Friday, October 19, 2012


Today I have two treats for you.

NO,
It has nothing to do with Halloween.

These are Natasha Yim style treats . . .

#1
Sacajawea of the Shoshone

If you have read Natasha Yim's other wonderful books
you will understand why I call this new epic a "treat." 



I am very happy to be a part of the Book Tour that introduces
this new addition to many readers book shelves. 

Natasha Yim is a children’s book author, freelance writer, and playwright. She is the author of three picture books: Otto’s Rainy Day (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000), which was a Kids' Pick of the Lists selection, Cixi, The Dragon Empress (Goosebottom Books, 2011), and the just released Sacajawea of the Shoshone (Goosebottom Books, 2012), the biography of the Shoshone teenager who traveled the American West with Lewis and Clark. Sacajawea of the Shoshone is an addition to Goosebottom Books’ award-winning first series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses.
Natasha has also published articles in Highlights for Children, Appleseeds, Faces, Vibrant Life, Mendocino Arts and other local and regional magazines, and her ten-minute plays have been performed at Mendocino Community College in Ukiah, Pegasus Theatre in Guerneville, Secret Rose Theatre in Los Angeles, and at the Short and Sweet Ten Minute Theatre Festivals in Sydney and Brisbane, Australia. 
Natasha’s next picture book Goldy Luck and The Three Pandas will be released by Charlesbridge Publishing in January 2014.

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                                                Treat #2 
                                                   Inside Natasha Yim . . .


*Has writing been a lifelong passion, or an interest that recently surprised you?

I've wanted to be a writer since I was about 11, so I can say that writing's pretty much been a lifelong passion for me. I received a creative writing assignment in my 7th grade English class and I was hooked! I used to journal a lot as a teen and I'd keep notebooks where I wrote poetry and short stories.

*Have you always been interested in American Indian history?

I have a little Native American ancestry in me and my ancestor has a really interesting story. I'm not sure how much of it is true and how much of it has been romanticized over the years, but the story I've grown up with is that my great-great-great grandfather, Chin Chun Hock, went to America to seek his fortune leaving Wife #1 in China. He eventually settled in Seattle and started a very successful merchandizing business. He is now known as the first Chinese settler in Seattle and his business, the Wa Chong Company, is frequently credited as the business that started Seattle's Chinatown. During his time here, he met and married a Native American woman who was the daughter of a chief. Family lore states she was one of the daughter of Chief Seattle and his second wife. However, my sister made some inquiries to the Duwamish tribe and the tribe disputes this saying that all his children were accounted for and they don't have any records of any of them having married a Chinese man. In spite of this historical discrepancy, Chun Hock did have a Native American wife with whom he had 3 sons (I actually have a photograph of her and 2 of her boys as children). Also according to family lore, Wife #1, who was childless, heard about this, traveled all the way to America unchaperoned, quite a feat for a Chinese woman of the time, kidnapped the three sons and ran back to China with them. Eventually, Chun Hock returned to China and the Native American woman followed suit in search of her sons. It is believed she died in China. You can imagine, this story has always intrigued my writer sensibilities, and it's still a story I very much want to tell one day either in fiction or non-fiction form, so I did grow up with a fascination for Native American history and culture, although at the time it was limited to my great-great-great grandmother's particular history. Until I was an adult, we didn't even have any idea what tribe she was from.

*How did you find your publisher?

The publisher, Goosebottom Books (www.goosebottombooks.com ) is a small, independent press that started in 2010 with their first series The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses featuring 6 amazing women in history. The second series, The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Dastardly Dames featured powerful women in history with dastardly reputations. All six books in the first series were written by the publisher Shirin Bridges, but for the second series, the publisher and editor Amy Novesky put out a call for submissions for 1,000 word writing samples. I sent mine in and was one of 6 writers selected to write one of the books in the Dastardly Dames series. Cixi, The Dragon Empress was released in Oct. 2011. Both series received critical acclaim and the Princesses series was awarded the IPPY silver medal for best multi-cultural, juvenile non-fiction. So when Goosebottom Books decided to add a Native American and an African woman to the mix of historical women and asked if I would write one of them, I jumped at the chance. I chose to write about the Native American woman because of my ancestry and I suggested Sacajawea because of my fascination with her story.

*Do you find research fun and interesting, and how deep did you have to delve for this book?

Research can be a lot of fun and I always find very interesting facts about my subjects. For me, there's a slight bit of groaning when I first begin because research can also be daunting and overwhelming, particularly when I find a wealth of information and I'm trying to funnel it down to 2,000 words for a children's story. With Sacajawea, there was such a lot of neat historical and cultural information that it was quite difficult at times deciding what should go in the book, in the sidebar, or left out completely.

I found that not much of Sacajawea's story was told in adult books. She usually gets a mention in books about Lewis and Clark, but there were quite a few books written about her in the juvenile section of the library. I read about 5 or 6 books about her and perused a ton of websites. Sacajawea's story has always appealed to me because it's such a great adventure story and to travel all that way with Lewis and Clark, through the rugged American West, with a baby in tow just showed what a remarkable woman she was. While doing the research on her, I discovered that she was kidnapped from her Shoshone tribe by Hidatsa warriors at the age of 11 or 12 and taken 500 miles away to the Hidatsa village along the banks of the Missouri River. The Hidatsa and Shoshone had vastly different lifestyles, languages, culture and foods. Not only did Sacajawea have to adapt to this new environment but what she learned from both tribes played a big part in her adventure later on. I read some books on Hidatsa and Shosone culture and stories and found it totally fascinating.

*Do you ever plan to write for an adult audience?

At one time in my writing career, I thought I might want to write an adult book some day. But lately, I've discovered that I actually have NO interest in writing for adults. I am moving from picture book projects to middle grade and young adults though and I enjoy the freedom this gives me because you are less restricted by language and word count perimeters. So, I'm moving towards an older audience but if a picture book idea grabs me, I'll still write it. I currently also have a picture book project in the works.

*Are your family supportive of your writing – or mainly uninterested?

They are very supportive. I have 3 kids and my oldest daughter is often one of my first readers. She'll give me her pre-teen perspective on things and I'll brainstorm ideas with her sometimes, particularly when I'm stuck on something. She's also helped me set up books at book events and been part of the audience at my book launches and readings. My husband supports me by letting me go to writer's conferences and retreats where I can not only learn my craft and network, but rejuvenate myself. However, I think he's only just now beginning to understand that I'm not going to bring in the kind of income JK Rowling does and to understand what a lot of hard work it all is to not only create books that are published but what it takes to market and promote them as well.

Both my daughters are very interested in writing stories and my middle child has declared that she wants to be a writer when she grows up, so I'm very proud of the fact that through seeing my creative process and through my reading to them a ton when they were little, it has inspired their own love of writing. 

*Are you in a critique group, and if so, did their feedback prove helpful?

Yes, I'm in my second critique group. The first one I was in lasted for 8 years then the members went their separate ways. This current group is a small one with only 4 members, but they're all such wonderful writers and their feedback is always insightful and very helpful. It's also a great place to go for camaraderie and support. We'll sometimes go to writing conferences or writing retreats together, and we celebrate each other's successes. We're all so busy though that we don't meet terribly often, maybe once every six weeks. My last group met every two weeks but I think every 6 weeks seem to work for us at the moment. I think every writer should have a critique group. Getting feedback from others about your work is invaluable. There are often things you don't pick up about pacing, language, characterizations, plot holes etc. about your own writing. If your writing group can spot writing errors, so can your readers.

*There are others in this series, right? – do tell us about them.

Yes, Sacajawea is a new addition to Goosebottom Book's first series, The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses. The series features women, real-life princesses, who have attained amazing achievements in spite of incredible odds and made their mark on history. The princesses are: Hatshepsut of India, Sorghatani of Mongolia (the mother of Kublai Khan), Isabella of Castille, Nur Jahan of India, Artemisia of Caria, Qutlugh Terkan Khatoun of Kirman, and now Sacajawea. These women defied the cultural and gender biases of their times to accomplish extraordinary feats (Artemisia became an admiral and led a navy into war, Nur Jahan rode an elephant into battle, Hatshepsut became the first female pharoah). They're stories of empowerment for girls, and they span across different times, countries, and cultures, and every book has sidebars that include "What She Ate", "What She Wore", and "Where She Lived" which gives readers some historical context and a glimpse into the lifestyles of the time period in which these women lived.

*How can people buy your books – paper, Kindle, ebook or all three?

The book is in hardcover and can be purchased at your local bookstore, from the publisher's website: www.goosebottombooks.com, the distributor's website: www.ipgbook.com, from Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles.com, and on my website: www.natashayim.com.

*What do you think a book's plot and characters must have to GRAB the red hot interest of this teckie minded younger generation – even nonfiction needs to HOOK the reader.

Compelling characters that your readers can relate to. Sometimes with non-fiction, it's easy to get bogged down with the details and historical facts. In Sacajawea's case, there were so many little interesting tidbits about her and the Lewis and Clark expedition (some of these ended in the sidebars), and in my last book Cixi, The Dragon Empress, the political climate and intrigues of Cixi's day really informed how she responded to situations as a ruler and a person. It's tempting to put all this in. My editor kept asking me one key phrase, "What is her story?"  Behind the factual and historical data is the story of how a woman from a modest upbringing, entered the Forbidden City, bore the emperor's only son, and became the most powerful person in China, the first time a woman had accomplished this in 1,000 years. It's the story of how a young Native American girl faced and survived the most traumatic event of her life—being kidnapped by an enemy tribe—to be taken on the adventure of a lifetime and become the most famous woman in American history. How must Cixi have felt to first see the opulence of the Forbidden City, and for Sacajawea to be reunited with her brother and her Shoshone tribe again after six years? What must Cixi have thought when she saw her beloved Summer Palace lying in ruins after the foreign powers invaded Peking, or Sacajawea when she finally saw the pounding waves of the Pacific Ocean? Of course, I didn't have first hand knowledge of this, and the challenge was trying to make these incidents visual or personal enough so kids can sense the horror, awe, anger, excitement of these women's experiences. There's a universality to these emotions. The fun part of writing these books was making history and the lives of these women come alive.

*Tell my readers something about yourself that you have never shared before.  Funny or shocking, they lap it all up, mate.

I've always had this deathly fear of tidal waves. I've never seen a tidal wave in person or even heard much about them. I'm not sure where the fear came from, but I used to be haunted by recurring dreams of tidal waves. In the dream, I'm on the open top deck of a cruise ship. Suddenly, the sea gets rough, tosses the ship about, and this huge wave forms and towers over us putting everything in shadow. I usually wake up as the wave is about to crash down on the ship, my heart in my throat and a gripping panic pulsating through my body. When the 2004 Tsunami hit South East Asia, that's when I actually first saw the devastation of a real-life tidal wave. I was appalled and horrified by the destruction I saw in the news footage, but yet also strangely fascinated.

Connect with Natasha:
Website: www.natashayim.com 


Two treats are always better than one! 


 Tour List for Natasha Yim

 .              OCT. 22 — Highlighted Author, Interview
·                  OCT. 26 — Beach Bound Books, Book Review
·                  OCT. 30 — Jody Gehrman's blog, interview



Congratulations, Natasha, on your
kid and teen friendly list of books.



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Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques
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