Cynsational News & Giveaways

Now available!

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Congratulations to Deborah Noyes on the release of her first YA novel, Plague in the Mirror (Candlewick, 2013)! From the promotional copy:

was meant to be a diversion — a summer in Florence with her best
friend, Liam, and his travel-writer mom, doing historical research
between breaks for gelato. A chance to forget that back in Vermont,
May’s parents, and all semblance of safety, were breaking up.

when May wakes one night sensing someone in her room, only to find her
ghostly twin staring back at her, normalcy becomes a distant memory. And
when later she follows the menacing Cristofana through a portale to
fourteenth-century Florence, May never expects to find safety in the
eyes of Marco, a soulful painter who awakens in her a burning desire and
makes her feel truly seen.

The wily Cristofana wants nothing less of May than to inhabit each others’ lives,
but with the Black Death ravaging Old Florence, can May’s longing for
Marco’s touch be anything but madness?


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Only Two Spots Left! Join authors Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, Nancy Werlin and ICM Partners literary agent Tina Wexler at a Whole Novel Workshop from Aug. 4 to Aug. 10, sponsored by the Highlights Foundation. Peek: “Our aim is to focus on a specific work in progress, moving a novel to the next level in preparation for submission to agents or publishers. Focused attention in an intimate setting makes this mentorship program one that guarantees significant progress.” Special guests: agent Sarah LaPolla as well as authors Bethany Hegedus and Amy Rose Capetta.  

Why Editors Focus on Page One by Darcy Pattison from Jane Friedman. Peek: “An editor can tell within a couple pages if a manuscript will be acceptable to them. How? What makes this decision so clear to an editor and so muddy to an author?” See also Breaking the Rules in Your Novel Opening by Liz Coley from Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing.

Radical Empathy: Creating a Compelling Flawed Character by Emilia Plater from YA Highway. Peek: “When someone’s behaviors are explained to you in an in-depth, nuanced way, it becomes easy to understand that person and empathize with them – even if you don’t personally like them or agree with them.”

Setting, Reaction, Interaction by Jane Lebak from QueryTracker Blog. Peek: “Setting matters, but you can make it matter double if it gives a boost to character.”

Physical Attribute Entry: Hips by Angela Ackerman from The Bookshelf Muse. Peek: “A cocked hip is often a sign of confidence or dominance.”

By the U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate

Kenn Nesbitt is Named New U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate from Poetry at Play. Check out Ken’s site,

Tips to Make Sure You Look Amazing on Skype or Google+ Hangout by Miral Sattar from BiblioCrunch. Peek: “Elevate the laptop on a book (or books) so the video camera you have is slightly above your forehead.”

Cynsational YA Author Tip: Looking for a way to make your summer teen event more special? Consider doing a giveaway of Poison by the late Bridget Zinn (Hyperion, 2013). You can get multi-author-signed copies at BookPeople in Austin and add your signature.

What’s Up with the Super Short Picture Book Texts? by Deborah Halverson from Peek: “Sales are strong for shorter, character-driven picture books, as opposed to stories with longer, more detailed narratives and plots.”

Twitter Bio Tips from Aspiring and Published Authors by Victoria Scott from Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing. Peek: “Don’t post buy links. Instead, post a link to your website where readers can learn more about you and your book.”

Interview: YA Author Sarah Dessen & Editor Regina Hayes of Viking from The Slate. Peek: “The day I get your editorial letter is always both exciting and terrifying. On the one hand, I’m glad to not be all alone battling the revision process anymore. On the other, I’m always sure you’re going to suggest something that I won’t be able to fix or do.”

Cynsational Author Tip: Don’t upload placeholder/not-final versions of the covers to your books. They’ll linger on the Internet and may be mistaken and used for the final cover when the book is being discussed online.

A dystopian summer read!

New Dystopian Worlds to Explore by Katie Bircher from The Horn Book. Peek: “What makes for better summer reading than a page-turning thriller? Four recent titles introduce young adult readers to brand-new dystopian societies and their courageous teen rebels.”

Writing and the Psychology of Happiness by Ginger Johnson from Quirk and Quill. Peek: “What if, instead of focusing on making depression go away, we sidestep it, and consider what will bring us happiness? I’d like to spend some time looking at some different research — research that connects creativity and happiness rather than depression.”

How to Fix a Writer’s Fragmented Life by Kristi Holl from Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “I can’t remember when my lists didn’t look overwhelming. Yours look overwhelming too. That doesn’t mean we need to be overwhelmed.”

Summer Survival Tips for Writers with Kids by P.J. Hoover from Roots in Myth. Peek: “During the school year my kids are in school which is all great and provides me some semblance of a normal schedule. But when summer starts, everything changes.”

Five Ways to Make the Ordinary Menacing in Your Suspense Novel by Brian Klems from Writer’s Digest. Peek: “The writer’s tools for achieving this are sensory detail and the slowing down of time.”

How Do I Get Useful Feedback from My Beta Readers? by Deborah Halverson from Peek: “Ask your readers open-ended questions or follow-up with questions like ‘Why?’ or ‘When?’ to encourage them to expand.” See also Is Your Work Ready for an Agent? by Carolyn Kaufman from QueryTrackerBlog.

See also Diversity in the News from CBC Diversity.

This Week at Cynsations

More on Jingle Dancer

The winner of Nobody’s Secret by Michaela MacColl is Manju in Indiana. The winners of Bewitching by Alex Flinn are Anne in New York, Hania in Texas and Xaveria in New Mexico. The winners of Towering by Alex Flinn are Sara in Florida and Lauren in North Carolina. The winners of Diva by Alex Flinn are Savannah in Kentucky, Alicia Marie in Alabama and Taylor in Colorado.

More Personally

What an exciting and busy week it’s been! Lunch with a visiting children’s author, a librarian workshop in Oklahoma, and a public library visit in Lampasas, Texas! Plus, Jingle Dancer was chosen as the One Book, One San Diego book for kids!

Lunch with children’s author Peter Marino at ZTejas in Austin.
With Dr. Barbara J. Ray of Northeastern State University in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Signing for library students and community members at NSU
With the Colombian Mammoth at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas
A Sanguini’s-inspired delight at Lampasas (Texas) Public Library
More Sanguini’s fare at Lampasas
With YA librarian Shanda Subia
With Lampasas book lovers

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