Cynsational News

Tomorrow morning I leave for The Youth Literature Festival, sponsored by the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which takes place 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.

Greg graduated with an electrical engineering degree from Illinois, and we’ve visited once before. I look forward to the event as well as to visiting Native America House and two local schools. Note: I will not be checking email until I return to Austin; Cynsations will resume posting on Monday.

Thank you to HipWriterMama for her cheers on the 10-year anniversary of! Follow the ongoing celebration here!

The winner of the autographed copy of Pilot Pups, by Michelle Meadows, illustrated by Dan Andreasen (Simon & Schuster, 2008)(excerpt) is Mila in California!

Congratulations, Mila, and thank you, Michelle! Read a Cynsations interview with Michelle!

Breaking News: Michelle reports that she has just finished working on revisions for the second book about these pup heroes with her Simon & Schuster editor Kevin Lewis. In Biker Pups (Pub Date TBA), the pups will zoom through town as motorcycle police officers.” Yay for pups!

I’m hard at work on Blessed, which will crossover the casts of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, March 2009).

The novel is set in September in Austin, and so I’ve been making particular note of the weather and mood of the city.

I’m also working steadily on a guide–for my own personal use–to my universe. I was able to hold it all in my head until now.

But with two previous novels and two previous short stories, my brain may be at its quick-recall capacity.

Diana Rodriguez Wallach, author of Amor and Summer Secrets (Kensington, September 2008) was kind enough to send in this photo of Tantalize, taken at a bookstore in Delaware.

Also identifiable in the picture are a couple of books from Ellen Shreiber‘s Vampire Kisses series (HarperCollins, ongoing) and Amanda Marrone’s Uninvited (Simon Pulse, 2007). Read a Cynsations interview with Amanda.

Congratulations to Diana on her new release! From the promotional copy: “Fifteen-year-old Mariana Ruiz has no desire to step foot outside her affluent Philadelphia suburb. But she may not have a choice.

“With total disregard to the high-glam Sweet 16 her best friend is hosting, Mariana’s father ships her off to a tiny mountain town in Puerto Rico to stay with family she’s never met.

“The heat is merciless, the food is spicy, and only one of her relatives—her distant cousin Lilly—speaks English. Her consolation prize is Lilly’s homespun Puerto Rican Quinceãnera.

“Only the riotously festive party exposes Mariana to more than just her culture. She uncovers new friends, her first love, and a family secret that’s been buried on the island for more than 30 years.”

Read the story behind the story, and watch the book trailer.

Visit Diana at MySpace.

Attention: LJ readers! I’m aware that the fashion is to use a cut line for longer posts of this nature, but after much playing with the command, I can’t seem to get it to work. I need to leave the interviews long because they’re back-up files for the main site. But please know this long links post is a function of my incompetence, not a lack of consideration. Note: any tips appreciated. I’m sadly clueless. Maybe it’s a Mozilla thing?

Attention: YA Librarians! Don’t miss the Cynsations Teen Read Week Books with Bite Giveaway!

More News

“READ” in Native Languages from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature. Peek: “For those of you who are preparing materials for November (Native American month), download the graphic. Put it on display, surrounded by books by Native writers.” Note: don’t miss the new Native Youth Lit widget, available now from JacketFlap!

Making a public confession by Barbara Caridad Ferrer at Abriendo Puertas: Opening Doors. Peek: “So She Dances, the YA I had scheduled to come out next summer that was the contemporary reinterpretation of Bizet’s ‘Carmen,’ has been canceled by the publisher. Why? Well, your guess is as good as mine.” Note: First, my condolences to the author. Beyond that…canceled contracts do happen and more frequently than many realize. My picture book Jingle Dancer was canceled when Lodestar was bought out and eliminated (it shortly afterward resold to Morrow, just before the Harper merger and survived that one). A short story collection to which I contributed also was canceled by two different houses. Source: Elizabeth Scott.

28 Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature: Submissions for the 2009 28 Days later spotlights are ongoing! Read a Cynsations interview with the founders of The Brown Bookshelf. Note: please support this important initiative through links and related announcements.

28 Days Later: 2009 from YA author Varian Johnson, co-founder of the The Brown Bookshelf, at They Call Me Mr. V. Varian echoes the launch of the 2009 call for nominations and discusses why the initiative is important. He highlights and responds to a new essay “Limited Options: The dearth of books written for African-American teens is glaring” by Denene Millner (Publishers Weekly, Sept. 8, 2008). Peek from Varian: “African-American authors are a dying breed, a breed which I fear may become extinct if we don’t do a better job of supporting both established and emerging talent.” Read a Cynsations interview with Varian.

Behind the Book: From the Desk Of…Laurie Halse Anderson from Simon & Schuster [on Why She Wrote Chains (Simon & Schuster, 2008)]. Peek: “I knew about the slaves of Jefferson and Washington, but Ben Franklin? I loved Franklin, I adored him. How could he own slaves?”

Dear Author, Don’t Be a Jerk. No, Really by Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted at Red Room: Where the Writers Are. Peek: “Don’t Respond To Wholly Negative Reviews. It seems obvious, and yet how often do you see writers fighting their own battles in the Letters to the Editor section of the NYTBR?”

Check out pg. 41 of the Pottery Barn Kids Halloween catalog to see a young girl reading Annette Simon’s Mocking Birdies (Simply Read, 2005).

Reminder: The Book Transfusion by Devyn Burton – YA Author. Devyn is coordinating a “book raising” event for hospitals in lower east Michigan. Peek: “Being in the hospital so much I noticed a trend, teens in the hospital had two options–A) color and do crafts meant for a six year old or option B) ‘suck it up’ like an adult watch TV all day. That is unacceptable, we need something to occupy our minds as well—and even if you did partake in options A & B, you can only color and watch TV so much! A book is a wonderful tool for anyone in the hospital.” Note: YA authors, publishers, businesses, readers, there are ways that all of you can help! Just blogging the link will help!

They Tried to Ban This Book Today, or, There’s a Sticker on the Cover of This Book by Little Willow at Slayground. Peek: “They are going to keep this book in the library – and (partially, lightly, barely, noticeably) deface it.”

Sara Zarr on balancing the personal and the professional [in your blog]: a report by April Henry from the Kitlitosphere Conference. Peek: “Don’t be Debbie Downer with nothing but a string of posts about how publishing sucks.”

Neesha S. Meminger: an author interview at Fumbling with Fiction. Peek: “It was amazing to see that I knew the answers to my editor’s questions, but hadn’t put them on the page where they needed to be. And that answering those questions took me to greater depths in the plot, pacing, and character building of my novel. It was exhilarating to be working on the novel with someone who was as enthusiastic as I was about it.” See Neesha’s official author site.

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth, Jump Up and Down on Your Cake, and Reprogram All of Your Appliances from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: “…not one, not two, but five editors had worked on revising it. On the day of publication, not one word of the original manuscript remained. This was no longer the manuscript I’d submitted and no longer the manuscript I loved.”

Pondering Self-Publishing
: a podcast from Just One More Book. Peek: “Today we stray from our standard format for an unplanned and extremely rambly chat about our observations of and unqualified opinions about self-publishing children’s books.” Note: Cynsations has previously featured two unusually successful self-published authors, Debbie Leland and Jerry Wermund.

What Constitutes Good Sales for a Literary Novel? from Editorial Ass. Note: stipulates that she’s talking adult, not children’s/YA, but still interesting from our POV.

One on One with Author, Sara Ryan from Melody Simpson at Hollywood The Write Way. Peek: “I saw Battle’s brother being sort of a Puck character. As I wrote it I saw that even though it seemed like he was never phased by anything, (he just deceived people and moved on) there is some level that you can’t really see where all of the damage that he does really affects him.” Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

Shadowed Summer: official site of the novel by Saundra Mitchell. Includes: summary, excerpt, press kit, author bio, secrets (inside scoop), soundtrack, printable bookmarks, widget, and classroom resources (vocabulary lists, writing prompts, reading list). Note: excellent example of book-specific site; authors/publishers should study as a model; readers should take advantage of this peek into Saundra’s world. Read Saundra’s LJ.

Think Early and Think Often from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: “Do editors ever Google an author, then decide not to work with them based on political beliefs?” See also a post from Editorial Anonymous on why picture book production takes so long.

“What I Know Now…”: post-publication insights from Lauren Barnholdt. Peek: “It’s kind of like if you ask out a guy, and he turns you down. Big deal, right? It might sting for a while, but you find a new guy. But if you’ve been dating that guy for a year and suddenly he breaks up with you, it’s kind of devastating. Being published does not make things easier, it makes things harder. Because of…” Note: smart, savvy, and spot on.

The Well-Read Child: “my mission is simple–get kids to read. I feature book reviews, reading tips, and learning activities you can use to help instill the joy of reading in your child.”

“Who’s It For?” musings and a first-rate link selection from author Liz Garton Scanlon. Read a Cynsations interview with Liz.

“Choices. Choices. Choices.” by Helen Hemphill at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “What a character wants is something both psychological and moral. ” Read a Cynsations interview with Helen.

Has the Newbery Lost Its Way? Snubbed by kids, disappointing to librarians, the recent winners have few fans by Anita Silvey from School Library Journal. Peek: “I spent the last few months talking to more than 100 people—including media specialists, children’s librarians, teachers, and booksellers—in 15 states across the country. Although most spoke on the condition of anonymity, all of them were eager for me to share their insights. Here’s the gist of what I learned.” Source: Read Roger, “Going for the Gold,” which you also should check out.

Posts about the [Kidlitosphere] Conference
from Portland Kidlit. Note: wish I could’ve been there!

How Do You Define Success?
from Children’s Writing Web Journal. Peek: We may all daydream about becoming the next J.K. Rowling, about having throngs of kids line up at midnight to gobble up our new book, of gaining all the fame, fortune, love and respect that seemingly come with mega-stardom.”

Kidlit Blogging Session II: Blog Promotion from MotherReader. Peek: “Jen Robinson pulls together literacy news. Bookshelves of Doom is always on top of book challenges. It’s more than niche reporting.” Source: April Henry.

Congratulations to Tamara Smith on signing with agent Erin Murphy, and congratulations to Erin on signing Tam! Read a Cynsations interview with Erin.

Celebrate Banned Books Week. Source: Bookseller Chick.

How to Give a Successful School Visit and Survive to Tell About It by Don Tate from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “…you can avoid misunderstandings — like not getting paid on the day of the visit — if you create a simple contract.” Read a Cynsations interview with Don.

Character Arcs or “Where Do You Think You’re Going?” by Stephanie Greene at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Why follow the character? What makes their plight/desire/need compelling and how does a writer create that?”

Surf over to nominate a book for a Cybils award! Read a Cynsations interview with Kelly Herold and Anne Boles Levy on The Cybils.

Children’s Picture Book Manuscript Critique Raffle from The Mischief Fights Cancer Raffle. Peek: “One winner will receive a free evaluation of their children’s picture book (manuscript only, between 400 and 1000 words) by Tracy Marchini of the Curtis Brown agency. Comments will be provided in the form of an editorial memo.” Tickets are $10. Note: Tracy is brilliant.

Movie Alert

“Nick & Norah’s Ultimate Playlist” (the movie) debuts tomorrow, Oct. 3, and don’t miss the novel by the same title by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (Knopf, 2006) that started it all!

From the promotional copy: “It all starts when Nick asks Norah to be his girlfriend for five minutes. He only needs five minutes to avoid his ex-girlfriend, who’s just walked in to his band’s show. With a new guy. And then, with one kiss, Nick and Norah are off on an adventure set against the backdrop of New York City—and smack in the middle of all the joy, anxiety, confusion, and excitement of a first date.

“This he said/she said romance told by YA stars Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is a sexy, funny roller coaster of a story about one date over one very long night, with two teenagers, both recovering from broken hearts, who are just trying to figure out who they want to be—and where the next great band is playing.

“Told in alternating chapters, teeming with music references, humor, angst, and endearing side characters, this is a love story you’ll wish were your very own. Working together for the first time, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have combined forces to create a book that is sure to grab readers of all ages and never let them go.”

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.

Real-Space Events

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.

Attention Ohio: Teen Read Week Author Visit: Rachel Caine. Vampires only come out at night – or do they? Find out at special appearances by Rachel Caine, author of the Morganville Vampires series. In keeping with this year’s Teen Read Week theme, “Books With Bite @ Your Library,” Caine will discuss the history of vampires, including fun facts. An open registration for grades 7-12 will begin Oct. 1 and is limited. To register, call 330-744-8636, ext. 149. Boardman, 9:30 a.m., Oct. 14; Poland, 12:30 p.m., Oct. 14. Read a Cynsations interview with Rachel.

Rick Guzman (Austin) will speak at the Oct. 18 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. Note: this event was rescheduled due to Hurricane Ike.

R. L. Stein’s Halloween Party will begin at 3 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Austin Children’s Museum (201 Colorado St.). R. L. Stein will read and tell a communal (audience-participation) ghost story at 3:30 p.m. and sign books from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The event is free, but space is limited to 350. Costumes welcome. Note: Barnes & Noble will be selling books; sponsored by the Texas Book Festival in cooperation with the museum.

“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, editor Kim T. Griswell of Highlights, 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 Tenth Annual Jewish Children’s Book Writers’ Conference is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 23 at the 92nd Street Y (1395 Lexington Avenue) in New York City. The fee is $95 before Nov. 1, $110 after Nov. 1 and includes kosher breakfast and lunch. Featured speakers are associate agent Michelle Andelman of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, publisher David E. Behrman of Behrman House, executive editor Michelle Frey of Alfred A. Knopf and Crown Books for Young Readers, editor Larry Rosler of Boyds Mills Press, director Joni Sussman of Kar-Ben Publishing, and illustrator’s agent Melissa Turk of Melissa Turk & The Artist Network. Award-winning author Johanna Hurwitz will give opening remarks, and the day will include sessions on publishing and writing in Israel, the Sydney Taylor Book Award and Manuscript Competitions, and individual consultations with editors and agents from past conferences. The registration form is available for download (PDF file). Call 212.415.5544 or e-mail for additional information or to request the form by mail. The final registration deadline is Nov. 17.

Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (ALAN) Workshop in San Antonio Nov. 24 to Nov. 25. An event I utterly adore for the depth of discussions, sophistication and dedication of the attendees-leadership, and wonderful company of fellow YA authors. Note: NCTE stands for “National Council of Teachers of English,” which has a preceding conference. Details on my signing and speaking schedule to come.

Educational Opportunity

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.”