Would You Read It Wednesday #299 – Marster Shoes (PB) PLUS The May Pitch Pick PLUS The April Pitch Pick Winner!

In case you were wondering, not only is today Would You Read It Wednesday, it is also Johnny Appleseed Day!

(I KNOW!  I, too, am wondering how I got through all these years without knowing there was a Johnny Appleseed Day!  Can you imagine?)

It stands to reason there would be one though, because how could we have apple cider donuts without Johnny Appleseed?  And we couldn’t really have autumn without apple cider donuts, and just think of the havoc that would be caused by no autumn and therefore no pumpkin-spiced everything!

Because of Johnny Appleseed, pumpkin-spiced trash bags.


I think I just did philosophy.

Or possibly locomotiary substitution 🙂

Anyway, enough about Johnny!  We’ve got lots to get to today, starting with the winner of the April Pitch Pick who, I am pleased to announce, is Corine with her pitch for Willamina The Wolf Spider!!!

Congratulations, Corine!  Your pitch is wending its way along the cyber highway to editor Erin Molta for her thoughts!

Congratulations, too, to our other fabulous pitchers who did an amazing job!  I hope Would You Read It was helpful to you and that you all feel you’ve emerged with stronger pitches and a better understanding of what makes a good pitch for your future endeavors.  We are lucky to have such wonderful, helpful and discerning readers here to aid us in the pursuit of pitch excellence!

Now then!  Moving briskly onward to the May Pitch Pick!

(We’re making progress with the catching up… only June and July to go after this… but by then we’ll need September…!)

Have a look at May’s interesting and entertaining pitches:

#1 – Jackie – One Smart Cookie: The Story of Ruth Wakefield and the Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie (NF PB ages 4-8)

For years the invention of the chocolate chip cookie has been hailed a happy accident. Perhaps it was, or perhaps it was the clever invention of a clever lady. Devour every morsel of this mystery and decide if it was a lucky mistake or the creation of one smart cookie.

#2 – Patricia – Sadie’s Tail (PB ages 4-8)

Whenever Ryan tries to brush rescue-pup Sadie’s fluffy tail, Sadie growls and howls. Wary of scaring or hurting her, Ryan stops. Sadie’s fluffy tail grows matted, and things like cooking utensils, toothbrushes and even glasses get stuck in her fur. Ryan tries several ways to tame that tail, and retrieve the missing items, but fails, until he discovers that the solution was wagging at him the entire time.

#3 – Francis/Tim – I Am Not A Hugger (PB ages 4-8)

Val is not a hugger. She just isn’t. But nobody in her extend family of huggers seems to know it. Val has devised elaborate plans to make herself unhuggable, but nobody ever takes the hint. So when the latest family gathering promises to be another hug fest, Val must figure out how to be heard, or endure yet another hugtastrophe.

Now that you’ve had a chance to read through and evaluate, please vote for the pitch you think is best and most deserving of a read and critique by editor Erin Molta in the poll below by Sunday September 30 at 9PM Eastern.



Yowza! (a word just added to the Scrabble dictionary, for those of you who are keeping track.)  All that pitch evaluation and voting and talk of cider donuts has made me a mite peckish.  How about you?  Nothing like 100 layers of Something Chocolate to get that under control!

100 Layer Chocolate Chip Cookies


Recipe and helpful video HERE at iambaker

Mmm!!!  So much delightful chocolate-y goodness!  I don’t know whose idea chocolate was, but it sure was a good one!!!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Sarah who says, “I am an Optometrist, mother, and lover of the outdoors. I live in NH with my husband and two children. I love to paint in my free time, when I’m not writing.”

Find her on the web at www.sarahheturadny.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Marster Shoes

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

The Pitch: Stanley has a human mom, a Martian dad, and a foot problem. MARSTER SHOES is a 425wc PB in which Mom insists Stanley wear shoes for school. Stanley wants to please her, but doesn’t want to give up the feeling of being barefoot. The end comes with a cringe.

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 Sarah 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 (10th and 17th!), 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!

Sarah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to October!  How about you guys?  I love October – warm days, cool, crisp nights, apples (and all the good desserts that go along with them 🙂 ), orange, gold, and red leaves that make even gray, rainy days seem bright, Sheep & Wool Festival, long walks with the dogs, usually the first cozy fire of the year, fun-size Halloween chocolate (worthy of making the list twice 🙂 ), the Halloweensie Contest… and not too close to winter yet! Lots of good things 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

Go forth and write!


56 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #299 – Marster Shoes (PB) PLUS The May Pitch Pick PLUS The April Pitch Pick Winner!

  1. Sarah Hetu-Radny says:

    Thank you for posting my pitch, Susanna ! I love that I am number 299 !! You also picked out the perfect cookies – I am a chocoholic ! ( I made homemade Nutella this morning ). Please feel free to leave comments everyone I can’t wait to read them ! Thank you, Sarah

  2. authorlaurablog says:

    I’m a maybe. The word Marster in the title is not grabbing me because I’m guessing it is a play on monster but I don’t understand what it means. I’m also unclear what you mean by ends with a cringe. The idea of a child wanting to be barefoot and a mom wanting the child to wear shoes is quite relatable.

    • Sarah Hetu Radny says:

      Thank you! Funny you should state your hesitation on “marster” and “cringe” as those were the two parts I was really unsure about! I was already thinking of changing them; I will definitely now. Thank you!

      • authorlaurablog says:

        Sarah, thank you for your reply. I’m sure others will comment with meaningful feedback and insights. I hesitated to say anything because it felt negative, but when my pitch was featured, it was helpful to see both positive and critical feedback. Best of luck and this sounds like the illustrations will be engaging!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Thank you for your very helpful thoughts for Sarah, Laura. You expressed honest confusion in a nice way, so no worries about negativity! It is really important for writers to know when they’re missing the mark, because you don’t want to be missing it when an editor reads or hears your pitch! As the writer, we know exactly what the story is and what we intended, but to someone coming completely fresh to the pitch, there is no background information. Thank you for helping!

      • authorlaurablog says:

        Thank you Susanna. I always try to use kindness when I communicate and I’m glad that came through. 😊 As a previous pitcher on your “Would you read it Wednesday?” I know how valuable hearing from others can be.

      • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

        It can be a hard line to walk – offering needed constructive criticism without sounding unkind or hurting anyone’s feelings. But it is important for writers to know when their intent is not coming through as they hoped!

  3. ptnozell says:

    Susanna, so happy that you’ve picked a double chocolate treat today – we’ll need it with a pitch pick and a new one to read.

    Sarah, I’m a maybe who can easily be bumped up to a yes on your story. I love the premise of a half-Martian/half-human MC. I think this will resonate with kids of mixed race & ethnicity, and any parents/grandparents who are Star Trek fans. I’d like more information on why wearing shoes relates to being human (do Martians not wear shoes?) and why the ending merits a “cringe”. Usually that word has a negative connotation. Perhaps twist may describe this better? Also, I’d delete the word count & PB designation in the midst of the pitch – I actually thought it was a Martian shoe size (I clearly need another of Susanna’s cookies!), and then had to stop and figure out what really was happening.

    I hope these comments help – I think there’s a market there for this story.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Thank you for considering Sarah’s pitch so carefully, Patricia, and offering such thoughtful comments. Very helpful! As for the cookies, if you watch the recipe video you’ll see they’re a little more involved than regular chocolate chip… I don’t know if I’d have the patience for all that waiting! But if someone else makes them while I get some work done, I’ll be right there to snarf some down 🙂

  4. Sarah Hetu-Radny says:

    Yes this advice is very helpful thank you ! I like the idea of changing the word to twist instead of cringe . I will definitely take out the word count etc. from the pitch . Thank you so much for participating ! S

  5. Wendy says:

    I love the idea of a blended family that’s alien/human. I’m wondering why pleasing Mom is the reason he has to wear shoes–wouldn’t the school make him wear shoes? Has he lived in a place where he got to school age and never wore shoes before (restaurant? doctor’s office? grocery store?)? Maybe one sentence could sum this up and it would show the reader why this is such a big problem for Stanley. Good luck, Sarah!

  6. Kathy Halsey says:

    Susanna, OK, now I ill eat an apple today and add some chocolate in order to be more well-rounded. (I’m already getting “well-rounded.) LOL.
    I, too stumbled over “marster shoes,” but I did wonder what they were. I’m a maybe with the pitch s it now stands. Feel like we need to know more of this interesting world you’ve dropped the reader into. I am wondering if the scope of the problem is too small – wearing shoes or not. To me, the conflict would be living in a world where a kid is part Martian/human.Think about the scope of the book. It may even be a chapter book if you enlarge the premise to the Martain/human world. A small point, but usually the discussion word count, one says, ” MARSTER SHOES is a 425 word picture book…” Good luck on this story.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Well, Kathy, you know what they say about an apple a day – so that’s important. And chocolate is… well, chocolate! I saw your picture on FB in your new bookstore and you don’t look round at all! So enjoy the chocolate! :). Thank you so much for your helpful comments for Sarah!

    • Sarah Hetu-Radny says:

      OK I definitely broke into a nervous sweat when I read the words expand to a chapter book ! But I will think about it … and I will also think about everything else you stated which IS relevant . Thank you!

  7. fspoesy says:

    First, I just wanted to mention I got to meet Susanna in real life at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival last weekend and as I read today’s post I realized I should have brought her some chocolate! It was great to meet you Susanna and I’ll make a mental note to bring chocolate next time. 🙂

    Hi Sarah! This pitch is currently a maybe for me, but it does have me wanting more. I like the idea of the half-human/half-martian main character. I don’t know any kid who wouldn’t think that was cool. But I’m confused as to what going barefoot has to do with Stanley’s family background. Has he been on Earth over the summer where he loved going bare foot in the grass and now he is on Mars where he has to wear shoes? I need a little more information for the conflict to make sense to me. I also concur with the other commenters about the use of ‘cringe’ and ‘Marster’. It took me a while to figure out ‘Marster’ is probably synonymous with Martian. If it is, then ‘Martian Shoes’ sounds like a great title. Anyway, the fact that you’ve got me wondering about Stanley’s situation shows you’ve got a great story idea and that your pitch just needs some tweaking to make that story shine through. Good luck. I look forward to reading an updated pitch!

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Don’t be silly, Tim :). It was enough just to get to meet you in real life! I appreciate you taking the time to come say hi! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments for Sarah. I know she will find them helpful!

    • Sarah Hetu-Radny says:

      Yes this is very helpful thank you! It is wonderful hearing everybody’s opinions and realizing how much I have in my head that’s not on the paper ! I definitely need to highlight the conflict better, I agree ! Going to print out everyone’s comments and work on the pitch! Who know that a few sentences could be revised so many times ?!

    • Sarah Hetu-Radny says:

      Here’s my updated working title and working pitch: SHOES FOR THE MOVE
      While mostly human, like mom, Stanley has his dad’s huge Martian feet. This wasn’t a problem when they lived on Mars, where Stanley enjoyed the feeling of being barefoot every day. But Earth’s rules aren’t Mars’ rules, and Stanley must try to come up with a creative shoe solution for life on Earth. Not one to follow the crowd, Stanley’s answer involves a twist .

  8. Katie Engen says:

    It was quite hard to choose only 1 of the May pitches. Good job, all.

    For the pitch, I’m a Maybe Not. I really like the premise, but the pitch itself is a bit too open-ended. I don’t get what ‘Marster’ is and I’m not sure if the ‘foot problem’ is a physical thing or if the problem is Mom’s insistence on shoes. Also not sure if a school setting is integral to the problem or plot (vs. Mom won’t accept bare feet anywhere). I like the interplanetary kid idea a lot, but want to know if different/problematic feet are the only obvious variances to fully-human kids (even if that’s not the core plot, my curiosity has distracted me so maybe a quick phrase to clarify would help).

    • Ellen Leventhal says:

      Sarah, I think you made the pitch clear with your updated version. I would definitely read it. I may change the last line. I know you want to use the word “twist” (and yes, I like it better than “cringe”), but, do you think you even need that line? And if you do, I wonder if it can include something about his Martian roots. Not sure about that… just throwing it out. As far as the title, I would like to see something in it that implies this is not a “regular kid.” Can’t wait to read this!

  9. Rene` Diane Aube says:

    Oh yum! I didn’t think I could stuff another chocolate anything in after all that warm pudding last night, but, thank goodness, I was wrong! Wonderful cookies!! Thank you, Susanna!

    Congratulations to Corine for your pitch pick to be reviewed by Erin Molta!

    Hi Sarah, Though I too was a little confused and had some of the same questions as others have already asked, I would read this because of the interesting concept of a mixed family. I took the liberty of taking what you already have and re-arranging the words a little. Here is an alternative:

    “Shoes don’t suit Stanley’s style. When Mom insists he wears them to school, Stanley…”
    Then share a fun hint *preferably using some of the fun language in your MC’s world* about how he tries to resolve his problem without giving away the ending. You might also want to give a little hint as to why shoes don’t fit Stanley’s style.

    I, too, would remove the word count and genre information as that would be in a separate paragraph in your cover letter.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your Marster Shoes story! 🙂

  10. matthewlasley says:

    Good morning.
    For me, this is a maybe. I love the concept of the blended family and the “issues” that arise when cultures blend. I agree with most of the comments already shared with you. My big issue is that I do not hear a voice here, Stanley’s or yours.
    Tell us why it is a problem for Stanley to wear shoes. Or is it a preference. Are his feet the only thing that give him away as a martian? Is his mom doing it so he has to fit in or because it is the rules? Does Stanley want to fit in?
    These questions may all be in the book, but I think looking at them will help you find this voice and win me over.

    Good luck with your story!

    • Sarah Hetu-Radny says:

      Ah, you found my weakness! I struggle with voice in everything that I write ! Thank you for the helpful questions. I will carefully write out my answers and use my answers to help me find my voice and Stanley‘s voice !

  11. authorlaurablog says:

    On the subject of Johnny Appleseed Day, when I did my student teaching in kindergarten, we had been learning about him so I dressed up as Johnny and had the kindergarten teacher interview me so the class could learn more about him. I also brought a bucket of apples for them to eat. It’s a great memory, thanks for allowing me to share it!

  12. Judy Sobanski (@jkspburg) says:

    The May pitches were all good…hard to choose!
    Sarah – I like the premise of your story. Kids love martian characters..especially a half-human martian! I was thrown a bit by the “MARSTER SHOES” title. Not sure if it is a blending of the word martian and monster? I don’t really think of martians as monsters so maybe that’s why I’m not connecting with it.
    You state the problem clearly: Stanley doesn’t want to wear shoes to school but wants to please his insistent mom. Instead of just noting that the ending comes with a cringe, can you give a hint as to what solution Stanley comes up with that would make the reader cringe?
    Best of luck with your revisions! Sounds like a fun story! 🙂

  13. Genevieve Petrillo says:

    This is what happens when you retire from being a teacher… You FORGET to celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day! Sheesh! What’s next? Forgetting to wear shoes?? (See what I did there?)Thank goodness I stopped by for the reminder.

    I’m a yes on the pitch. I love Martians, although I’m not sure why you need to be half-Martian to want to go barefoot… Like some other commenters I am confused by the title. I want it to say Martian Shoes, which may be totally off base for what actually happens in the story. Anyway, good luck with it. I wonder what Martian shoes would even look like….

  14. viviankirkfield says:

    The chocolate delight came just at the right time…actually, anytime is the right time for chocolate, I think.

    I’m a yes for this story..Sarah, I love the premise and kids will love a story about a boy who is half Martian who has a problem. For me, a pitch doesn’t need the word count or even the title…and I’d rather use the sparse words in the pitch to give us more of a hint as to what is happening in the story.

  15. Sarah Hetu-Radny says:

    I just wanted to thank you all for responding to my pitch. This was such a great experience for me to have so many people who were not familiar with the story critiquing the pitch . Sometimes it’s hard to get out of my own brain …. and sometimes others become too familiar with the story . Thank you especially to Susanna for providing this opportunity for me ! It was so much more helpful than I could’ve imagined ! S

  16. Corine Timmer says:

    I am very late replying. My apologies. I just want to thank all those who voted for my pitch. It means a lot to me. Thanks for this opportunity and I look forward to Erin Molta’s feedback.

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