Wrangling with Writing: Web Extension

I had the pleasure of speaking at “Wrangling with Writing,” a conference sponsored by the Society of Southwestern Authors Sept. 15 to Sept. 16 in Tucson. I would like to thank the SSA officers and planning committee. Special thanks to Jennifer J. Stewart, author of “seriously funny books for children,” for her hospitality and efforts. Read a Cynsations interview with Jennifer.

Fellow faculty member, Janni Lee Simner, spoke on young adult fantasy. Janni’s first YA fantasy will be published by Random House in spring 2009. Her fourth children’s book, Secret of the Three Treasures, was recently published by Holiday House.

Her editor, Jim Thomas, offered an overview presentation on children’s publishing. Jim is editorial director of middle grade and YA books at Random House.

Because of conflicting schedules, I was unable to attend Janni and Jim’s presentations. However, I did sit in on Sarah Ketchersid’s. Sarah is a senior editor at Candlewick Press, and she delivered one of the most informative and inspiring presentations I’ve ever heard on picture books.

As promised, the bibliographies and resource lists that follow are Web extensions (and cheat sheets) for audiences at my two talks, “Imagining the Middle Grades” and “Marketing Manuscripts to Agents and Editors.”

Imagining the Middle Grades

Author Cynthia Leitich Smith

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000)(interior illustration).

Rain Is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith (HarperCollins, 2001)(Web extension)(readers’ guide).

Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith (HarperCollins, 2002)(readers’ theater).

Santa Knows by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman (Dutton, 2006)(book site).

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007)(readers’ guide).

favorite books from childhood

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

craft building

Author Kathi Appelt

Author Debbi Michiko Florence

Author Jane Kurtz

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

Arizona Chapter of SCBWI

Fiction First Aid: Instant Remedies for Novels, Stories, and Scripts by Raymond Obstfeld

The Giblin Guide to Writing Children’s Books by James Cross Giblin

Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver

Make Your Words Work by Gary Provost

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King with illustrations by George Booth

What’s Your Story: A Young Person’s Guide to Writing Fiction by Marion Dane Bauer

heart books

Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland

The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear by Ralph Keyes

Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner

Take Joy: A Book for Writers by Jane Yolen


Cynthia Leitich Smith Children’s and Young Adult Literature Resources


Planet Esme; The PlanetEsme Plan

genre reading

Bringing Mysteries Alive for Children and Young Adults by Jeanette Larson

Genrefluent (see also guide books)

writing process

Jennifer Armstrong‘s “Blood from a Stone;” Nancy Werlin and Jane Yolen‘s responses.

Conflict and Character within Story Structure from the Everyday People’s Guide on How to Write a Novel

middle grade fiction

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

Dancing in the Streets of Brooklyn by April Lurie (author interview)

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Jacob I Have Loved by Katherine Paterson

Julia’s Kitchen by Brenda A. Ferber (author interview)

Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee (author interview)

P.S. Longer Letter Later: A Novel in Letters by Paula Danzinger and Ann M. Martin

Rules by Cynthia Lord (author interview)

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach (author interview)

Shug by Jenny Han (recommendation)

The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed
by Heather Vogel Frederick

boy versus girl books?

Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith (author interview)

Brothers, Boyfriends, and Other Criminal Minds by April Lurie (author interview)

multicultural books

Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos (author interview)

Hannah West series by Linda Johns (recommendation)

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (author interview)

note: attendees seeking a copy of the humor-writing points may contact me directly.

Marketing Manuscripts to Agents and Editors

ABCS of an Author/Illustrator Visit by Sharron McElmeel

An Author’s Guide to Children’s Book Promotion by Susan Salzman Raab

The Association of Authors’ Representatives; see FAQ

Attorney Interview: Aimee Bissonette on Law & Publishing from Cynsations

Author & Illustrator Visits by Toni Buzzeo

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold Underdown (author interview)

Editorial Anonymous: a blog of a children’s book editor.

How to Write a Query from Agent Query.

It’s a Bunny-Eat-Bunny World: A Writer’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Competitive Children’s Book Market by Olga Litowinsky

Literary Agents Directory at

The Purple Crayon: A Children’s Book Editor’s Site, especially The How-Do-I-Get-Published Quiz, Children’s Book Agents and Artists’ Representatives: A Primer, Finding and Choosing Literary Agents, and Publishing Glossary.

Some Writers Deserve to Starve! 21 Brutal Truths about the Publishing Industry by Elaura Niles

A Terrific Query Letter by Jenny Bent, literary agent.

Why I Don’t Have an Agent or Doing the Math by author Barbara Kanninen.

Why I Have an Agent by author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.

Writer Beware by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

See also the related links on my main site.