Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sylvia Braves Perils Of Publishing

By Anne Sullivan

“There,” said Sylvia, raising her paws in the air in triumph. “It’s finished!”
“What’s finished?” I asked from the kitchen where I was washing three days worth of dishes in considerably less triumph.
“My book.” Sylvia ran over to me as fast as her sturdy legs could take her. “My mystery book! It’s finally done. Now all I have to do is send it to a publisher. I’m on my way to fame and fortune.”
“Don’t get your hopes up too much, Sylvia. I hate to see you disappointed. I keep telling you it’s not easy to get published.”
“Maybe for you,” said Sylvia with accustomed lack of tact, “but not for me. Any publisher will be glad to put my book out. It’s just a matter of deciding which one to honor with my manuscript.”
“Pride goeth before a fall,” I muttered while putting away the dishes from the drainer in order to make room for the newly washed.
“Would you like to read my book?” Sylvia asked sweetly in an attempt to make amends for her rudeness, no doubt because she didn’t have money for the postage necessary to mail her manuscript.
Curiosity got in the way of good sense so I acquiesced to Sylvia’s offer. “Sure, I’d like to read your book,” I said, heading to my comfortable chair.
“Here.” She handed me a thin sheaf of papers.
“Is this just the first chapter?” I asked.
“No, this is the whole book. I’m worried that it might be too long.”
“I wouldn’t worry about that if I were you.” I thumbed through the pages, counting. “This is only 30 pages.”
“I know,” she said. “It shrunk when I typed it on The Computer.”
“Sylvia, most mystery books are at least 250 pages.”
“You always find fault with everything I do.”
“That’s not so. I’m just telling you for your own good. Now, please let me read this in peace,” I said trying to pacify her.
And this is what she wrote – at least on the first page:
Chapter One
The body lay in the street. Its back was to me so I, Veronica O’Leary, Dog Detective, nosed it over.
It was no one I knew.
Fatso, the Cat Detective, ran up.
“Who’s that?” he said.
“Dunno,” I said.
We left the body there and went home for breakfast.
I had my three doggy biscuits and some Iams kibble.
Then I took a nap.
Fatso washed himself.
End of Chapter One
“What do you think?” asked Sylvia a.k.a. Veronica.
“It’s a little sparse, isn’t it?” I said politely.
“Hemingway was sparse,” Sylvia retorted.
“You’re right, but he managed to include some action.”
“There’s a lot of action in that chapter.”
“Some, yes, but it doesn’t go anywhere. And the chapter is very short.”
“I’ve seen short chapters in books.”
“So have I, but they have meaning.”
Sylvia drew herself up, all 74 pounds of body fat, and bristled. “I knew you wouldn’t like
it. You’re jealous, that’s what. Just because I’ve finished a book and you haven’t, a book that’s going to be published.”
Oh, dear.

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