Cynsational News & NE Tour Report

Children’s Author Stephanie Barden: official author site features biography, character blog, book info, contact information. Stephanie’s first book, Cinderella Smith, illustrated by Diane Goode (Harper) comes out in April. Two additional Cinderella Smith books have been purchased by HarperCollins.

E-Book Sales Rise in Children’s and Young Adult Categories by Julie Bosman from The New York Times. Peek: “In 2010 young-adult e-books made up about 6 percent of the total digital sales for titles published by St. Martin’s Press, but so far in 2011, the number is up to 20 percent, a spokeswoman for the publisher said.” Source: Varian Johnson.

At Tools of Change, Former ABC Director Kristen McLean to Discuss New Venture, Bookigee by Andrew Albanese from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Created with input from a ‘team of innovators’ in fields ranging from specialty design to retail, editorial, Silicon Valley tech, engineering, bookselling and book marketing, Bookigee has an admittedly ambitious goal—in essence, to begin reshaping a consumer process that has become entrenched over decades, but also somewhat inefficient.”

The Do’s, Don’t’s and “Stuff” of Writer Conferences by Donna Bowman Bratton from Writing Down the Kidlit Page. Peek: “When you find yourself in the room with revered editors, agents, and award-winning authors, there are certain rules of etiquette you should abide by.”

Author Skype Tour Blog: “a place where authors, teachers, and librarians can connect to help readers discover great new titles and learn more about writing. There are already great Skype-author resources like the Skype-an-Author Network and Kate Messner’s list of authors who do free, 20-minute chats with classes & book clubs that have read their books. But sometimes, teachers & librarians may want to connect with an author whose books students haven’t read yet…and sometimes, authors may want to talk with groups that haven’t read a book yet, to help get the word out about a new title. That’s what this site is for.”

The winners of the seventh annual Green Earth Book Award are: The Earth Book by Todd Parr (Little Brown); Not Your Typical Book About the Environment by Elin Kelsey, illustrated by Clayton Hanmer (Owlkids); Mallory Goes Green by Laurie B. Friedman, illustrated by Jennifer Kalis (Darby Creek); and Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald (Candlewick). See more on the winners and honor books. “The Green Earth Book Award is the nation’s first environmental stewardship book award for children and young adult literature. Over 135 books were nominated in four categories. NMF presents the awards April 5 at the Salisbury University Literary Book Festival in Maryland. Author presentations and book signings at university seminars and local elementary schools are scheduled for April 6. Each award includes $2,000 to the winning author and illustrator, as well as the contribution of winning books to schools and youth organizations in the Greater Washington, D.C. area.”

Managing Information Overload by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “I have no trouble producing pages, it’s the blocking out unnecessary ‘information’ that lurks everywhere, promising to inform and enlighten me to within an inch of my life.”

Teachers and Librarians Love Book Trailers by Darcy Pattison from Greg Pincus at The Happy Accident. Peek: “That is 99% of librarians surveyed who think trailers are effective. Wow!” See also Five Ways Your Characters’ Job Affects Your Novel by Darcy from Fiction Notes.

Two Literary Agents by Kathy Temean from Writing and Illustrating. Learn what Molly Jaffa of Folio and Christina Hogrebe of Jane Rotrosen Agency are seeking in manuscripts/clients. Note: in New Jersey, all of the buzz was about the upcoming NJ SCBWI Annual Conference June 3 to June 5 in Princeton. We’re talking a mega list of editors, agents, and authors–well worth the trip! Early bird rate deadline: March 1.

Reminder: The Brown Bookshelf’s 28 Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature is ongoing. Don’t miss an interview with author-editor Kevin Lewis. Peek: “I honestly believe that you don’t find your way but make your way. No one ever gave me permission to write, or to write for children, or to write about truck and trains and dinosaurs.”

Beautiful Back Matter by Deborah Heiligman from I.N.K.: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: “This business of writing for multiple audiences is nowhere more important and challenging than in writing the back matter for nonfiction picture books. Especially, I think, picture book biographies.” See also Digital Books: Will Form Affect Content? by Loreen Leedy from I.N.K.

Promoting Your Own Books: Who Is Your Publisher? by Michelle in Marketing at Boxcars, Books & A Blog AKA Albert Whitman & Company. Peek: “Aside from the first time author (read: lack of brand name) issues inherent in those possibilities, your publisher just might be more concerned with Baker & Taylor and the American Library Association.”

Call for Characters by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: “I’m looking for contrasts in names, height, weight, ethnic background, style of clothing and personality factors. If X loves cats, Y should love lizards. No, not dogs, silly.”

NYC 2011: Sara Zarr gives the speech that she wanted to hear by Candy Gourlay from Notes from the Slush Pile. Peek, quoting an agent: “The time between when you are no longer a beginner but you are not yet in the business is the hardest and no one can tell you how long this phase will last.” Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

Borders Stores Closing from The Wall Street Journal: about 30% of stores; a complete list. See also FAQ for Vendors about Borders Reorganization from Borders Group Inc. Note: please support brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Seven Tips to Grow Your Mailing List by Katie Davis from Blue Rose Girls. Peek: “Let’s get you a mailing list. You are going to grow your audience and then stay connected.”

From Editor to Agent: a chat with Alyssa Eisner Henkin by Bobbie Pyron from From The Mixed-Up Files…of Middle-Grade Authors. Peek: “…I know both editors and kid readers are very ken on the plot-driven-pull-you-in-and-don’t-let-go books that are popular these days. So I’d say plot is a huge factor in my decision in whether or not to represent a book. However, a great voice is certainly of paramount importance.”

A Story of Dualities by Chithira Vijaykumar from The Hindu. Peek: “This is a story about balance. A tree and a road learn to reconcile with each other, the title of the book repeats itself (“Out of the Way! Out of the Way!”), and it has been created by two Uma Ks — one a Krishnaswami, the writer, and the other a Krishnaswamy, the illustrator.” See also A Tale of Two Uma Krishnaswami/ys from Cynsations.

Support Children’s Book Press

Children’s Book Press, a non-profit multicultural publisher, is seeking to raise $47,000 by March. Please consider donating, buying or promoting its books to show your support. See also an interview with editor Dana Goldberg of Children’s Book Press.

New Sports Publisher

Beach Ball Books, a new children’s publisher, is launching this season with sports books, board books and plans for a raft of colorful, entertaining books that kids and families will love. Headed by James Buckley, Jr., Beach Ball will capitalize on the extensive experience, market knowledge, and creative talent Buckley has gathered as Editorial Director of Shoreline Publishing Group, a veteran book packaging company that has produced more than 350 books, as well as magazines and magazine content and special sections for a dozen years.

In Memorium

Margaret K. McElderry (1912-2011) from Locus Online. Peek: “Children’s editor and publisher Margaret K. McElderry, 98, died February 14, 2011. She is best known as founder of her eponymous children’s imprint, Margaret K. McElderry Books.”

Redwall Author Brian Jacques Dead at 71 from The Washington Post. Peek: “Jacques wrote the first book in his famous Redwall series for the children at the Royal School for the Blind in Liverpool, England. The book’s hero was a timid mouse named Matthias who found the courage to protect his home, Redwall Abbey. ” See also Extreme Sadness: Brian Jacques from Book Moot.

Cynsational Screening Room

Check out the book trailer for Piggies in the Kitchen by Michelle Meadows, illustrated by Ard Hoyt (Simon & Schuster, 2011).

Canadian Writers Speak Out On Copyright from Marketwire News Studio.

More Personally

Thank you to Candlewick Press, the event planners, and everyone who turned out, cheered, and helped promote last week’s official Blessed tour in NYC, New Jersey, and the Philly area.

(The view out my window at The Standard Hotel in Manhattan/the meat-packing district.)

Cheers to fellow authors Jen Nadol, Sarah Beth Durst, Shannon Delany, and especially Daniel Nayeri (with whom I did two events), who joined me at stops along the way.

(Rita Williams-Garcia–to whom the novel is dedicated–models Blessed at Books of Wonder.)

Mega thanks to Books of Wonder, Francis Lewis High School,, Borders Columbus Circle, Baker & Taylor, New Brunswick Free Public Library, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, NYPL Mulberry Branch, Romantic Times Book Reviews, The New School, Brooklyn Public Library, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School, The Voracious Reader, Mercer County Library, and Barnes & Noble, Cherry Hill, N.J.!

(Literary agent Mary Kole and Daniel at The Brass Monkey! Jill Santopolo was kind enough to organize this get-together of Vermont College of Fine Arts faculty, alumni & friends.)

(Susan Van Metre’s MFA class at The New School.)

(The Brooklyn Public Library.)

(Authors Libba Bray, Marianna Baer and Melissa Walker at the Brooklyn Public Library.)

(Shannon Delany, Jen Nadol and Shannon Delany at The Voracious Reader.)

Q&A with Cynthia Leitich Smith by Jessica from Chick Lit Cafe. Peek: “Quincie is smart enough to realize that her soul is who she is. If she gives herself up, there’s nothing left. Not her evolving patchwork family or the business she inherited from her mama or her amazing connection to Kieren. He loves her, the real her, not some monster walking around in body. She fights for herself because she has value intrinsically and to those who truly care about her.”

Book Review: Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith by Jessica from I Just Want to Sit Here and Read. Peek: “I love Kieren, Quincie’s best friend and the only hybrid werewolf. I actually found myself jealous of their friendship. There of course is the slight sexual tension because they haven’t pronounced any real feelings for each other, even though you want to scream at them!”

Links of the Week: Dear Teen Me by Bethany Hegedus and Won Ton: A Cat Tale in Haiku recommended by Mercury Boo Leitich Smith (don’t miss the comments).

Even More Personally

I’m voting for Chef Drew (Andrew Curren at 24 Diner in Austin) for best new chef in the southwest (and you should, too!).

(My Valentine’s Day flowers from my very cute husband and sometimes co-author, Greg Leitich Smith.)

Last night, we joined Anne Bustard and my former Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA student (now alum) Janice Scully (in town from New York state) at the Broken Spoke for some country music by Tony Harrison and Hot Texas and then continued on to County Line on the Hill for barbeque.

Cynsational Events

Birthday/Launch Party for Michelle Knudsen at 6:30 Feb. 22 at WORD (126 Franklin St. Brooklyn, NY). Peek: “New York Times bestselling author and WORD favorite Michelle Knudsen celebrates both her birthday and the release of her new picture book Argus (Candlewick, 2011). Sallie’s class is supposed to be raising chicks as a science project, but Argus, the large, green, scaly creature that hatches from her egg, is anything but cute and fluffy. Hijinks ensue! Refreshments will be served and good times will be had.” RSVP at facebook.

Jeanette Larson: Loving the Librarian” will be at 11 a.m. March 5 at BookPeople in Austin. Sponsored by Austin SCBWI. Peek: “Librarians can do a lot to help writers and illustrators do their work and get their books into the hands of readers. Learn the secrets of librarians from a ‘semi-retired’ librarian who continues to work with librarians across the country to improve services to patrons and the community. While she has written extensively for libraries, her first children’s book, Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas (Charlesbridge, 2011), has just been published and she is seeing the world from the other side of the library shelf!” Jeanette’s book launch will follow at BookPeople at noon and include refreshments and sample art pieces. See also an interview with Jeanette and Adrienne Yorinks by Donna Bowman Bratton at Writing Down the Kidlit Page.

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.

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