In case you missed it, the 2010 Panels for the Cybils awards have been posted over on the Cybils site. Choosing the panels for the Fantasy/Science Fiction category was heart wrenching. There were so many good volunteers, and just not enough spots to go around. There were good people, excellent people, who should have had a spot, but whom I had to pass on because I couldn't fit them in. There were 85 people who expressed interest in the SFF panels, and I had only 24 spots. I wish I could have fit everyone in.
I spent many many hours over the last few weeks looking at the blogs of all the applicants, as did all my fellow organizers. I was looking for people who showed a good background in reading a variety of different types of SFF and a good understanding of the principles of SFF, as well as the principles of good YA or MG writing.
I read everyone's "About" page and "Review Guidelines," if any was available. For reviewers, I read several reviews, trying to read at least one review of a book that I had read, and one review of a book I hadn't read. I looked for reviews that had at least some analysis of the elements that make up a good book: plot, character, voice, writing style, etc. For blogging authors who blog primarily about their writing journey, I looked for posts about their own writing that showed a good understanding of those same principles. I also looked for things like a unique voice or perspective, and for strong advocates for under-served groups.
Beyond the individuals, I looked to balance each of the panels. As did all the organizers, I strove for a good mix of returning and new panelists, and a good diversity of background and perspective. I tried to make sure each panel had a mix of librarians, teachers, writers, parents, students, and others. (I'm probably the only one with an archaeologist on my panels, though!)
If you didn't get on a panel this year, I hope that you'll apply again next year. We consider everyone fresh every year, and try to make sure we include new as well as returning panelists. Pay attention to the elements listed above in your blogging this year. If there are one or two categories that you are especially interested in, you might try to focus your blogging on those categories and develop/show some expertise in those categories over the next year. Read some good books on literary evaluation, such as the excellent From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children's Books by Kathleen T. Horning. If you're specifically interested in the SFF panel, books on writing science fiction can give a good background on the principles of the genre, even if you aren't a writer.
Other things you can do are to join the Kidlitosphere Yahoo group and participate so that we can get to know you. Participate in the Carnival of Children's Literature for the same reason. Read and comment on other Kidlit blogs.
If you are already doing all these things and didn't get a spot on the panels, please don't be disheartened. We just couldn't include everyone. Please try again next year. Be sure to nominate your favorite books between October 1 and October 15! A nomination form will be available on the Cybils site starting October 1.
We hope that you'll also follow the awards on the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. Join the conversation by commenting and posting your own thoughts. Share on your own blog & social networks what books you think should make the shortlists and/or win. And don't forget to buy some Cybils bling to show off at Kidlit Con 2010! (I covet that tote bag!)
If you've made it this far in this long post, here are the folks that I'll be working with on the 2010 SFF panels:
Panel Organizer: Sheila Ruth, Wands and Worlds
Panelists (Round I Judges), MG/Elementary:
Anamaria Anderson, Books Together
Gwenda Bond, Shaken & Stirred
Cindy Hannikman, Fantasy Book Critic
Aaron Maurer, Coffee for the Brain
Nicole Signoretta, Booked Up
Charlotte Taylor, Charlotte's Library
Karen Yingling, Ms. Yingling Reads
Panelists (Round I Judges), Teen/YA:
Steve Berman, Guys Lit Wire
Tanita Davis, Finding Wonderland
Leila Roy, Bookshelves of Doom
Sheila Ruth (see panel organizer)
Angie Thompson, Angieville
Hallie Tibbetts, Undusty New Books
Heather Zundel, Secret Adventures of WriterGirl
Round II Judges:
I can't wait for October 1 to get started!