Friday, October 30, 2015

Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Teen Books by Native Writers to Trumpet Year-Round by Debbie Reese from School Library Journal. Peek: "...don’t confine the use of books by and about Native people—or any other group—to a single day or month. We are here, it must be said, all year-round—just like everyone else. The following works for young adults should be read, displayed, and celebrated in every collection." Note: I'm honored that my Feral trilogy (Candlewick) was recommended.

Racial and Ethnic Justice in the College Writing Course by Joy Castro from Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. Peek: "I create a larger context for our work by consistently alluding during class discussion to literature by writers of color. There is a literary tradition, and you’re invited to contribute, this strategy implicitly asserts to students of color."

Aces Out: Laying the Cards on the Table by Zach J. Payne from Gay YA. Peek: "Asexuals don’t face a lot of the terrible things that our gay, lesbian, and trans friends do. We don’t stand out, but we are targets." See also My Furious Brown Girl Child Response and the Difficulties of the "Diversity" Umbrella by Mitali Perkins from Mitali's Fire Escape. Note: Don't miss the continuing conversation in the comments.

Of Moons and Magic with Melanie Crowder by Julie Danielson from Kirkus Reviews. Peek: "If every element of the story is working on multiple levels, the manuscript naturally gets tighter. Fortunately for me, I am matched with an editor who allows a story to be what it wants to be, even if that means it stands apart from industry trends."

U.S. Children's-YA Literature Conferences at Colleges/Universities: a list by Chris Barton from Bartography.

Get Ready for Readukkah: Association of Jewish Libraries First Reading Challenge by Heidi Estrin from The Whole Megillah. Peek: "You pick the book – any reading level, fiction or nonfiction, Jewish in any way you choose to define it."

This Week at Cynsations

Cynsational Giveaways
More Personally

Cynsations is late (and a bit abbreviated) this morning due to a central Texas storm and the fact that Cyn consequently spent an hour or so in the under-stairs restroom during a tornado warning.

Austin area readers, stay safe! Many roads are flooded and, even where they're not, visibility is dicey at best.

Congratulations to the We Need Diverse Books Walter Dean Myers Grant Recipients, including Yamile Saied Méndez (who was in my last WIFYR workshop and is now a student at VCFA).

Likewise, congratulations to the authors and illustrators of the 2015 New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books, including Duncan Tonatiuh.

Cynsational Links

In Memory: Actress Maureen O'Hara
"Dracula" by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
"Mockingjay, Part II" Trailer
Capitol Couture ("Hunger Games" In-World Fashion Magazine)
Happiest U.S. Companies Have Female C.E.O.
Panda Cubs Make Debut
Where Is Luke Skywalker?
World's Largest LEGO Exhibit
"Sherlock" Christmas Trailer
The Homework for Choosing a College
Dad Creates Halloween Costumes for Kids in Wheelchairs

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Last Call! WNDB Mentor Program

From We Need Diverse Books

The deadline for the WNDB™ mentorship program is Oct. 31. We are offering mentorships to four aspiring authors and one illustrator who are diverse or working on diverse books. This is an opportunity to work with some experienced and talented members of our community, and receive individual support and feedback on a work-in-progress.

What: WNDB™ is offering five mentorships, one in each of the following categories – Picture Book text (PB), Middle Grade (MG), Young Adult (YA), Nonfiction (NF), and Illustration (IL). The winners will communicate with the mentor for approximately one year in a mentor/mentee custom-defined program. This mentorship period will run from Jan. 15, 2016 to Dec. 15, 2016.

The mentors for this program are Nikki Grimes (PB), Margarita Engle (MG), Malinda Lo (YA), Patricia Hruby-Powell (NF) and Carolyn Dee Flores (IL).

Eligibility: These mentorships are available to diverse writers or any writers or illustrators who submit a manuscript for children or teens featuring a diverse main character or diverse central subject matter. (See the WNDB™ mission statement page for our inclusive definition of “diverse”).

Applicants may only apply for one of the five mentorship categories, so it is up to the applicants to research each mentor and decide which mentor/category is most suitable for their work. Applicants who do not comply with submission rules will be disqualified.

Judges’ Criteria: The first-round judges will select a pool of final applicants based on merit. Mentors will select their mentee based on merit, compatibility, and readiness/need for the mentorship as outlined in their essay. Applicants who do not comply with submission rules will be disqualified.

Cost: Free.

See Submission Guidelines & FAQ.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Trailer: Little Tree by Loren Long

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the book trailer for Little Tree by Loren Long (Philomel, 2015). From the promotional copy:

In the middle of a little forest, there lives a Little Tree who loves his life and the splendid leaves that keep him cool in the heat of long summer days. 

Life is perfect just the way it is.

Autumn arrives, and with it the cool winds that ruffle Little Tree’s leaves. One by one the other trees drop their leaves, facing the cold of winter head on. 

But not Little Tree—he hugs his leaves as tightly as he can. Year after year, Little Tree remains unchanged, despite words of encouragement from a squirrel, a fawn, and a fox, his leaves having long since turned brown and withered.

As Little Tree sits in the shadow of the other trees, now grown sturdy and tall as though to touch the sun, he remembers when they were all the same size. And he knows he has an important decision to make.

From #1 New York Times bestselling Loren Long comes a gorgeously-illustrated story that challenges each of us to have the courage to let go and to reach for the sun.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Giveaway: Author-Signed Poster & The Caretaker's Guide to Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, illustrated by Brandon Dorman

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Enter to win one of two copies of The Caretaker's Guide to Fablehaven by Brandon Mull (Shadow Mountain, 2015) and an author-signed Fablehaven poster.

Caretakers of magical preserves need to visually identify dozens of mythical and magical creatures. This book will open your eyes to a secret world most humans know nothing about. Study these pages and learn about the many magical artifacts, potions, and weapons that could potentially save your life.

Furthermore, a smart caretaker will need to know how to recognize (and stay away from) the more nefarious creatures found in this book. Most importantly, The Caretaker's Guide to Fablehaven will give you the inside scoop about other magical preserves around the world, including the most magical and powerful creatures known to ever exist—dragons!

Scattered throughout the book are tidbits of wisdom and counsel from previous caretakers. For example, "Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real smart ones learn from the mistakes of others."

Immerse yourself in the secret knowledge that has been handed down through the generations by reading the handwritten updates and notes scribed in the margins by the former (and current) caretakers of Fablehaven, including Patton Burgess, Grandpa Sorenson, Kendra, and Seth. Fully-illustrated, this unique encyclopedia has gathered the world of Fablehaven into one volume.

Publisher sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. only.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Guest Post & Giveaway: Beth Revis on: Paper Hearts: Some Writing Advice

 By Beth Revis
 for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations
Beth Note: Don't miss out on the giveaway at the end of this post. And remember all orders of Paper Hearts made before Nov. 15 from Malaprops will come with a special gift--see details below! 
You can win a journal with this cover!
I wrote Paper Hearts: Some Writing Advice for the writer I used to be. The questions I used to have plagued me when I was starting this career path.  

How do I get to the end? What's the proper way to structure a novel--is there even a proper way? How do I make my book stand out from all the other ones on submission?

Now, fifteen years, eleven unpublished books, three New York Times bestsellers, one self published book, and countless hours working on craft and working with other professionals, I think I finally have the answers that I needed way back then.

Unfortunately, I can't travel back in time. But what I can do is try to help others. I've been compiling articles on the things I've learned about writing, publishing, and marketing for years, first informally on blog posts, then collectively on Wattpad.

After hitting 100,000 reads, I realized that I should take Paper Hearts more seriously...and that I had not one book, but three.

Fully revised and expanded, the Paper Hearts series will feature three volumes, one each on writing, publishing, and marketing. Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice will be out on November 1, with the other two following in December and January.

Pre-order it now from: Independent Bookstore ~ Amazon ~ BN ~  Kobo ~ Smashwords

About the Book

Your enemy is the blank page.

When it comes to writing, there's no wrong way to get words on paper. But it's not always easy to make the ink flow. Paper Hearts: Some Writing Advice won't make writing any simpler, but it may help spark your imagination and get your hands back on the keyboard.
Practical Advice Meets Real Experience
With information that takes you from common mistakes in grammar to detailed charts on story structure, Paper Hearts describes:
  • How to Develop Character, Plot, and World
  • What Common Advice You Should Ignore
  • What Advice Actually Helps
  • How to Develop a Novel
  • The Basics of Grammar, Style, and Tone 
  • Four Practical Methods of Charting Story Structure
  • How to Get Critiques and Revise Your Novel
  • How to Deal with Failure
  • And much more!
Plus, more than 25 "What to do if" scenarios to help writers navigate problems in writing from a New York Times Bestselling author who's written more than 2 million words of fiction.

Beth Note: if you pre-order the print copy from my local indie bookstore, Malaprops, you'll also get a chapbook of the best writing advice from 12 beloved and bestselling YA authors included for free!

Paper Hearts Excerpt

Write What You Know
Probably the most clichéd and oft-used phrase for any writer is the old adage, “write what you know.”

So how did I end up writing a novel that takes place hundreds of years in the future, on a spaceship populated by genetically modified people heading to a planet that might not really exist? It’s definitely not something I “know.”

Typically, we don’t really “know” our stories. Or, at least, I don’t. I’ve never been the youngest person on a spaceship, but I do know what it’s like to not fit in. I’ve never had my parents cryogenically frozen, but I still remember that moment when I realized that I’d grown up and was no longer under their safe protection.

Many times it seems that people who aspire to write teen fiction are more focused on writing teenagers than on writing characters who behave realistically. They will often do research on the outward appearances: clothing, slang, mannerisms. Very often, this is where they trip up, because that’s not the important stuff.

Focus on the stuff you know—the stuff everyone knows. We have all experienced the same things most teens have experienced: first love, first heartbreak, betrayal and fear, joy, sorrow.

This is what the writer must know—and if the writer knows this, then everything else—the characters, the plot, the world—will fall in place.

Find the beating heart of the story. Invention is a wonderful thing—a necessary thing when it comes to writing. You need to have invention, but, somewhere beneath everything that you create, you also have to write what you know. Not literally. Emotionally.

Cynsational Notes 
Beth Revis is the New York Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe trilogy, as well as The Body Electric, Paper Hearts, and the forthcoming A World Without You.

She lives in the Appalachian mountains with her boys: one husband, one son, and two very large dogs.

Find out more on Facebook, Twitter, or online.

Sign up for her newsletter.

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