June 26, 2013

Would You Read It Wednesday #94 - Granola Bars For Dinner (PB) AND Straight From The Editor


You don't have to tell me.

I know my blog has gone to the dogs this week :)  Skipping regular posting days - quel horror! :)  And (I realize this borders on treason) no chocolate today because I don't have any.

But that's because I'm here...
...staying here...
yes, that is Princess Blue Kitty herself! :)
...among the beach plum blossoms....

...with the likes of this little guy in the front yard...
... and my crew of miscreants :)...

...technically on vacation and hanging out with the fam.  (Which means limited work time, so I apologize for any disruption you may be experiencing.  One person reported having to resort to a calendar without my blog posts to remind them what day it was - so very sorry! - things will be back to normal soon :))

Meanwhile, so that you won't have too much blog withdrawal, we have a regular WYRI Wednesday starting with Straight From The Editor for the May Pitch Winner.

You will remember that Sian won the May Pitch Pick with this pitch for Thirsty For Words (PB ages 4-8):

Benedict the Vampire likes nothing more than snacking on a tasty noun.  He’s on a rampage, gobbling up ‘words, whispers, songs and shouts’ until the city is silent.  Who can stop him?  Something furry lurking in the sewer could have the answer….

Here are editor Erin Molta's comments:


This sounds intriguing.
But in order to really snag an editor’s interest you might consider expanding just a tad on the furry creature. Is it a battle of the parts of speech? Does the furry creature relish verbs and likes nothing more than impaling and spearing and stabbing hungry vampires . . . That would provide an hook that is somewhat unique for an editor.
As always, I find Erin's insight very helpful and I hope you do too!

Now, onto today's pitch which comes to us from Alicia.  Alicia is a writer new to children's books, mom of two, who wishes she were a little craftier. You can follow her at aliciafinnnoack.com, where she blogs about books and writing, and on pinterest, where she keeps tabs on fun kid activities: http://pinterest.com/carmilla222/


Working Title: Granola Bars For Dinner
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch: Quentin is a kid who loves granola bars and wishes he could eat them all the time, even for dinner! But when Quentin discovers he is tired of all the regular granola bars at the store, he decides there is just one thing to do: make a new kind of granola bar. A kid-friendly recipe (for pizza granola bars) will be included.

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 Alicia 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 August so we're about ready for some new pitches!  Send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Alicia is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to the 4th of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest which will be starting on Monday!!!  So exciting!  I hope I get an idea and write my sample by then :) and I can't wait to read all of yours!  In case you somehow missed the details and would like to join the fun for a chance at fabulous prizes, hop over HERE and check it out!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!!! :)


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June 19, 2013

Would You Read It #93 - The Chase (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor and The May Pitch Pick Winner!

We've got a busy day, so I hope you ate your Wheaties!

Except, when you think about it, Wheaties aren't chocolate, so they are really not an appropriate choice for Wednesday.

I know!  How about some chocolate cereal?
Okay, no.

That will simply not do at all.

I'm sorry.  It looks like dog kibble.  And much as I love my dogs I do not wish to share their breakfast.  Not to mention, that doesn't look anything like real chocolate should look.

I tried to go the truly healthy route with cereal, but I just can't do it.

Put that away and let's break out the Snickers :)


Ah!  That's MUCH better.  Now we're ready to get down to business!

First, Straight From The Editor for our April winner, Pam.

You will recall her pitch:

Flood Dogs (Picture Book ages 5-8)Based on a true story, FLOOD DOGS tells of a girl, her two dogs, and the flood that comes between them. As Cadence fears the fate of her dogs, she must also face the devastation of her town and home.  When she finally reconnects with her beloved pups, Cadence is overjoyed to discover just how much she still has.

And here are editor Erin Molta's comments:


I am intrigued by the pitch for your story.
I offer just a few minor tweaks and I suggest thinking about a pithier title. Since Katrina and the Hurricane Sandy flooding, there are a lot of stories such as this coming in and something a tad catchier might help pull this one up from the pile. Also the last sentence would probably work better if you were more specific. Instead of how much she has—what about something like how much love, how much XXX she still has . . .
I wish you the best of luck with this!

As always, I find her insight very helpful!

Next, I am happy to announce the winner of the May Pitch Pick.

And the winner is...

... SIAN with her pitch for Thirsty For Words (which was originally The Word Thief.)

Congratulations, Sian!!!  Your pitch has already been sent to Erin for her thoughts.  And congratulations to all our other pitchers for great story ideas, wonderful pitches, and thoughtful improvements based on reader feedback.  You all did an excellent job.  Good luck with your stories!

Now, onto today's Would You Read It.  Phew!  Anyone need another Snickers?

Today's pitch comes to us from the lovely Elaine, who we met in April with her pitch for  Giant At The Gym.  In case you don't remember her, Elaine is a Mom of two, wife of one, mom to three furry kids and second grade school teacher.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Chase
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-7)
The Pitch:  A bored little boy stares at the moon, moaning about being bored while missing the stunning excitement that’s unfolding around him – pirate cows, zombie ice skaters, mummy librarians… If only he’d look down instead of UP. THE CHASE is a humorous picture book that explores the common childhood experience of what appears like the moon is following them, and turns it on its head.

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 Elaine 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 August which isn't that far away, so we're about ready for some new pitches!  Send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Elaine is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to being able to take my daughter to the airport at the crack of dawn on Friday without feeling guilty for not paying attention to Perfect Picture Books, since we are now on summer hiatus.  I will also take this opportunity to let you know that I will be mostly away from my computer next week, so don't be shocked if the blog is a little bare and I'm not around visiting you all.  But don't worry!  Would You Read It will still be up next Wednesday... assuming I write the post before I leave :)

Have a lovely Wednesday, everyone! :)

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June 17, 2013

Monday Catch Up

I just flew in from New Paltz...

...and boy are my arms tired!

No seriously :)  I spent the weekend at the inaugural 21st Century Children's Non-Fiction Conference.  It was fantastic and I highly recommend it.  (And Joanna - I got to meet Bo Zaunders who created The Artist Mortimer!  Everyone see Joanna's post HERE)  (Oh, and I also got to meet the lovely and talented Laura Purdie Salas and she signed my copy of A Leaf Can Be for me!)  (Oh, and I also got to meet Karen Robertson who is starting a course in how to create apps.  She was a wonderful speaker and very nice, and if any of you are interested, go check it out HERE... but here I go digressing.)  The POINT is that I find I'm very behind with work and family after abandoning both for nearly three days... shocking :)

So today, instead of a proper blog post, I give you this little gem.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do :)

Kurt Vonnegut, Author of Fiction and Satire, Explains Story Shape

What's your favorite story shape?  Classic, circular, cumulative, parallel, time-line, question and answer etc... or one of Kurt's? :)

Have a magical Monday  everyone, whilst I try like mad to catch up! :)

P.S.  I hope you're all working on your July 4th stories for the upcoming Writing Contest - I of course have not even started thinking about mine!

P.P.S.  I hope you are all noticing with jaw-dropping amazedness the incredible brevity of this post!  Apparently getting way behind is what it's takes to make me short-winded :)


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June 14, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Baby Bear Discovers The World

I just want you all to know that whilst you're going about your business like normal people, I am babysitting the Wild Kingdom.  Just look what's been in our yard this week!

First, an enterprising Snapping Turtle came to the foot of our back porch steps, made her nest, and laid her eggs!

So of course now I'm guarding the nest from raccoons and skunks... and my dogs!  I want those baby turtles to hatch!  Then I think I'll have to escort them down to the water... which is not very near at all... I don't know what their mama was thinking!... because I don't want them to get picked off by predators on their journey, and apparently everything thinks baby snapping turtle is tasty!  Approximately 9 weeks 'til Hatchday according to some site we googled :)

Then, our friend the bear came strolling by to see if perhaps we had carelessly left the bird feeder hanging around (we had not! because although it's lovely to see him from inside the house, we don't really like to encourage him to hang around.)
Yes, that is our back porch railing.  Sorry the picture is a little blurry - I took it through the glass because the dogs were barking their heads off and hurling themselves at the French door and I thought it best if they didn't tangle with Blackie :)

So given the theme of the week, I decided to celebrate the last day of Perfect Picture Books before summer with an appropriate title.  I was torn between 2 books, both by Marion Dane Bauer.  I chose Baby Bear Discovers The World for obvious reasons, but The Cutest Critter is equally good if you care to check it out!


Title: Baby Bear Discovers The World
Written By: Marion Dane Bauer
Photography By: Stan Tekiela
Adventure Publications Inc, 2006, Factual Fiction with great photos

Suitable For Ages: 3 and up

Themes/Topics: wild animals, growing up, independence, nature

Opening: One fine spring morning Baby Bear said to his mama, "Mama, I'm a big bear now.  It's time for me to go out and discover the world.  Then he kissed his mama so she would know he meant business."

Brief Synopsis: From the jacket: "Follow Baby Bear's excursion into the big world as he tries to prove his independence, wandering closer and closer to places he doesn't belong.  Using twin cubs and the assistance of a handler, Stan [the photographer] succeeded in getting all the photos for this book from the cubs' natural reactions to their surroundings.  His ability to capture everything from their inquisitive faces to actually tumbling from a log is delightfully documented."

Links To Resources:  Everything you need is right here!  The back of the book has a section on bear facts - characteristics, activity, diet, cubs, and hibernation.  It also has a section on how the book was photographed, and another section of "outtakes and bloopers" photos - SO CUTE! :)  You can also go for a walk and look for signs of animals - paw prints, nests, etc.  City or country, you're likely to discover some fun things, just like Baby Bear :)

Why I Like This Book:  I just absolutely adore wildlife photography.  This book combines a fun story about learning independence with exquisite photography of lots of animals besides the bears along with the surrounding flora.  It's fun just to look at the pictures :)  The outtakes and bloopers photos are also tons of fun and make the experience of the book even better.  Wait until you see the picture of Baby Bear licking a mouse :)

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

I'm sad that this is our last week of PPBF for the summer, but I think we can all use a little break to refresh and refuel and come back better than ever in the fall.  I haven't yet decided what I might put in in place of PPBF... I may not put anything.  I could use a little more writing time, so perhaps for the summer I will blog twice a week... I don't know - we'll see :)

Meanwhile, if anyone is looking at any spare time this weekend, let me remind you all of the upcoming 4th Of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest!  First prize is a picture book manuscript critique from the one and only Simone Kaplan, so start knocking those ideas around! :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!  PPBF bloggers, please leave your last *sniff* post-specific link for the summer *sniff* so we can all round out our summer reading lists!  (Here's hoping the Simply Linked List will work this week! :))


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June 12, 2013

Would You Read It Wednesday #92 - The Cat Who Lived In The Flowerpot (PB) AND The May Pitch Pick!

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!  I hope you are all having an excellent week so far!

We've got two things on the agenda today - the May Pitch Pick and today's Would You Read It.  Luckily, we've got something delicious and chocolatey to fortify us :)

Yum!  Chocolate Cream Pie! :)
Please help yourselves to as many slices as necessary to fuel you for the morning :)

Now then.  Let's start with the May Pitch Pick.  We had 5 terrific pitches.  The pitchers all took your generous counsel to heart and have revised their original offerings.  Please read the pitches below and then vote for the one you feel deserves a read by editor Erin Molta!

#1. Jesse
Daydreamer (YA/Sci-Fi)
Dr. Edwin Wallace has found the answer to one of science's great mysteries - deja vu, revealing a clue to his visions. But as they fade with age, could the exceptionally gifted 17 year old Jackson Cooper unlock the answer to harness their premonitions for the good of mankind? When Jackson is taken by a secret military agency, he will need to rely on the bond of new found friends to help him fight his way back home.

#2. James
Story Bored (MG)

The narrator has a problem. Too many of the stories on his bookshelf have changed. Humpty Dumpty is not on his wall but in a recipe for chocolate cake. The old lady who lives in a shoe is now the old lady who lives in nice cozy house with a big screen TV. And the tortoise is missing. The hare has nobody to race against. But those problems are not as important as the narrator’s major concern. Where is the 8 year old writer who made all those story changes?
The narrator sighed ‘why are books so complicated?’


#3. Rita
Nobody Loves Roberto A. Tailbottom (PB)

Robbie Tailbottom is concerned only about his next meal, but when he finds out that other animals are in trouble this rat becomes a hero.

#4. Kimberly
Bonjour, Remy! (PB)
Six-year-old Remy loves adventure—just so long as it never leaves the garden. So she hesitates when her parents surprise her with a trip to Paris. How can she leave all of her favorite things? It might take some convincing, but if Remy will leap into the new and wonderful Parisian culture she might just learn that beauty and her favorite things can be found in many places. They just might have different names.

#5. Sian
The Word Thief (PB)
Benedict the Vampire likes nothing more than snacking on a tasty noun.  He’s on a rampage, gobbling up ‘words, whispers, songs and shouts’ until the city is silent.  Who can stop him?  Something furry lurking in the sewer could have the answer….

Please cast your vote for your favorite pitch by Saturday June 15 at 11:59PM EDT.


Now, onto today's pitch which comes to us from the lovely Heather who says, "When people used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up I answered, "A children's book author and illustrator."  As I grew older I thought that was too unrealistic so I majored in sociology and started working for a small business.  However, I recently decided to chase that childhood dream, and started writing!  Hopefully this dream comes true!"  


(And I just have to sneak in with my 2 cents and say I think she's well on her way :)  She wrote a terrific entry for the In Just Spring Contest, and if you go to her blog you'll get to see some of her fabulous art... including a picture of the cat who lived in the flowerpot :))

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Cat Who Lived In The Flowerpot
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 3-7)
The Pitch: Tristan the cat lives in the flowerpot between apartments 7 and 8.  He loves his human neighbors and they love him.  There was just one problem.  NO PETS ALLOWED!  One day the strict landlady swings by for a surprise visit and discovers Tristan.  He finds himself in danger of losing his flowerpot home and the neighbors he loves.

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 July so we're about ready for some new pitches!  Send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Heather is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to seeing who wins the May Pitch Pick.  I have a feeling it's going to be another tight race!

Have a wonderful day, everyone! :)

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June 10, 2013

Look What's Coming! The 4th of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest!

It's that time again!!!  Writing Contest time!!!  Yippee-aye-oh-hurray!!!

I know none of you got a wink of sleep this weekend, waiting for the contest announcement, so I won't keep you waiting another second :)  (Plus, I want to give you all plenty of time to get your entries written in case you have plans during Fourth of July week... write now, you'll be all ready to go and can settle in when you have a few minutes here and there to read all the wonderful entries as they come in with your kids and families! :))

The Fourth Of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest!
WHO ATE THE BLUEBERRIES???!!!

The Contest:  Write a children's story, in poetry or prosemaximum 400 words about the 4th of July in which a secret is revealed or a mystery is solved!

You may choose any 4th of July setting you like: country, city or small town, sleepaway camp or vacation, with family or friends or all alone, at a parade, a picnic, a fireworks show or a bonfire, in the middle of the woods or in a country where the locals don't celebrate 4th of July.  Your secret or mystery doesn't have to be anything earth-shattering.  It could be who took Granny's award-winning Fourth of July cherry pie?  Or what did Robin tell Sarah who told Olivia who told Gracie about Anna in cabin 7?  Or where did the flags for the parade disappear to?  Or why doesn't Becky Sue want to go to the fireworks show? Or what Old Mrs. Hootenspiegal knows about the mayor!  Just as long as a secret or mystery of some kind is revealed or solved by the end.

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Monday July 1 at 12:01 AM EDT and Friday July 5 at 11:59 PM EDT, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official Fourth Of July Secret Mystery Contest post which will go up on my blog on Monday July 1 and remain up through Sunday July 7 (no Would You Read It on Wednesday July 3... and although the post will remain up through Sunday to give everyone plenty of time to read, the entry list will be closed at midnight Friday so we have time to judge).  If you don't have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my July 1st post by midnight Friday July 5th.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I'll post your entry for you!)

The Judging:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to five (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Monday July 8 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at 6 PM EDT on Thursday July 11 and the winner will be announced on Friday July 12.

The Prizes!:  The first place winner will receive (I am not making this up!) a picture book manuscript critique from Simone Kaplan!!!!!  Yes, THE Simone Kaplan!!!  I wish I knew how to put that up in lights and make it all sparkly! :)  Simone Kaplan has been editing children's books and magazines for over 20 years.  She was an editor at Henry Holt and Company, and then a Senior Editor at HarperCollins.  More recently she has worked as a consultant to various authors, illustrators, and publishing houses.  She also runs a wonderful website called Picture Book People (where you can sign up for her free newsletter among other things.)  A prize like this makes me wish I could compete in my own contest! :)

If we get more than 15 entries, we will place through 3rd.  If we get more than 25 entires we will place through 5th.  Additional prizes will include critiques, gift certificates and signed books.  (Details to come.)

So put on those thinking caps and start bouncing those ideas off the wall!  Your story could win you a fabulous prize, but win or not, you can be certain your stories will be read with appreciation by LOTS of readers! :)

Have a marvelous Monday everyone! :)


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June 7, 2013

Perfect Picture Book Friday - Mrs. Armitage Queen Of The Road


I know it's Perfect Picture Book Friday and I'm supposed to lead off with that, but two quick things first.

1. Just a reminder that next Friday, June 14, will be our last PPBF until September, as we go on summer hiatus.  I will miss it, but I need the time to update, and also to do some other things... like write!... and finish cleaning out my basement! :)

2.  It's NATIONAL DONUT DAY!!!!!!!  So have one on me, even though I don't usually serve snacks on Fridays :)

Now then.  My Perfect Picture Book for the day:

Title: Mrs. Armitage Queen Of The Road
Written & Illustrated By: Quentin Blake
Peachtree, September 2003, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: fun, friendship, making the best of things

Opening: "One morning, Mrs. Armitage came downstairs and found a letter on the doormat.  She read it to her faithful dog Breakspear.
Dear Anastasia,
Because I am buying a new motorcycle,
I won't need my old car anymore.  I would like
you to have it as a present.  It's parked outside.
Here are the keys.
With love,
Your Uncle Cosmo"

Brief Synopsis:  When Mrs. Armitage receives an old jalopy as a present it doesn't look particularly exciting, but she is ready to give it a try.  She sets off with her faithful dog.  Mrs. Armitage has her own style of driving, however, and before long the old jalopy is dropping parts left and right.  What to do?  Nothing stops Mrs. Armitage!

Links To Resources: I didn't find any actual links, but here are a few activity suggestions:

  • discuss what it means to be queen of something, like "queen of the road" then have kids think up what they'd like to be queen (or king) of.  Why would they like to do that?  What special clothes might they wear?  What special accessories might they have?  What special things might they do?
  • Write your own story, individually or as a group, in which someone is the queen (or king) of something.  Illustrate it.
  • Mrs. Armitage's car loses part after part after part until, though it maintains its function, it looks very different than it stared out.  Choose a vehicle and draw it the way it's supposed to look.  Then draw it again seeing how much you can take away so that it can still do it's job but it looks entirely different.
  • Read the other Mrs. Armitage books, all equally entertaining :)

Why I Like This Book: LOVE Quentin Blake's delightful illustrations and sense of humor and fun!  Mrs. Armitage is a delightfully quirky character who just makes you wonder what she'll do next.  Just wait until you see who she meets up with and what her car looks like by the end :)

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

Have a great weekend, everyone!  And tune in Monday for the July Contest announcement and the revelation of the fabulous prize! :)  (Wish me luck thinking up the contest parameters over the weekend and feel free to share ideas in the comments if you have any :))  PPBF bloggers be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below!


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June 5, 2013

Would You Read It Wednesday #91 - The Backpack Secret (PB)


You will not believe this, but I almost missed the fact that Friday is National Donut Day!

I know!

Quel horreur!

Thank goodness I found out in time to celebrate!  (Where would I be without the helpful Dunkin' Donuts commercials on my car radio?)

In honor of the fact that Friday is National Donut Day (but today is our Something Chocolate day) let's have some delectable Boston Creme Chocolate donuts this morning.  As a kind of a warm-up for Friday :)


Yummyummyum!!!  'Sheverymnone mreadymmfor mwouldmyoureadit numnum?

Sorry!  I know it's rude to talk with your mouth full but I couldn't help myself :)  Is everyone ready for Would You Read It?

Today's pitch comes to us from Andrea, who was actually our very first pitcher for Would You Read It way back on July 27, 2011 with a MG pitch for Wild (Girl) Genius!  Isn't that amazing?  When she’s not working on her middle grade novels, Andrea is inescapably drawn to writing picture books, possibly because of all the wonderful ideas and questions she hears in her job as a Kindergarten teacher. She has written many stories and articles for educational publishers and blogs about writing over at That’s Another Story (www.andrea-mack.blogspot.com) and with her writing group the MiG Writers (www.migwriters.com). She recently joined Twitter (@ AndreaL_Mack) and would love to connect with other writers.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Backpack Secret
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-7)
The Pitch: When Amani starts school and notices that one of her classmates won’t take off his backpack, she’s determined to find out why. After she finally convinces Mason to open up, Amani has an idea that will help the entire class feel better about coming to school.

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 Andrea 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 July so we're about ready for some new pitches!  Send yours in for great feedback from your peers and your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Andrea is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to another donut... or two :)

Ooh!!!  And I'm looking forward to something else too!  I am running a writing contest the first week of July (details and official announcement coming next week!) and boy oh boy is there a good prize for the winner!!!  I'm looking forward to sharing all the details with you! :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

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June 3, 2013

Oh Susanna! - Does A Similar Book Mean I Should Not Submit My Story?

Good Monday, Everyone!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

I finally put my annuals in because, after a week of over 90 degree weather, we are hoping the danger of frost (which we had last weekend) is past!  Who is in charge of the weather around here?  It's nuts! :)

Of course, given my reputation as The Black Thumb Of Poughquag, my plants will probably be looking like this before long :)

Also (thanks to Beth Stilborn and Laura Miller) I MAY have a new plan for Perfect Picture Books which would make the list easier to search and easier to update.  Keep your fingers crossed!  It will probably take me the whole summer to put it together, but it will be great if it works! :)

Today, after many weeks in which we have been distracted by other things, we have an Oh Susanna question!


Oh Susanna!

I am currently working to get my first picture book published. I have been studying the market and in doing so I came across a recently published book that looks somewhat similar to mine. Should I be discouraged? Will anyone be interested in publishing my book if there is already one with a similar topic in the market? 

Sincerely, Clueless 


I think this is an excellent question.

Although we are all told to be original, there are some who say there are no new stories.  New baby and sibling rivalry and fear of the dark and first day of school and wanting a pet, etc., etc., etc. have already been told.

This may be true.  But if you spend five minutes in the library or bookstore, you'll see (using new baby as an example) Julius The Baby Of The World, Not Yet Rose, The Best Kind Of Baby, Penny Loves Pink, A Baby Sister For Frances, The New Baby, On Mother's Lap, Hello Baby, Babies Don't Eat Pizza, Waiting For Baby, Peter's Chair... I could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea - there are LOTS of picture books about kids getting a new sibling.

Pretty much any topic/idea/theme you choose to write about will have been done before in some way.  The trick is to make it your own - to put a spin on it that hasn't been done so that your story is new and fresh even if it deals with a tried and true topic.  If you were to read those 10 books listed above, you'd see that although they all revolve around the arrival of a new baby, they are all different stories.  In Julius The Baby Of The World, Lilly is jealous and doesn't have much nice to say about her new brother until her friends criticize him and she rushes to his defense.  In Not Yet Rose, Rose worries that she won't like being a big sister or that the baby might not like her.  In The Best Kind Of Baby, Sophie imagines all the kinds of babies her mother could have, thinking puppies and monkeys and fish would be much more fun than a human baby.  As you can see, those are all very different types of stories, which address different aspects of getting a new sibling and have different moods and atmospheres.

In addition to trying to put your own unique spin on your story, you will also want to research the publishing houses you plan to submit to.  For example, (sticking with the idea of new babies), does the house already have a new baby book?  How old is it?  Is it still in print?  Has it sold well and become a classic or is it lesser known?  Is the actual story it tells similar to yours (e.g. is it a brother waiting for a sister and yours is too?  Or is it a jealousy story and yours is too?)?

A house that has a book very similar to yours will probably not want to compete with itself.  But another house may be happy to have it... overjoyed if they love it and think they can outsell other houses' books on that topic :)

If you find that your story really is too similar to one or more books already out there, think about ways you could tweak your story to make it different.  Could you tell it from a different point of view?  Could you change the focus slightly?  Could you make it a sister waiting for a brother instead of a brother waiting for a sister?  Could you place it in a very unusual setting or time period, or make it about an animal family instead of a human family?  Try stretching your idea in different directions and see where you end up :)

I hope that answers your question and helps you out a bit!  And as always I'd be grateful to have all our readers chime in with their thoughts and experience in the matter!

Have a magical Monday everyone! :)

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