Cynsational News & Giveaways

Author Interview: Marissa Doyle from Alyssa at The Shady Glade. Peek: “I’m not so much a regular history buff as a super-sized, over-the-top, fully-fledged history geek. One of the things I loved most about writing historical YA is getting the chance to show teens that history isn’t just dry boring dates and lists of events–it can be vital and fascinating and full of juicy stories.”

Course Corrections by Kristi Holl at Writers First Aid. Peek: “What does the moon mission have to do with writing? Well, I was looking at my yearly goals over the weekend, and like the Apollo mission, my trajectory is off course-and has been most of the year.” See also Kristi on Hardiness.

Where’s Ramona Quimby, Black and Pretty? by Elizabeth Bluemle from ShelfTalker: A Children’s Bookseller’s Blog. Peek: “I’d like to compile a list of 2009 books that feature characters of color in books about contemporary American children, whether or not race is part of the story.” Don’t miss Elizabeth’s follow-up post: A World Full of Color.

Celebrates Science: “innovative resources for teaching science and tips for writing nonfiction.” Peek: “Melissa Stewart is the award-winning author of more than 100 nonfiction books for children. Her lifelong fascination with the natural world led her to earn a B.S. in biology and M.A. in science journalism.”

4 Stages of Character Development from Darcy Pattison at Fiction Notes. Peek: “Do your characters progress through similar stages? Blurry, confusing, deeper, inconsistent, exactly what I envisioned.” Read a Cynsations interview with Darcy.

Rep Your Favorite Latino/a Book for Hispanic Heritage Month from Jo Ann Hernandez at BronzeWord Latino Authors. Peek: “I thought of one way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. We can celebrate our books written by our own and win a book in the process. I borrowed the idea from Darcy Pattison doing Random Acts of Publicity Week.'” Note: surf over to discover ways you can support Latino/a authors/books and enter to win a book, too!

Namelos Editions to Publish Electronic and POD Books by Karen Springen from Publishers Weekly. Peek: Stephen Roxburgh’s “namelos editions will publish one-color children’s and YA fiction, nonfiction and poetry in electronic and print-on-demand editions.” Source: Leda Schubert. Read a Cynsations interview with Stephen on namelos.

Banned Books Week Q&A: Nancy Garden by Emily at BookPeople. Peek: “It saddens me especially that many adults feel that they themselves should not only control what their own children read–which they of course have every right to do–but that they, by trying to ban certain books, should also seek to control what other people’s children read, which they of course have no right to do.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nancy.

Getting an Idea for a Novel from Elizabeth Holmes from Crowe’s Nest: An Agent and Her List Discuss Books, Publishing and Beyond. Peek: “An idea is a very personal thing. Before it can become a real, whole, completed, beautiful entity—novel, poem, whatever—it has to be nurtured, often for a very long time. And that takes love.”

Varsha Bajaj: new official author site. Varsha is the Houston-based author of How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight? illustrated by Ivan Bates (Little, Brown) and the forthcoming T is for Taj Mahal: An India Alphabet book, illustrated by Robert Crawford (Sleeping Bear Press, 2010). Learn more about Varsha and her presentations. Peek: “On Sept. 13, 1986, I came to America as a graduate student. I was young, naive, and idealistic. I arrived at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis with two suitcases, a few dollars and dreams.” Note: it isn’t often that an author bio makes me teary.

Reading Lists from the Texas Library Association. Peek: “The Texas Library Association sponsors reading lists to encourage free voluntary reading.” Lists include the 2 x 2 (age 2 through second grade), Texas Bluebonnet Award (third through sixth grade), Lone Star (sixth through eighth grade), and Tayshas (high school). Note: of my books, Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/Harper, 2000) made the 2 x 2 list, and Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007) made the Tayshas list.

alphabet soup autumn menu from Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup. Peek: “I’ll just have to feed my desires with food memoirs, restaurant movies, supporting my favorite locally-owned restaurants, seeking out new ones with historic ties and/or personality, and, of course, reading tasty fiction that features chefs, aspiring chefs and the culinary arts.”

Marvelous Marketer: Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group from Shelli at Market My Words. Peek: “Just as every writer work hard to perfect a voice that is all his or her very own, I encourage cultivating a marketing style that feels similarly authentic, comfortable, and unique.”

Daniel Schallau: Children’s Book Author: official site from the author-illustrator of Come Back Soon (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). Learn about How the Book Came to Be. From the promotional copy: “It’s a long way from Elephant Island to Icetown, but good friends will travel great distances to visit one another. And so Elephant leaves home to see his penguin penpals–Elephant has helped them build a hotel, and there will be a party in his honor. In Icetown, things don’t go as planned. In fact, they don’t go smoothly at all. But just like friends will travel far across the sea to be with one another, good friends will also always help to make things right. A story of friendship, a story of travel and global community, Come Back Soon will cheer anyone who has ever made a mistake and been forgiven.”

Nominate Your Librarian: from American Library Association. “Nominate your librarian for the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award! Up to ten librarians will be honored. Each will receive $5,000 and be recognized at an awards ceremony…” Nomination deadline: Oct. 9. Source: Three Silly Chicks.

Finding a Voice in a Graphic Memoir by Eric Konigsburg from The New York Times. Peek: “Roughly a half century ago, when Mr. Small was 14, he underwent an operation his parents told him was to remove a cyst in his neck but which he discovered by chance had been throat cancer. The surgery left him without one of his vocal cords or his thyroid gland. And, for nearly a decade, he couldn’t speak above a hoarse whisper.” Source: Brenda Bowen at Bunny Eat Bunny.

Thumbs Up for Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books and Giveaway from Esther Hershenhorn on Teaching Authors: Six Children’s Authors Who Also Teach Writing. Peek: “For each teaching point, Ann offers not only supportive titles and authors to read and know; she also offers up her personal experiences.” Note: you can also enter to win World Builder by Ann Whitford Paul, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus (Simon & Schuster, 2009). See giveaway guidelines. Deadline: midnight CST Sept. 18.

Children’s Books: An Angelic Autumn by Karen Springen from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Like modern vampires, they can be gorgeous, immortal and otherworldly heartthrobs…’ said Justin Chanda, v-p and publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, who calls angels ‘safe gothic’ and ‘romantic.'” Note: My Gothic fantasy universe features arch and guardian angels, vampires, shapeshifters, and ghosts. It includes Tantalize (2007), Eternal (2009), and Blessed (2011)(all Candlewick) and two short stories–“Haunted Love” from Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella, 2008) and “Cat Calls” from Sideshow: Ten Original Dark Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2009).

Of Dogs and Writing–Curb Your Enthusiasm by Susan Taylor Brown. Peek: “The children’s publishing world is a small one. People move around all the time. Writers become editors and editors become agents and you never know who you will meet that will help you grow.” Note: when in doubt, err on the side of graciousness and forgiveness. Everyone has the occasional bad day.

See the video below for the Tu Publishing Kickstarter Fund-raising Project. Peek: “Tu Publishing is a woman-owned small press start-up that believes in the power of books to change lives. Children’s books, especially, have the ability to inform, inspire, and entertain in a way that few mediums can. Tu Publishing is dedicated to publishing fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and historical fiction for children and young adults inspired by many cultures from around the world… To be able to achieve that goal, we need to raise enough money to fund the acquisition, production, marketing, and distribution of our first two books, for which we hope–with your help–to begin acquiring in January 2010. With your help, we can make this happen. Whether or not you can donate, I’d love to see people, especially teen readers/non-readers, share their own video or blog responses to this video…” Learn more at Tu Publishing and Stacy Whitman’s Grimoire: Thoughts on writing, editing, and publishing books for children and young adults.

Black Angels (Putnam, 2009): an interview with Linda Beatrice Brown by Kelly Starling Lyons from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “I specifically wanted to explore what happened to children during the Civil War since I had taught about it in my Black Studies courses. I worked on Black Angels on and off for about 10 years.”Ages 12-up.

The Picture Perfect Picture Book: a chat transcript with Kim Norman from the Institute of Children’s Literature (Sept. 7 to Sept. 9). Peek: “…there probably aren’t any topics which haven’t been done and done, again and again. The trick to a sale is more in the execution, and in finding just the right publisher for that particular book.” Read a Cynsations interview with Kim.

Examining Narrative Arcs by Stephanie Greene from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “My point is that as I was trying to think about how to talk more clearly about narrative arcs, I decided to ask the class to read several books so we can diagram their arcs and talk about them together. They needed to be short so that everyone could read them in a week.”

Chris Barton’s SCBWI Talk

Debut author Chris Barton spoke on writing picture book biographies at the Austin SCBWI monthly meeting last Saturday at BookPeople.

Author-illustrator Emma Virjan with Austin SCBWI RA Tim Crow.

Author Jo Whittemore models the ARC for her upcoming novel, Front Page Face-Off (Minx, 2010).

Authors Liz Garton Scanlon and Jennifer Ziegler.

Jo again with YA authors Varian Johnson and April Lurie.

Jo one more time with fellow author P.J. Hoover.

More Personally

During the heat of my Blessed (Candlewick, 2011) deadline, I hosted a giveaway in which entrants were invited to ask me a question. Here’s one example:

“How do you decide which books to review on Cynsations?”

I consider Cynsations more of an interview-and-resources blog, celebrating the conversation of books, writing as a craft, and publishing as a business. I don’t do reviews per se, though I certainly highlight.

That said, in terms of selecting titles/voices to feature, it’s an organic process. I receive literally thousands of submissions a year from authors, publicists, and publishers. In addition, I buy a number of books. Some may be featured in the news round-ups, others in, say, author interviews. I do consider back-list titles.

I try to balance new voices, rising stars, innovators, established pros, best sellers, award winners, big names, risk takers, the under-appreciated, a variety of genres, traditions, age markets, and diversity in terms of not only race/ethnicity but also, say, faith, region, and socio-economics (of the artists and the art). I also have a particular interest in humor, nonfiction, poetry, and the international children’s-YA book scene.

I believe in going both local and global. I’ve probably interviewed more Austin-and-Texas based authors than most U.S.-based bloggers but also, on average, more voices from around the world and plenty in between.

If I’ve featured an author or illustrator before, I try to periodically update my readers on their goings-on with announcements and update interviews. The conversation is an ongoing one.

I’ve been active in children’s-YA publishing for some thirteen years (and I’m social) so I do know a lot of people. But most folks are new to me at the time I first interview them.

From now to the end of the year, of the interviews with book creators that are currently in the queue, 28 feature authors/illustrators with whom I’d had no previous interaction, nine feature professional acquaintances, six feature friends, one features a fellow faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and one features my Candlewick editor, who is also a critically-acclaimed author. Of the six friends, I didn’t know three of them when I first interviewed them for Cynsations. That’s a fairly typical sample.

It may also be of interest that one out of five people to whom I send questions–after asking first–never respond.

(I also highlight agents, editors, publishers, publicists, booking agents, journal editors, gurus, booksellers, teachers, librarians, university professors of youth literature, etc.)

See submissions guidelines. Note: established publishers may contact me for another address.


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.

Austin Events

San Antonio author Diana López will be speaking and signing her middle grade novel, Confetti Girl (Little, Brown, 2009), at 1 p.m. Sept. 19 at BookPeople in Austin, Texas. Read a Cynsations interview with Diana.

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 3 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. Last I heard, there were only 5 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.

The Hill Country Book Festival will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 14. Featured authors/illustrators include Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Don Tate, Liz Garton Scanlon, Lila Guzman, P.J. Hoover, and Jennifer Ziegler.