Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 2, 2011

Thank you, Cybils! (and a Bit on Writer Angst)

Yesterday at the brunch to which I brought the bread with cranberries cut in half, I asked a friend about her daughter, who I remember as writing like crazy as a child and teen. Her mom’s brow wrinkled. The girl is now an English major at college and seems to be not writing. More of her focus is on battling anxiety. We talked about how those may be connected. I said that, I, too, had loved writing as a child, but got stymied as an English major reading the greats. What did I have to add that Shakespeare or Emily Dickinson hadn’t already written better? Most writers want to connect with others, but we have to do it in solitude, where anxiety loves to swoop. Learning to be a writer is partly learning our own ways to cope with our own angst, with tips and murmurs from the clan.

Things do get easier when we accept that someone will always write better than us, someone will write worse, and many will write just fine, but their work doesn’t reach us at the moment. I’m at a point now when writing often actually helps me cope with worry and bad news. But it’s still often fraught, saved for me by falling in love with my subjects, feeling compelled to get out their stories. That’s how I spend most of my time, though there are small parts devoted to what we call marketing, but can really mean just obsessing about the many, many people who will never know my books and can I ever nudge one or two more to the side of readers? I don’t dwell in this place, but it’s lovely when I get kicked out of it by sweet attention from the world.

So I was happy to hear that Borrowed Names is a finalist in poetry for the Cybils 2010 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Award. 

And what great company to be in. Cyblis finalists include Joyce Sidman, who delighted those of us who love her blend of poetry and science with not one but two books in 2010, both gorgeously illustrated. Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors offers poems with subjects that move through millions of years, tracing evolution. Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night gives us a peek into the lives of creatures (and trees) in the night woods. Both books feature sidebars, author notes, and glossaries that add to our knowledge and amazement.

Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer makes you want to stand on your head and read, or at least spin around the book for new takes on fairy tales. I’ve seen peoples’ jaws literally drop when flipping through this book. Scarum Fair by Jessica Swaim is the only finalist I haven’t yet read: apparently it features 29 poems that mix humor and horror as a boy makes his way through a nightmarish carnival.

Two beautiful collections are also on the short list for the prize to be given in February. Sharing the Seasons, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, offers surprising takes on swings and polliwogs, sandcastles and the summer moon, pumpkins and falling leaves, and snow people and books to curl up with. Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters lets us peek into rituals such as brushing teeth, bath time, and star gazing. Like Sharing the Seasons, it includes classic poems as well as new ones, humor as well as poignant moments.

Don’t take my few words for the goodness of these books of poetry, which, of course, are only some of the books that appeared on shelves this year filled with rhyme (sometimes with sounds at the ends of lines, sometimes with images), rhythm, metaphor, flights of fancy, down to earth moments, and other good things. Click to read the beautiful descriptions of the judges. Who I thank for their reading, good-hearted arguments (I’m sure!) and choices with all my heart.



  1. I was so excited for you when I saw the Cybils news earlier this morning that I cheered out loud. Woo hoo! Happy New Year!

  2. Congrats!

  3. Congratulations! Well-deserved 🙂

  4. Oh YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This makes me very very very happy. 🙂

  5. Cybils
    So excited for you, Jeannine! What a well-deserved honor.

  6. What a lovely, thoughtful post. I’m very pleased the first-round panel selected BORROWED NAMES for the short list!

  7. Oh Congratulations! Wonderful news!

  8. Congratulations! That must feel terrific!

  9. Jeni, thank you for your generous spirit and cheering out loud. I hope I have a chance to do so for you in 2011!

  10. Barbara, thanks for all your recent cheers!

  11. Thank you, Anindita. Sending my best wishes.

  12. Thanks for your happiness, Jo. Through the good times and bad, you’re always there. xo

  13. Re: Cybils
    And Mary, thank you!

  14. Thank you, Kelly!

  15. Thank you, Maurissa. And it looks like your January will be a great one — yay!

  16. Thanks, yes, I wouldn’t mind starting every year with such good news. Best wishes for you 2011!

  17. Congrats!

  18. Congratulations on making the Cybils short list!
    That worrying thing, about who is better and who has said it all before and the stress that goes with it…I hate it and yet it appears to be my constant companion.

  19. Congratulations, Jeannine! I don’t know how the final judges will ever choose …

  20. Thanks, Jenn. Enjoy your paperback release month!

  21. Thanks, Susan.
    And it kind of breaks my heart to hear of doubt as your too constant companion. If anyone has a unique voice, it’s you. Which many have told you. And we’re waiting to have that sink deep inside and snuggle. Please.

  22. Yay! I’m so pleased! I loved BORROWED NAMES!

  23. Thanks, Loree. And congratulations on Hive Detectives as a nonfiction finalist. Such an important and also gorgeous in many ways book.

  24. Jeannine!
    Congratulations on Borrowed Names up for an award! Hope that they see the wisdom of steering the award to…YOU!

  25. Thank you, Cindy! (and your little dancing guy)

  26. Thanks for your steadfast enthusiasm, Bruce!

  27. Thank you, Jeannine. I think one of my fears is that my voice, while unique, is usually a bit of a downer and not one to inspire the masses. But thank you for your support.

  28. Congratulations, Jeannine! And I am not surprised. Scarum Fair is the only one I haven’t read yet, either. In fact, I own the other six.

  29. Jeannine! I’m so happy (and not surprised) to hear this news. You and your wonderful book certainly deserve a heaping of sweet attention from the world. 🙂

  30. Thanks for the congratulations, Toby.
    And I would love to see, and raid, your bookshelves.

  31. Thank you sweet Lorraine!

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