Guest Blogger: Author Kathleen Duey on Her Twitter Novel: Russet

by Kathleen Duey

Writing a Twitter novel has given me back an artistic jolt I had almost forgotten: Raw Fear.

At a conference, I heard myself giving advice that I hadn’t followed in a long time.

I wasn’t experimenting with anything that scared me to death anymore.

That night, I inventoried the unbooked characters in my skull and noticed Russet.

I knew he was running from something, that he was scared, and that I was drawn to him. That was all.

I thought about giving him a word-file journal, channeling him every morning before I began writing my real projects.

Then I considered doing it publicly, on a blog.

Oh? That made me sit up straighter. But I had so little time—so many other projects already in progress. Blog entries take hours for me. I revise compulsively, like most writers.

That evening, I got an email notification that someone was following me on Twitter.

Following what? I had created an account over a year before, but hadn’t done anything with it. Not a single tweet. It took me all morning to remember the password and log in.

I tweeted a few times, enjoying that tiny-burst 140 letters/spaces/limit, and then it hit me.

A novel. A whole novel in Russet’s voice, written in Twitter’s 140 (or less) character bursts.

In public. Real time. No revision.

And when I thought about all the ways it could blow up in my face I felt almost sick. Bingo, eureka, perfect. I was scared to death.

Still am. But it has been worth it.

I start with Russet every morning: he tweets at, and then I update the full text on his blog. Only then do I go to work.

Scared Scars (A Resurrection of Magic, Book 2) is finished and will be out in August. I am writing the last book of the Resurrection of Magic trilogy.

Next up: a YA collaboration called STAYS, The Faeries Promise books for second-to-third graders, A Virgin’s Blood, then Free Rat.

And I come to that work, wide, wide awake in a way that makes me remember how much I love writing. For itself. For the scary, exposed, amazing joy of it.

Read a Cynsations interview with Kathleen.

Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers’ Conference Fourteenth Annual Event to Feature Kathi Appelt and An Na

The Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers’ Conference Fourteenth Annual Event will be held from Aug. 11 to Aug. 17.

Vermont College of Fine Arts, home of the nationally acclaimed MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program, has since 1996 offered a summer conference dedicated to advanced writers seeking to recharge, reconnect, and nourish their creative development.

The award-winning YA faculty for summer 2009 are Newbery Honor author and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt and Printz Winner and National Book Award Finalist An Na.

Kathi Appelt is the author of more than thirty books for children and young adults.

My Father’s Summers (Henry Holt, 2004) won the Paterson Poetry Prize for Young Adult Literature and was selected as a NYPL Book for the Teen Age as well as an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. In addition, it was a finalist for the PEN USA Award for Children’s Literature.

Kathi’s first novel, The Underneath, was recently named a finalist for The National Book Award and an ALA Newbery Honor Book. She is on the faculty of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She and her husband Ken live in College Station, Texas.

An Na was born in Korea and grew up in San Diego. Her first novel, A Step From Heaven (Front Street, 2001), was a National Book Award Finalist and received the Michael L. Printz Award and the 2002 Children’s Book Award in Young Adult Fiction from the International Reading Association. It was also named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

Wait For Me (Putnam, 2006) was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and Junior Library Guild Selection. Her third novel, The Fold (Putnam), was released in spring 2008.

An Na is a graduate of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program at VCFA and teaches in The Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program of Pine Manor College.

The Postgraduate Conference is open to all experienced writers, with graduate degrees or equivalent backgrounds.

Process and craft are emphasized through a unique structure based on intimate workshops limited to five-seven participants, which include individual consultations with faculty, readings by faculty and participants, issues forums and master classes—all in a lively, supportive community of writers who share meals, ideas, and social activities in scenic Vermont.

The historic campus of Vermont College of Fine Arts is host to the annual gathering. Along with the rich menu of conference events, participants will enjoy the amenities of downtown Montpelier—the nation’s smallest and arguably most charming state capitol—just a few minutes’ walk from the college, as well as the beauty and recreational opportunities of the surrounding countryside.

Cynsational Notes

Additional faculty will be teaching writing for adults in the novel, short story, creative nonfiction, poetry, and poetry manuscript.

Contact Ellen Lesser, conference director, with any questions.

ASPCA® Announces 2008 Henry Bergh Children’s-YA Book Award Winners

Houghton Mifflin to Receive
ASPCARoger Caras Achievement Award
at 2009 American Library Association Conference

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) has announced the winners of the 2008 ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Awards.

Named in honor of ASPCA founder Henry Bergh, the annual awards recognize books based on their exemplary handling of subject matter pertaining to animals and the environment. The winning authors will be honored at a ceremony at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago on July 13.

Houghton Mifflin will also be awarded the 2008 Roger Caras Achievement Award for children’s literature at the upcoming awards. Named in honor of past ASPCA President Roger Caras, the award honors an outstanding individual or organization that has inspired children and made a contribution to the animal community through literature, actions or other means.

“Nothing is more essential to the future of America’s pets than educating our children about animal awareness,” says ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “Through honoring both an outstanding publisher and the works of several distinguished authors, the ASPCA is able to continue its quest to create a more humane nation.”

This year’s nine award winners and honorees covered seven categories.

Winners of the 2008 ASPCA® Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award are:

Non-Fiction Companion Animals Award

Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival
by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery, illustrated by Jean Cassels
Walker & Company

Non-Fiction Companion Animals Honor

by Sarah Whitehead

Non-Fiction Environment and Ecology

by Jim Arnosky
Sterling Publishing

Non-Fiction Humane Heroes

by Pam Kaster
Louisiana State University Press

Fiction Companion Animals Award

by Jeanne Prevost
Gryphon Press

Fiction Companion Animals Honor

by Jan Zita Grover
Gryphon Press

Fiction Environment and Ecology

The Wolves are Back
by Jean Craighead George
Dutton Children’s Books

Fiction Humane Heroes

by Jim Arnosky
G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Young Adult

by Rosa Jordan

To qualify for consideration for the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Awards, the following criteria must be met:

* Books must be written in English;

* Books must be written for an audience of children up to and including the age of 12 (age 17 for the young adult award);

* Books must be works of fiction, non-fiction, or collections of short stories, essays, or poetry, and;

* Books must be published between January and December of the previous year.

Self-published books are eligible, provided that the author/publisher also publishes titles by other authors.

About the ASPCA®

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first humane organization established in the Americas, and today has more than one million supporters throughout North America. A 501 [c] [3] not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.

The ASPCA provides local and national leadership in animal-assisted therapy, animal behavior, animal poison control, anti-cruelty, humane education, legislative services, and shelter outreach. The New York City headquarters houses a full-service, accredited animal hospital, adoption center, and mobile clinic outreach program.

The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York’s animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet. For more information, please visit

Bridget Zinn Auction: Bid for Manuscript Critiques, Promotional Services, Signed Books & More

Bridget Zinn Auction: will take place between now and 12 a.m. PST May 31. Bid to win such exciting items as:

-a 10-page manuscript critique by Newbery honor author Cynthia Lord;

-a 20-page YA or mystery manuscript critique by April Henry;

-a 20-page manuscript critique by YA-middle grade author Amanda Marrone (Winners will have a choice to receive copy of Uninvited, a 2009 ALA Popular Paperback and Quick Pick nominee, Revealers, or an advanced readers copy of Devoured, which is due out in September.);

-a full-length middle-grade manuscript critique by author Jody Feldman (“This critique will include big-picture thoughts and limited line-editing suggestions.”);

– a manuscript critique(s) by author Kate Messner (“two picture books or the first 30 pages of a longer work. She’ll throw in an ARC of The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, too.”);

-a custom promotional audio program directed and produced by Mark Blevis of Just One More Book! (“Do you want to create an audio program to reach your audience? Perhaps you want to release a fun monologue or a short reading from your book on the Internet. Mark will help you create a single 10-minute audio production (podcast or not) including audio engineering and associated creative direction/consultation time.”);

-a podcast by Heidi Estrin from The Book of Life (“The usual focus of the show is Judaica (our home base is a synagogue library in Boca Raton), but…we’ll waive that restriction.”);

-a marketing package from Shelli Johannes-Wells (year to redeem)(“Auction winner receives 2 hours of marketing consultation plus the design and copy on one of the following items: book-marker, business card, or postcard. If you do not need any of these items, you may trade it in for additional marketing consultation on a selling query letter/synopsis.”);

-a “social media” plan by Greg Pincus (“Greg Pincus has ‘social networked’ his way into the New York Times, the Washington Post, and a two book deal. He’s sold poetry from his blog and given seminars based on his experiences. And he’s also made great friends and had a lot of fun in the process!”);

original “Babymouse” art by Matthew Holm (“This piece of art, featuring Babymouse in a Peter Pan fantasy, was created by Babymouse author/illustrator Matthew Holm especially for Bridget’s auction!);

-signed books (like Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta, Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer, The Magic Thief and The Magic Thief: Lost by Sarah Prineas, Babymouse: The Musical by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (and character name! “Have you ever wanted to be named for a character in a book. Now is your opportunity!”) The Battle of the Labrynth (Book Four of the Percy Jackson and The Olympians Series by Rick Riordan (first edition) Don’t Die Dragonfly by Linda Joy Singleton, Sing-Along Song by Joann Early Macken (illustrated by LeUyen Pham), Flip Float Fly: Seeds on the Move by Joann Early Macken (illustrated by Pam Paparone), Far From You by Lisa Schroeder)) Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee);

-a handcrafted blank book by Sarah Stevenson (“This 6 by 9 inch book is bound using a Japanese stab binding technique, specifically the tortoise shell binding. Inside the lotus print cover is 30 pages of Strathmore charcoal paper.”);

-a writer’s goody bag designed by Kim C. Baker (“I sewed a few bits of matching fabric to a Moleskine notebook and threw in some pens. Then I made a little tissue holder, because writers are always weeping tears of joy when they finish a draft, or find the perfect phrase, or sell a manuscript. I imagine. That stuff never happens to me, but if it does- I will need tissue. Writers also need silliness and sustenance, so there are some stickers and Fran’s chocolates.”);

sunflower root doll (“Handcrafted 2 1/2 inch Sunflower Root Child Doll by Farida Dowler. The Sunflower Doll is made out of wool, wool/rayon and cotton, and has embroidered details of stalks, leaves and ladybugs.”);

-a silver “write” bracelet by Laura Ludwig Hamor (“Solid silver with adjustable black leather cord.”);

-a handcrafted baby quilt (“…measuring 32″x38″. This handmade quilt is 100% cotton top and backing with natural cotton batting inside. It is machine pieced and machine quilted with hand sewing on the binding. It is machine washable and very durable.”);

three-night stay in Torrey, Utah (“…a comfortable guest house with queen bed, sitting area, refrigerator, microwave, television(gets only local stations). Borders the National Forest with a stream at the bottom of the hill. Capitol Reef National Park entrance is 7 miles away and the property borders the park. Scenic HWY 12 and Bryce Canyon National Park are close by.”);

-and more to come!

Cynsational Notes

From April Henry:

Three things happened to Bridget in February:

1. She got an agent for her young adult novel.

2. She got married.

3. She found out she had Stage Four colon cancer.

…Even when you have insurance that covers most things, it doesn’t cover everything.

Learn more about Bridget Zinn.

From the site: “If you are an artist, do you have a piece of art you could donate? If you are an author, could you donate a signed copy of your book? Or even a critique of the first 10 or 20 pages of someone’s work in progress? Do you have anything else you could contribute? If so, please email Jone MacCulloch” Note: bloggers and social networkers may also want to help spread the word about the auction.

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win an ARC of Pure by Terra Elan McVoy (Simon Pulse, 2009)! To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Pure” in the subject line. Deadline: May 30. From the promotional copy:

“Tabitha and her four best friends all wear purity rings, symbols of the virginity-until-marriage pledge they made years ago. Now Tab is fifteen, and her ring has come to mean so much more. It’s a symbol of who she is and what she believes—a reminder of her promises to herself, and her bond to her friends.

“But when Tab meets a boy whose kisses make her knees go weak, everything suddenly seems a lot more complicated. Tab’s best friend, Morgan, is far from supportive, and for the first time, Tabitha is forced to keep secrets from the one person with whom she’s always shared everything. When one of those secrets breaks to the surface, Tab finds herself at the center of an unthinkable betrayal that splits her friends apart. As Tab’s entire world comes crashing down around her, she’s forced to re-examine her friendships, her faith, and what exactly it means to be pure.”

Enter to win a paperback copy of Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac (Harcourt, 2008)! To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Sacajawea” in the subject line. Deadline: May 30! From the promotional copy: “Captured by her enemies, married to a foreigner, and a mother at age sixteen, Sacajawea lived a life of turmoil and change. Then, in 1804, the mysterious young Shoshone woman met Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Acting as interpreter, peacemaker, and guide, Sacajawea bravely embarked on an epic journey that altered history forever. Hear her extraordinary story, in the voices of Sacajawea and William Clark in alternating chapters, with selections from Clark’s original diaries.” Read a Cynsational interview with Joe.

Author Interview with Lucienne Diver and Giveaway of Vamped from Linda Gerber: YA Author. Peek: “When I was young (about six or seven years old), I wanted to be a cryptozoologist–be the person to actually find the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot and all that. I think when I grew up that interest in exploration and discovery led to my major in anthropology.” Note: see more about the launch from Lucienne’s LJ!

More News

Happy Buy Indie Day! Note: “The idea: buy one book—paperback, hardcover, audiobook, whatever you want!—at an independent bookstore near you.”

Hugh Jackman on Free Comic Book Day (the first Saturday in May), not to mention, the trailer for “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” Peek: “Free Comic Book Day is a single day–the first Saturday in May–when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free* to anyone who comes into their stores.” *Check with your local shop for their participation and rules.

The 10,000 Hour Secret To Success from Donna Bowman Bratton at Simply Donna. Peek: “I was a competitive child and, when I was as young as eight, I was showing Quarter horses. At that age, I lost more than I won. My parents would soothe the hurt by sharing some wisdom that I didn’t quite understand at the time. ‘We all have to pay our dues.'”

Novel confections: Author Gaby Triana’s cakes are as imaginative as her plots by Ana Veciana-Suarez from The Miami Herald. Peek: “So if you’re in the market for, say, a baby shower cake, expect Triana to ask probing questions about the colors you like and how you’re decorating the baby’s nursery. She is not a pink-is-for-girls, blue-is-for-boys kind of baker. For birthdays, she likes to deliver a product that says something about the honoree–a cake shaped like a bull dolphin for a fisherman, for example.” Read a Cynsations interview with Gaby.

Bethany Hegedus Talks About Between Us Baxters: an author interview from from Sarah Sullivan at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “It is a pet-peeve of mine in books where black and white friendships are portrayed that the white child is seen as ‘perfect’ or ‘noble’–especially in those set in the civil rights era. Polly and Timbre Ann are both flawed but that doesn’t make their love for one another any less real; in fact, I hope it makes it more so.”

The Golden Age of Picture Book Biography from Mark Tyler Noble at Noblemania. Peek: “Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman is a picture book and it is shelved in the children’s section of bookstores, but I wrote it for all ages. I’ve appeared at a diverse bunch of venues for it, from museums to comic conventions. At most of them (aside from school visits, naturally), I seem to be signing more books to adults than to kids.”

Austin SCBWI-Blooming Tree Writers’ Bootcamp Conference Report from Madeline Smoot at Buried in the Slush Pile. Includes links to her handout for an online marketing session and a checklist for critiquers (PDF, scroll to end).

Attention Authors: Link to Your Local Independent Bookstore by Josie Leavitt from Shelftalker: A Children’s Booksellers Blog. Peek: “…you’ve supported a store that has supported you.” Note: We should all be actively championing our indies and looking for ways to raise their profiles in our communities. See also Adult Readers in the Kids’ Section. Note: about half of my reader mail comes from folks over age 25.

What’s Cool about Being a Writer from Carrie Jones. Peek: “Did I mention the whole not-having-to-get-up-early to go to work thing?” Read a Cynsations interview with Carrie.

An Exploration of Dialogue-Heavy Scenes from Varian Johnson from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “…in instances where an author wishes to move a reader through a scene very quickly, the author must cut out as much unnecessary material as possible, while still conveying the thoughts and feelings of the main character.” Read a Cynsations interview with Varian.

Marvelous Marketer: Ingrid Law (Newberry Award Winning Author of Savvy) from Shelli at Market My Words: Marketing Advice for Authors/Illustrators from a Marketing Consultant & Aspiring Children’s Book Author. Peek: “Try from the very start to find a balance between your focus on marketing and your focus on continued writing. It is easy to get so tied up thinking about the marketing of your first book that your next book, or your writing in general, becomes neglected.”

Writing Race by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “…ten questions we writers can ask ourselves once we’ve completed a story.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

Flux Holds Steady Through Changes by Claire Kirch from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Flux reports a 30% increase in sales this year over last year, and its two in-house publicists have been fielding calls recently from Hollywood agents and producers looking to tap into popular teen reading trends by adapting Flux titles for television shows targeting that market.”

SCBWI Annual Summer Conference: see faculty, schedule and more information. The event will take place Aug. 7 to Aug. 10 at the Hyatt Recency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. Note: registration opens May 5. Source: Alice’s CWIM Blog.

Check out this book trailer for If I Stay by Gail Forman (Dutton, April 2009) Source: Literaticat.

Cynsational Author Reminder: consider listing your title, byline, publisher, publication date, and illustrator (if you have one) on the dedicated website page for each of your books. It’s not a bad idea to include the ISBN too.

Cynsational Author Reminder: you (probably) own the copyright to your book, not to all reviews about it. Don’t republish them in their entirety without permission. Note: if you offer a short quote, it’s also courteous to include a link to the source.

Blog Central: Children’s Book Reviewers from Anastasia Suen’s Blog Central. Newly updated. Note: Cynsations doesn’t review per se, but rather offers recommendations (positives only) and conversations. See guidelines.

Congratulations to Aimee Bissonette on the release of Cyber Law: Maximizing Safety and Minimizing Risk in Classrooms (Corwin, 2009)!

readergirlz Pick of the Month: Red Glass by Laura Resau. Peek: “One night Sophie’s family is called to a hospital, where five-year-old Pablo is recovering from dehydration. He was the sole survivor of a group of Mexican immigrants crossing the border. Sophie’s family takes him in and comes to love him. A year later, Sophie must take a road trip with an unlikely group of people to Pablo’s hometown in Mexico. Full of fears at first, she ends up opening herself to adventure and growing closer to Angel — a boy her age with a secret. When Sophie dares to travel alone into Guatemala to save Angel, she explores whether love is worth the risk of loss.”

Congratulations to Tony Abbott for receiving the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Fiction for The Postcard (Little, Brown)(author interview) and to John Green for receiving the 2009 Edgar for Best Young Adult Novel for Paper Towns (Dutton)(author interview about previous release). See all the winners and finalists here. Sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America. Source: GalleyCat.

More Personally

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith posted by Mrs. Johnson from Pettus Secondary Library Blog. Peek: “The ending brought a tear to my eye–total selfless love is a wonderful thing.”

Congratulations to Austin’s own Alison Dellenbaugh on signing with a literary agent!

Here’s one last pic from the Kansas-Arkansas pic. Here we have Greg with Dr. Bushman of The Writing Conference and Sheryl Servatius-Brown, librarian of Ottawa High School. See my complete event report!