Would You Read It Wednesday #307 – Hungry In The Hills Of Hercegovina (PB)

Hiya Folks!

You will all be glad to know that I braved the basement and found the window candles!

And I only smashed one by accident on the basement floor!

I put the candles in the windows and then risked life and limb to climb up and put the wreath in the peak of the porch roof.  Just call me Spidey 🙂

So now my little house looks very festive 🙂

Just in time for the Holiday Contest which opens tomorrow!

If you know me at all, you will not be shocked to know that I haven’t given even one tiny second’s thought to my sample entry.  So no more shilly-shallying!  We must get down to business right now so I can go think something up!

If you’re suggesting there’s no better way to get down to business than with Something Chocolate, that just proves we are kindred spirits and great minds think alike 🙂 Not to pick one holiday over another – I just thought these were cute – and they’re made of chocolate cupcakes… 🙂

Easy Christmas Tree Cupcakes


Recipe HERE (including helpful video!) at YourCupOfCake

YUM!  Festive AND delicious!!!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Lily whom you will remember from September with her pitch for Garden Bed. Lily Erlic is a member of the SCBWI. She has authored many books included Finger Rhymes for Manners and Glaciers: Landscape Carvers. She is a preschool and daycare teacher (ECE) with a BA degree from the University of Victoria.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Hungry In The Hills Of Hercegovina

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

The Pitch: (Based on my Aunt’s True Story) Ana, is a young girl who struggles with hunger. Puto, her dog, chases wolves away from the family’s herd of sheep. Ana and her family do not have enough to eat sometimes in her poor village in the hills of Hercegovina. When Ana faces a vulture with Puto, the real challenge begins.

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 Lily 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 January, so you could get your new year of writing of to a great start by getting your pitch up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Lily is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the opening of the Holiday Contest tomorrow!!!  I CAN’T WAIT to read your stories!!!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


28 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #307 – Hungry In The Hills Of Hercegovina (PB)

  1. Johanna Speizer says:

    Yes, because I love historical fiction/non-fiction and its an untold story of a place not many of us are familiar with. I would definitely read it.

  2. Kathy Halsey says:

    Susanna, I am putting the finishing touches on my Holiday entry. Can’t wait to read and share in the fun. We broke down and bought new candles for the windows. Happy Holidays to all.
    I am a maybe on the pitch. I feel it does fit a niche in that it’s an underrepresented place/setting that deals with an MC with the challenge off poverty. Bravo, Lily, on marketability. Also, Ana and Puto are a team I’d root for. I feel you need more punch in the pitch – figurative language, more specific details re: the stakes. Maybe more about the vulture??? Keep on it. This story needs to be in the world. Good luck.

  3. authoraileenstewart says:

    Normally I love biographies or based on true life stories, but this pitch left me uninspired to read this story. The first sentence tells rather than shows with the linking verb is. The second sentence seems disconnected, and I don’t know how it goes with the problem of Anna being hungry.The third sentence merely repeats information I already gathered in the first sentence, and the last sentence I am left wondering what’s up with the vulture. Why will facing a vulture be more of a challenge than being hungry?

    I’m sure the material in this story is important and worth sharing, I just think the pitch needs some work. Just polish a bit and I think you will have a winner Ms. Lily. Best wishes :0)

  4. ptnozell says:

    Susanna, Spidey hung a wreath in the peak? Sounds like the start to a heroic holiday story to me. Just hope no one is eavesdropping & snatches your idea!

    Lily, I agree with Kathy that Ana’s story is very timely, about a region we know all too little (most readers will not know where Hercegovina is) & including a problem that receives too little attention in children’s literature (food insecurity/poverty). So I think this story is very marketable. I think, though, that you need to include an indication of era – does this take place during the Bosnian War or does it predate the founding of Yugoslavia? You should also state clearly that it is fiction, but based on your aunt’s life (probably at the end, I’d suggest). I think if you rewrite the pitch to indicate that Ana and her dog face problems (ie the wolves) but then face a bigger problem (the vulture) and give an indication of how they try to overcome these problems and the stakes (hunger for Ana & her family), your pitch will be clearer. I hope you continue to work on this, as it’s so important that kids #ReadYourWorld & learn stories such as your aunt’s.

    • lilyerlic says:

      Thank you for your response. I will work on the pitch more. I will also include the era. Ana was 9 years old in 1956 during the communist regime in Yugoslavia. The story is close to nonfiction as all the events are true. How can I place it in fiction? It’s creative nonfiction, I believe. What do you think? 🙂

  5. Katie Engen says:

    Maybe. The unique setting & heavy topic (esp. for a PB) pique my interest but the pitch seems incomplete. Use the genre tag to elaborate on PB instead of starting with your parenthetical. Options: informational PB or narrative nonfiction PB (or something like that; google Melissa Stewart’s NF Family Tree for more options). Sentence 1 and 3 are redundant; combine or streamline them. Place the sentences about Puto closer together so those actions (the dog’s, the birds’) help build tension. Elaborate slightly on the ‘real challenge.’ Maybe by adding more specific details of what’s at stake (Ana or Puto get hurt? The vulture harms all the sheep?). Also, I think vultures are not birds of prey (preferring carrion), so if there’s some sort of avian attack, consider verifying the species.

  6. matthewlasley says:

    I totally forgot about the Holiday contest. My mind has been on other things after our shakeup here in Alaska last week.

    For me, this is a no. I see potential with the story, but I am lost with it. I get the story, but I want to know what makes it unique. It is hard to sell a depressing story, or a story with an all to real struggle, without making it about something else.

    The first two sentences are extraneous. If I were an agent or editor, I would probably stop at the first sentence.

    The second part of the pitch is good. I would start there. You get the setting, the plot and the characters all in one. Here is an example of how I might write it:
    Ana and her family sometimes do not have enough to eat in her poor village in the hills of Hercegovina. When Ana and her dog Puto have their dinner stolen by a vulture, the real challenge begins.

    Good luck with your story!

  7. Rene` Diane Aube says:

    So hard to believe it’s almost Christmas!! Kudos to you, Susanna for getting your decorations out and creating a festive feel to your home. 🙂 If you can do it, maybe I can, too. I love the looks of those cupcakes, too…maybe my granddaughters would help me make them. YUM!

    Lily, based on your pitch, this is a maybe for me, too. When I saw your title I thought it was more of a folk tale. I apparently am not very good at my geography…which means I really need to read your book, which it upgrades it to a yes…I guess I’m hovering in the middle. That said, I felt like your pitch was kind of a round robin ~ repeating the same information in several different ways about the lack of food. I like the suggestion Matthew gave on how to begin your pitch, as this definitely sounds like a girl/dog endeavor to protect the sheep, which I’m assuming the family uses for meat as well as wool?

    I love that its based on a true story from your family and a place that is obscure (maybe just because of my previously stated geographical skills?) I think it’s important for children to understand the struggles of others in order to learn empathy. And the cultural aspect will definitely build character in the wee little kids.

    I hope this helps in some way. I look forward to seeing your revision and hopefully, someday, your book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble! Now, off to brainstorm ideas for the Holiday contest!!

  8. Rinda Beach says:

    I would read it, but I agree with the others that something is missing from the pitch. I think the others have given you great advice, and I’d follow it. I’d also make sure that what you’re adding in the pitch is present in the story. Good luck with this ! I hope it makes into into the hands of kids, teachers, and librarians.

  9. bababloggayaga says:

    Arr, like many of they other reviewers, I not be sold on yer pitch. It be raising too many questions as to what the story she actually be about. Have they wolves eaten the sheep and that be why they be hungry? How does the vulture fit in and why be it more of a challenge than wolves or hunger? I not be getting where the core of they story be but I agrees it be a worthy topic.

  10. Jamie Donahoe says:

    As written, I would have to say no. But’s there’s room for improvement. Ana’s hunger is mentioned twice, so that’s a waste of characters (if it were a Twitter pitch) and shows poor editing. Hercegovina, I view as a turn off, despite the fact that it’s undoubtedly underrepresented in the genre. Many people wouldn’t know how to pronounce it, much less place it on a map. I wonder if in a pitch it’s better to refer to a more general “countryside” or “rural village” to conjure up a more general place. But the idea of a girl and her dog against a vulture, and the fact that it’s based on a true story, pique my interest.

    • lilyerlic says:

      My aunt was only 9 years old when she warded off the vulture. She screamed for help and a few neighbours came by but not right away. She had to fend the vulture off with her shepherd’s staff and her dog to protect the sheep.

  11. Writer on the run says:

    Apologies! A little late to the party- I read the pitch yesterday and wanted to give it some thought.

    This is a heavy topic, which is fine and actually might appeal to an agent or editor, but I think the setting needs to be balanced with an uplifting message. I’m not getting that from the pitch. So I am a Maybe.

    Ana and her dog Puto spend their days protecting the family’s flock of sheep near the old village. Struggling with hunger while fighting wolves off, Ana and Puto face their biggest challenge when a cunning vulture targets the herd. (And how do they do that? With ingenuity? Teamwork? Courage?)

    I agree with Jamie that the country’s name is a stumbler- why not use the actual name of a village placed in Hercegovina? If the book is for 4-7 year olds, their knowledge and interest in a far away country may not be there. If the book is for older children, teaching geography may be good.

  12. fannywrites says:

    The real-life story of fighting against hunger and predators is suitable for older children of 8 and up. I do not feel the danger and tension in the pitch of such a story. Perhaps describe in a sentence or two the scariness of being stalked by vultures waiting for someone or something to die. I may read it to see if the if the manuscript, IF I have the time.

  13. Sarah Tobias says:

    Very late to this party. I was thinking about the title. If you want to give the story universal appeal, maybe the title should be something like “Ana and the Vulture”; a title that connects you more to the story than to the place. I have the same struggles with the pitch as other commentators, but I feel like it’s a story that would be great to read. A young adventure story. A story dealing with poverty. A story about a girl and her dog. And lastly, a story about an unfamiliar place.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s