Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win one of two autographed copies of The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous by Suzanne Crowley (Greenwillow, 2007)! Note: they also include dragons drawn by Caitlin, the author’s daughter to whom the book is dedicated.

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST July 28! One copy will go to a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature (please indicate), and the other will go to any Cynsational reader. Please also type “VOE” in the subject line. Read a Cynsations interview with Suzanne.

Additional giveaways are ongoing! See below for more information! Note: international entries are eligible.

More News & Links

Here’s YA author John Green. Favorite quote: “…if anyone is thinking of dropping out of college, get thee to the Steak ‘n Shake.” Source: HipWriterMama. Read a Cynsations interview with John.

Young Adult Author Neesha Meminger: official author site features an About Me page with short and long biographies, a Contests page, Fun Stuff, links, etc. Meminger’s debut novel, Shine, Coconut Moon is due for release March 2009 from Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster). From the promotional copy: “Samar–a.k.a. Sam–is an Indian-American teenager whose mom has kept her away from her old-fashioned family. It’s never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a demanding boyfriend. But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam’s house–and turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. Sam is eager, but when boys attack her uncle, chanting ‘Go back home, Osama!,’ Sam realizes she could be in danger–and also discovers how dangerous ignorance is.” See also Needsha’s LiveJournal,Word (f)Light: (Self)Discovery Through Wordplay.

The Horn Book Podcast page is a must-visit-and-listen online destination. In the latest installment “Beach Bag Books,” “Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano talk with Kitty Flynn about twelve great new books for summer.” Read a Cynsations interview with Roger.

State Awards for Children’s and Young Adult Books: Links to U.S. Readers’-Choice & Other-Criteria Awards, by state from Cynthia Leitich Smith Children’s Literature Resources. Note: this is hands-down the most difficult page on the site to keep current. If you know of new awards or URLs, please (scroll to) email me. See also U.S. National and Canadian Awards for Children’s and YA Literature.

Cover Girls by Rebecca Bengal from Print Magazine. Peek: “Publishers face a conundrum: The high literary value of the best of these books aside, how can they help a YA novel speak to the latest group of teen readers, across generations, cultural shifts, and trends?” Source: A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy. Note: I can’t get the ad at the top to close, but you should be able to just scroll for the article.

Negotiations by Libby Koponen at the Blue Rose Girls. Peek: “… when one person does a job for less than she deserves, it makes things harder for everyone else.”

I enjoyed “What Good Is the Big, Bad Wolf? This Predator Helps Its Habitat. by Linda Zajac on pgs. 6-7 of the July 2008 issue of Highlights for Children. It also was a treat to check out the question-and-answer with Austin’s own Dr. Brian Anderson. Shana from Illinois asked Brian, “How do mood rings know when to change? Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Is Kazuo Ishiguro a Hyphenated Writer? by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “I’ve also marveled that as an Asian-born immigrant writer, Ishiguro has managed to escape being classified as such. Are Brit writers given more freedom than Americans to create protagonists of many ethnicities, I’ve wondered?” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

“I’m Y.A., and I’m O.K.” by Margo Rabb from The New York Times. Peek: “One morning in the dining room, another writer asked who was publishing my book; I told her that it was Random House, and that it was being published as young adult. ‘Oh, God,’ she said. ‘That’s such a shame.'” See also interview outtakes at Books, Chocolates, Sundries: the blog of Margo Rabb.

“YA Stigma” by Justine Larbalestier; peek: “Here in the U.S., I run into adults who read lots of YA all the time. In fact, the majority of my fan mail comes from adults. The ‘stigma’ of being published as YA does not seem to be stopping them from reading my books. The same does not seem to be true in the U.K. or Australia for that matter.” Read a Cynsations interview with Justine.

Query Trends: I’m Seeing Triple from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “The third category is a bit more inexplicable and tantalizing. And this is the ‘simultaneous thought’ type of query that doesn’t necessarily have a root in a popular book, but nevertheless keeps showing up again and again.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Happy 50th to Susan Taylor Brown at Susan Writes! Susan has a request for us all. Peek: “…would you please help me celebrate my birthday by sharing a special memory with me? It doesn’t have to be long.” Read a Cynsations interview with Susan.

“Don’t Call It a Comeback” a Vermont College of Fine Arts residency report from author (and third-semester student) Varian Johnson. Peek: “I just got back from my latest Vermont College Residency, as like always, I riddled with a mix of joy at being back at home, and at sadness for leaving such a magical place.” Notes: (1) Rita Williams-Garcia fans, don’t miss the pic of her with Varian; (2) congratulations to Varian on winning the alumni award!

Gang of Erin 2008 Retreat from Anne Broyles Blog. Peek: “I’ve just spent a glorious, rejuvenating weekend retreat with my literary agent, Erin Murphy, and nine of her other clients (only one of whom I have met before). We came from eight states to the Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center in Massachusetts to hang out, discuss writing projects, and focus on building a writing career, school visits, and online/other marketing techniques.” See also Chris Barton’s report at Bartography. Read a Cynsations interview with Erin.

Questions to Ask About a Story: Do the illustrations or cover art make the characters seem either more or less foreign than the story? from Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “Why did the publisher feel they had to make her look more Japanese than American, especially when a girl in jeans behind barbed wire would be more historically accurate and powerful?” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

Interview with Jen Robinson by Marjorie Coughlan at Papertigers. Peek: “I spread myself too thin so last year I made a decision to cut back on some of these outside activities, and focus on the things that I’m most passionate about: my core mission, if you will, which is helping parents and teachers and librarians to help kids to love books.” Source: Mitali’s Fire Escape.

Conference Survival Tips from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “Plan some down time into your conference schedule. Yes, you’ll be tempted to squeeze everything in, but then you run the risk of short-circuiting.”

Interview: Claudia Gray from Teen Libris. Peek: “I used to live in New Orleans, so I learned a lot about the city’s history then. That history inspired Patrice’s character, more as who she was when she was still alive than as the vampire she became.” Note: Win a copy of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite edited by P. C. Cast (BenBella, Aug. 2008)(PDF excerpt)(exclusive to Borders) from Teen Libris! Deadline: July 31.

Cold Hard Facts About the Writing Life and More Financial Truth by Laurie Halse Anderson from Mad Woman in the Forest. Peek: “…your take-home pay is around $12,5000…. for a year’s worth of work. And remember: it’s an advance against your royalties. Your book has to sell around 10,000 copies to pay your publisher back. (…the average middle grade or YA novel in America sells 5000 copies a year…).”

“Hellooooo? Anyone there????” by author-editor Lisa Graff at The Longstockings. Peek: “What is the proper protocol when you query an editor, they request the manuscript, months go by, you send a status, and still more months go by? Do you chalk it up or still hold out hope? Do you try and contact that editor again? I have this same problem with the same manuscript with at least four different publishers. Any suggestions?”

One Writer’s Process: Linda Urban from Bruce Black at Wordswimmer. Peek: “‘Guidebooks have their place,’ Urban warns, ‘but if you’re at all like me, thinking about the writing is fatal to writing a first draft of a story.'”

My Own Soapbox Moment: Depicting Class in Contemporary Lit from Chasing Ray. Peek: “Why do writers continue to write above the means of the average American kid, and why do kids continue to want to read them?”

Interview with Brooke Taylor from In Bed with Books. Peek: “I think it is unrealistic to have a book or movie where the character only has to get their one big issue under control and then life will be perfect. It’s never that simple.” See also And Another Awesome Author Visit: Brooke Taylor from And Another Book Read.

Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves: “I write about obsessively seeking children’s books of old from thrift shops, library sales, book stores, online and elsewhere to share with my son.” Source:

Linda Joy Singleton Book Spotlight and Author Interview from Zensanity. Peek: “I stopped writing from about age 17 to 27, gaining experiences of love, marriage, family. Then I reclaimed my writing dreams, joined a writing group, critique group, worked very hard, and sold my first book at age 30.” Read a Cynsations interview with Linda Joy Singleton.

Niki Grimes Talks About Promotion from Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids. Peek: “I psych myself up for it. I was not gonna not write. So the question became, How do I make a living at it?”

Agent Questions/Agent Answers from Ask Allison. Peek: “here are some questions off the top of my head that I think are perfectly valid (and good) issues to be raised once you’ve received an offer of representation…” See also Putting Your Agent To Work. Note: Ask Allison is: “The place to post questions and find answers on all of your too-afraid-to-ask concerns, hesitancies and worries about breaking into the publishing field.”

Harry Potter fans pay £1,000 a night to stay in hotel room where JK Rowling finished series by Simon Johnson from The Telegram. Peek: “Despite living in Edinburgh, Miss Rowling, 42, checked into room 552 at the city’s Balmoral Hotel to complete the series in January last year.” Source: Bookshelves of Doom.

Welcome to the kidlitosphere, Plot This: Two small town southern gals discuss their quest for fame and fortune. No, we really just chat about writing books for children, and screenplays for bigger kids, namely us. AKA Sarah and Katie!

Jennifer Hunt: Little, Brown editor charts her own course by John A. Sellers. Peek: “So what’s it like for an editor to be at the National Book Award ceremony with two authors up for the same prize?”

Boy Books, Girl Books by Liz B at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy. Peek: “But to turn all the research and good ideas by people like Sullivan, Smith and Wilhelm into ‘boys don’t read books about girls’ mindset is both simplistic and disrespectful to male and female readers.” Summer’s End Contest: enter to win “a Zelda Wii Game, autographed books by Holly Black, an autographed Spiderwick poster, a ‘Spiderwick’ movie poster, assorted goods from other authors, Bad Girls Club by Judy Gregerson, and a Macbook Tithe Case!” Enter here. Read a Cynsations interview with Holly.

Eye for a God’s Eye: The Bold Choice of the Omniscient Point of View in Fiction for Young Adults by Gwenda Bond at Shaken and Stirred (PDF file). Peek: “I’d love any thoughts and reactions, either here or via e-mail. I’d also say enjoy, but this is an academic paper we’re talking about here.” Note: this is Gwenda’s critical thesis for Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Books Lists: newly updated from Wired for Youth at the Austin Public Library. Categories include: African-American authors; fairy tales with a twist; fantasy; ghosts; GLBTQ; Hispanic Teen fiction; horror; humor; multicultural fiction; mysteries and thrillers; novels in verse; science fiction; Texas authors; vampires; werewolves and shapeshifters; biography; and much more! Note: avid readers, collection builders, and MFA students may want to bookmark.

Event Reminders

“The primary focus of ArmadilloCon is literary science fiction, but that’s not all we do — we also pay attention to art, animation, science, media, and gaming. Every year, dozens of professional writers, artists and editors attend the convention. We invite you to attend the convention especially if you are a fan of reading, writing, meeting, sighting, feeding, knighting, and all the other things folks do at a sci-f/fantasy convention.” Note: I’ll be on the program (not sure of the specifics yet), and I hope to see y’all there!

“Five Things To Consider When Plotting a Novel” with Helen Hemphill from Austin SCBWI on Aug. 16 at Barnes and Noble Westlake. “It’s thrilling to begin a new novel, but most writers know it’s the middle and the ending that can make or break a story. A great plot is both planned and discovered. This mini workshop will offer up practical strategies for plotting a middle grade or young adult novel and suggest five things you’ll want to consider as you plot your novel.” Helen is the author of the middle grade novel Runaround (2007) and the young adult novel Long Gone Daddy (2006), both published by Front Street. Her new novel, The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones (Front Street, 2008), will be published this fall. Helen holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College.

April Lurie will celebrate the release of her latest book, The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine (Delacorte, 2008), with a book signing from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Barnes and Noble in Round Rock! Note: see you there!

Slumber Party @ Teen Fest: April Lurie (author interview), Jennifer Ziegler (author interview), and Cynthia Leitich Smith will join forces in a “lively, intimate discussion about books and writing for teen girls” at noon Aug. 2 at Carver Branch Library/Austin Public Library in Austin, Texas. The event will include a book signing, “games, snacks, beauty tips, and even a passionate reading contest. Pajamas and pillows optional!”

Warning: Only Two Non-Critique Spots Remain! 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 23th), there were only two non-critique spots left! This event will sell out before the early-bird deadline! If you’re interested, the time to commit is now!

SCBWI Houston is sponsoring a “Nuts and Bolts” Picture Book Writing Workshop taught by award-winning author, Kathi Appelt Sept. 6. The workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., lunch included. See details. Read a Cynsations interview with Kathi.

From BookPeople: author Eoin Colfer will be presenting his “hilarious one-man show” at 7 p.m. July 27 at St. Edward’s University in Austin. “During the show Eoin will give the audience a rare peek at the inspiration for the teenage criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl.” Tickets are $25 and include a copy of Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox (Hyperion, 2008). A signing will follow. Tickets are now available at BookPeople. Note: general admission tickets will be $8 the evening of the event at St. Edward’s (until sold out).

More Cynsational Giveaways

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.

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: International entries are eligible for Cynsations giveaways unless otherwise specified.

The winners of the Tantalize paperback launch giveaway were: Alana at the James Blackstone Memorial Library in Connecticut; Jessica in Minnesota; Geena in Hawaii; and Stephanie in Florida! The winner of Australia-New Zealand giveaway was Sherryl in Australia! Note: the most popular T-shirt for teachers/librarians was Cell Phones will Be Eaten. The most popular T-shirt for those who’d already read the novel was I “Heart” Baby Squirrel, and the most popular among those who hadn’t read the novel yet was the Sanguini’s shirt with flowers.

Didn’t win? Enter one of the two ongoing Tantalize paperback (Candlewick, July 2008) giveaways! See below under “more personally”!

Attention: members of Tantalize Fans Unite! at MySpace! Enter to win a copy of Zombie Blondes by Brian James (Feiwel and Friends, 2008). Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Peek: “I wanted to write a horror novel that felt extremely real. So the main character Hannah isn’t unlike the characters of my previous books, which would fall into the realistic fiction genre. She’s a girl who moves around a lot and has trouble fitting in wherever she goes. The book deals with a lot of the normal problems of being in high school, but Hannah has the unfortunate luck to happen upon a school attended primarily by zombies who are very clever and devious when it comes to hiding themselves.”

All members of the group are eligible to win. Bonus points will go to those who make a comment on the boards between now and midnight Aug. 1.

Note: Don’t miss the Summer’s End contest (see above for details).

More Personally

Cynthia Leitich Smith on Writing Horror/Fantasy: a Poised at the Edge Author Interview from Hello Ma’am. Peek: “What new voices in horror would you recommend to your readers?” Find out which seven of the many spectacular speculative fiction authors I highlight, (sorry I couldn’t list them all!) and check out my tip for writing horror.

Thank you for the cheers on the sale of Blessed (Candlewick, TBA) and on the Tantalize paperback release! It was an honor to hear privately and in comments from so many folks, including TadMack at Finding Wonderland: The WritingYA Weblog. Note: the Tantalize paperback includes an excerpt of Eternal (Candlewick, March 2009).

On a related note, I’ll be chatting live about Tantalize at The ALAN Book Chat on Wednesday, July 30th at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central.

The Book Girl Reviews: a Place for the Book Obsessed is sponsoring a giveaway of Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007, 2008). Peek: “By midnight EST on Friday July 25th, you have to write a short summary of your favorite YA book and post it here.”

Shooting Stars Mag offers Tantalize giveaway contest! Deadline: Aug. 1 at midnight EST! See also Genre of July — Vampires at Genre of the Month.

Win a copy of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite edited by P. C. Cast (BenBella, Aug. 2008)(PDF excerpt)(exclusive to Borders) from Teen Libris! Deadline: July 31.

Even More Personally

I saw “Batman: The Dark Knight” Sunday morning at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater on South Lamar in Austin. It was reminiscent of the 1980s blockbuster scene. A line snaked out of the theater and into the Texas July heat for even the 12:20 a.m. show. Greg and I had arrived almost an hour early, and we still ended up in the last row (not that it mattered; every seat is a good one).

True to form, the Alamo Drafthouse, which is a restaurant-theater, served up a menu inspired by the film, which included: “Batwings: Fried wings in a dark and spicy sauce of reduced soy sauce, chile arbol, toasted sesame and ginger plum sauce for dippin’.”

I won’t offer spoilers, but I will say that Heath Ledger‘s performance is much more than just hype. I couldn’t even “see” the actor through the role. It was simply the Joker, which was of course scary as all get out. I wasn’t bothered by the “darkness,” possibly because my primary reference to Batman’s Gotham is through the comic books [I subscribe to all of them]. On the other hand, it did wear on me that every woman in the storyline was a victim of some kind. That aside, it’s an excellent film. Don’t miss “A Brief History of the Joker” from the LA Times.

We’re off to “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” this weekend.

And finally, Dracula meets IKEA… Source: Vampiress.