I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but things are a bit topsy-turvy in Nature these days.
First (I am not making this up! I heard it on the radio!) there is a warrant out for Punxsutawney Phil’s arrest because he said 6 more weeks of winter, which expired on March 16, and then we had a blizzard.
Second, we bounce around from 70 degrees to 10 below, sunshine to Nor’easters, like we’re inside a pinball machine.
And the blueberries in the pancakes?
Monday night I had a traumatic experience in which, just past midnight, I heard a frightening sound on my back porch. My dogs began to growl, low in their throats, and all the fur stood up on their backs. (And, just let me say, this is highly unusual for them because they need their beauty sleep and generally notice nothing between 9 PM and 5 AM!)
I don’t mind telling you, my overactive imagination (you know, the one that makes me a writer? 🙂 ) went into overdrive and I was thinking up all kinds of terrifying scenarios in which I hoped my brave dogs would rise to my defense and protect me (even though I know they’re more likely to beg for treats from an intruder than pin him to the ground as their fierce ancestors would have done! Or possibly just sleep through all the high jinx and shenanigans!)
So there I was, creeping around in the dark, the very definition of stealth, trying to catch a glimpse of whoever had made the noise, heart pounding, attempting to convince myself that I had probably only heard snow falling off the roof or something, my fierce protectresses bravely bringing up the rear, when suddenly Scout shot past me barking ferociously at the door!
Out in the shadowy moonlight I saw a dark shape stop moving at the noise!
And then, after a moment, slowly move forward again!
I was just about to think up a Clever Plan For Self Defense when the dark shape picked up speed… a distinctly lumbering type of speed…a familiar lumbering… and I realized . . . it was the bear!
The noise I’d heard was him wrecking and stealing my bird feeder! Fiend!
. . . the Scene of the Attack! 🙂 . . .
But this highlights my point about weirdness in Nature. I have lived on Blueberry Hill for 25 years and never seen the bears before the third week of April!
So, what, I ask, is going on around here?
Clearly we need Something Chocolate!
And what better in this instance than Bear Paw Cookies???!!!
Bear Paw Cookies
Mmmmmm! Delish! And perfect for the occasion 🙂
Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Jean who says, “I began life with aspirations of being a commercial artist, then changed to journalism before answering my true calling. After getting a scholarship to a Highlights Foundation Workshop Retreat, I’ve come full circle, as a beginning writing children’s lit writer learning the craft, work-shopping, pitching, submitting and trying to break in!”
Find her on the web at https://twitter.com/jrichson2013
Here is her pitch:
Working Title: A Little Witchy
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: After her mother says Beatrice can be such a little witch at times, while she calls the baby an angel, Beatrice begins doing witchy things in order to make herself into a real witch. But the bad witches tire of her bumbling exploits and warn her to quit—once and for all! And the good witch tells her it would be better if she leave the witching to those who can, and that instead she try to be the best mortal girl she can be.
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 Jean 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 April, 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!
Jean is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch! I am looking forward to getting a new bird feeder…and bringing it indoors at night! 🙂
Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂
24 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #279 – A Little Witchy (PB)”
They want to lick up Phil?? What next?? I hope Phyllis can come to his rescue!
As for the pitch, it made me too sad to think of a parent calling a child a witch. This would work really well for an older audience (middle grade fiction) though!!
Sorry. The intention was to show a mother’s impatience. But thanks for your suggestion.
Oops…sorry… ‘lock up’ Phil!
I like the idea but the blurb is a bit muddled (wait…which witch is which again?). So, it makes me wonder if this reflects a similarly muddled manuscript or the fact that blurbs are just hard to get right.
I had the same thought as HHFM. I would avoid the parents as much as possible in a children’s book, including name-calling to the kids. Also start from your main character. WHEN BEATRICE DECIDES BEING A WITCH IS MORE APPEALING THAN BEING MORTAL, HER ATTEMPTS TO BE WITCHY LAND HER IN TOIL AND TROUBLE UNTIL SHE REALIZES WHERE HER TRUE POWER LIES. So just a few things to remember: write tight, less is more, avoid prepositional phrases if possible and keep it simple. (www.iterallylynnemarie.com) HTH. BTW. I am a 4-time Highlights Attendee. LOVE that place.
Thanks so much for the input! It’ll help in revising. Highlights is great.
The premise of the sibling rivalry/jealousy is fine but a parent calling a little girl a witch is unsettling unless they are a family of witches (like Bewitched.) Also,the opposite of Angel is not witch and in books for this age opposites would make more sense.
Interested to know the opposite of witch. Didn’t want to make anyone unsettled.Sorry.
I don’t think there is an opposite for witch but if your MC hears her parents call the baby an angel, she might feel like a devil.
As many others mentioned, name calling parents in a picture book doesn’t seem right. If you are set on her being a witch (bad witches and good witches) maybe you could change the inciting incident so it’s more internal. Maybe she read a book with witches.
So you usually see Bears the third week of April? Yikes! My camping encounters with bears have been more than enough for me. No wonder you have such an active imagination, glad you make such good use of it Susanna! Jean- If there’s a way you could have your older character overhear and perhaps misunderstand being called a witch ( not sure how, but just a thought) you might be able to continue with your premise. Otherwise I’d have to agree with other comments. It would be hard to like any parent characters who called their child a witch. Congratulations on the Highlights scholarship! That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing your pitch. 😃
Thanks. Yes, the MC did overhear and misunderstand comment said in jest. After these comments, I will definitely have to clarify that.
I think that you could have a cute story idea. I get and understand where you are going with it, but like the others, I wonder if it is age appropriate and if the message is clear.
In the first sentence, you imply witches are bad and doing witchy things is bad, then there is a good witch…? It also sounds as if the good witch solves the problem and not Beatrice.
If being a witch is “bad,” why would Beatrice want to be that? I want to hear her voice telling me why in the pitch. Example: If her mom thinks she is a witch, she will be the worst witch she can be!
I think that you can tighten up the concept and pitch if you focused more on Beatrice and not witches. It is fun to come up with clever play on words and points, but when someone does not know the context, it can be missed or seem like an inside joke. For example: “Beatrice begins to do witchy things…” Is she boiling her sister’s things in a cauldron? Is she hexing the neighbors? Is she performing seances with her headless dolls? Is she sacrificing her stuffed animals?
See how this gets a little out of hand and creepy? Is this what you want an agent or editor thinking of your character?
Good luck with the pitch and story.
Angels and witches aren’t opposites and that’s a little jarring. Plus Mom’s comment is unsettling. The fact that the bad witches get on to her is hilarious. Good luck!
I appreciate your constructive critique. And I will dissect the specific aspects of the story you pinpointed that should make it workable. Thanks.
Would I read this book? Maybe. I agree with the other comments about the mom calling the child a witch. Probably best to avoid that. I was also confused as to what exactly the problem is – does Beatrice aspire to be a witch and is not good at it? It also sounds like it is the good witch who solves the problem. I think the story has potential if you can figure out why she decides being a mortal is better than being a witch.
Thanks Rose. Beatrice didn’t initially aspire to be a witch, at first. But she later determined she wasn’t any good at it. The good witch simply confirmed what she eventually discovered herself. Hope that lessens some of the confusion for you.
Bears in the backyard! There is probably a picture book there, Susanna, but if I wrote it, the title would be How We Waved To The Bears In The Backyard As We Drove Away In The Moving Van! 🙂 I must admit though, those Bear Paw cookies are adorable. I will pass that recipe on to my resident cookie maker.
So, on to my WYRIW comment. I’m taking a cue from another commenter from an earlier WYRIW and adding my comments before reading anyone elses.
I’d have to say I’m really on the fence about this one. I think, if done right, it could be very funny while still providing a life lesson without being heavy handed. That said, I think if I was an agent or a publisher, I would find the fact that the mother called the MC a witch just too harsh (yes, even when toned down as “a little witch”). Especially as I have heard ‘witch’ being used as a substitute for a similar sounding word many times. I don’t think children would catch that reference, however the parents doing the book buying would, and I think that would be a show stopper. My suggestion would be to try coming up with something different than a witch. Maybe a crabby crab, or a devilish demon. Or, maybe there is a way I’m not thinking of off the top of my head, to address those concerns, while still keeping the witch reference. I know that’s not much help but I do wish you good luck on developing the story and the pitch. I think the basic premise has a lot of merit.
A million thanks for your kind, less severe observations.The task before me will be trying to find another way to maintain the premise while keeping the ‘witch’ reference. 🙂 Thanks again.
Arr, this witch be saying – hang in there Beatrice – it be a hoot being a witch. If’n you really wants to be. I be thinking this pitch needs more specifics. Give an example of her bumbling. And where be all these other witches coming from? It be too confuzzling for me – I also be on the fence about this. And I agrees that calling a kiddie a witch not be good parenting skills.
Those cookies are adorable! But a little unsettling that you have bears in your garden…. although I’m from Australia…. so we probably have equally unsettling things in our gardens…. it’s perspective. You just get used to them don’t you lol.
I’m a maybe for this book. I think a supernatural theme is fun, and I like the representation of sibling rivalry. It done right it could be a great story to explor with children who have a new sibling. There were a few things that made it difficult for me to say yes though….I won’t make any comments about the term witch being used by the mum as it’s already been mentioned. The writing isn’t as tight as it could be in the first sentence…. I found it a little unfocused. Perhaps something along the line of “since the arrival of her new baby sister Beatrice seems to be in trouble for (insert description of witchy things she is doing – casting spells, making potions etc).” You could them go on to outline how she decides not to bother being a good witch any more. Perhaps some clarity is also needed…. is this a witch family to start with? Or is it a mortal family? If they are a mortal family the pitch could be edited to read more like a quirky/supernatural version of “running away to the circus”. I do really like the premise and can see the potential of the morals and teachings here…. delivered using whimsy and imagination. Good luck honing your pitch…. hopefully these and others comments are helpful 😊
Susanna, I’m so relieved to learn that you and the faithful hounds survived The Great Bear Attack or How the Big Bear Stole the Tiny Bird Seeds. That the bears are up & munching at bird feeders so early in the season is a sure sign of global weirding!
Jean, seeing all of the comments about name-calling and who resolves the problem, I’d suggest focusing more on Beatrice’s actions. This may also help clarify the themes of the story, sibling rivalry or feeling left out when a new baby arrives, exploring power for good or bad, etc. If an issue is the new sibling, perhaps you can start out by stating, “Beatrice decides to cast a spell and practice her magic to regain the attention she lost when her new baby sister appeared. But when she tries [state them here] and they don’t work, Beatrice must decide whether being a bad witch is the best way to conjure the attention she lost [or whatever her goal is].”
Good luck with this. I look forward to reading your revised pitch!
I look forward to seeing your revised pitch, as well! This could be a super fun story!! Good luck and happy writing to you!
I’m embarrassed to admit I was in camp Staten Island Chuck who declared spring was coming early. I really got it wrong this year!!