Cynsational News, Giveaways & Birthday

Q&A with Tweenie Author Christopher Grant from Medeia Sharif YA Author. Peek: “I think I’m afforded a unique advantage by getting to ride the NYC subway twice a day. The banter and colorful conversations that I hear are like gifts from God. Not a day goes by where I won’t hear something and think to myself, ‘Oh, that will fit perfectly with…'”

Scam Proofing Your Writing Career by Jan Fields from Kristi Holl at Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “The Internet is like one of those ancient treasure troves you read about in stories. You can find wonderful things there. Or you can hit the booby traps and get squashed flatter than a flitter.”

Steampunk: Full Steam Ahead by Heather M. Campbell from School Library Journal. Peek: “Steampunk is both speculative fiction that imagines technology evolved from steam-powered cogs and gears–instead of from electricity and computers–and a movement that fosters a do-it-yourself attitude and a love of beautifully crafted, yet functional, objects.” See also Arthur Slade on How to Put the “Steam” in Steampunk.

Use Photos on Your Blog and Articles by Kathy Temean from Writing and Illustrating. Peek: “One of the best ways to make your articles look appealing and to hold reader’s attention is to use images to illustrate your work. But where do you find images that you can use without getting into copyright trouble?”

How’s Your Query Letter IQ? an interview with Jessica Greene of J.R. Professional Writing Services by Dianne Ochiltree from Kathy Temean at Writing and Illustrating. Peek: “Number one, absolutely no contest, is spelling and punctuation. Surprised?”

Tenners in Eleven: a round-up of 2010-2011 new releases from this dynamic group of new voices by Teri Hall from the Tenners. See also Fall 2010 Flying Starts from Publishers Weekly.

E-Readers with Color Open Door for Pictures by Julie Bosman from The New York Times. Peek: “Publishers have been eager to sell illustrated books in digital form, particularly picture books for children, since they could eventually become a significant additional source of revenue.”

Pathway to Becoming a Bestselling Author by Stina Lindenblatt from Peek (under “agented writers”): “Start working on a new project so if your current book doesn’t sell, you’ll have something new for your agent.”

Teachers Guide for Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Spice, Magic, Slavery, Freedom, and Science by Mark Aronson and Marina Budhos (Clarion, 2010).

Endings and Beginnings in Nonfiction Picture Books by Carmen Oliver from Following My Dreams…One Word at a Time. Featured discussion books: What To Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father, Teddy, Crazy! by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Scholastic, 2008) and The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton, illustrations by Tony Persiani (Charlesbridge, 2009).

Featured Sweetheart: Elaine Scott by Jeanette Larson from the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels. Peek: “When I realized that Hubble was approaching its 20th ‘birthday’ and the final servicing mission was headed to the telescope, the time seemed right to take a look at all the amazing science this fantastic instrument has facilitated through the years. I used my contacts at NASA and at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore to gain access to the latest information, and I am humbled that Dr. Mario Livio of STScI agreed to vet the manuscript for accuracy.”

One Impossibly Crazy 2010 7-Imp Retrospective Before Breakfast from Jules. Note: a round-up from one of the top children’s literature blogs; a must read, especially for fans of illustrated fiction.

The Dark Side of Young Adult Fiction from The New York Times. Insights from Scott Westerfeld, Jay Parini, Andrew Clements, Michelle Ann Abate, Maggie Stiefvater, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Lisa Rowe Fraustino. Note: click author names for individual insights. Source: Jennifer Ziegler.

Cynsational Screening Room

Check out the book trailer for The Lost Saint by Bree Despain (Egmont, 2010).

Check out this video interview with author Chris Barton by Vicki Smith, children’s and YA editor for Kirkus Reviews. The focus is Chris’s 2010 release Shark vs. Train, illustrated by illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Little, Brown, 2010). See also a Cynsations interview with Chris.

Check out this video featuring author Susan Campbell Bartoletti, talking about They Called Themselves the KKK (Houghton Mifflin, 2010). See also a guest post by Susan Campbell Bartoletti on Writing Nonfiction and They Called Themselves the KKK.

Austin Scene

For those who missed it over the holidays: Arrested Development? Young-at-heart Austin is home to a booming Young Adult literature scene by Melanie Haupt from The Austin Chronicle (cover story). Peek: “In many ways, the wedding of Victorian gothic to Austin’s buzzing eclecticism within the context of Young Adult literature – itself a crazy amalgam of genres – is the perfect metaphor for the town itself. And it just so happens that Austin is a literary hotbed for the production and consumption of YA fiction. Austin and YA lit offer something for everyone, from dark, paranormal romances featuring werearmadillos to powerfully realistic portrayals of Southern racism during the Civil Rights movement.”

Read in 2010: Austin Writers Recommend Their Favorite Books of the Year from The Austin American-Statesman. Peek from me: “I don’t reach for historicals first, but [Y.S. ] Lee‘s Mary Quinn mysteries–[A Spy in the House (The Agency: Book One) and The Body in the Tower (The Agency: Book Two)(both Candlewick)]–read like lush, romantic fantasies, with plenty of page-turning intrigue and suspense.” Note: recommendations from Chris Barton, Varian Johnson, and more.

More Personally

Thank you for all of your enthusiasm and support in 2010! I’m so grateful for the terrific fellowship, insights, and passion for the craft of writing and reading books for young readers. Here’s to an even better 2011!

Vampires, Werewolves and Guardian Angels: a review of Blessed (Candlewick, Jan. 25, 2010) by Teri Lesesne AKA Professor Nana from The Goddess of YA Literature. Peek: “Archetypes, motifs, and plenty of references to other vampire literature make this a terrific read for fans of the genre, too. Quincie is no shrinking violet; she is a strong young woman surrounded by danger at every turn. Lots of action and blood and gore balanced nicely with a growing romance between Quincie and Kieren.”

Blessed: Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith and Giveaway by Jen Bigheart from I Read Banned Books. Peek: “I feel that her arc makes a fresh and substantive contribution to the literary tradition surrounding the vampire mythology. It calls long accepted metaphors into question, especially as they relate to gender, power, and the ability to be defined by someone else (versus defining yourself).” Giveaway deadline: midnight CST Jan. 9. Scroll for more information.

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith by Stacey O’Neale from The Young Adult Fantasy Guide. Peek: “It’s [Blessed (Candlewick, Jan. 25, 2011)] more romantic and horrific and sexier and has more heart than the previous two books. Quincie is also a far more reliable narrator than she was in Tantalize because she’s on the other side of her transformation.”

Author Insight: The Significance of Books from Wastepaper Prose and Other Literary Woes. Note: Insights from 30 authors, including me, every upcoming Tuesday and Thursday.

Reminder: Cat Calls by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2010) is now available for free as an e-book from! See more information!

Reminder: you’re always welcome leave a comment at Cynsations at LJ. Please also find me at facebook, JacketFlap, Twitter, and YouTube. Check out Greg’s news at GregLSBlog.

Even More Personally

Happy Birthday, Cynthia Leitich Smith from Happy Birthday Author: Where Reading and Birthdays Come Together. Peek: “I was born in a snowstorm on New Year’s Eve in Kansas City.”

Hey, hey, it’s my birthday!

And yes, a birthday on New Year’s Eve definitely prompts one to evaluate where she is in life.

That’s okay! Don’t panic. I’m a work in progress.

Much joy and many blessings to you in the new year!

My holiday has been almost entirely spent writing. I’m working on book #4 (still untitled) in the Tantalize series.

Here, you can see the dining room table set for Christmas dinner in the foreground and my work area in the background.

Dinner is turkey, giblet stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, and corn. Dessert was bananas foster, all made by Greg, naturally.

On the 28th, fellow Austinites gathered around that same table for yet another day of writing.

Here’s former Austin SCBWI RA Tim Crow with authors Jennifer Ziegler (in white) and Julie Lake (in green). Look for Jenny’s Sass and Serendipity in July 2011 from Delacorte.

On the other side of the table, we have Greg with authors April Lurie and Chris Barton. Bethany Hegedus also joined us, a little later in the day. Look for Chris’s Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities in April 2011 from Dial.

Menu: armadillo eggs, chicken enchiladas, homemade salsa, tortilla chips, tamales, fruit, cranberry apple casserole, chocolate-covered pretzels, and cookies! The armadillo eggs (cream-cheese-stuffed jalapeno peppers, wrapped in bacon) were brought by Tim.

My present from Greg was Mr. Monk Is Cleaned Out by Lee Goldberg (Obsidian, 2010). I adore these parallel stories that tie into the series at various points.

In return, I gave Greg Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read by Stanislas Dehaene (Penguin, 2010). From the promotional copy: “The act of reading is so easily taken for granted that we forget what an astounding feat it is. How can a few black marks on white paper evoke an entire universe of meanings? It’s even more amazing when we consider that we read using a primate brain that evolved to serve an entirely different purpose. In this riveting investigation, Stanislas Dehaene explores every aspect of this human invention, from its origins to its neural underpinnings. A world authority on the subject, Dehaene reveals the hidden logic of spelling, describes pioneering research on how we process languages, and takes us into a new appreciation of the brain and its wondrous capacity to adapt.”

Before bed most nights, we revisited favorite movies like “The Princess Bride” (1987), “White Christmas” (1954), and “Oh, God! You Devil” (1984)(I adore George Burns.).

I also fell in love with DreamWork’s “How To Train Your Dragon” (2010), which we saw late one evening on DVD. Here’s the trailer.

Giveaway Reminder

Enter to win a illustrator-autographed copy of Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Daniel Jennewein (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins, 2011)! The book will include a customized drawing–the winner can pick the buffalo’s pose!

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) and type “Buffalo” 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: Dec. 31. Sponsored by the illustrator; world-wide entries.

Don’t miss the Blessed ARC giveaway by Jen Bigheart from I Read Banned Books!

Cynsational Events

Jessica Lee Anderson will speak on seven things she’s learned through her publishing journey…using songs at the Austin SCBWI monthly meeting at 11 a.m. Jan. 15 at BookPeople in Austin. Read an interview with Jessica and P.J. Hoover.

Save the Date! Joint Launch Party: Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick) and Night School by Mari Mancusi (Berkley) book party and signing at 2 p.m. Jan. 29 at BookPeople in Austin. Read a guest post by Mari on Kids Don’t Read Like They Used To…And That’s a Good Thing (on connecting books to technology). Don’t miss the Night School blog tour!

A Cacophony of Conference Contests from Austin SCBWI in conjunction with Books, Boots, and Buckskin, the chapter’s regional conference on Feb. 18 and Feb. 19. Note: includes drawings for saved seats and both author/manuscript and illustrator/portfolio critiques.