Author Lara M. Zeises Launches Novel Editing Service

Lara M. Zeises is the author of several award-winning novels for young adults, including Bringing Up the Bones (2002), Contents Under Pressure (2004), and Anyone But You (2005), all through Delacorte Press. In addition, Lara writes what she calls “brainy chick lit with soul” under the pseudonym Lola Douglas for Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin/Putnam.

As of September 2006, Lara will be offering a professional novel editing service. She has worked closely as a critique partner for several successful YA authors, including Laurie Faria Stolarz (of the best-selling Blue is for Nightmares series (Llewellyn, 2003-), Kim Ablon Whitney (See You Down the Road (Knopf, 2004)), and Tea Benduhn (Gravel Queen (Simon & Schuster, 2003)). She’s also mentored student authors who’ve gone on to sign contracts with major imprints, like Wendy Lamb Books, and one who was recently awarded the prestigious Writer-in-Residency at the Boston Public Library.

Lara’s service will include:

– in-depth line edits
– an overall analysis of the project
– suggested game plan for revision/improvement
– critique of query and/or synopsis
– recommended reading list
– guidance in terms of finding an agent and/or a publisher

The cost for this personalized attention is $3 per properly formatted, double-spaced manuscript page. Re-reads of the reworked project will be offered at a substantial discount. Authors who’ve worked with Lara will receive a $50 discount toward the online revision workshop Lara team-teaches with Laurie Faria Stolarz.

Although she prefers to work with full manuscripts, Lara would consider editing a partial manuscript if the project is far enough along and the premise interests her.

For more information about Lara and her work, visit her on the Web. You may also want to review her blog.

2006 Write It Now! Winners and Honors Announced

The 2006 Write It Now! competition winners and honorable mentions have been announced at

Judges included Cynthia Leitich Smith (MG), Sonya Sones (Poetry), Alex Flinn (YA), Francesca Rusackas (PB), Dori Chaconas (CB), Kelly Milner Halls (NF), and Boyds Mills Press Art Director Tim Gillner (IL).

Congratulations to the winners, the honorable mentions, and all of the writers and illustrators who participated!

Cynsational News & Links

After a mini summer hiatus, Cynsations is back online! I had a wonderful time in New England. If you missed reading Spookycyn, surf over to learn all about my adventures. But I must open by saying congratulations to the July 2006 graduates of the Vermont College M.F.A. program in Writing for Children and Young Adults!

Congratulations too to my husband, author Greg Leitich Smith, who’s sold the Japanese language rights of his debut novel Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown, 2003, 2005)(author interview) to Poplar Sha of Japan. The novel was a Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner, named to ALA Popular Paperbacks, was a nominee for the Georgia Children’s Book Award, and won the League of Texas Writers’ Teddy Award. The Korean language rights sold previously. The companion book, Tofu and T. rex (Little Brown, 2005)(author interview) was recently named a finalist for the TSRA Golden Spur Award.

What else is new? Santa Knows by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Björkman (Dutton, fall 2006) is now available for pre-order at, Barnes & Noble, and many Booksense bookstores.

Also on the book front, Gail Giles (author interview) blogs about my upcoming gothic fantasy, Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007) at The YA Novel and Me. She notes, “This is a vampire novel that moves like–well, a bat out of hell. ” Read the whole post.

And at Gwenda Bond’s Shaken & Stirred, the word on Tantalize is: “Simply put: FABULOUS. So good and dark. Best ending I’ve read in ages, and nicely feminist as well.” Read the whole post.

More News & Links

Author Dianna Hutts Aston is teaching an all-day picture book workshop in conjunction with SCBWI Brazos Valley on Nov. 18 in College Station, Texas. Learn more about the workshop. Dianna also offers a picture book critique service. Read a Cynsations interview with Dianna.

Illinois Authors Database: “an ongoing project by the Illinois Center for the Book.” Updated regularly; includes “authors, illustrators and photographers who are published, live in Illinois, have lived in Illinois, were born in Illinois, have written extensively about Illinois or have works set in Illinois.” See site if you’re interested in Illinois book creators and/or are an Illinois author/illustrator needing to add or update your profile. Note: I’ve lived in Chicago, and one of my books–Indian Shoes (Harpercollins, 2002)(readers theater) is set there. Also chef Vaggio from Tantalize (Candlewick, 2006) is a native Chicagoan. Speaking of which, Greg was born in Evanston, raised in Chicago, and his Peshtigo School novels–Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little Brown, 2003, 2005) and Tofu and T. rex (Little Brown, 2005) were set in the city.

The July issue of PaperTigers includes: an interview with author-illustrator Allen Say; an illustration gallery featuring the work of Carl Angel; “Here to Stay: South Asian Literature for Teens” by Pooja Makhijani; “Diversity Matters: Growing Markets in Children’s Publishing” by Laura Atkins; “A Note to Young Immigrants” by Mitali Perkins; and new book reviews.

Poetry for Children: “about finding and sharing poetry with young people.” A debut blog from Sylvia Vardell, professor at Texas Woman’s University.

To Read or not to Read: “a high school librarian reviews books for young adults.” Focus on YA titles and adult titles suitable for high school; based in New Jersey. Recent reads include: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (1999)(a re-read); Endgame by Nancy Garden (2006)(author interview); Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar (2005)(author interview).

Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature recommends an article by Shirley Sterling, author of My Name Is Seepeetza.

35th Annual Summer Conference of SCBWI

An esteemed faculty of more than fifty authors, illustrators, editors, agents, and publishers will be assembled for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators‘ milestone 35th Annual Summer Conference on Writing and Illustrating for Children from Aug. 4 to 7 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The 35th Annual Summer Conference features 77 workshops, 15 keynote speeches, and panels, covering subjects from plotting to picture books, formats to contracts, illustration to agenting, current market trends to trends of the future. A partial listing of conference speakers includes: Mo Willems (two-time Caldecott Honor recipient and New York Times bestselling author and illustrator); Caroline B. Cooney (bestselling author of novels and series); Jacqueline Woodson (Coretta Scott King Award winning author and National Book Award finalist); Paul Fleischman (winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, Newberry Honor recipient and National Book Award Finalist); Nina Laden (award-winning and bestselling author and illustrator); Elise Primavera (bestselling author and illustrator of Auntie Claus), Beverly Horowitz (President and Publisher of Bantam Delacorte Dell Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books), Wendelin Van Draanen (award-winning author of the Sammy Keyes and Shredderman series and more), Nancy Siscoe (Associate Publishing Director & Executive Editor, Knopf and Crown Books for Young Readers), Jarrett Krosoczka (acclaimed picture book author and illustrator), Jodi Reamer (Literary Agent, Writers House LLC), Elizabeth Parisi (Art Director, Scholastic, Inc.), and Louise May (Editor-in-Chief, Lee & Low Books). For a complete listing of speakers and workshops, please visit the SCBWI website.

The Golden Kite Award Luncheon on Sunday, August 6th will honor the winners of the 2005 Golden Kite Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Book Text, and Picture Book Illustration: Mary E. Pearson (A Room on Lorelei Street)(author interview); Russell Freedman (Children of the Great Depression); Pat Mora (Doña Flor); Melissa Sweet (Baby Bear’s Chairs). In addition, David LaRochelle will receive the Sid Fleischman Humor Award for his novel Absolutely, Positively Not. Learn more about SCBWI awards.

The SCBWI, founded in 1971 by Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser, is designed for both professional and aspiring children’s writers and illustrators. There are more than 20,000 members worldwide, making it the largest writers’ organization in the world. In addition to its annual summer conference, the SCBWI conducts an annual winter conference in New York City, and numerous regional conferences throughout the country; publishes a bi-monthly newsletter; awards grants for works-in-progress, among others; publishes many booklets on the art and business of writing and selling.