Cynsational News

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

The S-Word by Kathi Appelt from The Pippin Insider. Peek: “One February morning, while sitting at my desk and wondering how in the world I was going to meet my June 1st deadline for my next manuscript, I received an email from Cynthia Leitich Smith. It had only a single sentence: ‘I think you should write something funny.’ She signed it with love.” See also Kathi on The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp from Indigo.

How Young Adult Literature Challenges Gender Norms by S.E. Smith from Thought Catalog. Peek: “…the people writing YA today are the people who were once furtively hiding from gym class in the library with their copies of The Mists of Avalon.” Source: CBC Diversity.

Writers’ Conferences: A Cheat Sheet by Sarah LaPolla from Glass Cases. Peek: “Meeting agents and editors is great, but the main reason to attend a conference is to learn.” See also Query, Sign, Submit by Sarah from I Write for Apples.

Five Traits of Published Writers by Megan Shepherd from Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing. Peek: “My published author friends work nonstop. They get up at 5 a.m. or else stay awake until 5am. They write on Christmas, during lunch breaks, while at their children’s soccer games.”

Fiction Techniques for Nonfiction Writers by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: “…while I was researching the nonfiction topic of Kentucky basketball, I was really looking for a certain type of information.”

Why “Middle-Aged White Women” Writers Need to Care about Diversity, Too by Peni Griffin from Idea Garage Sale. Peek: “The point being that, even if you and your protagonists are from the privileged categories of people, the diversity issues are there. It doesn’t harm your story or your chances in the market place to acknowledge them.” See also “White Publishing” by Daniel Nayeri from CBC Diversity and Multicultural Statistics from CCBlogC.

Cause-Related Marketing by Kay Kendall from Mystery Writing is Murder. Peek: “Simply put, you as an author know what charitable causes have resonance with you. Find one that also relates to something in your book. Then promote the fact that you will donate a part of your royalties to that worthy cause.”

Please Pants Responsibly: Paper Notebooks For the Win by E. Kristin Anderson from Write All the Words! Peek: “I have a different notebook for every novel I’ve finished (and even some that I haven’t). And when I get feedback on drafts, and do revisions, I can go and keep all of that information in the notebook, too.” See also Five Quotes to Plot Your Novel by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes.

Teacher/Librarian Conferences: How to Make Positive Connections from Ashley Perez. Peek: “Authors, you are at a conference to increase your visibility and to connect with the readers who will put your books into the hands of more readers.”

Sarah Harrison Smith, the new New York Times Book Review Editor, from Educating Alice. Peek: “Sarah is continuing the weekly online picture book reviews begun by her predecessor Pamela Paul, and paying close attention to titles from publishers small and large, near and far.”

The Class of 2K14: Fiction Addiction: “20 authors debuting in middle grade and young adult fiction in 2014.”

Top Four Lessons from Semester One of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults by Marissa Graff from Angela Ackerman at The Bookshelf Muse. Peek: “We rarely give ourselves permission to play. At my advisor’s suggestion, I explored short stories as my out-of-the-box writing experiment during my first semester.”

Uma Krishnaswami on Writing for the Long Haul from Janni Lee Simner from Desert Dispatches. Peek: “Early book contracts tend to give a writer hope, but they can also be, like the peacock’s tail, part illusion. When the folk tale market began to thin, and I was no closer to finishing my first novel, I was left questioning the whole endeavor.”

A Is for Aging, B Is for Books from Lindsey McDivitt: “a blog about positive images of aging in children’s literature.” See also Disability in Kidlit: “reviews, guest posts and discussions about portrayals of disabilities in MG/YA fiction.”

Writing Physical Attributes: Stocky by Becca Puglisi from The Bookshelf Muse. Peek: “Stocky bodies tend to be short and round, rather than angular. People with these body types are often quite strong due to their higher percentage of muscle mass.”

Being Responsible for Your Own Writing Career by Jenna Black from Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing. Peek: “When I finally came to accept that I could work harder, and that working harder might actually be the key to getting published, everything changed for me.”

Trendwatch 2013: A Mid-year Assessment by Elizabeth Bird from a Fuse #8 Production. Peek: “Contemporary Jewish characters where their religion is not the point.”

Book Publishing’s Big Gamble by Boris Kachka from The New York Times. On the Penguin-Random House Merger, peek: “There is, for one, the persistent gripe of writers and agents: companies either forbid (as at Penguin) or restrict (at Random House) their constituent imprints from bidding against one another for a manuscript. That means not only lower advances, but also fewer options for writers to get the kind of painstaking attention — from editors, marketers and publicists — that it takes to turn their manuscripts into something valuable.” See also Baker & Taylor Owner Buys Bookmasters by Judith Rosen from Publishers Weekly.

Children’s Books in Iran: A Chat with Ali Seidabadi by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “…many recent books by American authors are translated and published in Iran. I have read numerous works written by today’s American writers. For example, last year I read two books by Brian Selznick, and you might find it interesting to know that his Hugo won a golden Flying Turtle award in Iran.” See also Mitali on Children’s Books for and about Syrian children.

Making Your Writing the Best It Can Be: Top Tips by Children’s Book Editors from The Guardian. Peek: “People always say that a story must have a beginning, a middle and an end. If that is true then by far the most important part is the end.”

Understanding & Manipulating Time to Strengthen Your Novel by Meredith Davis from The Writing Barn. Peek: “When you give time markers, they don’t have to be a day, date, or time. The marker could be a holiday, a season, a school year, or some other specified event. What’s important is that it is intrinsically tied to your storyline.”

Recommended Trans Title

Trans Titles for Young Adults by Tayla Sokoll from Linda Braun at Young Adult Library Service. Note: a bibliography of recommended reads.

How to Write a Satisfying Ending by Jane LeBack from QueryTracker Blog. Peek: “Your main character’s chief flaws have to be highlighted and overcome in the climax. Moreover, the thing your main character has desired most from the beginning of the book must be brought to bear on the final resolution.”

Children’s Picture Books Retain Stubborn Stereotypes by Tom Jacobs from Pacific Standard. Peek: “A new survey of children’s picture books finds gender stereotypes—nurturing mothers, breadwinning fathers—remain stubbornly persistent.” Via Jen Robinson.

First Readers vs. Manuscript Critique by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: “When you finish your draft, do you look for a manuscript critique or a first reader? They are different and serve different purposes.”

Graphic Novels: What Are They and Why Should I Care? from Austin SCBWI. Note: Delve into the world of graphic novels on Oct. 5 with a Graphic Novel Workshop, featuring author/illustrator Dave Roman, author Cynthia Leitich Smith and First Second Books Senior Editor Calista Brill; sponsored by Austin SCBWI.

Character and Series Backstory and the Traditional Mystery by Elizabeth S. Craig from Mystery Writing is Murder. Peek: “Many readers won’t put their finger on exactly what it was that made the story boring, but they’ll put it aside. No one really enjoys an expository dump of information—they just want an engaging story.”

Banned Books Month: Dori Hillstestad Butler on How Censorship Changed Her from E. Kristin Anderson from Write All the Words! Peek: “…I never expected to face such a public challenge. I never expected to make ALA’s list of most challenged books. I never expected strangers to see a 3-minute segment on ‘Fox and Friends’ and think they know all about me and my motivation for writing such ‘trash.'”

In Defense of Quiet Picture Books (Or Still Waters Run Deep) by Marsha Diane Arnold
from The Picture Book Academy Blogettes. Peek: “Having recently sold a
quiet picture book text, I pondered what made it different from my other
rejected quiet stories. I came up with a list describing what the best
quiet books do and what picture book writers should aim for.”

From The SCBWI

“The SCBWI congratulates Edie Parsons of Athens, Georgia, as the winner of the first annual Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award for authors over the age of 50 who have not been traditionally published in the children’s literature field. Edie has written several children’s books and won the award for ‘Mercury Sea,’ a middle grade fantasy novel about the poetry of historical alchemy.

“The grant was established by Newbery Award winner and Newbery Honor Book recipient Karen Cushman and her husband, Philip Cushman, in conjunction with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Karen published her first children’s book, The Midwife’s Apprentice (Clarion)(winner of the 1996 Newbery Medal), at the age of 53 and has gone on to become one of the field’s most acclaimed novelists.”

This Summer at Cynsations

More Personally

Hello, big bird!

Embracing my inner butterfly!
Rocking the Austin skyline before “A Chorus Line” at the Long Center.

Cynthia Leitich Smith on Staying Sane, Good Vibes and Author Platforms from Deborah Lytton at Adventures in Writing. Peek: “Pay attention but don’t obsess. If you’re losing followers in droves, you might want to take a look at your recent content and ask why. If you’re not building steadily, you may want to amp things up a bit.”

Congratulations to Anne Bustard on signing with Emily Mitchell of Wernick & Pratt, and congratulations to Emily on signing Anne!

Congratulations to Amy Goldman Koss on receiving the 2013 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship! Peek: “…provides a writer with a measure of financial sustenance in order to make possible an extended period of time to complete a book-length work-in-progress. The fellowship is supported by an endowment fund established by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and confers a prize of $5,000 on the honoree.”

Anna Boll Is Now Available for Hire to Write Curriculum Guides for Books from Creative Chaos. Peek: “When you provide teachers with a Teacher/Reader Guide, they are more likely to buy a class or reading group set of your book to go with it.”

Personal Links

8 thoughts on “Cynsational News

  1. So glad Cynsations is back – I've missed reading it the past two months. Thanks for the link to the post about endings, just what I need as I dive back into revision.

  2. Glad you're back. Thanks for the links. The Class of 2014 blog link will be helpful as I set my debut MG and YA author interviews for next year at Literary Rambles.

  3. Thanks, Brenda & Lin!

    Deborah, Kathi gives me too much credit, but I'm honored to witness her genius in action.

    Good luck with your revision, Gayleen! I'm rooting for you!

    Happy interviewing, Natalie!

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