Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Writing for Children, Author Interview with Tina Cho

Your latest publication is a coloring book which was a “work for hire” can you explain to my readers how that works? How detailed were the instructions for writing it?
Work-for-hire projects mean that you're paid a one time flat fee for your work, unlike royalty payments where you are paid according to how many books sell. The publisher's web site gave some instructions like how many pages in their coloring book and topic examples.

Have you sent in text for other coloring books? Now that you have one done will you be doing others?
No, I haven't written any other coloring book manuscripts and hadn't thought of writing any more. I was just so surprised that this one was accepted after two years. Currently, I'm concentrating on the picture book market.

When did you first get involved with a writer’s group to get serious about writing for children? To what do you credit your ever expanding writing publications?
I joined Nancy I. Sander's CHAIRS writing group in September 2008 (which is how I met Chris) and shortly wrote this "God Is So Good" coloring manuscript. I credit my growing publications first to God who led me into writing and then to Nancy, a wonderful mentor, and last to all my writing critique group members.

What was your first paid writing credit? What suggestions do you have for others who want to start a writing career for children?
I still remember my first check of $50 from Downey Christian School, for acceptance of a story for their private reading program in 2008. My suggestions would be to fist join a critique group, join SCBWI (the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) because they can find a critique group for you in your area, READ books in the area that you want to write, and even join writing groups with the same goals as you. For example, I have been in a fun and lively group called 12x12 started by Julie Hedlund, in which we have the goal to write one picture book manuscript each month for 12 months. We encourage each other and share knowledge of the craft.  

You just completed PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). Can you tell my readers a little about how that works and what you learned from the process?  
I've done PiBoIdMo for 2 years now. Tara Lazar, author and former Olympic skater, started this idea of writing 30 picture book ideas in 30 days in the month of November. I joined because I needed a way to find more book ideas. Tara blessed us each day with a guest post of encouragement and strategies usually by an author or illustrator, editor, or agent. And both years I met my quota and even sold one of those ideas to Clubhouse Jr., a Christian magazine for kids. Writing book ideas in a new journal is exciting, and I still add to it when I'm inspired. 

You’ve got a new non-fiction book for girls from Legacy Press will be out this year. How did that book come about? Can you tell my readers a little about that?  
 I actually have 2 nonfiction books coming out this year from Legacy Press Kids. It all came about by using my mentor, Nancy I. Sander's idea to query first and land a contract BEFORE you write the book. I saw an ad for Legacy Press, studied their product line on their web site, thought of some ideas that would fit their existing line of books and sent the query. I waited and waited. Nada. So I thought they didn't like my ideas. 
 
Thirteen months later, the editor emailed that he liked my idea for the Christian Girls Guide to Grace (about etiquette) and wanted a proposal. So I took the next two months to research and write one. Ten months later they sent a contract to write the book in which I had 3 months to write! However during this long waiting period, the editor said he liked my writing voice and asked me to write another book for them, using one of their in-house ideas. But I still had to write the proposal outline for it. That book, "My Mini Pet Shop" will be out first. It's a craft and devotion book for girls ages 9-12. 
 
How much time do you spend in researching for your non-fiction writing? 
I usually take 1-2 months to research for a proposal.

Is there any one story that you’ve written that means more to you than any others? Last November I finally wrote a poignant story from an idea I got from living in South Korea. I don't want to spoil the beans yet, but it's a story that the world needs to know about North Korea. 
 
Is there any story that you haven’t yet found a publishing home for that you think you should?  
Of course, I'd like to find homes for all my picture book stories :)
 
How much time do you spend writing daily? 
I do some form of writing almost every day since I freelance write.

How do you keep yourself motivated to write?  
I guess I don't have a problem with motivation because I look at writing as my career now. It's something I just have to do. I also feel that God called me to write. Plus, being in various writing groups helps encourage me each day.  

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