Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win an autographed copy of Night School by Mari Mancusi (Book Five in the Blood Coven vampire series)(Berkley)! From the promotional copy:

Vampires, Slayers and…fairies?

Sunny and Rayne McDonald are about to get schooled.

After their parents’ shocking revelation about their fae heritage and an attack on their lives, the McDonald twins find themselves on the run—forced to hide out at Riverdale Academy, a boarding school for vampire slayers, deep in the Swiss Alps. With no cells, no internet, and no way to contact their vampire boyfriends—the twins are on their own.

Being a vampire stuck in a school full of slayers isn’t easy. Especially with no blood substitute stocked on campus.

Soon Rayne finds herself succumbing to her bloodlust and losing control—especially around the arrogant, but devastatingly handsome Corbin Billingsworth the Third—who isn’t sure whether he wants to kiss her…or kill her.

But when Sunny starts acting strange, Rayne realizes Riverdale Academy may be hiding some deadly secrets of its own—leading to a showdown in Fairyland that may cost the twins their lives.

To enter, comment or email me (scroll and click envelope) and type “Night School” in the subject line. Deadline: Jan. 21. Sponsored by the author; U.S. entries only.

Note: Joint Launch Party: Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick) and Night School by Mari Mancusi (Berkley) presentation and signing at 2 p.m. Jan. 29 at BookPeople in Austin. See details under “Cynsational Events” below!

More News & Giveaways

2010 Cybils Finalists from the Cybils 2010: Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards. Note: fresh, fierce picks in every category. Take a look! Read a Cynsations interview with middle-grade fiction finalist Lisa Railsback.

The Creative Life Workshops from Children’s Literature Network. Two long-time SCBWI members/children’s authors (Lisa Bullard and Laura Purdie Salas) are offering a series of online classes that will give you the inside scoop on how to submit your manuscript to a publisher. “Matchmaking Your Manuscript” offers guidance on how to create a “hit list” of the editors/agents that are the ideal targets for your manuscript. “Love at First Sight” offers personalized feedback to help you create a powerful and professional cover letter. The classes will cover manuscripts for children and young adults in all genres. Sessions begin Jan. 13. See more information.

See also Finding a Publisher Is a Lot Like Dating by Lisa and Laura from Donna Gephart at Wild About Words.

Lisa Yee is the author of the two American Girl “2011 Girl of the Year” books, Aloha, Kanani and Good Job, Kanani! See the whole scoop!

16 Must-Have Elements for a Successful Novel by Kathy Temean from Writing and Illustrating. Peek: “Only two thousand words – a suggestion only to change the subject as often as every two thousand words to keep the interest of readers who are growing up as members of the Twitter-Facebook-texting-random-browsing generation.”

Writing Jewish-Themed Children’s Books: a workshop May 15 to May 18 from Highlights Foundation. Peek: “Unlike a one-day conference, this workshop includes one-on-one manuscript critiques with an expert in Jewish children’s literature or an editor; an editor panel; a discussion of Jewish children’s books with prominent Jewish librarian Linda Silver, author of Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens; and real-time writing with immediate critique.” Note: speakers include Margery Cuyler, Publisher, Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books/Shofar Books and Ruth Katcher, Editor-at-Large, Egmont USA.

Are You Ready for an Agent? by Tabitha from Writer Musings. Note: insights from agents Jennifer Matteson and Edward Necarsulmer IV. Peek: “Unless you’ve got several sales under your belt that are doing well, don’t pitch an idea or concept with sample chapters in a query. Agents and editors need to see the completed manuscript for fiction.”

SCBWI Team Blog Interview with Simon & Schuster Associate Art Director Lucy Ruth Cummins by Jaime Temairik from Cocoastomp. Peek: “I love such a range of things, but I’m mainly looking for things I’m touched by. I love cute. I love simple. But I also love creepy and detailed!” See also an interview with Denise Cronin, Vice President in the Penguin Young Readers Group and Art Director.

How to Avoid Getting an Agent by Rachelle Gardner from Rants & Ramblings of On Life as a Literary Agent. Peek: “Sometimes we Google your name if we like your writing and are considering discussing representation with you. If we find things that scare us away, you’ll never know we were even investigating you. You’ll get a form rejection.”

Immigration: Coming to America by Kristin Anderson from School Library Journal. Peek: “Through reading about an immigrant’s experience, non-immigrant children and teens learn to empathize with those they might see as ‘different,’ and those who come from an immigrant background learn that they are not alone.” Note: annotated bibliography of recommended books for elementary and secondary readers.

Voices You Should Hear: Bethany Hegedus on Character by Janet S. Fox from Through the Wardrobe. Peek: “‘Ensemble pieces,’ is a phrase that is most heard when discussing acting. It could be bandied about when seeing a film, a play or even a sitcom such as ‘Modern Family’ or a dramedy such as ‘Parenthood.’ Interesting to note, these are both current popular TV ensembles that are based around families—-but there are others.”

Home and Work are Here by Janice Shefelman from Inside Shefelman Books. A peek into the lives, process, and home of a married children’s book creating team. Peek: “We live in a playful tree house designed by my architect, Tom. It is made of cedar and glass and perches on the edge of a bluff overlooking Shoal Creek greenbelt, thus the name Shoal Creek Studios.”

The Highlights Foundation offers scholarships to fund writers at their Chautauqua workshops. Scholarship applications must be postmarked no later than Feb. 11. For information, contact Jo Lloyd, 877.512.8365 or e-mail See scholarship newsletter.

Readers Choice 2010 Winners from Young Adult Books Central. Note: special congratulations to Austin pal, Chris Barton, whose Shark vs. Train (Little, Brown, 2010) is the winner of favorite children’s/picture book.

Congratulations to Rita Williams-Garcia, winner of the 2011 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction for One Crazy Sumer (HarperCollins, 2010)! Source: Read Roger. Note: Rita is highly recommended as a speaker.

Cynsational Tip: It’s a new year! Don’t forget to update the copyright year on your blogs and websites to 2011.

How Much to Sell Yourself by Mary Kole from Peek: “Where’s the line between confident and bombastic?”

Rearranging the Teen Shelves, compiled by Megan Crew from The Enchanted Inkpot. Authors weigh in on Barnes & Noble‘s recent decision to display books by genre/category.

Manuscript Submissions Etiquette by The Buried Editor from Buried in the Slush Pile at CBAY Books. A list of tips for electronic submissions. Peek: “If you are doing multiple submissions, you need to send multiple emails.”

Children’s Book Hub

Bestselling children’s book author, editor and educator Emma Walton Hamilton has announced the launch of the Children’s Book Hub, a membership-based “virtual salon,” providing information, resources and support for aspiring and established children’s book authors.

For a monthly fee of $19.95, Hub members receive access to regular teleseminars featuring expert interviews with authors, editors, agents and other notable members of the children’s book industry, as well as question-and-answer calls addressing specific member concerns and recordings after each event.

In addition, the site offers monthly newsletters, a Members’ Forum community of support, information about industry trends and resources, and numerous resource materials such as lists of publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts, editing checklists, manuscript submission information, as well as writing tools and marketing information and ideas.

“In addition to writing, I have been teaching, providing editorial services and blogging on topics of interest to children’s book authors for a number of years,” says Emma. “It’s enormously gratifying to help others fulfill their dreams of touching the minds and hearts of the next generation. The Hub is the next logical step in that process.”

Read a Cynsations interview with Emma.

Cynsational Books of 2010 & Beyond

For those who missed it, I shared my list of Cynsational Books of 2010 on Dec. 31. It includes book trailers and links to more information on each.

While I wholeheartedly and enthusiastically recommend each one, I’d like to emphasize once more that it’s not a complete list of 2010 recommendations. I’m one person. I’m still reading 2010 releases, though I’ve already started on the 2011 books, too.

For example, I’m quite taken with Cheryl Rainfield‘s Scars (WestSide, 2011), but I’ve been reading it slowly. I’m not quite to the end. It’s the kind of book that demands a lot of the reader, and that’s a great thing. But I’m very sensitive, and sometimes I have to put it down and come back later. I’m sure that once I’m through, it’ll be one of my all-time favorites.

Likewise, Jennifer R. Hubbard strikes me as quite likely to win the Printz someday. But I set her book down with a few pages to go, and now I can’t find it. (Possibly Greg pinched it!). Ditto Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and an eventual Newbery.

Another 2010 title to fall in love with? Janet S. Fox‘s Faithful (Speak/Penguin, 2010). Don’t miss it.

Finally, I’d like to cheer an ongoing series, Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm (Random House), as the number one children’s book checked out of the New York Public Library in 2010.

Cynsations is an ongoing conversation of books. So expect me to keep referencing those published last year (and before that).

Holiday Highlights

Did you take a holiday vacation? Here’s what you missed at Cynsations:

New Voice: Shaun David Hutchinson on The Deathday Letter (comedic writing and plotting vs. plunging)(“maybe there’s someone out there whose every kiss has been fairy-tale magic wrapped up in candy-cane bows. Without a similar experience to draw from, that person might read my story and simply think me a sad, sorry individual. But that’s the risk you take.”);

Suzanne Slade on Climbing Lincoln’s Steps: The African American Journey (how Martin, Marian and Barack inspired the author);

Dee Garretson on Wildfire Run (getting to know protagonist; writing around changing technologies)(“In ten years, will a young reader realize lack of cell phone service is a logical problem characters might face in the time the story is set? I don’t think so.”)

Ilsa J. Bick on Draw the Dark (on researching German PW camps in Wisconsin and how she connected with Carolrhoda editor Andrew Karre)

Greg van Eekhout on Kid vs. Squid (on character building, inspirational fantasy books, and promotion)(“His best weapon is his smart alec mouth, and my biggest challenge writing him was getting him to shut up.”)

Cynsational Screening Room

Get to know the Class of 2k11: Debut YA and Middle Grade Authors:

And get to know The Elevensies:

Check out the book trailer for Desires of the Dead (A Body Finder Novel) by Kimberly Derting (Harper, Feb. 15, 2011). Source: Jen Bigheart from I Read Banned Books.

Author Kathi Appelt answers questions about Keeper (Atheneum, 2010):

More Personally

Great news! Cynsations at Blogger now welcomes comments, so you no longer have to surf over to Cynsations at LiveJournal to chime in. Also, I’ve changed the design template. I liked the whimsical nature of the previous one. But I’m hopeful that this format is easier to read. What do you think?

On a related note, Nathan Bransford discusses How to Write a Good Blog Comment. As always, he has smart things to say, but no pressure from me. I’d be happy with the occasional “howdy.”

School Library Journal cheers my latest picture book, Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton, 2010)(illustrator interview): “This original tall tale with its highly energetic, brightly colored illustrations has expressive typeface showing the word ‘LOUD’ repeatedly in bold capital letters. Readers as well as listeners will have fun with this animated story, and the Southwestern twang will just come naturally.” See sidebar for teacher’s guides.

On the YA front, here’s a terrific teen review of Blessed from School Library Journal: “A beautiful novel that ties together two other amazing books, Tantalize and Eternal, this story has wonderful characters and a timeless setting. I felt that I had glue on my hands—-I just couldn’t put it down! This is a novel for just about any fantasy reader. I would, and will, recommend it to everyone. –-Marissa H., age 14

Turning to the kidlitosphere, Gwenda Bond at Shaken & Stirred says, “This series is set apart by its rich, quirky universe, the way Cyn plays with gender dynamics, and how truly funny and poignant it is. Not to mention it’s in direct conversation with Bram Stoker‘s Dracula. I. Loved. It.”

Thanks also to Reading in Color for featuring Blessed as its Waiting on Wednesday Pick!

Excited about the upcoming release of Blessed? Please feel free to grab a countdown widget for your blog or website with my thanks!

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith ARC giveaway by P.J. “Tricia” Hoover from Roots in Myth. Deadline: midnight Jan. 14. Thank you, Tricia!

Reminder: Blessed: Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith and Giveaway by Jen Bigheart from I Read Banned Books. Peek: “I started making notes on Quincie in late 2001/early 2002, so it’s been quite a journey. She may well have small roles in future books-the graphic novels start coming out in Aug. 2011-but Blessed does conclude her big arc in the prose novels.” Giveaway deadline: midnight CST Jan. 9. Scroll for more information.

Author Insight: Sold or Sell-Out? from Wastepaper Prose and Other Literary Woes. Note: I join 14 other authors in discussing the editorial changes we will make, won’t make and why.

Reminder: Cat Calls E-Book by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2010) is now available for free to Kindle users. See details.

Here just for the monsters? You may want to read Spookycyn instead!

Even More Personally

Last week was my birthday! Here are my flowers from Greg, who’s blogging today at GregLSBlog about living in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, a paleontology museum in a Claremont, California High School, and free “Paleontology for Educators” workshops that they’re providing this winter. In other news, he recommends Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel, 2011).

On a sadder note, one of my favorite local restaurants, Katz’s Deli, closed. It opened in 1979, ironically, with the slogan, “Katz’s Never Closes.” My thanks to Mr. Katz and my waiter, Calvin, for many breakfasts, now-and-again lunches, and the occasional dinner.

Farewell, One Pastrami Center! You (and your kosher breakfast tacos) are already missed.

Here’s a peek at my work in progress. It’s the (still untitled) fourth prose novel in the Tantalize series, and while characters from previous casts are in play, draws more from events in Eternal.

That’s Music Choice (Sounds of the Season) on the television. Special thanks to April Lurie for the Diet Coke. Most appreciated.

Congratulations to Shayne Leighton on the sale of her debut YA novel, Of Light and Darkness, to Decadent Publishing. Shayne created the Tantalize and Eternal book trailers. Don’t miss her new film, “The Incubus.”

Link of the Week: Female Movie Character Rating Scale by Janni Lee Simner. Consider your work in progress with this in mind.

Cynsational Giveaways

Don’t miss the Blessed ARC giveaway by Jen Bigheart from I Read Banned Books or the Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith ARC giveaway by P.J. “Tricia” Hoover from Roots in Myth.

The winner of an illustrator-autographed copy of Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Daniel Jennewein (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins, 2011) is Sheri in California! Note: Sheri requested that Daniel include a drawing of the buffalo reading to his kindergarten teacher.

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. Event will include author talks, Q&A, refreshments and signing. Wear red and black if you’re on the side of Evil or blue and black if you’re on the side of Good. Bonus points (and possible prize) to anyone who dresses up as a vampire, shape shifter, vampire slayer, angel or faerie! 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.

Don’t Miss

Coming this February to the Zach scott, performed by the Zach Scottt’s “youth pre-professional troupe,” a musical based on April Lurie‘s young adult novel, Brothers, Boyfriends, and Other Criminial Minds (Delacorte 2007):

At first glance, April Lundquist seems like your average high school freshman in 1970s Brooklyn. She’s sporting bell bottoms and dancing disco like all of her friends.

But when the Mafia shows up on her doorstep–literally–April finds herself confronted with some tough choices to make.

Will she be able to save her brother, navigate boyfriends, and capture the perfect kiss, all while keeping her cool? Find out in Zach’s world premier production of this new musical for the whole family!

Show times and dates: 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Feb. 5, Feb. 12, and Feb. 19; 6 p.m. Feb. 6, Feb. 13, and Feb. 20. Click here to buy tickets.

23 thoughts on “Cynsational News & Giveaways

  1. I would love a copy of Night School. I loved the snarky dialog in the past book series. They were so much fun to read!


  2. I have seen the great reviews on this book and cannot wait to get my hands on a copy.
    It sounds awesome.

    kasuranna at

  3. I would love to win a copy of Night School!!! Please, enter me and thank you for the giveaway! *fingers crossed* 🙂


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