Cynsational News & Giveaways

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Lessons Lived by J. Anderson Coats from EMU’s Debuts. Peek: “She grabbed two of us by the forearms and said, “Look, guys.  We’re in New York.  They want us to dance with a Broadway cast.  When do you think this is ever going to happen again?”

How to Install IndieBound Reader on Kindle Fire by Samantha Clark from Motivation for Writers. Peek: “While the default settings for the Kindle Fire don’t allow the installation of apps that are not in the Amazon Store, including the IndieBound Reader app, there’s a quick and easy way to allow your Kindle Fire to accept these outside apps.”

Disability in Children’s Books Part 1 by Renee Grassi from ALSC Blog. Note: annotated bibliography of recommended reads.

List of Wordless Picture Books: recommendation from Gathering Books.

Drawing from Memory by Allen Say recommended by Elizabeth Bird from A Fuse #8 Production. Peek: “Allen discovers something about himself and his own past every time he draws from his own memory.”

Marketing Books by agent Chip MacGregor from Chip’s Blog. A ten-post (and step) series of insights and recommended strategies. Peek: “Balancing opportunity and threat, strength and weakness — that’s where you’ll start your marketing plan. Focus on your strengths.” Source: April Henry.

What I’ve Learned about Writing Nonfiction by Cynthia Levinson from EMU’s Debuts. Peek: “Trust my editor. Her probing questions—’Is it really accurate to say that the civil rights movement was failing?’, ‘Why does it matter who was the mayor?’—led to revisions and expansions that were absolutely essential.”

Read Veronica’s blog.

Updated Young Adult Dystopian List by Amy H. Sturgis from Redecorating Middle-Earth in Early Lovecraft. Peek: “I am intentionally casting a wide net by defining ‘dystopian’ works as those that imply a warning by describing a world gone wrong: utopias that took a bad turn, worst-case scenario post-apocalyptic societies, post-disaster tales that focus more on the undesirable communities that develop after the disasters than on the disasters themselves, etc.”

Contains Strong Language by Ash Krafton from QueryTracker.netBlog. Peek: “Perhaps the most valuable advice I’d found was the simplest concept: word choice. The strength of a word determines the effect it will have on the reader.”

Books into Apps: An Author’s Perspective by Roxie Munro from ALSC Blog. Peek: “We hired a graduate student for six months to do marketing (very important!). Regular book review venues are not always helpful with apps. You have to reach individual parents, and the audience is worldwide. The maze apps sell in 64 countries (no language issue) and the Doors app, which is in English, sells in 24 countries.”

Are Your Dreams Big Enough? Shooting for the Moon by Kristi Holl from Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “I’m big on goal setting. And I’m not trying to set you up for a big fall. However, I sometimes wonder if all of us achieve less simply because we start out with ‘reasonable, achievable’ goals instead of reaching for the stars.”

List of Picture Book Agents by Heather Ayris Burnell from Frolicking through Cyberspace. Peek: “As a picture book writer I know it can be difficult to track down which agents represent picture book authors. Not author/illustrators (how I wish I could illustrate!), but authors only.”

Highlighting Five Middle Grade Novels of 2012 by Caroline Starr Rose from Project Mayhem: The Manic Minds of Middle Grade Writers. See also The Ten Middle Grade Novels I’m Looking Forward To in 2012 by Betsy Bird from A Fuse #8 Production.

A Year of Thinking About Diversity by Malinda Lo from Diversity in YA Lit. Peek: “…after a year of working on Diversity in YA, my own awareness of diversity has shifted immensely. I think about books differently. I think about writing differently. I actively notice whether a book is about a person of color or not. I’ve seen where my own fears and assumptions have limited me, both in my writing and in my everyday engagement with race and sexual orientation/gender identity.” Note: thank you to Malinda and Cindy Pon for their efforts this past year.

Diversity: Wow, It’s Complicated by Brent Hartinger from Brent’s Brain. Peek: “We all need to be aware of this issue — in our own works and in the works of others. If the characters you’re writing (and reading) are exactly like you, it’s worth asking yourself, ‘Why might that be?'” Note: check out Brent’s newly redesigned author website.

Show and Tell by Danyelle Leafty from Peek: “… I think show, don’t tell is more about balance than choosing one thing or the other. There will be some places in the story where telling works more effectively than showing, but the trick is figuring out which ones.”

An Awarding Adventure: Serving on a Student Choice Award Committee by librarian Laura Randolph from ALSC Blog. Peek: “Every once in a great while, you find a book that is so meaningful, you want to buy a whole box of them, stand on a corner and hand them out to everyone who passes. This is that book!”

Jewish Children’s Books by Marjorie Ingall from Tablet. See also Marjorie’s extended list. Source: A Fuse #8 Production.

The Dance of Avoidance by Jennifer R. Hubbard from writerjenn. Peek: “…don’t let the character wriggle out of this scene without taking a risk.”

Cover Stories: Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey from Melissa Walker. Peek: “People tell me that my book is dark – I don’t see it that way, but I definitely think of it as ‘serious.’  As serious as a book about a gay witch cursed with magic eyes who walks into the middle of a feud between powerful warlocks can be, at least.”

Lisa Yee’s Newly Redesigned Website: newly redesigned by Lisa herself.  Pages include Creating a Cover and All About Peepy.

Year-end Feature: Children’s Poetry Titles Published in 2011 from Poetry at Play. Peek: “Brave volunteers Sylvia Vardell, Diane Mayr, Rebecca Davis, and Lee Bennett Hopkins (with help from Steven Withrow) took on the challenge of creating as comprehensive a list of poetry titles as we could make: all books of poetry published for young people ages 0-18 in English in 2011. We even tried to include books from outside the United States, adding some titles published in Canada and the UK. If we missed any, we welcome further recommendations.”

Environment, War and Fantasy: Janni Lee Simner’s Bones of Faerie and Faerie Winter by J.L. Powers from The Pirate Tree: Social Justice and Children’s Literature. Peek: “When I started writing the Faerie books, I think a part of me wanted straightforward answers. I wanted my characters to eventually find a way of saying, ‘And now, with all we’ve learned, we’re going to see to it for certain that tragedies like the war never happen again’–even though we’ve never yet managed that in our own world.But my characters, who so often understand my stories better than I do, wouldn’t let me get away with that.”

Revision Strategies – A Chapter Worksheet by Dee Garretson from Project Mayhem: From the Manic Minds of Middle Grade Writers. Peek: “Once I have a draft I’m fairly happy about, I go back and revise by chapters, trying to ensure each chapter holds together as a unit itself and adds to the story as a whole.”

Creative Cajones by Sara Zarr from Good Times and a Noodle Salad. Peek: “I’m very glad to be making my living as a writer, and know how fortunate I am to do so, and believe artists should be paid. I just don’t want to cling to my situation so tightly that I forget to make at least some choices based on passion and joy and the desire for adventure, growth, challenge. To take a chance now and then.” Source: Janni Lee Simner at Desert Dispatches.

The Excitement of a Small-town Setting by Elizabeth S. Craig from Writing Mystery is Murder. Peek: “When everyone knows everyone else, you feel the need to hide things that you don’t want the whole town knowing about.”

On Responding Graciously by Phoebe North from YA Highway. Peek: “I’ve finally figured out how to be gracious—how to take a compliment and not be rude in response.”

Goal-setting for Writers by Jane Lebak from Peek: “Without goals, we lack a means to judge our performance. In setting goals, however, we must be careful to make ‘us-dependent’ goals rather than ‘them-dependent’ goals.”

E-reader for the Holidays?

Reminder: “Haunted Love,” a short story by Cynthia Leitich Smith is now available for free download from Barnes & Noble (U.S.), Books on Board, (U.S.) and (U.K.). It will be available from additional e-retailers soon. From the promotional copy:

Spirit, Texas, is a town of secrets, and as the new owner of the local haunted movie theater, Cody Stryker is juggling more than his fair share. 

When a mysterious new girl comes to town and runs afoul of the ghost that lives in his theater, Cody’s caught in the middle and needs to figure out exactly who he can trust.

“Haunted Love” is a short story by New York Times Bestseller Cynthia Leitich Smith — featuring new characters and set in the same Gothic universe as her novels Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, and Tantalize: Kieren’s Story, illustrated by Ming Doyle.

Note: “Haunted Love” has been in the top 10 in Youth and YA at Books on Board for the past four weeks! Thank you for your support!

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win Dreaming Anastasia and Haunted by Joy Preble (both Sourcebooks)! 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 “Joy Preble” in the subject line. Publisher-sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. Deadline: midnight CST Dec. 31. See also Joy Preble on Embracing Risk.

Enter to win an ARC of Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, Book 1) by Robin LaFevers from Brodie at Eleusinian Mysteries. Eligibility: international. Deadline: 11:59 p.m. Jan. 2. Note: highest recommendation.

Elevensies Giveaway Featuring Books by 2011 Debut Authors from Anna Staniszewski. Peek: “The winner of the giveaway will get to choose one of the Elevensie books released in October, November, or December of this year…” Eligibility: international. Deadline: midnight Jan. 11.

This Week’s Cynsations Posts

Cynsational Screening Room

Lauren Oliver talks about the Delirium trilogy (HarperCollins). Source: YA Books Central.

More Personally

My initial deadline on Smolder and the release of Diabolical are both at the end of January, so I’ve been revising my work-in-progress and setting up promotional initiatives for the launch.

On the manuscript front, I have one major character shift to make–a secondary character is being rewritten from a twelve-year-old female werecat to a forty-five-year-old male human attorney. Otherwise, the story seems to be working in the whole.

What it needs right now is to be more–more suspenseful, more mysterious, more romantic, funnier, and sharper in its surprises.

With regard to the launch, my wonderful publisher, Candlewick Press, does the heavy lifting. I’ll be showing off my new bookmark and announcing tour dates soon. But I am pitching in here and there, as we authors tend to do. On a related note, COS Productions is distributing my Diabolical trailer, and I’m shopping for next month’s Diabolical mega giveaway.

Review of Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith from MaryAnn and Gabrielle at Chapter by Chapter. Peek: “Smith has a writing style that is so addictive! With all the different twists and turns throughout the book…omgosh! Sooo good. How many more plot twists can Smith come up with? Just when I think that there couldn’t possibly be anything else she can come up with, I’m foiled yet again! I just love, love love (!) her writing so much…”

School’s Out: Holiday Reading for Your Young Charges by Debbie Reese from Native American Fair Commerce Coalition. Peek: “…try Cynthia Leitich Smith’s vampire trilogy.” Note: watch for book 4, Diabolical, releasing in January from Candlewick Press.

Personal Links:

More Than That… by students at Todd County High School Mission, South Dakota. A response to “Children of the Plains” on “20/20” (Oct. 2011). See also Teacher and Librarian Resources for Children’s and YA Books with Native American Themes.

From Greg Leitich Smith:

Even More Personally

My holiday reports (and movie picks) from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Cynsational Events

See Cynthia’s upcoming events in Austin, Albuquerque, Tucson, Sandy (Utah), Southampton (New York), and Montpelier (Vermont). Note: the date of the multi-author fantasy panel at BookPeople in Austin is Feb. 10.

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