Cynsational News & Giveaways

Congratulations to Lena Coakley on the release of her debut novel, Witchlanders (Atheneum, 2011)! From the promotional copy:

High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.

It’s all a fake.

At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?

But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—

Are about him.

“Exquisite storytelling plus atmospheric worldbuilding equals one stunning teen debut.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Plot twists unfold at a riveting pace, the boys’ characters are compellingly sketched, and Coakley explores her subject matter masterfully without falling prey to safe plot choices.”

Publishers Weekly (starred)

Check out Lena’s interviews and guest posts on the Witchlanders Blog Tour (hurry; ends Sept. 9), and answer a question at any stop for a chance to win this beautiful Kindle 3 Wifi and a copy of Witchlanders that Lena will give away Sept. 13 (see rules).

Note: Lena is a Cynsations international reporter, covering the Canadian children’s-YA book scene.

More News

Interview with Author-Agent A.J. Paquette by Carmen Oliver from Following My Dreams…One Word at a Time. Peek: “Flaws humanize characters—and, okay, they help advance the plot, too! But more than that, they make people so much more interesting.”

DEBTastic Reads: author interviews and book buzz in middle grade and teen fiction from Debbi Michiko Florence.

Transformative Change by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “A mere realist would batten down the hatches and hold on. But the act of adjusting the sails, of preparing yourself to accommodate what life is about to send your way, is a much more profound act of acceptance.”

Scottish Children’s Book Awards Shortlist 2011 from Michael Thorn, editor at ACHUKABLOG. Peek: “The number of children taking part continues to grow every year, which is proof of the huge appetite for reading in Scottish schools and libraries.”

Shaun Tan at Seven Stories in Newcastle (U.K.) by Marjorie from PaperTigers Blog. Peek: “…he wouldn’t call his work surreal per se: rather, the unexpected juxtaposition of familiar objects in his work is what is surreal.” See also A Delectable Taster of Picture Books from Singapore by Myra Garces-Bacsal, also from PaperTigers.

Cynsations U.K. contributing editor Laura Atkins is offering an end of summer sale on children’s picture book manuscript critiques. Quote “Cynthia” and get 10% off. Laura spent seven years in editorial departments in the U.S. She worked at Children’s Book Press and Orchard Books, and as an editor at Lee & Low Books. Currently a senior lecturer at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature at Roehampton University in London, Laura is also a freelance children’s book editor. Full details are on her website.

Literature Connections to 9/11 from TheTeachingBooks.netBlog. Peek: “As we reflect on the 10 years since the attacks on the United States of America of September 11, 2001, we recognize that many children in school today might not remember much about that day. offers a handful of books and multimedia resources that can expand conversation and insights.”

Interview with Cinda Williams Chima by Cindy Pon from The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: “I wrote sixty pages and gave them to my agent, who wanted to pitch a three-book deal. He said, ‘Great, now can you give me an outline of each of the three books?’ And I said, ‘No.’ And he said, ‘Well, how about a paragraph for each book?’ And I said, ‘Do I have to stick with what I write?’ And he said, ‘No, once we have the money, do whatever you like.'”

Has Rejection Turned You Into Someone You’re Not? from Jane Friedman. Peek: “…when you work on the inside of a publishing house, and you see how decisions get made day to day, you realize there’s nothing about it that any author ought to take seriously.”

Too Much Skin? (Or…Book Covers Gone Wild!) by Michelle Ray from EMU’s Debuts. Peek: “It’s a clear message to anyone looking for a stodgy re-telling of ‘Hamlet’ to move on. It’s also clear to parents that the content is for older kids. I’m glad about this. As a parent and a teacher, I like to know what a book might be offering up.”

The Death of Books Has Been Greatly Exaggerated by Lloyd Shepherd from The Guardian. Peek: “Radical change is certainly producing some alarming symptoms – but much of the doomsayers’ evidence is anecdotal, and it’s possible to read a much happier story.” Source: Phil Giunta.

Random Acts of Publicity: a week-long celebration of authors cheering books by fellow authors, plus in-depth interviews with top children’s-YA publicists and marketing consultation giveaways from Darcy Pattison at Fiction Notes. Note: most of the giveaways were one-day only, but check to see what opportunities are available Sept. 9.

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, established by renowned author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, has awarded over half a million dollars in grants to public schools and libraries in all 50 states and the U.S. Commonwealth since the Minigrant program was started in 1987. The deadline for submission of proposals for the $500 Minigrant award is March 15, 2012. Proposals will be read directly after the March deadline, and winners will be announced starting on May 15. Applications are available exclusively online at the Foundation’s website.

Achieving Breakout Success in Today’s Market with agent Donald Maass and author Bruce Hale. Peek: “Running into roadblocks on your way to bestseller-dom? Join Bruce Hale on Sept. 15 as he interviews top New York agent Donald Maass on how to get published in today’s market and what it takes to craft a breakthrough novel. Don’t miss this one-time teleseminar event!”

The Vanishing Veena by Arthur J. Pais from India Abroad. Peek: “In Sheela Chari‘s mystery novel, the heroine is a Boston desi who travels to India to locate her prized musical instrument.” Read more from Sheela about the interview.

On Being a Novelist by Karen Kincy from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “Oh, I thought. This is a job. Also, I have to keep writing books. I can’t just sit on my butt—ahem, laurels—and expect praise, riches, and unadulterated happiness.”

Using Cliffhangers for Better Pacing by Chris Eboch from Write Like a Pro! A Free Online Writing Workshop. Peek: “To build up truly dramatic cliffhanger chapter endings, give the reader clues that something bad — or excitingly good — is going to happen.”

Writers and Depression by Nancy Etchemendy from Horror Writers Association. Peek: “The steady drum of rejection slips is a part of life for every writer, even the most successful. The courage it takes to deal with rejections and keep going may fail us at times. Without courage, we become fair game for depression.” Note: I run this article periodically. Take care of yourself and each other.

Best Articles for Writers This Week from Adventures in Children’s Publishing.  More of the bets of the Web, plus links to even more roundups.

More Cheers

Congratulations to author Nicola I. Campbell and illustrator Kim LaFave on the release of Grandpa’s Girls (Groundwood, 2011)! From the promotional copy:

A young girl delights in a visit to her grandpa’s farm. She and her cousins run through the fields, explore the root cellar where the salmon and jars of fruit are stored, swing on a rope out the barn loft window, visit the Appaloosa in the corral and tease the neighbor’s pig. The visit is also an opportunity for this child to ask Grandpa what her grandmother, Yayah, was like, and to explore the “secret room,” with its old wooden trunk of ribbons, medals and photos of Grandpa in uniform.

There is a wonderful blend of fun and family history in this visit to a grandparent, and the realization that there can be some things about the people we know and love that will always remain a mystery. But above all, there’s nothing like being with Grandpa.

In her two previous picture books, Shi-shi-etko and Shin-chi’s Canoe, Nicola Campbell worked with elders and survivors of residential schools, documenting the tragic experiences that many endured. This new book, based on her own childhood memories, is a sunny, joyful story, vibrantly illustrated by Kim LaFave.

Source: Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature.

This Week’s Cynsations Posts

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win Liar, Liar and Flat Broke by Gary Paulsen (Random House, 2011). 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 “Paulsen” in the subject line. Publisher sponsored. Deadline: Sept. 16. U.S. readers eligible.

Enter to win one of three Snuggle Mountain apps (IPhone and IPad users only). 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 Cynthia directly with “Snuggle Mountain app” in the subject line. Author sponsored. Deadline: Sept. 26.

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

  • Blog about this giveaway
  • Share the link to this post on facebook
  • Share the link to this post on Twitter
  • Share the link to this post on Google+ 
  • Like Lindsey’s Facebook author page

The winner of an advanced reader copy of The Vision by Jen Nadol (Bloomsbury, September 2011) was Linda in Illinois.

The winner of the Tantalize: Kieren’s Story Howling Giveaway Package is Dawn in Oklahoma.

Enter to win a copy of Tantalize: Kieren’s Story by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Ming Doyle (Candlewick, 2011) from Black Nailed Reviews. Deadline: 11:59 p.m. EST Sept. 13. Enter here.

Enter to win one of two advanced reader copies of Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories, edited by Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall (HarperCollins, 2011) from Melissa Walker. Enter here, and learn more about the book below.

Cynsational Screening Room

Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories, edited by Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall (HarperCollins, 2011) is now available! See also Authors share their experiences in book of letters called ‘Dear Bully’ by Carol Memmott from USA Today. Note: My essay, “Isolation,” appears in this anthology on page 186-187. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Stamp Out Bullying. See Writers Reflect on Childhood Torment in Dear Bully from National Public Radio or listen below.

Congratulations to Divya Srinivasan on the release of Little Owl’s Night (Viking, 2011)! Attention Austinites: the book launch party is at 2 p.m. Oct. 15 at BookPeople.

More Personally

I’m honored to report that my Twitter following has passed 7,000. Thanks to everyone who’s reading my tweets! If you’re looking for me, I’m @CynLeitichSmith

Cover Reveal: Check out the dinotastic cover of Chronal Engine by (my very cute husband and sometimes co-author) Greg Leitich Smith (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, spring 2012)! Comment with your cheers to Greg, and learn more about the book.

2011 Texas Book Festival Authors include Jill S. Alexander, Jay Asher, Chris Barton, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Kate DiCamillo, Kate Hosford, Jeanette Larson, René Saldaña, Jr., Liz Garton Scanlon, Elaine Scott, and Cynthia Leitich Smith. The festival will take place Oct. 22 and Oct. 23 at the state capitol building and alongside the capitol grounds in Austin.

Dear Bully: Cynthia Leitich Smith Interview/Giveaway from Black Nailed Reviews. Peek: “Ultimately, being bullied made me realize the importance of reaching out to others in positive ways. You never know when someone needs a kind word, hug, or unexpected show of solidarity.” Note: Enter to win a copy of Tantalize: Kieren’s Story by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Ming Doyle (Candlewick, 2011) from Black Nailed Reviews.

Blessed (Tantalize series, Book 3) by Cynthia Leitich Smith: review from Jessica Moody, Olympus Jr. High Media Center at Granite Media: Library Media Program, Granite School District (Utah). Peek: “A fun, action-filled vampire book for paranormal fans. The characters are intriguing. The story is a little long, but fans of this genre as well as apocalyptic fiction will relish reading this book.” Note: 4.5 stars!

Here’s a terrific book talk about Tantalize and some other awesome YA novels:
SchoolTube – Author’s Purpose

Reminder: After a summer of reading, teens are now invited to vote for YALSA’s Teens Top Ten List! Vote here, and see the annotated list. I’m that my novel Blessed (Candlewick, 2011) is among the 25 titles nominated for YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten!

Personal Links:

Even More Personally

My very cute husband (and sometimes co-author) Greg Leitich Smith joined me in celebrating our wedding anniversary over Labor Day weekend at Donna Bowman Bratton‘s family house in Kingsland, Texas.

The home is on a private cove at Lake LBJ.

We didn’t have Internet access, which meant that we could relax into our creative work. Some of the most productive writing days I’ve ever had were in that chair at that table shown above.

When you’re out of your normal space, it often opens up your imagination. Not being able to log into the Web helps with focus, too, though of course I later paid for it back home with two full days of catch-up correspondence. That said, I still felt more relaxed, even in that damage-control mode.

I had the pleasure at staying at the house once before for a terrific writing weekend with Donna and fellow Ausintites Julie Lake and Bethany Hegedus. You can contact Donna about renting the house with your writing partner or group for a weekend retreat.

Greg cooked lobster and chicken in a pot with broccoli and rice pilaf for our anniversary dinner. (It’s a dish we first had at Le Cinq in Paris, and he’s been periodically trying to replicate it ever since–the lobster was particularly good this time.) However, we also enjoyed a couple of wonderful meals at Junction House Restaurant. The food was delicious, the service excellent, and the prices (especially for the Sunday lunch buffet) quite reasonable, at least from our big-city point of view.

The restaurant and The Antlers bed-and-breakfast next door are owned by Barbara Thomas, the former owner of Austin’s much mourned children’s independent bookstore, Toad Hall. It’s a remarkable lake property with historic homes, cabins, and train cars available for overnight guests.

Junction House Restaurant also was the filming location for “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974).

The weather cooled down to the 90s, which felt terrific after a record-breaking summer of 100+ degree days. We watched the sunset from the dock of the lake home.

But there was a heavy price to be paid for the cooling wind. On the way home, our route along Highway 71 had been cut off due to wildfires. Substantial areas of Central Texas have been devastated. Subdivisions and parkland has gone up in flames. Members of the children’s-YA book community have been personally affected by evacuations and the loss of homes.

A few ways to offer support include donating to Austin Pets Alive, which took in animals that had been in a Bastrop shelter, making a purchase at BookPeople (donating a portion of sales through Sept. 9; shop online), and praying for rain. See more suggestions for donations from KVUE. Word is that baby food and dog food are in great demand. Source for donations information: Martha Wells.

See also A Weekend at the Lake and Fire and Brimstone from Greg Leitich Smith. 

Cynsational Events

Attention, Houstonians! Please join Cynthia Leitich Smith for a discussion and signing of Tantalize: Kieren’s Story (Candlewick, 2011) at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston.

Note: “This event is free and open to the public. In order to go through the signing line and meet Cynthia Leitich Smith for book personalization, you must purchase Tantalize: Kieren’s Story from Blue Willow Bookshop. A limited number of autographed copies of Cynthia’s books will be available for purchase after the event. If you cannot attend the event, but would like a personalized copy of her book, please call Blue Willow before the event at 281.497.8675.”

Austin Teen Book Festival is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 1 at Palmer Events Center in Austin. The event is free! No need to register, just show up! Students do not need to be accompanied by an adult.

Meet Ming Doyle!

Illustrator Ming Doyle will be signing Tantalize: Kieren’s Story at 2 p.m. Oct. 2 at Brookline Booksmith (279 Harvard Street) in Brookline, Massachusetts. Guests are invited to participate in a vampire/werewolf costume contest. See another interior illustration from the graphic novel from her blog.

Cynthia Leitich Smith will be appearing at Austin Comic Con, scheduled for Nov. 11 to Nov. 13 at the Austin Convention Center.

4 thoughts on “Cynsational News & Giveaways

  1. Wow, what a packed post, filled with good nuggets. Thanks! And please enter me in the giveaways.

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