Cynsational News & Giveaways

Author Round-up: Writing Around The Holidays by Tina Ferraro from YA Fresh. Peek from Sydney Salter: “I exchange knowing glances with the other café regulars and I buckle down and write as fast as I can for an hour or two while sipping a peppermint mocha.”

Native American Spirituality in Children’s Books by Debby Dahl Edwardson from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “The question you, as a non-Native writer, should ask yourself is this: why don’t Native writers put overt references to Native religion, spirituality and worship in their books? Take a minute to think about it. This is important.” Read a Cynsations interview with Debby.

Craft Issue #9: Desire
by Janet S. Fox from Through the Wardrobe. Peek: “Drag the word out, now, breathy and low: d-e-s-i-r-e. There you go.” Read a Cynsations interview with Janet.

Preparing for The Call by Tabitha Olson at Writer Musings. Peek: “The Call, with an offer of representation. Sometimes agents will send an email ahead of time, asking to schedule a phone call, and others will just call out of the blue. I experienced both, and my planning-oriented brain much preferred the scheduled phone call. Because you just can’t get your brain oriented properly for a spontaneous phone call.”

When Characters Take Over by Brian Yansky from Brian’s Blog. Peek: “Maybe it is just finding the place, the altered state, which allows you to access that part of the brain that makes intuitive leaps. Or maybe you’re connecting to a higher power, any higher power.” Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

ReadMe: The Dog Who Loved Tortillas: an interview with Benjamin Alire Sáenz from Spanglish Baby. Peek: “I’m especially concerned that we’re losing boys. Reading has become a girl thing. That’s a silly concept. We need to do a better job. We need a new motto: Real men read books.”

Marvelous Marketer: Kaylan Adair (Assoc. Editor at Candlewick Press) from Shelli at Market My Words. Peek: “If an author has an online presence that I feel is lacking (maybe they have a blog they only update every few months) or inappropriate (perhaps the content of their website or blog isn’t appropriate for their book audience), I’ll discuss ways in which they can more effectively or appropriately manage their online presence.”

An Interview with Elizabeth O. Dulemba by Greg Pincus at The Happy Accident. Peek: “When I discovered iPhone Picture Book Apps, I thought it was a fantastic new way to share stories and could be a nice complement to physical books.” Read a Cynsations guest post on marketing by Elizabeth.

Keeping Your Audience in Mind, Just Like Darwin Did by Deborah Heiligman from I.N.K. Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: “He worked very hard to make his argument airtight. And he wrote it in a tone that would not offend.”

Top 10 Religion Books for Youth: 2009 by Illene Cooper from Booklist Online. Read a Cynsations interview with Micol and David Ostow on So Punk Rock (And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother)(Flux, 2009).

How to Make a Storyboard: An Illustrated Tutorial from “Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books” by Uri Shulevitz from Mighty Art Demos and Tutorials. Peek: “The storyboard gives you a bird’s eye view of the whole book: it shows all the pages of the book, greatly reduced, on a single sheet of paper.”

Border Crossing by Jessica Lee Anderson (Milkweed, 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith. Peek: “…a fascinating and disturbing novel of Manz’s descent into hallucinatory paranoia and suspicion….” See also: Border Crossing by Jessica Lee Anderson: a recommendation by Jeff Rivera at GalleyCat. Peek: “Will Manz be able to tell what is real and what is imagined before the summer is over, or will it be too late?” Read a Cynsations interview with Jessica and P.J. Hoover.

WBBT: Writing with Jacqueline Kelly by Vivian from HipWriterMama. Peek: “Callie is a combination of me and my mother. We both hate to cook, sew, and do any kind of housework. It must be genetic. I also need to add that my mother is very funny, and not at all like the mother in the novel.” Read a Cynsations interview with Jacqueline.

The Winter Blog Blast Tour continues today, with several outstanding interviews. The whole series is highly recommended! Just to highlight a few faves to date, don’t miss Mary E. Pearson, Laurie Faria Stolarz, and Laini Taylor.

Because my kid needs my shoulders, or why I don’t quit writing by Pam Bachorz. Peek: “This book made me a real-life superhero in my son’s eyes. A superhero whose cape he can borrow.” Read a Cynsations interview with Pam. Note: one of best links of the week, hanky alert!

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!: How to Heighten Suspense from Gail Carson Levine. Peek: “Separation from the problem. Suppose your main character, Lucy, has an enemy, and suppose Lucy has to go on a class wilderness week. What is the enemy doing while she’s away? What’s going to greet her on her return?” Source: Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Read a Cynsations interview with Gail.

Eight Hanukkah Books: One for Each Day
by Bianca Schulze from The Children’s Book Review. Note: picture book recommendations.

The Irrepressible Writer
from Carol Grannick. Peek: “We all have to face negativity in our lives, but I love helping other writers use the time they have in the most productive ways they’re able, without feeling dragged down because of unnecessary and irrational negativity.”

Congratulations to the Parent’s Choice Award Winners! Special cheers to fellow Austinite Liz Garton Scanlon, author of All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane, 2009) and fellow VCFA faculty member Tim Wynne-Jones, author of The Uninvited (Candlewick, 2009)!

Interview with P.J. Hoover by Gretchen McNeil at The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: “For The Forgotten Worlds trilogy, I took a spark from one of my favorite ‘Star Trek’ episodes, ‘Who Mourns For Adonis.’ This was the episode where the Enterprise found Apollo on a planet, and he tried to make them worship him.” Read a Cynsations interview with P.J. and Jessica Lee Anderson.

Booklover of the Week presents…Cathy Berner & Becky Lee from Kay Cassidy. Peek: “This week, I’m delighted to welcome not one but two great indie booksellers from Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas!”

Young Adult Science Fiction: A Reading Guide: a bibliography from Megan Crewe at See also Megan’s YA fantasy guide.

The Big Read: an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts to restore reading to the center of American culture by providing citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. The initiative includes innovative reading programs in selected cities and towns, comprehensive resources for discussing classic literature, and an extensive website providing comprehensive information on authors and their works. Maximum award: varies. Eligibility: literary organizations, libraries, and community organizations across the country. Deadline: Feb. 2, 2010. Source: PEN Weekly NewsBlast.

Writing Cliches by Carrie Jones from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “It happens to all of us. It stalks us until our brains and fingers are weak and then it sneaks its way onto our pages, taunting us, daring us to notice, and so often we, poor overworked writers that we are? We are oblivious.” Note: the first post in a week-long series. Read a Cynsations interview with Carrie.

Interview with Suzanna Hermans of Oblong Books & Music from Juliette Dominguez at The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: “When I was first starting out, I was terrified when people would ask me for recommendations – it puts you on the spot and what if you can’t think of anything to recommend? Once I learned to have confidence in myself and my opinions, I became much more comfortable with it. Now I love giving recommendations.”

Congratulations to Phillip Hoose on Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Melanie Kroupa Books, 2009). See video below. Source: Cynthia Lord.

Take a sneak peek at the Class of 2k10. Source: Denise Jaden.

Prairie Writer’s Day

Thank you to author Sara F. Shacter and everyone at SCBWI-Illinois for your hospitality at the Fifth Annual Prairie Writer’s Day: “Brick by Brick: The Architecture of Our Stories”!

Fellow faculty included agent Michael Stearns of Upstart Crow Literary Agency and editors Stacy Cantor of Walker, Nick Eliopulos of Random House, Alisha Niehaus of Dial, and Yolanda LeRoy of Charlesbridge. Read a Cynsations interview with Yolanda.

Here’s Stacy again! Take note, Austinites! Stacy will be joining us for the upcoming Austin SCBWI conference in January. Register now before it sells out!

Author Kimberly Pauley author of Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe)(Mirrorstone, 2008). Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberly.

Author Cynthea Liu. Read a Cynsations interview with Cynthea. Check out her website–Writing for Children and Teens!

Huge thanks to author Sara F. Shacter, who is a fabulous public speaker! Learn about Sara’s book, Heading to the Wedding (Red Rock, 2006)!

Author, speaker, and writing coach Esther Hershenhorn. Read a Cynsations interview with Esther.

Over Chicago deep dish pizza at Uno’s Chicago Grill, Greg chats with Michael and Alisha. Don’t miss Greg’s report on the conference.

More Personally

Howdy to Ms. Deignan’s Dover Street School second graders and Ms. Craft’s eighth graders! Thank you for your questions about Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), respectively! It was lovely corresponding with you!

Four Vampire Books Read This Weekend: Vamped by Lucienne Diver, How to Be a Vampire by Amy Gray, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey, and Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith: a recommendation/review wrap-up from The Sassy Librarian. Peek: “I was impressed by how different this book was to Tantalize – sometimes you like an author but their narrative voice is very similar between books (and that’s okay) but Smith has the ability to really embody her characters and I’m appreciative.”

Thanks to Jo Ann Hernandez at BronzeWord Latino Authors for featuring the Native American Youth Literature Widget on her blog this month! The support is appreciated.

Even More Personally

Congratulations to my alma mater, The University of Michigan Law School! According to Law Quadrangle, The William W. Cook Legal Research Library “was selected as one of the top 100 buildings, bridges, monuments, and memorials in a recent American Institute of Architects’ public poll–ahead of Radio City Music Hall, Penn Station, and Fenway Park.” Pictured above is the Reading Room.

Cynsational Giveaways

In celebration of the Winter Blog Blast Tour, I’m offering a signed copy of any of my books (winner’s choice) to one of the folks who thoughtfully comments at my WBBT interview and then emails me to let me know (so I have your contact information). Deadline: midnight CST Nov. 22. See: WBBT: Writing the True with Cynthia Leitich Smith: an interview by Vivian Lee Mahoney at HipWriterMama. Note: Check out my deep thoughts on my publishing background, writing across formats, Native youth literature, writing cross-culturally, girl power & Gothics, true love, and a myriad of other topics. Thanks to readergirlz for the shout out!

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.

The winner of The Twelve Days of Christmas in Texas by Janie Bynum (Sterling, 2009) giveaway was Jane from Oregon. Congratulations, Jane!

Cynsations Correction

Blessing’s Bead: An Interview with Debby Edwardson by Carol Brendler at Jacket Knack.

Note: this link was incorrectly attributed on Nov. 16 to Carol’s fellow blog team member Julie Larios. It has been corrected at all three Cynsations URLs. My apologies for the error.

Carol is the author of Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer, illustrated by Ard Hoyt (FSG, 2009). From the promotional copy:

Winnie Finn is crazy about earthworms and knows everything about them. When spring arrives in Quincy County, all she can think about is the county fair coming up. This year, she would like nothing more than to win a prize for her worms so that she might buy a shiny new wagon for transporting them around. Trouble is, there’s no prize at the fair for worms…

Bright, energetic illustrations accompany this jaunty tale about a young girl’s creativity that will inspire readers of all interests— but especially those with a love for something wiggly.

School Library Journal
said: “Winnie’s spunky, good-natured heart anchors a gentle and entertaining read.”

Kirkus Reviews
said: “Hoyt’s sprightly cartoons add just the right amount of humorous action to Winnie’s worm-farming tasks, while Winnie’s winning personality allows readers to learn a bit about the positive aspects of worm composting. An author’s note includes directions for creating a worm farm and sources.”

Learn more about Carol Brendler.

Cynsational Events

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.