July 16, 2014

Would You Read It Wednesday #142 - Sophie Vs. The Monster (PB) PLUS The June Pitch Winner!!!

Dog saga alert!

(You can skip down to Would You Read It if you don't want to hear the dog story.  My feelings will only be a little bit hurt... and you may possibly get less Something Chocolate... but please, skip if you want :))

So yesterday on my way out to meet a writer friend for coffee (okay, actually lemon bars (her) and oatmeal raisin cookies (me)... thank you for the cafe, Barnes & Noble :)) I saw a stray dog.

He was a chocolate lab, young-looking, wearing two collars (a choke chain and a regular collar), but wandering about with that definitely lost look.

He wasn't far from the main road where cars drive VERY fast, and there were heavy thunderstorms in the forecast - both bad things for most dogs.  Plus, he was wearing that choke chain and I don't like to see dogs on the loose wearing things that could get caught on a branch or something and potentially choke them.

So I stopped my car, got out, and spoke to him nicely.

He took right off into the woods.

Ah, well, I thought.  Maybe the people at Crazy Acres across the road got a new dog.  (They have a lot of dogs over there and they're always getting loose.)  I was going to be late, I had no hope of running fast enough to catch a dog that didn't want to be caught, and I certainly didn't want to accidentally chase him toward the main road, so off I went to meet my friend.

But when I came back 3 1/2 hours later (yes, 3 1/2! Don't get all judgy!  It was a half hour drive there and another half hour drive home, and we had a lot to catch up on and a lot of dessert items to eat :)) ANYway, as I was SAYing, 3 1/2 hours later I saw him again in almost the exact same place.

Once again I stopped the car and got out and spoke to him sweetly.  This time he lay down and looked at me, but then decided either me or the car or both were too scary and off he ran again.

I went home to get some chicken to lure him with, and discovered that my daughter had seen him as well on her way in from work an hour earlier, although at that point he had been all the way in near our house.  We set out on foot with the chicken, hoping to tempt him close enough to catch and see if he had tags.

No luck.

We couldn't find him.

So we walked home.

But we were both worried about him out there, wandering lost, with darkness falling and thunderstorms coming and that road not far enough away.

I was about to suggest running down to Stop & Shop to see if anyone had posted a lost dog poster on the board there when my daughter, who is much smarter than I am, googled lost dogs in our town and discovered a listing on a FB page that was definitely the dog we had seen!  There was a photograph of him and a phone number to call.

Chocolate lab missing on Pleasant Ridge Rd. I know he was naughty for running away, but we love and miss him. We are very worried about him. :(

Please call with any info

It had just gone up!  If we'd googled before we walked out with the chicken we wouldn't have seen it!  So I called right away and told the woman we had seen her dog multiple times over the past few hours.  Turns out, she lives up on the corner less than half a mile away!  She was very grateful for the information on where we had seen him and set out at once in her car, hoping that if he was nearby and heard her voice he would come to her.  I was worried, though, because by the time I spoke to her I hadn't actually seen the dog for nearly an hour.  He could have wandered off anywhere.  And she said he wasn't very good about listening or coming when called.

"I hope she finds him" and "I hope he gets home safe" we all kept saying to each other.  But we didn't expect to find out.  I hadn't given the woman my name or phone number in our hurry, just the info on where the dog was so she could get right out and look for him.

Well, we comforted each other as we started making dinner, at least we saw him and called, and she's out looking for him.  We did what we could do.

And then, to my surprise, the phone rang about 20 minutes after I'd spoken to her.  She was very kindly calling back (thanks, redial :)) to report that she had found him and he was home safe and sound (although extremely smelly and requiring an immediate bath :))  "I can't tell you how grateful I am," she said.  "He's my husband's best friend, and he didn't even want to come home if his dog was still missing."

Truthfully I didn't feel like we had done all that much, but it was a happy ending to the adventure all around, and an instance of when social media really works well and is great to have! :)

I know after that emotionally wrenching story you must all be ready for Something Chocolate!  How about some Mississippi Mud Pie (because we are having torrential downpours here which is making a lot of mud, so mud pie seems very apropos :))

Mississippi Mud Pie!
Recipe here:
Ah!  That's better!  I feel refreshed enough to tell you about the June Pitch Pick, which I know you have all been wondering about so desperately that you got up early just so you could rush over here and find out! :)

So it is my pleasure to announce that the winner of the June Pitch Pick is . . .

with her pitch for Sprinkles Goes To School!!!

Congratulations, Kimberly!  Your pitch has already been sent to editor Erin Molta and I'm sure you'll hear from her soon!

Congratulations to all our pitchers from June as well!  You all did a terrific job, and your stories sound wonderful and engaging and I would read them all!  Give yourselves a pat on the back for writing the story, writing the pitch, being brave enough to submit the pitch for feedback, and then being professional enough to revise your pitches based on that feedback to really improve them.  Excellent job everyone!

Today's pitch comes to us from Lavanya who says, "I'm a software engineer by day, and an avid reader of fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and literature by night. I'm also mother to a young girl who has just discovered the magical ability to make meaning out of the printed word. I started putting my own words down on paper last November, and when I went to my regional SCBWI conference in April, I confirmed a suspicion that I had long harbored - writers are the nicest people in the world, and I want to be one of them. :-)"

You can follow her on Twitter ( and ask her about following her blog which is protected.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Sophie Vs. The Monster
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)
The Pitch: The very first night that Sophie lays her head down in her brand new big girl bed, she meets a monster… who likes to rhyme. When the monster challenges Sophie to a riddle game, she must use her wits to guess the right answers. Will Sophie survive this ordeal, or end up in a monster meal? 

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 Lavanya 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!

Lavanya is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting started on building the ark that we are clearly going to be needing!  It's July, Mother Nature!  Enough with the flash flood warnings! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


  1. First, let me say that you and your daughter did so much more than most people would have done. And because of your keen eye and concern, a family has been reunited with their four-legged-loved one. So good on you and double up your slice of Mississippie mud pie :-)

    And Congrats to the Pitch Pick Winner. Woot! It will be nice to see what great feedback Kim receives.

    As for today's pitch, my first reaction was, "Oh no! I don't want Sophie to end up in a monster meal." So yes, I would read it.

  2. What a happy ending for the lost dog! And congrats to Kimberly and Sprinkles! WTG!! As for today's pitch, YES. I like the premise, make that love, and the pitch is right to the point. I'm curious to read more.
    On a personal note, Hubby and I are leaving for a 2 week VACATION (haven't had one of them in years) I will miss this fun until 7/30.

  3. :-) My first reaction to this pitch was that I think it is nicely crafted, but I'm pretty sure I would not read it. My main reason for this is that I think the age range for kid vs monster needs to be a bit older. The move from crib to bed is solidly pre-K, but the rhyme challenge concept works a bit better post Kindergarten, maybe K-2? If Sophie meets her monster in her "brand new room" or her "new house" and I can visualize her as a scrappy strong first grader instead of a tasty tender toddler, in my opinion you have a potential hit. Best wishes!

  4. Yay! I love it when lost animals find their way home again . . . with a little help from two-leggers.

  5. First, Susanna, of COURSE it was a "chocolate" Lab! ;) And you did really go out of your way. This IS one of the positive uses of the internet and it was really nice this story had a happy ending :D I'm sure all your hearts were glowing quite brightly at the outcome :D
    Yay! and Good Luck! to you, Kimberly :D :D :D I hope to see that clown in a book someday!

  6. OK, accidentally posted before I commented on Lavanya's pitch. I hate when that happens *sigh*

    Anyway, I like this version of using riddles to save Sophie :) I was just thinking it needed to be clearer as far as why she would be a "meal" and how rhymes AND riddles fit. Also, breaking up the last sentence to emphasize the rhyme there. This is not really thought out, just somewhat (after all, I vowed to cut back on blog reading and am being SOMEwhat successful). Perhaps something along these lines:

    Sophie hadn’t expected a monster—a very HUNGRY-looking monster—to show up on her first night sleeping in her “big girl” bed. He promised not to eat her if she could answer 3 riddles, and in rhyme, no less! Can Sophie’s wits save her from this ordeal? And not end up as a monster’s meal?
    Good luck, Lavanya! :)

  7. Oh my gosh...what a wonderful story of your helping that lost dog go home again! And that pie...oh double gosh!!!

    Kudos to Kimberly for the win!

    I would love to read this story based on the title and the pitch! I'm not sure if the idea of being eaten by a monster might be too scary, but I like that she is trying hard to out-wit him. I really thought it was pretty well-written but I actually do like Donna Marie's suggestions for improvement too, so you might want to consider them. Best of luck to you, Lavanya!

  8. So glad the "chocolate" dog was returned home safe. You are so good at getting chocolate to your friends far and wide, Susanna! ;) Everyone that meets you is blessed.

    Congratulations to Kimberly and Sprinkles! Good job!

    Yes, I would read your story, Lavanya. I just have to know how Sophie avoids becoming a monster meal. I will say, though, I had an instant of being scared...but then again I was one of those scared of the dark kids. I also like the idea Donna Marie had to revise. Best of luck to you!

  9. Susanna, that dog is so lucky it came upon you and your daughter!

    I would read Sophie vs. the Monster. The pitch peaks my interest just enough to see what this monster (and Sophie) are all about. I'm curious whether the monster is really tame (like Emily Brown and the Thing), or is really scary. Or somewhere in between!

  10. Susanna = dog gone angel!
    Pie = looks delish, albeit a tad gritty.
    Lavanya's pitch = What is tight and enticing, and well, 'well-done'?

  11. I would most definitely read this! I LOVE anything that has to do with monsters. I agree with some of the other comments listed above. I'm not a fan of the title. There are too many (Name) vs. (Name) books. I think that it would get lost on one of my shelves at the library. I think you need a more popping title, like some suggested "How not to get eaten by a monster". To me...that is just a more enticing title and something that both a boy and a girl would grab off my shelf. Just something to think about. I liked the pitch. I just feel like their needs to be a little action in it. I dunno. I just feel like it's missing something. Good luck! :)

    And so glad the dog got safely back home. And Mmmm......chocolate pie.....

  12. Hi Susanna, Yeah on the dog story. Is there a PB in there somewhere? I haven't been around for awhile but have a plan to try to make it here every Wednesday. :)

    YES, Lavanya, I would read your story. Rhymes, riddles, monsters and a sweet little girl -- what's not to like. In reading through other posts, there were a couple of points made that I thought might be worth restating or 'seconding': Donna points out the mystery of the issue of becoming a meal. While it IS a monster story (and I think monsters might eat me), her rewrite emphasizing hungry connects me better with the notion of becoming a meal. Arlene mentions age -- I didn't see where you had selected an age range, but it does seem like it's well worth considering/being clear on. Kimberly makes note of the name Sophie and suggests choosing an alternative that is less used -- if you choose different, I would encourage staying with a name that like Sophie sounds so soft, sweet and innocent. I do like her revised title -- that would definitely draw some attention.

  13. I was thinking about my own son, who appears to be a tough guy until it's time for bed. He sees all kinds of crazy things in the shadows, so I wouldn't choose this for him to read at bedtime. And he's 10! But he's probably one of those anomalies. That said, I agree with Arlene's analysis about the intended age range conflict. If the riddles are easy enough for a 3 year old, then it might work--if the monster is more friendly-looking than scary. I also like the suggested title" How Not to Get Eaten By a Monster." Very enticing. I would read this book for myself. :D

  14. Susanna, love the dog story! Especially with its happy ending. Serendipity strikes!

    I put my comment about the pitch in response to Arlene's below.

  15. Wow! I'm so grateful for all the helpful comments! Thanks everyone for taking the time to give me such thoughtful feedback (and Susanna for giving me the opportunity) :-)

  16. Congrats for helping reunite the family .

    I too like Donna Marie's revision. Since I've seen mixed reviews about questions in queries, I offer a few tweaks - Sophie hadn’t expected a monster—a very HUNGRY-looking monster—to show up on her first night sleeping in her “big girl” bed. He promises not to eat her, if she answers 3 riddles. Sophie must use her rhyming skills to outwit the monster and avoid ending up as his next meal

  17. I thought summers were supposed to be lazy and laid back. Not this summer! I hardly have time to breathe. :) All good things - mostly writing/revising/taking classes - but not much time for blog reading. However, missing WYRI was not an option - so here I am, Susanna. :)

    Lavanya - I LOVE your story - and think your pitch is pretty darn good. You've gotten some great suggestions here. My granddaughter's name is Sophie - so I will need to buy a copy of your book when it is published. :) :)

  18. What a lovely dog story!

    But I have one question: What were you doing eating oatmeal raisin cookies when B&N has double chocolate everything? Explain yourself!

  19. Uh... did I forget to mention the goody bag I took home with me containing a large supply of triple chocolate brownies? My bad! :)

  20. Glad you enjoyed the dog story and the pie, Joanne :) And thanks so much for your very helpful thoughts for Lavanya! :)

  21. I really didn't do that much, Stacy. But I adore my dogs and know how I would feel if one of them were lost. And I always figure you never know which little bit of information might end up helping. Thanks so much for your comments for Lavanya :)

  22. I didn't even think of him being a chocolate dog, Rene! That is so perfect! :) Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments for Lavanya!

  23. I love happy endings :) And mud pie :) Thanks so much for sharing your insights with Lavanya, Teresa! :)

  24. Thank you so much for your helpful thoughts for Lavanya, Donna! :)

  25. I hadn't even thought about him being chocolate, but that sure is perfect, isn't it? :) I'm so glad my daughter thought to look on the internet - I wouldn't have, but now I know. There is a whole FB page for Lost Pets of the Hudson Valley. We were all thrilled at the happy outcome - most of all, the woman's husband :)

  26. Thanks so much for chiming in for Lavanya, Elaine :)

  27. I know! I was so glad it all turned out well. I was so afraid he would have taken off somewhere and she wouldn't find him with the thunder rumbling. Thanks so much for your comments for Lavanya! And Linda, I have to tell you, you post the best stuff on FB! I look forward to seeing what you put up because it always makes me laugh :)

  28. Well, I'm just so glad it all turned out well, Angela! He was a sweetie, and I know what it feels like to be very attached to your dog :) Thanks so much for your comments for Lavanya!

  29. I know it! This summer is nuts! I'm glad you're doing so many wonderful things, Vivian, and I do so appreciate you making time for WYRI. I know Lavanya does too! Thanks so much for your helpful comments!

  30. I know! That's why I was so happy it all worked out. I used to have a dog who was afraid of thunderstorms, and one time someone let her out as one was beginning when I wasn't home and she took off and was gone for 3 days. I was beside myself. And then luckily someone a few miles up the road found her and called our phone number from her tags and we got her back. Thanks so much for your comments for Lavanya, Genevieve!

  31. Glad you liked the dog story, Jill :) and I was very happy it ended well! And many thanks for your comments for Lavanya!

  32. Hi Teresa! So nice to see you :) I don't know if there's a PB in it or not... but it's definitely worth mulling over a bit :) You are so kind to stop by on Wednesdays, although I must warn you there are only 2 more before I take a little break in August. But then we'll be back in full force in September :) Thanks so much for you very thoughtful comments for Lavanya!

  33. See? This is why it is so helpful to have a knowledgable librarian in our midst! I really liked the title, and the only similar one that leapt to mind was SHARK VS TRAIN. Thank you for your helpful insights, Brandie!

  34. Julie = too kind :)
    Pie = not gritty - oreo crust YUM!
    Lavanya's pitch = thanks so much for your thoughts :)

  35. I was just so glad it all worked out for the dog and his family, Katie! Thanks so much for your comments for Lavanya!

  36. I know. Isn't it wonderful? It's so sad when you see those lost pet posters in the supermarket :(

  37. Thank you so much for your very helpful and thoughtful comments for Lavanya, Arlene!

  38. I know! It was so nice of her to call back and let me know. I was kicking myself for not giving her my name and number, but it didn't seem relevant at the time. But I would have wondered and worried if she hadn't called, so I'm grateful that she did! Thanks so much for your thoughts for Lavanya!

  39. Well I'm very glad you won to help balance out the turmoil of the stolen car, Kimberly! And I'm sure Erin will have some helpful thoughts. I'm also laughing because several people have mentioned the chocolate dog and I never even thought of that for a second, but it's so perfect! :) Thanks so much for you thoughtful comments for Lavanya, and hope this week is less tumultuous! :)

  40. Hmm... I don't feel like we did all that much, but I DO like the idea of being a superhero! :) Thanks so much for your helpful thoughts for Lavanya, Tina! :)

  41. I'm just so glad it ended well, Maria :) Thanks so much for your very helpful thoughts for Lavanya!

  42. Yes, a true "happy ending" :) What could be better? And you have a Hudson Valley out there, too? You're in the midwest, aren't you? The one I know of is by the Hudson River here :)

  43. Not in the midwest :) Same Hudson Valley :)

  44. OH! I thought you were out there! You're on the east coast! :D

  45. Great dog story, Susanna! So glad for the happy ending!
    I love Lavanya's premise for the story! At first I thought the pitch worked very well, (only the rhyme/riddle connection was a bit vague). But, after reading some comments , I do see that it can be reworked. Donna Marie's rewrite is great. I definitely want to read this story. It's right down my alley!


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