Cynsational News

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


How Young Adult Anthologies Are Making Space for All Kinds of Diverse Love Stories by Alaina Leary from Bustle. Peek:

“Anthologies also allow room for stories about relationships in all their forms—romantic relationships, platonic relationships, deep friendships, family bonds, chosen family, unrequited love, breakups, grief, and loss.”

WNDB in the Classroom Giveaway with Little Feminist from We Need More Diverse Books. Peek:

“WNDB warmly thanks Little Feminist for donating the titles for this giveaway. Each winner will receive a box that includes one copy of each title (four books total), along with educational kits…To apply, please fill out an application by April 22, 2019.”

The Newest DC Comics Superhero Is a Girl of Color from Oregon by Fiona McCann from PDX Monthly. Peek:

“I’ve hit a point in my life where, not just as a creator but as a fan, I find the old-school heroes have become a little boring to me. I don’t need to see another white guy saving the day, or another man saving the day.”

Why The Publishing Industry Needs To Be More Inclusive Of Autistic And Disabled People by Alaina Leary from Bustle. Peek:

“‘Only by publishing autistic authors and allowing us the freedom to explore our truths can publishers begin to repair decades’ worth of stereotypes and marginalization,’ says Lyn Miller-Lachmann, an autistic middle grade and YA author.”

Standing on Shoulders from Linda Sue Park. Peek: “…humble suggestion:

“When you say, ‘I never saw myself in a book,’ perhaps you might add a line or two acknowledging the shoulders we all stand on. How about something like, ‘My education did not include being introduced to the wonderful books by authors like Eloise Greenfield or Donald Crews.’”


Rejection. What Gives? As if Writing a Book Wasn’t Hard Enough, Right? by Andrew Wood from Fiction University. Peek:

“I try to wear my rejections proudly, not because they define me or my writing, but because they are opportunities I’ve given myself and that I do my best to take advantage of. One day, I’ll look back and see that they were all important cobblestones that paved my road to success.”

Kwame Alexander’s Versify Imprint Launches in April by Rachel Rosenberg from Book Riot. Peek:

“Curated by author Kwame Alexander… Versify ‘reflects Alexander’s vision that accessible and powerful prose and poetry—in picture books, novels, and nonfiction—can celebrate the lives and reflect the possibilities of all children.’ Plus, Versify is seeking new authors and artists while publishing established writers and illustrators.”

When You’re Just Not Ready for Rejection by Shana Scott from Jane Friedman. Peek:

“The biggest hurdle was realizing I had a choice: Either I commit to submitting, or I accept that my writing is just for me to read. While it was going to be painful and it was going to be messy…”

Bologna 2019: New Ventures, Milestones, and Trends by Emma Kantor with reporting by Ed Nawotka and Diane Roback from Publishers Weekly. Peek:

“‘Publishers are actively looking for feminist themes and characters, and that has manifested in fantasy and sci-fi as well’…”

“U.S. publishers aren’t alone in championing the We Need Diverse Books movement and its mission of promoting more inclusive stories for young readers.”

Author/Illustrator Insights

Four Women in Graphic Novels, and How They Made the Leap from Fan to Creator by Brigid Alverson from School Library Journal. Peek:

Christina “Steenz” Stewart: “…I’ve always been interested in drawing, but didn’t get really into drawing comics until I started working at my local comic shop. That’s when I started seeing people that looked like me on the shelves. Namely, Brittany Williams…And that’s when I was like ‘oh, wait… I can do this, too!’”

Echo Park in Birmingham: An Interview with Kerry Madden-Lunsford by Tim Cummings from L.A. Review of Books. Peek:

“I hope I encourage my [MFA] students to trust themselves—to know that they do have a story to tell. I use play in the classroom (storyboarding and making book dummies) and I get them to take risks or chances with writing sparks, exploring narratives.”

Success Story with Erin Golden by Erin Golden from The Writing Barn. Peek:

“I feared that because I had stopped writing while being home with my two young children, I’d never write again or had lost the knack of it. I also feared that my lifelong dream of having an agent and being a published author wasn’t going to come true…”

Interview: Carmen Oliver on Emails, Bears & Simpler Life from The Booking Biz. Peek:

“There are likely less than 400 spirit bears in the province of British Columbia and probably closer to only 60 white bears…I discovered D. Simon Jackson’s story, and I began to work on the book A Voice For The Spirit Bears: How One Boy Inspired Millions To Save A Rare Animal (Kids Can, 2019).”

Member Interview: Lindsay Leslie  by Lindsay Leslie from SCBWI Austin. Peek:

“I actually created two picture book manuscripts during January and February of 2019 when my book launched. Reflecting on why I was drawn to write, I figured out I needed to create to feel better, to feel grounded.”

What Good Does It Do To Break A Child’s Heart? by Jo Knowles from The Nerdy Book Club. Peek:

“Keeping sad books from children can’t keep sadness from their lives. What books can do is help give kids the knowledge they need to better understand and cope with life’s challenges.”

Writing Craft

Character Agency by Katia Raina from Writing and Illustrating. Peek:

“All action stems from character, and yet character is but an empty shell, without action. So ideally, the two inform each other, feed each other and build on each other, adding up to strong agency, and creating an impact.”

Five Ways to Use Theme to Create Character Arc (and Vice Versa) by K.M. Weiland from Helping Writers Become Authors. Peek:

“If you have a notion about what you want your theme to be, you might start by investigating how that could play out in the plot, which might prompt you to start developing suitable characters, which might bring you back to questions of plot—and on and on…”

Five Ways to Create a Memorable (Distinguishable) Cast of Characters by Sarah McGuire from Fiction University. Peek:

“I worried that the brothers would blend together. So I began with a caricature for each brother and referenced it every time that brother spoke or acted, especially in the first part of the book.”

Seven Things I’ve Learned So Far by Debbie Fuhry from Guide To Literary Agents. Peek:

“Attend a conference with the primary goal of listening and learning. Many writers attend their first conference with purposes of pitching their novel and making contacts. You will miss some of the best opportunities a conference affords that way.”

Spring Planting for Writers by Barbara O’Neal from Writer Unboxed. Peek:

“What would you like to grow in your writing and/or career? This doesn’t have to all be about page production or marketing goals, though certainly those are probably on nearly all writers’ lists. Some other ideas might be…”

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally – Cynthia

Bluebonnets in bloom at Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area near Austin.

Terrific news, readers! First drafts of the short stories and poems for the Native middle-grade powwow anthology have been turned in and notes sent back to the various writers in reply.

We’re still early in the process, but I’m delighted by the potential—the humor, joy, heartache, love, mystery, kick-booty attitude, and, yes, diversity reflected in this upcoming collection. Indian Country is not a monolith. And that’s all I’m going to say about it for now.

Links of the Week: The Diversity Jedi by Vicky Smith from Kirkus Reviews; Reclaiming Native Truth: A Project to Dispel America’s Myths and Misconceptions

More Personally – Gayleen

Last Saturday I engaged in a few hours of play with some of the Austin SCBWI illustrators.

We met at the Dougherty Arts Center to paint kokeshi dolls for our upcoming silent auction held at the 2019 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference.

This annual Craft Day has become a tradition leading up to the conference.

While I don’t see myself becoming an illustrator, it was truly delightful to engage a different part of my creative brain and to hear talk centered around brush sizes or color saturation instead of dialog tags or story beats. It was a valuable break from focusing on my current manuscript.

Huge thanks to Illustrator Coordinator C.S. Jennings for organizing the event! (Head over to his Instagram for closeups of his Seuss with Fishbowl kokeshi.)

Personal Links – Robin

Teen Boys Rated Their Female Classmates Based On Looks. The Girls Fought Back.

Links And Resources For Fantasy And Science Fiction Writers

Do Teens Get Pushed Out Of YA Books When It’s Called A Genre?