Would You Read It Wednesday #326 – Dorian And The Silent Piano (PB)

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed your long weekend!

In my neck of the woods, many families got extra-long weekends with kids off from school Thursday, Friday, Monday and even Tuesday because of “give back days” – the ones that didn’t get used for snow days this winter – so there was plenty of celebrating around here! 😊

I spent Saturday at the first ever Sullivan County Youth Book Festival which was very nice in spite of a little rain in the afternoon.  My friends and fellow authors Nancy Furstinger, Iza Trapani, and Katey Howes were there as well, and I got to meet Colleen Kosinski, a frequenter of this blog whose art placed well in the illustrator contest I ran a few years ago, so that made it extra fun!

Now I think we can all have some extra fun by indulging in Something Chocolate!  How do you feel about Chocolate-Filled Banana Muffins?  Sounds like a healthy breakfast to me!!! 😊😊😊

Chocolate-Filled Banana Muffins

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Recipe HERE (including helpful video) at Tasty

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It is important to fortify ourselves with whole grains and fruit rich in potassium so our minds are sharp enough for the business at hand!  (Not to mention chocolate which makes everything better! 😊)

Today’s pitch which comes to us from Andrew who says, “I am currently a self-published author who has taken a hiatus from the publishing world to develop my craft and seek representation the more traditional way. I have been working on many manuscripts. Mostly picture books and a few middle grade ideas as well.  I live in Texas with my three fur babies (One dog and two cats). My spouse and I are currently in the process of adoption and I want to create the books that I never got to read growing up. I love a good DIY project and burning water. I love everything from chocolate to Brussels Sprouts, but have never tried chocolate Brussels Sprouts…do they make those? I’d probably eat those too.”

Find him on the web at www.author-andrewfairchild.com

Here is his pitch:

Working Title: Dorian And The Silent Piano

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 6 – 8)

The Pitch:  When Dorian sees an old man in the window playing a piano with great gusto and joy, he longs to learn. There’s just one problem-Dorian is deaf. Despite that, the man agrees to teach Dorian. As Dorian struggles to read music, hear notes, and learn proper hand movement across the keys, their friendship blossoms. Tragically, his teacher falls ill and must close his store. It is then that Dorian learns the best music is music played right from the heart.

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 Andrew improve his 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! (But it doesn’t hurt to reserve your spot now!)

Andrew is looking forward to your thoughts on his pitch!  I am looking forward to seeing Rocketman, which is coming out this weekend! (Not that I’ll necessarily get to see it right away…but hopefully before it leaves theaters.)  Did any of you see Bohemian Rhapsody?  I thought it was so amazing that now I want to see all the movies about musicians 😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


15 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #326 – Dorian And The Silent Piano (PB)

  1. Maria Marshall (@MariaMarshall_) says:

    Andrew, I love the premise; yes. I feel like this is a great summary of the story. But what I am missing in the pitch is what Dorian wants. You give us the struggle and what he learns, but not why he wants to play the piano. I think we need to know what is driving him to overcome this struggle.

    Maybe something like:
    [Trying to find his talent, or . . .] Dorian is enthralled by an old man playing a piano with great gusto and joy. There’s just one problem-Dorian is deaf. Guided by the old man, Dorian struggles to read music, hear notes, and learn proper hand movement across the keys. As their special friendship develops, Dorian learns the best music is music played from the heart.

    Hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck! 🙂

  2. Katie Engen says:

    I love PBs that take on Big Topics and/or offer several layers. This one seems to offer all of that and more. So…I’m curious how it’s all conveyed. Dense text? High-ish word count? Or a lot of detailed illustration carrying/portraying careful, succinct wording? I wonder if a text excerpt in the pitch could help settle this question. More generally, much of your pitch could be reworded with a more direct & active voice (e.g. Friendship blossoms as Dorian struggles to…). I’d like the pitch to state a bit more (& with emphasis) about Dorian’s needs, wants, and growth. We know there’s a friendship and then an illness that impact Dorian, but neither speaks directly to his motivations. Also, since deafness seems so integral, I’d like to know how Dorian progresses in managing this (esp. in light of piano playing).

    • Andrew Fairchild says:

      Katie, thank you so much for taking the time to leave some feedback. The MS as of right now is at 639 words. I feel that in order to tell this story properly it does require more than just a single layer and I feel that layers add depth to a story, even with picture books. I do feel that it might be a little wordy, so I am still in the revising mode. I hope I am able to get it to a place of good balance.

  3. Wendy says:

    Beethoven composed his greatest works when he was deaf–so I love this premise and potential for great back matter. I agree that we need to know why he longs to learn. He has probably seen other musicians before IRL or on TV, so why this guy, why this moment? Good luck!

    Wishing I had a chocolate banana muffin. (ate leftover potatoes for breakfast 😦 )

    • Andrew Fairchild says:

      Hi Wendy, thank you for your feedback. Actually this story is partly based on Beethoven. Although he didn’t loose his hearing til later on in life, I feel that the essence of him lives within the story.

  4. ptnozell says:

    Andrew, this is the type of emotion-filled picture book that I’d love to read. I do agree with the first two comments about strengthening the pitch by giving hints about Dorian’s motivation and using a more active voice, though. At the very least, I’d suggest adding “shop” before window in the first sentence – I thought the pianist was playing at home.

    Regarding the story premise more generally, a comment I’ve heard agents & editors make is that they want to know the connection of the author to the story, ie, why you are the right person to tell this story. If you have any experience working with deaf persons or are part of that community, you should mention that in the pitch. I also wonder about the characterization and experience of the piano teacher. Have you seen a blog called A is for Aging? Lindsey McDivitt encourages writers to consider aging persons as more than “old”. You may wish to consider other adjectives to describe the teacher than merely “old” in the pitch and your manuscript to broaden its appeal, especially to the many grandparents who purchase picture books for the grandkids.

    I hope these comments help as you revise your pitch.

    • Andrew Fairchild says:

      Hi and thank you so much for your feedback. When revisiting the MS, I will be more conscientious about using words like “old”. Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I actually have a very good friend who is deaf and he is part of the reason I am writing this story as well. I also play classical piano and have taught piano in my younger years. 🙂

  5. Sarah Tobias says:

    Andrew, I am a maybe. I have a few questions. You mention in your bio that you want to write books that you never got to read when you were growing up. Does this mean books that had characters like you? Or books that introduced you to characters who have different abilities than you? As suggested by PTNOZELL above, knowing your motivation about writing about a deaf character would give your story more authority.

    I recently read an article about hearing (trying to learn about grasshopper ears on their knees), I understand that we all hear through sound vibrations that move through all the tiny parts in our ears and is then converted to words and music in our brains. From what I understand about people who are deaf, they enjoy music through the vibrations and their other senses. Can Dorian hear the notes of the music he is playing? In the pitch, I would like to get a bit of deaf culture and understand language differences. Is the word “hear” used by deaf people referring to learning music or communicating? This goes back to you as an authority on this topic and if I knew through your bio that authority, I would not question your word choice.

    Regarding the teacher, do you need to describe him as old? As a person who is of grand parenting age, I am not that old and would prefer not to be called old. As an illustrator, without the word old, I might make the pianist tall and lanky swaying to to the beat of his playing, or maybe he would have a wild hair like Albert Einstein that flutters with the speed of his playing. Or maybe, the teacher is a woman with her own joyful characteristics.

    I get the sense that Dorian wants to learn to play because he feels the pleasure and joy of the man playing and wants to feel that same joy. Does he walk past the man many times and each time, he wants to feel this joy even more? Is there a way you can show with your words that Dorian is deaf without telling me? (For example: Each time Dorian walked past the music store, he could feel the vibrations of the man playing the piano. He gathered his courage and signed to the man, asking him to teach him how to play.) In the end, does he learn that playing from the heart is what gives joy to the music and the experience of playing music? I would like to know how Dorian is transformed through his experience.

    While the man becomes ill, and this appears to be the climax of the story, as it is the second to last line of your pitch, it feels to me like the story becomes about the man and not about Dorian’s growth. For the pitch, could you simplify the man’s illness and just refer to the need to close the store and keep that focused on what Dorian needs to do to move forward with his music?

    In my experiences with people who have disabilities (I have many including a sister), they want to be treated with the same care, respect, and enthusiasm as everyone else. Little phrases like, “Despite this” can make a person feel less than. I know you are striving to create a story that makes a person feel more than. The teacher could readily, happily, enthusiastically agree. Then the audience begins to believe along with everyone in the story, that yes, anyone can do it, if they want to and are willing to put in the work.

    That was a lot. I feel that your story is important and needs to be told. I hope this helps you.

    • Andrew Fairchild says:

      Hi Sarah, I want to thank you so much for your feedback. I am working hard on trimming away the fluff “so to speak” with this MS. You have provided me with so much valuable information and I will definitively keep your feedback in mind as I move forward with revisions. On a previous comment, I have mentioned that this book was inspired by so many influences in my life. I have a close friend who is deaf (he is the one who encouraged me to write a pb that would represent the community), I play classical piano and I love Beethoven. It was also inspired by the deaf Scottish percussionist, Evelyn Glennie. She did a presentation on how to truly listen that really intrigued me.

  6. Genevieve Petrillo says:

    I would definitely read this. It’s a bit of a lot for a picture book, but it sounds like you got the age range right. I think these used to be called picture storybooks. I feel Dorian’s motivation. Learning the piano always seems like SUCH a great idea. That said, hard as I tried I never got past the first grade book (although I was in college at the time) and I have no hearing loss! Good luck with it.

  7. Katie Williams says:

    Hi Andrew–I like your bio, my family still makes fun of me for “burning water” (scoff). I am definitely a ‘yes’ based on your pitch, and I think you can make it even stronger. I apologize if any of this is a repeat of comments above, I try not to read what others have said before I comment since it influences my opinions.
    Since Dorian is deaf, what it is that draws him to learn piano? Is it the passion he sees in the man, the trembling he feels from the strength of the music, or just a desire to do something nobody thinks he can? Has he always wanted to be a piano player, but been told he can’t? Maybe expand on this part a bit and also go into the stakes a bit. Will music help him express himself? What happens if he can’t learn or doesn’t connect to the music the way he wants to? Great start, I will look for this book in a few years!

  8. authorlaurablog says:

    I’m only a maybe based on your pitch but with some clarification, that could easily become a yes. Is Dorian watching the man and wondering what makes him so joyful and energetic. Does he know there is music being played? Even though he is deaf, can he feel the vibration? This needs to part of the pitch, in my opinion because it speaks to motivation.
    I’m assuming the reason your pianist is “an old man” is because you’re going to have him get sick and possibly die. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

  9. Corine Timmer says:

    If this is to be a picture book perhaps you need to narrow it down. Choose an important moment and craft that into the story. It could work as a storybook but those, from what I hear, are out of fashion (though that depends on where you live) In Portugal, where I live, storybooks are still in fashion. I would like to know what Dorian’s problem is and how the vibrations of a particular song, for example, help him resolve the problem. Perhaps he is trying to connect emotionally with a friend but can’t? Perhaps the music (vibrations of a song or particular instrument) makes him feel lighter and eventually helps him communicate with his “hearing friend” in a more intimate, interesting, and mutually beneficial way? This is an interesting subject and worthy of further thought and study, in order to pinpoint that special moment that can become a picture book. I am not sure if an old man is the right choice as a supporting character. What added value does this character bring to the story? Why is he in the story? Why would Dorian not be playing from the heart while learning from this man? After all, he loved the way the old man played with gusto and heart—something Dorian sensed immediately. The way I see it, heart is not the problem (between them). I don’t know if that makes any sense. You have chosen an interesting but BIG subject for a picture book. I love the idea though and am curious to find out what you do with it. Good luck!

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