Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cynsational News & Links

The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith: an interview from the YA Authors Cafe. Here's a sneak peek: "It's a story about hope, but it's also about loss. A lot of people can’t bear to read sad stories, but I’ve always been really drawn to them, because they move you in a way that makes them really meaningful. My favorite books growing up were always the ones with a lot of heart, books like Where the Red Fern Grows and Bridge to Terabithia--the kinds of stories where you really feel like you've really been through something by the time you reach the end." Visit Jennifer at MySpace!

At Question-of-the-Week Thursday, Robin Friedman asks Sara Zarr: "How has your life changed since being nominated for a National Book Award?" Read Cynsations interviews with Robin and Sara.

"How to Impress an Editor" by Jill Esbaum from Down a Dusty Gravel Road. Jill says: "Last fall, for our state SCBWI conference, my RA asked me to work up something to read to the group regarding conference etiquette--hoping to avoid the old accost-the-editor-in-the-restroom embarrassment." Read a Cynsations interview with Jill.

Check out the new book trailer for Big Slick by Eric Luper (FSG, 2007)(scroll to read excerpt). See also a recent recommendation of the novel by Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Read Eric's LJ, and visit him at MySpace!

Boys Blogging Books: Reviews, Interviews, and What We Really Like in a Book from Kurtis (age 14), Michael (age 12), and David (age 12).

Survival Stories: a bibliography from The Horn Book. Note: an interview with Susan Beth Pfeffer, author of Life As We Knew It (Harcourt, 2006)(excerpt), is coming soon to Cynsations. Read a Cynsations interview with Roger Sutton, editor of The Horn Book.

3 Evil Cousins: Book Reviews 4 and By Teens offers interviews with Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, and Libba Bray! See also Cynsations interviews with Cassandra, Holly, and Libba!

Teens: Branding for Beginners by Eve Conant from Newsweek. Here's a sneak peek: "...brand names appeared an average of more than once per page: 1,553 references in all. Among them were 65 allusions to brand-name alcohols, cigarettes or prescription drugs." Note: discusses "six best-selling novels from the Gossip Girl, A-List and Clique series." Source: April Henry.

Australian Author Wins Lindgren Award: $818,000 Prize Is Largest in Children's Lit by Malin Rising of the Associated Press from The Washington Post.

Congratulations to Dori Chaconas on the release of Cork & Fuzz: The Collectors, illustrated by Lisa McCue (Viking, 2008)! Read a Cynsations interview with Dori. Read Dori's LJ. Source: Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup. See also Picture Books: Plan, Polish, and Publish as well as Writing in Rhythm and Rhyme, both by Dori.

Reminder

Austin SCBWI offers a great line-up for its April 26 conference. Speakers include: author and editor Deborah Noyes Wayshak from Candlewick Press (author-editor interview); Alvina Ling from Little Brown (personal blog); agent Erin Murphy (interview from Olswanger.com)(interview by Pam Mingle from Kite Tales, Rocky Mountain chapter, SCBWI); artist's agent Christina Tugeau; and writing professor Peter Jacobi. See details at Austin SCBWI. Note: I hope to see you there!

The SCBWI Bologna 2008 series is ongoing here at Cynsations! Check back Monday for more interviews with authors, illustrators, editors, art directors, agents, and more from the U.S. and around the world.

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org

More Personally

My apologies to anyone hoping to see me and Greg at the Illinois Reading Council conference in Springfield this weekend. As we tried to check our bags at the Austin Airport, we were informed that our flight was canceled, nothing else that day was going to Springfield, and that the soonest we could get to Chicago (and rent a car to drive the rest of the way) would be 10 a.m. the next day. We were supposed to speak at 8 a.m. We felt terrible and frustrated and considered driving, but, after some debate, decided we wouldn't be worth much after 17 hours on the road. Again, my apologies. Note: no reason was given for the flight cancellation by American Airlines.

The winners of the Tantalize audio giveaway (including a Sanguini's T-shirt) were a YA reader from Los Vegas and a librarian from Lebanon, Tennessee. Congratulations to the winners, thanks to all who entered, please watch this blog for future giveaways!

In other exciting news, this month you can enter to win a hardcover copy of Tantalize from the Imperial Beach Teen Blog of the Imperial Beach Library in Imperial Beach, California. Runner-ups will receive an author-signed bookmark!

Friday, March 14, 2008

SCBWI Bologna 2008 Agent Interview: Josh Adams of Adams Literary

Josh Adams co-founded the Adams Literary in the U.S., which exclusively represents children's book authors and artists, with his wife Tracey Adams (agent interview). The agency is affiliated to David Higham in the U.K. Anita Loughrey interviewed him in January, as one of the speakers at the SCBWI Bologna Conference 2008 (scheduled for March 29 and March 30 in Bologna, Italy).

What is the book or experience that made you want to work in children's literature as a literary agent?

JA: I can say with all certainty I would not be working in children's literature as a literary agent if it weren't for my wife, Tracey. I've always admired her passion and dedication to children's literature, and even before we started Adams Literary together in 2004, I had accompanied Tracey to many industry events and kept up-to-date on new books and trends.

From day one, I was intimately involved in every aspect of the business except agenting, which I really wanted to do but couldn't because, in addition to my role at Adams Literary, I was working as a full-time consultant.

It wasn't until after we moved to Charlotte, N.C., in October 2005, that I was able to start agenting. I've always enjoyed my work, but being a part of Adams Literary and helping our clients to accomplish their dreams is the most meaningful and rewarding professional experience I've ever had.

Do you have a background in publishing?

JA: I do have a background in publishing: magazine publishing. I was an editor at several national magazines for nearly a decade, most recently overseeing the editorial content for two magazines, and developing new magazine properties and publishing tie-ins, including books.

In 2000, I left publishing to get my MBA at Columbia Business School, and after graduating, I transitioned into marketing and brand strategy consulting for major international companies. I definitely think my experience in magazine publishing and consulting (as well as my MBA), have helped me to be a literary agent, especially when it comes to looking at books and potential client projects from both a creative and business perspective.

In your opinion, what makes a good agent?

JA: Passion, perseverance, an eye for talent, a thick skin, negotiation skills, people skills, ability to multi-task, a long-term perspective, and, last but not least, a sense of humor.

At what point in a manuscript do you "know" you either want to work on the project or not?

JA: I usually know pretty early on--usually by the end of the first chapter, if not the first paragraph. I'm an optimist, so I'll hope the rest of the manuscript holds up. And of course I'll want to know what else the person is planning, as we don't represent clients on a book-by-book basis. It's really important for me and Tracey to love an author or artist's work, so that's our main criteria when taking on a new client.

The hardest part for me is saying "no" to someone who I know is talented or whose work I know will sell (they may even have an offer in hand), but whose work I just don't fully connect with. But saying "yes" in such a case just wouldn't feel right to us or be fair to the potential client.

For you, what does the ideal cover letter say?

JA: As little as possible. It should say who the person is, how they came to us (by referral or conference), what they're submitting, and what else they're working on. We also want to know that the person has put thought into why they're submitting to Adams Literary.

If it's clear it's a mass cover letter, I will not give it as much consideration.

If it has another agent's name on it (yes, it's happened), I'll throw it away.

What kinds of things "turn you off" a manuscript right away?

JA: Unlikeable characters and lack of detail. I need to feel like I can make an investment of time in the characters, and I need to be able to visualize what's happening.

Do you get involved with the marketing aspect of the book?

JA: We're certainly involved in marketing manuscripts, and we do as much as we can to promote our clients' work, highlighting it in our newsletter that goes out to editors and publishers worldwide, film and television producers, as well as people who've signed up on our site.

We also produce rights guides for Frankfurt and Bologna, and we attend Bologna annually.

We work closely with our clients, their editors and the marketing departments to facilitate coverage of books and events, and we share the best practices of our clients among them, as we feel authors are often (and certainly should be) the most effective marketers of their own books.

And, finally, we certainly put our clients in touch with marketers specializing in children's books if and when they want an extra push beyond what the publisher has done.

Do you give any pre-submission editing and revision requests to your clients?

JA: Yes, but my suggested revisions are typically more high-level--I don't line-edit, as I believe that's the editor's job--and they are only recommendations. My comments are aimed at clarifying any questions or issues I think readers will have, giving an overall sense of what I think works well or can be improved, and strengthening the work.

I don't expect manuscripts to come to me in perfect shape, as I believe it's my job to see the potential that's there. Obviously, the more polished a manuscript is at the time of submission, the better the chance there is that an editor will want to acquire it.

Although it doesn't happen often, I'll still send something out if a client doesn't agree with my suggested changes, provided they seriously consider the feedback from editors.

One of the reasons I don't line-edit is that we could send a manuscript out to five editors, and get five totally different responses, since tastes are subjective. Of course, if we get five responses all citing the same issues I'd mentioned, then I'd ask the client to revisit those issues before submitting further.

You co-founded the Adams Literary Agency with your wife, Tracey Adams, in 2004. Whose idea was it to work together?

JA: It was really a mutual decision. For years I'd wanted to have my own business, but wasn't sure what it would be, and Tracey at the time felt the need to have more autonomy in her work than she could at her previous (or, for that matter, any other) agency.

We were both excited by the prospect of starting a literary agency specializing in children's books in a very forward-thinking way. We both share a very "old-school" view of the industry--in that it's all based on relationships--but wanted to reinvent what we felt was often a very traditional and outdated way of doing things.

For instance, we were one of the first to have a Web site and to publicize our client list. We also continually strive to find new and better ways of accomplishing the routine tasks an agent must do. It's satisfying to be able to think "out of the box" and try new things without anyone telling us, "Well, we've always done it this way."

As a husband and wife team, how do you compliment and contrast each other?

JA: Tracey's computer desktop is very messy, and her actual desktop is very neat. My computer desktop is very neat, and my actual desktop is very messy. But, more seriously, we've somehow learned to build on each other's strengths while trying to avoid each other's weaknesses. I think we've both learned a lot from each other, and continue to do so every day.

We were profiled last summer in a Charlotte magazine article about couples who work together, and the writer asked for our advice to couples who are considering working together but have reservations about it.

Our advice was simple: If you have any reservations, don't do it. It may seem odd to some people who can't imagine working with their spouse--and we fully appreciate that there are many loving couples who couldn't--but Tracey and I really never thought twice about working together. We frequently joke that we share the same brain, which isn't far from the truth.

Describe your working relationship at the Adams Literary Agency?

JA: We really work together as a team on everything. We consult each other about any major decisions or issues, and we keep each other up-to-date on everything that's happening, so if need be, either one of us can pick something up where the other left off.

Though Tracey or I may handle the day-to-day management of a particular client more than the other, we don't work with the notion that someone is a "Tracey" client or a "Josh" client. All of our clients are Adams Literary clients.

Tracey and I share the same philosophy about our business, our dedication to clients, and largely our taste in books, and--perhaps because of my background in branding--we work hard to maintain our reputation, and build the Adams Literary "brand" that is based on our philosophy. There are many good agencies and agents out there, and many different working styles and personalities, and I think our philosophy helps to differentiate us from other agencies.

How do you keep your working relationship separate from your home commitments?

JA: This is perhaps the most difficult part of having your own business--especially when it's run out of your home. Since this is Tracey's and my livelihood, and it's our name on the business, there really is no "off" switch. But as much as we love what we do, we need time away from it, too. Tracey is a bit better than I am at switching off work-mode after hours. So even though you might get an email from me late at night and I will constantly check my iPhone for email when I'm away from the office, I do have one hard rule: I don't respond to email on the weekends.

Cynsational Notes

Don't miss: SCBWI Bologna 2008 Agent Interview: Tracey Adams of Adams Literary from Cynsations.

Anita Loughrey writes teacher resources and children's non-fiction. Her books have been published by A&C Black, Hopscotch and Brilliant Publications. She also writes regular features for Writers' Forum in the U.K. about authors and the writing industry. She recently interviewed all 31 speakers for 2008's Bologna Conference.

The SCBWI Bologna 2008 interview series is brought to you by the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference in conjunction with Cynsations.

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org

Thursday, March 13, 2008

SCBWI Bologna 2008 Author Interview: Susanne Gervay

Susanne Gervay is an Australian author who writes children's and young adult fiction. As the daughter of Hungarian post-war refugees, a mother, and a cancer survivor, her experiences empower her to write books that reach out to youth on their journey to adulthood.

Her young adult books break into new territory and include That's Why I Wrote this Song, The Cave, and Butterflies.

Her best-selling younger fiction, I Am Jack, tackles school bullying with humor and insight. Tricycle Press (Ten Speed Pres) has recently bought the rights to I Am Jack for released in the U.S. in fall 2009, with an option for the sequel Super Jack. The book also has been adapted as a play by the premier theater company, Monkey Baa Theatre (it has been placed on the international touring list for 2009 when it will be released in the U.S.).

Anita Loughrey interviewed her in November 2007, as one of the speakers at the SCBWI Bologna Conference 2008 (scheduled for March 29 and March 30 in Bologna, Italy).

Did you always want to be a writer?

SG: I thought all eight-year-old kids wrote stories and poems. It was something I did for escapism from the turbulent family life of being the daughter of post-war refugees. Sometimes my writing was funny. Other times, it acted as a way of understanding life.

I wrote because that is who I am. I didn't think of it as a career. I'm always surprised that I became a writer and grateful for it.

What other jobs have you had (that led to being a writer)?

SG: A teacher, journalist, hotelier, daughter, wife, and the mother of two fantastic kids.

What are you working on at the moment?

SG: I have just finished a hectic promotional tour of my new YA novel, That's Why I Wrote This Song, which took me across Australia from Western Australia to Darwin. So, I'm now considering where to start--a third book in the I am Jack series or an autobiographically-inspired YA novel called Rosie.

If you could be a character from one of your books, who would it be and why this particular character?

SG: I am a character in my books. I'm the Mum in I Am Jack and Super Jack. Of course, I'm an excellent Mum. (My kids think my star jumps are so embarrassing.) My Jack books are inspired by my family, filled with all the funny and sad bits of life, with Nanna who loses her teeth and Rob who washes dishes until they sparkle and Jack who tells great jokes.

I Am Jack was written for my son when he was bullied at school and has become a rite-of-passage book on school bullying in Australia.

How has your childhood influenced what you write?

SG: I often feel that children's and YA authors are stuck in those turbulent years between childhood and adulthood. It's as though we live in a dual world where the child and the adult walk hand in hand.

As the child of post world war Hungarian refugees who experienced Nazism, then communism, to escape and find a new home in Australia, childhood was passionate, loving, painful, scary. I wanted to write for young people, so that life is less scary and so they have fellow traveler in life, in the pages of my books.

What was your favorite book as a child or adolescent?

SG: I read To Kill a Mockingbird at 15. It was the defining book for me, as I sought to understand human relations and the great issues of life from family to racism to power.

Is there a book already published that you wish you had written? Why?

SG: It's To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch, the father is like my father in many ways, with his courage, honor and love. My father was a hero, too. He didn't know it, like Atticus, but he was. My father appears in many of my books in different ways. He's the grandfather in The Cave.

How long does it take you to write a book?

SG: Books take me a long time to write. I have to be profoundly affected by something to write about it. I think, rethink, emotionally engage, start to play with story and emotions.

Depending on the book, I research as well. For my YA novel, Butterflies, I spent six months researching, interviewing, understanding burns before I wrote. It is a book about the emotional, psychological, physical, social challenges of growing up with burns.

It was tough writing as I lived inside the world of Katherine to discover her courage and how we can be greater than our "burns." However, Butterflies is more than burns. It shows the ebb and flow of emotions that affect us all, particularly in the transition between childhood and adulthood.

On average, it takes me a year to write a book. However my latest book That's Why I Wrote This Song, with music and lyrics by my daughter Tory, took three years.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

SG: Having the courage to start. To jump into a journey that will become my life for a long time. I can't separate from my characters and story, so it's like a fantasy book without the fantasy. I slip through the wardrobe like in Narnia, and am in that world. I cry when the characters suffer, laugh when they are funny and grow as they grow. I find the process emotionally challenging.

Do you work with the television, radio, or stereo on? In cafés, nursing a half-cup of lukewarm tea or in isolation?

SG: I usually have music on. It gets me in the mood. When I was writing That's Why I Wrote This Song, rock music blasted from my study. Usually I'm a Pavarotti girl, not a rock chick. However, this book and music was about the youth music scene, and I was emotionally there at those festivals, music gigs and living the life. So Good Charlotte and Eminem rocked from my stereo.

I write alone in my study on my computer, as I need the space to enter into another consciousness.

You have battled with breast cancer and come out the other side. Were you still writing whilst you were fighting the cancer? If so, what were you writing? Did writing help?

SG: When I told my son that I had cancer, he said, "But Mum you never die." We laughed because it's true. Illness is just one of those challenges that has been in my life since I've been two years old. For all its hardships, it offers gifts.

Through it, healing has become part of the DNA of my writing. I could not have written Butterflies without it. Butterflies is currently part of a traveling exhibition on "Outstanding Youth Literature on Disability" (IBBY); I Am Jack is a rite-of-passage book in Australia dealing with school bullying and being adapted into a play which will tour regional Australia in 2008.

My recent YA novel written for my daughter, who wrote the lyrics and music that integrate into the text, was completed during a hard time of illness. Nothing would stop me writing it for her. It's just been published and is a celebration of our relationship and that search for identity intrinsic to youth.

While my books are endorsed by Life Education Australia, The Children's Hospital Sydney, National Coalition Against Bullying, WAYS (Youth Outreach Services), NSW Cancer Council and other organizations, they are never didactic. They are always story with passions and loves and humor, engaging readers into that turbulent passage between childhood and adulthood in a journey that is theirs.

My books are trade books but are also read extensively in schools and are part of many programs that reach out to youth.

On Tuesday 27th November 2007, I was awarded the Lady Cutler Award for Distinguished Services to Children's Literature in Australia by the CBC (Children's Book Council). I am very proud of that.

(See the following article ["Patients Have a Voice"] I was asked to write for GOFUND supported by Nicole Kidman who is a patron. This explains more fully that relationship between illness and writing.)

How much do you think a writer needs to market his/herself/the work? What do you suggest?

SG: A writer has to be a performer today who is prepared to market his/her work. Word of mouth is of course the best form of marketing. If your work speaks to the reader, then that is powerful. However, you have to get your book to the reader first to start the word of mouth process. That's where marketing is essential.

When I have a new book released, I do a lot of radio interviews especially on the ABC (like the BBC) stations across Australia from Perth to Canberra to Adelaide. I also do newspaper and magazine interviews. Television is difficult is much more limited, and I usually only do one or two segments. I speak at writers' festivals, conferences and schools.

A launch is a good idea, depending on the book. That’s Why I Wrote This Song is such an innovative book crossing into music and film. So it was good to launch it. We had the event at Bondi Pavilion Theatre overlooking Bondi Beach. Tory and her band Not Perfect performed the songs that drive the book--"I Wanna Be Found" and "Psycho Dad." It was launched by The Herd, a hip hop band which is popular in Australia and endorsed by WAYS a youth organization that runs Bondi Blitz Battle of the Youth Bands at Bondi Beach.

There were hundreds of people, and it received media coverage and reviews in the Sydney Morning Herald and was a great celebration.

I find there are problems now in balancing the marketing and writing, with talks and media taking increasing amounts of time and preparation.

Do you have a blog, and if so, how often do you blog? Do you get lots of feedback from readers?

SG: My blog is on my MySpace, which readers access through my website.

I get some reader feedback through my blog, but most readers email me directly rather than on my MySpace blog. My website and youtube is getting increasing usage, so while readers may not send feedback, but they are reading my blog.

Can you share your favorite fan mail, if you have one?

SG: When a reader relates to a book, they often feel they know the author personally. It's like the reader and author are friends. I get lots of fan mail. Here are a few examples:

Dear Susanne Gervay:

I loved your book Butterflies and if this has not yet been suggested it is I think a great idea. The book Butterflies made me cry and a movie would be even greater.

Thanks,
Jessica


Subject: That's Why I Wrote this song...

IS totally awesome! I started reading, and couldn't put it down--I finished it in the first two days. I loved the relationship between the girls, and the way you totally captured their world--I'm amazed at how you do that so convincingly and make it seem so authentic...wow.

Sarah


What was it like collaborating with your daughter to write That's Why I Wrote This Song?

SG: It took three turbulent years to create That's Why I Wrote This Song. Working as a mother-daughter team was at times hilarious, loving, and very hard.

When my daughter Tory, who was seventeen, asked me to write a book inspired by her, it was such a deep request. Tory and I had been through a great deal together. Illness has always been part of my life, which, as a sole parent, has been tough on my children. Tory was deeply affected. We laughed and had such special times as she dressed my wounds and helped me. So how privileged was I to write for her. Nothing could stop me writing this book, and although it would be fictional, the spirit would be hers.

Tory writes rock songs. Rock is such a powerful form of youth expression as it reaches into the eternal quest of search for identity. That's what is intrinsic to Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, The Stones, Queen and the many other rock writers and singers over the past decades. My books are always about search for identity in its many shapes and forms. Our book would connect through music.

The title That's Why I Wrote This Song came from Tory's rock song "Psycho Dad." The lyrics of two of her songs "Psycho Dad" and "I Wanna Be Found" would become the driving force in our book. The songs drive the narrative, characters, and themes as the music and lyrics meld with my text.

Once we started the journey of the book, life became very tense. I write honestly and I trod into sensitive areas. It was turbulent and many times in the process, I questioned ever doing it. So did Tory. However, That's Why I Wrote This Song has finally been released, and it is special and our mother-daughter relationship even stronger.

What sort of research have you had to do to write such cutting-edge young adult novels?

SG: The research is intense. When I wrote The Cave about youth male culture, a survival camp, climbing mountains, and fording streams, I was challenged. I went on trips into our bush--the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves near Sydney. I cut out articles about RAVE parties and body piercing in the newspapers. I interviewed a friend who knew about "magic mushrooms" for a whole afternoon.

However, the major talks were with my then age-seventeen son. I drove him crazy as talked with him for hours and hours, until I understood the physical demands of rock climbing and kayaking. I felt like I "sucked" out my son's life. He forgave me and ultimately gave approval for the book, otherwise I couldn’t have written The Cave.

The process is similar for my books. I interview, live the life, go into the experience, so I can emotionally understand that search for identity that is pivotal to young adults. YA readers always know a liar, so my books have to have integrity. I have to know the reality, to write about it.

You deal with a lot of issues in your books, such as fears, sexuality, self-esteem, prejudices, bullying and violence. What message do you hope you are conveying to the young adults that read your books?

SG: That passage to adulthood is a fragile one. Youth are seeking experiences, yet are inexperienced. As they plunge into life, pulling away from the ties of dependence on their parents and childhood's rules, they face the world with very little armor.

Life can be jagged with peer-group pressure, family break-ups, broken hearts, parental expectations, body-image fears, sexuality, a world which presents the Twin Towers and climate change as the future. Without the experience that life is uneven, that there are hard times, but also good times, young people can get lost. That is where young adult literature can become a friend, providing experience, inviting readers to become participants, to find their own answers and travel the pathway of life and know it's worth it.

Cynsational Notes

Anita Loughrey writes teacher resources and children's non-fiction. Her books have been published by A&C Black, Hopscotch and Brilliant Publications. She also writes regular features for Writers' Forum in the U.K. about authors and the writing industry. She recently interviewed all 31 speakers for 2008's Bologna Conference.

The SCBWI Bologna 2008 interview series is brought to you by the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference in conjunction with Cynsations.

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cynsational News & Links

The Adoration of Jenna Fox book trailer (click to view) celebrates Mary E. Pearson's latest YA novel. Note: stay tuned for a new interview with Mary. In the meantime, read a previous Cynsations interview with Mary.

The Fusty Blob: the blog of YA author Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson. Kathleen's books include Gone (Roaring Brook, 2007), Dumb Love (Roaring Brook, 2005), A Fast and Brutal Wing (Roaring Brook, 2004), and A Parallel Universe of Liars (Roaring Brook, 2004). Read a Cynsations interview with Kathleen.

Interview with Jo Knowles at Becky's Book Review. Here's a sneak peek: "Yes, it was definitely hard to write the uncomfortable scenes. I’ve learned, though, that the only way to tell this story was to tell it in the most true way I could, and that meant not taking the easy way." Read a Cynsations interview with Jo about this same novel.

Author Darcy Pattison offers a variety of articles on publishing. Those recently added to her site include: The Power of Myth (2003); I Don't Want an Honest Critique (2004); Solicited! Queries That Make it Happen (2004); The Bad Guys Wear Black: Villains (2004); If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again (2004). Read a Cynsations interview with Darcy.

Congratulations to L. K. Madigan on her debut two-book sale to Houghton Mifflin! Look for Flash Burnout (Houghton Mifflin, fall 2009)! Note: I love first-sale stories! Share the excitement here.

The Scene of the Crime: Investigating New Mysteries by Jeanette Larson from Book Links. See Bringing Mysteries Alive for Children and Young Adults by Jeanette Larson (Linworth, 2004) from Cynsations. Read a Cynsations interview with Jeanette. See also Cynsations interviews with Jeanette's recommended mystery authors Bruce Hale, Candice Ransom, Marion Dane Bauer, April Lurie, Alan M. Gratz, and R.L. LaFevers.

Divorcing Your Agent from BookEnds, LLC--A Literary Agency. Here's a sneak peek: "...while I know it's incredibly stressful for an author to suddenly go agentless again, I think that you need to make the decision to fire your first agent before querying others." Source: Editorial Anonymous.

"Announcing www.Host-a-Jewish-Book-Author.com, a free web source of authors of Jewish-themed books worldwide, searchable by name, location, or genre. Each listing includes the author's city, book titles, lecture topics, areas of travel, along with contact information. Note: a clearing house for bookstores, libraries, Federations, JCCs, and and other organizations who want to arrange programs and signings with authors, especially around the Jewish holidays, such as Chanukah and Passover. More authors of Jewish-themed books join each month, so please bookmark the site and visit throughout the year."

Author Varian Johnson has added a page about his author-visit programs to his site. Varian's latest novel is My Life as a Rhombus (Flux, 2008)(PDF excerpt).

Let's Talk About Luck by Justine Larbalestier. Here's a sneak peek: "It's true that the surest path to publication is to keep on writing and writing and writing. Then you have to keep submitting. It also helps if you're talented. Those are the facts. But there are a small percentage of people who just can’t get a break." Note: Justine also references a couple of links of particular usefulness, The Real World Book Deal Descriptions from Whatever, and Getting Paid, Or Don't Quit Your Day Job, from Justine herself, (on advances and "earning out." Read a Cynsations interview with Justine.

Check out Sara Zarr, recording her audio book at Listening Library/Random House. Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

How Long Does It Take to Sell a Novel? from Nathan Bransford--Literary Agent (Curtis Brown, Ltd.). Read a Cynsations interview with Nathan.

Advice from the Trenches (for Schools on Planning Author Visits) from Barbara O'Conner.

Sylvia Long by Kris Bordessa at The Edge of the Forest. Here's a sneak peek: "This book relates the journey of various seeds as they float and fly to new ground, where they flower, fruit, and grow into mature plants or trees." Read a Cynsations interview with Sylvia.

Top 10 Children's Easter Books by Elizabeth Kennedy at about.com: Children's Books.

JacketFlap on the Rise by Sally Lodge of Publishers Weekly. Read a Cynsations interview with JacketFlap CEO Tracy Grand. Note: think of it as MySpace for youth literature. Visit my JacketFlap!

Cinco Puntos Press: a new blog in celebration of an independent publisher with roots on the U.S./Mexico border. "The blog will have news about our books and bring our readers general news and comments about the very interesting world of independent publishing." Posts to date include "a discussion of...upcoming picture book, Little Zizi. This wonderful story, which has a joyous ending, is about a little boy who worries about the size of his zizi. Do you know what a zizi is?" Read a Cynsations interview with author-publisher Lee Merrill Byrd of Cinco Puntos.

Congratulations to The Reading Tree, a new independent children's bookstore in Alpharetta, Georgia!

Congratulations

Congratulations to Maryrose Wood on the forthcoming publication of My Life: The Musical (Delacorte, 2008)! From the promotional copy: "To best friends and devoted theater fans Emily and Philip, 'Aurora' is no ordinary Broadway musical. Their love for the hit show (whose reclusive author has never been named) is nothing short of an obsession. Thanks to a secret loan from Emily's Grandma Rose, seeing the Saturday matinee has become a weekly ritual that makes real life seem dull and drab by comparison.

"But when the theatre chat rooms start buzzing with crazy rumors that Aurora may close, Emily and Philip find themselves grappling with some truly show-stopping questions: Why does Emily's English teacher, Mr. Henderson, have such a strong aversion to 'Aurora'? What, exactly, is the 'one sure thing' in show business? How will they pay back the money they owe Grandma Rose? And why hasn't Philip asked Emily out on a real date

"As they go to hilarious lengths to indulge their passion for 'Aurora,' Emily and Philip must face the fact that all shows close sooner or later. But first they'll put their friendship to the ultimate test, solve Broadway's biggest mystery--and spend one unforgettable night at the theater.

"In My Life: The Musical, Maryrose Wood delivers a rollicking, warmhearted novel about Broadway, friendship, and the universal experience of being a fan."

Read an interview with Maryrose about the novel from Little Willow at Slayground, and visit Maryrose at MySpace.

Texas News

Congratulations to Polly M. Robertus on the forthcoming release of The Richest Doll in the World (Holiday House, 2008)! From the promotional copy: "Her parents having died, Emily faces the worst Christmas Eve ever. She decides to set off in the middle of a snowstorm for a spooky old mansion in hopes of seeing "the richest doll in the world." Polly also is the author of The Dog Who Had Kittens, illustrated by Janet Stevens (Holiday House, 1992). She is based in Austin.

Congratulations to author Janice Shefelman and her husband, illustrator Tom Shelfelman on the release of I, Vivaldi (Eerdmans, 2008)! Read an interview with Janice and Tom from Eerdmans. See also Vivaldi Bio for Kids Edifies: Book Written and Illustrated by Austinites Teaches about History, Music and Architecture by Jeff Salamon of the Austin American-Statesman.

Austin SCBWI offers a great line-up for its April 26 conference. Speakers include: author and editor Deborah Noyes Wayshak from Candlewick Press (author-editor interview); Alvina Ling from Little Brown (personal blog); agent Erin Murphy (interview from Olswanger.com)(interview by Pam Mingle from Kite Tales, Rocky Mountain chapter, SCBWI); artist's agent Christina Tugeau; and writing professor Peter Jacobi. See details at Austin SCBWI. Note: I hope to see you there!

Reminder

The SCBWI Bologna 2008 series is ongoing here at Cynsations! Have you read today's interview with Giselle Tsai, one of the founding members of the children's book department at CommonWealth Magazine Group, yet? Here's a sneak peek: "...creating books is also important and something fewer people do in Taiwan. In my role as editor, I hope to introduce those lesser-known works from abroad, as well as to cultivate creators in our own country."

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org

More Personally

Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog features recent and upcoming WriteFest books--The Curse of Addy McMahon by Katie Davis (Greenwillow, 2008)(author interview)(debut novel); Going Bovine by Libba Bray (Delacorte, forthcoming)(author interview); Good Girls by Laura Ruby (HarperCollins, 2006)(author interview); The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum, 2008)(author interview)(debut novel); and Wonders of the World by Brian Yansky (Flux, 2007)(author interview). Cheers to all!

In other exciting news, this month you can enter to win a hardcover copy of Tantalize from the Imperial Beach Teen Blog of the Imperial Beach Library in Imperial Beach, California. Runner-ups will receive an author-signed bookmark!

The trade edition of Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001) has gone into another reprint. Thanks to all for their enthusiasm and support! In addition, through the Maxwell Grant project, students at Franklin Youth Academy in Tulsa have received bookplate-signed copies of the novel. Note: the students voted to receive Rain Is Not My Indian Name from a selection of contemporary Native-themed novels for young readers.

Attention JacketFlap subscribers, in case you missed these because of the server changeover (a lot of posts were downloaded after the fact), check out: SCBWI Announces 2007 Golden Kite Awards; Author Interview: Cassandra Clare on City of Bones (Book One, The Mortal Instruments); and SCBWI Bologna 2008 Publishing Director Interview: Sarah Odedina of Bloomsbury Children's Books UK, all from Cynsations.

SCBWI Bologna 2008 Editor Interview: Giselle Tsai of CommonWealth Magazine Group

Giselle Tsai is one of the founding members of the children's book department at CommonWealth Magazine Group. Their list includes picture books, easy readers and short novels. Giselle was interviewed by Anita Loughrey in January, as one of the speakers at the SCBWI Bologna Conference 2008 (scheduled for March 29 and March 30 in Bologna, Italy).

What made you decide to go into publishing? Tell us a bit about your background.

GT: I have always cherished a passion for literature. Reading is an indispensable part of my life. I graduated from the English Department of National Cheng-Chi University. Then I earned a MA degree in Children's Literature at University of Reading in the U.K.

Personally, reviewing or analyzing a book is as enchanting as making a book myself.

However, creating books is also important and something fewer people do in Taiwan. In my role as editor, I hope to introduce those lesser-known works from abroad, as well as to cultivate creators in our own country.

What is the Taiwan Commonwealth Magazine Publishing Group? Do they publish children's books? If so, what areas of children's publishing are they involved with?

GT: CommonWealth Magazine Group is derived from a bi-weekly magazine broadly defined as an economic journal. Now it has grown to include three magazines, one publishing department, and an educational foundation.

In the beginning, we published books concerning the economy, health, and education. Some of the books regarding education have been very well received and become influential in Taiwan. Teachers and parents inquired about whether or not we would begin to create children's books ourselves. Thus, we decided to take the plunge and create our own line of children’s books.

In 2005, the children's book department started functioning. We began by producing picture books, chapter books, and novels. No matter what genre we touch upon, we tend reinforce concepts by organizing many titles as series. Our editorial work and marketing strategies are closely intertwined, and the response to our books has been favorable from both book lovers and parents.

In 2006, we began publishing non-fiction. Croq’Sciences and Guide pour un Enfant Citoyen are two of the most popular books in this line.

In the long run, we'd like to establish ourselves as a publisher with a wide variety of children's books. There's still a long way to go, but we're working hard.

In your opinion, what makes a good editor?

GT: An editor is more or less like a film producer. First, they should have the talent to distinguish work with potential from those without. With the knowledge of book production and marketing, they merge all the necessary elements to grow a manuscript into polished work.

Moreover, there's the reader's part to consider. It's important to know where the reader is and try to match their needs with creators' ideas. A published book without readers will pine away. A burgeoning author without readers will also pine away.

Therefore, what a good editor does is to be the bridge connecting authors and readers. In doing so, both sides prosper.

When you're reading a manuscript for the first time, how long does it take you (approximately how many pages? chapters?) to figure out whether it's something you want to pursue?

GT: On the whole, I will read the summary of a story, but how the story is told matters more to me. There are few original stories nowadays, so I value "how" more than "what."

I'll at least read half of the manuscripts for novels, and three to four chapters for easy readers.

As for picture books, I must read the whole story and closely examine the storyboard before I start any plans for publication. Of course, the attitude of the author/illustrator to revise and work with me also counts.

What kinds of things "turn you off" a manuscript right away?

GT:
o A contrived plot
o Loose structure
o Flat characters
o An obvious moral

What is your favorite thing about being an editor?

GT: I enjoy sharing ideas and giving advice to creators. Nothing compares to the moment when all of us, with respect and sincerity, finally finish a book in the end. It's like merging everyone's dreams into one and making it come true all at once.

What are some of your favorite children's books and why?

GT: As a little girl, I loved A Little Princess and The Secret Garden very much. The former gives me a sense of wonder and conveys the power of imagination--I can imagine whatever things I like and to some extent, by thinking of them, they become real. The latter installs a tremendous courage into my heart, as if telling me children can "create" a world of their own without the help of any adult. A seemingly powerless girl can be strong enough to bring others (even an adult) salvation. Both of them left a great impression on me.

After I studied children's literature, I also became enchanted with the stories by E. Nesbit. The narration in her work can be read in so many different ways, and she's so good at blurring the boundary between reality and imagination. Her stories create tremendous interest both in kids and adults.

What book(s) or magazine feature are you proudest of having worked on? Why?

GT: I would say it's an easy-reader series, written, illustrated, and organized all by Taiwanese creators. As the editor, I'm proud to be the one bringing it to life. Nevertheless, there's still much to be done.

Have you worked with both fiction and non-fiction? If so, how do the processes compare? What do you like most (and/or least) about each?

GT: Most of the time, I work with fiction, but I do have some experience with non-fiction. In our case, fiction is a world well explored while non-fiction is almost a foreign land. Our ideal is actually to add fictional elements to non-fiction and, therefore, make hard knowledge more palatable to readers.

I like to imagine wildly with authors when creating a story. It's simply a natural thing to do. When it comes to non-fiction, I regard it a challenge to see how children first see the world and how they feel about reality. If we can recall how, for the first time, nature appealed to us and such, we may do a better non-fiction book. However, I realized writers in this field are not easy to find and editors are particularly essential.

What does the ideal cover letter say?

GT: Concise and sincere.

Do you look at art samples?

GT: Certainly, looking for a proper illustrator is a constant need, so I'm more than willing to hear from those who are interested in children's books and capable of illustrating them.

Cynsational Notes

Anita Loughrey writes teacher resources and children's non-fiction. Her books have been published by A&C Black, Hopscotch and Brilliant Publications. She also writes regular features for Writers' Forum in the U.K. about authors and the writing industry. She recently interviewed all 31 speakers for 2008's Bologna Conference.

The SCBWI Bologna 2008 interview series is brought to you by the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference in conjunction with Cynsations.

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SCBWI Bologna 2008 Author-Illustrator Interview: Pat Cummings

Pat Cummings traveled a lot when she was young, as her father was in the Army. She has been writing and illustrating children's books since she graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. She currently lives in beautiful downtown Brooklyn, with her husband Chuku Lee and the ghost of her cat, Cash. Anita Loughrey interviewed her in November 2007, as one of the speakers at the SCBWI Bologna Conference 2008 (scheduled for March 29 and March 30 in Bologna, Italy).

Are you a writer as well as an illustrator, and, if so, which comes first, the images or the words?

PC: Yes, I write. Usually, the writing proceeds any work on illustrations, but at times the imagery comes first, particularly if there's something I want to draw.

Two books I've written: C.L.O.U.D.S. and Carousel both started with images. In fact, Carousel began as a series of sketches with only a loose concept to tie them together. The writing and art developed at the same time. Short answer: it varies.

Do you have favorite medium you work in? If so, did the medium choose you or did you choose it? Can you elaborate?

PC: More like a reliable one. I work in watercolor and gouache with color pencil waaaay too frequently. I don't like the idea of being too comfortable with my default media, so if the story calls for it, I try other things. I've used acrylics, oil, pen and ink, pastel, even collage at times. I don't know about being "chosen" by a medium, but there have been times when a particular one seemed to make more sense.

In Carousel, for instance, there are dream sequences that seemed to "need" the luminosity that oil allows. For Storm in the Night, it made sense to work from dark to light in acrylics since it took place at night and the story was illuminated primarily by lightning flashes. With acrylics, applying light colors to the dark backgrounds works. So I could illuminate a night time scene in the way that lightning might: by applying highlights and flashes of light as needed.

How has growing up as an "Army brat" all over the world influenced your work?

PC: Well, I learned early that what appears "foreign" is not by default frightening, so I think I've learned to enjoy exploration. Also, constantly lacking familiarity with new surroundings as a child, my imagination tended to generate exactly the sort of stuff that fills children's books.

Things and imagery have different meanings in different places, so I try to keep that in mind. I remember going into a store in the U.S. after living in Okinawa and seeing a figure of Buddha mounted on an ashtray. After living in Asia, it was like seeing Christ on an ashtray and it struck me as disrespectful.

I generally feel free to incorporate into my work any imagery from any culture or location, but only after doing my homework. I don't think imagery should be casually appropriated. So, for example, the fabrics in Ananse and the Lizard are based on textiles worn in West Africa, the source of the story, not other regions of the continent.

Constant moving probably reinforced my love of fantasy. When you don't know anyone, speak the language, or know the terrain, your imagination fills in the blanks. In Germany, my mother read us stories about castles and dragons, then we'd spend weekends touring castles along the Rhine. It wasn't hard to imagine dragons climbing those crumbling stone walls. Or in Okinawa, I'd see the front page of the local newspapers...grown-up newspapers...blaring headlines about ghost sightings. I'd walk through villages, dodging little old ladies dressed head-to-toe in black, toting bundles of sticks on their heads. Of course I believed in witches.

I think it was a great way to grow up, and, best of all, it made me love traveling. So now it makes sense to go to the locations in my books to get reference... (and, better still, that makes the trip tax deductible). Maybe being called an Army "brat" all through childhood didn't hurt either. A tough skin comes in handy when there's a less-than-glowing review.

Is it true your brother was the inspiration behind some of your books and which ones?

PC: Yes, my brother is a frequent inspiration. He's Harvey in Clean Your Room, Harvey Moon! and the sequel coming out in January, Harvey Moon, Museum Boy. He's Petey in Petey Moroni's Camp Runamok Diary. He's the baby in Angel Baby, and he's the Artie of Jimmy Lee Did It. His was an "eventful" childhood, so there are quite a few exposes left to write.

Do you model your other characters on any other people you know?

PC: At times. Sometimes there's a personality trait I want to capture, and sometimes I have friends and family model for the characters.

What are you currently working on?

PC: I'm painting the pages for Ananse and the Monster, another story about the West African trickster. And I'm working on a non-fiction book, a collection of biographies of notable African Americans.

If you were to illustrate yourself, what would you look like? (please feel free to draw yourself--animal, plant, mineral!)

PC: Interesting question. I did illustrate myself, once. It's on the cover of C is for City. In one tiny window, in one building under a night time sky, there is a little silhouette of a figure. It was 4 a.m., and I was feeling sorry for myself, no doubt. I felt like the only person awake, with no one to call, working all night to meet a deadline. So I put myself in a window in a city scene where every other window was empty (but brightly lit for some reason) late at night. Quite tragic!
What is the hardest thing about being an author-illustrator for you?

PC: Deadlines. Distractions. Getting to all of the stories I'd like to do. Basically, the need for sleep and exercise is the hard part.

Did you always want to be an author-illustrator?

PC: I didn't know the word "illustrator," but I was hustling my classmates in kindergarten, selling ballerina drawings. So yes, I loved to draw from the time I was little, and, seeing that it could help me make new friends and even some pocket change, it never occurred to me to do anything else.

The writing came later as a means of revenge. With three sisters and time on his hands, my brother became inordinately creative with his pranks. He's given me a lot of material I've yet to use. Also, I realized at some point that I needed to write my own stories so I could choose whatever imagery interested me.

What were your other career choices, if any?

PC: When I was a junior at Pratt, I actually thought I'd like to go to graduate school to become an archaeologist. I subscribed to an archaeology magazine and checked with one university about their requirements. When I found out how many science courses would be necessary, I decided that the magazine would suffice.

Do you have a favorite children's book that you wish you had written and/or illustrated? Why?

PC: You mean, other than Harry Potter for obvious reasons?

I recently read a manuscript by one of my students that I think has a wonderful, surprising plot that I would have loved to have imagined. But no, not really.

I see books all the time and think, "Ooooh, I love the way they've drawn their characters," or "I want to use their same color palette for something." I might read some lines that seem amazingly right or lyrical or funny and wish I could turn a phrase in so succinct a way. But there's no one book that I wished I done...other than Harry Potter.

How far ahead do you work? Six months, a year? Longer?

PC: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. My record finishing time is four months. That only happened by cutting my sleep to four hours a night max. That was years ago, and my sleep pattern has never recovered. My longest time was eight years. That was Ananse and the Lizard, and I actually traveled to West Africa and did research, which added to the time.

Actually, I have one book I signed up in 1990 so that might be the longest running one if ever I finish it. Of course, I would like to finish in six months. I would like to own a villa in Brazil too.

What does your work space look like?

PC: One editor cruelly referred to me as working "amidst cheerful clutter" on a book flap. It isn't all that cheerful.

What's on your wall over your desk or drawing table?

PC: Hmmmmm. Pictures of family. Pictures of spiders, lions, porcupines. Masks, a lei from Hawaii, dried roses. Two postcards from gallery shows. A 2002 calendar with a picture of my Mom and I on a school visit to Germany. A colorful chart showing five books due by Fall 2007. Two are crossed out.

How has your childhood influenced your illustrations and writing?

PC: I suffered a happy childhood. I could have used some angst. I had funny parents and funny siblings. Everything struck me as funny, and anything funny still appeals to me. I've been told that everything is not funny. I know there are massively serious things going on in the world. But my childhood has definitely skewed my perspective.

What was your favorite book as a child or adolescent?

PC: Hands down, it was C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Going through a closet into another world was too delicious an idea to resist. Portals in general still interest me. Fantasy books had to offer more that just iconic characters like witches and fairies, I wanted be surprised by some unimaginable, alternate reality.

I think that's why Harry Potter appeals to so many.... You can't really imagine all of the twists and turns that come your way.

In adult fiction, books by Haruki Murakami give me the same sensation now, and that's not an easy thing to pull off.

Do you work with the television, radio, or stereo on? In cafés, nursing a half cup of lukewarm tea or in isolation?

PC: All of the above when I paint: I like old, chatty, plot-heavy movies I don't have to "look" at to follow. Radio shows that pull my attention so I can paint without obsessing, books on tape, music. I've worked recently in coffee shops, but it's too distracting for the long haul.

When writing, I like absolute quiet or very soft jazz or classical music. Complete isolation is great, but if my husband is home, we work in companionable isolation. We're in a big loft, and his workspace is in view but quite separate. And lukewarm tea is absolutely mandatory.

Do you have a blog or website to showcase your work, and if so, how often do you blog? Do you get lots of feedback from readers? Has it proved to be useful?

PC: My website has been under construction for years. I know zip about websites. Periodically, I press students or my brother into adding a line here or there. Very chop shop. Mostly, I hear from people who send spam with outrageous headings.

My website is www.patcummings.com, and I would love to receive mail that does not offer to enhance body parts I don't own.

If you could be a character from one of your illustrations who would you like to be and why?

PC: I really resonated with the character of Alex in Carousel. She went right through her bedroom window into her dream. Fortunately, I have great dreams, so I really knew the sort of feeling I wanted to capture when painting hers.

I think I most identify with the characters I have in front of me though. And right now, I'm in love with the porcupine in the new Ananse book. He has the open, trusting, somewhat gullible demeanor of a four-year-old, and I find that appealing.

I'm determined to keep him guileless and eager to believe the best, particularly because his exterior image implies just the opposite. He looks unapproachable, even dangerous. I do like the idea of a tough exterior: admittedly, the world can be harsh, so it seems wise to keep your quills up. Porcupine in this story is slow to think badly of Ananse.

He's also prone to stutter. I'd choose him because I hope to believe the best of others. I'd also want protective armor to deal with incoming stress, and I'd hope to be surrounded by friends who accepted me, stutter and all. Don't know that I'd want the quills though. I sleep on my back.

Is it difficult to illustrate somebody else's writing? Has it ever caused any problems?

PC: No. I can't remember any real problems. Other people write stories I would never have imagined, so their work can take you someplace new, which is exciting. I've always worked with editors who insulate both the writer and myself.

I might get a suggestion from my editor that was a direct request from the author. But it would never be presented as, "The author thinks you should..."

And the one time I remember having an issue with the text, I told the editor my concern, and two new paragraphs magically appeared that resolved the matter. I'm sure the editor never told the author, "The illustrator thinks you should...."

It's impossible to draw or write what's in someone else's head, so I've come to appreciate that the editor stands in the middle. Even if suggestions and questions come to them carved on stone tablets from the author, I've been fortunate to have editors filter those comments to allow at least the illusion of total freedom. So, no, I can't remember any real problems.

Phew. I've been very lucky to have the editors I've had.

Cynsational Notes

Anita Loughrey writes teacher resources and children's non-fiction. Her books have been published by A&C Black, Hopscotch and Brilliant Publications. She also writes regular features for Writers' Forum in the U.K. about authors and the writing industry. She recently interviewed all 31 speakers for 2008's Bologna Conference.

The SCBWI Bologna 2008 interview series is brought to you by the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference in conjunction with Cynsations.

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tantalize Audio Giveaway

Enter to win one of two audio production copies of Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith, performed by Kim Mai Guest (Listening Library/Random House, 2008), each offered with a Sanguini's T-shirt (in celebration of the fictional vampire restaurant in the book)!

From the promotional copy:

Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her hybrid-werewolf first love threatens to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. And just as she and her uncle are about to debut Austin’s red hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef.

Can Quincie transform the new hire into a culinary dark lord before opening night? Will Henry Johnson be able to wow the crowd in fake fangs, a cheap cape, and red contact lenses? Or is there more to this earnest fresh face than meets the eye?

As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything?

One prize will given to a librarian and one any YA reader! To enter, email me with your name and address by 10 p.m. CST March 11! Please type "Tantalize audio" in the subject line. Note: librarians, please indicate your library with your contact information.

Cynsational Notes

Tantalize is available in hardcover from Candlewick. The novel also will be available in paperback later this year (Candlewick, fall 2008).

Check out the Sanguini's logo (left), which appears on the giveaway T-shirts. More Sanguini's logo items may be purchased from Printfection and CafePress. Read a Cynsations interview with designer Gene Brenek. Notes: (1) Gene is highly recommended for logo and related promotional design; (2) I don't make any money off of this merchandise; (3) don't you love the fang marks over the "I"s?

In other news, the SCBWI Bologna 2008 series is ongoing here at Cynsations! Don't miss today's interview with Sarah Odedina, senior publishing director with Bloomsbury Children's Books in the U.K. Here's a sneak peek: "I think the rule of thumb is 30 pages. If something is not exciting me by then, I reckon it probably won't."

Check back tomorrow and beyond for more insightful question-and-answer interviews with agents, editors, authors, and illustrators about the U.S. and international youth publishing scene.

To register for the SCBWI Bologna Biennial Conference 2008, please visit http://scbwi.org/events.htm and click on SCBWI@Bologna. Queries? Bologna@SCBWI.org
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