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jo_graham [userpic]
Unascended -- the Beginning
by jo_graham (jo_graham)
at April 19th, 2014 (05:57 am)

Unascended is finished and turned in! Now we wait for first edits.

To celebrate, I thought I'd share the beginning of the first chapter.

Chapter OneCollapse )

kbaccellia [userpic]
Friday Five
by kbaccellia (kbaccellia)
at April 18th, 2014 (08:08 pm)

Current Mood: relaxed

This week is Spring Break so I've been hitting the rough draft of the second book in the goddesses series and going over the revision of a critique buddy.

***And there's a great deal going on over at Amazon for my ebook EARRINGS OF IXTUMEA for $1.99! For those of you who are asking for fantasies with PoC, well my book has one! What a deal!

1. Saw two movies with similar themes of struggle with faith.

God Is Not Dead

Intriguing argument for and against God in the classroom. That was the strength of this movie. Some of the other parts bordered predictability.

2. I thought this one though handled the subject better and was nothing like I thought. I went in as a skeptic and came out moved.

Heaven Is For Real

3. Really loving the voice in this memoir:

4. Can't wait to read this one:

5. Went to Mother-in-law's assistant living community for an Easter party. And yes, Easter bunny came!

12 year old got to help his grandma and other elderly lady to dye Easter Eggs:

**Guilty pleasure:

Hope to go to Frye's and pick up a new laptop. Angelina, my current cherry red laptop, is five years old and dying.

Plus, want to treat self to a grande Starbucks drink!

**Photo courtesy from

professornana [userpic]
Picture books beyond primary grades
by professornana (professornana)
at April 18th, 2014 (06:38 pm)

Current Location: home
Current Mood: mellow

A few weeks ago, Karin Perry and I spent a great deal of time talking about picture books. We had not planned to spend quite as much time as we did. We had loads of other topics we wanted to cover in a day long workshop. However, there was tremendous interest. Then this week I saw this post to the YALSA Hub:

Pairing picture books about Cinderella (and there are hundreds of versions of Cinderella and other fairy tales out there) with YA novels with Cinderella themes is a terrific idea, one I plan to incorporate into future presentations. Libby Gorman's pairings are a great place to begin. How about taking themes from other fairy tales or fables or folk tales and pairing them with YA books with similar themes?

I have used WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE for a LONG time to work with theme with middle school kids. Theme is abstract, but a good picture book can help make the concept more concrete. WTWTA also underscores that books can (and do) have more than one theme.

I am working right now on a half day session on using picture books with K-12 students. I am exploring the ideas here and a few others. I find I am not running out of ideas or books. I love when a germ of an idea leads to something bigger. I know many of my friends are already using picture books in all manner of inventive ways. I salute them for not abandoning picture books and start pushing kids into other works earlier and earlier. My new campaign is to replace the word "push" with "lead" or "assist" or "guide" or "encourage." I spoke to a reporter this week who talked about getting kids into harder and tougher and more complex books. There are plenty of complex books that have only 32 pages (the average picture book length). Let's explore these books without the push into something else. Reading easy, a phrase my friend Kylene Beers uses, is a good thing. We all need time to read easy, to relax as we read, to access text easily, to ENJOY the reading.

cynthialord [userpic]
Five Things on a Friday
by cynthialord (cynthialord)
at April 18th, 2014 (10:17 am)

Current Mood: busy

1. My friend, author Tamra Wight, took this great photo of one of the fox kits at their campground (Poland Spring Campground). Tami is the author of the Cooper and Packrat series of mystery books.

2. A week from today, I'll be speaking at the 27th Annual Conference on Children’s Literature in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. It's free and open to the public, though they do ask you to register. The focus this year is on disability, both in books and in creating inclusive programming.

3. We had snow one morning this week and my son woke me up demanding, "WHERE'S MY SPRING?!"  Indeed.

4.  I have received three school visit requests for school visits for Half a Chance, including one All School Read of the book in Tennessee next year. Time to come up for a program for that book!

5.  Happy Easter, everyone, from my two Easter bunnies.

Photo: My cuddle bunnies

cynleitichsmith [userpic]
Cynsational News & Giveaway
by cynleitichsmith (cynleitichsmith)
at April 18th, 2014 (08:53 am)

for Cynsations

Christian Slater, Annie Hall, Rejection, and Me (Not Necessarily in That Order) by Shawn K. Stout from the Writing Barn. Peek: "That feeling, right there. Do you know the one? That crushing ache? The one right there in the middle of my chest that tells me in that moment I’m unloved by the universe? That’s what rejection feels like to me. Every. Single. Time."

A Logic Model for Author Success by Sharon Bially from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Called the 'Logic Model'...its goal is to help writers make the best decisions about where to focus their creative energies and efforts when it’s time to launch their books."

Do I Capitalize "God" in Dialogue and Internal Thoughts? by Deborah Halverson from Dear Editor. Peek: "The only rigid rule for capitalizing 'God' in dialogue and thoughts is that you do so when using it as a pronoun: 'Joe, God won’t like that.' Beyond that..."

Think Before You Write by Ash Krafton from QueryTracker Blog. Peek: "Even if I were to sit down as soon as I can and start banging out the scene, it never feels quite the same as it did during its inception. I feel like I lose little parts of myself every time that happens."

Carol Lynch Williams on The Haven by Adi Rule from wcya The Launch Pad at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Peek: "Treat writing like a job. It's not behind the dishes or taking out the garbage. It's your profession. You write first."

Chukfi Rabbit's Big, Bad Bellyache: A Trickster Tale by Choctaw author Greg Rodgers: a recommendation from Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature. Peek: "...the illustrations by Leslie Stall Widener are terrific. They provide the visual clues that this is a Choctaw story. The clothes the characters wear accurately depict the sorts of items Choctaw's wear, from tops like the one Chukfi wears to the baseball cap that Kinta wears."

The Emotional Journey of a Novel by Mary Kole from Peek: "...what we’re looking at above is the standard three-act structure but instead of tracking how the plot rises and then falls, we are tracking how the character feels during each step of the process."

Editing for Agents by agent Tina Wexler and author Skila Brown from Literary Rambles. Peek: "Maybe the agent’s comments are prescriptive in a way that you don’t really like, but listen hard to what problem s/he is identifying and see if you’ve got another idea on how to fix it."

What "Frozen" Teaches Us About Storytelling & Publishing by Stina Lindenblatt from QueryTracker Blog. Peek: "There are quite a few plot spoilers in this post, so if you’re planning to watch the movie, do so first."

Cynsational Author Tip: You may own the copyright to your book, but not everything written about it.  Keep review quotes short, and as a courtesy, provide a link to the source.

A character on the autism spectrum.
Characters on the Autism Spectrum by Yvonne Ventresca from YA Highway. Peek: "At a time when one in every 68 children in the U.S. is affected by autism, it’s interesting to see how children’s literature portrays autistic characters. ...odds are high that teens will have an autistic family member, or a classmate with Asperger syndrome, or a neighbor on the spectrum."

Keeping Up with the Racing Rules by Emma D. Dryden from Our Stories, Ourselves. Peek: "We can't wish away the fact kids are growing up fast, doing everything fast, wanting everything fast, and getting everything fast."

Shattering the Multicultural Myth of the Market. Let's Go! from Mitali Perkins. Peek: "We are tweeting, texting, status-ing, and insta-ing that book until our friends are convinced they must buy it right now or their quality of life will diminish."

"Ariel" by Katherine Catmull: a new story from The Cabinet of Curiosities. Note: "about a mistreated bird and its shadow."

This Week at Cynsations

Enter to win a signed copy!

More Personally

My Week: Travel, Events, Revision! Thank you to TLA, LATFOB, librarians, YA readers, and Candlewick Press for a blurry flurry of bookish fun.

I sent my editor my Feral Pride revision on Wednesday, and she sent notes back on the first half on Thursday. Notes on the second half will come Tuesday. I've been focusing on chapter one, the target of her most substantive suggestions. My goals are to orient the reader, kick off the action, and maintain in the narrative continuity--all of which are more challenging with book 3 in a trilogy and book 9 in a universe. We're almost, but not quite there.

With authors Laurie Halse Anderson & Cecil Castellucci at The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
Texas Teens for Libraries at the TLA Annual Conference in San Antonio (that's my back in white).

See also Nikki Loftin and Lupe Ruiz-Flores on the Texas Library Association annual conference.

The post on my mind this week? The Best Bums in Children's Fiction -- Or Why Are So Many Children's Books About Bottoms? by Emma Barnes from An Awfully Big Blog Adventure. Peek: "...for the average five year old, toilet training and bed wetting are still very immediate issues, and getting oneself to the toilet on time can be a source of pride (or sometimes an embarrassing failure)."

Greg models Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn at the Macmillan booth at TLA.
Congratulations to Greg Leitich Smith on a rave review from Publishers Weekly for Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn (Roaring Brook, 2014). Peek: " engaging, humorous look at humans learning that they’re not alone in the universe."

Author blurbs also are in:

"Aliens, government coverups, bionic limbs, kooky scientists, luau pigs, conspiracy theories, and mysterious patio furniture—I don't know about you, but these are the things I look for in a great story. Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn has all of them, plus a huge dose of humor. Read it and enjoy, but be warned: You may never want to eat roast pork ever again." —Matthew Holm, co-creator of Babymouse and Squish

“Here is a story for everyone who has ever wondered if that brilliant green light was a UFO. It's for everyone who has ever imagined living on Mars. In short, it's for everyone who has ever asked the question, 'who am I, really?’ Read it, then make your reservations at the Mercury Inn. Just don’t be alarmed if you find an alien in the refrigerator."—Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor author of The Underneath

Don't miss my Q&A interview this week at The Horn Book. Peek: "...of late, I’ve become intrigued by wereorcas and Dolphins. I’ve lived a largely mid- to southwestern, landlocked life, so even though most of our world is covered by water, to me it’s as alien and fantastical as anything we’d find in fiction."

Reminder: E-volt is having a sale on Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick) for $1.99 and Feral Nights by Cynthia Leitich Smith, $2.99--discount prices will hold through April! Listen to an audio sample of Feral Nights and read a sample of Eternal.

Cheers to Dr. Sylvia Vardell on receiving the 2014 ALA-Scholastic Library Publishing Award!

Personal Links

Cynsational Events

Join Varian Johnson, Greg Leitich Smith and Jennifer Ziegler in celebrating their new middle grade novels at 2 p.m. June 14 at BookPeople in Austin.

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers will be held June 16 to June 21 at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah. Keynote speaker: James Dashner; faculty includes Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith. Learn about the WIFYR Fellowship Award. See also Alison L. Randall on Choosing a Writing Conference.

Join Cynthia Leitich Smith in discussing Feral Curse (Candlewick, 2014) with the YA Reading Club at 11 a.m. June 28 at Cedar Park Public Library in Cedar Park, Texas.

carriejones [userpic]
My tweets
by carriejones (carriejones)
at April 18th, 2014 (08:07 am)

Laura Bowers [userpic]
My tweets
by Laura Bowers (laurabowers)
at April 18th, 2014 (08:06 am)

professornana [userpic]
Words Words Words
by professornana (professornana)
at April 17th, 2014 (01:40 pm)

Current Location: home
Current Mood: scatty

Some disconnected observations today:

1. Saw an ad for the Word Whisperer. Of course, I already know the Book Whisperer, aka Donalyn Miller, so I wanted some more information. Basically, the WW is a pediatrician turned reading expert. I am thinking of a career change. Why not move from being a reading expert to a pediatrician? How hard could that be? I was once a child. I went to see the doctor. Seriously, I want to track down these folks and find out just why they believe they can advertise themselves as experts.

2. I found something in common with Ted Cruz! Calm down. Recently he declared that CCSS must go. I am on board with that totally. Not for the same reasons, of course, but the sentiment is one I can share.

3. A phrase from news this morning: "If you can't see it, you can't BE it." In a nutshell, this is why teachers need to be readers and writers. Kids need to see us read and write. Every day.

4. Headline proclaims that reading E-Books means losing out: Problems here: small sample (never mentioned how small); interactive books with widgets are not what all eBooks are; little mention of the data about comprehension. I hate to see this. Someone will pick this up, ignore all of the limitations and proclaim it fact.

Happy Wednesday!

jo_graham [userpic]
Writing History -- the process
by jo_graham (jo_graham)
at April 17th, 2014 (10:36 am)

A reader asked how I write history -- how much is real, how much is made up, and how I blend the two. That's a really complicated question! I think the most useful thing is to give an example. This is a scene from The General's Mistress, and it's one of the hardest and most complicated to write because I'm doing about six things at once.

First, this scene is a turning point in Elza's life. In her memoirs it's clear that whatever was said after she drew a veil across the scene changed not only how she viewed Bonaparte, but how she saw herself. It was that important. And yet she doesn't say exactly what was said! So I had to write the scene knowing it's pivotal for the character.

Second, this scene is hard for the reader because many readers have a very skewed picture of Bonaparte. If you're expecting the Short Ranting Man of vaudeville humor, this will completely throw you. So I have to sell an entirely different picture.

Third, it has to work as it stands for readers who are reading The General's Mistress without any of the other Numinous World books.

Fourth, it has to work for readers who are coming to it as the fourth Numinous World book.

Fifth, it has to work as a sex scene.

Sixth, it has to move the action for the rest of the book, because it changes Elza's trajectory.

So! Terribly complicated scene. Here's my "director's commentary" below. Think of it as one of those DVD extras where the director tells you what they were doing in the shot.

Elza and BonaparteCollapse )

cynleitichsmith [userpic]
readergirlz: Support Teen Literature Day & "Rock the Drop!"
by cynleitichsmith (cynleitichsmith)
at April 17th, 2014 (09:09 am)

By Melissa Walker of readergirlz
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

In conjunction with Support Teen Literature Day, top young adult authors, editors, teen lit advocates, and readers will “Rock the Drop” by leaving their books in public places for new readers to discover and enjoy.

In recognition of the readergirlz’s seventh birthday of promoting literacy and a love of reading among young women, our fans and followers are also encouraged to donate YA books (or time, or even monetary contributions) to seven very worthy literacy philanthropies.

Cyn supports Reading is Fundamental!
The groups include: First Book, The Lisa Libraries, Girls Write Now, 826 National, Room to Read, Reading is Fundamental, and World Literacy Foundation.

For this year’s Drop, we are also teaming up with Justine Magazine and I Heart Daily to help spread the world and build enthusiasm for this always-enjoyable kick off to spring reading season!

A nationwide effort of authors, publishers, librarians, educators, and readers

In its sixth year, Rock the Drop is part of a massive effort by librarians, young adult authors, educators, publishers, and avid readers to spur reading on a nationwide scale. The day aims to encourage teens to read for the fun of it.

Cyn is dropping...!

  • In past years, more than 100 young adult authors—including David Levithan, Sara Zarr, Libba Bray, Sarah Dessen, and Cynthia Leitich Smith—have “rocked the drop,” leaving copies of their books in public places for teens to find.

  • Publishing houses both “Big Six” and indie alike have donated tens of thousands of books to dedicated literacy philanthropies, in addition to rocking the drop, too.

  • Teens, librarians, teachers, and other fans of YA literature are also invited to rock the drop, on their own or as a group.

  • Participants are encouraged to donate to any of our seven suggested philanthropies – or one of their own! Post on the Readergirlz Facebook page to update us on some of your favorite worthy causes.

Operation Teen Book Drop aims to reach a large number of teen groups,” rgz diva Melissa Walker said. “We’re thrilled to be celebrating our website’s seventh birthday with this fun, festive day!”

How to support Rock the Drop:

Learn more!

About Support Teen Literature Day

In its sixth year, Support Teen Literature Day is April 17, 2014, and will be celebrated in conjunction with ALA’s National Library Week. Librarians across the country are encouraged to participate in Support Teen Literature Day by hosting events in their libraries. The celebration raises awareness that young adult literature is a vibrant, growing genre with much to offer today’s teens. Support Teen Literature Day also seeks to showcase award-winning authors and books in the genre, as well as highlight librarians’ expertise in connecting teens with books and other reading materials.

About readergirlz

Lorie's new release!
readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Award for Innovations in Reading. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy.

Launched in March 2007, in celebration of Women's National History Month, readergirlz was cofounded by acclaimed YA authors - Dia Calhoun, Lorie Ann Grover, Justina Chen, and Janet Lee Carey. Readergirlz is currently maintained by awarded YA authors - Micol Ostow, Melissa Walker, and co-founder Lorie Ann Grover.

rgz Operation Teen Book Drop has donated over 30,000 new YA books to under-served teens.

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