Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fantasy Fix

Check out this book trailer for Fortune's Magic Farm, written by Suzanne Selfors (Little, Brown, 2009).



This past week's new releases of science fiction and fantasy for children and teenagers from Charolotte's Library.

Young Adult Speculative Fiction: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Booklists. Links to bibliographies compiled by librarians across the U.S.

Children's & YA Fantasy Novels highlighted by CynthiaLeitichSmith.com. A selection of recommendations and related resources, including links to author interviews. See also Gothic Fantasy & Suspense for Teens & Tweens. Note: it's really more like Gothic fantasy, suspense, urban fantasy, horror generally, and paranormal romance, but who's counting?

Harry Potter giveaway from Sheila Ruth at Wands and Worlds: Fantasy and science fiction for children and teens. Peek: "Now, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will finally be released in paperback on July 7, and I've been given four copies of a Harry Potter prize pack to give away here!" Deadline: July 6. See more information.

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.: "SFWA is a non-profit organization of professional writers of science fiction, fantasy, and related genres. Esteemed past and present members include Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, Ray Bradbury, and Andre Norton."

Why Does Cover Art Change? by Parker Peevyhouse from The Spectacle: Authors talk about writing speculative fiction for teens and pre-teens. Peek: "The original artwork for a book cover, however awesome it may be, is sometimes scrapped before the book hits stores. There are a number of reasons for this."

Take a peek at excerpts of A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn and Hunger by Michael Grant, both 2009 releases at HarperTeen. Read a Cynsations interview with Alex about her new release.

Fantasy and Reality by Laurence Yep from the April 1978 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Peek: "I don't mean to suggest that having a sense of reality is bad. The error lies in treating our sense of reality as absolute rather than relative. Or in assuming that our imagination is inferior to our sense of reality in dealing with our external world."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Spooky News & Giveaways

You Know You're a Debut Author When... by Joy Prebel at Class of 2K9: Debut Middle Grade and Young Adult Authors: Serving up Fresh Fiction. Peek: "You get so good at the Google-stalking thing that you feel a little frightened." A very cute post from a new voice I'm especially excited about. Joy is originally from Chicago and now makes her home in Texas. Learn more about Joy Prebel. Note: for what it's worth, my recommendation is always to focus on writing your next book. A remarkable amount of "noise" out there doesn't matter.

10 Ways Twitter Can Help Writers by Debbie Ridpath Ohi from MiG Writers. Peek: "One of the reasons I decided to take Twitter seriously was because I kept hearing about various editors and publishers who were Twittering. And they weren’t just posting promo items; they were also reading posts by other Twitterers and sometimes replying to them."

Post-Conference Follow-Up from Kristi Holl at Writer's First Aid. Peek: "How do you make good use of the notes and information gleaned at a writer’s workshop or conference?"

Why Write? by Carrie Jones at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "Yet, I think one of the tools at becoming a better writer is understanding the why of why we write. It's not always a simple reason or easy to discover. It's not a set of reasons that applies to everyone." Note: first post in a week-long series. Read a Cynsations interview with Carrie.

Does Listening to an Audio Book Count as Reading? Vote at Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent. Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Congratulations to Heather Brewer on the launch of Tenth Grade Bleeds (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Book 3)(Dutton, 2009)! Peek: "High school can be so draining when you're half-human, half-vampire It's another sucky year at Bathory High for Vladimir Tod. The evil vampire D'Ablo is hunting for the ritual that could steal Vlad's powers. His best friend Henry doesn't want to be his drudge anymore. And as if all that weren't enough, it's getting harder for Vlad to resist feeding on the people around him. When months go by with no word from Uncle Otis and D'Ablo shows up demanding Vlad's father's journal, Vlad realizes that having a normal high school year is the least of his concerns. Vlad needs to act fast, and even his status as the Pravus won't save him this time..."

Projects, Patterns, and Personalities by editor Cheryl Klein at Brooklyn Arden. Peek: "I was looking over the list of my past and upcoming projects, and I realized that a very good chunk of them fit into at least one and sometimes more of these subject categories..." Source: Sara Lewis Holmes at Read, Write, Believe.

Marvelous Marketer: Tracy Marchini (Literary Assistant, Curtis Brown) from Shelli at Market My Words: Rantings and ravings on how authors can better market their books to kids. Peek: "Networking online is the same as networking in person, so whether you're online or offline, it's important to be a gracious host and an appreciative guest." Read a Cynsations interview with Tracy.

Promotional Emails: Do's & Don'ts by Elizabeth Bluemle from Shelftalker: A Children's Bookseller's Blog. Peek: "Do not compare your own book to Harry Potter, The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte's Web, or any other published title, for that matter — especially to claim that it's that book's equal or better."

My Editor and Revision by Brian Yansky at Brian's Blog. Peek: "Even experienced writers, after they have rewritten and rewritten and rewritten a manuscript, will have an editor who makes, often, very good points about how to improve the manuscript. This makes me happy." See also My Fiction Is Stranger Than Truth. Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Writing in the Woods: A Retreat for Writers of Children's and Young Adult Literature. Phyllis Root, Marsha Wilson Chall, and Jane Resh Thomas will be teaching a workshop from Oct. 19 to Oct. 25 at Good Earth Village in Spring Valley, Minnesota. Enrollment limited to 10. Application deadline: Aug. 19. See more information. Read a Cynsations interview with Phyllis.

Why New Novelists Are Kinda Old, or, Hey, Publishing is Slow by John Scalzi from Whatever: Someday Your Tears Will Turn to Diamonds. Peek: "Whenever I hear about a 'new' novelist, they turn out to be in their 30s. Why is that? It seems like you hear about new musicians and actors and other creative people in when they are in their 20s." Source: Children's Book Biz News. Note: The article is centered on the adult market but is still of interest. It used to be that children's-YA authors generally debuted in middle age, but younger writers are now regularly breaking in.

The Time Gobbler by Kristi Holl at Writer's First Aid. Peek: "'A good rule of thumb is to spend one hour of Net time for every two hours spent writing. After all, you can't call yourself a writer if you don't write,'" quoting Some Writers Deserve To Starve! by Elaura Niles (Writer's Digest, 2005). See also The Downside of Goal-Setting.

You, Represented By You from Editorial Anonymous. Peek: "...you can submit the work your agent isn't interested in on your own."

What Backstory Can Do for Your Story by Jessica Morrell from Writer's Digest. Peek: "When deciding when and where to use backstory in your work, it can help to think about what you're trying to accomplish within a given scene. To do this, however, you need to understand the many functions of backstory." Source: Children's Book Biz News.

Book Launch: The Gifted Series by Marilyn Kaye from Janet S. Fox at Through the Wardrobe. Peek: "Almost all my characters are based on an aspect of people I've known, and sometimes on aspects of myself. Then, I let them evolve in my imagination--they take on characteristics that just seem to emerge naturally from their personalities and situations." Read a Cynsations interview with Janet.

Writing Links from my main website. An extensive listing of links to interviews, articles, and other information about agents, book design & art direction, editors & publishers, education, illustration, promotion, publishing, and writing.

Highlight of the Week

I've already blogged about last Saturday's Austin SCBWI meeting with BookPeople events coordinators Mandy Brooks (in the BP T-shirt) and Alison Nihlean (in glasses). Here's just another peek at our speakers with RA Tim Crow. Note: you can find books--many autographed--by local Austin authors at the store. Look in the BookKids department, behind and to the side of the information desk. Or you can call toll-free 800.853.9757; autographed copies of my own Gothic fantasies are available.


More Personally


Fellow Austin author Shana Burg highlights Tantalize (Candlewick) at Walmart in Greenville, Mississippi. Check out part one and two of Shana's report on her recent trip to the Mississippi Delta, the setting for A Thousand Never Evers (Delacorte, 2008). Read a Cynsations interview with Shana.

Congratulations to Horn Book editor Roger Sutton on the birth of his grandson, Miles Henkels Asch, and congratulations to Blooming Tree editor and children's author Madeline Smoot on the birth of her son, also named Miles! Read a Cynsations interview with Roger.

Everything I Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons by Brent Hartinger from TheTorchOnline.com. Peek: "Dungeons & Dragons isn't a dangerous, evil force in the world, nor is it just harmless fun; it's actually one of the most worthwhile activities ever created, and there is literally nothing better for turning a kid into a thoughtful, creative, passionate, open-minded adult." Note: I've never been a D&D player, but I've spent a lot of quality time in comic book shops with people who are. Read a Cynsations interview with Brent.

Giveaway Updates

Enter to win a bookplate-autographed copy of the new release, Bones of Faerie (Random House, 2009), and traditionally autographed copies of both Secret of the Three Treasures (Holiday House, 2006)(hard copy) and Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2006)(paperback) from Cynsations. Note: Gothic includes Janni's short story "Stone Tower." To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Janni Lee Simner" in the subject line. Deadline: June 30! Read a Cynsations interview with Janni.

Enter to win your choice of an Eternal T-shirt, hat, or mug from Cynsations! Note: various designs and colors are available. See all of the choices!

You may also win an ARC of one of three YA paranormal books: Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz (Hyperion, 2008); Wake by Lisa McMann (Simon Pulse, 2008); or Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (HarperCollins, 2008)!

Here's how to enter:

(1) visit this link: Eternal Book Trailer by Naomi Bates at YA Books and More. Watch the trailer!

(2) (a) Email me (scroll to click envelope); (b) Type "Eternal trailer giveaway" in the subject line; (c) Offer your cheers about the trailer! What do you love about it? What questions does it raise in your mind? (d) Indicate your preferred T-shirt style, size, and color; (e) Rank the ARCs in the order of preference. Note: if you already have one or more of the books, you can mention that too. You are also encouraged to share your cheers in a comment at this post on Naomi's blog, though this is not required to enter. It's just friendly.

Deadline: midnight central time June 30!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Spooky News & Giveaways

Check out this trailer for David Small's graphic novel memoir, Stitches. Available Sept. 8 from W.W. Norton & Co. Source: A Fuse #8 Production.



Characters by Brian Yansky from Brian's Blog. Peek: "Of course you will discover different levels of yearning as you work through drafts but knowing early what your character primarily yearns for can help you discover a lot." See also Brian on Writing Destinations. Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Books with Bite Trailer from MPL Teen Space (doesn't include this spring's releases, but still a comprehensive highlight of vampire-themed YA novels). Note: 10+ minutes.



The Nutcases by Kristi Holl at Writer's First Aid. Peek: "'Whether they appear as your overbearing mother, your manic boss, your needy friend, or your stubborn spouse,' says Cameron, 'the crazymakers in your life share certain destructive patterns that make them poisonous for any sustained creative work.'" See also Get Your Fear Shot.

Wondrous Read Contest: enter to win an autographed copy of Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (HarperCollins, 2008) by commenting on Lee A. Verday's blog. Then sign up for "Get the Goods" on Jessica Verday's site, where everyone wins. Peek: "Want to keep up-to-date on the latest news about Jessica Verday and The Hollow (Simon Pulse, 2009)? Sign up here, and you'll get a Goodies package sent straight to your door!" Read a Cynsations interview with Lesley.

Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, lllusionists and Other Matters Odd and Magical: a recommendation from Charlotte at Charlotte's Library: Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Children and Teenagers. Peek: "When the difference that lead to someone becoming a sideshow are combined with magic, mystery, and mayhem, there's a lot of room for great writers of fantastical fiction to make gripping and memorable stories. Which is what happens here." Note: Sideshow is edited by Deborah Noyes and will be released next month from Candlewick Press; the anthology includes my short story, "Cat Calls." Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah.

Take the Dare! Show You Care! from Cynthea Liu's launch party. Check out the auction, which includes newly listed editor critiques from Kristin Daly of Balzar & Bray/HarperCollins, Martha Mihalick of Greenwillow/HarperCollins, Andrea Welch of Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, Andrew Karre of Carolrhoda, and freelance editor Stacy Whitman. Notes: see also additional opportunities to bid with more editors, agents, and authors; proceeds to benefit Tulakes Elementary, a Title I school in Oklahoma City. Read Cynsations interviews with Cynthea, Andrew, and Stacy.

Austin News & Events

Austin's Delacorte Dames & Dude Talk YA Literature by Donna Bowman Bratton at Simply Donna. Peek: "There are many challenges in writing for teens. [Jennifer] Ziegler points to the raw emotions teenagers have trouble dealing with. As she says, the emotional 'pendulum doesn't swing quite so far for adults. For that reason, YA novels often have deeper emotional content.'" See also True Friends: DDD Panel Discussion from Shana Burg and Delacorte Dames and Dude Discuss Details, Dreams, Duties, Divisions, and Dealing with Disrespect from Jennifer Ziegler and Things That Make Me Happy from Varian Johnson.

Here are some pics from the event. First up is Jennifer with Delacorte Dude Varian Johnson.

And here's Varian, Jenny, and Shana with April Lurie, Margo Rabb, and moderator Sarah Bird. DDD devotees should also make sure to check out a gorgeous shot of the fab five at April Afloat.


"How To Have a Successful Book Event" led by BookPeople events coordinators, Alison Nihlean and Mandy Brooks will be at 11 a.m. June 20 at BookPeople in Austin. Peek: "It's a collaborative effort that when performed creatively and appropriately, fabulous events happen. They'll share success stories and not so success stories about their years as BookPeople's event organizers, then the floor will be open for questions." Note: sponsored by Austin SCBWI.

Highlights of the Week

Highlights included lunch at Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill on Sixth Street with College Station school librarian and children's author Debbie Leland. Debbie is a rare self-publishing success story. Her books include Aggie Goose Rhymes, The JalapeƱo Man, The Firegator, The Little Prairie Hen, and Daddy's Love. The Little Prairie Hen won the 2005 Texas Golden Spur Award for Children's Literature, given annually by the Texas State Reading Association. Debbie is highly recommended for school visits and other events.

Sparkling debut author Kekla Magoon is also in town this week. We had breakfast at Juan in a Million on East Cesar Chavez St. Note: the restaurant was recently featured on "Man versus Food."

Kekla is the author of The Rock and The River (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2009). In a starred review, Booklist says, "True to the young teen's viewpoint, this taut, eloquent first novel will make readers feel what it was like to be young, black and militant 40 years ago. ....an important title for YA American History classes."

Kekla is offering joint school visit programs with Bethany Hegedus, author of Between Us Baxters (WestSide, 2009). Peek: "Our books span the civil rights era, from the time of segregation in the south to the emergence of black power movements in the urban north. Our interactive workshop can be tailored to the needs of your class, including historical themes, video clips, readers' theater, discussion, writing exercises, handouts, and follow-up classroom activities and teacher resource material." For information on rates, scheduling, etc. contact TwoBooksTwoAuthors@gmail.com.

More Personally

I'm busy revising Blessed, (Candlewick, 2011), which will crossover the casts of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), picking up where Tantalize leaves off.



Around the kidlitosphere, Anastasia Suen re-runs an article I wrote a few years back, "How to Throw a Launch Book Party," which draws on my experience from the Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007) launch.

Giveaway Updates

Enter to win a bookplate-autographed copy of the new release, Bones of Faerie (Random House, 2009), and traditionally autographed copies of both Secret of the Three Treasures (Holiday House, 2006)(hard copy) and Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2006)(paperback) from Cynsations. Note: Gothic includes Janni's short story "Stone Tower."

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Janni Lee Simner" in the subject line. Deadline: June 30! Read a Cynsations interview with Janni.

Enter to win your choice of an Eternal T-shirt, hat, or mug from Cynsations! Note: various designs and colors are available. See all of the choices!

You may also win an ARC of one of three YA paranormal books: Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz (Hyperion, 2008); Wake by Lisa McMann (Simon Pulse, 2008); or Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (HarperCollins, 2008)!

Here's how to enter:

(1) visit this link: Eternal Book Trailer by Naomi Bates at YA Books and More. Watch the trailer!

(2) (a) Email me (scroll to click envelope); (b) Type "Eternal trailer giveaway" in the subject line; (c) Offer your cheers about the trailer! What do you love about it? What questions does it raise in your mind? (d) Indicate your preferred T-shirt style, size, and color; (e) Rank the ARCs in the order of preference. Note: if you already have one or more of the books, you can mention that too. You are also encouraged to share your cheers in a comment at this post on Naomi's blog, though this is not required to enter. It's just friendly.

Deadline: midnight central time June 30!

Winners of the signed Eternal bookmarks giveaway were Jennifer at the Natrona County Public Library in Casper, Wyoming and Deena at Brighton Memorial Library in Rochester, New York. Bonus sets went out this week to Kathy at the Defiance (Ohio) Public Library, Laini at Culpeper Public Library in Virginia, and Buffy at Creekview High School in Georgia.

Monday, June 15, 2009

World Horror Convention 2011 in Austin, Texas

Austin – June 15 The World Horror Society has named Austin, Texas as the location for the 2011 World Horror Convention (WHC). The international gathering of horror's brightest talents and their fans will take place from April 28th through May 1st, 2011.

Austin, Texas was chosen for its unique style and rich genre history. The original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was filmed near the city, and the remakes of both "Chainsaw Massacre" and "Friday the 13th" were filmed in town. Austin also serves as home to the largest urban bat colony in North America, and at sunset 1.5 million bats fly over the city, truly marking it as a horror locale. (There’s a reason the city's motto is "Keep Austin Weird.")

"Texas has a long history of strange fiction, serving as home to such luminaries as Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Joe R. Lansdale," says Convention Co-Chair, Nate Southard. "Bringing the World Horror Convention to Austin is a natural. It's a vibrant city with a taste for the eccentric and a love of the arts. Further, its central, southern location makes it convenient for travelers throughout the US, and visitors from abroad will have no trouble reaching us either."

Known as both the Capital of Texas and the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin provides the entertainment and cultural draws of a large city with the intimacy of a small town. This smaller size translates to ease of transportation in and around the city with many opportunities for convention attendees to absorb what Austin has to offer.

Convention Chairs, Southard and Lee Thomas, promise to bring the convention back to the US in style. Focusing on literary horror's newest stars, WHC 2011 has already confirmed author Sarah Langan as its first Guest of Honor.

"We couldn't be more pleased," Lee Thomas, Co-Chair of the event, said. "Sarah was at the top of our list, and her enthusiastic agreement to attend really set the tone for what we hope to achieve with this convention. We'll be inviting additional industry luminaries, and we'll make announcements when those folks are confirmed."

Ms. Langan's first novel, The Keeper (HarperCollins, 2006), was named a New York Times editor's choice. Her second novel, The Missing (HarperCollins, 2007), won the Bram Stoker Award for outstanding novel and earned an American Library Association Award. Her third novel, Audrey's Door, will be released in late 2009 and has already been optioned by the Weinstein Company for film.

Additional Guests of Honor, registration information, and hotel information will be forthcoming. A website featuring convention information is currently in development.

The World Horror Convention is an annual gathering of professionals in the horror industry; publishers, authors, artists, musicians, filmmakers, dealers and, of course, horror fans.

WHC serves as both an industry insider's networking event and a chance for fans of the genre to get together, meet some of the creative talents in the field, and generally spend a weekend celebrating All Things Scary.

Source: Lee Thomas.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spooky News & Eternal T-Shirt Giveaway

Enter to win your choice of an Eternal T-shirt, hat, or mug from CafePress! Note: various designs and colors are available.

You may also win an ARC of one of three YA paranormal books: Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz (Hyperion, 2008); Wake by Lisa McMann (Simon Pulse, 2008); or Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (HarperCollins, 2008)!

Here's how to enter:

(1) visit this link: Eternal Book Trailer by Naomi Bates at YA Books and More. Watch the trailer!

(2) (a) Email me (scroll to click envelope); (b) Type "Eternal trailer giveaway" in the subject line; (c) Offer your cheers about the trailer! What do you love about it? What questions does it raise in your mind? (d) Indicate your preferred T-shirt style, size, and color; (e) Rank the ARCs in the order of preference. Note: if you already have one or more of the books, you can mention that too.

Note: You are also encouraged to share your cheers in a comment at this post on Naomi's blog, though this is not required to enter. It's just friendly.

Deadline: midnight central time June 30!

Just for fun, see also How I create digital book trailers by Naomi. See also an interview with artist Gene Brenek on the various Eternal tie-in designs. Read author interviews with Laurie, Lisa, and Lesley.

Do you want to win a copy of the novel Eternal (Candlewick, 2009)? If so, check out the June giveaway at Writer Musings: A place to ponder books, as well as how the words get on the page.

More News & Giveaways

10 Ways Not To Get An Agent by Tracy Marchini from My VerboCity. Peek: "Send multiple revisions of partials. (This makes us feel like you aren't taking enough time to read and revise before you're sending out material.)" See also When Should You Revise? Read a Cynsations interview with Tracy.

Revision Checklist from Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent. Peek: "Do your main characters emerge from the book irrevocably changed?" See also This is a Blog from Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent. Peek: "I have to be honest that it's mildly alarming how many queries I receive that misuse the word 'blog.' I've seen everything from 'the webpostings on your Blogsite' to 'your blogspot on your website.' People are personalizing, which is great, but... word people should not be misusing words." Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Jessica Verday: the author's site has been gorgeously redesigned. Her debut novel, The Hollow, will be available from Simon Pulse in September 2009.

How to Fire Your Agent from Rachelle Gardner: Literary Agent. Peek: "I think the mature way of handling a situation like this is to say, 'This isn't working for me. Can something be changed?'" Source: Nathan Bransford.

Ten Writing Tips by Verla Kay - Part Two and Part Three. Peek: "If you believe in yourself, if you are writing and learning your craft and the business of writing for children, if you are working hard to become a published author, then never give up." Note: Part One for those who missed it. Read a Cynsations interview with Verla.

Firebrand Started A Blog. Should You? from Stacia Decker at Firebrand Literary Blog. Peek: "Get a feel for the time commitment and your inclinations by substitute teaching for blogger friends on vacation or contributing posts to others’ sites." See also Submission Etiquette and Taking Your Time from Chris Richman. Peek: "If I request revisions, I’m not going to forget a project in two, three, or even six months. If it takes a writer that long to get to the changes, that just makes me assume they’re taking the revisions seriously." Note: Firebrand Literary is "a full-service literary agency specializing in books for young readers." Read an interview with Michael Stearns of Firebrand Literary.

Craft Issue: Plot Points (Or, How to Twist Your Character) by Janet Fox at Through the Wardrobe. Peek: "Make sure that at the end of Act I the action of the story spins your character into a new, increasingly tense situation." Read a Cynsations interview with Janet Fox.

Two Minutes, Not Two Pages by Helen Hemphill at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "The crazy schedule of 2009 has made me master of the writing snippet, which I will now name the Summer Snippet." Read a Cynsations interview with Helen.

People may be able to taste words by Victoria Gill, Science reporter, BBC News. Peek: "...according to Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, we are all 'synaesthetes' up to a point." Source: Gwenda Bond.

Lightning, Lightning Bugs, Twain, Madness of Art from Brian Yansky at Brian's Blog. Peek: "Maybe it happens, maybe it doesn't, but if you're never out in that rain, you will never be struck by lightning." See also Thank you, Mr. Twain and Wrath. Note: one of the best, brainiest new writer blogs on the Web; highly recommended! Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

The First Annual Complete Your Draft Contest brought to you by Les Trois Graces in association with Tuesday Night Chatters. Deadline: June 30; see prizes.

A Very Geektastic BEA from Alivina Ling at Blue Rose Girls. Peek: "what could be more geeky than a bowling party?" Note: Wish I could've been there! Greg and I contributed a short story, "The Wrath of Dawn," to Geektastic: Stories of the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (Little, Brown, 2009).

The Unschedule
from Kristi Holl at Writer's First Aid. Peek: "I have a five-hour critique to do today. Always in the past, I did the five hours non-stop, then crashed with a bad neck ache and headache. Today I've scheduled it in small chunks with rewards interspersed frequently. I also have a phone call with a friend at noon on the schedule."

Cynsational Author Tip: you don't own the rights to everything published about your book! Try to keep review/recommendation quotes short (under 50 words) and link to the main source.

Introducing the New Teenreads.com Blog! from Marisa Emralino, Editorial Coordinator for Teenreads.com. Peek: "Teenreads decided to launch this new blog, as a way to bring you--our readers--even more book and author news on a more frequent basis, in addition to our regular monthly updates. But, what makes this feature stand out is that we're asking authors to help bring this content to you directly." See Tim Wynne-Jones on The Uninvited (Candlewick, 2009).

Going Online to Get Published by Cyn Balog. Peek: "The first thing I did was start reading agent blogs. I then started up my own LiveJournal, and began friending as many writers for Young Adults I could find."

It Was, Like, All Dark and Stormy Teenage readers are gravitating toward even grimmer fiction; suicide notes and death matches by Katie Roiphe from The Wall Street Journal. Peek: "Unsettling as it is, there is a certain amount of comfort to be gleaned from the new disaster fiction; it makes its readers feel less alone." Source: YA Books and More.

Five questions for Gene Luen Yang (and other nifty stuff) from Notes from the Horn Book. Peek: "Books are about communication. And books communicating through images, even sequential images, aren't something new trying to substitute for the tried and true."

Enter to Win a Copy of Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell from Kristina Springer. Deadline: midnight CST June 12. Learn more about Shadowed Summer (Delacorte, 2009).

First Draft Tips from Lisa Schroeder at Author2Author. Peek: "Don't get too caught up in details. Details are easy to add in later." Read a Cynsations interview with Lisa.

"How To Have a Successful Book Event" led by BookPeople events coordinators, Alison Nihlean and Mandy Brooks will be at 11 a.m. June 20 at BookPeople in Austin. Peek: "It's a collaborative effort that when performed creatively and appropriately, fabulous events happen. They'll share success stories and not so success stories about their years as BookPeople's event organizers, then the floor will be open for questions." Note: sponsored by Austin SCBWI.

Real-space Event & Online Giveaway

Double the Pleasure! Double the Fun! Double the Mysteries! Come join author Jill Santopolo for the publication party in celebration of her second Alec Flint Mystery, The Ransom Note Blues (Scholastic, 2009) and celebrate the paperback publication of The Nina, the Pinta, and the Vanishing Treasure (Scholastic, 2008)! The event will be at 6 p.m. June 23 at Books of Wonder (18 W. 18th St. NYC). Learn more about the series and RSVP to Jill Santopolo (see "contact" at top bar)!

The first two people to e-mail jill@jillsantopolo.com with their mailing address, saying that they read this message on Cynsations and correctly cracking and answering the coded question below will receive a free copy of The Ransom Note Blues. (Hint: The key to Alec and Gina's code can be found at www.jillsantopolo.com). Here's the coded question that needs to be cracked and answered: Dszg xzmwb rh Trmz vzgrmt lm gsv xlevi lu Gsv Izmhln Mlgv Yofvh?

Read a Cynsations interview with Jill.

Giveaway Updates

Enter to win a bookplate-autographed copy of the new release, Bones of Faerie (Random House, 2009), and traditionally autographed copies of both Secret of the Three Treasures (Holiday House, 2006)(hard copy) and Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2006)(paperback). Note: Gothic includes Janni's short story "Stone Tower." To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Janni Lee Simner" in the subject line. Deadline: June 30! Read a Cynsations interview with Janni.

Breaking News as of June 12: Janni has upgraded this giveaway so that all three books will now be autographed!

Tabitha Olson at has announced her June book giveaway at Writer Musings: A place to ponder books, as well as how the words get on the page. The featured books are: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Hyperion, 2008); How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle, and Sarah Mlynowski (HarperCollins, 2008); Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007); and Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2009). To enter, leave a comment at this post. See also information on extra entries. Note: Tabitha will "randomly draw four names" June 27.

Winners of the signed Eternal bookmarks giveaway were Jennifer at the Natrona County Public Library in Casper, Wyoming and Deena at Brighton Memorial Library in Rochester, New York. Thank you to all who entered!

Event Reminder

The "Everything You Wanted to Know about Young Adult Fiction But Were Too Afraid To Ask" panel discussion will feature the Delacorte Dames and Dudes, five authors of tween-young adult (YA) novels at 1 p.m. June 13 at BookPeople. They are all published by Delacorte Press (Random House), and they all live in Austin!

Delacorte Dames are April Lurie, author of The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine (2008), Jennifer Ziegler, How Not to Be Popular (2008), Margo Rabb, Cures for Heartbreak (2007), and Shana Burg, A Thousand Never Evers (2008). The lone Delacorte Dude is Varian Johnson, whose novel Saving Maddie is forthcoming in 2010.

More Personally

Highlights of the week included Sunday brunch at Hyde Park Bar & Grill with author Varsha Bajaj and her family! Varsha is a dear pal and the author of How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight? illustrated by Ivan Bates (Little, Brown, 2004). From the promotional copy: "'How many kisses do you want tonight?' the animals ask, snuggling critters tight. This adorable counting bedtime book celebrates the special ritual of goodnight kisses. Children and baby animals request from one to a million kisses from their parents when they settle in for the night. The simple, rhyming text makes for a perfect read aloud." School Library Journal said, "Sure to be an instant sleepy-time favorite!" Look for a new picture book from Varsha in the near future! Details to come!

Thank you to Youth Services Librarian Nicki Stohr and everyone at the Schertz Public Library in Schertz, Texas for your hospitality on Tuesday afternoon. It was a pleasure visiting with you!

Thank you to Pat Anderson, Vickie, and everyone at Texas Overlooked Books for your hospitality at the Texas Authors & Illustrators margarita reception at the annual conference of the Texas Association of School Library Administrators, held Tuesday night in the presidential suite at the Radisson Austin North! See Pat and Melissa Ritchie in the first photo below. Note: Texas authors in attendance included Austin's YA rising star Jennifer Ziegler; you can see her farther below with her fellow DDDs (and in person at BookPeople on Saturday!).

For those of you who live for such things, I have it on good authority that this was the suite Elvis stayed in when he last performed in Austin. I know you're excited! I was. Note: I think it was a Hilton back then.

Here's a bright smile from Anastasia Suen, the author of 114 books for children! Anastasia is based in Plano. She's also an active blogger in the kidlitosphere.

The author (and performance artist) in the wheat-colored jacket is San Antonio-based Dr. Carmen Tafolla. Carmen's most recent release is What Can You Do with a Paleta? illustrated by Magaly Morales (Tricycle, 2009).

Here's Austin's own author-illustrator Keith Graves, hiding behind one of my all-time favorite picture books, Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance (Chronicle, 2006)(paper edition).

Cynthia Leitich Smith on Summer Reading from Teenreads.com Blog. Peek: "Back then, I loved any books that had to do with magic, especially those about putting on a magic show. I wanted to be a magician when I grew up."

Monday, June 08, 2009

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith from Writer Musings; Smith & Lockhart Giveaway Reminder

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith from Tabitha Olson at Writer Musings: A place to ponder books, as well as how the words get on the page.

Peek: "After a break during college, I returned to reading comics, graphic novels, and children's-YA literature while I was in law school. In an academic field with some weighty (sometimes intentionally convoluted) language, such works came as a welcome relief. Not long after graduation, I made the decision to write full-time."

Giveaway Reminder

Tabitha Olson at has announced her June book giveaway at Writer Musings: A place to ponder books, as well as how the words get on the page. The featured books are: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Hyperion, 2008); How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle, and Sarah Mlynowski (HarperCollins, 2008); Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007); and Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2009).

To enter, leave a comment at this post. See also information on extra entries.

Note: Tabitha will "randomly draw four names" June 27.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

June Giveaways at Writer Musings: Lockhart's How to Be Bad & Frankie Landau-Banks; Smith's Tantalize & Eternal

Tabitha Olson at has announced her June book giveaway at Writer Musings: A place to ponder books, as well as how the words get on the page. The featured books are:

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Hyperion, 2008)

How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle, and Sarah Mlynowski (HarperCollins, 2008)

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007).

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2009).

Peek: "look for interviews with both Cynthia Leitich Smith and E. Lockhart later in the month!"

To enter, leave a comment at this post.

For one extra entry, post a link to this contest on your website or blog (or some other public forum), then let Tabitha know about it at this post.

For another extra entry, become a follower and then let Tabitha know about it at this post (or let her know you already are a follower).

Note: Tabitha will "randomly draw four names...June 27."

Friday, June 05, 2009

Spooky News & Bones of Faerie Giveaway

Janni Lee Simner Super Giveaway

Enter to win Bones of Faerie (Random House, 2009) and autographed copies of both Secret of the Three Treasures (Holiday House, 2006)(hard copy) and Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2006)(paperback).

Note: Gothic includes Janni's short story "Stone Tower."

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Janni Lee Simner" in the subject line. Deadline: June 30!

Read a Cynsations interview with Janni.

Signed Eternal Bookmarks Giveaway

Attention YA Public Librarians: enter to win one of two sets of 10 autographed Eternal bookmarks to use for summer reading giveaways! To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Eternal bookmarks" in the subject line. Deadline: June 8!

Cynthia Leitich Smith Contest

Do you live in Carbon County, Pennsylvania or the surrounding area? If so, you are eligible for the Cynthia Leitich Smith contest from Reading Escapes!

"Enter to win your favorite book by Cynthia! Email us to tell us what your favorite book by Cynthia is and why in less than 50 words by June 30 to enter to win a copy of it or another book of your choice by her. If you haven't read any of her books yet, just let us know which book you would like to read and why you think you would like it." See contact and more information.

More News

Stepping Up Your Game from Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent. Peek: "Publishers right now want the surest of sure things that are so sure it beats surety over its sure head. And agents have to adjust what they take on accordingly." Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Attention Teachers & Librarians: nominate a book for YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults list.

Writing Tips: Who Wants to be a Children's Author? from Verla Kay's Blog. Peek: "I never set out to be an author. I never wanted to write. Actually, I hated writing as a child and never dreamed I would grow up to be a writer. As a teenager, I wrote many poems and stories and tucked them away in a folder, to be shown only to my very best of friends." Read a Cynsations interview with Verla Kay.

Polish Those Nuggets until They Shine! More on Writing Fiction Inspired by Reality by JoAnn Early Macken from Teaching Authors. Peek: "How do we unearth an event from real life and shape it into a story? Here are some possibilities."

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers Contest: "The prize of a book contract (on the publisher’s standard form) covering world rights for a hardcover and a paperback edition, including an advance and royalties, will be awarded annually to encourage the writing of contemporary young adult fiction. The award consists of $1,500 in cash and a $7,500 advance against royalties." Source: BronzeWord Latino Authors.

Author Interview & Constest with Marlene Perez from Amberkatze's Book Blog. Peek: "The first line of Dead Is The New Black popped into my mind, fully formed. "Being dead became fashionable approximately forty-five minutes after Samantha 'the Divine' Devereaux came back from summer break." Enter to win one of three copies of Dead Is So Last Year. Deadline: 4 p.m. CET June 7. Note: the series is published by Harcourt. Read a Cynsations interview with Marlene.

Roundtable Discussion: Working With An Editor: a conversation with authors Linda Joy Singleton, Jo Whittemore, and P.J. Hoover from The Spectacle. See the continuing discussion with Joni Sensel, Parker Peevyhouse, and Greg Fishbone. Read Cynsations interviews with Linda Joy, Jo, P.J., and Greg.

Trusting My Gut from Kimberly Willis Holt at A Good Blog is Hard to Find. Peek: "In my gut, I knew it wasn't ready. Something about the story didn't feel right, but I was impatient and slipped the envelopes in the mail anyway." Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberly.

Purple Prose People Eaters by Tabitha Olson at Writer Musings. Peek: "Purple prose is a choice of words that aren’t there for the sake of the story, they’re there for the sake of themselves. The words go beyond packing a punch and leave bruises on the reader."

Win an 8GB iPod Touch and Signed Audiobooks! from Listening Library/Random House. Peek: "f you could go on a fantasy road trip with a character (or characters!) from your favorite series, where would you go? What would you do along the way? How would you travel? Create a video and show us! Best selling authors Libba Bray, Tamora Pierce and Rick Riordan will judge the videos and choose three grand prize winners!" Note: "The contest will open for entries June 1 to Aug. 17." See more information. Source: Libba Bray. Read Cynsations interviews with Libba and Rick.

Teens Read Too is giving away several great books this month, including 20 copies of the ARC for The Chronicles of Vladamir Tod: Tenth Grade Bleeds by Heather Brewer (Dutton), which is highly recommended. See more information. See book trailers for the series.

Eerie Books: a horror specialty shop at 205 N. Ballard Street in Wylie, Texas. Also features horror art, movies & DVDs, a book club, storytime, and much more!

Five Stages of Procrastination from Kristi Holl at Writer's First Aid. Peek: "This brings the deadline closer and creates more pressure. You delay starting so long that you can't really be tested on your actual writing ability (what you are capable of if you’d started sooner)."

Visualizing Composite Characters, Whether Or Not They're Modeled on "Real" People by Carmela Martino from Teaching Authors. Peek: "When I wrote the short story's first draft, the main character was me--I used my own name and the real names of all the other people involved."

Mindful or Multitasker by Kristi Holl from Writer's First Aid. Peek: "Is there honestly an alternative to the chicken-with-her-head-cut-off chickenfrenzied multi-tasking that many of us use to get through our days?" See also Kristi on Unblock: Two Techniques.

Enter to Win a Copy of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic, 2009) from The Shady Glade. Deadline: June 15. Note: Maggie is one of my favorite new voices, and this is one of the most highly anticipated YA Gothics of the year. See details. Read a Cynsations interview with Maggie.

What's On Your Summer Reading List? Children's and Young Adult Authors and Illustrators Tell All by Daryl Grabarek, Curriculum Connections, from School Library Journal. Get the scoop from Susan Patron, Mo Willems, Kate DiCamillo, Adam Rapp, Elise Broach, Melissa Marr, Deborah Hopkinson, Megan McDonald, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Marilyn Singer, Avi, Brian James, Richard Peck, Laurie Halse Anderson, E. Lockhart, Jerry Spinelli, Juanita Havill, Sara Zarr, Ridley Pearson, Dave Barry, Ann M. Martin, James Preller, Joyce Sweeney, and Paul Janeczko. See also A Need to Read: What Parents Can Do to Encourage Summer Reading by Nancy Twigg from Knox news. Source: Teri Lesesne. Read Cynsations interviews with Elise, Melissa, Deborah, Brian, E., and Sara.

An Agent Talks Trends in MG/YA Publishing from Mitali Perkins at Mitali's Fire Escape. Peek: "At our Boston Bookish Tweetup on Sunday, literary agent Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency reflected on the current and future state of Middle Grade (MG) and Young Adult (YA) books." Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

Living the Dream by Sarah Prineas. Peek: "One of the first things I learned is that being an author is not the same as being a writer. The writer part is pretty much the same as it always was. Authoring is the add-on to that. Being an author means doing school visits, traveling, giving presentations, being 'on' and friendly, spending time and energy on being the human representative of a book. It also means doing interviews, answering questions from foreign translators, dealing with taxes, etc." Read a Cynsations interview with Sarah.

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan (McElderry 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith. Peek: "a terrific read, rich in atmosphere and wit. Best of all, the relationships between and among the pairs of siblings are thoughtfully constructed (to explore what it means to be family), without stinting on either horror, action, or suspense."

Blogging Dos and Don'ts - Advice for Writers from author-agent Lucienne Diver. Peek: "Remember your mother telling you 'If you don’t have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all'?" Learn more about Lucienne's new release Vamped (Llewellyn, 2009).

Revising your manuscript from Samantha Clark at Day by Day Writer. Peek: "Think those award-winning books or bestsellers were brilliant the day their authors typed The End? Think again. Most writers go through revision after revision after revision."

Ten Writing Tips by Verla Kay - Part 1. Peek: "Believe that what you are writing is worthy of being read. Believe that you can do this, that you can write and finish a story so compelling, so entertaining, so special, that editors and kids will love it and 'have' to read it." Read a Cynsations interview with Verla Kay.

What Are Your Author Goals? from Tracy Marchini at My VerboCity. Peek: "What are your goals as a writer, one, five and ten years from now?" Read a Cynsations interview with Tracy.

More Personally

Highlights of the week included receiving contributor copies of Geektastic: Stories of the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (Little, Brown, 2009). The story Greg and I wrote is "The Wrath of Dawn." Full contributor list: M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Tracy Lynn, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfield, Lisa Yee, and Sara Zarr. With illustrated interstitials from comic book artists Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O'Malley. Read Cynsations interviews with Holly, Cecil, M.T., Libba, Cassandra, David, Barry, Scott, Lisa, and Sara. Note: do you see that vampire avatar in the top row with the black dress and the red cowboy books and the sunglasses? That's me!


Thank you to the Cedar Park (TX) Public Library for your hospitality last weekend! Through a grant program, the library sponsors a YA book club to bring in local authors and purchase copies of their latest book for participants. Other recently featured Austin area authors include April Lurie and Jennifer Ziegler.

Author Laurie Faria Stolarz sends a couple of picks of my Gothic fantasy books in New York City. Here they are in the YA Dept at the Barnes & Noble on 5th Ave. (She also set a shot from the New York Public Library (Grand Central Branch), but I can't seem to get the image twisted around yet--soon, I hope!). Thanks, Laurie! Read a Cynsations interview with Laurie.