Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter today to win the Cynthia Leitich Smith Grand Prize Giveaway from Book Club as part of Book Club’s 31 Days of Giveaways!

The prize is:

a signed Blessed (Candlewick, Jan. 2011) ARC;

Quincie’s Chicago-themed road trip journal (lined for your own notes);

and a plush toy bat with purple ears and bow tie!

To enter, you’ll need to surf to the immediately preceding link answer the following questions:

(1) In the 2003 movie “Elf,” what are the four main food groups that elves stick to?

(2) What did I give you last Christmas, that the very next day, you gave it away? (Hint: The name of of the carol is in the question.)

(3) Rudolf the red nose reindeer was made fun of by the other reindeer until what happened?

Surf over to answer in the comments section of today’s prize post at Crissi’s Blog. The winner will be randomly selected from the correct answers and awarded within 24 hours.

Good luck, and happy holidays!

See also a Cynsations interview with Cristina Brandao on Book Club at facebook. Note: Book Club is currently 12,516 members strong.

More News & Giveaways

What Children’s Publishers Are Doing in the Apps Space: Houses Are Testing, Experimenting by Rachel Deahl from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Bloomsbury is creating its first app this season, based on Carrie Jones’s YA paranormal romance series Need. A spokesperson for the house said the planned release date for the app is December, to coincide with the publication of the third book in the series, Entice (2010).” Source: Alice Pope’s SCBWI Blog.

Congratulations to Paul B. Janeczko on the success of The Dark Game: True Spy Stories (Candlewick, 2010)! From the promotional copy: “Ever since George Washington used them to help topple the British, spies and their networks have helped and hurt America at key moments in history.” The Dark Game is a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults and Booklist said: “With well-chosen subjects (including many women and African Americans who used their marginalized positions to gather information) and contagious enthusiasm for the spy world’s ‘tantalizing mysteries,’ this makes a strong choice for both avid and reluctant readers alike.”

Dr. Seuss Author Profile: video about Seuss’s life and works by Anita Silvey from

SCBWI Team Blog Pre-conference Interview with Linda Sue Park by Jolie Stekly from Cuppa Jolie. Peek: “My most valuable tip came from Katherine Paterson, who wrote in an essay about how she tries to finish two pages per day. I read that when I was starting work on my first novel, and it was a huge light-bulb moment. I thought, I can do that!”

Research Advice from National Book Award Winner Kathryn Erskine by Maryann Yin from GalleyCat. Peek: “I think research and attention to detail is crucial to the story’s authenticity.”

Interview with Robin McKinley on Pegasus (Putnam, 2010) by Parker Peevyhouse from The Spectacle. Peek: “I did realise [sic] that something the size of pegasi either had hollow bones or some magic to allow them to fly at all, but that kind of explanation or confirmation tends to come later in the story-telling process.”

Spilling Ink Short Story Contest from the Official Website of Spilling Ink: The Book. For ages 9-12; deadline Jan. 17; first prize is: “A Skype visit to your class & a signed copy of Spilling Ink. Ellen Potter will chat with you and your class via Skype for a half hour and answer your writing questions.” See details.

Figment Looks to Attract Young Writers from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Founded by New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear and former New Yorker managing editor Jacob Lewis, is an online writing community aimed at attracting a membership of young people, ranging from kids to teens and older, to post, share and comment on each other’s original writing. Launched this week….” Note: I’ve had the opportunity to visit with Jacob on a couple of occasions and have participated in a couple of pre-launch activities on the system.

Cynsational Tip: if you’re an illustrator, include a link to your book’s author. If you’re an author, include a link to your book’s illustrator. It’s gracious, offers readers more information, and, hey, it’s their book, too!

How Agents Represent Author/Illustrator Clients by Mary Kole from Peek: “All of my illustrators came to books from being artists first, writers second. It is much easier to hone the picture book writing side of a creator’s craft (though it’s still very difficult to write a timeless, smash hit picture book) than it is to teach them art.”

Congratulations to Tim Wynne-Jones on the release of Rex Zero and the Great Pretender (FSG, 2010)(excerpt)! From the promotional copy: “Rex Zero’s family is moving, again, this time to a different school district, and his old friends will probably forget he even exists. What’s more, a trio of bullies is out to get him. Rex’s wild and funny adventures continue as he stumbles into seventh grade, pretending to be someone he’s not, and using his overactive imagination to resolve one of life’s most vexing problems: just when everything is going well, why does it have to change?” In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews calls the novel, “Genuinely wholesome, packed with affectionate humor, tension and joy.” See also the media kit for Tim’s upcoming release, Blink and Caution (Candlewick, March 11, 2011)(PDF).

Re-submissions and Re-querying: Yes or No? by Stina Lindenblatt from QueryTracker. Peek: “What should you do if you’ve queried an agent with sample pages, but by the time they’ve request the partial or full, you’ve made substantial changes to those pages?”

What Makes a Great First Page? by Alvina Ling from Blue Rose Girls. Peek: “I can definitely gauge how talented a writer is based on the first page. In fact, because authors know the first page is so important, they tend to spend a lot of time revising that first page (if they’re smart!).”

What To Expect When You’re…On Submission by Elizabeth Fama from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “When your agent tells you the names of the editors on your submission list, it’s a little like learning that you’re pregnant.'”

Cover Stories: Matched by Ally Condie from Melissa Walker. Peek: “The dress is beautiful and has significance to the story, as does the bubble/glass world and the color green.” Peek: “Matched was just named #1 on the Winter 2010-2011 Kid’s Indie Next List. “

Don’t Write the Obit For Picture Books Yet by Karen Springen from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Several publishers PW spoke with disagreed with the Times reporter who wrote about the declining importance and popularity of picture books. ‘I don’t really see this phenomenon she’s talking about,’ said Karen Lotz, publisher of Candlewick Press. ‘I definitely don’t think it’s so bleak,’ said Mary Ann Sabia, v-p and associate publisher of Charlesbridge Publishing.”

What We Talk About When We Talk about Picture Books by Rebecca Sherman, agent at Writers House, from Blue Rose Girls. Peek: “While I can understand that $17.99 per book prohibits many parents from creating an at home library of books for toddlers, the lack of individual consumers contributing to the picture book economy is more troublesome with the decline of government funding for school and public libraries. This means children may not be exposed to great picture books because of financial restrictions of his parents and her country both.”

New Agent Alert: Brianne Mulligan of Movable Type Literary Group by Chuck Sambuchino from Guide to Literary Agent’s Editor’s Blog. Peek: seeking “high-concept YA and middle grade fiction.”

The Very Best Way to Go Out of Print by Laurel Snyder. Peek: “So I asked how many books they had in the warehouse. They told me about 800 copies were left. 800 copies. Only 800? So I did something insane!” See also the Authors Guild Back in Print Program.

I Write History Because I Am History by Saundra Mitchell from Kelsey at The Book Scout. Peek: “I’ve always loved history, and not in a particularly sterile or scholarly way. When I was a child, I could tell you as much about Tutankhamun’s family as I could my own—and once I fell in love with the legacy of a world swallowed by time, I started making connections.” Learn more about Saundra’s upcoming novel, The Vespertine (Harcourt, March 2011). See also Saundra’s blog, Making Up Stuff for a Living.

From Start to Finish by Jim Murphy from I.N.K.: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: “…when I do back matter, I ask myself who this is really for. I’ve noticed in recent years that some writers take a very formal approach to this information, as if they are trying to establish their scholarly street creds for reviewers and award committees. Personally, I think most young readers (and their parents) are scared off by such a heavy-handed, academic approach.” Note: Jim is a two-time Newbery Honor Book and Sibert Award winning author. He’s also the winner of the 2010 Margaret Edwards Award for significant contribution to young adult literature.

Books, Boots & Buckskin: 2011 Austin Regional SCBWI Conference Contest from ARA Carmen Oliver from Following My Dreams. Prizes include saved front-row seats. Deadline: Feb. 1. Note: conference dates are Feb. 18 and Feb. 19 at St. Edward’s University in Austin; see more information.

2010 YA Books Central Reader’s Choice Nominations from YABC. Peek: “This year, YABC is hosting our own Reader’s Choice Awards for 2010! We’ll be collecting your nominations until Sunday, Dec. 19. Then, on Monday the 20th, we’ll open the voting for your favorites….” Note: picture book, middle grade, and YA author and book categories. Go nominate!

GregLSBlog Favorites of 2010 from Greg Leitich Smith. Note: book pics from picture books through YA. Here’s a peek (above) at his middle grade choices.

Too Many Cooks – How Do You Handle Conflicting Critiques? by Mary Lindsey from QueryTracker. Peek: “First, as with all criticism, do not take it personally or you cannot objectively evaluate the input. Then, consider the source. How well do you know this person? What are his/her qualifications?”

World Building Through Character by Anna Staniszewski from annastan. Peek: “Build as you go, allowing your characters to lead you.”

Whether to Give Up on a Project by Jennifer R. Hubbard from writerjenn. Peek: “Sometimes the magic leaves a project. We don’t get to the ending, or maybe we don’t get to turn that early draft into the book it could be.”

Where Do I Go From Here?: 3 Literary Agents, 3 Opinions: a one-day workshop from Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Literary Agency, Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson Associates, and Ann Tobias of A Literary Agency for Children’s Books from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 6 at The New York Open Center, 22 East 30th Street, New York NY 10016. (This event is not affiliated with The New York Open Center.) Fee: $295.00 to February 6, $325.00 thereafter (lunch included). Group size is limited; previous workshops have sold out.

Lindsey Scheibe: new blog from an Austin-based YA writer, represented by Mandy Hubbard of D4E0 Literary Agency. Peek: “For now, I hope to put up three blogs each week. One personal. One writing focused. One highlighting writing related blogs or sites that I admire and find enlightening.” More about Lindsey: “She volunteered with Makarios the past two years, as well as visited their missionary school in the Dominican Republic where they service Haitian and Dominican children.”

Do What You Do Well by Brian Yansky from Brian’s Blog – Writer Talk. Peek: “The truth was maybe one or two could write beautiful prose (and this was in a large group of talented writers). Most just didn’t have that gift. But instead of struggling to develop what gifts they did have they got caught up on language because that was what all the teachers praised most.”

Cynsational Screening Room

Check out the book trailer for Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus (Egmont, 2010). Anna lives in Austin, Texas; and Shadow Hills is her debut novel.

Check out the book trailer for Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile (Candlewick, 2010). Read a sample chapter (PDF). Bink and Gollie has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. It’s been named to the following lists: Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year; Kirkus Reviews – Best Children’s Books of the Year; and New York Times Book Review 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books.

Check out the book trailer for Fearless: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Scott Dawson (Dutton, 2010). In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “This debut for both author and illustrator is a winner!” See teacher activities (PDF).

In this video, debut author Trent Reedy and editor Cheryl Klein talk about Words in the Dust, Part I (Arthur A. Levine, Jan. 1, 2011); don’t miss part two, immediately below.

In part two, Trent and Cheryl continue their conversation.

Austin Scene

Austin SCBWI members gathered last week at Opal Divine’s Marina for fajitas and holiday cheer.

Author-illustrator Don Tate with illustrator Erik Kuntz.

Authors Jessica Lee Anderson and Margo Rabb.

More Personally

I’m honored to announce that my essay, “Isolation,” will appear in Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories, edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones (HarperTeen, fall 2011). A percentage of the book’s proceeds will go to a national anti-bullying program. See also Anthology to Compile Authors’ Personal Stories About Bullying by Sally Lodge from Publishers Weekly.

The Horn Book magazine says of my new picture book, Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton, 2010): “Lively prose is complemented by an exuberant design and palette. Humorous details are found on every spread… The tornado, with a mouth of its own, adds an extra dab of perfect hilarity. A fabulous read-aloud that everyone will ‘HUSH!’ to hear.” See sidebar for the Holler Loudly teacher guides.

Kid Review: Jake is Blown Away by Holler Loudly from Pat Zietlow Miller at Read, Write, Repeat: Inside the Mind of a Children’s Book Lover. Jake’s favorite line: “And you’d best skedaddle!” Note: click for the photo of Jake–love it!

Cynthia Leitich Smith: Children’s Book Author Interview by Aaron Mead from Children’s Books and Reviews. Note: I talk about my writing, life on line, and offer advice to beginners. Peek: “A picture book is like a puzzle, getting just the right combination of words and elements. A novel is more like an endurance trek, uphill in the rain, carrying a rhino on your back. I love both.”

Great Gifts for the Paranormal Romantic by Madeline from BookKids at BookPeople in Austin. Suggestions include Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009, 2010) and more by other nifty YA fantasy authors.

Steven R. McEvoy says of Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001): “…an amazing story and one I know I will read again and again, for myself and to my daughters.” See the whole review.

Thanks also to Katiebuggy129 for this writing project video on Eternal! Cynsational readers–I love the songs and comments! Great voice and humor! Wow!

Bid for a chance to win a piece of unique autographed Critter art to benefit St. Jude. Note: features autographs by a variety of authors, including me. Learn about Critter’s travels in the side bar of Christy’s Creative Space. Deadline: Dec. 18.

Author Kathi Appelt stopped by for a signed copy of Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton, 2010). See a guest post by Kathi on Keeper (Atheneum, 2010) from The Brain Lair. Peek: “Like the whistle, objects in fiction become a tiny bit magical. We call them ‘endowed objects,’ because we endow them with special properties, special memories, special significance.” Visit all the stops on Kathi’s blog tour!

And the Christmas train is chugging around the kitchen table.

Link of the Week: Bags get bookish: ‘intellectual’ clutch bags by Olympia Le-Tan from Fashion Telegraph. Source: April Henry.

Please note that I’m in the deadline cave and restrain from sending any non-critical messages.

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.

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!