Cynsational News & Giveaways

Congratulations to Rosemary Clement-Moore on the release of Highway to Hell (Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil)(Delacorte, 2009)! From the promotional copy: “Maggie Quinn was expecting to find plenty of trouble with Lisa over Spring Break. Give a girl a bikini, a beachfront hotel, and an absent boyfriend, and it’s as good as a road map to the dark side. But Maggie doesn’t have to go looking for trouble. Trouble has started looking for her. One dead cow and a punctured gas tank later, she and Lisa are stuck in Dulcina, Texas—a town so small that it has an owner. And lately life in this small town hasn’t been all that peaceful. An eerie predator is stalking the ranchland. Everyone in town has a theory, but not even Maggie’s psychic mojo can provide any answers. And the longer the girls are stranded, the more obvious it becomes that something is seriously wrong. Only no one—not even Maggie’s closest ally—wants to admit that they could have been forced on a detour down the highway to hell.” Note: Rosemary will be signing the book from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. March 14 at Barnes & Noble in Hurst, Texas! Note: I would be there myself, except I’m heading out of state this weekend. Read a Cynsations interview with Rosemary.

Definitions for the Perplexed: Sell-In and Sell-Through from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: “It’s a tough, tough business, and it’s only tougher these days. Do everyone a favor and go buy a book, okay?” Note: buy two! Also, if you haven’t already read through EA’s whole Publishing Dictionary. Very useful info.

Wonderful Bookclub Books! Cheap, Badly Bound, Wonderful Bookclub Books! from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: “The idea of the Scholastic Book Clubs is to make children’s books available at prices that children could conceivably afford. In poorer areas, this is a blessing, and studies have shown the important psychological difference that owning a book makes to children.”

Congratulations to those authors and illustrators whose works appear among the Children’s Choices for 2008: A project of the International Reading Association and The Children’s Book Council. Peek: “Each year 12,500 school children from different regions of the United States read and vote on the newly published children’s and young adults’ trade books that they like best. The Children’s Choices for 2008 list is the 34th in a series that first appeared as “Classroom Choices” in the November 1975 issue of The Reading Teacher (RT), a peer-reviewed journal for preschool, primary, and elementary levels published eight times a year by the International Reading Association (IRA).” Note: highlighted books include A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg (Delacorte, 2008).

Interview with Flux Editor Brian Farrey from Karen Kincy at Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “You can learn from writers whose material you don’t care for just as much as you can from writers whose material you adore. Know what’s out there. It’s very, very easy for me to spot a submission written by someone who hasn’t read a contemporary YA novel. Ever.” Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Attention, Writers with an Advanced Degree: The Fourteenth annual Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers’ Conference is scheduled for Aug. 11 to Aug. 17. Note: The event will include two workshops in Writing for Young Adults, led by award-winning author-teachers Kathi Appelt and An Na. Note: the event is open to all writers with an advanced degree, not just VCFA alumni (though of course we hope they’ll come).

Congratulations to Deborah Davis on the paperback release of Not Like You (Graphia, 2009)! From the promotional copy: ““Starting a new chapter” is how Kayla’s mother, Marilyn, has always referred to their abrupt moves—five in the past two years. But what Kayla hates even more than moving is Marilyn’s drinking. It once landed Kayla in foster care, so she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her mother from falling apart again. Just until she turns eighteen, less than three years away. Now Marilyn has moved them to New Mexico, and promised, yet again, to quit booze for good. Kayla knows better than to believe her, but something about this move does feel different. Kayla is putting down roots, earning money as a dog walker, and spending time with Remy, a twenty-four-year-old musician. He’s her refuge from Marilyn’s daily struggle to stay sober. And after years of taking care of her mother, Kayla is starting to think of herself and who she wants to be. She knows for sure who she doesn’t want to be. But is she willing to do whatever it takes to create her own life—even if it means leaving her mother behind?” Read an excerpt, listen to an excerpt, see discussion guide. School Library Journal said: “Thoughtful, touching, and honest, this story hits all the right notes…a book to learn from and remember.” Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah.

Dealing With Negativity from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “All of this boils down to one thing: negativity is a test of strength. If you show weakness in the face of negativity: you lose. If you show strength and character in the face of negativity: you win.” See also suggestions from Nathan’s readers on Dealing with Frustration. Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

How (and When) to Follow-Up with Agents and/or Editors from Tracy Marchini at My VerboCity. Peek: “Sometimes, it seems that writers are over-anxious in their follow-up methods after submitting to an agent or editor. Here’s some basic guidelines to make sure your follow-up is professional and effective.”

Karen Cushman: new official site from the Newbery author includes book information, news, 20 odd facts, and much more. See where she writes. Peek: “Now I live on a soft, green island near Seattle with my husband, Philip, who is a professor. Our daughter, Leah, is a librarian. The love of books runs in the family.” Note: Otis the cat is obviously awesome.

How to stay organized if you are a disorganized writer by Emily Marshall at Author2Author. Peek: “Sometimes I’m dealing with hundreds of story ideas, multiple drafts of a project, and even two or three books at a time. That’s a lot of computer files, paper, and general confusion.”

Agent Advice: Kelly Sonnack of The Andrea Brown Literary Agency from Chuck Sambuchino at Guide to Literary Agents. Note: Kelly is looking for middle grade fiction and cultural memoirs. Peek: “I will admit a particular soft spot for picture books but there’s only so many of those I can take on at a time. I really love literary, coming-of-age YA, as well as quirky and smart MG. I’m also particularly loving graphic novels for kids these days. We’re living in a time that is ripe for them, and it’s exciting to help shape that.” Source: Alice’s CWIM Blog.

Congratulations to Arthur Slade on the U.S. release of Jolted! See trailer below. Trying to get a feel for steampunk in the children’s-YA market? Check out the covers of Arthur Slade’s upcoming novel, The Hunchback Assignments.

Trapped by Kimberly Willis Holt at A Pen and a Nest. Peek: “As writers we sometimes forget to explore the endless possibilities when we create our worlds. Sometimes we hit a barrier and if we’re too tunnel-visioned we may lose the chance at adding another layer or plot point that enriches our story.” Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberly.

Sara Crowe Literary Agent: new official site features client list, news, and blog. Peek: “I am always looking for young adult fiction and middle grade fiction for my children’s list. I represent a few wonderful picture book writers and am not looking to add to that list at this time. I am open to hearing from author/illustrators.”

Swagology 101 by Mary Hershey from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “…as a former kid that had no disposable income, I love being able to give a child something totally free, no strings attached. I give out postcards, candy, stick-on gem earrings, small notebooks, fun erasers, and pencils. Only the postcards have my promotional information on them.”

Author-Illustrator Salima Alikham: official site of the Austin based children’s book creator. Salima’s books include Rocky Mountain Night Before Christmas by Joe Gribnau (Pelican) and Pieces of Another World by Mara Rockliff (Sylvan Dell). She looks forward to the publication of The Pied Piper of Austin (Pelican, 2009). Peek: “My mother is from Germany, and my father was born in India and raised in Pakistan. Therefore I grew up with a very interesting mix of fairy tales in the household.” Note: Salima makes her home in Austin.

The Book Roast blog will be hosting a Pitch Party on St. Patrick’s Day–March 17 from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. EST. Peek: “We’re inviting participants to submit a pitch for a book (real or for fun). The theme is ‘luck,’ and the pitches will be limited to 75 words. One pitch per participant. You’ll have fun, and you can use a pen name if you like! Five highly esteemed editors (Evil Editor; Editorial Anonymous; Edittorrent; Moonrat; Ms. Spitfire) will select their favorite three, and say why those pitches stood out. The winning pitches will be announced at 9 p.m. EST.” Note: “Ms. Spitfire is technically in marketing, but she has occasion to touch the slush.” More info will be posted late Friday evening on the Book Roast blog.

Books for Teens of Color from GalleyCat. Peek: “Here are few hints: They have sold nearly 5 million copies of their books. There are over 15 books in the series. They’ve received accolades from the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, the Young Adult Library Services Association and were selected for the 2009 Quickpicks for Reluctant Readers. In fact, they are among the most buzzed about books in high schools and middle schools around the country. What are they? The Bluford Series, published by Townsend Press.” See also the teacher’s guide to the series. Source: April Henry.

Exploring Diversity through Children’s & Young Adult Books: Background Reading from my website. Notes: (1) Additional sections of the site celebrate interracial, Asian/Asian-American and Native American themes in youth literature as well as other historical underrepresented communities in the field. Please feel free to suggest additional resources. (2) Those wishing to support authors-illustrators from the Native community may want to add the widget available at JacketFlap. Special thanks to author-illustrator Don Tate for featuring the Native authors widget at his blog, Devas T. Rants and Raves.

A Story of a Teenager’s Suicide Quietly Becomes a Best Seller by Motoko Rich from The New York Times. Read a Cynsations interview with Jay Asher. Source: Gwenda Bond.

Q & A with Melissa Marr from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “…it only gets easier to work with this world. When I write I often know where my characters will go in the future.”

Congratulations to Jennifer Ziegler on signing with Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency and to Erin for signing with Jennifer! Congratulations to on the sale of Jennifer’s “Sass & Stupidity” to Stephanie Elliott at Delacorte. Read Cynsations interviews with Jennifer and Erin.

Resource Recommendations

Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland (Image Continuum, 1993). As relevant for writers as musicians as painters as photographers as dancers, this economical slim paperback is a godsend for anyone who’s a human being and trying to create art.

Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers by Susan Shaughnessy (HarperCollins, 1993). This gem of a paperback is a must-have for the writer’s peace of mind and piece of soul. From the promotional copy: “This daily motivator of people who write provides an insistent wake-up call for the creative urge, with insights on how to work against resistance, live with the loneliness, develop discipline, and dare to take deeper risks in their work. These 200 essays explore every aspect of the process of writing.”


Enter to win a paperback copy of Never Trust a Dead Man by Vivian Vande Velde (Magic Carpet Books/Harcourt, 2008)(originally published in 1999) from Cynsations. To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Dead Man” in the subject line. I’ll touch base if you win. Deadline: March 18! All Cynsational readers are eligible! Read a Cynsations interview with Vivian.

Donations Request

Serene Hills Elementary Library recently opened in conjunction with its new elementary school in Austin (TX) Independent School District. Areas of interest include: (a) non-fiction, with a copyright no older than 2004. Non-fiction is needed at all levels K – 5th grade (are 12 would be highest); (b) fiction, in particular: picture books and any chapter books/I can read/Reading Rainbow and character-based series (e.g. Like Nate the Great, Junie B. Jones); (c) Texas authors – there is an entire reading program dedicated to Bootscooting Across Texas + Bluebonnet Book award winners; (d) hardcover and paperback, new or used. Send to: Serene Hills Elementary Library; 3301 Serene Hills Drive; Austin, TX 78738.

More Personally

The social highlight of the week was a surprise visit by author Shana Burg, who came bearing an out-of-this-world gift–a Princess-Senator Leia Organa Flash Drive!

Do you think it holds the plans to the Death Star?

I’m guessing that many of you will want one of your own. So FYI: designs featuring C3P0, Wicket, Luke Skywalker, and others are also available. Note: Han Solo and Boba Fett are low on stock (figures). See Star Wars MIMOBOT designer USB flash drives.

Attention Austinites: as you know, it’s almost time for SXSW 2009! If you’re like me and want to support our live music scene, but feel somewhat lacking in band savvy, you may want to check out Turn2live (“the first online tool that enables users to discover shows using intuitive search terms. These terms exist outside of the traditional boundaries of genre, artist and venue and include creative, mood-oriented keywords such as ‘sunny’ and ‘sensual.'”)

Donna Bratton at Simply Donna highlights Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002). Peek: “Through it all, Grandpa Halfmoon is there for him whether it is to rescue Ray from a catastrophic haircut, or to share a precious night-fishing trip where the biggest catch had nothing to do with a fish.”

Booklist calls Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) a “witty, dark love story of death and redemption” and says “Miranda and Zachary are complex, sympathetic characters, and their hopeful ending is well earned.”

Notes from the Hornbook says of Eternal, “Suspenseful, entertaining, and enthusiastically gruesome, Smith’s latest will be lapped up by vampire fans.”

Thanks to author P.J. Hoover for reading Eternal and saying “Love the attitude of the guardian angel (GA for short). So go out and buy this book.” Read a Cynsations interview with P.J.