Friday, May 20, 2005

Fan Mail

Yesterday, I was honored to receive a couple of letters from readers of "Riding With Rosa," a short story of mine that was published in the March/April 2005 issue of Cicada, a YA literary magazine, (p. 69, Vol. 7, No., 4).

Thematically, the story looks at the dynamic of a biracial boy, passing as white, and that of a gay boy, who's just been "outed," in a contemporary high school plagued by racism and homophobia. Though their personal circumstances are unique, the commonalities are explored.

The letters focussed on praising the sensitive portrayal of diversity of sexual orientation and the anti-bigotry subtext.

I write stories as stories first. I start with the character, consider his/her circumstances, etc. That's the literary writer's place. But certainly, it is gratifying when young readers say that my work challenged, enlightened or validated them.

Cynsational News & Links

Author Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, whose debut book (Sketches From A Sky Tree (Clarion, 2005)) I just recommended a few days ago, now has a debut blog, too. Surf over to Vaughn Zimmer to celebrate the launch, and shower Tracie with congratulations and good wishes.

Jacqueline Davies has added a few nifty PDF updates to her author Web site, including: (1) An Editorial Correspondence on The Boy Who Drew Birds between Jacqueline and Houghton Mifflin senior editor Ann Rider; (2) Booksignings: Stepping Into the Abyss. Note: the first took a while to download on my dial-up, but since I'm the last person in the world on dial-up, this probably applies only to me.

Building on Wednesday's news about the L.A. Times review and signing for A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire by Amy Butler Greenfield (HarperCollins, 2005), surf over to hear "Seeing Red," an interview with Amy about the book on "The Exchange" from New Hampshire public radio. Available on Real Audio or Windows Media. See also Amy's About the Book: Inspiration.

Inspired by One Writer's Journey, Debbi Michiko Florence's LJ (May 19 post), I found out my aura colors. They are: violet, green, and, to a lesser degree, yellow. Thanks for welcoming the newly syndicated spookycyn to LJ, Debbi!

Speaking of spookycyn, lately, I'm blogging about my ballgown & boots dream.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ladies Who Lunch

I met Cyndi Hughes, former director of the Texas Book Festival turned literary agent/publicist, for lunch today at Green Pastures in South Austin.

Cyndi and I are both University of Kansas J-school graduates (AKA Jayhawks), so we have bonded on that and a book level.

Cynsational Links

Do As The Spider Does from Out of My Mind from Sharon A. Soffe. Some thoughts on generating writing ideas.

Check out the L.A. Times review of A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire by Amy Butler Greenfield (HarperCollins, 2005).

Surf over to spookycyn for my thoughts on dentistry.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Texas Writers Month; spookycyndicated

Texans love all things Texan, and this month we love writers in particular.

It makes me feel important and appreciated. Woo woo!

I'm just back from my local indie bookstore, BookPeople (2005 Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year), and the staff was celebrating Texas Writers Month in style.

The fancy-schmancy table in the BookKids department featured: Too Many Frogs by Sandy Asher, illustrated by Austinite Keith Graves (Philomel, 2005); Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly by Austinite Anne Bustard, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus (Simon & Schuster, 2005)(see related author interview); Night Wonders by Austinite Jane Peddicord (Charlesbridge, 2005); How To Do Homework Without Throwing Up by Austinite Trevor Romain (Free Spirit, 1997)(see Trevor's blog); Newbery and National Book Award winner Holes by Austinite Louis Sachar (FSG, 1998); Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo by Austinite Greg Leitich Smith (Little Brown, 2003); Both Sides Now by Austinite Ruth Pennebaker; The Puppeteer's Apprentice by former Austinite D. Anne Love (Margaret K. McElderry, 2003); 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East by San Antonian Naomi Shihab Nye (Greenwillow, 2002); Loony Little by Buda's Dianna Hutts Aston (Candlewick, 2003); Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by the late Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault; and Rain Is Not My Indian Name by Austinite Cynthia Leitich Smith (HarperCollins, 2001).

A quick shout out of other Texas writers to know: College Station's Kathi Appelt; Wimberly's Janie Bynum; Houston's Gail Giles; San Antonio's Peni R. Griffin; Amarillo's Kimberly Willis Holt; Dallas' Helen Ketteman; Canyon Lake's Tim Tingle; and Buda's Jerry Wermund. Too many more to mention, but perhaps you'll write in with some names.

Cynsational News & Links

Austin SCBWI has updated its member listings.

The brill Sharyn November has syndicated spookycyn for the thrills and chills of all of you LJ folks. Thanks Sharyn! For those of you unfamiliar with spookycyn, it's more personal, chatty, and reflective of my journey through works in progress. It’s also where I’m more likely to feature books and authors of, say, gothic fantasy or suspense. Recent posts have centered on: Friday, the 13th; Over and Over You by Amy McAuley (Roaring Brook, 2005); my upcoming gothic fantasy YA novel; Capricorns; Lex Luthor; and of course my ghost. Thanks, Sharyn!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Random Act Of Kindness

It's a tough time in publishing right now with school/library cutbacks, a contraction in the picture book market, and so forth.

So, today, I'd like to ask cynsations readers to perform one random act of kindness for another book person. A writer, illustrator, teacher, librarian, bookseller, publicist, young reader--whomever.

It doesn't have to be big or expense or dramatic, though it could be.

Send a card that says "thanks for all you do." Drop an email that says "by the way, great hair!" Rent out a billboard on I-35 cheering on every mama who read a bedtime story to her kid last night. Anything, everything, whatever!

Just do something positive!


Today, I'm deep in the midst of reading manuscripts and answering author profile interview questions with Greg for a fall issue (October or November) of the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.

The books on my nightstand are: The Mother's Tongue by Heid E. Erdrich (sister of Louise Erdrich)(Salt Publishing, 2005) and Looking For Alaska by John Green (Dutton, 2005)(yes, I know everybody else has already read it).

Cynsational News & Links

How to Become Rich and Famous in One Easy Step (and other stuff that has nothing to do with making kids' books) by your pal Mo Willems from CBC Magazine.

Award-winning writer Jo Knowles debuts her Web site. I'm particularly fond of her FAQ, comprised of questions asked by her five-year-old son. Speaking of which, Batman can fly. He just needs to use a plane or other man-made invention to do so. What's special about superheroes like Batman (and, say, Green Arrow or Oracle) is that they are people with normal potential who pushed and trained themselves to do extraordinary things so they could protect others. Batman was not given the ability to fly; he had to earn it.

Author Gail Giles blogs about Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won The Girl by D.L. Garfinkle (Putnam, 2005) at The YA Novel and Me (see May 9 post). See what I had to say about Storky.

Author Ellen Jackson blogs about 10 Great Picture Books That Appeal to Boys.

And on May 11, author Tanya Lee Stone calls me "lovely," which I mention simply because it made me feel good.

Sketches from a Spy Tree, poems by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, illustrated by Andrew Glass

Sketches From A Spy Tree by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, illustrated by Andrew Glass (Clarion, 2005). Sketches aren't only drawings on the page but also pictures formed by words. In this case, poems. An invitation... To step into Ann Marie's family portrait and snip out the father who snipped out some time ago himself, to find out what outsiders see in twins and what they're blind to, to appreciate a quilt of cats eating soft, greasy chicken meat from the spotted hands of an elderly lady, to meet a stepdad and a grouch, to shiver in the March winds, to take a chance on someone new...or two. At times funny, at others tender, a self-portrait of a young artist sure to win hearts and challenge minds. Ages 8-up. Read a related author interview, and note that both the author and illustrator are twins.

Cynsational Links

Austin children's illustrator Don Tate debuts his new blog, Devas T. Reads Kiddie Lit, with a discussion of My Father's Summers by Kathi Appelt (Henry Holt, 2004).

The Art of Fiction: Who Do You Love? by Lisa Lenard-Cook from Authorlink, May 2005. A column focusing on reading. Note: as a reader, I love so many authors. Some that I haven't mentioned lately: Donna Jo Napoli (author interview); Julius Lester; Martha Moore; Patrice Kindl; Margaret Peterson Haddix; among others.

In Search of Your Books Most Powerful Sales Tool: Your Title by Michael Larson from Authorlink, May 2005.
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