Cynsational News & Giveaways

R.A. Nelson: redesigned site from the author of Teach Me (Razorbill, 2007), Breathe My Name (Razorbill, 2008), Days of Little Texas (Knopf, 2010), and Throat (Knopf, 2011). Read a Cynsations interview with R.A.

New Agent Alert: Jason Pinter of Waxman Literary Agency by Chuck Sambuchino from Guide to Literary Agents. Note: Jason is seeking middle grade and YA fiction. Peek: “I’m a sucker for stories about ordinary people thrust into extraordinary situations, and normal people who must overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.”

Life on the Road: Tips for Authors on Tour by Richelle Mead from Blue Succubus. Peek: “Because most signings are at 6 or 7 p.m., I often get picked up at 5 or 6 p.m., meaning I don’t get to eat at dinnertime. Get food when you arrive, or you may not eat at all.”

6 1/2 Ways to Impress an Agent by Tina Wexler from Donna Gephart at Wild About Words. Peek: “Demonstrate knowledge of their list. This doesn’t mean you have to read every book they’ve ever sold–I leave that job to my mom–but by showing them you know a bit about who they represent, you’re telling agents you’ve done your research on who to query.”

Guest Post: Agent Michelle Andelman on Dystopian Fiction from The Spectacle. Peek: “I dived in feeling self-important, feeling like my mom trusted my opinion, feeling like I was revisiting a place I’d just left. Cracking the spine, I felt adult for the first time. And, then I fell in love.”

Congratulations to Vermont College of Fine Arts, which is ranked first among low-residency MFA programs, according to Poets and Writers!

Pen pals: The characters in a new kids’ book bear a funny resemblance to the friends who dreamed them up: Minneapolis writers Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. By Laurie Hertzel from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. Note: Bink and Gollie, illustrated by Tony Fucile, comes out Sept. 14 from Candlewick. Read a Cynsations interview with Kate from Cynsations.

How Many Projects Do You Have to Write Before the Big One? from Jennifer Hubbard. Peek: “I think the typical answer is around four (I vaguely recall someone compiling statistics on this, but it’s also my experience anecdotally, from talking to other writers). I do know writers who have sold the very first book they ever wrote, but they are the exception.”

The Package of Services That Publishers Provide Authors and How This Is Changing by Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “Here are the basic services traditional publishers provide for an author, why these services matter, and how this is (and isn’t) changing….” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Agent Interview: Mary Kole from Alice Pope’s SCBWI Children’s Market Blog. Peek: “I’m still very much looking for talent, but I feel like I can take my time now and be really picky. I’d say I can sum up my goals in agenting and in life with, ‘Read and learn more and more every day.'” See also Mary on Mature Voice for the YA Market from

Inevitable Envy by Eric from Pimp My Novel. Peek: “If you feel it—or rather, when you feel it—first of all, take comfort that you’re in the very best of company.” Source: Elizabeth Scott.

Tips on Selling “Multicultural” Children’s-YA Books by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “When doing a display of ‘good summer reads’ or ‘great books about friendship’ or whatever the display is, make sure each display has multicultural titles in it.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

Curious Georgia: new blog from author Julia DeVillers, newly relocated to Georgia (the former Soviet Republic of…). Peek: “Usually, I live in Ohio. But for a year or so, I’m an expat. This should be interesting…”

Children’s Authors and Their Dogs: Bow Wow Wow Wow Wow! by Jama Rattigan from Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup. A photographic celebration of children’s authors, their dogs, and a few dog-themed books, too.

An Interview with Patricia Riley Giff and ZigZag Kids (Random House) Giveaway by Esther Hershenhorn from Teaching Writers. Teaching Authors are giving away two sets of the first two books in Patricia’s new series: Number One Kid and Big Whopper. One set is for a classroom teacher, the other for a writer, librarian, or parent/grandparent. Deadline: 11 p.m. CST Aug. 30. Read a Cynsations interview with Patricia.

Writing in the Woods: authors Marsha Wilson Chall, Phyllis Root and Jane Resh Thomas are offering a writing workshop from Oct. 9 to Oct. 15 in Spring Valley, Minnesota. Application deadline: Sept. 1. Note: “Two graduate credits will be available through Hamline University.” Peek: “As teachers, readers, and creators of children’s literature, we invite you to live and write with us for a week in the woods. We provide a safe, supportive writing environment and promise to nurture you and treat your art kindly.” Read a Cynsations interview with Phyllis.

The Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College is pleased to announce the addition of a new $1,000 fellowships for children’s-YA writers: the Jacqueline Woodson Fellowship for a Young People’s Writer of African or Caribbean Descent. Read a Cynsations interview with Director Meg Kearney on the Solstice Creative Writing Programs of Pine Manor College.

A Look at School Visits – Successful Presentations from Verla Kay‘s Blog. Peek: “You might make some mistakes during the day. That’s not a tragedy unless you turn it into one. Laugh at any mistakes so your audience can laugh, too.” Read a Cynsations interview with Verla.

Interview: African Library Project founder, Chris Bradshaw by Marjorie from papertigers. Peek: “We completed libraries in all of the South District [of Botswana] and are now covering our third (of twelve) school districts with 199 libraries and counting.”

Congratulations, David Macinnis Gill

Congratulations to David Macinnis Gill on the release of Black Hole Sun (Greenwillow, 2010). From the promotional copy:

Durango will take on any mission—as long as it is dangerous, impossible, and hopeless, and as long as it pays enough for him and his crew to get by.

Fortunately for Durango, he also has Mimi, a symbiotic nano-implant, to keep him on the straight and narrow, as well as a crew of loyal soldiers. Because he’s going to need everything he’s got for his latest mission—defending a rag-tag clan of helpless miners from a ravenous horde of feral cannibals and their enigmatic but brutal leader, who is hellbent on taking out the miners, and Durango along with them.

Read a Cynsations interview with David about his previous book, Soul Enchilada (Greenwillow, 2009)

Cynsational Screening Room

Mocking Jay (Scholastic), the third and final book in the Suzanne CollinsHunger Games trilogy is now available. Check out Editor Spotlight: Jennifer Rees by Sherrie Peterson from Write About Now. Peek: “It wasn’t until she delivered the manuscript for The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008), however, that we truly realized just how big and wide-reaching a project this was. We literally walked around with goosebumps for days.”

Check out the book trailer for A Place Where Hurricanes Happen by Renee Watson, illustrated by Shandra Strickland (Random House, 2010). From the promotional copy: “…this touching free-verse picture book provides a straightforward account of Hurricane Katrina…”

More Personally

I’m honored to be among the 2010 Festival Authors scheduled to appear at the 15th annual Texas Book Festival Oct. 16 and Oct. 17 at the State Capitol Building in Austin.

The line-up also includes M.T. Anderson, Laurie Halse Anderson, Ann Angel, T.A. Barron, Chris Barton, Holly Black, Heather Brewer, Marina Budhos, Cinda Williams Chima, Andrea Cremer, Tony DiTerlizzi, Keith Graves, Bethany Hegedus, Varian Johnson, Justine Larbalestier, April Lurie, Deborah Noyes, Sara Pennypacker, Lisa Railsback, Tim Tingle, Scott Westerfeld, and Brian Yansky.

My fave amusing links of the week are (a) Erm. This Hope This Doesn’t Ever Become a Fashion Trend by Leila Roy from Bookshelves of Doom, highlighting hats made out of books (check out the photos!); and (b) Inside the Science Fiction Book Contract by Greg R. Fishbone from The Spectacle (I particularly liked the “Cloned Author Clause.”)

And this one is required reading: Letter to Myself: Jo Knowles from Anna Staniszewski.

On the local front, see a wrap-up of the last Austin SCBWI meeting–“Diversity is Everyone’s Story” from E. Kristin Anderson. And thanks to Bethany Hegedus for featuring my Holler Loudly (Dutton, Nov. 11) trailer in Work and Worry: The Writer’s Life from Writer Friendly; Bookshelf Approved.

Highlighting Donna and Carmen

Today I’d like to highlight the blogs of two local children’s writers, Donna Bowman Bratton‘s Simply Donna and Carmen Oliver‘s Following My Dreams…One Word at a Time.

This week Donna considers Nonfiction vs. Creative Fiction vs. Historical Fiction and Carmen asks, Do Humorous Picture Books Need a Takeaway?

What are they doing right? Among other things, they’re reading like writers. They’re asking the hard questions and studying models to find answers.

On a related note, don’t miss Donna’s post on the question of writers who’re not yet (book) published doing school visits. Peek: “To some people, it may seem like I was putting the cart before the horse in 2008, when I gave my first presentation. I didn’t have to go looking for the opportunity. My son’s elementary school teachers….”

Note: The ladies are decked out here as Page 1 and Page 2 at the 2008 Awesome Austin Writer’s Workshop, an informal event at my house. I probably have a more recent picture of them, but the absolute cuteness of this one dictated that I feature it instead.

More Cynsational Giveaways

Surf over to Mundie Moms to read the latest interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith, and enter to win bookplate-signed copies of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009, 2010)! With Blessed (Candlewick, 2011) coming soon; now is a great time to get caught up on the series, if you haven’t already. Or enter to win a book to give to your local high school or public library. All you have to do is fill out a short form. Deadline: Sept. 15; U.S. entries only.

Enter to win Vampire High: Sophomore Year by Douglas Reese (Delacorte, 2010)(author interview). To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) and type “Vampire High: Sophomore Year” 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: Aug. 31. Publisher review copy; U.S. entries only.

Enter to win an author-signed copy of Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson, illustrated by R.G. Roth (Knopf, 2010). To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) and type “Busing Brewster” 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: Aug. 31. Sponsored by the author; U.S. entries only. Read a Cynsations interview with Richard.

More Cynsational Events

Join author Mari Mancusi at 11 a.m. Aug. 28 for a discussion of Boys that Bite (Berkley, 2006) at Cedar Park Public Library in Cedar Park, Texas. The Teen Book Club is open to all teens ages 10-17 and meets in the Teen Zone. Teens can come by the library and pick up their free copy of the book in advance. Read a Cynsations guest post by Mari on Kids Don’t Read Like They Used To, and That’s a Good Thing.

The launch party for Brains for Lunch: A Zombie Novel in Haiku?! by K.A. Holt, illustrated by Gahan Wilson (Roaring Brook, 2010) will be at 2 p.m. Sept. 12 at BookPeople in Austin. Read a Cynsations interview with K.A.