Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win an autographed copy of A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg (Delacorte, 2008)!

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST July 28! Please also type “A Thousand Never Evers” in the subject line. Read Shana’s blog and a Cynsations interview with Shana. Visit Shana at MySpace!

Note: several additional Cynsations giveaways are ongoing! Scroll to check the rest (listed below).

More News & Links

Montpelier miracle: Novelist and Worcester native Thomas Greene creates a new college, Vermont College of Fine Arts by Pamela H. Sacks from the Worchester Telegram. Peek: Thomas Greene said: “What we had on our side was a strong mission and a strong vision. People got really jazzed and fired up about it. That vision provided our compass.” Note: I teach in the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program at VCFA.

Author and alumnae Helen Hemphill’s VCFA residency report from Through the Tollbooth! Peek: “What was the most important thing I learned over the weekend? Beyond the complexities of plotting and character motivation (which I’m sure the Tollbooth will discuss in the coming weeks), it was the reminder that my work is to create meaning.” Read a Cynsations interview with Helen. See also More From the Rez by Tami Lewis Brown.

Check out the third edition of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold Underdown (Alpha, May 2008)! In a blurb, which appears on the back of the book, I wrote: “My life would’ve been much easier if The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books had been available when I was getting started! It covers the whole territory–though I particularly like the sections on revision and ‘the publishing maze.’ Consider it your cheat-sheet to the world of children’s publishing.” Read a Cynsations interview with Harold.

Teen Writer Resources
: a collection of links from author Lesa Boutin.

Recommended Resources: KidLit Industry News from the Class of 2k8. This week, the class recommends “favorite Internet sites for everything from writing tips to industry news.” Thanks to Brooke Taylor for recommending Cynsations! Read an interview with Marissa Doyle and Jody Feldman about the Class of 2k8.

Titles: Another Writer Mistake? by Agent Kristin at Pub Rants. Peek: “Avoid the pithy title with the long, rambling subtitle. I cannot tell you how often I see this.” Note: Title length is a valid consideration. After having to type Rain Is Not My Indian Name (and having it usually misread/written as Rain Is Not My Middle Name and referred to simply as “Rain”) countless times, I’ve resolved to go with shorter titles: Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002), Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006), Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). But if you have a long title, please don’t panic! It certainly didn’t hurt M. T. Anderson‘s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party (Candlewick, 2006) or Rick Riordan‘s The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book One)(Hyperion, 2005).

Author Interview – Daphne Grab from Melissa at Estella’s Revenge. Peek: “I grew up in a small town that suddenly had an influx of NYC tourists when I was a teen. It was such a funny thing to see these people all spiffed up in city clothes that would just get muddy if they took a walk in the woods. But now I see myself being ‘city’ when I go back to my hometown, so at some point it occurred to me that it would be a fun issue to write about.” Source: the Class of 2k8.

The July 7 issue of Time magazine included this tidbit: “we are in the middle of a baby boomlet; the 4.3 million babies born in 2006 were the most since 1961” (p. 36). Note: gear up, picture book writers!

Unhappily Ever After: Remember when children’s books frolicked through tales of ponies and princes? The latest kid-lit craze is stories about living through the apocalypse—now by Karen Springen from Newsweek. Peek: “Kids’ post-apocalyptic books aren’t all doom and gloom. They typically feature smart, courageous children who figure out answers to problems with scant adult help, and they tend to end on a positive, if not happy, note.” Source: Susan Beth Pfeffer.

Local teens film and post book trailers on the Internet by Linda Quinlan, staff writer of the Irondequoit Post in Rochester, New York. Peek: “The teens discuss what scene or scenes they want to recreate from the books, then head to a location–usually close to the library on Cooper Road — to film. For ‘Missing Abby [by Lee Weatherly(David Fickling/Random House, 2004)],’ they illustrated Abby’s disappearance, which was detailed in a police report in the book. Using their editing skills, the teens made the actress vanish from a bus stop on Cooper Road.” Source: Alex Flinn, whose novel Beastly (HarperCollins, 2007) also is featured.

Bonus Scenes from Jay Asher at Disco Mermaids. Peek: “Once I recorded…I mean, wrote…Hannah’s words, and conveyed Clay’s reactions [in Thirteen Reasons Why (Razorbill, 2007)], my contribution to the story was finished. Whatever happens outside of those 288 printed pages (or 5 compact discs) is entirely up to each reader. But I won’t disagree with the following two-part student project. In fact, I absolutely love their ideas…as well as how they’re presented.” Read a Cynsations interview with Jay.

The Candy Heart Contest: debut YA author David Macinnis Gill at I Am Chikin, Hear Me Roar is hosting a contest to win an advanced reader copy of Soul Enchilada (Greenwillow, 2009)! Deadline: July 31!

Take a peek at Man in the Moon by Dotti Enderle (Delacorte, 2008), “a novel about the magic that lives in all of us.” Read a Cynsations interview with Dotti.

How I create digital book trailers by Naomi Bates at YA Books and More: Reviews and digital media of current young adult books and more. Peek: “Okay, let’s strap into our seats and begin this amazing ride!”

Drawing from eco-riches: Australia’s environment in children’s books by Chris Cheng from papertigers. Peek: “Australia is an island continent: the largest island and the smallest continent. …let me just say for now that our landscape includes coastal sand dunes; pristine rain forest; one of the most glorious, teeming-with-wildlife national parks in the world; and sometimes snow-covered alpine regions and deserts.”

Jane Brocket’s top 10 food scenes in children’s literature from The Guardian. Peek: “Children’s literature contains a feast, a banquet, a menu gastronomique of treats and delicious foodstuff; this is my top 10 evocative, mouth-watering and memorable food moments from the past.”

Attention Austinites: “Create Your Own Future with Goals and Time Management” with P. J. Hoover from Austin SCBWI will be on July 19 at Barnes and Noble Westlake. P.J. is the debut author of The Emerald Tablet (Blooming Tree, Oct. 2008). The Emerald Tablet is the first book in her middle grade science-fiction trilogy, The Forgotten Worlds Books. Note: see you there!

An Open Letter to the Youth of America (and also probably elsewhere) from YA author John Green at John Green’s Weblog. John wants to know: “Why do you want to be famous? Can you explain it to me?” Read a Cynsations interview with John.

Working with an Agent (I Think) from Bookends, LCC – A Literary Agency. Peek: “…did this agent offer representation somewhere along the way and the author forgot?”

How To Critique A Beginning Writer’s Weak Manuscript by Rick Walton at Big Universe. Peek: “I could be brutally honest, but I’m not Simon Cowell. Besides, I don’t believe in brutal honesty. For several reasons…” See also Rick on Celebrity Books.

Warning: Almost Sold Out! Austin SCBWI‘s “A Day with an Editor” featuring Jill Santopolo, author and senior editor at Laura Geringer/HarperCollins, and author Cynthia Leitich Smith will be Sept. 13. Jill is interested in literary novels, quirky middle grades, and picture books. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College and is the author of Alec Flint, Super Sleuth: The Nina, The Pinta and the Vanishing Treasure (Scholastic/Orchard, 2008). Note: as of this past Wednesday (the 16th), there were only two critique and four non-critique spots left! This event will sell out before the early-bird deadline! If you’re interested, the time to commit is now!

Creating Suspense by Bruce Black at wordswimmer. Peek: “[Robert B.] Parker introduces the mystery in the first chapter, showing readers how a nameless boy comes to his untimely death. But Parker doesn’t show the murder itself. Instead, he lets the reader eavesdrop on the scene.”

Ask Daphne! from k.t. literary. “Shoe-obsessed superagent Daphne Unfeasible blogs about books and authors, answers your questions, and talks about publishing industry gossip.” Peek: “a vast percentage of the books that are self-published never do end up proving anyone wrong. They sell a few copies to friends or family members, and take up space on your bookshelves with amateur-looking covers and design that will never truly hold a candle to a book published by a mainstream publisher.”

An Interview with a Real Live Publicist: Random House’s Kathy Dunn from Mary Hershey at Shrinking Violet Promotions. Note: a discussion of to-dos, dos, and don’t for authors. Peek: “Try not to schedule any appearances, etc, before your book’s official on-sale date. It is sometimes hard to early release a book to a specific location, as it gives them an unfair advantage over the other places where books are sold.”

Marketing Task Recap from Robin LaFevers at Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “We thought that it might be helpful to post a checklist of all the marketing tasks we’ve referred to over the last few months in one place, so you wouldn’t have to hunt and peck to produce a To Do List of your own.” Note: authors, especially first-timers, may want to bookmark this link!

On the Red Carpet at ALA with Jim Averbeck and Maria van Lieshout with guest interviewer Betsy Bird. Note: the most buzzed youth lit event on the ‘net. Bravo to all! Here’s my fave, an interview with Tracie Vaughn Zimmer (author interview):

Rowling joins revolt over age banding for children’s books by Jonathan Owen from the Independent. Peek: “J. K. Rowling and Philip Pullman, two of the biggest names in children’s literature, are leading a revolt by thousands of people across the country who are furious at plans by publishers to categorise books by the age at which they should be read.” See also Pullman’s site, Peek: “…everything about a book should seek to welcome readers in and not keep them out.” Source: Lori Calabrese Writes!

On a related note, Majority of Children’s Authors Against Age Guidance by Lindesay Irvine from The Guardian (UK). Peek: “Representatives for both sides of the impassioned debate have been careful to remain diplomatic, but the signs of a tough impasse remain.”

Two Plot Tips for the Middle by Martha Alderson at Plot Whisperer for Writers and Readers. Peek: “When things get messy, writers often long for the good old days at the Beginning of the relationship when things were smooth and happy, and superficial. Don’t give into the urge to go back and start over again. The truth of the relationship and the characters emerge in the Middle.”

Punk Rock and Graffiti Book Signing and a Giveaway by Kelly Parra from YA Fresh. Peek: “Just in from my book signing with Stephanie Kuehnert…” Note: “Leave a comment to win an autographed copy of Stephanie’s I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone (MTV Books, 2008). Keep in mind ‘Ramone’ is for mature teen or adult readers (15 years and up).”

Ask the Anonymous Editor: a chat transcript from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “So while your worry that people are going to annoyed by your non-standard envelope is justified, it’s also unnecessary. Never mind about that crap. Just write something really, really good.”

The Romantic Comedies: A blog for authors and readers of the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies series, maintained by author Jennifer Echols. Additional featured authors: Niki Burnham; Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon; Erin Downing; Jennifer Echols; Aimee Friedman; Caroline Goode; Nancy Krulik; Whitney Lyles; Kelly McClymer; Micol Ostow; Jamie Ponti; P. J. Ruditis; Wendy Toliver; and featured artist: Amy Saidens.

Dirty Little Secrets about the Writing Life by author Shutta Crum from Written Words. Peek: “No author will refer you to his/her agent or editor without falling in love with your manuscript. Relationships of this type are built on trust. No author would do damage to his or her agent/editor relationship without first reading and loving your manuscript.” Read a Cynsations interview with Shutta. Note: Shutta addresses several topics/concerns that are much-discussed among published authors.

Preventing the destruction of Australian Publishing from YA author Justine Larbalestier. Peek: “I have friends who have not been picked up by publishing houses in the U.S. and the U.K. because their books are ‘too Australian’ and not sufficiently ‘universal to have appeal outside Australia’.” Which leads to more considerations… See also Justine’s The Problem with Being a Small English-Speaking Country.

Branded from Roger Sutton at Read Roger. Peek: “I’m a little impatient with the argument that we should be worried about brand names in YA fiction.” Read a Cynsations interview with Roger.

Librarians assemble book cart drill team by Amy Hadley from News8 Austin. Peek: “During rehearsal, the Bibliofiles can be heard singing in a very seductive voice, ‘I want to be your librarian/I want to check out your books.'” See also: Bibliofiles Win Silver at the Library Book Cart Drill Team World Championship from the Austin Public Library at MySpace.

Here’s a fan-created trailer for Don’t Die Dragonfly from The Seer series by Linda Joy Singleton (Llewellyn, 2004). Read a Cynsations interview with Linda Joy Singleton.

An Interview with Melissa Marr by Dee Gentle at ParaNormal Romance (scroll to read). Peek: “I don’t consider writing to be limited to the physical act of fingers on keys, so to some degree I think I’m always writing. Stories simmer in our minds for months or years before they are ready to be served up on to the page.” Read a Cynsations interview with Melissa.

I am the Very Model of a Modern SF Novelist by Jim C. Hines. Peek: “I am the very model of a modern SF novelist; I’ve manuscripts space opera, anime, and fantasist…” Source: AlmaNews.

Please wish the Buried Editor a belated Happy Birthday!

More Personally

Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Jingle Dancer by Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature. Peek: “My experience reading Cyn’s book today was different than all the other times I’ve read it.” Note: Thanks, Debbie, and cheers to Liz! Here’s an interior illustration from the book, used with permission of illustrators Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu.

Thanks also to Debbie for highlighting the book trailer to Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001).

Congratulations to Austin’s own Brian Yansky on the recent sale of his latest YA manuscript to Candlewick Press! Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Giveaway Reminders

Congratulations to Tish in Kentucky, winner of Black Pearls: A Faerie Strand by Louise Hawes (Houghton Mifflin, 2008)! Read a Cynsations interview with Louise.

Here’s a reminder of ongoing opportunities!

The Cynsations grand prize giveaways for July are two signed copies of Wake by Lisa McMann (Simon Pulse, 2008). To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST July 31! Please also type “Wake” in the subject line. Note: one autographed copy will be awarded to a YA public librarian (please specify library with entry) and one autographed copy will be awarded to any Cynsations YA reader.

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007, 2008)(Listening Library, 2008)(audio sample) goes on sale in paperback in the U.S. July 22!

To celebrate, I’m giving away three signed copies of Tantalize in paperback, each with a Sanguini’s T-shirt of the winner’s choice! Note: Sanguini’s is the fictional vampire-themed restaurant in the novel.

In addition to the popular Sanguini’s logo shirts, graphic design genius Gene Brenek has created the all-new “I ‘heart’ Baby Squirrel” shirt; the “Cell Phones Will Be Eaten” shirt; the “Drop In for a Late Night Bite” shirt; and both a birds-theme and a dragon-theme “predator or prey” shirt. See below; click for larger views. Note: I don’t make any money off the sale of the tie-in shirts.

To enter the Tantalize paperback and Sanguini’s T-shirt giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name, snail/street mail address, and preferred T-shirt design by midnight CST July 22! Please also type “Tantalize Paperback and Sanguini’s T-shirt” in the subject line.

One prize will be awarded to a YA teacher or librarian (please specify school/library with entry; university professors are eligible) and two prizes will be awarded to any Cynsations YA readers.

Additional Sanguini’s T-shirts of the winners’ choice will be awarded to a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! at MySpace and to any YA bookseller.

To enter the Sanguini’s T-shirt (only) giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name, snail/street mail address, and preferred T-shirt design by midnight CST July 22! If you are a member of TFU! please indicate that, and if you are a bookseller, please specify your bookstore. Please also type “Sanguini’s T-shirt” in the subject line.

On a related note, Tantalize is now available in hardcover for order from Walker Books Australia and New Zealand! See the publisher listing. It looks like the paperback edition will be available in 2009.

To celebrate, I’m going to give away a signed hardcover copy to one Cynsational YA reader from Australia or New Zealand! To enter, email me (scroll for address) with your name, snail/street mail address, and preferred T-shirt design by midnight CST July 22! Note: if you have already entered the ongoing Tantalize Paperback, Eternal Excerpt, Sanguini’s Giveaway in celebration of the U.S. paperback release, you don’t have to send another email. Your existing entry will count for both giveaway programs!


Here’s a new song from author Joseph Bruchac, “Dare to Hope” (“Joe plays guitar and sings lead, John Kirk plays 12 string and sings harmony”). Read a Cynsations interview with Joe; an update is coming soon! Source: American Indians in Children’s Literature.

Who could resist Eric Carle‘s reading of Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr. (1967)? Source: weheartbooks.