I have been participating in Julie Hedlund's 12 Days of Christmas for Writers. As she has us reflect on what we've accomplished in 2017, we also come up with focus words for 2018. I choose CREATE and BE BRAVE.
I would like to CREATE more new stories than I did last year. And one of the ways I'm doing so is also participating in Tara Lazar's Storystorm Challenge, coming up with 30 book ideas in this month of January.
I want to BE BRAVE this year with all the marketing and publicity I have to do for my books coming out in August. I'm rather a shy person, so to speak in front of adults and not children is intimidating for me. I also need to BE BRAVE and taking steps of faith in living for God.
A fun word generator to find your word of truth for 2018 is from Dayspring. Check here.
What are your forcus words for 2018?
I thought I'd post some "Christmasy" pictures from Seoul. Check out this massive new library in one of the malls. I don't know how people access those books. But the decorations are beautiful! I'm off for a three-week vacation from school. I've enjoyed reading for pleasure, playing piano, baking cookies, and revising stories.
May you and your family have a wonderful holiday season. I hope you know the greatest gift ever given to you is the gift of eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ. As they say--"Tis the reason for the season!" God sent His Son, baby Jesus, humbly to this earth to save people from their sins. If you'd like to know more, I'd love to share it with you. That would be the best Christmas gift you could give to yourself!
It's Thanksgiving weekend, and I've been up to my elbows with writing tasks. But yet I'm thankful for the blessings God has sent.
1. my wonderful agent, Adria: She keeps me on my toes, gives good advice and ideas.
2. my 3 online critique groups: Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. Each group has its own personality. I'm thankful for their sound advice and great ideas.
3. my editors/illustrators: I'm thankful for the editors/illustrators who are working on my books. Can't wait to hold the final products.
4. a supportive family: My husband has helped with the kids and household chores, my kids have been my little editors-in-training giving me their kid-feedback, okay, so now I have to bribe them! But still, I love them all.
5. the kidlit community: The online kidlit community, especially, has been a blessing to me since I'm overseas. I've learned so much over the years reading blogs, articles, Facebook posts, etc... I thrive from all of you.
6. family/friends/readers: You're my support and encouragement. Thank you for your prayers.
7. my heavenly Father: Thank you, dear God, for all the writing opportunities and people you've brought to my life.
If you want to find out what McDelivery has to do with being a focused writer, head over to the Grog Blog, where I share 10 tips that help me stay on task as a writer. Have a great writing week!
Short answer: Very.
Long answer: Keep reading :)
Last month my editor for my forthcoming picture book, Rice from Heaven, said she wanted us to create a subtitle just to make it clear what it's about. So the editor and her team suggested some, my agent suggested some, and then I reached out to a couple of my critique groups, and they suggested some. So I had about 10 titles to work with.
A subtitle, IMO, should be written concisely, and beautifully sum up the main idea of your book.
Here are some examples of recently published picture books with subtitles:
Vincent Can't Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky by Barb Rosenstock
Long May She Wave: The True Story of Caroline Pickersgill and Her Star-Spangled Creation by Kristen Fulton
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat
Kick! Jump! Chop!: The Adventures of the Ninjabread Man by Heather Ayris Burnell
La, La, La: A Story of Hope by Kate DiCamillo
Did you notice the first three were nonfiction picture books, and the last three were fiction picture books? So subtitles can be used for both.
Author Darcy Pattison has something interesting to say about subtitles here. Will the subtitle help teachers, parents, and librarians find your book in the database?
Lastly, this article has good points about the dos and don'ts of subtitles.
So--what is my subtitle? You'll have to wait for the cover reveal to find out!
My first picture book was announced in Publisher's Weekly twice, July 18-19. One of the hardest things for an author to do is to keep matters a secret! But now it's official!
I wrote this story last year May 2016 after helping North Korean refugees send rice in balloons over the border of South Korea into the communist country. As the book comes closer to being published, I'm sure I'll share more details. Writing tip: Never give up. Revise and revise some more. If you don't know how, learn.
But for now, here's a timeline of Rice from Heaven for those of you who like writing details.
May 2nd, 2016: helped with balloon rice mission
May 9th, 2016: wrote 1st draft at 818 words
Dec. 19, 2016: snagged agent with this story (different draft)
Jan/Feb. 2016: 1st round of 20 editors, 7 responded mostly they liked the story behind it, needed to improve writing (rejections), 1 took to acquisitions
End of Feb/ March/: Revised to be more lyrical--for more details on that, see this post
April 18: sent out 2nd round of submissions, 18 editors, 6 rejected, 3 interested
April 18, 2017: Sonali Fry emailed, interested, took to acquisitions
April 21, 2017: Sonali Fry made an offer
May 1, 2017: phone call with Sonali and Adria
May 2017: draft #17 of 473 words sold verbally to Sonali Fry at Little Bee
May 18, 2017: Began back matter assistance with Little Bee
June 1, 2017: received 1st draft of contract
June 24th, 2017: signed picture book contract for Rice from Heaven in California with my agent and found out who the illustrator will be
July 10, 2017: received signed contract back from Little Bee
July 18, 2017: announced in Publisher's Weekly
Hey, everyone! Today was my LAST day of school for the summer! After packing up my room, I'm exhausted. But I'm over at the Grog Blog today talking about my path to writing a lyrical picture book manuscript. Have a slice of virtual Baskin Robbins cake and join me.
I'm over at the Grog Blog today discussing Guided Reading Books. Hope to see you there! And I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend!
"He has risen!" Matthew 28:6
She announced there was a new agent at her agency, a children's agent who would specialize in the Christian market. My eyes took notice, and I started researching her. My stories weren't specifically for the Christian market, but they could be tweaked to lean that way. I queried Adria with two stories I felt she might like. The next day she said to send them over. About three weeks later, she emailed that she had read my stories that same day I emailed them and hadn't been able to stop thinking about them. And she asked for THE CALL! I was thrilled. So that weekend (working out time zones) we talked, and I printed out those lists of questions to ask an agent, and she offered representation. I signed the contract on December 5th, after first querying her on October 30th. To God be the glory!
It's been wonderful having Adria by my side, my advocate, cheerleader, and one to submit for me. If it wasn't for her, I think I would have given up on one of my stories. We've gotten good feedback from editors and are pushing my story to be the best it can be. I've learned that real, true, revising is HARD.
Adria will also help negotiate my Scholastic Asia contract for my novel coming out next summer 2018! I heard from my editor and have received a list of things to revise.
Meanwhile, my husband & I just finished proofreading a Korean/English pocket dictionary for a publisher. Who knew there was such a job? And because of my blogging about guided reading books, a publisher from Australia discovered my site and just commissioned me to write 22 books for them. I guess I might not have another blog post until summer. :P
Thanks for bearing with me! What have you all been up to?
I was just telling my son that tomorrow is the last day of 2016. Time flies! So much has happened and changed this year. These 12 days after Christmas I'm participating in a writing activity. See below.
Children's author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year's resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity - what DIDN'T get done or achieved in the previous year. Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2016.
Please note that all this is accomplished because God gave me strength! Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Not in any particular order:
1. Revised 9 picture book stories
2. Wrote 3 new picture book stories
3. My novel manuscript, Chasing Freedom:The Asian Underground Railroad won 1st Runner Up (2nd place) in the Scholastic Asian Book Award.
4. Attended my first writing conference in Singapore at the Asian Festival of Children's Content where I accepted the award in #3.
5. Met Leonard Marcus, pb historian and judge at the AFCC, met authors Emily Lim, Cynthea Liu, and Cynthia Leitich Smith whom I had known of online in kidlit circles
6. 2 stories accepted by Clubhouse Jr. magazine
7. Wrote a new teacher unit for my little store in Teachers Pay Teachers
8. wrote several book reviews for a Korean Christian children's magazine
9. Proofread a Korean/English textbook for publishers Tuttle and Pagoda Books
10. Wrote many blog posts for the Grog Blog
11. Commissioned to write educational material for Oxford University Press Asia (will start Feb. 2017)
12. Acquired a literary agent!! (more to come on this in another post)
I know Christmas is over, but I love the lyrics in this song Noel by Lauren Daigle. (the chorus) The chorus sums up how I feel about this year.
"Noel, noel. Come and see what God has done." And all this was done while I taught kindergarten in a new school & city.
To God be the Glory!
Tina M. Cho, children's author
I'm a children's author and freelance writer for the educational market. Welcome!