Reminder: Boys & Girls, Men & Women, Authors & Heroes

Tonight, May 10 at the YA Authors Cafe – Boys & Girls, Men & Women, Authors & Heroes: how gender affects how we write, who we write for, and what happens next. Cynthia Leitich Smith explores gender writing issues with panelists Nancy Werlin, D.L. Garfinkle, and Brian Yansky.

The YA Authors Cafe chats are held Tuesday evenings at 8:30 p.m. EST. Please join in at Click the cafe chatroom icon to enter the chat.

Cynsational Links

A Round-Up of Some of the Season’s Best Books for Boys by Elizabeth Ward from The Washington Post. (Children’s and YA).

Author Greg Leitich Smith blogs about channeling your inner child.

Check out the lovely Laurie Halse Anderson’s May 7 LJ entry about her writing group. Very interesting! I’m also proud to be included among her buddies.

Double Byline

Greg and I signed a contract this week with Dutton Children’s Books for a humorous holiday picture book, tentatively titled Santa and the Snorklepuss. We’re not sure yet on the publication date, but we’re thrilled that Steve Bjorkman has already agreed to illustrate the story.

This soon-to-be published manuscript represents the first book Greg and I have co-authored, and it also will be his first picture book.

In addition, I got word today that Tantalize, my upcoming gothic fantasy YA, has been slated for August 2007, just in time for Halloween. The novel will be published by Candlewick, and the revision process has been the subject of many a spookycyn post.

Cynsational Links

An Interview with Doug Whiteman, publisher of Penguin Young Readers Group, from

“Bibliography, Biology, Biopsy-What?” by Katie Clark, in the Writing Nonfiction section of Writing Tips from the Institute of Children’s Literature. See also “Making the Writing Better: Cutting Pages, Paragraphs, Lines and Words” by Gail Martini-Peterson, in the Work Habits section of ICL Writer’s Support.

Worser and Worser; O. Henry Writing Club

Anne Bustard, author of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Simon & Schuster, 2005), spoke about plot yesterday to SCBWI Austin members at Barnes & Noble Westlake.

She drew on her own experiences as a reader, writer, educator, and former children’s bookstore owner, and she highly recommended the book Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver, creator of the legendary Writers’ Loft in Chicago.

Anne’s examples of children’s books that showed steadily rising opposition against the protagonist were: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst and Frindle by Andrew Clements.

She also talked about books that began with a character want (like Pig Enough by Janie Bynum and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka) as well as books that began with a conflict (like Milo’s Hat Trick by Jon Agee and Bubba and Beau Meet The Relatives by Kathi Appelt).

Another helpful book that came up during the Q&A that followed was Story by Robert McKee. It also was noted that Immediate Fiction doesn’t particularly address subplots, but arguably the same principles could be applied to a lesser intensity.

After Anne’s talk, Greg and I stayed on for the 15th Annual O. Henry Writing Club Celebration, MC’d by Austin writer Spike Gillespie.

We were among ten local authors who each read aloud one of the winner’s entries and presented them with a signed copy of one of our own books and a collection of O. Henry’s short stories.

“My” winner was a delightful middle school girl, who has an interest in journalism and horseback riding. It was a great honor to meet her, read her work, and present her with a copy of the anthology along with my first novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name.

About a hundred people were in attendance, and I was pleased to see adults applauding for youth writing.

Little Prairie Hen Wins 1rst TSRA Golden Spur Award

The Texas State Reading Association (TSRA), the state affiliate of the International Reading Association (IRA), has announced the winner of the annual Texas Golden Spur Award for Children’s Literature. This year’s recipient was announced in conjunction with the 50th IRA Convention in San Antonio.

The award has been established to honor the authors of children’s literature who reside in the state of Texas. Other criteria includes a publication date of within five years and nominations based on literary merit. To learn more about this award, please go to

The winner was: Little Prairie Hen by College Station author, Debbie Leland.

The runners-up were: Alley Cat’s Meow by College Station author, Kathi Appelt; Bluebonnet at the Marshall Train Depot by Carrollton author, Mary Brooke Casad; Plaidypus Lost by Fort Worth author, Susan Stevens Crummel; Jazz Cats by San Antonio author, David R. Davis; Eric and the Enchanted Leaf: The First Adventure by Houston author, Deborah Frontiera.

Cynsational Thoughts

Anyone who has spent a lot of time pouring through American publisher catalogs knows that published authors have tended to rise from the Northeast and California. Authors from “the middle” are more rare. In fact, it’s not unusual for a big NYC publisher to offer more books by the citizens of Great Britain that by voices from the American midwest, Great Lakes, southwest, southeast, northwest, and deep south put together.

It is vitally important that underrepresented regions support and nuture their own talent. Promoting and reading books by a particular author is, in a sense, a vote for more books by that author or of that author’s (sometimes geographic) sensibility.

Congratulations, Debbie!

Comments: Talk To Cyn!

Dear Cynsational Readers,

As you may have noticed, I’ve turned on comments both for Cynsational and SpookyCyn.

So, don’t be a blurker (blog + lurker). Let me hear what you have to say.

According to my profile, I’ve written about 40,000 words, which is arguably novel-length.

Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite past posts, in case you may have missed one: Jingle Dancer, Cinderella, Multicultural Humor, Seriously, The Thin & The Fat of It, Author’s Life, Not Writing?, Rituals, First Reading, El Chino and Son of the Mob, The Order of the Poison Oak, Indian Shoes, Rain Is Not My Indian Name, Bibliotherapy and Star Wars, The Truth About Sparrows, My (Mostly) Non-Writing Life, Sock Monkey Goes To Hollywood, Unexpected Development, National Book Finalists Announced (featuring an interview with Julie Anne Peters on Luna), Children’s Illustrator in “Desperate Housewives,” In Memory of Francess Lantz (featuring author interview), Effective Aspects, Picture Book Market, Why I Write, Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson, Critique: Giving & Receiving, Novel Critique and Revision Questions, Profile on Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, An Interview With Cynthia Leitich Smith, Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won The Girl, Wanna Win The Newbery?, Cynsational Books of 2004, Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood, Vivian Vande Velde on Companions of the Night and Being Dead, Promotional Postcards, Period Pieces: Stories for Girls, Out of Order, Anne Bustard on Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly, See You Down The Road, Last Dance on Holladay Street, Maya Running, Tribal Thoughts, Interview with Elisa Carbone, Moccasin Thunder, Writing, Fear, and Gender, Comfort, In My Grandmother’s House, Writing for YAs v. Adults, Humor in YA Lit, Niche Marketing Children’s & YA Books, Kathi Appelt and Joy Fisher Hein on Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers, A Room on Lorelei Street, Holly Black on Tithe, The Boyfriend List, Dancing In Red Shoes Will Kill You, Stained, Boy Proof, Greg Leitich Smith on Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo, Each Little Bird That Sings.

That should give y’all plenty to talk about.

Cynsationally Yours,


P.S. Thanks to DevasT for clueing me in on how comments work.

Lerner Publishing Group To Give Away Books To Teen Read Registrants

CHICAGO – Lerner Publishing Group, an official sponsor of the Young Adult Library Association’s (YALSA) Teen Read Week celebration, will donate one new biography to librarians and educators who are planning to celebrate Teen Read Week, October 16 – 22, 2005.

Those who want to receive books from Lerner must become official Teen Read Week participants by registering for Teen Read Week on the web at Members and nonmembers of YALSA are eligible to participate in this offer, and those who wish to join the association can find membership information at:

Librarians and educators must register by September 15 to be eligible to receive books from Lerner.

Lerner Publishing Group is an independent publisher of highly acclaimed and well-reviewed books for young adults as well as children of all ages. Since 1959, Lerner has created books that have captured readers’ curiosity and attention.

Lerner’s young adult books are published through the following imprints: top-quality nonfiction by Twenty-First Century Books and YA fiction by Carolrhoda Books. Their title listing is available at

“We are exceptionally thrilled to be sponsoring Teen Read Week and hope that every teen gets the opportunity to read and explore their curiosities in more detail,” stated Adam Lerner, Publisher and President at Lerner Publishing Group.

“YALSA is delighted to have Lerner Publishing Group as a supporter of Teen Read Week,” said YALSA President David Mowery. “Thanks to Lerner’s generous support, library workers and educators have an extra incentive to register for, and celebrate, Teen Read Week, which helps to promote literacy for teens nationwide.”

Now in its eighth year, Teen Read Week is a national literacy initiative of YALSA, a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The number of school library media centers, public libraries and bookstores that celebrate Teen Read Week has grown steadily over the years. In 2004, over 1,300 participants registered on the Teen Read Week Web site (

The Teen Read Week Web site, includes annotated lists of recommended reading for teens; tips for planning and promoting Teen Read Week events locally; Teen Read Week products available for purchase; links to the Teens’ Top Ten, a list of book favorites chosen by teens; professional resources for librarians, teachers and parents and more. This year, participants who officially register for Teen Read Week on the Web site can download the Get Real! @ your library logo.

Lerner Publishing Group is a Classic Sponsor of Teen Read week. Orca Book Publishers and Pam Spencer Holley are official Friends of Teen Read Week. Teen Read Week’s nonprofit supporting organizations include: American Association of School Administrators, American Booksellers Association, Cable in the Classroom, KIDSNET, Kids Care, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Council of Teachers of English,, National Education Association, National School Board Association, PBS, Speak Up Press, International Reading Association, TeenInk and The N/Noggin.

For more information, contact the YALSA office by e-mail at, or by phone at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4387.

Cynsational News & Links

“Cultivating My Garden of Editors” by Nancy Bennett in the Satisfying Editors section of Writer’s Support from the Institute of Children’s Literature. See also “Dialogue: Eye-Glazing or Eye-Popping?” by Kathy Greer in the Story Dialogue section of Writing Tips from ICL.

“Editing Anthologies for Young People” by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling from CBC Magazine.

Danny Schnitzlein, author of The Monster Who Ate My Peas, illustrated by Matt Faulkner (Peachtree, 2001), offers Tips For Writers: Young and Old.

More personally, I blogged on spookycyn this week about the importance of understanding one’s villainous characters.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Zipped down I-35 with Greg yesterday for the third time in the past week, this round back to San Antonio, to meet with Dr. Jim Blasingame at Boudro’s for an article he’s writing about us.

For those of you who are local or visiting for the IRA conference, I highly recommend the decadent lobster, crawfish, shrimp dish.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cynsational News & Links

Help! The Writing Process of the Dirty Cowboy: From Family Story to Published Book by Amy Timberlake from The Purple Crayon. See also Help from Family, Critique Groups, and SCBWI and Working With Publishers for the rest of the story.

An Interview with Jennifer Barnes, author of Golden (Knopf, forthcoming) from the “Secrets Of Success” column on author Ellen Jackson’s Web site. Jennifer is a 20-year-old cognitive science major at Yale.

Anastasia Suen blogs about the Writer’s Digest call for nominees; the editors are looking for blogs to highlight in an upcoming issue. Allow me to echo Anastasia when I encourage you to nominate blogs of children’s/YA authors and illustrators!

What Novels Would I Teach?

The question was posed on one of my writer list servs: what children’s/YA novel would you teach? These were my answers:

Middle Grade Novels would include: Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach (Henry Holt, 2005); The Storyteller’s Beads by Jane Kurtz (Harcourt, 1998); The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed by Heather Vogel Frederick (Simon & Schuster, 2002).

YA Novels: Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville (Harcourt, 1998); Sammy & Juliana In Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz (Cinco Puntos Press, 2004); When Kambia Elaine Flew Down From Neptune by Lori Aurelia Williams (Simon & Schuster, 2000).

In case it helps any teachers out there, Dr. Waller Hastings at Northern State U in South Dakota teaches my ‘tweener novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (Harper, 2001), and author/librarian Toni Buzzeo prepared an incredible standards-based curriculum for my husband’s novel, Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith (Little Brown, 2003).

Cynsational News and Links

Writer Debbi Michiko Florence offers a “Buzz Review” of Over and Over You by Amy McAuley (Roaring Brook, 2005). an online community for writers of all ages, interests and skill levels. Anyone may create a free portfolio and exchange feedback with other writers. Named one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 “Best Websites For Writers, 2005.”

Author Interview with Alex Flinn on Fade To Black (HarperCollins, 2005) from

Promote Your Back List

I’ve spent most of the morning answering questions for a feature in Library Sparks, corresponding with a beginning Native writer, suggesting other authors to planners for upcoming events, and coordinating revisions with editors.

I was also thinking that I’ve had a number of conversations of late with breakthrough writers, those who’ve sold their first book (and perhaps more) in the recent tough market. This is mostly because Austin has had an explosion in new talent. Yay!

One suggestion I have for new authors is to keep looking for opportunities to promote their back-list books. The front-list window is not a big one, and certainly, you want to maximize opportunities while on center stage. But children’s books are going out of print quickly these days, and consistent sales are what will bring your story to each new wave of young readers.

No one is a better advocate for your book(s) than you. So keep your eyes open and your cover art ready! Show your love for your book and readers by continuing to bring them together.

Cynsational News & Links

Today’s mail brings a postcard from Italy from author/illustrator Katie Davis. Thanks, Katie!

Author Anastasia Suen blogs about the Lee & Low New Voices Award.

The 2005-2006 nominees for the Crown Gallery, Crown, and Lamplighter Awards have been posted by the Christian Schools Association. Special congratulations to: Austinite Don Tate, illustrator of Black All Around by Patricia Hubbell (Lee & Low); Austinite Lindsey Lane, author of Snuggle Mountain, illustrated by Melissa Iwai (Clarion); Kay Winters, author of Abraham Lincoln, The Boy Who Loved Books, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Simon & Schuster); Jane Kurtz, author of both Bicycle Madness, illustrated by Beth Peck (Henry Holt) and Saba: Under the Hyena’s Foot (American girl).

“When Your Muse Plays Hide and Seek” by Shari Lyle-Soffe from her blog, Out of My Mind.

Earning By Learning

Greg and I spoke today at Reading In The Garden, an event coordinated by Earning By Learning at the Dallas Arboretum.

It was a lovely, sunny day, focusing on my early reader chapter book, Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002), and highlighted by well-prepared and enthusiastic students from five Dallas area elementary schools.

Memories include posing in front of two 15-foot tall peacocks (assembled from flowers), strolling the pathways, and autographing one book for each member of the audience.

Cynsational Links

The Authors’ Wish List, compiled by the POD, from author/librarian Toni Buzzeo.

New Jersey SCBWI announces its annual conference June 4, 2005 at Caldwell College in Caldwell, New Jersey.