Monday, April 25, 2011

That's Amore!

Good old Dino!

Grazie, everyone! Thanks for the love last week. My little chat with Don Vito garnered quite an audience (I saw youse all hiding among the green pole beans!) The Don invited me to lunch today--eggplant parmigiana--to see how my little project's going. Here's a snippet of our conversation. (O yeah, he served a mean Chianti too!)

Don Vito: "Michael, Michele, as we say in the old country. You get any of those blogtypes interested in your mafioso blog?"

Michele: "Yes, sir. I even got 14 followers."

Don Vito: "Fourteen? That's about as many guys I got 'round my house. You want me to have my boys go out and muscle you some more?"

Michele: "Actually, sir--"

Don Vito: "Enough with the sir, already. You call me godfather, capice?"

Michele: "Yes, sir, I mean godfather. Thanks for the offer of help. But, you see, we're all middle grade writers and..."

Don Vito: "Michele, Michele. You're not middle anything. You're top grade. Top grade, you hear me? Anybody else call you this middle thing, and I bust some knee caps. Okay?"

Well, as you can see, the Don doesn't yet know publishing. But he does seem to love me. I tactfully told him about some of my plans. You know, review some middle "top" grade books, feature some middle "top" grade authors, both pubbed and unpubbed, even perhaps have a monthly book group, where we get people to read the same book and then chat about it. (The Don's comment: "You be sure to get those Kill Zone people there too. They good people.)

His last bit of advice: "Get names, Michele. But not on the telephone, understand? Easy to bug a telephone. Have them come over here, to lunch. We give 'em saltimbocca. A nice Valpolicella. Nothing but the best for your top grade friends."

He was pretty wary about e-mail--"could be bugged too,"--but I persuaded him we couldn't all fly across the country to his estate in New York. So, if you want to write for this blog, be featured on this blog, or help run a book group on this blog, e-mail me at Let me know the Godfather sent you.

As Don Vito said, as he waved me goodbye, "you good famiglia." I'd love for you to become one of our Top-grade, Middle Grade Mafiosi.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Okay, you tell me when you open for business. Capice?

So there I was being all proper on my main blog, The Year of Writing Dangerously, when I got wind of a firestorm, a brouhaha, an imbroglio even, going on in the blogosphere about something called the YA Mafia. You can get a good history lesson about the fracas here.

Seems as if there's the suspected "in-crowd" who eat virtual sushi and quaff virtual mimosas together--and then there's everyone else.

Well, hey. Just because middle grade's seen as the younger (less desirable?) sister of YA, doesn't mean we can't have a mafia too. Or so it went, through my brain. Which doesn't always deign to show up, I can tell you.

So I called dibs on the blog name. And whadda ya know, it popped up in my profile. And now I even have a follower.

Time to get serious, folks.

I spoke to old Don Vito Corleone @ mafia central. He said it would be a good idea for me to come up with some ideas about what to do with this blog. These were his exact words:

The Don, during our interview
"You know, Michael. Good name, by the way. One of my sons is Michael. You come over here so I can pinch your cheek. What, ya didn't shave? A man's always gotta shave. Look good. Dress nice. I don't care if those blog-types can't see you. You wanna tomato from my garden?"

You don't give the old man any lip. I told him that this blog would be open to all middle grade writers, unpublished or published, didn't matter. I'd kinda like to have the sort of organization they have on The Kill Zone (Corleone loved that name!), where each member of the team blogs on a specific day. Share the middle grade love, so to speak.

"Okay, Michael," he said. "You get down to business. Just make sure these are people you can trust. You know, once you open things up outside the famiglia..."

He bit into his tomato.

I told him I hoped to be up and running by May.

"Good month," he said.

So, if you're a middle grade writer in any shape or form, and would like to hang out, shoot me a line. Let's see if we can't start a firestorm of our own. Spread the word!