Rhyming Gets a Bad Rap


“Hubert the Lion was haughty and vain

And especially proud of his elegant mane.” ~Bill Peet

One of my favorite picture books as a child: HUBERT’S HAIR-RAISING ADVENTURE, and I still love, love, love it today. My kids will even request it as one of their pre-bedtime books.  All thirty-eight pages. Over two-thousand words. A dozen characters. And . . . it rhymes.

Rhyming picture books get a bad rap. Lots of writers and agents I’ve spoken with at conferences and corresponded with via blogs say the same thing: rhyme is a hard sell, no one likes to buy it. Some discourse on the topic can be found here and here.

It basically comes down to too much bad rhyme makes the gatekeepers wary of all rhyme. Plus, the fact it’s difficult to translate into other languages which limits potential sales. Not a good selling point for business-minded publishers.

I don’t write rhyme these days, but I do appreciate rhyme done well. I’ll even shell out my hard-earned dollar to purchase rhyming books for my family and as gifts for my friends’ kids. Some favorites over the years include: SOME DOGS DO by Jez Alborough, ROOM ON THE BROOM by Julia Donadson, and ZIN! ZIN! ZIN! A VIOLIN by Lloyd Moss.

There’s nothing more magical than the cadence and lyricism of a beautifully illustrated, impeccably rhymed story. How about you? What are some of your favorites?

Picture 20-Nov-2012 by Karin Blaski

It’s All In The Details


My latest WIP is now in the hands of my agent after a month-long round of edits. Fingers crossed that it will make it to the submission phase before the year is out. We’re working on a pitch, which is a good sign.

The interesting thing about this latest round of edits is that I added words instead of editing them out. And it was challenging, and tricky, and time-consuming (yes, I spent 90 minutes on two sentences that I can recite in my sleep), and dare I say–fun. It appears that my first few go a-rounds had left out important details.

My excuse? I’m a get to the point kinda gal. When I read the work of author’s burying me in atmosphere I have been known to skip to the juicy parts. (Unless the atmosphere is completely captivating, an important part of the mystery, or I’m enamored with the writer’s skill, then I’ll dawdle over it.) In turn, when I write, I try to follow Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing, or at least I follow number ten, which is “. . . leave out the parts that people skip.” And it’s predecessor 9. “Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.” So most of my writing comes out lean and mean, fresh and clean.

But what I failed to realize is my short stories/flash fiction that’s been published is the writing that has those little details. Those details are what draw out tension, add character flavor, and make readers feel like they’re right there in the pages of the story.

My duh moment.

So while BAD MOJO winds its way through Veritas, I’ve started something new: a middle grade sci-fantasy novel, sort of a Super8/ET meets The Secret Garden, with the Blaski spin of course. It’s WIP title is BLUEFLY. And you can bet those little details are spinning earlier rather than later.

Now if I can just get a handle on rule number 5. “Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.” Kinda tough when your protagonist is an enthusiastic eleven-year old.

Photo by Jack Schiffer

Observations on the Beach: Electrons vs Paper


The beach is the perfect place to read, and in June, I was able to spend two weeks of blissful sun ray soaking, sandy toe stroking, gentle surf sounding, reading time. I even broke my personal reading record: five books in two weeks. As you can imagine, it was hard to leave that perfect reading environment behind.

Each day, after diving in to a good book for a couple hours at a time, when I finally came up for air, I did some people watching on the beach. And, nosey gal that I am, I took a peak at what they were reading. Mainly, paperbacks. Yes, there were Kindles and Nooks (I saw three of one and two of the other on the first day), and a spattering of hardcover books (three throughout the week), but by and large, beachers were reading paperbacks in every genre.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to ask someone. Well, okay, a few someones that had fatefully unfolded their chairs near mine.

Rachel from Virgina, reading Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, told me she owns a Kindle, but would never bring it to the beach because of the sand. “Even if you don’t drop it, there’ll be sand on your hands when you’re touching the screen.” She said a paperback is lower risk and just as satisfying.

Mark from N. Carolina, reading The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal, sitting next to Maggie with a Nook reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, said a paperback felt better. “The sun warms the pages. It feels good. Better than that machine she’s got there.”

Maggie, on the other hand, was all for portability. “I got too much to lug around as it is. And this thing holds an entire library.”

Finally, Carla from S. Carolina reading Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks, said, “I’ve always brought a new paperback to the beach, ever since I was a kid. I pass them around when I’m done and someone hands me off another. The condo I’m staying at has a bunch and you can tell they’ve been well read. It’s recycling.”

So there you have it. My completely non random non statistical sample of the books and book format people read on the beach. And me? I was one of the three with a hardback book. Dust jackets repel sand as well as dust.

How about you? What do you bring to the beach?

Photo © Alex Bramwell