Monday, August 31, 2009

Author Interview: Nancy Bo Flood on Sand to Stone and Back Again

Learn about author-educator Nancy Bo Flood.

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

My path to publication has been a stumble-bumble path with an occasional sprint.

At first I dived right in and wrote novels. After several long manuscripts and no publication success, I paused and thought about what I needed to learn.

I signed up for writing courses (online, in "live" classrooms, and by correspondence) and attended workshops offered by local colleges and SCBWI. I wrote shorter pieces, fiction, and nonfiction. What a thrill it was to receive my first "yes" letter from an editor and then see my words in print (two years later).

I read all the children's books I could get my hands on--books recommended by librarians, teachers or award-winning books. I studied and analyzed them.

One personal writing goal was to have a piece printed in Cricket magazine, a favorite of my children's, and me, too. "One Hundred Coconuts and a Top Hat" was published and won several awards, including an SCBWI magazine merit award.

My first publishing success with articles and with books began with nonfiction. I recommend to every writer, consider writing nonfiction as well as fiction. Enjoy the challenge of taking a topic, such as rocks or hoo-doos, and use every creative writing skill to distill information and keep the wonder of Wow.

Could you update us on your back list, highlighting as you see fit?

The stories people tell have always fascinated me. Wherever I am, I search for the storytellers.

While living on a tropical island in the western Pacific, surrounded by white-sand beaches, coconut palms clattering in the sea breezes, and a few hermit crabs crawling over my toes, I listened to the people's stories. Sometimes they were told through dance, sometimes with masks, tattoos, or wood carvings. I tried to capture the heart of the stories and tell them together with cultural and historical information that gives meaning.

For example, in Pacific Island Legends (Bess Press, 1999), in a Yapese story, the clam sits. Through several chapters. The clam sits until page four, and then the clam is no longer present. For Western readers, a sitting clam may not be very meaningful, but for the island storytellers, this is a key element in the story. Cultural explanation is needed.

Marianas Island Legends I am especially happy about. I was the collector, the listener. The stories, poems and legends--fiction and nonfiction--were written or told to me by children, students, adults and seniors. To listen, record, listen again to corrections and elaborations, and weave the voices into one collection was a gift--mine to pass on as best I could.

Congratulations on the release of Sand to Stone and Back Again, illustrated by Tony Kuyper (Fulcrum, 2009). In your own words, could you tell us about the book?

This book broke all the rules. Tony Kuyper is a pharmacist at the clinic where my husband works. Tony is as particular and passionate about the magic of red rock and sunlight as he is about medicines.

On one of many outings, before dawn, we climbed into his old white pickup truck, sat knees to chin, squeezed between photographic equipment and bounced over a maze of sandy roads to a particular arch in order to catch the light on the rock exactly at the right angle at the first moment of sunrise, this month, this season….and as we waited for the sun to appear, Tony said, "Would you write a book for children about rock formations--a book we could create together, your words, my pictures?"

"Nope,” I said, "I don’t know anything about geology."

But the idea wouldn’t get out of my head. So I read over 100 books about geology, sedimentary rocks, igneous, etc. and struggled with concepts that kept spilling into thousands of mangled words until, ah-ha, the amazing idea I finally discovered is that rock changes.

Rock changes, just like you do, just like every child does. Rock changes…all the time and cycles back to sand.

Five years later, including revisions with Ellen Howard at Vermont College digging for that golden through line--voilá--Sand to Stone and Back Again.

What was your initial inspiration for writing the book?

Watching the sun’s light transform a sandstone arch--an arch bigger than a city bridge--into a blazing orange wall of color. Underneath the arch, walls of sandstone plunged straight down for a thousand feet. How could I bring that moment, that majesty, to a child?

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

About five years--not constantly revising but re-thinking. Sending out manuscripts, reviewing the reasons for rejection, rewriting, researching who might be interested, not giving up.

One day I remembered, Fulcrum Publishers out of Colorado does kids books, is interested in the southwest and science, maybe….

I sent the manuscript and one week later the publisher called on his Blackberry.

I thought it was some kind of joke at first. An editor doesn't call on a Blackberry to a place where I had to stand on top of a dune to get cell-phone reception. I happened to be walking my dog, standing on a dune, and then staring at the words coming out of my cell phone.

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

The challenge was two-fold, how to convey the wonder of the desert landscape, the ghoulish and mystical geological formations, with meaning to kids who aren’t naturally interested in "landscape." How could I find a story line that made sense to a five-year-old?

Then I realized that both sandstone and children have a life cycle, from birth to death. I had my story.

Then I needed to write the story and maintain scientific integrity and accuracy. No taking liberties with science.

What did Tony Kuyper's illustrations bring to your text?

Everything. Stunning photographs that somehow capture the mystery, the majesty.


[Tony's "Walking Above the Wormhole" is reproduced above with permission.]

The slim text could not hold all the information so I persuaded the editor to include a glossary--an engaging glossary with pictures and descriptions that intrigue. The editor and designer created a seamless weaving of photographs, text, and concepts from cover to glossary.

There's been a lot of talk about the ups-and-downs of the picture book market, but you've found success. What insights do you have to share on this front?

Be stubborn. Hold onto your passions. Look for solutions, rewrite. Celebrate the real world as well as creating fictional worlds. Continue to be stubborn.

When you believe in what you are writing, keep searching for "how to make the manuscript better, clearer, with a more compelling story," even if you are writing about mold.

For example, my current challenge is finding a publisher for a book about fungi--from mushrooms to mold--the ultimate recyclers.

As I re-write, I continue to search for a publisher with interests in this topic. Never overlook smaller regional publishers with niche markets, especially if that happens to also be your niche.

More globally, if you could go back and talk to yourself when you were a beginning writer, what advice would you offer?

Go back to school, in other words, seek ways to continue to learn the craft. Writing is a life-long learning process. Attend workshops, retreats and, if possible, plunge in and begin a low-residency MFA Creative Writing for Children and Young Adults program.

Develop your writing community, this may include critique groups, online or "in person," join professional organizations such as SCBWI; read and comment on writing/ literature blogs.

Get a sense of the people, the profession, the art, and the business. Read all types of children's books. Write, keep learning, re-writing.

What do you do when you're not writing?

Teaching, baking cookies (I'm the cookie-mama), writing letters, walking with my husband, my dog, my children, or alone.

How do you balance writing and promotion?

I don’t. My life gets lopsided all the time.

What other hats do you wear in the book world? How do these inform your craft?

I teach and continually learn from my students, everything from technical skills to new books/e-books graphic novels, new perspectives, and new insights.

I work with our Reservation library to develop resources through grants and donations (Books! We need books).

Politically, I voice my concerns as a member of the International Reading Association. I have been inspired by the work of others regarding multicultural issues and the need for books about and by contemporary Native Americans.

A special interest of mine is early literacy. I serve on the Arizona board of Reach Out and Read to bring books and literacy awareness to new families so babies have books being read to them.

What can your fans look forward to next?

Warriors Caught in the Crossfire. I am so excited. Shall I admit that I have been working on this book for ten years?

This young-adult novel tells the story of a Pacific Islander trying to survive as the American military attack and invade his island, Saipan. He and his family are caught in the crossfire between the Americans and Japanese. The book will become a reality this coming year, 2010, published by Front Street-Boyds Mills Press.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

As a psychologist, I observed that children worked through trauma by "re-playing" events through dolls, puppets, drawings, drama. They tell their story--over and over. Sometimes they would find the very story they needed in a book and ask to have it read again and again.

I observed the power of story and realized that is what we do, as children and as adults. In every culture, in many different ways--through dance, sand painting, song, chants, movies, plays, paintings--and books.

Story is a powerful way to build compassion and bridge understanding between cultures and between generations. Story has the power to entertain but more profoundly, to teach and to heal.

I wanted to create those stories.

Cynsational Notes

Nancy Bo Flood holds a PhD in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. She worked for many years as a child and family counselor and currently teaches college classes in Child Development and Psychology.

Nancy has lived and worked in many parts of the world--the U.S. Midwest, mountain West and desert Southwest, Hawaii, Japan, Africa, Haiti, Samoa, and Saipan. These places and people have formed her stories.

Nancy is the author of several collections of retold stories from the Pacific (From the Mouth of the Monster Eel, Pacific Island Legends, Marianas Island Legends, Micronesian Legends), a child counseling handbook (The Counseling Handbook), a book for parents of premature infants (Born Early), a children's book on school fears (I'll Go To School, If….), a children's book about the Navajo calendar (The Navajo Year: Walk Through Many Seasons, awarded the Children's Choice and Arizona Book Award).

Sand to Stone and Back Again, is her first collaboration with photographer Tony Kuyper.

Nancy lives with her pediatrician-husband on the Navajo Reservation in Northern Arizona.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cynsational News & Last Call for Eternal Audiobook, Elizabeth Scott, Ed Young & J. Patrick Lewis Book Giveaways

National Day on Writing Testimonials: "celebrities speak to the importance of writing, the National Day on Writing, and the National Gallery of Writing." Listen to authors Glenda Burgess, Jacqueline Jules, Sarah McCoy, Katherine Paterson, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Natasha Wing share our thoughts. Then Take Part in the National Day on Writing!

More News

Special Call for Illustrators of Color from Lee & Low at The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: "Lee & Low Books, an award-winning publisher of quality multicultural books for children, is looking for skilled artists of color who can bring picture book stories to life with originality and authenticity."

Beyond the Book: Geektastic, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (Little, Brown, 2009) from Alvina Ling at bloomabilities. Peek: "Sure, some of the stories speak mainly to hard-core geeks, and non-geeks might not get all the references. But that's kind of the point. This is a book for geeks, by geeks; but it's also a book for past geeks and future geeks." Notes: (1) don't miss Alvina's click-t0-enlarge geek resume; (2) stories include "The Wrath of Dawn" by Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith.

An Unusual Take on Conflict from Jennifer R. Hubbard at writerjenn. Peek: "If the characters avoid direct confrontation for a while, it builds tension." Source: Nathan Bransford.

New York v. Introverts by Mary Hershey at Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: "Elizabeth [Law] heartily encouraged us to get over it, and recognize that our editors (and agents!) are our business partners. Business partners? Wow. That really hit me. Not demigods?"

Moving on...Sometimes It's a Necessity by Emily Marshall at Author2Author. Peek: "If you are serious about your writing, you owe it to your book to have it be the best it can possibly be when trying to query agents, and if during the querying process you learn it’s not the best it can be, I think you need to stop, make it better, and then get back to querying. But how can you determine when to stop?"

Sylvan Dell Publishing's Blog: "a small publishing company in South Carolina doing amazing things for children's literacy. We have 45 picture books, amazing eBooks, and a focused mission of bringing science and math to children through literature."

An Interview with Illustrator Doug Cushman from Michelle Markel at The Cat and The Fiddle. Peek: "Pacing a picture book is the most important part of the process in my opinion. You want to make each page flow naturally into the next one but be true to the pace of the text as well." Note: Michelle also is giving away five copies of Tyrannosaurus Math (Tricycle/Random House, 2009).

Agent Follow-Ups from Moonrat at Editorial Ass. Peek: "...ask your prospective agent what their submission plan is like before you commit to working with them."

Anatomy of a Writer's Group by Allison Whittenberg at Crowe's Nest. Peek: "If you are thinking of creating your own writers group, here are some guidelines..."

A Writer At Home: Anita Silvey from Kimberly Willis Holt at A Pen and A Nest. Peek: "After thirty years of going into an office, I often have to pinch myself as I write at home. It is sometimes hard to believe that I am really working – when I go from my bed to my desk in a comfortable but tattered bathrobe." Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberly.

Killer Unicorns? BookKids Q&A with Diana Peterfreund Reveals All! from The BookKids Blog! by the crazy folks at BookPeople (of Austin, Texas). Peek: "I was an abstinent teen and I was sick and tired of being told that only religious people are abstinent or that I was necessarily 'saving myself' for my wedding night. The girls in my book chose not to become sexually active when unicorns weren't even around, and their reasons reflect the variety of experiences and beliefs that might shape those choices."

How Do We Know The Truth - For Sure? by Susan Kuklin from I.N.K.: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: "Writing both narratives and giving them equal weight turned out to have an unexpected benefit. The readers now had opposing material for debates. And they did. In the classroom and privately. With passion and conviction."

"How to Thrive in a Challenging Economic Climate: Seven Savvy Strategies" by Sheila Wipperman from the Institute of Children's Literature. Peek: "...here are a few strategies you can put into practice to stay on track and recession-proof your writing career."

An Open Letter to Agents, with a Modest Proposal Regarding Submissions by Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Editor Cheryl Klein. Peek: "There are lots of pieces involved in putting an offer together, one that will be both financially and artistically sustainable and successful for both the book and the house—And none of those pieces are improved by speed." See also In response to "A Modest Proposal Regarding Submissions" from Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, then a follow up from Cheryl and a follow up from D&GLM. Source: Alice's CWIM Blog. On a related note, check out Publishing Time by Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent.

Marketing Interview (& Contest) with Laura Purdie Salas from Becky Levine: Moving Forward on the Writing Path. Note: Laura talks about what did and didn't work in marketing her first book. Peek: "The fantastic blog Shrinking Violet Promotions was a great starting point for me. Also, I had been saving emails and articles and all sorts of stuff for years in a folder marked 'Promotion'. It was a 'someday' folder...and someday came, and I really did use a lot of that information!"

Multicultural Dialogue: Please Pass the Patate by Carmela Martino from Teaching Authors: Six Children's Authors Who Also Teach Writing. Peek: "Members of my own immigrant family speak with heavy accents and often intersperse Italian words, or Anglicized Italian, with English. If I tried to reproduce such speech in my novel, readers would have a difficult time deciphering it." Read a Cynsations interview with Carmela.

Getting Started on Twitter: A Quick Guide for Kid/YA Writers from Mitali Perkins at Mitali's Fire Escape. Peek: "I recommend using a real name if possible. Or a pen name if you use one. It's your brand, right?" Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

A Good Experience by Marc Aronson at Nonfiction Matters from School Library Journal. Peek: "All we need to do is reveal to our readers, to our book talk groups, to our classrooms, that every word in nonfiction is chosen, and chosen with as much care, craft, and deliberation as the narrative in a novel, or the beats in a poem. Once we do that, the world opens up." Read a Cynsations interview with Marc.

Meet Jerry Pinkney from BookPage. Peek: "I'm dyslexic, so I liked those classes where teachers understood my challenges, and allowed me the opportunity to exercise my own way of learning. I graduated with honors."

Pulverizing Writer's Block by Jo Whittemore at Jo's Journal. Peek: "Treatments for writer's block: Repeat after me. 'I can always revise." Especially if you're on your first draft, this should be your mantra. Right now, you're just nailing down the story, characters, dialogue. Revisions are going to hone and polish your work into a thing of beauty, so just concentrate on writing a rough version of the story first.'" Read a Cynsations interview with Jo.

Writing Through Interruptions by Kristi Holl from Writers First Aid. Peek: "So few of us live on a deserted island. Most writers--probably 90% or more–have to deal with distractions and interruptions."

In the Author's Tent: R.A. Nelson, Part Two: an author interview from Melodye Shore at Front Pages. Peek: "I don't worry about identifying with kids. I don't think of 'age' when I write, I just write. The kind of identification I care about is much deeper than bands or cell phones or Blackberries. It's beyond age or even gender. It's timeless and wrapped around the core of who we are." Don't miss Part One. Read a Cynsations interview with R.A. Nelson.

Terry Pratchett: State of the Nation by Lauren Barack from School Library Journal. Peek: "Children as a whole are more interesting as main characters because, by definition, there is lot that they don't know, and at the beginning of the book there is a lot that the reader does not know and so they can learn together." Source: Gail Gauthier at Original Content.

Digital Reviewing by Roger Sutton at Read Roger. Peek: "...picture books demand to be held, and the page-turn and your fingers are part of the story. Less ethereally, picture-book reviewers will often hold them at a distance to see how an image might carry across a story hour, or they will want to try one out with an individual child or group." Read a Cynsations interview with Roger.

The Annual KidLitosphere Conference: "The Kidlitosphere Conference is an annual gathering of the Society of Bloggers in Children's and Young Adult Literature. The 2009 conference will take place in Washington, DC, on Oct. 17. While sessions are not scheduled for Friday, a Library of Congress visit is currently in the planning stages. An informal outing in DC will be scheduled for Sunday as well." Source: The Brown Bookshelf.

An Interview with Novelist Laurie Halse Anderson from Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Peek: "As an artist, the last thing you want to do is repeat yourself. You want to keep pushing that boundary or else, again, you become a boring grown-up—why do that."

A Book Reviewer's Apologies by John Green at John Green's Blog. Peek: "The reason I felt like it didn't sound like actual teenagers IMing is because it didn't sound like me IMing, and I was not yet accustomed to the idea that my way of experiencing the Internet might be dated. I fancied myself such an expert in online communication that I felt I could be very high and mighty about emoticons. Okay. That was embarrassing, but also kinda cathartic." Note: John recommends How to be a reader: book evaluation vs. self-evaluation by Shannon Hale at squeetus blog. Read a Cynsations interview with John.

Cynsational Notes

Are you sponsoring a children's/YA book giveaway/contest? Did you post an in-depth interview with an author, illustrator, editor, agent, or other book professional? Did you just compile, say, an annotated bibliography of books set in Mexico? Or on the civil rights movement? Did you pour a week into writing an article about craft, publishing, or the literature community that uplifts/inspires/informs? Did you launch your own new author/illustrator site or blog? Or have it professionally redesigned?

I'm looking for substantive links to share. Please let me know, so I can pass your good news onto my readers and hopefully send some visitors your way. Send the title of the link, the URL, and/or a brief description or quoted excerpt (in the fashion of the links shown above).

Note: round-ups usually appear on Fridays, so a contest that's, say, announced Monday and closed Wednesday of the same week is not a great fit for me.

More Personally

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith from Jen Wardrip at Authors Unleashed (the blog of TeensReadToo). Peek:

"You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your teen readers. What would it be?

"Don't lose yourself in another person. Everyone loves love, but don't forget to love and honor yourself, too. It's okay to choose to stand strong on your own."

We're Going to Need Bigger Bookshelves... by Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: "We just discovered that the post office has been holding incoming packages addressed to our PO Box without letting us know they were being held (No, we don't know why). Yesterday, we went to pick up our mail, and discovered three months worth of review copies. (That's six postal bins worth)." Note: we're on it!

Reminder: I'm still on deadline on Blessed (Candlewick, 2010) until after Labor Day weekend. Please hold off on sending any optional e-correspondence. Note: if your interview answers are due or you're sending a news release/link of interest to Cynsations readers, this does not apply to you! Thanks so much!

Last Call for August Giveaways

Enter to win one of two copies of the new Eternal audiobook (Listening Library, 2009)! One copy will be reserved for a teacher, librarian and/or university professor of children's-YA literature, and one will go to any Cynsations reader!

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Eternal audio" in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the title in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31! Reminder: teachers, librarians, and professors should ID themselves in their entries!


Enter to win a paperback of Stealing Heaven (Harper, 2008) and a hardcover of Love You Hate You Miss You (Harper, 2009), both by Elizabeth Scott. To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Elizabeth Scott" in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31. Read a related Cynsations interview with Elizabeth.

Enter to win both Tsunami! by Kimiko Kajikawa, illustrated by Ed Young (Philomel, 2009) and Hook by Ed Young (Roaring Brook, 2009)! To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Ed Young" in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31. Read a previous Cynsations interview with Ed.

Enter to win Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Ethan Long (Little, Brown, 2009). To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "J. Patrick Lewis" in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31. Read a previous Cynsations interview with J. Patrick Lewis.

Austin Events

Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Day in the Lone Star State: acclaimed authors Kathi Appelt and Sharon Darrow will lead a conference on the craft of writing for young readers on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 at Teravista (4333 Teravista Club Dr.) in Round Rock, which is located just 20 minutes north of Austin. Note: open to alumni and all other serious writers for young readers! Participants are incoming from nation wide. Spots are filling fast--only 7 more spots available!--register today! See more information. Read previous Cynsations interviews with Kathi and Sharon.

"The Main Elements of Story: Plot, Character, Setting, and Theme" with National SCBWI Speaker Chris Eboch sponsored by Austin SCBWI is scheduled for Oct. 10. Attendees will receive a $10 discount when registering for the local January 2010 conference. Seating is limited. Registration opens July 6. Note: Austin SCBWI events often sell out. From the author site: Chris has a new series, Haunted, debuting August 2009 [from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin] with two books: The Ghost on the Stairs and The Riverboat Phantom.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Craft, Career & Cheer: Jo Knowles

Learn more about Jo Knowles, and visit her LJ.

What do you love most about your creative life? Why?

Growing up as a very quiet, shy kid I felt overlooked an awful lot. I never really felt like I had much of a voice. Of course, I wouldn’t have worded it that way, but I guess my overall feeling was that no one really listened to me. Heck, half the time I felt like no one noticed I was even there.

The thing about feeling invisible, though, is that it makes you an observer. I think I've always watched and listened to people and imagined their "back stories" in my head.

As a kid I used to wonder why other kids or teachers or, well, everyone really, acted the way they did. Why was Mrs. R. such a LOUD TALKER. Why was S always so grumpy?

I created some pretty fantastic reasons which I'm sure were all untrue. But that's probably when I started becoming a writer.

Now, I do have a voice. I can write down all those back stories and give them center stage. I can write a story about a kid who's always grumpy, and I can show my readers why and maybe get them to think about the kid sitting next to them who seems sad and distant. And maybe the next time they have a chance to say something to that kid, they will.

I mean, I'm not writing to teach. I'm writing to encourage thought. To entertain, but to challenge, too. Isn't that what we all do?

For the first time in my life, people are asking me questions. They want to hear me. It's a heady and overwhelming feeling. I admit sometimes I want to go back to that invisible time.

But even that quiet child-me that still lives in my heart gives me a little tug and says, No. Listen. I have something to say. This creative life lets me speak and be heard, and I’m extremely grateful for that.

Why is your agent the right agent for you?

My agent, Barry Goldblatt, believes in the better me--the me that I often don't believe exists. Usually when I give Barry a new project, I feel pretty confident that this time he’s going to love it on the first go. But so far, that has never happened.

But for me, once I get over the initial overwhelmed feeling of failure, I realize he's right. I didn’t go where I needed to go yet. And Barry’s feedback is the permission I need to go there—to explore the complexities I may have been afraid of, or tried to convince myself weren't there. Barry’s feedback makes me feel safer about taking that journey.

In your own words, could you tell us about your latest book?

Jumping Off Swings (Candlewick, 2009) is told from four points of view—two girls and two boys. It explores how one girl’s pregnancy affects each of them in different but profound ways.

What can your fans look forward to next?

I recently sold my third novel, Pearl, to Henry Holt. It’s about a girl whose grandfather dies, unleashing some big family secrets that end up changing her relationships with those she loves—and herself—in unexpected and life-altering ways.

Cynsational Notes

Making the Most of Your Writing Group by Jo Knowles from her official author site. See also her list of recommended books on writing.

Read a previous Cynsations interview with Jo.

The Craft, Career & Cheer series features conversations with children's-YA book creators about positive aspects of their creative and professional lives.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Voice: Kathryn Fitzmaurice on The Year the Swallows Came Early

Kathryn Fitzmaurice is the first-time author of The Year the Swallows Came Early (HarperCollins, 2009). From the promotional copy:

Eleanor "Groovy" Robinson loves cooking and plans to go to culinary school just as soon as she's old enough.

But even Groovy's thoughtfully—planned menus won't fix the things that start to go wrong the year she turns eleven—suddenly, her father is in jail, her best friend's long-absent mother reappears, and the swallows that make their annual migration to her hometown arrive surprisingly early.

As Groovy begins to expect the unexpected, she learns about the importance of forgiveness, understands the complex stories of the people around her, and realizes that even an earthquake can't get in the way of a family that needs to come together.

Kathryn Fitzmaurice's lovely debut novel is distinctively Californian in its flavor. Her rich characters and strong sense of place feel both familiar and fresh at first meeting—and worth revisiting, again and again.


Who has been your most influential writing teacher or mentor and why?

I have taken many wonderful writing classes, but my grandmother has been the greatest influence and mentor on me becoming a writer.

The summer I turned 13, my mother sent me to New York City to visit my grandmother, who was a science fiction author. This was in the 70s, when science fiction was becoming very popular.

My grandmother led a very eclectic lifestyle. I remember we never did anything until late afternoon, and then we stayed up until 2 or 3 a.m. Sometimes, we went to dinner as late as 11 p.m.

Then when we returned, she'd sit down to write until very early in the morning. She told me she did this because the middle of the night was when people said and did things they normally wouldn't. She had a collection of porcelain owls, because they were creatures of the night. She studied paranormal events. She discussed things like inner motivations and secret desires.

She helped me to write my very first story that summer and stayed up all night typing it so I could have a real story like she had. At thirteen, it was one of the best times I'd ever had.

She worked very hard that summer revising a novel entitled Chrysalis of Death. And one day, we met her agent for lunch, and after listening to them discuss how my grandmother could make her characters into whomever she wanted, I decided that someday, I'd like to be a writer, too.

So after I announced my decision, my grandmother proceeded to send me books about writing techniques, books by classic authors, and literary essays for every birthday and Christmas holiday after. One of my favorite books she sent me when I was deep into a teenage poetry stage was a volume of poetry written by Emily Dickinson.

Inside the front cover, she wrote: Emily Dickinson is a revered poet. Perhaps the same can be said of K.H. someday. Love, Grandma Eleanor.

When she passed away, she left me a big box with all of her unfinished manuscripts in it [see photo below]. The box of manuscripts has been a huge inspiration to me. One of her short stories that I found inside the box is entitled "The Lake" and is about a group of zombies that take over remote area of a forest next to this lake.

So because of all of the encouragement she gave me and to honor her, I decided that when I sat down to write my own novel many years later, that I would name my main character after her and give her a grandmother very much like my own. I gave the grandmother in my story the same characteristics and even had her give a box of manuscripts to her granddaughter.

In fact, because I remember her revising Chrysalis of Death the summer I visited, I decided to include it in The Year the Swallows Came Early. So on page 148, my main character and her best friend find this manuscript and talk about it, along with a few of her others stories. I included her book, Chrysalis of Death, inside my book.

She never got to read even the first draft of my novel. But I did send it to her agent three years ago, who is still alive and working in NYC. After reading my book, my grandmother’s agent made the comment that she liked how I included my grandmother's books in my own books, and she thought my grandmother would have been very proud.

How have you approached the task of promoting your debut book? What online or real-space efforts are you making?

Well, like many other authors, I have a website. In addition, I recently started blogging about my experiences as a first-time author. My blog is linked to my website. I also joined facebook and recently participated in a short blog tour.

One very exciting effort is through a group of 25 other debut authors called The Class of 2K9. We band together as a group to help promote each other's work, and for moral support.

Another source for debut authors is AuthorsNow! This group evolved largely through the efforts of Cynthea Liu, who provides not only a huge source of information for writers through her own website and reference book, but has two teen debut books coming out this year, The Great Call of China (Speak Puffin, 2009) and Paris Pan Takes the Dare (GP Putnam’s Sons, 2009)

In addition, I've offered school visits and one very special appearance where I was at the Mission in San Juan Capistrano, California; for the celebration of the swallows retuning from Goya, Argentina, on March 19, St. Joseph's Day.

The swallows fly 7500 miles in just 30 days to return from their winter annual migration. Their return reminds me of a promise that can never be broken.



Cynsational Notes

Read an interview with Beverly Patt on the Class of 2k9 and an interview with Cynthea on AuthorsNow!

The New Voices Series is a celebration of debut authors of 2009. First-timers may also be featured in more traditional author interviews over the course of the year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

2009 Teens' Top Ten Voting Begins

From ALA/YALSA

"Teens will vote online from Aug. 24 through Sept. 18 at www.ala.org/teenstopten for their favorite books.

"The winners of the 2009 Teens' Top Ten will be announced in a webcast featuring WWE Superstars and Divas during Teen Read Week, Oct. 18-24.

"Tell your book group, youth organizations you work with, and any other groups you know that work with teens to come to www.ala.org/teenstopten between Aug. 24 and Sept. 18 and vote.

"The more teens who participate, the more accurately the winning list will reflect the reading tastes of teens all over the country!"

Cynsational Notes

I'm honored to report that Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) has been included among the 25 nominees!

See all the nominees (PDF)! Learn more about: Kristin Cashore; Kristin & P.C. Cast; Cassandra Clare (interview); Suzanne Collins; Isamu Fukui; Neil Gaiman; John Green (interview); Joanne Harris; Ellen Hopkins; E. Lockhart (interview); Zoe Marriott; Lisa McMann; Stephenie Meyer (interview); Katy Moran; Patrick Ness; Alyson Noel; Robin Palmer; Tamora Pierce; Elizabeth Scott (interview); Cynthia Leitich Smith (interviews); Sherri L. Smith; Lynn Weingarten; Nancy Werlin (interview); Lisa Yee (interview).

Snapshot: Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm on Babymouse

Learn more about author Jennifer L. Holm and author-illustrator Matthew Holm.

Then visit Jennifer & Matthew Holm (brother-and-sister troublemakers) along with the one and only Babymouse!

Could you describe the best experience you've had working with an editor?

The best experience we've had has been working with our Random House publishing crew (we think of them as our "dream team") – "Super Editor" Shana Corey and "Visionary Art Director" Cathy Goldsmith. They are the publishing whizzes behind Babymouse (Random House).

From day one, Shana and Cathy (and everyone else at RH for that matter!) just "got" Babymouse. And now this was years ago, back in the stone ages, before everyone was talking graphic novels for kids (we're talking about 2003 here, folks). Their enthusiasm and thinking-outside-the-box helped shape the Babymouse books.

What do you love most about being an author? Why?

We get to make comics for a living! (What could be better?)

Jenni especially likes being able to wear pajamas all day and read other comics "as work."

Matt always wanted a dog, and illustrating from home has allowed him to have a big lug of a puppy he can walk all day long.

In your own words, could you tell us about your latest book?

Babymouse: Dragonslayer (Random House) will be fighting its way into stores this August 25!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Craft, Career & Cheer: Brian Yansky

Learn about Brian Yansky. Read Brian's Blog: Writer Talk: Random thoughts on the art and craft of fiction writing.

How do you psyche yourself up to keep writing?

I think one way I psyche myself up is by making writing a habit. Like most habits, it's helpful if you do it at about the same time and place every day. I like mornings, so I go to my computer every morning after a quick breakfast.

I always carry my first mug of coffee with me. I also like to sharpen one or two pencils before I start. The mug of coffee and the sharpened pencils let me know that it's time to write. All of this is a little trick to get my mind where it needs to go to begin writing.

If none of these little rituals work, sometimes I'll read the first pages of a manuscript.

Another trick is to stop your writing each day at a place where you know what will happen next. This gives you a place, as you begin writing the following day, of re-entry into the world of the manuscript. (I think I got this idea from a Francine Prose book; it was an old Hemingway trick, too.)

Usually these things get me writing.

But not always. There are days, bad days, when writing a sentence seems impossible. A paragraph? A scene? No.

Then I look out the window a lot, well, more than usual even. I pet the dogs. I let the dogs out. I let the dogs in. I remember that the dogs must eat. I feed the dogs. Sometimes I walk the dogs.

I've been "writing" maybe an hour or so by this time though the page may be as blank as when I started. Nevertheless, I wander back to my desk with a sense of purpose, which is an oxymoron, which is exactly what I feel like at that point.

Once at my desk, after more staring out the window, I remember I haven't checked my email yet. Twenty minutes later, after checking The New York Times web page and perhaps a blog or two, I force myself back to work.

Back to my scene, my scene that isn't a scene. Sometimes I do start to write at this point, I do finally get there, but if I can't, I might revise the scene before the one I'm working on.

More staring out the window. It's a nice day out there. The dogs, probably because they see me starring mournfully out my window, want to go out. The lab, as labs are fond of doing, begins to bark at what appears to be nothing and actually is nothing. But how can I be sure?

I go out to investigate. Then once I'm outside, well, the dogs need to be played with. Oddly, they go to the door after a while and leave me in the middle of the yard holding a stick.

Fine. In I go. Back to my desk. Back to my scene. My scene.

Wait, my scene. He walks into the room. He's afraid. Why didn't I see that before? Of course he's afraid. And I write. Time passes. I don't know where it goes. I write and I write and I write.

There are days like this. Days when it's really hard to get into the manuscript. But even on these days if I stay with it in my imperfect, distracted, inefficient way, I usually find that moment when the manuscript opens up for me and I can write.

Sometimes I get a lot of writing done in the last half-hour or even fifteen minutes of my writing time. I think it's important to show up every day you can, which should be most days, even the bad ones.

What do you love most about being an author? Why?

That's easy. The writing. Writing is full of wonders, and there are a few moments in every manuscript that are filled with a kind of grace.

I've read that Dickens would often be writing scenes from his novel with tears streaming down his face.

Writing is caring. You care about your characters and your story and the way you use language. Writing is love. Sometimes hate. This thing we do that actually removes us from life makes us experience life intensely. Writing is one of the ways I feel I’m alive.

Describe your upcoming book.

I will have a novel coming out next year from Candlewick titled Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences (2010). Aliens invade Earth, but the novel isn't about this often-told story.

The invasion itself takes about ten seconds because the aliens are telepaths and all our big, bad weapons are ineffective against their powers of the mind.

The story is about what happens after the invasion to those few who survive it. My main character, seventeen-year-old Jesse, like every other human who survives, is made a slave. As soon as the first waves of colonists arrive, he'll be sold and that will be his life.

At first Jesse and the friends he makes where he's held think there's no chance for escape. The aliens are just too strong. But constant contact with the aliens seems to awaken some telepathic powers in them. They begin to have hope that they can escape.

The story is about what happens to Jesse and his friends as they try to survive and redefine themselves in this new world.

Cynsational Notes

Brian's wife, Frances Hill, is the author of The Bug Cemetery, illustrated by Vera Rosenberry (Henry Holt, 2002). They make their home in Austin, Texas.

Brian's Blog offers a thoughtful discussion on the writer's life and craft. For example, the most recent post, rejection, states: "You have to be stubborn to be a writer. You have to be stubborn with the work itself and you have to be stubborn to keep going in the face of compelling reasons not to write at all, let alone try to make a career out of writing." Highly recommended.

The Craft, Career & Cheer series features conversations with children's-YA book creators about positive aspects of their creative and professional lives.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cynsational News & Giveaways

In celebration of The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z by Kate Messner (Walker, Sept. 1, 2009), children's-YA book folks in the video below answer the question: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

"The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z is a middle grade novel about a Vermont girl struggling to complete a monster school leaf collection project amid the usual middle school angst and some unusual family chaos. To help, her friend Zig invents 'The Tree Game' in which the kids assign trees to people they know, imagining what kind of tree they'd be if they were a tree, based on their personalities."

Note: The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z is featured on the IndieBound Fall Kids' Indie Next List, recommended for readers ages 9-12. See also Authors on the Verge: Meet Kate Messner from Cynthea Liu.



Learn more about the featured "trees"--Jon Scieszka, Tammi Sauer, Cynthea Liu, Mike Thaler, Lisa Schroeder, Malinda Lo, Betsy Bird (Fuse #8), Cindy Pon, Ashley Bryan, Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm, Kristina Springer, The Cat in the Hat, and Mo Willems.

Reader Surveys
Take the Teenreads.com Survey or Kidsreads.com Survey from TheBookReportNetwork.com. Peek: "We hope you will mention the surveys on your site and encourage all of the teens and children you know---and anyone else who loves young adult and children's books or works with youth---to take the surveys. We estimate the Teenreads.com survey will take 15 minutes and the Kidsreads.com survey will take 10 minutes."

For the Teenreads.com Survey, respondents from the U.S. and Canada will be eligible to enter a random drawing to receive a copy of one of 27 titles, which are being provided by publishers. There will be 775 winners selected. See the full list of 27 titles. The Teenreads.com Survey will close Aug. 31.

For the Kidsreads.com 2009 Reader Survey, respondents from the U.S. and Canada will be eligible to enter a random drawing to receive a copy of one of 24 titles, which are also provided by publishers. There will be 1,000 winners selected." See the full list of titles. "Children under 13 must have their parents/guardians complete a form in order to be eligible for the contest." The Kidsreads.com Survey will close Sept. 15.

More News

It's All Material: Finding the Truth Every Day by Deborah Heiligman from INK: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: "When the service was over, and everyone else filed out, I got my husband (who writes non-fiction for grown-ups) and a (lapsed Catholic) friend to go up to the priest with me. To say we interviewed him would be stretching it. We didn’t pull out tape recorders or notebooks, though we had notebooks with us, as we always do, and I was tempted."

Congratulations to Varian Johnson on the recent redesign of his official author site by Websy Daisy Web Design of Austin, Texas! Varian is the author of My Life As a Rhombus (Flux, 2008) and the forthcoming Saving Maddie (Delacorte, 2010). Learn more about Varian Johnson (and see kid pics of him). Read a Cynsations interview with Varian.

Twittering Made Simple by Kristi Holl at Writers First Aid. Peek: "Today let's talk about one of the most popular networking sites, Twitter–and how to simplify its use." See also If At First You Don't Succeed, Tweet, Tweet Again by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions.

Character Development with a Theatrical Approach by Mary Lindsey from QueryTracker.net. Peek: "Constantin Stanislavsky revolutionized the approach to portraying a character. He believed that an actor's job was not just to make a character recognizable and understood, it was to make a character believable."

MacLean Up at Trident from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Stephanie MacLean has been named a literary agent at Trident Media Group. ...will be specializing in...YA." Source: Children's Book Biz News.

Marvelous Marketer: Molly O'Neill (Assistant editor, Katherine Tegen Books) by Shelli at Market My Words: Rantings and ravings on how authors can better market their books to kids. Peek: "Success rarely comes from one aspect alone; it's the way things you do build upon one another, and on your publishers’ efforts, that come together can make a noticeable difference. And it takes time..."

Writing a novel, a love story by Libba Bray. Peek: "Thanks for meeting me here. Look, I'm just gonna come out with it. This--you, me--itThe trailer, featuring riffs by a cow suit-wearing Bray, is equally fantastic in its randomness. Our two favorite parts: “Boneless chicken” and 'That says, to me, I’m marked for death.'" 's not working. I'm sorry. It's not you, it's...actually it's you. You're stupid. And I sort of hate you. But, you know, thanks for the great line on p. 400." Note: very fun!

Libba Bray's 'Going Bovine': At least for her new book trailer! by Mandi Bierly from Entertainment Weekly. Peek: "The trailer, featuring riffs by a cow suit-wearing Bray, is equally fantastic in its randomness. Our two favorite parts: 'Boneless chicken' and 'That says, to me, I'm marked for death.'" Note: required watching! Read a Cynsations interview with Libba.

Interview with Paula Chase-Hyman by MissAttitude in Reading in Color. Peek: "In the end, you live with every decision you make. So you've got to make ones you can live with." See also a Cynsations interview with Paula.

How to Launch a Book Virtually: Q&A with Grace Lin from Mitali Perkins at Mitali's Fire Escape. Peek: "The easiest thing to do was to start a Facebook Fan Page. Once I found the links on how to do it on Facebook, it was a breeze. And it's been a great way to keep in contact with fans." Read a Cynsations interview with Grace.

50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know compiled by Ginny Moore Kruse and Kathleen T. Horning, updated by Kathleen T. Horning and Megan Schliesman (Cooperative Children's Book Center, 2001, 2006). Featured titles include Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich Smith (HarperCollins, 2002). Note: "At the CCBC, we define 'multicultural' literature as books by and about people of color: African and African Americans, American Indians, Asian/Pacifics and Asian Pacific Americans, and Latinos." Source: Uma Krishnaswami at Writing with a Broken Tusk, who notes that South Asians are not yet represented on this list. See also 30 Multicultural Books Every Teen Should Know compiled by Megan Schliesman and Kathleen T. Horning (Cooperative Children's Book Center, 2006).

South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora in Children's & YA Literature: An Annotated Bibliography from Pooja Makhijani. "Read an introduction for the motivations and methodology for this online resource." Read a Cynsations interview with Pooja.

A Few Words About School Visits from Kimberly Willis Holt. Peek: "If your class or book club plans to read one of my books this year, you are welcome to set up a thirty minute phone interview with me. I enjoy talking to readers and the only cost is for the long distance phone." Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberly.

An Interview with Suzanne Pfefferle - Pelican Publishing Company Publicist by Tina Nicholas Coury from Tales from the Rushmore Kid. Peek: "...we never stop. If there is a chance to promote a book that was published years ago, we will embrace the opportunity. Since we publish backlist titles, we will rarely let a book go out of print. Pelican makes a lifetime commitment toward promoting and selling the book."

"Do you think being a librarian affects how you approach writing a novel?" a response from Deena Lipomi at Author2Author. Peek: "The critical analysis part comes from lurking on librarian listservs, hearing what other librarians say about certain books -- and what their teens think -- and getting a ton of review journals and reading more review websites than before I was a librarian."

First draft blues from Heather Vogel Frederick at Set Sail for Adventure. A light look at the early writing process from a variety of authors. Peek: "I'm flailing away on the first draft of my next novel here, which I liken to trying to navigate through an unfamiliar house on roller skates, blindfolded. To cheer myself up, I asked a group of writer friends to share their analogies for the process." Read a Cynsations interview with Heather.

Black Women Kid Lit Illustrators: a listing compiled by Ed Spicer from Mitali Perkins at Mitali's Fire Escape.

Don't Forget the Details by Sarah Sullivan at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "In real life, when you meet someone new, you cannot possibly understand their deepest motivations immediately. You cannot understand how to sum them up in a single gesture or detail. So when you are writing a first draft, you must give yourself permission to keep going and not worry about how bland the details may seem."

Writing and Illustrating: Sharing Information About Writing and Illustrating for Children from Kathy Temean. Peek: "The goal of this blog is to bring and share information about Writing and Illustrating for children to published and unpublished authors and illustrators. I will post information I acquire from my interactions with editors and agents in the industry and share thoughts and techniques of other writers and illustrators in the field." Note: Kathy is the regional advisor in New Jersey for the SCBWI. She also runs Temean Consulting, a Web Design and Marketing company, teaches, and conducts marketing workshops for authors.

Mary Kole (scroll for bio) is a new Associate Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. Source: Children's Book Biz News.

"Plot" with Deborah Lynn Jacobs: an author chat from the Institute of Children's Literature. Peek: "There's a program I like, called Writer's Cafe, that allows you to track your plots and subplots. It's free, in the short version, and cheap if you buy the complete version. It has a neat function that allows you to link to web info that you used in your research. I found it useful, but sometimes found that tracking what I was doing took too much time away from the actual writing." Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah.

In the Authors' Tent: R.A. Nelson: an author interview from Melodye Shore at Front Pages. Peek: "...it is a real challenge to make a ghost story feel “real.” My first two novels had no fantastical elements, so it was satisfying to stretch my skills and try to bring that same level of realism to a completely unrealistic subject." Source: Tori at Journey of an Inquiring Mind. Read a Cynsations interview with R.A. Nelson.

Gothic Fantasy & Suspense for Teens & Tweens from my main website. Includes annotated recommendations, links to interviews and author sites and author blogs as well as related resources for writers. Note: always in the process of adding recommendations.

Exploring Diversity through Children's & Young Adult Books: Background Reading from my main website. See also Exploring Diversity: Themes & Communities. Note: please feel free to suggest resources, including your own.

60 Black Superwomen in Comics from Kyra at Black Threads in Kid's Lit. See video below. Kyra recommends the Black Superheroines Blog.



More Personally

Spooktacular news! Eternal (Candlewick) will be available in paperback in spring 2010! Thank you, Candlewick Press!

Thanks to Laurie Faria Stolarz for sending this shelf shot of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) from Barnes & Noble at the Prudential Center in Boston! Read a Cynsations interview with Laurie.

And congratulations to local author pal P.J. Hoover on her black belt! See photo. Note: Fellow Austin author Brian Yansky also has a black belt.

Hooray! I'll Be Speaking to Illinois Writers & Illustrators!

SCBWI-Illinois' Fifth Annual Prairie Writer's Day: Brick by Brick: The Architecture of Our Stories will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 14 at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. Speakers include: Stacy Cantor, associate editor at Walker; Nick Eliopulos, associate editor at Random House; T.S. Ferguson, assistant editor at Little, Brown; Yolanda LeRoy, editorial director at Charlesbridge; Cynthia Leitich Smith, award-winning author and Vermont College of Fine Arts faculty member; and Michael Stearns, agent and co-founder of Upstart Crow Literary. Read Cynsations interviews with Yolanda and Michael. Note: Mark has recently changed literary agencies.

Cynsations Giveaway Winners

Thank you to Cristina and all of the members of the Book Club at Facebook who entered the Eternal giveaway contest! The winner of a signed copy of Eternal was Ninfa from the UK. The runners-up, who will receive signed Eternal bookmarks were Lisa in West Virginia, Karla in Canada, and Kristi, who still needs to send in her address.

Eternal Audiobook Giveaway

Enter to win one of two copies of the new Eternal audiobook (Listening Library, 2009)! One copy will be reserved for a teacher, librarian and/or university professor of children's-YA literature, and one will go to any Cynsations reader!

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Eternal audio" in the subject line (Facebook and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the title in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31! Reminder: teachers, librarians, and professors should ID themselves in their entries!

More Cynsations Giveaways

Enter to win both Tsunami! by Kimiko Kajikawa, illustrated by Ed Young (Philomel, 2009) and Hook by Ed Young (Roaring Brook, 2009)! To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Ed Young" in the subject line (Facebook and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31. Read a previous Cynsations interview with Ed.

Enter to win Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Ethan Long (Little, Brown, 2009). To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "J. Patrick Lewis" in the subject line (Facebook and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31. Read a previous Cynsations interview with J. Patrick Lewis.

Enter to win a paperback of Stealing Heaven (Harper, 2008) and a hardcover of Love You Hate You Miss You (Harper, 2009), both by Elizabeth Scott. To enter this giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Elizabeth Scott" in the subject line (Facebook and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header). Deadline: Aug. 31. Read a related Cynsations interview with Elizabeth.

Austin Events
Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Day in the Lone Star State: acclaimed authors Kathi Appelt and Sharon Darrow will lead a conference on the craft of writing for young readers on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 at Teravista (4333 Teravista Club Dr.) in Round Rock, which is located just 20 minutes north of Austin. Note: open to alumni and all other serious writers for young readers! Participants are incoming from nation wide. Spots are filling fast--only 10 more spots available!--register today! See more information. Read previous Cynsations interviews with Kathi and Sharon.

"The Main Elements of Story: Plot, Character, Setting, and Theme" with National SCBWI Speaker Chris Eboch sponsored by Austin SCBWI is scheduled for Oct. 10. Attendees will receive a $10 discount when registering for the local January 2010 conference. Seating is limited. Registration opens July 6. Note: Austin SCBWI events often sell out. From the author site: Chris has a new series, Haunted, debuting August 2009 [from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin] with two books: The Ghost on the Stairs and The Riverboat Phantom.

Destination Publication: an annual conference of Austin SCBWI will be held Jan. 30, 2010, and registration will open Sept. 1. Conference faculty will include Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson, Caldecott illustrator David Diaz, Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein, author/FSG editor Lisa Graff, agent Andrea Cascardi, agent Mark McVeigh, agent Nathan Bransford, and a to-be-announced editor; see bios. Featured authors will include Chris Barton, Shana Burg, P.J. Hoover, Jessica Lee Anderson, Liz Garton Scanlon, Jennifer Ziegler, Philip Yates, and Patrice Barton; see author bios. Read Cynsations interviews with Mark, Nathan, Chris, Shana, Jessica, Liz, Jennifer, and Philip.
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