Cynsational News & Giveaways

Joseph Medicine Crow Announced as Medal of Freedom Recipient

The White House announced yesterday that author Joseph Medicine Crow will be included among those 16 distinguished honorees to receive the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom on Aug. 12.

Among other accomplishments, his recent book Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond (National Geographic, 2006) was named a 2008 American Indian Youth Literature Award winner by the American Indian Library Association.

See Crow War Chief to Receive President’s Medal from The New York Times and additional information (mini documentary, written interview, and more) from

See also the whole list of honorees–including Billie Jean King, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Sidney Poitier, and Chita Rivera–at Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

More News

Writing It Down: One Word After Another: a new blog from author-poet Cynthia Cotten. Cynthia’s Rain Play, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe (Henry Holt, 2008) is a finalist for the Library of Virginia’s Whitney and Scott Cardozo Award for Children’s Literature. “The Cardozo Award recognizes excellence in Children’s Literature for ages 3 to 8, and will be given out at the 12th annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration Oct. 17 in Richmond.” Vote online for the winner between now and Aug. 7.

What a Girl Wants #4: The girl vs the woman (when it comes to reading) from Chasing Ray. Peek: “…if YA did not exist would teens still be getting the best reading experience?” From Sara Ryan: “I think the YA authors who nail teen girls’ voices credibly–and part of that is recognizing that a monolithic Teen Girl Voice does not exist–respect girls and their lives in a way that authors of adult books with teen girl characters often don’t.”

Striving for Contentment from Kristi Holl at Writers’ First Aid. Peek: “To be honest, if you want to enjoy the writing life–if you want to enjoy the process, and not just the final product–you’ll have to find a way to embrace both contentment and the urge to grow and improve.” See also Restoring Balance to Your Life and A Writer’s Renewal.

Reading Group Guide for Suzanne’s Crowley’s The Stolen One from Greenwillow/HarperCollins (PDF file). Read a Cynsations interview with Suzanne.

Michael Stearns Starts a New Agency, Upstart Crow Literary… from Alice Pope at Alice’s CWIM Blog. Peek: “Michael will be joined at Upstart Crow by two other former Firebrand agents, Chris Richman and Danielle Chiotti.”

Interview with Katie Kacer from Barbara Bietz at Jewish Books for Children. Peek: “Today, in synagogues across North America young people are encouraged to share their Bar or Bat Mitzvah with a child of the Holocaust. My publisher thought I should write a book about a twinning ceremony and I thought I would combine that wonderful premise with my desire to write about the Warsaw Ghetto.”

Dragon Speaker: The Last Dragon (HIP Books, September 2009) Contest from Cheryl Rainfield. Share Cheryl’s “excited author” videos for chances to win signed books, more books, gift certificates to online book retailers, and more. See details. Contest open worldwide. Deadline midnight Sept. 30. Learn more about HIP Books.

Author Interview: Shelia Goss on The Lipstick Chronicles from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “Although I’m aware of the African American YA books out there, many of the people I talk to are not. I have compiled a list of AA YA authors and give the list out to those people I come across.”

Choosing Your Own Path by R.L. LaFevers at Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “So here’s the thing. There are at least a hundred different paths to success. No, I’m not kidding.” Read a Cynsations interview with R.L. LaFevers.

YA Science Fiction is Alive and Well. Really. From Janni Lee Simner at Desert Dispatches. Peek: “…most of the YA SF out there is in fact published by the YA imprints of mainstream houses. That’s a function of the way the YA genre markets itself–mysteries and romances and SF and fantasy and sometimes graphic novels all hang out side by side.” See also Boy Books, Girl Books, Kid Books. Read a Cynsations interview with Janni.

YA Books, Xenophobia, and Global Poverty by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Best writing life story of the week and highlights “books released in the last couple of years set in contemporary times can inspire teens to battle global poverty and xenophobia.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

Jericho Primary School Nairobi – Kenya – Needs Books from Amy Bodden Bowllan at School Library Journal.

A Character’s Controlling Belief by Mary Atkinson from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “A character’s goal is different. Goal answers the question, what does a character want? Controlling belief answers, why does she want it?”

JacketFlap: “a comprehensive resource for information on the children’s book industry. Thousands of published authors, illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, and publishers visit JacketFlap every day.” Includes social networking features and blog registration. A great way to increase your children’s-YA blog’s readership! Read a Cynsations interview with JacketFlap CEO Tracy Grand.

Coretta Scott King Book Award-winning Authors, Illustrators, & Books: “a free curricular resource center” from Peek: “Hear directly from African American authors and illustrators as they talk about and read from their books” and much more. Source: Children’s Book Press.

The book trailer below features The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren by Wendy Toliver (Simon Pulse, 2007).

And this book trailer features Wendy’s 2009 release Miss Match (also Simon Pulse).

How 19 Jobs Prepared Me for the Writing Business by Kimberly Willis Holt at A Good Blog is Hard to Find. Peek: “I don’t view my former jobs as mere pit stops along the journey. No matter how unrelated those positions might seem to the writing profession, each contributed to my earning a byline.” Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberly.

Diversity Roll Call Roundup: POC in Sci-Fi & Fantasy by L.M. Baldwin from Color Online. Reading recommendations!

Secret Agent by Brian Yansky at Brian’s Blog. Peek: “I am a writer. You are a writer. I am a secret agent. You are a secret agent. ” Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Less is More by Kelly Bingham from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Your best poetry is going to take shape when you figure out which details to select and which ones to leave out.” Read a Cynsations interview with Kelly.

“Hook, Line and Sinker” by Gayle C. Krause from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “What can ‘Paul Bunyan,’ ‘Bronc Burnett,’ and the ‘Jolly Fisherman’ do for you as a writer? Answer: Follow their leads to get your manuscript read by an agent or an editor.”

What kind of book becomes a Harlequin TEEN? by Natashya Wilson, senior editor, Harlequin TEEN from Jennifer Rummel at YABOOKNERD. Peek: “Yes, most of our stories do include a love interest–whose real-life story doesn’t?!–but romance is just one part of what we’re about.”

Between a Rock and a Can of Worms: Gail Carson Levine on cliches. Peek: “When you play out a cliche without using its words you freshen it up and get to the core that made it a cliche.” Read a Cynsations interview with Gail.

Open Heart Surgery—Writing a Holiday Story by April Halprin Wayland from Teaching Authors: Six Children’s Authors Who Also Teach Writing. Peek: “I could write this story because I got chills when I thought about tashlich. I think it’s called emotional honesty.”

New & Redesigned Author Sites

Author Bobbi Miller: official site of the picture book author of One Fine Trade and Davy Crockett Gets Hitched (both Holiday House). Peek: “Stories tend to be organic, and sometimes outlines, research, and all the ‘great plans of mice and men’ need to be tossed as characters take over. In which case, I tag along for the ride!” Site design by Hit Those Keys.

Andrea Vlahakis: Children’s Writer, Poet, Writing Instructor: official site of the author of such works as Christmas Eve Blizzard (Sylvan Dell, 2005), a 2005 ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award Finalist. Site design by Hit Those Keys.

Nancy Werlin: National Book Award Finalist and Edgar Award Winner: official site is newly redesigned by Hit Those Keys. Atmospheric!

More Personally

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Listening Library, 2009) is now available in audio formats. The readers are Allyson Ryan as Miranda and Jesse Bernstein as Zachary. Watch Cynsations for a giveaway announcement!

I’ve received the revised final art, copy-edits, and what not for my next picture book, Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton, fall 2010)–progress!

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith from The Compulsive Reader. Peek: “[On what makes my Gothic fantasies unique] it’s probably the girl-empowerment themes and the combination of multicultural, religious, and economic diversity in fantasy settings. They’re also upper-level YAs that include, say, quasi-epistolary elements, unreliable narrators, alternating point of view, etc., which gears them toward more YA sophisticated readers.”

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000) is going into another printing–both in the library and trade editions. View interior illustrations at HarperCollins and at my official author site. See teacher resources. Thanks so much to everyone who’s supported this picture book over the years! Note: Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature says of Jingle Dancer: “…one of my all-time favorites. The story and illustrations reflect the life of a Native child and her family in ways that are realistic, not romantic or tragic.” I’m honored!

Thank you to the Austin area Barnes & Noble CRMs for their hospitality at my signing last Friday afternoon at the Texas PTA conference at the Austin Convention Center.

Business Notes

If you would like to submit a book for consideration, request confirmation of receipt, or request a book donation, or submit any other request, please first see the contact page of the main site.

Blurb requests on manuscripts should be sent, after query, by agents or editors, not by authors.

Note: the above policies apply both to strictly professional colleagues and to those who have a personal tie. Thanks for your understanding!

Last Call for July Giveaways

Enter to win one of five author-signed copies of The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani (Charlesbridge, 2009)! Three copies are reserved for teachers, librarians, and/or university professors of education, library science, and/or youth literature! (Please indicate title and affiliation). Two copies are reserved for any Cynsations readers!

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Day-Glo Brothers” in the subject line (Facebook and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the title in the header). Deadline: July 31! Read a Cynsations interview with Chris.

Enter to win Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2009)! Note: the collection includes my short story, “Cat Calls,” which is set in the Tantalize/Eternal universe and features new characters!

Enter to win one of three copies! One copy will be reserved for a teacher, librarian and/or university professor of children’s-YA literature, and the other two will go to any Cynsations readers! To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Sideshow” in the subject line (Facebook and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the title in the header). Deadline: July 31! Reminder: teachers, librarians, and professors should indicate themselves as such in their entries! Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah.

Austin Interest

Meet the Author, Jacqueline Kelly and join the Austin Public Library for a discussion of her book The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate at 7 p.m. Aug. 4 the Pleasant Hill Branch, 211 E. William Cannon Drive. As eleven-year-old Calpurnia Virginia Tate explores the natural world around her, she comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century. This novel is her story. A book signing will follow the discussion. It is free and open to the public. For more information please call 512-974-3940 or visit

Mark Your Calendars

Liz Garton Scanlon will celebrate the release of her picture book, All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane/S&S), with story time at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 26 at BookPeople in Austin. Read Cynsations interviews with Liz and Marla.

Destination Publication: an annual conference of Austin SCBWI will be held Jan. 30, 2010, and registration will open Sept. 1. Conference faculty will include Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson, Caldecott illustrator David Diaz, Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein, author/FSG editor Lisa Graff, agent Andrea Cascardi, agent Mark McVeigh, agent Nathan Bransford, and a to-be-announced editor; see bios. Featured authors will include Chris Barton, Shana Burg, P.J. Hoover, Jessica Lee Anderson, Liz Garton Scanlon, Jennifer Ziegler, Philip Yates, and Patrice Barton; see author bios.