May 27, 2022 • 51M

How Writing Middle Grade is Different, and How It's Not: Episode 317 with Jamie Sumner

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Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.

I don’t think we’ve ever talked about middle grade on #AmWriting, which was why I was so delighted to talk to Jamie Sumner, author of Roll With It, One Kid’s Trash, Tune It Out and the forthcoming, literally any day now The Summer of June, which you should order for your kid’s beach bag right now. (And if you happen to be in Nashville, scroll down for a link to an event next week.)

Jamie and KJ talk about the mechanics of writing and pitching middle grade fiction, touch on the horrors of your first edit letter (and what you absolutely must not do when you get it) and then dive deep into what really makes this genre and its readers special—and it’s not what you think. Hard topics with hope, depth that’s distractible, and the limits of characters with temporarily limited agency who are all about finding ways to control their own destiny—but who, by the end of the book, are probably physically in much the same place as where they began. That means the endings are necessarily open-ended—which young readers apparently love.

Links from the pod

KJ’s thing in Tiffany’s blog

Jason Reynolds

The Bridge Home, Padma Venkatraman


Jamie: The Christie Affair, Nina De Gramont

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket

KJ: Poison for Breakfast, Lemony Snicket

Twitter: jamiesumner_

IG: jamiesumner_author

If you’re listening in real time and in Nashville, join Jamie on Saturday, June 4 at Parnassus Bookstore to launch The Summer of June with readings, free plants and lots of book love. Find out more here.

Or pre-order a signed copies of The Summer of June through Parnassus Books HERE.

COMING JULY 1: It’s the #AmWriting Blueprint for a Book Challenge! 10 episodes, 10 guests, 10 weeks to you being ready to write your best novel, memoir or non-fiction book this fall. There will be homework. There will be deadlines. Complete all 10 weeks, and you could win a critique of that Blueprint from KJ or Jennie Nash—but you’ll already be a winner, because you’ll have a plan that will put you way ahead of the game. Play for free—or reserve an Author Accelerator critique for your finished product to hold your feet to the fire and make sure you do the work and get bonus episodes and write-alongs. Want details? Ready to sign up? CLICK HERE.

PS: Along those lines, Author Accelerator has opened registration for the 2022 Manuscript Incubator, an intensive, 7 month coaching opportunity that offers one-one-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to