Would You Read It Wednesday #331 – Cupid’s Tango (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor (May)

Tra la!

It’s Would You Read It Wednesday!

And to start off the festivities we have Straight From The Editor for May!

You will recall that the May Pitch Pick was won by Andrew with his PB pitch for Dorian And The Silent Piano.

His pitch was:

Dorian And The Silent Piano (PB ages 6-8)

In a search to find his talent, Dorian becomes captivated 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 that talent can be one of heart.

Here are editor Erin Molta’s comments:

This looks quite intriguing. The only thing I would suggest is that you SHOW us HOW he hears the music. I’d even simplify it a bit, as I show below, and make it less about talent but doing something despite a so-called disability..

Dorian becomes captivated by an old man playing a piano with great gusto and joy. But–Dorian is deaf. Guided by the old man, Dorian struggles to read music, hear notes (by how? Does he feel the vibrations?), and learn proper hand movement across the keys. As their special friendship develops, Dorian learns that even if you can’t hear the music you can make beautiful sounds….

As always, I find Erin’s thoughts interesting and helpful!  I hope you all do too!

And now, I think it’s time for Something Chocolate!  How do you feel about Loaded Cowboy Cookies?  They are chewy oatmeal cookies filled with chocolate, coconut and pecans! Absolutely impossible to resist!!

Loaded Cowboy Cookies

And given that they are made out of oatmeal they are obviously breakfast! 😊 Also, a lot like trail mix or granola bars in case you need a snack for your summer outings! 😊  I guess they’re called Cowboy Cookies because they are hearty and portable for taking out on the range!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Nancy who says, “I’m Nancy Riley, writer, competitive adult figure skater, and retired wildlife biologist. I’m a member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of SCBWI and live on 35 acres of Colorado heaven north of Denver with my husband, two horses, and a happy dog named Scout. When not writing, I’m out and about with Scout or figure skating!  ”

Find her on the web at:

 nancyrileynovelist.com
Twitter: @NancyDereyRiley
Facebook: Nancy Derey Riley
Instagram: Nancy Derey Riley

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Cupid’s Tango

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

The Pitch: Cupid’s heart is not into step dancing, the traditional dance of the prairie chickens. He doesn’t like it. He won’t practice enough, but he must do well in his flock’s dance competition to win a date to the All Species Ball. When his first contest is a disaster, he decides to find his own dance style. His heart comes alive when he discovers the tango. He wows the crowd at the Second Chance Dance, but will it be enough to impress the judges and win a date?

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 Nancy 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!

Nancy is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to going out on the range just so I have a reason to bring Cowboy Cookies!  I’m not sure where I’m going to find a range on Blueberry Hill, but that is a mere technicality! 😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

 

26 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #331 – Cupid’s Tango (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor (May)

  1. Corine Timmer says:

    Horses, figure skating, dogs, and 35 acres. Wow! That sounds amazing. Love those oatmeal cowboy cookies, Susanna 🙂

    Nancy, this sounds fun and I love the idea of an All Species Ball. I can picture the Illustrations in my mind. However, I was a little confused at first. It was not clear to me that Cupid is a prairie chicken. Perhaps you could start your pitch with: Cupid the prairie chicken wants to enter the . . . dance competition to win a place to the All Species Ball but there is a problem. Cupid doesn’t like his flock’s traditional dance. He can’t maintain the rhythm and keeps stepping on his dance partner’s toes. (When he is just about to give up) When he hears a tango on the radio . . . In addition, when you say Cupid finds his own dance style I would expect a hybrid style that he has made up (not necessarily a traditional tango). Perhaps the traditional dance of the prairie chickens can have a fun name? Cupid’s unique dance could be called the Frango (frango means chicken in Portuguese). It just popped to mind, as I live in Portugal. You get the idea 🙂 or you could start like this: Cupid the prairie chicken wants to take his sweetheart to the All Species Ball but there is a problem, Cupid has two left feet—or so he thought. With a couple of revisions I would definitely read it! Good luck!

    • Nancy Riley says:

      Thanks, Corine. I originally started, with, Cupid, the prairie chicken, … But was trying to change it up a little. So, different isn’t always better! Lol! I love the word, Frango and that it means chicken! Cupid gets his name from the scientific name of the greater prairie-chicken, Tympanuchus cupido. Thanks for helping my story take flight!

      • Corine Timmer says:

        How interesting, Nancy. I didn’t know the scientific name for prairie-chicken.

    • asiqueira1307 says:

      I agree with starting with saying Cupid is a prairie chicken. Also, if this is how they court, a mix of fiction and NF would be amazing. Maybe include back matter. Show in your pitch, this book also teaches about this fact and it will be more marketable, since NF now is the bomb, right? And the frango idea, hilarious.

      • Nancy Riley says:

        Hi,
        Sorry I missed your comment until now! The story as written does have back matter on the prairie ecosystem and the other birds that Cupid encounters in his search for a dance he likes. Maybe I should call it Cupid’s Frango Tango!

  2. Wendy says:

    Hi Nancy – chickens and dancing are always a fun combo! What I worry about are the stakes. Will kids this age connect with “finding a date”? Perhaps others will feel differently or have a helpful suggestion. Just my initial thoughts as I have to head out the door!

    • Nancy Riley says:

      Thanks Wendy. That is a good thought. I look forward to hear what others think about whether finding a date is not compelling enough for kids!

  3. sarahheturadny says:

    I would read it and I want to know more about the all species ball. Also if he finds his own dance, and this is just a thought, should he maybe invent his own dance rather than settle on something that might have already showed up in the competition?? Still I’m very curious to read it! Good luck!!

    • Nancy Riley says:

      Thanks Sarah. The dance competition is only for prairie chickens to get a date for the all species ball. It is actually how prairie chickens court in real life. The males dance and the females pick their partners. It is pretty cool to watch and sometimes comical. In the story, Cupid searches out other birds and their dances, trying to find something he likes. Sandhill cranes teach him the tango. I like the idea of him putting his own spin on the dance. Thanks so much!

  4. Nancy Riley says:

    Thanks, Corine. I originally started, with, Cupid, the prairie chicken, … But was trying to change it up a little. So, different isn’t always better! Lol! I love the word, Frango and that it means chicken! Cupid gets his name from the scientific name of the greater prairie-chicken, Tympanuchus cupido. Thanks for helping my story take flight!

  5. ptnozell says:

    The cowboy cookies sound yummy, Susanna! Anything that starts with oatmeal says breakfast to me.

    Nancy, I love the premise of your story. I agree with the comments above, though, on the tweaks that could clarify the stakes. Until I read your comments, for instance, I had no idea the ball was for different species of birds & that it involved mating rituals – I was picturing a chicken dancing with a cow. You may want to mention one or two other bird species in the pitch, especially the one that tangoes. To free up space to add this, I think you can delete the sentence about not liking the step dance, as it’s obvious from the content.
    I hope this helps – this sounds like a fascinating story!

    • Nancy Riley says:

      Thanks! This is a shortened version of my query letter hook and book. Guess I need to add a bit more detail. Cupid asks 3 different birds about their dances. It is the sandhill cranes that teach him to tango. Thanks for the help!

  6. matthewlasley says:

    Hi Nancy! I love the concept having watched the dance of prairie chickens.

    For me, I think there are three things that fall short for me.
    In the opening sentence, it is not clear immediately that we are talking about prairie chickens. Cupid is a well known name and associated with a particular holiday, so when you start off with that name, an image is already in your mind.
    “He won’t practice enough” is a little clunky to me. I think it is because it is a change of tenses. Everything has been in the past tense, but this is the future (will not).
    The final thing is the word “date.” This is not a concept for the target audience. Getting chosen to be a part of something special is, so I think you can simply go with the fact that he simply wants to be picked.

    I really think that this story could be a lot of fun to read with kids as I can see the imagery and hope to be able to read it one day.

    • Nancy Riley says:

      Thanks Matthew! Lots to think about. Maybe I need to say something like; His name might mean love, but Cupid, the prairie chicken, does not love to step dance. Thanks for catching the change of tense too. I need to rethink the idea of getting a date, since that seems to be a stumbling block. I like the idea of him being picked or winning maybe a ticket to the All Species Ball. I appreciate your insights!

  7. Christina Julian (@christin_julian) says:

    I enjoy the play on words with the name Cupid and dancing not being in his heart. The idea of an all species dance ball sounded very intriguing to me and got my mind racing. I’m wondering if you should find a way to lead with that in a punchy playful way? I also think the statement “when his first contest is a disaster…” could be another strong starting point. I love the idea of a second chance dance, because wouldn’t we all love a “do over.” I agree with one of the other comments about stakes, that was one of the first things that jumped out, that I didn’t get a true sense of the stakes. To me it seems like the story is about an internal conflict. About Cupid not being good enough. But this wasn’t fully clear to me. I think you have lots to work with and many directions you could take this pitch and story!

    • Nancy Riley says:

      HI Christina, Thanks! In real life, male prairie chickens dance on their courtship grounds while the hens watch. The hens pick their beaus. So, in my story, the hens are the judges. I see the point that maybe a date is too mature a theme and that perhaps it is better if he wins tickets to the Ball or something. He finds a dance he loves when he searches for it and he’s willing to put in the effort for a dance he likes. Spoiler – the judges don’t like it because in isn’t the dance he’s supposed to be doing, but his friend, a female prairie chicken, loves it! So, he fails the judges, but gets the girl. Lots to think about. Thanks again!

  8. Katie Williams says:

    Hi Nancy! Thanks for sharing your pitch, and can I please come visit your horses sometime?

    I am a maybe right now, only because the beginning of your pitch was a bit confusing to me. Because of the MC’s name, I was thinking Cupid the love angel, then it mentioned prairie chickens and I got really confused. I also agree that “getting a date” by impressing someone is probably beyond the scope of most picture book readers–maybe the stakes could be something like winning free dance lessons, or proving to the other animals that prairie chickens can dance (like Giraffe’s Can’t Dance). I think the illustrations would be hysterical, and I would definitely read if there was a little more detail and the flow was smoothed out a bit. Good luck!

    • Nancy Riley says:

      Hi Kate,
      Sure, drop on by and feed the horses! My dog, Scout, will want attention too! I just read Giraffes Can’t Dance at the Denver Zoo a week ago. So cute and it has some similarity with Cupid. Cupid has talent, but he’s young and doesn’t like the dance he’s supposed to do. I suggested above that maybe I should say something like; His name might mean love, but Cupid, the prairie chicken, does not love to step dance. . . I also like the idea that the stakes are a ticket to the Ball, rather than winning a date. That has always bothers me a bit. That’s why this is such a good thing to get all this great input! thanks again for the help!

  9. Robyn Campbell says:

    Hey, Sus, xoxo
    Nancy, I would definitely read it, and I have. 🙂 It is such a great story. I disagree with the commenter that said the stakes weren’t high enough or that they didn’t get a true sense of the stakes. The chance to win is something everyone can understand. Especially a second chance. I do think the first two sentences are essentially the same. I believe your first sentence can be stronger. I wonder if that first sentence should center on Cupid’s heartache at losing the first dance. Then continue on about the second chance. xoxo

    • Nancy Riley says:

      Thanks, Robyn! Good point about the first couple sentences. Writing queries and pitches often are harder to write than the story for me! Lol! I’m so glad to get all the feedback to help me improve this. Like Cupid, there is always a second chance to do better!

  10. Katie Engen says:

    Yep! Fun, original premise. Also fun knowing that most likely your competitive skating informs a lot in this story. Love the barnyard setting. Not a huge fan of the name of the All Species Ball; Second Chance Dance is better. First sentence sets the stage, but it’s a bit meh. Maybe flip it so Cupid is watching the dance and we see/feel his distaste. Not sure why the character’s name is Cupid (species related? is the book seasonal?)

    • Nancy Riley says:

      Hi Katie, thanks for your thoughts. The story starts with him watching the competition waiting his turn and nervous because he hasn’t practiced enough. I originally called the big dance the Prairie Ball, but opted for the alliteration. Maybe there’s a better name out there than either of those! Cupid is na ed for his species name, Tympanuchus cupido, so not a seasonal story. Since I’m a wildlife biologist, I also provide back matter on the prairie ecosystem and the birds that Cupid meets in his search for his dance style. Thanks again for your thoughts!

  11. Corine Timmer says:

    Nancy, perhaps instead of using the word date, Cupid could have a crush (or something like that). Just a thought.

    • Nancy Riley says:

      Cool idea. Or maybe dance partner? There is a friend (who is a girl prairie chicken) in the story and, well I don’t want to give it all away! Wink!

  12. Nancy Riley says:

    Thanks, Susanna for the opportunity to stretch my pitching wings! And thanks everyone for your helpful comments. Now comes the harder part to incorporate these ideas into the perfect pitch!

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