Cynsational News & Giveaways

Guest Post: Author Gretchen McNeil and Agent Ginger Clark Get Up Close and Personal from YA Highway. Peek: “I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of exorcism and demonic possession, and by the fact that the Catholic Church is the only western religion with a codified exorcism ritual.

“Pope Benedict the XVI even issued an edict instructing all archdioceses around the world to send one priest to the Vatican for official exorcist training.” More on Gretchen and Ginger.

From the promotional copy:

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, but the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons’ plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

See also Diversity is in the Eye of the Beholdor by Gretch from Diversity in YA Fiction, and check out the book trailer from HarperTeen.

More News

Magical Realism in YA: Writing the Familiar with a Fantastical Twist by Nova Ren Suma from WriteOnCon. Peek: “Some of the magic of magical realism is how well-threaded the impossible events of the story will be into an otherwise completely recognizable reality.”

Congratulations to Jeanette Larson, whose debut picture book, Hummingbirds: Fact and Folklore from the Americas (Charlesbridge) will represent Texas on the “Great Reads from Great Places” map distributed at the 2011 National Book Festival. Only one book is selected by each state to represent that state.” Source: Austin SCBWI.

YA Books with Boy Appeal: a bibliography of recommendations from Saundra Mitchell. Note: Saundra also discusses the larger societal context around boys and the presumption that they can’t root for girl heroes (and now consider the gender composition of, say, Congress).

Where Stories Come From by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “…our richest, most authentic stories come out of our own traumas and heartbreaks. Not necessarily in a direct correlation—I was beaten as a child therefore I will write about child abuse. But rather the core emotional issues, the wounds and scars that have shaped us will also shape our stories.”

A Safer Way to Get Noticed by Jane Lebak from Blog. Peek: “Some people say breaking the rules will help you stand out, but it seems to me that with the rule-followers in the minority, there’s a safer way to get noticed.”

O How the Mighty Have Fallen: A Copyediting Homily in One Very Long Act by J. Anderson Coats from EMU’s Debuts. Peek: “…my inner history geek is fighting it out with my panicky writer geek, and I’m running words through the Oxford English Dictionary, trying very hard not to get sidetracked by the general awesomeness of the Oxford English Dictionary or write out etymologies in the margins.”

The Bridge Between Us: Connecting with Your Reader Through Theme by Teresa Harris from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Theme should never be stated outright. It exists in subtext, lurking in the meanings of the words we choose, the things our characters say, their actions, even the silence on the page. Subtlety is key. Subtext should exist in an ethereal form. If the story is the body, the subtext is its soul.”

The New School in New York City offers an MFA program in Writing for Children. Peek: “The creative writing graduate program is designed to be completed in two years of full-time study. All courses and most Writer’s Life Colloquium events are conveniently scheduled in the evening. At this time, part-time study is not an option, and, due to the integral nature of the curriculum, transfer credits are not accepted.”

Article Versus Book: Choosing the Right Idea from K.L. Going. Peek: “At first this idea seemed novel-worthy, but as I began to think about it, I wondered if it would really carry through for several hundred pages.” Note: an excerpt from Kelly’s book, Writing and Selling the YA Novel (Writers Digest, 2008).

So What If Your Book Doesn’t Sell? Or Sell Right Away? by Jennifer Laughran from Jennifer Represents. Peek: “A recent agency book was sold after 4 years of submission and 45+ editor rejections, and now has starred reviews and is going places. It happens, it really does.”

Children’s Literature Association Call for Papers: Philippine Children’s Literature from Tarie at Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind. Peek: “The International Committee of the Children’s Literature Association is planning a special country focus panel on the Philippines, to be presented at the 39th Children’s Literature Association Conference, to be held at Simmons College, Boston from June 14 to June 16. The committee invites paper proposals that focus on any aspect of Philippine children’s literature.”

Get Started Guide: Blogging for Writers from Jane Friedman. Peek: “You have to be patient. Are you willing to commit to blogging for more than a year?”

Two Signs of Overwriting and Why It’s a Problem by Mary Kole from Peek: “One of these images would’ve been fine. Two is pushing it. Three, and then all the extra cold imagery heaped on top? That’s too much.”

Should You Pitch (and Sign With) a New Agent? by Chuck Sambuchino from Writer Unboxed. Peek: “Agents share contacts and resources. If your agent is the new girl at an agency with five people, those other four agents will help her (and you) with submissions. She’s new, but not alone.” Source: Kathy Temean at Writing and Illustrating.

Writing about Race in Speculative Fiction by Malinda Lo from Books, Food, Queer Stuff, Life. Peek: “I think that writers really cannot be beholden to political correctness. If a word fits, use it. That’s what words are for. Of course you have to be careful about which word to use, but you have to be careful about which word to use in every sentence.”

Absent Parents in Children’s Literature by Matthew MacNish from Project Mayhem: The Manic Minds of Middle Grade Writers. Peek: “I’m trying to think of a scenario in which normal, healthy, present parents could be a part of a YA or MG novel. I can’t think of a single one I’ve read myself. I think I may have to write one.”

Is It Dark in Here, Or Is It Just the YA? by Mindy McGinnis from Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire. Peek: “…when I first started my job as a YA librarian I was more than a little taken aback by what I could find in the pages of the books I was processing. Then I took a look at my patrons and began to understand.”

Reminder: KidLitCon Teams Up with RIF by Colleen Mondor from KidLitosphere Central. Donate today!

Anneographies: top blog for picture book biographies posts on the subject’s birthdays. Highest Recommendation.

Random Acts of Publicity Week by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: “The 3rd Annual Random Acts of Publicity, September 6-8, 2011 is a week to celebrate your Friend’s book, or your favorite book, by doing a Random Act of Publicity: Blog, link, Like, review, or talk about the book . (BLLuRT it Out!) Daily posts here on Fiction Notes ( will offer tips, wisdom and prizes for your friend!” Twitter: Use #RAP2011 Note: Darcy will also be offering interviews with top children’s-YA literature publicists and giving away copies of The Book Trailer Manual.

Help Me Help a Library – Win Something and Be Awesome from Carrie Jones. A library in Cherryfield, Maine is $3000 short of its annual budget. Bestselling author (and all-around great human) Carries Jones will donate $1 to that library for each comment on the linked post, and by commenting (and other awareness-raising activities) you have a chance to win Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories, edited by Carrie and Megan Kelley Hall (HarperTeen, 2011) or After Obsession by Carrie and Steven E. Wedel (Bloomsbury).

Connecting with Your Reader Through Theme: Part II Theme and Character by Teresa Harris from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Characters are a reader’s anchor in a story. They drive everything, including theme. If a reader does not connect with or feel for acharacter at all, a writer has lost the chance to connect with her reader.”

The Bent Agency is seeking an intern who specializes in children’s-YA literature, especially middle grade and YA. Peek: “If you’re a fan of books by M.T. Anderson, Mary E. Pearson, Nancy Farmer, Gennifer Choldenko, or Jack Gantos your tastes will likely be a good fit for ours. This internship is remote so you don’t need to live in NYC.” Source: Adventures in Children’s Publishing, which likewise features a terrific weekly roundup of kidlitosphere posts.

Book of the Year 2011 Winners from the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Note: list of winners and honor books at various age levels/formats.

Cynsational Giveaway

Celebrate the release of my first graphic novel by entering to win the Tantalize: Kieren’s Story Howling Great Giveaway!

The prize includes: author-autographed copy of Tantalize: Kieren’s Story, illustrated by Ming Doyle; Barbecue Lovers Guide to Austin by Gloria Corral; “Living with Wolves” DVD from the Discovery Channel; adult-size costume bat wings; bat finger puppet; armadillo puppet; wolf finger puppet; bear finger puppet; opossum finger puppet; flashing cat key chain, armadillo egg candies; mini journal; Austin magnet; and audio edition of Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith, read by Kim Mai Guest (Listening Library/Random House)

    To enter, comment on this post (click link and scroll) 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: Sept. 6.

    For extra entries (itemize efforts in your entry comment/email with relevant links):

    Limit 8 entries. This giveaway is for international readers–everyone is eligible!

    In other news, the winner of Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri (Candlewick, 2011) is Beth from New Hampshire! Thanks to Greg and everyone who entered!

    Austin Scene

    Tom Angleberger presents Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back at BookPeople.
    Tom models his end cap.
    Jill Alexander presents Paradise (Feiwel) at BookPeople.
    Delicious tie-in cookies!

    More Personally

    Wow! It’s the U.S. release week for my first graphic novel, Tantalize: Kieren’s Story (Candlewick). Back when I was a kid, my dad would load me up in the Oldsmobile time and time again to pick up comics at the local convenience store. Who would’ve guessed it would lead to this?

    Special thanks to Jessica Lee Anderson, Shelli Cornelison, Alison Dellenbaugh, Debbi Michiko Florence, Bethany Hegedus, K.A. Holt, P.J. Hoover, Uma Krishnaswami, Jeanette Larson, Mitali Perkins, Carmen Oliver, Jama Rattigan, Liz Garton Scanlon, Greg Leitich Smith, Don Tate, Audrey Vernick, and everyone at Candlewick Press for your support!

    Are you a Canadian reader? I’ve received word (thanks, Jessie!) that you can find the graphic novel at Chapters and no doubt other stores as well. Always remember that if a book you want isn’t on the shelves, a bookseller or librarian can order it for you! Just ask!

    Publishers Weekly says of Tantalize: Kieren’s Story: “…a face-paced, twisty, enjoyable ride and compelling characters who develop as the story unfolds. Kieran’s sidekicks, a were-armadillo and a were-possum, provide some welcome perspective on the hero’s obsession…”

    Guest Author Cynthia Leitich Smith: How to Tantalize as a Graphic Novel from The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy. Peek: “I opened the book again, and began translating the existing scenes in which he appeared into a script format, shifting the point of view. I had to think about pacing in a new way, clip much of the connective tissue, and trust the illustrator to fill in the setting as well as much of the emotion and mood.” Note: post includes excerpt of the prose novel and the corresponding graphic script.

    Reminder: I’m not currently accepting any manuscripts for blurb consideration. Thanks!

    Cynsations Weekly Posts

    Even More Personally

    Cheers to my former VCFA student (now alum) Marianna Baer, whose novel Frost (Balzar + Bray/HarperCollins, 2011), was among those President Obama purchased during his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard. The book was a gift for his elder daughter.

    Greg and I celebrated the graphic novel release by going to see “Fright Night” at the Alamo Drafthouse. We’re fans of the original and learning that Marti Noxon wrote the screenplay cinched it. The movie is played straight but still funny, violent, profane, and romantic. A real horror movie. The pacing is terrific, the update resonant, and the female characters infinity improved. Not for the squeamish or those only into emo vampires.

    Personal Links:

    From Greg Leitich Smith