Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win a copy of Naco the Party Puppy, a board book by Emma J. Virjan (Random House, 2008)(book trailer above). To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Naco the Party Puppy” in the subject line. Deadline: April 29! Read a Cynsations interview with Emma.

Enter to Win an Eternal T-shirt this month at! Check out the available styles. Read a Cynsations interview with logo designer Gene Brenek. See the five-star review of Eternal from TeensReadToo. Peek: “This novel is definitely a page-turner. It is filled with danger, deception, humor, love, sadness, and hope.”

More News

Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror 2008 from Voya.

Writing Through Physical Pain from Kristi Holl at Writers First Aid. Peek: “Writing, as you know, demands a high level of energy, and people fighting chronic pain may use 30-50% of their daily energy just fighting their pain. If chronic pain threatens to stop you from writing, try these things…”

The Theory and Practice of Titles by B.W. Clough from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Peek: “Certainly it is true that a book these days is frequently marketed to bookstores on the cover flat and title alone, long before the actual text is printed. The buyers and jobbers never get a chance to read the deathless prose you sweat over. The first print run is then set depending on how copious those early orders are. And except in rare circumstances, the writer has no say at all about the cover art. So the book may stand or fall, utterly and solely, on the title you choose. ” Source: April Henry.

Something, Maybe is here…and the Out Of This World Contest from Elizabeth Scott. Note: first prize is your very own star, second prize is a $25 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice, and third prize is a signed copy of any of Elizabeth’s current novels. Deadline: April 26. See details. See also the Spread the Word contest to win one of six books/ARCs.

Writing Through Relationship Struggles by Kristi Holl from Writers First Aid. Peek: “Many talented writers lose confidence and lay aside their writing dreams because of marital problems. This isn’t necessary. However, it does require you to fall back and regroup when you have an unsupportive spouse, whether this person is just mildly irritated with you or has filed for divorce.”

Saying Yes to Possibility: The Art & Craft of Self-Promotion by Saundra Mitchell at Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “Unless you’re independently wealthy, send postcards to all the libraries in your home state, and again, make sure you write a personal note on each one.”

Author-illustrator Randy Cecil: official site of the author-illustrator of Duck (Candlewick, 2008) and Gator (Candlewick, 2007). Peek: “I have been illustrating, and sometimes writing, children’s books for the last twelve years and have had fifteen books published, with three more in production. I still feel like I am just getting started.” Note: I had the pleasure of meeting Randy at TLA this spring. He’s based in the Houston area.

Le Finis by Tami Lewis Brown from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Make it the best you can, close your eyes, and send it. You’ll never be published if your novel stays in a drawer. Perfect is an illusion. A novel languishing in a drawer is the absolute ultimate dead end.”

Author Shana Burg Visits Taylor, Texas High School from Taylor Independent School District. Peek: “‘As a young, Jewish junior high student in Boston, I found out first hand about discrimination and I understood why my father was so passionate to help with the grassroots struggle to end racial discrimination,’ Burg told the students.”

Sarah Garrigues (SAIR-ah GAIR-eh-guse): writer blog features helpful post on ‘Showing’ Vs. ‘Telling.’ A must-read for writers who have received critiques that their manuscripts are plot-driven rather than character-driven.

Twelve Years of Teaching on from Uma Krishnaswami. Peek: “I’m thrilled to announce that Debby Edwardson has just completed the first 8-week session of First Steps for beginning writers who want to write for young readers.” Read a Cynsations interview with Uma.

2009 Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award from Chicken Spaghetti.

Lobster Press Blog has a new location.

Book Transfusion Auction: silent auction for items designed/donated by participating YA authors. Funds raised will go directly to the purchase of books for teen hospitalized patients through the Giving Library. Dates: June 1 to June 30. Note: “We invite you to be a part of this year’s Book Transfusion fundraising drive by designing/decorating and donating any kind of denim item you would like – hats, bags, shirts, etc. to be auctioned off during this event. Items will be displayed at during the month of June, with bidding to take place during the final week, June 23 to June 30. Bios, book lists and links to participating authors will appear with their auction items during the month of June, and publicized in local/regional media and online throughout the event. If you have questions, please contact Devyn Burton at or Linda Gerber at”

Editor Sarah Cloots (formerly of Greenwillow) is available for consulting, copyediting, proofreading, line editing, and critiquing. She can help your book at any stage of the game–from idea development and writing guidance through submission and marketing advice. She specializes in children’s and young adult titles, both fiction and non-fiction, but is also happy to work on projects for adult readers. She is also available for writer’s conferences. If you would like to hire Sarah, please send an email to with a description of your project (genre, page count, and reading level) and what service you would like to hire her for. Sarah will write back with a rate quote within 24 hours.

Funny Books: a bibliography of recommended reads from The Horn Book.

Adapting Prose to Comics Form by J.L. Bell from Oz and Ends. Peek: “In answer to the question “What types of prose books are the most suited for adapting to the graphic format?”, three of those editors offered responses that seem typically gung-ho for fans of the medium.”

Bluebird Works Creative Consulting: author-editor Kara LaReau (formerly of Candlewick and Scholastic) offers a variety of creative services to authors, agents, and publishers. Peek: “Throughout my career, I’ve been dedicated to providing artists with the attention they and their books deserve. While I’m always honored and delighted to work with established artists, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to nurture and champion burgeoning talent. I enjoy collaborating with artists who are passionate about their work and about writing in general, who understand and appreciate the role of revision in the bookmaking process, and who possess an open mind, a good sense of humor, and a willingness to take risks.”

Indie Bookstores Press On Despite Economy from Jennifer Guerra at Michigan Radio (NPR). Peek: “At the center of it all is Jamie Robinson. She’s the owner. She opened the independent bookstore 12 years ago, back then she only sold books. About four years ago she bought a bigger building and added an espresso bar and some breakfast snacks, which she says has done wonders for business.” Source: Lara Zielin (also interviewed).

What will writers write in 50 years?: a question from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature. Peek: “What will ‘historical fiction’ of the present time look like in 50 years? How are writers going to tell children about the war with Iraq?”

Looking for undiscovered gems in a bestseller world from Shelia Ruth at Wands and Wolds. Peek: “It’s true that we’ve looked to the bestsellers for a long time now, but there have always been ways to recognize and discover those good books that may not make bestseller status, but still have strong appeal for young people. Yet lately, it seems that many of these avenues have been succumbing, one by one, to a focus on the same bestsellers and big buzz books that appear everywhere else.” Note: Shelia asks you to leave a comment, suggesting, “your favorite children’s or YA books published in 2008 that were not widely buzzed, reviewed, or awarded. I’ll compile all the suggestions into a book list and post it on my blog, with permission for anyone to copy it and post it elsewhere.” It’s asked that publishers not suggest their own books and authors/illustrators not suggest their friends’.

More Personally

Authors Kathi Appelt and Cynthia Leitich Smith invite you to join them at 1 p.m. April 11 at BookPeople (Sixth and Lamar) in Austin. They will be celebrating the success of Kathi’s The Underneath (Atheneum, 2008), which was a National Book Award Finalist and newly crowned ALA Newbery Honor Book, and the release of Cynthia’s Eternal (Candlewick, 2009). The event will include very brief readings, entertaining commentary, and a signing by both authors. Read a Cynsations interview with Kathi.

Debbie Reese, assistant professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the author behind American Indians in Children’s Literature, displays a copy of recommended Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002) in conjunction with “Widening the Circle.” See a free readers’ theater for Indian Shoes by Dr. Sylvia Vardell.

Cynsations now has a subscription option for those on Blogger; see sidebar. In addition, those on JacketFlap may subscribe here.

Highlights of the week included Wednesday morning’s breakfast at Waterloo Ice House with Austin’s own J. Jaye Smith, debut author of Batty About Texas, illustrated by Kathy Coates (Pelican, 2008). From Pelican: “J. Jaye Smith spent her childhood in Slidell, Louisiana, and found her passion in the creative arts while still in high school. She attended Belmont University and graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education in 1993. Smith has worked as a vocalist and a music teacher for most of her life and is also an accomplished songwriter. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family and spends her free time reading, dancing, and gardening.”

From the promotional copy:

Bo the Mexican free-tailed bat is one of 100 million bats that live in Texas, and in this colorful picture book, he takes children on an exciting trip across the Lone Star State and educates readers with dozens of “bat facts.”

There are thirty-two different species of bats living in Texas and more than one million living under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin. Bo and his friends can be found all over, but most people will never see them up close. They love to hide, and caves are great places for that. In fact, the largest bat colony on earth can be found in Bracken Cave, near San Antonio. There are almost as many bats in that one cave as there are people in the entire state!

One in every four mammals is a bat, and bats help control mosquito populations. Bo explains echolocation and how it’s used to help bats hunt and fly, and he explores the great state of Texas from a unique bat’s eye view.