Cynsational News & Giveaways

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Reminder! 28 Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature
from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “To celebrate children’s authors and
illustrators of color, during the twenty-eight days of Black History
Month, we’ll profile a different artist (each day).'” See Day 4: James (Jim) Haskins, Day 5: Ni-Ni Simone, Day 6: Keith D. Shepherd, Day 7: Nikki Giovanni, Day 8: Tracey Baptiste; Day 9: T.L. Clarke (posts are ongoing). See also Black History Month: a video by Amy Bowllan from Writers Against Racism.

Creating Memorable Characters by Kristina Springer from Author2Author. Peek: “I’ve been researching how to create memorable characters and finding snippets of information that I think would be useful to share.”

Congratulations to Mari Mancusi on the release of the Spanish edition of Stake That

Cynsational Tip: Weigh your sources! Numerous well-written and
well-intended posts on the Web, especially related to the business of
publishing, reflect a limited or inaccurate understanding of the
industry. Make an effort to discern the difference between wishful
thinking, educated guesswork, opinion and fact. Consider the author’s
credentials and experience.

How My Dream Became a Deal
by Melanie Crowder from EMU Debuts. Peek: “I heard that pesky
statistic—the one that says we’re more likely to be struck by lightning
than published. But I kept at it anyway. For years. Because I had
something to say. Many somethings; important somethings. But truly,
truly, I am so grateful that those early stories stayed in their dusty
drawer, that my skills and taste had time to catch up with my dreams.”

Notes from the North
by Leigh Anne Williams from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “With this issue,
we launch a regular column of news from Canadian children’s book
publishers, written by PW’s Canadian correspondent.”

2011 OLA Best Bets for Children and Young Adult from The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Peek: “…selects the top Canadian picture books, fiction and non-fiction for children, and fiction for teens. Books are selected on the basis of their literary merit as well as their appeal to the intended audience. Illustrations are also considered in the case of graphic novels.” Special cheers to Cynsations Canada reporter, Lena Coakley, whose debut novel Witchlanders (Atheneum) made the list!

What Makes a Book Sell from Jill Corcoran Books. Peek: “Be absolutely mindful of every character you choose to put in the book. Why are they there? How do they move the story forward? What is interesting about them that will make a reader care about following them from page to page to page?”

The Best Training to Write for Publication by Laurel Garver from Laurel’s Leaves. Peek: “…accepting and even expecting misery as part of one’s work experience is what separates the pro from the amateur. A pro shows up for the job day after day, even when it’s boring, back-aching, humiliating and gross.” Source: Jennifer R. Hubbard.

Author Interview: Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen by Tom Owens from What’s Right with Children’s Literature? at Children’s Literature Network. Peek: “Picture books are developmentally appropriate for young children, exploring issues that are relevant and important to them, whereas early readers explore the needs of older children—in light of that, how could anyone want to lose the picture book experience?”

Gallery: Li Jian from PaperTigers.org. Peek: “Over the next few weeks we will be focusing on the theme of water in multicultural children’s books… Our first feature is an online gallery of talented artist Li Jian’s work, including illustrations from his first book to be published in English, The Water Dragon (Better Link Press, 2012).”

Graphic Biographies Too Fictional? from Good Comics for Kids at School Library Journal. Peek: “My instinct is that fictionalized dialogue is not enough (in most cases) to invalidate a graphic novel biography. Every biographer makes decisions about what they portray, and how they show their subject’s state of mind, and while they may or may not construct dialog, they do write description and narrative that affects what the readers understand to be true.”

Ethiopia Reads: “…education is the key to improving the lives of the next generation of Ethiopians, a country filled with children, and that books are the key to fostering a genuine love of learning. We invite all who love children and books to join us in the endeavor.” See also 20 Ways to Support Ethiopia Reads.

Marketing and Publicity for Authors Part 2 by Janet Fox from Through the Wardrobe. Peek: “A reader mentioned the press room on my website. This is a wonderful idea I borrowed from other writers. It’s set up so that someone wanting my head shot, cover jpeg, and/or book information can access these easily, with jpegs at different resolutions for different purposes. Newbies: don’t forget your ISBN. My first 1000 bookmarks were missing this vital information.”

Writing + Baby = ? by Leila Austin from YA Highway. Peek: ” I got a week into my maternity leave and made some progress on the draft. And then? Then she arrived, five weeks early.”

Editor Alvina Ling: Personal Journeys Through Publishing from CBC Diversity. See also Editor Nancy Mercado on How I Got Into Publishing. Note: add CBC Diversity to your blog roll.

Reaching Reluctant and Struggling Readers by Paul Greci from Project Mayhem: The Manic Minds of Middle Grade Writers. Peek: “An author friend who is scheduled to speak at a school asked for my input on how to connect with both struggling and reluctant teen readers—the student population I worked with for fifteen years.”

Interview with Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency by Melodie Wright from Forever Rewrighting. Peek: “…the middle grade quest is all about placing that character in a unique world and how he/she reacts to that world in all its weirdness. A middle grade reader may think they know what they’re doing (or then again, maybe not), and then it turns upside down again the very next day.” 

This Week for Writers: Our Favorite Articles and Blog Posts from Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing. Categories include: Book Reviews and Giveaways; Craft; Inspiration and Smiles; Issues, News, Trends, and Congratulations; Social Media, Promotion, and Self-Publishing; To Market. See also a variety of news from A Fuse #8 Production.


Study Writing for Young Readers at Madeline Island School of the Arts

Madeline Island School of the Arts will offering its first class in Writing for Children and Young Adults, taught by award-winning children’s writer Lisa Bullard, from June 11 to June 15.

Madeline Island is surrounded by the Apostle Islands, known for their sea caves, beaches and lighthouses. Highlights of the setting include the natural beauty of Lake Superior, the Island’s miles of rocky and sandy shoreline, and the quiet serenity to be found anywhere on the Island. Madeline Island School of the Arts is located on a meadow surrounded by a forest and is a little over a mile from the Town of La Pointe, Wisconsin. The school includes three large classrooms, gathering areas, comfortable Mission-style cottages for student housing, and studios (open for students 24 hours a day). 

Instructor Lisa Bullard is the author of many books for children, including picture books, chapter books, and nonfiction titles for a range of ages. Her books have won several honors, including a Children’s Choice Award, a Teacher’s Choice Award, a National Parenting Publications Children’s Resources Silver Award, a Science Books and Films Best Books of 2011 listing, and a Storytelling World Awards Honor Title.

Lisa has been a writing teacher for over ten years at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, and is co-founder of Mentors for Rent, a service developed to offer coaching, critiquing, and marketing expertise to children’s book writers. Lisa also brings an insider’s view of the book industry from over 16 years of working as a publishing professional. 

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter for a chance to win:

To enter, comment on this post (click previous 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 “One Cool Friend” in the subject line. Author-sponsored. Eligibility: North America (U.S./Canada). Deadline: midnight CST Feb. 20. See also One Cool Friend Before Breakfast from Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Note: in-depth post features early sketches.

Six-book giveaway! Enter to win one of the following autographed books:

To enter, comment on this post (click previous 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 “Alex Flinn Giveaway” in the subject line. Deadline: Feb. 20. Author sponsored. U.S. entries only.

Last call! Enter to win a copy of Ellen’s Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012). To enter, comment on this post (click previous 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 “Ellen’s Broom” in the subject line. Deadline: Feb. 13. Publisher sponsored. U.S. entries only. See also Kelly Starling Lyons on Ellen’s Broom.

Enter to win a copy of Girl Meets Boy, edited by Kelly Milner Halls (Chronicle, 2012) signed by all of the contributing authors!
To enter, comment on this post (click previous 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 “Girl Meets Boy” in the subject line. Publisher
sponsored. Eligibility: North America. Deadline: midnight CST Feb. 14. 

 
Enter to win ARCs of Partials by Dan Wells (HarperTeen) and Various Positions by Martha Schabas from Tabitha Olson at Writing Musings. Deadline: Feb. 25.

Reminder! Win a Chained Book Club Kit from Lynne Kelly at Making Stuff Up & Writing It Down. Kit includes: 10 hardcover copies of Chained (FSG, 2012), a Chained tote bag, bookmarks and signed bookplates for each member of your class or group, and up to an hour-long Skype visit. Grades 3 to 8. Deadline: May 1. See also YA and Kids Book Giveaways at Young Adult Book Central.

Congratulations to the winners of signed copies of  Bittersweet by Sarah Ocker (Simon Pulse)(excerpt): Sarah in New York; Traci in Oregon; Bri in New Jersey; Ellen in Michigan; Cari in Florida; E. in Virginia; Maggie in California; Jenn in Wyoming; Alison in Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada); and Kara in Pennsylvania.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

Great news! Diabolical is now available from Walker Books Australia and New Zealand!

Greg and Blizzard read “Smolder” aloud for the copy edit.

Author Interview: Cynthia Leitich Smith on Writing a Series by Samantha Clark from Motivation for Writers. Peek: “…a fascinating experience to write scenes literally set in heaven and hell. It forced me to question my own beliefs, what best served the story/characters, and whether there actually might be the equivalent of an atrium hotel outside the Pearly Gates.”

Review: Girl Meets Boy, edited by Kelly Milner Halls, reviewed by E. Kristin Anderson from The Hate-Mongering Tart. Peek: “Most memorable for me is Joseph Bruchac and Cynthia Leitich Smith’s ‘Falling Down to See the Moon’ and ‘Mooning Over Broken Stars,’ respectively, two tales about kids on an Indian reservation: one, a geeky martial arts whiz, and the other a top female athlete, both fairly uncomfortable in their bodies. “

Reminder! Nominations for The Children’s Book Council “2012 Teen Choice Book of the Year” are being accepted on Teenreads.com until Feb. 15. Readers are being asked to list up to five of their favorite books of 2011; the five titles that receive the most votes will become finalists to be entered in a second round of voting. From there, teens will vote again to determine the ultimate winner — the 2012 Teen Choice Book of the Year. Note: Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick/Walker) is a nominee! If you liked the novel, please consider voting for it–along with your other four picks–to reach the finals. See the full list of nominated books. (Remember, write-in titles are still being accepted.) Vote for your favorite books here! Voting eligibility: international. Anyone between the ages of 12 and 18 can vote. Deadline for voting in the nominating round: Feb. 15.

Personal Links:

From GregLSBlog: 

Cynsational Events

My Vicious Valentine: Spine-tingling YA Author Panel, featuring Jordan Dane, P.J. “Tricia” Hoover, Mari Mancusi, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and L.A. Weatherly—moderated by Sean Petrie–will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at BookPeople in Austin. Join us when six top YA authors dish on the devilish, gab about ghosts, and soar with the angels in this panel celebrating spine-tingling stories, supernatural creatures, and perhaps scariest of all, true love.

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith at an Alamosa Books Author Event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 7 in Albuquerque.

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith on March 10 and March 10 at Tuscon Festival of Books. Panels: from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 10 “Blood and Kisses: Paranormal Romance with Courtney Rene and Aprilynne Pike,” followed by signing and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. March 11 “What’s New & Who’s Reading Now? with Janni Lee Simner, R.L. Stine & Aprilynne Pike,” followed by signing.

Mark your calendars for Alex Flinn’s Upcoming Tour.  She’ll be appearing at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville on Feb. 14, at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston Feb. 15, and at Barnes & Noble in Round Rock (Texas) Feb. 16.

Join Greg Leitich Smith at the Chronal Engine Launch Party at 2 p.m. March 24 at BookPeople in Austin. See also the Chronal Engine Activity Guide.

Interested in taking a class with Cynthia this summer? Try the 13 Annual Conference of Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers from June 18 to June 22 in Sandy, Utah; the Southampton Children’s Literature Conference from July 11 to July 15 in Southampton, New York; or the 17th Annual Postgraduate Writing Conference from Aug. 13 to Aug. 19 at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. See more of Cynthia’s upcoming events.

Note: Due to volume, I can’t feature the author/illustrator events of all of my Cynsational readers, but if you’re Austin bound for an appearance here, let me know, and I’ll try to work in a shout out or two. Thanks!

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Enter to win an ARC of Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin: Book 1 by Robin LaFevers (Houghton Mifflin, 2012) from P.J. Hoover at Roots in Myth. Note: Grave Mercy is highly recommended.

Lee & Low Acquires Children’s Book Press by Wendy Werris from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “Children’s Book Press, founded in 1975 by Harriet Rohmer for the specific purpose of creating a line of bilingual and multicultural books, ceased operations at the end of September and has sold its backlist inventory of 90 titles to Lee & Low Books in New York.”

Gantos, Raschka, Whaley: Where They Were When the Award Call Came from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “…three lucky authors got phone calls from the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees, letting each of them know they had won the top prize. And whether they were at home when the call came (in the case of Jack Gantos), in search of a missing cell phone (Chris Raschka), or on the highway heading to Dallas (John Corey Whaley), the messages awaiting them on the other end of the line were life-changing. What was going through their minds when the phone rang? And what did they do next?”

4 Ways to Find the Right Freelance Editor from Jane Friedman. Peek: “A great editor doesn’t need to have a lot of letters after their name, nor do they need to be able to give you a list of New York Times best-selling authors they’ve edited for. But they should have background or experience that makes them suitable to edit the type of work you have.” See recommended children’s-YA freelance editors and writing coaches.

The 28th Annual Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth is scheduled for April 12 and April 13 at the Kent State University Student Center in Ohio. Featured speakers are Alma Flor Ada, Lisa Yee and E.B. Lewis.

Texas Book Bloggers are Rock Stars by Joy Preble from Joy’s Novel Idea. Joy interviews Sourcebooks publicists Derry Wilkens and Kay Mitchell. Peek from Kay: “They are a fantastic group of people as a whole and really lovely as individuals as well. I have an enormous amount of respect for what you all do—especially those of you who also have other jobs, families to take care of, that kind of thing. I bow down to your ability to multitask.” Note: first in a series of interviews with Texas book bloggers. See also Joy with Mundie Moms and Girls in the Stacks, Stephanie Pellegrin and Jen Bigheart, Kristin, Tillie, Amy, Maria Cari Soto, Sarah Evans, and Christin Baker (posts are ongoing).

Celebrate Black History Month with Picture Books by Jennifer Shultz from ALSC Blog. Peek: “Since there are many superb titles that feature the history of African-Americans, let’s chat specifically about picture books for the purposes of this discussion.”

Congratulations to Gwenda Bond on her two-book deal with Strange Chemistry via Jennifer Laughran, of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. The first book, Blackwood, will be one of the imprint’s September 2012 launch titles, with the second following in 2013.

Imagining Multiple Platforms by Mary Kole from Kidlit.com. Peek: “I urge debut writers whose interest lies primarily in landing a print book deal to focus there first. If you try to pitch an idea in too many directions at once (as a magazine, app, TV show, clothing line) without first having any print titles under your belt, agents and editors will think you’re ambitious…and not in a good way.”

Making Her Vision a Reality: Hannah Goodman Launches Edgy YA Sucker Literary Magazine by Mima Tipper from Hen and Ink. Download the free magazine.

The Writing Barn: A Workshop Space that Celebrates Books and Their Creators in Austin, Texas. Available for workshops, overnight stays, and book launches. Owner: children’s-YA author Bethany Hegedus, who also offers private instruction to writers. See also The Top Ten Reasons You Want to Hold Your Next Event at the Writing Barn by P.J. Hoover from Roots in Myth.

What To Do When Your Character Goes to Court by Blythe Leszkay from Writing Mystery is Murder. Peek: “You’re not sure what evidence can or can’t be used in court, or how it should all play out. So, you let a great story idea drop away out of ignorance and fear.”

J.K. Rowling’s Plot Chart for Order of the Phoenix from The Good Stuff. Source: Brooklyn Arden.

Marketing and Publicity for Authors, Part 1 by Janet Fox from Through the Wardrobe. Peek: “Most authors I know do a significant amount of marketing; I know I do. For the next several weeks I’m going to share a few things I’ve learned since the publication of my first book….”

Some Packing Tips for Conferences by Kimmie Poppins from Jess Free Falcon. Peek: “Wear comfortable shoes.  Your fancy shoes should be comfortable and then also bring a really comfortable pair and plan your outfit around them for Sunday–because by then your feet hate you.”

Invention by Brian Yansky from Brian’s Blog: Diary of a Writer. Peek: “…coming up with inventive twists and turns of a story or inventive ideas that propel scenes or give characters a compelling otherness that’s hard to resist as a reader.”

EMU’s Debuts Proudly Presents We’ve Got a Job by Cynthia Levinson by Mike Jung: post traces the book from an agent recommendation by Chris Barton, to signing with Erin Murphy, to acquisitions at Peachtree. Peek from Erin: “The Civil Rights era and its major players have been covered so much in children’s literature, and here was a brand-new take with the most kid-interesting window that I could dare to imagine. This was a book that could change kids’ lives.” See also The Heroes of Birmingham by Lynda Mullaly Hunt from EMU’s Debuts.

17th Annual Postgraduate Writers’ Conference from Aug. 13 to Aug. 19 at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Join Cynthia Leitich Smith and Tim Wynne-Jones in studying the YA novel.

Congratulations to author-illustrator Divya Srinivasan on signing with agent Ty King at Writer’s House at Writer’s House, and congratulations to Ty on signing Divya! See a Cynsations interview with Divya.

Marketing Your Digital Book: What’s the Plan? from e is for book. Featuring How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets to Create a Bestseller by Katie Davis. Peek: “The book’s tone is lighthearted and conversational while the content is comprehensive and well-organized. There are many, many tips from the various author/illustrator/librarian/blogger contributors plus links galore to a huge variety of resources.” Giveaway deadline: midnight Feb. 3. See also the list of Katie’s other tour stops for more chances to win.

Big Sur Writing Workshops for Children’s Books from Picture Books Through Young Adult Fiction will be March 2 to March 4 in Seaside/Monterey. Faculty includes editor Lisa Yoskowitz of Hyperion, editor Sharyn November of Viking, editor Julie Romeis of Chronicle, authors Catherine Ryan Hyde and Eric J. Adams, and the eight agents of Andrea Brown Literary. Source: Literary Rambles.

CBC Diversity: new blog. Peek: “The CBC Diversity Committee is dedicated to increasing the diversity of voices and experiences contributing to children’s literature. To create this change, the Committee strives to build awareness that the nature of our society must be represented within the children’s publishing industry. We endeavor to encourage diversity of race, gender, geographical origin, sexual orientation, and class among both the creators of and the topics addressed by children’s literature. We strive for a more diverse range of employees working within the industry, of authors and illustrators creating inspiring content, and of characters depicted in children’s literature.”

Challenge, Counter, Controvert: Subverting Expectations by Uma Krishnaswami from Write at Your Own Risk. Peek: “I’m writing this from India where continuum and contradiction are present in tandem: Republic Day flag-buntings and traditional rice-flour kolam on thresholds and sidewalks, the whir of ceiling fans and the shrieking of tropical birds at daybreak. Here, controverting meaning is part of daily life.”

For Crying Out Loud by Mary Kole from Kidlit.com. Peek: “I don’t much like to see crying for crying’s sake. There are manuscripts I’ve read that have characters screaming, raging, crying, laughing, and every other powerful emotion in between. But they fail to strike a chord. Why? Because rather than seeing those external displays of emotion, I’d rather know the exact thoughts that bring those tears about.”

Party 2 p.m. March 24 at BookPeople!

Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Black Henry Activity Guide: features discussion questions, activities, writing exercise, word search, cryptogram, and word scramble.

Reminder: Submit a Photo of Yourself with a Dinosaur to Greg Leitich Smith to take part in his series of blog posts featuring children’s-YA authors, illustrators, and other members of the community (booksellers, teachers, publicists, etc.) with dinosaurs to promote your books or other bookish pursuits and in celebration of Greg’s upcoming release, Chronal Engine (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012). Note: it doesn’t have to be an actual, living dinosaur…because that would be challenging. See examples.

28 Days Later: A Black History Month Celebration of Children’s Literature from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: “To celebrate children’s authors and illustrators of color, during the twenty-eight days of Black History Month we’ll profile a different artist (each day). Vanguard artists are those who have paved the way for newer authors and illustrators, all others are considered ‘under the radar.'” See Day 1: Kwame Alexander, Day 2: Denise Lewis Patrick, Day 3: Noni Carter (posts are ongoing).

Ending Well by Christine Kohler from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “Editors say to end stories organically. What does that mean? It does not mean is to sum up the story or project into the future. To end organically means the ending should grow out of the heart of the story in a natural way.”

Using Selective Visual Details to Power Your Story by Martina from Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing. Peek: “…picking details that your character can relate to, helps our readers relate to our characters.”

Is All This Hard Work Ever Going to Pay Off? from Jody Hedlund: Author & Speaker. Peek: “Yes, keep climbing, but we need to learn to enjoy each step as it comes, celebrate the small accomplishments, and find joy in the process of creating.” Source: Phil Giunta.

Cynsational Giveaways

Last call! Enter to win a Diabolical giveaway! The grand prize includes:

Runner-Up Prizes

  • one of two signed hardcover copies of Tantalize
  • one of two signed hardcover copies of Eternal
  • one of two signed hardcover copies of Blessed

To enter, comment on this post (click the previous 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 “Diabolical giveaway” in the subject line.  Everyone will be entered for every prize unless otherwise specified. If you have, say, an earlier book in the series and don’t want another copy, please just say so! (In the alternative, you could plan to gift one to a friend or a local school/public library.) Author-sponsored. Eligibility: international. Deadline: Feb. 8.

Enter to win a copy of Ellen’s Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012). To enter, comment on this post (click previous 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 “Ellen’s Broom” in the subject line. Deadline: Feb. 13. Publisher sponsored. U.S. entries only. See also Kelly Starling Lyons on Ellen’s Broom.

Inkies Extravaganza Book Giveaway from the Enchanted Inkpot. Three prize packages of eight books each. Hurry! The winner will be announced Feb. 4. Note: please change your subscriptions/blog rolls to the Inkies new URL.

Win a Chained Book Club Kit from Lynne Kelly at Making Stuff Up & Writing It Down. Kit includes: 10 hardcover copies of Chained (FSG, 2012), a Chained tote bag, bookmarks and signed bookplates for each member of your class or group, and up to an hour-long Skype visit. Grades 3 to 8. Deadline: May 1.

Winners of the Tantalize series bookmark/postcard/bling/iTunes giveaway are Terri in Oklahoma, Rachel in Bedfordshire (U.K.), Artemis in Athens (Greece), Lysette in California, Laurisa in California, Jamie in Oregon, Jenn in Wyoming, and Deena in New York, Alishia in Western Australia, Perla in California, Tayte in Illinois, Mera in Maryland, Tina in Georgia, and Vivien in Kansas.

The winner of signed copies of Love? Maybe. (Dial, 2012) and The Cupcake Queen (Dutton, 2009, 2010), both by Heather Hepler, and various nifty sweet treats is Candace in Virginia, and the runner-up is Lisa in Florida.

This Week’s Cynsations Posts

More Personally

Flowers from my mom and stepdad in celebration of Diabolical!

Wow! January 2012 was the all-time highest traffic month at Cynsations, beating the second-highest month, August 2009! Thank you so much for your ongoing enthusiasm and support! I’m honored!

Great news! Smolder is off to my Candlewick editor. I look forward to receiving notes from her next week and revising from there. New deadline: end of February!

Contributor copies of Girl Meets Boy!

Diabolical is the Prep School from Hell — Literally by M.K. from Popcorn Reads. Peek: “Yes, this is a YA novel…however, it’s more of a story about resolve, determination and finding the strength to stand up and be counted. For that reason, it will appeal to folks of all ages. …I think you are really going to enjoy Diabolical!”

Sonja Somerville of The Salem (Oregon) Statesman Journal says of Blessed: “Lighthearted and genuinely funny, Quincie and her posse are interesting characters to know.” Note: Sonja also is the Salem Public Library teen librarian.

Book Reviews & More says of Tantalize: Kieren’s Story: “Ming Doyle has captured the essence of the shifter world that Cynthia has created in her previous three novels. The story is well told in word and art. It was a good read and added to the story we already know and love. Well done.”

Book Reviews & More says of “Haunted Love,” a free e-book short story: “…you will love the story as it just adds to her cannon and we can’t help but wonder who the mysterious inline seller of the energy elixir is. For those who have yet to read her works, it will draw you in. Her writings, in this world she created, are very addictive.”

Thanks to Victoria Scott for this shot from Barnes & Noble in Dallas.

Nominations for The Children’s Book Council “2012 Teen Choice Book of the Year” are being accepted on Teenreads.com until Feb. 15. Readers are being asked to list up to five of their favorite books of 2011; the five titles that receive the most votes will become finalists to be entered in a second round of voting. From there, teens will vote again to determine the ultimate winner — the 2012 Teen Choice Book of the Year. Note: Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick/Walker) is a nominee! If you liked the novel, please consider voting for it–along with your other four picks–to reach the finals. See the full list of nominated books. (Remember, write-in titles are still being accepted.) Vote for your favorite books here! Voting eligibility: international. Anyone between the ages of 12 and 18 can vote. Deadline for voting in the nominating round: Feb. 15.

Personal Links:

From Greg Leitich Smith:

Cynsational Events

My Vicious Valentine: Spine-tingling YA Author Panel, featuring Jordan Dane, P.J. “Tricia” Hoover, Mari Mancusi, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and L.A. Weatherly—moderated by Sean Petrie–will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at BookPeople in Austin. Join us when six top YA authors dish on the devilish, gab about ghosts, and soar with the angels in this panel celebrating spine-tingling stories, supernatural creatures, and perhaps scariest of all, true love.

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith at an Alamosa Books Author Event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 7 in Albuquerque.

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith on March 10 and March 10 at Tuscon Festival of Books. Panels: from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 10 “Blood and Kisses: Paranormal Romance with Courtney Rene and Aprilynne Pike,” followed by signing and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. March 11 “What’s New & Who’s Reading Now? with Janni Lee Simner, R.L. Stine & Aprilynne Pike,” followed by signing.

Mark your calendars for Alex Flinn’s Upcoming Tour.  She’ll be appearing at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville on Feb. 14, at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston Feb. 15, and at Barnes & Noble in Round Rock (Texas) Feb. 16.

Join Greg Leitich Smith at the Chronal Engine Launch Party at 2 p.m. March 24 at BookPeople in Austin. See also the Chronal Engine Activity Guide.

See Cynthia’s upcoming events in Sandy (Utah), Bastrop (Texas), Southampton (New York), and Montpelier (Vermont), among others. Note: Due to volume, I can’t feature the author/illustrator events of all of my Cynsational readers, but if you’re Austin bound for an appearance here, let me know, and I’ll try to work in a shout out or two. Thanks!

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

The Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature have been announced.

In the Picture Book category, the winner was The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China by Ed Young (Little, Brown), and the honor book was Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min (Lee & Low).

In the Children’s Literature category, the winner was The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang (Scholastic), and the honor book was Vanished by Sheela Chari (Hyperion).

In the Young Adult category, the winner was Orchards by Holly Thompson (Delacorte), and the honor book was Level Up by Gene Luen Yang (First Second).

For author insights, see New Voice: Sheela Chari on Vanished and Holly Thompson on the Perfect Setting and Orchards. 

More News & Giveaways

Poetry: A Messy Business from Sharon Darrow. Peek: “What would happen if the wind blew in and swooped up all our carefully ordered pages, tossed them to the ceiling, some even blowing away through the open window, and rearranged those left into a joyful chaos? How would we cope? What treasures might we find?”

The Promise of the Novel by Mary Kole from Kidlit.com. Peek: “If something reads contemporary realistic for enough pages to make me think that it’s a contemporary realistic novel, don’t toss dragons at me on page 25. My expectations have gelled. I am settling into your tale. I don’t want to suddenly discover that I’ll be reading high fantasy.”

Do You Need Social Media Interaction? by Angela Ackerman from The Bookshelf Muse. Peek: “Running yourself ragged is not the solution. Quitting a platform you worked so hard to build is not the solution. Change is.” See also The Fine Art of Zipping It, or XYZ PDQ by Jennifer Laughran from Jennifer Represents.

Twenty Years Strong from The Brown Bookshelf: United in Story. Peek: “On Saturday, Feb. 4, Philadelphia’s African American Children’s Book Fair turns 20. It’s a milestone that means a lot to founder Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati.”

Placing Too Much Importance on Passion from Jane Friedman. Peek: “As long as we do work that feels satisfying—that complements our personal values and strengths—we can all do just fine, especially if we have relationships that are also fulfilling and satisfying.”

Questions about Power in Stories and Storytelling by Mitali Perkins from Mitali’s Fire Escape. Two lists of questions to consider before/as you write.

Inspiration and Writing Anyway from Kate Messner. Peek: “Have you ever noticed that we don’t ask this question of people with too many other jobs?  I didn’t ask my mail carrier how she got inspired to deliver the mail today, nor do I ask my husband how he gets inspired to figure out the weather forecast.” See also Kate on The Fine Art of Faking It.

“Rotters” by Daniel Kraus, narrated by Kirby Heyborne (Listening Library) is the 2012 Odyssey Award winner. See Daniel Kraus on Why Do You Write Such Dark YA Fiction? from Cynsations. Peek: “It has already been called by one taste-maker as the most ‘adult’ book ever published as YA, and is certainly in the running for the darkest.”

2012 Amelia Bloomer Celebrates Feminist Perspective in Books for Young Readers from the American Library Association. See the complete annotated list. See Amelia Bloomer top 10 author Julie Chibbaro on Navigating The Past Through Real Stories.

Ghetto Cowboy,” by G. Neri and narrated by J.D. Jackson (Brilliance Audio) is a 2012 Odyssey honor book.  See G. Neri On The Trail to Ghetto Cowboy from Cynsations. Peek: “By getting boys interested in raising a horse rather than killing another human being, these cowboys gave the youth something positive: father figures, focus, and the ability to stand tall.”

Hungry for More About the Hunger Games? A Q&A with Amandla Stenberg (aka Rue) by Karen Springen from Publishers Weekly. Peek: “I had a little wreath of flowers in my pocket that I thought Rue might have. That was in my pocket as good luck, and also a special rock.”

When to Quit Querying and Self-Publish by Samantha Clark from Motivation for Writers. Peek: “Rejections to query letters could mean a number of things: the query isn’t strong enough, the writing isn’t good enough, the story isn’t interesting enough, the characters aren’t developed enough. Let’s face it, plenty of us have sent out queries for a book we thought was ready only to look at it later and think it wasn’t.”

Karen Schreck and Katherine Grace Bond interview Leah Hultenschmidt of Sourcebooks from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “The ‘we publish authors not books’ often comes down to career planning. When we sign an author, we want to work with her over a number of different books. We want to launch her (or relaunch her) and build her audience.”

Writing Easy Readers – Or How to Get Second Graders to Love You by Dotti Enderle from Trust Me…I’m a Writer. A few tips from the author of a dozen early reader chapter books.

2012 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Note: special congrats to fellow Austinite Chris Barton on the inclusion of Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities, illustrated by Paul Hoppe (Dial, 2011)! See Chris on Unbridled Silliness and Carefully Researched Truth Telling.

Catching Your World on Paper by Danielle Leafty from QueryTracker.net. Peek: “World building, in it’s most basic form, is the process by which an author takes the story as it is in his or her mind and carefully reconstructs it on the page.”

Discussion and Activity Guides: an interview with Debbie Gonzales from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “…any way we can make our books appealing to gatekeepers – teachers, booksellers, librarians, parents – the better. Guides demonstrate the academic soundness of your book to the educator. They show gatekeepers that you’ve taken their needs to heart and want to help make their lives a little easier.”

A Book Rejected 23 Times? What Impact Could It Have? Check out this video featuring Mitali Perkins from the Highlights Foundation. Learn about Mitali‘s upcoming workshop, Creating an Authentic Cultural Voice, with Donna Jo Napoli and special guests Kathryn Eskine and Alvina Ling, which will take place April 26 to April 29. Peek: “Through impeccable research, imagination, empathy, and experience, a true cultural voice can be achieved.” See also upcoming Highlights Workshops on Nature Writing and Science Writing.

List of Selected Illustrators for the Illustrators Exhibition 2012 at Bologna Children’s Book Fair. See also Selected Images.

Genre Display Signing for Libraries by Naomi Bates from YA Books and More. Don’t miss part two.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine) by Jonathan Maberry from Crowe’s Nest. Peek: “…four separate aspects to the genre. They are pre-Apocalyptic, Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian. Over the last six years I’ve written variations of all four. And I’m a happy guy. I don’t shovel down anti-depressants and writing this stuff isn’t a cry for help.”

Editorial Palavering: Martha Mihalick, Editor at Greenwillow/HarperColllins by Cheryl Klein from Brooklyn Arden. Peek: “…I’m very attracted to stories that involve significant–often heartwrenching–choices for the characters. And ones with strong friendship or sibling themes.” Check out Cheryl’s book, Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults.

When Dad Came Back by Gary Soto (University Press of New England) at facebook. Note: Gary’s first e-only book for young adults. See Jo Ellen Misakian Interviews Author Gary Soto on His New Books, Writing and the Gary Soto Museum.

12 x 12 in 2012: Picture Book Writing Challenge from Julie Hedlund: Write Up My Life.  Peek: “Twelve complete picture book drafts. Twelve months.  2012.  Are you with me?” Sign-up deadline: Jan. 29.

Getting the Glory: A Note about Awards by Kathi Appelt from Write at Your Own Risk. Peek: “What I I think is that we’re all in search of glory. But let me just say that glory comes in many sizes.  Some days it ends with a small ‘be,’ and that’s enough.  When I say ‘glory be’ out loud it reminds me of the joy and wonder that I experience at the end of a well-formed sentence—both my own and others.” See also Musings About Awards by Teri Lesesne from professornana.

See also Our Favorite Articles and Blog Posts from Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing.

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win a Diabolical giveaway! The grand prize includes:

Note: Tantalize series logos designed by Gene Brenek; see the whole selection at Sanguini’s at CafePress.

Runner-Up Prizes

  • one of two signed hardcover copies of Tantalize
  • one of two signed hardcover copies of Eternal
  • one of two signed hardcover copies of Blessed

To enter, comment on this post (click the previous 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 “Diabolical giveaway” in the subject line.  Everyone will be entered for every prize unless otherwise specified. If you have, say, an earlier book in the series and don’t want another copy, please just say so! (In the alternative, you could plan to gift one to a friend or a local school/public library.) Author-sponsored. Eligibility: international. Deadline: Feb. 8.

Looking for another chance to win? Check out this Diabolical Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith & Giveaway by Jen Bigheart from I Read Banned Books.

Grand Prize! Enter for a chance to win:

A runner-up will receive signed copy of Love? Maybe. And sweet treats.

To enter, comment on this post (click the previous 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 “Love? Maybe.” in the subject line. Author-sponsored. Eligibility: North America (U.S./Canada). Deadline: midnight CST Jan. 31.

Plus three $15 iTunes Gift Cards!

Enter to win an author-signed Tantalize: Kieren’s Story postcard, Tantalize: Kieren’s Story bookmark or Diabolical bookmark! Up to 20 total! Plus, the occasional Tantalize series button or bat stickers or nifty surprise! And three lucky winners will receive a $15 iTunes gift card!

Teachers, librarians and book clubs also may enter to win one of five sets of 10 Tantalize: Kieren’s Story bookmarks or one of three sets of five Diabolical bookmarks!

Please indicate your related affiliation in your entry. I.e., Suzy Q, school librarian, Austin Independent School District. To enter, comment on this post (click the previous 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 “Tantalize Series Bling” in the subject line. Author-sponsored. Eligibility: international. Deadline: midnight CST Feb. 1.

More Giveaways

Last call! Enter to win an ARC of Article 5 by Kristen Simmons (Tor, 2012) and The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (Margaret K. McElderry, 2011) from Tabitha at Writer Musings. Winner will be announced Jan. 28. Note: learn more about Article 5 and The Pledge.

Last call! Interview with Caroline Starr Rose and May B. Giveaway by Literary Rambles. Peek: “…I learned from that disastrous manuscript that regardless of the history, the story had to belong to the character; I couldn’t beat historical facts into my readers’ heads. I went into May B. trusting that if I kept my protagonist’s perspective and understanding of her world, enough history would organically seep in.” Deadline: midnight, Jan. 28.

Reminder: Jean Reidy is celebrating cabin-fever creativity and the release of her latest picture book Too Princessy!, illustrated by Geneviève Leloup (Bloomsbury, 2012) by hosting a Boredom Buster Blog – chock full of rainy day ideas from parents, teachers, caregivers, babysitters, writers and other folks like you. Send in your favorite ideas and be entered to win one of five prizes, including a $100 bookseller gift card and autographed books. The drawing will be Feb. 29.

This Week’s Cynsations Posts

Austin Scene

Photo courtesy of Jeanette Larson.

Highlights of the week included Carolyn Mackler and Jay Asher event Monday night at BookPeople in Austin. They gave a terrific joint presentation on their new release, The Future of Us (Razorbill, 2011), and are highly recommended as speakers.

More Personally

Look for Diabolical at The Book Spot in Round Rock, Texas.

Diabolical is now available from Candlewick Press! Check out the giveaway (above) as well as buzz and upcoming events (below). Any efforts to help spread the word will be hugely appreciated.

Congratulations to the winners and honorees of the 2012 ALA Youth Media Awards. I was especially excited to see Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories, edited by Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall (HarperCollins, 2011) on the 2012 Rainbow List. The book includes my essay, “Isolation.” Note: awards coverage is ongoing and will continue next week.

Are you a fan of school libraries? Are you based in the U.S.? Please consider signing this White House petition to help ensure every child in America has access to an effective school library program. Please also share this link with fellow enthusiasts. Thank you!

Welcome Cynthia Leitich Smith and Diabolical from Joy Preble at Joy’s Novel Idea. Note: an in-depth interview about creating a diversity of work, writing as a career, balance (or lack thereof), a typical day, a double-author marriage, and more! Peek: “Be especially sure to read outside of your comfort zone. Creating art is all about thriving, innovating amidst uncertainly and chaos; reading books that challenge you is a smart way to steel yourself.”

Diabolical Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith & Giveaway by Jen Bigheart from I Read Banned Books. Note: reflections on the Tantalize series, settings, and my favorite “devils.” Peek: “…more imagination went into developing the Penultimate, which is located outside the Pearly Gates. It basically functions as a receiving/reunion area and lobby lounge with temporary housing and business offices of the angels.”

Nominations for The Children’s Book Council “2012 Teen Choice Book of the Year” are being accepted on Teenreads.com until Feb. 15. Readers are being asked to list up to five of their favorite books of 2011; the five titles that receive the most votes will become finalists to be entered in a second round of voting. From there, teens will vote again to determine the ultimate winner — the 2012 Teen Choice Book of the Year. Note: Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick/Walker) is a nominee! If you liked the novel, please consider voting for it–along with your other four picks–to reach the finals. See the full list of nominated books. (Remember, write-in titles are still being accepted.) Vote for your favorite books here! Voting eligibility: international. Anyone between the ages of 12 and 18 can vote. Deadline for voting in the nominating round: Feb. 15.

Into the Mystic says of Blessed: “This is my favorite book in this series so far!  I loved the way she brought the characters from the 2 books together and then blended that world so seamlessly with Bram Stoker!  It was a stroke of brilliance!”

Into the Mystic says of Diabolical: “Holy hot trips to Hell!!!  This book was great!  This story was very original, very fast-paced, very engaging and very witty!”

Jen Bigheart at I Read Banned Books says of Diabolical: “He {Zachary} tries his best to follow the rules, but when the ish hits the fan at the boarding school, he follows his own heart. A fast paced paranormal full of magic, mystery, and mayhem!”

Two Writing Teachers says of Diabolical: “It’s a fictitious world, and yet I found myself lost in the story. She made me care about the characters. She made me believe in the evil and trust good would triumph in the end. Her craft is tight and I found myself rereading to see how she could pack so much power in just a few words.”

Midnight Reads says of of Diabolical: “There are some excellent twists in the plot and fab new characters, especially Vesper and Nigel, and the relationships between Miranda and Zachary and Quincie and Kieren are as sweet as ever. The final battle in the story is nail-biting and more than one characters life is on the line which makes for an exciting ending.”

Personal Links:

From Greg Leitich Smith:

RE Greg Leitich Smith:

Cynsational Events

My Vicious Valentine: Spine-tingling YA Author Panel, featuring Jordan Dane, P.J. “Tricia” Hoover, Mari Mancusi, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and L.A. Weatherly—moderated by Sean Petrie–will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at BookPeople in Austin. Join us when six top YA authors dish on the devilish, gab about ghosts, and soar with the angels in this panel celebrating spine-tingling stories, supernatural creatures, and perhaps scariest of all, true love.

See Cynthia’s upcoming events in Albuquerque, Tucson, Sandy (Utah), Southampton (New York), and Montpelier (Vermont).

Mark your calendars for Alex Flinn’s Upcoming Tour.  She’ll be appearing at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville on Feb. 14, at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston Feb. 15, and at Barnes & Noble in Round Rock (Texas) Feb. 16.

Note: Due to volume, I can’t feature the author/illustrator events of all of my Cynsational readers, but if you’re Austin bound for an appearance here, let me know, and I’ll try to work in a shout out or two. Thanks!

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

2012 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction by Roger Sutton from The Horn Book. Peek: “…goes to Jack Gantos for Dead End in Norvelt, published by Farrar Straus Giroux. The award, created by Scott O’Dell and Zena Sutherland in 1982 and now administered by Elizabeth Hall, carries with it a prize of $5000, and goes to the author of a distinguished work of historical fiction for young people, published by a U.S. publisher; and set in South, Central, or North America.” See more awards news below.

Micro-level Revision by Paul Greci from Project Mayhem: From the Manic Minds of Middle-Grade Authors. Peek: “I read it out loud—multiple times. If my characters are making faces or moving in other ways while they speak I act these things out to see how they look and how they feel.”

From Sketch to Final Art: I’m Bored by Debbie Ridpath Ohi from Pixel Shavings. Peek: “They loved the monster hat on the girl. We decided to make the girl’s mouth look more interesting; Justin and Laurent suggested making it look a bit more like the monster’s, maybe echoing the shape.”

YA Market Ripe for Digital by Caroline Horn from The Bookseller. Peek: “While children’s e-book sales saw a marked rise during the Christmas period, they remain a “very small” part of the overall children’s market, said Simon & Schuster Children’s publisher Ingrid Selberg. Selberg pointed to the young adult market as the obvious digital growth area in 2012.” Note: U.K. market. Source: ACHOCKABLOG.

Weaving in Symbolism by Stina Lindblatt from Seeing Creative. Peek: “For example, if the scene takes place in a room with green walls, you won’t be thinking that the director wanted to reveal the subtext of life. But you can guarantee someone behind the scenes purposely picked that color because of what it symbolized and not because it was her favorite color.”

Poetry Friday Roundups from Kidlitosphere Central. Peek: “Each week, a blogger is tasked with rounding up the Poetry Friday posts around the blogosphere. Here are links to the bloggers who will be taking on that task in the weeks ahead, as well as links to past round-up posts.”

Three Ways to Handle Time in a Novel by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: “Setting details are a great way to make these time periods clear: is the sun or the moon rising? Are there Christmas ornaments on the street lights or are the daffodils just peeking out of the soil?”

Writing Q&A: Using the Insanity Defense in Your Story by Leslie Budewitz from QueryTracker.net. Peek: “The underlying premise is that a person cannot be held responsible for criminal behavior if mental illness prevented him from understanding that his actions were wrong. This inquiry focuses on the defendant’s mental status at the time of the crime.”

Author-Illustrator Interview: Joyce Wan by Tarie from Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind. Peek: “I work mostly in the digital medium so I’m usually on my computer. I’ll use my light table for the concept stages of developing a book and for creating book dummies. Hanging on the wall behind my desk is my inspiration board where I pin up printouts of stuff I’m working on, postcards, photographs, quotes, scraps of paper, fabric – anything I find that resonates with me. I think it’s really important to create a space for yourself that nurtures your creative spirit.”

Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer/Owls See Clearly at Night by Julie Flett (Simply Read): recommendation by Debbie Reese from American Indians in Children’s Literature. Peek: “Flett is Metis. Her language, Michif, has prominence in the book. For example, on the ‘A’ page, she’s got the letter ‘A’ and ‘Atayookee!’ Beneath ‘Atayookee’ is the phrase ‘Tell a story’, which is what Atayookee means.”

YA Houston: Houston area authors writing for teens. Includes Crystal Allen; Dotti Enderle; C.C. Hunter; Sophie Jordan; Lynne Kelly; Mary Lindsey; Christina Mandelski; Jenny Moss; and Joy Preble.

Submit a Photo of Yourself with a Dinosaur to Greg Leitich Smith to take part in his series of blog posts featuring children’s-YA authors, illustrators, and other members of the community (booksellers, teachers, publicists, etc.) with dinosaurs to promote your books or other bookish pursuits and in celebration of Greg’s upcoming release, Chronal Engine (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012). Note: it doesn’t have to be an actual, living dinosaur…because that would be challenging. See examples.

Vermont College of Fine Arts Writers in Residency: Q&A with Libba Bray by Tami Lewis Brown from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Ultimately, it comes down to, as always, doing your due diligence of finding out who your characters are, finding the heart and the humanity. Be an observer of the world–can you just imagine how something feels? It always gets back to human nature.”

New Covers and Black Heart Excerpt from Holly Black. Peek: “This has proven to be a tricky series to find the right jackets for, and I am really excited by this new direction. It was described to me as the sort of cover that might go on a very modern edition of The Great Gatsby, and I think that’s a fantastic way of looking at them.”

Cynsational Author Tip: create an author vitae, listing your books and other published writing, publishers, awards and honors, significant speaking engagements, teaching experience, judging experience, professional affiliations, and education. Keep it updated.

Skype! Skype! Skype! An Interview with Laurel Snyder by Greg Pincus from The Happy Accident. Peek: “…last year when I saw author Laurel Snyder announce that she was going to do 100 Skype visits in 100 days along with her book launch, I thought it was a fantastic, if exhausting sounding, idea. Now that the visits are over, I asked Laurel a few questions about the experience – the logistics, what she learned, how it did (or didn’t) help her and her book.”

Diversity Matters: A Q&A with Debut Author Ellie Daines from Tracy tall tales & short stories. Peek: “With literature, sometimes a book is presented in the media as being say, a Muslim story or an African story, when essentially it’s a universal story which we can all relate to it, no matter what race or social background we come from.”

Author-illustrated Keith Graves: Ace Kids’ Yarn Spinner by Mark G. Mitchell from How to Be a Children’s Book Illustrator. Peek: “Reviewers have used words like ‘zany,’ ‘quirky,’ ‘twisted’ and ‘rowdy’ to describe his pictures and stories that are also just plain funny and kid-friendly.”

The Value Rubric: Do Book Bloggers Really Matter? by Beth Kephart from Publishing Perspectives. Peek: “Book blogging takes time. And while some bloggers have certainly found ways to monetize their efforts (a move that is not without its own complex controversies), a substantial number of the bloggers are still doing what they do for the simple love of books, and for the chance to turn someone’s head toward a story they have loved.”

2012 American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards to be Announced Jan. 23 from PaperTigers. Peek: “The ALA will host a live Webcast from the Dallas Convention Center begining at 7:30 a.m. CT, Jan. 23. Virtual seating will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Information will also be posted to the ALA Twitter account @alayma and Facebook account.”

All the World Loves Marla Frazee from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: “Marla…sees illustrative work as, partly, a type of ‘product’ – involving decisions with regards front cover design, font, layout, size, and format. These aspects have a commercial component inherent in the illustrator’s work: they implicate the book’s marketing possibilities, and where the book may be placed on the bookstore’s shelf.” Note: with regard to Marla’s recent stint as illustrator-in-residence at Vermont College of Fine Arts program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

The 2012 Edgar Nominees in the Best Juvenile and Young Adult Categories from the Mystery Writers of America. Juvenile: Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M’Lady Luggertuck’s Corset by Tom Angleberger (Abrams – Amulet); It Happened on a Train by Mac Barnett (Simon & Schuster); Vanished by Sheela Chari (Hyperion); Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (Scholastic); The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey (Egmont); and YA: Shelter: A Mickey Bolitar Novel by Harlan Coben (G.P. Putnam’s Sons); The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (G.P. Putnam’s Sons); The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall (Knopf); The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines (Roaring Brook); and Kill You Last by Todd Strasser (Egmont).

2012 Sydney Taylor Book Awards Announced by the Association of Jewish Libraries. Michael J. Rosen and Robert Sabuda, author and artist of Chanukah Lights (Candlewick, 2011), Susan Goldman Rubin, author of Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein (Charlesbridge, 2011), and Robert Sharenow, author of The Berlin Boxing Club (HarperTeen, 2011), are the 2012 winners of the prestigious Sydney Taylor Book Award. The awards were announced at the mid-winter meeting of the School, Synagogue and Community Center Division of the Association of Jewish Libraries.

An Interview with Melodie Wright (A QueryTracker Success Story) on signing with agent Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency from QueryTracker.net. Peek: “I checked Literary Rambles religiously and only queried agents who specifically said they wanted YA mystery either on their L.R. profile or on their agency web site. I also looked over their client list and tried to read excerpts of books to get a feel for what kind of writing those agents favored.”

See also more links for writers from Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing.

Highlights Foundation Workshop

Founders Workshop: Making the Web Work for You from March 4 to March 8.

Peek: “It takes more than a stellar book to make an impact in today’s publishing climate. Media promotion (through websites, blogs, social media, social cataloging, Skype, and podcasts) is integral to successfully launching a children’s book and a writing career!

“Join our team of social marketing gurus, Laurina Cashin and Bobbie Combs, We Love Children’s Books consulting firm; Lindsey Leavitt, Princess for Hire series; and Katie Davis, host of the podcast, Brain Burps About Books, for a workshop guaranteed to improve your social savvy on the web.

“For those just starting out, learn about website design and innovative, painless marketing techniques. For those ready to take self-promotion to the next level, receive guidance in gaining an audience, establishing a brand, and developing a book launch that gets noticed.

“All participants will learn about integrating technology into school visits, how to establish guidelines with publishers for promotion, and opportunities for social networking beyond Facebook.”

Special guests: Jules Danielson (Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast) and Paul Chrichton (Director of Publicity for Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing).

Bobbie Combs, co-creator of We Love Children’s Books, says: “Gone are the days when authors and illustrators would ask ‘Do I need a website?’  Now it’s unthinkable that a professional would not have a website (or a blogsite, Facebook page, or other web presence.)  It’s not enough, though, to create your site and just let it be.  We’ll discuss updating your site (how often?) to keep it relevant, marketing your site to connect you with the larger children’s book community on the web and give you tips for analyzing your site traffic, maximizing the ‘reach’ of your site and making your site content sparkle.”

See more upcoming Foundation Workshops.

Cynsational Giveaways

Grand Prize! Enter for a chance to win:

A runner-up will receive signed copy of Love? Maybe. And sweet treats.

To enter, comment on this post (click the previous 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 “Love? Maybe.” in the subject line. Author-sponsored. Eligibility: North America (U.S./Canada). Deadline: midnight CST Jan. 31.

Plus three $15 iTunes Gift Cards!

Enter to win an author-signed Tantalize: Kieren’s Story postcard, Tantalize: Kieren’s Story bookmark or Diabolical bookmark! Up to 20 total! Plus, the occasional Tantalize series button or bat stickers or nifty surprise! And three lucky winners will receive a $15 iTunes gift card!

Teachers, librarians and book clubs also may enter to win one of five sets of 10 Tantalize: Kieren’s Story bookmarks or one of three sets of five Diabolical bookmarks!

Please indicate your related affiliation in your entry. I.e., Suzy Q, school librarian, Austin Independent School District. To enter, comment on this post (click the previous 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 “Tantalize Series Bling” in the subject line. Author-sponsored. Eligibility: international. Deadline: midnight CST Feb. 1.

Last Call! Enter to win one of ten signed copies of Bittersweet by Sarah Ocker (Simon Pulse)(excerpt)! To enter, comment on this post (click the previous 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 “Bittersweet” in the subject line.

If you include in your comment a thought on the video at that link, you’ll receive two extra entries! Publisher-sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. Deadline: midnight CST Jan. 23.

More Giveaways

Last call! Enter to win an ARC of Touched by Cyn Balog (Delacorte, Aug. 14, 2012) from The B-log Blog. Peek: “Nick Cross always listens to the voice in his head. Because if he doesn’t? Things can go really, really wrong. Like the day he decided to go off script and saved a girl from being run over…and let another one drown. Trying to change the future doesn’t work. But this summer at the Jersey Shore, something’s about to happen that Nick never could have predicted. He meets a girl named Taryn and finds out about the Book of Touch. Now the path that he thought he was on begins to shift…and there’s no way to stop things from happening. Or is there? In a life where there are no surprises, nothing has prepared Nick for what he’s about to discover–or the choice he will be forced to make…” Deadline: midnight EST Jan. 20.

Interview with Caroline Starr Rose and May B. Giveaway by Literary Rambles. Peek: “…I learned from that disastrous manuscript that regardless of the history, the story had to belong to the character; I couldn’t beat historical facts into my readers’ heads. I went into May B. trusting that if I kept my protagonist’s perspective and understanding of her world, enough history would organically seep in.” Deadline: midnight, Jan. 28.

Interview with Barney Saltzberg & Book Giveaway by April Halprin Wayland from Teaching Authors. Peek: “In my school visits I talk about a dog of ours who was accidentally locked in my studio. She attempted to climb out the window and stepped all over an illustration I had finished. I thought the artwork was ruined. After careful reflection, I found I could turn each paw print into a cloud.” Enter to win Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg (Workman, 2010) from Teaching Authors. Deadline: 11 p.m. CST Jan. 25.

Last Call! Canterwood Crest Initiation Giveaway from Jessica Burkhart. Grand prize includes a 20-minute Skype session or phone call with the author. Deadline: 11:59 EST Jan. 20. Eligibility: U.S. only.

Reminder: Enter to win an ARC of Article 5 by Kristen Simmons (Tor, 2012) and The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (Margaret K. McElderry, 2011) from Tabitha at Writer Musings. Winner will be announced Jan. 28. Note: learn more about Article 5 and The Pledge.

Reminder: Jean Reidy is celebrating cabin-fever creativity and the release of her latest picture book Too Princessy!, illustrated by Geneviève Leloup (Bloomsbury, 2012) by hosting a Boredom Buster Blog – chock full of rainy day ideas from parents, teachers, caregivers, babysitters, writers and other folks like you. Send in your favorite ideas and be entered to win one of five prizes, including a $100 bookseller gift card and autographed books. The drawing will be Feb. 29.

Facebook Contest: Grand Prize: Free School or Library Visit by Jan Brett to Anywhere in the World from PR Web. Enter at Jan’s facebook page. Deadline: April 9. Source: ACHUKA.

This Week’s Cynsations Posts

Cynsational Screening Room

Check out the book trailer for Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani (HarperTeen, 2012). Source: YA Books Central.

How Do I Make a Book Trailer? by Hazel Mitchell from Along the Right Lines. See also (below) the book trailer Hidden New Jersey (Mackinac Island Press).

Just for fun… For those of you who’re members of the Vermont College of Fine Arts program in Writing for Children and Young Adults community, the explanation behind this video is self-evident. For our friends, it’s traditional for upcoming graduating classes to name themselves and then announce that name at the residencies. With that in mind, presenting, the VCFA WC&YA class of Jan. 2013…. Source: Through the Tollbooth.

More Personally

My most enthusiastic congratulations to 2012 winter graduating class of the Vermont College of Fine Arts program in Writing for Children and Young Adults! Please keep in touch, and know that I’m your forever fan.

This week has been quiet, filled with writing as I close in on the end-of-the-month deadline for Smolder. With that in mind, please hold off on any non-critical questions, pitches or event correspondence until February–thanks!

What else? Because “Joyful Noise” wasn’t at the Alamo Drafthouse Austin, my husband Greg and I made the hike to the the pricy but plush iPic Theaters at the The Domain. (I had to see it–my whole Dolly Parton fan-girl thing!) I had shrimp, mozzarella & complimentary popcorn, seated in an extended recliner with a pillow and blanket.

Great service, and yes, I kept thinking that Marie Antoinette would consider the whole experience wildly indulgent. Really.

As for the movie, great for families with older kids, extraordinarily wholesome, the mildly “edgy” parts somehow made it seem more so. I loved it.

Having fun at ALA? Stop by the Candlewick Press booth to sign up for a Where’s Waldo 25th Anniversary Giveaway (prize includes a gift pack, Waldo books, and a standee) and/or to pick up a spring 2012 galley — like Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith!

On a related note, look for Diabolical (Candlewick, Jan. 24, 2012) among “GL’s Books We’re Crushing On” in the Feb./March 2012 issue of Girl’s Life Magazine! Source: Vivian Lee Mahoney.

Book Chic says of Diabolical: “Overall, just a fabulous book with an action-filled plotline and an amazing climax with some sweet romance as well. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!”

Mingey House Blog says of Diabolical: “You don’t have to read all the other books to understand it or love the book; in general it was just fantastic! Most of the things you might not understand she explains in good detail that’s not too long. It is also a decent length, and the way it is put together is just perfect.”

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Barry Gott from Julie Hedlunch – Write Up My Life. Peek: “This book has fantastic voice (as a book named Holler Loudly should).”

Personal Links:

From Greg Leitich Smith:

Re: Greg Leitich Smith:

Cynsational Events

My Vicious Valentine: Spine-tingling YA Author Panel, featuring Jordan Dane, P.J. “Tricia” Hoover, Mari Mancusi, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and L.A. Weatherly—moderated by Sean Petrie–will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at BookPeople in Austin. Join us when six top YA authors dish on the devilish, gab about ghosts, and soar with the angels in this panel celebrating spine-tingling stories, supernatural creatures, and perhaps scariest of all, true love.

See Cynthia’s upcoming events in Albuquerque, Tucson, Sandy (Utah), Southampton (New York), and Montpelier (Vermont).

Mark your calendars for Alex Flinn’s Upcoming Tour.  She’ll be appearing at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville on Feb. 14, at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston Feb. 15, and at Barnes & Noble in Round Rock (Texas) Feb. 16.

Note: Due to volume, I can’t feature the author/illustrator events of all of my Cynsational readers, but if you’re Austin bound for an appearance here, let me know, and I’ll try to work in a shout out or two. Thanks!

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Cover Stories: Untraceable by S.R. Johannes from Melissa Walker. Insights from S.R. and Vania, the photographer. Peek from S.R.: “We wanted to use a real life model. I think stock photos are great but to me – we wanted that feeling of being in the woods. Of Grace hiding, and I think Vania got that. There is nothing like an original artwork.”

Character Traits: Wounded by Becca Puglisi from The Bookshelf Muse. See sidebar for much more.

Rgz Salon: Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. by Medeia Sharif (Flux): reviewed by Lyn Miller-Lachmann from readergirlz. Peek: “The author, of Kurdish and Muslim heritage, offers a portrayal that is both realistic and humorous. The experience of being caught between family rules and pressures on the one hand and the drama of peers on the other is one to which readers of all cultural backgrounds can relate.”

Read a Sample Chapter of See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles from Candlewick Press. Release date: May 2012.

Interview with Maria Modugno, Vice President and Editorial Director of HarperCollins Children’s Books, from Picture This! A Daily Guide to Picture Book Writing with Rob Sanders, Children’s Author. Peek: “When you publish a new book in a picture book series, you are giving the consumer something that is both tried and true and new.” Don’t miss the continuing interview in part 2, part 3, and part 4. Source: Jill Corcoran.

Interview with Diane Muldrow, Editorial Director of Golden Books/Random House, from Picture This! A Daily Guide to Picture Book Writing with Rob Sanders, Children’s Author. Peek: “A picture book is usually a read-aloud, so it has to be written in a way that will have a sort of musicality when read aloud. A picture book needs to have an emotional resonance, too. Or be really funny. It should—artfully—lead us to feel something, teach us something, or show us something in a new way…” Don’t miss the continuing interview in part two and part three. Source: Jill Corcoran.

Q & A with Andrea Pinkney of Scholastic, editor of Allen Say’s Drawing from Memory from PaperTigers Blog. Peek: “He is known by many for his work as a brilliant picture book creator, and Caldecott medallist. But in this book, Allen extends his talent to create a stunning work that is part memoir, part graphic novel, part narrative history.”

U.K. Publisher Tamarind Books Seeks Quality, Multicultural Manuscripts by Caroline Horn from The Bookseller. Peek: “‘Authors themselves don’t need to come from a mixed community—although that can work well—but I am essentially looking for strong stories and a good mix of ages,’ said Bavishi. ‘It has to be a beautiful story—not a focus on the fact that the main character is not middle-class or white.'” Source: ACHUKA.

Cynsational Author Tip: if possible, mention your publisher’s name whenever sharing information about your books online. It makes it easier for prospective readers/buyers to find out more and follow up from there.

To Do Well in Life, You Have to Read Well: an audio interview with Walter Dean Myers from National Public Radio.

Daniel Abraham’s Private Letter from Genre to Literature from SF Signal. Peek: “I read through the collections of your most honored short stories, and what do I see? Fantasy, mystery, ghost stories, romance. How often you refresh yourself at my springs. I wonder whether your contempt might hide something deeper. Fear perhaps, that you might be less without me as I am less without you.” More on Daniel Abraham. Source: April Henry.

2010 U.S. Population Data Compared with Books By and About Color from Mitali Perkins at Mitali’s Fire Escape. Peek: “…a table we compiled in my month-long course on “Race, Culture, and Power in Children’s Books” at Saint Mary’s College of California.”

Rushing Toward that Dream? Wait. by Yahong Chi from Project Mayhem from The Manic Minds of Middle Grade Writers. Yahong asks authors Kate Messner, Jonathan Auxier, and Stephen Messer what they miss from their days as unagented, unpublished writers. Peek from Jonathan: “…before I had a book in the world, I had no real sense of my audience. Audience was an abstract idea that couldn’t be pinned down and had little say in my storytelling.”

Online Gallery Featuring the Art of Ed Young from PaperTigers. Peek: “Ed has illustrated more than 80 books, nearly half of which he also wrote. His versatility and the imaginative mixing of media in his art, as well as his artistic sensitivity towards each new book, have reaped him many awards, including the Caldecott Medal for Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China (Philomel, 1989) and two Caldecott Honors for The Emperor and the Kite (Philomel, 1967) and Seven Blind Mice (Philomel, 1992), based on the classic Indian story of the blind men and the elephant.”

The Pen Name is Mightier by Jan Fields from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “An author may use a pen name if his/her real name is too much like another author or celebrity. It can be hard to stand out as yourself if your real name is a close match like Steven King or Jan Yolen. It’s even harder if it’s exactly the same as the famous author. If the author is less famous, the introduction of your middle initial or a variant on your first name may be enough to stand out.”

Video Interview: Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham from Good Comics for Kids at School Library Journal. Filmed at San Diego International Comic-Con.

SCBWI Pre-Conference Interview with Author/Illustrator John Rocco by Lee Wind from I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?  John talks about how he approaches illustrating a cover, how his stories involve in terms of art and text, portraying diversity, and portfolio tips. Peek: “…make sure the work all looks like it came from the same person’s hand. It is okay to have more than one style, just make sure you separate those styles in different sections of your portfolio.”

By Kimberly Pauley (Tu Books, April 1)

Publishing Interview: Stacy Whitman, editor at Tu Books (Lee and Low) by Stephanie S. Kuehn from YA Highway. Peek: “I’ve been looking for an Asian steampunk for about a year now. Get on it, writers! I’d also love to see strong stories for middle grade girls, a voice that’s sometimes hard to get right. I’d love to see unique settings, inspired by real-world cultures but creating new fantasy worlds.” See also Beyond Orcs & Elves: Stacy Whitman on Writing Cross-Culturally by Susan J. Morris from Omnivoracious.

Video Interview with U.K. Debut Author Jasmine Richards from Tall Tales and Short Stories. Peek: “Jasmine talks about her debut novel, The Book of Wonders, and what it’s like to be on the other side of the publishing desk as an author, instead of in her usual role as a Senior Commissioning (Children’s Fiction) Editor at OUP (Oxford University Press).”

Writing Exercise: Give Your Character Something to Hold by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: “…look for an object around your house, something you can pick up and hold. It might be a camera, a needle and thread, a baseball glove, a salt shaker, a frying pan, a hair dryer, a favorite book–anything.”

National Jewish Book Awards announced by the Jewish Book Council. The winner in the Children’s and Young Adult Literature category is Deadly: How Do You Catch an Invisible Killer? by Julie Chibbaro (Atheneum), and the finalists are In the Face of Evil by Tema N. Merback (Friesen Press); To Hope and Back: The Voyage of St. Louis by Kathy Kacer (Second Story); and Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin (Charlesbridge). The Louis Posner Memorial Award for Illustrated Children’s Book goes to The Golem’s Latkes, adapted by Eric A. Kimmel; illustrated by Aaron Jasinski (Marshall Cavendish), and the finalists are Lipman Pike, America’s First Home Run King by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Zachary Pullen (Sleeping Bear); and Marcel Marceau, Master of Mime by Gloria Spielman, illustrated by Manon Gauthier (Kar-Ben). Source: The Whole Megillah.

Our Favorite Articles and Blog Posts from Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing.

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win one of ten signed copies of Bittersweet by Sarah Ocker (Simon Pulse)(excerpt)! To enter, comment on this post (click the previous 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 “Bittersweet” in the subject line. If you include in your comment a thought on the video at that link, you’ll receive two extra entries! Good luck! Publisher-sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. Deadline: midnight CST Jan. 23.

Enter to win an ARC of Article 5 by Kristen Simmons (Tor, 2012) and The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (Margaret K. McElderry, 2011) from Tabitha at Writer Musings. Winner will be announced Jan. 28. Note: learn more about Article 5 and The Pledge.

Enter to win an ARC of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Harper, 2011) from P.J. Hoover at Roots in Myth. Peek: “…a super-fast read with tons of action and adventure and a healthy dose of dystopia and sci-fi.” Note: post includes book trailer.

Jean Reidy is celebrating cabin-fever creativity and the release of her latest picture book Too Princessy!, illustrated by Geneviève Leloup (Bloomsbury, 2012) by hosting a Boredom Buster Blog – chock full of rainy day ideas from parents, teachers, caregivers, babysitters, writers and other folks like you. Send in your favorite ideas and be entered to win one of five prizes, including a $100 bookseller gift card and autographed books. For every idea you submit before January 15th, you’ll be entered five times in the drawing for prizes. For every idea submitted after January 15th, you’ll be entered once. The drawing will be Feb. 29.

Facebook Contest: Grand Prize: Free School or Library Visit by Jan Brett to Anywhere in the World from PR Web. Enter at Jan’s facebook page. Deadline: April 9. Source: ACHUKA.

Reminder: join Kelly Starling Lyons on her blog tour, celebrating the release of Ellen’s Broom, illustrated by Daniel Minter (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012), and comment on Kelly’s blog, her facebook author page, or any of her blog stops for a chance to win a wedding/anniversary broom courtesy of Stuart’s Creations and a signed poster of the Ellen’s Broom cover. Deadline: the a.m. of Jan. 16. Eligibility: U.S. only. See also Celebrating Us: Children’s Books About Weddings by Kelly Starling Lyons from The Brown Bookshelf.

Reminder: Canterwood Crest Initiation Giveaway from Jessica Burkhart. Grand prize includes a 20-minute Skype session or phone call with the author. Deadline: 11:59 EST Jan. 20. Eligibility: U.S. only.

This Week’s Cynsations Posts:

Contributors include Cynthia Leitich Smith.

    Cynsational Screening Room

    The Joy of Books by Type Book Store (883 Queen Street West) in Toronto. Source: Jon Gibbs.

    Behind the Scenes with Illustrator Matt Tavares from Tavares Books. Note: “A short video about the making of Lady Liberty: A Biography, a picture book written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares, published by Candlewick Press (2008).”

    Author Holly Cupala on the “Dear Bully” Anthology and her latest Young Adult Novel, Don’t Breathe A Word (HarperCollins) from Lee Wind at I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?

    More Personally

    What an honor to see my official author website, including Children’s & YA Lit Resources and Goodies for Writers at www.cynthialeitichsmith.com, recognized among Great Websites for Kids by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association!

    The ALA cheers my site not only for its information of my own work but also my pages on multiculturalism and speculative fiction. See listing.

    Thanks to my web designer, Lisa Firke, for her ongoing contributions to the success of the site!

    After an hour, I found Blizzard in the laundry basket.

    What else? My very cute husband (and sometimes co-author) Greg Leitich Smith and I have exchanged our most recent manuscripts. Mine is due to my Candlewick editor at the end of the month, and his is a first draft.

    I had to drop out of critique groups to teach at Vermont College of Fine Arts. (I couldn’t read regularly for eight, plus, other novelists), so Greg is my only early reader these days.

    We’ll sit down on Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon to discuss, and I’m excited to both check out his latest and soak up his feedback.

    Greg’s next novel, Chronal Engine (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), will be out in March.

    Cynthia Leitich Smith: Back Again with Another Bestseller by from Kids’ Ebook Bestsellers. Interview focuses on e-publishing, marketing, audience, and tech v. print accessibility issues for young readers. Note: “Haunted Love” is now available from Candlewick Press for free download via major online retailers. The story features new characters but is set in the Tantalize series universe. Thanks to everyone who helped make “Haunted Love” a Books on Board bestseller!

    Author copies of Diabolical are in the house!

    More Fantastic Books for Older Readers by Cynthia K. Ritter from The Horn Book. The highlighted four titles include Diabolical (Candlewick/Walker, 2012). Peek: “The Harry Potter–worthy final battle between good and evil — with a welcome dose of devilish humor added in — make this installment an expertly woven narrative, bringing new readers up to speed while satisfying invested fans with a happily-ever-after ending.”

    P.J. Hoover at Roots in Myth says of Diabolical (Candlewick/Walker, 2012):  “…what really dawned on me in Diabolical is how absolutely awesome her two main guy characters really are. Steam comes off the pages in this one.” Note: Diabolical will be released Jan. 24.

    My first author copy of Blessed in paperback!

    Samantha Boyette says of Blessed (Candlewick/Walker, 2011): “Quincie has a spine and some personality… I mean sure, she still does crazy things to be with this guy, but she also runs a restaurant and has other friends too. She is a well-rounded character who happens to be in love.” Note: Blessed will be available in paperback on Valentine’s Day.

    In support of No Name-Calling Week, look for Dear Bully, edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones (HarperCollins, 2011) in the adult section (with the parenting books) this month at your local Barnes & Noble. Note: the anthology includes my essay, “Isolation.”

    Looking for signed copies of the Tantalize series books (Candlewick/Walker, 2007-) or Holler Loudly, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton, 2010)? Try my local independent bookstore, BookPeople in Austin, Texas. Note: the BookPeople children’s-YA department also has signed copies of Ninjas, Piranhas and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith (Little, Brown).

    Personal Links:

    From Greg Leitich Smith:

    Cynsational Events

    Brian Yansky will be presenting “Getting Organized” at 10 a.m. Jan. 14 on the second floor at BookPeople in conjunction with Austin SCBWI. “Brian will be sharing his secrets of success regarding how to keep all of the loose ends of crafting a manuscript in control while attempting to balance a busy everyday life.” Note: the chapter will offer an open critique group at 11 a.m., and then members Tim Crow, Lynne Hoenig, and Bonnie Crow will report on the Story Masters Workshop, featuring Chris Vogler, James Scott Bell, and Donald Maass at 1 p.m.

    Vicious Valentine: a YA fantasy celebration, featuring authors Jordan Dane, P.J. “Tricia” Hoover, Mari Mancusi, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and L.A. Weatherly—moderated by Sean Petrie–will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at BookPeople in Austin. Whether you love love, hate it or fear it, be there for spooky cool refreshments and scary bookish fun!

    See Cynthia’s upcoming events in Albuquerque, Tucson, Sandy (Utah), Southampton (New York), and Montpelier (Vermont).

    Mark your calendars for Alex Flinn’s Upcoming Tour.  She’ll be appearing at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville on Feb. 14, at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston Feb. 15, and at Barnes & Noble in Round Rock (Texas) Feb. 16.