Stars in Your Eyes–a Giveaway!

nate than ever Tim Federle has appeared on the Broadway stage in a catfish costume for “The Little Mermaid”.  He’s danced at Radio City Music Hall, sung at the Met, and performed at Super Bowl halftimes. Now, he’s pulled off the most important feat of all: he’s written a middle grade novel!

From IndieBound:

Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for seeing a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.

Tim Federle writes a warm and witty debut that’s full of broken curfews, second chances, and the adventure of growing up—because sometimes you have to get four hundred miles from your backyard to finally feel at home.

Tim is giving away a signed ARC of “Nate” to a MUF reader. Please leave a comment below to be eligible and, well, break a leg!




In April 2012, Jennifer Nielsen released Book 1 in the Ascendance series, titled THE FALSE PRINCE. It tells the story of a defiant orphan named Sage who is forced into a plot to impersonate the kingdom’s missing prince, where he must succeed, or be killed.

Now Sage is back in Book 2, THE RUNAWAY KING. The kingdom is edging closer to war, and with an assassination attempt on the new king, things may be worse than ever. Sage will need help from both new friends and old if he is to survive the dangers he now faces.

Jennifer, it’s been quite a ride this year with THE FALSE PRINCE. Can you tell a little about what’s happened with that book?

It has been crazy, yes. So far, translation rights have been sold in eleven languages; it was included on several lists including NYT Notable Books of 2012, PW Best Books of 2012, and Fuse #8 Magnificent Books of 2012. Also, Paramount Pictures is developing a screenplay for possible adaptation.

Let’s talk about that movie…

Movies can be a tricky thing because in that business, all you really ever have is what you have at the moment. There’s never a guarantee of things moving to the next step. That said, I’m really excited about the stage it’s in. Bryan Cogman, who is a very talented writer for HBO’s GAME OF THRONES series, is adapting the screenplay. Since THE FALSE PRINCE is often referred to as “a GAME OF THRONES for kids,” I consider that huge bonus points. Keep your fingers crossed!

So what can you tell us about THE RUNAWAY KING?

Not much, I’m afraid, because I want to keep this interview as spoiler free as possible. But I can say the danger, deceit, and twists that readers enjoyed in Book 1 will be back again. Only this time for Sage, things will definitely get worse.

Kirkus said of this book, “Readers will continue to find this arrogant, fearless, utterly reckless hero intriguing, fascinating, and complex as he battles the odds to protect the kingdom and people he now holds dear.” I think Sage would love to see himself described that way.

What has surprised you most in the last year?

I suppose it’s been the reach of the book. In fact, I got two emails this morning, one from a girl in China, and another from a blogger in the Philippines. So fun! I’ve had more than one young reader tell me they’re just like Sage (though for the sake of their parents, I hope they’re not!), and asking about auditions for the movie because they’re sure they’d be perfect for a certain part. There have been enthusiastic reader responses from kids as young as third grade all the way up to grandparents. I’m pretty sure Sage has received at least three online marriage proposals. It’s a tremendous feeling, and very humbling, each time I hear from a reader, especially when I know they’ve had to make some effort to find me online. For an author, the greatest reward is knowing that someone out there loves your book.


How has it been writing in the INFINITY RING series?

I’m actually just working on my book right now. It has been so much fun to work with the other amazing INFINITY RING authors. Their creativity, depth, and talent really set me up to continue the adventure for the kids who are the heroes of the series, and I hope to leave James Dashner (who is writing Book 7) with a great springboard for a really explosive Book 7 (no worries though. He has assured me the book will not actually explode).

THE RUNAWAY KING will be released on March 1. Jennifer is also writing the sixth book of Scholastic’s multi-platform series, THE INFINITY RING, to be released on Dec 1, 2013.

A Chat With Librarian Rachel Shulman

Today we welcome Rachel Shulman to the Mixed-Up Files. Rachel is a youth services librarian at the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire, Illinois. She oversees the library’s creative writing program for young authors, Write Away.

MUF: Welcome, Rachel!

RS: Thank you so much for having me!

MUF: So, what prompted the library to have a young writers’ group?

RS: We had a couple of patrons ask about a writing group, including one patron whose previous library offered a monthly writing group. I was involved in a couple of writing publications in college, so I was excited to foster a love of writing in others, and Write Away was born!

rachelshulmanMUF: Tell us about the kids who participate. How often does the group meet?

RS: Write Away meets once a month in the fall and spring. I hold one session for grades 3-4 and one for grades 5-8 each month. It’s not necessary to attend every month. I love it when the kids come back because that means they had fun writing (at least I hope they did!).

MUF: What goes on at a typical meeting?

RS: Each month in Write Away, we explore a different theme ranging from mysteries or fractured fairy tales to creating characters or overcoming writer’s block. We usually start with a warm-up such as MadLibs to get the creative juices flowing. Another popular warm-up is making up creative definitions for some of the weirdest, most obscure words I can find. One of my favorites is kerfuffle which means disorder or agitation. Then there is circumfloribus, meaning flowery or long-winded, which I like because that could describe my own writing at times!

After the warm-up, I introduce the theme with brainstorming or an activity. At this point we usually take a snack break to fuel up before the main writing event begins. The most important part of the session is the 20 minutes of dedicated (and quiet) writing time. This is when the kids can really push the limits of their imaginations. And I just love the sound of pencils on paper as they let their ideas flow onto the page.

Last but not least, anyone who wants to share what they have written so far with the group can do so. It’s not required, and I have to admit that when I was that age, I was way too shy to share my work in public. I’m always impressed by the writers who are brave enough to share and then even more impressed by what they write.

MUF: This program encourages imagination and fun. Do you think it has helped the kids develop their creative writing skills?

RS: Sometimes I have to explain that this is not a class and I won’t be grading anything. My goal is to offer a safe and encouraging environment for young writers to flex their creative muscles. I provide the spark or the prompt for the kids’ ideas and help them develop their creativity with praise and positive feedback. I think their writing improves because I give them the opportunity to practice writing whatever they want.

vapldMUF: Many of the young writers participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this past November. What was that experience like for them?

RS: NaNoWriMo is a daunting task to complete. It takes dedication and a lot of time to write a novel in 30 days, but we had quite a few winners in the Young Writers Program. The participants loved hearing from local authors who presented three programs at the library: how to get started (and keep going); individual feedback and encouragement halfway through the month; and finally our Thank Goodness It’s Over party focused on what it takes to be published. Many of the kids who participated exceeded their word count goals. They took on an intimidating challenge, and I think they surprised themselves most of all with how well they mastered that writing challenge.

MUF: The library printed a literary magazine containing the kids’ stories and poems. How did the kids react to getting “published?”

RS: The first annual Write Away! Literary Magazine was a hit! The library was able to publish a sophisticated book of 50 young authors’ creative writing that is now cataloged in the library’s collection and can be checked out.

litmagcover2012 Check out Write Away

My favorite feature, besides the amazing writing, is the ISBN. It makes it look so official. The literary magazine would not have been possible without the library’s Integrated Communications department which designed the book. All the published authors and their parents were impressed, as was I! The kids really loved seeing their writing in print, in a real book. They also enjoyed reading all the other stories and poems by their fellow authors.

MUF: Do any of the young writers aspire to be authors when they grow up?

RS: My Write Away kids are quite an ambitious bunch. There are several who want to become authors before they grow up! After all, when they write their first novel at age 12 during NaNoWriMo, the sky’s the limit. I will be able to say I knew them when!

MUF: What’s planned for this year? How do you see the program evolving in the future?

RS: We’ll be accepting submissions for the second annual Write Away! Literary Magazine starting March 11 until April 8. The Vernon Area Public Library is completing more exciting renovations this spring, so unfortunately that means the monthly Write Away sessions are on hiatus until the fall. Luckily, writers in grades 3-8 can send in their creative pieces to become published authors in just a few weeks time! I will be offering one-on-one editing sessions for any writers who want to polish their work before submitting it for publication. Aspiring authors can click here to find the dates and times on our event calendar.

We plan to offer NaNoWriMo programs again in November and publish an annual literary magazine every spring. Beyond that, I’ll just have to leave you with a quote from Daniel Pinkwater: “Read a lot. Write a lot. Have fun.”


Thank you, Rachel, for visiting the Mixed-Up Files and telling us about the Write Away program. If you have questions for Rachel, feel free to email her at The library’s website is:

Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of Calli Be Gold (Wendy Lamb Books 2011) and The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days (Wendy Lamb Books, coming spring 2014).