Cynsations Intern: Stephani Eaton on The Joy of Writing

Stephani Eaton, photo by Tanya Odom

By Stephani Eaton

When I was in second grade, I wrote a poem about an impending storm that pleased my dad so much that he hung it in his office. It stayed there for years.

I recently asked if he remembered what it said and he rattled off: “This dark and rainy noon will soon pass the sunset of time.”

I had to laugh at the melodrama of my seven-year-old self.

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New Voice: Adrienne Kisner on Dear Rachel Maddow

By Robin Galbraith
for Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s Cynsations

Adrienne Kisner is a Vermont College of Fine Arts alum and a hilarious fellow classmate, so I jumped at the chance to interview her about her funny and heart-wrenching debut YA novel,  Dear Rachel Maddow (Feiwel & Friends, 2018). From the promotional copy:

Brynn Harper’s life has one steadying force—Rachel Maddow.

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New Voice: Jessie Janowitz on Finding a Literary Agent & The Doughnut Fix

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Jessie Janowitz is the debut author of The Doughnut Fix (Sourcebooks, April 2018). From the promotional copy:

Tristan isn’t Gifted or Talented like his sister Jeanine, and he’s always been okay with that because he can make a perfect chocolate chip cookie and he lives in the greatest city in the world. 


But his life takes a turn for the worse when his parents decide to move to middle-of-nowhere Petersville–a town with one street and no restaurants.

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Guest Post: Agent-Author Tracy Marchini on Page Turns in Picture Books

By Tracy Marchini

I’ve been thinking a lot about page turns in picture books recently, and all of the amazing things they can do, including:

  • Show the passage of time 
  • Create humor 
  • Dictate pacing 

Show the passage of time 

Using page turns to show the passage of time is probably the usage that everybody is familiar with.

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Author-Teacher Interview: Gene Luen Yang on Writing, Teaching & the Hamline MFA Program

Lean more about Cartoonist and Teacher Gene Luen Yang.

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Welcome to Cynsations. We last spoke to Dean Mary Francoise Rockcastle about the Hamline MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults back in 2006.

When did you join the faculty? What appealed to you about teaching in a low-residency program?

I joined the faculty of the Hamline MFAC program in the summer of 2012.

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Guest Post: Ann Jacobus: Critique Group Makes Frances Lee Hall’s Publishing Dream Come True

By Ann Jacobus

It’s an unusual moment when our writing group is in full agreement. But in this case, we knew we had to bring our friend Frances Lee Hall’s wonderful middle grade story to young readers.

The question was how?

Frances Lee Hall

We had all just attended her memorial service. Frances died suddenly on Nov. 26, 2016.

She had also been through hell and high water,

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Author Interview: Bethany Hegedus on Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Just about a year ago, I became a Writing Barn Fellow, which means I serve as a teaching assistant and provide logistical support for classes and workshops.

It also means that I’ve gotten to know author Bethany Hegedus better and I couldn’t pass up the chance to interview her about her new picture book biography, Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, Continue Reading Author Interview: Bethany Hegedus on Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird »

Guest Interview: Author Cheryl Lawton Malone on Elephants Walk Together

By Helen Kampion

Cheryl Lawton Malone is the author of the picture book, Elephants Walk Together, illustrated by Bistra Masseva (Albert Whitman, 2017). From the promotional copy:

As calves, Asian elephants Precious and Baba roam the wild together, curious and proud. 


But when they get captured and are split up, their time together seems like a distant memory. 

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New Voice: Liara Tamani on Calling My Name

By Robin Galbraith

Liara Tamani is the debut author of Calling My Name (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2017). From the promotional copy:

This unforgettable novel tells a universal coming-of-age story about Taja Brown, a young African American girl growing up in Houston, Texas, and it deftly and beautifully explores the universal struggles of growing up, battling family expectations, discovering a sense of self, and finding a unique voice and purpose. Continue Reading New Voice: Liara Tamani on Calling My Name »

Author Interview: Clete Barrett Smith on Writing Challenging Stories & Mr. 60%

By Gayleen Rabakukk

Today we welcome author Clete Barrett Smith, discussing his new novel, Mr. 60% (Penguin Random House, 2017). 

I heard Clete read the opening chapter several years ago for his graduate reading at Vermont College of Fine Arts. It gave me chills, and I’m so happy the book is now out in the world.

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