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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.]

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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? (more…)

Pitch Wars Interview with Mentee Ashley Leath and Her Mentor, Kim Graff

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 Ashley Leath

Ashley Leath

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter & Website

Mentor Kim Graff

Kim Graff

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter & Website

 

Ashley, why did you choose Kim?

As soon as I read the words “[Kim] has an undying love for all things murderous, mayhem-y, and mysterious” on Kim’s PW Wish List, I knew I wanted to work with her. Cat’s bio mentioned her experience with plot and pitches, and these are two areas where I felt like I could improve. Add to this the fact that they were seeking LGBTQ characters, and I was really excited. When I examined their game plan for editing and working with their mentee(s), I was sold.

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#PitchWars and Taking Care of Yourself

16 Aug

ChocolateYes, it’s important to take care of yourself when you’re involved in a contest as emotional as Pitch Wars. On the hashtag, I see a lot of people doing this with food and alcohol. Chocolate and wine are delicious ways to deal with those good and bad emotions. But here’s the thing. I’ve been there. As much as I hate to say it, I’m here to tell you that too much chocolate, wine, or [insert your favorite treat] can 100% be a bad thing, especially when it comes at the expense of healthy food.

Many readers know me as a 2016 Pitch Wars hopeful, but I was also a mentee last year, with a different manuscript, and the marvelous mentor Rachel Lynn Solomon. A few things have come up on the hashtag and in our 2015 mentee Facebook group that made me think I needed to write this post. (more…)

2016 Pitch Wars Potential Mentee Bio

24 Jul

Hey, Pitch Warriors! Some of you know me from last year, when I was mentored by the amazing Rachel Lynn Solomon. I’m still unagented, and I have a new manuscript, so I’m back, with a vengeance. Not really about that last part, except my book’s title is VERA WITH A VENGEANCE, and I love making punny (or not-so-punny) jokes.

For real, I loved partipating in Pitch Wars last year. I had a great experience working with Rachel and found a lovely community in a group of my fellow mentees in Facebook (I’m still on there every day!). It’s a little weird to be back this year, and I wasn’t sure that I was going to do it, at first. Then the mentor wish lists came out and I swooned about all of the amazing mentors. Still unsure, I did what I always do, when I have a writing quandary: I posted about it in the 2015 Pitch Wars Mentee Facebook Group, and asked Rachel. They encouraged me to enter again, so here I am!

 

THE BOOK

Vera with a Vengeance

Here’s the deal about this year’s book, a 78,000 word young adult contemporary novel: 

VERONICA MARS meets Courtney Summers when a seventeen-year-old girl starts a business to sell revenge. 

Vera Davis grew up overshadowed by her basketball-superstar brother. When a car accident paralyzes him and kills her parents, she’s suddenly in charge of his medical bills, the mortgage, and her own anger and helplessness. Vera’s always been good at getting back at people who hurt her, from ex-boyfriends to jerk bosses to cheating classmates. But she can’t exactly get revenge on the curve in the road where her father lost control of the car.

Meager insurance payouts leave Vera desperate for money, so she starts a business to help other people get revenge. Word spreads, and she’s soon busy wreaking havoc on cheats, liars, and thieves of all stripes. The only snag is that Vera’s mega crush thinks her style of vengeance is morally wrong. He’s her brother’s best friend and totally off-limits, so she doesn’t let him stop her. Even if he might be right that fighting nude picture with nude picture makes the whole world naked on the internet. 

 In the course of investigating a case for a client, Vera finds new evidence about her family’s accident. Turns out there is someone for Vera to blame, but the perpetrator had her own reason to seek revenge. Now that Vera can finally get vengeance, she must decide whether she still wants it. 

[Mad thanks to Alana Saltz. I met her when we both entered Pitch Wars last year. I think we emailed about that pitch eleven-and-a-half million times? Also, the picture of the basketball players in my collage? That’s Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson, who inspired the male characters in VERA. I had huge crushes on them when I was an undergrad at Duke!]

THE PROCESS

Of all things, I came up with the idea for VERA after I asked a guy to stop smoking (hate it!) at the dog park. He wasn’t so happy about my request, and blew smoke in my face. In real life, I left the dog park. In my imagination, I fantasized about how I could get back at him. Then, I realized that he was probably having a crappy day, and really needed that cigarette. If I got revenge on him, I would be a jerk, too. Vera’s business, and its potential for moral complications, came into my mind as I walked my dog home.

I had to wait a long time to start writing VERA—extensive revisions for Pitch Wars last year came during my final year of grad school. I taught college classes for the first time, and wrote, designed, and self-published a collection of short stories for my MFA thesis. As soon as that book was at the printer and out of my hands, I started writing VERA. I wish I had started earlier—it’s true what everyone says, that writing a new book is the best therapy for the stress and emotional roller coaster that comes with querying. Writing VERA was better than chocolate therapy, retail therapy, and therapy therapy. Okay, maybe I lied about the chocolate.

I only finished VERA this month, so it is still an early draft. Right now, I’d call it draft 1.5, since I already cut two characters, and fixed some obvious editing and consistency problems. My critique partners have read several chunks of it, and I just got some AMAZING feedback on the full from a sensitivity beta reader. By the time the submission window rolls around, I’ll be on a solid draft 2. While I’m nervous about submitting such an early draft, I’m excited to have energy and relatively fresh eyes to revise during Pitch Wars, if I am chosen.

VERA is my third novel. The second was my Pitch Wars book from last year, which is still searching for a home with an agent and/or publisher. The first will forever be in a drawer (or maybe, one day, completely rewritten). I’ve learned a lot about writing from my experiences drafting those novels, in my M.F.A. program, and working with Rachel and other critique partners. I hope that learning shows through in VERA and I’m looking for help making it my strongest book yet.

WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR IN A MENTOR/MENTEE RELATIONSHIP

I hit the jackpot last year with Rachel, who has become a trusted critique partner and friend. I would love to be so lucky again. VERA is more twisty and turny than anything I have written before, so I would love to work with a mentor who is awesome at figuring out when to reveal which information for maximum suspense. VERA also deals with a lot of very sensitive issues: disability, the morality of revenge, sexual assault, race, religion. The number of ways I can offend readers is scary. I have sought/am still seeking sensitivity readers, but I would love a mentor to help me check my privilege and write about those issues with the sensitivity and complexity they deserve.

I haven’t spent as much time as I like polishing VERA yet, because I don’t want to spend hours agonizing over a sentence when I might delete the whole scene. I’d love a mentor who understands that and points out patterns of weaknesses that I can work on when it’s time for me to obsess about every word. Don’t worry—I LOVE obsessing about every word. But sometimes I waste time by doing that too early!

ABOUT ME

I wrote a lot about my revision style (and my life) in my mentee bio last year, and that’s all still true! Except lots of wonderful things have happened since then. I’m engaged to my then-boyfriend (for some reason he stuck around despite being completely neglected during Pitch Wars), and I have my Masters of Fine Arts degree (though still no full-time teaching job). I’m loving teaching writing at the University of Baltimore, freelance editing, and dreaming up writing classes for my business, Sounding Sea Writers’ Workshop. I also get to read amazing books and help authors with marketing in my internship with literary agent Carrie Pestritto, of Prospect Agency.

I’d love to chat books, feminism, wedding planning (so! much! work!), self-publishing (also so! much! work!). Hit me up on Twitter, @tracycgold, and to my fellow potential mentees, good luck!

New Story Published in Youth Imagination

21 Apr

I have exciting news today! My short story “Impossibly Back” is now live on Youth Imagination, and it is free to read. 

In this story, when a horseback ride goes wrong, a girl must try to save her best friend’s life, and their endangered relationship.

This story has an interesting origin, so I thought I’d fill you in on where it came from.

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Essay in Baltimore Fishbowl: White Privilege and Police Brutality

20 May

Today, Baltimore Fishbowl published my essay, “On White Privilege, Police Brutality, and Baltimore.”

Here’s a snippet—head to the Fishbowl to read the full article.

“I’m white, and I live in a neighborhood of yuppies near the water in Baltimore City. So, I can’t speak to what it’s like for the folks affected by police brutality. But I can speak to what it’s like to deal with police when you’re a stupid, white teenager.”

 

New Writing: Check Out My 50-Word Story

11 Sep

My story, “Her Boy,” went live on 50-Word Stories today. Check it out! 50-Word Stories is an amazing site; in just a few minutes, you can read several stories that are exactly 50 words long and run the gamut from funny to scary to touching. Enjoy!

 

Missed My Web Writing and Editing Workshop?

3 Dec

Well, I’m planning to hold another one in the spring. An awesome group turned out for my last workshop, and I have had many requests to hold another similar event. Depending on how much repeat interest I get, I can vary the format or keep it the same.

I don’t have any details worked out quite yet, but if you’re interested in coming to a workshop in the spring, enter your information in the Google form below. I promise I’ll only sell your emails to vampires and unicorns, no humans or companies.

Come to My Web Writing and Editing Workshop

24 Oct

Cringe every time you have to update your company’s “About” page or even your own bio? Or perhaps you were an English major in college, but you’ve grown a bit rusty?

Come to my Web Writing and Editing Workshop! We’ll cover how to:

  • Beat writer’s block
  • Avoid common mistakes
  • Edit constructively and effectively
  • Optimize writing for the web

We’ll meet at the Emerging Technology Center in Canton, 11/13/12 from 6 to 8 pm. I hope to see you there!

Get details and sign up at EventBrite.

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