Monday, November 24, 2014

Meet a GROGer: Tina Cho! ~By Suzy Leopold


ALL ABOUT TINA CHO

When did you first know that you would like to be a writer?    
Tina Cho
A beautiful smile!
I’m not one who always dreamed of writing. In fact, I hated writing papers in college. But while I was an elementary teacher, I fell in love with picture books and wanted to write a book to leave a legacy for my children. And growing up, I loved reading. 


Title page from a forthcoming book

            In 2008, I had an unplanned career change. We moved from Arizona to California, and during the hard economic times, I was unable to find a teaching job. So I surrendered to God’s leading, and He led me to the SCBWI web site. Someone there gave me Nancy I. Sander’s information because she headed a critique group in my area. She invited me, took me under her wing, and I took off learning all I 
could about the craft of children’s writing. 
My two kids next to a rice field.
What inspires you to write? How do you come up with ideas that you want to write about?
Most of my ideas come from my two children and the activities and places we go. When they’re playing together, I often eavesdrop. I hear good imaginative thinking that I jot down in my idea notebook. Also, when we go on family outings to some place new, a story idea churns in my head. It’s not too hard when you’re overseas.
The Cho Family 
Share your author history . . . How long had you been writing until you became published? 


I began writing the fall of 2008 and my first acceptance came three weeks later. This wasn’t for a book, but a children’s story for a private school’s reading curriculum. I became part of their cadre of freelance writers and sold over 20 stories to them. Since then I’ve published many articles, lesson plans, guided reading books, a coloring book, etc…much for the educational market. I have three nonfiction books forthcoming from Legacy Press Kids and something else in the works that I don’t want to reveal yet.
A Sweet Surprise
A rebus story
What words of wisdom or advice do you have for *writers under construction*?

It’s so important to find a critique group! I’m in two online picture book critique groups, and I’ve learned so much. Writers need a community to cheer each other on and to learn from each other. 

And also since getting a book published traditionally takes so long, it's important for authors to see their names in print via other ways so they stay encouraged. Be proactive. Don't be afraid to write for other markets such as magazines, educational markets, etc. . . . Send out queries to publishers and get contracts to write. I've written about some of these other ways on our  Grog blog.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 

Nancy I. Sanders has been a terrific mentor to me since I first began, and I continue to email her with any questions.
Tina Cho and Nancy Sanders
If you could invite anyone to dinner who would you choose?

I would invite everyone in my critique groups. After years of having an online relationship, it would be wonderful to meet face to face.
What is your current WIP? 
My writing area
*Pictures drawn by my kids 
*Roses made out of soap from hubby
* A special Bible verse
*All my notebooks I use for projects and stories

I’m pretty much always on some kind of work-for-hire assignment for the educational market. But since I’m also in Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 challenge group, I write one new picture book draft each month. 
Do you have any hidden talents you want to share?
I play the piano. (I used to be the church and college pianist.)
Share something about yourself that very few people may know about.
For those who don’t know, I grew up in Iowa and am now living in South Korea. I’m homeschooling my two kiddos while writing. And I love Dr. Pepper; it helps me write—seriously! Thankfully, some places carry it here in Korea!
Seoul, South Korea
Where can readers find out more about you?

www.tinamcho.com 
Bio: Tina is an author of 25 guided reading books from Lakeshore Learning and Compass Media. A coloring book, God Is So Good, from Warner Press was published in 2013. Three nonfiction books are forthcoming from Legacy Press Kids.
A fun way to tour Korea.

Tina is a former elementary teacher who currently homeschools her 7th grade daughter and 4th grade son. Though she grew up in Iowa, she now lives outside of Seoul, South Korea.

Thank you for the interview, Tina. So nice to learn more about you, your family and your writing journey. I look forward to meeting you in person.

29 comments:

  1. So wonderful to learn more about you and your writing, Tina, and I'm looking forward to hearing more about your forthcoming books! I also found Nancy a few years back and she kindly directed me to an online critique group. She's so helpful!

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca. That's neat you've also been helped by Nancy!

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  2. What a cool interview. Thanks for sharing, Tina and Suzy!

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  3. Great to learn more about you, Tina! Much continued success to you!

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    1. Thanks, Jane, for stopping by today!

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  4. Tina and Suzy lovely post! Isn't it wonderful how God often takes us by the hand. Love the pictures of your family. Many blessings as you continue with your good work.

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    1. Thanks, Janie! Yes, it is comforting to know God holds our hand!

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  5. It's a pleasure to know you better, Tina. Thanks, Suzy! I wish you much success with your projects. Like you, I've discovered that Nancy Sanders is incredibly generous with her knowledge!

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    1. Thanks, Pat! I'm looking forward to reading about the rest of you GROGers!

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  6. LOVEd getting to know Tina better. Thanks, Suzy! I love Nancy Sanders, too. I met her on Muse on line writing conference one year and have her book. I don't practice what she teaches though. She teaches to write on all things and to leave what you love last. I guess I pretty much always write what I love most all the time.

    ( I am retired and can do thatJ)

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  7. What a pleasure to interview each other. Such a joy to get to know Tina. You are very talented. Thank you for sharing your writing journal with us, Tina. Thank you Clar, Pat, Janie, Jane, Marcie and Rebecca for meeting my GROG friend. And a BIG thank you to Tina. ~Suzy

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    1. Thanks again, Suzy, for the interview! Fun.

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    2. Spell check: writing journey

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  8. Tina, I did not know you used to live in Az and CA! Wow, Nancy I. Sanders was one of your CP's? So much fun to know more about you. Suzy, great interview - you guys made an awesome team. Excellent questions.

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    1. Kathy, I used to teach in Surprise, AZ! Too bad I didn't know you then.

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  9. I so enjoyed hearing about your writing journey, Tina. Isn't it amazing how God leads us? What a blessing Nancy has been to you. And how exciting to hear about your upcoming publications!

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    1. Oh, thanks, Jarm! Yes, it's amazing how God leads us!

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  10. Awww, Tina! Thanks for your kind words. You are a treasured friend and writing peer. And I didn't know you knew how to play the piano, too! God has given you many talents!!!!

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    1. I guess we never sang at our CHAIRS meeting, huh, Nancy?! I couldn't played. :)

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  11. Thanks, Suzy, for interviewing Tina. It's wonderful to learn more about my fellow GROGgers. Tina, I'm so glad you found a mentor in Nancy -- you've certainly made some great strides in your writing!

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    1. Thanks so much, Patty! Looking forward to all of your interviews!

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  12. Great interview! I loved learning more about you Ms. Cho! :D

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  13. Tina, so fantastic to get to know you better. I am continually amazed at the talent in this Grog group. What a fantastic story and you are a marvelous writer! So glad to know you.

    TB

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    1. Thanks so much, Todd! Looking forward to your interview as well.

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  14. Dear Suzy & Tina, It is quite a lot of fun to get to know each other thru this series. I luv seeing all the color photographs from Tina's life & to hear each success, step by step.
    I can only imagine the incredible historical & cultural sites Tina & her family are visiting in Korea. They are bound to lead to children's picture books, I feel. I have friends & family in CA & the same in AZ so we have that in common, Tina! Suzy you did a mighty fine job with the Qs for Tina's As.
    Happy Holidays!

    ~ j a n

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  15. Thank you, Jan. I look forward to future interviews about all of the GROGers. It was such a delight to get to know Tina. ~Suzy

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