Monday, October 10, 2011

Face-Lift 959

ItalicGuess the Plot

"Hey! There's a Dog In The Store!"

1. For fourteen years I've been listening to questions and comments about my guide dog from children and idiots. Now I can just hand them a copy of my book. Includes dog biographies.

2. Fifty-two pages of animals photographed in unusual places. Includes a cat in a washing machine and a pig in a mosque.

3. The last words spoken by the victim were a clue to who killed her. Sam spends five years tracking down the store, the dog, and the dog's owner, only to discover that he had misheard the phrase and in fact the victim had called out "Aaaaarrrrgh."

4. Bruce Rogers and his guide dog Stevie have to overcome customers' fears and stereotypes while struggling to launch their new business. Soon shoppers learn there's nothing strange about a blind businessman or even having a dog in the store. Like,'s a PET shop.

5. Ralph is in a grocery store trying to get some ice cream. When he asks at the counter for the Haagan Dazs vanilla chocolate chunk, he's told to go outside because "dogs aren't allowed." Ralph's owner, Liz Lutmuth, decides that enough is enough, and starts a doggy restaurant. Hilarity ensues.

6. At Miss Calico’s Spa, the upper feline class lines the walkway for their turn at pampering and grooming. Until one of the clients turns up dead. The only clues are a trail of catnip and a hairball. Things go from bad to worse when the detective assigned to the case turns out to be Mutt Jefferson, a mongrel with a nose for trouble--and Miss Calico’s ex-lover.

7. A stray dog gets into an organic supermarket near Washington, DC, and leads store employees on a merry chase, during which each of ten POV characters reflects on his or her past, roads taken and not taken, and the ultimate meaning of life. Includes index.

Original Version

Dear Evilness:

I am disabled. But I also have a tool to help me cope: I have a Service Dog. [I don't suppose you'd consider switching to a service monkey? I ask only because Hey, There's a Monkey in the Store is a funnier title.] [My research of this topic reveals that there are also service ducks, horses, goats, pigs, parrots and at least one kangaroo and one iguana. A Winston-Salem man was kicked out of a mall for bringing in his service ferret. I'm guessing there are stores you can't bring your service horse or goat or monkey into, so maybe you should forget the monkey and go with a duck. Surely no one would put up a stink about a service duck.

Madam, you can't bring a duck into this restaurant.

He's a service duck.

What service does he perform?

He sells insurance.]

"Hey! There's a Dog In The Store!" seeks to answer the many questions [Questions like, Hey, what's that dog doing in the store?] posed by all manner of people over the last 14 years. [That sentence was awkward. What happened 14 years ago? Is that when you got your dog? Started training service dogs? First got annoyed by questions about your dog? You could add "to me" after "posed," but I recommend changing the sentence to . . . seeks to answer such questions as: How are service dogs chosen, trained and paired with their human partners? and Do service dogs have the will power to not drop everything when the opportunity to sniff another dog's anus presents itself?] Aimed at younger readers, I describe [It's the book that's aimed at younger readers, not you.] the ways in which dogs are chosen, trained and paired with their human partners. What dogs can. and can't, do [Remove period and comma.] are explained with examples and photographs. Why and how the laws that protect Service Dogs came into being are outlined, with historic precedents from the Middle Ages to today.

The book includes interviews with noted trainers and breeders of Service Dogs, discussions with lawyers about the legal rights of Service Dogs, [Nothing about the legal rights of service ducks?] photos of dogs in action, and even some brief biographies of working dogs. [Pablo started life as a puppy . . . ]

As one of the first people to successfully train a working Seizure Alerter, [Probably no need to say both "successfully" and "working," as either implies the other.] and one of the few to have to defend my rights in court, I am in a unique position to tell this story. [You are highly qualified; as one of a few, your position isn't unique.] [Also, not sure I'd call this a story. Although . . . if you want to appeal to young readers, maybe you could work your knowledge into a story about a kid and a service dog.] At 60,000 words the manuscript is brief enough for children and adults seeking answers. [No need to mention that it's brief enough for adults, as adults can handle long books. Also, you already said the book is aimed at younger readers. Plus, the title seems more appealing to children than adults.]

Thank you for your consideration.

[Note to EE: The title is something I hear almost every time we go out. We also hear "Doggy! Mommy look! Wow-wow! Puppy! POODLE!" But that seemed a bit long for a title.]


Are you planning a Braille version?

It would be cool if someone whose disability left him unable to turn the pages of a book bought your book and his service dog turned the pages for him.

I assume there are books about service dogs on the market. Have you shown that they don't cover the topic as ____________ly as yours does?

The title seems aimed at young readers. But the interviews with noted trainers and breeders of Service Dogs, discussions with lawyers about the legal rights of Service Dogs, and historic precedents from the Middle Ages don't sound as appealing to young readers. Is it possible that you're trying to be too comprehensive, trying to appeal to everyone? My uninformed opinion is that kids will be interested in the choosing, training, matching up, photos of dogs in action, and cleverly worded bios. And that adults who want to know about service dogs will use the Internet.

I would focus the query on what appeals to young readers, and liven it up with fun stuff, maybe an anecdote or two. Right now it seems dry and listy.


150 said...

Are the people going "Doggy! Mommy look! Wow-wow! Puppy! POODLE!" really up for 60k of history and law? When is the last time you heard of a parent reading a 60k nonfiction book to their seven-year-old?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

150 raises a good point. A picture book seems more suited to the too-young-to-know-better-than-to-point crowd.

Your query says "school library market" to me. These are the sort of hardcover books-- 128 pages with photographs-- that are published specifically for libraries so that kids can check them out when they're doing a report for school. I've written a couple of these. You get about $2,500 a pop. Because that's not enough money to attract an agent, you sell direct to the publisher.

A quick amazon search shows that there are already several kids' books on this topic.It's likely some if not all of the authors of the other books have experience training service dogs.

How is yours different?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

ps-- by "How is yours different" I mean your book, not your experience.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

pps-- in re GTP #5; there actually was a doggy restaurant in Anchorage at one time.

Very briefly.

Very very briefly.

Khazar-khum said...

Author here.

I need all the input I can get! Shaping this to fit the needs of the market is a tough one.

We get stopped by people daily who ask the same questions over and over. My idea was a book that would cover the basic questions.

I couldn't decide if it would be better told as a story(ie, Tim's grandma gets a service dog), or a more comprehensive question/answer book.

There is a lot of misunderstanding in regards to service dogs. You would be surprised by some of the things that I hear on a daily basis. The most common is "Poodles can't be service dogs!" Mia is a Standard Poodle, and has become something of an ambassador.

Jo-Ann said...

@Alaska - doggy restaurnt, eh? There's a few of them in Hong Kong and China. As I found out after picking something from a menu without really understanding what it was.
Did I ever tell the story of how I became a vegetarian?
@ writer the part about training a dog to alert the human about an impending seizure sounds really interesting. How many seizures does the dog need to be exposed to in its training to learn to respond? Does that involve triggering a seizure? Do you use animals bred to have seizures to provide the dog with enough training? I might have to waste more time googling this to find out. At this rate, my WIP will have to wait even longer.

Khazar-khum said...

Jo-Ann: My first seizure dog, Cybele, was alerting me--and I was too dumb to understand what she was doing. It took me waking up in the chair with her holding me in place before I understood. After that it was a matter of figuring our how she knew, and how to fine tune our working together.

It's a scent, BTW. When it was time to train Mia, it was easier because we knew what to have her respond to. I made some suggestions about what a seizure alerter should do to the IAADP, and those are now part of the program.

I have anywhere from 2-100 seizures daily, so teaching them what to look for is easy for me. For someone who isn't so "lucky" they are taught first to respond to shaking/odd movement; over time they will learn their person's unique scent.

none said...

I saw a short segment in a tv programme about training dogs to alert their owners to upcoming seizures. It involved a woman lying on the floor while the trainer played with and rewarded the dog. Apparently the idea was to teach the dog that a seizure is the most exciting wonderful thing EVER!

I guess you work with what the dog's got.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Khazar-Khum, this is going to be a difficult one to pinpoint. You need to hone in on audience.

The 60k is really too long even for the school library report-writing market.

There are several Timmy Gets a Guide Dog picture books already. Focusing on the seizure dogs might give you more of an edge. I'm not sure if that's been done. (But you can find out pretty quickly on WorldCat or amazon.)

I'd say go to the library, find recent nonfiction books-- not necessarily similar in subject matter, but similar in format to what you want to do. Do a rough word count. Identify the publishers and go from there.

Jo-Ann, no, how did you become a vegetarian?

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

K-K, ps-- my sister's in rehabilitation counseling and told me about how the seizure dog discovery was made... waitasecond, that was you?

Khazar-khum said...

AlaskaRavenclaw: The first ones were before me. I'd seen the TV shows, and seen an article, but nowhere did they suggest how it was done---because they didn't know. Some people seriously thought the dogs were psychic. We figured out that it was scent.

I don't teach them it's 'fun' so much as their 'responsibility' to handle. The Poodles see it as a challenge and a duty.

none said...

Okay, now I want to read the book about how we learnt to understand how poodles see things.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

I am intrigued.

For younger readers, have you considered it from the s.d'd point of view? Your dog hears the same thing expulsions/questions you do everyday.

A poodle is a perfect breed to add a different dimension to what the public perceives to be a sd.

You've got fertile ground for myth busting.

Maybe define your market clearly and stick with it. Sounds like you want to explain life with a sd
to kids but the info/experience you have over grew the story. I think you need to pick one. You could add a note/chapter to the grownups.