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Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

Take the Money and Run: Kerry Jacobson, "Book Publicist" (Victoria Strauss)
http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2014/04/take-money-and-run-kerry-jacobson-book.html

The Art of Creating Memorable Villains Whatever Your Genre (Lisa Alber)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/16/the-art-of-creating-memorable-villains-whatever-your-genre/

What FROZEN Teaches Us About Storytelling & Publishing (Stina Lindenblatt)
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2014/04/what-frozen-teaches-us-about.html

12 Keys to Connecting with Readers (Rachelle Gardner)
http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/connecting-with-readers/

How To Break Up With Your First Draft (Christine J. Schmidt)
http://litreactor.com/columns/how-to-break-up-with-your-first-draft

I Hate Nice (Mary Kole)
http://kidlit.com/2014/04/14/i-hate-nice/

Eight Steps to an Agent, a Publisher, and a Two-Book Deal (Donna Galanti)
http://writershelpingwriters.net/2014/04/eight-steps-agent-publisher-two-book-deal/

A ‘Logic Model’ for Author Success (Sharon Bially)
http://writerunboxed.com/2014/04/14/a-logic-model-for-author-success/

How to Think Like a Businessperson–Even If You Don’t Want to (Janet Kobobel Grant)
www.booksandsuch.com/blog/think-like-businessperson-even-dont-want/

The Ten Worst Pieces of Writing Advice You Will Ever Hear (and Probably Already Have) (Susan DeFreitas)
http://litreactor.com/columns/the-ten-worst-pieces-of-writing-advice-you-will-ever-hear-and-probably-already-have

The Complete Guide to Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests (Jane Friedman)
http://janefriedman.com/2014/04/11/query-letters/


If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

Cynsational News & Giveaway

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.

music thoughts


So I was in Trader Joe’s getting some stuff and this piece of pablum came on the speakers. As it percolated up through my consciousness to recognition, I found myself with one thought: I could have happily gone my entire life without hearing this song ever again. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, when music was largely a thing provided by DJs at a half-dozen or so FM radio stations in any large town, and if something made it to #6 on Billboard (as this did), it would be pretty inescapable for months on end.

People are always expected to be all nostalgiac for the top hits of their teen years, but I’m not. Maybe it’s because my teen years were a big pile of grey depression after my father died. But maybe it’s also because stuff like this was still lingering?

Folks tend to say punk was a reaction to the technical excesses of prog-rock, but honestly I find myself wondering if it was as much a reaction to this. On the other hand I went from the technical wankery of soft-rock prog into the even more technical wankery of electronic music, and occasionally love listening to music that is so technical and intricate that it cannot be played in realtime by human hands, so what do I know.

I’m rambling, my ex-with-benefits is here, and I’m not stoned. Let me fix that last. Have a good night.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.


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.

touching the puppet head

Things I did today:

  • had more of my crotch hair destroyed with a laser
  • had a tasty sammich
  • took some books back to the library (where I am sitting right now)
  • wrote a script to help avoid repeating the $6000 mistake I made with Rita book 2
  • finally wrote some scripts to automatically switch Illustrator’s workspace when I connect/disconnect my big monitor
  • fixed the spine width on the cover to Rita 1 for reprint purposes

I can probably get more stuff done but these are all a bunch of little things that needed doing. Right now I think it’s probably time to leave the library and either go home or to a cafe.

Things up for doing later today:

  • rf2014 flier (and probably style guide too)
  • work on rita p.128 or 129 (still not sure if 128 is done or not)
  • rita book 2 fixes
  • kick back and read some of the comics I’m taking out of the library today, or some of the comics scored at ECCC
  • assemble the shelves that came this morning so I have space to store my growing inventory

There’s probably some other crap I’d like to do but who knows. This is the stuff at the top of my mind.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

automation is good

So I was thinking about my mistake with missing a page out of the Rita 2 book and how to NEVER MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE AGAIN. I mean obviously I am now going to make sure to do multiple passes over my proofs, and get at least one set of eyes on them to make sanity checks for things like “there seems to be a page missing”. But the actual mistake was that I was manually editing a long list of files by hand:

Teczetherca Thur Uenu Chousun:Users:egypt:Documents:gfx:working: rita:books:2:working files:With Spot:105.ai,
Teczetherca Thur Uenu Chousun:Users:egypt:Documents:gfx:working: rita:books:2:working files:With Spot:106.ai,
Teczetherca Thur Uenu Chousun:Users:egypt:Documents:gfx:working: rita:books:2:working files:With Spot:107.ai,
Teczetherca Thur Uenu Chousun:Users:egypt:Documents:gfx:working: rita:books:2:working files:With Spot:108.ai,
Teczetherca Thur Uenu Chousun:Users:egypt:Documents:gfx:working: rita:books:2:working files:With Spot:110.ai,
Teczetherca Thur Uenu Chousun:Users:egypt:Documents:gfx:working: rita:books:2:working files:With Spot:111.ai,
Teczetherca Thur Uenu Chousun:Users:egypt:Documents:gfx:working: rita:books:2:working files:With Spot:112.ai,

I mean, can you tell at a glance that 109.ai is missing? Would you even bother to check? Making this list is a tedious thing that requires executing the same simple steps over and over without error. In other words, it’s the kind of thing that humans are really terrible at, and that computers are really good at.

Or in pictures and words…

99 of Cups: Recursion Singing "99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall" is a long and tedious task. Maybe it'd be better to automate it!

99 of Cups: Recursion
Singing “99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall” is a long and tedious task. Maybe it’d be better to automate it!

So I took my own advice and wrote a little Applescript to do this for the next book, then bundled it up into a tiny application and stuck it in the directory where all my working files for the books live. NEVER AGAIN WILL I MAKE THIS FILE BY HAND.

I mean it’s still possible for me to put the wrong files in there, but that’s a part of the process where I actually have my brain online, you know?

Here it is if you happen to want it. It pops up a file requestor to choose a directory, then outputs a CSV file with the full path to each file – exactly what InDesign wants when you use the Data Merge panel to build a book from a template.

Originally published at Egypt Urnash. You can comment here or there.

Detcon 1

Well, that's my plane booked and my flight booked for Detcon 1 in July. Just felt the need to kibbitz with some writers and, I guess, go to Detroit. As usual, it will be a solo trip.

So, if you'll be there, let me know. I'm letting you know now. You see how that works?

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

Bless Your Mechanical Heart is out!

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Just a quick reminder, my latest anthology from Evil Girlfriend Media, BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART, is out in the wild now and is getting awesome reviews. Cover art by Larry Dixon. There are some really awesome stories in this one.



I just love this cover.


 

circular
circular.
a685b2b4c54411e3865a0002c9dc1aa6_8
caged heart (rough sketch)
- design by me as requested by my cousin who wanted it done for a tattoo.

Writing, blogging, life - also JETBIKE!

I've been mostly neglecting LJ of late. Are you on Tumblr? I am! In fact, these days I mostly post there, which I often auto-cross-post to my Twitter account and my Facebook account. If Tumblr x-posted to LJ, you'd see me here a LOT more. It's all about convenience, I'm ashamed to admit, because my jobs SUCK SO MUCH TIME. Not that that's bad, mind you - I LOVE teaching, and my teaching JOB itself has been getting steadily better; I LOVE directing the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, and we have a bunch of REALLY BIG and EXCITING things about to happen (and, of course, it's always exciting); and I LOVE my writing career, which I'm finally, at long frakkin' last, TREATING like a CAREER... to the point that if my employer were to try to take that away from me, or if my day-job evolved to the point of no-time-for-writing, I would either fight to fix the problem or no longer work there. THAT's how much I've decided to dedicate myself to my writing.

Speaking of which:
  • Coming out soon is "Frederik Pohl: Mr Science Fiction (A Love Story)." Scheduled to appear in the Spring/Summer edition of Foundation: The International Review Of Science Fiction.

  • My Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop is getting close to full with a nice variety of writers. Really looking forward to this, as always! June 1 - 15.

  • As soon as I reach 1st Draft Complete on Jack & Stella, I'll dive back into short fiction. I have about three stories ready for quick revisions (HA!), ten more that need a bit more work but are worth it, and who-knows-how-many (six? ten?) in progress that I really want to get back to. Short stories are great in that they take a LOT less time per word than novels, and they'll help keep my name out there in the zeitgeist while the novels are making their way to shelves, but novels are ALL-CONSUMING. Every idea I come up with ends up in whatever book I'm currently working on. As it should be, I guess, but that means BLACK HOLE of IDEAS, and no new stories.

  • Wait, that's not true: I'm planning to develop several things that are back-story for Jack & Stella into stories of their own. Speaking of novels...

  • Just about ready to submit Empire Ship. It's done (and has been for a while), but I wasn't happy with some things - worked it out! I figured I'd just hold off until I had a draft of Jack & Stella, and fixed Empire Ship to my satisfaction, then submit them both together... speaking of which:

  • And I've reached another milestone on The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella: Just crested 80,000 words! That's up nearly 6000 in the past ten days, and all that word-count is brand-new in the past year... in fact, pretty much all of it is new in 2014, as I started over at the beginning at about 30,000 words when I realized it just wasn't working. Ah, the joys of novel-writing.



And now, because this is both inspiring and INSANE, I share OMG DANGEROUS JETBIKE MANIAC:


(Yes, I want to do this. Only I'll wear a helmet, thank you, and do a MUCH better job of engineering a proper bike platform. Are you hearing this, MadMatMax? Nevertheless, I'M IN LOVE. And now a subscriber of his.)

More like this:



Aw, yeah.

Chris

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