January 7, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #156 - Stormy With A Chance Of Pizza (PB)

Happy New Year, Everyone!!!

It's so lovely to see you all again!

I hope all your holidays were festive and joyful!

And now, here we are at the front end of a brand new year.  Just like a blank page, it's full of possibility.  Who knows what great ideas we'll have this year, what wonderful new stories we'll write, what hare-brained schemes we'll come up with?! :)

It's a good feeling, isn't it?

I have already had two happy surprises - well, one surprise and one much-looked-forward-to occasion.

The surprise was that the lovely and talented Stacy Jensen, out of the pure kindness of her heart, took time out of her Lego Pirate war to try to solve the problem of updating Perfect Picture Books.  Her idea is a good one, and she's done a beautiful job (if you need web work, contact her at once!).  More exploration is required before we see whether it's something the Truly Tech Challenged (er, that would be Yours Truly) can actually manage, but either way it was incredibly kind and generous and thoughtful of her, and really that is what so many people in this kidlit community are like that it just reinforces my gratitude to be part of it.  Thank you, Stacy!!!

The much-looked-forward-to-occasion (which was only a surprise because we managed to pull it off at long last!) was that I got to have lunch with the wonderful Elaine Kearns, writer, and creator of Kidlit 411 (which, in case you've been under a rock somewhere, is celebrating it's First Birthday this week and you should definitely hustle on over and check it out because it's fantastic and there are all kinds of amazing prizes on offer!)  It was such a pleasure to meet her in person, after all this time of knowing her online.  And we only live about 20 miles from each other so really, what took us so long???!!!  I apologize for no photographic evidence of our meeting, but it was too cold to take pictures outside, and too dark inside.  (Anyway, that's the story I'm sticking to :))

I think all that wonderfulness calls for a little Something Chocolate, don't you?  (And no, of course I'm not trying to distract you from the glaring lack of photographs!  Why would you think that?!)

Since it is 0 (that's ZERO, folks) here, we need a warm Something Chocolate, so how about...
... warm pain au chocolat?  (which, for our English-speaking audience is plain ole chocolate croissant :))

Mmm!  Flaky pastry... warm dark chocolate... who notices the temperature now? :)

So, we were supposed to have the November Pitch Pick today, but what with holiday busy-ness and such, not everyone was ready.  So we'll have to do that next week.

Meanwhile, let's get onto today's WYRI!

Today's pitch comes to us from Jeff who says, "Though I’ve come to popular writing late, in a sense I’ve been writing all my life.  I’ve enjoyed a career in science and as a military health officer. In 2005 one of my journal articles won a prize and award as ‘best new research paper,’ which inspired me to try other genre.  
Under pen name ‘Jake McKenzie’ I’ve self piublished a novel, When Pigs Flu… a military spy thriller about pandemic risks and bio-terror threats and a work of creative non fiction, Civil War Comes Home, about what life was like in a sleepy Southern town (Williamsburg) when the war suddenly arrives on the town’s doorstep and Union forces occupy for the remainder of the war.
As we often hear, ‘wrote what you know,’ these are based on my career as a public health scientist and living in Williamsburg

As a recent grandfather, my favorite audience now however,  is children and I have several children’s picture books, targeted for ages 3-7 for which I am seeking a publisher or agent. (Please see: http://jeffdrifmeyerauthor.wix.com/home#)"
Here is his pitch:

Working Title: Stormy With A Chance Of Pizza
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch: Grandpa’s creative problem solving saves the day (or at least their dinner) when ‘can do’ perseverance triumphs over challenges of a new recipe and Mother Nature’s threats, showing  his storytelling grandchild the value of self reliance.

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

Jeff is looking forward to your thoughts on his pitch!  I am looking forward to seconds on pain au chocolat and spring.  Yep.  Now that Christmas is over I'm pretty much done with winter! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!  See you on Friday for Perfect Picture Books!



Reactions:

65 comments:

  1. Jeff--I would read it! You had me at "perseverance triumphs over challenges of a new recipe" because well, I'm a little challenged in the ANY recipe department! (:

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  2. HI Jeff and Susanna, Those croissants look good in English or French! Jeff, I give it a 'maybe." It seem stop general and I want a bit more specifics in the pitch - maybe more about the weather factor... I am also wondering what the grandson plays in the story. Good luck with this.

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  3. Hi Jeff! Love the title - but I'm not so sure about the story itself. I'm not really sure what it's about - and generally, from what I've heard, publishers want the child to be center stage - and to solve the main story conflict. It sounds to me, from what I am gathering, like grandpa is the main character and problem solver. I would suggest you use more specific words and give us more of an idea of exactly what is happening.

    And Susanna - isn't it WONDERFUL when you meet online writer friends in person! I have a writer friend just like Elaine to me. We live about 15 minutes apart, but, with one exception, we only see each other at writing conferences that are two hours or more away. Crazy, huh? And those croissants look heavenly! Thanks much - I will enjoy them with my chai latte. :)

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  4. Hi Susanna, its been awhile since I've posted but so great to be back and still find you here serving up wonderful chocolate fare!


    Hi Jeff - I really liked the title, it drew me right in--storms, pizza, sounds like a big hot mess! Would I read it? As it stands now I would have to say an honest no. The reason being, I was a little disappointed that grandpa seems to be doing all of the cooking and problem solving, or so it seems by your pitch. I am not so interested in grandpa, but I would be very interested in junior having a food fight in the kitchen with mother nature :) Grandpa should be secondary. I think you need to highlight more clearly what the problem is from the child's perspective. I'm thinking something along the lines of "Peter's got pizza on his mind, but when a storm blows through the kitchen the pepperoni starts flying. With a little help from grandpa, can he figure out a way to get the pizza in the oven before the cheese blows away..." or some such thing. Good luck, I think it's a great and fun concept! Would love to see a rewrite!

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  5. Happy 2015! It's fun to visit again. :)


    Jeff, I would have to say that I probably would not read it, but it's an easy fix. I agree 100% with what Karen and Joanne have said. I especially like the direction Karen was headed in her suggested replacement pitch. Good luck!

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  6. Oh, Susanna, (I always love saying that--) that Stacy Jensen is a gem, isn't she? Good luck with your techno-challenges! As for you, Jeff, and your pizza challenges, I don't know that I'd read this as the pitch is written. BUT, I suspect the story has personality and fun and I agree with other comments, that you need to get the fun stuff and personality into your pitch. Perhaps ask those grands to tell you what the story is about--get a kids'-eye view--and write from there!

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  7. Stacy and Elaine are both awesome-sauce! :)

    One of these days when I have nothing better to do, I want to make pain au chocolat! Yeah, right.

    Regarding Jeff's story, I agree with what the others say. I think I would like it, but the synopsis doesn't really tantalize or tell much about what will happen. Also, the title might be too close to "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs" for editors (unless you're the author of the original, don't make your title riff off another too much). Good luck on the re-write and your foray into children's lit!

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  8. Flaky, chocolatey yummy. Oh and others have commented on the things that caught my eye but I would also read it.

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  9. It was an absolute pleasure to meet the VERY talented and equally lovely, Susanna! How lucky was I? (What took us so long is that we were waiting on MICHAEL- LOL, so it was HIS fault.) I cannot wait to get together again! What a wonderful way to start out 2015! Thanks so much for lunch and for the shout out to KidLit411, Susanna!!


    As for Jeff's story, I also agree with the others, that the pitch isn't as compelling as it could be. I would also really reconsider changing the title, for the same reason Teresa mentioned. Happy revising!

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  10. Sounds cute...I think. I wonder if you could speak more to what the story is all about? I see the lessons learned but if I'm an agent/editor, I want to hear about THE story. I am scrolling down to read the other comments. LOVE what Teresa said about the title. I totally agree. So I'm not sure if I would read it right now.


    I WANNA do lunch with you guys. *feeling kinda left out in NC* I NEED (want) ten of the croissants, please.

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  11. Hi, Susanna, the chocolate looks divine, as usual. Great you have techie smart friends too. I'd be lost without mine. In regards to Jeff's pitch, it needs to be refined. As is I don't get a feel for the child character, or a sense of what specific Mother Nature threat. I also agree with the others who pointed out the similarity its title with the famously famous Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. So it's a Maybe for me. Best of luck with this project, Jeff!

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  12. Hi Susanna and Jeff! Yes, I would read it. It sounds like an engaging story. I think I'd like to see more emphasis on the storytelling grandchild and the obstacles they face before mentioning how they triumph and the lesson of self-reliance. Hope that makes sense. Sounds really cute. Best luck with this!

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  13. Late to the game as usual, I agree with many of the commenters who said we need more about the child. And also that child should be the one doing the "creative problem solving." Good luck with it, Jeff.

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  14. Yes! I love PB books about extended family and I love PB books about food so I can't help but get excited over this pitch :) I do agree with other commenters about refining the pitch to explain a little what the weather has to do with the story. Best of luck!

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  15. Yeah, I've worked out browser issues and can finally comment!
    Enjoyed reading the pitch, but it struck me that Grandfather shouldn't be the center of the story. Agree with Joanne Sher's comments. Love the idea of the story and it has a great title. Many have already added their great comments, so I won't repeat. Good luck!
    Hope you're keeping warm Susanna -- it's even frigid here in Ohio.

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  16. Mike Allegra writerJanuary 7, 2015 at 2:20 PM

    Gah! How did I not know about Kidlit 411? I am now duly subscribed. Many thanks!

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  17. Sweet surprises, Susanna! Stacy is a whiz!

    I'm on the fence with Jeff's pitch. The title is a fun take on a classic, which will lead readers to expect exactly that, a twist on the classic. As for adult protagonists, I am all for them, IF done in a way that will appeal to children. I could easily accept the child(ren) 'fixing' Grandpa's attempts, like Gromit does for Wallace - the dog is the mastermind, not the 'adult' yet the adult goes on believing he is. As is, the pitch sounds pedagogic, which is not desirable. Good luck with your endeavors, Jeff!

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  18. Jeff, I'm a maybe. I'm partial to stories with kid characters, but I'm not opposed to adults like A sick day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead. Maybe fine-tune more about the weather and the recipe? The recipe makes me think it's in a kitchen/house setting but the weather makes me think it's outside. So either we have a stone pizza oven on the grill or pizza takeout is part of the solution. "Story telling" grandchild ... is the child fibbing or telling stories with his/her imagination. Just a few random thoughts from me. Good luck with the story....
    Susanna you can do this with the website. We'll figure it out. We'll get more people into the site (er, drag them into the working phase to update the list). So glad you got to meet Elaine! Awesome!

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  19. Yay, Stacy! I value the PPBF resource, too. Thanks for the time you spent :-)

    Regarding the Susanna/Elaine meetup...I'm experiencing two emotions!
    1) Joy because two of my treasured online friends got to meet in person!
    and
    2) Jealousy because two of my treasure online friends got to meet in person! Seriously, I would love to meet all of my online writer friends in person! I can't imagine the fun you two had! I'm happy you got to meet!

    Jeff, I'm a maybe, too, for previously mentioned reasons. It does sound like you have a fun story in there. Just make sure your telling of the story targets the 3-7 year old audience. I love intergenerational stories when the child is the focus.

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  20. Hi Jeff! I love your "hook-y" title. I agree with Joanne Sher. I think most publishers want children or child-like characters at the center of the action. As written, Grandpa seems to have the lead. Could you revamp things and put the children front and center?

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  21. Thank you so much for your helpful thoughts for Jeff, Joanne! And yes, it really is wonderful to meet online friends in person. Without exception I have found them to be even more wonderful in person than they are online, and it bolsters my faith in the world to know that, at least in the kidlit community, there are so many genuine lovely people! Enjoy the croissants! :)

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  22. Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Jeff, Kirsten!

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  23. Thanks so much for your thoughts for Jeff, Penny! And I would LOVE to meet you IRL! Why is Texas so far away? If you come here, you can meet me AND Elaine :) Oh! And Iza - she's close too! I have an extra bed right now... if you don't mind a couple of dogs around :)

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  24. Thank you for your very helpful "random thoughts" for Jeff, Stacy! And thank you especially for taking the PPBF problem on! One of these days I guess I'll have to come to Colorado so I can meet you and Julie and Julie IRL :)

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  25. She certainly is! And the kidlit community is full of so many wonderful talented people - you included! - who are so generous with their talents and resources and time! We are very lucky :) Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments for Jeff!

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  26. If I have introduced even one person to Kidlit 411 then my work ain't been in vain fee nuthin' :)

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  27. Hurray!!! And thank you so much for the Christmas Card you sent which I saw but is lost somewhere in my horrible inbox! Thanks so much for your comments for Jeff! And hope you're keeping warm too! It's veryveryvery cold here!

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  28. Thank you so much for your positive comments for Jeff, Ariel - I know he'll be appreciative! :)

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  29. You are not at all late, Genevieve! And you are very kind to come and help at all! Thanks for sharing your thoughts for Jeff :)

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  30. Thanks so much for your helpful thoughts for Jeff, Cheryl! :)

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  31. I'm glad you approve of today's chocolate selection, Linda :) And yes - thank goodness for my techie friends - I am hopeless in that department! Thank you so much for your helpful comments for Jeff!

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  32. Thank you very much for your insightful comments for Jeff, Robyn! Help yourself to as many croissants as you like! I wish NC was closer! Elaine and I talked about you at lunch yesterday, so it's LIKE you were there, but we wish you could have been!

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  33. Thank you for your helpful thoughts for Jeff, Elaine, and for treating me to lunch :)

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  34. Thanks for chiming in for Jeff, Angela, and do help yourself to as many croissants as your little heart desires :)

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  35. Yes, they are indeed, Teresa! Maybe we should all meet at your house for pain au chocolate... Indiana is kind of half way between NY and CO, don't you think? Elaine and I could carpool :) Thanks so much for your insightful comments for Jeff!

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  36. Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions for Jeff, Cathy! And yes, that Stacy is certainly a gem! :)

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  37. Thank you, Christie, and to you too! It's lovely to see you :) Thanks for your helpful thoughts for Jeff!

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  38. Hi Karen!!! So nice to see you again! :) And of course, there is always plenty of chocolate around here :) Thanks so much for your very helpful comments for Jeff, and your pitch re-wording suggestions!

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  39. Hi Kathy! I'm glad you like the croissants :) Thanks so much for your helpful thoughts for Jeff!

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  40. Thank you for your positivity and enthusiasm for Jeff, Rebekah - I know he'll be thrilled :)

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  41. Military scientist...no poop in this story? LOL. Married one. Ha. Agree, its a maybe for me, proceed with caution by giving Grandpa top billing as the problem solver. Which character is your mc? That's the one who should change and come to a resolution Even when rewritten instead of saying a character is clever, show through their actions. Instead of saying a characher persevered, give an example of their behavior. If the child is the storyteller, he can still be the mc and things happen to him while grandpa may be a supporting character. But hard to say because I'm not clear what the story is about. There's a balance between giving too much and not enough. Wish I could say it's that simple. Not! Hope this makes sense!

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  42. I'm intrigued - although I wondered if it was related to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. I think you'd have me a bit more if you could be more specific on the challenges and threats.

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  43. Thanks so much for chiming in with your thoughts for Jeff, Marla! :)

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  44. Thanks so much for all your helpful thoughts and suggestions for Jeff, Keila! And now I'm wondering what poop has to do with military scientists... :)

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  45. My hubby and his military colleagues research enteric diseases. Just fancy words for poop research! Lots of history over the centuries trying to keep the men and women in uniform healthy, especially when posted abroad in developing countries. So when the pitch mentioned Mother Nature...hmmm...

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  46. It's zero there? I won't complain about 16 degree weather in the ATL. Brrrrrr. I"m glad you got to hang out with Elaine. I had a chance to meet her on FB courtesy of our own Robyn. I'm so glad I subscribed to Kidlit 411. Fun stuff going on there. For the sake of everyone's waistline, I'm willing to sacrifice myself and take those croissants and place them in my kitchen. Yes, you're right. I'm so considerate. Waving at Stacy and smiling. What a doll for taking on that task. Amazing people in our community, right Susanna?

    Jeff, I read your pitch several times. Bringing the funny is what this pitch is calling for. You hint at the funny. I say go for it. Is Gramps a bit of a klutz or maybe not the best problem solver? I mean, the threat of a storm, coupled with what appears to be a made for disaster recipe, Man you've cook the fixins for laugh out loud situations. How do you feel about the pitch taking on that angle? Gramps, as everyone has suggested, could use the help of his grands to encourage a parent to want to pick your book off the shelf for their little one. All of this to say, I'm intrigued and I do think I would probably read your book because of the elements you listed. I think it is a fun read. Make me know it.

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  47. Hi Susanna! I'm late to the party, but Happy New Year! Everyone's already mentioned the things I would have said: make the child the problem solver and describe what happens a bit more. I'm also wondering if publishers wold balk at the title being so close to the classic, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."


    My one and a half cents worth. Now I'm off to catch up on everything I missed during the past two weeks of "out-of-town-ness." Cheers!

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  48. Jeff, I am on the fence too. I am curious, but I don't have enough to go on tho decide to pick it up.
    I agree with Julie Rowan-Zach that Grandpa could be the MC, with the children fixing everything behind him. As the pitch stands, i am not really sure what is going to happen, except that it involves a storm and pizza. Also, what does "his story telling grandchild" have to do with the pizza making? Good Luck with this one.

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  49. Hi Jilanne! Happy New Year to you, too! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and help Jeff in the midst of your re-entry into the blogosphere. I hope your inbox isn't like mine. If I was away for 2 weeks I'd just have to delete everything and start over - I'd never catch up :)

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  50. It was below zero this morning, Pam! Brrr!!! You know, I think I'm going to have to take a road trip one of these days. I could drive to NC and see Robyn, and on down to Atlanta to see you... and visit my sister while I'm there :)... and there's probably tons of other people along the way... It would be so fun! So kind of you to sacrifice yourself for the greater good :) I'm pushing the plate your way :) You are just one more example of the amazing people in this community! Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments for Jeff!

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  51. Hi Stacy! Thanks, and to you too! I'm so glad you're already a Kidlit 411 fan - they are amazing! And yes, Stacy is the bee's knees. I feel cautiously optimistic that we might somehow come up with a plan :) Thanks so much for your helpful thoughts for Jeff!

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  52. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with Jeff, Maria!

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  53. Yes! I particularly love the title. And Susanna, thanks for the warm chocolate treat. Perfect for this ridiculously cold week!

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  54. I know it, Coleen! What is with this crazy weather? It was 50 on Sunday, and 5 below zero this morning!

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  55. Sorry I'm late, but I seem to be scheduled to work every Wednesday! I'm a bit on the fence with this story. I had to read the pitch a few times, and still wasn't clear about the story. I also think the title is too close to "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". That being said, what I do love is the story idea of a grandson and his grandfather, and all the funny things that can happen between them. Good luck with your story!!

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  56. There is no such thing as late, Jean! You are here, and that is lovely! Thank you for your helpful impressions for Jeff!

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  57. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJanuary 9, 2015 at 8:08 AM

    Sorry I am late on this! I am a maybe on the pitch. The story sounds like it has some cool parts to it, but I am not really sure what it is about.


    Isn't it cool when you meet a blogging friend in real life?!? :) Have a great weekend!

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  58. Thanks for chiming in, Erik! And yes it is! One of these days I'm going to meet you! :)

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  59. Howdy...so sorry I am so very late,Susanna. I've heard they say better late than never...just hope that is true. ;)
    First of all, congratulations, Jeff...on your writing successes and on your grandfather-hood!
    I do love the idea of inter-generational interaction...so I'm a yes on your story.
    Perhaps the pitch might give us a bit more about what is happening and how the grandchild is a storytelling kid. I wasn't sure if he loved stories...or he fibbed and 'told' stories. :) I loved the idea in the comments of having the kid in the background, fixing things., but perhaps that is not the direction you want the story to take. :)

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  60. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJanuary 10, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    I can't wait for that day either! How about tomorrow? Or yesterday! ;)

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  61. Please don't worry at all, Vivian! It is so nice of you (and everyone!) to come over and help people out with their pitches! If it weren't for you, this forum wouldn't work! So whenever you get here, I am grateful, and I know the pitchers are too! Thanks so much for your thoughtful suggestions for Jeff!

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  62. Happy New Year Susanna!

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  63. Thank you, Lauri! You too! What's on the writing agenda for you in 2015?

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