Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win an autographed copy of Santa Knows by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman (Dutton, 2006)! Four runners up will receive audio productions of the book either on tape or CD (Scholastic Book Club, 2007)! From the promotional copy:

Who knows if you’ve been naughty or nice?

Santa knows, that’s who.

But not everyone believes in Santa Claus.

Consider Alfie F. Snorklepuss. He thinks he’s proven that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Alfie thinks there is no way that Santa could do all the things he’s supposed to, like deliver billions of presents all over the world in one night or know what every little kid wants.

When Alfie starts spreading the word that there is no Santa Claus, he makes someone very unhappy: his little sister Noelle.

And so Noelle turns to the only person who can help her. The one person Alfie thinks doesn’t exist: Santa Claus.

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. 24! OR, if you’re on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Nov. 24! But DON’T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I’ll contact you for it if you win. Please also type “Santa Knows” in the subject line and specify if you prefer tape, CD, or either. Visit!

Enter to win one of two copies of The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins, 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 Nov. 17! OR, if you’re on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Nov. 17! 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) and one will go to any Cynsational reader. Please indicate status. Please also type “Porcupine Year” in the subject line.

More News

Attention Cynsational Readers: one of your own is trying to compile a list of multicultural science fiction children’s books, graphic novels, and movies! If you have any suggestions, please email me (scroll and click on the envelope or LJ, MySpace, and facebook subscribers may leave a comment. Thank you! Note: help!

Association of Jewish Libraries Podcast: a new program, which “will include material recorded at the Association of Jewish Libraries annual convention, as well as recordings of Jewish literary events across North America. A wide range of topics will be covered, from the academic to the hands-on, from children’s literature to technology.”

Knucklehead featuring Jon Scieszka from Jon Scieszka on Vimeo. Source: Confessions of a Bibliovore.

My years with Roald, by the “love of his life” by Elizabeth Day from The Guardian. Peek: “Felicity Dahl was married to the much-loved children’s writer for only seven years, yet 18 years after his death she still finds life ‘hell’ without him. As the inaugural Roald Dahl award for children’s books is set to be announced, she recalls the great man’s seductive charms, his impish generosity – and his habit of having pink milk for breakfast.” Source: Gwenda Bond.

One Simple Question: Siobhan Vivian, Author Same Difference from Ypulse Books. Peek: “I’ve never really felt very adult or particularly grown up. I am constantly embarrassed, awkward, sweaty, pimpled. These are the “bad” parts of adolescence, the things we hope to grow out of.”

Donna Freitas and the possibilities of faith in YA by Sara Zarr at Good Times and Noodle Salad. Peek: “Why do you think there are so few mainstream YA books that feature characters who have a positive relationship with their religious faith and/or traditions?” Learn more about Donna’s debut novel, The Possibilities of Sainthood (Frances Foster, 2008). Note: very much looking forward to this one!

Tough Times and the Publishing Industry Stimulus Package from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “This isn’t a time for cheaping out on the authors you love. Publishers are going to be making very tough decisions about which authors are going to survive and which will be dropped. They’re being extremely selective about supporting new authors. You can do your part by buying new, asking for new books for the holidays, and encouraging your friends to do the same.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Politics & Prose Opens Section for Older Teens by Paula Chase Hyman from the Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “The article goes on to say that the section was conceived to help prevent older teens from bypassing the young readers section for the adult section, located upstairs.”

Check out this trailer for Margaret Peterson Haddix‘s new middle grade series, The Missing (Simon & Shuster (author interview):

Fifth Annual Novel Writing Retreat at Vermont College of Fine Arts will be March 27 to March 29, 2009. Featuring: author Kathi Appelt; author Elise Broach; and editor Cheryl Klein of Scholastic. Includes: lectures; organized workshops; writing exercises; one-on-one critiques with one of the guest authors; one-on-one critique with guest editor (extra fee); open mike; discussions; room and board. Cost: $450. Registration begins Dec. 1. For more information, contact Sarah Aronson.

Deliciously Clean Reads: “anyone can recommend books as long as they are free of sex, profanity, and graphic violence.”

Graphic Tales from Colleen Mondor at Bookslut. Peek: “It’s a dark slightly subversive delight that never ceased to amaze me. Mostly it’s just very, very cool and I do hope that it doesn’t get overlooked in the masses of YA fiction for teen girls.”

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Brian Lies at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “I show drawings from books I’m working on and talk about the seemingly endless revisions I do in both words and pictures, but also show one of my second-grade drawings, to prove that it’s more a question of hard work and time commitment than it is about being born talented.”

And My Skin is Getting Thicker by Allison Winn Scotch from Ask Allison. Peek: “Here’s the thing. I can’t defend myself. I can’t write this reviewer a letter and say, ‘Hey, I’m sorry about that. It wasn’t carelessness, it was something I truly wasn’t aware of. Oh, and by the way, if you’re going to critique me for a mistake, can you get the details of the book right in your review too?'”

Native American Heritage Month: Book Lists and Resources from Wild Rose Reader. Note: thank you to WRR for including my site among your listings.

Please join me in welcoming Donna Bowman Bratton to the kidlitosphere! Donna is an Austin-based children’s writer, and in her inaugural post, she writes: “I’m a born questioner. I am curious, persistent, determined, and easily entertained in a room of strangers or in a room of solitude. I also feel deeply.”

Here’s a book trailer for the much-buzzed YA, Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Harcourt, 2008)(Source: Sarah Miller):

Featuring Dimitrea Tokunbo from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “I started doing self portraits (one a month) using acrylic paints in part to find a new technique and in part to stay in touch with my inner artist. By the time I got to my third self portrait…”

Blurbs I: Getting from Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted at Red Room. Peek: “A blurb is not the back-jacket description of a book; it’s not the inside-flap description of a book. It is a quote from an established author, the purpose of which is to help promote the book at hand.” Note: mileage varies, but I expect blurb requests to come from editors or agents, not authors.

The Art of Phyllis Hornung Peacock: official site for Austin-based illustrator. Titles include A Place for Zero (Charlesbridge, 2003) and What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? (Charlesbridge, 2004). See also Phyllis’ blog!

Strange Machines: Website of Authors: “Dallas Reed and Thomas Pendleton (They’re the same guy… Shhh, don’t tell anyone!):” official site of a new Austin-based YA author. Check out his LJ and MySpace page. Read a Cynsations interview with Thomas. Note: SLJ says of his latest, “Horror fans will be thrilled by Mason’s story.”

Contract Limbo! Next Stop, the Lake of Fire from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: “An unagented author should be a wee bit more pointed (but still pleasant and professional–try to express polite concern rather than escalating frustration and panic. Frustration and panic are common qualities in authors (and yes, I know sometimes it’s the editor’s own fault), but they’re unattractive qualities).” See also: The Personal ‘No-Comment’: In Which We Need Some Better Terms for Rejections. Note: don’t miss the comments.

Thematic Book List: Everybody Needs a Home from The Miss Rumphius Effect. Peek: “…these books are not focused on habitats, but the actual shelter/home in which animals live.” Note: for review consideration, this blog accepts “both poetry and nonfiction for young readers through middle grades.”

How Much Money Does a Writer Make from Laurie Purdie Salas. Peek: “…most children’s writers I know who actually make a living off of writing do it by cobbling together an income from many different sources.”

Texas Book Festival Photos
from Margo Rabb. A first-rate photo report on the event!

Exiled! From Tragedy to Triumph on the Missouri Frontier by Louise A. Jackson (Eaken Press) has won the WILLA award for “the finest children’s book about the women’s west published in 2007.” The award given annually by Women Writing the West and is judged by librarians and historians. Read Louise’s blog at the (Springfield, Missouri) News-Leader. Peek: “I grew up on a small ranch in Central Texas, spent most of my adult life in Wyoming and have lived in Missouri for 14 years, of which the last seven have been spent in Springfield.”

Take a sneak peek at The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton (Charlesbridge, 2009).

Who’s on Your Team? by Allison Winn Scotch from Ask Allison. Peek: “…in many ways, I really believe that your success as a writer is largely due to whom you choose to surround yourself with.”

Agent Jennifer Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary Agency from Kidlit Central News. Peek: “At ABLA, we’re hearing encouraging news from publishers about the state of the industry, and I recently read that juvenile sales are up. However, in terms of selling manuscripts, we are seeing the economy affect advances, and we’re seeing more hesitation on the part of editors to take books that are not in stellar shape to acquisitions.”

Children’s Book Insider Highlights Great Blogs of the Day:

Best Illustrated Children’s Books 2008: a slide show from The New York Times. Source: Elizabeth O. Dulemba.

Another Austin Treasure: Children’s Book Authors by Lindsey Lane from Good Life Magazine (PDF). Peek: “Austin hosts one of the most vibrant children’s book writing communities in the country…” See also Alison Dellenbaugh’s additions to the recommendations. Read a Cynsations interview with Lindsey, and learn more about Texas Children’s and YA Authors and Illustrators.

Diane Roberts — author/puppeteer: official site of the author of Made You Look and Puppet Pandemonium (both Delacorte). Diane makes her home in Fort Worth.

Native Voices by Debbie Reese from School Library Journal. Peek: “As we approach 2009, stereotypical images of American Indians as bloodthirsty savages and tragic, heroic warriors still strike fear and evoke sympathy as they traipse across the pages of children’s books.” Note: article includes an bibliography of reading recommendations for elementary through high school readers.

The Bradford Novels: a new blog celebrating The Bradford Novels by Micol Ostow (Simon Pulse, 2009-). Peek: “My editors and I developed this blog to give readers a sneak peek into the months leading up to a book launch. As we get closer to G-day (GoldenGirl), aka Book #1, Day), you’ll find author videos, question-and-answers with other YA authors, brilliant insights on the writing life from yours truly (if I do say so myself), outtakes from photo shoots, cover stories, contests, and more, more, more!”

Check out the trailer for Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers (St. Martins, 2008).

read this b4 u publish 🙂 by Max Leone from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “I am of that population segment that is constantly derided as ‘not reading anymore,’ and is therefore treated by publishing companies as a vast, mysterious demographic that’s seemingly impossible to please. Kind of like the way teenage boys think of girls. The reason we read so little in our free time is partially because of the literary choices available to teenagers these days.” Note: emphasis here seems to be more on tween than upper YA, and the bottom line here seems to be to “stop parenting and write something fun.”

An Interview with Candlewick Editor Jen Yoon by Brian Yansky from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “The one quality that draws me into a manuscript is voice. That trumps everything else for me.”

Meet Kimberly Pauley from Through the Looking Glass Book Review. Peek: “I definitely didn’t write it to be a ‘message book’ but I wanted some good messages to be in there, if you want to find them. There are a few, to me…like being true to yourself and not doing things just because people expect you to…standing up for yourself and your friends and for what you feel is important…that things are better when you communicate…that family and friends matter…and that girls can be strong individuals with minds of their own.” Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberly.

Michelle Moran on How to Promote Your Book from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “Like galley covers, not all galley print-runs are equal. A lead title might have anywhere from a thousand to ten thousand galleys printed up for every type of reviewer imaginable, while most other novels will have between a hundred and two hundred.” Don’t miss part two.

More Personally

Thank you to Julie Moody at KUT 90.5 FM for interviewing P. J. Hoover and me about the Austin SCBWI holiday party! Thank you to the whole youth books crew at BookPeople for their hospitality and to RA Tim Crow and his volunteers for all of their hard work! And an extra special thanks to all the members of the community–especially teachers and librarians–who turned out for the celebration! Look for pictures next week!

Candlewick Press has updated its site to include new author bios! Here’s mine.

Seeking Spooky Author Blogs: my spookycyn blog has been getting spiffed up for the release of Eternal (Candlewick, Feb. 2009). I’ve broken some windows and added some cobwebs, and along the way, I’ve also added a blogroll featuring YA authors who write spooky cool fic of any stripe. Please surf over to confirm that your own blog and/or that of your favorite scary writer is listed. If not, just email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with the author name and blog URL. Thanks!

Carol, a teacher librarian from Iowa, sends this link to a photo of a jingle dress that reminded her of Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000).

Due to extraordinary busy-ness, Cynsations will not post tomorrow; however, I’ll be back online Monday. Don’t miss my NCTE/ALAN conference schedule below!


Acclaimed author and National Book Award recipient, M. T. Anderson will be at BookPeople in Austin, Texas; at 7 p.m. Nov. 21. He discuss his books, sign copies of his work, and answer questions from the audience. There is limited space for this event. If you would like to attend, you must RSVP to to reserve a spot. Reminder: Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld will be appearing at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at BookPeople!

NCTE and 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. Please stop by the Candlewick booth at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, where I’ll be signing ARCs of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), and look for me at the ALAN Panel – “Gods, Foods, and Tatoos: The Mixed Mythos of Fantasy” on Monday at 2 p.m. ish at the Marriot Rivercenter (Salon E, Third Floor Room). I’ll be speaking with Melissa Marr (author interview) and Rick Riordan (author interview).

Reminder: Vote for Yohannes and Ethiopia Reads

Yohannes Gebregeorgis, a native of Ethiopia and children’s literacy advocate, has been named a Top 10 Hero of the Year by CNN. Mr. Gebregeorgis was selected from more than 3,000 individuals nominated by viewers throughout the year. Finalists were selected by a Blue Ribbon panel of judges that includes Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall and Deepak Chopra. The Top 10 Heroes will be recognized in CNN’s “All-Star Tribute” to air on Thanksgiving.

Yohannes was first recognized as a “hero” by CNN in May for his work championing children in Ethiopia. A former political refugee who worked as a librarian at San Francisco Public Library, Yohannes is the co-founder of Ethiopia Reads, a non-profit organization that works to create a reading culture in Ethiopia by connecting children with books. In a country where 99% of schools have no libraries, Yohannes and Ethiopia Reads are improving lives, one book at a time.

Vote for Yohannes, then visit Ethiopia Reads web site for more updates. Note: please consider yourself encouraged to pass on this announcement and these links!

More Reminders

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.

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.”