Cynsational News

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Congratulations to Jeff Crosby on the release of Rockabilly Goats Gruff (Holiday House, 2014). From the promotional copy:

Three rockin’ billy goats turn a grumpy troll into the biggest rockabilly fan at the honky-tonk, putting a fun twist on the classic fairytale.

Through the hills and hollows, three Billy goats are rollin’ to a gig at Nanny Gruff’s Shimmy Shack, home of the best barbecue and boogie music around. But to get there, the billies have to cross a bridge…and deal with a mean old troll. 

As each billy zooms up, the troll threatens to smash his instrument to smithereens. But that old square gets a heaping surprise when the rockin’ billies take him to Nanny’s, where he tastes her famous barbecue and hears that rockabilly beat. 

Before long, the troll hits the dance floor to rock and roll at every Rockabilly gig from that night on!

More News

Lessons from a Debut Author’s Year by Megan Shepherd from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: “It’s just the beginning of a new journey, one fraught with even more perils. Instead of competing with other aspiring writers, now you’re competing with other published authors, many of which are more successful, smarter, and better at marketing than you are.”

The School of Happy Endings by Anna Elliott from Writer Unboxed. Peek: “One viewpoint I’ve heard sometimes is that happy endings are less ‘realistic’ than sad ones. Which honestly strikes me as doubly odd– because no ending is especially realistic, really.”

11 Tips for Making a Book Trailer by Stina Lindenblatt from QueryTracker Blog. Peek: “Whether you need one is up to you. They can be an effective method to promote your book, or they can be a waste of money with no returns. If you do decide to make one, here are some tips for making the most out of yours.”

The Art of Aging and Writing from Marion Dane Bauer. Peek: “That narrowing has given me power, exactly the way flowing water becomes a torrent when confined between banks . . . so long as the banks don’t become so confining as to form a dam. We are fortunate that there are so many ways to keep the stream flowing.” See also Marion on The Origins of Inspiration.

Writer Diagnosis: Failure to Thrive by Kristi Holl from Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “The opposite of those symptoms would include feeling hope, having mental and emotional vitality when you write, being energized by your writing, delighting in your writing life, and feeling ‘alive’ when you are able to get in the flow! That would define ‘flourishing.'” See also Writing Fears & Doubts: See You Later, Alligator by Bruce Black from wordswimmer and Don’t Quit Before the Miracle by Robin Constantine from Adventures in YA Publishing.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: On Screen and On the Stage by Dawn Lairamore from Project Mayhem. Peek: “I think the subtlety of this is just brilliant. Pages and pages of dialogue replaced by less than thirty seconds at the most—and the tension in the marriage is still perfectly conveyed by the scene!”

Inscription: A Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for Teens: “We actively seek diversity for our stories — strong female characters, characters of color, and characters of a wide range of ethnicities, religions, sexualities, gender identities, and abilities. All authors deserve to be paid for their work, so we pay professional rates for all the fiction we publish.”

Reasons and Methods of Killing Characters–and One Reason Not To from Elizabeth Spann Craig. Peek: “Does this character have star quality?”

10 Rules for Rewriting History by Jennifer Cody Epstein from Writer Unboxed. Peek: “I’ve now published two novels of historical fiction, and am just starting on my third. Here are some ‘rules of thumb’ that have helped me in the process…”

Walking: A Universal Drug for Creativity by Katherine Longshore from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: “My first reaction was: Are you insane? I’m on a deadline, here! But then I closed my document, shut down my computer, and went for a walk.” See also The Health Hazards of Sitting by Bonnie Berkowitz and Patterson Clark from The Washington Post.

How Morals and Basic Needs Influence a Character’s Positive Traits by Becca Puglisi from Elizabeth Spann Craig. Peek: “Every character—protagonist, villain, sidekick, mentor, etc.—lives by a moral code. His beliefs about right and wrong are deeply embedded in his psyche and will influence his decisions, day-to-day actions, the way he treats people, how he spends his free time—they will impact every area of his life, including his personality.” See also Talent and Skills Entry: Hospitality by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers.

Cover Stories: Torn by Stephanie Guerra from Melissa C. Walker. Peek: “I also like the model because I can see both Latina and Eastern European characteristics in her face, and Stella is biracial Mexican and Croatian…”

VCFA/Goldblatt: Angela Johnson Scholarship for New Students of Color or Ethnic Minority by Anna J. Boll from Creative Chaos. Peek: “…the agent Barry Goldblatt established a scholarship in honor of Angela Johnson, the critically acclaimed African American poet and author of more than 40 books for children and young adults. She has won the Coretta Scott King Award three times, the Michael L. Printz Award, and received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003. Her work explores the lives of characters of color of all ages, in historical and contemporary settings and celebrates a myriad of experiences growing up in America.”

Approaching Large Revisions from Elizabeth Spann Craig. Peek: “This is a process for someone who really, really needs a process or has become frozen because there is so much to do and she doesn’t know where to start. It could work for someone with really limited time and a demanding day job. Or someone who has tried other methods without success.” See also Eight Tips to Get Your Manuscript to the Finish Line by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers.

The Craft of Writing: Writing a Series by Mindee Arnett from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: “…given the fact that the early books are already in print by the time I’m writing the later ones, this presents all kinds of challenges in creating a cohesive story arc.”

The Diversity 101 ALA Midwinter Conversation by Connie Hsu from CBC Diversity. Peek: “[Editors’] Fear of criticism should not be one of the challenges in bringing good, diverse books to the world, and while we are always aiming for authenticity and top-notch literary value, sometimes we have to step back and relax a little.” See also Industry Q&A with Publisher Donna Bray from CBC Diversity. Peek: “…I can’t help but look back with chagrin on the many beautiful, original, well-reviewed books I’ve published in this vein which have languished. Discoverability, an issue for so many books, seems to be that much more of a hurdle when it comes to diverse books.”

Revising Historical Friction by Laurel Synder from Nerdy Book Club. Peek: “As a kid I could handle any amount of bullying, aloneness, or family drama, because I had one real best friend. One person who thought I was the most awesome person in the world. Even if my jeans were cheap and I was no good at kickball.”

Authors Are Real People from Mette Ivie Harrison. Peek: “Authors whose books are made into TV shows or movies likely do not get any say in the adaptation. Complaining to them is not only hurtful, but useless.”

Do We Need Bridge Characters in Global Books for Kids? by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “…this literary premise of needing ‘bridge’ characters may be the reason why (a) global books don’t sell well without a big gatekeeper push, and (b) I got rejected for years and years because I was submitting books without them.” See also 10 Great Resources for Writing Cross-Culturally from Tu Books.

Book Promotion on Twitter from Janet Reid, Literary Agent. Peek: “Subtle promotion is a better strategy for the long haul. And Twitter is long haul promotion.” Source: QueryTracker Blog.

Agent-judged Pitch + Page Contest from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: “We will take the first 100 Middle Grade/Young Adult/New Adult entries submitted after noon on Feb. 15.”

Children’s-YA Book Awards & Lists

ALA Youth Media Awards from the American Library Association. Note: official mega round-up with photos and video. See also Top 10 Things You May Not Know About the Newbery by Monica Edinger from Nerdy Book Club and The Givers: What It Takes to Serve on the Newbery, Caldecott Committees by Shelley Diaz from School Library Journal.

Amazing Audio Books for Young Adults 2014 from YALSA.

2014 Recipients of the American Indian Youth Literature Award from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature. Winners: Caribou Song by Tomson Highway, illustrated by John Rombough (Fifth House); How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Novel by Tim Tingle (RoadRunner); and Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac (Tu). Honor Books: Danny Blackgoat: Navajo Prisoner by Tim Tingle (7th Generation) and If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (Scholastic).

2014 Amelia Bloomer List from the Feminist Task force of the American Library Association’s Social Responsibility Round Table.

2014 Notable Children’s Books from the Association of Library Service to Children.

Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill Wins Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction from The Horn Book.

Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children from the National Council of Teachers of English. Winner: A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Knopf).

Outstanding Science Trade Books from the National Science Teachers Association.

Cheers to Austinite Mary Sullivan on her Geisel & Notable!

2014 Rainbow List — GLBTQ Books for Kids & Teens from the Rainbow Project Committee.

2014 Sydney Taylor Book Awards Announced by Association of Jewish Libraries: Laurel Snyder, Catia Chien (The Longest Night: A Passover Story), Patricia Polacco (The Blessing Cup), and Neal Bascomb (The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi) Named Gold Winners from The Whole Megillah. Click for details and Honor Books.

2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults from YALSA.

Lemony Snicket’s The Dark Takes 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award by Shelley Diaz from School Library Journal. Click for Honor Books and Highly Commended titles.

See We’ll Never Know (post-award speculation) from The Horn Book and Book Awards: Four Questions from the Margins by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “Do any of the winning books or honorees feature a main character belonging to a group that has endured oppression in North America due to race or culture?” Note: look beyond those awards tied to ethnicity/culture.

See also ALA Youth Media Awards You May Not See Elsewhere from Crazy QuiltEdi, Thoughts on the Newbery This Year by Monica Edinger from Educating Alice (a former committee member finds out what it’s like to dream about “the call”) and Medal Worship: How I Stuck My Head in the Clouds and Got Crushed from Don Tate. Peek: “…my thoughts will also be will be with those who are predicted to win, but ultimately will not. Ever think about those people? Here is my story…”

2014 Asia Pacific American Award for Literature

Given by the Asian/Pacific American Library Association:

Source: 2014 ALA Midwinter Cognotes. Thanks to Rich in Color and Angie Manfredi. Note: broken out because an online listing for the award was challenging to link.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

Releases Feb. 11!

Whew! How’s this for a roundup? It’s been a huge week in children’s-YA publishing. Congratulations to the award winners and honorees! Thanks to the committee members who made it all possible.

FYI, it’s also eleven days until the North American release of Feral Curse and the paperback edition of Feral Nights from Candlewick Press. I’m not too proud to ask for love–go crazy with those pre-orders!

For those wondering if I’m ever coming out of the deadline cave, I’m pleased to report that I’m printing Feral Pride for this weekend’s read aloud before sending it to my editor early next week. So there.

What else? Each year Cynsations features debut children’s-YA authors and
illustrators in a New Voices/Visions interview series, which kicked off
again yesterday with Len Vlahos’s interview about The Scar Boys (Egmont, 2014).

Invitations to participate are extended to members of cooperative groups for first timers. It’s a way to reward them for becoming active in the children’s-YA writing-art community and to introduce them to fellow professional creatives in the industry.

Just for fun! Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary (not a real cow)

However, if you are a trade published debut author/illustrator and not involved in one of those organizations, I still welcome you to let me know if you’re interested in taking part.

Please send an email with your name, title, publisher, publication date and a link to more information. I’ll take a look and get back to you. If your debut title was released in 2013, I still consider that new, too.

Note: While independently published authors and illustrators occasionally appear at Cynsations, they’re not typically featured in conjunction with this particular series.

Interested in African-American children’s-YA literature? Check out: Shining the Spotlight: 28 Days Later 2014 Honorees from The Brown Bookshelf. Be sure to follow the celebration next month! On a related note, check out Top 10 Black History Books for Youth from Booklist.

In case you missed it, trending all over the Web is “The Fault in Our Stars” official movie trailer, based on the YA novel by John Green. And if you skipped it above, reconsider reading Revising Historical Friction by Laurel Synder. It’s the link that lingers with me this week.

Oh, and check out author Heather “Auntie Heather” Brewer’s new hair and editor Cheryl Klein’s photos from her honeymoon in India.

And for something off-topic, Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad won’t make you want beer. It’ll make you want a puppy and a horse. Or a puppy and several horses.

Congratulations to Janet S. Fox for signing with Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency and to Erin for signing Janet! 

Janet (far left) with me, Greg & Bethany Hegedus!

Interview with Bestselling Feral Series Author Cynthia Leitich Smith by Henry L. Herz from Kidlit, Fantasy & Sci Fi: Feed Your Head. Peek: “For me, it’s been a treat to interact with authors who were publishing when I was a young reader. Judy Blume once gave me a pep talk at a writing conference. I had a short story featured in the same anthology as Beverly Cleary. Magic.”

Even More Personally

More from a recent research trip to Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary (it’s a rescue zoo).

One of these is not a bear.

I’ve set a scene in Feral Pride (2015) outside this enclosure.

Personal Links

Cover Reveal (Chronicle, 2014)

Cynsational Events

The 2014 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference will be held Feb. 8 to Feb. 9 at the Marriott South Austin. Keynote speakers: YA author Matt de la Peña and author-illustrator Kelly Murphy.

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers will be held June 16 to June 21 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah. Keynote speaker: James Dashner; faculty includes Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith. Learn about the WIFYR Fellowship Award.

2 thoughts on “Cynsational News

  1. Cynthia,
    I just have to say how much I love your blog. I check out every post. It keeps my library list hopping! Love K.A. Holt's cover! The Rockabilly Goats Gruff is on my hold list at the library. Thanks for your love of literature and a great resource for readers and writers.

  2. Penny, thanks for your sweet note! I'm honored that you read Cynsations and find it useful. Hooray for KA Holt & Jeff Crosby–two great kidlit talents, to be sure! Thanks also for all you do for young readers!

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