January 21, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #158 - Hoot And Holly (PB) PLUS The November Pitch Pick Winner!

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

I hope you are all in fine fettle!

(I don't actually know what fettle is... it sounds like kettle, so maybe it means you're well stoked up on tea... though hopefully not so much so that you have that sloshy feeling, the technical term for which - according to me and my best friend in 6th grade - is "joggling" :)  But it also sounds like fete, so maybe it means you're partying.  Partying or tea-a-plenty, either option seems good on a cold January day :))

Whatever condition your fettle is in I'm glad you're here :)

(That sounds like it should either be a line from a Broadway show tune, or the end of a Mr. Rogers song, don't you think?  We should work on that... :))

Anyhoo . . . Let's get on with our regularly scheduled programming, shall we?

First off, I'm happy to announce that the winner of the November Pitch Pick (in an exceptionally tight race, I might add - very, very close this month!) is Heather with her pitch for Hubert's Dreadful Allergies!  Wahoo!  Congratulations, Heather!  Your pitch has already been sent to Erin Molta for her thoughts, and I'm sure you'll hear from her soon.

And congratulations as always to ALL our pitchers for bravely putting themselves out there and sharing truly fabulous pitches!  Is it just me, or do you all agree that the overall quality of the pitches has steadily improved since the early days of Would You Read It?  Seriously, I think everyone does such a good job!

Phew!  After all that excitement, I think we need . . .

Something Chocolate!!!

Today's Something Chocolate is not so much chocolate as Something Caramel - although you could (and should!) quickly remedy that with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce :)  But I thought we should go healthy this morning, what with it being January and a time for new beginnings and all... :)

Recipe HERE
YUM!

Now that we're all full of healthy apples (and possibly slightly less healthy caramel, and hopefully also a healthy dose of hot fudge sauce :)) let's get right down to WYRI!

Today's pitch comes to us from Michele who says, "I can't promise that a long time policy work and public relations professional can succeed in the world of picture book making. But I can promise that she will try!"

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Hoot And Holly
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: When Holly finds the orphaned owlet Hoot in a windswept field near home, she knows he won’t survive without her help. Together, Hoot and Holly forge an unlikely friendship as Holly cares for the baby owl until he can care for himself. Hoot & Holly is a story about growing up and saying goodbye. It blends the emotion of an Alison McGhee story with the sweet fun of impossible friend stories like Sophie’s SquashPeep, and Fly Away Home (film). Like Flora & UlyssesHoot & Holly celebrates the special bond between humans and animals. It’s a love story with a realistic end that will resonate with people of all ages.

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 Michele 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 June, 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!

Michele is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  Phyllis and I are off to an author visit today, so I am looking forward to that!  And Phyllis wants you all to know, in case you are wondering, that she is in VERY fine fettle! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


♫ ♫ ♫ la-la-la-la-la-la-la whatever condition your fettle is in I'm glad you're here! ♫ ♫


P.S.  This just in!  Important Hare-Brained Scheme Announcement in a special edition blog post tomorrow!!! :)

Reactions:

67 comments:

  1. Yes, I would read this. I am a sucker for animal, especially those in need of human help. The pitch is clear but feels long to me. My interest dropped off at the comparisons. Maybe dropping the comparisons and finding one little unique thing that makes your story different would strengthen it. You mention friendship and a love story which seems redundant and could confuse an editor so consider cutting one. I also think this pitch could be used as is and ended after the word good-bye. Good luck and I will be looking forward to it in my future reading!

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  2. Thanks Nancy - great advice! I Like the idea of narrowing the comparisons and highlighting what makes the story unique. It's the ending - the goodbye is really a goodbye!

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  3. Thanks for the suggestions - super helpful. The challenge to choose either friendship or love in the pitch is a great one. The story emerged from the bittersweet emotion of a parent nurturing a child then letting go...an unavoidable happy/sad. You've got me thinking - thank you!

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  4. Yes, I would definitely read this. You have a strong pitch that captures the essence of the story and also showcases your writing talent. I agree with the other commenters about cutting down the number of comparisons. Good luck!

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  5. I WOULD read it. I LOVE stories like this. I do think the pitch can be tightened up. I like the comparisons but I wonder if you should show how your story is different

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  6. That posted before I was ready. An agent said if you're going to compare then show what's different too. Good luck with this.


    Sus, fettle is a great word. I think it means how your state of mind is. So my fettle is good as long as I have horses, chocolate and writing.

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  7. Mmmmm...apples...waitaminit.... :D

    Michelle's pitch is pretty awesome! Wow, we're starting the new year off right. Last week and this week's pitches are so good, I am not going to be able to vote come the end of the month. I see others have already mentioned cutting down the number of comparisons so I don't have to. I'm also not as crazy about that last line. Other than that, it is a great pitch for a terrific sounding story! Love that title, too.

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  8. I would definitely read your story, Michele. I would probably cut the last line, as it seems too hard-sell, and let the reader judge for him/herself. I'm not sure of this, but maybe someone else knows, should you use comp titles from a different genre? This is a PB and Flora & Ulysses is middle grade?

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  9. I would read it. It sounds adorable. I would tighten up your pitch though. I felt the last 2 lines were not needed. Wish you tons of success on your book and look forward to reading it.

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  10. Thanks Randi!

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  11. I LOVE the title, Michelle! And the story sounds great too. I'm not sold or published, but I would probably leave out all the comp titles for a pitch - I think the information you give sells it all by itself. Personally, I would only include the first two lines - but that's just me (or maybe it's other folks too - haven't read the other comments yet LOL)

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  12. Thanks for the input Ariel - I'm thinking I'll try a blend of the two sentences and perhaps the last...you guys are making me think and I love it!

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  13. Thanks Robyn. I will tighten and emphasize what makes my story different - it's realistic end - the good bye as equal parts triumph and heartbreak. Here I go!!!!

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  14. Thank you Theresa - all the comments have me working to streamline, mix, and merge -- Such terrific advise!

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  15. Great insight and helpful feedback Kirsten. Thank you!

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  16. YES! I would read it. I think you've got a great pitch here, but I agree with the others about cutting down on the comparisons and not needing the last line. I can't wait to see this in the book store :)

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  17. Thanks Joanne - you may not be sold or published but I know how hard you work and study! Your advice is always spot on! Appreciate the insight!

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  18. Thanks for the encouragement Christie, and the feedback!

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  19. And I didn't even realize it was you until I read the comments below - after I commented. I thought the title sounded familiar. :)

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  20. Thanks for the treat! I'm having it for dessert after lunch!


    I would read! Love this idea. I'm with the many others as far as the last sentence. Cut it. And I don't think you should mention the Fly Away Home (film) or Flora and Ulysses due to genre differences. The title is all kinds of cute :-) I've been wanting to write an owl story for soooo long. Maybe your pitch will get me digging for ideas.

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  21. Can't wait to read about your hair-brained scheme tomorrow, Susanna. I don't know what it is, but I'm in! ;0)

    Michele, I would certainly read your story, but it sounded familiar to me as well just can't recall why. I'd drop the last two lines. I'm an animal lunatic and already see me crying hysterically over your story. :0)

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  22. A fine fettle would be in the making if that apple dessert would leap off the screen to me. (Need lunch!)
    I'm a maybe. Love the title. But I wasn't sure why the friendship in the story is "unlikely." Most animals (and I would think esp. an orphaned animal) bond with their caretakers. I guess I wanted to know what is different in this relationship, or in the telling of it.

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  23. Waiting with bated breath for the Hare-Brained Scheme Announcement tomorrow. :)
    The apple dessert is right up my alley...I will enjoy it with a cup of tea. :)
    Michele, I love your story concept and love the title...just to let you know, there is a 2001 picture book out there called Hoot and Holler by Alan Brown...when I saw Hoot and Holly, I thought of it immediately...it's about two owls who love each other but don't voice their feelings.
    I would definitely read your story...but I agree with the others that the pitch could do with some tightening. I think a lot of what you wrote would be perfect in a cover letter that would accompany your manuscript to an editor or agent. But the pitch, as I know it, is the hook, the 50 words or so that distills the theme/takeaway and gives us a tease of what we will find in the story. Here's an idea (but I don't like my last line):

    Holly
    knows the orphaned owlet she found won’t survive without her help. She (name 2 or 3 thinks she does, like feeds him ground bugs, covers him with her favorite blanket, etc). When (does something happen to threaten Hoot or Holly?), Holly (or Hoot) must (what she/he do). Growing up may result in their separation, but their bond of friendship will never be broken.

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  24. I will never cease to be amazed that no matter how much research you do, there is always a book with a similar title or something hiding just beyond your sight! Thanks for mentioning the book and for your suggestions!

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  25. Thanks for the input Wendy - you've got me thinking!

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  26. Hahaha Donna! If you smile as you cry I would be delighted - that's the complex emotion I hope the story conveys. Thanks for the comment - you guys are giving me lots to consider!

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  27. Thanks Penny! It's so great when there is a consensus of comments...the comparison segment of the pitch will be stronger based on all the terrific feedback provided here! Good luck with your pursuit of a owl story - they are pretty amazing creatures!

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  28. Susanna, thank you for the new word today! I'd totally forgotten what "party" means.
    Michele, you have an adorable story on your hands. I love the idea of stating the twist, what makes your story different. And I agree with trimming the comparisons to one or two books.
    I'd love to hear more about whether comparisons should stick to one genre.

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  29. Michele, I would definitely reed this PB! I love animal stories. I agree that I wouldn't mention a movie & a MG as a PB comparison. Also, I have not seen comparisons as part of a pitch before. They are usually in the longer body of the query letter. i would leave them out of the pitch. I agree with Vivian that a pitch it is usually shorter and that you don't tell us that "It blends the emotion of... celebrates the special bond between humans and animals ..& is a love story with a realistic end that will resonate with people of all ages." Show us, entice us to read the manuscript.

    Here's a possible start - Holly knows the orphaned owlet Hoot she found won’t survive without her help. Holly (one or two things she does to help Hoot - feeds him, etc) Together, Hoot and Holly forge an unlikely friendship as they grow up together and face (struggle, challenge they overcome, etc), ultimate learning how to say goodbye.

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  30. Michele, your first four sentences are excellent. In particular the first sentence showcases your writing style. I think you need to omit any references to books that are not picture books. In fact, I think all the references to comparable books would go into the second paragraph in your query letter. Within the first paragraph, I would advise you to add a sentence or two that details something unique, funny, or touching that happens in your story. Your pitch paragraph it has a strong start!

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  31. I think this sounds like a sweet story. I think there are too many comparisons in the query. I wouldn't include a movie. I would definitely read this.

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  32. Thank you for your feedback Heather. I so appreciate all the great insight the group has provided today -- so incredibly helpful. I'm looking forward to revising my pitch so the entirety of it is as strong as the first sentence. Many thanks!

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  33. I'll be right over :) Bringing the vanilla ice cream :)

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  34. Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Michele, Rosi!

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  35. Thank you for your very thoughtful suggestions for Michele, Heather!

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  36. Thank you for your thoughtful rewording of the pitch, Maria. I'm sure Michele will find it a helpful example!

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  37. Thanks for your helpful comments for Michele, Stacy! As for partying... stay tuned for tomorrow :) We'll get you out of your frozen ice cave and up dancing before you know it :)

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  38. I'm so glad you're enjoying the apple dessert, Vivian - it would be perfect with a nice cup of tea! :) And thank you so much for your very helpful comments for Michele and your possible pitch rewording! See you tomorrow... :)

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  39. Golly, Wendy! I do hope you got lunch... and that it had something apple-y, chocolate-y, or equally delicious! It's important to keep up our strength! And thanks so much for chiming in for Michele!

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  40. I love your enthusiasm, Donna! In before you even know what you're getting yourself into! :) Thanks so much for your input for Michele!

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  41. You're welcome, Penny! I hope you enjoyed it! :) Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Michele!

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  42. Dear very fine fettle, I hope your school visit went well with Susanna. And Michele, your story sounds like one that will touch hearts. Great pitch. :-)

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  43. Thanks for your helpful suggestions, Christie, and for your positivity for Michele!

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  44. Thanks so much for chiming in with your very helpful input for Michele, Joanne!

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  45. Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions for Michele, Karen! And for your encouragement!

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  46. Thanks for your helpful comments and suggestions for Michele, Kirsten!

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  47. Yeah, I know, Teresa... It was a moment of weakness when I thought, hey, we should try to be healthy! But I believe chocolate is actually a requirement of good health, so I'll knock off the fruit and get back to the good stuff next week :) Thanks so much for chiming in for Michele!

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  48. Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Michele, Robyn! And I'm SO glad to hear your fettle is good! Horses, chocolate, and writing keep my fettle in good shape too! :)

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  49. Thanks Tracy!

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  50. Thanks so much for your helpful comments and suggestions for Michele, Diane!

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  51. Thanks, Tracy! It was lovely! And thanks for your comment for Michele :)

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  52. Thanks for your very helpful suggestions for Michele, Nancy! :)

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  53. The first two sentences are a yes for me. I'm not of a fan of the comp titles. I've put very specific picture books titles in a query letter, but not in a pitch. I believe specific titles that match your book are best for those sections. Just listing an author could distract an editor or agent by trying to think of "which one" you think is a comp. Best of luck. We are on a school delay tomorrow, so I can hopefully read the hare-brained scheme announcement early.

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  54. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikJanuary 22, 2015 at 7:46 AM

    I would read this. I like the idea of it. I don't know if I can add anymore to the previous comments. :)
    Yum! Carmel! Apples! YAY! :D

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  55. Thanks Stacy! Thanks to Susanna and all of you, I've got a stronger pitch AND a stronger query letter! Bonus.

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  56. Thanks Erik!

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  57. I'm sure for Ms. Norman it's enough to know you like the idea, Erik :)

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  58. First I'd like to congratulate Heather on her win for Hubert's Dreadful Allergies. Another Wed. past, and another Wed. worked. This weeks pitch read so beautifully, I would definitely read it. I love the title, and the first few lines of the pitch drew me right into that 'windswept field'. I agree with some of the other comments that the comparisons are not necessary for the pitch, and as a consumer I don't like comparisons in general, each story should stand on their own (IMHO). Maybe a little more detail in the pitch about what it is that Holly does to help Hoot, and what leads to their goodbye, but otherwise a big YES from me.

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  59. I really like this approach because it concisely describes the story and the comparisons bring it to life. I would want to read it :)

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  60. Thank you so much for your very helpful comments for Michele, Jean! And I'm sorry your story didn't win the pitch pick - it was very good, but it was an exceptionally tight race! :(

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  61. Late to chime in, but would definitely read it! Love the title so much! I agree about the book comparisons not being needed, but they would not stop me from reading it!

    The apple carmel bit of happiness looks heavenly, btw. So yummy and clearly good for us!

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  62. Thanks so much for your comments for Michele, Bekah! And I'm glad you like today's healthy snack :)

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  63. Thanks so much for chiming in for Michele, Donna! I'm sure she'll be thrilled that you like her pitch! :)

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  64. Thrilled?! lol That made me laugh, Susanna :)

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  65. Donna Marie -- Thanks so much for reading and commenting on the pitch for Hoot & Holly! This forum has been so helpful and I'm so glad you would read my story!


    Best to you from snowy (but oh so happy SuperBowl central) Boston!

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  66. Bekah! So sorry for the delay in sending a big THANKS! for reading and offering your feedback! So glad you would read Hoot & Holly and appreciate the feedback about the comparisons. Best to you!


    Michele

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  67. Hahahaha Joanne! :)

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