Cynsational News & Giveaways

National Book Awards Report by finalist Laini Taylor from Grow Wings. Peek: “It’s nice, in the Young Person’s category of the NBAs, there are extra events so we get to know each other a little. I don’t think the ‘grownup’ finalists do this–and that kind of exemplifies what it’s like writing for young readers. There really is a community–a community of the kinds of people I want to be friends with. It rocks.” See also a recent report on the event by [Laini’s fellow finalist] Rita Williams-Garcia from Cynsations.

Agenting Picture Books v. Agenting Novels: Part One of Two by Michael Stearns from Upstart Crow Literary. Peek: “I look for writers who put their strongest stuff forward first. If she feels her picture books are her strongest material, then she should start there. If she feels she is primarily a novelist, then she should start with a novel.” Source: Lynne Kelly. Note: see an opportunity to bid on a critique by Michael at the Bridget Zinn auction, listed below!

What Can I Expect of My Agent? by Moonrat from Editorial Ass. Peek: “You are an author whose property is making your agent money (however much or little it may be). That means that if you ask for a financial record of your account–how much your royalties have earned out, what fees have been deducted from your earnings–your agent should furnish said account with little to no dilly-dallying.” See also What Do You Expect? by KT Literary.

Q&A Literary Agent Ginger Clark by Maria Schneider from Editor Unleashed. Peek: “On the children’s side of my list, I represent middle grade and YA fiction, all kinds.”

The 5-Question [Literary] Agent Interview: Nathan Bransford from The Writer’s [Inner] Journey. Peek: “…particularly when the traditional selling tools at publishers’ disposal (such as front bookstore placement, reviews, marketing, etc.) are waning in effectiveness, there’s even more of a premium for the authors who are able to deliver an audience.”

Why do authors charge fees to visit schools? by children’s author Kim Norman. Peek: “Except for the rare bestseller or ‘living legend,’ children’s book writing is not known to be a lucrative profession…. Speaking fees help keep us solvent so we can do the thing we truly love: writing books for children.” Note: authors may want to feature this link on the speaker-information pages of their websites. Read a Cynsations interview with Kim.

Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Library or Librarian by Liz B from A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy.

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #144: Featuring Neil Numberman and Aaron Reynolds from Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “Numberman uses blues, sepia tones, and some yellow to illustrate this noir-tale spoof of a fly detective, living in a city of insects, and his new assistant, a rather clumsy scorpion named Sammy Stingtail. A beautiful butterfly, named Delilah, hires them to solve a crime involving a magic pencil box, friendship, and a little bit of jealousy.” Read a recent Cynsations interview with Aaron and Neil.

Reminder: Bridget Zinn Kicks Cancer Auction! Bid to Win Art, Signed Books, Editor/Agent/Author Critiques & More! Peek: “Bridget is a 32-year-old YA author and librarian who is currently being treated for stage 4 colon cancer – and her ‘healthy young person between jobs’ health insurance does not cover many of her expenses. Read Bridget’s blog for more information.” See more information. Auction I.D.: bridget Password: rules Auction closes Dec. 11. Hot new items include One Critique of a Query Plus the first Ten Pages of Your Middle-Grade or Young Adult Novel by Michael Stearns, Upstart Crow Literary, LLC.!

A Visit to DayGlo Color Corporation with Chris Barton, author of The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors, illustrated by Tony Persiani (Charlesbridge, 2009). Peek: “…as much fun as it had been getting to know the Switzer brothers on paper, through their original notes on their early experiments, there’s a lot to be said for getting a firsthand look at what continues to this day to result from that experimentation.” Read a related Cynsations interview with Chris.

Free Agents: Libraries have a place in a gift economy by Christopher Harris from School Library Journal. Peek: “Though we should not mistake libraries themselves as being free—the cost of which is deferred as taxes—we can still create our own gift economies. Some school libraries in my system, for example, hold book swaps at year’s end, where students bring in books to exchange with each other for new summer reading material.”

E-Books Made E-asy by H.L. Dyer, M.D. from Peek: “Don’t get me wrong, I love a flesh-and-blood book as much as the next bibliophile. But this is pretty durned [sic] cool, too.”

Writers and Rejection: Don’t Give Up! by Debbie Ridpath Ohi from Daily Diversions for Writers. Peek: “Ellen Jackson‘s Cinder Edna [illustrated by Kevin O’Malley] (HarperCollins, 1998) was rejected more than 40 times before it was accepted for publication. Since then, it has won many awards and sold more than 150,000 hardcover copies.” Source: Jill Cocoran.

Marvelous Marketer: Author Maggie Stiefvater by Shelli at Market My Words. Peek: “I have a handful of blogs in my blog reader that I read all the time. They’re all either: a) intensely informative on the industry, b) extremely hilarious, c) extremely snarky about the industry, d) involve strange photographs of animals doing strange things to tourists, or e) all of these things.”

The 6th Annual Novel Writing Retreat at Vermont College of the Fine Arts in Montpelier will be March 19-2. Faculty include author Uma Krishnaswami, author E. Lockhart, and Nancy Mercado, editor at Roaring Brook Press. For more information, email Sarah Aronson at Source: Through the Tollbooth. Read Cynsations interviews with Uma, E., Nancy, and Sarah.

Interview with Steven L. Layne by Diane Chen from School Library Journal. Peek: “I’m going to lead kids in studying an author–I’m going for whole thing. I’m going to pick someone with a wide range of books to explore. There’s nothing wrong with selecting an author who write basically the same genre, same age group all the time, but I find Candace Fleming’s (for example) range to be inspiring and I’d want kids to see that.”

Building Your Author Platform Even If You’re Not Published Yet (part one and two) by Justine Lee Musk from Tribal Writer. Peek: “It’s not about push: pushing your book in front of as many readers as possible. It’s about pull: pulling the right readers to you.” Source: Elizabeth Scott.

31 Blogs You May Not Know: recommendations from children’s author Susan Taylor Brown. Note: I especially second her recommendations of Devas Rants and Raves from author-illustrator Don Tate, Simple Saturday from author-educator Debbie Gonzales, jamma rattigan’s alphabet soup from author Jamma Rattigan, Anneographies from author-educator Anne Bustard, Gotta Book from author-librarian-screenwriter Greg Pincus and more.

Won’t Someone Please Think of the Children? by Carrie Ryan at Carrie’s Procrastinatory Outlet. Peek: “…not talking about the difficult issues in this world doesn’t make them not exist. Not letting teens read about them doesn’t mean teens are somehow not going to face them.” Note: authors may want to feature this link on certain book-information pages of their websites.

How To Interview an Agent by Cynthea Liu from Writing for Children and Teens. Peek: “An agent has let you know they would like to speak with you further about your work. You talk to them, answer his questions, and he offers representation.” See also Going On An Agent Hunt by Tami Lewis Brown from Through the Tollbooth and Literary Agent Offers: Don’t Settle! by Sarah Ockler at Sarah Ockler: Making Stuff Up. Writing It Down. Source: Alison Dellenbaugh.

IndeDebut2010: “Inde-Debut 2010 books are being published by a spectrum of Small Presses across America and range from Picture Books to Middle Grade to Young Adult. Inde-Debut 2010 is proud to support these small presses that are championing new voices, focusing on niche markets, creating whole businesses by reissuing out-of-print classics, and maintaining the tradition of printing literary fiction.”

Soup’s On: Ellen Potter in the Kitchen Interview! by Jama Rattigan from jama rattigan’s alphabet soup: a children’s writer offers food for thought & fine whining. Peek: “…I would love my readers to entertain the possibility of Audrey’s unusual situation. One of my favorite lines from Shakespeare is ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ I say it to my son all the time and it really annoys him.”

Be Bold by Brian Yansky from Brian’s Blog. Peek: “Everything that goes into a first draft will have to be scrutinized in later drafts, but I think it’s better to push on many times and just be aware that you worried about the scene a little in the first draft. It’s better to make those bold choices and see where they take you.”

Erin Murphy Literary Agency: “…a leading U.S. children’s book agency headquartered in Flagstaff, Arizona. We focus on connections—between writer and editor, story and reader—as well as on helping our clients build their careers and grow as artists.”

Envisioning the Coming Year by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “Today…we’re going to talk about a different kind of activity—a highly inward-facing one: collages and vision boards. Now before you roll your eyes and think you left all that back in grade school, let me gently point out that collages and vision boards are a highly effective tool in helping focus your creative energies—either in a personal direction or in a project-related one.”

Reminder: bid to win manuscript critiques with authors, editors, and agents as well as limited edition, signed letterpress broadsides from the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ Hunger Mountain Holiday Fundraising Auction. The auction features a 250-page manuscript critique with editor Stephen Roxburgh (interview); a 250-page manuscript critique with author Tim Wynne-Jones (interview); and the chance to name a character in Nancy Werlin’s next novel. Items also include partial critiques by author Susan Fletcher and Micol Ostow (interview) as well as full-manuscript middle grade or young adult novel critiques by authors Carrie Jones (interview) and An Na (interview). In addition, a 50-page critique or full picture-book critique is offered by agent-author Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary (interview). All purchases are charitable in support of Hunger Mountain’s non-profit mission to cultivate engagement with and conversation about the arts by publishing high-quality, innovative literary and visual art by both established and emerging artists, and by offering opportunities for interactivity and discourse. Visit The Hunger Mountain Store. Bidding ends at noon EST Dec. 12.

Screening Room

The Multicultural Minute: Holidays from Around the World by Renee Ting at Shen’s Books.

More Personally

Kyra Interviews Cynthia Leitich Smith by Kyra from Throwing Up Words: Sometimes It’s Your Only Option. Peek: “Once you have a whole draft, all of the answers to the novel are already hinted at in your manuscript. Your subconscious is always a step ahead of your conscious mind, so it’s important to learn how to read your own writing carefully. Over the years, I’ve heard any number of folks say this in different ways, most recently author Tim Wynne-Jones.” Note: Throwing Up Words is a new team blog from Kyra and authors Ann Dee Ellis and Carol Lynch Williams. Please surf by and welcome them to the kidlitosphere!

What are your favorite authors giving this holiday season? by Cynthia Leitich Smith from Emily at The BookKids Blog from the Crazy Folks at BookPeople. Peek: “Of course, Cyn sent me a very comprehensive list of great gifts for all your holiday shopping needs…” Note: check out my shopping suggestions! Recommended authors/illustrators include: Ellen Jensen Abbott (interview); Marla Frazee; Robin Friedman; Michael Hemphill (interview); David Lubar (interview); John Abbott Nez (interview); Neil Numberman (interview); Aaron Reynolds (interview); Sam Riddleburger (interview); Liz Garton Scanlon; Anita Silvey (interview); and Carol Lynch Williams (interview).

Favorite Middle Grade, Tween & YA Books of 2009: a list from Greg Leitich Smith. Recommended authors include: Eduardo F. Calcines (interview); David Macinnis Gill (interview); Michael Hemphill and Sam Riddleburger (see above); Eric Luper; Jenny Moss (interview); Micol and David Ostow (interview); Carol Lynch Williams (see above); Suzanne Morgan Williams (interview); and Rita Williams-Garcia (interview).

When Twilight author Stephenie Meyer visited my class; Why Edward Cullen & other vampires attract readers; What the next big thing is in adolescent lit by James Blasingame at The Answer Sheet: A School Survival Guide for Parents (and Everyone Else) from The Washington Post. Regarding Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), he writes: “My favorite read of the past year has been Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Eternal, which revolves around 18-year-old Miranda, and her guardian angel, Zachary. …Cynthia has paid homage not only to various vampire classics, from Bram Stoker to ‘Nosferatu,’ but also to Chicago lore (Dracula is a Cubs fan, and Zachary comments in ‘Blues Brothers’ fashion that he is ‘on a mission from God’).” Note: James is an associate professor of English Education at Arizona State University, and the 2010 president of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English.

December Giveaway Reminder

Enter to win one of three signed copies of Watersmeet by Ellen Jensen Abbott (Marshall Cavendish, 2009), one of three copies of The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein by Libby Schmais (Delacorte, 2009), and/or one of three signed copies of Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith (Little, Brown, 2005)!

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Watersmeet” and/or “The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein” and/or “Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo” 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 write you for contact information, if you win). Note: one copy of each book will be reserved for a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature; those eligible in these categories should indicate their affiliations in the body of their entry messages. The other two will go to any Cynsations readers!

Deadline: midnight CST Dec. 31.