Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

The Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC, announces its 38th Annual Nonfiction Award presentation to Steve Sheinkin at noon April 25 at Clyde’s Gallery Place Restaurant in Washington DC. The Guild’s Nonfiction Award celebrates a body of work that has “contributed significantly to the quality of nonfiction for children.”

The Award committee cited Sheinkin’s superb ability to find the heart of the story, to narrate nonfiction with passion, veracity and accuracy, and to engage young readers and provide them with a front row seat as witnesses to history.

According to Sheinkin, an early job writing history textbooks provided the inspiration for his career as a writer of nonfiction for young readers. “Only by doing this kind of [textbook] writing did I come to realize how much I love the process of finding and telling true stories.”

Sheinkin’s most recent book about soldiers of color during World War II is Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. His other acclaimed history books for middle-grade and young adult readers include Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon; The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery; and King George: What Was His Problem? The Whole Hilarious Story of the American Revolution.

More News

Author Elizabeth Fixmer on Religion, Spirituality & Cults by Ann Angel from The Pirate Tree. Peek: “I want kids to put themselves in Eva’s world and raise all of the questions the book engenders: Is this stuff real? Why do people follow cult leaders? Why don’t they just leave?”

Revising and Re-imaging Your Picture Book Webinar with Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson from Kids Books Revisions. Schedule: 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST April 29, May 6, May 13, May 20, May 27, and June 3. $225; $180 for SCBWI members or early bird registrations. Limited to 100 registrants.

Making Vs. Following Fate by Mary Kole from Peek: “…when there’s a ‘Chosen One’ plot on my desk, I suggest that the writer find some agency for the character and let them lead certain events, rather than spend the bulk of the plot being groomed by others to fulfill a prophecy.”

A Comprehensive List of U.S. College- and University-Sponsored or -Hosted Children’s and Young Adult Literature Conferences, Festivals, and Symposia by Chris Barton from Bartography. Peek: “If I’ve missed any, or included some that no longer exist, won’t you please let me know in the comments section?”

Why Pelvic Pain is Absent from YA Fiction by Emma Di Bernardo from Disability in Kidlit. Peek: “With one in seven women estimated suffering from chronic pelvic pain (CPP), there is certainly enough readership and audience to warrant characters or storylines with a focus on chronic pelvic pain[1]. It’s bizarre and disappointing that despite these statistics, there are distinctly zero characters with this condition.”

SCBWI Work-In-Progress Awards from SCBWI. Peek: “The works submitted by winners and honorable mention recipients will be made available on a secure webpage and presented to a hand-selected group of editors for their consideration. Although this is not a guarantee of publication, the opportunity to have your work presented to acquiring editors, along with an SCBWI endorsement, is a unique opportunity.” Deadline: March 31.

Interview: Jo Knowles on Read Between the Lines by Debbi Michiko Florence from DEBtatistic Reads. Peek: “What happened was, in thinking about how and why we give and get the finger, I also started thinking about the various stereotypes that exist in high school. The jock. The cheerleader. The bully. The dork. You get the picture. And I thought, what if I explored how each of these characters was more than their stereotype?”

The View From Under the Fantasy Umbrella by Kimberley Griffiths Little at From the Mixed-Up Files…of Middle Grade Authors. Peek: “…each book we describe as ‘fantasy’ actually fits within a sub-category under the Umbrella of Fantasy. Herewith are the definitions of all those genres and a book list with suggested titles to explore.”

Writing a Personalized Query Letter by Ash Krafton from QueryTracker Blog. Peek: “…once I started looking at agent profiles, I realized that I’d have to go back to the query and tweak it. I’d written the query for me. In actuality, I should have written it for the agent.”

Agents: The Gateway to Author Engagement at Your Library and Beyond from New Leaf Literary Agency and Booklist. A free webinar at 1 p.m. CST. Peek: “Join Booklist and New Leaf Literary & Media agents for an hour-long, free webinar that will discuss the role of a literary agent, as well as describing how librarians, teachers, and booksellers can work directly with agents to forge relationships between authors and readers. Panelists will share examples of working with their YA authors, including Veronica Roth, Victoria Aveyard, Kody Keplinger, and Leigh Bardugo, and explain how they’ve connected with schools, libraries, and bookstores to coordinate events, panels, special mailings, social media interaction, and more.”


Tips When Writing Multiple Point of View Novels by Lisa Gail Green from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: “…when you have dual POVs, you have two internal arcs to plot and the decision of what scene is in whose point of view.”

How to Self-Publish Children’s Books Successfully by Darcy Pattison from Jane Friedman. Peek: “Projects that failed to find a home with a traditional publisher are finding a lucrative spot in the marketplace. My indie books have received starred reviews, national awards, been translated, been sold in the Smithsonian Museum stores, and are being read by kids every day. And that’s after only two years in business.”

Interview: Rad American Women A-Z’s Kate Schatz by J.L. Powers from The Pirate Tree. Peek: “When it came down to it, we selected people who had great stories of adversity and triumph that would be relate-able to young people.”

Guidelines for Evaluating and Selecting Native American Books for the Classroom by Debbie Reese from Proceed With Caution: Using Native American Folktales in Language Arts (Jan. 2007). Note: This resource also should be useful to writing teachers and students in selecting books to use as models for study.

“There Is Work To Be Done” – Walter Dean Myers by Sara Lissa Paulson from The Horn Book. Peek: “…reinstate the many book clubs that flourished in the 1970s, selling less-expensive printings of quality books at affordable prices. Today, instead of reprinting quality titles in hardcover, there is an urgent need for mass-printing and distributing quality books featuring the diverse world we live in and the diverse world we want to see flourish.”

The Word on Dialogue by Stacey Lee from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: “Let the action and context show you who is speaking. Dialogue tags can overwhelm a scene, and disrupt the flow of the narrative.” Note: Bonus points for examples from “Star Wars.”

Cynsational Screening Room

Women’s History Month 2015 by Sian Gaetano from The Horn Book. Peek: “In these picture-book biographies perfect for Women’s History Month, young women blaze trails and battle bigotry. From baseball and art to environmentalism and education, these leaders and their triumphs are to be celebrated.”

This Week at Cynsations

Cynsational Giveaways

The winners of the paperback edition of Feral Curse by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2015) were Alicia in Alabama and Jenna in Kentucky. The winners of Feral Pride by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2015) were Donna in Missouri, Kathi in New Jersey, and Aaron in Kansas. Note: Both books also are available in electronic editions.

The winners of signed copies of Towering by Alex Flinn (HarperTeen, 2013) were Gabby in Georgia and Susan in Virginia. The winners of Mirrored by Alex Flinn (HarperTeen, 2015) were Lisa in Kansas, Courntey in Louisianna, and Michelle in St. Louis.

More Personally

Cheers to the Austin SCBWI Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award Finalists!

Congratulations to We Need Diverse Books, Library Journal Movers & Shakers 2015!

Meet Cynthia Leitich Smith from WordMothers. Peek: “I hope to continue writing diverse protagonists and girl empowerment themes. I seek to lift up, to nurture and lead. The work of my students and mentees is absolutely precious to me. Cultivating community is key.”

With Andrea Rogers at Austin SCBWI’s Regional Conference.

Reminder! San Antonio Readers! Cynthia will sign the Feral series at 1 p.m. at Costo on March 14 in Selma, Texas. 

Check out Truth, Lies & Secrets by Katie Bircher from the Horn Book, which includes a review of Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves, edited by Ann Angel (Candlewick, 2015). Peek: “Cynthia Leitich Smith takes a characteristically paranormal approach in ‘Cupid’s Beaux’: ‘slipped’ angel Joshua must decide whether it’s ethical to conceal his celestial identity and woo human Jamal.”

Links of the Week: Listening Harder from Shelli Cornelison and New Website for Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers; see also Native Youth Literacy Project.

Personal Links

Honest Trailers: Cinderella

Cynsational Events

Reminder! San Antonio Readers! Cynthia will sign the Feral series at 1 p.m. at Costo on March 14 in Selma, Texas.

Now Available

Cynthia will appear from April 14 to April 17 at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Texas Library Association in Austin.

Join Cynthia from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. May 2 at Saratoga Springs Public Library for a celebration in conjunction with Saratoga Reads! at Saratoga Springs, New York. Note: Cynthia will be presenting Jingle Dancer (2000), Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001) and Indian Shoes (2002)(all published by HarperColllins).

Cynthia will serve as the master class faculty member from June 19 to June 21 May 2 at the VCFA Alumni Mini-Residency in Montpelier, Vermont.

Cynthia will speak from June 25 to June 30 on a We Need Diverse Books panel at the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco.