2017 Pitch Wars Potential Mentee Bio: TURNED AWAY

24 Jul

I somewhat can’t believe that I am writing one of these again, but here I am: entering Pitch Wars with a shiny new YA manuscript for the third year in a row! I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2015, chosen by the awesome Rachel Lynn Solomon, and in 2016, chosen by the awesome Diana Gallagher.

Why am I entering again if I was lucky enough to be chosen twice before, you may ask? Maybe I am tempting fate by seeking ANOTHER mentor as amazing as the first two, or fellow mentees as supportive, wonderful, and generally life-affirming as my friends from 2015 and 2016. Maybe I am a glutton, hoping for more of a good thing. Certainly, I love deadlines, structure, and constructive criticism. I’ll need a lot of help with this year’s book, as I’ve never written a full-length historical novel before, and whew, that’s tricky. Also, I’ve learned enough about this industry to know that the writers who succeed fight for every opportunity, even if it means their hearts could be broken by rejection. I’m not going to let this opportunity pass me by. Besides, I have a lot to give back to the Pitch Wars community, and would love to provide counsel and comfort to a new group of fellow mentees with my perspective from past years.

So here I am. Still unagented, though not for lack of hustle and revision. Still fighting. Ready to teach my battle techniques to the writers fighting alongside me, striking down the foes of rejection and self-doubt.

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Advice on Handling Literary Agent Revise and Resubmits

9 Jun

What to do when an agent says--I'd love to see this again if you revise-
Today I have a guest post on Adventures in YA Publishing about how to approach a revise-and-resubmit request from an agent. The idea from this blog post came from a question a writer asked me on Twitter. If you have a question that would make a good blog post, feel free to comment here or contact me!

What Pitch Wars Mentees Want in a Mentor

5 Jun

Love Letters to Pitch Wars MentorsPitch Wars is coming up again, and mentors are preparing their wishlists! When I tweeted about having time to write a blog post, I was asked to consider what a Pitch Wars mentee wants in a mentor. As a two-time mentee who’s had AMAZING mentors, I know a little something about that.

I’ll share my experience, and then include some comments from other Pitch Wars mentees below.

Both years that I have participated in Pitch Wars, I had a very hard time narrowing down my list of mentors. For those new to the contest, there are generally dozens of mentors for each age category, and mentees choose 4-6 mentors to submit a query and first chapter to. Those mentors then ask for full manuscripts if they are intrigued, and choose which mentee they would like to work with.

Both years, there were so many amazing mentors I thought I could learn from, who talked about books like mine on their wishlists, and who were fun to interact with on Twitter. I pored over mentors’ wishlists, analyzed their past mentees, read their blogs and books, and compared mentor picks with other hopeful mentees. Ultimately, I went with my gut, and both years, I chose well. I was picked as a mentee by Rachel Lynn Solomon in 2015 and Diana Gallagher in 2016. I still talk to both of my mentors regularly, and my life is so much richer because they are in it (cheesy but so true!).

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Book a Query Critique at a Steep Discount for a Limited Time

17 May

I’m offering a steep query critique discount to kick off my summer of aggressively growing my editing business. I posted about this over on my company Sounding Sea’s website, and I am reposting here.

Are you getting ready to send a book out to literary agents, or wondering if you could improve a query you’re currently sending? Getting your query professionally critiqued can help your novel jump out of the slush pile.

I am excited to offer a 50% query critique discount until June 15th, or until my schedule totally fills up, whichever comes first. Book your critique quickly! My query critiques involve two rounds of feedback and any necessary email back and forth between rounds. That means you get two rounds of feedback on your query for only $50, while many query critiques cost over $100 and only include one round of feedback. I also generally turn around query critiques within a few business days, or a week maximum, while other services often require waiting for months.

When I critique queries, I focus on helping the author communicate their vision for the book. In the first round, I’ll ask questions and provide feedback about the big picture of your query: does your vision for the book come across in a clear and compelling way? I’ll then send you off to make changes. In the second round, I’ll dive in with a laser focus to help you polish your new and improved query to a shine. With this process, you can be sure that you’ve nailed the revisions of your query and can be confident in the query you’re sending to agents.

You can read some of my past query critiques to get a sense of my style by clicking the links below. Note that I will not be publicly posting this round of discounted critiques. I will use the comments and track changes feature either on Word or Google Docs, whichever you prefer, not the bold and bracket system I used for the public posts.

Historical Fiction by Carly Heath, now represented by Jessie Devine at D4EO.

YA Fantasy Dual POV by Ally Overy, now represented by Natascha Morris at BookEnds Literary

YA Thriller by Suja Sukumar

Contact me at tracygold@soundingsea.com to reserve your spot before I’m all booked up!

Advice for Writing a Memoir

28 Apr

Recently, I have been getting a lot of questions from folks who want to write memoirs. Where do I start? What if I don’t remember anything? Writing a memoir is not an easy task, but it can be incredibly fulfilling and worthwhile.

I’ve worked with and learned from many brilliant memoirists, and love helping people tell their life stories. So, this week on Sounding Sea’s blog, I shared some of the advice I have been giving beginning memoirists about how to start. Check it out, and send it along to any aspiring memoirists you know!

Query and First Page Critique: YA Thriller

13 Jan

Earlier this month, I posted about giving a few critiques away in exchange for donations to charity. All three slots for this round have been taken, but you can follow me or Sounding Sea on Twitter to be the first to find out when I do another round! You can also sign up to get email alerts via Sounding Sea here (don’t worry, they’re infrequent!).

This week, I have feedback for writer Suja Sukumar, who generously donated to the White Helmets, a neutral organization rescuing Syrian civilians.

My line notes are in bold and brackets, and I have overall thoughts below.

 

Dear ___,

After being orphaned a decade ago, seventeen-year-old Indian-American Tanvi Nair is determined to put her past behind her [Is her past being orphaned or something else? You may want to substitute something more specific here or skip the “past behind her” part.] and take care of her aunt who suffers from depression. [You might need an adjective here to clarify depression. Plenty of people are depressed and don’t need a caretaker—what is different about her aunt’s depression?] Every [Oops, just “ever!”] since her [Tanvi’s cousin? You may want to use the name instead of the pronoun, otherwise it could be the aunt’s cousin.] cousin, Mimi, ran away five years ago, her aunt has resorted to praying [This could be simply: “her aunt has prayed.”] to every deity in the Hindu pantheon, hoping her daughter would return. Tanvi hopes so, too, though she has no memory of what happened the day Mimi ran away. [Meaning she blacked out or she was too young? You may want to clarify.]

 

Then one day [This transition makes the plot seem episodic (this happened, then that happened, rather than the character did this, therefore that happened). Is this just an accident, or does the plot pick up here? If the latter, you may want to start your query with Tanvi finding this girl.] Tanvi spots a girl with a scarred face across the street. The girl’s mannerisms and voice is [are] exactly like her missing cousin’s. [So she does remember her cousin, just not the day she disappeared?] She also seems aware of [How so?] Tanvi’s past, like her dad’s murder and her mom’s involvement with dark magic rituals from India. [Ah ha! Tanvi is not just your typical orphan…I think you can still get rid of “dark past” earlier in the query and have it hit here.]

 

But her attempt to approach the girl is met with hostility. [So then how does she know all of that stuff about the girl? Maybe “approach” is not the right word here?] After getting her to admit she is Mimi, [How? I’m curious about how Tanvi worked her way into the girl’s good graces.] Tanvi tries to take her home, but the girl attacks her with a knife and flees after Tanvi disarms her. Then a local bully at school is found stabbed with that same knife with Tanvi’s fingerprints on it.

Now Tanvi has to convince the police of her innocence. And she has to track Mimi down since no one else believes her cousin is back. But tracking Mimi down will require piecing together the events of the day Mimi vanished, the day that is missing from Tanvi’s memory. Failing to do so could cost Tanvi her sanity, if not her freedom.

HIDE ME AWAY might appeal to readers of Megan Miranda and Gail Giles’s thrillers. I am an Indian immigrant [Is Tanvi also an immigrant or second/third/etc-generation? You may want to clarify. Simply “like Tanvi, I am” would work. I would also consider putting the word count, genre, comps, and a logline at the beginning of the query, and keeping your bio separate, at the end.] settled in Michigan where my 62,000 word psychological thriller is set. I am also a member of SCBWI.

Continue reading 

Query and First Page Critique: YA Fantasy Dual POV

21 Dec White necked raven gliding in a strong wind on top of a mountain

Earlier this month, I posted about giving a few critiques away in exchange for donations to charity. All three slots for this round have been taken, but you can follow me or Sounding Sea on Twitter to be the first to find out when I do another round! You can also sign up to get email alerts via Sounding Sea here (don’t worry, they’re infrequent!). Last week, I gave feedback on Carly Heath’s query and first page.

This week, I have feedback for writer Ally Ovary, who generously donated to the White Helmets, a neutral organization rescuing Syrian civilians.

My line notes are in bold and brackets, and I have overall thoughts below.

Dear Agent:

A princess controlled by an evil shadow and the thief she sentenced to death become unlikely allies when they try to uncover the truth about one murder and prevent another.

I am seeking representation for my young adult fantasy novel, CURSED STARS, complete at 101,000 words. [I love this query format, which lets us know what to expect in the rest! 101,000 words is at the upper limit for YA fantasy, but not a red flag. The title seems a tad familiar (star-crossed lovers?). A more specific title could be better, but it also sounds intriguing, so I’m ambivalent about it without knowing more about the book.]

Continue reading 

Query and First Page Critique: Historical Fiction

14 Dec

closeup of the pages of an open old book while they are turning, on a rustic wooden table

Earlier this week, I posted about giving a few critiques away in exchange for donations to charity. All three slots for this round have been taken, but you can follow me or Sounding Sea on Twitter to be the first to find out when I do another round! You can also sign up to get email alerts here (don’t worry, they’re infrequent!).

Below, I have feedback for Carly Heath‘s query and first page. My thoughts are in bold and brackets, and I have overall thoughts below.

Dear (insert agent’s name here),

[My personal preference is to see a short logline and the genre/word count information in the beginning, but different people have different opinions on whether you should just jump in to the query. I think providing some quick set up could really help your query in particular. I was confused when I read so much about Erlend when Gunnar was mentioned first. It would be good to know who the POV characters are up front.]

It’s 1904 and seventeen-year-old Asta and her recently disabled [How is he disabled? That’s pretty vague.] best friend Gunnar are misfits in their rural Scandinavian village.  [I would consider skipping the clause about “misfits” and skip to this sentence, where there’s more specificity about what’s at stake. Something like: “Scandinavian teen Asta dreads her arranged marriage. DESCRIPTIVE WORDS Erlend just wants to be with his secret boyfriend, Gunnar, who is Asta’s best friend (or even better, let us know if there’s a more direct connection between Asta and Erlend).] She dreads a future where her only option is marriage and motherhood, and he just wants to be with his secret boyfriend, Erlend. [I had a hard time keeping track of she and he here—you’re fighting an uphill battle with unfamiliar names.]

Continue reading 

Post-Election Charity Critique Giveaway

13 Dec

KeyboardIf you want to support inclusivity and progress, especially after the election, AND you want a detailed critique of your query and first page, you’ve come to the right place!

I will critique the query and first page of the first three people who send me a receipt for a donation to one of the charities on this list. I’ll also accept receipts for donations to We Need Diverse Books and the White Helmets, an organization helping civilians in Syria. If a lot of people send at once, I’ll critique more, within reason.

I don’t have any donation amount limits, but as a guideline, I normally charge $100 for a query critique. That includes two rounds and lots of conversation. For this giveaway, I’ll just be doing one round.

Note: I will be posting the critiques on this blog and my company blog over at Sounding Sea so that others can read and learn. Don’t participate if you don’t want a public critique! I’ll have comments open on the blog post, so others may add their critiques (which could be a good or bad thing, haha).

To participate:

Email me an image or PDF of your receipt and your query/first page at tracygold@soundingsea.com.

I’ll be updating how many critiques are claimed on Twitter @tracycgold. If you don’t get an email back from me, feel free to ping me on Twitter as you may have gone into my spam.

Now that I’m (99%) done my grading (woohoo!), I may be doing a few more of these critiques. Follow me on Twitter to stay tuned, or sign up for email updates over at Sounding Sea!

Why would you want a critique from me? 

For one, my freelance editing clients think I’m pretty awesome. For another, I intern for literary agent Carrie Pestritto, which means I read A LOT of queries and pages and know what stands out from the pile. And, of course, I’ve participated in Pitch Wars for the last two years, and I’ve paid attention to the pitches and queries that get a lot of agent love.

Pitch Wars Interview with Lana Pattinson and Her Mentor, Marty Mayberry

3 Nov

We have an abundance of wonderful Pitch Wars mentees this year, and I volunteered to host interviews for a few mentees who didn’t get on Brenda Drake’s site before the glorious agent round began. Enjoy learning about these awesome teams!

This post includes…

Mentee Lana Pattinson

Lana Pattinson

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter & Website 

Mentor Marty Mayberry

Marty Mayberry

 

 

 

 

 

TwitterWebsite

Lana, why did you choose your mentor? 

There were such great mentors to choose from this year! But I knew I had to submit to Marty right away. She’d mentored the year before, so she already knew the time involvement needed. She seemed like she’d be a firm but low-key mentor, which is what I needed. And finally, when she professed her love for kilts, I was IN.

And Marty has been super easy to work with. She’s a machine, such a fast worker it makes my head spin. She has amped the romance to a capital R in my manuscript, and for that I’m thankful. And mostly, I’m thankful that she believed in this manuscript and encouraged me to get my revisions done.

Marty, why did you choose Lana as your mentee? Continue reading