Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Interviews: Cynthia Leitich Smith; Join Me at the ALAN Chat Tonight

Please join me in chatting live about Tantalize at The ALAN Book Chat tonight--July 30th at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central.

I'll cross fingers and fangs that I "see" you there! Note: You do not have to be a member of ALAN to join the online Book Chat.

Author Interview: Cynthia Leitich Smith from Jaden Nation at the underground[unrest]. Peek: "I try to pick music that suits the book I'm writing. Tantalize [Candlewick, 2007 2008] was written to a lot of Eartha Kitt, a lot of Willie Nelson, Los Lonely Boys, and the soundtrack to 'Frances Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula.' Eternal [Candlewick, March 2009] was written to, again, the 'Dracula' soundtrack as well as to Johnny Cash, a bit of swing, and the soundtrack for 'The Blues Brothers.'"

Cynthia Leitich Smith on Writing Horror/Fantasy: a Poised at the Edge Author Interview by Melissa from Hello Ma'am. Peek: "
What new voices in horror would you recommend to your readers?" Find out which of the many spectacular speculative fiction authors I highlight, (sorry I couldn't list them all!) and check out my tip for writing horror.

Spooky Notes

Shooting Stars Mag offers Tantalize giveaway contest! Deadline: Aug. 1 at midnight EST! See also Genre of July -- Vampires at Genre of the Month.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Spooky News & Giveaways

Interview: Claudia Gray from Teen Libris. Peek: "I used to live in New Orleans, so I learned a lot about the city's history then. That history inspired Patrice's character, more as who she was when she was still alive than as the vampire she became." Note: Win a copy of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite edited by P. C. Cast (BenBella, Aug. 2008)(PDF excerpt)(exclusive to Borders) from Teen Libris! Deadline: July 31.
Linda Joy Singleton Book Spotlight and Author Interview from Zensanity. Peek: "I stopped writing from about age 17 to 27, gaining experiences of love, marriage, family. Then I reclaimed my writing dreams, joined a writing group, critique group, worked very hard, and sold my first book at age 30." Read a Cynsations interview with Linda Joy Singleton.

Harry Potter fans pay £1,000 a night to stay in hotel room where JK Rowling finished series by Simon Johnson from The Telegram. Peek: "Despite living in Edinburgh, Miss Rowling, 42, checked into room 552 at the city's Balmoral Hotel to complete the series in January last year." Source: Bookshelves of Doom.

FaerieDrink.com Summer's End Contest: enter to win "a Zelda Wii Game, autographed books by Holly Black, an autographed Spiderwick poster, a 'Spiderwick' movie poster, assorted goods from other authors, Bad Girls Club by Judy Gregerson, and a Macbook Tithe Case!" Enter here. Read a Cynsations interview with Holly.

Books Lists: newly updated from Wired for Youth at the Austin Public Library. Categories include: African-American authors; fairy tales with a twist; fantasy; ghosts; GLBTQ; Hispanic Teen fiction; horror; humor; multicultural fiction; mysteries and thrillers; novels in verse; science fiction; Texas authors; vampires; werewolves and shapeshifters; biography; and much more! Note: avid readers, collection builders, and MFA students may want to bookmark.

Event Reminders


"The primary focus of ArmadilloCon is literary science fiction, but that's not all we do -- we also pay attention to art, animation, science, media, and gaming. Every year, dozens of professional writers, artists and editors attend the convention. We invite you to attend the convention especially if you are a fan of reading, writing, meeting, sighting, feeding, knighting, and all the other things folks do at a sci-f/fantasy convention." Note: I'll be on the program (not sure of the specifics yet), and I hope to see y'all there!

Slumber Party @ Teen Fest: April Lurie (author interview), Jennifer Ziegler (author interview), and Cynthia Leitich Smith will join forces in a "lively, intimate discussion about books and writing for teen girls" at noon Aug. 2 at Carver Branch Library/Austin Public Library in Austin, Texas. The event will include a book signing, "games, snacks, beauty tips, and even a passionate reading contest. Pajamas and pillows optional!"

Warning: Only Two Non-Critique Spots Remain! Austin SCBWI's "A Day with an Editor" featuring Jill Santopolo, author and senior editor at Laura Geringer/HarperCollins, and author Cynthia Leitich Smith will be Sept. 13. Jill is interested in literary novels, quirky middle grades, and picture books. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College and is the author of Alec Flint, Super Sleuth: The Nina, The Pinta and the Vanishing Treasure (Scholastic/Orchard, 2008). Note: as of this past Wednesday (the 23th), there were only two non-critique spots left! This event will sell out before the early-bird deadline! If you're interested, the time to commit is now!

From BookPeople: author Eoin Colfer will be presenting his "hilarious one-man show" at 7 p.m. July 27 at St. Edward's University in Austin. "During the show Eoin will give the audience a rare peek at the inspiration for the teenage criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl." Tickets are $25 and include a copy of Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox (Hyperion, 2008). A signing will follow. Tickets are now available at BookPeople. Note: general admission tickets will be $8 the evening of the event at St. Edward's (until sold out).



More Giveaways

The Cynsations grand prize giveaways for July are two signed copies of Wake by Lisa McMann (Simon Pulse, 2008). To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST July 31! Please also type "Wake" in the subject line. Note: one autographed copy will be awarded to a YA public librarian (please specify library with entry) and one autographed copy will be awarded to any Cynsations YA reader.

Enter to win an autographed copy of A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg (Delacorte, 2008)! To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST July 28! Please also type "A Thousand Never Evers" in the subject line. Read Shana's blog and a Cynsations interview with Shana. Visit Shana at MySpace!

Note: International entries are eligible for Cynsations giveaways unless otherwise specified.


The winners of the Tantalize paperback launch giveaway were: Alana at the James Blackstone Memorial Library in Connecticut; Jessica in Minnesota; Geena in Hawaii; and Stephanie in Florida! The winner of Australia-New Zealand giveaway was Sherryl in Australia! Note: the most popular T-shirt for teachers/librarians was Cell Phones will Be Eaten. The most popular T-shirt for those who'd already read the novel was I "Heart" Baby Squirrel, and the most popular among those who hadn't read the novel yet was the Sanguini's shirt with flowers.

Didn't win? Enter one of the two ongoing Tantalize paperback (Candlewick, July 2008) giveaways! See below under "more personally"!

Attention: members of Tantalize Fans Unite! at MySpace! Enter to win a copy of Zombie Blondes by Brian James (Feiwel and Friends, 2008). Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Peek: "I wanted to write a horror novel that felt extremely real. So the main character Hannah isn't unlike the characters of my previous books, which would fall into the realistic fiction genre. She's a girl who moves around a lot and has trouble fitting in wherever she goes. The book deals with a lot of the normal problems of being in high school, but Hannah has the unfortunate luck to happen upon a school attended primarily by zombies who are very clever and devious when it comes to hiding themselves."

All members of the group are eligible to win. Bonus points will go to those who make a comment on the boards between now and midnight Aug. 1.

Note: Don't miss the FaerieDrink.com Summer's End contest (see above for details).

More Personally

Cynthia Leitich Smith on Writing Horror/Fantasy: a Poised at the Edge Author Interview from Hello Ma'am. Peek: "
What new voices in horror would you recommend to your readers?" Find out which seven of the many spectacular speculative fiction authors I highlight, (sorry I couldn't list them all!) and check out my tip for writing horror.

Thank you for the cheers on the sale of Blessed (Candlewick, TBA) and on the Tantalize paperback release! It was an honor to hear privately and in comments from so many folks, including TadMack at Finding Wonderland: The WritingYA Weblog. Note: the Tantalize paperback includes an excerpt of Eternal (Candlewick, March 2009).

On a related note, I'll be
chatting live about Tantalize at The ALAN Book Chat on Wednesday, July 30th at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central.

The Book Girl Reviews: a Place for the Book Obsessed is sponsoring a giveaway of Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007, 2008). Peek: "By midnight EST on Friday July 25th, you have to write a short summary of your favorite YA book and post it here."

Shooting Stars Mag offers Tantalize giveaway contest! Deadline:
Aug. 1 at midnight EST! See also Genre of July -- Vampires at Genre of the Month.

Win a copy of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite edited by P. C. Cast (BenBella, Aug. 2008)(PDF excerpt)(exclusive to Borders) from Teen Libris! Deadline: July 31.

Even More Personally

I saw "Batman: The Dark Knight" Sunday morning at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater on South Lamar in Austin. It was reminiscent of the 1980s blockbuster scene. A line snaked out of the theater and into the Texas July heat for even the 12:20 a.m. show. Greg and I had arrived almost an hour early, and we still ended up in the last row (not that it mattered; every seat is a good one).

True to form, the Alamo Drafthouse, which is a restaurant-theater, served up a menu inspired by the film, which included: "Batwings: Fried wings in a dark and spicy sauce of reduced soy sauce, chile arbol, toasted sesame and ginger plum sauce for dippin'."

I won't offer spoilers, but I will say that Heath Ledger's performance is much more than just hype. I couldn't even "see" the actor through the role. It was simply the Joker, which was of course scary as all get out. I wasn't bothered by the "darkness," possibly because my primary reference to Batman's Gotham is through the comic books [I subscribe to all of them]. On the other hand, it did wear on me that every woman in the storyline was a victim of some kind. That aside, it's an excellent film. Don't miss "A Brief History of the Joker" from the LA Times.

We're off to "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" this weekend.

And finally, Dracula meets IKEA... Source: Vampiress.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Goal Setting, Time Management, Tongue Tattoos, and ALAN Chat

Miriam Hees, publisher of Blooming Tree Press, debut author P. J. Hoover, and her editor Madeline Smoot show off the cover to P. J.'s upcoming novel The Emerald Tablet (Blooming Tree, October 2008).

P. J. spoke last Saturday to a full house at Austin SCBWI's monthly meeting. Her topic was "Create Your Own Future with Goals and Time Management."

P. J. emphasized identifying goals, focusing on goals, implementing steps to achieve them, and making the most out of your time.

What I appreciated most about her presentation was the personal-responsibility theme. She emphasized owning what you can do to facilitate your success, both professionally and more broadly as a well-rounded person. Of course we have important partners--critique groups, agents, publishers, booksellers, teachers, and librarians--but as youth literature creators, ultimately we are accountable to our art and our readers.

She also cheered the power of positive thinking. That got me thinking...

Over the years, I've met a lot of folks in the youth writing community, and hands-down, those who were forward-thinking, upbeat, and had the strongest, most cheerful work ethic have been the most successful by any measure.


I also must mention P. J.'s innovative book giveaway, a Fruit Roll up that creates a tongue-tattoo. What will authors think of next? Note: the tattoos were both effective and tasty.


Don't miss: P. J.'s report, I'm Ready to Set My Goals; Carmen Oliver's report, Goal Setting and Time Management; and Alison Dellenbaugh's report Time management, tongue tattoos, and video. Check out Roots in Myth, P. J.'s blog. Read a Cynsations interview with Miriam.

In other news, author Lila Guzman is celebrating the release of George Lopez: Latino King of Comedy (Enslow, 2008)! Read a Cynsations interview with Lila.

As usual, it was a great turn out for the meeting. Local luminaries included authors Brian Anderson, Anne Bustard, Jane Ann Peddicord, and author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell.

I'd like to send out a special welcome to first-timer LaShun Gaines! (I hope to see you again soon!).


More Personally

"The ALAN Book Chat is pleased to feature Cynthia Leitich Smith and her novel Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007)[now available in paperback, 2008] in the July book chat.

"The live chat to discuss Tantalize will be held at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central on July 23. The live chat with Cynthia Leitich Smith will be held one week later, July 30th at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central.

"You do not have to be a member of ALAN to participate in the Book Chat. To join the conversation, click on this link. " Check out the readers' guide to Tantalize.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Sale: Blessed to Follow Cynthia Leitich Smith's Tantalize and Eternal

Tantalize Now Available in Paperback from Candlewick Press

I'm thrilled to announce that Candlewick Press will be publishing Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith!

The young adult prose novel will set be in the same universe as Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009).

The books are interconnected Gothic fantasy suspense novels with strong romantic elements and some humor.

For context, Deborah Noyes in the forward to Gothic: Ten Original Dark Tales (Candlewick, 2004)(author interview) writes: "...think of Gothic as a room within the larger house of horror. Its decor is distinctive. It insists on the burden of the past. It also gleefully turns our ideas of good and evil on end."

I've been informally referring to these books as a "loose trilogy" or "books in a universe."

The overarching story was inspired by Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). I'm a big believer in "the conversation between books," and interested readers may want to reread Stoker's classic before Eternal.

The main characters in Tantalize and Eternal are different. However, members of both casts will come together for Blessed, which will pick up at the fictional vampire restaurant, Sanguini's.

Status Check

Tantalize is now available in hardcover and--as of today--in paperback (see sources below)! The paperback includes a short excerpt of Eternal at the back of the book.

In addition, a graphic-novel adaptation of Tantalize is in the works. It will be retold with new scenes from the character Kieren's point of view. No word yet on an illustrator yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Eternal is in the midst of production. Eternal is told in alternating point of view by male and female leads.

Blessed is in progress and under contract.

Between books, you can check out my related short stories: "Haunted Love" from Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P. C. Cast (BenBella, August 2008)(exclusive to Borders); and "Cat Calls" from Cabinet of Curiosities, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2009). Note: both stories feature new characters.

Reminder

In the U.S. and Canada, Tantalize is available in prose from Candlewick Press and on audio from Listening Library. You also can order the book in hardcover from Walker Books Australia and New Zealand (it looks like the company will be carrying a paperback edition in 2009). In addition, the novel will be released by Walker U.K. this fall, and more overseas editions are pending--I'm just waiting for the final paperwork to announce another one.

Giveaways

The Book Girl Reviews: a Place for the Book Obsessed is sponsoring a giveaway of Tantalize. Peek: "By midnight EST on Friday July 25th, you have to write a short summary of your favorite YA book and post it here."

Teen Libris is sponsoring a giveaway of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite. Learn more here!

And I'm giving away three signed copies of Tantalize in paperback, each with a Sanguini's T-shirt of the winner's choice!

In addition to the popular Sanguini's logo shirts, Gene Brenek has created the all-new "I 'heart' Baby Squirrel" shirt; the "Cell Phones Will Be Eaten" shirt; the "Drop In for a Late Night Bite" shirt; and both a birds-theme and a dragon-theme "predator or prey" shirt. Note: I don't make any money off the sale of the shirts.

To enter the Tantalize paperback and Sanguini's T-shirt giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name, snail/street mail address, and preferred T-shirt design by midnight CST July 22! Please also type "Tantalize Paperback and Sanguini's T-shirt" in the subject line.

One prize will be awarded to a YA teacher or librarian (please specify school/library with entry; university professors are eligible) and two prizes will be awarded to any Cynsations YA readers.

Additional Sanguini's T-shirts of the winners' choice will be awarded to a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! at MySpace and to any YA bookseller.

To enter the Sanguini's T-shirt (only) giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name, snail/street mail address, and preferred T-shirt design by midnight CST July 22! If you are a member of TFU! please indicate that, and if you are a bookseller, please specify your bookstore. Please also type "Sanguini's T-shirt" in the subject line.

I'm also going to give away a signed hardcover copy to one Cynsational YA reader from Australia or New Zealand! To enter, email me (scroll for address) with your name, snail/street mail address, and preferred T-shirt design by midnight CST July 22! Note: if you have already entered the ongoing Tantalize Paperback, Eternal Excerpt, Sanguini's Giveaway (above), you don't have to send another email. Your existing entry will count for both giveaway programs!

Thanks to all for your ongoing interest, enthusiasm, and support!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tantalize Giveaway at The Book Girl Reviews

The Book Girl Reviews: a Place for the Book Obsessed is sponsoring a giveaway of Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007, 2008). Peek: "By midnight EST on Friday July 25th, you have to write a short summary of your favorite YA book and post it here."

Spooky Notes

Tantalize will be available in paperback July 22, and news about Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and additional books in the storyline/universe is coming soon!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Spooky News & Giveaways

Unhappily Ever After: Remember when children's books frolicked through tales of ponies and princes? The latest kid-lit craze is stories about living through the apocalypse—now by Karen Springen from Newsweek. Peek: "Kids' post-apocalyptic books aren't all doom and gloom. They typically feature smart, courageous children who figure out answers to problems with scant adult help, and they tend to end on a positive, if not happy, note." Source: Susan Beth Pfeffer.

The Candy Heart Contest: debut YA author David Macinnis Gill at I Am Chikin, Hear Me Roar is hosting a contest to win an advanced reader copy of Soul Enchilada (Greenwillow, 2009)! Deadline: July 31!

Attention Austinites: "Create Your Own Future with Goals and Time Management" with P. J. Hoover from Austin SCBWI will be on July 19 at Barnes and Noble Westlake. P.J. is the debut author of The Emerald Tablet (Blooming Tree, Oct. 2008). The Emerald Tablet is the first book in her middle grade science-fiction trilogy, The Forgotten Worlds Books. Note: see you there!

Warning: Almost Sold Out! Austin SCBWI's "A Day with an Editor" featuring Jill Santopolo, author and senior editor at Laura Geringer/HarperCollins, and author Cynthia Leitich Smith will be Sept. 13. Jill is interested in literary novels, quirky middle grades, and picture books. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College and is the author of Alec Flint, Super Sleuth: The Nina, The Pinta and the Vanishing Treasure (Scholastic/Orchard, 2008). Note: as of this past Wednesday (the 16th), there were only two critique and four non-critique spots left! This event will sell out before the early-bird deadline! If you're interested, the time to commit is now!

Creating Suspense by Bruce Black at wordswimmer. Peek: "[Robert B.] Parker introduces the mystery in the first chapter, showing readers how a nameless boy comes to his untimely death. But Parker doesn't show the murder itself. Instead, he lets the reader eavesdrop on the scene."

Preventing the destruction of Australian Publishing from YA author Justine Larbalestier. Peek: "I have friends who have not been picked up by publishing houses in the U.S. and the U.K. because their books are 'too Australian' and not sufficiently 'universal to have appeal outside Australia'." Which leads to more considerations... See also Justine's The Problem with Being a Small English-Speaking Country.

Librarians assemble book cart drill team by Amy Hadley from News8 Austin. Peek: "During rehearsal, the Bibliofiles can be heard singing in a very seductive voice, 'I want to be your librarian/I want to check out your books.'" See also: Bibliofiles Win Silver at the Library Book Cart Drill Team World Championship from the Austin Public Library at MySpace.

Here's a fan-created trailer for Don't Die Dragonfly from The Seer series by Linda Joy Singleton (Llewellyn, 2004). Read a Cynsations interview with Linda Joy Singleton.



An Interview with Melissa Marr by Dee Gentle at ParaNormal Romance (scroll to read). Peek: "I don't consider writing to be limited to the physical act of fingers on keys, so to some degree I think I'm always writing. Stories simmer in our minds for months or years before they are ready to be served up on to the page." Read a Cynsations interview with Melissa.

I am the Very Model of a Modern SF Novelist by Jim C. Hines. Peek: "I am the very model of a modern SF novelist; I've manuscripts space opera, anime, and fantasist..." Source: AlmaNews.

Giveaway Reminders


Congratulations to Tish in Kentucky, winner of Black Pearls: A Faerie Strand by Louise Hawes (Houghton Mifflin, 2008)! Read a Cynsations interview with Louise.

Here's a reminder of ongoing opportunities!

The Cynsations grand prize giveaways for July are two signed copies of Wake by Lisa McMann (Simon Pulse, 2008). To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST July 31! Please also type "Wake" in the subject line. Note: one autographed copy will be awarded to a YA public librarian (please specify library with entry) and one autographed copy will be awarded to any Cynsations YA reader.

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007, 2008)(Listening Library, 2008)(audio sample) goes on sale in paperback in the U.S. July 22!

To celebrate, I'm giving away three signed copies of Tantalize in paperback, each with a Sanguini's T-shirt of the winner's choice! Note: Sanguini's is the fictional vampire-themed restaurant in the novel.

In addition to the popular Sanguini's logo shirts, graphic design genius Gene Brenek has created the all-new "I 'heart' Baby Squirrel" shirt; the "Cell Phones Will Be Eaten" shirt; the "Drop In for a Late Night Bite" shirt; and both a birds-theme and a dragon-theme "predator or prey" shirt. See below; click for larger views. Note: I don't make any money off the sale of the tie-in shirts.

To enter the Tantalize paperback and Sanguini's T-shirt giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name, snail/street mail address, and preferred T-shirt design by midnight CST July 22! Please also type "Tantalize Paperback and Sanguini's T-shirt" in the subject line.

One prize will be awarded to a YA teacher or librarian (please specify school/library with entry; university professors are eligible) and two prizes will be awarded to any Cynsations YA readers.

Additional Sanguini's T-shirts of the winners' choice will be awarded to a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! at MySpace and to any YA bookseller.

To enter the Sanguini's T-shirt (only) giveaway, email me (scroll for address) with your name, snail/street mail address, and preferred T-shirt design by midnight CST July 22! If you are a member of TFU! please indicate that, and if you are a bookseller, please specify your bookstore. Please also type "Sanguini's T-shirt" in the subject line.

On a related note, Tantalize is now available in hardcover for order from Walker Books Australia and New Zealand! See the publisher listing. It looks like the paperback edition will be available in 2009.

To celebrate, I'm going to give away a signed hardcover copy to one Cynsational YA reader from Australia or New Zealand! To enter, email me (scroll for address) with your name, snail/street mail address, and preferred T-shirt design by midnight CST July 22! Note: if you have already entered the ongoing Tantalize Paperback, Eternal Excerpt, Sanguini's Giveaway in celebration of the U.S. paperback release, you don't have to send another email. Your existing entry will count for both giveaway programs!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Books That Suck, Including Tantalize

The Compulsive Reader is dedicating July to "Books That Suck." To clarify: "No," CR says, "I am not going to spend an entire month on books to avoid. Instead, this month is going to be devoted to an ever growing genre of YA—Vampire books."

Gothic fantasy fans, be sure to check out this series of posts that begin with a recommendation of Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde and includes giveaways (including copies of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008))! The series also may be valuable to those champions seeking more books to recommend to the vampire-loving reader crowd!

On that note, don't miss...

Books That Suck Month: Day Fourteen: Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith: a review and author interview from The Compulsive Reader.

Here's a peek of the review: "Tantalize is an elegant, dark, and nicely creepy read."

And a peek from the interview: "I couldn't help rolling my eyes at Stoker’s leading female characters, which—true to the fictional norms of the day—were crafted as a sensual monster and 'virgin' victim, metaphorically speaking."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Immortal: Love Stories with Bite Giveaway

Win a copy of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite edited by P. C. Cast (BenBella, Aug. 2008)(PDF excerpt)(exclusive to Borders) from Teen Libris!

Peek: "Enter to win one of three copies of the vampire short story anthology Immortal: Love Stories That Bite, signed by editor P.C. Cast.

"You'll also get five 'vampire bite' tattoos from Boutique du Vampyre in New Orleans, to get into the vampire spirit!"

Deadline: July 31. See guidelines and more!

Note: This vampire-themed YA anthology will include short stories by P. C. Cast, L. J. Smith, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kristin Cast, Rachel Caine (author interview), Tanith Lee, Nancy Holder, Richelle Mead, and Claudia Gray.

From the promotional copy:

When you're Immortal, true love really is forever

Rachel Caine revisits the setting of her Morganville Vampires series, where the vampires are in charge and love is a risky endeavor, even when it comes to your own family;

Tantalize author Cynthia Leitich Smith gives us a love triangle between a vampire, a ghost and a human girl, in which none of them are who or what they seem;

Claudia Gray takes us into the world of her Evernight series, in which a pre–Civil War courtesan-to-be is courted by a pale, fair-haired man whose attentions are too dangerous to spurn—in more ways than one;

Vampire Academy author Richelle Mead brings us the tale of a young vampire on the run from the rest of her kind, and the human boy who provides the getaway car—and a reason to keep running;

Wicked series writer Nancy Holder immerses us in a post-apocalyptic New York where two best friends are forced to make a choice that may kill them both;

Kristin Cast, co-author of the House of Night series, introduces us to a new kind of vampire: one with roots in Greek mythology, and the power to alter space and time to save the girl he's meant to love;

• And master fantasist Tanith Lee shows us what happens when a bright young woman with some supernatural savvy encounters a misguided (but gorgeous) young vampire...

P. C. Cast is the New York Times bestselling author of the House of Night series (Marked, Betrayed, Chosen, Untamed) with her daughter Kristin Cast. She lives in Oklahoma.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Michigan Memories: Alma Mater, Playhouse, Faierie Doors, and Scholars

Magical! That's what it was like to return to Michigan with my very cute husband and sometimes co-author Greg Leitich Smith for a few days earlier this month.

Our primary mission was to visit Linda Pavonetti and Jim Cipielewski's class, "The Author's and Illustrator's Art and Craft," at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. (More on that shortly).

We decided to fly up a couple of days early to visit Ann Arbor, home of our alma mater, The University of Michigan Law School, where we first met as 1L students in 1991.

We took an uneventful Northwest flight to Detroit, during which I read most of debut author Maggie Stiefvater's upcoming Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception (Flux, 2008).

Despite my head-over-toes joy over being back "home" in Michigan, the story was a constant lure for my attention, and I finished it not long after arriving. Here's the blurb I sent to Andrew Karre (editor interview) at Flux: "Chock-full of the fierce and the fey, Maggie Stiefvater's Lament is musical, magical, and practically radiating romance. A blood-fresh reinvention of old traditions, perfect for engaging sharp minds and poetic hearts."

We arrived just after noon at Detroit Metro Airport, which was much spiffier than I remembered, and I found myself vaguely enchanted by the light display--complete with New Age-y, sort of spa music--along the walkway.


After a short stop at Hertz, we were crusing to Ann Arbor. In no time, our bags were checked in at the Campus Inn, which has an excellent restaurant and is within short walking distance to the student union.


From there, we walked to lunch at one of our old haunts, the Red Hawk Bar and Grill on State Street. It was just as good as we remembered, and I highly recommend the chef's salad (black forest ham, smoked turkey breast, bacon, hard-cooked egg, tomato, red onion and cheddar on romaine with honey mustard vinaigrette).

After lunch, we continued on to the law school quad. You know how usually when you return to a school, it doesn't look as impressive as you recall? That was definitely not the case here. By the way, our law school classmates include fellow YA author Niki Burnham.





The classroom doors were all locked, and the reading room (immediately below) fixtures were undergoing renovation, but we still enjoyed strolling the halls and remembering when.




That evening, we drove to author Shutta Crum's (author interview) farm, which is just outside the city. Visiting Shutta's place is like walking into the pages of a storybook--the quilts, the color, the quiet pond and brown barn...the deer, the fruit trees, the rows of grapes.



After a yummy salad and vegetarian lasagna (must ask for recipe!) with Shutta and her husband Gerry, we retired to the wood-floor garage-turned-playhouse to visit with a few of her pals from the local youth literature community.

The sparkling guests included: author Jacqui Robbins; author-illustrator Tracy Gallup (who was kind enough to give us autographed copies of her "A Crazy Little Series" (Mackinac Island Press)); author Ann Purmell (with whom I had an excellent discussion about books that reflect kids who work per her Apple Cider Making Days, illustrated by Joanne Fair (Millbrook, 2002)); Ann Arbor District Library children's librarian Ieva Bates; and Borders bookseller Ruta Drummond (the latter two, pictured last, are sisters--is that a book family or what?). We also enjoyed the great company of Tracy's husband Doug and Ann's husband Bruce!

Thanks again, Shutta and Gerry!




The next day we went shopping (note: this is not the proper name of the law school, but we bought the shirt anyway because of the shark).

Did you know that Borders started in Ann Arbor?

And we visited one of Ann Arbor's famed faerie doors, which we had learned about from Shutta the night before. If you're heading that way, here's a list of all the doors (with photos) and a nifty tour map.

Check out this related story from NPR; peek: "All across the city, 'fairy doors' are popping up. The miniature openings into imagined fairy homes are unsponsored, unauthorized works of public art that have captured the imagination of the city." Below is a shot of The Peaceable Kingdom and its faerie door on South Main. How sweet is that?


On a more personal note, we also enjoyed lunch at Cafe Felix (the Tabla Mixta--proscuitto, melon, strawberries, baked brie), visited The Natural History Museum, and stopped by The Arcadian in Nickels Arcade, which is where we bought my engagement ring in 1993.




Then we were off for Oakland University! We stayed at the nearby historic and award-winning Cobblestone Manor, a place of sumptuous breakfasts, gorgeous gardens, and grand cheer.


Later, professors Linda Pavonetti and Jim Cipielewski showed us around Oakland U.'s vast and beautiful campus, including Meadowbrook Hall, and then treated us to a wonderful dinner at Kruse and Muer (shrimp and chicken penne).



The next morning, Greg gave an hour-long presentation--centered in part on the importance and process of writing humor for young readers--and then fielded a 45-minute question-and-answer session from the students, followed by a signing.

On a side note, Linda is the president of the United States Board on Books for Young People. More on that soon!



That evening, after a beer-battered fish-and-chips dinner, Jim and Linda treated us to a local treasure--Cook's Dairy Farm! The setting was as delightful as the iced cream was delicious. I ordered the classic chocolate, and Greg ordered the cookie dough. Both were wonderful, though I did end up stealing more than one bite of his.



The next day, it was my turn to speak. It's probably the broadest talk I've ever given as my audience's areas of interest spanned from early elementary through young adult. I spent time on Native youth literature with an eye toward related trade books in the classroom. But I also touched on my own upper-age level titles, including Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008), and read a very short excerpt from Eternal (Candlewick, 2009).

Jim was spectacular with the supporting AV equipment, and the students' questions were insightful. It was a bright, thoughtful class, and I particularly enjoyed visiting informally with them at the signing after my presentation.

Afterward, on our tour of the education school, I happened to ask whether the library had a Native youth literature collection and was wowed by the responding interest and enthusiasm. It meant a great deal to me and lingers in my thoughts.

I also had a great time both days at lunches--one chicken soup and a chicken-salad sandwich, the other spicy, stir-fried chicken and vegetable (Thai food). I forgot to ask if it was okay to mention our companions (some of whom also chauffeured us around) by name, so I won't, but thanks to all (and to the prospective YA writer in the group, go for it)!

Greg and I decided to stay one more night at the bed-and-breakfast, and this afforded us an opportunity to meet the next incoming speaker, Marie-Louise Gay.

What an unexpected and amazing treat it was to chat with her, study her books, and ask questions about her process! She was tremendously gracious in taking the time to visit with us.

That night, we dined at Bistro Bourdeau, and then, the next morning, it was time to return to Austin! The journey home was longer than expected--one of those three-hour flights that turns into seven, much of it spent sitting in the plane on the runway. But that gave me an opportunity to finish Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel (Little Brown, 2008) and The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower by Lisa Graff (HarperCollins, 2008), both of which were terrific reads!

Memo to children's-YA book creators: if Linda and Jim ever invite you to speak at Oakland University, go!

Memo to Linda and Jim: thanks!

See Greg's report!