Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More Party Blogging...

The party, as I said below, was great fun -- but I was so busy I didn't get a chance to take any pictures during the actual event. Fortunately, Jo Whittemore always carries her digital camera...There's more party blogging by Don Tate, Alison Dellenbaugh, and BookMoot.

Glad y'all had a good time!

Cynthia has her post about the Tantalize launch party here.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Tantalizing Launch Party

Last night, Cyn and I hosted the launch party for Tantalize. We ended up having around eighty friends, colleagues, teachers, librarians, and significant others. From what I could tell, it was a complete success :-).

We did a Tantalize book giveaway, courtesy of Candlewick and also gave away a Sanguini's gift basket, incluidng Italian food staples such as pesto and black pasta, and various items from the Sanguini's shops.

Door prizes also included advance reader copies (ARCs) of 2007 Austin area authors' young adult (YA) novels: April Lurie's Brothers, Boyfriends, and Other Criminal Minds; Brian Yanksy's Wonders of the World; Jo Whittemore's Onaj's Horn; and Helen Hemphill's Runaround.

Catering was provided by Primizie and was absolutely fantastic. Items included smoked salmon; mini-calzones; various finger sandwiches; stuffed mushrooms; an Italian antipasto platter; fruit, cheese, and vegetable platters; and roasted tomatoes. Presentation was equally grand: on glass blocks and granite slabs, with a five foot tall flower arrangement from The Flower Studio.

Thanks to Anne Bustard for providing the Italian cream cake (see photo); Michael for the chain saw; Anna and Eric for staffing; and everyone else who helped out.

Thanks also to everyone who came and thanks also to everyone who brought host/hostess gifts (I've lost track of who brought what, but Grazie!).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Back Home

It's been fun guest-hosting Cyn's blog while she dealt with the Blogger-Google difficulties. By now, most folks know she's back at Cynsations with a Live Journal mirror as well. Today she's got an interview with Gene Brenek, who did the Sanguini's logo for Cyn's new novel. (For those who haven't yet read Tantalize, Sanguini's is the fictional vampire-themed restaurant that features prominently in the novel.). You can buy various Sanguini's merchandise at Cafe Press and Printfection.

Cyn's web designer, the ever-patient and industrious Lisa Firke, has recently debuted new web sites for authors Brian Yanksy and for Debbi Michiko Florence. Be sure to check them out!

Also, for those interested in children's poetry, Sylvia Vardell has a great blog on just that subject. Today, she blogs about the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cynsations Launches Mirror Site at LiveJournal

Author Cynthia Leitich Smith has launched a mirror to her successful Cynsations blog at LiveJournal. Now, readers will have the option of reading the blog either at Blogger or LiveJournal.

Cyn says: "This way my LJ subscribers won't be at the mercy of the syndication, which has proven only semi-reliable."

Please help spread the word in the LJ community that the Cynsations mirror is now available to them directly. Thank you!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cynsational Return

Great news! After much discussion/pleading with Blogger, Cyn's blogs have been upgraded. You can find her happily reunited with Cynsations and Spookycyn. Thanks to everyone who supported her guest blogging here during her tech woes as she was working to launch Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). Most appreciated!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Author Interview: Brenda Ferber on Julia's Kitchen

by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Brenda A. Ferber on Brenda A. Ferber: "I grew up in a happy home in Highland Park, Illinois, the third of four children. I attended the University of Michigan and created my own honors major called, 'Creative Writing for Mass Media.' It was basically a combination of creative writing, film/video, and communications classes. Lots of fun! For my honors thesis, I wrote a screenplay, which is currently sitting in the back of my file cabinet, exactly where it belongs.

"After graduation, I moved to Chicago with Alan, my college sweetheart. I worked for Leo Burnett advertising agency, got married, and had three kids in 19 months. (Yes, we have twins.) Suddenly I was a stay-at-home mom, living in the suburbs, and driving a mini-van. It was time to reassess life.

"I had always dreamed of becoming an author but never saw it as a practical career. Now I figured I had to give it a shot. I wasn't making any money anyway, so what did it hurt? I took a class through the Institute of Children's Literature, devoured everything in the children's department of our library, and started to write. A few years later I sold two stories to Ladybug. Then, amazingly, I sold my first novel to FSG!"

What about the writing life first called to you?

When I was ten years old, my aunt gave me a diary for Hannukah, and I've been journaling ever since. For me, writing equals thinking. I don't really understand something until I've written about it. Not only did writing in a diary help me tackle the ups and downs of life, but it also helped me discover my writing voice. Journaling and reading as much as possible (Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Constance Greene were childhood favorites) added up to a natural desire to become an author.

I wasn't one of those kids who wrote stories all the time, but I thought in story-mode, and I still do.

You know that inner voice you have? Well, mine is a story-telling voice. For example, right now I'm thinking, She tried to answer the interview questions while her ten-year-old son buzzed about the room and asked, "What's for dinner, Mom?" I thought everyone's inner voice worked like this until one day when I mentioned it to my husband, and he informed me otherwise. Who would have guessed?

What made you decide to write for young readers?

I'm much too hopeful and optimistic to write for adults. And I love examining the growing-up years. I find it fascinating.

Could you tell us about your path to publication, any sprints or stumbles along the way?

In 2003, I attended the SCBWI Mid-Year Conference in NY. One of the editors I heard speak there was Beverly Reingold, from Farrar Straus & Giroux. At that time, I was in the middle of my first draft of Julia's Kitchen, and Beverly struck me as the right editor for that manuscript. I can't explain exactly why. It was just a gut feeling.

I went home and read several books Beverly had edited, and I became even more convinced that she should be my editor. Of course, I couldn't send her a half-finished first draft, so I sent her a picture book manuscript instead. Soon after, I received a lovely rejection letter from her. I sent her another picture book manuscript, and another, and another. Each time, she sent a rejection requesting to see more of my work.

Finally, she asked me if I could possibly write something longer than a picture book, and I told her about Julia's Kitchen. She sent me a handwritten note saying to send it as soon as possible! I taped that note up to my computer and worked as fast as I could to finish the fourth draft.

Meanwhile, I had entered the third draft of Julia's Kitchen in the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Competition and was waiting to hear the results. Right around the time I heard I won, I finished the fourth draft and submitted it to Beverly. She loved it, and offered me a contract! I did one revision for her, and then we went straight to line editing. Working with Beverly was an amazing learning experience. She was every bit the editor I thought she would be... and more!

Congratulations on the publication of Julia's Kitchen (FSG, 2006)! What was your initial inspiration for writing this book?

In 2001, we were living in Austin, Texas, and there was a house fire in our neighborhood. A father and son died in the fire, and to make matters worse, the mother had died two years earlier in a car accident. There were two brothers who survived, and they went to live with relatives. I didn't know the family, only their house and their story. But every day as I would drive by the burned out house, I wondered about the two boys. I wondered how they were dealing with all this tragedy. I also wondered how I would have coped in their place.

Then 9/11 happened, and it seemed everyone was walking around with a new level of fear.

I asked the age-old question: Why does God let bad things happen? I figured I could try to answer that question in a book. I always loved novels about grief and loss (I just love a good cry!), and I noticed all the mainstream books about death had Christian characters. Where were the Jews? I wanted to write a universal story about a Jewish girl dealing with loss and trying to figure out why God lets bad things happen.

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

I let the initial spark simmer in my head for about a year before I tried to write anything. During that time, we moved back to the Chicago area. I enrolled in ICL's novel writing class and formed a critique group. I spent about a year writing the first draft, and six months writing the next three. I worked with Beverly for about a year, and then a year later, the book was released. So it was a total of four and a half years from spark to publication.

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

I am a naturally happy and optimistic person, so it was very hard for me to go as deep as I had to into Cara's grief. I wanted her to get over it! I wanted her to be happy!

Thankfully, a member of my critique group is a social worker, and she kept pushing me to delve deeper inside Cara's feelings. Also, one of my dearest friends unfortunately lost her mother to cancer while I was writing the book, and we had many talks about the grieving process. Through my friend, I learned that grief isn't only painful, it's also beautiful, and absolutely necessary to heal.

At one point while working with Beverly, it dawned on me that this was a terribly sad book. I wondered who would ever want to read such a heartbreaking tale, and I felt a bit panicked about that! But Beverly told me it has to be sad because it's a sad situation. I had to be true to my character and her story. And of course, there is a hopeful and uplifting ending. Even in the depths of grief, there are happy moments, if you look
for them.

Congratulations, too, on your Sydney Taylor Awards for Julia's Kitchen--best manuscript (2004) and best book for older readers (2007)! What did this recognition mean to you?

Thank you! Winning the manuscript award in 2004 was amazing because it validated me as an author. It made me think I might actually get published. And it did help me find a publisher right away! But winning the gold medal in 2007 was even more exciting because there were so many outstanding Jewish books written this year. I was shocked and thrilled and flabbergasted and grateful that they picked mine as the very best. (I'm still trying to wrap my head around it!)

What advice do you have for beginning novelists?

Read, read, read. And don't stop revising until your manuscript is as good as the best stuff out there today. Only then should you try to find a publisher.

What do you do when you're not writing?

I love to spend time with my family and friends. We go to White Sox games, play Monopoly or Scrabble, see movies, go out to eat. I also love to read, scrapbook, bake, and (when nobody's watching) sing and dance to my iPod. My non-writing time also includes running errands, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, driving carpools, settling fights, and figuring out what's for dinner. If I ever win the Newbery or write a best-seller, I'm getting a personal chef!

As a reader, what middle grade novels have you enjoyed lately and why?

I loved Sold by Patricia McCormick (Hyperion, 2006). It was hauntingly powerful, deeply sad, yet filled with hope. Right now I'm in the middle of Alabama Moon by Watt Key (FSG, 2006), and I'm loving it! The main character, Moon, is one in a million. I find myself thinking about him when I'm not reading and itching to get back to his story.

What can your fans look forward to next?

Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire, will be published by FSG in spring 2009. It's a middle grade novel about friendship, sailing, and growing up at an overnight camp in northern Wisconsin.

Cynsational Note

This interview was conducted by guest blogger Cynthia Leitich Smith, who is on hiatus from Cynsations and Spookycyn.

Absolute Write Interviews Barefoot Books Editor

by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Interview with Kimberly Duncan-Mooney by Jenna Glatzer from Absolute Write. Kimberly is the US editor of Barefoot Books, a small publisher established in 1993 with offices in Cambridge, Mass.; and England.

"An Unsafe Bridge" by Peter T. Chattaway from Christianity Today. Author Katherine Paterson chimes in on the film version of "Bridge to Terabithia."

Submit to the 11th Carnival of Children's Literature, sponsored by Big A, little a.

Thanks to April Lurie at April's Blog, Jo Whittemore at Jo's Journal and Gwenda Bond at Shaken & Stirred for cheering the release of my gothic fantasy YA Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). Read Cynsations interviews with April and Jo.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith at the YA Authors Cafe

The YA Authors Cafe offers its first interview at a new location. Cynthia Leitich Smith is the featured author, and she's talking about Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007).

As a feature of the new cafe, readers are invited to write in with questions, and Cyn will make an effort to respond over the course of the week. Please surf by!

Tantalizing Reviews

by Cynthia Leitich Smith

My newly released YA gothic fantasy novel, Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007), garners more praise!

Booklist cheers: "If Joan Bauer took a crack at dark fantasy, the result would probably be something like this gothic-horror comedy..." and goes on "...the immersion in food culture--including an overhauled menu, as grisly as it is gourmet--successfully builds on the sensual aspects of vampire mythology."

Kirkus Reviews raves: "Quincie must make a terrifying choice in a heart-pounding climax that will have teen readers weeping with both lust and sorrow."

Thanks to my webmaster, the amazing Lisa Firke of Hit Those Keys, for all of her work updating the site for the new release. Tantalize pages include the Reader's Guide and my research bibliographies--gothic fantasy and shapeshifters.

Thanks also to bloggers Colleen Cook, Mitali Perkins, and Varian Johnson for their congratulations and pointing visitors to my guest blogging efforts.

More News & Links

Go bookmark the YA Authors Cafe. I'm honored to say that I'll be the first guest author, and I'll be talking about Tantalize. More soon!

Don't miss this video interview with author David Lubar as he talks to Expanded Books about his forthcoming True Talents (StarScape, March 2007)(excerpt). Visit here, and read a related recommendation by Greg.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith is Now Available

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, Feb. 13, 2007) is now available. Here's a peek:

Classified Ads: Restaurants
Sanguini's: A Very Rare Restaurant is hiring a chef de cuisine. Dinners only. Apply in person between 2 and 4 P.M.

Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her hybrid-werewolf first love threatens to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. And just as she and her uncle are about to debut Austin's red hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef.

Can Quincie transform the new hire into a culinary dark lord before opening night? Will Henry Johnson be able to wow the crowd in fake fangs, a cheap cape, and red contact lenses? Or is there more to this earnest fresh face than meets the eye?

As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything?

Tantalize marks Cynthia Leitich Smith's delicious debut as an author of dark fantasy.

Here are the official blurbs:

"Looking for something to read that will make your TV jealous? Cynthia Leitich Smith's Tantalize has it all—hot vampires and wolf-boys, a super-cool heroine in cowboy boots, nail-biting suspense, romance, chills 'n' thrills, and Austin, Texas. What more could you want?"

--Libba Bray, author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels

"Full of unexpected, delicious delights that kept me guessing and turning the pages, Tantalize creates a froth of danger, suspense, and wit. This original book tantalizes the senses indeed, as it explores the border between attraction and disgust, and makes us question our perceptions. Who are you? Predator or prey?"

--Annette Curtis Klause, author of Blood and Chocolate, The Silver Kiss, and Freaks! Alive on the Inside

In breaking news, we have a new review:

"An intoxicating romantic thriller... Quincie's longing for a physical relationship with her boy-wolf is as palpable as the taste of the food... Smith adds a light touch of humor to the soup, but the main course is a dark romance with all the gory trimmings."

--The Horn Book Magazine

Check out all the buzz!

News, Links, and Thanks

by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Picture Books: Plan, Polish, and Publish by Dori Chaconas. Read interviews with Dori on On A Wintry Morning (Viking, 2000) and One Little Mouse (Viking, 2002) from my web site.

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast #6: Kelly Herold at Big A little a: an interview with one of my favorite bloggers.

Thanks to the ever more bloggers who've announced today's release of Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007) and let the masses know I'm guest blogging here. Cheers to Book Moot, Laura Bowers; Julia Durango; Alex Flinn; Carrie Jones; Cynthia Lord; Liz Garton Scanlon; Laurie Stolarz; Three Silly Chicks, Lara Zeises.

Of Tantalize, Laura raves: "Cynthia's writing is terrific–-just when I thought I had things figured out, she threw in some twists. I'm hoping there's a sequel in Cynthia's future because I'm betting readers will be thirsty for more!"

Carrie chimes in: "Basically, vampire lore and modern day pizazz combine to make this a masterfully done thriller. It's pretty darn neat."

Thanks also to Liz for highlighting yesterday's interview with Marian Hale.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Author Interview: Marian Hale

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Marian Hale on Marian Hale: "I can't remember a time when I didn't love books, but it wasn't until I was twelve and instructed to write a short story for my sixth grade English class that I first became aware that I loved writing, too. However, other than the occasional attempt at poetry over the years, I never pursued it. I suppose a lack of confidence had a lot to do with it. The path to becoming a successful author seemed nebulous and unachievable.

"I married the love of my life right out of business college, and some years later, I went into custom home design. Designing was a wonderfully creative outlet for me at the time. I enjoyed manipulating space to suit each client and the drafting of blueprints, but I especially loved that I could do most all of it at home with my three children close by.

"Years later I finally decided to give writing a real try. I wrote short stories for children and adults and eventually entered them in contests. When my efforts began to place and win prizes, I moved on to my first mid-grade novel, a failure on a professional level, but a huge success in exposing my strengths and weaknesses. It also reinforced my love for children's literature--historical fiction in particular--and I've never looked back."

What about the writing life first called to you?

I'm not so sure I was called to writing. I probably thought so during those early attempts, but it didn't take long to realize that the choice was never mine to make. It's just who I am, like being born with brown hair or blue eyes. Now I can't imagine not writing.

What made you decide to write for young readers?

It was just fun! I especially loved historical fiction, the way it allowed me to step back in time and experience intriguing eras and events as though I were there, seeing it all through the eyes of a teen or preteen. But I suppose what appealed to me most about writing for young readers was the opportunity to tell stories that would help my own children and grandchildren form a more intimate bond with the past, to ask the questions that would help them recognize the eternal connection we all have with older generations all over the world.

Congratulations on the publication of Dark Water Rising (Henry Holt, 2006)! What was your initial inspiration for this story?

Thank you! I first considered this project some years ago when my husband came home from work with a tattered book found in an old abandoned house about to be torn down. It was a full account of the 1900 Galveston Storm, written soon after it happened.

I’d read many articles over the years about the devastating Texas hurricane that took more than 8,000 lives, but never one written while wounds were still tender, while wind and floodwaters still haunted dreams. I wanted to read more, to search out the multitude of hundred-year-old accounts and photographs, all of which were so vivid with intimate detail, so achingly real and painful that I felt as though I’d experienced this turn-of-the-century city and disastrous storm myself.

It was this window to the past that brought me to write Dark Water Rising (Henry Holt, 2006), and in so doing, I wanted to honor the overwhelming loss and Herculean efforts to rebuild the great city of Galveston. I was able to incorporate hundreds of documented details into my story and was very pleased when Reka Simonsen, my editor at Henry Holt, encouraged me to include some spell-binding photos of the aftermath in an author’s note.

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

The inspiration for Dark Water Rising (Henry Holt, 2006) came in 2003, almost a full year before I could even think of starting a new project. When I could finally clear my desk, I spent the next six months researching and cataloging the details I wanted to use. I walked Galveston's streets, studied the nineteenth century architecture, visited the Rosenberg Library to read transcripts of oral interviews, toured homes that survived the great storm, sought out where the two-story ridge of debris left by wind driven water had once encircled the city, and walked along the seawall where Saint Mary's Orphanage had once stood, envisioning the two dormitories that had housed ten Sisters and more than ninety children who perished that day. It was a poignant and inspiring journey. I then spent the following six months trying to do
justice to all those who had endured the deadliest storm to ever hit our country.

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

One of the most difficult challenges was choosing the best location in the city for my characters to experience the storm. I needed an actual home and surviving family, one that would allow me to show the devastation as fully as possible. I finally realized that I'd have to map the entire city, block by block, and key it to names and personal accounts before I could make that decision. The map also helped me locate major businesses, schools and churches, and gave me the confidence to write as though I'd walked through those 1900 neighborhoods and business districts myself.

Even more challenging was the emotional toll this story took on my day to day life. I don't believe anyone could read the many accounts of individual loss from this storm and not experience an intense emotional response. I certainly couldn't, but I couldn't allow myself to take the easy path of skipping lightly through the horrific aftermath either, just to ease my own discomfort. I needed to stay true to even the smallest details, though it meant living with the grisly effects of this storm for a full year.

From the onset of this project, hundred year old photos and heartrending personal accounts haunted me every day, and they were the last thing in my thoughts before falling asleep each night. These were real people, caught up in a real disaster, something that could still happen to any one of us today, and more than anything I wanted to stay true to their stories.

I'm likewise a fan of your debut novel, The Truth About Sparrows (Henry Holt, 2005). Could you tell us a bit about this book?

Thank you; that's always so nice to hear. The Truth about Sparrows (Henry Holt, 2004) was my first historical fiction and a story very close to my heart. It follows Sadie, a twelve-year-old girl who loses her Missouri home during the Great Depression and is forced to start all over in a one-room tarpapered house on the Texas coast.

Although the characters are fictional, most of the events were taken from my parents' and grandparents' experiences, even the scene where Sadie has no choice but to help with the birth of her baby sister. It was a joy to recreate this struggling 1933 fishing and shrimping community for young readers, and I was especially grateful for the opportunity to include the character of "Daddy," modeled after my own grandfather who had polio before he was a year old and never walked.

What do you hope readers take away from the story?

I suppose I've had the same hope for both books. I'd like to think my readers will come away with a deeper appreciation for what so many families, even their own, have endured and overcome, and perhaps be inspired to face their own adversities with that same kind of courage and determination to succeed.

What advice do you have for beginning novelists?

One turning point for me was learning to trust my own instincts and allow myself to become each character. This was tremendously helpful in letting readers in on my character's thoughts so they could share in the emotion, understand the cause, and care about the outcome. I've always tried to let each part of my story evolve naturally to a believable conclusion, following when it insisted on wandering paths I’d never expected or drew me to characters I'd never planned, even when doing so could change the ending I'd envisioned. This seat-of-the-pants writing may not work for everyone, but some of my most surprising and gratifying scenes/characters were written this way.

I suppose the best advice I could give to any new writer, besides the important "read, read, read," is to love what you're doing. Love the characters, the words and the images they evoke, and yes, even the revisions. Look at each revision as another chance to bring more clarity, to make some part of your story touch your reader more deeply and hopefully linger long after your book is back on the shelf.

What do you do when you're not writing?

I'm still doing an occasional home design and my family keeps me very busy since my daughter and her preschool children are with us now, but I try to always make time for the simple joys. When I can, which isn't nearly often enough, my husband and I like to pull our travel trailer to a river or lake to fish and watch the sun go down. We take a few good books and CDs; grill fish, veggies, and stuffed jalapenos; and open a nice bottle of wine. My grandchildren are finally big enough to go with us occasionally, so we'll probably need a larger travel trailer before long!

What can your fans look forward to next?

My next book, untitled at this time, is another historical fiction set in 1918 Canton, Texas, and again, partially derived from old family stories.

It begins with the dreams of sixteen-year-old Mercy Kaplan, a sharecropper's daughter, who has never wanted to be anything at all like her mother. Mercy longs to be free, far from the threat of being saddled with kids, dirty laundry, and failing crops the rest of her life. When the deadly 1918 flu epidemic sweeps through Canton, she gets what she wants in a way she never imagined and soon finds herself employed by the newly widowed Cora Wilder. But there's something secretive and downright strange about the woman. And then there's Daniel Wilder, her eighteen-year-old stepson, with his green eyes and fierce determination to protect his fatherless siblings, just the sort who could sweep a foolish girl off her feet and into a dull and wearisome life like her mother's if she isn't watchful. But Mercy is watchful, and observant enough to uncover the clues to Cora Wilder's odd behavior, which inches her ever closer to exposing a twenty-year-old murder.

More on Dark Water Rising

"A master of her craft...this is historical fiction at its best." --Kirkus, starred review

"...this fine example of historical fiction has something for almost everyone." --Booklist, starred review

"Fact and fiction are blended effortlessly together in an exciting read that leaves readers with a sense of hope." --School Library Journal

More on The Truth About Sparrows

Nominated for six state awards and selected for the following awards and honors:

Editor's Choice for 2004 by Booklist Magazine;

Top Ten First Novels by Booklist Magazine;

2004 Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers by VOYA (Voices of Youth Advocates);

Lasting Connections of 2004 by Book Links Magazine;

Children's Books 2004: One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, by the New York Public Library;

Teachers' Choice for 2005 in the Advanced category by the International Reading Association;

The Best Children's Books of the Year 2005 edition, selected by the Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education;

2005 Notable Books for a Global Society list by the NBGS committee of the Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association;

"Worthy of Special Note" books for The 2005 Virginia Jefferson Cup Award (for historical fiction and nonfiction);

The Editor's Choice - Best book of the Month by Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review.

"...a beautifully realized work, memorable for its Gulf Coast setting and the luminous voice of Sadie Wynn." --Kirkus Reviews

"...triumphant and memorable." --The Horn Book

“Sparrows is a breath of fresh air even when it brings tears to your eyes.” --USA Today

Cynsational Note

This interview was conducted by guest blogger Cynthia Leitich Smith, who is on hiatus from Cynsations and Spookycyn.

Thanks, Bloggers

by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Thanks so much to all the children's and young adult literature bloggers who've passed on the word that I'm guest blogging here for a while.

Cheers to: Chris Barton; Kellye Carter Crocker; Jody Feldman; Debbi Michiko Florence; Varian Johnson; Jo Knowles; Uma Krishnaswami; Carolyn Lehman; David Lubar; Kerry Madden; Mary E. Pearson; Laura Ruby; Tanya Lee Stone; Anastasia Suen; Don Tate; Kim Winters; Sara Zarr.

I especially appreciated what Jo said about my upcoming novel, Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007): "...a must read!!! (But wear a turtleneck and drink white wine when you read it)."

Please continue to pass on the word and remind LJ folks that they can subscribe to GregLSBlog in LJ syndication.

Thanks, too, to Varian Johnson for recommending my interview with Sara Zarr, to Chris Barton for recommending my interview with Lola M. Schaefer, and to Nada for highlighting my interview with Elizabeth Garton Scanlon.

Finally, a big thanks to Greg for letting me hang out here for a while!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Author Cynthia Leitich Smith Guest Blogging at GregLS Blog

Author Cynthia Leitich Smith's popular blogs, Cynsations and Spookycyn, are currently inaccessible to her for new posting during the Blogger "upgrade." It's unclear how long this will persist, but we're hoping the status is resolved as quickly as possible. In the meantime, Cynthia will be guest blogging here.

Interviews and reading recommendations will be later crossposted on Cynsations when the opportunity presents itself.

Cynthia is the author of Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000), Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001), Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002), Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006), and the quickly upcoming YA gothic fantasy novel, Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007).

Please help spread the word throughout the children's/YA literature blog community that they can find out the latest from Cynthia here when it comes to interviews, reading recommendations, publishing information, literacy advocacy, and breaking news. Thank you!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Weekend in the tundra...

Cyn and I spent last weekend on a getaway-research trip up to the Windy City.

Talk about the off-seaason: It was around 5 F the whole time during the day, and got down to -9 at night. This wouldn't have been completely terrible, except that wind chills were about minus 25.

Sunday in Austin? 70.

We checked out a bunch of places that are going into Cyn's wip: Field Museum, Navy Pier, the Hancock Building and the Bloomingdale's Building, and a bit on north Michigan Avenue. We also went to see the Chicago Historical Society's new Crossroads of America exhibit. Food highlight of the trip was the Parthenon, in Greek Town. I have no idea of what half the things we ate were, but they were all excellent. And relatively cheap.

The photo above is of Buckingham Fountain from our hotel room.
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