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Friday Five

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! http://www.amazon.com/Earrings-Ixtumea-Kim-Baccellia-ebook/dp/B007OUHYH6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397858512&sr=8-1&keywords=earrings+of+ixtumea+MuseItUp+Publishing

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 Starbucks.com

Geeks & exclusion as default

Foz Meadows wrote an interesting piece on female geeks and being excluded by default. Which brought to mind a game a friend of mine got last month called "Geek Battle." It's more or less Trivial Pursuit, except that your categories are things like comics, video games, science, and "geek life." (I can't remember what geek life is supposed to look like, although I think one of the questions in this category was about the color of caffeine?)

This is a really fun game to play, actually, if you play it with people who you're on a similar footing with -- my roleplaying group was pretty well-matched although some of us could remember the early days of arcade games better than others. But if you play it for long enough, it's very apparent that it's reifying a canon of "geek" that's centered on a geek culture that has been really exclusionary.

It asks you to name Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and Monty Python movies and Douglas Adams novels and Kurt Vonnegut novels; heck, I don't remember one question about manga or anime, and that's certainly as "mainstream geek" as old arcade games. Someone whose experience of being a geek came from reading Ursula LeGuin and Octavia Butler and watching wuxia movies would have been shut out.

If you look at the dust-up over whether you can be a "real fan" without reading or appreciating Heinlein, I think ... a lot of people are really invested in a definition of "geek," or "fan," that means we all have the same common reference points. And those common reference points are really important to people, or at least, that's the only plausible explanation for people who insist on quoting and requoting Monty Python long after it's stopped being funny. (They're important to me, too, or I wouldn't have gone to see Thor 2, which I thought was a pretty bad movie but showed up just enough on Tumblr that I felt I was missing out by not seeing it.) But it's not an accident that those common reference points usually end up being things that are made by white guys, you know? And then people end up recycling a canon of "mainstream geek culture" with lots of the diversity filed off.

I'll keep playing Geek Battle. I have fun when I play it. But it sucks that it plays into the idea that some people are better than others at being geeks, and it sucks that it puts a veneer of objectivity onto a really subjective, and biased, vision of what a "real geek" should know.

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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!

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.



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.

Five on Friday (the tulip version)...

For boreal_owl :)

2
Amazing spring weather right now -- we just hope it lasts through next Saturday (D's b-day celebration with his friends)!

4
I don't know how I always manage to forget the school crazy-ness for the last 5-6 weeks of school...but it's here, and it's stressing us all out! :( We have choir concerts, school programs, talent shows, 5-K run, parties, continuation -- good grief! We won't so much rejoice when June comes but collapse in piles of exhausted goo, I fear...

7
I still have about five days of spring break left (I have to work Saturday, sadly) -- and I plan to use them well! I'm hiking with friends on Monday, and I'm going to spend some hours today writing (yay)...plus tons of family on Easter Sunday (of course).

9
How about them Avs? (DH and I went to the big Avs' parade the last time they won the Cup...13 years ago?)

plant (Um, I'm aware these aren't tulips, but there are five of them :D)
I'm thinking of inviting all D's friends' families over after the b-day celebration...I'm soooo not a social person, but this is their last year of all being together, and it feels momentous. I can handle it, right?

Happy Easter weekend!

Five Things on a Friday



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

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.

Draft: "Natural"

Upcoming this quarter, my final is directing a short film with professional actors. We had the option to write our own script, so, of course, I did that.

It's somewhat in the vein, thematically and plot-wise, of my "How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps" (Scigentasy, March 2014) -- trans* identity, relationships, robots. This has a different tonal quality and is much more verbal (and more direct/contained). It's doing things I want and saying things I need to say (and keep saying).

I'm hoping it works, as I have about a week to get it polished up and submitted for approval. But. Draft, you know? :D

Title: Natural
Date: 4/17/14
Length: 5 pages
Draft: first
Genre: soft SF
Favorite bit so far: the fact I wrote a short script (again!) within the guidelines and am pretty happy with the result. 

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