Writing Heroes: Cynthia Leitich Smith

For a long time now, Angela and I have wanted a way to acknowledge the people who have helped us develop into stronger writers and who add to the writing community as a whole. As a new feature here at The Bookshelf Muse, we will take turns giving well-deserved recognition to some of the people who really make an impact…people who truly are Writing Heroes. People like


Looking at this author’s accomplishments and all that she does, I think we may need to rename this feature “Writing Superheroes.” Her blog was named one of two most read blogs by the SCBWI, and Writer’s Digest declared her website one of the top ten writer sites on the Internet. As if that wasn’t enough, her website contains this totally awesome Childrens and YA Literature Resources page, with links to state and national awards criteria, author and illustrator interviews, and bibliographies sorted by age group and theme, to name just a few incredible resources.

When you look at these treasure troves, you have to kind of think that no mere human could possibly accomplish so much. Which is why I’m pretty sure she’s got some secret superpowers that enable her to watch over and come to the rescue of the global writing community.

Superhero Power #1
Cynthia’s knowledge of what’s happening in the industry is, frankly, astounding. Through her blog and website, she shares information on grants, contests, and literature awards in numerous countries. Clearly, she has some kind of previously undiscovered POWER OVER TIME AND SPACE to know so much about so much happening in so many places.

Superhero Power #2
Once a week, Cynthia releases a feature on her blog called Cynsational News and Giveaways. This feature comes out every Friday, and is chock full of links that writers all over the globe are bookmarking left and right. I dare you to read this feature and NOT come away with either a new blog/author to follow or some priceless bit of information that you didn’t know before. Each week’s entry includes links on a variety of subjects, including

  • the craft of writing
  • editor and agent info
  • literacy issues
  • marketing and publicity for authors
  • upcoming writing courses and classes in various locations

This is just a smattering of what she shares. I can’t cover it all because I simply don’t possess the MAD HACKING SKILLZ she must have to find all of this good stuff.

Superhero Power #3
I’ve never seen someone so generous in her willingness to increase exposure for other authors. Through interviews and giveaways, she is constantly providing new and returning authors the opportunity to plug their books. In this way, the Grinch is probably her Supervillain, and she’d easily defeat him via her SUPER-SIZED HEART.

Magnificent! you say. Truly, she is a superhero! And yes, you’re right. But the most amazing part comes when you look at her credentials:

  • New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author
  • Published author of countless books, including YA novels, picture books, works of fiction and non-fiction, short stories, essays, and a graphic novel
  • Award-winning blogger
  • Instructor
  • God only knows what else

Looking at this list, you realize that, by many peoples’ standards, Cynthia has already “arrived.” Yet, she’s still giving back so much of her time, energy, and knowledge. This is what makes her a superhero in my book.

So, thank you Cynthia, for being one of my WRITING HEROES. You inspire me, woman!

To pay it forward, I will give a 1000 word critique to Cynthia. She can then choose to keep it for herself or offer it as a giveaway on her blog! As a resident writing hero, she will also have a permanent link in our header.

So tell me Musers…do you know Cynthia? Has she helped you or your writing in some way? Please tell us in the comments and help celebrate this amazing WRITING HERO!  


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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Julie Hedlund
8 years ago

So glad you featured Cynthia! I am a long-time subscriber of her blog, and I am never NOT amazed at how much she does for the kidlit community and for KIDS!

Christina Farley
8 years ago

What a great series! Yes! Cynthia is a wealth of information. I’m so thankful for her blog.

Shannon O'Donnell
8 years ago

Such an excellent choice! Cynthia is a wonderful advocate for other writers!! 🙂

RD Meyer
8 years ago

Cynthia sounds amazing. Thanks for turning me on to her blog!

8 years ago

Thank you for the nudge about Cynthia’s blog. Yes, I have followed it regularly in the past. But with all the bogs out there I got behind. Now I know why I should return. Thank you for the reminder.

Joy Moore

Rachna Chhabria
8 years ago

I have heard of Cynthia. Its really generous of her to help other writers all over the world by sharing a wealth of information on her blog.

Angela Ackerman
8 years ago

@Martha–thank you! You are so sweet! Will be over asap.

It is awesome to hear how Cynthia has helped all of you, and to know that a few new people are going to be checking her out as a result of this post. Cynthia’s site is a huge resource, and don’t forget to find her on Twitter as well–she always tweets great industry news and writerly info. And of course there’s a ton to learn from reading her amazing books–Cynthia is hugely prolific, giving you lots to choose from.

Have a great week, everyone, and thanks for commenting! 🙂

Andrea Mack
8 years ago

What a great choice for a writing hero! Cynsations is an awesome resource.

8 years ago

I’ve only a read a couple of her books but she really knows how to create a story. I didn’t know about all of her superpowers and I think it’s really great when authors help out other ones. I am going to check out her website now! Thanks for sharing 🙂

Rosemary Gemmell
8 years ago

Thanks so much for bringing Cynthia to our attention – I’m off to bookmark and follow her site right now!

Lupe Ruiz-Flores
8 years ago

I am thrilled to see my fellow Texan on your blog. I just saw Cynthia at the Austin SCBWI conference this past Saturday. She generously offers support and inspiration to writers. I am honored to know her.

Leslie Rose
8 years ago

Love this series. Meeting valuable new friends.

Lisa Gail Green
8 years ago

I am horribly embarrassed to say I don’t know Cynthia!!! *slaps self* I must rectify this!

Martha Ramirez
8 years ago

Angela and Becca, I nominated you for the Liebster blog award. :-}


Martha Ramirez
8 years ago

She sounds like a keeper. 🙂

Angela Brown
8 years ago

I’ve heard of Cynthia but I hadn’t made it to her blog. Now, that’s been corrected!

Traci Kenworth
8 years ago

Another to follow!! Thanks!!

Lenny Lee*
8 years ago

hi miss becca! neat idea to do stuff on writing heros. for sure miss cynthia is a superhero! yikes! she knows soooo much. i like that she encourages writers. im gonna go get to know her at her blog. thanks for a cool post.
…hugs from lenny

8 years ago

Yes! Cynthia gave me tremendous encouragement at a conference years ago when I was feeling really down. Then she later gave me a truly constructive critique that helped my writing grow so much! Her site is also an amazing resource for writers!

E.M. Kokie
8 years ago

Cynthia is generous with her time, her enthusiasm, her experience and herself. Her Friday round up blog posts have become a staple for me – a quick and easy way to see if I missed anything interesting in the previous week (and often the answer is yes). But as Jo said, she is also extremely supportive of other writers – whether in helping to shine a spotlight on someone just breaking in with a debut novel, or leading a workshop for those still trying to get there. Her positive, but realistic, encouragement has helped many. What a wonderful idea to shine a little light back her way. 🙂

Beth Stilborn
8 years ago

Cynthia is very definitely superhero material. Excellent choice!

Tammi Sauer
8 years ago

Love that Cynthia. 🙂

Her generosity toward the people in this business is unparalleled.

Cynthia Watson
8 years ago

Cynthia’s was the first “writer’s blog” I stumbled upon about three years ago, when I first began pursing my path to publication. How lucky was that?

All the best from one Cynthia to another!!

Cynthia Leitich Smith
8 years ago

I’m so honored and surprised! Thank you for this lovely post. It’ll be a thrill to feature a giveaway of the critique on my blog. Please touch base with any/all details whenever you’re ready! And thanks for all YOU do!

Jo Knowles
8 years ago

Cyn is an amazing person! She is so giving at every level. She offered to host me on her blog when my first book came out, and she has linked to good news about my books ever since. And I am among the hundreds of authors she does this for. She is a ray of light, of hope, of kindness, in a business well-known for it’s potential cruelty. Yay for Cyn!!!!


Nicole Zoltack
8 years ago

Great choice!

Stina Lindenblatt
8 years ago

Another brilliant choice! I used to read her blog all the time. I haven’t had a chance much lately. I have to change that. 🙂

Angela Ackerman
8 years ago

Cynthia is a excellent choice! The woman is fiercely talented, kind and giving! She does so much for writers and does a great job promoting and looking after the writing community as a whole.

Cynthia’s website was such a lifesaver to me when I first started writing and I had no idea where to go or how to get started. I knew I wanted to write for kids, but not how to do it or how to go about it in a professional way. She gave me the tools I needed to jump in and start this incredible journey into children’s fiction.

Thank you Cynthia for all you do!


Laura Pauling
8 years ago

Terrific choice! I agree. I heard her speak at nescbwi conference and she was great!

Gwynneth White
8 years ago

To be honest, I have never heard of her, but I am on the way to her blog now. Thank you for the alert.