Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year! (And Cybils nominees)

Yippee! It's 2009. Last night we were [jokingly] flipping off 2008, which hasn't been the best of years in some ways. I have a good feeling about 2009 though. Lots of good things are going to happen! I can feel it.

Tuesday night my fellow Cybils panelists and I convened for a gmail chat (which was really really fun!) to decide on the shortlists in our two categories. The first four (out of five) slots went really easily. It was like the clear excellence rose to the top and those books just shimmered and shone. But. There were more than five truly excellent books in each category, and it was the 5th spot on both the middle-grade list and the young adult list that were not so easy to come to a consensus on. So we agreed to come back the next day to cast final votes on those, and I'm sorry to say: there are books I LOVE that didn't make it onto the list, and I mourn them (I shake my fist at my fellow panelists, albeit with a smile, because they are all awesome and just as passionate about their choices as I am about mine.) So without further ado, here are the titles we selected, looking for books with high literary quality AND high kid-appeal, the kind of books that kids and teens will pass from hand to hand, devotedly, but that also meet a level of critical excellence. It's a fantastic group of books; we had so many wonderful titles and such diversity. The whole experience has been a joy, and I miss the other panelists already. (Hey guys, can we have another gmail chat? Just about. . . whatever? The weather?)

Middle Grade
Lamplighter, by D.M. Cornish
The Magic Thief, by Sarah Prineas
The Cabinet of Wonders, by Marie Rutkoski
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
Savvy, by Ingrid Law

(I shall be writing soon on Lamplighter, about which I am overflowing with such love and awe that I cannot yet quite articulate it.)

Young Adult
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Wake, by Lisa McMann
The Explosionist, by Jenny Davidson
Airman, by Eoin Colfer
Curse Dark as Gold, by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

There are six on YA because we were totally deadlocked on the fifth slot, and had to either kill a panelist or break the rules and add another title! HERE are our write-ups on these books, with links, and HERE are all the other categories and their own shortlists.

A new panel of readers now comes together to decide final winners from these lists. I had thought at the outset that they had the easier job, because they have fewer books to read. But now I think the final selection is much more challenging than the thinning that we did, whittling down 160+ titles to eleven. HOW are they going to choose winners? I imagine their negotiations will go on much longer than ours did. Unless by some miracle they happen to mostly love the same titles!

Well. It's a drizzly dreary January first here in Portland, and I have Things to Do. I am still locked in a death struggle over commas with the copyeditor of Silksinger. Okay, not really. But I have to drag myself over to look at commas again, about which I am deeply, deeply unenthusiastic. Tomorrow I'm going on my lovely writing retreat and I want to have my head miraculously clear to dive with joy and undivided attention into my Newt. Seems fit for a new year: a new book! One that is stomp-dancing in my head demanding I BEGIN ALREADY! What else, what else. . . {drums fingers on table, looking pensive} Bake blueberry muffins? Yes, later. Hm. House is [mostly] clean, and I love that. A newly clean house. Yum. New Christmas gifties looking adorable in their new places, like a new tablecloth on the kitchen table (Anthropologie, I love you). I love cute new tablecloths. I still have to clean out my closet, but that is not on the roster for today. New clothes can live in the studio chair where they are piled for a little while longer. I don't know. Not many obligations for today. That's nice. Cheerio. Happy today!

P.S. A terrific new review of Blackbringer HERE. Thanks, BookHound!

OH! EXCITING! The Blackbringer paperback is up on Amazon! You can see the new cover. I'll post a clearer image once I have a good file. LOVE it!


Wyman said...

I feel I am a comma illiterate. So, allow me to admit you are much more experienced than I am on this subject, but I will make a couple of suggestions, which I am sure you have already applied. However, just in case you have not, here goes:

Read the passage out loud and see where your voice naturally places the commas, if that can be applied. Otherwise, hand the passages to your husband, who I am sure is a literate reader, without the commas, then see where he would place the commas. Afterall, that is what readers will do, no matter what you do. If that still does not work, I am sure you have a writer friend or two, who could give you their comma advice by looking at the questioned lines.

I hope I have made a positive contribution. I am sure you have tried my suggestions already. Maybe even long ago. This makes me wonder how famous writers handled similar lines. Although I would let the editor win, since commas are not my best grammar trait, perhaps you and your editor could have an enlightened discussion, then split the difference on whatever you can't agree on. She gets some of her commas; you get some of yours.

ha ha ha Naturally, I have no idea if editors surrender on any point, unless you have a book currently on the New York Times Bestsellers list and know the CEO of the Publisher, because I've never had the blessing of being in your position. May all your commas be right in 2009 and all your editors be aware of this.

Thank you for bringing up this subject. This was a genuine learning experience for me. I am interested in knowing how this gets resolved, if you wish to mention this in a future post. Call me evil, but if the editor has published works, perhaps you can bring their own writings to your defense. ha ha ha Bye!

Jen Robinson said...

Happy New Year, Laini! And I'm glad that you didn't have to kill a panelist. They all look like amazing titles!

tone almhjell said...

Me, too dear. 2009 will be much better, I know it will.

Christine Fletcher said...

Thanks for the peek behind the curtains of the Cybils, Laini! I'm adding so many books to my TBR list, it's going to take on a life of its own.

And commas, oh lord. I put them where the pauses sound in my head, but every time I get copyedits, it's obvious that my head hears things weirdly. I take comfort from the fact that Ursula LeGuin has said she has trouble with commas, too. So we're in excellent company!

Laini Taylor said...

Christine, I think it's the copyeditors who have trouble with commas. I don't think they're reading things out loud for sound, but I know I am. And I like what Susan Cooper said. Something like, "We really need editors. Copyeditors, not so much."

Ha ha!

Congratulations again on the shortlist!

Charlotte said...

I hope you have a lovely retreat!

kim baker said...

Great list! 2009 is going to be awesome. I feel it, too.

I saw this today, and thought you might be interested.

Lexi said...

The paperback is beautiful! I want a copy!

Robin said...

Happy New Year, Laini! And the paperback is looking cool. Nifty new font?

Stephanie Perkins said...

Hurrah!! The paperback is GORGEOUS! Congrats congrats, congrats!

Can't wait to start reading those Cybils noms, now that you've done the hard work for me ;) The lists look great. Congratulations (again) on all of your hard work.

Anonymous said...

Can we PLEASE have another gchat? Those two were so much fun. I miss everyone's emails in my inbox already.

We should start a book club or something, the seven of us, so we can keep talking books year round.

My inbox is lonely without our booktalk!


Em said...

Hehe, I've been missing all the emails too! And the gchat was so much fun. I love Nettle's idea of a bookclub! :)

Mel Odom said...

Hey Laini,

You're welcome for the review. I really enjoyed the book and am looking forward to your next.

Mel Odom

Wyman said...

Laini, your quote about copy editors was hilarious. I must remember that. I am as certain of your commas as you are. It shows in your blogposts.

Amber said...

Very cool looking cover.


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