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Article: How to Be a Better Bridesmaid

Yahoo! wanted personal reflections on how to be a better bridesmaid. Here's mine.

How to Be a Better Bridesmaid (Whether She's Your Sister Or Not)



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.

I'm not terribly surprised by who's going home this week. The reasons why are in my recap.

'American Idol' Recap: Back to 'Bama for Country Singer

Hey, Want Some Duplo Blocks?

Please take a moment on this beautiful Friday to "like" my video, "Cleaning Robot." You get a chance to win DUPLO gear, if you like, afterwards. If the video is in the Top 3 this week, KFP can win $150 worth of Duplo sets!

Link: http://www.duploplay.com/1/mypage/131

BTW, thanks for all the support in the Baby Steps video competition. While I didn't win the audience prize, the judges did award me third place, which was a $500 cash prize that we intend to put towards KFP's preschool tuition this year.

Please boost the signal!


Today's prompt is to write a poem about yourself as others might see you.

NaPoWriMo Prompt – Day 18 (Beautiful Stranger)

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.

LiveJournal not affected by Heartbleed


Dear users,

As you might have heard, a major vulnerability in SSL (the secure channel used for HTTPS) has been detected recently. As many as two thirds of internet sites were affected, including social networks and major web sites.

We are happy to confirm that LiveJournal is not vulnerable and has not been affected at all.

Meanwhile, in the past 12 months we have been working hard to deploy many security features to protect user data.

Nevertheless, even though LiveJournal was not affected by the Heartbleed bug, changing your password is still a good idea, especially if you use similar passwords on other sites whose data may have been compromised. If you haven't changed your password in the last year, we recommend that you do so now.

Helping judge the Teen Poetry Slam at the Lansdowne Public Library inspired today's prompt.

NaPoWriMo Prompt – Day 17 (Spoken Word)



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Novels by Phil Giunta

BY YOUR SIDE (March 2013)
You're all alone here, alone among the dead.

While haunted by visions of her brother's suicide,
psychic-medium Miranda Lorensen is called to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to investigate a series of bizarre deaths—some of which are also suicides. Miranda and her team of paranormal investigators quickly find themselves confronted by a vengeful spirit awakened thirty-three years after a bloody family tragedy. Miranda realizes that only she can stop the entity before it claims its final victims, but will her obsession for saving lives redeem her for the brother she failed?


TESTING THE PRISONER(March 2010)
A paranormal tale of child abuse and redemption.

Daniel Masenda thought he had made peace with his dark past when he left his home for a better life fourteen years ago. As the mayor of a small, tranquil town along Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Daniel has everything he ever wanted - until a series of haunting visions, coupled with the death of his estranged mother, pits him against two ghostly entities at war with one another. Each has its own agenda as they force Daniel to relive moments from his violent youth and push him to the edge of insanity. As his idyllic life begins to unravel, will he be able to decipher the message behind the hauntings before they destroy, not only him, but the soul of someone he left behind?

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