Well, lovelies, I promised you a little synopsis of the conference, so here it is.
I think it went okay.
Well, maybe I should say I hope it went okay. Because truly, it’s all a bit of a blur – intense nervousness apparently has an inhibiting effect on memory – someone should probably study that if they haven’t already! 🙂
There was a brief period just before I began when I feared someone would have to employ smelling salts to peel me off the floor, but luckily that didn’t end up being necessary 🙂
Here I am, standing at the front trying to look and sound like I know what I’m talking about:
Here is one of the slides from the beautiful power point presentation (my first ever!) that my daughter kindly helped me with (and by helped I mean did the entire thing with me leaning over her shoulder saying, “I want it to look like this here, and say this there”, etc…. patience and kindness, thy name is Katie :)):
And, now for the really important photo, here is the Something Chocolate that Dee, the organizer, who clearly knows me well, left as a gift for me when I arrived at the hotel:
This is a Buffalo specialty called Sponge Candy. It has a delicious inside, kind of like caramelized sugar but with a texture that is light and crispy when you bite into it, but then melts away in your mouth like cotton candy. And the outside is coated in milk or dark chocolate. Here is a close up:
I know you all want to rush right out to Buffalo and get some!
So anyway, that about sums it up: long drive to Buffalo, perfect gift on arrival, miraculously managed to get through the whole full day workshop, went out for a delicious and delightful dinner with the organizers as well as 5 YA authors and 2 agents who were going to be Sunday’s workshop – really fantastic company – what a group!, and then long drive home from Buffalo. . . and am here to tell the tale 🙂
Now then! Onward!
Today’s pitch comes to us from Katey. Katey Howes has been dreaming of publishing children’s books since she was 5, and finally had the good sense to take a break from a full time job as a physical therapist to turn her dreams into realities. She is raising 3 voracious readers (8, 6, and 4 years old) who are her biggest inspiration AND harshest critics. Katey has worked with children her entire life in camps, schools, homes and hospitals. Because of this, she has a special sense of what makes them tick, what makes them strong, and what makes them laugh. She tries to bring this to all her stories. Katey blogs on Raising Readers every Monday (and other random mommy/writer/insomniac nonsense on other days) at http://www.kateywrites.wordpress.com. You can find her tweeting @kateywrites, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kateywrites, and pinning book-y goodness at http://www.pinterest.com/kathrynhowes3/.
Here is her pitch:
Working Title: Dandelion Wishes
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch: Gia and her mother have everything they need on their hill above the trees: one Saturday after another of togetherness, magic, and wishes. Dandelion Wishes follows Gia and her mother as they journey through the seasons and see sunny skies turn grey; fields of dandelion wishballs disappear. Just when Gia thinks magic has gone from her hill and her heart, something beautiful happens to remind her that what she always wished for was there the whole time.
So what do you think? Would You Read It? YES, MAYBE or NO?
Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone! And don’t forget to help yourselves to Sponge Candy. I feel quite certain that anything that light cannot possibly have any calories. In fact, I’m pretty sure it has negative calories 🙂
69 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #137 – Dandelion Wishes (PB)”
I'll bet you wowed all the attendees, Susanna, despite your self-effacing remarks! That chocolate sounds awesome…I'll have to try and get my hands on them. 🙂
Katey's book idea sounds delightful. I am most enamored by the title and would read it based on that plus the fact that it's about the changing seasons. I would suggest rewording it somehow. The first sentence made me think that it would be a book about fairies or something with actual magic, but then it sounds more like narrative nonfiction so I was a bit confused. Best of luck with this story, Katey!
Sponge candy is a weird experience, but certainly unique! So glad your presentation went well (the audience looks completely engaged!). Speaking of conferences, I get to meet Katey in a few weeks at the NJ one! Yay! As for the pitch- I can tell there will be lovely writing, but it's a bit too mysterious right now to really get a handle on what to expect. Open that pitch up a little more and share the core of the story.
I'm glad you survived your conference without resorting to smelling salts, Susanna. I'm sure the group felt lucky to have you present – and learned a ton!
So happy to be able to share my story pitch and get feedback here, Susanna! It's such a great opportunity for writers. Thanks to Laurie and Teresa for their input so far. I'll keep checking in all day to see what others have to say.
Laurie – thank you for the feedback. Looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks! I'm so excited about my 1st conference – and plan to learn all I can about pitches, queries, and all that jazz = as well as make some new friends.
Thanks so much for the feedback, Teresa. I'm starting to find that writing a pitch or synopsis is as hard -or harder- than writing the book itself! So glad to have forums like this to learn from!
I am interested in the negative calorie idea, Susanna! I went on vacation and then to Highlights and there was plentiful good food at both. 🙂
Love, love your title, Katey! The lyrical feeling in the pitch pulled me in but I can't tell if this is a book about real or metaphorical magic and I'm guessing an agent/editor would want to know that. I can't even discern if Gia is human or animal by the reference to living on a hill (but not a house?). Good luck!
Thanks for the feedback, Wendy! I really appreciate it!
We knew you could do it, Susanna! Congrats…I've experienced that sinking feeling many times…but it usually gets better as you get into your topic and your audience. 🙂
Katie…I thought your name looked familiar. 🙂 I hope my thoughts on your rhyming story were helpful. 🙂 I'm so glad you came to Susanna's Would You Read It Wednesday…it's such a great opportunity to get valuable feedback on pitches…which, as you mentioned, are so important…sometimes it's helpful to write your pitch BEFORE you write your story…it really helps you see exactly what you want to say in the story and where the story is headed. 🙂
I love this story…but I'm not sure if it is a story about how the seasons change the landscape or a story about some actual magical happenings or both. 🙂 Either would make a beautiful tale…the title really grabs me. 🙂
Whichever it is, here's an idea to tighten it a bit:
The Pitch: Gia has everything she needs on the hill above the trees: her mom, her magic and all that she could wish for. When sunny
skies turn grey and fields of dandelion wishballs disappear, Gia fears the magic has gone from her hill and her heart so she (what does she do?) until something beautiful (can you give us a hint as to what happens?)
happens to remind her that what she always wished for was there all the time.
Hope this is helpful, Kathy…it sounds like a lovely story. 🙂
Vivian – thank you! I greatly appreciate the positive thoughts and detailed feedback. You are a wonder!
Thanks for your feedback on my rhyming story as well! Responding to your email is actually next on my list this morning! I write/work 3 days a week and try not to look at my work the other days – so my kids actually get my attention!
If I tweak the pitch a bit based on feedback, I am leaning to something more like this:
4 year-old Gia and her mother marvel in the changing seasons from their house on a hilltop until dandelion wishes disappear, and with them Gia’s sense of magic. She finds it again in her first experience of snow. A lyrical, share-able picture book manuscript at 578 words, Dandelion Wishes celebrates the everyday magic of nature and family.
You did it! And you got chocolate. That's a win~win!
I heard from at least one person who was THERE, Susanna, that you did FABULOUS. And I'm sure he wasn't lying 🙂 And that sponge candy sounds wonderful.
And I agree with the others – LOVED the title, but got a bit lost in the pitch itself. Pretty sure you could completely lose the first sentence and still be good. Is the magic in the dandelion wishballs? That's my guess after reading it a couple times, but you might want to try to make that clearer.
Good luck – pitches ARE extremely tough to write!
I knew you'd survive just fine Susanna, and I'm sure those that attended your class found you both insightful and inspiring. I love that today's chocolate treat comes in both milk and dark chocolate versions so as to satisfy everyone's sweet tooth.
Katey, in looking at your original pitch, above, I tried to think like an editor/agent. If I were them, based on this pitch, my answer would probably be no, I wouldn't read it. As other have mentioned I also got confused on the type of character (I was thinking animal but wasn't for sure) and I didn't really understand the heart of the story from what I first read, even after reading through it a few times. Remember, an editor/agent has a HUGE stack of pitches and queries on there desk so if something doesn't grab their attention immediately, they'll likely move on. They aren't going to re-read it several times to try and figure out what you're getting at.
I also agree with others that you've got a fabulous title and in seeing how you've already taken some suggestions and re-worked your pitch in your reply to Vivian's comment I think you're well on your way! With the clarification you've added I'd now say YES I'd read it! And I think editors/agents would too!
Good job on taking advantage of the advice of others. That's why I love that Susanna does this every Wednesday, there's always so much for all of us to learn as both readers and pitchers.
Thanks, Joanne! Really appreciate the feedback. I'm soaking ot all up and working it in!
Kimberly, thanks for taking the time to really look the pitch over and read the previous comments! I am just getting started with submitting work to agents/editors and all this feedback is extremely helpful! SO glad you like my ideas, too.
Thanks so much for sharing your workshop on your blog for all of us! We all knew you would charm your students. You do have a wonderful daughter to help with the power point. Loved your photos.
Katey, I would not read this because you have not hooked me. Maybe starting with the second sentence would help but usually agents and publishers want the hook in the first sentence and then something about the word count and substance of the book in the second sentence. And don't be afraid to tell the ending. Leaving it under stated is a no no. Go ahead and say it. Even if you like the way you have led up to the surprise. You can always say it is a surprise ending.
Any way, I hope you like brutal feedback like what I gave and that I didn't hurt your feelings. I hope I helped. I have a post on my blog about hooking 'them' in the first sentence from guest blogger Margot Finke who also is a picture book critiquer as is Susanna Hill our host. Maybe it will help. Take good care and good luck. 🙂
No hurt feelings at all – this is why I put the pitch up here. I'm very new to submitting and need all the feedback I can get! I'll certainly pop over to your blog to get more tips! Thank you!
I updated the pitch based on comments from Vivian K, yourself, and the others below. I'll put the newer version in the next comment. Feel free to let me know if it's better or not!
OK, so you don't all have to go thru every comment in the thread, here's an updated pitch based on the group's feedback. (BTW, you are all awesome!)
4 year-old Gia and her mother marvel in the changing seasons from their house on the hilltop until dandelion wishes disappear, and with them Gia’s sense of magic. She finds it again in her first experience of snow. A lyrical, share-able picture book at 578 words, Dandelion Wishes celebrates the everyday magic of nature and family.
Hi Kathryn, I'm late to this discussion, but I like you new pitch better than the first one. But I still don't get a sense of what Gia does after she loses her sense of magic. Does she go in search of magic? Does she try to make flowers grow in the fall? I think it's an important thing for Gia to learn she has no control over the seasons, but what does she actively do to try to find magic again before she figures this out and discovers that winter (in some places :D) has its own magic? For me to want to read this, I'd like to feel Gia's distress and see how she tries to find the magic again. Good luck with this!
Jill, thanks for the additional thoughts. I hadn't really considered including that part – the struggle – in the pitch. But you are absolutely right; I should try to work it in. The process continues!
Can I just say how incredibly helpful this is? I am trying to form a writers critique group now, and can only hope to get as much from our meetings as I have from this group today! Susanna – this is a fabulous concept!
Hi Susanna, How sweet that your daughter, Katie assisted you with your first power point. There are many times when my students teach me more about technology, than I can. Always amazing. You always delight me with your sweet chocolate treats.
Hi Katey, The title of your book, Dandelion Wishes, catches my attention. I find the two characters, Gia and her Mom intriquing. The setting sounds delightful as it sounds like the story evolves throught the seasons. As I always say, I continue to learn and grow everyday, as a children's pb *writer-in-process.* So, my simple feedback is just that. Looks like the expert thoughts, already shared by others, is providing you with tips and ideas to be the best that you can be. All the best to you and your creative writing.
Congrats on the successful presentation, Susanna. Isn't it great having kids who can help with power point presentations?
Katey, I think I agree with Julie R-Z that the book feels quiet from the pitch, and that the conflict may need to be clarified or bolstered. Then I saw your reworked pitch about halfway through the comments, and that one struck me as much more intriguing — the storyline seemed a bit more focused on finding the magic.
I think this reply has a solid pitch in it too!
Thank you, Patricia! I appreciate getting your feedback to improve my pitch.
Good for you,Susanna. I had no doubt you would be great. I also saw the reworked pitch in the comments and agree with the last commenter. I like the new pitch and I would definitely read this. I think it sounds very sweet.
Thanks, Rosi! It's great to get so much encouragement!
Susanna, your amnesia blur reminded me of the day I got married. Walking up the aisle was literally a blur! lol And yay for you and Katie! I'm SURE everything was fantastic and your audience looked pretty sincerely captivated to me! 🙂 Glad you're home safe.
And, hi, Katey 🙂 First—love that title. It brought me right back to childhood. Such fun blowing on dandelions and watching the wish made float along over the grass 🙂 I read through the comments and also thought Vivian's rewording sounded more coherent, along with her suggestions because, although it sounds like you have the makings of a good book, I found the pitch confusing, so chances are so would an agent or editor. Good luck with it!
And, um…ahem…Susanna, excuse me, but…the chocolate? You had a whole big box! You couldn't share it with the room?! 😉
Thank you for your kind confidence in my presentation and for your helpful comments for Katey, Donna! And as for the chocolate, ahem, I only got 7 or 8 pieces. The white box underneath did not have chocolate – it was two beautiful glass tumblers with the Buffalo Lighthouse etched on them. Sorry to mislead you… I promise I ate all that chocolate lickety split 🙂
Thank you, Rosi – you're very kind to have such confidence in me – I so appreciate it 🙂 And thank you for your comments for Katey! 🙂
Thank you, Patricia – and it certainly is great! I could have hacked my way through it myself, but it would have taken me 10 times as long and looked a 100th as good! 🙂 Thanks so much for your comments for Katey 🙂
It's horrifying, isn't it Coleen? I know I was up there talking for hours, but I can barely remember any of it! 🙂 Thanks for your enthusiasm for Katey – I'm sure she'll be thrilled!
Oh, gosh, Julie! You're so sweet! You can be my announcer anytime 🙂 Thanks so much for your very helpful comments for Katey!
Hi Suzy – I admit I was VERY grateful for Katie's help! All of my kids are so much more advanced with technology than I am. It looks so simple when they do it… sigh… 🙂 Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments for Katey!
Thanks for being so helpful to Katey, Jill! 🙂
I'm glad you're finding it helpful, Katey. All the credit goes to the wonderful people who come over and chime in – they are knowledgable, helpful, and generous and WYRI wouldn't work without them!
I love that you're already reworking your pitch, Katey 🙂
Thanks for your help and insights for Katey, Clar. I have not heard that word count should be included in a pitch – that is a new one to me! And I'm glad you enjoyed the workshop photos, and I so appreciate that you believed I could do it!
Well, Kimberly, you know I aim to please in the chocolate department 🙂 And thank you for having faith in me when I didn't have any in myself 🙂 Thanks so much for your very thoughtful, in-depth comments for Katey – I know she appreciates them. And I'm glad you enjoy WYRI. I am always so grateful for everyone who comes over and makes it what it is!
Oh, wow, Joanne! That really means a lot to me that someone who was there was really pleased! There were only 3 men… so I guess it had to be one of them 🙂 Thank you so much for your helpful comments for Katey!
So true! It's all good and I'm happy! 🙂
Thank you for your confidence in me, Vivian! I certainly was not at all sure I could do it, but luckily somehow I did 🙂 I can't imagine you being scared of anything! You always look and sound so poised in your videos! And thank you so much for your helpful and detailed feedback for Katey, including that nice re-working of her pitch!
I am very interested in the negative calorie idea, Wendy. I believe it's an idea whose time has come and I would like some scientists to get right on it! Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Katey!
I'm glad I survived too! 🙂 I don't know if the group felt lucky, but they were kind enough not to throw rotten tomatoes at me or anything 🙂 I'm glad you're getting a chance to share your pitch today, and I know our wonderful readers will be very helpful – they are the best!
Totally! The sponge candy did take me by surprise. But it involved chocolate so I quickly found everything to be perfection 🙂 And you're going to NJSCBWI? ME TOO!!! I will get to meet you and Katey! What fun!!! 🙂
Supposedly, those chocolates are only made in Buffalo, Teresa, and only at certain times of year because they won't work when it's too humid or something. Quite the specialty! Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Katey!
hehe, Susanna. My s key has been sticking – it was actually a female. And, to be honest, even if you asked, I can't remember who said it. But I DO remember it was about you 🙂
OK…I guess you're forgiven *sigh*
And the tumblers sound very nice 🙂 If you don't want to drink from them, I bet they'd look beautiful with candles inside. After all, they're lighthouses 😉
Susanna, I'm sure your workshop attendees had a wonderful time and didn't fake their enjoyment at all 🙂
And I enjoyed the rewording for the pitch. I'm a yes for reading it.
You're very kind, Angela 🙂 And thanks for your thoughts for Katey 🙂
Ah! So true! Lovely idea 🙂 Although I am a devoted water drinker and they'd work well for that too 🙂