Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pub Story: Cindy Pon

Author guest blogs + publication paths = Pub Stories. It's a Tuesday thing. Click here for more info (esp. if you're an author wanting to participate). Click here for a list of all participants.

Cindy Pon on herself: "i am a stay at home mom whose debut novel SILVER PHOENIX : Beyond the Kingdom of Xia will be released on APRIL 28, 2009. it’s a YA asian fantasy to be published by greenwillow books, an imprint of harpercollins. the sequel and a children’s picture book with my chinese brush art will follow! when i’m not writing or painting, i like to read, daydream, travel, eat and watch films in the theatre. and i love pastries, chai lattes and taiwanese food! =D" Find out more about her at

The Story
thank you steph, for inviting me to do a guest blog on
"my pub story". it couldn't come at a more meaningful
time, as my debut YA novel, Silver Phoenix : Beyond the
Kingdom of Xia is out on april 28.

today, while i was cleaning out my desk, i came across
a short two page essay written on april 10, 2006 titled
"novel idea". i wrote about my love for the fantasy genre as
well as my fascination with the chinese culture--and why
not combine my two loves and write a novel?
"i have a few scenes in mind, although whether they are
all interesting or pivotal to the plot and character development,
i cannot say. i do know for certain that i do not have enough
scenes or ideas to create an entire novel right now."

i've written creatively since i was in elementary school,
but i never ever considered myself "a writer". i stopped
writing all through my 20's, being too busy with college,
travel, marriage and grad school. but after having my two
bubs in my early thirties, i returned to my first love, and
thought i'd try writing a novel, for fun. i needed something
to call my own again.

it was probably one of the most difficult things i ever did.
it takes a lot of dedication, a lot of belief in your story and
your characters, to make it all the way to the end. and when
i was done with the novel, i took another year to revise it six
times with the help of critique friends' comments.

after all of that, i thought, maybe i'll try and get an agent
and maybe--haha!--get it published. it was a pipe
dream. at the same time, i really loved my story, my world,
my characters. i felt that i owed it to them, and myself, to at
least try. after three months of querying 121 agent and getting
nearly as many rejections, i was fortunate enough to sign
with bill contardi of brandt and hochman.

we went on submission immediately to eight publishers, and i just waited, clicking my inbox every other minute to see if there was news. after a few rejections, i asked if we would submit to any other editors, or wait to hear from the rest. agent bill said, let's wait. ten minutes later, he emailed to say, correction, i'm subbing to greenwillow books. my editor from greenwillow was the first to put an offer on the table and two others were also interested--my book went to auction without my even realizing. i knew what was happening, but the idea never dawned on me until one of the editors used the term. i spoke with all three editors on the phone, wanting to gauge their personalities, their feel for my novel, what they wanted to change during the revising process. i scheduled these phone calls between nap times and making lunches for the bubs. the whole process was very very surreal. was i really speaking to editors from the top publishing houses in new york city?

agent bill was a superstar every step of the way, a voice of calm
and experience in the (my) face of unbridled excitement, nerves
and utter cluelessness. he stressed from the start that it wasn't
about the money offered on the table, it was about finding an editor
i connected with, finding the right house for my novel.
i really liked my editor, virginia, from the start, and
chose to go with greenwillow books. i couldn't have made
a better decision. SILVER PHOENIX was
sold in may 2008, and since then, she has never looked back.

but i have, as a debut author, often looked back in stunned wonderment
compared to where i am today. my debut will be out there in the big wide
reading world--and it's nothing short of a fantastic childhood dream come true.
like all debut authors, i'm a little anxious, a lot obsessive, still slightly
clueless and lost. but i wouldn't change this loop-de-loop coaster
ride for anything else! =)


Further: You may wonder about Cindy's writing style--I know I did! It's like a mix of prose in verse format or something. So I asked her and she said:

the strange habit began back
in frosh year of college--when we just
got email. (i know, wt! 1991!)
i used these crappy little computers with

crappy monitors and i really couldn't type all the way to the end of the screen i mean this is just killing
me sort of stuck! =)
and i didn't even make it to the end of the line. ha!

Interesting, no? It's just an online thing--her novel's written in the same format as any other--but it's a fun trivia thingo for those interested.


Lenore Appelhans said...

Wow - that's really quick from what I hear. I have this novel up next so this is quite timely.

cindy said...

yay! thanks, steph!! =D

Shelly B said...

LOVE this new feature and I can't wait for Cindy's book!

Anonymous said...

Haha I write the same way sometimes!

Amee said...

Her writing is very lyrical. For some reason the way she writes makes me think she must be very soft spoken.

H said...

Very cool. I bet having a book go to auction was really exciting.

Liviania said...

I wondered about the writing style!

I'm looking forward to this book very much, as an East Asian history geek.

Unknown said...

Cindy, I enjoyed reading about you and your story. Writing does take commitment. So many times one deals with writer's block, then comes procrastination.The process does call for believing in yourself. At Interactivity that promotes successful pursuit of life goals. Many goals to choose from, "Write a Book" is one of them.

Diana Dang said...

I am really looking forward to her new book!

cindy said...

thank you, everyone! amee, i'm afraid i am very loud in real life. eee! =)

Llehn said...

Hi Cindy *waves*

Thanks for the interview! I just wanted to say that SILVER PHOENIX is the best book I've read in a while. The prose is gorgeous and you have an MC that is a good balance of spunk and vulnerability plus great storytelling. What more could one ask for? And that last scene is so heart wrenching ... I am already looking forward to the sequel.


Thao said...

Cool story. I like the way Cindy writes, it's fun. And it's cool to learn that the book went to auction.

Sarah Woodard said...

Awesome story.

lkmadigan said...

Great interview!!


Rebecca Herman said...

Great post! I'm reading Silver Phoenix right now and enjoying it so far.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Querying 121 agents? That means there's still hope for me! Thank you for that!

I've been seeing this book on different blogs and it's in my Amazon cart. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Ann-Kat said...

I just tumbled across this pub story, and I find it a sign from above because this is the *fourth* random crossing I've had with Silver Phoenix while traveling online. There goes another book to add to my "must get" list. :D

And if the book's flow is anything like Cindy's pub story writing style, something tells me I'm going to enjoy reading it very much.

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