Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Won Ton – A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt) has won the Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion for Best Children’s Book and the Fancy Feast/Purina Love Story award for the book that best captures the magic of the loving relationship between cats and their owners. See also Kit Lit: Cat-Themed Picture Books.

Believability or Bust by Stina Lindenblatt from QueryTracker.netBlog. Peek: “To avoid the issue of lack of believability, always ask yourself: “Have I given enough set up to the story so my readers are able to believe this event can happen this way?” See also Perspiration: Self-Study in Writing Children’s-YA Books.

In Which Award-Winning Author Han Nolan (Inadvertently) Calls Me a Scaredy Cat by Natalie Dias Lorenzi from EMU’s Debuts. Peek: “She said that it can be hard once you sell that first novel, because now there are expectations.” See also Inspiration in Writing Children’s & YA Books.

We Are The Youth Book Club: from “a photographic journalism project chronicling the individual stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in the United States.” See Q&A with Nick Burd, The Vast Fields of Ordinary (Dial, 2009). See also Exploring Diversity: Themes & Communities.

Stimulus and Response: The Writer’s Path through Story by Martina from Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing. Peek: “Pulling the reader by the heart from the beginning of the book to that climax, scene by scene, is the key to successful writing. Ultimately, a book isn’t about beautiful descriptions or sparkling prose. It’s about action and reaction, which is all a response to conflict.”

“Love Loves Difficult Things”: Peter Sis’ Conference of the Birds by Jules from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Post includes a video interview with Peter from BEA 2011. See also Children’s Picture Books A-L and M-Z.

Michael Kusugak on Storytelling: an audio interview from CBC Radio Canada. Highly recommended. See also Sarah Ellis’s related thoughts at Silence in the Igloo from Write at Your Own Risk. See also Native American Authors & Illustrators: Picture Books.

This week Lisa Schroeder is offering free signed-and-personalized bookplates to folks giving her books as holiday gifts.

Author-illustrator Kadir Nelson talks with Horn Book editor Roger Sutton from Denise Johnson at The Joy of Children’s Literature. Peek: “I wanted to tell this great American story as if it were a story, not a series of facts.” See also Children’s Literature Guides.

Five Things to Know about Publicity Before You’re Published by Crystal Patriarche from Writer Unboxed. Peek: “Publicity doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s a very long-term and strategic process.” Source: Phil Giunta. See also Writers Links: Promotion.

Congratulations to author Jenny Moss for signing with Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency, and congratulations to Tricia for signing Jenny! See also Agent to Agent Interview: Erin Murphy and Tricia Lawrence on Social Networking for Children’s-YA Authors and Writers Links: Agents.

The National Book Awards: A Judge’s View by Will Weaver from The Huffington Post. Peek: “For a National Book Awards judge, lurking behind the sheer volume of reading is, always, the math. My group needed to read three-to-four books each day, every day, to stay on schedule.” See also U.S. Awards for Children’s-YA Literature.

Top Five Writing Tips the Grinch Stole by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: “Take a page from Dr. Seuss. Be nasty when you create characters. Try different physical descriptions, motivations, typical ways of moving, common phrases and specific actions.”

Author, Not Illustrator: My Perspective on the Caldecott Honor by Liz Garton Scanlon from ALSC Blog. Peek: “I was allowed to celebrate the prize, and the incredible, jaw-dropping art that won the prize, without being the center of attention.”

Platform and Social Media Must Not Be Your Center by Christina Katz from Jane Friedman. Peek: ” I want to help you cultivate creative confidence and express literary ability through writing. This is what belongs at the center of your writing career. Period. Here are three tips on author platform that give you an idea of my philosophy.”

What is Voice, and How Do I Get It? by Chris Eboch from Write Like a Pro! A Free Online Writing Workshop. Peek: “I would say my voice is simple, lively, and brisk, and that’s true whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction, for children or for adults.”

The Life Cycle of a Book from Publishing Trends. Source:, which offers its own weekly links roundup, via SCBWI Blog.

Writing Dreams Fulfilled by Kristi Holl from Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “…create a detailed image of your future perfect writing life. What are some projects you’d love to work on? What are your secret writing dreams? Make a list.”

Picture Book Month

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win Lala Salama by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Candlewick, 2011)!  To enter, comment on this post (click preceding link and scroll) and include an email address (formatted like: cynthia at cynthialeitichsmith dot com) or a link to an email address. Or email Cynthia directly with “Lala Salma” in the subject line. Publisher-sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. Deadline: midnight CST Nov. 30. Note: View an inside spread.

This Week’s Cynsations Posts

Cynsational Screening Room

School Library Journal Day of Dialog 2011: “Diversity in YA Literature,” featuring Paul Griffin, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon and Rita Williams-Garcia and moderated by Liz Burns from A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy. Source: Amy Bowllan at Writers Against Racism. See also Exploring Diversity Through Children’s & Young Adult Books: Background Reading.

“12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn,” directed by Chris Hartlove and highlighting the novel of the same name by James Proimos (Roaring Brook, 2011). Source: A Fuse #8 Production.

Check out the book trailer for The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. Source: Lynne Kelly Hoenig.

More Personally

Cheers to my amazing web designer Lisa Firke on the luscious facelift for my official author site and Children’s-YA Literature Resources! Lisa has worked her magic on the typefaces and added substantial content updates to my author section, children’s-YA literature resources, goodies for writers and more. Consequently, I’ll be featuring the various relevant pages on a more regular basis here at Cynsations!

Highlights of the week included attending illumine 2011, a ceremony recognizing excellence in literary achievement and advocacy, with Gene Brenek, Debbie Gonzales, and Greg Leitich Smith at the Hilton Austin Downtown. The event, hosted by the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation, included a silent auction, dinner, and live music. Celebrity sightings included author Ruth Pennebaker and professor Loriene Roy of the University of Texas.

In addition, I was treated to a day of writing with fellow Austin author Jo Whittemore! Jo’s latest release is Odd Girl In (Aladdin Mix, 2011).

Jo brought holiday chocolate chip cookies.

Greg Leitich Smith AKA the Chef and I also played hosts to a group of friends at Thanksgiving.

Here’s author-illustrator Divya Srinivasan, author Salima Alikhan and her husband Sam, and authors Jenny Moss, Anne Bustard and Chris Barton. The menu included crudités (chopped celery, broccoli florettes and baby carrots) with homemade cheese and spinach dip, a roasted turkey, stuffing, shrimp potato salad, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, whipped cauliflower, corn and cornbread, followed by pumpkin cheesecake and macadamia nut pie. See also Greg’s report.

I arranged the flowers!

On the writing front, I’ve dived back into Smolder. My immediate goal is to do a straight read through and write myself a critique letter. I’ve also been working on a book trailer for Diabolical with Shayne Leighton. I’m very excited about our progress and look forward to sharing it with you.

Holiday Shopper Alert! CWDkids is selling a Shark Train PJ and Book set! Note: learn more about Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Little, Brown).

YA Lit Ramblings says of Diabolical: “ takes a special something to make one stand out as this one does.  Plenty of action and suspense with great characters!”

Thanks to PaperTigers Blog for the shout out about Holly Thompson’s guest post on setting earlier this week at Cynsations.

Even More Personally

Author-illustrator Don Tate and authors Greg Leitch Smith and Chris Barton at the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning in Austin.

Personal Links:

From Greg Leitich Smith:

Cynsational Events

Holiday Tree Lighting and Author Signing at LBJ State Park! Join Cynthia Leitich Smith for the tree lighting ceremony at LBJ State Park from 4:30 p.m. Dec. 18. Cynthia will be signing Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton, 2010). Lucy Johnson will be speaking briefly at the event, and Santa may make an appearance, too. See more information.

See also Cynthia’s upcoming events in Austin, Albuquerque, Tucson, Sandy (Utah), Southampton (New York), and Montpelier (Vermont).

About Cynthia

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author of the Tantalize series for young adults and several acclaimed children’s books, most recently including Holler Loudly. Her most recent release is the YA graphic novel, Tantalize: Kieren’s Story. Cynthia makes her home in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Chronal Engine author Greg Leitich Smith, and four writer cats. For more news and conversations in children’s-YA literature, read Cynsations.

3 thoughts on “Cynsational News & Giveaways

  1. You are the cat's meow, Cyn! Thanks for adding Won Ton's awards to your news. It was a great week – – found out on my birthday that I'd won those two awards; plus, that same day I learned the book had also won the First Annual Forward National Literature award for Best Picture Book! Talk about Me-WOW! Purrs, Lee

  2. My pleasure, Lee! I'm one of Won Ton's biggest fans! Talk about a bounty of good news. Happy belated birthday!

    Thank you, Martina, for all you share with the youth literature community–it is noticed and appreciated!

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