Would You Read It Wednesday #71 – Civil (MG Fantasy/Adventure) AND A Huge Announcement!

Well, the proverbial cat is out of the bag.

Months have I slaved in secrecy, awaiting the moment to unveil my latest hair-brained scheme, and what should happen?  It accidentally gets unveiled elsewhere before I got to tell you!

I’m kind of hoping most of you didn’t see it… but I know some of you did because you told me!  And on the off chance you did… or might… I thought you really ought to hear about it here first – straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were 🙂  (I know – first with the cat, now the horse, all this ridiculous cliche…!  Sorry, it’s nerves :))

So, slightly before I am truly ready, I will share my long-kept secret!

Ready?  (Steady now!  Deep breath…)

2013 is the first year since 1987 to have four different numbers!

Hee hee.  That is actually true but it’s not my long-kept secret.  I’m just foolin’ with you 🙂

Seriously, are you ready?

What’s that?  You need Something Chocolate?  Well of course you do!  It’s Wednesday!  Go get something.  I’ll wait.  In fact, here, let me offer you some Monkey Cake!

Photo copyright Stacy S. Jensen 2012 used by permission

Mm mm good and chocolaty!!!

Now then, ready for the secret?

Frankly, I’m a little afraid to tell you in case you don’t think it’s as fun as I do.  Maybe that’s why I’ve been hemming and hawing, tweaking and perfecting and generally mucking about and finding reasons not to tell you.  But the time has come.  Stiff upper lip and all that.  (See?  There’s the cliche again!  It’s like a disease… a disease of nerves! :))

Last May I thought to myself, you know, self? I think I’d like to write a writing course.  I know a little about writing and a little about teaching, and I would like to share with people who would like to learn.

So I got to work and, in between other writing and blogging and taking our son to visit every college on the eastern seaboard and westward into Ohio this summer and on into fall… and then winter…, I wrote a course on how to write picture books.  I polished and tweaked and roped in some beta testers (who shall not be named to protect the innocent but you all know them :))  I added lessons and took lessons away, turned some lessons into supplements and some supplements into lessons.  I reached out to 10 talented artists who very kindly contributed their fabulous work at a fraction of its worth to decorate the lessons and inspire my hopefully someday students.

And the result is my little writing course:  Making Picture Book Magic!  (I wish I could make that sparkle or something!  How about we all pretend it’s sparkling? :))  Look!  Here’s the awesome  header graphic designed by our own fantastic Loni Edwards!

illustration copyright Loni Edwards 2012

Making Picture Book Magic is designed to fit into a busy life-style and be fun, friendly, and affordable.  Each lesson will be delivered in a manageable-sized piece by email.  I did not reinvent the wheel, but I hope I do have something to offer that isn’t quite like anything else out there.  It is my opinion, for what it’s worth :), that it’s helpful to take multiple courses if you can because different people say things and explain things in different ways, and sometimes one way will make more sense to you than another.  Different courses stress different things and offer different exercises, resources and experiences.  There are lots of great writing courses available – Emma Walton Hamilton’s, Anastasia Suen’s, the Institute Of Children’s Literature’s (which I took many years ago) just to name a few.  But I’d like to be able to add mine to the mix in case it’s helpful.  And by working hard to make it affordable, I’m hoping it will be an option for lots of people.  You will note that there is now a tab in the header above.  You may click on it, or HERE, and learn all about the course if you are interested.

But in case you aren’t, I won’t go on about it any longer now.  It’s time for Would You Read It!!!

Today’s pitch comes to us from Wendy.  In what seems like a former life, Wendy was a middle school science teacher and principal. Now a writer and mom, she has published several personal essays and articles on parenting and education. When she is not pulling her sons around the backyard on a sled (100 laps on a recent afternoon), she works on her middle grade novel and her blog, The Family That Reads Together.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Civil
Age/Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy Adventure
The Pitch:  Five seventh graders–a sensitive ballplayer, a new student from Africa, a feared social outcast, a popular cheerleader, and a 9-year-old technical genius–are invited to join a secret time-traveling society. Soon, they must work together to chase an enemy through the bloody battlefields of Gettysburg, an increasingly dystopian Washington, DC, and their own dangerous school hallways. Charlie, Thabo, LV, Adriana, and Caitlin fight against time to restore history, rebuild a country, and survive middle school.

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 Wendy 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 February, so you have time to polish 🙂 for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Wendy is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I am looking forward to getting the finishing touches done on my course just in case anyone ever wants to take it!

Oh, and if you haven’t signed up yet but you’d still like to, the Free Virtual Conference runs until Saturday the 12th (one more expert was added) so hop over and check it out!

Have a supercalafragilisticexpialidocious kind of day, everyone 🙂

84 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #71 – Civil (MG Fantasy/Adventure) AND A Huge Announcement!

  1. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Gosh I hope not! I love dystopian! 🙂

    Wendy Lawrence wrote, in response to coleen patrick:

    Glad to hear that. Someone told me recently that dystopian had run its course. 🙂

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  2. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I believe that depends on whether the Queen of Picture Books is sitting in a sunny spot or beside the fire, or if she is out in the frigid winter air where chocolate donuts do not melt and turn her golden tresses brown! 🙂

    coleen patrick wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    So is a crown of chocolate donuts too impractical?

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  3. Susanna Leonard Hill says:


    I'm so glad you are offering a PB writing course, Susanna! I think you are the perfect instructor for the job:) I can't wait to check it out. However, I've totally over-committed myself this new year but am glad to know it's a monthly offering. I will be back at some point later in the year to enroll. As for the Pitch – YES – I would read it. I love MG and time travel!

  4. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks, Clar! I'm so glad you like the idea of the course and you're signing up! Maybe save the chocolate monkey cake for lunch 🙂 And thanks for your comments for Wendy! (Although Wendy, the heroine of The Hunger Games is actually Katniss, which is similar to Caitlin but not exactly the same.)

  5. Tracy Campbell says:

    Oh Susanna, where do I start? I know, I'll start with Stacey's mouth-watering, chocolate masterpiece. Stacey, you've out done yourself. Simply marvelous!
    I'm sorry to hear someone let the cat out of the bag. It wasn't me, honest. But now that it is, congratulations on offering a Children's Writing course 🙂 I'm in.
    I want to thank you so much for asking me to be part of your venture.
    Loni, your cover art is wonderful!
    Wendy, I can't offer much help as I don't read fantasy.
    Susanna, I'll be sure to promote your new course on my blog. 🙂

  6. Sue Heavenrich says:

    I would definitely read this! Had me at “secret time travel” – so…. and five diverse kids…. and Gettysburg.

  7. Patricia Nozell says:

    Susanna, many congratulations & thanks for putting together what looks like a wonderful course. Look forward to taking it in the spring!

    YES, I definitely would read Wendy's MG book. Love time travel! Also love how you group restoring history, rebuilding the country & surviving middle school together. I am intrigued, though, about the identity of the person(s) or group(s) that put the group together & wonder whether anyone else would like to see that person/group identified in the pitch.

  8. Wendy Lawrence says:

    Thank you! Yes, it is a balance trying to figure out what to leave in and what to leave out. Maybe calling the group by name would help. At any rate, I will think on your suggestions and I really appreciate your comment!

  9. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thank you so much, Patricia! I'll look forward to having you join the fun in the spring 🙂 And thank you so much for your comment for Wendy – interesting idea about the group!
    Susanna Leonard HillChildren's AuthorWebsiteBlogFace Book PageTwitter

    Subject: [susannaleonardhillblog] Re: Susanna Leonard Hill: Would You Read It Wednesday #71 – Civil (MG Fantasy/Adventure) AND A Huge Announcement!

  10. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I'll lure you into my kingdom yet, Coleen 🙂

    coleen patrick wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Ok. I will keep in mind that you draw the line at chocolate tresses. 🙂 All of a sudden I feel like we are brainstorming a picture book. You ARE good Susanna.

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  11. Patricia Tilton says:

    Congratulations Susanna! I think you are a born teacher and am delighted to see you take this step. Right now I am doing all I can do to keep a balance between writing, 12x12m blogging and my meditative work. I may try it a little later.

    I love time travel, and would read it. It's so hard to write a pitch and I think it needs tightening. Others have given some great suggestions.

  12. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks for your kind words and vote of confidence, Pat! 🙂 You've got a full plate for sure – good luck with everything! – and of course you are welcome at any time it fits your schedule 🙂 And thanks for your thoughts for Wendy! 🙂

  13. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks for your glowing enthusiasm, Tracy! I so appreciate it! 🙂 (And I know Stacy does too :)) And I appreciate you being a good secret-keeper, since you've known about this for ages since your art is included! I hope it's all going to be really fun! 🙂

  14. nrhatch says:

    Wonderful title for your course! Best of luck with it.

    And, if it's not premature to do so, talk it up in your interview on Friday. Try not to sound like a guinea pig when you do. 😉

  15. Susan Anderson says:

    I would totally read it, and I like the fact that the characters are so different. I would be interested to see how they interact and work together.

    As for the course, I have always wanted to know more about the whole “children's books should be in multiples of 8 pages” kind of stuff. I know how to write the poems, but I need to know what the parameters are as far as appealing to publishers. Does your course give those tips about format and such?

  16. Kirsten Larson says:

    Hi there! I would read it. I had one thought…the descriptors of the characters interrupt the flow of the first sentence. I know you are trying to show various “types” pulling together. Could use those in the last sentence instead of the names? And Susanna, you know how I feel about your course. 🙂

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