Friday, May 08, 2009

Cynsational News & Giveaways

Mara Rockliff, Children's Writer: official site from the author of such books as Next To An Ant, illustrated by Pascale Constantin (Scholastic), Pieces of Another World (Sylvan Dell), illustrated by Salima Alikhan, and the forthcoming The Busiest Street in Town, illustrated by Sarah McMenemy (Knopf), which will be released in October.

Author Branding
: a week-long discussion by Tami Lewis Brown at Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "Does your brand pigeonhole you into one type of work? Or can it free you to create all the books you dream of writing? How do you begin to understand your own personal and unique brand?" Note: don't miss You've Got the Look: an interview on branding with debut author Julie Berry.

Elana Roth: a new agent blog. "Elana Roth is a literary agent, amateur potter, and children's book devotee, who dwells in Brooklyn and thinks a lot about irony." Note: Elana works for Caren Johnson Literary Agency; see her professional listing. Source: Tracy Marchini of Curtis Brown.

Ten Block Walk: a new blog from HarperCollins editor Molly O'Neil. Peek: "...young adult literature's greatness comes from a place that is often just as aesthetically and technically brilliant, but also far more emotional, I think. And perhaps this is why I love it far more than the many Great Works of Literature I read in college." Source: Tracy Marchini of Curtis Brown.

Bid to Win a Critique from Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown from the Brenda Novak 2009 Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research. Note: critique of a partial and response within one week.

Here's a sneak peek at Austinite C.G. Young's "Toast," which has been acquired by Feiwel & Friends. Learn more about the background behind C.G.'s work and publication story from author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell at How To Be a Children's Book Illustrator.

Talking with Rick Riordan: The author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series talks about his runaway best-sellers as well as what's next by Jeanette Larson from Booklinks. Peek: "Mythology is a natural draw for kids. It has magic, mystery, adventure—everything you could want. I try to mix in the modern with the ancient and use plenty of humor." Read a Cynsations interview with Rick.

Beach Reads Giveaway: I Heart Daily and HarperTeen are giving away 10 sets of these four books: Riding the Universe by Gaby Triana; The Real Real by Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Kraus; Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker; and Vacations from Hell by Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Mlynowski. See more information.

Summer Teen Writing Workshops: author Deborah Davis will be teaching a series of five-day creative writing workshops in Berkeley for middle school and high school students in June and July. "We'll focus on fiction, non-fiction, and poetry--with students choosing the genres and topics that interest them." Read a Cynsations interview with Deborah.

The Release Party for The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (Holt) will be at 7:30 p.m. May 12 at BookPeople in Austin, Texas. Peek: "Callie Virginia Tate (with a voice reminiscent of Scout Finch and Ramona Quimby together) is eleven years in Texas, 1899. Her insatiable interest in scientific curiosities are encouraged by her grumpy grandfather, an avid naturalist. In addition to her covert scientific explorations and her relationship with her reclusive grandfather, she must also navigate the dangers of living with six brothers and what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century. This is a a witty, well-written and unique story that captured the literary hearts of all BookPeople employees." This will be an author presentation and book signing. There will also be refreshments and champagne. Read an interview with Jacqueline from Janet S. Fox at Through the Wardrobe.

Crazy Color Summer Reading List
from Edi, a school librarian, at Crazy Quilts. Peek: "Here’s the challenge. Make all or some of these your summer challenge! Read them, post a review on your blog, then link to your post on the Crazy Quilt Wiki. (more on the wiki to follow soon!) Let’s see how many reviews we can get on each book by Labor Day." Source: The Brown Bookshelf.

Cynthia Rylant's modern take on Greek myths: an interview by Linda M. Castellitto from BookPage. Peek: "I could see—as many mythologists have noted—that buried in these strange tales were deeply human stories we all live in some way. We all feel false pride, we all trust the wrong person, we all become obsessive, we all fight for love, we all try to control fate."

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams from The YA Authors Cafe. Peek: "Several years ago I heard about a girl who had run away from home several times. She ran because she was supposed to marry someone in her extended family. The girl was part of a small polygamist group. At that moment I knew, someday, that I would write something to do with polygamy."

Congratulations to Melissa Walker on the release of Lovestruck Summer (HarperCollins, May 2009)! Peek: "This is the story of Quinn, an indie rock girl who came out to Austin, Texas for a music internship. She also plans to spend long, lazy days in the sun at outdoor concerts--and to meet a hot musician or two. Instead, she's stuck rooming with her sorority brainwashed cousin, who now willingly goes by the name 'Party Penny.' Their personalities clash, big time. But Sebastian, a gorgeous DJ, definitely makes up for it. Sebastian has it all: looks, charm, and great taste in music. So why can't Quinn keep her mind off Penny's friend cute, All-American Russ and his Texas twang? One thing's certain: Quinn's in for a summer she'll never forget!"

In related news, Melissa and Susane Colasanti are sponsoring a contest to celebrate the releases of Lovestruck Summer and Susane's Waiting for You (Viking, 2009). See video below and more information!

Working with An Agent by Sara Crowe at Crowe's Nest. Peek: "Once you have your dream agent, there are some basic rules for maintaining a healthy author-agent relationship." Note: also discusses writer-agent dynamics leading up to this point. Read a Cynsations interview with Sara.

On the Man Telling You "No": Where "the Man" Also = You. from Maggie Stiefvater. Peek: "Not to get too airy-fairy here, but as a writer, you ought to know this: words have power. Choose the right ones. Turn the negativity of your doubts into a positive challenge for yourself. I will get better. I will learn to characterize better. I will unlock the secrets of beautiful prose, stunning character growth, etc. The next book will be better."

Children's author Bonny Becker is closing her critique service due to a sharp uptick in her own writing projects. Candlewick is working with her to develop a line of Mouse and Bear books, including picture books and early readers, which will take up a lot of her time. Note: congratulations, Bonny!

Cynsational Tip: if you're sponsoring a giveaway or other contest, be sure to include the deadline.

Making a Living by Vicki Cobb from INK: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Peek: "...I have not held a real job since 1969. I am not rich but I have managed to financially support myself and my two sons as a single mother and put a few dollars away for a rainy day (which is now)."

Take a sneak peek at Navel of the World (PDF file) by P.J. Hoover (The Forgotten Worlds, Book 2)(CBAY, October 2009) from Madeline at Buried in the Slush Pile.

Pirates--who they really hurt from Ally Carter at Ally's Diary. Peek: "You see, whenever a book is online to download and/or read for free, chances are that someone has uploaded it without permission--illegally. And whenever someone reads or downloads that book they are essentially stealing it."

Writers' League of Texas Book Awards
: the deadline for entering has been extended to May 15.

Congratulations to Jenny Han on the release of The Summer I Turned Pretty (Simon & Schuster, 2009)! From the promotional copy: "Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along." Note: be sure to check out Jenny's new official author website!

Lee & Low New Voices Award: "the award will be given for a children's picture book manuscript by a writer of color. The award winner receives a cash grant of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash grant of $500... Manuscripts will be accepted from May 1 through Sept. 31 and must be postmarked within that period." See more information.

The Journal/Sentinel (WI) YA Column by Ann Angel: seeking suggestions of YA novels about "good girls and the real guys they love." Seeks suggestions from YA authors on novels, non-fiction, and memoir. Contact Ann.

Congratulations to readergirlz for winning an Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation! Scroll for more information!


Enter to win an ARC of Pure by Terra Elan McVoy (Simon Pulse, 2009)! To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Pure" in the subject line. Deadline: May 30.

Hunger Mountain Spring Fundraising Auction: bid to win feature manuscript critiques with notable authors and literary agents as well as limited edition letterpress broadsides! All items are be available for bidding at The Hunger Mountain Store, through noon EST May 9. The auction offers opportunities to work with award-winning children's-YA authors Donna Jo Napoli, Sarah Ellis, Martine Leavitt, and Tim Wynne-Jones. Highly acclaimed picture book author-illustrator Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Newbery Honor author Marion Dane Bauer are offering their expertise. In addition, literary agent Mark McVeigh, founding member of The McVeigh Agency, has donated a full-length children's/YA fiction critique and Tracy Marchini, agent assistant at Curtis Brown, Ltd., has donated a middle grade/YA critique.

The Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers' Conference Fourteenth Annual Event will be held from Aug. 11 to Aug. 17. The award-winning YA faculty for summer 2009 are Newbery Honor author and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt and Printz Winner and National Book Award Finalist An Na.

Enter to win a paperback copy of Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac (Harcourt, 2008)! To enter, email me (scroll and click envelope) with your name and snail/street mail address and type "Sacajawea" in the subject line. Deadline: May 30! Read a Cynsational interview with Joe.

Bridget Zinn Auction: will take place between now and 12 a.m. PST May 31. Bid to win critiques from award-winning and "big name" authors, signed books, promotional services, and much more.

Congratulations to Kelly in New York, who won a copy of Nacho the Party Puppy by Emma J. Virjan (Random House, 2008)! Read a Cynsations interview with Emma.

More Personally

This week's highlight was meeting author Pooja Makhijani in person! She was in town for a family wedding, and we met for breakfast at Waterloo Ice House and walked over to BookPeople. Pooja is the author of one of my all-time favorite picture books, Mama's Saris (Little Brown, 2007), which is a great choice for girls who like my Jingle Dancer (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2001).

Congratulations to Alicia in Virginia, who won her choice of Eternal T-shirts, from TeensReadToo! Note: Alicia chose the Royal Bat Blue. Read an interview with illustrator Gene Brenek on Images of Eternal. Learn more about the book!

Thank you to author Deborah Davis for highlighting Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007) among recent recommended reads in her author newsletter! She says: "Who knew I'd become a fan of vampire stories in middle age? This one has a spunky girl protagonist, werewolves and werearmadillos, and terrific tension throughout the second half of the book."

Thanks to R.L. La Fevers for listing Cynsations among her favorite blogs. She calls it: "The go to blog on the children's book industry. If you visit only one industry blog, let it be this one." Check out her other recommendations.

I look forward to visiting with YA book club readers at the Cedar Park (TX) Public Library at 11 a.m. May 30.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

New Voice: Cindy Pon on Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia

Cindy Pon is the first-time author of Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia (HarperTeen, 2009). From the promotional copy:

No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved--despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family--to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger's subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.

But now, something is after her. Something terrifying--a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn't only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.

Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard...she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.

It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help...and perhaps more.

What were you like as a young reader, and how did that influence the book that you're debuting this year?

I think that I have a slightly different background than most.

I was born in Taiwan and came to the United States when I was six. It was mid-semester of first grade. I remember going into the class and not understanding anything. It made a deep impression on me--when a child cannot comprehend what's being said. I remember my first grade teacher writing my name on the board because I didn't know the alphabet, much less how to spell.

For a long time, I went away an hour a day with other recent immigrants from Taiwan to learn English from my ESL teacher. I remember sitting in the living room, staring longingly outside as the neighborhood kids played and I tried to memorize how to spell "yellow" and "slide" and "swing."

But at some point, my English ability surpassed my mom's (who was my devoted English tutor at home), and all of a sudden, a new fantastic world opened up to me in books. I remember reading voraciously as a child, and loving the Scholastic Book Orders! it was like Christmas every time!

I loved Noel Streatfield. Dancing Shoes and Ballet Shoes (1936) were my favorite--but I basically read the entire series. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (Houghton Mifflin, 1960) remains a favorite. It's the book I wish I had written. A Little Princess by Frances H. Burnett (1905) as well as a Wrinkle in Time by L'Engle (1962) were all read over and over again.

Like most writers, I began writing because I loved reading so much.

As someone working with a publicist, how did you identify that person? Why did you decide to go with professional help? What steps are the two of you taking to raise awareness of your new release?

I'm working with Rebecca Grose, who happens to be local in San Diego.

I found her through referral, and loved that she specialized in children's book publicity. I wanted to hire a personal publicist because this is all new to me, and I didn't think i was savvy enough to promote my debut as well as I'd like. I just wanted to give my all to Silver Phoenix. So it gave me peace of mind.

Already, Rebecca has connected me to a organization called Rolling Readers. They are local and doing a fundraiser dedicated to chidren's authors and artists. It's perfect as I'm doing a children's picture book as well, and I love that the function is for a good cause. She's also putting together a press kit for me, doing outreach to people who may be interested in reading and blurbing my novel, as well as targeting groups who may enjoy reading my book. She has the background and expertise to guide me through my debut book launch.

Cynsational Notes

See the Silver Phoenix Book Trailer.

The New Voices Series is a celebration of debut authors of 2009. First-timers may also be featured in more traditional author interviews over the course of the year.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Author Interview: Sharon G. Flake on The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street

Sharon G. Flake on Sharon G. Flake: "I was born in Philadelphia in 1955 and am one of six children. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh in English, I went on to become a house parent, a foster care worker, and then a public relations representative and director at the University of Pittsburgh.

"I am the author of the following novels: The Skin I'm In (Disney Press, 1998); Money Hungry (Hyperion, 2001); Who Am I Without Him: Short Stories About Girls and the Boys in Their Lives (Hyperion, 2004); Bang! (Hyperion, 2005); and The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street (Hyperion, 2007, 2009). I reside in Pittsburgh and write for the most remarkable young people on the planet."

Note: The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street is now available in paperback from Hyperion.

What kind of young reader were you? Who were your favorite authors?

I loved television more than I loved reading, I hate to say, but I did read plenty of books. I'd sit in the tub reading, lay in the living room reading or outside on the steps. Once I borrowed a friend's book and ended up drying it in the oven after it ended up in the tub. Needless to say, the heat made a mess of the book, and I had to pay for it.

As a young person I loved to read Langston Hughes, and I also loved romantic novels, which during those days were pretty tame and low key which is why I guess most of my books have a bit of innocent romance in them.

Seventeen was one of my favorite novels. Although the characters didn't look like me, the girls and I had the same heart and desire for love and romance. It's what I love about books--everyone of every color and persuasion is invited to the party and encouraged to have a good time.

Could you tell us about your apprenticeship as a writer?

Wow. I didn't write or know I had any writing talent in middle or high school. I majored in writing in college because there seemed to be so many other things that didn't suit me.

After I graduated college, a few friends and I formed a writing group that didn't last long, though the friendships are decades old. My friends showed me what was possible in the world of writing, while I was still scared and uncertain of myself. Because of Robin and Carla I wrote for a local magazine, got the cover stories for a B-level national woman's magazine, and kept at this writing thing. I also had an article in Essence Magazine many years ago and went on to win a contest in Aim Multicultural magazine as well as the August Wilson Short Story Contest. I won a scholarship and attended the Highlights for Children's Writing Workshop (go if you can; it's great) and was fortunate to have my first novel The Skin I'm In win the Coretta Scott King New Talent Award and come out during Disney's inaugural launch of Jump At The Sun.

What was the single best thing you did to improve your craft? What, if anything, do you wish you'd done differently?

I think learning to love rewriting is the single biggest thing. Once the Skin I'm In was accepted for publication, I got to see that rewriting is part of the game.

Before then I didn't like it much. Now I love it because my work gets better and better each time I rewrite--even before an editor sees it.

Could you tell us about your path to publication?

I had only sent out a few pieces prior to being published. Some were for non-fiction articles; others were children's books.

I remember a publisher in Washington wanted a book I had written about hair. It was text for a picture book. The publisher sent me a note saying he loved the book, but wanted me to make one small change. I got on my high horse and thought that if he loved, it than surely a bigger publishing house like Simon & Schuster or Clarion would love it even more. I never responded to the smaller house in Washington. I sent my manuscript to several larger houses.

Needless to say, the other houses didn't want anything to do with it. They didn't even suggest I fix or let me know why there were rejecting it--which is very common. I learned my lesson: don't look a gift horse in the mouth, and sometimes you are not as good as you think you are.

Could you update us on your back list, highlighting as you see fit?

The Skin I'm In is about a dark-skin girl who gets picked on because people don't like how she looks. With the help of a teacher and wise words from her deceased dad, she learns to love the skin she's in as well as her gift for writing. The book deals with self esteem and bullying. This remains my biggest seller.

Money Hungry--Raspberry Hill is thirteen and hungry for dough, but she won't do just anything to get it. Having been homeless once, she wants to make certain the streets never see her or her mom again, so she works hard to save money but must learn that money isn't everything and friends and family are really the most important things in life.

Begging for Change--Raspberry Hill is at it again, only this time her father returns and her mother is injured, so life feels more uncertain and fragile than ever for her. Family and friends and a new relationship with a boy from her past all help this young lady navigate life and treasure her personal values. The book deals with other issues as well, including father daughter relationships, biracial issues, romance and personal values. Raspberry and her friends are very popular with my readers--they love her and beg for a third book. Is one coming? Who knows? Perhaps.

Who Am I Without Him: Short Stories About Girls and the Boys in Their Lives. "Mookie in Love," "The Ugly One," "I like White Boys," and "Wanted A Thug," are just a few of the stories that enable girls and boys to sit around the same table or alone in their rooms and read about the challenging, romantic, funny and sometimes difficult road to relationships. Teachers and parents email me often about this novel, thanking me for giving them a vehicle to discuss relationships with the youth in their lives as well as with one another. Girlfriends have dumped their boyfriends because of this novel. Father's have read it with their daughters. And adults have found that, yes, young men will discuss relationships.

Bang! With gun violence rising, I wrote this book to let people see what happens when a family member, a child, is killed. The novel astonishes teachers and parents, with how it enables youth of all cultures to open up about their own lives and to examine their own behavior and their potential to solve many of societies problems. The novel is fast paced and hard hitting with school districts around the nation using it in classrooms to empower youth. The book examines issues around grief, art, family and their ability to help us heal, men, grief and pain, the role that animals play in our lives, and empowering youth through literature.

Congratulations on the success of The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street (Hyperion, 2007)! Could you tell us about it?

Queen Marie Rosseau is in the fifth grade. She's smart and pretty, and her parents own the apartment building she lives in.

Across the street lives Leroy, a new kid, who lives in the housing projects. Leroy is teased about how he dresses, but Queen's parents manage to see the royalty in him as well as their daughter. Queen will have no parts of that though, and is determined to prove that Leroy is not an African prince as he is telling everyone.

A mystical neighbor, a bully and a little humble pie help Queen to realize that being kind is a queen's responsibility as well.

Along the way, readers realize that princes and queens live in every neighborhood, that castles are great places for dreaming and solving riddles. Learning about Africa and exploring friendship make for great reading in a novel.

What was your initial inspiration for writing this book?

I visit my hometown a lot. My folks still live in North Philly, and I love to walk and explore when I'm there. So many houses in that neighborhood remind me of castles. I saw one in particular one day. I thought about it and wanted to write a book about a queen.

When I visit schools I ask young people to tell me about the kings and queens in their neighborhoods. I ask them about the castles there too.

Sometimes they look at me as if I've lost my mind; even kids in wealthy neighborhoods do that. But then they catch on--castles are everywhere if we look for them and don't expect them all to look the same.

During my talks, I've learned about a young man whose real grandfather was a king in Nigeria. Even his teacher didn't know that. I've heard about cats being the kings at home and sisters who were wonderful queens and some who were not.

One boy told me that he was a prince.

I asked him what he did that would help me to see that he was a prince.

He made breakfast for his mom in the mornings, he said.

What kind of king does that make you? I asked.

"A loyal king," he said.

Even his principal's heart melted.

He lived in North Philly. Sometimes I think people forget there are loyal kings living there too.

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

The timeline was short, about eight months. My long time editor had left, but Disney was nice enough to let her still work on the book with me. I also had an in-house editor. Neither one of us had experience with working with illustrators, so that was a challenge. I'm sure we drove the illustrator crazy. But we all learned a lot, I hope.

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

I had to do research, which I hadn't had to do up until then. There's a riddle in the book. I knew which clues I wanted to give, but they had to line up with a certain country, and so I had to read about this country and that one. I'd find that my clues went well with one country, only to get to the end of the riddle and find something that wasn't native to that land. So I'd tweek the riddle and start again, and end up someplace I didn't want to be. It went well in the end. It's my first and last riddle, I think.

So far, what is your favorite children's-YA book of 2009?

Fly Girl by by Sherri L. Smith (Putnam, 2009).

What do you do when you're not in the book world?

I line dance, read, visit my family in Philly, talk with my daughter and walk my dog, Pharaoh.

What can your fans look forward to next?

You Don't Even Know Me--short stories and poems about boys will be out in 2010. One young man gets married; one writes a love letter of sorts to his 'hood.

I am also working on a book about a girl who has a reading problem and desperately likes a boy who is disabled. The problem is he doesn't like her, and besides, she has other fish to fry like staying out of special ed, among others. It's my first book about middle class young people. I'm not sure of the pub date, perhaps next year as well.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Guest Blogger: Author Kathleen Duey on Her Twitter Novel: Russet

by Kathleen Duey

Writing a Twitter novel has given me back an artistic jolt I had almost forgotten: Raw Fear.

At a conference, I heard myself giving advice that I hadn't followed in a long time.

I wasn't experimenting with anything that scared me to death anymore.

That night, I inventoried the unbooked characters in my skull and noticed Russet.

I knew he was running from something, that he was scared, and that I was drawn to him. That was all.

I thought about giving him a word-file journal, channeling him every morning before I began writing my real projects.

Then I considered doing it publicly, on a blog.

Oh? That made me sit up straighter. But I had so little time—so many other projects already in progress. Blog entries take hours for me. I revise compulsively, like most writers.

That evening, I got an email notification that someone was following me on Twitter.

Following what? I had created an account over a year before, but hadn't done anything with it. Not a single tweet. It took me all morning to remember the password and log in.

I tweeted a few times, enjoying that tiny-burst 140 letters/spaces/limit, and then it hit me.

A novel. A whole novel in Russet's voice, written in Twitter's 140 (or less) character bursts.

In public. Real time. No revision.

And when I thought about all the ways it could blow up in my face I felt almost sick. Bingo, eureka, perfect. I was scared to death.

Still am. But it has been worth it.

I start with Russet every morning: he tweets at, and then I update the full text on his blog. Only then do I go to work.

Scared Scars (A Resurrection of Magic, Book 2) is finished and will be out in August. I am writing the last book of the Resurrection of Magic trilogy.

Next up: a YA collaboration called STAYS, The Faeries Promise books for second-to-third graders, A Virgin's Blood, then Free Rat.

And I come to that work, wide, wide awake in a way that makes me remember how much I love writing. For itself. For the scary, exposed, amazing joy of it.

Read a Cynsations interview with Kathleen.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers' Conference Fourteenth Annual Event to Feature Kathi Appelt and An Na

The Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers' Conference Fourteenth Annual Event will be held from Aug. 11 to Aug. 17.

Vermont College of Fine Arts, home of the nationally acclaimed MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program, has since 1996 offered a summer conference dedicated to advanced writers seeking to recharge, reconnect, and nourish their creative development.

The award-winning YA faculty for summer 2009 are Newbery Honor author and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt and Printz Winner and National Book Award Finalist An Na.

Kathi Appelt is the author of more than thirty books for children and young adults.

My Father's Summers (Henry Holt, 2004) won the Paterson Poetry Prize for Young Adult Literature and was selected as a NYPL Book for the Teen Age as well as an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. In addition, it was a finalist for the PEN USA Award for Children's Literature.

Kathi's first novel, The Underneath, was recently named a finalist for The National Book Award and an ALA Newbery Honor Book. She is on the faculty of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She and her husband Ken live in College Station, Texas.

An Na was born in Korea and grew up in San Diego. Her first novel, A Step From Heaven (Front Street, 2001), was a National Book Award Finalist and received the Michael L. Printz Award and the 2002 Children's Book Award in Young Adult Fiction from the International Reading Association. It was also named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

Wait For Me (Putnam, 2006) was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and Junior Library Guild Selection. Her third novel, The Fold (Putnam), was released in spring 2008.

An Na is a graduate of the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program at VCFA and teaches in The Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program of Pine Manor College.

The Postgraduate Conference is open to all experienced writers, with graduate degrees or equivalent backgrounds.

Process and craft are emphasized through a unique structure based on intimate workshops limited to five-seven participants, which include individual consultations with faculty, readings by faculty and participants, issues forums and master classes—all in a lively, supportive community of writers who share meals, ideas, and social activities in scenic Vermont.

The historic campus of Vermont College of Fine Arts is host to the annual gathering. Along with the rich menu of conference events, participants will enjoy the amenities of downtown Montpelier—the nation's smallest and arguably most charming state capitol—just a few minutes' walk from the college, as well as the beauty and recreational opportunities of the surrounding countryside.

Cynsational Notes

Additional faculty will be teaching writing for adults in the novel, short story, creative nonfiction, poetry, and poetry manuscript.

Contact Ellen Lesser, conference director, with any questions.

ASPCA® Announces 2008 Henry Bergh Children’s-YA Book Award Winners

Houghton Mifflin to Receive
ASPCARoger Caras Achievement Award

at 2009 American Library Association Conference

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) has announced the winners of the 2008 ASPCA Henry Bergh Children's Book Awards.

Named in honor of ASPCA founder Henry Bergh, the annual awards recognize books based on their exemplary handling of subject matter pertaining to animals and the environment. The winning authors will be honored at a ceremony at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago on July 13.

Houghton Mifflin will also be awarded the 2008 Roger Caras Achievement Award for children’s literature at the upcoming awards. Named in honor of past ASPCA President Roger Caras, the award honors an outstanding individual or organization that has inspired children and made a contribution to the animal community through literature, actions or other means.

"Nothing is more essential to the future of America's pets than educating our children about animal awareness," says ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. "Through honoring both an outstanding publisher and the works of several distinguished authors, the ASPCA is able to continue its quest to create a more humane nation.”

This year's nine award winners and honorees covered seven categories.

Winners of the 2008 ASPCA® Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award are:

Non-Fiction Companion Animals Award

Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival
by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery, illustrated by Jean Cassels
Walker & Company

Non-Fiction Companion Animals Honor

by Sarah Whitehead

Non-Fiction Environment and Ecology

by Jim Arnosky
Sterling Publishing

Non-Fiction Humane Heroes

by Pam Kaster
Louisiana State University Press

Fiction Companion Animals Award

by Jeanne Prevost
Gryphon Press

Fiction Companion Animals Honor

by Jan Zita Grover
Gryphon Press

Fiction Environment and Ecology

The Wolves are Back
by Jean Craighead George
Dutton Children’s Books

Fiction Humane Heroes

by Jim Arnosky
G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Young Adult

by Rosa Jordan

To qualify for consideration for the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Awards, the following criteria must be met:

* Books must be written in English;

* Books must be written for an audience of children up to and including the age of 12 (age 17 for the young adult award);

* Books must be works of fiction, non-fiction, or collections of short stories, essays, or poetry, and;

* Books must be published between January and December of the previous year.

Self-published books are eligible, provided that the author/publisher also publishes titles by other authors.

About the ASPCA®

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first humane organization established in the Americas, and today has more than one million supporters throughout North America. A 501 [c] [3] not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.

The ASPCA provides local and national leadership in animal-assisted therapy, animal behavior, animal poison control, anti-cruelty, humane education, legislative services, and shelter outreach. The New York City headquarters houses a full-service, accredited animal hospital, adoption center, and mobile clinic outreach program.

The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York’s animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet. For more information, please visit

Bridget Zinn Auction: Bid for Manuscript Critiques, Promotional Services, Signed Books & More

Bridget Zinn Auction: will take place between now and 12 a.m. PST May 31. Bid to win such exciting items as:

-a 10-page manuscript critique by Newbery honor author Cynthia Lord;

-a 20-page YA or mystery manuscript critique by April Henry;

-a 20-page manuscript critique by YA-middle grade author Amanda Marrone (Winners will have a choice to receive copy of Uninvited, a 2009 ALA Popular Paperback and Quick Pick nominee, Revealers, or an advanced readers copy of Devoured, which is due out in September.);

-a full-length middle-grade manuscript critique by author Jody Feldman ("This critique will include big-picture thoughts and limited line-editing suggestions.");

- a manuscript critique(s) by author Kate Messner ("two picture books or the first 30 pages of a longer work. She'll throw in an ARC of The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, too.");

-a custom promotional audio program directed and produced by Mark Blevis of Just One More Book! ("Do you want to create an audio program to reach your audience? Perhaps you want to release a fun monologue or a short reading from your book on the Internet. Mark will help you create a single 10-minute audio production (podcast or not) including audio engineering and associated creative direction/consultation time.");

-a podcast by Heidi Estrin from The Book of Life ("The usual focus of the show is Judaica (our home base is a synagogue library in Boca Raton), but...we'll waive that restriction.");

-a marketing package from Shelli Johannes-Wells (year to redeem)("Auction winner receives 2 hours of marketing consultation plus the design and copy on one of the following items: book-marker, business card, or postcard. If you do not need any of these items, you may trade it in for additional marketing consultation on a selling query letter/synopsis.");

-a "social media" plan by Greg Pincus ("Greg Pincus has 'social networked' his way into the New York Times, the Washington Post, and a two book deal. He's sold poetry from his blog and given seminars based on his experiences. And he’s also made great friends and had a lot of fun in the process!");

-original "Babymouse" art by Matthew Holm ("This piece of art, featuring Babymouse in a Peter Pan fantasy, was created by Babymouse author/illustrator Matthew Holm especially for Bridget's auction!);

-signed books (like Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta, Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer, The Magic Thief and The Magic Thief: Lost by Sarah Prineas, Babymouse: The Musical by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (and character name! "Have you ever wanted to be named for a character in a book. Now is your opportunity!") The Battle of the Labrynth (Book Four of the Percy Jackson and The Olympians Series by Rick Riordan (first edition) Don't Die Dragonfly by Linda Joy Singleton, Sing-Along Song by Joann Early Macken (illustrated by LeUyen Pham), Flip Float Fly: Seeds on the Move by Joann Early Macken (illustrated by Pam Paparone), Far From You by Lisa Schroeder)) Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee);

-a handcrafted blank book by Sarah Stevenson ("This 6 by 9 inch book is bound using a Japanese stab binding technique, specifically the tortoise shell binding. Inside the lotus print cover is 30 pages of Strathmore charcoal paper.");

-a writer's goody bag designed by Kim C. Baker ("I sewed a few bits of matching fabric to a Moleskine notebook and threw in some pens. Then I made a little tissue holder, because writers are always weeping tears of joy when they finish a draft, or find the perfect phrase, or sell a manuscript. I imagine. That stuff never happens to me, but if it does- I will need tissue. Writers also need silliness and sustenance, so there are some stickers and Fran’s chocolates.");

-sunflower root doll ("Handcrafted 2 1/2 inch Sunflower Root Child Doll by Farida Dowler. The Sunflower Doll is made out of wool, wool/rayon and cotton, and has embroidered details of stalks, leaves and ladybugs.");

-a silver "write" bracelet by Laura Ludwig Hamor ("Solid silver with adjustable black leather cord.");

-a handcrafted baby quilt ("...measuring 32″x38″. This handmade quilt is 100% cotton top and backing with natural cotton batting inside. It is machine pieced and machine quilted with hand sewing on the binding. It is machine washable and very durable.");

-three-night stay in Torrey, Utah ("...a comfortable guest house with queen bed, sitting area, refrigerator, microwave, television(gets only local stations). Borders the National Forest with a stream at the bottom of the hill. Capitol Reef National Park entrance is 7 miles away and the property borders the park. Scenic HWY 12 and Bryce Canyon National Park are close by.");

-and more to come!

Cynsational Notes

From April Henry:

Three things happened to Bridget in February:

1. She got an agent for her young adult novel.

2. She got married.

3. She found out she had Stage Four colon cancer.

...Even when you have insurance that covers most things, it doesn’t cover everything.

Learn more about Bridget Zinn.

From the site: "If you are an artist, do you have a piece of art you could donate? If you are an author, could you donate a signed copy of your book? Or even a critique of the first 10 or 20 pages of someone's work in progress? Do you have anything else you could contribute? If so, please email Jone MacCulloch" Note: bloggers and social networkers may also want to help spread the word about the auction.
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