Cynsational News

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

Author/Illustrator Insights

Fire Starter Tehlor Kay Mejia Talks Tarot, Revolution and Transformation in Her Debut by Michelle Ruiz Keil and Tehlor Kay Mejia from Las Musas. Peek:

Michelle Ruiz Keil: “Externalizing that dichotomy into two wives who ultimately fall in love was a beautiful example of both how fractured we are by the patriarchy and how we can begin to move past it.”

The Art of Being Uncomfortable & Still Inspiring Hope in YA & Middle Grade Lit by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo from Nerdy Book Club. Peek:

“A few weeks ago, my novel Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution (Candlewick, 2019)released. A word that came up in an online review was ‘uncomfortable.’ There is a negative connotation often associated with the idea of being uncomfortable, but being uncomfortable is not necessarily a bad thing.”

It’s All In The Names by Lynda Mullaly Hunt from Nerdy Book Club. Peek:

“I knew he was me. At eleven and twelve and thirteen. Those were rough times.
So I initially named him Dylan because D-y-l-a-n are the same letters found in L-y-n-d-a. An acknowledgement to myself as to who he really was. I knew I needed to sit down with him. Really talk to him.”

Simply 7 Interview With Laura Purdie Salas & Giveaway! – “In The Middle of the Night” from Jena Benton. Peek:

“Since I was writing about everyday household objects, I couldn’t help imagining secret lives for every single thing at home! …every little household chore became more time-consuming because I was so distracted. Hey, what would the mop do at night? Do you think a paper plate could sled?”

A Studio Visit with Author-Illustrator Lulu Delacre, One Of The Most Prolific Latinx Artists Working Today by Cecilia Cackley from Latinxs In Kid Lit. Peek:

“…one of the reasons she [Justice Sonia Sotomayor] chose Delacre was because the justice wanted the illustrations to be lifelike. ‘I know that one thing that was very important to her was to portray her mamá and her abuelita as close as possible to reality.’”

Author Spotlight With Jerry Craft by Jerry Craft from CBC Diversity. Peek:

“There’s a fine line between using humor to make an issue seem less polarizing, as opposed to seeming like you’re ridiculing someone or something they may believe in. That is never my intent.”

Q&A with Lauren Abbey Greenberg by Deborah Kalb and Lauren Abbey Greenberg from Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb. Peek:

“I find I need to have a strong sense of place before I can begin to sketch out characters. In The Battle of Junk Mountain (Running Press, 2018), the beautiful coast of Maine was chosen as the backdrop because I’ve been vacationing there for over 20 years.”

Interview: Torrey Maldonado by Torrey Maldonado & Edith Campbell from Crazy Quilt Edi. Peek:

“I hoped to show the complexity of character of both boys. I wanted to detail the complexities of the village that raised me. As a lifelong fan of superheroes, I aimed to shine light on the complexity of superhero worship.”


Adult Trade Sales Down in January, Kids’ Up by Jim Millot from Publishers Weekly. Peek:

“In the children’s/young adult category, sales were up in all three print formats, led by board books, where revenue rose 19.9%.”

Manuscript Format Basics by Harold Underdown From The Purple Crayon. Peek:

“I get a lot of questions about how to format (and package) a manuscript. Here, I cover the basics, and answer the common questions: I will keep adding to this as more come in.”

Any Advice On How To Get An Agent? How Did You Get Your Agent? from Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Peek:

“… just because an agent is known to be popular/sought after does not mean they’re the right agent for you….They may have a lot of clients already, having less time for you…. You may be better off approaching a new agent who is actively seeking to build his/her client base…


Episode 73! I Is For Inclusion, Conversation with Padma Venkatramen by Grace Lin and Padma Venkatramen from Kidlit Women* Podcast. Peek:

Padma Venkatramen: “When We Need Diverse Books came out,…No, it wasn’t that we didn’t have diverse books before. We had diverse books. We had diverse books, a lot of them. It’s just nobody was reading them.”

Publishing Statistics on Children’s Books About People Of Color & First/Native Nations And By People Of Color & First/Native Nations Authors And Illustrators from Cooperative Children’s Book Center. Peek:

“Across the years, we’ve seen evidence of the importance of small, independently-owned publishers as contributors to a significant body of authentic multicultural literature for children in the United States and Canada. The commitment of individual editors at both large and small publishing houses also has made an impact.”

A First Look At CCBC Data For 2018: Books Published In The U.S. by Dr. Debbie Reese from American Indians in Children’s Literature. Peek:

“Said another way, the Big Five publishers published seven books with Native content. Two are by a Native writer; the other five are not. The reason this is important is that Big Five publishers have more money to promote a book.”

Black Kids on Book Covers: Middle Grade Edition by Etinosa Uwadiae from Book Riot. Peek:

“Covers tend to be more meaningful to marginalised folks when they can see themselves on them. To us it’s more than just a pretty cover—it’s representation. So with respect to that, here are some middle grade books with black kids on the covers.”


Schmoozing For Introverts: How To Network Like a Pro by Lisa Cooper Ellison from Jane Friedman. Peek:

“At conference-sponsored meals and meet and greets, give yourself a threefold mission: Meet other writers at your level, have authentic conversations with more experienced writers, and practice speaking with influencers without getting creepy or fangirling over them like I have.”

Writing Craft

Me & The Magic Of Three by Heather L. Montgomery from Celebrate Science. Peek:

“Fiction writers plan three acts; protagonists go up against three conflicts; essays include three supporting ideas. But in writing nonfiction that’s good enough for kids, I’ve found a different three…”

Layers of Antagonism, And Why You Should Embrace Them by Vaughn Roycroft from Writer Unboxed. Peek:

“Not to be antagonistic, but I’m guessing that many if not most of you have several layers of antagonism in your work, whether you’ve created them consciously or not.”

Another Word: Stories That Change The World by Cat Rambo from Clarkesworld. Peek:

“We need more hopepunk. We need stories that say there’s no special predestined Chosen One, but that anyone is capable of becoming a hero. We need stories of people working together rather than against each other.”

Science Fiction: A Natural Fit For The Middle-Grade Reader by Nicole Valentine and Diane Telgen from SteaMG: The Middle Grade Sci-Fi Authors Alliance. Peek:

“To anyone who thinks that science fiction isn’t appropriate for the middle-grade audience, or that you can’t write ‘real’ sci-fi for them, I counter: The genre has an inherent appeal for young readers.”

Tips for Complex Historical Research by Alma Katsu from Writer Unboxed. Peek:

“…the two main problem areas for most writers seem to be: (1) How do you know when to stop gathering information…and (2) How do you organize and manage your notes? I firmly believe you don’t have to read everything that was ever written on your subject before you can start writing.”

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally – Cynthia

It’s an honor to have contributed to Thanku: Poems of Gratitude, edited by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Marlena Myles (Millbrook, Sept. 3, 2019). Check out the book description and Miranda’s and Marlena’s thoughts on the cover and anthology from We Need Diverse Books.

This week I’m also celebrating the fourth hardcover edition of Hearts Unbroken (Candlewick, 2018) and the 11th paperback edition of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2009).

Thanks to all for your ongoing support and enthusiasm. Most appreciated!

More Personally – Stephani

This week my friend and I went to hear Lisa See talk about her new book The Island of Sea Women (Scribner, 2019), which takes place on the matrifocal Korean island of Jeju.

Lisa talked about her research and interviews with the women who are and were divers harvesting seafood for their livelihood.

The most fun of all was seeing my friend meet the author of her most favorite book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Random House, 2005).

Personal Links – Robin

Students Around The World Go On #YouthClimateStrike

Hopepunk, The Latest Storytelling Trend, Is All About Weaponized Optimism

Personal Links – Stephani

U.S. Mathematician Becomes First Woman to Win Abel Prize, ‘Math’s Nobel’

The Royal Mint is launching a Special Peter Rabbit 50p Coin