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.

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.

The winners of autographed copies of Shift by Jennifer Bradbury (Atheneum, 2008) were Sally, a teacher in Michigan, and Lucile, a Cynsational reader from Florida! Read a Cynsations inteview with Jennifer.

More News

How Not to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler (Delacorte, 2008): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: “a hilarious take on popularity and fitting in.” Read a Cynsations interview with Jennifer.

“Secret Vampire, the first book of nine in L. J. Smith’s Night World series, can be freely downloaded until Dec. 21.” Source: School Library Journal by way of Janni Lee Simmer.

Is There Ageism in Publishing? by Alvina Ling at Blue Rose Girls. Peek: “Publishing is a difficult, competitive industry no matter what your age.”

Building Your Mailing List — Data Mining for Authors by Saundra Mitchell at Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “Sure, there’s all kinds of information on the web, but some sites are more accurate than others. Weigh your sources when you search for information- a dated government website listing all the libraries in your region is probably more accurate than an undated Geocities website made by an unknown author.”

The Highlights Foundation is currently accepting applications for financial aid to its 25th anniversary Writers Workshop at Chautauqua. Although deadline is mid-February, please apply as soon as possible. For an application, e-mail me

Real Men Read at MN High School by Debra Lau Whelan from School Library Journal. Peek: “Media specialist Tori Jensen was always interested in reluctant readers—maybe because she was one herself as a child. So she recently launched the Read Men Read program—and the results have been nothing but positive. From September to November, her library’s circulation has more than tripled from 122 to 432 books.” Source: Sarah Darer Littman.

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.

Perfecting Your Craft by Justine Larbalestier. Peek: “I was more obsessed with seeing my name in print than I was with becoming a better writer.” Read a Cynsations interview with Justine.

Let’s Get It On: Sex Scenes in Young Adult Novels by Marianna Baer from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “Once I stepped back and looked at YA novels I think handle sex beautifully, I realized I needed to come back to that – the craft. Because, in the end, good craft will set us free.”

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #78: Judy Blume from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “I think we’re better off than we were twenty years ago (actually, it was following the presidential election of 1980 that the censors crawled out of the woodwork). Better off because we’re aware. We’re organized and determined now, the way the censors were then. (Check out and for more info.)”

Congratulations to Deborah Noyes on the release of Encyclopedia of the End: Mysterious Death in Fact, Fancy, Folklore, and More (Houghton Mifflin, 2008)! From the promotional copy: “How much do we truly know and understand about our own mortality? Enter Encyclopedia of the End, a compulsively readable and beautifully illustrated compendium that explores this most taboo of topics. Entries present a kaleidoscopic mix of topics from afterlife to assassination, forensic science to funeral foods, rigor mortis to reincarnation and more. With an appreciation for the profound and profane, Deborah Noyes helps lift the shroud of secrecy surrounding one of the most fascinating and ordinary phenomena of life. After all, who says that a book about death can’t be lively?” Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah.

Melissa Marr Interview from The YA YA YAs. Peek: “When I started, I wrote a short story. About a year later, those characters and that story evolved into a novel. As soon as I finished it, I began writing another novel (parts of which eventually became the second and third books, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity respectively). Currently, I’m planning a total of five books in this world. The fourth of those is the one I’m currently writing.” Read a Cynsations interview with Melissa.

Black teens enjoy reading, too…Whowouldathunkit? from anti-racist parent: for parents committed to raising children with an anti-racist outlook. Peek: “Why the notion of young people of color finding enjoyment escaping into a good book is a concept so hard to grasp that it must be digested slowly escapes me, but at least publishers are gradually ‘getting it.'” Source: The Brown Bookshelf.

Finalists for the William C Morris YA Debut Award: A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic); Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Harcourt/Houghton); Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne (Harper/Laura Geringer); Madapple by Christina Meldrum (Knopf); Me, the Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine (Harper). Source: thunderchikin. From ALA: “William C. Morris was an influential innovator in the publishing world and an advocate for marketing books for children and young adults. Bill Morris left an impressive mark on the field of children’s and young adult literature. He was beloved in the publishing field and the library profession for his generosity and marvelous enthusiasm for promoting literature for children and teens.” Note: what an extraordinary year this has been for debut authors! Three of these are high on my to-read pile, but I still haven’t cracked even one of them yet. On the upside, much to look forward to!

As Good as Anybody by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Raul Colon (Knopf, 2008): a recommendation from author Shana Burg. Peek: “It was only after I read this beautifully-told and gorgeously-illustrated picture book that I learned the extraordinarily powerful story behind the story: namely, what led to Michelson’s passion for civil rights in the first place. Like the men he writes about, Michelson too transformed a horrible childhood experience into a future devoted to justice.” Read a Cynsations interview with Shana.

Writers You’ll Be Hearing a Lot About by Sarah Aronson from Through the Tollbooth. A celebration of pre-published talent. See interviews with: Gene Brenek (who, incidentally, designed the Sanguini’s T-shirts); Elly Swartz; Kellye Carter Crocker (one of my former VCFA students–go, Kellye!); Sean Petrie (of the Austin community).

Autographed Books for the Holidays Contest from Donna Gephart at Wild About Words. Enter to win one of two autographed copies of As If Being 12 3/4 Isn’t Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President! (Delacorte, 2008). Deadline: midnight: Dec. 17 (not sure of time zone). Read a Cynsations interview with Donna.

Keep Writing! by Jill Cocoran Books. Reflections on the financial status of publishing from a variety of voices.

Reminder: Firebrand Literary is taking a Query Holiday: see detailed information on how to submit your first chapter between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15. Note: due not submit without reading guidelines.

Book Party Tips from Marianne Mancusi from Pub Rants. Peek: “Gift Bags! Take a page from red carpet events and make up gift bags for each guest. You can solicit companies to donate products—it’s much easier than you might think!”

AuthorsNow!: “The Internet’s Largest Collection of Debut Authors and Illustrators.” Peek: “New talent is in town! Learn about what’s hitting the shelves in children’s and teen literature today from our debut authors and illustrators. Not only will you find information about our books, but we’ll also point you to other popular groups, web sites, blogs, and communities who love children’s books as much as we do!” See also the application to become an AuthorsNow! member.

Check out the book trailer for Take the Reins (Canterwood Crest) by Jessica Burkhart (Aladdin Mix, Jan. 2009)

I Heart Daily: a free email newsletter and website that delivers one item each day from the world of entertainment, fashion, beauty or news. The idea for I Heart Daily was born when former co-workers Anne Ichikawa and [YA author] Melissa Walker were both editors at the now-defunct teen magazine ELLEgirl. They realized there was no resource providing content that appealed to the girl who knows what she wants and likes, but is always open to get psyched for something new. “Each day, you’ll find out about one thing we think you’ll like,” explain Anne and Melissa. “The band you should hear, the girl who’s making a difference in the world, the new lip gloss color that looks good on everyone, the undiscovered designer who is making amazing clothes. Our reader understands that what’s interesting is more than just what’s trendy. You’ll never hear about stuff we hate, just stuff we heart.” Source: Debbi Michiko Florence.

Interview with 2008 Oregon Book Award Winner Sara Ryan from Multnomah County Library Podcasts. “Librarian Laural Winter interviews 2008 Oregon Book Award Winner for Young Adult Literature Sara Ryan about her book The Rules for Hearts (Viking, 2007).” Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

Attention Authors, Illustrators, Web Promotion Pros: remember to include the publisher, publication date, and ISBN for each book on your websites. Please also be aware that reviews are copyrighted. You may not reproduce them in the whole without permission. Stick with a short quote and a link back to the review source.

Kids ♥ Authors Day: “Bookstores, authors, and illustrators are teaming up to make V-Day 2009 an unforgettable one for New England families.” New England authors, illustrators, booksellers, and media can find out how to participate here. Source: Cynthia Lord.

More Personally

Thanks to all who cheered the cover of Eternal (Candlewick, Feb. 2009)! The book now has its own page on my official website, and the readers’ guide (warning: spoilers) is up too. If you’d like a smaller version of the countdown widget, you can find it on either of those pages. More Web features are in the works and will roll out over the next couple of months.

On a related note…

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith — Review from Karin’s Book Nook. Peek: “Reading Tantalize first isn’t necessary, so in February when Eternal hits the shelves run to the bookstore and get your copy.”

Last weekend I had the pleasure of co-leading Austin SCBWI‘s Day with an Editor with Jill Santopolo of HarperCollins. Thanks so much to RA Tim Crow, workshop hostess Debbie Gonzales, her dedicated team of volunteers, and all who participated! Read a Cynsations interview with Jill. See also author Kristi Holl‘s thoughts on the day from The Gift of Time at Writer’s First Aid. Here’s a pic of Jill herself…

Another of Jill, this one with VCFA student and Sanguini’s T-shirt illustrator Gene Brenek.

Author Lindsey Lane.

VCFA student Jennifer Taylor.

An array of talented participants (on break).

And refreshments provided by Caribbean Cart Catering.

In other news, author-illustrator Annette Simon sends in this shot of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) from a Wal-Mart in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Thanks, Annette! Note: a non-writer pal asked me this week why folks were sending in photos of my book in stores across the country, and my answer was: “Because it’s never happened before, and these are people who know that for someone who’s been writing and loving books so long, it’s a small miracle.” Thanks again to all for the enthusiasm, support, and cheers.


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.


Here’s a little peek at home life–say howdy to Leo in his house.