March 25, 2015

Would You Read It Wednesday #167 - Adventures With My Step-Mom: The Magic Rocks (PB) PLUS The February Pitch Winner AT LAST!

The tension has been just unbearable, hasn't it?

You could just cut it with a knife!

I know you guys have barely managed to go about your daily activities, what with the wondering and anticipation and general angst over WHO WON THAT PITCH PICK!

I mean, seriously!  When have we ever had to do a pitch pick twice?  And even the second time I had to jump on Face Book at the eleventh hour and beg people who hadn't voted to go read and vote quickly in order to break yet another tie!

Talk about closely matched!  I came THIS CLOSE to having to let random.org make the decision.  But luckily it didn't come to that.

So it is with great pleasure (and no small measure of relief) that I announce that the tie was finally broken and we do have a winner!

So who's following March Madness?

Are you all basketball fans?

Everyone's brackets still holding up?

Can you believe Villanova is out?  Where did THAT come from?

Okay, I can't keep this up - I'm just fooling with you.  I don't even watch basketball.  I had to ask my kids for a team name :)

So anyway, yeah.  The winner of the hotly contested February Pitch Pick is. . .

Kirsten!
with her pitch for Finley vs. The Fly!

Congratulations, Kirsten!  Your pitch is on its way to editor Erin Molta for her read and opinion!

And congratulations to ALL OF YOU!  My goodness what a close race!  You all did such an amazing job, and I truly am sorry I didn't have the nerve to ask Erin to read and comment on all of them because you all deserved it!  But you are all winners just for working so hard on your pitches and putting them out there for feedback and then polishing them up to the point where literally no one could decide whose was best! :)

Whew!  After all that tension (which no doubt burned off at least a million calories) I think we need a little Something Chocolate, don't you?

I was going to go with just a plain old-fashioned delicious chocolate eclair...
Image and recipe at Tender Crumb HERE
... but then I thought of you nutty chocolate-isn't-for-breakfast types, so I added the healthy version :)

Image and recipe at Tender Crumb HERE
Scrumptious, no?!  We are all geared up for an amazing day with a start like that! :)

Today's pitch comes to us from Carrie who says, "I currently live just north of Cincinnati and am a step-mother to a hilarious and sweet eight-year-old boy. When I am not working as a pediatric social worker, I enjoy photography, running, and taking my best shot at this writing thing."

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Adventures With My Step-Mom: The Magic Rocks
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Days had grown dull until Jude discovers magic rocks, one for him and one for his step-mom.  Only when connected, the rocks send them sailing through the sky together on an adventure full of twists and turns. 

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 Carrie 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 September 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!

Carrie is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to going outside in a t-shirt and shorts and not being cold.  I know it's going to happen!... though maybe not this week :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!!


Reactions:

89 comments:

  1. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 25, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    I am looking forward to some wonderful feedback!

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  2. Congratulations, Kirsten! And yum, to the original eclair. I'll save the strawberries for shortcake or yogurt.
    I'm intrigued by the pitch but wondering what the stakes/hurdle is in the story. Maybe condense some of what you have to add that? Something like "To combat boredom, Jude and his step-mom combine magic rocks that _______

    Good luck!

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  3. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 25, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    Thanks for the feedback, Wendy! You didn't even know it, but are right on track! He did find the rocks to combat a newfound boredom, only to discover that he is more powerful when together with his step-mom. :)

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  4. Woo hoo, I needed some celebration chocolate after yesterday's rejection chocolate. Thanks for bringing on the sunshine. Carrie, this looks like an interesting read. Here are some ideas. First, can you start out more active (versus passive)? Is Jude bored out of his skull? Why? Also, can you give us a little hint about some of the adventures they have? Good luck with this one.

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  5. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 25, 2015 at 10:25 AM

    Thanks Kirsten! Great suggestions! The main adventure in the first story (I envision a series) is the discovery that the rocks, when together, give them power/adventure. The discovery of this, and their flight through the sky afterward, is the beginning of something big. Primarily, for their relationship. Thanks!

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  6. Eclairs...my favorite! Well, one of my many favorites. Anything with chocolate and no raisins is my favorite, really.

    Congratulations to Kirsten for the previous pitch win!

    I think Carrie's pitch holds great promise (there are not a lot of stories about step-parent and child, and magic is always good), but it needs a bit more detail. I like Wendy and Kirsten's suggestions for mentioning stakes and starting with active voice (I thought of that, too, as soon as I read the pitch).

    Also, I would add at least a hint about the resolution after mentioning what's at stake or something specific about the adventure. E.g. Jude and his step-mom discover that when the rocks are connected, they can sail through the sky. Together, they battle the Rabbitsaurus that's been wreaking havoc on the Kingdom of Lettuce, and bring back an orderly garden to the grateful King. (<-- that's silly, but you know what I mean...LOL!)

    Good luck, Carrie!

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  7. Oh that's funny chocolate for both occasions. Congrats, Kirsten!

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  8. I love a magical story. I think I would start by saying what is boring at the start and what is his relationship like with his step mom. Do they like each other? And I agree with Kirsten about a hint at their adventures. Good luck it sounds great.

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  9. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 25, 2015 at 11:57 AM

    Thanks Teresa!! Love the Rabbitsaurus idea. :)

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  10. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 25, 2015 at 12:02 PM

    I appreciate your feedback, Catherine! I will definitely focus on defining the adventure a bit more. And will work to convey the strength in their relationship so it translates well through the story.

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  11. Lara Ursin CummingsMarch 25, 2015 at 12:35 PM

    Just found this blog on the Twitter-verse and think it's great! My question for Carrie and the pitch is does it matter that it's Jude and his step mom? I guess what I'm getting at is that it seems this is a wonderful book about adventures, possibly with your own step son, but would it be confusing to kids who don't have a step mom? I know my own kids would probably want to know what a step mom is and why they can't have one too. Is the birth mom mentioned at all in the story, as in the other mom? I'm just thinking that maybe you could say it's about adventures with his mom or if he has a special name for you, like Mimi or something? I think it would allow you to put more emphasis on the great adventures you're going to have in the book. Good luck with your project! And while this is the kind of books my kids are starting to outgrow (so sad...) I think I would pick it up and read it at the bookstore! ;)

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  12. Congratulations, Kirsten! :) Now, let's eat chocolate to celebrate!

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  13. Yes, I would read it. Magic in a story always intrigues me, :) and I really like the fact that it's about the relationship with his step-mom. What if you added an adjective to describe the type of twists and turns? Something to add to the excitement. Just a thought. I like the story idea. Sounds fun!

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  14. Congrats, Kirsten! And thanks for the razz', Susanna! I'd like to know more about the adventures in the pitch. As it stands, and I admit it's an assumption on my part, I fear a didactical approach to learning to accept changes within a family, which may be a personal pet peave, but one worth consideration in children's lit.

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  15. Yum! Chocolate and raspberries, my favorite!


    Congrats, Kirsten! It was a fun—and tough—contest.


    re: the pitch


    I'd echo the comment about starting with an active presence. Maybe also be more specific about how the rocks connect. I like thinking about them as pieces of a 3-D puzzle. The "twists and turns" feels too generic to me, so maybe add some specifics there. Does the adventure involve some specific kind of danger that can only be faced by the two of them?


    I think that by including step-mom in the title, you may limit your audience, but then I'm not a marketing person. I think it's great to have that particular relationship, but I'm wondering if you can't just make that part of the story instead of including it in the title. Good luck!

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  16. I feel like I don't have enough information. I'd like to know what kind of magic occurs, how it happens, and what kinds of adventures ensue. The idea sounds cute though, so I think there's something here to work with. Good luck!

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  17. I have read this over a few times and have to agree that there is just something missing (IMO). For ex: the days are dull ~ is it summer? Is he visiting (since this is specifically about his step-mom)? Or he lives with them but he's just bored? When he finds the rocks he discovers they are magic (how?) but then it says: "only when connected" ~ so he didn't know this before even though he knew somehow they were magic? Plus I thought: only when he and his step-mom were connected? Which I guess is the same since the rocks had to be together) And...why didn't he give one to his Dad or one of his friends instead?


    I don't think it matters that they went sailing through the sky (since the 'magic' aspect was covered) just get straight to the adventure since that is what caught my attention.


    The aspect of the adventure (what kind? Where? etc) is what kept me interested.


    I love a good mystery and some adventure so I definitely think you have something to work with here. Good luck! :)

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  18. I think Magic Rocks should be the title. Plus you've got great feedback to think

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  19. Congrats Kristen! Eclairs for all! As I work through lessons and writing exercises for Susanna'w wonderful Making Picture
    Book Magic Class (infomercial!) I am currently taking, I find myself constantly referring back to the pitch I wrote for in my current work in progress, the heart and soul of my story. I want to make sure my writing reflects what I say my story is about so readers are on the same page. (who doesn't like a good writing pun!) An agent recently posted this on twitter:


    PITCH: [My character] WANTS [goal]____BECAUSE______[motivation] BUT_____[conflict] AND ____[this might result = HOOK]


    So when I read this pitch here's what I'm thinking:

    Character: Jude
    Wants: To go on an adventure
    Because: He's bored
    But: ?? I don't see a goal or problem or conflict he needs to reach for or solve


    I do know he finds magic rocks which totally rocks! And he does have some twists and turns in his adventure.

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  20. It's nice to see the title of "step-mom" portrayed in a positive way, without "wicked" before it!

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  21. Rosi,
    I think the magic is the connection that takes place between "Jude" and his step-mom. I come from a step-family and that's exactly what came to mind. Definitely not obvious, but I think the uniqueness of their relationship is represented by the rocks. Just my opinion.

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  22. As a product of step-family raising, I can say that this growing and underrepresented family type is unique in its dynamic and would greatly benefit from an empathetic angle. Imagine the 100's of thousands of step-kids in the country that go to the libraries with ONLY traditional families represented in children's books. Only recently have we seen diversity creep its way into these stories. I believe this to be another sector of the population in need of representation.

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  23. Absolutely a theme worthy of a story!

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  24. I would read it. Like some of the other comments, I like the idea of a picture book with good step-parent relationships. Maybe perk it up a bit with more setting in the pitch- "Hot summer days in the garden had grown dull" "Winter days in the house" - just to suggest where he might have found those magic rocks. Days
    had grown dull until Jude discovers two magic rocks. As his step-mom and he held them, they connected, sailing
    through the sky together on an adventure full of twists and turns.

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  25. Yes I'd read it. If the stakes are higher, and we find out more about Jude's adventure, we may want to cheer on Jude, which would create more of an endearing connection between him and the reader.


    Oh Susanna, the raspberries looked sumptuous… thanks!

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  26. Congrats, Kristen! And congrats to Susanna, for having a successful pitch session--which is resolved now. :)
    Carrie, I love the Step-Mom and the magic rock angle. Reminds me of "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble," with a completely modern take. But I'd love more specifics, with a focus on the conflict--and the adventure. I definitely want to know all about that.

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  27. I would read this. I like a step-mom book. We need more of those... Not the wicked kind, the fun kind. I haven't read all the comments, and this may just be me, but Magic Rocks were a "thing" like a science project. Put in the rocks, add water, and they grew to look like tiny castles. I think the rocks in the story are regular rocks that are magical. Should they be called Magical Rocks?

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  28. Kirsten Peavy BockMarch 25, 2015 at 7:51 PM

    I would definitely read this. I think that step-mom books are rare and very important. I have to say that, for some reason, the pitch made this book sound like a chapter book to me. I'm not exactly sure why, it just sounded like it was for an older audience.

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  29. I agree. I wasn't saying that the book shouldn't represent a step-family. On the contrary, I think it's a great idea. I was making a comment about the title so the book would appeal to a broad audience. Trying to think like a publisher.

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  30. I am reading comments from others who feel something is missing-- some bigger conflict or problem that needs to be addressed. I think the idea as presented makes for a good first story-- an introduction to the characters. Nothing earth shattering needs to happen-- the readers get introduced to and identify with Jude and his stepmom. I think that makes for a nice story-
    Otherwise the stage gets set for fun and positive to happen maybe in a series of stories. Carrie can take that anywhere she wants-- fun adventures, problem solving, solving mysteries, daring rescues-- what ever she chooses as long as the rocks come together and she and Jude are a team.

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  31. I saved my eclair for dessert.... and it turns out they pair nicely with whatever chardonnay was in the fridge. The pitch: would these two rocks work regardless of who is holding them? I would do experiments: what if dad has a rock, what if a friend does... or is it only your mom/stepmom? I really want to know where they go and what happens on this wild adventure.

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  32. Jennifer Cole JuddMarch 25, 2015 at 10:01 PM

    Hi Carrie! I would read, for sure! The magic rocks idea is fascinating, and I, too, agree that a relationship involving a step-mom fills a gap in the literature. My main question is, would the theme/thrust of the book be focused on the relationship, or on the adventure? I echo the others' thoughts about taking the beginning of the pitch out of passive voice. Maybe you can describe a specific action or time of day or season that Jude is doing/in? (BTW, love the name "Jude"!) I also wanted to know more about the adventure--liked Keila's thoughts, in particular, about pinpointing the conflict.

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  33. First---Congrats, Kirsten! The wait was worth it for you, I'm thinking :)

    Carrie, your pitch: love the premise! In just two sentences I was interested :) I would just like a touch more. I'm wondering---are they sailing in a sailboat? A hot air balloon? Do they have wings? I'm just wanting a tad more info :)

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  34. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 9:58 AM

    Thanks Donna!! Appreciate the feedback!

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  35. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:01 AM

    Jennifer, your feedback is very helpful! I have been working hard to make the adventure story the focus with the characters happening to be a step-family. I do want the relationship to be an important part. Trying to sync that up is tricky.

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  36. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    Good idea Sue. My thought is that the rocks are "just rocks" if not combined together. The power coming from the "relationship." I am working on trying to clarify that. :)

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  37. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:05 AM

    Kathie, you nailed it! It was hard to summarize this goal in the pitch! I will work on refining my pitch and trying to get this point across. Happy to hear you interpreted it as I was intending. :) Thanks!!

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  38. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:06 AM

    Kirsten, thanks for the feedback! I have heard this sentiment before and will take a look at the intended age range and how to adjust if necessary. :)

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  39. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    Thanks Genevieve! I agree, let's take the "wicked" out of step-mom and highlight the beauty of this relationship. Will take a look at calling the rocks something else. :)

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  40. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    Thanks Stacy!! I will take a look at that as well. Appreciate it.

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  41. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:09 AM

    Thanks Michelle. It will be a wild adventure. Wish I could have explained that better for everybody. Making progress!

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  42. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:11 AM

    Arlene, great ideas on perking it up a bit. I like that. It would translate well into the story as well and makes me mindful of use of language in a pitch. Thanks!

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  43. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:11 AM

    Thanks Connie!

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  44. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:13 AM

    Keila, thanks for the great feedback! I will be able to take this back and refine the pitch. You are always very helpful and I appreciate you! Congrats again on your book success!

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  45. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:14 AM

    Thanks Doris!

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  46. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    Hi Tracy! It was so difficult to translate the entire story in my pitch, something I need to work on! :) The rocks are only powerful when the step-son and step-mom use them - it is a representation of their unique relationship. It is hard to understand that from the pitch. Thanks for your feedback!

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  47. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:18 AM

    Thanks Rosi! I am excited about the story and wish you could read the draft. :) You would learn about the adventure first-hand. Appreciate the comment!

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  48. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    Thanks for the feedback! You are right, I want to make sure this reaches a wide audience and does not exclude people. It definitely will be beneficial for step-families as well as traditional families. I will work on this!

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  49. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    Julie, thanks for the comment! Definitely something to consider.

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  50. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    Thanks Cheryl! This is a great way to work on the pitch. I am learning a lot from this experience. :)

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  51. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 26, 2015 at 10:29 AM

    Thanks Lara! I am so appreciative for your comment and for bringing up the issue of how kids without step-moms may react, a valid question. This is something I believe is a gift within the story, a way for families to begin a non-threatening and open conversation with children about why over half of the population lives within a step-family. Not to get too heavy, but what an exciting conversation! :) That there are families different than what a child may know - even opening it up to differences in race or culture! Explaining why Susie at school has a step-mom and biological mom...and how this is wonderful and unique. Everytime I would go to the library for picture books for my step-son, there were no stories that represented HIS story. He had to adapt to the stories of traditional families. I want step-children to feel included while at the same time work to educate other children. One of many goals. :). Thanks again for your feedback!

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  52. Hi Carrie!
    I totally understand - I mean it is the pitch and you can only put so much. I guess for me the bigger issue was: why was he bored? And why, after discovering the rocks, he didn't share them with a friend or even his Dad? (vs his Stepmom - I could see someone wanting to share with a friend) So maybe if you tightened it that way.


    I don't know the story so it is hard to make suggestions. For ex: the bored issue - "Till his Stepmom hands him a magical rock and they're whisked away" (ok that was terrible but you know what I mean. lol!) Something that pulls us to it faster - so we are also "sailing away on an adventure".


    I look forward to seeing where you take this. :)

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  53. Congrats Kirsten! I'm really late, so hope to add something new (or maybe add to a theme of feedback). Not sure about the set up of "Days had grown dull" I would go straight to the action about Jude discovering the rocks? How does he know the rocks are only for him and stepmom? Not sure about that? Would they work with Dad? A brother? A neighbor? Grandpa? Is the story about the adventure or the discovery of this magic connection between Jude and his stepmom? I'm a yes, but have a few questions about the pitch. I also wondered about the "sailing through the sky" what type of vehicle or do the rocks give them magical powers to fly. Good luck. There's always so much to sort through on pitch days. Thanks for sharing your story. Yummy eclair.

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  54. Hi Carrie, your book sounds really fun so it's a yes for me! I like the idea of Jude going on an adventure with his step-mom since that relationship is rarely explored, but it might help to mention in the pitch if there something for them to overcome (not liking each other initially or feeling like strangers at first). Best of luck!!

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  55. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 27, 2015 at 1:13 PM

    Thanks Stacy! It's a lot to consider and I appreciate the feedback. The focus is the adventure with the important secondary goal of highlighting the relationship. Thanks!

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  56. Carrie, I am an absolute yes! The topic is so relevant and the adventure sounds quite exciting. Not only might this be a wonderful book but also a tool that can be used by parents teachers counselors and other professionals working in the child health arena. Best of luck to you!

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  57. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 29, 2015 at 3:15 PM

    Thanks Elizabeth! :)

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  58. Carrie BreitwieserMarch 29, 2015 at 3:16 PM

    Good point, Ariel. I have received this feedback from some others and am going to take a hard look at fixing the pitch. Thanks again! :)

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  59. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_ErikMarch 29, 2015 at 7:19 PM

    This sounds amazing! I would read the book! Does Jude not really like his Step-Mom at first, and then grows to like her, or do they get along? Just curious.
    OOOO!! Yum! Eclair!
    Congrats Ms. Larson! :D You deserve it! :D

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  60. Thanks so much for chiming in for Carrie, Elizabeth! I'm sure she'd thrilled with your positive comments :)

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  61. Thanks so much for your helpful advice for Carrie, Ariel!

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  62. Thanks so much for your thought-provoking questions for Carrie, Stacy - I'm sure she'll find them helpful! And glad you enjoyed the eclair :)

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  63. Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Carrie, Donna! :)

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  64. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments for Carrie, Kathie! I know how you feel about an introductory book where nothing earth-shattering needs to happen, but a little bit of problem or conflict of some kind is advisable - something to draw readers in - or it will be hard to get past an editor.

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  65. Thanks so much for sharing your reactions with Carrie, Kirsten - very helpful!

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  66. I have to agree with you, Genevieve, as a member of the under-represented fun step-mom group :) Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Carrie!

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  67. Thanks, Stacy, but I really had nothing to do with it - it was all down to the awesome pitches! Thanks for your comments for Carrie, too - I know she'll find them helpful!

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  68. Thanks so much for your comments for Carrie, Michelle! And you made me laugh out loud - "thanks for the raspberries" when everyone else is focused on nothing but the chocolate :)

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  69. Thanks so much for your wonderful suggestions for Carrie, Arlene! :)

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  70. I agree, Connie! Thanks so much for chiming in for Carrie :)

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  71. Thanks so much for your VERY helpful feedback for Carrie, Keila, and for that wonderful infomercial :)

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  72. Thanks so much for chiming in for Carrie, Doris!

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  73. Thank you so much for your helpful comments and suggestions for Carrie, Tracy!

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  74. Thanks so much for sharing your reactions with Carrie, Rosi - very helpful!

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  75. Thanks so much for your helpful and insightful comments for Carrie, Jilanne! And I'm glad you enjoyed the snacks :)

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  76. You're welcome, Julie - I confess, I had you in mind when I added the razz :) Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Carrie!

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  77. Thanks so much for your helpful and positive comments for Carrie, Cheryl! :)

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  78. Chocolate IS breakfast, Cheryl! How many times must I tell you that?! :)

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  79. Thank you so much for your very helpful and thoughtful comments for Carrie, Lara! And thanks for coming by my blog! I'm so glad to "meet" you and hope to see you around! :)

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  80. Thanks so much for your excellent suggestions for Carrie, Catherine!

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  81. Eew! Teresa! Eclairs with raisins in them might even be too yucky for me! Sheesh! I hope I don't have nightmares! :) Thanks so much for your very helpful comments for Carrie!

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  82. Wait! What did I miss? (Or forget?!) What rejection?! Congrats for winning the pitch pick! And thanks so much for your helpful comments for Carrie!

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  83. HaHaHa! You're so right, Susanna! How could I forget??? I'm setting out the Nutella for tomorrow's breakfast right now! :-)

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  84. You never know what will or won't help, right, girls? I think if we have opinions that may help, we need to voice them. Life's too short not to :D

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  85. I am trying to catch up after the loss of my BIL. I am sorry to lose but I give a handshake and a hug and a hearty congrats to Kirsten. Woohoo to you!


    I would definitely read this book. I am too late to give feedback. But it sounds awesome.
    Eating the eclair. Erik is trying to take it from me. It's a battle. *wink* Go DUKE! (Tarheels are out.) :(

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  86. Thank you for finding the time to help Carrie in this difficult week, Robyn - I'm so sorry for your loss! Help yourself to the eclairs!

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