Boy, do we have an action-packed day today, folks!
I’m not going to waste one single second telling you what the dogs found in the woods or what creative concoction I baked or what the scuttlebutt down at the post office was. Nosireebob! We’re going to get right down to it today!
First (your favorite and mine!) we have a thrilling triple episode of Straight From The Editor!
For September: You will recall Katie’s pitch:
Katie – Pirate For Hire (PB ages 4-8)
Patch loves being a pirate. The beards! The singing! The treasure! There’s only one problem…he gets seasick. When his shipmates begin poking fun at him, Patch looks for a new gig and a new crew who understand him, but where to work? Patch fumbles as a barber, flounders and a singer, and fails as a jeweler before finding a place perfect for a pirate.
And here are Erin’s comments:
This is cute. Though it might garner more interest if you went slightly more active and specific—even the end. Something more along the lines of: Patch loves being a pirate. “Yohoho! The shiny gold coins! The beards! There’s only one problem…he gets seasick. When his shipmates poke fun of him, Patch looks for a new gig. But where to work? What to do? He fumbles as a barber, flounders as a singer, and can’t tell a diamond from a pearl—before finding the perfect place for a pirate –((and I would say what it is)).
For October: Laura’s pitch:
Laura – Gustavo’s Big Idea (PB ages 4-9)
Aliana’s little brother Gustavo wants to be in charge for the day. Knowing she’s really the boss, Aliana agrees to play along. Now Gustavo needs to come up with a BIG idea to impress his sister! As they head out to explore the woods near their Rocky Mountain home, Gustavo searches for inspiration, finding his idea in the clouds. The power of observation combined with imagination show both siblings new ways to take pride in their discoveries. Easy-to-follow hands on science project for home or school included.
And here are Erin’s thoughts:
I love the concept of this pitch, but I wish you gave an example because I have no idea what the big idea is and how that correlates to being in charge. You need to make that connection for the reader, especially when you mention a science project included. An editor will be confused—is this a picture book about little brother finally being in charge or a book of scientific observation?
Essentially, you just need to provide some more information.
And last but not least, for November: Candace’s pitch:
Candace – Cock-A-Doodle WHAT? (PB ages 2-4)
Clarence Rooster is pacing around the barnyard. He is the smallest rooster at the farm and tomorrow morning will be his first turn at waking up Farmer Judy. What if he’s not loud enough and she sleeps right through his crowing? He decides to hold a practice session behind the barn. Clarence invites his friends to come listen. Each one has a bit of advice for him. Now, he must figure out whose idea is the best.
And Erin’s advice:
This is very cute. Everybody likes an underdog 🙂 However, it would liven it up a tad if you added more specifics. Draws the reader in. So, if you say something like, Cow says stand still to maximize loudness.. Goat says kick your feet when you crow. OR if different Roosters are giving him the advice, then include their different opinions—two maybe—just to add some color.
As always, I find Erin’s thoughts very insightful, interesting, and helpful, and I hope her words help all of you to strengthen your pitches!
Gosh! All that awesome pitching advice has left me a mite peckish! How about you? I think we should refuel with Something Chocolate before we go on to today’s pitch. As you can see, I’m on a Valentine-themed roll the last couple weeks – very fitting for this time of year 🙂 This looks easy and delicious!
Valentines Day Marbled Graham Cracker Toffee
I personally am not a fan of sprinkles on anything – they interfere with texture to my way of thinking. So I’ll probably make my toffee with colored sugar instead. But you guys feel free to sprinkle to your heart’s content 🙂 (Or use “jimmies” if that’s what you call them in your neck of the woods!)
Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Tim who writes under a pseudonym (Francis S. Poesy) and says, “Francis S. Poesy was born on Slipshod Island off the northwest coast of Ireland in 1961. He attended the St. Blathmac Monastary School which was well known for producing many great Slipshod writers, until the island was reclaimed by the sea in 1969.
Francis is also entirely a figment of Tim Canny’s imagination, which many have characterized as “over-active”. Tim currently writes under the pseudonym Francis S. Poesy as he always thought an author should have a much more interesting back story than growing up in the Mid-west and writing technical manuals for a living. Tim is an unpublished writer and is currently working on a presentable version of his second children’s book manuscript. His website is http://www.mulberryandbliss.com.”
Find him on the web at
Here is his pitch:
Working Title: The Troublesome And Unpleasant Adventures Of Murphy The Reluctant Potato
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Murphy isn’t like all those other potatoes. He doesn’t dream of becoming delicious French fries; of making beautiful art that gets displayed on the fridge; or of winning ribbons as a science fair project. No, Murphy is very happy kicking back in Farmer McCubbin’s cozy little garden. He has no plans for going on any “potato adventures” thank you very much. But that all changes the day a shovel turns his world upside down and getting back to the garden turns into the biggest potato adventure of all.
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 Tim improve his 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 March, so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!
Tim is looking forward to your thoughts on his pitch! I am looking forward to Friday, which as you may know is Groundhog Day – a big favorite around here! 🙂 Phyllis is all set to get her furry brown self outside at the crack of dawn to let us know if spring will come early! Fingers crossed…!!! 🙂
Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂
38 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #273 – The Troublesome And Unpleasant Adventures Of Murphy The Reluctant Potato (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor X 3!!!”
Susanna, you and Erin have been busy gals! And it’s not even February yet (fingers, toes, and paws are crossed for an early spring – Phyllis, we’re counting on you!).
Francis/Tim, I like the idea of a potato as MC, but I admit to being a bit confused about Murphy’s dreams – why would he want to end up in a vat of hot oil, for instance, and then eaten? Once I got past the second sentence of your pitch, though, I started rooting for Murphy & eager to read more about his adventures. And I loved the voice you use. I’d suggest tweaking the second sentence by alluding to a dangerous world out there, perhaps with smashing and mashing dangers lurking, and then proceed with the rest.
I look forward to reading a revised pitch, and the story, soon! And Susanna, I’m definitely looking forward to an early spring! Go, Phyllis, go!
Hi Patricia, Thanks for being the first commenter! I get where you are coming from as I struggled with the idea that the life of a potato can be brutish and short, but came around to the idea that potatoes would want to be potatoes and would embrace their different possible adventures. I didn’t feel comfortable consigning all the other potatoes in the story to what they or Murphy thought was a grisly end. I think that would be a much different story. That said, I’m going to listen to what others have to say about this and see if I can’t temper the pitch a little to make that part less confusing.
I can’t believe tomorrow is February, Patricia! Where did January fly off to?! But I’m glad! Phyllis and I are looking forward to Friday 🙂 Thanks so much for your comments for Tim!
Francis, Yes I would read it! I love the sense of adventure from a unique perspective, and the action you portray in your pitch. In reading the first sentence I did pause, on the french fry comment, as you are bringing the potato to life with a voice, it makes him a bit more human- so the correlation of becoming a french fry threw me a little. Good luck with this fun story!
Thanks for the feedback Kari. Your insight on the french fry part is a recurring theme in the comments so I’m working on a way to make that “potato adventure” less specific and hopefully less disconcerting.We’ll see if I accomplish that with my modified pitch. 🙂
Thanks so much for your helpful comments for Tim, Kari!
Where to begin?
I’ll start by thanking Susanna and the community here for helping me shape my pitch and of course, Erin for the feedback on my pitch for Gustavo’s Big Idea. I have already revised it based on her advice and will also be rewriting a section of the book to make it even better! I’m so grateful.
I’m really uncomfortable with the idea of your MC talking about being a French fry as the normal answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” If you take that out, I do love the idea of a potato as a main character. Your title is long but in a charming and inviting way and your voice is great.
Thanks Laura! I thought the french fry part might be an issue. I’m working on a less jarring way of getting the idea across. 🙂 I’ve had the same thought about the length of my title but decided to keep it long to see if others felt that way. I may shorten it some when I eventually query. I’m also interested to hear what Erin will say about the title length.
My pitch was really revised and shaped after feedback from this community and again from Erin when I won the October challenge. It’s so important to hear others weigh in on my writing.
Best of luck! To be clear, I think your title is adorable!
We are so lucky to have such a wonderful community, aren’t we, Laura? And I’m so glad they helped you so much with your pitch, and that Erin did too! Thanks for your helpful comments for Tim!
Susanna, I am with you on the sprinkles thing. It’s all about texture. That’s why I also don’t do nuts or mini chocolate chips as a topping. They are perfectly lovely, but not on my whipped cream!
Tim, I like this pitch a lot. I get to know the character and the tone of the story quite well. I like that you are specific with situations he wants to avoid. I don’t mind the french fry reference because that’s what happens to most potatoes. But that section in the story will take some skillful writing to make make sure it’s not morbid or scary. You say the same thing with both the “No, Murphy is…” sentence and the “He has no plans…” sentence. I would eliminate one or the other. Great pitch.
Thanks David. All these positive comments are giving me a great boost! 🙂 I hear what you are saying about the possibility of things getting morbid or weird. It was something I thought about when developing the story. I’ll give you a little spoiler alert, Murphy avoids the kitchen altogether so rest assured, no potatoes were harmed in the writing of this story. 🙂 Also, nice catch on the multiple negatives. I’ve tried to combine those two sentences to be more concise.
Right, David?! Sprinkles are pretty… but they ruin the whole experience! 🙂 Keep them off whipped cream, ice cream, and icing!!! Thanks so much for your thoughts for Tim!
Susanna , I’ll take chopped nuts or chocolate shavings over sprinkles any day!
Tim, I love the voice that comes through in your pitch. You’ve stated his goal which is great…getting back to the garden. Maybe a clue as what he might have to do to accomplish this goal. Great job!
Thanks for commenting Judy. I’ve taken your advice and am working on a way to hint at what Murphy has to do to get back to the garden.
You, me and David, Judy! We can form a No Sprinkles Club 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts for Tim!
I love funny stories, so i would definitely read about a reluctant potato!
Oh and I’m a fan of jimmies when sprinkled on a vanilla soft serve. 😋
Thanks Colleen! I hope one day you do get to read it. Because that would mean I got it published. 😉
I love you like a denim-covered sister, Coleen, but GAH! No sprinkles/jimmies on soft serve! It ruins the whole smooth and creamy experience! 🙂 Thanks for your enthusiasm for Tim, and I forgive you for liking jimmies on your soft serve because in all other respects you are a normal and lovely person 🙂
Great feedback from Erin as usual.
As for today’s WYRI pitch, I happen to think potatoes are the best. I love french fries, potato chips, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes…you get my drift. So the concept of reading a book about my favorite source of starch wanting no parts of being MY source of satisfaction at first, made me sad, then it turned into my favorite source of starch going on an adventure. So yes, I would read it 🙂
Thanks Angela! I’m right there with you. I come from a potato loving family and a long line of potato loving ancestors so I guess it is no surprise I wrote a story about a potato. The trick will probably be keeping my next story from being about a potato. 🙂
Erin is awesome, isn’t she, Angela? And oh gosh, your comments for Tim are making me hungry for any form of potato…and I already had dinner! Thanks so much for chiming in!
I would read this like crazy. What’s not to love about a potato story? Especially when the potato has the same goals as I do – lazing around the garden. I’m curious about how he gets from place to place (and how he’ll get back to the garden) without the aid of the shovel. Good luck with this one.
Thanks Genevieve! I’m really loving all these upbeat, positive, and insightful comments.
Thanks for your supportive comments for Tim, Genevieve!
Great pitch advice from the pros! Thank you for the insights! And now I’ve gotta say that the potato pith is darn near perfect for me! If I were an agent or editor, I’d be snarfing up that MS before anyone else at the table could get to it. Cheers!
Oh, and Susanna, I just posted a little note about llamas you might enjoy…..
Thanks Jilanne! To paraphrase my grandmother “From your mouth to an agent’s ears!” 🙂
Thanks so much for your comments for Tim, Jilanne! And I saw you’d posted about LLAMA this morning, just haven’t gotten over there yet! Can’t wait! 🙂 Perhaps I’ll abandon replying to my blog comments and come over now! 🙂
Arr, matey, me thoughts be mayhaps I would read it. I be eating up (yo ho ho) the idea of a potato as yer hero. But I be thinking the beginning of yer pitch be a bit too passive. Does you really need to say what he can’t do? You could you need to get right to the meat (and potatoes) of the story and say his happy little world be turned upside down by the shovel. You doesn’t has a lot of words for they pitch so they all needs to count.
Interesting potato thoughts from a pirate! 🙂 Thanks so much for chiming in for Tim!
Thanks for your input, Baba. You have a very unique voice. 🙂 I hear what your saying about shortening the pitch and getting down to the conflict, however, since those three “potato adventures” mentioned in the beginning of the pitch are very salient to the story, I feel leaving them out would leave too much to an agent’s imagination. I wouldn’t want a potential agent imagining a different story, or worse, imagining that it was too generic a story, without enough, as you say, meat and potatoes. 🙂
GO Valentines Day Marbled Graham Cracker Toffee. But sprinkles? Meh. The sparkly sugar is really, really, really good though. Oh, Sus. I must make this. It is just the thing after a great day horseback riding. *sigh* Which I miss so very very very much.
Tim, I would read it. You could show (instead of a french fry) he doesn’t dream of being a potato with warts (those eyes) all over him. I do think it sounds like it could be really cute. It reminds me in a way of Sophie’s Squash.
Thanks for the feedback Robyn. I loved Sophie’s Squash! I’m hoping my re-write below tempers the issues people had with the mention of becoming a french fry. Dreaming of being a delicious meal is all part of the potential adventures the potatoes have in my story. I’m hoping it isn’t a deal breaker for any agents or editors. 🙂
Here’s a slightly modified version of the pitch where I’m attempting to temper the french fry issue. I think this maintains the idea but makes the delivery a little less jarring. I also modified a few things as I thought about what everyone has said so far. I also decided to keep some things as they are.
The Pitch: Murphy isn’t like all those other potatoes. He doesn’t dream of becoming a delicious side dish on the dinner table; of making beautiful art that gets displayed on the fridge; or of winning ribbons as a science fair project. Murphy is very happy kicking back in Farmer McCubbin’s cozy little garden. He has no plans for going on any “potato adventures” thank you very much. But that all changes the day a shovel turns his world upside down and getting back to the garden turns into the biggest potato adventure of all.
I’d absolutely read it, especially because I love the name of McCubbins! That aside, your pitch tells me a lot about Murphy and gives me a clue that his world is about to turn upside down. It could do with some streamlining, perhaps not including so many ways he isn’t like the other pratties. The intro line could be simplified to “Unlike all the other potatoes, Murphy was quite content kicking back…..” Luck o’ the Irish to ye!
Thanks for the feedback, Yangmommy! I love that you love the name McCubbin. Its actually the name of a 17th century Jacobite ancestor on my father’s side of the family and I’ve loved it since the first day I heard it. It seemed the perfect farmer name when I started developing the story.
Yes, I would read it. I love that your MC is a potato. I think a slightly shorter title like THE TROUBLESOME ADVENTURES OF MURPHY THE POTATO may work too. Regarding the french fries, is it possible that the other potatoes dream of becoming french fries because they would be loved (and admired) by so many people with happy faces? Plus they would look so slim 🙂 Murphy is happy exactly where he is and I like that about him. How unfortunate that a shovel turns his world upside down and he has to go on an adventure. I am curious to read more and find out how he gets back to the garden. The last sentence is a little long. Perhaps say something like: But that all changes the day a shovel turns his world upside down and he sets off on a troublesome adventure. Will he find his way back home? A fun and unique story with great illustration potential. Good luck!
Thanks Corine! I like that shorter title. And the description of slim happy fries. 🙂 I’ve had a feeling about how the last sentence read. I’ll definitely take a look and see about making it flow better and be more concise.