Sci Fi for the Middle Grade Set–Middle Grade Week

Yup, Michelle again. Still hanging with me? This is fun! Sue is doing all my blogging work! Seriously, she’s a whiz. I hope you learn something from her. She’s taught me a lot. If you missed any posts, the links are in the schedule directly below. Okay, on to day three of Middle Grade Week…
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This week is all about Middle Grade: writing it, indie publishing it, and especially marketing it! As you may know, reaching those elusive middle grade readers is tough, doubly so when you’re indie published. Plus there are giveaways (see below)!
Here’s the schedule:
Warrior Faeries and Math Magick: How Susan Kaye Quinn is using a Virtual Author Visit video and Teacher’s Guide to reach readers with her MG novel, Faery Swap.
Faery, Fairy, Sweet and Scary: a discussion with MG author Kim Batchelor on writing about Faeries in kidlit.
WEDNESDAY: 
Sci Fi for the Middle Grade Set: a discussion with MG author Dale Pease about writing SF for kids.
THURSDAY: 
Writing Indie MG: a roundup of indie MG authors (Michelle Isenhoff, Elise Stokes, Lois Brown, Mikey Brooks, Ansha Kotyk) about why they write MG and how to reach readers, including their indie MG author Emblazoner’s group catalog.
FRIDAY: 
Marketing Indie Middle Grade – The Hardest Sell – about reaching MG readers as an MG author.
Middle Grade Science Fiction
with Dale Pease and Susan Kaye Quinn
Sue: Dale, what inspired you to write science fiction for the middle grade set?
Dale: I can remember distinctly the transition from “children’s books” to “real” books when I was a kid. I read a lot of books like “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” and the “Hardy Boys.” But it wasn’t until the day I picked up “The Hobbit” for the first time that I truly fell in love with reading. As I look back, I truly believe this was the moment when I could have just as easily stopped being a reader altogether. Kids today, especially boys, are much more likely to quit reading after children’s books become too childish. That’s why I LOVE middle grade books. When done well, they can be a fantastic transition for kids, and a way of turning them into life-long readers.
I’m especially drawn to writing stories to keep boys in love with reading, and I think Science Fiction is a great way to do that. When books about talking animals, and school bullies become a little too simplistic, sci-fi can really grab a kid’s imagination.
There is a downside, of course. Boys do, in fact, give up on reading around the tween years. So publishers, who are in it to make money like everyone else, don’t market many books to this demographic. And that is where the indie-author can step in. We can write books just as exciting and polished as the big publishers produce, but we don’t have the overhead, so we can fill in the gaps.
The Noah Zarc trilogy is one such series of books. Although girls (and adults) have loved it, I primarily wrote it to be a story boys would feel a connection with. It is meant to help create life-long readers, and maybe, just maybe, keep boys from turning away from reading. And one day, like me, a boy can say they’re so glad they never did.
Sue: Dale, your point about indie authors filling in the gaps is so important, I want to say it again: 

Dale: “Indie authors create books just as exciting and polished as the big publishers produce, but we don’t have the overhead, so we can fill in the gaps.”

I’m a firm believer that the way you hook kids into reading and keep them reading, is making sure that you’re always putting books in their hands that they will enjoy. This is a constant challenge for parents, because it’s not just a one-time job. And kids are all different, and their tastes change as they grow. So having a variety of books available is incredibly key to keeping kids engaged. My own middle grade science fiction – my first novel I wrote intending to publish it – was turned down by publishers precisely because it wasn’t broad enough to appeal to everyone. But it was never intended to do that. And it’s just the kind of book that will appeal to certain kinds of kids, including those reluctant boy readers. Someday, I hope to get around to revising and publishing that one as well, now that I’ve dipped into the MG pool with my fantasy-with-science-elements book Faery Swap.Kids also love series, and Dale has a full trilogy out with his Noah Zarc series, with gorgeous interior illustrations, drawn by Dale himself – lots of SF for MG kids to love!


D. Robert Pease is the author of the Noah Zarc series, the upcoming fantasy, SHADOW SWARM, and the upcoming Joey Cola series. He lives in the grey-skied world of Northeast Ohio. You can find out more at his website.
Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble (Noah Zarc Book 1) 
Kindle | iTunes | Nook | Print | Audio
In a future where Earth has been wiped clean of all life, and humanity has moved on to other worlds, twelve-year-old Noah Zarc and his family have embarked on a quest, in a time-traveling spaceship called the ARC, to retrieve two of every animal and repopulate a dead world.

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction, and several adult fiction stories. Faery Swap is her foray into middle grade, which is her first writing love. Her business card says “Author and Rocket Scientist” and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can subscribe to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she’s up to.
Faery Swap
Kindle | Nook | Print

Fourteen-year-old Finn is tricked into swapping places with a warrior faery prince and has to find his way back home before the dimensional window between their worlds slams shut. Faery Swap is on tour March 3rd – March 21st with a $25 gift card and magick wand giveaways! Sign up here.


More Middle Grade Coolness coming up this week! Enter the Giveaway below from all the participating authors!

6 thoughts on “Sci Fi for the Middle Grade Set–Middle Grade Week

  1. Another interesting post. I like that more MG books are being targeted towards boys. They fill the gap so that boys keep reading. I just know that our grandsons read books on their own as tweens, but then became more interested in sports — both top exceptional in golf and soccer. They weren’t into fantasy. So I found myself looking for MG stories that may involve sport stories. Then they started reading adult books. I didn’t know about Indie MG 10 yrs ago.

    1. Yeah, look how far indie MG has come in 10 years. I think it is going to be discovered more and more. Groups like Emblazon are working hard to get noticed! And the quality of many of our writers is bound to gain some attention from the gatekeepers. It’s just getting ourselves in front of them that is so difficult.

      1. My only concern for the Indies who are writing excellent MG, that there are authors working alone that ask me to read their MG books — and they present intriguing books but the quality is poor. Have one I don’t know what to do with.

  2. Which is EXACTLY why the big “gatekeeper” sites are closed to all indies. No one wants to sort through the trash. I’ve had plenty of it come my way, too. When I was open to reviews, I found several great indies, but it was painful and sometimes awkward sorting out the lesser quality. That’s why I’ve sort of become a crusader for indie quality, lol. But it’s also a learning experience. My early editions make me shudder. While my stories haven’t changed, the editing and presentation have come a long way!

    As for the book you don’t know what to do with…you can kindly point out a good quality or two and encourage them to keep writing–it’s a skill that needs practice. Or if the story is decent but needs to be cleaned up, suggest they hire an editor. They do need to hear that their quality does not measure up to mainstream standards in an encouraging way. I hated doing this, but had to all the time.

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