Friday, July 11, 2008

Tantalize Paperback, Eternal Excerpt, Sanguini's T-shirt Giveaway (New Designs)

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007, 2008)(Listening Library, 2008)(audio sample) goes on sale in paperback in the U.S. July 22!

The end papers of the novel include an excerpt of Eternal (Candlewick, 2008), which is the second book in the universe. Eternal features different main characters. The excerpt is told from the first person POV of the female lead. There also is an alternating first person POV male lead, who doesn't appear in those pages. Note: more stories in the universe are in the works, including stories featuring Tantalize characters.

To celebrate, I'm giving away three signed copies of Tantalize in paperback, each with a Sanguini's T-shirt of the winner's choice! Note: Sanguini's is the fictional vampire-themed restaurant in the novel.

In addition to the popular Sanguini's logo shirts, graphic design genius Gene Brenek has created the all-new "I 'heart' Baby Squirrel" shirt; the "Cell Phones Will Be Eaten" shirt; the "Drop In for a Late Night Bite" shirt; and both a birds-theme and a dragon-theme "predator or prey" shirt. See below; click for larger views. Note: I don't make any money off the sale of the tie-in shirts.

To enter the Tantalize paperback and Sanguini's T-shirt giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name, snail/street mail address, and preferred T-shirt design by midnight CST July 22! Please also type "Tantalize Paperback and Sanguini's T-shirt" in the subject line.

One prize will be awarded to a YA teacher or librarian (please specify school/library with entry; university professors are eligible) and two prizes will be awarded to any Cynsations YA readers.

Additional Sanguini's T-shirts of the winners' choice will be awarded to a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! at MySpace and to any YA bookseller.

To enter the Sanguini's T-shirt (only) giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name, snail/street mail address, and preferred T-shirt design by midnight CST July 22! If you are a member of TFU! please indicate that, and if you are a bookseller, please specify your bookstore. Please also type "Sanguini's T-shirt" in the subject line.

From the promotional copy:

"Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her hybrid-werewolf first love threatens to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. And just as she and her uncle are about to debut Austin's red hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef.

"Can Quincie transform the new hire into a culinary dark lord before opening night? Will Henry Johnson be able to wow the crowd in fake fangs, a cheap cape, and red contact lenses? Or is there more to this earnest fresh face than meets the eye?

"As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who's playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything? "

"If Joan Bauer took a crack at dark fantasy, the result something like this gothic-horror comedy." --Booklist

"Smith adds a light touch of humor to the soup, but the main course is a dark romance with all the gory trimmings." --The Horn Book

"Quincie must make a terrifying choice...that will have...readers weeping with both lust and sorrow." --Kirkus Reviews

New Designs

See larger and logo!

See larger and logo!

See larger and logo!

See larger and logo!

See larger and logo! Note: my favorite of the new designs!

Cynsational Notes

Tantalize will be released by Walker U.K. this fall, and production is coming along nicely. I heard this week from the copy editor on a handful of minor Texan to U.K. language translations. The announcement of other foreign editions is pending.

Cynsational News & Giveaways

A.M. Jenkins blog: "The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information (for students, teachers, librarians etc.), without me having to maintain a website. 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, so I'm going to try dumping those thoughts here rather than on my friends." Read a Cynsations interview with A.M. Jenkins.

"Lessons from the Berry Patch" by Liana Mahoney from the Institute of Children's Literature. Peek: "While he picked around the perimeter of the berry patch, I chose to go straight into it, allowing the thorns to slice my skin, and entangle themselves in the laces of my sneakers. Why? Because picking berries, like writing for children, involves a certain amount of risk-taking, pain, and adventure."

Monthly Feature: Careers from The Horn Book. See a thesis question for MFA students, also from The Horn Book. Read a Cynsations interview with Horn Book editor Roger Sutton.

Moral Compasses from Eric Luper's Random Musings. Peek: "A moral compass seems like a fairly individual thing, as you note, that will change from character to character. Also, if all main characters had black-and-white morality rules to follow, we'd be without a lot of fantastic books." Read a Cynsations interview with Eric. Source: Editorial Ass.

Requesting Partials: You've Got 30 Pages, Pal! by Nathan Bransford -- Literary Agent. Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

My favorite book is out-of-print! from Brian Unbound at School Library Journal. Peek: "Marshall Cavendish has announced a new line of books, Marshall Cavendish Classics, that will 'bring a select number of out-of-print titles from all publishers back into print. We are interested in titles that have received awards, have enjoyed starred reviews, or have with stood the test of time in story hour.'"

Mrs. Magoo Reads: You are What You Read: offers book reviews, movie reviews, and more! Authors are invited to submit books for review consideration.

When Life is Hard by Darcy Pattison from Dary Pattison's Revision Notes. Peek: "When life is hard, how do you keep on working? We got back from vacation to find our house had been broken into, our computers stolen.... Then, yesterday, in a sudden summer rainstorm...." Read a Cynsations interview with Darcy.

BookKids Blog: from the children's-YA department at Austin's amazing independent bookstore, BookPeople. According to Madeline Smoot at Buried in the Slushpile, "event postings and the like that will most likely be interesting only to the people who live in Austin. But, there will also be book reviews and book talk about kid and teen books over there as well." Check out A Thousand Rounds of Applause, celebrating author Shana Burg's release party for her acclaimed debut A Thousand Never Evers (Delacorte, 2008).

Permanent Ink: Tattoos for Readers from Alison Morris from Shelftalker: A Children's Bookseller's Blog at Publishers Weekly.

Check out this book trailer for Dead Girl Walking (Flux, September 2008)(excerpt), the first novel in a new paranormal series by Linda Joy Singleton! Read a Cynsations interview with LJS!

More Personally

Congratulations to the Austin Public Library's Bibliofiles book cart drill team on its second place finish at ALA! Here's another look at their Texas win!

Awesome Austin Writers Roll Up Their T-shirt Sleeves by Mark G. Mitchell at How to be a Children's Book Illustrator. Peek: "Like the other dazed and AAWW'ed patients after their operations, I got my copies back scribbled with thoughts, kudos, suggestions for fixes, often accompanied by typed notes. We clutched our precious stacks like they were our medical charts, and we were on our gurneys in the recovery room." Read a Cynsations interview with Mark.

This and That by Lindsey Lane: a new blog from the author of Snuggle Mountain (Clarion, 2003). See Lindsey's report on the recent Awesome Austin Writers Workshop; peek: "By the end of the three days, I was wrung out. But I was energized, thrilled and deeply grateful to be a part of this community. I mean, down-on-my-knees thrilled and grateful." Read a Cynsations interview with Lindsey.

Learn more about the Awesome Austin Writers Workshop!

Attention: Tantalize fans! A teen YA reader known as "Miss Quincie" has started a brand new Tantalize Fan Forum. For those of you on MySpace, see also Tantalize Fans Unite!


Here's a quick recap for those who may have missed the July 4 post!

Vladimir Tod's Best Nighttime Photo: win an iPod nano and great prizes from Heather Brewer's The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd at Sugarloot: Sweet Contests. Deadline: Aug. 11. Learn more here!

Are you a YA reader? Check out the bounty of giveaways at TeensReadToo!

"Create Your Own Future with Goals and Time Management" with P. J. Hoover from Austin SCBWI on July 19 at Barnes and Noble Westlake. P.J. is the debut author of The Emerald Tablet (Blooming Tree, Oct. 2008). The Emerald Tablet is the first book in her middle grade science-fiction trilogy, The Forgotten Worlds Books.

Author Claudia Gray is now fielding character interview questions! Peek: "What do I mean by that? You send in questions for Bianca, and she will answer. Although you're interviewing Bianca right after Evernight, when she has no idea what will happen in future books, feel free to ask her absolutely anything. I don't promise that she will answer every question asked, but we'll post a good interview with her here and on the website August 1." Learn more!

The Cynsations grand prize giveaways for July are two signed copies of Wake by Lisa McMann (Simon Pulse, 2008). To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST July 31! Please also type "Wake" in the subject line. Note: one autographed copy will be awarded to a YA public librarian (please specify library with entry) and one autographed copy will be awarded to any Cynsations YA reader.

And that's not all! Enter to win a copy of Black Pearls: A Faerie Strand by Louise Hawes (Houghton Mifflin, 2008)! Read a Cynsations interview with Louise. To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST July 14! Please also type "Black Pearls" in the subject line.

In Memory: Author Sue Alexander

Author Sue Alexander passed away unexpectedly on July 3.

From her website: "She helped create, sustain and guide the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for over three decades — her passion and pride has left an indelible mark on what children read to this day, and what she has taught should serve as hope to children in the future." The
SCBWI Sue Alexander Award will continue in her honor.

She also was a Cynsational author, highlighted for one of my favorite picture books, Sara's City, illustrated by Ronald Himler (Clarion, 1995). Read a Cynsations interview with Sue. Leave a message for her friends and family here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Author Interview: Jennifer Bradbury on Shift

Jennifer Bradbury on Jennifer Bradbury: "I grew up and attended college in Kentucky, and worked a few summers at a boy's camp in North Carolina. I met my husband there and we spent our honeymoon biking across the southern U.S. After that, we moved to Washington State, where I taught high school English for eight years. Most of my time was devoted to working with ninth-grade writers. Now, I'm a stay-at-home mom who manages to write a little every day (almost!) during my daughter's nap time."

What kind of teenager were you?

A little bit of an outsider really. I was devoted to a few things—swimming, writing for the school paper, bad TV—but didn't seem to experience the easy relationships that others did. Friendships and social interactions didn't really feel natural until I was in college. I was also pretty sarcastic, enjoyed saying things that I thought might elicit strong reactions from my mom and teachers, and I liked making people laugh. (It occurs to me as I write this that maybe I haven't really changed all that much.)

Could you tell us about your apprenticeship as a writer?

I really learned to write from an amazing teacher, Gail Kirkland, who advised our school newspaper. I still think she's the person responsible for teaching me to write a tight line, a strong sentence, and to uncover story quickly. My first drafts of novels read very much like the articles I wrote in high school.

From there, I spent my first couple of years of college as a journalism major where my writing became even more lean and spare and completely about the story. Then I find the true faith of the English major and fell in love with the layering possible in a story and character. And I loved writing papers. But I still had no aspirations to be an author.

Then, in my first year of teaching, I fell into a writing group with an amazing pair of coworkers (our librarian Cathy Belben and counselor Laural Ringler) and began to get a different sort of picture of what it meant to be a writer. I really don't think I'd be here now if it hadn't been for the example set for my by those two. At that point, I started toying with the idea of writing young adult fiction, and things sort of took off.

I have to add that my high-school students were probably my best writing teachers. In my ninth grade composition classes, I always read one YA novel aloud each semester to give us a model to talk about and discuss. At some point, all the options I presented to one class had already been read, so I took a chance and shared a draft of something I was working on. Read aloud time became a workshop, and those fourteen year olds taught me more about holding an audience than anyone ever will.

Could you tell us about your path to publication? Any sprints or stumbles along the way?

I do think it started with Cathy and Laural. At that point, I knew I liked writing, that it was one of those itches that demanded scratching, but had no idea really what it meant to try and submit my work. They were incredibly prolific and disciplined about submitting and publishing, and encouraged me to start thinking about writing for specific audiences and looking for ways to publish.

I wrote my first full length YA novel in 2002, and submitted it to the Delacorte Press Contest. I didn't win (no one did that year) but I got a really great, detailed rejection letter from an editor there named Joe Cooper who invited me to discuss the story with him and resubmit. I did, and blew it. But that manuscript was one that just needed to get out of the way so I could try something else.

I ended up submitting again the next year with a new book that I was sure was amazing, and it only earned the form rejection. That was tough, but I managed to dive back in and spend some time revising, and then started the process of querying agents. I got a handful of requests for fulls and partials. One of those was from Robin Rue at Writers House. She liked it enough to request revisions, which I did, but she still didn't think it was quite ready.

Then in 2005, we were living in India while I was on a Fulbright, and the pieces started to come together for this bike trip story. I wrote the draft that Fall, submitted again (way prematurely) to the Delacorte contest, and earned the form rejection. I revised and sent out query letters again to agents. This time, all three of the people I queried on the first round wanted it, and two came back with the best rejection letters ever, full of enthusiasm for the story and nuggets of criticism.

Then my daughter was born, and I sort of neglected subsequent requests that came in for fulls while I threw myself into motherhood. A few months later, Robin Rue's office emailed asking why they hadn't seen the full they requested. I sent it off with the few tweaks I'd done when I'd been unable to get back to sleep after a midnight feeding, and Robin took me on. She had the offer from Caitlyn Dlouhy at Atheneum within a week.

Congratulations on the release of your debut novel, Shift (Atheneum, 2008)(recommendation)! Could you tell us a bit about it?

Thanks! Here's the copy from my website:

"When Chris Collins and Winston Coggans take off on a post-graduation cross-country bike trek, Chris's hopes are high. He's looking forward to seeing the country, dodging a dull summer at a minimum wage job, and having one final adventure with his oldest friend. The journey from Hurricane, West Virginia to the coast of Washington state delivers all those things . . . and more.

"So much more that when Chris returns home without Win at the end of the summer, he's certain their 10-year friendship is all but over. But when an FBI agent begins asking questions—and raising suspicions about Chris—he learns that saying goodbye to a friend like Win is never as simple as riding away. Shift offers an adventure story and a missing persons tale spinning around a single question: What happens when you outgrow your best friend?"

What was your initial inspiration for writing this book?

Shift was inspired by two bike trips. The first was the one my husband and his best friend took after they graduated from high school. Their route was very similar to the one in the book—from West Virginia to Spokane. And then after we married, my husband and I rode from Folly Beach in Charleston, South Carolina; to Los Angeles.

Bike touring is an amazing way to travel, and I wanted to capture that and share it with people who might be unfamiliar with it. And we collected so many anecdotes and incidents that people always asked us to recount for them, that I began to realize if I could string some of those together, it might be a great book for teens. And from there, it became a matter of inventing characters, finding conflict and figuring out a way to structure the story.

What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?

I don't remember exactly when I started thinking that the bike trip story might be a great YA novel, but I remember when I made the decision to write it.

My husband and I were living in India at the time, and I was teaching a very light load at a school there. I realized I needed a new project to keep me occupied in the afternoons, and began to try to find the story for Shift.

My husband has always been my biggest fan and first reader, so I was bouncing ideas off him before I even started. And we had a lot of long conversations about me taking anecdotes that to him were really special (those ones I planned to borrow from his earlier trip).

There was even a moment when I told him I wasn't going to write it without his blessing and sort of ungrudging permission to do what I wanted to these characters. And luckily, he got as excited about the possibilities for the story as I was.

So, that fall (2005) I'd write a chapter a day or so and bring it home, and he'd read it that evening. By the time we left in January 2006, I'd gone through a couple of passes on the story. Then we returned home, my daughter was born, and I did very little with it.

That summer, I tweaked some more, sent it out to agents. Robin Rue agreed to represent the book in August 2006, sold it soon after, and here we are, almost two years and a lot of revision later. My editor is so, so smart and thorough and has absolutely asked the questions that made Shift what it is now. I wish her name were on the cover alongside mine.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

The biggest challenge was also the first one—figuring out a reason for this story to be. It wasn't enough that I had weird anecdotes from my own trip; I had to find something emotionally true to drive it all. The experience of outgrowing a best friend became that. Then those things all took over, and the anecdotes and bike trip stuff became totally secondary.

Research wise, I spent time reading journals of our trips, talking a lot with my husband, and figuring out the route and towns and distances mentioned in the story.

The logistics of this book have also been kind of nutty—with the back and forth nature of the chapters and the timelines I established, making sure the characters were where they were supposed to be has been an ongoing battle. I was still tweaking days of the week in the last pass before the book went out for the official printing.

What is it like, being a debut author in 2008?

Weird and wonderful, I suppose. I'm a memberof the Class of 2k8, and it's been amazing to have a group of writers experiencing the joys and anxieties of being first-time novelists together. I'm honored and humbled to part of such a group.

What has surprised you most about being published?

That I'm even more shy now about revealing myself as a writer than I was before I was published.

According to your author biography, you and your husband went on a two-month bike trip for your honeymoon. What inspired you to take the trip?

I'd just come off a semester abroad in England when I met my husband. We were both working as part of the adventure team staff at a boy's camp in Black Mountain, North Carolina. I was so full of that experience in England, and amazed by the climbing, backpacking and stuff I was doing for the first time, that his stories of his own trip made me silly enough to think I wanted to do it. We got married the following summer, and I think he was as thrilled to find someone willing to try it as I was to have found someone willing to take me.

For the record, I was the one who got whiney and teary about headwinds.

The freshmen-engineering aspect of the story was well-textured. Did you go to Georgia Tech?

I actually graduated from Western Kentucky University, but my husband earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering at West Virginia University Institute of Technology. I lived in the Southeast for most of my life and spent enough time at my husband's school when we were dating to get a feel for how overwhelming some of those classes might be.

Would you let your kid take a two-month, cross-country bike trip?

Yes. I hope my kid wants to go on a cross-country bike trip. We've already started our daughter on bike touring with some short trips around Washington state. And we fully intend to have her and her siblings in the saddle as soon as they can pedal. I can only hope that we'll be successful in rearing adventurous kids. That said, I can't promise I won't be weepy and worried like Chris's mom when they go off on those adventures.

What do you do when you're not in the book world?

I've been a stay at home mom for the last year. Before that I taught high school English for eight years at Burlington-Edison High School (go Tigers!). I loved teaching, but decided I'd rather be at home with my own kid for a while.

As a bonus, it's actually given me a little more time to write—she's a good, long napper, and not having papers to grade in the evenings makes a world of difference. But I really miss my students and the great staff I worked with.

I also have a very, very part time job as a sort of consultant/instructor for some Gates Foundation education initiatives. Basically, I teach other teachers how to use technology as a tool in project-based learning in the classroom. But as the book stuff is picking up steam, I'm transitioning out of that as well.

Beyond parenting and working, I read, go to spinning class at the health club, run around in the woods when the weather's nice, and binge -watch DVD's when its not.

What can your fans look forward to next?


My second book for Atheneum, tentatively titled Apart, will likely be available in 2010. It's a bit of a heavy book—dealing with the impact of a father's mental illness on a family, but we're hoping it will be a nice follow up to Shift.

I've also got two other projects I'm working on that are of a totally different spirit—lighter and more fun. One focuses on a girl uncovering the mystery behind the Poe Toaster, and the other is set in 1815 England—featuring mummy unwrapping parties, Napoleonic war espionage, and Jane Austen references.

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