Friday, February 20, 2009

Visit with Author Cynthia Leitich Smith on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at Second Life

YA Gothic fantasy author Cynthia Leitich Smith will discuss Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008), Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), and related forthcoming books on the teen grid of Teen Second at Second Life at 3 p.m. CST on Tuesday, Feb. 24. See more information. Note: this is the rescheduled date and time. Here's a sneak peek at the venue...

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Enter to win an advanced reader copy of City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (McElderry Books, March 24, 2009). From the promotional copy:

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that enter-ing the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the final installment of the New York Times bestselling trilogy The Mortal Instruments.

To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "City of Glass" in the subject line. Deadline March 2! All Cynsational readers are eligible to win! Read a Cynsations interview with Cassandra Clare.

Author Interview and Book Giveaway with Cynthia Leitich Smith from Beth Revis at writing it out. Peek: "My original concept was elf-vampire, not angel-vampire; that came at the suggestion of my editor, but I loved it and started over again." Note: Beth is giving away a copy of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) or Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). Deadline: Feb. 28. See details.

More News

Check out this book trailer for The Great Call of China by Cynthea Liu (Puffin, 2009). Read a Cynsations interview with Cynthea.

Congratulations to Linda Joy Singleton on the release of Dead Girl Dancing (Flux, Feb. 2009)! Read a Cynsations interview with Linda Joy.

The 2009 Cybils Winners from The Cybils 2008: Children's & Young Adult Blogger Awards.

Three Across: The Great Transatlantic Air Race of 1927 by Norman H. Finkelstein (Calkins Creek/Boyd's Mills 2008): a recommendation from Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: "...a gripping and suspenseful account of the epic quest..."

The Writer's Studio: Greg Leitich Smith from Tony Abbott's Book Blog. Peek: "That room has a queen-sized bed and a restored arts-and-crafts schoolhouse desk that’s only large enough to hold the laptop and a small legal pad, which can be awkward when you have four cats who don’t respect the sanctity of the keyboard."

Keep School Librarians in Schools from the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. Peek: "In times of economic crisis school and local libraries are needed more than ever and are usually the first casualties of local, state, and federal budget cuts."

Interview: Jenny Moss, author of Winnie's War from Welcome to the Oakenwyld: This world of ours, and worlds unseen / and thin the boundary between. Peek: "In March 2005, I wrote Winnie's first words: Her grave was well-tended because I tended it. That sentence didn't make into the final manuscript, but it did help me establish Winnie's voice."

"Funky Nonfiction" with Fiona Bayrock: a chat from the Institute of Children's Literature. Peek: "Outrageous curiosity is great thing to have. I have no experience in the fields about which I write, either, but the curiosity and the accompanying need to share what I find interesting drives my writing, and I always have my work reviewed by experts in the field to make sure I haven't missed something only someone immersed in the topic would know."

Blogging for Beginners from Pub Rants. Peek: "I would love it if everyone would post a friendly piece of general advice for novice bloggers in the comments section of this post. Then, I'll use the advice (with your blog address attached of course) during my presentation."

Congratulations to VCFA student Clete Smith on the sale of film rights for his YA novel "Grandma's Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast) to Disney! Source: Publishers Weekly.

Marvelous Marketer: Shrinking Violet Promotions (Robin LaFevers) from Shelli at Market My Words: Marketing Advice for Authors/Illustrators from a Marketing Consultant & Aspiring Children's Book Author. Peek: "So while it sounds kind of trite to say 'write an amazing book,' there is a whole heap of truth in there. Take an extra year, a few more workshops, really wrestle with the craft and voice until it shines."

Interview: Author Harry Mazer on Sally Lincoln by Mitch Wertlieb from Vermont Public Radio in Montpelier. Peek: "Mazer's latest book is called My Brother Abe (Simon & Schuster, 2009) and takes a look at Lincoln's life through the eyes of his only sibling, his older sister Sarah, better known as Sally. The novel is told from Sally's point of view, and focuses on the early life of the young Lincolns growing up in Kentucky, and later Indiana." Read a Cynsations interview with Harry.

Would you like a larger audience for your children's-YA writing or literature blog? Register it at JacketFlap! Read a Cynsations interview with CEO Tracy Grand on JacketFlap.

Why We're Optimistic. And Why You Should Be Too. from CBI Clubhouse: The Community for Success-Oriented Children's Book Writers. Peek: "This optimism is not based on hopes, or wishes or fantasy. We have real reasons to tell you not to waver and to have a positive outlook moving ahead. Here they are..." Source: Cheryl Rainfield.

Richard Curtis on Publishing in the 21st Century: The Ten Commandments of Courtesy Part 1 and Part 2 from E-Reads. Peek: "In publishing, the rules governing behavior are codified into a system of protocol and etiquette called 'courtesy.' Courtesy is not always easy to define because editors, authors, and agents each have their own code and the three don't always harmonize." Source: Nathan Bransford.

Fragile Eternity Review and ARC Giveaway from Giveaway deadline: Feb. 28. Read a Cynsations interview with author Melissa Marr.

Children's Book Press from La Bloga. Peek: "Our 33 year-old-non-profit independent Press has been side swiped by the tough economic storm that we are all experiencing. It is serious, but I am not one to freeze in the road. Instead, in the spirit of our new national leadership, I am asking for your help so that we can make sure our work will continue on behalf of kids and families here and abroad." Read an interview with editor Dana Goldberg of Children's Book Press.

Congratulations to Anne Bustard on the launch of her newly redesigned author website! Anne is the author of Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly (Simon & Schuster) and T Is for Texas (Voyageur). She also offers a tremendous blog, Anneographies, on picture book biographies--featured on the subjects' birthdays. The blog also has been redesigned! See an article by web designer Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys on both redesign projects! Note: Anneographies is highly recommended, especially to teachers, school libraries, and writers studying biographies.

Congratulations to VCFA student Jess Leader on the sale of her middle-grade novel, Nice and Mean, to Simon and Schuster's Aladdin MIX! The release is slated for summer 2010.

Congratulations to Suzanne Selfors on the release of Fortune's Magic Farm, illustrated by Catia Chien (Little Brown, 2009)! Kirkus Reviews calls it "droll" and says, "...newly confident readers will cozy up to the tale’s quirky characters and enjoy the many twists and turns of this magical adventure." Read a Cynsations interview with Suzanne.

Writing Nonfiction for Children: a site for writers and readers who have an interest in children's books, especially nonfiction. We'll talk about how to write, how to research, and great books and writers out there. Peek from Peggy Thomas: "I am the author of more than 15 books for children and young adults..."

Where the Wild Things Aren't: Lamenting the predictability of Jewish kids' lit, a writer takes matters into her own hands by Laurel Snyder from Nextbook: A New Read on Jewish Culture. Peek: "I can envision sweet, silly characters and ridiculous situations—a rabbinic Cat in the Hat. A crazy time-traveling sukkah. Books as wild and wonderful as anything the secular market offers. I can imagine them. Now I have to write them." Source: Janni Lee Simner.

Bunny Eat Bunny: The diaspora website of Bowen Press. Peek: "Like most readers of literary press blogs, I thought I was Jo. For years. I wrote romances (The Adventures of Charles and Caroline). I used a fountain pen. I was earnest and bookish. I dated men with foreign accents who drank strong coffee and dosed strong medicine to anemic prose. Argumentative and proud with a strong, even crippling, mutinous streak. That's me." Source: Mary E. Pearson.

Interview with Kekla Magoon Part 1 and Part 2 from Sarah Sullivan at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "Emotionally, I've always been intrigued by/enamored with the civil rights movement, even since childhood. But like many young black people, I've been steeped in a familiar narrative of that time period that doesn't leave a lot of room for asking difficult questions of one’s self – like, 'where would I have stood, in that time and place, if the choice between non-violence and militancy was handed to me?'"

Aussie YA Alliance: "Allie, Lisa and Adele are three voracious YA readers that just happen to be Australian. In an attempt to bolster the status of Australian YA authors in the blogosphere, we have created this shared blog."

Author-Editor Andrea Pinkney: an article and interview by Don Tate in conjunction with 28 Days Later 2009: A Black History Month Celebration of Children's Literature from The Brown Bookshelf. Peek: "One of the most refreshing changes I've seen in recent years is the blending of genres — the pushing past the hard-and-fast lines of specific publishing categories." Note: this celebration will continue throughout the month is highly recommended. Multicultural youth literature in particular survives and thrives in large part through word-of-mouth. Here in the kidlitosphere, we can do our part by making some noise. Bloggers, commenters, and friends, please consider showing your support by highlighting this link and/or talking up the initiative.

Get Real! Publishing Myths Exposed! by Penny Sansevieri from Peek: "Review copies are sold, it happens all the time and spending your time chasing used copies isn't a good use of your promotional efforts." Note: I never sell review copies. Source: Elizabeth Scott.

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King (Flux, 2009): a recommendation from Greg Leitich Smith at GregLSBlog. Peek: "Pulling no punches, King takes us from Cromwell's Ireland to the Spanish Main to contemporary America and Jamaica as Emer/Saffron's lives -- human and dog -- unfold in gripping detail."

Interview with Jo Ann Hernandez, author of The Throwaway Piece from The Dark Phantom Review. Peek: "Once I sent out a story under a man’s name and one magazine wrote me back that as a man, I didn’t have any idea of what women really like to read about themselves. Rejections? Just a Bad Hair Day for someone else."

Certainty, Uncertainty, Sand, Sphinx from Julie Larios at The Drift Record. Peek: "Where does poetry (much less mystery) fit into standardized curriculum? One of the great joys of being able to come in as a special guest to schools is the permission I have to send kids off into mystery and uncertainty." Read a Cynsations interview with Julie.

At ALAN in San Antonio, author Laurie Halse Anderson reads from "Listen," a poem in tribute to the 10-year anniversary of Speak and reader mail it inspired. See also the "Speak Up About Speak" page.

Why Was My Manuscript Rejected? 3 Literary Agents, 3 Opinions

Three New York agents are offering a new workshop for writers and artists who want to be published in the area of children's books. Their workshop offers feedback, in which they will discuss— among many facets of children's book publishing— why they think editors or agents rejected your manuscript.

The workshop promises to be lively with three, possibly different, opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of each manuscript.

Andrea Cascardi of Transatlantic Literary Agency, Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson Associates, and Ann Tobias of Ann Tobias, A Literary Agency for Children's Books--—all agents specializing in children's books—will conduct "Why Was My Manuscript Rejected?" from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 26 at 138 West 15th Street, New York City. See schedule.

Authors and author-illustrators of children's books are invited to send a package (20-page maximum) consisting of a one-page synopsis, the query letter you used in submitting your work to agents and publishers, and either a first chapter or a full picture book manuscript or an illustrated dummy (all genres are welcome) to be read by the agents in advance of the workshop. Besides commenting on your manuscript, the agents will discuss query and cover letters, the markets for different kinds of children's and young adult books, and offer suggestions on how to submit. For further information, please visit

Eternally Yours

Great news! I heard from my genius editor yesterday that Eternal is in its third printing! Thanks to all for your enthusiasm and support!

The winner of the Eternal bookmark giveaway is Kymberley at the Oneida Community Library in Wisconsin! Your autographed bookmark set will go out on my next trip to the post office.

I'm thrilled to announce that Listening Library/Random House will be producing the audio edition of Eternal for a July 2009 release! I've previously worked with LL on the audio adaptations of Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001) and Tantalize (2008) and, in both cases, was absolutely thrilled with the final productions! Listen to a reading from the Tantalize audio by actress Kim Mai Guest. Note: Rain is now available for audio download!

Enter to Win One of Five Copies of Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) from Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central. Here's the giveaway question: "If you had a guardian angel (and maybe you do!), what would his or her name be, and what would they be like?" Contest begins Feb. 1 and ends Feb. 28. See additional details. Note: Thanks to Candlewick Press and Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central!

Authors Kathi Appelt and Cynthia Leitich Smith invite you to join them at 1 p.m. April 11 at BookPeople (Sixth and Lamar) in Austin. They will be celebrating the success of Kathi's The Underneath (Atheneum, 2008), which was a National Book Award Finalist and newly crowned ALA Newbery Honor Book, and the release of Cynthia's Eternal (Candlewick, 2009). The event will include very brief readings, entertaining commentary, and a signing by both authors. Please help spread the word! Hope to see y'all there! Read a Cynsations interview with Kathi. Note: Thank you to Donna Bowman Bratton at Simply Donna for blogging about the event!

Book Review: Eternal from Melissa Jauregui at Poised at the Edge. Peek: "Wholly original, and delightfully morbid, fans of Tantalize will eat this one up!"

Review: Eternal from Liviania at In Bed with Books. Peek: "I loved how Eternal expanded on the world of Tantalize. Quincie was an outsider to vampire culture, but Miranda is in the center of things. Eternal isn't just one person's struggle with temptation. Miranda can affect the entire vampire society."

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Reviewed by Hilary Williamson of BookLoons Reviews. Peek: "Like Tantalize, Eternal is darkly entertaining and great fun."

Meredith Wood says: "I loved Tantalize. I adore Eternal! Talk about upping the stakes. It's such a good book. " Note: she also wants to talk to fellow readers about a particular line!

Interview tidbits from 'Tantalize' author from BronzeWorld's Blog. A great compilation of highlights from interviews past.

To those looking for Eternal or Tantalize at their local Barnes & Noble, the end cap display looks like this (below). You can find signed stock of Eternal at Barnes & Noble Arboretum and Barnes & Noble Sunset Valley, both in the Austin area. Note: B & N Aboretum also has one signed copy of Tantalize, but they were sold out at the other store.

Aboretum Store.

Sunset Valley store. I was charmed to see it next to Lisa McMann's Fade (Simon Pulse, 2009)(author interview).

While browsing, I snapped a pic of debut author Saundra Mitchell's Shadowed Summer (Delacorte, 2009)...

and VCFA grad Micol Ostow's GoldenGirl (Simon Pulse, 2009)...

and VCFA grad Carrie Jones's Need (Bloomsbury, 2008)...

and readergirlz diva Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful (Little Brown, 2009).

Thanks to Jess in Kansas who walked four miles round trip to a bookstore that wasn't carrying the novel (and ordered it)!

Thanks also to Carmen Oliver for blogging the release and to Varian Johnson for blogging his recent book sightings! Read a Cynsations interview with Varian.

More Personally

Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Barry Gott is scheduled for release by Dutton in spring 2011.

Romantic that I am, the highlight of the past week was Valentine's Day! Greg made us a special dinner--tomato basil soup (from scratch), an iceberg lettuce wedge topped with his own homemade dressing, green onions, walnuts, and Gorgonzola, followed by pan-friend Cajun catfish and brown rice. Note: can you tell that I'm back to writing Quincie? See also my luscious red roses.

Thank you to the librarians of the Austin Public Library for their hospitality at the "Book Exchange" lunch last Friday! It was a huge honor to visit with y'all! Thanks for all you do for young readers! Special thanks to Alison for coordinating my visit! Note: Watch the Music Video and See What Austin Public Library Can Do For You from the APL. It's one smart, savvy, sexy PSA!

Thank you to Cyndi Hughes at everyone at the Writers' League of Texas for their hospitality at last night's First Drafts panel! Thanks especially to everyone from the youth writing community for your enthusiasm and support!

Thank you to Chris Elden and everyone who stopped by Book Roast yesterday to celebrate Eternal! Congratulations also to Dorothy, who won the giveaway!

More Cynsational Events

Due to a technical difficulty, Cynthia's discussion of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008), Eternal (Candlewick, 2009), and related forthcoming books on the teen grid of Teen Second at Second Life has been rescheduled for 3 p.m. Feb. 24. See more information.

Cynthia will be speaking on "Writing and Illustrating Native American Children's Literature" (with S. D. Nelson) and "Monsters and Magic: Writing Gothic Fantasy Novels for Teenagers" on March 15 at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Cynthia will sign Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) and Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007, 2008) at 3 p.m. April 2 at Candlewick Booth at the annual conference of the Texas Library Association in Houston.

Cynthia and Greg will visit the Barbara Bush Branch Library in Spring, Texas; at 4 p.m. April 3. Note: Spring is outside of Houston.

Cynthia will visit the YA book club at the Cedar Park (Texas) Public Library at 11 a.m. May 30. Note: Cedar Park is outside of Austin.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Visit with Cynthia Leitich Smith Today at Book Roast; Enter to Win a Copy of Eternal

Visit with me about Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) online today at Book Roast. I'd love to hear your questions and thoughts (post to the comments section). You'll also have the chance to answer a silly question and win a signed copy of the novel!

Cynsational Notes

Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith will be on a panel about "First Drafts" at the February monthly meeting of the Writers' League of Texas at 7:30 p.m. today at the League office in Austin (611 S. Congress Avenue). Peek: "Sometimes getting that first draft down is the biggest hurdle to bringing a great idea to literary life. Find out how several authors approach the first draft." Note: "Before the program, join us at Doc's Motorworks Bar & Grill, 1123 S. Congress (two blocks south of the WLT office for a 'Mix and Mingle Happy Hour.'"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Author Interview: Cynthea Liu on AuthorsNow!

Cynthea Liu is the author of S.A.S.S. The Great Call of China (Puffin/Speak, Feb. 2009) and Paris Pan Takes the Dare (G.P. Putnam's Sons, June 2009). Read an interview with Cynthea from Writing for Children & Teens.

What is your relationship to AuthorsNow! - The Internet's Largest Collaboration of Debut Children's and Teen Book Authors and Illustrators?

I'm the founder of AuthorsNow! That means I am head webmistress, chief administration support person, financial operator, publicity chairperson, and author slave-driver!

What was the initial inspiration for creating the site?

AuthorsNow! evolved from other group efforts such as The Classes (interview), Debut 2009 (interview), and The Tenners.

I myself am a Debut 2009 member, and I love the atmosphere our group creates for middle grade and YA authors, as well as fans of children's and teen fiction.

But as you know, there is still more ground to cover; why not build something for everyone?

Now all debut authors of major trade publishers can showcase their books, while offering a valuable resource to parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, reviewers, and other children's book enthusiasts. I love that AuthorsNow! members are from every debut group, every class, every genre, and every year (beginning with 2009).

Does AuthorsNow! only feature content from debut authors?

While our book profiles are restricted to debut members, we plan to feature any content related to children's and teen books that is useful for parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and book reviewers.

Got an article for teachers on how to hold a successful author visit? Know the ins and outs of using historical fiction in the classroom? Or maybe you have a method for culling out the best boy books to recommend to children.

If you've got the right content, we'd be happy to feature it on AuthorsNow!, crediting you and any relevant links. We receive thousands of visits each month, so don't miss this opportunity. Email with your ideas. We can't pay, but we can promise you great exposure to our audience and a nice writing credit.

How did you get AuthorsNow! started?

It was fairly straightforward. "Does anyone want to join? I'll build the site; you give me the content." Debut authors caught on to the idea quickly. And now new authors are joining every day, giving our audience what they want to see--more debut books! Currently, we are 110 members strong. Don't ask me where we'll be next month!

What features does the site include?

· Book profiles--the meat-and-potatoes of the site. They're organized so that you can find books by selecting multiple criteria including genre, age group, topic, author name, author location--the list goes on.

· Dynamic author map. You can look for a local author, and with one click, see what age group they write for, the title of their book, the genre and much more.

· Contest alerts. Giveaways include signed books, gift certificates, even a whole classroom set of books!

· Columns like debut author Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich's "Faves on a Friday," offering food for thought about interesting topics in the children's and teen book world.

I truly hope AuthorsNow! will become a one-stop-resource for everything you need to know about debut authors, their books, and then some!

What plans are on the horizon?

In the coming weeks, we're bringing new content features online.

· Author Spotlight. We'll celebrate debut launches with a Spotlight interview specifically designed to help readers understand how an author's book differs from the rest. Spotlights are often accompanied with a fun giveaway.

· Connect. Through freestyle blogging, our authors will share more than the typical book jacket and author bio, helping readers connect with our authors' individual personalities.

· Movie-style ratings for member books from PG to R. Can't tell a clean YA from a saucy one? Our ratings will help.

· Supplemental content such as quizzes and discussion guides. As the material becomes available, you bet that'll be up on AuthorsNow!

· Original articles from readers like you. Email

Is AuthorsNow! just a marketing site?

No. I have a strict policy about the site becoming a free-for-all, "Look at me, look at me!" kind of place. Our members know they should tap their boundless creativity to keep it interesting and valuable for our audience.

We also go beyond the functions of an ordinary website. Collectively, we can form panels and workshops for schools, libraries, festivals and conferences.

Are you looking for something in particular? Just contact us and we'll tap our membership to give you what you're seeking.

Our mission is clear. AuthorsNow! strives to be a fabulous resource, not just a sales pitch.

Obviously, with such a big group, you can't mention everyone. But could you highlight for us just a few new voices we should be looking for in 2009?

Here are a few short descriptions that highlight the range of our books.

One family welcomes a new child into the world, evoking the warmth and community of la familia through the acts of each member, including the puppy! --bilingual picture book, Before You Were Here, Mi Amor by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Santiago Cohen (Viking, March 2009)

A girl who tells fake fortunes must make one of them come true to save her father's life. --middle grade novel, Fortune's Folly by Deva Fagan (Henry Holt, April 2009).

Eleven-year-old "Groovy" Robinson dreams of attending culinary school until she discovers her father has gambled away her inheritance, and her own mother has had him arrested. --middle grade novel, The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice (Bowen Press, Feb. 2009)

When Samar's turbaned uncle shows up on her doorstep the week of September 11th, everyone notices, and Samar's happily assimilated existence as an Indian-American Jersey girl is turned upside down.--young adult novel, Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger (McElderry, March 2009)

Seventeen-year-old Jory Michaels is convinced she can solve all her problems by getting a nose job. --young adult novel, My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter (Harcourt, April 2009).

What is the criteria for AuthorsNow! membership?

We welcome debut authors from 2009 and beyond. Their publishers must be CWIM or CBC members, and the book must be debuting in the United States. Details are here.

We'll talk more about your own books later! But for now, could you give us a hint of what to expect from your own debut?

My YA book S.A.S.S.: The Great Call of China (Speak, Feb. 2009) features an adopted teen who journeys to China to find answers to her past.

My other debut middle grade novel Paris Pan Takes the Dare (Putnam, June 2009), features twelve-year-old Paris who has moved to a small town where everyone who's anyone takes the Dare.

Of course, you can find out all about my debut books and about a zillion others at AuthorsNow!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Author Interview: Jackson Pearce on the 2009 Debutantes

Jackson Pearce on Jackson Pearce: "Jackson Pearce is twenty-four years old and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a slightly cross-eyed cat and a lot of secondhand furniture. She recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and a minor in Philosophy. She auditioned for the circus once, but didn't make it; other jobs she's had include obituaries writer, biker bar waitress, and receptionist. In addition, Jackson coaches both colorguard and winterguard at a local high school.

"Jackson began writing when she got angry that the school librarian couldn't tell her of a book that contained a smart girl, horses, baby animals, and magic. Her solution was to write the book herself when she was twelve. Her parents thought it was cute at first, but have grown steadily more concerned for her ever since."

Congratulations on your debut novel! Could you tell us a little about it?

As You Wish (HarperCollins, fall 2009) is an urban fantasy about a teenage girl and the jinn granting her three wishes who fall in starcrossed-love with one another. It's told in alternating points of view and is loosely based on Shakespeare's The Tempest.

When did you find out about your first sale? What happened? How did you celebrate?

I found out that someone offered on the book while driving to a colorguard rehearsal; I pulled off to the side of I-85, angering many a driver behind me.

After a few more offers came in and I decided to go with HarperCollins, I called and told my grandfather first. He thought I was joking; it took several minutes for me to convince him that there was no punchline. I actually recorded the phone call.

What else should we know about your writing life?

About my writing life? Hm, that's tough. I'm focusing on YA and MG literature right now, I outline like a crazy person, and I sometimes I get so excited about a scene that I end up mistyping everything in my frantic attempts to get it down. I've started doing writing-related videos for YouTube and blog like it's going out of style (not sure if that's a good thing or not...).

What about being a near-debut author has surprised you the most?

How everything changes--and everything stays the same. I thought a sweeping sense of "Wow, everything is great and shiny!" would rain down on me after I sold my debut.

While I am very, very happy and excited, I still worry-- just about new, different things: will I meet my deadlines, will they buy another book, will I like my cover, am I a flash in the pan?

I think selling a book really grounds you. Once you've realized that you aren't guaranteed to spend the rest of your life walking on sunshine, you really begin to focus on the craft of writing and how you can improve at it.

You're involved in the 2009 Debutantes: A Feast of Awesome! Could you tell us a little about the group?

The Debutantes are a group of YA and MG authors with books debuting in 2009. We're not a marketing group, but rather a social group. We talk about all sorts of stuff-- writing and editing and the process, but also what candy we like and what we saw on sale at the grocery store and....

All that said, we do have giveaways and contests going on-- it's hard to hang around with a bunch of like minded people and not want to make goodie bags, it seems.

What is your specific role?

I started the Debs community and mostly oversee initiating and setting up new members, site design, and general organizational type stuff. That said, I wouldn't say I truly have a specific role; no one does. We have no officers, no dues, and no pecking order.

If you have an idea, you pretty much just post "Hey, what if we did XYZ?" and people chime in, offer to help, etc. No one is required to participate in anything, and if you need to take a month or two off for your personal life, you'll be welcomed back with open arms.

We've really established a personal, community-type feel, I think in part because of our primary focus on being a social group with marketing serving as a side perk instead of the other way around.

How did the Debs come together?

We started with about 10-15 people, and now have almost 50. I was certain the number of membership requests would cool down as we got closer to 2009, but via word of mouth we've grown fairly steadily.

Who are your members?

A list of our members-- and their relevant book/contact info-- is available here.

Could you tell us a little about their works, highlighting as you see fit?

We really span the spectrum of the YA/MG genres. We have everything from lit fic (Secrets of Truth and Beauty by Megan Frazer (Hyperion, 2009)), chick lit (The Espressologist by Kristina Springer (FSG, 2009)), urban fantasy (Wings by Aprilynne Pike (HarperCollins, 2009)), historicals (The Season by Sarah MacLean (Orchard Books, 2009)), fantasy (Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink (Little, Brown 2009)), paranormals (Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell (Delacorte 2009)), boy books (Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta, Knopf 2009 )-- the whole nine yards. [Note: some links require LJ log in; see also master list.]

The Debs have authors from big houses, little houses, and everything in between. We've been doing an ARC swap where everyone sends their ARC around to the rest of the group one by one (each person signs and writes in the ARC, so it comes back to it's owner like a big Debs yearbook), and I haven't read a single disappointment. Seriously--there are way to many phenomenal Debs-penned books for me to find "highlighting" anything but a daunting task.

What plans does the group have for 2009?

In 2009, we're likely to be doing quite a few giveaways, donating to reading-related charities, and trying to connect with other writers, readers, and community watchers via topic discussions, critiques, and reviews.

But, in true Debs style, we're also likely to be cheering each other on, shamelessly promoting other Debs' books, and continuing to talk about life, writing, and candy.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

I didn't feel right answering this alone, so I asked a few other Debs to chime in:

Jackson Pearce (As You Wish (Harper Collins, 2009)): Keep going-- everything you put in the scrap heap is practice for a masterpiece.

Mandy Hubbard (Prada and Prejudice (Razorbill, 2009)): A published author is an amateur who didn't quit. Don't quit.

Rhonda Stapleton (Stupid Cupid (Simon Pulse, 2009)): Read, read, read--and when you're done, read more.

Cheryl Renee Herbsman (Breathing (Viking, 2009)): [Don't] try to control the form the writing wants to take...let go and let it be what it wants to be.

Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth (Delacorte, 2009)): Keep writing -- that's what it takes. Also, when writing, skip the boring parts.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Author Interview: Beverly Patt on Haven and the Class of 2k9

Beverly Patt on Beverly Patt: "A 40-something (okay, automatically you know I'm over 45 because no one under 45 calls themselves '40 something') mom of four, wife of one and writer of, well, it depends on what you're counting.

"I cut my writer teeth in the magazine world, writing 80+ nonfiction articles, mystery stories and parenting rants.

"I was even a Teen Advice Columnist until one of the Back Street Boys' girlfriends replaced me. Honestly. The nerve."

Congratulations on your debut novel, Haven (Blooming Tree, fall 2009)! Could you tell us a little about it?

14-year-old Rudy Morris would love nothing more than to own an ATV to help him escape his claustrophobic family once in a while. Ward-of-the-state Latonya would be happy to merely have a family to escape from. And Stark? Well, he just likes to fix stuff.

Put them all together and you've got a runaway plan that may be headed for disaster. Or even worse--success.

When did you find out about your first sale? What happened? How did you celebrate?

I found out over the phone in August of 2006. Miriam Hees, publisher of Blooming Tree Press, called me and said, "How'd you like to sell me a book?"

I screamed. Embarrassing, but true.

My son thought I'd been stabbed...

...or seen his supposedly cleaned bedroom.

My sweet, supportive hubby took me out for Chilean Sea Bass at our favorite restaurant.

My writer's group threw a party.

And fellow Chicago debut writer Cynthea Liu took me out for Thai!

What about being a near-debut author has surprised you the most?

How really long it is between getting that call and getting that book on the shelf. And how I still don't feel like a "real" writer yet.

You're involved in the Class of 2k9 cooperative professional effort? What does this mean? What is your specific role?

The "Class of 2k..." was the brainstorm of 2007 debut novelist Greg R. Fishbone--he thought a group of debut children's novelists could grab more media and industry attention together than on their own.

I was originally in the Class of 2k8. When my book got pushed to 2009, another former 2k8r, Rosanne Parry, and I took the torch and began taking applications. The early members elected me co-president while I was in the bathroom. Or something like that. (The other co-president is Albert Borris).

As to what the 2k9 group means...well, it's this amazing group of dedicated children's/ya novelists who have put loads of time and effort into... making a (wonderful!) group website, setting up speaking engagements, planning contests and giveaways, organizing outreach programs for under-served/needy schools and libraries, writing up reading guides/teaching guides/bookseller guidelines. Oh! And like any organization that has more than one woman on it - we have food! Well, recipes really, that go with our books.

My specific role has been dealing with the website (with my small committee) and providing comic relief.

How did the class come together? What were the criteria for membership eligibility and why?

We set up a hotmail account and put out a general call on as many places as we could - Verla Kay's Website for Children's Writers and Illustrators, LiveJournal, etc.

People who were interested emailed us and we sent them an application.The requirements set by previous classes were: (1) this had to be your first children's/YA novel; (2) published in the US by a publisher recognized in CWIM. There was also a monetary contribution (for the website, print/swag, etc).

We really tried to emphasize in our cover letter that being a part of this group would take a considerable chunk of time and commitment.

Who are your members?

Ellen Jensen Abbott, Albert Borris, Lauren Bjorkman, Megan Crewe, J. T. Dutton, Susan E. Fine, Kathryn Fitzmaurice, S. Terrell French, Lisa Greenwald, Edith M. Hemingway, Cheryl Renee Herbsman, Jennifer R. Hubbard, Danielle Joseph, Ann Haywood Leal, Deborah Lytton, Rosanne Parry, Joy Preble, Sydney Salter, Fran Cannon Slayton, Lauren Strasnick, Donna St. Cyr, Suzanne Morgan Williams and moi, Beverly Patt.

Why did you decide to participate?

I actually can't remember how it happened--maybe Jody Feldman and Marissa Dolye (2k8 co-presidents) asked Rosanne and I to start working on it? Probably.

I was living in London at the time so it's all a blur. (Don't I sound cool saying that?!)

What has the group accomplished so far?

A fabulous website, a handful of speaking proposals, awesome outreach and contest plans and some darn good recipes!

And not to be corny, but we've managed to develop a very close sense of community with each other, where each person is helping out more than the next. It's a very special group of people--and most of us have never met!

What plans do you have on the horizon?

Well, I have a picture-story book called Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook, illustrated by Shula Klinger (Marshall Cavendish) scheduled to come out in the Spring of 2010. I am extremely excited for that and cannot say enough good things about my editor, Robin Benjamin--she's been a dream to work with. The artwork is going to be fabulous too--I've been lucky enough to see some preliminary sketches.

Next, I have a few humorous picture books I'd love to sell. I'm currently revising a middle grade novel called Spirit House and hope to have a bidding war over that in the near future. Ha! And if there are any agents reading this--I'm unagented at the moment.

In what ways, if any, will your strategy differ from the Class of 2k8?

We've got food!

Seriously, it will be pretty much along the same lines, although we have a committed group of writers doing some incredible outreach work, which in my book, (ooo, bad pun) is really going above and beyond.

And I really do think the recipes are a fun bonus that may hook a hungry librarian or two.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Oh, gosh, I hardly feel like I can give advice--I still feel like a beginning writer myself. Truly.

I guess the most profound and, hopefully, helpful thing I can say is: It's all input.

The books you read, the smells you sniff, the conversations you overhear, the fights you have with your husband, the rejection letters you get, the articles you write in your local (read: free) paper, the broken arm you get while walking the new puppy that everyone else promised they'd walk but they don't and so you end up doing it and you trip over the leash....


Yes. Like I was saying--it's all input.
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