Friday, November 28, 2008

Cynsational News, Giveaways & San Antonio Report

Enter to win one of two autographed copies of Shift by Jennifer Bradbury (Atheneum, 2008). From the promotional copy: "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?"

Read a Cynsations inteview with Jennifer.

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 9! OR, if you're on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 9! But DON'T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I'll contact you for it if you win. Please also type "Shift" in the subject line. One copy will go to a teacher, librarian, or university professor of YA literature (please indicate in entry); the other will go to any Cynsational reader.

Enter to win a copy of Demigods and Monsters: Your Favorite Authors on Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, edited by Rick Riordan with Leah Wilson (BenBella, 2008)(PDF excerpt)! Read a Cynsations interview with Rick. To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 2! OR, if you're on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 2! But DON'T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I'll contact you for it if you win. Please also type "Demigods and Monsters" in the subject line.

The winner of an autographed copy of Santa Knows by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman (Dutton, 2006) was Heather in Florida!
The runner-up winners of the CD audio edition produced by Scholastic Book Club were Rebekah in Oklahoma and Amy in Texas. Note: no tape entries; wow, does nobody use tape players anymore?

More News

The Writer's Studio...with Lisa Yee from The Friday Book Report: Tony Abbott's Blog. Peek: "There are, wait, let me count—one, two, three, four—there are four mugs stocked with pens. (I never use pencils.)"

Letter from Vicki Cobb -- On Multimedia from Marc Aronson of Nonfiction Matters at School Library Journal. Peek: "It's an opportunity for self-expression, combining language arts, performing arts and the potential for stardom while (and here’s my not-so-hidden agenda) learning something about science."

Writing for Teens and Middle Grades with YA Author Gaby Triana from Jan. 5 to– March 2. "Intense, weekly writing with direct feedback from the author of teen novels, Backstage Pass, Cubanita, The Temptress Four, and Riding the Universe (HarperCollins)[see book information]. Focus on creativity, fresh expression (voice), characterization, and publishing basics in the book market. Each week, you will complete a writing assignment to be critiqued and returned to you for review and revision with thorough, personalized comments and line-editing. By the end of the course, you will have revised your strongest piece which will be evaluated based on readiness for submission to publishers. This is not a beginner’s English course. This is a hands-on workshop for anyone serious about developing already good writing skills, so a basic handle on grammar and spelling is strongly recommended! 8-week course - $375. Ages 15 and up. No refunds. For more information and/or registration form, contact Gaby.

Professional Writers: Traits and Practices from Michael Sampson and Cynthia Leung. "A survey about how writers practice their craft." "Throughout the U.S. writing is being “taught” in ways that violate the process of how many of us write, or so we think. This research will document what writers do as they create their stories. Perhaps our findings can influence how the craft of writing is taught? Please share with us in the hope that this will happen. You may choose to keep your responses confidential, if you wish."

My Role as a YA Author by Varian Johnson from Crowe's Nest. Peek: "...the anonymous poster calls on authors to 'use their gift to steer some attitudes in the right direction.' But in the case of abortion, what is the right direction? As an author, is it my right to dictate what someone should or shouldn't feel on the matter, especially on an issue that continues to divide our country?" See also Falling Leaves Retreat Editors Respond by Nancy Castaldo, who asks the following editors to illuminate their paths to their careers: Caroline Abbey (Bloomsbury); Elizabeth Law (Egmont); Alexandra Penfold (Paula Wiseman); Sarah Shumway (Harper); and Jennifer Yoon (Candlewick).

19th Annual Children's Illustration Show from R. Michelson Galleries. See also the Exhibit Page!

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has temporarily halted acquisitions, according to Publishers Weekly. However, Tracy Marchini of Curtis Brown reports: "I've heard from a trusted source that the HMH halt on acquisitions applies only to adult titles at this point."

Me Hungry! by Jeremy Tankard (Candlewick Press, 2008): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith from GregLSBlog. Peek: "...terrifically fun illustrations and sparse 'caveboy' style prose."

EarlyWord: The Publisher | Librarian Connection from Nora Rawlinson, co-founder and editor and Fred Ciporen, co-founder and publisher. Source: Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys.

Making Diamonds by Jan Fields from the Institute of Children's Literature. Peek: "Sometimes people want to know, do I always have to have a big conflict in my story? What if they're no real problem? Does every story have to be formulaic?"

More Personally


Check out my lovely thank you gift from Brazos Valley (Texas) SCBWI. See Research To Write by Samantha Clark at Day by Day Writer a report on the Brazos Valley (Texas) SCBWI conference on Nov. 15, which includes some of my thoughts on setting. See also parts one and three of her report on the conference. Note: part three offers insights into author Kathi Appelt and agent Emily van Beek's relationship and the writing of The Underneath (Atheneum). Read Cynsations interviews with Kathi and Emily.


Last Thursday, Greg and I packed up again (sorry, Mercury!) to go to San Antonio for the Express-News Children's Book and Author Celebration and the NCTE/ALAN conference. (I can't begin to list all of the amazing folks we saw, so I'll just do my best to highlight a few).


According to the Express-News, the "fifth annual literary event features children's book authors and illustrators talking about their careers and latest books. Speakers included: M. T. Anderson (above); Kathi Appelt (above); Pam Muñoz Ryan; Cynthia Leitich Smith; Carmen Tafolla, and artists C. S. Jennings and Terry Ybañez." The event benefited the San Antonio Library Foundation's Born to Read initiative. Special thanks to Steve Bennett of the Express-News, to Deb and Robert Ferguson for the lovely reception, and to my author escort, Nancy Strehlow!

(Kathi, thank you again for my faerie wand! Tobin, I hope your cold is better!).


Greg and I stayed Friday night at the historic Fairmount (pictured) and Saturday through Monday night at The Westin, both of which are located on the River Walk. The most awesome thing about the Fairmount is that it has a hotel dog concierge, who greeted us at the door!''


On Saturday, Candlewick hosted a YA Fiesta with Marc Aronson, Patty Campbell, Rita Williams-Garcia, P. J. Haarsma, and Tobin Anderson at Charles Court! I had the privilege of sitting with CP editors Sarah Ketchersid and Hilary Van Dusen as well as Jim Blasingame of Arizona State (above), Peter Goggin, also of Arizona State, Marge Ford (AKA marvelous moderator) of Youngstown State, and Angela Beumer Johnson of Wright State.


At ALAN, I spoke with Melissa Marr and Rick Riordan on urban fantasy (again, moderated by Marge), and Greg spoke with Cory Doctorow and David Yoo on boys reading (moderated by Bonnie Kunzel, pictured above). Both panels went really well! It was my first time to meet Melissa, whose work I adore. Both she and Rick were gracious and inspiring.


Here's Greg (above) with Elaine Scott (author interview).


Say hello to John Green (author interview)(above).


David Levithan (author interview) and Coe Booth (above).


Walter "The Giant" Mayes (author interview)(above).


Neal Shusterman (above).


Barry Lyga (author interview)(above).


"New Voices in Young Adult Literature" Donna Freitas, Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, and Suzanne Crowley (author interview)(above).


Vermont College of Fine Arts alumni were at the heart of the action. Here's Debbie Gonzales with Greg (above).


Cindy Faughnan and Vanessa Ziff (above).


Helen Hemphill (author interview)(above). Check out "Considering Gender...," Helen's latest article at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "...here's a list of things to consider before you being writing across gender..." See also Two Writers Writing Across Gender with Varian Johnson and April Lurie.


Speaking of VCFA, here's a mid-report photo celebration of my faculty colleague, Rita Williams-Garcia (author interview) and friends.

First, we have Rita with Marc Aronson (author interview) and Patty Campbell (above). The trio spoke on a panel about Marc and Patty's new book, War is...: Soldiers, Survivors, and Storytellers Talk About War (Candlewick, 2008). Rita is a contributor. Favorite moment: Rita referring to herself as the "love child" of "Mother Peace" AKA Patty and "Father War" AKA Marc.


Next up we have Rita with author Tanya Lee Stone (author interview)(above). Tanya spoke on a breakout panel on Positive Depictions of Sex in Young Adult Literature with David Levithan (author interview), Laura Ruby (author interview), and Lara M. Zeises (author interview).


And finally, here's Rita on the River Walk (above). Note: I hadn't seen Rita in person for a whole year--can you tell I missed her?

Greg's editor, Alvina Ling of Little, Brown (above). (Thanks for the amazing brunch at La Mansión del Rio, Alvina!).


Highlights of the ALAN conference included Laurie Halse Anderson's speech. See Speak Up About Speak!

Don't miss NCTE/ALAN photo reports from authors Laurie Halse Anderson, Mary E. Pearson, and Greg (who details more of our goings-on). See also photo reports from Franki and Mary Lee at A Year of Reading.

Huge thanks to: Candlewick Press and Little, Brown; David Gill, Marge Ford, and the ALAN officers, board and conference planners; and everyone who took part in a great event! Thanks also to everyone who stopped by my signing at the Candlewick booth--I'm honored!

Reminders

rgz Blog-O-Hunt for Native American Heritage Month: a reminder from HipWriterMama. Deadline Nov. 30. Peek: "The first 25 correct entries will win rgz buttons and bookmarks!"

Fifth Annual Novel Writing Retreat at Vermont College of Fine Arts will be March 27 to March 29, 2009. Featuring: author Kathi Appelt; author Elise Broach; and editor Cheryl Klein of Scholastic. Includes: lectures; organized workshops; writing exercises; one-on-one critiques with one of the guest authors; one-on-one critique with guest editor (extra fee); open mike; discussions; room and board. Cost: $450. Registration begins Dec. 1. For more information, contact Sarah Aronson.

Take a Chance on Art: purchase one or more $5 raffle tickets to enter to win illustrator Don Tate's painting "Duke Ellington," and support the Texas Library Association Disaster Relief Fund. Note: it's especially important this year in light of devastation caused by Hurricane Ike. To learn more, read interviews with TLA librarian Jeanette Larson and illustrator Don Tate.

Hurricane Ike Recovery Fund for Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas. Peek: "The Children's Department, Technical Services, Circulation Department and Operations were located on the first Floor and all are gone. [emphasis added]" See more information. Note: Please consider yourself encouraged to pass on this blurb and link. The media has moved on to other stories, but efforts to deal with the aftermath are ongoing.

Hurricane Ike Library Relief: "Following the destructive visit of Hurricane Ike, Blue Willow Bookshop [in Houston] is initiating a nationwide campaign to rebuild the library collections of Anahuac High School, Freeport Intermediate School and, closer to home, the Alief Hastings 9th Grade Center. These schools lost more than 75% of their collections. Our goal is to have 1,000 books to deliver to these libraries by Dec. 1."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

10th Anniversary Feature: Ellen Booraem

In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of www.cynthialeitichsmith.com, I asked some
first-time authors the following question:

As a debut author, what are the most important lessons you've learned about your craft, the writing life, and/or publishing, and why?

Here's the latest reply, this one from author Ellen Booraem:

My time as a published debut author has just started as I write this. But I set out on this road five years ago, and the experience has been rife with revelations.

Being a member of the Class of 2k8 has been a crash course in publishing.

As readers of Cynsations no doubt recall, this is an on-line marketing collaborative for debut authors of middle grade and young adult novels published in 2008. There are 27 of us, with diverse backgrounds and experiences that we share daily on a Yahoo email loop and a blog.

My savvier 2k8 classmates have opened my eyes to the variety, richness, and power of the Internet. I never thought I'd have a blog or a Web site, or would be so enthusiastic about both. I had no idea that resources like Cynsations even existed!

Overall, though, the most far-reaching lesson came early, years before the Class of 2k8 was a glimmer in cyberspace.

Although I've written for a living for thirty years—mostly as a reporter and editor for rural weeklies--I got serious about novel-writing fairly late in my career.

I'd tried twice before to quit my job and write fiction, thinking I could freelance to pay the bills. Each time I got scared or bored or both, and allowed the freelancing to take over.

This third time, starting in November 2003, I was determined that I would keep my butt on that chair until I wrote a decent novel. About a month in, though, the inevitable morning came when I sat down, looked at the screen, and went blank. The panic rose like flood waters.

Uh-oh, I thought. Here we go.

This time, though, I pushed down the panic, opened a new document, and just started typing whatever came out of my brain about my main character, regardless of whether it made sense. A half-hour later, I was back at work on the manuscript, head clear and jitters banished.

Later, I modified the technique by writing "journals" in the voices of various characters--very illuminating for the story, and a healthy break from the daily slog.

I've written another novel, which I'm now revising for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and I'm still managing to trick my brain into working.

For years as a reporter, I warned sources to expect a phone call with last-minute questions when I was writing whatever story involved them.

"My brain engages only when my fingers start typing," I'd tell them.

This turns out to be just as true for fiction-writing--if I get the fingers moving on a keyboard, even if they're typing gibberish, eventually the brain sputters and coughs, smoke puffs out of the stack, and I start to chug along, the little novelist that could.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win a copy of Demigods and Monsters: Your Favorite Authors on Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, edited by Rick Riordan with Leah Wilson (BenBella, 2008)(PDF excerpt)! Read a Cynsations interview with Rick. From the promotional copy:

How are the Greek gods like your middle school principal?

Would you want to be one of Artemis's Hunters?

Why do so many monsters go into retail—and why are they never selling anything a demigod really wants?

At the beginning of The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson tells us to stop reading: if we suspect we, too, might be demigods, we should put the book down right away. But how can we, when the world he lives in is so much fun?

Spend a little more time in that world—a place where the gods bike among us, monsters man snack bars, and each of us has the potential to become a hero.


Contributors: Kathi Appelt; Rosemary Clement-Moore; Paul Collins; Cameron Dokey; Sarah Beth Durst; Jenny Han; Carolyn MacCullough; Sophie Masson; Elizabeth M. Rees; Nigel Rodgers; Ellen Steiber; and Elizabeth Wein.

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 2!

OR, if you're on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 2! But DON'T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I'll contact you for it if you win. Please also type "Demigods and Monsters" in the subject line.

Enter to win an autographed copy of Santa Knows by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman (Dutton, 2006)! Four runners up will receive audio productions of the book either on tape or CD (Scholastic Book Club, 2007)!

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 8! OR, if you're on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 8! But DON'T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I'll contact you for it if you win. Please also type "Santa Knows" in the subject line, and specify whether you prefer tape, CD, or either. Visit www.santa-knows.com!

The winners of The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins, 2008) were Christine, a librarian and tutor from Pennsylvania, and Rhonda, a Cynsational reader (and grandma) from Maine.

Jingle Dancer [by Cynthia Leitich Smith] Giveaway sponsored by Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature. From the publisher promotional copy: "Jenna, a contemporary Muscogee (Creek) girl in Oklahoma, wants to honor a family tradition by jingle dancing at the next powwow. But where will she find enough jingles for her dress? An unusual, warm family story, beautifully evoked in Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu's watercolor art." Deadline: Nov. 29. Learn more about Jingle Dancer. See details on the giveaway. Note: I'll gladly send a personalized bookplate to the winner!

More News

Virtual Writers' Conferences by Donna Gephart at Wild About Words. Peek: "...when you need a boost of inspiration and information, explore these virtual writers' conferences until you're able to make it to the real thing." Read a Cynsations interview with Donna.

The winner of the National Book Award in Young Peoples Literature is Judy Blundell, author What I Saw and How I Lied (Scholastic); finalists were: Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Chains (Simon & Schuster); Kathi Appelt, The Underneath (Atheneum); E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (Hyperion); and Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now (Alfred A. Knopf).

2008 Winter Blog Blast from Chasing Ray. Highlights include: M. T. Anderson from Finding Wonderland: the WritingYA Weblog. Peek: "I believe that the language we use not only defines us, but in some way delimits and infuses what we see in the world around us." See also the Holiday Books Recommendation Event.

WBBT Interview: Tony DiTerlizzi by Miss Erin. Peek: "I feel that working in the fashion that was used in creating the Spiderwick books allows the collaborators to use all of their tricks, talents and point of view to create the best book possible. And doing so creates a final story that neither Holly nor I would create on our own--it truly is a hybrid."

Congratulations to the YA authors who made the latest Texas Library Association's Tayshas list! Highlights include: Flight by Sherman Alexie (Little Brown); The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (HarperCollins)(author interview); Shift by Jennifer Bradbury (Atheneum, 2008)(author interview); City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (McElderry, 2007)(author interview); Derby Girl by Shana Cross (Holt); Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey (Atheneum, 2008)(author interview); The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher (Wendy Lamb/Random House, 2007)(author interview); Right Behind You by Gail Giles (Little Brown)(author interview), Paper Towns by John Green (Dutton)(author interview); My Life as a Rhombus by Varian Johnson (Flux)(author interview); Bliss by Lauren Myracle (Abrams)(author interview); Breathe My Name by R. A. Nelson; The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick)(author interview); The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Holt)(author interview); Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott (HarperCollins)(author interview); Impossible by Nancy Werlin (Dial)(author interview); and Sweethearts by Sara Zarr (Little Brown)(author interview).

Congratulations to the authors whose books made the Texas Library Association's Lonestar List. Highlights included: The Compound by S. A. Bodeen (Feiwel and Friends, 2008)(author interview); The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas (FSG, 2008); The Found (The Missing, Book One) by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Simon & Schuster, 2008)(author interview); The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Holt, 2008)(author interview); the dead and the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Harcourt, 2008)(author interview); Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster, 2008); and How Not to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler (Delacorte, 2008)(author interview).

Food: a bibliography of recommended picture book and non-fiction reads from The Horn Book.

Author Heather Vogel Frederick is now on LiveJournal. Welcome, Heather! Source: Jo Knowles. Read a Cynsations interview with Heather.

The Great American Query Letter: Smoothly crafted letters aren't fooling this agent by Stephen Barbara from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Imagine my chagrin: one minute I'm intrigued by a smoothly crafted query letter, the next I'm staring down at a crackpot writing sample. For a literary agent who receives some 5,000 queries a year, this is a disastrous turn of affairs." Read a Cynsations interview with Stephen. Source: April Henry.

The Breathtaking Collages of Ed Young in Wabi Sabi (Little Brown, 2008): a feature by Mark G. Mitchell from How to Be a Children's Book Illustrator. Peek: "'It's flexible and alive. With other mediums you often get tight too quickly, then you get attached to it and it’s hard to change. Collage was something I used for sketching in the past. Now I use it to finish my work.'" Read Cynsations interviews with Ed and Mark.

Cover Art Interview with Saundra Mitchell on Shadowed Summer from Book Nymph. Peek: "I used to think I wanted a more classic typeface like Trajan for my cover, but I have grown to love the typeface they used for my title. It's called Cult, and it's so distinctive."

The D-Word by Sarah Sullivan from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "...how do you effectively capture a historical time and place without 'letting your research show,' by overloading the text with background information?"

Challenges and Rewards by Cynthia Lord. Peek: "Most authors who write about serious subjects will make some people angry or hurt, and I am no exception."

Query Clinic
from Editorial Anonymous. See also Synopsis Language.

Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog recommends: Swords: An Artist's Devotion by Ben Boos (Candlewick, 2008); Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times by L. Brittney (Feiwel & Friends 2008); Keeper of the Grail (The Youngest Templar, Book 1) by Michael Spradlin (Putnam, 2008); Lincoln Shot: A President's Life Remembered by Barry Denenberg, illustrated by Christopher Bing (Feiwel & Friends, 2008).

The Power of Youth from the Personal Blog of Shana Burg. Peek: "I want to shine the spotlight on a book for young readers called Witnesses to Freedom: Young People Who Fought for Civil Rights by Belinda Rochelle (Puffin, 1997)." Note: Congratulations to Shana, whose debut novel, A Thousand Never Evers (Delacorte, 2008) was included among the Amazon Editors' picks for middle readers! Read a Cynsations interview with Shana.

On Encouragement by Lisa Schroeder from Crowe's Nest. Peek: "That night, in my hotel room, I woke up in the middle of the night, and thought, what am I doing here? I almost got up and drove home at three in the morning! Fortunately, I didn’t act on that impulse." Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

Our Secret Society by Margo Rabb from Books, Chocolates, and Sundries. Peek: "Our (not-so-secret-anymore) Delacorte Dames & Dude Society is featured in Publisher's Weekly! Here are a few outtakes from our photo session." Note: very cute author group pics! Read Cynsations interviews with Shana Burg, Varian Johnson, April Lurie, Margo Rabb, and Jennifer Ziegler.

Cover Stories: Dead Girl Walking by Linda Joy Singleton from Melissa Walker. Peek: "Flux/Llewellyn often asks the author for cover suggestions. Then they let the art department and whoever is at their top secret meetings make the decisions (okay, the meetings probably aren't top secret, but as as author who would love to know what really goes on, they always sound mysterious to me)." Read a Cynsations interview with Linda Joy.

Selling Nonfiction With and Without an Agent by Marianne Dyson from the Institute of Children's Literature. Peek: "To be more appealing to editors, send in your query with a list of sources, photos, and interview subjects. An article or book proposal with quotes and photos will win every time over one without those things!" Read a Cynsations interview with Marianne.

Writing for ALA Book Links: "Writers interested in submitting to Book Links should have a strong background in children's literature and should study the magazine for its style, approach, and focus prior to sending a manuscript."

Project WISE 2009 - Call for Authors: The Writers' League of Texas seeks authors who want to participate in the 2009 season of Project WISE (Writers In Schools for Enrichment), a program designed to put children's authors in Austin-area public schools at no cost to the school. This program is funded by the Writers' League of Texas and by the City of Austin. Authors are paid an honorarium of $300 for each three-hour visit to a school. Application deadline: Dec. 2. Note: You must be a current WLT member to be considered. See more information.

Isinglass Teen Read List hosted at the Barrington (NH) Public Library. Note: click relevant link on Teen Zone page. Highlights of the 2008-2009 list include Beastly by Alex Flinn (HarperCollins, 2006)(author interview); Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale (Henry Holt, 2006)(author interview); Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick (Scholastic, 2004)(author interview); Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham (Candlewick, 2007)(author interview); Warrior Heir by Cinda Chima Williams (Hyperion, 2006)(author interview).

Something Real
by Mary E. Cronin at Tell It Slant. Peek: "But one goal still sticks clearly in my mind: I wrote that I wanted to have a poem published in a Lee Bennett Hopkins anthology some day." Note: sweet, inspiring, and LBH is one of my favorite people. So there.

Congratulations to Jessica Leader on the sale of Nice and Mean to Kate Angelella at Simon Mix!

Congratulations to Meredith Davis on being accepted to the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults! Meredith is the founder of Austin SCBWI.

Mitali Perkins Interview from Mother Reader. Peek: "I like to cross borders and shatter stereotypes, so I decided that in a book by a Boston-based writer of color published in New York, it would be good to make Sparrow's dad a Republican. I wanted to reach out to readers in red states who don't often see people in books who vote like their parents." Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

What Color is Your Revision?
from R. L. LaFevers. Peek: "I've discovered a enormously helpful new revision tool." Note: I'm going to try this for Blessed Candlewick, TBA)!

Interview with Elizabeth Scott from Becky's Book Reviews. Peek: "...the heart of Living Dead Girl is all about the moments where we see something--someone--that gives us pause, those moments where we know something is wrong...and turn away. That was, and is, the hardest thing to think about."

More Personally


Just for fun, here's one more pic of the Austin SCBWI Holiday Party at BookPeople--illustrator Erik Kuntz, Zack Proton author Brian Anderson, illustrator C. G. "Clint" Young, and YA author Thomas Pendleton AKA Dallas Reed (yes, he's a man of mystery).

Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) has received a couple of lovely online mentions of late!

In The Next Dead Thing by Donna Freitas from Publishers Weekly, Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston says "She's having success with Melissa Marr's novels, the Blue Bloods series from Melissa de la Cruz, as well as Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Beastly by Alex Finn." Source: Michelle Meadows.

In a recent interview with Tami Lewis Brown at Through the Tollbooth, agent Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary listed Tantalize among her favorite horror novels and said, "Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith is brilliant in mixing horror with food. A winning combination that somehow really works. The final scene, between Quincie and Kieren, is... Well, you'll just have to read it!" Read the whole interview.

readergirlz and ALA YALSA also partner each year on Operation Teen Book Drop, which asks publishers to donate 500 copies of a title to affiliated hospitals to be distributed among their young adult intensive care and oncology patients. I was thrilled to learn that Candlewick has committed to donating Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008)! More on that later!

Please come see me at NCTE/ALAN! Details below!

On a dare, Lauren Myracle faces her fear of doing the 'Thriller' dance in public..."



Events

NCTE and Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (ALAN) Workshop in San Antonio Nov. 24 to Nov. 25. An event I utterly adore for the depth of discussions, sophistication and dedication of the attendees-leadership, and wonderful company of fellow YA authors. Note: NCTE stands for "National Council of Teachers of English," which has a preceding conference. Please stop by the Candlewick booth at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, where I'll be signing ARCs of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), and look for me at the ALAN Panel - "Gods, Foods, and Tatoos: The Mixed Mythos of Fantasy" on Monday at 2 p.m. ish at the Marriot Rivercenter (Salon E, Third Floor Room). I'll be speaking with Melissa Marr (author interview) and Rick Riordan (author interview).

American Identity in Children's Literature: a symposium to take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Newberry Library in Chicago. "Four scholars will discuss the development of ethnic or multicultural children's literature, which seeks to diversify the all-white world of children's literature." Speakers are: June Cummins-Lewis, San Diego State University; Debbie Reese, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Michelle Martin, Clemson University; and Phillip Serrato, San Diego State University. Source: American Indians in Children's Literature.

More Reminders

Take a Chance on Art: purchase one or more $5 raffle tickets to enter to win illustrator Don Tate's painting "Duke Ellington," and support the Texas Library Association Disaster Relief Fund. Note: it's especially important this year in light of devastation caused by Hurricane Ike. To learn more, read interviews with TLA librarian Jeanette Larson and illustrator Don Tate.

Hurricane Ike Recovery Fund for Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas. Peek: "The Children's Department, Technical Services, Circulation Department and Operations were located on the first Floor and all are gone. [emphasis added]" See more information. Note: Please consider yourself encouraged to pass on this blurb and link. The media has moved on to other stories, but efforts to deal with the aftermath are ongoing.

Hurricane Ike Library Relief: "Following the destructive visit of Hurricane Ike, Blue Willow Bookshop [in Houston] is initiating a nationwide campaign to rebuild the library collections of Anahuac High School, Freeport Intermediate School and, closer to home, the Alief Hastings 9th Grade Center. These schools lost more than 75% of their collections. Our goal is to have 1,000 books to deliver to these libraries by Dec. 1."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Author Interview: Linda Joy Singleton on Dead Girl Walking

We last spoke in April 2007 about The Seer series (Llewellyn, 2004-). Could you update us on news of your writing life since that time?

Well, at that time I was getting a little nervous about what would sell next since I'd finished the fifth The Seer. I happened to mention my Dead Girl Walking book in an email to my editor, and he suggested I turn it into a series.

So a three-book Dead Girl series (Llewellyn/Flux, 2008-) was contracted in summer 2007. Since then I've been writing the books. As I'm typing today, in another window are revisions for number two, Dead Girl Dancing, and when these are done, I'll return to writing the third book, Dead Girl in Love.

I've been very lucky to find such a supportive publisher as Flux.

Congratulations on the publication of Dead Girl Walking (Flux, Sept. 2008)! Could you fill us in on the story?

In 1988, I came up with the idea of a girl having an out-of-body experience then returning to the wrong body. I subbed this around for a few years, then put it aside.

I brought it back a few times only nothing clicked until last summer when my previous editor at Flux, Andrew Karre [now at Carolrhoda], pointed out my heroine was too whiny and, if I'd rewrite her plus add more paranormal danger to the plot, he'd offer a three-book contract. I am forever grateful for his insight and delighted with the finished book.

What was your initial inspiration for writing this book?

I was curious what it would be like to live someone else's life. Also I've always had a fascination with otherworldly topics like astral projection, psychics, and near-death experiences.

When I came up with idea 20 years ago, I loved it but didn't realize it would take some years to hone my craft to do justice to the idea.

If you want to see an example of early writing compared to more seasoned writing, I posted the original first page in comparison to the published first page over at my LJ.

The first plan was for Dead Girl to be a middle-grade book with a light tone about a girl who falls to her near-death while trying to rescue a cat from a tall pole. Her real body would have died, and she would have had to deal with making a completely new life. When I ultimately sold it as a series, the ending drastically changed.

If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were beginning writer, what advice would you offer?

Rewrite more before submitting (I was always so impatient and subbed too soon). Also to learn more about craft. And to write the books I truly want to write rather than leaning toward those I thought would be easier to sell. But I really can't regret any of the packaged or ghost-written books I wrote as they were all learning experiences and I truly loved every book.

What special advice would you offer to those interested in writing a series?

Write one really strong first book that could stand alone. Dead Girl Walking was meant to be a single title, but I was flexible with my editor's suggestions and happy to stretch Amber's body-changing adventures into a trilogy.

Other than your own, what your three favorite YA titles of 2008?

Good question! I love to read juvenile books and get excited when I discover exciting new titles.

1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, 2008);
2. Little (Grrl) Lost by Charles DeLint (Viking, 2007);
3. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor, 2008).

Impossible by Nancy Werlin (Dial) was amazing, too. So was Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater (Flux)(author interview). Obviously there were other amazing books in 2008, these are just the ones I've found time and copies to read.

What can your fans look forward to next?

Dead Girl Dancing (Flux, March 2009), Dead Girl in Love (late 2009), and Into the Mirror (Blooming Tree, Oct. 2009), a middle-grade mystery.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

10th Anniversary Feature: Stacy A. Nyikos

In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of www.cynthialeitichsmith.com, I asked some first-time authors the following question:

As a debut author, what are the most important lessons you've learned about your craft, the writing life, and/or publishing, and why?

Here's the latest reply, this one from author Stacy A. Nyikos:

I had a very forthright editor once who said, "Stories are about emotions, my dear."

I nodded, my bottom lip trembling at the sight of the flocks of red marks soaring across my manuscript. I was having emotions. Lots of--sniff, sniff--emotions.

Of course, what she was trying to tell me was that emotions guide a story as much as--if not more than--plot, character, and sequence of events. Emotions have to be consistent. You can't have a sad character who suddenly gets happy, which is what I'd done.

As I deleted, I promised my now very distressed character we'd get out of the mess I'd gotten her into, but we had to get through trials and tribulations first. She wasn't happy, but she went along.

The story became all the richer both for the consistency of emotion that drove it, and the happy resolution it produced in the end. Dragon Wishes (Blooming Tree, 2008) became about redemption in the face of loss, not about running away from it.

For me, emotion is one of the core foundational blocks of a story. A story based on a driving emotion takes on a life outside of the sum of words and paragraphs that make up the narrative. It lives and breathes through the feelings evoked in my readers, lingering well after the words begin to fade.

TSRA Literature Awards

TSRA Literature Awards for Children

Awarded by the Texas State Reading Association.

Winner: When is a Planet Not a Planet? The Story of Pluto by Elaine Scott (Clarion)(author interview).

Honor: The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous by Suzanne Crowley (HarperCollins)(author interview).

Honor: Lightship by Brian Floca (Richard Jackson/Atheneum).

TSRA Literature Award for Young Adults

Winner: Derby Girl by Shauna Cross (Henry Holt).

Honor: Repossessed by A. M. Jenkins (HarperCollins)(author interview).

Honor: The Red Queen's Daughter by Jacqueline Kolosov (Hyperion).

Honor: Feels Like Home by E. E. Charlton-Trujillo (Laurel Leaf/Random House).
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