Happy New Year! As you can see, we’re celebrating in style with a new name and a new look. Why the change? Although we had a lot of fun with the Mafia theme over the past few years – it does have a certain “negative” connotation. Since we’re all about encouragement here at MGM, we thought it was time for a glam-up. Who is ready for a fresh shot of Middle-Grade Mojo??

We’re excited to bring you lots of great content this year such as book recommendations, writing tips, interviews, even real-life day-to-day writing successes, and struggles. You won’t want to miss any of it, so if you haven’t already subscribed, please do!

Our hope for 2020 is that our readers will find time for MO reading and MO writing, so with that, here’s some MO encouragement. The MOJO crew has put together the best writing advice they’ve ever received. We hope you enjoy it.

The Best Writing Advice

Sherry Ellis – The best writing advice I ever got was to join a critique group. It’s very helpful to have several sets of eyes look at your work and give you ideas on how to make it better. Plus it’s nice to do something social since writing is such a solitary occupation.

Kim Zachman –  One of my favorite writing books is Stephen King’s “On Writing.”  He tells of some great writing advice he got from John Gould, his first newspaper editor. Gould told King, “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

I had a terrible habit of rewriting and editing as I went, trying to make the manuscript good from the beginning. I could never get to the end because I kept revising. Thinking of the first draft as me telling myself the story, and no one else would see that version, freed me to finally finish a first draft. It also helped me to realize that not everything was necessary to the reader’s understanding of the story. King’s formula for revision: “Second draft equals first draft minus ten percent.”


Alison Hertz – For writing- The best advice I received was from a How to Add Humor to Your Writing seminar at a writing conference. The brilliant speaker suggested that we use Teen Bop type magazines to understand what MG readers think is funny. Honestly, I don’t think a lot of the “hilarious” posts of funny things that happen to TV stars are funny at all, but I’m not the target audience.


For illustration, the best advice that I have received was from an art director who told me to get my art out there, everywhere that I can. Post on social media, get a job as a window artist, create logos, paint canvases, paint anything and everything and post it everywhere.
L.S. Bridgers – The best writing advice I ever got comes from Neil Gaiman’s Instructions. Part fairy tale, part life instruction manual, this picture book is a MUST READ for children and writers alike! 

Here is the advice:
Trust ghosts.
Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams
Trust your heart and trust your story.


Debbie D’aurelio – The best advice I received was from Lin Oliver who said if you want to be a successful writer you have to put your butt in a seat. In other words, spend a lot of time on your craft and write as much as possible and you will succeed.


Kevin Springer – I love getting writing advice! What really has resonated with me is that everything that happens in the story matters. Every word your character says and reaction your characters has comes from a lifetime of experiences. You created the character, so create their life. This will give depth to your story and reason for what they do.


Lisa Lewis Tyre – Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was from Heywood Smith. I was attending a conference on writing and sat in on her session. She said that writing is a job and you have to treat it as such. Up until then, I saw writing as a hobby, something to fit in between my real jobs. It was clear after hearing her speak that if I really wanted to make it, I needed to apply the same work ethic, day in and day out, to writing as I was to my actual, paying job. I finished my manuscript and methodically sought an agent. I didn’t just send a few queries, I approached it the way I did my employment – by putting in lots of hours. That one piece of advice is why I’m now published and working on book three!


From all of us at MGMojo – Cheers! Here’s to a great 2020.