Sunday, April 27, 2008

Problem Solving, Animal Attacks & Raising Kids, etc.

When Bunny texted me the photo of my box of author copies I called him and asked how they looked.

He said the box got pretty banged up so a couple were bent up a bit.

Which wasn't what I meant at all. How did they look inside?

I don't think he thumbed through all 39 books that arrived, but the ones he looked at were fine.

Now, there are certain things that will strike fear in the heart of any author. An impending Kirkus review. Their editor being fired months before their publication date. A copycat photo on the cover that will be picked on at The Rap Sheet.

And the biggie... A printing problem.

I've heard absolute horror stories about printing problems. I heard one story that involved a defective cover, resulting in the recall of a whole print run... and the author was dropped because they didn't qualify the returns.

So, when you hear that there's been a printing problem you reach for a paper bag to help you breathe.

It turns out, as far as we can tell, Norby got the one, lonely copy with a printing problem. My editor checked all the copies at the office. My author copies (as many as Bunny checked) seem to be fine. Randy's reading the book and didn't notice chapter 1 was all screwed up, so it's looking good.

The great thing is, Norby knows me, so she let me know right away. I followed up with the team at Dorchester, and resident marketing goddess Erin offered to replace the copy for Norby. How sweet is that?! And the advantage is, the faulty copy will be given to the printers, so they can see if they can pinpoint what went wrong and make sure it doesn't happen again.

Problem solved.

And in San Francisco, the problem of Pierre the Penguin's swimlessness has been solved with the creation of a wetsuit specially designed for him. Apparently he's not getting a matching surfboard, though.

Animal Attacks

Last week, I was flipping channels and ended up listening to some commentary on THE VIEW. It was then that I learned about the parents who'd turned their 18-year-old son over to police when they discovered chemicals needed to build bombs and a journal detailing plans to blow up his high school.

Joy Behar kept talking about aren't there warning signs with these kids? She did mention animal attacks.

It got me wondering: how many times has a dog been euthanized for suddenly displaying aggression and trying to bite someone, when in reality it was defending itself against a kid who was starting to cross the line? (Not to be confused with animals that attack, but you can read about The Revenge of the Killer Duck by following the link.)

I don't know if Joy is a parent or not, but I am completely confident in saying this: most parents want to believe the best about their kids. I mean, come on. How many are shocked when their teenage sweetie gets pregnant (uh, Mrs. Spears is coming to mind at the moment) or they find out they've been skipping school or something?

I can actually understand that moment of shock, discovering those things, and the automatic voice in your head that says, "Not my baby. This must just have been a way of venting, that's all. He wouldn't actually do this." Probably because I've seen the responses of parents when I've had to address discipline issues in the past.

I know my child. My child would never do that.

Ah, see, that's why we filmed them today, so you can see for yourself...

We see warning signs with people all the time and don't intervene because we don't know what to do, and we want to believe the best. Those parents did what was probably the hardest thing they've ever had to do in their life... it's really not that easy.

Kids become teenagers, and they're like aliens. Uncommunicative, convinced their parents don't understand. Many parents don't build positive relationships and foster open communication in the formative years - which is critical - and by the time kids are teenagers it's too late. They don't have the habit of talking to their parents, don't feel they can, and hell, the parents think this is normal. Sadly, it is, but it shouldn't be.

(Thanks Norby)

And if you want your kids to talk to you, you have to talk to them.

Yeah, yeah, the non-parent is dispensing parenting advice. I've worked with enough children over the years, and have seen the differences in how staff interact with kids, and why some kids open up to some staff and not others. My ex-husband always said I should forget the past, but my own philosophy is that we don't learn from it unless we process it. I've talked bluntly with my niece about some things that happened to me in high school. I'm okay with admitting my own mistakes, or stupid things I did in my youth... and then saying that I just hope she doesn't have to go through that.

Because that's the point, isn't it? Parents often come down hard on their own kids because they don't want them to make the same mistakes they made when they were their age. Responding with judgment and scorn isn't going to make kids want to talk to you. You have to be human enough, and vulnerable enough, to try to understand what's going on with them, and cut them some slack because - after all - they're only human and not one of us on this planet is perfect.

Although I suspect that the parents of four teenagers charged after a stolen pickup crashed in Bracebridge aren't too happy today...

On a totally different note, there's a nice feature on author Sujata Massey in the Baltimore Sun.


I almost don't want to mention this, because I don't want my mini-rant associated with a moment of tragic loss that will haunt a family for a lifetime. None of what I've said is about them. Sadly, I'm aware of the side-effects of anti-depressants, and I might draw small consolation if I believed this tragedy would influence some change in how people given such medications are monitored. A Carlton University student was laid to rest yesterday, believed to have committed suicide because of the side-effects of the prescription she was given. It's been on my mind a lot. My heart goes out to the family, which I'm sure is no comfort to them in this difficult time, and everything I say here sounds cliche. Does it sound any better to say I've shed my tears for you from afar?

Probably not.


Anonymous said...

I just couldn't believe it when I opened the book is all-I knew how anxious you were about the book coming out, and here it was out early even-and my heart just sank. I was so relieved to find out that it was just my copy.

That video is great isn't it-parents want to regulate what their kids do online, just as soon as their kids show them how...

Randy Johnson said...

No problems with the book yet. If the printing goof was chapter one, you're okay. I've bought books in the past that had sections bound upside down, one that had one section doubled(with a section missing where double was. Nothing like that here. Norby's was probably an isolated incident.