Would You Read It Wednesday #340 – The Unexpected Suitcase (MG)

It’s Would You Read It Wednesday again and something about the title of today’s pitch made me think of that old game we used to play on long drives in the car.  I’m sure it goes by different names, but in my family we call it “I Packed My Grandmother’s Trunk.”  (e.g. I packed my Grandmother’s Trunk and in it I put something beginning with A – apple – and so on through the alphabet, and as each person took their turn they had to recite all the things that had come before) and it occurred to me out of nowhere (a lightning strike of inspiration!) that today we should start with Would You Write It Wednesday! 🙂

So why don’t we pack our October/Autumn/Halloween stories, and in them place something that begins with O (as in ghostly moans OOOOOOOHHHHH! 🙂 ) and then write an October/Autumn/Halloween story with your “O” word in it?

The obvious Halloween-related choices are October, Owl, and Orange, so feel free to write your Would You Write It Wednesday October/Autumn/Halloween story about one (or more) of those.  But I thought, why not go with something less obvious and challenge yourself to put that in a story?! So for those of you who want to go advanced, put an Orangutan in your story! 🙂

Since I have Halloween on the brain, and we are all writing our Halloweensie Contest stories (even if choose not to write about Halloween orangutans today) and therefore need serious creativity fuel, I think our Something Chocolate today should be this scarily delicious Death By Chocolate Halloween Cake!

Death By Chocolate Halloween Cake


If THAT doesn’t jump start your creative process, I don’t know what will! The amount of sugar and caffeine in a chocolate cake that dark and delicious-looking ought to be enough to set your pen on fire and have you writing like the wind!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Natalie who says, ” I have been writing for over a year now and I am loving every minute of it. I am a substitute teacher with three young kids. So, trying to write sometimes is impossible when they need my undivided attention. I am looking forward to one day having one of my own stories to be physically in my hands because I love the smell of a new book and its crisp pages.”

Find her on the web at Twiter@CohnNatalie

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Unexpected Suitcase

Age/Genre: MG Mystery (ages 8-12)

The Pitch: A clumsy, eager boy named Henry discovers a tattered suitcase under a floorboard, at grandma’s house. Figuring out the mystery of the suitcase won’t be easy, eventually, he will need to tell the truth to his grandmother, but when Henry falls inside the suitcase, he is taken on an unexpected journey back in time in the 1950s, maybe forever.

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 Natalie 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 January, which is not as far away as you might think! so sign up for a date and polish up your pitch because you could put it up for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Natalie is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to writing an Autumn/Halloween story that involves Orangutans, Oreos, and Ovaltine 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂


27 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #340 – The Unexpected Suitcase (MG)

  1. fspoesy says:

    Susanna, I’m on a low carb diet so I’m completely ignoring the description and photo of that spookily delicious looking, mouthwatering, chocolate extravaganza of chocolaty chocolate delight covered in thick creamy chocolate frosting and just waiting to be gobbled up…wait, what was I talking about?

    Natalie, I think this is a definite would read and I can easily see it as a series of books similar to The Magic Tree House, but the pitch needs work. First, you are burying the lede. The magical properties of the suitcase, Henry falling into it, and going back in time should be front and center, not what seems like an afterthought at the end. Then you could talk about how he’ll have to own up to snooping around Grandma’s house, but not before he solves the mystery of the suitcase (which you should hint at, if not mention outright) and that is if he ever makes it back.

  2. ptnozell says:

    Susanna, an orange orangutan on a quest for chocolate cake on Halloween – such possibilities!

    Natalie, I love the concept of your MG mystery. My kids loved time travel stories, and I loved reading them, too. I’d like to know more upfront, though. Where & when does this story take place? Does Henry live with his grandma or is this a visit? Does he know her well, like her, fear her, want to learn some family history? Does he time travel alone or with another person or pet? And can you give a clue or two as to what he finds when he visits the 1950s. By rearranging the order of the pitch, as suggested by FSPoesy, and adding a few adjectives and phrases, I think you can encourage us to journey with Henry and solve the mystery hiding in the suitcase.

    I hope these suggestions help. I look forward to learning more details about Henry’s quest soon.

  3. Diana Lynn Gibson says:

    I would LOVE to read this story! It has all the mystery clues that pulled me in when I read the book jackets on books in the library. I do agree with the above comments. Start with the suitcase! “Figuring out the mystery of the tattered suitcase that he finds under the bed….” I also feel that the sentences seem to run on – they are really long. The last two words don’t seem to fit but perhaps use them by saying …he is taken on an unexpected journey to the 1950’s. He may be gone forever. Do you have to use his name in the pitch? Well, hurry up and finish this book so I can read it!

  4. Rachel Armington says:

    Yes! The title is catchy. Suitcases equal travel, and what’s better than something unexpected happening on a journey?

  5. authorlaurablog says:

    Susanna, if we were able to choose how we die, “Death by Chocolate” would be my first choice! 😊

    Natalie, this book sounds amazing and combines some of my favorite things in MG: history and light magic! The pitch could be rearranged to be more intriguing. This is a suggestion, but I’m sure you can make it better based on the actual story.
    “When Henry discovers a suitcase under the floorboards at his grandma’s house, he can’t wait to discover what’s hidden inside. But when Henry falls into the suitcase, he’s transported to the 1950’s finding more secrets than he bargained for.”

    Good luck, if I’m still alive after eating the cake, I’ll be looking forward to reading it.

  6. matthewlasley says:

    I am a yes. I love the idea of the mystery. Immediately, I begin to ask questions, which is exactly what you want an editor or agent to do.

    I believe your pitch is concise and well written. Your opening sentence immediately sets up the story and the character. I would like to offer a couple of suggestions that pulled me out of the pitch. Your second sentence is very long. Also, it states the obvious: a tattered suitcase under the floorboards is a mystery and doesn’t need to be repeated. The ending is expected and doesn’t stress the importance (without being read by someone who knows its importance).
    I would break up the sentence:

    Henry wonders how the suitcase got there and if his grandmother knows. But his curiosity gets the better of him and when he opens it he travels back time with no way to get home.

  7. MD Knabb says:

    I would read it, Natalie. Sounds like a great premise. As others have mentioned, start with Henry discovering the suitcase, worrying about whether to tell or open it and then his time travel begins. Perhaps, there’s a envelope with a message about open if you dare…increases the stakes right away. Good luck with this.

  8. bababloggayaga says:

    I’m a ‘yes’ but that’s because of the possibilities, not because of the pitch. Like others have suggested, it could be shortened to just the important stuff, which is that Henry finds the suitcase at his grandma’s, falls inside, and is transported back in time. I get the sense that if he can’t figure out the mystery he’ll be stuck there forever. That could be a good last sentence.

  9. Marcia Z. Parks (@MZ_Parks) says:

    Yes, I would definitely read it.
    Is it necessary to describe Henry as eager and clumsy immediately? Is that important to the story? If it is, (and it DOES make me curious, especially the clumsy part), maybe work it in later in the pitch? I agree with others, that the pitch does need the lede stated right off: “When Henry falls inside a suitcase he found at his grandmother’s house, he is taken on an unexpected journey back in time in the 1950s, maybe forever.”

  10. Katie Engen says:

    Fun premise. I say jump right into that suitcase! Shorten the phrasing about how/where he finds it and let the mystery begin. I was unclear on why (not) telling grandma he had the suitcase was a major problem for H to solve or just a way to add dimension/characters. If the latter, skip it. If the former, details on what he stands to lose by grandma’s interference would add depth.

  11. nataliecohn0258 says:

    His grandma is going to have a yard sale at the end of summer. He is afraid she will find it and sale it before he solves the mystery. This is why he is lying about it. He has a time crunch. Do you think I should even mention about him lying to his grandma? I thought it would give him some dimension. 11-year-olds keep secrets at times even with the ones they are close too. what do you think?

    Thank you for the insight and thank you for reading it.

  12. tiffanydickinson says:

    Natalie, this is such an intriguing idea with so many different ways you could go. A suitcase is a perfect portal since everyone has one in their home and you can imagine a child jumping into theirs to see where they might go.
    Your pitch brings many questions to my mind. Why the 1950’s? Is there something personal, political, or social that needs Henry’s attention or help? Stakes: If Henry doesn’t get back to his time does he lose anything other than the obvious (is more at stake than his everyday life)? Have you considered a name other than Henry, since it’s so close to Harry? There’s much you could do with the title also. For example, The Carpetbag to XXX or The Carpetbagger’s Curse or the Scheming Suitcase (many choices to spice it up).
    I would definitely read this. I love that there’s a male protagonist, a grandma, and an unusual time choice (the ’50’s).
    Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  13. Patti Ranson (@pcakeran) says:

    There is so much to like about this query-however, as I read it, I found myself jumping back to previous sentences to clarify where this MS was going. I agree with the writers above who have suggested leading with…”When Henry falls….”
    The falling into the 1950’s piqued my interest! Hmmm? I wonder why he landed there?There must be a tie to the suitcase. I am totally curious as to what a boy from 2019 would think of the 20’s!
    I have to admit that the title doesn’t grab me. I wonder if there might be a more intriguing word than ‘unexpected’. I’m not a certain ‘yes’, definitely not a no! That puts me at maybe.

    • nataliecohn0258 says:

      Thank you for reading my pitch and yes there is a tie into the suitcase. You do not find out until closer to the end of the book, but it’s not what you would normally think would happen at the end.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s