Category Archives: Fantasy

Really? Women Write? Fantasy?

Every now and then, I have a conversation during which I mention that I spend a lot of time volunteering for an organization that hosts literature-related events (though I typically only mention it when I think the person would be really interested, or uninterested enough to let it pass). One of the events is a conference that focuses mainly on women* in fantasy, as consumers, producers, and characters. Sometimes, I get this:

PERSON: I didn’t know a lot of women wrote fantasy.

ME: Oh, they do, but it’s a lot harder to find it in book stores than you’d think.

PERSON: Well, if women wrote it, it would be there. So there can’t be all that many. [Digression about GRRM, Tolkien, and others, whose work I like, but.]

ME: There are loads! I despair of ever making it through my reading list. It’s probably as tall as I am, if you print it out very small and use both sides of the page.

PERSON: Well, Tolkien Tolkien Tolkien…

From there, I start fretting that my favorite people won’t be able to write anymore, etc., and zone out.

But here’s a better ending, and I’m lucky to encounter this more often, if not recently:

PERSON: Women write/women write something other than what I know about (often only romance and a few blockbusters)/women write fantasy?

ME: Yeah!

PERSON: Oh, cool. What would you recommend/what do you like about it/what’s the interesting news?

And I think this is a good rule of thumb for any time you encounter something outside your realm. That’s interesting, can you tell me more, or recommend something, or tell me your favorite? It doesn’t have to apply to this specific scenario, but polite curiosity tends to open people up to sharing, which benefits both people. Let’s exchange ideas. And let’s not think that what is offered up to us first is the entire world.

*All genders welcome.

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Filed under Fantasy, Reading

The Cybils Awards – Finalists

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: 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.┬áThis 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!



Filed under Awards, Fantasy, Publishing, Reading, SF and SpecFic, YA