Cynsational News & Giveaways

Rick Riordan: The World as His Classroom by Jennifer M. Brown from Shelf Awareness. Peek: “A mixed-race family would have the same issues today that they had hundreds of years ago.” Source: Mitali Perkins. Read a Cynsations interview with Rick.

Editor Interrogation: Julie Tibbott (Graphia/Harcourt) from The Undercover Book Lover. Peek: “Losing a book I love to another publisher is always rough. But, in the end it’s nice to know that the book you loved will be published anyway, and there’s always something else wonderful coming down the line.” Source: Jackie Morse Kessler.

Independent bookstores make a comeback: With so many small shops closing, a new wave of collectives are starting to get attention by Chantal Braganza from the Toronto Star. Peek: “‘I think it’s an opportunity for us to think of a book as not a thing in and of itself, but as part of a larger process.’ What Rovito refers to is more than just the belief there will always be a need for books in print, but that there will always be a need for places other than the sofa or your favourite library nook to experience them.” Source: Mitali Perkins.

Reminder: Hunger Mountain Fund-raising Auction is ongoing now to May 9 on Ebay. Bid to win full length manuscript critiques with Tanita Davis, author of the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Mare’s War (Knopf, 2009), Michelle Poploff, Vice President, Executive Editor at Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, and picture book writer Tanya Lee Stone, who won the Sibert Award for Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream (Candlewick, 2009). In addition, National Book Award finalist Deborah Wiles and Jacqueline Kelly, author of Newbery honor book The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (Henry Holt, 2009), will offer young adult and middle grade manuscript critiques. Bidding ends at midnight EST May 9.

Revising a Rough Draft by Brian Yansky from Brian’s Blog: Writer Talk. Peek: “The beginning chapter or chapters I might go over fifteen or twenty times. It’s ridiculous. I know it is, but I can’t help myself. I need to do that to get them to be the best I can make them.” See also Brian on Delusion. Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Behind the Book: Growing Up on the Brink of War by Ellen Wittlinger from BookPage. Peek: “For seven days we lived in a state of panic, listening for the sound of planes from nearby Scott Air Force Base, discussing who had bomb shelters and whether a hole in the ground would really protect you, picking at our dinners while watching somber television newscasters who seemed scared to death themselves.” Read a Cynsations interview with Ellen.

No T. Rex in the Library: a free readers’ theater adaptation (Word doc.) by Toni Buzzeo. See also No T. Rex in the Library Curriculum Connections (PDF). Read a Cynsations interview with Toni.

Reading Animals by Jennifer Armstrong from The Horn Book. Peek: “We deliberately work to create and strengthen the natural bond between children and animals in our quest to promote civilization and its ideals of dignity, compassion, and justice.” Note: includes a short list of children’s-YA authors who’re vegetarians.

10 Questions to Ask an Agent Before You Sign by Chuck Sambuchino from Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog. Peek: “Your objective is to hire an agent you can trust with your money, your work, and your future. It’s all part of finding your perfect match.”

Cynsational Blogger Tip: when writing up an author/illustrator talk at a private event (paid admission), limit coverage to an overview blurb, a few personal reactions, and a fair-use quote of under, say, 50 words. Speakers set their fees in part based on whether it’s a presentation that can be given again, and a full online recount reduces the value. If you don’t think they’ll mind your posting a thorough report, ask anyway.

How to Get Rich on a Texas Cattle Trail by Tod Olson, illustrated by by Scott Allred and Gregory Proch, afterword by Marc Aronson (National Geographic, 2010): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith. Peek: “…fun and lively introduction to the old west…”

Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel by K.A. Holt (Yearling, 2010) is now available in paperback. Read a Cynsations interview with K.A.

The Art of Revising a Novel by Chris Brodien from The Enchanted Inkpot. Includes a round-up of revision strategies/process insights from the Inkies.

Reasons I Write by Rachel Greer from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “…it makes life meaningful. When I write stories I make patterns, little crescendos in the joyous, boring senselessness of life.”

Building Your Pitch from Elena Johnson from QueryTracker. Translated notes from Laura Rennert of Andrea Brown Literary. Peek: “She gave five steps for building your pitch. I think this pitch can transfer to the written query letter as well as be used for verbal pitching at conferences.”

Bugs in My Hair?! by Catherine Stier, illustrated by Tammie Lyon (Albert Whitman, 2010) is now available in paperback. From the promotional copy: “‘What do you mean, I have bugs in my hair?!’ blurts Ellie when her mother and their school nurse give her the bad news: Ellie has head lice. ‘These things happen,’ says Ellie’s mother. At home, Ellie and her mother talk to the doctor and read the papers from the school nurse. Then they shampoo, comb, and do laundry. Ellie even writes a note for kids who get head lice-‘These things happen,’ it says. The author includes a note for concerned parents. Catherine Stier’s light look at this all-too-common problem is sure to strike the right note with stressed-out kids and families. Tammie Lyon’s humorous paintings complete this reassuring tale.”

Top Ten Crime Fiction for Youth: an annotated bibliography by Ian Chipman from Booklist. Peek: “Whether your tastes run toward historical whodunits, high-stakes heists, or hard-boiled hawkshaws, outstanding examples of each can be found in the best crime fiction for youth reviewed in Booklist over the past 12 months.” Source: April Henry.

Interview: AnnMarie Anderson, Senior Editor at Scholastic Paperbacks by Nathalie Mvondo (with Ari) from Multiculturalism Rocks! Peek: “…if there’s a book out there that’s just a really great read, with vibrant, believable characters and an exciting plot, and the characters happen to be people of color, then I don’t think that book will be a tough sell.”

You’re Still Working on the Same Book by Robie H. Harris from I.N.K.: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: “…that’s when I realized that as an nonfiction author, it was my responsibility to make sure that kids and teens, the audiences for this book, would have the latest and most accurate science and medical information in order to help them stay healthy. At that moment I knew that as long as this book was in print and went back to reprint, I would have more work to do.”

Prom Drama: a bibliography of recommended reads from Teens @ Arapahoe Library District. Peek: ” It’s amazing how quickly prom can turn into “prama” when the anticipation turns into stress! So, relax. We’re here to help… or at least let you forget your troubles by reading about someone else’s!”

Pie-of-the-national-poetry-month-club: Susan Blackaby by Heather Vogel Frederick from Set Sail For Adventure. Peek: “I once told an editor that none of the major publishers (including hers) know beans about producing leveled readers. Just because something is true doesn’t mean you need to be the one to say so….”

Handling Critiques Without Getting Defensive by Carolyn Kaufman from Blog. Peek: “…having problems pointed out is tough, but that’s the only way we’re going to build a great story. This is even more true if you hope to publish, because both agents and editors will ask you to make (often tough) revisions to polish your story into a salable state. (And don’t forget about the reviews after your book is published! You’ll need a thick skin for those!)”

The Series Bible by Nathan Bransford from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “Whenever you reintroduce a character the Series Bible will remind you what they look like. If you have different worlds/planets/lands/classrooms/lairs you won’t have to go hunting through your manuscript to try and remember which one is which.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Author-Agent Agreements from BookEnds, LCC. Peek: “Getting an agent should be about a lot more than submitting your book or negotiating a contract. It should be one step toward building a career, and hopefully that’s the way you’ll want to treat it.”

The Crimson Cap by Ellen Howard (Holiday House, 2009) has been chosen as the winner of the 2010 June Franklin Naylor Award for the Best Book for Children on Texas History. Read a PDF excerpt.

The End of the World as I Know It by Jeff Hirsch from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “A girl talks to you or she doesn’t. One little adjustment and everything can change. Over and over you’re saying goodbye to one world and hello to another. Didn’t it feel like that? So monumental?”

Cynsational Blogger Tip: make your post titles are specific as possible. Often readers are scrolling through a list. Which would you be more likely to click on “Guess what?” or “Author-Editor Interview with Shana Corey of Random House.”

Five Children’s Books about Microfinance: a round-up by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “Microfinance is the provision of financial services to low-income clients who traditionally lack access to banking.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

Do the Write Thing for Nashville: “We’re raising money for flood relief in Nashville by auctioning off critiques and more from your favorite authors, agents, and editors.” New items go live daily. See also Tennessee Flooding: thoughts by Greg Leitich Smith from GregLSBlog.

Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus by R. L. LaFevers (Houghton Mifflin 2010)(ages 8-12): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith from GregLSBlog. Peek: ” Theodosia Throckmorton is back and the Museum of Legends and Antiquities is as unsettled as ever. “

Writers Links from Cynthia Leitich Smith Children’s Literature Resources. The home of a mega round-up of annotated links on agents, book design and art direction, editors and publishers, education, illustration, promotion, publishing, and writing. Bookmark for future use, and please pass on this link. Notes: it answers about half of the questions I receive from the main website; especially useful to those trying to get an overview of children’s-YA publishing and/or to find an agent.

Giveaway Reminders

Enter to win a copy of Morpheus Road: The Light by by D. J. MacHale (Aladdin, 2010). From the promotional copy:

Marshall Seaver is being haunted. Or maybe we should say, hunted, because it was that too. Marsh is left alone to deal with demons both of his own making and those that are reaching out from beyond the grave. Follow this series to outer reaches of reality where the supernatural becomes . . . natural.

See also the book trailer.

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Morpheus Road: The Light” in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message/comment me with the name in the header/post; I’ll write you for contact information, if you win). Deadline: May 31. Publisher sponsored; U.S. entries only.

Enter to win a copy of Smells Like a Dog by Suzanne Selfors (Little, Brown, 2010)! To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Smells Like Dog” in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message or comment me with the name in the header/post; I’ll write you for contact information, if you win). Deadline: May 31. Publisher sponsored; U.S. entries only. See also Suzanne on Why I Love Writing for Middle Graders.

Cynsational Screening Room

Jennifer Cervantes
, author of Tortilla Sun (Chronicle, 2010) makes tortillas with her daughters. Source: Josh Berk.

Check out the book trailer for Keeper by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum, 2010).

Check out the book trailer for Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready (Simon Pulse, 2010).

Check out the book trailer for Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson (Simon Pulse, May 18, 2010).

Check out the book trailer for Once Upon a Baby Brother by Sarah Sullivan, illustrated by Tricia Tusa (Melanie Kroupa, June 2, 2010). Source: Tami Lewis Brown at Through the Tollbooth.

Author Jackson Pearce on critique partners:

More Personally

Author Melissa Walker sends in this shelf shot that includes Eternal (Candlewick, 2010) and can be found at Barnes and Noble in Manhattan (NYC). Thanks, Melissa!

Class Notes Change of Plans: Two Law School Grads Bolster Their Friendship by Changing Their Careers and Finding Their Calling in Books by Lara Zielin from The Law Quadrangle [of The University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor (PDF). Features me and classmate, fellow YA author, and pal Niki Burnham. Read a Cynsations interview with Niki.

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith: a recommendation by A.J. Coutu from World of Ares. Peek: “Miranda and Zachary are truly interesting characters. While they are partially defined by their status as supernatural beings, but they are also filled with the self-doubt and raw emotions that are in all of us.”

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith: a recommendation by Iffath from Love Reading X: for people who just love reading. Peek: “Eternal was full of danger, passion, deception, humor, and anticipation.”

YA Book Review: “Eternal” by award-winning author Cynthia Leitich Smith from Mechele R. Dillard from Atlanta Young Adult Literature Examiner. Peek: “Parents are sometimes concerned about teens’ fascination with the ‘realm of the undead,’ but Leitich Smith’s work is an excellent example of how a positive influence can be found in a necessarily-dark area of literary fascination.”

Reading Is Fundamental 2009 Multicultural Library Booklist (PDF): an annotated bibliography. Peek: With the support of Macy’s, RIF has donated more than 400 multicultural children’s book collections to elementary school classrooms in low-income communities throughout the United States. Each collection includes 50 hardcover books representing American Indian, African-American, and Hispanic themes as well as a selection from additional parallel culture groups. RIF also provided reading activities to accompany the book collection. Note: I’m honored that my picture book, Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000) was included in this wonderful program.

Cynsational Events

Johnson City Writes: A Literary Event with Authors Greg Garrett, Bethany Hegedus, and Bill Minutaglio will take place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 11 at Johnson Settlement Event Center in Johnson City, Texas. Peek: “The day begins with a panel discussion with authors Greg Garrett, Bethany Hegedus, and Bill Minutaglio, and each author will teach a break-out session in the afternoon. See event details (PDF) with class descriptions, instructor bios, and information on how to make your reservation today. Class sizes are limited!”

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. See faculty bios. Note: I’m honored to be participating as a keynote speaker!

SCBWI Florida: Mid-Year Workshop and Intensives will be June 4 and June 5 at Disney’s Coronada Springs Resort at Walt Disney World. Note: I’m honored to be leading the marketing track with author/social media consultant Greg Pincus and Ed Masessa, author and Senior Manager Product Development, Scholastic Book Fairs. Picture book, middle grade, YA, and series tracks also are available.