Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quelling the Last Quarter

It has been a very, very long quarter.

In the fall, I received some unexpected projects at work. I implemented a conference, spent half a week touring potential conference venues, and helped get the next event’s plan in place. I was sick more than I expected to be, and frustrated when illness wiped out days I needed for tasks.

I signed on for first-round Cybils judging, expecting that about 100 books would be nominated in the YA fantasy/science fiction category--and more than 150 ended up on my two-and-a-little-bit-of-month reading list (147 is the final eligible number). I expected I could review 100 (my final count, at the end of the year, will be 118 read--nowhere near the picture book folks’ numbers, but more than 40,000 pages...and the 29 books I didn’t receive a copy of/couldn’t borrow/didn’t choose with my personal book budget and thus didn’t see for myself are going to haunt me forever).

And some other things came up, things more personal.

What I can say is this: I have, after many years of testing the boundary, found my personal limit of time divided by tasks. Some less-than-urgent things fell by the wayside, and I’ll be making those up in the new year, even while picking up others (teaching my second year of event planning boot camp, for example, and I’m going to get back on a running program, even if it’s a tiny one). I lost my temper more often, and I curled up with a cup of cocoa and blanket more often.

But there are some fantastic things that happened this autumn. I read some truly fantastic books I wouldn’t have been able to justify squeezing in without the Cybils--and I’ll review another 10-15 of my reads in the winter and spring; I hope that I’ll be able to give a little more thought to those reviews, too. My balance definitely has been off for a while! I’ll give away as many of the books I won’t be able to review so that they can have a second publicity life. To all of the publishers and authors who provided review copies: thank you, thank you, thank you. If had a little better idea of what I was getting into, I’d have done some more showcasing and shout-outs. Since I didn’t, please know that every book I got my hands on was treated with thought care, even if--as noted under the rules--I wasn’t able to finish it and review it.

I’ve also got the bones of a post together on what made particular titles pop for me (remember, the Cybils were judged by a committee, and while I won’t spill any exciting details or hints about the process, I will assure you that it’s not a hive mind situation), as well as some problems I saw in books. Maybe it will help some aspiring and established authors, maybe it won’t. In the end, I’m just one reader in a sea of book lovers.

In the new year, I’m looking forward to turning some of my focus back to the Sirens conference reading list to get a better handle on the theme, and maybe putting together a presentation. I’m hoping to travel to ALA in New Orleans (if I can’t make BEA, the ALA exhibit hall is the next best place to research for my particular volunteer work) and to the west coast, and maybe take my first overseas trip. Until the end of the year, I’ll be headed right into the flood zone in the great Pacific Northwest, so--well, by the time this posts, I might even be out of range.

And thus, to you and yours, my very best wishes for a happy, healthy new year, full of the very best stories.

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