Kat Cho

Writing

How I Plot my books

Mar

25, 2019 |

Filed in:

Writing

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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2018 Wrap Up + 2019 Resolutions

Dec

28, 2018 |

Filed in:

Author Life,reading,Writing

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!

2019 Resolutions!

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!)

Writing/Professional Life

  1. Finish book 2 in my WICKED FOX/GUMIHO duology
  2. Finish writing Middle Grade Work in Progress (WiP)
  3. Get my next Young Adult WiP in good shape
  4. Write more consistently (not necessarily every day, but enough that I feel like I am pushing my writing forward every week)
  5. Keep my eyes on my own paper and don’t compare myself and my journey to others!
  6. Enjoy all things big & small about debut year
  7. Become a Better Editor
  8. Continue developing diverse stories at my job and boost diverse creators

Personal Life

  1. Continue managing my anxiety so debut year doesn’t negatively affect it.
  2. Eat healthier
  3. Exercise more regularly
  4. Continue to develop positive relationships
  5. Show appreciation and gratitude to the friends and family who are there for me (both old and new!)
  6. Recognize when social situations/relationships are creating more negative than positives in my life and work on walking away
  7. 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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New Co-Host on Write or Die (WorD) Podcast!

Nov

16, 2018 |

Filed in:

Author Life,community,Writing

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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Creating art during times of turmoil

Jul

31, 2018 |

Filed in:

Author Life,community,Writing

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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Tips on tackling a big Revision

Jul

27, 2018 |

Filed in:

Author Life,Writing

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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I’M GOING TO BE PUBLISHED!

Feb

24, 2018 |

Filed in:

Author Life,Writing

 

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!!!

Kat Cho on Twitter

🎉🎉🎉📚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! 🦊🇰🇷❤️👺

 

Book Deal & Life Update | Authortube

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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My Fallow Periods

Dec

11, 2017 |

Filed in:

community,Writing

I’m back!

tenor.gif

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:

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 1.09.48 PM.png

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

Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 5.28.11 PM.png

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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My Podcast Debut! (88 Cups of Tea)

May

25, 2017 |

Filed in:

Author Life,Miscellaneous,reading,Writing

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)

88TH EPISODE: Special Edition Featuring 8 of Our Listeners by 88cupsoftea

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

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The Diversity Conversation pt2: Resources and Links

Mar

24, 2017 |

Filed in:

community,reading,Writing

The Real Reason We Need Diverse Books

Eight kids show Matt de la Pena the the real reason We Need Diverse Books. *mic drop* Visit our Indiegogo campaign to support our mission: http://igg.me/at/diversebooks TRANSCRIPT: Matt de la Peña: So, hey guys. I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions about books. I’m an author, right.

Since there was more interest in my Diversity Conversation post than I expected (and because I do not consider myself an expert on this topic), I thought it might be helpful to provide a more comprehensive list of outside resources. I’ve compiled links to resources for anyone who would like to further their personal education on diversity and the diversity conversation!

I will be updating this with more links as they come to my attention.

***My request to you if you’ve come here to learn more about the diversity conversation in kidlit (especially if you are not part of one, many, or any of these marginalized communities). Please keep an open mind and be ready to be wrong. It’s important to overcome any internal biases that might have been picked up along your life (whether consciously or subconsciously). One of the reasons systemic racism and harmful stereotypes have permeated our world is because we can’t overcome these internal biases because we don’t see how insidious they can really be.***

Also, if you’re here, it’s probably because you want to learn. The BEST way to do that is to follow all the people who wrote these resources in the first place. And to support the authors who are creating diverse content. Buy their books! (Link to my diverse Goodreads books list: HERE)

Basics/Textbook definitions:

systemic/institutional racism

systemic misogyny

internalized sexism,

systemic ableism

how cis/het/straight is presented as the “norm” in our society.

defacto treatment of marginalized

microaggressions that happen daily

Here are resources to learn from about diversity in kidlit:

We Need Diverse Books

Writing in the Margins

American Indians in Children’s Literature

Disability in kidlit

Gay YA

Reading While White

Writing With Color

Minorities in Publishing

Diversity in YA

CBC Diversity

Rich in Color

Malinda Lo’s Guide to LGBT YA

Latinxs in Kidlit

Twitter list of Diverse writers

(it is in NO way comprehensive, but feel free to follow any and all of them!)

Diverse Writers

Okay let’s go more in-depth shall we?

Writing With Color provides Blogs – Recs – Resources

They also provide Writing With Color – Featured Research Guides

Some Marginalized Authors are nice enough to storify conversations and threads:

Violence Against Black Women in Publishing: The Harm Women of Color, Particularly Black Women, Face When Pushing For Diversity (compiled L.L. McKinney)

Justina Ireland on Worldbuilding & Appropriation (by Justina Ireland)

YA: “The Total Experience” Diversity in YA With Beth Revis, C.J. Omolulu, Lydia Kang & Malinda Lo. (compiled by Ava Jae)

How about some videos too?

(Preliminary) What Authors Are Saying About Why We Need Diverse Books

TRANSCRIPT: “We hate each other because we fear each other. And we fear each other because we do not know each other.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. What Authors Are Saying… John Green: Hi. My name’s John Green and we need diverse books.

What Authors Are Saying v2

Uploaded by We Need Diverse Books on 2015-12-03.

Diversity In Young Adult Literature | Leviosa 2016

Join Susan Dennard, Roshani Chokshi, Thao Le, Mark Oshiro, Axie Oh, Janella Angeles, and me (Lily Meade) for an awesome discussion in the Diversity in Young Adult Literature panel. Diversity in YA Fiction is so important to me. I had such a wonderful time. – ↔ open for more!

 

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Writer Mentor Programs: What are they & are they for me?

Mar

20, 2017 |

Filed in:

community,Writing

In honor of Author Mentor Match, I made ANOTHER vlog. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Kat, can you calm down on these vlogs?” And my answer is “NEVER!” Haha, Just kidding.

Anyway, I wanted to make a video about Mentorship Programs before AMM opens to applications in April. And I tapped into my friends and CPs to give you all some insight!

✍Writer Mentor Programs: What are they & are they for me?

I discuss what mentorship programs are in the writing world and if they might be right for you. Also, I’ m sorry I talk so fast here, there were so many things I wanted to say!

~Full Quotes Below!~

“I think for me mentorship is also a way of growing and tending to the community. The idea that now that I’m part of the community and I want to be involved in reaching out to others who maybe feel more outside of it and pulling them in with me is a huge part of it. it’s not really just about the writing.” – Katy Rose Pool

 

“The world of publishing can be overwhelming, and so much information can only be gleaned from being in the community for years and pushing through many of the steps it takes to get published. We’re all helped along the way by someone, receiving key advice or support from fellow authors/publishing professionals. Through mentorship, more experienced authors can pay it forward, helping someone newer to our world navigate it with more ease. Mentees are a part of our community, and I want them to feel more welcome, and initiate them into the fold.” – Alexa Donne

 

“It feels a bit strange for me to offer to mentor another writer, when I still feel like a clueless newbie myself. Five years into my “writing career,” I have just a smidgen of experience in publishing, and I’m happy to share what advice I can, because this can be a confusing and heart wrenching industry. But I think the writing community, especially the YA online community, is so great about creating opportunities to help each other learn and grow. And it’s important to me to try to give back to the community that helped me get to where I am now.” – Heather Kaczynski

“Mentoring has been one of the most rewarding things that I’m so proud, and feel so lucky, to do as a writer. Many times, authors say they write the books that the younger versions of themselves would loved to have read. On that same note with mentoring, I’ve always hoped for the chance to provide the support and motivation to other aspiring writers that I know would’ve helped the younger writer I once was, still lost and hardcore struggling on my journey to publication. It’s an amazing experience to give back that way, to be able to help someone find their way on the journey, and to editorially guide the mentee and their manuscript you already love into the best shape it can be. Best of all, in mentoring, you gain a great friend in the process—one who you’ll always be there for in whatever highs and lows comes their way, and one who will support you just as much on your own path.” – Janella Angeles

 

“Nobody makes it in the publishing world without A LOT of support. I’ve always been fortunate to have people willing to share expertise and willing to read projects that were, shall we say…less than great. I love doing anything I can do to pass on my knowledge. Mentoring is particularly great because you get to be like the fun aunt but also the stern parent! You get to pick a project you love and cheerlead it and fangirl when it succeeds. But you also get to lay down some of your hard-earned wisdom and beat up the manuscript you love for its own good. It’s also given me A WHOLE TON of renewed appreciation for how hard it is to write and revise a book!” – Mara Fitzgerald

“We’re Janice Ian and Damien from Mean Girls. Come sit with us and we will explain how all this chaos works.” – Mara Fitzgerald

“it like…sort of feels like being in a writer sorority…except your big does things like highlight entire paragraphs and go “this is technically good but i know you can make it better” – Christine Herman

“Having a mentor prepared me really well for having an agent — it taught me how to implement intense, detailed feedback, how to work under deadline, and how to truly get my book to the next level. but because I didn’t have to impose professional boundaries on my mentor, I also got a great friend out of it — & a CP I can shove my books at until the end of time.” – Christine Herman

“Mentoring is an excellent way to remind yourself that you have no idea how to write a novel.” – Amanda Foody

 

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