2019 NAPIBOWRIWEE DAY 7 – Meet Guest Author Andrea Wang!

WELCOME TO DAY 7 OF THE 2019 NATIONAL PICTURE BOOK WRITING WEEK WITH GUEST AUTHOR ANDREA WANG!

Andrea Wang

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT’S OUR LAST DAY? LET’S MAKE DAY 7 A DAY TO REMEMBER! With our guest author ANDREA WANG!

Okay, I am still recovering from Sunday’s BTS concert LOL. Super tired! Plus had some work meetings and book deadlines to deal with. No rest for the weary. How is everyone? I am so thrilled by your comments and posts here and on social media. Everyone is being very honest and positive and kind – both to themselves and to each other. I love our supportive writing community!

MY DAY 6 EXPERIENCE: So I hope everyone can be kind to me, too! Yours truly did not write anything for Day 6. I had an idea for a picture book that was inspired by the Sunday night concert of BTS that I saw at the Rose Bowl. But I didn’t realize how exhausted I would be on Monday. Turns out I may have danced too much. LOL! Plus given the crowds, it took an hour just to get out of the Rose Bowl area! I didn’t get home until 1:30 AM! And I had some work meetings and deadlines to deal with on Day 6 (Monday), so I had to postpone doing any NAPIBOWRIWEE writing. I knew this would happen because of my unusually busy schedule (especially with family guests visiting all last week). I also have been frustrated all week that I have not been able to reply to everyone’s comments on the blogs themselves like I have in the past because of my overwhelming work schedule AND our recent website comment glitch (turns out to have been a system-wide WordPress issue beyond our control). But then I was inspired by everyone’s kind words to each other and support of each other’s efforts. What a supportive and lovely community we have! That reminded me to be kind to MYSELF, too! So I decided instead of being frustrated, I will use Day 7 as a brainstorming day and see if I can at least write one more book or come up with some ideas to work on after I finish my official work deadlines. There are a few NAPIBOWRIWEE years where yours truly does NOT write 7 picture books in 7 days. This is one of those years. But I’m proud of my productive work for Days 1-4! 🙂 Not bad! That’s more than 50% accomplished so I’m still happy. We’ll see what happens for Day 7…

So to inspire us on our last day together (sob), here is a wonderful interview with author ANDREA WANG!

DAY 7 – GUEST AUTHOR Q&A WITH ANDREA WANG

PUBLICATION INFO: MAGIC RAMEN: THE STORY OF MOMOFUKU ANDO
March 5, 2019, Little Bee Books:

Every day, Momofuku Ando would retire to his lab–a little shed in his backyard. For years, he’d dreamed about making a new kind of ramen noodle soup that was quick, convenient, and tasty for the hungry people he’d seen in line for a bowl on the black market following World War II. Peace follows from a full stomach, he believed.

Day after day, Ando experimented. Night after night, he failed. But Ando kept experimenting.

With persistence, creativity, and a little inspiration, Ando succeeded. Magic Ramen tells the true story behind the creation of one of the world’s most popular foods – instant ramen.

BIO: Andrea Wang is the award-winning author of The Nian Monster. She loves to travel and sample new and unusual foods. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of her writing is about food. Andrea writes picture books and middle grade novels. Her second picture book, Magic Ramen, published in March 2019. She has also written seven non-fiction titles for the library and school market. Andrea holds an M.S. in Environmental Science and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for Young People. She lives in Colorado with her family and their dog, Mochi, named for the sticky rice dessert.

Q&A WITH ANDREA WANG

What inspired you to write or illustrate picture books?

I’ve always loved writing, but it wasn’t until after my first child was born that I started reading picture books again. I fell in love with the genre – the interplay between text and art, the way they encourage young readers to make connections to their own lives, and the bond that they foster between caregiver and child.

My first picture book manuscript wasn’t born so much out of inspiration as out of necessity – my family went to Shanghai to visit my in-laws and my sons rapidly got tired of the picture books I had brought. I don’t read Chinese very well, and at that time the bookstore that sold picture books in English was over an hour away (Shanghai traffic is awful) and the books were incredibly expensive. So I made up stories to tell my kids at bedtime, which led to me writing them down, which reinvigorated my love of writing. When we returned to the U.S., I had already decided to take online classes in writing for children.

Do you write or illustrate in any other genres of writing or art forms (acrylic, oil, watercolor etc.)? If so, what and why? Any preferences?

I’ve written nonfiction books for the educational market, mostly at the elementary school level. I also write MG novels. It’s kind of funny – I started out writing picture books but then received feedback that several of my manuscripts would be better as longer works — chapter books or MG novels. So I took one of those manuscripts and expanded it to a chapter book form, which then morphed into a MG novel. Learning how to write a novel has been a long (still ongoing) process, and when I need a break, I’ll tackle writing another picture book. It’s been a bit of a surprise to me that my first published books have been picture books, because I’ve thought of myself as a novelist for so long.

What do you like most about picture book writing/illustrating versus other genres?

I love telling a complete story in so few words. I don’t have to worry about describing the setting in detail or fleshing out a character completely. I can give broad brushstrokes or hint at things in the text or add a few choice art notes. For example, in Magic Ramen, I could condense ten years of Momofuku Ando’s life into about five sentences, just hitting the most relevant points. I can’t really do that in a MG novel.

What is the most challenging part about writing/illustrating picture books?

The most challenging thing is also how few words are in a picture book. Every word/sentence has to do a lot of work – move the plot along, or show something about the character, or expand on a theme. It’s like a puzzle – and it’s so satisfying when the right words all click into place and create that larger picture.

Tell us about your first published book or first art assignment – what inspired the idea for the book or how did you figure out how to approach the art for the author’s text?

My first published book (that wasn’t write-for-hire) was THE NIAN MONSTER, a Chinese New Year folktale retelling. I came across the tale of Nian while looking for information on the holiday to share with my sons and their classmates. My interest was piqued because my immigrant parents had never told me this story. At the same time, I looked at the Chinese New Year picture books available at the time and realized that most of them were set in imperial China. It affected the perceptions non-Chinese kids had of China – my sons’ classmates still believed that kids in China wore imperial-style clothes and lived in thatched huts in tiny villages. I had spent time in China and wanted to show kids that contemporary Chinese cities and people are as modern and sophisticated as in the United States. Retelling the Nian folktale seemed like a great opportunity to do that, which is why there are many modern Shanghai landmarks and people wearing current fashions featured in it.

Any fun or interesting details about the road to your first book’s publication?

THE NIAN MONSTER actually went to acquisitions meetings twice with editors that I met and submitted to from SCBWI conference passes. The first time, it was ultimately passed on because the house had already acquired a picture book about Chinese New Year and, I think, they felt their list didn’t need another. The second time, the house felt that my book was “too niche.” Ultimately, the third time really was the charm. An editor at Albert Whitman plucked my manuscript out of the slush pile, 18 months after I had submitted it! I think the lesson learned is to never give up!

There’s been a growing demand for more diversity in children’s book publishing for women and people of color either as book subjects/stories/characters or for diverse writers/illustrators. What are your thoughts on that, if any?

I think it’s awesome that people have recognized the need for diverse books and are demanding more from publishers. Accurate and authentic representation is so important. Feeling seen and validated can be life-changing. As a reader, I’m thrilled about the growing number of #OwnVoices books that are being published. As a POC author, I’m excited to contribute to the diverse books that are available, and to highlight important people of color such as Momofuku Ando, the subject of my newest book, MAGIC RAMEN. Our voices have been marginalized for too long.

Do you have a favorite picture book or a picture book that most inspires you with its writing and/or art? If so, which one is it and why?

My favorite picture book is A DIFFERENT POND by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui. It’s lyrical and gorgeous and poignant. I saw myself and my family in the story. This book really opened my eyes to what a picture book could be and inspired me to take a manuscript out of the drawer where it had been sitting for eight years. After a complete overhaul, that manuscript sold last year. 

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.

I get a kick out of using power tools, especially yard equipment. I was such a tiny, scrawny, sheltered child. Being able to wield a circular saw, mow the lawn, or clear two feet of snow from my driveway is a huge boost to my self-confidence and independence.

If you could give one piece of writing or illustrating advice for our NaPiBoWriWee participants, what would it be?

Don’t get hung up on the details now. Don’t worry about word count or crafting the perfect rhyme or digging through sources to find the name of your main character’s son by his second wife. There’s plenty of time to do all that later, during the revision stage. Just let the energy of NaPiBoWriWee flow through you and bang out your drafts. The first draft of MAGIC RAMEN was probably about 2000 words and dull and didactic as heck. I think the first sentence was actually “Momofuku Ando was born in 1910.” It was that bad. But the story idea was finally out of my head and down on paper. That’s the goal – to have something tangible to work with after the challenge is over.

There’s been increasing pressure for writers and artists to be active on social media. Are you on social media? If so, where can your readers reach you? Has social media helped your writing/art journey and career? Any advice for writers or artists who might feel overwhelmed by the social media “burden”?

I am sporadically on social media. If we met for coffee, I would probably tell you my life story, but doing that online is outside my comfort zone. That said, I can be found at andreaywang.com, @AndreaYWang (Twitter), @AndreaWhyWang (Instagram), and andrea.c.wang (Facebook).

Social media has definitely helped me promote my books and find a sense of community. I have found launch groups to be great for reducing the burden of book promotion. Launch groups don’t have to be just for debuts, either. I’m in one now called #19PBbios that features 19 picture book biographies coming out in 2019. Check us out at 19pbbios.com or @19PBbios on Twitter!

Thank you, Paula, for inviting me to be part of NaPiBoWriWee! I’m excited to tackle the challenge!

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Thank you Andrea Wang for being a part of this year’s NAPIBOWRIWEE! I can’t think of a more perfect way to wrap our Day 7 with your inspiration! I love your story on how you overcame rejection to get your first book published! And thank you for reminding us not to get bogged down in the details and just WRITE! We can always fix things later. 🙂 And for some reason, I am craving some RAMEN NOODLES. I wonder why? 🙂

For more info on Andrea, visit her here: http://andreaywang.com

Andrea will graciously donate an autographed copy of her latest book to a lucky winner in our annual drawing contest! (Winners are chose at random). Winners will be announced on our May 8, 2019 blog, so stay tuned!

So here we go, everyone… LAST DAY! Try to reach that finish line by writing your 7th picture book in a row! I am behind, but I promise to try and catch up today!!!!!! 🙂

As always, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!

90 Comments »

  1. Great interview, Andrea! I loved Magic Ramen and so happy that it found its home through the slush pile. Thanks for a final day of inspiration!

  2. Love this interview, especially the encouragement to just get the story out and not worry about the details – your admission that your first draft of Magic Ramen was so long and a bit “dull” was music to my ears. I’m going to try and put my inner editor into the cupboard for a lengthy time out while I get the first draft of a new story down! Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks, Joan! And yes, tell your inner editor to clear out until you have a first draft. An author I know recommended giving your inner critic a ridiculous name, which makes it much easier to discount what they’re saying and tell them to go away!

  3. Thanks for sharing your path to pub, Andrea! Thank you for a week full of inspiration, Paula! 7 drafts done all because of the challenge and the extra push to wake up each morning extremely early, raring to go, with a new story in my head. Same time, next year. 😀

  4. Thank you for sharing Andrea’s journey and excellent advice. This was the perfect post to inspire me for day 7. I also cannot wait to get copies of Magic Ramen for my young grandsons and not so young sons. They lived on instant Ramen during their college days LOL. In my opinion, no one is ever too old to enjoy a picture book.

    • Thank you, Laura! I totally agree — you are never too old for picture books! And thank you for your kind words about Magic Ramen. Just goes to show that sometimes an offbeat idea can succeed — in writing and noodlemaking! 🙂

  5. This is my first year in NAPIBOWRIWEE. This has been such a great week. I came into it, not knowing if I would have 7 ideas to work from. I have loved hearing from all the authors this week as well as all the people from this group. Thank you all for inspiring me to keep going this week.

  6. Andrea and the other guest authors inspire such respect– for the enterprise of writing picture books, and for the dedication and perseverance it takes to achieve the best. Together they reinforce the dual message: “This is so worth doing and so hard, but don’t give up.”

    It’s wonderful to come out of this week not only with the raw and rough material I myself have produced, but with seven tangible and very individual stories of success and a list of books I can’t wait to go find in the library.
    Thanks–

    • Yes! Perseverance pays off! It took me about 9 years of writing classes, terrible first drafts, and, um, “eye-opening” critiques before my first picture book was published. Definitely all worth it, though. Congrats on all your progress this week and good luck with your manuscripts!

  7. Thanks for your post Andrea; very inspiring!! Great advice about just getting the story out of your head and on to paper, then working through the details during revision.

    What a week of inspiration, Paula!! Thank you again and again.

    • Thank you, Naana! I often find myself balking at writing the first draft because I could be just a tiny bit of a perfectionist (LOL). I have to force myself to embrace the fact that it will be terrible and just let the words flow. 🙂 Good luck with your writing!

    • Thanks, Susan! I used to take a lot of pottery classes and I’ve been thinking that writing is very similar — you need that big lump of clay/words before you can start to mold and shape it into a beautiful bowl/story. Good luck with your writing!

  8. Andrea, your story is so inspiring! How cool that your manuscript got picked up out of the slush pile 18 months later! Also, thank you for the advice about not getting hung up on the details of writing the first draft. That will be my mindset today as I try to write. 🙂

    • Thanks, Maryna! I have to admit that I almost deleted the email from Albert Whitman because it had been so long since I submitted to them that I completely forgot I did it and thought the email was spam! Thank goodness I kept a spreadsheet of my subs and could look it up. Good luck with your writing!

  9. I love this! Paula illustrates how PB writers find their inspiration—and it is amazing. Ramen is so simple but wonderful—how could a PB not come from that warm bowl.

    Thanks
    holly

    • Thanks, Holly! Inspiration can come from the unlikeliest of places! I have my son’s obsession with instant ramen to thank for inspiring me to write Magic Ramen! 🙂 Good luck with your writing!

  10. Thank you, Andrea, for sharing…I find your words so encouraging!
    And a special thank you to Paula, for the NaPiBoWirWee!
    ❤️

  11. Love the origin story for your first book Andrea!
    I used to make up bedtime stories for my youngest because I was just too tired to hold up a book and turn the pages. We’d lie on her bed with our eyes shut and gradually the pauses between our words would get longer and she would be asleep!

    • Hi Cathy! Not having a book fall on your face when you fall asleep is also a great motivator to make up stories! LOL. I hope you eventually wrote some of those stories down, too. 🙂

  12. Thanks for an insightful interview, Paula and Andrea. I love food stories, and so I can’t wait to read MAGIC RAMEN. I love your advice to “not get hung up on the details” now!

  13. Andrea, thank you for such great post! I loved learning more about your road to publication and love your reminder that we can fine-tune our NaPiBoWriWee manuscripts later. I’m having a little bit of a hard time dealing with the “Thank you, next” feeling that I’m experiencing as I write and move on, so this was just what I needed to hear! <3

    • Yay! Glad it was helpful for you, Jolene! And I think that even though our fingers and active brains may have moved on to the next story idea, our subconscious brains are still working away on the previous manuscripts. Often when I come back to a story that has been put aside for a while, I’ve already subconsciously figured out what needs to change. Good luck with your writing!

  14. Thanks for the reminder that this week is all about just getting the draft out of our heads. Revision comes later. Looking forward to reading Magic Ramen!

  15. Thanks so much for this thoughtful and informative post. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story, Andrea. I love that telling your own children stories led to your writing career. This was a wonderful end to my first NaPiBoWriWee.

  16. Thank you, Andrea! I’m on a similar writing path – expanding a PB into a CB only to rewrite the story as a MG. And I’m so in love with this current MG ms, that I’m surprised to be inspired by your post to write a PB Bio.

    As always, thanks so much Paula! I loved hanging out with you online this week. I’ll end up with 2 PB first drafts and an outline. And that’s ok. I really want to continue writing all 3 stories.

    Hugs for everyone!

  17. Thanks for the inspiration, Andrea. Your writing is delicious! And thanks to Paula, too. This week was just what I needed to push through. I wrote 5 new drafts and tried some different formats.

  18. Thank you Andrea for a fun interview. I love the publishing story of THE NIAN MONSTER. It’s such reassuring story of persistence and hope. All the best!
    And happy day 7!

  19. Great post, Andrea!! Thank you for giving us a peek at your writing journey. I agree that we shouldn’t “… get hung up on the details.” And not to worry about word count, or crafting the perfect rhyme, or digging through sources to find the name of your main character’s son by his second wife. There’s plenty of time to do all that later, during the revision stage.”

  20. I love that you, Andrea, share to just write out your idea and not get caught up in the details. I have only finished 3 drafts start to end, and started others but didn’t finish them due to time and also the words not coming together. All that I’ve written I don’t feel like it’s good, but I love that you share that it’s okay to start with this really rough draft and then work on crafting it to be better.
    Also thank you for sharing that your journey with us.

    I didn’t get any writing done today (yet) but I did get to sit behind my new desk today and announced my new job! I’m starting in a week as the Youth Service Clerk at my library! I think I could only be happier if I: 1. get published 2. Go to Hawaii and of course 3. win Mega Millions.

    Thank you so much Paula for all of these interviews and inspiration. I didn’t meet my goals of 7 completed drafts in the 7 days but I have written and have more ideas. Also I love how positive everyone is with being encouraging and understanding.

    • Congratulations on your new job, Fawn! And congrats on your 3 drafts — that’s 3 more than you had last week, which is amazing! Honestly, I always feel that my first drafts are terrible — and that’s okay. Revision is the key! Hang in there and keep writing!

  21. YES! I’m caught up on the blog! Now I just have to write 5 more stories… in under 7hrs… :/ Yikes!
    If I can write the middle to the draft beginning/end I started earlier today, I’ll be satisfied.
    I loved Andreas perspective & reading of her experience! Thank you!

  22. Thank you for sharing your highs and lows with us on your NAPIBOWRIWEE journey, Paula. Your honesty normalizes the highs and lows we all experience as we attempt to … well… vomit out 7 manuscripts in a row. Okay, that was gross, but feels somewhat accurate. 🙂 How about– as we dump the sand we need in order to shape our manuscripts into castles. Ah, that is a much better image (thank you Shannon Hale).
    Andrea– as you know, I LOVE LOVE LOVE MAGIC RAMEN. This book is gorgeous and important and so well done! Thank you for your inspiring post!
    I managed to squeeze out 5 first drafts and hope to finish one or two more today (I have them planned but not written). I also wrote 2 drafts on the last two days of April. Overall, I feel very good about what I’ve done (and am trying to give myself permission to be okay with 5 drafts during the actual challenge and not 7… yet.)
    I hope everyone had fun! I love this challenge!

    • Aww, thank you so much, Lauren! Congrats on all the drafts you’ve written – that’s awesome! Looking forward to your book launch soon!

      BTW, I also call them “vomit drafts,” LOL!

  23. Great interview, Andrea. I loved the story about your children and running out of stories to read when in Shanghai so making up your own. Fitting as we look at our own drafts and story ideas.

  24. Thank you Andrea! I loved MAGIC RAMEN for how it focused on the process of invention and really narrowed in on that. So interesting to see how it started.

    And thank you Paula for a great NaPiBoWriWee!

  25. This is such a great interview!! I started this journey by telling stories to my babies, too. AND we’re having ramen for dinner tonight.

    I also love the advice about banging out a draft. I shall go and try to do just that.

    P.S. Paula—definitely be kind to yourself. This challenge was amazing, and you are so kind to put it on. I’m so grateful to you for all the work you put into this week, and I shall paraphrase something you said at the beginning—even one draft is still an awesome accomplishment! I hope you get to take a nap soon. 😊

  26. Great article! And definitely give yourself some grace! Writing 7 MS in 7 days is a huge undertaking! I’ve absolutely LOVED this event and I’m so glad I participated! Of my 7 drafts, I absolutely love the potential in 3 of them and I’m going to start editing those. The other 4 were tons of fun and I learned a lot, even if they never make it beyond this week. I’m also looking forward to going back and reading all of your blog posts from this week. I’ve been so busy that I had to let something go and reading the blog was it. But I’m definitely going to catch up because it looks like one incredible week of posts!

  27. Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your story. It was encouraging to hear that the first draft of Magic Ramen was way too long and dull. And look what a wonderful PB became.
    And thank you to Paula for NaPiBoWriWee! It is such a great push to finish drafts. I still have to write today’s draft. I have an idea, so I’m going to write it down.

    • Thank you, Darcee! Someday I will get up the courage to write a blog post comparing the first draft and the final manuscript for Magic Ramen. 🙂 Good luck with your writing!

  28. So fun and so exhausting! What a great 7 days. I love Andrea’s interview…”But the story idea was finally out of my head and down on paper.” Yes! Just get that words on the paper. Thank you to Paula, Andrea, and all of the other wonderful authors!
    I have 7 drafts done and 15 picture books on hold from the library. A successful week!

  29. thank you Andrea for a great interview. I love power tools too – and the right tool for the job – I just wish there was a Power Pencil to make writing picture books a little easier!

    • Oh, a Power Pencil would be fantastic! I dream about having a telepathic dictation app — I could just think sentences at it and it would type them out for me! 🙂 Good luck with your writing!

  30. Thank you for the encouragement to keep writing! One of best experiences I had during this week was the freedom of being “forced” to finish a story. I often get hung up on the small details during a first draft, but pushing through to get a story done and refine it later took me down some amazing plot paths!

    • Yes! So glad you had that experience! It’s so fun to see where your subconscious takes you when you can let go and not worry about the details! Good luck with your writing!

  31. 18 months in the slush pile, wow, what a lovely surprise to hear from a publisher after that long. I think Magic Ramen sounds like a great story and I love that it was so long before you reshaped it. Great post to end the writing week with. Thanks again, Paula and Andrea.

  32. ANDREA: Your post was SO INSPIRING–THANK YOU!! I especially LOVE that you’ve reminded us there is a story behind EVERYTHING–including Raman Noodles!!! SO FASCINATING!!! I am in the same boat when it comes to word length issues, so I was TRULY INSPIRED by your leap from pic book to early reader to novel! And yet, you are still able to work those words down for other pic book manuscripts. THANK YOU for giving me HOPE!!! I also LOVE how you said to just get the words down on paper, because the goal of NAPIBOWRIWEE is to have “something tangible to work with later.” I have been saying that to myself every day this week, too. And it’s something we should all keep in mind EVERY DAY of the year–not just during this FABULOUS KICK-BUTT WEEK!!! THANK YOU!!! Tuesday was an EVERYTHING LANDS ON AND MUST BE DONE Day. *SIGH* I didn’t get to work on my story until the wee hours of Wed. Still, even though I was exhausted . . . I WROTE. And even though I didn’t quite finish (or start, for that matter) by the deadline . . . I WROTE. This week has helped me to do just that . . . write again. THANK YOU!!!

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