Cynsational News & Giveaways

Winners of the Cynsations Giveway of signed Eternal ARCs are: Olivia in Connecticut; Michelle in New York; Jocelyn in North Carolina; and Jennifer, a YA librarian in Wyoming! Congratulations to all of the winners! Your copies will go out on my next trip to the post office. Note: didn’t win? See an opportunity immediately below to win a final copy from Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central and look for my next post (later today) on the Eternal Grand Prize Giveaway from Cynsations!

Enter to Win One of Five Copies of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) from Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central. Here’s the giveaway question: “If you had a guardian angel (and maybe you do!), what would his or her name be, and what would they be like?” Contest begins Feb. 1 and ends Feb. 28. See additional details. Note: Thanks to Candlewick Press and Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central!

February giveaways at Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central also include five copies of 3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows by Ann Brashares (Delacorte, 2009) and ten copies of Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (Harcourt, 2009 ).

Read a Cynsations interview with author Kimberly Pauley of Young Adult & Kids Book Central about her own fang-ful novel, Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe)(Mirrorstone, 2008).

More News & Giveaways

Interview with Justina Chen Headley from Debbi Michiko Florence. Peek: “A couple of days later, I bumped into his mom and I was telling her what a great job she had done parenting him because he didn’t let his birthmark get in his way. She looked at me and said, ‘That’s because he’s a boy.’ That got me thinking: what would it be like for a girl to be under constant scrutiny?” Enter to win a copy of Justina’s latest YA novel, North of Beautiful (Little, Brown, 2009) from Debbie. Deadline: Feb. 13. Read Cynsations interviews with Justina and Debbi.

KidLitosphere Central: The Society of Bloggers in Children’s and Young Adult Literature. Note: “KidLitosphere Central strives to provide a passage to the wonderful variety of resources available from the society of bloggers in children’s and young adult literature.” Special thanks to the board: Pamela W. Coughlan, Director, of MotherReader; Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy; Kelly Herold of Big A, little a; Anne Boles Levy of Cybils; Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page.

Something Very Smart Writers Do by Janet Reid, Literary Agent. Peek: One of my favorite editors dropped me a quick email today to ask for more info about the author of a book of mine he’s considering. I had a couple lines on file from the query letter, but nothing really zippy and exciting. What to do?”

It’s Not the Books That Are Dog-Eared: Program at Library Spurs Young Readers by Charity Corkey from The Washington Post. Peek: “The program aims to promote the self-confidence of young readers by having them practice the skill in front of a friendly, nonjudgmental dog, said Beth Weisman, media officer for the Loudoun County library system.” Source: Public Education Network.

Celebrating the Debut of Shadowed Summer: enter to win one of three awesome prize packages in celebration of Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell (Delacorte, 2009). Grand prize is the Extremely Haunted Gift Bag! It contains: A signed copy of Shadowed Summer, with a limited edition matte jacket; a vial of Haunted perfume oil from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab!; a leather-bound, hand-stitched journal; a blackpaper spell book & gel pen; a playable Ouija board keychain; an engraved river stone; a Shadowed Summer bookmark; a Shadowed Summer T-shirt; a Fresh Films T-shirt; a Fresh Films DVD; a bottle of Tabasco Red Hots; and Tabasco Spicy Chocolates! Deadline: Feb. 9. See details here. See also an interview with Saundra from Jessica Burkhart’s Blog. Peek: “I love the going-away time, when I actually leave my desk and slip into the world I’m writing. It feels like a physical leaving- but it also leads to my least favorite part, which is ending the book.”

Writers Together: Where Your Voice Will Be Heard: a new author promotional site from C. L. Freire. Peek: “C. L., an author herself, knows full-well the importance of marketing oneself, and how difficult it can be at times. A strong advocate of “Letting your voice be heard,” she wanted to give writers a place to come, meet, discover new authors, and be introduced to the work of authors of different genres.” Learn more about the launch. Note: See my author spotlight!

An Interview with Stephanie Greene by Tami Lewis Brown at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “The Lucky Ones (Greenwillow, 2008) is considered upper middle grade. I’ve seen it in the YA section of book stores, but it’s in the JF section of our local library. I think this is because it not only deals with a 12-year-old girl’s awakening awareness of her body, her sister’s antics with drinking and sex, and her parent’s troubled marriage, but because of the writing, itself.”

Inkheart the movie by Claire E. Gross from The Horn Book. Peek: “…the movie embraces the book’s own pace and tone; and the result feels if not exactly fresh then at least individual.”

How Can We Encourage Reading Aloud? from Jen Robinson’s Book Page. Peek: “What do you all say to the idea of some sort of international campaign to encourage reading aloud to kids? A campaign for literacy, if you will, but one focused specifically on the benefits of parents and teachers reading aloud to kids.”

Author Jennifer Ziegler (part two): by Madeline from BookKids Recommends. Peek: “Today, I’m going to focus on Jennifer’s lesser known works – her teen mass market publications.” Don’t miss part one. Note: it’s so awesome that BookKids celebrates and supports local talent!

self-doubt – see, doubt of self by Sara Zarr at Teen Fiction Cafe. Peek: “Try to show yourself at least the decency and compassion and wisdom that you’d show a friend. This may involve a lot of talking to yourself, but that’s okay.” Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

The Necessity of Thinking Time
by Justine Larbalestier. Peek: “I’m more and more convinced that many of the people who can’t get started because they only have an idea but no plot or characters, or a plot but no setting or characters etc, are simply not ready to write that particular story yet.” Read a Cynsations interview with Justine.

Typealyzer: a quick personality analysis for your blog. Source: Tara Lazar.

Congratulations to author Lisa Yee on the launch of Absolutely Maybe (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 2009)! From the promotional copy: “Meet Maybelline Mary Katherine Mary Ann Chestnut, named for two Miss Americas and her mother Chessy’s favorite brand of mascara. Chessy teaches the students in her charm school her Seven Select Rules for Young Ladies, but she won’t tell Maybe who her real father is–or protect her from her latest scuzzball boyfriend. So Maybe hitches a ride to California with her friends Hollywood and Thammasat Tantipinichwong Schneider (aka Ted)–and what she finds there is funny, sad, true, and inspiring…vintage Lisa Yee.” Get the whole behind-the-scenes scoop from Lisa. Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

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.

The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books: “celebrates outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults. AAAS and Subaru are pleased to sponsor these prizes, which promote science literacy by drawing attention to the importance of good science books.” See the 2009 winners. Source: Miss Rumphius Effect.

Interview with Neil Gaiman: a podcast from Just One Book. Peek: “His book Coraline will be released as a movie on February 6th of this year, and yesterday, he won the 2009 Newbery award for The Graveyard Book. On this edition of Just One More Book!!, author Neil Gaiman talks about blogging, giving his books away for free on the Internet and keeping his fans up to date using Twitter.”

Adding Dimension to the Storytelling by John Clark from The New York Times. Peek: “During the title sequence of [the film] ‘Coraline,’ Henry Selick’s latest stop-action animated movie, two hands disembowel a doll and then reassemble it with needle and thread.” Note: see movie trailer below.

Caldecott Honor is Sweet reward by Dagney C. Ernest of Village Soup. Peek: “Monday morning, Melissa Sweet of Rockport, a children’s book illustrator and author, got one of the calls everyone in her field dreams about…only she didn’t actually get it.”

Supergirl: Interviewing Debut Author Liz Funk by Lauren Baratz-Logsted from Teen Fiction Cafe. Peek: “I had always felt a lot of pressure to be perfect and I felt like there was always a better version of me that I could become—more successful, prettier, more desirable, at a better college, etc. etc.—and I’m pretty sure I had that impression and those self-depreciating thought patterns from the media. I had just always been thinking about these pressures on teen girls.”

No Laughter Here by Rita Williams-Garcia from readergirlz book buzz. Diva Justina Chen Headley says: “No Laughter Here is an important must-read for girls today. One that will make girls think about our rights as women. About what makes us women. About what we can do to advocate for those without voices.” Download this month’s readergirlz poster. Learn more about Rita. Mark your calendar to discuss the book with author Rita Williams-Garcia! She’ll be chatting live at the readergirlz forum at MySpace on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST. The chat will last for about an hour. Check out the readergirlz roundtable on No Laughter Here. Read a Cynsations interview with Rita, and check out Jump Up for Rita week at Through The Tollbooth.

Poetry and Multicultural Awards by Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children. Peek: “My ‘Everyday Poetry’ column in the January issue of Book Links looked at last year’s major multicultural awards and paired each winner with a book of poetry, including the Coretta Scott King award, Pura Belpre award, American Indian Youth Literature award and Asian/Pacific American award. There wasn’t room for everything I wanted to include, so I’ll share the rest with you here.” Read a Cynsations interview with Sylvia.

Small Graces: A Painting a Month for the FCB: a monthly art auction to benefit the Foundation of Children’s Books from author-illustrator Grace Lin. Peek: “The original paintings (done by me, Grace Lin) will all be illustrated small bits of wisdom (inspired by the collecting I’ve been doing for on my personal blog for Fortune Cookie Fridays). There will be a new painting a month for the year of 2009.” Read a Cynsations interview with Grace.

News from the American Indian Library Association from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature. Peek: “… [Sherman] Alexie‘s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian will be coming out in paperback, and that its publisher (Little, Brown) will provide free copies to every tribal library in the United States.”

2008 Nominees: The Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. Juvenile category nominees include The Postcard by Tony Abbott (Little, Brown) and YA nominees include Paper Towns by John Green (Dutton). Read Cynsations interviews with Tony about his nominated book and with John about his previous title, An Abundance of Katherines (Dutton, 2006).

The Spectacle: authors talk about writing speculative fiction for teens and pre-teens. Members are Parker Peevyhouse, P. J. Hoover, Jo Whittemore, Greg R. Fishbone, and Linda Joy Singleton. Read Cynsations interviews with P. J., Jo, Greg, and Linda Joy.

Understanding children caught between cultures: an interview with Julia Alvarez by Alice Cary at BookPage. Peek: “‘Displacement is just part of the human story,’ she says. ‘You don’t have to be an immigrant to write about that, because we’ve all felt it.'”

Guest Blogger Sherri L. Smith: On Passing and Identity from Finding Wonderland: The WritingYA Weblog. Peek: “So, then, how do you walk away from who you come from when they are encoded in your DNA? If Ida Mae marries a white man, will she still worry that their first child’s skin will be dark like her mother’s, or her brothers’? Will the baby’s heritage show itself in the genes? Or just in a familiar smile, a way of laughing that twists Ida’s heart because it sounds like the brother she left behind?”

Welcome back, Buried in the Slushpile! Cheers to you and your young reader (in progress)!

The Unenthusiastic Agent from Allison Winn Scotch at Ask Allison. Peek: “My agent hasn’t been able to sell my manuscript, and I’m getting less than positive vibes from her now. Is it possible to take the manuscript to a new agent, or do I have to give up on this book? Should I find someone new regardless?”

Marvelous Marketer – Jay Asher (Author of Th1rteen R3asons Why) from Shelli at Market My Words: Marketing Advice for Authors/Illustrators from a Marketing Consultant & Aspiring Children’s Book Author. Peek: “The book clubs are a great way to get a number of students talking about your book when you can’t travel to their schools.”

The Quest for Authenticity: A writer reveals how she finds the heart of a story by Tanya Lee Stone from School Library Journal. Peek: “Nonfiction writers go to great lengths to offer their most truthful work. Sometimes it is the story behind the story that reveals those lengths.” Read a Cynsations interview with Tanya. See also Conversations with Dead People: Mysterious deaths always seem to delight by Kathleen Baxter from School Library Journal. Peek: “Murder. Mysterious deaths. Mummies. They all add up to a ‘can’t miss’ booktalk.”

A Letter From A Bookseller from M. J. Rose at Buzz, Balls & Hype: Because there are over 175,000 books published a year and they can’t all get reviews in the NYTBR. Peek: “Last year when a big California indy was closing, I read a news story with mournful words from neighboring authors who were so sad. When I looked up their websites, only 2 had a link to the struggling indy now forced to close.”

Black History Month, Jewish Style by Heidi Estrin from The Book of Life: “a podcast about Jewish people and the books we read.” Peek: “[Richard Michelson] won the 2009 Sydney Taylor Book Award for his picture book, As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King Jr & Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom, and we’ve brought him back to talk about this new title.” See also: a podcast on The Sydney Taylor Book Awards. Peek: “an audio interview with Kathe Pinchuck, chair of the awards committee, to give you a sneak peak into the inner workings….”

Congratulations to Jenny Moss on the release of Winnie’s War (Walker, 2009). From the promotional copy: “A debut novel set against the backdrop of the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Life in Winnie’s sleepy town of Coward Creek, Texas, is just fine for her. Although her troubled mother’s distant behavior has always worried Winnie, she’s plenty busy caring for her younger sisters, going to school, playing chess with Mr. Levy, and avoiding her testy grandmother. Plus, her sweetheart Nolan is always there to make her smile when she’s feeling low. But when the Spanish Influenza claims its first victim, lives are suddenly at stake, and Winnie has never felt so helpless. She must find a way to save the people she loves most, even if doing so means putting her own life at risk.” See also DebReviews Presents: An Interview with Jenny Moss from 2010: A Book Odyssey.

Can You Query if You’re an Unpublished Novelist and Your Novel Isn’t Finished? from Nathan Bransford at Curtis Brown. Note: probably the shortest post I’ve ever highlighted, but it actually makes an important point that seems lost on a lot of folks. Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Contest: Win a role in my latest short story from author Libba Bray. Peek: “I am having a lot of fun writing my little rock-n-roll vampire story. But I have a problem: I can’t seem to come up with a name for my main character or any of the characters really. Nothing that’s sticking. Nothing that feels right. Quel tragique! So why not offer you guys the chance to be characters in my story?” Deadline: Feb. 7. Read a Cynsations interview with Libba.

Recommended Reading List from Locus Online: great picks for YA speculative fiction fans.

The 2009 Winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children is Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator by Shelley Tanaka, illustrated by David Craig (Abrams). The award is given by the National Council of Teachers of English. See honor books and more information. Note: Shelley is one of my fellow faculty members in the MFA program for Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Be Still My Heart: A Shameless Guide to Sweet, Sexy Romance Novels for Teens and Tweens by Donna Freitas from School Library Journal. Peek: “…fair warning: I’m going to be shameless in my offering of romantic bliss, even in its cheesiest, most blush-inducing form, because there’s a worthwhile place for these books in our kids’ imaginations.”

Pam Bachorz: official site of the debut author of Candor (Egmont, Sept. 2009). Peek: “As far as she knows, Pam has never been brainwashed. Or maybe that’s just what she’s supposed to say.”

President reads book to schoolkids: CNN reports that “President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama made a surprise visit to a local charter school, joking that they wanted to get out of the White House. During their visit, the first couple read a copy of The Moon Over Star [by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (Dial, 2008)– a book about the 1969 moon landing — to 25 stunned second-graders at the Capital City Public Charter School.” Source: Annette Simon. Note: to see the Obama’s reading and learn more about their visit to the school, see Second-graders brighten Obama’s Daschle-dashed day by Dave Cook from the Christian Science Monitor. Read a Cynsations interview with Dianna.

Thanks to Gottawrite Girl for a great run, and good luck with your writing!

Cover Art for The Less-Dead (Delacorte) by April Lurie from April Afloat. Note: take a sneak peek! Read a Cynsations interview with April.

Monthly Special: Love Stories: a bibliography of recommended YA novels from The Horn Book.

A Dirty Little Secret: Self-censorship is rampant and lethal by Debra Lau Whelan from School Library Journal. Peek: “…70 percent of librarians say they won’t buy certain controversial titles simply because they’re terrified of how parents will respond.” Source: Brent Hartinger. Note: the only one of my titles anyone has objected to my presenting? Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006). Also, is it just me, or was this an especially awesome issue of SLJ?

Picture Books in Hard Times
from Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “picture books depicting families experiencing economic hardship.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

Congratulations to Kathi Appelt, whose Newbery Honor Book, The Underneath (Atheneum, 2008), marked her debut on The New York Times Bestseller List this week, coming in at #9 in the “Chapter Books” category! Read a Cynsations interview with Kathi.

Art for Cats: Top illustrators and New Yorker cartoonists have contributed original art and limited edition prints to save cats and kittens from certain death. Starting bids for most pieces are set at $100 or less — well below their actual value. Featured artists include Cynthia von Buhler, author-illustrator of The Cat Who Wouldn’t Come Inside (Houghton Mifflin, 2008).

The Hollow by Jessica Verdy (Simon Pulse, 2009) is coming soon! Note: I love snail mail.

Cyn-Related News, Reviews & Interviews

YA Wednesday: Eternal from Omnivoracious: Hungry for the next good book. Peek: “Eternal plays skillfully with questions of life and death, fall and redemption, and what it means to save and be saved.”

Author Interview: Cynthia Leitich Smith from Kimberly J. Smith at Cool Kids Read. Peek: “Eternal is set in Austin, Dallas and Chicago, as well as a fictional North Shore Suburb of the Windy City.”

Author Uma Krishnaswami asks: “What made you go from picture books to culturally grounded middle grade and tween books, to urban vampire fantasy? Just how many Cyns are there in your head?” Read a Cynsations interview with Uma.

Special Edition: The Cynsational Cynthia Leitich Smith from Shelli at Market My Words: Marketing Advice for Authors/Illustrators from a Marketing Consultant & Aspiring Children’s Book Author. Peek: “Consistency is more important than an all-out blitz. Sure, you’ll probably want to shout it from the rooftops when you finally hold that new novel in your hands. But in the long run, it’s more important to look for regular ways to highlight it as long as it’s in print.”

Author Name Pronunciation Guide: Cynthia Leitich Smith from Note: in case you want to hear my voice and find out more about my name or other authors’ names!

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.

Highlights of the week included receiving an ARC for Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2009), which features my short story, “Cat Calls.”

It was a treat to see Eternal featured in the February issue of “My Borders Monthly!” It’s listed under “dark and thrilling reads” among awesome new releases including pal Lisa McMann‘s Fade (Simon & Schuster) and pal Janni Lee Simner‘s Bones of Faerie (Random House). Talk about great company!

Thanks to Betty Jo Tucker’s Blog for recognizing Cynsations as a Brilliante Weblog! Thanks also to Kimberly J. Smith at Cool Kids Read for Counting Down the Days Until Eternal and announcing last week’s ARC giveaway! Speaking of thanks, cheers also to Gwenda Bond!

If you want me to see a post related to Eternal (or anything else), please email me with the link. (I do not do Google Alerts as I’ve observed that they lead to insanity). Thank you!

Here, Kitty Kitty!: my amazing web designer, Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys, has given my cats an online presence that’s actually worthy of them. As these are the two most preferred pages by elementary readers, I’m especially thrilled. Check out the Official Writer Cat Bios, Kit Lit: Cat-Themed Picture Books, and suggest more books for Mercury and Sebastian to review. Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

So, do you think I can find anyone who wants to go with me to see this? Note: of course it was a hint!

Cyn’s Events

Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith will be on a panel about “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). Peek: “Sometimes getting that first draft down is the biggest hurdle to bringing a great idea to literary life. Find out how several authors approach the first draft.” Note: “Before the program, join us at Doc’s Motorworks Bar & Grill, 1123 S. Congress (two blocks south of the WLT office for a ‘Mixand Mingle Happy Hour.'”

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 sign Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) at 3 p.m. April 2 at Candlewick Booth at the annual conference of the Texas Library Association in Houston.

Cynthia and Greg will visit the Barbara Bush Branch Library in Spring, Texas; at 4 p.m. April 3. Note: Spring is outside of Houston.

Cynthia will visit the YA book club at the Cedar Park (Texas) Public Library at 11 a.m. May 30. Note: Cedar Park is outside of Austin.