Cynsational News

By Cynthia Leitich SmithRobin Galbraith,
Gayleen Rabukukk & Kate Pentecost 

Author/Illustrator Insights

South Asian Historical Fiction—Author Interview with Veera Hiranandani and Giveaway by Suma Subramaniam from From the Mixed-up Files of Middle-Grade Authors. Peek:

“I grew up hearing about partition [of India in 1947] from my father…I would hear parts of the story, but I knew they weren’t telling me everything. This ignited my curiosity and when I got older, I started asking more questions and researching on my own.”

April 2018 Horn Book Herald: Spring News: Five Questions for Margarita Engle by Elissa Gershowitz from The Horn Book. Peek:

“Daydreaming is the secret to feeling close to one’s subjects. My writing is personal because I read as many diaries, letters, journals, and other first-person narratives as I can find. Then I imagine being on the inside of the story instead of the outside.”

Q & A with Jewell Parker Rhodes by Claire Kirch from Publishers Weekly. Peek:

“…as a writer I believe words have the power to shape the world. I believe today’s youth are going to make the world better. These two beliefs inspire me to write about resilience and to mirror children’s unlimited capacity for compassion, empathy, and love.”

Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Jonathan Roth from KidLit 411. Peek:

“Always look to see what’s being done, but in the end only create what really moves you. Also join SCBWI to learn about the industry and meet like-minded people, and always be open to feedback and prepared for rejection, because it’s a tough, competitive business that requires relentless perseverance.”

Erin Entrada Kelly Talks Newbery Award and Filipino Storytelling Tradition by Kara Yorio from School Library Journal. Peek:

“To write about a deaf character, Kelly reached out to the American Society for Deaf Children and was introduced to Gina Oliva, a deaf woman and advocate who has written books about deaf children mainstreamed in schools.”


Q & A with Ebony Elizabeth Thomas: Why Children Need More Diverse Books from Penn GSE Newsroom. Peek:

“How you write that Other is going to depend on your perspective, and how you have experienced the others. We can’t escape race, but we can do better at representing each other humanely in our stories.”

Sensitivity Readers Spot Racism, Stereotypes Before Books Are Published from CBC Radio. Peek:

“‘I was investing a lot of time trying to help individual writers understand something that they just did not want to really work very hard on understanding in the first place,'” said [Debbie] Reese.”

Cultural Appropriation in Fiction: Here Are Some Tips to Consider When Your Writing Includes Different Cultures by Ixty Quintanilla from Everyday Feminism. Peek:

“I talked to two inclusive media experts, Bradford and Gussine Wilkins, to compile a checklist that you need to keep in mind to make sure you’re not culturally appropriating in your writing.”

Diverse Sci-Fi Fantasy Books to Read After A Wrinkle in Time by Thien-Kim Lam from I’m Not the Nanny. Peek:

“If your child loved A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1962), here are some diverse sci-fi fantasy to add to their bookshelves. I’ve included a mix of middle grade and YA books for your reader.”

Writing Craft

Mining Our Characters’ Wounds by Robin LaFevers from Writer Unboxed. Peek:

“Emotional neglect, a betrayal, a rejection, a lie, are all painful enough, but often become the lens through which we see ourselves. We accept that rejection. Believe that lie. Justify the betrayal due to something fundamentally flawed within us rather than the betrayer.”

7 Tips for Creating Believable Fantasy or Science Fiction Worlds by Janice Hardy from Fiction University. Peek:

“In our efforts to create the ‘perfect’ world for our stories, we sometimes force what we want into worlds that couldn’t possibly function. Make sure you’re not making these two common world building mistakes….”

Getting Feedback Can Hurt—Here’s How to Ask for It by L. Roger Owens from Brevity. Peek:

“I’ve discovered there is an art to asking for feedback, and if you learn it, you can get the kind of feedback you need, when you need it. Here’s what I’ve learned.”

Behind the Books: Nonfiction Writers Aren’t Robots by Laura Purdie Salas from Celebrate Science. Peek:

“…there’s a common, crushing misconception that fiction is creative writing drawn from the depths of a writer’s soul, while nonfiction is simply a recitation of facts that any basic robot could spit out.”


W.W. Norton Brings on Boughton to Launch Children’s Imprint by Emma Kantor from Publishers Weekly. Peek:

“Boughton speculated that the launch will likely take place toward the end of 2019. In terms of the breadth of the imprint, he said, ‘We’re cultivating a broad range of books, both in terms of age and category. Nonfiction is a particular strength for Norton and a particular interest of mine.’”

Preorder Campaigns by Rosalyn Eves from Thinking Through Our Fingers. Peek:

“…preorder campaigns can be a useful way to build buzz about your book before it comes out, particularly if readers share the campaign or their swag on their social media platforms.”

Why Our Youngest Generation Needs Your Compassion by Sara Stevenson from Austin American Statesman. Peek:

“Almost 30 percent of 12th graders reported that they did not read any books for pleasure in 2014. Kids are spending more and more of their leisure time on social media, gaming, and YouTube. Still, at least at the middle school level, we can reach them.”

Hard Time and Softback Books: Teaching Children’s Literature in Prison by Kerry Madden from Los Angeles Times. Peek:

“Paired up, the men read the other softback picture books. I gave out notebooks and pens and asked them to write their own stories about childhood, school and food. While they were scribbling away, one of the students said, ‘I can’t remember anyone ever reading a story out loud to me.'”

This Week at Cynsations

Brent Hartinger

More Personally – Cynthia

My post-oral-surgery diet.

After several days of reading for my MFA students and one of my Cynsations reporters, I had oral surgery. I’d been warned in advance to stock soft, cold foods for the recovery period. So, I researched to pinpoint the healthiest, best-tasting iced cream on the market, and Halo Top is apparently high rated across the board. My best use of the Internet in quite a while.

Link of the Week: Help Children’s-YA Author Kathleen Duey Remain at Home from GoFundMe. Peek:

“Kathleen would want her many fellow writers to know how difficult it has been to leave the warmth and support of the community of writers she has cultivated over the years.

“She would also want her many fans to know how much she appreciated their positive comments and encouragement.

“She didn’t stop writing because she wanted to, she simply was unable to continue.”

Kathleen is the author of more than 70 books for young readers. She’s had a successful literary career (but not an especially commercial one). See also a Cynsations Interview with Kathleen Duey, a 2007 National Book Award Finalist.

Please consider supporting Kathleen and/or signal boosting this fundraiser. Thank you.

Personal Links- Robin