Cynsational News & Giveaways

The grand-prize giveaways for August are three autographed copies of My Life as a Rhombus by Varian Johnson (Flux, 2008)! Read a Cynsations interview with Varian.

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 30! One copy will go to a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature (please indicate), and the other two will go to any Cynsational readers. Please also type “Rhombus” in the subject line.

You also may enter to win a copy of Monsterology: The Complete Book of Monstrous Creatures by Dr. Ernest Drake, illustrated by Douglas Carrell, Nicholas Lenn, and Helen Ward, edited by Dugald A. Steer (Candlewick, 2008)(inside spread).

From the promotional copy: “Do krakens really lurk below the ocean waves? Do griffins command the air above? In a fascinating new discovery sure to rival the ground-breaking Dragonology, the intrepid Dr. Ernest Drake turns his inquisitive gaze from dragons to other so-called mythical creatures.

“Included are:

* a removable letter from Dr. Drake;
* multiple foldouts, flaps, and pull-outs;
* textured “samples,” including sea serpent skin and a feather from a winged horse;
* sundry booklets — including riddles to tell a sphinx;
* a cabinet of curiosities containing yeti fur, a hippogriff feather, and more.

“For anyone who has ever wondered whether legendary beasts still wander among us, this lush look at an astounding array of creatures offers everything a true believer would want to know.

“A second major volume by the esteemed Dr. Drake–a lavish exploration of fantastical beasts, from yetis to unicorns.”

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address by midnight CST Aug. 11! Then you may either: (a) name your favorite monster and briefly explain why; or (b) share your favorite line from Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008)(note: include the page number and whether you’re quoting from the hardcover or paperback; a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! is collecting favorite quotes, so this should help). Please also type “Monsterology” in the subject line.

Additional giveaways are ongoing. See below for more information.

Note: international entries are eligible. If you have won a giveaway in the past, you also are still eligible to enter.

This Weekend

Slumber Party @ Teen Fest: YA authors 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!”

More News & Links

August is Piper Reed Month from author Kimberly Willis Holt at Jambalaya. Good news! Piper Reed Navy Brat was released last week, Piper Reed and the Great Gypsy comes out Aug. 19, there will be more Piper Reed books, and Kimberly is sponsoring weekly book giveaways through August, including a classroom set of Piper Reed Navy Brat for Educators. Learn more here. Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberly.

Young Texas Reader: Reviews and notes on Texas books, media, internet sites, and other formats intended for or otherwise adaptable for the youngest readers through high school from Will Howard “retired Texana Librarian.” Recent posts include Texas alphabet books.

On to the Agent!: an interview with agent Erin Murphy from the Class of 2k8. Peek: “If we’re uncertain which direction to go with revisions, we might test the waters with just one to three editors to start with, so we can try a different version if needed.” See also a Cynsations interview with Erin.

At the Editor’s Desk: an Interview with Andrew Karre, acquisitions editor for Llewellyn Worldwide and Flux from the Class of 2k8. Peek: “I think it’s a good illustration of how capricious and gut-level publishing decisions can be.” Read a Cynsations interview with Andrew.

Author Visit Show-and-Tell from children’s author Kim Norman at Author School Visits by State! Read a Cynsations interview with Kim.

Sarah’s Blog from Greenhouse Literary Agency. Peek: “Greenhouse is a new literary agency with a difference. We exclusively represent and manage the careers of authors writing fiction for children, from first readers through middle grade to sophisticated teen fiction.” See also New Agent Interview: Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary from Alice Pope at Alice’s CWIM Blog.

Editing versus Copyediting from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “…before you go and amend the complaint to “What was the copyeditor doing,” here’s how this process works (actual process may vary, but this is one example).” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Must-Read YA Titles: compiled by YA author Margo Rabb from Books, Chocolate, Sundries. Peek: “One commenter asked me to recommend YA titles that would give an adult a sense of the richness of the genre.”

Award Winning Writer Libba Bray: author of A Great and Terrible Beauty by Laura L. Johnson from Peek: “Bray attended [The] University of Texas, Austin, graduating in 1988 with a degree in theatre and high hopes of a playwriting career.” Read a Cynsations interview with Libba.

The Tenners or 2010: A Book Odyssey: a new LJ group co-founded by Lindsey Levitt and Heidi R. Kling. They are currently accepting members, and the only requirement is that the author has a book debuting in 2010. “It’s a relaxed, fun and supportive community with no dues or obligations.” If you’re interested in joining, send an email to heidi (at) seaheidi (dot) com (reducing spaces and replacing (at) and (dot) with the appropriate symbols. Be sure to mention your publishing house and book title.

Call for Debut Authors for the 2010 CWIM…from Alice Pope. Peek: “I’m beginning to work on my lineup for the 2010 edition–which means I’m looking for a few debut authors and/or illustrators to feature in my annual First Books article!” Deadline: Aug. 8. a publisher site for news and discussion of science fiction, fantasy, and all the things that interest science fiction and fantasy readers.

Cory Doctorow: Nature’s Daredevils: Writing for Young Audiences from Locus Magazine. Peek: “There’s a consequentiality to writing for young people that makes it immensely satisfying. You see it when you run into them in person and find out that there are kids who read your book, Googled every aspect of it, figured out how to replicate the best bits, and have turned your story into a hobby.” Source: April Henry.

Just Us Books: Celebrating a 20-Year Legacy: an interview with Cheryl and Wade Hudson by Kelly Starling Lyons from The Brown Bookshelf: United in Story. Peek: “Founded on the principle of cultural authenticity, Just Us Books has helped pave the way for the diversity in children’s books we see today. The black-owned, family-run publisher has sold millions of books and given many black illustrators and authors — including me – their start in the field.” Read a Cynsations interview with the founders of The Brown Bookshelf.

Books That Make You Go, “Oh!”: The Secret to Creating Tension by Brenda A. Ferber from The Prairie Wind. Peek: “One way is to put your character into a life-or-death situation. But what if you are telling a quieter story than that?” Note: includes a case study of Sweethearts by Sara Zarr (Little Brown, 2008). Read Cynsations interviews with Brenda and Sara.

Sell, Sell, SELL! by Lisa Schroeder at Author2Author. Peek: “…here’s the thing. The truth I’ve only recently realized. I don’t just want to be a published author. I want to be a successful published author. There’s a difference, you know? A big difference.” Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

The Disconnected: Who these 3.8 million people are, and why libraries need to help them by Kathy Degyansky from Library Journal. Peek: “Roughly 3.8 million people nationwide between the ages of 18 and 24 are neither in school nor employed, according to the National League of Cities. That translates to one in six adults in this age group.” Source: Librarian Activist.

Booklists: Young Adult Speculative Fiction (Fantasy and Science Fiction) from Library Booklists. See more YA Fiction Booklists and Children’s Fiction Booklists. Note: of use for building collections, studying craft, and identifying something to read.

Body Image Month with Author Melissa Walker at readergirlz. Note: “Melissa Walker will be chatting live at the readergirlz forum” at 6 p.m. PST/9 PM EST Aug. 28.” Read a Cynsations interviews with the readergirlz divas and with the newest diva, Mitali Perkins.

Check out YA author John Green on the audio taping of his upcoming novel, Paper Towns.

After the end of the world: a bibliography of post-apocalypse-themed titles from YA author Janni Lee Simner at Desert Dispatches.

Reader Questions about Writing, etc. from Words on Words by debut YA author Maggie Stiefvater. Note: questions about craft, business, and Maggie, future Queen of American and debut author of Lament: the Faerie Queen’s Deception (Flux, 2008). Peek: “I really like It lets you find agents that represent your genre, take e-subs, and are members of AAR.”

A Lovely Land’s Tragic Past: Ottawa author [Julia Durango] digs into historic record to pen children’s novel by Melissa Garzanelli at The Times [Ottawa, Illinios]. Peek: “All of the setting locations are real, from the Jesuit Mission to the Leper Colony to the Inquisitor’s Office, and most of the characters are based on real people from that time period. I took the most artistic license with my main character, Calepino. All we know about him from the archives is that he was an African translator who spoke 11 languages.” Learn more about the book.

Question of the Week Thursday: Robin Wasserman from YA author Robin Friedman’s JerseyFresh Tude. Robin asks Robin: “Can you tell us about your road to publication?”

Making Stuff Up For a Living: YA author Saundra Mitchell’s official website. Includes 5 Minute Interviews with established and debut authors, soundtracks, behind-the-pages secrets, links, and information about her Emerging Screenwriters program for young screenwriters. Saundra’s books include Shadowed Summer (Delacorte, 2009)(book trailer below). See 5 Minute Interviews with: Sarah Prineas, Tiffany Trent, Rachel Vincent.

How Do I Find an Editor’s Name for Submission? from Darcy Pattison’s Revision Notes. Peek: “You mention that is important to list the name of the submissions editor; however, I am finding this piece of information extremely hard to find.” Read a Cynsations interview with Darcy.

Agent Advice: Lilly Ghahremani of Full Circle Literary from The Guide to Literary Agent’s Editor’s Blog. Peek: “I would love to do some children’s, YA, or middle-grade books about the Middle East. Multicultural books are appearing about a variety of ethnicities, but I’m not seeing them about Middle Easterners as much as I’d hoped.” Source: Alice’s CWIM Blog. Alice notes, “Ghahremani is interested in children’s, YA, or middle-grade books about the Middle East, as well as graphic novels.”

Interview: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes by Little Willow at Bildungsroman. Peek: “Writing to me is a form of discovery; I uncover the plot and the characters as I go along. Naturally, this often results in a very messy first draft, since I sometimes don’t know where I’m going until half-way in, but that’s what editing is for. I write to find out the story. Once I have a completed draft, then I outline.”

“I Want a Divorce” from Allison Winn Scotch at Ask Allison. Peek: “I am a divorcee. This will come as news, however, to my husband. No, really, I have divorced an agent, and like many divorcees (both from their agents and their spouses), I am so much the better for it. So I do speak from experience here.”

The Role of Dialogue and Narrative by children’s author Jan Fields from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “Dialogue should not be used to replace action. Many newer writers have all action take place “off stage” and we only know about it because a character thinks about it or talks about it. Imagine if a movie did that.”

YA authors Mary E. Pearson (The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Henry Holt, 2008)(author interview)) and Nancy Werlin (Impossible (author interview)) talk to each other about their new books. Source: Ed Spicer at Ed Spicer’s Teen Book Reviews. See more of his author videos.

Upcoming Events

Children Should Be Seen: The Image of the Child in American Picture-Book Art: “An exhibition of the best American picture-book art of the last decade, ‘Children Should Be Seen: The Image of the Child in American Picture-Book Art,’ makes its West Coast debut” from July 1 to Sept. 14 at the Central Library’s Getty Gallery (630 W. Fifth St.) in Los Angeles.

“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.” You can find me at:

“Vampire Friends”: a panel Aug. 16 from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Phoenix North. Description: “The vampire mythos seems to resonate with something deep in human nature–sexuality, for one thing. Why is it so powerful, and how can the sub-genre stay fresh?”

“Challenges of Writing Genre for Younger Readers”: panel Aug. 17 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Description: “How does writing for young adults differ from writing for adult readers? Our panelists discuss whether it’s harder, easier, or pretty much the same, but with a different label.” Note: I’ll be signing books that same day from noon to 1 p.m. in the Dealer’s Room.

“Five Things To Consider When Plotting a Novel” with Helen Hemphill from Austin SCBWI on Aug. 16 at Barnes and Noble Westlake. 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!

The Texas Book Festival: An Unfolding Narrative: Interested in Participating?: how to submit a book for consideration by the Texas Book Festival. Peek: “The Texas Book Festival typically presents between 175-180 authors, some from Texas and some from the United States and abroad. The Festival’s Author Selection Committee routinely selects authors who are published in the year the Festival takes place, but books published 18 months prior to the start of the Festival are eligible.”

More Giveaways

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

Attention: members of Tantalize Fans Unite! at MySpace! I’m giving away a copy of Zombie Blondes by Brian James (Feiwel and Friends, 2008). Read a Cynsations interview with Brian. All members of the group are eligible to win. Bonus points will go to those who make a comment on the forum by midnight today!

The winners of the Cynsations grand prize giveaways for July–two signed copies of Wake by Lisa McMann (Simon Pulse, 2008)–were Lenore in Kansas and Aimee, a teacher in Texas.

The winner of the autographed copy of A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg (Delacorte, 2008) is Elaine in Alberta, Canada. Read a Cynsations interview with Shana.

The winners of the two signed copies of The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous by Suzanne Crowley (Greenwillow, 2007) were Becky at the Orange City Public Library in Iowa and Kate in Maine.

More Personally

Thanks to all who joined me at Wednesday night’s ALAN chat and/or blogged about it! Most appreciated! Couldn’t make the chat? Log-in troubles? Read the transcript! Thanks again to David, ALAN, and all who participated!

Thanks to Jama Rattigan and Cornelius at Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup for their report from the Virginia Barnes and Noble! It was a treat to see Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and many of my favorite titles on the shelves.

It’s come to my attention that one of the world’s great women (Carrie Jones) wrote “‘Xanadu’ is one of the WORST musicals ever. Seriously.” As someone who has cured many a writer’s block dancing in the dark to the “Xanadu” soundtrack, I respectfully disagree. I’m telling you: dancing, darkness, “Xanadu.” Works every time. Read a Cynsations interview with Carrie.

As long as I’m spilling secrets: if a cat sits on a manuscript of its own free will, the book will sell. Note: this is not why I have four cats.

Even More Personally

Welcome to my newborn niece, Olivia, and congratulations to her proud parents, Jamilya and Keith! Olivia is the daughter of my brother-in-law and his wife. I’m honored to be her auntie.