Would You Read It Wednesday #158 – Hoot And Holly (PB) PLUS The November Pitch Pick Winner!

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

I hope you are all in fine fettle!

(I don’t actually know what fettle is… it sounds like kettle, so maybe it means you’re well stoked up on tea… though hopefully not so much so that you have that sloshy feeling, the technical term for which – according to me and my best friend in 6th grade – is “joggling” 🙂  But it also sounds like fete, so maybe it means you’re partying.  Partying or tea-a-plenty, either option seems good on a cold January day :))

Whatever condition your fettle is in I’m glad you’re here 🙂

(That sounds like it should either be a line from a Broadway show tune, or the end of a Mr. Rogers song, don’t you think?  We should work on that… :))

Anyhoo . . . Let’s get on with our regularly scheduled programming, shall we?

First off, I’m happy to announce that the winner of the November Pitch Pick (in an exceptionally tight race, I might add – very, very close this month!) is Heather with her pitch for Hubert’s Dreadful Allergies!  Wahoo!  Congratulations, Heather!  Your pitch has already been sent to Erin Molta for her thoughts, and I’m sure you’ll hear from her soon.

And congratulations as always to ALL our pitchers for bravely putting themselves out there and sharing truly fabulous pitches!  Is it just me, or do you all agree that the overall quality of the pitches has steadily improved since the early days of Would You Read It?  Seriously, I think everyone does such a good job!

Phew!  After all that excitement, I think we need . . .

Something Chocolate!!!

Today’s Something Chocolate is not so much chocolate as Something Caramel – although you could (and should!) quickly remedy that with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce 🙂  But I thought we should go healthy this morning, what with it being January and a time for new beginnings and all… 🙂

Recipe HERE


Now that we’re all full of healthy apples (and possibly slightly less healthy caramel, and hopefully also a healthy dose of hot fudge sauce :)) let’s get right down to WYRI!

Today’s pitch comes to us from Michele who says, I can’t promise that a long time policy work and public relations professional can succeed in the world of picture book making. But I can promise that she will try!”

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Hoot And Holly
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: When Holly finds the orphaned owlet Hoot in a windswept field near home, she knows he won’t survive without her help. Together, Hoot and Holly forge an unlikely friendship as Holly cares for the baby owl until he can care for himself. Hoot & Holly is a story about growing up and saying goodbye. It blends the emotion of an Alison McGhee story with the sweet fun of impossible friend stories like Sophie’s SquashPeep, and Fly Away Home (film). Like Flora & UlyssesHoot & Holly celebrates the special bond between humans and animals. It’s a love story with a realistic end that will resonate with people of all ages.

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 Michele 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 June, 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!

Michele is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  Phyllis and I are off to an author visit today, so I am looking forward to that!  And Phyllis wants you all to know, in case you are wondering, that she is in VERY fine fettle! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! 🙂

♫ ♫ ♫ la-la-la-la-la-la-la whatever condition your fettle is in I’m glad you’re here! ♫ ♫

P.S.  This just in!  Important Hare-Brained Scheme Announcement in a special edition blog post tomorrow!!! 🙂

67 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #158 – Hoot And Holly (PB) PLUS The November Pitch Pick Winner!

  1. dkhower says:

    Yes, I would read this. I am a sucker for animal, especially those in need of human help. The pitch is clear but feels long to me. My interest dropped off at the comparisons. Maybe dropping the comparisons and finding one little unique thing that makes your story different would strengthen it. You mention friendship and a love story which seems redundant and could confuse an editor so consider cutting one. I also think this pitch could be used as is and ended after the word good-bye. Good luck and I will be looking forward to it in my future reading!

  2. Michele Norman says:

    Thanks Nancy – great advice! I Like the idea of narrowing the comparisons and highlighting what makes the story unique. It's the ending – the goodbye is really a goodbye!

  3. Michele Norman says:

    Thanks for the suggestions – super helpful. The challenge to choose either friendship or love in the pitch is a great one. The story emerged from the bittersweet emotion of a parent nurturing a child then letting go…an unavoidable happy/sad. You've got me thinking – thank you!

  4. Randi says:

    Yes, I would definitely read this. You have a strong pitch that captures the essence of the story and also showcases your writing talent. I agree with the other commenters about cutting down the number of comparisons. Good luck!

  5. Robyn Campbell says:

    That posted before I was ready. An agent said if you're going to compare then show what's different too. Good luck with this.

    Sus, fettle is a great word. I think it means how your state of mind is. So my fettle is good as long as I have horses, chocolate and writing.

  6. Teresa Robeson says:

    Mmmmm…apples…waitaminit…. 😀

    Michelle's pitch is pretty awesome! Wow, we're starting the new year off right. Last week and this week's pitches are so good, I am not going to be able to vote come the end of the month. I see others have already mentioned cutting down the number of comparisons so I don't have to. I'm also not as crazy about that last line. Other than that, it is a great pitch for a terrific sounding story! Love that title, too.

  7. Kirsten Larson says:

    I would definitely read your story, Michele. I would probably cut the last line, as it seems too hard-sell, and let the reader judge for him/herself. I'm not sure of this, but maybe someone else knows, should you use comp titles from a different genre? This is a PB and Flora & Ulysses is middle grade?

  8. Joanne Sher says:

    I LOVE the title, Michelle! And the story sounds great too. I'm not sold or published, but I would probably leave out all the comp titles for a pitch – I think the information you give sells it all by itself. Personally, I would only include the first two lines – but that's just me (or maybe it's other folks too – haven't read the other comments yet LOL)

  9. Michele Norman says:

    Thanks for the input Ariel – I'm thinking I'll try a blend of the two sentences and perhaps the last…you guys are making me think and I love it!

  10. Michele Norman says:

    Thanks Robyn. I will tighten and emphasize what makes my story different – it's realistic end – the good bye as equal parts triumph and heartbreak. Here I go!!!!

  11. Christie Allred says:

    YES! I would read it. I think you've got a great pitch here, but I agree with the others about cutting down on the comparisons and not needing the last line. I can't wait to see this in the book store 🙂

  12. Michele Norman says:

    Thanks Joanne – you may not be sold or published but I know how hard you work and study! Your advice is always spot on! Appreciate the insight!

  13. Joanne Sher says:

    And I didn't even realize it was you until I read the comments below – after I commented. I thought the title sounded familiar. 🙂

  14. pennyklostermann says:

    Thanks for the treat! I'm having it for dessert after lunch!

    I would read! Love this idea. I'm with the many others as far as the last sentence. Cut it. And I don't think you should mention the Fly Away Home (film) or Flora and Ulysses due to genre differences. The title is all kinds of cute 🙂 I've been wanting to write an owl story for soooo long. Maybe your pitch will get me digging for ideas.

  15. Donna L Sadd says:

    Can't wait to read about your hair-brained scheme tomorrow, Susanna. I don't know what it is, but I'm in! ;0)

    Michele, I would certainly read your story, but it sounded familiar to me as well just can't recall why. I'd drop the last two lines. I'm an animal lunatic and already see me crying hysterically over your story. :0)

  16. Wendy says:

    A fine fettle would be in the making if that apple dessert would leap off the screen to me. (Need lunch!)
    I'm a maybe. Love the title. But I wasn't sure why the friendship in the story is “unlikely.” Most animals (and I would think esp. an orphaned animal) bond with their caretakers. I guess I wanted to know what is different in this relationship, or in the telling of it.

  17. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Waiting with bated breath for the Hare-Brained Scheme Announcement tomorrow. 🙂
    The apple dessert is right up my alley…I will enjoy it with a cup of tea. 🙂
    Michele, I love your story concept and love the title…just to let you know, there is a 2001 picture book out there called Hoot and Holler by Alan Brown…when I saw Hoot and Holly, I thought of it immediately…it's about two owls who love each other but don't voice their feelings.
    I would definitely read your story…but I agree with the others that the pitch could do with some tightening. I think a lot of what you wrote would be perfect in a cover letter that would accompany your manuscript to an editor or agent. But the pitch, as I know it, is the hook, the 50 words or so that distills the theme/takeaway and gives us a tease of what we will find in the story. Here's an idea (but I don't like my last line):

    knows the orphaned owlet she found won’t survive without her help. She (name 2 or 3 thinks she does, like feeds him ground bugs, covers him with her favorite blanket, etc). When (does something happen to threaten Hoot or Holly?), Holly (or Hoot) must (what she/he do). Growing up may result in their separation, but their bond of friendship will never be broken.

  18. Michele Norman says:

    I will never cease to be amazed that no matter how much research you do, there is always a book with a similar title or something hiding just beyond your sight! Thanks for mentioning the book and for your suggestions!

  19. Michele Norman says:

    Hahaha Donna! If you smile as you cry I would be delighted – that's the complex emotion I hope the story conveys. Thanks for the comment – you guys are giving me lots to consider!

  20. Michele Norman says:

    Thanks Penny! It's so great when there is a consensus of comments…the comparison segment of the pitch will be stronger based on all the terrific feedback provided here! Good luck with your pursuit of a owl story – they are pretty amazing creatures!

  21. Stacy Couch says:

    Susanna, thank you for the new word today! I'd totally forgotten what “party” means.
    Michele, you have an adorable story on your hands. I love the idea of stating the twist, what makes your story different. And I agree with trimming the comparisons to one or two books.
    I'd love to hear more about whether comparisons should stick to one genre.

  22. Maria Marshall says:

    Michele, I would definitely reed this PB! I love animal stories. I agree that I wouldn't mention a movie & a MG as a PB comparison. Also, I have not seen comparisons as part of a pitch before. They are usually in the longer body of the query letter. i would leave them out of the pitch. I agree with Vivian that a pitch it is usually shorter and that you don't tell us that “It blends the emotion of… celebrates the special bond between humans and animals ..& is a love story with a realistic end that will resonate with people of all ages.” Show us, entice us to read the manuscript.

    Here's a possible start – Holly knows the orphaned owlet Hoot she found won’t survive without her help. Holly (one or two things she does to help Hoot – feeds him, etc) Together, Hoot and Holly forge an unlikely friendship as they grow up together and face (struggle, challenge they overcome, etc), ultimate learning how to say goodbye.

  23. Heather Kinser says:

    Michele, your first four sentences are excellent. In particular the first sentence showcases your writing style. I think you need to omit any references to books that are not picture books. In fact, I think all the references to comparable books would go into the second paragraph in your query letter. Within the first paragraph, I would advise you to add a sentence or two that details something unique, funny, or touching that happens in your story. Your pitch paragraph it has a strong start!

  24. Rosi says:

    I think this sounds like a sweet story. I think there are too many comparisons in the query. I wouldn't include a movie. I would definitely read this.

  25. Michele Norman says:

    Thank you for your feedback Heather. I so appreciate all the great insight the group has provided today — so incredibly helpful. I'm looking forward to revising my pitch so the entirety of it is as strong as the first sentence. Many thanks!

  26. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I'm so glad you're enjoying the apple dessert, Vivian – it would be perfect with a nice cup of tea! 🙂 And thank you so much for your very helpful comments for Michele and your possible pitch rewording! See you tomorrow… 🙂

  27. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    Yeah, I know, Teresa… It was a moment of weakness when I thought, hey, we should try to be healthy! But I believe chocolate is actually a requirement of good health, so I'll knock off the fruit and get back to the good stuff next week 🙂 Thanks so much for chiming in for Michele!

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