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Viewing Blog: spookycyn, Most Recent at Top
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Cynthia Leitich Smith's "casual" blog. The blog is quirky, thoughtful, joyous, fangs-friendly musings on gothic fantasy, horror, comedy, mystery, romance, suspense, and all things life and book from an author who finds her heroes in the sunshine and in the shadows.
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1. Spookycyn is an Inactive Blog

Thanks for surfing by! I'm sorry, but Spookycyn is no longer an active blog.

However, I'm letting it remain here for those who might want to peek at the pre-existing posts.

For news of children's and YA literature, visit Cynsations!

To learn more about my spooky books, check out Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, and Tantalize: Kieren's Story.

And for more reading suggestions, check out Gothic Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal Romance, and Urban Fantasy for Tweens and Teens.

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2. YALSA's Teens Top Ten Nominees, Including Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith

I'm honored to report that my new novel Blessed (Candlewick, 2011) is among the 25 titles nominated for YALSA's Teens' Top Ten! See annotated list (PDF).

From YALSA: "Teens' Top Ten is a 'teen choice' list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year!

"Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year.

"Readers ages twelve to eighteen will vote online between Aug. 22 and Sept. 16; the winners will be announced during Teen Read Week."

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3. Spooky News & The Owl Keeper Giveaway

Children's Choice Book Awards Announced (PDF) from The Children’s Book Council (CBC) in association with Every Child A Reader, and the CBC Foundation. Rick Riordan was named author of the year, and David Wiesner was named illustrator of the year. See the complete list of winners.

An Address and a Map Discovering Your Genius as a Writer by Tim Wynne-Jones from The Writers' League of Texas. Peek: "...I’m talking about the genius that each of us possesses to some degree: a natural ability or capacity or quality of mind; the special endowments which fit each of us for our work."

The Interminable Agency Clause by Victoria Strauss from Writer Beware. Peek: "...language inserted into an author-agency agreement whereby the agency claims the right to remain the agent of record not just for the duration of any contracts it negotiates, but for the life of copyright." See also On Agency Agreements by Jennifer Laughran from Jennifer Represents...

Book Talking and Preparing for Focus Meeting by Little, Brown editor Alvina Ling from Blue Rose Girls. Peek: "....because I only have between 1 and 2 minutes to present each title, the presentation needs to be really tight. I want to touch on the summary of the book...."

Twitter Tutorial: The Long Version by Lynne Kelly from Will Write for Cake. Peek: "It's not okay to pitch your novel or query an agent or editor via Twitter, but following them is a great way to find out what's going on in the publishing industry and with their own work...."

Castellucci Joins 'Los Angeles Review of Books' as YA and Children's Editor by Wendy Werris from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "'So few venues review YA and teen books regularly, and even then it’s usually bestsellers and known authors, so this is an opportunity to assign reviews to the quieter books and older titles,' Castellucci says."

From Publishers Marketplace: "Nikki Loftin

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4. Guest Post: Christopher Golden on Shared Vision: Writing with a Co-author & The Secret Journeys of Jack London

By Christopher Golden

One of the many curious things about being a writer—especially a novelist—is the number of people you encounter who believe they could do your job, that the only thing that separates you from them is that you bothered to sit down and write a book, and though they’ve got that bestseller in them, they just haven’t made the time for it yet.

That’s not everyone, of course. Some people look at writers as if we’re strange objects behind glass in some museum display that ought to have a plaque to explain our purpose.

This isn’t a complaint, mind you. Both reactions are fascinating and sometimes amusing.

But I’ll tell you something that’s even more fascinating to me. When it comes to collaborations—two authors writing a novel together—even the just-haven’t-had-time-to-write-my-bestseller crowd seems to get that curious look on their faces, that what’s-that-odd-animal expression that comes over people who encounter the giant South American rodent at the zoo for the first time, the thing that looks like it should only exist in The Princess Bride. Due, presumably, to the fact that I regularly collaborate with other authors, I get that look—and that question—a lot.

“How does that work?” “How do authors write a book together?”

People really do seem mystified by the idea that two people can create one voice. Actors create a scene together, musicians perform a song together and write music together…but you don’t often seen painters working on the same canvas.

Perhaps that’s where people draw the line. Maybe, even subconsciously, a novel is perceived as a solitary work, much like a painting. And I suspect for a lot of writers, that is absolutely true. I suppose many—even most—writers have difficulty imagining creating a piece of fiction that is a shared vision, but it’s simply never been a problem, or even a question, for me.

Writing, I am fond of saying, is a solitary occupation, and I am not a solitary person. In the nineteen years since I quit my job (at the tender age of 25) and became a full-time writer, I have collaborated with more than half a dozen different writers, and those experiences share certain fundamental qualities. In each case, my collaborators were my friends first, and they were all writers whose work I respected and admired.

More often than not, such collaborations don’t arise from a conversation that even vaguely resembles what you might imagine. They don’t start with, “hey, we should write something together sometime.”

Nearly always, they begin with conversations about mutual interests, or drinks and dinner, or a stupid joke on an elevator…something that leads to an idea being born, sometimes in jest, and then a moment when you look at each other, both thinking, hey, that’s not a bad idea. We could really make something out of that. And if it’s something both authors are enthusiastic enough about, then you do it.

I

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5. Book-spine Poem

Check out this book-spine poem by Christy Cochran, an Austin Independent School District librarian. Copyright 2011, reproduced with permission.

It reads:

Cosmic
Notes from the midnight driver
On the run
Magic steps
One false note
Dark fire
Eternal


Isn't that cool? Thanks, Christy! Support Texas librarians.

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6. In a Similar Vein: Vampire Books





In a Similar Vein: Vampire Books by Heather Brewer from The Guardian. Peek: "Heather Brewer, author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd, explains the allure of writing about vampires and suggests some of her favourites."

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7. Guest Post: Christine Brodien-Jones on Writing Scary But Not Too Scary for ‘Tweens

“If you look up before you get the light on, It will be there.
"The Thing. The terrible Thing waiting at the top of the stairs.”
--Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity (1990)

By Christine Brodien-Jones

Shortly after Cynthia invited me to write a guest post, I was cleaning out a filing cabinet and ran across my old stories from elementary school. They confirmed what I already knew: I’ve always loved writing tales that terrify and scare.

I grew up reading myths, fairy tales and fantasy. I was a fan of horror movies. Not surprisingly, these influences—vampires, mummies, ghosts, monsters—followed me into adulthood. They began turning up in my fiction.

When writing fantasy for young readers, I find myself revisiting those old frights. Evoking the altered insects in sci-fi films like “Them!” (1954)(ants mutating into man-eating monsters), I created the Usk Beetles in The Dreamkeepers (Macmillan, 1992) and giant scorpions in The Scorpions of Zahir (Delacorte, 2012).

If I think about readers of my books, I imagine Megan, eleven years, sitting under a tree reading her favorite novel, The Magician by Michael Scott (Random House, 2008).

Megan has a child’s sense of wonder and a teen’s rebellious yearnings—and she adores old-fashioned adventures with heroines who save the world. At eleven, she’s at that magical in-between age of the ‘tween, a marketing concept that wasn’t around a generation ago. Maybe what draws her to fantasy is a wish to be brave: by confronting imaginary monsters she slays her own demons.

But Megan, dreamily turning the pages, isn’t concerned about conquering her fears. Her head is filled with incantations, leygates and immortal elixirs. She’s on Chapter Three, lost inside her own adventure, waiting for the magic to take her down a road she’s never traveled, to strange and wondrous lands.

And she doesn’t mind getting a little scared along the way.

I grew up in a house where the stairs creaked at night and I knew someone—or something—was making its way up. I still shudder at the memory. If you write what scares you, it may just happen—what my husband calls a ‘goosebump’ moment, what some British fuddy-duddies call ‘getting the collywobbles’: that delicious instant when the hairs prickle on your neck, your stomach goes hollow and you feel a catch in your throat.

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8. Cynthia Leitich Smith Signs Three-Book Deal with Candlewick Press

From today's issue of Publishers Marketplace:

"New York Times bestselling author of Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed Cynthia Leitich Smith's YA novel Smolder, to Deborah Wayshak at Candlewick Press, in a three-book deal, for publication in 2013, by Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown Ltd. (world English)."

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9. Spooky News & Giveaways

Enter to win Blessed (Candlewick, 2011), an ARC of Tantalize: Kieren's Story, and more from Jen Bigheart at I Read Banned Books. U.S. only; ages 13-up. Deadline: midnight CST, April 25.

Check out the Blessed Readers' Guide.

Check out the previous books in the series, Tantalize and Eternal.

Shop the Sanguini's Store at Cafe Press; images designed by Gene Brenek.

More News & Giveaways

Interview with R.L. La Fevers by Jen Wrote This from The Enchanted Inkpot. Peek: "I approach the merging of history and fiction with the idea that my first job is to tell a great story; the history must serve the story, not the other way around."

Debut Novel Expectations by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: "Middle grade novels in particular, rarely come out of the gate with the same big splash potential that YA novels can engender."

New Agent Alert: Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson Associates from Chuck Sambuchino at Guide to Literary Agents. Seeking: "literary fiction, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, thrillers, mysteries, YA, and middle grade."

The Whole Novel Retreat, presented by the 9th Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop, will take place Oct. 7 to Oct. 9 in Santa Cruz, California. Faculty include agent Joan Slattery of Pippin Properties and Susan Van Metre, senior VP and publisher at Abrams/Amulet and an MFA instructor in Writing for Children at The New School in New York.

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10. Spooky News

Interview with Holly Black by Malinda Lo from Diversity in YA Fiction. Peek: "...I think the tricky thing about fantasy is that issues in the magical world should ideally both remind us of issues in our world, but not parallel one thing so closely that it appears to be merely that thing in disguise."

Twelve Tips for Twitterphobes by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: "Today’s post is for those of you out there who haven’t yet tried Twitter or who have given up on it or who are just plain flummoxed by it."

Skype Authors: Partnering with schools and book clubs through virtual visits to support education worldwide. Suzanne Williams writes: "The authors on the site have pledged to contribute 25% of their fees for any Skype visits booked through the site to a charity that supports education in the developing world. For 2011-2012, that charity is Camfed, and they will be raising money to provide school supplies to elementary students in Malawi. I'm still adding authors to the site and hope to have a group of 20 - 25 participating authors within the next month or two."

What If Your Characters Don't Want Anything? by Charlie Jane Anders from io9. Peek: "If the plot happens in spite of your characters' desires, that makes those desires more important." Source: Gwenda Bond at Shaken & Stirred.

Agents mull change to AAA code of practice by Charlotte Williams and Benedicte Page from TheBookseller.com. Peek: "Literary agents are privately ­discussing removing a clause ­preventing them from acting as publishers in the UK Association of Authors' Agents constitution." Source: Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent.

As Nike Says: "Just Do It" by Erin Vincent from Crowe's Nest. Peek: "...I understand that you are busy with a million other obligations. But if you want to write – if you want to be published – you have to start. Right now. Don’t put it off any longer, because trust me, it will never be the right time."

Congratulations to Rubin Pfeffer of East West Literary for signing Kari Baumbach, and congratulations to Kari for signing with Rubin! Note: link to Rubin includes a subst

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11. Spooky News

Folktales and Fairy Tales--for Teens by Chris Eboch from The Spectacle. Peek: "To update a traditional folk or fairytale, she (Natalie M. Rosinsky) suggests setting the story in a new location. You might also change the point of view, for example telling a princess story from the prince’s viewpoint. Humor is another bonus."

7 Rs of Positivity for the Unpublished Novelist by Lydia Sharp from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Writing fiction is emotionally taxing work. When you’re feeling especially low, remove yourself from everything." Source: An Englishman in New Jersey.

Vermont College of Fine Arts invites published authors with teaching experience to apply for part-time visiting faculty positions in its highly-acclaimed MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program. The College seeks a number of prospective faculty members who can be hired in the coming years to meet expected growth. Faculty positions require presence, readings, lectures, and leading workshops on campus for 11-day residencies every six months. Faculty oversee independent study work for the six months between residencies, thus allowing educational work to be interwoven with the activities of home, community, and personal artistic practice. Applications will be reviewed on criteria including publications, teaching experience, literary nominations and awards, and education. An advanced degree is preferred but not required.

5 Tips for a Successful Reading by Marianna Swallow from Chuck Sambuchino at Guide to Literary Agents. Peek: "When presenting, reading from plain paper is easier than reading from a book. And when you do, speak from your gut." Note: with books for young readers (versus adults), I'd say a two-to-three minute reading is long enough--maybe five, if you're theater trained. You can go longer, presenting with illustrations, but it's okay to edit down even a picture book text for length.

Check out the new giveaways at TeensReadToo!

Q&A with Author Carrie Ryan by Cyndi Hughes from the Writers' League of Texas. Peek: "When I first started writing with the goal of making a career out of it I gave myself ten years in which I’d write, revise and submit and then move on to the next project. After ten years, if I still wasn’t published then I could re-evaluate my plan." See also An Original Carrie Ryan Short Story Available as an E-book from Random House via The Compulsive Reader.

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12. Spooky News & Giveaways

Attention Writers! Send a photo of yourself with a dinosaur (a museum skeleton, recreation, gas-station logo, made from Legos, whatever) to Greg Leitich Smith for inclusion in his upcoming blog series, Writers and Dinosaurs. You don't have to be published to participate! See link for details. See also Greg on The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.

Spooky Blogger Tip: Respect authors' copyright. Keep quotes to under 5o words or ask permission to post a longer excerpt.

Reminder: Teen writers/English teachers! Teen writers are encouraged to enter the Hunger Mountain Young Writers Contest. Three first place winners will receive $250 and publication! Three runners-up will receive $100 each. Note: I'm honored to be this year's judge. See link for more information. Hunger Mountain is the Vermont College of Fine Arts journal of the arts.

Creative Confidence by Mary Kole from Kidlit.com. Peek: "You are the only person on this planet who is going to care the most about your creative output and your career. Sure, you will get people in your corner, like your agent, your editor, your mentors, your friends and family, you cat, and your fans, who will care about your books or whatever else you do, but nobody will care about it half as much as you."

Making the Most of Writer's Conference Critiques by Jennifer Ziegler from Chasing Tales. Includes insights from agent Erin Murphy, editor Stephanie Elliott (formerly with Random House/Delacorte Press, now with Sparknotes), former Austin SCBWI regional advisor Meredith Davis, author Dorothy Love, and Writers' League of Texas executive director Cyndi Hughes. Peek from Erin: "It’s perfectly fine to talk it out with the critiquer to solidify your ideas, or to ask if you can have a moment to make a clear note to yourself so you don’t lose the train of thought and can go on to make use of all the time in your session."

Interview with Translator Laura Watkinson by Sarah Blake Johnson from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "...if a foreign-language publisher is trying to sell something like a YA novel, it makes little financial sense for them to have the whole book transla

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13. Spooky News & Throat Giveaway

Enter to win a signed copy of Throat by R.A. Nelson (Knopf, 2011). From the promotional copy:

She's superhuman. There's just one catch.

Seventeen-year-old Emma Cooper has always been a risk taker at heart, smart and adventurous. But ever since her first grand mal seizure at the age of 13, her epilepsy has felt like a curse, wrecking her social life, derailing her dreams, even driving her boyfriend away.

Her doctors think they know best. Her mom worries her to distraction.


Tired of being held back, Emma fantasizes about running away, but she can't even legally drive. At least she can channel her frustrations into soccer, where she’s a star — the most aggressive player in the league — until a violent collision ends her playing days.

Heartbroken, Emma steals a car and races into the night, no idea where she is going. Losing control on a steep mountain road, she crashes into a ditch beside a sinister forest. An old cabin beckons through the trees. Emma goes to look for help — and her life is changed forever.


R. A. Nelson takes us on a supernatural thrill ride, a modern-day vampire story set on a NASA base and filled with romance and space-and-science intrigue.


To enter the giveaway, comment here or email me (scroll and click envelope) and type "Throat" in the subject line.

Deadline: midnight CST April 1. Note: Author sponsored; U.S. entries only.

More News

Q & A with Agent Elena Mechlin of Pippin Properties from the Writers' League of Texas. Peek: "I’ve been supremely lucky to be working directly with the incredible list of clients that Holly McGhee has amassed over the years, but in terms of my very own client, I haven’t signed anybody yet, but getting close with a couple of prospects!"

Written in Stone: Editing OP Books for Reissue in E-books by Laura Ruby from e is for book. Peek: "There is one secondary ghost character...that died at his/her own hand. At the time I wrote the book, I felt it suited the story. But after looking at it again, I wondered about it."

The Associates of the Boston Public Library is currently accepting applications from emerging picture book writers/illustrators for the 2011-2012 Writer-in-Residence Program. The fellowship provides a children’s writer/ illustrator with the support needed to complete one literary work, including a $20,000 stipend and office space for nine-months within the Boston Public Library’s Central Branch. Applications are due April 1.

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14. Spooky News & Giveaways

Enter to Win an ARC of The Coven's Daughter by Lucy Jago (Hyperion, April 19, 2011) from P.J. Hoover at Roots In Myth. P.J. is also giving away five finished copies of Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy) by Lauren DeStefano (Simon & Schuster, March 22, 2011) and three vampire/werewolf-mythology themed books.

YA Deals by Genre & Six-Figure Deals by Genre March 2010 to March 2010 from Kate Hart. Peek: "Hang out with YA authors for awhile, and you'll probably hear us bemoaning the death of contemporary novels. But don't despair. I counted up all the YA deals from the past twelve months and was surprised to find that contemporary is alive and well." Note: includes nifty, color-coded pie charts.

More Personally

Tantalize Series Clarification: a few folks have posted that Blessed is the last novel in the series. It's not. It does conclude Quincie's major arc, but Zachary, Miranda and Kieren's are ongoing and will pick up in book 4, which I'm writing now. (Quincie will appear in that novel, too, but as a more secondary character.) Thanks!

Links of the Week: The Dark Place by Heather Brewer.

Spooky Events

12th Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 19 in Fort Myers, Florida. Note: speakers include Cynthia Leitich Smith.

YA A to Z Conference, sponsored by the Writers' League of Texas, will be April 15 and April 16 at the Hyatt Regency Austin (208 Barton Springs Road). Cost: $279 WLT Members, $349 Nonmembers (through March 15). See more information. Note: conference faculty includes Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith.

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15. New Voice: Chelsea M. Campbell on The Rise of Renegade X

Chelsea M. Campbell is the first time author of The Rise of Renegade X (Egmont, 2010). From the promotional copy:

Damien Locke knows his destiny–attending the university for supervillains and becoming Golden City’s next professional evil genius. But when Damien discovers he’s the product of his supervillain mother’s one-night stand with–of all people–a superhero, his best-laid plans are ruined as he’s forced to live with his superhero family.

Going to extreme lengths (and heights), The Rise of Renegade X chronicles one boy’s struggles with the villainous and heroic pitfalls of growing up.


What was the one craft resource book that helped you most during your apprenticeship? Why? How would you book-talk it to another beginning writer in need of help?

The book that really helped me and that significantly helped me on my publication journey (in fact, I don't know if I'd be published if it wasn't for what I learned in this book) is Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel (Writer's Digest, 2002) and Writing The Breakout Novel Workbook (Writer's Digest, 2004)).

I'm not big on books about writing, especially since most of them are written by people I've never heard of who just love writing how-to books. I think it's fair to say that most writing how-to books piss me off.

Writing the Breakout Novel, however, is awesome. It's about challenging yourself to improve your writing and take it to the next level. It doesn't tell you how to write, but instead asks you questions to help you improve your story, like, "What's the worst thing that could happen to your main character? When would be the worst time for that to happen?" Things like that.

It's all about sharpening the conflict in your novel and upping the stakes, both physically and emotionally, and it's hard not to get excited about working on a story while reading this book.

Another thing I love about it is that it's useful at any level. A lot of writing books are only focused on beginners, and there's not a lot aimed at the intermediate writer who knows the basics but can't quite get over the last couple hurdles keeping them from getting published.

Writing the Breakout Novel is great for anyone who wants to improve their storytelling, whether they've got a few novels under their belt but "aren't quite there yet" or have been published for years.

I know the quality of my books jumped up quite a bit after I read this and went through all the exercises in the workbook, and the info I've gotten from it has been invaluable.

As a comedic writer, how do you decide what's funny? What advice do you have for those interested in either writing comedies or books with a substantial amount of humor in them?

Comedy is toug

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16. Spooky News & NE Tour Report

In Memorium

Redwall Author Brian Jacques Dead at 71 from The Washington Post. Peek: "Jacques wrote the first book in his famous Redwall series for the children at the Royal School for the Blind in Liverpool, England. The book's hero was a timid mouse named Matthias who found the courage to protect his home, Redwall Abbey. " See also Extreme Sadness: Brian Jacques from Book Moot.

Margaret K. McElderry (1912-2011) from Locus Online. Peek: "Children’s editor and publisher Margaret K. McElderry, 98, died February 14, 2011. She is best known as founder of her eponymous children’s imprint, Margaret K. McElderry Books."

More News

E-Book Sales Rise in Children's and Young Adult Categories by Julie Bosman from The New York Times. Peek: "In 2010 young-adult e-books made up about 6 percent of the total digital sales for titles published by St. Martin’s Press, but so far in 2011, the number is up to 20 percent, a spokeswoman for the publisher said." Source: Varian Johnson.

At Tools of Change, Former ABC Director Kristen McLean to Discuss New Venture, Bookigee by Andrew Albanese from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Created with input from a 'team of innovators' in fields ranging from specialty design to retail, editorial, Silicon Valley tech, engineering, bookselling and book marketing, Bookigee has an admittedly ambitious goal—in essence, to begin reshaping a consumer process that has become entrenched over decades, but also somewhat inefficient."

The Do's, Don't's and "Stuff" of Writer Conferences by Donna Bowman Bratton from Writing Down the Kidlit Page. Peek: "When you find yourself in the room with revered editors, agents, and award-winning authors, there are certain rules of etiquette you should abide by."

Managing Information Overload by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: "I have no trouble producing pages, it’s the blocking out unnecessary ‘information’ that lurks everywhere, promising to inform and enlighten me to within an inch of my life."

Author Skype Tour Blog: "a place where authors, teachers, and librarians can connect to help readers discover great new titles and learn more about writing. There are already great Skype-

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17. Blessed In-Person Author Tour in NY, NJ, Philly Area

Please join me on a stop of the Blessed (Candlewick, 2011) tour!

Events that are open to the public are indicated as such on the schedule below!

Authors Daniel Nayeri, Jen Nadol, Sarah Beth Durst, and Shannon Delany will be joining me here and there along the way!

Sunday, 2/6/11

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Books of Wonder - reading/Q&A/signing to public with Another Pan author Daniel Nayeri (PUBLIC EVENT)

18 W. 18th St., New York, N.Y.

Monday, 2/7/11

10 a.m. to 11:34 a.m. Francis Lewis High School

6 p.m. Borders Bookstore - reading/signing (PUBLIC EVENT)

Borders Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle, New York, N.Y.

Tuesday, 2/8/11

4 p.m. to 5 p.m. New Brunswick Free Public Library - reading/Q&A/signing (PUBLIC EVENT)

6:20 p.m. to 9 p.m. Rutgers University -- guest lecture, "Materials for Young Adults" -- room 203

School of Communication and Information -- 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick, N.J.

Wednesday, 2/9/11

10 a.m. NYPL Mulberry Branch - visit with schools

10 Jersey Street (Between Lafayette & Mulberry Streets) New York, N.Y.

8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. New School Creative Writing Graduate Class - guest lecture

66 West 12th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues

Thursday, 2/10/11

11:15 a.m. to 12 p.m. Brooklyn Public Library - Professional Development Day

Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza

4:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Brooklyn Public Library - Will You Be My Paranormal Valentine Party (with teens)(PUBLIC EVENT)

Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza

Friday, 2/11/11

2:15 p.m. to 3 p.m. Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School Visit

Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin HS, LREI

272 Sixth Avenue, New York, N.Y.

7 p.m. The Voracious Reader - "Will Y

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18. Spooky Screening Room & Tantalize Series Update

Check out the book trailer for Cloaked by Alex Flinn (HarperCollins, 2011).



Check out this book trailer for Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by Dan Santat (Amulet, 2010).



In the following video, Brent Hartinger offers Seven Reasons You Should Read Shadow Walkers (Flux, 2011)(excerpt)(discussion guide):



"The Bookanistas are dancing because we’re so excited that Beth Revis hit the NY Times Bestseller List for Across the Universe (Razorbill, 2011)." - Shana Silver



More Personally

Snow is on the ground, the rolling brownouts are over (we lost power nine times), my work in progress is resting, and I'm packing to leave town.

So, Cynsations is going on hiatus as I take off for my N.E. U.S. Blessed Tour! Those of you in New York, New Jersey, Philly & surrounding areas, I hope to see you on the road Feb. 6 to Feb. 12. I'll resume posting on Feb. 14!

Blessed is now available from Walker Books Australia and New Zealand! See details!

Cat Calls (Candlewick, 2010), an e-book offering a short story set in the Tantalize series universe, is #15 of the Free Books on the Kindle bestseller list!

The winner of the Blessed Grand Prize Giveaway is Melissa in Washington! Congratulations! Thanks to everyone who entered. Cynsations giveaways will resume once I'm back in town.

Thanks again to everyone who attended or raised awareness of the Blessed and (Mari Mancusi) Night School Launch Party last weekend at

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19. Spooky News & Giveaways

Diversity in YA Fiction: founded by YA authors Cindy Pon (Silver Phoenix, Fury of the Phoenix) and Malinda Lo (Ash, Huntress), Diversity in YA seeks to bring attention to MG and YA books featuring people of color and LGBT characters. Peek: "We envision DIYA as a positive, friendly gathering of readers and writers who want to see diversity in their fiction. Every week on our website we'll be featuring books that include diversity, from realistic, contemporary novels to absorbing historicals and adventurous fantasy."


Cindy and Malinda will be on tour to at least four cities in 2011. Authors who'll join them along the way include:


See also Author Bios and Tour Locations pages. Join the mailing list for a final list of locations and more (no more than two emails per month).

More News & Giveaways

Inside the Write

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20. Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith Central Texas & Northeast U.S. Tour Schedule

Please join me on a stop of the Blessed (Candlewick, 2011) tour!

Events that are open to the public are indicated as such on the schedule below!

Also, note that YA authors Mari Mancusi and Daniel Nayeri will be joining me here and there along the way!

Saturday, 1/29/11

2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. BookPeople - launch party with Night School (Blood Coven) author Mari Mancusi (PUBLIC EVENT)

Wear red and black if you're on the side of Evil or blue and black if you're on the side of Good. Bonus points (prize entry) to anyone who dresses up as a vampire, shape shifter, vampire slayer, angel or faerie!

603 North Lamar, Austin, Texas

Sunday, 2/6/11

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. - Books of Wonder - reading/Q&A/signing to public with Another Pan author Daniel Nayeri (PUBLIC EVENT)

18 W. 18th St., New York, N.Y.

Monday, 2/7/11

10 a.m. to 11:34 a.m. Francis Lewis High School

6 p.m. Borders Bookstore - reading/signing (PUBLIC EVENT)

Borders Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle, New York, N.Y.

Tuesday, 2/8/11

4 p.m. to 5 p.m. New Brunswick Free Public Library - reading/Q&A/signing (PUBLIC EVENT)

6:20 p.m. to 9 p.m. Rutgers University -- guest lecture, "Materials for Young Adults" -- room 203

School of Communication and Information -- 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick, N.J.

Wednesday, 2/9/11

10 a.m. NYPL Mulberry Branch - visit with schools

10 Jersey Street (Between Lafayette & Mulberry Streets) New York, N.Y.

8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. New School Creative Writing Graduate Class - guest lecture

66 West 12th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues

Thursday, 2/10/11

11:15 a.m. to 12 p.m. Brooklyn Public Library - Professional Development Day

Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza

4:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Brooklyn Public Library - Will You Be My Paranormal Valentine Party (with teens)(PUBLIC EVENT)

Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza

Friday, 2/11/11

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21. The Teen {Book} Scene Blog Tour: Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Coordinated by Kari

Monday, January 17: Kristen at Bookworming in the 21st Century (Character Interview: Quincie)

Tuesday, January 18: Kelsey at The Book Scout
(Guest Post: Connecting Eternal and Tantalize to Blessed)

Wednesday, January 19: Sandy at Pirate Penguin Reads (Review)

Thursday,
January 20: Maria at The Serpentine Library (Character Interview: Kieren)

Friday,
January 21: Stacy at Girls in the Stacks (Review)

Monday, January 24: Lisa at Badass Bookie (Guest Post: Secondary Characters)

Tuesday,
January 25: Stacy at Girls in the Stacks (Character Interview: Zachary)

Wednesday,
January 26: Kristen at Bookworming in the 21st Century (Review)

Thursday,
January 27: Kari at A Good Addiction (Ten YA Recommendations)

Friday,
January 28: Sandy at Pirate Penguin Reads (Character Interview: Bradley)

Cynsational Notes

Tour includes Blessed ARC & prize pack (pictured) giveaways! Lots of chances to win!

Special thanks to Kari and all of the host bloggers! I greatly appreciate your time, efforts, and enthusiasm!

Learn more about The Teen {Book} Scene.

Don't miss the Blessed Live Author Tour Schedule (NY, NJ, Philly area, TX, etc.) and Grand Prize Giveaway from Cynsations.

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22. Spooky News, Night School Giveaway & Blessed Countdown

L.K. Madigan's Feast of Awesome Giveaway by Cindy Pon from the 2009 Debutantes. Peek: "How can we best express our love and support for Lisa during this time? Through the celebration of her books. only a fellow writer can know the angst and turmoil associated with creating stories--because we put so much of ourselves in them. Won't you help us in spreading L.K. Madigan Book Love?"

ALA Youth Media Awards: Which Publishers Are Celebrating? by Elizabeth Bluemle from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "I’ll start with a summary, and then post the full list below...."

The Agent’s Role in Today’s Digital Book World by Mary Kole, Literary Agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency from Digital Book World. Peek: "as publishers embrace different content delivery systems and processes, agents will take on more packaging responsibilities: editorial work, marketing consultation, design, etc. Whether we’re presenting a book to editors or an app proposal to a digital publisher, we will have had a more active hand in its reaching 'market ready' status."

How to Create a Podcast: Ready to Step Out of Your Blogging Comfort Zone? by Joanna Penn from The Creative Pen. Peek: "You can use BlogTalkRadio or other free hosted solutions but I don’t think the quality is very good and iTunes is a great stand-alone market so it’s worth having your own feed."

What's Going on With Borders? by Carolyn Kellogg from Jacket Copy from the L.A. Times. Peek: "Barnes & Noble, if buffeted by Amazon's success, has remained afloat; Borders has been taking on water." Note: a clear, succinct update on the status of the Borders chain.

Should I Mention My Blog in My Query? by Peek: "...if you have a huge blog on, say, mountain climbing, but your book has nothing to do with mountain climbing, you don’t have the built-in audience an agent or editor is looking for, and mentioning your blog will look like a non sequitur."

Authors on the Internet: Facing Up To Facebook by Tami Lewis Brown from Through the Tollbooth. Peek: "This week in the Tollbooth we’ll look at Facebook and authors. We’ll see who’s doing what, check out some innovative sites for readers and writers, and look out for pitfalls."

Celebrating Rejection by Danyelle from QueryTracker.net. Peek: "...why celebrate something that can be so painful? Something that we sometimes even come to believe

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23. Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith is Now Available

I'm thrilled to announce that Blessed is now available from Candlewick Press!

Check out the latest coverage:

Blessed: In Which I Interview Cynthia Leitich Smith by Joy Preble from Joy's Novel Idea. Peek: "I’ve created a vampire society with its own history, political structure, and system of laws as well as, say, architectural predispositions. The undead, for example, are big fans of the Arts and Crafts movement."

In Stores this Week (With Interviews and Giveaways) from Adventures in Children's Publishing. Peek: "I wrote the proposal for my editor in March 2008...at the Arizona Biltmore. The place opened in 1929. It's swanky, designed in the Craftsman tradition (think: Frank Lloyd Wright). Irving Berlin penned 'White Christmas' by the pool. Marilyn Monroe referred to that same pool as her favorite. ...I grabbed a chair around that pool, then, later, another around the fire pit, and brainstormed."

Read an excerpt of Blessed from Teenreads.com.

Look for the Blessed ads today in Publishers Weekly online and in the Baker & Taylor's CATS Meow: Library Newsletter for Children's and Teen Services for January 2011!

Latest Buzz

"Quincie is a capable, independent and appealing heroine who has matured considerably since her debut in 'Tantalize.' Smith plans one more book in the series; 'Blessed' raises expectations for a complex (and thrilling) conclusion."

In 'Blessed,' Neophyte Vampire Battles the Forces of the Undead
by Sharyn Vane from The Austin American-Statesman.

"I found this book intriguing and fun. The characters are well developed, and the plot is a definite attention keeper. This book is more for teens and up, and I'd rate it a 9.5 on a 10 scale."
Brianna, age 15, from Genrefluent's Bistro Book Club: Teens Talk About Books

"I give Blessed an overall rating of 5 stars [out of 5]. If you love this series, you will be floored at how good this book turned out."
24. Spooky News & Giveaways

Taming That To-Do List by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: "If you are a published writer, a lot of those To Dos probably pertain to the business side of things. But here’s the kicker: you get to decide precisely which business things those entail."

Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Queried by K.M. Walton from Some Things I Think. Peek: "I wish I didn't compare my query journey to other writers. Yes, I know it's human nature, but it's also extremely unhealthy and seriously gets in the way of success."

SCBWI Team Blog Pre-Conference Interview: Editors & Agents on Interacting with Them by Alice Pope from Alice Pope's SCBWI Blog. Insights from editors Krista Marino (Delacorte), Francesco Sedita (Penguin), and Kate Sullivan (Little, Brown); and agents Kerry Sparks (Levine/Greenberg) and Mary Kole (Andrea Brown). From Krista: "Aggressive, abrasive behavior will turn me away from even the most promising manuscript."

Querying the Cliche by Jane Lebak from Query Tracker. Peek: "Remember that a cliché is a shortcut. And when you use one to describe your own work, you're giving only a surface rendering of a story with depth. Work harder. Give it that depth."

Wernick & Pratt: new literary agency founded by Marcia Wernick and Linda Pratt, both formerly of the Sheldon Fogelman Agency. Source: SCBWI Brazos Valley via Publishers Weekly. Peek: "...represent established and emerging authors and illustrators, whose work ranges from fiction to non-fiction, from very young picture books and novelty books, through early readers, middle grade and young adult novels."

Every Author's Two Audiences by Janet Kobobel Grant from Books & Such. Peek: "Authors often don’t know when they should communicate with their publisher. They don’t want to be pests, but this reluctance to communicate can cause serious repercussions." Source: Kristi Holl from Writer's First Aid.

Harold at Highlights

Harold Underdown will be working with the Highlights Foundation this year in two different workshops. From March 10 to March 13, at the Highlights Founders Workshop site near Honesdale, Pennsylvania, he will introduce proven techniques for self-editing and for revising. The goal is not so much to revise a manuscript (though participants will) but to increase their ability to revise on their own or by working with other writers! Harold

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25. Event Report: Blessed & Night School Launch Party

Thanks so much to everyone who celebrated the release of my latest novel, Blessed (Tantalize series), and Mari Mancusi's latest novel, Night School (Blood Coven series), last Saturday at BookPeople in Austin. Thanks also to everyone who tweeted, blogged, facebooked, talked up, or otherwise made noise about the event!


It's vampire (me) versus slayer (Mari) as we leap into action, mugging for the cameras.


Vampire bartender Bethany Hegedus greets guests with a toothy smile. Note: Gene Brenek also helped with bartending/refreshment duties/set up.


The menu included cover art cake, raspberry lemon bars (courtesy of Amy Rose Capetta) as well as bat sugar cookies and heart sugar cookies (courtesy of Anne Bustard).


We offered "fairy blood," "synthetic blood," and "real blood" at the vampire bar! (Special thanks & kudos to Mandy at BookPeople--very creative!)

Here a closer look at the cover-cake, which Mari coordinated with H-E-B supermarket.

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