Cynsational News & Giveaways

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith

The Ongoing Problem of Race in Young Adult Literature by Jen Doll from The Atlantic Wire. Peek: “Coe Booth…hated reading until she discovered Judy Blume. ‘Those made me into a reader,’ she said, ‘because the books we were forced to read that had black people in them, I didn’t relate to them. As a little black girl growing up in the Bronx, I had no connection to books about sharecroppers or those books that took place in the ‘50s.'” Note: while I worship Walter Dean Myers on bended knee, I’m not sure he’s completely on mark about the Texas market. As a Austin based writer who travels regularly, I’ve noticed a lot of state-wide enthusiasm for diverse youth literature, especially with regard to books featuring Mexican or Mexican-American characters and themes.

What Makes a Good YA Dystopia Novel? by April Spisak from The Horn Book. Peek: “Dystopias are characterized as a society that is a counter-utopia, a repressed, controlled, restricted system with multiple social controls put into place via government, military, or a powerful authority figure.”

Fourth Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature by Tarie from Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind. Peek: “…now open for submissions from Arab or international publishing houses that publish Arabic-language books for children ages 0-14.”

Some Book: Celebrating 60 Years of Charlotte’s Web by Michael Sims from The New York Times. Peek: “During his long career he wrote about everything from the predictability of radio preachers to the emotional fallout from nuclear dread, but he meditated upon farm animals and Maine life with particular affection.” Source: Lupe Ruiz-Flores.

Indiana School Library Devastated by Tornado Still Needs Help by Lauren Barack from School Library Journal. Peek: “After the baseball-sized hail subsided, Riggs and her students-none of whom were injured-picked their way out of the rubble to find their library destroyed and all of the books gone.”

Congratulations to the Crystal Kite Award winners from SCBWI. Special cheers to Lena Coakley, Cynsations Canada reporter, whose fantasy novel Witchlanders (Atheneum) was the Americas winner, to Austin’s Patrice Barton, whose picture book Mine! (Random House) was the Texas/Oklahoma winner, and Jo Knowles, whose realistic novel, Pearl (Henry Holt) was the New England winner.

History in Fiction: Boom or Bust? by Michael Cart from Booklist. Peek: “…historical adventures, historical fantasy, historical science fiction (think alternative histories), and even future history. Perhaps it is because of these blender-benders that the straight old-fashioned historical novel has fallen on evil times.
Or has it?”

Race & YA: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee-Colored Skin, White Authors! from Sarah Ockler. Peek: “Which came first—the chicken, the egg, or the egg white omelet—I don’t know. But the discussion glosses over an obvious gap: white authors.” See also Um, Hello God? Is This Thing On? Faith and YA Literature by Tanita Davis from Finding Wonderland.

Why Go to the London Book Fair 2012? by Lucy Coats from Scribble City Central. Peek: “The seminar I got most of, though, was the one Bali Rai organised.  He had arranged for a panel of teenagers from two London schools to come and talk to us about what they wanted to see in a novel.” Note: includes lengthy teen comments.

Upping Your Level of Professionalism by Jennifer Shaw Wolf from Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing. Peek: “…when I write it’s not just about me…anymore. I have an agent who’s waiting to sell my next book. I have an editor who has to answer to a marketing department and a slew of other people about how my book is going to make the company money.”

The Edgar Award winners were Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (Scholastic)(children’s) and The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall (Knopf)(YA). 

No Joke! Humor and Culture in Middle Grade Books by Uma Krishnaswami from The Horn Book. Peek: “In generous hands, humor can appear to fix the things that need fixing in the world. And then it can turn around and wink at you, the reader, as if you’re complicit in the manufacture of the fiction.”

Sharjah IBBY Fund from Raab Associates. Peek: “The Fund aims primarily to provide support for children whose lives have been disrupted through war, civil disorder or natural disasters in the region of Central Asia and North Africa through implementing reading-related projects.” offers shopping from independent bookstores around the world, often with free shipping. Source: Teaching Authors.

M.T. Anderson: Pioneer of Smart YA Fiction by Adam Ragusea from 90.9 wbur, Boston’s NPR Station. Peek: “…teens deserve books that respect the complexity of their inner lives.”

Samantha Clark and Lillian Pluta are the winners of the Houston SCBWI Joan Lowery Nixon Award. The prize is a year-long mentorship/critique program with award-winning and bestselling author Kathi Appelt.

Headlines and Hooklines: Writing a Press Release by Ash Krafton from QueryTracker.netBlog. Peek: “Reporters for media outlets love them because they provide content. You, as a writer, should love press releases because they tell the audience exactly what you want them to know.”

Finalists 2012 Locus Awards from the Locus Science Fiction Foundation via SF Signal. Cheers to Planesrunner by Ian McDonald (Pyr); Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking); Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Quirk); The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (Feiwel and Friends) and Goliath by Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK). Source: Gwenda Bond.

Writing About Kissing from Malinda Lo. Peek: “I’ve been thinking about fictional kissing for a while now because, let’s face it: I’m a young adult author, and all of my books have fictional kissing in them.”

Middle Grade Mysteries by Katrina Hedeen from The Horn Book. Peek: “The following novels show that puzzles can be solved by detectives both seasoned and green. These four sleuth stories — action-packed, suspenseful, and sometimes goofy — will lure in mystery-lovers.”

Sometimes You Have to Make Yourself Do It by Kristina Springer from Author2Author. Peek: “This is one of those times where even though I really really really don’t want to do something, I’m going to do it. I have to.”

Agent Spotlight: Susan Hawk from Literary Rambles. Peek: “Children’s picture books, chapter books, middle grade and young adult, fiction and non-fiction.” Note: formerly of marketing at Henry Holt and Penguin as well as editorial at Penguin.

This Post is for the Ones You Love from Rachelle Gardner. Peek: “Congratulations on having the fabulous good fortune of living with a writer-type. There are many great things about being involved with a writer, among them…”

Once Upon a Time in San Miguel de Allende: A Three-Day Intensive Children’s Writers Workshop, taught by children’s author Dianna Hutts Aston. Session one will be Oct. 12 to Oct. 15. Session two will be Oct. 26 to Oct. 29. Peek:…an intimate, intensive…writers workshop for aspiring writers of picture books – limited to four students per session – who want to develop a picture book concept, hone their manuscripts, and learn about the publication process.”

Meet Krista Vitola, Assistant Editor, Delacorte Press and Ariel Richardson, Editorial Assistant, Chronicle Books by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes.

Cynsational Blogger Tip: Simplify/limit your text colors. Usually one color for the text and another color for links is sufficient. Black on a white background is the easiest to read, but you may want to pick another dark color and light background. Try to resist the temptation of adding too many more text colors (it’s hard on the eye)–maybe pick one if you want to really highlight something special like a giveaway.

Agent Interviews with Andrea Cascardi (Transatlantic), Ginger Knowlton (Curtis Brown), Marie Lamba (Jennifer DeChiara) and Jeff Ourvan (Jennifer Lyons) from MiG Writers.

More? Don’t miss the Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup from Jen Robinson’s Book Page and YA releases in stores next week with giveaway of Tighter by Adele Griffin from Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing,

Cynsational Giveaways

Joanne on the Power of Details in Writing

Enter for a chance to win a picture book critique or first-chapter critique for a middle grade novel (ages 8 to 12) by Joanne Rocklin, emphasizing “sparkly details.”

To enter, comment on this post (click previous 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 “Joanne Rocklin critique” in the subject line. Author sponsored. Eligibility: U.S./Canada. Deadline: 11:59 CST May 14. Note: please indicate if you’re entering for a critique/book or both.

And enter to win one of three copies of The Fives Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin (Abrams, 2012).

To enter, comment on this post (click previous 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 “The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook” in the subject line. Author sponsored. Eligibility: U.S./Canada. Deadline: 11:59 CST May 14. Note: please indicate if you’re entering for a critique/book or both.

Librarians, enter to win one of three sets of five signed Diabolical bookmarks and a Tantalize series button! Please indicate your affiliation (the specific school(s), public library/system) in your entry. 

YA readers! I’m also happy to send up to five individual signed bookmarks!

To enter, comment on this post (click 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 “Diabolical” in the subject line. (If you’re on LiveJournal, I’m also taking entries via comment at the Cynsations LJ.)
Author-sponsored. Eligibility: international. Deadline: midnight CST May 14.

Last call! Enter to win a giveaway package celebrating The Veil by Cory Putnam Oakes
(Octane, 2011). The giveaway package includes: a signed copy of The Veil; a Cable Car tin full of Ghirardelli chocolates; a tin of illy coffee (medium roast); a “Caffeine Gives Me Annorasi Powers” mug (extra large, to hold extra caffeine for extra powers); and “I *HEART* Luc” stickers. Note: Cory says: “Ghirardelli Square and caffeine are both very important in The Veil.”

To enter, comment on this post (click 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 “The Veil” in the subject line. Author-sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. Deadline: midnight CST May 7.

The winner of a signed, personalized copy of Puzzled by Pink by Sarah Frances Hardy (Viking, 2012) was Cathy in Massachusetts. Learn more about the book from Sarah.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

Happy Star Wars Day! I’ve been reviewing copy edits on my new novel, brainstorming a title for my new series, and working on student manuscripts.

I’m also celebrating the 10th anniversary of Indian Shoes, illustrated by Jim Madsen (HarperCollins, 2002)(see cover art above). This early reader chapter book is especially dear to me because it was dedicated to my grandparents and was in part inspired by the years I lived in Chicago. It remains one of previous few books that depicts urban Indian characters.

The week’s highlight was an Austin area young writers’ event…

Thank you to Jodi and everyone at Pflugerville (Texas) ISD for hosting me and Greg at the Write Stuff! event at Kelly Lane Middle School. It was terrific, speaking to K-5 writers, families, and faculty. Write on! Note: Varian Johnson led a workshop for secondary students.

Look for me on page 93 of the ninth edition of Literature for Today’s Young Adults by Alleen Nilsen, James Blasingame, Don Nilsen, and Kenneth L. Donelson (Pearson, 2012). Peek: “

Reminder: Candlewick Press offers free downloads of two of my short stories (“Haunted Love” and “Cat Calls”) from all major e-retailers. Any other “free” downloads of my work are illegal copyright infringements, which (besides stealing) reduce the odds of my publishing future books.

Please alert me if you run across any, and I’ll sic my publisher and/or literary agency legal team on them.

On a budget? No worries, you can read all of my books for free by checking them out at the library! If they’re not on the shelf, politely request that the librarian get copies for you on loan. You can check out all kinds of awesome stuff for free from the library.

And regardless, be careful of free download sites. A lot of them promise
a text but are simply lures to deliver viruses to your computer. Yikes!

Finally, I want to say that I enjoyed this young-reader video adaptation of my debut novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001):

Personal Links

From Greg Leitich Smith:

About Greg Leitich Smith

  • Dinosaurs & Time Travel! Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith by Katy Manck from BookYALove. Peek: “This
    mile-a-minute adventure story includes dromaeosaur babies and bow-hunting, toothed
    prehistoric birds and T. Rexes and 40-foot-long crocodilians among the
    adventures encountered by four young teens on a time-traveling mission.”
  • Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith from Deena at deenaml’s LJ. Peek: “Young dinosaur fans will enjoy this fast-paced MG novel full of Cretaceous creatures and facts…”
  • Tweeps! Greg has joined the collective. Follow @GLeitichSmith.

Cynsational Events

Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith will appear at A Festival of Authors, in celebration of 100 Years of School Libraries in Austin, which will take place from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. May 12 at Reagan High School in Northeast Austin.

Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith will appear June 30 at Bastop Public Library in Bastrop, Texas.

Interested in taking a class with Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith this summer?