carolyntaraoneil.com
@CarolynTara

AGENT
Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Literary Agency

WRITES
YA Historical Fiction

BOOKS
DAUGHTERS OF A DEAD EMPIRE (September, 2021) Roaring Brook Press

BIO
Carolyn Tara O’Neil grew up in a tiny New York City apartment filled with thousands of books. Every Friday she went to the public library for even more reading material. She now lives in a slightly smaller NYC apartment with slightly fewer books, and still goes to the library every week.

In between then and now, Carolyn has lived in France, Spain, and Japan, and has dedicated her career to the education and rights of young people. She loves to travel, study languages, and spend endless hours discussing TV, books, great hiking trails, and how we can work together to build a more equal society.

PUBLISHING BACKGROUND
I first queried in 2017 with very little success. I’ve been writing my entire life, but that was the year I grew serious about getting published. I dove into articles, blog posts, books, and chat forums looking to shape a winning query + opening. But all my attempts fell flat. No bites.

Luckily for me, that was when I got into Author Mentor Match. Revising my manuscript with my mentor and collaborating with my new network of fellow mentees, I became truly ready to query. A year after my first attempt, I queried again. This time I found my wonderful agent Andrea Somberg, and ultimately sold my book.

Writing really does take a village, more than I realized as a solitary, aspiring writer. AMM brought me into a community of fellow writers I’ve learned tons from, and introduced me to my mentor who continues to be an inspiration and voice of support for me. I’d love to pay forward everything that AMM brought me.

EXPERIENCE
Writing is my lifelong passion, and I love editing and revision. Through multiple writing groups, I’ve had the chance to give feedback on books that are now either agented or published. I’ve developed a sharp eye for plot structure, theme, and character development. I give honest feedback both on what works and what doesn’t in a manuscript, and in queries. Sometimes I find myself quoting QueryShark without even realizing it….

I am currently part of a wonderful critique group of YA novelists. Our members are at all different stages of our careers — published, agented, querying, drafting — with a few members working at agencies or publishers. I have learned so much from my “YA Hype” crew. And as an erstwhile English major and English teacher, I love reading and analyzing others’ work!

OVERVIEW

The greatest thing my AMM mentor did was believe in me. I want to repay the confidence and growth she helped me achieve by paying it forward to another aspiring author. I’m eager to find a writer whose voice I love, whose story excites me, and who I can provide value to with editing and exposure to the industry. So much has surprised me during the publishing process. I’d like to help fellow writers navigate this complex field.

I was a mentee in AMM Round 3 and it changed how I think about writing. It made me realize what a communal exercise writing is. I now feel like I’m a part of a community of writers, and I’m excited for more mentees to join.

I’m also passionate about Young Adult literature as a force for positive change in young people’s lives — and in our society. Send me your stories that grapple with social justice issues, that explore how culture and setting impact the lives of your protagonist(s).

MENTORING GENRES

  • Contemporary
  • Sci-Fi
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Historical
  • #ownvoices

I enjoy stories in any genre that are set during war or dealing with issues around peace and conflict, social justice, activism, and issues we grapple with today explored in an interesting setting.

I love romantic subplots and happy endings. Howells got me in one when he said, “What the American public wants is a tragedy with a happy ending.” Open-ended/bittersweet/tragic-but-earned endings are also welcome.

SF: I love near-future sci-fi and dystopian fic (which we will NOT call dystopian when querying!), space opera, and anything dealing with AI.

HF: I enjoy accessible historical fiction and am interested in any time period or country! Though I do have a particular interest in Black American history.

Mystery/thriller: I come down much heavier on the mystery side of things. My mentee selection last year was contemporary mystery, so you know I’m a fan!

Contemporary: I’m only interested in contemporaries that either overlap with the above genres or grapple with social justice issues — a la Internment, The Voting Booth, Land of Permanent Goodbyes, etc. — and feature a brown/black/Asian MC.

I WILL PROVIDE:

  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Skype or phone call

WORKING STYLE
My editorial style is very thorough. I aim for encouraging but honest critique. I’ll provide an edit letter with detailed feedback on the highlights of the manuscript, and the aspects that didn’t work for me. Once my mentee has revised after our exchange, I’m happy to read again and share thoughts on the changes.

I consider face-to-face communications important for any relationship, but especially a mentoring one! So I expect at least one Skype call with my mentee, and I’ll always be ready to answer questions about my feedback or about the publishing industry.

IDEAL MENTEE
My ideal mentee has experience with beta readers, and has already done some revision based on feedback. I’d like to work with someone who is ready to accept constructive criticism and to level up their manuscript. I don’t expect them (or anyone) to take all my suggestions! But definitely to be open to them.

I also hope that mentees are eager to become a part of the AMM community, as there’s tons to enjoy and learn from here — and plenty of opportunities to give back.

SEND ME:
I’m a big genre fan! Send me your:

  • historical fiction
  • sci-fi (especially near-future, dystopian fiction, and space opera. I’m especially a sucker for anything involving AI)
  • thrillers (especially if wrapped up with any social justice themes, or set during conflict or in a unique setting)
  • mysteries
  • contemporaries if they’re about PoC

DO NOT SEND ME:
Horror, high fantasy, memoirs, any worlds that recreate oppression against women or PoC without commentary or purpose

FAVES
AUTHORS: Shamim Sarif, Brandy Colbert, Kristin Cashore, Justina Ireland, Brontes, Madeleine L’Engle, Sherri L. Smith, every dystopia and AI story in YA ever

TV: Battlestar Galactica, The 100, Community, The Americans, Veep, T:SCC