Book Trailer: Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown, iIllustrated by John Parra

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the book trailer for Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra (NorthSouth, 2017). From the promotional copy:

The fascinating Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is remembered for her self-portraits, her dramatic works featuring bold and vibrant colors. 


Her work brought attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and she is also renowned for her works celebrating the female form.


Brown’s story recounts Frida’s beloved pets—two monkeys, a parrot, three dogs, two turkeys, an eagle, a black cat, and a fawn—and playfully considers how Frida embodied many wonderful characteristics of each animal.

Book Trailer: Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the book trailer for Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley (Dial, 2017). From the promotional copy:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Circus Mirandus comes the magic-infused story of a golden gator, two cursed kids, and how they take their destinies into their own hands.



When the red moon rises over the heart of the Okefenokee swamp, legend says that the mysterious golden gator Munch will grant good luck to the poor soul foolish enough to face him.



But in 1817, when two fools reach him at the same time, the night’s fate is split. With disastrous consequences for both . . . and their descendants. Half of the descendants have great fates, and the other half have terrible ones.



Now, Tumble Wilson and Blue Montgomery are determined to fix their ancestors’ mistakes and banish the bad luck that’s followed them around for all of their lives. They’re going to face Munch the gator themselves, and they’re going to reclaim their destinies.



But what if the legend of Munch is nothing but a legend, after all?



Full of friendship, family, and the everyday magic and adventure that readers of Savvy and A Snicker of Magic love, Cassie Beasley’s newest middle grade book is another crowd-pleasing heart-warmer—perfect for reading by yourself, or sharing with someone you love.

Book Video: An Evening of Ectoplasm

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

From the acknowledgements: “Icky paranormal history with award-winning authors William Alexander, M.T. Anderson, and Kekla Magoon. Special thanks to Alice Dodge for her spirit photography, Kelly Murphy for the gorgeous illustrations, and The Parlour Trick for graciously granting us permission to use ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and ‘Pandora’ from their album ‘A Blessed Unrest.'”

About A Properly Unhaunted Place (Margaret K. McElderry, 2017)

From National Book Award–winning author William Alexander comes a wryly humorous story about two kids who try to save their town by bringing back its ghosts.

Rosa Ramona Díaz has just moved to the small, un-haunted town of Ingot—the only ghost-free town in the world. She doesn’t want to be there. She doesn’t understand how her mother—a librarian who specializes in ghost-appeasement—could possibly want to live in a place with no ghosts. Frankly, she doesn’t understand why anyone would.

Jasper Chevalier has always lived in Ingot. His father plays a knight at the local Renaissance Festival, and his mother plays the queen. Jasper has never seen a ghost, and can’t imagine his un-haunted town any other way. Then an apparition thunders into the festival grounds and turns the quiet town upside down.

Something otherworldly is about to be unleashed, and Rosa will need all her ghost appeasement tools—and a little help from Jasper—to rein in the angry spirits and restore peace to Ingot before it’s too late.

Book Trailer: Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the book trailer for Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh (HarperChildren’s, 2017). From the promotional copy:

We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh returns with Spirit Hunters, a high-stakes middle grade mystery series about Harper Raine, the new seventh grader in town who must face down the dangerous ghosts haunting her younger brother. 


A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn! 


Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. 


The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?

Book Trailer: This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the book trailer for This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe (Chronicle, 2017). From the promotional copy:

This is How We Do It follows the real lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia for a single day. 


In Japan, Kei plays Freeze Tag, while, in Uganda, Daphine likes to jump rope. But while the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them. This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as a mirror reflecting our common experiences.



Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamothe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book.

Book Trailer: Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

Illustrated by Frank Morrison

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the book trailer for Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia (HarperChildren’s, 2017).

The first chapter comes to life as Clayton Byrd plays harmonica alongside his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the Bluesmen.

From the promotional copy:

From beloved Newbery Honor winner and three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Rita Williams-Garcia comes a powerful and heartfelt novel about loss, family, love, and the blues.



Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But when the unthinkable happens and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues, Clayton knows that’s no way to live.


Armed with his grandfather’s brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him.

Video credits: Rita Williams-Garcia, Ferdinand Leyro, Kenneth “Chop” Alston, Mark “Blue Salim” Edwards, Timothy “Breeze” Winston, and Zuberi Zoboi.

Cynsational Reviews

★ “Clayton’s love of his grandfather and his music is wonderfully drawn, as is his grief when he loses them…. Strong characterizations and vivid musical scenes add layers to this warm family story.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Congratulations, Rita! You’re amazing!

★ “With the precision of a surgeon, Williams-Garcia lifts and examines layers of Clayton’s hurt and anger: the loss, but also the inability of his dismissive mother to understand… The book’s through line, though, is the music, and Garcia-Williams skillfully finds melody in words.” — Booklist (starred review)

★ “This slim novel strikes a strong chord… [A] holistic portrait of a family in pain, a realistic portrait of grief and reconciliation, and a reminder that sadness and loss are wrapped up in the blues.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

★ “An appealing, realistic story with frequent elegant turns of phrase. The third-person voice helps to keep Clayton’s story from becoming self-absorbed, as he learns to navigate the literal and figurative underworld and then find his way back to the everyday world of family, friends, and school.” — Horn Book (starred review)

★ “Williams-Garcia packs a lot of story in this slim book… This complex tale of family and forgiveness has heart.” — School Library Journal (starred review)

Book Trailer: Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Divya Srinivasan

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the book trailer for Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Divya Srinivasan (HarperChildren’s, 2017). From the promotional copy:

A talking tiger is the only one who may be able to get a princess to speak in this beautiful picture book set in a mythic India by the Newbery Medal-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman, and illustrated in bold colors by Divya Srinivasan.



Previously available only as an audio book, Cinnamon has never been published in print before, and Divya Srinivasan’s lush artwork brings Neil Gaiman’s text to life.



This stunning picture book will transport readers to another time and place and will delight parents and children alike.

See also New Voice: Divya Srinivasan on Little Owl’s Night from Cynsations.

Guest Post: Lindsey Lane on Marketing & Paperback Release of Evidence of Things Not Seen

By Lindsey Lane

for Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s Cynsations

What are you supposed to do when your debut novel releases in paperback?

a) Nothing

b) Heave a sigh of relief

c) Let everyone know

d) All of the above

Ahhh, the conundrums of marketing.

Guess what? There is no prescribed method for marketing our books. There is no must-do, have-to do, should-do list. There is no recommended amount of time you spend doing marketing.

And guess what else? Marketing is counter-intuitive to every thing we love to do as writers: stay home in comfy attire and create imaginary worlds. Marketing is a little too real world, right?

So of course, I was tempted to let the paperback release of Evidence of Things Not Seen (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014) slip into its soft cover without much fanfare.

I chose not to do that because I’ve always had this vision of Evidence passing from hand to hand in the hallways of high schools and I always saw it happening in soft cover format. Certainly the paperback price point made that vision more attainable.

So what to do? 

Lindsey & Cyn at the Turkey Trot in Austin

Because I live in Austin, I have the luxury of going out to lunch with friend, mentor, colleague and super kidlit guru Cynthia Leitich Smith.

“Why not reblurb it?” she said.

“Wait?! I can do that?” I asked.

She explained that because Evidence has been out since 2014, lots of other writer pals have read it, liked it and probably want to support it. 

I loved this idea because part of what makes sense about marketing for me is building community. No community is better than the children and young adult literature community. We cheer our releases, our successes and our causes. 
I reached out to three young adult writers Jennifer Matthieu, Conrad Wesselhoeft and J.L. Powers, all of whom had loved Evidence, and asked them to write a few lines.

Here’s what they said:

“This is the kind of book you tuck in with and escape into, and it will stay with you long after you finish the last lines. Haunting and beautiful.” Jennifer Mathieu, author of The Truth About Alice (Roaring Brook Press, 2014), Devoted (Roaring Brook Press, 2015), Afterward (Roaring Brook Press, 2016) and the forthcoming Moxie (Roaring Brook Press, 2017).

“Ever look at a pearl and notice that its one color is, in fact, many colors? That’s the beauty of Evidence Of Things Not Seen, the stunning debut novel by Lindsey Lane.”Conrad Wesselhoeft, author of Adios Nirvana (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways To Fly (Harcourt Brace, 2014).

“The narrative jiggers between unexpected opposites—joy and fear, love and violence, grief and hope—all the while holding forth the constant idea that the world offers us credible evidence of what seems impossible if we only know where to look.” J.L. Powers, author of Amina (Allen & Unwin, 2015), This Thing Called The Future (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011), and the forthcoming Broken Circle (Black Sheep, October 2017).

What happened after I received those new blurbs was like sprinkling fairy dust on me and my book. I got reinvigorated.

Let me explain. 

When your book debuts in the world, it begins a journey, which is somewhat separate from me (think kid going off to college). People would ask me how Evidence of Things Not Seen was doing. Other than royalty statements, I didn’t know. 

I imagined my book toddling around the world perched on book shelves, cradled in someone’s lap or passed to a friend with, hopefully, an urgent recommendation. Yes, I had school visits, speaking engagements and signings but really after your book is out in the world, it has its own experience with readers.

After receiving those blurbs, I researched advertising and book tours. 

Advertising is a bit of a gamble. One time in Publishers Weekly or Booklist is hugely expensive. But Facebook is doable. It’s cheaper, effective and targeted. If there is one reason to have an Author page, it is being able to run these kinds of ads.

As for blog tours, I decided to try out LoneStar Literary.

I’d been receiving their newsletter for a few months and noticed that their content and readership was growing. It was also Texas-based and helmed by women (always a plus).

Because Evidence is set around Blanco alongside US 281, I decided LoneStar Literary would be a great fit. For a very affordable price, I had a 10-stop tour, which included four new reviews and a giveaway.

It was a blast. Great exposure. A lot of fun. Terrific support on Facebook and Twitter. Apparently, it
was a successful tour because Evidence had the most giveaway entries so far for a LoneStar Book Blog Tour. Here is a link to the complete tour.

Promoting the paperback release of Evidence was like taking a honeymoon trip with my book. Even though I am currently engrossed in a new world and its characters, I remembered why I wrote Evidence and why I loved that world and its characters.

Putting together a little hoopla for the paperback release was unexpectedly fun. Highly recommended.

Book Trailer

Cynsational Notes

Lindsey Lane is the author of the young adult novel Evidence of Things Not Seen (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014) and the award-winning picture book and iTunes app Snuggle Mountain (Clarion/PicPocket Books). She is represented by Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Before she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010, Lindsey was a features journalist (Austin Chronicle and Austin American Statesman) and an award-winning playwright (The Miracle of Washing Dishes).

Lindsey is a featured presenter at schools and conferences and universities and also teaches writing at Austin Community College, Writers League of Texas, and the Writing Barn.

She lives in Austin, Texas but loves to travel, especially to the ocean. She loves books, films, good food and her cadre of dear friends. Her idea of a perfect evening is having a dinner party at her home with friends from around the world and discussing everything under the sun while eating, drinking, and laughing.

Book Trailer: The Absoluteness of Nothing by C.G. Watson

By Gayleen Rabakukk
for Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s Cynsations

The Absoluteness of Nothing by C.G. Watson (Simon Pulse, May 2017) releases today in paperback. From the promotional copy:

Caleb Tosh has suffered one personal trauma too many, but this last one – the sudden departure of his mom – has pushed him down a dark and disorienting path.


His favorite video game, the Boneyard, becomes his go-to coping mechanism, and Tosh gladly gets lost in the maps of the game rather than moving through the landscape of his own grief. 


As Tosh falls further and further down the rabbit hole of abandonment and loneliness, he doesn’t see that there are others fighting both virtual and real-life battles alongside him. 


What will it take for Caleb Tosh to leave the safety of the Boneyard, rejoin reality, and deal with the wreckage of his actual life?


Cynsational Notes

C.G. Watson is an author, youth activist, and veteran teacher from Northern California. In 1986, she earned a Spanish degree from California State University Chico, a teaching credential the following year, and a masters in education in 1994.

In 2000, C.G. was given a life-changing opportunity: to bring anti-bullying and conflict resolution programs to the high school where she taught. For five years, she coordinated the powerful Challenge Day program, and created and ran a successful student mediation program as well. These have become the heart of her work as both a YA author and youth activist.

C.G. Watson co-founded Never Counted Out, a non-profit organization that provides books and creative mentorship for students, schools, and youth programs whose access to both books and mentorship is limited. C.G.’s debut novel was Quad (Razorbill, 2007) and her novel Ascending The Boneyard (Simon Pulse, 2016) is re-released today in paperback under a new title, The Absoluteness Of Nothing.