Austin’s Delacorte Dames and Dude

Not for teenagers only: Austin’s Delacorte Dames and Dude explain why writing young adult novels is a very grown-up endeavor by Jeff Salamon from The American-Statesman Staff. Peek: “Having a group of friends who are going through the same thing as you—trying to reach the same audience, dealing with the same copy editors, working with the same marketing department—is a rare blessing.” See more from Jeff about the DDDs latest novels.

Learn more about Shana Burg, Varian Johnson, April Lurie, Margo Rabb, and Jennifer Ziegler.

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win an advanced reader copy of City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (McElderry Books, March 24, 2009). To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “City of Glass” in the subject line. Note: Facebook and MySpace readers can message me instead, but don’t send mailing information. I’ll touch base if you win. Deadline: March 2! All Cynsational readers are eligible! Read a Cynsations interview with Cassandra Clare.

Author Interview and Book Giveaway with Cynthia Leitich Smith from Beth Revis at writing it out. Peek: “My original concept was elf-vampire, not angel-vampire; that came at the suggestion of my editor, but I loved it and started over again.” Note: Beth is giving away a copy of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) or Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). Deadline: Feb. 28. See details.

See more giveaways, including Eternal giveaways, below!

More News

Through The Wardrobe: a new blog by author Janet Fox and “a window into one writer’s world, from thoughts about writing technique to musings about my experiences.”

Win-It Wednesday: No Laughter Here by Rita Williams-Garcia + The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson from Melissa Walker at MySpace. Peek: “both of these books are fantastic in different ways. You’ll love the spirit of Akilah in No Laughter Here (HarperCollins/Amistad, 2004)(author interview) as she tries to figure out why her best friend Victoria has changed after coming home from a summer visit to Nigeria. And in The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Holt, 2008)(author interview), the suspense of finding out Jenna’s true history kept me up late into the night.” Comment before March 11ish (she said “about two weeks”).

Author Jackson Pearce offers a videolog on giving cats baths and giving up on your novel (below). Note: I watch this and think: She has a gray cat; I have gray cats. I like people with gray cats. I want to learn more about her.

We Ask An Editor: Emily Schultz, Disney-Hyperion by Megan Frazer from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “I often reread my letters and think, “Thank God she didn’t agree with me on that one.” I write really long editorial letters with plenty of suggestions, but my real aim is to show authors potential in their stories they might not have realized. Sometimes they’re good ideas in themselves. But usually it’s the back-and-forth that propels the evolution of a story.”

SCBWI NY Winter Conference Report by Meredith Davis from Austin SCBWI. Peek: “Sure, I’d love to make that connection with the perfect agent or editor. But perhaps that isn’t going to happen in the mad dash that inevitably occurs at the end of a presentation. Maybe that connection only happens when I’ve reminded myself to write from my heart, and continue to produce new and different work that grows and changes just as my characters need to.”

Sympathetic vs. Unsympathetic Characters from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “And there are some actions that are just too far beyond the pale for even the most likable of characters, including using racial slurs and/or other powerful cultural taboos. (Oddly this does not seem to include killing people and eating their flesh. Books are weird that way.)” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Congratulations to Tanya Lee Stone on the release of Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream (Candlewick, 2009). From the promotional copy: “Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 20, 2009. What does it take to be an astronaut? Excellence at flying, courage, intelligence, resistance to stress, top physical shape–any checklist would include these. But when America created NASA in 1958, there was another unspoken rule: you had to be a man. Here is the tale of thirteen women who proved that they were not only as tough as the toughest man but also brave enough to challenge the government. They were blocked by prejudice, jealousy, and the scrawled note of one of the most powerful men in Washington. But even though the Mercury 13 women did not make it into space, they did not lose, for their example empowered young women to take their place in the sky, piloting jets and commanding space capsules. Almost Astronauts is the story of thirteen true pioneers of the space age. They had the right stuff. They defied the prejudices of the time. And they blazed a trail for generations of women to follow.”

Agent Interview: Michelle Humphrey from Sterling Lord from Denise Jaden. Peek: “I’m looking for YA (contemporary, historical, romance, quirky – not really genre fantasy, but I’m open to fantasy elements)–anything with a distinct voice. I am especially fond of subversive heroines–characters who break the rules and aren’t afraid to set themselves apart from the crowd.”

Namastechnology: Asana: Twitter: “This new monthly column aims to bring bookselling and technology into greater balance with one another and is written by Stephanie Anderson, manager of WORD bookstore in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, N.Y. You can read more of her thoughts on books and bookselling at” Another peek: “You’ll feel almost instantly how good Twitter is for you. There are dozens upon dozens of booksellers, sales reps, publishers, reviewers and authors on Twitter. You know that sort of glow-y buzz you get after a bookseller convention, when you feel like your mind is expanding and you’ve met some cool new people and you have the greatest job in the world? That’s what Twitter can be like.” Source: Laurie Halse Anderson.

An Interview with Kathi Appelt from Authors Unleashed. Peek: “Perseverance is the key. I began to seriously write for publication when my boys were very young, so I learned to write in five minute snatches of time. I didn’t wait to find those huge chunks of time that everyone is always searching for. In those early days, that would have been impossible. So, whenever I had five minutes, I grabbed my pencil and wrote. I still do that to a great extent.”

Getting by With a Little Help from Your Friends from Buried in the Slush Pile. Peek: “I would like to encourage everyone to get out and mingle with your fellow authors. Writing can be a very solitary pursuit–just you and your keyboard or pad of paper. Interactions like these help you maintain perspective.” Note: a peek into the Austin youth writing/editing/book-selling scene.

More Story, Less You from Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent. Peek: “I know you’ll find all over the Internet that writing qualifications are important. They definitely are if you’re writing nonfiction. But for novels: not so much. Honestly.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Bloody Bookaholics: “My duty is to help you not to waste your time and find the best match for you, whether its fiction or supernatural, the one book for everyone is out there, you just gotta look.”

Win Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson from In Bed with Books. Deadline: Feb. 28.

Sparrow Girls and Too Many Beetles: Ed Spicer’s Teen Book Reviews highlights Sparrow Girl by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka (Hyperion, 2009) and One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Matthew Trueman (Candlewick, 2009). Peek: “The common bond between both of these excellent books is the risks taken by Ming-Li and Darwin. Both risk the wrath of family and society by listening more to that inner voice that cares only for truth, than to caving in to the pressures exerted by family and society expectations.”

Cory Doctorow: Writing in the Age of Distraction from Locus Magazine. Peek: “The single worst piece of writing advice I ever got was to stay away from the Internet because it would only waste my time and wouldn’t help my writing.” Source: Laurie Halse Anderson.

What About the Catholics?
from Liz B at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy. Peek: “On the one hand, as a child I assumed every character in a book was like me until I was told differently. Unless there was evidence to the contrary, the characters were Catholic like me. Of course, that’s not true. I think some authors perhaps do that deliberately (not mentioning religion at all). So what about the Catholics?”

Enter the So You Think You Can “Dead Girl” Dance Contest! 1st place: autographed copies of Dead Girl Walking (Flux, 2008) and Dead Girl Dancing (Flux, 2009), your name on the dedication page of a future Linda Joy Singleton book, your video link featured on the author’s blogs; 2nd place: a book of choice by Linda Joy Singleton. Learn more. Read a Cynsations interview with Linda Joy.

Evelyn Coleman: an interview by Carla Sarratt in conjunction with 28 Days Later 2009: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “…even with years of accounting experience, I still am not able to read the royalty statements of at least half of my publishers.” See also an interview with “vanguard” author Jacqueline Woodson. Peek: “I think if I didn’t have a village — here in Brooklyn… I have so many close friends, my children have so many ‘aunties’and ‘cousins’. There is always someone saying ‘You can do this, Jackie’ or ‘You rock!’ or just saying ‘come over, we’re cooking for y’all tonight.’ And that’s the kind of stuff that makes the everyday so much easier.”

In These Harsh Economic Times from The Rejector. Peek: “Despite the corporate doom-and-gloom, publishing is actually a fairly stable industry in that people always want/need books. It’s either for school or escapism, and it’s rather cheap escapism, as most mass market paperbacks are now cheaper than a movie ticket and the book will last you longer.”

Q & A with Lisa Yee by Lynda Brill Comerford from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “I didn’t really think about Maybelline’s race very much. Her feelings and emotions transcend race. But, in the book, there is an Asian character, Ted. Inserting him was a conscious choice. Through him, I wanted to explore what would happen if you were raised one race and found out that your DNA showed you to be a different race.” Source: Confessions of a Bibliovore.

Definitions for the Perplexed: Editorial Anonymous offers insights into the mysteries of such publishing issues as cast-off, galleys, ARCs, proofs, PPB, ISBNs. Peek: “So galleys are not like buckshot loaded into a shotgun, meant to be fired in the general direction of marketing opportunities. They are sent to the people who will very likely make a difference in the sales numbers. Try to remember this before you suggest that your publisher send you a couple hundred to pass out to your friends.”

Congratulations to J. E. MacLeod on the release of Waiting to Score (WestSide, 2009)! From the promotional copy: “Quirky 15-year-old Zack Chase is a smart, talented hockey player who knows how to score on the ice. Hockey’s in his blood. Trouble is he’s not so sure he wants to follow his late father’s footsteps to become a professional hockey player. But, Zack’s Mom is determined he’ll make it to the pros, no matter what. When Zack and his Mom move to a new town, incidents on ice and off force Zack to dig deep to find out who he really is–and what he really wants. Is it Jane, the hockey hating Goth girl he’s wildly intrigued with? Or an easier, sure thing? Soon, Zack faces sore losers, drinking problems, and his own screw-ups with girls. Zack discovers the hard way that sometimes secrets have tragic and far-reaching consequences. He ultimately learns that there are some things that can never be undone, no matter how much he may want it.”

A Boot Camp for Writers, Featuring Editors and Authors from Blooming Tree Press will be held by Austin SCBWI from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 25 at the Residency Center in Terravista, located off I-35 in Round Rock, Texas (directions will be sent with confirmation). Event will include: professional critiques; Continental breakfast and lunch; networking opportunities; general sessions; break-out sessions. Note: Although Blooming Tree Press does not normally accept unagented submissions, Boot Camp Participants will be invited to submit work after this event. See additional information and registration packet. Note: featured editors will include Buried in the Slush Pile. Read a Cynsations interview with Blooming Tree editor Miriam Hees.

Enter to Win an ARC of The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan from Karen Mahoney. Note: leave a comment explaining why you want to win the book.” Deadline: March 2.

Check out this TV interview (below) with YA authors Mari Mancusi and Melissa Walker; see also Cover Stories: Fashion Week Interview with Molly (aka Violet!) from Melissa. Peek: “Meet Molly H. She’s the model on the cover of all three Violet books.”

Marvelous Marketer – Elizabeth Dulemba (Illustrator/Author) from Shelli at Market My Words: Marketing Advice for Authors/Illustrators from a Marketing Consultant & Aspiring Children’s Book Author. Peek: “It’s the old ‘see it seven times’ rule of advertising. People generally don’t notice an ad until they’ve seen it at least seven times. In other words, the more you and your name are out there, the more likely your work will stick in people’s minds.”

Q & A with K.L. Going by Sue Corbett from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “I was still working at Curtis Brown and seeing a lot of manuscripts that had to do with the fear that event had caused. I had been a fearful child but I was looking for a book that would deal with fear in a more general sense.” Read a Cynsations interview with K. L.

Rachel Cohn: visit her new author blog! Peek: “I just finished a book called Very LeFreak that will come out in early 2010. It’s about a nineteen-year-old girl, nicknamed Very LeFreak, who is way out of control with online and iPhone addiction, and what happens when she has to go cold turkey from her electronic life.” Note: she’s interested in suggestions as to what to blog about.

Overheard at the NJ-SCBWI Mentoring Workshop from Tara Lazar at Writing for Kids (While Raising Them). Peek: “We may see a return to house authors. Authors and publishers will enter a partnership. They’ll help nurture one another and careers will have a steady progression. If you find a house that loves you, they will love you long time!” Note: many interesting tidbits.

Winnie’s War by Jenny Moss (Walker, 2009): a recommendation from Greg Leitich Smith at GregLS Blog. Peek: “It’s the autumn of 1918; the war is almost over, but the town of Coward Creek, Texas; is bracing itself for the Spanish flu that has already killed thousands across the country and in nearby Houston.” Note: a well-crafted, emotionally resonant historical novel. Recommended to writers for study as a model.

Swag Bag Contest from Brooke Taylor. Peek: “This past weekend my local RWA group hosted a teen reader panel and I put together some awesome swag bags with the help of several very cool authors and I have 1 bag left! The bag has a signed copy of Undone plus book swag (stickers/magnets/bookmarks) from Alyson Noel, Keri Mikulski, Lisa Schroeder, and Tina Ferraro. Plus, As a thank you to these super ladies–I’ll throw in one book of your choice by any of these authors…” Deadline: March 1. See details.

Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia (Harper Teen, 2009): a recommendation from Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: “…a compelling and sometimes disturbing novel of choices and randomness…” Read a Cynsations interview with Rita.

Book Revenue Breakdown from Nathan Bransford — Literary Agent. Peek: “….note that this (thankfully) doesn’t include rights the agent/author might have reserved, such as audio rights, foreign, and dramatic rights, which can be very important in helping authors earn enough for a new couch to sit on as they frantically write their next book in the hopes of landing the money for a new coffee table.” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Attention Writers/Illustrators: “Comment Your Butt Off” Contest! $1,000 Prize! from Shelli at Market My Words: Marketing Advice for Authors/Illustrators from a Marketing Consultant & Aspiring Children’s Book Author. Starting March 1, comment to win a five-page website, a branding package, or a five-hour marketing consultation. See details.

Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #80: Daniel Pinkwater from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “I have had many adventures, including being stranded at night in the Serengeti, living on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, meeting many remarkable people, being in the right place at the right time over and over…and none of those are as much fun as writing.” Source: Gwenda Bond.

Check out this fun book trailer for Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle, 2008).

Stacy Whitman: new official site from the editor-writer. Read her recent interview at Cynsations.

Congratulations to author Varian Johnson on his recent profile, “Find Black Authors on Virtual Shelf,” by Jeff Salamon in the Feb. 24 issue of the Austin American-Statesman! Peek: “We just want a way to open up the world, or at least some people, to the idea that there’s more than just one type of African American children’s book.” See The Brown Bookshelf.

You Can’t Just Be a Writer Anymore by Tess Gerritsen from Murderati. Peek: “These days, being a writer is no longer just about the books. We can no longer slide by like those 1980’s slacker writers and turn in one well-written manuscript every year. Now we have to be novelists, salesmen, speakers, and media personalities.” Source: April Henry. Note: most of the rest of it holds true, but trade children’s/YA writers are not necessarily expected to produce at the same rate; don’t panic.

readergirlz‘s Operation Book Drop 2009 trailer:

Interview with Rosemary Clement-Moore from ChristaCarol Jones. Peek: “I think the paranormal trend isn’t new in YA–in fact, Sci-Fi and Fantasy books used to be dismissed by serious literary types as ‘juvenile.’ Lots of what I pulled off the SFF shelves as a kid is now on the YA shelves.” Read a Cynsations interview with Rosemary Clement-Moore.

Cornelius Van Wright: an article and interview from Don Tate in conjunction with 28 Days Later 2009: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “We believe the editors we worked with saw that part of our process was to really do our homework investigating the culture we were illustrating. We would always find friends and neighbors we knew (or got to know) from the culture we were illustrating to find out or confirm whatever questions we may have had about any given topic, clothing or custom dealing with that culture.” Note: Neil and his wife, Ying-Hwa were the illustrators of Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Morrow, 2000). Read a Cynsations interview with Neil and Ying-Hwa.

Interview with Author P. J. Hoover and a book giveaway from Christy’s Creative Space. Peek: “I love sneaking bits of science and math into my writing! For example, how lower floors are numbered based on i (the imaginary number). What a meniscus is. Counting starting at zero. And most seemingly random numbers I used are actually powers of 2 (as binary numbers are the basis for electrical engineering).” Read a Cynsations interview with P. J.

VCFA Twitter from students and alumni of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Source: Gwenda Bond.

Giveaway: The Forest of Hands and Teeth from Carrie Ryan. Leave a comment to win.

Congratulations to author Kimberly Griffiths Little on signing her three-book deal with Scholastic! Note: a celebratory post, especially recommended to those needing a reminder that dreams can come true. Love those purple shoes!

Interview with new YA fantasy author Cindy Pon from Alex Moore. Peek: “fantasy is my first love as a genre. and i love myth and folklore. at the time, i had just begun as a student of chinese brush painting, and was enjoying learning about my heritage and culture. i thought i could combine my two loves and write a fantasy based on a chinese kingdom.” Note: interview is in lower case. Leave a question or comment to enter to win a copy of Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia (Greenwillow, 2009). Source: David Macinnis Gill. Note: I’m especially excited about this book as I’ve longed for more diversity throughout the body of fantasy literature for young readers.

Congratulations to Bethany Hegedus on the release of Between Us Baxters (WestSide, 2009)! Peek: “It’s hard to be a ‘Black Sheep Baxter,’ at least for 12-year-old Polly. From a poor white family, Polly’s best friend, Timbre Ann Biggs, is black, making them the only ‘salt-and-pepper’ friends in town. Her mom keeps secrets, her dad turns to the ‘devil’s drink,’ and her rich, mean Meemaw makes Sunday dinners a chore. But in that fall of 1959, life in quiet Holcolm County starts to heat up. One by one, thriving colored businesses burn to the ground. When someone throws a note wrapped around a brick through the window of Biggs Repair, Polly worries that Timbre Ann will be blinded by the color of her skin and forget they were ever as close as Polly’s mom and Timbre Ann’s Aunt Henri have always been. When a tragic fire brings everything to a head, the spotlight falls on Polly’s family. Sensitively painting a vivid portrait of the Jim Crow South, Polly’s inspiring story captures the defiant spirit of youth in an oppressive small town, just as the seeds of the Civil Rights Movement begin to sprout.”

Virtual Author Visits: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, & the Awesome from Kate Messner at Kate’s Book Blog. Peek: “Talk to your students about etiquette for a virtual author visit. In many ways, it’s just like having a guest speaker in your auditorium or classroom in person, and kids need to know that all the same rules about courteous behavior apply. It will also be important for them to know that technical issues are a possibility and that their quiet cooperation will help you get things fixed more quickly.” Note: I predict more virtual visits in tough-budget, higher-tech times and especially recommend them to authors who must limit travel due to health, childcare, day job, or other considerations.

Site-Blog Notes

If you’re announcing a contest that will take place between Fridays (AKA so that I probably won’t have a chance to highlight it), please feel free to send an email/message with a short announcement paragraph, including applicable dates, the week in advance.

Cynsations Friday round-ups have become quite lengthy. However, I’ve also heard from many people, that they settle in here every Friday morning to catch up with the kidlitoshere. For those on LJ, MySpace, and Facebook, what are your thoughts? Stay long, or break up the round-ups to a couple of times a week?

On average, the site and blog attract approximately three requests a day, every day, for book donations. See the FAQ for policy information.

More Personally

Special thanks to Anita Shinall and Kelly Czarnecki for their hospitality at the Teen Grid on Second Life on Tuesday! The above avatar was designed for me, though, just for fun, I did pick red hair in honor of Quincie from Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008).

Highlights of the past week included also author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell‘s talk on school visits at the Austin SCBWI monthly meeting at BookPeople. Mark is a smart, funny, conversational and comfortable speaker. He made excellent points on a variety of related topics, some frequently touched upon, others less so.

I made particular note of his caution that “you’re physically vulnerable on the road.” He reminded us not to skip a “good breakfast” and urged us to travel safely. Mark pointed out that this is especially important because we’re often fatigued on the road and, worse, don’t even really know where we’re going. He reminded us to pick a hotel that has deadbolt locks, not to leave our laptops in the car, to be aware of our surroundings. He recommended never leaving out your purse or wallet and to insisted upon/choose lodging wherein your room door doesn’t open to a parking lot.

See Mark’s blog, How to Be a Children’s Book Illustrator. Read a Cynsations interview with Mark. Here’s a peek at Mark (below), speaking to the crowd.

Afterward, a group of us met up for lunch at Waterloo Ice House (across Lamar from the store). Going counterclockwise from the head of the table are Carmen Oliver (back of her blond curls), April Lurie, Brian Yansky, Alison Dellenbaugh, Greg Leitich Smith, Frances Hill, Shana Burg, just a glimpse at the back of Brian Anderson‘s head and mine, Jennifer Ziegler, and Julie Lake‘s husband Gary. Photo by Donna Bowman Bratton. (See Donna’s report.) Not at all visible in the picture is Julie herself, Mark, and Debbie Gonzales.

This week I’ve also had the pleasure of visiting with Prof. Wally Hastings class, “The Voice of the Author,” at Rutgers–The State University of New Jersey via the university message board system! Thank you to Dr. Hastings and his students for their hospitality and thoughtful questions. What a wonderful conversation! Note: also visiting: Chris Crutcher, Patricia Reilly Giff, and Julius Lester.

Look for my article “Work, e-Chat, Love” on page 179 in the March/April 2009 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Read a Cynsations interview with editor Roger Sutton on The Horn Book.

Author Suzanne Crowley sends in this shot (below) of Eternal at the Barnes & Noble in Southlake, Texas. Read a Cynsations interview with Suzanne.

Cynthia Leitich Smith was interviewed about Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) via Native America Calling on Feb. 25. Eternal is the February Book of the Month at NAC! Note: The show goes out to 500,000 listeners. Thank you to Candlewick Press for donating ten giveaway copies!
Eternal: Quick Fire Interview from Debbi Michiko Florence at One Writer’s Journey.

Miranda from Eternal is a lot like Carrie Jones. Read a Cynsations interview with Carrie.

Reminder: Author Interview and Book Giveaway with Cynthia Leitich Smith from Beth Revis at writing it out. Peek: “My original concept was elf-vampire, not angel-vampire; that came at the suggestion of my editor, but I loved it and started over again.” Note: Beth is giving away a copy of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) or Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). Deadline: Feb. 28. See details.

Reminder: Enter to Win One of Five Copies of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) from Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central. Here’s the giveaway question: “If you had a guardian angel (and maybe you do!), what would his or her name be, and what would they be like?” Contest begins Feb. 1 and ends Feb. 28. See additional details. Note: Thanks to Candlewick Press and Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central!

Reminder: Interview: Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Eternal, Tantalize (Win stuff!) from Boy with Books. Comment between now and March 7 to enter to win a copy of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) or Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002)!

More Cynsational Events

Cynthia will be speaking on “Writing and Illustrating Native American Children’s Literature” (with S. D. Nelson) and “Monsters and Magic: Writing Gothic Fantasy Novels for Teenagers” on March 15 at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Cynthia will sign Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) at 3 p.m. April 2 at Candlewick Booth at the annual conference of the Texas Library Association in Houston.

Authors Kathi Appelt and Cynthia Leitich Smith invite you to join them at 1 p.m. April 11 at BookPeople (Sixth and Lamar) in Austin. They will be celebrating the success of Kathi’s The Underneath (Atheneum, 2008), which was a National Book Award Finalist and newly crowned ALA Newbery Honor Book, and the release of Cynthia’s Eternal (Candlewick, 2009). The event will include very brief readings, entertaining commentary, and a signing by both authors. Please help spread the word! Let me know if you can make it! Hope to see y’all there! Read a Cynsations interview with Kathi.

Cynthia and Greg will visit the Barbara Bush Branch Library in Spring, Texas; at 4 p.m. April 3. Note: Spring is outside of Houston.

Cynthia will visit the YA book club at the Cedar Park (Texas) Public Library at 11 a.m. May 30. Note: Cedar Park is outside of Austin.

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith from Boy with Books; Eternal and Indian Shoes Giveaways

Interview: Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Eternal, Tantalize (Win stuff!) from Boy with Books.

“Part of what I loved about Zachary was his interactions with fellow guardian angel and best pal, Joshua. For much of the world, Josh is Zachary’s main connection to ‘upstairs,’ and there’s a range to their exchanges–sometimes serious, sometimes humorous, often offering a glimpse into heaven itself.”

Read the whole interview. Comment between now and March 7 to enter to win a copy of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) or Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002)!

Cynsational Notes gives Eternal 5/5 for Quality and 4/5 for Popularity. He writes: “Eternal is a definite page-turner with Vampires, Angels, Werebeasts, romance, intrigue, double-crossing, action, and suspense. Just read it already!” Read the whole review.

Author Interview: Kathy Whitehead on Art from Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter

Kathy Whitehead has taught at the elementary level and holds an M. Ed. in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University. Her classroom experience has given her a front row seat to the joy and wonder that literature brings to children. She lives in College Station, Texas; with her husband Bill. They have two children–Jeff and Stephanie.

What were you like as a young reader? Who were your favorite authors? What were your favorite books?

I read all the time as a kid. Trips to the library were a weekly event. I must admit to occasionally reading just a few more pages under the bed with a flashlight after bedtime.

Memories of favorite books include the feeling of being mesmerized by the works of Dr. Seuss and the emotional tug at the heart that Louisa May Alcott wrenched from me through the pages of her books.

What first inspired you to write for children?

I taught fourth grade and reading to my students led to my desire to write for kids.

My writing journey didn’t begin though until I stayed home with my own children. Ideas began forming, and I wrote whenever I had the chance.

Could you tell us about your path to publication–any sprints or stumbles along the way?

Middle grade mysteries were always a favorite of mine, so that’s where I started. I concentrated on the structure of the novel, which led me to read many books about novel writing.

With my concentration on middle grade novels, it may seem odd that the two books that I have published are picture books. I didn’t try writing picture books for a very long time, even though I kept filing away ideas for them. I didn’t feel like I had time to concentrate on different format.

When I finally felt like branching out to picture books, I discovered that the time I’d spent studying the structure of a novel was time well spent. I realized that the picture book was merely a condensed version of the novel, told through a concentrated selection of words and pictures.

Looking back, what was the single best decision you made in terms of advancing your craft as a writer?

Shortly before my journey into writing picture books, I became a part of a new critique group. Janet Fox, Shirley Hoskins, and I began meeting weekly, which was helpful for several reasons.

I consistently worked on a daily basis, so weekly meetings fit my time format. My critique group not only was helpful to my writing progress, but provided the added bonus of observing the writing process of others, which accelerated my learning process.

Watching someone’s manuscript take shape while helping them revise it, provides the critique partner an additional learning situation. And their support of my work through every step of the process has been immeasurable to me.

We last spoke in September 2005 on Looking For Uncle Louie On The Fourth Of July, illustrated by Pablo Torrecilla (Boyds Mills, 2005). Do you have any updates on that book?

My picture book Looking for Uncle Louie on the Fourth of July has made the Fourth of July feel very special to me–almost like my own birthday. It has been great to be able to share the joy of this holiday and discuss the reason for the celebration of this day with kids. And I enjoy seeing kids’ eyes light up when they see the lowriders–kind of like a transformer come to life!

Congratulations on the release of Art from Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter, illustrated by Shane W. Evans (Putnam, 2008)! Could you tell us a little about the book?

Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter is a picture book biography. It shares the inspiring story of Clementine Hunter’s life and her wonderful “primitive” artwork.

Clementine was an African-American “primitive” artist who didn’t start painting until the age of fifty. She did field labor in her early years on Melrose Plantation in Louisiana.

When she started painting, she did it after putting in a full day’s work doing household chores on the plantation, which at that point was a haven for well-known writers and artists to create their craft. Clementine started displaying her work on a clothesline and later in life had her work displayed in museums.

What was your initial inspiration for the story?

I visited Melrose Plantation about fifteen years ago. It had become a museum by then, and I learned about Clementine’s life story there.

I thought children would really enjoy her art and learning about the struggles which she overcame.

A few years later, I returned to Melrose, hoping to gain some inspiration for another attempt at the manuscript. I returned home and spent a lot of time sifting through the information about her but with no luck. Several years later, I decided to try again. The approach of how to tell her story finally occurred to me after much review of the information on her life and art.

What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?

A few months after writing my manuscript, I attended a Houston – SCBWI conference where my [future] editor, Susan Kochan, was a speaker. I submitted my manuscript to her after the conference. She suggested some revisions to the manuscript, which I followed up on, and months later, she offered me a contract.

We still needed images of Clementine’s artwork to truly tell her story and finding images for a nonfiction book is the author’s duty. I was very fortunate to have some very nice folks put me in touch with Tom Whitehead and the Ann and Jack Brittain family who shared images from their Clementine Hunter collections. This made the book complete.

What did Shane Evans’s art bring to your text?

Shane Evans’s art deepens the emotional content of Clementine’s story and brings a wonderful energy to it. His art meshes beautifully with Clementine’s paintings in color and style.

How do you balance being a writer with the demands of being an author (contracts, promotion, etc.)?

Balancing my creative writing work with the business demands of being an author is never easy. I enjoy both aspects of the writing life, but prioritizing is a necessity. I try to channel my energy into a meaningful use of my time.

Editor Update: Stacy Whitman

We last spoke in June 2006 about your work as an editor for Mirrorstone Books (an imprint of Wizards of the Coast). What is new in your editorial life since then?

Sadly, a few months ago, I was laid off from Mirrorstone, along with several other Wizards employees from various departments. It all came about in relation to a change in focus for all the company’s lines, including books. All newly acquired books, including Mirrorstone books, will now be related to the Dungeons and Dragons brand or other “core brands” like Magic: The Gathering.

For Mirrorstone, that meant that we kept our Practical Guide series, including the Practical Guide to Monsters, which I edited, as well as my Dragon Codex series that started with Red Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham (Mirrorstone, 2008) and R.A. and Geno Salvatore‘s The Stowaway (Mirrorstone, 2008).

After last fall season, books like the exciting Hallowmere series ceased publication because they do not tie in to any core brand.

For me, editorially, the layoff opened a few doors. I am currently freelancing for several publishers and am seeking to expand that. I copyedit, proofread, line edit, and do developmental editing for a number of publishers, and in addition I am looking for books to acquire for Tor’s children’s and YA lines as a freelance consulting editor. At the time of this interview, I’m still looking for the right first book.

To simplify matters for right now, I’m only open to agented submissions and authors with whom I’ve worked before, including those who have sent me full manuscripts by my request when I was at Mirrorstone.

I also do critiques for individual authors.

What new books that you edited have been released, and what’s special about them?

My two main series are the Dragon Codex books and the Hallowmere books. Both are ongoing series full of adventure and magic. The Codex books are written for a middle-grade audience, but I recommend them for readers of all ages, especially readers who grew up with the Dragonlance books.

Hallowmere is a series for teen readers who love dark fantasy and historical fiction. Both series are great for reluctant readers and avid readers alike, which is what I love most about fantasy–how it hooks readers of all types. And me, of course!

[See the book teaser for the first Hallowmere novel, In the Serpents Coils by Tiffany Trent (Mirrorstone, 2007)(author interview)]

The newest of the Dragon Codex books are Bronze Dragon Codex (Mirrorstone, 2008), Black Dragon Codex (Mirrorstone, 2008), and Brass Dragon Codex (Mirrorstone, 2009). They tie in to the Practical Guide to Dragons, and it was fun reinventing an existing shared world while staying true to the spirit of it. The authors who assisted R.D. Henham with these books are Amie Rose Rotruck , Ree Soesbee, and Rebecca Shelley, respectively. Rebecca Shelley is the author who assisted in the first book of the series, Red Dragon Codex.

Queen of the Masquerade by Tiffany Trent and Amanda M. Jenkins and Oracle of the Morrigan by Tiffany Trent and Paul Crilley are the two most recent installments in the Hallowmere series created by Tiffany Trent.

This is the first series I ever acquired, and it’s dear to my heart—Tiffany and her co-authors have created an expressive, adventurous series peopled by strong, active girl characters in a time when young girls were expected to be seen and not heard, while still staying true to the historical time period.

What new books are forthcoming?

With the changes at Mirrorstone, Hallowmere’s last volume was Oracle of the Morrigan, which I think is a good place to end it (though of course not ideal!) because we get to see how the Unhallowed Fey began. Tiffany Trent has a few inventive books in the works, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more from her soon.

But the Codex books continue on, and I’m just as excited about the next two volumes in the series as I am about the books that have already released.

Then in June 2009, the last Dragon Codex I acquired and had a hand in editing, Green Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham with Clint Johnson’s assistance, will be released.

I also worked on several books that won’t be published by Mirrorstone due to the changes, but I hope to see them out in print soon. One is already contracted by another publisher, and I hope to be able to say the same about all of them. I want kids and teens to be able to read these books. And who knows, maybe I’ll get to work with those authors again myself!

What’s new at Mirrorstone? What do you want writers in particular to know about the current status of the imprint?

Mirrorstone is in the capable hands it’s always been in—those of Nina Hess, my senior editor. Nina is an amazing editor, and she’s been at the editorial helm this whole time, mentoring me and building Mirrorstone with her vision.

Along with the books I already mentioned, they had a strong fall 2008 lineup with Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley (Mirrorstone, 2008)(author interview) and The Stowaway.

With the streamlining, the books coming in the future will be just as excellent as the acclaimed and best-selling adventurous fantasies for children and young adults they’ve been publishing.

Everyone should, of course, continue to watch Mirrorstone’s website as new books are announced, and if you’re a writer, keep in mind the new submission guidelines.

They’re still looking for great writers for the shared-world series, for which there are all sorts of possibilities. D&D is a very open-ended fantasy setting and they’re not looking necessarily for writers with experience playing the game. As always, great fantasy writing is the main requirement.

Writing in a shared world can be a great way for new authors to get experience working with an editor and to get their names out there.

What’s new in terms of your own career direction?

Well, I have moved to Utah, where I have a number of friends from college who are writers. In particular, Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells, among many others, have been very supportive in helping me to transition—not least of which by carrying heavy objects for me when I moved, which ended up being twice in a very short while due to an apartment flood when I first moved in!

At Kindling Words, I participated in the editor track and got a lot of excellent advice from a number of editors who are at different stages of their careers. It was a wonderful experience and gave me a lot of new ideas that I’m implementing. For example, I hope to teach several classes in my local community on writing for children and young adults, specifically focusing on genre writing such as fantasy and science fiction.

I currently freelance for several publishers and am looking for more work, especially in children’s and young adult genre fiction, including (but not limited to) fantasy and science fiction.

I have experience with all sorts of publishing (educational, newspaper, trade magazine—after all, my first job after college was with Electrical Apparatus magazine: industrial electrical motors), so to pay the bills I’m willing to branch out. But of course my main love stays with the children’s book industry.

Hopefully, I’ll find the right book for Tor, and it will grow from there, but perhaps the right in-house position will come along as well, and then I’ll have some choices to make! And I am working on my own writing too.

Are you working with publishers, writers, etc.?

I work with a number of publishers on various projects from small pamphlets to full books. I prefer to focus on developmental editing, but I am a detail-oriented copyeditor and proofreader as well. I continue to copyedit for Mirrorstone/Wizards, and I’ve worked with Marshall Cavendish, Covenant Communications, and a few other publishers. Like I said above, I have just begun a relationship with Tor as a freelancer and hope that it will grow.

Also mentioned above, I do critiques for individual authors. I feel I can be of most help to those who are in the submitting stage, and who perhaps might even have gotten one or two rejections and feel they need an experienced editorial eye to help them take their manuscript to the next level.

I have two services: a short critique of the first three chapters and cover/query letter giving an editor’s perspective on the first impression, or a critique of the full manuscript, which would include a full editorial letter and a full edit of the manuscript itself. More information on that can be found on my site along with recommendations from authors I’ve worked with in the past.

I love to help authors find solutions through coaching, careful questioning, and suggesting solutions. That’s what I loved about working at Mirrorstone—working with new authors is thrilling, because they love to hear what an editor has to say and welcome their unique position in the creative process.

I’m also glad to consult with less-experienced writers and give them advice on their projects, though I hope that they have finished their manuscript first because that would be the time an editor’s help is most useful.

How can people find out more about your services?

I’m still working on getting a full website up and running, but for now they can refer to my LiveJournal, where I have posted a listing of my critique services, including pricing and recommendations.

My submission guidelines for consideration for Tor are simple: agents or authors who have worked with me in the past may email me at stacylwhitman AT with the cover letter, synopsis, and first three chapters, and I will get in touch if I want to read more.

I have gone green both for the simplicity of submissions and because as a freelancer, I can’t guarantee my physical address will remain the same long-term.

And of course, any publishers who are interested in working with me can contact me via email (stacylwhitman AT and we can discuss details.

How goes your own writing?

Very well, actually! I am one of those editors who likes to write, but feels more at home on the editorial side of the desk. When I’m editing full time, that’s where my creative energy goes, and that makes me a very good editor—but it leaves little time for my own writing.

Currently I have had a little more time than normal to work on my own YA fantasy novel, which has been a great experience both in learning the craft from the other side, and to discuss with other writers how they accomplish certain effects. Even with my own writing, I’m always finding new ways to communicate with my authors, too.

I’ve found that keeping in touch with a community of writers is essential to my writing process. I joined a friend’s writing group, which of course gives me weekly deadlines.

Also, I participated in jonowrimo, which you may know was started by Lessons from a Dead Girl author Jo Knowles (Candlewick, 2007)(author interview) to get a head start on Nanowrimo and doesn’t require that we start a new project.

It’s a great way for writers to encourage each other on their writing goals, whether it’s to finish a complete first draft (me) or a revision goal. Once again, I didn’t finish a first draft during JoNoWriMo, which was my goal, but it was great to have the encouragement to work toward that goal.

Looking back, what has the last couple of years taught you?

I feel like the girl in the movie who says, “How much time do you have?” Because I’ve learned so much, and much of it is hard to quantify.

I’ve learned how to be a better editor from all my amazing coworkers, especially from Nina Hess and Phil Athans and Peter Archer.

I’ve learned to be a better negotiator and that negotiating with agents and authors isn’t really all that scary. We’re all on the same team and want the best for the book.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to become a better communicator in all facets of the job. Nina taught me how to phrase my critiques and suggestions so that they communicate more precisely with each author’s individual personality—which allows us to understand each other better off the page as well as on.

Going to conferences to talk to teachers, librarians, and writers about Mirrorstone’s books was as exciting for the chance to talk about all books with wonderful people as it was to help them know all about Mirrorstone’s books specifically—but it was doubly exciting to return to a show a year later and have people recognize our books and remember how much they loved reading one, or how much a child they knew loved them.

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Getting kids to read great books and to grow in their love of reading is the goal of all of us in children’s literature.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just that this isn’t the last you’ll hear from me! I’m not sure exactly what my next permanent step will be, but I have plenty of options and I’ve been having a good time exploring them.

In the meantime, I look forward to working with a variety of individuals and companies to make good books even better.

Morganville Vampire Series Giveaway

Morganville Vampire Series Giveaway from Karen Mahoney: writing, life & soul. Peek: “One lucky winner could own all five books (so far) in Rachel Caine‘s fabulous YA Morganville Vampires series.” Deadline: end of the day (anywhere) Wednesday, Feb. 25. See details.

Read a Cynsations interview with Rachel. Peek: “Morganville is a planned vampire community, and there’s loads we–and the main characters–don’t know about the town, but find out as we move alone. That’s the fun of it.”

Cynsational Notes

Check back this Friday for more news and giveaways from around the Web and Cynsations.

Author Interview: Lee Bennett Hopkins on America at War

Lee Bennett Hopkins has written and edited numerous award-winning books for children and young adults, as well as professional texts and curriculum materials. He has taught elementary school and served as a consultant to school systems throughout the country.

Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Hopkins graduated Kean University, Bank Street College of Education, and holds a Professional Diploma in Educational Supervision and Administration from Hunter College. In 1980, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Kean University.

In 1989, he received the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature” in recognition of his work; 2009 brought him the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children recognizing his aggregate body of work.

Among his original collections are Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life (Boyds Mills Press, 1995), an autobiographical book of poetry that received the prestigious Christopher Medal and a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Golden Kite Honor Award, Alphathoughts: Alphabet Poems (Boyds Mills, 2003), and City I Love (Abrams, 2009), illustrated by jazz musician, Marcellus Hall.

His creativity is the result of his passion for poetry and his unflagging belief that poetry is a necessity for children, at home and in the classroom.

His award-winning series of American History through poetry for children and young adults include Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry, illustrated by Peter Fiore (1994), My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States (2000), and America At War (2008), both illustrated by Stephen Alcorn (all Simon & Schuster/McElderry Books).

At the heart of all his writing is the dedication in bringing children and books together. “You must teach children to love books,” he insists.

Congratulations on being named the 2009 NCTE Poetry Award Winner! What did you think when you’d heard that you received this award?

This award means a great deal to me.I have been involved with NCTE since the late 1960’s During the 1970’s when served on the Board of Directors the Award was established by Bee Cullinan in honor of her son who was killed in an automobile accident.

I chaired the second award given to Aileen Fisher (1978) and the 9th award that went to Valerie Worth (1991). In addition, I have known all 14 past recipients, many of them who are (or were) dear friends. Poets such as David McCord, Aileen Fisher, Myra Cohn Livingston, Eve Merriam, and Lilian Moore were by poetry buddies!

Congratulations on the success of America at War, illustrated by Stephen Alcorn (Simon & Schuster, 2008)! Could you tell us a little about the book?

America at War took about four years to compile. I knew from the start I wanted Stephen to illustrate the volume, our fifth collaboration. In addition to celebrated poets (Whitman, Sandburg, Crane, et. al. ), I wanted to include as many new poems by contemporary poets as possible. The volume contains over thirty works especially commissioned for the collection.

The thrust of the book is spelled out in the introduction when I state: “America at War is not about war. It is about the poetry of war.”

The poems that are truly heartbreaking are those that deal with the devastation war has on those who must endure consequences. A poem like “Graveyard” by Rebecca Kai Dotlich stands out strongly in my mind and heart since it was written from her heart. It is a true picture of her beloved brother who committed suicide due to the stress of war.

And my own “Once More” (for C.J.E.) is a true tale of a young soldier being alone on Christmas Eve, hoping someone might invite him for a family Christmas dinner. The picture of a young man, a young soldier…alone…on Christmas Eve…is heartfelt.

What advice do you have for those interested in writing poetry for young readers?

My advice to writers who want to write poetry is to study the past. Look at the NCTE Poetry Award winners’ work. Study it. These are among the giants in the field of poetry. They epitomize the brilliance of wordplay–the genius of light verse in the hands of masters like David McCord and X. J. Kennedy, the passionate works by Eve Merriam, Myra Cohn Livingston, and Nikki Grimes. The craft of Valerie Worth, etc.

If you could change one aspect of publishing, what would it be?

It would be to have more editors who know the craft of poetry…who would be willing to take chances with new poets, to get away from the hangup that exists that every book should be thematic.

A book of poetry should be a book of poetry…about many different topics…about what the poet must say…feel…hear inside one’s self.

You’ve had a distinguished career. What memories would you like to share with us?

In my early career (and since) I have interviewed over two-hundred authors and illustrators. Memories abound. How could they not?

Not too many can tell about long conversations with giants as Dr. Seuss, P. L. Travers, Berta and Elma Hader, Maurice Sendak, Ezra Jack Keats as well as personal moments with good friends, Paula Danziger, Karla Kuskin, Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff, Avi, Hilary Knight…to mention a wee few.

My life has been blessed.

Looking back, I cannot believe I have created more anthologies for children and young adults than anyone else in the history of children’s literature. I have also done novels, picture books, a host of professional books, and oodles of articles for professional journals.

What can your fans look forward to next?

This spring, I have three new works being published: Sky Magic, illustrated by Mariusz Stawarski (Dutton), Incredible Inventions, illustrated by newcomer Julia Sarcone-Roach (Greenwillow), and City I Love, illustrated by jazz-musician Marcellus Hall (Abrams).

City I Love is quite exciting in that it is the first book of my own poetry to appear in quite a long time.

On the horizon is Sharing the Seasons (McElderry Books, 2010), illustrated by David Diaz, a huge collection bringing seasons to a new view like never before.

David has created an entirely new palette for this collection. His art is mind-boggling. Not only is David a marvelous artist, he is a dear friend. Even before he won the Caldecott Award, we have always wanted to do a book together. We’ve come full circle with…Seasons.

In addition, I have at least six new projects finished and in production.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I always have, and always will continue to pass the poetry. I ask that all adults pass it along to our youth, too. Please?

Happy Poetry-ing.

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win an advanced reader copy of City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (McElderry Books, March 24, 2009). From the promotional copy:

To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters — never mind that enter-ing the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City — whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the final installment of the New York Times bestselling trilogy The Mortal Instruments.

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “City of Glass” in the subject line. Deadline March 2! All Cynsational readers are eligible to win! Read a Cynsations interview with Cassandra Clare.

Author Interview and Book Giveaway with Cynthia Leitich Smith from Beth Revis at writing it out. Peek: “My original concept was elf-vampire, not angel-vampire; that came at the suggestion of my editor, but I loved it and started over again.” Note: Beth is giving away a copy of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) or Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). Deadline: Feb. 28. See details.

More News

Check out this book trailer for The Great Call of China by Cynthea Liu (Puffin, 2009). Read a Cynsations interview with Cynthea.

Congratulations to Linda Joy Singleton on the release of Dead Girl Dancing (Flux, Feb. 2009)! Read a Cynsations interview with Linda Joy.

The 2009 Cybils Winners from The Cybils 2008: Children’s & Young Adult Blogger Awards.

Three Across: The Great Transatlantic Air Race of 1927 by Norman H. Finkelstein (Calkins Creek/Boyd’s Mills 2008): a recommendation from Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: “…a gripping and suspenseful account of the epic quest…”

The Writer’s Studio: Greg Leitich Smith from Tony Abbott’s Book Blog. Peek: “That room has a queen-sized bed and a restored arts-and-crafts schoolhouse desk that’s only large enough to hold the laptop and a small legal pad, which can be awkward when you have four cats who don’t respect the sanctity of the keyboard.”

Keep School Librarians in Schools from the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance. Peek: “In times of economic crisis school and local libraries are needed more than ever and are usually the first casualties of local, state, and federal budget cuts.”

Interview: Jenny Moss, author of Winnie’s War from Welcome to the Oakenwyld: This world of ours, and worlds unseen / and thin the boundary between. Peek: “In March 2005, I wrote Winnie’s first words: Her grave was well-tended because I tended it. That sentence didn’t make into the final manuscript, but it did help me establish Winnie’s voice.”

“Funky Nonfiction” with Fiona Bayrock: a chat from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “Outrageous curiosity is great thing to have. I have no experience in the fields about which I write, either, but the curiosity and the accompanying need to share what I find interesting drives my writing, and I always have my work reviewed by experts in the field to make sure I haven’t missed something only someone immersed in the topic would know.”

Blogging for Beginners from Pub Rants. Peek: “I would love it if everyone would post a friendly piece of general advice for novice bloggers in the comments section of this post. Then, I’ll use the advice (with your blog address attached of course) during my presentation.”

Congratulations to VCFA student Clete Smith on the sale of film rights for his YA novel “Grandma’s Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast) to Disney! Source: Publishers Weekly.

Marvelous Marketer: Shrinking Violet Promotions (Robin LaFevers) from Shelli at Market My Words: Marketing Advice for Authors/Illustrators from a Marketing Consultant & Aspiring Children’s Book Author. Peek: “So while it sounds kind of trite to say ‘write an amazing book,’ there is a whole heap of truth in there. Take an extra year, a few more workshops, really wrestle with the craft and voice until it shines.”

Interview: Author Harry Mazer on Sally Lincoln by Mitch Wertlieb from Vermont Public Radio in Montpelier. Peek: “Mazer’s latest book is called My Brother Abe (Simon & Schuster, 2009) and takes a look at Lincoln’s life through the eyes of his only sibling, his older sister Sarah, better known as Sally. The novel is told from Sally’s point of view, and focuses on the early life of the young Lincolns growing up in Kentucky, and later Indiana.” Read a Cynsations interview with Harry.

Would you like a larger audience for your children’s-YA writing or literature blog? Register it at JacketFlap! Read a Cynsations interview with CEO Tracy Grand on JacketFlap.

Why We’re Optimistic. And Why You Should Be Too. from CBI Clubhouse: The Community for Success-Oriented Children’s Book Writers. Peek: “This optimism is not based on hopes, or wishes or fantasy. We have real reasons to tell you not to waver and to have a positive outlook moving ahead. Here they are…” Source: Cheryl Rainfield.

Richard Curtis on Publishing in the 21st Century: The Ten Commandments of Courtesy Part 1 and Part 2 from E-Reads. Peek: “In publishing, the rules governing behavior are codified into a system of protocol and etiquette called ‘courtesy.’ Courtesy is not always easy to define because editors, authors, and agents each have their own code and the three don’t always harmonize.” Source: Nathan Bransford.

Fragile Eternity Review and ARC Giveaway from Giveaway deadline: Feb. 28. Read a Cynsations interview with author Melissa Marr.

Children’s Book Press from La Bloga. Peek: “Our 33 year-old-non-profit independent Press has been side swiped by the tough economic storm that we are all experiencing. It is serious, but I am not one to freeze in the road. Instead, in the spirit of our new national leadership, I am asking for your help so that we can make sure our work will continue on behalf of kids and families here and abroad.” Read an interview with editor Dana Goldberg of Children’s Book Press.

Congratulations to Anne Bustard on the launch of her newly redesigned author website! Anne is the author of Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly (Simon & Schuster) and T Is for Texas (Voyageur). She also offers a tremendous blog, Anneographies, on picture book biographies–featured on the subjects’ birthdays. The blog also has been redesigned! See an article by web designer Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys on both redesign projects! Note: Anneographies is highly recommended, especially to teachers, school libraries, and writers studying biographies.

Congratulations to VCFA student Jess Leader on the sale of her middle-grade novel, Nice and Mean, to Simon and Schuster’s Aladdin MIX! The release is slated for summer 2010.

Congratulations to Suzanne Selfors on the release of Fortune’s Magic Farm, illustrated by Catia Chien (Little Brown, 2009)! Kirkus Reviews calls it “droll” and says, “…newly confident readers will cozy up to the tale’s quirky characters and enjoy the many twists and turns of this magical adventure.” Read a Cynsations interview with Suzanne.

Writing Nonfiction for Children: a site for writers and readers who have an interest in children’s books, especially nonfiction. We’ll talk about how to write, how to research, and great books and writers out there. Peek from Peggy Thomas: “I am the author of more than 15 books for children and young adults…”

Where the Wild Things Aren’t: Lamenting the predictability of Jewish kids’ lit, a writer takes matters into her own hands by Laurel Snyder from Nextbook: A New Read on Jewish Culture. Peek: “I can envision sweet, silly characters and ridiculous situations—a rabbinic Cat in the Hat. A crazy time-traveling sukkah. Books as wild and wonderful as anything the secular market offers. I can imagine them. Now I have to write them.” Source: Janni Lee Simner.

Bunny Eat Bunny: The diaspora website of Bowen Press. Peek: “Like most readers of literary press blogs, I thought I was Jo. For years. I wrote romances (The Adventures of Charles and Caroline). I used a fountain pen. I was earnest and bookish. I dated men with foreign accents who drank strong coffee and dosed strong medicine to anemic prose. Argumentative and proud with a strong, even crippling, mutinous streak. That’s me.” Source: Mary E. Pearson.

Interview with Kekla Magoon Part 1 and Part 2 from Sarah Sullivan at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Emotionally, I’ve always been intrigued by/enamored with the civil rights movement, even since childhood. But like many young black people, I’ve been steeped in a familiar narrative of that time period that doesn’t leave a lot of room for asking difficult questions of one’s self – like, ‘where would I have stood, in that time and place, if the choice between non-violence and militancy was handed to me?'”

Aussie YA Alliance: “Allie, Lisa and Adele are three voracious YA readers that just happen to be Australian. In an attempt to bolster the status of Australian YA authors in the blogosphere, we have created this shared blog.”

Author-Editor Andrea Pinkney: an article and interview by Don Tate in conjunction with 28 Days Later 2009: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “One of the most refreshing changes I’ve seen in recent years is the blending of genres — the pushing past the hard-and-fast lines of specific publishing categories.” Note: this celebration will continue throughout the month is highly recommended. Multicultural youth literature in particular survives and thrives in large part through word-of-mouth. Here in the kidlitosphere, we can do our part by making some noise. Bloggers, commenters, and friends, please consider showing your support by highlighting this link and/or talking up the initiative.

Get Real! Publishing Myths Exposed! by Penny Sansevieri from Peek: “Review copies are sold, it happens all the time and spending your time chasing used copies isn’t a good use of your promotional efforts.” Note: I never sell review copies. Source: Elizabeth Scott.

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King (Flux, 2009): a recommendation from Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: “Pulling no punches, King takes us from Cromwell’s Ireland to the Spanish Main to contemporary America and Jamaica as Emer/Saffron’s lives — human and dog — unfold in gripping detail.”

Interview with Jo Ann Hernandez, author of The Throwaway Piece from The Dark Phantom Review. Peek: “Once I sent out a story under a man’s name and one magazine wrote me back that as a man, I didn’t have any idea of what women really like to read about themselves. Rejections? Just a Bad Hair Day for someone else.”

Certainty, Uncertainty, Sand, Sphinx from Julie Larios at The Drift Record. Peek: “Where does poetry (much less mystery) fit into standardized curriculum? One of the great joys of being able to come in as a special guest to schools is the permission I have to send kids off into mystery and uncertainty.” Read a Cynsations interview with Julie.

At ALAN in San Antonio, author Laurie Halse Anderson reads from “Listen,” a poem in tribute to the 10-year anniversary of Speak and reader mail it inspired. See also the “Speak Up About Speak” page.

Why Was My Manuscript Rejected? 3 Literary Agents, 3 Opinions

Three New York agents are offering a new workshop for writers and artists who want to be published in the area of children’s books. Their workshop offers feedback, in which they will discuss— among many facets of children’s book publishing— why they think editors or agents rejected your manuscript.

The workshop promises to be lively with three, possibly different, opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of each manuscript.

Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Literary Agency, Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson Associates, and Ann Tobias of Ann Tobias, A Literary Agency for Children’s Books–—all agents specializing in children’s books—will conduct “Why Was My Manuscript Rejected?” from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 26 at 138 West 15th Street, New York City. See schedule.

Authors and author-illustrators of children’s books are invited to send a package (20-page maximum) consisting of a one-page synopsis, the query letter you used in submitting your work to agents and publishers, and either a first chapter or a full picture book manuscript or an illustrated dummy (all genres are welcome) to be read by the agents in advance of the workshop. Besides commenting on your manuscript, the agents will discuss query and cover letters, the markets for different kinds of children’s and young adult books, and offer suggestions on how to submit. For further information, please visit

Eternally Yours

Great news! I heard from my genius editor yesterday that Eternal is in its third printing! Thanks to all for your enthusiasm and support!

The winner of the Eternal bookmark giveaway is Kymberley at the Oneida Community Library in Wisconsin! Your autographed bookmark set will go out on my next trip to the post office.

I’m thrilled to announce that Listening Library/Random House will be producing the audio edition of Eternal for a July 2009 release! I’ve previously worked with LL on the audio adaptations of Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001) and Tantalize (2008) and, in both cases, was absolutely thrilled with the final productions! Listen to a reading from the Tantalize audio by actress Kim Mai Guest. Note: Rain is now available for audio download!

Enter to Win One of Five Copies of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) from Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central. Here’s the giveaway question: “If you had a guardian angel (and maybe you do!), what would his or her name be, and what would they be like?” Contest begins Feb. 1 and ends Feb. 28. See additional details. Note: Thanks to Candlewick Press and Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central!

Authors Kathi Appelt and Cynthia Leitich Smith invite you to join them at 1 p.m. April 11 at BookPeople (Sixth and Lamar) in Austin. They will be celebrating the success of Kathi’s The Underneath (Atheneum, 2008), which was a National Book Award Finalist and newly crowned ALA Newbery Honor Book, and the release of Cynthia’s Eternal (Candlewick, 2009). The event will include very brief readings, entertaining commentary, and a signing by both authors. Please help spread the word! Hope to see y’all there! Read a Cynsations interview with Kathi. Note: Thank you to Donna Bowman Bratton at Simply Donna for blogging about the event!

Book Review: Eternal from Melissa Jauregui at Poised at the Edge. Peek: “Wholly original, and delightfully morbid, fans of Tantalize will eat this one up!”

Review: Eternal from Liviania at In Bed with Books. Peek: “I loved how Eternal expanded on the world of Tantalize. Quincie was an outsider to vampire culture, but Miranda is in the center of things. Eternal isn’t just one person’s struggle with temptation. Miranda can affect the entire vampire society.”

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Reviewed by Hilary Williamson of BookLoons Reviews. Peek: “Like Tantalize, Eternal is darkly entertaining and great fun.”

Meredith Wood says: “I loved Tantalize. I adore Eternal! Talk about upping the stakes. It’s such a good book. ” Note: she also wants to talk to fellow readers about a particular line!

Interview tidbits from ‘Tantalize’ author from BronzeWorld’s Blog. A great compilation of highlights from interviews past.

To those looking for Eternal or Tantalize at their local Barnes & Noble, the end cap display looks like this (below). You can find signed stock of Eternal at Barnes & Noble Arboretum and Barnes & Noble Sunset Valley, both in the Austin area. Note: B & N Aboretum also has one signed copy of Tantalize, but they were sold out at the other store.

Aboretum Store.

Sunset Valley store. I was charmed to see it next to Lisa McMann‘s Fade (Simon Pulse, 2009)(author interview).

While browsing, I snapped a pic of debut author Saundra Mitchell‘s Shadowed Summer (Delacorte, 2009)…

and VCFA grad Micol Ostow‘s GoldenGirl (Simon Pulse, 2009)…

and VCFA grad Carrie Jones‘s Need (Bloomsbury, 2008)…

and readergirlz diva Justina Chen Headley‘s North of Beautiful (Little Brown, 2009).

Thanks to Jess in Kansas who walked four miles round trip to a bookstore that wasn’t carrying the novel (and ordered it)!

Thanks also to Carmen Oliver for blogging the release and to Varian Johnson for blogging his recent book sightings! Read a Cynsations interview with Varian.

More Personally

Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Barry Gott is scheduled for release by Dutton in spring 2011.

Romantic that I am, the highlight of the past week was Valentine’s Day! Greg made us a special dinner–tomato basil soup (from scratch), an iceberg lettuce wedge topped with his own homemade dressing, green onions, walnuts, and Gorgonzola, followed by pan-friend Cajun catfish and brown rice. Note: can you tell that I’m back to writing Quincie? See also my luscious red roses.

Thank you to the librarians of the Austin Public Library for their hospitality at the “Book Exchange” lunch last Friday! It was a huge honor to visit with y’all! Thanks for all you do for young readers! Special thanks to Alison for coordinating my visit! Note: Watch the Music Video and See What Austin Public Library Can Do For You from the APL. It’s one smart, savvy, sexy PSA!

Thank you to Cyndi Hughes at everyone at the Writers’ League of Texas for their hospitality at last night’s First Drafts panel! Thanks especially to everyone from the youth writing community for your enthusiasm and support!

Thank you to Chris Elden and everyone who stopped by Book Roast yesterday to celebrate Eternal! Congratulations also to Dorothy, who won the giveaway!

More Cynsational Events

Due to a technical difficulty, Cynthia’s discussion of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008), Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), and related forthcoming books on the teen grid of Teen Second at Second Life has been rescheduled for 3 p.m. Feb. 24. See more information.

Cynthia will be speaking on “Writing and Illustrating Native American Children’s Literature” (with S. D. Nelson) and “Monsters and Magic: Writing Gothic Fantasy Novels for Teenagers” on March 15 at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Cynthia will sign Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) at 3 p.m. April 2 at Candlewick Booth at the annual conference of the Texas Library Association in Houston.

Cynthia and Greg will visit the Barbara Bush Branch Library in Spring, Texas; at 4 p.m. April 3. Note: Spring is outside of Houston.

Cynthia will visit the YA book club at the Cedar Park (Texas) Public Library at 11 a.m. May 30. Note: Cedar Park is outside of Austin.

Visit with Cynthia Leitich Smith Today at Book Roast; Enter to Win a Copy of Eternal

Visit with me about Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) online today at Book Roast. I’d love to hear your questions and thoughts (post to the comments section). You’ll also have the chance to answer a silly question and win a signed copy of the novel!

Cynsational Notes

Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith will be on a panel about “First Drafts” at the February monthly meeting of the Writers’ League of Texas at 7:30 p.m. today at the League office in Austin (611 S. Congress Avenue). Peek: “Sometimes getting that first draft down is the biggest hurdle to bringing a great idea to literary life. Find out how several authors approach the first draft.” Note: “Before the program, join us at Doc’s Motorworks Bar & Grill, 1123 S. Congress (two blocks south of the WLT office for a ‘Mix and Mingle Happy Hour.'”