You are viewing rhcrayon

Friends

Apr. 23rd, 2014

08:26 am - Book Trailer: Don't Call Me Baby! by Gwendolyn Heasley

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the book trailer for Don't Call Me Baby! by Gwendolyn Heasley (HarperTeen, 2014). From the promotional copy:

All my life, I've been known as the girl on that blog.

Do you know what it's like for everyone to think they know you because of what they read on some stupid website? My mother has been writing an incredibly popular, and incredibly embarrassing, blog about me since before I was born.

The thing is, I'm fifteen now, and she is still blogging about me. In gruesome detail.


You can read my life as my mom tells it on mommyliciousmeg.com. But this story is my actual life and about what happened when my BFF Sage and I decided to tell the real truth about our lives under a virtual microscope. Thanks for reading . . . Just don't call me Babylicious.

Apr. 22nd, 2014

07:20 am - Guest Post: Guadalupe Garcia McCall on Writing & Teaching Poetry

By Guadalupe Garcia McCall
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

I love poetry, but not like other people love poetry. No.

I mean, I love poetry.

But it's not that I just love it, I think I actually need it. Just as nourishment, and sunlight, and oxygen sustain me—Poetry sustains me. Just as religion, and family, and nature center me—Poetry centers me. Just as writing, and reading, and teaching fulfill me—Poetry fulfills me.

One of my favorite things to do in my classroom is to bring in the poetry.

I love to share great poetry, like "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes, "Patterns" by Amy Lowell, and many, many more greatly beloved gems from literature.

However, I also love to share my own poetry with my students. It makes the lesson more valid when I ask them to write, and they see that I am not asking anything of them that I don't ask of myself.

One of my favorite ways to sneak it in poetry is by tying it in with something that's part of my curriculum. It's actually the only way I get away with it these days...oh, how I long for a creative writing class where I can really cut loose and teach the art of writing, but that's a blog for another day!

I recently wrote a poem called, "With a Machete, My Father," from the point of view of the character of Nwoye in the novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958). It wasn't anything spectacular or mind blowing. It was quite a simple little poem, really, but with that one little poem, I taught point of view, poetic structure (including the "twist" at the end) and figurative language like imagery, symbolism, foreshadowing, personification, simile, etc.

As a follow up, I asked students to write a response poem to Nwoye from any other character's point of view in the novel. They really got into the assignment, it was like we were having a dialogue on paper—a poem from them in response to a poem from me in another character's point of view.

Complex and challenging, but fun and uniquely their own!

That's what poetry is for me, and that's what I want my students to discover—a unique, fun way to involve themselves and address poetry in a natural way, a way that speaks about their point of view as they explore literature, nature (including human nature), and life.

Here's a look at that little poem for those of who are interested:



"With a Machete, My Father"

Cut him down, severed the tie
That pulls a man away from himself.

So that he might be seen as
Strong, my father ended my brother’s life.

Ikemefuna’s voice called out.
For help he called, confused, bewildered.

Sunlight filtered through the leaves
of our forest, like an ancestral spirit, witnessing.

It glinted off his blade. Metal moved
quick as lightning, loud as thunder, wet as rain.

I did not see Ikemefuna in death, but I
Felt his shadow walking quietly behind my father.

When he entered his obi, my father
Did not speak, but sat down to drink palm wine.

I know why Okonkwo mourns.
It must be hard, to lose two sons in one day.

Guadalupe Garcia McCall, February 2014



Another one of my favorite ways to share, discuss, and explore poetry is to bring in excerpts from a small collection of nature poems I have entitled, "On Prairie Road."

I've been working on this collection for years. It's nowhere near finished, and I suspect I won't ever be finished with it because these poems come to me when I least expect them. They are little moments of truth that just hit me when I sit on my porch or meander around my property to stir and wake the poetic voice.

They are bits of life, mine and the world around me, and thus, I suspect, they will always be a work in progress.

I use these short little nature poems, these visceral snapshots, to teach theme.

I give my students a handout with three or four poems from the collection. I never know which ones I'll use because I always try to tie them in with the literature we are reading at the time.

When I first ask students to read them, it's a cold read, not really tied in to the book or story we're working with.

"Just read," I say. "Try to figure out what it means...what the poet was thinking...why she wrote it."

(I usually don't tell them I wrote the poems unless they ask if they are mine. Then I don't lie, I say, "Yes, it's part of something I'm working on," and we move on to the lesson).

After they do the cold read, I ask them to think about theme: What is the message behind the poems, what is the author trying to tell you about life? We discuss the first one together; we stir the mud using the well known SIFT strategy (Symbols, Imagery, Figurative Language, and Theme) to try to get to the bottom of it. When we all agree on a theme, we write it down beside the poem, quoting textual evidence, of course, to tie it to the novel/story we are reading.

Next, I ask a student to read the second poem to the class. This time, they talk to their elbow partner and try to SIFT through the poem together to find the theme. When everyone has a theme written down, we share and try to come to consensus as to the theme that best relates to the novel/story.

As a third stage of the lesson, the students read the last poem by themselves, SIFT through the poem, find a theme of their own and relate it to the novel/story.

As a follow up, students write their own nature poems to try to relate the theme of the novel/story we are reading to the class.

Once again, we have that dialogue on paper, that back and forth sharing of point of view and ideas between author, teacher, and students—only this time they see that they can find courage and wisdom in nature, and in their own observations of nature and the world around them, to make connections to the text.

This lesson always works because most nature poems are universal enough to fit any novel or story. I can usually find several to match whatever literary piece we are reading at the time.

Before I started writing my own, I used a number of nature poems I loved, anything from well known nature poets like Edna St. Vincent Millay to contemporary poets like Wendy Barker was food for my classroom.

In any event, here are the three poems I used with Things Fall Apart for those of you who might be interested:



"On the Grass"
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Two eager grackles walk on stilts.
Raven heads held high. Their golden
Eyes astute, foraging for generous
Seeds to feast upon.

Then, a grub worm, fat and slippery,
Clutched in a black bird’s claw, ripped apart,
Torn open, devoured by one who knows
Its creamy, yellow guts are more substantial.



"Along the Barbed Wire Fence"
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

An oak has matured. Its golden heart
Pierced by the barbed wires of the
Barricade it has engulfed. Four lines of
Barbaric fencing, swallowed up, imprisoned

Within one hundred rings of bark. The
Anchoring posts push, pull, tug with
The passing seasons, but the oak is stoic,
Unmoved, its heavy trunk incorrigible.



"Across the Road"
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Cows migrate in unison, slowly, quietly,
Plowing against the forceful rains. Heads
Hung low, shoulders determined,
Eyes to the ground, as if in prayer.

They do not wait for the waters to rise,
The lip of the creek to curl up cynically,
Swallow them up, drag them downstream,
They walk steadily, calmly, don’t look back.



Using poetry, our own or anybody else's, to make connections within and across texts is a fun, easy way to expose students to poetry and its value—not only in literature but also in life.

Exposing students to poetry, its depth and beauty, its relationship to the world we inhabit and the way we live and learn, is one of the best things we can do for our students. It goes beyond educating them—hopefully, it leads them to a love of poetry and a true appreciation of it.

Who's to say? It might even someday sustain them.

Cynsational Notes

Guadalupe Garcia McCall is the author of Under the Mesquite (Lee & Low, 2011), a novel in verse. Under the Mesquite received the prestigious Pura Belpre Author Award, was a William C. Morris Finalist and received the Ellen Hopkins Promising Poet Award, the Tomas Rivera Children’s Book Award, and was included in Kirkus Reviews’ Best Teen Books of 2011 among many other honors and accolades.

Her second novel, Summer of the Mariposas (Tu, 2012), won a Westchester Young Adult Fiction Award, was an Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Finalist, and was included in the 2013 Amelia Bloomer Project List, the Texas Lone Star Reading List, and the 2012 School Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year.

Her poems for adults have appeared in more than twenty literary journals across the country and abroad, and her poems for children are included in The Poetry Friday Anthology (2012), The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School (2013), and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science (2014), all by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.

Guadalupe was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. She immigrated with her family to the United States when she was six years old and grew up in Eagle Pass, Texas (the setting of both her novels and most of her poems).

She is currently a high school English teacher in the San Antonio area and lives in Somerset with her husband, Jim, two (of three) sons, Steven and Jason, two dogs (Baxter and Blanca), and one cat (Luna).

07:29 am - YOU DO NOT GET TO SIT ON THE SIDELINES OF LIFE AND BITCH ABOUT THE WAY SOMONE ELSE VOLUNTEERS!!!!

Originally published at Kimberly Sabatini. You can comment here or there.

I can’t help it. It seems that no matter how hard I try, I have the same rant about volunteerism every year. Mostly it’s the people standing next to me at a soccer field, a dance recital, a free writing event, a PTA endeavor or a community hoopla that have to hear me bitch about it. But today I decided to take it to the blog. Lucky you. I apologize ahead of time for speaking so loudly, but this one makes me yell…

 

 

iStock_000015386103Small

This Rant is Entitled…Don’t be an Ass!

 

 

UNLESS THERE IS GROSS NEGLIGENCE INVOLVED OR DELIBERATE CRUELTY OF SOME KIND. YOU DO NOT GET TO SIT ON THE SIDELINES OF LIFE AND BITCH ABOUT THE WAY SOMONE ELSE VOLUNTEERS!!!! IF YOU DON’T LIKE HOW SOMONE ELSE IS DONATING THEIR TIME AND EFFORT FOR FREE YOU HAVE THREE REASONABLE OPTIONS…

1. YOU MAY BECOME A VOLUNTEER AND DO A “BETTER” JOB. (BE PREPARED BECAUSE SOMEONE IS GOING TO BITCH ABOUT WHAT YOU DO, NO MATTER HOW MUCH OF YOUR HEART AND SOUL AND TIME YOU DONATE.)

2. YOU CAN BITCH, MOAN, WHINE AND COMPLAIN ALL YOU WANT TO IN YOUR HEAD WHERE NO ONE ELSE CAN HEAR YOU.

3. YOU CAN STAY HOME AND WATCH REALITY TV.

As we all crawl out of our winter holes of isolation, I’d like to make a preemptive attempt at saying thank you to all the people who volunteer and make my life better. Your volunteerism usually impacts more than just yourself–it effects your family also. That is so kind of you and your loved ones. You get less sleep, have more stress and your charitable efforts cut into your free time. I know I’m not perfect. Sometimes I think before I speak, but I want you to know that it’s wrong. I know I better. I will remind myself to PUT UP OR SHUT UP!

Please use the comments on this blog to right the karmic balance. Give a shout out to some of the most amazing volunteers you know. And please do your part to stop the madness. Not only should our motto be PUT UP OR SHUT UP, but we shouldn’t stand on the sidelines and allow others to trash those who are stepping up. If speaking up isn’t your thing, you can always use the Jedi Mind trick to gently shame the blabber mouths. Defend the volunteers you must.

Apr. 21st, 2014

11:50 am - For local folks: An opportunity to hear really good poetry

I am fortunate to be friends with several truly amazing poets. One of them is Dan Maguire, a former South Jerseyan who now lives in the Baltimore area. Dan is a fine poet, and also truly great at reading his poems. He will be the featured poet tonight at the Barnes & Noble on Route 70 in Marlton, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

In light of my ongoing dizziness (and therefore my inability to drive), I will not be able to make it to Dan's reading tonight, but those of you who have been privileged to hear Dan before (or who trust my taste in poetry - a smaller group, no doubt) will want to hear Dan read if it's at all possible.



Site Meter

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: You Found Me by The Fray (brainradio)

08:29 am - Guest Post: Author-Editor Deborah Halverson on Setting, Wherefore Art Thou?

By Deborah Halverson
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

When Cynthia graciously invited me to write a guest post for her blog, she asked if there was a particular writing craft item on my mind. Indeed, there is. And its color is blue.

Blue screen, that is. The kind they use in movie making when they film actors against a blank blue screen and then Cg in the background.

During a blue-screen shoot, the cameras capture the characters delivering their dialogue and action, but they don’t capture the setting. There is none. It’s just blue nothingness.

The scene doesn’t come fully alive until the special effects people go in and add the setting. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about something I call “bluescreening” in young adult manuscripts.

I’ve been editing teen/tween manuscripts for more than fifteen years, acting as a bridge between writers and their readers, doing my best to ensure that the story the writer wants to tell is the story that reaches her readers.

In the last few years, I’ve noticed an increasing dearth of setting in the manuscripts crossing my desk. Writers are focusing on voice and plot and character arcs, and on fresh, marketable hooks—and rightly so, as these are all integral storytelling elements.

But our poor little friend, Setting . . . she’s barely there. Such a powerful storytelling tool, yet so overlooked of late. Why? What’s happened? Where did setting go?

These days writers are working their tails off to satisfy the increasingly strong call for action and faster-paced plots, with an accompanying call for characters who can shoulder that.

In the process, setting—the quiet workhorse of stories—is being short-changed. The characters are dropped in a location—a room, a park, wherever—and then it’s “Onward, ho!” to the action and the dialogue.

Where’s the sense of place? Where’s the feeling that this scene could happen nowhere else but here? Where’s the full reading experience?

Too often, I feel like I’m watching a movie for which the special affects crew has forgotten to generate the background, leaving the characters walking and talking in front of that vast blue nothingness.

That’d be a pretty big boo-boo in a feature film, wouldn’t it? So, too, in a novel.

Think about the YA/middle grade novels we love.

Without setting, we wouldn’t have Beetle’s warm, moiling dung heap sheltering us from the frosty night in Karen Cushman’s Newbery Medal-winning The Midwife’s Apprentice (Clarion, 1995).

We wouldn’t have the terrifying frozen beauty of The North in Philip Pullman’s bestseller The Golden Compass (Knopf, 2006).

We wouldn’t have Kathi Appelt’s National Book Award Finalist The Underneath at all (Atheneum, 2008).

We need setting in our stories. We need the richness that makes up setting, the sensual engagement that can only come from hearing the crunch of frosty grass under the protagonist’s bare feet, or feeling the sudden whispery kiss of a spider’s web dangling from the eaves. We’d just have a girl walking across a lawn and a creepy old house. Where’s the joy in that?

The lovely thing is, lack of setting is an easy boo-boo to fix. And when you bang that nail into place, the overall effect on the manuscript is substantial.

If you write teen/tween novels, take a look at your current work-in-progress. Is it all action and dialogue? Or have you given us enough sensory detail to fill out the space around the characters?

I’m not saying go all Henry James on your audience. Heavens, no! Few can stomach such long-winded descriptions of setting. Certainly not your average teen reader.

Instead of describing or simply naming your setting, show your character interacting with elements of it, manipulating those elements or reacting to them. Give us the sounds and smells and textures and temperatures and sensations that distinguish that particular place by having your character hearing them, smelling them, and feeling them.

Along the way, you will enrich your entire story because:

* setting influences and illuminates characterization

Imagine one character finding solace in the songs of mockingbirds on a flower-covered (and floral-scented) mountaintop, while his friend hunkers under a freeway overpass and loses himself in the sounds of the traffic, the vibrations of the ground, and the fumes of a world too busy to notice him.

* setting figures directly into plot

A dingy, mud-caked window screen blocks a character’s view of a fight outside. He faces a choice: ignore the fight, or leave the safety of his house to watch it—or to stop it.

* setting influences characters’ word choice

Trip-slipping on the gritty asphalt crumbs of a dilapidated road blurred by heat waves…. Tromping through biting snowdrifts…. Both can put foul words into the mouths of saints!

* setting affects pacing and tension

Compare the discomfort of feeling the flesh of strangers’ arms, shoulders, even cheeks, as a character shoves through a busy train station with the caress of a cool breeze on the character’s cheek as he wiggles his toes into the powdery sand of an empty beach.

* setting provides subtext and ambiance

Catholic school vs. public school, anyone? Oh, the sensory details that distinguish each of those settings.

Above all, characters need a sense of place to know how to behave. Don’t just give them somewhere to be; show how that particular place influences their mood and actions. You chose that setting for a reason, mine it so that readers can feel that sense of place for themselves.

For your audience, a rich setting is the difference between watching characters and being there with them. For you, it means more meaningful and satisfying scenes. Improving your use of setting is a win-win deal—and that’s certainly nothing to feel blue about.

Cyn & Deborah with her sons
Cynsational Notes

This post was originally published in June 2010. Past posts will be sprinkled into the schedule for the duration of Cyn's revision deadline.

Deborah Halverson is the award-winning author of the teen novels Honk If You Hate Me (2007) and Big Mouth (2008)(both Delacorte/Random House) as well as Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies (Wiley), Letters to Santa (available via the USPS) and Cyber World, Meltdown and Robotic World (Rubicon's REMIX series).

She edited picture books and teen novels for Harcourt Books for ten years before leaving to write books full-time.

Deborah lives with her husband and triplet sons in San Diego, California, where she also runs her writers’ advice website Dear-Editor.com and freelance edits fiction and nonfiction for both published authors and writers seeking their first book deals.

Apr. 20th, 2014

10:50 am - A Spring Explosion from Peepy, James Thurber and Moi

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of staying at Thurber House, where humorist/author James Thurber spent part of his youth.

 photo IMG_5861_zps22380e63.jpg

It was a homecoming of sorts for me, having been the 2007 Thurber House Children's Writer-in-Residence. It was so wonderful to see my old friends (as in I've known them for seven years) Pat Shannon and Meg Brown . . .

 photo IMG_5901_zps1e85b88c.jpg

I stayed in the attic apartment, and since Pat had gifted me with a pack of purple marshmallow Peeps, it was only fitting that I blow them up in the microwave -- with an assist from James Thurber and Peepy . . .

 photo IMG_5868_zpsd8ff52fc.jpg  photo IMG_5947_zpsea967314.jpg

But first, this. Near Thurber House, in the Germantown section for Columbus, OH, is a most marvelous used/new bookstore, The Book Loft.
 photo IMG_5905_zps649f07cb.jpg  photo IMG_5908_zps92d8761d.jpg  photo IMG_5910_zps649df18a.jpg  photo IMG_5915_zps79ba19ca.jpg  photo IMG_5919_zps454cb049.jpg  photo IMG_5920_zps9c10b1f7.jpg  photo IMG_5906_zps0937ff34.jpg  photo IMG_5918_zps415b7841.jpg  photo IMG_5907_zps4da316d0.jpg  photo IMG_5909_zps105dfbfd.jpg  photo IMG_5912_zpsc643f1c2.jpg

And here's Thurber House . . .

 photo IMG_5923_zps3f3cfdd9.jpg  photo IMG_5938_zps1124e0f0.jpg  photo IMG_5928_zpse58b56d8.jpg  photo IMG_5937_zps63409c9d.jpg  photo IMG_5929_zps39da4ab9.jpg  photo IMG_5921_zps1845b304.jpg  photo IMG_5940_zpsc24a0098.jpg  photo IMG_5936_zpse7bc999d.jpg

 photo IMG_5872_zpsb7ae2ad9.jpg  photo IMG_5870_zpsbbb2bc09.jpg  photo IMG_5869_zps1bc7fbb3.jpg  photo IMG_5871_zps1323c285.jpg  photo IMG_5866_zpscd643491.jpg

Here are some of the authors who have visited Thurber House . . .

 photo IMG_5873_zps1eb722af.jpg  photo IMG_5867_zpsda2253d7.jpg  photo IMG_5875_zps27e592c2.jpg  photo IMG_5875_zps27e592c2.jpg  photo IMG_5876_zps05135f57.jpg  photo IMG_5878_zps9ea18fb7.jpg  photo IMG_5879_zpsa31ba7d5.jpg  photo IMG_5877_zps79d6e346.jpg

Now, in honor of Easter Peeps and Spring and whatnot, there's this . . .

 photo IMG_5947_zpsea967314.jpg  photo IMG_5948_zps0ece151d.jpg  photo IMG_5949_zps44679687.jpg  photo IMG_5950_zps245f02ab.jpg  photo IMG_5952_zps7e62a9cc.jpg  photo IMG_5953_zps8ce9d0e6.jpg  photo IMG_5956_zps13a021ac.jpg  photo IMG_5957_zps7753f7e0.jpg  photo IMG_5959_zps363ca916.jpg  photo IMG_5960_zps42de632b.jpg  photo IMG_5961_zps65180626.jpg  photo IMG_5962_zps4a060869.jpg

Want to see a video of Peeps being blown up in the microwave? Here's one!



===========================

Oh, look! If you'd like an autographed book, order from Vroman's, tell them who you'd like me to sign it to, and they will mail it to you!"

Photobucket

Shop Indie Bookstores

Disclaimer: No proofreaders were harmed (or even used) in the creation of this blog.

Want to check out Lisa's NEW AND IMPROVED website? Simply CLICK HERE.

Interested in having Lisa speak at your school, library or conference? CLICK HERE for more information.

Lisa Yee
Follow LisaYee1 on Twitter



Google Groups

Subscribe to Lisa Yee's Blog and get her fresh baked blogs e-mailed to you!

Email:


Or you can click this for a RSS feed...http://www.wikio.com




Site Meter

Apr. 17th, 2014

07:27 am - Rock the Drop TODAY!


Rock the Drop 2014

Operation Teen Book Drop 2014 is being held TODAY!

readergirlz started this event seven years ago, and it is held annually in April, on Support Teen Literature Day. Feel free to share the banner (above) at your blog and on social media, then print out copies of the bookplate (below). Slap the bookplates in your favorite YA books and leave the books in public spaces for lucky readers to discover.
Want to join in the fun? Here's how you can get involved:

* Follow @readergirlz on Twitter and tweet #rockthedrop
* Print a copy of the bookplate and insert it into a book (or 10!) On April 17th, drop a book in a public spot (park bench, bus seat, restaurant counter?) Lucky finders will see that the book is part of ROCK THE DROP!
(If you think people won't pick up the book, slap a Post-It or note on the front cover that reads, "Take this book - IT'S FREE!" Bonus points for using recycled paper and/or making your own funky design!)
* Post the banner at your blog and social networks. Proclaim that you will ROCK THE DROP!
* Snap a photo of your drop and post it at the readergirlz Facebook page. Then tweet the drop at #rockthedrop with all the other lovers of YA books.

Visit our blog, Facebook page, and Twitter for more news and pictures before, during, and after the event!

Here's the bookplate - save, print, and paste.

Rock the Drop 2014

Thank you to everyone who participates and supports the event! Remember, ANYONE may participate. If you miss the drop on Thursday, no worries - drop a book tomorrow or this weekend, and share and donate books whenever and wherever you can!

Current Mood: busybusy
Current Music: Orphan Black score music

Apr. 18th, 2014

12:17 pm - Poetry Friday: The Messenger by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird - equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth
and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all,
over and over, how it is that we live forever.

- The Messenger by Mary Oliver

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

Current Mood: artisticartistic
Current Music: Orphan Black score music

09:46 am - From the notebooks

I'm moving offices at work, which means I'm sorting through and packing up a bunch of stuff. I came across the following page of notes from May 2006, which are curiously context-free, although I'm pretty sure they were written about the Virtual Center licensing server:


After the grace period expires, there is no more grace.

Actually, there wasn't that much to begin with.

08:53 am - Cynsational News & Giveaway

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
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 Kidlit.com. 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: "...an 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.

Navigate: (Previous 10 Friends)