Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 1, 2022

Dr. Mira Reisberg’s Pitch and Bio Makeover

Debbie Austin’s Pitch and Bio Makeover by Dr. Mira Reisburg

DEBBIE’S PITCH: When Vikings raid a Scottish monastery, Niall, a thirteen-year-old epileptic boy, escapes with a sacred illuminated manuscript. He enlists the help of a local fisherman’s daughter, to get the Book to safety. But the search for her missing father, interception by a young treasure-seeking Viking, and an ill-timed seizure threaten Niall’s promise to keep the manuscript from falling into the wrong hands.

MIRA’S SUGGESTED PITCH #1:

The year is 806AD on the isle of Iona, Scotland. Thirteen-year-old Niall is tasked with saving his monastery’s sacred manuscript from marauding Vikings. A local fisherman’s daughter helps, but Sorcha’s search for her missing father, interception by a young treasure-seeking Viking, and an ill-timed seizure threaten Niall’s mission to keep the manuscript safe. And then there’s the issue of his epilepsy. Will it interfere as well? 67 words. THE TRINITY KNOT is an informational fiction, Upper MG informational fiction told from 3 key POVs.

MIRA’S SUGGESTED PITCH #2:

It’s 703AD in Iona, Scotland, epileptic baby boy Niall is adopted by a kind monk. Life is good, until he has a public seizure. Accused of demon possession, Niall flees, leaving his home AND dreams of working in the Scriptorium. A Viking attack brings the thirteen-year-old back to save the sacred Book of Kells. Sorcha, a fisherman’s daughter helps, but many obstacles threaten Niall’s mission to keep the manuscript safe. 70 words. THE TRINITY KNOT is an informational fiction, Upper MG informational fiction told from 3 key POVs.

MIRA’S SUGGESTED PITCH #3: better word count but I loved having his dream included. Sigh:

It’s 703AD, on the isle of Iona, Scotland when epileptic baby boy Niall is adopted by a kind monk. Life is good, until a public seizure finds him accused of demon possession. Niall flees for his life until marauding Vikings attack, bring him back to save the sacred Book of Kells. Sorcha, a fisherman’s daughter helps, but so many obstacles threaten Niall’s mission to keep the manuscript safe. THE TRINITY KNOT is an informational fiction, Upper MG, told from 3 POVs. 68 words not including title and description at end.

I also liked #1. Good luck with picking and choosing what you want to take or leave.

DEBBIE’S BIO: I am a long-time member of SCBWI and participate in conferences, workshops, and submission opportunities. I have been published twice in Highlights and won second place in the Children’s Writer Folktale and Fantasy Contest. Like an ink drop on vellum, this story spread in my heart after I saw the Book of Kells and visited its birthplace in Iona, Scotland

MIRA’S SUGGESTED BIO:

Debbie Austin is an active long-time SCBWI member. She has published twice in Highlights and won second place in the Children’s Writer Folktale and Fantasy Contest. After seeing the Book of Kells in Iona Scotland, this story spread throughout her soul, like an ink drop on vellum. Debbie – do you have any Viking or Scottish ancestry you could weave into your bio? Alternately, you could just start with something like Passionate traveler and former teacher Debbie Austin…. I kept trying to noodle your super poetic line about the ink drop but it just feels out of place with the rest of the tone of your bio and like you don’t need it. Maybe up the voice by making the whole bio with the same lyrical voice and throw in some Scottish words like Since she was a wee bairn… and watch or read The Outlander https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outlander_(TV_series)

MIRA’S COMMENTS:

Hi Debbie, there is so much to love about this story, and it was a struggle to fit in as much information about it as possible and keep it lyrical and appealing. The third one is my favorite although it killed me removing the section about leaving his home and his dream of working in the scriptorium. I changed some of the language to give it a little more voice as they say, with things like using isle instead of island and dramatic words like marauding and flees for his life upping the stakes. I also included more poetic techniques like a little alliteration. I thought it was important to place the pitch in terms of time and place and also to mention that you’re dealing with the Book of Kells, which many people know about and are fascinated by. Also, many editors and editors and agents might have the same Scottish or Viking background helping them to connect further with the story. The fact that this is upper middle grade told from 3 POV three points of view and the title is also important. I think #3 is around 7-words too many for a 70 word submission, but in our courses and the Palooza Golden Ticket submissions, we don’t include the title and genre etc. As always, take what you like and leave the rest. I really hope you can join our 2022 Kidlit Palooza as we’ll be talking a lot about culture and middle grades. Whether you can make it or not, I truly wish you all the best with this.

PS: One of the things you want to do with a bio is to inspire the reader, that is editors and agents or publishers, with confidence that you are up for the task of writing and revising a middle grade novel, which is quite a commitment. Including things like former teacher will help you along with being an SCBWI member. The other thing is making an interesting or fun personal connection, hence my notes in your bio. I hope this helps you.

Sending much warmth,
Mira

DR. MIRA REIBERG’S BIO:

Dr. Mira Reisberg has worked as a former acquiring editor & art director, literary agent, children’s literature professor, & as the Director of the Children’s Book Academy for many years. Her former students have published over 860 books & won every major children’s book award that she knows of. She’s extremely excited to be co-teaching at the upcoming 2022 KidLit Palooza scholarship fundraiser with panels of brilliant authors, illustrators, editors, agents & art directors right here: https://bit.ly/22KidLitPalooza Mira has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children’s books. Find her at the Children’s Book Academy:  http://bit.ly/CreateKidsBooks or on Twitter @ChildrensBookAc

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Hi, Mira. Thank you so much! You’ve given me a lot to work with here. I’m curious about the term “informational fiction.” Not historical fiction?
    Thanks again! I really appreciate your comments and suggestions.

    Like

  2. Awesome! Thanks, Mira and Debbie! (and Kathy!)

    Like


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