Writers & Quokkas & your opinion on the BigHoneyDog novel chances?

Oh, I’d forgotten to tell you in the last post about our other big news from the past week….

The-End

Yes! My human, Hsin-Yi, finally finished the 1st draft of the Big Honey Dog mystery novel!!!! :D

Manuscript progress:

Er…yeah, Hsin-Yi has actually written FAR too many words! ;-) But that’s OK – she’s going to start revisions now and so she will be trying to cut as many words as she can…try to get the wordcount back down to around 40,000.

Thank you for being so patient with us in the recent months when we haven’t been very sociable ‘coz Hsin-Yi was spending all her free time on the novel. I know we’re still really slack with coming to visit your blogs – but we’re trying the best we can – so please forgive us!

Now Hsin-Yi is going to start doing something called “revising & editing” where she will be reading over the whole story again and taking things out, changing things and adding things to see if she can make it better (she says now the real work begins! ;-) ). And then we’ll be sending it out to beta readers for some feedback (Thank you to all of those who have volunteered!) – and while they are reading it, it will give Hsin-Yi a chance to “take a break” from the manuscript – because it’s very important to do that, so that when you come back to revise again, you can look at it with fresh eyes. (People say you should really try to put the manuscript away for a month!). After the beta readers get back to us with their thoughts, there will be one more revision & final check…and then my book will be ready for submission. GULP! :P

Of course, Hsin-Yi could not have done it without all the help from Muesli & me…look how hard we’ve been working! ;-)

Honey+Muesli-sleep-bed4

Well, it’s been a a very exciting week for “writerly stuff” – aside from finishing the novel, Hsin-Yi also went to a writers’ festival on Rottnest Island.

HY+SCBWI-sign

Rottnest is a beautiful little island just off the coast of Perth. You can get there by a 1/2hr ferry ride. It’s a very special island because there are only a few buildings and no car machines are allowed – everybody has to get around on foot or bicycles! :-) (OK, there is a bus machine service too) and it is so lovely and peaceful and unspoilt…perfect for a writers’ retreat! ;-)

Rottnest-harbour

pelican seagulls-Rottnest

Rottnest-harbour4

There’s lots of wildlife on the island but there was one creature that Hsin-Yi was desperate to meet. She had heard so much about them and seen pictures of them – they look like the CUTEST things in the world! They’re a small marsupial called the Quokka and most of them live on Rottnest Island. They look like giant cute rats that hop around, with a smiley face and a bendy tail. They are adorable!

(image courtesy of www.experienceperth.com )

(images courtesy of www.experienceperth.com )

People had been telling Hsin-Yi that Quokkas are really tame & friendly ‘coz they  have no natural predators on the island and so they don’t know how to be scared of anything. They’ll hop right up to you and around you, when you’re sitting around on the island, relaxing & having lunch or something…and they even hop into the island cafes and around the tables & booths! The Waiter Humans have to keep shooing them out! ;-)

Well, Hsin-Yi didn’t really believe all this until she walked out of one of the writing sessions and there was a Quokka! It was just hopping around, amongst all the writers milling around, completely unbothered… :-)

quokka

It’s one reason why – sadly – doggies & kitties are not allowed on Rottnest Island. So my humans can never take me there to have adventures. But I guess it’s important to protect these cute little Quokkas!

You can stay in little cottages on the island – that’s what most of the other writers did – but it cost quite a lot of money paper to stay for the whole festival so Hsin-Yi didn’t go for the whole time, just for some events. She got some great tips & advice, though, and it was nice to meet other writers and make new friends.

Rottnest-harbour2

Hsin-Yi also got a “manuscript critique” from a visiting editor on her first couple of chapters, which was really useful – to have somebody ‘professional’ look at her writing & her story and tell her if it’s any good. Well, the good news is that the editor really liked it! She thought that Hsin-Yi wrote very well and loved the ideas & characters in the chapter. And she had lots of good suggestions to help Hsin-Yi in the revisions.

BUT – here’s the question we need your help with:

- the main thing the editor said was: the story & writing & characters are great but she’s worried ‘coz it features dogs as the main characters. And publishers always think that people won’t want to read stories about “talking animals” (unless they’re small human pups).

Because see, Hsin-Yi’s writing style is “older” and the mystery plot for the novel is more complicated with layers & themes and it’s quite dark too…so the story is probably better suited to an older audience, like 10yrs+ and teenagers & even adults who enjoy a good mystery…

Honey+specs+animalbooks2But then publishers think that older kids & teenagers & adults won’t want to read a story just featuring animals (& told from their point of view) ‘coz that would be baby-ish!

So the editor told Hsin-Yi that she should think about maybe “dumbing down” the book and making it simpler, so that it would fit a younger audience (but Hsin-Yi thinks this would ruin the story :-( ) – otherwise, the editor thinks that it will be pitched “too high” – and since older kids & teenagers & adults won’t want to read a book told from animals’ point of view – so nobody will buy it!! :-(  And of course, if they think nobody will buy it, then publishers won’t want to give you a book deal.

What do you think?

Hsin-Yi is hoping that if she writes a good enough story – even older kids & teenagers & adults might want to read it – even if it does feature animals as the main characters! ;-) There seem to be lots of animal lovers out there who enjoy stories about animals – whatever their age. Hsin-Yi was reading animal stories when she was a teenager too and even as an adult.

But of course, maybe she’s just the exception? Maybe the publishers are right and most people think that animal stories are just for little kids & babies and wouldn’t want to be seen reading them…??  It is true that most books for teenagers & adults are told from the human’s point of view and not from the animals. Yes, there are some that only feature the animals’ voices (that are successful!) but they are very rare – so maybe the publishers have a point… (it’s not just this 1 editor’s opinion – Hsin-Yi has heard the “no talking animals” taboo mentioned many times by other editors & agents in interviews & articles when she was doing research)

We would really love to hear your thoughts ‘coz Hsin-Yi was feeling a bit disheartened when she came back. Do you think nobody “older” will want to read a mystery featuring “talking dogs”??

******

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87 Responses to Writers & Quokkas & your opinion on the BigHoneyDog novel chances?

  1. Louise Cocks says:

    As a teenager, and even now, I would be happy to read a book with animals as the main characters! I think you should write the story you want to write, not one that will ‘sell’. If it’s a good story, people will read it regardless. (And the publishers have a lot to do with whether people realise it’s not pitched at kids – with the cover, blurb and marketing.)

  2. Gadi Ben-Avi says:

    Hi,
    I love reading books where the main characters are doggies.

  3. Kris Zuppan says:

    If the publishers are made aware of your blogs and the number of readers and fan base You and Hsin-Yi have – there should be no problem finding a publisher, no matter what the intended age of the audience.

  4. Irene says:

    Oh no, I think there will be a lot of older children and adults who would love to read it (including me). I think you should follow your own intuition!

  5. sara says:

    Ugh, I left a comment and it disappeared :( Trying again…..

    I’ve read several good “adult” books told from the dog’s perspective. “If Only I could Talk” was one of the best books I’ve ever read. However, it is self published. I wonder if publishers are resistant due to the narrator? A shame, because it is a great book, but few will ever get to read it. The author is easily accessible if you’d like to ask him yourself:

    http://www.ifonlyicouldtalk.co.uk/

    A popular series told from the dog’s perspective is available on the mass market: Chet and Bernie mysteries, by spencer quinn. They are fun stories! My dad isn’t really a “dog person” and he loves those books.

    http://www.amazon.com/Spencer-Quinn/e/B001JS18L2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

    So, I believe there are many young people who would enjoy reading from the dog’s point of view, and I say stick with your original idea.

    • bighoneydog says:

      Oh thank you, Sara – I will definitely check these out! I think I have heard of the Chet & Bernie mysteries – in fact, I think Mango Momma mentioned them to me! :-)

      Hsin-Yi

  6. Nicole says:

    Just look at the followers on your blog? Surely all of them are adults? So why wouldn’t we want to read a story ‘written’ by a dog?
    I think this editor is just not a ‘doggy’ person :D

    PS – I would love to volunteer to read it if you need any more test subjects – but if not, that’s great too xxx

    • bighoneydog says:

      Oh, thank you, Nicole – for your support & your offer! :-) I think I’ve got quite a few beta readers already at the moment but if I need another opinion, I will certainly come to you! Maybe I could send you a first copy to review? ;-)

      Hsin-Yi

  7. Amy Atherton says:

    As a young adult, it sounds like the sort of book I WOULD want to read. There are plenty of great books out there for older children with animals as the main characters. No need to ‘dumb’ down the story.

    • bighoneydog says:

      Aw, thank you, Amy! It’s great to hear it “from the horse’s mouth” so to speak – an opinion from the intended audience! ;-)

      Hsin-Yi

  8. Dee says:

    I think you are asking the wrong audience. ;-) but, yeah I love books with talking animals. Colin Dann, Richard Adams peter s. Beagle all write books in that vein I’d be happy to read as an adult and have on my shelf. Some with very dark themes! My nan actually introduced me to Brian jacques redwall series. Although there all deal with wild or feral animals. Maybe that makes a bit of a difference? Try sending to publishing houses who already have a history of this type of story?

    Hey, I just realised they are all men! Ah although my favourite is e Mitchell’s silver brumby series but they are marketed surely for children. Or were?

    • bighoneydog says:

      Yeah, Dee, you’re right – I’m probably “preaching to the converted”!! ;-) Still, it’s the only big group of people I know to ask! :-)

      Yes, I loved all the books you mentioned too (Oh, except that I hadn’t read the Redwall series) – but of course, I don’t know if I’m in the minority. And it’s the majority that sells books! ;-)

      But it’s really encouraging hearing from everybody – at least I’ll know that SOME adults might be willing to take a chance on it! ;-)

      Hsin-Yi

  9. Melanie & Grendel says:

    Redwall!!!! How could I have forgotten that series??? Thanks for the reminder, Dee!

    Hsin-Yi, have you read any of these? Redwall is a great example of a series where ALL the characters are animals and the books are cross-marketed to both children and ADULTS. One of our bookstores stocks the titles in two locations — the middle-grade kids’ section and the adult fantasy section. The books are LONG, there’s a million characters and very intricate plots.

    I’ve got all the Redwall books. The only negative thing I’ll say about them is that the plots started to get a little bit repetitive…. But not ’til after the 12th book or so, so I don’t think that’s anything for you to worry about yet ;-).

    • bighoneydog says:

      Oh yes, I have heard of Redwall and actually downloaded the first book on my Kindle to check it out. I thought I couldnt’ really compare to my book, though, coz the characters in Redwall seem more anthropomorphised? You know, wearing clothes and being “monks” and knights and stuff…and so that seemed more like proper fantasy. Whereas mine (as you know! ;-) ) is still very firmly set in the “real” world – where the dogs act like dogs – but just that the story is told from the dog’s point of view.

      Still, maybe if people are willing to like books where animals act unrealistically, they’d be just as happy to take books where animals act more like themselves! ;-)

      Hsin-Yi

  10. I think the editors are underestimating the ability of younger teens – those who love to read will without understand it. More than anything – it is all about the story and if that captures ones imagination then young or old it will work for them.

    Loved all your pictures from Rottnest.

  11. Jacky says:

    Can I comment – not being a kid or a parent?
    If the story is good there will be an audience. Characters, human or not, are a way to live vicariously and do NOT require us to see ourselves in them. Weren’t the Harry Potter books turned down by 22 publishers?
    Looking at the (close) kids in my life, I know that they (girl 9, boy 12) would love to read a book with dog characters. To gain access to their club you have to be kissed by Jessica, their rescue pup. And they are often more glad to visit my dogs than me.
    Speaking to their mom I know that there is a shortage of ‘smart’ stories for kids because people underestimate what kids like. Early teens love the darker side and pre-teens like the ‘romance’ of animal characters. These kids love the book series on the Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, How to train your dragon etc. and are forever making up their own worlds with gods, demi-gods, super powers … all with a lot of detail and thought (right down to marriage partners with complementing powers and histories of kids). I have to listen intently on our walks to keep up.
    Then also look at the success of 101 Dalmations, Lady & Tramp, Garfield, Beethoven, Marmaduke etc. We all enjoyed them regardless of age. With animation we are all more likely to accept animal characters – if my German hubby can enjoy A Bugs Life & Monsters Inc. then I am sure there is an audience for the book.
    There would be no new genres if we just followed existing success recipes!

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thanks, Jacky – it’s great to hear about your “little friends” and how they think. Wow – couldn’t believe the detail they get into! :-)

      Yes, you’re right – a good story should work across all ages. Funny that you should mention animation coz one thing that this editor & other peer critiques have said is that my writing is very “visual” and that they thought the story would make a great animated movie. ;-) Shame you have to get published first, though – hee! Hee!

      Hsin-Yi

      • Jacky says:

        Very visual … that was the EXACT term I used when reading the first Harry Potter book (think the later books lost some of that).

  12. Maria Guadalupe Cabral says:

    Hi Honey! Tell Hsin-Yi she shouldn’t worry. Some of my favourite books have animals as main characters, and I wasn’t so little when I read them for the first time. Besides, nowadays there aren’t so many good books featuring animals for teenagers and up, better take advantage of that ;)

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thanks, Maria – yes, you’re right about not many books featuring animals for teenagers & up…maybe there’s a gap in the market and we can fill that niche! ;-)

      Hsin-Yi

  13. paedelium says:

    I was a total book addict throughout my tweens and teens — even now the books that struck dearest to my heart were the ones from the POV of animals — from classics such as Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, Richard Adams’ Watership Down, to Brian Jacques’ Redwall, Garry Kilworth’s Welkin Weasels, Erin Hunter’s warrior cats, David Clement-Davies’ Firebringer, The Sight and Fell.

    What’s really special about animals’ POV is that it adds a fantasy element — it’s novel and you don’t have to worry of the banal details of human life. A lot of these stories really delve into deeper and darker themes that younger children would not understand — such as tyranny and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, death and suffering etc. This also allows commentary on humanity– good and bad.

    It never bothers me that animals “talk” in stories. I assume some speak literally (like in Redwall), while others speak in animal language. (In fact, I believe animals communicate perfectly well, only humans are notoriously bad at understanding them!) But it never really interferes with the flow of the story.

    Sure, lots of kids’ stories have “talking” animals in it, but that doesn’t mean that every story with “talking” animals must be for kids. :)
    So go for it!

    • bighoneydog says:

      Oh, I so relate to what you said about the “specialness” of books from an animal’s POV. I never like animals stories where the animals are too anthropomorphised…I like the ones where they act like real animals and you’re sort of invited into their world (like Watership Down) – like what you said about the “fantasy element” and yet the things that affect them – the themes, etc – are a reflection of things in our world. It’s a more subtle way of talking about some of the darker things in life.

      Thanks for your great & thoughtful comment!

      Hsin-Yi

  14. honeyis says:

    Hey Honey,
    As a budding author myself some of the best advise that I’ve been given is to write the story for the stories sake, not the publishers. Now obviously you do want to ‘sell’ it to the publishers but the market is always changing and it is more important to have a strong story line and believable characters than to have a commercial idea. Publishers are often looking for something different as the market is always changing.

    Also there are several awsome books told from the perspectives of animals. The most famous are probably the redwall books. My favourite author Robin Hobb’s most recent series features the story told from the perspective of dragons and in previous series have featured serpents as character’s with leading viewpoints. There are several different viewpoints in that series but it does show that even in proper adult books (albeit fantasy) there’s still room for not quite human perspectives.

    Good luck with your book Hsin Yi

    Niki, Honey and Beau

    • bighoneydog says:

      Oh, I didn’t realise that you’re a “budding author” too, Niki! What sort of projects are you working on? Good luck with that! :-)

      Thanks for your thoughts – I hadn’t heard of the series from a dragon’s perspective. Wow, not only animal but an imaginary one – ha! ha! Must check them out.

      Hsin-Yi

      • Niki says:

        Hey Hsin-Yi,

        Thankyou! I am currently working on a fantasy adventure novel set in a world with a pantheon of gods, populated by both humans and mythical monsters. Some of the monsters are from a variety of mythologies like the Each Uige a Scottish shape-shifter who could appear as either a horse or a man. A favourite ploy of the Each Uisge was to lure people onto his back in horse form and then race into the ocean where he would drown them and tear their bodies apart. Others are inventions of my imagination :)

        Robin Hobb who writes the dragon books is definitely my favourite and my biggest influence, what are you favourite books and who are your inspirations?

        I’ve enjoyed a few other books told from the perspective of fantasy creatures like Dark Elves and Orcs, but these are very humanised.

        : )

        Niki

  15. Was that a Lassie book that Honey is holding in the picture! Pawsome!

    Regarding opinions…Mommy looked at Mommy’s niece’s Summer Reading list. Mommy’s niece is an early teenager now. Anyway, Mommy’s niece doesn’t like to read very much — so picking a book to read over the break –was very hard.

    There were summaries of what each book was about on the Summer Reading list page. I say 99% of the books on the summer reading list were about people with rare diseases or illnesses. For example, one book was about a person whose leg was bit off by a shark. (Mommy would have nightmares reading that book, and would never go to the beach again!) Other books were basically about people with strange diseases who were dying, or coping with people who died. (Sounds depressing.)

    There was one book about a Dairy Farmer’s Daughter that didn’t look like it was about any illnesses.

    Mommy’s niece ended up choosing the Dairy Farmer’s book to read this summer.

    In Mommy’s personal opinion, she would rather her niece read a nice PG related book (like with talking animals) than read a horror story over their summer break. Mommy’s niece ended up picking the Dairy Farmer’s book to read for the summer break.

    Mommy says keep the book the way you wrote it — don’t dumb it down.

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thank you, Lassie & Benji, for your comment – and it was really interesting (& helpful) to hear a real life example!

  16. honeyis says:

    Also forgot to mention possibly my favourite animal perspective book Black Beauty! (don’t know how I forgot that one)

  17. Cathy R says:

    I really think that the opinion of one editor should not be taken as a representative of the whole. There are many series out there where the narrator is an animal (someone already mentioned Chet and Bernie mysteries and Watership Down, and Brian Jaques – but there is also Joe Grey the cat, Charlotte the Spider, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Doranna Durgan (Nose for Trouble) etc etc etc.

    I think the key is to write a book that is so memorable that it doesn’t matter the subject matter. If you can truly capture the attention of a wide range of people (of all ages), then you will have a marketable product.

    In my opinion, you encountered an editor who doesn’t specialize in your type of book, and therefore can’t appreciate it.

    Don’t ever underestimate your audience, no matter what their ages.

    And side note: Quokkas are one of the cutest animals I have ever seen!!! And I was kind of in love with your wombat video…

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thanks, Cathy! :-) Actually, it wasn’t just this editor – I had heard it from other sources in the publishing industry before – it’s one of the “accepted truths” that gets told to new authors – that they should avoid writing about “talking animals” because lots of editors & agents will just turn it down flat. But you’re right – that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. :-)

      A bit like a lot of people saying Great Danes aren’t suitable as a first dog because they can be “too much dog” for a first-time owner to handle. I knew when we got Honey that lots of people were horrified and thought we should have started with an “easier” breed…and yes, it has been a challenge & a steep learning curve – I won’t deny that! :P – but I think we have managed to “do it”, even with a difficult breed.

      Anyway, thanks again for your thoughts! Oh – and I agree with you – it’s a really hard toss-up between the wombat and the quokka!! :D

      Hsin-Yi

      • Jacky says:

        I had a favorite English teacher who always said: “The ‘people’ are idiots. Don’t listen to them.”

  18. minabey says:

    I am leaning towards sticking with your story line. I mean Harry Potter was pre-teen at the beginning of the series but it’s appreciated by people of various age range – from young kids to teens to adults. Good luck with whatever you choose!

  19. Hi Honey, We’re so glad to see that you’re doing well. Our mom has a message for Hsin-Yi about your book,

    Hi Hsin-Yi,
    As an avid reader (I devour novels by the ton), I do read novels written from the point of view of animals. It doesn’t phase me in the least. You might look at “The White Bone” by Barbara Gowdy, written from the point of view of an elephant, to encourage you. It was highly successful. Definitely an adult read.

    You have a choice: you can write the book you want to write, telling the story you want to tell, or you can write a book that some editors who you don’t know very well tell you “might” be successful. One way or the other, you should go with your gut instinct. I believe you should go with your original vision of the story. Millions of kids love the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, and Charlotte’s Web is not a simple story, so if yours is of that type, you’ve got an audience out there who’s already used to being challenged by a dark and complex story. Someone else mentioned Black Beauty: still a favourite of millions of kids, and you can’t get much darker than that. So follow your heart!

    And thanks again for sharing all your beautiful photos with us – it’s like a mini-vacation every time we open your blog!

    • Jacky says:

      Loved The White Bone by Gowdy … read it in German. Had to restart a few times as it is written in elephant dialect which complicated my self-taught German.

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thank you so much for your comment – and all the encouragement! I will definitely check out “The White Bone” – sounds fascinating, I’d never heard of an elephant point of view before. :P

      Yes, I was one of those kids who LOVED Nancy Drew ;-) – which is one reason why my story is a mystery….I’m planning it to be the first in a series of mysteries, featuring dogs as the main characters…if the first book is successful, of course! ;-)

      Hsin-Yi

  20. Elena says:

    Ok now I’m confused.

    At the start I was really excited ad the idea of reading a book about a Dane because I love reading and I love Danes BUT now I think that as a matter of fact I never liked talking dogs because they are too much anthropomorphized BUT at the same time I remember that I enjoyed reading “Buster’s Diaries” by Roy Hattersley (italian version) because I found it hilarious!

    • bighoneydog says:

      Oh, I agree with you, Elena – I never like animals stories where the animals are too anthropomorphised either…I like the ones where they act like real animals and you’re sort of invited into their world (like Watership Down). But you’re right – maybe if it’s done well, then it doesn’t matter! :P

      Hsin-Yi

      • Stella says:

        That’s why I dislike The amazing Maurice and his educated rodents from Terry Pratchett. It is one of the side stories to the Disc world series.

        Did you read his youth books about Tiffany Archer (A hat full of Sky – here 11 yr, Wintersmith, I shall ware midnight -15 yr)? She is witch, like her granny was and has to learn the profession of witch craft and of healing by herbs & nursing and this burden of responsibility. It takes place on the Disc world too, but only meets the same witches. And at the same time, it takes place on the Chalks of England, near that hill with the encarved horse – a very undiscworldly quiet & clean setting ;-)
        This is not about animals as first characters, but about knowing who you are, where you live.You can read it as a witch-story, as a pastoral simple-life story, or as a very interesting theme. Pratchett was a teacher and knows children are not stupid.

        No way anymore to click for automaticly attending reactions?

  21. Shirley says:

    When my husband was writing a book in 1993, he sent some material to the American author Wallace Stegner. The letter he got back included the following advice: “Simply go ahead and write your book. Sell it after you’ve written it. If you try to sell it before you’ve written it, you may find yourself writing it to some editor’s prescription, and I would guess that your prescription is better than any editor’s.” This made sense then, and it still makes sense. Best of luck with the revisions.

    Shirley, Gina and Mandi

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thank you so much, Shirley, for sharing about your husband’s experience and the advice he got from the author. (How nice of the author to respond to him!) – yes, I’d been hearing similar advice from others too. I suppose you’re always doubtful when you’re not published yet. ;-)

      Hsin-Yi

  22. Mason Kern says:

    Don’t listen to that silly goose! My mom loves to read stories like that!

    ~Mason

  23. dawn and mikey the grey hound says:

    Hi Honey and Hsin-Yi,
    I think the writer you met would be correct twenty years ago. Today we have sophisticated animation that is geared toward all ages when animation was once geared toward a younger audience. If you are a good story teller (and you are) you will have an audience. You already have a built in audience through Honey and her zany adventures which will be a stepping off point. I think having a small audience that follows Honey’s every paw print and slobber will make a literary agent happy. Some thing to consider is putting a chapter or two in one of the many magazines that has already published an article by you or about you. Do you remember when J.k. Rowling was told that no one would read a fantasy book written by a female? Harry Potter books have sold every where and she is no longer on welfare.
    I think dumbing down the book is a big mistake. Kids are sophisticated today and expect to be talked to differently than when Dr.Seuss wrote books. I don’t think we should sell are children short when it comes to a book. Kids will fall in love with Honey, who I assume is the main character, and she will have her merry band of friends along with her and we will figure out who is good and who is evil. Referring back to J.K. Rowling, she created a whole vocabulary to tell her story and she had complex plots and characters and children and adults figured it out. I imagine kids who could not read had their parents read them the book and asked questions when they were confused. I think with Honey and her travails that the young and old will figure things out if they are complex. Imagine if someone told Shakespear to dumb down his writing, his works would not be Shakespearean. I believe you have a talent Hsin-Yi and Honey has a story that is universal. People love their pets. People love other people’s pets. People love stories about animals, and big doggies make us curious and want to know them. George, the largest dog in the world for 2012 now has his own book, calendar, and other stuff, and people can’t get enough of him. George has a king size bed in his owner’s bedroom who have their own king size bed. That intrigues folks because one has to have a big room for two king size beds. Honey, the Greatest Dane has the same kind of appeal because she is big, sweet and adventurous and it doesn’t hurt that she is photogenic.
    My vote is to keep putting one paw in front of the other and keep doing what you are doing. I think you have good gut instincts.
    I think it would be important for the book to have some illustrations and photos of Honey and her friends. This next thing is a bit hard to say. Say it takes a year or two before the book comes out, our beautiful Honey, the Greatest Dane might not be with us due to age. Have you thought about having professional photos of her that relate to parts of the book/story, as well as the front cover shot or back inside of the cover shot or the back of the book with you shot that books usually have? I know you have a zillion photos of Honey, but maybe you should consider taking a few more professional ones before too much time passes. (Sorry about that).
    Another thing I wanted to mention is that it is better for children to learn new words and look them up rather than dumb down a book. I still love books by authors with a sophisticated writing style that challenges me with the plot as well as with the vocabulary. Being that so many people speak in code these days with their cell phones we are losing over one thousand words to the English Language and I am counting on you Hsin-Yi to bring some of them back.
    Honey, the Greatest Dane, enchants and engages so many of us for so many different reasons, and through your writing and picture taking keeps us coming back to your site. I think there is a wider audience who is just waiting to meet the Dane some of us already know. You have had lightening in a bottle for nine years amusing you and Paul. Honey is ready to find her audience.
    How do you become a beta audience?
    Best wishes and lots of slobbers,
    Dawn and Mikey the Grey Hound

    P.S. Mikey the Grey HOund is waiting with stinky doggie baited breath to read the book!

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thank you so much, Dawn, for your long & thoughtful comment! I think you’re right about kids often being much smarter & able to cope with more than adults think. Oh, and don’t worry – I had been thinking the same thing about Honey. I know she is a very old dog now and we never know how much longer we will have with her. Because of this, I have actually been thinking seriously about going an alternative route with e-publishing because it would make the book available much faster than traditional publishing, which normally takes at least 2yrs…by which time, sadly, it will be a miracle if Honey is still with us! :-)

      Thanks also for your interest in being a beta reader! We already have a lot of volunteers already – but maybe you could be one of the first reviewers for the book on Amazon/Goodreads when it comes out? ;-)

      Hsin-Yi

      • dawn and mikey the grey hound says:

        I would go with the short route while Honey is with us. The bidding war for the movie rights will come second and if a publishing house wants to get in on the second book in the series you might want to consider them if they are not too greedy. Look how good the Despicables is doing. Tons of adults are going to see an animated film geared toward tweens, and younger. There was a movie about a bee with Jerry Seinfeld that did really well and he buzzed around with his friends. I think your book is coming out at a perfect time compared to ten or fifteen years ago. People are more willing to suspend their belief system and go with a story similar to the Harry Potter books which ended up appealing to boys, girls, men and women, just not the religious right. That’s what we call the Holy Rollers in America that thought anyone who read Harry Potter would go to hell and deal in witch craft. Forget about all the kids that hadn’t picked up a book in five years, shut off their computer and read, read read. Harry Potter was great for American children and literature as a whole. J.K. Rowling is living a writer’s dream and I bet the Queen will one day make her a Dame for what she has done for England. It also goes to show that one doesn’t have to have a University degree in English to write a novel. J.K. wasn’t posh or from the right circles, she was on welfare and is now worth several hundred million. I heard she was closer to a billionaire, but I am not positive about that fact. Maybe you will do so well you won’t have to worry about all your boxes, photos, and things you have saved over the years and will end up like a mini mogul J.K. Rowling and will be able to own a storage facility!
        Yes, I would love to get the book from Amazon and leave a witty retort.
        Thank you for responding to my questions over the last few months. I really appreciate it and Mikey the Grey HOund does too. Honey has had several Grey HOund friends that are black with the white bit on the chest and they all look like Mikey and Percy (who passed last year). Mikey’s lineage goes back to England and Australia. I didn’t realize Australian’s like to race Grey HOunds. Percy was a successful racer as was Mikey. Percy was really abused by the race track and it saddens me the more I learn about Grey Hound racing. The only racing that should be done is in the park with other doggy friends like the one you have on video with Honey. Honey tried to keep up with a black Grey hOund and she did for a second and than the Grey took off like lightening. Honey was smart and waited for the Grey to come back around to play. Why over exert yourself when you the dog will swing by you again. And that is why I love Honey!!!
        Slobbers, tail wags and best wishes for the book however you publish it. My dad’s good friend publishes his books himself and puts them in book stores and sells them on line. He hasn’t gotten rich but he makes a living. He has written about Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller (my dad’s deceased father in law), Maureen O’sullivan (Irish Actress), and other famous people. I think there was a baseball player he wrote about. So, it can be done to publish your book on your own terms. I don’t know how cheap it is though. One can always seek investors?
        Dawn and Mikey the Grey Hound

    • Stella says:

      Wen did she send in her first story? For what about the Dragon-series of Anne McCaffrey and the Many colored-land series of Julian May?

  24. ingrid says:

    Hi Hsin-Yi and Honey, I think you should go with your gut feel, I am 49 years old (young) and have all the Harry Potter books! LOVE Black Beauty, and cried for two weeks after watching Hachi (sp). A good read is a good read – don’t be bullied into changing your style, its awsome.

  25. Preeti Yeung says:

    Hi Hsin-Yi and Honey – I’ve only recently started following your blog, but I think I’ve read almost all of your entries! You have a knack for engaging storytelling, and I think the book will do very well. The premise of your book reminds me of a mystery dog book (geared towards adults) that I found very interesting – The Labrador Pact by Matt Haig. Best of luck!

    • bighoneydog says:

      Aw, thank you, Preeti, for your nice words & encouragement about my writing!! That book you mentioned sounds very interesting (especially as mine is a mystery too) – I must check it out! Thank you for telling me about it!

      Hsin-Yi

  26. In the states we have a book, which became a movie because of it’s popularity called, “Marley & Me.” It was popular with ALL ages! And, The Labrador Pact just like the last poster mentioned. And, Lassie, and yes Black Beauty. I think animal stories are for ALL people! I just recently joined your column and found Honey and I read every single blog and comments. I believe people of all ages love any story involving dogs and cats. Underdog is another one that has good overcoming evil and it’s a classic. So there. I would definitely buy your book Hi Hsin-Yi and Honey! Best of luck! :)

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Gail. Yes, I’ve heard of “Marley & Me”! :-) We have the book, although we didn’t get around to seeing the movie. I was just worried that mine is different coz my story is completely told from the dogs’ point of view. But still, you’re right – there are dogs lovers of all ages.

      Thank you for all your nice words about the blog and your advance support of the book! Gosh – I must be one of the few lucky people in the world who have got people saying they would buy the book before it even comes out! ;-)

      Hsin-Yi

  27. Kim says:

    I could simply say, “I agree” with all these wonderful and insightful posts, but I want to add my two cents and encourage you to move forward with the book as you originally intended. I’m a mature adult, but I would not miss an opportunity to read an animal themed book or see an animal themed movie, even if it’s animated.

    I also agree with others that younger readers are far more mature these days and don’t need you to dumb it down for them and that older readers would be happy to read a book about a dog if they are animal lovers. And please remember it is one opinion only…that doesn’t mean to say all editors would feel this way.

    My humble opinion is that you should consider changing it only if you don’t find any publishers willing to consider it the way it is.

    I’m so sorry I missed out on you looking for beta readers and I would love to give you my opinion as this is the kind of book I would actively seek to read. If you are still looking for volunteers, please consider me.
    Of course, I would still purchase a copy when you’re in print and hope to get your autograph ;-)

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thank you so much, Kim, for your thoughtful comment. It is wonderful to hear opinions all different age ranges…and to know that adults would be happy to read a book narrated by an animal too! :-)

      Thank you, also, for the offer to be a beta reader – If you don’t mind taking a raincheck – can I take up your offer after the book is published and ask you for a review on Amazon/Goodreads instead? ;-) Everyone’s been telling me that the key to books being successful is having lots of people review it (and hopefully saying nice things, of course – hee! Hee! ;-) ) – so I’m hoping that some of our followers here will act as “first reviewers” and help to spread the word.

      Hsin-Yi

  28. Dawn says:

    There are several good books such as “Racing in the Rain” or “One Good Dog” taken from the dogs perspective. I disagree with the editor.

  29. Madeleine says:

    Go for it Hsin-Yi – It’s your book, your ideas, and if you went away from what you felt was right you would be doing yourself an injustice. You wouldn’t feel happy about the whole thing and would probably end up kicking yourself that you didn’t go with your instinct. I am really looking forward to reading the book when it is published and of course you could always publish it yourself on the internet. Good luck.

    Just to say I agree with so many of the other comments about the world wide following of Honey and Muesli on your blog – that works so well, I’m sure the book will too, you definitely have a gift when it comes to writing.

    Madeleine and Candy girl

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thanks, Madeleine, for your belief in us and your nice words! :-) Yes, I have been seriously considering an e-publishing route as an alternative…will let you all know on the blog what I decide!

      Honey sends slobbers to Candy girl :P

      Hsin-Yi

  30. Desiree says:

    I just finished a book called “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. It’s an amazing book about a family, from the dog’s point of view. It’s extremely fast pace, but I LOVED it. I have never read a book from a dog’s view before and this one blew my mind. Hsin-Yi, if your book is anything like this one I know I will love it! Stay with that idea, I really am looking forward to it.

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thanks, Desiree, for your comment and your nice words! :-) Yes, several others have mentioned “The Art of Racing in the Rain” – I’ve just downloaded it on my Kindle so will be checking it out! I think my story will be different, though, because from what I’ve read about that story, the dog talks about philosophy and has quite “human” thoughts & attitudes…whereas the dogs in my story are firmly “dogs” and think more like our everyday pets (I don’t think Honey ever ponders philosophy – hee! hee! ;-) ) – but still, it would be good to compare and learn! Thanks for telling me :-)

      Hsin-Yi

  31. April Sawler says:

    I always love a good story about animals ie. The Chicken Soup books, books by Vets etc. I also love animated movies and I’m 62, so I think you should do what you want and just let readers know that it’s for all ages!

  32. jet says:

    I think fiction writing is a harsh business and they have their ‘rules’ about what they accept and what they don’t. If you can get in the door though, I believe you will sell books, I loved animal stories until I was a teenager. Especially if they were well written.

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jet! :-) Yeah, I agree – pubishers have to be tough for a reason and they usually have a good feel for what “sells” (interesting that you said you loved animal stories “until” you were a teenager – that’s what they were worrying about – that older readers won’t take to it – but meanwhile the story seems more appopriate for older readers…Catch-22) – still, editors have been wrong before! ;-)

      Hsin-Yi

  33. Id love to be a beta reader if you still need any!

    I imagine the book to be written similarly to your blog and I think people of any age wouldn’t mind it. I don’t care for dog blogs that have the dogs “talking” in that baby/dog (bad spelling) talk kind of way and I could see THAT being a bad way to write an entire book.
    I think of Bugs Life, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, etc (which are movies but I think could be similar) but all are talking animals/toys and while kids like it, so do adults. The story lines tend to be a little darker, which appeals to more mature audiences, while the cute characters appeals to younger viewers.
    I wouldn’t “dumb” down the book!

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thanks, Brooke! Since I know you’re a voracious reader, your opinion means a great deal! ;-) And you’re right – many “kids movies” seem to operate on 2 levels – with cute characters for the kids and darker themes/messages for the older viewers…I kind of always like a “darker” story, whatever the age range…probably why I ended up writing one – ha! ha!

      Actually, it isn’t written the same way as the blog – not in first person narrative from Honey and in slightly different language (not so baby-ish! ;-) ) – but hopefully, people would still enjoy it.

      Thanks for the offer to be a beta reader! If you don’t mind taking a raincheck – can I take up your offer after the book is published and ask you for a review on Amazon/Goodreads instead? ;-) Everyone’s been telling me that the key to books being successful is having lots of people review it (and hopefully saying nice things, of course – hee! Hee! ;-) ) – so I’m hoping that some of our friends here will act as “first reviewers” and help to spread the word.

      Hsin-Yi

  34. Kate Ice says:

    One of my favorite books is “I Am The Great Horse” by Katherine Roberts. It tells the story of Alexander The Great through the view of Bucephalus, his trusted war stallion. I was older when I first read it, in my mid teens probably, and loved it. In fact it is geared towards ages 12 & up. If I remember properly, there are some chapters written from a human’s perspective as well. I would have enjoyed the book just as much if it had all been through the eyes of Becephalus, and I think it would be wonderful if you were allowed to stay true to the way you intend for your book to read. However, if you find yourself thinking that you DO need to change it a bit per the suggestions of the general book editor population, perhaps you can do something similar where most chapters are written from the animal’s perspectives and some are written from a human’s?

    Another goos book I read was “The Dog Who Spoke With Gods” by Diane Jessup. Again, in this book the point of view switches around a lot, but a considerable amount is written from the perspective of the dog. I’m not sure what the recommended reading level is, but again, I’d say it’s a bit older due to it’s darker storyline.

    So there are two examples of well reviewed and enjoyable books written with more of a young adult audience in mind and are told from the view of an animal! Besides, they way I see it, if a person isn’t really in to dogs, they may not read it no matter whose perspective it is written from, and if they are, they likely WILL read it no matter whose perspective it is from!

    I personally can’t WAIT! I’m sure you have plenty of offers but if you need another earlier reviewer, I would love to participate!

    ~ Kate

    Oh and Chloe sends Wags & Slobbers to Honey!!

    • bighoneydog says:

      Aw, Kate – thank you so much for your nice words and all your support! If you don’t mind taking a raincheck – can I take up your offer after the book is published and ask you for a review on Amazon/Goodreads instead? ;-) Everyone’s been telling me that the key to books being successful is having lots of people review it (and hopefully saying nice things, of course – hee! Hee! ;-) ) – so I’m hoping that some of our fans here will act as “first reviewers” and help to spread the word. :-)

      Those books you mentioned both sound really interesting – I will definitely look them up!

      Hsin-Yi

      • Kate Ice says:

        Spreading the word I can definitely do! Keep up the good work and never underestimate the opinions of your current blog readers (not that you do). I happen to agree with all of them! ;)

  35. sprinkles says:

    Last summer I read a book that was all from the dog’s point of view. I really enjoyed it! I can’t remember the name of the book though. It wasn’t a mystery and the dog didn’t talk, but the author made sure we understood the dog’s thoughts.

    I don’t think a book featuring talking animals would necessarily deter me or make me think it was babyish. I’d determine that from the plot.

  36. Hello Honey, Muesli and Hsin-Yi.
    First off we loved your photos of all of the beautiful Autumn trees (autumn is our favourite season too). Mom loved your Quokka picture, I personally am not as interested in catching animals anymore but mom was still ewwing and ahhhing over its apparent adorableness. Mom said that when she does finally get to visit Perth that Rottnest Island will be on her itinerary. But anyhoo onto your exciting news, you finished your first draft! I am not so sure on what that writer was saying, I think elderly cats (at least those not with severe I hate dogsitis) will love reading your book! Mom says that elderly cats are not your target audience though so i’ll hand mom over to talk to you about it:

    Hsin-Yi I am so impressed that you managed to finish your books first draft so soon. I have just finished one of my writing courses at university and have been thinking about you speedily writing away.
    I can see where it might be hard to get older children/teenagers/ adults to read a book from the point of view from a dog. But I thought that a great way for them to do it would be if perhaps for the first half/ full first chapter that the reader doesn’t know that it is from the point of view of a dog. It all depends on your writing style, but if the reader were to start out thinking it was perhaps your main characters owner instead of the dog itself and then it being revealed earlyish on that it is in fact the dog telling the story it would really draw more people in. I have read several books about dogs that have the author telling the story from his/her point of view and then writing it from what they believe their dogs (or cats) point of view to be and it has worked really well. Examples of this being: Merle’s Door, The Philosopher and the Wolf, Marley and Me and Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.
    Best of luck with your editing and if you have any questions or queries I (and Tess no doubt) would love to be able to help you, we are both eagerly awaiting our chance to be able to buy your published book!

    • bighoneydog says:

      Oh Tess – funny that you should have severe “hate dogs-itis” – coz in my book, there is a dog character who has severe “hate cat-itis”. Can’t wait for you to read it and see what you think! ;-)

      Thank you so much for the book recommendations – I will certainly check those out. And thanks so much for the advance support!!

      Hsin-Yi

  37. Lilli says:

    I don’t really understand those who claims that talking animals won’t sell… What about Winnie the Pooh? And Beatrix Potter’s stories? Or Watership Down? There is SO many wonderful stories with animals who talk and stories with only animals in them. Ok, they are all quite old books but they’re still much read. If I’m honest, I don’t really like children’s books nowadays. They lack that something which is still there in those older books. So if someone says your writing style and story is oldish I would take it as a compliment. At least then it’s not those shallow new children books with annoying characters, stupid “problems” and some kind of forced moral written in it.

    Keep up with the story idea you have! Maybe it’s hard to find publisher, I don’t know. But I’m sure the one you’ll find is really a worth to work with then.

    -Lilli-

    • bighoneydog says:

      Thanks, Lilli – I don’t think they were saying animal stories don’t sell at all – just that it’s very hard to sell them to older readers. Many of the books you mentioned – while being wonderful stories – are definitely for younger kids. So that’s the problem – younger kids are the ones that they think would read animal stories…but my story is written in an “older” style and the plot/themes are darker so would be more suitable for older readers…but those are the readers that they think would not read a book that’s narrated by an animal. I guess that’s the general belief, even though there are occasional exceptions that prove them wrong! :P

      Hsin-Yi

  38. Kellie Fay says:

    There have been several good books with animals as the main characters. Watership Downs, and 101 Dalmatians, Charlotte’s Web, and I’m sure others even though some of them may be considered children’s books they are still great reads. I don’t think you have to “dumb down” anything either. Harry Potter is considered a kids book and it certainly isn’t “dumbed down.” Most great story tellers write to please themselves. Hsin-Yi should ask other writers what they think. They might understand better than someone who is only thinking about what sells. I would certainly read it.

    • bighoneydog says:

      Aw, thanks, Kellie! :-) Yes, I always think of those books you mentioned…although of course, they’re great classics and it’s arrogant to think that you might come anything close! But you’re right – everyone has been pretty much saying the same thing of sticking true to yourself and writing the story as you know it should be written. I guess the only problem is that you do need it to “sell” to be successful as an author ;-) – but maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. Editors have been wrong before!

      Hsin-Yi

  39. diane taylor says:

    Hi Hsin-Yi and Honey – as an avid reader, I gravitate to books that are written from a dog’s point of view!! It is such a refreshing change from the usual things I read. My IPAD is full of books about dogs. I say stay the course and do what feels right to you in your heart. You have great instincts – trust them!! I cannot wait for what comes next for you on this journey :):) You already have so many blog friends who will love your book no matter what! I plan to buy/download it immediately when it finally comes out!!!

    • bighoneydog says:

      Aw, thanks, Diane – for your nice words and your support!! :-) I feel really blessed to have so many friends & followers through Honey’s blog. Well, I’m hoping to announce some big plans for my book soon…so stay tuned! ;-)

      Hsin-Yi

  40. Hi Honey and Muesli! How cool that you two helped Hsin-Yi to finish the novel! We know she a great writer and she’s got wonderful supports. We look forward to the big announcement ‘DONE-DONE’!

    Momo & Pinot

  41. parlance says:

    Hi, Hsin-Yi
    Having read through all the comments here, I think I can’t give you any advice you haven’t already got, but I would agree that what you have to do is write the story you have in you. I’m in a critiquing group, and one of the members asked me this: ‘Have you told the story you wish, in the best way you know how?’

    If the answer is yes, which will probably be after many revisions, then you send it out into the world. There are many ways to publish these days.
    Catherine/parlance

  42. Robyn Shelly says:

    Orwell wrote with talking animals as main characters!

  43. 2browndawgs says:

    If you made Honey a vampire or a wizard, they would probably love it, (a joke). I don’t know what to say or what “sells”. It kind of bothers me that so much creative work is pigeon-holed these days. Music, movies, book all done to formula. Much less creativity in the world today because of it. I guess if you want a big publisher to pick up the book, you might have to do as they want. But I think you should submit the story the way you want it. At least you can try.

    Rottnest sounds wonderful. That is the kind of place we would like (except for not dogs or kitties).

  44. Sam says:

    I think you should stay true to your story and see where it gets you. You can always change it later if it is recommended, but for now leave it as is.

    I have never seen a Quokkas before – how cute!

    Sam

  45. Jayne says:

    Honey, please tell Hsin-Yi to stop making you and Muesli work so hard! Ha ha

  46. Kris says:

    It depends who your target audience will be. I think most people who visit your blogs would like a book written from your “extended” family point of view. Many people won’t read your book because it isn’t the type of book they would ever read e.g. they may like murder mysteries, science fiction but for those of us that just like a light hearted read then I think it will work. Also you provide a lot of “tips” on how to train your furry family members which I think is a really handy tool.

  47. Haley Piasetzki says:

    I do not not have a blg myself, I am only thirteen, but I would love to read anything that has a animal as the main character, and the book sounds so good.

  48. bubba says:

    dear honey…..2 words….ANIMAL FARM!!!!!

    now about those cats. they are taking over the place. i found one sleeping in my bed. and the other one sleeps with mommy in MY SPOT!!!! they wont let me in the kitchen to eat. they drink my water. they hide under the couch and wait for me to come by then grab my feet with their paws and scare the crap out of me. i try to get them to play grab the bunny with me but they arent interested. i took a few claw swipes to the nose. not funny.

    farm life is awesome. every morning i run around and patrol the back 4. thats 4 acres. i gallop like a thorobred stallion. i poop right in front of the front gate so no bears come in. its been raining a whole lot here in florida and the pond is so high i can still jump in the part on this side of the alligator fence. i never liked water till now. i still dont like the rain though. i dont know why i cant pee in the house like those spoiled cats.

    my birthday is coming soon. i think im officially a senior doggie now. my muzzle is so grey. i will send you a picture from my birthday party.

    love

    bubba

  49. Stella says:

    Paul Biegel (1925-2006), a famous Dutch children books author, wrote the Trilogy Haas (Hare) 1981-1982 – Haas: Voorjaar/spring, Haas: Zomer/summer, Haas: Najaar/(autumn. It’s about the life of the animals in the garden of an abandoned house. Hare went and life went wrong. But Hare will be back and make that all will become right. Its about the trill of awaiting the Lord. Only in the end some people exists, the new inhabitants. His animal characters are so far anthropomorphised, that their thougths run like peoples’ thoughts – be waiting for the coming of the lord.
    It is not clear if it is written as a teenager book or for adults. O, oops. In 2001 it is completely worked over into one book.
    I think just before this book, I read a book with short stories from his hand, not a childrens book, in each another animal has his dramatic episode. These were pure the animals’ lives & struggles, which make you see things from the other side.
    .
    That was before 2001. I see now, he wrote in 2003 Man en muis/Man and mouse (which is an expression for Everyone and All, like in het schip verging met man en muis/the ship drowned with everyone and everything). It is about a mice family living luxural by internet shopping, in the house of an old man. Live is stirred by a rat selling drugs. For children of 9-11 years. Must see if I can get it from the library!
    He declined to write in simple words, for children can much more.
    .
    Some years ago I read an American(?) story from the point of view of a German Shepherd. A pretty family and a pretty uncle visiting them. Something goes wrong. The family is attacked by a werewolf and the dog saves them. The writing is rather simple (maybe because of the dogs’view) and I think children will like it very much (except the fearful attack). Animal loving teenager girls will like it. Boys maybe not, the werewolf part is not big enough a story to become self one or to fight one.

  50. Victoria says:

    Hello Hsin-Yi,

    I agree with many of your followers. Just think about some marvelous movies and books where humans were secondary if there at all: Wall-E was fantastic partly BECAUSE we felt sympathy for a robot and I will not even start about how parents awaited the next Toy Story sequel more than their kids. Norton Juster was told that children would never understand or appreciate the wordplay in The Phantom Tollbooth because it was too advanced – for many of us it was a favorite book because it did NOT dumb down to us. Animals are a wonderful tool for innocently portraying truth and honesty: Black Beauty, Charlotte’s Web and Animal Farm are not exclusively for children and all the animals talk.

    A good story is a good story. You do not want to be the same as everyone else and formulaic (although publishers may want you to be because they love formulas more than creativity).

    The truth is that tweens and teens are forced to grow up too fast and they secretly crave the ability to travel into a fantasy world whether it is Harry Potter or talking animals. They are not stupid – they know it is not real…but they kind of want it to be…so as long as there is character development to create the willing suspension of disbelief, they will want to read it.

    Just because someone gave you good advice about one thing does not mean she gave you good advice about everything. To thine own self be true.

    Good luck!!

  51. I know this comment is waaaaay too late to be of any help, but I wanted to say I’m so sad I missed out on being a beta reader, but I am going to buy your book as soon as I can and I will review it for you and post it on my blog. :D Also I have always loved and still love books written from an animal’s point of view. I have read all of the comments and I’m shocked nobody mentioned Hank the Cowdog! I LOVED and still love the Hank the Cowdog books! Here is the website http://www.hankthecowdog.com/ I don’t know if it’s the same as what you’re writing (I don’t know if it’s too anthropomorphic), but it is written from the dog’s point of view and I thought it was hugely popular until nobody mentioned it on here lol. I loved them anyway. I think I’ve read almost all of the books mentioned in the comments and loved them too, so maybe there are more of us who like to read animal pov books than we thought. I definitely think I will love your book. :D

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