Cynsational News & Giveaways

Diversity in YA Fiction: founded by YA authors Cindy Pon (Silver Phoenix, Fury of the Phoenix) and Malinda Lo (Ash, Huntress), Diversity in YA seeks to bring attention to MG and YA books featuring people of color and LGBT characters. Peek: “We envision DIYA as a positive, friendly gathering of readers and writers who want to see diversity in their fiction. Every week on our website we’ll be featuring books that include diversity, from realistic, contemporary novels to absorbing historicals and adventurous fantasy.”

Cindy and Malinda will be on tour to at least four cities in 2011. Authors who’ll join them along the way include:

See also Author Bios and Tour Locations pages. Join the mailing list for a final list of locations and more (no more than two emails per month).

More News & Giveaways

Inside the Writer’s Studio with Carrie Jones, author of Entice by Bethany Hegedus from Writer Friendly; Bookshelf Approved. Peek: “I want people to be kind to each other, to look past appearance and labels and just love each other. I know! I know! I’m such a hippie throw-back for a police dispatcher, but I mean it.”

Cool Down Time: Handling Criticism Effectively by Mary Lindsey from Peek: “Rushing into revisions or reacting immediately when you feel defensive will not only make your revisions less effective, it will potentially alienate you from the very people trying to help you become a better writer.”

Two $500 Scholarships for Mystery Writers, given by the annual Helen McCloy/MWA Scholarship program, from April Henry. Deadline: Feb. 28.

Erzsi Deàk Launches HEN & INK – A New Literary Studio and Transmedia Company from Austin SCBWI. Peek: “With a growing list of prize-winning clients and new voices from around the world, president and founder of Hen & Ink, Erzsi Deàk, meets often with publishers in the U.S. and U.K. and aggressively markets domestic and foreign rights.” Note: post includes submission guidelines and manuscript areas of interest.

How Many Picture Books Should I Query? by Mary Kole from Peek: “I tell my picture book writer clients — and these are clients…people who’ve already cleared the ‘hurdle’ — that one out of every ten of their picture book ideas/manuscripts is going to be saleable.”

Lost in Translation, or using symbols when writing multicultural fantasy by Grace Lin from The Enchanted Ink Pot. Peek: “Making assumptions is particularly treacherous when writing multicultural fantasy. An author wants to make fantasy feel authentic to the culture they are nodding to, yet still build a world that takes a reader away from reality.”

What Happened to Your Book Today: A Poem for After the ALA Awards? by Kate Messner. Peek: “Your book may not have won an award today…but some other pretty amazing things happened.”

Deepening Your Characters Needs by Stina Lindenblatt from Query Tracker. Peek: “…the pyramid is divided into five levels. The needs on the bottom level (physiological) have to be satisfied before you can worry about those in the next level (safety and security). Same deal with the third level (love and belonging). The needs in the first two levels have to be dealt with first. This idea continues all the way to the top of the pyramid, to self-actualization.” See also Personality: Creating Real Characters by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes.

Children’s Literature Guide: Elizabeth Kennedy, from Children’s Books and Reviews. Peek: “…the illustrations in a picture book should both complement and extend the written story so the effectiveness and artistic value of the illustrations are part of the criteria I use for picture books. When it comes to fiction for older kids, ‘voice’ becomes particularly important.”

Passionate About Picture Books? from Bethany Hegedus from Hunger Mountain, a VCFA Journal of the Arts. Peek: “For the winter 2011 issue, I am compiling a list of quotes from authors, illustrators, agents, educators and parents to be included in a piece dedicated to the ongoing art and craft of the picture book.”

Free Books Aren’t Free by Saundra Mitchell from Making Up Stuff for a Living. Peek: “I don’t blame my publisher. There’s weak demand for my books, according to my sales figures. Meanwhile, 800 copies of my book (worth about $1200 toward my advance, if everyone paid for a copy) are being downloaded a week.” Note: Saundra’s Shadowed Summer (Delacorte, 2009) is highly recommended. Honors include: 2009 Junior Library Guild Selection, 2009 ALAN Pick, 2010 Edgar Nominee (Best YA Mystery), 2010 Society of Midland Authors Book Award (Best Children’s), 2010 VOYA Summer Reading List. Please vote for more books by Saundra by buying/ordering it or checking it out of your local library. Learn about her upcoming release, The Vespertine (Harcourt, 2011).

Where Do Ideas Come From? by Brian Yansky from Brian’s Blog: Writer Talk. Peek: “I like to say I get them in a little store out in West Texas somewhere near Marfa.” Note: Brian’s Blog is smart, wry, and conversational. Highly recommended.

Applying the Women-in-Movies Test to Race-in-Stories by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Note: give both a try. Consider the books you write, the books you read.

More Personally

An Open Love Letter to Debut Authors About Hurtful Online Reviews by Cynthia Leitich Smith from Cynsations. See also Writers and Depression by Nancy Etchemendy from the Horror Writers Association. Note: I’m re-running both of these links periodically.

Whether you’re someone who prays or sends good thoughts, please send them to L.K. Madigan and her family.

Booklist says of Blessed: “Sure, the vampires, werewolves, and angels provide the lure, but Smith’s obvious affection for her characters makes this more…. Pretty lengthy, but if this is your cup of tea, you’ll relish it.”

I was jazzed to see a Blessed poster at the Candlewick booth in Mary Kole’s ALA Midwinter Report at

Reminder: Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith ARC giveaway by P.J. “Tricia” Hoover from Roots in Myth. Note: extra ARC added to giveaway! Two copies available! Deadline: tonight! – midnight Jan. 14.

Local Link of the Week: Donating Books to the Austin Children’s Shelter by Stephanie from Stephanie, A History.

Blessed Grand Prize Giveaway

Enter to win the Blessed grand prize giveaway from Cynsations! The prize package includes: final hardcover of Blessed (Candlewick, 2011); magnetic Sanguini’s menu wipe board with pen that reads, “Stop in for a late-night bite;” Sanguini’s magnet; laminated poster from the movie “Dracula,” (1931); dragon finger puppet; wolf finger puppet; plush bat stuffed toy; Tantalize postcards; series tie-in buttons; angel wing charm; and Dracula by Bram Stoker, illustrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert, retold by Nicky Raven (Templar/Candlewick, 2010)(view an inside spread).

To enter, leave a comment at this post at Blogger or this post at LiveJournal!

For an extra entry(s): Post, share, tweet, whatever works:

(a) this giveaway and/or (b) the Blessed book trailer and/or a Blessed countdown widget;

and include the URL in your comment!

Also, make sure to include contact information in case you win. Author-publisher sponsored. U.S./Canada entries only. Deadline: Jan. 31.

Truth Be Told Blessed Countdown & Giveaway

Blessed Online Countdown Event by Valorie from Truth Be Told. Valorie will be posting reviews, book trailers, teaser excerpts, and fun author-and-character interviews. She’s giving away two bookplate-autographed copies of Blessed, each with a Magnetic Sanguini’s menu wipe board and pen. She’s also giving away one board to (a) a random commenter and another to (b) “a person who helps promote the release of the book, randomly chosen based on tweets, adding it to goodreads, and blogging. It will go to someone who didn’t win the hardcover.” Giveaway deadline: 11 p.m. PST Jan. 24. See details.

See Teaser Tuesday (features two short excerpts from Tantalize) and an Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith (features, short, romantic excerpt from Blessed) from Valorie from Truth Be Told. Peek: “Both of the previous novels end with calls to action, either express or implied. Loose ends, if you will, that I wanted to more fully address, and I felt that both of those characters [Quincie and Zachary] deserved the chance to reach their full potential.”

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.

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!

Comment here for a chance to win an autographed copy of Night School! Deadline: Jan. 21.

Note: Mari will be signing all the Blood Coven books at the Pflugerville, Texas HEB (1434 Wells Branch Pkwy) from noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 15. She’ll also be giving away bookmarks.