Monday, May 9, 2011

Winners and Losers

Following the Whitney Gala Saturday night some really great writers were clowning for the camera, eating cheesecake, and calling themselves the losers. I beg to differ. They were all finalists and some of the best writers in the business. I don't mean to take anything away from the winners who collected trophies that night, but the finalists were, almost without exception, Whitney award caliber and could just as easily have been the ones to walk away with the awards. Sometimes the difference between the winner and the "almost winner" is merely a matter of taste. I also strongly suspect that some of these "losers" far outsell some of the "winners."

Over the years since the Whitneys began I've seen winners who were definitely losers in my opinion and I've seen some of the very best writers go without awards year after year. I've seen a couple of winners who did shoddy research and I've seen some of the most meticulous and carefully researched books take a back seat. I'm not saying the judging is unfair because I don't believe there has ever been a completely fair and impartial judging system invented, but this one comes pretty close --- up to the point where the book of the year is chosen. At that point only those who read all thirty-five books were eligible to vote, thus eliminating those would-be voters who did not have time to read the excessively long books, couldn't bring themselves to wade through five or ten books of a genre they don't enjoy, or who found a book so objectionable they couldn't read it. I'd like to see the selection of this award turned over to a panel of judges with professional expertise and require them to read only the one or two top vote getters from each genre instead of all thirty-five novels.

I'd also like to see a maximum length since there is a minimum. For a reader who doesn't care for romance novels, it's not a big deal to read a boring 250 pages, but expecting someone who finds science fiction or historical novels tedious, struggling through 500 to a thousand pages is asking a lot, especially if more than one finalists falls into this category.

I didn't attend the conference, only the gala, but I was impressed by how well organized it was and I loved seeing old friends and meeting people I previously only knew by their names or their work. And I certainly think this gala served the best food of any gala so far.

Early Saturday morning I discovered the rechargable battery in my camera would no longer recharge. I set out to buy new batteries and found that particular battery is no longer available, so I wound up purchasing a new camera. It has lots of features, I've no clue how to use and most of my pictures came out blurred. I'm used to using a view finder and I've got to work on using a preview screen instead.

Though I wasn't a Whitney winner nor even a finalist; in fact I didn't even have a book released in 2010, I left the gala feeling like a winner. My editor chose to inform me there in person that my historical novel I submitted a few months ago has been accepted for publication!

All comments here about this blog, the Storymakers conference, the Gala,  congratulatory comments for the winners, or anything concerning the Whitney awards will count toward the May Wish List Contest.


Miriam said...

Congratulations on your new novel. How exciting!

Tarmy said...

Interesting to see two speculative books come out tied for "best". I've read books by both authors and they seem like good writers (to my non-writer mind).
I was only able to read about a third of the books nominated and I really enjoyed almost all of them.

Congratulations on having another book lined up for publication!

Debra Erfert said...

Yay! What a wonderful place to find out about your book being published.

I love your pictures. Especially the ones of the "losers" faux sad faces.

I had a great time at the LDStorymakers conference. I met so many writers in person I've only "met" on the Internet. Too bad I didn't get to meet you. I didn't go to the gala. No date. Maybe next year, huh?

taylorfamily83316 said...

That is great to hear about you new novel, I am excited for it and don't even know what it is about.
I was astonished when you mentioned that in order to vote, a person had to have read all of the 35 books, that truly is a lot, and I can surely relate to how time consuming that really is. I have a teenager and two small children, as well as a husband to care for, I barely find time to do the things that I need to do let alone thing that I want to, so 35 books would really be difficult, and I read pretty fast.
I just wanted to say thanks for the books that you write, I can always count on your books for some inspiration and hope. Again, thank you!

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

The judging isn't all that unusual. To vote in the Newbery's judges must read all finalists, and the number is fairly large at this stage; to judge for an Oscar Best Picture of the Year, all the members of the academy must see all of the films that are nominated. Yes, the reading time is short from the time the finalists are announced until judging must be completed, but if we watch the history of the Whitney finalists, we can all get a great head start for which books we'll be seeing next year. I've already finished several that I know will be on the nominees list. In the meantime, I'm still celebrating with all the finalists and those who came away as winners.

Heather B. Moore said...

Jennie, those pictures are funny! I'm very happy to be counted among the losers :-)

Taylorfamily: you only have to read all 35 books to vote in the Best Novel category.

Since I try to keep up on my reading throughout the year, I had already read 19 of the 35 when the finalists were announced. So I was lucky that way, but it does entail giving up anything after the kids are in bed at night like tv and movies--and I pulled several midnight reading events.

Jennie--what's your new historical about? Will it be a series?

Jennie said...

My historical doesn't have an official title yet. I've been calling it Azial simply because Azial is the main character. There will be two books and I'm calling the second one, Travis. Azial and Travis are brothers who are born shortly after the conclusion of the American Civil War who experience a tumultous childhood and as young men follow separate dreams. I don't have a release date yet and haven't even started rewrites or the editing process. Right now my focus is on my contemporary suspense novel, If I Should Die, due out in a few weeks and getting the second historical written.

Jennie said...

Heather, my historical takes place in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It's the first in a two part companionship.