Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win a copy of The Twelve Days of Christmas in Texas by Janie Bynum (Sterling, 2009)! From the promotional copy:

Welcome to the 12 days of Christmas in Texas! Ready to greet you are 9 leapin’ lizards, 8 grazin’ longhorns, 7 bass a-swimmin’, 6 flags a-flyin’… and much more from the Lone Star State.

José is so excited about his cousin Ashley’s visit with him in Texas that he gives her one of these VERY unusual gifts on each of the twelve days of Christmas, and Ashley writes lively letters home to tell her mom and dad all about her trip. Lucky readers are in for a wild Christmas countdown!

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “The Twelve Days of Christmas in Texas” in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the name in the header; I’ll contact you if you win).

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Reminder: Enter to win one of two author-signed copies of Soap Soap Soap Jabón Jabón Jabón by Elizabeth O. Dulemba (Raven Tree, 2009), one of three author-signed copies of My Father’s House by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Raul Colón (Viking, 2007), an author-bookplate-signed copy of Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French (Amulet, 2009) and a contributor-signed copy of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella, Oct. 2009)!

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Soap Soap Soap Jabón Jabón Jabón” and/or “My Father’s House” and/or “Operation Redwood” and/or “Immortal” in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the name in the header; I’ll contact you if you win). Deadline: midnight CST Nov. 30.

Read a Cynsations interview with S. Terrell French. See also a PDF excerpt of Immortal which highlights my short story, “Haunted Love.” The story is set in the same universe as Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and features new characters.

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Congratulations to Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Arlene Hirschfelder on the release of A Kid’s Guide to Native American History: More than 50 Activities (Chicago Review Press, 2009)! From the promotional copy:

“Hands-on activities, games, and crafts introduce children to the diversity of Native American cultures and teach them about the people, experiences, and events that have helped shape America, past and present.

“Nine geographical areas cover a variety of communities like the Mohawk in the Northeast, Ojibway in the Midwest, Shoshone in the Great Basin, Apache in the Southwest, Yupik in Alaska, and Native Hawaiians, among others. Lives of historical and contemporary notable individuals like Chief Joseph and Maria Tallchief are featured, and the book is packed with a variety of topics like first encounters with Europeans, Indian removal, Mohawk sky walkers, and Navajo code talkers.

“Readers travel Native America through activities that highlight the arts, games, food, clothing, and unique celebrations, language, and life ways of various nations. Kids can make Haudensaunee corn husk dolls, play Washoe stone jacks, design Inupiat sun goggles, or create a Hawaiian Ma’o-hauhele bag. A time line, glossary, and recommendations for Web sites, books, movies, and museums round out this multicultural guide.”

More Links

Holiday High Notes from the Horn Book Magazine. Reading recommendations. Note: Santa Knows by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman was a HHN and is available through Scholastic Book Club; see ordering information.

Guide to Gift Books: An Annotated List of Books for Youth from The Bulletin from the Center of Children’s Books. More recommendations. Source: the Horn Book.

Top 10 Arts Books for Youth: 2009 by Gillian Engberg from Booklist. A bibliography of recommendations. Note: congratulations to Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, author of Diego: Bigger Than Life (Marshall Cavendish, 2009) and VCFA alumnae Micol Ostow, author of So Punk Rock and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother (Flux, 2009).

Congratulations to author-illustrator Annette Simon for signing with literary agent Brenda Bowen and to Brenda for signing Annette!

The Writing Life by Sherryl Clark at Books and Writing. Peek: “You are on a journey that will never end as long as writing is your life. You will stumble, even fall. You will find others on the same journey at different times who will help you up. You will carry on with scabbed knees because the scars will also help make you a better writer.” Source: Kristi Holl at Writer’s First Aid.

Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2009 by The New York Times Book Review. Note: special congrats to Austin’s own Liz Garton Scanlon, author of All The World (Beach Lane, 2009)!

Crossing the country in search of a cure: Libba Bray’s picaresque novel takes a new direction: interview by Gavin Grant from BookPage. Peek: “This ‘temptation to drift off into solipsism’ was what Bray wanted to investigate in Going Bovine (Delacorte, 2009).”

Q&A with Bobbi Katz from Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “We talk about what makes poetry different than prose: rhythm, frequent use of rhyme, and most important (and usually without using the formal terms) poetic devices such as metaphor, simile, and personification. We usually write collaborative list poems.”

Once Was Lost (by Sara Zarr) and The Expressologist (by Kristina Springer) Giveaway from Tabitha Olson from Writing Musings. Deadline: Nov. 28. Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

Interview with Justine Larbalestier
from Color Online. Peek: “For ages I thought writing and activism were separate things. I was a writer, not an activist. But then readers started thanking me for writing about teens who weren’t white, girls who liked maths, boys who like clothes. I learned that representation is extraordinarily important.” Read a Cynsations interview with Justine.

How To Write About…(Pick a Place or People) by Uma Krishnaswami from Writing with a Broken Tusk. Peek: “Look at any of half a dozen YA novels set in South Asia and you might conclude that all the girls in the region are trying desperately to flee oppressive marriage or widowhood or sexual exploitation. You will feel pity for them and more, you will be grateful that you are not in their place. The thing is, you can’t see people as fully human if all you can feel for them is pity.” Read a Cynsations interview with Uma.

Interview with Sara Zarr by Tabitha Olson from Writer Musings. Peek: “Finding publishing success doesn’t solve the basic problem: how do I translate an imaginative vision into language?”

Children’s Book Illustrator Mike Benny: official site features gallery and bio. Mike’s latest book is The Listeners, written by Gloria Whelan (Sleeping Bear, 2009), and he makes his home in Austin, Texas. Find more Austin Children’s-YA Authors & Illustrators at IndieBound.

Filipino Books for Children: Old and New Favorites by Neni Sta. Romana Cruz from papertigers. Peek: “Although these books were originally meant for Filipino children, the universality of their themes and the English text (not always available in Philippine publications) allow them to be enjoyed by English-speaking children anywhere in the world.”

The Movement You Need Is On Your Shoulder by Christine Deriso at Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “Think hard enough, rearrange your words enough, bolster your vocabulary enough, be willing to start from scratch enough, and you’ll eventually complete such an exacting writing task by feeling not that you’ve created something new, but that you’ve plucked an existing, exquisite star right out of the heavens. I love that feeling.”

Kid/YA Books About Forgiveness from Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “As the year comes to a close, I want to compile a list of novels published in 2009 for children and teenagers that illuminate the difficult task of restorative justice and forgiveness. Any suggestions?” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

The Writers’ League of Texas welcomes new staff members Jan Baumer, Bethany Hegedus, and Kate Meehan. Note: “Established in 1981, the Writers’ League of Texas is a nonprofit professional organization whose primary purpose is to provide a forum for information, support, and sharing among writers, to help members improve and market their writing skills, and to promote the interests of writers and the writing community. With approximately 1,500 members nationwide, we are composed of published and unpublished writers as well as those who recognize the written word as art and simply love to read.” Note: see cute pics of the WLT staff below!

Help YA Author Janni Lee Simner Name Her Characters from Janni at Desert Dispatches. You may win a signed book! Deadline: late January, but earlier entries may have the advantage. Read a Cynsations interview with Janni.

2009 Cybils Nominees: Fantasy/Science Fiction compiled by Sheila Ruth from Wands and Worlds. Note: a first-rate reading list for speculative fiction fans; I’m honored to see Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) in such amazing company.

“Get the Indians Out of the Cupboard” the first in a week-long series of posts about reflections of Native people in youth literature from Nancy Bo Flood and Debby Edwardson. Read a Cynsations interview with Nancy.

Children’s and YA Books With Contemporary Native Themes from Cynthia Leitich Smith Children’s Literature Resources. An annotated bibliography. Peek: “…we need to open our hearts to excellent stories that reflect contemporary Native American Indian experiences, and I hope to see more of them published in the years to come.”

An Interview with Alisa Libby by Pam B. Cole from ALAN Online. Peek: “Her first YA novel, The Blood Confession, is based on the life of Countess Bathory, a Hungarian countess who murdered young virgins and bathed in their blood, hoping their blood would preserve her youth. Her second YA novel, The King’s Rose, is a historical account of the life of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII.”

Marvelous Marketer: Author Alyson Noel: an interview by Shelli at Market My Words. Peek: “…with books getting such a short shelf life these days, the best way to ensure yours books maintain their space is to keep ‘em coming, to build up a nice backlist for your readers to explore and for bookstores to reorder with each new release.”

Vampires and Centaurs and Werewolves, Oh My!: An Interview with Francesca Lia Block by Jennifer Hubert Swan from VOYA (PDF). Peek: “I know for myself art has literally saved my life and I see it healing the lives of many of my readers and students. Love, art, and creative expression animate us and make us truly alive.”

Books for Military Children & Teens
: “I am a children’s librarian. I created the basis for this site in 2003 as a project for the children’s literature class, LIS 303, taught by Betsy Hearne.”

Book Giveaway and Guest Teaching Author Interview with Carolyn Marsden by JoAnn Early Macken from Teaching Authors: Six Children’s Authors Who Also Teach Writing. Peek: “The most common problem is being too abstract or general in the writing. I address this by pressing for details. For example, if the student is writing about a flower, I ask what kind of flower? If it’s a daisy, I ask what color? If it’s a white daisy, I keep inquiring…” Giveaway deadline: 11 p.m. Nov. 14.

Congratulations to new Brown Bookshelf board members Olugbemiosola Rhuday-Perkovich, author of middle grade debut, Eighth-grade Superzero (Arthur A. Levine, 2010), and Tameka F. Brown, author of Around Our Way (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2010)!

The Book of the Maidservant by Rebecca Barnhouse (Random House, 2009): a recommendation from Greg Leitich Smith. Peek: “…apparently based on the 15th century Book of Margery Kempe, the first autobiography in the English language.” See also Greg’s recommendation of I Want to Live: The Diary of a Girl in Stalin’s Russia by Nina Lugovskaya (Houghton Mifflin, 2007).

Interview with YA author Jo Knowles from Debbi Michiko Florence. Peek: “Everyone has a story and it’s so rarely the one we assume before we get to know them. I think this is why I love books so much. They make us realize that people are rarely who they seem at first glance. None of us can be put into simple categories.” Read Cynsations interviews with Jo and Debbie.

Spellbinders: “Three Young Adult Authors Publish a Monthly Newsletter for Teachers and Librarians to help create lifelong readers. Interviews, curriculum ideas, new book buzz, literacy in the community, and lots more!” November issue includes Kimberley Griffiths Little’s peek at books that have attracted Printz Award Buzz. Note: subscribe to the Spellbinders mailing list.

Guest Post by Literary Agent Wendy Schmalz from Children’s Author David L. Harrison. Peek: “For my entire career in publishing people have been predicting the death of books. First it was CD ROMS (Boy was everyone wrong about that one!). Now people predict e-books as the beginning of the end. I think it’s the beginning of an expansion of reading, especially for older middle grade and YA novels.” Note: Learn more about Wendy from Publishers Marketplace.

Cover Stories: Vamped by Lucienne Diver from Melissa Walker at readergirlz. Peek: “I don’t know if the girl on the Vamped cover was hired specifically for this photo shoot or whether the art department used a photo from their arsenal which they modified; hard to come by natural fangs, at least in a model that actually shows up on camera!” Read a Cynsations interview with Lucienne.

Fragmented? Or Focused? by Kristi Holl at Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “I need to accept the fact that (except for the lessons and critique), none of the other things will get finished today. I need to make my to-do list reflect this, and yet move each project closer to completion.”

When Is a Good Time to Submit? by Kim Norman at Stone Soup. Peek: “Well, here’s good news – about December and summer, anyway. Some big sales have happened during those months, so don’t be daunted by nay sayers.” Read a Cynsations interview with Kim.

Austin Scene

Local childrens-YA literature lovers gathered at Mangia Pizza on Lake Austin Boulevard last week to celebrate authors Ellen Howard, a fellow faculty member of Vermont College of Fine Arts, and Austin’s latest YA author, Bethany Hegedus, who recently moved to town from New York.

Ellen makes her home in Salem, Oregon, and her latest book, The Crimson Cap (Holiday House, 2009), is a historical novel set in Texas.

Jan Baumer is the new publicity & programming manager at the Writers’ League of Texas, and Bethany is the new office manager.

Cyndi Hughes is the executive director of the League.

Bethany with author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell and author Lindsey Lane.

Authors Jessica Lee Anderson, Debbie Gonzales, and Greg Leitich Smith.

Author-illustrator Emma J. Virjan with Greg and the BookPeople BookKids’ super staffers Mandy Brooks (kids events), Meghan Dietsche Goel (kids buyer), and Topher Bradfield (YA events).

Illustrators Mary Sullivan and Eric Kuntz.

Jill Sayre is a VCFA graduate who studied with Ellen.

VCFA student Meredith Davis with writer Erin Edwards and Jessica.

More Personally

Why Cynthia Leitich Smith Is So Awesome…: a post- Spooky Cynsational October Giveaway follow-up report by winner Courtney Lewis, Director of Libraries at Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School in northeastern Pennsylvania from The Sassy Librarian. Peek: “The coolest cover award goes to How to Be a Vampire: A Fangs-On Guide for the Newly Undead by Amy Gray (Candlewick, 2009)–what must the publisher have gone through to make one so cool?” Notes: (1) after a day of vexing revision, it was lovely to be greeted by that post headline; (2) see two Courtney’s LAB members posing with their prize; (3) Courtney also includes some lovely thoughts about Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008); (4) it’s so happy-making to see great books find a loving home!

Cynthia Leitich Smith on living in a multicultural world from Tu Publishing. Note: I talk about influences, my journalism background, favorite foods and new authors, world-building, writing cross-culturally and more. Peek: “To the extent possible, step into your fictional world. Walk the streets (or their models) that your characters walk, find wardrobes for them, sketch or identify a physical model for each.”

Thanks to Liz B at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy for featuring the Native American Youth Literature Widget on her blog this month! The support is appreciated.

Cynsational Events

Texas Book Festival 2009 Recap from YA author Jennifer Ziegler. Terrific pics, including a peek at one of Austin’s smokin’ hot children’s-YA writer critique groups. Peek: “It was another beautiful fall day–the gentle breezes flowed, the trees rained down leaves, and book lovers of all ages came out in droves.”

Destination Publication: An Awesome Austin Conference for Writers and Illustrators is scheduled for Jan. 30 and sponsored by Austin SCBWI. Keynote speakers are Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson and Caldecott Honor author-illustrator Marla Frazee, who will also offer an illustrator breakout and portfolio reviews. Presentations and critiques will be offered by editor Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, author-editor Lisa Graff of FSG, agent Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Literary, agent Mark McVeigh of The McVeigh Agency, and agent Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Advanced critique break-out sessions will be led by editor Stacy Cantor of Bloomsbury. In addition, Cheryl and author Sara Lewis Holmes will speak on the editor-and-author relationship, and Marla and author Liz Garton Scanlon will speak on the illustrator-and-author relationship. Note: Sara and Liz also will be offering manuscript critiques. Illustrator Patrice Barton will offer portfolio reviews. Additional authors on the speaker-and-critique faculty include Jessica Lee Anderson, Chris Barton, Shana Burg, P.J. Hoover, Jacqueline Kelly, Philip Yates, Jennifer Ziegler. See registration form, information packet, and conference schedule (all PDF files)!

2010 Houston-SCBWI Conference is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2010, at the Merrell Center in Katy. Registration is now open. The faculty includes author Cynthia Leitich Smith, assistant editor Ruta Rimas of Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, creative director Patrick Collins of Henry Holt, senior editor Alexandra Cooper of Simon & Schuster, senior editor Lisa Ann Sandell of Scholastic, and agent Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.