Cynsational News

By Cynthia Leitich Smith & Gayleen Rabakukk

Where Do We Go From Here? by Pat Cummings from the Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “…until books featuring diverse characters are actively marketed to mainstream audiences, diverse books will stay a niche section of the bookstore and a niche in publishers’ marketing plans.”

A Cheat’s Guide to Writing a Synopsis by Sarah Juckes from Writers Helping Writers Peek: “The point of your synopsis is to explain the main plot to the reader. It is a technical document and doesn’t need to ‘sell’ your book – your book will do that. This is the golden rule.”

A Plea to Publishers by K. Imani Tennyson from Rich in Color. Peek: “…this year I only went to two panels…I chose not to attend them because the diversity in the panel was glaringly absent. I also did not see publishers pushing any of their authors of color…what do I mean by being ‘pushed’? I’m talking about giveaways, signage, call to action items…”

In the Age of Conventions, YA Fans Rule by Sue Corbett from Publishers Weekly.  Peek: “’Movie, TV, and comic book character cosplay has made room for literary cosplay,’ says Brett Cohen, president of Quirk Books.”

“Gray Area” Stories: Novels For Older Middle School Readers by Laurie Morrison from Project Mayhem. Peek: “I’ve rarely heard anyone say that middle grade novels shouldn’t deal with hard, sad topics; that seems to be okay, but certain language and certain kinds of crushes and romances are a no-go, many people think.”

Celebration of Humor & Women in Kidlit & YA  by Elizabeth Bird from School Library Journal. Peek: “A true trickster is clever and foolish. A hero and destructive. Half the time female ‘tricksters’ are trapped in marriages and the like. That’s no life for them.”

Agent Spotlight Interview With Lorin Oberweger by Natalie Aguirre from Literary Rambles. Peek: “…it has less to do with genre and more to do with character development, plot, and theme. I love characters who demonstrate some level of agency right away. I love to experience a world that I wouldn’t have an opportunity to experience outside of the pages of the book.”

Do I Cite My Magazine Writing in My Query Letter? by Deborah Halverson  from Dear Editor. Peek: “Presuming the magazines are editorially discriminating and of professional quality, I support mentioning them in the credentials portion of your query letter. You’re seeding confidence in your professionalism and your writing chops.” See also Writing 101: The Dreaded Query Letter by Laura Weymouth from Adventures in YA Publishing.

Complex Characters and the Power of Contradiction by September C. Fawkes from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: “The contradictions I’m talking about aren’t continuity errors or mistakes. They can relate to internal conflicts, but they are not internal conflicts. If you don’t like the term ‘contradiction,’ many of the things I’m about to talk about also work as ‘contrasts.'”

Sheryl Scarborough on To Catch A Killer! by Adi Rule from the VCFA LaunchPad. Peek: “…denial might be what gets us through the day. But no matter how deep down you push it, your truth is going to find its way out. Needless to say, this was exactly the depth my book was lacking and finding it made all the difference for me as a writer.”

Bookseller Suing California Over ‘Autograph Law’ by Jason Boog from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Assembly Bill 1570 requires anyone selling autographed books to provide an extremely detailed ‘certificate of authenticity’ with each book…Per the new law, booksellers must keep the certificates for seven years…”

The “And then!” Plot by Jane Lebak from the QueryTracker Blog. Peek: “It’s as though the story itself were a bunch of snapshots. Sure, the main characters keep getting together, and sure, they’ll probably have their Happily Ever After at the end, but it’s not satisfying because none of the events are related to each other…The solution to this is to figure out how to connect your plot points with ‘And therefore’ instead.”

Jenny Han on Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Melissa Walker from TeenVogue. Peek: “…you don’t see this girl — the one who stays home baking and making scrapbooks on a Friday night — represented as much in media. Lara Jean is also very content in her circumstances. She’s not struggling with Asian identity or worrying about not having a boyfriend.”

Under The Skylight: Revision by Erin Dionne from The Writers Loft Blog. Peek: “Having the ability to revise, to not be precious about your words so that you can clearly execute your book’s idea, is one of the single best skills you can cultivate as an author.”

10 Amazing Results of Author Visits from The Booking Biz. Peek: “Some children find it difficult to connect with even those who are closest to them. But characters in books can reach those children, and the authors who created them become instant friends.”

Deborah Hopkinson on Independence Cake  from Jama’s Alphabet Soup. Peek: “My new picture book…is most decidedly fiction….The real Amelia Simmons authored American Cookery, the first American cookbook….Although historians know little about her, she may have been a ‘bound girl’…the actual Amelia no doubt led a much harsher existence than her fictional counterpart.”

New Canadian Children’s Books by Kathleen Keenan from Book Riot. Peek: “Blackflies is (Robert) Munsch’s second picture book with Indigenous artist and writer (Jay) Odjick and is based on a story Munsch learned while staying with a family in northern Alberta. Munsch’s trademark humo(u)r is on display here and pairs well with Odjick’s cartoon-inspired style.”

Writers Of Color Discussing Craft – An Invisible Archive by Neil Aitken from de- canon. Peek: “Junot Diaz often comments on the fact he’s almost never asked to speak about craft, and instead always is asked to talk about race, identity, and the immigrant experience…I’m struck by how few POC-authored books on writing I’ve seen.” Note: includes resource list.

Ask the Agent by Jennifer Laughran from Tumblr.  Peek: “I haven’t heard from my agent in over two months despite a few e-mails to check in. Am I about to be dropped?”

Mary Atkinson on Tillie Heart and Soul by Adi Rule from the VCFA Launchpad. Peek: “…writing superpower? Persistence. Persistence in holding onto a spark of an idea for years…persistence in believing in myself as a writer with self-doubt always knocking at the door, persistence in showing up to do the work.”

Books and Authors: Talking with Julie Flett by Kay Weisman from Booklist. Peek: “Though my grandparents were multilingual, they did not pass their indigenous languages (Swampy Cree, Michif) on to their children. Just before my grandfather passed away, I asked him if he would speak to me in Cree. He did….this is when I really started to think about what it means to lose the language in our families.”

The Therapeutic Benefits of Writing a Novel by Jessica Lourey from Writer unBoxed. Peek: “All I knew was that my brain wasn’t spinning as much and I was beginning to feel again, even if it was the emotions of fictional characters….Through the gentle but challenging exercise of writing a novel, I was learning how to control stories, which is what our lives are—stories.”

Character Motivation Entry: Being The Best At Something by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: “What does your character want? This…determines what your protagonist hopes to achieve by the story’s end. If the goal, or outer motivation, is written well, readers will identify fairly quickly what the overall story goal’s going to be and they’ll know what to root for.”

Interview with A.S. King by Inky from Inside a Dog. Peek: “….during my 15-year-long path to publication, I was turned down by many an adult publisher because my work was ‘too weird’. In the YA world, they embrace the weird. I tend to dig deep into difficult subject matter that I wouldn’t be able to write about without using surreal elements.”

Submit Your Picture Book Manuscript to the New Voices Award from the Lee & Low Blog. Peek: “Change requires more than just goodwill; it requires concrete action. The New Voices Award is a concrete step towards evening the playing field by seeking out talented new authors of color who might otherwise remain under the radar of mainstream publishing.” (Open to writers of color who have not previously had a children’s picture book published.) Deadline is Sept. 30.

Encouraging Reluctant/Dyslexic Readers  by Ela Lourenco from the SCBWI Blog. Peek: “…my best source of knowledge was from Larissa herself and my students in my children’s creative writing workshops. They explained to me what would help them become engrossed in a book and how I, as an author, could make reading not only enjoyable but easier for them.”

Puppies and Literacy by Erin Lovelace from ALSC Blog. Peek: “We serve many kids with Autism, behavioral challenges and developmental delays. This amazing pup is able to disarm them all. Their walls come down and they open up so quickly.”

Margarita Engle Named Young People’s Poet Laureate  from the Poetry Foundation. Peek: “‘Margarita Engle’s passion, knowledge of nature, and curiosity about the world make her work fascinating to children and adults alike,’ says Henry Bienen, president of the Poetry Foundation.”

European Commission’s New E-book Rules Worry Booksellers by Ed Nawotka from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “…a measure that would allow countries to set VAT for e-books at the lower levels applied to print books…. the EU has issued a new rule mandating the elimination of ‘geo-blocking of copyrighted material,’…The result is that any bookseller in the EC offering e-books will be required to fulfill orders from any customer in the EC.”

Movie Alert: ‘Everything, Everything‘  by Matia Burnett from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Though the love story between Maddy and Olly is central to Everything, Everything, the romantic element wasn’t what first led Yoon to write the novel…she developed the book following the birth of her daughter… she began thinking about what it might be like to have a child who was unusually vulnerable to the outside world.”

The We Need Diverse Books Internship Grant deadline is May 31.

Congratulations to Joy Harjo, who was awarded the 2017 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and to the 2017 Indies Choice and E.B. White Read-Aloud Award winners and the Banford Boase Award Shortlist nominees!

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally – Cynthia

“I am Groot!”

I am not on deadline! I know, you’re shocked. It seems odd to me, too. I turned in the revision of my contemporary Native YA novel to my Candlewick editor on Friday afternoon and celebrated by going to see “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” at the Alamo Drafthouse last weekend.

Since then, I’ve been quietly productive. I’ve critiqued a picture book manuscript for one writer friend, a middle grade novel for another.

I’ve written four short articles inspired by my work in progress to be shared in conjunction with the 2018 release date.

The latter probably sounds like an early (perhaps even premature) effort, and it is. But I have a window, and I’ve found that I should take advantage when that happens.

Also, the manuscript is much fresher in my mind now than it will be after more than a year in production. Besides, VCFA packets will be incoming shortly, so I don’t have time to sink into anything else.

Reminder: In May, the ebook edition of my novel Feral Nights is on sale for only $1.99!

Personal Links

How Much Would Fictional Houses Cost? 
Nigeria exchanges 82 Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram for prisoners
Czech Girl Scout Whose Confrontation With Neo-Nazi Went Viral Now Getting Police Protection

More Personally – Gayleen

In between revising my middle grade historical fantasy, I’ve been reading Lady Mechanika by Joe Benitez, the comic my daughter picked out for me at Free Comic Book Day. And the teaser worked! I loved it and will be buying the rest of the series.

As you might’ve guessed, Lady Mechanika is steampunk, an alternative history with advanced forms of technology. My own work-in-progress is also alternative history with advanced technology and a healthy dose of unease about that technology. It’s something people worried about in the early 1900’s and it’s still with us today – perhaps even more so.

Personal Links

No Longer a Dream: Silicon Valley Takes on the Flying Car
Self-Driving Cars Could Be Here Sooner Than You Think