Cynsational News & Giveaways

“I spent three days a week for 10 years
educating myself in the public library….”
Ray Bradbury
American Way magazine
(May 1, 2010; pg. 62)

Congratulations to Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson, illustrated by R.G. Roth (Knopf, 2010). From the promotional copy:

“Brewster is excited about starting first grade . . . until Mama announces that he’ll be attending Central—a school in the white part of town. Mama says they have art and music and a library bursting with books, but Brewster isn’t so sure he’ll fit in.

“Being black at a white school isn’t easy, and Brewster winds up spending his first day in detention in the library. There he meets a very special person: Miss O’Grady. The librarian sees into Brewster’s heart and gives him not only the gift of books but also the gift of confidence in himself.

“This powerful and tender story of desegregation busing in the 1970s introduces readers to the brave young heroes who helped to build a new world.”

More News

The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (Candlewick 2010)(ages 12+): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith from GregLSBlog. Peek: “With her background in Victorian literature and culture, Y.S. Lee provides texture and pungency without overshadowing the characters or plots.” Read a Cynsations interview with Y.S.

Sunday Sweets: Reading Rocks from Cake Wrecks. Note: check out these gorgeous cakes, inspired by classic children’s books.

What Writers Can Learn from Betty White by Sarah from Glass Cases. Peek: “Surprise your audience and your peers, but, more importantly, surprise yourself.”

Now In Hardcover: The Series in 2010 from Publishing Trends: News and Opinion on the Changing World of Book Publishing. Peek: “‘When we bring an author’s proposal or manuscript to acquisition, often sales will ask if there are more, and we’ll sign them up as a series from the beginning,’ says Stephanie Lurie, Editorial Director of Disney-Hyperion Books for Children. ‘Other publishers might be more cautious at first and they’d rather see how the first book does before taking on more.'” Source: Nathan Bransford.

Calloo Calling: a new official blog from author Kathi Appelt. Peek: “It’s no coincidence that the inaugural blog is on the same day that I’m heading out for a book tour for my second novel, Keeper (Atheneum, 2010). I’m going to use this space as my travel notebook. And guess what? I bought one of those tiny Flipcam Video Cameras so I can record some of the places that I’m going.”

Writing Great Picture Book Poetry: All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee: an analysis by Julie Larios from Story Sleuths. Peek: “The real miracle of its read-aloud quality is that Scanlon wrote this poem in couplets, and (as anyone who has ever tried knows) it’s not easy to get away with a book full of couplets. Usually, the sing-song quality becomes irritating, predictable doggerel. But not with All the World.”

Public Speaking for Introverts: Jonesing for the Zone by Nancy Ancowitz from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “You’ll need to rest up, prepare, and practice to do your personal best. Here’s what else you can do to get into the zone….”

Cynsational Author Tip: be discrete in your business relationships. Do not publicly complain about your agent, editor, publisher, fellow author or an event planner, especially on the Internet. This includes locked posts.

It Takes a Village to Acquire a Book from The World of Peachtree Publishers. Peek: “When a book is to be brought to an acquisitions meeting, it is made available to everyone in our office for review, and in turn, we fill out readers reports.” Source: Kristi Holl from Writer’s First Aid.

Coffee Break with Cynthea Liu from Debbi Michiko Florence. Peek: “…I’ve gotten many messages from adults in our industry that I am ‘supposed’ to write about my race. I am supposed to be more ‘POC.’ I am supposed to put things in my books that address the differences between our culture and white culture. That my books are meant for POC children. Whatev. I’m a regular person, too, you know, and I write for every child. Not just my Asian-homies.” Read a Cynsations interview with Cynthea.

The League of Extraordinary Writers: a new blog from “a group of debut YA authors who write science fiction and dystopian works.” Source: P.J. Hoover at Roots in Myth.

J. Aday Kennedy: official site of the Texas-based Christian children’s author. See also J. Aday Kennedy: A Writing Playground. Peek: “Read interviews of children authors, children illustrators, teachers, homeschoolers and tips on writing.”

Quirks Are Character Life Support: Character Worksheet Part 3 by Martina Boone from Adventures in Children’s Publishing. Peek: “Making a character true to life while simultaneously making her larger than life is one of the hardest tricks a writer has to pull off. Success requires balancing strengths and weaknesses, and introducing sympathy and lovable, memorable quirks.”

Summer Blog Blast Tour 2010 Master Schedule by Colleen Mondor from Chasing Ray. Featured authors include Malinda Lo, Rita Williams-Garcia, Donna Freitas, Jess Leader, Nancy Bo Flood, and more. Check out the whole list.

Every Writer Gets Rejected by Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “…publishing is a human institution. Not everyone is going to see what others love in a book, even one that goes on to big success.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

The Odds of Getting Published Stink and Why You Shouldn’t Care by Harold Underdown from The Purple Crayon. Peek: “Those 8,000 manuscripts received by the publisher do not all have an equal chance of getting published. Of those 8,000, at least 7,500 are going to be rejected almost as soon as they are opened, as a reader note poor writing of one kind or another, a type of manuscript that the publisher never publishes, or some other critical flaw.” See also Five Reasons Why You Don’t Need an Agent and the latest updates to Who’s Moving Where? Read a Cynsations interview with Harold.

Writers’ Attention Deficit Disorder by Brian Yansky from Brian’s Blog: Writer Talk. Peek: “Writers simply have to live with the fact that their minds will often wander out of the moment. They have to try to control it so that they don’t agree to things they don’t mean to agree to.” Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

What If My Agent Doesn’t Like My Next Book? by Rachelle Gardner from Rants & Ramblings on Life as a Literary Agent. Peek: “The agent or publishing house signed you because they like you, they really like you. There were forty thousand other authors they could have signed, and they signed you. Yay.” See also Rachelle on Reputations.

The Highs and Lows of Publication by Holly Nicole Hoxter from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “Some moments fell drastically short of my most modest expectations, while other moments far exceeded anything I could have hoped for. Some days I feel like a rockstar writer, some days I feel like a total failure…”

forwordsbooks from Kathy Bloomfield. “From the very beginning, forwordsbooks has always focused on bringing the best in Jewish children’s literature to the school’s we serve. But we have also had another, rather unique niche, in the types of books we have tried to deliver to our core audience. In addition to the best in Jewish children’s literature, we also look for secular books with Jewish values content.”

Time Management by Maggie Stiefvater from Words on Words. Peek: “…when you know exactly how much time you have and how much you have to get done in it, it makes you more efficient.” See also Maggie’s post on “bad” parent characters and writing for young adults. Note: not badly written, but badly behaving. Read a Cynsations snapshot interview with Maggie.

Singapore Connections: a series of posts by Uma Krishnaswami on the Asian Festival of Childrnen’s Content and more. See also Multilingual Publishing: Walking the Tight Rope. Read a Cynsations interview with Uma.

Picture Books for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month by Jama Rattigan from Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup. Peek: “I celebrate and cherish the picture books I’m featuring today. The child in me says, ‘At last…but I wish there were more!’ The adult in me says, ‘There absolutely should be more. I’ll keep looking!'”

On Playing Nice by Alexandra Bracken. Peek: “Treat others respectfully. Don’t dump the playground sand on someone’s head just because you think it makes you look clever, or because you want to stir up controversy.”

Q&A with Literary Agent Adriana Domínguez of Full Circle Literary by Nilki Benitez from musings. Peek: “Adriana is based on the East Coast (New York), and interested in building a strong list of children’s picture books, middle grade novels, and (literary) young adult novels.”

Creating a Book Series: an Interview with Marietta Zacker, an agent with the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency, by Stephanie Greene from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “The development of a series is usually much more organic than people imagine. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think of the infinite possibilities that exist with the characters and worlds you create, but always write as if that is the last time anyone will hear from those characters.”

Manage Your Expectations: Rants and Ramblings by Rachelle Gardner from BronzeWorld Latino Authors. Peek: “…there are many writers who hold on to unrealistic expectations long after reality should be setting in. This is an ongoing concern for agents, editors, and publicists who constantly find themselves not living up to writers’ expectations. In many cases…the writer’s hopes and beliefs were simply too idealistic to begin with.”

Hard-boiled Teens: a bibliography of recommended reads from School Library Journal. Peek: “These mysteries all feature a teen protagonist trying to deal with a problem while keeping up with daily life, a challenge that many teen readers can identify with, though likely with less severe consequences!”

Will the Internet Replace Nonfiction Books? by Tanya Lee Stone from I.N.K. Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: “Context. Is one word too short of an answer?” Note: Look for Tanya’s upcoming book, The Good, The Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll’s History and Her Impact on Us (Viking, Oct. 15, 2010). Read a Cynsations interview with Tanya.

Agent Perspectives: Alyssa Eisner Henkin from Denise Jaden. Peek: “I am accepting new queries primarily for YA and MG novels. I am also looking to take on a very select number of new and returning author/illustrators with picture book dummies, as well as picture book manuscripts by previously published authors only.”

Agent Interview: Chris Richman, Upstart Crow, from Alice Pope’s SCBWI Children’s Market Blog. Peek: “In terms of what I’m seeking, I’m beginning to get a reputation for the ‘funny boy’ books. Part of that is my own background in comedy, and part of it’s because I truly believe there’s a place in the market for these types of projects.”

Talk Story

Talk Story: Sharing stories, sharing culture “is a literacy program that reaches out to Asian Pacific American (APA) and American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) children and their families. The program celebrates and explores their stories through books, oral traditions, and art to provide an interactive, enriching experience. Children and their families can connect to rich cultural activities through Talk Story in their homes, libraries, and communities. We welcome all ethnicities to customize Talk Story as needed for your community family literacy needs.”

It’s a joint project of the American Indian Library Association and the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association.

Check out the American Indian/Alaskan Native Book List, the Asian Pacific American Book List, Tips for Selecting Books, Resources for Librarians, and more. Note: Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000), Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001), and Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002), all by Cynthia Leitich Smith, are included among recommended reads.

Cynsational Screening Room

Candlewick Press Channel from YouTube. A new opportunity to view author interviews, animations, book trailers and more. See an animation for Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein, a book trailer for Movie Maker illustrated by Gary Parsons, a book trailer for Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness, and a book trailer for Girl Parts by John M. Cusick–all fall releases from Candlewick.

In the video below, author Laurie Halse Anderson talks about the importance of libraries with students at the Mexico Academy school library. Learn more from the American Association of School Libraries. See also Save Libraries and Librarians by Deborah Heiligman from I.N.K.

On a related note, support the New York Public Library (whether you live in New York or not). Source: E.C. Myers.

Check out this video in celebration of Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up by Sara Albee (Walker, 2010). Note: trailer by Jake Cohen.

Check out this video for I So Don’t Do Makeup by Barrie Summy (Delacorte, 2010).

Signing in the Waldenbooks by Mystery Author Parnell Hall. Note: I don’t normally feature authors of books written for grown-ups, but I suspect many of us can identify.

More Personally

Definitely last week’s highlight was participating in the New England SCBWI regional conference in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. I had the honor of offering the opening keynote to an enthusiastic and generous audience, signing with my fellow faculty members, and sharing the stage for a question-and-answer interview by author Melissa Stewart, who asked terrific, thoughtful questions.

Thanks to everyone who was part of this amazing event, especially conference directors Anindita Basu Sempere and Greg R. Fishbone! I don’t dare try to list everyone, so I’ll just say quickly that it was a particular treat to hear fellow keynoters Marla Frazee and Allyn Johnston as well as workshop co-leaders Mitali Perkins and Deborah Sloan discussing “Social Media Tips and Tricks: How a Savvy Online Presence Can Serve Your Career.”

Here’s me with Mitali at the faculty dinner on Friday night. (Thanks to Mitali for the photo!).

While I was having fun in New England, Greg joined many of our fellow Texas writers at an Austin SCBWI advanced workshop with author Carol Lynch Williams (author interview).

Here’s Austin SCBWI regional advisor Debbie Gonzales with Carol.

As promised, here are a few photos from my previous trip to the Pechanga Chámmakilawish School of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. It’s a K-5 elementary school on the reservation. I had a wonderful visit.

My warm greeting included signs…

enthusiastic audiences of young readers (and the folks who connect books to them)…

as well as a few generous gifts (flowers not shown).

I also had the pleasure of staying at Pechanga Resort and Casino. I’m not a gambler, but the hotel was excellent.

And so were the views.

Special thanks to librarian Mike and my event coordinator Jean Dayton of Dayton Bookings.

Beyond that, it was fun to see a notice of Eternal (Candlewick, 2010) making the New York Times list under “Alumni News & Notes” on page 11 of the spring 2010 issue of J-links (PDF), a publication of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at The University of Kansas. I graduated from KU in 1990 with degrees in news/editorial and public relations.

Eternal Story Secrets & Giveaway

Thank you to fellow YA author Holly Cupala for my most recent interview Story Secrets of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009, 2010)! Here’s a peek:

“Occasionally, a character will emerge who’s something of a composite of a number of folks I’ve known.

“Nora from Eternal is someone like that. She’s an older lady—the chef at the castle, nurturing, likes to treat trouble with a hot meal, and is always willing to listen. She’s a tribute of sorts to my grandmothers and aunties.”

Leave a comment at the post for a chance to win a copy of the novel. Deadline: 5 p.m. PST Monday. See details.

Jingle Dancer Giveaway

Nathalie Mvondo is celebrating the 10th anniversary of my first book, Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000) at Multiculturalism Rocks! A blog on multiculturalism in children’s literature. Surf over to check out her thoughts on the book and to enter to win a copy of Jingle Dancer for the school of your choice. Note: Recipients (reader and school) of the giveaway will be announced May 28.

More Giveaway Reminders

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.

Enter to win a copy of Morpheus Road: The Light by by D. J. MacHale (Aladdin, 2010). 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. See also the book trailer.

Cynsational Events

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.

Austin Area Events

“The Metaphor: So Much More Than a Simple Comparison,” a lecture by Varian Johnson at 11 a.m. June 12 at BookPeople.

Picture Perfect! A Spit-Polish Workshop at McKinney Rough Nature Park, featuring famed Lisa Wheeler as Keynote Speaker is scheduled for Oct. 9 and sponsored by Austin SCBWI. Faculty also will include Sarah Sullivan, Stephanie Greene, Don Tate, and Laura Jennings. See more information (PDF).