Cynsations News & Giveaways

Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P. C. Cast (BenBella, 2008) is now available at Borders and Waldenbooks! Note: when I picked up mine last weekend, the book wasn’t in the system yet, but it was in the store.

This vampire-themed YA anthology includes short stories by P. C., L. J. Smith, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kristin Cast, Rachel Caine (author interview), Tanith Lee, Nancy Holder, Richelle Mead, and Claudia Gray. Note: the title of my story is “Haunted Love,” it involves a vampire and ghost, and it’s set in a fictional small town, “Spirit, Texas.”

Enter to win one of three copies autographed by contributor Cynthia Leitich Smith (that’s me, obviously)! 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!

OR, if you’re on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 30! But DON’T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I’ll contact you for it if you win.

One copy will go to a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature (please indicate), one will go to any Cynsational reader, and one will go to a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! at MySpace. Please indicate status. Please also type “Immortal” in the subject line.

Enter to win one of two copies of The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (HarperCollins, 2008)! From the promotional copy: “My name is Chloe Saunders, and my life will never be the same again.

“All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don’t even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost–and the ghost saw me.

“Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won’t leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a ‘special home’ for troubled teens. Yet the home isn’t what it seems. Don’t tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It’s up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House…before its skeletons come back to haunt me.”

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. 26!

OR, if you’re on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 26! But DON’T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I’ll contact you for it if you win.

One copy will go to a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature (please indicate), and one will go to any Cynsational readers. Please indicate status. Please also type “Summoning” in the subject line.


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!

OR, if you’re on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 30! But DON’T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I’ll contact you for it if you win.

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.

Winners of the autographed copies of Night Road by A. M. Jenkins (HarperCollins, 2008) were Moriah in South Carolina and Deena at Brighton Memorial Library in Rochester, NY! Read a Cynsations interview with A. M. Jenkins. Note: congratulations to the winners! Your books are on their way!

Note: weekend and monthly giveaways are ongoing at Cynsations. International entries are eligible. Those who have won previously are eligible. Of late, more YA book giveaways have been featured, but middle grade and picture book giveaways also are offered on a regular basis.

More News & Links

“Should I Fire My Agent?” by Tess Gerritsen from Murderati: Mysteries, Murder, and Marketing. Peek: “That’s when I fired him. But it had taken me two years to do it, two years of agonizing over my decision. Only later did I learn that this same agent did the same thing to a far more prominent, internationally bestselling author – to the tune of millions of dollars. So as a victim, I was in good company.” Source: The Longstockings.

Teaching the Idea of Story from The Friday Book Report: Tony Abbott’s Blog. Peek: “The first question: describe yourself in a single word as you are right now. Second question: describe the person you want to be. The point? These words are the beginning an end of the story. What comes in between? How do you get from where you are to where you want to be?” Learn more about Tony Abbott.

Reading and Discussion Teacher Guides for Books by Cecil Castellucci; guides written by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. Check out guides for Beige (Candlewick, 2007), Boy Proof (Candlewick, 2005), and The Plain Janes (Minx, 2007). Read Cynsations interviews with Cecil and Tracy.

How to Avoid Sabotaging Your Writing Career (#1) from There Are No Rules by Jane Friedman. Peek: “This same rule applies to published writers—they are not an exception!” Source: Elizabeth O. Dulemba.

Where’s My Book? from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: “Yes, many booksellers like to support local authors. But here’s the thing: keeping books on the shelves that do not sell uses valuable real estate for no gain, which in bookseller terms means financial loss. “

Interview: Dr. Jonda McNair by Carla Sarratt from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “Dr. McNair talks about her literacy project, newsletter and African-American children’s literature.” Read a Cynsations interview with the founders of the Brown Bookshelf.

Join Author Micol Ostow’s Popular Vote Cyber-Launch Party at First Person Present! From Sept. 8 to Sept. 13, Micol will be offering question-and-answer interviews with such youth lit authors as Jill Santopolo, Judy Goldschmidt, Nancy Krulik, Nancy Holder, Marjetta Geerling, Kim Kane, Liz Gallagher, and more! Each day, Micol also will also giveaway “1 copy and 1 bookmark of Popular Vote (Scholastic Point, 2008), plus a special prize from the visiting author of the day.”

Becky’s Book Reviews is hosting two giveaways. One is sponsored by Kane/Miller. There will be four winners. Each winner will receive one of four boxed sets featuring international picture books. The deadline is Aug. 26; winners will be announced Aug. 27. Learn more. The second contest is sponsored by Shadow Mountain/J. Scott Savage. She’s giving away one ARC of Far World: Water Keep. Learn more. The deadline is Aug. 25; the winner will be announced Aug. 26th–Becky’s two-year blogiversary!

Referrals, Blurbs, and Quotes, Oh My! from Nathan Bransford Literary Agent. Peek: “Someone wanted to know whether they should include quotes and blurbs in query letters from authors they know or who have read their book and commented favorably.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Back to School Reading List from Austin Public Library Teens. Peek [On Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar (Dutton, 2005)]: “While navigating his first year of high school and awaiting the birth of his new baby brother, Scott loses old friends and gains some unlikely new ones as he hones his skills as a writer.” Read a Cynsations interview with David.

Some Thoughts on Book Design from Alvina Ling at Blue Rose Girls. Peek: “Personally, I trust our designers and their vision, and love working with them on cover designs. In some cases, I have an idea of what I want the cover to look like, but oftentimes I’ll wait and see what the designer comes up with first so as not to taint their creativity.”

Already Have Publisher Interest from Bookends LCC — A Literary Agency. Peek: “Most agents will jump on the opportunity to consider a proposal that is currently under consideration with a major house. Be wary though because…”

My So-Called Picture Book from Alternative Teen Services. Peek: “Picture books can be used with reluctant readers and visual learners, they can be paired with novels or nonfiction works in history lessons, they can initiate art and design projects, draw on art historical connections and critical thinking strategies, and rekindle the personal experience with literature.” Source:

Drawn to obsessive rituals, novelist uses writing to put her life in order by Laura Isensee from The Miami Herald. Peek: “The world that Crissa-Jean Chappell experiences is far from ordinary. We hear Cuban tree frogs. She hears puppies barking. We see a classroom with circular windows. She sees a ship. We smell an orchid. She smells maple syrup, eggs and bacon.” Crissa-Jean is the author of Total Constant Order (HarperCollins, 2007).

Jay Asher on Thirteen Reasons Why from readergirlz TV, featuring team members Holly Cupala, Little Willow, and Justina Chen Headley. Read Cynsations interviews with Jay and Justina.

Hope Can Be So Fragile for Writers from Cheryl Rainfield: Avid Reader, Teen Fiction Writer, and Book-a-holic. All Things Books, With a Focus on Children’s and Teen Fiction. Peek: “Hope feels so fragile sometimes, in the publishing world. Whether an editor or agent likes your manuscript is so subjective. They can be having a bad day when your query lands on their desk or in box. Or the subject matter might be something that turns them off or touches something they don’t want to look at.”

Are You a Gifted Enough Author? from Editorial Ass. Peek: “I think this is a three-way street: an author shouldn’t be expected to buy a gift for her author or her agent, an agent shouldn’t be expected to buy a gift for an author or an editor. These are things we should do if we want to.”

Walter Dean Myers: A “Bad” Boy Makes Good by Juan Williams at NPR. Peek: “Then one day in the 1950s, he met Langston Hughes in Harlem. ‘He didn’t look to me like a writer because he wasn’t white,’ remembers Myers, now 70 years old.” Source: NCTE.

Every month, for the 2008-2009 school year, debut author Jenny Meyerhoff will be giving one third grade classroom a “Third Grade Box O’ Fun.” The package will include her book, Third Grade Baby (FSG, 2008), promotional items for the whole class, tattoos, pencils, bookmarks, and activity guide for the book plus supplies to do the activities, and a virtual or actual visit from the author(depending upon location.) To enter, people simply have to email me with the name of their favorite third grade class. Teachers, students, parents, friends…anyone can nominate a class. Jenny will have a random drawing the first of every month; entries, once received, are eligible for the rest of the year. Learn more about the contest.

Guest Blogger, Donna Gephart: 12 3/4 Ways to Promote Your Novel from Mary Hershey and Robin LaFevers at The Shrinking Violets. Peek: “Give your business cards to everyone you can think of. When I gave cards to the receptionists at my doctor’s office, I ended up signing three copies of my novel for their children and grandchildren at my next visit.” Read a Cynsations interview with Donna.

Sorry for last week’s tech glitch with the book trailer to Amor and Summer Secrets by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (Kensington, 2008). Let’s try this again!

Graphic Novels from The Horn Book. Peek: “Our handy primer gives a quick lesson on how to navigate comic pages and also provides a few recommended titles.”

How to Mock Up a Picture Book from Darcy Pattison’s Revision Notes. Peek: “The structure is so unusual, that you need a dummy to refine and polish your text. It can tell you which section of text is too long, let you look at pacing of the story across the pages, help you spot needless repetitions and much more.”

Upsetting the Author-Agent Relationship from Bookend LCC – A Literary Agency. Peek: “If you enter a contest and an editor requests your work or if you are a nonfiction author who has been approached by an editor, go ahead and send the material. Otherwise, if you really want an agent, it might be wise to hold off.”

Check out the trailer for The Kitchen Dance, a forthcoming picture book by Maurie J. Manning (Clarion, Oct. 2008)!

Coming Soon

The first annual Hill Country Book Festival will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Georgetown Public Library (Georgetown, Texas).

The children’s activities will include author and illustrator visits; live music; face painting; crafts (puppets and collages). Free popcorn and snow cones will be available, as will hot dogs for $1.

Participating authors/illustrators include Liz Garton Scanlon, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, Don Tate, P. J. Hoover, and Deborah Frontiera. The Biscuit Brothers also will be performing! See schedule.

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 & Noble in Round Rock!

Rick Guzman (Austin) will speak at the Sept. 13 meeting of the CenTex Chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers in Round Rock, Texas. “Book Publishing Contracts: What You Need to Know,” will discuss what to look for, what to avoid, and what it all means. “Guzman’s law practice includes publishing interests, and he writes biographies of famous Latinos, most recently George Lopez: Latino King of Comedy (Enslow, 2008).” Source: Writers’ League of Texas.

“Connections & Craft: Writing for Children and Young Adults:” hosted by Brazos Valley (Texas) SCBWI Nov. 15 at A & M United Methodist Church in College Station, Texas. “Editor Joy Neaves, agent Emily Van Beek, and author Cynthia Leitich Smith comprise our faculty for this day-long event. Published BV-SCBWI authors will also conduct a hands-on Writers’ Workshop.” Download the brochure. Read a Cynsations interview with Emily.

More Personally

This week’s highlights were the Austin SCBWI meeting, showcasing author Helen Hemphill‘s talk on plotting the novel, and Armadillocon. I’ll tell you more about them in today’s follow-up post.

Be especially sure to check out the two video interviews with graphic chapter book author Brian Anderson! They’re the must-watch features of the day.

I also finished and sent in minor edits on the pass pages to Eternal (Candlewick, March 2008). After three reads, I’d found one actual line-editing issue, one minor fact tweak, and one missing scene break. The rest were all matters of fiddling and the fact that the text simply looks different typeset, suggesting additional minor adjustments. ARCs should be printed soon!

In the meantime, you can take a sneak peek at an excerpt in the back of the U. S. paperback edition of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2008).

Right now, Austin area readers may find additional copies of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, autographed by me, at Borders (4477 S. Lamar Blvd.) at Westgate Marketplace along with autographed copies of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) in the young adult section.

In the Borders children’s section, look for autographed copies of Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001), and Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002).

Note: Typically, you can also find autographed copies of Tantalize at Barnes & Noble Westlake (701 S. Capital of Texas Highway #P860) and Austin’s famed indie BookPeople (603 N. Lamar). Go upstairs to the BookKids department, and look in the YA section.

Given last weekend’s hectic schedule (Sunday morning panel?!), I’m going to sign off Cynsations a day early this week. But no worries! I’ll be back online Monday!