Friday, August 29, 2008

Spooky News & Giveaways

Enter to win one of three ARCs of The Devouring: Sorry Night by Simon Holt (Little Brown, Sept. 2008). From the promotional copy:

"When dark creeps in and eats the light,

"Bury yours fears on Sorry Night.

"For in the winter's blackest hours,

"Comes the feasting of the Vours.

"No one will see it, the life they stole,

"Your body's here but not your soul..."


"15-year-old Reggie doesn't know who penned the mysterious journal about the Vours, wicked creatures that inhabit children's bodies on Sorry Night, the darkness of the winter solstice. Once inside a human, the Vour assumes the victim's personality, banishing their soul to a dark netherworld called a fearscape. Frightening, but thought to be only the musings of an anonymous lunatic... until a midnight game awakens an ancient evil.

"After playing with the journal's incantations on Sorry Night, Reggie and her best friend Aaron discover the story of the Vours is all too real. When a demonic force consumes Reggie's little brother, Henry, she must race to save him. Slowly, she uncovers the truth: Vours have existed since the dawn of mankind, feeding on humanity's fright. Reggie acquires the ability to enter victims' fearscapes, psychic prisons sculpted from pure terror. Once inside, she must empower victims to conquer their fear and destroy the Vours that have enslaved them.

"Together with a small band of believers, Reggie wages war against an enemy she cannot touch or reason with, creatures powerful enough to enslave human bodies and steal souls without detection. The Vours gorge themselves on human fear—feeding their guile, their cruelty, and their power. A cataclysm called 'The Devouring' approaches, and only Reggie Halloway can stop it."

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST Sept. 8!

OR, if you're on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Sept. 8! But DON'T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I'll contact you for it if you win.

One ARC will go to a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature (please indicate), one will go to any Cynsational reader, and one will go to a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! at MySpace. Please indicate status. Please also type "Devouring" in the subject line.

Last Chance

Enter to win Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P. C. Cast (BenBella, 2008), now available at Borders and Waldenbooks! Note: there's some delay in adding it to the Borders website, so try to find a "brick-and-mortar" store.

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

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 30!

OR, if you're on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 30! But DON'T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I'll contact you for it if you win.

I'm giving away three copies, each autographed by contributor Cynthia Leitich Smith (that's me, obviously)! One copy will go to a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature (please indicate), one will go to any Cynsational reader, and one will go to a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! at MySpace. Please indicate status. Please also type "Immortal" in the subject line.

Winners of The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (HarperCollins, 2008)(author interview) were Kearsten of the Glendale Public Library in Arizona and Royal in California.

This Weekend

April Lurie will celebrate the release of her latest YA novel, The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine (Delacorte, 2008)(excerpt), with a book signing from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Barnes & Noble in Round Rock!

In a starred review for KLIATT, Clare Rosser says: "
She writes with wit, intelligence, and compassion for her characters. This is a story about guys, primarily...brothers; fathers and sons; lonely young men who are feeling somewhat lost. Lurie does a wonderful job of making them real."

See also April's report on the Teen Slumber Fest at the Austin Public Library and speaking to kids at Gardner Betts Juvenile Detention Center through the Second Chance Books Project. And, while you're at it, read a Cynsations interview with Brazos Price on Second Chance Books.

More News & Links

Check out the trailer for Jolted: Newton Starker's Rules for Survival by Arthur G. Slade (Wendy Lamb/Random House, March 2009). Source: Maggie L. Wood's Journal.


Online Videos by Veoh.com

We're warming up for the 2008 contest... from The Cybils 2008. Peek: "We open nominations to the public on Oct. 1 at cybils.com. Anyone 13 or older--authors and publishers included--may nominate a book in one of our eight genres." Don't miss the Call for Judges! Read a Cynsations interview with Kelly Herold and Anne Boles Levy on The Cybils.

Featuring Maggie Stiefvater from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: "Lament (Flux, October 2008), as Maggie puts it at her art blog, is about a musically talented high school girl who falls for an enigmatic boy who seems to know a lot about her. And, adds Maggie, it 'sucks that he's a fairy assassin.' There is more information about the book here."

Books after Ink Exchange from Melissa Marr. Here's the full (and exciting scoop). I especially cheer the spoiler observations that follow. Peek: "The individual resolution for Leslie wasn't an authorial ploy to tease out a different romantic resolution. " Read a Cynsations interview with Melissa.

Coming Soon

"Connections & Craft: Writing for Children and Young Adults:" hosted by Brazos Valley (Texas) SCBWI Nov. 15 at A & M United Methodist Church in College Station, Texas. "Editor Joy Neaves, agent Emily Van Beek, and author Cynthia Leitich Smith comprise our faculty for this day-long event. Published BV-SCBWI authors will also conduct a hands-on Writers' Workshop." Download the brochure. Read a Cynsations interview with Emily.

The first annual Hill Country Book Festival will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Georgetown Public Library (Georgetown, Texas).

The children's activities will include author and illustrator visits; live music; face painting; crafts (puppets and collages). Free popcorn and snow cones will be available, as will hot dogs for $1.

Participating authors/illustrators include Liz Garton Scanlon, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, Don Tate, P. J. Hoover, and Deborah Frontiera. The Biscuit Brothers also will be performing! See schedule.

More Personally

For me this week has been one of productivity and local writers!

I've reviewed and sent back copyedits on my forthcoming short story, "Cat Calls," which will appear in Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists, and Other Matters Odd and Magical, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, July 2009)(author interview).

I've signed and returned a foreign rights contract on Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008). More on that soon!

I enjoyed lunch at Suzi's China Grill and Sushi Bar with Blooming Tree publisher Miriam Hees (publisher interview), a performance at the Hyde Park Theater by author Lindsey Lane (author interview), and I'm off tomorrow to the Barnes & Noble Round Rock for YA author April Lurie's signing (author interview)(see event details above).

I've also read through and made notes on manuscripts for Austin SCBWI's Day With an Editor, which I co-leading with author-editor Jill Santopolo (author-editor interview) on Sept. 13.

On the book front, I'm honored to report that Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001) is the recipient of the Dishchii'Bikoh High School Reader Award. DHS is on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in eastern Arizona. See also a reading group guide for Rain Is Not My Indian Name.

Author Daria Snadowsky writes to report that Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) was included in this Houston ISD summer reading list! Read a Cynsations interview with Daria.

I'll also be appearing twice to discuss Tantalize and related forthcoming books in October on the Eye4You Alliance Island at Second Life. From School Library Journal: "There will be two appearances, the first on the main grid of Second Life (for those 18 and over) on October 14, and again on October 28 on the teen grid of Teen Second." See more information.

Reminder

Join debut author Kimberly Pauley from now to Sept. 10 at the The Official Sucks to Be Me Book Launch Par-tay! Note: it's so gracious (and typical) of Kimberly to be highlighting other authors as she launches her own debut title! There are tons of amazing giveaways!

Speaking of which, don't miss our question-and-answer interviews with each other and her giveaways of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) as well as a Sanguini's T-shirt!

Then jump to her features on Marlene Perez, Lauren Myracle, and Tanya Lee Stone, and enter to win those giveaways, too!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Official Sucks to Be Me Book Launch Par-tay!; Win Tantalize and Sanguini's T-shirt

Join debut author Kimberly Pauley from now to Sept. 10 at the The Official Sucks to Be Me Book Launch Par-tay!

Every day, Kimberly will feature a different author and associated giveaway. Return each day to enter for the new giveaway giveaway ("and to learn about some of the coolest authors around!"). You'll have a week to enter each daily contest. Those entries will also count for the "grand Poo-bah of Prize Packs." Really, it's impressive!

What else? Win a free author visit! Learn about the online party, featured authors, prize entries, and more!

Don't Miss

Book Launch Party!! Day One: Cynthia Leitich Smith: check out the interviews, and enter to win a copy of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and a Sanguini's T-shirt. Sanguini's is the fictional vampire-themed restaurant in Tantalize.

Kimberly asks me: "Tantalize is primarily a vampire book, but I love how you envisioned the were-people. Can you tell me a bit about how you came up with that?"

And I ask Kimberly: "In modern literary and film interpretations, the vampire arguably reigns as the sexiest of Gothic creatures. But if you had to pick a first runner-up between the other popular monsters—werewolves, ghosts, zombies, ghouls, faeries, etc.—which would you choose and why?"

See our answers, and learn how to win!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hello Houston: Hotel ZaZa, Leonardo, Lucy, Beasties, and Butterflies

Greg and I took a few days off this weekend--Thursday through Sunday morning--and made our way toward the Texas Gulf Coast.

We stayed at the Hotel ZaZa in the Houston Museum District. It's seriously swanky, or, as the website says, "This decadent urban resort is a mix of glamour and warmth, of high style and creature comforts. With exquisite lighting and swooping drapes, it's a theater to entice the senses and intrigue the mind." Here's a peek....


While in town, we dined exclusively at the hotel restaurant, The Monarch. For breakfast, I recommend a personal omelet. I found the smoked chicken with wild mushrooms and Swiss a satisfying choice. For lunch, I suggest the smoked turkey wrap with apple-smoked bacon, Swiss, and Vermont maple mustard. Of the appetizers, I especially enjoyed the salt-and-pepper rock shrimp with lemon cilantro aioli and ponzu as well as the French fries (a house specialty) and deconstructed ahi roll (ahi tartar with avocado, crab ceviche, sushi rice, and white truffle dressing). The portions are huge; Greg and I split virtually everything we ordered. As a side note, the check is delivered in a pretty silver box (see below).


On Friday, we were off to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where we saw two special exhibits, "Leonardo da Vinci: Man, Inventor, Genius"...


and "Lucy's Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia."

Both were impressive, but the latter was particularly affecting. According to the museum site: "Lucy's Legacy tells the amazing story of Ethiopia over the past 5 million years. In addition to the fossil of Lucy, over 100 artifacts such as ancient manuscripts and royal artifacts from a dynasty Ethiopians believe stretches back to the son of the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba will be on display." The controversial exhibit continues at the museum through Sept. 1 and then will move to Seattle.

I also enjoyed the fossils of prehistoric animals. Those of you who've read Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) know that my shifters' history can be tracked to the Ice Age, a time of great beasts like this giant armadillo who inspired the character Travis.



Moving on to the living, I adored visiting the Cockrell Butterfly Center and Live Insect Zoo.






The next day, we visited the Houston Zoo, where we saw a really big (komodo) dragon.

And a really cute baby elephant.

Our destinations were chosen by Greg, as the trip was in celebration of his birthday. But it was a gift to us both. See Greg's report.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Austin, Authors, and Armadillocon


Helen Hemphill spoke on plot to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 70 writers at last weekend's Austin SCBWI meeting, and she is highly recommended as a thoughtful, nurturing, funny, effective, and brilliant speaker. I've been to my share of workshops, and this one was a standout.

She also will be teaching a Highlights Foundation workshop on "Plotting the Novel" from Sept. 18 to Sept. 21. The program is for experienced fiction writers, limited to 10 participants, and costs $898. See more information.

Read a Cynsations interview with Helen, and watch for her posts at Through the Tollbooth, a must-read, craft oriented blog for writers.


Among participants, Sanguini's logos designer Gene Brenek is pictured with YA author Brian Yansky, who's modeling the new "predator or prey" dragon shirt. Sanguini's is the fictional vampire restaurant in Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008). Read Cynsations interviews with Gene and Brian.


But that wasn't my only local writer event of the weekend! I also spoke on two panels at the 30th Annual Armadillocon in Austin--"Bloodsucking Friends" and "Challenges of Writing Genre for Younger Readers."


Bill Crider (above with his wife Judy) did a great job as the opening ceremonies speaker! You can learn more about his books here.


Excellent people who I met included horror author Stephen E. Wedel, a fellow werewolf affectionado. Check out his LiveJournal and MySpace page.


It was a treat speaking on the "younger readers" panel with Mark London Williams, author of Candlewick's Danger Boy series.


Personal highlights included saying hello to Julie Kenner, author of the Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series. I went to her signing and basically babbled like the geeky fangirl I am.


It also was great fun visiting with Brian Anderson, author of the Zack Proton series (Aladdin, 2006). Brian's cool-ness includes the facts that he makes custom pinatas and that he's a docu-blogger. Read a Cynsations interview with Brian, and check out the wonderful interview videos below. Favorite quote: "You ave not partied until you have partied with librarians."

See also: The Community Turns Its Camera On KLRU's 'Docubloggers' mixes new media and old by Ashely Moreno from The Austin Chronicle. Source: Jennifer Ziegler.





More Armadillocon authors to know: Central Texas paranormal romance novelist Tess Mallory; and Austin YA horror novelist Thomas Pendleton (his latest book is Mason (HarperCollins, 2008).

My indisputable statement of the weekend (on the "younger readers" panel):

"YA fiction ranges in sophistication from accessible series books like Nancy Drew to The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick, 2006). I'm a fan of both. But most YA fiction falls somewhere between Nancy and Octavian."

Spooky News & Giveaways

Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P. C. Cast (BenBella, 2008) is now available at Borders and Waldenbooks! Note: when I picked up mine last weekend, the book wasn't in the system yet, but it was in the store.

This vampire-themed YA anthology includes short stories by P. C., L. J. Smith, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kristin Cast, Rachel Caine (author interview), Tanith Lee, Nancy Holder, Richelle Mead, and Claudia Gray. Note: the title of my story is "Haunted Love," it involves a vampire and ghost, and it's set in a fictional small town, "Spirit, Texas."

Enter to win one of three copies autographed by contributor Cynthia Leitich Smith (that's me, obviously)! To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 30!

OR, if you're on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 30! But DON'T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I'll contact you for it if you win.

One copy will go to a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature (please indicate), one will go to any Cynsational reader, and one will go to a member of Tantalize Fans Unite! at MySpace. Please indicate status. Please also type "Immortal" in the subject line.

Enter to win one of two copies of The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (HarperCollins, 2008)! From the promotional copy: "My name is Chloe Saunders, and my life will never be the same again.

"All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost--and the ghost saw me.

"Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a 'special home' for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House...before its skeletons come back to haunt me."

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 26!

OR, if you're on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 26! But DON'T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I'll contact you for it if you win.

One copy will go to a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature (please indicate), and one will go to any Cynsational readers. Please indicate status. Please also type "Summoning" in the subject line.

Winners of the autographed copies of Night Road by A. M. Jenkins (HarperCollins, 2008) were Moriah in South Carolina and Deena at Brighton Memorial Library in Rochester, NY! Read a Cynsations interview with A. M. Jenkins. Note: congratulations to the winners! Your books are on their way!

Reading and Discussion Teacher Guides for Books by Cecil Castellucci; guides written by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. Check out guides for Beige (Candlewick, 2007), Boy Proof (Candlewick, 2005), and The Plain Janes (Minx, 2007). Read Cynsations interviews with Cecil and Tracy.

Some Thoughts on Book Design from Alvina Ling at Blue Rose Girls. Peek: "Personally, I trust our designers and their vision, and love working with them on cover designs. In some cases, I have an idea of what I want the cover to look like, but oftentimes I'll wait and see what the designer comes up with first so as not to taint their creativity."

Graphic Novels from The Horn Book. Peek: "Our handy primer gives a quick lesson on how to navigate comic pages and also provides a few recommended titles."

Coming Soon

The first annual Hill Country Book Festival will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Georgetown Public Library (Georgetown, Texas).

The children's activities will include author and illustrator visits; live music; face painting; crafts (puppets and collages). Free popcorn and snow cones will be available, as will hot dogs for $1.

Participating authors/illustrators include Liz Garton Scanlon, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, Don Tate, P. J. Hoover, and Deborah Frontiera. The Biscuit Brothers also will be performing! See schedule.

April Lurie will celebrate the release of her latest book, The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine (Delacorte, 2008), with a book signing from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Barnes & Noble in Round Rock!

Rick Guzman (Austin) will speak at the Sept. 13 meeting of the CenTex Chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers in Round Rock, Texas. "Book Publishing Contracts: What You Need to Know," will discuss what to look for, what to avoid, and what it all means. "Guzman's law practice includes publishing interests, and he writes biographies of famous Latinos, most recently George Lopez: Latino King of Comedy (Enslow, 2008)." Source: Writers' League of Texas.

"Connections & Craft: Writing for Children and Young Adults:" hosted by Brazos Valley (Texas) SCBWI Nov. 15 at A & M United Methodist Church in College Station, Texas. "Editor Joy Neaves, agent Emily Van Beek, and author Cynthia Leitich Smith comprise our faculty for this day-long event. Published BV-SCBWI authors will also conduct a hands-on Writers' Workshop." Download the brochure. Read a Cynsations interview with Emily.

More Personally

This week's highlights were the Austin SCBWI meeting, showcasing author Helen Hemphill's talk on plotting the novel, and Armadillocon. I'll tell you more about them in today's follow-up post.

Be especially sure to check out the two video interviews with graphic chapter book author Brian Anderson! They're the must-watch features of the day.

I also finished and sent in minor edits on the pass pages to Eternal (Candlewick, March 2008). After three reads, I'd found one actual line-editing issue, one minor fact tweak, and one missing scene break. The rest were all matters of fiddling and the fact that the text simply looks different typeset, suggesting additional minor adjustments. ARCs should be printed soon!

In the meantime, you can take a sneak peek at an excerpt in the back of the U. S. paperback edition of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2008).


Right now, Austin area readers may find additional copies of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, autographed by me, at Borders (4477 S. Lamar Blvd.) at Westgate Marketplace along with autographed copies of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) in the young adult section.


In the Borders children's section, look for autographed copies of Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001), and Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002).

Note: Typically, you can also find autographed copies of Tantalize at Barnes & Noble Westlake (701 S. Capital of Texas Highway #P860) and Austin's famed indie BookPeople (603 N. Lamar). Go upstairs to the BookKids department, and look in the YA section.

Given last weekend's hectic schedule (Sunday morning panel?!), I'm going to sign off Cynsations a day early this week. But no worries! I'll be back online Monday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Author Interview: Kelley Armstrong on The Summoning

"Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous.

"If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers' dismay. All efforts to make her produce 'normal' stories failed.

"Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon.

"Kelly lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, kids, and far too many pets."

Congratulations on the publication of The Summoning (Darkest Powers, Book 1)(HarperCollins, 2008)! Could you fill us in on the story?

The Summoning is the first part of a trilogy. Chloe Saunders has spent her life moving from school to school, always being "the new kid." When she entered ninth grade, her dad agreed to let her enroll in a Buffalo school of the arts, and stay there until graduation.

So Chloe is finally a normal fifteen-year-old, and nothing could make her happier. At her new school, she's pursuing her dreams of becoming a Hollywood director, while making friends and meeting guys. A perfectly normal teen life.

Then, suddenly, she starts seeing ghosts--everywhere, talking to her, demanding things, chasing her. She's sent to a group home, where she's determined to accept her diagnosis, keep her head down and get out. But she soon begins suspect she really is seeing ghosts. And she begins to suspect Lyle House isn't what it seems.

What was your initial inspiration for writing this book?

I write a similar series for adults, and the idea for The Summoning came out of the second book. Writers are often asked where they get their ideas, but often the real question is how they find time to turn all their favorite ideas into stories. That second book had given me an idea that never quite fit into the series.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was best suited for a story about supernaturals just coming into their powers. In my fictional universe, though, that happens at puberty. So it needed to be a teen story.

What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?

I first added the basic idea to my plot file in 2003.

Then, in 2005, I decided that I wanted to try turning it into a novel. The problem was finding the time. I already had a book-a-year series, and had recently contracted for two crime novels, so it was really hard to justify writing something "just for fun." Now, I also run an online writing group on my website, and I'd been considering sponsoring a NaNoWriMo group (where writers try to write 50,000 words in November). To properly encourage my group, though, I'd need to participate...and that's where I saw the chance to write my YA book.

So I wrote The Summoning in one month and sold it and... Well, no. I did get a first draft done. And I realized that while I really liked the characters and the general setup, the plot needed work. So I put it aside to mull over. A year later, I had a reworked plot. I then rewrote the first 100 pages, and my agent sold it based on that and the new outline.

While I kept a few scene ideas, the novel was a page one rewrite. I'd done something similar with my first book, so I knew that while it seems like a lot of work, I prefer doing a full rewrite to cut-and-paste job on an old manuscript. And it did take more than one month for the new draft. I'm fast...but not quite that fast if I want something decent!

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

The biggest challenge was psychological. When I realized this story needed a teenage protagonist, I balked and it was a long time before I could bring myself to seriously consider writing it. I write first-person, meaning I don't just need to get into my narrator's head, but take on her voice. I'm...a little ways from being 15. I have a daughter that age, and there's nothing better than that to make you realize how far removed you are from an age group!

As it turned out, it was really just a psychological block. Once I started working on Chloe as a character, I was able to pull up that teenage self inside me with surprising ease. The more I worked with her, the more I remembered what it was like to be that age and, more importantly, what it felt like to be that age.

You're an established, bestselling author for the adult market, and this is your first YA novel. What about writing for the young adult audience appeals to you?

There are two main aspects that appeal to me: one reader-oriented, one totally selfish.
With my adult novels, I do get a lot of teen readers, and they're wonderful--they're so enthusiastic and quick to tell me what they like and dislike. But I've always felt bad, having only one main character their age--who is quickly outgrowing her teens! So the chance to write novels specifically for that audience is great.

And for the selfish reason, it's something new--a fresh and original (for me) approach to storytelling, with new avenues for creativity and new challenges to explore.

Despite a wide age range of narrators in my adult novels, adults share a basic set of core concerns that are different from teens, and they have a very different set of tools for dealing with them. It's a fresh take on "my world" and I love it.

If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were beginning writer, what advice would you offer?

Not to get discouraged. Which, I suppose, is what a lot of published writers would tell their younger selves. I had a lot of early encouragement, so I grew up with the misguided idea that if I ever managed to finish a whole novel, naturally it would be published.

When I reached my twenties and started taking workshops and joining writing groups, I discovered it's definitely not that easy! So I prepared for rejection, but I think that having had so much encouragement, as hard as I tried to be modest in my expectations, I couldn't help but think it would be different for me. It wasn't. And I'd get horribly discouraged.

There were periods when I couldn't bring myself to write because, as much as I tried to do it just for myself, writing resurrected the dream of publication and the disappointment was so hard to deal with.

How about on the subject of writing fantasy specifically?

I'd tell myself to keep writing fantasy, despite anyone's well-meaning advice to the contrary. I've always written fantasy and horror, but what was once quite acceptable in my childhood and teens became...less acceptable as I reached adulthood.

I was gently--and repeatedly--advised to get more serious, more mainstream. It didn't help being Canadian, with our strong tradition of literary fiction. I was in my twenties before I could name a Canadian genre writer. There are plenty out there, but in the media and school system, all we see is Canadian literary fiction. As a child, I had the misguided notion that to write genre horror or fantasy, I'd need to move to the U. S.!

What do you do when you're not writing?

You mean there's supposed to be time when I'm not writing? Some days, I have to remind myself of that. I'm in the very happy position of having turned my favorite hobby into a career, so I've had to expand my list of recreational activities. Reading, of course--I've been an avid reader all my life. Cooking and baking--my kids appreciate the baking more than the cooking. Movies--I spent my teen and college years working in a movie theater because it meant unlimited double passes. Computers--I'm a former programmer so, yes, I'm a computer geek, meaning I like to do my own website, design my book trailers, etc.

How do you balance your life as a writer with the responsibilities (speaking, promotion, etc.) of being an author?

I think the biggest surprise that came with being published was discovering that I can't just spend my days writing and editing. At one point, the "business" side of writing was taking more time than the creative side, and that was very frustrating. The best advice I got was from my accountant. He suggested that I hire someone to do the parts that didn't need my personal touch. It took a couple of years for me to take that advice.

Having an assistant seemed almost...pretentious, like something only really big-name writers did. I ended up hiring my sister when she was pregnant with her second child and looking for administrative work to do from home. That was the best move I've made. Now I can stick to the parts I really enjoy: writing, editing, the website, speaking engagements, answering reader email etc. Without her, I wouldn't have been able to consider doing a young adult trilogy in addition to my main series.

What can your fans look forward to next?

The sequel to The Summoning comes out in April '09. It was scheduled for summer, but I've finished it, so it was bumped to spring. It's called The Awakening. It's hard to say much about it without giving away spoilers for The Summoning, only that it'll answer (most of) those pesky unresolved questions and will add a few new and (hopefully) unexpected twists to Chloe's story.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Interview: Cynthia Leitich Smith of "Tantalize;" Audio Review

Interview: Cynthia Leitich Smith of "Tantalize" from the Columbia County Rural Library District of Dayton, Washington.

Peek: "I've been a writer since third grade or so. Maybe even first. First. I remember… I wrote a story about crawdad fishing, and it was read over the elementary school sound system. That was my first 'audio publication.'"

Audio Review

Tantalize is available on audio (2008), read by Kim Mai Guest, from Listening Library. In a review of the production, the Horn Book Magazine calls the story, "...a gothic elixir, a dark romantic thriller that is equal parts Bon Appetit and Dracula." Listen to a clip.

Spooky News & Giveaways

Enter to win one of two two autographed copies of Night Road by A. M. Jenkins (HarperCollins, 2008)! Read a Cynsations interview with A. M. Jenkins.

To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 18!

OR, if you're on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network
by 10 p.m. CST Aug. 18! But DON'T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I'll contact you for it if you win.

One copy will go to a teacher, librarian, or university professor of youth literature (please indicate), and the other will go to any Cynsational reader. Please also type "Night Road" in the subject line.


The winner of Monsterology: The Complete Book of Monstrous Creatures by Dr. Ernest Drake, illustrated by Douglas Carrell, Nicholas Lenn, and Helen Ward, edited by Dugald A. Steer (Candlewick, 2008)(inside spread) is Cheryl in Florida.

As for her favorite monster, Cheryl writes: "I'll choose the chupacabra as I live in South Florida and have neighbors who swear they've seen one! Plus, it's not a commonly known monster."

The winners of Gone by Michael Grant (HarperCollins, 2008) were Elizabeth in Georgia, who blogged it, and Cyn (not me, obviously) in Pennsylvania!

This Weekend

"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 speaking Saturday night on the vampire panel, and Sunday morning on the YA panel. Hope to see y'all there!

"Five Things To Consider When Plotting a Novel" with Helen Hemphill from Austin SCBWI on Aug. 16 at Barnes and Noble Westlake.

Helen is the author of the middle grade novel Runaround (2007) and the young adult novel Long Gone Daddy (2006), both published by Front Street. Her new novel, The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones (Front Street, 2008), will be published this fall. Helen holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College.

More News & Links

Heather Brewer has shared the new cover art to Tenth Grade Bleeds (Dutton, 2009). Note: Loving it, and, FYI, Heather is a gracious, reader-friendly author. You know, in an appropriately spooky and fang-y kind of way. The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series also has great dual-gender appeal.

Corpus Libris: An Ongoing Photo Essay on Books and the Bodies that love them... Peek: "...began as a fun little photo essay on a Thursday night while working at Skylight Books in Los Angeles." Note: Outstanding! Please do submit photos! Source: Cecil Castellucci.

"kidlit 08" shop!: a CafePress shop with apparel and mugs from Laini Taylor at Grow Wings. Note: all proceeds go to support the 2008 Kidlitosphere Conference in Portland on Sept. 27." Note: upbeat and fashionable! Brava!

Mirrorstone Changes Submissions Guidelines from Stacy Whitman's Grimoire. Peek: "the Discoveries imprint will cease publishing at the end of the year, and Mirrorstone will now focus solely on books inspired by the lore of Dungeons and Dragons, such as the Dragon Codex books and The New York Times best-selling Practical Guide series."

In Case You Guys Think I Don't Like Vampires from Holly Black. Peek: "I am in the process of making Cassie a belated birthday Vampire Hunting Kit." Read a Cynsations interview with Holly.

Interview with David Macinnis Gill by Julie M. Prince from Young Adult Books Central. Peek: "The role of Bug will take an actress with the chops to pull off outer toughness, inner marshmallow, and athletic prowess, all with comedic timing."

Coming Soon

The first annual Hill Country Book Festival will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Georgetown Public Library (Georgetown, Texas).

The children's activities will include author and illustrator visits; live music; face painting; crafts (puppets and collages). Free popcorn and snow cones will be available, as will hot dogs for $1.

Participating authors/illustrators include Liz Garton Scanlon, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, Don Tate, P. J. Hoover, and Deborah Frontiera. The Biscuit Brothers also will be performing! See schedule.

April Lurie will celebrate the release of her latest book, The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine (Delacorte, 2008), with a book signing from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 30 at the Barnes & Noble in Round Rock!

Attention Authors & Bloggers

Do you write YA Gothic fantasy, suspense horror, paranormal romance or otherwise spooky stories? If so, feel free to send me (CYALR PO Box 3255 Austin TX 78764) bookmarks, buttons, or other fun promotional items. I typically spend the last several moments of presentations to teens highlighting related books of interest, and I can use such materials to support that effort. Note: I'm featuring Mary E. Pearson's cover art as a reminder to check out The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Henry Holt, 2008). Read a Cynsations interview with Mary.

Do you sponsor giveaways? I am happy to help promote them, whenever possible. You are welcome to email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with the name of the giveaway, the book (or other item--must be youth-lit related), the deadline, and the URL for more information. I'll do my best to feature it--keeping in mind that I have some editorial discretion, am sometimes sincerely swamped, and every once in a blue moon, take a day off. Note that the news round-up usually runs on Fridays, so please check your calendar and contact me with the info before the deadline expires. Thanks!

More Personally

Thanks to deenaml at LJ for listing Cynsations among her favorite blogs!

Happy birthday to my very cute husband and (sometimes) co-author Greg Leitich Smith! Greg is turning 41.

You can wish him a happy birthday via email or at his blog.

Floral cake from 1800flowers.com; photo used with permission.

A friend of Cyn? Keep in touch with me at Blogger, LiveJournal, MySpace, JacketFlap, and most recently, Facebook!