rescue

And there are others that I remember some details about reading because I was very into reading back when I was younger. I would read all the time. But I don't remember things like titles, authors or even character names or the exact plots per say. So, there are many great books even from when I was middle grade age. And some of the ones on the list are ones I've read as an adult.

What are your favorite middle grade novels?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Middle Grade Month

Welcome to September and one of many monthly topics. This month is all about middle grade books.

The first question is of course: What is Middle Grade?

Often found in the children's section of book stores, middle grade is a term generally used for books geared towards readers aged 8-12. Though like many genres, there are some gray areas even with the age range of the readers and subsequently, the main characters. Not every store places the same either. Sometimes the same book can be found in young adult in one store but middle grade in a different store.

Here is a site that tries to put a light to the difference between middle grade and young adult:

Age: Often, the age of main characters (and readers) are 8 to 12 years old, though sometimes depending on the story, a character can be a little older and still be considered middle grade. 13 is sort of an in between age because many see young adult as 14-18, so the story does really matter.

Length: While one might expect middle grade books to be shorter, that is not always the case. Especially for established authors in genres like fantasy, the novels can be quite long. In fact, I have one I read an ARC for that is actually longer than a few adult epic fantasy novels I own.

Subject: The subject matter is a little different from young adult, for the most part. Not that there isn't questionable content in any middle grade books, but the focus of plots are often viewed as different. According to the Write4Kids site listed above explains the difference between middle grade and young adult with how the middle grade conflict is focused more inward to the main character. When the character grows, the changes are more focused. Young adult had inward change too but that is often affect by outward influences and a "bigger picture" plot. Of course, there are always exceptions.

While I don't know much about middle grade, I am going to try and learn more this month. Also, over on Reading at Dawn, I will be reviewing middle grade books all month. Hope everyone enjoys September.

What does middle grade mean to you?
Do you read and/or write middle grade?