Monday, November 9, 2015

Challenges vs. Joys of Writing Middle Grade

A slight change-of-direction with my middle grade post today, but it's still part of Shannon Messenger's MMGM genius plan to give middle grade reads their just due! Click HERE for the other participants.

Please welcome Author Sean Cummings as he explores the challenges and joys of writing middle grade and celebrates the release of his first middle grade novel! 

Challenges vs. Joys of writing middle grade.

Thanks for the visit to your blog! J

I have written for adults and young adults but this is the first time I’ve been published with a book for younger readers. And guess what … TOTALLY EASIER TO WRITE!!

I’m serious.  The rules are all still there for writing a good book. You need to outline. You need to have a plot. You need to have a good story arc. You need to write strong characters the reader will connect with, but here’s the thing: writing a fun and frolicking story filled with eccentric characters came really easily to me because I think the rules are different for kids. I think that as an author, you really want to make children grin from ear to ear and laugh out loud. So for me, this realization just flipped a switch in my bean and the words started falling onto my keyboard and into MS Word.

Of course you need a good editor to help you see the things that you can’t. You need someone to help you reframe or restate explanations and motivations because what makes sense to adults might not make sense in the same way to children.

In writing this book, I seemed to be much more motivated. Sometimes writing about dark and terrifying things tends to drain a bit out of an author and crazy old Grandma Bev along with straight-shooting Penelope, well, they were a breath of fresh air to write about. And as I was plugging away at my keyboard, I realized that I’d tapped into a very entertaining sleuthing duo – intergenerational, light and airy. Of course with a kid’s book, you want the kid’s to be the brains behind the operation. 
Particularly if the other primary character in the book is an elderly person like a grandparent – they would naturally be the authority figure and it would be too easy to let that character dictate the pace of the story.

I was able to overcome this by making Grandma Bev a little bit off her rocker. She’s a health nut. She’s an unapologetic flower child from the 1960’s who refuses to give up her values and in that way, she is eternally young. She’s also a huge conspiracy theorist. So all these aspects of her character make her an excellent second fiddle to the much more worldly and wise Penelope what with her smart phone, tablet and complete understanding of how the Internet can be a sleuth’s strongest ally at times.

They’re a great pairing up and I could easily write a whole series of mysteries featuring the pair. And who knows? Maybe I will. J

Definitely sounds like a plan! Thank you for sharing your wisdom in the Alleyway, Sean! All the best to you...  And Alleywalkers, don't forget to enter for your chance to win a copy of this fabulous MG book! The holidays are coming....
Amazon | B&N | Chapters | Kobo | TBD 
by Sean Cummings

Publisher: Rebelight Publishing
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Genre: Middle Grade/Mystery/Horror
Pages: 104

Description: Hundreds of cats are missing! Fear not-Penelope Ann Pickersgill and her hippie grandma are on the case. While her friends go to cool camps, twelve-year-old Penelope has to spend the summer with Grandma Bev, who is convinced that cat-eating aliens are beaming the town's furry friends aboard their mother ship at night. Lights in the sky point to UFO's, but Penelope is sure there's a more logical explanation. With a little help from Sherlock Holmes, she and Grandma Bev set out to find the cats. Will they be able to solve the mystery before all the cats in Thornhill disappear?

Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Sean Cummings is a mutli-published author with works ranging from urban fantasy (Shade Fright, Funeral Pallor) to dark fantasy and superheroes. (Marshall Conrad) 2012 saw the publication of Sean’s first young adult novel. Poltergeeks is a rollicking story about teen witch a race against time to save her mother’s life. The second book Student Bodies, hit stores in 2013. In 2014, he published The North, a gripping post-apocalyptic thriller for teens. To Catch a Cat Thief is Sean's first middle grade novel.

Sean lives in Saskatoon Canada with his wife, two lazy cats and a spotted dog named Stormageddon. You can learn more about Sean and his books at

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For those of you who write middle grade, what do you think? What about those of you who write both YA & MG?
 photo Sheri2.png


  1. I don't believe writing any type of book is easy. I'd guess Sean found the age group most enjoyable to write for. The pages may be shorter but the time to write, revise, and make sure everything fits is still the same. Anyway, good luck with this new book, Sean. It sounds like a fun, entertaining read.

    1. True that! The writing, revision, and editing time/effort is still the same. For me, writing my MG was both fun and carefree (from a silly youthful standpoint), as well as challenging. I had to let myself regress to 'what that felt like' or better yet 'fall back into full-blown immaturity.' lol

      Thanks for your comment, Greg!

  2. I don't believe writing MG is so easy because getting the voice right can be challenging. But it sounds like Sean can create his characters easily, which is great Congrats to Sean on his new book.

  3. Beam me up, kitty!
    Sounds like a writer has to be willing to let his inner child out.

  4. Love the title.

    Middle grade isn't any easier to write. Sean just found his personal niche and is writing to his strength.

  5. This story sounds delightful--thanks to both of you for the giveaway, and the insights into Sean's writing process! I have to second (third?) what everyone else has said--writing is easier when the writing sings inside the writer and flows out onto the page. The trick, I think, is finding the writer's audience. :D

  6. Writing for kids has always been more difficult for me than writing for adults (probably why I've been published quite a few times in magazines for adults, but not yet for children). But maybe Sean is more in touch with his inner child than I am!

  7. Congrats, Sean! I think writing middle grade would be fun. Your book definitely looks like a blast. Love the cover too!

  8. Sounds like you had a lot of fun writing this. I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy MG, but I have a story idea percolating that I'll try out eventually.

  9. I'm a children's writer, too. I agree - it's a lot of fun writing for kids. You have to put yourself into their mindset. It's almost like being a kid, again. Congratulations on your book!

  10. I usually write YA and recently wrote a MG--you're so right; it was a blast, a lot of fun. I felt really free doing it, although I had to revise my style a bit and not use such complex ways of saying things and "big" vocab. ;o)

  11. Wow, sounds like kids books are a blast to write. Good luck Sean and lovely post guest, Sheri. :)

  12. This book sounds great and I love the title. I have an idea for a children's book that I'm kicking around - haven't written for young readers before so this was inspiring for me to read. Nice to meet you, Sean!

  13. I write both YA and MG. I find MG easier to write because of the lower word count, I'm a middle school teacher (I hear that MG voice every day), and I get to be zanier than with my other stuff. Congrats to Sean.

  14. To really keep us on our game, I think it's good to switch up genres. I haven't written middle grade since June...but before that it had been years. Have to keep the brain limber, eh?

  15. Writing for middle grade has to be easier and more fun than actually being in middle grade. I don't have too many great memories from those years of my life.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  16. Thanks for featuring Sean Cummings, a Canadian writer I haven't heard of! I really like the sounds of this book.

  17. What an awesome cover! I would love to read this book, so thanks for the chance to win a copy. Wishing Sean the best of luck! :)

  18. I love your outlook on writing MG books, Sean! Making it fun and light is perfect. Congrats on your new book. I love that cover!

  19. With cats and a Grandma Bev, this is a must read. Congratulations. I think writing MG books are fun too. Best of luck. From another Grandma Bev. :)


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