Cynsational News

By Cynthia Leitich Smith, Robin Galbraith, Gayleen Rabukukk, and Stephani Eaton for Cynsations


31 YA Books By Black Authors That You Can’t Miss This Year by Ehis Osifo and Farrah Penn from BuzzFeed. Peek:

“Black authors + YA novels = two of our favorite things!”

Sisters Launch Library Collection To Empower Muslim Girls Through Books from Girl Talk HQ. Peek:

“…sisters Mena and Zena Nasiri, from Rochester, Michigan…creators of a nonprofit organization called Girls Of The Crescent…were concerned that as young Muslim women, they were not seeing enough nuanced and varied narratives in books and media that featured positive representations of Muslim women and girls.”

Five Books About Falling in Love from Rich in Color. Peek:

“…we here at Rich in Color have put together a short list of YA books with a Black protagonist who falls in love.”

Tackling Islamophobia With Children’s Literature by Gauri Manglik and Sadaf Siddique from The Open Book Bag. Peek:

“Our ‘Counter Islamophobia Through Stories’ campaign provides curated booklists around four different themes: Muslim kids as heroes, Inspiring Muslim leaders and thinkers, Celebrating Islam and Folktales from Islamic traditions. With the misinformation and misconceptions that exist around Islam and Muslims, having own voices authors is critical to telling authentic and culturally rooted stories.”

Books For Black Future Month from The Horn Book. Peek:

“…we’d also like to call your attention to works of speculative fiction for children and teens by Black creators with Black protagonists, as well as some critical thought on race in these genres.”

The Schools That Tried —But Failed—To Make Native Americans Obsolete by Alia Wong from The Atlantic. Peek:

David Treuer– “Now I look at today’s kids…. They’re happily modern and Native at the same time; they happily switch between things like Fortnite and [tribal] ceremony and don’t see any contradiction between the two. Native kids today are way smarter and better off than I was.”

15 Books for Children & Teens That Center Black Characters & The Black Experience by Kristin Wald from Baristanet. Peek:

“…what is also important is that children of color see themselves and their lives reflected in the culture around them… The list below highlights just a few ideas for stories and novels that center Black characters and the Black experience.”

11 Books With South Asian Characters You Should Read in 2019 by Pooja Makhijani from Teen Vogue. Peek:

This roundup includes everything from timely novels about dystopian futures to historical-fiction novels about periods of South Asian history rarely covered in U.S. classrooms.”

We Need Diverse Books Announces the Opening of Applications for the 2019 WNDB Internship Grants from WNDB. Peek:

“…the application process is now open for the 2019 WNDB Internship Grants. In the program’s successful first four years, grants of $2500 each were awarded to 33 diverse publishing interns. Of those who received grants, 22 (67%) are now employed in the publishing industry.”


‘Martin Rising’ Named 2019 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Winner from Penn State News. Peek:

“The Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book have announced the 2019 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award… This year’s winner is Martin Rising: Requiem for a King, (Scholastic, 2018) written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney…”

Publishing & Marketing

Denene Millner Brings Imprint to Simon & Schuster by Emma Kantor from Publishers Weekly. Peek:

“A large part of Millner’s mission, she said, is ‘giving more people bigger opportunities…African-American storytellers, be they writers or illustrators, are not given the opportunities in any grand way to practice their art, to tell their stories, and to shine a light on the everyday lives of black children and families.’”

Agent Spotlight: Stacey Kendall Glick at From The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors. Peek:

“I really appreciate authors who go through multiple drafts and get feedback from writers’ groups and beta readers before they send it out to agents. It makes our job easier to be able to think about sales strategy and business decisions without having to focus too much on editorial concerns…”

How to Write For a Blog: 10 Tips For Writing Strong Web Content from Anne R. Allen. Peek:

” ..the paragraph has gone through radical changes in the 21st century…Now your average paragraph should be between two and four lines. You can go over and under — some paragraphs can be just one word long — but stay close to that average and you should be fine.”

When Your Query Reveals A Story-Level Problem by Susan DeFreitas from Jane Friedman. Peek:

“Yes, boiling down an 80,000-word novel to just a couple paragraphs is a brutal business, but it also tends to reveal the overall shape of a novel..”

Author/Illustrator Insights

Hedy Lamar’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Melissa Stewart and Laurie Wallmark from Celebrate Science. Peek:

“You don’t always have to use the technical term when you’re describing something. For example, I wrote, ‘Hedy made a flavor-cube that changed plain water into soda.’ I didn’t write, ‘Hedy found a way to carbonate water.’”

Author/Illustrator Spotlight: Vanessa Brantley-Newton from CBC Diversity. Peek:

“I really had fun creating the images for this book! The illustrations came before the words. Sometimes it happens this way when I write. I had so many images in my head of me with her when I was a child and I wanted to share that with the readers.”

Day 23 – Claire Kann by Paula Chase Hyman from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek:

I left ambiguity behind, started writing what I knew about–being Black, fat, queer, and trying to just live in a world that maybe didn’t really want me in it–and gave everything to my characters so they could experience it too and still get the happily ever after they deserved.”

She Spent 20 Years Teaching Teens About Sexual Assault. Now She’s Sharing Her Own Story by Lucy Feldman from Time. Peek:

“In Shout (Viking, 2019), [Laurie Halse Anderson] writes about the moment when, on the Speak (FSG, 1999) movie set, a stocky male electrician walked up to her and said, ‘I am Melinda.’ Since then, she has worked to understand how sexual violence impacts people of different backgrounds.”

Day 27: Oge Mora by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek:

“I start free writing on a legal pad and then type things from there. After a bit, I take what I like and paste it into a new document. I essentially do this till I clutter my laptop with tabs! Eventually I come around to a draft I like.”

Interview: Evan Turk On Pajamas, National Parks, and Teleportation from The Booking Biz. Peek:

“For my newest book, You Are Home: An Ode To The National  Parks (Atheneum, 2019), I was inspired by childhood trips in the west, spent traveling to all the incredible National Parks. My dad has worked for the National Park Service for forty years, so they were a big part of my childhood.”

Get To Know…Andrea Wang from Jarrett Lerner. Peek: “In my new book, Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando (Little Bee, 2019), you’ll find out what inspired Ando to create instant ramen, and see how thinking like a scientist helped him succeed.”

On Understanding from Marion Dane Bauer. Peek:

“When I wrote The Stuff of Stars (Candlewick, 2018), I didn’t ask myself whether young children would understand the origins of our universe, the birth of our planet, or even their own births. I asked myself only whether this was an appropriate subject for reverence, for awe, for delight.”

Writing Craft

What Keeps Your Characters Up At Night? by Jeanne Kisacky from Writer Unboxed. Peek:

“What if my characters had insomnia? What current moment would be the one that woke them up and occupied their thoughts? What kind of regrets and frustrations would tinge that current moment?”

Poetry Friday Roundups from Kidlitosphere Center. Peek:

“Each week, a blogger is tasked with rounding up the Poetry Friday posts around the blogosphere… The features can be for children or adults, can be original poems, reviews of poetry books, reviews of poetic picture books, links to poems at copyright protected sites, thoughts about poetry, and more…”

Send Up The (Red) Flag: Telling Words That Spell Trouble In Our Writing by Janice Hardy from Fiction University. Peek:

“After a lot of study and analyzing, I found a series of ‘red flag words’ often found in told prose. Not every word found meant the prose that contained it was told, but when I received feedback that a section sounded told, one of these red flag words almost always appeared.”

What Is Your Character Hiding? By Becca Puglisi from Writers Helping Writers. Peek:

“Everyone hides. We hide the goals we know are wrong for us, opinions that may turn others against us, or feelings and desires that make us feel vulnerable—basically anything with the potential for rejection or shame.”

Adventures in Time and Space and Writing by Bobbi Miller from Teaching Authors. Peek:

“… I have often used ‘Doctor Who’ as a means to explore literary devices. Consider the character of Doctor Who. Human beings are complex beings, and emotions are dynamic. If we remember that fiction is primarily an emotional exchange, then plot can be understood as a sequence of emotional milestones.”

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally – Gayleen

I loved hearing Charlotte Sullivan Wild share insights on her writing process at the Austin launch of her debut picture book, The Amazing Idea of You, illustrated by Mary Lundquist (Bloomsbury,  2019).

On May 4, Charlotte will be the featured speaker at the Austin SCBWI monthly meeting at BookPeople, exploring the role of play in creativity.

More Personally – Stephani

This week the kids and I went to our local bookstore, Bookmarks, to hear Brendan Reichs and Scott Reintgen talk about the writing process and to celebrate the launch of Reichs’s Chrysalis, the third and final in his Project Nemesis series.

It was good for my kids to hear (other from me) how long drafting and revision takes, the perseverance it takes to see a book through to completion, and how to collect ideas.

Personal Links – Robin

psa: #climatestrike #fridaysforfuture by Heidi Mordhorst from My Juicy Little Universe. Peek:

“On March 15, young teens–especially girls–will be leading the fight to make sure adults in powerful places see the threat of global climate change for what it is: urgent and deathly.”

How Do Indie Bookstores Compete with Amazon? Personality — and a Sense of Community

Personal Links – Stephani

Reading Rockets:10 Picture Books Celebrating the Achievements of Amazing Women