Would You Read It Wednesday #199 -The Race Against Sleep (PB)

So, big news on Blueberry Hill… I took Princess Blue Kitty for a bath!

I know!  Practically unprecedented!

You all remember Princess Blue, right?  My trusty Subaru Outback who carries me valiantly hither and yon, up and down the eastern seaboard and beyond on my various wanderings?  Well, sad to say, she got extremely coated with salt when I took her to Vermont last week.  You couldn’t even tell she was blue anymore 😦  Normally I would wait for a good rainstorm or a high wind to remedy the situation, but she looked so pathetic even I couldn’t take it.  So down the road we went for a proper bath at the car wash.  And even though cats do not like water, Princess Blue Kitty was grateful.  I can tell.  I have a sixth sense about these things.  I’m like a car whisperer… she just speaks to me 🙂

I’m guessing a lot of you have cars suffering the same fate, due to the recent heavy snows.  So take it from me (remember, I’m a car whisperer) that your cars too will be grateful to be relieved of their coats of salt!

And now that we’re done with that public service announcement, how about Something Chocolate?  You just really can’t go wrong with a dessert breakfast called Fat Witch Bakery’s Legendary Chocolate Caramel Brownies! 🙂


Caramel Chocolate Brownie Bite! Recipe HERE at DinnerThenDessert http://dinnerthendessert.com/fat-witch-bakerys-legendary-chocolate-caramel-brownies/

It’s okay if you’re drooling on your keyboard.  That’s what they make paper towel for 🙂

Today’s pitch comes to us from Ashley who says, “My name is Ashley Franklin, and I began my picture book journey just a year ago. I’m an online teacher by day and a writer by night; oh, let’s not forget about the frosted layer of motherhood plastered on top.”

You can follow her blog at http://transego.wordpress.com/ and follow her on twitter @DifferentAshley

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Race Against Sleep

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)

The Pitch: Bill is the fastest runner this side of the Mississippi, but can he outrun Sleep? THE RACE AGAINST SLEEP is a 400 word picture book story for children ages 4-8 that introduces them to a boastful boy, Bill, who can outrun anyone—or so he thinks. Bill races against Sleep across a picturesque, Southern landscape in an attempt to keep his title, but he finds out that even champions need their rest.

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 Ashley 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 Would You Read It in the drop-down under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings at the end of February (seriously! I have slightly dropped the ball in letting people know there are upcoming openings in the calendar!) so you could get a space quite soon for feedback on your pitch and a chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Ashley is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to vacuuming Princess Blue so that her inside is as clean as her outside.



Actually I’m not.

That’s a flat out lie 🙂  You all know how I feel about vacuuming… 🙂  But it’s the sentiment that counts, right?  I want Blue Kitty to be clean inside, so that’s all that matters 🙂


Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!

35 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #199 -The Race Against Sleep (PB)

  1. Wendy says:

    Susanna, you piqued my interest enough to click through the recipe and it starts with FOURTEEN tablespoons of butter. Oh. My. The breakfast of champions.
    Ashley, I like the pitch! Especially the reference to the southern landscape. Well done!

  2. kathalsey says:

    Princess Blue Kitty is BLUE again, yay, Susanna. I hope I have transitoned to the new blog. Can you check in some way? I like the novel concept of outrunning sleep, a new twist on the bedtime story. I would read it, however, I’d like a glimpse of some of the obstacles the Southern landscape offers to amp up the stakes a bit.

  3. jeanjames926 says:

    Those brownies look irresistible, I think a trip to Fat Witch Bakery is in my very near future! As for Ashley’s pitch, yes I would read it, and I really liked the pitch. Ahhh if only we could outrun sleep…

    • transego says:

      Thank you so much for your feedback. I’m glad that you like it. I haven’t been doing this too long, so it’s good to hear that I may be on the right track with a few things.

      I’m torn between wanting to outrun sleep and gleefully letting it catch me on some nights.


  4. Jen Bagan says:

    Adorable concept – I’d definitely read it! I think you can probably leave out most of the second line though, since telling us the word count and appropriate age sort of takes us out of the pitch itself. Great job!

    • transego says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Jen! Is there a better, more appropriate place for that information to go? I honestly have no idea. (smile)

      • Jen Bagan says:

        Well, I’m certainly no expert – I’ve been doing this about as long as you have 🙂 However, I’ve checked in on these pitch picks regularly and from other things I’ve read they say to keep your pitch as short as possible. I think the word count etc. goes further down in the actual query letter but doesn’t need to be front and center in the pitch itself (because you want to draw the agent/editor in immediately to the action of the story.) If anyone disagrees then please chime in because I’d love to hear too!

  5. Pamela Brunskill says:

    Susanna, Love the new blog! Ashley, I would read your book. I’m wondering wondering why the landscape description is important to the pitch–what is it about the picturesque southern setting that is essential to your story? I like the play on words and how you can’t outrun Sleep. Comp title could be Dinosaur vs. Bedtime. Good luck with it!

  6. Michelle O'Hara Levin says:

    I would read it for sure. I think the “Hook,” the first line, is excellent. I agree that you don’t need the word count, if you want us to know that it’s fast paced or something, that’d be good to hear but the word count will be in the actual manuscript. Cannot wait to hear more!

  7. Gabi Snyder says:

    Susanna, I am drooling over those caramel brownie. Decadent!

    Ashley, I would definitely read your story. I like the image of a boastful boy trying to outrun sleep. It sounds fun and I imagine there’d be great opportunities for the illustrator.

    This is nitpicky, but I wondered which side of the Mississippi Bill was on. I’m guessing West, but maybe you could just replace “this side” with “West” to make it crystal clear. That way, I’ll also know whether to picture the Southwest or the Southeast.

    I’m also wondering if there’s a way you can tweak the last line so that you don’t give away the ending, but only hint at it. I’m assuming that the conflict also centers around Bill’s boastfulness and that this adventure changes him in some way. Could your final line hint at that change in some way? I’m thinking it’s more than just realizing he needs his sleep.

    Best of luck with this super fun story!

    • transego says:

      Thanks for your feedback, Gabi! You know what’s funny? I hadn’t actually thought of which side of the Mississippi. I live in Louisiana, but I’m always hopping over to Mississippi or Arkansas. It looks like I’m a Mississippi River straddler (gasp). That’s something to consider.

      Also, good point about the ending.


  8. ptnozell says:

    Ashley, I love the concept of your story – a child trying to outrun, i.e., fight off, sleep. I have to say that I’d only maybe read it, though, because the pitch doesn’t really draw me in. Bill is boastful – how? Why? When I think about outrunning Sleep, I think of Sleep as a character. What is Sleep like? What does she/he do? Can you give an example or two of how Sleep outruns/out-thinks/out-maneuvers Bill?

    I’d also rework the “chase” scene “across a picturesque Southern landscape”. Unless you are an illustrator, too, is there anything that hinges on this setting? I’d like to learn more about what happens during the race. Does Sleep have allies who help – the Sandman in a sand trap, for instance, or a field of sheep that need counting?

    I look forward to reading your revised pitch & your story, too. This will be a great bedtime story.

    Susanna, I hope Miss Kitty is happier now that she is clean! And banish the thought of vacuuming, too – with all the grit & salt covering the northeast, why do it now when you can put it off until May or even June.

    • transego says:

      Thank you for taking the time to offer such a detailed comment! Sleep is definitely a character in the story, so perhaps adding a bit of character description for Sleep would help.

      Do you think picturesque is too much? The story heavily features the characters interacting with the setting, so things like magnolias, cypress swamps, etc. are important. (It’s a long race, lol.) I was trying to capture that without giving too much away.


      • ptnozell says:

        Ashley, you definitely helped clarify why you highlighted the setting. I agree that you don’t want to give too much away, but by the same token, it would be helpful to understand the role that the terrain, plants, etc. play. Perhaps “challenging” would encompass it?

  9. Joanne Roberts (@BookishAmbition) says:

    Your pitch intrigued me enough for a “yes.” Nicely done. I love the unusual idea of racing Sleep and the inevitability of the outcome. Young readers will probably relate to Bill, hoping he can indeed avoid bedtime! I think the setting will add a fun additional dimension to your story. Your pitch is short and concise, excellent qualities, but I’m not sure it evokes voice. A few more details will set the tone and communicate your style to the editor.
    “Boastful” doesn’t tell us if Bill is justified or not in his bragging. Assuming he is, show don’t tell to let us connect with him. Mira Reisberg suggests avoiding questions when possible. We usually use them to make the reader curious. Are there examples of his fleet feet in the story which will make us just as curious?
    Maybe start the pitch with “Bill, fastest runner this side of the Mississippi, runs like hot-buttered lightning. (or whatever = voice) He can run faster than (detail from the story). But when Sleep challenges Bill to a race . . .” Now I am curious if he will be able to outrun Sleep without you asking. Does that make sense?
    I rather like your last line, though you may want to consider adding something positive that Bill does not just what he learns. I hope something here helps as you tweak your pitch.

  10. julie rowan zoch says:

    I’d read it, if I could after eating one of those brownies! Did Wendy say 14 TBS butter?
    I agree with Patricia/PTNozell, in that I would like to know more about the ‘other’ mc and what the escapades are. Good luck!

  11. Stacy Couch says:

    I think you have a wonderful concept. The idea about outrunning sleep is adorable. I might focus on the characters and the stakes, add a little of the character’s voice to the pitch.

    You also asked about where to put details like age range and word count. Usually they go in the paragraph before or after the pitch. I also found this great post about pitches here: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/mondays-with-mandy-or-mira/plotting-your-picture-book-by-writing-your-pitch-first

  12. hethfeth says:

    Yes, I’d read it. This is a solid pitch. The concept seems fresh, and I can’t find anything to improve in the way you’ve phrased things. But I find that I do wonder about two things: 1) what voice and/or tone the story will have (funny, whimsical, dreamy, etc), and 2) whether Bill encounters any other characters along his journey. It might get a little dull out there…just Bill and…sleep. Is “sleep” like a character in the story? Is it meant to be personified? How will it be represented in the artwork? I like the pitch a lot, but these questions did arise.

    • transego says:

      Great questions! The story is whimsical, as Bill is actually chasing Sleep, a personified character. Bill interacts with the crowd and setting (think the perils of running through a swamp), so there’s some action there.

      Thanks again for the feedback!


  13. heylookawriterfellow says:

    As for me, I am a car yeller. As in “COME ON, DANGIT! START!”

    The pitch intrigues me, but I’d like to get a better sense of the story beats — and the illustration potential. Is sleep manifested in some kind of physical form? Does sleep challenge the boastful Bill a la Tortoise and the Hare? Does Bill set up hurdles for sleep, such as sugar or caffeine-filled sodas?

  14. setwiggs says:

    Your idea is intriguing. I want to carve away extra words and get to the meat of the story. Here’s a possibility:
    The Pitch: Bill is the fastest runner this side of the Mississippi.When he races against Sleep he discovers something new.
    You can put the extra information-word count, southern landscape in another sentence but i would keep the pitch simple with a bit of mystery.

  15. Noel Csermak says:

    Ashley, the answer is YES! With only a year of PB experience under your belt, you have done very well to write a concise and intriguing pitch. Makes me think of THE PUMPKIN RUNNER, by Marsha Dianne Arnold and all of the different landscape possibilities you could cover. Best of luck with your manuscript.

  16. jdewdropsofink says:

    I don’t have enough paper towels to keep up with those brownies. Yum. Need some ice cream now. I can’t add much to the pitch. Love the idea and I would read it. Good luck with it.

  17. viviankirkfield says:

    Coming late to the party, but I didn’t want to miss telling Ashley that I LOVE this story! I’ve seen her pitch fix in today’s pitch contest and she’s done a super job of revising it. This is going to be a super picture book!

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