Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Booking Agent Interview: Jean Dayton of Dayton Bookings: Literary Tours and Promotions

Learn more about Dayton Bookings: Literary Tours and Promotions.

Could you offer a brief professional bio?

My experience working with books began in the Geneva, Illinois Public Library where I worked from middle school on through college. I began by typing (typing!) catalog cards. I particularly loved being in the children's section where I often hosted story hour. Over the years, I worked in academic libraries and book stores.

After having three boys, I took a decade off from working outside the house. When my boys were all settled in elementary school, I took a job as Community Relations Manager at a Barnes & Noble in Shreveport, Louisiana.

As a result of connections made through that job, I started my agency in 1999.

What led you to specialize in youth literature? Could you give us a snapshot of your career?

I have always loved children's books, but I confess that when I began my agency, I specialized in children's authors largely because I wanted my work year to reflect my boys' school year.

I have enjoyed many of the same benefits as teachers because my work load tends to be much lighter during the summer months. Now, even though my children are grown, I still enjoy the low volume of work during summertime!

Could you give us a brief history of Dayton Bookings: Literary Tours and Promotions?

As mentioned in the biography section, I began the agency in 1999 with one client (Kimberly Willis Holt). To this day, I am so grateful to Kimberly for offering me a start in what has become a wonderful career.

Through word of mouth, my client roster has grown to over 35 talented authors. I've made connections with teachers and librarians around the world as I have booked my authors into various venues. I celebrated the agency's 10th anniversary in January 2009.

What makes Dayton Bookings unique among event agencies?

The most important thing to me in accepting a client is their ability to speak eloquently and to connect with their audience. As all of us know, not all fine authors are equally fine speakers. So I work hard to ensure that all of the folks that I represent are both!

What was the inspiration for founding the agency?

I have always enjoyed the process of planning and organization and was able to combine that with my love of books and reading.

A lot of authors enjoy the opportunity to speak to students and readers, but really don't like the time that it takes to work through all of the details of a visit. I was happy to find a niche for my talents by assisting authors with the business and marketing so that they could use their time more effectively.

What is the scope of its activities?

I consider Dayton Bookings to be a "full service" agency. I take care of the initial contact, the contracting, the travel and itinerary details, and help to guide the contracting organization with book orders and anything else that they might need.

I try to make sure that both the author and the booking school or library have a positive experience by hyper-planning an event and trouble-shooting ahead of time.

Occasionally, I get involved in travel snafus (stormy weather, flight delays and cancellations), and then I just fly by the seat of my pants and hope for the best!

How would you describe your client base? Could you list some of the folks you're working with now?

I work with talented authors and wonderful people. My client roster is the best! I can provide schools with speakers who specialize in pre-K picture books clear up to speakers who can present to college students.

I work with a number of incredibly talented illustrators (Derek Anderson, Wendy Halperin, Loren Long, Ard Hoyt, Dan Yaccarino, Daniel Kirk) who can discuss process and draw on the spot for their audiences.

One of my clients, Jeff Stone, is a black-belt in kung fu and can bring students up on stage to learn and illustrate various fighting techniques.

Jane Kurtz brings international experience into the mix; she has lived in Africa and is active in a not-for-profit organization that continues to bring books to students in Ethiopia.

Many of my clients can do wonderful writing projects with students during their school visits.

I hate to mention just a few of my authors because each of them are unique and talented. I think that's why many people come back each year to book another Dayton Bookings author!

What do you consider in taking on a new client?

The main thing that I focus on is an individual's ability to speak eloquently and interestingly and to inspire students and adults.

How do you work? Do you field requests, make arrangements, negotiate contracts, follow-up, etc.?

Almost all of my authors have active websites and list me as the contact person for school, library and conference visits. I work the visit from contracting to completion and follow-up as necessary. It has been a happy occurrence that many of the schools and agencies that book one of my authors come back to inquire about visits from other clients. I feel like we're all part of a sharing community and each benefit from and help the others.

Do you actively seek out speaking opportunities, and if so, how?

I really haven't had to seek out speaking opportunities because word-of-mouth has kept both me and my authors quite busy.

Could you give us some idea of your rates and fee structure?

I charge a percentage of the author's speaking honorarium as my fee for taking care of the business of a visit. The authors are paid directly by the booking entity for their work, and I bill them quarterly for my services.

What sorts of event planners do you work with? Folks coordinating school visits, public library visits, conferences, etc.?

Every school seems to have their own unique set-up for booking author visits. Sometimes I work with volunteers from the PTA. Other times, an experienced school librarian will take charge of the visit.

One of the things that I like best about what I do is that I have developed wonderful friendships with a number of the folks that I have met around the country as I work with them to bring authors into their communities.

Why is there a need for such services?

I think that a well-organized and planned visit makes all the difference when it comes to a good experience for both the author and the students. Most authors don't have the time or inclination to spend the necessary time, so the services of a good booking agent can really help.

Also, it seems to be difficult for a lot of people to talk about money without feeling embarrassed. I have no problem whatsoever telling people what my authors charge and why they're more than worth it!

Given the downturn in the economy, have you seen a decrease in speaking opportunities? Why or why not?

I have actually seen somewhat of an upturn in speaking opportunities for a number of my authors. I hope that this keeps up, but I have considered the possibility that a number of the schools want to use existing funds while they still have them.

At any rate, the recession has been kind so far to my agency.

What are your thoughts on the rise of online author events?

I do help to facilitate some online author events, but I continue to believe that a personal contact has more impact on students than an online visit.

There are some obvious cost benefits to an online visit and, just like the Kindle fills some reader's needs in book procurement, I think that online visits will continue to fill some school and store needs in terms of author visits.

What should a prospective speaker consider in signing with a booking agency?

I think it's important to look at the other clients represented by any agency. You are judged by the company that you keep, so you'll want to be sure that the agency represents quality speakers in a professional manner before signing on.

Why does it make sense for event planners to work with booking agencies?

Event planners get the benefit of professional services and experience at no additional cost. Also, I think it's a little easier to communicate with booking agents than it is to try to track down authors.

Recently, a planner told me she'd be reluctant to work with a "represented" author on the theory that there would be an extra charge. Is her assumption valid or not?

I can't speak to the way that other agencies charge, but there is no extra charge for working with my agency. Actually, it's a wonderful benefit for the groups that book my authors because the booking comes with built-in service and assistance from my agency.

What, in your opinion, is the number one key to a successful author event and why?

I think that the key to a truly successful event is planning and preparation. If the students have read the books and studied the author ahead of time, it feels as though they are being re-introduced to a good friend when an author arrives at a school.

There is also a lot to be said for building excitement and anticipation prior to the visit.

Some of my authors have visited schools that have done art projects and writing projects based on their books. The sense of enthusiasm is palpable, and they know that they're in for a wonderful experience.

Cynsational Notes

See Tips for Planning a Great Visit from Dayton Bookings. See also Dayton's author list, information on booking an author, and information for prospective clients.

Cynthia Leitich Smith is available for 2010-2011 non-publisher-sponsored events through Dayton Bookings.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Craft, Career & Cheer: Kerry Madden

Learn about Kerry Madden, and read her LJ. Kerry's books include Harper Lee (Viking, 2009).

Could you tell us about your writing community—your critique group or critique partner or other sources of creative support?

I attended the first meeting of my writing group in spring of 1991. My son Flannery was two-and-a-half, and my daughter Lucy was six-months-old. It was a Thursday evening, and I felt like I was sneaking out of the house with illicit behavior in mind. After all, who would put the babies to bed? Their father, my husband, would, of course (and did), but could I really be gone from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. with a group of women I hardly knew? Wasn't I being just a little selfish to go out on a weeknight to a writing group when I was hardly a writer?

Two little ones, and I had published nothing. I was teaching ESL in East Los Angeles everyday at Garfield Adult School. My only produced work had been bad, static plays at college with winning titles like "Tea Time," "All You Can," "Make Me A Sacrifice," and most evocative of all - "Colors." I'd never been published in anything except the "Daily Beacon" newspaper at the University of Tennessee.

I would be among "real" writers who knew so much more than I did, and maybe it would be better for everyone if I turned around and went back home to help get the kids in bed and cleaned the kitchen. But I didn't turn around. I found the address on a winding Silver Lake street in the days before MapQuest or Google. I went to that group.

I found an impressively clean bathroom with candles, an equally impressive clean kitchen with tea and coffee, a huge dog named Atticus, and a room of women writers.

It's 2009, and I am still going to that writers' group. Only a few of us were published back then, and now we've all published in our different genres. But more than publishing and more than the honest and incredibly insightful reads and critiques they have given me over the years, I found my best friends.

I found a place to bring work in when it was a mess, and I found a place to share work when it was finding its legs. I learned so much about writing and teaching by listening to these smart women who left their kids at home for one night every two weeks to workshop stories.

I wrote Offsides (Morrow, 1996), my first novel, with the help of this group. My Maggie Valley characters (Viking, 2005-2008) were first tried out in living rooms of the different writers in my writing group.

I would tell any new writer, full of doubt, full of fear, to silence all the naysayers and find a writing group that works for you.

Find one that "gets" you and your work even when it's raw and new. Find a group where the members rejoice in your success and you rejoice in theirs too. Show up at their readings and buy their books.

I almost turned around that night in 1991. There were a million reasons not to go. But I am so glad I didn't.

I needed the support of a group and deadlines and focus in the chaos of raising babies and teaching. I felt like a writer again that night, and maybe it was the first time I knew I was in it for the long haul no matter what.

If you were writing your recipe for success, how would you proportion out the time and effort you spend researching, writing, marketing manuscripts, dealing with business correspondence, doing online promotion, doing real-space publicity, speaking at events, and/or teaching/critiquing? What about this combination works for you?

This is the hardest of all for me, especially as of late. I think I have the reputation of doing it well. I blog, I post kids' stories on my blog, and I love doing so. I set up my readings as writing workshops for kids. I love the connection with young writers and getting them to write stories.

But I am going to be honest here: In the world of publicity and promotion, I have, at times, felt like an Appalachian Willy Loman, hawking books at the Pancake House or reading over the loudspeaker to drum up sales at bookstores or sharing the stage with Clifford, the Big Red Dog and/or the Care Bears.

If I were to be completely honest, I would have to say that I have reached a screeching roadblock with PR and book promotion. My agent tells me that very few of her authors work as hard as I do in promotion. The publicity people at my publishing house said they needed to take a nap after reading one of my tour schedules. They have asked me to write up promotion tips for their new authors, and I have done so. I have hired booking people for schools visits (Winding Oak, and honestly, they've been a big help) and I have hired freelance publicists, too, who are also terrific. I have financed my own book tours, bookmarks, postcards, and done many free school visits.

The reason I've been so gung-ho is that in 1998, I watched my first book, Offsides, go out of print, and I vowed I wouldn't let it happen again. I thought if I did it all myself and proved I could do it all myself without whining or being difficult, then I could keep my books in print and begin to make a living as a writer.

And after five years of the dance of promotion and writing, I'm stepping back. I've told my editor, and I have her full support. I don't know how far exactly I'm stepping back, but I know my energy needs to be about writing first, and second, connecting with the kids, teachers, and librarians. If I don't do the first, then the second isn't necessary. That is what makes the most sense to me.

I think what I've learned and what every author needs to learn is that we need to find a balance and to be comfortable doing what we can reasonably expect of ourselves, and every writer has his or her own threshold. So with that in mind, this is what I feel I can do and not lose my mind in the publicity blitz.

a. I will continue to do a few free school visits with kids who would otherwise never get to meet an author.

b. I will send out postcards, give out bookmarks, donate books, and keep my website updated.

c. I will continue to keep posting stories from children who want to be "Writers of the Day."

d. I will continue to support other writers, because I have been so incredibly and lovingly supported in this writing community, and it's vital to do so.

e. I will carve out time at least once a week to do PR and updates, but I will not let it take over my life, which it has threatened to do in the past.

f. I will continue to do all my readings and workshops at indie bookstores because they are the reason my books are still alive--the indie booksellers rock, and I will be forever grateful to them.

And I am sure I will do other things...but what I won't do?

I won't read on stage with Clifford or the Care Bears or the Wolf Man (a mountain man who does a show with live wolves at "Ghost Town in the Sky" in Maggie Valley--okay maybe I'll read with the Wolf Man, but definitely not Clifford or The Care Bears). I probably won't do a book trailer, though, I know I should, and I am in awe of those who do such beautiful book trailers. I won't do PR and book promotion before I work on my new novel.

PR and book promotion must come after the writing, never before. With PR and book promotion, it will never ever be enough, so as writers, we have to define what exactly is our "enough" and accept it and get back to the business of writing our stories.

What can your fans look forward to next?

I wanted to do something completely different from the Maggie Valley Trilogy, and the Harper Lee biography, so I'm having a great time working on a new novel called The Fifth Grade Life of Jack Gettlefinger. I began working on it in earnest at Kindling Words West in 2008 and received terrific feedback.

My son Flannery gave me his journal from that time, so it's a valentine to my own kids. Jack is a boy who loves costumes and characters and wants to produce "The Werewolf Hamlet" at his school in order to leave a legacy in the 5th grade. This is a brief section from chapter one:

My mom is mad because I missed the first day of fifth grade. Hello, I am sick! Very sick! But my little sister Sidney still brought me my school journal, and I have been commanded from Fifth Grade Headquarters to think of a name for it.

And so right in the middle of watching the classic 1941 "The Wolf Man," starring Lon Chaney Junior, all the sudden this journal gets shoved right in my face. I hate it already.

Why are teachers always forcing kids to write?
I have nothing to write about, but I do have a name in mind for this school journal. I am going to call it: "The Fifth Grade Life of Jack Gettlefinger."

I could add the following words: "Forced against his will to keep a school journal." It's very tempting. But I don’t think my teacher, Mrs. Tucker, would like it so much.


Cynsational Notes

The Complete List of Links to the Penguin Blog of Harper Lee Research..500 word stories of Monroeville and Gee's Bend. See also Monday, Miss Alice Lee; Tuesday, Mr. George Thomas Jones; Wednesday, Jennings Carter; Thursday, A.B. Blass and the Christmas Parade; and Friday, Gee's Bend, Two Alabama Girls.

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

Immortal: Love Stories with Bite Now Available at Stores Throughout the U.S.

Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella, Oct. 2009) has been re-released to bookstores nation-wide!

This edition includes a new short story by Rachel Vincent. This vampire-themed YA anthology also includes short stories by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kristin Cast, Rachel Caine, Tanith Lee, Nancy Holder, Richelle Mead, Rachel Vincent, and Claudia Gray.

Read a PDF excerpt which highlights my short story, "Haunted Love." The story is set in the same universe as Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and features new characters.

Look for a Cynsational giveaway of this book later this month during YALSA's Teen Read Week!

Cynsational Notes

The anthology was previously available exclusively through Borders/Waldenbooks, but now, readers should be able to find/order it anywhere!

Monday, October 05, 2009

2009 WLT Teddy Award Finalists: Kathi Appelt, Dotti Enderle, Xavier Garza & Jennifer Ziegler

Congratulations to the 2009 finalists for the Writers' League of Texas Teddy Book Award: The Underneath (Atheneum) by Kathi Appelt of College Station, Texas; Man in the Moon (Delacorte) by Dotti Enderle of Richmond, Texas; Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid (Cinco Puntos) by Xavier Garza of San Antonio, Texas; and How Not to Be Popular (Delacorte) by Jennifer Ziegler of Austin, Texas.

From the promotional copy of The Underneath:

There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for a while, and then abandoned on the side of the road.

A calico cat, about to have kittens, hears the lonely howl of a chained-up hound deep in the backwaters of the bayou. She dares to find him in the forest, and the hound dares to befriend this cat, this feline, this creature he is supposed to hate. They are an unlikely pair, about to become an unlikely family. Ranger urges the cat to hide underneath the porch, to raise her kittens there because Gar-Face, the man living inside the house, will surely use them as alligator bait should he find them. But they are safe in the Underneath...as long as they stay in the Underneath.

Kittens, however, are notoriously curious creatures. And one kitten's one moment of curiosity sets off a chain of events that is astonishing, remarkable, and enormous in its meaning. For everyone who loves Sounder, Shiloh, and The Yearling, for everyone who loves the haunting beauty of writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Flannery O'Connor, and Carson McCullers, Kathi Appelt spins a harrowing yet keenly sweet tale about the power of love -- and its opposite, hate -- the fragility of happiness and the importance of making good on your promises.

See the book trailer for The Underneath with music by Cooper Appelt:



In the video below from Simon & Schuster, Kathi talks about her motto:



From the promotional copy for Man in the Moon:

Janine is prepared for a sticky, boring summer on her family's land in the middle of nowhere. Far from town and with only her ailing brother Ricky for company, Janine spends half her time stuck inside with him, wishing that their mother would let them out to play.

But when Mr. Lunas--a mysterious man who saved Janine's father's life in the war--arrives through the cornfields, strange things begin happening. Mr. Lunas eats them out of house and home, then suddenly stops eating at all. And then Ricky's health takes a turn for the worse, and it looks like Janine's world is about to spin out of control.

Mr. Lunas comes to her rescue, encouraging her to break Ricky free--and then giving them both an enormous gift.


See a book trailer for Man in the Moon.



From the promotional copy of Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid:

Let's welcome Santa's newest helper: his cousin Pancho, a farmer living down in South Texas who is so smart he speaks Spanish and English. Back in the day, Pancho was a mariachi singer with a whole lot of style and a fancy sombrero. But as the years passed, Pancho got, well, a little older and a little wider all around. Then one night his primo Santa Claus showed up. Santa needed some help! Pancho volunteered. And then, poof, Santa transformed Pancho into the resplendent Charro Claus with his incredibly Flying Burritos. And Charro Claus, it turns out, even had his own surprise elf—his nephew Vincente!

All Christmas Eve, Vincente and Pancho deliver toys to the boys and girls on the border. Neither rain, cloudy skies, wire fences nor concrete walls keep them from covering every inch of their newly assigned territory. And they don’t forget a single town or city. How could they? The border is their home.

From the promotional copy of How Not to be Popular:

Maggie Dempsey is tired of moving all over the country. Her parents are blowin’-in-the-wind hippies who uproot her every few months to go to a new city. When Maggie was younger, she thought their life was fun and adventurous. Now that she’s a teenager, she hates it.

Each time she moved, she left behind good friends, a great school, and a real feeling of belonging. But this last time she moved it was even worse: she left behind a boyfriend, too.

Now that they’re moving to Austin, Texas, Maggie knows better. She’s not going to make friends. She’s not going to fit in. And she’s definitely not going to fall for the alpha hottie who won’t leave her alone—no matter how gorgeous he is.

Instead, she will dress like a mental patient, in muumuus and flowered swim caps. She will say and do the wrong things at the wrong times. She will have a bad hair day every day. Anything to prevent her from liking this new place—and prevent the new people from liking her. That way it won’t hurt at all when she has to leave.

Only...things don’t go exactly as planned. A misfit won’t take the hint and becomes Maggie’s friend anyway. And as wrecked as she is over the boyfriend she left behind, Maggie feels...something...for the last person she would have imagined. Who knew not being popular could be so hard?

The winners will be announced at the Texas Book Festival at 3 p.m. Oct. 31, at the State Capitol in Austin. "This project is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art." See the finalists in all the Writers' League award categories.

New Voice: Lauren Bjorkman on My Invented Life

Lauren Bjorkman is the first-time author of My Invented Life (Henry Holt, 2009). From the promotional copy:

Roz and Eva are sisters, friends, and rivals. Roz fantasizes about snagging the lead in the school play and landing sexy skate god Bryan as her boyfriend.

Sadly, a few obstacles stand between her and her dream. For one, Eva is the more talented actress. And Bryan happens to be Eva's boyfriend. But does Eva have a secret life with her cheerleading partner? Inquiring minds need to know.

Roz, who prides herself on random acts of insanity, hatches a scheme to get Eva to open up. The plan backfires, and Eva is furious. Roz finds herself neck deep in her invented life.

When Roz meets a mercurial boy with a big problem, she begins to understand the complex feelings beneath the labels. And she gets a second chance to earn Eva’s trust.

My Invented Life is a YA novel set in a small California town during the rehearsal of "As You Like It" by William Shakespeare
.

How did you approach the research process for your story?

My story is about sisters, which didn't require much research. But I chose to write about sexual orientation, too, because of events around my high school reunion, and this was less familiar territory. In the beginning, the experiences my friends and classmates shared with me were not enough to go on. I started by reading a stack of novels for adults and teens–both classic and modern—written by and for the LGBT community, and a few for the community at large.

But I wanted to write for the whole LGBTQSU (lesbian, gay, bi, trans, questioning, straight, and unlabeled) community, and there weren't many books that did this, especially books written by a more or less straight person. To go deeper, I read dozens (maybe hundreds) of coming out stories online. Which I loved! These stories break your heart and lift your spirits, all in a few paragraphs. And I read piles of support literature to understand the issues better.

The breakthrough happened when I told my friends and family about my work-in-progress. The diversity of reactions would fill a novel. Many of my presumably straight friends shared about themselves--one had a lesbian phase in collage, one was bisexual, one had crushes on women, etc. This caught my attention, and made me to consider a more ambiguous sexual orientation for several of my characters.

Then the movie "Kinsey" came out. I read a lot about him, and his 0-6 scale of sexual orientation. Kinsey's scale and a conversation with a friend about how we label each other and ourselves sparked a sub-plot in my novel.

Besides researching issues around sexual orientation, I investigated the setting--a school production of a Shakespeare play--by attending my local high school's rehearsals for a "Midsummer's Night Rave." This helped me add authentic details to many scenes.

And I revised my book so many times. Between the library, the Internet, and my friends and family, my novel evolved into something entirely different from where it started.

As a comedic writer, how do you decide what’s funny? What advice do you have for those interested in either writing comedies or books with a substantial amount of humor in them?

E.B. White said, "Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it."

When I write the funny parts of my story, I turn off my analytical mind and get into the "zone." If I'm feeling anxious or self-critical, I don’t bother writing humor at all. Instead I focus on advancing the plot. After I've written a humorous bit, I hone it with my editing brain.

When revising humor, I pay a good deal of attention to word order. Timing is everything. Word choice is important, too.

To get a true sense of what's funny about my material, I subject myself to critique. There's no way around this. I find it best to read my work aloud to a group of four or more. What cracks one person up, may elicit a blank stare in others. Once I discover an angle that works, I write more in that vein. But I don’t always go with the majority opinion. Sometimes the obscure jokes are the real gems.

A book on humor writing has helped me--The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus (Silman-James Press, 1994). One particular bit of advice stayed with me. Choose a character trait for your main character that propels the humor. For instance, Roz, the main character in My Invented Life (Henry Holt, 2009), has fantasy moments that gave me countless opportunities to add humor and to show character development.

Once I write a funny bit, I use a related joke a second and third time, but often with a twist. Some readers dislike it when a writer does variations of a certain joke to death. To avoid this pitfall, I play with over a dozen running jokes in my story, usually relying on each one only a few times.

Another problem can arise from making one character funny, and writing everyone else as the "straight men." I try to give each character their own sense of humor.

One last word of advice. Write what you think is funny. Are there ridiculous moments that crop up in your own life? Use them. For instance, my husband is a pyromaniac, which makes me laugh. So I found a way to work his crazy antics into my novel.

Cynsational Notes

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.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Beyond Reality, Winner-Take-All, Spooky Cynsational Multi YA Books Giveaway

In celebration of the "Read Beyond Reality" theme of Teen Read Week, which is scheduled for Oct. 18 to Oct. 24, and the spooky season now upon us, I'm offering the biggest, winner-take-all Cynsational giveaway ever, with an emphasis on my latest release, Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), and several spooktacular read-alikes!

You can enter to win:


"At last, Miranda is the life of the party: all she had to do was die. Elevated and adopted by none other than the reigning King of the Mantle of Dracul, Miranda goes from high-school theater wannabe to glamorous royal fiend overnight.

"Meanwhile, her reckless and adoring guardian angel, Zachary, demoted to human guise as the princess's personal assistant, has his work cut out for him trying to save his girl’s soul and plan the Master's fast-approaching Death Day gala.

"In alternating points of view, Miranda and Zachary navigate a cut-throat eternal aristocracy as they play out a dangerous and darkly hilarious love story for the ages." Read an excerpt. See trailer by Shayne Leighton.

Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors (Walker, 2009). Peek: "When Katrina spots a homeless guy sleeping in the alley behind her grandmother's coffee shop, she decides to leave him a cup of coffee, a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some pastries to tide him over.

"Little does she know that this random act of kindness is about to turn her life upside down. Because this adorable vagrant, Malcolm, is really a guardian angel on a break between missions, and now he won't leave until he can reward Katrina's selflessness by fulfilling her deepest desire.

"Fame and fortune seem like the obvious requests, but after two botched wishes, Malcolm knows Katrina is hiding something from him. How can she tell him the truth, when her heart's desire has become Malcolm himself?

"Fans of romantic comedies will be clamoring for this heartfelt novel that is good to the last drop."

Far From You by Lisa Schroeder (Simon Pulse, 2009). From the promotional copy: "Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can be writing her music, losing herself in her love for her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife.

"But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful.

"Perhaps she's not so alone after all..."

How to Be a Vampire: A Fangs-On Guide for the Newly Undead by Amy Gray (Candlewick, November 2009). From the promotional copy: "Here the secrets of the undead are revealed, from how to be turned to how to fill eternity once you've been bitten, including: telling your family that you're a child of the night; dressing like the mysterious creature you are; and dos and don'ts of dating a mortal."

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (Harcourt, 2009). From the promotional copy: "Marrying a vampire definitely doesn't fit into Jessica Packwood's senior year 'get-a-life' plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth, and he's her long-lost fiance. Armed with new-found confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess.

"But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war, and save Lucius's soul from eternal destruction."

Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler (Simon Pulse, 2008); "In a romantic and suspenseful collection of the New York Times bestselling trilogy (Kissed by an Angel; The Power of Love; Soulmates), love's unbreakable bonds are put to the test.

"When her boyfriend, Tristan, died, Ivy thought she'd lost everything, even her faith in angels. But now she's discovered that he's her guardian angel--his presence so strong that she can feel the touch of his hand, the beat of his heart. Ivy needs Tristan now more than ever because he knows she's in terrible danger. Only Ivy's guardian angel can save her now that his killer is after her.

"But if Tristan rescues Ivy, his mission on earth will be finished, and he must leave her behind forever. Will saving Ivy mean losing her just when he's finally reached her again?"

Vamped by Lucienne Diver (Flux, 2009). From the promotional copy: "Vampire vixen Mellisande has taken an interest in my boyfriend, and is now transforming the entire high school into her own personal vampire army. If anyone's going to start their own undead entourage it should be me.

"I guess I'll just have to save everyone from fashion disasters and other fates worse than death."

To enter this mega giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Read Beyond Reality" in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, and MySpace readers are welcome to just message me with the name in the header; I'll contact you if you win).

You will get an extra chance to win for each of the following:

(1) you blog about the giveaway and link to my related announcement posts at Cynsations at Blogger, LiveJournal, JacketFlap, MySpace or Spookycyn (send me the URL to your post with your entry);

(2) you post the link to your Facebook or Twitter page (find me at Twitter and Facebook and message me on those systems so I can take a look);

(3) you are a YA teacher or librarian (indicate school/library with your entry message);

(4) you are a book blogger (teen or grown-up)(include the URL to your blog with your entry).

Deadline: midnight CST Oct. 30.

Good luck, stay spooky, and watch this blog for Teen Read Week interviews with several of the authors featured above!

Cynsational Notes

Check back during Teen Read Week--Oct. 18 to Oct. 24--for a chance to win the newly released Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella, Oct. 2009)!

This edition includes a new short story by Rachel Vincent. This vampire-themed YA anthology also includes short stories by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kristin Cast, Rachel Caine, Tanith Lee, Nancy Holder, Richelle Mead, Rachel Vincent, and Claudia Gray.

Note: Immortal will be available at bookstores nation-wide on Oct. 6.

Cynsational Events

"Beyond Daily Life" readergirlz Chat will feature Cynthia Leitich Smith (Eternal), rgz diva Holly Cupala (Tell Me a Secret), and Lisa McMann (Wake) on Oct. 21. "It all happens at the rgz forum (http://readergirlz.blogspot.com) beginning at 6 p.m. Pacific Time (7 p.m. Mountain Time, 8 p.m. Central Standard Time, 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time)." See the whole readergirlz "Read Beyond Reality" chat schedule for Oct. 19 to Oct. 23. See also more information.

The Texas Book Festival take place Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in Austin. Featured children's-YA authors include: Jessica Lee Anderson, Libba Bray, Janie Bynum, Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Keith Graves, Heather Hepler, K.A. Holt, Jacqueline Kelly, Rick Riordan, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Rene Saldana, Jr., Tammi Sauer, Liz Garton Scanlon, Anita Silvey, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Samantha R. Vamos, Rosemary Wells, Kathy Whitehead, Mo Willems, and Sara Zarr. See the whole list! Note: I'll be speaking on a panel "Deals with the Devil: Writing about Faustian Bargains" with Daniel and Dina Nayeri from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Texas State Capitol Building, signing to immediately follow.

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Jill S. Alexander: official site of the debut author of The Sweetheart of Prosper County (Feiwel and Friends, 2009). Jill hails from Tyler, Texas. Peek: "An interest in novels came late for me in my rural East Texas hometown. With no public library and few books, save one full set of encyclopedias, I learned poetry from church hymnals and storytelling from eccentric relatives." Read Jill's LJ.

So You Want to Be an Unlikable Narrator by Alex Flinn at I Plan To Be a Diva Someday... Peek: "I think that a viewpoint character needs to be interesting, as in charismatic, different from the reader, someone the reader would like to watch." Read a Cynsations interview with Alex.

Answering the question "How do you find the time?" from Lisa Schroeder at Author2Author. Peek: "You have to learn how to get in some writing even when you don't have a lot of time. If you only have 15 minutes that day, make the most of that 15 minutes." Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

Cynsational Tip: spell out the contents of your blog post in its title. Consider: would you be more likely to click a post titled "Lately..." or one titled, say, "A Response to Agent Michael Stearns on Morality in YA Lit, How and When to Pitch, and More."

What’s Age Got to Do with It? by Justine Larbalestier. Peek: "It feeds into the myth of genius, of someone just producing great work full blown out of nowhere, without an apprenticeship, without any hard yakka, or learning, or improving. I happen not to believe in genius. I don't believe art comes out of nowhere." Read a Cynsations interview with Justine.

Congratulations to R.L. LaFevers on the release of Nathaniel Fludd: Beastolologist, The Flight of the Phoenix, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009)! From the promotional copy: "Nathaniel Fludd's life has taken a turn for the worst. With his parents lost at sea, he lands on the doorstep of a distant cousin, the world's last remaining beastologist. Soon Nate is whisked off on his first expedition, to Arabia, where the world's only phoenix prepares to lay its new egg. When disaster strikes, Nate quickly finds himself all alone. Will he be able to see the phoenix safely hatched, keep his accidental pet gremlin out of trouble, and rescue his guardian from the Bedouin? If he fails, nothing will stand between the world's mythical creatures and extinction. Too bad Nate's not the sort of boy who enjoys adventure . . .yet."

Marvelous Marketer: Jill Santopolo (Executive Editor, Philomel Books) from Shelli at Market My Words: a children's book author/marketing consultant rants about how authors can market their books to kids. Peek: "I'm looking for good books for middle grade girl readers. I'd love a contemporary, realistic, commercial series or two that focus on a core group of friends--something that would be today's equivalent of The Baby-sitters Club [by Ann M. Martin (Scholastic)]." Read a Cynsations interview with Jill.

'Exquisite Corpse' An Online Adventure For Kids from National Public Radio. Peek: "Host Guy Raz strolls down to the National Mall, where kid-book authors Jon Scieszka and Kate DiCamillo are introducing The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, an online serial story written by a posse of children's authors. It premiered Saturday at the National Book Festival." Source: Brenda Bowen.

Reminder: enter to win the Reading is Fundamental/Super Contest sponsored by Lee A Verday at Lee A. Verday's Book/Writing Blog. Winner-take-all prize package includes: a signed copy of The Hollow by Jessica Verday (Simon Pulse, September 2009); a "R.U.H2?" T-shirt (R-U-H-Squared?)(Stands for aRe yoU Haunted by the Hollow?); Ruined: A Ghost Story by Paula Morris (Point, 2009); The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, 2009); The Palace of Strange Girls by Sallie Day (Grand Central, 2009); Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2009); and an "I HEART My Guardian Angel" T-shirt (which ties into Eternal)! New followers of Lee's blog can also enter to win a signed ARC of Darklight by Lesley Livingston (HarperCollins, December 2009)! Deadline: midnight PST Oct. 12. See more information.

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Bonnie Christensen by Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: "If I'm writing and illustrating, I always complete the manuscript first, then step back and change hats. Ideally, I can let the manuscript ferment for a while before tackling it from the illustrator perspective."

Why Boys Aren't Reading by P.J. Hoover from Roots in Myth. Peek: "...this past week it dawned on me—why is it always a mother-daughter book club? What about the boys?" Read a Cynsations interview with P.J.

Writing Through Family Challenges by Kristi Holl at Writer's First Aid. Peek: "I don't know what challenges you are personally facing, either in your own family and marriage and health or with someone else's. But I encourage you to do whatever is necessary so that it doesn’t overtake your writing life."

Heidi R. Kling: new official site of the debut author of Sea (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, June 2010). Peek: "I applied for a spot in the MFA Writing for Children program at the New School. My imagination leapt, picturing myself hanging out in hip, Greenwich Village coffee shops with edgy, beret-wearing writers. Turns out my imagination wasn't that far off—though beret-sightings were few and far between—I did find the perfect setting to practice my voice and learn more about the genre of writing that seemed innate to me: writing for teens and young adults."

What Do Literary Agents Do? by Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent. Peek: "An agent will carefully select the best editors to consider a particular project, but at the end of the day an agent never quite knows who is going to respond the strongest to a particularly project." See also Nathan on Submitting to Editors Without An Agent and Queries from Previously Published Authors. Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Banned Books Week Q&A: Maureen Johnson from Emily at the BookKids Blog. Peek: "So mostly, you're left wondering why these crazy people have singled out your book. It seems like the process is always pretty random: Your book happens to be around. Your book ends up in a class. Your book gets passed along by a friend. There are a lot of potential book banners out there. Sometimes, you fall into their sights."

The September Carnival of Children's Literature from Susan Taylor Brown. Peek: "We have a little bit of something for everyone this fine carnival day." Read a Cynsations interview with Susan.

The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Greg Couch (Knopf, 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: "...describes Farnsworth's modest upbringing in Utah and his flash of inspiration while plowing a potato field when he was 14 (which he subsequently described to his science teacher) that led to his development of the first working 'image dissector' at age 21."

In the Authors' Tent: Sara Zarr from Melodye Shore at Front Pages. Peek: "I did grow up in a church community and always wanted to write a character in that soil in a way that wasn't an alarmist story about cults or clergy-abuse (though there have been some good ones dealing with those things), but just an everyday kind of life in which church is part of the tapestry along with school and home." Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

Being Stubborn by Brian Yansky from Brian's Blog: Random Thoughts on the Art and Craft of Fiction Writing. Peek: "Contrary to movie and TV show notions of reality, most people do not have a dream that fills their life. They have desires. Every single one of us has those and we have them all the time. But the big dream is rare. If you have it, you will not be understood by most people." Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

The Storyteller's Inkpot from five award-winning authors, all professors at Hamline University's MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Contributors: Anne Ursu; Mary Logue; Ron Koertge; Marsha Wilson Chall; and Marsha Qualey. Read Cynsations interviews with Ron and Marsha.

Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel by by K.A. Holt (Random House 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: "...a clever and fun middle grade adventure, both funny and action-packed. Altogether, an excellent debut novel." See K.A.'s Holt's Online Disaster.

"The Vampire's Assistant" Giveaway from the Compulsive Reader. Peek: "'The Vampire's Assistant' is a cool new movie releasing late this month, based on the books by Darren Shan, and I am hosting a giveaway for some cool swag!" Deadline: Oct. 23. Read a Cynsations interview with Darren.

It's Self-Promotion Month! at Three Silly Chicks. Note: "Is there something you'd like to promote today? A new book, blog, website or hairstyle? If so, say it loud and say it proud, Peeps! We'd love to hear about it!"

Call for Submissions from literary agent Sara Crowe at Crowe's Nest. Note: Sara is back from maternity leave and calling for queries from prospective clients. She talks about her YA literature tastes, initial representation queries from now clients, and what about those letters/manuscripts appealed her. Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

Authors on Twitter from Blogging YA. See also Children's Picture Book Authors & Illustrators on Twitter from Tara Lazar at Writing for Kids (While Raising Them). Note: find me at http://twitter.com/CynLeitichSmith.

Giveaway of S Is For Story by Esther Hershenhorn, illustrated by Zachary Pullen (Sleeping Bear, 2009) from Esther Hershenhorn at Teaching Authors: Six Children's Authors Who Also Teach Writing. Peek: "All you need do is (1) read and consider the twenty-six A-to-Z words I selected to best represent a writer’s life and process (listed below), then (2) submit via the comment form at the end of this post, using twenty-five words or less, the lettered entry you would have included and let us know why." Deadline: midnight Oct. 12. See details.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick: An Interview from Pat Esden. Peek: "It's a darkly romantic story about a girl who falls for a fallen angel with a dark agenda to become human. It's being labeled as a paranormal romance, but it has a strong psychological suspense element."

Mapping Banned Books in the U.S. from Jason Boog from GalleyCat. Peek: "This map is drawn from cases documented by the ALA and the Kids' Right to Read Project, a collaboration of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression."

2009 Nominations are now open for the Cybils 2009: Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards. Peek: "All kids books published in English between Oct. 16, 2008 and the close of this year's nominations are eligible. Nominations close at 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 15." Note: much easier procedure this year! However, please double check the publication date of your nominees, especially if you're like me and read a lot of ARCs...

Spooky Season/Beyond Reality Giveaway

In celebration of the "Read Beyond Reality" theme of Teen Read Week, which is scheduled for Oct. 18 to Oct. 24, and the spooky season now upon us, I'm offering the biggest, winner-take-all Cynsational giveaway ever, with an emphasis on Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and spectacular read-alikes! You can enter to win: Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2009); Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors (Walker, 2009); Far From You by Lisa Schroeder (Simon Pulse, 2009); How to Be a Vampire: A Fangs-On Guide for the Newly Undead by Amy Gray (Candlewick, November 2009); Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (Harcourt, 2009); Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler (Simon Pulse, 2008); and Vamped by Lucienne Diver (Flux, 2009). To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Read Beyond Reality" in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the name in the header; I'll contact you if you win).

You will get an extra chance to win for each of the following: (1) you blog about the giveaway and link to my related announcement posts at Cynsations at Blogger, LiveJournal, JacketFlap, MySpace or Spookycyn (send me the URL to your post with your entry); (2) you post the link to your Facebook page or tweet it (find me at Twitter and Facebook and CC me on those systems so I can take a look); (3) you are a YA teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature (indicate school/library with your entry); (4) you are a book blogger (teen or grown-up)(include the URL to your blog with your entry message). Deadline: midnight CST Oct. 30. Good luck and stay spooky!

Cynsational Winners

The winner of Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (Little, Brown, 2009), signed by contributors Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, is Sara in Illinois. The winners of Not Like You by Deborah Davis (Graphia/Houghton Mifflin, 2009) are Brittany from Hall Memorial Library in New Hampshire, Lisa in Florida, Sandra in Texas, and Tashia in Michigan. The winner of Cromwell Dixon's Sky-Cycle by John Abbott Nez (Putnam, 2009) is Joseph in Arizona.

Liz Garton Scanlon Book Launch

Author Liz Garton Scanlon--along with a standing-room-only crowd of cheering fans--celebrated the release of her picture book, All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane/S&S), with storytime and signing on Sept. 26 at BookPeople.

Here's a peek at the festivities!

Liz signs for fellow Austin writer Erin Edwards, as the line flows all the way back around the screen and beyond. For her presentation, Liz asked that younger children gather in the front on the floor so that she could read to them directly while Marla's illustrations were simultaneously beamed onto the screen so the large group of grown-ups could follow along.

Austin SCBWI founder Meredith Davis smiles with author/educator Debbie Gonzales. See Debbie's report on the festivities at Simple Saturdays. Read a Cynsations interview with Debbie.

Author Polly Robertus models All the World!

And so does author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell, standing with author Chris Barton. Congratulations to Chris on last week's sale of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, "the story of a man who in ten years went from teenage field slave to Reconstruction-era Congressman" to Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. Read Cynsations interviews with Mark and Chris.

Fellow author Jessica Lee Anderson popped in for the event from this weekend's Pecan Street Festival. Note: Jessica (Border Crossings (Milkweed, 2009)) and P.J. Hoover (The Forgotten Worlds Book 2: The Navel of the World (CBAY, 2009)) will co-host a joint book release party at 2 p.m. Oct. 18 at BookPeople. Read Cynsations interviews with Jessica and P.J.

Don't miss the All the World book trailer below.



All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane Books, 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: "This gem of a picture book follows a family through a summer day, highlighting in rhyming groups of four the interrelatedness of small and large things."

More Personally

Congratulations to fellow Austinite Megan Prescott on the release of Squirrel and Oak: A Story of Hope, illustrated by Megan Prescott and Cheryl Wawrzynowicz (Halo, 2009)! This rhyming, self-help picture book focuses on grief/healing. Peek: "The story was inspired by the author’s real life experience of losing her mother and brother within a month of each other when she was 19 years old." Learn more.

Welcome to the incoming attendees of VCFA Day in the Lone Star State! And a special cheer to fellow incoming faculty members, Kathi Appelt, Sharon Darrow, and Uma Krishnaswami as well as to event coordinator Debbie Gonzales!

Cynsational Events

"Beyond Daily Life" readergirlz Chat will feature Cynthia Leitich Smith (Eternal), rgz diva Holly Cupala (Tell Me a Secret), and Lisa McMann (Wake) on Oct. 21. "It all happens at the rgz forum (http://readergirlz.blogspot.com) beginning at 6 p.m. Pacific Time (7 p.m. Mountain Time, 8 p.m. Central Standard Time, 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time)." See the whole readergirlz "Read Beyond Reality" chat schedule for Oct. 19 to Oct. 23. See also more information. Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

The Texas Book Festival take place Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in Austin. Featured children's-YA authors include: Jessica Lee Anderson, Libba Bray, Janie Bynum, Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Keith Graves, Heather Hepler, K.A. Holt, Jacqueline Kelly, Rick Riordan, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Rene Saldana, Jr., Tammi Sauer, Liz Garton Scanlon, Anita Silvey, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Samantha R. Vamos, Rosemary Wells, Kathy Whitehead, Mo Willems, and Sara Zarr. See the whole list! Note: I'll be speaking on a panel "Deals with the Devil: Writing about Faustian Bargains" with Daniel and Dina Nayeri from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Texas State Capitol Building, signing to immediately follow.

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: Michael has recently changed literary agencies; you can now find him at Upstart Crow Literary.

Destination Publication: An Awesome Austin Conference for Writers and Illustrators is scheduled for Jan. 30 and sponsored by Austin SCBWI. Keynote speakers are Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson and Caldecott Honor author-illustrator Marla Frazee, who will also offer an illustrator breakout and portfolio reviews. Presentations and critiques will be offered by editor Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, author-editor Lisa Graff of FSG, agent Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Literary, agent Mark McVeigh of The McVeigh Agency, and agent Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Advanced critique break-out sessions will be led by editor Stacy Cantor of Bloomsbury. In addition, Cheryl and author Sara Lewis Holmes will speak on the editor-and-author relationship, and Marla and author Liz Garton Scanlon will speak on the illustrator-and-author relationship. Note: Sara and Liz also will be offering manuscript critiques. Illustrator Patrice Barton will offer portfolio reviews. Additional authors on the speaker-and-critique faculty include Jessica Lee Anderson, Chris Barton, Shana Burg, P.J. Hoover, Jacqueline Kelly, Philip Yates, Jennifer Ziegler. See registration form, information packet, and conference schedule (all PDF files)!

2010 Houston-SCBWI Conference will be held on Feb. 20, 2010 at the Merrell Center in Katy. Registration is now open. Faculty includes Cynthia Leitich Smith, award-winning author and Vermont College of Fine Arts faculty member; Ruta Rimas, assistant editor at Balzar & Bray/HarperCollins; Patrick Collins, creative director at Henry Holt; Alexandra Cooper, senior editor at Simon & Schuster; Lisa Ann Sandell, senior editor at Scholastic; and Sara Crowe, agent at Harvey Klinger. Note: "All the speakers will be doing critiques. Critique spots are limited." See registration and information. Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.
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