Cynsational News & Giveaways

Picture Book Marathon from Jean Reagan and Lora Koehler. Sign up by Jan. 30. Peek: “Basically this is a Nanowrimo for picture books. After all, we don’t want those novel-writers to have all the fun, right? In a month, we’ll each create 26 picture books.” See also story starters and the marathon blog. See also The Don Freeman Memorial Grant-In-Aid, established by SCBWI “to enable picture-book artists to further their understanding, training, and work in the picture-book genre” from Kathy Temean at Writing and Illustrating.

What I Really Want to Do Is Direct: a guest post by literary agent Rebecca Sherman from Blue Rose Girls. Peek: “I want to see a rarely used locale, time period or historical event shaping the story and the protagonist without dominating the text.”

Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Queried by K.M. Walton from Some Things I Think. Peek: “I wish I didn’t compare my query journey to other writers. Yes, I know it’s human nature, but it’s also extremely unhealthy and seriously gets in the way of success.”

Pamela Paul Named Children’s Book Editor at the New York Times Book Review by Diane Roback from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Paul is a journalist and book critic, is the author of three nonfiction books, and is a columnist for the NYT’s Style section. She has also been book critic for the Economist, and she began her career at Scholastic, where she was an editor and managed a book club.”

Congratulations to Kerry Madden for signing with Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown, Ltd., and congratulations to Ginger for signing Kerry!

SCBWI Team Blog Pre-Conference Interview: Editors & Agents on Interacting with Them by Alice Pope from Alice Pope’s SCBWI Blog. Insights from editors Krista Marino (Delacorte), Francesco Sedita (Penguin), and Kate Sullivan (Little, Brown); and agents Kerry Sparks (Levine/Greenberg) and Mary Kole (Andrea Brown). From Krista: “Aggressive, abrasive behavior will turn me away from even the most promising manuscript.”

Teach with Picture Books: a blog from Keith Schoch. See also How to Teach a Novel.

Querying the Cliche by Jane Lebak from Query Tracker. Peek: “Remember that a cliché is a shortcut. And when you use one to describe your own work, you’re giving only a surface rendering of a story with depth. Work harder. Give it that depth.”

Wernick & Pratt: new literary agency founded by Marcia Wernick and Linda Pratt, both formerly of the Sheldon Fogelman Agency. Source: SCBWI Brazos Valley via Publishers Weekly. Peek: “…represent established and emerging authors and illustrators, whose work ranges from fiction to non-fiction, from very young picture books and novelty books, through early readers, middle grade and young adult novels.”

Taming That To-Do List by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “If you are a published writer, a lot of those To Dos probably pertain to the business side of things. But here’s the kicker: you get to decide precisely which business things those entail.”

Every Author’s Two Audiences by Janet Kobobel Grant from Books & Such. Peek: “Authors often don’t know when they should communicate with their publisher. They don’t want to be pests, but this reluctance to communicate can cause serious repercussions.” Source: Kristi Holl from Writer’s First Aid.

Harold at Highlights

Harold Underdown will be working with the Highlights Foundation this year in two different workshops. From March 10 to March 13, at the Highlights Founders Workshop site near Honesdale, Pennsylvania, he will introduce proven techniques for self-editing and for revising. The goal is not so much to revise a manuscript (though participants will) but to increase their ability to revise on their own or by working with other writers! Harold will be joined by children’s book editor Eileen Robinson, who runs F1rst Pages. Harold and Eileen will be drawing on their experience working in-house as editors and running their Kid’s Book Revisions workshop to help writers to think like editors.

The workshop is limited to twelve writers: information and an application form can be found at the Highlights Foundation website. Or you may phone Jo Lloyd at 570.253.1192, or e-mail, to request an application.

Harold will also be teaching this summer at the Highlights Foundation’s 2011 Writer’s Workshop at Chautauqua, from July 16th to July 23. Scholarship applications are due Feb. 11.

Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week: Tips and Resources for YALSA’s Initiatives

Congratulations to Megan Fink on the release of Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week: Tips and Resources for YALSA’s Initiatives (YALSA, 2010). From the promotional copy:

Each year, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) sponsors two national literacy initiatives: Teen Read Week™, which encourages teens to read for fun and become regular library users, and Teen Tech Week™, which encourages teens to take advantage of the free technology available at libraries. Since 2003, YALSA’s award-winning quarterly journal, Young Adult Library Services has offered guidance for librarians planning Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week events.

For the first time, YALSA has compiled the best YALS articles on teen reading and teen information literacy into one volume, Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week: Tips and Resources for YALSA’s Initiatives, launching its new Best of YALS series. Editor Megan Fink, middle school librarian at the Charlotte Country Day School and a former Teen Read Week chair, selected articles to form a manual that will offer guidance to librarians planning their annual events, with advice on best practices, collection development, outreach and marketing, program ideas and more.

In addition, YA authors Walter Dean Myers and Cynthia Leitich Smith and Best Teen Read Week contest winners Elizabeth Kahn and Jennifer Velásquez contributed original content about the importance of these initiatives and how they support teens’ information needs, along with an introduction by YALSA past president Judy Nelson.
See more information.

Cynsational Screening Room

Check out the book trailer for Mr. Duck Means Business by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Jeff Mack (Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster):

Hooray for the 2011 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winners! Note: “…honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience.”

More Personally

Blessed is now available from Candlewick! Thanks to everyone who’s read, blogged, tweeted, facebooked or otherwise made noise about the novel! It means a lot to me.

Meanwhile, I continue to work on book four in the Tantalize series, which picks up several plot threads from Eternal and one from Blessed.

It’s terrific to be wholly immersed in new novel as the previous one is coming out. I only have so much time to indulge release jitters. As great as it is, being an author, it’s being a writer that keeps me grounded and happy.

I also received the exciting news from my editor that the graphic novel Eternal: Zachary’s Story is green-lighted to be sent onto illustrator Ming Doyle.

Highlights of the past week include a Writers’ League of Texas author event on “Inspiration: The First Glimmer of a Book Idea” at BookPeople in Austin. Here, Bethany Hegedus moderates a panel, featuring Jennifer Ziegler, Brian Yansky and Stephen Harrigan. The program was a kickoff to the 2011 Third Thursday series: Building a Book. See also the League’s YA A to Z Conference April 15 and April 16 in Austin.

Guest Post: Cynthia Leitich Smith from Libba Bray. Peek: “I fault Stephen King for my coulrophobia and treasure my tattered copy of V.C. Andrews’ Incest in the Attic series. I was a Whedonesque slayer in a former life.”

Book Giveaway and Teaching Author Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith by Carmela Martino from Teaching Authors: Six Children’s Authors Who Also Teach Writing. Peek: ” What I typically suggest to my students is to physically act out a scene. Literally step into the moment and movement(s). Or to perhaps sketch out a map of the town or bedroom, so that it’s easier for them to mentally move their cast around and describe that on the page.” Giveaway deadline: Feb. 2.

Quotable — Cynthia Leitich Smith by Lindsey Lane from The Meandering Lane. Peek: “…today is about Cyn’s favorite quote, the one that stokes her writer engine.”

Character Interviews with Quincie and Brad by Valorie from Truth Be Told.

  • Peek: Peek from Brad (on what he looks forward to in the future): “Flying cars! I’ve been promised flying cars for decades, and where are they? Beyond that, I look forward to the day when Quincie accepts the inevitable and agrees to join me in our eternal life together.”
  • Peek from Quincie: “f some smooth-talking, older guy starts plying you with liquor, flattering you, and trying to impress you when you’re most vulnerable because of, say, your parents divorce or a death in the family or a falling out with your best friend, run the hell away from the jerk. Now, fast, go!”

Blessed Character Interview with Zachary & Giveaway from Girls in the Stacks. Peek: “I missed the amazing, self-proclaimed quirky weirdness of Austin.”

Blessed Reviews

Greg and I celebrated release day at Amy’s Ice Creams in Austin; see photo of our server.

Blessed: A Delicious and Deadly Treat by Norah Piehl from BookPage. Peek: “…smart, sexy…her homage to Stoker’s classic novel is most apparent, as she uses the book’s characters for inspiration, its plot for structure and its themes for a rich background that will lead many readers to (re)discover the original Dracula even as they enjoy this darkly humorous send-up.”

Blessed Review by Kristen from Bookworming in the 21rst Century. Peek: “For a book nearing 500 pages long, the story flew by fast, filled with action and emotional turmoil. I absolutely loved this book and hope there will be more.”

Blessed Review from BookChic. Peek: “I love this trilogy of books and how, in this one, Smith merged the casts from the previous two books, Tantalize and Eternal. She did a wonderful job doing it and it felt right. I really enjoyed revisiting these characters and I fell into a rhythm even though it’s been a long time since reading both (though less time from Eternal but Blessed is mostly from Quincie’s perspective from Tantalize).”

Blessed Review by Jillian Van Leer from Young Adult Book Central. Peek: “I really enjoyed all the action, the love, the betrayal, everything! If you have read the first two books in this series (and even if you haven’t!) go out and get this book!”

Blessed Giveaways

Enter to win the Blessed Grand Prize Giveaway from Cynsations. Deadline: Jan. 31.

Blessed Blog Tour & ARC/Prize Package Giveaways by Kari from The Teen {Book} Scene. See individual sites on this online tour for specific prize entry information.

Blessed Online Countdown Event by Valorie from Truth Be Told. Valorie is posting reviews, book trailers, teaser excerpts, giveaways, and author-and-character interviews. Giveaway deadline: 11 p.m. PST Jan. 24. See details.

See also the Teaching Authors Giveaway. Deadline: Feb. 2.

Blessed Launch Party

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!

The winner of an autographed copy of Night School was Kaya in Oregon.

More Cynsational Events

Blessed In-Person Author Tour Schedule in Central Texas and the Northeastern U.S.: sponsored by Candlewick Press. Are you in Austin, New York, New Jersey, or the Philly area? Come join me along the way!

12th Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 19 in Fort Myers, Florida. Note: speakers include Cynthia Leitich Smith.

SCBWI-Wisconsin Novel Revision Workshop with author Cynthia Leitich Smith from March 25 to March 27. Note: “Registration is limited to 25 persons.”


Blessed celebratory ice cream–Darth chocolate with hot chocolate sauce and pecans.

2 thoughts on “Cynsational News & Giveaways

  1. Your book launch was funnnn! I enjoyed every minute of it, all of the writing pointers were greatly appreciated! Your outfits rocked and it was awesome meeting both of you!! 🙂


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