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Monday, September 03, 2007

Camy Tang-athon Day I

(Why a whole week for the Camster? Well, look at her. If we don't help her who will? Actually the reason is: no one we know has worked harder at honing her craft, or done more to promote Christian novelists out of the sweetness of her spirit. We thought it'd be nice if what went around came around. Plus, dang it, she's one interesting and fun woman. We'll be giving away one autographed copy of Camy's debut novel, SUSHI FOR ONE? every day this week. To enter, leave a comment for Camy telling her how beautiful, talented and witty Gina is. (Or on whatever less interesting subject you like.)

Camy Tang is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and 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

What's your problem?

My dog is the most disobedient mutt in the bay area, and this is after six rounds of dog training and an assurance from our trainer that we really are doing things correctly, but she's just stubborn. She's just smart enough to deliberately disobey. It has traumatized us. I am a failure.

Why do you talk so much?

Nerves. And I do NOT talk as much as SOME PEOPLE ...

(Uhem, I'll ignore the above dig, and by ignore it, I mean I'll place, "One hundred percent of all proceeds to benefit the Stop Literacy Now Foundation" stickers on all Sushi For One? covers I come across.)

Okay, back to my insightful questions. Besides talking about herself in third person, Gina can also bend her tongue in half, not long ways like any fool, but literally fold the first third of it flush against the back, thus tasting her own tongue, (mmm). What odd talent do you have?

My toes are so long that I can fold my feet together. It has often grossed out my husband, so I do it to annoy him.

Okay you foot freak, tell us about Sushi for One?

My debut novel, Sushi for One?, just released on September 1st! It’s the first book in my Sushi Series:

Four cousins commiserate their single status—Lex the Jock, Trish the Flirt, Venus the Cactus, and Jennifer the Oddball. The only Christians in their large extended family, they vow to fight the stigma of the infamous family title, Oldest Single Female Cousin. But they have very different ideas about not acting as desperate as they feel about their bleak love lives. Who knew God would have His own plans of true love for each of them?

Sushi for One is Lex’s story:

Will Lex Sakai be able to surrender her “perfect man” list and give Mr. All Wrong a chance?

Lex Sakai’s family is big, nosy, and marriage-minded. When her older cousin gets married, Lex will become the oldest single cousin in the clan. And that makes her a moving target for Grandma Sakai, who insists that Lex bring a date to her cousin’s wedding.

Of course, Grandma Sakai has some perfect candidates for Lex. Too bad they don’t speak English! And Lex herself has used her Bible study class on Ephesians to compile a huge list of traits for the perfect man. But the one man she keeps running into doesn’t seem to have a single quality on her list. Aiden Young is not her type. He’s not a jock, he’s not a Christian, and he has a bad history with Lex’s cousin, Trish.

Time is running out for Lex, and no matter what she does, she can’t find the right guy. Especially when she keeps running into Aiden everywhere. If only the list would stop getting longer and longer...

Why should we read Sushi for One? when we can just see the movie?

Now that would be neat. The problem is that there are so few Asian American actors, while there are many from overseas in the US box office. Zhang Ziyi would be neat to play Lex if not for her accent.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

When I first started writing, I had terrible motives. I loved writing, but I also wanted to see my name on a book cover. And I had delusions about making massive amounts of money and owning a second house in the Bahamas (yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking, there). Writing for God’s glory, or serving Him, or doing His will—I didn’t think about any of that.

So God, having a sense of humor, asked me to give up my writing.

I fought Him hard. But as most people know, if God gives a command, refusing can get you swallowed by a whale. I didn’t have to suffer being swallowed for three days, but I did lay down my writing completely. Stashed away my manuscript, stories, ideas, backup disks, everything.

And God, having a sense of humor, guided me to biology work.

I thought my writing was over. I was in a completely unartistic field of work and I hadn’t written a word of fiction for years, although I still played with story ideas in my head.

Finally God, having a sense of humor, arranged for me to be laid off from my biology job and told me I could write again.

I understand now why He took me on that roundabout route, but back then, I thought He was nuts. (You didn’t miss the part where I confessed I hadn’t written a word of fiction in years, right?)

I read tons of writing books, took online workshops, attended conferences. I learned everything I could about writing craft, the publishing business, and the market.

I got LOTS of rejections. I had HORRIBLE comments from judges in the contests I entered. I wrote FIVE complete manuscripts with Asian American characters during a time when publishing houses weren’t actively looking for multicultural stories. And I had to eventually go back to work because it’s just too expensive to be a writer without a contract in the San Francisco bay area.

I guess I had an advantage because I had already laid down my writing once, and God had clearly told me to take it up again. I knew without a doubt that I had His blessing for my writing, so even though things were really hard, I didn’t give up. I knew this was what God wanted me to do.

(I also did not stop working on my attitude, because no way was I going to risk God telling me to lay down my writing again because of my pride and arrogance.)

I had met Sue Brower at an ACFW conference. Sue was Marketing Director for Zondervan at the time, and even though I messed up my pitch, her marketing savvy recognized the potential for an Asian American chick lit manuscript.

Sue pushed Karen Ball (Senior Editor at Zondervan at the time) to read my manuscript, and the two of them pushed it through editorial committee and pub board. I admit I wasn’t really biting my nails in anxious suspense, because all this took MONTHS. You just can’t bite your nails for that long. I knew where my manuscript was every step of the process.

A week or so before the 2006 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, my agent, Wendy Lawton, called me to tell me that everything was a GO. Actually, she emailed me and left a message on my answering machine, so I could scream without blowing out her eardrum. (The message has since been transferred into an MP3 and is saved on my computer. :)

One of my first thoughts was—I have finally lived up to my husband’s faith in me.

My second thought was—I have to call my friends and blow out their eardrums!

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

I think most writers feel self-doubt. I don’t doubt myself every single day, but there are times when I look on the screen and it’s complete dreck, and I wonder if I only had so many books in me, and if I’ll ever produce something else.

Then I call my friend Robin Caroll, who tells me to suck it up and stop being a baby.

I really think all writers need a Robin in their lives. My productivity would be in the toilet without her.

Then I have other friends who tell me it’s not that bad and that I really need to stop listening to Satan’s lies whispered in my ear.

I have a prayer group who prays for me. I honestly think all writers need a group of prayer warriors. My prayer team lifts me up to God even when I haven’t asked for anything in particular, and God always delivers. They have helped me keep the spiritual warfare at bay, and the self-doubts to a minimum.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

I signed with an agent without doing my homework about the agent’s reputation and without having a literary lawyer look at the contract. I hadn’t done much research about agents in general.

I should have spent more time talking to authors and talking to agents I met at conferences. I was so thrilled an agent wanted to represent me that I took the plunge thoughtlessly.

My writing at the time wasn’t quite ready for publication—although I thought it was—and I should have simply WAITED for God’s leading to the right agent at the right time. I was much better at waiting on God’s leading and timing later in my writing career, especially as more and more rejections came in.

My current agent is the best agent in the world.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

To be continued tomorrow ...


  1. All jokes aside, Camy, so very proud of you sister.

  2. Yay! Thanks for the Week of Camy here on NovelJourney, guys! You guys are the BEST!!!!!!!

  3. Wow! This was too fun. Can't wait for tomorrow...
    Camy, I always think that ever story I write was probably the last and that I'll never have another idea. It's crazy!

  4. camy, based on your personality alone, I want to read your book. you seem like a lot of fun to be around. I also picked up a copy of that writer's voice book you recommended awhile back.


  5. Camy, I really enjoyed your story today about how God laid the road work for your writing career. I am looking forward to reading Sushi for One?

  6. Gina- you really asked some great questions and made me laugh too!

    Camy- I really enjoyed reading your journey to publication especially. It's wonderful that you listened and took the path God laid out for you, and also that you didn't give up!

  7. You wrote FIVE books before being published? Wow. That's encouraging. I'm on book two. :) Uh, just three more to go!

  8. Camy - It was neat to hear your story. Sushi for one sounds like a fun read. I'm not Asian but why is it even white families think we as women all need to ne married or at least dating seriously by a certain age???? I write a little but don't have nearly enough together to even think about publication right now. I did have my own Jonah experience recently though. God asked me to do something I didn't want to touch with a 100' pole and of course being the stubborn person that I am I decided I didn't want to know that He was telling me to do it so I turned off my ears to him and went through a few months of misery before I realized I'd be better off to just acquiesce since He'd get me to do it one way or another. He was asking me not to give up anything per se but rather to trust Him and move forward in an area I wanted to avoid like the plague and had an intense fear in. As always my Lord was faithful and brought me through if not with flying colors at least with some sense of dignity intact. Sushi for One sounds like a great read. Please enter me in the drawing. forest_rose[at]yahoo[dot]com

  9. dying to read this!! i'll be cyber-stalking you this month, hoping to win a copy somewhere - and if i do, it will be read, enjoyed and then given away on my blog!

  10. After reading the first chapter last week on whichever blog it was that posted it, I'm really looking forward to reading the whole thing! And I really like the fact that it's not in 1st person. I could love chick lit if more of it was in 3rd person POV.

  11. Camy, it was great hearing about your up's and down's. I guess I'm just trying to say, that it's neat to be able to "see" (or should I say read) the journey? (lol)
    I love reading your blog, and this seemed better, b/c it was you! lol.
    Anyways, Sushi for One? sounds really great. I can't wait to get my hands on it (one way or another, lol). I like the angle, with each book being about one of the ladies.
    Well, hopefully between school and work, i'll be able to come back and read again tomorrow!
    This was really great! :-)

  12. Camy, girl, I have both Robin and GINA in my life tellig nme to suck it up. LOL

    Now I don't need to be in the drawing because I have already read Sushi for One? and my review will post here on Novel Journey on Wednesday. So hang around everyone!

  13. I want to win this!

  14. I'm ready to read 'Sushi for One?' :)

  15. You know how much I want this, thus the linky love sticky posted at the top of my blog:-) Camy's rocks, want to know why? Check out her blog!

    kpuleski [at] gmail [dot] com

  16. Count me in, I'm excited about this book!

  17. Great interview. I visit Camy's blog and enjoy it. I would love to win her debut book.

  18. don't need to enter me for the drawing, but loved the interview! very informative and i couldn't stop laughing after the introduction in the beginning.

  19. A full week of Camy? How fun is that! Looking forward to the rest of the week. :-)

  20. DOn't enter me in the drawing....I've read the book a couple of times! Y'all who haven't yet are in for a GREAT treat! I think you'll be surprised by some of Camy's warped mind twists and turns, that take this book ABOVE a chicklit. But that's imho!

    And, AHEM, I'm not so mean! LOL I know talent when I see it so don't whine to me about having to write. LOL Now, if you were bad at it, that'd be a different story! LOL

    Thanks for the interviews, usual, your brilliant questions brought out your subject extremely well!

  21. Camy deserves a whole week! Just for all the encouragement she offers, when she doesn't even realize it!

    And she's introduced me to so many Christian authors through her book giveaways, even telling me not to feel bad when I won two books in a row (and thought I should bow out so someone else could win, like I had somehow manipulated my wins rather than God whispering into Camy's winner-picking-fingers that I really needed to read those books!)

    Hoping to win a copy of SUSHI FOR ONE.

  22. I've been inspired from this refreshing interview with Camy. She is SO down to earth and right on target with her comments. I wish her all the best in her career as a writer. I would love to win a copy of her first novel. I feel there will be many more.
    Pat Jeanne

  23. Aw, the arrows of self-doubt fly around the writing world like a rain storm in the south. (After living out west, I learned that there is a big difference...LOL) Thanks for reminding me, I'm not alone in that war, and that we know who wins. We just have to put on our armor and write.

    Thanks Camy,


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