Friday, March 20, 2015

Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Congratulations to Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong on the release of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo, 2015) from Janet Lee Cary at Library Lions Roar! Peek:

JW: There are two huge differences between this book and our other books. First, the subject matter: 156 holidays. Second: it’s bilingual! The 156 English poems all appear with Spanish versions alongside them.

SV: There’s another big difference. The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations highlights picture books alongside the poetry. Each of 156 holiday poems (in English and Spanish) has a picture book pairing in Tip #4 of the Take 5! section.

More News & Giveaways

Consulting Services & Lecture Fees for Debbie Reese from American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek: "Do you have a Native character in your manuscript? Is the character the main one? Or a secondary one? Are you, in some way, incorporating Native content? A character's ancestry, perhaps? If you want me to give you feedback on your manuscript, let's talk."

Why I Love to Read Sad and Dark Books to Children (and Why You Should, Too) by Jill Eisenberg from Lee & Low. Peek: "Using books with dark themes or settings in the classroom can give students the language to express their emotions, models for how to discuss and engage on these topics with adults and peers, and a safe space to explore difficult topics."

You Don't Have to Like Them and Other Truths About Characters and Storytelling from Joy Preble. Peek: "I don't have to like Alice for me to read and enjoy and savor this book. I don't have to like her for me to think that Julie Murphy's written an awesome novel. I simply have to find her authentic and consistent within the fictional boundaries and character arc Murphy has created. And I do."

Categorizing the Human Condition: Redefining Who We Think We Are by Ann Dye form CBC Diversity. Peek: "'Why do we assume that the natural response from adults who don’t share a commonality with a diverse character in any respect aren’t hungry to expand their horizons a bit through their nighttime reading?'"

Black Authors and Self-Publishing by Zetta Elliott from School Library Journal. Peek: "Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander self-published his first thirteen books and acknowledges that there’s a 'long history' of self-publishing in the Black community."

Brian Yansky on Novelists & Passion for Writing by Brian Yansky from Brian's Blog - Writer Talk. Peek: "The praise a person gets in school isn't going to sustain him/her as a writer once out and the teacher and student audience is gone and the larger one not yet materialized. What sustains a writer is that passion, that learned love of the act of writing."

To Save Yourself from Marion Dane Bauer. Peek: "We latch onto story ideas because there is something about an idea that draws more ideas the way a magnet pulls in iron filings."

April Is Autism Awareness Month: Partner Up to Reach Families in Your Community by Ashley Waring from ALSC Blog. Peek: "One way to get families with children with all types of disabilities into your library is to offer an informational program for parents and caregivers."

The Role of the Professional Reviewer in Today's Publishing World: Interview with Henrietta Verma of Library Journal by Samantha Knoerzer from Bibliocrunch. Peek: "...87 percent of its (ALA) members are white. A majority of that size of any ethnicity is of concern. It affects which books are bought for libraries and, I’m sure, how welcome minorities who are under-represented in librarianship feel in in the profession and as patrons, and which direction library hiring committees, subconsciously or not, lean."

On Illustration Notes by Liz Garton Scanlon from Eastern Penn Points. Peek: "Why the general no-no vibe around authors peppering their manuscripts with helpful hints for would-be editors and illustrators?"

Cynsational Giveaways


Enter Diversity in YA's 2015 Anniversary Giveaway. Peek: "With generous donations from publishers and authors, we are thrilled to be giving away 100 books with main characters who are of color, LGBT, and/or disabled." Note: includes Cynthia Leitich Smith's Feral series (Candlewick, 2013-2015).

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

I'm deeply honored to have been featured in a personality profile by editor Sterling Cosper that appears in the latest issue of my official tribal newspaper, The Muscogee Nation News:

Citizen Leaves Legal, Journalism Professions to Pursue Literary Career. Peek:

"Eat while you’re listening—everything is better with home-cooked food. Connect with a creative and personal community. It’s all about the tradition and circle of storytelling; not just your one voice in it,' Leitich Smith said."


Thanks to everyone who turned out for (or stopped by) my signing table at Costco in Selma, Texas; last Saturday! I was charmed by the warmth and friendliness of the community, and it was a delight to connect so many Feral novels--include numerous full trilogy sets--to teens!


Congratulations to author-illustrator and fellow Austinite Salima Alikhan on being admitted to the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults!

Link of the Week: We Need Diverse Books -- Movers & Shakers 2015: Change Agents from Library Journal.

Personal Links


Cynsational Events

Now Available
Cynthia will appear from April 14 to April 17 at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Texas Library Association in Austin.

Join Cynthia from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. May 2 at Saratoga Springs Public Library for a celebration in conjunction with Saratoga Reads! at Saratoga Springs, New York. Note: Cynthia will be presenting Jingle Dancer (2000), Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001) and Indian Shoes (2002)(all published by HarperColllins).

Cynthia will serve as the master class faculty member from June 19 to June 21 May 2 at the VCFA Alumni Mini-Residency in Montpelier, Vermont.

Cynthia will speak from June 25 to June 30 on a We Need Diverse Books panel at the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

New Voice: Stacey Lee on Under a Painted Sky

Stacey Lee
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Stacey Lee is the first-time author of Under a Painted Sky (Putnam, 2015)(author blog). From the promotional copy:

An unforgettable story of friendship and sacrifice.

Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life.

With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush.

Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. 

With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

When and where do you write? Why does that time and space work for you?

Stacey's office
I write in the evening into the wee hours of night, and go to bed typically at 1:30 am.

With two kids, I'm too distracted to do much during the day, so I must wait until everyone is in bed. It's hard for me to write with any noise around me, so I rarely listen to music when I'm at my desk.

As a historical fiction writer, how did you capture the voices of the era? What resources did you turn to? What advice do you have for other authors along these lines?

I read a lot of pioneer diaries! I always gravitated toward books/film from the 19th century, so the voices weren't hard for me to hear. I love the 'formal' way they spoke during that time period.

The trick is to immerse yourself in the 'culture' you're writing about as much as possible, the way you would learning another language. You can't help picking things up.

How did you go about connecting with your agent? What was your search process like? Who did you decide to sign with? What about that person and/or agency seemed like the best fit for you? What advice do you have for other writers in seeking the right agent for them?

Under a Painted Sky
I researched agents through Writer's Digest, and identified Kristin Nelson as someone who might be a good fit. I was looking for someone who knew her stuff, and she ran a popular blog called Pub Rants that many writers, including myself, used to understand the in's and out's of publishing. She actually rejected the first book I subbed to her.

Several years later, I wrote Under a Painted Sky, and she was one of the first agents I queried.

I think it's important that writers find an agent who not only can make a sale, but someone who will continually advocate for their writers during the entire process.

Publishing is not just about selling the book. You want someone who takes a holistic view of your writing career.

Cynsational Notes

Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul.

A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, wrangles children, and writes YA fiction.

Find Stacey at Twitter @staceyleeauthor, Facebook and Pinterest.

Stacey contemplates her plot as she walks along this path.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Giveaway & New Voice: Melody Maysonet on A Work of Art

Excerpt
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Melody Maysonet is the first time author of A Work of Art (Merit, 2015)(author blog). From the promotional copy:

Tera is seventeen, shy, and artistically gifted. Her hero and mentor is her father, a famous graphic artist who also protects her from her depressed, overly critical mother. 

But Tera’s universe is turned upside down the day the police arrest her father for an unspeakable crime. 

Tera desperately wants to believe his arrest is a mistake, and since her mother is no help at all, Tera goes into action, searching for legal counsel and sacrificing her future at art school to help him. 

But under the surface of her attempts at rescue, there are rifts in Tera’s memories that make her wonder: Could he be guilty?

In writing your story, did you ever find yourself concerned with how best to approach “edgy” behavior on the part of your characters? If so, what were your thoughts, and what did you conclude? Why do you think your decision was the right one?

The main character in my novel is a seventeen-year-old girl named Tera. During the course of the novel, she has sex for the first time, experiments with drugs, and nearly gets caught up in a threesome—all while dealing with stifled memories of sexual abuse by her father (who, by the way, has been arrested for a sexual crime).

For a YA book, it doesn’t get much edgier than that.

My first attempts at writing the abuse scenes only touched the surface of what Tera went through. In the back of my mind, I was constantly aware of a teenage audience. How far could I go before I crossed a line? At the same time, I had to recall my first sexual experiences and my own experiments with drugs. I couldn’t help wondering what my friends and family would think of me.

And then I took a writing workshop taught by Jamie Morris and Joyce Sweeney. I remember Jamie talking about how we had to explore the depths of our psyches and go deep within ourselves to find what’s raw. I remember Joyce saying how every one of us has a story that only we could tell—and if we say to ourselves, “I’m never going to write about that,” then maybe that’s what we need to be writing.

Writers are readers.
It was during this workshop that I wrote my first flashback chapter, where nine-year-old Tera is being photographed by her father in a way that no child should ever be photographed.

During the workshop, we all read aloud what we had written. My hands literally shook as I read my piece. I got choked up while I was reading, and when I was done, I wanted to bawl. That’s when I knew I’d nailed it.

After that, I still worried that my book would be deemed inappropriate for teens, but reading Crank by Ellen Hopkins (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010) and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 1999) helped alleviate those fears. So did finding an agent who believed in the story and an editor who wanted to publish it.

More recently, I got another form of validation when I attended a workshop led by Andrew Karre, then editorial director of Lerner Publishing Group (now at Dutton). His topic? “Don’t Overthink Audience.” According to Karre, we shouldn’t write for readers of a certain age.

Instead, we should write about characters of a certain age—because if you write a good story, the audience will sort itself out.

Melody's assistants
As a contemporary fiction writer, how did you find the voice of your first-person protagonist? Did you do character exercises? Did you make an effort to listen to how young people talk? Did you simply free your inner kid or adolescent? And, if it seemed to come by magic, how would you suggest others tap into that power in their own writing?

When I started writing A Work of Art, finding the right voice was the thing I struggled with most.

Maybe that’s because my novel was originally intended for an adult audience. My early drafts were in third person, and my main character was nineteen.

Comments on voice
When my critique group convinced me that my story might be more relevant if I made the main character younger, I took their advice and changed Tera’s age to seventeen.

Pretty soon, I discovered that writing from a seventeen-year-old’s point-of view is a lot harder than it seems—at least it was for me. After all, I hadn’t been in high school for more than twenty-five years. My son was still in single digits. And no matter how many teen conversations I eavesdropped on, my character’s voice wasn’t ringing true.

I tried imitating the sarcastic teenage voice that popped up in so much YA fiction, but it came off sounding unnatural. I also tried capturing my inner teen, and although that helped, I still found myself slipping into the voice of a forty-something-year-old woman.

The whole time I was trying to pin down my character’s voice, my critique group kept telling me that my protagonist felt distant and maybe I should write the book in first person.

I resisted, mostly because I’d already written and rewritten the first hundred pages and I couldn’t stomach the thought of rewriting them yet again. (Yeah, I know.) Finally, though, I took their advice and wrote my next chapter in first person.

Wow, what a difference! So I finished the draft in first person and then went back to the first hundred pages. Converting from third person to first person was a lot harder than changing all the “she’s” to “I’s.” Suddenly phrases like: “I gazed at my father’s painting” sounded way too adult.

Melody's office
Somehow, I needed to completely immerse myself in the head of a teenage girl.

That’s when I started reading as much young-adult fiction as I could get my hands on.

Two books that broke something open in me were Ellen's Crank and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (Macmillan, 1986). There are others, but these two books in particular transported me into the heads of much younger people and I found myself studying how the authors did it.

As I wrote and revised A Work of Art, I never stopped studying voice, whether through reading YA fiction, taking workshops, or eavesdropping on teen conversations. I knew I’d made progress, but I still felt that voice was my weakest area.

While I was still revising, an editor from a YA publishing house critiqued my first chapter. The editor went through his checklist, commenting on dialogue, plot, point-of-view…

When he got to voice, I braced myself for the worst.

“The voice comes through strongly,” he told me.

Really? Did he just say that?

A few months later, another editor told me the voice was “great.” And while both of these editors passed on publishing my book, they gave me two things I very much needed: the confidence to keep going, and the drive to keep learning.



Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win one of three copies of A Work of Art by Melody Maysonet (Merit, 2015). Author sponsored. U.S. only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2015 SCBWI Europolitan Con: Translator Laura Watkinson

By Mina Witteman
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Translator Laura Watkinson founded the Dutch chapter of the SCBWI. She also translates books into English, from Dutch, Italian and German. Her literary interests vary and her projects range from children’s picture books to adult novels and comics.

Her translation of Bibi Dumon Tak’s Mikis and the Donkey, illustrated by Philip Hopman (Eerdman's), won the American Library Association’s Batchelder Award 2015 for a translated children’s book.

In 2012, her translation of another one of Bibi Dumon Tak’s books, Soldier Bear for Eerdmans, also illustrated by Philip Hopman, also won the American Library Association’s Batchelder Award, and in 2014 she won the ALA’s Batchelder Award with her translation of Mister Orange by Truus Matti (Enchanted Lion Books).

On top of that, her translation of The War within These Walls by Aline Sax, with illustrations by Caryl Strzelecki (Eerdmans), was named one of the three Batchelder Honor Books 2014. The latter book had already won the National Jewish Book Award and the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

Laura’s translation of the Dutch children’s classic The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt for Pushkin Children’s Books has been well reviewed in the U.K.

Laura's part of the SCBWI Europolitan Conference faculty. The conference will take place April 4 and April 5 in Amsterdam.

Welcome, Laura! I am so happy that you could join us for this interview. Let me start with a big hoorah! You must be thrilled to bits that another one of your translations won the ALA’s Mildred Batchelder Award. This time Bibi Dumon Tak’s Mikis and the Donkey. Your translations seem to strike a chord in the U.S. What is the significance of this award for you, for your translations and for Dutch children’s books?

Thanks, Mina! Yes, I couldn’t be more delighted that Bibi’s book won the Batchelder Award this year. So much of it is down to great little publishers with big ambitions and dedication to children’s literature from all over the world. The people at both Enchanted Lion and Eerdmans Books for Young Readers have fantastic taste and select great books for translation.

It’s wonderful that the ALA encourages books in translation with this award, as it means young readers have an opportunity to find out what children in other countries are reading. It’s all about bringing new and interesting voices to a different readership.

It’s not so much a question of exporting Dutch and Flemish culture, but more about the skill of these writers and illustrators. After all, Mikis and the Donkey was set in Greece, Soldier Bear was about a group of Polish soldiers and their mascot, and, while Mister Orange was about Dutch artist Mondrian, it was actually set in New York.

Great stories are universal. It’s wonderful to have that recognized by publishers and readers who are interested in books from other countries.

You translate not only from Dutch but also from German and Italian. You must have a love for languages. Could you tell us a little about that love?

I gravitated towards languages at school, partly because I had such enthusiastic language teachers, but also because I feel that there’s a certain magic in learning a new code and suddenly being able to communicate with other people by using different words and sounds. I went on to study languages at university.

As a translator, it’s great to be able to convey something of a country’s culture by transporting its literature into a new language and a new environment.

How did you decide on a career in translation?

I never really thought too hard about what sort of job I might have after university.

I was fascinated by the subject I was studying, so I enjoyed the experience of being a student and traveling to study abroad, and didn’t really focus too much on what might come next.

I later spent a few years as a language teacher and also did occasional translation jobs, but it took me a while before I moved into full-time translation.

As a student and a teacher, I lived in a variety of places in Europe: Aberdeen, London, Milan, and a number of different cities in Germany, before moving to The Hague and now Amsterdam.

As I moved around, I came to realize just how flexible translation and writing is as a career. If you have a laptop, you can take your job wherever you want. Translation’s really the ultimate in portable careers.

Most importantly, translation is a constant challenge and a puzzle, so there’s always something interesting going on. Every book and every text has its own quirks, and I enjoy the process of getting to know them and working out how to handle their intricacies.

You translate a wide range of books, from picture books to graphic novels and more literary texts. What type of books do you most enjoy translating? Are there particular challenges associated with different texts?

I particularly enjoy working on picture books, as they’re so much fun. I translated a couple of very nice titles for Book Island in New Zealand: Annemie Berebrouckx’s Bernie and Flora and Sir Mouse to the Rescue by Dirk Nielandt and Marjolein Pottie. Those two books are both bubbly and full of life, and they’re great tales for little ones who are new to stories. It’s important to keep the tone light and to make the story easy for parents to read aloud. So, with those translations, I’ll read them out loud to myself (and anyone else who will listen) over and over again.

It can be tricky when the words relate to some visual gag that’s elaborated in the illustrations. If it’s a joke that doesn’t work in English, you have to go back to the drawing board and create a new English version that matches what’s going on in the pictures. The illustrations are there to stay, so you have to craft the words accordingly, while respecting the spirit of the original text.

You translated a Dutch classic, Tonke Dragt’s De brief voor de koning (The Letter for the King), which first came out in 1962 and is a book that generations of young Dutch readers grew up with. It took over 50 years for this book to be translated into English. Can you tell us a little about how Pushkin Press made the decision to publish the book, and how you came to translate it?

The Letter for the King really is a book that should have been translated into English a long time ago. As you say, it’s a classic in the Netherlands and, in 2004, it was even voted the best Dutch children’s book of the previous fifty years.

It had been translated into many other languages, but the English breakthrough somehow never came. Who knows why? It’s a classic for very good reasons.

The project finally took off when Pushkin Press’s new children’s imprint arrived on the scene. I gave Pushkin publisher Adam Freudenheim a sample and he was really enthusiastic, as were his children. So, finally, the book has made it to the U.K. It’s doing well there, and I’m hopeful that this will help lead to more children’s classics finally appearing in English translation.

In other news, I’m just working on the edits to the sequel of The Letter for the King. Expect to see The Secrets of the Wild Wood in bookshops this autumn...

You founded the Dutch chapter of the SCBWI in 2008. Why? And what do you think are the most important reasons to become a member? 

I had some friends who had joined the SCBWI in the U.K. and they were all so enthusiastic about the society that I really wanted to become a member too. For me, it was mainly about meeting other people who were interested in writing, illustrating and, of course, translating children’s books, so that we could encourage one another and pass on tips.

So that was my motivation for setting up the chapter in the Netherlands, and I still feel that those connections and that support and friendship are the most important reasons for joining.

We’ve had so much fun since then – and a lot of success stories within the group. It’s great to know that we’re connected to other children’s book lovers and publishing professionals all over the world, and that’s something I believe only the SCBWI can offer on such a scale.

The SCBWI has recently set up a new initiative for translators, led by Avery Udagawa. There’s a lively forum and plenty of enthusiasm for children’s books in translation. Let’s hope it leads to even more great books in translation!

Thanks so much to you, Mina, for taking over the group and providing so much energy and enthusiasm. Here’s to the next few years!

You can find out more about Laura Watkinson on her website, or follow her on Twitter.

Cynsational Notes

Mina Witteman is a published author, writing in Dutch and English. She has three adventurous middle grade novels, over 40 short stories, and a Little Golden Book out in The Netherlands.

The first volume of a three-book middle grade series, Boreas and the Seven Seas, is scheduled to come out in April 2015. She is the Regional Advisor for The Netherlands and Chairman of the Working Group Children’s Books of the Dutch Authors Guild.

In addition to writing, Mina teaches creative writing. She is a freelance editor and a mentor to budding writers. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Follow her on Twitter @MinaWitteman.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Interview: Will Weaver & Don Gallo on LitWeaver

Don Gallo & Will Weaver
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

What is LitWeaver and how did it come to be?

Will Weaver: LitWeaver is young adult literature outreach to schools by the authors themselves. We believe YA lit should be more accessible, more varied, and more affordable—and now it is!

Our cohort of more than sixty top authors came together to make contemporary short stories, essays, poems, and plays available to schools for e-reading or print on demand.

LitWeaver has free reading for middle- and high schools right now, though we’ll eventually add a low cost subscription to help cover our website costs.

English Language Arts teachers and school librarians have given us authors such great support over the years, buying our books and inviting us to their schools, so here was a chance for us to give back.

That’s how LitWeaver came to be.

How did you connect with author Will Weaver and the company?

Don Gallo: Will and I have known each other for nearly twenty years, ever since he wrote a short story called “The Photograph” for one of the YA anthologies I edited. He subsequently wrote other stories for me, and I did an extensive interview of him for the Authors4Teens (now defunct) website. We seem to have connected from the start.

Liking each other and, more importantly, respecting each other’s talents and trusting each other, have been significant factors in our working so well together. I am honored that he asked me to be part of this venture. It’s the most exciting thing I have done in my entire long career.

Will, besides liking him, why did you choose Don to be LitWeaver’s executive editor? What does he bring to the mix that others do not?

Will Weaver: I’ve written some of my best short stories for Don’s various YA anthologies—he’s a great editor--and it’s true, we “clicked” on a personal and literary level. But from a purely business perspective, I needed someone who was well known, and who could bring in an “A-list” of YA authors. Don has done that supremely well.

Don Gallo: Having worked with so many authors over the years—more than 200!– means I know their work, and they know and trust me.”

Will, how does LitWeaver work?

LitWeaver
LitWeaver  is like Netflix or a similar online platform, but with literary readings. Teachers sign up, stock their bookshelf with short stories, essays, or poems and more just right for their grade or their purposes.

Then teachers create “classes” and invite students. Students join the class, where great e-reading is waiting.

We’re working on the tech side right now to make LitWeaver simple and easy to use, but it’s clear that our overall vision of improving access and affordability has struck a chord with teachers.

Don, what about the concept appealed to you?

Don: Surely the whole concept is unique and exciting. Nothing like LitWeaver has ever existed. There are other recently established companies that are offering digital readings to schools, but they are all either literary works for children, or they are entirely book-length works—classical novels and a few YA novels. Nobody except LitWeaver is focusing on teens, and nobody is offering the array of short stories, poems, plays, and essays that we provide.

Will, what kind of response have you seen so far?

Will: Phenomenal. Truly. We launched LitWeaver in beta form on Feb. 15 and had hundreds of teachers, school librarians, and public librarians signed up, from Texas to Iceland. It’s clear they are looking for access, great writing, and affordability.

I might add that we at LitWeaver feel blessed by our demographic of users. Nobody shares information like English teachers and literacy specialists!

Don, what content is of interest?

Don: I am really proud of the content we have been able to acquire in just a few months. We don’t have a lot of novels or book-length nonfiction yet. Those will be coming later. But there is no better quality of short stories, poems, and essays anywhere else.

Joseph Bruchac
Our roster includes several winners of the Newbery Award and Newbery Honor Award, the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the ALAN Award.

We have selections from Richard Peck, Katherine Paterson, Chris Crutcher, Jerry Spinelli, Joan Bauer, Jane Yolen, Terry Trueman, Charlie Price, David Lubar, Gordon Korman, Bruce Coville, Lauren Oliver, Neal Shusterman.

We have poets such as Nikki Grimes, Mel Glenn, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Kwame Alexander.

Many of our authors are from diverse cultural backgrounds, including René Saldana Jr., Lensey Namioka, Joseph Bruchac, Minfong Ho, Anton Treuer, Shonto Begay, and others already mentioned. We are adding original essays weekly—pieces from Alan Sitomer, Madelyn Rosenberg, Pete Hautman, Marc Aronson, and Sneed Collard.

We also are excited to have new selections from two of the most censored authors in the YA world: Sonya Sones and Ellen Hopkins.

And our selections in terms of interest and sophistication serve a range of grade levels from fifth grade through twelfth.

Don, how should authors get in touch?

Don: I have been sending invitations by e-mail to authors I know. But my lists are limited, of course. So any authors who have good out-of-print works or new literary selections not under contract should contact me by e-mail at GalloDon@aol.com.

Don, are you interested in working with poets? Or authors who are not traditionally trade published?

Don: As I noted earlier, we have acquired a number of poems –I think fourteen so far—along with three stories in verse and one novel in verse. We have been focusing on authors with the greatest reputations we can find.

But, yes, I will be happy to consider poems from other accomplished writers aimed at a teenage audience.

I’m also looking for short nonfiction of interest to teens but also with content that makes them informative and teachable.

Will, what else do you want Cynsations readers to know?

LitWeaver  has a tidy little lesson plan for each reading. They include introductory activities, discussion questions, writing prompts, and suggestions for research projects.

Not saying teachers will need a lesson plan, but it’s nice to have just in case.

And one more thing: LitWeaver is in beta form, meaning we’re still working on the app/website. There’s always time to hear from you, dear readers, to let us know how we can improve, and what features you’d like to see.

But what we truly need is for you to help spread the news. Lots of sign-ups and users will help us get investor funding, and that will allow us to build our dream site where there’s loads of free, contemporary lit for schools.

LitWeaver is a new paradigm, we think, one whose timing is right.

Cynsational Notes

Don Gallo is one of the nation’s leading authorities on books for teenagers, the recipient of the ALAN Award for outstanding contributions to the field of adolescent literature, and the foremost anthologist of short stories for teenagers in the country.

He has edited thirteen highly-acclaimed collections of short stories written by well-known young adult novelists, the most recent of which is Owning It: Stories about Teens with Disabilities (Candlewick, 2010).

His first collection--Sixteen--was identified by the American Library Association as one of the 100 Best of the Best Books for Young Adults published in the last third of the 20th century.

Don is also the author of numerous journal articles and chapters in professional books about the teaching of literature and writing in middle and high schools, the co-author with Sarah K. Herz of From Hinton to Hamlet: Building Bridges Between Young Adult Literature and the Classics, and was the editor of the Bold Books for Teenagers column in the English Journal for five years.

For 24-years, Dr. Gallo was a professor of English at Central Connecticut State University, retiring in 1997. He now serves as the executive editor of LitWeaver and currently lives near Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife, educator/consultant C.J. Bott.

Among author Will Weaver's novels for young adults are Striking Out, Farm Team and Hard Ball. His recent novels for teens include Saturday Night Dirt, Super Stock Rookie, and Checkered Flag Cheater (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

His novel Memory Boy (HarperCollins) was chosen a teen “top ten” book by ALA and is in production by the Minnesota Opera for 2016. One of his adult short stories was adapted into the feature film "Sweet Land."

A judge for the National Book Awards in 2011, Mr. Weaver lives in Bemidji, Minnesota, on the upper Mississippi River, with his wife, Rose.
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