Cynsational News & San Diego Zoo Pics

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cover Reveal: Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj (Albert Whitman, 2014). From the promotional copy:

What’s the one thing you want most in your life? Abby Spencer wants a life of excitement!

Well, sort of. Actually, that’s a lie. All Abby really wants is to meet her father. It’s not that she’s ungrateful for what she has – nice mom, adorable grandparents, great friends – but she feels like something’s missing. And she’d never tell anyone that.

Abby knows her dad lives in India, but she’s never met him and doesn’t know much else about him. But Abby’s mom realizes it’s time to have the big talk. It’s time for Abby to finally meet her father.

But does he want to meet her? Is Abby ready for the truth? Abby’s about to find out that her dad lives a very different life in a very different country and she’s going to experience it all, for better or worse. This is what happens when all your wishes come true…

Craft of Writing: Not Thinking About Characters by Brian Yansky from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: “Ultimately, characters are the heart of fiction for me. I don’t think you can think them into existence with charts and outlines though. You have to create the character from inside the character and you will make the right choices because you’re acting and reacting from this other place within. You are the character in a sense.”

Craft Talk Tuesday with Amy Rose Capetta, Author of Entangled from Bethany Hegedus at The Writing Barn. Peek: “I loved ensemble casts, and I still do. But as a writer, I had to admit that while some stories work without a protagonist at the center, most of the ensemble stories I love still tend to have a central character. So it became a challenge of learning how to craft protagonists that I cared about, who weren’t just pushing the reader through the story at a forced march while the rest of the characters put on the real show all around them.”

Review of Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl Klein from Harold Underdown at The Purple Crayon. Peek: “This is not a writing guide–though it contains a sizable amount of very helpful material for writers–because it goes beyond being a writing guide to get its readers thinking about the elements of good children’s and YA literature, and to provide insight into the publishing process and the interests and personality of one particular editor.”

Making a Picture Book Text Dummy by JoAnn Early Macken from Teaching Authors. Peek: “At first, I thought “dummy” meant one of those pages of little boxes that illustrators use to create storyboards. I’m not an illustrator, so I couldn’t see the point. I could never fit all my text into those teensy little squares!”

Attention Librarians: Apply for an ALSC Día Family Book Club Mini-Grant from Children’s Book Council. Peek: “Up to 15 mini-grants will be awarded at $2,000 each to public libraries that demonstrate a need to better address diversity within their communities through Día Family Book Club programs.” See more information.

What Makes a Good Urban YA Novel? by Randy Ribay from The Horn Book. Peek: “Urban literature for young adults puts human faces to the lives behind the statistics, reminding teen readers — both those of whom live in the inner city and those who don’t — that people are people above and beyond their zip codes and the constraints by which society attempts to define them.” Note: The current label “urban” as a label isn’t spot on, but you’ll get the idea.

Bridget Jones, Allegiant and Fans by Elizabeth Burns from A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy. Peek: “I’ve found that overall I enjoy the viewing and reading experience when I don’t judge the story on what I wish to happen, but on whether what does happen makes sense for the story and the characters.”

Tweep Tip: @JoWhittemore is posting writing tips on a regular basis. Visit her Tweet deck to read them all.

The SCBWI Website has been revamped and relaunched with new features and opportunities for members. Registration for the 2014 Winter Conference opens today at 10 a.m. PDT. Peek: “You can register online at or by phone (323-782-1010). You must be a current SCBWI member at the time of registration to be eligible for the member’s discount.”

Neil Gaiman Reading Agency Lecture 2013

See also the text of the speech from The Reading Agency. Source: YA Books and More.

This Week at Cynsations

With Deborah Halverson and her sons at the new Central Library

More Personally

Apologies, Cynsational readers! This week’s roundup is abbreviated as I’ve been in touring around with One Book, One San Diego (for Kids!). However, I am attempting to make up for it with pictures of adorable koalas, a baby giraffe, and a cougar (see below) from the San Diego Zoo.

Congratulations to chidren’s author-illustrator Katie Davis on the sale of her first young adult novel to Diversion Books. Note: Katie began working on this story at WriteFest, a novel writing workshop at the Leitich Smith home in 2005.

Thank you to librarian Julie Salvato & Lampasas High School for your hospitality during last week’s school visit!

Personal Links:

Even More Personally

Highlights of this week included a visit to the San Diego Zoo.

Not a real bear

Koala cuteness

Giraffes come in small, medium and large.

Cougar, panther, puma, inspiration.

Cynsational Events

Cynthia Leitich Smith joins featured authors at the Texas Book Festival Oct. 26 and Oct. 27 at the State Capitol Building in Austin. She will speak at the “Girl Power(s)” session with Kami Garcia, P.J. Hoover and Jessica Khoury from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in Capitol Extension Room E2.014, with a book signing immediately following. Moderator: Sean Petrie.

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith at the Illumine Award Nov. 8 at the downtown Hilton in Austin, Texas.

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith at the Kidlitosphere Conference Nov.  9 in Austin, Texas. Check out the program and register today!

Cynthia Leitich Smith (Feral Nights) and P.J. Hoover (Solstice) will sign their new releases from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Barnes & Noble in Round Rock, Texas.

Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith will speak at the Florida Association for Media in Education Conference Nov. 20 to Nov. 22 in Orlando.

The Craft & Business of Writing: Everything You wanted to Know About Writing,
a fundraiser featuring C.C. Hunter, Miranda James and Lori Wilde for
the Montgomery County Book Festival, on Nov. 16 at Lone Star College
Montgomery Campus in Houston. Fee: $100. Registration deadline: Nov. 10.
See more information. Register here.