Cynsational News

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


Reflections on This Place: 150 Years Retold by Helen Kubiw from CanLit For Little Canadians. Peek:

“This is the power of storytelling. It’s going deeper and truer than the history books and the newspaper accounts.”

Diversity In Publishing Summer Internship from Lee & Low Books. Peek:

“In response to the lack of diversity among publishing professionals, Lee & Low Books has established the Diversity in Publishing Internship for students from diverse backgrounds…Email a resume and cover letter by Friday, April 26, 2019…”

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. Some feature multidimensional universes populated by fantastical characters inspired by American and South Asian pop culture…”

6 of The Top 11 Most Challenged Books of 2018 On The ALA List Were Challenged Because They Included LGBTQ Characters & Themes from Lee Wind. Peek:

“Because every child needs to know that LGBTQ people are part of our world. And if we queer people aren’t in the books kids and teens can find in the library, that just makes them feel alone, unwanted, and ashamed of being their authentic selves. It makes them afraid.”

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas On Magic The Imagination Gap And “The Dark Fantastic” by Kara Yorio from School Library Journal. Peek:

“’If you think about the reading kids do over time by the time they are adults, they begin thinking about characters and narrative in ways that tend to be set,’ says Thomas.”

Diversity In Middle Grade Lit #8 Black Girls by Rosanne Parry at From The Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. Peek:

“For the month of April, I’m featuring books with amazing black girls.”

The YA Trans OwnVoices Masterlist from Ray Stoeve. Peek:

“This database contains young adult fiction titles with trans protagonists by trans authors, as well as young adult nonfiction about trans experiences and trans issues by trans authors.”

Writing Craft

Syntax in Poetry And Poetic Voice In Rhyming Picture Books by Mary Kole from Kid Lit. Peek:

“If you wouldn’t speak a certain way today, in your normal life, do not write that way when you try to write poetry. It really couldn’t be simpler. There is no difference between poetry syntax and normal syntax. “

What Is The Relationship Between Plot & Theme? by K.M. Weiland from Helping Writers Become Authors. Peek:

“But without plot, theme is nothing but an idea. It’s a theory to perhaps be discussed over coffee with friends or colleagues. But it’s a not a story.”

Goals-Motivations-Conflicts: The Engine That Keeps A Story Running by Janice Hardy from Fiction University. Peek:

“…every scene is driven by the GMC—goal-motivation-conflict. What does the protagonist want? Why do they want it? What’s preventing them from getting it? Answer all three of those questions, and you can write the scene. The stronger the answers, the better the scene.”

Emotional Danger For Page-Turning Tension by Amy Jones from Writer’s Digest. Peek: …”’emotional danger.’ This is when a character stands to gain or lose a person’s trust, respect, love, affection, etc. When another character has the power to affect your protagonist’s marriage, livelihood, or standing in the community, you’ve entered the territory of psychological danger.”

Author/Illustrator Insights

Author Interview: Natasha Deen by Crystal Brunelle from Rich in Color. Peek:

“Writing is difficult for me, but the chance to connect with someone via story, keeps me in the chair, no matter how difficult the writing may be.”

We Are The Experts from Katia Raina. Peek:

“Writing in Russian as a kid, then writing in English as an adult felt the same in many ways, first, because, to me, any fiction writing is really more about the story than anything. It’s all about chasing those characters around the next bend of the plot.”

Q&A with Hafsah Faizal by Claire Kirch from Publishers Weekly. Peek:

“it was…sparked by the question, ‘What if The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008) was set in a fantasy world?’—but in the uncanny way that the subconscious works, the real world did find its way into the narrative, from the current misconceptions surrounding women to the horrific gassing of innocent civilians in Syria.”

The Creation of Nancy Drew by Jennifer Fisher from Saturday Evening Post. Peek:

“But the very first books in the series, the ones that established her particular steely bravery, were written by [Mildred Augustine Wirt] Benson, who was just as tenacious and bold and independent as her heroine. Benson sought adventure and bucked conventions throughout her life.”

Interview with Beginning Chapter Winners Debbi Michiko Florence & Elizabet Vukovic from The Cybils. Peek:

Debbi Michiko Florence: “I was grateful to be able to see the initial sketches. The first time I saw Elizabet’s drawing of Jasmine, I cried tears of joy. It was like seeing your baby for the first time! Elizabet had captured Jasmine and her personality perfectly!”

New Release: The Last Voyage Of Poe Blythe — Ally Condie ’17 by Amanda West Lewis from VCFA Wild Things. Peek:

“I write listening to, and I have for years. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in the desert and rain was always such an exciting event, or if I just find the sound refreshing, but rainfall=writing to me.”


How I Got Into Publishing by Erin Siu from CBC Diversity. Peek:

“I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to intern at multiple houses in college. The reality is that publishing is tough and competitive. Nobody works in this industry for the pay and it’s incredibly difficult to break into.”

Agent Monday: Senior Agent Stephen Fraser from Marie Lamba. Peek:

“If someone begins, ‘Dear Agent’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern” I immediately delete it. A writer needs to be doing their research and to have the courtesy to address an individual agent.”


Saying No To Twitter: What Authors Need To Know by Daniel Berkowitz from Jane Friedman. Peek:

“No matter what your publisher, your friend or any author says, if you don’t want to be on Twitter, then you don’t have to be on Twitter. It’s a platform that can be used successfully, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you.”

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally – Cynthia

2019 Candlewick Press booth at Texas Library Association Conference

Thank you, Texas librarians and Candlewick Press for featuring me at the Texas Library Association conference in Austin this week! It was a delight to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Thanks for all that all y’all do for young readers. (How’s that for a Texas-y sentence?)

Thanks also to moderator Viki Ash of San Antonio Public Library as well as co-panelists author Chris Barton and Milen Yassi of Plano Public Library. It was an honor to speak alongside you on the program “How to Make a Diverse Kid Lit List.”

Debbie Reese delivers the 2019 Arbuthnot Lecture, via livestreaming on Cyn’s TV.

Congratulations to Debbie Reese on rocking the 2019 Arbuthnot Honor Lecture, “An Indigenous Critique of Whiteness in Children’s Literature,” sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children, April 13 in Madison. If you missed it, check out this audio-video recording.

Debbie is well known to Cynsations readers from her work at American Indians In Children’s Literature (and beyond). Along with Jean Mendoza, she also has adapted Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People (Beacon Press, July 2019).

More Personally – Gayleen

I had an amazing time this week celebrating writer friends at the Texas Library Association conference in Austin. Though we’ve worked together on Cynsations for two years, I met author Traci Sorell in person for the first time.

I also spent time in the Texas SCBWI booth with children’s authors Cate Berry, Donna Janell Bowman, Lindsay Leslie and Cynthia Levinson. Authors and illustrators from all five Texas chapters signed and sold books in the booth while volunteers answered questions about the organization.

Personal Links – Robin

17 Writers On The Role Of Fiction In Addressing Climate Change

5 YA Poetry Audiobooks Read By The Author

Spokane Eliminates School Librarians, Continuing Trend of Disappearing School Libraries

Personal Links – Stephani

The New York Times 10th Annual Spring Poetry Contest for Teenagers