Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win a copy of Through the Wardrobe: Your Favorite Authors on C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia edited by Herbie Brennan (BenBella, 2008)(PDF excerpt)! Read an interview with Herbie. From the promotional copy:

Why is Prince Caspian the ultimate teenager?

What does Narnia have to do with the Nazis?

How come C. S. Lewis has such a big problem with lipstick, anyway?

Step through the wardrobe…and into the imaginations of sixteen friends of Aslan as they explore Narnia, from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to The Last Battle, from the heart of Caspian’s kingdom to the Eastern Seas.

Contributors: Herbie Brennan; Deb Caletti; Diane Duane; Sarah Beth Durst; Brent Hartinger; Susan Juby; Sophie Masson; Kelly McClymer; O.R. Melling; Lisa Papademetriou; Diana Peterfreund; Susan Vaught; Ned Vizzini; Elizabeth Wein; Zu Vincent and Kiara Koenig.

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 Dec. 15!

OR, if you’re on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 15! But DON’T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I’ll contact you for it if you win. Please also type “Wardrobe” in the subject line.

Enter to win one of two autographed copies of Shift by Jennifer Bradbury (Atheneum, 2008)! Read a Cynsations inteview with Jennifer. 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 Dec. 9! OR, if you’re on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 9! But DON’T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I’ll contact you for it if you win. Please also type “Shift” in the subject line. One copy will go to a teacher, librarian, or university professor of YA literature (please indicate in entry); the other will go to any Cynsational reader.

The winner of Demigods and Monsters: Your Favorite Authors on Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, edited by Rick Riordan with Leah Wilson (BenBella, 2008)(PDF excerpt) was M.L. in California!

More News

How to Ditch Your Fairy Interview with Justine Larbalestier from Scott Westerfeld at westerblog. A husband-wife author-author IM-style interview. See also a Cynsations interview with Justine.

List of YA Authors by State from YALSA. Peek: “…page will collect the names of YA authors and list them by state, for the purpose of helping librarians, library workers and educators to plan author visits and other such programs.” Source: S. A. Harazin. Note: you may add to the list.

“Lee Bennett Hopkins is the 15th winner of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. A distinguished poet, writer, and anthologist, Lee has created numerous books for children and adults.” Learn more.

Jo Knowles has a new bio page on her author website. Read a Cynsations interview with Jo.

Laura’s Review Bookshelf
: “reviewing new young adult novels and interviewing young adult authors.”

Attention Kidlitosphere Bloggers: if you have blogged about (reviewed, recommended, featured the author) of a book either by a Native American author (other than Tantalize) or featuring a Native protagonist (by anyone) sometime in 2008, could you please send me the URL to your post? Thanks!

Watch this video of Neil Gaiman on The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2008). Peek: “I loved getting lost.” Me too. Source: The Horn Book.

Sci Fi/Fantasy: Ten Rules of Magic
by Megan M. at Teen Ink. Peek: “If your characters fought hand to hand, you would not expect them to escape without (at least) a few bruises. The same must be true for magic, whether those ‘bruises’ manifest themselves as physical exhaustion, emotional corruption, or unintended consequences.” Source: Journey of an Inquiring Mind.

How to Publish without Perishing by James Gleick from The New York Times. Peek: “This means a new beginning — a vast trove of books restored to the marketplace.” Source: The Authors Guild.

Ellen Yeomans: official author site includes bio, bibliography, and grief-related resources. Peek: “I am a writer and perhaps oddly enough, a farmhand. I care for sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, chickens, and a few bunnies. I love it almost as much as I love writing. The farmer I work for tells great stories when he isn’t too busy.”

Don’t miss the December book giveaways at TeensReadToo.

Blurbs II: Giving by Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted at Red Room. Peek: “It’s a privilege to have succeeded at it so well that people actually think that using your name will help them sell a few books. Everyone who has ever pursued a career in writing with all their heart and all their will should be so lucky.” Don’t miss part one: Blurbs: Getting.

Featuring Mei Matsuoka from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “I enjoy writing and hope to continue producing more of my own stories.”

Teen Fiction with Muslim Heroes by Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape.

City of Glass ARC Contest, December 2008 from Cassandra Claire. Peek: “there are four categories and one ARC for winning in each category. Each category requires you to do a funky, fun or creative thing that’s somehow related to the Mortal Instruments books.” Read a Cynsations interview with Cassandra.

Best Books 2008 by SLJ Book Review Editors Trevelyn Jones, Luann Toth, Marlene Charnizon, Daryl Grabarek, and Joy Fleishhacker. Highlights include: Skunkdog by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Pierre Pratt (Frances Foster); Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out by the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance (Candlewick); Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor); Paper Towns by John Green (Dutton); The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Hyperion); The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Holt); Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Boyds Mills/Wordsong); and Impossible by Nancy Werlin (Dial). See also Notable Children’s Books of 2008 from The New York Times Book Review and Horn Book Fanfare: Best Books of 2008.

M. T. Anderson Challenges Young Adults with Complex Narratives from The Washington Post. Peek: “If we’re going to ask our kids at age 18 to go off to war and die for their country, I don’t see any problem with asking them at age 16 to think about what that might mean.” Source: Gwenda Bond.

In search of murder ballads and mournful cello by Deborah Noyes at Haunted Playlist. Peek: “I lack the tenacity to maintain a true blog that talks about my books (what I have to say on that count is already in my books) or my daily life, which moves at more or less the pace of drying paint, but I did want to share something along with my author-photographer sites besides the stuff I’m trying to sell you. In the process, in my small way, I get to promote great, largely indie musicians.”

Masterpiece by Elise Broach: a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: “…full of charm and intrigue…”

Interview with Kathleen Duey, author of Skin Hunger from Christy’s Creative Space. Peek: “I just finished the second book, Sacred Scars, so the worst of the timeline wrestling is over.”

Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman: a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: “…an altogether funny, thoughtful, and thought-provoking novel about life, death, friendship, and family.”

Interview with Judy Blume by Kelly Herold at Big A little a. Peek: “I think it’s easier to learn from someone you’re not trying to please, or from someone who won’t be judgmental. That’s why we have Driver’s Ed, isn’t it?”

Michael Sussman – Author
: official site for children’s author Michael Sussman, featuring biography, bibliography, reviews, events, links, thoughts on time, and palindromes. Michael is the author of Otto Grows Down, illustrated by Scott Magoon (Sterling, 2009).

Process and Product 1 by Liz Garton Scanlon from Liz in Ink. Peek: ” We want to skip ahead to product. To success. Fame and fortune. The finish line. Or do we?” See also part 2. Read a Cynsations interview with Liz.

Something Rotten Online Promo — By the Numbers by Alan Gratz at Gratz Industries. Peek: “I broke down the numbers for editor Liz and the marketing folks at Penguin, but I wanted to blog about them here for anyone curious about the promotion’s impact.” Read a Cynsations interview with Alan.

Queries That Worked by Sara Crowe at Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “What I want to highlight in the following letters is the description of the book. This is what I want to know about most, obviously — and is often overlooked in favor of a lot of unnecessary information about the writer of the letter, such as they have been writing since they were five and love Harry Potter and their grandchildren love their work.”

Wanted, Male Models: There’s a good reason why boys don’t read by Gail Giles from School Library Journal. Peek: “A boy doesn’t want to be a woman. He wants to do what a man does. And if he doesn’t see a man reading, he won’t read.” Source: S. A. Harazin. Read a Cynsations interview with Gail.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (Delacorte, 2009) Giveaway sponsored by Sharon Loves Books. Deadline: Dec. 18. Learn more about Carrie Ryan.

Uma Krishnaswami at Writing with a Broken Tusk tells us about Mumbai’s Street Children. Peek: “This 2008 attack was aimed at the rich and powerful, and it’s questionable whether anyone will even ask how many children may have died in it.” Read a Cynsational interview with Uma, and see War and Peace in Children’s Literature.

Rowling “fierce” but fair about Potter: editor by Ian MacKenzie and Nick Zieminski from Reuters. Peek: “J.K. Rowling’s first editor, who championed Harry Potter after several publishers had turned the boy wizard down, described the author as ‘fierce’ but fair to work with.” Source: The Leaky Cauldron.

Celebrate Buy a Book by a Black Author and Give it to Somebody Not Black Month with the video below. Learn more about Carleen Brice. Note: for suggestions of children’s-YA books by black authors and illustrators, see The Brown Bookshelf.

For Marcia Leonard, my editor: a poem by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. Read a Cynsations interview with Tracie.

Cheers to Topher Bradfield, children’s outreach coordinator at BookPeople in Austin, who was featured as #3 in “My Job’s Cooler than Your Job” by Rhonda Lashley in the December issue of Austin Monthly.

More Personally

After NCTE/ALAN (see Alvina Ling’s video report), Greg and I enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving holiday with a meal of turkey, faux mashed potatoes (whipped cauliflower), stuffing, and corn-on-the-cob. He’d caught a cold in San Antonio–better now, so we took it easy over the weekend.

However, we’re now revved and ready for tomorrow Austin SCBWI‘s Day with an Editor, featuring author-editor Jill Santopolo of HarperCollins, which was rescheduled due to Hurricane Ike. Jill and I will be critiquing three-page manuscript excerpts from participants in front of the group. Read a Cynsations interview with Jill.

Per the side photo, here’s an essay that was posted this week…

A Cozy Space…with Cynthia Leitich Smith from Tony Abbott. Peek: “…the second of a series about writers’ work places, we’ll take a peek into Cynthia Leitich Smith’s little writing room.” Read a Cynsations interview with Tony.

Thank you to Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature for sponsoring a giveaway of Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000). Congratulations to the winner–the Colorado River Indian Tribes Library!

Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) is clearly in good company beside Scott Westerfeld‘s Uglies (Simon Pulse, 2005)(author interview). I’m not sure if it qualifies as advice or nonfiction, but I’m not complaining.

But even better, the novel pictured is at a New England grocery store, so reader-shoppers can pick up the ingredients for the Sanguini’s menu on the way out! Thanks to David Yoo for the pics!

On a final note, my condolences to those adversely affected by the various publisher layoffs. To the wider community, keep the faith–take care of yourselves and each other. Buy books, swarm brick-and-mortar stores, support library budgets, and continue to focus on craft.


Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith will be speaking on “First Drafts” at the February monthly meeting of the Writers’ League of Texas at 7:30 Feb. 19 at the League office in Austin (611 S. Congress Avenue).

Due to a technical difficulty, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s discussion of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008), Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), and related forthcoming books on the teen grid of Teen Second at Second Life has been rescheduled for 3 p.m. Feb. 24. See more information.


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.

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.

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.