Cynsational News & Giveaways

The Official SCBWI Conference Blog: Alice Pope leads SCBWI’s “Team Blog” for up-to-the minute conference countdowns and live blogging from the conference floor! Note: for those who couldn’t make it to LA and those who want to look back on the experience.

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott Giveaway from MissAttitude at Reading in Color. Note: includes review and interview links. Deadline: Aug. 18. See also a recent Cynsations interview with Zetta.

The Acquisition Process by Harold Underdown from The Purple Crayon, to appear in the 2010 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. Peek: “Part of the reason why the process can be difficult and time-consuming is simply that it couldn’t possibly be more important to publishers. As noted above, this is how publishers build their future, and they want to get it right. So publishers think, and debate, and then think some more.” See also updates to Who’s Moving Where? News and Staff Changes at Children’s Book Publishers. Read a Cynsations interview with Harold.

Kid’s Book Revisions: Online Class and Manuscript Help: taught by Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson. Now taking registrations for a Sept. to Nov. session. Peek: ” We are experienced children’s book editors, working together to teach an online manuscript revision class three or four times annually. We also provide a variety of editorial services.” Read a Cynsations interview with Harold.

Check out this new book trailer for One Million Men and Me by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Peter Ambush (Just Us Books, 2007).

How to Be a Children’s Book Illustrator: online course (with accompanying blog) from author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell. Peek: “Comprehensive, illustrated lessons come in PDF sessions that you can download and save. Monthly online group calls with teacher Mark Mitchell provide a valuable (but still fun) interactive component. Students also have 24 hour access to the Children’s Book Illustration Wiggio group site where they can chat with each other and Mark, check messages, review portfolios and share files and links.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mark.

Critiquing Critiques by Rick Daley from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “I recommend the sandwich approach, where you start with a positive point, give an honest opinion of what doesn’t work for you (may be multiple points), and then end with another positive point or words of encouragement.”

Revision by Brian Yansky‘s at Brian’s Blog: Random thoughts on the art and craft of fiction writing. Peek: “Sheepdogs are naturally gregarious and, in my opinion, a bit over the top in their moment-to-moment living. Nevertheless, I have to admit that I tend toward the other end of the spectrum. A little too understated. Perhaps in life. Definitely in fiction.” See also He Wasn’t a Math Guy. Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee Giveaway from Liz Garton Scanlon at Liz In Ink. Peek: “A signed copy of the book from my own personal stash, mailed to you the DAY the books arrive at my house — I promise! All you need to do is leave a comment here or on my facebook page or via email.” Deadline: today! Aug. 14. Read a Cynsations interview with Liz.

How to Build a Marketing Platform by Christina Katz from Writer’s Digest. Peek: “A strong platform includes things like a Web presence, classes you teach, media contacts you’ve established, articles you’ve published, public speaking services you offer and any other means you currently have for making your name (and your future works) known to your readership.” Source: Laurie Wallmark at Just the Facts, Ma’am: News & Notes for Busy Children’s Writers.

A Day in the Life of An Editor by Alvina Ling at Blue Rose Girls. Peek: “If I’m not in a meeting, I’m mainly either responding to emails (including responding to authors and agents about submissions) or reviewing various materials in my inbox that are circulating, such as picture book mechanicals, proof, marketing materials, and so on.”

How to Recommend a Book By and About a Person of Color by Chasing Ray. Peek: “It cannot be about something as basic as ‘go read a minority book’–it needs to be read a good book on a topic you’re interested in, regardless of the color of anyone involved.” Note: strongly agreed, though I’d add that for collection building and curriculum purposes, it’s still quite helpful to offer bibliographies with a culture/race/ethnicity theme.

Anneographies: “Author Anne Bustard (below) on her fave picture book biographies and a few collected biographies, too, birthday by birthday.” Here, Anne takes a peek at two brand new biographies, Cromwell Dixon’s Sky Cycle by John Nez (Putnam, 2009) and An Eye for Color: The True Story of Josef Albers by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Julia Breckenreid (Henry Holt, Sept. 2009). Note: pass on this link to your favorite elementary school teacher or school librarian. Read a Cynsations interview with Anne.

Rising Tide: The Boom in Historical Fiction About India and the Indian Diaspora by Sandhya Nankani from Multicultural Review (PDF). Source: Uma Krishnaswami at Writing with a Broken Tusk.

The Myth of “Just an Author” by Nathan Bransford from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “Hemingway found his way to publication in part because he knew the right people (namely F. Scott Fitzgerald), and his success owed a great deal to his larger than life stature, a literary self-promotional archetype dating back to Byron and beyond. Herman Melville became famous because he wrote travelogues…” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Routines–or Ruts? by Kristi Holl from Writers First Aid. Peek: “You may suspect your routines have become ruts if you are more bored than inspired when you sit down to write.” See also Change: Making It Stick.

Congratulations to Jo Knowles on the release of Jumping Off Swings (Candlewick, 2009), which has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly! From the promotional copy: “One pregnancy. Four friends. It all adds up to a profound time of change in this poignant, sensitively written YA novel. Ellie remembers how the boys kissed her. Touched her. How they begged for more. And when she gave it to them, she felt loved. For a while anyway. So when Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life, leads her from a party to the backseat of his van, Ellie follows. But their ‘one-time thing’ is far from perfect: Ellie gets pregnant. Josh reacts with shame and heartbreak, while their confidantes, Caleb and Corinne, deal with their own complex swirl of emotions. No matter what Ellie chooses, all four teenagers will be forced to grow up a little faster as a result. Told alternately from each character’s point of view, this deeply insightful novel explores the aftershocks of the biggest decision of one fragile girl’s life — and the realities of leaving innocence behind.”

Engaging the Young Adult Reader by Coert Voorhees from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “…YA doesn’t so much reflect a writer’s decision to write for a particular audience as it does a marketing decision based on a combination of protagonist and narrative stance.”

Play It Again, Julie! from Jama Rattigan at Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup. A celebration of Julie Larios‘ poem, “A Night on the Town.” Read a Cynsations interview with Julie.

The Picture Perfect Picture Book, featuring Author Kim Norman, Sept. 7 and Sept. 8 in the Writers Retreat from The Institute of Children’s Literature. “Drop into the Writer’s Retreat discussion board to ask questions for our workshop leader, Kim Norman, on the subject of ‘The Picture Perfect Picture Book.’ Plot, rhythm, language, pace, how do you balance the elements of great picture books? How can you tell if you’ve written one? Come and see!”

Enter to win a copy of Dead Girl in Love (Flux, 2009) from author Linda Joy Singleton, and check out her twenty-year timeline to the publication of the trilogy. From the promotional copy: “Oh, wow—I’m my own best friend. Or at least, I’m in her body! Okay, this assignment will be quick and easy. Thanks, Grammy! See, my dead grandmother keeps finding people who have big problems and then I have the freaky experience of stepping into their life—and their body!—to provide help. This time, I’m in the body of my BFF, Alyce. Since Alyce and I know everything about each other, I won’t have to do a lot of detective work, which is a definite plus. But, as Alyce, I’ve got some really pressing questions to answer—starting with, What am I doing in this coffin?” Deadline: Aug. 15.

Sylvan Dell Announces Next Generation EBook, Offers Free Trial of All 45 of Its EBooks from Sara Dobie’s Blog. According to publisher and co-founder Lee German, “These are the most technologically advanced eBooks in the world today, featuring Auto-Flip, Auto-Read, and Selectable Language.”

Follow Through by Liz Gallagher from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “The difference between people who have written books and those who want to write books is that those who have written them…have written them. But following through, getting to the end, is hard!” Read a Cynsations interview with Liz.

Slow, Steady Growth for Charlesbridge at 20 by Judith Rosen from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Despite today’s harsh retail environment, Charlesbridge, the trade arm of educational press Charlesbridge Publishing Inc. (a privately held company founded in 1980), is doing better than simply holding its own. Over the past decade, its sales have shot past those of CPI, and it is preparing to grow by adding early childhood books.” Source: Children’s Book Biz News.

Enter to Win August YA Book Giveaways from Teens Read Too, including one of 90 copies of Extras from the Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse, 2009 reprint edition). Read a Cynsations interview with Scott.

Making your Bookmarks by Kristina Springer at Author2Author. Peek: “First, you need a snazzy design. If you’re photoshop savvy, this will be easy for you. You just need to create a bookmark that includes your cover, some book info or a tease about your book, release date, ISBN, your website URL (and e-mail if you’d like), and don’t forget to put what age your book is for!”

The Essential Elements of Narrative Nonfiction by Barbara Kerley from I.N.K. Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: “I revised and revised through 14 drafts, trying to shape an accurate, engaging story. Other books and magazine articles followed, and I began to get a better sense of what needs to be in place for narrative nonfiction to work…”

Social Networking in 15 Minutes a Day from Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent. Peek: “A lot of people wonder how they can do all the online networking they’re ‘supposed’ to do without it completely draining all their time and energy. Well, I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve developed a strategy that works for me…”

Obtaining Cover Blurbs from BookEnds, LLC – A Literary Agency. Peek: “The important thing to remember in all of this is that no matter who you, your editor, or your agent approach, that author has every right to say no and that’s okay. An author’s schedule can be insane between writing the next book, revisions, edits, and yes, a large number of requests for blurbs.”

The Voices of Autism: A look at some recent books about autism and the people who write them by Suzanne Crowley from School Library Journal. Peek: “What I found were some richly textured works with highly unusual voices, individuals trying to cope and navigate their worlds in unusual ways, and, most surprisingly, characters who possessed sharp insights into human nature and who had much to teach us. And their authors had heartfelt and personal reasons for sharing their stories.” See also The Spectrum of Autism Fiction from J.L. Bell at Oz and Ends.

Time – How Long It Takes from Idea to Publication by Carrie Ryan. Peek: “It feels like there’s this sudden zeitgeist where people are similarly inspired. And it’s not just in writing that this happens — huge discoveries in our world happen the same way. It’s pretty amazing!”

Book Publishing Glossary from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Note: if you want to succeed in the publishing business, it helps to speak the language. Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Show, Don’t Tell: a Writing Workshop from April Halprin Wayland at Authors Teaching Authors. Peek: “In effect you’re saying, ‘I know you’re smart and that I don’t have to pound you over the head to tell you I’m sad—I know you will understand it viscerally.'”

Two Contests from author Laurie Faria Stolarz

Black is for Beginnings (Flux, Sept. 2009) Contest: Answer the following questions based on the bestselling Blue is for Nightmares (Llewellyn, 2003-) series:

1. What is Drea’s favorite snack?
2. What is the name of the fraternity in Red is for Remembrance (the one that sponsors the charity cruise)?
3. Who is Ms. McNeal?
4. Who is Cory?
5. According to PJ, what does BVS stand for?
6. According to Amber, what does T.O.D. stand for?
7. According to Stacey, what does BJD stand for?
8. According to Stacey, what is a Devic crystal?
9. In White is for Magic, what image does Amber lipliner to her face and why?
10. With all the danger surrounding Hillcrest Prep over the past couple of years, what is the nickname that students have given to the school?

Send responses to Laurie. Winners will receive an autographed (and personalized, upon request) book jacket for Black is for Beginnings. Deadline: Midnight, Aug. 16.

Project 17 (Hyperion, 2007) Contest: To enter, imagine that your mission is to design a new cover for Project 17. “When artists design covers, they read the novel first and create the cover based on the story. If you’re not an artist, that’s okay. Describe in as much detail as it takes, what you think the cover should look like, taking the story into account. Describe the scene/picture, background, and any details.” Explain what colors should be used and why. And if there’s a particular way you’d like the title and Laurie’s byline listed, explain that as well. Then, explain why you chose this as the cover. What about the story makes your cover most suitable?

Entries may consist of a jpeg of the proposed cover, for the artistically inclined, or entries may include an original photo, in which case, your image will be the description (a picture is worth a thousand words), but be sure to still include an explanation of why the image would make a good cover.

All entries should be sent Laurie. Winners (and their English teacher or favorite young adult librarian) will receive an autographed (and personalized, upon request) copy of the paperback version of Project 17. There will be three winners for this contest. Deadline: Midnight, Aug. 31. Read a related Cynsations interview with Laurie.

More Personally

Highlights of the week included breakfast with YA author Marjetta Geerling, in town from Florida, on Saturday at Waterloo Ice House!

Marjetta is the author of Fancy White Trash (Viking, 2008). From the promotional copy:

“Finding love is simple with the One True Love Plan.

“’If only life were as easy as your sisters.’ Abby’s heard that one before. And it’s true —Shelby and Kait aren’t exactly prim and proper. Abby is determined not to follow in their footsteps, so she has created the One True Love Plan. The most important part of the plan is Rule #1: Find Someone New. This means finding a guy who hasn’t already dated Shelby or Kait. But when Abby starts falling for the possible father of Kait’s baby, she has to figure out if some rules are meant to be broken.

“This debut novel, a modern comedy of errors, is as lighthearted and irreverant as its title.”

I’m on deadline for Blessed (Candlewick, 2010) right now, but how I wish I could’ve participated in the mini Austin Authors Writers’ Workshop this weekend at Meredith Davis‘ home!

But Greg had a great time and author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell was kind enough give me a ride to the dinner afterward.

Pictured (from right to left) are Debbie Gonzales, Julie Lake, Jenny Ziegler, and Brian Anderson. Shana Burg is in pink on the other side of the table. Other participants included Varsha Bajaj; Chris Barton; Donna Bratton; Gene Brenek; Alison Dellenbaugh; Helen Hemphill; P. J. Hoover; Carmen Oliver; Lyn Seippel; Andy Sherrod; Don Tate; Brian Yansky; Frances Hill Yansky. See reports with more photos from Greg here, Donna here; Don here; Deb here and here; Alison here, and P.J. here. Note: let me know if I missed any!

Congratulations to author, BookPeople bookseller, & CBAY/Blooming Tree editor Madeline Smoot on the newest addition to the Austin children’s-YA literature community!

Cynsational Tip: Don’t Believe Everything You Read on the Internet! I read hundreds of posts every week to select those to feature among these links, and I frequently come across completely bogus or outdated information, especially as related to publishing as a business.

Eternal Audiobook Giveaway

Enter to win one of two copies of the new Eternal audiobook (Listening Library, 2009)! One copy will be reserved for a teacher, librarian and/or university professor of children’s-YA literature, and one will go to any Cynsations reader!

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Eternal audio” in the subject line (Facebook and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the title in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31! Reminder: teachers, librarians, and professors should ID themselves in their entries!

More Cynsations Giveaways

Enter to win both Tsunami! by Kimiko Kajikawa, illustrated by Ed Young (Philomel, 2009) and Hook by Ed Young (Roaring Brook, 2009)! To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Ed Young” in the subject line (Facebook and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31. Read a previous Cynsations interview with Ed.

Enter to win a paperback of Stealing Heaven (Harper, 2008) and a hardcover of Love You Hate You Miss You (Harper, 2009), both by Elizabeth Scott. To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Elizabeth Scott” in the subject line (Facebook and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31. Read a related Cynsations interview with Elizabeth.

Enter to win Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Ethan Long (Little, Brown, 2009). To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “J. Patrick Lewis” in the subject line (Facebook and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31. Read a previous Cynsations interview with J. Patrick Lewis.

Austin Events
Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Day in the Lone Star State: acclaimed authors Kathi Appelt and Sharon Darrow will lead a conference on the craft of writing for young readers on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 at Teravista (4333 Teravista Club Dr.) in Round Rock, which is located just 20 minutes north of Austin. Note: open to alumni and all other serious writers for young readers! Participants are incoming from nation wide. Spots are filling fast–register today! See more information. Read previous Cynsations interviews with Kathi and Sharon.

“The Main Elements of Story: Plot, Character, Setting, and Theme” with National SCBWI Speaker Chris Eboch sponsored by Austin SCBWI is scheduled for Oct. 10. Attendees will receive a $10 discount when registering for the local January 2010 conference. Seating is limited. Registration opens July 6. Note: Austin SCBWI events often sell out. From the author site: Chris has a new series, Haunted, debuting August 2009 [from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin] with two books: The Ghost on the Stairs and The Riverboat Phantom.

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. Read Cynsations interviews with Mark, Nathan, Chris, Shana, Jessica, Liz, Jennifer, and Philip.