Friday, September 12, 2014

Cynsational News

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Where Books Meet Disaster: A Brief Reading List About Kids and Migration from Meg Medina. Peek: "The difficult story of migration is the Latino story, and it is the human story since time began." See also Eleven Books on Latin American Immigration and Migration from Lee & Low.

Hidden Emotions: How to Tell Readers What Characters Don't Want to Show by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "Fear of emotional pain, a lack of trust in others, instinct, or protecting one’s reputation are all reasons he or she might repress what’s going on inside them." See also Angela on Taking Your Character Further and Deeper with...Anger? and Character Skills & Talents: Promotion.

Drawing From Real Life to Enrich Fiction by Keith Cronin from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "...in my own fiction, I’d spent a lot of time and energy focusing on being funny or clever, but it wasn’t until I really dug deeper emotionally and explored some areas that hit very close to home that I actually succeeded in selling a book." See also Sarah Callender on Doubt, Fear and Constipation and Robin LaFevers on The Crushing Weight of Expectations from Writer Unboxed.

Submit Your Novel to New Visions Award for New Authors of Color from Tu Books. Peek: "...will be given to a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color." Deadline: Oct. 31.

What Writers Can Learn from Goodnight Moon by Aimee Bender from The New York Times. Peek: "It sets up a world and then it subverts its own rules even as it follows them. It works like a sonata of sorts, but, like a good version of the form, it does not follow a wholly predictable structure."

a Scheider Book Award winner
Interview with Alyson Beecher, Schneider Family Book Award Chair by Corrine Duyvis from Disability in Kidlit. Peek: "...there is an increase in the quality, as well as, the number of books being published each year that portray individuals with disabilities. This is a fabulous thing; however, there still needs to be more, especially for young children under the age of eight years old."

In Defense of "Real" Realism in Children's Books by Emma Barnes from An Awfully Big Blog Adventure. Peek: "...creating something entertaining and captivating out of the mundane is challenging – maybe more challenging than 'the big stuff'."

Formatting to Indicate a Mid-Scene Break by Deborah Halverson from Dear Editor. Peek: "This is more an issue of clarity than of rules."

When Happily-Ever-After Ends Between Writing Client and Literary Agent by Stina Lindenblatt from QueryTracker. Peek: "We’re quick to announce on our blogs, on Facebook, and on Twitter about signing with an agent. We’re not so quick when it comes to announcing we’ve split ways." See also Stina on Balancing Your Writing Career Against Social Media.

Diversity in Children's Books: It's a Question of Power by Mitali Perkins from Mitali's Fire Escape. Peek: "...if the adult is saying, 'This is about this,' sometimes that gets in the way of the child’s imagination."

Character Buy-In by Mary Kole from Kidlit.com. Peek: "Before we’re ready to believe that dinosaurs roam the earth again (or whatever), the character has to believe it. Only then will the reader go along with the story and feel safe suspending disbelief." See also Mary on Interiority in the Third Person.

2013 Woodson Award Winner
Carter G. Woodson Book Award Call for Submissions from the National Council for the Social Studies. Peek: "...presented to the most distinguished young reader non-fiction books depicting ethnicity in the United States." Note: Nominations due postmarked Oct. 10.

100+ Picture Book Agents from Mondays with Mandy and Mira.

Did Harry Potter Help Shape the Politics of Millenials? by Anthony Gierzynski from Slate. Peek: "Reading the books correlated with greater levels of acceptance for out-groups, higher political tolerance, less predisposition to authoritarianism, greater support for equality, and greater opposition to the use of violence and torture."

Interview with Little, Brown Editor Alvina Ling from Goodreads. Peek: "I do think that the quality of books featuring characters of color has improved (fewer stereotypical depictions, more variety), and also, if you look at the total number of diverse characters in books, I believe the numbers would be vastly improved." Note: Alvina makes an important point here; most statistics of representation reflect only protagonists.

Picture Book Builders: Published authors/illustrators Linda Ashman, Kevan Atteberry, Jill Esbaum, Pat Zietlow Miller, Jennifer Black-Reinhardt, Barb Rosenstock, Tammi Sauer, and Eliza Wheeler post twice/week about one element of a specific picture book that impresses them and, more importantly, why that element works so well. They hope aspiring picture book writers will return for inspiration again and again."

Innate Identity versus Imagine "The Other" from Karen Sandler. Peek: "Based on who I am, how well can I get into this character’s head? How authentically can I write her identity, her culture?" See also Are We Ready for Unstoppable Characters of Color? by Sharon G. Flake from CBC Diversity.

Cynsational Screening Room

 

Cynsational Giveaway

Jean Reidy is holding a contest with the grand prize being a first pages critique from a New York editor! Until high noon on Sept. 26, children's author Jean Reidy will be holding a contest on her blog. The grand prize is a critique, from a New York editor, of the first five pages of your picture book, middle grade or young adult novel. The contest benefits Reach Out and Read Colorado. See more information.

This Week at Cynsations


More Personally

With fellow Austin authors Sam Bond and Bethany Hegedus
Chatting books with Belle at Epcot!
Congratulations to SCBWI's Tomie dePaola Award Semi-Finalists!

This Book Is for You by Cynthia Leitich Smith from BookPeople's Modern First Library. Peek: "When we imagine the books our children will hug, what do the covers look like? The heroes? What do heroes look like?"

Dedication Delights from Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature. Note: Includes the story behind Kathi Appelt's dedication of The Underneath (Atheneum, 2008) to me and Greg Leitich Smith.

Links of the Week: Lower 9th Ward Librarian Wins First Lemony Snicket Prize, J.K. Rowling Sends "Dumbledore"-Penned Letter to Texas Shooting Survivor, Matt de la Pena on Secrets Spawned of Machismo, Matchmaking & MySpace and The Writers' Retreat.

Personal Links

Happy 100th birthday to my literary agency, Curtis Brown, Ltd.!

Cynsational Events

Austin SCBWI Fall Workshop: Research for Fiction, Nonfiction & Historical Fiction Writers will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Laura's Library in Austin. Speakers include: Carolyn Yoder, senior editor at Calkins Creek Books, the U.S. history imprint of Boyds Mills Press, and senior editor at Highlights magazine, along with authors Cynthia Levinson, Greg Leitich Smith, and author-librarian Jeanette Larson.

Divya Srinivasan will speak and sign Little Owl's Day at 3 p.m. Sept. 20 at BookPeople in Austin.

Lindsey Lane will speak and sign Evidence of Things Not Seen at 2 p.m. Sept. 21 at BookPeople in Austin.

Greg Leitich Smith will speak and sign at Tweens Read Sept. 27 at South Houston High School in Pasadena, Texas.

Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak on a panel "Where Are the Heroes of Color in Fantasy & Sci Fi Lit?" from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 15 at YALSA's YA Literature Symposium in Austin.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Events Report: Kathi Appelt & Rita Williams-Garcia at The Writing Barn & BookPeople

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Highlights of summer included a visit to Austin by two dear friends and coleagues New York City author Rita Williams-Garcia and College Station author Kathi Appelt. While in town, they taught a full-novel workshop at The Writing Barn and teamed up for an event at BookPeople.

Greg Leitich Smith and I also had the opportunity to visit with workshop students at The Barn

With Rita at County Line on the Lake
With Rita at The Driskill
With Rita and Kathi at Maudie's Hacienda
With Jean Reidy at The Writing Barn
Greg entertains students by singing opera at The Barn.
Workshop students & faculty with director Bethany Hegedus; photo courtesy of The Writing Barn.
With Anne Bustard, Kathi, Rita & April Lurie at Trace.
With Greg, bookseller Mandy Brooks, & Kathi at BookPeople.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New Voice: Rachel M. Wilson on Don't Touch

Book Club Guide

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Rachel M. Wilson is the first-time author of Don't Touch (HarperTeen, 2014). From the promotional copy:

A powerful story of a girl who is afraid to touch another person’s skin, until the boy auditioning for Hamlet opposite her Ophelia gives her a reason to overcome her fears.

Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.

Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together... which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.

It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.

Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who's fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.

Could you tell us the story of "the call" or "the email" when you found out that your book had sold? How did you react? How did you celebrate?

Because of how things work at Harper Collins, there were many “calls” with several stages of increasing excitement: They’re interested! It’s going to an editorial meeting! It made it through editorial! It’s going to acquisitions!

All these different people have to sign off on the book, and on the days of those various meetings, it was surreal going to work knowing that in New York, people I’d never met were making decisions about my book.

We had other interest as well, so I had the opportunity to speak with the prospective editors.

“The call” I remember is the one in which I heard the final offers and needed to make a decision by end of day.

At the time, I was coordinating an after-school program. The kids would be arriving any minute, but I ducked into a classroom to hash out the pros and cons with my agent, Sara Crowe. I also called my friend Varian Johnson for moral support.

I’m terrible with big decisions—I always mourn the loss of the path not taken even when I’m confident I’ve made a good choice—and I needed to hear voices I trusted supporting my decision. I couldn’t really go wrong, but at the same time it felt like a Choose Your Own Adventure book where any path might lead to a swamp monster devouring my book deal.

After I made my choice official, I had to continue on with work and have a normal afternoon, and none of it felt real.

It finally hit me when a friend said she’d seen the announcement in Publishers Marketplace. I saw her message in a parking lot, started to drive away, and then had to pull over and sob.

It was the weekend of AWP in Chicago, so I walked around the conference all weekend with this secret knowledge, wanting to tell everyone.

Luckily, I had plenty of writerly friends in town to share the good news. A few of us went to The Magic Parlour at the Palmer House Hilton, and I went to the VCFA meetup at AWP and won a VCFA teddy bear in the raffle, which was the nicest coincidence since he always reminds me of how unstoppable I felt that whole weekend.

How have you approached the task of promoting your debut book? What online or real-space efforts are you making? Where did you get your ideas? To whom did you turn for support? Are you enjoying the process, or does it feel like a chore? What advice do you have on this front for your fellow debut authors and for those in the years to come?

How have I approached it? Like a mascot on ice skates, which is to say with much enthusiasm, limited foresight, and little regard for my personal well-being. It seriously feels like a full-time job, and it can become one if you let it.

Organization is key. A production manager friend of mine recently helped me overhaul my task management and email systems. For the first time in my life, I have an empty inbox, and I’ve been using Trello to track to-dos. I try to say "yes" to every opportunity, so anytime I’m offered an interview or guest blog, I add it to Trello and set a deadline so I won’t fail to follow through.

Remy Frankenstein
My main support system and fount of ideas has been the OneFour Kidlit debut author group. On our forum, we ask each other questions like, “What’s the deal with book plates?” “Where does one get book plates?” “What does one do with book plates?” “Do I seriously need book plates?” etc., etc.

For the record, I have not ordered bookplates.

I may regret that.

That’s the thing about promotion—there’s no end to what you could do, little agreement on what you should do, and definite limits on what you can do. This way lies madness.

Knowing myself, I’m more likely to follow through with something I’ll enjoy on multiple levels. And since there is limited time and money for all of this, I might as well spend it on the fun parts.

For example, I proposed a giveaway contest to Fashion by the Book. I enjoy that blog, I want to get more involved with Tumblr, and the contest is something I’d want to do—I like making outfits with Polyvore. After seeing several of my fellow debut authors running giveaways of annotated ARCs and thinking that would be fun, I decided to make my own.

I’m also making a book trailer. That might not be fun for every author, but as a theater person in a major city, I’m able to wrangle many helpful friends, including an amazing director and casting director, Matt Miller, whose webseries, "Teachers," was recently picked up for a pilot with TV Land.

Beyond getting organized and having fun, my advice is to brainstorm all the possibilities—even the ones that seem out of reach, make wish lists, prioritize, be generous in helping out other authors, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to bloggers and suggest promotional posts or giveaways; ask your friends and your publisher for support. As long as you’re being kind and respectful of people’s time, the worst they can say is "no," and I’ve found that "yeses" are far more common.

train tracks in Irondale, AL, where the book is set
Cynsational Screening Room

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

In Memory: Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers at the 2001 Bookfest at the Library of Congress
Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith for Cynsations

Over the summer, children's-YA literature lost a legendary author. My sympathies to his family, friends, and readers.

Walter Dean Myers, Prolific and Beloved Author of Award-Winning Children's Books, Dies at Age 76: Myers Touched So Many with His Eloquent and Unflinching Portrayal of Young African American Lives by HarperCollins from A Fuse 8 Production at School Library Journal. Peek:

In a career spanning over 45 years, Walter Dean Myers wrote more than 100 books for children of all ages.
His impressive body of work includes two Newbery Honor Books, three National Book Award Finalists, and six Coretta Scott King Award/Honor-winning books.

Sept. 2014
He was the winner of the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award, the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults.

In 2010, Walter was the United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and in 2012 he was appointed the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, serving a two-year tenure in the position.

Also in 2012, Walter was recognized as an inaugural NYC Literary Honoree, an honor given by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for his substantial lifetime accomplishments and contribution to children’s literature.

Walter Dean Myers: Yesterdays by Lee Bennett Hopkins from Onto Tomorrows. Peek: "This post is not about Walter's incredible literary accomplishments; it is about my relationship with one of the greatest human beings one could encounter in life."

Celebrating the Poetry of the Late Walter Dean Myers by Sylvia Vardell from Poetry for Children. Peek: "His deep, resonant voice sticks with you. Perhaps because of his own struggle with spoken speech, his pacing in his poetry is so thoughtful and meaningful."


Monday, September 08, 2014

Cynsational News & Return

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith for Cynsations

Welcome back to Cynsations!

I hope y'all had a joyful summer.

By Austin standards, it was blessedly cool in the 80s and 90s.

I finished up edits on the pass pages for Feral Pride (Candlewick, 2015) and focused on the business of being an author, deep-cleaning and reorganizing my home, and reconnecting with my close friends and family. Having finished the ninth (and final) book in the Tantalize-Feral 'verse, it felt like a good (and long overdue) time to exhale.

Now, we're back to school, so to speak. Perhaps because I'm a graduate of the 20th grade, I still see September is a time of renewal. New backpacks, new pencils, new friends and opportunities for fun and adventure.

For those of you who stepped away from the Internet this summer, I'll modestly attempt to begin updating you on the important events in the kidlitosphere while moving forward into the fall.

Cynsational News

On Overnight Success (Surprise! It's a Lot Like Failure) by Laurie Ann Thompson from Emu's Debuts. Peek: "Having just the right wait time will eventually put me on the right track with the right skills and life experience for the right idea for the right editor at the right time (hopefully!)."

Public Twitter lists of K-12/Teen Librarians and Children's-YA editors by Debbie Ridpath Ohi @inkyelbows.

Just Walk Away: Authors and Illustrators Who Do by Betsy Bird from A Fuse 8 Production at School Library Journal. Peek: "Take J.K. Rowling, for example. Will she ever write another children’s book again?"

Rita Williams-Garcia's CSK Author Award Acceptance Speech from The Horn Book. Peek: "On the one hand, children need to feel secure. They need a stable environment to thrive and to be able to look forward to the future. On the other hand, the change needed to secure that stability, that future, that chance to thrive — it can’t happen without volatile struggle. We enjoy a good deal of what we have today because someone struggled." See also CSK Illustrator Award Winner Bryan Collier's Acceptance Speech.

Ten Reasons to Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper (Or, Go Team Writers!) by Gwenda Bond from A Writer on the High Wire of Life. Peek: "...writers are not competing against each other in some sort of book sales Hunger Games, especially not in districts of self-published/indie authors versus traditionally published authors, with hybrids as jabberjays or something. We're just not. If there are sides, writers are on the same one. But I don't think that there are sides."

Life Doesn't Permit...and Other Wise Words on Making Time to Write by Cynthia Lord from Kate Messner. Peek: "Writing is that still small voice that is easily drowned out by the hundreds of other voices of things you care about or should do."

Character Talents and Skills: Photographic Memory by Becca Puglisi from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "The perception about photographic memories is that people with this gift can perfectly recall everything they’ve ever seen, even in moments when they weren’t particularly paying attention. They often describe their brains as being 'cluttered.'"

Should You Hire an Editor Before Querying? Agents Weigh In. By Lisa Gail Green from Adventures in YA Publishing.

Using Picture Books to Teach Satire by Teddy Kokoros from The Horn Book. Peek: "We have failed our students if they graduate from high school and post Onion articles on Twitter and Facebook thinking they are real..."

Why Design Matters for Your Author Website by Maria Ribas from Jane Friedman. Peek: "Design is your brand. And agents and editors want to know that you’re treating your brand like a business, not like a hobby. This means that you’re willing to invest significant time and money into creating a website that clearly communicates your brand."

Five Stereotypes Positive-Aging Picture Books Avoid by Lindsey McDivitt from A Is for Aging. Peek: "...people who internalize positive stereotypes of aging, from childhood, live up to 7.5 years longer than those who internalize negative age stereotypes."

Be Brave by Donna Bowman Bratton from Emu's Debuts. Peek: "This symbolic shot of courage has been with me through tough times and triumphant times, in my writing life, and my personal life."

South Asian Children's-YA Book Award

Winners: A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury (Atheneum, 2013); Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education by Elizabeth Suneby (Kids Can Press, 2013).

Honor Books: Bye, Bye, Motabhai! by Kala Sambasivan, illustrations by Ambika Sambasivan (Yali Books, 2013); Gandhi: The March to the Sea by Alice B. McGinty, illustrations by Thomas Gonzalez (Amazon Publishing, 2013); The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia (Peachtree, 2013); Mother Teresa: Angel of the Slums by Lewis Helfand, art by Sachin Nagar (Campfire, an imprint of Kalyani Navyug Media, 2013).

See also Highly Commended Books from Mitali Perkins at Mitali's Fire Escape.  

Note: "The South Asia Book Award (SABA) is given annually for up to two outstanding works of literature, from early childhood to secondary reading levels, which accurately and skillfully portrays South Asia or South Asians in the diaspora, that is the experience of individuals living in South Asia, or of South Asians living in other parts of the world. Up to five Honor Books and Highly Commended Books are also recognized by the award committee." 

More Personally

Celebrating the release of Heap House with fellow Austin YA author Edward Carey at 24 Diner.

Congratulations to Stacey Lee and Don Tate, winners of SCBWI's Book Launch Award, and congratulations to Jennifer Sommer of Ohio, winner of SCBWI's Philip and Karen Cushman Late Bloomer Award! See How Don Is Planning to Spend His Grant and How Stacey is Planning to Spend Her Grant.

Cheers to Janet S. Fox on the sale of Chatelaine: The Thirteenth Charm in a pre-empt to Kendra Levin of Viking! (Click the link to view a video sneak peek!)

Seeking Diversity in a Galaxy Far, Far Away by Cynthia Leitich Smith from BookPeople's Modern First Library. Peek: "I decided that Leia must’ve been like me, a mixed blood Native girl. I didn’t know what she was doing a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away or how she’d become a princess and senator. But she was strong and smart and a leader, all of which were compatible with my vision of Native women."

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith on Her Tantalize and Feral Series from Printasia. Peek: "Feral Pride will bring to a head the tensions between shifters and humans, even as the greedy, media-savvy yet secretive yeti-like species manipulating them both comes closer than ever to public exposure. Also, there’s a giant, egomaniacal snake, cool classic cars, and prom."

Crazy QuiltEdi says of Feral Nights (Candlewick, 2014): "The witty dialog and use of present tense writing keep the story moving at a brisk pace. Leitich Smith smoothly packs in a unique, descriptive backstory as she builds an incredible world..."

I love this story: How a VA Middle School Librarian and Her Book Club Raised Funds to Provide 15,000 Meals for Students in South Sudan by Lauren McBride from School Library Journal.

See also The Johnson County First Amendment Foundation Remembers Nancy Garden.

Personal Links

With fellow Austin YA writer H. Scott Beazley at Hyde Park Bar & Grill!

Cynsational Events

Austin SCBWI Fall Workshop: Research for Fiction, Nonfiction & Historical Fiction Writers will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Laura's Library in Austin. Speakers include: Carolyn Yoder, senior editor at Calkins Creek Books, the U.S. history imprint of Boyds Mills Press, and senior editor at Highlights magazine, along with authors Cynthia Levinson, Greg Leitich Smith, and author-librarian Jeanette Larson.

Lindsey Lane will speak and sign Evidence of Things Not Seen at 2 p.m. Sept. 21 at BookPeople in Austin.

Greg Leitich Smith will speak and sign at Tweens Read Sept. 27 at South Houston High School in Pasadena, Texas.

Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak on a panel "Where Are the Heroes of Color in Fantasy & Sci Fi Lit?" from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 15 at YALSA's YA Literature Symposium in Austin.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...