Interview on the Books Between Podcast

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 11.16.25 AM.png

Last month, I had the honor of being interviewed for one of my favorite podcasts — Books Between, hosted by the brilliant Corrina Allen, which focuses exclusively on Middle Grade literature and the people writing and reading it. I’ve been a devoted fan of Books Between for a long time now. It is the place to go to learn about all the hotly anticipated upcoming releases and to hear in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers of the MG lit community. To be featured on an episode is a special treat.

You can listen to the episode (and all past episodes of Books Between!) on any device you normally use to listen to your podcasts. You can also find it here. Give it a listen to hear me chat with Corrina about EngiNerds, its sequel, the power of the perfect metaphor, Project Runway (seriously!), the Middle Grade Book Village, the Kid Lit Mentorship Project, what I’m working on now, and more!


Kid Lit Mentorship Project: News & Updates (12/05/17)


It’s been a week since I first posted about the Kid Lit Mentorship Project and the response so far has been fantastic. All the parents, teachers, and librarians I’ve heard from or spoken to about it have been as excited as I am, and the applications I’ve been getting from kids are just incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I was seriously nervous I’d never be able to pick just one kid from among the many who have already applied and will continue applying. Lucky for me, I no longer have to. Instead, I’ll be able to pick FOUR kids — and I’ll have some help picking, too.

That’s right: THREE additional authors have joined the Kid Lit Mentorship Project. And these aren’t just any old authors. These are three of Middle Grade literature’s absolute finest, and every one of them wants to find a young writer to mentor. They are looking to critique that writer’s work, and to offer the advice, guidance, and encouragement needed in order to bring a large-scale project to completion.

But I know you really just want me to hurry up and tell you who these three other authors are. So, without further ado, joining me as mentors for the Kid Lit Mentorship Project are . . .

Jenny Lundquist


Jenny is the author of six novels, most recently The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby, the follow-up to 2016’s The Charming Life of Izzy Malone, which Publisher’s Weekly called “a heartwarming coming-of-age journey [in which] Lundquist deftly portrays the pain of being odd girl out, both at school and at home.”


Jenny was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA, the original “Surf City USA.” She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Intercultural Studies with a minor in TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) at Biola University. Her favorite part of college was spending one semester living in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, where she drank lots of tea, met some really interesting people, and honed her Yahtzee skills. She’s painted an orphanage in Mexico, taught English at a university in Russia, and hopes to one day to kiss her husband at a café in Paris. She lives in northern California with her husband Ryan, their two sons, and Rambo, the world’s whiniest cat.

You can learn more about Jenny online at or follow her on Twitter at @Jenny_Lundquist.

Next up:

Jenn Bishop


Jenn is the author of The Distance to Home, which Booklist praised for its “vivid writing and compassionate touch,” and 14 Hollow Road, a “gorgeous summer tale” (Erin E. Moulton) in which she “nails the tween voice” (Booklist).


Jenn grew up in a small town in Central Massachusetts. A lifelong reader, she was formerly a youth services and teen librarian. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she studied English, and Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Along with her husband and cat, Jenn lives in Cincinnati, where she roots long-distance for the Red Sox.

You can learn more about Jenn online at or follow her on Twitter at @buffalojenn.

And finally:

Brooks Benjamin

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 12.01.33 PM.png

Brooks is the author of My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights, which Booklist called “a fresh and winning debut about the power of self-expression” and Kirkus praised as “an earnest first novel with a solid message about finding out who you are on your own terms.”


In sixth grade, Brooks formed a New Kids on the Block tribute dance crew called the New Kidz. He wasn’t that good at dancing back then. But now he’s got a new crew—his wife and their dog. They live in Tennessee, where he teaches reading and writing and occasionally busts out a few dance moves. He’s still not that good at it.

You can learn more about Brooks online at or follow him on Twitter at @brooksbenjamin.

. . .

Keep those applications coming! I’ve already received a ton of great ones, and am so glad that, thanks to the generosity of the authors above, FOUR young writers will get to take part in this exciting project. You can find the KLMP application here, and can link to it from anywhere on my site using the menu at the top of the page. Questions? Send me a note using the form on my Contact page.

Kid Lit Mentorship Project (K.L.M.P.)

One of my favorite parts of being an author is visiting schools and classrooms, and one of my favorite parts of visiting schools and classrooms is getting to meet so many young writers. I always let teachers and librarians know that I am up for sticking around after my presentation/Q&A in order to host a group workshop or meet one-on-one to critique and discuss kids’ work. It’s so inspiring to meet young people passionate about books and the written word, and if I can do anything at all to help make them better, more confident storytellers and communicators, I want to do so.

The only bad part about all of this is that I never have enough time to really get to know a writer, and so can offer no more than a little bit of assistance and advice. Only so much can get accomplished in a single group workshop, and when I do one-on-one meetings, I have to keep them short so I don’t leave any kids out. I’ve been wondering for a while now how I could go about changing this, how I might figure out a way to work with and help young writers in a more long-term, sustained manner – and I think I’ve finally got it. Announcing:


Starting today, I will accept (very short) applications from young writers between the ages of 9 and 14 to join me on a writing journey. I am looking for a kid who is passionate about writing and who wants to continue to learn and grow as a storyteller. What I am offering is to work closely with this one young writer on a large-scale project – a novel, a memoir, a collection of short stories – and serve in any capacity they see fit. I can remain an advisor/editor, or join them as more of a co-author. And my role can, of course, change as the process moves along. Basically, the kid will make the decisions, not me.

Communication between the young writer and myself can be conducted however they (and their parent(s) and/or teacher(s)) choose. E-mail, phone calls, Skype meetings – any or all of the above. My goal is to help a young writer complete the project they’ve envisioned, and to celebrate the highs and support them through the lows involved in such an undertaking. At the end of the process, I will cover the costs to get a certain number of copies of the book printed and bound so that the young writer can experience the thrill of holding a book they wrote in their hands, and also so that they can share their story or stories with others (online e-book publishing options can also be explored).

I will start accepting applications immediately, and will continue to do so through January 31, 2018. I haven’t set a timeline or mapped out any specific schedule for this project, as that will need to be worked out once a young writer is selected, and all of it will depend on their schedule (as well, of course, as mine). My hope is that any kid interested in submitting an application will have a parent or teacher “sponsor” to help facilitate and schedule contact between myself and their child or student. This sponsor could then remain as actively involved as they deem necessary and appropriate.

Click here to access the application, or link to it in the menu above. Questions can be sent to me through my Contact form (also located in the menu above) or on Twitter (@Jarrett_Lerner).