Cynsational News & Giveaways

Amazing News! In celebration of 10 years of, the lovely Angela L. Fox is sponsoring a giveaway at Pickled Pixel Toe.

Enter to win a T-shirt!

Here’s how: go to one of the following categories: The Muses (see design sample); The Inner Critics; or Writing, Illustrating, and Conference.

Pick a T-shirt design. Then email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your design choice, the color you prefer, your shirt size, your name, and your snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST Sept. 22! OR, if you’re on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Sept. 22! But DON’T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I’ll contact you for it if you win.

REMINDER: Enter to win one of four ARCs of Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez (Harcourt, 2008)! 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 Sept. 15! OR, if you’re on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Sept. 15! But DON’T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I’ll contact you for it if you win.

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

Winners of the ARC giveaway of The Devouring: Sorry Night by Simon Holt (Little Brown, 2008) were: Mandy in Pennsylvania; Jaden in Texas; and Kate, a teacher in Pennsylvania! UPDATE: At Blue Rose Girls, Devouring editor Alvina Ling offers an interesting look at the U.S. versus U.K. covers for this novel with related commentary.

More Giveaways

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 “one copy and one bookmark of Popular Vote (Scholastic Point, 2008), plus a special prize from the visiting author of the day.”

Between now and Dec. 31, author Suzanne Selfors is running a video contest! The winner “will be announced in January and will receive a $150 gift certificate for the bookstore of his/her choice and a signed copy of Suzanne’s next teen novel, Coffeehouse Angel. [The] winning video will also be featured on Suzanne’s website.”

Fangtastic Contest: sponsored by author Heather Brewer. To enter, “create a piece of artwork that is a tribute to your favorite scene from any book in the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod [(Dutton, 2007-)].” From Heather: “Grand Prize: a character named after winner in the fourth Vlad Tod book, Eleventh Grade Burns (as well as your name in the book’s acknowledgments), a vampire smiley t-shirt (as featured on the cover of Ninth Grade Slays), ten (10) temporary tattoos of Vlad’s name in Elysian Code (his Mark), and autographed copies of Eighth Grade Bites (paperback) and Ninth Grade Slays (hardcover).” Note: there’s also a spooky-cool first and second prize. See deadline and details!

Enter to win from the Texas Book Festival! Grand prize: VIP Trip for two to the Texas Book Festival in Austin from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. Second prize: Fort Worth Arts and Culture Tour. Third prize: Barnes & Noble and Gift Basket & Gift Card. Check out the amazing details (airline tickets, spa resort, and much more)!

UPDATE: authors to be featured at the 2008 festival include: Kathi Appelt; Shana Burg; Melissa de la Cruz; Heather Vogel Frederick; Shannon Hale; Varian Johnson; Laurie Keller; Christopher S. Jennings; Marisa Montes; Yuyi Morales; Lauren Myracle; Margo Rabb; Tanya Lee Stone; Philip Yates; Paula Yoo; and Jennifer Ziegler. See the complete list.

More News

This book trailer celebrates Little Night by Yuyi Morales (Roaring Brook, 2007) winning the SCBWI Golden Kite award for children’s book illustration. Source: René Colato Laínez at La Bloga.

Is That a Statuette in Your Pants, or Are You Just Trying to Impress Me? from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: “Having won a Newbery in the 70’s isn’t jumping-up-and-down exciting, but it’s still interesting. Having won your junior high’s highest honor two weeks ago for this very manuscript is so unimportant I can’t believe you care.”

Children’s thoughts about parents who go off to war by Karen MacPherson from ScrippsNews. “…normal doesn’t equal easy when your parents are in the military, as author Deborah Ellis eloquently demonstrates in her new book, Off to War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children (Groundwood, 2008). A companion volume, Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees, will be published in January.”

A Conversation With Laurie Halse Anderson by University of South Florida Professor of English Education Joan F. Kaywell and her son Stephen, a King High School junior from the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. Peek: “Every time I lose myself in a story, I come out knowing that this is what I was put on the planet to do.” Note: Laurie’s site has been updated to add her latest book, Chains (Simon & Schuster, 2008). Don’t miss the bibliography and teacher’s guide.

See also Genre-bending from Laurie at Mad Woman in the Forest. Peek: “And your heart says, ‘I’m not in the mood for YA right now, but I have a great historical fiction idea.’ So you follow your heart and write for a couple of years and turn in the historical novel and what is going to be the reaction at your publishing house? In all likelihood, there will be a deafening silence.”

Book Blocks by Jenny Rappaport at Lit Soup. Peek: “This is an open invitation for any author who has a book coming out to write up a short piece about one of the building blocks of their upcoming book. It can be about the characters, the plot, the theme, the actual writing structure, the idea behind the novel (or non-fiction work), the worldbuilding, etc.”

Meet the Author: Jack Gantos from Reading Rockets. Source: BookMoot.

Spendor in the Slush from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: “The first person who has to love what you create is you. After that, you have to raise your manuscript right and teach it good manners. It should know how to play nicely with others. It should be strong, but unafraid to be human. It should know how to offer the best of itself to the people it loves.”

Futuristic, Speculative, Science Fiction and Dystopian Fiction for Young Adults: newly updated from Jen Robinson’s Book Page.

A cuddly invention inspires Karen Hesse’s captivating new novel by Deborah Hopkinson from BookPage. Peek: “Where would I be without archived newspapers? Some days I feel like the nursery rhyme character, Jack Horner, who sticks in his thumb and pulls out a plum.”

Q and A with Terry Pratchett by Mike Levy from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “There are some people who research my work obsessively, who claim that they can follow the philosophy of my life by reading my books consecutively. I don’t really agree.” Source: Confessions of a Bibliovore.

Personalizing versus Kissing Up from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “…anyone deliberately not personalizing is shooting their query in the foot, and then stomping on it and telling the query it was actually left in a bundle by the stork and its real parents are trolls from another planet.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Query Letter Project from Janni Lee Simner at Desert Dispatches. Janni shares the query letter to Bones of Faerie (Random House, 2009). Note: this is part of a larger series of posts by various authors in which various they share their query letters.

Fresh New Voice of YA- Terri Clark Interview from Book Chic. Peek: “Sleepless [(HarperTeen, 2008)] came from my own fascination with dreams and a series of Denver Post articles that ran on violent criminals who pretended insanity so they would get sentenced to a mental hospital instead of jail. At some point I put the two ideas together and Sleepless was born.”

Cool enough for the New York Times bestseller list: an interview with Lisa McMann from Calvin College. Peek: “Some folks believe that authors who write about real issues are in fact endorsing bad behavior and teens will believe that it’s okay for them to do drugs or get pregnant too because they read about it in a book. …give yourself some credit for teaching your child morals, and more importantly, give your teen some credit—if she’s reading books for fun, she’s not a dunderhead.”

‘Potter’ Author Wins Copyright Ruling by The Associated Press from The New York Times. Peek: “The author of the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling, has won her claim that a fan violated her copyright with his plans to publish a Potter encyclopedia.” Source: The Horn Book.

Imaginary Friends: You’re Never Quite Alone with this Accomplished Artist and Storyteller: an article about Tony DiTerlizzi from Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion. Peek: “What I’ve found to be crucial is something that no one teaches in art school. Learning your craft and creating a good story is certainly half of your challenge, but a big portion of your success has to do with your people skills.”

Finalists for the Writers’ League of Texas Teddy Award are: We Are One by Larry Dane Brimmer (Calkins Creek); The Bee Tree by Stephen Buchmann and Diana Cohn, illustrated by Paul Mirocha (Cinco Puntos); The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous by Suzanne Crowley (HarperCollins)(author interview); The Red Queen’s Daughter by Jacqueline Kolosov (Hyperion); and Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb (Delacorte). Note: Greg Leitich Smith won the award in 2004 for Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown, 2003).

Query Letter Phrasing to Reconsider from Bookends LCC – A Literary Agency. Peek: “Don’t demean yourself or your work. I should be overjoyed to continue receiving submissions from authors and should be lucky to have the opportunity to read your work. Treat yourself and your work with pride. It will get you further.”

Congratulations to That Bookstore in Blytheville on its 32nd Anniversary! Source: GalleyCat.

Congratulations to Adam Selzer on the release of I Put a Spell on You: From the Files of Chrissie Woodward, Spelling Bee Detective (Delacorte, 2008)! From the promotional copy: “Come spelling bee season, the tiny town of Preston erupts in excitement: the bee is televised, and the hottest ticket in town. This year, an assortment of sixth-grade miscreants is going for the top prize: Jennifer, an over-scheduled free spirit whose parents are obsessed with her college applications; Mutual, a previously home-schooled outsider who’s enrolled in public school for the first time in order to participate in the bee; Harlan, the class clown who has spectacular plans for making the most of his time in the spotlight; and Chrissie, the constant observer, who suspects something is off at the bee and will stop at nothing to get to the truth. Principal Floren is acting shady to everyone—but, as he insists, ‘I am not a crook.'”

The News from Andrew Karre at The Flux Blog. Peek: “I am leaving Flux and Llewellyn on September 26 to take the editorial directorship of Carolrhoda, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group in Minneapolis, where I will be acquiring children’s books of all sorts for all ages (including YA).” Note: congratulations to Andrew! I know he’ll be missed at Flux, but Carolrhoda is lucky to get him. Read a Cynsations interview with Andrew.

Who’s Moving Where? from Harold Underdown at The Purple Crayon. A resource for folks trying to track the latest news and staff changes at children’s book publishers. Read a Cynsations interview with Harold.

Three Things in Undone by Brooke Taylor. Brooke showcases photos of the real-world settings behind her debut novel, Undone (Walker, 2008).

Heinlein’s Fan Mail Solution from Conceptual Trends and Current Topics. Peek: “In the days before the Internet, Heinlein’s solution was fabulous. He created a one page FAQ answer sheet–minus the questions. Then he, or rather his wife Ginny, checked off the appropriate answer and mailed it back.” Source: Editorial Ass.

“The Interview” by Marion Tickner from The Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “It’s a good idea to record the interview, whether it’s taken in person or over the telephone. And make sure the recorder is turned on. (I’ve had that experience–concluded my interview and found I hadn’t turned on the recorder.)”

Censorship and The Right to Read from my main site. Note: feel free to suggest a resource. I’m going to feature the various pages from CYALR in order for the next several weeks and request link submissions. Note: ALA Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is Sept. 27 to Oct. 4.

Author-illustrator Don Tate offers a taste of his school-and-library visit presentations; learn more.

Picture Book Author Advance Survey from Barbara Kanninen, Children’s Author and Adventure Economist. Peek: “When someone responds to the survey, I immediately send my previous report (which is currently based on 50-some responses) to that person. After that, I will send the entire group updated reports whenever I collect enough responses to warrant a new report.” Source: Kidlit Central News.

Writers and Depression by Nancy Etchemendy from the Horror Writers Association. A frank discussion of warning signs and why writers are so vulnerable. Be good to each other out there. Take care of yourselves. Note: I run this link a couple of times a year.

Life, Craft, Art by Zu Vincent from Through the Tollbooth. A discussion and response to The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates (Harper, 2004). Peek: “Have your journal ready. Sit with the essays at a coffee shop or on a rock at the creek and open an inner dialogue. Respond to Oates’ journey with notes on your own. We all have gold in our passion for this strange persuasion to create. Mine it.” Read a Cynsations interview with Zu.

Aha Moments by Melissa Stewart from I.N.K.: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: “Some people still ask me why I’ve never written a book for adults. Others want to know if I’ll ever write a novel. But these questions no longer bother me.”

Do You Look at Rejections? by Agent Kristin from Pub Rants. Peek: “Considering that 90% of the population wants to write a novel but never have the guts to go for it, being in the game is a huge thing. Even though it sucks, rejections are a badge of honor.”

Check out the book trailer for Skinned by Robin Wasserman (Simon Pulse, 2008):

Mark Your Calendars

YA Author Justine Larbalestier is touring in celebration of her wonderful new novel How To Ditch Your Fairy (Bloomsbury, 2008)!

From Scott Westerfeld: “Next week, she’ll be in northern California, then doing a couple of dates near home. In October, she’ll be in Ohio and Michigan, and in Texas for November. (I’ll be traveling with her some of the time, and maybe popping in to say ‘hi’ in a few places, but this is her tour, not mine. I will be officially appearing at BookPeople in Austin, though…).”

See the schedule for details. UPDATE: see Justine’s page for the latest additions/corrections/changes!

Note: I want a doubles-my-writing-time fairy.

Coming Soon

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.

Second Annual Kidlit Bloggers Conference is scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel. The Sheraton has extended conference rates between Sept. 24-Sept. 29, if you wish to stay longer. The room must be booked by Sept. 12 to get the special rate. Cost: $60 (dinner included); $30 for the dinner alone. See more information and registration. Source: Tracy Grand of JacketFlap.

The Youth Literature Festival, sponsored by the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be Oct. 4. All events are free and open to the public and will be held at various locations across the Urbana-Champaign community. Speakers will include: Ashley Bryan; Betsy Hearne; Dan Keding; W. Nikola-Lisa; Alice McGinty; Patricia Hruby Powell; Melodye Rosales; Marc Aronson; Susan Campbell Bartoletti; Chris Crutcher; Jan Spivey Gilchrist; Jennifer Holm; Paul Jancezko; Francisco Jimenez; M. E. Kerr; Robert Lipsyte; Robert San Souci; Cynthia Leitich Smith; Joyce Carol Thomas; Richard Van Camp; and Janet Wong. See more information. Hope to see you there!

A Picture Book Primer: Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books with Keith Graves from The Writers’ League of Texas. Dates: Oct. 7; Oct. 30; Nov. 18. “Animator and picture book author and illustrator Keith Graves will guide students through the process of writing and illustrating a picture book. Students will bring in rough manuscripts or ideas, along with sketches or ideas, which will be developed over the course of three meetings into a book dummy for presentation. Students will receive one-on-one instruction, and participate in group critiques and discussions. This class will require some work to be done at home between classes.” See more information.

The first annual Hill Country Book Festival will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Georgetown Public Library (Georgetown, Texas). 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.

“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.

The Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program now offers a one-semester graduate-level picture book certificate program. Note: “The picture book certificate program is modeled after a regular MFA-WC&YA semester with a few additional components.”

Online Events

Reminder: I’ll be appearing twice to discuss Tantalize and related forthcoming books in October on the Eye4You Alliance Island at Second Life. From School Library Journal: “There will be two appearances, the first on the main grid of Second Life (for those 18 and over) on Oct. 14, and again on Oct. 28 on the teen grid of Teen Second.” See more information.


If you’re submitting a book for interview/recommendation, please read the guidelines. Please don’t send me an e-mail “pitch” for the book. Please don’t call me at home. Thanks!

More Personally

I thought y’all might enjoy seeing the gorgeous roses Greg sent in celebration of our 14th wedding anniversary, which was last week!

This week has been a quiet one, largely spent revising my graphic novel adaptation of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008). It’s told from Kieren’s point of view and includes many new scenes.

My thoughts also have been with the victims of 9-11, their surviving loved ones, and others affected by the tragedy.

Austin SCBWI‘s Day with an Editor, scheduled for Sept. 13, has been postponed due to Hurricane Ike. I’ll keep y’all posted on that.

To folks from Houston-Galveston and surrounding areas, stay safe! To the evacuees headed this way (or already here), welcome to Austin! Note: for Saturday, according to News 8, we’re expecting “wind gusts up to 25-40 mph by noon” and “briefly heavy rain bands, mostly east of I-35.”

Thanks so much to everyone who sent cheers regarding the 10th anniversary of, and a special thanks to author Kimberly Griffiths Little, who blogged about it, to author Sara Zarr, who blogged about it, to illustrator Gail Maki Wilson, who blogged about it, and to author-illustrator Don Tate, who blogged about it, too! Note: if I missed your cheers, please send the URL!

Thank you to Debbi Michiko Florence for highlighting the Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) sighting at her local Borders! Read a Cynsations interview with Debbi.

Thank you to Druzelle Cederquist at Luminous Realities for naming Cynsations among her favorite blogs! Visit Luminous Realities: Exploring the Creative Process: A Writer’s View of “Walking the Mystical Way with Practical Feet.

It made me smile to read Carmen Oliver’s blog post about four of my favorite Austin area writers on a writers’ retreat in Kingsland, Texas.