It's NaNoWriMo time, which means hundreds of thousands of writers (myself included) are frantically working to get their 50,000 words written before midnight on November 30.
It's hard to believe that one year ago I was participating in my first ever NaNoWriMo and meeting Woong.
Woong is an orphan from North Korea whose story grabbed my heart and captivated my imagination.
I've never experienced anything like I did writing his story. Flower Swallow remains my quickest first draft to date. Eleven days, some tears, and one mis-saved document later, and his story was there on my computer. It was released to the world on December 17.
I had some awesome friends read Flower Swallow chapter by chapter as I wrote, giving immediate feedback and keeping me encouraged. I had a prayer team getting almost daily updates and cheering me on from the sidelines. This was also the first project I worked on with Amy Liebowitz, which was the turning point for an online friendship to jump to a partnership I'm convinced was ordained in heaven.
I'm not sure I'll ever have a Flower Swallow experience again. It was so surreal, I'm not even sure I'd want to. All I know is Woong will probably remain the most endearing, spunky, mischievous character I'll ever create. It sounds trite, but I feel blessed to have gotten to know him last November.
Thankfully, Woong's story isn't over yet. He shows up in my newest release Straightened, and he's got more adventures up his sleeve, I'm sure.
Out of all my characters, Woong is the most real to me. If I were to tell him that his story just won a bronze medal from the Moonbeam Awards, I know exactly what he'd say.
When I set out to write my book, Teacher, I never expected anyone but you to read it. I never expected it to win any awards or stuff and nonsense like that.
But you know what? That's exactly what happened.
*** READ WOONG'S STORY TODAY ***