Cynsational News & Giveaways

Congratulations to Jody Feldman on the release of The Seventh Level (Greenwillow, 2010). From the promotional copy:

“Lauer Middle School has a super-secret society—The Legend. No one knows who is in it. Or how they pull off the spectacular schoolwide events.

“Seventh grader Travis Raines may be about to find out. A shiny blue envelope marked For Your Eyes Only mysteriously appears in his locker. You have been chosen, the message says. But if Travis is to become Legendary, he must first solve a series of mind-bending puzzles and complete their challenges. Then he needs to stay out of trouble. The assistant principal has her eye on him. So do his parents.

“And even if he does all that’s asked of him, Travis still has one question: is the message really from the Legend?”

See From the Writer’s Desk: He’s Not that Guy or the Walk that Instantly Influenced The Seventh Level by Jody Feldman from Under the Green Willow: The Official Birthday Blog of Greenwillow Books. Peek: “I had that boy and title and premise rolling around in my head. And as is my process, I hadn’t put any words to screen or paper because I didn’t yet have an opening scene.”

More News

Does Age Matter in Publishing? by Steph Bowe from Steph Bowe’s Hey! Teenager of the Year. Peek: “Know that you won’t be a different person when you get a book deal. You’ll be a living the same life you live now, but with more responsibilities.” Peek: “I’m a 16-year-old YA author. My debut novel, Girl Saves Boy, will be published by Text Publishing this September in Australia & New Zealand and by Egmont USA in America in 2011. I’m represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown” Ltd.

Literary Agents Talk Trends in Children’s Publishing at NESCBWI: a guest post by Theresa Milstein from Guide to Literary Agents. Note: insights from the agent panel, featuring Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary Agency, and Edward Necarsulmer IV of McIntosh and Otis. Read Cynsations interviews with Ammi-Joan and Sarah.

A Look at School Visits: Part One: Why Bother? by Verla Kay from Verla Kay’s Blog. Peek: “When I do school visits, I never plan on selling any of my books. If some have sold, I consider that a bonus. I go to schools to inspire the students, to touch their lives for a moment, to connect with just a few of them and to inspire them to read more and write their own wonderful stories.” See also A Look at School Visits – Part Two: Booking Visits, Setting Prices & Contracts. Read a Cynsations interview with Verla.

Work Your Inner Fierceness by literary agent Jennifer Laughran from Jennifer Represents… Peek: “… I still need my authors to have a spine, be driven and at least a bit fierce. That means speaking up for yourself, having self-confidence, putting yourself out there (even if you don’t necessarily feel like it…) It also means bravery in terms of your writing.” Read a Cynsations interview with Jennifer.

On Perfectionism by Lisa Schroeder from Lisa Schroeder’s Journal. Peek: “I think every author struggles with the issue of perfectionism in one way or another. For me, it’s more of a big picture thing – I’m not as good of a writer as I wish I was, and sometimes that keeps me from opening the document. Like – what’s the point?” Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

Folio Literary Management Unveils Children’s Book Division by John A. Sellers from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Four-year-old agency Folio Literary Management is expanding its presence in the children’s book market with the launch of Folio Jr., which will represent creators of middle-grade and young adult novels, as well as ‘selective’ picture books. Two new hires at the agency—Marcy Posner and Emily van Beek—as well as Folio’s Molly Jaffa will represent clients for the division, though Folio Jr. will also encompass other children’s/YA authors at Folio, including those represented by other agents.” Source: Alice Pope’s SCBWI Children’s Market Blog.

Prospering in the Gig Economy: Simple Habits for Writers That Pay Off Quickly by Christina Katz from BronzeWorld Latino Authors. Peek: “Spend time with other writers who make money writing. If they are too busy (making money) to spend time with you, sign up for their newsletters, read their blogs or connect with them via social networking whenever possible.”

Agent Mandy Hubbard’s Submissions Guidelines from her official author-agent site. Includes lists (by category) of a few of her favorite books and some of her clients. Read a Cynsations interview with Mandy.

The 15th Annual Postgraduate Writers’ Conference will be from Aug. 9 to Aug. 15 at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. The conference is designed for writers with MFAs and equivalent preparation, and features an award-winning faculty of devoted author-teachers; intimate small-group workshops limited to six participants; readings by both faculty and participants; craft classes, issues forums and individual consultations, all within a vibrant, inclusive community atmosphere. For this summer, the event will include a pair of YA workshops, led by An Na and Carolyn Coman. Limited space is still available in these workshop groups, as is funding for partial scholarships for interested writers requiring financial support to attend. For details, visit Contact Ellen Lesser, Conference Director, at or 802.828.8835 with questions.

Public Speaking as a Promotional Tool by L. Diane Wolfe from QueryTracker. Peek: “At its most basic, speaking places the author in front of real human beings. The lure of the Internet has prompted more and more authors to remain hidden behind a website. While blogs and social sites provide a certain measure of interaction, it cannot replace real-world contact and physical appearances.”

Stop Apologizing for the Things You’ve Never Done by Joanna Young from BronzeWorld: Latino Authors. Peek: “One of the defining features of confident writing is that it’s not apologetic.”

Are You Blogging Too Much? by Meghan Ward from Writerland. Note: an interview with Kristen Tracy. Peek: “I see the use in social media for building an audience, but I also think you can build an audience by writing the best books you can, while maintaining a small web presence.”

Picture Books for Asian American Heritage Month: Part 2 (China) by Jama Rattigan from jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. See also Part 3 (Japan).

Twitter for Writers by Elizabeth Spann Craig from Mystery Writing is Murder. Peek: “I think the best way is to steadily increase the number of people that you’re following. And you’re probably going to want to target readers and other writers.”

Interview with Magic Under Glass author, Jaclyn Delamore by Cindy Pon from The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: “It was setting first–I wanted to do a Victorian Gothic type story in a creepy house like Jane Eyre or Rebecca–but Nimira swiftly followed. I knew I wanted a Victorian story, but how to prevent the main character from falling into a stereotype, like the wealthy girl who doesn’t want to get married or the governess-with-heart-of-gold?”

There by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Roaring Brook, 2009) has won the 20th Bistro Children’s Book of the Year. Source: ACHOCKABLOG. See more information.

Interview with Lila Guzman, author of Lorenzo and the Pirate by Mayra Calvani from The Examiner. Peek: “Every experience I’ve had—from being an officer in the U.S. Navy to getting a Ph.D. in Spanish has prepared me for this. Luck and persistence play a role in this business, but a natural talent for writing and an active imagination are crucial.”

The Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults is pleased to announce that award-winning authors Franny Billingsley and Coe Booth are visiting faculty, and after a hiatus, Susan Fletcher is returning to active faculty status, beginning with the July 2010 residency.

Time Management by Jo Whittemore. Peek: “Look at your deadlines. Does the interview come before the school visit? Then quit working on those sock puppets for the kids and answer the interview questions. You’re not always going to get to do the fun stuff first.” Read a guest post by Jo.

What’s taking so long? I want your third book now! by Carrie Ryan from Carrie’s Procrastination Outlet. Peek: “One question I’ve been asked a few times is why, since the book is already written, is it taking so long for it to come out?” Read a Cynsations interview with Carrie.

Tenacious, Talkative, and Teachable by Mary DeMuth from Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent. Peek: “…you will not go far in this industry by being cocky. And when you’re brand spanking new, it behooves you to be overly teachable.” Source: QueryTracker.

Cynsational Screening Room

Congratulations to Kristina McBride on the release of The Tension of Opposites (Egmont, 2010). Check out the book trailer:

Here’s the book trailer for The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez by René Colato Láinez, illustrated by Tom Lintern (Tricycle). Trailer by Tina Nichols Coury.

More Personally

I’m pleased to announce that Amber has purchased the Polish language rights to Eternal. My literary agency, Curtis Brown Ltd., also received an offer yesterday for Tantalize and Eternal from another international publisher, and I look forward to announcing details when the paperwork clears.

Highlights of the week included attending Jennifer Holm‘s signing of Turtle in Paradise (Random House, 2010) last Friday night at BookPeople in Austin. Note: Jenni is pictured here with Greg, her new novel, and a drawing she did of an angelic Babymouse, just for me!

From the promotional copy of Turtle in Paradise:

“Life isn’t like the movies, and eleven-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She’s smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending.

“After all, it’s 1935, and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle’s mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn’t like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida, to stay with relatives she’s never met.

“Florida’s like nothing Turtle has ever seen. It’s hot and strange, full of wild green peeping out between houses, ragtag boy cousins, and secret treasure. Before she knows what’s happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she has spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways.”

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith by Naomi Canale from Dreams Can Be Reached. Peek: “I would likely relate most to Kieren Morales from Tantalize and the upcoming graphic novel Tantalize: Kieren’s Story (Candlewick). He’s a serious reader with aspirations of being a writer and he excels academically. He’s also family oriented, loyal, and takes commitment very much to heart.”

In other exciting news, we’ve had a traveling guest of late. His name is “Critter” (created by Ian Sands). He’s visiting kidlit blogs, and he’ll be auctioned off for St. Jude when his travels are over.

Christy Evers is tracking Critter’s journeys, so visit her to find out more about him, where he’s been, and where in the world he’s off to next. Join the Critter group at facebook.

Here’s critter with Newbery Honor author Kathi Appelt and her new book, Keeper (Atheneum, 2010).

Here’s Critter with author/librarian Debbie Leland and Greg.

And here’s Critter with authors Janet S. Fox and Debbie Gonzales.

Giveaway Reminders

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.

Thank you to fellow YA author Holly Cupala for my most recent interview Story Secrets of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009, 2010)! Leave a comment at the post for a chance to win a copy of the novel. Deadline extended to: 5 p.m. PST today. See details.

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).