Would You Read It Wednesday #408 – The Cottonwood Stars (PB)

Hi Everyone!

It’s Would You Read It Wednesday where we’re all about practicing, polishing, and perfecting pitches!

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

First, a fortifying snack, Something Chocolate which isn’t exactly chocolate today 😊 Since we had chocolate cake yesterday for our impromptu giveaway winner celebration party, and since it’s practically Valentine’s Day, and since this cake is SO pretty, I’m departing from the norm and serving Valentine’s Day Cheesecake! (And it does have chocolate crust! 😊)

That just looks like four layers of heaven, doesn’t it? YUM! Dig in!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Mary Beth who says, “I am a debut picture book author from Nebraska, blessed with four children who have given me more story material than I could ever use. I have been learning how to write picture books with the help of the wonderful writing community through SCBWI, 12 x 12, and the amazing authors like you with your informative and encouraging websites. 

When I am not making Jam (Covid stress reliever?!) I am a retreat facilitator and am trying to build more and more pockets of time to write.” 

I can be found online at:
Instagram @mbwallarice
Twitter @mbwallarice
Facebook..Mary Beth Rice

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Cottonwood Stars

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8) (or maybe 5-9?)

The Pitch: Hattie shares the wonder of the Cottonwood tree with her brother near their Gram’s garden. In snip, snap, snapping the tree twigs in half, actual stars are revealed! Later that evening, Hattie makes a new discovery: Her heart is still linked to Gram’s through the stars in tree and sky. THE COTTONWOOD STARS encourages healing through the power of nature. 

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 you answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Mary Beth 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 menu bar above. There is an opening February 23 and March is open too, so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on my editor Erin Molta!

Mary Beth is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch! I am looking forward to the Valentiny Writing Contest (guidelines HERE if you’re interested in writing an entry!) which opens in 2 days!!! I can’t wait to read everyone’s entries!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

17 thoughts on “Would You Read It Wednesday #408 – The Cottonwood Stars (PB)

  1. Judy Sobanski says:

    Hi Mary Beth – I definitely would read this. I love the idea of connecting the stars from the tree to the stars in the sky! I didn’t realize Gram had passed until almost the last line. It might help to put that earlier in the pitch? Maybe as simple as: Hattie missed Gram, but she loved sharing the wonder… This seems like a lovely spirit and emotion-filled story and it’s probably hard to convey some of that in a pitch, but is there a way to hint at “how” Hattie finds that connection to Gram through the stars? Does she remember stories Gram told her? Did she and Gram look at the stars in the sky together. Just something that hints at their relationship or how the stars helped Hattie to heal from her grief, that will give the reader a reason to want to know more!

    Also, your blog posts are wonderful. You have a lovely gift for expressing joy in your writing! Best of luck!

    • Mary Beth Rice says:

      Hi Judy! Thank you for making time to read this pitch AND to travel to my blog posts too. I appreciate knowing about the glaring omission of the fact that Gram had passed?! ;-0 Gosh, it just goes to show you how you can be too close to something and miss what is in front of your nose. I appreciate this feedback and the suggestions so much.

  2. Karen Condit says:

    This sounds like a lovely story. Yes, I would read it. I get a hint of the tone from your pitch: gentle, endearing, and intriguing! I’m curious about that Cottonwood tree!

    Perhaps there could be more about Hattie’s struggle. Has her grandmother passed, or did she move away? I’d like a little more of a peek into Hattie’s conflict or struggle so I can see the power of her new discovery. (As an aside, I’d probably eliminate the snip, snap and go with the snapping. I stumbled over that a bit.)

    Thanks for sharing! 👍

    • Mary Beth Rice says:

      Thanks for your suggestions, Karen. I will go back and be more clear that Hattie’s Gram has passed away. Your feedback is great. Yes, there are stars inside the cottonwood twigs if you snap the dry ones in two. 😉 Check it out! In the story her Gram had taught her about this and she shares it with her brother…

  3. kaziemann says:

    Hi Mary Beth,

    Yes, I would read it! I love your pitch and your story! Consider mentioning earlier in your pitch that Gram has died and emphasizing how much Hattie misses her. Maybe showcase how Hattie deepened her connection with Gran through sharing the story of the cottonwood stars with her little brother. I love how your last line focuses on how nature can heal.

  4. robincurrie1 says:

    Maybe – it has many intriguing parts – I want to know more. Is the main point the stars? The tree? Her brother or grandmother? There is wonderful imagery, and the book sounds great – I’d like to see a clearer focus in the pitch. Best wishes!

    • Mary Beth Rice says:

      Thanks, Robin! Yes, I need to be more clear and let the reader know Gram has passed away and Hattie is seeking solace with her brother near their Gram’s garden. There are actually stars inside the dry Cottonwood twigs (shape of the pith) and it is something her Gram had shared with her and she shares it with her brother…

  5. palpbkids says:

    Hi, Mary Beth, The premise of your story will connect to all those who have lost someone dear to them. Perhaps you could lead off with this in order to state the logline up front? Something like: Hattie’s heart is linked to Gram’s through their love of the Cottonwood tree. One evening, when Hattie discovers…
    Looking forward to reading your meaningful story:)

  6. rosecappelli says:

    This sounds like such a heartfelt story, Mary Beth. Yes, I would read it, but I agree with what others have said that the reader should know that Gram has passed from the beginning. That wasn’t quite clear in the pitch. I also don’t quite understand about the stars in the tree. I think a few more specifics would make the pitch stronger. Good luck with this!

    • Mary Beth Rice says:

      Gram passing away is sure an omission I need to correct! 😉 I am just too close to the story so appreciate this opportunity for you all to give me feedback. I will revise and make it more clear! Thank you!!

  7. authorlaurablog says:

    I’m intrigued by the combination of stars and the cottonwood tree. It sounds like you’ve got grandma who is gone and being remembered, so I’m curious if it is mostly flashbacks, or how you’re making it accessible to the picture book audience. There are currently many ‘missing grandma’ books so I suggest finding as many as you can for mentor texts as you seek publication.

    • Mary Beth Rice says:

      Thanks for suggesting mentor texts! I have found a few excellent ones and will try and tease out what makes this story unique from the others.

  8. Rita Jimenez says:

    As someone who loves plants and loved my grandmother, I would love to read your story. I agree with earlier suggestions to center and move up the important part about her grandmother’s death. Also, does the tree represent a connection between the two of them? These buds are used in herbal medicine, so wondering if that arose in your story? There’s so much potential here. Nice work!

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