Straight From The Editor x 6 – A Pitch Polishing Extravaganza!

Okay… so it’s possible I didn’t post this Saturday or Sunday…! 🙂

But hey! It’s a great way to start the week, isn’t it?

What could be better than a Monday brimming with expert advice on how to polish pitches from an experienced and distinguished editor such as Erin Molta?

(The answer to that is a Monday brimming with expert advice on how to polish pitches from an experienced and distinguished editor such as Erin Molta accompanied by a delicious chocolate snack 🙂 )

I’m pretty sure I have some brownies… hang on… yep! (There are pretty much always brownies at my house 🙂 )

a645a-pb2bbrownie2

Now then! Expert pitch advice! Let’s dive in!

January/February 2018

The pitch winner was Erik with his pitch for STOYANOVICH IN PARIS (MG Historical Fantasy)

Nikolai Stoyanovich Krisayev is the last of a long line of Russian rat nobility, living in exile in 1880’s Paris. When he rescues a visiting mouse princess from armed kidnappers, he is thrust into the midst of a silent war being waged secretly in the streets and sewers of the city.
With only his wits, his father’s sword, and the aid of a shadowy figure who may or may not be on their side, he will have to fight to save both the princess and the city he loves.

Erin’s comments are as follows:

While this pitch is intriguing it’s also very confusing. In order for an editor to agree to ask for it, you might be better off simplifying. While mysterious is good, an editor especially wants to know what’s the heart of the story. For instance, Nikolai is the last rat of the royal line, but I am assuming he’s not the last rat alive, correct? Make that clear, especially since he apparently rescues a mouse princess…Aren’t rats and mice normally enemies? Are the two rodent populations fighting this silent war that’s destroying Paris? Try to be more clear and I think this has potential.

March 2018

The pitch winner was Jean with her pitch for A LITTLE WITCHY (PB ages 4-8)

After Beatrice decides being a witch is more appealing than being mortal, she begins acting a little witchy. But her failed attempts at casting spells and mixing magic potions land her in lots of toil and trouble! And her bumbling exploits soon attract the ire of witches, who offer to help her improve her witchery skills. Now Beatrice must decide rather to become a witch or be the best mortal she can be, and leave the witching to the real witches.

Erin said:

This is cute! Though I would go through it and watch the repetition, especially of witches, witchery… Even using sorceress or something like that would work better.

I’d also cut the last part of the last sentence and do something more like: Now Beatrice must decide whether to remain mortal and make the best of it or become a witch—good or bad.

April 2018

The pitch winner was Corine with her pitch for Willamina The Wolf Spider (PB ages 6-9)

Willamina the wolf spider wants more than anything to keep her spiderlings safe, but when her tummy starts grumbling, she knows it’s time to hunt. Not an easy task with three hundred spiderlings on her back! To make matters worse, it is full moon, and she is not the only one who is hungry. Willamina has to outsmart an owl, a shrew, and, in the end, a woman with a broom—an incident that forces her to release her spiderlings, but not before telling them they are going on a flying adventure.

Erin had this to say:

This is cute. Sometimes I suggest clarity but in this instance I feel it’s not necessary to tell the ending, unless the story is about the spiderlings’ adventures? If not and it’s about a wolf spider mama trying to keep her babies safe, then I wouldn’t let the reader know that she was forced to send them out into the wild wild world—in a pitch. I’d end it something like: Wilhelmina has to outsmart an owl, and a shrew, among others. Can she keep her spiderlings safe from the hungry predators on the prowl?

May 2018

The pitch winner was Jackie with her pitch for One Smart Cookie: The Story of Ruth Wakefield and the Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie (NF PB ages 4-8)

For years the invention of the chocolate chip cookie has been hailed a happy accident. Perhaps it was, or perhaps it was the clever invention of a clever lady. Devour every morsel of this mystery and decide if it was a lucky mistake or the creation of one smart cookie.

Erin said:

Sounds delectable! See my tweaks to get rid of the repetition and hopefully make it more pithy.

For years the invention of the chocolate chip cookie has been hailed a happy accident. Perhaps it was, or perhaps it was the ingenious invention of a clever lady. Devour every morsel of this mystery and decide if it was a lucky mistake or one smart cookie creation.

June 2018

The pitch winner was Patricia with her pitch for Amy’s Birdsong Aires/American Composer Amy Cheney Beach (NF PB ages 4-8)

Amy wasn’t an ordinary child. A musical prodigy, she could accurately sing any song she heard. Amy wanted to sing, play the piano, and write music, but girls in the late 1800’s didn’t grow up to do such manly things. Despite the times, her talents blossomed and she gained recognition.When a professor learned that Amy had perfect pitch, he asked her to help him ‘name the birds’, which ended up being a very important thing.

Erin’s comments were:

I like the idea of this story but in order for the pitch to catch an editor’s attention you need to clarify and simplify a bit. For instance, “naming the birds” until you read the story doesn’t make sense so you need to tell us exactly what the professor wanted  from Amy and what she did. Tell us because that’s what’s interesting. I’d also shorten it a bit by omitting some of the extraneous info. See below.

Amy wasn’t an ordinary child. She could accurately sing any song she heard. Amy wanted to sing, play the piano, and write music, but girls in the late 1800’s didn’t grow up to do such manly things. But when a professor learned that Amy had perfect pitch, he asked her to help him ‘name the birds’, which ended up being a very important thing. (tell us what exactly she helped the professor do.)

July 2018

The pitch winner was Greg with his pitch for The Remindeer (PB ages 4-10)

Wally has a very important job, to make sure everything goes smoothly for Santa on Christmas Eve. After going through his checklist and seeing Santa off, he discovers a present for Laurie has been left behind.

Unlike the other reindeer, Wally can’t fly. He calls a delivery service and finds out they are too busy to deliver the present. He’ll have to find another way to deliver the present and save Christmas for Laurie.

Erin had these comments:

How synchronistic that I’m reading this actually in the Christmas season! And it sounds great. My one suggestion is to tighten it up a bit and leave us with more of a question of how Wally will save the day. See my tweaks below.

Wally makes sure everything goes smoothly for Santa on Christmas Eve. But after seeing Santa off, he discovers a present for Laurie has been left behind.

Unlike the other reindeer, Wally can’t fly. He calls a delivery service but they are too busy. How will Wally get the present to Laurie and save Christmas?

Whew! That was a lot of pitch practice!  Have another brownie!

I hope you all found Erin’s input as helpful as I did! It’s great to get advice Straight From The Editor’s mouth!

One of these days, when Erin and I get our ducks in a row, we will finish the Straight From The Editor’s for 2018.  There are three more – one for September, one for October, and one for November/December.  But we’re still working on the last two pitch picks!  Seriously! Where is my brilliant, organized, volunteer personal assistant when I need her! 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone! Happy writing!

(P.S. and I hope some of that happy writing is on your Valentiny Contest entry! 🙂 )

Would You Read It Wednesday #227 -Grandmother’s Parrots (PB) PLUS The May, June And July Pitch Pick Winners And Straight From The Editor!!!

Happy Wednesday to you, folks!

You know, I don’t when the world got so busy!  But it surely did!  Everyone but everyone seems to have more to manage than they can keep up with.  We all muddle along as best we can, but sometimes Straight From The Editors have to wait awhile until the editor in question has time to read and comment on the pitch!

I usually announce the pitch pick winners and tell them that their pitch is on its way to editor Erin Molta for her read and comments and they will hear from her shortly.  But THIS time, I sent the winning pitches to Erin and she replied before I got the post up, so today you get the whole shebang – pitch winners AND Straight From The Editor!

But, in our busy busy world, this time we’re AHEAD of schedule!  (Please take note and enjoy it… it’s not likely to ever happen again 🙂 )

So first off, the June Pitch Pick was won by Susan with her PB pitch for Bossy Bird.  Congratulations, Susan!!!  *confetti*  *multi-colored balloons*  *cheering from all sides!*

The July Pitch Pick was won by Robyn with her MG pitch for Fear On The Mountain.  Congratulations, Robyn!!!  *more confetti* *celebratory double-decker chocolate cupcakes*  *thunderous applause*

I’d also like to congratulate and thank all the other June and July pitchers who wrote strong pitches for amazing-sounding stories and then worked to revise their pitches based on your wonderful feedback.  It takes courage to share a pitch here!  And Would You Read It wouldn’t be what it is without all the  writers who put their work on the line, braving constructive criticism for the sake of their craft – so they can make their pitches stronger – and so all of us can learn.  Great job all of you!  Really!  And while I’m at it, I’d like to thank all of you for being so generous with your time and expertise, sharing your reactions, comments, advice and help each week to aid our pitchers on their quest for pitch perfection!  You are all lovely!!!

Moving right along, we’ve now got Straight From The Editor for May, June AND July!

 

May – Melissa – Walking With Memphis

You will recall Melissa’s winning pitch:

Walking With Memphis: Inspired By A Real Dog (Nonfiction Picture Book ages 3-8)

When Memphis becomes paralyzed and loses his wag, he must learn to walk with a wheelchair. He worries his dog days will never be the same, but he digs up the courage to embark on an adventurous discovery of all that he is capable of and what it means to be a lucky dog.

Here are editor Erin Molta’s thoughts:

This sounds like a great story. However, if you’re calling it nonfiction then you can’t have the story from Memphis’s point of view. It needs to be an omniscient narrator. If it is “inspired” by a true story then it can be just a picture book and not nonfiction. Then you can keep it in the dog’s POV. Besides that, I have a slight tweak to suggest

When Memphis becomes paralyzed and loses his wag, he must learn to walk with a wheelchair. He worries his dog days will never be the same, but he digs up the courage to embark on an adventurous journey to discover all that he was capable of and what it meant to be a lucky dog.

June – Susan – Bossy Bird (PB)

Here is Susan’s winning pitch:

Bossy Bird is the largest, loudest and bossiest bird of the bunch.  When the fed up flock ruffles HIS feathers, he leaves the safety of the group.  With danger crouching around the corner, Bossy Bird must find a way to save the birds that sent him away and discovers that being the boss is not as important as being a friend.

And here are Erin’s thoughts:

This is nice! I just have one tweak and that’s to add in that he’s been forced out, rather than he “leaves” the safety of the group because that makes it more clear that they didn’t want him, so him saving them from the creature has more resonance.

 Bossy Bird is the largest, loudest and bossiest bird of the bunch.  Then the fed up flock ruffles HIS feathers and forced him out.  With danger crouching around the corner, Bossy Bird must find a way to save the birds that sent him away and discovers that being the boss is not as important as being a friend.

July – Robyn – Fear On The Mountain (MG)

Here is Robyn’s winning pitch:

What was supposed to be an idyllic birthday of fun and horseback riding becomes a grueling test of survival.
Thirteen-year-old Anna, a diabetic, doesn’t plan on getting lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina without her insulin bottle. But that’s what happens, thanks to the carelessness of Claire, her best friend.
When Claire’s horse gets loose they leave the trail to find him. They find themselves lost with nighttime closing in. Wild animals, a storm, and devastating injuries won’t stop Anna from searching for a way down the mountain. Or will they?

And here are Erin’s thoughts:

Sounds like it could be exciting. It might work better if you trim the extra info. and stick to the highlights. Also, no need to end on a question because that doesn’t actually make people want to read to find out the answer—since it’s pretty much a given, anyway.

 Best of luck!

What was supposed to be an idyllic birthday of fun and horseback riding turns into a nightmare.

Thirteen-year-old Anna, a diabetic, ends up lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina without her insulin bottle, thanks to the carelessness of Claire, her best friend.

When they must search for Claire’s horse, they find themselves lost with nighttime closing in. Wild animals, a storm, and (be specific about the injury) become a grueling test of survival that Anna and Claire must pass in order to get home.

As always, I find Erin’s perspective so helpful and enlightening, and I hope you all do too!

Wow!  That was A LOT of pitch winning and Straight-From-The-Editoring!  (It’s feast or famine around here in that department!)  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Something Chocolate!  (aren’t I always? 🙂 )  How about some fresh, cinnamon-scented cider donuts?  Okay.  Technically not chocolate.  But I found them on a blog called Chocolate Chocolate And More, and it’s fall… and you all know my weakness for cider donuts…  So here are some – warm, cinnamon-sugary, and delicious to dunk into your coffee while you help today’s pitcher with her pitch – and I’ll give you some chocolate hot fudge sauce to go along with them 🙂

cider-donuts

Recipe HERE at ChocolateChocolateAndMore (do not be fooled that the url mentions white chocolate caramel gingerbread cookie cups – which also sound delicious – the url is correct and has the donut recipe!)

Now go ahead!  Dip in hot fudge sauce to your chocolatey little heart’s content! 🙂

Now then, onto today’s pitch which comes to us from Patricia whom you may remember from her previous pitch for Bird And The Baker in March.  Patricia is a pre-published author and long-time 12×12 and PiBoIdMo participant. She primarily writes picture books, which she loved reading with her three children when they were young and hopes to read with grandchildren sometime in the future (the first wedding looms!). Patricia lives with her husband, an orange and white Toller pup, and more than 400 high school students at a New England boarding school. She loves travel and gardening.

Find her on twitter @ptntweets, or reviewing Perfect Picture Books at  Wander, Ponder, Write.  

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: Grandmother’s Parrots

Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 6-9)

The Pitch: Charlotte isn’t happy about her first solo overnight at Grandmother’s house. Grandmother is so old, and her house is so creepy! But when Charlotte discovers the joys of birdwatching and uncovers a secret from Grandmother’s past, Charlotte wishes she could stay much longer.

Grandmother’s Parrots explores the London Blitz from a child’s perspective and the origin of London’s parrot population.

 

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 Patricia 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 October, so you have a little time to polish your pitch before putting it up for helpful feedback and have a chance to have it read by editor Erin Molta!

Patricia is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to enjoying the Season Of Cider Donuts (yes, I think it should be capitalized and celebrated as its own Season! 🙂 ) to the fullest possible extent!!!

Have a wonderful cider donut-filled Wednesday everyone!!! 🙂

 

Monday Morning Special: A Straight From The Editor Extravaganza!

Good Monday to you, favorite peeps!

I am a fan of Mondays.  They are like mornings – new beginnings full of hope and possibility for good things.  Just because yesterday or last week may not have been all you hoped doesn’t mean things can’t turn around today!

This could be the day you get a BRILLIANT idea for a picture book!  The kind that makes you fish desperately in the glove compartment for an ATM receipt with ketchup on it and contort yourself to reach the partially melted crayon from the backseat of the car and start scribbling madly at a traffic light because ideas like this don’t come along every day and you’ve got to grab it while it’s hot!

This could be the day you finally get the opening sentence of your WIP just exactly right!  The content, the mood, the tone, the language – perfect for hooking anyone and everyone who reads it!

It could be the day you compose a query letter so perfect that it gets you a request!

You know that agent you desperately want to sign with?  The one you’re crossing your fingers and toes and eyes and everything else crossable for a positive response from?  This could be the day she calls and asks to represent you!

It could even be the day you get “the call” – the one where your fantabulous agent or esteemed Editor X says, “I have an offer for you!” 🙂

So embrace Monday 🙂

Here is a sunshiny picture to help get you in the mood (because if you live anywhere near me it is currently raining and you might have forgotten what a sunshiny morning looks like 🙂 )

spring morning

Oh, and that green stuff is grass, which could start growing at any moment, although there isn’t any yet in my neck of the woods 🙂

To help you love Monday, here is the long-awaited backlog of Straight From The Editors that we have been hoping to catch up with.  Editor Erin Molta finally had time to send them, and a mere 3 and a half weeks later Yours Truly is finally putting together the post to deliver all this amazing knowledge and expertise to YOU!  What a way to start off your morning and your Monday and your week! 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

For JuneMichelle – The Sunflower Traveler (Chapter Book ages 6-9) 

Rhea’s interest in growing sunflowers for Petal Path’s Magazine Contest turned into a quest to help her family when her dad lost his job. Her final requirement for the contest is to describe something new about her sunflowers. But time traveling through a sunflower, talking with birds, and instructing a new gardener from the past may be more than she’s bargained for. Will Rhea solve her sunflower problem and still make it back in time to enter the contest?

Erin’s comments:  

Cute premise for a story! As for the pitch, it’s better if you don’t end with a question because of course, especially in children’s books, the conflict will be resolved. So, though you can ask questions, it’s better to make the reader want to know HOW it was resolved rather than asking the obvious question—if.

So, I would rework it something like this: Rhea’s interest in growing sunflowers for Petal Path’s Magazine Contest turned into a quest to help her family when her dad lost his job. Her final requirement for the contest is to describe something new about her sunflowers. But who would believe that she time traveled through her sunflower, talked with birds, and instructed a new gardener from the past?  Rhea needs to come up with a way to describe her sunflower situation in a way to not only help the people in the past but her family as well. 

For JulyKirsten – Stuck In The Muck (PB ages 4-8)

Sir Whiskerson loves kitty facials and paw-dicures. When he comes whisker to whisker with a mangy mutt named Sunny, Whiskerson is desperate to remain pristine. But with Sunny stuck in the muck and sinking, Whiskerson must decide whether doing the right thing is worth a gloppy, sloppy fur coat.

Erin’s comments:

This seems adorable but it would have more impact if we knew if Sunny was a friend or foe. Were Sunny and Whiskerson rivals before he was stuck in the muck? If you can get that in then I think this would be fab.

(August was blogcation – no pitching or pitch picks :))

For September:  Zainab – Dear Cat (PB ages 4-8) 

Persistent Bird keeps bugging Cat with his letters to be his friend.  Cat snubs Bird…until it’s snack time. Cat is ready for a tasty meal except Bird has his own devious plan in mind for this “clever” cat.

Erin’s comments:

This sounds like it could be interesting but I think you need to be more specific. I’m not quite sure what Bird’s letters have to do with a devious plan to trick Cat. It would work better if you framed it more simply: “Bird wants to be Cat’s friend but Cat snubs Bird. When it’s snack time Bird makes Cat notice him by (whatever it is he does)…  and Cat realizes that perhaps birds can be good friends.”

For October: Kirk – My Next Door Neighbor Is A Dragon Princess! (MG)

I didn’t care much for Maddie Buckner. At two, she bit my ear. At four she pushed me off a slide. At 8, she broke my favorite model airplane that took five months to build. At 10, she kissed me – on the lips! – under the Big Toy in the playground and told me she loved me. At 11, she spit in my face and said she hated me. Then she asked Parker Williams to the sock hop. Parker Williams! Oh, how I despised her. But then she had to go and save my life. That’s when I discovered her secret.

Erin’s comments:

I love this. Gets the tension in and the voice and the humor! The only thing I would suggest is making the numbers consistent. In theory, all of them should be written out but if you prefer not to do that, then they should all be numerical. And I just tightened it up a tad.

I didn’t care much for Maddie Buckner. At two, she bit my ear. At four she pushed me off a slide. At eight, she broke my favorite model airplane that took five months to build. At ten, she kissed me – on the lips! – under the Big Toy in the playground and told me she loved me. At eleven, she spit in my face and said she hated me. Then she asked Parker Williams to the sock hop. Parker Williams! Oh, how I despised her. But then she saved my life. That’s when I discovered her secret.

For November: Jessica – Showdown At The Sippy Cup Saloon! (PB ages 4-8)

In the tiny town of Toddle, in the cradle of the West, Sheriff Wyatt Burp is snoozing in his crib when Wild Bill Hiccup arrives to wake up — and shake up — the pint-size population.  “Don’t go gettin’ yer onesie in a twist,” Wild Bill warns Wyatt, but tempers flare until the two go bib to bib in a showdown at the Sippy Cup Saloon. Who will emerge the rootin’ tootin’ squirt gun shootin’ hero of the West?

Erin’s comments:

This sounds like it could be adorable! The only thing I would worry about is making it too precious. AND, it’s best not to end with a question. What if you framed it as more of a statement: Wild Bill Hiccup and Sheriff Wyatt Burp face off to decide who will emerge as the rootin’ tootin’ squirt gun shootin’ hero of the West.

So much fantastic advice as always from Erin!  We are so lucky to have her, and she is so very generous to share her expertise with us!  Thank you, Erin, and thanks to all the writers who step up each month to share their pitches so that all of us can benefit and learn!

I hope you’ll all find Erin’s comments very educational and helpful.

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone!

(And in case, in spite of all the advice and uplifting words about Monday you’re still longing for it to be Saturday, I have two helpful words for you:  Mister Softee 🙂 )