Thursday, March 27, 2008

Welcome Camy Tang and Win a Copy of Only Uni!

The F.A.I.T.H. ladies are happy to welcome Camy Tang today to celebrate the release of Only Uni. I loved Sushi for One? and can't wait to read the new story! Camy has been nice enough to answer our questions. If you leave a comment today, you'll be entered in a drawing for a copy of Only Uni. Please leave your contact information in case you win!

Lindi: Hi Camy! How do you start a story? Do you delve into the characters? Or focus more on the plot? Plotter or pantster? In other words, how much prep work do you do before you start your story?

Camy: I am a die-hard plotter. I’m so anal, I scare people. I have used Randy Ingerman’s Snowflake method, but I also combine it with the Hero or Heroine’s Journey from 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. I rely heavily on spreadsheets, which makes some of my writer friends back away from the crazy woman.

Jenn: Since you decided to brand yourself with Asian chick-lit, I was wondering about your readership development. Now that you have two books out, are you noticing a lot of Asian readers or a mix of everyone?

Camy: Actually, I have more non-Asian readers than Asian readers. The majority of my Asian readers really like my novels because the issues and culture and family are the same as their own experience, but I’m also getting reader letters from non-Asian readers who tell me their German grandmother is just like Grandma Sakai! (which is kind of scary) I write my novels specifically for non-Asian readers, to give them a glimpse of Asian American culture. Most readers really like that.

Jenn: Camy, you did a lot of research and networking before you were published. In spite of all that knowledge you gleaned along the way, what surprised you most after you received your publishing contract? What did you feel most unprepared for?

Camy: To be perfectly honest, the editing I received on my manuscripts was just beyond any critiques I’d ever gotten. My editors are FABULOUS, and they looked at big-picture and character arc issues that none of my critique partners had even touched on. My edits were very intense in terms of strengthening my story structure and refining my characters.

Angie: Camy, since you built a readership and network beforehand, and we are trying to do the same thing, can you share the reader-building activities that were most successful? What were the networking things that really worked? And what are you continuing to do?
Camy: My blog was probably the best use of my time. Very early on, I branded my writing and my blog, and so as I built up a blog readership, I ensured that I attracted blog readers who would want to read the type of fiction I wrote. I blogged about Asiana, I blogged about funny stuff. I didn’t do devotionals or very many serious posts, I limited the number of writer-focused blog posts because I wanted to attract readers, I didn’t blog about anything outside of my reader demographic—Christian fiction readers, mostly women, from teenagers to those in their 40s. This kind of targeted blogging worked for me.
I was also good about setting up an informative website and a newsletter group. I ran contests specifically for my newsletter YahooGroup members so that I would gain more subscribers. In fact, I have a contest going on right now to celebrate the release of ONLY UNI. I’m giving away 5 boxes of Christian fiction books (again, targeting my reader demographic of Christian fiction readers) and 25 copies of ONLY UNI, and it’s only open to members of my newsletter YahooGroup (which encourages people to join).
Angie: Also, in writing your series of three books, what pitfalls have you discovered and overcome?
Camy: I am not as self-disciplined as I wish I was. It’s very frustrating. I’ve gotten better with each book, but I still spend too much time in the plotting stage when I should just make do with a partial outline and WRITE the darn manuscript.
I’ve discovered my Alphasmart to be the best thing I have to combat my lack of self-discipline and my tendency to be distracted. Since my Alphasmart is ultra portable, I can go anywhere. Since it only shows 4 lines, it reduces my tendency to edit as I write. And since it doesn’t have internet access, I’m not distracted by email and the web.
Missy: Camy, do you use any plotting workbooks or charts when planning a story? Any favorite reference books?
Camy: I’ve found the Hero or Heroine’s Journey to be a great tool for me. Psychologically, our brains are wired so that the structure of the Hero and Heroine’s Journeys resonate with us, which is why they work so well. I take a blank Word document and paste in the stages of the Hero/Heroine’s Journey, and then start filling in the blanks.
I also rely heavily on spreadsheets to help me plot out my scenes. I write a very detailed scene outline in a spreadsheet, which helps me to structure each scene and makes it easy for me to move scenes around if I have to.
Missy: I’ve had the opportunity of watching Camy work on a writing retreat. She knits for a bit, then all of a sudden tosses it aside and begins to type like a madwoman! :) Camy, what’s going on in your head while you’re knitting? Are you working out a whole scene or bits of dialogue? Or are you plotting?
Camy: It depends at what stage I’m at. If I’m still plotting the story, I’m typically trying to work out a plot problem. If I’m past the plotting and writing the manuscript, I’m usually thinking about what to type next.
Something about the tactile stimulation of knitting helps my brain work better, so I can come up with ideas much faster. I make sure I knit something that’s relatively mindless because anything complicated would defeat the purpose, but the knitting really does help me create.

Missy: Thanks for being with us today, Camy!

Camy: Thanks for having me here! You guys rock!

Camy Tang is the loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick lit. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away five boxes of books and 25 copies of her latest release, ONLY UNI.


  1. Camy and Missy, great interview!

    Camy, I'm a plotter so your method really interested me. And you inspired me to blog more faithfully.

    Thanks gals!

  2. Awesome post--even if you do

  3. ...Tina says as if it's a bad word.

    LOL! Thanks for stopping by, ladies.

    Camy, thanks for answering all our questions!

  4. Camy,

    Even though I've only read your excerpts and blog posts, I love your writing voice. Now I have to go put your books on my shopping list so that next time I'm in The City (small town girl here) I can look for them. Here's to many more Asiana successes!

  5. Susie, I love Camy's voice. It's fresh and young. And I've mentioned before she uses lots of strong verbs in her books! :)

    Thanks for stopping by! I'll enter you in the drawing for Only Uni.

  6. Hey, ladies, great interview. Camy you just look so HAPPY in that picture.
    Nice going.
    Loved Sushi for One and ONLY UNI

  7. Thanks so much for the fun interview, guys! And thanks to everyone who stops by!

  8. Camy,

    Thanks for the interview. We appreciate all your advice.

  9. Susie,

    You're the winner of Only Uni! Please contact me at missytippens [at] aol [dot] com so I can get your information to Camy.



  10. Snowflake Method??? Spreadsheets??? PLOTTING??? I have tried, I truly have. But it just makes me break out in a cold sweat with an overwhelming urge to throw the computer out the window and run for the hills!