The Book Lady: In which I respond to That Ridiculous Post


The interweb was all atwitter yesterday about an “article,” (and I use the term loosely) that denigrated Book Expo, publishers, the state of literature, and book bloggers in an impressive feat of unfounded ridiculousness. It took 24 hours for my comment to make it through moderation, and then…

The Book Lady: In which I respond to That Ridiculous Post

Hotel for Dogs

Hotel for Dogs

by Lois Duncan
narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Scholastic Audio
3.45 hours
Hotel for Dogs is the story of two children who have been re-located across the country to a suburban home on the East Coast and, encounter a number of dogs that complicate their lives. Lonely, living as guests in their fastidious great aunt’s home, trying to fit in at school, and defending themselves against the neighborhood bully, twelve-year old Bruce and soon-to-be-eleven year old Andi struggle to adjust in/to their new environs. To matters more difficult, some dogs come to Bruce and Andi’s attention, dogs that need care. Unable to shelter the dogs in their aunt’s home, Bruce and Andi come up with a plan…
Hotel for Dogs is a children’s book that plays out fairly realistically when it comes to portraying the relationships between all the characters. The parents are authority figures, not best friends in disguise; The threats of the bully provoke concern; Bruce and Andi are average kids, not precocious child prodigies… The overall feel of the book is somewhat Disney-fied though: the children a have a bit more autonomy than children would have in real life, there’s a surprise revelation about prissy old Aunt Alice and, of course a HEA ending.
Katherine Kellgren raises the bar when it comes to narrating children’s titles. Character voices are delivered expertly and without condescension. The range of her character repertoire is excellent not only in terms of vocal range; but in terms of conveying the right emotion behind the lines. Ms Kellgren doesn’t pull back and what she delivers is a compelling story. [So compelling, in fact that my eight-year old insisted on sitting in the car until the story had finished.]
There is no bad language, sex or extreme violence; but there is tension, white lies and, the kids do things they know are wrong. One of the dogs is hand-struck by a bully. Parents may need to explain film cameras, slide projectors and, animal shelters (why Bruce and Andi are reluctant to surrender the dogs to a shelter.)
Other Stuff: I purchased a digital dnload copy of this title through iTunes.

This book qualifies for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. Hotel for Dogs is set in the fictional town of Elmwood, NJ.

View dogearedcopy map 2011 in a larger map

Also, even though there are dogs on the cover of the book, it doesn’t make you cry and, no dogs die in the story 🙂

A Response to Daniela Hurezanu’s Article

Book Expo’s Sorry Turn

I deliberated as to whether or not to respond to Daniela Hurezanu’s article. It really doesn’t deserve the dignity of a response; but I couldn’t resist. I commented. Or at least I tried to. Unfortunately the site was “unable to receive my comment at this time” and it just returns me to the article with a new validation question. Maybe the site’s servers aren’t scalable/can’t handle the influx of responses. Maybe they’ve closed the thread already. Whatever. I am disinclined to sit around all day and wait for their Comments System to come back up. So, for my followers, here are my brief comments:

A Response to Daniela Hurezanu’s Article

Clearly, you were not at the Book Blogger Convention. Admittedly, your article does not claim that you had attended; but to comment on the nature of the Convention, its participants and practice intimates that you were at least familiar with it. If you were though, there is no way you could have written the last paragraph of your piece. Before you write about a topic, you should do your homework. Generalizations, especially ill-informed ones, deny your credibility as a writer.

Some Helpful Hints:
Look up the term “Mommy Blogger” and use the term in a sentence correctly;
Interview publishers, authors, bloggers and blog readers to determine why blogging is an efficacious promotional factor;
Investigate the roles that promotional bloggers have in expanding the reach beyond the already converted.

Hmm, maybe I should write the article. I’m more qualified than Ms Hurezanu. I was actually there.

The Pink Chair: The Audiobook Demo, The Candidate’s Cold Call

In the telemarketing industry, a cold call is an unsolicited phone call made to a home or business. No prior relationship exists between the caller and the person picking up the phone. As the recipient of the phone call, you have the option of putting your phone number on the national Do Not Call Registry, hanging up on the caller, getting a cell phone (no solicitation calls are legally permitted to cell phones), or executing an elaborate vendetta to have the caller brought to the Florida Keys a la Nature Girl (by Carl Hiassen; narrated by Lee Adams.) In the audiobook industry, the unsolicited demo is the equivalent of a cold call and, just as in the telemarketing industry wherein only about 2% of the calls yield any results, the unsolicited demo is a long shot. At the company I work for, we get a couple of hundred of demos a week. Most of these demos are e-mailed to the studio director; but a not-insignificant number of these demos are flash-drives and CDs sent to the office. Following are a couple of observations about the material sent to the studio director’s office:
  • There must be a course or class or workshop out there that takes people’s money and tells them that branding is key. And that branding means spending a lot of time on a print image and packaging. A lot of CDs come into the office with elaborate photoshopped covers that tell the studio director’s office very little if anything about the candidate other than s/he had a lot of time on their hands to create this package. The Studio Director is going to be listening to the sound samples, not judging the book by its cover. The CD that comes in with Sharpie scrawled all over it is going to get the same opportunity as the slickly packaged demo. That said, there was one over-produced demo that worked against the candidate: The packaging was so terrible that the first thought crossing our minds was, “[S/He] had better be really good if they sent us this.” That candidate had to work against the packaging to start with. On the other hand, I received possibly the best demo package ever from John McLain. He walked up to me, said he liked to narrate Westerns and, gave me a CD that had an image of a cowboy boot with a headset on it. John McLain, Westerns and the cowboy boot are forever linked in my mind.
  • HELPFUL HINT: Branding is about your working reputation. Period.
  • Quite a few demos come in pieces. There’s the CD or flash drive, a cover letter, a resume, a headshot, a business card, a QR code and sometimes even a promotional bit of kitsch like a bookmark, magnet or toy. That’s a lot of stuff to keep together. And guess what? A lot of times this stuff gets separated – unintentionally, but it happens. The more pieces to the submission that there are, the more likely it is that pieces will be lost. Worst case scenario is when we have a great demo in hand, but can’t find the contact info that accompanied it. Best case scenario, everything is in one unit, a business card slid inside the jewel case or contact info printed on the CD or flash drive.
  • HELPFUL HINT: Keep it simple. n.b. There are no pieces to be lost in an e-mail. Also, consider using an file upload service like
  • Some demos arrive with a cover letter addressed “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Friends.” Really? You couldn’t take the 30 seconds to google the correct contact person? Or a minute to make a phone call to the company to find out who to send the demo to? But you want us to spend anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to listen and evaluate your demo? Don’t think so. Hate to say it, but these demos often do not get any consideration at all.
  • HELPFUL HINT: Make the call. Google it. Find out who you’re sending your demo to.
  • And finally, a word about follow-ups. Owing to the volume of demos received, it can take eons to get to your demo. A candidate may become discouraged after not hearing from the audiobook publisher after days, weeks, months… If you’re wondering if we’ve even received your demo, you’re best bet would be to pay for Delivery Confirmation from the United States Postal Service. For my part, I’m working on a standard e-mail acknowledgment of receipt — one that doesn’t lead the submitter to then expect immediate feedback and/or work. Still, continually checking up to see where your demo is, if we’ve listened to it yet, if we have work for you… does nothing more than clutter up the voice mail and e-mail inboxes. This is a common sight on Monday morning: Inbox.
  • HELPFUL HINT: Be patient. We’re working on it. Really.
Next up on The Pink Chair:

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?

by Steven Tyler with David Dalton
narrated by Jeremy Davidson
13.0 hours

If you’ve ever been caught singing “Dream On” while strumming on an air guitar and listening to your Walkman…; If you were one of those staring in hurt bewilderment at a Joe Perry Project logo stenciled into the sidewalk outside of the Narcissus nightclub in Boston…; If your heart soared at the sight of a flying piano… Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? is for you!

Ostensibly the memoir of Aerosmith’s lead singer, Steven Tyler, there is no denying that it has to be a history of the band as well if only because Steven Tyler has been the lead singer for over two-thirds of his life. Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? is a recounting of a life of seeming cliche: drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll; but it is much more because it is the story of an icon who helped forge the cliche into the consciousness of every burgeoning American adolescent mind. The excesses described are not for the prudish. Hardly an apologia, Steve Tyler describes his rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and the circuitous route to the man he is today. It’s a fascinating look into Steven Tyler’s mind, like dipping your toe into a stream of unconsciousness.
Jeremy Davidson does a remarkable job, for all that he is not Steven Tyler, of narrating this memoir. While purists may prefer authors to narrate their autobiographies, the choice of Jeremy Davidson is a solid one. Mr. Davidson has a more distinctive New York (?) accent than Steven Tyler, but the spirit of Steven Tyler’s oral history is so strong, the free-form scat so distinctive, that the listener can hear Steven Tyler through Jeremy Davidson. Jeremy Davidson speaks clearly, attentively and, does not get in the way of the text.
There is a bit at the end if the book in which Steven Tyler talks about the book itself. While superficially seeming to be a free-associative ramble, the monologue is actually structured to highlight the key themes of the book. It also inadvertently gives props to David Dalton for organizing Steven Tyler’s story into the book and, to Jeremy Davidson’s clear rendition of the same text. Early in the listening experience of the memoir itself, one might think that Steven Tyler’s words were tempered by either/both David Dalton and Jeremy Davidson; but it becomes clear in the monologue that both men served the text well and were about as transparent in delivering their respective trade crafts as you could want. Steven Tyler might have brought in some added value as the narrator of his own memoir, but while he could probably have gotten away with singing the lyrics embedded in the text; he wouldn’t have been singing the whole text, i.e. Steven Tyler is a singer, not a narrator. His distinctively raspy voice and verbal pauses might not have worn well over the thirteen hours. It’s also had to imagine him being tethered to his own text, even if he did write it himself!
Other Stuff: I received a review copy of Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? upon request from Harper Audio, Inc.