December 29, 2010

The Cybils Panel Book Club

Every year, there's that moment of anxiety as the Cybils SFF nominations come in. You think, "OH, my goodness, I should have read more this year, where did THAT book come from, who nominated that? Are they serious? MORE zombies!?" You fret and mutter and start haunting the library, trying to stay ahead of the curve and do as much reading as you can before the inevitable pressure mounts.

One hundred and forty-seven books. Two months to get through them.

You read like a mad person and swing between those transient moments when you breathe out a happy sigh over a fresh and original premise, and then you read something that makes you want to both shriek and hurl and fling things, and you wonder HOW on GOD'S EARTH some things get published, and you mutter old person sounding direness about the publishing industry, and the state of science fiction and fantasy in general, and your head spins, and you puke pea soup.

And then you read the next awesome thing.

And it's the Cybils. And you remember, through all the stress, why it is you do this thing: because you love the heck out of books.

Last night, we had the science fiction and fantasy "discussion." We missed Gwenda Bond, who has served on the YA team for two years; this year she graced the middle grade group with her fun and snark, and we felt her absence. We tried to squabble on without her, and were fairly successful, but it was much more Book Club than Fight Club. The goofiness came from a.) Leila and I being on any committee together, and b.)starting at 12:30 p.m. a.m., rather, Greenwich Mean Time, because everyone else on the team was on the East Coast, and started at 6:30 p.m., after work.

Normally, we approach the discussion with the feel of mourners going to last rites; we know there will be some of us sitting in the Crying Corner before the night is out, because with as many books as we shortlisted during the first vetting process, there was NO WAY we could all agree on seven books without some minor bloodshed. And there was some bloodshed and a few heartbroken sniffles (♥ Love to Angie & Heather! ♥ You both are intensely awesome.). This year, I realized that I was looking forward to the fact that there were seven crazy people who wanted to talk books with me. And we did talk books - for four and a half hours.

And we also talked Zac Efron -- 'cause some of us NEEDED to,
And we also talked kokopelli -- because Leila needed to help me annoy Josh,
And we also talked plot and theme, explored predestined evil, discussed colonialism, and debated different endings, and what we would have done if we were writing the romantic elements of several novels.

Oh, my word, it was fun.

I went to bed at 5 a.m. this morning.

But, it was the Cybils. And it was good.

Stay tuned for our choices... soon, soon, coming soon! After a nap. Or three.

Thank you, Sheila, for letting me play, and for everyone on the team. It is such a crazy, high-pressure, stressful job, to be a panelist. But I look forward to it every year like yay!, and oh-my-goodness-who-wrote-that. It was good to be part of the team.


Unknown said...

I wrote a forlorn note to our panel (YA realistic fiction) last night, lamenting the sudden quiet. We had our discussion the day after Christmas, and now I'm in total withdrawal. It was three blissful (and yes, crazymaking) months of spirited, brainy, colorful discussions, and in its absence I'm bereft. We're talking about keeping things rolling with monthly book discussions...

I would LOVE to be on a panel with you some year, Tanita! And I CANNOT WAIT to see your panel's shortlist. Seriously, it's going to determine my TBR list for the month of January. :)

Gwenda said...

Aw! I missed you guys, too. It was interesting and fun doing middle grade this year, but my heart truly belongs to YA. 4-ever.

Sarah Stevenson said...

You first-round panelists are all truly awesome! I cannot wait to get going reading the finalists.

Anonymous said...

12 a.m., GMT, lovey. But you can be excused because you pulled an all-nighter to talk books.

Man, I wish I'd been in on the Zac Efron chatter. I have a bit of a crush on him. Or at least, inner-teen Kelly does. Did you see him with his GI hair cut for his forthcoming (horrible) Nicholas Sparks role? But he made charitable donations to help children for everyone on the set willing to get their hair cut, and more than 30 stepped up and did it. How awesome is that?

Yeah - that's the Pinky part in action.

Melissa said...

Sounds like fun! We got our discussion out of the way before Christmas, due to vacationing members. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for yours! Can't wait to see what made the shortlist...

Yat-Yee said...

Wow, that's dedication. I've never stayed up till 5 am for anything. Okay, maybe for my babies when they were sick, but nothing short of that. Thank you all. Can't wait for the list!

Unknown said...

That sounds like so much fun. I wish I'd been there -- oh, wait, I was! Even if we all had to sacrifice some personal favorites for the greater good, I think we ended up with a great list, and I can't wait for everyone to see it on January 1! Thanks so much for staying up all night with us! I love talking books with y'all (and Gwenda, you were missed!)

tanita✿davis said...

It didn't feel like an actual hardship until around 3:30 when Steve B.'s computer died. And then I got sleepy.

But it was really fun.

Hi! I'm Wendi! said...

Sounds like so much fun!

Carol said...

We did the nonfiction picture books a couple of days ago (but have really been "chatting" for almost a month. This is my third year and I LOVE being a CYBILS panelist. So, so, so fun to get to know new books and new book loving friends and have rich discussions about books. I sent our folks an email today too, Melissa!

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

"it was much more Book Club than Fight Club"

LOL. Literature is not for the faint of heart!

Heather Zundel said...

It was SO insanely fun (I think emphasis should be placed on both words there). And thank you for the <3. There was only a few sniffled in the corner. I may have been holding the book for it though) :) The discussion was awesome, Steve, you and Leila had me in stiches, and this showed me why books are incredible.

P.S You nailed the experience with this post. Now I can't wait for the winner. :)