Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win the Reading is Fundamental/Super Contest sponsored by Lee A Verday at Lee A. Verday’s Book/Writing Blog. Winner-take-all prize package includes:

– a signed copy of The Hollow by Jessica Verday (Simon Pulse, September 2009);

– a “R.U.H2?” T-shirt (R-U-H-Squared?)(Stands for aRe yoU Haunted by the Hollow?);

Ruined: A Ghost Story by Paula Morris (Point, 2009);

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, 2009);

The Palace of Strange Girls by Sallie Day (Grand Central, 2009);

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2009); and

– an “I HEART My Guardian Angel” T-shirt (which ties into Eternal).

New followers of Lee’s blog can also enter to win a signed ARC of Darklight by Lesley Livingston (HarperCollins, December 2009). Deadline: midnight PST Oct. 12. See more information.

Video Book Trailer Contest for Teens — $1000 Prize

Open to ages 13 to 18…

Create a video book trailer for the novel Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown (Tricycle, 2008).

Put together a cast and act it out, create an animation, or use photos with text set to music – it’s up to you. Be creative. Have fun. Make people want to read the book. More details can be found at the website:

– U.S resident only between 13 and 18 years of age (as of the close of the contest);
– 30 seconds to 2 minutes in length and in a standard video format (.wmv, .mov, .avi, .mp4);
– your own creation, no copyrighted material;
– include a brief description of the process you followed;
– deadline for entries: Dec. 15.

(judging will be based on the following criteria; please see the official rules for more details)
– creativity (50%);
– consistency with the book (25%);
– fit and finish (25%).

– the winner will receive a $1000 scholarship;
– the winner will also have their trailer featured on the Random House website.

Book Club Contest

Would you like to read Kate Messner‘s The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. (Walker, 2009) with your book club?

It can be a mother-daughter group, a class literature circle, an after-school book club…any situation where a group of kids (and maybe grownups, too!) get together to talk about books.

Kate and her publisher, Walker Books for Young Readers, are sponsoring a drawing.

One book club will win:

– hardcover copies of The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. for your book club (up to 12 copies!);

– six copies of Tree Finder: A Manual For the Identification of Trees and Their Leaves by May T. Watts (Nature Study Guild Publishers, 1963), a great resource for creating your own leaf collections;

– Gianna Z. silicone bracelets and bookmarks for everyone in your book club;

– Gianna Z. discussion guide, a recipe for Nonna’s famous funeral cookies, and the “What Kind of Tree Are You?” quiz;

– an author visit to your book club meeting! If you live nearby, Kate will visit via Skype videoconferencing software to tell you all the juicy stories behind the writing of Gianna Z. and answer questions.

Details on how to enter are on Kate’s blog.

More News

In the video below, Melissa de la Cruz talks about The Van Alen Legacy (Hyperion, 2009), the latest in her Blue Bloods series. Source: The Compulsive Reader. Read a Cynsations interview with Melissa.

Banned Books Week Q & A: E. Lockhart from Emily at BookKids: from the Crazy Folks at BookPeople. Peek: “I will say that in books where I don’t need them for the language to remain true and emotional, I have often kept expletives out. I find creative alternatives for the usual slang.” Read a Cynsations interview with E. Lockhart.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #133: Featuring Elizabeth O. Dulemba by Eisha and Jules from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “I figured the embedded Spanish, light graphic-novel format (for reluctant readers to segue into graphic novels), and touch on bullying would be a pull (those I did on purpose), but I never considered the muddy-to-clean part. Duh!”

Check out the book trailer below for Soap, Soap, Soap / Jabon, Jabon, Jabon by Elizabeth O. Dulemba (Raven Tree, Sept. 2009). Note: don’t miss Coloring Page Tuesdays from Elizabeth.

Agent Interview with Jennie Dunham of Dunham Literary Inc. from K.L. Going‘s Writer Resource Page. Peek: “…a strong voice, real characters, and compelling, memorable stories. I’m not so keen on easy readers and short story or poetry collections.” Note: open to writer-illustrators.

Welcome back, Buried Editor of Buried in the Slush Pile! We missed you while you were gone, but oh, what a beautiful baby! Note: BE’s focus this week is religious fiction.

Publishing Darwinism – Where Are You On The Food Chain? from Babbles from Scott Eagan, the literary agent for Greyhaus Literary Agency, representing romance and women’s fiction. Peek: “You have to be there mentally. Those successful writers have found ways to talk themselves over those barriers and to be ready to face the day when it is cloudy.” Note: I don’t know that children’s-YA authors are expected to “dress for success” in the same way as romance/women’s writers, but there’s still a point here to consider. Source: Children’s Book Biz News.

Interview with Mary Pearson from Writer Musings: A place to ponder books, as well as how the words get on the page. Peek: “Every book feels like a first, and really it is. Each character and their story requires a unique approach. So finding my way through a story is still an exciting, uncertain, and often bumpy process, just as it was with my first book.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mary.

Do Unpubbed Authors Need a Bio? by Kate Fall at Author2Author: 5 Authors, 5 Journeys. Peek: “I have two bio paragraphs, one informal and in third person for social networking, and another, more formal one written in first person for queries…”

Brown Bookshelf Opens Submissions for 2010 28 Days Later Campaign from The Brown Bookshelf: United in Story. Peek: “The Brown Bookshelf (BBS), a website designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers, will open submissions for its third annual 28 Days Later Campaign on Sept. 28 with hopes for its deepest candidate pool yet. ‘I go into each year thinking, who’s left that we haven’t highlighted–because the number of African Americans writing for children isn’t huge,’ says BBS member and author/illustrator, Don Tate. ‘And then I’m happily baffled to see the submissions stream in with names of authors I’m unfamiliar with.'”

Blogfest 2009: 40 Authors, 14 Questions, 2 Weeks, 1 Blog from Sept. 21 to Oct. 4 from Simon & Schuster. Peek: “Featuring Holly Black, Kate Brian, Ellen Hopkins, Lisa McMann, L.J. Smith, Scott Westerfeld and more!” See also Noni Carter, Jenny Han, Cynthia Kadohata, Nessha Meminger, Lisa Schroeder, Elizabeth Scott, Jessica Verday, and the whole list!

“And Stay Out of Trouble: Narratives for Black Urban Children” by Lelac Almagor from the September/October 2009 issue of The Horn Book Magazine and A Response to Lelac Almagor’s “And Stay Out of Trouble” by Sharon G. Flake, again from The Horn Book. Source: Read Roger.

Photo Contest in celebration of the forthcoming release of Flash Burnout (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2009) sponsored by author L.K. Madigan at Drenched in Words. Peek: “The winners of the photo contest will have their photos hosted on my website, plus receive $50 gift certificates to the online merchant of their choice.” Deadline: midnight Oct. 19. See more information.

Postcards from the Recession: From L.A. to Alabama: The university job was too good to pass up; or is it? by Kerry Madden from the Los Angeles Times. Peek: “True, we had never been able to afford to buy a house on our teacher-writer household income. But we loved our home and our friends. We’d spent 21 years in Los Angeles, raised our three children there. I’d written all my books there. I’d long had a hazy dream of buying a place in the Great Smoky Mountains–a place to go and write–but Birmingham wasn’t on the radar.” Note: a personal look at a writer’s life. Read a Cynsations interview with Kerry.

The Elephant in the Room: Databases by Marc Aronson at School Library Journal. Peek: “Our sole goal in creating, or purchasing, nonfiction is to 1) engage readers 2) present a point of view 3) challenge, stimulate, entrance readers. We are in the writing business, not the information business.” Read a Cynsations interview with Marc.

Showing vs. Telling from Nathan Bransford–Literary Agent. Peek: “My interpretation is this. With the understanding that ‘if it works it works,’ and there are always exceptions, in general: universal emotions should not be ‘told.’ Instead, we should be shown how the character is reacting to their feelings.” Note: think about exceptions when you hit your protagonist’s epiphany. Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Magic Carpet: Books, Identity, and Assimilation by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “My father’s tales still have the power to carry me to a faraway world. The Bangla words weave the same colorful patterns in my imagination. My pen, however, like his own halting translation, is unable to soar with them.” See also Story, Language, and Identity from Uma Krishnaswami. Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

The Wedding of Anastasia Jessica Packwood and Lucius Valeriu Vladescu: a fiction extension of Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (Harcourt, 2009) at Beth’s website.

Banned Books Week Q & A: K. L. Going from Emily at the BookKids Blog! from the crazy folks at BookPeople. Peek: “I have gotten e-mails from kids who have literally said they were at the point of suicide, like Troy is in the beginning of the novel, and that reading about a character like themselves made them rethink their decision. How dare people take that connection away from the kid who needs it!” Read a Cynsations interview with K.L.

Seven Ways to Write a Book Faster by Evan Marshall at The Cuckleburr Times. Peek: “When I’m writing a novel, I don’t allow myself to print out a hard copy until the first draft is completely finished. Printing out–for me, at least–leads to all kinds of distractions that slow writing down.” Source: April Henry.

The Turning Point by Jo Whittemore at Jo’s Journal. Peek: “…the turning point is not always a happy one, but it does allow us to see how your character has grown. Sometimes, it happens just before the final conflict, and sometimes it happens a wee bit earlier.” Read a Cynsations interview with Jo.

How to Get Your Book Reviewed on a Blog by Anastasia Suen at Blog Central. Peek: “Read, read, read blogs, so you don’t waste your time and money chasing folks who don’t even read what you write!” Read a Cynsations interview with Anastasia.

Balarama: A Royal Elephant by Ted and Betsy Lewin (Lee & Low, 2009): a recommendation from Uma Krishnaswami at Writing with a Broken Tusk. Peek: “Lavish paintings depict the decorated and caparisoned elephants, and capture the dust and foliage, color and vibrancy, of the Mysore setting.” See also an interview with Ted and Betsy from Uma.

In the video below, “author-illustrators Ted and Betsy Lewin invite us inside their Brooklyn studio to talk about their new book, Balarama: A Royal Elephant,” courtesy of Lee & Low.

Perspiration: Professional Critiques from Cynthia Leitich Smith Children’s Literature Resources. Listing of paid children’s-YA manuscript critiquers/coaches. Note: industry pros may want to point beginners to this page.

Olu’s Dream: an interview with author-illustrator Shane W. Evans from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “It is not about ‘race,’ and I want to make that distinction, as race is often a construct that divides us. It is about stories… Culture covers our world. So we look at two people from two distinct stories that come together and have a child.”

List of YA Authors by State from YALSA’s wiki. Peek: “This page will collect the names of YA authors and list them by state, for the purpose of helping librarians, library workers and educators to plan author visits and other such programs. If you know of a YA author who resides in your state (or if you are one!), please add the name of the author and his or her web site information below under the appropriate state.” Source: Paula Chase Hyman.

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles: an interview and reader discussion at the YA Authors Cafe. Peek: “Sometimes, you just have to wait for the stars to align exactly right. Seriously. There is a lot of luck involved in this crazy business. But there is also a lot of heart and bravery and believing in yourself and the characters you love.” Read a Cynsations interview with Jo.

What a Girl Wants #7: Because We Are Not All Rich Girls by Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray. Peek: “…by not making money part of the story are we ignoring her yet again, along with everyone else in or near her situation?”

Agent Spotlight: Joe Monti from Literary Rambles: Being a blog of desultory thoughts on writing and life. Peek: “I’ll be focusing on children’s and young adult, or teen, literature as well as some adult genre fiction. I’m also interested in working with folks who are writer-artists of graphic works, from graphic novels to picture books. Specifically I love work that breaks new ground, a work that is subversive or enlightening by utilizing a different approach.” Source: Children’s Book Biz News.

Writing in the Zone by Brian Yansky at Brian’s Blog: Writer Talk: Random thoughts on the art and craft of fiction writing. Peek: “…there’s that one very magical part to writing (like with Taekwondo); everything has to work together without the writer consciously forcing it to do so (of course when rewriting the writer will be very conscious about his choices). The writer has to find that unconscious place where he becomes the story.” Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

An Interview with Libba Bray by Gwenda Bond at Shaken & Stirred. Peeek: “…if you want to know the true meaning of silence, sit in a conference room with your publisher and editor when you cheerfully announce to them that the follow-up to your Victorian schoolgirl supernatural fantasy series is a funny mad cow disease road trip novel narrated by a profane sixteen-year-old boy. Good times, good times.” Read a Cynsations interview with Libba.

Interview With Joni Sensel by Janet S. Fox from Through the Wardrobe. Peek: “The great thing about young protagonists is that they’re still being formed and shaped by events and their own actions.” Read a Cynsations interview with Janet.

Teaching Nonfiction Writing by April Pulley Sayre from I.N.K. Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: “A new tool for educators teaching young writers is S Is for Story: a Writer’s Alphabet, written by Esther Hershenhorn and illustrated by Zachary Pullen.” Note: from Sleeping Bear Press. Read Cynsations interviews with April and Esther.

Nest for a Children’s Author, Her Family and Her Flock by Julia Lawlor from The New York Times. Peek: “A love for for animals infuses the 30 children’s books that Jan Brett has written and illustrated in 30 years, and it is reflected in myriad paintings, photographs, pottery and carvings that decorate her summer home here in the Berkshires.” Source: The Longstockings.

2010 Houston-SCBWI Conference will be held on Feb. 20, 2010 at the Merrell Center in Katy. Registration is now open. Faculty includes Cynthia Leitich Smith, award-winning author and Vermont College of Fine Arts faculty member; Ruta Rimas, assistant editor at Balzar & Bray/HarperCollins; Patrick Collins, creative director at Henry Holt; Alexandra Cooper, senior editor at Simon & Schuster; Lisa Ann Sandell, senior editor at Scholastic; and Sara Crowe, agent at Harvey Klinger. Note: “All the speakers will be doing critiques. Critique spots are limited.” See registration and information. Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

Children’s & YA Writers’ Reading List: Links
from Cynthia Leitich Smith Children’s-YA Literature Resources. Mega round-up of information on agents, book design and art direction, editors and publishers, education, illustration, promotion, publishing, and writing.

Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey (Book 2 of A Resurrection of Magic)(Atheneum, 2009): a recommendation from Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: “…an intense and fascinating story of obsession and evil.” Read a Cynsations interview with Kathleen about Skin Hunger (Book 1 of the Resurrection of Magic)(Atheneum, 2007).

Paula Chase Hyman: Extroverted, Earnest, and Earthy from Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “It would be easy for a young writer of color to look at the literary landscape and become very discouraged because still, much of what’s out there is somewhat ‘typical’ of what authors of color are supposed to write. But never let that stop you.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali and a Cynsations interview with Paula.

Why Was My Manuscript Rejected? 3 Literary Agents, 3 Opinions: Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Literary Agency, Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson Associates, and Ann Tobias of A Literary Agency for Children’s Books will be hosting a manuscript workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 15 at Shelburne Hotel (303 Lexington Avenue (at 37th Street)) in New York. “The workshop promises to be lively with three, possibly different, opinions about the strength and weaknesses of each manuscript. We will also discuss marketplace considerations, writing tips, and hold a general Q&A session. Register early for the special rate of $195. After Oct. 25, the rate goes up to $225. Group size is strictly limited to allow a full discussion of each participant’s manuscript, which the agents will read in advance of the workshop.” Note: “Our first workshop, in April 2009, was a sell-out.” Read a Cynsations interview with Anna.

Drains In Disguise by Kristi Holl at Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “Taking care of the unfinished business that nags at your mind–and keeps you from feeling like you can settle down to write–may be necessary before you can tackle your writing assignment.”

Cynsational Tip

Connect/find the curriculum and reader’s guides for children’s YA books at Lesson Plan Search and Sites for Teachers. Note: teachers also should check out

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 approach covering multicultural children’s and young adult books on your blog?”

While this is a priority, it’s not at all a personal challenge. My natural inclination to read books by and about a wide diversity of folks, and like-minded people make up a substantial portion of my audience.

What’s more, because I’ve long (and loudly) supported a variety of voices and visions, I regularly receive a lovely range of titles to consider from authors, publishers, and publicists.

On my official author site, I double or triple “shelve” books where appropriate.

For example, in the children’s-YA literature resources section, Rita Williams-Garcia‘s Every Time A Rainbow Dies (HarperCollins, 2001) is listed on the multicultural and young adult bibliographies.

It’s my way of making sure to feature such titles for all prospective readers who surf by while still highlighting them to those teachers, librarians, and child caregivers who may be thoughtfully building collections or seeking a particular curriculum tie-in. Or, for that matter, teens who want to read about someone like them in that way.

On Cynsations, the approach is fully integrated, especially for the news wrap-ups. But among many others, I do tend to read blogs like The Brown Bookshelf: United in Story, which which promotes African-American youth literature, and Mitali’s Fire Escape, where author Mitali Perkins often discusses race and culture in children’s-YA books. If I see a substantive post that draws attention to multicultural literature, I’ll certainly share the link, which may provide a reason to include a book cover.

I keep an eye out for opportunities to make a difference. Feature. Highlight. Cheer!

Big “push” efforts and celebrations are important, but I’d like to encourage y’all to embrace a consistent, day-to-day approach as well.

What else? Last weekend I signed onto Twitter @CynLeitichSmith! Please find me! Note: check out Twitter Chats for Writers by Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Daily Diversions for Writers.

I also added an IndieBound widget to the sidebar of Cynsations at Blogger (haven’t figured out how to do that at LiveJournal), and I’ll ask my genius webmaster, Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys, to add it to the main site on the next monthly update. Note: I recommend that authors/illustrators check out this easy-to-use feature and consider adding it to their own sites/blogs.

In other news, my JacketFlap and YA YNot? pages also have been updated.

Book Bag: Sink your teeth into these by Lani Stack from The Advocate Weekly Online. A full-article review recommending Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009). She writes: “Tantalize offers a substantial plot and a charismatic lead character. The first-person narration captures both the self-questioning angst and brash confidence of a headstrong teenager. Add devilish supporting characters and complex, clever and well-paced plot, and Tantalize is a darkly delicious read for older teens.”

Giveaway Reminders

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.

Cynsational Events

Liz Garton Scanlon will celebrate the release of her picture book, All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane/S&S), with storytime at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 26 at BookPeople in Austin. Read a Cynsations interview with Liz.

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 Cynsations interviews with Jessica and P.J.

The Texas Book Festival take place Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in Austin. 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!

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.

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: Michael has recently changed literary agencies.