Monday, April 30, 2007

Edgar Awards Announced

Buried by Robin Merrow MacCready (Dutton, 2006) is the young adult winner of the Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America. Room One: A Mystery or Two by Andrew Clements (Simon & Schuster, 2006) won in the juvenile division. Read a Cynsations interview with Robin.

More Personally

"Cynsations:" an interview snapshot from Faye Likes Words: "a blog about writing, editing, publishing and associated blogs. I want to help other writers find good information using this 'bloogle for writers' blog."

Going Goth: An Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith from Also check out the latest review of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007).

Reminder: is giving away two autographed copies of the novel (see sidebar for information).

Thanks to the self-proclaimed "Marian the Librarian" and her YA reading group at Cedar Park Public Library in Cedar Park, Texas. I enjoyed visiting with them on Saturday morning.

Thanks also to Topher and the YA reading group at BookPeople in Austin, Texas. On Saturday afternoon, we enjoyed a Sanguini's-style feast (really! think: chocolate drops with M&M centers for eyes), and then discussed Tantalize
(Candlewick, 2007). For giveaways, I provided bookmarks, copies of a bibliography of recommended gothic fantasy novels, a Sanguini's cutting board, and a Sanguini's T-shirt.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spooky News & Links

The Texas Library Association has announced its 2007-2008 Tayshas list. Titles include: Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz (Hyperion, 2006); What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles (Little Brown, 2006)(author interview); and Peeps by Scott Westerfeld (Razorbill, 2005)(author interview). See the whole list (PDF).

Attention Austinites: Mark your calendars for April 28th when Austin SCBWI authors and illustrators will be featured in a MEET THE AUTHOR autograph party from 11a.m. to 1 p.m at Barnes and Noble Westlake. At last count, twelve authors and two illustrators were planning to be on hand to sign books. Note: Greg and I will not be at the event; however signed copies of our books will be available.

Interview with Heather Brewer, author of Eighth Grade Bites (Dutton, August 2007), by Little Willow at Slayground.

More Personally

KLIATT says of my new release Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007): "For those who enjoy the horror of the original Dracula or the heart-wrenching sorrow of Romeo and Juliet, Smith's book will be seen as a fresh, updated version of these timeless classics."

School Library Journal raves: "Readers will be tantalized by this dark, romantic, and disturbing fantasy of vampires, werewolves, and a strong no-nonsense heroine. Fans of Stephenie Meyer and Annette Curtis Klause will eat it up."

In related news, Tantalize has been nominated for the TLA 2008-2009 Tayshas list! Nominees also include: Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking, 2007); St. Iggy by K.L. Going (Harcourt, 2006)(author interview); Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale (Holt, 2006)(author interview); Fairest by Gail Carson Levine (HarperCollins, 2006)(author interview); 21 Proms, edited by David Levithan (Scholastic, 2007)(author interview); The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)(author interview); Wait for Me by An Na (Putnam, 2006)(recommendation); Notes from a Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick (Scholastic, 2006)(author interview); Blind Faith by Ellen Wittlinger (Simon & Schuster, 2006); Rubber Houses by Ellen Yeomans (Little Brown, 2007); and Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr (Little Brown, 2007)(author interview). See all the nominees (xls file)!

Even More Personally

Like many (all?) authors, I'm utterly "skinless." The Doubt-O-Nator* stalks me. It is much like the folk, unkept.

So, when I first began writing, I decided that I wouldn't read reviews of my books, obsess over sales ranks, or otherwise fret--good or bad--whatever might emerge in reply from the universe.

I quickly found out that this was counter-productive. Such references are important to keeping up one's bio, promotion, targeting markets, updating teaching applications, etc.

Yet authors are often left out of the news cycle. Publishers may pass on reviews or articles or announcements of awards/nominations...or they may not. Often, we bring the information to them. Why? No one else is affected more, and no one else cares as much. It's up to us to "Google" ourselves and our titles.

Still, I have been doing that too much lately.

Tantalize followed very shortly after Santa Knows (Dutton, fall 2006). The new novel has largely completed its pro review cycle, and overall, the reception has been lovely. We're in the fifth printing. And I'm honored to play a small role in the YA literature community I've so long admired.

At the same time, I've been living in the famed "season of nausea" since ARCs went out at the last BEA. I've spent more than one sleepless night fretting 102 ellipses, waited out a cover art revision, and second-guessed myself for initially not trying to sell more than one of the books in my intended, overarching story.**

Consequently, I need to just say nada to Google and Technorati and their Web-scanning pals. Regroup, focus, write.

My point being: if there is something you'd like me to see, please just write me personally. Don't assume I'll know otherwise.

Meanwhile, I'll be tapping away at my keyboard, sporting my PJs uniform, drinking iced tea with Splenda, assisted by my writer cats. Studying and celebrating books by other folks. Living footloose and nausea free. Thanks!

*Nancy Werlin calls hers "Fearnando," which is (a) my inspiration (b) more charming.

**I'd felt convinced that I had to first prove readers would accept my doing non-Indian-themed work. Others seemed to think so, too. Given early signs, though, I feel comfortable saying that I've always envisioned Tantalize as the beginning of a larger story, and I wrote it that way. If the universe is willing, I have hopes for more to come.

Monday, April 23, 2007

London Calling by Edward Bloor

London Calling by Edward Bloor (Knopf, 2006)(excerpt). When he falls asleep listening to a Philco 20 Deluxe radio, Martin Conway, a miserable scholarship student at All Saints Preparatory School, begins to have amazingly realistic dreams or, as he believes, time travel adventures with another boy during the London Blitz of WWII. The story deftly explores the relationships between fathers and sons and demonstrates how history can touch and affect the present. A ghost story, a historical novel, a mystery, and a time travel adventure bundled into one book, this elegant novel defies genre classification and shows Bloor is, once again, not afraid to take chances in his writing. Recommendation by Frances Hill.

See also a review of London Calling from

Guest recommender Frances Hill is the author of The Bug Cemetery, illustrated by Vera Rosenberry (Henry Holt, 2002). She lives in the Austin area and is married to YA author Brian Yansky.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Austin, Moonshine, and Audio Books

The Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill in Austin was the site of a fun, informal get together on Monday hosted by TD of Listening Library. His son lives in the area.

Authors in attendance included LS, author-librarian JL, and of course GLS. ALA President elect LR also was there, along with a number of APL YA librarians, and the wonderful folks from BookPeople.

LL is the audio publisher of my tween novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (Listening Library, 2001).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Giveaway of Autographed Copies of Tantalize at

Win an autographed copy of Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007) at All you have to do to enter is send an email. The deadline is April 30. See complete information.

Becky's Book Reviews says: "No one is safe in this thrilling vampire tale of murder and seduction." Read the whole review.

Author Alex Flinn writes: "It's more mystery than horror, more horror than comedy, more comedy than coming-of-age story (and probably more Thirsty than Twilight), but it's all these things and more. Even if you don't know much about vampires, I highly recommend Tantalize. It's good undead fun, and I hope Cyn plans a sequel." Read the whole review.

In other news, Tantalize is now in its fifth printing!

Thanks to all for your support!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Spooky News & Links

Nominees for the 2008 Best Books for Young Adult List, sponsored by the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association include: Split Screen Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies by Brent Hartinger (HarperCollins, 2007)(author interview); The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)(author interview); and The Restless Dead: Ten Original Stories of the Supernatural edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2007)(author interview).

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Loss Leader" from Shelf Awareness at Fresh Eyes Now: Envisioning New Bridges Between Authors and Readers. Source: Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown.

"Magic or Madness--the Interview" (an interview with Justine Larbalestier) from Not Your Mother's Book Club.

More Personally

Thanks to Brittany for designing the new Tantalize Fan Group banner. This is a new MySpace group that she has founded. I've offered to pop in now and then with breaking news, to highlight gothic fantasy YA releases by other authors, and to supply giveaway items. Horror, gothic fantasy, and YA enthusiasts on MySpace are welcome to join. See also Cyn's MySpace page.

Winning entries of the Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007) giveaway at Young Adult Books Central have been posted. Entrants were asked to "make up a favorite recipe/dish for either a vampire or a werewolf." Check out the winners!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Prom Dates from Hell

An Interview with Rosemary Clement-Moore on Prom Dates from Hell (Delacorte, 2007)(excerpt) by Candy Havens of Fresh Fiction.

Thanks also to The Road Less Traveled: the Blog of Alyssa Goodnight, which says of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007): "So many twists and turns and surprises, such a fun heroine, so many zany and quirky characters. I really, really loved it." Read the whole recommendation.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

don't you forget about me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes by Jaime Clarke

don't you forget about me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes by Jaime Clarke, foreword by Ally Sheedy (Simon Spotlight, 2007).

From the promotional copy: "No one captured the teen portion of the eighties as poignantly as writer-director John Hughes. Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Some Kind of Wonderful are timeless tales of love, angst, longing, and self-discovery that illuminated and assuaged the anxieties of an entire generation. Fondly nostalgic, filled with wit and surprising insights, don't you forget about me contains original essays from a skillfully chosen crop of novelists and essayists on the films' far-reaching effects on their own lives--an irresistible read for anyone who came of age in the eighties (or just wishes they did)."

Featured writers include: Steve Almond; Julianna Baggott; Lisa Borders; Ryan Boudinot; T. Cooper; Quinn Dalton; Emily Franklin; Lisa Gabriele; Tod Goldberg; Nina de Gramont; Tara Ison; Allison Lynn; John McNally; Dan Pope; Lewis Robinson; Ben Schrank; Elizabeth Searle; Mary Sullivan; Rebecca Wolff; and Moon Unit Zappa.

My Thoughts

I graduated from high school in the mid 1980s, so I was the original target audience for the John Hughes films, all of which I've seen except Some Kind of Wonderful.

I read the essay collection last weekend. It's conversational, not academic. Writers look back on the films, how the movies related to their lives at the time, and how their own perspectives have changed since then.

For example, Steve Almond writes about how the character of Cameron provided the heart of Ferris Bueller and also took the film beyond a light teenage romp.

Julianna Baggott tooks a looks at the "Prude/Slut" trap that Allison articulates in The Breakfast Club: "Well, if you say you haven''re a prude. If you say you're a slut! It's a trap. You want to but you can't. And when you do, you wish you didn't, right?"

Although "fondly nostalgic," the writers don't shirk from criticism. Quinn Dalton reconsiders the insensitive depictions of Long Duk Dong and "Neck Brace Girl" in Sixteen Candles as well as what happened between Farmer Ted and Caroline in the car after the dance--"of course she was passed out, drunk, but she was pretty sure it happened and she'd enjoyed it!"

Many of the writers touch on the signficance of the secondary characters. Of interest to me was that the original ending of Pretty in Pink paired Andie with Duckie rather than with Blane.

Inspired, Greg and I also watched Weird Science and The Breakfast Club this past weekend.

Although an argument can be made (and is in the essay collection) that Ferris Bueller crosses over to fantasy ("Dunkeshein" anyone?), Weird Science definitely stands out as the one clear speculative fiction film in the collection. Both of us found it to be better than we remembered, especially with regard to the Frankenstein nods.

Yet I was struck by how Lisa both removes all evidence of the weekend's magical journey before Wyatt's parents come home and toys with Gary's parents' memories.

Other than Chet's likely future therapy, there's no price to the magic, making for a hollow victory. (Consider in contrast the high cost of Willow's mojo in Joss Whedon's Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, which makes the seventh season finale triumph so much more resonant.)

Fantasy with no costs may have its appeal, like calorie-free deep dish pizza would have its appeal. Yet the illuminating aspect of fantasy is in its metaphors to reality. In the real world, there are costs. Choices have consequences. Eliminating that from fantasy, well, cheapens it.

What intrigued me about The Breakfast Club was that the essayists' consensus was that the teen characters would go back to their old cliques and shun one another come Monday morning. The question is specifically addressed in the film, and it seems (Brian and Allison aside) the answer is no. But afterward, the friendships and romances continue to deepen.

Call me an optimist, but I believe more than one connection between those five stereotype-inspired characters (Claire/princess, Andy/athlete, Brian/brain, Bender/criminal, and Allison/basketcase) lasted in a meaningful way--either immediately or after graduation. After all, if our heroes haven't changed and grown, what's the point?

Bumps aside, I can't deny that John Hughes films were a big part of my adolescence. For GenX readers especially, I recommend don't you forget about me. It'll make you remember.

Spooky News & Links

Sci Fi fans should not miss the COPS-Star Wars: A New Hope parody on YouTube. Don't pause before the theme song ends; there's more to come.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Dead Girls' Dance

Congratulations to Rachel Caine on this month's publication of The Dead Girls' Dance (The Morganville Vampires, Book II)(NAL Jam, 2007)(excerpt). According to the promo copy:

"So far, Claire and her friends have managed to survive getting on the wrong side of some Morganville VIPs...Vampire Important Persons. But their temporary peace is in danger of collapsing, thanks to the arrival of Shane's scary father and his vampire-fighting supporters.

"Throw in the re-emergence of a brother Eve doesn't want to admit she has, a war brewing between the two most terrifying vampires in the world, and a bitchin' horror-themed party with bite, and Claire's life is about to get very interesting."

Learn more about The Morganville Vampires! Read a Cynsations interview with Rachel about Book 1, Glass Houses (JAL Jam, 2006).

What will happen to Harry? Predictions, forecasts and guesses on what the future holds for the boy wizard by Howard Shirley from BookPage.

Shop Talk Tuesday with Barry Lyga by Laura Bowers. Barry is the author of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). Laura is the debut author of Beauty Shop for Rent (Harcourt, May 2007). After you leave the shop, read a Cynsations interview with Barry.

Attention Austinites: tell all your friends to buy books at the Barnes & Noble Westlake (TX) from April 23 to April 29th and tell the cashier that they want the sale to count for the Austin SCBWI book fair. Austin SCBWI will receive a portion of the profits. Local authors and illustrators will be there to autograph books on April 28. Although I won't be able to attend, autographed copies of my books, including Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007) will be available. Note: in addition, autographed copies of Tantalize are now available at Borders at the Domain and at Borders on South Lamar.

More Personally

Thanks to Gail Gauthier at Original Content for highlighting two of my recent author interviews and her related comments.

Thanks also to Deborah Lynn Jacobs at The Reluctant Blogger for her kind words about me and Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007): "She makes you believe, with a capital B. Werepeople? Of course they exist. Shapeshifters? Absolutely. Vampires? Well, you'll have to read the book!" Read an interview with Deborah on Powers (Roaring Brook, 2006) from Cynsations.