Monday, May 18, 2015

How to Write about Your Culture/Heritage Part 1 by Tina Cho

Seoul, South Korea
Getting published is hard. You already know that. But there are ways to break into the market that I've written about in this Grog blog such as the educational market and Christian market. Another way to break in is the cultural market. Publishers are hungry for cultural stories and activities. 

Little did I know that this Iowa girl would marry a guy from South Korea and that we would move there! I've been in the Seoul area for four years now. And over the years we've been married, I have been curious about Korean culture. Now you might not have lived in another country or married into a different culture, but you do have a heritage to share with this generation. What are some traditions and customs unique to your family? 

Below are my tips to break into this market with real anecdotes from my writing life. Maybe something will strike a chord with you and plod you in the right creative direction.
sightseeing on Nami Island
1. Hunt for ideas.

  • Read books about your culture.
  • Sightsee (my favorite) A museum, a sign on a statue, or a cultural place might hold a golden nugget.
  • Interview relatives~I ask my in-laws questions about their holidays.
  • Look through your cookbook~A recipe from your heritage might spark a story. Or you can publish the recipe in a magazine.
  • List folk tales from your culture~ Are there any that haven't been written about?
  • Check the Google Doodle~Since my computer recognizes that I'm in Korea, I see the Korean Google Doodles as well as the American ones and always check them out. They list a famous person's birthday or anniversary of some cool invention. I've listed many ideas from these. 
wearing traditional clothing for Lunar New Year


2. Find that fresh angle that hasn't been done before. For example, Lunar New Year is huge, but there are already picture books about it. I googled the second biggest holiday in Korea and found only one picture book. So I wrote my story about it using a Korean poetic form.

one of my 1st publications, my kids on the cover!

3. Look for unique markets. As you know, I'm not a grandma, but one of my first publications was in Grand, an e-zine for grandparents! I checked their needs and sent off a query. The editor emailed that she wanted an article about a family with a set of close grandparents and a set of long-distance grandparents and how they kept the balance. (At this time, we were living in California.) I emailed the editor back and told her both sets of our grandparents were long-distance, one set in Iowa, and one set in South Korea so I wouldn't be able to help her. But she came up with the idea of my writing an article on how my kids kept a relationship with their overseas grandparents. This led to a contract, and my children were on the cover of the e-zine. She sent a photographer to my house to do a photo shoot with my kids! In the article I not only shared my ideas, but it also has a Korean cultural flair, and the editor asked for a recipe. I share this with you so that you'll look in unique places for getting published.

I hope this post has your brain thinking of some great story ideas. Stay tune for part 2!


 



29 comments:

  1. Tina, such grew advice and what fun to see your charming kiddos, too. Wow - they are on the cover! I never heard of this e-zine and may check it out for a story idea. I am a grandma and dana book club for grandparents. Bravo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kathy. Yes, do check out that e-zine. I'm sure you can come up with great ideas! In fact, they still send it to me for free since I had that article.

      Delete
    2. I really enjoyed this story Tina. Thanks for sharing your ideas...sounds like a great way to get into some new markets. Multicultural stories at hot now. Mining our "roots" is a great way to tap in.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Darlene. Yes, it's a hot topic and should provide many opportunities to get published.

      Delete
  2. You are so very inspiring in so many ways, Tina! I LOVE the cultural heritage angle and I'd love to read your e-zine article. Is it still online somewhere?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Laura. I can email it to you.

      Delete
  3. Tina, This is a terrific post! Thanks so much for sharing your insights on how to tap into the cultural market. And as Darlene mentioned above, multicultural stories are in great demand these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Robin. And I think you might have some good French cultural stories to tell!

      Delete
  4. Thank you for your sharing your writing experiences on this subject! I've been thinking about writing a story about my culture, and you've given me the nudge I need. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great, Lynn! And I share more tips next month.

      Delete
  5. Great tips, Tina! (And way cute kiddos, too!)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great ideas for us, Tina. You amaze me with all the avenues you have to 'keep on writing'!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jarm. I can't believe you read this on your trip!

      Delete
  7. Wonderful tip as always, Tina! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great ideas, Tina! Looking forward to part 2. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Patty! You'll have to wait til June!

      Delete
  9. Seeing your two sweeties on the cover of a magazine is exciting. How fortunate for your kids to have the love of two sets of grandparents that includes Midwest values from Iowa and traditions from South Korea, Tina. Thank your sharing your story with a unique market, the magazine, Grand.
    ~Suzy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Suzy! Yes, that was so much fun! I want to frame it someday.

      Delete
  10. Appreciations Tina. I can't get enough of your fascinating across the world experience & immersion in the lovely culture of Korea.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for the inspiring ideas, Tina! Great post. The fact that your kids are cover models for your story makes it that much more special! Love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Romelle! Yes, that was indeed a surprise!

      Delete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Tina,
    Thanks for the great post and it is fun to see photos of your beautiful children. Not only is it interesting to see how you have approached the needs in the market for cultural stories but also that you seem to find different markets like the Grand e-zine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, in the beginning of my writing career, I was looking for easy ways to get published.

      Delete
  15. Thanks for the wonderful tips for sparking inspiration and for unique markets. Great post, Tina.

    ReplyDelete