Hello, lovely Pitch Wars people! Here’s the down-low on who I am, and how my manuscript got to where it is today. I’ve enjoyed connecting with all of you so much, and hope to keep in touch!
About Me: Work and Hopes and Dreams
Most of my working life is spent helping tech startups with marketing strategy and content. I also teach college composition and college prep. I work for myself, so I get to control my schedule, which is the best thing ever. Though sometimes my boss can be a real jerk.
One day, I hope to teach college creative writing. Days full of writing, inspiring students, and being inspired by students would be a dream.
I also cofounded Sounding Sea Writers’ Workshop, which launched this summer with classes on non-fiction, fiction, publishing, and poetry, as well as individual writing coaching. We are based in Baltimore, and we are working on launching our first online class. We’re always open to pitches for classes, both online and local, if you’ve got a great idea you’d like to teach. If there’s a class you’d like to take, we want to hear that, too. But let’s talk about that after the Pitch Wars mentees are chosen, to avoid any conflicts of interest.
About Me: The Writer
Yup, I was that kid who was always sitting alone in the corner making stuff up. I had the absolute privilege of going to a Literary Arts magnet program for high school, Carver Center for Arts and Tech. The community of writers my amazing teachers helped to build—what can I say? My heart.
This is me on our wonderful (okay, kinda gross) lit couch with one of my first ever writer friends.
In college at Duke University, I dove into poetry. I’ve always loved reading novels, but I didn’t think I had the attention span to write one (and at that point, I probably didn’t). So I wrote a lot of poems. I got to spend a month in Paris studying surrealism, and for my thesis, I wrote poems while my friends were doing heavy research. This did not feel like school!
This is me at a basketball game. Yes, I slept in a tent to get tickets. Many times.
Unfortunately, studying poetry is not good preparation for the real world, and I didn’t get into a single one of the poetry MFA programs I applied to my senior year. After a few months of angst, I found a job at a small marketing agency, where my writing skills came in handy. I learned a ton about marketing strategy and targeting my writing to an audience.
Alas, after a while, I realized marketing writing did not make me excited to get up in the morning (let’s be real, nothing really does that for this night owl, but you know what I mean).
I wanted to try my hand at writing what I most loved to read: novels. I went part-time at the agency, started freelancing, took some fiction classes, and wrote a learning novel. I also applied to fiction MFA programs, and landed at the wonderful University of Baltimore.
While my first novel will probably forever remain in a drawer, I adored the process of writing it, and found that I did, indeed, have the attention span to write a full-length book. So when a character from a short story got stuck in my head, I started on the next novel—and that’s what I’ll be submitting to Pitch Wars.
About My Process for My Pitch Wars Manuscript
I won’t go into too much detail about what my Pitch Wars novel is about, because that will be in my query (if you’re dying to know, you can read a draft of my query and get a window into how I respond to feedback). But I do want to give the details about my process. So, here’s the life story of this book:
- I wrote a story from the prompt: “Write about a day that goes from bad to worse”
- I worked with a tutor from Gotham Writers Workshop to improve the story
- The story helped me get into fiction MFA programs, and was published in YARN—my first ever fiction publication!
- I read this piece in Cracked about straight up evil reform schools. I did more research on the topic; I couldn’t believe this was real, and that teens had actually died because of these programs. I was angry. I had my plot and setting.
- I changed the original story drastically, so that the main conflict would be between two girls, rather than a girl and a guy. I didn’t love to hate the guy character in the story enough to keep him around for a whole novel.
- I started writing!
- Last summer, I worked on the first half of the novel with feedback and guidance from my professor, writer Jane Delury.
- This April, I wrote “The End.” I showed the novel to a few people, and did some minor revisions.
- This summer, I worked with Jane again. I have done two major revisions. Here are some things I have changed, to demonstrate my commitment to revision. I toned down the evilness of the reform school to make it creepier, added an entire subplot, revised that entire subplot, changed the backstory and resulting motivations/actions of two major characters, added a new scene that’s now the climax, and rewrote the last few chapters twice. That’s on top of read-throughs for consistency and line edits.
I haven’t queried this novel yet, though I did get interest from one agent on the short story that became the first chapter (she’s a Pitch Wars agent! eeh!), and from another agent, when she gave me a critique at a conference before I even wrote “The End” (I hope she’ll become a ninja Pitch Wars agent! She’s awesome!). I entered the novel in Pitch to Publication, and I got some really nice rejections. That was before my second major revision, and before I’d spent much time on my query.
What I’m Looking For in A Mentor/My Mentee Style
I would love someone with fresh expert eyes to help me take the novel across the finish line. Are the revisions so far working? Where do the seams show? What other revisions will help make this novel amazing? Where does the pacing or voice flag?
If our Pitch Wars relationship works out, I would love to keep in touch with my mentor and even become a critique partner. I am constantly in search of writing communities, whether it’s within my MFA program, via SCBWI, or online contests.
Of course, I have the confidence to enter Pitch Wars, so I hope my manuscript is close to ready for querying. I hope it will need mostly small revisions and possibly some line editing to make it shine even more. However, I am dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make this novel the best it can be, and I’m willing to work my tail off.
I am used to getting feedback from workshops, critique groups, and critique partners. Here’s my typical reaction to feedback and process for responding:
- If we do a call/Skype, I’ll take diligent notes and try to keep the “but that’s my darling!” reflex to a minimum. If I get an email, I’ll read the email carefully, and send a short note saying that I’ll reply in depth soon.
- I’ll take some time to privately pull my hair out, get emotional, and mourn all the darlings I will have to kill. I will warn my boyfriend to be very kind to me and bring me chocolate. Ideally I get at least a day for this.
- I’ll come back to my notes/written feedback from my readers and realize how right they were and wonder how I will ever fix all the problems they pointed out. I’ll sometimes reach out for questions and brainstorming. If I disagree with feedback, I’ll have a good reason for it, and have a discussion about it. I love mentors/readers who like to riff ideas and solutions for problems. Sometimes we’ll come up with something great together, sometimes, a brainstorming session just points me in the right direction.
- I’ll form a plan for revisions/write a new synopsis and ideally chat about that plan with the mentor/reader.
- I’ll sit down and get to work. I do #augwritingchallenge (well, it will be #sepwritingchallenge soon), so I shoot for an hour of revising a day. I do way more on the weekends, and I can also plan to take time off from work for sprints, if necessary.
About Me: The Fun Stuff
In addition to all this working and writing, I also have fun! I’m obsessed with animals and I’ve had my ex-racehorse, LJ, since I was 13 (14 years!). Ollie, my dog, is also amazing. Below’s a shot from the annual farm Christmas parade and costume contests. I specialize in finding lazy, clever costumes. This year, LJ was “Joy to the World,” thanks to the help of a world-map shower curtain.
Last year, he was a “white elephant.” I tell you, this horse puts up with everything.
I also like running, hiking, and just generally being outdoors. I have done a few backpacking excursions, which helped with the ending of my manuscript.
I live between the water and a huge park in Baltimore with my boyfriend. He’s the best. Also, I just got bangs this summer. Dig?
I’m passionate about improving Baltimore for all of its residents, and I volunteer for various educational non-profits, like Destination Imagination.
This post is loooong already, so here are some pictures!
A beautiful Banyan tree from a hike in Costa Rica
I don’t have video proof handy, but this is the mechanical bull I did not fall off of. Those horseback riding skills pay off!
Kayaking on Loch Raven Reservoir
Mountains without snow are more my thing.
I’m a believer in asking for forgiveness, not permission, which is how I got away with taking LJ to campus for a visit every year at Duke.
That’s it! Chat about anything via @tracycgold on Twitter, and check out what I love to read on Goodreads (recommendations welcome!). I hope to get to know more about all of you! You can check out other early bios here.