Would You Read It Wednesday #311 – Hazel Lee Flew A Fighter Plane As Well As Any Man (PB) PLUS The October Pitch Pick!

Hey there, Peeps!

How are things in your reading, writing, teaching, library-ing, and parenting worlds today?

There is snow in my world, and it’s making me want to write a picture book about snow. The Snowy Day has been done 🙂  but there’s got to be another possibility!

snow scout

For any of you who didn’t notice the post I snuck in on Sunday evening, the guidelines for the 4th Annual Pretty Much World Famous Valentiny Contest have been posted!  And for those of you who did see it, the prize list has been updated! 🙂 So hop on over and check it out.

Then hop back here and make your choice in the October Pitch Pick!

Here are the revised pitches from our talented October participants.  Please read through them and choose the one you think is best and most deserving of a read and comments from editor Erin Molta, then vote for your pick in the poll below by Sunday February 3 at 5 PM (see? you’ll be done before the Super Bowl! 🙂 )

#1 – Katie – The Night There Was No Bedtime (PB ages 3-6)

Mischievous Bedtime decides sleeping is boring. When she and one playful little girl sneak outside for some starlit hide & seek, parents everywhere wonder if their children will ever sleep again—until Bedtime discovers the one thing that makes sleeping sound fun.

#2 – Ciara – Drop The Dragon (PB ages 4-12)

Dragon theft is a real problem for Lily.  Her best frenemy, the family dog, is a pilfering pup.  To thwart the theft of her toy dragon, Lily engineers towers, traps, and more. But when their toy disappears, these two must join forces to save their beloved dragon. 

#3 – Meghan – Weeping Willow (PB ages 4-10)

Todd is a young boy that faces an unexpected choice: one that could ruin or fulfill his new friend’s deepest dreams. She is a tree that yearns to be made into something magical, but the consequence might be too much for Todd to bear. Can he handle the pressure?

#4 – Sarah – The Punching Ballerina   (PB ages 4-8)

KC, a karate student, longs to take ballet lessons.  He weaves all things dance throughout his days, which encourages negative attention at school.  After several minor social losses, a group of kids confronts him on the playground.  He sticks up for himself peacefully, winning confidence, and gaining something else.

Thank you all in advance for your votes!  I think everyone has earned Something Chocolate! I’m on a Valentines theme apparently, started last week with the creme filled chocolate cake hearts, so let’s have heart-shaped butter cookies dipped in chocolate today!

Easy Cream Cheese Butter Valentines Cookies

That’s what I call breakfast/second-breakfast/elevenses/afternoon snack/dessert/bedtime snack/midnight snack! Perfect for dunking in coffee/hot chocolate/milk/maybe even tea 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Fanny who says, “I’m a Chinese-American writer who used to design multicultural dolls and puppets for the early childhood education market. After my retirement, it’s natural I want to write for children.”

Find her on the web at www.fannywrites.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Hazel Lee Flew A Fighter Plane As Well As Any Man

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 6-9)

The Pitch: A Chinese-American woman fighter pilot in WWII? No way! Women shouldn’t be flying alone, they are too nervous, too emotional. But Hazel Lee is not the stereotyped Chinese women!

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 Fanny 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 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!

Fanny is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to writing my snow story!  I hope I get farther with it than I did with last week’s pie story! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

Oh, and P.S.  If I manage to scrape it together, I will post a Straight From The Editor post with the 6 I have hopefully on Saturday or Sunday!

25 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #311 – Hazel Lee Flew A Fighter Plane As Well As Any Man (PB) PLUS The October Pitch Pick!

  1. Ashley Congdon says:

    Yes, I would read it. I just went and read about Hazel Lee and it would be a great picture book. I would suggest reworking the title and pitch to focus more on who she was, the obstacles she had to face, and/or her accomplishments. Just to put the focus on why she’s so special. I just read an interview about an author that’s releasing a book similar in what you’re trying to do. https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/book-giveaway-hedy-lamarrs-double-life-by-laurie-wallmark/Maybe the interview could help. Her books would be good comp titles. Good luck!

  2. Katie Engen says:

    The story premise is intriguing and the pitch’s energy is engaging. Yet I want to know more details before reading. Is it fiction or nonfiction? Is it her break-through moment, a slice of adventure, or a ‘look how far I came’ retrospective? What’s the source of the negative opinions – a specific antagonist, society, self-doubt? The title is slightly off-putting. I get that this sort of comparison fit the lingo/attitude of the era, but using it as the headline promotes a false inequality beyond its ‘sell by date.’

  3. ptnozell says:

    Susanna, I think a hot drink with those butter cookies are the perfect reason to enjoy the snow from a cozy warm kitchen while we dream of our Valentiny stories.

    Yes, I’d read this, Fanny – picture book biographies about females entering male-dominated careers are popular now, and I’m intrigued that the subject is a Chinese-American in the 1940s. I’d suggest deleting the question and you don’t need the “No Way!” Instead, grab our attention with facts about Hazel Lee at the outset: “Hazel Lee dreamed to…because or like….” Then give us a clue about the particular problems she faced: “But,…” and how she attempted to overcome them.

    Also, women in that era did not undertake combat missions. Was she actually a test pilot? If so, was she frustrated to hand the planes over to less-skilled male pilots? Give us more clues to the story and show us why we need to learn about Hazel Lee’s life and accomplishments, and you’ll have a picture book that will soar off the shelves.

  4. Ciara O'Neal says:

    Hi Hazel,
    I like the voice that comes through on your pitch and the female fighter pilot angle. So I am a yes! I agree with the other comments that I would like to know the stakes. 🙂 If woman are too flighty, could you hint how she combats this stereotype? Does she get to fly? Is this based on true story? Good luck!

  5. Nadine Poper says:

    I would read it. Sounds like a great topic for a PB biography. I agree with PTNOZELL above. Delete the question and begin with mentioning Hazel Lee from the start. Go into what she wanted, obstacles, and an attempt to resolve. Tell why she made an impact, what she contributed to our world.
    If you want to read another PB about a female pilot: DAREDEVIL: THE DARING LIFE OF BETTY SKELTON

  6. fannywrites says:

    Thank you, everybody. i’d love to read the interview of the other author who will publish a book on Hazel, but can’t access the page. I’ve struggled with the title from the beginning. My pitch is so short that I definitely have room to tell more about Hazel’s struggles and that she flew as a civilian for the military. I will revise the pitch with your suggestions.

  7. heavenlyhashformoms says:

    Hi Fannie!
    What a super cool job you had!!
    And what a great topic for your book!
    I think I might perhaps leave off the stereotypes (assume the editor/agents already know the stereotypes of that generation) and focus on her strengths…determination, courage, skill, etc that made her stand out among her generation.

  8. authorlaurablog says:

    Writing a pitch is hard. I think you likely have a great PB Biography but the pitch doesn’t show that. One “rule” that I’ve also struggled to follow is “don’t ask rhetorical questions.” Think about her story in terms of what she wants and what obstacles she faced. From looking at your website, I believe you are Chinese, so I hope this doesn’t sound odd, but referring to a stereotype seems demeaning. If you flip it and say she wanted to break a stereotype, it feels stronger.

  9. fspoesy says:

    There seems to be something wrong with those delicious looking cookies, Susanna! Or was that picture taken before the other half of each cookie was also dipped in chocolate? 🙂

    I would definitely want to read this book but I can’t honestly say the pitch is what would make me want to read it. The pitch seems to treat Hazel as a novelty rather than a strong and capable woman. As others have said, I would rethink the title, as it seems to set up/support men as the yardstick a woman must be measured against (as opposed to capability). Yes, I want to know what obstacles Hazel had to overcome to realize her dream/ambition. But I want to know what it was about Hazel, as a person, that allowed her to clear those hurdles. And how readers can see those characteristics in themselves (which I personally believe is one of the appeals of biographies). I think the words woman, pilot, WWII, Chinese/American, go a long way in selling this story idea (especially since it is about a real person). The pitch should flesh that out to show the main conflict of the story that will hook not only the reader, but hopefully an agent and an editor. Best of luck with this MS Fanny. I look forward to reading it one day.

  10. Genevieve Petrillo says:

    I would definitely read this. It sounds fun and inspiring. I think Hazel Lee Flew a Fighter Plane is enough of a title. And I think you can open with a version of your last line… “Hazel Lee was not the stereotypical Chinese woman.” Then give us a taste of her struggles and triumphs. Good luck!

  11. matthewlasley says:

    I love the idea. It makes me ask questions. But I am still a maybe.
    Many people have hit on some of the issues, so I won’t rehash them. 1000s of women flew military aircraft during WW2. There were many female test pilots as well.
    I think taking it from the angle of her being a WASP and how she overcame gender/racial inequality to do her part for the war effort. Leading off with her being a “fighter pilot” I believe will give the reader a let down when they find out she ferried planes.
    I would like to point out that in the first sentence that you call her “Chinese-American” but the last sentence you call her “Chinese.” Also, the last sentence is talking about Hazel Lee, but you use the plural “women” when it should be singular.
    I hope you take the time to rework this pitch and find Hazel’s voice in it. She will sell me on it.

  12. fannywrites says:

    Yes, I should include the fact that Hazel was a WASP. I’ve never posted a pitch before. WOW. So any good suggestions! Thank you, everybody. I have to rethink about stereotyping. So far, I feel that stating the historical fact of stereotyping and its effects is not demeaning. But other Chinese may feel differently, I’ d love to hear more comments on this issue.
    BTW, I was deflated when I learned the other PB about Hazel was sold to Disney-Hyperion for publication in 2020. As you can tell, a lot of research went into my book, including visiting Hazels grave. Wiser heads than mine, including Susanna, encouraged me to keep improving and querying mine.

  13. Sarah Tobias says:

    So many excellent comments on how you can improve your pitch. I am a yes, and would like to read about Hazel Lee.
    Think about your pitch as the 30 seconds you have in the elevator with an agent or editor. What would you want that person to know about your story? What makes your take on Hazel Lee unique? Why is this an important story to tell? I think that in our current times, it is obvious that women can be anything they want to be, women have actually been breaking barriers for a long time, and we are now shining a light on that, so you don’t have to tell anyone those things, but you do want to make sure they don’t need to research the person who you are highlighting. Focus on Hazel Lee, what makes her special, and important to our understanding of the world.

  14. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Cookies!! and chocolate. Thank you, Susanna, for always thinking of your readers’ stomachs and taste buds.Yum!

    I would read this book, but I think that Fanny needs to consider whether the “voice” of the pitch matches the “voice” of the book. Is it told in first person? Or close 3rd? Or is that the voice of the omniscient narrator? Is it completely nonfiction if any thoughts are made up? If not, it’s historical fiction. I’d steer clear of including lots of plot points, because I think it’s better to get at the theme and the stakes in the pitch. You’ve already received lots of great advice. Hang in there!

  15. Corine Timmer says:

    I would definitely read this. I think Hazel Lee is a good title. Is that her full name? The cover illustration could show she was a pilot and chinese. Perhaps start your pitch with her name: Hazel Lee was no ordinary women, she was a WASP! A Woman Airforce Service Pilot. But it was not easy for her to reach her goal and earn the respect of her family and peers. Find out how Hazel Lee broke the stereotypes of the passive woman and showed everyone she could compete in a male dominated profession. I am not sure if you should include her battle with race/ethnicity. Not because it doesn’t matter but because including it means your picture book will possibly have too much going on. Rather focus on her strengths and determination. Illustrations also talk.

  16. Jennifer G Prevost says:

    I’m getting terribly close to hitting the brakes on the rest of my day so I can make a batch of those cookies and a fresh post of coffee!

    Fanny, I would read this also! I know my daughter (9) would lap it up too. I don’t have anything different to add, you have great feedback in the comments above. Good for you for putting yourself out there and honing your pitch skills! Susanna’s readers are the nicest, most encouraging bunch you’ll ever find. Best of luck!

  17. Katie Williams says:

    I am a yes, though I do think your pitch could be jazzied up a bit. You have a great start, but I’m wondering what Hazel Lee does to fight back against this discrimination? Some specifics here would help it pop. Is she shy, brazen, scared, super determined? What characteristics define her? Also, and I apologize if somebody already said this, but I believe it should be ‘stereotypical woman’ instead of ‘stereotyped women’. Hope that helps, sounds like an awesome book!

  18. bababloggayaga says:

    Gender-busting and racial stereotype busting! That be one great kettle of fish. But I be agreeing with yer other reviewers that the pitch needs work. I has nothing new to add to what they already sez.

  19. lilyerlic says:

    Yes, I would read this book. I would like some more clarity on the pitch. I agree with what the others say. What does she do besides fly the plane? I need more specifics too.
    All the best,
    Lily

  20. jeanjames926 says:

    Oh those cookies look divine. I voted, and now it’s on to this pitch…yes, I would definitely read it. I love a strong woman, especially one who can fly. I love the WASP addition on so many levels, I would even rewrite the title to include it. The pitch needs some work, and agree with a lot of the other comments to let Hazel’s voice shine, and convince us why we should want to read about her. Best of luck to you Fanny!

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