Tracy C. Gold

AUTHOR, EDITOR, TEACHER

2016 Pitch Wars Potential Mentee Bio

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!

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New Story Published in Youth Imagination

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

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.”

 

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New Writing: Check Out My 50-Word Story

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!

 

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Missed My Web Writing and Editing Workshop?

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.

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Come to My Web Writing and Editing Workshop

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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A Big Move, and What’s Next for Me

Yesterday was my last day of working full time for Right Source Marketing. No, I don’t have another job lined up.

And I’m not looking for one.

Instead, I’m taking action on every “live each day like it’s your last” cliché. I’m pursuing my dream of writing, editing, and teaching fiction and poetry.

For the foreseeable future, I’ll be:

  • Writing an adventure novel, first draft to be completed by Labor Day.
  • Contracting as a marketer, writer, and editor.
  • Updating this blog with the same quality of marketing and writing advice you saw from me on Marketing Trenches, with some personal stories and creative tips thrown in.
  • Speaking about social media networking and marketing, from a corporate and personal standpoint.
  • Volunteering for a few non-profits and reviving my commitment to community service.
  • Designing a lifestyle that focuses on working smart, not working hard.
  • Reading books that enrich and amaze me.
  • Marching to my own beat, running, biking, riding horses, and traveling the world.

Deciding to take this leap was both terrifying and exciting. Right Source does great work, I learned a ton as an employee there, and I will be sad to lose the day-to-day support of a wonderful team. Yet, at least for now, this is the right choice. I know that a traditional career in the business world is not for me.

Have a book to recommend? A marketing, writing, or editing project you need a creative, strategic contractor for? Interested in social media training for your employees? Simply want to get in touch? Shoot me a note at tracyc@tracycgold.com, and don’t be surprised if I suggest we go for a hike or bike ride instead of a coffee!

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What Makes a Good Blog Post: 10 Tips for Corporate Bloggers

The following post was initially published on the Content Marketing Institute Blog (October 11, 2011) and Marketing Trenches (November 2011).

Uh oh,” you may be thinking. “The marketing department is talking about that whole blogging thing again. Last time we did this, it was a disaster. Worse, no one seemed to like my posts.”

Yikes! Stop right there! And think again!

Yes, a lot of corporate blogs are awful. But neither your company’s blog nor the posts you contribute to should bear a sense of impending doom. We spend a lot of time helping clients manage their blogs. This involves bringing together subject matter experts, sales reps, marketing employees, and executives — many of whom have unique ideas but have never written a blog post.

One of the first questions we get from new bloggers is, “What makes a good blog post?“  As we answer, the doom drifts out of the room and is replaced by the glowing light of nurturing leads and increasing sales. Cha-ching!

We thought we’d share our answer with our readers here. 

1. Good blog posts speak to a target audience.

Figure out who is buying what you’re selling and write for them. If your company specializes in building mobile applications, you’re likely selling to executives and marketing departments, not mobile app developers. Your own developers can still write content for your blog, but they should keep content way less technical than it would be if they were writing to their peers.

 

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Questions to Ask Before Creating Content for a New Company

This post originally appeared on Marketing Trenches.

Creating content for a company’s social media properties, website, and blog (just to start the list) can be tough–and without a thorough understanding of the company and its audience, it’s hard to get it right. Whether you’re taking on a new client or starting a new job, you need to ask a lot of questions before you dive into creating content. Every business is different, so at Right Source Marketing, we never ask exactly the same questions for each new client, but below are a few of our staples.

Note: even if you’ve been working for a company or with a client for a while, you may realize that you don’t know the answers to these questions, or that the answers have changed since you started. It’s a good idea to reevaluate and periodically ask these questions again, even if you’re just asking yourself.

1. What’s your audience like? Who are these people who buy your stuff? What age, what gender?  Where do they work? Where do they play? What’s important to them personally and professionally? What do they already love about your business? What do they hate about it?

Keep asking questions to get as full a picture of your audience as possible. If no one can answer this question, then you need to do some research (like a survey), or bring someone who would know in the room (like a salesperson).  Knowing details about what makes your audience tick helps you figure out what topics to cover and language to use. We start with this question because all of the other questions and answers should be colored by a focus on audience.

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How Writing Better Emails Makes You a Better Content Marketer

This post originally appeared on Marketing Trenches.

Improving your skills in email communications improves your content marketing efforts, and vice versa, as an audience member (nonprofit technology consultant Kate Bladow) pointed out after a presentation I gave about writing for the web last week.

I couldn’t agree more. To follow on Kate’s point, here are five best practices to think about when you’re communicating with an audience, whether you’re organizing a team or writing for the company blog.

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