This is an updated version of a post that originally appeared in the December 2019 edition of my newsletter Readiculous Musings. You can subscribe for it HERE.
|The year has been a wild ride! My debut YA fantasy novel, Wicked Fox, came out in June of this year. I got to travel to promote the book and I was able to announce the title of the sequel, Vicious Spirits. Sometimes I feel like it just happened and sometimes I’m so shocked that it all happened this year! I’m so happy I got to celebrate the launch of my book with amazing family, friends, and readers!|
|Debuting is very exciting but it’s also a lot of hard work. They say that writing is a second full-time job, but I would also argue that promo for your book is a third full-time job! Writing a book is hard. It involves so much time, creative energy, and emotional energy. But doing promo for your book is a different kind of hard. It’s pretty much saying to the world, “I’m good enough and talented enough for you to spend money on my work!” And, I gotta say it was very difficult for me to do that in an authentic and organic way.
Perhaps it’s because I was raised in a very Korean style where we were supposed to be great, but never overtly talk about how great we were. (I guess it’s the lifestyle version of “show don’t tell” lol). So, to talk about my book in a way that could entice people to buy it meant that I had to gush about a story I had written. It went against everything I was taught as a kid.
Still, I was very proud of what I’d accomplished. And I wanted to shout about it from the rooftops. And, in that came the anxiety that has forever been a part of me. I’d talk excitedly about Wicked Fox and then immediately feel paranoid that I was being too excited, too loud, too much. And I’d spiral quietly in my own head.
But, this is all where my friends and community came in. I have said anywhere they’ll let me that I feel so lucky that I had good friends and support before I got my book deal. I am so grateful for all of my critique partners (hey, Writer Cult!) many of whom are at a similar stage as me. As well as an amazing best friend (shout out Claribel A. Ortega, everyone go buy Ghost Squad!). And, finally, I truly trust my agent and editor to do the best thing for me, my book, and my career. I know I’m in good hands.
I was so lucky that I got to travel a bit to promote my book this year and often, I was with someone that I truly considered a friend! It made the act of talking up my book in unfamiliar places feel a lot safer because I could look over and see a friendly face!
|There is also the fact that there will be things you truly want that you won’t get. It’s hard to discuss because we don’t want to seem ungrateful for literally being able to live out the dream of publishing a book. So few people get to do this, and it’s such an amazing gift that I can write stories and know other people can read it. But, I like to be transparent and honest, and I know some people who subscribe to this newsletters are writers as well. What I do when there is something I really want but don’t get (or don’t think I’ll get) is use my list making skills and I make a list of all the good things that I do have to give myself perspective. It’s also good to be part of communities so you can see what others are discussing, what other people are struggling with. Because when you want something that you don’t have, then it’s good to remember that you might have something that someone else wants as well.
And in that vein, there will potentially come a time that you get something that’s a total surprise. For me, I truly never thought I would sell foreign rights or be chosen for a book box. Those things are such amazing bonuses for any writer. So, when I was told by my editor or agent that those things were happening it took me a bit to actually accept it was happening. Even as I was reading the words in black and white in my email, I kept looking for the caveat (like “you sold Spanish rights, but only if you howl at the full moon three months in a row and find the elusive midnight flower in the field of dreams!”). I was also so stunned that I was able to go to some book festivals like Texas Teen, NYCC, Miami Book Festival. AND, I was floored that I got to go to Switzerland and meet international readers!
|It’s been a whirlwind of a year! And I still can’t believe all of the things I’ve done already as an author. I know that there are so many more amazing things to come and I’m looking forward to telling more stories, meeting new friends, and talking to more readers! See you all in 2020!|
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Mar25, 2019 |
This post originally appeared in the February 2019 edition of my newsletter Readiculous Musings. You can subscribe for it HERE.
One thing I’ve always liked about how other authors do their newsletters is that they share their writing process! As a fan who is also a writer, this is always super interesting to me.
So I thought I’d share with you all how I plot my books. Here’s the thing. With every book it is significantly different. But I have one method that I’ll do no matter what I’m writing. I utilize Susan Dennard’s “Magical Cookies” method right away.
“Magical cookies are those scenes or snippets or relationships or feelings that make you want to write a story.”
Now, her post says that magical cookies are a way to help when you have writer’s block. But I use them when I’m first planning out my story. First, I’ll lay out the main plot points of the story: beginning/establishing status quo, inciting incident, MC’s decision to take action, rising action, middle climax, all is lost moment, rallying moment, conclusion. Then I will put in any instances or plot details that I know have to happen in order to complete the external and internal conflict arcs as well as character arcs. Then it’s magical cookie time. I place in any scene or moment or character detail that I KNOW I want to include in the book. These are scenes that I am writing “toward.” It’s kind of like a video game, where there are set points that you want to get to. Those moments where you explain to your mom that you’ll do the dishes once you get to X point. That’s how I feel about these scattered magical cookies. I am writing until I can get to one of those beautiful, chocolate chip covered moments. (I like chocolate chip cookies best, I’m a traditionalist).
What this achieves for me is shorter goals that I can get to instead of being overwhelmed by the idea of writing a WHOLE ENTIRE book. Instead, I just have to write until I get to the angsty almost kiss scene #1, or until I get to the epic battle scene.
So, if you find that you’re having a hard time outlining but you don’t want to full-on pants, then maybe create magical cookie bullet points for yourself so you can write to a shorter and more attainable goal each time you sit down.
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| TAGS:writing advice
Time for an end-of-the-year post where I talk about all the things that have happened this year and all the things I hope for the new year!
2018 has truly been a wild year for me! I got a book deal, I moved to NYC, I got a new job!
I was also lucky this year because I read and watched a lot of amazing things. So I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you all!
Favorites of 2018
Here is a list of my favorite reads (chosen from books I read this year, no necessarily all books that came out this year)
Favorite contemporary: THE SUN IS A STAR
I absolutely adored this unconventional formatting. I have to admit I was very worried about how this book would end because it was careening toward uncertainty and unhappiness, but it all came together in the end and I have to say I don’t think it could have ended any other way!
Favorite Fantasy: THE BELLES
Okay, to be fair, there were A LOT of books that could have fallen into this category, but I have to give it to The Belles. Part of it was because while this story had a lot of recognizable themes, it did not shy away from the hard observations about what our society (and often many fantasies) value when it comes to powerful, beautiful females. I loved that Camellia didn’t fit into an easy mold. She made me uncomfortable sometimes with her choices, but she never hid who she was. She was strong and driven. And at the end of the book she was someone I could respect.
Favorite Sequel: SMOKE IN THE SUN
There were a few sequels that came out this year that I enjoyed, but I gave this to Smoke in the Sun because I always enjoy a sequel that makes me see the characters in a new light and re-examine what I thought I knew from the previous book(s). This sequel definitely did that for me.
Favorite Re-read: TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE
I re-read this series when the movie came out. And I have to say it keeps so well! I adore all the characters and while I also LOVE the movie, the books are a classic in my heart. Also, the very natural Korean moments will always mean something to me because it was one of the first time I read them in a contemporary YA novel!
Here’s a list of my favorite movies this year:
All-Time Fave: CRAZY RICH ASIANS
I mean, this HAS to go to Crazy Rich Asians. This movie meant so much for Asians in media. It was beautiful and vibrant and had moments of unapologetic and unexplained Asian-ness. It didn’t try to cater too much to the western gaze, it just was. And it also touched on issues of Asians from Asia vs Asians from the diaspora and how we see ourselves and our place in the world so differently. This really hit home for me and I am left having to examine how I feel about this topic in a deeper way than I ever have before.
Favorite Romance: TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE
I love that TATBILB is unabashedly just a romance. It’s not trying to be an observation about being Asian or Asian American. It’s just a full on romance about a girl who also happens to be half-Korean. It is also so nostalgic about old movies that I loved growing up. It felt like a throwback to the heyday of John Hughes and 90s/00s teen romantic comedies that made me so excited for experiencing my first love. I am so excited they’re making the sequel to this movie and I will rewatch the first over and over until it comes out!
Favorite Drama: THE HATE U GIVE
I saw this movie twice and I cried both times. I might have cried MORE the second time because I noticed so many more details I didn’t see the first time. It’s a lot to take in because it handles police brutality and the death of a kid. But the movie (and the original book it was based on) handled the topic with such grace and depth. This is a repeat watch for sure!
Unexpected fave: ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
I did not know if I would like this sequel despite the fact that I was very entertained by the original. I know this might be weird of someone who loves fantasy and sci-fi, but I still can’t get over how they communicate with the ants. It just feels so weird! Anyway, this movie was great and it expanded on the events of the original film so well. It also ties well into INFINITY WAR really well and made me more excited for END GAME!
Best Action: BLACK PANTHER
Hands down, BEST Marvel movie ever. I know that there’s a lot of hype around Black Panther but that’s because it is deserved! I realize now that all of my favorite movies are ones where the villain is just as fleshed out as the hero. And they did that with Killmonger SO well. I mean it doesn’t hurt that everyone was beautiful in this movie. It also didn’t hurt that this is the first Marvel movie where all the women could arguably take on the men. So many dynamic and well developed female characters and I am here for it! Throw in amazing action scenes and a fantastic plot and this movie will probably be my favorite single superhero led Marvel movie for a long time!
Best adaptation/remake: LOVE, SIMON
Yes, yes, I know you’re pointing out that so many of the other movies I listed are adaptations, but I HAVE to include Love, Simon and I will put it here! It’s honesty such a sweet and wonderful story. It is also a really great adaptation of the original book. Every character was well cast and I really enjoyed the family dynamic as it played out on the screen. It felt so authentically high school to me, with all the insecurities and quiet moments that feel so important in the moment. I am crossing my fingers for a Leah on the Offbeat movie!
I wanted to do something I’ve seen other people do. I want to share a list of goals for 2019 (I’m hoping that having it written down will hold me accountable!) 2019 is going to be an interesting year as it will be my debut year! (OMG, I cannot believe WICKED FOX will be out in the world next year! Also, in case you didn’t know GUMIHO was retitled as WICKED FOX!)
- Finish book 2 in my WICKED FOX/GUMIHO duology
- Finish writing Middle Grade Work in Progress (WiP)
- Get my next Young Adult WiP in good shape
- Write more consistently (not necessarily every day, but enough that I feel like I am pushing my writing forward every week)
- Keep my eyes on my own paper and don’t compare myself and my journey to others!
- Enjoy all things big & small about debut year
- Become a Better Editor
- Continue developing diverse stories at my job and boost diverse creators
- Continue managing my anxiety so debut year doesn’t negatively affect it.
- Eat healthier
- Exercise more regularly
- Continue to develop positive relationships
- Show appreciation and gratitude to the friends and family who are there for me (both old and new!)
- Recognize when social situations/relationships are creating more negative than positives in my life and work on walking away
- Learn that I don’t have to say “yes” all the time
Thank you for coming along on my 2018 journey and I look forward to sharing 2019 (and my debut year) with you all!
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| TAGS:hope, reading, writing journey
Hi everyone! I wanted to write a post because I have a really fun announcement. My good friend, Claribel Ortega, has long been an up-and-coming voice in the publishing world. She started a podcast, Write or Die Podcast, this year to highlight the journeys of writers and their struggles to achieve their dream of being published authors.
Write or Die is a podcast that aims to share the real stories about what it takes to become an author – the gritty, infuriating, pull your hair out because it’s been years – stories of writers who didn’t give up despite it all, and are now living out their dream. It’s hosted by authors Claribel Ortega & Kat Cho and releases every Friday.
You’ve probably guessed the announcement by this blurb (and from the title of this post), but I’m going to say it anyway…
I am the new co-host of Write or Die Podcast! 🎉😍😱💯📚
I am so excited to get to spend time talking to inspirational authors with my best friend! Hope you guys can tune in and check it out. If you want some suggestions then here’s the episode that inspired us to try out this co-hosting thing, my interview: Ghostober Episode 3: Kat Cho & The Monthly Whale Fight
And here’s my first official episode as co-host (we get to interview the amazing Laura Sebastian, author of ASH PRINCESS): Episode 21: Laura Sebastian & The Great Publishing Bake Off
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| TAGS:podcast, writing advice, writing journey, writing tools
This post originally appeared in the September 2018 edition of my newsletter Readiculous Musings. You can subscribe for it HERE.
(I’m stealing and updating from an old post I wrote about finding my voice and my ownvoices stories)
This summer I had an awesome August full of things that give me such joy and hope as an Asian reader and creator! I grew up without seeing myself in mainstream media and I never knew how it affected my perception of myself until I went away to college and encountered large groups of peers that looked like me for the first time (I grew up in a predominantly white area). I realized how important it is for us to tell our stories and share our identity in our work. And that’s probably why I write stories based on my Korean culture and heritage.
That’s why I felt so lucky to see two major movies come out this summer based on Asian books by Asian authors. CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which is a wonderful romantic comedy with amazing sets and fantastic actors. I had to sit in the theater for a bit after the movie ended because I was so emotional that I couldn’t stop crying. They were happy tears, and part of it was because of what this movie symbolizes in terms of hope. I really wanted this movie to be amazing and when it was I just couldn’t hold in my emotions. I knew it would be a big success, I knew that people would see how much Asian creators had to offer. And that they would see that we deserved a seat at the table. I also LOVED how it presented a view into how Asian diaspora is very different than Asians living in Asia (something I struggle with every time I got back to Korea) and how there is diversity even within our communities. This movie gives hope to the idea that Hollywood will open its heart (and its wallet) to Asian led films (even ones that aren’t just issue driven).
And TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE also came out on Netflix. I won’t get too deep into what this book series meant to me as a Korean American reader (cause it would be a whole essay in itself). I will say that I cried when I read it for multiple reasons, one being that the characters and their family and their need to preserve their Korean identity felt so real to me. And I also just appreciated that it was a romantic comedy type story that didn’t make such a huge deal out of the interracial relationship. I adored the characters and how they just genuinely enjoy each other for who they are and not what culture they are. But it still had authentic respect for the diversity in the culture that was there.
When I wrote my first full book (at the age of thirteen), I made the main character half Korean, half white. I did this, because I both wanted a character that looked like me and I knew the character shouldn’t look completely like me.* Not based on the books I had read as a child. And to top it off, her Korean side was not acknowledged and played no part in developing her character. This was very telling. That at thirteen I couldn’t completely create a character that was Korean in any way except a random aside comment. This came both from the fact that all the stories and movies I consumed had white characters and actors, and the fact that I grew up in a predominantly white area of Central Florida.
Fast-forward a dozen years and I’m writing to actually publish. I wrote a space opera and I made the main characters (MC) white. However, this was just when We Need Diverse Books was gaining traction. It was inspiring and it made me really think about how I decided what story I wanted to tell. It made me stop and think, “Why did I make my main character not look like me?” The book was set in outer space. There were aliens with wolf-heads in my book. Why can’t my main characters be Korean? So I made my MC Korean. But I named him Eli. I did this because, even though I was trying to come around to the idea of embracing my identity within my writing, I still believed my culture in its entirety (e.g. Korean names) was not palatable for the current market.
That book didn’t gain me an agent. And I wonder if it’s because of my hesitation while writing that book. I didn’t put all of myself into that book both figuratively and literally. And I wonder if that made a difference.
The book that actually got me where I am now is my debut novel, GUMIHO, which is based on Korean mythology, set in Seoul, with fully Korean characters in all their complexities. And that’s the book everyone was excited about. That was the book that got me an agent. That’s the book I sold to my publisher.
It makes me deliriously happy that the book that’s my full self is the one that got me here. It’s almost like the universe waited until I could accept all of myself before it allowed me to take this momentous next step in my writing career.
Perhaps if I’d had books and movies like CRAZY RICH ASIANS and TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE, I wouldn’t have thought I needed to hide my Korean side when I first started writing. Perhaps if I’d had people who looked like me in pop culture and mainstream media I wouldn’t have allowed myself to be bullied into hiding what made me Korean (aka different) in school. But now–knowing that these things can make such a huge difference–I’m more driven than ever to provide some of those stories to kids who are growing up today. Asian kids who live in areas where their classmates don’t look like them. Korean girls whose moms pack them kimbap and who watch K-dramas and who want a variety of Asian characters to choose from when they pick a Halloween costume.
Also, any young writers reading this, don’t wait over ten years before you write yourself into your stories. Be proud of who you are and who you could be. Write it onto the page. Create stories that are full of your personal journey and your personal heritage. Trust me when I say that there are so many people that want to hear it and support it and champion it.
(*Please note that biracial and multiracial identities are very complex and important to understand as well. I don’t have the authority to speak on that experience, and 13yo Kat had no idea the unintentional assumptions/harm I was making by thinking biracial characters had it “easier” than full Korean. But I am definitely always learning and trying to grow as a person in this diverse world!)
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So, I am stealing an idea from my writer BFF, Claribel Ortega and posting some of my content a month after it appears in my newsletter. It won’t be everything, just stuff that I think might be interesting to people and probably anything that is a record of my journey in publishing! So here we go!
This post originally appeared in the July 2018 edition of my newsletter Readiculous Musings. You can subscribe for it HERE.
Things are pretty hard these days. And it’s a time where I’ve seen a lot of questions being asked in terms of being a writer, especially if our stories are more the fanciful, escapist kind (mine definitely are). Is it okay to talk about your books and to promote them when things in the world seem to be so dire for so many?
The answers that I see are varied. And I will admit that perhaps the conversations I’m privy to are cherry picked because of who I choose to follow on social media. But my take-away is that we should not only keep creating and talking about our stories, but that they are needed now more than ever. I am, of course, speaking from the point of view of a woman of color. So, I am a bit biased in the fact that I think stories by marginalized groups are really important in times when empathy is lacking in the leadership of my country.
After the depressing ruling by the SCOTUS about the travel ban, I tweeted something that isn’t new. In fact, I will readily admit that I’d seen this message tweeted multiple times in response to mutliple bigoted actions of the current administration: Studies prove that reading fiction fosters empathy in readers.
My interpretation of this is that people who read and read widely are more likely to understand their neighbor’s better. Less likely to be afraid because something is “unknown.” More likely to be open-minded to hearing the stories of others and to reach out a helping hand. And when we write for kids and teens, it’s important now more than ever to create stories that can create and foster empathy.
It’s okay if people have found it hard to keep writing in today’s climate. But if you can, and if you want to, then don’t let a sense of guilt keep you from creating your art. Throughout history art has been the best and brightest tool of battling oppression. So many have created new forms of art in order to preserve their culture and humanity when others would seek to strip it from them. And now is no different. We have a right to tell our stories. And, hopefully, these stories can help bring a bit of light into the world.
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So, I was inspired by my own revisions to write out a quick post based on my methods and path toward shiny happy manuscript town. To be honest, I still live in revision land which I describe as a a town sitting on a giant cliff (good for screaming into the void), a cave of despair, and a fountain of wine.
So, without further ado, my main revision steps:
‣ “mulling” period/Absorb the critique – I usually take 1-3 days to just mull over the notes. (This time frame changes with when my deadline is but I always take at least 24 hours)
• DO NOT automatically reject any critique/note. Allow them all to sit through the “mulling” period.
‣ Organize the feedback into themes or topics (e.g. Pacing, Character arc of MC, Character arc of antagonist, world-building, inciting incident, climax, etc)
• If I have feedback from more than one person I like to combine all of the notes and organize them according to section, theme, or topic.
‣ Brainstorm solutions and ideas
• If I have an idea before my “mulling” period is over I will still write them down, but I don’t pressure myself to start this process until I’ve absorbed everything.
• This is when you can decide which notes are the most effective for your story and which don’t go with the themes or tone you’re going for. Be open minded. The whole time as it’s easy to think that something doesn’t “go with the story” when really it’s just a hard problem to solve and we long to throw it out
‣ Plan out which points I want to tackle first, second, third, and so on. So, for the last revision I did I wanted to work on adjusting the inciting incident first because that would affect the entire rest of the story. Then I wanted to work on character arc because that was influenced by inciting incident and was important because it spoke to the main relationship. THEN I did line-edits and addressed pacing issues.
‣ Optional: Create a schedule if you have a set deadline. Make sure to build in a bit of a buffer at the end just in case you go slower than you anticipated.
• Do NOT feel bad for days that you do not work on the revision. That’s why we built in that buffer!
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You guys, I’m going to be published!
Okay, it’s been a MINUTE since I posted and I’m so sorry about that, but it’s for a GOOD reason. I was busy figuring out my new life in NYC and selling my debut novel, GUMIHO! It will be published with Putnam Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House. You can add it on Goodreads HERE. I promise I’ll write more about my journey and other details soon, but I just wanted to share this exciting news with you!!!
🎉🎉🎉📚SO RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED to share my news with y’all! My #ownvoices #YA #fantasy debut novel #GUMIHO is going to be published with Putnam (@PenguinTeen)! I cannot wait for you all to meet Miyoung & Jihoon and all the K-drama angst! 🦊🇰🇷❤️👺
Hi everyone! Just wanted to check in and let you know what’s going on in my life and why I haven’t been uploading as much lately. The biggest thing is that I got a book deal! If you’re interested I have a link to my Goodreads page below!
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| TAGS:gumiho, wicked fox
Hello strangers, remember me? I’m the person that’s supposed to keep this blog updated, even though I haven’t posted in MONTHS. I apologize for my LONG absence, but to be fair you can still find me pretty regularly over at Writer’s Block Party! And I have been much better at keeping up my new(ish) Authortube/Booktube vlog over at YouTube.
STILL, this blog was my first love and I’ve been horrible at keeping it updated. Partly because I did want to try out those other formats of connecting with everyone (vlogging is fun but time consuming, y’all!)
Also, because my writing has…not been going well. So, I thought I might talk about fallow periods and the search for motivation and inspiration when you’re a writer or a creator.
According to Cambridge dictionary “fallow” means: Fallow land is not planted with crops, in order to improve the quality of the soil A fallow period of time is one in which very little happens.
But Mirriam-Webster has a girl’s back because this is the first thing that pops up in their definition:
Way to both support and subtweet me Mirriam-Webster!
ANYWAY! You get the gist. It’s a period of time where a writer is not writing. There should be a sub-definition that says “a period of time where a writer questions all their life choices and regrets everything.”
The idea of a fallow period for writers is not new. However, if you look at the origin of the word it’s a time when fields don’t produce crops, but it’s ALSO a time when the fields are regenerating nutrients to be able to grow crops again! This definitely changed my view on the time periods when I couldn’t write and how I would treat them. This idea was first presented to me when a CP sent me this post.
So, instead of just seeing periods of time where I’m not creating as a negative, I see it as a chance to rejuvinate my creative well and to refresh my mind. I try to read all the books I couldn’t concentrate on when I was actively writing or revising. I use it to watch all the shows I’d been missing out on. And I pursue other creative endeavors because I know that when I’m actively writing I can’t do many other creative things at the same time. So, right now that’s being more active on my Instagram
And on my youtube channel!
Still, the idea of most of the things I’m doing is to work toward being able to write again. So I try to find inspiration and motivation in everything I do. I keep journals and lists of ideas as they come to me. And I try to let myself write if I want to, but I don’t set any deadlines and let it just flow naturally. This way, I find that most of the things I end up writing during my fallow periods is very personal and it helps to bring my stories closer to my heart.
What do you guys do during your fallow periods? How do you refill your creative wells?
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| TAGS:hope, random thoughts, writing advice, writing journey
Hey guys, I am so excited to share the first ever podcast interview I’ve ever done! It was with 88 Cups of Tea one of my ABSOLUTE FAVES! And I am still pinching myself because I can’t believe I had this amazing experience. It was for their celebratory 88th episode (congratulations Yin and Moonlyn!) and I was one of the lucky listeners picked to interview. Previous episodes of 88 Cups of Tea included interviews with greats like Leigh Bardugo, Jenny Han, Alexandra Bracken, Renee Ahdieh, and V.E. Schwab! So I am so star-struck by this podcast and Yin (the amazing host!)
I’d say definitely check out all the episodes and listen to all 8 amazing listener interviews on this super fun episode (I’m around the 1:37:40 point)
Ya’ll. The 88th episode has arrived. Dun dun DUN! Today’s milestone episode is proudly sponsored by Sun Basket and BookCon. It features eight incredible listeners from our 88 Cups of Tea community. I remember when I first launched this podcast, the 88th episode seemed so far fetched.
And visit their website for the show notes and their archive of all the episodes: HERE