Would You Read It Wednesday #325 – How My Sister Says, “I Love You” (PB)

Today feels like a good day for writing, doesn’t it?

After our work here is done, let’s all set our timers for 15 minutes and see what fabulous ideas come to us and what stories we’re going to write today!

In case anyone needs a little starting point, how about:

– Snow White from the poison-apple-pedaling witch’s POV (or maybe Grumpy’s POV – that could be fun 😊)

– begin with: Edward liked to get his own way.  (or use the general idea of a child who wants his/her ow way…)

– begin with: A toad was hopping down the street – hop hop kerplop! –  so Ursula followed it.  (or use the general idea of following something into adventure, trouble, mystery, an unexpected surprise, whatever…)

– what would give a monster nightmares?

– a story where a thief leaves an “I’m sorry” note

And because creativity requires fuel, I recommend Something Chocolate!  Chocolate-Dipped Cannoli Cupcakes sound like they’d be very helpful in generating creativity, don’t you think? 😊

Chocolate-Dipped Cannoli Cupcakes

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 6.48.43 PM

Recipe HERE (including helpful video) at Tasty


I don’t know about you, but I think one bite of that cupcake equals inspiration! Two bites will probably be genius, and by the time the last crumb is gone I’m pretty sure we’ll all have written New York Times Bestsellers today!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Keely. Keely is a southern transplant pioneering in the Inland Northwest (can it still be pioneering if we live in suburbia? Please tell me it can!) and writing books for children when she isn’t shoveling snow. She grows zinnias in her garden boxes in the summer and raises 4 beautiful crazies alongside her husband. Having a daughter with profound disability continues to teach her every day. Some days she’s more open to learning than others.

Find her on the web at

Blog: kidlitcorner.wordpress.com
Twitter: @keelywrites1
FB: Keely Pitts Leim


Here is her pitch:

Working Title: How My Sister Says, “I Love You”

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 5-8)

The Pitch: Evangeline’s sister cannot use her voice to speak. In “How My Sister Says, ‘I Love You’” Evangeline begins to interpret different non-verbal, unconventional expressions of love and how to offer them in return to her elder sister.

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 Keely 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 September, so you have time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta! (No harm in reserving your space now, though – they do fill up!)

Keely is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the first ever Sullivan County Youth Book Festival this weekend!  If you live in the area, come join the fun!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


31 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #325 – How My Sister Says, “I Love You” (PB)

  1. Corine Timmer says:

    Keely, I love the idea behind this book and your opening sentence. The latter is concise. We immediately know the main character’s name and the problem. After that your voice and choice of words seem too grown up. It would be nice to learn more about Evangeline’s struggle to communicate with her sister (how does she feel for example?) and what the non-verbal expressions of love are. Can you give us a little more information without giving it all away? I hope this is helpful. With a couple of changes to your pitch I would be a YES! Good luck. Love the name Evangeline as well as Evangelina.

  2. https://katiewalsh.blog/ says:

    Hi, Keely! Yes, I would read this story. I like your first line and I’m wondering if instead of going into the title in the second line, give the reader a little peek into the plot of the story. She can’t speak, then what? How does she decide to interpret her? Is there something that happens? How does she overcome communication breakdown? These are thoughts I’d love to know more about before reading the book. Instead of saying “interpret different non-verbal, unconventional expressions of love” perhaps just say “Evangeline’s nonverbal sister struggles to find her voice when communicating until …. Hope this helps. Best of luck!

    • KeelyWrites says:

      Sorry….that was intended for Katie above. Sorry for the rogue post to you.

      I really appreciate you taking a look at this and your detailed thoughts. I will definitely incorporate these suggestions into the pitch. Grateful for your kind comments!

  3. ptnozell says:

    Susanna, if that chocolaty breakfast doesn’t inspire some terrific writing today, I don’t know what will!

    Keely, I definitely would read this story, and I know many others who would, too: my local librarians always ask me for picture book recommendations about differently-abled children.

    I agree with the others, though, that more about the conflict would help. I also didn’t realize until the very end that the sister is older. As babies and young toddlers are also non-verbal, it would help to realize at the outset that the non-verbal sister is older.

    I think you have a very special picture book here, written from first-hand experience and your heart. I very much look forward to reading your revised pitch and picture book.

      • KeelyWrites says:

        No idea how my comments were reordered, but I did want to tell you that your comment was very encouraging. Thank you for taking the time to weigh in with this. I will definitely get to work incorporating your feedback on this pitch. Very grateful for your insights!

  4. authorlaurablog says:

    Yes, this sounds like a great idea. What if you added ‘older’ to the opening sentence so that we know Evangeline is the little sister. I’m also curious about Evangeline’s age. It would be a different book if she’s a toddler than if she’s in the age range of the audience you’ve mentioned. Maybe include it in the pitch as well.
    Best of luck with this!

      • authorlaurablog says:

        I’m so happy it helped and I was imagining around six because of the recommended ages. I think if you can fit it in the pitch it will help sell your idea. I’ve worked with nonverbal students and I think this has a good audience.

  5. Katie Engen says:

    The idea is simple, yet offers so much depth – lovely. I would omit the title in the first line (don’t repeat info in such a brief format). I’d like to know: What is the primary or most poignant problem stemming from not speaking? Adding specificity about at least a few daily living constraints would bring the story closer to home for many readers, I’d think. Also, the wording makes me wonder is Evangeline the main character or the sister? Either way, arrange the pitch’s verb phrases to give primary agency to that person.

    • KeelyWrites says:

      Great thoughts, Katie! Thank you for taking such a detailed look at it. I will mull over these thoughts and get straight to work! Well, almost straight to work. Mom duties call, after all! 😉

  6. fspoesy says:

    I think you have a great concept here Keely, but I think the pitch itself turns the story into a maybe, mostly for reasons mentioned above by other commenters. That said, with some easy changes I think it would be a definite yes for agents and editors alike. First, no need to re-state the title. It just takes up precious pitch space that could be used to pull the agent or editor into the story. Next, we need to know the conflict. This pitch just lists what happens. But we need an emotional connection to Evangeline. Does she fear her big sister doesn’t love her? Does she not know how to figure out if her sister loves her? I think you could even add conflict by changing the working title to “Does My Sister Love Me?” or something in that vein. Depending on how far you want to ramp up the internal emotional conflict you could go with something like “My Sister Doesn’t Love Me!”. I think both would pull an agent or editor in and make them want to read more about how Evangeline begins to interpret the signs that show she is loved by her sister. Best of luck with the pitch and the story.

    • KeelyWrites says:

      Thank you for weighing in here! You’ve given me some great additional feedback to consider. Thank you for taking the time to offer your valuable suggestions!

  7. matthewlasley says:

    I like the concept. It makes me think of the Helen Keller story.

    I had the same reaction to learning that she is the younger of the two. That makes me wonder more why sister can not use her voice. Is there some other disease or disability? That of course does not need to be flushed out in the pitch, but it does pull me away from the “oooh ahhh” moment that you get with her trying to communicate with her sister.

    This is a nit picky thing, but I would change the “cannot use” in the first line to “doesn’t have.” It builds more sympathy and makes that character less passive.

    I want to hear Evangeline’s voice, her longing to “speak” to her sister; she “wishes.” Perhaps make it a point that since they cannot express their love in a typical way, that their love is not typical.

    I like your title. I think for the target audience and the market (which will be narrow), the artwork will sell your title. Good luck.

    • KeelyWrites says:

      Hi, Matthew!

      Thanks so much for these thoughtful comments you’ve offered.
      1. I will definitely clarify the ages up front.
      2. the cannot use might be off-putting, and I can reconsider that. In our case we couldn’t use “doesn’t have” because she does have a voice (vocal chords she can use in protest noises, etc.) and yet she is non-verbal (cannot use her voice to formulate words). So I want to honor the voice that she has, limited as she is in using it.
      3. I will work on Evangeline’s voice in the pitch. Thanks for this!

      Thanks again for helping me think through these elements.

  8. Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez says:

    PS omg, Susanna, those cupcakes look AMAZING and I adore all your story starters here. We just had a cold snap here in CA, with depressing rain taboot and this is the first day the sun is up in the morning. Your story stories made me laugh and smile brighter❤️ excited to get some writing done today

  9. Nicole Loos Miller (@beautify_life) says:

    Keely – I’m a YES! As a social worker who works with young children (including non-verbal children), this appeals to me very much and is something I would love to share with my students. I agree with adding in Evangeline’s “big” sister in the first line. I liked your word choice “cannot use her voice to speak” if only because I’ve learned that every child finds a way to make their voice heard – even if it’s not in spoken words. 🙂 As far as conflict/tension/growth – maybe a phrase like “when Evangeline realizes/notices,…. , she….. and learns…” would spell it out a bit more for readers?
    I’m grateful you wrote this story and I can’t wait to read it to my students someday! ❤

  10. authoraileenstewart says:

    Yes, I would read this. Right up front we know what the younger sister’s problem is: communicating love to her older sister. A pitch should be a few sentences (not to be confused with a synopsis), so I wouldn’t bother to put the title of your story in your pitch as it takes up unnecessary room you can use to tell more about what’s going on in the story. We know the problem, I assume she wants to be able to express that love, but what are the obstacles and how does she feel about the matter?

  11. Juliana Lee says:

    A definite YES! However, if I may offer some constructive criticism, I would rewrite the pitch. The first sentence is completely unnecessary, and in a world of concise picture books where every word counts don’t start wasting them in your pitch. I would begin with the situation and then give the title last, this leaves the reader with a positive message of love. For example: Evangeline begins to interpret non-verbal, unconventional expressions of love and how to respond in How My Sister Says, ‘I Love You’.

  12. Katie Williams says:

    Ok, first of all–those cupcakes brought tears to my eyes. I need them.

    Secondly, I am a yes for your pitch Keely. The pitch gives a very clear and concise summary of the story and you know exactly what it’s going to be about without giving too much away. I do agree with the others that it could be less grown-up sounding and include a bit more of the plot and story arc. Are there are any stakes, any funny/sad/scary miscommunications that occur? Great job though, I’d love to see what you end up with!

  13. tiffanydickinson says:

    Hi Keely and Susanna! Better late than never, I guess. My answer is, “Yes, I would definitely read this story.” It’s a timely topic and could be written and illustrated so beautifully. The pitch could use some shine. Perhaps asking the question, “How can Evangeline better communicate with her sister?” or “Evangeline realizes that she can make a difference in her sister’s life.” The age part didn’t bother me. For some reason, it was no surprise to me that the disabled sister was older. Also, perhaps you could add something about their strained relationship, or Evangeline is jealous of the attention given her sister, or she wants a big sister to help her as she sees others do – just some ideas to increase tension. Great job! Thanks for sharing.

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