Would You Read It Wednesday #107 – The Great UFO Hunt (ER) PLUS Straight From The Editor

I love my dogs.

I really do.

They keep me company while I work.  They are warm and cuddly and sweet and lovable.  They’re always up for an outing if the writing is not going well.

Really, how can you not love these two?
(Even though they are blurry because it’s next to impossible
to get them both in the same picture :))

But yesterday?

Yes, well, yesterday, I can’t say I was terribly happy with either one of them.

First, on a perfectly lovely morning run, during which I don’t recall losing sight of Scout (although Jemma disappeared for a while to investigate the neighbor’s compost heap), Scout somehow managed to get skunked.

we run here – no cars, so no leashes

Those of you who have dogs know that anything to do with skunks IS NOT FUN!

How could I have not seen it happen?  I was right there!

Nevertheless, skunked she was.  And I didn’t have time to wash her – I had to get my daughter to school!  So I had to gate her in the kitchen, open all the windows, and pray that her extreme odor wouldn’t asphyxiate either dog while I was gone and that I would somehow be able to get the smell out of the house when I returned.

Then came the bathing.

Although she will get in any scummy, algae covered, filth-laden mud puddle, pond or stream as long as it isn’t actually iced over, Scout does NOT like to be bathed!

And when I am alone, with no one to hold on to her, bathing Scout is an Olympic sport, let me tell you!

Afterwards, she sulked.

See?  She wouldn’t even look at me.

Then, while she was still QUITE wet (it’s hard to comprehend how much water that coat holds if you haven’t experienced it firsthand), the guy showed up out of nowhere to service the furnace.

“But you said October 3rd!” I sputtered, when he insisted the dogs be shut up before he got out of the truck.

So I had to shut them in my office… which now smells like wet skunk dog with a trace of lemon dish soap.  Quite the scent.  I think Febreze will be introducing it this fall.

So then, when he finally left, I put them out in hopes of airing out the house…

… and they conveniently found something dead to roll in….

…so we had another round of baths….

…and now my house smells like wet skunk dog mixed with barely concealed dead animal and a trace of lemon dish soap.

Truthfully it’s a miracle I was even able to write this 🙂

I think that calls for Something Chocolate if anything ever did!

Let’s go hog wild!!! (with many thanks to Kathy P. for the photo!! :))

It’s called Candy Shop Truffle!
(but it kind of looks like cereal so let’s pretend it’s good for us :))

So, after all that!, we have the August Straight From The Editor.  You will recall that Lisa won the August Pitch Pick with her pitch for The Golden Egg, a PB for ages 5-8.

Here is her pitch:

The golden egg that doesn’t hatch creates quite a stir among the feathered friends on the farm. The Eggsperts are called and the Whisperers weigh in. In the end, Mother Hen must decide whether to follow their advice or listen to her heart.

And here is what Erin had to say:

This sounds like it has potential, but in order for an editor to be intrigued you have to clarify it a bit. I love the Eggsperts and can imagine all the other hens giving advice, but who are the Whisperers? Are they the horses, or the cows? Some other animal entirely? If so, if you are envisioning the horses, perhaps you can say something like the Whisperers neighed their opinions or the Whisperers mooed their recommendations. If it’s a snake then the Whisperers would hiss . . .  It helps to draw a picture in the reader’s mind.  Good luck!

As always, I find Erin’s comments interesting and enlightening!  Thank you, Erin, and thank you Lisa!

Now, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Kari who says, “I live in upstate NY and resurrected this children’s series I started way back in elementary school.  My stories are based in part on things that happened to me and my friends when we were younger.  Living in a very small town in the middle of nowhere, you had to make your own fun, just like Mekayla and her friends do.”

Twitter (I just joined twitter so there’s not much there yet):https://twitter.com/kariwithey 

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Great UFO Hunt
Age/Genre: Early Reader
The Pitch: Aspiring space explorer Mekayla is convinced she sees a UFO crash land in the woods behind her house.  But despite finding evidence of something from another world, no one but her friends believe her!  With weird things happening in their small, sleepy town, Mekayla and her friends are out to save their town and prove life from outerspace does exist.

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 Kari 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 January so you have a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Kari is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to when my house no longer smells like wet skunk dog with barely concealed dead animal and a trace of lemon dish soap!

See you all on Friday for PPBF!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone! 🙂

62 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #107 – The Great UFO Hunt (ER) PLUS Straight From The Editor

  1. Tina Cho says:

    I feel for you, Susanna! I think my husband would say to get rid of the dogs. How can you write in a skunk-smelling office? I hope it has cleared by now.

    Yes, I'd read Kari's pitch. The only thing I'd delete is the first “but” on the 2nd sentence.

  2. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Yeah… my husband says that a lot because of the hair. They are both German Shepherd mixes and boy do they shed! But yes, thanks to vigorous application of baking soda and lemon dish soap, and a wonderful product called Citrus Magic (an organic non-aerosol air freshener) my house smells fine and as long as the dogs don't get too close all is well 🙂 Thanks so much for your comments for Kari! 🙂

  3. This_Kid_Reviews_Books_Erik says:

    The dog story is hilarious… and stinky 🙂
    I would read the story! This is the kind of book that I would love. I like it when early readers do a fun topic like UFOs. It sounds fun! 😀

  4. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    It is way funnier in hindsight than it was at the time 🙂 Miss Brown has forgiven me for the bath and is now lying at my feet gently wafting skunk odor at me 🙂 Thanks so much for your comments for Ms. Withey – I'm sure she will be thrilled! 🙂

  5. Donna L Sadd says:

    Sounds like you had a stinky comedy of errors day, Susanna!

    Sure, I'd read it! Reminded me of Stand By Me, only instead of a dead body, it's something from outer space. I stumbled a bit, and thought to switch some words around. I'm new it this myself so feel free to keep or toss, Kari ;0) :

    When Mekayla, an aspiring space explorer, sees a UFO crash land in her woods and finds evidence of something from another world, no one but her friends believe her! Soon weird things start to happen, awakening Mekayla's sleepy town, and she and her friends must fight to prove life from outer space exists to save it.

  6. Wendy Greenley says:

    I would read it! I enjoy twilight zone type things. One thing that stopped me was the phrase “is convinced.” That suggested the MC is mistaken and I want a better feeling for whether this is truly about an alien experience or not. If there are aliens, then “MC sees” if there aren't, then keep is convinced but maybe tailor the ending so we know it's about mistaken identity?
    Susanna, I feel your pain. I keep “Skunk-off ” in my cupboard for those moments. But truly nothing but time takes away the final funk. They are adorable despite this.

  7. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I'm glad you found amusement in my Olympic skunk bathing and horrible house odor, Katie! 🙂 Thanks for your comments for Kari. I haven't seen Chicken Little, so I can't say if I see a resemblance or not…!

  8. nrhatch says:

    I'm not even taking a bite of that dessert . . . because YOU deserve it ALL after the day you endured yesterday.

    Hope today is FRESHER smelling.

  9. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    It was quite a day, Donna. Scout has forgiven me for the bath and is once again lying at my feet… the delightful odor of skunk-that-won't-wash-off drifting up to me every time she moves 🙂 Thanks for your very helpful suggestions for Kari! And please let me know about your pitch revision – maybe I have the wrong email for you???

  10. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I have never heard of Skunk Off, Wendy! Apparently it's something I should keep in stock! I used hefty amounts of aking soda on the oily part – it soaks out the skunk oil – and then wash with lemon dish soap. There's a cocktail you can make with certain parts baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and a few drops of lemon dish soap, but I can never remember the ratios in the heat of the moment, and I didn't have enough hydrogen peroxide on hand anyway! And yes… I'll be smelling skunk every time she gets wet (which is pretty much every day :)) for a year! 🙂 Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Kari!

    Settings

  11. Cathy C. Hall says:

    Yep, I'd read it. I'm a sucker for UFO's. 🙂 But I think you could spice up the pitch if you added something specific…maybe like the initial bit of “evidence” to further hook your readers.

    And P.S. Have you ever considered writing a Chicken Soup for the Soul Story, Susanna? They're looking for stories for a title called, “The Dog did WHAT?”

    It smells like you're a shoo-in for that! 🙂

  12. Catherine says:

    What a crazy dog adventure! You may eat the entire cake. I'll definitely paint you all one day. Love that pitch. I would just hint at what they did to find out.

  13. Teresa Robeson says:

    Oh my gosh!!! One of my fav phrases is that it never rains by pours. I hope the smell will be gone soon. My dog loved to roll in dead stuff too but was never skunked thankfully!

    Oh you know me and space aliens! I would absolutely read this. I think it sounds like tons of fun. The only thing that threw me was the the “aspiring space explorer” part. I think it might sound better as something else, like “space enthusiast” or “aspiring astronaut.” But that's minor. Good luck with it, Kari!

  14. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    The house is okay… the dogs not so much… but they'll get there 🙂 Mine are addicted to skunks, apparently – but I think I'd rather that than porcupines! Thanks so much for your comments for Kari! 🙂

  15. Pam Brunskill says:

    Sorry to hear about your skunking/dead animal incident, Susanna! At least it gave you something special to write about 🙂

    I would read the story. The only thing I would change is “weird things.” Can you be more specific and state some of these? Good luck!

  16. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Well, we're letting bygones be bygones here on Blueberry Hill today 🙂 I'm trying to look past the lingering odor of skunk and Scout has forgiven me for the bathing incident 🙂 Thanks so much for your comments for Kari, Pam! 🙂

  17. Robyn Campbell says:

    EGAD, I'm late and I'll probably just repeat what these fine folks have already said. (Got a call from doctor I never heard of wanting to see Christopher.) *deep sigh* *tears flowing*

    Boy. A skunk. Sorry Sus. I have been there done that! Man yesterday was a comedy of errors for you. (I have a road like that too. SO SCHWEET!)

    I GOTTA HAVE THAT RECIPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Set that bowl on the table and enjoy the peace. Yeah man!

    I would read it. Sounds great! But it says she was convinced. If she saw it, she doesn't have to be convinced of it, does she?

  18. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Better late than never, Rob… but it's never too late around here 🙂 Thanks for your comments for Kari. Sorry about Christopher – that's way worse than a little bit of skunk 😦

    Here is the recipe to cheer you up:

    Candy Shop Truffle! -Stephanie

    1 box chocolate cake mix
    2 boxes of low fat chocolate jello instant pudding
    4 cups of milk (as per the pudding directions)
    1/4 cup peanut butter (plus 2 tbsp for drizzling)
    1 large container of low fat cool whip
    1 bag of mini Reese peanut butter cups (chopped into pieces)
    1 large bag of Reese's pieces

    Bake the cake as per the directions on the box. Let cool completely.

    Let cool whip thaw out until it's easier to spread.

    Make the pudding as per the directions on the box, at the very end before you let it set stir in the 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Let set.

    Crumble the cake into a trifle dish (or bowl), top with 1/2 of the pudding mixture, then add a layer of cool whip (1/2 the container), and then sprinkle 1/2 of the chopped Reese peanut butter cups and 1/2 the bag of Reese's pieces.

    Do another layer exactly the same: cake, pudding, cool whip, candy.

  19. Robin says:

    Sorry you had such a rough day! But on the bright side, your dogs are really cute, and I guess they're clean now. 🙂

  20. Wendi Silvano says:

    So sorry for your skunky event! I've been there.
    Yes, I would read it. It sounds like an intriguing story. I think the pitch is very good. I do think it would help to add some clue about why the town needs saving. Also I agree that the word “weird” might be too common. Perhaps “peculiar” or “curious”?

  21. iza trapani says:

    Yukky skunk! That is the worst smell. And then the baths for reluctant dogs…I can so relate. I hope things calm down on Blueberry Hill!

    The story sounds great. I confer with some of the other commenters to change the word “weird” and to give a hint of the trouble the aliens are causing. Nice job on keeping the pitch short and precise!

  22. Wendy Lawrence says:

    Yes, I would definitely read this and my early reader would love a series like this. I think what I'd love to see in the pitch is a little more excitement…maybe examples of things around the town–give us some action. Also “no one but her friends” to me implied a lot of people believed her. Maybe “no one but her best friend? or no one by Andy and Belinda?” etc. And a picky note: the word “town is repeated a lot in a row. I would look at that. Good luck! I hope I get the chance to read this someday!

  23. iza trapani says:

    Yukky skunk! That is the worst smell. And then the baths for reluctant dogs… I can so relate. I hope things have slowed down and the air is sweeter on Blueberry Hill!

    I concur with some of the other readers to change the word “weird” and to give a hint to the trouble the aliens are causing. Great job on keeping the pitch short and precise!

  24. iza trapani says:

    Susanna, I don't know what's going on, but there are three of me me me today 🙂 The comments are showing up in 3's. I tried to delete the two others, but it didn't work. Now you'll probably have three of this one too..

  25. iza trapani says:

    Oh good! I quit and came back and it looks like just one of each comment showed up. You must have thought I lost my mind!

  26. Kari Withey says:

    Thank you everyone for the comments so far! I'm glad everyone likes the idea of my story. I'm going into writing my third draft of this story and I'm still struggling a bit with the opening, so all suggestions are appreciated! Because it's early reader, I was iffy on some of my word choices and whether it went beyond the age range I was aiming for. I'm still learning that process. Hopefully one day you'll get to find out what Kayla really discovered.

  27. Genevieve says:

    I would definitely read this. I'm late here, as usual, but I read a few of the comments. I don't hate the word weird, but I would like to have an example or two of what happens in town. The book sounds like a blast!

    Scout and Jemma are very naughty. Did you just use the dish soap to un-skunk Scout? The recommended treatment is 4 cups of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and 2 tsp of liquid soap. I hope I never ever need this recipe!!! I hope you never need it again either!

  28. pennyklostermann says:

    I'm a twin! There's two of me, too! Weirdness by Disqus! Soooo sorry about the skunk and the something dead! What a day!Your deserve the whole Candy Shop Truffle.

    I would read, but I feel like you can tighten:

    Mekayla, aspiring space explorer, sees a UFO crash in the woods behind her house. Despite finding other-worldly evidence, only her friends believe her! With their help, Mekayla is out to save the town and prove that life from outerspace does exist.

    And the last line does bother me some, but I didn't come up with a resolution. Does she really want to prove that life from outerspace does exist or that aliens landed in the woods? I think it would be better to clarify that, because what I think you're wanting to get across is that she wants to prove they've landed and are a threat. Anyway, hope that made sense. Good luck with it!

  29. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Thanks for your comments for Kari, Genevieve! And thank you for the mixture ingredients! I did an inventive version of the skunk mix because in the heat of the moment I couldn't remember how much of what and I didn't have nearly enough hydrogen peroxide. But I think it's the baking soda that works best – I rubbed it right into her skunk-oily hair and left it for a few minute before I washed her… several times… and it seems to have done pretty well. Of course, if you put your face near her she smells like a skunk. But if you're not too close… like, say, Kansas… she smells fine 🙂

    Settings

  30. Kari Withey says:

    When I put this story through my critique group (my first draft anyway), they also made a remark that the goal didn't seem clear. They enjoyed the premise, just weren't sure what exactly the end result was that Kayla and her friends wanted. Kayla just has big dreams, no patience to wait and accomplish those dreams, and wants to make some big scientific discovery so she doesn't have to wait until she's grown up to accomplish anything. Obviously discovering another life form, which she believes exists, is the best discovery she can think of.

  31. Kari Withey says:

    I chose to use weird only because it sounded more like someone in that age bracket would use-there is luckily a lot of variety of the word I can use. Basically the “weird” happenings are disappearing neighbors, lights going on and off, and, of course, large pieces of scrap that she believes came from a real UFO scattered in the woods behind her house. Of course she tells her parents this and they start acting strange themselves, making her really believe something is going on in her town.

    Once again, thank you to everyone for the feedback! And since it didn't seem to post earlier, I'm so sorry about your skunky smelling dogs-it's the absolute worst! I grew up in the country (more or less), and that happened to a friends dog once. I didn't visit her house for a good month after it.

  32. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I did an amazing job on both dog and house! I dare you to smell skunk! (Unless you get within 5 feet of Scout… I'm afraid she's going to smell for a while… especially when she's wet… which is every day :))

  33. Carrie F says:

    Susanna, your day sounds like a movie — just when you think it can't get any worse… dun-dun-DUN! 🙂

    On to Kari's pitch…I always like a girl-oriented story that involves exploration and typically 'boy' topics like space. So yes, I would read it.

    I thought the pitch could be tightened a little. In the second sentence, I'd change the last part to “but her friends are the only ones who believe her” or maybe “but no one believes her, except her friends XX and XX (might consider naming her friends here – these early readers often have a friendship focus and if they are going to be regular characters then they should be named, I think).

    The ending gave me pause, too, where she said “prove life from outer space does exist” – to me this is setting your character up for failure because we all know life from outer space has not come to Earth. Is this really her goal, or is it something slightly different? Also, I'd like some hint at how the emotional conflict is resolved. If she's upset that no one believes her at the beginning, does she now need to prove that she's trustworthy?

    Overall, it seems like a fun early reader topic. Good luck with it!

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