Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Spooky News & Last Call: Immortal Giveaway

The Eyeball Collector by F.E. Higgins (Feiwel & Friends 2009): a recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith from GregLSBlog.

Seven Characteristics You Need to Get Published by Carolyn Kaufman from QueryTracker.net. Peek: "The first thing every real writer needs is a willingness to learn and grow. All agents or editors—no matter how busy—are interested in quality work."

2009 Cybils Widget is now available from JacketFlap. Show your support by adding it to your blog!

Balancing Acts by Kelly Bingham from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "How do you take all those reams of writing advice, all the lessons you have gleaned from novels and books on craft, and make them balance out? Because haven't you heard pieces of advice that contrast with one another? Who is right? Who is wrong?"

Top 10 Myths About E-Books from Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent. Peek: "...because e-books are (usually) much cheaper than print books, it doesn't take long before an e-reader pays for itself - since most hardcovers that sell for $25 or more are available for $9.99, all it takes is roughly 20 e-books for an e-reader to pay for itself."

Unlocking Your Potential by Kristi Holl from Writer's First Aid. Peek: "Some of my most brilliant students gave up after a rejection or two and never were published. But I have books on my shelf from medium-talented students who refused to give up on their dreams–books published by large New York publishers."

The Importance of White Space
by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: "White space could be wielded as effectively as the most brilliant prose, and to equally devastating effect. What you leave out is as important as what you leave in."

Winners of Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children's Books: compiled by Michael Thorn at ACHOCKABLOG. Peek: "John Fardell, Lari Don and Keith Gray have been named as this year's winners for the 2009 Royal Mail Awards, Scotland's largest children's Book Prize which is voted for exclusively by Scottish children themselves."

National Book Award Dinner Photo Montage by Lorie Ann Grover at readergirlz.

Writers' Conferences: Approaching Other Writers by Ami from Write Out Loud. Peek: "Once you’ve made a connection, the easiest way to start a conversation is to introduce yourself and ask what type of writing the person does."

Writing While White by Justine Larbalestier. Peek: "What we all have to remember when we write about people—any people—is that the risks of reinforcing stereotypes and thus hurting people is very high. So the onus is on us to do the very best job we can. We also have to remember that even when we do a wonderful job, even if we are a member of the group we’re representing, there are still people who will be offended."

Wasted by Brian Yansky from Brian's Blog: Writer Talk. Peek: "Here I’m referring to the idea that every manuscript does not become a published book even from writers who have published books and even from famous writers who have published books."

Choose Cybils Books for the Holidays from Jen Robinson's Book Page. Peek: "I've always felt that one of the biggest benefits that comes out of the Cybils process is these categorized lists of nominees and finalists. I hope that if any of you are planning to buy children's or young adult books for the holidays, you'll take advantage of this resource."

Cynsational Screening Room

Take a sneak peek at the film, "Beastly," based on the novel of the same title by Alex Flinn (HarperCollins). Read a Cynsations interview with Alex.

Beastly Teaser Trailer

Trailer Park | MySpace Video


The video below celebrates the New Zealand Book Council: Where Books Come to Life. Note: this is much cooler than I'm making it sound--definitely do click to view. Source: Janet Reid, Literary Agent.



Remember Shayne Leighton, the amazing young filmmaker who created my book trailers for Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001), Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007), and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009)?

Here's a peek at her latest project, "The Incubus." See also a Cynsations interview with Shayne.



More Personally

Happy (American) Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it!

Cynsational Giveaways

Enter to win a contributor-signed copy of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella, Oct. 2009)!

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Immortal" in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the name in the header; I'll contact you if you win). Deadline: midnight CST Nov. 30.

See also a PDF excerpt of Immortal which highlights my short story, "Haunted Love." The story is set in the same universe as Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and features new characters.

Spooky Events

Destination Publication: An Awesome Austin Conference for Writers and Illustrators is scheduled for Jan. 30 and sponsored by Austin SCBWI. Keynote speakers are Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson and Caldecott Honor author-illustrator Marla Frazee, who will also offer an illustrator breakout and portfolio reviews. Presentations and critiques will be offered by editor Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, author-editor Lisa Graff of FSG, agent Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Literary, agent Mark McVeigh of The McVeigh Agency, and agent Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Advanced critique break-out sessions will be led by editor Stacy Cantor of Bloomsbury. In addition, Cheryl and author Sara Lewis Holmes will speak on the editor-and-author relationship, and Marla and author Liz Garton Scanlon will speak on the illustrator-and-author relationship. Note: Sara and Liz also will be offering manuscript critiques. Illustrator Patrice Barton will offer portfolio reviews. Additional authors on the speaker-and-critique faculty include Jessica Lee Anderson, Chris Barton, Shana Burg, P.J. Hoover, Jacqueline Kelly, Philip Yates, Jennifer Ziegler. See registration form, information packet, and conference schedule (all PDF files)!

2010 Houston-SCBWI Conference is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2010, at the Merrell Center in Katy. Registration is now open. The faculty includes author Cynthia Leitich Smith, assistant editor Ruta Rimas of Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, creative director Patrick Collins of Henry Holt, senior editor Alexandra Cooper of Simon & Schuster, senior editor Lisa Ann Sandell of Scholastic, and agent Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cover Stories: Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith from Melissa Walker

I'm honored that the cover story for Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) is featured today at Melissa Walker's blog. Peek: "I couldn't figure out how the designers would incorporate two similarly laid-out profiles, unless one was on the front and one on the back, but then, how would they pick which would go where?"

The post includes a sneak peek at the Eternal covers coming soon from Walker UK (12/07/09 release date) and Walker Australia and New Zealand (12/01/09 release date).

Surf over and check it out!

Spooky Notes

Learn more about Melissa.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spooky News & Giveaways of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite or Your Choice of My Books

Writing Cliches by Carrie Jones from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "It happens to all of us. It stalks us until our brains and fingers are weak and then it sneaks its way onto our pages, taunting us, daring us to notice, and so often we, poor overworked writers that we are? We are oblivious." Note: the first post in a week-long series. Read a Cynsations interview with Carrie.

Preparing for The Call by Tabitha Olson at Writer Musings. Peek: "The Call, with an offer of representation. Sometimes agents will send an email ahead of time, asking to schedule a phone call, and others will just call out of the blue. I experienced both, and my planning-oriented brain much preferred the scheduled phone call. Because you just can’t get your brain oriented properly for a spontaneous phone call."

When Characters Take Over by Brian Yansky from Brian's Blog. Peek: "Maybe it is just finding the place, the altered state, which allows you to access that part of the brain that makes intuitive leaps. Or maybe you’re connecting to a higher power, any higher power." Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Marvelous Marketer: Kaylan Adair (Assoc. Editor at Candlewick Press) from Shelli at Market My Words. Peek: "If an author has an online presence that I feel is lacking (maybe they have a blog they only update every few months) or inappropriate (perhaps the content of their website or blog isn't appropriate for their book audience), I'll discuss ways in which they can more effectively or appropriately manage their online presence."
The Winter Blog Blast Tour continues today, with several outstanding interviews. The whole series is highly recommended! Just to highlight a few faves to date, don't miss Mary E. Pearson, Laurie Faria Stolarz, and Laini Taylor.

Because my kid needs my shoulders, or why I don't quit writing by Pam Bachorz. Peek: "This book made me a real-life superhero in my son’s eyes. A superhero whose cape he can borrow." Read a Cynsations interview with Pam. Note: one of best links of the week, handy alert!

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!: How to Heighten Suspense from Gail Carson Levine. Peek: "Separation from the problem. Suppose your main character, Lucy, has an enemy, and suppose Lucy has to go on a class wilderness week. What is the enemy doing while she's away? What’s going to greet her on her return?" Source: Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Read a Cynsations interview with Gail.

The Irrepressible Writer
from Carol Grannick. Peek: "We all have to face negativity in our lives, but I love helping other writers use the time they have in the most productive ways they’re able, without feeling dragged down because of unnecessary and irrational negativity."

Congratulations to the Parent's Choice Award Winners! Special cheers to fellow VCFA faculty member Tim Wynne-Jones, author of The Uninvited (Candlewick, 2009)!

Interview with P.J. Hoover by Gretchen McNeil at The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: "For The Forgotten Worlds trilogy, I took a spark from one of my favorite 'Star Trek' episodes, 'Who Mourns For Adonis.' This was the episode where the Enterprise found Apollo on a planet, and he tried to make them worship him." Read a Cynsations interview with P.J. and Jessica Lee Anderson.

Booklover of the Week presents...Cathy Berner & Becky Lee from Kay Cassidy. Peek: "This week, I’m delighted to welcome not one but two great indie booksellers from Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas!"

Young Adult Science Fiction: A Reading Guide: a bibliography from Megan Crewe at Tor.com. See also Megan's YA fantasy guide.

Take a sneak peek at the Class of 2k10. Source: Denise Jaden.



Prairie Writer's Day

Thank you to author Sara F. Shacter and everyone at SCBWI-Illinois for your hospitality at the Fifth Annual Prairie Writer's Day: "Brick by Brick: The Architecture of Our Stories"!

Fellow faculty included agent Michael Stearns of Upstart Crow Literary Agency and editors Stacy Cantor of Walker, Nick Eliopulos of Random House, Alisha Niehaus of Dial, and Yolanda LeRoy of Charlesbridge. Read a Cynsations interview with Yolanda.

Here's Stacy again! Take note, Austinites! Stacy will be joining us for the upcoming Austin SCBWI conference in January. Register now before it sells out!


Author Kimberly Pauley author of Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe)(Mirrorstone, 2008). Read a Cynsations interview with Kimberly.


Author Cynthea Liu. Read a Cynsations interview with Cynthea. Check out her website--Writing for Children and Teens!


Huge thanks to author Sara F. Shacter, who is a fabulous public speaker! Learn about Sara's book, Heading to the Wedding (Red Rock, 2006)!

Author, speaker, and writing coach Esther Hershenhorn. Read a Cynsations interview with Esther.

Over Chicago deep dish pizza at Uno's Chicago Grill, Greg chats with Michael and Alisha. Don't miss Greg's report on the conference.

More Personally

Howdy to Ms. Craft's eighth graders! Thank you for your questions about Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), respectively! It was lovely corresponding with you!

Four Vampire Books Read This Weekend: Vamped by Lucienne Diver, How to Be a Vampire by Amy Gray, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey, and Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith: a recommendation/review wrap-up from The Sassy Librarian. Peek: "I was impressed by how different this book was to Tantalize - sometimes you like an author but their narrative voice is very similar between books (and that's okay) but Smith has the ability to really embody her characters and I'm appreciative."

Even More Personally

Congratulations to my alma mater, The University of Michigan Law School! According to Law Quadrangle, The William W. Cook Legal Research Library "was selected as one of the top 100 buildings, bridges, monuments, and memorials in a recent American Institute of Architects' public poll--ahead of Radio City Music Hall, Penn Station, and Fenway Park." Pictured above is the Reading Room.

Spooky Giveaways

In celebration of the Winter Blog Blast Tour, I'm offering a signed copy of any of my books (winner's choice) to one of the folks who thoughtfully comments at my WBBT interview and then emails me to let me know (so I have your contact information). Deadline: midnight CST Nov. 22. See: WBBT: Writing the True with Cynthia Leitich Smith: an interview by Vivian Lee Mahoney at HipWriterMama. Note: Check out my deep thoughts on my publishing background, writing across formats, Native youth literature, writing cross-culturally, girl power & Gothics, true love, and a myriad of other topics. Thanks to readergirlz for the shout out!

Enter to win a contributor-signed copy of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella, Oct. 2009)!

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Immortal" in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the name in the header; I'll contact you if you win). Deadline: midnight CST Nov. 30.

See also a PDF excerpt of Immortal which highlights my short story, "Haunted Love." The story is set in the same universe as Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and features new characters.

Spooky Events

Destination Publication: An Awesome Austin Conference for Writers and Illustrators is scheduled for Jan. 30 and sponsored by Austin SCBWI. Keynote speakers are Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson and Caldecott Honor author-illustrator Marla Frazee, who will also offer an illustrator breakout and portfolio reviews. Presentations and critiques will be offered by editor Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, author-editor Lisa Graff of FSG, agent Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Literary, agent Mark McVeigh of The McVeigh Agency, and agent Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Advanced critique break-out sessions will be led by editor Stacy Cantor of Bloomsbury. In addition, Cheryl and author Sara Lewis Holmes will speak on the editor-and-author relationship, and Marla and author Liz Garton Scanlon will speak on the illustrator-and-author relationship. Note: Sara and Liz also will be offering manuscript critiques. Illustrator Patrice Barton will offer portfolio reviews. Additional authors on the speaker-and-critique faculty include Jessica Lee Anderson, Chris Barton, Shana Burg, P.J. Hoover, Jacqueline Kelly, Philip Yates, Jennifer Ziegler. See registration form, information packet, and conference schedule (all PDF files)!

2010 Houston-SCBWI Conference is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2010, at the Merrell Center in Katy. Registration is now open. The faculty includes author Cynthia Leitich Smith, assistant editor Ruta Rimas of Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, creative director Patrick Collins of Henry Holt, senior editor Alexandra Cooper of Simon & Schuster, senior editor Lisa Ann Sandell of Scholastic, and agent Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WBBT: Writing the True with Cynthia Leitich Smith from HipWriterMama & CLS Book Giveaway

WBBT: Writing the True with Cynthia Leitich Smith: an interview by Vivian at HipWriterMama. Note: Check out my deep thoughts on my publishing background, writing across formats, Native youth literature, writing cross-culturally, girl power & Gothics, true love, and a myriad of other topics.

Peek: "I’m always vaguely flabbergasted by folks who begin as fantasists because the burden is so much higher. You have to succeed at all of the same elements as you do in realistic fiction and, at the same time, craft a resonant, integral, and internally consistent fantasy element."

Thank you, Vivian! See Vivian's previous WBBT interviews with Jacqueline Kelly and Megan Whalen Turner. See a listing of all of today's WBBT interviews from Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray. Note: being called a "literary firecracker" by Colleen totally made my week!

Spooky WBBT Giveaway

In celebration of the Winter Blog Blast Tour, I'm offering a signed copy of any of my books (winner's choice) to one of the folks who thoughtfully comments at my WBBT interview and then emails me to let me know (so I have your contact information). Deadline: midnight CST Nov. 22.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sanguine is Now Available in France

Sanguine (AKA Tantalize) is now available from Editions Intervista.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Spooky News & Giveaways

Reminder: Enter to win a contributor-signed copy of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella, Oct. 2009)! To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Immortal" in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the name in the header; I'll contact you if you win). Deadline: midnight CST Nov. 30. See also a PDF excerpt of Immortal which highlights my short story, "Haunted Love." The story is set in the same universe as Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and features new characters.

More News

Congratulations to author-illustrator Annette Simon for signing with literary agent Brenda Bowen and to Brenda for signing Annette!

The Writing Life by Sherryl Clark at Books and Writing. Peek: "You are on a journey that will never end as long as writing is your life. You will stumble, even fall. You will find others on the same journey at different times who will help you up. You will carry on with scabbed knees because the scars will also help make you a better writer." Source: Kristi Holl at Writer's First Aid.

Q&A with Bobbi Katz from Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: "We talk about what makes poetry different than prose: rhythm, frequent use of rhyme, and most important (and usually without using the formal terms) poetic devices such as metaphor, simile, and personification. We usually write collaborative list poems."

Crossing the country in search of a cure: Libba Bray's picaresque novel takes a new direction: interview by Gavin Grant from BookPage. Peek: "This 'temptation to drift off into solipsism' was what Bray wanted to investigate in Going Bovine (Delacorte, 2009)."

The Movement You Need Is On Your Shoulder by Christine Deriso at Crowe's Nest. Peek: "Think hard enough, rearrange your words enough, bolster your vocabulary enough, be willing to start from scratch enough, and you’ll eventually complete such an exacting writing task by feeling not that you’ve created something new, but that you’ve plucked an existing, exquisite star right out of the heavens. I love that feeling."

Kid/YA Books About Forgiveness from Mitali Perkins at Mitali's Fire Escape. Peek: "As the year comes to a close, I want to compile a list of novels published in 2009 for children and teenagers that illuminate the difficult task of restorative justice and forgiveness. Any suggestions?" Read a Cynsations interview with Mitali.

Help YA Author Janni Lee Simner Name Her Characters from Janni at Desert Dispatches. You may win a signed book! Deadline: late January, but earlier entries may have the advantage. Read a Cynsations interview with Janni.

The Writers' League of Texas welcomes new staff members Jan Baumer, Bethany Hegedus, and Kate Meehan. Note: "Established in 1981, the Writers' League of Texas is a nonprofit professional organization whose primary purpose is to provide a forum for information, support, and sharing among writers, to help members improve and market their writing skills, and to promote the interests of writers and the writing community. With approximately 1,500 members nationwide, we are composed of published and unpublished writers as well as those who recognize the written word as art and simply love to read." Note: see cute pics of the WLT staff below!

2009 Cybils Nominees: Fantasy/Science Fiction compiled by Sheila Ruth from Wands and Worlds. Note: a first-rate reading list for speculative fiction fans; I'm honored to see Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) in such amazing company.

An Interview with Alisa Libby by Pam B. Cole from ALAN Online. Peek: "Her first YA novel, The Blood Confession, is based on the life of Countess Bathory, a Hungarian countess who murdered young virgins and bathed in their blood, hoping their blood would preserve her youth. Her second YA novel, The King’s Rose, is a historical account of the life of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII."

Marvelous Marketer: Author Alyson Noel: an interview by Shelli at Market My Words. Peek: "...with books getting such a short shelf life these days, the best way to ensure yours books maintain their space is to keep ‘em coming, to build up a nice backlist for your readers to explore and for bookstores to reorder with each new release."

Vampires and Centaurs and Werewolves, Oh My!: An Interview with Francesca Lia Block by Jennifer Hubert Swan from VOYA (PDF). Peek: "I know for myself art has literally saved my life and I see it healing the lives of many of my readers and students. Love, art, and creative expression animate us and make us truly alive."

Spellbinders: "Three Young Adult Authors Publish a Monthly Newsletter for Teachers and Librarians to help create lifelong readers. Interviews, curriculum ideas, new book buzz, literacy in the community, and lots more!" November issue includes Kimberley Griffiths Little's peek at books that have attracted Printz Award Buzz. Note: subscribe to the Spellbinders mailing list.

Guest Post by Literary Agent Wendy Schmalz from Children's Author David L. Harrison. Peek: "For my entire career in publishing people have been predicting the death of books. First it was CD ROMS (Boy was everyone wrong about that one!). Now people predict e-books as the beginning of the end. I think it’s the beginning of an expansion of reading, especially for older middle grade and YA novels." Note: Learn more about Wendy from Publishers Marketplace.

Cover Stories: Vamped by Lucienne Diver from Melissa Walker at readergirlz. Peek: "I don't know if the girl on the Vamped cover was hired specifically for this photo shoot or whether the art department used a photo from their arsenal which they modified; hard to come by natural fangs, at least in a model that actually shows up on camera!" Read a Cynsations interview with Lucienne.

Fragmented? Or Focused? by Kristi Holl at Writer's First Aid. Peek: "I need to accept the fact that (except for the lessons and critique), none of the other things will get finished today. I need to make my to-do list reflect this, and yet move each project closer to completion."

When Is a Good Time to Submit? by Kim Norman at Stone Soup. Peek: "Well, here’s good news – about December and summer, anyway. Some big sales have happened during those months, so don’t be daunted by nay sayers." Read a Cynsations interview with Kim.

Austin Scene

Local childrens-YA literature lovers gathered at Mangia Pizza on Lake Austin Boulevard last week to celebrate authors Ellen Howard, a fellow faculty member of Vermont College of Fine Arts, and Austin's latest YA author, Bethany Hegedus, who recently moved to town from New York.

Ellen makes her home in Salem, Oregon, and her latest book, The Crimson Cap (Holiday House, 2009), is a historical novel set in Texas.


Jan Baumer is the new publicity & programming manager at the Writers' League of Texas, and Bethany is the new office manager.

Cyndi Hughes is the executive director of the League.


Bethany with author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell and author Lindsey Lane.


Authors Jessica Lee Anderson, Debbie Gonzales, and Greg Leitich Smith.


Author-illustrator Emma Virjan with Greg and the BookPeople BookKids' super staffers Mandy Brooks (kids events), Meghan Dietsche Goel (kids buyer), and Topher Bradfield (YA events).


Illustrators Mary Sullivan and Eric Kuntz.


Jill Sayre is a VCFA graduate who studied with Ellen.

VCFA student Meredith Davis with writer Erin Edwards and Jessica.

More Personally

Why Cynthia Leitich Smith Is So Awesome...: a post- Spooky Cynsational October Giveaway follow-up report by winner Courtney Lewis, Director of Libraries at Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School in northeastern Pennsylvania from The Sassy Librarian. Peek: "The coolest cover award goes to How to Be a Vampire: A Fangs-On Guide for the Newly Undead by Amy Gray (Candlewick, 2009)--what must the publisher have gone through to make one so cool?" Notes: (1) after a day of vexing revision, it was lovely to be greeted by that post headline; (2) see two Courtney's LAB members posing with their prize; (3) Courtney also includes some lovely thoughts about Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008); (4) it's so happy-making to see great books find a loving home!

Cynthia Leitich Smith on living in a multicultural world from Tu Publishing. Note: I talk about influences, my journalism background, favorite foods and new authors, world-building, writing cross-culturally and more. Peek: "To the extent possible, step into your fictional world. Walk the streets (or their models) that your characters walk, find wardrobes for them, sketch or identify a physical model for each."

Cynsational Events

Texas Book Festival 2009 Recap from YA author Jennifer Ziegler. Terrific pics, including a peek at one of Austin's smokin' hot children's-YA writer critique groups. Peek: "It was another beautiful fall day--the gentle breezes flowed, the trees rained down leaves, and book lovers of all ages came out in droves."

Destination Publication: An Awesome Austin Conference for Writers and Illustrators is scheduled for Jan. 30 and sponsored by Austin SCBWI. Keynote speakers are Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson and Caldecott Honor author-illustrator Marla Frazee, who will also offer an illustrator breakout and portfolio reviews. Presentations and critiques will be offered by editor Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, author-editor Lisa Graff of FSG, agent Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Literary, agent Mark McVeigh of The McVeigh Agency, and agent Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Advanced critique break-out sessions will be led by editor Stacy Cantor of Bloomsbury. In addition, Cheryl and author Sara Lewis Holmes will speak on the editor-and-author relationship, and Marla and author Liz Garton Scanlon will speak on the illustrator-and-author relationship. Note: Sara and Liz also will be offering manuscript critiques. Illustrator Patrice Barton will offer portfolio reviews. Additional authors on the speaker-and-critique faculty include Jessica Lee Anderson, Chris Barton, Shana Burg, P.J. Hoover, Jacqueline Kelly, Philip Yates, Jennifer Ziegler. See registration form, information packet, and conference schedule (all PDF files)!

2010 Houston-SCBWI Conference is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2010, at the Merrell Center in Katy. Registration is now open. The faculty includes author Cynthia Leitich Smith, assistant editor Ruta Rimas of Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, creative director Patrick Collins of Henry Holt, senior editor Alexandra Cooper of Simon & Schuster, senior editor Lisa Ann Sandell of Scholastic, and agent Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Spooky News & Immortal Giveaway

Enter to win a contributor-signed copy of Immortal: Love Stories with Bite, edited by P.C. Cast (BenBella, Oct. 2009)! This edition includes a new short story by Rachel Vincent. This vampire-themed YA anthology also includes short stories by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Kristin Cast, Rachel Caine, Tanith Lee, Nancy Holder, Richelle Mead, Rachel Vincent, and Claudia Gray.

Read a PDF excerpt which highlights my short story, "Haunted Love." The story is set in the same universe as Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) and Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and features new characters.

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Immortal" in the subject line (Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the name in the header; I'll contact you if you win). Deadline: midnight CST Nov. 30.

The winner of the Spooky Cynsational October giveaway was Courtney in Pennsylvania! Courtney won Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2009); Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors (Walker, 2009); Far From You by Lisa Schroeder (Simon Pulse, 2009); How to Be a Vampire: A Fangs-On Guide for the Newly Undead by Amy Gray (Candlewick, November 2009); Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (Harcourt, 2009); Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler (Simon Pulse, 2008); and Vamped by Lucienne Diver (Flux, 2009).

More News

SPELLBINDERS: Teacher/Librarian Newsletter: A Monthly Newsletter by three Children's/Young Adult authors (Carolee Dean, Kimberley Griffiths Little, Lois Ruby) to help teachers and librarians create lifelong readers. Peek: " Interviews, curriculum ideas, new book buzz, literacy in the community, and lots more!"

Marvelous Marketer: Wendy Loggia (Delacorte/RHCB) from Shelli at Market My Words. Peek: "Like most editors, the voice is what immediately hooks me. A fast-paced plot doesn’t hurt, either. Think women’s fiction—for teens, a la Sarah Dessen, Meg Cabot. Would like a great paranormal..."

Helping Those Who Talk Less Get Heard More: Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead from Mary Hershey at Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: "You also don't have to be an extrovert to do it well; instead, you can let your quiet strengths shine through and do it your way. This book is about helping you find your way. " See also My Comfort Zone (It's Actually Very Tiny) by Kristen Tracy at Crowe's Nest.

Book Review: Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd by Susan Carpenter from the Los Angeles Times. Peek: "The A-list writers are at the top of their game in this young-adult short story collection of all things nerdy." Note: Geektastic (Little, Brown) is edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci and includes my short story "The Wrath of Dawn," co-authored by Greg Leitich Smith.
Fixing a Stalled Career by Jessica at BookEnds, LLC — A Literary Agency. Peek: "Earning out your advance only matters to the publisher who paid the advance. What others are going to be interested in is your sales track record." Note: the agency specializes in "adult" literature, and you can't always transfer wisdom from adult to youth publishing, but this post offers global publishing insights that may prove helpful.

What Not to Do With Rejection by Tabitha Olson from Writer Musings: A place to ponder books, as well as how the words get on the page. Peek: "There is nothing wrong with having a personal reaction to a rejection. You just need to keep it personal and private."

Let's Get Sensual by Tami Lewis Brown at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "This week we'll explore sensory detail beyond the basics. How does the right sensory detail build voice? What effects can you create by describing smell, taste, touch, sound and the old standby what your point of view character sees? Do different readers perceive sensory detail differently? How do you avoid sensory overload?" Note: first in a week-long series of posts.

Mongoose Madness Classroom Contest from Bruce Hale. Peek: "You can win a virtual author visit (via Skype) with author Bruce Hale, or a classroom set of the Chet Gecko mysteries, or a paperback Chet Gecko mystery for everyone in your class." Deadline: midnight Nov. 13. See details. Read a Cynsations interview with Bruce.

Mean Girls in YA Lit: a multi-voice discussion at Chasing Ray. From contributor Margo Rabb: "As an adult, it's usually fairly easy to brush off criticisms and avoid people who you don't get along with. As a teen, the tiniest comment from an insensitive girl or boy can send you into a tailspin, and you may remember it for the rest of your life."

Stories from Candor: Episode One: Poised: a podcast from author Pam Bachorz to tie into Candor (Egmont, 2009). In this new series of audio podcasts, listen to the secret diary of Campbell Banks as he builds Candor, Florida. In this episode, Campbell discusses last-minute preparations for the first people to move into Candor, including how he'll prepare his own family for moving from Chicago. He also shares details on how he'll brainwash his town's new residents. Note: so far six total podcast episodes have been released. Read a Cynsations interview with Pam.

More Personally

Please note that I'm on revision deadline and wait on sending all non-essential messages until further notice--thanks!

Guest Post: Cynthia Leitich Smith from readergirlz. Peek: "how should I weigh the need to convey a contemporary setting with the risk of dating the book too quickly?" See also Little Willow at Slayground on Getting Dated or Not.

Let Your Inner Werewolf Out: recommended reads, including Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007), by Barbara Bell from the San Jose Examiner. See also recommended children's-YA books with Native American themes, also from Barbara at the Examiner (scroll for list).

Even More Personally

I graduated with a B.S.J. from the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. Here's a peek from a proud Jayhawk! Peek: "KU's main campus in Lawrence, Kansas occupies 1,000 acres on and around historic Mount Oread in Lawrence, a community of more than 80,000 in the forested hills of eastern Kansas." Note: I'm also a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.



Cynsational Events

SCBWI-Illinois' Fifth Annual Prairie Writer's Day: Brick by Brick: The Architecture of Our Stories will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 14 at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. Speakers include: Stacy Cantor, associate editor at Walker; Nick Eliopulos, associate editor at Random House; T.S. Ferguson, assistant editor at Little, Brown; Yolanda LeRoy, editorial director at Charlesbridge; Cynthia Leitich Smith, award-winning author and Vermont College of Fine Arts faculty member; and Michael Stearns, agent and co-founder of Upstart Crow Literary.

Destination Publication: An Awesome Austin Conference for Writers and Illustrators is scheduled for Jan. 30 and sponsored by Austin SCBWI. Keynote speakers are Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson and Caldecott Honor author-illustrator Marla Frazee, who will also offer an illustrator breakout and portfolio reviews. Presentations and critiques will be offered by editor Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, author-editor Lisa Graff of FSG, agent Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Literary, agent Mark McVeigh of The McVeigh Agency, and agent Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Advanced critique break-out sessions will be led by editor Stacy Cantor of Bloomsbury. In addition, Cheryl and author Sara Lewis Holmes will speak on the editor-and-author relationship, and Marla and author Liz Garton Scanlon will speak on the illustrator-and-author relationship. Note: Sara and Liz also will be offering manuscript critiques. Illustrator Patrice Barton will offer portfolio reviews. Additional authors on the speaker-and-critique faculty include Jessica Lee Anderson, Chris Barton, Shana Burg, P.J. Hoover, Jacqueline Kelly, Philip Yates, Jennifer Ziegler. See registration form, information packet, and conference schedule (all PDF files)!

2010 Houston-SCBWI Conference is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2010, at the Merrell Center in Katy. Registration is now open. The faculty includes author Cynthia Leitich Smith, assistant editor Ruta Rimas of Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, creative director Patrick Collins of Henry Holt, senior editor Alexandra Cooper of Simon & Schuster, senior editor Lisa Ann Sandell of Scholastic, and agent Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

New Voice: Joy Preble on Dreaming Anastasia

Joy Preble is the first-time author of Dreaming Anastasia (Sourcebooks, 2009). From the promotional copy:

Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't.

Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.

In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman.

The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams...


What were you like as a young reader, and how did that influence the book that you’re debuting this year?

Not surprisingly, I devoured books as a child. I was a bookish little girl--so much so that my parents eventually gave up trying to stop me from reading at the dinner table and just let me bring a book to sit next to me or in my lap at all times. (That habit has stuck – I honestly feel a little ill at ease if I'm eating without something to read)

As for my reading tastes, I was pretty much an omnivore; fiction, biography, back of the cereal box...it didn't much matter.

That being said, I am not at all surprised that my muse delivered the seeds for Dreaming Anastasia into my brain as a somewhat cross genre fantasy/romance/alternate history/grrl power-ish reverse fairy tale.

I suppose it is what comes of reading a steady diet of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (1962), Nancy Drew mysteries (1930-), Andrew Lang's Fairy Books (1889-1910), some of the Narnia books [by C. S. Lewis (HarperCollins, 1949-1954), the Oz books [by L. Frank Baum (George M. Hill, 1900-)], Edgar Eager's Half Magic and Eleanor Estes' The Witch Family and old biographies of kick ass women like Nellie Bly and Babe Didrickson Zaharias.

It is no surprise that I grew up wanting my female heroes strong and funny and willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

And okay, I know this question doesn't really ask this, but I also have to say that the potent combination of all of those works added to the more recent cultural influence of The Almighty Whedonverse absolutely assured that I would create a first novel that has many powerful female characters, including but not limited to an ordinary high school junior, a not-so-dead princess, and even Baba Yaga, the legendary Russian folklore witch.

As a fantasy writer, going in, did you have a sense of how events/themes in your novel might parallel or speak to events/issues in our real world? Or did this evolve over the course of many drafts?

I think any novel evolves over the course of its drafts. Or at least this one did!

Thematically, I think that once I'd created my protagonist Anne--because it was her voice that actually came to me first--I knew that at the very least I'd be writing the classic journey tale.

Girl thinks her life is ordinary; handsome stranger tells her "nope, not so much ordinary." More crazy power with ensuing wackiness. Girl embarks on mission to save someone, and stuff happens that she never quite expected.

That was probably always my plan in one form or another--that I would take this girl and throw fantastic obstacles at her and a really hot guy and all sorts of other stuff and see how she reacts. But beyond that, a couple of things really did evolve in unexpected ways for me.

One was that once you resolve to write a story about the possibility of changing history, you realize that to some degree you're writing a form of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818, 1831). That is--just because you might be able to do something (build your own man; stop a seventeen-year-old girl from being murdered)--doesn't necessarily mean you should. And the slippery moral slope that results from the attempt has this huge ripple effect.

So suddenly, I had a story that wasn't just playful "what if." It was darker and more serious and more thoughtful.

And certainly that is something very universal, whether we're talking about bio-ethical issues such as stem-cell usage or transplants or cloning, or more fanciful stuff like what if Anastasia really wasn't quite so dead.

The other theme that evolved as I began to weave in Russian folkloric elements was this amazing duality of my characters. Particularly the witch Baba Yaga, both in classic storytelling and in Dreaming Anastasia, is a character who is very hard to pin down.

As Anne's friend Tess actually asks somewhere in the middle of the story, "Is she a good witch or a bad witch?" Honestly, she's a little of both, which is about all I'll give away.

Again, I think that has very universal application. We live in complicated times. Lots of gray areas. And I loved that I was able to play with that in many, many ways during the course of the story, both with my good guys and my villains.

Cynsational Notes

The New Voices Series is a celebration of debut authors of 2009. First-timers may also be featured in more traditional author interviews over the course of the year.