Cynsational News & Giveaways

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Illustrator April Chu Takes Us Behind the Art of Summoning the Phoenix from Lee & Low. Peek: “…gives readers an inside look into centuries-old Chinese musical instruments and the more recently formed modern Chinese Orchestra.”

Anti-heroes: Why Devious is So Delectable, and Where Are All the Women? by Heather Webb from Writer Unboxed. Peek: “I skimmed my books, looking for these dark characters and after I had gathered a few, I analyzed what made them so dadgum fun to read. This is what I discovered…”

Serving Military Families in the Public Library by Jan Marry from ALSC Blog. Peek: “…over two million American children have had a parent deployed since 9/11, and current military families total over five million people. If you include veterans, military retirees, Department of Defense civilians, grown military children, and parents of military members, interested people can live anywhere and be served by any library, including yours.”

Talent and Skills Entry: A Knack for Languages by Becca Puglisi from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: “They naturally pick up on patterns and nuances, quickly learn to understand other languages, and are able to speak them fluently in record time. A knack for languages can also enable people to cue in on the cultural cues, idioms, and humor of a culture, which can be difficult for outsiders to grasp.”

Secrets to a Good Logline by Mary Kole from Peek: “Nailing it in one sentence is more of an exercise for you than a requirement of getting published.”

Learn more about this wordless picture book.

How Wordless Picture Books Empower Children by Sarah Bayliss from School Library Journal. Peek: “Because these stories are conveyed visually, children are free to interpret as they wish and project their own emotions, the panelists said.”

Celebrating the Critique Comments I Don’t Agree With from Shelli Cornelison. Peek: “All critique comments are valid, even the ones (maybe especially these) that I don’t agree with. If I ask someone to take their time to give me feedback, I want their honest feedback.”

Publishing Under a Pseudonym by Jael McHenry from Writer Unboxed. Peek: “As I said, I think it’s the right choice, and I’m thrilled. It’s another debut, where I can use what I learned from the first debut, but starting with an external clean slate. It just feels…kind of weird.”

On Definitions: Independent vs. Self Publishing from Joshua Isard’s Blog. Peek: “Independent publishers are presses not connected to a larger media conglomeration. … A lot of times the term ‘small press’ is used to describe these publishing houses, and I’m not even sure that’s accurate now. Graywolf, for example, isn’t really small, though it is independent.”

14 Tips to Surviving Your Book Signing by Stina Lindenblatt from QueryTracker. Peek: “Bring candy to entice readers to stay long enough for you to chat with them. The other benefit of the candy is it will provide you the necessary energy to survive the long book signing session, and you will be popular with the authors near you when you share it.” Note to children’s authors: some kids (and adults) will gravitate to candy, but health-conscious parents/caregivers may become vexed at you for putting it in play (and perhaps triggering a meltdown if they say “no”).

How to Create a Villain by Michael Noll from Read to Write Stories. Peek: “The problem with creating villains is that the word usually makes us think of characters like Sauron from The Lord of the Rings or Darth Vader—i.e. characters whose evil exists on a grand scale. Most stories simply don’t have room for that kind of character.”

Creating a Believable Tween Voice by Anna Staniszewsky from Janet S. Fox at Through the Wardrobe. Peek: “Not all young people sound the same, so if you’re writing what you think a thirteen-year-old sounds like instead of what your specific character sounds like, you probably won’t get very far.”

Catalyst and Catharsis by Donald Maass from Writer Unboxed. Peek: “…what is the catalyst event that causes the seething pot of your protagonist’s inner conflicts to boil over? How does your protagonist act out? What is released? What change results?”

The Muscle-Flexing, Mind-Blowing Book Girls Will Inherit the Earth by Linda Holmes from NPR. Peek: “There are boys and men and older women who love many of the books that the Book Girls do, but it is the Book Girls who scream at authors the way people screamed at The Beatles on ‘Ed Sullivan.’

BookReels, an MVT for Books? by Wendy Werris from Publishers Weekly.  Peek: “BookReels, a dedicated interactive website that allows publishers and authors to post multimedia visuals ranging from animated book covers to trailers, is now available for readers as a unique way to preview and browse books.”

2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature

Picture Book Award Winner: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (Little, Brown)

Fiction Award Winner: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (Dutton)

Nonfiction Award Winner: The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Book)

See also honor books and more information.

 Cynsational Giveaways

The winners of The Poetry Friday Anthology for
Science: Poems for the School Year Integrating Science, Reading and
Language Arts (plus a student
were Crystal in Wisconsin, Frances in Illinois, and Lauren in Washington.

See also a chance to win Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (Arthur A. Levine), winner of SCBWI’s 2014 Sid Fleischman Humor Award, from SCBWI: The Blog. Note: post includes interview with Bill by Lee Wind.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally 

Farewell author-librarian-goddess Jeanette Larson! Austin misses you already!
With author-illustrator Don Tate — look for him at the upcoming ALA Conference!

Busy week! I’m combing through the copy edits for Feral Pride (Book 3 in the Feral trilogy), working on an interview for The ALAN Review and musing on my lesson plans for WIFYR.

Bashi and Leo “help” with my Feral Pride copy edits.

It’s also come to my attention that I’ve surpassed 15,000 followers @CynLeitichSmith on Twitter. Thanks for the support! I’m hugely flattered and vaguely baffled by this development.

I’m honored that my picture book, Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Morrow/HarperCollins) was included in Grace Lin’s Cheat Sheet for Selling Diversity in conjunction with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks panel at BEA.

See also Lynn Miller-Lachmann’s report on the panel itself and #We NeedDiverseBooks Announces Initiatives from Publishers Weekly.

On a related note, I appreciate SCBWI Executive Director Lin Oliver’s open letter on diversity and my online pick of the week is “Exotic” in Wisconsin by author Crystal Chan. Take the three minutes to listen to her thoughts on growing up biracial in the midwestern U.S. Peek: “…the word ‘exotic’ reflects only the speaker’s perspective.”

As a YA author reading Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (Knopf, 2013), this mother-character-voiced paragraph (not Bridget-voiced) jumped out at me:

“‘So you can just sit on this doorstep and instead of putting your ENTIRE BRAINS into getting to the next level on MINECRAFT, you can apply them to CHANGING MY MIND about letting you back in. And don’t you dare touch that dustbin or I shall enter you in the HUNGER GAMES.'”

YA lit is definitely permeating the international lexicon.

In other media, having seen the female love interest fridged this month in “Godzilla,” “Looper,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” (yes, of course I saw that one coming) and “Supernatural” (for the third time in the series), “Malificent” came as a relief.

Caveat: I would never take a trope off the table, if only because, in the right hands, it could be played for, say, juxtaposition or irony.

Congratulations to Greg Leitich Smith on his rave review of Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn (Roaring Brook, 2014) from The Horn Book! Peek: “…Aidan, Louis, and Dru must depend on one another in a plot that twists and turns like a roller coaster through the engaging setting. The book design and spot cartoon art with a retro space-age feel work well with the wacky characters and situations of this enjoyably beach-y sci-fi escape.”

Personal Links

Currently reading!

Cynsational Events

Middle Grade Mayhem! Join Varian Johnson, Greg Leitich Smith and Jennifer Ziegler in celebrating their new novels at 2 p.m. June 14 at BookPeople in Austin. See more information. Don’t miss this article about Varian and The Great Greene Heist (Scholastic) from Kirkus Reviews.

Breaking news! Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith will speak at the Writers’ League of Texas 2014 Agents and Editors Conference to be held at the Hyatt Regency Austin from June 27 to June 29 in Austin, Texas.

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith in discussing Feral Curse (Candlewick, 2014) with the YA Reading Club at 11 a.m. June 28 at Cedar Park Public Library in Cedar Park, Texas.

One thought on “Cynsational News & Giveaways

  1. WOW, Cynthia, talk about a PACKED post! lol So much to feast on here and loving so much of what I'm seeing highlighted. And, of course, congrats to Greg (your husband, I'm assuming?) Great stuff. Thanks!

Comments are closed.