Friday, October 26, 2007

Author Interview: Amanda Marrone on Uninvited

From Simon Pulse: "Amanda Marrone grew up on Long Island, where she spent her time reading, drawing, watching insects, and suffering from an overactive imagination. She earned a BA in education at SUNY Cortland, and taught fifth and sixth grade in New Hampshire. She now lives in Connecticut with her husband, Joe, and their two kids."

What were you like as a young adult?

Awkward! I was very shy, always had my nose in a book, and I was a little too much like my main character in Uninvited (Simon Pulse, 2007), Jordan.

While this story is in no way autobiographical, Jordan and I do share some traits. I was a total social phobic, something I'm happy to say I got over! I loved being outside—walking in the woods, watching insects—-something I still love. We even have hissing cockroaches among our menagerie of pets, although my husband is always afraid they will escape. I haven't told him about the time I found a baby roach crawling on the computer one day!

Could you tell us about your path to publication? Any sprints or stumbles along the way?

I've always wanted to be a writer—a picture book writer-illustrator, but I'm not one of the "I've been writing stories since I picked up my first crayon" writers. I have a really bad pencil grip, and back in the day, writing long hand, or even using a typewriter—was exhausting.

If it weren't for computers I wouldn't have finished a book. I wrote and illustrated two picture books. The third turned into a novel, and I realized that was where my comfort level was.

Getting published for me was mostly kismet. After sending out two novels to just a handful of editors, I took an online young adult writing class, and the instructor suggested her agent. I queried the agent, she took me on, and the first person she sent it to bought it. It was very quick, but the editor was leaving for a two-week honeymoon—in Europe, and I think that got the often-slow process speeded up.

Congratulations on the release of Uninvited (Simon Pulse, 2007)! Could you tell us about this new title?

It's not a typical vampire story. When my agent pitched the story, she didn't even mention there was a vampire—she said it was a YA with a paranormal twist—which I think is a good description. But the story follows Jordan's struggles to take control of her life or open the window to her ex—a new vampire.

What was your initial inspiration for writing this book?

I was working on a middle grade novel, and I suddenly pictured a boy coming up to a girl's window asking to be let in. I immediately knew she was scared to open her window, but that it was tempting. I banged out the first chapter--which essentially stayed the same after revisions, but I needed time to figure out what I had written, and what direction it would go in. Months later I started chapter two.

What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?

It was probably four years between spark and publication. I needed to think about the book for a bit, but my husband also got a new job, we moved to another state, and my daughter has cerebral palsy and there were things to take care of for her. I wasn't writing every day or even every month, but the story was in the back of my mind percolating.

Once we moved to Connecticut, I started in again. When the book was done, I won first place in the YA division of the Tassy Walden Awards for aspiring Connecticut children's authors. That was a real confidence booster as the judges were agents and editors. A year later, I took that YA class, and then things moved along quickly. But I started the first chapter of Uninvited in 2001, revised the finished novel in 2004, and it sold in 2005.

In contrast, I wrote my second book, Revealers, in a few months and I'm waiting to hear back from my editor about revisions.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

While I was well read in vampire lore, I dug a little deeper for the book. The biggest challenge I had was what to include? I had to anticipate what my audience knew about vampires—I didn't want to do a vampire 101, but I also wanted to include enough information so those who where in the dark about vamps could follow along. I was surprised to hear from one reader who hadn't known vampires had to be invited it. I had thought that was common knowledge.

How did you find out you'd sold your first book? What did you do to celebrate?

My agent called me—she said it was a good offer, but we didn't have to accept it right away, and she could even shop the book around elsewhere while the editor was out of country. I nixed that idea, and said to accept the offer. After a lot of happy screaming, my husband and I did the usual champagne-and-fancy-dinner thing to celebrate.

If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were beginning writer, what advice would you offer?

Keep the faith! Friends and family often cheer you on when you start writing, but when it doesn't happen overnight or if years have passed—well, some lose their support. For every true overnight success, there are dozens of authors who've been toiling to perfect their work for years. You can't make it happen if you give up. Take classes, network, join a critique group--join SCBWI.

What would you say specifically on the topic of writing Gothic fantasy?

I'm so impressed writers are finding new stories to tell with age-old characters. It's a lot of fun to read everyone's different takes on the vampire, werewolf and fairy legends.

What is it about the young adult audience that appeals to you?

It's a tumultuous time—I still feel what I went through vividly. I like the discovery of the age—the way people change and hopefully assert themselves. How they develop their own identities.

What can your fans look forward to next?

I just turned in my next YA, Revealers, to my editor. It's due out sometime in 2008. It's about five teen witches who hunt vampires, werewolves and demons as a public service—only it turns out their coven has a dark secret worse than any of the creatures they hunt. The first chapter is in the back of Uninvited if anyone wants a sneak peek.

I just started a new paranormal YA I'm excited about. It's a murder mystery/ghost story set at a small New England amusement park.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Author Interview: E. Lockhart on Dramarama

E. Lockhart is the author of Dramarama (Hyperion, 2007), Fly on the Wall (Delacorte, 2006)(excerpt), The Boyfriend List (Delacorte, 2005)(excerpt) and The Boy Book (Delacorte, 2007)(excerpt), all novels for teenagers.

We last spoke in November 2005 about the release of The Boyfriend List (15 guys, 11 shrink appointments, 4 ceramic frogs and me, ruby oliver)(Delacorte, 2005)(author interview) and Fly on the Wall (Delacorte, 2006)(author interview). Do you have any updates for us on those titles?

The Boyfriend List is out in paperback with reading group questions and an interview in the back. Its sequel, The Boy Book, came out in hardcover last September. Fly on the Wall pubs in paperback in November, with a spanky new cover.

Could you fill us in on The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them (Delacorte, 2007)? How does it relate to your previous work?

The Boy Book is the sequel to The Boyfriend List, and it was most awesomely fun to revisit Ruby Oliver as a character--her neuroses, her footnotes, her overactive analysis of every situation.

In this book, Roo confronts secrets about her friend-boy not boy-friend Noel, mysterious notes from her ex-boyfriend Jackson, the villainy of her ex-friend Cricket, the horrors of the school retreat, and the exploitation of hooters everywhere. Oh, and there are penguins. Preview it here.

I am starting the third book in this series...um... tomorrow.

Congratulations on the release of Dramarama (Hyperion, 2007)! Could you tell us about this new title?

Dramarama is the most campy, the most glittery, the most theatrical of my books. I spent three summers at drama camp, and the novel is about two Ohio teenagers--one straight, one gay; one female, one male; one white, one black--who spend the summer at a prestigious musical theater camp. They're best friends going in, and their friendship goes through a lot of changes and traumas as they encounter theatrical jealousies, mean directors, baby divas, hot guys and unitards.

What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?

I sold this book on the strength of some anecdotes about drama camp told to an editor at lunch. Donna Bray from Hyperion. She had amazing faith in me that I could make a book out of a few ridiculous stories. I hadn't even known it was a book idea until she told me.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

Mainly, I had to put in more hormones and cute guys. The first draft was too focused on theater and ambition and competition. All that's in there, still--but now there's kissing, too.

More seriously, sometimes people ask me how it felt to write Demi--not my narrator (Sadye), but the other central character in the book. He's a seventeen-year-old African American homosexual boy from an upper middle class background. I am none of those things except that I once was seventeen.

The answer is, I just wrote him. He is in me, somewhere. He is bits and pieces of people I know, or have known; he is, in many ways ME--the way he feels about certain things, the way he speaks, his passions, his sense of humor--just as all my characters are. He is also flamboyant and sometimes campy, so I pushed myself to make sure that although Demi flirts with stereotypes, and as a theatrical person, plays around with different aspects of his identity, he is not himself a stereotype but a complicated guy. But honestly, I do that with all my characters. Push myself that way. It was not really different because Demi is black and male--it's just that people ask me about writing him.

Over the past two years, how have you grown as a writer?

I am just at the start of a new book, and I have forgotten entirely how to write anything.

But then, I always feel this way at the beginning.

I guess now I know not to panic when I feel this way.

If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were beginning writer, what advice would you offer?

I would ask, What are you angry about? And tell myself to write about that.

What would you say specifically on the topic of writing young adult fiction?

Do not write down. Do not write lessons or morals. Write a story. You can figure out what it means afterward.

What recent books would you suggest for study and why?

For study of writing fiction? When I first started writing fiction I took apart the first thirds of these three novels: Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving; David Copperfield by Charles Dickens; and Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

I broke down the way those authors created suspense and character--how they used flashbacks and forwards--how they established voice and atmosphere while moving the plot along. Those are three pretty perfect books in my opinion, but I'd say go do that with any few books you dearly love.

How do you balance your life as a writer with the responsibilities (speaking, promotion, etc.) of being an author?

I try to schedule blocks of writing time where I promote nothing in any time consuming way. For example, right now I'm writing and basically not promoting or speaking until January, when I have a pre-pub tour. Then I'll have a working draft and can rewrite as I promote my next couple books in the spring.

What can your fans look forward to next?

I am so excited for spring:

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks comes out in March (Hyperion) and then How to Be Bad, co-written with Lauren Myracle (author interview) and Sarah Mlynowski in May (Harper Collins).

We are going on a big tour that month, all three of us, and I'm inordinately thrilled about traveling across the country with Sarah and Lauren, meeting readers.

How to Be Bad is a novel in three voices: each of us wrote a different character. It's set in steamy hot Florida in August, and it's about three girls who hit the road in search of love, redemption and adventure. And get more than they bargained for.

Here's the promo copy for Disreputable History. And other than that, my lips are sealed. There is top secret stuff in this book, I tell you!

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
Her father's "bunny rabbit."
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take "no" for an answer.
Especially when "no" means she's excluded from her boyfriend's all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she's smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew's lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.

"Writing for Children and Young People" with Laura Atkins

Oct. 31st – Nov. 21 (4 weeks)

7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Brighton Writers' Centre

£44/£40 concs, Friends of THE SOUTH £40/£36 concs

Have you ever thought about writing for children or teens, or started to write a picture book or novel but felt you needed more direction or help?

This series of workshops will offer a great deal of group work and support, with focused themes, writing exercises, and sharing of books and strategies. Whether you are already an experienced writer for children, or have always felt it was something you wanted to try, this could be the perfect way to develop your writing aspirations.

Laura Atkins has been a children's book editor, a judge for the London Writer's Competition, and has taught at both undergraduate and MA level. She runs children's literature conferences and events including directing the first Brighton Children's Book Festival in April 2007 in partnership with THE SOUTH. This workshop follows her first successful workshop series in 2006 which turned into an on-going writers’ support group. For more on Laura Atkins, visit her website: www.lauraatkins.com

Booking and Information

Book your place through THE SOUTH, either on their website (www.thesouth.org.uk) or by emailing Ella Burns: ella@thesouth.org.uk

The workshop will run at THE SOUTH, Brighton Writers' Centre, 49 Grand Parade, Brighton BN1 3RR, a 10 minute walk from Brighton station. There is pay and display parking in nearby streets and free parking after 6 p.m.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Author-Editor Interview: Nina Hess on A Practical Guide to Monsters

Nina Hess on Nina Hess: "I'm senior editor at Mirrorstone, an imprint of fantasy fiction for young readers which I launched at Wizards of the Coast in 2004. I'm also the author of A Practical Guide to Monsters (Mirrorstone, 2007) and Whose Feet? (Random House 2003). I've been a children's book editor for almost ten years and a writer for as long as I can remember."

Could you tell us about your path to publication? Any sprints or stumbles along the way?

My first book, written at age 8, was a picture book manuscript entitled "The Gingerbread People." My mom gave it a rave review. I've always loved children's books, and I secretly read them all through college.

After graduating, I found a way to take my secret reading habit and legitimize it by becoming an editorial assistant at Harcourt Children's Books, working for Anne Davies. She taught me everything I know about children's books.

Various circumstances brought me to Seattle years later, where I worked as an editor at Wright Group/McGraw-Hill, editing and writing early readers for the educational market. There I really cut my teeth on writing books for kids.

I also enrolled in a terrific Writing for Children class at the University of Washington taught by Kathryn Galbraith, Meg Lippert, and Laura Kvasnovsky (author-illustrator interview). In that class, I wrote an early reader called Whose Feet? which became my first trade book published by Random House in 2003.

Congratulations on the publication of A Practical Guide to Monsters (Mirrorstone, 2007)! Could you give us an overview of the book?

Thank you! The book covers all sorts of monsters, from the commonly known (and well-loved) vampires and werewolves, to mythological creatures like chimeras and medusas, to the more obscure creatures like beholders and otyughs. Those last two are some of my favorites in the book, because they're simultaneously disgusting and cute! The beholder has eleven eyes, each with different powers, and the otyugh eats trash!

What's not to love?

What was your initial inspiration for creating this book?

In 2003, I joined Wizards of the Coast to launch a new imprint of fantasy fiction for kids, which we named Mirrorstone. Wizards of the Coast has been publishing fantasy for adults for many, many years. But they are probably best known as the publisher of games, including the Dungeons & Dragons game.

In many ways Dungeons & Dragons is more than a game, it's a guided storytelling session, and as a result, it's full of some amazing fantasy lore and creatures. The game isn't meant for a very young audience, but I thought young readers would adore a book about these creatures and all the intricate lore related to them.

So I proposed to our editorial director that we do a line of picture books for kids featuring all of these wonderful fantasy monsters.

What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?

The initial proposal, which we first talked about in 2003, was for one book on dragons followed by one on monsters. I signed up Lisa Trutkoff Trumbauer to write A Practical Guide to Dragons (Mirrorstone, 2006), and then our managing editor suggested that I write A Practical Guide to Monsters, partly because I had direct access to our vast monster library for research. (Yes, we really have a library in our office filled with monster resources!)

A Practical Guide to Dragons came out in October of 2006, and to the delight of everyone, it hit the New York Times best seller list a few weeks later. It stayed on the list for 14 weeks, which was a record for our company. By that time, I had finished writing the Monsters book and had handed it off to editor Stacy Whitman (editor interview), who worked with art director Kate Irwin, and book designer, Lisa Hanson, to turn the manuscript into a book (about a six month process). When the book hit the New York Times best seller list, we were all celebrating!

What were the challenges (literary, artistic, research, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

I worried about making sure the details were accurate. Even though it's a fictional book, it's presented as nonfiction. I consulted with our monster experts at Wizards, and did a lot of research to make sure the monsters felt "real" and stayed true to their origins.

We also had a relatively tight timeline to work with, and we weren't able to publish the books early enough to secure advance review copies. But Random House is our distributor, and they were fans of the Practical Guide books from the very beginning. Their support really helped make the book a success.

What is it about monsters that's so fascinating?

It's probably partly the psychological function that Bruno Bettelheim talks about; I'm guessing that he would say that monsters and the stories surrounding them help children to process fears. Young readers who are a bit scared of monsters can find lots of useful information in A Practical Guide to Monsters for how to defend themselves that may help allay their fears.

But, really, people are probably fascinated by monsters because they are just plain fun. The book is filled with a huge diversity of monsters, with many different awesome powers that you can imagine you have. I mean, who wouldn't enjoy imagining they're a beholder, who can freeze people with their petrifying eye ray?

If you could go back and talk to yourself when you were beginning in this field, what advice would you offer?

As an editor who writes, it's very hard to turn off that self-editing instinct. So I would tell my internal editor "Stop criticizing me!" And then my internal editor would tell me not to tell it what to do.

What can your fans look forward to next?

On the writing side, I'm working on a bunch of picture book projects that have yet to see the light of day. Editing-wise, we're launching the Supernatural Rubber Chicken series by D.L. Garfinkle (author interview), with illustrations by Ethan Long in June 2008 and I'm continuing to edit new books in the delightful Time Spies series by Candice Ransom.

Practical Guide fans can look forward to two more Practical Guides coming soon, A Practical Guide to Dragon Riding (by Lisa Trumbauer) and a Practical Guide to Wizardry (by Susan Morris).

SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008

SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008
March 29 and March 30, 2008
Bologna, Italy
In cooperation with the Bologna Children's Book Fair

The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) is happy to announce that Emmanuel Guibert and Marc Boutavant, creators of the graphic novel/comic book ARIOL; Paul O. Zelinsky; Fiametta Giorgi, editor Mondadori publishing; Pauline Mermet, editor Bayard BD; and Martha Rago, art director HarperCollins join the list of speakers for the 2008 SCBWI Bologna conference, to be held March 29 and March 30 at the Bologna Book Fair site in Bologna, Italy.

Speakers also include:

Tracey Adams, literary agent
Val Brathwaite, art director, Bloomsbury UK
Stephen Barbara, literary agent
Babette Cole, author-illustrator
Steve Chudney, literary agent,
Pat Cummings, author-illustrator
Kathleen Duey, NBA-finalist author (interview)
Susan Fletcher, author
Susanne Gervay, author
Candy Gourlay, author
Katherine Halligan , editor, Scholastic UK Ltd
Laura Harris, publisher Penguin Australia
Jana Hunter, author-illustrator
Susanne Koppe, literary agent
Nancy Miles, literary agent,
Sarah Odedina, publisher, Bloomsbury UK
John Shelley, illustrator
Bridget Strevens-Marzo, author-illustrator
Cecilia Yung, art director, Penguin Putnum US
and others from the world of children's publishing

Register at: http://scbwi.org/events.htm

For more information about the conference or speakers, please contact Erzsi Deak at Bologna@scbwi.org

Cynsational News & Links

Rita Williams-Garcia interviews the National Book Award finalists: Sherman Alexie; Kathleen Duey; M. Sindy Felin; Brian Selznick; and Sara Zarr. See also Cynsations interviews with Rita, Kathleen, and Sara.

Robert's Snow for Cancer's Cure

Robert's Snow is an online auction that benefits Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. More than 200 children's book illustrators have created art on individual snowflake-shaped wooden templates. Please stop by to view all the 2007 snowflakes here.

Interviews and features on participating illustrators are being posted throughout the kidlitosphere.

Oct. 22: Mark Teague at The Miss Rumphius Effect; Sharon Vargo at Finding Wonderland; Christopher Demarest at Writing and Ruminating; Rose Mary Berlin at Charlotte's Library; David Macaulay at Here in the Bonny Glen.

Oct. 23: Carin Berger at Chasing Ray; Marion Eldridge at Chicken Spaghetti; Sophie Blackall at not your mother's bookclub; Erik Brooks at Bildungsroman; Brian Lies at Greetings from Nowhere.

Oct. 24: Elisa Kleven at Rozzie Land; Consie Powell at Becky's Book Reviews; Jimmy Pickering at Shaken & Stirred; Frank Dormer at What Adrienne Thinks About That; Sheila Bailey at Lizjonesbooks.

Oct. 25: Julia Denos at Interactive Reader; Rebecca Doughty at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy; Brian Floca at A Fuse #8 Production; Margaret Chodos-Irvine at readergirlz.

Oct. 26: David Ezra Stein at HipWriterMama; Juli Kangas at Sam Riddleburger's blog; Ginger Nielson at Miss O's School Library; Margot Apple at Jo's Journal.

Oct. 27: Julie Fromme Fortenberry at Your Neighborhood Librarian; Sarah Dillard at The Silver Lining; John Hassett at cynthialord's Journal; Abigail Marble at Please Come Flying.

Oct. 28: Ashley Wolff at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy; Barbara Garrison at Brooklyn Arden; Kelly Murphy at ChatRabbit.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Keeper of the Night Giveaway

Author Kimberly Willis Holt is giving away a signed hardcover copy of Keeper of the Night (Henry Holt)(excerpt) to each of the first three people who email her tomorrow--Wednesday, Oct. 24--with their name and snail/street mail address. Emails may be sent to her beginning at any time that day. See more information.

From the flap copy:

"Isabel's mother died peacefully. At least that's what Isabel likes to think since no one will talk about the truth. But the truth has a way of revealing itself at night. Ta`Ta sleeps curled up on the floor right where Mama's body was found. Olivia wets her bed and wakes repeatedly from nightmares, and Frank starts carving his anger into his bedroom wall. It's up to Isabel to help her family get beyond the pain and loss—to be the keeper of the night. But who will be there for Isabel and help her through to the other side?

"Set on the lush island of Guam, Kimberly Willis Holt has written a painfully beautiful story about a young woman’s struggle to protect her family after suicide hits home."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Predator or Prey Giveaway Winners

"Alas, I can't enter. As I approach my mid fifties, surrounded by young novelists, I find myself more and more not predator or prey, but predater."
-- author David Lubar

From Oct. 2 to Oct. 15, I invited Cynsations (also at LJ), Spookycyn, and MySpace readers to answer the following question: Are you predator or prey?

(It's the same question asked in my recent novel, Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007), to diners at a fictional vampire-themed restaurant called Sanguini's.)

Today I'm announcing the winners of three Tantalize prize packages. Two will go to people who connect books to YA readers (booksellers, teachers, librarians) and one will go to an individual reader.

The packages each include an autographed copy of Tantalize, a Sanguini's T-shirt, bat and wolf finger puppets, stickers, and additional surprises!

In addition, the individual winner will receive one signed Tantalize bookmark, and the bookseller/teacher/librarian winners will each receive a stack of twenty signed bookmarks.

I'll also send autographed bookmark stacks to runners-up in the bookseller/teacher/librarian category. Note: Due to volume of entries, I added two runner-up slots in the individual category.

WARNING: some winning entries include spoilers to the novel.

Individual Winner

"I am most definitely a predator because of my headstrong nature. I tend to love coming first, which drives me to always want to win, but if I do lose, I back down willingly and silently. This only drives me to do better the next time around, and I tend to come back with a bite.

"I am a nice person, and I am loyal and trusting to everyone I meet until they do something that would otherwise incline me not to be. If so, there are rarely such things as second chances. But in some cases there are, and they have to work twice as hard to win me back.

"I'm always there for everyone I know; I am the ear that everyone relies on to be clear and open for listening. I know more secrets about people than anyone knows.

"I love to try new things at least once, so I doubt eating a squirrel would be too hard for me. Anyways, it is all in the head...right? I believe it is, and those things you are scared of are usually the most thrilling and the most fun. So, why not experience them while you have the chance? One of my favorite quotes explains it all: 'It is important to live life, not exist in it.' --Wayne Newton.

"I am the predator; I take chances when the time comes, leap at opportunities that benefit me and occasionally others. I am most certainly not skittish of blood. On the contrary, it intrigues me, and I love fresh meat... BRING ON THE CHILLED BABY SQUIRREL, BRADLEY!!!

"P.S. this goes to Bradley...you can give me a drink of red wine anytime."

--a YA reader

runners-up in the individual category

"I would, unfortunately, consider myself to be in the prey category. Over the years, I have let many people take advantage of my kindness, whether it be as small as a piece of gum, or as large as a sum of money, or a favorite book. I think that they see in me that I will lend them things or go along with them. I can't seem to say 'no' to people, unless it involves controlled substances.

"'Predators' seem to view me as a warm gooey chocolate chip cookie that just want to get their grubby hands on and devour until all that's left is a dribble of crumbs. Certainly, though, I am attempting to curb my prey appeal to the vast world of predators, but, as of now, I still regard myself as one of the hunted."

--a YA reader from Washington (state)

"I would definitely be a predator, because, to be honest, I couldn't stand to think that someone else would be brave enough to eat squirrels if I couldn't. I would have to eat them, too, to prove to myself I could do it. Plus, I've always been a dominant person, and I know if I was a wild animal I would probably be a wolf or something. I'm also a naturally darker person."

--a YA reader

Teacher/Librarian/Bookseller Winners

"I am a predator. I am headstrong, and I always stand out. I am the first to step up and take charge, and I always make myself heard. I am passionate about everything I do, but I do not take any gruff. I am confident in my own skin, and my every imperfection. That is what makes me a predator."

--K, a bookseller from Pennsylvania

"I have not yet read your book! Want to know why? I carried it to class. That's why! Silly me! It was snatched from my hands and is making the rounds of the students... I see it, now and then, as it passes from one set of hands to the others. So...I need to win. Otherwise I will have to wait for a long time, as I'm sure I won't see my copy before spring break.

"Which...is just one of the reasons why I think I'm prey. I know I'm prey. I am too easy to be the predator. A sane person would just say, 'Give it back, kids! I bought it! It is mine!' Right?

"A predator would've made the school pay for it...or the kids! Yeah! That's what a predator would do. But...I am prey, I have always been prey (all of my lifetimes), and I imagine I always will be. Well, that is okay. Can't have predators without prey, I guess, so at least I serve a purpose.

"Then again my intent was to get them interested...so...maybe being prey is simply one effective way to get what you want (be the predator, so to speak)...if you are sly enough. *evil laugh*"

--K, a teacher from Florida

Cynsational Notes

Ten runners-up in the teacher/librarian/bookseller category have also been contacted. They'll each receive an autographed stack of bookmarks, stickers, and--just for fun--bat tissues and vampire napkins.

I elected not to list names of the entrants (who may prefer to remain anonymous), but they are certainly welcome to shout-out their winning status, if they'd like.

Entries by predators outnumbered entries by prey by about a two-to-one margin. Interpret at will, and be careful out there.

Texas Library Association District III; Star-Lit: A Children's Literary Festival

I had the honor of offering a presentation to members of TLA District III (Austin area/Central Texas) Oct. 19 at the new Georgetown Public Library.

My talk featured: a brief introduction to my writing; the story behind the writing of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007); a reading of my latest picture book, Santa Knows, co-authored by Greg Leitich Smith, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman (Dutton, 2006); a brief Q&A period; and a book-talk giveaway of recent and autographed titles by District III-area authors.

Highlighted authors and titles included: Runaround by Helen Hemphill (Front Street, 2007)(author interview); My Life as a Rhombus by Varian Johnson (Flux, 2007)(ARC); Brothers, Boyfriends & Other Criminal Minds by April Lurie (Delacorte, 2007)(author interview); The Silverskin Legacy trilogy (all three titles!) by Jo Whittemore (Llewellyn, 2006-2007)(author interview); Wonders of the World by Brian Yansky (Flux, 2007)(author interview); Alpha Dog by Jennifer Ziegler (Delacorte, 2006)(author interview)(excerpt).

I also made available copies of a speaker's directory of published members of Austin SCBWI (thanks to both regional adviser Tim Crow and Julie Lake (author interview) for their behind-the-scenes help!).

Visiting the Georgetown Library was a treat. The design is marked by its natural light, generous meeting space, inviting children's book area (featuring imaginative and inspiring murals by Austin illustrator Tony Sansevero), and enormously innovative teen area (with booths, funky low chairs, display area, and more!).

My thanks to Karen and everyone at District III for their hospitality, enthusiasm, hard work, and for all they do for central Texas readers!

Star-Lit: A Children's Literary Festival was scheduled for the next day at St. Andrews Methodist Church in Plano, Texas. The event benefited the Dallas Bethlehem Center, and featured authors and illustrators included: Will Hillenbrand; Dee Scallan and Daniel Myers; Laura Numeroff; Bryan Collier; Kim Brown; Kimberly Willis Holt; Cynthia Leitich Smith; Greg Leitich Smith; and Tracy Dockray.

So, after visiting with TLA members, Greg and I continued north on I-35 to the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. That evening, our escort Hope brought us to the Star-Lit author reception at Dealey Plaza, where we visited the Sixth Floor Museum and then enjoyed first-rate barbecue.

The next day, we took part in the "Breakfast with the Authors" and then offered two presentations to standing-room-only crowds. Thanks to Hope, Jeff, and everyone at Star-Lit for a wonderful event! [Here's sending a special cheer to the Lamar Middle School Book Club--I loved the photos and card!] Please learn more about the Dallas Bethlehem Center.

For a more informal take on the weekend, check out "All Roads Lead to Plano" at Spookycyn.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cynsational News & Links

Alex Flinn, author of Beastly (HarperCollins, 2007): from the YA Authors Cafe.

From Page to Screen" David Cunningham's 'The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising' by Claire E. Gross from The Horn Book.

Diane Greenseid: Sporadic Thoughts and Activities of a Children’s Book Illustrator. Diane's books include Waynetta and the Cornstalk: A Texas Fairy Tale by Helen Ketteman (Albert Whitman, 2007). See more titles.

Free Autographed Bookplates from Children's and YA Authors, or How to Get Your Book "Autographed" by an Author by Cheryl Rainfield. Features information on YA/teen authors, picture book authors, and other children's authors. See also Teen Books that Have Something to Say from Cheryl.

U.S. names entries for IBBY Honour List from the International Reading Association. The following titles will represent the U.S. on the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Honour List: Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (Harcourt, 2005)(recommendation) in the author category; Jazz (Holiday House, 2006), written by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers, in the illustration category; and Emil and Karl (Roaring Brook Press, 2006), written by Yankev Glathteyn and translated by Jeffrey Shandler, in the translation category.

Character Building with Alma Fullerton: a chat transcript from the Institute of Children's Literature. Visit Alma's site.

Children's Book Blog Tours: "children's book authors and illustrators now on blog tours" from Anastasia Suen.

Children's Book Blogs Workshop: a five-day email course by Anastasia Suen for children's authors and illustrators who want to learn about blogging.

Hot Off the Press: A Sneak Peek at Publishers' Newest and Hottest Titles from CBC Magazine.

Robert's Snow for Cancer's Cure

Robert's Snow is an online auction that benefits Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. More than 200 children's book illustrators have created art on individual snowflake-shaped wooden templates. Please stop by to view all the 2007 snowflakes here.

Interviews and features on participating illustrators are being posted throughout the kidlitospher. Just for fun, I'd like to highlight:

The First Snow: Don Tate from The Silver Lining. Read a Cynsations interview with Don.

See also illustrator interviews and/or features on: Rick Chrustowski at laurasalas; Diane DeGroat at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup; Ilene Richard at Something Different Every Day; Brie Spangler at Lectitans; Brooke Dyer at Bookshelves of Doom; D.B. Johnson at Lessons from the Tortoise; Erin Eitter Kono at Sam Riddleburger; Sherry Rogers at A Life in Books; Jennifer Thermes at Through the Studio Door; Graeme Base at Just One More Book; Denise Fleming at MotherReader; Jeff Mack at AmoXcalli; Jeff Newman at A Year of Reading; Ruth Sanderson at Book Moot; Linas Alsenas at A Wrung Sponge; Theresa Brandon at The Shady Glade; Karen Katz at Whimsy Books; Judy Schachner at Kate's Book Blog; Sally Vitsky at Shelf Elf: read, write, rave; Matthew Cordell at Just Like the Nut; Maxwell Eaton III at Books and Other Thoughts; Roz Fulcher at Goading the Pen; Susie Jin at sruble's world; and Susan Mitchell at Check It Out. Note: I'm catching up from having been off-line while on the road, so you may have to scroll a bit, but that will give you the opportunity to check out some of these wonderful blogs! See also Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (and other youth literature blogs) for more coverage!

Note to Blog Readers about Blogging for a Cure from Wild Rose Reader. Details the purely logistical reasons while some participating illustrators are featured and others aren't.

More Personally

I spoke to a boo-fest bevy of teen (and grown-up) fiends at the Plano Public Library (outside Dallas) Oct. 13 about Gothic fantasy literature and Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). The event room was gorgeously decorated with (paper) candles hanging from the ceiling, a Sanguini's table set up (cake, punch, nuts, etc.), signs tying into the book, tombstones, pin-the-tail on the werewolf, a smoke machine, strobe lights, and much much, more. In addition, stations were set up for temporary tattoos (fang and scratch marks), buttons (chapter titles represented were "predator," "prey," "Fangs Are Us" and "Baby Got Bite"), and photos of the much-costumed guests. I also was presented a corsage (complete with teeth), and a gift bag filled with a Gothtini, framed event announcement, mug, candies, and pen. The event opened with the stations and food. Then I offered a PowerPoint presentation on my own book and recommended several other YA Gothic fantasies. We wrapped up with a signing, costume contest judging, and giveaways. Note: I don't feature kid/teen photos online without permission, but we had a boisterous, gloriously vamp-ish crowd. Thanks to Deban and pals for a spooky fantastic event!

Plan to attend the Twenty-Fifth Annual Children's Book Festival and the Twenty-First Annual Young Adult Conference hosted by The Department of Library Science at Sam Houston State University Nov. 3 in Huntsville. Featured speakers are: Joan Bauer, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, and Mo Willems.

Attending the Texas Book Festival Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 in Austin? I will be among the YA authors featured at the Not-For-Required Reading Event from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar (1120 S. Lamar). Authors also will include: Sherman Alexie, Jacques Couvillon, Adrienne Kress, April Lurie (author interview), Perry Moore, Neal Shusterman, and Brian Yansky (author interview). Note: I'll be a little late as I'm driving in from Huntsville that evening with Greg and Mo. I'll also participate with authors Adrienne Kress and April Lurie on the "Tough Girls" panel, moderated by author Julie Lake, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 4 in Capitol Extension Room E2.012. See schedules for Saturday and Sunday.

Reminder: Attention MySpacers! On the online events front, I'm honored to be featured as one of 31 Flavorite Authors by the Readergirlz on Oct. 29! I'll be chatting about Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007).
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