Friday, February 01, 2013

Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Congratulations to all the winners, honorees and list makers of the current awards season!

Cheers to the hardworking committee members, and the entire children's-YA literature and publishing community, including young readers, for making 2012 such a success!

A few personal shout outs:

Hooray to my fellow former VCFA faculty member Leda Schubert, whose Monsieur Marceau: Artist Without Words (Roaring Brook, 2012) won the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children!

See Leda Schubert on Monsieur Marceau: Artist Without Words from Cynsations.

Congratulations to fellow Austinite Cynthia Levinson on the recognition for YALSA Nonfiction Award finalist We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March (Peachtree, 2012)!

See a new voice interview with Cynthia and guest post with Cynthia about the book!

Likewise, huge cheers to Toni Buzzeo on the Caldecott Honor for One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small (Dial, 2012)! Toni and I were critique partners early in our careers. I absolutely love this picture book (my favorite of the year!), and I couldn't be more thrilled by her success.

See From Urban Legend to the Boy in the Tuxedo by Toni Buzzeo from Hunger Mountain: A VCFA Journal of the Arts.

Brava, Kelly Starling Lyons, whose Ellen’s Broom, snagged a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for Daniel Minter (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012)! Kelly is one of the terrific people behind The Brown Bookshelf: United in Story, highlighting African American children's-YA authors and illustrators.

See also Kelly Starling Lyon's on Ellen's Broom from Cynsations.

Way to go, fellow Texan Benjamin Alire Sáenz, the Belpré Author Award winner for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Simon & Schuster, 2012)! The book also was the Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award winner ("given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience") and--wait for it--a Printz Honor Book! Learn more about this novel from NPR books! Note: Ben had me at Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood (Cinco Puntos, 2004) one of my all-time favorite YA books.

More Award News

More Links

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Paul Schmid from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: "Finding myself unemployed with no clear direction, one day my lovely, brilliant wife suggested I call Steven Malk, a literary agent whom I had made contact with a number of years before. Steve took me on, and we floated out a postcard."

Laura Ellen on Using Criticism from Adventures in YA & Children's Literature. Peek: "Writing is extremely personal. Often we see it as an extension of ourselves and so anything said against it seems like a personal attack. It’s hard to do, but try to take ‘you’ out of the book."

Time Saving Tips When Writing Series by Elizabeth S. Craig from Mystery Writing is Murder. Peek: "The style sheets are emailed in a separate attachment from my edits, and sometimes include the email address of the copyeditor on them, in case I want to make changes to the document."

What We've Learned about Writing Fantasy by Anna Staniszewski from The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: "The characters, plot, world, etc. might feel flimsy at first, but every round of revisions will make them stronger."

So You Want to Read Your Reviews by Elizabeth S. Craig from Writing Mystery is Murder. Peek: "In general, we should probably stay away. Your time is better spent writing the next book."

Malín Alegría: A Road Map for Bicultural Youth from CBC Diversity. Peek: "Latinos have lived in the United States for over 500 years. However, mainstream literature rarely portrays strong brown characters as the protagonists. It’s liberating to have the opportunity to write a teen drama that teens across the world can relate to because they speak to typical experiences."

Success: Is It Happening to You, Only You Don't Realize It? by Angela Ackerman from The Bookstore Muse. Peek: "The truth is, there are many indicators of emerging success, not just these biggies. They are smaller, more subtle. Many of us don’t realize what they mean when they happen."

No Crystal Stair: An Interview with Vaundra Nelson by J.L. Powers from The Pirate Tree: Social Justice & Children's Literature. Peek: "I’m no expert on the Pan-African movement. I’m just a storyteller who enjoys history. My understanding is that Lewis (like his father) found inspiration in Garvey’s commitment to blacks building their own businesses, creating their own communities, becoming self-sufficient."

Three Simple Ways to Engage on Your Author Facebook Page by Caitlin Muir from Author Media.  Peek: "Think of each photo as a digital ambassador. Choose them carefully."

Help! Unromantic Me Can't Write Romantic Scenes from Peek: " This isn’t about you, it’s about the characters. A great romantic scene grows out of the characters’ emotional connection with each other across all preceding scenes."

Cynsational Giveaways
Enter to win a paperback copy of Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith from Jean's Book Nerd.

Don't miss New YA Releases & Eight Giveaways (Including Homeland by Cory Doctorow) from Adventures in YA & Children's Publishing.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

Highlights of the week included Liz Garton Scanlon's launch of Happy Birthday, Bunny! (Beach Lane, 2013) at BookPeople in Austin! See photo report.

Just as jazzy! The release of Janet Fox's Sirens (Speak/Penguin, 2012), likewise at BookPeople. See photo report.
With Bethany Hegedus, agent Alexandra Penfold & Greg Leitich Smith at The Driskill Hotel.

Coming soon in paperback!
Cynthia Leitich Smith Author Interview, Review & Diabolical Giveaway from In-depth, at times quite personal, conversation, celebrating the upcoming paperback release of Diabolical.

Girl Meets Boy, edited by Kelly Milner Halls from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek: "Joe (Joseph Bruchac) and Cyn are two of my favorite writers. I recognize the places they write about, and as a Native kid/teen who grew up at Nambe Pueblo, I recognize the characters they developed for their stories in Girl Meets BoyI know/knew guys like Bobby Wildcat and girls like Nancy Whitepath..."

Thanks to readergirlz for the shout outs for my upcoming releases, Feral Nights and Eternal: Zachary's Story (both Candlewick, Feb. 2013)!

As for new books, a Feral Nights sighting at ALA (photo by Stephanie Light Eames)
Personal Links:
From Greg Leitich Smith:
Cynsational Events

Join Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith (and many more!) Feb. 2 at Montgomery County Book Festival. Check out the art contest; deadline: Jan. 18.

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith, Jennifer Ziegler and more at Library Palooza 2013: That Author Thing! will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Brandeis High School in San Antonio.

2013 Novel Writing Retreat for Middle Grade and Young Adult Writers will be March 15 to March 17 at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Peek: "This year's retreat will feature faculty Cynthia Leitich Smith, Lauren Myracle, and Candlewick editor Andrea Tompa."

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Launch Event Case Studies: Liz Garton Scanlon's Happy Birthday, Bunny! & Janet Fox's Sirens

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Highlights of this week included two book launch parties, featuring Liz Garton Scanlon with Happy Birthday, Bunny! (Beach Lane, 2013) and Janet Fox with Sirens (Speak, 2012). Both events were hosted by BookPeople in Austin. The former featured a picture book. The latter featured a YA novel. Each modeled great ideas for authors/booksellers planning an in-store launch event.

First, let's peek in on Liz:

Modeling Happy Birthday, Bunny! (Beach Lane, 2013) with Lindsey Scheibe and Carmen Oliver
Author Liz Garton Scanlon talks about the book!
Making bunny ears at BookPeople in Austin!
In-store display
Liz and her mom decorate the food table

Takeaway Strategies for a Picture Book Bookstore Launch
  • A prominent display of the books as customers first walked into the store
  • Economic, but colorful costuming provided in the form of paper "bunny" ear hats
  • Tie-in refreshments--sweets (a birthday cake for bunny), healthy celery and tie-in decorations (carrots in a vase) 
  • A presentation/reading with participation opportunities, geared to the youngest fans
  • A chance to move around -- "The Bunny Hop"
  • Takeaways: the tie-in elements offered unity; the kid-friendly approach offered fun

Now, let's check in on Janet:

Learn more about Janet's books!
Janet models her new novel.
Swag, my pretties! Swag!
Dolled up with Janet, 1920s -- style!
Janet in a Q&A with Austin's own Bethany Hegedus
Sean Petrie, Anne Bustard, Janet, Bethany and Greg Leitich Smith at Opal Divine's Freehouse.

Takeaway Strategies for a YA Novel Bookstore Launch
  • A prominent display of the books as customers arrived at the YA department/event area
  • Tasty refreshments--sweets and drinks
  • Thematic 1920s costuming (and contest)
  • Tie-in prize swag
  • Giveaway bookmarks (don't forget the backlist books)
  • Conversational presentation (local-draw author, plus out-of-state author)
  • A more intimate after-party with personal friends
  • Takeaways: embrace the fun; don't forget the grown-ups (who're a big part of the YA fan base)

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith, Review & Giveaway of Diabolical (Soon in Paperback)

Cynthia Leitich Smith Author Interview, Review & Diabolical Giveaway from In-depth, at times quite personal, conversation, celebrating the upcoming paperback release of Diabolical.

Peek from the interview:

"Zachary is hands-down the most gorgeous, popular and charmingly flawed of all of my characters. He has the best of intentions, always acts out of love, mostly for his girl, Miranda, and usually ends up in ever more trouble because of it. I can’t imagine a more entertaining date or devoted lover than the guardian angel Zachary."

Peek from Jean's Review:

"The twists that Cynthia laced the finale with will have readers on the edge of their seats. There are moments that are simply stunning that will leave readers’ mouths hanging open. The creepiness is sometimes difficult to bear but Cynthia’s writing style is so addictive that no matter what she throws at you, you will continue to read on."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Trailer & Demo Video: Flora and the Flamingo

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the book trailer and demo video for Flora the Flamingo by Molly Idle (Chronicle, 2012). From the promotional copy:
In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance.
With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony.
Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more!

Cynsational Notes

Molly Idle began her career as an artist working for DreamWorks Feature Animation, and from there she leapt into the world of children’s books. She lives in Tempe, Arizona.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest Post: Anna Olswanger on Greenhorn

By Anna Olswanger
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

I heard the real story of Greenhorn thirty years ago in Israel. The rabbi of my synagogue stood in the front of our tour bus as we approached Jerusalem and told us about a little boy who had lost his parents in the Holocaust, who wouldn't speak when he came to live at the Brooklyn yeshiva where the rabbi was in the sixth grade, and who wouldn't let a tin box out of his sight.

I knew as soon as the rabbi began talking that the story was important and that I wanted to write it, but what I didn't know was how I could make the story mine.

I was childless, born in America after the Holocaust, and my grandparents and great-grandparents had left Eastern Europe in the 1890s, years before the Holocaust.

What did I know about what this little boy had gone through?

But my rabbi, a witness to the story, was preoccupied with leading his large congregation and couldn't write the story. I had no idea where the little boy was forty years after the Holocaust, so I couldn't ask him to write the story.

I knew if I didn't write the story, it would be lost. I had to write it.

Anna Olswanger
This was what I heard that day on the bus:

When the school principal came into my rabbi's class to announce that the yeshiva would take in fifty boys, he introduced "Daniel," a young boy who had no possessions, except for a small, tin box that he never let out of his sight.
The class later discovered that inside the box was a bar of soap. Daniel believed that the soap, manufactured by the Nazis, was made from the body fat of Jews murdered in the death camps.
And he believed that maybe, just maybe, that bar of soap contained his parents' remains. He said he didn't have anything else from his parents, not even a photograph.

It was, and sometimes still is, difficult for me to articulate why I thought the story was important, but as I began to write Greenhorn, through all the succeeding drafts of what became a middle grade novel based on the real story, I discovered more clearly what I was writing about.

The little boy, who wouldn't speak when he came to America, who wouldn't let the tin box out of his sight, made a friend in my rabbi. Later, the little boy agreed to live with his friend's family. And in the actual scene that I described in the Afterword, the little boy, who had grown up to marry and have his own family, was finally able to bury the soap in the backyard of his house in Jerusalem.

I discovered through all those successive drafts that I was writing about family.

My grandparents' cousins and their children who never left Eastern Europe died in the Holocaust. I am still childless. I have no children to discuss my cousins with, or even the Holocaust that wiped out not just them, but two thirds of Europe's Jews.

I wrote my first children's book Shlemiel Crooks because I wanted to recapture the family stories my father told me before he died. Through the publication of Shlemiel Crooks, I discovered that I could share my father's stories with other children, even though I had none of my own.

Now, it's the same with Greenhorn. Through the book, I can take part in discussions between children, parents, and teachers about the Holocaust. The publisher has even made free guides available for parents and teachers to facilitate discussions. So, although I don't have my own children, I can share something I consider important with any child who reads Greenhorn.

Like the little boy who finally found his family, I have also found mine.

Illustrator Miriam Nerlove

Monday, January 28, 2013

Follow ALA Youth Media Award Results Live

From the American Library Association:

CHICAGO — Thousands of webcast viewers will join more than 1,300 onsite audience members for the 2013 announcement of the American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards at 8 a.m. Pacific time on Jan. 28. The announcements are part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, held from Jan. 25 to Jan. 29 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

The ALA Youth Media Awards honor children’s and young adult authors and illustrators, as well as producers of children’s audio and video materials. Known worldwide for the high quality they represent, the awards are selected under a cloak of secrecy by national judging committees composed of librarians and other children’s literature experts. Award selections serve as a guide for parents, educators, librarians and those interested in providing children and teens with the very best reading and viewing materials.

In 2013 the announcements will consist of 19 awards, including the 75th anniversary year of the Randolph Caldecott Medal, John Newbery Medal, Coretta Scott King Book Awards and Michael L. Printz Award.

Those that are not able to join the webcast can still follow results in real-time by logging on to the ALA Youth Media Awards Facebook page, or via Twitter by following hashtag #ALAyma.

After the announcements, videos from winning authors will be available on the ALA Youth Media Awards YouTube Channel, and a press release announcing 2013 selections will be available on the home page at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

For more information regarding the ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit

Cynsational Update

Congratulations to fellow Austinite Cynthia Levinson on the recognition for YALSA Nonfiction Award finalist We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March (Peachtree, 2012)! See a new voice interview with Cynthia and guest post with Cynthia about the book!

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