Friday, February 17, 2012

More This and That

Reading the two chapters was a success! The kids looked all concerned when the rock slid out from under Jamie's feet, leaving him dangling from a rope 400 feet above the sea. They groaned when I said, "And that's the end of the chapter!"

And they cheered when I said, "But wait, I have a second chapter to read today." I confess, I like it when my audience cheers.

So that worked very well. It also gave me (and their teacher, who is dead sexy and just the best teacher ever) a chance to talk about cliffhangers and "The Perils of Pauline," which were on the screen back when my dad was a kid. I'm not sure Tori's students believed me or even noticed when I said something about "silent movies" because what could that even mean to kids who can watch movies on their telephones.

Tori also had a really cool idea for a project to go along with the reading, and now the kids are all designing covers for Scurvy Dogs! I'll share some with you when they're done.

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing: A woman sent me a copy of her book, hoping I'll review it in the Talk Like a Pirate Day newsletter, The Poopdeck, and spur sales for her. I'm not going to because it's not very good, and like I've said before, I honor the effort even if I don't like the result, so I'll not mention it by name.

It's a good idea. It's about using pirate talk in speech pathology to get kids to properly pronounce the letter R. Clever.

But why oh why oh why do people insist on writing children's books in rhyme? Especially when they don't have a clue about meter or making it scan. People think "Oh, it's a kids book. It has to rhyme." Wrong wrong wrong. I have read hundreds of books to my kids as they grew up.We all loathed the rhyming ones, with the obvious huge exception, Dr. Seuss.

In fact, I'll just say it flat out. There has been exactly one successful children's story author who wrote in rhyme. His name was Dr. Seuss. If you're not Dr. Seuss, don't even try. Unless you actually don't care what people think. If it gives you pleasure to write in doggerel, by all means do so. It's your right. But please don't ask me to read the book to kids.

And it's a fact that if you want someone to publish your children's book, don't write it in rhyme. Children's publishers DO NOT WANT rhyming books. Most of them say it right on their web sites, and any agent repping children's books will tell you the same thing. They won't even read them, because they can't sell them.

Must have a lot of friends. I have almost finished reading a book I started four months ago. I'm determined to finish it. There is nothing particularly wrong with the book, no place where I can point and say, 'See! What a hack writer!" It's well researched and competently written on what should be an engrossing subject, a spectacular murder case that convulsed England in 1860. It's just kind of boring, and it's hard to understand why. I guess that's why I keep plowing ahead, just to see if I can figure out what my problem with it is. Because it's my problem. The book won all kinds of awards and the back cover contains all kinds of great blurbs from reviewers.

"A real page turner," one reviewer called it. "Gripping," "a remarkable achievement." Really, if you're going to write jacket blurbs, you ought to read the book first. The only way the reviewer for the Sunday Telegraph could have called it "unputdownable" is if he'd had an accident with a glue pot while reading it.

But I suppose something like , "Meh. I've read worse," would probably not have sold as many copies. All I can say is, the author must have a lot of friends who write dust jacket blurbs. I'm hoping to have similar luck when Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter finally is published.

Boy, reading this I sound pretty damn cranky. I'm usually such a positive guy. I'll try to perk up, although I have to run cover the Board of Elections meeting in an hour, and that would make anyone a little dyspeptic.

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