Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win one of two hardcover copies of The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins, 2008)!

From the promotional copy:

“Here follows the story of a most extraordinary year in the life of an Ojibwe family and of a girl named ‘Omakayas,’ or Little Frog, who lived a year of flight and adventure, pain and joy, in 1852.

“When Omakayas is twelve winters old, she and her family set off on a harrowing journey. They travel by canoe westward from the shores of Lake Superior along the rivers of northern Minnesota, in search of a new home. While the family has prepared well, unexpected danger, enemies, and hardships will push them to the brink of survival. Omakayas continues to learn from the land and the spirits around her, and she discovers that no matter where she is, or how she is living, she has the one thing she needs to carry her through.

“Richly imagined, full of laughter and sorrow, The Porcupine Year continues Louise Erdrich’s celebrated series, which began with The Birchbark House (Hyperion, 1999), a National Book Award finalist, and continued with The Game of Silence (HarperCollins, 2005), winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction.”

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 copy 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.

The winner of Listening for Crickets by David Gifaldi (Henry Holt, 2008) was Gail in Arizona. Read a Cynsations interview with David.

The winners of The Robe of Skulls: The First Tale from the Five Kingdoms by Vivian French (Candlewick, 2008)(author interview) were: MaryAnn, a librarian at Redwood Day School in California; Lauren in Kentucky; and Dawn in Connecticut.

More News & Links

Behind the Pages of Shadowed Summer: RC & Moonpies from Saundra Mitchell. Note: I’m hooked on these teasers, already charmed by the Southern setting, and impressed with Saundra’s marketing savvy and this fresh idea.

Digital Shadows 2: RC & Moonpies

Authors on the Verge: Meet Saundra Mitchell, young adult novelist from Writing for Children & Teens by Cynthia Liu. Peek: “I submitted it to the Delacorte Press prize, then miraculously got an agent while I was waiting to hear. I didn’t win the prize (I didn’t even place), so my agent and I revised. And revised. And revised, until my 75,000 word book had become a 45,000 word book.”

National Museum of the American Indian Education Print Resources: “Please feel free to download PDFs of our teaching materials, below.” Note: you can also order hard copies. See also [American Library Association Native-Themed] Posters for Your Classroom or Library. Source: American Indians in Children’s Literature.

Brookdale Clothing
: featuring tie-in T-shirts for the novels of YA author Barry Lyga. Read a Cynsations interview with Barry.

There’s a New Gang in Town: Austin’s Delacorte Dames and Dudes by Edward Nawotka of Children’s Bookshelf from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “DDD—no, it’s not a heavy-duty new battery. It’s the acronym for an informal group of Austin, Tex., writers all published by Delacorte Press.” Note: actually, it’s just the one dude, but color me a mega fan! Click the link if only to check out the super cute picture. Go Austin! Read Cynsations interviews with Shana Burg, Varian Johnson, April Lurie, Margo Rabb, and Jennifer Ziegler.

Soup’s On: Zoë B. Alley in the Kitchen {Author] Interview from jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. Peek: “Originally, this project came about through the desire of my editor/publisher (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press), to fill a market niche (i.e., the graphic novel/comic book/panel format for the picture book market). Traditionally, this genre had been done for the young adult (and older) demographic (don’t you hate words like that?!), but not for this younger one. “

Making History Come Alive for Young Readers: an interview with Laurie Halse Anderson by Linda M. Castellitto from BookPage. Peek: “‘I have a theory about historical fiction, particularly for middle-grade readers,’ she says. ‘Fifth grade or so is a time before you get into the really difficult challenges of late adolescence. Books allow kids to test themselves out against a scary world, but in a safe way—and historical fiction allows kids to test their morality, too.'”

Novel Secrets: A Novel Retreat in 3 Acts: “Have you always wanted to write a young adult or middle grade novel for children, but have not carved out the time to get it done? Do you have a draft of a novel written, but are looking for ideas and strategies to revise and strengthen it? Would you like the chance to meet with an editor or an agent to pitch your novel and gain critical feedback about this novel in particular and the fiction market, in general? All of this is possible if you attend…” Features authors Elaine Marie Alphin, Darcy Pattison, editor Jill Santopolo, and agent Stephen Barbara. See more information.

Here’s a must-watch new book trailer for Abc3D by Marion Bataille (Roaring Brook, 2008). Source: The Longstockings.

5 Minutes with [Debut Author] P. J. Hoover from Saundra Mitchell: Making Things Up for a Living. Peek: “People are still people, whether they’re embalming the dead or designing chips.” See also a Cynsations interview with P. J.

Bookie Woogie: a new children’s book review blog by three kids and their dad. Peek: “You’ll see how these particular three kids’ minds work…what elements they pick up on…what parts of a story are important to them.”

Query Critiques from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Nathan analyzes samples from volunteers. Peek: “It’s so important not just to present the heart of your work, but also to give a sense that your writing is up to the challenge.”

Attention Minions of Heather Brewer: she’s now offering a new forum.

Coauthor Agreements from BookEnds — LCC. Peek: “I’m here to tell you right now, this very minute, sit down and get something on paper. You don’t need a lawyer to do it, you simply need wording you can both agree to.”

“Different Families” Book Display from Under the Covers. Peek: “Here’s the promised book display to highlight our new GLBTQ list. “Different Families / Same Love”—that goopy enough for you?” See also the Adoption and Celebrate Diversity lists.

The Allure of Innocence from Musings of YA Author Dawn Metcalf. Peek: “…this underlines a yearning to explore a perhaps ‘outdated’ (or ‘vintage’ as it may be returning) notion of the more ‘experienced’ female MC and a more ‘innocent’ love-interest.”

Congratulations to author Kimberly Griffiths Little on her three-book deal with Scholastic!

Overnight Success by Sara Bennett-Wealer. Peek: “As aspiring authors, we hear people say that persistence counts and it’s easy to think, ‘yeah right–for everybody else, and not for me.’ Well, for this writer, it turned out to be true.” Note: Sara mentions a friend saying it takes an average of eight years to land get published. I’d put it at seven-to-ten for a contract (because publishing schedules can be delayed, especially with picture books).

Tracy Vaughn Zimmer: an author interview from Guys Lit Wire. Peek: “As a writer, I get to access that part of myself which is more masculine, and that’s lucky because in society we don’t allow ourselves much wiggle room in this arena without serious social repercussions.”

Facebook and Library Services: an interview with Emily Platz, a Teen Services Librarian at Farmington Library in Farmington, Connecticut; from Fran Cannon Slayton. Peek: “After spreading the word about ‘Facebooking’ me library related questions, I started to get all sorts of reference questions via facebook. I get two-to-five reference questions a day ranging from putting holds on items for teens to questions about homework resources. I was getting so many reference questions, that I installed the ‘Social I.M.’ application to add instant messaging chat to my Facebook account.” See also Fran’s take on What I Learned about Being an Author at ALA.

The Future TXT: Tips for the next generation! Peek: “[Writing] Tips and tricks from your favorite authors!” A new network for new voices.

Goldie’s Book Talk: The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones by Helen Hemphill. Read a Cynsations interview with Helen. Note: I love how the Internet empowers such a diversity of voices, canines included.

Author Interview: Richelle Mead from Liz Gallagher at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “I’ve actually found that as far as voice and intelligence, there’s very little difference between teens and adults in my writing. I know some authors ‘talk down’ to their teen readers in YA, and after being a teacher, I found there’s no need for that.”

It’s a Small World After All from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: “At this point you’re deeply afraid that this author has not understood something fundamental about the children’s book industry: word gets around.”

Creating Connections: Marilyn Carpenter (a university professor) and Melissa Carpenter (her daughter, a fourth grade teacher) have teamed up to create this blog, using poems from A Suitcase of Seaweed by Janet Wong (McElderry, 1996) to spark discussion among their students (graduate students in education and fourth graders), as well as to inspire them to write and think about their own “connections” to Janet’s poems. Please feel free to share your favorite anecdotes…or even a poem!

Author Interview: Lauren Myracle from Liz Gallagher at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “The sort of horror I like is psychological horror. Creepy weird brains in creepy weird people making creepy weird things happen. And of course, the poor innocent whose drawn inextricably into the whole creepy mess.” Read Cynsations interviews with Lauren and Liz.

Enter to Win Book Giveaways from

Which book do you think will win the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature?: respond to the survey at Into the Wardrobe.

Cover Stories: Skinned by Robin Wasserman from Melissa Walker. Peek: “I did send along a selection of cool cyborg images that I found online. I thought this might help them find a way to depict the fact that Lia (the main character) is both human and machine.”

An Interview with Kashmira Sheth from Judy Bryan at KidLit Central. Peek: “There are many things that can’t be translated from one language to another without changing the meaning… I prefer to use the Gujarati words for them.'”

Thoughts on Process from A. M. Jenkins. Peek: “For me, every book has an ideal form, and my job as a writer is to strive toward that ideal, to feel out the possibilities with an open mind, and to figure out what the book needs and wants to be.” Read a Cynsations interview with A. M.

Western Heights High School Book Club (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) seeks donations for fund-raising raffle. See more information.

Check out this book trailer for The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (Random House); see excerpt.

Writing Blurbs or How To Make Your Head Explode by Robin LaFevers at Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “What do you emphasize? Which essence do you choose to distill down to? How few details can you use to establish character?”

When Is a Book Better Than Cookies? from Brenda Ferber’s Blog. Peek: “Turns out, when you publish a book, magical things can happen.” Read a Cynsations interview with Brenda.

Melissa Walker interviews Sarah Dessen for readergirlz below; see also a Cynsations interview with Sarah.

Tantalizing News

I’m honored to announce that Editions Intervista has bought the rights to Tantalize in France! I’ll keep you posted on details as they arise. Note: I studied law abroad in Paris in 1991 and returned with my husband on vacation in 1999–amazing, fantastic, wonderful country!

Due to a technical difficulty, my 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.

More Personally

Congratulations to my fellow U.S. citizens on the election of Barack Obama as our next president! Thank you to all–Democrats, Republicans, and Independents–who voted in this past week’s election! See also “¡Obamos a leer!” from La Bloga, Blog the Vote from Chasing Ray, and Little Rock 9 Take Pride in Obama’s Victory by Peggy Harris from The Boston Globe.

Thank you to readergirlz for hosting my Thursday night chat! readergirlz may now be found at:;;;;; and facebook.

Thank you to illustrator Joy Fisher Hein for giving me permission to feature an image of one of her interior illustrations from Miss Ladybird’s Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America by Kathi Appelt (HarperCollins, 2005) in the header of Cynsations at Blogger. If you’re reading the blog at another location, I encourage you to check it out!

And check out this Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith from writesalot’s blog. Peek: “Don’t want to be an author. Want to be a writer. Want to be a writer so much that when you finally become an author, your responsibilities as such—however enjoyable—vex you because they’re getting in the way of your writing time. “

Word has zipped around the kidlit community to the point that I want to reassure everyone that my fractured right foot is much better. It’s mostly able to bear weight, I can get it into my Teva sandals, and I have every intention of enjoying the San Antonio Riverwalk at NCTE/ALAN (though it may take me a little longer on the stairs). As a result of the need to elevate, though, I’ve been mostly off-line. Please forgive any email delays, and just say NO! to cute shoes.

On a more fun subject, everyone has their geekdoms. My forever one is this:

Source: Karen Mahoney.

My Events

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 door prizes! Highlights include a school-visit giveaway featuring debut author P. J. Hoover (interview) and Philip Yates dressed as a pirate!

“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.

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

Author-poet Philip Yates will be speaking on “Everything is Coming Up Posey! How to Make Your Writing Come Alive with Poetry” to Austin SCBWI at 11 a.m. Nov. 8 at the Barnes & Noble Westlake (Texas). Read a Cynsations interview with Phil.

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).

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.

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!

From Oct. 12 to Dec. 15, Yohannes will visit cities across the United States, sharing his story and vision for Ethiopia Reads. Cities include Washington, DC; San Francisco; Seattle; Kansas City, Kan.; Denver; Albuquerque; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; and New York.

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.”