I have good news to announce! My good friend Lee Y. Miao has recently revealed the cover of her debut middle-grade story, WEI TO GO!
I was privileged to enjoy reading an advanced copy and can tell you that it has believable characters you want to root for, a layered and fast-paced plot that keeps pages turning, and a whole bunch of heart. Lee has very generously agreed to an interview and to sharing her book journey with us on this week’s blog post.
WEI TO GO! is about what happens when twelve-year-old Ellie W. Pettit decides to save her dad’s California company, under a mysterious takeover threat. Ellie takes her teacher’s advice to meet a secretive CEO in Hong Kong, while on a trip with her family, and finds she’s at a crossroads. Annoying brother, unexpected weather, new customs, a hovering mom—it’ll take everything she’s got to solve the mystery.
WEI TO GO! will be released on April 5, 2022, by Clear Fork Publishing.
It is available for pre-order on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1950169677/
and at Barnes and Noble: https://bn.com/s/9781950169672
INTERVIEW with Lee Y. Miao:
Who is the ideal reader for your book?
I hope ten to twelve-year-olds who like mysteries and are curious about the world will discover this novel. If they’re on the cusp of being independent and like competitive sports and humor, maybe they’ll also see parts of themselves on the pages. Fingers crossed!
I think they definitely will, Lee, on both occasions.
Tell us, what inspired you to write this book?
The last time I traveled overseas, I realized how challenging or comical it can be to navigate mass transportation or even dine out. I wanted to capture this setting from a middle-schooler’s perspective as the main character chases down a mystery.
What makes your characters unique?
Ellie, the main character, and her pesky brother are third-generation, with partial Chinese heritage. They are pretty much all American and know little Chinese. Ellie isn’t always obedient, and English is her forte, not math and science. Her brother Kipp excels in competitive sports.
What techniques did you use to get to know your main characters?
I tried to capture how kids manage relationships with their parents and each other in changing situations. Sometimes they step up to the plate, and other times they strike out. Like real life, both are absolutely fine.
Did you face any challenges to writing this story?
I was used to being an absurd punctuation and grammar nerd while writing nonfiction for K-12 English language arts projects. When I delved into fiction, I was initially afraid to use slang or lose the occasional comma in kids’ dialogue. Once I did, boy did I feel liberated.
What’s been easy and/or difficult on your writing journey?
Writing middle-grade fiction was hard but made easier as I love to write, especially in my favorite genre. The difficulty was engaging on social media—worried about privacy and not even knowing how to do a DM. Plus, I rarely take pictures. So far, I’ve hobbled along primarily because a few core followers offer unwavering support.
Do you write every day? When do you prefer to write? Do you ever find it difficult to start writing? If so, what do you do to get yourself going?
My best time to write is in the mornings when I’m usually alert. I’ll try to write a different chapter in the afternoons or evenings. In between, I do email, social media, read, and all the other things that writers do. Most importantly, I don’t need any excuses to take multiple breaks.
How long has it taken WEI TO GO! to get from submission to publication?
I started writing intermittently about five years ago because I had a full-time day job back then.
Do you have any advice for other middle grade authors who are looking to get their manuscripts published?
I looked for opportunities to improve my writing craft when selecting workshops and conferences. This helps to submit a polished manuscript to agents or editors. Also, I liked meeting other writers to hopefully exchange critical feedback on our manuscripts.
How do you polish your writing?
I apply my notes from workshops or books on writing craft to chapters, scenes, and characters. After my critique partners review them, I inevitably make revisions, even if I initially resist the majority opinion. After all, they always look out for your best interests.
Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books?
My favorites books include the Run with the Horsemen trilogy by Ferrol Sams. I love any books by Gary Schmidt, especially The Wednesday Wars. My all-time favorite, for kids or grown-ups, is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.
Are you presently working on another project? If so, can you share a little bit about what it is?
I’m finishing a manuscript related to WEI TO GO! It’s actually a prequel about Ellie’s bestie, Cat, who’s a dead ringer for a Raphael portrait painted during Renaissance Italy.
What do you do for fun?
Concerts, travel and spectator sports are my favorites. I swim regularly and walk my dog. Some day I’d like to resume playing the piano, except I’ve been on beginner book II for more than a decade. My piano teacher is deliriously happy I’m on a lengthy hiatus.
Lee Y. Miao is the debut author of Wei To Go! To find out more about Lee check out her Instagram account @leeymiao.writer and her website www.LeeYMiao.com
Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and your book journey with us, Lee! Best of luck with your writing and WEI TO GO!