Jessica Day George

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Whitney Awards

I took Shardas for a little trip this weekend, just on his own. It wasn't very far, about a half hour drive, and he slept the whole way. I had to teach a one hour class on "world building in fantasy novels" down at the LDStorymakers Writing Conference. Of course, being me, I was late and didn't know who to call or have any phone numbers with me anyway, so while I was driving in a panic, the conference planners were all in a panic at the hotel as they tried to cover for me. Eventually, Howard Tayler jumped into the fray and began giving some excellent tips. I came in, sweaty and flustered, and found him saying things that were much more pithy and interesting than anything I had planned. I calmed down, taught the rest of the class, and then hid in a hotel room until the Gala.

Oh, yes, there was a Gala.

It was the third annual Whitney Awards Gala! The Orson F. Whitney Awards are for LDS (Mormon) fiction authors, and it's a wonderful event. Along with getting a neat award (or at least the privilege/pleasure of being nominated) it's a wonderful event. We get to dress up fancy and have dinner and visit with our peer group. Princess of the Midnight Ball was nominated for Best Youth Fiction, and lost to Carol Lynch Williams' The Chosen One. I'm really all right with that, because Carol's book was heart-breaking and intense, and deserved great recognition. My sister, Jenn, was my date, and we sat with Dan "I Am Not a Serial Killer" Wells and his beautiful wife and parents, and Howard "Schlock Mercenary" Tayler.

Both of whom cry like girls, GIRLS, at the drop of a hat, by the way.

The first category was Romance/Women's fiction, and the winner, Liz Adair, got up and gave a little speech that I don't even remember except that it made me tear up and I thought, "Oh, NO! Keep it together! You cannot stop crying now, you'll be on the FLOOR by the time it's your category." So I look over at Dan for strength, and see him WIPING HIS EYES. Then Dan presents a Lifetime Achievement Award to David Farland. Dave is one of the greatest people in the world, a talented author, funny guy, and incredibly generous mentor to who knows how many fledgeling authors. So I'm really thinking, all right, Dan, just be funny, FUNNY, so I don't start blubbering. Oh, no. Dan "I Am Not a Serial Killer" Wells gets up, and immediately starts crying and tells this moving story about how much Dave has influenced him . . . and I was a goner. My sister was a goner. Howard was wiping his face on a napkin.

It was some crazy pie.

By the end of the night, when Dave Farland also won Best Novel of the Year for his book In the Company of Angels, there was not a dry eye in the house. Best. Whitney. Gala. Ever.

The point(s) of this post is (are) thus:

First off: Buy Dave's book. In the Company of Angels. His mother flat out told him that, of the 50 or more books he's written, it was hands down the best.

Second: Dan and Howard are babies.

And third: Shardas has developed a taste for traveling. He enjoyed the car ride, the hotel, meeting new people all of it. Velika is far more shy and retiring, and refused to come, but Shardas is demanding to go with me on the research trip I'll be taking soon. So keep your eyes on this blog, because a spanking new contest is coming up!

And now we leave off with a strange and disturbing picture of Howard getting a little too friendly with Shardas. . . .

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Opinionated? Me?

All right, fine, I admit it: I have opinions, and I'm not afraid to use them. I loooooove to review books and recommend books and tell people, "Please for the love of all that is good and fluffy, don't read that book!" Which is why I am grateful for Goodreads. Goodreads is the greatest website EVER if you're a book nerd. You can review books, meet other people who like the books you like, sort the books you've read, make a to-read list, and take endless quizzes about books to make you feel smart (or dumb, it depends). Sometimes people disagree with me on books, and that's fine. Occasionally they REALLY disagree with me, which I actually enjoy, because if nothing else, it reminds me of the Moviesurvey days.

Aaaahhh, Moviesurvey! How I miss thee!

What's that? You've never heard of Moviesurvey? The greatest website known to man? Back when websites were rare beasts indeed, things that your grandmother had never heard of, things that only weirdos really knew about, there was started as a project for the BYU Statistical Department. When the American Film Institute came up with their Top 100 Movies of All Time back in the early 1990's, statisticians everywhere flipped their lids. These weren't movies that were selected by a large, random group of people, thus representing the American Public. Nor were they even the big box office movies of all time. Instead they were selected by the members of the AFI, some of them on the basis that they'd heard the movie was ground-breaking, without having actually seen it all the way through. (Birth of a Nation, which was in the top five, is literally unwatchable because most of the reels have disentegrated.) So the BYU Stat Dept. put together a website where random voters could log on and vote for their favorite movies. Star Wars was in the top five, if not number one (I can't recall). Ghostbusters was on there, and so was The Princess Bride. It was fascinating to compare the two lists . . . and then the project was over.

Or was it? My husband was one of the people behind Moviesurvey, and when the project was done, his professor turned the website over to him. And we went crazy with it. We turned it into a movie review website for ourselves and a select handful of friends. We'd have monthly special features, reviews, and heated arguments. One of our friends, Sherry, gave Drop Dead Gorgeous five stars and called it the funniest movie she'd ever seen. My husband and I saw it, didn't crack a smile, and I counter-reviewed. Sherry's sister leapt into the fray in the comments, and it went on for days . . . and all in good fun! One of our readers used to argue with pretty much all of my reviews. Bizarrely, if we liked or disliked the same movie, he would argue that I had loved or hated it for the wrong reasons. Then he asked to be a reviewer, since I wasn't doing my job correctly. We told him NO! with great pleasure!

And then . . . we all had kids. At the same time. All boys even. In a random twist of fate, all three households involved in Moviesurvey had their first baby within a five month span and suddenly none of us had time anymore. Alas for Moviesurvey! We hung on for a while, but then . . . the dream died.

Which is why, today, I cannot resist. There's a little bit of Moviesurvey magic in the air tonight, folks, and I thought I'd give you a quick list of good movies I've seen lately.

1. How To Train Your Dragon So hilarious, so darling, so exciting! I loved every minute of this movie!

2. Clash of the Titans Just as fun as the original, with its sweaty men in tunics make witty remarks as they battle ludicrously large scorpions and other such baddies.

3. Alice in Wonderland Other than the bizarre dance sequence at the end that was fortunately only a minute long, this is a trippy, freaky, awesome sort-of-sequel to the original.

There! How's that?

Oh, did you want some book recommends?

Well, I just read Wintergirls and could not put it down! I've also been on a Barbara Hambly kick lately, with her Benjamin January historical mysteries. So good!