Category Archives: by S. Q. Eries

Just Released: “Meet JetDo” the Webtoon!

And now for something really different…I helped write a webtoon script! Parts 1 and 2 are available on YouTube, and the links are below.

As for the story behind the script…a few months ago, my friend Shu, who helped fact check my short story Hidden Heritage, asked if I’d be interested in a freelance project. She’s one of the owners of JetPens, an online stationery store (if you’re looking for specialty pens, they’re the place to go!). As a way of engaging their customers, they wanted to create an origin story for their green-clad mascot JetDo, and Shu asked if I’d like to write that story.

The invitation literally came out of the blue. I had zero experience doing work for hire. But it sounded like a great opportunity to write in a different style. Plus, Shu is an awesome person, and I was completely on board with her vision for JetDo.

That’s how I wound up on a team with producer Miriam Ling and artist Joshua Banaag. The project felt a lot like making short films in Los Angeles. There was a scope, schedule, and budget. Each collaborator brought something different to the table, but we were collectively striving toward the goal of crafting a cohesive, engaging story. Some writers prefer to have full control over the creative process, but I rather like group brainstorming and enjoyed hashing out JetDo canon with the team.

The other thing reminiscent of my film experience was that the scope changed as we progressed. The biggest change was the format. The story was originally to be printed as a mini-zine so Josh and I started by organizing pictures and text on a paper layout. However, the mini-zine was eventually deemed less cost-effective and less environmentally friendly than a digital format, so we switched to presenting the story as a webtoon.

That meant Josh and I went from an illustrator/author team to an animator/screenwriter team. The change actually made writing easier because I was no longer beholden to my nemesis, word count. However, the brunt of the storytelling shifted from text to images, so I had to keep in mind the amount of time and effort it took to animate scenes while I wrote.

By the way, Josh did an awesome job shifting roles from drawing stills to animating images. I’ve always enjoyed animation, and it was pretty exciting to see the scenes I wrote come to life this way.

So please check it out! It’s free wherever YouTube is available. And I hope you’ll enjoy the tale behind JetPens and JetDo!

Just Published: Business and Bows!

Only a month ago, everything was business as usual in California, but as we progress into April, the world is a drastically different place. With so much doom and gloom, it’s important to celebrate any bright spots that arise, so today I’m celebrating the publication of my third contribution to Cricket Magazine: Business and Bows!

Click here for the link to the magazine!

Considering how many businesses and services have ground to a halt, I’m grateful this issue still got printed on schedule and that the Postal Service is still making deliveries.

Business and Bows, whose main character turns her love for kimono into a business idea, is a departure from my other Cricket stories. While it also has an Asian setting, the time is present day, and unlike the serious nature of Hidden Heritage and Cheonson and the Admiral, it has a lighthearted tone.

The story’s based partly on an experience I had the last time my husband and I vacationed in Japan. Most anime and manga fans have an appreciation for Japanese culture, and we are no exception. So when we discovered a summer festival was taking place at Nagoya Castle during our stay in the Nagoya area, we decided to attend in traditional Japanese garb.

However, my husband’s jinbei was much easier to don than my yukata; it took over a half hour for me to get dressed. Even so, my efforts left much to be desired. At the festival, we passed a yukata stall, and vendors became visibly dismayed at the state of my clothes. When we explained we were tourists, they immediately pounced on me to tidy me up. Let me tell you, these women mean business when it comes to folding and tying, and the difference between my work and theirs was night and day. (Thank you, yukata ladies!)

Even though the story was inspired by my latest visit to Japan, it also pays tribute to my first trip in 1995 when I was participated in the Japan America Student Conference. The story setting Nishinomiya, which is in a region known for entrepreneurship, is the hometown of Michiko Zentoh, a Japanese delegate from that conference. Michiko, like the character Shiori, is fluent in Spanish and English. College students Rachel and Malik are based on two fellow American delegates, both of whom are fluent in Japanese. (Wow, I know so many talented people…)

As such, this story was fun to write for many reasons, and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Just Published: Cheonson and the Admiral!

2019 has been a gratifying year. Three months ago, my Cultural Revolution story Hidden Heritage was printed in Cricket Magazine.  This month, Cricket published another story of mine: Cheonson and the Admiral!

Click here for the link to the magazine!

Like Hidden Heritage, this is a historical; unlike Hidden Heritage, Cheonson and the Admiral is set in 16th century Korea. The aforementioned admiral is Yi Sun-Sin, a brilliant commander who turned the tide against the invading Japanese in the Imjin War (23 wins in 23 naval battles!). As for Cheonson, he was a young cowherd who brought Yi information critical to the Battle at Hansan.

Although Yi’s a national hero to Koreans, he’s relatively unknown in the West, and I have my husband to thank for introducing me to the admiral. He saw a feature film about Yi (The Admiral: Roaring Currents) during a flight to Korea, and it so impressed him he came home gushing about Yi’s trademark turtle ships. So when I saw the “Make a Splash” theme on Cricket’s Call for Submissions website, I figured Yi’s story was worth telling.

However, the tricky thing about writing Cheonson was the lack of reference materials. Korean texts about Yi and the Imjin War abound, but there’s not a whole lot in English. Pretty much only university collections have anything on the subject, and fortunately, Stanford University’s library has a limited public access policy so I was able to see the few books they had about Yi.

I was also fortunate to have friends help me with story details (thanks, Dorthy and Esther!). I’m of Chinese descent so I had a level of comfortability depicting the Bao family of Hidden Heritage. Cheonson and the Admiral was definitely outside my culture, and I was grateful that my Korean-American friends and their Korean-born parents were willing to vet out my portrayal of Koreans in the Imjin War.

I’m thrilled Cheonson and the Admiral made it into the world, and I hope you get to enjoy it in Cricket’s May/June 2019 issue!

Just Published: Hidden Heritage!

I write historical fiction, but my settings gravitate toward the ancient. As such, my latest short story was a bit off my beaten track. Hidden Heritage is a tale about a family heirloom rescued from the ravages of China’s Cultural Revolution, and it’s available in Cricket Magazine’s February 2019 issue!

You can purchase this issue from Cricket’s website by clicking here.

The heirloom featured in my story is based off an actual heirloom featured in Michael Wood’s documentary The Story of China. At the time I saw the documentary, I didn’t think I’d use it for a story. Then some months later, I dropped by the Cricket Call for Submissions website, and when I saw the “A Willingness to Act” theme, the heirloom from the documentary immediately flashed to mind.

However, the due date was in three weeks, and I knew almost nothing about the Cultural Revolution (the documentary only spent about five minutes on it). Fortunately, for me and this story, my friend Shu does know Chinese history. Not only did she agree to help, she also recruited her parents, who lived through the Cultural Revolution.

It was a crazy three weeks of drafting, fact-checking, and vetting. I’ve never written so quickly about a setting I knew nothing about. But thanks to quick feedback from Shu’s family as well as my SCBWI critique group, I finished by the deadline.

And it got selected!

The funny thing is that even though I wrote this story in record time, its path to publication took over a year. I submitted it in August 2017 and received my acceptance December 2017, but it wasn’t until July 2018 that the edit rounds began. When they say you have to be patient in the publication business, it’s absolutely true. But the magazine editor was great to work with, and I’m pleased with the final product.

I hope you enjoy it, too!

As an added bonus, Cricket is on SCBWI’s PAL Publishers list. That means I’m now a SCBWI PAL (Published and Listed) member. Yay, I just leveled up!