Friday, April 09, 2010

Ming Doyle to Illustrate Tantalize: Kieren's Story by Cynthia Leitich Smith


I'm thrilled to announce that Ming Doyle is in the process of illustrating the interior art for my upcoming graphic novel, Tantalize: Kieren's Story (Candlewick, Feb. 2011).

The graphic novel is set during the same time as the Tantalize prose novel (Candlewick, 2007, 2008), is told from the character Kieren Morales's point of view, and includes several new scenes.

My editor was kind enough to share with me Ming's early sketches, and wow! What a treat to see Quincie, Kieren, Brad, and Sanguini's: A Very Rare Restaurant brought to life. Ming absolutely "gets" the world and its players while bringing her own fresh energy and perspective.

According to her bio, Ming is originally from Boston, the daughter of an Irish American sailor and a Chinese Canadian librarian. She's a 2007 graduate of Cornell with a dual concentration in painting and drawing. She says, "I am currently working on art all night and every day. I would probably love an espresso."

Visit Ming's site and she was like, (her LJ).

Check out this terrific artlapse video showing Ming in action.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Spooky News & Giveaways

Enter to win Vampireology: A Genuine and Moste Authentic Ology (Candlewick, 2010)! From the promotional copy:

Long before the term vampire was born, long before Bram Stoker fictionalized this being’s ways, blood-drinking demons were banished to Earth by Michael’s host of Angels, or so the Bible describes.

Now this rich, mesmerizing resource, written in 1900, sheds light on what happened hence to the three vampire bloodlines -- especially the tortured souls known as the Belial. Interspersed are booklets, flaps, and letters between a young paranormal researcher who discovered the book in the 1920s and an oddly alluring woman who seeks his help. Among the phenomena explored are:

* vampires’ genealogical origins, attributes, and range

* myths about the making of vampires

* secrets of vampires’ powers and shape-shifting skills

* tips for spotting vampires, protecting oneself, and fighting back

* case studies of famous vampires -- and vampire hunters -- through history

* a shocking overview of vampires "living" among us

Explore (if you dare) the true history of the Fallen Ones -- and follow the fate of a 1920s investigator lured by a beauty with violet eyes.


To enter the giveaway, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Vampireology" in the subject line. Facebook, JacketFlap, MySpace, and Twitter readers are welcome to just privately message me with the title in the header or comment on this round-up; I'll write you for contact information, if you win. Deadline: midnight CST April 30. Note: U.S. entries only.

Cynsational Winners

The winners of Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (Knopf, 2010) are Karen in California, Jennifer in Wyoming, and Kristen in Oregon. Read a guest post by Margo on Short Stories and Novels - Different Animals, Different Taming Techniques.

The winners of the T-shirt tie in to Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (Hyperion, 2010) are Lauren in Pennsylvania and Jude in Massachusetts. Both winners also will receive a copy of the novel! Read a Cynsations interview with Rachel.

More News & Giveaways

The dark heart of modern fairytales: A slew of recent literary fiction with young adult protagonists is at last restoring fairytales' socially subversive origins from The Guardian. Peek: "The world of the other, of gods and demons, fairies and tricks, is there to teach us about this world, the world of families, houses, love and hate, happiness and sorrow." Source: @mitaliperkins.

Writers and Technology: a new blog by Anindita Basu Sempere. Peek: "This blog is a space in which to explore the relationship between writers and technology, covering everything from software for writers to new forms of storytelling."

Read Alikes: Ecological Disasters by Karin Librarian from Karin's Book Nook. Peek: "I love disaster movies/books. My favorite movie is 'The Day After Tomorrow' and I’m always up for a new book that throws me in a world of death and destruction."

In the Past or Present by Tabitha Olson from Writer Musings. Peek: "To have a completely effective story told in present tense, the characters must be in the moment, not the author."

"It Suddenly Dawned on Her": Improving Your Character Epiphanies by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: "The term 'epiphany' was originally a religious term referring to the physical appearance of a deity. In fiction, it’s the point at which truth appears before a character; the character learns or understands something." Read a Cynsations interview with Darcy.

M.T. Anderson: new official author website. Includes insights from M.T. on his books, the text of several of his speeches, including On The Intelligence of Teens. Peek: "...the one thing which still causes people pause – the final hurdle – the last frontier – the one element which still gets a few adult readers up in arms about whether a book is appropriate for kids – is intelligence." Read a Cynsations interview with M.T.

Co-op Redux
by Eric from Pimp My Novel. Peek: "In a digital environment, you won't have front-of-store promotions, aisle endcaps, or tables of discounted titles; instead, you'll have banner ads, e-couponing (those of you who subscribe to the Barnes & Noble or Borders coupon e-mails will be familiar with these), front-page splashes and placement..." Source: Elizabeth Scott. See also All About Co-op from Nathan Bransford.

Sonia Gensler: a new official site from the author of The Revenant (Knopf, 2011). Note: this author lives in Oklahoma and has a cat. Both good signs.

Thoughts on Writing: The Very First You by Seanan McGuire. Peek: "While I am happy to allow that you can definitely style yourself after someone, I don't think that anyone can be the next insert-name-here."

Author/Illustrator Reminder: you may own the copyright to your book, but you don't own it to reviews published about it. Do not republish them online (or elsewhere) without permission. Keep quotes short, attribute, and link to the source.

What Makes a Science Fiction/Fantasy Book YA? by Peni R. Griffin from Idea Garage Sale. Peek: "If the bearded wise man wears a lab coat, it's science fiction, even if there's no scientific justification for what he does. If he wears a robe, it's fantasy, even if the things he does are rooted in theoretical physics." Read a Cynsations interview with Peni.

Author/Illustrator Tip: when presenting with others on a panel or at a reading, be gracious, mindful, and respectful of everyone's time with the microphone. You'll be more fondly remembered by your peers and the event planner, if you do.

Jennifer Laughran, Agent Extraordinaire: an interview by Margie Gelbwasser. Peek: "I would love some funny wonderful classic-feeling Middle Grade fiction, like The Penderwicks [by Jeanne Birdsall] or Andrew Clements. It is extremely hard to write. " Read a Cynsations interview with Jennifer.

How Much Can You Take? by Kristi Holl from Writer's First Aid. Peek: "...you need to block out what you read about 'overnight successes' in the publishing business."

Naming Your Characters by Alex Flinn. Peek: "Characters who are outsiders or who defy trends get names that reflect that, unusual names." Read a Cynsations interview with Alex.

YALITCHAT by Kelly Hashway from Kelly Hashway's Books. Peek: "I originally thought Twitter was a place for people to post all the mundane details of their day, and yes some people do this. However, I only follow agents and other writers, and the ones I follow tend to tweet about useful things."

10 Book Design Terms Explained by Carol Brendler from Jacket Knack. Peek: "Foil: 'A metallic or pigmented coating on plastic sheets or rolls used in foil stamping and foil embossing.'"

Attention Traditionally Trade-Published Texas Children's-YA Authors & Illustrators: please check your listings on the immediately previously linked page and let me know if you have any corrections/added. Please note that the page is updated monthly. Thanks!

Reminder: this week Cynsations featured new voice Y.S. Lee on The Agency: A Spy in the House (Candlewick, 2010)("what happened to smart, unconventional women in the period. If you weren't a good little girl, and you didn’t have a lot of money, what on earth happened to you?").

Cynsational Screening Room

Check out the book trailer for Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware by M.T. Anderson, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus (Simon & Schuster). See also Jasper Dash Desktop Wallpapers.



Check out the book trailer for White Cat by Holly Black (The Curse Workers)(McElderry, 2010).



Check out the book trailer for Mistwood by Leah Cypess (Greenwillow, April 27, 2010).



Check out the latest trailer, featuring upcoming releases, from The Tenners:



In case you haven't heard, there's this series about a boy named Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic). Source: Cool Kids Read.



From Teen Librarian Adriana Melgoza

Attention YA Authors: "This summer teens at the Alhambra Civic Center Library will be invited to participate in a unique reading program called 'Making a Difference @Your Library.' We hope to encourage teens to actively participate in events that will inspire them to make a difference in their community. Part of our incentives will of course be books, so we are asking young adult authors who can spare a copy of their books (signed is better!) to please donate one to our cause. The teens and the staff at the Alhambra Library greatly appreciate all your help!" Note: "We will be running publicity in the city's community events newspaper, "Around Alhambra," and will be sure include author's names/books in our summer reading flyers and print material." Mailing address: Alhambra Civic Center Library; Attn: Adriana Melgoza; 101 S. First St.; Alhambra, CA 91801.

More Personally

What fun I had at the salon party for Maddie's Purple Party at Embellish Nails & Boutique in Westlake, Texas, in celebration of the release of Saving Maddie by Varian Johnson (Delacorte, 2010).

Our hostess was Varian's wife Crystal.

She created an amazing tie-in scrapbook for the novel.

And served cake!

Here, Crystal gives one of many purple scarves (we all got one) to Cyndi Hughes, director of the Writers' League of Texas.

We also all had manicures with purple nail polish. Here's Vanessa.

And Jo Whittemore. April Lurie and Frances Yansky are farther down.

Mary Baker of Embellish did a first-rate job.

Check out Donna Bowman Bratton's purple stylings.

And Julie Lake's.

Shalou looks at the scrapbook.

Then Varian himself arrived to join the festivities.

He chatted with the ladies.

Cake was served.

And everyone showed off their nails.

You see what I mean.

Did Varian himself get a manicure? I'll never say.

But Debbie Gonzales won the big giveaway drawing.

The rest of us received goodies, too!

Take a peek!

Then on Saturday, the action moved to BookPeople, where Varian threw a joint launch party with April Lurie.

Didn't they look nice?

Check out their books!

And cover art cake!

Crystal shoots some photos.

Tim Crow visits with Meredith Davis.

Jo shows off her new release, Front Page Face-Off (Aladdin, 2010), April's The Less-Dead, and Varian's Saving Maddie (both Delacorte, 2010). See also Coffee Break Tuesday with Jo Whittemore from Debbi Michiko Florence.

The featured authors interviewed each other.

Lindsey Lane and Greg Leitich Smith.

Frances and Brian Yansky visit with Margo Rabb.

The famous Delacorte Dames and Dude--April, Bethany Hegedus, Varian, Jenny Ziegler, and Margo.

In other news, highlights of the week included receiving these books from Richard Van Camp. Read an interview with Richard Van Camp by Judith Saltman from Papertigers. Peek: "Family, identity, culture, and the essential question: "What does it mean to be Dogrib?" I was raised away from the Dogribs because my parents were taxidermists in Forth Smith.... So, because I'm half White and half Dogrib, family and identity are recurring themes in my writing."

Even More Personally

I spent much of the week reviewing sketches for the Tantalize graphic novel, and now I'm back on deadline for the final round on Blessed (both Candlewick).

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith by Brigid Gorry-Hines from Cafe Skill. Peek: "I was geeky—very into comic books and 'Star Wars,' which I saw over 300 times. I drove a red 1968 Mustang Coupe. I miss that car."

In Which Kaz Reads Stuff by Karen Mahoney. Peek: "If you love vampires and werewolves but are getting a little tired of the same-old, same-old, give Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) a shot."

Cynsational Events

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!

Friday, April 02, 2010

New Voice: Y. S. Lee on The Agency: A Spy in the House

Y. S. Lee is the first-time author of The Agency: A Spy in the House (The Agency Trilogy: Book One)(Candlewick, 2010)(excerpt). From the promotional copy:

Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners -- and an unusual vocation.

Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test.

Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust -- or is there?

Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets -- including those of her own past.

Introducing an exciting new series! Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this diverting mystery trails a feisty heroine as she takes on a precarious secret assignment.


How did you approach the research process for your story? What resources did you turn to? What roadblocks did you run into? How did you overcome them? What was your greatest coup, and how did it inform your manuscript?

I’m supposed to be an expert on the Victorian era. But while researching my PhD thesis, I realized I didn't know much about daily life in the 1850s.

Take the Great Stink of 1858, for example. We know the bare facts: toilets flushed right into the Thames, and Londoners pumped the water straight back out for cooking and bathing. People thought the smell made you sick – not germs. And future prime minister Benjamin Disraeli fled the House of Commons one day with a handkerchief over his nose, so evil was the stench.

Juicy, right?

But vivid as they are, these facts don’t tell what it was like in individual houses; for people who lived and worked and walked around the city every day; for those who lived beside the river. This squelchy, sticky reality is the Victorian period you don’t read about in nineteenth-century novels or diaries, and that’s why I chose the Great Stink as the backdrop for Spy.

However, I didn’t want to write an entire novel about sewage; for one thing, it’s hard to identify with it as a character. And I also wondered what happened to smart, unconventional women in the period. If you weren't a good little girl, and you didn’t have a lot of money, what on earth happened to you?

Women’s choices were grim, even for the clever. You could be a governess (underpaid, powerless – look at Jane Eyre, and remember that’s a happily-ever-after story!). You could live with your rich relatives as a semi-servant (Jane Austen has a lot to say about that). You could try for a job as a clerk (and earn half what the man next to you did, for doing the same work – some things haven’t changed that much).

And to do any of these jobs, you had to be respectable, educated, and extremely long-suffering. Just thinking about it makes me want to scream.

So this is where I’ve gone my own way. If you’re curious about the nitty-gritty of Victorian domesticity, I highly recommend Judith Flanders’s The Victorian House (Harper Perennial, 2003), an absolutely gripping account of daily life in each room of a nineteenth-century home.

On germs and cholera epidemics, I love Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map (Penguin, 2006), which came out after I’d researched Spy, but devoured anyway.

But my "greatest coup" in writing Spy was leaping away from history and imagining a bold, alternative fate for a girl like Mary Quinn.

As a historical fiction writer, how did you capture the voices of the era? What resources did you turn to? Did you run into challenges translating the language of the era for today's young readers? What advice do you have for other authors along these lines?

[Photo from The Agency cover art photo shoot.]

Oh, I’m still proud of this one: I queried UK agents as a test of authenticity, and it wasn’t until my agent offered representation that she realized I wasn’t British!

Clearly, having spent most of my adult life reading English literature helped with this act of ventriloquism.

Also, living in England gave me a first-hand understanding of the rhythms of British speech, and how Byzantine their regional and social distinctions can be.

So I was confident about how English my narrator sounded. But there was the additional problem of transposing the language back in time 150 years.

In practice, this means preserving the cadence of an English sentence – swift, staccato, with emphasis in different places than an American one – while using appropriately nineteenth century vocabulary. At the same time, the meaning has to be clear.

I often tried to define things in context: you may not know what a hansom is, but if I tell you that a man hailed one, climbed in, and asked the driver to take him to Bedford Square, it becomes perfectly clear that it’s a taxi cab. My vocabulary came straight from the great Victorian novelists: Dickens, Eliot, the Bront√ęs. But I disagree with them in one respect.

In most Victorian novels, people speak in perfect, grammatical sentences (unless they’re working-class characters, in which case their speech is often spelled out fo-net-ick-ly – a major pet peeve of mine. It’s patronizing.) Did educated people never use slang, or contractions, or run-on sentences? And did the poor struggle to speak in their mother tongue? I think not.

Instead, I’d argue that people in Victorian England spoke more vividly and casually than we think – more "you and me" than "thee and thou." And this is what I’ve tried to do in Spy.

Cynsational Notes

From Candlewick Press: "Y. S. Lee has a PhD in Victorian literature and culture and says her research inspired her to write A Spy in the House, 'a totally unrealistic, completely fictitious antidote to the fate that would otherwise swallow a girl like Mary Quinn.'" Y. S. Lee lives in Ontario, Canada."

Read an excerpt. See also more photos from The Agency cover art shoot!