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Yoshio is a 16 year old author. He hasn’t written just one book, he’s written two! We discuss his writing and how he took advantage of a family vacation to get the book done.
Due to his age, there were some problems publishing. He tells us about those problems and some of the things he did to help overcome it.
In this episode:
- writing his book on a family trip
- starting with short stories
- problems faced because of his age
- inspiring even younger authors
- plans for the future
Today I’m very excited for today’s episode of Discover Wordsmith.
I have Yoshi with me and Yoshi is 16. Yoshi, how you doing
Yoshio: today? I’m good. I’m good. How are you?
Stephen: I’m well. I’m doing really great now, talking to you. I love talking to kids that are doing things like this. Awesome. I encourage that. Before we roll about your book, tell us a little bit about you and what you like to do.
I’m going to guess you go to school though, that may not be something you like . What else do you like to do?
Yoshio: Yeah, I do go to school. It’s school. I love traveling. whole family loves traveling, so we always go on trips and all sorts of. I love hiking, swimming reading of course.
Yeah, all fun stuff.
Stephen: Cool. We’ll talk about some of your favorite books later on. But you’re on the podcast because you’re 16 and you’ve written two books and got them published and I think that’s fantastic and it. Right there. I get a lot of people that tell me, oh, kids can’t do this. You know what, we’ve got proof right here
And there are a few others I’ve known also. So I’m excited to find out about what you’ve done. Why did you wanna start writing? You said you did your first book at 15, so what made you jump into this and wanna start?
Yoshio: Yeah, so back in like fifth grade, my teacher had us do these fun like writing exercises where we got to get a prompt and then write a little short story for that.
And I just found that so fun. And after a while of doing that, I’m like hey, why don’t I just do it on my own time? Because it, I enjoyed it. So I started writing short stories and printing them out and bringing ’em to school and having my friends read ’em back in fifth. and I’m from there.
I just kept writing more and more until finally I’m like hey, might as well write a full length book. So
Stephen: Nice. So you realize that’s pretty much how Stephen King started, right? really doing his thing. Yeah, I didn’t know that. Writing stories for his friends. Then he did the school newspaper and threw in his own stories.
Cool. Yeah. So I love that you got excited about that , and you enjoyed writing. You said you’ve written short stories. About how many have you written?
Yoshio: Oh maybe 15, 16. They’re super, like short stories just to entertain my friends and I did write one full length book in sixth grade that was maybe like 80,000 words, but I never ended up publishing.
Yeah, but you still have it, right? I do. I
Stephen: do. Th those are called trunk novels. You stick ’em in your trunk and you leave ’em for, for years. Yeah. So just remember that when you talk to other authors that your trunk . All right, so this book we’re gonna talk about is Eight Wonder tell us a little bit about this.
Yoshio: So it’s a middle grade like adventure fiction kind of thing. And so it’s about these eight kids who are all cousins and they go on a big backpacking trip together, and they get lost in the woods. And so basically the story follows them just learning how to survive building shelter, that kind of thing.
And yeah it’s a fun, fun adventure. Okay.
Stephen: And your what was the title of your first book?
Yoshio: My first book was called the C Myth.
Stephen: Okay. Yeah. And are they both like middle grade?
Yoshio: Yeah. The C Myth was probably middle grade between middle grade and young adult probably. Yeah. Okay.
Stephen: Which fits because they say, write what you know, that kinda fits what you know, right?
Now, is fantasy your favorite genre to read?
Yoshio: I would say probably I love fantasy, but I’ve gotta go with science fiction. For me that’s what I primarily read. Yeah.
Stephen: Okay. Who are some of your favorite science fiction author?
Yoshio: Ooh. I love Neil Schusterman, James Dashner, Suzanne Collins.
Those are really good authors. I love their books.
Stephen: Nice. What’s your favorite book of all time?
Yoshio: That’s such a hard question. . I don’t know. One of my favorites is Dry by Neil Schusterman, and it’s like a sci-fi. survival novel. That one was really good.
Stephen: Nice. Okay. And have your friends read these books?
Yoshio: The ones that, that I published or the ones that Yeah they have.
Stephen: Okay. Where have, where is this available that people can check it out?
Yoshio: They’re on Amazon, barnes and noble.com, all sorts of bookshops online. They’re in libraries, all the El Dorado County libraries and a few in other places.
Yeah, all over the
Stephen: place. Nice. Nice. And we’ll talk more about the publishing on the second half with authors. Cool. Why did you choose to write this particular story? You said you’ve written some short stories. So why did you choose to write this particular story as a novel?
Yoshio: So originally it wasn’t going to be published like for everybody because I had a knack for writing and I actually wrote my second book before this one ate wander.
But I was going on a big year-long trip with my family and I have seven, or I have six cousins. That we’re really close to. And so I was like, hey, as a going away gift, I might as well write them something cuz that’s something I’m good at. So I I wrote them up the story and I originally published it just for to print it so I could ship it over to them.
And so they got it and read it and those things were filled with typos cuz it was just for them at first. But then the words started getting around and people started buying ’em and reading ’em and contacting me and they’re like, Hey, this was really good. I’m like, oh, I didn’t know you were gonna read it.
I thought it was only for my thought only my cousins were gonna read it at first. And but after that I’m like I need to polish it up if other people are gonna be reading. So I did that and and yeah that’s how it got, how it is
Stephen: today. Oh, Oh, okay. I gotta ask, you said a year long trip
What was that all not many people I know take a year long trip. What was that for? Yeah, it was
Yoshio: really special. My my family took a year long RV trip to tour the United. And it was a blast. We’re home now, but we spent basically an entire school year just touring around and yeah, it was a lot of fun.
Stephen: Nice. Did you do remote schooling? I would assume I did. Yeah. What did you think of that compared to going to school?
Yoshio: I missed the social aspect for sure, but it was actually really nice because it gave me so much more time to write and just spend time with my family and such, so it was good.
Stephen: Nice. Okay. All right. And is that when you wrote this current eight Wander book?
Yoshio: I actually wrote it right before. Before we left. Yeah. And then I published it when we were on the road, okay. Yeah,
Stephen: you did say that. I’m sorry. That’s all right. So now that you’ve had people reading this book, if somebody said, Hey we’d like to turn this into a movie or TV show, which one would you prefer?
Yoshio: I would’ve to say movie because I don’t know, just census aim towards a younger audience. It’s young, that age doesn’t really invest in TV shows as much as like teenagers or adults. Just cuz I don’t know, shorter attention spans. I think it’d be a really fun movie and it’s it’s short enough that it feels stretched out if it were a TV series.
So I think a movie would fit best. Okay,
Stephen: so these are one shots. They’re not a series of stories.
Yoshio: They are, I’m actually working on a sequel right now, but as of now, it’s just the first one.
Stephen: Okay. So it’s the first one. Yeah. But the two that you have published aren’t in series? Yeah. Okay. All right. And do you have a website?
Yoshio: I do. I do. What’s that? I think it’s yoshi dot dagit yola site.com.
Stephen: Okay. Yeah. We’ll try and look it up and get a link in there. Did you put that up? I did. Yourself, I did. Yeah. So did you get to do it as part of a school project or did you just
Yoshio: do it ? I just did it just cuz it never, that kind of thing.
Never really came up in school. And I’m like I’ll just do it myself. Yeah.
Stephen: Okay. So how do you balance doing school, all your other activities and writing?
Yoshio: Yeah, prioritizing that kind of stuff is really hard. Obviously school is a big priority, but writing is is also big. So what I try and do is have a schedule where when it’s structured, it’s easier to fit everything in you.
and so I try and get school out of the way first and then . That way I can take as much time as I want writing, nice. Okay. And you mentioned a sequel. What’s that going to be about?
Yeah, so the sequel is gonna follow the same cousins, but this time they get lost out at sea instead of in a forest, which is where the first one takes place.
And That’s what the second one will be like.
Stephen: Okay. Wonderful. we talked a little bit about your favorite books and authors. Do you have a local bookstore that you like to go to? I
Yoshio: do. I do. We have a used bookstore down on our main Street and it is called The Booker. And it’s just, it’s a great.
Stephen: Nice. And where actu where exactly do you live? I live in Placerville. Not your address, but like general
Yoshio: that Yeah. I live in this little town called Placerville in California. Know that?
Stephen: Yeah, I lived in Escondido down southern California. Oh, no way. No way. Cool. Yeah. Nice. All right, so here’s the tough one for you.
Before we talk some author stuff, . I’m sure a lot of kids at school, teachers, maybe other parents come up to you and they say, so you wrote a book. Why should I get your book and read it? What would you tell ’em?
Yoshio: It’s just, it’s a fun adventure I’ve had parents and teachers tell me that their kids loved.
and it’s, it has little bits here and there that are handy when it comes to outdoor survival and it’s just a fun story I think. Yeah, it’s fun for me. Nice.
Stephen: Okay, great. Wonderful. I love when kids do things above and beyond little more out of the norm, so you should be applauded for that.
Very nice. All right, so let’s talk some author stuff. This is of great interest to me. A lot of fun things here that we’ve wanna delve into. So before we get started on some of the topic of publishing when you’re not an quote unquote adult. Yeah. You’ve written a bunch of short stories, which I think is more wonderful than you believe, because.
One of the things I’ve found in talking with others is that writing and writing and gaining that experience is way more important than some people realize. A lot of people write one book and then they spend five years trying to publish get it published and out there. And they miss the experience of writing more.
And you’ve written, you said about 15 short stories, and now two books you’re working on your third and you have a trunk novel also . Yeah. So do you feel that you’ve learned and grown and changed with your experience writing since the first one you wrote?
Yoshio: Absolutely. For sure. In fact, if I pull a the dusty binder out of the back of my closet for the trunk novel, Just looking at the words that I used and the type of the flow that the writing follows.
It’s just a huge difference and I’m, even though it’s not going anywhere, I’m super glad I wrote it because it gave me all that experience and yeah, definitely a huge.
Stephen: So you said you wrote your first story back in fifth grade. Has your fifth grade teacher read the newest stuff you’ve
She has. She has. I actually did an assign, not an assignment, assigning and talk at my old school. So yeah.
Stephen: How exciting, fun was that? Have all the younger kids coming up to you? It was so much fun. I still have. My brother goes there. So I still have kids coming up to me when I go to see my brother there asking, oh, when’s this, when’s the second eight wonder gonna come out?
Yoshio: And that’s just, that makes me very happy. nice.
Stephen: I’m going to guess, I’m going to tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m going to say that having the kids, the teacher’s, parents coming up to you and saying, wow, this is really good. Keeps you going, keeps you wanting to do more. For
Yoshio: sure. A hundred percent.
That’s. , one of the best parts of writing is the feedback and just seeing the people who read and enjoyed this story, it makes it worth it for sure. It’s a lot of fun.
Stephen: Cool. So what software do you use to write? I’m going to assume you do it digitally with a
Yoshio: computer or something, . I do. I use I use Word.
I like to keep it simple word is my go-to writing tool. .
Stephen: Okay, so this leads into our bigger topic of discussion, which I think a lot of people may be interested in. You’re 16, you’ve published, that’s difficult because of your age, because services want you to be older. And so what are some, how did you publish and what are some of the trials and tribulations you’ve had to overcome because of your age?
Yoshio: Yeah. My first two books I published I self-published and I went through a program called K D P. At first I’m sure you know what it is but it’s a self-publishing company and it’s really handy. It’s really nice. But one of the problems I faced was for like banking account details, they don’t allow minors to set up their banking.
To take out that money. So I had to go around that and figure stuff out for that. Alright,
Stephen: We won’t go in the details if it starts. Sound a little shady here. But your parents are involved and encourage all of this for you.
Yoshio: Yeah, for sure. They are a huge huge part.
My writing and I couldn’t do it without ’em, for sure.
Stephen: Nice. And you said you also have set up through Barnes and Noble and a few other places that you published. So you, you’re published wide? am. Do you put in your profile that you’re 16 or are you avoiding that and just putting the books out there?
Yoshio: I say that I’m a teen author so I don’t have to like, update it all the time. . But yeah I say that I’m a teen author on
Stephen: the books. Okay. And you don’t need to give us details, but you’ve worked out things with a bank account I’m going to assume got your parents involved. Are there any other things you’ve run into because of your age that you think would not have been difficult if you were.
Yoshio: So I have a publishing company called Precipice Publishing, and when I was setting that up it’s hard for a minor to do that kind of thing. And my parents helped me and it’s all sorted out. But that was something that was a bit difficult to sort.
Stephen: Okay. So in, in a couple years when you’re 18 and you’re legally allowed to have the bank account and do the Amazon account and all of that are you gonna switch things over at that point? Or did you set things up to keep ’em the way they are now?
Yoshio: Yeah, I’ll prob, I’ll probably switch things over just cuz it’ll make things simpler.
Stephen: Have, did you think that, oh man, I’m getting experience writing. I’ve got experience writing novels and published novels that’s going to help me later in life. Or were you just writing cuz you enjoyed it?
Yoshio: At first I was writing cuz I was, I enjoyed it for sure and I still am. But looking at future opportunities, I think writing is.
A great asset to have whichever field of work you go into or whatever whatever you do. Really writing is a big part of everything. So I would agree. I think it’s a handy skill.
Stephen: Yeah I would agree with that. And as we were talking about, you wrote a bunch of short stories, so you’ve got a lot of experience writing.
You’re getting even more so if you write this third book, maybe even a fourth. Before you’re 18 or about the time you’re graduating, you, you’ll have more experience than most adults that are out there writing . And I truly believe that experience is super helpful to publish more or make a choice as to what direction you want to go.
Do you feel that you’re preparing yourself for a writing career or, Some other plans that this’ll just tie into.
Yoshio: Yeah, so writing right now is like what I’m like a job basically, but what I’m aiming to do, In the future is become a nurse anesthetist. And writing will be like a side thing that I do, like publish books.
But if it becomes successful enough that I can make a career off of that, then that would be the dream. That would be that would I you, have you ever heard of Michael Criton? I have
Stephen: He used to be in the medical field in his first book under some pseudonym was about some patients and being a, in the medical profession.
So you, you’ve got someone good ahead of you there, . Awesome. So I take it you have plans to go to college or nursing school or something like that? And I like how you. Say, you might keep this as a side thing, which I also think is important because in today’s world, I know you’re still in high school, you may have heard of this, but there’s a lot of turmoil in the job market at times, and a lot of of people don’t have jobs.
My mother was a nurse for 45 years. cool. She worked at the same hospital her whole life. But that just really doesn’t happen anymore. I think having this skill of writing as a backup, Is important and especially cuz you’ve already published a couple books. So when you’re 18 or 22 ish and you’re just graduating you, you have four or five books every month.
Could be generating some income, making your life a little more stable because you don’t have to worry so much. Have you thought about that or was it something that you came upon? Oh, I guess so afterwards. . .
Yoshio: Yeah. Yeah. That’s. Definitely an important part, the whole financial side of that. And then plus I get to say I am an author and get to experience being an author.
And writing is always fun. So there’s the financial side and then there’s, oh, I get to keep writing side of it. Which is good.
Stephen: I love the fact that you said that you wanna be one thing, but writing also, , you’re still a writer, you’re still an author. You can do it on top of the other stuff you’re doing.
You can do it while you’re in college and you continue. Nice. So let me just ask, did you write all this stuff and then tell your parents you wanted to publish or did you tell ’em at the beginning you had a goal? What was their reaction? What’d they say? .
Yoshio: So the first book that I told you a little bit about called the C Smith I intended to publish it in the.
Just because I’d written so many short stories and I wanted to write a real book to put out into the world and for other people to read. So they always knew that I was interested in publishing but never really became serious until I finished ate wander and things. Opportunities started popping up and I’m like hey this is a big thing.
Stephen: Nice. So what opportunities popped up going to your old school for book signings? One, I assume? What other things have come about that you didn’t expect?
Yoshio: Yeah, I didn’t expect just being able to do the book signings and talks. I’ve done ’em at a couple of places. And those were really fun.
Getting ’em in the library. That was that was really exciting. And just this kind of thing, being on podcasts and getting to talk to awesome people like you is it’s the great part that I didn’t really expect going into the field. Nice.
Stephen: So what are, besides doing podcasts, what other things are you doing to market the.
Yoshio: Yeah, so I do social media, I do the talks and signings obviously the podcast. And yeah that’s pretty much what I’m doing to market.
Stephen: So it’s all hands-on. Go see people because Yeah. Being 16 again. Trying to run ads without the bank account, without that’s probably if not extremely difficult.
It possibly completely a no-go for right now.
Yoshio: Yeah. Yeah. It’s good though cuz I like being engaged with people and so it works.
Stephen: Good. Good. I love your attitude about it. It is what it is, so do what you can, right? Yeah. All right. So Yoshi I love talking to you about this.
In fact, I’d love to have you on again before you graduate school to see how things have changed. So let’s keep that in mind. Awesome. What advice would you give to other young people, teenagers pre-teens about writing that are out there listening to this?
Yoshio: I’d just say start it do it There’s not an age limit for creativity. You can write when you’re young, when you’re old, when you’re middle-aged it doesn’t matter. It’s just getting the pen on paper and the words on the computer. And just starting that whole process, that’s the most important thing, and it’ll take you from there.
Stephen: Nice. That’s awesome advice. I’m gonna make that a clip to play for some young people. Awesome. Uh, And I did have a 10 year old on here that wrote a picture book. Wow. You’re 16. And I have had a guy that 74 retired lawyer that wrote his first book at 74. So huge age range of people writing.
Yeah. So you’ve got a great start to it, a great jump, . Cool. All right. Yoho, I appreciate you taking some time after school today and getting on and chatting with us. Anything else you wanna say about your book or about being an author before we go?
Yoshio: Just keep writing and reading and yeah, that’s it.
Stephen: Okay, great. All right. I appreciate it. Thank you.