Cynsational News

By Cynthia Leitich SmithRobin Galbraith,
Gayleen Rabukukk & Kate Pentecost 

Author/Illustrator Insights

Interview with Nisha Sharma, Author of My So Called Bollywood Life by Priya Sridhar from Book Riot. Peek:

“I wrote My So-Called Bollywood Life (Crown, 2018) for my M.F.A. thesis, and at the time, I wanted to address a few misconceptions that I’d seen in books with South Asian representation. The first is that Indian parents don’t get along with their children.”

Countdown to Breakout: Working with Expert Readers from Kate Messner. Peek:

“I love my writer friends to pieces, but I’m also a big believer of having experts who don’t know you as readers because they don’t assume good intentions as friends might… But good intentions aren’t enough when it comes to writing books with characters from marginalized groups.”

Five Questions for Stephanie Parsley Ledyard and Jason Chin by Martha V. Parravano from The Horn Book. Peek:

“I didn’t consciously have a particular model in mind when I wrote the text. But I had been reading aloud many, many picture books to my younger daughter. I like to think that these voices, besides making my life and my children’s lives richer, have found their way into my writing.”

Publishers’ Preview: Diverse Voices: Five Questions for Justina Ireland from The Horn Book. Peek:

“Zombies are a writer’s best friend. They’re a moldable metaphor that can represent everything from our lack of human connections to the dangers of capitalism to science run amok. They’re a catalyst, a device that moves the plot forward, adds tension, provokes great action sequences, saturates the world with dread.”

We Need to Have All Kinds of Fat Representation by Kelly Devos from YA Interrobang. Peek:

“Fat people are not a monolith…The ‘right’ way to represent us is in a way that is free from stereotypes, bigotry and in a manner that is appropriately sensitive. But beyond that, in culture, I think we need to have all kinds of fat representation.”

Board Book Beginnings with Hilary Leung by Julie Danielson from Kirkus Reviews. Peek:

“‘My favorite part of the process,’ Leung tells me, ‘is actually audience-testing. It’s magical when you can surprise and delight kids. And it’s golden when you can engage them in a fun and meaningful way.’”


Japan Vacation- Part 1: Osaka from Sarah Momo Romero. Peek:

“…my husband and I spent an amazing two weeks in Japan… I’m spicing up my blog with a few videos of the cutest Japanese book shops where I found my picture book gems.”

Call for ICC18 Proposals. From Indigenous Comic Con. Peek:

“Submissions are now open for proposals for the Indigenous Comic Con 2018! …our theme is Unlocking the Indigenous Imagination.  Everyone is welcome to submit as we hope to have both non-Native and Native perspectives….” Deadline: 11:59 p.m. MST, June 15.”


Do You Read Reviews? by Clementine Beauvais from An Awfully Big Adventure. Peek:

“I stand on the other extreme of that spectrum. Not only do I not Google myself every morning, I never Google myself at all. I never read any review, unless my editors send them to me to read, or occasionally my parents…”

The Publishing Industry’s Digital Audiobook Revenue is Up 32.1% in Q1 2018 by Adam Rowe from Forbes. Peek:

“Audiobooks now earn publishers more than mass market paperbacks — even as ebook sales fell 3.2% in 2018’s first quarter. “

Page Street Publishing Call for YA Proposals from Marginalized Creators by Kathy Temean from Writing And Illustrating. Peek:

“Page Street Publishing’s young adult imprint is putting out a call for YA fiction proposals from authors whose voices have historically been underrepresented in publishing…an opportunity for unagented authors to submit proposals rather than full manuscripts.​ Proposals will be accepted from May 30, 2018, through August 1, 2018…”

Writing Craft

Teachers Write 2018! from Kate Messner. Peek:

“Teachers Write is a community of teachers, librarians, and authors who believe that people who teach writing are most effective when they are truly writers themselves….These days, more than 3000 enthusiastic teachers & librarians are part of the community. We hope you’ll join us this summer, too!”

The Efficient Writer: Using Timelines to Organize Story Details by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers. Peek:

“Most people think of timelines as a way to create a calendar of events that happen throughout a story… But timelines can also be used for so much more, like charting a character’s backstory wounds to better understand why they fear Abandonment…”

Hiding What the Main Character Knows from the Reader from September C. Fawkes. Peek:

“To pull this sort of thing off, you need to make sure that whatever the protagonist is hiding is not the main focus of the story—that it stays on the sidelines until the perfect moment. It doesn’t mean that the info isn’t pertinent to the main plot.”

Build Character Empathy in Your First Few Pages by Becca Puglisi from Writers Helping Writers. Peek:

“In today’s market, with its growing availability of affordable books, it’s imperative that we hook readers from the very start. To achieve this end, here are some elements that can help you create reader empathy early on.”

Purpose: The Missing Link Between Characters’ Motives, and Depth by Sharon Bially from Writer Unboxed. Peek:

 “The concept is simple yet profound: There is this thing called purpose. We all have it. But it’s not what you think…purpose is the unique gift we each bring to the world and always have.”


How to Make a Good Author Website from Nathan Bransford. Peek:

“It can literally just be one static page on the Internet. All you’re really doing is giving people a means of learning more about you and getting in touch with you if, say, someone comes across something you’ve written or just wants more background and they Google your name.”

2018 SCBWI Social Media Mentorship for Illustrators from SCBWI. Peek:

“…is given to two attendees at the Annual Summer Conference in Los Angeles… Open to all registered SCBWI Members attending the Annual Los Angeles Conference… Entrants must have at least one children’s book they are illustrating, or both illustrating and writing, contracted and scheduled to be published by a PAL Publisher.”


Presenting the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winners from The Horn Book. Note: shoutout to fellow Austin SCBWI member and fellow VCFA WCYA MFA faculty member (he’s also an alum of the program), Varian Johnson, honoree for The Parker Inheritance (Arthur A. Levine, 2018)!

Winners of the 11th Annual 2018 Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards Announced by Children’s Book Council from PR Newswire.

SCBWI Announces 2018 Crystal Kite Awards. Given to fifteen books that represent excellence in the field of children’s literature, the Crystal Kites Awards are peer-selected, voted on by SCBWI members from local regions. Note: shoutout to fellow Austin SCBWI member Cynthia Levinson, who won the Texas/Oklahoma division for The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Atheneum, 2017).

Pre-order When a Ghost Talks, Listen

Congratulations to Olivia Abtahi and Luisana Duarte ArmendárizLee & Low’s 2018 New Vision Award winners!

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally – Cynthia 

Hearts Unbroken galleys at Candlewick Booth (#2021)

BookExpo 2018 is currently ongoing in New York City. If you’re there, please look for my upcoming YA novel, Hearts Unbroken (Candlewick) and the other Galleys to Grab, according to Publishers Weekly.

A peek at the #supersecretproject in process. (That’s my Barb pen. #justiceforbarb)

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have noticed a few images and references hinting at a #supersecretproject. This past week has been all about that project, and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able tell you more in the not-too-distant future.

Link of the Week: VCFA Wild Things: MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Blog (new!).

More Personally – Gayleen

I’m thrilled and excited to be teaching creative writing camps with the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation‘s Badgerdog program.

My summer mornings will be spent with third and fourth graders, exploring the power of poetry and stories – excellent inspiration for working on my middle grade manuscript in the afternoon!

Registration is still open if you have a young writer (grades 3 to 12) looking for a summer camp.