Cynsational News & Giveaways

Next week, a dozen bloggers in the U.S., U.K., India, and the Philippines, will all feature the new picture book from Tulika Books, Out of the Way! Out of the Way! by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy. Neat, yes? Follow the tour at Writing with a Broken Tusk. Can’t wait! Revisit A Tale of Two Uma Krishnaswami/ys. Note: highly recommended!

Congratulations to Heidi R. Kling on the release of Sea (Putnam, 2010)!

More News & Giveaways

What Kind of Fantasy is Tu Looking For? And what kind of synopsis? by Stacy Whitman from Tu Publishing. Peek: “I just want to be sure that you’re also familiar with what’s out there right now for children and teens, and not just what was published in the 70s and 80s by some of the best authors on the adult side. If you haven’t already, I suggest going to your local bookstore (or library, but the bookstore is better for seeing more current books all in one place) and looking at the middle grade and YA shelves to get a good idea of how broad the definition of SF/fantasy is in that section.” Read a Cynsations interview with Stacy.

Congratulations to Chris Barton on making the New York Times best-seller list for the first time with Shark vs. Train, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Little, Brown, 2010)! Peek: “In this hilarious and wacky picture book, Shark and Train egg each other on for one competition after another, including burping, bowling, Ping Pong, piano playing, pie eating, and many more! Who do you think will win, Shark or Train?” Note: Other best-seller Austinites include Jacqueline Kelly, Louis Sachar, Liz Garton Scanlon, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Jennifer Ziegler (under the pen name “Lynn Mason”).

Marilyn Kaye: Gifted and Talented by Lauren Barack from School Library Journal. Peek: “The problem with treating writing as a job lies in the fact that, to paraphrase Eugene Ionesco, there are no real vacations. Even when you’re not literally writing, you’re thinking about writing.” Source: Read Roger.

Working as an Author-Illustrator Team Before Submission by Mary Kole from Peek: “I say you run one big risk with this situation, whether you’re approaching an agent or a publisher: what if one component is better than the other? And since you have a close relationship with your co-creator and love the project as is, you may have trouble seeing that.”

Self-Promotion: Starting Too Soon by Alyx Dellamonica, posted and forward by Victoria Strauss from Writer Beware Blogs! Peek: “Ultimately, this question is part of the greater river of debate over marketing in book publishing. Does it work, how much energy does it deserve, and how hard should one chase that brass-ring dream of going viral? We all grapple with this.” Source: Janni Lee Simner.

Fresh Hell: What’s behind the boom in dystopian fiction for young readers? by Laura Miller from The New Yorker. Peek: “There are, or will soon be, books about teen-agers slotted into governmentally arranged professions and marriages or harvested for spare parts or genetically engineered for particular skills or brainwashed by subliminal messages embedded in music or outfitted with Internet connections in their brains. Then, there are the post-apocalyptic scenarios in which humanity….” Note: Great article, but I respectfully disagree with the latter assertion that you don’t have to offer a fresh twist, but rather just be “harrowing.” YAs may be young, but those who are avid fans of a particular literary tradition may well trump us grizzled types in expertise. Source: Nathan Bransford.

Amazon, Sales & Returns – Oh My! by Lisa Schroeder from Author2Author. Peek: “Most authors don’t have any idea how their books are selling until months, perhaps even years, after the book is released. Why? Because royalty statements only come out twice a year, but not only that, they reflect a period of time that was months ago.” Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

Manifestos, Branding and Zing by Greg Pincus from The Happy Accident. Peek: “It’s okay to want more sales and good opportunities. It’s okay to work hard to make good things happen. But for clarity’s sake, let’s not refer to any of this as having anything to do with branding. Instead, let’s talk about Zing.”

Cakes by Gaby: Serving South Florida: “With 20 years of baking experience, Gaby Triana is a critically acclaimed, self-taught cake baker/decorator and author of teen novels living in Miami, Florida.” Note: do you think I could lure her from South Florida to Austin?

What Does Fantasy Teach Us? by Deva Fagan from The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: “I believe that the fantastical can teach us just as much about life and the world as gritty realism. That it can help us learn to be better people, allow us to explore injustice and cruelty and beauty and hope. That fantasy can teach us about the real world.” Read a Cynsations interview with Deva.

Poetry for Children: About Finding and Sharing Poetry with Young People: a new look for an established, amazing blog by Sylvia Vardell. Read a Cynsations interview with Sylvia.

Summertime Flexibility by Kristi Holl from Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “Did I like working on a laptop in the front seat of a compact car? No. I don’t like typing with my elbows close to my waist or trying to find angles where the sun won’t glint off the screen. Happily, we were driving in the dark a good bit of the time, so the sun wasn’t a huge problem.”

How to Grab An Agent’s Attention in a Query: Tips from Twenty Agents to Make Your Query Shine by Suzette Saxton from QueryTracker.

What It Takes to Be An Agent by Jessica and Kim at BookEnds, LLC. Peek: “So often I hear people say that they love to read, therefore they want to be agents. Oh, if only it were that simple. As any of you who have followed agents on Twitter or through blogs have probably come to realize, being an agent is not a 9-5 job. It’s a 9-9 job and then some, and the truth is the reading is such a small part of what we do.”

Loss: Is It Why We Write? by Jane Kurtz from The Power of One Writer. Peek: “…when flood took the neighborhood where my children had spent most of their elementary school years, I was compelled to write. I first fiercely re-connected with Ethiopia through my writing, where my memories could finally take root. Each of my books probably has loss woven through it somehow.” Read American Girl: Lanie and Lanie’s Real Adventures by Jane Kurtz.

Marvelous Marketer: Holly Cupala (Author of Tell Me a Secret) by Shelli from Market My Words. Peek: “One strategy that I think was helpful before teaming up with an agent was to meet with editors. They would ask to see the full manuscript, but I didn’t submit it myself. So when [agent] Edward [Necarsulmer] asked me about the manuscript’s history, I could tell him there were five editors who wanted to see it—he ended up getting a two-book deal in the space of a few weeks.”

Memorable Characters in Middle Grade Fiction by Mary Atkinson from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “The memorable characters of middle grade fiction have their own voice, they struggle desperately to get what they want, and they are often filled with contradictions. Such characters leap off the page through their actions, dialogue, and internal emotions. How do authors create memorable characters?”

Agents Are Not Just Gatekeepers by Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “For an aspiring author, the gatekeeping function is basically all they think about when they think about agents. But in actuality, agents spend most of their time on their existing clients, who happen to be the ones that have already made it through the hoop.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Author An Na will join fellow visiting faculty Coe Booth and Franny Billingsley at this July’s residency of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. See the entire list of VCFA faculty.

Congratulations to author Jessica Lee Anderson on signing with literary agent Andrea Cascardi, and congratulations to Andrea on signing Jessica! See also a new Interview with Jessica Lee Anderson from Melissa Buron, originally published in The Houston Banner (June 2010). Read a Cynsations interview with Jessica by P.J. Hoover.

Fighting Fatigue by Lynn Viehl from Paperback Writer. Peek: “Publishing loses so many great writers every year. The stress of trying to be-all and do-all as a professional writer inevitably and negatively affects the writer as well as the quality of their work, which tips over the seven dominoes of writer self-destruction via creative fatigue: exhaustion, paranoia, burn-out, depression, isolation, renunciation and, finally, tossing in the towel.” Source: Elizabeth Scott.

All You Ever Wanted to Know About Critique Groups and Weren’t Afraid to Ask by Kirby Larson from Kirby’s Lane, featuring insights from Martha Brockenbrough, Deborah Heiligman, Sara Lewis Holmes, Henry Neff, Ann Whitford Paul and Conrad Wesselhoeft! See also Searching for a Critique Group by S.M. Ford AKA Susan Uhlig from Christine Fonseca, Author.

Will the Internet Kill Nonfiction by Tanya Lee Stone from INK: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: “How exciting, in fact, to be in the game at this moment of change. The possibilities are enormous.” Read a Cynsations interview with Tanya Lee Stone.

Un-sappy Romance: writing insights from Gail Carson Levine. Peek: “When I want people to fall in love I think of them as jigsaw-puzzle pieces that need to fit together. This bit of him has to satisfy that place in her that’s been starved, and vice versa. Maybe I see it this way because of my parents, who remained in love for forty-nine years until my father’s death.” Source: Anna Staniszewski. Read a Cynsations interview with Gail.

Cynsational Screening Room

Write On Con: “We’d all heard so many writers tell us they wished they could attend a conference, but simply didn’t have the time or money. So we decided to bring a conference to them—a free online conference that anyone could attend in the convenience of their own homes. And so, WriteOnCon was born. (Rated MC-18: for main characters 18 and under.)” The online event is scheduled for Aug. 10 to Aug. 12; see roster of presenters and more information. Source: the Texas Sweethearts.

The Vampire Hunters hosts give you the inside scoop on how to tell the if your friend is just a regular teen or a vampire! Need more tips? Check out the book Fat Vampire: A Never Coming Of Age Story by Adam Rex (HarperCollins, June 27, 2010).

Four Texas Authors from Kathi Appelt. Featuring Jenny Moss, Janet S. Fox, April Lurie, and Varian Johnson. Interviews by and reading with Kathi.

More Personally

Summer seems to have already arrived in Texas. At least according to the sunflower blooming in my yard. (It’s less fuzzy in real-life).

Authors That Inspire by Kristine Carlson Asselin from My Writing Journey. Kristine offers her reaction to my recent keynote at the New England SCBWI Conference. Peek: “First of all, Cyn’s speech was funny. And that’s important for a Saturday morning conference presentation. She talked about her adorable husband, her life as a law student, and the epiphany that came when she decided to start writing for children (as I recall, it had something to do with ducks.) And I loved her immediately.” Note: Kristine’s Taurus, Virgo & Capricorn: All About the Earth Signs was published by Capstone Press in January 2010.

End of the Semester

This week was dedicated in part to writing end-of-the-semester evaluations for my Vermont College of Fine Arts students. I would like to thank Ann, Janice, Kate, Melanie, and Tara for all of their good cheer and hard work this semester. I’d also like to thank them for all that they taught me.

A Learning Experience by VCFA faculty chair Margaret Bechard. Peek: “I once had a student tell me that it took her two years to really process all I had said to her during our semester together.”

Cynsational Events

University Libraries Presents Cynthia Leitich Smith in Summer Sunset Lecture by Karen Wentworth from UNM Today. Peek: “Cyn­thia Leitich Smith, the best-selling author of young adult Gothic books Tan­ta­lize and Eter­nal, will present ‘Talk­ing Back to Bram: Rein­vent­ing Goth­ics’ on at 7 p.m. June 26 in the Stu­dent Union Build­ing, Ball­room C.”

Austin Area Events

The Writers League of Texas 2010 Agents conference, will be June 25 to June 27. On Saturday, at 10:15 a.m., Greg Leitich Smith will moderate a panel titled Kid Lit: One Hot Market, with editor Mary Colgan of Chronicle Books; agent Laurie McLean of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents; and Alice Tasman of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

At 1:45 a.m., author Jennifer Ziegler will be moderating a panel called YA, YA, YA Not: How to Tell if your Book is for Adults or Teens or Both, with editor Mary Colgan and author Mari Mancusi.

On Sunday, at 9 a.m., Laurie McLean and Alice Tasman will be on a panel titled Trendspotting: The Forecast for YA and Children’s Books.

Also on Sunday at 9 a.m., Greg will be on a panel moderated by Clay Smith (Literary Director of the Texas Book Festival), called The Ties that Bind: The Agent/Author Relationship. Also on that panel will be James Fitzerald of the James Fitzgerald Agency, Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Agency, and author David Marion Wilkinson.

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win a paperback copy of Swim the Fly by Don Calame (Candlewick, 2010)! Read an excerpt or sample chapter (PDF). Check out this author interview (PDF).

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Swim the Fly” 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: June 30. Sponsored by Candlewick Press; U.S. entries only.