At last, at last! January 1 marks the date when the finalists for the Cybils Awards, a blogger-driven book award, are announced.
Anyone can nominate books eligible in a number of children’s literature categories in early October. (The “Cybils year” starts mid-October, so books published in late October will be eligible next year.) Once nominations close, the first round of judging begins.
I’ve been part of the first round for YA speculative fiction for…gosh, the last four cycles, and it’s been a pleasure, whether our reading and discussions have been cordial or contentious. I feel like I have received far more than I’ve given, certainly. It’s made me a better reader, writer, and, more recently, agent intern and editor. I know what’s out there, what the top (and, let’s be honest, bottom) of the pile looks like, and I see the big trend pictures. If you’re a writer who’s wondered if an internship would be illuminating, let me suggest the Cybils as an alternative, whether you volunteer officially (as some great writers have) or read along on your own (as lots of folks do). Either way, you’re going to read lots of great stuff. (Be sure to start blogging now if you’re interested in the official side in the future.) And this is a fantastic organization to be part of as a reader; never underestimate how important you are. Reading is a wonderful thing, both in the solitary experience and in sharing.
The full lists of finalists can be found on the Cybils site (here: http://dadtalk.typepad.com/cybils/finalists/). The feed on the right-hand side of this blog links to my reviews blog, or at least it does for now, while I figure out whether to continue there.
Last year, I tried really hard to nominate books I thought would be the category winners, and a lot of them were finalists. This year, I decided that I was going to read at least part of all 213 books nominated in my category, even a couple I was recused from (per the rules, and in deference to time, books can be left unfinished to focus on strongest contenders). So, this year’s reviews, for me, focused on the “hook” for some books I liked. I was overloaded with words this autumn, and given more time in the day, I’d have loved to have written more–there are lots of fab reads that aren’t finalists. I think every judge has a list of great loves that, given their way, would be winners too. Ah, the joys and challenges of cut-off points.
Like the other first-round panelists, I did write a real review blurb for one of the finalist picks, because we can’t just make a video of us waving books around and throwing confetti, heh. Click on over to see which one I got to do! And in February, keep an eye out for the announcement of the winners!