November 28, 2012

Would You Read It Wednesday #67 - Surprises Await (PB)

Wait until you hear this!  I have reached new heights of fame!

Why, you ask?

Because today I am a guest at By Word Of Beth, the wonderful blog of the lovely Beth Stilborn.  I am so honored that she invited me, so I hope you all might find a minute or two to go and visit her!  (Just, if you go now, don't forget to come back here and help Katie with her pitch - remember, we have chocolate over here :))

I don't know about y'all, but after a festive Thanksgiving week, I find myself quite behind in my work!... and it only promises to get worse as Christmas approaches!  So I have decided not to fight it.  I'm going to go with the flow and do the best I can and not worry.  (Well, okay, if we're being honest, that's pretty much impossible - who do I think I'm kidding? :) - but I'm hoping if I write it down maybe I'll convince myself :))

How's everyone else doing?  Are you all abreast of your work or are you like me - always playing catch up? :)

Just thinking about everything on my to-do list today is making me feel a little peaked.  I think it's time for Something Chocolate!  May I offer you some chocolate turtle cookies?
photo copyright Stacy Jensen 2012 used by permission
And shall we have a look at our pitch?

Today's pitch comes to us from Katie.  Katie writes picture books and MG novels, is a puppeteer! (how cool is that?!), and is a stay-at-home mom to her 2 yr. old daughter and 5 yr. old son.  She can be found at her Website, or at A Life Spent Reading, the blog she writes with her critique partner.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Surprises Await
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch: The trip to Grandma's house takes forever. Time drags on, and there isn't enough to do, until a seven-year-old boy discovers an amazing sight. Beautiful hot air balloons fill the sky. Suddenly, this trip may not be so boring after all.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Katie improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January, so you have time to polish :) for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Katie is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I am looking forward to checking at least a few things off my to-do list!

Have a great day, everyone, and if you didn't click over to Beth's yet, take a cookie for the road and head on over :)


Reactions:

62 comments:

  1. I saw your interview over at Beth's. Really enjoyed it :-)
    As for the would you read it, I would, however, for the purpose of the pitch, I wonder if the character is nameless on purpose or if he has a name. If he does, it's a good idea to include it and may want to start the pitch with the name and age and that the trip to grandma's house is boring then switch to the change that makes the trip more of an adventure.

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  2. Thanks for your comments, Angela!
    The story is in first person, and the name is never mentioned. Do you think giving him a name makes it easier to identify with, or does it not matter?

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  3. I really liked your interview Ms. Hill!

    I would read it! I like that idea! It sounds nice! I want to know what happens with the balloons!

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  4. Yum!


    Since I don't read PBs anymore, I wouldn't read it. But I might have back when I did read them. It would depend on the illustrator (which has nothing to do with the pitch).

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  5. I would read it! We do lots of road trips in my family, so I like that idea. I would like to know more though. So far, I'm not sure which direction the book will take: will it be fantasy--is he doing to fly off on one of those balloons in his imagination? or will it be more realistic and show a boy spotting neat things on the side of the road as they drive, maybe encouraging kids to play games and be observant? or something else entirely? Maybe there could be one more sentence or a slight hint?

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  6. Thanks for reading the interview over at Beth's, Angela, I'm glad you liked it! And thanks so much for your comments for Katie!

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  7. I don't think you have to have a name. It really depends on the story. Some stories allows kids to see themselves as sort of the main character, in which case no name might be a plus.

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  8. Thanks for the interview compliment, Erik - I'm glad you liked it! And thanks for your comments for Ms. Cullinan!

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  9. You may have seconds, Stina, and thirds too if you like :) Thanks for your comment for Katie.

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  10. Thanks for your very helpful comment for Katie, Wendy! Excellent points!

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  11. I'd read the book. I can imagine the boy's excitement upon seeing the sky dotted with colorful balloons! I'm excited thinking about it myself. The contrast of time dragging for a bored, 7 yr. old and the excitement of seeing balloons is a great idea. Using more energetic descriptions could cement the contrast. To mention that time drags and it takes forever may not be necessary to repeat. I think somehow mentioning the boy being bored at the beginning would connect better to his excitement of the balloons at the end. I know your book is a fun read!

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  12. Thanks for your very helpful comment for Katie, Pam! :)

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  13. I would read it! I'm curious about those hot air balloons. I know hot air balloons are only as fast as the wind blows, so I wonder if the balloons happen to be blowing in the same direction as his travels or if there are so many balloons in the sky he can see them during the entire trip. Sounds like a very interesting story.

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  14. I'm back to get more of those delicious cookies. Stacy's gonna have to blog a video journal of preparing these yummy delights and our responses to her treats. I also came back to say I loved your interview over at Beth's. We greatly appreciate ALL that you do for our kidlit community. You've been a blessing. Please know that. I'll gush more on your upcoming bloggerversary.

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  15. The mention of hot air balloons piqued my interest. To me, Pam's suggestions would be excellent for improving your pitch.


    Loved your interview at Beth's place, Susanna!!! And, yes, I am feeling like I have way too much to do, but am hoping I can go with flow, too!


    Stacy...those chocolate turtle cookies look extremely yummy!

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  16. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts for Katie, Shar!

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  17. Aw, thanks Pam! I truly appreciate it! :)






























    Pamela Courtney (unregistered) wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    I'm back to get more of those delicious cookies. Stacy's gonna have to blog a video journal of preparing these yummy delights and our responses to her treats. I also came back to say I loved your interview over at Beth's. We greatly appreciate ALL that you do for our kidlit community. You've been a blessing. Please know that. I'll gush more on your upcoming bloggerversary.

    Link to comment
    IP address: 72.152.191.5

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  18. Thanks for your comments for Katie, Penny, and for your kind words about the interview - I'm glad you liked it. We can go with the flow together :) Say it with me... "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming... " :) Have another cookie :)

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  19. Yes, thanks, Pam!

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  20. Thanks for your comments, Wendy. Not only do you give me some things to think about for the pitch, it also gives me some ideas for the story itself. Thanks!

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  21. I'd read it, having raised my 3 in rural Nevada where looooong car trips were part of daily life! The hot air balloons would capture the eyes of most kids. Brilliant!

    Loved reading about your blogging history, Susanna. You are a genuine gift to the world of children's literature.

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  22. Thank you or your comments for Katie, Linda, and thank you so much for your kind words. I feel like all of you are gifts :)

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  23. I'm a 'maybe' she mumbles through the cookies. I personally would definitely name the boy rather than give his age, it immediately makes it more personal. I think the pitch could be made a wee bit more concise... maybe 'Bored by the seemingly endless journey to grandma's house, Sam suddenly spot beautiful air balloons filling the sky and ......" I would also consider a more specific title. I love the thought of the air balloon illustrations.

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  24. Elizabeth Rose StantonNovember 28, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    I really enjoyed your interview on Beth's blog. I felt an immediate connection when I read, "I went to some very good schools and eventually earned graduate degrees in a field I ended up not pursuing for very long because what I really wanted to do was to be a mom and a writer." Substitute "writer" for "illustrator" and that would be me :) Your blog is amazing, too! As for the pitch--yes, the notion (vision) of hot air balloons make my right brain light up :) Oh, and the sight of those cookies make ALL my senses light up! ;)
    Thanks for a very good morning down the rabbit hole (internet)!
    PS I'm ALWAYS playing catch up!

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  25. Yes, I would read it. Car trips can seem like forever, but it needs some work. Joanne and others have made some very good suggestions. The pitch doesn't have enough action in it. Although I love the idea of the balloons at the end. Think this is an easy fix with all of the suggestions given.



    Susanna, enjoyed the interview on Beth's blog. Happy 2nd anniversary!

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  26. There is no rule against talking with your mouth full around here :) Thanks for your comments for Katie, Joanna - very helpful! :)

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  27. Thank you so much, Elizabeth! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview, and I'm glad we are apparently kindred spirits on so many levels :) Thank you for your comments for Katie. Do you have a blog/portfolio? Your name seems so familiar.... I will have to come check :)

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  28. Thanks for the anniversary wishes, Pat :) and glad you liked the interview. Thanks so much for commenting for Katie too!

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  29. Elizabeth Rose StantonNovember 28, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    http://penspaperstudio.blogspot.com/
    http://www.penspaperstudio.com/

    Hope you can stop by :) Thanks again!

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  30. I beat you to it and I'm already following your blog :) I LOVE your art! Those little piggies, and that mouse in the teacup - just reach-right-out-and-touch-them gorgeous! I'm thinking you have books illustrated... just don't know what they are!





























    Elizabeth Rose Stanton wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    http://penspaperstudio.blogspot.com/
    http://www.penspaperstudio.com/

    Hope you can stop by :) Thanks again!


    Link to comment
    IP address: 98.247.49.138

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  31. Elizabeth Rose StantonNovember 28, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Susanna! You are so kind :) My debut PB "Henny" is due out in the spring of 2014 (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books). Stay tuned!! :) :)

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  32. Great idea! A new take on that universal travel question--are we there yet? :)
    Off to check out Beth's site!

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  33. I certainly will! :)






























    Elizabeth Rose Stanton wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Susanna! You are so kind :) My debut PB "Henny" is due out in the spring of 2014 (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books). Stay tuned!! :) :)

    Link to comment
    IP address: 98.247.49.138

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  34. Thanks, Coleen! :) Are you there yet? :)

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  35. I'm a maybe on this one. I like the premise, but the pitch doesn't make it sound like enough happens to make a full story.


    I think the title could hint more at the content of the story. It really could be about anything right now. The Balloon Surprise? The Hot-Air Surprise?


    Also, I would name the character in the pitch -- and seven seems a bit old for the way the story is described. Maybe make the character younger -- 4 or 5?


    The first two sentences seem a bit repetitive and could be more specific, e.g. On the long trip to Grandma's house, Ethan does (X,Y and Z). But the trip STILL isn't over and Ethan is restless.


    I think we also need a hint at what the main character DOES to make the trip more interesting. Do they stop the car? Ride in a balloon? Simply seeing balloons out the window doesn't seem like the MC solving his own problem.

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  36. Thank you for your very thoughtful comments for Katie, Carrie! You are always so helpful :)

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  37. Thank you for your thoughts, Carrie! Lots for me to think about.

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  38. Thanks for your comments, Joanna. You've given me some specific suggestions, which are always much appreciated!

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  39. I would love to see a picture book about hot air balloons. Just the thought reminds me of my childhood summers in Chicago. On any given Saturday morning, the skies were filled with them near my father's house.

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  40. Oh, I forgot! The cookies look delish. :)

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  41. The pitch may be trying to convey how he is feeling, like time has stood still, but it is not enticing me to pick up the book. If, on the other hand, he is feeling antsy, I'd like to know! At this point I'm not sure if he learns to enjoy the scenery or if he will start whining! Let us know!

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  42. It would be great to see the boy use his imagination here. From the premise, it sounds like he's stumped until hot air balloons save the day. Tighten the beginning and maybe give a hint that the balloons inspire a bout of creativity. Do they wonder whose on them? Where they're going? What follows the sight? Good luck!

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  43. That sounds delightful! There's a place near us where they take off from once each summer, and it is such a sight! Thanks for your comments for Katie!

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  44. You may have as many as you like :)






























    Candilynn Fite-Writer wrote, in response to Candilynn Fite-Writer:


    Oh, I forgot! The cookies look delish. :)


    User's website
    Link to comment
    IP address: 70.196.132.74

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  45. Thanks for chiming in, Julie! Very helpful :)

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  46. Thanks for your thoughts for Katie, Theresa!

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  47. I'd give this a maybe. The balloons pique my interest, but not sure what happens with them. I'd also suggest naming the protagonist to personalize the pitch more.

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  48. delores @ thefeatherednestNovember 28, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    My mouth is full of cookies so please ignore the muffled mumbling. I think the hot air balloons will likely make for an interesting story so I would probably pick it up to read. The pitch could maybe be a little more exciting....maybe give the lad a name....another boring trip to grandma's house but wait...what's that up in the sky?

    Um....thanks for the cookies.

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  49. Thanks for the comments, Theresa! There is definitely more excitement in the story itself than in the pitch. Something to work on!

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  50. So glad you enjoyed the cookies, Delores :) Thanks for your comment for Katie!

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  51. I'm with you, Susanna, regarding work. I've been swamped this week with writing assignments. But there's a light at the end of the tunnel!


    Katie, a hot air balloon book sounds marvelous. In Iowa, where I'm from, they had a hot air balloon festival. Beautiful sight! So maybe you could capture the uniqueness and brightness and wow factor more in your pitch.

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  52. I'd be glad to have some writing assignments :) That's terrific, Tina! Good luck getting to the end of the tunnel! And thanks for your comments for Katie!

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  53. Thanks for the chocolate, Susanna...and especially for starting this blog and following through and thinking of PPBF, Would You Read It Wednesday, Oh Susanna, Short and Sweets, writing contests...yes, you are amazing!!! I read your guest post/interview on Beth's blog...awesome!

    Katie...great story idea. :) I would definitely pick up the book...and I agree with Carrie, Joanna and the others who gave excellent suggestions on tightening up the pitch and adding some excitement.

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  54. You're welcome, Vivian, there is always plenty of chocolate around here :) And thank YOU for all your lovely, kind words - they mean so much to me! Thanks also for your comments for Katie!

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  55. Thanks for the comments, Vivian!

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  56. Thanks Tina! Good suggestions!

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  57. This is an intriguing pitch. I can just hear a child saying the trip is taking FOREVER. I have a couple of thoughts that might add to it, first, why don't you use your character's name instead of a description of him, so we can connect with the character? Also, I would avoid words like "beautiful" and "amazing." They don't tell us much about what's going on. Do the balloons remind him of something? Why is it such an amazing sight? Good luck, and I hope this helps!

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  58. Thanks so much for your thoughts for Katie, Kirsten! Very helpful!

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  59. The hot air balloons are intriguing. I'm wondering if the pitch can hint at how the book illustration would work - it could be problematic if the whole book is in the car. But maybe he's passing cows and trucks and the illustrations are more about the view from the windows?

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  60. Thanks, Lauri! Very helpful suggestions :)

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