Cynsational News & Giveaways

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cover Stories: Untraceable by S.R. Johannes from Melissa Walker. Insights from S.R. and Vania, the photographer. Peek from S.R.: “We wanted to use a real life model. I think stock photos are great but to me – we wanted that feeling of being in the woods. Of Grace hiding, and I think Vania got that. There is nothing like an original artwork.”

Character Traits: Wounded by Becca Puglisi from The Bookshelf Muse. See sidebar for much more.

Rgz Salon: Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. by Medeia Sharif (Flux): reviewed by Lyn Miller-Lachmann from readergirlz. Peek: “The author, of Kurdish and Muslim heritage, offers a portrayal that is both realistic and humorous. The experience of being caught between family rules and pressures on the one hand and the drama of peers on the other is one to which readers of all cultural backgrounds can relate.”

Read a Sample Chapter of See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles from Candlewick Press. Release date: May 2012.

Interview with Maria Modugno, Vice President and Editorial Director of HarperCollins Children’s Books, from Picture This! A Daily Guide to Picture Book Writing with Rob Sanders, Children’s Author. Peek: “When you publish a new book in a picture book series, you are giving the consumer something that is both tried and true and new.” Don’t miss the continuing interview in part 2, part 3, and part 4. Source: Jill Corcoran.

Interview with Diane Muldrow, Editorial Director of Golden Books/Random House, from Picture This! A Daily Guide to Picture Book Writing with Rob Sanders, Children’s Author. Peek: “A picture book is usually a read-aloud, so it has to be written in a way that will have a sort of musicality when read aloud. A picture book needs to have an emotional resonance, too. Or be really funny. It should—artfully—lead us to feel something, teach us something, or show us something in a new way…” Don’t miss the continuing interview in part two and part three. Source: Jill Corcoran.

Q & A with Andrea Pinkney of Scholastic, editor of Allen Say’s Drawing from Memory from PaperTigers Blog. Peek: “He is known by many for his work as a brilliant picture book creator, and Caldecott medallist. But in this book, Allen extends his talent to create a stunning work that is part memoir, part graphic novel, part narrative history.”

U.K. Publisher Tamarind Books Seeks Quality, Multicultural Manuscripts by Caroline Horn from The Bookseller. Peek: “‘Authors themselves don’t need to come from a mixed community—although that can work well—but I am essentially looking for strong stories and a good mix of ages,’ said Bavishi. ‘It has to be a beautiful story—not a focus on the fact that the main character is not middle-class or white.'” Source: ACHUKA.

Cynsational Author Tip: if possible, mention your publisher’s name whenever sharing information about your books online. It makes it easier for prospective readers/buyers to find out more and follow up from there.

To Do Well in Life, You Have to Read Well: an audio interview with Walter Dean Myers from National Public Radio.

Daniel Abraham’s Private Letter from Genre to Literature from SF Signal. Peek: “I read through the collections of your most honored short stories, and what do I see? Fantasy, mystery, ghost stories, romance. How often you refresh yourself at my springs. I wonder whether your contempt might hide something deeper. Fear perhaps, that you might be less without me as I am less without you.” More on Daniel Abraham. Source: April Henry.

2010 U.S. Population Data Compared with Books By and About Color from Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “…a table we compiled in my month-long course on “Race, Culture, and Power in Children’s Books” at Saint Mary’s College of California.”

Rushing Toward that Dream? Wait. by Yahong Chi from Project Mayhem from The Manic Minds of Middle Grade Writers. Yahong asks authors Kate Messner, Jonathan Auxier, and Stephen Messer what they miss from their days as unagented, unpublished writers. Peek from Jonathan: “…before I had a book in the world, I had no real sense of my audience. Audience was an abstract idea that couldn’t be pinned down and had little say in my storytelling.”

Online Gallery Featuring the Art of Ed Young from PaperTigers. Peek: “Ed has illustrated more than 80 books, nearly half of which he also wrote. His versatility and the imaginative mixing of media in his art, as well as his artistic sensitivity towards each new book, have reaped him many awards, including the Caldecott Medal for Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China (Philomel, 1989) and two Caldecott Honors for The Emperor and the Kite (Philomel, 1967) and Seven Blind Mice (Philomel, 1992), based on the classic Indian story of the blind men and the elephant.”

The Pen Name is Mightier by Jan Fields from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “An author may use a pen name if his/her real name is too much like another author or celebrity. It can be hard to stand out as yourself if your real name is a close match like Steven King or Jan Yolen. It’s even harder if it’s exactly the same as the famous author. If the author is less famous, the introduction of your middle initial or a variant on your first name may be enough to stand out.”

Video Interview: Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham from Good Comics for Kids at School Library Journal. Filmed at San Diego International Comic-Con.

SCBWI Pre-Conference Interview with Author/Illustrator John Rocco by Lee Wind from I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?  John talks about how he approaches illustrating a cover, how his stories involve in terms of art and text, portraying diversity, and portfolio tips. Peek: “…make sure the work all looks like it came from the same person’s hand. It is okay to have more than one style, just make sure you separate those styles in different sections of your portfolio.”

By Kimberly Pauley (Tu Books, April 1)

Publishing Interview: Stacy Whitman, editor at Tu Books (Lee and Low) by Stephanie S. Kuehn from YA Highway. Peek: “I’ve been looking for an Asian steampunk for about a year now. Get on it, writers! I’d also love to see strong stories for middle grade girls, a voice that’s sometimes hard to get right. I’d love to see unique settings, inspired by real-world cultures but creating new fantasy worlds.” See also Beyond Orcs & Elves: Stacy Whitman on Writing Cross-Culturally by Susan J. Morris from Omnivoracious.

Video Interview with U.K. Debut Author Jasmine Richards from Tall Tales and Short Stories. Peek: “Jasmine talks about her debut novel, The Book of Wonders, and what it’s like to be on the other side of the publishing desk as an author, instead of in her usual role as a Senior Commissioning (Children’s Fiction) Editor at OUP (Oxford University Press).”

Writing Exercise: Give Your Character Something to Hold by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: “…look for an object around your house, something you can pick up and hold. It might be a camera, a needle and thread, a baseball glove, a salt shaker, a frying pan, a hair dryer, a favorite book–anything.”

National Jewish Book Awards announced by the Jewish Book Council. The winner in the Children’s and Young Adult Literature category is Deadly: How Do You Catch an Invisible Killer? by Julie Chibbaro (Atheneum), and the finalists are In the Face of Evil by Tema N. Merback (Friesen Press); To Hope and Back: The Voyage of St. Louis by Kathy Kacer (Second Story); and Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin (Charlesbridge). The Louis Posner Memorial Award for Illustrated Children’s Book goes to The Golem’s Latkes, adapted by Eric A. Kimmel; illustrated by Aaron Jasinski (Marshall Cavendish), and the finalists are Lipman Pike, America’s First Home Run King by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Zachary Pullen (Sleeping Bear); and Marcel Marceau, Master of Mime by Gloria Spielman, illustrated by Manon Gauthier (Kar-Ben). Source: The Whole Megillah.

Our Favorite Articles and Blog Posts from Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing.

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win one of ten signed copies of Bittersweet by Sarah Ocker (Simon Pulse)(excerpt)! To enter, comment on this post (click the previous 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 “Bittersweet” in the subject line. If you include in your comment a thought on the video at that link, you’ll receive two extra entries! Good luck! Publisher-sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. Deadline: midnight CST Jan. 23.

Enter to win an ARC of Article 5 by Kristen Simmons (Tor, 2012) and The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (Margaret K. McElderry, 2011) from Tabitha at Writer Musings. Winner will be announced Jan. 28. Note: learn more about Article 5 and The Pledge.

Enter to win an ARC of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Harper, 2011) from P.J. Hoover at Roots in Myth. Peek: “…a super-fast read with tons of action and adventure and a healthy dose of dystopia and sci-fi.” Note: post includes book trailer.

Jean Reidy is celebrating cabin-fever creativity and the release of her latest picture book Too Princessy!, illustrated by Geneviève Leloup (Bloomsbury, 2012) by hosting a Boredom Buster Blog – chock full of rainy day ideas from parents, teachers, caregivers, babysitters, writers and other folks like you. Send in your favorite ideas and be entered to win one of five prizes, including a $100 bookseller gift card and autographed books. For every idea you submit before January 15th, you’ll be entered five times in the drawing for prizes. For every idea submitted after January 15th, you’ll be entered once. The drawing will be Feb. 29.

Facebook Contest: Grand Prize: Free School or Library Visit by Jan Brett to Anywhere in the World from PR Web. Enter at Jan’s facebook page. Deadline: April 9. Source: ACHUKA.

Reminder: join Kelly Starling Lyons on her blog tour, celebrating the release of Ellen’s Broom, illustrated by Daniel Minter (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012), and comment on Kelly’s blog, her facebook author page, or any of her blog stops for a chance to win a wedding/anniversary broom courtesy of Stuart’s Creations and a signed poster of the Ellen’s Broom cover. Deadline: the a.m. of Jan. 16. Eligibility: U.S. only. See also Celebrating Us: Children’s Books About Weddings by Kelly Starling Lyons from The Brown Bookshelf.

Reminder: Canterwood Crest Initiation Giveaway from Jessica Burkhart. Grand prize includes a 20-minute Skype session or phone call with the author. Deadline: 11:59 EST Jan. 20. Eligibility: U.S. only.

This Week’s Cynsations Posts:

Contributors include Cynthia Leitich Smith.

    Cynsational Screening Room

    The Joy of Books by Type Book Store (883 Queen Street West) in Toronto. Source: Jon Gibbs.

    Behind the Scenes with Illustrator Matt Tavares from Tavares Books. Note: “A short video about the making of Lady Liberty: A Biography, a picture book written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares, published by Candlewick Press (2008).”

    Author Holly Cupala on the “Dear Bully” Anthology and her latest Young Adult Novel, Don’t Breathe A Word (HarperCollins) from Lee Wind at I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?

    More Personally

    What an honor to see my official author website, including Children’s & YA Lit Resources and Goodies for Writers at, recognized among Great Websites for Kids by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association!

    The ALA cheers my site not only for its information of my own work but also my pages on multiculturalism and speculative fiction. See listing.

    Thanks to my web designer, Lisa Firke, for her ongoing contributions to the success of the site!

    After an hour, I found Blizzard in the laundry basket.

    What else? My very cute husband (and sometimes co-author) Greg Leitich Smith and I have exchanged our most recent manuscripts. Mine is due to my Candlewick editor at the end of the month, and his is a first draft.

    I had to drop out of critique groups to teach at Vermont College of Fine Arts. (I couldn’t read regularly for eight, plus, other novelists), so Greg is my only early reader these days.

    We’ll sit down on Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon to discuss, and I’m excited to both check out his latest and soak up his feedback.

    Greg’s next novel, Chronal Engine (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), will be out in March.

    Cynthia Leitich Smith: Back Again with Another Bestseller by from Kids’ Ebook Bestsellers. Interview focuses on e-publishing, marketing, audience, and tech v. print accessibility issues for young readers. Note: “Haunted Love” is now available from Candlewick Press for free download via major online retailers. The story features new characters but is set in the Tantalize series universe. Thanks to everyone who helped make “Haunted Love” a Books on Board bestseller!

    Author copies of Diabolical are in the house!

    More Fantastic Books for Older Readers by Cynthia K. Ritter from The Horn Book. The highlighted four titles include Diabolical (Candlewick/Walker, 2012). Peek: “The Harry Potter–worthy final battle between good and evil — with a welcome dose of devilish humor added in — make this installment an expertly woven narrative, bringing new readers up to speed while satisfying invested fans with a happily-ever-after ending.”

    P.J. Hoover at Roots in Myth says of Diabolical (Candlewick/Walker, 2012):  “…what really dawned on me in Diabolical is how absolutely awesome her two main guy characters really are. Steam comes off the pages in this one.” Note: Diabolical will be released Jan. 24.

    My first author copy of Blessed in paperback!

    Samantha Boyette says of Blessed (Candlewick/Walker, 2011): “Quincie has a spine and some personality… I mean sure, she still does crazy things to be with this guy, but she also runs a restaurant and has other friends too. She is a well-rounded character who happens to be in love.” Note: Blessed will be available in paperback on Valentine’s Day.

    In support of No Name-Calling Week, look for Dear Bully, edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones (HarperCollins, 2011) in the adult section (with the parenting books) this month at your local Barnes & Noble. Note: the anthology includes my essay, “Isolation.”

    Looking for signed copies of the Tantalize series books (Candlewick/Walker, 2007-) or Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton, 2010)? Try my local independent bookstore, BookPeople in Austin, Texas. Note: the BookPeople children’s-YA department also has signed copies of Ninjas, Piranhas and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith (Little, Brown).

    Personal Links:

    From Greg Leitich Smith:

    Cynsational Events

    Brian Yansky will be presenting “Getting Organized” at 10 a.m. Jan. 14 on the second floor at BookPeople in conjunction with Austin SCBWI. “Brian will be sharing his secrets of success regarding how to keep all of the loose ends of crafting a manuscript in control while attempting to balance a busy everyday life.” Note: the chapter will offer an open critique group at 11 a.m., and then members Tim Crow, Lynne Hoenig, and Bonnie Crow will report on the Story Masters Workshop, featuring Chris Vogler, James Scott Bell, and Donald Maass at 1 p.m.

    Vicious Valentine: a YA fantasy celebration, featuring authors Jordan Dane, P.J. “Tricia” Hoover, Mari Mancusi, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and L.A. Weatherly—moderated by Sean Petrie–will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at BookPeople in Austin. Whether you love love, hate it or fear it, be there for spooky cool refreshments and scary bookish fun!

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

    Mark your calendars for Alex Flinn’s Upcoming Tour.  She’ll be appearing at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville on Feb. 14, at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston Feb. 15, and at Barnes & Noble in Round Rock (Texas) Feb. 16.