Natalie Bright

The following list of elements for middle grade novels was a handout from a writing conference. The name or origin of the information is not on the handout, so apologies that I cannot give credit. It’s a helpful list as you are crafting your story for middle grades, defined as a core audience of 8 to 12 year olds or 3rd through 6th grades.


  1. Drama!
  2. Imagination.
  3. Use humor.
  4. Write to the age level.
  5. Make place a character.
  6. Make each word resonate.
  7. Bring history alive.
  8. Mix genres.
  9. Craft prose carefully.
  10. Let joy spill out!

AuthorPreneur: That would be YOU!

AuthorPreneur: That would be YOU!

By Natalie Bright

Entrepreneur: the process of designing, launching and running a new business.

We are familiar with the term entrepreneurs as it relates to the business world. It reminds me of people who are identified as creators, designers, and innovators. As I define them, the person who brings people together to coordinate efforts towards a common outcome. As more and more opportunities are realized for writers to publish their own work, the Indie published Authorpreneur has emerged.

“Do first. Believe second.” SETH GODIN


As it relates to your writing, you are that key person. No one feels more passionately about your book than you. There’s not another person who cares more about your writing career or your readers than you. No one.

I’ve met so many writers with brilliant ideas, but they are afraid to take that first leap. They refuse to write the words that are burning a hole in their soul. “I’ve had this idea for many, many years. I’ll tell you, and you can write it.” NO! YOU write it.

Seriously. I’ve got more than enough ideas in my head, that I’ll never live long enough to write them all. I’ve come to the realization that I may never see them published either.


Authorpreneurs have the power to bring a creative team together.

I have discovered that the entire creative process is fun for me: from the first story spark to imagining the world of my characters, building files of research notes, writing, editing, coordinating photo shoots, designing promo materials, and finding markets. I love bringing together creative minds and realizing the results of our efforts.

Based on my experience, there are some parts of Indie Publishing that don’t appeal to me. What I don’t like is formatting. I don’t like being a book store and filling book orders. I’ve found the good news! In today’s publishing world there are people who I can hire to do the stuff I hate.

There are definitely some snags along the way; every entrepreneur has them. Successful business gurus don’t mind the bumps; they just keep going.


Six years ago, with a leap and a prayer, I pitched my idea for an historical middle grade novel at conferences. It was the scariest thing I’d ever done, but this character would not leave me alone. I wanted a wider audience than I could achieve on my own as a self-pub title. My dream was to see that book at Scholastic book fairs in schools across the country. I wrote a five book series, plus an extensive marketing plan, however that book did not sell to a traditional publishing house through a literary agent.

It’s time to move on to Plan B. I still feel passionate about this character, even after six years. I’m not giving up yet.

The next leap is alone as an Authorpreneur. Back to square one, but not really. I’ve learned so much along the way and I kept writing.

I am reminded of the first day of a creative writing course taught by NYTimes and USA Today bestselling author, Jodi Thomas. That was 13 years ago. She told us,

“A successful writer is willing to do that

which an unsuccessful writer is not willing to do.”

It’s a slight bend in the road and maybe a hill or two…the writing journey continues.



By Natalie Bright


Children’s literature once offered the genres of picture book and everything else. Thankfully today that grey area of choices after pictures is more clearly defined with early readers, chapter books, middle grade, upper middle grade, tween, and young adult.

The new group that emerged with efforts to focus on “tweens”, between childhood and young adults, is the topic of this blog post. You’ve probably noticed that many industries are reaching out to this group, from entertainment to fashion to reading material.

Tweens Defined

Tweens, defined as being between 10-14 years of age, seem to live in two worlds. When I talk to classrooms I’m reminded that they are still children and sometimes very immature. In other instances, I’m shocked at the complexity of the questions they can ask.

It’s a complicated age; that time period between childhood and young adult. I’ve witnessed this with our own boys. Reading a book with chapters was a big deal. Our oldest totally skipped most of the tween offerings and went straight to nonfiction on the topics that held interest for him. Our youngest enjoyed the light, simple plots of chapter books. By the time he was in fourth grade he was reading at a Jr. High level and he wanted stories that were more complex. As a parent, I was cautious about the drug and sex themes covered in the young adult genre, and thankfully there were some in-between novels that held his interest.

Holes, by Louis Sachar

HOLES is the perfect example of a book for tweens, in my opinion. It includes folklore, a mystery, and contemporary issues of a work camp for difficult teenagers, along with a mystery that spans across several generations. It appeals to both girls and boys. I enjoyed the book and the movie equally as well.

Children today are much more sophisticated in their reading choices I think. Of course, there’s always the kids who never read and those who read anything and everything. Several books I would have classified with young adult type themes, seem to have resonated with the younger crowd as well.

Good Story is Everything

As my then 6th grader got into the car after school one day, he asked, “What is team Edward and team Jacob?” Twilight was a hot topic among the tween crowd from many years. My son really wasn’t interested in reading the books at all, but agreed to watch the Pay-per-View with me. “I guess I’ll have to, so I can know what the girls talk about all day.”

Bottom line: a unique, well-written story is a good story, no matter the target age.