Cynsational News

By Cynthia Leitich Smith & Gayleen Rabakukk

Writing Past The White Gaze As A Black Author by L.J. Alonge from NPR Code Switch. Peek: “… I found a video of Toni Morrison talking about the white gaze — the assumption that the reader is white and the resulting self-consciousness in your thinking and writing. Stories you know to be true and interesting somehow become distorted and unfamiliar.”

AICL’s Best Books of 2016 by Debbie Reese from American Indians in Children’s Literature. Includes comics and graphic novels, board books, picture books, middle grade and young adult titles.

When Google Translate Gives You Arroz con Mango: Erroneous Espanol and the Need for #ownvoices by Celia C. Perez from the Horn Book. Peek: “The fact that these mistakes keep slipping through various cracks — from author, to editor, to copyeditor, to reviewer — speaks to the low number of Latinxs in writing, publishing, reviewing, and librarianship. And this lack of representation… has, inadvertently, become an invitation for non-Spanish-speaking authors to fill this void, even when they know little to nothing about the culture or the language.” See also: Helen Wang, Winner of the 2017 Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation, interviewed by Nanette McGuiness from SCBWI: The Blog.

The #OwnVoices Gap in African-American Children’s Books by K.T. Horning from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center blog. Peek: “We can see that there are a whole lot of books being written about African Americans these days by people who are not African American….more significantly, this means we are not seeing African-American authors and artists being given the same opportunities to tell their own stories….” In 2016, only 71 of the 278 (25.5%) books about African-Americans were written and/or illustrated by African Americans.

Biographies: Black Women by Edi Campbell from Crazy QuiltEdi. Peek: “It does young girls good to know that women rulers have always existed…”

Interview With Whitney Gardner about You’re Welcome, Universe by Andrea Shettle & Natasha Razi from Disability in Kidlit. Peek: “I was interested in refreshing my ASL while writing this book, so I hired a deaf tutor. Once a week we would meet and chat and practice ASL. She also ended up reading the book and offering her insights.”

We Need Diverse Books Announces the Opening of Applications for the 2017 Internship Grants. Peek: “Five $2,500 grants are available to diverse publishing and literary agency interns. New this year, WNDB will include a metro stipend to each intern….An internship is an important gateway into positions at publishing houses and agencies, but the expense of living in New York City can be a barrier to many well qualified candidates.” See also, Free Diverse Picture Books For Elementary Schools: WNDB is giving away 30 sets of diverse picture books to elementary school libraries. Application deadline: March 15.

The Professional Writer Skill Set by Heidi Fiedler from SCBWI: The Blog. Peek: “And remember growing as a writer is about more than practicing writing. It’s about growing as a human being. So be gentle with yourself. Being human isn’t always easy.”

SCBWI-Illinois Launches Diverse New Member Pathway, intended to increase diversity among children’s book creators and among members of SCBWI. One winner will receive a year’s free membership in SCBWI and be guided by author Crystal Chan. See also, the SCBWI Amber Brown Grant for schools that need funding help for author visits.

Cover and excerpt from Libba Bray’s new book by Dan Heching from Entertainment Weekly. Peek:”Taking place in 1920s New York City, Before the Devil Breaks You (Little Brown, Oct. 3, 2017) sees the Diviners pitted agasint a brand new malevolent force – ghosts, with mysterious and dangerous links to the Man in the Stovetop Hat.”

Changes in New York Times Children’s Books Coverage by Emma Kantor from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Young adult coverage in particular has increased in frequency to reflect the genre’s popularity among both teens and adults. Coverage of teen books will remain separate from children’s coverage in print, in an effort to reach more readers.”

Five questions for Cynthia Levinson by Elissa Gershowitz and Katie Bircher from The Horn Book. Peek: “As I wrote, I could hear Audrey and Jan talking (in my head), so Audrey’s personality comes through. Also, the story is told in a mix of third person and first person, which allowed me to both provide background information and channel Audrey’s sass and grit.”

Conflict and Suspense Belong in Every Kind of Novel by James Scott Bell from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: “While there those who say plot comes from character, I say Bosh. Character comes from plot. Why? Because true character is only revealed in crisis.”

The Daily Practice of Growing Your Audience by Dan Blank from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: “I frame the process as crafting a gateway that leads people to your writing, opening the gate to your ideal readers, and then leading them through your gateway in meaningful ways. It is a process filled with joy, not spammy marketing tactics.” See also: Help From the Pros: Book Tour Tips by Greer Macallister from Writer UnBoxed.

Una Belle Townsend

Congratulations to author Una Belle Townsend! The Riverside Elementary School Library in El Reno, Oklahoma; was recently named in her honor. Una Belle taught at the school and successfully wrote grants that helped expand the library. She is the author of seven books, including Grady’s in the Silo, illustrated by Bob Artley (Pelican, 2003), winner of the Oklahoma Book Award.

This Week at Cynsations

Cynsational Screening Room

More Personally – Cynthia

Last week, I mentioned trimming 15,000 words from my novel in progress. This week, I’m writing new scenes. Whereas the previous plot was all about character, this is where getting to know those fictional people pays off in plot–I hope. Cross fingers for me, Cynsational readers!

Cynsational Events

Cynthia Leitich Smith will be a keynote speaker for the 33rd Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference on April 6 and April 7 at Kent State University in Ohio.

In addition, she will deliver the keynote address at The Color of Children’s Literature Conference from Kweli Literary Journal on April 8 at the New York Times Conference Center in Manhattan.

Also teaching Highlights workshop: Uma Krishnaswami!

She is also a faculty member for the Highlights Foundation Workshop: The Joke’s On You! The Scoop on Humor for MG and YA writers, Oct. 12 – 15. She will teach with author Uma Krishnaswami, writer-poetic-comedian Sean Petrie and Curtis Brown Ltd. agents Ginger Knowlton and Elizabeth Harding. Note: this program is: (a) a rare opportunity to gain insights from top writing teachers and Curtis Brown vice presidents: (b) both for comedy writers and those writing more serious works that include some comic relief.

Personal Links

More Personally – Gayleen

I enjoyed a great literary lunch with Anne Bustard and Varsha Bajaj followed by an afternoon of writing. We were having so much fun talking books and stories, that I forgot to take pictures….

Personal Links