Would You Read It Wednesday #224 – Heidi Seek (MG) (or YA?)

Happy September-Back-To-School-Back-To-Blogging, my friends!

I missed you all during August, but my goodness! where did that month go?!  I feel like it just vanished in the blink of an eye – like we skipped straight from July to September!

But here we are.

There’s something about September that always feels like New Year’s to me – almost more so than January 1.  It’s that whole back to school thing… first for ourselves… all those years from Kindergarten through graduate school 🙂 … and then for our children…and for those of us who have them, grandchildren.  (And for those of us who are teachers, it comes with the job description 🙂 )  It has that same new start feel, full of possibility!

Who knows what awesomeness we will all accomplish in the coming months?! 🙂

Meanwhile, what’s the consensus?  How many of you are feeling bittersweet and poignant over your kids going back to school, or going to school for the first time, and how many of you are doing the dance of joy to have the little darlings out from underfoot for a few hours a day? 🙂

I offer you consolation or celebration in the form of Something Chocolate!  Given the heat this week, I think our Something Chocolate should be Something Ice Cold And Refreshing!  How about Frozen Hot Chocolate?  And not just ANY frozen hot chocolate, the one that claims to be the BEST! 🙂


Lip-smackin’ brain-freezing good! 🙂

I had grand plans of posting the June and July pitch picks today, but my internet has been extremely uncooperative.  It took so long for it to decide to work that I’m lucky I’m getting anything up today, never mind extras.  So… next week?

Meantime, we’ll get right onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Jeanna who says, “I’m a homemaker and I write romance and picture books – but not romantic picture books! My Twitter for anyone who’d like to keep up with my many ramblings is: http://mobile.twitter.com/JeannaLStars

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Heidi Seek (or possibly or possibly Heidi Sikh as I’m thinking of making my MC a young Asian girl)

Age/Genre: MG… or YA… or even PB?

The Pitch: If it’s lost, she’ll find it. Her parents first discovered her talent for hide & seek during an ultrasound, when she gave them – and the midwife – quite a fright! Now 12 year old Heidi Singh’s life revolves around finding lost keys, missing cats and trying not to lose friendships. When one half of an identical twin pop duo disappears, Heidi finds herself pulled into a mystery so complex, she has to look deep within herself for answers – or SHE might be next to get lost.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

Special note:  Jeanna is on the fence about her title (see above) and on the fence about whether the book would work best as MG or YA.  She has even considered a simpler/funnier version as a PB.  She would love your input on this issue: MG, YA or PB?

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 Jeanna 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 dropdown under For Writers in the bar above.  There are openings in October, so you have a little time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and have a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

Jeanna is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to vacuuming.

That was a test.  If you believed me, you failed totally and completely 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


46 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #224 – Heidi Seek (MG) (or YA?)

  1. kathalsey says:

    Well that frozen hot chocolate looks like just the thing today! Welcome back Susanna. I also have questions from time to time on how to peg an ms, Jenna. I love the premise & plot of this book. They seem solidly MG to me. Also if yo look at the subplots, they appeal more to MG kids. I taught 3-7 grades for many years & I can envision this flying off the shelves. And a PB has one single plot and yours has a few, which is fine. Not YA, issues/conflicts don’t fit IMHO. I LKE the title the way it is, quid clever and MG kids will appreciate the humor. If you changed it to Sikh, you’d add one more element/conflict & I feel you have enough subplots now. Also, you need to be very clear w/yourself about why throw in the Asian element. It needs to be there because Heidi being Asian is important to the plot. Good luck w/this – I’d read it.

  2. ptnozell says:

    Welcome back, Susanna – Wednesdays did not seem quite right these past few weeks. Happy to be reading a pitch again. Jenna, yes, I’d read it. I agree with Kathy that it feels MG. If you decide to simplify, it could possibly be PB, but I think you risk loosing too much of the humor; and the ultrasound definitely would have to go. Unless you bring some special knowledge/passion about Indian culture, or to be more exact, Sikh culture, I’d not include that. India has so many cultural strands & they play out so differently depending where in the world you set the story, that I think there’s more risk than reward in including this (not to mention that Heidi seems more Alpen than Himilayan).

    I look forward to reading your revised pitch!

  3. Pam Miller says:

    Welcome home, Susanna, and I do hope you delegate the vacuuming.

    Jenna, while your story seems interesting, perhaps humorous, at first, the second part of your pitch “When one half of an identical twin pop duo disappears, Heidi finds herself pulled into a mystery so complex, she has to look deep within herself for answers – or SHE might be next to get lost.” and age of your character (12) reveals your indecision and mine. The age of the character for middle grade, if increased to 13, might be a better fit for the “mystery so complex” in the later half of your pitch.

    Will there be a current reason for the lost and found, or is it all coincidence?

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Thanks, Pam! Alas, there is literally no one to delegate the vacuuming to…except the dogs who are the cause of needing to vacuum in the first place 🙂 Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Jeanna – I know she’ll appreciate them!

  4. Bonnie Pontius Donigan says:

    Hi Jenna,

    (visiting from SubItClub).

    I think your book sounds fun, and overall this is a nice query. I would be more inclined to read it at MG than YA. (And I agree there’s a bit of confusion between if this really reads as MG or YA). Everything reads MG to me, except the “complex mystery” part. If the mystery is not actually that complex, the tone of your query seems to me to read as MG (cute, young, fun), and you might consider heading in that direction. (And I think since you’re even considering PB, this story might truly be on the younger side?)

    If you do decide to go YA, I think you need to up the stakes a bit- What does that mean “she might get lost”? Is someone kidnapping people? Is it magic? Is there a ‘bad guy’, or a bad situation that is affecting the town? The older kids will need more incentive to pick up the book. Maybe think about clarifying a few of the key components of that complex mystery that might be enticing.

    For the MCs name – if you have any personal insight into the Asian culture or growing up Asian, etc, and/or can write sensitively from a different perspective than your own, I would definitely change this character’s ethnicity and name. I think more diversity in MCs is great!

    Hopefully something in there is helpful! Good luck!

  5. Sherry Howard (@SherLHoward) says:

    Welcome back to the blogosphere! Who in their right mind would choose to vacuum?

    I think the book sounds really interesting, and definitely middle grade.

    I’m not sure how well the second sentence fits with the pitch–it feels a little separate–her hiding vs. her role now as the seeker or finder. Although that sentence is cute, I’m not sure it will appeal to the audience you’d be selling the book to. I’m not sure how many young teens want to think about in-utero experiences.

    I can almost picture your MC and her adventures from the rest of the pitch–a good thing. Your last sentence has your stakes–she might be the next to disappear–so your stakes are clear. I’m curious to know more about your book. So, yes, this pitch would make me want to read!

  6. imagineambition says:

    Sounds like it could be interesting. The part about the possibility of disappearing is intriguing. But it does sound like it’s for a younger crowd. I can’t imagine my high school students reading it.

  7. originalwonderwoman says:

    Hi all!

    Firstly, I want to say a great big THANK YOU to Susanna for featuring my pitch AND for that hot chocolate recipe – it almost made me forget why I was here!

    Secondly, thank you for all the wonderful feedback. I’m feeling a lot more confident about this idea now and will definitely be writing it as MG.

    Part of the reason why I was debating it was because it may get a little dark in places. I’m thinking that Heidi discovers a dark secret about her past, which will explain why she has this ability to find what is lost, as well as a talent for self-concealment (and will also tie-in with the ultrasound bit where she disappears).

    I’m also toying with an idea that the twin singers will be related to Heidi in some way – maybe they are her cousins, which will explain why she is involved in the disappearance of one of them. I think what I was most concerned about re the MG aspect, was whether I could add the darker elements without it being too dark.

    I would love to write Heidi as a diverse character, but I’m very wary of making her an Asian girl simply for the sake of diversity. I was planning on tying her culture, religion and family background in to the secret reveal, but again, that makes me nervous. I’m concerned about it appearing as a negative. I certainly don’t want to cause offence. If I do go with Heidi Sikh, I plan to do a LOT of research first.

    One last thing, I have other ideas for further books featuring Heidi, so, regarding the title, would you think “Heidi Seek/Sikh and the Something Something” would work, or am I thinking too much Harry Potter?

    Thank you again everyone.

    Oh, and Susanna – what’s vacuuming??? 😉

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Hahaha! You made me laugh, Jeanna! What’s vacuuming indeed! 🙂 It is my pleasure to have your pitch up – I hope you’ll get lots of helpful feedback. Thanks for expanding on your thoughts – I’m sure people will find it helpful!

  8. Gabi Snyder says:

    Welcome back, Susanna! This is the first day of school here and I’m having some very mixed emotions! And here (in Oregon) we’re starting to feel the nip of fall. I’m not ready!

    The pitch is intriguing and definitely seemed like MG to me. I’m wondering how Heidi feels about her talent for finding things. Based on the last line of the pitch, it sounds like what’s at stake for Heidi is not getting lost herself. I’m wondering (I may be overthinking this) if that means her sense of identity is so tied to finding things that when she’s faced with NOT finding someone/something, she has to question who she is. I’m not really sure if that’s where your plot is going, but I thought I’d throw it out there because that sounds intriguing to me.

    Good luck with this!

  9. davidmcmullin1 says:

    I’ve been meaning to participate here in forever, so…

    Yes. I would read it. Fun concept that has many possibilities. Just finding things is not enough for a full character, of course, but it’s an interesting place to start. I can see using this metaphor in so many directions – losing your cool, job, meaning, will, weight, yourself, mind, memory, innocence etc. It feels MG to me, but I could see older. I see possibilities for both big comedy and big drama. As far as PB, the idea of a kid being a finder of lost thing could be super cute. I can’t wait to see what direction this goes.

    By the way, no kids here, and haven’t worked in a school for over two years so this time of year is just like any other to me. (And I kind of like vacuuming)

  10. mizztamicroft says:

    As someone who knows Jeanna well I might be a bit bias, but what I can tell you is she is a very talented writer who’s helped me out of many a pickle! I think her pitch for your book was amazing and even though I am not a YA I found myself wanting to know more! So for me it is 100% YAY!! Best of luck in all you do!

  11. Patricia Tilton says:

    I read the pitch after so much good advice. I like the premise of your book and it screams MG to me — and I review a lot of MG. You can do so much more in developing the characters and plot. I like the idea of changing the title, but as you get into the story you will probably have even better ideas. I love books that include Indian tradition, which as other commented would require some research. Books/Authors you might check out are “A Time to Dance,” by Padma Venkatraman and Monika Schroder’s, “Saraswati’s Way.” Both very different, but excellent stories.

    SUSANNA — Does PPBF start this Friday or next?

  12. Susan Schade says:

    I feel like this is strong for MG. I think the first sentence of the pitch should give more information than what you have. Try omitting it and starting with the second sentence. (That shows us a lot about your MC right away.) I agree with the others, only change your MC’s ethnicity if it is truly important to your story. (Or draw from something in your childhood that you know well.) Good luck!

  13. Keila Dawson says:

    Oh look, chocolate! Never had a problem sending my wee ones to school, but dropping my baby off to college choked me up! But I know he’ll be back soon, with laundry.

    Yes, I would read it, a fun and mysterious premise. Agree with the others, you have lots of plot points that fit with MG. As for the diversity angle, as an #ownvoices author, I’m thinking a native of Asian Indian culture may pick up on anything off or not quite right. So vetting would be helpful. Susan Meyer gives a great example how that helped her. She asked an African American friend to read her story, New Shoes. One scene although written as plausible from her window was flagged by her friend. She wasn’t the only one that recommended Susan change it to reflect a more authentic engagement between characters. Good luck!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Oh, I KNOW! That dropping off at college thing is definitely heart-wrenching… even though they do come back for laundry and home-cooked meals 🙂 It’s even harder when it’s the last one and you end up with an empty nest except for vacations! My kids keep hinting I should get another dog… 🙂 Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments for Jeanna, Keila!

  14. Katie Engen says:

    11st time visitor. Love it.

    MG for sure. Reasons stated above need not be repeated by me.

    Idea: maybe she has a younger sibling who can be a MC for a PB with simpler seeking issues.

    Just say no to vacuuming.

  15. viviankirkfield says:

    YAY! September is here and that means our sweet Susanna is back with PPBF this week, as well as WYRIW. The brain freezing treat is very tempting, dear friend.

    Jeanna…I think your story could go either way…PB or MG…with all of the subplots you are hintng at, I’d say MG…but if you are willing to slim it down to one main theme, like a girl who can find anything and how that gets her into trouble but then it saves the day, I think that would work. I wasn’t sure about the ultrasound reference…that kind of took me out of the pitch. I agree with Pat…Heidi made me think of the Alps…but a name like Heidi Sikh would be clever wordsmithing , however I don’t know if you need to add the layer of ethnicity to the mix. I think you’ll need to decide which book you want to write…and then your pitch will reflect that. I would definitely read this story…very intriguing. 😉

  16. mona861 says:

    Susanna, glad to have you back. Oh my gosh…I need that freeze treat-now! This reads to me like a MG. I’m like a kid, I want to know what happened in the ultrasound. I hope you tell me, or this opening won’t mean anything. Also, is there a reason that you need to tell us that MC is Asian? Even if it’s an important factor, I’m not sure you need to tell us. We’ll figure it out with your weaving of words. With that said, I would definitely want to turn the pages and read this book!!!

  17. Maria Marshall says:

    Welcome back Susanna. I am glad that September is here too. I look forward to Wednesdays and Fridays! Wow, that dessert looks amazing.

    Jeanna, I would definitely read this story. I find it intriguing and unique. I agree with the others that it feels like a MG and that the issue of diversity requires much thought. I also agree with Vivian that the name Heidi Sikh is a great play on words and intrigued me from the start.

    Specific thoughts on the query:
    “If it’s lost, she’ll find it. Her parents first discovered her talent for hide & seek during an ultrasound, when she gave them – and the midwife – quite a fright!”

    [Is there another way to introduce Heidi’s ability to be invisible? I am unclear how this HELPS her to find things or is it a “disadvantage” she has to overcome? The first lines don’t snag me right away. Maybe consider reworking them a bit..]

    ” Now 12 year old Heidi Singh’s life revolves around finding lost keys, missing cats and trying not to lose friendships. When one half of an identical twin pop duo disappears, Heidi finds herself pulled into a mystery so complex, she has to look deep within herself for answers – or SHE might be next to get lost.”

    [This portion is awesome. If her invisibility is a struggle, maybe you could play that part up – “Struggling to remain visible herself, 12 year old Heidi ….” I think, if it’s important to the plot, you should highlight it more.]
    Good Luck with this MS, it sounds amazing. 🙂

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Hi Maria! Thanks so much for the welcome back – it’s lovely to see you too! 🙂 Thanks for your helpful comments for Jeanna! I’m looking forward to Wednesdays and Fridays also, but I sure would love to come up with something new for Mondays to shake things up a bit. Let me know if you have any bright ideas of something you’d like to see!

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