Friday, September 7, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Polish

Happy Friday! What a great experience GUTGAA has been so far. I haven't made it to nearly as many blogs for the intros as I had hoped, but I plan to keep hopping around as much as I can in the next month. And so... on to the next part of GUTGAA, and if you haven't signed up yet, but want to, just go to the fabulous Deana Barnhart's site and follow the links to participate.

Our next activity is Pitch Polish! My pitch is for a relatively new story that I wrote (mostly) about 6 months ago, but recently came back to clean up and make pretty. I think I was inspired by school starting on this one!


Title: Extra Special X
Genre: Picture Book
Word Count: 635 words
Author: Tracy Bermeo (me)
The pitch:
Forgotten and on the verge of being lost forever in the dark, dusty world under the refrigerator, the letter X calls for help.  Working together and holding on to each other, C-H-A-I and N band together and reach down to help X join the rest of the letters. Through the alphabet’s friendship and encouragement, X learns the value of being surrounded by other letters and creating words, even if she is not the first letter in those words.

This story of how easily one letter can be brushed aside and almost forgotten, but then shown its importance through friends, is the core of my 635 word picture book about how a letter, that often stumps adults, can still find value in the world of words.

For nearly three years, I have written for MyVeronaNJ.com, an online media site where I publish weekly food stories with recipes, book reviews, new business features, and day trips for families. I am also published in the NY Times Motherlode, NJ Family magazine and Ploughshares literary magazine blog.

I’ve included below the first 150 words of Extra Special X, which I hope you’ll enjoy. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you in the coming weeks.

Jack stood at the refrigerator, surrounded by his magnetic letters. He arranged, piled, moved, pushed and pulled to make words.
CAT, TOP, BAT, STOP
He moved his favorite letters, S,M,A,T,R,D,C, and Z into a pile near his hands. The ones he didn’t use so much like U, Q, K, Y, X, and W were moved to the side.
Molly walked up to Jack and ran her hand through the smaller pile off to the side.
“Let’s go outside,” his sister suggested.
“Last one out goes to bed first!” Jack replied, and ran out the door.
The letters stayed on the refrigerator. Well, most of them.
The letters Molly brushed off to the side slid toward the bottom. Falling, slipping, sliding, farther down the refrigerator they went.
“Can someone help me down here?” called a small voice. “It’s dusty, dirty, and getting dark. I don’t think I can hold on much longer.”

Thanks so much for reading, and any constructive and helpful criticism is welcome!

22 comments:

  1. OH, I wish I knew more about pitching picture books!! I do love the premise, and your voice. I am not sure, but it seems a bit wordy in the first paragraph.

    "Through the alphabet’s friendship and encouragement, X learns the value of being surrounded by other letters and creating words, even if she is not the first letter in those words." <~ here, the last part of the sentence, feels a bit...clunky. Perhaps a rewording?

    I have absolutely nothing to add to the first 150 words - except I wish I had had this book when my Filly (daughter) was young!!

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  2. Aww! It sounds like such a cute picture book!

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  3. I honestly don't know about picture books enough to give you a good crit, but I made a few notes... also, I think this is a book my 5 year old would want to read over and over again!

    The pitch:

    Forgotten and on the verge of being lost forever in the dark, dusty world under the refrigerator, the letter X calls for help. Working together and holding on to each other, C-H-A-I and N band together and reach down to help X join the rest of the letters. Through (insert HER/HIS EXPERICES, X LEARNS THE VALUE OF friendship, encouragement, AND HERSELF/HIMSELF. (THIS LAST LINE WAS ROUGH, AND I DON'T THINK I MADE IT ANY BETTER, BUT THE EARLY VERSION SEEMED A BUT "LECTURING"... JUST A THOUGHT.)


    This story of how easily one letter can be brushed aside and almost forgotten, but then shown its importance through friends, is the core of my 635 word picture book about how a letter, that often stumps adults, can still find value in the world of words.

    For nearly three years, I have written for MyVeronaNJ.com, an online media site where I publish weekly food stories with recipes, book reviews, new business features, and day trips for families. I am also published in the NY Times Motherlode, NJ Family magazine and Ploughshares literary magazine blog.

    I’ve included below the first 150 words of Extra Special X, which I hope you’ll enjoy. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you in the coming weeks.

    Jack stood at the refrigerator, surrounded by his magnetic letters. He arranged, piled, moved, pushed and pulled to make words.
    CAT, TOP, BAT, STOP
    He moved his favorite letters, S,M,A,T,R,D,C, and Z into a pile near his hands. The ones he didn’t use so much like U, Q, K, Y, X, and W were moved to the side.
    Molly walked up to Jack and ran her had through the smaller pile off to the side.
    “Let’s go outside,” his sister suggested.
    “Last one out goes to bed first!” Jack replied, and ran out the door.
    The letters stayed on the refrigerator. Well, most of them.
    The letters Molly brushed off to the side slid toward the bottom. Falling, slipping, sliding, farther down the refrigerator they went.
    “Can someone help me down here?” called a small voice. “It’s dusty, dirty, and getting dark. I don’t think I can HOLD (NOT OLD) on much longer.”

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    Replies
    1. Sarah, thank you. I can't believe I had that typo. Fixed it for future readers. :) And, I don't want to lecture, so I will definitely consider adjustments.

      Delete
  4. Hi! First off, thank you on your comments on my not-entry post. They're very welcome.

    And about your pitch... I really wish I knew more about picture books to be any help, but I'll give it a go.

    I like the concept. I'm not going to pretend to be familiar with picture books, but it sounds like something my 7 year old sister would read (well, if she knew how to read in english.. she's just starting to learn it in spanish.. maybe the pictures would help here)

    And I would personally love it if she read stuff that teaches that sometimes it's okay to work with the group, which from what I gathered, it's the letter X's journey in your book.

    Anyway, I hope my opinion was a tiny bit as helpful as yours was for me. Good luck :)

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  5. This is positively adorable. I don't know anything about children's book querying, but this little query warmed my heart and made me want to read it to my son.

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  6. Great idea and great beginning, Tracy! Looks promising :)

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  7. Also wishing I knew more about picture books right now. I have a few suggestions, but keep in mind that I don't know what I'm talking about. :)

    I love the idea. I also love picturing how you got the idea for the book. I imagine there were dust bunnies involved.


    Forgotten and on the verge of being lost forever in the dark, dusty world under the refrigerator, the letter X calls for help. Working together and holding on to each other, C-H-A-I and N band together and reach down to help X join the rest of the letters. Through the alphabet’s friendship and encouragement, X learns the value of being surrounded by other letters and creating words, even if she is not the first letter in those words.

    [“This story of how easily one letter can be brushed aside and almost forgotten, but then shown its importance through friends, is the core of” This seems like you are restating the last part of the above, I think you could strike it. ] my 635 word picture book about how a letter, that often stumps adults, can still find value in the world of words.

    For nearly three years, I have written for MyVeronaNJ.com, an online media site where I publish weekly food stories with recipes, book reviews, new business features, and day trips for families. I am also published in the NY Times Motherlode, NJ Family magazine and Ploughshares literary magazine blog.

    I’ve included below the first 150 words of Extra Special X, ["which I hope you’ll enjoy. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you in the coming weeks. ” This part is extra and obvious. I’ve heard that you can leave this type of thing out]

    Jack stood at the refrigerator, surrounded by his magnetic letters. He arranged, piled, moved, pushed and pulled to make words.
    CAT, TOP, BAT, STOP
    He moved his favorite letters, S,M,A,T,R,D,C, and Z into a pile near his hands. The ones he didn’t use so much like U, Q, K, Y, X, and W were moved to the side. [I’m amazed that a kid named JacK would toss the K off to the side.]
    Molly walked up to Jack and ran her had through the smaller pile off to the side.
    “Let’s go outside,” his sister suggested.
    “Last one out goes to bed first!” Jack replied, and ran out the door.
    The letters stayed on the refrigerator. Well, most of them.
    The letters Molly brushed off to the side slid toward the bottom. Falling, slipping, sliding, farther down the refrigerator they went.
    “Can someone help me down here?” called a small voice. “It’s dusty, dirty, and getting dark. I don’t think I can hold on much longer.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should add, I really want to run at the fridge and save poor little x before he falls. Very cute!

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    2. Thanks Liz. You're right about the K- I'll make that change. :)

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  8. I really wish I could help out but I don't know enough about picture books to feel comfortable. It sounds interesting and it's about time someone wrote about that poor, little 'x'.

    I mean how would we blow e-kisses without it?

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  9. Hi I don't know anything about PB querying either but I absolutely love the premise. I would love reading this to my little girl. Best of luck

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  10. Hi Tracy! You already know my thoughts, and I see you've gotten some more advice already. So yay! I wish you the best of best wishes this month:)

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  11. Like a few people here I don't know much about picture book queries but I absolutely love the premise. I think you could tighten some parts of your query where you didn't exactly reference the book, as it was almost like you were double-summarizing. My only issue with the excerpt was three sentences ending in side in a row - I know a kid wouldn't notice but I don't think it would hurt to vary the sentence structure anyway. Other than that I loved it and the excerpt had more drama than I expected, plus it was gorgeous!

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  12. I know nothing about pitching picture books, but I think that this story sounds adorable. Good luck!

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  13. I love your picture book idea. its so creative, cute and quirky (sorry for the alliteration!) I think it's a really unique idea. BTW, I used to live in Montclair NJ and take my daughter to Verona park when she was a baby. Ah memories. Now she's eight!

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  14. Okay. So, none of us know about picture book querying. I feel bad. But, I really love the idea of it, the books sounds super cute.

    The only thing I have to say is that I think you can cut this paragraph:

    This story of how easily one letter can be brushed aside and almost forgotten, but then shown its importance through friends, is the core of my 635 word picture book about how a letter, that often stumps adults, can still find value in the world of words.

    It seems to almost restate the same thing that you already showed us (in a more interesting, cuter way) through the first part of the query. To me, it feels stronger without this. Especially since I've heard that the worst thing to do with any book, (I'm assuming even a picture book) is try to pitch it like your teaching a lesson. The story should always come first. I think you did a great job with getting the story across in the first part of the query. The first 150 words are really cute too. Good luck with this!

    I've been hopping around to a ton of different blogs on GUTGAA too. Make sure you come by and visit me. My blog is brand new--haha--started last Wed. after I got inspired by seeing everyone else.

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  15. Hi, Tracy. I do know a bit about picture books, and I love your premise. I already want to know how X learns to feel important. One important thing about picture books is "keep it short & simple," & yours could use a little tightening. Instead of saying that Jack put his favorite letters aside, delete that sentence & combine it with your previous sentence, something like: Jack pushed, pulled, and moved his favorite letters to make words like CAT, TOP, BAT, and STOP. In a picture book, the illustrations will show some of what you're telling here & that could be eliminated as well. Good luck with this. It sounds like a winner.

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  16. Cute idea! I love it! My only issue would be I didn't know that Molly had brushed the letters away and so I had to go back and re-read it.
    Other wise, it reads clearly and has a great concept.

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  17. This sounds so cute! I will first state that I do YA novels, not picture books. So I don't know how the queries differ. Here are my comments.

    "This story of how easily one letter can be brushed aside and almost forgotten, but then shown its importance through friends, is the core of my 635 word picture book about how a letter, that often stumps adults, can still find value in the world of words."

    This is one long sentence, and I'd break it up. I'd also rearrange because by the time I get to 'is the core', I've forgotten what the beginning of the sentence was. I'd start with: the core of my book is how...

    Good luck.

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  18. I really liked the query, it really was clear and interesting. I think it sounds like a delightful and thoughtful storybook!

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  19. Hey Tracy! Thanks for your comment on my blog! I just read your pitch, and your book sounds really sweet.

    The first line of the pitch is sort of a mouthful, however. Is there a way to simplify things without losing the feeling you convey in the current version?

    Maybe...

    "All but lost under the dark, dusty refrigerator, the letter X struggles not to be forgotten."

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Thanks for stopping by. I LOVE comments!