Cynsational News & Giveaways

The Art of the Deal by Karen Sandler from Novelists, Inc. Blog. A revealing insight into how submissions and negotiations take place between children’s-YA book editors and agents. Peek: “If the agent says the book is going to be big, the editor gets excited. Note that the agent won’t say this about every book; she would lose her credibility.” Source: April Henry.

Author Interview: Julia Durango from Carmen Oliver from Following My Dreams…One Word at a Time. Peek: “I first fell in love with Latin American music when I was a teen travelling in Brazil. Later, during college, I spent time in Colombia, Costa Rica, and other Latin American countries. In each place, I encountered amazing music, from tango to salsa to mambo, which told stories about people transcending adversity and celebrating life.”

7 Imps 7 Kicks #234 Featuring Joyce Wan by Jules from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: “…whose art, she tells me, is inspired by Asian traditional and popular culture. She also comes from an architectural design background and loves creating those books for wee ones that are tactile or contain interactive elements.”

Opposing Viewpoints from A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy at School Library Journal.  Peek: “I’d much rather talk about books for those who want action, or quick reads, or emotional exploration, etc., than talking ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ books.”

Getting Naked with the Muse by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “After a certain point, when one has reached a certain mastery of craft, craft is no longer the issue; the uniqueness of the voice is. Not just in the words you use, but the things you have to say. They have to matter. And matter a lot.”

KidLit Illustration: News, Tips and Resources from Where Sidewalk Begins: “…home of the SCBWI Illustration Portfolio Mentorship Program Winners.” Source: Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

Stand Up for Girls: A Virtual Rally to Promote Literacy and Education for Girls, Organized by LitWorld from PaperTigers. Peek: “Two thirds of all the world’s illiterate people are women. On Sept. 22, we will stand up for girls and their right to go to school and to learn to read and write.”

Three Things That Come First Before You Tackle Social Media by Jane Friedman from Writer Unboxed. Peek: “You might very well start by asking yourself, ‘What makes me interesting?'”

A Chat with Agent Kathleen Ortiz by Mindy McGinnis from Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire. Note: “She is currently looking for YA (especially cyberpunk, thrillers and anything dark/edgy), older middle grade…” This interview focuses on Kathleen’s personality, not her approach to submissions.

Judge Says Books-A-Million Can Take Over 14 Borders Leases by Joseph Checkler from The Wall Street Journal. Peek: “…meaning at least some Borders stores will carry on as the rest of the chain winds down through liquidation.” Note: the rest of the article is available by subscription only. Source: The Writer’s League of Texas.

Walker/Bloomsbury, March 2012

Created in the Path of Irene from Kate Messner. Peek: “Before Hurricane Irene hit, I posted this invitation for those in Irene’s path to write or draw or otherwise create art during the storm, and to share it online as a communal art-making experience.”

The Lambda Literary Foundation Changes Their Lammy Award Guidelines to Include Allied Writers and Highlight GLBTQ Writers by Lee Wind from I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? Note: see comments and Lee’s own additional thoughts on the changes to date and (possibly) to come.

How to Raise Your Characters Above the Status Quo by Brian A. Klems from Writer’s Digest. Peek: “Novelists have the daunting task of showing this dynamic of shifting submission and dominance through dialogue, posture, pauses, communication patterns, body language, action and inner dialogue.”

Q&A with Patsy Aldana on International Children’s Publishing, and IBBY in the Middle East and North Africa by Natalie Samson from Quill & Quire. Peek: “During her travels, Aldana will meet with the Children’s Book Council of Iran (CBCI) to speak about Groundwood’s approach to international children’s book publishing; consult with local children’s literacy workers and the Afghan minister of culture about establishing IBBY chapters in Afghanistan and Tajikstan; fundraise for IBBY initiatives in the emirates and North Africa; and deliver the keynote address at the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions conference on intergenerational reading in Tunisia.” Source: ACHOCKABLOG.

AmyKossBlogThang from “the author of 14 teen novels and many L.A. Times articles and stuff like that.”

Interview: Carla Jablonski by Esther Keller from Good Comics for Kids at School Library Journal. Peek: “I wanted to try to understand what it might have been like to live under occupation — ordinary people in not-so-ordinary circumstances.”

A Notable Book for a Global Society

Notable Books for a Global Society: an interview by Nancy with Karen Hildebrand, chair of the International Reading Association selection committee from ReaderKidZ. Note: includes bibliography of picture books, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Move Books: a new publishing company, launched by Eileen Robinson, focusing on middle grade titles with boy appeal. See submissions information. Source: Writing and Illustrating.

Picture Books and Easy Readers: an excerpt from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold Underdown at The Purple Crayon. See also Harold on What a Publisher Does.

Judges are being sought for the the Cybils 2011: Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards. See more information on eligibility, changes, and duties.

How Much to Share Online by Rachelle Gardner. Peek: “Always be thoughtful and discerning when deciding what professional information to share publicly.” Source: QueryTracker.netBlog.

White Space by Mary Quattlebaum from Write at Your Own Risk. Peek: “Suspended breath is not the absence of breath.”

Photo-palooza: San Diego Comic Con from Get to the Point: A Blog from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Booth.

Best Articles This Week for Writers from Adventures in Children’s Publishing.

Cynsational Cheers

Cheers to E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally on the sale of Dear Teen Me (inspired by their blog of the same name) to Zest Books! Note: click the link to add your congratulations!

Cheers to Kimberley Griffiths Little on the paperback release of The Healing Spell (Scholastic, 2011)!
Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberley.

Cheers to children’s author-illustrator team Janice and Tom Shefelman on Honeymoon Hobos: A Journey Around a World that Once Was, a memoir that’s their first book for grown-ups. Peek: “Yearning to see the world, Tom and I sold our possessions, got married, and set out on a journey we could not afford but had to take. In October of 1954 we boarded a Japanese freighter out of Long Beach, bound for Yokohama, planning to take a year to circle the globe.”

Cynsational Screening Room

What is Steampunk? – Steam-Reality Sizzle Reel from JonnyPhoenyx. Source: Arthur Slade.

Dinosaur Dig by Penny Dale (Nosy Crow of London). Cover re-worked on iPad using Brushes App.

Cynsational Giveaways

Last call! Celebrate the release of my first graphic novel by entering to win the Tantalize: Kieren’s Story Howling Great Giveaway!

The prize includes: author-autographed copy of Tantalize: Kieren’s Story, illustrated by Ming Doyle; Barbecue Lovers Guide to Austin by Gloria Corral; “Living with Wolves” DVD from the Discovery Channel; adult-size costume bat wings; bat finger puppet; armadillo puppet; wolf finger puppet; bear finger puppet; opossum finger puppet; flashing cat key chain, armadillo egg candies; mini journal; Austin magnet; and audio edition of Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith, read by Kim Mai Guest (Listening Library/Random House).

To enter, comment on this post (click link and scroll) and include an email address (formatted like: cynthia at cynthialeitichsmith dot com) or a link to an email address. Or you can email me directly with “Tantalize: Kieren’s Story” in the subject line. Author sponsored. Deadline: Sept. 6.

For extra entries (itemize efforts in your entry comment/email with relevant links):

Limit 8 entries. This giveaway is for international readers–everyone is eligible!

Enter to win Liar, Liar and Flat Broke by Gary Paulsen (Random House, 2011). To enter, comment on this post (click link and scroll) and include an email address (formatted like: cynthia at cynthialeitichsmith dot com) or a link to an email address. Or you can email me directly with “Paulsen” in the subject line. Publisher sponsored. Deadline: Sept. 16. U.S. readers eligible.

Enter to win an advanced reader copy of The Vision by Jen Nadol (Bloomsbury, September 2011). To enter, comment on this post (click link and scroll) and include an email address (formatted like: cynthia at cynthialeitichsmith dot com) or a link to an email address. Or email Cynthia directly with “The Mark” in the subject line. Author sponsored. Eligibility: U.S./Canada entries only. Deadline: midnight CST Sept. 6.

Enter to win one of three Snuggle Mountain apps (IPhone and IPad users only). To enter, comment on this post (click link and scroll) and include an email address (formatted like: cynthia at cynthialeitichsmith dot com) or a link to an email address. Or you can email Cynthia directly with “Snuggle Mountain app” in the subject line. Author sponsored. Deadline: Sept. 26.

For extra entries (itemize efforts in your entry comment/email with relevant links):

  • Blog about this giveaway
  • Share the link to this post on facebook
  • Share the link to this post on Twitter
  • Share the link to this post on Google+ 
  • Like Lindsey’s Facebook author page

Enter to win a copy of Tantalize and so much more from six prize packs in the Operation Awesome 500 Follower Celebration. Deadline: 11:59 Sept. 7. Note: not sure of time zone.

This Week’s Cynsations Posts

More Personally

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Hurricane Irene or Typhoon Megi.

Speaking of which, the next time you buy a Google ebook online, consider ordering it from Lisa Sullivan at Bartleby’s Books in Wilmington, Vermont. Learn more about the “catastrophic” flooding that wrecked her store from Jason Boog at GalleyCat.

And do you have any new books, especially picture books, to donate? See After Irene: A Small-town Adirondack Library Needs Your Help from Kate Messner.

Or do you have $5 to spare? It’s not too late to help save a library in Cherryfield, Maine.

Look for quotes from me in “The Well-Paid Writer” by Katherine Swarts, published in the September issue of Children’s Writer.

School Library Journal says of Tantalize: Kieren’s Story (Candlewick, 2011): “…both the art and the text come together in some touching moments, particularly between Kieren and his younger sister.” Note: This may be the first review to mention little Meghan, who’s one of my favorite characters.

Book Review & Author Interview: Tantalize: Kieren’s Story by Cynthia Leitich Smith from The Obscured Vixen. I talk about the process behind the new graphic novel, the commercial pressure of happy romantic endings, and my next two prose novels, Diabolical and Smolder. Note: The Obscured Vixen’s Review gives the graphic novel four out of five stars!

Thanks to Shelli Cornelison at Shelli’s Soliloquy for the shout out!

Even More Personally

Maybe it’s the 70-plus days of 100-plus degree temperatures, or just my busy brain needing to cool, but of late I’ve been watching shows before going to bed.

It took 24 hours for me to gobble up the first season of the BBC’s “Sherlock.” The show is witty and suspenseful, and I’m fascinated by the developing friendship between Benedict Cumberbatch‘s “Sherlock Holmes” and Martin Freeman‘s “Dr. John Watson. The three episodes are each 90 minutes long, so as a U.S.-based fan, it feels more like watching three movies.

Save the Cheerleader, Save the World!

I’d seen the first two and a half seasons of “Heroes,” but started over from the beginning and finished watching the remainder of the series this past month. It’s well written and one of the most ambitious shows–smart, funny, action-packed–I’ve ever watched. I especially liked the heavy early use of the comic framework and missed it later on. Beyond that, I appreciated the diverse cast, international settings, intricate writing, and of course the characters.

Personal Links:

From Greg Leitich Smith:

Cynsational Events

Attention, Houstonians! Please join Cynthia Leitich Smith for a discussion and signing of Tantalize: Kieren’s Story (Candlewick, 2011) at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston.

Note: “This event is free and open to the public. In order to go through the signing line and meet Cynthia Leitich Smith for book personalization, you must purchase Tantalize: Kieren’s Story from Blue Willow Bookshop. A limited number of autographed copies of Cynthia’s books will be available for purchase after the event. If you cannot attend the event, but would like a personalized copy of her book, please call Blue Willow before the event at 281.497.8675.”

Austin Teen Book Festival is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 1 at Palmer Events Center in Austin. The event is free! No need to register, just show up! Students do not need to be accompanied by an adult.

Meet Ming Doyle!

Illustrator Ming Doyle will be signing Tantalize: Kieren’s Story at 2 p.m. Oct. 2 at Brookline Booksmith (279 Harvard Street) in Brookline, Massachusetts. Guests are invited to participate in a vampire/werewolf costume contest. See another interior illustration from the graphic novel from her blog.

Write Before You Write: Outlining, Planning Plotting with Jennifer Ziegler from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 10 at St. Edward’s University in Austin. Sponsored by The Writers’ League of Texas. Peek: “Do you ever start a manuscript and end up lost in your own story? Do you know your plot but still find that your writing is blocked? Or do you have a terrific idea for a book but are unsure where to start? If your answer is yes to any of the above, you might benefit from some ‘prewriting’ techniques.”

New Voice: Alex Epstein on The Circle Cast: The Lost Years of Morgan le Fay

Alex Epstein is the first-time author of The Circle Cast: The Lost Years of Morgan le Fay (Tradewind, 2011)(blog). From the promotional copy:

The sorceress Morgan le Fay – seducer of King Arthur and destroyer of Britain – was a girl once. But how did an exiled girl become a king’s nemesis?

Britain, 480 AD. Saxon barbarians are invading, pushing the civilized British out of their own island. Morgan is the daughter of the governor of Cornwall. But when her father is murdered and her mother taken as the King’s new wife, she has to flee to Ireland to avoid being murdered herself.

But Ireland is no refuge. She’s captured in a slave raid and sold to a village witch. As Morgan comes of age, she discovers her own magical powers. She falls in love with a young Irish chieftain, and makes him powerful. But will her drive for revenge destroy her one chance for love and happiness?

What were you like as a young reader, and how did that influence the book that you’re debuting this year?

When I was a kid, my dad used to read the T.H. White books to me — The Once and Future King (Collins, 1958), The Book of Merlyn (University of Texas, 1977), The Sword in the Stone (Putnam, 1939). That gave me a lifelong fascination with the King Arthur stories.

At first I just loved the magic and the honor and the swordplay. But as I grew up, I got interested in the human relationships. There seemed to be a whole hidden story behind the legend. King Arthur has no children, but no one complains — why? For a king not to have an heir is alarming. Why does Arthur tolerate Morgan le Fay’s efforts to kill Guinevere? Why does he wait so long to confront Lancelot for having an affair with his wife? And of course the big question: how does Morgan go from being sent off to “a nunnery” to being the most powerful witch in legend? They don’t usually teach necromancy in nunneries, do they?

The Circle Cast is a try at some answers. It seemed to me that maybe Arthur loved Guinevere, but not as woman, as an ideal. But maybe he loved Morgan as a woman. She was his half-sister, which made that a problem; but only in the new, Christian context. To an early Celt, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Arthur is torn between the old and the new, the ideal and the woman. He doesn’t confront Lancelot because he knows he’s not doing right by Guinevere. But he can’t help himself. You love who you love.

People in my own life did things that resonated with the Arthur story; I won’t get into them here; and maybe that’s why I stayed interested in the story over the 15 years I wrote and reworked the book through many drafts.

As a historical fiction writer, what drew you first-character, concept, or historical period? In whichever case, how did you go about building your world and integrating it into the story? What were the special challenges? Where did you turn for inspiration or support?

I think you have to start with the character, and Morgan is a fantastic character. She’s so angry, but she has every right to be. She’s offered grace, and she’s offered love, but if she accepts either, she’ll have to stop being angry. And if she gives up her angry, who is she? It’s what’s defined her, what’s made her strong, what allowed her to survive — and it’s what powers the magic.

I did a lot of historical research. I do love to read about history. The Circle Cast is set in 480 AD, almost a century after the Romans abandoned Britain, and a generation after the barbarians sacked Rome. That’s not the traditional Arthurian setting, but it’s when Arthur probably flourished, if you believe Geoffrey Ashe. Ashe makes a very convincing case that a Roman-style dux bellorum called Riothamus (= “High King”) beat the Saxons for about two decades before heading off to help the Romans on the Continent. He disappeared near the town of Avallon.

It’s a time when all bets are off. The Saxons are pushing the British out of Britain. Christianity is replacing the Old Religion, which may have involved the worship of a war goddess called Bellona Morigenos. She’s the same goddess the Irish worship as the Morrígan, a scary battle queen whose crows take slain heroes to Valhalla by eating them. My first wife did her Ph. D. thesis on the Morrígan, and I edited it, so for a little while there I might have been the person who knew the second most about Her.

I went to Ireland and England, too, and climbed up on South Cadbury Castle, a hillfort that might have been Camelot. I climbed up on Cader Idris in Wales, known as Arthur’s Seat. I went to Tintagel. And I went to the lakeshore of the yew trees, now called Emly.

I tried to make the historical details as gritty and real as possible. Chimneys hadn’t been invented yet. The Irish didn’t have any horses big enough to ride; they had chariot ponies. The Irish worked butter into their hair before battle to make it stand up. All the strange details in the book come out of research.

The magic comes out of contemporary neo-pagan Wicca. I met a lot of witches when I was first writing this book, and participated in some intense rituals. I’ve rarely felt in touch with the powers of the Earth — certainly never anything like Morgan. I can make magic happen on the page but I rarely feel it. I’m not sensitive that way.

But I did see a woman draw down the Moon, and I could swear there was someone else in her, someone ageless and powerful. So the magic is as real as I could make it, too.

How did you go about connecting with your agent? What was your search process like? Who did you decide to sign with? What about that person and/or agency seemed like the best fit for you? What advice do you have for other writers in seeking the right agent for them?

I didn’t sell this book through an agent! It’s funny, because I have no shortage of agents. I have screenwriting agents in Toronto and Montreal, and I have a nonfiction book agent.

I had a terrific, smart, hardworking fiction agent for a while, Ginger Clark (formerly) of Writers House, and we came close, but at the time King Arthur books seemed to be out of style.

A couple years later, I contacted a publisher in Canada about the movie rights for a novel he published, and we got to talking.

Turned out he was interested in my book as a YA novel. It already more or less was one, it just needed to be trimmed down a bit — and the trims were all for the good, thanks to my terrific editor, Kim Aippersbach.

So I guess my advice would be: persevere. Try different avenues. Keep reworking the book when you get good feedback.