Cynsational News & Giveaways

Interview with Morganville Vampires Author Rachel Caine by Karleen from Kids’ Ebook Bestsellers. Peek: “I think as the price points shake out for the technology and content, we’re going to see more e-books in schools and in the hands of teens as well, but it will take a little more time, especially with educational budgets constantly shrinking.”

How Many Pages Should a Picture Book App Have? by Loreen Leedy from e is for book. Peek: “…the number of pages (screens?) ranges from less than 10 to 30 and up. Some nonfiction PB apps may have even more.”

Strengths and Your Protagonist by Jane Lebak from QueryTracker.netBlog. Peek: “When a character’s strengths are what stand between him and resolving the conflict, you’ve got an amazing story on your hands, because the reader will sense the tension….”

How Not to Be Taken Seriously by Kristi Holl from Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “If you’re a self-employed, freelance writer, you’re in business. You’re creative–true. But you’re still in business if you want to make income from your writing. And often it is poor business attitudes that keep others from taking you seriously.”

Feedback: Three Attitudes That Help by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: “I need to ask questions to clarify the feedback, or the feedback is pointless to me.”

Let The Be Light by Jennifer Ziegler from Hunger Mountain. Peek: “…tackling a serious subject in a humorous way doesn’t necessarily ‘make light’ of it. It can, however, lighten it enough so that you can more easily find your way—so that you don’t feel overwhelmed or hampered.”

The Gift of Insecurity from Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent. Peek: “It turns out being a contracted and published author doesn’t automatically fill you with self-confidence and unending affection for your own work. Who knew?”

Are You Ready for the Call? by Carolyn Kaufman from QueryTracker.netBlog. A list of questions to ask a prospective agent. Note: ask what you need to know, but don’t forget to be a person. Get a feel for the human being on the other end of the phone, and whether s/he’s a fit.

Anna Olswanger is now offering book coaching. She is the former coordinator of the Jewish Children’s Book Writers’ Conference and through her work as a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates in New York. Note: In Anna’s view, a book coach can work with writers to define their goals. The coach is not their editor or agent. The book coach might talk to them about their agent and editor, and give them advice how to interact with them, but a book coach does not play those roles. If you are interested in working with Anna as your book coach, send her an email at and describe where you are with your manuscripts or books.

On the Dark Side by Clare B. Dunkle from Hunger Mountain. Peek: “I find that dark writing can be cathartic. It can teach useful habits of mind, too, because if there’s darkness in a book, then there are characters fighting against that darkness, and we can learn to imitate them.”

Striking a Gold Mine by Libby Koponen from Blue Rose Girls. Peek: “‘It’s not about striking a gold mine!’ he said. ‘It’s about laying groundwork.'”

Resources for Young Writers from Donna Gephart from Wild About Words.

Canadian Award Short Lists, compiled by Michael Thorn from ACHOCKABLOG. Features the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction, and John Spray Mystery Award. Highlights include Burn by Alma Fullerton (Dancing Cat), under children’s literature and A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (Candlewick).

Educational Publishing with Joanne Mattern: a chat transcript from The Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “Basically, educational publishing is tied to topics that kids study in school, such as social studies, history, science, math, and language arts, but it can explore any topic. You’ll see lots of books about things that aren’t specifically studied in school, like biographies of celebrities or books about Navy SEALs or unusual pets, but these are nonfiction topics that kids are interested in.”

2011 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards

Learn more about the 2011 winners and honor authors/illustrators.

Save Bookstores

On June 25, go shopping at your local, brick-and-mortar bookstore (or at least, say,,,–sites directly affiliated with them).

A bookstore is more than a place to buy books. It’s a place to discover them. To connect with fellow book lovers. To bridge generations and build communities and step into the shoes of heroes from here to mythology and beyond.

Times are tough, but go anyway. If you can’t buy a book, buy a bookmark or a piece of candy or just tell your local bookseller how much you appreciate her and that you’ll be back as soon as you can.

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win a copy of Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2011) from A Simple Love of Reading. Deadline: June 22. This giveaway is for U.S.-Canada readers.

Last Call: Enter to win an author-signed advanced reader copy of Tantalize: Kieren’s Story, a graphic novel by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Ming Doyle (Candlewick, Aug. 2011), plus a magnetic Sanguini’s wipe board! Note: Sanguini’s is the fictional restaurant that appears in Tantalize and Tantalize: Kieren’s Story.

To enter, comment on this post (click link), specify “Tantalize: Kieren’s Story” and include an email address (formatted like: cynthia at cynthialeitichsmith dot com) or a link to an email address. Or you can email me directly with “Tantalize: Kieren’s Story” in the subject line. Author-sponsored. Deadline: June 17. This giveaway is for U.S.-Canada readers.

Check out the Luminous Summer Grand Prize Giveaway from Dawn Metcalf. Deadline: midnight June 30.

Cynsational Screening Room

Enter to win Forgiven (2011) and Faithful (2010), both by Janet Fox and published by Speak/Penguin from P.J. Hoover from Roots In Myth. Deadline: June 24.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond: A Ninety Second Newbery Film. Source: Melissa Wyatt.

Uma Krishnaswami on using Darcy Pattison‘s Shrunken Manuscript Technique.

More Personally

Last week’s highlight was The First Annual BooksmART Festival on June 11, conducted as part of Arts & Letters Live from the Dallas Museum of Art.

I gave talks on both my children’s and my YA writing. This is a Seminole exhibit from “Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection.” (The characters Ray and Grampa Halfmoon from Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002) are Cherokee-Seminoles.)

Other featured children’s-YA book creators included Rick Riordan, Norton Juster, Laurie Halse Anderson (pictured above), David Wiesner, Jerry Pinkney, Gene Luen Yang, Duncan Tonatiuh, Antonio Sacre, Joe McDermott, Jan Bozarth, and Ann Marie Newman.

Celebrities at my signing included Eugene and Charlotte from KIDS’ BRAIN: Books, Reviews, and Information Now! a blog for parents and young readers maintained by the youth services staff at the Plano (TX) Public Library System. You can like them on facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Greg and I stayed at the historic Hotel Aldolphus–well worth a visit, if you ever find yourself in Dallas. My thanks to the Dallas Museum of Art and event volunteers, especially Helen, Risa, and also Tracy from Candlewick Press.

Interview & Blessed Giveaway with Cynthia Leitich Smith from A Simple Love of Reading. Peek: “I find myself identifying with Kieren a lot—we’re both bookish Austinites.”

From Greg Leitich Smith:

Personal Links:

Cynsational Events

Authors Jennifer Ziegler and Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak to YA readers at 2 p.m. June 18 at Bee Cave Public Library in Bee Cave, Texas. Mark your calendars for book talk and pizza! See more information (PDF).

See also event planner information on booking Jennifer and Cynthia for the joint “From Classics to Contemporary” program–two authors for the price of one!

Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak to the Cedar Park Teen Book Club at 11 a.m. June 25 at Cedar Park (TX) Public Library.

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