Early Bird Registration is now available for the Encouraging Literacy Fall 2017 Workshops for Parents! I have a number of workshops that may be of interest to you:
*Encouraging Literacy at Home - Building Foundations for Reading
*Reading Comprehension - Beyond the 5 W's
*Literary Themes and Genres - What's it Saying?
*Writing - Nuts and Bolts
Visit www.EncouragingLiteracy.com for detailed workshop descriptions. Register now for only $15 per workshop, per participant. Take advantage of the early bird discount!
My Dear Sunshine,
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are gray."
Do you remember this song? When you were a chubby little toddler, we used to sing "You Are My Sunshine" and "Jesus Loves Me" after your bath - intentionally way off key and at the top of our lungs (to cover up the drone of the hair dryer, of course!). Baba would cover his ears, but we would giggle with glee. Some things have changed, like how you are old enough now to dry your own hair, but other things have steadfastly remained the same: we still sing off key, but you are still my sunshine. Jesus loves you forever and always, no matter what. And so do I.
Sunshine, not that long ago, you wrote Baba and I short but sophisticated letters asking for more basketball practice, maybe even joining a recreational team. I've got to hand it to you, Sunshine; You were smart to split up your persuasive arguments to suit each one of us. In your letter to me, you rationalized your desire to improve basketball skills. In your letter to Baba, you used an emotional appeal for basketball and against Chinese School. Baba and I considered your request in concert with all other factors impacting our family. We see the benefit of learning Chinese AND we see the value of playing basketball. We hope you do, too. I'm so glad we were able to find a schedule that allowed for you to pursue both Chinese School AND basketball.
Look at this cool pic of you in action! I just love how intensely you pour out your heart into all that you do, whether it is basketball, school work, or even your Chinese lessons. You are a super talented and a wonderfully determined girl. As you continue to grow, I know you will follow dreams that will both challenge you to mature and give you satisfaction knowing that you have made the world a better place.
Sunshine, you make me so very happy and anyone who knows you would also describe you as a joy. However, we have experienced many gray, cloudy days these past months, haven't we? I don't expect you to be perfect - You are still growing physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I'm not perfect either. The truth is that I'm still growing and maturing, too. Though this stage of life may be difficult at times, I want to assure you that I am always available to listen to you without judgement, to guide you through the process of sorting out your emotions for peace, and to give you advice on how to handle frustrating situations with love.
My dear, dear Sunshine, you'll never know how much I love you. Though we will weather a few more storms in the years to come, please remember that flowers can only blossom when it is nourished by the rain. When the days are dark, remember this blessing - "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." May the Son shine in your life all the more abundantly so that you know you are deeply loved by the One above.
With all my love,
An Interview with Hannah Kuo, 14-Year-Old Author of Wildfire's Twin
“A strange, hot wind picked up, ruffling the teen’s long, black ponytail. Her arms started to glow with a red-orange light as the air started to feel even more heavy. Finally, before the heat became unbearable, the humidity was sucked into the girl then exploded back out in flames. Her hand snapped upward, flames pushing up, up, up…”
Barely five sentences into this 500-page book and I’m hooked! How does this teen get such powers? What kind of society does she live in? Will this fiery ability be used for good or evil?
I showed Wildfire’s Twin to my 10-year-old daughter and remarked, “Can you believe this book was written by my friend’s daughter who is only 14 years old?” Intrigued, my daughter asked me to “see” the book and wouldn’t you know it, but she was hooked, too! While reading the book, my daughter would often say, “This book is SO good!” or ask, “I wonder who’s the twin?” When the book ended, she would ask in anguish, “What does under siege mean? What’s going to happen next? I NEED to know!”
The idea came to me that my daughter should gather up some questions and interview Hannah Kuo, author of Wildfire’s Twin, for some insights about her story, some tips about her writing process, and of course, any hints about what’s to come in the future. I contacted my friend and we gathered together at our local frozen yogurt store for a very cool and casual interview.
Hannah, Author of Wildfire’s Twin
Hannah’s Mom, Hannah’s Biggest Cheerleader
My 10-Year-Old Daughter, Inquisitive Interviewer
My 7-Year-Old Daughter, Keen Observer
So without further ado, it’s my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Hannah Kuo, 14-year-old author of Wildfire’s Twin. Here’s the conversation that took place between Hannah and my daughter:
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
At times, it felt like the story was getting boring so it was hard to keep going. I tried to push through it. I had my basic story line and I tried to “add spice” like how kids talk these days. I tried to make it more modern and real.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I think I’m a strange person because my favorite part of the book is when the main character gets fatally hurt. When I read these types of scenes in other stories, it causes me to be afraid and excited because I’m already “into” the character.
What got left out from the final draft?
Not much was left out. Originally, one character was not included, but afterwards I added that character into the story to add spice.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Usually, I get ideas from movies I like to watch and my favorite books. I really like the series Keeper of the Lost Cities. I like stories where characters have powers and abilities so I wanted to write a book that I know I would like to read and one that I hope others would like to read, too.
A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain to write this book? Was there a real-life inspiration for them?
I tried to write the villain as mean as possible. You know, there’s always the one character that everyone hates.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I learned that I can actually finish writing a story. I worked through it and took breaks when there was a slump. Sometimes, I’ll set the story down for a while like maybe a couple weeks and when I find inspiration, I would continue writing.
Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
At first, I didn’t plan a message, but looking back, there is one: Some people look down on kids, but kids can do it if they put their minds to it. They have qualities that adults don’t have.
Oh by “qualities” do you mean like in my writing class, the teacher asked a question of what a paper clip could be and kids were able to think of all sorts of ideas but adults couldn’t come up with any?
Yes, like that. Adults have set ways of thinking, but kids have their minds open to all sorts of possibilities.
What motivated you to keep on writing and editing when it seemed like the process would never end?
The idea that my story would be published into a book made me think, “Wow, that would be really cool!” My interest in writing started as a kid and I always wrote little stories with pictures. I even had a story-writing club with my cousin! I took a writing seminar with the San Jose Area Writing Project and even met Gene Luen Yang. I started Wildfire’s Twin in the summer of 2016. I wrote most of the story during the summer and took my time during the school year to edit it.
Are you working on something new?
Yes, I’m trying to write a sequel, maybe even make it into a trilogy. I definitely think my story is too long for one book, but too short for a series, so a trilogy is just right.
Who is your editor?
I sent my story to some friends but they were too busy so I tried to edit the story by myself.
Are you looking for volunteer editors?
Yes, are you volunteering?
Yes! I really like your story and would love to help. Would you send me the whole book to edit or just a chapter at a time? Maybe a chapter at a time since we have homework and stuff? Can we exchange email addresses?
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Before we left, I had one more question for Hannah. “As you know, my business is Encouraging Literacy. I give workshops which aims to share tips with other parents on how to help their kids with reading and writing. Is there something that your parents did to encourage you on this path as an author?”
Hannah’s reply was deeply insightful into the type of relationship she has with her parents. She said, “My parents don’t fit the stereotype of Chinese parents who expect their kids to get all A’s and I can’t get B’s because B’s are bad. They have always encouraged me to do my best. They taught me to read when I was young and I have loved reading and writing stories ever since.”
Beautiful answer, isn’t it?
Hannah, you are quite an inspiration and it looks like you’ve managed to gain a volunteer editor, an enthusiastic fan, and hopefully, a life-long friend! Congratulations on writing and publishing your first book. We can’t wait to read what’s coming next. May you continue to use your God-given talents to write stories and bless people with joy.
Interested in Hannah's book? Buy her book on Amazon.
Does your child want to get better at writing? Check out the San Jose Area Writing Project.
Would you like some tips and strategies on how to help your kids with reading and writing? Register for my Fall 2017 Workshops for Parents.
For inspiration and helpful tips on parenting, check out my other blogs on GenParenting.com!