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1. KidLitCon 2013: Connecting with Kindred Spirits

KidlitCon2013I'm back after spending four days in Austin for KidLitCon. I lived in Austin for 3 1/2 years a while back, and I am always happy to have an excuse to visit. Of course I would go almost anywhere to attend KidLitCon, but it was a bonus that it was held somewhere that I wanted to visit anyway. An extra bonus was that I got to spend some time with close friends who live there. 

For me, and I've stolen this idea from Leila at Bookshelves of Doom, what sums up the KidLitCon, and the Kidlitosphere in general, is the phrase: "kindred spirits". I go to KidLitCon every year so that I can hang out with my children's book-loving tribe. Something that became clear during this year's conference is that what distinguishes the Kidlitosphere from other book blogger communities is that, much as we love the books, most of us are out there blogging, week after week, because we think that it's important to connect kids with great books. We share a common passion for children's books and literacy. 

What this means when we come together for a conference is that we're not having sessions about how to "monetize" our blogs, or retire from our day jobs, or get our hands on more sought-after ARCs. No, what we talk about is:

  • Community (welcome speech by Pam Coughlan from MotherReader)
  • Authenticity, and understanding your own mission and philosophy of blogging (keynote by Cynthia Leitich Smith). 
  • Overcoming burnout by getting back to your blogging roots (Sarah Stevenson and me).
  • Ways that you as a blogger/reviewer/author can work to increase diversity in children's publishing (Lee Wind).
  • Ways that you as an author can build relationships with people who may help you to spread the word about your books, rather than trying any "hard sell" tactics Molly Blaisdell). 
  • The difference between writing a negative review and writing critical reviews, and why critical reviews are important (and exhausting) (Kelly Jensen and Kim Francisco from Stacked)
  • Things authors and illustrators need to know about digital art (Laura Jennings).
  • How authors and illustrators can become involved in the online community of children's and young adult literature (MotherReader)
  • How to spice up your blog with HTML and CSS (Sheila Ruth).
  • Reviewing middle grade books when we, the reviewers, are not the target audience for said books (Charlotte Taylor, Melissa Fox, and Katy Manck). 
  • The past, present, and future of the Kidlitosphere, and how we can keep our community a welcoming, connected space (Sarah Stevenson, Jen Bigheart, Leila Roy, Sheila Ruth, and Lee Wind). 

Instead of taking notes during the sessions that I attended, I was live-tweeting the conference. While I could theoretically share all of those tweets with you here, I prefer to send you off to follow the #KidLitCon13 hashtag on Twitter. Just set the view to "all" instead of "top" and scroll down to November 9th, and read upward. You will find many useful tips, like: 

For more details about the sessions and events around KidLitCon, here are some excellent recaps:

  • Charlotte at Charlotte's Library says: "The main thing I learn every time I go to Kidlitcon is how much fun it can be to talk to people. Sure, I talk to my family and co-workers and friends in real life, but rarely do I talk to them with passionate interest about really interesting things like children's books and blogging and candy crush."
  • Kelly at Stacked says: "If I had to give three words that summed up the biggest themes talked about during the event, they would be diversityauthenticity, and burnout."
  • Sherry from Semicolon shares 10 things she learned at KidLitCon. My favorite: "Sheila Ruth (Wands and Worlds) and Charlotte (Charlotte’s Library) are NOT the same person in disguise, but they are both authorities on fantasy and science fiction".
  • Sarah says at Finding Wonderland: "You are all the most lovely people. We have such an amazing community, I can't believe it sometimes, but Kidlitcon always reminds me how incredible it is."  
  • ... more to come

My session with Sarah on overcoming blogger burnout was well-received. We could perhaps have spent a bit less time on the reasons for burnout, and a bit more time on our tactics for overcoming it, but we did share a nice little one-page handout (compliments of Sarah). When our schedules allow, we'll turn that into an Infographic. I'll also share more details about the session (including our recommended burnout-recovery tactics) later this week. 

WelcomeTableWhile I found all of the sessions that I attended interesting and rejuvenating, the real reason I go to KidLitCon is to spend time with kindred spirits. (See photo to the left, which Sarah took, of Pam and me manning the registration table.)

FiestaHighlights from this year's conference included meeting Leila, Sherry, Jennifer, Katy, Maria, Kim, and Rosemond for the first time, after visiting with them on blogs and Twitter over the months and years. I also enjoyed meeting new blogging friends, like Daniela, Allie, Emilia, Jen, Holly, Julie, Molly, and Heather, and finally meeting authors that I've wanted to meet, like Margo Rabb, P.J. Hoover, and of course Cynthia and her husband, Greg. (Photo is of the entrance to our Friday night function room at El Mercado.) 

But what brings me back to KidLitCon year after year, is spending time with my peeps, like Pam, Sarah, Lee, Sheila, Charlotte, Maureen, Melissa, CamillePaula, Chris, and Kelly. Especially Pam, without whom this year's KidLitCon would never have gotten off the ground. I can't say it enough. Spending time with people who "get it" -- who share my passion for getting the word out about great children's and YA books, and getting each of those books into the hands of the right reader at the right time -- is a gift. 

Stay tuned for more KidLitCon recaps. And before you know it, we'll be planning for KidLitCon 2014. I hope to see you all there! 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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2. One More Pre-KidLitCon Post

KidlitCon2013As many of you already know, the 7th annual Kidlitosphere Conference is taking place this coming weekend, in Austin, Texas. This weekend,  published a lovely article about KidLitCon on the YA Interrobang site. The article includes quotes from this year's keynote speaker, Cynthia Leitich Smith, as well as from Charlotte Taylor, Sheila Ruth, and Allie Jones. And from me, representing this year's organizing committee. 

I especially liked what Sheila said about KidLitCon:

"It’s different from other conventions: the relatively small number of attendees and the close-knit nature of the Kidlit community make this more like a family reunion than a convention. I’m looking forward to seeing people that I’ve known for years and meeting new people, all of whom share a passion for children’s and YA books, literacy, and infecting young people with the reading bug,”

I love "more of a family reunion than a convention." So true! And that quote ended up going well with something that I said, about KidLitCon "turning virtual friends into real world friends" (here I was somewhat paraphrasing Leila's post at Bookshelves of Doom).

Pam Coughlan posted about the YA Interrobang article this morning at MotherReader. She said:

"It's too important a conference for our online community to not have it. Even if it's difficult or running behind schedule. Even if room selections fell through, leaving us wondering if maybe we could just quietly set up shop on the grounds of the capitol. Even if arranging a block of hotel rooms was more like getting an IRS audit. Even if we found that we were conflicting with another event in the morning targeting our exact potential attendees. It hasn't been easy.

But this week, I hope that I'll have a chance to turn more virtual friends into real world friends. We're keeping registration open, and I hope that you'll consider joining us. Visit the KidLitCon website for more information and register today."

And there you have it. Attend this family reunion of a conference. Even if you've never attended KidLitCon before, you'll find friends there. I know that it's tough to book flights on short notice, but if you are in or near Austin, and have some time to spare this Friday and Saturday, we would love to see you at KidLitCon. 

Many thanks to Meredith Maresco for her well-researched piece on KidLitCon. See you all in Austin!

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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3. Time is Running Out: Kidlitosphere Edition

Cybils2013SmallThere are two important deadlines in the Kidlitosphere today. First of all, nominations for the 2013 Cybils close tonight, October 15th, at midnight PST. This is your last chance to give props to the well-written children's and young adult titles that you think will most appeal to kids. Don't know what to nominate? Bloggers from all around the Kidlitosphere have been publishing lists of titles that they would like to see nominated. Start here and here for links. Many thanks to everyone who has nominated, suggested titles, and/or generally spread the word about the Cybils this year!

KidlitCon2013Second of all, today is the deadline to obtain our group discount for the KidLitCon hotel (the Sheraton in downtown Austin). You can still register for the conference until October 24th, but you may find it harder to find a hotel nearby. MotherReader (who negotiated our hotel discount) adds:

"Yes, other hotels around will be cheaper but this one is about .5 miles from the conference site, and is between the conference and dinner location. It looks lovely and has a lounge where we can hang out! I'm sorry, I mean where we WILL hang out." 

I have to tell you that one of my very favorite parts of KidLitCon is sitting around a hotel lobby or lounge late into the evening, with a glass of wine in hand, talking with my peeps about all things books (and life). If you'd like to join us, today is the day to sign up, and lock in the discounted hotel rate. Contact me if you need more details. 

We've also finalized some details about the conference, and the Friday pre-conference event. See the beautiful flyer below for details (with thanks to Tanita Davis and Sarah Stevenson). 


In case you're having trouble viewing images, here is some of the key information in text form:

Join keynote speaker Cynthia Leitich Smith, readers, bloggers and friends at the 2013 Kidlit Con at Austin. Kickoff meetup will be held Nov. 8 at the UT-Austin iSchool Campus, Tocker Lounge 1-4 p.m. The main conference will be held November 9, with coffee starting at 9:15, and the keynote at 10 a.m. Rekindling Your Love of Blogging. Panels and discussion, catered luncheon. Round out the day with a buy-your-own group meal at Scholz Beer Garten in downtown Austin. Conference Fee: $65. Registration deadline: October 24. See Kidlitosphere Central for more information. Register here.

So, get your Cybils nominations in, and book your hotel room for KidLitCon today. And don't delay registering for KidLitCon, because that deadline is approaching soon, too. I hope to see you there. 

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4. Keynote Speaker for KidLitCon Announced

KidlitCon2013I posted last week about the registration and call for proposals for the 7th annual Kidlitosphere Conference. Today, I'm happy to share the news that the keynote speaker for the conference will be the fabulous Cynthia Leitich Smith, children's and young adult author and long-time blogger at Cynsations. Cynthia will be speaking on Saturday morning to kick off the main conference, and she's sure to be a hit. 

KidLitCon will be held November 9th in Austin, TX, with a precon event in the works for Friday. You can register for KidLitCon here. If you register by October 11th you'll receive a $10 discount off of the already quite reasonable $65 registration fee. We're also accepting sessions proposals for KidLitCon here. The deadline for proposals is this Friday, October 4th, so please get yours in soon. 

Here are links to other posts about KidLitCon from:

Don't miss out on all the fun. Register for KidLitCon today. Or, as Tanita said in her post:

"Once upon a time, this was an idea - then a potluck - and now for seven years running, a place where many people meet up with Their Tribe. Will you be there?"

I will!

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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5. “A marvelous way to tell a difficult story”

The upcoming Austin SCBWI Graphic Novel Workshop on Saturday, October 5 promises to be a day for writers and illustrators, writer-illustrators and anyone interested in exciting alternative literary forms for children, teens and young adults. OK, plenty of adults read them, too. Webcomics creator, animator, digital content creator and our SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book […]

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6. A party in February

Erik Kuntz, Amy Rose Capetta and Nick Alter made this video of the Austin Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators 2012 Regional Conference, Something for Everybody.  I get a kick out of how the thumbnail on YouTube shows me in the crowd, getting a hug from illustrator Marsha Riti. So of course I had to include it here. Erik, [...]

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7. Children's Book Council's "CBC Diversity" hosting "It's Complicated"

The roots of Children's Book Week and the Children's Book Council goes back to 1919, when Children's Book Week "was introduced to focus attention on the need for quality children's books and the importance of childhood literacy."

The Council is a national nonprofit trade association for children's trade book publishers. In my quick count of its members, there's over fifty different book publishers in the Council.

This week, CBC Diversity will take up a discussion about diversity. They've titled it "It's Complicated" and invited me to submit a post for it. I did, and I look forward to reading the discussion it generates.

There will also be a post by Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of several terrific books, including one of my all-time favorites, Jingle Dancer.

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8. “It’s Complicated” at CBC Diversity

As we’ve discussed on here before, diversity in children’s and YA books can be pretty controversial. Just reading the comments sections at any of the latest posts about diversity can make your head spin, between the people denying that white privilege exists and those saying that even if it does exist, it doesn’t matter, because “people of color don’t read.”

Those things aren’t true, but how do we dispel them? How do we address the multi-pronged issue of getting more diverse books out there?

The CBC Diversity Committee is working to help address this. This week on the CBC Diversity blog, the theme is “It’s Complicated.” Check out Nancy Mercado’s opening post:

The internet can often be a rough-and-tumble kind of place when it comes to complex and layered discussions, but we think it’s possible and necessary to have a respectful and open forum where we are able to chat about some of the challenges that we face, as well as the opportunities that exist when we come together as a community.

This will be a safe space for us in publishing—writers, editors, marketing folks, sales people, artists, anyone involved in getting books to kids—to discuss the issues.

Today, Cynthia Leitich Smith is talking about the fear of saying something wrong. Hop on over and join in on the conversation.



On a related note, here’s some recent coverage of this issue.

The Atlantic Wire: The Ongoing Problem of Race in YA

Huffington Post: Race On YA Covers: Survey Reports A Continued Lack Of Diversity

Jezebel: White Folks Star in 90% of 2011′s Young Adult Book Covers

John Scalzi: Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

John Scalzi: “Lowest Difficulty Setting” Follow-Up

Sarah Ockler: Race in YA Lit: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee-Colored Skin, YA Authors [at SFWA]

Sarah Ockler: Race in YA Lit: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee-Colored Skin, YA Authors [at her own blog]

Originally published at Stacy Whitman's Grimoire. You can comment here or there.

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9. Dear Scott Brown: Do you know what Native Americans look like?

At the end of May, I wrote about Elizabeth Warren (running for US Senate against incumbent Scott Brown) and her family story about how they are part Cherokee.

Last night was the first debate between Warren and Brown. The first thing Scott Brown brought up was Warren's identity. He said "Professor Warren claimed she was a Native American, a person of color. And as you can see, she's not."

Scott Brown's ignorance is showing!


Brown's remark suggests that a blue-eyed blonde could not be American Indian. He is wrong about that. 

Being a tribally enrolled member or citizen of a federally recognized tribe is what matters (and yes, there is a lot of debate about federal recognition and state recognition). Is Native identity determined by skin color? Nope. Hair color? Nope. Obviously, his idea of what an American Indian should look like is based on stereotypes!

The Cherokee Nation has several videos about being a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Here's one:

As the video demonstrates, Cherokee's "look" lots of different ways with regard to hair and skin color.

Scott Brown ought to watch that video!

And maybe he should read Cynthia Leitich Smith's short story, "A Real-Live Blond Cherokee and His Equally Annoyed Soul Mate" in Moccasin Thunder, edited by Lori Marie Carlson.

There's a lot of ignorance in America (around the world, in fact) about who American Indians are, but there are a lot of outstanding children's and young adult books that can unseat that ignorance. Moccasin Thunder has short stories by several leading Native writers: Joy Harjo, Sherman Alexie, Richard Van Camp, Linda Hogan, Joseph Bruchac, Greg Sarris, Lee Francis, and Susan Power. Pick it up today. Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown could learn a lot by reading it.

5 Comments on Dear Scott Brown: Do you know what Native Americans look like?, last added: 9/26/2012
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10. Erdrich's CHICKADEE and Smith's INDIAN SHOES in NY TIMES

On December 4, 2012, The New York Times published "Books to Match Diverse Young Readers" about books that featured characters who are "black, Latino, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native." Here's a screen capture of the article:

The first book on the second row is Louise Erdrich's Chickadee. If you click on it, you'll be able to read the first words of the book. On the third row, the last image is Cynthia Leitich Smith's Indian Shoes. I heartily recommend Chickadee and Indian Shoes and am glad to see them getting this attention in the Times. 

I am not familiar with The Year of Miss Agnes, but it was not favorably reviewed in A Broken Flute: The Native Experience in Books for Children. In it, reviewer Marlene Atleo writes that Miss Agnes is an eccentric and dedicated white teacher of Indigenous children, but that throughout, the message is that "Native people merely survive" and that "white people think..." Atleo's review includes an excerpt:
With Miss Agnes the world got bigger and then it got smaller. We used to think we were something, but then she told us all the things that were bigger than us, the universe and all that, and then all the things that were smaller. To small to even see. So people were sort of in between, not big and small, just in between.
Reading that excerpt, I see the trope of the white teacher rescuing the Indians from their primitive and ignorant ways. It doesn't make one lick of sense to me, though, given that Native peoples view ourselves as part of the world. I'm guessing that Alaska Native children in isolated areas already know that people are "in between." Isn't it, generally speaking, non-Native people who are the ones that need to learn their place in the world as caretakers rather than exploiters of the earth's resources?

If you choose Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, avoid the other Alvin book, Alvin Ho: Allergic to Birthday Parties. It features Alvin playing Indian.
I'm uploading this post on December 7, 2012. For those of you looking for holiday gifts, put Chickadee and Indian Shoes on your lists. Both are available from Birchbark Books in their "young adult" link.

Buy books from Birchbark Books! Support independent bookstores!

0 Comments on Erdrich's CHICKADEE and Smith's INDIAN SHOES in NY TIMES as of 12/7/2012 12:07:00 PM
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11. GIRL MEETS BOY, edited by Kelly Milner Halls

In the closing pages of Girl Meets Boy: Because There Are Two Sides to Every Story, we learn that Joseph Bruchac wrote "Falling Down to See the Moon" and that after reading his story, Cynthia Leitich Smith wrote "Mooning Over Broken Stars."

Joe and Cyn are two of my favorite writers. I recognize the places they write about, and as a Native kid/teen who grew up at Nambe Pueblo, I recognize the characters they developed for their stories in Girl Meets Boy. I know/knew guys like Bobby Wildcat and girls like Nancy Whitepath. They were my classmates when I was in school at Pojoaque (a public school that serves four different pueblos).

And they were my students when I taught Native kids in New Mexico and Oklahoma. Nancy Whitepath is a basketball player. When I taught at Santa Fe Indian School, my husband and I went to a lot of basketball games, cheering for our students. SFIS has won many state championships (source: Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper):

In the stories they wrote for Girl Meets Boy, we aren't told what tribe either character belongs to. Most of the time, the omission of that detail would be a serious flaw. Tribal identity is one of the things I look for when evaluating a story. But, because Joe and Cyn are who they are, I didn't need that detail. I was with them right away. I want to spend time thinking about what that means...

For now, I'm just going to recommend that you get Girl Meets Boy (published in 2012 by Chronicle Books).

1 Comments on GIRL MEETS BOY, edited by Kelly Milner Halls, last added: 1/30/2013
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12. Watch For It: Feral Nights and Eternal

A shout out to our beloved Cynthia Leitich SmithEternal, Zachary's Story, the paperback graphic novel illustrated by Ming Doyle, will be available February 12th, along with Feral Nights. The later develops characters from Tantalize in their own series. Both books pack a supernatural punch, so watch for them. Congrats, Cynthia!

Feral Nights
by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Candlewick Press, February 12, 2013

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

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13. Event Pics -- RIF and Bridget Zarr's POISON

A couple weeks ago, Cyn, Chris Barton, and Tim Tingle were featured authors at an event at the LBJ Library sponsored by Reading is Fundamental.  Here are some pics:

Tim and Chris watch while Cyn displays JINGLE DANCER
Day Glo Brothers, Saltypie, and Jingle Dancer

Chris, Cyn, and Tim sign their books

Joy Hein, Kathi Appelt, and Cyn like Ike.
Monkey in the middle

Then, last week, we attended a gathering at BookPeople for the release of the late Bridget Zinn's POISON.  To celebrate, a group of Austin authors signed copies of the book, which are now available at BookPeople!  To buy a copy, click here.

P.J. Hoover, Susan Kralovansky, Nikki Loftin, Cory Oakes

Liz Garton Scanlon, Me, and Cynthia Levinson
Cyn and me.  Photo courtesy Cory Oakes
Title Page!

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The Hispanic Division and the Center for the Book of the Library of Congress will honor Sonia Manzano for The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano (Scholastic) with the America’s Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Program on Monday 23 September in Washington DC.

First Book made headlines this past summer when they targeted purchases from two publishers to increase the availability of diverse books for young readers. After distributing books from HarperCollins and Lee and Low around the country, First book has announced the second phase of their program.

So what’s next for First Book? In June, the group unveiled at the Clinton Global Initiative America the planned next phase of the project, a “Commitment to Action” that includes outreach to 30,000 new schools and programs, special collections of diverse and multicultural titles, matching grants for educators, and an influential council of authors to help inspire new books and stories.

In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a growing dynamic in the demand for diversity in characters and authors in YA lit. Sure, it may be just another phase that the industry is experiencing, but I feel a real commitment from the individuals who are speaking up. They’re making statements that express concerns and beliefs they live with all the time. School Library Journal recently held a virtual conference “Embracing Diversity” which resulting in an article full of diversity resources.

The mosaic on Elephant Rag blog is a great place to find new books that reflect the world around us.

From authors Kelbion Noel and Zetta Elliott

Everyone deserves to see themselves in the pages. That’s what Diversity Reads is all about. Allowing youth the opportunity to enjoy speculative fiction featuring characters who look and deal, just like them. The non-profit is introducing a quarterly series, featuring multicultural authors of speculative fiction works, featuring main characters of color. Stay tuned for an event near you!

Their first event, “Black Magic” is in Toronto on 21 Sept.

Author Carole Boston Weatherford visited the Brown Bookshelf to discuss her book, Birmingham 1963 which pays homage to the four girls who lost their lives in a church bombing 50 years ago.

Lisa Yee is publishing on Paper Li.  STET, Good Books and Bad Dogs and Outer Space Stuff is brought to you daily.She’s much better at that than I am! I have a weekly publication but all I news I manage to collect comes from YALSA. I’m working on it!

Author Cynthia Leitich Smith will be presenting a Graphic Novel Writing workshop in Austin on 5 Oct. To prepare for this event, her blog recently featured an interview with her conducted by Samantha Clark, Austin SCBWI’s regional advisor, Why did she take her Tantalize series to graphic format?

The Tantalize series struck me as a great fit for graphic format. The books are genre benders–Gothic fantasies with strong elements of romance, mystery/suspense and some humor. They’re high action, rich in setting – an alternative Austin; Dallas; Chicago; small-town Michigan; Montpelier, Vermont – and offer diverse protagonists and visually arresting creatures (angels, vampires, werearmadillos).

Me? I’m working at the reference desk today! I’m looking forward to my first visit to Rose Hulman’s library this week to hear a speaker that’s part of the Muslim Journey bookshelf on which we’ve partnered. And, I’m reading reading reading for BFYA! With regards to BFYA, I’m really excited to have identified several ways to distribute the books I’ve been receiving. Of course, some have been going to the Indiana State University library! Advanced copies have been going to area teachers for their classroom libraries. Others will soon ship to the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and in March I hope to distribute the remaining hundreds to school libraries here in Indiana. Thanks to a wonderful suggestion from Suzanne Walker, the Children’s Librarian for the state of Indiana, I’m planning a mini-grant program to send the books to the neediest libraries in the state. Hopefully, I’ve found a way to get it funded as well!

You?!! I hope you have a fantastic week and that your favorite team wins, unless they’re playing the Colts!

Filed under: Me Being Me Tagged: Carole Boston Weatherford, Cynthia Leitich Smith, diversity, First Book, Kelbion Noel, Lisa Yee, School LIbrary Journal, Zetta Elliott

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15. “A marvelous way to tell a difficult story”

The upcoming Austin SCBWI Graphic Novel Workshop on Saturday, October 5 promises to be a day for writers and illustrators, writer-illustrators and anyone interested in exciting alternative literary forms for children, teens and young adults. OK, plenty of adults read them, too. Webcomics creator, animator, digital content creator and our SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book […]

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16. TANTALIZE: KIEREN'S STORY releases today!

Congratulations to my wife, Cynthia Leitich Smith, on the release today of her first graphic novel (illustrated by Ming Doyle), TANTALIZE: KIEREN'S STORY!  Go check out an interview with Cyn and Ming here, and a brief article called Going Graphic at Hunger Mountain on turning TANTALIZE into a graphic novel!   

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17. rgz Newsflash: Skype Authors announced on Cynsations

Shout out to Cynthia Leitich Smith for sharing about Skype Authors on Cynsations. You can read the full article here. I'm happy to be a part of this esteemed group making a difference to CAMFED and literacy in schools. Feel free to spread the news to all who might benefit. Thanks!

Here's a snippet from Cynsations:

Skype Authors connects noted children’s book authors to schools and book clubs while benefiting Camfed in 2011-2012.

Noted authors Suzanne WilliamsMartha BrockenbroughDia CalhounJanet Lee CareyMary CasanovaLorie Ann GroverJoan HolubDeb LundClaire Rudolf MurphyLisa L. Owens, and Trudi Trueit have launched Skype Authors, an author-visit-booking site that will aid schools, book clubs, and educational charities.
Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from each visit will benefit Camfed, an organization that educates girls in Africa.

I just love the children's book community. Don't you?

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

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18. ARCs!

That's advanced reading copies, natch.  They arrived Friday:

And, when I shelved these guys, I noticed something:

If all you had to go on was colors, which books do you think are Cyn's and which are mine?  I wonder if it means anything...

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19. WOW Wednesday: Cynthia Leitich Smith--Your Only Real Competition is Yourself

Our WOW this week is from the incredible Cynthia Leitich Smith, the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author of Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, Tantalize: Kieren’s Story, and the forthcoming Diabolical (Candlewick). Her award-winning books for younger children include Jingle Dancer, Indian Shoes, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (all HarperCollins) and Holler Loudly (Dutton). She has also published several middle grade and YA short stories.

Her website at cynthialeitichsmith.com/ was named one of the top 10 Writer Sites on the Internet by Writer's Digest (so well deserved!) and an ALA Great Website for Kids. Her Cynsations blog at cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com was listed as among the top two read by the children's/YA publishing community in the SCBWI "To Market" column. You can also find her on the Web at Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LiveJournal.

Your Only Real Competition is Yourself

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Your only real competition is yourself. Yes, you should read—avidly—and come to an understanding of what the benchmark for publication is in today’s competitive market. Study the voices of the past as well. Storytelling is a tradition that spans countless generations, not a mere exercise in individual ego.

You should read with a critical eye but also a celebratory one and consider what’s possible at the zenith of excellence. For that matter, you should reconsider phrases like “the zenith of excellence.”

Writing and reading are all about discourse. It’s worth knowing where your work falls in the conversation of books, where you’re making a fresh contribution and where you’re thoughtfully nodding to those who’ve come before.

But that’s secondary to facing off against yourself, day after day, page after page, for the rest of your writing life. In your literary art, set against an always-changing publishing landscape, this is where you should focus as a competitor.

Where you should challenge and s-t-r-e-t-c-h and go for the win.
14 Comments on WOW Wednesday: Cynthia Leitich Smith--Your Only Real Competition is Yourself, last added: 9/30/2011
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20. Sunday Musings . . . I'm back, yes, really!

Hi everyone!

Long time, no see . . . yes, I’m back. So sorry I was gone so long but I had to deal with a few personal issues, including unemployment (lost my job in 2010). And with my husband working only part-time, it has been quite stressful to say the least. But I’ve been quite busy, nevertheless, transporting the kids to school and their various activities, doing some freelance proofreading, and of course, working on my middle-grade novel.

But enough about me . . . what I really want to focus on with this comeback post is the DEBUT PUBLICATION of my long-time blogger friend, TESS HILMO’s middle-grade mystery, WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Macmillan, Margaret Ferguson Books, 2011). The excerpts I read on amazon had me wishin’ I had a Kindle to download the story right away. With a Name Like Love received 2 fantastic STARRED REVIEWS—from Kirkus and the esteemed School Library Journal—before it’s publication date (Sept. 27, 2011). That is a HUGE accomplishment! Congratulations, Tess!

You’ll find a wonderful interview with Tess on Robyn Campbell’s blog, Putting Pen to Paper (Hi Robyn!), as well as this interview with Tess over at CYNSATIONS, the blog of well-known author & resource of publishing info, Cynthia Leitich Smith. (And speaking of Cynthia, you have got to check out this inspiring guest post she wrote over at Adventures in Children’s Publishing, “Your Only Real Competition is Yourself.” Doesn’t she speak the truth?)


IN CASE YOU’RE INTERESTED, you can win a copy of TESS HILMO’s With A Name Like Love by leaving a comment at Mother Daughter Book Club.com under the post Book Review and Giveaway: With A Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo. THE CONTEST ENDS OCT. 12th midnight (PDT). Good Luck!

AND, don’t forget to read Tess’ guest post at this same site, where she offers great writerly wisdom on The Power of Words.

You know, there’s been so, so many great blog posts this past year. Did anyone see the wonderful Tribute to Rita Williams-Garcia (author of the 2011 Scott O’Dell and 2011 Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel, One Crazy Summer) by her editor Rosemary Brosnan? This greatly inspiring read is in the July/August 2011 issue of The Horn Book magazine. I think most writers would give their right arm (and leg!) to have such a wonderful author-editor relationship as theirs!

Another great motivational read I came across was a post back in June entitled 3 Comments on Sunday Musings . . . I'm back, yes, really!, last added: 10/5/2011
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21. Cover Stories: Tantalize, Kieren’s Story

Cynthia Leitich Smith is a huge supporter of the YA writing community who truly rocks. I recently wrote a guest post for her awesome blog, Cynsations, about writing "true" vs. "likeable" characters. She also happens to be the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author of the Tantalize series: ETERNAL, TANTALIZE, and BLESSED, Gothic fantasies from Candlewick. TANTALIZE: KIEREN’S STORY, illustrated by Ming Doyle, is a graphic edition in which Cynthia re-envisions her dark fantasy through Wolfish eyes. How cool is that?

Here's Cynthia with the Cover Story for  TANTALIZE: KIEREN’S STORY:

"I anticipated that the cover would nod overtly to Kieren’s identity as a human werewolf-hybrid. We often see this with books that involve a shape-shifter protagonist. I tend to prefer those in which it’s more subtle, like Vivian’s wolf shadow on the original cover of Annette Curtis Klause’s Blood and Chocolate (right).

"Usually in shifter books, the transformation is a powerful moment in the story, and as a reader I prefer to experience that in my imagination rather than to be offered a visual up front. However, in my story, because Kieren is a hybrid (and has some issues with that), he doesn’t shapeshift as easily or completely as, say, his mother who has no known homo sapiens heritage.

"I was wary of the idea that the cover might suggest that Kieren would go full Wolf and managing that more delineated duality would be the book’s focus. The story is more of a murder mystery with strong romantic elements than a straight-up creature feature, though certainly creatures abound.

"My first thought when I saw the cover was, He’s a boy. Definitely a boy..."

Read the rest of Cynthia's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

PS-Read the original Cover Stories for Eternal and Blessed.

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22. Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Special Guest Post With Holly Thompson

Take some time today and head on over to author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog Cynsations to read her Guest Post with author Holly Thompson entitled “Holly Thompson on the Perfect Setting & Orchards“.

Orchards is Thompson’s debut novel for young adults and is written in verse. It tells the story of Kana Goldberg, a half-Jewish, half-Japanese American teenager who, after a classmate’s unexpected death, is sent to her family’s farm in Japan to reflect on her participation in the events that led up to the classmate’s suicide.

Orchards has been receiving rave reviews since it’s release this past Spring (read PaperTigers’ review here) and is included on the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)  Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominations list.

Holly has been keeping extremely busy this year (click here to visit her blog) and has just returned from the Manila International Literary Festival where she presented three panel discussions:

“Writing for Young Adults” with author Perpi Alipon-Tiongson and publisher RayVi Sunico;

“The Many Forms of the Novel” in which she spoke about writing in verse and read an excerpt from Orchards; and

“The Stranger Experience” on writing away from home, cross-cultural experiences, and the multi-faceted immigration experience with Gemma Nemenzo and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz. The immigrant’s experience plays a vital role in Junot’s work and I have to share this amazing quote from him that I found on Tarie Sabido’s blog Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind:

“You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.” — Junot Diaz

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23. HAUNTED LOVE free e-book!

"Haunted Love," a short story by Cynthia Leitich Smith is now available for free download from Barnes & Noble (U.S.), Books on Board, Amazon.com (U.S.) and Amazon.com (U.K.). It will be available from additional e-retailers soon.

From the promotional copy:

Spirit, Texas, is a town of secrets, and as the new owner of the local haunted movie theater, Cody Stryker is juggling more than his fair share. 

When a mysterious new girl comes to town and runs afoul of the ghost that lives in his theater, Cody’s caught in the middle and needs to figure out exactly who he can trust.

"Haunted Love" is a short story by New York Times Bestseller Cynthia Leitich Smith -- featuring new characters and set in the same Gothic universe as her novels Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, and Tantalize: Kieren's Story, illustrated by Ming Doyle.

This story includes a sneak preview of Cynthia Leitich Smith’s upcoming novel, Diabolical (Jan. 2012), which unites heroes from the previous three novels in the Tantalize Series along with a fascinating cast of all-new characters for a suspenseful, action-packed clash between the forces of heaven and hell.

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24. DIABOLICAL release day!

Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith is now available from Candlewick Press in North America, and it will be published Feb. 1 by Walker Australia and New Zealand.

When “slipped” angel Zachary and his werewolf pal, Kieren, are summoned under suspicious circumstances to a mysterious New England boarding school, they quickly find themselves in a hellish lockdown with an intriguing assortment of secretive, hand-picked “students.”

Plagued by demon dogs, hallucinatory wall decor, a sadistic instructor, and a legendary fire-breathing monster, will they somehow manage to escape? Or will the devil have his due?

Best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith unites heroes from the previous three novels in the Tantalize series — including Zachary's girl, Miranda, and Kieren's love, Quincie — along with a fascinating cast of all-new characters for a suspenseful, action-packed clash between the forces of heaven and hell.
To celebrate the release, Cynthia is hosting a giveaway on her blog!  For more information, go here.

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25. Beach Writes – The Southampton Childrens Literature Conference

“If you’re dreaming of becoming the next J. K. Rowling, we’ve got the perfect place for you—the Southampton Children’s Literature Conference!” So said School Library Journal last year after Rocco Staino paid a visit to the Stony Brook Southampton campus to observe the Conference in action.

As Director of the Conference, I am delighted to announce that applications are now being accepted for our July 2012 workshops. We have a truly stellar line-up of faculty members this year, every one of whom is an esteemed, award-winning author in his (or her) own right, including:

Every workshop is capped at 12 students, which makes for a uniquely individualized experience and an incredible opportunity for specific and direct feedback and support. It also means they fill up quickly – so don’t delay if you’re thinking of applying!

A bit more information about the Conference… this year there will be two sessions, a five day one (July 11-15) featuring workshops in picture book, middle grade and YA with Peter H. Reynolds, Kate McMullan and Cynthia and Greg Leitich-Smith, respectively, and a 12-day session (July 18-29) in YA with Patricia McCormick.  Mornings are spent in workshop, and in the afternoons a series of electives are offered such as craft lectures, panel discussions and mini-workshops. You can also choose to spend time writing at one of the beautiful Hamptons beaches or on the gorgeous campus grounds.

Because the Childrens Literature Conference is part of the Southampton Arts Summer, it runs concurrently with workshops in playwriting and screenwriting, as well as with adult workshops in poetry, memoir, novel, creative non-fiction, and even acting and visual arts. Evening events feature well-known authors, playwrights, and filmmakers. The schedule of formal and informal social gatherings is rich—from author receptions to an open-mic night—with a few surprises, too. And because Southampton Arts sponsors an esteemed and long-standing MFA in Creative Writing and Literature at Stony Brook Southampton, as well as new MFA’s in Theatre, Film and Visual Arts, the workshops may be taken for credit. There are even a few partial scholarships available.

To find out more, or to download an application, visit http://www.southamptonchildrenslit.com

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