Friday, March 12, 2010

Spooky News

Speculative Fiction

"New-Fashioned" Fantasy: What Does It Look Like? by Kate Coombs from The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: "What does today's fantasy look like, and how is it different from the work of decades past? I put my head together with the Inkies, and here are some of the things we came up with..."

How Quickly Will the World Degrade by P.J. Hoover from The Spectacle. Peek: "As for the time when the book is set, what particularly works for me is what I estimate to be the accuracy in how far the world has declined in this amount of time." Read an interview with P.J. and Jessica Lee Anderson.

What In the World is Steampunk After All? from The Book Smuggler. Peek: "Yes, there are some basics with which most people agree: usually steam-power is still used, and is set mostly in a Victorian-like world. This is definitely the 'Steam' part. The 'Punk' part or the other parts that makes it gravitate towards..."

Science Fiction and the Frame of Technology by Paul Woodlin. Discusses the six basic representations of technology. Peek: "While SF should explore the potential dangers of technology, it should be very careful, more careful than many writers (especially script writers) are, to not cross the line into being anti-science. It is scientific wonder that is at the heart of SF." See also Science Fiction and Time Frames and Science Fiction and Frames of Mind: Space.

Youth Literature

Young adult lit comes of age: Authors may gear their novels toward the junior and senior high crowd, but adults are snapping up the books, often about misfit teens or fantasy worlds. By Susan Carpenter of the Los Angeles Times. Peek: "'Even as the recession has dipped publishing in general, young adult has held strong,'" said David Levithan, editorial director and vice president of Scholastic..."


Denouement AKA Moment of Reckoning by Brian Yansky from Brian's Blog - Writer Talk. Peek: "Everything should have been leading the reader to this moment." Read a Cynsations interview with Brian.

Outlining No Fun? Try Storysaurus! by Jamie Harrington from Totally the Bomb. Peek: "...he used the storysaurus. He was a dinosaur with spikes on his back. Each spike represented a chapter, and his whole body represented the story’s main plot." Check out the diagram! See also storysaurus apparel. Source: E. Kristin Anderson.

Beware! Burnout Ahead by Kristi Holl from Writer's First Aid. Peek: "Having a healthy drive is good, but letting yourself be driven-–by others or your own inner critic–-will eventually ruin the joy you originally brought to your writing."

Attention: Writers World Wide: "Vermont College of Fine Arts is authorized under federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students." The VCFA MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults now welcomes applications from international students. See more information. Note: students, alumni, and other friends of the school are encouraged to pass on this great news! Please include the quoted material--per law.

Having What It Takes by Eric from Pimp My Novel. Peek: "You can be the most talented writer in the world and still utterly fail as a professional author if you don't maintain a writing schedule and treat your writing like a business as well as an art form." Source: Elizabeth Scott.

Five Reasons Writers Get Stuck by Martha Alderson from Plot Whisperer for Readers and Writers. Peek: "The rhythm of story telling is in all of us right now, especially for those of us who were read to as youngsters and continue to read fiction today." Source: Anna Staniszewski.


Interview with Editorial Director Stacy Whitman of Tu Books/Lee & Low by Ellen Oh from The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: "Our mission remains the same—to acquire great fantasy and SF titles for children and young adults that feature diverse characters and settings. The biggest change is that we’ll have more resources to accomplish our mission."

Ten Rules for Query Letters by Maggie Stiefvater from Words on Words. Peek: "Agents are people too. More importantly, they are not just any people, they are readers. So guess what -- the thing that makes you pick up a book is what makes an agent pick up a book. So therefore..." Read a Cynsations interview with Maggie.

Carolrhoda Lab: new imprint "dedicated to distinctive, provocative, boundary-pushing fiction for teens and their sympathizers." See media release (PDF). Read a Cynsations interview with Andrew.

On Referrals from Waxman Literary Agency. Peek: "This is not a referral: An agent's client who you know on Twitter/blogs/writer’s group, but who has not offered to put you in touch with his or her agent." Source: Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent.

An Interview with Senior Editor Kate Harrison of Dial Books by Nancy Sondel from the Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop. Peek: "My notes are always only meant to be a jumping off point, to make an author think about why something may not be working. The best revisers take those notes and come up with their own solutions." Note: see more on the workshop below!

Michael Pietsch, the executive vice president and a publisher at Little, Brown and Company, Outlines Publishing Future by Jacqueline Small from The Phoenix ("the independent campus newspaper of Swarthmore College since 1881"). Peek: "...because physical books have a great deal of sentimental value, and because digitalization does not improve the reading experience, he expects that they will continue to coexist with electronic books “for a long period in the future." Source: Laura Sibson.

Submitting a Partial by Jessica from BookEnds, LLC. - A Literary Agency. Peek: "Since most agents are reading on ereaders these days I find it helpful, and I do know other agents agree with me, to have a copy of the cover letter submitted with the attached partial."

Self-Published E-books? The horror! The horror! by Michael Stearns from Upstart Crow. Peek: "I’ve borne witness to the fruits of self-publication, and I can testify to you all that it is no threat to books from publishers. It’s the opposite in fact, and some kind of spectacular ugly."

New Critique Service from The Texas Sweethearts & Editor Critique

New Critique Service from the Texas Sweethearts. Peek: "...strive to be honest in critiques above all else. We believe within each manuscript there is a treasure chest, and we are committed to doing what we can to help find the key to unlock the treasure inside." Note: the Texas Sweethearts are authors Jo Whittemore, P.J. "Tricia" Hoover, and Jessica Lee Anderson.

Editor Critique: editor "Madeline Smoot of Blooming Tree Press AKA The Buried Editor at Buried in the Slush Pile, has kindly offered up a critique. She will critique a query letter and ten pages for one lucky winner." To enter, follow the Texas Sweethearts blog and comment on this post. Deadline: March 28. Note: in the photo above, Madeline visits with Austin writer Erin Edwards.

Congratulations to Tricia on her Five-Star Gold Award for The Navel of the World (CBAY, 2009) from Teens Read Too! Peek: "The world that was created – Lemuria – was so cool. What was even better about Lemuria was that it felt real. You could hear the footsteps on the path and the bell jingling when the characters walked into a shop."

See also Shrinking Violet Ideas in Action: The Texas Sweethearts from Shrinking Violet Promotions: Marketing for Introverts. Peek: "...your individual fanbase multiplies when you’re in a group. Yes, there will be overlap with common friends and organizations, but there will also be plenty of social circles that intersect at just one writer (picture a Venn diagram)."

The Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop

Eighth Annual Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop will be Aug. 20 to Aug. 22 at Pajaro Dunes' private beachfront facility near Santa Cruz, California. Intensive, team-taught seminar for 30 savvy and/or published writers of character-driven youth novels, "active observers," and teen readers and writers.

Faculty includes Kate Harrison, senior editor, Dial Books/Penguin; Ted Malawer (agent, Upstart Crow Literary); and author-consultant Laura Backes, publisher of Children’s Book Insider. See an interview with Kate.

Teen enrollees will be led by YA author Liz Gallagher (author interview).

The weekend theme is "A Novelist’s Toolkit: Architecture, Archetypes, and Arcs." Focus on craft as a marketing tool; 90 percent hands-on. Open critique clinics AKA master classes, are enhanced by interactive pre-workshop assignments.

Deadline: for the most critique options and lowest fees, apply by April 10 or ASAP. (Limited enrollment may be open through July.) More info on teen and adult programs: contact Director Nancy Sondel:

Cynsational Screening Room

In the video below, meet Lauren Kate, author of Fallen (Delacorte, 2009). Read a Cynsations interview with Lauren.

Back by popular demand: the Origami Yoda video! Note: teachers read the book aloud, and try this with your class! Read the story behind the story of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Amulet, 2010) from Tom Angleberger.

Austin Scene

Newly announced Austin SCBWI ARA Carmen Oliver with fellow member Jerri Romine.

Austin SCBWI RA Debbie Gonzales with founding RA Meredith Davis.

YA author Brian Yansky.

Author Julie Lake.

Austin 2010 debut author Lisa Railsback! Look for Noonie's Masterpiece, illustrated by Sarajo Frieden (Chronicle)!

More Personally

In Conversation with Cynthia Leitich Smith by Bethany Hegedus from Hunger Mountain. Topics include debuting on the New York Times list, Multiculturalism 3.0, future books, the influence of Bram Stokers' Dracula (1897) and girl heroes. Peek: "I’d be surprised if [Sherman] Alexie sat down to write [The Absolutely True Diary of a] Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown, 2007) with any curriculum connections in mind. I suspect folks who asked when I’d write a Trail of Tears novel never thought I'd grow into a Gothic fantasist."

New Vampires in Town from Early Word: The Publisher / Librarian Connection. Highlights recent New York Times best-sellers Eternal (Candlewick), Heather Brewer's Vladimir Tod series (Dutton), and Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Delacorte). Note: Carrie's book features zombies, not vampires, and Eternal features shapeshifters and angels in addition to vampires.

Book Review: Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith by Stacy & Shannan from Girls in the Stacks. Peek: "Yes, this book is a love story, but it is so much more. It is a story of choices, good versus evil, redemption and grace. The ending is poetic, heartfelt and definitely enduring." See also a video interview with Becca Fitzpatrick and an audio interview with Carrie Jones from Girls in the Stacks.

Interview: Cynthia Leitich Smith by Stacy & Shannan from Girls in the Stacks. Peek: "Like Miranda, as a teen, I loved to read fantasy, was sometimes overshadowed by my best friend, and longed for the courage to try out for the school play. I also lived for a while in both Dallas (her hometown) and Chicago (where much of Eternal takes place)."

Attention Event Planners: I'm book solid for the spring 2010 semester, but I still have some availability for the fall. Contract Jean Dayton at Dayton Bookings with queries.

It delighted me to apply an Austin cityscape to my LiveJournal.

Even More Personally

It's been an exciting couple of weeks as Eternal debuted at #5 on the New York Times paperback list and, I learned yesterday, will stay on for another week at #8! Thanks again to all for your continued enthusiasm and support!

I'm especially excited about the second list because it also includes The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum). Kathi was my own children's writing teacher, and now we're friends and colleagues at the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Regular Cynsations readers may recall that we hosted a joint event in celebration of these books last spring at BookPeople in Austin.

These flowers were sent by family.

And these were presented to me by Austin SCBWI ARA Carmen Oliver at our monthly meeting last weekend at BookPeople.

Here's more on The Underneath and some writing advice from Kathi, courtesy of Simon & Schuster:

Cynsational Giveaways
In celebration of the release of Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (Hyperion, 2010), enter to win a Hex Hall T-shirt (size small, medium, or large)! To enter, just email me, message me or comment me with "Hex Hall" in the subject line. Deadline: March 31. Note: U.S. entries only. Read a Cynsations interview with Rachel.

The winners of Token of Darkness by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Delacorte, 2010) were Amenda in Texas, Pamela in Georgia, Naseoul in Texas, Tashia in Michigan, and Jami in Florida. Read a guest post by Amelia on world building.

Cynsational Events

Joint release party - YA authors Varian Johnson and April Lurie will be featured in a joint book signing at 2 p.m. March 27 at BookPeople in Austin. Varian will be signing Saving Maddie, and April will be signing The Less-Dead (both Delacorte, 2010). Read a Cynsations interview with April.

"Lighting the Way to Literacy:" 2010 conference of the Illinois Reading Council March 18 to March 20 in Springfield. Look for me there! Note: additional featured authors include Joan Bauer, Andrew Clements, Will Hobbs, Eric A. Kimmel, Gail Carson Levine, Pam Munoz Ryan, Sarah Weeks, and David Wiesner. See program (PDF).

Oklahoma SCBWI Spring Conference will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 27 at Embassy Suites Hotel (1815 S. Meridian) in Oklahoma City. Faculty includes: editor Amy Lennex, Sleeping Bear Press; editor Greg Ferguson, Egmont USA; associate editor Kate Fletcher, Candlewick; Stephen Fraser, Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency; and senior designer (art director) Kerry Martin, Clarion. See registration form, information on writers' and illustrators' critiques, and more. Note: registration closes March 23.

The Greater Houston Teen Book Convention is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 10 at Alief Taylor High School, and admission is free! Speakers include keynoter Sharon Draper and Cynthia Leitich Smith.

The Texas Library Association Annual Conference will be April 14 to April 17 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. Note: I'll be speaking from 1 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. on the "A Conversation Between Books and Technology" panel with Jay Asher, Corey Doctorow, Maureen Johnson, and Jude Watson. Then I'll sign books from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. See a schedule of Austin authors at TLA.

Release party - author Chris Barton will celebrate Shark v. Train, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Little Brown, 2010) at 1 p.m. April 24 at BookPeople in Austin. Read a Cynsations interview with Chris.

Moments of Change: the New England SCBWI Conference will take place May 14 to May 16 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. See conference schedule, workshop descriptions, manuscript critique guidelines, and special conference offerings. See faculty bios. Note: I'm honored to be participating as a keynote speaker!

"The Misadventures of a Manuscript: How to Write a Viable Story, with Literary Agent Scott Treimel of S©ott Treimel NY," hosted by the Writers' League of Texas, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 14 at First Presbyterian Church (5300 Main Street) in Houston. Note: "Top children's literary agent S©ott Treimel NY receives hundreds of queries and submissions each month, and he asks to see partial manuscripts of only 5 percent of those. In this workshop, you'll learn directly from him the answer the question: What's wrong with the other 95 percent? $99 members / $169 nonmembers." Register here.

"Kid Lit: How to Break in to the Children's Market, with Literary Agent Scott Treimel of S©ott Treimel NY, hosted by the Writers' League of Texas, is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. May 15 in Austin. Note: "In this workshop, renowned children's agent Scott Treimel will cover the ins and outs of the children's and young adult publishing world. $99 members / $169 nonmembers." Register here.

Master Class/Writing Salon Event Details from Austin SCBWI. Peek: A Master Class/Writing Salon for the advanced writer, led by author Carol Lynch Williams, will be held May 15 at the Ranch House at Teravista in Round Rock, Texas. The cost is $80. Read a Cynsations interview with Carol.

2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop is scheduled for June 14 to June 18 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah. Peek: "Full-day participants spend their mornings in small workshops led by award-winning faculty. Both full- and half-day participants enjoy afternoon plenary sessions by national children's book editors and an agent, as well as breakout sessions by our workshop faculty and guest presenters. The keynote address and book signing are open to all conference attendees." See faculty.