Cynsational News & Giveaways

The Texas Book Festival, which will take place Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in Austin, has announced its slate of featured authors for 2009!

Featured children’s-YA authors include: Jessica Lee Anderson, Libba Bray, Janie Bynum, Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Keith Graves, Heather Hepler, K.A. Holt, Jacqueline Kelly, Rick Riordan, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Rene Saldana, Jr., Tammi Sauer, Liz Garton Scanlon, Anita Silvey, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Samantha R. Vamos, Rosemary Wells, Kathy Whitehead, Mo Willems, and Sara Zarr. See the whole list!

Read what TBF has to say about my own featured book, Eternal (Candlewick, 2009)! Peek: “Smith’s humor is in the details: an angel offers Yahoo maps as a directional aide, Dracula purchases a coffin for a reduced rate online, and Zachary gets a tattoo of a cherub on his chest while intoxicated in Austin.” Read the whole recommendation.

More News

“Free! Writing Lessons Here” by Tammi Lewis Brown from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Believe it or not there are lots of places you can hone your writing skills for absolutely no money. Don’t expect to receive a one on one critique of your work for free. Do expect to stand back as writing advice floods over you. Here are some places to look…” Don’t miss To MFA or Not to MFA… from Tammi. Note: part of a week-long series on writing education. See also Perspiration: Self-Study from my website.

Cheryl Savageau’s Muskrat Will Be Swimming: a recommendation from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature. Peek: “I strongly urge teachers and librarians and parents to get books that are about modern day Native people. Those that incorporate elements of traditional culture can do a lot to help children know that Native people are still here—that we didn’t vanish.” Note: would you like to support Native voices? Please consider adding the Native Youth Literature Widget from JacketFlap to your blog/site sidebar.

Meet and Greet: Judy Young: an author interview from Susan Uhlig at Kidlit Central News. Peek: “…these books are not typical alphabet books. They have the ABC component but are more about the subject matter that happens to be arranged in alphabetical order. And they are multi-tiered for different ages. Each page has a letter, a poem, sidebar expository and captivating illustration.” Note: “Judy is speaking at the Missouri SCBWI conference in St. Charles on Nov. 7.”

Back-to-School “Jewels” Giveaway: enter to win The Amethyst Road by Louise Spiegler (Clarion, 2005) and an ARC of The Navel of the World: The Forgotten Worlds Book 2 by P.J. Hoover (CBAY, 2009) from The Spectacle. Peek: “To enter, leave a comment on this post with your favorite thing about fall. If you can tie it to a book, so much better.” Winner posted Sept. 21. Read a Cynsations interview with P.J.

Picture Book Boot Camp with Lisa Wheeler: “This one-day workshop teaches participants how to develop a lean, muscular body of work.” The first boot camp is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Holiday Inn in Lake City, Florida. The second is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Shapleigh, Maine. Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

Writing it Right!: Kristi Holl at Writer’s First Aid recommends Writing It Right!: How Successful Children’s Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories by Sandy Asher (Writers Institute, 2009). Peek: “In the book, each story (full picture book or a chapter from a longer work) is analyzed in several ways. You’ll see before and after versions… In another section, you will see the actual line edits that brought about the changes.”

“Deus ex Machina and Foreshadowing: Advice for Writers” by Jo Whittemore from The Spectacle. Peek: “When your reader gets to the point where the main character resolves the conflict, it must be believable. To make it believable, you must have left an impression in the reader’s mind that such an event was bound to happen based on the events that preceded it.” Read a Cynsations interview with Jo.

Author-Illustrator Mark G. Mitchell will teach a six week class in Children’s Book Illustration from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday evenings from Sept. 14 to Oct. 19 in conjunction with The Art School of The Austin Museum of Art. Peek: “This enjoyable, information-packed class will cover the basics of illustrating for children’s books and magazines. Complete a finished, full color piece for your story. (Editors want to see a sample of your color work.) Learn the steps in preparing thumbnails, a dummy and a submission package for an editor and/or art director at a children’s book publishing house. Also covered: using visual references, transferring sketches to a painting surface, how to submit final art (after you get that contract) and how to market yourself and your work.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mark.

Q & A with David Levithan from Blog. Peek: “…after such a tragic event, we could have spiraled into chaos, both as a country and as individuals. But the opposite happened. Even though we were in shock, and even though we were in uncharted territory, we managed to maintain our better selves.” Read a Cynsations interview with David.

Gingerbread Pancakes with Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee from Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “When she called, I said something along the lines of, ‘Who are you?’ because it seemed to me like she was way too amazing of a writer to be sending off a manuscript in this way. It was completely against the Children’s Book Publishing Rules! But she knew that and she did it anyway.” Note: a don’t-miss interview!

Writing Beyond Illinois Borders: Former SCBWI-Illinois members Carol Brendler and Keith McGowan talk about their experiences as debut authors living abroad from The Prairie Wind: Newsletter of the SCBWI-Illinois Chapter. Peek: “Canadians have an understandable desire to promote and support Canadian authors, so I find that a visit to the bookshop or the library is full of unfamiliar but intriguing new finds.”

The Student Author Book Publishing Program, presented by author/educator Debbie Gonzales, is a unique, program-specific, in-school writing workshop in which students experience all stages of the publishing process and have their work published in a hard-bound book, just like a real author. Learn more from Debbie! Read a Cynsations interview with Debbie.

Trouble Spots: The Last Time I Was in Trouble by Rita Williams-Garcia from The Horn Book. Peek: “I remember my defiant march beyond our wooden fence . . . and making it as far as the end of the block, when I heard a howl from (I was sure) a rabid dog or a coyote. I ran home, banged on the door, and cried for my mother to let me in.” See also Nobody Knows… by Betsy Hearne from The Horn Book. Read a Cynsations interview with Rita.

Contests: enter to win book giveaways from TeensReadToo. You can enter to win copies of Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (Curbstone, 2009), Me, My Elf and I by Heather Swain (Speak, 2009), Crash Into Me by Albert Borris (Simon Pulse, 2009), and more! Read a Cynsations interview with Lyn.

Banned Books Week Q&A: Brent Hartinger! from Emily at The BookKids Blog! From the crazy folks at BookPeople. Peek: “The idea that we can’t write about sex in a teen book when that’s one of the three or four top things on a list of topics that teenagers think about and are interested in…well, it’s ridiculous beyond words.” Read a Cynsations interview with Brent.

Author Liz Garton Scanlon debuts her newly redesigned author website this week. Peek: “I can say that Louise Fitzhugh and Judy Blume made my adolescence survivable, that Mary Ann Hoberman‘s rhyme is the high bar I jump for, and that if I ever write a book with half the heart that Cynthia Rylant‘s have, I’ll die happy.”

In the Authors’ Tent: Jeannine Garsee from Melodye Shore at Front Pages. Peek: “Martha, the main character in my first novel, was loosely based on a girl I’d met while working as a nurse on a medical floor. In STW [Say the Word (Bloomsbury, 2009)], Shawna is interested in medical school, her dad is a doctor, and there is a scene at the beginning where her mother is on life support. I obviously drew a lot of that from my own experiences as a nurse.”

Interview With Author Diana Lopez by Rene Colato Lainez from La Bloga. Peek: “For me, stories start with questions, questions I don’t know the answers to. If I were wise, I wouldn’t need to write. If I were wise, I’d be a priest or counselor. But I’m a writer, one who believes Robert Frost when he says, ‘Poems should delight first, teach later.'” Read a Cynsations interview with Diana.

Fourteen Years Later by Ruth Pennebaker from The Fabulous Geezersisters Weblog. Peek: “Today, I’ve now officially been a cancer survivor for 14 years. I was 45, sitting in my home office on a beautiful fall day, when the news came.” Note: Ruth’s books include Both Sides Now (Laurel Leaf, 2002), which is told in alternating points of view by Liza, a 15-year-old whose mother has breast cancer, and her mother. Order a copy for your local high-school and public libraries. And, as long as I’m recommending, Ruth’s Don’t Think Twice (Henry Holt, 2001)–about pregnant teens in 1967–also is a riveting read.

“Boost Your Writing Time Budget” by Sheila Wipperman from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “…as a writer, I have found ways to maximize the time that is available to get down and write. Here are some tips you can use to take advantage of even the busiest moments in your life. “

A Short Interview with Hope Larson about Editing from Dash Shaw at Comics Comics. Peek: “As for my editors being used to working on all-word books, most of them have been comics fans, and most of them have worked on picture books. It hasn’t been a completely new language to them, for which I’m grateful.” See also “Editor speaks: ‘I yam what I yam” from Calista Brill at First Second Books–Doodles and Dailies. Source: Children’s Book Biz News.

Screening Room

A challenge: World’s Longest Domino Rally with Children’s Books. A World Record? Probably. from HarperCollins UK. Source: Alvina Ling.

More Personally

I’m happy to report that the Blessed (Candlewick, spring 2011) manuscript arrived on my Candlewick editor‘s desk this week!

Blessed crosses over the casts of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), picking up at the end of Tantalize with Quincie at Sanguini’s.

In the meantime, I’m catching up on everything that was put on hold while the manuscript was in its last stages of this draft. That includes sending out interview questions and formatting responses for Cynsations, sending updates for the main site to my web goddess (Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys), critiquing manuscripts for a local pal, catching up on correspondence, etc. Long days, but it’s nice to check to-dos off the list.

Amidst all of that, I took a look at my 2009-2010 speaking schedule, and–wow!–it’s packed. However, I’m now open to 2010-2011 invitations. See contact information.

Please note that my original southwestern tall-tale picture book, Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton) will be available in fall 2010.


Enter to win a contributor-signed copy of Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (Little, Brown, 2009)! 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! 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! Read an excerpt, listen to an excerpt, see discussion guide. Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah.

Enter to win Cromwell Dixon’s Sky-Cycle by John Abbott Nez (Putnam, 2009). 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. Read a Cynsations interview with John.


“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.

The Annual KidLitosphere Conference: “The Kidlitosphere Conference is an annual gathering of the Society of Bloggers in Children’s and Young Adult Literature. The 2009 conference will take place in Washington, DC, on Oct. 17. While sessions are not scheduled for Friday, a Library of Congress visit is currently in the planning stages. An informal outing in DC will be scheduled for Sunday as well.” Source: The Brown Bookshelf.