Monday, March 17, 2014

In Memory: Cynthia Chapman Willis

Compiled by Alison Ashley Formento
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Middle grade author Cynthia Chapman Willis left this world on March 3.

According to her family, she didn't want anyone to be sad at her passing. That embodies the kind of woman and giving author friend Cindy was to so many, and those that knew her could not help but be dazzled by her lovely smile and giving nature. Her determination and strength to beat cancer and continue writing never wavered.

She was a founding member of The KidLit Authors Club and always had a natural, friendly connection with readers she met at author appearances. She loved animals and writing, and the best way to honor this memory of this special author is to read her wonderful middle grade books Buck Fever and Dog Gone (Feiwel & Friends).

From My Central Jersey: "Cynthia Chapman Willis, 52, passed away on Monday, March 3, 2014. Born in Mount Vernon, NY, she resided in Whitehouse Station until moving to Neshanic Station nine years ago. Cynthia enjoyed yoga, swimming, and traveling. Her passion was horseback riding and riding competitions. Cynthia had a love for all animals, especially Siamese cats. She volunteered her time to organizations that helped animals."

More Thoughts & Memories

"Cynthia Chapman Willis, full of heart and always in our hearts." -The KidLit Authors Club

"Cindy was the lightbulb before Edison invented it. She lit up any room she entered. Her writing reflected her warmth and the beauty of her soul." -Wiley Blevins

"Cindy joined the Chudney Agency way back in 2003, and I so enjoyed working with her. She was a terrific writer and was getting better and better with each novel. 
"We had a really tough time placing her first novel, Dog Gone, but I loved it and we persevered and we were finally so pleased with it's publication with Liz Szabla at Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, who also published her other novel, Buck Fever. 
"Cindy was hard working, always open to listening to thoughts about her writing, and never shied away from revisions. She had a great sense of humor and we had many good laughs. 
"I know she will be missed." -Steven Chudney

"It's an honor to have known Cynthia. She had an inner (and outer) spark and a special ability to truly to connect with others. She always encouraged me, through tough rejections and revisions, to keep doing the work. She will continue to inspire me." -Alison Ashley Formento

"I never met Cynthia, but in the few email exchanges we had, her grace and generosity of spirit shone through. As it does in her photographs, with that warm, beautiful smile of hers."-Kit Grindstaff

"Cindy was a wonderful critique partner, always generous with her knowledge, celebrating when I had success, and commiserating when I received rejections. My life and my writing are better for having known her." -Shannon Hitchcock

"Cynthia and I interacted mostly through our writer blogs. She always left warm, thoughtful, encouraging feedback--for me and for my guest bloggers." -Jennifer R. Hubbard

"The first time I met Cynthia, I was sitting next to her at a B&N signing. I was new to the game and feeling discouraged by the slow traffic through the store—also wondering if it was going to be a competitive scenario at this group event. But Cynthia quickly showed me that it was anything but.
"Warm and gentle, she was a reassuring presence as she very honestly shared her own experiences and encouraged me to be persistent and patient. Whenever I saw her after that, it was Pavlovian—I instantly felt a sense of calm and belonging. She pretty much epitomized everything that is lovely and wonderful in the kid lit world." -Elisa Ludwig


Photo: ESA/Hubble; see memorial by Cynthia's sister Carey.
"I met Cynthia when Dog Gone first came out and she was speaking to teachers about how it could be used in the classroom. Her warm smile and lovely manner captivated us all.
"In the years that followed, Cynthia was a wonderful asset to the KidLit Authors Club, and anyone she met instantly became a good friend." -Nancy Viau


"Cynthia and I once did a signing event at a B&N in Pennsylvania where no one bought any of our books or even spoke to us. We had a wonderful time just chatting." -Tim Young


More tributes to Cynthia may be found on her Facebook page; see also RIP Cynthia Chapman Willis from Shannon Hitchcock's Pen and Prose (featuring a wonderful blog post with Cynthia's sweet vlog about her book Dog Gone). You can learn more about her work at her official author site.

6 comments:

Shannon Hitchcock said...

Thank you for running such a nice tribute to Cindy on your blog. She embodied every good thing that a children's writer should strive to be.

Margie Gelbwasser said...

This was a great tribute! I'll always remember Cyn's smile and positive spirit.

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Very sad news, indeed, even though I didn't know her. She sounds like a wonderful person. Thanks for posting this tribute, Cynthia.

Ellen Jensen Abbott said...

A wonderful tribute to a wonderful writer and woman. She will be missed.

Nancy Viau said...

Thank you for posting this wonderful tribute. I keep coming back to it...

Anonymous said...

Cindy's creative vision was fueled by her respect for young readers and her love of books and writing. Her voice was authentic and refreshingly pure. What a wonderful author she was. I so enjoyed working with her -- I admired her sense of humor and her unwavering desire to make her books the best they could be, among other things. It was an honor to work with Cindy.-- Liz Szabla, Feiwel and Friends

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