Saturday, October 05, 2013

Feral Nights Now Available from Walker Books (U.K.)

Author copies are in the house!
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Feral Nights (Book 1 in the Feral trilogy) is now available from Walker Books in the United Kingdom. Note the light-catching embossed detailing and kicker line: "The hunt is on..." From the promotional copy:

Fans of the Tantalize quartet will thrill to see werepossum Clyde and other favorite secondary characters — plus all-new ones — take to the fore in book one of an all-new series.

When sexy, free-spirited werecat Yoshi tracks his sister, Ruby, to Austin, he discovers that she is not only MIA, but also the key suspect in a murder investigation.

Meanwhile, werepossum Clyde and human Aimee have set out to do a little detective work of their own, sworn to avenge the brutal killing of werearmadillo pal Travis.

When all three seekers are snared in an underground kidnapping ring, they end up on a remote island inhabited by an unusual (even by shifter standards) species. The island harbors a grim secret and were-predator and were-prey must join forces in a fight to escape alive.

Fans of best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith Tantalize quartet will thrill to see favorite sidekick characters--together with all-new ones--take to the fore in this wry, high-action entry in an exciting new series.

Cynsational Reviews

YA author Brian Yansky models the Sanguini's dragon predator or prey T-shirt!
"Smith’s blend of supernatural suspense, campy humor, and romantic tension is addictive; allusions to both pop culture ('Thriller,' Monty Python) and literature (The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Most Dangerous Game) add to the fun. Most satisfying of all, Aimee and especially unassuming, injured Clyde leave their sidekick roles behind to come into their own." —The Horn Book

"Smith’s fantasy smoothly switches between the three protagonists’ perspectives, while expertly blending the mythical and the modern. The story’s sharp banter and edgy plot make for an entertaining and clever story about loyalty and reconciling differences."
— Publishers Weekly

"sexy, fast-paced...ending that satisfies and should win her many new fans." — Booklist

"...dialogue that sparkles with wit, filled with both literary and pop-culture references. ('You’re saying that you and my sister perform exorcisms on vomiting children with rotating heads?')...playful, smart tone."
—Kirkus Reviews

Cynsational Notes

Take a sneak peek at Feral Curse (Book 2).

Friday, October 04, 2013

Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Congratulations to Katie Monnin on the release of Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts: An Illustrated Adventure, illustrated by Rachel Bowman (Maupin House, 2013)! From the promotional copy:

Today's reading standards require K-12 teachers to teach multi-modal texts that combine print and images. 

Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts: An Illustrated Adventure shows teachers how to read, understand, and teach the unique vocabulary and anatomy of the graphic text format alongside traditional, print-based literature and content-area selections. 

Make the most of the graphic text-driven format in your reading program with this engaging and innovative professional resource from Dr. Katie Monnin.

Break It Up! How to Reduce Reader Fatigue from QueryTracker. Peek: "We have become a nation of short attention spans. If you hand us a tome filled with paragraphs that go on for pages, we will snore. Our eyes will glaze over. Worst of all, we skim."

Organic Writers and Plotters by Gail Gauthier from Original Content. Peek: "We are said to write by the seat of our pants. Thus you sometimes hear us referred to by the mildly vulgar term 'pantsers.' We are said not to plot."

Diversity 101: Blurring the Lines Between the Familiar and Foreign by Uma Krishnaswami from CBC Diversity. Peek: "Personally, I’m tired of hearing South Asian characters who sound like Gunga Din. When you’re writing contemporary fiction, let your characters sound as if they live in the same century as we do. You’re after cadence, not caricature."

Human Trafficking, Immigration and Sexual Violence: an Interview with Cory McCarthy by J.L. Powers from The Pirate Tree: Social Justice and Children's Literature. Peek: "I’m frightened by the idea that many teens aren’t aware that this is a reality in suburban and rural America…that this is much closer than outer space…and much more real than 'Law and Order: SVU'."

The Evolution of a Picture Book Cover (and Other Goodness from Cece Bell) by Jules from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Peek: "Cece is visiting today to share rejected cover images, as well as title page illustrations; some early sketches and layouts and such; and some final art from the book, too."

The Ever-Elusive Secret of Writing by Sarah Beth Durst from Adventures in YA & Children's Publishing. Peek: "Finishing that novel taught me that I could do it. And once both my conscious and subconscious mind knew that, everything changed in a profound way that I hadn't anticipated."

The Talent and Skills Thesaurus by Becca Puglisi from The Bookshelf Muse. Peek: "Characters are unique and memorable not only because of their individual mixtures of positive attributes and flaws, but also because of their personal likes and dislikes, their hobbies, and their talents and skills."

Governor General's Literary Awards Finalists from the Canada Council for the Arts. Peek: "The GGs are awarded in both official languages, in seven categories: fiction, poetry, drama, nonfiction, children’s literature (text and illustration) and translation..."

Coming Out 2.0 from Malinda Lo. Peek: "A few recent books question the concept of sexual orientation labels entirely."

The Beat Goes On – Or, How To Be A Meter Reader: Identifying Rhythm Troublespots In Your Rhyming Picture Book Story by Debbie Diesen from Julie Hedlund. Peek: "...a word of caution: Some rhythms allow for – to my mind, even demand — a bit of wiggle room in terms of unaccented syllables." Via Emma Dryden.

Parting Ways with Your Agent by Elisabeth Weed from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Perhaps your career is taking a different turn or moving into a genre that your agent doesn’t handle or have as much expertise in. It’s perfectly acceptable to call your agent and have an honest discussion about that."

Cynsational Giveaways

The winner of Tantalize: Kieren's Story & Eternal: Zachary's Story, both by Cynthia Leitich Smith & Ming Doyle was Todd in Florida. The winners of Texting the Underworld by Ellen Booraem were Paige and Katy. Note: new Cynsations giveaways will go live within the week.

12 YA Fiction Giveaways & New Releases from Adventures in YA Publishing. See also The Giant YA Pride 2013 Giveaway from Malinda Lo.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

I'm honored to announce that I'll be offering the keynote address at the Kidlitosphere Conference Nov.  9 in Austin, Texas. Check out this short Author Spotlight: Cynthia Leitich Smith from eBooksDaily.

Join Greg Leitich Smith and Susanna Greenberg for Book Buzz at noon central next Thursday, Oct. 10 on Blog Talk Radio. Peek: "Meet children's book author Greg Leitich Smith and learn about his books, Tofu and T. Rex and Ninjas, Piranhas and Galileo, now published in new editions by IntoPrint Publishing." Note: more on the re-releases and IntoPrint coming soon!

Congratulations to Frances Lee Hall on the sale of her middle grade novel, "Fried Wonton," to Regina Griffin at Egmont!

Personal Links

Cynsational Events

Delve into the world of graphic novels on Oct. 5 with a Graphic Novel Workshop, featuring author/illustrator Dave Roman, author Cynthia Leitich Smith and First Second Books Senior Editor Calista Brill; sponsored by Austin SCBWI.

Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith will speak Oct. 17 at Lampasas ISD in Lampasas, Texas.

Cynthia Leitich Smith will offer several presentations the week of Oct. 20 in conjunction with Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000) being the featured title for children as part of the 2013 One Book, One San Diego campaign, sponsored by KBPS, more details forthcoming.

Cynthia Leitich Smith joins featured authors at the Texas Book Festival Oct. 26 and Oct. 27 at the State Capitol Building in Austin. She will speak at the "Girl Power(s)" session with Kami Garcia and Jessica Khoury from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in Capitol Extension Room E2.014, with a book signing immediately following.

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith at the Illumine Award Nov. 8 at the downtown Hilton in Austin, Texas.

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith at the Kidlitosphere Conference Nov.  9 in Austin, Texas.

Cynthia Leitich Smith (Feral Nights) and P.J. Hoover (Solstice) will sign their new releases from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Barnes & Noble in Round Rock, Texas.

Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith will speak at the Florida Association for Media in Education Conference Nov. 20 to Nov. 22 in Orlando.

The Craft & Business of Writing: Everything You wanted to Know About Writing, a fundraiser featuring C.C. Hunter, Miranda James and Lori Wilde for the Montgomery County Book Festival, on Nov. 16 at Lone Star College Montgomery Campus in Houston. Fee: $100. Registration deadline: Nov. 10. See more information. Register here.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

New Voice: Annemarie O'Brien on Lara's Gift

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Annemarie O’Brien is the first-time author of Lara's Gift (Knopf, 2013)(author blog). From the promotional copy:

Young Lara is being groomed in the family tradition to take over as Count Vorontsov’s next kennel steward, breeding borzoi dogs worthy of the Tsar. 

But when Lara’s baby brother is born, she finds herself supplanted as her father decides to make her brother the next kennel steward. 

Lara has a special gift of understanding these incredible dogs—a gift that her father eyes with fear and superstition. 

Can Lara convince him to let her fulfill her destiny with the noble borzoi? And can she save her favorite dog, Zar, and the rest of the borzoi from a hungry pack of wolves threatening life on the estate?

Set in Imperial Russia, full of color and authenticity, this is a powerful story of one girl’s love for her dog—and her desire to fulfill her prophetic dreams and destiny.

How did you approach the research process for your story? What resources did you turn to? What roadblocks did you run into? How did you overcome them? What was your greatest coup, and how did it inform your manuscript?

Lara’s Gift is a story I carried in my head for twenty years. In that time, I was passionate for anything Russian and read tons of Russian literature and history. I also spent ten years living and working in and around Russia. So many of the details and images I describe come from my own memories.

There were a few key books that helped me understand life on the noble country estate during the Imperial era: Life on the Country Estate by Priscilla Roosevelt (Yale University, 1995), Village Life in Late Tsarist Russia by Olga Semyonova Tian-Shanskaia (Indiana University Press, 1993), and Observations on Borzoi by Joseph B. Thomas (Houghton Mifflin, 1912).

The biggest roadblock (don’t laugh!) I had was determining what kind of business the fictional Count Vorontsov owned. I didn’t want his money to come from the Tsar or some typical Russian business in caviar, fur, or vodka.

I kept telling myself, “It will come to me.”

Almost two years passed and I wasn’t any closer to finding an answer until I ordered a 1914 National Geographic magazine that featured Russia from cover to cover. In it, I read about the world-renowned Russian bell foundry industry and that’s when it clicked. My Count would own several bell foundries!

I also utilized the sound of the bells to evoke an often difficult to capture fifth sense, as well as to increase tension and show emotion.

As someone with an MFA in Writing for Children (and Young Adults), how did your education help you advance in your craft? What advice do you have for other MFA students/graduates in making the transition between school and publishing as a business?

The best thing I ever did to develop my craft was to get an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. In fact, I’d love to go back to the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) to do another round! I’ve no doubt I could improve my craft. There’s always room for growth. Even if you’re published!

Before I started VCFA, I asked a dozen writing teachers about the function of prologues. I never got a satisfactory answer, yet didn’t consider looking into it myself more deeply. Part of me didn’t think I could and another part of me wanted a quick and easy answer.

When I did my critical thesis on the function of prologues in YA fiction, I was amazed that with a little thought I came up with some good stuff that I used to anchor the opening in my debut novel, Lara’s Gift.

I had struggled with where to start my story until I realized what it needed was a prologue. A bolshoe thanks to Mal Peet for using one in Tamar! His prologue taught me how to use one in Lara’s Gift.

The best advice I can give students/graduates transitioning between school and publishing:

1) trust your gift;

2) give yourself goals/deadlines; and

3) never give up hope.

Don’t let one, two, or even dozens of rejections cripple you. Take what advice you’re given (or not given) and learn from it.

Don’t take the rejection personally and always move forward.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Guest Post: Kelly Bennett on That Last Revision: Ruthless Bites

By Kelly Bennett
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

I never—even in my most vivid nightmares—imagined I’d write anything “vampire,” let alone a picture book!

Truth is, if anyone is to blame for it, it’s you, Cynthia. You inspired me to try it.

Which makes it especially grand to be celebrating my new picture book, Vampire Baby, illustrated by Paul Meisel (Candlewick, 2013), with you!

When you think about it, writing is a vampirical pursuit. Ask a certain brilliant, sweet-faced author’s advice on how to improve your writing she might well suggest—in dulcet tones, of course—that you “open a vein,” “bleed on the page,” “kill your darlings.”

So, in keeping with the whole bloody business, I’m seizing this opportunity to share a painful but effective final revision suggestion: After you hit SAVE, but before you push SEND, take Ruthless Bites!

That’s the advice the late Tony Hillerman, author of 29 books, including the award-winning Shape Shifter series featuring Navajo Tribal police Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, gave me at an OWFI conference about 15 years ago. He credited taking Ruthless Bites with elevating him from mid-list author (“B List” he called it) to best-selling author.

What’s a Ruthless Bite?
  • Cut one word from each sentence.
  • Cut one sentence from each paragraph.
  • Cut one paragraph from each page.

If you think it will be tough to bite into your 50,000 word novel manuscript this way, imagine applying Hillerman’s “Ruthless Bites” polishing method to a 700 word picture book manuscript!

In Vampire Baby, Ruthless Bites changed this:

Mom laughed at my Vampire Identification List.

Proof that Tootie really is a Vampire Baby!

Sharp fangs

Loves to bite (Note teeth marks)

Vampire Hair

Loves to chew

Favorite color is red (Think BLOOD)

Nocturnal (sleeps during the day and is awake at night)

Best Vampire Protection – Garlic!!! Vampires hate Garlic!
To this:

That’s correct, I deleted the “Identification List.” Upon review of the story, I realized I didn’t need it as every item listed was used elsewhere in the text.

Ruthless Bites changed this:

“YOUCH OUCH, TOOTIE. LET GO TOOTIE please, pretty please... No Bite!”

To this:

Deleting a word here, a sentence there, resulted in a snappy, repeatable refrain.

Aside from killing a few darling, and stinging at first, what will this bloodletting do?
  • Tighten your writing. 
  • Hone your word choice. 
  • Speed up the pace.

Go ahead, try it: Pull out your polished manuscripts, curl back your lips and take Ruthless Bites.

I dare you!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

New Voice: Charlotte Gunnufson on Halloween Hustle

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Charlotte Gunnufson is the first-time author of Halloween Hustle, illustrated by Kevan J. Atteberry (Two Lions, 2013). From the promotional copy:

In the dark, a funky beat. Something white with bony feet. Skeleton dancing up the street, doing the Halloween Hustle. 

Skeleton is dancing his way to a Halloween party—but as he grooves across town, he keeps stumbling, tumbling, and falling apart! 

Can Skeleton stay in one piece long enough to make it to the party?

Looking back, are you surprised to debut in 2013, or did that seem inevitable? How long was your journey, what were the significant events, and how did you keep the faith?

Surprised to debut in 2013? Thrilled!

Did it seem inevitable? No. Still, part of me believed it would happen, that it had to happen, because once I started writing again, I knew I couldn’t give it up. I re-began writing in 2007, just before my 41st birthday.

I’d been published before. A poem about a duck. In an Archie’s comic book. Way back in elementary school. I wrote through my teens and into my mid-twenties. Then, I stopped writing for fifteen years for good reasons and poor excuses.

I stayed up late one night watching "The Pursuit of Happyness," the story of a homeless father who struggles to find security for himself and his son. When I turned off the TV, I thought, “I have been such a whiner.” The next day, I re-began writing.

I sent out my first story in the spring of 2008, thinking, “I’m almost there!”

When that story, along with several others, didn’t get plucked from the slush pile, I decided to establish myself writing poems for children’s magazines. Easy peasy. Almost there.

That fall, having failed to sell a single line, I had an idea: I’d submit a craft project accompanied by a poem. Among the Halloween decorations, lay a skeleton Isaac had made in second grade. The dancing skeleton poem grew too long to be a poem.

I couldn’t decide what to cut. I wrote a story instead.

 In 2009, February 16th according to my “Submissions Record” spreadsheet, I sent Halloween Hustle to several publishers. A familiar thing happened.

Yep. Nothing.

But my first poem was accepted for publication in early 2009. Whew! Almost there.

In March, 2010, more than a year after I’d submitted the manuscript for Halloween Hustle, an editor from Marshall Cavendish sent the manuscript back. With whole pages crossed out. With lots of notes. With a letter saying it had potential for their list.

Yes! Really almost there!

I revised and re-revised and on April 23rd, two-and-a-half years after I’d re-begun, Marshall Cavendish acquired Halloween Hustle. Initially, the editor thought it would be published in the fall of 2012, but because of the illustrator’s busy schedule, the date was pushed to 2013.

Basically, now. Am I there, yet?

Six years have passed since I re-began writing. Many things have happened. Some things haven’t. I’ve written a few hundred poems and short pieces and sold just over thirty of them. I’ve been lucky enough to have my work appear in Highlights, Highlights High Five and Hello, Cricket, Ladybug, Jack & Jill, Humpty Dumpty, and Turtle magazines.

Marshall Cavendish was acquired by Amazon. I still have my wonderful editor. Illustrator Kevan Atteberry has generously shared his work with me to help promote the book. We’re Facebook friends. I’ve written dozens of stories. I haven’t sold another manuscript.

How did I keep the faith? How do I keep the faith? My critique group, SCBWI, magazine pieces, plodding perseverance, and hope.

In Halloween Hustle, Skeleton falls down and falls apart, but…

Skeleton doesn’t groan or whine.

Binds bones together with tape and twine.

Bounces up, feeling fine…

Skeleton dances like he’s never going to fall down or fall apart again. That’s not foolishness. That’s the sort of faith writers have to have.

I’ve said "The Pursuit of Happyness" inspired me to re-begin writing. It also keeps me going. The movies final message: life is not about achieving happiness but pursuing it.

The joy truly is in the journey. A while back, I was listening to NPR and a guest cited a study which found we are happiest not when we’re so far from our goal that it seems unreachable and not, surprisingly enough, when we reach that goal. We are happiest when we are almost there.

How have you approached the task of promoting your debut book? What online or real-space efforts are you making? Where did you get your ideas? To whom did you turn for support? Are you enjoying the process, or does it feel like a chore? What advice do you have on this front for your fellow debut authors and for those in the years to come?

How am I promoting Halloween Hustle?

Leaping in and learning as I go! With as much time and energy as can possibly be spared from family, friends, sleep, and, yes, writing.

Here’s why: When Halloween Hustle was acquired in 2010, after two-and-a-half years of struggle, I thought I’d strolled onto Easy Street on my way to Piece of Cake Café.

Nope. Despite a few maybe-um-nos to some other stories, I haven’t sold another manuscript.

I’m determined to think of this as a blessing in disguise. If I had another book waiting in the wings, I don’t think I’d be as dedicated to the success of this book. Halloween Hustle is an only child. I’m the helicopter parent.

My macro-strategy: Tap into what makes the book unique and then promote it in way that’s unique but still feels natural. My micro-strategy: Create a big buzz with lots of little bees. Preferably—pun alert!—free bees. (Any advice I can offer is sprinkled throughout and aptly humbled by parentheses.)

Online efforts: I’ve set up accounts and author profiles on Amazon Author Central, GoodReads, Shelfari, Library Thing, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and SCBWI (not exactly free, but worth every penny).

I’ve researched kid-lit blogs where my book might be reviewed. (Start now! There are oodles of terrific blogs and you can accidently learn a lot from them.)

I created a list of blogs (many blogs list other blogs!), read every review policy (do this!), and researched how to query bloggers.

Then, as professionally, politely, and enthusiastically as possible, I asked bloggers if they’d be open to receiving a copy of my book for review. (One of my biggest I-must-be-on-Easy-Street mistakes: Assuming that bloggers would be delighted to review my book. After all, it’s free! Reality check: Bloggers are busy. They are inundated with requests. Read this perfect primer.)

I hired a designer for my website. But before this, I examined scads of author websites, asking myself, what works? What doesn’t? What do kids, parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, etc., want in an author website?

I read expert opinions. (Start now!)

I “met” my designer, Taylor Ridling, on LinkedIn. I looked at her work, sent a comprehensive plan, and signed a contract. (Develop a vision for your website. Get a contract with a completion date.)

I wrote the trailer “script” and song “lyrics.” Then, I hired the ridiculously talented Alisabeth Von Presley to create the book trailer and dance video. Dance video? That’s what I mean by “unique but still feels natural.”

Real space efforts: I’m launching the book with a Halloween Hustle Dance Party! Halloween décor, music, costumed dancers and helpers, crafts, coloring pages from illustrator Kevan Atteberry, word puzzles, a chance to chalk the walk, complimentary bookmarks, and actual dancing!

Attendees are invited to do the “Halloween Hustle” and favorites like “Monster Mash” and “Purple People Eater.” I’m adapting the event for various venues.

Am I enjoying the process or does it seem like a chore?

On "Dancing with the Stars," contestants say they knew being on the show would be hard but it’s so much harder than they ever dreamed—and so much more fulfilling.

That’s how promoting a book is. Exhilarating. Exhausting. I feel confident and clueless by turns. It’s a bit like being a (helicopter) parent.

(Figure out what makes your story unique and run with it! Think big! Study hard! Start early! Ask your critique group for ideas and support. If you can’t pay them back, then pay it forward.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Guest Post: Mitali Perkins on Diversity, Power & Good Humor

By Mitali Perkins
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Excerpted from the introduction to Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, edited by Mitali Perkins (Candlewick, 2013).

Humor has the power to break down barriers and draw us together across borders. Once you’ve shared a laugh with someone, it’s almost impossible to see them as “other.”

Poking fun at my own marginalized life also sets readers free to see the funny in their own lives, a key to surviving the stressful experience of becoming an adult.

I do have some ground rules, however, for what I consider good humor, especially in a tension filled arena like race.

Here they are, take them or leave them:

1. Good humor pokes fun at the powerful—not the weak. Using a gift of wit to pummel someone less gifted physically, socially, emotionally, or intellectually may win a few initial laughs. Soon, though, audiences sense the power flexing of a bully behind the humor, and they’ll stop listening.

The most powerful person of all, of course, is the storyteller (see rule #3), so no holds barred when it comes to humbling that target.

2. Good humor builds affection for the “other.” At the close of a story, poem, or joke about race or ethnicity, do we feel closer to people who are the subject of the humor? If not, even if the piece is hilarious, it’s not good funny.

Sometimes comedians use wit to alienate the “other” from us instead of drawing us closer to one another. Again, they may get a few laughs, but they’re cheap laughs. Of course, I don’t like any humor where someone gets hurt—I rooted for Wily Coyote, winced at the Marx brothers’ physical (painful) humor, and stand stony-faced while my sons guffaw over videos of people falling and crashing into things.

So take rule #2 with a caveat: if watching someone take a hit or a blow makes you like them better, you might appreciate some humor that I don’t. And that’s okay.

3. Good humor is usually self-deprecatory (note: not self-defecatory, although it can feel like that). While I usually don’t like edicts about who can write about whom, in a post-9/11 North America where segregation, slavery, and even genocide aren’t too far back in history, funny “multicultural” stories work best when the author shares the protagonist’s race or culture.

Funny is powerful, and that’s why in this case maybe it does matter who tells a story. Writing that explores issues of race and ethnicity with a touch of humor might need to stay closer to memoir than other kinds of fiction on the spectrum of storytelling.

Some writers and comedians have succeeded in poking fun across borders, but it’s challenging for most “outsiders” to tell jokes about “insiders” in today’s mine-filled conversations about race.

Go ahead if you want to try, I tell them, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. And as for who gets to be an “insider”—well, that’s a whole other discussion where I hope to listen and learn.

Okay, enough with the rules. In Open Mic, we tried to provide lighthearted storytelling about the between-cultures life. I’m thrilled about the authors who contributed to this anthology.

Some pieces, like Cherry Cheva’s “Talent Show,” Debbie Giraud’s “Foreign Exchange,” and David Yoo’s “Becoming Henry Lee,” make us chuckle; others, like Greg Neri’s “Berlin,” Francisco Stork’s “Brother Love,” my “Three Pointer,” and Varian Johnson’s “Like Me” may bring a rueful, ouch-filled smile.

Gene Yuen Yang’s “Why I Won’t Be Watching The Last Airbender Movie,” Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich’s “Confessions of a Black Geek” and Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Lexicon” make us feel like we’re exchanging a knowing glance of shared humor with the storyteller or poet—much like viewers feel when cast members on popular sit-coms catch the camera’s eye for a moment.

All in all, it’s a start. As the conversations continue, and laughter fills the room, we’re hoping that others will step up to the mic. Share your “between-cultures” funny story on our facebook page.

Cynsational Notes

Mitali recommends Craig Ferguson's monologue about Britney Spears with regard to using humor about the powerless.

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