Friday, December 22, 2006

Cynsational News & Links

Many joyous wishes to Cynsations readers!

I'm signing off for a few days, but will check back in around the new year. Thanks to all for your readership and support.

Santa Knows: a recommendation by Liz B of A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy. Liz says: "I love his [Alfie's] determination to prove what he knows to be true; and how that also becomes his insistence that what he believes is something everyone should believe." Read the whole review.

Thanks to Debbi Michiko Florence for linking to my list of Cynsational Books of 2006. Don't miss Debbi's 2006 reading list!

More News & Links

If You Had a Nose Like an Elephant's Trunk by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Susan Winter (Holiday House, 2001) will be featured on the Martha Stewart Living Radio "Kidstuff" segment on Body Image. Tune in to Sirius Satellite 112 on Dec. 26, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. According to Holiday House, "Martha Stewart Living Radio's KidStuff is a two-three minute segment whose target audience is parents of children ages 3-12. It features up to six books associated with the topic of the show." The segment will be aired several times throughout the week. Read a Cynsations interview with Marion Dane Bauer.

childrensauthornetwork: "a community of acclaimed children's book authors and illustrators." The authors add: "We promote literacy and the enjoyment of quality books. Through lively presentations we inspire children to read, write, and grow creatively."

Anastasia Suen's Blog Central is newly updated. Check out the latest on agents & editors, artists, authors, and children's and YA literature. Read a Cynsations interview with Anastasia.

Take a sneak peek at Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw (Bloomsbury, 2007).

Cynsational Books of 2006

Cynsational Picture Book

An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long (Chronicle)(author and illustrator interview).

Honors

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Hyperion)(illustrator interview)

This Is The Stable by Cynthia Cotten, illustrated by Delana Bettoli (Henry Holt)(author interview)

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Candlewick)(author interview)

Noteworthy

Ballet of the Elephants by Leda Schubert, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker (Roaring Brook)(author interview)

Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Jamel Akib (Lee & Low)(recommendation)

Casey at the Bat by Ernest L. Thayer, illustrated by Joe Morse (Kids Can Press/KCP Poetry)(illustrator interview)

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges (Cinco Puntos)(recommendation)

Dear Fish by Chris Gall (Little Brown)(recommendation)

Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Neal Layton (Candlewick)(recommendation)

Los Gatos Black on Halloween by Marisa Montes, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Henry Holt)(author-illustrator interviews)

Mrs. Crump's Cat by Linda Smith, illustrated by David Roberts (HarperCollins)(recommendation)

Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt (Kids Can)(interview)

The True Story of Stellina by Matteo Pericoli (Knopf)(interview)


Cynsational Middle Grade

Rules by Cynthia Lord (Scholastic)(interview)

Honors

Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos (Atheneum)(interview)(recommendation)

Long Gone Daddy by Helen Hemphill (Front Street)(interview)

Noteworthy

All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall (Little Brown)(interview)

Free Baseball by Sue Corbett (Dutton)(interview)(recommendation)

Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown (Tricycle Press)(interview)

Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee (Wendy Lamb)(interview)


Cynsational Tween Novel

Shug by Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster)(recommendation)

Honors

Archer's Quest by Linda Sue Park (Clarion)(interview)

Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) by Justina Chen Headley (Little Brown)(interview)

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm (Random House)(recommendation)


Cynsational Young Adult

Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper (Atheneum)

Honors

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone (Wendy Lamb)(interview)

Good Girls by Laura Ruby (HarperCollins)(interview)

Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss (Deborah Brodie/Roaring Brook)(interview)

Noteworthy

Bleed by Laurie Faria Stolarz (Hyperion)(interview)

Blind Faith by Ellen Wittlinger (Simon & Schuster)(interview)

Eva Underground by Dandi Daley Mackall (Harcourt)(interview)

How It's Done by Christine Kole MacLean (Flux)(interview)

The Queen of Cool by Cecil Castellucci (Candlewick)(interview)

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine (HarperCollins)(interview)

Freaks: Alive on the Inside by Annette Curtis Klause (Simon & Schuster)(interview)

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin (Dial)(interview)

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley and Heather Helper (Dutton)(interview)

Wait for Me by An Na (Putnam)(recommendation)

The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus (Candlewick)

What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles (Little Brown)(interview)(recommendation)


Cynsational Notes

See also those 2006 authors and titles highlighted in Cynsations interviews. Please also note that my 2006 title is Santa Knows, co-authored by Greg Leitich Smith (Dutton, 2006), and while it's obviously not eligible here, I'd like to cheer illustrator Steve Bjorkman's illustrations.

Likewise, my Candlewick editor, Deborah Noyes Wayshak, has a wonderful 2006 non-fiction release, One Kingdom: Our Lives With Animals (Houghton Mifflin), which also is not eligible for similar reasons, but is highly recommended. Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah.

My "in" stack of 2006 books is still a tall one. As in previous years, I'll continue reading these titles as the new releases arrive.

Thank you to all the authors and illustrators of 2006 for a wonderful year in books!

Cynsational News & Links

Thanks...

to Rosie's Little Book World: Your guide on the internet to the best modern girl litterature (or chick-lit, if you will) for recommending my recent interview with Sarah Dessen.

to Carrie Jones and A Fuse #8 Production for recommending my author/illustrator interviews of 2006.

to Blogging Baby for recommending the Great Hanukkah Books for Kids List.

to the Ann Arbor District Library for recommending my interview with authors Brad Barkely and Heather Hepler.

More News & Links

From Page to Screen: Gary Winick's "Charlotte's Web" by Melinda R. Cordell from The Horn Book.

Read an excerpt of Ironside by Holly Black at Holly Black, No Longer Dry Like A Martini. Read a Cynsations interview with Holly.

Gail Giles at The YA Novel and Me chimes in on Surrender by Sonya Hartnett (Candlewick, 2006)(excerpt) and The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos (FSG, 2006)(audio excerpt). Read a Cynsations interview with Gail.

Walter M. Mayes (AKA Walter the Giant) lists his upcoming seminar cities and dates. Walter is presenting "The Best YA Books of the Decade."

Watch the trailer for The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). See also "blowups" (arguments); Burp! Recipe of the Week; send a postcard; solve this week's math problem; and check out the Biz of the Week (how kids are making money).

See Sara Ryan's literary kitty! Also check out her first and second podcasts.

Mo Willems Doodles: Sketches, Works-in-Progress, Blobs.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Author/Illustrator Interviews of 2006

A

"The biggest challenge was reformatting the story from a traditional chapter book into the wacky format it ended up in. My editor told me I had to cut the word count from 7000 words to 4000, but the story was pretty lean to begin with and there just wasn't a lot of room for cuts."

--Brian Anderson, author of the Zack Proton series (Aladdin, 2006-)

Dianna Hutts Aston; Anjali Banerjee; Brad Barkley

B

"I enjoy doing these small books. I have a reductionist mind. Whatever I'm dealing with, I tend to take to its simplest, most succinct form. In some situations that isn't necessarily good. But if you need to take a body of complex information and present it to the very young, it is an essential skill."

--Marion Dane Bauer, author of Grand Canyon and Niagra Falls from the Wonders of America series (Aladdin, 2006)

Margaret Bechard; Susan Taylor Brown; Marina Budhos; Anne Bustard; Toni Buzzeo; Lee Merrill Byrd

C

"Growing up in the 'Judy Blume' era of children’s literature, I remember it really bothered me as a kid to read about situations in which there wasn’t an adult around, noticing at least out of the corner of their eye what was going on. It didn’t seem realistic. So I try to suggest that there are grown-ups out there who can help even when it doesn’t seem like it."

--Esme Raji Codell; author of Vive La Paris (Hyperion, 2006)

Rachel Caine; Lori M. Carlson; Cecil Castellucci; Cinda Williams Chima; Sue Corbett; Cynthia Cotten; Doug Cushman

D

"I was really intrigued with the idea of appearances, and the assumptions we make based on them. When I was in high school, I was always really envious of those girls who seemed to have everything: the perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect boyfriend, perfect life. It wasn't until I was older that I realized that nobody's life is perfect, and that those girls probably had a lot of the same problems I did."

--Sarah Dessen, author of Just Listen (Viking, 2006)

Sharon Darrow; Barbara Dee; Shirley Smith Duke; Kathy Duval

E

"When I received Mary's first sketches, I couldn't stop smiling. Her Estelle wasn't at all the way I’d pictured her; I immediately liked hers better."

--Jill Esbaum, author of Estelle Takes a Bath (Henry Holt, 2006)

F

"All seven books in the series are published by Writers Exchange E-Publishing using the FlipBook system. This means that each one looks like a book, and kids can hear the pages as they 'flip' over--totally cool!"

--Margot Finke, the author of a series of educational e-books about U.S. and Aussie animals

G

"Well, I don't know anything about what it's like to be a child prodigy, since I wasn't all that smart and wasn't a very good student, either. So I did have to read a lot of books about child prodigies. Also, there is some math in the book (note: you don't have to like math to like 'Katherines'), and I am really bad at math, so that was tremendously difficult. Also, Colin speaks 11 languages, and I speak one, so that was time-consuming."

--John Green, author of An Abundance of Katherines (Dutton, 2006)

Gail Giles; Amy Butler Greenfield; Lila Guzman

H

"Actually, the novel is based on a true story. Late one night, some friends sat around swapping stories about adolescence, and someone began telling a wild tale about living in a funeral home the night his grandfather died."

--Helen Hemphill, author of Long Gone Daddy (Front Street, 2006)

Lynn E. Hazen; Justina Chen Headley; Heather Hepler; Esther Hershenhorn; Ellen Howard

K

"My father was interned in that camp. The other reason has to do with my belief that it is not just the sharing of values but the sharing of this amazing land that makes us Americans. So I wanted to write about how two groups of people sharing a land can change the world."

--Cynthia Kadohata, author of Weedflower (Atheneum, 2006)

Susan B. Katz; Annette Curtis Klause; Michelle Knudsen; Amy Goldman Koss; Jane Kurtz; Laura McGee Kvasnosky

L

"A lot of my books deal with Chinese culture because, in a way, I'm trying to find the culture I lost. When I was younger, I was ashamed or sometimes even angry about being Chinese. Most of the time I forgot that I was Chinese. Sometimes I would see myself in the mirror and be surprised to see a Chinese girl looking back at me."

--Grace Lin, author of The Year of the Dog (Little Brown, 2006)

Justine Larbalestier; Julie Larios; R.L. LaFevers; David LaRochelle; Carolyn Lehman; Gail Carson Levine; J. Patrick Lewis; Sylvia Long; D. Anne Love; Cynthia Lord; Michelle Lord

M

"Certainly they [vampires] are frightening and deadly, but the are also alluring. They have attributes we envy, such as eternal youth. They are often attractive, rich, powerful, and educated. They sometimes wear tuxes and live in castles. The paradox there makes them hard to resist, at least as subjects for stories."

--Stephenie Meyer, author of New Moon (Little Brown, 2006)

Dandi Daley Mackall; Christine Kole MacLean; Harry Mazer; Laura Williams McCaffrey; Marisa Montes; Joe Morse; Don Mitchell; Yuyi Morales

N

"This is a 120-something-page book that began as a picture-book proposal, which says how drastically it's evolved. My editor drove the project from the beginning. She was enthusiastic about the photos and, as I fed her sections of text, encouraged me to dig deeper and let it grow."

--Deborah Noyes, author of One Kingdom: Our Lives With Animals (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

Kadir Nelson

O

"Now that our two sons are grown, I realized that my most cherished memories as a mom revolved around that bedtime routine when the boys were very small. I wanted to write a story that would capture both the warm, loving moments and the silly, funny things we shared together night after night."

--Diane Ochiltree, author of Lull-A-Bye, Little One (Putnam, 2006)

Anna Olswanger

P

"I can still remember the jaw-dropping sight when he opened the door: the entire room was filled with giant rainbow-colored pyramids. They were suspended from the lights and lined up along the windowsills and bookshelves. It was a magical, almost gravity-defying sight."

--Shelley Pearsall, author of All of the Above (Little Brown, 2006)

Lisa Papademetriou; Linda Sue Park; Marlene Perez; Sara Rojo Perez; Matteo Pericoli

Q

"Most of my inspiration now comes from my own writing. There might be a secondary character or theme in a novel that I want to explore further. Most of my novels are in some fashion linked to each other."

--Marsha Qualey, author of Just Like That (Dial, 2005)

R

"Ela was chosen to play the role of the Cat in the children's opera 'Brundibar' that was performed at Terezin 55 times. To this day whenever it's performed anywhere in the world she's invited to attend and sing the final Victory March with the children who perform."

--Susan Goldman Rubin, co-author of The Cat With The Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin, also by Ela Weissberger (Holiday House, 2006)

Douglas Rees; Phyllis Root; Laura Ruby; Laura Ruby

S

"There was so much I wanted to ask my mom--more than ever before. So the immediate inspiration for Dream Journal was becoming a mother and finding that I needed to talk to a mother (albeit a fictional one) in the most profound way possible. The more long-term inspiration was, of course, my old friend and enemy, Loss. Ultimately I just wanted to write the book I wished I could have read when I was a teen, and that I still needed to read as an adult."

--Karen Halvorsen Schreck, author of Dream Journal (Hyperion, 2006)

April Pulley Sayre; Lola M. Schaefer; Leda Schubert; Melissa R. Schorr; Heidi E.Y. Stemple; Tanya Lee Stone; Laurie Faria Stolarz

T

"The idea behind the story is Cyrano-inspired. We knew we wanted one character helping another to spark a romance, only to get sucked further into it than he originally intended. Then there was the gay-straight twist layered onto that. Then there was the idea that two characters (and two authors) should tell the story."

--Chris Tebbetts, co-author of M or F?, also by Lisa Papademetriou (Razorbill, 2005).

Don Tate

W

"I've always loved fantasy novels, but my favorites have been the ones where the hero leaves this world for another. It's not only the discovery, it's also the fact that when you first enter a new world (or school or city), nobody knows who you are yet, and you can break out of any mold in which people have placed you in the past. No longer are you Megan, the plain tomboy. Now, you're a sword-wielding heroine!"

--Jo Whittemore, author of Escape from Arylon (Book One from the Silverskin Legacy)(Llewellyn/Flux, 2006)

Melanie Watt; Nancy Werlin; Scott Westerfeld; Lisa Wheeler; Lori Aurelia Williams; Rita Williams-Garcia; Tim Wynne-Jones

Y

"My grandmother told me a story about the Bardin Booger when I was little. This is my hometown's version of the Bigfoot legend, and I've heard about sightings since then in the marshy forests that separate the small towns and cities of North Florida."

--Roxyanne Young, co-author of Tales of the Cryptids: Mysterious Creatures That May Or May Not Exist, also by Kelly Milner Halls (author interview) and illustrator Rick Spears (Darby Creek, 2006).

Z

"I have file drawers full of stuff I've written that will forever languish in a dusty dark purgatory. It's frustrating, but I have to keep in mind that not everything I create will have a published future. Sometimes we write just to flex our mental muscles and shape our individual style."

--Jennifer Ziegler, author of Alpha Dog (Delacorte, 2006)

Sara Zarr

Cynsational Notes

Interviews with Justine Larbalestier, Sara Rojo Perez, Scott Westerfeld, and Doug Cushman were offered in conjunction with SCBWI Bologna 2006.

See also Publishing Interviews of 2006!

Thanks to all of those above for sharing their thoughts!

Cynsational News & Links

One Writer's Process: Shelley Pearsall from Wordswimmer. Read a Cynsations interview with Shelley.

Read interviews with poets Joyce Sidman and Tanya Lee Stone at author Tracie Vaughn Zimmer's Poetry House. Look for Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer (Bloomsbury, 2007). Read a Cynsations interview with Tanya.

Texas Institute of Letters Calls for Entries for Works Published in 2006: see necessary qualifications and entry guidelines. Awards in both children's and YA are given.

Truth, Fiction, and Spaces In Between by Uma Krishnaswami at Writing with a Broken Tusk. Read my recommendation of Uma's Bringing Asha Home (Lee & Low, 2006) and a Cynsations interview with Uma.

When Getting Ready to Write, Sharpen Your Pencil by Mark Miller of the L.A. Times.

Who's Moving Where? News and Editorial Changes at Children's Book Publishers from Harold Underdown at The Purple Crayon. Check out the latest updates for November-December.

Winter Eyes: Poems and Paintings: Children's Poetry Books about Winter by Elizabeth Kennedy at childrensbooks.about.com.

The Writers' League of Texas 2007 Agents and Editors Conference will be held June 15 to June 17 at the Austin Marriott at the Capitol, 701 East 11th Street in Austin. "To register early and receive a 10% discount for the 2007 Agents and Editors Conference, contact the League office during regular office hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday - Friday. Please note that the office will close Friday, December 22, and reopen Tuesday, January 2. Call 512.499.8914 to register. Online forms are not yet available." Note: Greg Leitich Smith and I will be speaking on a children's and young adult writing panel at the conference.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cynsational News & Links

In the Coop with Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith from Three Silly Chicks: a co-authors' interview about the writing of Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006). Note: Definitely our silliest interview ever. Don't miss it! Learn more about silly chicks Andrea Beaty, Julia Durango, and Carolyn Crimi.

Attention event planners: please note that Greg and I are booking now as speakers for fall 2007 and 2008 events. Dates are going at a flattering and speedy rate. See our events information.

Thanks to Shaken & Stirred for recommending my recent post, Author Picks of 2006.

More News & Links

Best Books of 2006 from Little Willow at Slayground. Highlights include: Penny From Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm (Random House); Goy Crazy by Melissa R. Schorr (Hyperion)(author interview); and AutumnQuest by Terie Garrison (Flux). See also her archive of author interviews. Highlights include Lisa Yee, Justina Chen Headley, Susan Taylor Brown, Jenny Han, Markus Zuzak, and Cynthia Lord.

Best Books of 2006 from A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy (see sidebar). Highlights include: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick)(author interview); Babymouse: Rock Star by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm (Random House)(illustrator interview); The Queen of Cool by Cecil Castellucci (Candlewick)(author interview).

The Edge of the Forest has been posted for December 2006. Highlights include: A Day in the Life with Debby Dahl Edwardson by Kim Winters of Kat's Eye; Strong Dialog Speaks Volumes by Anne Boles Levy of Book Buds; Poetic Picture Books by Julie Danielson of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast; Interview with Karen English by Cynthia J. Omololu; reviews; and much more.

Don't miss Sounds from the Forest: a monthly podcast created on topics related to children's books. The focus this month is the Cybils Awards, "blogging, and the changing nature of reviewing children's books today." See also Just One More Book!!

A couple of days ago when I highlighted the book videos for A Great and Terrible Beauty, The Book Thief, and How I Live Now. To learn more, check out Expanded Books. See also the book video for Yorinks' and Sendak's Mommy? and Rosemary Wells' My Shining Star.

The Girlfriend Project: a must visit new book site, highlighting The Girlfriend Project by Robin Friedman (Walker, January 2007). So much fun! Wow features include Thirteen Things You Don't Know About New Jersey, The Girlfriend Project Graffiti Wall (a message board), and the Author Project (check out Robin in that dress!). Nosy thing that I am, I also spent quality time surfing Dating Disasters, which features tales from the frontlines of love (or rather lack thereof) by such fabu authors as Brent Hartinger, Dianne Ochiltree, Dotti Enderle, Lisa Yee, Tanya Lee Stone, and Sara Zarr. Yet another amazing web site designed by Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys.

GregLSBlog recommends Archer's Quest by Linda Sue Park (Clarion, 2006). Read Cynsations interviews with Greg and Linda Sue.

AOL's former Book Maven, Bethanne Patrick, is now blogging at The Reading Writer. Congratulations to Bethanne on her new contributing editor position at Publishers Weekly.

Publishing Interviews of 2006

academics


"...it can be a bit of a shortcut to the working writer's life for the new writer and for the already established writer, a broadening of their horizons in both writing and teaching."

--Faculty Chair Sharon Darrow of Vermont College


"Students who pursue this degree will have a far greater likelihood of publishing their work than students who work on their own."

--Dean Mary Francois Rockcastle of Hamline University


agents & attorneys


"In general, none of us does as well negotiating on our own behalf as we do negotiating on behalf of others. This may be truer for writers because writers are so personally invested in their work. Publishing houses have no problem asking for terms that are favorable to them."

--Aimée Bissonette of Little Buffalo Law & Consulting


"Most of my clients wrote to my other clients to ask about me first, and I think that is one of the best ways to get the whole picture."

--Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.


"I definitely have an editorial role with my clients, as well as the more typical agent one. It’s not so much that I edit—certainly not in the way a real editor will—but I definitely will talk with a client about a manuscript, about what works for me and what doesn’t, and I’ll often send them back for a revision before submitting to editors."

--Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency


"Some advantages of working with an agent are that the writer knows the editor will read her submission, she doesn't have to talk money with her editor, and she has access to people in the book world, such as foreign rights agents, that she wouldn't have access to on her own."

--Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson Associates


"I often liken the selection of an agent to the selection of a spouse (without the romance, of course!). All writers deserve to work with a person they like and trust, a person with whom they communicate easily and share sensibilities and goals."

--Rosemary Stimola of Stimola Literary Studio


See also SCBWI Bologna agents Gabriella Ambrosioni of Gabriella Ambrosioni Literary Agency; Rosemary Canter of PDF; and Costanza Fabbri of Gabriella Ambrosioni Literary Agency.


editors & publishers



"In the U.K., the structure of mass market and institutional publishing is very different, so we tend to try for books that are mostly going to sell in the retail market--library is a bonus. In the U.S., institutional sales are a much bigger deal."

--Victoria Arms of Bloomsbury USA


"We believe that all types of readers--whether they enjoy so-called "literary" novels or genre books such as science fiction or sports--deserve the best possible writing and visuals."

--Shannon Barefield of Carolrhoda Books


"[The biggest challenge is...] Probably overcoming being considered a regional press! I think that perception of Cinco Puntos will change as the population of the United States changes. The last census shows us that 36 million people are Latinos. They are moving all over the United States. They are moving into the middle class. They are book buyers, and they want to see themselves in books."

--Lee Merrill Byrd of Cinco Puntos


"For many years, kids were taught to read by reading fiction. Now, with new research showing that 80% of adult reading is nonfiction, the education community has developed a new respect for nonfiction reading, which they are actively passing along to their students."

--Nancy Feresten of National Geographic


"The people involved in children's publishing--from the editors and publicists to the authors themselves--tend to be part of this industry because they love it, not because they're hoping to get rich and/or famous. The egos on the children's side of publishing are smaller, but the talent is just as great."

--Lynn Green of BookPage


"The one common strain we hope to maintain across all of our books is that the authors approach young adult as a point of view and not a reading level."

--Andrew Karre of Flux


"We believe that books for children should offer accurate information, promote a positive worldview, and embrace a child's innate sense of wonder and fun. To this end, we continually strive to seek new voices, new visions, and new directions in children's literature."

--Yolanda LeRoy of Charlesbridge


"Texts need to be strong – really strong, to stand the test of time. We do tend to publish quirky rather than cute; but that might change. We look for enduring themes, strong characters and great punchlines. Art needs to properly carry its own subtext so that the two combine to make something special."

--Anne McNeil of Hodder Children's Books


"Marketing Navajo-English books is difficult. The primary reason for this is that book buyers often have the perception that since our books are in Navajo and English, only Navajos would be interested in reading them. This is very wrong, of course--our books treat universal themes, and our Navajo focus is simply one of the factors that make our titles unique."

--Jesse Ruffenach of Salina Bookshelf


"I'm interested in the place where popular and literary intersect. Those were the stories I looked for as a teen, so that's what I look for now."

--Deborah Wayshak of Candlewick Press


"As many have noted about fantasy in the adult genre, a lot of fantasy tends to tread the same ground. We're looking for innovative new worlds, inventive magic systems, and characters our readers will care about. For example, I'm particularly fond of fairy tale retellings, but there have been so many in the last decade or so that I'd like to see an entirely new take on the subgenre, or a tale that no one has retold before."

--Stacy Whitman of Mirrorstone Books


librarians



"Rather than teaching to a high-stakes test, author visits allow educators to ensure that students love to read and engage with written texts on a meaningful personal level. In this way, author visits are the ultimate literacy experience!"

--Toni Buzzeo, co-author of Terrific Connections with Authors, Illustrators, and Storytellers: Real Space and Virtual Links, also by Jane Kurtz (Libraries Unlimited, 1999).


"When I was in college, I wanted to be a folk singer. Realizing if I didn't work, I wouldn't eat, I got practical and became an elementary school librarian instead, saying, 'Well, I'll try this for a little while until I decide what I really want to do.' And it was a blast. I sang with the kids, I read them stories, I told them stories. We acted out stories. It was a wild and crazy place, my library. I can't figure out where 26 years flew."

--Judy Freeman, author of Books Kids Will Sit Still For 3: A Read-Aloud Guide (Libraries Unlimited, 2006)


promotional pros



"Historically, publishing houses took the lead in promoting their authors, illustrators, and books. In more recent years, however, much of that responsibility has shifted to the authors and illustrators."

--Aimée Bissonette of Winding Oak


"Start with personal preference: Do you like the [web] designer's other work? (Check for credits on sites you like to locate designers). Sound out the designer. Do you feel comfortable describing what you want and asking questions about how things are done? Hire someone you can talk to, whose taste and judgment you trust."


--Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys (additional interview)


"I work with authors and illustrators on more targeted projects for their specific books, creating press materials, pitching media, contac ting bookstores to schedule events, and consulting on assorted matters like their website, local festivals to attend, etc."

--Rebecca Grose of SoCal Public Relations


"The overarching vision of KatzConnects is to find unique funding sources for visits so that they are at no or low cost to schools but the authors are still paid their full fee."

--Susan B. Katz of KatzConnects


"I think the most important thing to consider when hiring a publicist, or any marketing professional, is to find someone who is honest with you about what's viable for your book, clear about the work they'll do, and who cares about the authors they take on. It's also helpful to work with someone who can educate you about the role you can play in the process because campaigns work best when they're done synergistically."

--Susan Salzman Raab of Raab Associates

Cynsational Notes

Interviews with Gabriella Ambrosioni. Victoria Arms, Rosemary Canter, Barry Goldblatt, Costanza Fabbri, Anne McNeil, and Rosemary Stimola were offered in conjunction with SCBWI Bologna 2006.

See also author/illustrator interviews of 2006!

Thanks to all of those above for sharing their thoughts!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Investigative Girls: Lindy Blues and Hannah West

It's a pleasure to highlight two new strong girl heroes for young mystery readers.

Dorian Cirrone's early reader heroine Lindy Blues AKA "Your Nose for News" is an investigative TV journalist who reports to readers (and her neighborhood) in a humorous, upbeat voice. Smart, sassy, and charmingly illustrated in pencil by Liza Woodruff, the Lindy Blues books are a great match for younger middle graders. Look for Lindy Blues: The Big Scoop (Marshall Cavendish, 2006) and Lindy Blues: The Missing Silver Dollar (Marshall Cavendish, 2006). Ages 7-up.

Linda Johns' young detective Hannah West moves from one Seattle neighborhood to another with her housesitter mother and her fish. Well grounded in setting, this middle grade series is a fun, entertaining read. Here we have a Chinese-American heroine (internationally and transracially adopted) in a genre book where her ethnicity is not the focus. We need more diversity throughout the body of literature, not just in books with traditional multicultural themes. Look for Hannah West in Deep Water (Puffin, 2006), Hannah West in the Belltown Towers (Puffin, 2006). Ages 9-up.

Cynsational Notes

Mystery fans seeking more suggestions should check out Bringing Mysteries Alive for Children and Young Adults by Jeanette Larson (Linworth, 2004)(recommendation).

Author Interview: Dorian Cirrone from Cynsations. This interview highlights Dorian's YA novel, Dancing In Red Shoes Will Kill You (HarperCollins, 2005), which was recognized via the Amelia Bloomer list for feminist fiction; New York Public Library's Best Books for the Teen Age 2006; and the Tayshas List (Texas State Reading List).

See also Children's and YA Books with Interracial Family Themes from my website.

Cynsational News & Links

Thanks to Not Your Mother's Bookclub for recommending my recent interview with Sarah Dessen and to YA Library News for recommending Author Picks of 2006.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Santa Knows by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Björkman (Dutton, 2006) was featured in a holiday round-up by Associated Press writer Samantha Critchell." It's my understanding that this means it could reach some 500 newspapers. So far, these include: CantonRep (OH); Holland Sentinel (MI); The Gainsville Sun (FL); Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA); Savannah Now (GA); New Haven Register (CT); LaCrosse Tribune (WI); Tuscaloosa News (AL); Sun Journal (ME); Crescent-News (OH); State Journal (Frankfort, KY); North County Times (San Diego, Riverside City); Home News Tribune (NJ); Kitsap Sun (Bremerton, WA); Canoe (Canada); and counting. Note: I won't continue to list all of them, but if you see one in your hometown paper, please drop me a note. Thanks!

More News & Links

The Japanese theater company performing "The Silver Kiss" (a stage play based on the novel by Annette Curtis Klause) offers coverage of the event on their website--very cool! Read a Cynsations interview with Annette.

Check out 2006 Teen Book Video Award Winner: A Great and Terrible Beauty. Read a Cynsations interview with Libba Bray. See also The Book Thief and How I Live Now.

Claire and Monte Montgomery: official website of the creative team behind Hubert Invents the Wheel (Walker/Bloomsbury, 2005). Attention Texas event planners: in celebration of Hubert making the Bluebonnet list, Claire and Monte are especially interested in doing school visits in the Lone Star State. Find out more here.

Confessions of a Bibliovore recommends Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith (Little Brown, 2003), noting "Smith intertwines the three stories in multiple-POV format, throwing in just enough lunacy to keep things interesting, but retaining the heart of these likeable middle-schoolers." Read the whole review. Read a Cynsations interview with Greg.

New Book News for November/December by Peggy Sharp. Newsletter excerpt features readers ideas for The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History by Jennifer Armstrong, illustrated by Roger Roth (Knopf, 2006). See also newsletter subscription information, Peggy's Picks, and learn more about Peggy. Thanks to super librarian Eve Panzer at Austin Jewish Academy for recommending Peggy.

Author Kim Norman offers a holiday song, "A Writer's Wish List," on her website. Look for Jack of All Tails by Kim Norman, illustrated by David Clark (Dutton, 2007).

Author-illustrator Kevin O'Malley has redesigned and relaunched his website. Learn more about Kevin's books. Don't miss the short movie of one of Kevin's school visits. Neat! Read a Cynsations interview with Kevin.

Read about my day-to-day holiday doings at Spookycyn.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Editor Interview: Lynn Green on BookPage

Lynn Green on Lynn Green: "I was born in Nashville, where I still live. I sometimes feel like one of the few natives around, since Nashville has seen such an influx of newcomers over the past two decades.

"I received my undergraduate degree from Tulane University and a master's degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Since that time, I have worked as a writer and editor for several publications, large and small, including Nashville's now defunct evening newspaper, The Nashville Banner.

"I came to BookPage in 2000 and have worked with every category of books, including adult fiction and nonfiction and, more recently, children's books. It's been great to be able to use my experience at BookPage to recommend books for my own three children, particularly my son, William (now a teenager), who's the most avid reader of the bunch.

Could you give us an overview of BookPage: America's Book Review?

BookPage is a monthly book review distributed to more than 400,000 readers each month through subscribing bookstores and public libraries across the country. We cover a broad range of books, with a focus on new releases. Our goal is to recommend good books for readers of all types, whether they're interested in literary fiction or romance, history or science fiction, audiobooks or children's books.

How about the history behind BookPage?

BookPage was founded in 1988 by book industry veteran Michael Zibart, previously an executive vice president of Ingram Book Company. He remains publisher of BookPage today. We're located in Nashville, which we think gives us an interesting vantage point outside the industry whirlwind of New York City.

Who is your target audience?

To put it simply, BookPage is aimed at people who love to read. With newspaper book review sections on the decline, we've found that booklovers are hungry for news about books and recommendations on the best new books to read. BookPage is one of the few national publications to provide that information to a general audience.

Has that changed or expanded over time? Why?

When BookPage was founded almost two decades ago, our subscribers were almost exclusively independent bookstores. As the small independents began to close (sadly) in the 1990s, our market expanded to include public libraries. That move has proven to be quite successful--more than 2,000 public libraries now subscribe and BookPage is extremely popular among library patrons.

In what way do you focus on children's and YA literature in particular?

BookPage has coverage of children's and YA books in every issue, typically including an author interview and an illustrator Q&A along with several shorter children's book reviews. Since BookPage is designed for a general audience, our reviews are tailored not for teachers, librarians or publishers, but for the people who buy children's books--parents, grandparents and, of course, children and teens themselves.

What do you see as your own editorial role in the process?

I work along with our other editors to select the books we cover and arrange feature articles and book reviews for every issue. We have an established roster of freelance contributors--an extremely interesting group of writers representing a variety of occupations, interests and locations. We match these reviewers with the books we want to cover each month and the results are always lively and sometimes surprising!

What are its challenges?

Our biggest challenge, undoubtedly, is dealing with the volume of material we receive. In the children's category alone, we get hundreds of books (usually advance review copies) each month, but we have space to cover a dozen of these books in each issue, at most. It's frustrating that we can review only a fraction of the books that deserve attention.

What do you love about it?

I love getting an early look at what's coming next in books--and of course it's a wonderful perk to have access to more books than I could ever read!

I began supervising our children's book coverage two years ago and have found that I enjoy it more than any other part of my job. The people involved in children's publishing--from the editors and publicists to the authors themselves--tend to be part of this industry because they love it, not because they're hoping to get rich and/or famous. The egos on the children's side of publishing are smaller, but the talent is just as great.

Could you tell us how you evaluate books for review and authors for interview?

BookPage has a long-time New York contributing editor, Sukey Howard, who meets with representatives of most major publishing houses on a regular basis. Sukey's reports give us an advance look at what's coming and direct our attention to the major releases and the in-house favorites. With that as a starting point, we read as much as we can, poring over the galleys that are stacked on every available surface in our office. We're looking for books that appeal to our broad, general audience, books that are beautifully written and compelling.

In children's books, we hope to spotlight new voices along with established authors. And we're always looking for talented picture book illustrators to feature in our Meet the Illustrator Q&As.

How should children's/YA authors and/or publishers connect with BookPage?

Because of our long lead time, we prefer to receive an ARC three months prior to a book's publication date. Around the time a galley is sent, it's also helpful if a book's publicist (or in some cases the author herself) emails us with a brief summary of why the book is special--why it deserves coverage in BookPage. If a book or an author has a special backstory worthy of mentioning, it's great to find that out early in the process.

To what extent does BookPage online reflect BookPage in print? Are there any content distinctions?

The full content of each print edition is posted online at BookPage.com the first day of every month. The website also has a blog, Buzz Girl, in which our New York correspondent gives advance word on books to be published during the next season. The blog is updated weekly.

BookPage has been on the web for a full 10 years now--all our issues from 1996 on are archived on the site--so BookPage.com draws a lot of hits from people doing research on books and authors.

What do you do when you're not reading, writing, or editing?

With two children in high school and one in college, most of my "leisure" activities are family-centered, from soccer games to band concerts. My husband would probably tell you that I also spend way too much time tending to the needs of my 11-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Skipper, and watching TLC (favorite show: "Little People, Big World").

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cynsational News & Links

Thanks to Jo Knowles for her kind words about my upcoming Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). Among many lovely things, Jo says: "I think, for a little while anyway, I'll be pouring my own red wine, thank you very much." Prudent idea. Jo is the author of Lessons from a Dead Girl (Candlewick, fall 2007).

Thanks also to Big A little a, girl uninterrupted, Puggy's Hill, Chicklish, One Writer's Journey, and Bookburger for recommending my recent post, Author Picks of 2006.

More News & Links

The Book of Life: Jewish People and the Books We Read Celebrates Its First Anniversary. BOL editor "Heidi Estrin is the library director at Congregation B'nai Israel in Boca Raton, Florida. She is President of the South Florida Chapter of the Association of Jewish Libraries, as well as Past Chair of AJL's Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. She also serves on the Book Selection Committee for the PJ Library, a project of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation."

Check out Blog Crushes EXPOSED! at Mitali's Fire Escape, and count me honored to be in such great company.

The 2006 Horn Book Fanfare List includes The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick)(author interview); An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (Dutton)(author interview); The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus (Candlewick)(recommendation); Ballet of the Elephants written by Leda Schubert, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker (Brodie/Roaring Brook)(author interview); and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Jump at the Sun)(illustrator interview).

Podcasts of speeches from the 2006 National Book Awards from BookExpo America.

"Current Trends, Blogs I Like, Agent and Publisher, Outline vs. Synopsis, Plagiarism" from The Purple Crayon Blog. November 2006. Thanks for mentioning Cynsations!

"Forcing the Issue" by Kristy Dempsy from the Institute of Children's Literature. Avoiding common pitfalls in rhyme.

"How to Write a Picture Book--A Guide for the Already Rich and Famous" by Michele Regenold at Writing for Kids from the Boondocks: a blog about writing for children and the quest for publication. Michelle offers thoughtful literary analysis of celebrity books, such as they may be.

"Storytelling with Dianne de Las Casas:" a chat transcript from the Institute of Children's Literature. ICL says: "Author and award-winning storyteller Dianne de Las Casas shared tips on her dynamic storytelling and how you can beef us your school visits with traditional storytelling techniques."

Author Tanya Lee Stone announces a signed bookplate and bookmark holiday promotion for her YA novel A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl. Tanya's debut YA novel has been called "brave and beautiful" by Megan McCafferty, "Sure to be the new Forever" by me, and "irresistible" by Libba Bray. School Library Journal gave it a starred review and said the book "will be passed from girl to girl to girl." Contact Tanya at tanyastone@tanyastone.com with your name, snail mail address, and any personalization information. Read a Cynsations interview with Tanya.

Brian Yansky: new official site of the author of YA novels My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World (Cricket, 2003) and Wonders of the World (Flux, 2007). Learn more about Brian and check out his articles for writers. A smart, innovative site designed by Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys. This is a don't-miss link!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Holiday Books and Santa Knows News

Three Silly Chicks say Santa Knows by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Björkman (Dutton, 2006) is "a holly jolly read for the holidays." Read the whole review. Then find out more about silly chicks Andrea Beaty, Julia Durango, and Carolyn Crimi. Note: TSC is a don't-miss blog for silly reading and offers an LJ syndication.

Parent:Wise Austin chimes in: "Even kids as old as nine or ten will enjoy the delightful illustrations, particularly the humbug patterns on Alfie's pajamas, and will chuckle at Alife's meticulous research. If your kids are starting to question Santa Claus, read this book together. …a story that will turn even the grumpiest Scrooge into a true believer!"

The Richmond Times-Dispatch says: "Illustrations by Steve Björkman demonstrate Alfie's fervor in his quest. They also show his distaste of the season with green pajamas covered with slashed Christmas icons, which is a truly funny sight. This title is a holiday must have." Read the whole review.

The PlanetEsme Plan cheers: "Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith show that they can ho-ho-ho with the best of them..." Read the whole review.

Listen to a podcast of Booktalks: Quick and Sample as Nancy Keane discusses Santa Knows.

Holiday Round-ups

"Give Kids Something That Lasts a Lifetime: The Joy of Reading" by Samantha Critchell, Associated Press Writer, from the New Haven Register. Santa Knows is among those titles featured, and we're especially thrilled that the book is being highlighted as this AP column is appearing in newspapers across the U.S. and Canada. Other recommendations include: Christmas USA by Mary D. Lankford, illustrated by Karen Dugan (HarperCollins); Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon, illustrated by Henri Sorensen (Peachtree); I Have a Little Dreidel by Maxie Baum, illustrated by Julie Paschkis (Cartwheel/Scholastic); and Yoon and the Christmas Mitten by Helen Recorvits, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska (FSG).

"Dear Santa, Can You Bring Me These Books This Year?" by Holly E. Newton at Newton's Book Notes from the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune. Santa Knows is featured! Highlights also include Christmas Lights by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Susan Mitchell (Simon & Schuster)(excerpt). Read a Cynsations interview with Marion.

"Holiday Books Can Make Great Gifts" from the Baton Rouge Advocate. More Santa Knows! Greg Langley cheers, "This book is perfect to share with the little skeptic at your house." Highlights also include Jesus Was Here by Brian Simmons, illustrated by Erin Leeder (Full Court).

"New Holiday Titles, Act One: Skeptics ‘R Us" from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Why Stop at Six? A Blog About Books. The word on Santa Knows is "a festive and fun read with [Steve] Björkman’s buoyant cartoon watercolor-and-ink illustrations." Also featured is A Clever Beatrice Christmas by Margaret Willey, illustrated by Heather M. Solomonb (Atheneum). Read the whole review.

Cynsational Notes

Greg and I are honored by all the enthusiasm for Santa Knows! It's our first book together, which means a lot to us. And Steve's illustrations deserve all the acclaim and more! We'd also like offer another thanks to our publicist Rebecca Grose of SoCal Public Relations and our web designer Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys--both of whom have been wonder women and are highly recommended. Read interviews with Rebecca and Lisa. Visit www.santa-knows.com! Thanks to all for your ongoing support!
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