Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Just a few pics from the Chicago-Madison trip.  Go check out Cynsations for more!

Hancock, Drake, Palmolive
Frosty Lake Michigan

Sky view
Oak Street Beach

One of the places where we were today
Outside Glenbard West

Monday, February 18, 2013

Austin Marathon!

I am delighted to report that I completed my first marathon of the century!  It was also my slowest marathon (and the one with the most hills), which I attribute to both age and a couple of training glitches in the last month before the race. :-).

I last ran the Austin Marathon in 2000, when it was all downhill.  Since then, the route has become a bit more picturesque, but the first half is mostly uphill.

The Expo, where various vendors display their wares and you pick up your bib, T-shirt, and timing chip, was held Friday and Saturday at the Palmer Events Center (we got there early, before most of the crowds had arrived):

The race T-shirt
Here's a pic of me before the race, at 6 in the morning before I headed out, looking grimly determined :-):

The start and the finish line were on opposite sides of the Capitol:

Finish line at 10th and Congress
Gathering at 15th street for the start

The race was held in conjunction with a half marathon and a 5k.  (Typically, 2/3 of the participants are there for the half). This is also my first marathon with a cell phone camera, so I snapped a couple pictures along the way:

Early in the race, looking south on Congress at Riverside

Mark Oakes (husband of author Cory Oakes)
Around mile 20
I finished with a personal worst (an hour longer than my personal best), but came in around the time I was expecting, so I was generally pleased.
After the race
After the race, with finisher's medal!

The race was very well organized and a lot of fun.  Because it's through the neighborhoods, there were a lot of spectators sitting out on their lawns and cheering (Gillian Fedfearn, a Macmillan book rep, was among them!). 
Thanks to all the organizers and sponsors and volunteers!  The music and bands along the way were terrific (I particularly liked the Japanese drum group), and the Gatorade and water were plentiful.

So who's going to do the race with me next year?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Writers and Illustrators and Dinosaurs: Janni Lee Simner

Janni Lee Simner is a prolific writer of short stories and novels for young readers.  She's the author of the Bones of Faerie trilogy, comprising Bones of Faerie, Faerie Winter, and the forthcoming Faerie After.

Here, Janni poses with an origami Triceratops made by her husband Larry Hammer.  She and Larry live in Tucson.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


FERAL NIGHTS:  Candlewick Press
isbn-10/isbn-13: 0763659096 / 9780763659097

When Yoshi, a sexy, free-spirited werecat, tracts his big sister, Ruby, to Austin, he discovers that she's not only MIA; she's also the key suspect in a murder investigation. Meanwhile, sarcastic werepossum Clyde and his human pal Aimee have set out to do a little detective work of their own, sworn to avenge the brutal killing of a friend.

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

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

Fans of the Tantalize quartet will thrill to see werepossum Clyde and other favorite secondary characters -- plus all-new ones -- take to the fore in book one of an all-new series.
  • Kirkus Reviews: "Teens who favor humorous paranormal romance that never takes itself too seriously will enjoy dialogue that sparkles with wit, filled with both literary and pop-culture references."
  • Publishers Weekly: "Smith’s fantasy smoothly switches between the three protagonists’ perspectives, while expertly blending the mythical and the modern. The story’s sharp banter and edgy plot make for an entertaining and clever story about loyalty and reconciling differences."
  • Booklist:  "Smith takes readers back to the universe of the Tantalize quartet with this sexy, fast-paced new novel...[with] an ending that satisfies and should win her many new fans." 
  • The Horn Book "Smith’s blend of supernatural suspense, campy humor, and romantic tension is addictive; allusions to both pop culture ('Thriller,' Monty Python) and literature (The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Most Dangerous Game) add to the fun. Most satisfying of all, Aimee and especially unassuming, injured Clyde leave their sidekick roles behind to come into their own."

isbn-10/isbn-13: 0763651192 / 9780763651190

Reckless guardian angel Zachary has an unusual assignment. He’s meant to save the soul of Miranda, high-school theater wannabe turned glamorous royal vampire. Completely devoted to Miranda, Zachary takes his demotion to human form in stride, taking a job as the princess’s personal assistant. Of course, this means he has to balance his soul-saving efforts with planning the Master’s fast-approaching Deathday gala. Vivid illustrations by Ming Doyle elevate this darkly funny love story to a new dramatic level with bold black-and-white panels. 

Cynthia Leitich Smith’s New York Times bestseller is reimagined as a graphic novel seen through the eyes of Zachary, teenage guardian angel.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Austin SCBWI Conference 2013

The Austin SCBWI Annual Conference has come and gone and was, as usual, a great success! This year's conference focuses largely on the picture book.

Speakers included illustrators E.B. Lewis and Patrice Barton; agents John Cusick, Rubin Pfeffer, and Erszi Deak; editors Neal Porter, Kathy Landwehr, and Tamra Tuller; and authors Shutta Crum and Cynthia Levinson. 

Thanks to outgoing RA Debbie Gonzales, ARA Carmen Oliver, Illustrator Chair Mark Mitchell, and all the volunteers! Looking forward to the new administration of Shelley Ann Jackson, Sam Clark, and Amy Farrier!

Here are some pictures:

Mark Mitchell, Julie Lake, Cyn, Liz Garton Scanlon
Debbie Gonzales and me during First Impressions panel

Jessic Lee Anderson, Lindsey Lane, Betty X. Davis
Jo Whittemore, Jeff Crosby, Emily Anderson, Nikki Loftin, Me
Bethany Hegedus, Gene Brenek, Vanessa Lee, Sean Petrie
First Impressions Panel

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Montgomery County Book Festival report!

Cyn and I are just back from the Montgomery County Book Festival, where we had an amazing time!  Congrats on a terrific event and thanks for all the hard work by the organizers and volunteers!

My panel was titled "We're Not in Kansas Anymore: SciFi Reads," and included co-panelists Brian Falkner and David Macinnis Gill.  I haven't read Brian's work, but am excited to do so now; and I'm thrilled that the third book in David's BLACK HOLE SUN series is forthcoming next month.

We had a great discussion, including how science fiction reflects society and inspirations of our respective works.

Here are some pictures:

Mari Mancusi and Cory Putnam Oakes
Origami by Larry Hammer

Opening night reception

Janni Lee Simner
Me and Brian Falkner

Suzanne Crowley, Janet Fox, and me

Jenny Moss and Cyn

Lisa McMann and David Macinnis Gill

Check out Cyn's report here for more photos!
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