Cynsational News & Giveaways

In celebration of The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z by Kate Messner (Walker, Sept. 1, 2009), children’s-YA book folks in the video below answer the question: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

“The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z is a middle grade novel about a Vermont girl struggling to complete a monster school leaf collection project amid the usual middle school angst and some unusual family chaos. To help, her friend Zig invents ‘The Tree Game’ in which the kids assign trees to people they know, imagining what kind of tree they’d be if they were a tree, based on their personalities.”

Note: The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z is featured on the IndieBound Fall Kids’ Indie Next List, recommended for readers ages 9-12. See also Authors on the Verge: Meet Kate Messner from Cynthea Liu.

Learn more about the featured “trees”–Jon Scieszka, Tammi Sauer, Cynthea Liu, Mike Thaler, Lisa Schroeder, Malinda Lo, Betsy Bird (Fuse #8), Cindy Pon, Ashley Bryan, Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm, Kristina Springer, The Cat in the Hat, and Mo Willems.

Reader Surveys
Take the Survey or Survey from Peek: “We hope you will mention the surveys on your site and encourage all of the teens and children you know—and anyone else who loves young adult and children’s books or works with youth—to take the surveys. We estimate the survey will take 15 minutes and the survey will take 10 minutes.”

For the Survey, respondents from the U.S. and Canada will be eligible to enter a random drawing to receive a copy of one of 27 titles, which are being provided by publishers. There will be 775 winners selected. See the full list of 27 titles. The Survey will close Aug. 31.

For the 2009 Reader Survey, respondents from the U.S. and Canada will be eligible to enter a random drawing to receive a copy of one of 24 titles, which are also provided by publishers. There will be 1,000 winners selected.” See the full list of titles. “Children under 13 must have their parents/guardians complete a form in order to be eligible for the contest.” The Survey will close Sept. 15.

More News

It’s All Material: Finding the Truth Every Day by Deborah Heiligman from INK: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: “When the service was over, and everyone else filed out, I got my husband (who writes non-fiction for grown-ups) and a (lapsed Catholic) friend to go up to the priest with me. To say we interviewed him would be stretching it. We didn’t pull out tape recorders or notebooks, though we had notebooks with us, as we always do, and I was tempted.”

Congratulations to Varian Johnson on the recent redesign of his official author site by Websy Daisy Web Design of Austin, Texas! Varian is the author of My Life As a Rhombus (Flux, 2008) and the forthcoming Saving Maddie (Delacorte, 2010). Learn more about Varian Johnson (and see kid pics of him). Read a Cynsations interview with Varian.

Twittering Made Simple by Kristi Holl at Writers First Aid. Peek: “Today let’s talk about one of the most popular networking sites, Twitter–and how to simplify its use.” See also If At First You Don’t Succeed, Tweet, Tweet Again by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions.

Character Development with a Theatrical Approach by Mary Lindsey from Peek: “Constantin Stanislavsky revolutionized the approach to portraying a character. He believed that an actor’s job was not just to make a character recognizable and understood, it was to make a character believable.”

MacLean Up at Trident from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Stephanie MacLean has been named a literary agent at Trident Media Group. …will be specializing in…YA.” Source: Children’s Book Biz News.

Marvelous Marketer: Molly O’Neill (Assistant editor, Katherine Tegen Books) by Shelli at Market My Words: Rantings and ravings on how authors can better market their books to kids. Peek: “Success rarely comes from one aspect alone; it’s the way things you do build upon one another, and on your publishers’ efforts, that come together can make a noticeable difference. And it takes time…”

Writing a novel, a love story by Libba Bray. Peek: “Thanks for meeting me here. Look, I’m just gonna come out with it. This–you, me–itThe trailer, featuring riffs by a cow suit-wearing Bray, is equally fantastic in its randomness. Our two favorite parts: “Boneless chicken” and ‘That says, to me, I’m marked for death.'” ‘s not working. I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s…actually it’s you. You’re stupid. And I sort of hate you. But, you know, thanks for the great line on p. 400.” Note: very fun!

Libba Bray’s ‘Going Bovine’: At least for her new book trailer! by Mandi Bierly from Entertainment Weekly. Peek: “The trailer, featuring riffs by a cow suit-wearing Bray, is equally fantastic in its randomness. Our two favorite parts: ‘Boneless chicken’ and ‘That says, to me, I’m marked for death.'” Note: required watching! Read a Cynsations interview with Libba.

Interview with Paula Chase-Hyman by MissAttitude in Reading in Color. Peek: “In the end, you live with every decision you make. So you’ve got to make ones you can live with.” See also a Cynsations interview with Paula.

How to Launch a Book Virtually: Q&A with Grace Lin from Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “The easiest thing to do was to start a Facebook Fan Page. Once I found the links on how to do it on Facebook, it was a breeze. And it’s been a great way to keep in contact with fans.” Read a Cynsations interview with Grace.

50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know compiled by Ginny Moore Kruse and Kathleen T. Horning, updated by Kathleen T. Horning and Megan Schliesman (Cooperative Children’s Book Center, 2001, 2006). Featured titles include Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith (HarperCollins, 2002). Note: “At the CCBC, we define ‘multicultural’ literature as books by and about people of color: African and African Americans, American Indians, Asian/Pacifics and Asian Pacific Americans, and Latinos.” Source: Uma Krishnaswami at Writing with a Broken Tusk, who notes that South Asians are not yet represented on this list. See also 30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Know compiled by Megan Schliesman and Kathleen T. Horning (Cooperative Children’s Book Center, 2006).

South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora in Children’s & YA Literature: An Annotated Bibliography from Pooja Makhijani. “Read an introduction for the motivations and methodology for this online resource.” Read a Cynsations interview with Pooja.

A Few Words About School Visits from Kimberly Willis Holt. Peek: “If your class or book club plans to read one of my books this year, you are welcome to set up a thirty minute phone interview with me. I enjoy talking to readers and the only cost is for the long distance phone.” Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberly.

An Interview with Suzanne Pfefferle – Pelican Publishing Company Publicist by Tina Nicholas Coury from Tales from the Rushmore Kid. Peek: “…we never stop. If there is a chance to promote a book that was published years ago, we will embrace the opportunity. Since we publish backlist titles, we will rarely let a book go out of print. Pelican makes a lifetime commitment toward promoting and selling the book.”

“Do you think being a librarian affects how you approach writing a novel?” a response from Deena Lipomi at Author2Author. Peek: “The critical analysis part comes from lurking on librarian listservs, hearing what other librarians say about certain books — and what their teens think — and getting a ton of review journals and reading more review websites than before I was a librarian.”

First draft blues from Heather Vogel Frederick at Set Sail for Adventure. A light look at the early writing process from a variety of authors. Peek: “I’m flailing away on the first draft of my next novel here, which I liken to trying to navigate through an unfamiliar house on roller skates, blindfolded. To cheer myself up, I asked a group of writer friends to share their analogies for the process.” Read a Cynsations interview with Heather.

Black Women Kid Lit Illustrators: a listing compiled by Ed Spicer from Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape.

Don’t Forget the Details by Sarah Sullivan at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “In real life, when you meet someone new, you cannot possibly understand their deepest motivations immediately. You cannot understand how to sum them up in a single gesture or detail. So when you are writing a first draft, you must give yourself permission to keep going and not worry about how bland the details may seem.”

Writing and Illustrating: Sharing Information About Writing and Illustrating for Children from Kathy Temean. Peek: “The goal of this blog is to bring and share information about Writing and Illustrating for children to published and unpublished authors and illustrators. I will post information I acquire from my interactions with editors and agents in the industry and share thoughts and techniques of other writers and illustrators in the field.” Note: Kathy is the regional advisor in New Jersey for the SCBWI. She also runs Temean Consulting, a Web Design and Marketing company, teaches, and conducts marketing workshops for authors.

Mary Kole (scroll for bio) is a new Associate Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. Source: Children’s Book Biz News.

“Plot” with Deborah Lynn Jacobs: an author chat from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “There’s a program I like, called Writer’s Cafe, that allows you to track your plots and subplots. It’s free, in the short version, and cheap if you buy the complete version. It has a neat function that allows you to link to web info that you used in your research. I found it useful, but sometimes found that tracking what I was doing took too much time away from the actual writing.” Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah.

In the Authors’ Tent: R.A. Nelson: an author interview from Melodye Shore at Front Pages. Peek: “…it is a real challenge to make a ghost story feel “real.” My first two novels had no fantastical elements, so it was satisfying to stretch my skills and try to bring that same level of realism to a completely unrealistic subject.” Source: Tori at Journey of an Inquiring Mind. Read a Cynsations interview with R.A. Nelson.

Gothic Fantasy & Suspense for Teens & Tweens from my main website. Includes annotated recommendations, links to interviews and author sites and author blogs as well as related resources for writers. Note: always in the process of adding recommendations.

Exploring Diversity through Children’s & Young Adult Books: Background Reading from my main website. See also Exploring Diversity: Themes & Communities. Note: please feel free to suggest resources, including your own.

60 Black Superwomen in Comics from Kyra at Black Threads in Kid’s Lit. See video below. Kyra recommends the Black Superheroines Blog.

More Personally

Spooktacular news! Eternal (Candlewick) will be available in paperback in spring 2010! Thank you, Candlewick Press!

Thanks to Laurie Faria Stolarz for sending this shelf shot of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) from Barnes & Noble at the Prudential Center in Boston! Read a Cynsations interview with Laurie.

And congratulations to local author pal P.J. Hoover on her black belt! See photo. Note: Fellow Austin author Brian Yansky also has a black belt.

Hooray! I’ll Be Speaking to Illinois Writers & Illustrators!

SCBWI-Illinois’ Fifth Annual Prairie Writer’s Day: Brick by Brick: The Architecture of Our Stories will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 14 at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. Speakers include: Stacy Cantor, associate editor at Walker; Nick Eliopulos, associate editor at Random House; T.S. Ferguson, assistant editor at Little, Brown; Yolanda LeRoy, editorial director at Charlesbridge; Cynthia Leitich Smith, award-winning author and Vermont College of Fine Arts faculty member; and Michael Stearns, agent and co-founder of Upstart Crow Literary. Read Cynsations interviews with Yolanda and Michael. Note: Mark has recently changed literary agencies.

Cynsations Giveaway Winners

Thank you to Cristina and all of the members of the Book Club at Facebook who entered the Eternal giveaway contest! The winner of a signed copy of Eternal was Ninfa from the UK. The runners-up, who will receive signed Eternal bookmarks were Lisa in West Virginia, Karla in Canada, and Kristi, who still needs to send in her address.

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 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.

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.

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–only 10 more spots available!–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.