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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.

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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.]

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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.

Book Blitz for C.H. Armstrong’s The Edge of Nowhere

19 Jan

Look at this gorgeous book! As I progress in my publishing journey, I’ll be sharing news from friends I make along the way. My friend from Twitter is doing a book blitz for her beautiful debut. Check it out and enjoy!

In bookstores and online today:

FULL RESOLUTION EON

SYNOPSIS

The year is 1992 and Victoria Hastings Harrison Greene—reviled matriarch of a sprawling family—is dying.

After surviving the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, Victoria refuses to leave this earth before revealing the secrets she’s carried for decades.

Once the child of a loving family during peaceful times, a shocking death shattered her life. Victoria came face to face with the harshness of the world. As the warm days of childhood receded to distant memory, Victoria learns to survive.

No matter what it takes.

To keep her family alive in an Oklahoma blighted by dust storms and poverty, Victoria makes choices—harsh ones, desperate ones. Ones that eventually made her into the woman her grandchildren fear and whisper about. Ones that kept them all alive. Hers is a tale of tragedy, love, murder, and above all, the conviction to never stop fighting.


OFFICIAL VIDEO TRAILER FOR THE EDGE OF NOWHERE


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

bloggingC.H. Armstrong is an Oklahoma native transplanted in Minnesota. A 1992 graduate of the University of Oklahoma, “Cathie”is a life-long lover of books, and staunchly outspoken on subject of banned and challenged books. The Edge of Nowhere is her first novel and was inspired by her own family’s experiences during the 1930s Oklahoma Dust Bowl and The Great Depression.


PURCHASE A COPY OF THE EDGE OF NOWHERE ONLINE NOW

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Pitch Wars Potential Mentee Bio

12 Aug

My Twitter avatar, in case you forget!

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.

World's best boss

 

One day, I hope to teach college creative writing. Days full of writing, inspiring students, and being inspired by students would be a dream.

Excuse me while I go cry

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.

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What Marketers Should Know About Pinterest

28 Feb
This post originally appeared on Marketing Trenches

Pinterest delights DIYers, bakers, wedding planners, and anyone who likes looking at cute puppies. This year’s social media darling, Pinterest has become one of the top traffic referral sources for retail and magazine sites. For websites in general, in January 2012, Pinterest drove more traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined.

Holy cow.

Marketers, have no doubt: consumers love Pinterest.

But what the heck is Pinterest, and what should your brand do about it?

Have no fear—this post is here to help!

What is Pinterest?

Have you ever had a bulletin board in your bedroom or above your desk, with little reminders, ideas for later, and pictures of your cat? Or think of the bulletin board full of posters and notices at the gym or the local coffee shop.

Now take that bulletin board, imagine it online, and you’ve got Pinterest.

Basically, Pinterest is a socially connected public bulletin board.  Users create “boards” based around a theme or topic, and then grab images from around the web and “pin” them to that board. Of course, Pinterest is connected to Facebook and Twitter, so users can share their pins with all of their friends.

You don’t need to sign up to browse Pinterest, so it’s easy to take a peek to familiarize yourself. For an example of a very cool personal Pinterest presence, check out Steve McGauhey (who is male, unlike about 70% of Pinterest users on this female dominated platform), and for a brand presence, check out Whole Foods’ profile.

How do I know if my brand should be on Pinterest?

While Pinterest is already a big deal for some brands, it’s new, might be a passing trend, and might not have the right audience for your brand. Before you spend too much time investigating Pinterest, make sure it could be right for your business.

One note: whether or not you decide to get involved, Pinterest’s popularity should spur your brand to use more images. Even if you’re not on Pinterest, adding an image can double your page views.

To figure out whether or not Pinterest is worth your marketing resources, ask yourself the below questions. If you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, dig deeper into Pinterest.
  1. Has anything from your website already been pinned? Enter in http://pinterest.com/source/yoururlhere/ to see if Pinterest users have already pinned anything from your website. (Thanks Social Media Examiner for the heads up on this one).
  2. Does your brand create a lot of photography or images? Pinterest is all about images—and if coming up with images is like pulling teeth for you, Pinterest will be like a root canal and cavity filling all in one. On the other hand, if your brand is all about images, you probably don’t even need to read the next two questions—Pinterest is for you.
  3. Do you target 25-34 year old women? While people of all ages and genders hang out on Pinterest, 25-34 year olds are the largest age demographic, making up almost 30% of the user base, and almost 70% of users are female (source). If that’s your brand’s sweet spot, Pinterest has a lot of potential.
  4. Do you market a product or service related to fitness, food, art, clothing, crafts, travel, sports, gadgets, or weddings? These are some of the many consumer focused categories on Pinterest. However, there’s not even a general “Business” category for users to select when they create a board, so professional services companies, you might be out of luck.


How to get started on Pinterest

If Pinterest is right for your brand, here’s how you can get started:
  1. Create a profile through connecting with Twitter. Many Pinterest users have connected their profiles with Facebook—giving them access to their friends’ pins and vice versa. However, there’s no way for brands to use this feature, so we recommend connecting with Twitter to tap into your network there, or, if you’re not on Twitter, starting from scratch.
  2. Integrate Pinterest into your other marketing efforts. “Ugh,” you’re probably thinking, “I’ve already got buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and StumbleUpon!” Too bad—if you’ve got lots of product pictures and answered “Yes” to the questions above, make some room. Pinterest simply drives too much traffic to ignore—set traffic rolling to your site with a “pin it” button.
  3. Create boards, and pin a mix of original and curated content. If your Pinterest boards sell too much, your brand won’t fit in with the fun, useful nature of the site. While including prices on product images can be a good idea, make sure the focus of your Pinterest presence is entertaining or helping your customers, not selling. Your website is where you should do your selling.
  4. Repin, comment, and engage. Unlike on Facebook, on Pinterest, brands can act just like humans. Engaging (tactfully) with other users can help grow your brand’s presence—and your customers’ awareness and loyalty.
Have you used Pinterest yet? Let me know what you think in the comments. And of course, feel free to check out my personal Pinterest page—fair warning, it’s mostly cute puppies.