The Joy of Middle Grade

Hello, my name is Alan. And I’m a bad person.

This is the part where you all say, “Hi, Alan!”

I’m such a bad person that I published a book that is techically…*sigh*…a Young Adult novel!

And that means my book can have moderate amounts of blood, sexual innuendo, and even–

No. No, I can’t say it. It’s just too shameful.

But I must.

–icky swear words!

Oh, it’s so painful just to remember. But I’m better now. I’m on the path to recovery. It’s been three months since I published my last YA novel. And I’m feeling…pretty good, I guess.

Since then, I’ve been keeping busy. I took up Magic: The Gathering, I’ve watched a few movies, coded some new software. I’m still not…back to normal, and I did not picture my recovery being so…hard. But I’m learning how to have a YA novel under my belt. I realize I will always be a YA author, that I will never fully recover. The best I can hope for is to live my life one day at a time.

And I am so grateful for the community’s support. The people here have helped me learn new habits to replace the bad ones. With a little prompting, I’ve even managed to go back to the writing desk.

Supervised, of course! The temptation is always there. And, if I’m being honest, I feel the danger of relapse every time I sit down at the keyboard.

But the people here have shown me a better way. I can live without publishing YA novels! Instead, I’ll do something positive with my time—I’ll write something buoyant and happy that will delight people of all ages.

I’m ready…to write a Middle Grade novel.

A Different Task

It’s no secret that YA has become a bit of a dumpster fire ever since the publication of Twilight.

“You should hate the fact that I sparkle but love the fact that I want to kill you and drink your blood. I’m the king of mixed messages.”

I mean, what else was going to happen after you took the toxicity of an Anne Rice novel and started marketing it to teenage girls? Surely, the dumpster fire did not catch anyone by surprise.

The current expectation is that YA novels need to be drab and angsty, full of heroines living in a world that simply cannot understand them. And the only person who can break through the adolescent anguish is some variety of serial killer who for whatever reason has chosen to fetishize the blank faced, non-personality that serves as the female lead.

Wow, it’s even worse when I say it out loud.

But Middle Grade novels are not like that. Middle Grade novels manage to avoid the pitfall that YA has fallen into, largely because Middle Grade isn’t subject to that one artificial rule that has been shoehorned onto YA in recent years.

Middle Grade novels are allowed to have FUN.

You remember FUN, right? It’s the thing that angsty teen dramas took away from you. I know it’s hazy, but try to recall a time when characters could go out and have a crazy adventure, full of humor, friendship, and and positive heartfelt moments. That’s Middle Grade.

Middle Grade heroes are allowed to enjoy being heroes. YA heroines have to always whine and complain that “I never wanted to be special and important! I wish someone else—anyone else—had been chosen to have captivating beauty, magical powers, a solid and undeniable purpose in life, and the attention of every boy in the world. Oh, woe is me!”

Nobody has to go to a recovery meeting for writing a Middle Grade novel. Middle Grade stories and colorful and quirky, flavorful and fantastic. And they always leave the reader with the sense that the world is a playground full of endless surprise and wonder.

And this is what has driven me to produce my newest book.

Project S2

The one weakness of Middle Grade novels is word count. If I were publishing this traditionally, I would be forced to keep the book under 50,000 words. Publishers typically allow MG novels in the 70,000-word range only for established author.

Well, according to the publisher I own, I am established. Even so, Project S2 will be split into at least three volumes. Each will function as a complete book, while also serving as acts for the main story, much like how J.R.R. Tolkien divvied up The Lord of the Rings. An omnibus version will eventually become available.

Volume 1 should arrive in Fall/Winter 2023. I’m hoping to have Volume 2 ready by summer of 2024.

As for what the books are about, I will leave you only with an image.

Of course, this concept art also gives away the title, if you know what to look for.

You’re in for a fun ride. Coming this year.

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