Would You Read It Wednesday #308 – Professor Steed And The Elusive Thieves (CB)

Happy New Year, Everyone!

And welcome back to the wonderful world of writing for kids, reading with kids, reading to improve our writing skills, and writing to improve kids’ reading experience!

I hope everyone’s holidays were warm and happy and restorative (although I know for a lot of us getting back to work feels like a rest after the holidays! 🙂 )

I am not quite fully back into regular work mode because I still have one little Hill at home… but I’m getting there…!

I’m pretty sure Something Chocolate would help us ALL get back in gear, don’t you think?

Let’s start the new year off healthy with some Triple Chocolate Brownie Cake for everybody!!! 🙂

Triple Chocolate Brownie Cake


Recipe HERE at Lil’Cookie

Mmmmmm!!  Scrumptious!!! 🙂

I feel more like a nap energized already, don’t you? 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Aileen.  Besides writing, Aileen Stewart spends her days reading, attending Library Board of Trustee meetings, managing the local farmers’ market, taking pictures, cooking, tending to the needs of her family, and herding three cats which is just as difficult as it sounds!

You can find her on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AileenWStewart
On her blog: http://www.aileensthoughts.com
Or on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAileenStewart

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Professor Steed And The Elusive Thieves

Age/Genre: Chapter Book (ages 8-12)

The Pitch: When solving a rash of burglaries leaves everyone in in Collarsville at a loss, dedicated hound, John Steed, uses both his undercover skills gained by working for B.O.N.E. and his position as a professor at Hound Academy to sniff out the thieves and recover the stolen goods.

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 Aileen 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 February, 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!

Aileen is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to my nap some extremely productive work time today 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


91 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #308 – Professor Steed And The Elusive Thieves (CB)

  1. hermanator33 says:

    Happy New Year. I’m working to improve my writing habits this year and I’m always inspired by these Wednesday. Posts.. I would read this book, but I’m wondered if the opening line could be more direct. “A rash of burglaries leaves everyone except Detective and part time professor, John Steed befuddled. “ (befuddled might be too big of a word, but the English teacher in me I loves picturing little readers learning to use words in context.)

  2. Nadine Poper says:

    Happy New Year Susanna and everyone! This sounds like a chapter book my students would check out from my library. A detective hound! My students enjoy the Buddy Files books and of course Hank the Cowdog. If you haven’t read any of those from these series, check them out. Your first line makes it sound like everyone in the town is trying to solve the crimes. Is that what you meant? Perhaps a little clue as to who might be one of the thieves…the town alley cat, a rambunctious raccoon or the unsuspecting…you get the idea.
    Yes, I would read this and so would kiddos who enjoy mystery and animals. Nice job!

    • authoraileenstewart says:

      Thanks Nadine. I guess I meant the local authorities made no progress in solving the crime, and I can make that clearer. The entire book, however, contains only dog characters created from the multitude of different hounds our world contains from Bassets to Afghans :0)

  3. Kathy Halsey says:

    Aileen, great to see you here. Yes, I love the concept of the CB series and the dog detective is a very kid-friendly idea. I agree with Nadine to give a hint about who the thieves might be. Good luck with this. And, yes Susanna, I feel going back to normal life is more relaxing than the holidays. Here’s to 2019.

  4. ptnozell says:

    Happy New Year! Where has the time gone? It seems like yesterday we were reading the holiday contest entries and now here we are, trying to remember to put a 9 instead of an 8 at the end of the date.
    Aileen, I would read this story, as I love the idea of a crime-solving canine. I think you can lengthen the pitch and give a few clues as to what the Professor does to solve the crimes and/or who the thieves may be. I’d also suggest breaking it up into a few sentences.

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      Happy New Year, Patricia! I don’t where the time goes, but it sure does! I’ve got a wish-to-do list a mile long…hoping I’ll be able to check at least a few things off it by the end of this year! :). Thanks for your helpful thoughts for Aileen!

  5. Katie Engen says:

    The query zips right along. Great set up and motivation to dive into chapter one asap. Yes, it’s the premise but the actual word flow seems to follow the tight ‘best query pattern’ recipe quite nicely. I do want to know what B.O.N.E. stands for – that might tip me (a rare reader of mysteries) into the next level of enthusiasm. Being pickier: I don’t like putting age limits/ranges on books, but if I have to, this one seems (voice and subject-wise) more like 7-10. Finally, the title is less zippy than the query. I like the words used, but the synergy lacks a bit of bite.

    • authoraileenstewart says:

      Thanks Katie. (B.O.N.E.) Stands for Breeds Over National Emergencies the F.B.I of the hound world. I agree the title isn’t the zippiest, but it pays homage to one of my favorite British spy characters John Steed of The Avengers. And 7 to 10 sounds good. Sometimes it’s hard to know which age range to choose :0)

  6. susanhughesspencer says:

    Hi Aileen, This sounds like fun but I’d suggest you clarify a few details. Could you tell us the full name of BONE in the pitch to explain the acronym? I’m assuming this is some kind of detective agency or police squad, but I’d suggest adding this to be clear. Also, I wondered if John is a former detective or is now a detective on-call while he works as a professor? Would it be helpful-fun to know what he teaches at the Hound Academy? Finally, I’m wondering if “John Steed” sounds more like the name of a horse than a dog. Good luck!

  7. Karen Morgan says:

    I think your story sounds like a must-read, Aileen. I agree with the age range Katie mentioned, as middle grade is generally the 8-12 range, chapter books, less. One picky little thing: you have the word “in” twice before Collarsville in the first sentence.

  8. sarahheturadny says:

    I had to read it twice to realize the main character was a dog, oops! I also don’t think I like the word “rash”. Are there maybe one too many proper nouns? I’m curious to see how you revise it!

  9. Sarah Tobias says:

    I live dog stories an hounds sniffing out crime could be funny and fun.
    I’m a maybe. I am left with a lot of questions about details rather than wondering who done it. First, by the Professor’s name, I thought he was a horse until I read the rest of the pitch. Not that that is a deal breaker, just something to see if others also find confusing. As you describe him, he seems very smart and very adult. Are there kids/puppies in this story who help him solve the mystery? Is there humor? Is he a bumbler like Hercule Poirot? Does he use his great hound nose to sniff out clues? Is there a reason that this is an anthropomorphized dog story vs. a tale (I almost wrote tail) with human characters? What is the B.O.N.E Academy? Maybe that doesn’t need to be part of the pitch unless it’s key to the whole story. What has been stolen, do I care if the items are found? These are little details and decriptions that I feel would let me into the story without giving away the mystery. I am curious. Enquiring minds want to know. Good luck.

    • Sarah Tobias says:

      I love dog stories. With three dogs in the house, I kind of live them too, but that’s not what I meant.

      As a librarian, I noticed dog stories have great universal appeal.

    • authoraileenstewart says:

      (B.O.N.E.) Stands for Breeds Over National Emergencies the F.B.I of the hound world. I agree the title isn’t the zippiest, but it pays homage to one of my favorite British spy characters John Steed of The Avengers. And 7 to 10 sounds good. Sometimes it’s hard to know which age range to choose :0) Since this is a pitch (hook) for a future query, I was trying to limit myself to how much information I provide. My synopsis would contain a bit more info. Thanks for the input!

  10. authorlaurablog says:

    YES! Charlie, my Goldendoodle, and I look forward to reading this. I never read the other comments so my response is only based on the pitch. A few thoughts, I love the idea of a dog MC but the name Steed makes me think of a horse. I want to know what BONE stands for and think it should be in the pitch. Also, chapter books have a sweet spot of 7-9 and middle grade is usually 8-12. You might want to read other chapter books and MG to clarify which category your book fits into. Good luck!

    • authoraileenstewart says:

      Thanks for the input. Others mentioned the 7 to 10 age range. When Susanna asked me, I quickly wrote down 8 -12 as I had recently been working on a MG, lol. (B.O.N.E.) Stands for Breeds Over National Emergencies the F.B.I of the hound world. I agree the title isn’t the zippiest, but it pays homage to one of my favorite British spy characters John Steed of The Avengers. You are the second person to mention this, so I may have to rethink his name :0)

  11. matthewlasley says:

    I think this is a yes. Well written. Good pace. Insights the imagination.

    I like the word “befuddled”. I do not think it is too high. The pitch is to adults. In the story, there is hopefully context for such words.

    I also like the play on words with “rash” having multiple meanings. It explains the frustration of the multiple crimes.

    I would love to know a bit more about the kind of crimes. Are they related? Are they building to something more? Are they petty and seemingly unrelated?

    Also, I hope there is a “flea bitten motel” in the story. LOL

    I too have been writing a chapter book and it is difficult to see the difference between CB and MG. In my opinion, this book sounds like a CB with a reading audience of 7-10. That also means you are keeping the word count down to as low as 15,000 and topping out around 25,000. Some chapter books, especially in series and geared towards the lower end, can be 9-10,000.

    Good luck with the story.

  12. acongdon85 says:

    Hello! I just started following the blog and my first Would You Read It Wednesday. I would say a yes to this book. I agree with the above mentioned age range. My son is five, but interest level around 7 and he would like this book. Is this set in the world of animals or are humans there too? I think the title could be changed to draw readers in. What are the thieves taking? Or emphasize the seriousness of the situation. I think children will be drawn in by what is a stake. And why is Professor Steed the only one who can solve it? What special skill set does he have exactly? What makes him so special to solve the crime and not someone else who worked at B.O.N.E.? Hopefully that helps.

      • authoraileenstewart says:

        Thanks for all the input. There are no humans just hounds and Professor Steed is the one to solve the mystery because of his position at the school. The school and someone on the faculty are involved. I am rethinking many things thanks to everyone’s comments :0)

      • Ashley Congdon says:

        You’re welcome. It’s Ashley. Still figuring out the settings. Hopefully my name will show soon.

  13. Margaret Welwood (@MargaretWelwood) says:

    Sounds cute and interesting. A small nit to pick: don’t pitches often end with a question? What would you think of something like this?
    Will John Steed sniff out the thieves before the cheese goes moldy/Lady Rottweiler has to host the dinner party with paper plates, or … ?

    • Susanna Leonard Hill says:

      The crew is divided on the issue of questions in a pitch, Margaret. Some people think they’re okay, others think they’re a no-no. So it’s kind of a matter of preference. But I like your suggestions and thank you for chiming in to help Aileen!

      • authoraileenstewart says:

        Thanks for stopping by Margaret. As Susanna mentioned the industry is split. I have been told by agents not to use questions, but just yesterday I read a submission where the agent recommended a question :0)

  14. Katie Williams says:

    Hi Aileen! Yes, I would read this! My only suggestions are to maybe give a bit more detail on how John Steed sniffs out the thieves, and how his position at Hound Academy helps him. If you’re tight on space, you could pick one or the other to expand on, but a little more detail somewhere in there would add a lot more intrigue. Great job!

  15. Maria Marshall (@MariaMarshall_) says:

    I would read this. I love dogs & mysteries. I like the title well enough, b/c I am assuming that you are hoping for this to be a series i.e. “Professor Steed and the . . .” Since Steed will presumably be “always” be chasing “Elusive Thieves” (as few try to get caught), is there something unique to this book that you can put at the end of the title and thus give you botha format and room for susequent books?

    The “A to Z Mysteries” is another possible mentor CB series to look at.

    Maybe change “everyone in” to police and “at a loss” to baffled? I agree with the others that you should explain B.O.N.E. (if only to say “the canine version of the FBI”). I also wonder how being a “professor at Hound Academy” helps him. Can you add either a hint of the culprits, or a red herring, and just a bit about what is stolen? That would make this irresistable.

    Best of luck!

  16. Genevieve Petrillo says:

    A dog who is a detective AND a professor? What an overachiever! I love it and I am a definite YES – I would read this (if I could read). I’m also curious about what B.O.N.E stands for. I would like to join. Or eat it. And I wonder if the whole town is dogs or humans or both. Good luck with this one.

    Love and licks,

    • authoraileenstewart says:

      Thank you so much for sharing Cupcake’s input Ms. Genevieve; it made me smile. (B.O.N.E.) Stands for Breeds Over National Emergencies the F.B.I of the hound world. A world completely made up of different types of hounds :0)

  17. teresa.mi.schaefer says:

    Happy New Year and Wednesday, Susanna and company! After a bit of a hiatus from active involvement in the PB social/educational arena, I have made 2019 my year to re-engage. So, feeling a bit rusty on pitches, here are my thoughts: Aileen, I would read this but probably more from the concept than the pitch. You could probably tell us less about Steed and include a bit more on the some quirky features of the heists (i.e., types of item stolen, clues at the scene, or lack of usual types of clues, possible suspects). I also love that this is going to be about a dog community, but wouldn’t have known that from the pitch itself. I’m unsure how to use that in the pitch, but it may be a detail that would excite even more readers. You have received some wonderful suggestions above. Some that really resonated with me include — Great use of fun doggy language. We might not need to know exactly what B.O.N.E. is in the pitch if you can use some language like what might be included in referring to the F.B.I. to help us see the likeness. There was a bit of confusion noted with steed and hound. This might be where you have to cut one of your “darlings” to improve clarity. Good luck with this!

  18. Jennifer G Prevost says:

    Yes, I would definitely read it! I have a son who will be ready for CB soon and I’ve been searching for something that would appeal to him. This would be perfect! I hope you don’t mind, I was chewing over your pitch, which I love, and everyone’s comments, then my wheels started spinning… here’s what came to me:

    There’s a crime spree in Collarsville! The police, left scratching their heads know there’s only one hound for the job, Academy professor (and undercover B.O.N.E. agent) John Steed. But even Professor Steed will have to keep his nose to the ground to sniff our these tricky thieves.

  19. tiffanydickinson says:

    Susannah, I would read this. It sounds as if there’s a lot of action and of course, dogs. I love the B.O.N.E. acronym and am curious what it stands for. One thing I suggest changing is the name of the town, Collarsville. It’s a cute play on words, but it tripped me up. I kept thinking it was Collinsville. Perhaps Houndsburg would work. Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  20. Rene` Diane Aube says:

    Happy New Year Aileen and Susanna! It is energizing to be back to my writing life after the holidays. And that cake! YUM!! Perfect bedtime snack!

    Aileen, I would read your story. It sounds adorable and super fun. I’ve read through the other comments and you have tons of good stuff to contemplate. I will say that the name Steed did not automatically propel my mind to horses, though I can see how it could happen. I also think that using even more dog-type language would help clarify some of the questions, even though you have lots of clever doggy words packed in (pun fully intended). 😀 I like the agency name, B.O.N.E. but agree that it needs a little explanation, somehow. *It’s too late at night for my brain to come up with how, though…sorry* :/

    I like the suggestion from Jennifer Prevost for a possible re-wording. That said, I won’t add any more to this post as I think I’m starting to ramble. I wish you the best with this pitch and look forward to seeing your book on the shelves in the future. 🙂

  21. heavenlyhashformoms says:

    What a fun , kid-appealing book!! I thought the excited tone in Jennifer’s suggested pitch gave it a little extra punch, which may be just what it needs to entice an editor/agent. I love the idea of it being set in a dog world. I seriously can’t wait to read it!!! Good luck!!

  22. authoraileenstewart says:

    Hey Everyone! I just wanted to let you all know how helpful I feel your comments were and let you see my updates. I have changed the name of the main character, reworked my pitch (or hook sentence) and added a synopsis for those of you who wanted the longer more chocked full of facts version.

    Title: Professor Hound and the Elusive thieves

    Hook: When solving a rash of burglaries associated with Hound Academy leaves local Collarsville police at a loss, John B. Hound steps in to try and sniff out the thieves and recover the stolen goods by using both his position as a professor and his secret agent skills.

    Synopsis: John B. Hound, Professor at the Collarsville Academy and secret agent working for Breeds Over National Emergencies or B.O.N.E. for short is on a mission to sniff out thieves and recover stolen goods. His job_ to determine why recent burglaries only occur in the homes of wealthy Hound Academy students, if any of the Hound Academy staff are involved, and who sent the perfumed note containing a clue. Will Professor Hound decipher the note and other clues in time or will the sneaky culprits outsmart him and get away with the valuables?

  23. Lynn Baldwin says:

    HI, Aileen. I was just about to comment on the original post when I saw your update, which is definitely clearer than the original. I have a few more ideas for consideration. I tend to like concise so this may be omitting details you feel are important, so take what works and ignore the rest.

    When police are puzzled by a rash of burglaries targeting Hound Academy students, amateur canine detective John B. Hound steps in to sniff out the thieves and recover the stolen goods.

    • authoraileenstewart says:

      Thanks for the input Ms. Lynn. The only problem is he is a secret under cover agent whose day job is professor at Hound Academy, so amateur detective wouldn’t work. And expensive works of art and jewels are being stolen from the homes of wealthy students, not the students themselves.

  24. jeanjames926 says:

    Happy New Year Susanna! Great to see you back. Aileen, sounds like such a cute detective story, and having a hound myself, I see a lot of potential. Although the only thing my hound sniffs out are crumbs on my floor. Best of luck on your story.

  25. viviankirkfield says:

    All I can say is that any book about John Steed (AKA Patrick Mcnee AKA Mrs. Peel’s AKA Diana Rigg’s cohort AKA one of my all time favorite shows from the 60’s AKA The Avengers) is a book I would read!!!
    I love your pitch…and I think you got amazing feedback already in the comment thread above to help you make it even better. LOVE this idea, Aileen.
    And Susanna…thanks for the calorie free yummy treat!!!

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