Monday, June 10, 2013

Identity Crisis?

The other night I was brainstorming with a friend about Mayhem blog-post ideas.  I found myself describing us as a community of people who love middle-grade: readers, writers, teachers, librarians, and others. I was about to sit down and write a post to hand out "Best Supporting Actor/Actress" awards for secondary characters in middle-grade novels (a post which still may be forthcoming), when I paused.  

I *think* my understanding of the Mayhem community is somewhat accurate - the comments at least seem to reflect our mutual interest in getting good books into the hands of readers.  But then I felt like I myself was back in middle-school, poked by insecurity and second-guessing things, wondering if we're actually sparking conversations that connect with our readers.

So are we?  I'd love to hear from you all - especially any new followers - and extend an open invitation for comments and introductions.  So don't be shy.  If you've never commented before, now's your chance.

1.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.  What specifically draws you to middle-grade literature?  Are you a parent?  Teacher?  Librarian?  Writer?  All of the above?  None of the above, but,  like me, just never grew out of the middle-grade shelves?  :)

2.  What aspect of middle-grade books do you enjoy discussing online?  Reviews?  Author interviews? Writing tips?  Marketing tips?  Anything you'd like to see more of?

3.  And, just for fun, who IS your favorite supporting character in a middle-grade novel?

I''ll go first, okay?

I'm Marissa.  Even if I didn't write MG fantasy, it would still be my favorite section in the library.  I love how middle-grade novels straddle childhood and adulthood, one foot planted firmly in the realm of fantastic, magical imagination, and the other tiptoeing into realms of identity and what it means to relate to the world and people around us.

I also like to read book reviews and author interviews.  As a parent, I'm hungry for good recommendations, especially since my boys are already bored with my never-ending raves over Anne of Green Gables.  I can pull out a few classic middle-grade titles I know might appeal, but I'm always looking for good MG reads with boy-appeal.

And my favorite supporting character?  Favorite anything is just so hard to narrow down, but I've just finished reading MIRAGE, by: Jenn Reese, and I really have enjoyed Aluna's friend, Hoku.


  1. Hello!
    I'm Cassidy leora, and I've been reading (stalking) this site for a long time!
    I mostly prefer MG fantasy!
    I really look forward to your guys's writing tips, but that's just because I am a writer myself.
    I think you all do a VERY good job, and I always look forward to these posts, and get excited while reading them!
    And, hmm, my favorite supporting character?
    It must be Lian from Half Upon a Time written by James Riley!
    Ever heard of it? It's one of my FAVORITES and recommend it to everyone!
    I follow (stalk) A LOT of blogs like this one, from MG to YA, from 'FOR WRITERS' to 'FOR READERS', but I have to say Project Middle Grade Mayhem is my favorite! You guys have the perfect mix of tips, reviews, and just plain FUN posts, I check back everyday for the next one!
    Good job, you guys, on making such a neat site for everyone! I appreciate it! <3

    1. Yay! Thanks for stopping by, Cassidy! So happy you like Project Mayhem. I have yet to read Half Upon a Time, but I love the cover! Will have to check it out! M

  2. I'm Natalie. I'm an aspiring MG and YA fantasy writer and blog at Literary Rambles. I love MG fantasy best, but read other genres of MG and YA. I love watching the characters grow and the story's are faster paced than adult stories. I love reading about the character development that goes on in the middle grade years.

    As to question #2, I like reading posts and discussing all of the things you mentioned.

    1. Yes! So much character growth and definition in these years. I love how certain books can transport me back there -haha!

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  4. 1. What keeps me reading middle grade is not feeling the need to incinerate the envelope like YA does now.

    I also don't have to defend what I love writing about nearly as much, even though the goal of my site is to bring in older readers (Teens and Adults) who do still love what I read/write, and have no issues suspending disbelief, I'm also trying to speak to us closet "Talking Animal Addicts" and get them to come out of the closet of shame and see there are others like them. My dream is to build the kind of community for us animal fantasy lovers that other fandoms have.

    Think of the literary "Cults" people formed over Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, DC/Marvel comics, etc...

    I also want to educate/entertain people that there are great books in this area that are not clones of the bestsellers most people know.

    As a writer, you can still challenge yourself and try new ideas in middle grade fiction, but you're not as demanded to be edgy as you are in YA, even though I know you don't have to be dark or tragic, it's hard to find books like that in the current market, because "dated" is as deadly in books today as "boring" has always been. Personally, I'm not as turned off by a lot of so-called "dated" references, so long as they work in the story and matter to the characters involved. Maybe I'm in the minority, but that's just me.

    Obviously, you can have some romance in MG (As mentioned in a post from last week), but as the post advises, you have a slippery slope to navigate.

    First love in MG has a different meaning and tone than in YA (Even when sex isn't the main focus in the latter), and that's so much harder for me to access as a writer, think of that what you will...(I'm under 30, which I say only to express that I'm not some old prudent, stick in the mud which I feel my statement could sound like. Also, I'm male, again I only state as I'm often mistaken as a woman because of how I put things, hopefully now that I use a photo of me I can avoid that assumption more.)

    2. I love book reviews that don't spoil the whole story, and yet convince me to buy and/or read a book I otherwise might not, not something you can quantify, but now that I do reviews on my site, it's something I strive toward, especially the "not give the whole story away" part.

    I try to be personable in my reviews, and rather than give basic info you can find anywhere, I bring my experience of reading the book to the reader, and maybe show what people who might otherwise not read the book why they should take a peek, which makes my [written] reviews longer than I'd ideally like, but I've accepted my blogging style's chatty, and in the future I plan to do video overviews for all the books I review so "quick bites" folk can watch a condensed version of the review, so I can have the best of both audiences, but that's on hold until I get a decent webcam.

    3. Favorite supporting character? Hard one. But I'm going with Tucker Mouse from "A Cricket in Times Square." I like his charisma.

    You all are doing a fine job in accomplishing your blog's mission. It's why I applied to be one of you guys when you had the open call last year, hopefully if you have another open spot later on I'll have more to offer, but in any case this blog inspires me to keep pushing toward reaching the readers I want to have on my own site.

    There are so many great blogs for picture books and YA, middle grade (In general, as opposed to a specialized niche like my site) was LONG OVERDUE for its own hangout on the web, and you hard-working authors created it. Thanks. I'll stop here, before I go rambling for ages...

    Take Care All,
    Taurean (Taury)

    1. Yes! Hooray for Tucker! Just finished reading that with my boys. Such a good one.

  5. Great questions, great answers. Thanks, all! Very fun and informative and thought-provoking to read...


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!