Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win a copy of Masterpiece by Elise Broach, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Holt, 2008). From the promotional copy: “Marvin lives with his family under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays’ apartment. He is very much a beetle. James Pompaday lives with his family in New York City. He is very much an eleven-year-old boy.

“After James gets a pen-and-ink set for his birthday, Marvin surprises him by creating an elaborate miniature drawing. James gets all the credit for the picture and before these unlikely friends know it they are caught up in a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that could help recover a famous drawing by Albrecht Dürer. But James can’t go through with the plan without Marvin’s help. And that’s where things get really complicated (and interesting!). This fast-paced mystery will have young readers on the edge of their seats as they root for boy and beetle.”

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 Jan. 5! Please also type “Masterpiece” in the subject line.

The winners of ARCs of Dead Is a State of Mind by Marlene Perez (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Jan. 2009)(author interview) were Penny, a YA librarian from Illinois; Lynda, a YA librarian in Texas; Laurie, a YA librarian from Michigan; Meghan, a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! from Maine, and Jamie, a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! from Kentucky. Note: Laurie and Lynda both won in the “Cynsational reader” category, which is open to but not restricted to librarians (there were just a lot of librarian entries for this particular title).

More News

The PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship of $5,000: “offered annually to an author of children’s or young-adult fiction. The Fellowship has been developed to help writers whose work is of high literary caliber but who have not yet attracted a broad readership.” Deadline: Jan. 16, 2009.

Editor Arthur Levine sharing his handmade copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a gift from J. K. Rowling. Source: Pottercast via Lisa Yee.

Writing and Risk, Redux by Sara Ryan. Peek: “With any kind of narrative, anywhere I encounter it, I’m nearly always double-tracking: getting to know characters and following the plot, but simultaneously thinking about structure, stakes, how quickly the conflicts are established, the rhythm of the prose. It is far rarer for me to simply fall into a story.” Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

Interview with P. J. Hoover from Authors Unleashed. Peek: “Set goals now. Write them down. Really think about what you want to accomplish, and you’ll be worlds ahead of the world!” Read a Cynsations interview with P. J.

From Page to Screen: The Tale of Despereaux movie review by Claire E. Gross from The Horn Book. Peek: “Despereaux-the-film is solid movie-making–and decent storytelling. But without the balance of dark undercurrents, it lacks the staying power of DiCamillo‘s book.” Note: agreed.

This Year in Publishing by Nathan Bransford — Literary Agent. Peek: “Even with all the turmoil the industry has endured, as of October book sales this year were UP over 2007. Up!! Let’s repeat that with caps: UP!! How people are buying books is changing, what types of books they’re buying is changing, who’s publishing them is changing, but people are still buying them, and they still want good ones.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan. “Your World, Your Books:” official publisher site for YA books.

“The Teacher-Writer in the Mirror: Reflections on Making the Most of Dual Careers” by Liana Mahoney from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “My list of publishing credentials grew, and I suddenly found myself turning enough of a profit that I now had the option of leaving my teaching career. This was a tempting thought, since, at the time, I was frustrated by the lack of support in my classroom. In contemplating this decision…”

YA and Urban Fantasy– Crossing generations and genres: a podcast at 5 p.m. Jan. 8 [unsure of time zone] “with NYT Bestselling authors Melissa Marr and Cassandra Clare along with authors Janni Lee Simner, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Carrie Jones, and Sarah Rees Brennan. Discussion moderated by Eos Executive Editor, Diana Gill.” Source: Cassandra Clare.

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simmer (Random House, Jan. 2009) Official Website. From the promotional copy: “The war between humanity and Faerie devastated both sides. Or so fifteen-year-old Liza has been told. Nothing has been seen or heard from Faerie since, and Liza’s world bears the scars of its encounter with magic. Corn resists being harvested; dandelions have thorns. Trees move with sinister intention, and the town Liza calls home is surrounded by a forest that threatens to harm all those who wander into it. Still Liza feels safe. Her father is strong and has protected their town by laying down strict rules. Among them: Any trace of magic must be destroyed, no matter where it is found. Then Liza’s sister is born with faerie-pale hair, clear as glass, and Liza’s father leaves the baby on a hillside to die. When her mother disappears into the forest and Liza herself discovers she has the faerie ability to see –into the past, into the future–she has no choice but to flee. Liza’s quest will take her into Faerie and back again, and what she finds along the way may be the key to healing both worlds.”

Interview with Susane Colasanti from What Vanessa Reads. Peek: “As a high school science teacher, I got to work with teens every day. But as an author, I can reach out to more teens and hopefully improve their lives in some way. Even if someone likes reading one of my books to escape for a while, I’ve maybe made their day a little brighter and that makes me happy.”

The Best Way for a New Writer to Break In by J. B. Cheaney from Kidlit Central. Peek: “What is changing, according to my agent, is the quality of manuscripts in all genres. More writers, apparently, not only don’t know how to write–they don’t know how to read.” Read a Cynsations interview with J. B. See also J. B. on What We Owe Children Who Read Our Books.

Congratulations to Laurie Faria Stolarz on the release of Deadly Little Secret (Hyperion, 2008)! From the promotional copy: “Until three months ago, everything about sixteen-year-old Camelia’s life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at an art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia’s life becomes far from ordinary. Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend’s accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She’s reluctant to believe he’s trouble, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. Instead she’s inexplicably drawn to Ben…and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help – but can he be trusted? She knows he’s hiding something…but he’s not the only one with a secret.” Read a Cynsations interview with Laurie.

I ♥ History: a new blog from Texas children’s author Lisa Waller Rogers. Lisa’s books include Angel of the Alamo: A True Story of Texas (W.S. Benson & Co., 2000); Get Along, Little Dogies: The Chisholm Trail Diary of Hallie Lou Wells (TTUP, 2001); The Great Storm: The Hurricane Diary of J.T. King, Galveston, 1900 (TTUP, 2002); and Remember the Alamo: The Runaway Scrape Diary of Belle Wood (TTUP, 2003).

Dude Looks Like a YA by Nathan Bransford — Literary Agent. Peek: “To me the separation between YA and Adult is not necessarily thematic, it has more to do with pacing and presentation.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass (Little Brown, 2008): a recommendation from Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: “…the three grow to appreciate each other, the search for exoplanets, and the wonders of the universe.”

Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Houghton Mifflin, 2008): a recommendation from Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: “…a fun, lively fantasy, full of personal and political machinations, and a little bit of magic.”

Favorites of 2008 from Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Middle grades include: The Postcard by Tony Abbott and Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass, both published by Little Brown, 2008.

Mind Blowers: Teen Books for the Precocious Reader by Emily at BookKids Recommends.

Tips for You from Agents Linda Pratt of Sheldon Fogelman Agency, Jennifer DiChiara of The Jennifer DiChiara Literary Agency and Tina Wexler of ICM from Colleen Ryckert Cook at Kidlit Central. Peek from Tina: “When it comes to author branding or building an identity, you must identify your focus: are you reaching future readers? Teachers and librarians? Other writers? As for blogs, always be aware of potential readers and keep content appropriate.”

Collected Whips of Thought: Official Blog of K. L. Going, Author of Young Adult Fiction. K. L.’s next book will be King of the Screw Ups (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, spring 2009).

Supporting Authors When Your Heart is Bigger than Your Wallet from Lisa Schroeder. Peek: “If you see an interesting interview or a great review about an author you know, put the link in your blog and point people there. Stuff like this is much more interesting when it comes from someone besides the author herself.”

Full Circle with David Almond: a correspondence between authors from Shana Burg. Peek: “When I heard you speak, I was riveted, and all of a sudden, I was struck with the idea that I was going to attempt to write a novel for young readers too.” Read a Cynsations interview with Shana.

First Pages by Daniel Schwabauer from Kidlit Central. Peek: “The trick is to present information that leaves something interesting unexplained. Your job is to drop hints that imply an intriguing answer, and then fulfill that expectation by answering the question in an intriguing way. This means, among other things, that you never answer your own questions until your reader needs you to.”

Congratulations to the 2008 Cybils Finalists! See the featured books in the following categories: Easy Readers; Fantasy & Science Fiction; Fiction Picture Books; Graphic Novels; Middle Grade Fiction; Non-Fiction Picture Books; Poetry; Young Adult Fiction. Note: Middle Grade/YA Nonfiction is still forthcoming. Highlights include Wake by Lisa McMann (Simon & Schuster) in Fantasy & Science Fiction; Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young (Little Brown)(illustrator interview) in Fiction Picture Books; Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures by Julie Larios, illustrated by Julie Paschkis (Harcourt); and Thaw by Monica Roe (Front Street/Boyds Mills)(author interview) in Young Adult.

5 Minutes With Neesha Meminger from Saundra Mitchell at Making Up Stuff for a Living. Peek: “Having to come up with something close to the power of the Punjabi words pushes me, challenges me to bridge the two, to merge them into something I can put forward to the reader and hope (pray) that I succeed in making that connection with them.”

Enter to Win
a Copy of Need by Carrie Jones (Bloomsbury, 2008). Deadline: midnight EST Jan. 8.

Business Notes

I receive many requests from folks to read their fiction (and others just send it without asking). Unfortunately, I am unable to critique these stories. If you are looking for a reader, I offer a list of qualified professionals on my main site.

Please also don’t write to pitch a book, to confirm whether I’ve received a book (or ARC), or to follow up asking whether I’ll be featuring a book. See submissions guidelines.

More Personally

Yowza! A sighting of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) in the same store as Lisa Schroeder‘s Far From You (Simon Pulse, 2008). Click the link to take a look! Shop Pickled Pixel Toe! Note: photo below is from a different store; see caption under the image.

And here’s another one (above) at Borders in the East 30s in Manhattan. Thanks to Melissa Walker for the photo!

After many years of buying more formal presents for the cats, we decided to give them what they wanted most–the leftover tissue paper. Here we have Bashi (gray) and Leo (tawny). This scene is typical of their relationship–Leo plunges in, and Bashi watches on with great interest.

Favorite Birthday Greeting: “Eternal good wishes! Hope your cake is tantalizing, and that you jingle dance the night away on your Indian shoes! P.S. By now, I’m sure Santa knows that Rain is not your Indian name.” — Elizabeth Bluemle, children’s author and owner of The Flying Pig

This holiday season brought many joys and one great loss. My great aunt Anne, to whom Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000) is dedicated, passed away this month. For a time, I lived with her in Dallas. She was like a grandmother to me. Aunt Anne was just shy of age 89 when she died.


Writing For The Mass Markets: My Publishing Boot Camp With Jennifer Ziegler at 11 a.m. Jan. 10 at BookPeople, sponsored by Austin SCBWI. “Discover what you can learn from writing for the mass markets. How does it differ from writing trade novels? Can it help or hurt your career? Will it improve your craft? Will it help you make valuable connections? Most importantly, will your literary friends and associates still want to hang out with you? Jennifer Ziegler, an Austin-based author and former English teacher, has been writing teen novels for twelve years – many of them for mass market YA series. One of them, Alias: Recruited (Bantam, 2002), made the New York Times’ Bestseller List for children’s chapter books. Her trade novels include How Not to be Popular (Delacorte, 20089)(author interview), and Alpha Dog (Delacorte, 2006)(author interview) which was a finalist for the 2007 Teddy Award.” Read a Cynsations interview with Jennifer.

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’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.

Cynthia will be speaking on “Writing and Illustrating Native American Children’s Literature” (with S. D. Nelson) and “Monsters and Magic: Writing Gothic Fantasy Novels for Teenagers” on March 15 at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Cynthia will visit the YA book club at the Cedar Park (Texas) Public Library at 11 a.m. May 30.