Cynsational News

By Cynthia Leitich SmithRobin Galbraith,
Gayleen Rabukukk & Kate Pentecost 

Author/Illustrator Insights

Day 28: YA Panel and Day 28.5 YA Panel Part 2 from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek:

“Treat yourself to today’s spotlight: an industry chat with authors Justina Ireland (Dread Nation) [Balzer + Bray/ Harper Collins, 2018], Brandy Colbert (Little & Lion) [Little, Brown, 2017] and Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles) [Freeform/Disney, 2018].”

Q & A with An Na by Lynda Brill Comerford from Publishers Weekly. Peek:

“The book started 10 years ago right after the birth of my daughter, when I learned my brother had committed suicide… I began reading my brother’s notebooks. It was clear through his writing that he was dealing with some pretty serious demons.”

How To Design an Inspiring School Visit Presentation by Bethany Hegedus from The Booking Biz. Peek:

“Your job as an author/presenter is to inspire your audience. It’s about them—not about you.”

Varian Johnson: The Facts Behind the Fiction by Stephanie Anderson from Shelf Awareness. Peek:

“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to include The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Dutton, 1978) in the story, because it served as the initial inspiration for the book (and, later, a plot point).” 

Leda Schubert and Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson by Tami Brown from The VFCA Launch Pad. Peek:

“I learned about Raven when Montpelier’s Green Mountain Film Festival screened ‘Ballets Russes’…So I wrote her a letter (actual snail mail, and she still doesn’t use a computer), she responded, and I left Vermont (the horror!) to meet her in New York.”

Sharon Darrow & World Within Words: Writing and the Writing Life from The Launch Pad. Peek:

“As I was coming to the end of my teaching career at VCFA, I felt the need to do a kind of review of where I had been, what I had been thinking about, and what I had discovered during those twenty years.”


March On!: 23 Titles To Celebrate Women’s History Month from School Library Journal. Peek:

“Here at SLJ, we’ll do our bit by highlighting our most recent reviews of women-focused titles throughout Women’s History Month. Here are our most recent informational picture book reviews.”

“A character in a picture book was four times more likely to be a dinosaur than an American Indian child.”

Graphic Novels Offer Windows, Mirrors on Mental Health by Brigid Alverson from School Library Journal. Peek:

“As a visual medium, the genre can convey the emotional perspective of mental illness and the distortions of reality that sometimes occur, more effectively than words alone. Also, there’s the intrinsic appeal of the format.”

Latinx Authors Discuss Successes, Continued Challenges by Mahnaz Dar from School Library Journal. Peek:

“’Every expectation of what it means to be a Latinx child needs to be removed,’ Otheguy said. ‘These children can’t be contained, stereotyped, or reduced to any one country of origin, one social class, one skin color. I believe it is books that will help them to find their path.’”

Healthy Masculinity: 14 Books About Gentle Boys by Aimee Miles from Book Riot. Peek: 

“We strive to create well-rounded girls and women in books. Why don’t we push for broad depictions of boys and men for our sons? Why are ‘boy books’ so focused on weapons and violence? Where are the gentle, nurturing boys of literature?”

Middle-grade Author Responds to Queer-Themed Book Controversy by David Canfield from Entertainment Weekly. Peek: 

“The book is P.S. I Miss You (Feiwel & Friends, 2018) by Jen Petro-Roy, a middle-grade novel which has drawn rave early reviews and tackles timely subjects…Children need to hear these messages. They need to know that they can find support somewhere, regardless of their sexual orientation or their religious beliefs.”

2018 Internship Grant Application from We Need Diverse Books. Peek: 

“The application window for the 2018 Internship Grant Program will open on March 1, 2018 and close on May 31, 2018.”

Women Children’s Book Illustrators by Joyce Wan from Pinterest. Peek:

“In celebration of Women’s History Month, this Pinterest board (which will continue to grow) was created in honor of women children’s book illustrators with published books. Please follow to be inspired and share.”

Writing Craft

The Wrong Question from Grace Lin. Peek: 

“I am constantly asked by white writers if they can write outside their race…When it comes to writing outside ones’ race the question has never been, ‘Can I write this?’ No, the real question is ‘Should I write this?’”

Short Training for Your Long Game: How Writing Short Stories Can Help You Hone Your Novel-Writing Skills by Julie Duffy from Writer’s Digest. Peek:

“Short fiction allows you to try new styles, genres, points of view and themes without investing swaths of time on any given one. Sometimes what you think you want to write turns out not to be what comes naturally.”

7 Reasons Writers of Serious Novels Should Use Humor in Their Fiction by Dean Gloster from Writer’s Digest. Peek:

“[Humor is] like a blank tile in the game of Scrabble—useful for whatever else the writer needs: Once you include the form of a joke, it’s seen as the narrator or character being funny, while the words carry out their other tasks surreptitiously.”

 The Art of the Author Interview by Greer Macallister from WriterUnboxed. Peek:

“So many readers turn to the internet as a way to connect with writers whose work they admire or enjoy…A review implies evaluation of the work, determining whether or not it’s worth someone’s time. Interviews provide a lot of information without judgment. That’s great for writers and readers alike.”

Writing Historical Fiction by Barbara Carney-Coston from The Mitten. Peek:
“Historical fiction needs to be based on accurate information. And publishers like bibliographies. Here are a few ways to get started on the big picture idea.”


Kid Lit Community Steps Up to Support Youth Movement by Kara Yorio from School Library Journal. Peek:

“The idea is that ‘authors, illustrators, publishers, librarians, booksellers, bloggers—anyone who considers themselves a part of this amazing community’ march together behind a #KidLitMarchesforKids banner to show their support for their readers and the rest of the country’s youth trying to lead the way to change.”

Check out the website, Letters to Parkland & Beyond. Peek:

“We are authors, teachers, librarians and allies in the kidlit community, and we stand with the students speaking out for gun law reform. These letters are for them.”

Phoebe Yeh: How I Got Into Publishing from CBC Diversity. Peek:

“Now, as I reflect back, I realize that all of my book-making and book editing has been informed by learning how to edit nonfiction picture books. And there is no way I could have edited Jeffrey Brown’s graphic novel Lucy & Andy Neanderthal (Crown Books, 2016) if it hadn’t been for working on The Magic School Bus (Scholastic, 1986).”

Image by Grace Lin.

#KidLitWomen: Money from Meg Medina. Peek:

“Whether you’re represented by someone or whether you’re fielding your own requests. Tape the script to your computer and to your forehead. ‘Thank you for the invitation. Is everyone on the panel being paid the same?’” 

See also Financial Fear – And Women Writers and Artists from Nancy Werlin. Note: Use the #Kidlitwomen hashtag on social media to find many more posts.

We Need Diverse Books Internship Grant Auction. Peek:

“Bid on a critique of your query letter, synopsis, and first 20 pages with a 20-minute follow-up call. 100% of the proceeds go to the We Need Diverse Books Internship grant program. Our eight literary agents give you eight chances to win! Ends March 31, 2018.”

Some Numbers About the Role of Women in SCBWI by Lin Oliver from SCBWI. Peek:

“We looked at how women participate in SCBWI across several dimensions: leadership, grants and awards, and conference faculty…I’m hoping that the facts presented here show an organization dedicated to gender parity and promoting the work of women. Although we are proud of our record, it is not perfect.”


Congratulations to all the 2017 Cybils Winners!

Check out this year’s Juvenile Edgar Nominees at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors.

The 2018 Robin Smith Picture Book Prize by Julie Danielson from The Horn Book. Peek:

“…we hereby launch an award in her memory here at Calling Caldecott: the Robin Smith Picture Book Prize. Every year, we will choose and recognize one picture book we think Robin would have loved. A book that exemplifies what she looked for in picture books, as a devotee, teacher, parent, reviewer.”

This Week at Cynsations

Cinda Williams Chima

More Personally – Robin

Cynthia is at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference in Tampa. She will be back next week to tell us all about it.

More Personally – Gayleen

On March 24, I’ll be leading a Mayor’s Book Club Youth Discussion on Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai (Paula Wiseman, January 2018). Peek: “Mayor’s Book Club is a citywide reading initiative that invites all of Austin to read selected books around an important theme. This year, that theme is Exit & Flight: Narratives of the Refugee Experience. While most of our selections are geared towards an adult audience, we want to also include young readers in this conversation…”

Personal Links – Gayleen