Cynsational News

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

Author/Illustrator Insights

Dig by A.S. King by Aidan Sammis and A.S.King from Wild Things. Peek:

“I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and know plenty about extremist racist groups, but I wanted to dig deeper, more off-limits soil. I wanted to find out what made American white people so tragically unwilling to change their perspective about polite, middle-class, everyday racism.”

In The Middle Of The Night: An Interview With Laura Purdie Salas About Her Writing Process by Mary Ann Scheuer and Laura Purdie Salas from Great Kid Books. Peek:

Laura Purdie Salas: “I might write individual poems on napkins or my phone, but with a big project like a poetry collection, I do less of that. I write most freely when my fingers can move fast, and I can type much faster than I can write longhand.”

Interview: Karen Leggett Abouraya and Susan L. Roth on Malala Yousafzai And Other Women Who Inspire Them by Karen Leggett Abouraya and Susan L. Roth from The Open Book Blog. Peek:

“Words are power, as Malala says repeatedly, no matter how we communicate. Whether you are motivating people on social media, making posters to put up in schools and coffee shops or discovering a book about people of a different culture–words are the tool and words give you power.”

The Writing Life: Kate Angelella ’17 Talks Shop by Leah Jones and Kate Angelella from Wild Things. Peek:

“As writers, it’s imperative to know what feedback to take into our hearts and what feedback to let roll off our backs, and making that distinction isn’t always easy (in part because ego is involved, which can make the process more emotional than we sometimes want it to be).”

Ally Condie On Her Upcoming Revenge Novel & Why Now Was The Time To Return to YA by David Canfield from Entertainment Weekly. Peek:

“That comes together any time we’re talking about politics and stuff: We feel anger, and then there’s that strange side of the coin where you realize, ‘Oh, but the only way to fix this is to love people.’”

Den of Geek Book Club Podcast #7: Cori McCarthy & Amy Rose Capetta On Once & Future by Kayti Burt from Den of Geek Book Club. Peek:

“‘…sometimes, there’s an expectation that you have to stretch to create these [kinds of diverse] characters,’ said Capetta during a Den of Geek interview with the authors. ‘And I think, to us, it would have been a stretch to not have a ‘panoply of queerness’ and a varied group of friends.'”

Interview With Cindy Pon — Ruse by Audrey M. Gonzalez and Cindy Pon from Rich in Color. Peek:

“I want the take away for the reader to be that we can fight in our very individual ways, maybe not as big as these characters, but every act of resistance counts. My way of resisting is through my storytelling.”

The Strange, Wonderful Experience Of Being Seen by Elana K. Arnold from Nerdy Book Club. Peek:

“Rather than focusing on trying to make everyone happy, I began asking myself, ‘What does Bat need from this book?’ and, ‘What do I need from this book?'”

Diversity & Inclusion

CCBC Releases New Diversity Data by Edith Campbell from CrazyQuiltEdi. Peek:

“There can be, there are, more books being printed but lining a shelf with ‘diverse’ books doesn’t necessarily reduce the Whiteness on that shelf, doesn’t automatically mean there is any less racism or that we have overcome. It’s not just about the books; it never was.”

2019 We Are Kid Lit Summer Reading List. Peek:

“Are you looking for a curated summer reading list that celebrates diversity, inclusivity and intersecting identities? The We Are Kid Lit Collective selects books by and about IPOC (Indigenous and People of Color), people with disabilities, and people from the LGBTQIA+ communities. “

WNDB Internship Grants from We Need Diverse Books. Peek:

“2019 will mark the Internship Grant Program’s fifth successful year, and the committee has plans to award five new grants to diverse publishing and agency interns. In the past four years, the program has awarded 33 grants, with twenty-two eligible interns having gone on to full-time work in the publishing industry.”

Why We Created a Gender-Inclusive Stock Photo Library by Lindsay Schrupp from Broadly. Peek:

“Today, we’re launching The Gender Spectrum Collection, a stock photo library of over 180 images of 15 trans and non-binary models, shot by artist and photographer Zackary Drucker, and made available to the public for free.”

A Texas Publisher Is Honored For Putting Great Latino Literature Between Hard Covers And On Shelves by Elaine Ayala from San Antonio Express-News. Peek:

“In receiving the Book Critics’ Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, Arte Público became only the fourth institution to be so honored in 37 years. The Houston-based publishing house’s mission for four decades has been to make U.S. Latinos more visible, to teach that ‘we have always been here…’”

21 Books You Should Add To Your Library That Share Muslim Voices from Mrs. Mainero. Peek:

“By reading and then sharing diverse stories we can begin to break down assumptions, consider different viewpoints, and discover the cultural beauty of our world.”

Diversity and Tropes: Making YA A More Inclusive Space by Vicky Chen from Shelf Awareness. Peek:

“Diverse books that feature tropes show that diversity isn’t ‘just a trend’ because they’re not segregated to a ‘diverse book’ category–they’re integrated by subject and content.”

Writing Craft

Beta Readers: Who, When, Why, and So What? by Barbara Linn Probst from Jane Friedman. Peek:

“Rather than thinking of beta readers as a single group, or of beta reading as a single event, many people use different groups of readers at different points in their writing, and for different reasons.”

How To Get An Extra Novel Written In A Year by Janice Hardy from Fiction University. Peek:

“4,100 words a month hits 50,000 words in twelve months, which is a middle grade-sized novel. Hitting 4,000 words a month is only 133 words a day. That’s not a lot of words.”

Biting the Bullet— Tracking My Writing Habit by Liz Michalski from Writer Unboxed. Peek:

“Sure, I was talking about writing. I was reading about the craft of writing. I was thinking about writing all the time. But the words were not making it to the paper.”

Guest Post: “How To Quickly Write The Fantasy Fiction Novel Of Your Dreams: A Guide by Angelina Allsop from Middle Grade Ninja. Peek:

“If you want to write a novel quickly, with minimal hick-ups (i.e. major story structure problems and redos), take the time to really develop your outline and do the prep work… I consistently had major story structure issues before I changed the way that I did my prep work.”


Krishan Trotman, Newly Named Executive Editor Of Hachette Book Group, Speaks On Navigating The Publishing Industry by Shanita Hubbard from Essence. Peek:

“This is part of the reason it’s important to have a Black woman in an executive role at a major publishing company. I fundamentally understand how critical inclusion is. I also understand that inclusion encompasses more than just race.”

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally – Cynthia

Kathi Appelt with Angel Thieves at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston.

Happy spring, Cynsational readers! This past week was spent wearing both my MFA teacher and middle grade anthologist hats. Lots of reading and reflecting on lots of stories. Lucky me!

Beyond that, I was honored to spot Hearts Unbroken (Candlewick, 2018) on the 2019 We Are Kid Lit Summer Reading List. Be sure to print and promote it widely.

I’m also excited about my short story, “Girl’s Best Friend,” featured in the upcoming release of The Hero Next Door, edited by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (Random House, July 30, 2019). In a starred review of the anthology, Kirkus Reviews says:

“…the collection offers a vivid and vibrant assemblage of authors, experiences, and constructions of heroism.”

More Personally – Robin

Last weekend I went to to the 2019 MD/DE/WV Regional SCBWI Conference: Steering the Craft. Co-Regional Advisors Kathy MacMillan and Rebecca Evans and the rest of their planning committee put together a fantastic conference! It was wonderful to see friends like Katia Raina and Mary Quattlebaum. I drove away inspired to try the new techniques I learned in my writing, too.

Katia Raina, Mary Quattlebaum and Robin Galbraith at the MD/DE/WV SCBWI Conference

More Personally – Gayleen

Each week I’m honored to teach a writing workshop for residents of an Austin retirement community. This week was extra special because we had a guest speaker:  Meredith Davis gave her very first author talk for her debut book, Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl’s Brave Fight to Walk (Scholastic, Oct. 1, 2019)!

Personal Links – Robin

Episode 71! Mothers And Fathers: How Parents Are Represented In Picture Books, Conversation with Jennifer Mann

Where Kids Fought Plastic Pollution—And Won

Personal Links – Gayleen

How to Find Comparable Titles

Flagstaff Council Passes Resolution Supporting Grand Canyon Uranium Ban

Personal Links – Stephani

How The Very Hungry Caterpillar Became a Classic

The Essential Work of English Language Arts–and ELA Teachers–in Our Democracy