Cynsational News & Giveaways

Coming Soon

Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella) is being re-released (with a new cover–shown here–and a new short story by Rachel Vincent) at stores nation-wide on Oct. 6!

This vampire-themed YA anthology will also include short stories by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kristin Cast, Rachel Caine, Tanith Lee, Nancy Holder, Richelle Mead, Rachel Vincent, and Claudia Gray.

Read a PDF excerpt, which includes a peek at my own contribution, “Haunted Love.”

Some of you may remember that this anthology was released exclusively to Borders/Walden last year, so if you weren’t able to get a copy then, your opportunity is just around the corner!

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win a contributor-signed copy of Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (Little, Brown, 2009)! From the promotional copy:

“Acclaimed authors Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci have united in geekdom to edit short stories from some of the best-selling and most promising geeks in young adult literature: M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Tracy Lynn, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfield, Lisa Yee, and Sara Zarr.

“With illustrated interstitials from comic book artists Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O’Malley, Geektastic covers all things geeky, from Klingons and Jedi Knights to fan fiction, theater geeks, and cosplayers.

“Whether you’re a former, current, or future geek, or if you just want to get in touch with your inner geek, Geektastic will help you get your geek on.”

My short story, “The Wrath of Dawn,” co-authored by Greg Leitich Smith, is included in the collection, and we are happy to sign and personalize the book, if the winner so desires.

To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Geektastic” in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Sept. 30.


Enter to win one of four paperback copies of Not Like You by Deborah Davis (Graphia/Houghton Mifflin, 2009). One copy will be reserved for a teacher, librarian and/or university professor of children’s-YA literature, and three will go to any Cynsations readers! 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. Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah.

To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Not Like You” in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Sept. 30. Reminder: teachers, librarians, and professors should ID themselves in their entries!


Enter to win Cromwell Dixon’s Sky-Cycle by John Abbott Nez (Putnam, 2009). From the promotional copy:

“In the years and decades following the Wright Brothers’ famous first flight, an obsession with aviation gripped the nation. Thousands caught the bug. In an era of innovation and invention, scores of people pursued their own personal dreams of building a flying machine, and many did so right in their own backyards.

“Few stories, though, are as remarkable as that of Cromwell Dixon, a fourteen-year-old boy who successfully designed, built and flew what he dubbed his ‘Sky-Cycle’—literally a flying bicycle, that he could fully steer, and that he flew thousands of feet in the air.”

To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Cromwell Dixon” in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Sept. 30.

Cynsational Winners

The winner of Tsunami! by Kimiko Kajikawa, illustrated by Ed Young (Philomel, 2009) and Hook by Ed Young (Roaring Brook, 2009) was Jessica in Vermont.

The winner of Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Ethan Long (Little, Brown, 2009) was Frances in Illinois.

The winner of Stealing Heaven (Harper, 2008) and a hardcover of Love You Hate You Miss You (Harper, 2009), both by Elizabeth Scott, was Munnaza in New York.

The winners of the Eternal audio (Listening Library, 2009) were Erica at Emmet O’Neal Library in Alabama and Jake in New York.

More Giveaways

Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon Giveaway from Miss Attitude at Reading in Color. Deadline: Sept. 5. Read a Cynsations interview with Cindy.

More News

Happy Writer Appreciation Week! Literary agent Nathan Bransford says: “It’s sometimes a thankless pursuit with uncertain odds, so this week: let’s hear it for the writers out there, published and unpublished.” Note: first in a series of posts. Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Writers Against Racism: a series from Amy Bowllan at School Library Journal. See posts from Neesha Meminger, Arianna (AKA Miss Attitude), Jesse Joshua Watson, Doret, Don Tate, and more! Source: TheHappyNappyBookseller.

The Ring (Westside, 2009) Bobbie Pyron Interview from Doret at TheHappyNappyBookseller. Peek: “I think probably somewhere in the back of my mind, I suspected he was gay. So when I wrote that scene where Megan tells Mardie everyone knows he’s gay, I was a bit surprised, but not entirely. What I was more surprised by was that he didn’t deny it at first.”

Book Launch: Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble from Janet S. Fox at Through the Wardrobe. Peek: “I love tapping into that piece of me that’s forever eighteen. All that amazing intensity of experience, all that newness, all that emotion.”

Details by Brian Yansky at Brian’s Blog: Random thoughts on the art and craft of fiction writing. Peek: “It’s not enough just to stuff a scene with generic sights, sounds, smells, etc. They have to be ones that add to what the scene is doing, what the character is experiencing.” See also Brian’s post, Subtle But Savage. Peek: “You move a little too slow or a little too fast, you arrive a second too soon or a second too late, and you fail. You do it all right and you have the chance for success.” Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Featuring Jean Gralley by Eisha and Jules from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “I like this book, and I really like the humor and art, both of them wonderfully wry.”

Membership Reminder: Oct 1 last day to join from Lindsey Leavitt at 2010: A Book Odyssey. Peek: “Because we’d like a little huddle time before our debut year begins, the tenners will no long be accepting new members after Oct. 1. That means if you are a debut author and have been holding off on joining, now is the time. After Oct. 1, we will not look at requests.”

Round-Table Discussion: Agents with Linda Joy Singleton, Joni Sensel, and Parker Peevyhouse and Round-Table Discussion Continues with P.J. Hoover and Jo Whittemore from The Spectacle. Note: insights on their own agent-acquisition process. Read Cynsations interviews with P.J. and Jo.

What Are You Reading? by Sarah Aronson from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “My appetite is pretty simple. In every book, the plots are truly dictated by what that character wants. Yes, they are character driven, but they all….” Note: the first post in a week-long discussion. See also Helen Hemphill on The Anatomy of a Page-Turner as she takes a look at The Hunger Games (2008) and Catching Fire (2009), both by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic), and Kelly Bingham on The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2008).

Ask the Author: Mark Herr asks “I know there is no ‘right answer’ to this, but in your opinions, how much research is enough research before you start putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)?” from Melissa Stewart at I.N.K.: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids.

Messing Around on the Monkey Bars (Poetry) and New Back-to-School Books: recommendations from Esme Raji Codell at The PlanetEsme Plan.

Congratulations on to Esme Raji Codell on the ten-year anniversary of Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher’s First Year (Algonquin)! Peek: “My publisher has just reissued the book to include a brand new guide I wrote for first year teachers, ‘Hit the Ground Running,’ featuring 25 pieces of practical advice and a ‘new teacher shopping list.’ The reissue also includes a new foreword by Katherine Paterson.” See also Hit the Ground Running: The Educating Esme Teacher Blog. Peek: “…in the coming weeks there will be conversation about the teaching experience, helpful hints, giveaways, inspiring artwork, links both useful and unique, book recommendations (well, of course!) and probably some things to eat (it’s still me, after all).”

Notes to a Young Immigrant by Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “You realize early that virtues are not the property of one heritage; you discover a self powerful enough to balance the best of many worlds.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

Collaborating Takes Work by Vicki Cobb at I.N.K. Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Also an affectionate tribute to her late co-author Kathy Darling.

Pacifiers or Catalysts: Your Choice from Kristi Holl at Writers First Aid. Peek: “The next time you feel anxious about your writing and want to fill your time with something to soothe the fear, why not try a positive change agent?” See also Borrowing Habits, Forget About Age, and Running on Parallel Tracks from Kristi.

What makes a successful writer? by Glenda Larke from Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels. Peek: “So when people ask me, ‘When should I give up?’, I am genuinely puzzled. Why would they want to give up? Don’t they enjoy what they do? Isn’t writing stories what it’s all about?” Source Elizabeth Scott, who also recommends Where Children’s Authors Work from Janette Rallison’s Blog.

Reminder: Kid’s Book Revisions: Online Class and Manuscript Help: taught by Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson. Now taking registrations for a September to November 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.” Note: “late registration through Labor Day is available!” More personally: during my apprenticeship, Harold critiqued the first full novel manuscript I’d ever written and helped put me on the path to publishing success! Read a Cynsations interview with Harold.

Screening Room

Congratulations to Jessica Verday on the release of The Hollow (Simon Pulse, 2009)! Read The Story Behind The Story and a PDF of chapter one.

Check out the book trailer for Devouring: Solstice by Simon Holt (Little, Brown, 2009).

Check out the book trailer for Rage: A Love Story by Julie Ann Peters (Knopf, 2009), produced by Rose Curley, Rhode Island School of Design.

Chicken Dance by Tammi Sauer and Dan Santat (Sterling, 2009): “offers freebies, dance lessons, contest information, and much, much more. It’ll have you all shook up.” In the video below, check out the staff of Sterling as you’ve never seen them before!


Vote now for Teens Top Ten!: “Teens will vote online from Aug. 24 through Sept. 18 at for their favorite books. The winners of the 2009 Teens’ Top Ten will be announced in a webcast featuring WWE Superstars and Divas during Teen Read Week, Oct. 18-24. Tell your book group, youth organizations you work with, and any other groups you know that work with teens to come to between Aug. 24 and Sept. 18 and vote.” Note: I’m honored to report that Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) has been included among the 25 nominees!

More Personally

Of late, I’ve been on deadline with Blessed (Candlewick, 2011), which I’ll be sending to my editor on Tuesday! Yay!

When I’m self-editing, I tend to migrate around the house. Even a slight shift in environment helps me to focus. Here are a few shots of my reading/editing space on the sleeping porch.

Here’s Mercury, the alpha gray tabby, sleeping on a blanket that Grandma Melba gave me years ago and is one of my all-time favorite things.

Mercury is later joined by Bashi, the smaller of the gray tabbies, who’s half resting on the manuscript, and Blizzard Bentley, the friendly snow beast.

The fourth and most high-strung writer kitty, Galileo “Leo,” always needs his own space, but doesn’t stray far.

Here’s a closer look at Leo!

I have no idea how people write without cats. Or read either, for that matter!

See Kit Lit: Children’s Literature for Human Kittens and Official Writer Feline Biographies. Note: these are the most popular pages on the main site for elementary classroom visitors.

Thanks to author-teacher Debbie Gonzales for featuring my books in her photo at Simple Saturdays: Private Pen Pals. Read a Cynsations interview with Debbie, and learn more about her latest venture, The Student Author Book Publishing Program. Note: here, Debbie (white shirt) is featured with fellow Austin writer Erin Edwards.

Thanks to pal Liz Garton Scanlon at Liz In Ink for cheering Eternal (Candlewick, 2009). Liz says: “I love the cover, I love the alternating viewpoints, and I love being totally shocked at the end of a good book!” Note: Liz’s latest picture book is All The World, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, 2009)–don’t miss it! Here, Liz is pictured with Austin SCBWI RA Tim Crow.

Just FYI, Cynsations will not post on Labor Day, but will return on Tuesday!

Even More Personally

Cheers to my very cute husband and sometimes co-author, Greg Leitich Smith, on our 15th wedding anniversary, which is today! We met at The University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor and married in Kansas City two and a half years later. Here, Greg is working on his work-in-progress at the Cedar Park (Texas) Public Library.

Cynsational Events

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.

Texas Events

“Why You (Yes, You) Should Write a Picture Book Biography–with Chris Barton” an Austin SCBWI monthly program at 11 a.m. Sept. 12 at BookPeople, 603 North Lamar, in Austin. Peek: “There’s somebody out there whose life story would be best told by you–and as a picture book, no less. Austin author Chris Barton will help you figure out who the heck that person is and what on earth you should do about it.” Note: Chris also will be speaking at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 18 at the Sulphur Springs (Texas) Public Library. Read a Cynsations interview with Chris.

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.

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 7 more spots available!–register today! See more information. Read Cynsations interviews with Kathi and Sharon.

“The Main Elements of Story: Plot, Character, Setting, and Theme” with author 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. Note: last I heard, there were only 10 more spots available!

Jessica Lee Anderson (Border Crossings (Milkweed, 2009)) and P.J. Hoover (The Forgotten Worlds Book 2: The Navel of the World (CBAY, 2009)) will have a joint book release party at 2 p.m. Oct. 18 at BookPeople. Read previous Cynsations interviews with Jessica and P.J.

Brazos Valley SCBWI presents–Connections & Craft 2009: Writing & Illustrating for Children and Young Adults from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at the A&M United Methodist Church in College Station. Peek: “Editor Joy Neaves from namelos opens our day-long conference with a discussion of craft: ‘Making Connections with Young Readers.’ Award-winning author Carla Killough McClafferty will follow with two sessions: ‘Once Upon a Time There Was a Story that Really Happened’ and ‘More, Please’ –- Hands-on writing exercises. Editor Samantha McFerrin from Harcourt Children’s Books completes the faculty presentations with ‘A Willingness to Be Enchanted.’ The day will close with a panel discussion: ‘Inside the Industry.'” Read a Cynsations interview with Carla.