Cynsational News

By Cynthia Leitich Smith, Gayleen Rabakukk, Suma Subramaniam, A.J. Eversole and Gail Vannelli for Cynsations

Spotlight Image: Be a Good Ancestor by Leona Prince and Gabrielle Prince, illustrated by Carla Joseph (Orca Book Publishers, 2022).

Author/Illustrator Insights

Q&A With Varsha Bajaj, Thirst by Danielle Wilkinson from We Need Diverse Books. Peek: “I think middle schoolers are watching and learning whether we educate them or not. They have access to information that we didn’t when we were their age. I think more than tutor, we need to have conversations, communicate, learn what they are thinking and feeling and process together.”

Flatiron Books

Ask an Expert: A Conversation With YA Author Dahlia Adler on How To Edit an Anthology by Chelsea Apple from Books Forward. Peek: “I love how much life changes in those young adult years, how big the feelings are, how fascinating the transition is as you gain more independence and try to balance the increased responsibility you want with the increased responsibility you don’t….[It’s] such a fraught, exciting, marvelous time, with so many possibilities…[and] relationships to explore….”

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s New Children’s Book Tâpwê and the Magic Hat Draws on the Wisdom of Indigenous Elders with Shelagh Rogers from CBC Radio. Peek: “People think differently, and the function of the language is different. So hopefully those of us who know many different ways to express ourselves will be able to make a better world because of our ability to reach one another and to say things in ways that make a new kind of common sense.”

How Book Creators Cope With Other Creators’ Success from Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Peek: “What helps me cope…: limiting how much time I spend browsing social media, diving back into work I enjoy, curating what I read via Twitter lists, helping boost someone who doesn’t get the recognition I feel they deserve, getting together in person with friends who aren’t … [and] are in the industry, and…talking with young readers.”

Cardinal Rule Press

Author Guest Post: “How to Honor Your Roots” by Vanessa Garcia, Author of What the Bread Says: Baking With Love, History, and Papan by Kellee Moye from Unleashing Readers. Peek: “It’s a picture book…of how, when I was a kid, my grandfather taught me to bake bread while telling me the family story. I hope it inspires many other kids and families to collect their own family stories….These are the stories that make us up, not just as individuals, but as a collective. A forest.”

The Magical Language of Literature: An Interview With Author Nikki Grimes by Betty Casey from Tulsa Kids Magazine. Peek: “Nikki Grimes says the most empowering part of literature for children and young people is that it helps them see that they are not alone….‘It is also a place where the seeds are planted for compassion and empathy, where you get to climb into somebody else’s skin and get a sense of what their…experience might be.’”


Cover Reveal & Exclusive Excerpt for Heroes of the Water Monster by Brian Young by JoAnn Yao from We Need Diverse Books. Peek: “[Brian Young on writing a sequel:] I know myself more as a writer now that I did when writing my [previous] book and have been able to use that knowledge to try different things and use different literary tool sets that I wasn’t comfortable with.”

Equity & Inclusion

Orange Shirt Day Creator Phyllis Webstad Reflects on Inspiring a Movement with Shelagh Rogers from CBC Radio. Peek: “When I got to the residential school, it was pee-your-pants terror to be there…There was no one telling us that it would be okay. We were just there and fed. [There was] [n]o one to tend to our emotions or to our fears….I’m humbled and honored that my story is a vehicle for change across Canada.”

Dynamite Entertainment

Interview: M.L. Smoker Discusses Thunderous by Deanna Destito from The Beat. Peek: “Diversity in literature is so important to developing a new generation’s understanding of the lives and experiences of different groups of people and communities. We need to be honest and accurate when talking about the complexities of history, race, and identity—and who has had the power to speak to those complexities over time.”

Together We Drum, Our Hearts Beat as One: A Conversation With Debut Author Willie Poll by Arpita Ghosal from SesayArts Magazine. Peek: “I really hope that teachers use this story to speak to the racism in Canada and how it effects Indigenous people, but also how women, girls, and LGBTQ2+ people are facing additional barriers. I think that gender discrimination is still something that isn’t talked about as often as it should be…Change begins with young people….”

Q&A With Sarah Aronson by Diane Debrovner from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “When I first started writing, Jewish books were mostly marketed to Jewish kids, and it felt like a separate market. Now we are all empowered to share who we are in our hearts—our practice, our faith, our rituals—and the diversity movement allows everyone to have a chance to create their stories.”

HighWater Press

Richard Van Camp on His Hope for The Spirit of Denendeh by Angela Wright from Quill & Quire. Peek: “I’m 50 years old, and I’m still starving to see Northerners in literature and comic books. And I just hope that [the book] and this series inspire a whole new generation of writers, storytellers, or artists….I want the world to know how beautiful we are as Northerners and Indigenous people.”

Author Interview: Gabriela Martins Chats About How It Feels To Be Able To Bring Brazilian Representation Through Her Book Bad at Love by Capella Gonzalez from Young Entertainment Magazine. Peek: “[I]t’s so incredible to help populate the world of Young Adult tradpub with my characters and the plurality I grew up around. On the other [hand], we’re far too few and far between. As of today, myself included, there are only four Brazilians publishing YA traditionally, and we all come from fairly similar backgrounds.”

Writing Craft

Ria Thunder Cloud Author of Finding My Dance…. by Paul G from Pow Wow Life Podcast. Peek: “[T]he beauty, the nuances…of a Pow Wow, the energy of a Pow Wow was so hard to explain…to a non-native if they’ve never been there. So putting all of this amazing Pow Wow, and the Pow Wow trail and stories that you have to share into a book, but into a tiny sentence as well…[was] challenging….”

Millbrook Press ™

A River’s Gifts: An Interview With Author Patricia Newman from The Lerner Blog. Peek: “When my imagination grabs hold of a potential idea, I search to see what else has been written about the topic for children as well as adults….I’m used to not finding much about my topic…My next step is to get the buy-in of the scientists involved. Without them, books like mine would be difficult to write.”

Q&A With Margarita Engle, Singing with Elephants by Paola M. from We Need Diverse Books. Peek: “Read, read, read. Then relax, turn off the gadgets, and find a quiet place to scribble with a pen and paper. Don’t expect perfection. Let the first draft flow. Enjoy the process. Corrections and revisions can be made later….As Tomás Rivera taught me: write from the heart, without worrying about getting published or being popular.”

Tomorrow Is New Year’s Day: Seollal, A Korean Celebration of the Lunar New Year by Aram Kim with John Schu from MrSchuReads. Peek: “I always start with sketching and drawing in my moleskin notebook…From there, I would normally sketch on the piece of paper that I would scan later, but this time, I sketched directly on the iPad mini…As the last step, I transferred all the images to the computer to put more details in Adobe Photoshop.”

Holiday House

Blending the Family Story With the Coming-of-Age Novel, a Guest Post by Anna Rose Johnson by Amanda MacGregor from Teen Librarian Toolbox. Peek: “When many authors begin a story, they have a good idea of what category it might fall into: it could be a book about a close-knit family…or it could be about a teen navigating a new life…But what if you want to do both?…I had to be willing to let [the two story sides] intertwine!”

Interview: Ann Liang on If You Could See the Sun…. by Paige Lobianco from The Honey Pop. Peek: “Once I have a story idea, I…let it simmer in the back of my mind, and I’ll think up lines, character dynamics, or certain scenes…[I’ll] hold all of this in my head until…[I] can’t keep track of everything anymore, and that’s when I’ll jot it all down in an outline. Then I’ll dive straight into drafting….”


A Cafe Chat With Literary Agent Alice Fugate by Kristen Strocchia from EasternPenPoints. Peek: “[W]hether I’m considering an author-illustrator or just an author’s text, I…err on the side of less is more….[I]t’s easier to sell than something that’s longer and wordier…Of course there has to be enough text to tell the story, so I usually give my authors grace if they’re getting a little over the customary word limit parameters….”

Sourcebooks Wonderland

Sourcebooks Launches STEAM Week Based on Bestselling Series by Shannon Maughan from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “[The] How to Catch series of picture books…blends wacky humor and rhyming stanzas with STEAM-based tips for constructing the perfect elaborate trap for…elusive characters….Sourcebooks will launch its inaugural How to Catch STEAM Week on November 7, running through November 11….The Sourcebooks team has created a week’s worth of Common Core-compliant, STEAM-themed activities….”

PRH Two-Day Holiday Transit Program Returns for 2022-2023 Season from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Penguin Random House has announced that it will…launch its two-day holiday transit program for the 2022-2023 season. The initiative, designed to support independent bookstores during and beyond the critical holiday season, launches on October 15…and extends through January 31, 2023. The program will continue to feature a ‘no minimums’ requirement for independent bookstores….”


How To Email a Press Release to Journalists: The Biggest Mistake To Avoid by Sandra Beckwith from Build Book Buzz. Peek: “In today’s digital society, the only time you should send a printed press release is when you’re tucking it inside a review copy. You need to email a press release to a journalist….[A]nd there’s a wrong way to do it….I created a step-by-step video to show you how to email a press release…the right way.”


Australian Booksellers Association Rebrands To Become BookPeople from Peek: “[N]othing has changed within the organization, but in name, we will be BookPeople. We will work on the day-to-day and specific projects as always and remain your Association, but with a contemporary consumer-facing brand. With its connotations of personal and professional, BookPeople represents booksellers’ uniqueness, individuality, and expertise.”


Legislators Introduce Right to Read Act to Fund School Libraries…. from School Library Journal. Peek: “The Right to Read Act is designed to ensure all students have access to a school library staffed by a certified school librarian. If passed, it would increase student access to fully staffed and well-resourced school libraries and reauthorize the Comprehensive Literacy State Development grant program ($500 million) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program ($100 million).”

Education/Other Resources/Events

Scholastic’sTeach Graphix Week takes place Oct. 17 to Oct. 21. “Celebrate graphic novels in the classroom with free activities, author events, and videos with your favorite creators!” The ambassadors for the program are Gale Galligan and Christina Soontornvat, and some of the additional creators for the event include Justin A. Reynolds, Shauna J. Grant and Aoife Dolley.

Orca Book Publishers

Massy Arts Society presents a Book Launch with Ts’msyen author Kim Spencer to celebrate her new book Weird Rules to Follow (Orca Book Publishers, 2022). This free event takes place Oct. 18 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m pacific at the Massy Arts Society, 23 East Pender Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 1S9 Canada. Register here.

We Need Diverse Books presents Rise Up Professional Development Panel, Level Up: How to Advance Your Career in Publishing. “We will be talking about how to advance your career in publishing with panelists Carrie Bloxson, Chief Diversity Officer at Hachette Book Group; Ashley Orlando, SVP, Human Resources at Hachette Book Group; Andrea Weinzimer, Associate Director, Human Resources at Hachette Book Group; and Cliff Manko, Chief Financial Officer at Beacon Press.” This free virtual event will be live-streamed on the WNDB YouTube channel on Oct. 18 at 5 p.m. pacific, 7 p.m. central, 8 p.m. eastern. Register here.

University of Colorado Boulder School of Education and the Boulder Book Store present the 2022 Children’s Book Festival from Nov. 3 to Nov. 4. On Nov. 3, authors and illustrators will visit Colorado schools. On Nov. 4 there will be two virtual author discussion panels: Picture Book Author and Illustrator Panel and Chapter Book Author Panel. Some of the featured authors and illustrators include e.E. Charlton-TrujilloJonathan Nelson and Laurel Goodluck. Register here for Nov. 4.

Levine Querido

Canisius College will host a book signing, book reading, and reception for the release of Canisius College professor and author Eric Gansworth’s YA novel My Good Man (Levine Querido, 2022). This free event will take place Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. eastern in the Grupp Fireside Lounge located on the second floor of the Richard E. Winter ’42 Student Center, 2001 Main Street, Buffalo, New York.


Andrea Davis Pinkney Is the 2022 Kerlan Award Winner from University of Minnesota News and Events. Peek: “Andrea Davis Pinkney has been named the 2022 Kerlan Award winner. The Kerlan Award is given each year in recognition of an author’s or illustrator’s exceptional attainments in the creation of children’s literature and their generous contributions and support of the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Kerlan Collection of Children’s Literature.”

On June 22, the 2022 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards winners were announced: All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir (Razorbill, 2022)(Fiction and Poetry), Blackbirds in the Sky by Brandy Colbert (Balzer + Bray, 2022)(Nonfiction), and Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Jason Griffin (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2022)(Picture Book). All of the award winners and honorees are celebrated through the month of October. Fiction and Poetry week took place Oct. 11 to Oct. 14 and video replays can be viewed from the awards website. Nonfiction week begins Oct. 18; picture book week begins Oct. 25.

Nancy Paulsen Books

Congratulations to the authors and illustrators whose books made the Barnes & Noble Best Books of the Year 2022 list, especially those books written for younger readers: Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022)(Top 10 Books), The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022)(Picture Books), The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2022)(Young Readers), and Long Live the Pumpkin Queen: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas by Shea Ernshaw (Disney Press, 2022)(Teens & YA).

Congratulations to the authors and illustrators whose books made the Diverse Book Awards Short List, especially in the Children’s and Young Adult categories. The awards are meant to “highlight the best of the diverse voices published in the UK & Ireland during 2021, both traditionally and self-published” because “there’s a need to showcase the talent of marginalized voices….”

Scholarships & Grants

Applications are open for the Latinx Book Creators School Visit Fund through Dec. 15. The fund, provided by the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival in collaboration with Penguin Random House, will subsidize 15 one-hour virtual school visits for Latinx authors and illustrators. “Only K-12 schools are eligible. Title 1 schools and schools with a 50% or greater Latinx student population will receive priority.” Apply here.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally – Cynthia

Happy (Belated) Indigenous Peoples’ Day! Yes, it’s terrific to celebrate and shine a light on Native voices and visions from now through Native Heritage Month. Just remember to keep it up longer after Dec. 1 and year round.

Speaking of which, new audio editions of two of my books are now available: Rain Is Not My Indian Name, narrated by Rainy Fields and Indian Shoes, narrated by Shaun Taylor-Corbett.

More Personally – Gayleen

I’ve been baking: peach turnovers and blueberry muffins for the Lago Vista Friends of the Library Book and Bake Sale this weekend.

More Personally – AJ

Finished reading The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber and had a small meltdown about the cliffhanger because book three hadn’t been announced and I was fully expecting the series to be a duology. However she posted this to Instagram last week and I was able to get rid of that breath I didn’t know I was holding…

Personal Links – Gayleen