Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 8, 2022

Dr. Mira Reisberg’s Pitch & Bio Makeover

COLLEEN FOGARTY’S Pitch and Bio Makeover by Dr. Mira Reisburg:

COLLEEN’S PITCH: Jane Colden (1724-1766) is America’s first woman botanist, yet virtually unknown.  She waws no taller than the grasses on her family’s 3,000 acres when she began collecting every plant and flower she found. Jane’s dilemma: what to call her findings? Lacking a formal education, but rich in curiosity and perseverance, Jane ignored the Eighteenth-Century bias against female scholars and succeeded in identifying, describing, and illustrating 341 “Plants of New York”

COLLEEN’S BIO: I helped create the Jane Colden Native Plant Sanctuary in Bear Mountain State Park and belong to the garden club that produced a limited edition of Jane’s manuscript. I authored the cover article on Jane Colden and her contemporaries for Hudson Valley Magazine. I belong to SCBWI, 12 X12, and several critique groups. This PBbio won Runner-up in #Rising Stars.


Who’s heard of now forgotten Jane Colden, early American colonist and America’s first woman botanist? No taller than the grasses on her family’s 3,000 acres, she began collecting and documenting every plant and flower she found. Rich in curiosity and perseverance, despite lacking formal education, Jane ignored the Eighteenth-Century bias against female scholars, and successfully identified, described, and illustrated 341 “Plants of New York.” Bravo Jane! STEAM, Older-PB biography.

MIRA’S Suggested Bio: A long-time fan of Jane Colden’s courage and accomplishments, Colleen lives on the banks of the Hudson River, just 10 miles from Jane’s homestead. With STEAM and forgotten female pioneer science hero content, Colleen wants Jane’s life acknowledged and celebrated in time for her 2024 300th birthday. An SCBWI, 12 X12, and multi-critique group member, this biography won Runner-up in #Rising Stars.

MIRA’S Thoughts:

Hey Colleen, I love biographies like this and with the right language and pacing, I think it could be really exquisite. You’ve got a truly fascinating figure during a fascinating time. I think that Calkins Creek, which focuses on American history and people, would be a great match for this but unfortunately you need an agent with them, or Creston Books who do accept unsolicited manuscripts and love biographies would also be a great match. I want to encourage you to amp up the lyrical language wherever you can judiciously using tools like alliteration, assonance, consonance, rhythm, mindful repetition, metaphor and similes. Focus on Jane’s emotional journey as she perseveres despite naysayers and do your best to get this close to 900 words or preferably less so that there’s plenty of space for Jane’s wonderful illustrations and story. Maybe make yourself a 32- or 40-page dummy (although 32 pages might be an easier page count to sell) and see what you can show in images rather than tell in words. We’ve got two biographers in the our upcoming KidLit Palooza/scholarship fundraiser, including brilliant Nancy Churnin talking about writing award-winning biographies as well as middle grade experts and opportunities to ask questions and submit to a great group of editors, agents, publishers, and art dirctors. I hope you can join us.

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 excited to be co-teaching at the upcoming 2022 KidLit Palooza scholarship fundraiser. Starring amazingly brilliant authors, illustrators, editors, agents & art directors right here:

Mira has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on kid lit. Find her at the Children’s Book Academy here or on Twitter @ChildrensBookAc

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Nice! I would like to read this book when it’s published!


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