January 15, 2014

Would You Read It #117 - Tell Me About The Baby (MG Novel In Verse) PLUS Straight From The Editor!

Remember last week when I was going through the things I forgot and said I thought there was something else?

Well, there WAS!

Due to the fact that I didn't receive them (holiday busy-ness and all that) I never posted Straight From The Editor for our tied October winners!  (At least, I'm pretty sure I never posted them...  If I did, just pretend I didn't.  You know the drill :))

I wouldn't want you to miss any of Erin's insightful comments, so here they are:

First, Julie's pitch:

Broccolilocks PB (ages 3-6)CRUNCH! To satisfy Broccolilocks' GIANT appetite her parents plant every inch of their community garden plot. But a mysterious stink leads her nose down the rows to find that something has been munching on her favorite: broccoli! Inviting hungry friends to keep pesky aphids in check, and Broccolilocks fed, may be just right!
And here are Erin's thoughts:

This has potential, but I am not getting a feel for the story. Is it about getting rid of aphids—thus teamwork or about satisfying a growing appetite.  The hook—the reason why an editor would want to acquire this or even ask to see more is missing. I like the Goldilocks reference –it’s very cute--but what about hungry friends is just right? I think you need to figure out what the main point of the story is. The main goal and message, so to speak for the story. Is it that Broccolilocks will eat anything and everything but broccoli is her favorite and the aphids are eating it, so she must save it? Or is it that Broccolilocks doesn’t have any friends because she eats anything and everything but she manages to meet some in their common goal of getting rid of the aphids? Once you’ve determined the main goal of the story then you can work in the clever Goldilocks references.

Second, Rosi's pitch:

Iris The Rainbow Girl PB (ages 2-5)Iris sees a sparkling rainbow.  It's so beautiful, she decides she wants to be one. Her parents tell her all the reasons she cannot, but Iris is determined and won't let anyone hang a dark cloud over her idea. Soap bubbles have little rainbows on them, but when she covers herself with them, they burst and wash away. After dreaming about rainbows, Iris comes up with a way to achieve her goal
And here are Erin's thoughts:

This is lovely. However, the last bit falls flat. You don’t want to keep the ending a secret when you’re pitching because an editor doesn’t necessarily ask to see something because she is curious about the ending—she is intrigued and wants to see how the author got there—the actual writing. So, I would give more of a hint as to what Iris did to BECOME a rainbow.
As always, I find Erin's comments so helpful!  I hope you do too!

Now.  I'm feeling a little faint after all that absorbing of professional pitch critique, so I think we better have a little pick-me-up...  A little snack to tide us over until second breakfast :)

It's time for...

You guessed it!

Something Chocolate!!!

I went all out for you guys today - fancy chocolatey deliciousness... with coffee!!  Enjoy! :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Joy who says, I'm a children's poet.  I've published in Highlight's HIGH FIVE  (Follow The Footsteps--a puzzle poem is scheduled for publication Feb. 2014) and have poems in The Poetry Friday Anthology, and the Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle Grades, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books). And their anthology of science poems scheduled for March 2014.
I have a blog at www.poetryforkidsjoy.blogspot.com  where I daily post a children's poem and a writing prompt.  I've been doing this for almost 3 years.  (You do the math, that's a lot of poetry and a LOT of fun!)
Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Tell Me About The Baby
Age/Genre: MG Novel in Verse
The Pitch:  When Sara's parents are killed in an auto accident, her older brother comes to take her home with him.  Will Sara be able to adjust to the grief of losing her parents, her home, her school and friends?  Will she adjust to an older brother who wants to act like a father, a pregnant sister-in-law who resents having an almost-teenager in her house, and a new town, school, teachers and hopefully new friends?  Will Sara, who has always been the baby, adjust to a new baby, or will she be a built-in babysitter?  Can Sara make a new life for herself?
(The title comes from the first question Sara asks her brother as they are riding on an airplane to Tucson where she is to tart her new life.)

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 Joy 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 February so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for a chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Joy is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to when it stops raining (which will hopefully be before the house floats off the mountaintop :))

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone, and good luck to all the ReViMo-ers out there - you can do it!!!


Reactions:

99 comments:

  1. Thanks for the chocolate goodie this morning, Susanna. I really enjoy those virtual calories. And thanks for hosting me and my pitch for your Would You Read It Wednesday.
    Welcome everyone.
    If anyone has suggestions for shortening this pitch, I'd appreciate the help.
    Any ideas for ways to up the tension, too?
    Thank you for the help.

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  2. You're very welcome, Joy! I hope you'll get lots of helpful feedback. Have some more chocolate while you're waiting :) I'll hop on twitter and FB and remind everyone it's WYRI day :)

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  3. YES! You've got a great hook in the first line, which is concise and immediately sets up a lot of tension. My advice would be to limit the number of questions in the rest of the pitch. I think of a pitch as a mini-synopsis, (vs. a query letter, where finishing with a question may be more appropriate).

    If you do want to keep an element of the unknown, I would move the second sentence, "Will Sara be able to adjust to the grief of losing her parents, her home, her school and friends?" to the end, and combine it with your last question, "Can Sara make a new life for herself?"

    The rest of the pitch I would re-work to be statements. You can flesh out the potential problems she's going to be facing by using phrases like, "Sara is forced to deal with…" or "struggles with…" or "is faced with…." etc, so that the reader knows a little bit about the story arc and what to expect.

    A very rich story idea, with lots of room for good emotional scenes. I'd read it! Good luck.

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  4. Very insightful analyses from Erin!

    And in light of what Erin said, I'd have to say I would read Joy's story (it is dramatic and has good conflict) but she needs to change her pitch a bit: consolidate the questions and give us a bit more how how she deals with the issues and how might it end.

    And now for chocolate... ;)

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  5. I like the opening sentence. I feel that working the title into the pitch may be beneficial leading to Sara's angst about the things she needs to adjust to. I like the premise of this story and would be likely to read it.

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  6. As always, Erin provides wonderful information on how to get our pitches in order. Thanks!!


    That cake roll is all fancy and things, but it is chocolate and thus it must be eaten. Oh the burden lol!


    I enjoyed the pitch. It was a little on the long side with so many examples. Shrink some of it a bit and build in that tell me about the baby question and that may help with the pitch. There is no doubt I would read this story. It sounds wonderful!

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  7. Susanna - thank you for the beautiful cake! Two cakes in one week...maybe I'd better lay off the chocolate for awhile! ;)

    Joy - I was hooked at the first line. I have read some of the other comments about consolidating some of the questions, so I'm going to take a shot. Ignore this if it isn't on target, though - it's just a suggestion! :) Here goes (this follows the first line):

    "Sara must deal with her grief, an overbearing older brother, a pregnant and resentful sister-in-law, and a whole new life in Tuscon. Can Sara overcome her need to be the baby when the new baby arrives? Join Sara on her emotional journey to create a new life for herself."

    I would most definitely read this! In fact, I'm looking forward to it! :)

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  8. I would definitely read this. The first sentence pulled me in. I like the questions that you pose, but they feel like a lot for a pitch. Try cutting down on the number and focus on the ones you feel are the most important.

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  9. It's a little early in the morning for drooling but apparently my taste buds don't know that. :-) Great tips from Erin, as always.


    I'd read this book--and love the title, by the way. Not a big fan of a string of questions, and I can see that several comments addressed that aspect. So, yes, I'd say go with statements and your pitch will be stronger!

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  10. Oh my that cake looks amazing! I am a bit surprised by the Broccolilocks feedback because Julie doesn't mention friends until the very end, but I am sure Julie can take something away from it. Agree on the second one, needs to spill the beans.
    Joy's is very interesting, I just think there's a few too many questions and you can lose track of the main focus.
    After 'home with him' I would put Sara is forced to adjust to life without her parents, friends and school and face new challenges living with her brother and his pregnant wife. (Add here what happens to get Sara a life of her own)
    Hope this helps, Joy.

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  11. I would read it! I'm thinking that the relationship between Sara and her brother's girlfriend could be really interesting. I think maybe the second sentence could go, since you mention the adjustments she'll have to make in another sentence further down. Good job, Joy!

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  12. Yes, I would definitely read it. Sounds like Sara (and her brother) have a lot of battles ahead of them and opportunities for growth! That said, as with other comments, I think you need to rework your pitch and rewrite the question-style wording. After reading 1 or 2 questions, I got tired of another question.

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  13. Nancy,
    Thank you for you thoughtful suggestions. I see what you mean about all the questions. I appreciate the help.

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  14. Thanks Theresa
    As for the ending I figured the baby could arrive with drama of its own which Sara is the heroine and then the baby is named after her or perhaps after Sara's deceased mother.

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  15. Joy,
    I'd read this book even if I didn't know you already. I especially like that the sister-in-law is resentful of Sara moving in. Very realistic! I agree about reducing or eliminating all questions.
    Great to see you have this project going! Wishing you all the best.
    Linda Andersen

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  16. Congrats to Julie and Rosi...their pitches were GREAT...and thanks to Erin for an amazingly helpful critique of each!
    And thank YOU, Susanna, for that wonderful chocolate delight!
    Joy, I would DEFINITELY read your story...it's a situation that does happen...and would throw an entire family into sadness and disorder. It sounds like you really have a handle on this topic. I know I've heard that questions are a no-no in a pitch...although I've read several pitches that resulted in landing an agent/contract that had a question. Your pitch has quite a few. :) Maybe tighten up the pitch a bit and take out one of the questions. The pitch does pique my interest and I want to find out more.:)

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  17. definitely would read it (note: am ignoring the decadent chocolate). I love novels in verse and this sounds very true to life. Agree with the consensus of too many ??? in the pitch. Great job, Joy!

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  18. I would read this. There are a lot of intriguing conflicts here, but I think the pitch would be better if there were fewer questions and more statements. Also, I think it would help if Joy focused in on the two or three most important conflicts. I will be going over to check out her blog right now.

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  19. Thanks, Linda.
    I'm gonna get rid of most of the questions. I love reading novels in verse too.

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  20. Rosi,
    I like the idea of focusing on 2 or 3 of the conflicts. This has so many directions it can go, I have to just pick one and get writing.

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  21. Oh, Rosi,
    Thanks for popping over to my blog to check out the poem.

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  22. Thanks for your helpful suggestions, Vivian. I'm thinking I need to round out Sara's character a little more. Thanks for getting me to think about this. I appreciate your help.

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  23. Hey Linda,
    Thanks for your comments and your everlasting support.Yes, it has been a long time since I've had something that was really pulling me to write (other than poetry). I'm hoping doing this as a novel in verse will let me work on random pieces and sculpt the story.

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  24. Karen, you're exactly right. I'm glad you mentioned "growth" --that may end up being a recurring theme for the novel.

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  25. Deborah,
    Thanks for referring to the brother's girlfriend--I saw her as his wife--but that isn't quite how it is now a days, is it. This gives me another angle to think about. Thanks heaps..

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  26. It is a HUGE help. Thanks Catherine.

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  27. Cathy,
    Thanks for taking the time to write between bites of chocolate heaven. I hope your keyboard isn't covered with sticky finger prints. Yup, I'm going to get rid of all those questions.

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  28. Thanks pathaap, I now know "Don't put questions in a pitch." A good rule to follow. Thanks so much for your help.

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  29. Aw, shucks, thank you Martha. I really appreciate your comments and thanks for the energy you've supplied to get me working on this project.

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  30. Angela,
    Thank you for taking the time to comment on my pitch. I'm enjoying the chocolate cake roll too. There goes my diet.

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  31. thanks, Cecelia. Now all I have to do is finish up the draft so it can be read. (Doesn't that sound too easy?)

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  32. What a great group you have Susanna. All of the comments and suggestions are excellent and I'm appreciating the great help. I'm learning so much. WOW! Thank you.

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  33. I’m open to the story and opposed to so many questions. LOL. I’m wondering what the true focus of the story. Is it really about fitting into this new family dynamic – already complicated by
    the death of her parents and now throwing in a new baby? I believe the fitting into school and town, etc. are just a given with a move. So, I’m not sure I would mention this is the pitch, especially if you look for places to cut.
    Of all the questions I like this one best: Will Sara, who has always been the baby, adjust to a new baby, or will she be a built-in babysitter? Good luck!

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  34. I'm late to the game today and others may have mentioned this but while I think the pitch is interesting, I wanted specifics. Feeling adrift after a family crisis and adjusting to a new home are relatable--and I can imagine big conflicts. But my feeling is that an agent/editor will want the major conflict laid out in the pitch.

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  35. Hope everyone had a good holidays. Took time out myself--but glad to be back on the blog!

    Joy, I found your story intriguing, and Sara's struggle with her new home and grief very relatable. But I also see many different "stakes." As Erin mentioned above, I'd focus on one central conflict. (Parents die, everything about her family changes?) Then give us pertinent details that take that conflict to its climax, with a hint about how it's all resolved.

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  36. I'm a maybe on this one. In general I try to avoid (too many) questions in pitches. I wonder if you can home in on a) the one central question and what makes it different from other stories out there? I love novels in verse! I do like the title.

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  37. Rachel SchieffelbeinJanuary 15, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    I think I would read this. It sounds interesting. But I also think the pitch could be tightened up, and I would lose some of the questions.
    After the death of her parents, Sara moves in with her older brother and his pregnant wife. Between a brother who acts like her father, and a sister-in-law who resents having to raise a teen before she's even had a baby, Sara doesn't know how she'll fit in. Sara's used to being the baby of the family herself, and isn't exactly happy with the new arrangement either. Will she find a way to adjust to her new life?

    Okay, you can do better than that, but you know what I mean. :)

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  38. WOW! Rachel. I'm not sure I can do better. Your's sounds wonderful. I'm going to have to keep it in front of me when I re-work my own. Great writing. Thank you for the help.

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  39. Joanna, help me out here. What are the other stories out there that are like this that I should read before polishing my own poems? Can you suggest some titles?

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  40. Stacy, thank you for honing in on the problem. I appreciate your help.

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  41. Gotcha, Wendy. I'll be working on those specifics. Your suggestions are very helpful.

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  42. Thanks for the wishes of Good Luck. I appreciate knowing that the baby-sitter question was the most compelling for you. I appreciate your help.

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  43. Yep, I'd read it. My comment would have been about the questions, but I can see that's been well covered so I'll just wish you luck with it.

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  44. I would definitely read it! Other people have already covered the issue with the questions, and a great rewrite was suggested. The only thing I might add is that in a general way, the story reminds me of The Great Gilly Hopkins, a story about a girl in tragically painful circumstances who has to make her way into the future. You might check out Gilly's blurb for inspiration. Hope that's not too much of a stretch!

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  45. Rachel SchieffelbeinJanuary 15, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    You're welcome! I hope it helped. I really think your story sounds great!

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  46. You have more willpower than I do Linda :) Thanks for your thoughts for Joy!

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  47. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments for Joy, Rosi! :)

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  48. Thanks for your thoughts for Joy, Stacy - I think you make a good point!

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  49. Thanks for the great advice for Joy, Wendy! :)

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  50. Hope you had a nice blogcation, Stacy! :) And thanks so much for your helpful comments for Joy!

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  51. Thanks so much for your thoughts for Joy, Joanna! As a reader of novels-in-verse do you recommend any?

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  52. Thanks for the great pitch tweak, Rachel! Very helpful indeed! :)

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  53. Thanks for your helpful suggestion for Joy, Beverly. And I LOVE Gilly Hopkins - such a great book!

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  54. You're very welcome, Joy. I'm so glad you're finding it helpful. But your are right - it's really about the amazing and wonderful people who come out to help :)

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  55. I would read this :) But I feel there are too many questions in the pitch. She's making the reader do too much work it seems. The editor might feel the same.
    A middle grade in verse is awesome! Good for you, Joy!! :)
    Love,
    Denise of Ingleside

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  56. Thanks so much for finding time to come over and help Joy, Denise, and for your helpful comments! :)

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  57. Only if Joy shares her favorites. Actually I just reviewed a novel in verse on Monday on my blog. I read more YA than MG and have read all Ellen Hopkins work. For MG I like SERENDIPITY and ME by Judith Roth, HEARTBEAT by Sharon Creech, LIBERTAD by Alma Fullerton

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  58. Good to know! Thanks for sharing. I've read part of Out of Dust by Karen Hesse and that's about it. Shameful!

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  59. Erin's feedback on endings in queries was extremely helpful - I always hesitate with that.
    Joy's pitch is a strong premise! The pitch could be tightened, and I would recommend avoiding the questions. Something like:
    After Sara's parents are killed in an auto accident, she moves in with her older brother. On top of her grief, Sara must adjust to her brother acting like a father, a pregnant sister-in-law who resents having an almost-teenager in her house, and a new town full of (type of people?) Sara fears becoming a built-in babysitter and worries about not being the baby any more.

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  60. Another good cake, Susanna! The book sounds like it would be full of emotion with some good themes, so I'm intrigued, but I'd try to intersperse some of the actual plot with the questions. I was about to give more specific ideas, but I just read Martha Hubbard's pitch and think it's great. I'd go with it!

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  61. Thanks for chiming in for Joy, Pam! And by all means, have more cake :)

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  62. Ha ha! Susanna, you have so much on your plate, like all that chocolate, for example. Joy, here are a couple of thoughts on your pitch. I think you could tighten it significantly, cutting it to just a couple of sentences: "When Sara's parents are killed in an auto accident she moves in with her older brother and pregnant sister-in-law. How will Sara adjust to a new home, new school and new friends and brother who's now more like a father?" Or something like that.... Good luck with it!

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  63. I would definitely want to read this book even though I agree that the pitch can be improved. Less questions and more tightening.


    Congratulations on your poetry success, Joy! I've seen your name a lot over at David Harrison's place as well as other places around the web.

    By the time I got here today there were only a few crumbs left of that wonderful chocolate roll cake!!! But someone was nice enough to leave one of those chocolate roses and I gobbled it right up!


    I always find Erin's comments enlightening! Thanks for this series, Susanna!

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  64. Hahaha Kirsten :) Thanks so much for your very helpful comments for Joy and your nice rewording of the pitch :)

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  65. I would definitely read Joy's book because I like realistic fiction and stories that help kids deal with grief. I like the idea it is written in verse. I do think the pitch needs to be three or four sentences. Others have made some excellent suggestions below. And, I think Joy could find Erin's comments above helpful.
    Really enjoy Erin's comments -- they give a lot of insight.

    I

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  66. Thursday afternoon munchies, eh Donna Marie? :) By all means - help yourself!!! :)

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  67. Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Joy, Pat, and I'm so glad you find Erin's comments enlightening - I always do too!

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  68. Thanks for your thoughts for Joy, Penny! And as for the cake, I apologize if the supply was low when you got here. I have baked another just for you :) And thank YOU for always coming over to read and comment on WYRI - it is only what it is because of people like you :)

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  69. LOL...more like Thursday THROUGH Thursday afternoon munchies ;) Thanks! I think I will! :D

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  70. Glad you found Erin's feedback helpful, Lauri! And thanks so much for your very thoughtful re-working of Joy's pitch. I know she'll appreciate it :)

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  71. Thanks so much for your encouraging comments for Joy, Joanne! :)

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  72. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJanuary 16, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    Yay! Chocolate! I had a White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup! :D
    I would read the novel! Great pitch Ms. Joy (plus what the others say)! :D

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  73. Hi Joy
    I would read this as it is very relevant to what kids are facing today, but the title for me is very much a non fiction facts of life book. As others suggested, the questions in your pitch are not making it shine, with some rewording and removing them, you will have a great query. Best wishes

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  74. Thanks so much for sharing your helpful thoughts with Joy, Julie! :)

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  75. I didn't even know there WAS such a thing as a white chocolate peanut butter cup! What is that? A Reese's Peanut Butter Cup's poor cousin? :)

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  76. Julie,
    Thanks for your comment. The title's connotations I hadn't considered. This is good to know. Thanks.

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  77. Thanks Eric. I enjoy reading your blog. And thanks for passing on the info about a White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. Oh that sounds yummy. I'm eating a triple chocolate ginger cookie right now.

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  78. Hey Donna, I'm with you on the munchies. Where can we meet to organize a raid on Susanna's larder?

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  79. Patricia,
    I agree, Erin's comments for pitch writing are VERY good. there is so much to learn. This has been a valuable exercise for me. I appreciate your comments and everybody's help.

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  80. Oh, gosh Penny. I guess I was the piggie that ate your piece. I was hoping you wouldn't notice. Can I send you some of my triple chocolate ginger cookies? Thank you for your kind comments and I'll try to save you a piece next time.

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  81. Kristen,
    Thanks for leaving your comments. I've been so impressed with how helpful everyone is. This is a great community. Friends and chocolate--it doesn't get much better. I appreciate you.

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  82. Pam,
    You are right on the money. I've GOT to work out some of those emotional issues with specific details. thanks for your comment. I appreciate your taking the time to leave a message. Thank you.

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  83. Lauri,
    Thanks for your suggestions. I am so grateful for your help with my writing.

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  84. Joanne,
    Thanks for the thumbs up. I appreciate your taking the time to comment. I'll keep working on this manuscript.

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  85. Denise,
    Thanks for mentioning the questions making the reader work. I hadn't considered that. You're right, of course and you've helped to teach me something. I appreciate that and your taking the time to comment. Thank you.

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  86. Susanna,
    Out of the Dust is really a triumph in poetry. Everyone of the poems in the story is a sonnet. 14 lines of pure beauty and a story arc too. I personally have a real difficult time writing sonnets, I keep wanting to bust out of iambic pentameter. Jane Yolen had a whole book of sonnets she wrote when her husband was in the hospital. I do admire that work.

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  87. Joanna,
    Thank you for the suggestions. I'll include the books of Ron Koertge. SHAKESPEARE BATS CLEANUP, is a good one of his. WHO WILL TELL MY BROTHER by Marlene Carwell is an oldie but a goodie too. And pardon my blocked brain, but who wrote WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN'T KNOW and STOP PRETENDING? I haven't read as many novels in verse as I probably should, but I can get to work on that too.

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  88. Joanna,
    I'm really enjoying this dialog. Thanks.

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  89. Thank God we probably live far enough away! lol I can't stay on a diet as it is, but THIS looks WAY too good! lol

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  90. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJanuary 17, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    Well, Mom and I love white chocolate AND... well, one of the best B-Day presents ever! (and yes, they are Reese's Peanut Butter Cups) :D And Ms. Joy's cookie sounds delicious!

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  91. Thank you! I loved WHAT MY MOTHER... By Sonya Sones (she is great) but haven't read any of the others, so they are going on my list.

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  92. I would love to stay connected. If you like, do friend me on FB. :)

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  93. Late to the party, but I had a lovely day visiting a friend in Boulder! Thanks of corse to Erin for all her useful comments - so grateful!

    From the title of this pitch, I assumed it was a PB, but hey, that's what I marinate in! And the reason given suits well. I agree it needs tightening and no rhetorical questions. here is my crunched up crack at it:

    After the auto accident, Sara must adjust to a new town, new school, new friends, her older brother's fatherly advice, a pregnant sister-in-law, and the deafening grief of losing their parents.

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  94. I love that you marinate in PBs Julie! :) I might have to borrow that :) Thanks so much for your help for Joy!

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  95. Oh wow! That is really something! I don't think I could even write one sonnet :)

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