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Rob Kent interviews fellow authors, editors, literary agents, and other publishing professionals to discuss the craft and business of producing middle grade and young adult novels. New episode every Saturday. MiddleGradeNinja.com. Rob Kent is the author of BANNEKER BONES AND THE GIANT ROBOT BEES . He runs the popular blog for writers, Middle Grade Ninja, which features interviews and guest posts from authors, literary agents, and other publishing professionals. He also hosts the Middle Grade ...
 
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show series
 
Becky LeJeune and I chat about how she went from being a criminal justice major while working in a Walden Books to an editor and now a literary agent with the Bond Literary Agency. We talk about how she evaluates manuscripts, why you don’t want to convince an agent to represent a genre they’re not currently selling in, advice about finding comp tit…
 
Sara Pennypacker and I discuss tips for writing from the perspective of a fox in her long-anticipated sequel to the classic novel PAX, PAX: JOURNEY HOME. We chat about how she interviews animals and how she addresses darker subjects such as the full cost of war in children’s literature. We also talk about the novelization of SHARK TALE, how focusin…
 
Chris Negron and I discuss how he became an author, how his Parkinson’s disease makes him a better writer, and his newest book, THE LAST SUPER CHEF. We wonder if writers ever actually retire and how learning alternate titles of great works might forever change them. We chat about choosing an audiobook narrator, the Atlanta writers club, UFO disclos…
 
Marie Lamba and I discuss her terrible experience with her own novel that led her to become an agent with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency for the past decade. We talk about the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing, each of us sharing our tales. We also chat about the pandemic’s effect on publishing (and its future effects), an age…
 
John David Anderson and I talk about a little bit of everything in this far-ranging conversation between two Hoosier authors who like STAR WARS and Kurt Vonnegut. We chat about Anderson’s newest novel, STOWAWAY, as well as his classic, MS. BIXBY’S LAST DAY. Also discussed: writing two novels a year, leaving your heart on the page, space pirates, co…
 
To commemorate the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Kathleen Burkinshaw and I discuss her novel, THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM. This is one of the most important conversations I’ve ever had and I’ll be thinking about it for the rest of my life. Parts of it broke my heart and may break yours as well. You will hear my most awkward, deflecting …
 
Alyson Gerber and I discuss how to talk about food and diet for teens and creating sympathetic parent characters in her newest YA novel, TAKING UP SPACE. We also chat about how her ADHD is helpful to her as an author, the benefits of a background in acting, her writing workday, how wearing a back brace as a teen helped prepare her for the pandemic,…
 
Melissa Hope and I discuss her popular YouTube channel for authors, HOPEFUL HAPPENINGS, and how it paved the way to publish her debut novel, SEA OF KINGS. We chat about how she taught herself to write, collaborating with her marine biologist husband, working with Jolly Fish Press, finding beta readers, scheduling time to read while raising three ki…
 
Nicole Kornher-Stace and I discuss classic science fiction and her new middle grade novel, JILLIAN VS PARASITE PLANET. We also talk about the importance of portraying platonic friendships and not just romantic relationships in fiction, parasites, parenting, homeschool during a pandemic, anxiety, big dumb action movies as inspiration, video games, t…
 
Ali Standish and I discuss her writer’s journey, which included an MFA in children's writing from Hollins University and an MPhil in Children's Literature from the University of Cambridge, as well as working in the same building as her future literary agent (and sitting in her chair). We talk about Ali’s newest novel, THE MENDING SUMMER, writing an…
 
Erin Entrada Kelly and I chat about her writing habits and how she learned to focus on what her creative spirit wants her to do. We discuss how she won a Newberry Award and immediately quit her day job, as well as her newest middle grade novel, MAYBE, MAYBE MARISOL RAINEY. We talk about how she always remembers an affinity for the characters and th…
 
Mary C. Moore and I discuss her career from zookeeper to literary agent with Kimberly Cameron and Associates, as well as the types of projects and clients she’s looking to represent. We talk about the difference between a large agency and a smaller one, the ways in which she evaluates manuscripts and authors, the support she provides writers both d…
 
Jasmine Warga and I discuss her newest novel, THE SHAPE OF THUNDER, as well as gun violence in schools and mental health in youth. We also talk about her process of pantsing and revising to find her stories, how storytelling rekindled her love of science, how she overcame her habit of hoping between stories, how she learned to make time for writing…
 
Sailaja N. Joshi, Amy Maranville, Payal Doshi, and I discuss Mango + Marigold Press and their newest release, REA AND THE BLOOD OF THE NECTAR. We talk about the cycle of their book from submission to acquisition, editing and revising, marketing and promotion, all the way to its launch and beyond. We discuss the importance of increasing diversity in…
 
Robert Beatty and I discuss his many successes in life as a CEO and a writer, as well as his newest novel, WILLA OF DARK HOLLOW. We chat about his working with Amy Adams on the upcoming WILLA OF THE WOOD television show and the process that led to the publication of SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK. We talk about how writing is a skill and how he learn…
 
Leila Sales and I talk about her career in publishing as well as her newest middle grade novel, THE CAMPAIGN. We discuss in depth how she read submissions as an editor and made her decisions about rejecting and accepting them. She shares her habits for successfully writing while being extremely busy, the pros and cons of decentralizing publishing, …
 
Dr. Susan McCormick and I discuss writing about medical realities that are sometimes frightening for the middle grade audience in her new novel, THE ANTIDOTE. She shares her thoughts on how the pandemic has impacted young people and reasons for us to be optimistic about the future. We also chat about muses and the mysteries of writing, her secrets …
 
Alane Adams shares the story of her transition from a successful accountant to a successful author and founder of the Rise Up Foundation. We talk about researching and writing mythology for her series, LEGENDS OF OLYMPUS, and her latest release, MEDUSA QUEST. We also discuss tips for productivity, the importance of not stopping writing for anything…
 
David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka join me to discuss their collaboration from its start to how it remains successful, and their newest picture book, SEE THE CAT. We discuss the very different paths they took to publication, the difference in a writer’s workday versus an illustrator’s workday, the difference winning an award makes, school visits, …
 
Holly McGhee and I talk about her childhood in the country and how she went from selling corn out of a pickup truck to founding Pippin Properties Inc, an agency that has profoundly shaped the face of modern children’s literature. We chat about her relationship with author Kate DiCamillo both as a client and as a friend, and how it led to the creati…
 
Luke Cunningham and I push the boundaries of what is an appropriate podcast conversation to promote a middle grade novel such as his debut, LEO, INVENTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE. We discuss his time writing for THE TONIGHT SHOW, Pomodoro sessions, our dream pedestal arcades, working with Harper Collins Christian, the problem with rich people, writing politi…
 
Author Kyle Lukoff tells the story of how he persisted in publishing and finally landed his dream agent, Saba Sulaiman, who joins him on the podcast. We discuss how they revised Kyle’s newest, TOO BRIGHT TO SEE, how they submitted it to editors, sold it at auction, and are now promoting it as well as selling Kyle’s future novels. We also chat about…
 
Carole Boston Weatherford and I discuss poetry, history, and race in her newest picture books BOX: HENRY BROWN MAILS HIMSELF TO FREEDOM and UNSPEAKABLE: THE TULSA RACE MASSACRE. We talk about discussing difficult history for children, how to tailor-make books for Critical Reading elementary school students, what it means to be called to poetry by T…
 
Six months after our first conversation in episode 78, editor Sara-Jayne Slack and author Dorothy A. Winsor discuss Inspired Quill’s 10th anniversary and their latest release in the Tales of Rinland series, THE TRICKSTER. We chat about life during the pandemic, the advantages of in-person events vs online book promotion, the dos and don’ts of talki…
 
Carrie Seim and I discuss her newest novel, HORSE GIRL, as well as her bestselling audiobook, THE FLYING FLAMINGO SISTERS, and her performance of both. We talk about her time as a writer for Nickelodeon and a performer on INSIDE AMY SCHUMER, her audition for Saturday Night Live, how she combined her training in improvisational comedy with The Groun…
 
Esabella Strickland is an award-winning actress, screenwriter, filmmaker, and social media influencer who’s just published her first novel, THEN AND THERE, HERE AND WHERE. And she’s 15 years old. We discuss her time as a Variety BC Youth Ambassador speaking about her anxiety, ADHD, and dyslexia, as well as her jeans pocket art. She explains how she…
 
Nick Goss and I discuss self publishing, home schooling, his bought with Covid-19, writing secular stories as a Christian, the pros and cons of social media, the importance of organizing a writing schedule, producing output that meets your personal standard, stories that are premium Nintendo good, a tale of the supernatural, and so much more. And, …
 
My friend Lisa Fipps and I discuss “fat girl rules,” intrinsic self worth, overcoming bullying, and writing a story in free-verse poetry. Her debut novel, STAR FISH, releases this week with starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, me, and many others. You don’t want to miss this book. Lisa and I also…
 
Mike Johnston and I discuss his new middle grade series, CONFESSIONS OF A DORK LORD, and the stylistic differences between his fantasy writing for adults under the super-secret penname, Michael Johnston. Also, medieval toilets. We chat about working with his illustrator, how experience as a dungeon master in Dungeons and Dragons helps with world bu…
 
Donna Galanti and I discuss how she started her writing career at age 40 and exploded into it with discipline and passion. She shares what she’s learned about being productive and prolific while successfully managing social media. Also, a ghost story. We discuss her newest novel, UNICORN ISLAND, her time in the Navy, how she left her literary agent…
 
Theo Gangi and Rucker Moses, the pen name for authors Craig S. Phillips and Harold Hayes Jr., discuss their collaboration for their novel, KINGSTON AND THE MAGICIAN’S LOST AND FOUND. We talk about their writing for television, subverting the author ego, increasing suspense with a ticking clock, planning a series one book at a time, ghosts and flyin…
 
Author and former children’s book editor Caroline Gertler and I discuss her debut novel, MANY POINTS OF ME. We also chat about her studies of art history, her time working for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, how she chose her literary agent, how she made the mental transition from editor to author, how she writes intuitively for children while gain…
 
Christina Li and I discuss how she began writing seriously at age 12, secured a literary agent before graduating high school, and is celebrating the publication of her debut novel, CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE, before graduating college. We also talk about researching the eighties, an author’s responsibility when writing about grief for younger readers, h…
 
It’s the third ever, ridiculously long mega-sized Middle Grade Ninja clips show, featuring snippets from episodes 60 through 100.New episodes are scheduled to return January 30th.Until then, enjoy this compilation of clips from conversations with AUTHORS Catherine Linka, Barbara Shoup, Kaela Noel, Sayantani DasGupta, Avi, Anna Meriano, Anne Bustard…
 
Cheryl Klein and I talk about writing and publishing and everything good in this 100th episode extravaganza. She shares her journey from growing up in a small Missouri town to becoming the continuity editor for the last three HARRY POTTER novels and the enormity of that experience. We discuss her newest book, A YEAR OF EVERYDAY WONDERS, and her adv…
 
G. Neri and I discuss CONCRETE COWBOY, the upcoming Netflix film based on his novel GHETTO COWBOY. He explains how he creates character voices, how stories chose him, and how he translates scientists’ studies into fiction. We also talk about writing during a pandemic, looking for alligators, surviving Antarctica, renting videos from a pre-Reservoir…
 
Melissa de la Cruz and I discuss the differences between writing original stories such as her newest, NEVER AFTER: THE THIRTEENTH FAIRY, and her best-selling series THE NEW BLUE BLOODS COVEN, and writing for established intellectual property, such as THE DESCENDANTS and GOTHAM HIGH. She also shares how she built her author career by first writing f…
 
Hena Khan and I discuss her career thus far in children’s publishing and her wide range of books from IT’S RAMADAN, CURIOUS GEORGE to ZAYD SALEEM, CHASING THE DREAM to her most recent MORE TO THE STORY and the upcoming AMINA’S SONG. We discuss how she strives to create the representation in children’s literature that was lacking when she was a youn…
 
John Gallagher and I nerd out about comics, action figures, Batman and all the best things in life, including his new comic book-ish novel, MAX MEOW: CAT CRUSADER. We also talk about his role as art director for RANGER RICK MAGAZINE, our mutual childhood dreams of being Robin, outlining while leaving room for fun, the importance of creating fast, l…
 
Victoria Bond and I discuss ZORA AND ME: THE SUMMONER, the third book in her trilogy with coauthor T.R. Simon, and the collaboration that made it possible. We talk about Zora Neale Hurston, writing historical fiction, and depicting the ugly truth of America’s racist past in literature for younger readers. We also chat about zombies, money in publis…
 
Tonya Duncan Ellis and I discuss her SOPHIE WASHINGTON series and I convince to give away all her indie publishing and marketing secrets for free. In this Halloween-ish episode, we discuss “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors, specifics for writing a successful middle grade series, why it’s important for characters of color to star in stories…
 
What don’t legendary editor Elizabeth Law and I chat about in this far-ranging conversation that only begins to scratch at the surface of her vast publishing knowledge? We discuss her interactions with literary agents, working with Stephen King, her “cameo” in GERALD’S GAME, her work for Roald Dahl, the origin story of previous guest, Dan Gutman, l…
 
Marcella Pixley and I talk about her new novel TROWBRIDGE ROAD, currently on the long list for the National Book Award. We discuss the many parallels between that story set in 1983 (now considered historical fiction!), her own similar childhood and how she separated the two to create a “soul book” We also chat about editing, teaching 8th grade lang…
 
Hayley Chewins and I discuss her newest novel, THE SISTERS OF STRAYGARDEN PLACE, and our mutual love for the greatest singer, composer, and writing muse extraordinaire, Tori Amos. We also talk about writing intuitively, the joy of language, motivations to write, fixing common plot problems, working with her literary agent, Patricia Nelson, revising…
 
Margie Preus and I chat about the path to publishing HEART OF THE SAMURAI and being a Newberry Honor as well as the final book in her ENCHANTMENT LAKE series, THE SILVER BOX. She shares some lessons she learned from legendary writing instructor, John Gardner, and how she overcame the success of her first novel to complete SHADOW ON THE MOUNTAIN. We…
 
Editor Mari Kesselring and author Patrick Hueller share with me the story of how they met, each a set of identical twins with a love of literature, and how they work together now as writers, parents, and spouses. Mari tells me about her publisher, North Star Editions, and Patrick tells me about his newest book, READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL. We also talk …
 
Jim McCarthy and I discuss how he became a literary agent and his career in publishing so far. We chat about COVID-19 and its impact on the industry, the excitement he felt when his first client’s book took off, how he falls in love with a submission, the sorts of projects he’s interested in, how he woos a potential client, what a writer can expect…
 
Daniel Kraus and I discuss his newest book, THEY THREW US AWAY, a wonderfully dark middle grade novel written by an author of horror. We get along famously. We talk briefly about prequel possibilities for THE SHAPE OF WATER and at length about his collaboration with George Romero on THE LIVING DEAD. We also chat about plotting, the benefits of work…
 
Laura Stegman and I talk about SUMMER OF LUCK, her debut novel that took over 20 years to publish, as well her plan to promote it, and she would know. She was raised by publicists and has been one herself for more than three decades. We also discuss her journey from an actress to an author, the time she visited the set of Mary Poppins, her early in…
 
Kiana Nguyen and I have a blast discussing our mutual love for THE LAST OF US PART II. Eventually, we get around to her role as a literary agent for Donald Maass Literary Agency as well as a park ranger. We talk about “standard” coming out stories and “girl-saves-the-world” stories and why both are better avoided. We also chat about evaluating quer…
 
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