Branding for my writing

December 21, 2009

Missy Tippens over at the Seekerville had a post about a list of 10
points that are most important in her work that she always makes sure to include.

I thought this was a great idea for branding one’s work. When I
write/edit my story, I naturally have certain guiding principals that I
follow. But after reading Missy’s post, I’ve decided to write them
down.

1. I want to write stories that exalt Jesus.
HEART AND SEOUL was born out of my desire to capture how Jesus drew me to Him and made me fall in love with Him.

2. I want to write stories that reflect who I am: a follower of Jesus Christ, an Asian and an immigrant, a wife of Caucasian man from Kansas, a mother of a biracial child, etc.

The hero in HEART AND SEOUL is a biracial man working in Seoul.

I am well aware that the Christian romance market is not all that
interested in stories with international settings or non-white
characters. But this story reflects who I am. If I take these elements
out, the story wouldn’t ring true.

3. Opening with action (something unexpected happens)
One of my pet peeves when I’m reading a fiction is when a character
spends most of the beginning chapter reflecting on what happened in the past. I want the story to start right away!

Also when I’m reading, I expect something unexpected to happen in the first chapter. So I write my story that way, too.

4. Imperfect characters who are strong, who are more interested in doing something than having internal monologue.
I think this point reflects my personality. When life happens, I deal
with them by doing something about them. I rarely get paralyzed with
internal struggles or feel the need to talk on and one about them.

In fiction, I prefer fast paced stories. But everything that happens
has to contribute to the overall story. I’ve read books where things
are constantly happening, but they really didn’t have anything to do
with the overall story. Not good.

5. Quirky and unusual situations that allow readers to experience something new.
In real life, I don’t get to experience everything out there, nor do
I want to. One of the benefits of reading fiction is that I get a
glimpse of other people’s lives that is totally different from mine.

For example, in HEART AND SEOUL, I have a scene that takes place in a
booking club in Seoul. I have never been to a booking club, only read
about it. As far as I know, booking clubs are unique to Korea, and I had
fun throwing Melanie (the main character) in that situation and allow
readers to experience it through her.

I’ll write the rest of the points that are most important in my work
in another post. If you have your own list, please share.


My First Query

November 19, 2009

I’ve finally mustered enough courage to start querying literary agents. So I prayed, took a deep breath, and sent it to two agents who represent Christian fictions.

When researching the publishing business, I’ve heard so many of writers complain about the waiting and rejections. So I have stepped into that stage to join other writers to anxiously pace and wait for the judgement on my work.

I’ll post as I receive responses.

 


My Novel Journey So Far (part 3)

October 14, 2009

After I completed my second draft, I joined online critique groups. I learned some. Judge comments from writing contests also offered lessons. 

Then I joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and signed up for one of their critique groups. The ladies in my critique group are awesome and help me to grow. One day, I would love to see all of us have our stories published. Having a support group makes an impossible dream seem possible.

So what did I learn during my writing journey so far?

● There is so much to learn about the craft of writing.

● When I started writing my story down, I never thought I could finish. I learned that I could write a novel length.

● Learning to write is a process. Whenever I had a light-bulb moment, I asked why didn’t I see that before? Because I wasn’t able to “get it” until I was ready, no matter I much I tried to cram.

● The internet offers a lot of information for those who are willing to learn.

I don’t know if God plans for me to be a published writer. Regardless, I’ve had so much fun throughout my journey to write a novel and I thank Him for giving me this joy.


My Novel Journey So Far (part 2)

October 7, 2009

So I began and completed the first draft of my novel.

Afraid my family and friends would laugh at me, I didn’t tell anyone, not even my husband, about the novel I was writing. Though usually not observant, my husband did get a little suspicious of me spending so much time on my computer.

By then, I was finished with my first draft and began to edit. I finally told him and asked him to read the first chapter. My husband, who is a newspaper journalist, stopped reading in the middle of the first chapter. His critique: Too many boring, technical details that no one other than computer professionals could understand and no hook to interest non-computer geeks like him.

His critique opened my eyes to writing for someone else to read, instead of just writing for God and myself. It was also a kick in the pants I needed as I began to edit my work.

I searched the internet on how-to-write articles. I read everything I could find on writing a novel. Then I re-wrote my story. By the time I finished my second draft in 2007, I felt like a writer with some knowledge of what I was doing. I fixed my overall story structure (meaning I cut out the boring parts), I implemented Swain’s Scenes and Sequels (meaning I added more conflicts), although I didn’t execute them sharply. I still had a lot to learn.


My Novel Journey So Far (part 1)

October 7, 2009

In 2000, I wrote in my prayer journal, asking God if I was supposed to write a book. I felt he wanted me to, but I wasn’t sure. There are several times in my Christian walk that I was uncertain if something was really from God or not. In those instances, I just waited until I felt certain of His direction.

Writing in my prayer journal for only God to see was one thing. I didn’t think I could write a book. I never dreamed of being a writer. Never wrote until I started writing for God in my prayer journal. For my joy. For His joy. And since English is my second language, I didn’t think God meant for me to write for others to read. There are better writers He could use instead of me.

So I asked for more clear confirmation, but I didn’t expect it. I went on with my life, working my job, raising my son, studying the Bible, and writing only for Him in my journal. I forgot about that prayer.

Late 2006, a story began forming in my head, and it wouldn’t go away.  The characters and events consumed me, and I had to let them out. I began typing away in my spare time, and if I was away from my computer, I wrote long hand until the story ended 80,000 words later.