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

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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!!! 🙂

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Kathleen Cornell Berman!

Woo hoo!  Time for Tuesday Debut!

I am thrilled to introduce today’s debutess to you all!  She took my class way back in 2013 when it had only been running for 6 months, so she was an early graduate!  I think it’s fair to say, judging by the photo below, that I was incredibly helpful in teaching her the importance of chocolate for good writing 😊

Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Kathleen Cornell Berman and her fabulous book about Miles Davis!

BIRTH OF THE COOL: HOW JAZZ GREAT MILES DAVIS FOUND HIS SOUND
By Kathleen Cornell Berman
Illustrated by Keith Henry Brown
Page Street Kids, April 16, 2019
Non-fiction  Age 8-11

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BIRTH OF THE COOL: HOW JAZZ GREAT MILES DAVIS FOUND HIS SOUND is a picture book biography about Miles’ journey to creating his unique sound. Readers will discover what inspired his sound and how his perseverance pushed him to new heights.

SUSANNA: Where did the idea for this book come from?

KATHY: I was brainstorming ideas for a Tara Lazar’s picture book month. I was anxious to write a picture book bio and my husband suggested Miles Davis. I loved the idea. I had fallen in love with Miles Davis’ music as a kid, and was eager to discover how he developed his sound on the trumpet.

I didn’t start research until almost year later. I read several books about Miles, including his autobiography and magazine articles. I listened to countless YouTube interviews, and played his music while I wrote.

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

KATHY: The seed for idea started in 2012, but I didn’t start the research until much later. Research plus writing and revisions took about two and half years. As I wrote the book, I continually went back and forth to check for accuracy, since some interviews contradicted others.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

KATHY: It went through many revisions. My first draft was filled with facts, but also very boring. I had recently finished Renee LaTulippe class that had given me the audacity to write in free verse. Once I started writing in free verse, the words flowed.

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Chocolate definitely helps with revisions. I always have an assortment on hand.

 

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

KATHY: It’s so hard to know when a manuscript is ready. That’s why it’s really important to share your work with other writers who also write in verse. I asked Tameka Brown as well as another writer in Renee’s group to read the story. Getting good feedback is essential in making the big decision.

 

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

KATHY: I don’t have an agent. I submitted to about 25 agents and 6 publishers over 2 years, which isn’t a lot according to some. I had 4 agents who were interested, but alas, not interested in my other fiction picture books. I like to check out the #MSWL website to see what editors and agents are looking for. I was elated to read Charlotte Wenger’s tweet, looking for PB biographies related to the arts, music. Charlotte is the editor at Page Street Kids. So yes I submitted directly to the publisher.

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever!😊)

KATHY: I submitted to Charlotte in May 2017 and heard back quickly.  After going through a few rounds of revisions, I signed the contract at the end of August 2017. The heart of the book is essentially the same, but with a few specifics to help clarify Miles’ journey, and more revisions process concerning word choice.

When my editor wanted to change the title to Birth of the Cool, I added more text about some details about the Birth of the Cool band.

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

KATHY: I think I sang at the top of my lungs (I’m tone-deaf and have no musical ability), then toasted a glass of Proseco with my husband.

 

SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

KATHY: I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fortunately I have critique partners who do have experience with contracts, so they advised me. I also contacted a lawyer for the final decisions.

My advance was standard, less than 5k and 5% royalty, with 15 author copies.

 

SUSANNA: Can you tell us a little about the editorial process?

KATHY: The revision process was smooth and straightforward. The editor and I basically had the same vision. I basically made changes where the text was confusing to some. And I added more text because of the change of the title. Each time I revised I kept the audience in mind. I wanted kids to be able to relate to Miles in some way and also to be inspired by his journey.

 

SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

KATHY: I was consulted every step of the way in choosing the illustrator as well as the ongoing sketches for the book. I loved Keith’s illustrations and how they’re free flowing, rhythmic, and moody. Since the book is non-fiction, I notified them of any inaccuracies in the illustrations.

 

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Keith Henry Brown and I at Jazz Gallery

 

I think art notes are important for a non-fiction text, they help the illustrator to keep the art in line with the time period or with specific facts noted in story.

Some of my notes were used to describe the high school band or places where he played music as a young man.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?  What was that like?

KATHY: Yes we got to see the reviews and we were thrilled to get a starred review from Kirkus. Being a debut author and illustrator, we didn’t fully realize the significance. We were both beyond thrilled.

 

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SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

KATHY: I signed the contract August 31, 2017.  We had the book in our hands in less than two years. Very cool feeling.

 

 

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

KATHY: They use social media to promote the book. We’re also in contact with the publicist who has contacted booksellers as well event venues for book signings. They also made gorgeous bookmarks and provided us with a curriculum guide that is downloadable on my website.

 

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

KATHY: Keith made a booktrailer and is also creating a coloring book. I’ve created the swag bag along with a wordsearch and goodies. There will be activities added to my website as time goes on.

I have done a number of blog tours and a podcast. Both Keith and I appeared on Jazz 88 WBGO radio show. We were asked interesting questions and it was amazing to hear ourselves on the radio.

 

SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

KATHY: It took seven years of reading, writing, reading, classes, conferences, and of course being in a critique group is essential to getting published

 

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

KATHY: I totally enjoyed the research and the revisions. I never felt overly frustrated. It always brought me joy in hopes that my book would inspire kids to find their own voice and be inspired by Miles’ tenacity to reach his goal. Obviously many kids will not become musicians, but I hope they find their own voice in what ever they attempt.

 

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for joining us today, Kathy, and for taking the time to participate in this series and pay it forward to other writers!  We all so appreciate the knowledge and experience you shared with us today, and who knows how many writers you may have helped toward publication?! 😊

 

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Author Kathleen Cornell Berman

Website: kathleencornellberman.com

Twitter: @bermankathy

Instagram: kcornellb

 

Readers, if you have questions for Kathy, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

You may purchase Kathy’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 🙂

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job

 

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – I’m Happy-Sad Today

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday, everyone!

Get out whatever you make lists with (I still use scrap paper and a pen, but I’m old-fashioned that way 😊) so you can prepare for your weekly trip to the library! 😊

I have a very helpful book to share today.  I hope you like it!

Happy Sad

Title: I’m Happy Sad Today: Making Sense of Mixed-Together Feelings

Written By: Lory Britain

Illustrated By: Matthew Rivera

Free Spirit Publishing, April 9, 2019, fact-based fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: feelings/emotions

Opening: “Sometimes I just feel happy . . . that’s all!
I feel the “noisy, giggly, jump and run” kind of happy.

Brief Synopsis: Sometimes we feel just plain happy or sad, excited or scared, but emotions don’t always come in tidy, neatly-labeled boxes.  Lots of times what we experience are a mix of feelings, which can conflict or confuse.  The little girl in this story works through her layered emotions to conclude that all her feelings are okay, and it’s okay to have more than one at a time.

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text copyright Lory Britain 2019, illustration copyright Matthew Rivera 2019

 

Links To Resources: the back of the book is a wonderful resource, including material on How To Read This Book With Children, and Strategies For Supporting Children’s Social-Emotional Development both aimed toward adults, as well as Using Words With Friends, Pretending With Animals, Dolls, or Little Figures, Dancing and Movement, Making Up Words, Twirling Feeling Faces, Puppet of Many Feelings, Basket of Cards, Story and Discussion Starters, Making Music from Feelings, and Other Feelings Activities.  This book would pair nicely with Danielle Dufayet’s picture book YOU ARE YOUR STRONG.

 

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text copyright Lory Britain 2019, illustration copyright Matthew Rivera 2019

 

Why I Like This Book: It can be hard for kids to identify and articulate what they are feeling, and this can lead to frustration and misunderstanding.  This book with its bright, warm art, diverse characters, and many familiar, child-friendly situations will give kids a vocabulary and a strategy for understanding and expressing what they’re feeling as well as show them clearly that they are not alone in their emotions.  A lovely book that all little ones will relate to, especially helpful for those who struggle with their feelings.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 😊 I am happy-excited – happcited? 😊 – for this weekend’s graduation celebration!

Would You Read It Wednesday #324 – Cake, By Cat And Bear (PB) PLUS The April Pitch Winner!!!

Hello, dearies!

Just when I think I might be approaching being organized, a tight deadline comes along and WHAM! I am speedily disabused of that notion!

So, since I have a deadline in a matter of hours, there will be no chit-chat today!

Right down to business! That’s me!

First, I’m thrilled to announce that the winner of the April Pitch Pick is Mary with her pitch for April Showers!  Congratulations, Mary!!!  Your pitch is on its way to editor Erin Molta for her thoughts and I’m sure you’ll hear from her soon!

Congratulations as well to all our other amazing pitchers who did such a fabulous job writing and submitting their pitches so bravely for your comments, and then taking your feedback and improving their pitches!  Well done, all of you, and I hope you’ve come out of this with pitches you feel are stronger than what you started with!

In celebration of our awesome pitchers and because by golly! I need something to perk me up after an inadequate amount of sleep (please refer to deadline mentioned above) I think it’s time for Something Chocolate!  How do you feel about  Easy 5-Ingredient Black Forest Trifle?  As you can see, it has fruit in it, so that makes it breakfast in my book.  (Not the book I’m currently writing, just, you know, the proverbial my book…  Sorry, this is the kind of drivel that occurs when you’ve been banging your head on the wall for a few days… Muse, thy name is Capricious! 😊)

Easy 5-Ingredient Black Forest Trifle

Doesn’t that look scrumptious???!!!

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Sarah who you know very well by now! 😊  Sarah says, “I am an Optometrist, mother, and lover of the outdoors. I live in NH with my husband and two children. I love to paint in my free time, when I’m not writing.”

Find her on the web at www.sarahheturadny.com

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Cake, By Cat And Bear

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)

The Pitch: Two friends plan to bake a cake. Only Cat ends up doing the work; Bear takes a nap. This, as well as an additional unfair action by Bear, causes problems between the two friends. All is made well in the end and Bear even makes up for his earlier lack of action.

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 Sarah 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, but there’s no harm in saving yourself a spot!

Sarah is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to a 1) a nap after close of business, and 2) a celebratory weekend because someone in my house is graduating from college!  😊😊😊

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting Jill Mangel Weisfeld!

Hey there, folks!

It’s time for another edge-of-your-seat episode of Tuesday Debut! 😊

Today, we have something very special in store.

To date, in this series, we have focused on the journey to publication for traditionally published authors, because that is what the majority of pre-published writers are striving for.  And for the most part, that will continue to be the focus of the series.  But some authors choose a different route for their own reasons, and I thought you might enjoy hearing at least once about a different kind of publication journey because I think there’s a lot we can learn and apply to our own situations.

So I now have the pleasure of introducing you to Jill Mangel Weisfeld and her adorable book, Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job!

Title: Riley the Retriever Wants a New Job
Author: Jill Mangel Weisfeld and Deborah Mangel
Illustrator: Shirley Ng-Benitez
Publishing house: Peek-a-Bear Press
Published: August 2018
Fiction
Picture book for ages 4-8

SM-VSK Riley cover

Book description: The book tells the adventures of Riley who is trying to find a more meaningful job than being a Retriever. Riley begins her quest researching working dog jobs on “Doogle” to see if she can find one that is a better fit for her. The book is entertaining and educational. The colorful illustrations bring Riley’s adorable personality to life. The story is based on Jill’s own dog Riley who is a certified therapy dog with the Good Dog Foundation.

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Jill’s daughter with Riley when she was about 4 months old 😊

SUSANNA: Welcome, Jill!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  We’re looking forward to hearing about the publication process from a different angle!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

JILL: The idea of the book came to me when I was working with Riley at the library about six years ago. The idea was fully formed when I first came up with it. I wanted the story to be educational so immediately I thought the idea of Riley being bored being a Retriever and having her research working dog jobs on her computer. The word “Doogle” came to me later. I began to do my own research on different kinds of working dog jobs and picked different jobs that I thought would be appealing to children.

riley head shot

Riley at the library! 💕

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SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

JILL: I wrote the book with my mom and it took us about 3 months for the first draft. I sent my mom all of my research about working dogs and a very rough draft of the story and then she tightened it up for me and added some of her ideas. My mom’s writing is a little more formal than I wanted it to sound so I adjusted it so it sounded more like Riley’s voice.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JILL: The book went through many revisions. Like the Beatles song I got by with a little (actually a lot) of help from my friends. I had the librarian at the local library where Riley works read the manuscript to make sure the language was suitable for the intended age group. I had a friend who is a child psychologist read it to make sure the images were suitable for the age group as well. Two of my close friends helped me with editing the book. My husband and daughters also helped me a lot. I read the book out loud many times to make sure the sentences flowed well to the ear.

 

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

JILL: I was never 100% sure the book was completely ready for publication. Grammar can be very subjective, one person would tell me to add a coma and another person would tell me to remove the same comma. I hired a children’s book editor who was very helpful but the book still went through many grammatical revisions after he edited it.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JILL: I started my own publishing company called Peek-a-Bear press when I published my first book titled: “Take a peek with Peek-a-Bear. I like self publishing because you have creative freedom with the end product such as the illustrations and design of the book.

 

SUSANNA: How did you go about creating your book?

JILL: I searched for illustrators on the internet who used the style I was looking for. I also posted the job on Guru but in the end I found my illustrator on Instagram.

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Before I sent manuscript to the illustrator I had her sign a non disclosure form. The illustrator is represented by an agency and I did sign a contract. I didn’t want to pay an illustrator a royalty every time I sold the book so the contract stated that I was paying a flat fee for the art.

The fee is based on the page count of the book and the number of illustrations. I spoke to many illustrators and the fees ranged from 1,500-15,000.

I am a graphics designer so I designed the book with clip art that represented what I wanted the illustrations to look like. The illustrator, Shirley, first sent me sample art of Riley, once I approved those she sent me black and white sketches of the rest of the book.
Shirley moved on to color after the black and white sketches were approved. I really enjoyed seeing Shirley bring the book to life with her color illustrations. Shirley lives on the west coast so everything was done over email. The entire process went well and Shirley completed the book in about 9 months which is fast.

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I designed the book on Quark which is the design program that I use. I exported the book to the printer who is in Hong Kong.

My husband is an exporter and he works with agents in Hong Kong who helped me find the printer. They also printed my first book and since they were competitively priced and nice to work with I hired them again.

 

SUSANNA: How did you handle print run and distribution?

JILL: I printed 2,000 copies of my book and I am distributing it through Amazon Advantage, local bookstores and my website. I just had a book signing at FAO Schwarz in Manhattan. I am going to approach toy stores and pet stores as well.

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to have the first copy in your hand?

JILL: The total process writing to publication took at least three to four years.

 

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc?

JILL: I did not submit my book yet to be reviewed by Kirkus or Booklist but maybe I will after reading this question.

 

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

JILL: Book Marketing has been a challenge for me, it’s hard to know what is going to generate sales. Riley has an Instagram account. I just decided I am going to donate 100% of my proceeds to The Guiding Eyes For The Blind in Yorktown, NY. I have socialized guide dog puppies from this wonderful organization. When I do a book event I bring a coloring page of Riley to give to the children. I have not done a book trailer or sent out flyers.

I have hired a PR person, Valerie Kerr, to send out a press release to print and media when I have an event. Valerie has gotten me write ups in local newspapers and web sites, podcast interviews and a guest spot on a local radio show.
My first book won five awards but I wasn’t able to enter this book because the copyright date was for 2015 and it has to be the same as the publication date

 

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

 

JILL: One thing I would like to share is that sadly my mom passed away almost two years ago while we were still working on the book. My father who is suffering from dementia moved in with me and I was not able to work on the book for for a long time afterwards. Part of the reason was it was too painful for me and for a while I didn’t think I would be able to complete it. I knew my mom would be really upset with me if I didn’t finish the book so this gave me the motivation to do so.

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Jill’s mom with Riley

SUSANNA: So sorry to hear about your mom, Jill, and that she never got to see the finished book.  I’m sure she’d be proud of you, though, and really pleased with how it came out.  And it’s clear from the photo how much Riley meant to her.  Thank you so much for joining us today.  I think I can speak for everyone when I say it was really interesting to hear about publishing a book from a new perspective.  We can all learn a lot from you! Best of luck with this and future books! 😊

 

jill and riley headshot

Author Jill Weisfeld with Riley

Instagram: @workingdogtales

 

Readers, if you have questions for Jill, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

You may purchase Jill’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Bronx River Books in Scarsdale, NY and other Independent Bookstores
Amazon
Jill’s Website

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 🙂

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

 

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Flap Your Wings

Hey there, fellow picture book lovers!

It’s Friday, and you know what that means… 😊

I have the perfect book this week.  It caters to my nostalgia in a week where my youngest turned 22 as well as to spring because it involves nesting birds, as well as to Mother’s Day this weekend… because it has a mother in it 😊

Look at me – checking all the boxes!

It’s an older book – one I read as a child so we’re talking ancient! 😊 – and is one of my All Time Favorites!  Prepare for fun!

Flap Your Wings

Written & Illustrated By: P.D. Eastman

Random House, 1969, Fiction

Suitable For: ages 3-8

Themes/Topics: assumptions, non-traditional family, unconditional love, responsibility

Opening: (this is actually the first three pages.)

An egg lay in the path.

A boy came down the path.  He saw the egg.  “Someone might step on that egg and break it,” he said.

He looked around.

He saw flamingos and frogs, and turtles and alligators.  “Whose egg is this?” he called.  But no one answered.”

Brief Synopsis:  A little boy finds an egg.  He doesn’t want it to get damaged, so he looks around until he finds the nest and carefully puts it back.  When Mr. and Mrs. Bird come home, they are surprised to find an egg in their nest… it wasn’t there when they left!  But Mr. Bird says that if an egg is in their nest it must be their egg, so they must take care of it.  So they do… with very surprising results!

flap your wings int

Links To Resources:  Ideas And Activities For Guided ReadingIncubation & Embryology Activities, use with An Egg Is Quiet (from PPBF link list), talk about what kind of animals, insects and reptiles lay eggs and how the eggs are the same and different.

Why I Like This Book:  This book is fun to read as a picture book, but is also an I Can Read type book that is very accessible to new readers.  The pictures are delightful – Mr. and Mrs. Bird’s expressions are very entertaining.  But I really love the story because it doesn’t go where you would expect.  It’s funny.  And it’s a great example of what agents, editors and reviewers mean when they talk about re-readability.  This book delighted me as a child, and delighted my children in their turn.  I’ve read it so many times that even now, years since I last read it to my kids, I can recite almost the whole book.  It’s fun every time 🙂

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! And a Happy Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there – you make the world go ’round! 😊

 

Would You Read It Wednesday #323 – Thaddeus, The Unicorn (PB) PLUS The April Pitch Pick!!!

Hello again, my friends!

Today is the kind of day that requires cake! 🎂

choc bday cake

That is because this little chickadee

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is 22 today!  Hard to believe…especially since I’m still 29 😊

We’ll be having cake (chocolate of course) right after the pitch pick, but in the meantime, Happy Birthday to the girl who is the poster child for last-could-never-ever-in-a-million-billion-years-be-least! 💕

Ready for the April Pitch Pick?

I present to you the new and improved pitches from the talented April WYRI participants!  Please read through the choices and then vote for your favorite in the poll below by Sunday May 13 at 7 PM Eastern.

#1 – Mary – April Showers (PB 4-8)

April adores taking big bubbly baths. When Mom suggests a shower, April’s imagination runs wild with fears of fiery space rocks, smoochy weddings, and pirates! Armed with determination and precise plans, April takes avoidance to a whole new level. In the end, her resourcefulness is the key to helping her wash away her fears. APRIL’S SHOWER combines the literal thinking of Amelia Bedelia with the humorous logic of The Big Bed by Bunmi Latidan.

 

#2 – Maria – Clean Kitty Super Suds (PB 4-8)

Andi T. Vipperman was born with a true knack for business and a bit lazy streak when it comes to homework. But, he mustmake it out of 1st grade before he can make it on Wall Street.

Will the stow-away in his backpack help him razzle-dazzle Ms. Stegman with his final project?  Or, does Andi create a “cat”astrophe that dooms himself to summer school or even worse?

*** Disclaimer: No animals were hurt in the making of this story!

 

#3 – Sarah – To Brighten A Birthday (PB 5-8) (formerly Lane Makes Mama Smile)

As Lane’s birthday nears, he pictures every detail of his special day: a party…caramel brownies…animal balloons.  But Mama stares out the window, with eyes as empty as their new home.  Lane hugs her, breathing in her perfume of paint and gloom.  He suggests they go for a walk in the sunshine, or watch a funny movie – Mom doesn’t want to do either.  Lane works with his dad to find a clever way to succeed, realizing that his mother is still capable of much love…and birthday celebrations!

 

#4 – Nadia – My Pet Phoenix (Graphic Novel ages 8-12)

Arka desperately longs for a pet. Her father doesn’t think she is responsible enough to have one. She makes a wish under a dark moon, but instead inherits an ailing phoenix from her uncle. He tasks her to take the dying phoenix to Sun City before the next full moon to retrieve something special. With less than 30 days and more than one Sun City on the map, Arka must journey through the eight phases of the moon to get the ailing phoenix to the right Sun City or it will die. And, if the phoenix dies, Arka will not be able to complete her journey.

 

 

And now, I think we have waited long enough for Something Chocolate! Bring out the cake!

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake (from a Healthy Dessert Blog!)

(it says healthy right on the blog!)

 

You’ll note that I’m serving health food – chocolate cake that comes from a healthy dessert blog – because I always have your best interests at heart!  So, feel free to have multiple slices, since it’s good for you and all… 😊

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Nicole.

Nicole is a mom, social worker, member of SCBWI, and a big believer in Unicorns. You can find her on Twitter @beautify_life

 

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Thaddeus, The Unicorn

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

The Pitch: Thaddeus isn’t like other unicorns – he doesn’t have a flashy name, he can’t sing or dance, and his special power is a bit of a…well…snooze. But when an angry dragon attacks town and threatens his little sister, Thaddeus must put his best hoof forward and save the day.

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 Nicole 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!

Nicole is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to birthday celebrations!  In the words of everyone’s friend, Max, “Let the wild rumpus start!”

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

Tuesday Debut – Presenting June Smalls!

Nothing perks up a Tuesday like getting to meet a debut picture book author!

Pull up a comfy chair, bring along a nice cup of your favorite beverage, and help yourself to an appropriately-themed pancake breakfast 😊

animal pancakes

Now!  Let’s meet June Smalls and check out her delightful picture book!

Odd Animal ABC’s
written by June Smalls
illustrated by Claire Sedovic
Blue Manatee Press
May 7, 2019
Fiction, ages 3-5

Odd Animal ABC's highres

A is for Alligator, B is for Bear, and so on, right? Not in this book. The odd animals are taking over! It’s time to meet Aye-Aye, Fossa, Numbat, Xenops and more curious, yet real animals that are ready for their spotlight. Laugh along as they introduce the letters of the alphabet in their own odd way!

 

SUSANNA: Welcome, June!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  Where did the idea for this book come from?

JUNE: I got the idea at a yard sale. There was an animal ABC’s cross stitch with all the same animals as when I was a kid. I decided to use the ABC format to introduce some less popular animals.

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take you to write this book?

JUNE: It took about 8 months, but I don’t write just one manuscript at a time. Picture books are all about the art, so I had to be mindful that while there are many animals that are interesting if they are all grey rodents then the book would be boring. I did tons of research trying to find odd animals and make sure I had a good variety that were visually appealing. I also wanted mammals, birds, and reptiles represented. Large and small. Colorful and plain. And representing different geographic areas.

It is not non-fiction, but I hope kids check the animals out and then go on to learn more about them.

 

SUSANNA: Did you go through many revisions?

JUNE: Since Odd Animal ABC’s is a concept book, and each character is only there for a moment, I didn’t have as many revisions as I typically have. I did swap out some animals that didn’t work or for animals that had better puns/jokes. Maybe a dozen or so revisions?

 

SUSANNA: When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?

JUNE: When The Kid tells me it isn’t boring… Seriously, after rounds with critique partners or beta readers. When I knew I couldn’t make it any better on my own. When I could read it five to ten times in a row and not hate it.

 

SUSANNA: When and how did you submit?

JUNE: I spent about 2 years subbing Odd Animals to Agents. While some liked it, I was told repeatedlythat ABC books were a hard sell. After I exhausted my list of agents I subbed directly to editors. I chose editors I’d met at conferences and houses with animal books that I liked.

 

 

SUSANNA: When did you get “the call”?  (Best moment ever! 😊)

JUNE: Well, I got “the email” fairly quick. About six weeks after I subbed it to Blue Manatee Press. This was just a slush pile pick. I’d never met them, there were no contests. I just followed their submission guidelines and hit send.

I had a few agents at the time looking at my body of work. I reached out to all agents that were reviewing my manuscripts, let them know I had a publication offer, and asked for a response in two weeks, or to let me know if they needed more time. I knew even if I didn’t get an agent to offer, I wanted to work with BMP, but I was hoping for help since contracts are scary (to me at least.)

 

SUSANNA: How did you celebrate signing your contract?

JUNE: I had two amazing offers of representation and ultimately chose Rebecca Angus at Golden Wheat Literary. We then made quick work of the – not as scary as I thought with Rebecca’s help – contract. I danced around my house with The Kid until we were both laughing, the dogs were prancing around us, and the cat was openly judging us.

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SUSANNA: Was the contract what you expected in terms of advance, royalty percentage, publication timeline, author copies etc.?

JUNE: The contract was pretty much what I expected. This is a smaller publisher so there was a small, but reasonable advance, royalties, a few author copies of the book, and right of first refusal on similar books for a specified length of time.

 

 

SUSANNA: What can you tell us about the editorial process?

JUNE: I was lucky that initial edits were tiny. More edits came after the illustrator started working and we added some lines for animals she added to certain pages and we removed some things to keep other pages from getting too crowded. With a small press, I was a partner in all of these changes and was able to add two jokes to the story that I LOVE. Proof that the collaboration really creates a great picture book.

 

 

SUSANNA: What was your experience of the illustration process like?

JUNE: The publisher chose illustrator, Claire Sedovic, and her watercolors. I loved the style illustrations they chose. I got to see some sketches early on. When something came up, like, “Hey June, this page is a bit crowded with all the hoofed animals. Can we tweak?” I was able to say, “Sure, and with this set up, we can use this animal/joke instead.”

Aye-Aye

I tried to be sure never to pretend I was an art director, but I had to point out a few things (for animal accuracy, not personal preference) and they were quickly corrected. The publisher had one question about a page where my art notes mentioned animal dung, but I was steadfast that we needed this particular shapely scat in the book and Claire was able to somehow make it even better than I pictured.

To be honest, I was gushing over the art from early on when I saw a sample and Claire had made an Aye-Aye cute (seriously, Google it…not always cute.) So, I knew I was in good hands. Her art and input created a better final product.

I did have simple art notes. Example:

A – Alligator Aye-Aye

[Aye-Aye speaking] “The odd animals are taking over. Now A is for Aye-Aye. Why don’t you take a vacation? Madagascar is nice. Later gator.”

[Alligator]Bye-Bye Aye-Aye.

 

Odd Animal ABC's opening

 

Since Odd Animal ABC’s had so many lesser known creatures, I had a second version of the manuscript with photo references. This helped since many jokes, like ‘spotting’ a quoll, only worked if you could see the animal is polka dotted.

 

 

SUSANNA: Did you get to see advance reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, etc? What was that like?

JUNE: I haven’t seen advanced reviews yet, but I’ll probably faint or happy dance, depending on the review.

 

 

SUSANNA: How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand?

JUNE: I believe I signed the contract in late February of 2018 and the pub date is April 16, 2019. One year is fast for a picture book. Our first print run is to be between 1,800 and 3,000 copies.

 

 

SUSANNA: What kind of marketing and promotion has your publisher done for this book?

JUNE: The publisher has sent books out for review and is working with indie bookstores that I am interested in. They are working on blog posts and social media. I know there is more going on behind the scenes.

 

SUSANNA: Describe any marketing/promotion you did for this book.

JUNE: Blogs and interviews – like this one of course. 😊

I’ve set up school visits, bookstore signings, library visits and a reading at a children’s museum with a visit by a wildlife rehabilitation center that is bringing live animals. Really excited for the live animals! I’m also working with some zoos to see about signings at their gift shops.

I’ve purchased a bit of swag, stickers and pins, for the visits.

I’m also part of the Read Local Challenge. This promotes reading books by local authors and illustrators in MD/DE/WV/VA/DC. It runs from October 1st through May 31steach year. We offer discounted presentations, swag for schools and libraries, and group or individual signings.

 

SUSANNA: How long was it between the time you started writing seriously and the time you sold your first picture book?

JUNE: About five years. I did sell a book early on, but then the small publishing house was purchased by a larger house and they were going in an educational direction, so I received my rights back on a humorous picture book, even though we’d just finished the illustrations. Such is publishing.

 

SUSANNA: Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?

JUNE: I’m glad I had community. From the support of my Hubby and Kid, critique partners cheering me on and celebrating with me, other writers and illustrators I’ve met along the way who were willing to give advice, and my editor and agent. The journey is better because of the people I’ve shared it with.

 

SUSANNA: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this series and paying it forward to other writers, June! We all so appreciate you sharing your experience and wish you all the best of luck with this and future books!

June Smalls

Author June Smalls (SLH – love the turtle necklace – very animal abc 😊)

June Smalls is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a lover of literature. She resides in Northern Virginia with her hubby, The Kid, and an ever-growing assortment of animals.

 

Website: http://www.junesmalls.com

Twitter: @June_Smalls

 

Readers, if you have questions for June, please post them in the comments below and if she has time I’m sure she’ll respond!

You may purchase June’s book at:
(all links below are book-specific)

Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

We can help our debut authors successfully launch their careers by:

– purchasing their books

– recommending their books to friends and family

– recommending their books to our children’s teachers and librarians

– recommending their books to our local libraries and bookstores

– suggesting them as visiting authors at our children’s schools and our local libraries

– sharing their books on social media

– reviewing their books on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other sites where people go to learn about books.

Thank you all for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 🙂

 

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday -Koala Is Not A Bear

I am having so enjoying Perfect Picture Book Friday lately!

I’ve read quite a few books I really love, and this one is no exception!

Get ready for some fun 😊

Koala

Title: Koala Is Not A Bear

Written By: Kristin L. Gray

Illustrated By: Rachel McAlister

Sterling Children’s Books, May 7, 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-7

Themes/Topics: friendship, family, animals (koalas, marsupials)

Opening: “Koala had never been to camp before.  She couldn’t wait to swim, toast marshmallows, and meet her cabinmates.  But she’d never been away from her family, so she packed a few reminders of home…just in case.

Brief Synopsis: When Koala arrives at camp, Grizzly tries to welcome her to the Bear Cabin, but know-it-all Kangaroo keeps insisting that despite sharp teeth and claws, warm fur, the ability to climb trees, etc. Koala is NOT a bear!  Where does she belong?

Links To Resources: a short author’s note at the back gives a nugget of information about koala bears; Science Kids Fun Facts About Koalas; National Geographic Kids 10 Facts About Koalas; All About Koalas For Kids – Freeschool (video); Koala Themed Activities and Printables; koala cupcakes

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text copyright Kristin L. Gray 2019, illustration copyright Rachel McAlister 2019

 

Why I Like This Book: This is such a cute story!  Even though Koala has never been to camp before, she sets off ready to join the fun.  There’s a bit of disagreement about where she belongs when she gets there, though.  Grizzly supports her staunchly.  Kangaroon argues.  And Duck goes in search of a counselor 😊 Eventually, poor Koala begins to wish she was back home with her family.  She reaches for her family photo…and suddenly finds she has a lot in common with someone else and knows exactly where she belongs.  The art is delightful and just right for the book.  Sweetly told with plenty of humor, and a poignant moment when Koala longs for the people and place where she knows she fits, this is a story anyone who has ever felt out of place will relate to.  A lovely book for any shelf!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #322 – Puffcaso (PB) PLUS The February/March Pitch Winner!!!

It’s May! It’s May!  The lovely month of May!

Okay.  It’s possible the original version of that song had a word other than “lovely” but this is supposed to be an E for Everyone blog… 😊

Here on Blueberry Hill we are still having April Showers… always a little behind the times up on ye olde mountain top!… but we also have more than 4 dandelions, so May is definitely trying to get her foot in the door!

DAD

In other news, Amazon and Barnes & Noble indicate that WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A DAD is having a book birthday today, in plenty of time for folks to pick one up for Father’s Day or any day 😊  B&N recognizes me as an author, Amazon does not (I have no explanation) but I did in fact write the words! 😊

Dad - art from spread 1 DAD - art from lion cub spread

 

Artist Sydney Hanson did such a fantastic job, don’t you think?! 😊

Okay, sorry!  I’ll stop!  Everyone put on your serious face and we’ll be all business from here on in!

First, I’m thrilled to announce that the winner of the February/March Pitch Pick is one of the Sarahs (not surprising since we had 3 of them!) for her pitch for Trapped In Trash!

Congratulations, Sarah (Hetu-Radny lest there be any Sarah confusion)! Your pitch is on its way to editor Erin Molta for her thoughts!

And congratulations to all our other pitchers for stepping out of their comfort zones and bravely posting their pitches for constructive criticism and a learning experience for all of us.  Even though Erin won’t read these pitches, I hope you all got enough helpful feedback from our fabulous readers to feel that you have stronger pitches now than you did when you started! (Also, I want you to know this is the closest Pitch Pick vote we’ve ever had – all the pitches were within 4 votes of each other and there was a tie for second! So you should all feel good!)

To celebrate Sarah, congratulate our other pitchers on their wonderful work, and thank our amazing, generous, and helpful readers, I think it’s time for Something Chocolate!  How about some Peanut Butter Oreo Dessert!

Peanut Butter Oreo Dessert

resses-slice

Recipe HERE at I Am Baker

 

We can start a trend and have dessert for breakfast!  Although, when I think about apple danish (essentially pie) and pancakes (I mean, come on, they have cake in the name!) I have a feeling we may not be the first to have come up with this idea… 😊

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Nadine.  Nadine is an elementary librarian for an urban PA school district. She loves how fortunate she is to be surrounded all day by books and children to share them with.  She is a mom to three young men and two dachshunds. 

Nadine has two picture books being published later this year by Blue Whale Press.  You can visit her website Nadinepoper.weebly.com to learn more.

Find her on the web at:

 

 

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Puffcaso

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

The Pitch: Pufferfish meets Picasso. The ocean art contest is days away. Pufferfish works hard at his project only to have it ruined by a hostile ocean dweller. A faceoff with his adversary leads Pufferfish to unexpected teamwork.

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 Nadine 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 June, so you could get your pitch up pretty soon for helpful feedback and a chance to have it read and commented on by editor Erin Molta!

Nadine is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to taking my dad’s car for a oil change! (Yeah, I know, today’s agenda is a little less exciting than some…but you’ve got to find the fun, even when it appears to be lacking…! 😊)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! 😊