Cynsational News, Links & Return

Welcome back to Cynsations! The blog will be posted on a building schedule as we slide into fall. If y’all could spread the word that it’s steadily reemerging, I’d appreciate it!

At the moment, interview questions are out to the first round of to-be-featured publishing pros.

If you had a pending interview from last spring, please feel free to turn in your answers at any time. Thanks!

Thanks also to everyone at SCBWI Nationals for your hospitality during the recent 36th annual summer conference in Los Angeles! As promised, links related to my two presentations on the Internet and children’s-YA writing have been posted to Spookycyn.

The Hero’s Journey: A Full Day Writing Workshop with author Dr. Lila Guzman is scheduled for Oct. 20 at Wild Basin Reserve in Austin. See details at Austin SCBWI. Read a Cynsations interview with Lila.

Children’s Authors and Illustrators Meomi (Vicki Wong and Michael Murphy): official site for the Octonauts picture books features bibliography, links and other octogoodies. Meomi’s books include Octonauts and the Only Lonely Monster (Immedium, 2006) and The Octonauts and the Sea of Shade (Immedium, 2007). Site features info on the book, characters, and octogoodies.

Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market E-Newsletter: “sign up to receive a free monthly newsletter featuring news, tips, market information, Q&A and more straight from CWIM to your inbox.” Source: Anastasia Suen.

Diane Gonzales Bertrand‘s bilingual novel The Ruiz Street Kids/Los muchachos de la calle Ruiz recently won two awards in the best bilingual children’s book category – 2007 Skipping Stones Award and an International Latino Book Award. Read a Cynsations interview with Diane.

Rachelle Burk teaches an adult education course in Writing for Children in East Brunswick, New Jersey; and is published author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for children (see website for list). She minored in creative writing and has years of experience critiquing manuscripts, many which have subsequently been published. She is a writing mentor for an annual Teen Arts event, critiquing manuscripts for high school writers. Rachelle offers critiques of picture books, chapter books, articles, and poetry for children. She will point out your strengths and weaknesses, and provide feedback on plot, pace, voice, dialogue, character development, style, and structure. When needed and/or requested, writers will receive line-editing such as word choice, and suggestions on where to cut. Manuscripts are accepted by email. Fees start at $25 for a 5 page manuscript. For complete fee information, log onto and click on Critique Services, or email at

In the Coop with Dori Chaconas from Three Silly Chicks. Here’s a sneak peek: “For me, humor is magnified when it takes place in a non-humorous situation. If every line in a story is a funny one, the whole thing feels diluted because the funny lines compete against each other. But if you can have a handful of funny lines or situations scattered throughout a story that has some serious or soft tones, the humor stands out like a giggle during a stuffy speech.”

Watch this video from the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund and Ethiopia Reads. It features the Mesgana dancers, an Ethiopian dance troupe. In conjunction with Ethiopia Reads and COEEF, the concert helps to raise funds to promote literacy and cultural growth in Ethiopia. They are currently on tour across America. Read a related interview with author Jane Kurtz.

Sara Miller: new official site of the author of Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller (Simon & Schuster, 2007)(excerpt). Notable pages include Writing Process and Publishing.

The ABC’s and XYZ’s of Publishing: sponsored by the North Central/Northeast Texas Chapter of SCBWI Oct. 13 in Arlington, Texas. Faculty includes: Bonnie Bader, editorial director at Grosset, Dunlap and Price Sloan; associate art director Laurent Linn of Henry Holt; screenwriter David Rosenberg; illustrator Chris Schechner, art director for Pockets; and agent Debbie Carter.

Teen fiction writer and avid reader Cheryl Rainfield writes about teen and children’s books on her new blog, offers resources for book lovers, and reviews of children’s and teen fiction. She’s also started a monthly Pay-It-Forward book giveaway.

Single Novel Plotting Template from PBW Stories: Paperback Writer’s Fiction Blog. Source: Getting There from Here by Jan Fields from the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Young Adult Author Melissa Walker: official author site features biography, blog, articles, interviews, links, etc. Walker’s books include Violet on the Runway (Berkley JAM, 2007), Violet by Design (Berkley JAM, 2008) and Violet in Private (Berkley JAM, 2008).

An Interview with Jo Whittemore from Debbi Michiko Florence. Here’s a sneak peek: “When it comes to writing a trilogy, the challenge comes in bringing something new and fresh to each story. New scenarios must be posed and new characters must present themselves. But that’s also the fun part of a trilogy! Another challenge is maintaining a certain consistency with the major characters I’m carrying through from the previous books. The characters must develop, to be sure, but they can’t develop too much or too differently than what the reader is used to. For example, I can make a cowardly character a little braver by the second book, but I can’t have him busting down doors and picking fights. It would be too incongruous.” Read also a Cynsations interview with Jo.

More Personally

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #34: The Kidlitosphere’s Sweetheart, Cynthia Leitich Smith. A new online interview! I’m honored!

In August, I received the good news that the trade edition of Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000), has gone into another printing. Thanks to all for your support!

Attention Kansans! I look forward to speaking at the Kansas Book Festival Oct. 5-6 in Wichita (schedule TBA). Featured authors also will include J.B. Cheaney (author interview), L.D. Harkrader (author interview), Kimberly Willis Holt (author interview), Dian Curtis Regan (author interview), and Greg Leitich Smith. See the complete list.

Austin-area readers, mark your calendars! I’ll be speaking and signing at the Hastings Books, Music, and Video in Round Rock (2200 S. I-35) at 6 p.m. Aug. 18. In addition, I’ll visit the University Hills branch of the Austin Public Library from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 23.

My spring YA Gothic fantasy release, Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007), was listed in the Austin American-Statesman as a top 10 best seller at BookPeople.

The Voice of Youth Advocates called Tantalize “[e]ntertaining, intriguing, and original.”

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books cheered, “[Readers] will be well rewarded with an impeccably paced suspense story, a sexy romance, and a tough and witty heroine.”

And The Bloomsbury Review announced, “Cynthia Leitich Smith is the Anne Rice for teen readers. . . . Smith has a vivid imagination, and her intricate plot keeps readers guessing until the very end.”