11.2.07

Quick, get me rewrite!

I was talking with Thing Two yesterday - his sister is writing a book about her years working with the AIDS epidemic. I've read a couple of chapters and the chapter outline and they'd asked my opinion. I gave it, and he rejected most of it (notice: he rejected it, rather than passing it along to his sister). One reason? The in-house editor would catch these things if they were a problem.

HAH! What in-house editor? It's like asking for a fact checker these days: they just do not exist. Back in the day, yes, you had someone who'd work on your deathless prose, crafting that timeless work of fiction/non-fiction. But today? The art of editing is a dead one. I've read many a book that would benefit from better editing.

Take, for example, the book I just read, The Case of the Missing Books. It was remaindered, which is always a sign. Then there was the endless repetition. A good editor would have cut that in half, if not more. Why? Because it wasn't "charming" in quite the way that the author probably thought it was, it was just annoying. Within the first few chapters I heard way too many times about the main characters pudge, wrinkled suit, Jewishness, and other traits that just didn't really matter. Who cared he was vegetarian? Clearly, given the number of times it was mentioned, I was supposed to deeply care. I didn't.

Another couple of examples? The Lovely Bones and The Da Vinci Code. All other aspects aside, let's talk pacing. Both books proceed at a certain pace, and then in the last chapter or two, they speed up immeasurably. My guess? An editor told them that the book was getting a bit too long. Rather than tightening it up throughout the book, the last couple of chapters got slashed and the pace ruined.

In other words, Thing Two's sister hasn't a hope in hell of having some thoughtful person edit her work. That's too bad, because with good editing, this could be a very nice book. If it's allowed to go the way it is (or with little revision), I can't see reading it.

5.2.07

Would this spoil things?

I belong to an on-line group of biblioholics and over the years we've talked about many books. One book we read was Judas Child by Carol O'Connell, a very dark mystery/thriller. I didn't usually read those, but boy was I glad I did! Since then, O'Connell's Mallory series has been a particular favorite of mine (and we know what happened when the newest was released).

A couple of us are discussing the book on the site and one person left me a private message with a few queries. One pertained to Winter House, the book before this one, while the others were about this new adventure. I didn't know how much to say, because some people don't like spoilers. I did ask why she hadn't posted these questions on the main thread. Her response? "I didn't post this on the regular thread because I don't like spoilers and if someone else hadn't read about the proposal yet, who was I to ruin it?" (OOPS! - Spoiler for Winter House!)

Here's the thing. In my mind, if you're not keeping up with the series, don't read any discussion of a new book or of the author. If you don't know that Dumbledore died at the end of Harry Potter 6, stay away from discussions of Book 7. Simple as that. If we're both reading Book 7, come July, then tell me that you're only up to page 50 and not to spoil things. But to have me keep quiet about past books? Somehow, that's not quite the same.

Other thoughts?

1.2.07

Sometimes, my life works

At MPOW, we're looking for a new Book Fair vendor. There's one that we really like, and on Monday we (by we I mean me and the Parents Association committee in charge of the Book Fair) went to the warehouse to see this vendor's operation. Do you know how hard it is to be that close to all those books?!

When we interviewed this vendor, one of the topics was the New Books issue: books that were soon to be published, that were sure to be hits with students. One book in particular came up: Titan's Curse, the third in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I've talked about these books before. The thing is, it's a very popular series at school... but this book won't actually be on the shelves until just after the Fair. This vendor thinks they can help (we're talking about a book we can easily sell 100 copies of - without it being required reading!).

When I was in Seattle, getting another load of Advance Readers Copies, this was one book I kept my beady eyes open for - no luck. Monday? The vendor had an ARC just for me! So, of course, I read it immediately.

I think it's back to the pace and style of Book One (The Lightning Thief). I, and others, thought that Book Two (Sea of Monsters) was just a little off: pacing? plot? something wasn't "quite right." Don't get me wrong, unlike other series where the quality has dropped between books, this wasn't a UGH-will-never-read-another issue, just a wonder-why issue.

So, this one? Percy and Thalia and Grover and Annabeth meet up at a boarding school in Maine. There, they meet Bianca and Nico di Angelo - two more half-bloods, but who's Daddy? (or Mommy?). After fighting a manticore, and Annabeth's disappearance, they meet up with Artemis and her Hunt. Then it's off to Camp, and a game of Capture the Flag, which ends in the Oracle's uttering a prophecy - Quest Time! I won't give more away, but I loved Bessie and Apollo (aka "Fred").

Of course, all sort of ends well. There is the obligatory cliffhanger ending, and I'm already waiting for Book Four to be announced!