From her birth, Abisina has been an outcast-for the color of her eyes and skin, and for her lack of a father. Only her mother’s status as the village healer has kept her safe.
But when a mythic leader arrives, Abisina’s life is ripped apart. She escapes alone to try to find the father and the home she has never known.
In a world of extremes, from the deepest prejudice to the greatest bonds of duty and loyalty, Abisina must find her own way and decide where her true hope lies.
Read a Cynsations interview with Ellen about Watersmeet.
Lotus Lowenstein’s life is merde. She dreams of moving to Paris and becoming an existentialist. Yet here she is trapped in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with a New-Agey mom, an out-of-work dad, and a chess champion brother who dreams of being a rock star.
Merci à Dieu for Lotus’s best friend, Joni, who loves French culture enough to cofound their high school’s first French Club with Lotus. At the first meeting, the cutest boy in the world walks in. His name is Sean, and he too loves French culture and worships Jean-Paul Sartre.
At first, Lotus thinks Sean is the best thing to happen to her in years. He’s smart, cultured, and adorable. Unfortunately, though, Joni feels the same way. And having an existentialist view of love, Sean sees nothing wrong with enjoying both girls’ affections. Things come to a head when all three depart for Montreal with their teacher, Ms. G, on the French Club’s first official field trip.
Will Sean choose Joni over Lotus? And will Lotus and Joni’s friendship ever recover?
Check out the book trailer for The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein:
As a holiday gift from my house to yours (or your library), enter to win one of three signed copies of Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith (Little, Brown, 2005)! From the promotional copy:
Elias, Shohei, and Honoria have always been a trio united against That Which Is The Peshtigo School. But suddenly it seems that understanding and sticking up for a best friend isn’t as easy as it used to be.
Elias, reluctant science fair participant, finds himself defying the authority of Mr. Ethan Eden, teacher king of chem lab. Shohei, all-around slacker, is approaching a showdown with his adoptive parents, who have decided that he needs to start ‘hearing’ his ancestors. And Honoria, legal counsel extraordinaire, discovers that telling a best friend you like him, without actually telling him, is a lot harder than battling Goliath Reed or getting a piranha to become vegetarian.
What three best friends find out about the Land of the Rising Sun, Pygocentrus nattereri, and Galileo’s choice, among other things, makes for a hilarious and intelligent read filled with wit, wisdom, and a little bit of science.
Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo is a Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner, Writers’ League of Texas Teddy Award Winner, Junior Library Guild Selection, and ALA Popular Paperback for Young Adult Readers. Read a Cynsations interview with Greg about Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo.
Greg has been known to describe it as a “romantic science comedy courtroom drama” for the tweener set.
To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type “Watersmeet” and/or “The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein” and/or “Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo” in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the name in the header; I’ll write you for contact information, if you win). Note: one copy of each book will be reserved for a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature; those eligible in these categories should indicate their affiliations in the body of their entry messages. The other two will go to any Cynsations readers!
Deadline: midnight CST Dec. 31.
Note: international entries are always welcome and sometimes win, though the majority of entries still come from the U.S. (followed by Canada).
Celebrating Laura Ruby
For Tola Riley, life is not a fairy tale, it only feels like one. She’s got evil classmates, a runaway dad, a wicked stepmother, a possible Prince Charming, and her very own troll. But it’s only when someone accuses her of having an affair with her art teacher that her whole world turns into something out of Grimm’s. Because the person accusing her is her own mother.
‘If I really wanted to open up, I’d confess that I really am the liar everyone believes I am.’
High-school junior Tola has green hair, a nose ring, an attitude problem, and a fondness for fairy tales, which are a great escape from real life. Everyone thinks she’s crazy; everyone says so. Everyone except Mr. Mymer, her art teacher. He gets her paintings and lets her hang out in the art room during lonely lunch periods.
But then rumors start flying and Tola is suddenly the center of a scandal. The whole town is judging her—even her family. When Mr. Mymer is suspended for what everyone thinks is an affair, she has no choice but to break her silence. Fairy tales won’t help her this time . . . so how can she tell the truth? And, more importantly, will anyone believe her?
Read a previous Cynsations interview with Laura.
Attention Central Texans: children’s author Dianna Hutts Aston will be reading and signing at the Buda (TX) Public Library in conjunction with Budafest at 1 p.m. Dec. 5. Read a Cynsations interview with Dianna.
“Writing Advice: Money” by Barry Lyga. Peek: “I get asked about money a lot — how much do authors make? What percentage of the book’s price comes back to the author? How do royalties work? Well, I’m going to try to de-mystify this voodoo a little bit.” Read a Cynsations interview with Barry.
IndieBound Gear Store: “Rally around the celebration and wear your indie with pride! Independent bookstores are destinations of growth, choice, and surprise. Show your indiethusiasm with scribble logo and spirit line clothing!”
15 New YA Books Featuring Forgiveness: compiled by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “I’m still collecting titles on the theme for tweens and kids, so feel free to add those in the comments.” Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.
Finding the Right Balance In Critique Groups by Kelly Bingham from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “I have had to sort out for myself how to participate in a critique group, and how to get the most from my peers. And I’m guessing you are too. For me, I want to mix writing and socializing. And cookies. Lots of cookies.” Read a Cynsations interview with Kelly.
Korean Folktales by Dongwol Kim Roberson: official author site. Peek: “Dongwol Kim Roberson is currently an ESL instructor at Texas A&M University-Kingsville in Kingsville, Texas. She has taught gifted & talented programs at the elementary school level. She holds a B.A in English Language & Literature from Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, Korea and a Masters of Education from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas. Currently, she is a Doctoral candidate for Bilingual Education at Texas A&M University-Kingsville in Kingsville, Texas.”
Multiple Journals by Kristi Holl from Writer’s First Aid. Peek: “I gathered my stack of mostly empty journals and read through them, deciding what ‘theme’ each one represented, and decided to entitle them as such. Then, depending on my need and mood, I will get out the appropriate journal.”
Guest Post: Author Bonny Becker – Have We Gone Too Far In Stripping Bad Things From Picture Books? from Natasha at Maw Books Blog. Peek: “Bad things happen. As a child, I found it scary, intriguing—and encouraging—when bad things happened in books. Encouraging because I felt trusted with grown-up information; yet even more encouraging was the fact that bad things happened, but I could move on. I couldn’t have put it in words, but the message was misfortune didn’t mean despair.”
2010 Debut Author Challenge by KarinLibrarian from Karen’s Book Nook. Peek: “The objective is to read a set number of YA (Young Adult) or MG (Middle Grade) novels from debut authors published this year .* I’m going to challenge everyone to read at least 12 debut novels! I’m hoping to read at least 30!”
Bug Boy by Eric Luper (FSG, 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith from GregLSBlog. Peek: “…exposes in compelling fashion both the glamor and dubious ethics of the 1930s horse-racing culture.” Ages 12-up.
The Literacy Site Shop: “When you shop at The Literacy Site store, each item you buy also helps fund books for children–at no extra cost to you!” Features a number of book-themed items, among others.
What does a map in a fantasy novel do for you?: an Inkpot Poll by Ellen Booraem at Freelance Ne’er-do-well. Peek: “In a couple of weeks, I’ll be hosting a discussion at The Enchanted Inkpot about maps in fantasy novels. To help get the discussion started, I’d love it if you’d take the poll below…and then check in at the Inkpot on Dec. 14, to contribute your two cents!”
Charlesbridge Acquires Mackinac Island Press List: Children’s publisher acquires rights to a 30-book backlist and several forthcoming titles by Lynn Andriani from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “MIP will continue to operate as a book developer, producing between eight and 12 children’s titles and one and two series a year. The backlist and forthcoming titles will be published by Charlesbridge under the Mackinac Island Press imprint.” Read a Cynsations interview with Charlesbridge editor Yolanda LeRoy.
Attention Central Texans: children’s author Chris Barton will be signing The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors, illustrated by Tony Persiani (Charlesbridge, 2009) from noon to 2 p.m. in conjunction with the the Brentwood Christian School Holiday Book Fair at the Barnes & Noble Arboretum in Austin. Peek: “…if you drop by to say hi during that time, you can also get yourself in the running for a free advance copy of Shark Vs. Train, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Little Brown, 2010).” Read a Cynsations interview with Chris.
The Witch’s Guide to Cooking with Children by Keith McGowan, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka (Henry Holt, 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith from GregLSBlog. Peek: “…a fun new take on “Hansel and Gretel,” with 21st Century protagonists and all the Old World charm, err, creepiness, of Bavaria’s Black Forest.”
Seeing Your Mistakes by Brian Yansky from Brian’s Blog: Writer Talk. Peek: “Writers can’t see their own work clearly sometimes. Even the great ones. Sometimes a writer won’t see how good her work is. Other times writers can’t see where they’re failing. Sometimes writers get stuck making the same mistakes over and over because of this.” See Using Your Life in Your Writing, also by Brian. Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.
“Genre Prejudice” by Mary Lindsey from QueryTracker.net. Peek: “‘Hating’ a genre doesn’t equate donning a white hood, but it is unwarranted and often unfounded, with the person degrading the genre and its authors sometimes having never even read a book in the genre (or at least not knowing he/she has read one. *wink*). A little tolerance and respect for other readers and writers goes a long way, especially when you’re trying to build a potential fan base.”
Class of 2k10: “a group of the hottest debut authors of middle grade and young adult fiction.” Note: be sure to bookmark for future reference. Don’t miss the Grad Party Giveaway in celebration of the Class of 2k9, and comment by midnight Saturday for a chance to win a book!
Finish Everything by Scott Westerfeld. Peek: “There will always be a part of your brain that wants to give up when characters aren’t behaving, when you don’t know where to go next, when the inspiration has faded. Don’t give the start-something-else part of your brain any extra leverage, or it will win every time.” Source: Elizabeth Scott. Read a Cynsations interview with Scott.
Sea of the Dead by Julia Durango (Simon & Schuster, 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith from GregLSBlog. Peek: “Training to become a warrior himself, and trying to live up to his family’s expectations, Kehl is kidnapped from barracks by the minions of the Fallen King.” Ages 8-up. Read chapter one.
The 6th Annual Novel Writing Retreat at Vermont College of the Fine Arts in Montpelier will be March 19-2. Faculty include author Uma Krishnaswami, author E. Lockhart, and Nancy Mercado, editor at Roaring Brook Press. For more information, email Sarah Aronson at email@example.com. Source: Through the Tollbooth. Read Cynsations interviews with Uma, E., Nancy, and Sarah.
First Annual Inkies Giveaway Extravaganza from Ellen Oh at The Enchanted Inkpot. Enter to win one of three overflowing themed baskets of awesome books. Categories are “fairy tales and folklore,” “adventure and witchcraft,” and “ancient curses, modern ghosts, post-apocalyptic.” Deadline: Dec. 9.
How to Respond to a Manuscript Critique/Editorial Letter by Nathan Bransford from Curtis Brown. Peek: “An editorial letter is kind of like a radioactive substance that you need to become gradually acclimated to over the course of several days. It needs to be absorbed in small doses and kept at arm’s length and quarantined when necessary until you are able to overcome the dangerous side effects: anger, paranoia, excessive pride, delusions of grandeur, and/or homicidal tendencies.” Note: when I get an editorial letter, I set a heavy object on it, back away for three days, and then rewrite it, sprinkling in more praise like: “Wow, that parallel construct–brilliantly executed!” or “Gee, your hair looks nice today!” Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.
Enter to Win a Copy of Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic, 2010) from KarinLibrarian at Karin’s Book Nook. Deadline: Dec. 20. Read a Cynsations interview with Maggie.
Congratulations to Marion Dane Bauer on the release of The Christmas Baby, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey (Simon & Schuster, 2009)! From the promotional copy: “When a baby was born in the manger, Mary and Joseph rejoiced. The angels sang, and kings journeyed to bring gifts. When you came into the world, there was a celebration too—because every new baby is a small miracle.” Read a Cynsations interview with Marion.
Marvelous Marketer: Hayey Gonnason (Publicist at Tricycle Press) from Shelli at Market My Words. Peek: “We recently had a book launch party, and there was a miscommunication and books were never ordered for the event. When I found out, I had to drop everything to make sure the books were there in time for the event. In the end the launch went off without (as far as people attending knew) a hitch but little things like that come up all the time.”
Congratulations to readergirlz, recipient of the National Book Foundation‘s first Innovations in Reading Prize! “From over 150 entries, readergirlz was chosen as a program that innovatively sustains a love of reading for life.”
Author School Visits: The Best Case Scenario by Stephanie Greene at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Talk about the number of rejection letters you got before you sold it. Kids love to hear stuff like that. (In my most recent visits, I showed them a close up of the F+ I’d received in writing on my second grade report card. The audience gasped. ‘What’s with the plus?’ I said to them. ‘That was supposed to make me feel better?’ We all laughed.” Note: part of a week-long series. See also Can an Author Change Students’ Minds About Revision?
Love, Red Sox & Romance: An Interview with YA Romance Author Niki Burnham from Bitter Lawyer. Peek: “Breaking in is not easy. At the first writers’ conference I attended, an editor with a major house noted that she receives over 2,000 manuscripts a year—that’s full manuscripts, not proposals—from new-to-her authors. On average, she acquires two new authors a year.” Note: Niki was a classmate of mine at The University of Michigan Law School (and she’s not at all bitter; that’s just what the site is called). Read a Cynsations interview with Niki.
Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Jackie Morris by Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “I usually paint in watercolour and also use gold leaf. I love the way the colour comes off the brush, the purity of the colours, and the way they can be layered and layered for a depth and richness of colour.”
YALSA announces Morris Shortlist by Stephanie Kuenn from YALSA. Peek: “The William C. Morris Award honors a book written for teens by a previously unpublished author.” Read a Cynsations interview with Malinda Lo.
Expert Scoop: Interview with Educator Tonya Pointer on Picture Books in the Classroom from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “Picture books are especially useful to promote the core values that underpin the curriculum, and to generate thoughtful debate on a range of issues. These discussions promote oral language development. They also provide ideal material to develop students’ visual literacy…”
Religious Diversity and End-of-the-Year Celebrations from Papertigers.org. Features interviews with Maya Ajmera and Rukhsana Khan, an illustrator’s gallery highlighting Demi, book reviews, personal views by both Amelia Lau Carling and Katia Novet Saint-Lot and much more!
Interview with Bookseller Caitlin Doggart of Where the Sidewalk Ends by Marissa Doyle form The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: “The real value of the indies lies in the unique physical charm that each offers as their own personality. Offering a physical space to look at and touch books is the driving force behind independent bookstores.” Read a Cynsations interview with Marissa.
The Last Newspaper Boy in America by Sue Corbett (Dutton, 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: “Altogether, a charming read: very 21st Century, yet with an almost nostalgic feel.” See the official book trailer:
Below is the book trailer for Going Bovine by Libba Bray (Delacorte, 2009). I’ve featured a link to it previously at Cynsations, but just discovered that the code is now available on YouTube and at Random House. It’s “udderly” hysterical. Read a Cynsations interview with Libba.
Reminder: Bridget Zinn Kicks Cancer! Auction
Bridget Zinn Kicks Cancer Auction! Bid to Win Art, Signed Books, Editor/Agent/Author Critiques & More! Peek: “Bridget is a 32-year-old YA author and librarian who is currently being treated for stage 4 colon cancer – and her “healthy young person between jobs” health insurance does not cover many of her expenses. Read Bridget’s blog for more information.” See more information.
Don’t miss bidding on “A Foot in the Door Critique Package” from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Raise your entire middle grade or YA novel to a new level with the help of the nine published writers at Through The Tollbooth. We’ll provide a detailed, professional editorial letter on your entire novel- structure, characters, voice, everything! We’ll include detailed suggestions on how to conquer your weak spots, and we’ll go over your query letter and synopsis with a fine tooth comb. Everything you need to prepare for submission to editors or agents and get your foot in the publishing door. Tollboothers: Carrie Jones, Tami Lewis Brown, Stephanie Greene, Sarah Aronson, Liz Gallagher, Kelly Bingham, Sarah Sullivan, Zu Vincent and Helen Hemphill help get your novel noticed.”
Note: new items include A Chapter Critique of Your Middle Grade Novel by author Jennifer Cervantes and One Critique of a Query, Plus the First 10 Pages of Your Middle Grade Novel by agent Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Learn more about Jennifer Cervantes and Jennifer Laughran.
Auction I.D.: bridget Password: rules Auction closes Dec. 11.
Congratulations to everyone who successfully finished (or took a hearty stab at) NaNoWriMo! Teen writers are encouraged to celebrate with Kay Cassidy!
Would you like a signed copy of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) or Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) for the holidays? You can find them at BookPeople in Austin, Texas. Note: the store can ship at an extra cost.
You are also welcome to email me to request a personalized bookplate for any of my books–be sure to include (a) which book (b) recipient (c) your snail mail address. Thanks!
Congratulations to fellow Austin author Liz Garton Scanlon on the sale of her picture book manuscript “Think Big” to Michelle H. Nagler at Bloomsbury Children’s!
If you’re an author/illustrator who would like to be featured on Cynsations, take a look at the sort of folks/books I feature (traditionally published literary trade single titles and series), decide if you’re a fit, and then send your books and bio information. Please do not write or call to pitch the book, write to confirm receipt, write to nudge, or otherwise contact me. Please note that I don’t participate in typical online book tours; I schedule features on my own timeline. Note: This information likewise applies to publicists. See How to Get Your Book Reviewed on a Blog by Anastasia Suen at Blog Central.
Seeking a Blurb: requests should be sent via email by the author’s editor or agent, as early as possible before the quote is needed. I am not interested in hearing from authors directly.
Texas Children’s & YA Authors & Illustrators: if you’re traditionally published, contact me about a website listing.