Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win one of three hardcover copies of The Robe of Skulls: The First Tale from the Five Kingdoms by Vivian French (Candlewick, 2008)(author interview). From the promotional copy:

High above the mountain village of Fracture, trouble is brewing. The sorceress Lady Lamorna wants a skull-studded gown of deep black velvet, but her treasure chest is empty of gold.

That doesn’t stop her, however–from kidnapping, blackmailing, and using more than a little magic to get what she needs.

Will her plans be foiled by the heroic Gracie Gillypot, two chatty bats, a gallant (if scruffy) prince, the wickedest stepsister ever, a troll with a grudge, and some very ancient crones?

Humorously macabre and wickedly illustrated in black and white, The Robe of Skulls is truly a scream. Fire up your cauldron for an exuberant, fast-moving, wildly entertaining tale with a cast of characters who are good, bad, and very, very ugly.

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.

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 “Skulls” in the subject line. Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah.

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.

Read a Cynsations interview with David.

Winners of signed copies of The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum, 2008) were: Greg of the University of Chicago Charter School, Woodlawn Campus; Yat-Yee of Colorado; and Becky in Texas. Read a Cynsations interview with Kathi.

More Giveaways & Auctions

Leave a Mark Auction: an auction to benefit First Book hosted by The Page Flipper. Between now and Nov. 3, bid to win a copy of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2008) that I’ve marked in the margins with insider tidbits about the writing of the novel and much more.

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.

Codes, Spells, Incantations and Riddles: a contest at Eric Luper’s Random Musings. Peek: “I have listed a bunch of spells, codes, incantations and riddles from different books, movies, songs and television programs. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is not to solve the riddles, but to identify the book, movie, song or program in which the quote appears.” The prize is an author-marked copy of his debut novel, The Big Slick (FSG, 2007), and it will go to the first person to identify all the sources correctly. The contest will run through Nov. 5 (or until someone wins); however, if no one manages to rise to Eric’s challenge he will draw a random winner from the entries. Read a Cynsations interview with Eric.

More Recommended Reads

Bird by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Shandra Strickland (Lee & Low, 2008). From the promotional copy:

“Young Mekhai, better known as Bird, loves to draw. With drawings, he can erase the things that don’t turn out right. In real life, problems aren’t so easily fixed.

“As Bird struggles to understand the death of his beloved grandfather and his older brother’s drug addiction, he escapes into his art. Drawing is an outlet for Bird’s emotions and imagination, and provides a path to making sense of his world. In time, with the help of his grandfather’s friend, Bird finds his own special somethin’ and wings to fly.

“Told with spare grace, Bird is a touching look at a young boy coping with real-life troubles. Readers will be heartened by Bird’s quiet resilience, and moved by the healing power of putting pencil to paper.

“Bird, the recipient of Lee & Low’s New Voices Award Honor, is the first picture book of both Zetta Elliot and Shadra Strickland.”

Read a Lee & Low Book Talk with Zetta Elliot. Peek: “I really hope adults understand that children have questions that need to be answered; silence isn’t always the best response to trauma or crisis. I hope elders realize they are still needed: we need their stories, their wisdom, and their past experiences to help us navigate the present and the future.”

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies (Houghton Mifflin, 2008). From the promotional copy:

“Another inky evening’s here— The air is cool and calm and clear. Can it be true? Oh, can it be? Yes!—Bat Night at the library!

“Join the free-for-all fun at the public library with these book-loving bats! Shape shadows on walls, frolic in the water fountain, and roam the book-filled halls until it’s time for everyone, young and old, to settle down into the enchantment of story time. Brian Lies’ joyful critters and their nocturnal celebration cast library visits in a new light. Even the youngest of readers will want to join the batty book-fest!” See the teacher’s guide.


28 Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature: The deadline for submissions for the 2009 28 Days later spotlights is Nov. 1! Brown Bookshelf co-founder Paula Chase-Hyman notes: “We could really use a good influx of YA and MG [nominations]–as this is the area where representations of young African Americans is least diverse.” Read a Cynsations interview with the founders of The Brown Bookshelf.

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.

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.

More News

We Ain’t Afraid Of No Vermont College Ghost from Tami Lewis Brown at Through the Tollbooth.

Hey Editors and Agents: We’ve Got Some Questions for You… from Alice’s CWIM Blog. Peek: “Here at Writer’s Digest Books, we’re in the process of updating our popular title Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript and are looking for insight from agents/editors on how the industry is changing. Here are a few things we’re interested in knowing…”

Check out this trailer for Soulless by Christopher Golden (MVT, 2008); trailer designed by Jen Wardrip. Read a Cynsations interview with Christopher about the novel.

An Agent’s Responsibility from BookEnds, LLC. Peek: “How much responsibility does an agent bear for a book not selling?”

Chris Barton of Bartography
: a photo rhettrospective. Note: see a very young Chris, or several.

Ghosts, Shapeshifters, and Vampires, Oh My! by Allie Costa from SparkNotes. Peek: “If you’re looking for a spooky story to read on Halloween, you’ve come to the right place. Get ready to sink your teeth into these supernatural treats.”

Holly Black’s Secret Library from The Steampunk Home. Note: confirms my long-standing theory that Holly Black is the most totally awesome person on earth. (I was a teenager in the ’80s; therefore, I’m allowed to say “totally awesome.”) Read a Cynsations interview with Holly.

PowerPoint Tricks and Treats by Julie Bowe at Kidlit Central News. Peek: “Don’t let the PP slides be your program. Don’t rely too heavily on PP slides for your program or your audience will begin to drift. Change the focus by showing props, inviting volunteers to come up front…!”

Editorial Anonymous
offers a surprising (at least to me) answer to: “Is it acceptable to resubmit a manuscript to the same publisher and if so how often? Yearly? Or is no a no forever?”

Children’s Books by and about People of Color Published in the United States: Statistics Gathered by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: 2007 figures are available. Source: American Indians in Children’s Literature.

Indie Booksellers Urged to Prepare for Holiday Shopping from Galley Cat at Peek: “On the one hand, retail seers worry this is going to be the worst year for holiday spending since the ’80s; on the other, only one-fourth of the consumer base says they’ll be extra-frugal, and books are high on their shopping lists.”

Those Who Write, Teach by David Gessner from The New York Times. Peek: “It’s fine for writing teachers to talk in self-help jargon about how their lives require ‘balance’ and ‘shifting gears’ between teaching and writing, but below that civil language lurks the uncomfortable fact that the creation of literature requires a degree of monomania, and that it is, at least in part, an irrational enterprise. It’s hard to throw your whole self into something when that self has another job.”

Attention Target Shoppers: if you visit any Target store to pick up your copy of Blue Bloods: Revelations by Melissa de la Cruz (Hyperion, Oct. 2008), you’ll receive access to a special website, with a secret chapter excerpt from the book, exclusive for Target guests! Note: Melissa suggests you read the story only after you’ve read the book! “The secret chapter is called ‘The Lie That Conceals The Truth.'” Read a Cynsations interview with Melissa. See also the Revelations trailer below.

Book List: Horsing Around: a bibliography of “equestrian” books from Little Willow at Slayground.

Hurricane Ike Library Relief: “Following the destructive visit of Hurricane Ike, Blue Willow Bookshop [in Houston] is initiating a nationwide campaign to rebuild the library collections of Anahuac High School, Freeport Intermediate School and, closer to home, the Alief Hastings 9th Grade Center. These schools lost more than 75% of their collections. Our goal is to have 1,000 books to deliver to these libraries by Dec. 1.”

John Green thanks the Nerdfighters for their support of Paper Towns (Dutton, 2008) and announces the novel’s movie deal. Read a Cynsations interview with John.

Curtis Brown Guest Blogger [Tracy Marchini] talks PBs in the Slush from Kidlit Central News. Peek: “…a lot of the picture book slush I see comes in rhyme that is off meter. Bad rhyme will kill a good story. Writers should ask themselves–will this story really benefit by being told in rhyme?” Learn more about Tracy.

Ten Tips On Writing Race in Novels by Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “It’s unanimous: stay away from food metaphors when it comes to describing skin color. Scrupulously avoid cliché when talking about a character’s appearance.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali. See also Think Pink by Roger Sutton from Read Roger.

Author Interview: Amber Kizer on Books and Religion from Liz Gallagher at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “…you can be religious without being faithful and full of faith without practicing a religion. I know this will make me unpopular with some, but I’m okay with that—it’s quite possible you won’t like my work anyway if your ideas of religion are concrete and immovable and unquestionable.”

Politics in Prose: Books That Are Real Winners by Mary Quattlebaum from Washington Parent. Peek: “The vote’s unanimous for these books about the American political process.” Source: Mitali Perkins.

To support the creation of The Snowy Day 50th Anniversary Commemorative Stamp, visit the website of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and add your name to the Support the Stamp list. Note: “It takes three years for the subject of a postage stamp to be considered, accepted and developed. The fiftieth anniversary of The Snowy Day is in 2012.” Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah Pope, executive director of the Erza Jack Keats Foundation.

Thurber House Writers-in-Residence: “accepting applications for the 2009 Thurber House Residency in Children’s Literature. ..awarded of books for middle grade children. The recipient will reside in…James Thurber’s boyhood home in Columbus. Besides having time to focus on their own writing project, the resident will teach writing-based activities to middle grade children in a variety of community settings, including the Thurber Summer Writing Camp. The author selected for the residency will receive a stipend of $4,000.”

A Talk with the NBA Finalists (or: What I Saw Underneath the Disreputable Chains of the Spectacular Now) by Sue Corbett, Children’s Bookshelf–Publishers Weekly. A peek from E. Lockhart: “I had various ideas about things I’d read about that I wanted to get into a novel—urban exploring in sewers and steam tunnels, the panopticon, feminist theory I had read in graduate school. All this stuff belonged in the same book but there was no story.” Source: April Henry.

Agent Interview: Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary Agency by Tami Lewis Brown from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “I’m definitely interested in seeing dark or paranormal fiction, so long as the story is really original, sharp, and arresting. There’s so much in this area out there, that anything new really does have to stand out. I’d love to see a great ghost story.”

Writers First Aid: a medicine chest…to ease the pains of the writing life, increase your writing energy, and help make your writing dreams come true from Kristi Holl, “the author of 35 books, both fiction and nonfiction, including Writer’s First Aid. Through this blog, Kristi hopes to share the challenges of being a writer, bring you encouragement, and pump you full of perseverance!” See also information on Critiques by Kristi Holl. Note: Kristi has experience with both the mainstream and Christian markets!

“The Scavenger Bride” a spooky short story by author Linda Joy Singleton offered free online. See also “The Boy in the Mirror.” Read a Cynsations interview with Linda Joy Singleton.

The Lull by Sara Zarr from Teen Fiction Cafe. Peek: “Right now, I’m in the lull between having turned a manuscript in to my editor and getting editorial notes for revision. I do not have a day job, and I don’t have kids, and there are no pressing tasks on my immediate horizon. In other words: I’m in hell.” Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

Here’s one last book video, this one to Parties and Potions by Sarah Mlynowski (Random House, 2008)! Source: E. Lockhart.


Congratulations to Pamela Todd, author of The Blind Faith Hotel (McElderry, 2008)! From the promotional copy: “When her family falls apart, fourteen-year-old Zoe feels like her whole world is going to pieces. Zoe’s mother takes her kids away from their father, a fisherman who ships out to Alaska, and moves them to a run-down farmhouse she’s inherited in the Midwest. Zoe’s stuck– in more ways than one.

“Surrounded by strangers and a sea of prairie grass, she loses her bearings. A brush with the law lands Zoe in a work program at a local nature preserve. But the work starts to ground and steady her. When she meets a wild boy who shares her love of untamed places, it seems he might help Zoe find her way. Or is he too lost, too damaged himself?

“Funny and poignant, sharp-eyed and real this is a portrait of a girl looking for her own true self and a place she can call home.”

More Personally

Boy, do I love Halloween! Here’s wishing you all a happy and safe one!

This week has been spooktacular, highlighted by P. J. Hoover‘s launch party for The Emerald Tablet (Blooming Tree/CBAY, 2008). See P. J.’s report and party pics (below)! Read a Cynsations interview with P. J.

P. J. herself in an Emerald Tablet T-shirt. She shared her book trailer and offered a first-rate PowerPoint presentation.

The crowd was enthusiastic, and refreshments were plentiful (there was also a candy table).

YA author Jennifer Ziegler with P. J.’s editor Madeline Smoot, who also works at BookPeople. Learn more about Madeline’s imprint, CBAY Books (Children’s Brains are Yummy).

2008 debut author Shana Burg (author interview) and author-poet Liz Garton Scanlon (author interview).

Author Jo Whittemore (interview), illustrator Gene Brenek (interview), and author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell (interview) and 2008 debut author-illustrator Emma Virjan. Note: Jo turns 31 today on the 31rst! Happy birthday, Jo!

My Events

Joseph Bruchac and Cynthia Leitich Smith will be chatting with readergirlz at MySpace on Nov. 6. Joe will be featuring Sacajawea (Scholastic) and Cynthia will be featuring Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins). From Harcourt: “Joseph Bruchac has written more than 60 books for children and adults, and received many literary awards, including the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas.” Read a Cynsations interview with Joe.

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.

Due to a technical difficulty, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s discussion of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and related forthcoming books on the teen grid of Teen Second at Second Life has been rescheduled for for 3 p.m. Nov. 18. See more information.

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.

More Events

Happy Texas Book Festival weekend! 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. Note: due to a foot injury, I won’t be in attendance, but I wish y’all a wonderful festival!

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. Read the first chapter of Shana’s debut novel, A Thousand Never Evers (Delacorte, 2008).

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.

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.