Would You Read It Wednesday #64 – A Banshee Birthday (PB), And Pitch Pick #14 (October)

Well, my goodness!  This has been a busy week so far, hasn’t it?

I apologize for the extra post yesterday, and thank everyone who took the time to read and vote for their favorite Halloweensie Contest entry.  If you haven’t had a chance to vote yet, the running is VERY tight and we need all the votes we can get, so please go HERE!

And speaking of voting, we’ve had so much of it this week!  Voting for the president… voting for the Halloweensie Contest… and now voting for the October Pitch Pick winner.  Truly, I feel a little weak, and I suspect you may too, so I’d like to offer you all a restorative chocolate cake pop 🙂

Photo copyright Stacy Jensen 2012 used by permission

Very festive, don’t you think?  And orange-y and yellow-y for post-Halloween scrumptiousness 🙂  And as we all know, if it’s cake, it’s breakfast (milk, eggs, grains, need I say more?)  Hmm… I like that!  I think it should be my new motto:  “If it’s cake, it’s breakfast!”  (and you have to say it in the voice of a Saturday morning cartoon narrator, you know, like “Not far outside the city, the evil scientist, Simon Barsinister, was up to no good!”!)

Now that we are thusly fortified, here are the revised pitches from October, presented for your voting pleasure.  Enjoy reading the new and improved versions and then please vote for the one you think deserves a read by editor Erin Molta.

#1 Linda
Alpha Bitty (PB ages 4-6)
A special tree stands on Wordy Hill. It doesn’t sprout apples or oranges but letters, from A to Z. All year Wind, Rain and bright Sunshine, have helped the letters grow strong, but how can they pick them? Alpha Bitty comes to the rescue and together the friends share the letters near and far so new stories may blossom.

#2 Sidney
Phantom And The Boneyard (MG)
The Phantom awakens to find himself separated from the other airplanes in his squadron and relocated to a military “boneyard” in the Arizona desert where retired aircraft are used for spare parts. But Phantom isn’t ready to retire. With the help of new friends, he starts plotting his escape before he, too, ends up in permanent storage with his “eyes” wrapped shut.

#3 Brenda
Dishing Up (PB ages 3-8)
What could possibly go wrong when Dan Platter, Kay Gravy Boat and Amy Gravy Boat take over the kitchen!

#4 Carrie
Scooter Annie (PB ages 4-8)
Annie loves swooping and gliding on her new scooter. Nothing can stop her…except the hill at the end of her street. Now, if Annie wants to ride in the neighborhood parade, she must find a way to tackle that big hill – without getting hurt in a big way.

Please vote by Friday November 9 at 11:59 EST!

And now for today’s pitch from the lovely Heather (who you may remember from that gorgeous dragon painting we all enjoyed so much for the Summer Send-Off Contest – helpfully linked in case you want to go look at that picture again!)  Heather is an artist, writer, wife and mom living in the woods of Maine. When she’s not scribbling away at her desk, she’s busy exploring, learning and generally raising a ruckus with her family. You can find her at her blog or her website.

Working Title: A Banshee Birthday
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Ailbe wishes she had some friends to invite to her birthday party, but it’s tough finding girls willing to attend a nocturnal banshee celebration. For those girls brave enough to say “yes” and stay awake past bedtime, Ailbe has many secrets of the night to share

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 Heather 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in January, so you have time to polish 🙂 for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Heather is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I am looking forward to a lovely day in which there will be sunshine and temperate temperatures and certainly NOT what the weather man is calling for which I will not repeat here because this is a kid-friendly blog and the weatherman is tossing about a four-letter word that begins with S!

See you Friday for Perfect Picture Books and the winner of Amy’s giveaway for Marathon Mouse!

Have a fun-filled, snow-free day! 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #62 – Dishing Up (!) (PB) And The September Pitch Winner

It’s another wonderful Wednesday!  And we’ve got tons of Would You Read It fun lined up 🙂

But before we get to that, I just have to interrupt myself for one second and say how lucky I am that the nicest people in the world come over here every day!

You all participate so enthusiastically in whatever high jinx and shenanigans I’ve got going on.  So many of you have helped me with one hair-brained scheme or another out of the kindness of your hearts (remember Phyllis’s World Tour?).

A number of you (and you know who you are :)) have recently gone above and beyond to help me with a couple of projects (more on those when and if they come to fruition!)

Whenever I need a talented illustrator or graphic designer (which is pretty much always because I am so bad at that stuff :)) I have only to holler – just look at all the gorgeous book marks and badges and story prompts that abound in this neck of the woods! 🙂

And then, as if all that weren’t enough, Stacy took pity on me (and all of you) because of the Don’t-Use-Images-Off-Google-Lest-You-Get-Sued debacle that has left my Would You Read It posts depressingly undecorated with chocolate.  She spent heaven knows how many hours baking amazing treats AND PHOTOGRAPHING THEM!!! and then sent me a whole file full of truly delicious pictures – that I am allowed to use! 🙂 – to make your Wednesdays brighter and chocolate-r.  I am not making this up.  Look!!!

Peppermint Patty Brownie Cupcake
Photo copyright Stacy S. Jensen used by permission

Seriously!  Aren’t you just drooling?

So I would like to ask for a big round of applause for Stacy!  Thank you so much for bringing beautiful chocolate back into our Wednesdays.  Really, I’m a little choked up 🙂

And a huge thank you from me to all of you for taking the time to come over here and join in the fun and support me in whatever crazy thing I’ve got going at the moment! 🙂  Please.  Have a cupcake on me!

So, okay, enough of that mushy stuff.  Now that we are suitably armed with Something Chocolate (YUM!), let’s go!

First, I’d like to announce the winner of the September Pitch Pick.  It was a tight race!  Our new system of letting writers rework their pitches based on all your helpful comments is resulting in much-improved pitches across the board, making it very difficult to choose!  (Although it does also make it more exciting! :))  Anyway, the winner for September is


with her pitch for Buff The Magic Dragon!  Congratulations Elizabeth!  Especially because you now have the honor and distinction of being the first person in Would You Read It history to win more than one pitch pick!  (You all may recall that Elizabeth won the May pitch pick with her pitch for Magnificent about synchronized swimming elephants :))  Your pitch has been sent to editor Erin Molta for critique and I’m sure we’ll hear from her soon!

I would also like to congratulate all the other pitchers – Tina, Vivian, and Catherine – for excellent pitches and for being brave enough to put their work out there for critique.  We all know it isn’t easy!  So thank you for stepping up to the plate… or maybe it should be stepping onto the mound :)… although somehow that doesn’t sound very good… like maybe something that should be in Catherine’s story 🙂

Anyway, 2nd grade bathroom humor aside, it is now time for today’s pitch!

Today we have a pitch from Brenda.  Brenda says, “I am a somewhat average gal, not to tall, not too round, not too young or too old.  I am not outgoing, yet I am definitely not an introvert.  My works include:
-Meeting Myself, Snippets from a Binging and Bulging Mind (about bulimia and me)
– Heartfelt-366 devotions for common sense living
– God, Gluttony & You (a Bible study)
– The Big Red Chair ( a story book for grieving children.)
Writing gives me a way to look at my life and recognize how far I’ve come.  If you really want to know what I am thinking, read my Daily Devotionals.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Dishing Up (!)
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-8)
The Pitch: Squabbles and food fights break out when invisible guests show up at a family dinner table.

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 Brenda 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in December, so you have time to polish 🙂 for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!
Brenda is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I would like to sneak in a quick word from our sponsors before you go.  Have I reminded you lately that the Halloweensie Contest is coming up soon?

I haven’t?

Well then, the Halloweensie Contest is coming up soon!!!!!

As you all know, I’m a last-minute kinda gal, so I haven’t yet decided exactly what the contest will be…  but it will be on Wednesday October 31 (Halloween!!!) replacing WYRI that day, and it will be a children’s story of some type (aren’t they always? :)) and it will be tons of fun and there will be good prizes!!!  So put on your halloween thinking caps so you’ll be all ready to start writing when I put up the official contest announcement… hmmm…. maybe Monday!

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #61 – Phantom And The Boneyard (ER) and Pitch Pick #13

Boy do we have all kinds of Would You Read It fun for today!  Grab your Something Chocolate and settle in!

First off, we have the September Pitch Pick, and all 4 participants have revised their pitches with an eye to your wonderful comments, so this should be very interesting!

#1 Tina
Melody Wants A Piano (PB)
When Melody returns from Grandma’s with a song in her heart, she wants a piano.  Perhaps street singing, a baseball game, and a talent show will help her raise the funds to share her song with others.

#2 Elizabeth
Buff The Magic Dragon (PB)
Buff the Magic Dragon is afraid of EVERYTHING.  But when his magic trick-gone-wrong lands the baby Princess Ponypants in the tentacles of Captain Meanie Bones Jones, Buff must swallow his fear to save her.

#3 Catherine
Once Upon A Toilet (PB)
Mr. Eubend, a plumber for King Fartsalot and Queen Piddle, was called away to an emergency in a neighbouring kingdom. En-route he finds he is in great demand.

#4 Vivian
Confessions Of The Tomato Turner (PB)
Peter proudly helps his mom in the family vegetable garden, but when he pulls up a baby tomato plant instead of a weed, Peter is torn between telling his mom and hiding the evidence in the compost pile. 

Please vote below for the pitch you think is best and should get a read by editor Erin Molta!  Voting will be open until Friday October 12 11:59 PM EDT.

Many thanks for your vote!  I can’t wait to see how it turns out! 🙂

Next, we have today’s pitch which is fun because it’s an early reader and we don’t get too many of those.  Our pitcher today is Sidney Levesque, who is a former newspaper reporter and editor.  She now works for a university and writes freelance.  She is a wife and the mother of a toddler, and is enjoying dipping her toe into the great ocean of fiction!

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Phantom And The Boneyard
Age/Genre: Early Reader
The Pitch: The Phantom awakens to find himself separated from his squadron and relocated to a military “boneyard” in the Arizona desert with other retired airplanes used for spare parts. But Phantom isn’t ready to retire and starts plotting his escape with the help of new friends before he, too, ends up in permanent storage with his “eyes” wrapped shut.

Sidney also asked to include the opening of her story, which I thought would be very fun to share 🙂 so here it is:

All around him were endless rows of military airplanes he didn’t recognize, planes that looked very old, as if they hadn’t been flown in years.
Some had noses missing. And doors ajar. Wires hanging out like spaghetti.  Tires deflated. Entire planes dismantled into a thousand pieces.

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 Sidney 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in December, so you have time to polish 🙂 for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!
Sidney is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I would like to take this opportunity to tell you that on Monday we will be having a very special visitor and a giveaway!  So please plan on saving a few Monday moments for an interview with the one and only Natasha Yim and a chance to win her new book, Sacajawea Of The Shosone!!!  (I’m sorry Short & Sweets is getting bumped, but I think you’ll find it’s worth it! :))

Oh Susanna – If It’s Been Posted On My Blog, Can I Still Submit To Publishers? And The August Pitch Pick Winner!

Happy Monday, my friends!  I hope you all had lovely, restful weekends and you’re rarin’ to go 🙂

Let’s start the high jinx and shenanigans this morning with the August Pitch Pick winner, shall we?

I must say, I’m really enjoying the new system whereby everyone gets a chance to improve their pitch.  Thanks to all the helpful reader comments, and diligent application by our steadfast pitchers, the pitches for the pitch pick are all significantly better, don’t you think?  Of course, it makes it even harder to choose a winner! 🙂

But the voters have spoken, and the winner of the August Pitch Pick is KIMBERLEY and her pitch for Saturdays With Fish!!!  Congratulations, Kimberley!  Your pitch has been sent to editor Erin Molta for a read, and you will no doubt hear from her soon 🙂  And congratulations to all who pitched – you all did an excellent job and pitched very interesting and creative stories!  Best of luck with them!

Phew!  That was a lot of excitement for first thing Monday morning!  I think a small sustaining snack is in order 🙂  Perhaps a wee nap 🙂

Alrighty then.  Everyone fortified?  Onward!

We haven’t had the chance for an Oh Susanna question for a while because the person in charge around here keeps bumping them for other things, like Short & Sweets, and contests, and other tomfoolery.  But today, we shall forge ahead with a question that has been waiting patiently since about June.

The question is, “Oh Susanna, I have a couple of poems that people have suggested would make good picture books. I’ve toyed with both of them and think they would indeed be fun PBs, but written in prose, and obviously very (though not completely) different from the poems. Do you think agents and publishers would have a problem with the fact that the manuscript is based on a poem already published on my blog, even if the ms is in prose and clearly fleshed out into a proper story?

This is a very interesting question…

It’s true that many agents and publishers do not like to accept material that has been previously published on a blog.  Their reasoning is, essentially, that if people have already seen it and read it for free, why would they now want to pay for it?  This is especially true of a work that has been published in its entirety.  (And by published, I don’t mean traditionally published, but any type of posting on the internet, or self-published, where a large number of people have had access to it.)

However, (as always :)), there are exceptions.  In the case of a longer work, like a novel, if only a small teaser or single chapter has been posted, it may give agents and editors a chance to glimpse the quality of your work and become interested without giving away the farm.  If you happen to be Amanda Hocking and self-publish and sell millions of copies, there will also probably be publishers willing to pick up your book 🙂

In a case such as you’re describing, you are probably safe for a couple reasons.

First, unless your blog has a huge readership, it’s very likely that your work has yet to be viewed by the entire English-reading population.  You can pull the posts that contain the material and no one else has to see it.

Second, you have not published them in the format a publisher would be trying to sell.  They were posted as poems but will be submitted to agents and publishers in prose.  The submitted version of the stories may be expanded or changed from the originals, so what you initially posted isn’t really the same.

Finally, if you intend them to be picture books, the stories will eventually be married to someone’s art, which will give it a whole other level and impact than the original unillustrated poem.  The publisher could well end up with something that bears little resemblance to the original post.

I think you could likely submit in this case without a problem. Just be sure to take down any posts that contain the material, or just remove that specific material from the posts if there are other things in them that you want to leave up.

I would very much love for other knowledgable readers out there to chime in on this issue, though.  Do you think this answer is right?  Or have you had specific experiences that lead you to believe otherwise?  Please share!  We may all have something to learn!

Have a wonderful day, everyone! 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday #58 – Confessions Of The Tomato Turner, And Pitch Pick #12

You guys are probably wondering where the heck I’ve been all morning.  I mean, come on!  It’s Would You Read It Wednesday!

I know!  I feel terrible!  Poor Vivian has no doubt been thinking I forgot her 😦  I assure you, nothing could be farther from the truth!  I have been agonizing over my lack of foresight and worrying that her time is getting cut into and people may end up missing her day 😦

Here’s what happened:  heavy rain blew in yesterday accompanied by high winds with gusts over 60 mph… and in the Back of Beyond where I live, that means no power and no internet.

I’ve been like a little pioneer girl.  Just call me Laura Ingalls 🙂  Except last night we got pizza… I don’t think Laura did that 🙂

Now, if I wasn’t always playing catch-up, I might have had today’s post written and ready to go.  But my plan was to write it last evening during homework time… and that didn’t happen because we were looking for candles and contemplating bailing out the basement.

No worries, I thought.  Surely the power will be restored by the time I get up at 5:15 AM… I’ll just write the post then and it will still get out on time.

Yeah.  Not so much.  We still have no power.  We made coffee in a saucepan this morning.  Need I say more?

See?  I told you – Laura Ingalls 🙂

So after my morning chores I hied my way over hill and dale to the nearest Barnes & Noble (because in the Back of Beyond we don’t have handy wi-fi Starbucks at every country intersection) where I am currently sitting, casting longing glances at the triple chocolate brownies (but it’s only 11 AM – a little early for triple chocolate?  what do you think?  I think after coffee from a saucepan a little overly-decadent pre-noon chocolate is permitted!) and typing like the wind to get the long-awaited pitch pick and Vivian’s pitch up before you all give up in despair and determine that I’ve been eaten by a hungry black bear.

So no more chit chat.  Here are the pitches from August for you to choose from.  Everyone chose to update, so you can see how much they all improved thanks to you!

#1 Randy
Charlie The Chimney Mouse (PB)
Charlie is looking forward to the holiday season when the unthinkable happens. His human family moves away. He celebrates the holidays anyway, but the songs, the feasts, and the parties are not the same without someone to share it. Charlie offers one last song from his heart and receives a visit from a special holiday guest who brings more than a sack of presents.

#2 Patricia
Two Orange Pups On The Trail Of The Perfect Ball (PB)
Which pup in town owns the perfect ball?  For the Two Orange Pups, that’s quite a tough call.  Is it Babe with her baseball, Mario with his meatball, or one of the other pups they meet?  Find out whether the pair is on the right trail to discover the perfect ball, or whether it’s really the trail that’s the perfect part of this tale!

#3 Sharron
Nothing But Blue Skies (Upper MG Fantasy)
Wizards have turned the world topsy-turvy. The sky is green. The grass is purple. Streams are pale pink. A fourteen-year old princess is the key to saving her world. But – not as a girl. A dragon’s tear transforms her into a prince. To triumph over magic, she must find out who she is and who she wants to be. Through it all, she must defeat the wizards, change her world back, and save her brother.

#4 Rachel
Princess Azalea’s Two Left Feet (PB)
Princess Azalea can’t dance. And if she can’t dance, she can’t meet a prince at a royal ball. Her mother, the Queen, is determined to get her dancing no matter what! Azalea, however, isn’t sure a prince is worth all this hullabaloo. Will Princess Azalea learn to twirl and spin without falling on her royal bottom? Or will she find her happily ever after her own way?

#5 Kimberley (PB)
Saturdays With Fish
Libby and her stepdad go fishing on Saturday to leave the loud city behind and find the peace of a quiet pond. It is there they find joy as simple and warm as the sun. At the pond they fish, chat, and eat a picnic lunch without any disruptions. When Libby accidentally hooks a bullfrog, the spell may be broken. Can they find their way back to quiet?

Please cast your vote for who’s pitch should go for a read by editor Erin Molta by 11:59PM EDT Friday September 21.

And now, onto today’s pitch from the lovely Vivian, author of Show Me How and fabulous blogger at Positive Parental Participation.

Working Title: Confessions Of The Tomato Turner
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch:  Distracted by a noisy woodpecker, four-year old Peter looks away from his task and pulls up a baby tomato plant instead of a weed.  Clutching the sad spindly seedling in his hand, Peter has a decision to make…tell his mom what he has done or hide the evidence in the compost pile.

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 Vivian 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in November, so you have time to polish 🙂 for a chance for it to be read by editor Erin Molta!
Vivian is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  And I am looking forward to getting power back because it turns out I’m not really cut out to be a pioneer 🙂

Apologies for the messed up scheduling today, and thank you all for bearing with me 🙂  Have a great (rest of the) day!

Oh Susanna – Is There A Difference Between Scholastic And Regular Editions Of Picture Books?

Happy Monday Everyone!

Where to start today?  Well, how about with the winner of the July Pitch Pick?

I really enjoyed the new format for the pitch pick.  I thought it was great to see how much everyone improved their pitches… although it did make it even harder to choose! 🙂  However, the votes have been cast and the winner is…

dunh duhn duhn duhn

DANA!!!!! with her pitch for CJ’s Tiger!

Congratulations, Dana!  Your pitch has been sent to editor Erin Molta for comments, and we will all be excited to see what she says 🙂

Wow!  That was a lot of excitement for first thing Monday morning.  If you’re feeling a little peaked, feel free to take a short break for a sustaining snack.  I’m offering homemade banana bread this morning, but I’m not even going to try drawing that!

OK.  All refreshed?  Let’s move on to two questions:

#1  A few people have mentioned they’re having trouble commenting on my blog the past few days.  I’m not sure what’s going on, but I tried updating to the new disqus and I’m hoping that will fix the problem.  Will you all kindly let me know if the problem is fixed or if you are still encountering difficulty?  I really want it to be as easy as possible for you to comment – I highly value everything you have to say – and I like disqus because it allows me to reply directly back to you so you know I’ve read your comments and they matter to me.  But if it continues to cause trouble I will axe it!  Thanks in advance for your help with this conundrum 🙂

#2  A few other people (who shall remain nameless but you know who you are! :)) have been plotting behind my back in hopes of getting Short & Sweets to continue past summer’s end.  I am thrilled if it has been fun and helpful to anyone, and I would be happy to continue it in some form if there is sufficient interest.  The idea was to alternate Monday posts – Oh Susanna one week, Short & Sweets the next.  I would be grateful for anyone to leave their thoughts on this matter in the comments so I can get a sense of where people stand on this.  My blog is here for you.  I want to do whatever you most enjoy and find most helpful.  So speak now 🙂  Just be forewarned, I’m not sure I can continue coming up with fun new things you’ll like… I may end up recycling with new twists to some degree…! 🙂

Alrighty!  Last but not least we have an Oh Susanna question for today.  The lovely Stacy says

I picked up some picture books at a weekend yard sale. Several were Scholastic editions. Is there a difference between a Scholastic edition and a regular edition? I’m wondering both as a parent/reader and a writer.

Great question, Stacy!  And one I can luckily answer from my own experience.  Scholastic editions, to my knowledge, have no change to original interior art or text.  The cover may be different from the original and so may the title.  As examples, Punxsutawney Phyllis was sold through Scholastic as Wake Up, Groundhog with a different cover illustration.

original Holiday House version
Scholastic version

Scholastic did a focus group and determined that “Punxsutawney” was a difficult and therefore potentially off-putting word, so they chose to go with an alternate.  Likewise, April Fool, Phyllis was sold through Scholastic as The April Fools’ Treasure Hunt.

original Holiday House version
Scholastic version

There was discussion of changing the background color on the cover to blue, but in the end it stayed pink.  In both cases, however, all the interior illustrations are the same as in the original versions and there is no change to the text.  The only other difference is in the quality of paper and binding used.  Scholastic versions, in an effort to be affordable to as many kids as possible, are mostly (if not completely) produced in paperback and may sometimes be a little less sturdy.

If you’re on a budget but still want to increase your library, Scholastic is a wonderful option!

I hope that answers your question, Stacy!  Please feel free to ask for clarification if you have further queries 🙂

And I will look forward to hearing from you all about whether the comments are working better/properly and what your thoughts are on attempting to continue Short & Sweets!

Have a lovely day 🙂

Would You Read It Wednesday – The 53rd Pitch And The July Pitch Pick!

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

I am very excited for Would You Read It today!  Not only do we get to start the day with Something Chocolate, not only do we get to read a great new pitch, not only am I not in the car (it’s true!  I’m not in the car!  Can you believe it?), but this is the first month where we’re trying out the new system!

Previously, we just voted on the month’s pitches, but NOW, as per the new policy, pitchers who wanted to have had the chance to revise their pitches for the pitch pick, so what you will be seeing today is that in action for the first time!

3 of our 4 July pitchers chose to take your helpful comments and revise for the July Pitch Pick, so here are the pitches for your evaluation:

#1 Carrie
Title: Singin’ Sam, the Ice Cream Man
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
Pitch: Sam loves dishing out ice cream to his favorite customers. But when a rival ice cream truck shows up on his corner, Sam must find a way to out-sing, out-scoop, and out-serve the competition to keep his customers — and himself — happy.

#2 Rita
Working Title:  What’s Wrong With Molly Zwirl
Age/Genre:  Chapter Book (ages 6-9)
The Pitch:  Molly, an immigrant girl from Europe settling in the USA, is just like the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead.  She tries so hard to be good but when her grandparents come she just has to be bad.

#3 Vivian

Working Title: The Tomato Turner
Genre/Age: Picture Book/3-8
Stuck between a brainy brother and an adorable sister, Peter Peter middle-seater is searching for a way to be spectacular.  When he sees the basket of green tomatoes, he knows his chance to astonish his family has come…if only he can turn the tomatoes red.

#4 Dana
Working Title:  CJ’s Tiger
Age/Genre:  Picture Book (ages 4-8)
CJ has always dreamed of having a tiger for a pet, so he is thrilled when he awakens one day to find that his cat “Tiger” has transformed into a real tiger. However he soon learns that having a pet tiger is a lot harder than he imagined when the day turns into one big catastrophe!

Please vote for your favorite below by Sunday August 19 at noon EDT.  I will announce the winner Monday and send her pitch off to editor Erin Molta for comment at that time.

I must say, this is a tough choice!!!  I can’t wait to see how the votes land!

Now, onto today’s pitch, which comes to us from Sharron.  Sharron loves reading, writing, sharing with friends and learning new things.  She blogs at Nothing But Writing and has joined us here once before for the 27th pitch of Sorrysorrysorry back on February 15.  (As a matter of fact, she was the winner of the February pitch pick!)

Here is her pitch for today:

Working Title:  Nothing But Blue Skies
Age/Genre:  Upper Middle Grade Fantasy
The Pitch:  Wizards have turned the world topsy-turvy. The sky is green. The grass is purple. Streams are pale pink. An abused, fourteen-year old princess is the only being able to change it back. But – not as a girl. A dragon’s tear transforms her into a prince. To triumph over magic, she must find out who she is and who she wants to be.

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 Sharron 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 the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in September, which is not very far away at all at this point, so we could really use some new pitches!!

Sharron has struggled mightily with this pitch and is very much looking forward to your thoughts!

I am looking forward to hearing everyone’s reactions to the new pitch pick system.  Do you like it?  Would you prefer to have the old pitch and the revised pitch both shown so you can compare, or would that make too much reading or be confusing?  Inquiring minds want to know 🙂

Summer Short & Sweet – Week 2

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Hurray!!!  It’s time for another Short & Sweet!  But first…

I have returned from The Pine Tree State where I still did not see a moose!  I saw signs – “Moose Crossing”, “Watch for moose in roadway” and just plain

but although pretty much everyone else in the northern hemisphere has seen an actual moose, I still haven’t.  Don’t get me wrong… I do not want to meet one in my car at 60 mph!  I just want to see a real one looking serene in his or her natural surroundings 🙂 preferably alongside a cute baby moose 🙂

Anyway, onto business.  The winner of the June pitch pick, whose pitch will go for a read by editor Erin Molta, is none other than the fabulous Lori with her pitch for These Little Piggies!  Congratulations, Lori!  And congratulations and thanks to all who bravely put forth their pitches – you are all winners in my book just for stepping up to the plate!

In other Would You Read It news, the vote for whether or not to keep the system the way it is was TOTALLY evenly split and indecisive!  So now what?  I don’t know.  I’ll have to think on it.  While I think, nothing will change.  If anyone has thoughts or opinions, please share 🙂

Now then, are you ready?  Let the fun begin!!!!!!!!

Today’s Short & Sweet will work best if you don’t peek 🙂  I’m not sure quite how to accomplish that on a blog post, so let’s go on the honor system – no scrolling down yet!

First, pick a number from 1-10.  Got it?  Write it down.

Now pick a number from 1-10 again and write that down.

Now do it again.

And now one last time.

(BTW, it’s okay of you pick the same number more than once.  If you want to make it really random you can roll a pair of dice and just discard any 11s or 12s you roll, or take an ace-10 out of a deck of cards and randomly choose cards.)

Hopefully you now have 4 numbers between 1 and 10 written down (for example, I have 3, 7, 1, and 5)

Now, use your first number to select from this list:


  1. A pirate who likes to sing
  2. A little girl who doesn’t want to practice her violin
  3. A zookeeper with a lost animal
  4. A 5 year old girl with a rainbow umbrella
  5. A homeless child
  6. A boy whose father is a Navy SEAL
  7. A monster who is afraid of thunderstorms
  8. A disobedient robot
  9. A sailor who is far from home
  10. A six year old boy who can’t ride his two-wheeler

Use your second number to select from this list:

  1. a museum
  2. a national park
  3. a playground
  4. a big city
  5. a birthday party
  6. the porch of an old farmhouse
  7. an enchanted forest
  8. a fancy restaurant
  9. the moon
  10. Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Shop

Use your third number to select from this list:

  1. first day of school
  2. the Fourth of July
  3. during a thunderstorm
  4. in early autumn
  5. sitting down to breakfast
  6. bath time
  7. the first warm day of spring
  8. during church
  9. a winter evening
  10. after a fight

And use your last number to select from this list:

  1. something embarrassing has just happened
  2. someone feels like giving up
  3. someone has to keep a secret
  4. an important decision has to be made
  5. someone has lost something
  6. someone has found something
  7. someone’s pride has been injured
  8. something is where it shouldn’t be
  9. someone has been chosen for something
  10. something has made someone mad

You should now have a randomly selected character, setting, time, and situation/challenge – everything you need to prompt a story!

In the comments below, list the 4 you got and write 50-100 words of whatever story they suggest to you!  Don’t agonize!  Don’t over-think!  We’re all among friends.  Just write!  All we’re doing here is priming the pump.  If all you can squeeze out is 50 rusty words, that’s fine!  You wrote 50 words in the middle of your hectic, busy day!  But maybe, just maybe, 25-50 more will trickle out a little less rusty, and maybe after you’ve written your 50-100 here you’ll find you’ve got a gush of clear water rushing forth and a whole  new story will well up and land on your list of accomplishments for today!

Oh, and if you find it’s too hard to include all 4, it’s okay to just use 1, 2, or 3 of the prompts you picked – the exercise is just to get ideas and words flowing 🙂

Here’s my example in case you don’t quite get it:
The numbers I chose were 3, 7, 1, 5, so I get

Character #3 – a zookeeper with a lost animal
Setting #7 – an enchanted forest
Time #1 – the first day of school
and Situation/Challenge #5 – someone has lost something (which accidentally overlaps with the character description so I’m only going with one lost thing!)
Given these prompts, I might write the following 50-100 words:
George took his job as zookeeper of the enchanted forest very seriously.
At the end of each day he checked that the unicorns had plenty of magic meadow grass.
He made sure the griffin’s nest was comfy and the sphinx had his book of riddles.
He tested the mermaids’ pool – it would never do if it was too cold!
He made sure the dragon had plenty of fresh water in case he set his bed (or anything else!) on fire.
Then he double-checked that all the cages were locked, said, “Good night my friends!”, and went home to his supper.
But on the first school day of the year, with Miss Venus’s class field trip due any minute, George arrived to find that the Loch Ness Monster, had gone missing!
“How can this be?” he moaned, wringing his hands.  “I was so careful!  And Nessie’s cage is still locked!”

(OK.  I’m wordy.  And I got caught up 🙂 149 words.)
See how easy?  Ready, set, WRITE! 🙂  I can’t wait to see what you come up with! 🙂

P.S.  For anyone who’s just finding Summer Short & Sweets, full info is on that link or above in the tab 🙂

Q&A With Editor Erin Molta, Plus Pitch Pick #9, Plus The Giveaway Winners!

Apparently I have too many things to post for the number of post days I have.  I have no idea how this happens.  I’m usually so reserved with my words 🙂  (I hear you laughing!  Don’t worry – I couldn’t say it with a straight face either :))

ANYWAY, today we have a bit of a smorgasbord.

First, we’re a little behind on the June Pitch Pick.  See what happens when we all go on vacation? 🙂

Here is a little refresher:

#1 Laura

Working Title:  Uncle Larry
Age/Genre:  PB
The Pitch:  A true story about Uncle Larry, a special child/adult who grew up on a farm, trained and loved animals, liked to play and work, got into mischief, and taught us how to love someone a little different by loving everyone himself.

#2 Rita

Working Title: Elephant And Dolphin
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch:  Elephant and Dolphin meet every morning by the sea. But Elephant lives on the land and Dolphin lives in the ocean.  Elephant eats grass while Dolphin eats fish. Elephant trumpets and Dolphin clicks.  How can these two play together with the differences they have between them?  Elephant and Dolphin find out how friendship overcomes everything.

#3 Lori

Working Title:  These Little Piggies
Age/Genre: Rhyming Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch:  In this Mother Goose mash-up, five little piggies are living happily in a shoe until a callous old woman forces her way in and turns their lives head over tails.  The piggies decide to set a trap for the old woman so, the first little piggy goes to market… the second little piggy stays home…  Will they succeed in giving the old coot the boot?

#4 Anna

Working Title:  Hug-A-Bug Travels To Egypt
Age/Genre:  Picture Book (ages 3-8)
The Pitch:  Fasten your seat belts and prepare for a high-flying trip with Hug-A-Bug to the famous Giza Pyramids. On his visit, he wows the reader with the exploration of hieroglyphics and Egyptian phrases. During his travels, he meets up with someone who needs a hug. Who will he meet this time? 

Please vote below for your favorite by Wednesday July 11 at 11:59PM EDT.

The winner’s pitch will go for a read by editor Erin Molta (who is here with us today! – so exciting!)

But hang on for one more second before we get to Erin because I have other exciting news, too – the winners of the giveaways from our generous self-publishing mini-series authors!

And the winners (as chosen by random.org) are…..

For the set of 3 hardcover Gator’s Gang picture books from Suzanne McGovern – Catherine J!!!

For a paperback copy of the fabulous Show Me How from Vivian Kirkfield – Beth S!!!

For an e-book of The Adventures Of Lucy Snigglefritz from Patrick Milne – Vivian K!!!

And for a paperback picture book of Meg The Egg from Rita Borg –  Erik (I don’t know you’re last initial :))!!!

Catherine, Beth, Vivian, and Erik, please email me so we can organize book signing and mailing!

And now, the post we’ve all been looking forward to for some time, our Q&A with the fabulous Erin Molta.  Erin is an experienced senior editor of picture book, early readers, chapter, middle grade, and YA books, as well as novelty and licensed titles. She has been in children’s publishing for more than twenty years and has a keen understanding of early reader through YA audiences. She has an excellent reputation with established authors, illustrators, and agents.  She is currently evaluating manuscripts for 
publishers as well as freelance editing for prospective authors before submission to publishing houses.

Questions from readers are below in blue, answers from Erin in green.

From Clar:  For Erin: I wonder if a ms with monsters and bedtime is has been written about too much and if she would just throw it in the trash without reading the whole pitch or does she think there’s a chance for it to go through. 
Though it has been done, it’s all in the matter of the telling — because it’s such a universal topic a fresh take on it is always welcome.
From Coleen:  I’m always curious to hear what kinds of manuscripts publishers are buying right now. 🙂
Ha! They wish they knew! Publishing usually goes in cycles. For a while it was Harry Potter and fantasy. Then there was Twilight and other paranormal-type books. Now it seems, in YA at least,that suspense is the up and coming genre. For middle grade books there doesn’t tend to be such a flocking to the genres and subgenres. Every publisher is looking for the next best thing—the next Harry Potter or Goosebumps, Percy Jackson . . .
From Julie H:  I guess I’d have to say my top curiosity right now is whether editors are still finding picture books to be a hard sell and, if so, whether she thinks that will change any time soon.
I think the picture book market is picking up a bit—mostly because it follows the baby booms. And there are more babies now.  Even with e-books and Apps, parents still want books to sit down and read to their kids.
From Darshana:  Any tips for PB authors (not PB author/illustrator) for writing unique/quirky PB under 300 words. I have noticed a lot of PBs I like are written by author/illustrators that are short on text, where the humor and quirkiness is carried in the pictures. I know I can come up with clever stories however since I am only a PB author, I get nervous about using too many illustrator notes, as that could turn-off an editor. 
Illustrator notes don’t necessarily turn off an editor, but they should only be used to point out what may not be obvious from the text—for instance if you are imagining that the characters are animals as opposed to people or if you are envisioning a twist that must be present in the art. No need to describe clothing or setting unless it directly impacts the story.
From Julie R-Z:  Questions for Erin:
Vocabulary: when and why does an editor like or dislike BIG words (son’s 1st gr. teacher called them million dollar words!) in a PB manuscript?
It’s all about appropriateness. If big words further the plot or are essential and are the best word choice for the story, then they are OK. You don’t want to have the story that as a parent etc. is reading they have to stop to explain every 5th word to a child. Then it becomes a vocab lesson and not an enjoyable read. The more important part of writing is not the words themselves but how they are used. If you say Jane is melancholy you are saying she is sad but if you show us why she is sad—“Usually when Jane came home from school, Gramma would be sitting at the table stirring milk into her coffee, reading the historical romances they liked to share. There would be an apple on a plate for Jane. Today there was no Gramma and no paperback book. Just an apple—on a napkin. Jane’s chest felt heavy and her eyes welled up.” You bring the scene alive and a reader will get the melancholy feeling by showing rather than telling.

Cliches: I understand that’s a no-no, but when used sparingly is it not appropriate if it can teach apre-schooler about the meaning behind a cliche?
Again, it’s all about the story. If you are writing a story about clichés or if they serve to bring the scene alive—then used sparingly, they are fine.

In general do editor’s agree on common mistakes or are the peeves more often personal? If so, give us the dirt Erin!
There are no general peeves—but words for the sake of the words as opposed to the story is a common mistake that most editors detest –and typos and spelling mistakes in a query are a nonofor us all.
From Jarm:  I also would like to know what place there is in the publishing world for picture books with more than 800 word counts. I was thinking of PBs for older children on non-fiction topics, that are woven into a story, such as “Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride” by Pam Muñoz Ryan.
Any place—again it depends on the editor. Nonfiction normally does lend itself to longer text, but check publisher’s lists and see who tends to publish more nonfiction picture books. Clarion tends to, as does Charlesbridge and smaller presses like Eerdmans and Bearport Publishing.
From Kirsten:  I’m most interested in hearing what makes it out of the slushpile (for nonfiction) and why. What are editors looking for on the nonfiction side?
Editors tend to follow the school curriculum so check out a standard curriculum—say 4th graders do the American Revolution and 2nd graders learn about the night sky and maps. Seasonal topics, too—books about apples, pumpkins, and growing things, if done in a fresh unique way, are some popular topics. Animals are popular, too, but again, something new like unusual animal friendships or animals that have strange stories—like a penguin who shows up on a beach in Florida. Cute animals don’t hurt either.
From Penny:  a question that I have been wondering about…when I read online in submission guidelines that a publishing house/agent is closed to submissions except for folks they’ve met at a conference OR REFERRALS FROM OTHER PROFESSIONALS…I always wonder just who all is included in those OTHER professionals. Does it mean just other editors/agents? Can it mean another published author? Does it ever happen that a published someone that runs a critique service happens upon a manuscript they refer onto one of the publishing houses/agents who is closed to submissions except for the circumstances I mentioned. 
Yes J A referral from a published author will make it past the editorial assistant’s eagle eyes. It has happened that a published author has recommended someone and they have been published.
From Erik:  I would like to know the top three common mistakes writers make and what makes her want to read a MS.
Hmm . . . top three mistakes. #1 is when an author tells the story rather than showing—see above for how describing a scene and making a reader feel the character’s feelings works better than using big words or just saying, Jane was sad. #2 is sending manuscripts full of errors. That’s an immediate turn-off. #3 When an author tells you how their kindergarten class or their kids and kids friends love the manuscript. Of course they do. What kids are going to tell their teacher/parent/grandparent that they DON’T like their story?

I do hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did, and Erin’s answers will be helpful to you!

Come on over on Wednesday and help Rita with her MG pitch!  Have a great day!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Mowing and The May Pitch Winner and The May PPBF Winner

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program for an important service announcement from our sponsor:

For anyone who might not have read Monday’s post, this is our second to last week of Perfect Picture Books before summer.  PPBF will go on hiatus from (and including) June 22 – August 31.  After June 15, the next PPBF date will be Friday September 7.  I apologize to anyone whose style this cramps, but I just can’t be sure of being able to keep up over the summer.  The updating is very time consuming and there have been glitches lately which means work has to be redone, and I am going to be crazy busy for the next 12 weeks.  Plus, a lot of you are going to be busy and traveling and etc. too.  So we can all take a break for the summer – read and gather up lots of great picture books for the fall.  In the meantime, there will be fun and games going on around here on Fridays to keep you from missing PPBF too much – Summer Short & Sweets! – quick writing fun served with fresh lemonade and cookies 🙂

We now return you to the program already in progress 🙂

Apparently all I can think about this week is baby deer 🙂

So in about 14 seconds you’ll understand why I chose this week’s Perfect Picture Book 🙂

Written By:  Jessie Haas
Illustrated By:  Jos. A. Smith
Greenwillow Books, 1994, Fiction
Suitable For: ages 4-8

Themes/Topics: farms, grandparents, generations, modernization, respect for wildlife, vehicles

Opening:  “Early in the morning Gramp and Nora go to the field to mow.  They hear the cry of the bobolink, the swish of the tall grass, the thud of the horses’ hooves.
At the edge of the field Gramp lowers the cutter bar.
“Hop off, Nora,” he says.  “You’ll be safer on the ground.”  Gramp speaks softly to the horses.  “Giddap!”  They walk, and the mowing machine begins to clatter.”

Brief Synopsis:  Just as morning is peeking over the horizon, Gramp and Nora head out to mow the hay.  Gramp drives an old-fashioned sickle bar mower with Nora in his lap holding the reins.  When they reach the field, it’s Nora’s job to hop down and keep an eye out for any little animal that might be injured by the horses or the cutter blades.  What does she see?  (I’m betting you can guess one thing she sees! :))  When the mowing is done, two tall islands of grass still stand.  Gramp says some would call that a bad job of mowing, but he and Nora know better.  They know they have taken care to leave the animals safe and protected.

Links To Resources: Fawn Coloring Page 1, Fawn Coloring Page 2, Fawn Facts, National Geographic Groundhog Facts, National Geographic Killdeer Facts.  Talk about the difference in the way hay is mowed today.  Talk about other situations where you might want to be respectful of wildlife.

Why I Like This Book:  This is the kind of sweet, quiet book that I absolutely love.  My kids loved it too, and we read it over and over and over.  The language is gentle, the story is simple with that nostalgic feel of hearkening back to a different time, and the message of caring for all the creatures who share our world is lovely.  On top of that, the art is just beautiful, particularly the way the artist captured the changing light, from dawn through late afternoon, and the different perspectives he uses.  It’s a wonderful book for nap time, bedtime, or anytime kids need to unwind.

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

Before we all head off for the weekend, I have a couple other things to say (because I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t, right? :))

First, I know none of you were able to sleep last night, wondering who the winner of the coveted May Pitch Contest would be.

And I’m going to tell you just as soon as I finish singing 99 Bottles of Pop On The Wall (because this is a kid-friendly blog where we would never think of drinking anything stronger than soda pop :))

“OOOHHHH…….!!!!!  99 bottles of pop on the wall, 99 bottles of pop.  You take one down and pass it around, 98 bottles of pop on the wall.  98 bottles of pop on the wall, 98 bottles of pop….”

Everyone!  Join in!  Can you hear me on all seven continents???

OK, OK, enough of that.  Would you guys quit fooling around?  We have important business here.  I’m trying to tell you, if you would stop caterwauling, that the winner of the May Pitch Pick is………

ELIZABETH!!! with her pitch for MAGNIFICENT!!!

WOO-HOO!  Well done!  I must tell you, it was an exceptionally tight race!  So congratulations to Elizabeth, and to everyone who bravely entered and hopefully learned a lot so they can now feel more confident about their pitches.

And NOW, just when you thought the prize giving was over for the day, it’s NOT!

As you know, I like to thank all the wonderful participants in PPBF for their hard work each month by randomly selecting a blogger to receive a prize!  The winner for May is Laura R at I’ve Got A Book For That!!!  Please email me, Laura, and let me know which you would like for your prize: *rummaging in my bag of goodies…* let’s see… your choice of Red Knit Cap Girl, Chicks Run Wild, a signed copy of Can’t Sleep Without Sheep, or a $15 Amazon Gift Card.

PPBF bloggers, please add your post specific link to the list below, and everyone have a great weekend!