Cynsational News & Giveaways

Three Days of Fey by Shveta Thakrar from A Desi Faerie Spins Stories of Stars and Silver, Jasmine in Her Hair. Featuring interviews with Cyn Balog, Malinda Lo, and watch this LJ for number three. Read Cynsations interviews with Cyn and Malinda.

“New Snow,” a poem by author Sharon Darrow. Read a Cynsations interview with Sharon.

Looking for Asian Guy Protagonists in YA Novels by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Surf over and suggest! Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

Seeking Vegetarian Children’s-Authors by Roger Sutton from Read Roger. Peek: “For an upcoming article, we need to compile a list of children’s and YA authors and illustrators, living or dead, who are/were vegetarians.” Read a Cynsations interview with Roger.

AJA Affiliates with ALA from The Association of Jewish Libraries Blog. Peek: “The Association of Jewish Libraries has become an affiliate of the American Library Association.”

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with author-illustrator Matt Tavares by Jules from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “…my most recent books were done primarily in watercolor and gouache (which is opaque watercolor). My first couple books were monochromatic, done completely in pencil. This was for a couple reasons…. ” See also Coffee with Kathi [Appelt] and Kelly [Murphy], Singin’ the Blues…, likewise from SITBB.

Soup’s On: Arnold Hiura in the Kitchen Interview by Jama Rattigan from jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. Peek: “I think the ‘70s were a transformative time, when the so-called Hawaiian Renaissance led to new respect and appreciation of the Hawaiian language, music and dance, as well as local literature, Pidgin English and local food. The Hawai’i Regional Cuisine movement has its roots in this period.”

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month by Naomi Bates from YA Books and More. Peek: “In the state of Texas, 3 out of 4 individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 have been affected by relationship violence, either personally or about someone they knew? That means that in the average classroom 75% of students are experiencing abuse or know someone who is.” Post includes online resources and suggested bibliography of YA fiction.

Strong Writers Do This by Kristi Holl from Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “‘Hoping an editor won’t notice’ isn’t a solid marketing plan. Even if they had the time (which they don’t), editors aren’t in the business of fixing the story for you or teaching you how to write. That’s up to you-but what can you do?”

28 Days Later: Jerdine Nolen by The Brown Bookshelf from 28 Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature. Peek: “It was based in part on a chapter from my mother’s life; and her desire for each of her eight children to get a college education—something she so wanted, but was not able to achieve for a variety of reasons.” Note: please consider reading the whole series, and if you’re a blogger, highlighting whichever you determine to be the standout links.

Giving Your Writing Depth by Anna Staniszewski. Peek: “Do the characters’ motivations come across clearly in the story? Are their actions logically linked to their feelings and desires?”

So You Wanna Be a Children’s Book Editor by Alvina from Blue Rose Girls. Peek: “if you’re not able to relocate, you could research to see if there are any literary agents living nearby, and see if they need interns and/or manuscript readers.”

Do Small Press Credits Hurt My Chances? by Mary Kole from Peek: “Getting published with a small press won’t hurt your chances at getting an agent, as long as it’s not a small press that you, yourself, founded to be your self-publishing or vanity project. It won’t necessarily increase your chances, though, either, because…”

Publicity: It’s Never Too Early to Think Ahead by Lizzy Mason, senior publicist at Simon and Schuster, from QueryTracker. Peek: “Particularly as marketing budgets decrease (meaning smaller, more circumscribed tours and less advertising), publicity has become more important than ever.”

Guest Post: Varian Johnson on Battling Time Suck from Justine Larbalestier. Peek: “When it comes to protecting your writing time, you have to be cold. Heartless. Merciless. Ruthless. Remember, you’re not Fredo Corleone. You’re Michael.” Read a Cynsations interview with Varian.

What It Takes to Succeed as a Novelist by Libby Koponen from Crowe’s Nest. A list of eight qualities.

Marketing Stages by Guest Blogger Shelli Johanes-Wells from R.L. LaFevers at Shrinking Violet Promotions. Note: don’t miss part two.

The YA-5: “a group of writers with a shared vision for change. Change in the way that information about YA books is shared on the web – with you, the people who read & love YA books. We don’t want to tell you which books to buy – we’d rather hear what you think.” Note: the blog team includes

Picture Book Endings: a series of posts by Michelle Markel from The Cat and the Fiddle. See also Picture Book Endings: Fantasy, Picture Book Endings: Realistic Fiction, Picture Book Endings: Historical Fiction, Picture Book Endings: Lyrical, and Picture Book Endings: A Biography, a Wrap-up. Read a Cynsations interview with Michelle.

Common Sense Raises Issues at B&N by Judith Rosen from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “[Sarah] Dessen‘s own feelings were initially mixed. ‘I’m not sure how I feel about this. I mean, I’m sure it’s useful for parents. But I worry it’s breaking a book down into these pieces that don’t do justice to the whole. What do you think?'” See also Kerfuffle from Sarah and Judy Blume: Too Hot for Sixth Grade by Kate Harding from

Checklist and Timeline for MG or YA book release by Lisa Schroeder from Lisa’s Little Corner of the Internet. Peek: “Put a call out for a street team. Send postcards, bookmarks, other swag to a certain number of people who are willing to talk up the book to their friends, teachers, librarians, etc. Make them feel special, perhaps give a little gift for helping!” Source: Gwenda Bond. Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

Read Me a Story, Ink.: Read-aloud Short Story Index from Robert Topp. Searchable index of children’s short stories. Peek: “An outgrowth of my 15-year hobby of reading aloud in the public schools, this index of read aloud stories is offered for the use of teachers, educators, parents or anyone who enjoys reading to children.”

On-site Research by P.J. Hoover from The Spectacle. Peek: “Okay, let’s start with the five senses, and for grin’s sake, let’s pick a sewage treatment plant as our perfect place to research.” Read a Cynsations interview with P.J. and Jessica Lee Anderson.

But How Do You Feel About That? by Carolyn Kaufman from QueryTracker. Peek: “People told me my stuff was big, as in big-screen HD with a surround sound system. It was passionate and colorful and exciting.”

Pie-of-the-month Club – Toni Buzzeo by Heather Vogel Frederick from Set Sail for Adventure. Note: In celebration of a pair of pie-related books that she has coming out later this year–Babyberry Pie (Harcourt, Oct. 2010) and Pies & Prejudice (Simon & Schuster, Sept. 2010), Heather is hosting a “pie-of-the-month-club” on her blog. Throughout 2010 she’ll be serving up a stellar selection of new books by some fabulous authors and illustrators. Oh, and pie is on the menu, too, of course. Read Cynsations interviews with Toni and Heather.

Male from the Other Perspective by Karen Strong from Musings of a Novelista. Peek: “…what I find interesting is that some readers complain that the male voice is ‘feminized’ or not ‘authentic.’ And I often wonder what that means.”

What a Girl Wants: On the Eternally Infamous “Bad Girl” by Colleen Mondor from Chasing Ray. Peek: “Based purely on sex – or the suggestion of sex – a teenage girl can ruin her reputation while conversely, for identical, a teenage boy can cement his. It is a troubling double standard that permeates our society and can result in everything from shunning to, in its most dire circumstance, death.” A conversation with Neesha Meminger, Sara Ryan, Beth Kephart, Laurel Snyder, Lorie Ann Grover, and Zetta Elliott.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Isn’t Going Under: the official press release, courtesy of Jill Cocoran from Jill Cocoran Books. Peek: “Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Secures New $650 Million Cash Investment and Recapitalizes Balance Sheet in Historic Restructuring.”

Congratulations to Jaclyn Dolamore on the new U.S. cover for Magic Under Glass (Bloomsbury, 2010). From the Bloomsbury UK promotional copy: “Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act – singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry’s world, however, buried secrets stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry’s involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton’s stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.” Source: Reading Extensively.

Moralizing in Books by Mary Kole from Peek: “The best way to deliver a message is to create a vibrant character who goes through something in the plot and emerges on the other side a little bit (or a lot bit) changed, but their realizations should never be blatantly expressed.”

On Not Everyone Appreciating Your Book The Way You Hope They Will from Jay Asher. Peek: “Your part of the author/reader conversation ended the moment you turned in your edits. From then on, the only thing that will change about your story will be the people reading it.” Read a Cynsations interview with Jay.

Is Magical Realism Fantasy? an interview with Jennifer Cervantes and her agent, Laurie McLean by Lena Castle from The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: “I live in New Mexico where you can wake up to the most magnificent sunrise creeping over the mountains and end the day watching swirls of pink and orange dance across the sky. I am truly captivated by the natural beauty of the southwest. It is the kind of place that feeds your spirit and makes you believe anything is possible.”

Spotlight on Bookstores: A Secular Temple: guest post by Susan Jane Gilman from She Is Too Fond of Books…And It Has Addled Her Brain. Peek: “The emotions, hopes, and fears of an entire neighborhood – perhaps an entire people – were articulated there that night amid the bookshelves, themselves testaments to our civilization’s struggles and endurance.”

Editor Alexander Cooper on Submitting to an Editor by Samantha Clark from Day By Day Writer. Peek: “One of the reasons publishing companies are more cautious on picture books right now is the cost and economy. Color picture books are printed in China, and the weak dollar is making printing costs rise.”

School Visits 101 Workshop: a six-lesson, eight-week email course for published children’s book authors and illustrators taught by author Anastasia Suen. Peek: “…you will plan your school visit talk minute-by-minute, try out a webcam visit, decide on your school visit prices, create a mailing list of local schools, design a postcard, organize your book signings and update your webpage.” Dates: March 3 to April 21 or April 7 to May 26 or May 5 to June 23. Cost $149.

Voices You Should Hear: Nancy Bo Flood by Janet S. Fox from Through the Wardrobe. Peek: “…children are caught in the crossfire between warring nations. Children’s schools, homes, families and entire childhood are taken from them. But I wrote with a sense of hope. The human spirit endures, heals, even forgives, and re-builds. Someway I wanted to convey all of that.” Learn more about Nancy’s new release, Warriors in the Crossfire (Front Street, 2010), “which provides a historical perspective on American involvement in the Pacific front during WWII, an aspect of American history seldom represented in children’s literature.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nancy.

Let’s love some libraries by Jennifer R. Hubbard from writerjenn. Peek: “…you put up a blog post during that week (although you can pick the exact dates of your involvement, and whether you want to do a shorter time frame or even extend past that time). You agree to donate a certain amount of money for every comment you receive on that post by a certain date. (You pick the amount.) The money goes to your local library, bookmobile, or other literacy-based charity… You can set a cap on the donation if need be.” has Resources to Answer Questions by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Read a Cynsations interview with Darcy.

Online Platform Do’s and Don’ts by Mary Kole from Peek: “If you can’t update at least once a week, you should think of a static website like the one I mentioned above.”

There are no guarantees, in writing or in life by Lisa Schroeder from Author2Author. Peek: “I’ve heard stories of how some of them sell everything and go into huge amounts of debt to be able to go to the Olympics. Right now, I’m trying this dream thing on for size, doing the writing thing full-time. And it’s so scary.” Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

Author Interview with Bobbi Miller by JoAnn Early Macken from Teaching Authors. Peek: “The language of the tall tale defies the tidy and restrictive, even uptight structure of formal grammar. It mocks it, in fact, using pseudo-Latinate prefixes and suffixes to expand on the root.”

On Not Giving Up Your Creative Dreams by T.S. from Must Love Books. Peek: “If you work hard enough and you have passion and a willingness to learn and grow, you will have options. And in the meantime, it isn’t going to help you to compare yourself to the competition. Be inspired by them, learn from them, but don’t be intimidated by their presence.”

Cynsational Screening Room

The Texas Sweethearts discuss their plans for March 2010.

Here’s a feature video on the film “Beastly” (July 2010), adapted from the novel by Alex Flinn (HarperCollins, 2007). Read a Cynsations interview with Alex.

More Personally

It’s been an exciting release month! Tantalize and Eternal (both Candlewick) are now available as e-books, and Eternal is now available in paperback in the U.S.! See a fan trailer for Tantalize below!

You can bid soon to win a 10-page novel or short story critique with me from the Young Adult Books Central Fundraising Auction! Bookmark and check back often as new items will be added on an ongoing basis. Authors and publishers can bid now to win a book trailer from NoWickiProduction! Note: auction ends midnight CST March 15; if you have something you’d like to donate for auction, please contact

I’m also happy to say that my revision of Blessed is off to my editor. Given the extent of changes, I expect to do one more (hopefully smaller) round after this, and I look forward to it.

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith: a review by Leslie from That Chick That Reads. Peek: “I loved the alternate point of views between Zach and Miranda; it’s funny because they don’t really anticipate each other’s motives or next moves.”

Greg and I stayed in this past Valentine’s Day, and he replicated the dinner he’d cooked for me on our first date.

Including the bananas foster–yum!

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win Bell’s Star (Horse Diaries 2) by Alison Hart, illustrated by Ruth Sanderson (Random House, 2009). To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Bell’s Star” in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the title in the header or comment on this round-up; I’ll write you for contact information, if you win). Deadline: Feb. 28.

Read “Writing About Horses” by Alison Hart from Cynsations.

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 title in the header or comment on this round-up; 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

“Putting the Power in PowerPoint” with author P.J. Hoover will be at 11 a.m. March 6 at BookPeople. Peek: “Don’t think you’re savvy enough? Scared of animation? Sick of using the same old standard templates? Afraid of boring kids and adults alike? Then don’t miss out on this presentation by author P. J. “Tricia” Hoover. P.J. will dispel the burdening and fearful thoughts PowerPoint may conjure. She’ll explain how to build a fantastic PowerPoint presentation from the ground up, and how, once that first presentation is done, it can be modified and reused for others in the future. P.J. will go over the basics of creating your own custom template to personalize your presentation, and how to use animation and images to bring your presentation to life. Materials: bring an open mind and a bundle of energy.” Sponsored by Austin SCBWI.

Jacqueline Kelly will be be reading from The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (Holt, 2009) and signing from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. March 6 at BookPeople in Austin. Read a Cynsations interview with Jacqueline.

Release party – author Jo Whittemore will celebrate Front Page Face-Off (Aladdin Mix, 2010) at 1 p.m. March 14 at BookPeople in Austin.

Joint release party – YA authors Varian Johnson and April Lurie will be featured in a joint book signing at 2 p.m. March 27 at BookPeople in Austin. Varian will be signing Saving Maddie, and April will be signing The Less-Dead (both Delacorte, 2010).

Oklahoma SCBWI Spring Conference will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 27 at Embassy Suites Hotel (1815 S. Meridian) in Oklahoma City. Faculty includes: editor Amy Lennex, Sleeping Bear Press; editor Greg Ferguson, Egmont USA; associate editor Kate Fletcher, Candlewick; Stephen Fraser, Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency; and senior designer (art director) Kerry Martin, Clarion. See registration form, information on writers’ and illustrators’ critiques, and more. Note: registration closes March 23.

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:

Release party – author Chris Barton will celebrate Shark v. Train, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Little Brown, 2010) at 1 p.m. April 24 at BookPeople in Austin.

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!

Master Class/Writing Salon Event Details from Austin SCBWI. Peek: A Master Class/Writing Salon for the advanced writer, led by author Carol Lynch Williams, will be held May 15 at the Ranch House at Teravista in Round Rock, Texas. The cost is $80. Read a Cynsations interview with Carol.

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.