June 18, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #138 - Immortal Island (YA) PLUS Straight From The Editor!

Greetings from the Green Mountains, my friends!

(Because that is where I am right now - campus touring and college info session-ing to beat the band :)  Would anyone like to hear me GIVE a college tour and info session by the way?  I'm pretty sure I could do it, since I am on my 43rd college visit in the last 4 years at the moment!)

I love Vermont.  It's so bucolic.


I used to live here, you know, back in some of the days of my misspent youth :) so I feel very at home.  I mean, Vermont is the land of Ben & Jerry's so what's not to love? :)

Quick poll!  Favorite Ben & Jerry's flavor!

For me it's a tie between mint oreo and coffee heath bar.  Although I do also have quite a fondness for Cherry Garcia...  How about you?

While you mull over that immensely important question, let me present Straight From The Editor from April.  You will recall that the April Pitch Pick was won by Frances, and here is her winning pitch:

Working Title: Peter and AsburyBy Frances Kalavritinos
Picture Book Ages 4-8

Peter is a shy, socially awkward six-year old boy whose best friend just happens to be an ancient oak tree he calls Asbury.  When Peter learns that Asbury will be cut down, he comes up with a plan to keep the memory of Asbury alive forever.  The unlikely bond that develops between boy and tree helps Peter discover a very special talent that he and Asbury will one day share with the whole world.  

Here are editor Erin Molta's insightful comments:

This seems like it has potential, but you are going in two seemingly different directions which makes it a little confusing. Peter and Asbury are best friends, which is great—though begs comparisons to ShelSilverstein’s The Giving Tree. But is the story about this special talent that Peter and Asbury will share or the plan that will keep Asbury’s memory alive forever? And if it’s to keep the memory alive—wouldn’t a reader rather keep the tree alive—and shouldn’t Peter be fighting for that, instead? These are questions that an editor may not want to bother with. You want to present a more linear pitch that is clear on a point that will grab an editor’s attention and make her or him want to see the full story.

This is why we call on the expert, folks!  Erin has a knack for getting to the heart of the issue and helping us see it!

Now then.  Thanks to you all talking incessantly about Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors, our Something Chocolate for today simply has to be ice cream...
YUM!  Doesn't that look just chock full of chocolatey goodness?

Happy sigh.  Now that we are fortified with chocolate ice cream, let's have a look at today's pitch, shall we?

Today's pitch comes to us from Amanda who says, "My name is Amanda Hildreth (though my pen name is Amanda Wilson). My YA works have been previously published though now I seek new representation. I've been writing since I learned how to hold a pencil and began in the field of poetry. I have a degree in psychology which adds rich and gritty elements to my array of characters. I savor YA fantasy and romance because of the fast pace and magical worlds. Reading was my escape before my poems gave way to novels. Now, writing is not simply my escape from reality, it's my way of life." 

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Immortal Island
Age/Genre: YA
The Pitch: Seventeen year old Aria has awoken on the strangely familiar parallel world, Immortal Island, where life is eternal and once imagined monsters lurk everywhere. Aria’s arrival sets off a chain of events leading the Island’s destruction.

With the evil ruler’s son’s vow of protection, Aria is led to swim with hungry Sirens, cross hell to battle Nymphs of the Underworld and bargain the life of a loved one away to Muses with only the obscure chance of being guided home.

As a connection between Aria and the island becomes clear, so does the true nature of the ruler’s son and the other friends Aria has made. Her discovery sets both the Mortal World and the Immortal World on a path to complete annihilation. As her arrival brought catastrophe to the island, only her journey to find home can set everything right.


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 Amanda 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.)

Amanda is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to touring Ben & Jerry's today's college, which is actually at a college I've never toured before! Woo-hoo!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! :)


Reactions:

54 comments:

  1. Susanna, don't hate me for this but I feel I must be honest--I've never actually had Ben & Jerry's before. Eek! Shocking I know. Though just yesterday a friend told me about book themed flavors. I'd totally try Berry Potter and The Container of Secrets!

    As for Amanda's pitch, YES, YES, YES I'd read it!!! I can honestly say this because I actually already HAVE read it.
    Amanda is a dear friend of mine (who I encouraged to submit her pitch for WYRI?) and let me tell you, she has got a way with creating a world that truly takes you away! However, I know she's had trouble attempting to condense the essence of her novel into just a few short sentences so I know she'd appreciate any and all suggestions on how to make her pitch better. Is it too long? Does it include too much information? What's the most important part for an agent/editor to see? Having already read the book myself I may be a bit too close to the story itself to answer these questions.
    After seeing so many picture book pitches on WYRI? lately I'm interested to see suggestions y'all have for a YA novel. I always learn so much myself from WYRI? pitches! I know Amanda's excited for your comments too! So in the mean time, please pass the Ben & Jerry's, I've got so many flavors to learn about too!

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  2. I love the B&J factory - with all the contented cows out front. Fav flav is plain old chocolate. I know they love to put lots of stuff in, but I like my chocolate icecream unpolluted by fish or whatever.
    As for the pitch - I would definitely read it. I like sci fi kind of stuff. And I really like the Homeric aspect.

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  3. 43rd college visit?? Holy moly! Luckily for me, my son knew what school he wanted to attend...and it's the one in town that hubby teaches at so no visit was necessary. Big sigh of relief! I think you deserve a case of Cherry Garcia, which is also my favorite B&J flavor. :)

    Wow, terrific feedback from Erin as always. It's so true, but I also need reminding, that, in a PB, you must stick to one conflict and a clear resolution. It's a short book, after all!

    And I vote yes on the pitch, but I do have a couple pieces of advice. One is to avoid having the MC wake up to a change. I've read this in many place (and heard the same advice at conference talks) that starting out a story this way is cliche and agents/editors hate it.

    The word "to" is missing in "...chain of events leading the Island’s destruction." (between "leading" and "the").


    The second paragraph can be shortened (cut out all the details) or incorporated in a condensed form into the third paragraph.



    Also, Amanda, you might want to re-word the last paragraph so that you don't start 2 sentences in a row with "As...". Best of luck to you; this sounds like a fascinating story!


    Susanna, thanks for the chocolate ice cream...perfect for a scorching day like we're having today!

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  4. I haven't had Ben and Jerry's in a LONG time - but my favorite flavor "way back when" was Chunky Monkey. And that ice cream up there looks AMAZING.

    As for the pitch - it definitely got me intrigued. Not generally a book I would read, but I would likely get it for my daughter. The pitch did feel a bit long - and I like many of Teresa's suggestions for trimming. Best of luck to you!

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  5. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJune 18, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    I have never actually heard of Ben & Jerry's ice cream... I think I am missing something... ;)
    I think I would read the book (I don't normally read YA, but this sounds good).This pitch seems a bit long, though. I would shorten it. And make it one paragraph. In fact, I think that you could end it at the end of the first paragraph - I think it sells the book right there! :)

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  6. As for Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream? All.....I'm an ice creamaholic!!!!


    I would def read the book. I'm a paranormal fanatic (Patrons flock to me in the library because I have read a TON on this subject matter). I also think it sounds like something Teens would read. :) And I agree that your first paragraph alone could work as your pitch. It's intriguing and grabs your attention.

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  7. Karamel Sutra for me, please. I hardly ever read fantasy, but especially not paranormal, so I am simply the wrong person to ask. I would take a pass on this, but because it is just not my thing.

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  8. Banana Split is my flavor. I rarely read these kinds of YA books, but I agree that the pitch is long. One thing that might smooth it out might be giving us the name of the ruler's son. He sounds like a good guy, then not. Is that on purpose?

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  9. Vivian KirkfieldJune 18, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    Ah...your next career (or maybe a sideline with all of your spare time)...college tour guide writer. ;)
    Thanks for the B&J ice cream...I am an ice cream junkie (well, if I had my druthers...I'd consume ALL manner of junk food...but I try hard not to)...Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey are both winners...but I never met a B&J ice cream I didn't like. :)
    Great feedback from Erin...it's hard to hear we haven't written the greatest pitch...or that our story needs direction...but it's so good to have her comments as a template to make it better.
    I would definitely read Amanda's story...not that I have time these days to read for pleasure. :) I agree that the pitch could benefit from tightening:
    Here's a thought:

    Aria’s
    arrival on Immortal Island, a strangely familiar parallel world, sets off a chain of events that may lead to the Island’s destruction. When she discovers that only her return home can set everything right, Aria swims with hungry Sirens, crosses hell to
    battle Nymphs of the Underworld and bargains the life of a loved one away
    to Muses. But even these Herculean efforts may not be enough and the complete annihilation of both Mortal and Immortal World looms on the horizon.

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  10. For Peter and Asbury, I think it would just take one tweak to settle the issue. Trees die natural deaths due to old age/rot/disease, just like people. So when it's time to go, you really don't want to prolong the life at all costs. I think this could be the option in this story. Going gently into that good night instead of raging against the dying of the light. Maybe? And then preserving the memory.

    I don't usually read this type of genre, so I don't know what's out there. The plot does sound interesting, so I might give it the "bookwalk" test, meaning I'll read the first few pages and then hopscotch through a few more to see if the writing holds up.

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  11. I like the re-write! Thanks for the suggestion!!!

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  12. Stacy, Thank you for your suggestions! Actually this is the very diluted version of my query. I had to keep it short for this particular blog so this is the best I could do by condensing it. Here is the longer version, this longer pitch brought me through to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest a few months ago:

    Seventeen year old Aria Perin spent her life running from her mother’s demons. That is,until her mentally ill mother attempted to commit suicide. Now, Aria has awoken on the strangely familiar parallel world, Immortal Island, where life is eternal and her mother’s imaginary monsters lurk everywhere. Aria will risk everything to flee this island and find her mother, even at the cost of her life.

    An ancient prophecy that vows the island’s demise has been ignited by the arrival of this emotionally damaged mortal girl. Her arrival sets off a chain of events leading to the destruction of Immortal Island. The once stagnant island is crumbling due to what the girl calls storms and with immortals dying, the island’s ruler seeks to slaughter the prophesied one with hopes of saving her people and regaining her seat of power.

    The ruler’s son, Julian, knows only Aria’s return to the Mortal World will rectify the island, save his friend’s lives and quench his mother’s thirst for vengeance. With his vow of protection, Julian leads Aria through an epic voyage to help her find home. The cost for her path home, for the re-birth of the island and for the resurrection of immortals is lethally high. She must swim with hungry Sirens, cross hell to battle Nymphs of the Underworld and bargain the life of a loved one away to cursed Muses.

    At the end of her journey, Aria learns the connection between her and the island. She is the daughter of the ruler’s immortal rival. The motives and true nature of the ruler and her son becomes terrifyingly clear and Aria, once ravenous for home, must decide to stay and fight with her newfound family for the island that she belongs to, or walk
    through the door that leads home.

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  13. I would have loved to broaden this pitch but it had to be short. It was a good exercise for me! Here was the original first few sentences which explained why Aria arrived on the island...

    Seventeen year old Aria Perin spent her life running from her mother’s demons. That is, until her mentally ill mother attempted to commit suicide. Now, Aria has awoken on the strangely familiar parallel world, Immortal Island, where life is eternal and her mother’s imaginary monsters lurk everywhere. Aria will risk everything to flee this island and find her mother, even at the cost of her life.

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  14. It is on purpose. You're not supposed to be sure about the son (Julian) from the pitch. Good suggestions! Thank you, Genevieve!

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  15. thank you for your honesty!

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  16. Wow thank you! This is so encouraging!

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  17. Thank you for your feedback! It was very helpful and encouraging!

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  18. thank you for your feedback!

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  19. These are great suggestions! I read this pitch probably a dozen times and didn't pick up the slight grammar issues you found. So thank you for that! And I have never heard not to start a pitch with the MC waking in a new place, but it makes sense. It is cliche. However, this is basically how the main story begins. If you have any other suggestions on wording to make it a little less cliche, please let me know! Thank you again for your very helpful feedback!

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  20. Thank you! How encouraging!

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  21. thank you Kimberly! :) Your support and encouragement has truly driven this story.

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  22. I just want to send out a general thank you to everyone who took time out of their days to comment on my pitch! Everyone's comments were SO encouraging and helpful. I wasn't expecting to get such great feedback and such excited feedback! Thank you again for all your help!

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  23. That's good enough for me! I wrote a killer hook, well, I am biased I suppose. But thank you for your feedback!

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  24. Sorry, Amanda, I should have been clearer...I didn't mean for the pitch, but the story itself. What agents/editors dislike is starting the story with the MC waking up to something. I made that mistake once too, so I'm letting you know. :) I guess you'll have to find a different way for her to get to the Island. (I've since scrapped that novel I was working on because I haven't thought of a way to change the opening yet; I hope you'll have better luck!)

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  25. Hmm... something to think about. Thanks for the input!

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  26. Thanks! This definitely gives me a much clearer picture. The main conflict seems to be that, in Aria's desire to go home, she sacrifices everything—and everyone—only to find out she may want to stay.


    I like knowing about her mother’s mental illness, how the Island explains it, and Aria’s need to get home. I also want to know that Julian wants to help Aria do this, and how much she sacrifices (name the loved one). But the second paragraph could be one sentence about the prophecy and Julian’s mother, which would lead nicely to, “But Julian only knows….”


    So I would keep the second paragraph to one sentence, then tighten everything—three paragraphs tops. E.g.: “Even with Julian’s protection, the road home is plagued with troubles. Aria must swim with sirens, battle the Nymphs of the Underwood, and bargain away (her own mother’s) life. But when she discovers who she really is, the daughter of (Julian’s mother’s name) rival, Aria doesn’t know whether to stay and fight with her newfound family, or go home.”

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  27. Isn't WYRI? great?!? Susanna is so awesome for doing this!

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  28. I'm more than happy to help anyway I can! You know how much I believe in you and your writing Amanda. It'll be awesome to say someday that I knew you before you were a best selling author!

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  29. I'm so used to writing pitches for picture book stories that have to be short...but I guess for YA novels, they can be longer. I loved reading what you posted for Stacy...now I really want to read your book. :)

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  30. Thanks for the suggestions! It was such a hard query to write because there are so many characters and sub plots and the world is so complex. The loved one she bargains away to the muses is actually a brother (on the island) that she has become friends with. Trouble is, she doesn't know he's her brother until after she bargains away "the life of a blood related sibling" in return for directions home. If I was to mention who the loved one is id have to mention yet another character (I'm trying to keep that slimed down) and another subplot.

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  31. Late to the party, AND I don't read much YA, so not sure if the pitch is one I should comment on, but y'all know I can't keep the ol' trap shut! I find I am left wondering why she is there (does she even know?) and why anyone would help Aria too long into the pitch, and then still left wanting as a bit is revealed at the end. Sounds like it could use more of those details, then a bit of tightening.


    Thanks for the ice cream, Susanna!

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  32. I like the monsters and the island---and am particularly intrigued by the siren swim. Want to read more about that! :)
    Susanna, I'll be in VT next week! I can't wait. I plan on touring Ben & Jerry's too. If you've got a must see place let me know. Hope you're enjoying!

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  33. I'm glad you enjoyed it and found it helpful, Amanda! Don't we have such a great crew around here to share their advice and expertise?!

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  34. :) It's really all of you guys chiming in that makes WYRI so great, Kimberly!

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  35. We didn't tour B&J's - we were visiting colleges and pretty focused on that (though I've been to B&J's before in my misspent youth :)) Have fun in VT!!! And thanks for your thoughts for Amanda!

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  36. Thanks for your comments for Amanda, Julie, and I'm glad you enjoyed the ice cream :)

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  37. Thanks for you helpful comments for Amanda even though your eyes were crossed, Donna :) And you know, you really can't go wrong with classic chocolate - YUM :)

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  38. Thanks so much for your helpful thoughts, Jill!

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  39. Wow! Great pitch re-working, Vivian - I know Amanda will find it helpful! And I agree with you about Erin's comments - I'd always rather get constructive criticism to make it better! Enjoy the ice cream - it's guilt free :)

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  40. Ooh! A whole new world of ice cream! That sound VERY interesting, Stacy! I think I'd try the sweet potato first :) Thanks so much for your very helpful comments for Amanda!

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  41. Pralines & cream sounds totally scrumptious, Wendy! I'm really an equal opportunity lover of all ice cream :) Thanks so much for your thoughts for Amanda!

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  42. Thanks for your suggestion for Amanda, Genevieve! And banana split is an excellent choice - hot fudge sauce here we come! :)

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  43. Oh, yum! Excellent choice! One of my daughter's favorites :)

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  44. I like that - an ice creamaholic! That's me too! :) Thanks so much for your comments for Amanda, Brandie!

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  45. I have to assume your pulling my leg, Erik! Where do you live? Under a rock? :) If you haven't yet met B&J, that is a situation that needs to be rectified IMMEDIATELY! Your education is at stake :) Thanks for your thoughts on the pitch!

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  46. Interesting how popular Chunky Monkey is among this crowd! We have quite a few fans! :) Thanks so much for your thoughts for Amanda, Joanne!

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  47. Thank you for the case of Cherry Garcia! Now I feel sustained :) And thanks for your helpful comments for Amanda! Om' glad you're enjoying the ice cream :)

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  48. It's true, Sue. You really can't go wrong with classic chocolate :) I like all kinds - fish or not :) Thanks so much for your comments for Amanda!

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  49. So nice of you to chime in for Amanda, Kimberly, and support her this way. All your questions are very helpful to the other readers who come along. And it's great to know how much you love the actual book! As for not having tried B&J's - WHAAATTT???!!! Dearest! You must crawl out from under your rock and go find some at once! It is delish!!!!

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  50. Ha! My husband would probably agree with you! He often teases me that I must have been raised in a dungeon in the basement!

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  51. I love Stacey's pitch. Her idea is original and wild. Definitely want to find out what happens next, plus, you can tell that the author has a great sense of humor. How could you resist this title? Way to go, Stacey.

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  52. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJune 26, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    I almost do live under a rock. I live right by a small(er) town that is called Red Rock. :) I will let my mom know I am under orders to get Ben and Jerry's ice cream ;)

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  53. Thanks so much for your encouragement for Stacey, Carol! :)

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