Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win a copy of The 2010 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, edited by Alice Pope (Writer’s Digest, 2008)(22nd Annual Edition)!

From the promotional copy:

The 2010 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrators Market is the most trusted source for children’s publishing information, offering more than 700 listings for book publishers, agents, magazines, and art representatives.

It also contains exclusive interviews with and articles by well-respected and award-winning authors, illustrators and publishing professionals as well as nuts-and-bolts how-to information. Includes exclusive access to online listings on

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “CWIM” 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).


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.

More News & Giveaways

Interview with Malinda Lo by Liz Burns from YALSA. Peek: “The first draft of Ash was actually straight—Ash fell in love with the prince. I gave that draft to a friend to read, and she told me that she felt that Ash didn’t have much chemistry with the prince. She did, however, seem to really like this other woman in the book!” Read a Cynsations interview with Malinda.

Writing Advice with Health Implications by J.L. Bell from Oz and Ends. Peek: “Specific terms and varied phrasing aren’t just the hallmarks of lively writing. They’re also markers of a healthy mind.”

Worrying Out of Order by Will Hindmarch from Ecstatic Days. Peek: “I’ve been hopping from story to story, from novel to novella, chasing whatever piece of intelligence I’ve gleaned that day that might lead to a successful sale, to another reader, to another buck. I’ve forgotten, sometimes, that it isn’t all about me. It’s about the story. It’s about delivering for the reader.” Source: Elizabeth Scott.

Submissions Guidelines from Tu Publishing: Multicultural Fantasy and Science Fiction for Children and Young Adults. Peek: “Tu Publishing is pleased to announce that we will be officially open for submissions from writers on Jan. 1, 2010. We are a small press focusing on multicultural fantasy and science fiction for children and young adults. We are specifically looking for novels for readers ages 8 to 18.” See also Transracial Writing for the Sincere by Nisi Shawl from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Ten Wills and Won’ts that Make Lee & Low a Special Place to Publish from The Open Book: the Lee & Low Books Blog. Peek: “We will work extremely hard to make sure every book we publish is culturally authentic in both text and illustrations. That’s what we do best.”

Thoughts at the End of the Semester on Teaching Writing from Liz Garton Scanlon. Peek: “Workshops are richest when there are many voices. I’ve resisted ‘required commenting’ for a long time, but I think I’m going to experiment with a new format next semester to get every single student to speak up more regularly.”

Holiday Gift-Giving Ideas by YA Authors Melissa Walker, Lauren Myracle, and Jessica Lee Anderson from Emily at BookKids! from the Crazy Folks at BookPeople. Highlights for tweens include Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez (Little, Brown, 2009), suggested by Jessica. See more Holiday Gift-Giving Ideas from authors Kristin Clark Venuti, Greg Leitich Smith, and Lauren Baratz-Logsted, also from BookKids.

Skype An Author Network: “[t]he mission…is to provide K-12 teachers and librarians with a way to connect authors, books, and young readers through virtual visits.” Sponsored by author Mona Kerby and library media specialist Sarah Chauncey.

SCBWI Team Blog Pre-Conference Interview: Literary Agent Tina Wexler by Alice Pope from Alice’s CWIM Blog. Peek: “I represent mostly YA and MG (and adult non-fiction too). Within those categories, I’m interested in most everything: magical realism/paranormal, mysteries, adventure, suspense, contemporary, and some non-fiction for teens. I tend to shy away from high fantasy and poetry collections, but I love novels in verse.”

10 Tips on Writing Picture Books by Jean Reidy from Guide to Literary Agents: Editor’s Blog. Peek: “….thoughts on the Top 10 Picture Book Takeaways from the Rocky Mountain SCBWI Conference. The panel she’s writing about was led by kids’ book editor Allyn Johnston [of Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster) and kids’ book illustrator Marla Frazee.” Source: Cheryl Rainfield.

Novel Ideas: Weaving Structure and Theme by Zu Vincent from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Here’s how Jeanne Dutton, author of Freaked (HarperTeen, 2009); Sydney Salter author of Jungle Crossing, (Harcourt, 2009); and Lauren Bjorkman, author of My Invented Life (Henry Holt, 2009), approached the structural challenges of writing their novels, and how these challenges have informed their next books.” See also Writing Timeless Yet Topical Fiction with Suzanne Morgan Williams.

The Pricker Boy by Reade Scott Whinnem (Random House, 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: “…an intensely compelling and creepy novel….”

Favorites of 2009 by Sylvia Vardell from Poetry for Children. Peek: “Today, I’ll offer my list of 18 of my favorite poetry books for young people this year–the most unique, most distinctive, most appealing books of poetry, in my opinion.” Read a Cynsations interview with Sylvia.

Children’s books 2009: It’s all good! says Jon Scieszka: A report from the National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature. from the Los Angeles Times. Peek: “My platform has been to reach reluctant readers. And one of the best ways I found to motivate them is to connect them with reading that interests them, to expand the definition of reading to include humor, science fiction/fantasy, nonfiction, graphic novels, wordless books, audio books and comic books.” See also National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Must Go! also by Jon from the Huffington Post.

The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O’Connor (FSG, 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith from GregLSBlog. Peek: “And so they have the makings of an adventure. Well, a small adventure. One that won’t get them into trouble. Not much, anyway.” Read a Cynsations interview with Barbara.

Marvelous Marketer: Christy Webster (Random House Children’s Books) from Shelli at Market My Words. Peek: “If they did mention some credentials that would have a real impact on whether we’d take the book, then I’d definitely do some research to make sure it’s legit and find out more about what it is and how it could work for a book. But honestly, that’s a pretty rare thing. With the vast majority of kids’ books, we’re looking for a great story, not an area of expertise.”

Butterfly Heart Books: official website of children’s author Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford. Her books include My Nana’s Remedies/Los remedios de mi nana and Hip, Hip, Hooray, It’s Monsoon Day!/¡Ajúa, ya llegó el chubasco! (both published by The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum). Note: Roni writes with news that she is the author chosen for the 2009 Winner of the Judy Goddard/Libraries, Ltd. Award for an Arizona Children’s Author/Illustrator and that she anticipates adding a Spanish-language portion to her site after the first of the year.

Give Back to the Writers’ League of Texas: “We invite you to remember us this holiday season or as part of your tax planning for 2009. Your generosity can ensure that the WLT can continue to meet your needs as a writer and support you with a creative community of fellow writers, no matter where you are in your writing career or where you live in Texas.”

Quantity Improves Quality by Kristi Holl at Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “Two years ago at a workshop, award-winning writer Jane Yolen made a statement that stunned the group of fourteen published writers who attended.”

Character Invention by Brian Yansky from Brian’s Blog: Writer Talk. Peek: “I believe in creating a character in an organic way without any preconceived notions about what he/she might become as he/she evolves in a manuscript.” Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Author Interview – Courtney Sheinmel from Book Chic. Peek: “There was an address at the end of the article, for readers who wanted to send donations to the [Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS] Foundation, and I sent ten dollars from my babysitting money. And that became my monthly routine: sending ten dollar donations.”

An Interview with Laurent Linn: Art Director at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers by Lee Wind from I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? Peek: “It’s truly the artist’s overall style, really. The medium, the color palettes, composition, character and scene design…. All these elements, put together with the artist’s personal vision and talents, add up to one’s unique ‘voice’ or ‘style.'” Note: “the latest in our series of exclusive SCBWI Team Blog pre-conference interviews with SCBWI Winter Conference speakers and keynoters.” Source: Alice’s CWIM Blog.

All About Writing Contests from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “Know what you’re entering. Know what happens to your work in the event you win (or even/especially if you don’t win). Make sure you’re completely comfortable with it.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Discover the Life of the Children’s Book Agent with Jill Corcoran (Dec. 9 to Dec. 11): an interview/workshop moderated by Jan Fields from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “Editors email me at night, on weekends, on holidays. They work their buns off trying to find the best manuscripts and once they find the best, making them even better.”

“Kirkus Alive” by former owner of Kirkus Reviews, Barbara Bader, courtesy of Roger Sutton at Read Roger. Peek: “After more than seven decades, from the depths of the Great Depression to the day after the Great Recession, was the demise of Kirkus inevitable?”

Screening Room

The Multicultural Minute: Christmas Stories by Renee Ting at Shen’s Books.

Note: “Renee Ting is the President and Publisher of Shen’s Books. She is the author of The Prince’s Diary and the blog, Renee’s Book of the Day.” “Shen’s Books is a publisher of multicultural children’s literature that emphasizes cultural diversity and tolerance, with a focus on introducing children to the cultures of Asia.”

Awesome Austin Scene

Mark G. Mitchell, Don Tate, Brian Anderson, and Tim Crow.

Mark has a terrific blog, How to Be a Children’s Book Illustrator. Don recently signed with The McVeigh Agency. Brian is the author of the Zack Proton graphic-format chapter book series from Aladdin, and Tim is an educator and the outgoing Austin SCBWI regional advisor.

Mark, Don, and Varian Johnson.

Varian looks forward to the release of Saving Maddie (Delacorte, 2010).

Bethany Hegedus, Brian, and K.A. “Kari” Holt.

Bethany (Between Us Baxters (WestSide)) and Kari (Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel (Random House)) are both 2009 debut authors.

Liz Garton Scanlon, Donna Bowman Bratton, and Carmen Oliver.

Liz’s All the World (Beach Lane) is one of the most buzzed picture books of 2009. Donna and Carmen are published in children’s magazine writing and are leaders in Austin SCBWI.

Greg Leitich Smith, Jerri Romine, Liz, P.J. “Tricia” Hoover, Jennifer Ziegler, and Jessica Lee Anderson.

Jerri is an educator and a rising talent in Austin SCBWI. Tricia looks forward to the release of The Necropolis (Blooming Tree/CBAY, 2010), the third book in The Forgotten Worlds trilogy. Jennifer recently signed with Erin Murphy Literary Agency, which has a new website. Jessica formed The Texas Sweethearts with Tricia and Jo Whittemore. Jessica’s new release is Border Crossing (Milkweed, 2009).

Jerri and Tricia.

Bethany Hegedus and Chris Barton.

Chris’s debut picture book The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors (Charlesbridge) is one of the hottest titles of 2009.

Greg Leitich Smith, Lindsey Lane, and Meredith Davis.

For the holidays, Greg recommends books by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, Neal Shusterman, R.L. LaFevers, Joan Bauer, Reade Scott Whinnem, and David Macinnis Gill at BookKids! from the Crazy Folks at BookPeople.

Lindsey and Meredith are both students in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Don and Brian.

Tim and Betty X. Davis.

Betty is published in children’s magazines.

Julie Lake is the author of Galveston’s Summer of the Storm (TCU Press, 2003).

I hereby nominate Hemlock for Austin children’s-YA writer mascot!

More Personally

Eternal: a recommendation from By the Book Reviews. Peek: “This book was great! There was always something exciting going on, and it was very easy to stay sucked into this book!”

Andrew Smith interviews YA author Cynthia Leitich Smith from The Scribblers Chronicle. Note: I talk about common threads in mythologies, the dark fantasy/paranormal “trend,” where stories come from, and my current deadline. Peek: “…one of the best ways for people to process fear is from a safe distance and in the pages of a horror novel. As Annette Curtis Klause has said, it helps them to build ‘coping mechanisms.’ It’s what the heart hungers for, the heart of the artist and the heart of the audience.”

2009 Holiday Gift Guide from Reading in Color. Note: recommendations for those who appreciate a diversity of characters/culture in their YA book reading diets. Note: I’m honored to see Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) on the list!

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)! Note: only 35 spots are still available–Austin SCBWI conferences always sell out! Register today!

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.