Cynsational News, Giveaways, and ALA Awards

Welcome back to Cynsations!

My winter hiatus has concluded, and it’s a great day for children’s-YA literature!

Congratulations also to all of the newly announced ALA winners and honorees!

I’ll leave the details and dissections to those fine folks who aren’t digging out of an email avalanche from spending much of this month teaching and go with the big picture.

Highlights included a few personal favorites (per Greg, per child_lit):

Newbery Honor: The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by David Small (Atheneum)(author interview);

King Author Honor Book: Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Wordsong)(author interview);

Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production: Recorded Books, producer of the audiobook The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, written/narrated by Sherman Alexie;

Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults: Laurie Halse Anderson;

William C. Morris Award: A Curse Dark as Gold written by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Arthur A. Levine);

Printz Honor Book: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II, The Kingdom on the Waves by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick)(author interview) and Printz Honor Book: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Hyperion)(author interview);

Belpré Honor and Illustrator Honor Book: The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos, illustrated by Lulu Delacre, written by Lucía González (Children’s Book Press)(author-illustrator interview);

Belpré Illustrator Award: Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Neil Porter/Roaring Brook)(illustrator interview).

Read Cynsations interviews with the following award-winners: Carole,* M. T. (“Tobin”), E. (Emily), Lulu,* Lucía,* Yuyi, and Kathi.*

*interview focuses specifically on the aforementioned award-winning book.

More News & Giveaways

Enter to Win an ARC of Geektastic, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (Little, Brown, August 2009). Peek: Miss Cecil says: “It has stories from all our favorite geeks: Kelly Link, M. T. Anderson, Garth Nix, Liz Brazwell, John Green, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Scott Westerfeld, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, David Levithan, Lisa Yee, Barry Lyga and Sara Zarr with comics written by [Cecil and Holly] and illustrated by Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O’Malley.” Talk ’bout geektastic company!” To enter: “Make us a geeky icon that screams geektastic! Or an icon for any one of the authors in the anthology. Or for [Cecil] or Holly.” See details from Cecil! See details from Holly! Winner announced Feb. 1.

Cheers to Laurie Halse Anderson, whose Chains (Simon & Schuster) has won the 2009 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction!

Interview with Simon Pulse Editor Michael del Rosario by Lisa Schroeder from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “Not in any particular order, the things that draw me to a manuscript would be: Humor, originality, an authentic voice, quirk, passion, flow, edge, and of course good writing.”

I Don’t Know Why I Love You Like I Do from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: “One of the most surprising discoveries young publishing professionals make upon finding a chair on this side of the desk is how many well-known, well-respected authors are totally incapable of telling when they’ve written something good and marketable, and when they really, really haven’t.”

Enter to Win one of 10 Copies of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P. C. Cast (BenBella, 2008) from Teen Libris. Peek: “…we’re giving away ten copies to bring some heat to the middle of your winter. (Not body heat, obviously, because– vampires!).” Immortal features my short story, “Haunted Love.” Deadline: Feb. 10.

Roxburgh Launches New Venture by Lynn Andriani from Publishers’ Weekly. Peek: “Namelos will develop children’s books independently with authors and artists and place them with agents, editors and publishers. The firm will also work with publishers on projects that need outside development.”

2009 Texas Book Festival Writing Contest: Texas junior high and high school students are invited to submit a piece of original fiction, no more than 2,000 words in length, to be judged by Texas authors, some of whom will appear at the 2009 Texas Book Festival in Austin, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Entries should focus on the theme, ‘In My Own Backyard.’ Judges will look for excellence in use of dialogue, imagery, character development, setting, plot, conflict and resolution. Submitted entries will be submitted in three divisions—Grades 7-8; Grades 9-10; Grades 11-12. Authors will enter the division for which they were a student during the 2008-09 school year. Schools are limited to three entries per division. There is no entry fee. Entries must be double-spaced and faxed to the Texas Book Festival office at 512.322.0722 no later than July 1. Prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place finishers per division. First place winners will be invited to Austin to receive an award and to read their works during the 2009 Texas Book Festival. Their winning entries will also be published on the Texas Book Festival Web site. See entry form.

28 Days Later, 2009: a Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature from The Brown Bookshelf: United in Story: check out the amazing authors and illustrators to be featured in the Brown Bookshelf’s latest awareness-raising campaign. Read a Cynsations interview with the founders of the Brown Bookshelf.

Action Alert: Please Call the Consumer Product Safety Commission from the American Library Association. Peek: “Making these [lead] testing regulations retroactive would require both school and public libraries to take drastic steps to come into compliance. They either would have to ban children from their libraries or pull every book intended for children under the age of 12 from their bookshelves at the time children are fostering a lifelong love of learning and reading.”

Subplots: a call for discussion by P. J. Hoover at Roots in Myth. Peek: “I’m sure we can all pull out the old Harry Potter example and say, ‘Look at all the masterful subplots J. K. Rowling managed so well in Harry Potter.’ But in all seriousness, who cares if the house elves have hats knitted for them (HP5)?” Note: don’t miss the comments. Read a Cynsations interview with P. J.

BronzeWord’s Blog: offers writers information on publishing news, especially that with an impact on Latinos/as, Latino/a book awards, Latino/a author’s new releases, agents and editors views and needs, writing techniques, contests guidelines, and conference information and marketing and promotional strategies. Articles feature writing news and inspiration. Guest bloggers are invited to submit articles in categories pertinent to publishing. Guest bloggers are welcome to announce new services or opportunities for Latino/a authors and writers. New writers are invited to ask questions, seek guidance, and announce their victories, no matter how small or how big. Teens are invited to comment, ask questions, and be published. (They can post poetry and short stories.) Published authors may talk about their experience, their marketing plans, ask for helping in getting word out on their books, etc. The goal is to provide the one place any Latino/a can come to for full coverage of the Latino/a book world and publishing industry. Soon books will be given away. Note: BronzeWord’s Blog is run by Jo Ann Hernandez. Her books, The Throwaway Piece (Arte Público, 2007) won first place and White Bread Competition (Arte Público, 1997) won second place at the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize contest at the University of California, Irvine.

Spicy Reads: Ed Spicer’s Teen Book Reviews.

78th Annual Writers Digest Writing Competition
: enter in the children’s/young adult division for a chance at the grand prize–$3,000 cash and a trip to New York City to meet with editors or agents. Deadline: May 15. Late entry deadline: June 1 (add $5 to entry fee). See more information.

Tea Shop Girl’s Blog from Laura Schaefer. Peek: “Laura loves to write almost as much as she likes to drink tea. She got her start as a contributor to the University of Wisconsin’s student paper The Daily Cardinal and went on to write regularly for The Princeton Review and Laura is the author of Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2005) [and The Teashop Girls (Paula Wiseman Books, 2009). “ site to debut Feb. 1. School administrators who want to pay an illustrator or author to speak at their school will be able to search for information in several ways: by state, region, the type of book (children’s, non-fiction, young adult, etc.), and can access more information from there. Page listings will include: synopsis of professional history, accomplishments, and reviews; information about speaking fees and requirements; a picture; a link to a list of publications; a link to an email address or website to use for contact. A discount is being offered to anyone who registers before Feb. 1. The regular fee is $59 annually, but those who register before Feb. 1 will be given an 18-month listing for $49. For more information, contact, Payment is accepted via PayPal, cash, check, or money order.

Working in Children’s Books and the Recession of 2008-09 by Harold Underdown at The Purple Crayon. Peek: “What should you do, if you write or illustrate or edit or design or do any of the other jobs that keep our business running?” Read a Cynsations interview with Harold.

Listen to a song by Ray Benson, celebrating Nacho the Party Puppy by Emma Virjan (Random House, 2008).

A Potter Week and Thoughts on Setting by Greg Leitich Smith from GregLSBlog. Peek: “I’d forgotten just how much Hogwarts is almost a character itself. In the books, Hogwarts is of course more than merely backdrop — being there over the school year drives some (much?) of the personal dynamic and fleshes out the conflicts with Snape and Malfoy and other students and faculty.”

Don’t discount the Newbery: Children’s books that deal seriously with serious issues can change readers’ lives by Susan Patron from the Los Angeles Times. Peek: “Looking back now, I see that some of the themes in those years included war, being torn from your family during an invasion, physical disability, losing a beloved dog. I’m grateful my librarian didn’t determine that those award books were inaccessible and too complicated, or that they dealt with inappropriate social issues. I’m glad I got to pick the ones I wanted to read.” Read a Cynsations interview with Susan.

Publicist Interview: Jennifer Taber of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “Authors can do themselves a great service by educating themselves about the current state of publishing and by communicating with their publicist about plans and goals.”

The Justified Line: Copyediting and manuscript evaluation services. Peek: “Welcome to the editorial services website of author Stacy DeKeyser. I have over 12 years of experience writing, critiquing, and copyediting both fiction and nonfiction for adults and children. I’ve taught workshops on submitting your work to publishers. I’ve worked with a number of different publishers, and I’m represented by one of the best agencies out there, so I have a pretty good idea of how editors and agents work.”

Social Networking Guilt: Get Over It by Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “Creative purists who scoff at social networks as a time-waster need to remember that a writer is only half the dialectic in this business. The other half is made up of readers, and these days young adults make calendaring and purchasing decisions via social networks.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

“Kids made this incredible art [below] after hearing author Tanya Lee Stone read her picture book about Alexander Calder’s circus made of found materials. The artist’s Cirque de Calder is on exhibit at the Whitney Museum. Stone’s picture book about Calder and his circus is called Sandy’s Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder. Illustrations in the book by Boris Kulikov. Published by Viking Children’s Books. (c) 2008.”

The Horn Book Acquired by Parent of Junior Library Guild from The Horn Book. Peek: “Media Source, Inc., is announcing its acquisition of the Boston-based children’s literature company, The Horn Book, Inc., publisher of The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide.” Note: If Roger is good with it, I’m good with it. Read a Cynsations interview with Roger Sutton.

Toe to Toe with Jen Bradbury: an interview with author Jennifer Bradbury by Daphne Grab from The Longstockings. A chatty, informal Q-and-A. Peek: “I make really good curry.” Read a Cynsations interview with Jennifer.

More Personally

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith: a recommendation by Mandy from Nocturnal Reviews. Peek: “Tantalize was just wow… I couldn’t stop reading it. I put aside schoolwork, saying I’d stop reading in another hour. But I kept reading and reading. Just like it’s name, I was definitely tantalized with every chapter, craving for more. I regret not reading this sooner!” Note: Mandy mentions a strong desire for a sequel, and there is more to come. Eternal, which will be released Feb. 10 in the U.S., is set in the same universe but features different main character. Then the two casts will crossover in a third novel, Blessed, which picks up with Quincie where Tantalize leaves off. There’s also a graphic novel adaptation of Tantalize (from Kieren’s POV) in the works! Stay tuned to Cynsations for more news!

As an author who’s new to seeing her books reach readers overseas, it was a thrill to see this announcement by Janet Tansley in the Liverpool Echo about Tantalize. On a related note, Tantalize will be published in France by Editions Intervista in April 2010.

I’m pleased to announce that Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001) is going into another printing. Rain is very much the kind of quiet, sometimes humorous, multicultural novel that is dependent on individual champions and word-of-mouth support. Of all my books, it’s also the one that’s generated–not the most mail, but the most personal mail. Letters from thoughtful tweens, facing grief and/or seeking a greater understanding and validation of their mixed-race identities. Thanks to all of you for your continued enthusiasm. It’s deeply appreciated.

The many highlights of the winter residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts included the inauguration of a new president of the United States. For my U.S. readers, whatever our individual political affiliations, this is certainly a time of change, a landmark moment. Please enjoy this poem, “American Baptism” (below) by Carole Boston Weatherford, and see also a Cynsations interview with Carole.

See also Civil Rights: Is There More to the Story? from Shana Burg. Peek: “When Professor Ruben Flores told me about his research looking at the similarities between the fight for Mexican American civil rights and African American civil rights, I knew I had to interview him for my blog. Here’s our conversation…” Read a Cynsations interview with Shana.

Congratulations to the Vermont College of Fine Arts graduating class of January 2009! And here’s one more cheer for VCFA faculty member and Newbery Honor author Kathi Appelt and VCFA Board of Trustees member and Printz Honor author M. T. “Tobin” Anderson!

And as if all that weren’t lovely enough, Carrie Jones loves me. Yay! P.S. Laughed out loud at David Lubar’s comment. I also thoroughly enjoyed Lisa Yee’s How Not to Get an Agent, featuring the irrepressible Peepy and my own fabulous agent, Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown.


YA Author Margo Rabb will be performing at five-minute monologue on Friday at Five Things in Austin. Peek: “The subject is women talking about men and their various grooming/icky habits. I’ll be talking about one of the worst jobs I ever had, cleaning men’s bathrooms.” Note: this is not a book event, but rather one that features an author. Read a Cynsations interview with Margo.

Join readergirlz‘s own Justina Chen Headley for the release of North of Beautiful (Little Brown, 2009) at 3 p.m. Feb. 1 at Barnes & Noble (626 106th Ave.) in Bellevue, Washington. Don’t miss the “Find Beauty Challenge,” wherein you’re invited to submit a 90-second video of what you find truly beautiful and thereby qualify to win an iPod. Justina also will donate $10 (up to $1,000) “to help kids with cleft lips in third-world countries.”

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).

“The Profit, Pleasures and Pitfalls of Author Visits to Schools” with author-illustrator Mark Mitchell will be at 11 a.m. Feb. 21 at BookPeople in Austin. “For published authors of children’s books, school visits can make a lot of sense. They’re a terrific way to connect with your market and, if done right, a revenue source for an author. The machinery of ‘school tours’ contains many moving parts: organization, ‘market positioning,’ salesmanship, public relations, communication, technology, travel, book sales, book-keeping and more. Mark will discuss [how to frame a business model that works] and will help to grow your success as an author. He’ll also touch on crafting a performance that speaks to the kids, and connects with them.” The event is sponsored by Austin SCBWI.

“Mark’s Raising La Belle (Eakin, 2002), about a 312 year old Texas shipwreck won the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America (for best juvenile nonfiction book) and the United States Maritime Literature Award. In 2006, he began touring schools with his Raising La Belle presentation. Since then he has visited 83 schools around the state and received many rave reviews from librarians, teachers, and students.”

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.

The First Annual African American Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference will take place on April 25. The conference will be held at the Hilton Charlotte University Place, in Charlotte North Carolina. Speakers will include: editor Sarah Ketchersid; editor Eileen Robinson; author Eleanora E. Tate; author-illustrator Don Tate; author Christine Taylor Butler; author Jacquelin Thomas; author Kelly Starling Lyons; and author Christine Young-Robinson.

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

Note: Cynthia on occasion speaks of herself in the third person. It’s a Kansas thing.