Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win Listening for Crickets by David Gifaldi (Henry Holt, 2008)!

From the promotional copy: “Can a ten-year-old protect his little sister from the harsh world around them?”

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 Nov. 3! OR, if you’re on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Nov. 3!

But DON’T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I’ll contact you for it if you win.

Please also type “Crickets” in the subject line. Peek: “I collected rejections in a special box set on a shelf in my closet, and waited for the mail every day, hoping for good news. Mostly what I received were rejections. Yet I was proud of that bulging box.”

Read a Cynsations interview with David.

Enter to win one of three author autographed copies of The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by David Small (Atheneum, 2008)(excerpt). From the promotional copy:

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 Oct. 27! OR, if you’re on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Oct. 27! 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 “Underneath” in the subject line. Read a Cynsations interview with Kathi.

Note: both David and Kathi are fellow faculty members of mine at the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. I will be returning to VCFA for the January 2009 residency, and I’m very excited about it!

The winners of autographed copies of The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2008) were Sandy at the Liberty Hill Public Library in Liberty Hill, Texas; Margay in Massachusetts; and Tashia in Michigan.


The Great Pumpkin Contest Revealed: Lee “L.A.” Verday is sponsoring a contest at MySpace. The grand prize is an autographed paperback copy of Tantalize with a Tantalize bookmark.

Additional prizes include a copy of The Elite by Jennifer Banash (Berkley Trade, 2008); two copies of two copies of Chris Grimly’s illustrated book inspired by Washington Irving‘s tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow;” a DVD copy of “Sleepy Hollow,” starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, and spooky cool stickers celebrating the release of Jessica Verday‘s The Hollow (Simon Plus, fall 2009)!

Here’s how to enter: Carve or paint a pumpkin, take a picture, and post it to MySpace. Then–and this is important–tag the photo to Lee so it appears in her photos. Special bonus goodies for anyone who carves or paints with a sleepy hollow twist. The winners will be chosen on Halloween and notified Nov. 1st. Note: if pumpkins are sold out, you can draw one.

More News

Congratulations to Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, the debut author of Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different (Delacorte, 2008)(excerpt); check out the book trailer below:

Author Visit: Kristin O’Donnell Tubb from Jessica Burkart’s Blog. Peek: “If you are truly passionate about writing, you’ll do it every chance you get – but that’s likely not every day. And just because you don’t write every day doesn’t mean you are less of a writer.”

“The Christian Science Monitor is sponsoring the 13th annual Young Poets Contest. Winning entries will be published in the newspaper in early January. Eligibility: students in preschool through high school. Deadline: Dec. 2.” Source: PEN Weekly NewsBlast.

35 Going on 13: Teen Books for Adults: a new blog by Angelina Benedetti from the King City Library System (Washington). Peek: “While many of today’s teen readers easily navigate the teen collection and fully appreciate the depth and breadth of what is being published for them, those of us new to this world need a place to start.” Note: Angelina’s October roundup is fantastic! Source: Original Content.

The 2008 Nominations for the Cybils Awards. Peek: “If you don’t see a book you suggested, it’s likely on another list. We did a little horse-swapping behind the scenes as some books didn’t quite fit the category where they’d been nominated.” Congratulations to all of the nominees! Read a Cynsations interview with Kelly Herold and Anne Boles Levy on The Cybils.

“Yikes! It’s M. T. Anderson:” an interview with the author on horror writing from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “One of the things that I think makes this particular clutch of early Gothic novels resonate still is that (like Shelley‘s Frankenstein) they are about identity and they investigate that in a really troubling way. They don’t externalize the evil, but instead trouble us by connecting the hero with an evil so sticky it can’t be wiped off–it keeps clinging and burning.” Also enter to win “a deluxe M. T. Anderson prize package…filled to the gills with all kinds of nifty M. T. Anderson stuff.”

Actress Kenya Brome: an interview by author Shana Burg with the voice behind the audio CD adaptation of A Thousand Never Evers (Listening Library, 2008). Peek: “‘I felt like I was contributing to the civil rights movement by helping to convey some of what life was like for black people in this country not too long ago.'” See also Shana’s interview with her father on Being a Civil Rights Lawyer in Alabama in the 1960s. Read a Cynsations interview with Shana. Note: Along with Kathi’s The Underneath and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer‘s The Floating Circus (Bloomsbury, 2008), one of my top picks for middle graders this year.

CBAY Books: an imprint of Blooming Tree. Love the kicker: “Creating the Banned Books of Tomorrow.” See submission guidelines. Check out the editor’s blog, Buried in the Slush Pile.

A Day in the Life: Book Publicity by Amy Ehrenreich, senior publicist at Random House Children’s Books. Peek: “Usually I’m in the office by 8:45 a.m. and out around 7:30 p.m. The first thing I do each day is…” Source: Elizabeth Scott.

Sarah Ellis: Writer, Reader, Storyteller: official author site. Don’t miss the message from Smollet the Cat. Peek: “Sarah Ellis is my human and she spends far too much time reading and writing. She fritters away her time with books when she could be…” Note: my cats also are online. See: Mercury’s page, Sebastian’s page, and Kit Lit: Cat-Themed Picture Books.

Following the Cyber Trail by Robin LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “Pick a recently published, successful book that is similar to yours in tone and genre and (most important) potential audience. Then, using the miracle that is Google…”

kidswriterjfox: a blog from author Janet S. Fox. Peek: “a window into one writer’s world, from thoughts about writing technique to musings about my experiences.” Learn more about Texas Authors and Illustrators.

Check out the book trailer for The Ghosts of Luckless Gulch, an original tall tale by Anne Isaacs, illustrated by Dan Santat (Atheneum, Nov. 2008)(excerpt):

Soul Enchilada Supremes: a fan network for David Macinnis Gill‘s debut fantasy. See also: Authors on the Verge: Meet David Macinnis Gill, middle grade novelist from Cynthea Liu at Writing for Children and Teens. Peek: “It feels every bit as nerve-wracking as being on the unsold side. Only the model of racks has changed. The self-doubting questions have changed from ‘will an editor ever buy this?’ to “will a reader ever buy this?'”

“So Much to Compare” by Daphne Grab from The Longstockings. Peek: “Comparing my experience, my publicity, readings, etc. to that of other authors seemed the best way to understand if what I had was good or not. It sounds crazy as I write it, but it’s really how I felt.” Note: this is one of the best years for debut authors in recent memory. Hooray for you all!

Graphic Novels: resources from Cynthia Leitich Smith Children’s Literature Resources. Note: Cynsations is now actively seeking submissions of graphic novels published for the children’s-YA markets for author-illustrator interviews, etc. See guidelines and contact information. See my really cool new graphic novels page designed by the miracle that is Lisa Firke at Hit Those Keys AKA my Web goddess.

Talking with Mary Downing Hahn: the award-winning author discusses the inspirations behind her hair-raising ghost stories by Angela Leeper from Book Links. Peek: “Children have taught me that they love a good story—especially if it’s scary. Or funny. Or exciting. Or magical. Just so it’s not boring.” Note: Book Links is “the [ALA] magazine that has been helping librarians, teachers, and parents connect children with high-quality books for more than 15 years.” Note: it’s also an excellent source of book lists according to subject matter for writers as reader researchers.

Mary Ann Hoberman Named Children’s Poet Laureate: whether writing about llamas in pajamas or befuddled fauna, her poems are always about the puzzlement of language by Michael Atkinson from Poetry Foundation. Peek: “The best children’s poets look at the subjects most parents are terrified of introducing to their little children—death, for instance—and invite them, gracefully, to dance.” Source: Pamela Ross.

Hurricane Ike Recovery Fund for Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas. Peek: “The Children’s Department, Technical Services, Circulation Department and Operations were located on the first Floor and all are gone. [emphasis added]” See more information. Note: Please consider yourself encouraged to pass on this blurb and link. The media has moved on to other stories, but efforts to deal with the aftermath are ongoing.

JacketFlap: “a social networking community where you can connect with more than 3,000 published authors and illustrators of books for Children and Young Adults.” Note: These days it’s easy to feel overly networked, but JF is well worth the effort. Read a Cynsations interview with CEO Tracy Grand on JacketFlap.

Congratulations to Texas author Claudia Guadalupe Martinez on the publication of her debut novel, The Smell of Old Lady Perfume (Cinco Puntos, 2008)! Read an interview with Claudia from Cinco Puntos Blog, and look for her at the Texas Book Festival.

Lisa McMann: redesigned author site and contest. Peek: “Have you reviewed or blogged about Wake (Simon Pulse, 2008)? Or maybe shared the love in another way? If so, you are eligible to win. If not, you still have time to become eligible!” Deadline: Nov. 25. See more contest information. Note: I’ve read an ARC of Fade (Simon Pulse, Feb. 2009), and it’s excellent! More on that later!

The June Franklin Naylor Award for the Best Book for Children on Texas History, endowed by the family of June Franklin Naylor and sponsored by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, is given annually to the author/illustrator of the most distinguished book for children and young adults, grades K-12, that accurately portrays the history of Texas, whether fiction or nonfiction. Submission deadline: Dec. 31. See guidelines. Note: previous winners include Anne Bustard for Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Read a Cynsations interview with Anne.

“I Didn’t Weep During My Speech” by Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape. A report on the Jane Addams Book Awards and the text of Mitali’s speech. Peek: “I wrote Rickshaw Girl for my great-grandmother, and for girls today in Bangladesh who still don’t have many choices.” Note: consider this link required reading; get a tissue first. See also: Should Authors Describe a Character’s Race? by Mitali. Note: a fascinating discussion; don’t miss the comments or Jenny Han’s related thoughts at The Longstockings. On a related note, with regard to Native American characters, I would add that including tribal affiliation is important (unless it’s outside the narrator’s available informaton and, therefore, point of view). Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

M. J. Rose on Book Marketing from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “The question is how many books have succeeded without any pr and marketing and the answer to that is very very few.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Meet the Author: Maggie Stiefvater from Reality Bypass. Peek: “All of my villains are me. Well, they’re a tiny part of me, exaggerated (hopefully) beyond recognition. But I think that the truest villains are the ones you can sympathize with. That you can see why they’re being evil.” Read a Cynsations interview with Maggie.

Monster Month of Giveaways: Faerie Week at Brooke Taylor Books. Enter to win a prize pack!

Take a Chance on Art: purchase one or more $5 raffle tickets to enter to win illustrator Don Tate‘s painting “Duke Ellington,” and support the Texas Library Association Disaster Relief Fund. Note: it’s especially important this year in light of devastation caused by Hurricane Ike. To learn more, read interviews with TLA librarian Jeanette Larson and illustrator Don Tate. Note: I’ve seen the piece in person, and it’s absolutely outstanding! Please consider yourself encouraged to pass on this blurb and link. As mentioned above, Gulf Coast libraries have been hard hit and need our support!

The Writer on the Factory Floor by Coert Voorhees at Crowe’s Nest. A first-rate essay on research. Peek: “I don’t believe that research should be simply a matter of gathering information before sitting down to write. I’ve found that the most helpful aspect of research can often be finding out how wrong my initial attempts are.”

Writer Tip: it’s increasingly common to find agents who work in the adult lit market (and may or may not also represent YA) in the kidlitosphere, which is a great thing. However, keep in mind that some of their insights into publishing may not be applicable to the youth-lit market specifically.

More Personally

In response to Jay Asher’s senioritis challenge, I’m offering my junior-year picture (circa 1985), which is the only teen one I have access to at the moment. Read a Cynsations interview with Jay.

Reminder: in case you missed it, Susan Gray interviewed me at Gottawrite Girl! Peek: “…my first book was one of the few that was first bought by one publishing company (Lodestar), produced by a second (Morrow Junior), and released by a third (HarperCollins). Whew!”

This past week’s highlights included The Austin Youth Lit Social — Spooky Style. Read my report, Greg‘s, Jo Whittemore’s, P.J. Hoover’s, Jennifer Ziegler’s, and Jody Feldman‘s. Don’t miss Shana Burg’s party tie-in essay, “Beware: Apples Fall Far From Tree.” Note: I should be credited for one apple, and Greg had another this week!

And we enjoyed Debbie Gonzales‘ speech on writing the sports novel at the October monthly meeting of Austin SCBWI.

Greg and I also had the honor of speaking at Dr. Judy Leavell’s children’s literature class Monday night at St. Edward’s University in south Austin. Thanks to Judy and all for your hospitality! Note: we hope no one was injured when I tossed a hardcover into the middle of the room. Next time, I’ll come up with a more elegant approach to the giveaways.

I’m enjoying the spooky season, though my pumpkins have become a donation to the local squirrel community. They and/or the crows have also made off with six “decorative” ears of corn. It’s been amusing.

In terms of mail, I love to hear from my YA readers (and make every effort to write back), but please understand that I’m not available to read, critique, or proof writing. There are time and legal limitations, and if I said yes, my agent would pelt me with fuzzy bunnies.

Writing-wise, I’ve finished up a guide to the Tantalize (and Beyond) Universe, which was a necessary step in writing Blessed. I could hold it all in my head through Eternal (Candlewick, Feb. 2009), but once I hit book 3, I needed to pause and compile a serious cheat sheet–20 pages, single-spaced, encyclopedia-style.

Speaking of Eternal, I have an ARC in the house and look forward to announcing the gorgeous cover art and flap copy as soon as Candlewick gives me the green light next month.

On a related note, a huge thanks to Brittmet Bear for the spiffy, spooky redesign of the Tantalize Fans Unite! group at MySpace! To all, the continuing enthusiasm and support is most appreciated!

Reminder: if you would like a signed bookplate, you’re welcome to email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address.

Reminder: I’ll be appearing to discuss Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and related forthcoming books Oct. 28 on the teen grid of Teen Second at Second Life. See more information.

More Events

Celebrate the release of The Forgotten Worlds Book 1: The Emerald Tablet by P. J. Hoover (Blooming Tree, 2008) at 4 p.m. Oct. 26 at BookPeople in Austin, Texas! From the promotional copy: “Benjamin and his best friend Andy are different from normal. They love being able to read each other’s minds and use telekinesis to play tricks on other kids. In fact, they are getting all set to spend their entire summer doing just that when Benjamin’s mirror starts talking. Suddenly, Benjamin’s looking at eight weeks of summer school someplace which can only be reached by a teleporter inside the ugly picture in his hallway. And that’s the most normal thing he does all summer.” Read a Cynsations interview with P. J. Note: The Emerald Tablet is on Blooming Tree’s CBAY imprint debut list, and P. J. is a debut author to watch!

Austin Jewish Book Fair 2008: “The Silver Anniversary Edition will feature author lectures and discussions, photography, politics, humor, the annual Book Lovers’ Luncheon, Civil Rights Sunday, youth author events, and Texas Book Festival appearances.” Note: author Shana Burg will speak with her father, Harvey Burg, at 10 a.m. Nov. 9 at JCC Community Hall.

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: sponsored by the Texas Book Festival in cooperation with the museum.

Texas Book Festival will be Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 in Austin. 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; Emma J. Virjan; and Jennifer Ziegler. See the complete list.

The Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators will be hosting its annual holiday party from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at BookPeople (6th and Lamar) in Austin. The event will include: panels on writing picture books, on writing middle grade novels, on writing YA novels; author signings; and much more!

“Connections and 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.