Friday, November 28, 2008

Spooky News & Demigods and Monsters Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Demigods and Monsters: Your Favorite Authors on Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, edited by Rick Riordan with Leah Wilson (BenBella, 2008)(PDF excerpt)! Read a Cynsations interview with Rick. 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 Dec. 2! OR, if you're on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 2! But DON'T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I'll contact you for it if you win. Please also type "Demigods and Monsters" in the subject line.

More News

The Writer's Studio...with Lisa Yee from The Friday Book Report: Tony Abbott's Blog. Peek: "There are, wait, let me count—one, two, three, four—there are four mugs stocked with pens. (I never use pencils.)"

Writing for Teens and Middle Grades with YA Author Gaby Triana from Jan. 5 to– March 2. "Intense, weekly writing with direct feedback from the author of teen novels, Backstage Pass, Cubanita, The Temptress Four, and Riding the Universe (HarperCollins)[see book information]. Focus on creativity, fresh expression (voice), characterization, and publishing basics in the book market. Each week, you will complete a writing assignment to be critiqued and returned to you for review and revision with thorough, personalized comments and line-editing. By the end of the course, you will have revised your strongest piece which will be evaluated based on readiness for submission to publishers. This is not a beginner’s English course. This is a hands-on workshop for anyone serious about developing already good writing skills, so a basic handle on grammar and spelling is strongly recommended! 8-week course - $375. Ages 15 and up. No refunds. For more information and/or registration form, contact Gaby.

Professional Writers: Traits and Practices from Michael Sampson and Cynthia Leung. "A survey about how writers practice their craft." "Throughout the U.S. writing is being “taught” in ways that violate the process of how many of us write, or so we think. This research will document what writers do as they create their stories. Perhaps our findings can influence how the craft of writing is taught? Please share with us in the hope that this will happen. You may choose to keep your responses confidential, if you wish."

My Role as a YA Author by Varian Johnson from Crowe's Nest. Peek: "...the anonymous poster calls on authors to 'use their gift to steer some attitudes in the right direction.' But in the case of abortion, what is the right direction? As an author, is it my right to dictate what someone should or shouldn't feel on the matter, especially on an issue that continues to divide our country?" See also Falling Leaves Retreat Editors Respond by Nancy Castaldo, who asks the following editors to illuminate their paths to their careers: Caroline Abbey (Bloomsbury); Elizabeth Law (Egmont); Alexandra Penfold (Paula Wiseman); Sarah Shumway (Harper); and Jennifer Yoon (Candlewick).

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has temporarily halted acquisitions, according to Publishers Weekly. However, Tracy Marchini of Curtis Brown reports: "I've heard from a trusted source that the HMH halt on acquisitions applies only to adult titles at this point."

EarlyWord: The Publisher | Librarian Connection from Nora Rawlinson, co-founder and editor and Fred Ciporen, co-founder and publisher. Source: Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys.

Making Diamonds by Jan Fields from the Institute of Children's Literature. Peek: "Sometimes people want to know, do I always have to have a big conflict in my story? What if they're no real problem? Does every story have to be formulaic?"

More Personally


Check out my lovely thank you gift from Brazos Valley (Texas) SCBWI. See Research To Write by Samantha Clark at Day by Day Writer a report on the Brazos Valley (Texas) SCBWI conference on Nov. 15, which includes some of my thoughts on setting. See also parts one and three of her report on the conference. Note: part three offers insights into author Kathi Appelt and agent Emily van Beek's relationship and the writing of The Underneath (Atheneum). Read Cynsations interviews with Kathi and Emily.


Last Thursday, Greg and I packed up again (sorry, Mercury!) to go to San Antonio for the Express-News Children's Book and Author Celebration and the NCTE/ALAN conference. (I can't begin to list all of the amazing folks we saw, so I'll just do my best to highlight a few).


According to the Express-News, the "fifth annual literary event features children's book authors and illustrators talking about their careers and latest books. Speakers included: M. T. Anderson (above); Kathi Appelt (above); Pam Muñoz Ryan; Cynthia Leitich Smith; Carmen Tafolla, and artists C. S. Jennings and Terry Ybañez." The event benefited the San Antonio Library Foundation's Born to Read initiative. Special thanks to Steve Bennett of the Express-News, to Deb and Robert Ferguson for the lovely reception, and to my author escort, Nancy Strehlow!

(Kathi, thank you again for my faerie wand! Tobin, I hope your cold is better!).


Greg and I stayed Friday night at the historic Fairmount (pictured) and Saturday through Monday night at The Westin, both of which are located on the River Walk. The most awesome thing about the Fairmount is that it has a hotel dog concierge, who greeted us at the door!''


On Saturday, Candlewick hosted a YA Fiesta with Marc Aronson, Patty Campbell, Rita Williams-Garcia, P. J. Haarsma, and Tobin Anderson at Charles Court! I had the privilege of sitting with CP editors Sarah Ketchersid and Hilary Van Dusen as well as Jim Blasingame of Arizona State (above), Peter Goggin, also of Arizona State, Marge Ford (AKA marvelous moderator) of Youngstown State, and Angela Beumer Johnson of Wright State.


At ALAN, I spoke with Melissa Marr and Rick Riordan on urban fantasy (again, moderated by Marge), and Greg spoke with Cory Doctorow and David Yoo on boys reading (moderated by Bonnie Kunzel, pictured above). Both panels went really well! It was my first time to meet Melissa, whose work I adore. Both she and Rick were gracious and inspiring.


Here's Greg (above) with Elaine Scott (author interview).


Say hello to John Green (author interview)(above).


David Levithan (author interview) and Coe Booth (above).


Walter "The Giant" Mayes (author interview)(above).


Neal Shusterman (above).


Barry Lyga (author interview)(above).


"New Voices in Young Adult Literature" Donna Freitas, Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, and Suzanne Crowley (author interview)(above).


Vermont College of Fine Arts alumni were at the heart of the action. Here's Debbie Gonzales with Greg (above).


Cindy Faughnan and Vanessa Ziff (above).


Helen Hemphill (author interview)(above). Check out "Considering Gender...," Helen's latest article at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "...here's a list of things to consider before you being writing across gender..." See also Two Writers Writing Across Gender with Varian Johnson and April Lurie.


Speaking of VCFA, here's a mid-report photo celebration of my faculty colleague, Rita Williams-Garcia (author interview) and friends.

First, we have Rita with Marc Aronson (author interview) and Patty Campbell (above). The trio spoke on a panel about Marc and Patty's new book, War is...: Soldiers, Survivors, and Storytellers Talk About War (Candlewick, 2008). Rita is a contributor. Favorite moment: Rita referring to herself as the "love child" of "Mother Peace" AKA Patty and "Father War" AKA Marc.


Next up we have Rita with author Tanya Lee Stone (author interview)(above). Tanya spoke on a breakout panel on Positive Depictions of Sex in Young Adult Literature with David Levithan (author interview), Laura Ruby (author interview), and Lara M. Zeises (author interview).


And finally, here's Rita on the River Walk (above). Note: I hadn't seen Rita in person for a whole year--can you tell I missed her?

Greg's editor, Alvina Ling of Little, Brown (above). (Thanks for the amazing brunch at La Mansión del Rio, Alvina!).


Highlights of the ALAN conference included Laurie Halse Anderson's speech. See Speak Up About Speak!

Don't miss NCTE/ALAN photo reports from authors Laurie Halse Anderson, Mary E. Pearson, and Greg (who details more of our goings-on). See also photo reports from Franki and Mary Lee at A Year of Reading.

Huge thanks to: Candlewick Press and Little, Brown; David Gill, Marge Ford, and the ALAN officers, board and conference planners; and everyone who took part in a great event! Thanks also to everyone who stopped by my signing at the Candlewick booth--I'm honored!

Reminders

rgz Blog-O-Hunt for Native American Heritage Month: a reminder from HipWriterMama. Deadline Nov. 30. Peek: "The first 25 correct entries will win rgz buttons and bookmarks!"

Fifth Annual Novel Writing Retreat at Vermont College of Fine Arts will be March 27 to March 29, 2009. Featuring: author Kathi Appelt; author Elise Broach; and editor Cheryl Klein of Scholastic. Includes: lectures; organized workshops; writing exercises; one-on-one critiques with one of the guest authors; one-on-one critique with guest editor (extra fee); open mike; discussions; room and board. Cost: $450. Registration begins Dec. 1. For more information, contact Sarah Aronson.

Take a Chance on Art: purchase one or more $5 raffle tickets to enter to win illustrator Don Tate's painting "Duke Ellington," and support the Texas Library Association Disaster Relief Fund. Note: it's especially important this year in light of devastation caused by Hurricane Ike. To learn more, read interviews with TLA librarian Jeanette Larson and illustrator Don Tate.

Hurricane Ike Recovery Fund for Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas. Peek: "The Children's Department, Technical Services, Circulation Department and Operations were located on the first Floor and all are gone. [emphasis added]" See more information. Note: Please consider yourself encouraged to pass on this blurb and link. The media has moved on to other stories, but efforts to deal with the aftermath are ongoing.

Hurricane Ike Library Relief: "Following the destructive visit of Hurricane Ike, Blue Willow Bookshop [in Houston] is initiating a nationwide campaign to rebuild the library collections of Anahuac High School, Freeport Intermediate School and, closer to home, the Alief Hastings 9th Grade Center. These schools lost more than 75% of their collections. Our goal is to have 1,000 books to deliver to these libraries by Dec. 1."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Spooky News & Giveaways

Enter to win a copy of Demigods and Monsters: Your Favorite Authors on Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, edited by Rick Riordan with Leah Wilson (BenBella, 2008)(PDF excerpt)! Read a Cynsations interview with Rick. From the promotional copy:

How are the Greek gods like your middle school principal?

Would you want to be one of Artemis's Hunters?

Why do so many monsters go into retail—and why are they never selling anything a demigod really wants?

At the beginning of The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson tells us to stop reading: if we suspect we, too, might be demigods, we should put the book down right away. But how can we, when the world he lives in is so much fun?

Spend a little more time in that world—a place where the gods bike among us, monsters man snack bars, and each of us has the potential to become a hero.


Contributors: Kathi Appelt; Rosemary Clement-Moore; Paul Collins; Cameron Dokey; Sarah Beth Durst; Jenny Han; Carolyn MacCullough; Sophie Masson; Elizabeth M. Rees; Nigel Rodgers; Ellen Steiber; and Elizabeth Wein.

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 Dec. 2!

OR, if you're on MySpace or Facebook, you can message me on that network by 10 p.m. CST Dec. 2! But DON'T send in your contact information on MySpace or Facebook. I'll contact you for it if you win. Please also type "Demigods and Monsters" in the subject line.

WBBT Interview: Tony DiTerlizzi by Miss Erin. Peek: "I feel that working in the fashion that was used in creating the Spiderwick books allows the collaborators to use all of their tricks, talents and point of view to create the best book possible. And doing so creates a final story that neither Holly nor I would create on our own--it truly is a hybrid."

Congratulations to the YA authors who made the latest Texas Library Association's Tayshas list! Highlights include: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (HarperCollins)(author interview); Shift by Jennifer Bradbury (Atheneum, 2008)(author interview); City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (McElderry, 2007)(author interview); Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey (Atheneum, 2008)(author interview); Bliss by Lauren Myracle (Abrams)(author interview); Breathe My Name by R. A. Nelson; The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick)(author interview); The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Holt)(author interview); Impossible by Nancy Werlin (Dial)(author interview).

Congratulations to the authors whose books made the Texas Library Association's Lonestar List. Highlights included: The Compound by S. A. Bodeen (Feiwel and Friends, 2008)(author interview); The Found (The Missing, Book One) by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Simon & Schuster, 2008)(author interview); The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Holt, 2008)(author interview); the dead and the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Harcourt, 2008)(author interview); Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster, 2008).

Cover Art Interview with Saundra Mitchell on Shadowed Summer from Book Nymph. Peek: "I used to think I wanted a more classic typeface like Trajan for my cover, but I have grown to love the typeface they used for my title. It's called Cult, and it's so distinctive."

Our Secret Society by Margo Rabb from Books, Chocolates, and Sundries. Peek: "Our (not-so-secret-anymore) Delacorte Dames & Dude Society is featured in Publisher's Weekly! Here are a few outtakes from our photo session." Note: very cute author group pics! Read Cynsations interviews with Shana Burg, Varian Johnson, April Lurie, Margo Rabb, and Jennifer Ziegler.

Cover Stories: Dead Girl Walking by Linda Joy Singleton from Melissa Walker. Peek: "Flux/Llewellyn often asks the author for cover suggestions. Then they let the art department and whoever is at their top secret meetings make the decisions (okay, the meetings probably aren't top secret, but as as author who would love to know what really goes on, they always sound mysterious to me)." Read a Cynsations interview with Linda Joy.

Project WISE 2009 - Call for Authors: The Writers' League of Texas seeks authors who want to participate in the 2009 season of Project WISE (Writers In Schools for Enrichment), a program designed to put children's authors in Austin-area public schools at no cost to the school. This program is funded by the Writers' League of Texas and by the City of Austin. Authors are paid an honorarium of $300 for each three-hour visit to a school. Application deadline: Dec. 2. Note: You must be a current WLT member to be considered. See more information.

Isinglass Teen Read List hosted at the Barrington (NH) Public Library. Note: click relevant link on Teen Zone page. Highlights of the 2008-2009 list include Beastly by Alex Flinn (HarperCollins, 2006)(author interview); Warrior Heir by Cinda Chima Williams (Hyperion, 2006)(author interview).

Congratulations to Jessica Leader on the sale of Nice and Mean to Kate Angelella at Simon Mix!

Congratulations to Meredith Davis on being accepted to the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults! Meredith is the founder of Austin SCBWI.

What Color is Your Revision?
from R. L. LaFevers. Peek: "I've discovered a enormously helpful new revision tool." Note: I'm going to try this for Blessed Candlewick, TBA)!

Interview with Elizabeth Scott from Becky's Book Reviews. Peek: "...the heart of Living Dead Girl is all about the moments where we see something--someone--that gives us pause, those moments where we know something is wrong...and turn away. That was, and is, the hardest thing to think about."

More Personally


Just for fun, here's one more pic of the Austin SCBWI Holiday Party at BookPeople--illustrator Erik Kuntz, Zack Proton author Brian Anderson, illustrator C. G. "Clint" Young, and YA author Thomas Pendleton AKA Dallas Reed (yes, he's a man of mystery).

Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) has received a couple of lovely online mentions of late!

In The Next Dead Thing by Donna Freitas from Publishers Weekly, Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston says "She's having success with Melissa Marr's novels, the Blue Bloods series from Melissa de la Cruz, as well as Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Beastly by Alex Finn." Source: Michelle Meadows.

In a recent interview with Tami Lewis Brown at Through the Tollbooth, agent Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary listed Tantalize among her favorite horror novels and said, "Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith is brilliant in mixing horror with food. A winning combination that somehow really works. The final scene, between Quincie and Kieren, is... Well, you'll just have to read it!" Read the whole interview.

readergirlz and ALA YALSA also partner each year on Operation Teen Book Drop, which asks publishers to donate 500 copies of a title to affiliated hospitals to be distributed among their young adult intensive care and oncology patients. I was thrilled to learn that Candlewick has committed to donating Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008)! More on that later!

Please come see me at NCTE/ALAN! Details below!

On a dare, Lauren Myracle faces her fear of doing the 'Thriller' dance in public..."



Events

NCTE and Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (ALAN) Workshop in San Antonio Nov. 24 to Nov. 25. An event I utterly adore for the depth of discussions, sophistication and dedication of the attendees-leadership, and wonderful company of fellow YA authors. Note: NCTE stands for "National Council of Teachers of English," which has a preceding conference. Please stop by the Candlewick booth at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, where I'll be signing ARCs of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), and look for me at the ALAN Panel - "Gods, Foods, and Tatoos: The Mixed Mythos of Fantasy" on Monday at 2 p.m. ish at the Marriot Rivercenter (Salon E, Third Floor Room). I'll be speaking with Melissa Marr (author interview) and Rick Riordan (author interview).

More Reminders

Take a Chance on Art: purchase one or more $5 raffle tickets to enter to win illustrator Don Tate's painting "Duke Ellington," and support the Texas Library Association Disaster Relief Fund. Note: it's especially important this year in light of devastation caused by Hurricane Ike. To learn more, read interviews with TLA librarian Jeanette Larson and illustrator Don Tate.

Hurricane Ike Recovery Fund for Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas. Peek: "The Children's Department, Technical Services, Circulation Department and Operations were located on the first Floor and all are gone. [emphasis added]" See more information. Note: Please consider yourself encouraged to pass on this blurb and link. The media has moved on to other stories, but efforts to deal with the aftermath are ongoing.

Hurricane Ike Library Relief: "Following the destructive visit of Hurricane Ike, Blue Willow Bookshop [in Houston] is initiating a nationwide campaign to rebuild the library collections of Anahuac High School, Freeport Intermediate School and, closer to home, the Alief Hastings 9th Grade Center. These schools lost more than 75% of their collections. Our goal is to have 1,000 books to deliver to these libraries by Dec. 1."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Author Interview: Linda Joy Singleton on Dead Girl Walking

We last spoke in April 2007 about The Seer series (Llewellyn, 2004-). Could you update us on news of your writing life since that time?

Well, at that time I was getting a little nervous about what would sell next since I'd finished the fifth The Seer. I happened to mention my Dead Girl Walking book in an email to my editor, and he suggested I turn it into a series.

So a three-book Dead Girl series (Llewellyn/Flux, 2008-) was contracted in summer 2007. Since then I've been writing the books. As I'm typing today, in another window are revisions for number two, Dead Girl Dancing, and when these are done, I'll return to writing the third book, Dead Girl in Love.

I've been very lucky to find such a supportive publisher as Flux.

Congratulations on the publication of Dead Girl Walking (Flux, Sept. 2008)! Could you fill us in on the story?

In 1988, I came up with the idea of a girl having an out-of-body experience then returning to the wrong body. I subbed this around for a few years, then put it aside.

I brought it back a few times only nothing clicked until last summer when my previous editor at Flux, Andrew Karre [now at Carolrhoda], pointed out my heroine was too whiny and, if I'd rewrite her plus add more paranormal danger to the plot, he'd offer a three-book contract. I am forever grateful for his insight and delighted with the finished book.

What was your initial inspiration for writing this book?

I was curious what it would be like to live someone else's life. Also I've always had a fascination with otherworldly topics like astral projection, psychics, and near-death experiences.

When I came up with idea 20 years ago, I loved it but didn't realize it would take some years to hone my craft to do justice to the idea.

If you want to see an example of early writing compared to more seasoned writing, I posted the original first page in comparison to the published first page over at my LJ.

The first plan was for Dead Girl to be a middle-grade book with a light tone about a girl who falls to her near-death while trying to rescue a cat from a tall pole. Her real body would have died, and she would have had to deal with making a completely new life. When I ultimately sold it as a series, the ending drastically changed.

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

Rewrite more before submitting (I was always so impatient and subbed too soon). Also to learn more about craft. And to write the books I truly want to write rather than leaning toward those I thought would be easier to sell. But I really can't regret any of the packaged or ghost-written books I wrote as they were all learning experiences and I truly loved every book.

What special advice would you offer to those interested in writing a series?

Write one really strong first book that could stand alone. Dead Girl Walking was meant to be a single title, but I was flexible with my editor's suggestions and happy to stretch Amber's body-changing adventures into a trilogy.

Other than your own, what your three favorite YA titles of 2008?

Good question! I love to read juvenile books and get excited when I discover exciting new titles.

1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, 2008);
2. Little (Grrl) Lost by Charles DeLint (Viking, 2007);
3. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor, 2008).

Impossible by Nancy Werlin (Dial) was amazing, too. So was Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater (Flux)(author interview). Obviously there were other amazing books in 2008, these are just the ones I've found time and copies to read.

What can your fans look forward to next?

Dead Girl Dancing (Flux, March 2009), Dead Girl in Love (late 2009), and Into the Mirror (Blooming Tree, Oct. 2009), a middle-grade mystery.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

National Book Awards on Twitter

This is pure torture. I love suspense in fiction but not so much in real life.

Update: After much reloading, we have a winner! See Cynsations on Friday for details. That said, it was great to find an online award announcement venue that didn't crash. Go Twitter!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Spooky News

Check out this trailer for Margaret Peterson Haddix's new middle grade series, The Missing (Simon & Shuster (author interview):



Fifth Annual Novel Writing Retreat at Vermont College of Fine Arts will be March 27 to March 29, 2009. Featuring: author Kathi Appelt; author Elise Broach; and editor Cheryl Klein of Scholastic. Includes: lectures; organized workshops; writing exercises; one-on-one critiques with one of the guest authors; one-on-one critique with guest editor (extra fee); open mike; discussions; room and board. Cost: $450. Registration begins Dec. 1. For more information, contact Sarah Aronson.

Graphic Tales from Colleen Mondor at Bookslut. Peek: "It's a dark slightly subversive delight that never ceased to amaze me. Mostly it's just very, very cool and I do hope that it doesn’t get overlooked in the masses of YA fiction for teen girls."

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Brian Lies at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: "I show drawings from books I’m working on and talk about the seemingly endless revisions I do in both words and pictures, but also show one of my second-grade drawings, to prove that it's more a question of hard work and time commitment than it is about being born talented."

And My Skin is Getting Thicker by Allison Winn Scotch from Ask Allison. Peek: "Here's the thing. I can't defend myself. I can't write this reviewer a letter and say, 'Hey, I'm sorry about that. It wasn't carelessness, it was something I truly wasn't aware of. Oh, and by the way, if you're going to critique me for a mistake, can you get the details of the book right in your review too?'"

Here's a book trailer for the much-buzzed YA, Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Harcourt, 2008)(Source: Sarah Miller):



Blurbs I: Getting from Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted at Red Room. Peek: "A blurb is not the back-jacket description of a book; it's not the inside-flap description of a book. It is a quote from an established author, the purpose of which is to help promote the book at hand." Note: mileage varies, but I expect blurb requests to come from editors or agents, not authors.

Strange Machines: Website of Authors: "Dallas Reed and Thomas Pendleton (They're the same guy... Shhh, don't tell anyone!):" official site of a new Austin-based YA author. Check out his LJ and MySpace page. Read a Cynsations interview with Thomas. Note: SLJ says of his latest, "Horror fans will be thrilled by Mason's story."

Contract Limbo! Next Stop, the Lake of Fire from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: "An unagented author should be a wee bit more pointed (but still pleasant and professional--try to express polite concern rather than escalating frustration and panic. Frustration and panic are common qualities in authors (and yes, I know sometimes it's the editor's own fault), but they're unattractive qualities)." See also: The Personal 'No-Comment': In Which We Need Some Better Terms for Rejections. Note: don't miss the comments.

How Much Money Does a Writer Make from Laurie Purdie Salas. Peek: "...most children's writers I know who actually make a living off of writing do it by cobbling together an income from many different sources."

Texas Book Festival Photos
from Margo Rabb. A first-rate photo report on the event!

Who's on Your Team? by Allison Winn Scotch from Ask Allison. Peek: "...in many ways, I really believe that your success as a writer is largely due to whom you choose to surround yourself with."

Agent Jennifer Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary Agency from Kidlit Central News. Peek: "At ABLA, we're hearing encouraging news from publishers about the state of the industry, and I recently read that juvenile sales are up. However, in terms of selling manuscripts, we are seeing the economy affect advances, and we're seeing more hesitation on the part of editors to take books that are not in stellar shape to acquisitions."

Another Austin Treasure: Children's Book Authors by Lindsey Lane from Good Life Magazine (PDF). Peek: "Austin hosts one of the most vibrant children's book writing communities in the country..." See also Alison Dellenbaugh's additions to the recommendations. Read a Cynsations interview with Lindsey, and learn more about Texas Children's and YA Authors and Illustrators.

read this b4 u publish :) by Max Leone from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "I am of that population segment that is constantly derided as 'not reading anymore,' and is therefore treated by publishing companies as a vast, mysterious demographic that's seemingly impossible to please. Kind of like the way teenage boys think of girls. The reason we read so little in our free time is partially because of the literary choices available to teenagers these days." Note: emphasis here seems to be more on tween than upper YA, and the bottom line here seems to be to "stop parenting and write something fun."

An Interview with Candlewick Editor Jen Yoon by Brian Yansky from Crowe's Nest. Peek: "The one quality that draws me into a manuscript is voice. That trumps everything else for me."

Meet Kimberly Pauley from Through the Looking Glass Book Review. Peek: "I definitely didn't write it to be a 'message book' but I wanted some good messages to be in there, if you want to find them. There are a few, to me…like being true to yourself and not doing things just because people expect you to…standing up for yourself and your friends and for what you feel is important…that things are better when you communicate…that family and friends matter…and that girls can be strong individuals with minds of their own." Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberly.

Michelle Moran on How to Promote Your Book from Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent. Peek: "Like galley covers, not all galley print-runs are equal. A lead title might have anywhere from a thousand to ten thousand galleys printed up for every type of reviewer imaginable, while most other novels will have between a hundred and two hundred." Don't miss part two.

More Personally

Thank you to Julie Moody at KUT 90.5 FM for interviewing P. J. Hoover and me about the Austin SCBWI holiday party! Thank you to the whole youth books crew at BookPeople for their hospitality and to RA Tim Crow and his volunteers for all of their hard work! And an extra special thanks to all the members of the community--especially teachers and librarians--who turned out for the celebration! Look for pictures next week!

Candlewick Press has updated its site to include new author bios! Here's mine.

Seeking Spooky Author Blogs: my spookycyn blog has been getting spiffed up for the release of Eternal (Candlewick, Feb. 2009). I've broken some windows and added some cobwebs, and along the way, I've also added a blogroll featuring YA authors who write spooky cool fic of any stripe. Please surf over to confirm that your own blog and/or that of your favorite scary writer is listed. If not, just email me (scroll and click on the envelope) with the author name and blog URL. Thanks!

Due to extraordinary busy-ness, Cynsations will not post tomorrow; however, I'll be back online Monday. Don't miss my NCTE/ALAN conference schedule below!

Events

Acclaimed author and National Book Award recipient, M. T. Anderson will be at BookPeople in Austin, Texas; at 7 p.m. Nov. 21. He discuss his books, sign copies of his work, and answer questions from the audience. There is limited space for this event. If you would like to attend, you must RSVP to rsvp@bookpeople.com to reserve a spot. Reminder: Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld will be appearing at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at BookPeople!

NCTE and Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (ALAN) Workshop in San Antonio Nov. 24 to Nov. 25. An event I utterly adore for the depth of discussions, sophistication and dedication of the attendees-leadership, and wonderful company of fellow YA authors. Note: NCTE stands for "National Council of Teachers of English," which has a preceding conference. Please stop by the Candlewick booth at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, where I'll be signing ARCs of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), and look for me at the ALAN Panel - "Gods, Foods, and Tatoos: The Mixed Mythos of Fantasy" on Monday at 2 p.m. ish at the Marriot Rivercenter (Salon E, Third Floor Room). I'll be speaking with Melissa Marr (author interview) and Rick Riordan (author interview).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Author Interview: Drew Hayden Taylor on The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel

Biography of author Drew Hayden Taylor.

What first inspired you to write for teens? For adults?

Well, I started in theatre. In fact, my very first play was a play for young audiences called "Toronto at Dreamer's Rock."

The play was very popular, and it was remounted several times.

I won the Floyd S. Chalmers Award for outstanding new play for young audiences, which consisted of a plaque and a cheque for $10,000, which I almost lost in a bar that night. It's a much longer story.

I hadn't intended to write a teen play specifically, but the director told me it was perfect for them, and who was I to argue. I did several more plays over the years, aimed at young audiences and adult, too.

Then I was approached by the publishing company Annick Press, one of Canada's leading publishers of YA, asking if I'd be interested in writing a book for teens.

Most of my novelist friends lament the fact that they write one or three novels and shop it around hoping to find a publisher. I kind of did it backwards. They offered me money up front, and I wrote it. I kind of prefer it that way. It's easier

The Night Wanderer originally started out as a YA play titled, "A Contemporary Gothic Indian Vampire Story." It had been produced once in the '90's but I wasn't happy with the script. So I put it on the shelf and when I was presented with this opportunity, I blew the dust off it and reread it. Perhaps it was too big for a play. It needed the universe of a novel. So I adapted it.

Nothing in particular "inspired" me to write for teens or adults. It's the story that suggests the audience. I just write them.

Could you tell us about your path to publication--any sprints or stumbles along the way?

Again, things happened unusually for me. When my first play came out and was so successful, a publisher, Fifth House, called me up and asked if I'd like them to publish my play.

My first three books/plays were with them. Since then, I have had seventeen other books published by four other publishers. Different publishers prefer different genres, and I write in about half a dozen genres.

Congratulations on the success of The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel (Annick, 2007)! Could you tell us a little about the book?

Basically, because I am bi-cultural (have Native, half white), I like combining or exploring examples of each cultures.

So for this book, I took a European legend and indigenized it.

Simply put, its the story about an Ojibway man who, 350 years ago, made his way to Europe and was bitten by a vampire. He spent all those years wandering Europe, feeling homesick but unwilling to return as the monster he'd become. But finally, unable to stop himself, he makes his way back to where his village once was in Canada, and it's now a First Nations community. He takes up residency at a bed-and-breakfast, in the basement apartment. In that same house is a sixteen-year-old girl, Tiffany, who is having problems with her white boyfriend, father, and herself. Eventually, both their lives intertwine, and things happen!

What was your initial inspiration for the story?

A sense of fun. And I wanted to explore two different perspectives of death: one from a teenage girl who is contemplating suicide and one from somebody who has been "dead" for several hundred years. What better way to do it!

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

About 15 years! As I said, it was a play originally that I wasn't happy with. So I forgot about it until about three years ago when I was approached by Annick Press.

I wrote the first draft in about six weeks, deciding what to keep and throw out in the original play, and after two rewrites, it was published about a year later.

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

Research. I had to research life 350 years ago. And I hate research. That's why most of my plays and stories are contemporary. And the research got kind of weird.

I remember talking with my travel agent on how to get a vampire from Europe to Canada.

Also, upon request from the publisher, I changed the title from "A Contemporary Gothic Indian Vampire Story" to "The Night Wanderer." I wasn't happy about the change, but they thought it was important.

Also, when I signed the contract for the novel, I was committed to 50,000 words, and I had never written a prose piece longer then 4,000 words. It was quite daunting.

Every day when I would write, I would do a word count. It was like climbing a 50,000 foot mountain, 2,000 words at a time.

What, if anything, do you wish you could change about publishing (as a business) and why?

The length between delivering the final draft and seeing the actual book.

How have you grown as a writer over the course of your career?

I have become more comfortable with prose. I started out writing television scripts and plays, both of which are dialogue oriented. Coming from an oral culture, it was easy to tell a story through how people talked.

Having never been to university, I was always nervous about prose. But as the years went by and I wrote more and more, I became more comfortable with it. Now, I have sold my second novel and am about to start on a third.

If you could go back in time and talk to your beginning-writer self, what would you tell him?

I would tell myself not to be so frightened of rewriting. It's part of the process.

I always hated rewriting, and to a certain extent, I still do. I consider it a necessary evil.

What do you do outside the world of publishing?

Not a lot. Theatre and television. I travel the world lecturing on Native culture, identity, and literature. And chop wood.

What can your readers look forward to next?

My new novel [for grown-ups]. The working title is "Motorcycles and Sweetgrass." And possibly a television series in Canada that I am developing, currently titled "Ojibwayworld."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Spooky News

Behind the Pages of Shadowed Summer: RC & Moonpies from Saundra Mitchell. Note: I'm hooked on these teasers, already charmed by the Southern setting, and impressed with Saundra's marketing savvy and this fresh idea.

Digital Shadows 2: RC & Moonpies


Authors on the Verge: Meet Saundra Mitchell, young adult novelist from Writing for Children & Teens by Cynthia Liu. Peek: "I submitted it to the Delacorte Press prize, then miraculously got an agent while I was waiting to hear. I didn't win the prize (I didn't even place), so my agent and I revised. And revised. And revised, until my 75,000 word book had become a 45,000 word book."

There's a New Gang in Town: Austin's Delacorte Dames and Dudes by Edward Nawotka of Children's Bookshelf from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "DDD—no, it's not a heavy-duty new battery. It's the acronym for an informal group of Austin, Tex., writers all published by Delacorte Press." Note: actually, it's just the one dude, but color me a mega fan! Click the link if only to check out the super cute picture. Go Austin! Read Cynsations interviews with Shana Burg, Varian Johnson, April Lurie, Margo Rabb, and Jennifer Ziegler.

5 Minutes with [Debut Author] P. J. Hoover from Saundra Mitchell: Making Things Up for a Living. Peek: "People are still people, whether they're embalming the dead or designing chips." See also a Cynsations interview with P. J.

Attention Minions of Heather Brewer: she's now offering a new forum.

The Allure of Innocence from Musings of YA Author Dawn Metcalf. Peek: "...this underlines a yearning to explore a perhaps 'outdated' (or 'vintage' as it may be returning) notion of the more 'experienced' female MC and a more 'innocent' love-interest."

Congratulations to author Kimberly Griffiths Little on her three-book deal with Scholastic!
Author Interview: Richelle Mead from Liz Gallagher at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "I've actually found that as far as voice and intelligence, there's very little difference between teens and adults in my writing. I know some authors 'talk down' to their teen readers in YA, and after being a teacher, I found there's no need for that."
Enter to Win Book Giveaways from TeensReadToo.com.

Cover Stories: Skinned by Robin Wasserman from Melissa Walker. Peek: "I did send along a selection of cool cyborg images that I found online. I thought this might help them find a way to depict the fact that Lia (the main character) is both human and machine."

Thoughts on Process from A. M. Jenkins. Peek: "For me, every book has an ideal form, and my job as a writer is to strive toward that ideal, to feel out the possibilities with an open mind, and to figure out what the book needs and wants to be." Read a Cynsations interview with A. M.

Western Heights High School Book Club (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) seeks donations for fund-raising raffle. See more information.

Check out this book trailer for The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (Random House); see excerpt.



Tantalizing News

I'm honored to announce that Editions Intervista has bought the rights to Tantalize in France! I'll keep you posted on details as they arise. Note: I studied law abroad in Paris in 1991 and returned with my husband on vacation in 1999--amazing, fantastic, wonderful country!

Due to a technical difficulty, my discussion of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and related forthcoming books on the teen grid of Teen Second at Second Life has been rescheduled for for 3 p.m. Nov. 18. See more information.

More Personally

Thank you to readergirlz for hosting my Thursday night chat! readergirlz may now be found at: www.readergirlz.com; www.myspace.com/readergirlz;
http://groups.myspace.com/readergirlz; www.youtube/readergirlz; http://readergirlz.blogspot.com; and facebook.

And check out this Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith from writesalot's blog. Peek: "Don't want to be an author. Want to be a writer. Want to be a writer so much that when you finally become an author, your responsibilities as such—however enjoyable—vex you because they're getting in the way of your writing time. "

Word has zipped around the kidlit community to the point that I want to reassure everyone that my fractured right foot is much better. It's mostly able to bear weight, I can get it into my Teva sandals, and I have every intention of enjoying the San Antonio Riverwalk at NCTE/ALAN (though it may take me a little longer on the stairs). As a result of the need to elevate, though, I've been mostly off-line. Please forgive any email delays, and just say NO! to cute shoes.

On a more fun subject, everyone has their geekdoms. My forever one is this:



Source: Karen Mahoney.

My Events

The Austin chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators will be hosting its annual holiday party from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at BookPeople (6th and Lamar) in Austin. The event will include: panels on writing picture books, on writing middle grade novels, on writing YA novels; author signings; and door prizes! Highlights include a school-visit giveaway featuring debut author P. J. Hoover (interview) and Philip Yates dressed as a pirate!

"Connections and 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, editor Kim T. Griswell of Highlights, 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.

Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (ALAN) Workshop in San Antonio Nov. 24 to Nov. 25. An event I utterly adore for the depth of discussions, sophistication and dedication of the attendees-leadership, and wonderful company of fellow YA authors. Note: NCTE stands for "National Council of Teachers of English," which has a preceding conference. Details on my signing and speaking schedule to come.

A Celebration of Books for Children and Young Adults--Austin Style!

You Are Invited To
A Celebration of Books for Children and Young Adults--Austin Style!
Thursday, November 13, 2008

At BookPeople – 6th & Lamar
6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Readings * Panel Discussions * Door Prizes * Refreshments * Book Signing


Presented by: The Austin Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
Your #1 resource for published authors and illustrators of youth literature

&

BookPeople: "2005 Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year"

6:30 Social Time – Second Floor
Visit and enjoy refreshments.

7:00 A Holiday Reading - Amphitheater
Join us in the amphitheater as author Philip Yates (in full pirate costume) reads from his latest book, A Pirate's Night Before Christmas (Sterling, 2008).

7:15 Picture Book Panel Discussion – Amphitheater
Featuring: Greg Leitich Smith, Philip Yates, Don Tate, and Emma Virjan. Moderated by Brian Anderson.

Middle Grade/Young Adult Panel Discussion – Second Floor by the Stairs
Featuring: Lila Guzman, Shana Burg, P. J. Hoover, Helen Hemphill, and Jo Whittemore. Moderated by Tim Crow.

8:15 Young Adult Panel – Third Floor
Featuring: Jennifer Ziegler, Cynthia Leitich Smith, April Lurie, Brian Yansky, and Varian Johnson. Moderated by Julie Lake.

Authors and Illustrators Scheduled to Appear

Cynthia Leitich Smith, Lila Guzman, Jane Ann Peddicord, Greg Leitich Smith, April Lurie, Mark G. Mitchell, Shana Burg, Frances Hill, P. J. "Tricia" Hoover, Helen Hemphill, Phyllis Peacock, Jennifer Ziegler, Christy Stallop, Julie Lake, Brian Yansky, Jessica Anderson, Varian Johnson, Philip Yates, Emma Virjan, Brian Anderson, Anne Bustard, Don Tate, Jerry Wermund, Jo Whittemore.

Note: highlights will include the giveaway of a school visit with debut author P. J. Hoover!

For more information about the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, visit our website at www.austinscbwi.com or www.scbwi.org. -- Tim Crow, Regional Advisor.