Friday, September 7, 2012

Pitch Polish Blog Hop


AUTHOR'S NAME: Kathy Cannon Wiechman
TITLE OF MS: HARD TO TELL
GENRE: YA Contemporary
word count: 43,000

THE PITCH: Both overweight Hannah and brainy TL are victims of school bullying, but Hannah doesn't think blowing up the school is the answer. The hate-crime murder of a twelve-year-old and a mysterious new girl play a part in fifteen-year-old Hannah's struggle for acceptance and her dilemma over TL's deadly plot.

            PROLOGUE

KeShawna Wright reached into the cold case for a Diet 7-Up. She heard the footsteps before she heard the voices.

First laughter. Then the words. "Hey, Nigger!" More laughter. KeShawna had heard the N-word more than once, and Daddy's words sounded in her head: Ignore it. Walk away. Don't sink to their level.

The boys were older teens, maybe even twenty, checking her out over the top of the chip and pretzel racks. She didn't make eye contact, just acted as though the scuffed linoleum floor held her interest, as she carried the soda to the counter and plunked down her handful of change.

"Hi, KeShawna, how's your grandma?"

"Feeling better, Mr. Sloane. I'll tell her you asked."

KeShawna felt, more than heard, the two white boys step close behind her, and a shiver brought more of Daddy's words to her mind: If you don't feel safe, call me.
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For more information on the Pitch Polish Blog Hop, part of GUTGAA, visit Deana Barnhart's blog at http://deanabarnhart.blogspot.com/

Please leave your constructive comments for Kathy!

23 comments:

  1. I'm starting out by saying that I love the idea behind your novel. Based on what I've read in this post, I think you have the basis of a truly great and compelling read. It's exactly the type of YA I seek out when I'm looking for something to read.

    I enjoyed your excerpt. While your pitch is informative, I would say that it feels a little cold. There's a fine line between sounding professional and not letting any of your writing voice shine through. I know, I struggle with the exact same thing. Your goal should be to come up with a pitch that makes the reader want to lose them in the story. Think about the blurbs that inspired you to purchase the last five or six books you read.

    Good luck!

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  2. Firstly you've got a really interesting pitch there but wherever possible you should always try and show a bit more voice. For me the idea is very interesting but it read more like a book review aka just the facts, with no emotion, so I'd be even more curious if I got an idea of the character from those words.
    The excerpt left me cold, which is great. There's such a strong sense of foreboding and what I love is that even though there's not necessarily any real danger, and KeS isn't necessarily the hate crime victim I'm assuming her to be, the fact that you show her fear makes me fear anyway, especially in that last line. The only thing that jarred me in the entire excerpt was the fact that when the shopkeeper asked about the grandma I thought it was one of the boys asking, so I was a little thrown when she replied to Mr. Sloane.
    I'd love to keep reading though. Good job! Any thoughts you could share on mine would be really appreciated.
    Kat
    http://beyondthehourglassbridge.blogspot.com.au/

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    1. Thanks, Kat. I'll attribute the sentence to Mr. Sloane when I redo. And I'll check out your blog ASAP.

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  3. Kathy, hello from GUTGAA! I love your first 150 words.
    That said, I think more of KeShawna's relationship with her dad should be in the pitch. Is that what makes her different from TL and her desires to blow up the school? And, what makes TL want to blow up the school? Was her bullying worse? Does she lack the parental support at home that KeShawna has?
    Also, in a query, and professional, or published, writing experience you have should be noted.
    Hope this helps! Good luck with GUTGAA!

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    1. Thanks, Tracy, I appreciate the advice. Good luck to you, too!

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  4. Hey :)

    I thought we were supposed to post our queries and first 150 words, not our actual elevator/short pitches! I guess it's too late to change mine, and now I know for next year! #sillyme

    Sadly, I think your pitch lacks the voice that shines in your first 150 words. However, your first couple of paragraphs make me want to read more! :)

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    1. Thanks for your comments. I was unsure of the length of pitch/query Deana wanted. She talked as though she didn't want the WHOLE query letter, "just the meat," so this was my own choice.
      And there seems to be a consensus about putting the Voice into the pitch. Thanks for weighing in.

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  6. Hi. Is this the actual query or an elevator pitch? It felt a little short for an actual query, so I'm kind of assuming it's an elevator pitch. However, I'm gonna critique it like a query, just in case.

    Both overweight Hannah and brainy TL are victims of school bullying, but Hannah doesn't think blowing up the school is the answer.

    The first time I read this, I totally missed the fact that TL wants to blow up the school. I thought that was the character's voice--like she was being sarcastic or something. I felt stupid when I realized, cause it's pretty clear in retrospect, but I still might change it to something like:

    Both overweight Hannah and brainy TL are victims of school bullying.The difference between them is that Hannah isn't planning to blow up the school.

    The hate-crime murder of a twelve-year-old and a mysterious new girl play a part in fifteen-year-old Hannah's struggle for acceptance and her dilemma over TL's deadly plot.

    I'm assuming KeShawna is the girl who is murdered. Since you start the story with her, I'd get her name in the query. You could easily say: The hate-crime murder of twelve year old KeShawna Wright etc...

    I also want to know a bit more about the mysterious new girl and what she has to do with everything. I might include that in the query.

    I really liked the first 150. I could visualize everything easily. The only thing I didn't understand was why the guy who owned the store didn't say anything? He seemed to like KeShawna. Most adults would kick a kid out of their story for calling her a Nigger. I'd make it clear that they say it just loudly enough for KeShawna to hear. Maybe just put the word soft in there. IE: First soft laughter. Then the quiet words, "Hey, Nigger" then more laughter, louder this time.

    I think this sounds like an interesting story to tackle. It's really current right now and I think it should do really well. Good luck with it! And nice to meet you. I'm loving GUTGAA, aren't you? :)

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    1. Thank you for the helpful advice. GUTGAA has been an interesting experience for me, & I'm learning a lot from it.

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  7. Hi, I'm a fellow GUTGAA bloghopper. Wow, this is an intense story line! Well done on the first 150. I thought we were supposed to do more of the pitch portion of a query letter rather than a short pitch, but I could be wrong. I think what you had was good, though, especially if it was a verbal pitch for a conference or something. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks, Alexia. I wasn't sure how long a query Deana wanted, so I figured shorter was better.

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  8. Great concept and premise. (I know an agent who has manuscripts dealing with bulling on her wishlist...)

    The only thing I found confusing was the death of the twelve-year-old and the mysterious new girl. Were both these murdered?

    This is actually a very intense story line. I'm sure it will get picked up soon.

    Good luck!

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    1. The mysterious girl wasn't murdered, but she knows a few things about the murderers. Do you care to share the name of the agent who's looking for mss that deal with bullying?
      Thank you so much for your comments.

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  9. The sample words have a great voice and a great strong character. I was confused about how she related to the characters in the pitch though. The pitch is a little short. Maybe pick one character and tell us his or her story. Make us want to read the book because we care about that particular character.

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    1. Thanks, Jessica. I definitely need to rethink my pitch.

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  10. The pitch would be a good elevator pitch, but it's too short for a query pitch.

    Try to answer the questions:
    Who is the main character and why should we care?
    What does the main character want or what problem must she solve?
    What obstacles stand in the way? What choices must she make?
    What are the stakes if she fails?

    I really like the voice in the sample.

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  11. I've read more of this than what you posted so I know how good it is and am completely biased. As much as I loved "Rebecca's Branch," the premise in this book is instantly gripping. You are brilliant!

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    1. Thanks, Juliet. Coming from you, it means so much. And I am a fan of your work, too. So good to feel your presence today.

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  12. Just traveling about blog-land and your site is amazing. Looks like you have all the info on the Query ~ hit me up and I'll come back to see the redo....the story leaves me with pretzels, the Dad, the voice, the presence of the white boys. Simply gripping.

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    1. I checked out your blog. Inspiring. Thanks for stopping by.

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