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National Book Awards--Shine

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Jenn Bertman
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Has anyone else been following what's been going on with the National Book Award nominations for young adults this year? Last week the five nominees were announced and later that day a sixth title (CHIME by Franny Billingsly) was added. Apparently there was a miscommunication but the NBA decided to make an exception and go with 6 nominees. Today, PW announced the NBA changed their mind and have asked Lauren Myracle to withdraw her novel SHINE as a nominee, which she graciously did. Apparently, the winners were told over the phone to someone who misheard "Chime" for "Shine". (Why they didn't include the author name as well which would have prevented all this from happening is a mystery to me.)

This seems like such a crummy situation to me, and one that could have been so easily avoided if somebody took the time to double-check their work and proofread! I was so excited to hear SHINE in the original announcement--I've met Lauren and she couldn't be a nicer person, plus it seemed like such a sweet reward for an author who has received a lot of backlash for telling an important but difficult story. I can't even imagine the roller coaster of emotion you would go through to be told you were nominated for a major award and then to have that taken back. Lauren Myracle has handled this incredibly well and I hope this at least draws more attention and sales to her book.

Here's the PW blurb:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/49143-shine-withdrawn-as-nba-young-people--s-literature-nominee.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly%27s+PW+Daily&utm_campaign=2dcc0c2c2b-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email
#1 - October 17, 2011, 10:49 AM
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Oh, what a terrible thing to go through!  Several bloggers have suggested showing support for Lauren Myracle by buying her book.  Sounds like a good idea to me...
#2 - October 17, 2011, 10:53 AM

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There's a whole Twitter phenomenon to support her too #isupportshine

She's done great in handling it. I wish it hadn't happened. It's a great book, and she already goes through so much with the bans and challenges.
#3 - October 17, 2011, 11:02 AM
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Yes, I have been following the saga. I'm buying SHINE today in support of Lauren. The NBF handled it badly, but hopefully something positive will come out of it for Lauren!
#4 - October 17, 2011, 11:05 AM

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Oh my gosh.  Lauren Myracle wins full points for being a gracious human being, but I'm with you, J-Bert--it's rather appalling that it happened, and doesn't reflect well on the award or the sponsors.
#5 - October 17, 2011, 11:10 AM
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Just ordered it "Shine." It looks amazing and maybe a sales bump will be a tiny compensation for the frustration and confusion.
#6 - October 17, 2011, 11:15 AM

That's terrible! I can't believe it. I will buy a copy of Shine in support of her too.
#7 - October 17, 2011, 11:45 AM
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I can't imagine such a thing. After telling everyone I knew, the humiliation would crush me.
#8 - October 17, 2011, 12:13 PM

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Yikes. How awful!

Still, mad props for Myracle's dignity and grace in handling what must have been a difficult spot to be in.  :flowers2
#9 - October 17, 2011, 12:18 PM

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My personal thought was that after saying Lauren's willingness to do this showed her support of the integrity of the award, the fact that they asked her to withdraw in the first place (after claiming that her book would remain on its own merits) completely undermined the integrity of the award in my eyes.  :(
#10 - October 17, 2011, 12:19 PM
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If it happened to me, I'd probably back out of the award. I'd feel even worse sitting at the NBA banquet knowing my name would never be called as the winner since I was only there out of "pity" anyway. Or that the sticker on my book wasn't really what was chosen.

The whole situation is just sad. LM handled it super well, as always. I loved SHINE!

Yes, PROOFREAD YOUR WORK and ALWAYS MENTION THE TITLE *AND* AUTHOR! :)
#11 - October 17, 2011, 12:52 PM
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Yeah. What I think is almost the worst part is that they asked her to "withdraw" her book -- instead of just coming out and saying they F'd up and it shouldn't have been on the list! Like somehow they had to put it on HER to fix THEIR problem. I agree with Andracill about "the integrity of the award."

They totally should have just kept it on the list and kept their mouths shut, if you ask me. Nobody but the screwups ever needed to know that it wouldn't be considered for the final award.

She's being incredibly gracious about it. I can only imagine how disappointing it must be. The only bright side is that the hubbub may actually sell more books than the award is reputed to.
#12 - October 17, 2011, 01:32 PM
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Some of you may have already seen this, but Libba Bray posted a pretty ballsy response to this whole thing: http://libba-bray.livejournal.com/62266.html
Add her to the long, long list of writers for kids and teens who impress me on a regular basis.

This really is a shame for everyone involved. Even the other nominees--I would think this is taking away from their happy and deserved moment of celebration. With hindsight, I think what the NBA should have done was: admit their mistake from the get-go along with a humble and profuse apology to Lauren Myracle plus kind, respectful words for Shine, AND have the forethought to make the donation to the Matthew Shepherd Foundation without Lauren having to suggest it.
#13 - October 17, 2011, 02:19 PM
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I bought her book too. Heartbreaking--and yes, sad for those other authors who were nominated. Blech--it sucks all around.
#14 - October 17, 2011, 03:49 PM

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Yes, a horrible situation. I get a stomachache myself, thinking of what Lauren must have been through this past week. Amazing how gracious and kind she's been throughout. And SHINE is a wonderful book.

That said, I was a bit dismayed to read somewhere (maybe Libba's blog, can't remember) that this debacle turns the award into a joke. The five nominees were selected legitimately by a serious group of authors, and I don't see why the NBF's bureaucratic and political screw up should undermine that.
#15 - October 17, 2011, 03:58 PM

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Yes, I agree with this, what Joni said. When the first list came out, and then the addition of CHIME, I never thought anything of it!

"They totally should have just kept it on the list and kept their mouths shut, if you ask me. Nobody but the screwups ever needed to know that it wouldn't be considered for the final award."
#16 - October 17, 2011, 04:23 PM
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This is so heartbreaking. I can't even imagine how awful this has all been for Lauren and for the other nominees. The NBA should have kept it on the list and not said anything, or admitted their mistake and taken action and thought of donating to the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Lauren shouldn't have had to withdraw, especially given their reason. The integrity of the award is in question if the people giving the award don't have integrity. That said, it has been a prestigious award in the past. I hope they find a way to fix their nomination problems after apologizing to Lauren, Franny, and the other authors that were nominated.

One of the things that's been bothering me all day (since I read the PW article) is this quote:
"Augenbraum called the need to remove Shine “unfortunate. We regret it very much.” But he reiterated what Myracle said in her statement of the need to uphold the intention of the judges. “The integrity of the awards is paramount,” Augenbraum said. He emphasized that none of what happened was Myracle’s fault. “She’s been very gracious about it,” he said."

He says she's been gracious and none of it is her fault, but he doesn't say he's sorry or take responsibility for it (if you read Libba's wonderful blog post about this, you'll learn of the part that Augenbraum played in all of this). Maybe he apologized somewhere else, but if so, I haven't seen it.

Libba's blog post really says it all much better than I can.
#17 - October 17, 2011, 10:26 PM
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The other thing that gets me about this whole fiasco is that SHINE must have been in the running. Otherwise why would it have ever been mistaken with CHIME? Whatever staff member received the phone call had to have been hearing discussions about SHINE in order to assume that it was Lauren who had won. So, if SHINE was good enough to be considered, why couldn't they have just left it on the list? I agree with everyone else; definitely hurting rather than helping the awards' integrity.
#18 - October 18, 2011, 01:19 AM
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How sad.
We had Lauren at the store a few years ago, and I can not say enough about how wonderful she is. My heart breaks for her. And SHINE is excellent-- so I wasn't surprised it was on the list at all.

Sadly, it's one of those mistakes that is not only going to affect Lauren, but all the nominees. That's sad, because the other nominees have excellent books as well.

Kudos to Lauren for creating such a great novel AND for handling the situation with grace and style. She's already a winner in my book.

keep writing,
dave r
#19 - October 18, 2011, 03:25 AM
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Yeah. What I think is almost the worst part is that they asked her to "withdraw" her book -- instead of just coming out and saying they F'd up and it shouldn't have been on the list! Like somehow they had to put it on HER to fix THEIR problem. I agree with Andracill about "the integrity of the award."

I agree. It's like they were trying to say, "Hey, it's okay, the author withdrew her own book, so everything's fine! WE didn't kick her out. No one can be upset with us about it!"

I've had the pleasure of spending time with Lauren at a few conferences and doing panels with her, and she is such a sweet, wonderful person. I feel terrible that this happened, and I also feel bad for the other nominees whose achievement has been tainted by all of this. Shine must have been in the running in the first place for this to happen, so I don't understand why they didn't just keep all six books on the list and let the mix up stay quiet.

Just a bad situation all around.  :(
#20 - October 18, 2011, 06:07 AM

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YALSA is taking a poll about what should have happened if you want to weigh in.

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2011/10/17/bonus-poll-what-do-you-think-of-the-national-book-award-controversy/
#21 - October 18, 2011, 06:46 AM
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#22 - October 19, 2011, 08:17 PM

In the end she got more media coverage than any of the "real" nominees, so from a purely strategic selling books standpoint, being fake nominated was way better than getting nominated, and a million times better than never getting fake nominated in the first place. I guess that's why I don't understand the level of outrage on Twitter. They can fake nominate me any day.

#23 - October 19, 2011, 09:09 PM

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Class with a capitol C!
#24 - October 19, 2011, 09:11 PM

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I've been following this whole mess from the beginning. I have to admit - partly because I would have loved to have gotten THE call, saying my book was on the list. I know Franny and have read her book and was surprised it wasn't chosen because it'd gotten so many starred reviews. For a moment I thought, oh, could it have been a mix-up? Then when CHIME was added . . . Oh, my!

This may have already been mentioned, but prior to the big mess, Nikki Grimes blogged about a lot of wonderful books that didn't make it to the final list. She was one of the judges! And she mentioned two books published by my publisher (athough not mine . . . sigh). These two were: EDDIE'S WAR by Carol Saller and SUMMER OF HAMMERS AND ANGELS by Shannon Wiershitzky.

The good thing is that sales of Lauren's book are going up and up! But I feel for her! And Franny, too. Now the final winner will be so hard to choose. What a mess.
#25 - October 19, 2011, 09:25 PM
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In the end she got more media coverage than any of the "real" nominees, so from a purely strategic selling books standpoint, being fake nominated was way better than getting nominated, and a million times better than never getting fake nominated in the first place. I guess that's why I don't understand the level of outrage on Twitter. They can fake nominate me any day.

Yeah, but this only holds true if you believe media coverage is objectively better than being nominated, and that the value of additional media coverage clearly outweighs the negative aspects of the entire experience. Media coverage certainly has value in terms of sales, but being nominated for a National Book Award has that too, as well as other enormously positive aspects that aren't purely commercial in nature.
#26 - October 19, 2011, 10:39 PM

Yeah, but this only holds true if you believe media coverage is objectively better than being nominated, and that the value of additional media coverage clearly outweighs the negative aspects of the entire experience. Media coverage certainly has value in terms of sales, but being nominated for a National Book Award has that too, as well as other enormously positive aspects that aren't purely commercial in nature.

I don't take awards that seriously. They are only the judgment of a few people. And while a nomination might be a career-changing break for some authors, Lauren Myracle has hardly been toiling away in obscurity.

In general I think awards are way overrated, and that there are too many of them, and that we make too much of them. That feeling goes way beyond the book field. The takeaway here should be a reminder that any awards committee is made of fallible humans.
#27 - October 20, 2011, 02:28 AM
« Last Edit: October 20, 2011, 02:32 AM by Kurtis »

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I don't take awards that seriously. They are only the judgment of a few people. And while a nomination might be a career-changing break for some authors, Lauren Myracle has hardly been toiling away in obscurity.

In general I think awards are way overrated, and that there are too many of them, and that we make too much of them. That feeling goes way beyond the book field. The takeaway here should be a reminder that any awards committee is made of fallible humans.

These are certainly valid opinions - Lauren Myracle acknowledged it in her Vanity Fair piece when she mentioned one of her takeaways as the importance of not seeking external validation - but not everyone feels the same. There are plenty of people who take awards seriously, and they're not objectively wrong to do so. I also don't believe that an author's attainment of some previously established level of success (however it's defined, and whoever it's defined by) means they lose the right to experience disappointment, anger, dismay, etc. in a situation like this. The fact that Lauren Myracle's a best-selling author doesn't mean she's no longer human.
#28 - October 20, 2011, 05:55 AM

OK, I retract the "Lauren Myracle is no longer human" part of my argument.
#29 - October 20, 2011, 06:38 AM

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You people crack me up.
#30 - October 20, 2011, 07:08 AM
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