Category Archives: Books

Writing Books on my Kindle

Writing Books on my Kindle

I’ve written about the writing books on my bookshelves here and here. But I also have a collection of writing books on my Kindle. I’ve reviewed several of these on ARHtistic License; click the highlighted titles to read.

  1. The Audacity to be a Writer: 50 Inspiring Articles on Writing that Could Change Your Life compiled by Bryan Hutchinson.
  2. Crank it outCrank It Out! The Surefire Way to Become a Super-Productive Writer by C.S. Lakin.
  3. Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland. I haven’t read this yet, but I love this author’s work.
  4. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. This is one of the best resources a fiction writer can have. It lists the physical manifestations of various emotions which you can use to make your readers viscerally experience what’s going on inside your character. (If you want, you can try out the abbreviated version, Emotional Amplifiers, for free.)
  5. Growing Gills: How to Find Creative Focus when You’re Drowning in your Daily Life by Jessica Abel. I’m reading this now, and it’s excellent, but you really have to do the steps. This is the manual for professional cartoonist and graphic novelist Abel’s Creative Focus Workshop. Not strictly a writing book, it’s useful for all kinds of creative endeavors.
  6. How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound Good by Bryan Cohen. I haven’t read this yet.
  7. Inspired Writer: How to Create Magic with Your Words by Bryan Hutchinson. I haven’t read this yet.
  8. Jumpstart Your Creativity: 10 Jolts to Get Creative and Stay Creative by Shawn Doyle and Steven Rowell.Outlining
  9. Outlining Your Novel Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises for Planning Your Best Book by K.M. Weiland. I’d recommend getting this in hard copy.
  10. Productivity for Creative People: How to get Creative Work Done in an “Always On” World by Mark McGuiness. I haven’t read this yet.
  11. Publishing Poetry & Prose in Literary Journals by Writer’s Relief, Inc. I haven’t read this yet, but I find lots of good information on their website.
  12. Write Your Novel From the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pansters, and Everyone in Between Write Your Novel From the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pansters, and Everyone in Between by James Scott Bell. I have to read this—I’ve heard such good things about it.
  13. Writing in Obedience: A Primer for Christian Fiction Writers by Terry Burns and Linda W. Yezak. I think I read this and was underwhelmed. It might be a good place for a beginning Christian writer to start.
  14. Writing Short Stories to Promote Your Novels by Rayne Hall. I haven’t read this yet.writing the heart
  15. Writing the Heart of Your Story: The Secret to Crafting an Unforgettable Novel by C.S. Lakin. One of the best books I’ve ever read on the art of the novel, which I will probably reread every year.
  16. You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins. A nice little motivational book when you need a kick to get going.
  17. The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor by Gail McMeekin.
  18. The 15-Minute Writer: How to Write Your Book in Only 15 Minutes a Day by Jennifer Blanchard.
  19. 5 Secrets of Story Structure: How to Write a Novel That Stands Out by K.M. Weiland. I can’t remember if I’ve read this yet. Weiland often gives it away free.

Of all the above books that I’ve already read, my two favorites are #4 and #15.

Did you find this article helpful? Please hit the Like button. Have you read any of these? Or do you have a writing book to recommend? Write your comment below.

#IDareYou Book Tag


I accepted this challenge after reading The Magic Violinist‘s answers to these twenty book questions.

1. What book has been on your shelves the longest?

Hi. My name is Andrea, and I’m a bookaholic. My house is full of books. I have books I bought decades ago that I haven’t read yet. I couldn’t possibly tell you which one has been waiting the longest.


These are just the TBRs that are stacked on the floor of my office. I have more on my bookshelves all through the house, and more in closets…

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

I usually have about five books in progress at any one time. Currently, I am reading Canon EOS Rebel T5/1200D for Dummies by Julie Adair King and Robert Correll; Growing Gills: How to Find Creative Focus When You’re Drowning in Your Daily Life by Jessica Abel;  Good Poems collected by Garrison Keillor; Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen; and Tanabata Wish by Sara Fujimura. The last book I finished was The Serpent King by Jeffrey Zentner. I think I need to reread Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King next.

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Ugh! What an ugly world.

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

War and Peace.

5. Which book are you saving for retirement?I am retired, so all of them. Or none of them.

6. Last page: Do you read it first or wait until the end?

For goodness’ sake, each page in order, please.

7. Acknowledgements: Are they a waste of paper and ink or interesting?Because of my obsessive/compulsive characteristics, I have been reading the acknowledgments sections since I was a child, even before I knew what the word meant. As I writer, I find them fascinating.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

I don’t know. I have a pretty terrific life.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?

Heidi, by Johanna Spyri. I read it as a little girl (and saw the Shirley Temple movie) and read it to my daughter when she was little (it brought me to tears, because of Heidi’s childlike faith). It reminds me of my grandmother’s house in Germany.

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

My Bible study leaders gave me a copy of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. At the time, I resisted reading it, but I’m so glad I finally relented.

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?

Last January I attended a writers workshop where the featured presenter was Allen Arnold. While he was speaking, I kept thinking of Tom, a friend of mine who was struggling with finishing a book. Arnold’s message would have been so encouraging to Tom. So I bought two copies of his book The Story of Withone for me and one for Tom.

12. Which book has been with you the most places?

When I travel, I take my Kindle with me, so hundreds of books have accompanied me across the country and to the doctor’s office.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?I pretty much loved everything I can remember reading in high school.

14. Used or brand new?

Since I reread books I like over and over, used is not an issue. In fact, I like the idea of keeping preread copies in circulation. I donate books that I know I’ll never read again, and I’ll generally buy a used copy if I can find one, because it saves me money for more books. The exception is when one of my favorite authors (see the answer to question #19) has a new release. I can’t wait, so I buy new.

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

All of them. I am looking forward to the release of Origin.

16. Have you ever seen a movie that you liked more than the book?
I can’t think of one. I usually like the book better than the movie, even if I loved the movie, because the book contains nuances that don’t translate over to film, or scenes that had to be cut for time’s sake.

17. A book that’s made you hungry?The Mitford series by Jan Karon. Some of the cakes sound to die for.

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Jeff Goins.

19. Most read authors?

Patricia Cornwell (for her Kay Scarpetta series), Sue Grafton, John Grisham (for the legal thrillers), and Janet Evanovich (for her Stephanie Plum numerical series).

20. Ship from two different books?

I don’t even know what this means.

Tag, you’re it! Answer some or all of these questions on your blog (give us a link!) or in the comments below.


Creative Juice #61

Creative Juice #61

Oh boy! Lots of inspiring stuff to jumpstart your creativity this weekend!

In the Meme Time: Write Memorable Books


Emotional books


Creative Juice #60

Creative Juice #60

Some beautiful, some quirky, all creative:

  1. Paintings with the look of vintage photographs.
  2. Vintage photographs taken by a teenaged Stanley Kubrick.
  3. These beautiful creations remind me of when I took up embroidery as a young wife. I miss those days.
  4. I always wondered how Chicago came up with the title 25 or 6 to 4.
  5. Paintings of Max Pechstein.
  6. I’ve read 12 of these, and I’d like to read more of the books on this book club reading list.
  7. Twenty-five free and easy quilt patterns.
  8. I want to win this contest. Only funny people need apply. Am I funny enough?
  9. Beautiful Christmas quilt—and links to many more original designs.
  10. The illustrations of Mike Ciccotello.
  11. That awkward moment at the museum when you see your portrait—and it was painted before you were born…
  12. Surreal images of synchronized swimmers.

Writing Books on my Bookshelf, Part II

Writing Books on my Bookshelf, Part II

On Tuesday I started listing all the writing books on my bookshelf and decided to take a break when I got to the thirtieth one.

Today I’m resuming where I left off.

Writing books on my bookshelf

  1. Guerrilla Marketing for Writers: 100 Weapons for Selling Your Work by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, and Michael Larson. I haven’t read this yet, but I’m looking forward to it.
  2. Missing Persons: A Writer’s Guide to Finding the Lost, the Abducted and the Escaped by Fay Faron. Oh, yeah…another book I’ve been meaning to read, because my 2015 NaNo manuscript is about a woman who finds a missing girl.
  3. New Roget’s Thesaurus. I don’t know why I have this; I usually use the thesaurus embedded in Microsoft Word.
  4. On Writing by Stephen King. One of my favorites. I posted a brief review of this book and several others here.
  5. On Writing Well by William Zinsser. A classic.
  6. One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty. I forgot I had this. One for the “To Be Read” pile.
  7. Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. This book convinced me I needed a blog and a Twitter account.
  8. Plot by Ansen Dibell. Another TBR.
  9. poemcrazy: freeing your life with words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge.
  10. Reaching Back: A Workbook for Recording Your Life’s Most Meaningful Moments to Share with Future Generations by Alice Chapin. I bought this book intending to record all my parents’ memories, but I procrastinated too long. My parents and all their siblings have passed away. Maybe I’ll work through it with my husband and preserve our histories.
  11. Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. This book outlines a strategy for reading so that you analyze elements like character, dialogue, narration, and description, and discover what works and what doesn’t.
  12. Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham. Another TBR.
  13. Scene of the Crime: A Writer’s Guide to Crime-Scene Investigations by Anne Wingate, Ph.D. Another TBR.
  14. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. I promise–this is the next writing book I read.
  15. Setting by Jack M. Bickham. TBR.
  16. Secrets of Successful Fiction by Robert Newton Peck. I bought this because I loved his Soup for President, but I haven’t read this one yet.
  17. Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life by Terry Brooks. The author signed this for me at the Maui Writers Conference in 2004. In addition to advice on the craft, lots of anecdotes from Brooks’ life.
  18. The St. Martin’s Handbook by Andrea Lunsford and Robert Connors. This might be my grammar book from college. It’s very similar to The Little, Brown Handbook. You probably don’t need them both, but I can’t part with either.
  19. Story by Robert McKee. Epic book. I’ve started it a couple of times, never got too far into it, but it’s definitely earned a spot in the TBR section.
  20. The Story of With by Allen Arnold. Not strictly a writing book, this book focuses on God as the initiator of creative work, encouraging the reader to create with God.
  21. Theme & Strategy by Ronald B. Tobias. The subtitle is How to Build a Strong, Narrative Structure to Help Your Fiction Stand Tall, Run Fast, and Soar to Success. I know I need to read this book.
  22. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. I often see this book on lists of most favorite writing books. It’s not one of my favorites. I don’t completely agree with Pressfield’s philosophies. He’s all about art for art’s sake, and yes, that should be our first motivation, but it’s nice to get some affirmation. Pressman says, “The artist cannot look to others to validate his efforts or his calling. If you don’t believe me, ask Van Gogh, who produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer in his whole life.” Uh, and committed suicide. He goes on to say, “To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution.” Does he cash his royalty checks?
  23. Who Said That? compiled by Renie Gee. This is a book of quotations, which I bought in case I ever run out of material for my Monday Morning Wisdom series on ARHtistic License. So far, I haven’t had to refer to it.
  24. Word by Word: An Inspirational Look at the Craft of Writing by John Tullius, Elizabeth Engstrom, and the presenters of the Maui Writers Conference. Self-explanatory.
  25. The Writer’s Book of Checklists by Scott Edelstein. This book includes an amazing amount of helpful information, concisely summarized in list form, on 123 topics such as 10 Tips on Ghostwriting, 24 Tips on Asking for More Money, and 25 Key Points of a Book Contract. Released in 1991, some of the information is dated, and there is no mention of social media or technology, but it’s still a worthwhile reference book.
  26. The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing edited by Frank A Dickson and Sandra Smythe.
  27. The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing, Volume II edited by Jean M. Fredette.
  28. Writer’s Guide to Places by Don Prues and Jack Heffron. Suppose your character is from Columbus, Ohio. What football team does he root for? Where did he hang out when he was in high school? What part of town do the rich people live in? This book is a great reference for details about locations in the United States and Canada.
  29. The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers & Screenwriters by Christopher Vogler. Mine is signed by the author, whom I met at a writer’s conference. Vogler studied The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell and wrote a “hero’s quest” outline that served as an unofficial outline for Disney movies for years. I’ve studied it extensively and used it as a framework for my works-in-progress, but the current trend for fiction is to start in the middle of action rather than establish the “ordinary world” as Vogler recommends.
  30. The Writing Life: Writers on How They Think and Work edited by Marie Arana. Contributions from authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, James Michener, Mary Higgins Clark, Scott Turow, Wendy Wasserstein, and Ray Bradbury.
  31. Writing Mysteries: A Handbook by the Mystery Writers of America edited by Sue Grafton with Jan Burke and Barry Zeman. A collection of articles from the Who’s Who of mystery writers, such as Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen, Tony Hillerman, Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, and more.
  32. Writing Scripts Hollywood Will Love: An Insider’s Guide to Film and Television Scripts that Sell by Katherine Atwell Herbert. I went through a screenwriting phase about twenty years ago. I know I read this book then and liked it, but I don’t really remember much.
  33. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. Yep, time to reread this.
  34. Writing the Natural Way by Gabriele Lusser Rico. The front cover says this is a course in enhancing creativity and writing confidence. The sub-title is Using Right-Brain Techniques to Release Your Expressive Powers.
  35. You Can Write a Memoir by Susan Carol Hauser. It’s been a while since I read this book, but I remember liking it. I’ve written a lot of notes in the margins.
  36. You Can Write Children’s Books by Tracey E. Dils. All the basic information is in here.
  37. Your Novel Proposal From Creation to Contract by Blythe Camenson and Marshall J. Cook. Until this book was released in 1999, all books about book proposals focused on nonfiction, with maybe a few paragraphs here and there about how fiction is different. This book was the first to break the code for fiction writers. My copy is heavily dog-eared.

Alright, that’s it–67 writing books total (including the thirty in my previous article) on my bookshelf. Maybe there’s a few here you’d like to read. Did I miss any of your favorites? Please share in the comments below.




Creative Juice #59

Creative Juice #59

Beautiful, unusual, entertaining, fun, and creative:

Writing Books on my Bookshelf, Part I

Writing Books on my Bookshelf, Part I

I read a lot of writing books. I own a lot of writing books. I would like to say I’ve read most of the writing books I own. I would also like to say I remember all the writing books I’ve read. It would be more correct to say I’m ready to read or reread most of them.

I started getting serious about freelance writing around 1990. I’d dabbled with short stories and novels, and hadn’t experienced much success. As a stay-at-home mom of five kids aged one to eleven, I dreamed of something I could do at home to earn money, and I thought writing articles for magazines would be the magic bullet.

The first writing book I ever bought was Elaine Fantle Shimberg’s How to Be a Successful Housewife/Writer. I studied it, honed my skills, and started submitting articles. I got my big break when a new parenting magazine launched locally, and I called the editor to pitch a story about the challenges of being a stay-at-home mom. My association with that magazine lasted ten years, until I got a regular paying job outside my home.

Writing books on my bookshelf

I’ve already posted about my favorite writing books, and I’ve written reviews of others, but I have more:

  1. 20 Master Plots20 Master Plots and How to Build Them, by Ronald B. Tobias. One of many books I ordered through the old Writer’s Digest book club.
  2. The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Not strictly a writing book, but it affirmed to me when I quit my teaching job that it was time to return to writing.
  3. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which I wrote about in the above-linked article, and which I plan to go through again soon.
  4. Awakening the Giant: Mobilizing and Equipping Christians to Reclaim Our Nation in This Generation by Jim Russell, about writing as an approach to evangelization.
  5. Beginnings, Middles, & Ends by Nancy Kress. I’ve been meaning to read this for decades.
  6. Building Better Plots by Robert Kernen. There’s a bookmark at page 10, where there’s an exercise. I guess I’ve been waiting until I have enough time to do the exercise…
  7. Cause of DeathCareers for Your Characters: A Writer’s Guide to 101 Professions from Architect to Zookeeper by Raymond Obstfeld and Franz Neumann. This is a nice resource that tells you all sorts of information about occupations, such as the education required, annual salary, and widespread fallacies about professions, so that your character doesn’t do or say something that will ring untrue for readers in the know.
  8. Cause f Death: A Writer’s Guide to Death, Murder & Forensic Medicine by Keith D. Wilson, M.D.. This resource gives you information about what happens in emergency rooms, how time and cause of death are determined, what are the most common causes for accidental death, and how capital punishment is performed, among other grisly topics you might need to know if you write murder mysteries or medical or police procedurals.
  9. Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Cress. Another book I’ve been meaning to read.
  10. Children's Writer's Word BookChildren’s Writer’s Word Book by Alejandra Mogilner. This resource contains helpful lists of words sorted by U.S. elementary grade level.
  11. The Christian Writer’s Market Guide 2015-16 by Jerry B. Jenkins. This resource is updated every year. The 2017 volume is edited by Steve Laube.
  12. The Complete Book of Script-Writing by J. Michael Straczynski.
  13. A Complete Guide to Writing for Publication edited by Susan Titus Osborn. A collection of twenty-five articles from top Christian writers covering all aspects of our craft.
  14. Description & Setting by Ron Rozelle.
  15. The Elements of Editing: A Modern Guide for Editors and Journalists by Arthur Plotnik.
  16. The Elements of Grammar by Margaret Shertzer.
  17. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. The classic.
  18. The First Five PagesThe First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman. Oh, yes. I’ve been meaning to reread this.
  19. Freelance Writing for Magazines and Newspapers: Breaking In Without Selling Out by Marcia Yudkin. Another book I studied religiously.
  20. Get the Facts on Anyone: How You Can Use Public Sources to Check the Background of Any Person or Organization by Dennis King. In 1993, after the Branch Davidian massacre, I researched an article about how cults manipulate people in order to take over their lives. One of the people I interviewed was an anti-cult activist, who recommended this resource, which was released in 1992. With the explosion of the internet, getting information about individuals is easier than ever. The book might be a little dated.
  21. How to Be a Successful Housewife/Writer by Elaine Fantle Shimberg. Mentioned above in the third paragraph.How to be a Successful Housewife:Writer
  22. How to Get Happily Published by Judith Appelbaum. Another book I studied a lot in my early writing days.
  23. How to Make Money Writing Little Articles, Anecdotes, Hints, Recipes, Light Verse and Other Fillers by Connie Emerson. I read and reread this book; but I never sold any little fillers.
  24. How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen. For nonfiction.
  25. How to Write & Sell a Column by Julie Raskin & Carolyn Males. One of my dreams was once to write a syndicated column. I did write a parenting column for a few years for a monthly free community newspaper, for free.
  26. How to Write for Television by Madeline DiMaggio. Uh huh. Another dream of mine was to be on a TV show writing team. I studied this book, but by the time I had an idea for an existing show, it was off the air. Then I set my sights on writing a screenplay.
  27. How to Write Funny edited by John B. Kachuba.
  28. Idea Catcher: An Inspiring Journal for Writers by the editors of Story Press. A lovely collections of prompts. I brought some of these prompts to meetings when I was president of the Tempe Christian Writers Club in the 1990s.Little Brown
  29. The Little, Brown Handbook by H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron. The copy currently on my bookshelf is my daughter Erin’s from high school. I used to have mine from college. I love grammar books, and I like the way this one is organized.
  30. Make Every Word Count by Gary Provost. I bought this book recently when I saw it recommended by Margie Lawson in her Deep Editing lecture notes. I’ve been meaning to read it.

You know what? We’re about halfway through the writing books on my bookshelf. Let’s break here and I’ll tell you about some more on Saturday.


Creative Juice #58

Creative Juice #58

Your latest installment of beauty and creativity, just in time for your weekend enjoyment:

  1. More beautiful quilts from Utah.
  2. Fashion photography on location.
  3. Beautiful murals.
  4. Gorgeous paintings of animals.
  5. Lovely zentangles.
  6. Do you have your own unique sense of style? Maybe. Maybe not.
  7. What do you look for in a traveling companion?
  8. Crazy coincidental dressing.
  9. I’ve read three of these bestselling books of summer, 2017, and found one more I need.
  10. What would it take to get you to look out your train window?
  11. Light show.
  12. Cars and legs.

Guest Post: Christina Farley on Writing YA, Gilded and Silvern, Plus Advice for Aspiring YA Authors by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Guest Post: Christina Farley on Writing YA, Gilded and Silvern, Plus Advice for Aspiring YA Authors by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Note from Andrea: Many thanks to author and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi for this wonderful article about Christina Farley. I especially love Christina’s videos. We writers can learn a lot about marketing from her. Also, I am adding the book trailer for her newest book, The Princess and the Page, to the end of this article. Enjoy!

June 5, 2017 Update: Christina Farley now has a wonderful middle grade novel out from Scholastic! See her website for more info about THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE as well as her GILDED trilogy.

I met Christina Farley through my critique group, the MiG Writers. Christy’s one of the most productive writers I know, and she recently left her teaching job so she could write fulltime.

Christina’s contemporary fantasy novel for young adults, GILDED, launched from Skyscape earlier this year. Its sequel, SILVERN, launches on September 23rd, 2014. You can read the first chapter of SILVERN here.

Other places to find Christy:

WebsiteTwitterFacebookYouTube – TumblrPinterest

Synopsis of GILDED:

Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting into a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she’s next.

But that’s not Jae’s only problem.

There’s also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae’s heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae’s been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she’s always been looking for.

Q. What was your writing process for GILDED? 

Coming up with ideas for books can be a challenge, but the idea for GILDED stemmed from the Korean myth of Haemosu and Princess Yuhwa. It left me wondering what happened after Princess Yuhwa escaped Haemosu’s clutches.

The what ifs inspired me to write the story of GILDED. But to writing a full length novel isn’t easy.

1. First I plotted out the story.

See my plot grid for GILDED here:

I also did a blog post on more specifics on how to plot out books here and you can use my templates to get you started here.


2. Next, I prepare to write the book.

I often use aromatherapy (a scented candle) to write as well as create a soundtrack for each book. I love keeping a journal for each book as well. This will have all the names of my characters in it, nuisances, research I’ve done on the book, notes, and illustrations. The journal became extremely useful when I went to write the sequel and had to remember all the small details for characters or the rules of my world. For more ideas, you can check this video I made here:

3. Once everything is prepped, then I write my first draft. It’s sloppy and a complete wreck, but the structure of the book is in place.

For GILDED I had to do a lot of research of Korean mythology. I also found that since Jae Hwa was a martial arts expert, I had to learn Korean archery and taekwondo because I wanted the book to be as authentic as possible.

4. Revision is where the book comes to life. I revised GILDED so many times I’ve lost track. But each time, I strengthened the book’s structure, working on characterization, description, subplots and the arc of the book.

5. After I think the book is in good shape, I have my critique partners take a look. Debbie Ohi and I are part of the MiG Writers ( I’m indebted to her and the rest of the group for their hard work in helping GILDED shine.

Q. How did GILDED get published?

Finding an Agent:

Once I finished GILDED, I realized I needed an agent for this book. So I did my research mainly on querytracker. I’d look up agents in my field and then research everything I could on them before I queried them. My agented friend’s warned me that a bad agent is worse than no agent, so I when I received offers of representation from agents, I made sure I had a phone conversation with them to see if they were the right fit. I talk more about that here:

Finding a Publisher:

I like to say it was tough work, but my agent, Jeff Ourvan of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency, LLC, is completely responsible for selling GILDED. He found the perfect editor for me and I’m thrilled to be working with Miriam Juskowicz.

Christina with her editor, Miriam Juskowicz

The biggest difficulty I had was decision making. Before signing with Amazon Children’s, there was another unexpected option with a different project. Jeff provided invaluable guidance of what to do for my career long term rather than just signing with the first book offer I was given. I think this all goes back in finding the right agent because the right agent looks out for you not just for the one book, but for your career.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring YA writers? 

My advice for writers is to focus on your craft. Become not only a master of weaving words, but tap into your creative self. If others are writing it, you shouldn’t. Trend chasing will only leave you frustrated. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Challenge yourself to write outside of your comfort zone because in doing this, you are pushing yourself to become everything you can be as a writer.

Don’t base your success on others. You have your own path to follow. It won’t be all grassy fields and stunning mountain peaks. The writer’s journey is a lot like the path through Mirkwood in the HOBBIT. You may feel lost, confused, trapped in the feelings of depression; and if you, don’t be afraid to take a break. Follow Bilbo’s example and climb a tree, leave the forest behind, and breathe in the fresh air.

As Gandalf says, “DON’T LEAVE THE PATH!”

Q. How did the launch for GILDED go?

My launch was amazing. I actually had two launches, a virtual and a physical launch. The reason I did this is I have so many friends from all around the world, including my critique partners! This allowed me to celebrate this special day with them because they have been there with me every step of this incredibly hard journey. It meant so much to me to have them ‘there’ after all we’ve been through together. Link for the virtual launch:

For my physical launch, I had it at the Windermere Library since it was the perfect location for all of my friends and family to come together. We had 120 people show up and it was overwhelming how kind everyone was to show their support of the book.

After I did a power point presentation about the history of how GILDED came to be, I read a portion of GILDED and then we ate cake and celebrated! While I was signing books, my husband gave away books and swag. It was definitely a day I will never forget. More photos from the physical launch:

Q. What are you working on now? Any other upcoming events or other info you’d like to share?

I’m thrilled to say the sequel to GILDED is coming out this fall! SILVERN delves deeper into Jae Hwa’s world. You’ll find out more about the workings of the Guardians of Shinshi and new twists on the Spirit World.

Currently, I have three projects I’m playing with. I’m revising the third book in the GILDED series, drafting a new YA unrelated to the GILDED series, and researching for an historical adventure MG set in the early 1900’s.

View of Seoul from Christina’s desk where she wrote Gilded.

Note from Andrea: As promised, here is the trailer for The Princess and the Page:

And here is Christina reading an excerpt from the third book in the Gilded series, Brazen (spoiler alert):