May Mid-Grade Madness Wrap Up

Congratulations and an enormous round of applause to all of you who did the May Mid-Grade Madness!


No matter your word count, you should be proud that you took on the challenge. You are amazing!

I was hoping to report my mid-grade victory, but unfortunately I won’t be doing that. As fellow writers, we share much of the triumphs and struggles encountered in pursuing our craft. Those of you whom I just applauded had a triumph last month. I, on the other hand, had my own struggle and stepped away from the keyboard to attend to what matters most – my husband and children. My daughter’s horse had to be euthanized after emergency surgery on the 18th. It was a devastating loss that left her heart broken and us mourning a precious member of our family. He was more than a pet – he was her best friend, partner and teammate. My only focus was getting my family through a difficult time.

I know that I am not alone in this struggle. You all have family, friends, school and jobs that are priorities. It’s a constant juggling act – one we gladly do. Because while writing is our passion, it would ring hollow without that which makes life worth writing about. That’s why I’m sharing this with you. We often garner advice about how to set aside time for our craft and achieve goals as we navigate our lives. Sometimes, though, life happens and we have to set aside our writing, if only for a moment. The important thing is to return and hopefully infuse our experiences into our writing, making it more human. And the more human our writing, the better.

Now let’s celebrate your accomplishment! Comment below and tell us how you did diving into middle grade waters. Did you discover ย a home in a new genre? Start a new novel that you’re in love with? Invigorate your writing and get totally inspired? Whatever it is, we want to hear about it. Don’t be shy and don’t worry if you didn’t hit the word count. What matters is that you went for it!

Have a great week!

About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isnโ€™t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughtersโ€™ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
This entry was posted in May Midgrade Madness, Writing & Drawing Exercises. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to May Mid-Grade Madness Wrap Up

  1. So sorry for your loss, Susan. Congrats on doing such a good job with the blog. I look forward to your postings.

  2. Carleen Tjader says:

    I am sorry for your daughter and family. I do appreciate you writing about this–as family and life do enter in to our writing. It was reassuring to hear “real” writers struggle with this as well.
    Thank you.

    • susanmannix says:

      Thank you, Carleen. I was hoping those reading this got exactly that. Oh, and thank you for calling me a real writer! Wow! Wish I had one of our trademark goodie baskets to give you for that lovely compliment!

  3. Congratulations participants! Thank you for sharing, Susan. As a horse owner myself, I know how devastating losing a horse can be. Your priorities were in the right place. As for progress on the Mid-Grade Madness, I knew when it was announced that there was no way I could participate this year. Yes, sometimes we know when to say when. Thank you for the reminder, and my heartfelt condolences to your daughter.

    • susanmannix says:

      Thank you, Valerie. I actually thought of you as I was writing this, knowing your love for and bond with these animals. And thank you for coming here and cheering on those who did the challenge. That’s what a community of writers and artists is for!

  4. Miranda McClain says:

    Susan, I am so sorry to hear about your families loss.
    I didn’t quite accomplish the 16,500 words but I did reach 10,000. It was the most I’ve ever written, this is my first novel coming from writing picture books and poetry, and I felt I accomplished a lot. It was a great weekend. I could have probably done more but I also took time to spend with the kids who were having a hard time giving me up for 3 whole days. I now have the momentum I need to finish my very first novel! Wahoo!

    • susanmannix says:

      Thank you, Miranda. And now: Yaaaaaay for you! This comment literally had me clapping! I am so proud of you and thrilled to hear that you have embarked on and will finish your very first novel! This is what MMM is all about – exploring and honing your craft. Well done! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Congratulations again, Miranda!! 10,000 in three days is totally awesome. I’m so proud of you, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • WooHoo!!!

      The most you’ve ever written! I’d say that’s a win and a half! Yay for you, pushing yourself past your previous limits… And an extra-big Hooray! for choosing your family first. You just proved to yourself that you can be a serious writer without neglecting the things that matter most to you. That deserves a huge celebration! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Doris Gallagher says:

    I have never attempted to write a novel, but the MMM Challenge inspired me to consider it. I spent most of May thinking and planning, hoping that I might be able to set aside three days at the end of the month to write. That didn’t happen, but I did get started – yay! I’m looking forward to working on this as a summer project. I wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t planted the seed, so thanks for the challenge and the encouragement!

    Susan, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    • susanmannix says:

      Another hand clapper! Congratulations Doris on starting your first novel! Like I said to Miranda above – this is what the MMM was all about when we started it last year. This was the brainchild of my lovely co-blogger Laura Bowers and I know that she will be thrilled that you are using it to pursue writing your first novel!

      And thank you Doris, for your condolences.

    • Laura Bowers says:

      Woo-HOO, Doris Gallagher rocks!! Seriously, this does my heart good, knowing that Susan and I have inspired you. ๐Ÿ™‚ Best of luck with your summer project – let us know if you need any tips and be sure to also let us know when you finish so we can give you another Woo-HOO!

    • Yay!! Taking a leap into uncharted territory is scary, but you’re doing it! Keep going! I can’t wait to hear about it when you finish! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Laura Bowers says:

    Again, Susan, my deepest condolences to you and your family. My heart breaks for your loss and I hope your gorgeous daughter is doing okay.

    As for my MMM report … yeah, it’s not as good as last year’s. I managed to puke out 8,005 words before my time was up … and let me tell you, every one of them were painful. I just wasn’t “feeling” the story. I mean, it’s fun and maybe I’ll tackle it later this year, (after some extensive plotting – writing a mystery without an outline was NOT working out,) but in the back of my mind, I wanted to be rewriting a different manuscript, the one from last year’s MMM. I was also working on a 15 page response to my agent’s note at the same time, which again, was not working out. ๐Ÿ™‚

    But hey, I’m happy with my 8,005 words. Well … that’s kind of a lie – I’m still mentally beating myself up over not hitting 16,500, but perhaps it’s time to let it go since there’s always next year!

    Congrats again to all who have taken the MMM Challenge! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Don’t beat yourself up! 8,005 words is great for 3 days ๐Ÿ™‚ – Besides, you learned that you’re really in love with the one you wrote last year, and that’s a win right there, isn’t it? Any time a challenge pushes you to move forward, even if it’s in a direction you weren’t expecting, I call it a win! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Susan, I’m so sorry for your loss. You definitely made the right choice. Good for you, keeping your priorities straight!

    This year, I really had fun with the challenge. When we were moving here to New Mexico, I found the story I wrote for the Young Author’s contest when I was in 2nd grade (the one that won 1st place at the state level), & read it to my kids for a laugh… They all agreed that the basic story was a good one (2 children who go on a treasure hunt in a magic castle and discover their long-lost grandfather in the process), even though it was awfully hokey and very obviously written by a 2nd grader ๐Ÿ™‚ – So I made it my challenge this time around to take that 2-page 2nd grade story and turn it into something that my 3rd-grade daughter would want to pull off the library shelves. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Remembering that my biggest issue in completing the challenge last year was the fact that I couldn’t get my official word count until I typed up my handwritten draft, I pushed myself to write the first draft within the first 48 hours of the challenge this time around. (I almost made it… I finished writing the story by hour 49.) I still didn’t get the full draft typed up by the end of the 72 hours, but I came closer this year. By the time I hit the deadline, I’d typed up a little over 14K, revising as I went along (my finished word count was 16,662 when I finally finished typing it up). I know I could have made it within the 72 hours this time around (it only took a couple of hours past the deadline to type up the last 2,000 words), but my best friend here in MD is working through some revisions for her upcoming book, and with publisher deadlines approaching, she was feeling overwhelmed and a little bit crazy. She needed a friend to talk through ideas with, and I felt it was more important to put aside my self-imposed deadline to help her achieve her very real deadline instead.

    I’d hoped to hit the 20K mark for “Diva Rock Star” status, but instead, I have a 16K 2nd draft, and I’m pretty pleased with myself. 75 hours, start to finish, isn’t half bad for a first draft, plus first pass revisions. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • susanmannix says:

      Thank you so much, Veronica.

      Good for you! So cool that you took that story from second grade and got a novel from it! And well done on the word count. I know you were hoping for 20K, but 16K is nothing to sneeze at and it’s close to the MMM count. What’s 500 words among friends?

  8. Lona Queen says:

    Love, peace, and comfort to you and your family, Susan.

    Congrats to all who undertook the challenge!

    I had a manuscript that I put aside (actually, for last year’s MMM) that I wanted to finish the rough draft of. I wrote 16,855 additional words, but it wasn’t flowing, and I ended up skipping around a lot, just getting the basics of certain scenes down to make the word count, and I almost quit a number of times.

    I had a blast doing MMM last year, but struggled with it this year. The difference was that I only got to spend one of the days (my best, and most pleasant writing day), with a friend. Though last year, time was used in traveling to a coffee house, and chatting with my friends more than we probably should have (I didn’t make it to the 20K last year), I wrote more words, was more motivated during the challenge, more enthusiastic about my story when done, and had a lot more fun. Most of the time, writing is a solitary endeavor for me, but some things are best when shared, and I found that trying to do a challenge is that way for me. I will remember that next year. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • susanmannix says:

      Thanks so much, Lona.

      The best laid plans….Sorry you couldn’t enjoy the challenge with you friends. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But, I am proud of you for toughing it through and getting some writing done, even if the word count wasn’t as high as you anticipated. I still see this as a huge success – so often we have to write when we just don’t feel like it. Now you know you can push through that wall. Maybe you won’t be as initially pleased, but after a few revisions you may just find that first hard fought draft was truly a diamond in the rough! Super kudos to you, Lona! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Lona Queen says:

        Thanks, Susan. It is always good to learn new things about oneself and what works best, and all of my friends had very good reasons for why it didn’t work out this year.

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