Cynsational News

(Viking, 2019)

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

Author/Illustrator Insights

The Art of Breaking Things: Q & A With Laura Sibson from Elisa Zied. Peek:

[Libba Bray’s] “talk focused on writing as an extreme sport and at the end of the talk she invited the audience to join her in a year of writing dangerously… if I really let go and took risks, would I be able to achieve the depth of fiction that I hoped to achieve?”

BookKids: Q & A With Lindsay Leslie! from Book People. Peek:

“I’ve always been a writer and I’ve always had this wacky creative side to me, but I didn’t quite know where I fit career wise. It took having my own children and being reintroduced to picture books as an adult to connect the dots”

In ‘We Hunt The Flame’, Author Hafsah Faizal Dares Readers To Redefine Their Vision Of The Middle East by Suzanne Samin from Bustle. Peek:

“‘By making [Arawiya] feel [like home], it makes it accessible to a non-Arab reader,’ she says. ‘My goal was always to introduce people to a world that isn’t as distorted as they think. It’s just normal. It’s just home to all these people.'”

Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life by Laurie Wallmark by Bianca Schulze and Laurie Wallmark from The Children’s Book Review. Peek:

“I hope those who read Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life, both adults and children, will realize you don’t have to choose only one path in life. It’s okay to have multiple interests and careers like Hedy did by being an actress and an inventor.”

Lit in the Mitten: An Interview With Adam Gac  by Kristin Lenz and Adam Gac from The Mitten. Peek:

“Lit in the Mitten is my contribution to Q90.1’s selection of Michigan-focused art programs…Episodes are released bi-weekly on Mondays ..I hope to continue the program for the next few years. I’d love to offer Michigan authors the opportunity to talk craft and their latest projects until people get tired of me.”

Queering King Arthur: An Interview With Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy, Authors of Once & Future by Christina Orlando from Book Riot. Peek:

“The round table might be Western civilization’s first legend that enshrines equality (though very imperfectly)…The future we’re writing about has no heteronormative or cisnormative expectations. People are who they are. They love who they love.”

Elizabeth Acevedo’s Work Is A Welcome Rarity In Young-Adult Fiction by Hannah Giorgis from The Atlantic. Peek:

Acevedo’s work thrills partly because of the diligence and specificity with which she captures their responses to the ground shifting beneath them. Or, as she put it, “I am interested in a character that is not a caricature, that is tender and ferocious pretty much across the board…”


(Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018)

The 2019 South Asia Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature was awarded to:

The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, A Changing India, And A Hidden World Of Art by Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Claire A. Nivola (Candlewick Press, 2018) and to Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018).

Congratulations! The 2019 Honor Books and Highly Recommended Books are listed at the link, too.

SCBWI Enhances Golden Kite Awards With Cash Prizes from SCBWI. Peek:

“…for winning and honor books of its prestigious annual Golden Kite Awards and the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor. The recipient in each category will receive a cash prize of $2,500 and a supplemental award of $1,000 to be donated in their name to a nonprofit organization of their choice.”


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.”

Building Diverse Collections of LGBTQ-Inclusive Children’s Literature To Expand Windows And Mirrors For Youth from National Council of Teachers of English. Peek:

“Diverse depictions are important so that youth do not develop stereotypes that all LGBTQ people look the same, act the same, or experience the world in the same ways.”

#31Days IBPOC by Debbie Reese from Medium. Peek:

“Knowing who Indigenous people are starts with knowing that this land — currently known as the United States — was not an empty land. On it were millions of people from thousands of distinct nations that had interactions with each other.”

ADL Releases Report Of Anti-Semitic Incidents; Organizations Offer Curriculum To Help Combat Hate by Kara Yorio from School Library Journal. Peek:

“Recently, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, with the New York City Department of Education, developed a curriculum that ‘incorporates best classroom practices, emphasizing instructional outcomes and integrating primary sources for artifact-based learning from our Museum collection.’”


Books A Target Of New China Tariffs by Jim Milliot from Publishers Weekly. Peek:

“According to a notice issued earlier this week by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, books are among the $300 billion worth of Chinese imports that face a potential 25 percent tariff following the failure of the U.S. and China to reach a new trade agreement.”


6 Tips To Network Effectively When You’re An Introvert Who Hates It by Nina Jervis from Introvert, Dear. Peek:

“…I go to every networking event with the aim of having two interesting conversations, which is around my personal limit before I start to flag. Then I’ll politely leave.”

How To Plan A Book Reading That Delights Your Audience by James Navé and Allegra Huston from Jane Friedman. Peek:

“The strongest impact you can make when reading aloud is emotional, not intellectual. For that reason, you will do best if you choose content you have a strong emotional connection with: passages that make you laugh or cry—if you let yourself.”

Writing Craft

(Chronicle, 2019)

Announcing Teachers Write 2019! from Kate Messner. Peek:

“Teachers Write 2019 will run for three weeks, from July 8-26…Each week, we’ll focus on learning and practicing some element of writing craft by studying a mentor text or two.”

Are You Making Writing Harder Than It Needs To Be? by Barbara O’Neal from Writer Unboxed. Peek:

“What if instead of suffering, we counter with the idea that creativity is healthy and expressive, and if we practice giving it space and time, it will bring great joy and peace into our lives (and no doubt the world)?”

Pacing The Picture Book by Laurel Abell from VCFA Wild Things. Peek:

“One of the most important elements of writing a successful picture book is pacing, or “page turns.” When done well, page turns ratchet up the “tension” in a picture book the way an antagonist might in a novel.”

Writing Books: A Revision Resource Round-Up by Patricia Bailey at From The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors.

“I thought I’d keep this blog post simple and share some of the writing books I’ve found most helpful when tackling a revision.”

This Week at Cynsations

Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentorship Award 

Congratulations to all the finalists for the Austin SCBWI Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award!  Faculty members at the annual conference nominate their most outstanding critique submission, finalists work is then submitted to this year’s mentor, Varian Johnson, who will choose a mentee to work with during the upcoming year.

Austin SCBWI Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award Finalists

More Personally – Robin

Last weekend I attended The Gaithersburg Book Festival, getting books signed for my Halloween Book Project by Jonathan Roth and Susan Tan. I also attended a Tiny Love Story workshop taught by the dynamic Caroline Bock. Definitely a festival to put on your calendar if you are in the Washington, D.C. area.

More Personally – Gayleen

I had an incredible time at the Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference this past weekend! Though I’ve attended many conferences over the years, this was my first time being a key organizer as Assistant Regional Advisor. Despite my nervousness, things went smoothly and I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference.

Personal Links – Robin

Climate Anxiety Is Real, But There’s Something You Can Do About It

Judge Sentences Teen Vandals To Reading Books About Racism—And It Apparently Worked