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Tracy C. Gold

AUTHOR, EDITOR, TEACHER

Events for Spring 2024

Hello, everyone! I have a ton of events coming up this spring relatively local to the Baltimore, MD area. As I tell my friends, want to see me in the few months after a book launch? Come to a book event! I’ve had plenty of events before where very few people come, so it can be so meaningful when people do show up.

That said, if you have an event where you know there will be a ton of kids, I am happy to show up and do a storytime and/or craft activity for them! Ping me at tracycgold@gmail.com. I’m probably looking at the fall right now as spring is packed!

Tracy with her daughter Ava with a table of books on the porch of The Ivy Bookshop

Local Events for Readers

Saturday, April 20, 10:30 am
Storytime and Craft
Snug Books
Baltimore, MD

Saturday April 27, 1 pm 
Annapolis Book Festival (this still only shows last year’s schedule)
Key School, Annapolis, MD
Reading and signing

Thursday, May 2, 10:30 am: FULL
Storytime and craft
Weber’s Farm 
Parkville, MD
Free, but tickets required. Register here. FULL AS OF 4/3/24


Saturday, May 4, 10 am 
Storytime and craft
Park Books
Severna Park, MD

Sunday, May 5, 9 am 
Storytime and Craft Morning at The Ivy–RSVP so we can get the right supplies, please
Baltimore, MD

New: Saturday, May 11, 10:30 am story time, with signing to 2 pm 
Storytime and signing at Kenilworth Mall’s “Momosa” event
Towson, MD

New: June 22, 2024
Chesapeake Children’s Book Fest
Easton, MD

Webinar for writers
Thanks to Reedsy, a platform of publishing professionals where I get a ton of my editing work, on April 3rd at 3pm Eastern, I’ll be chatting live about “Common Mistakes in Dialogue and How to Avoid them.” Register here. There will be a video and transcript available afterward, too, and you’ll be notified if you register even if you can’t attend. 

Don’t Forget My Classes!
Students are enjoying my Beginner’s Guide to Writing Picture Books!
You can buy it on Thinkific. Or access it with a Skillshare subscription. 

And of course, my class on rhyming picture books is still live! Here’s Thinkific and Skillshare

Want to know about future events? Follow me on Instagram and Facebook or join my email list!

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Podcasting Kids: The Krieger Schecter Connector Podcast

I just had to share this adorable video/podcast that the kids at Krieger Schechter put together during my last visit to their school. I am the Silverman-Brown author in residence this year, which means I am coming for three visits over the course of the year. In my first visit, I talked with children about coming up with ideas and research. In my second visit, we talked about drafting and structure. When I return in April, we’ll be talking about revision. Throughout, we’ve been using my book “Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat” as a jumping off point to talk about how bats can affect a region’s ecology. Krieger Schechter is planning to have kids make bat boxes to install at the school to give these helpful bug eating critters a safe home.

I love sharing my process and hopefully inspiring all of these young people!

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Beginner’s Guide to Writing and Publishing Picture Books

Writing and Publishing Picture Books: A Quick and Fun Beginner's Guide

This new on-demand class goes through all the FAQs I get from new picture book writers, and then some!

This class is shorter and quicker than my in-depth course on writing rhyming picture books but still jam-packed with information about traditional publishing, self publishing, structure, language and everything you need to get started with writing picture books.

Find more details and enroll on Thinkific, where you will be added to a community for students of all of my classes.

Join Skillshare to access both classes, minus the community attached to them.


You can also reach out to me at tracycgold@gmail.com with questions at any time!

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7 Creative Gifts for Creative Writers

It is the season of shopping! Er…I mean, giving. If you’re looking for a gift for a writer in your life, or if you’re looking for a gift for yourself (coming from someone who absolutely fills her own stocking), I’ve got some great ideas for you. These ideas are focused on writers, but many of them apply to any creative.

Most creative fields are rife with self-doubt. I speak for myself and for many writers and artists when I say that we can feel a great sense of guilt when we take time to work on our craft instead of doing more pressing tasks. Most writers I know have nagging questions in the back of their minds: “Am I good enough?” “Should I really be spending time on doing this?”

Here’s the thing: having someone in your life who supports you as a writer or creative can make the difference between giving up and persevering. Giving someone support for their dreams is more meaningful than any gadget or soft sweater.

And I joke about filling my own stocking, but the truth is that someone’s gotta do it. No one else is going to buy me socks, hair ties, chapstick, and candy. I enjoy all of those things, so I do it for myself. So if no one else is giving you the gift of encouragement to pursue your dreams? Do it yourself.

So, while a post like this may seem commercial, there is a layer of meaning here about believing in your loved ones, and believing in yourself. You deserve it!

Ok, enough sappiness. On to the gifts.

Yes, my own classes on writing or a coaching session make great gifts…but I also have ideas that don’t cost a cent. Full disclosure, all Amazon links are affiliate links (help me fill that stocking?).

Here we go! 
1. The gift of time. Especially for parents like me, there is never enough time! Think about what you can take off someone’s plate (or what you can take off of your own plate) to give the gift of time to write. If you want to make this into a cute physical object, you can make an IOU gift card which is good for, say, one night a week of dishes or laundry duty if that’s normally their chore, or a few hours of watching the kids when it’s normally your spouse’s time (or a few hours of babysitting for a non-spouse loved one). If you’re trying to clear your own plate, is there something you can say no to that’s filling up a lot of your time? A chore you can let wait? A dinner you can order instead of make?

The key is to then use that free time to actually be creative, or to help your loved one do so. This is where having a physical object or card can be a helpful reminder. Personally, I make a calendar event to block out time for myself to write. 

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Best Picture Books about Horses

I love horses and I love picture books! So…whenever someone asks about picture books about horses, I’m your girl. I was going through some favorites today and thought I’d post a list.


These links are all affiliate links which means if you buy these books (or your regular Amazon purchases) through these links, you’ll be supporting my horse and picture book habits. Thank you!

What books have I missed? Please comment with your suggestions!

Clip Clop by Nicola Smee

This one is so much fun to read aloud! It’s perfect for younger kids, babies on up.

Horse Power: How Horses Changed the World by Jennifer Thermes

My kid is obsessed with this book. It is a longer non-fiction read. My kid’s takeaway is pretty much that horses make the world a better place! I agree!

If I Had a Horse by Gianna Marino

This book is spare and beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that when I saw it at the library, I knew I had to have my own copy, and bought one lickety split.

The Ultimate Book of Horses by Sandra Laboucarie illustrated by Helene Convert

This one was just recommended to me but I had to add it on here because we have a ton of the books in “The Ultimate Book of” series, and I never knew a horses one existed! This series is super interactive and fun, with more than you’ll ever want to know about cities, space, dinosaurs…you name it.

Fritz and The Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett

A scruffy pony saves the day! A beloved classic from my childhood.

Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero by Patricia McCormick, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

For the older range of picture book readers (a mature four-year-old at youngest on up), this is an incredibly touching story about a brave horse who becomes a war hero. The book shows a little bit of war, but isn’t too scary.

Wild Horse Annie: Friend of the Mustangs by Tracey Fern, illustrated by Steven Salerno

Another true story, about a woman who spoke up to protect wild mustangs. A more whimsical read (I mean, just look at the adorable cover!).

This Way, Charlie by Caron Levis, illustrated by Charles Santoso

This absolutely beautiful book tells the story of a blind horse who becomes friends with a grumpy goat. It’s based on a true story, but is lyrical and spare in a way more common to fiction.

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New On-Demand Class on Writing Rhyming Picture Books

Photo by Sean Scheidt

I am excited to announce my new on-demand class, “How to Write Rhyming Picture Books.” I’ve had so many friends and clients say they wanted to take the real-time classes I’ve led…but that the schedule didn’t work. Thus the idea of on-demand classes. It’s impossible to recreate the energy of real-time classes in an asynchronous mode, but I knew there had to be a way to capture at least some community feel.

I did my research, and landed on Thinkific as a platform to host online courses and a community discussion around those courses. While students will engage with the content at different times, this community will allow for discussion and for me to weigh in with feedback on student projects and questions.

When I recently polled my Facebook friends, several people asked for a class on rhyming picture books specifically. So, I have planned a class and scripted all of the videos. Now, before I film, I’m offering the class for presale. This way, I’ll make sure I have enough interest in the class to make all the videos, and I can also incorporate feedback on my curriculum to make sure I’m offering the best possible class.

So…I’m excited to introduce my pre-sale for “How to Write a Rhyming Picture Book”! Think of this like a Kickstarter…if I can get 10 people to sign up for the class by June 16, I’ll go ahead and create all the videos and launch the class by August 1 (if not earlier). 

If I can’t get 10 people to sign up, I’ll refund everyone’s money and rethink whether it’s worth offering the class. But I think I’ll find 10! 

I’m offering the class at a special discounted price before June 16 as well. Right now the class is $89 to join, a 30% discount from my plan for the permanent price ($129). 


The class includes a private community where you can connect with other writers and post your project for the class, which will be a new spin on a classic nursery rhyme. I’ll be able to chime in and provide feedback on the projects for the first 10 people who sign up for the class (and hopefully more, but that’s going to depend on demand). 

I plan to offer this class on Thinkific in both video and written format. You can watch or you can just read. For my audiobook/podcast fiends, you will also be able to purely listen to most of the class.

As a heads up, I’m likely going to launch this course on Skillshare as well eventually but that will be primarily video due to how that platform works. As of now, I’m planning to keep the course cheaper on Thinkific than the cost for a Skillshare membership. 

Find more details and sign up here!

Please feel free to reach out with questions at tracycgold@gmail.com.

Looking for a class that’s more for beginners? Check out my on-demand class on writing and publishing picture books for beginners on Thinkific and Skillshare.

This course includes:

  • The opportunity to post one of your books and get feedback from other students and me
  • Details on basic types of picture books and their typical length
  • Guidelines for structuring picture books
  • Tips on style and language in picture books
  • Templates for formatting both rhyming and prose picture books

Feel free to email me at tracycgold@gmail.com if you have any questions!

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How to Write a Picture Book Query Letter (Template and Example) 

I have great news about picture book query letters: they can be extremely short and simple! Many authors agonize over query letters for novels and memoirs because they are key in convincing an agent to read a whole book. Picture books, on the other hand, are so short that agents are likely to at least skim the whole book as long as the query letter is half-decent. Back when I was an agent intern going through query letters, that’s certainly what I did.

Of course, you should still carefully compose a solid query letter, but much of the advice you’ll find online about query letters is geared toward longer books. So, here’s my take on writing a picture book query letter (with an example of my own successful letter).

Keep in mind that traditional publishers find the illustrators for their books. You only need to submit the manuscript and there’s no need to mention an illustrator. If you’re an author/illustrator, read to the bottom for some tips just for you!

Follow the basic template you’d use for any book: the hook, the book, and the cook. 

  • “The hook” is your elevator pitch—how would you describe the book in 30 seconds to intrigue someone? 
  • “The book” is your longer description of the book—if you need it—and how that book fits into the market. As you’ll see in my example below, I only used “the hook” to describe my book on its own, and the next paragraph was describing my book in relation to other published books. I didn’t want to say my own book was the next “Goodnight Moon” or “Go the F*ck to Sleep,” but I knew my book was in conversation with those books, so I found a way to work them in. In addition, I included titles published by Familius to show that my book would be a good fit for them. When you’re writing to an agent and not directly to a publisher, it’s much harder to find books they’ve worked on. I would not even try to look this up, but rather just use any relevant book that has been published in the last few years. 
  • “The cook” is your bio. Keep this very short and sweet. If you have relevant expertise, include it—for example, if you teach kids how to sail, and your book is about a sailboat, or you’re a shark researcher writing about sharks, definitely say so. 

Note: for novels and memoirs, you’ll hear that you should not give away the ending in the query letter. For a picture book, I would 100% give away the ending. Reading a longer book is an immersive experience and you might need the suspense to keep agents turning the page. Yes, some picture books rely on suspense, too, but the agent/editor is going to see the ending in about two minutes once they skim your manuscript, so you might as well get them surprised/chuckling about the ending in the query.

After your query, unless the submission guidelines say otherwise, I would recommend pasting your book below your query and attaching it. Say so in your email, and include the courtesy line “This is a simultaneous submission” if you’re writing to more than one agent or publisher. If you’re writing to agents, you can add something like “I would be happy to send along other picture books if you’re interested,” as agents generally like to see multiple picture books before signing a new client.

Picture Book Query Letter Example

Below is my successful query for “Everyone’s Sleepy but the Baby” (affiliate link). 

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I Wrote a Picture Book. Now What? 

One of the best parts of my work as a picture book author and freelance editor is talking to people who have written their own picture books. I love hearing their ideas and guiding them along the process of figuring out what to do next with their books. 

Keyboard


I recently found myself wishing for a centralized place for the resources and advice I most commonly share. When I first started working with picture books, I had to piece together all of this by myself, and a blog post like this would have been super helpful. (Want a more thorough guide? Check out my on-demand class on writing picture books for beginners on Thinkific and Skillshare.)


So, here we go! 

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12 of the Best Halloween Books for Kids

Woohoo, it’s spooky season! Here are some great reads to get your kiddos in the Halloween spirit. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to find these books used for cheap enough to hand out as extra special treats on Halloween!

Of course, I’ve got to include my own book, “Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat,” on this list, but I thought I’d compile some other favorites, too. Thanks so much to my Twitter friends for recommending some books to include by diverse authors. I found some new favorites to mix in with this list of both new and classic Halloween books for kids.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of great Halloween books for kids. I would love for readers (and authors and illustrators) to comment with their favorites to grow the list!

For ease, I’ve included Amazon affiliate links, but you can order online from most local bookstores if they don’t have these in stock. All Amazon links here are affiliate links.

Not Too Scary: For The Littlest Kids and Up

Approved by my easily-spooked four-year-old!

“Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat” by Tracy C. Gold (me!), illustrated by Nancy Leschnikoff

Obviously, I had to include my own picture book here! Critter-loving kiddos love reading about this adorable bat and all of the yummy bugs it eats (Nancy Leschnikoff’s illustrations are fabulous, in my biased opinion). Mix in some science with your Halloween fun!

If Your Babysitter is A Bruja,” by Ana Siqueira and illustrated by Irena Freitas

Does your child love Halloween…but hate babysitters? Introduce them to the not-so-scary idea of having a babysitter come over with this adorable Halloween tale. Plus, it comes in a Spanish edition, too (“Cuando tu niñera es una bruja”).

If You Ever Meet a Skeleton,” by Rebecca Evans and illustrated by Katrin Dreiling

You’ve never met a cuter skeleton…or a better book about what to do when you’re feeling a little shy or scared. This one is a must for kiddos who love a stinky feet joke!

“Stumpkin,” written and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Will this stemless pumpkin be able to live his dream of becoming a Jack O’ Lantern? Read and find out! The illustrations are stunningly simple in favorite Halloween colors.

“Mother Ghost,” by Rachel Kolar and illustrated by Roland Garrigue

A spooky twist on many favorite nursery rhymes! This book is so creative; it’s like multiple books in one. Younger kids will enjoy it on its own merit while older kids and adults will get an extra layer of appreciation by reading it in conversation with traditional nursery rhymes. You can even ask your kids what kind of twist they would like to put on a nursery rhyme!

“The Monstore,” written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by James Burks

My kid loves this one year-round! She’s an only child and still loves this, but it’s extra special for squabbling siblings who perhaps could be spooked into getting along.

“Spooky Pookie,” written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton

This tiny board book is perfect for the youngest trick-or-treaters (or for a short bedtime read for older children). So cute and fun!

Read more: 12 of the Best Halloween Books for Kids

“Room on the Broom,” written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

This one has a classic feel, though it was only published in 2001 (so that makes me feel a bit old!). Fly through the sky with a very accommodating witch!

“How to Catch a Monster” by Adam Wallace and illustrated by Andy Elkerton

If your kid likes fart jokes, you’re probably going to want to get this one. Pee-ew! A great read for any child who is scared of the “monster under the bed” or in the closet or wherever, no matter what time of year it is!

“Ghosts in the House,” written and illustrated by Kazuno Kohara

The illustrations in this one are so fun and bright. Younger children will enjoy the simple and high-contrast illustrations, while older children will get an extra level of enjoyment from getting the concept of ghosts turning into white sheets!

Slightly Spooky

My four-year-old partly loved these…and partly was scared by them. “Too scary!” So, read at your own risk!

“Boo Stew,” by Donna L. Washington and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler

What a root-tooting-hoot this one is! Chef Curly Locks can’t find anyone to eat her creepy cooking creations. The town can’t find anyone brave enough to get rid of their terrifying Scares. Ah ha! When Curly Locks comes into town, she finds the Scares love her cooking, and follow her away from the townspeople to cook and eat happily ever after. A great read aloud. This one run’s on the long side; great for story times but maybe a bit too long and spooky for bedtime (especially for younger children).

“Los Gatos Black on Halloween” by Marisa Montes and illustrated by Yuyi Morales

What a twist, what a turn…all the scary monsters are actually terrified of…human children! Rhyme your way through many monsters (and a peppering of Spanish vocabulary) with this fun read.

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“Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat” is Officially Published!

I am so excited that this spooky Halloween book is officially published today! “Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat” is a fun, informative picture book geared toward kids from ages 4-8.

"Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat": Halloween book by Tracy C. Gold

This book started when my literary agent, Carrie Pestritto, mentioned that publishers were looking for Halloween books. While brainstorming, I remembered seeing a million bats flying out from Congress Bridge in Austin, TX in a huge wave at sunset, setting out in pursuit of bugs. Boom, “Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat” was born! I did some revising at an “unworkshop” at the Highlights Foundation retreat center, worked on it with Carrie and with my critique partner Tamara Girardi, and we sent it out to publishers!

Thanks to Carrie’s submitting skills, the book found its home with Kelly Barrales-Saylor at Sourcebooks eXplore right as Covid was shutting the world down in March 2020. Sourcebooks found amazing illustrator Nancy Leschnikoff, who created adorable purple and pink bats without even knowing purple was my favorite color!

I got some extra bat fact checking from my friend and bat expert Liz Mering, and worked with the Sourcebooks team to create what I think is a pretty darn cute book!

I’m so excited for this book to start soaring into homes. Look out for lots of fun events and giveaways coming your way in September/October!

In the meantime, here are a few places where you can buy the book, though any bookstore should be able to order it:

The Ivy Bookshop: 5928 Falls Road, Baltimore, MD: order at this direct link for pickup or delivery

Amazon (affiliate link)

Bookshop

Walmart

Barnes & Noble

Target

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