Cynsational News & Giveaways

Cover Stories: Alibi Junior High by Greg Logstead from Melissa Walker at readergirlz. Peek: “My publisher asked for ideas, and unfortunately, all I could come up with was my very vague ‘it should be really cool’ suggestion. Which in retrospect isn’t much help at all.”

Enter to win copies of To Be A Slave by Julius Lester and Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin from Lee Verday at By Pen or By Sword…a blog about books, writing, and other things that matter. See more information.

Top 10 Black History Books for Youth: 2010 by Gillian Engberg from Booklist. Peek: “From 1775 Virginia to 1968 Chicago, the settings are as diverse as the subjects in these top black-history titles, all reviewed in Booklist over the past 12 months. Spotlight them in February, and share them throughout the year.” Source: Anastasia Suen.

Libby Schmais on Romance… à la Française from Blog. Peek: “Maybe writing about Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir seems an odd choice for a book about teens, but what I like about JP and Simone is that they are so not the poster couple for a healthy relationship, but at the same time they had a great romance.”

Blurring the Lines by Kathi Appelt from Hunger Mountain: the VCFA Journal of the Arts. Peek: “If you think that we can participate in this industry without becoming advocates for children, then that is a mistaken notion. It’s our job to write for all of our citizens, not just children, but especially for children.” Read a Cynsations interview with Kathi.

How to Buy Books by Sara Zarr. Peek: “You know what I love about shopping at my local independent book store? I go in there, and they know me.” Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

Rita Williams-Garcia on the difference between MGs and YAs, girlish hearts, and more by Stephanie Greene from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “I’m always working to show a reader what they haven’t considered, to force them to see it anew or at all. You say ‘Black Panthers,’ and there is an immediate image. You say ‘female genital mutilation,’ and there’s an immediate and visceral association and image. A little bit of knowledge mutes the possibility of discovery. But to eyes and ears in discovery mode, it’s all new.” Read an interview with Rita and her guest post about being a finalist for the National Book Award.

Inside or Outside? by Jo Whittemore from The Spectacle. Peek: “…is the main character someone who is already well-ensconced in the fantastical world around them or are they stepping into this for the first time?” Read a Cynsations interview with Jo.

28 Days Later: Dwayne Ferguson by The Brown Bookshelf from 28 Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature. Peek: “Any creative person will tell you, you don’t control the art, it comes from and flows through you.”

It’s a question as old as time itself: Which is better, the Zombie or the Unicorn? Go vote! Note: You’ll also learn more about Holly Black and Team Unicorn as well as Justine Larbalestier and Team Zombie. Read Cynsations interviews with Holly and Justine.

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr: Q&A from Karen’s Book Nook. Peek: “I don’t buy the notion that we have one single person in all the world that will complete us. I think there are many people who can fit into our lives in beautiful ways (and, of course, that we need to be whole and healthy before we find those perfect melds).”

Advance Story/Character by Brian Yansky from Brian’s Blog: Writer Talk. Peek: “I think one thing that even very good writers struggle with is structure. I know, for a long time, it was one of the things that kept me from being published.” Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Class of 2k10 “Feel the Love” Giveaway: features three signed books and a bunch of nifty swag, “all bundled up in a dreamy tote.” Deadline: midnight Feb. 14. See more information.

Yasmin Shiraz by The Brown Bookshelf from 28 Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature. Peek: “When I asked young women in the room, ‘What do you like, what do you love, what do you hate?’ a teen girl responded, ‘I hate the girls who jumped me.’ I couldn’t get her voice out of my head.”

Dear Lucky Agent Contest: Middle Grade and Young Adult Novels by Chuck from Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog. Judge: Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Deadline: Feb. 21. See more information.

Peni R. Griffin, author of 11,000 Year Lost: an interview from Moss Green Children’s Books. Peek: “I think megafauna are way cooler than dinosaurs, and the work being done today in the Americas is the most interesting archaeology you can do, turning up questions we didn’t even know how to ask. Once the Ice Age bug bites you, you stay bit.” Read a Cynsations interview with Peni.

Wild Geese Guides from Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. Peek: “This blog will feature interviews, discussion guides, book club activities and other reading related content for children’s literature.” Read a Cynsations interview with Tracie.

Texas Sweethearts Giveaway: enter to win your choice of a signed book by one of the sweethearts and a $20 online gift card to Powell’s bookstore. See more information.

Random House editor Nicholaus Eliopulos on Writing the YA Novel: a report on the SCBWI-Illinois Prairie Writer’s Day Conference by Tabitha Olson from Writer Musings. Peek: “The pacing must be quick and the stakes need to go up in order to keep that attention. Nothing holds a teen like a ticking clock: will the main character make it in time? What happens if he doesn’t?”

Never Right the First Time or How I Learned to Love Revision by Mary Ann Rodman from Teaching Authors: Six Children’s Authors Who Also Teach Writing. Peek: “Not until I was in the MFA program at Vermont College that I learned what true revision is. How to take apart a story and put it back together, using any number of techniques.”

Button Up by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Petra Mathers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) is the winner of the 2010 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award. See honor books and more information by Sylvia Vardell from Poetry for Children. Read a Cynsations interview with Sylvia.

My Best of the Best List by Dawn Metcalf from Officially Twisted. Note: her must-watch list of online children’s-YA book publishing/writing sites, blogs, networks, and folks.

The Call or What to Ask a Literary Agent When Offered Representation from Literary Rambles. Peek: “Do you have a plan for submission in mind already? Which houses/editors do think will be a good fit for this project?” Note: those doing agent-submissions research, should also see the sidebar of this blog.

Ask the editor: Tips for blending in the back-story from The Book Deal: An Inside View of Publishing. Peek: “Here are some of the options that make good storytelling so interesting but hard to achieve.”

Apple’s iPad is no book-killer: Author says technology is a threat to reading we can overcome by Katherine Paterson from The Daily News. Peek: “…we are not the first generation to fear change of this kind. Plato had Socrates argue in ‘The Dialogues’ that if people learned to read and write – if, in short, the populace became literate – poetry would disappear, for it was only in the oral tradition that poetry could be preserved properly.”

An Accurate Definition of “Push” by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “Does that mean we sit back and wait a few decades until young North Americans move beyond the primacy of racial self-identification? Not if we believe that good stories are for all readers.” Congratulations to Mitali on the inclusion of Secret Keeper (Delacorte, 2009) among the 2010 Notable Books For A Global Society.

Wedding and Funerals and Everywhere in Between by Diane Roback from Children’s Bookshelf – Publishers Weekly. Peek: “We asked editors about the strangest place they’ve been pitched a book, and have collected a number of their stories.”

Seven (Give or Take) Questions Over Breakfast with Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm by Jules from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek from Jenni: “Yes, finally, I have a new historical coming out in May 2010. (Sorry, I have been very slowed down by popping out kids.) It’s called Turtle in Paradise and is inspired by my Key West family. It involves diaper changing, scorpions, treasure and, well, just read it already!”

Four Tips on Promoting to Educators by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: “The ArLA is mostly public school librarians who are concerned about programming special events, balancing a collection and keeping funding when it relies on politics. The ARA has a large number of classroom teachers who are concerned about teaching reading to kids. The AAIM are librarians, who must follow the state standards for teaching library skills, as well as function as the technology expert for their school.” Read a Cynsations interview with Darcy.

Are We Ruled by Happy Endings? by Anna Staniszewski from Writing It Out. Peek: “While the original tale had ended tragically, the closer I got to the ending of my retelling, the more I couldn’t bear to make my characters suffer any longer. Had I gone soft? Was I caving to the pressure of happy endings? Or was the happy ending simply what the story needed?”

“It ain’t browsing unless there are shelves…” by Greg Leitich Smith from GregLSBlog. Peek: “Now, of course, I had favorite authors and would always check if there was something new by them. But it also allowed me to ‘discover” new authors I never would’ve ‘met.'” Read a Cynsations interview with Greg. See also Meet Cathy Anderson of The Briar Patch, Bangor, Maine by Ellen Booraem from The Enchanted Inkpot.

Using Freelance Editors by Mary Kole from Peek: “…there are a lot of wonderful writers and publishing professionals who either make a career in or supplement their income with freelance editing. Their talents are many and their insights are deep. I have a lot of great respect for them and for what they do. However, I would not point all writers to freelance editors. Let me try to articulate…”

My Little Round House: The journey of a picture book from Mongolia to Canada by Helen Mixter from papertigers. Peek: “Whereas usually as a translator I work very hard to keep the voice of the original text intact and to remain as true as possible to the word for word of it, this process wasn’t really possible here.”

Stuff To Know About Shen’s Books: A Chat With Editor Renee Ting by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “…it is impossible for me to tell the race or ethnicity of an author just from their name on a manuscript. These days, we can’t assume anything from people’s names. And it just seems wrong to me somehow to judge work based on any criteria other than its own merit.”

The deadline for the PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer fellowship has been extended. This $5,000 fellowship goes to an author in financial need who has written at least two novels for children or young adults, and is given to support the completion of a book-length work-in-progress. Completed applications must be postmarked by March 1. See complete guidelines.

New Children’s-YA Agent

Mandy Hubbard has joined the D4EO Literary Agency where she will concentrate on middle-grade and young adult fiction.

Mandy began her career in publishing as an author. Her debut novel, Prada & Prejudice (Razorbill/Penguin, 2009), is in its fifth printing. She has four other books under contract, divided among Harlequin, Llewellyn Flux, and Razorbill/Penguin. Mandy also interned at The Bent Agency before joining D4EO Literary.

Mandy is interested in a broad range of middle grade/YA manuscripts, whether they be contemporary or historical, fantasy/paranormal or realistic. She loves books with a heavy focus on romance, as well as “issue books” with a strong voice. If your book has a high concept or a big hook, she wants to see it.

However, if your story includes portals to fantasy worlds, wizards or dragons, it’s probably not for her. She says, “Please no chapter books, pictures books, poetry, nonfiction, or books for the adult market.”

To query Mandy, send your query letter, along with the first five pages of your manuscript (both pasted into the body of an email) to See also Mandy’s LJ.

Cynsational Screening Room

In the video below, Josh Berk celebrates the release of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halprin (Knopf, 2010) with a musical video.

Author Interview: Loretta Ellsworth from Shelf Elf: Read, Write, Rave. Peek: “My nephew died in a motorcycle accident, sort of a freak accident when his front tire hit a hole and the bike flipped. He had designated himself as an organ donor on his license. For a long time I couldn’t write. When I did, I found myself drawn to a story of organ donation.” See the book trailer for In A Heartbeat (Walker, 2009). Read an excerpt (PDF file).

Check out the book trailer for Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (Dial). Read an excerpt. Source: Blog.

In the video below, “Laurie Halse Anderson recounts the conception and building of her writing cottage. The cottage is off-grid and was built to be easy on the environment as well as warm and quiet. It was designed and built for her by her husband, who is a carpenter, and several of his friends.”

In the video below, Erin Dealey presents The Writer’s Rap. Music and Video by Andrew Heringer. Source: Linda Joy Singleton.

Austin SCBWI 2010: Destination Publication

Here’s continuing coverage of the recent Austin SCBWI conference. See the original post.

The video below is a series of short conversations with attendees at Austin SCBWI‘s recent “Destination Publication” conference. It’s just under 7.5 minutes long. It features established authors like Phil Yates and illustrators like Don Tate, agent-speaker Nathan Bransford, rising star illustrator Clint Young, and founding chapter members Betty X. Davis and Jerry Wermund (talking about co-founding RA Meredith Davis, mentor Kathi Appelt, and author Anne Bustard) as well as tons of newcomers, some attending their first conference.

Conference debrief by Mark G. Mitchell from How to Be a Children’s Book Illustrator. Peek: “Still children’s publishing is ‘not an industry in ruins, but in transition,’ he [Mark McVeigh] continued. He spoke about the emerging digital media and mobile media (Kindle, iPhone, etc.) marketplace. But he kept returning to the sovereignty of language, individual creativity — and the Emily Dickinson poem he keeps in his wallet.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mark.

See SCBWI Austin 2010: Conference Report by Peni R. Griffin from Idea Garbage Sale. Peek: “Maybe I’ll never need to understand how artists think for a story, but understanding visual art better is a good in itself.” Read a Cynsations interview with Peni.

See also Lisa Graff on Writing and Revising from Day By Day Writer. Peek: “She said an editor is in charge of finding the true story a writer is trying to tell; because writers are so in their head, it’s often hard for them to see the story for the words. But, she pointed out, editors can’t do their best work until writers have done theirs.”

See also Black and Yellow, a Sneaky Fellow by Diandra Mae from Taking Flight. Peek: “Besides the fantastic opportunities of hearing Marla Frazee speak to the conference (and to the illustrators in a breakout session), I was also able to display my portfolio and participate in a silent auction fundraiser for the Austin SCBWI‘s illustrators.” Features insights into how Diandra decorated her frame for the auction.

More Personally

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith: a recommendation from Karen Healey’s LiveJournal AKA Attention Rebellious Jezebels. Peek: “Oh my Lord, I loved it. I am about to spoil the heck out of this book, so if you absolutely cannot stand knowing anything about a book turn away, and if you want to be spoiled a little bit but don’t want to know the end, I will white that out so you can risk it.” Notes: (a) very, very entertaining; (b) she’s not kidding about the spoilers, but as noted, there’s white space before her analysis of the ending so you can wait to the read the rest if you want to.

Reminder: as of this week, Eternal is now available in the U.S. in paperback from Candlewick Press. Today, you can enter to win one of two copies. See more information.

Additional giveaways are ongoing this week at the Cynthia Leitich Smith Facebook Fan Page. Comment/message me to enter to win a copy of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella, 2009), Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2009), and How To Be a Vampire: The Fangs-On Guide for the Newly Undead by Amy Gray (Candlewick, 2009). Note: both Immortal and Sideshow include short stories set in the Tantalize-Eternal-Blessed (forthcoming) universe.

Attention Readers in the Philippines: Tantalize is available from National Bookstore, Power Books, and Sketch Books.

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win a copy of Cupid: A Tale of Love and Desire by Julius Lester (Harcourt, 2007)! To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Cupid” 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). Deadline: Feb. 12.

Enter to win one of two copies of The Book of Samuel by Erik Raschke (St. Martin’s, 2009). To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “The Book of Samuel” 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). Deadline: Feb. 28. Note: one copy of each book will be reserved for a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature; the other will go to any Cynsations reader!

Cynsational Events

Author Bethany Hegedus will speak on “scene and structure” (“If You Build It, They Will Read”) from 11 a.m. to noon Feb. 13 at BookPeople in conjunction with Austin SCBWI. Note: “bring a notebook and get ready to examine Aristotle’s Incline and the Seven Key Scenes every book needs. Please be familiar with Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, 2000)…, as Bethany will discuss the Seven Key Scenes used to build this gem of a book.”

“More Than Words: Making Connections With Authors and Classroom Readers and Writers,” sponsored by the Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading and the Central Texas Writing Project, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at Round Rock (Texas) Higher Education Center. Featured authors are: Margo Rabb; Jennifer Ziegler; April Lurie; Varian Johnson; Liz Garton Scanlon; Cynthia Leitich Smith; Don Tate; Chris Barton; Anne Bustard; and C.S. Jennings. Pre-registration ends Feb. 8. Cost: $20.00 Teachers; $10.00 Students/TC’s. Make checks payable to TAIR-CTWP Conference. Mail to: Diane Osborn; Texas State University; Department of Curriculum & Instruction; 601 University Drive; San Marcos, Texas 78666. Questions? Contact Dr. Catherine Davis or Dr. Sharon O’Neal.

2010 Houston-SCBWI Conference will be held Feb. 20 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; Nancy Feresten, vice president and editor-in-chief National Geographic Children’s Books, and Sara Crowe, agent at Harvey Klinger. Note: “All the speakers will be doing critiques. Critique spots are limited.” See registration and information.

The Greater Houston Teen Book Convention is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 10 at Alief Taylor High School, and admission is free! Speakers include keynoter Sharon Draper and:

Moments of Change: the New England SCBWI Conference will take place May 14 to May 16 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. See conference schedule, workshop descriptions, manuscript critique guidelines, and special conference offerings. Note: I usually list conference speakers/critiquers, but as you’ll see from the faculty bios (all eleven pages), it’s an unusually big group. I will say, however, that I’m honored to be participating as a keynote speaker!

2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop is scheduled for June 14 to June 18 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah. Peek: “Full-day participants spend their mornings in small workshops led by award-winning faculty. Both full- and half-day participants enjoy afternoon plenary sessions by national children’s book editors and an agent, as well as breakout sessions by our workshop faculty and guest presenters. The keynote address and book signing are open to all conference attendees.” See faculty.