Tag Archives: June Hur

The Confessions of a Wanna-Publish-A-Book-Aholic

19 May

 By June Hur


Writing is great fun +  fiery ambition to get published = writing is as addicting as a drug.

When at school, or at work, or preparing dinner for your family, if you obsess about getting published, like me, you will always be itching to write. Give me spare time and I will rush off to my laptop to work on my story. However, by and by, I have come to realize that this obsession over writing and publishing makes many (not all) writers neglect two major aspects to life: 

Socializing: When I first began university, I realized that I had precious little leisure time, as the rest of my hours would be devoted to studying, researching and writing essays. While I always had fun when hanging out with friends, I worried that it was wasting my time. I began to think: What do I gain from talking to my friend about the guy she likes? Shouldn’t I be working on my revisions so I could start querying? Because I wanted to get published so badly. So then I started to be picky with who I spent my time with. I would mainly socialize with writers and English majors. I was turning into a selfish snob, a Wanna-Publish-A-Book-Aholic. Therefore, much of the time, when given the choice, I opted to write instead.

However, while going through the emails exchanged between myself and my critique partner, in search of a critique she’d made about my manuscript that I needed to incorporate, I came across a different pointer that gave me pause. She wrote that my dialogues waxed and waned. I began to wonder—what makes people write good dialogues? Why do I have so much trouble writing them? I thought and thought, and the answer hit me in the face. The answer was so obvious I felt sort of stupid. I realized how crucial it was for writers to socialize not only with writers and English majors, but with a variety of people. Not everyone in my book will be talking about how to get published, or how awesome Jane Austen is.

I learned that we need to appreciate humans for being humans. If we manage to tap into another’s life, we will always come across an inspiring story. Life, in itself, is inspiring. Every individual is a walking masterpiece. Open them up, read them, and their life’s story will be breath-taking, as if their story had been written by Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Bronte, Dickens, Hemmingway—you name it. With this mindset, talking to people who don’t even share common interests with you, who will not further your career to become a published writer, becomes very interesting. And knowing different people, experiencing life through their words, adds so much more depth to your own writing.

A few years ago I was chatting with author Scott Carter after class (who has recently published his debut novel, BLIND LUCK) and asked him what his advice would be to aspiring authors. His answer was: Unplug your ears. Look around you and you’ll find that many people have earphones on, plugging themselves out from reality’s noise, isolating themselves in their imaginary world inspired by the music. Don’t get me wrong, listening to music is great. But we it’s so important to listen to the world around us, to the conversations surrounding us, because what our unplugged ears might hear will offer us so much insight into life.

My point is: Try not to isolate yourself in any manner for too long. Of course, it is important for writers to have their alone time, their thinking and writing and imagining time; but a balance is needed.

Health: I have heard several stories from writers about how they forgot to eat and exercise because they were too busy writing. I am one of them. A few months ago, when an agent requested my full manuscript, I was just in the middle of making a humungous revision. So excited to send it off to her as soon as I could, I spent a week revising from early in the morning until very late in the night. I skipped dinner, sometimes I skipped lunch, and sometimes I ate nothing at all but a piece of toast. That round of revision slightly screwed up my health and it took a few days to recover.

Health is the one thing my parents put a lot of emphasis on its importance. I don’t live with them, which makes it even more difficult for me to remember that I need to eat, because I forget while in the process of writing. Whenever I am on the phone with them they’re always asking me about my health. One of the phrases my mom always uses is: You want to write a great story? Well, June, you need to be alive and healthy for you to write at all.

Furthermore, I know people who will stay at home all day, writing, like myself, and when stuck in a writer’s block, remain sitting for hours staring at their computer screen. Not healthy. The best way to get over your writers block, I believe, is not to brainstorm on a piece of paper. It is to put your story on hold and go outside for a long, long walk. Exercising your body is like exercising your brain. Likewise, a fit body means a fit brain.

According to an article written by Vanessa Richardson, exercising reduces stress and leads to better cognitive functioning. It is stress that sometimes leads to writer’s block—the stress of not knowing what to write. And then it is always when you aren’t trying to write, when you’re not under that pressure, like when you’re in bed trying to sleep, that all these great ideas floods in. Stress, at least for me, is one of the main obstacles that hinder me from tapping into my imagination.

Therefore, when you haven’t stepped out of the house and you fall into a writer’s block, it means it’s time to go outside and get some fresh air into your brain. Then you can return home and take out your notebook and brainstorm all you want.

Summary: You might not be the extreme example of a hermit-writer, who coops herself up in her apartment, staring at the computer with blood-shot eyes, holding a beer bottle in one hand, a cigarette in another. But when you start having the mindset where you think it’s more important to write than to go for a jog, or that it’s more important to write than to be out in the world, then you need to pause and rearrange your priorities.   


June Hur is the author of The Runaway Courtesan. She is currently awaiting the response of an agent who requested her full manuscript. When she is not working on her next book, she can usually be found at a book shop, searching for a Great Love Story to read and analyze. You can follow her on Twitter or through her blog.


In Defense of the Romance Genre

28 Apr

By June Hur

At university, when surrounded by fellow English majors who, for example, have a book by Virginia Woolf in hand, and perhaps have a stack of books by Faulkner in their backpack, and have a small book of poetry by Keats tucked inside their purse, I could not help but blush when asked what my book was about. I told them it was a “historical” which sounds much more literary than admitting that I wrote a historical ROMANCE. After this incident I began asking myself why I was so embarrassed of being a romance writer. It was then that I recalled the documentary I watched a while back and shared on my personal blog. I wanted to share this BBC documentary (focused on the romance novel and its industry) with you all, knowing that among you there are those who write in the romance genre, which, unfortunately, is one of the most despised genres in literature. Ever wondered why? Spare an hour or so of your time to learn some VERY interesting facts about the romance industry. And it will most definitely give romance writers a confidence boost—IF you need it at all, that is.

Happily Ever After
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6


June Hur is the author of The Runaway Courtesan. She is currently awaiting the response of an agent who requested her full manuscript. When she is not working on her next book, she can usually be found at a book shop, searching for a Great Love Story to read and analyze. You can follow her on Twitter or through her blog.


30 Mar

By June Hur

My worst nightmare has always been that I would wake up one day and realize that I was no longer a writer.

After sending in my Regency romance to an agent, I decided to start a new book. I rummaged my mind for the perfect story. When I found a possible one, I would be up all night planning it out, and would end up brainstorming the plot to death. The idea just wouldn’t be good enough. And so I’d search for another plotline. I’d brainstorm it to death. And on and on I’d move from one plot to the next. My critique partner told me I was trying too hard. And she was right.

The sad truth was this: After a year and a half spent on revising The Runaway Courtesan again and again—I knew how to edit a book, but had forgotten how to write one from scratch.

I have to thank K.C. Bryne for my state of overflowing enthusiasm to write again. A few days ago I met up with her at Starbucks after our English literature lecture. I told her the issue I was having, of how none of the plots were good enough. Her answer was simple: Write for the pure joy of writing, write for yourself.

Write for myself? I couldn’t grasp onto what the purpose behind writing just for the sake of writing was. Why write for the fun of it? Why waste my time? If I’m going to write a book, I wanted to know that it would be marketable, that it would be original.—This mentality was my stumbling block. My expectation for the manuscript was way too high for me to meet up to in my first draft. How was I to write if every sentence I typed out was expected to be a masterpiece?

The first draft of our book is like a rough sketch, a guiding map, to a work of art.

Observe a famous oil painter: the moment inspiration roars through him, he will sketch it out onto a canvas. And if we were to observe this sketch, one eyebrow would shoot up, and our reaction would be: What the hell is this? We would only see a mess of pencil marks.

Just wait. Be patient.

The pencil markings will disappear, as the brush strokes paint across the canvas, the darker shades first. And we will cringe with confusion—THIS, a masterpiece?

Once the paint dries a bit, lighter shades of paint will then be applied (…or so my art tutor told me).

Then more hours will pass, perhaps even days, as the artist mixes the colours, brushes it onto the canvas, in light or heavy strokes, in dots or blotches.



A masterpiece has been created and it steals our breath away and brings tears to our eyes as we catch a glimpse of the divine beauty captured within each stroke of the brush.

But, with the perspective I had, placed into this analogy, I would have remained stuck on day one, sketching then re-sketching, getting nowhere. So the lesson I learned was: Do not expect a masterpiece by sketch number one. The point of the first draft is not perfection, but to capture the essence of that undecided, ambiguous yet beautiful story in your head.

Just write, write what your heart tells you to write. Your story, at draft one, might not be publishable. It might not even make any sense. But still—Just write! Worry about the plot holes, the grammatical errors, the character development, the theme, the marketability AFTER you have draft one. Don’t let that inspired imagination cool down while you edit paragraph one of your story over and over and over again. Let your fantasy unwind onto paper without being hindered by technicality—even though you might end up with a piece of trash that might require two years to revise. But the point, ladies and gentlemen, is to write for the pure joy of it.   

By Marion Boddy-Evans


June Hur is the author of The Runaway Courtesan. She is currently awaiting the response of an agent who requested her full manuscript. When she is not working on her next book, she can usually be found at a book shop, searching for a Great Love Story to read and analyze. You can follow her on Twitter or through her blog.

How Do You Bring Characters To Life?

26 Feb

by June Hur


I received an email from one of my readers who recently decided to dabble a bit in writing herself. She wrote to me of how lifeless her characters seemed, and thus, how discouraged she felt when hearing other writer friends talk about their characters being so alive to them, like real friends. What, she then asked, does it mean by characters being alive to you? How does it feel like? How can a character created by a bunch of words seem like a human to you? How can they take you on an adventure when they’re YOUR creation? I completely understood her. I was once in her situation myself. But after writing day in, day out, I came to a point where the two protagonists in my book became so real to me that I at times want to call them up for a cup of tea, just to chat. I’ve learned that to grow a relationship with your protagonist(s), a writer must make two investments:

TIME INVESTMENT – My current project, THE RUNAWAY COURTESAN, took me 3 years to write and revise. Before applying for university, I spent two years abroad, and ended up writing for 4+ hours a day. In total, I calculated that I had spent over 5,000 hours on this story—excluding the hours I spent thinking about the characters and plotline. Mandy Hubbard had to likewise spend hours after hours on PRADA & PREJUDICE before she could get it published. It took Sarah J. Maas 6.5 years to write all three books of QUEEN OF GLASS, where she’d spend three to four hours on the weekdays working on it. It took Savanah Foley 6 years to complete and revise WOMEN’S WORLD (Antebellum) and she would spend up to 4 hours working on it every day. It took Lynn Heitkamp 7 years to write and revise THORN OF THE KINGDOM. The other lovely contributors are still working on completing or polishing their manuscript, and also devote much of their time to writing as well. So when you end up spending thousands of hours in the mind and heart of a character, of course they come alive!  

EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT – In order to write as realistically as possible, novelists must dig deep into the chambers of their heart to renew the feeling of joy, anger, jealousy, grief, fear, despair, or whatever emotion they need to write about. Think about this example: How could you write about Jane having the most heart-wrenching breakup with John if you’ve never even gone through a breakup? Nothing can come from nothing, after all. A writer needs either to have gone through such an experience, and be willing to renew the haunting emotions correlated with it—or the writer needs to have a big imagination in order to put themselves through such an ordeal. That’s why many writers listen to music while writing. They need music to stimulate their imagination to plunge them into an emotion never experienced before, or to emphasize an emotion they had only felt a dose of in the past. So we, the novelists, end up feeling what the characters feel. We cry and laugh with them. And this intimacy breathes life into the characters.

Characters don’t come to life over night. Like any other relationships with human beings, a relationship with one’s character takes patience. When I first began writing TRC my heroine and hero were like stick-people to me. They were strangers. But gradually, my protagonists began to speak and act in ways I had never planned. The subconscious part of me was telling the story now. The conscious “June” was no longer in control. And it was only then that my characters took me on an adventure. It was only then that they became flesh and blood to me. Truly, when your characters take their first breath, it is the most wonderful, amazing feeling ever.

I’d like to end this article with two questions: How long do you write for every day? How alive are your characters to you? 


June Hur is the author of The Runaway Courtesan. She is currently awaiting the response of an agent who requested her full manuscript. When she is not working on her next book, she can usually be found at a book shop, searching for a Great Love Story to read and analyze. You can follow her on Twitter or through her blog.

Forge On, Brave Writers

18 Jan

by June Hur


You browse through FictionPress and find a story written in the same genre as you, with the same number of chapters as you, but…this author has more reviews than your story does.

 In this case:
a. You think you are a bad writer
b. For at least a moment you doubt your writing talent
c. Being beaten by 2000+ reviews ruins your day completely
d. You read over the story you were once proud of, which now fills you with shame
e. You grind your teeth
f. You feel discontent with yourself
g. You are indifferent and still think you’re the best writer

If you chose “g” then . . . you’re a lucky duck. But, generally speaking, Writerly Jealousy or Writerly Low Self-Esteem is a common cold that many writers suffer once, or several times, throughout their writing career.

However, even though there will always be writers better than you, you cannot allow jealousy, or the feeling of inferiority, eat away at your love of writing. You need to turn this negative emotion into a fuel that will drive you to want to write better.

Many of the biographies I’ve read were about writers who did not receive instant recognition. Many were about writers who died and then became famous. If these writers, who are now deemed to be literary geniuses, had listened to the voice that said “Why write when there are so many others better than you?” we would have a very small collection of classics in our library. And that would suck for us.

Likewise, I’ll wager that there are some of you, right now, who are reading this article and shaking your head, saying that you love writing, but are a not-good-enough of a writer. Yet I can just see your life being made into one of those Hollywood movies: Writer loves to write, writes a story, is crushed by the reviews (or the lack thereof), goes through a period of depression, is sent to a therapist, then is locked up in a psychiatric hospital for years, and finally decides to give writing another try, and ends up in a crowd of flashing cameras and news reporters and fans. Movie ends; the credits will roll. The audiences in the theatre will sniffle and wipe their teary eyes on their way out. They’ll slip out their phones while lining up in the washroom, tweeting: If you love to write, persevere, and your passion will shine through.


June Hur is the author of The Runaway Courtesan. She is currently awaiting the responses of two agents that requested a partial of her manuscript. When she is not working on her next book, she can usually be found at a book shop, searching for a Great Love Story to read and analyze. You can follow her on Twitter or through her blog.

Make a Book Trailer in 10 Easy Steps

28 Dec


(This is for non-profit book trailers only)

Have you ever wondered what the movie trailer of your book would be like? I’ve done it countless times. And one day, unable to wait for the unlikely future where Warner Brothers would make a trailer for me, I decided to take the matter into my own hands. In the time frame of a week I managed to create my very own book trailer. I had no past video-making experience, but I figured it out after hours of mouse-clicking and hair-tugging. To make the process much easier for you guys I’ll give you a step-by-step instruction on how to create a book trailer.

However, before I move on to these ten steps, allow me to point out the major benefit of investing a few hours into this project. Having a book trailer is a great promotional tool. Back when I had The Runaway Courtesan posted on FictionPress, I uploaded my book trailer onto YouTube, and ended up having a flood of people visiting my story. Why did my trailer spark the interest of so many? First of all, a book trailer in itself is a fascinating concept, because it is relatively new (correct me if I’m wrong, but this is my educated guess based on the fact that book trailers weren’t well-known until the creation of YouTube just a few years back). And newness intrigues. Second of all, while a FictionPress’ summary is limited to 254 letters, a book trailer, through its visuals and music, can say a lot more.

You may think: Hey, I’m far from getting published, so I’ll promote my work when I’m nearer to that day. But I would strongly recommend you to start NOW. Sadly, even though you might be a brilliant writer, in the end, becoming a bestseller all comes down to Business. This is a fact that was restated once and again by the senior editor of Harlequin Blaze, the well established agent Amy Moore-Benson, and bestselling author Deborah Cooke, in a conference I attended a few weeks ago (‘The Business Behind Romance Writing’). So if you’re determined to become a bestseller, not only must you write a great book, but you should think ahead, start planning, and begin promoting yourself.


Note: Everyone with a computer/laptop most likely has the basic movie making program (like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie). If not, you can download it for free; all you need to do is surf around.

1) Decide on whether you want to make a book trailer comprised of photos or scenes from movies. If you prefer the first, scroll down to step 9. BUT if you want to make a movie-trailer-like video…

2) Watch a lot of movie trailers before making your own. Choose and study trailers that embody the same mood and genre of the book trailer you want to create. If yours is a romantic comedy, check out some romantic comedy trailers; if it’s action pact, choose an action trailer, etc.

3) Write an outline for how you want your trailer to enfold. For example, in the beginning of the trailer, you want Jane to meet John, then show how they fall in love, then how John learns of Jane’s terminal illness, then a major conflict that occurs, and end the trailer there with a bang. Basically, a trailer is like…using visuals and music to represent your book summary. Make sure you don’t spoil the ending of your story!

4) Jot down some powerful lines/words that will catch the audience’s attention. For example, a phrase like “Jane had a secret…” will add more intrigue to the scene of a pale-faced woman dashing through a dark, foggy forest, constantly glancing over her shoulders.

5) Surf YouTube and save the links of all the interesting videos (snippets from movies are the best) that you can envision representing your story.

6) In order to convert the YouTube video into the right format to work with go to mediaconverter.org

7) Once you’re on this site: (i) click on “Enter a link”, (ii) paste in the YouTube html link, (iii) once you do, and you click on ‘OK’, a green arrow will appear that will allow you to go to the next step, (iv) Under “select an output file type” choose WMV, or whatever video formatting your program works with, (v) once you click on “OK” it’ll start to download, and you’re done this stage!

8.) Mediaconverter.org only allows you to convert five times. So, either select your videos carefully, or span out the converting to a few days so you can have many videos to work with. The latter is what I did. I chose five of the videos I REALLY needed to work with on the first day. I converted other videos as I progressed.

9) The next step is really up to you to explore. Find your movie making program on your computer, import the videos onto it, and then play around with it. Add photos, affects, add transitions, cut, paste, etc., For more information on how to work with your program, those with Windows Movie Makers can check this site out, and those with Apple Notebooks can click here.

10) When you’re satisfied with the trailer you’ve made, save it onto your computer, and then upload it onto YouTube! Make sure to add a link of your trailer to your FictionPress profile. And don’t forget to share it with a certain blog…*clears throat loudly* You can leave a link to it on the comment section below this article.


Tip #1: Don’t make your trailer too long. The average attention span of an individual is 30 seconds. So you really need to intrigue them within these few seconds. The max should be one minute. Hence, do not make a trailer using the whole five minutes of the music you selected. What I did was cut out the most climatic few seconds of E.S. Portsmouth’s Nara.

Tip #2: You’ll notice in my trailer that the first two lines that follow the other make it seem like the “Viscount” and the “Rake” are two different characters. But I meant to describe the Viscount AS the rake. Unfortunately for me, I ended up deleting the videos I cut scenes out from, so there’s no going back to fix this up. So be wiser than me and save everything; that way you can go back whenever you desire to fix any errors up easily.

Tip #3: Try to represent your protagonist in the trailer with one actor or actress. This is an issue I struggled most with, because I didn’t want the audience to get confused thinking that I had a whole jumble of characters rather than the one character the ten different actors meant to represent. You will notice that I mainly stuck to one actor (Richard Armitage) throughout my trailer. Even though the actor playing my hero changed at times, it was very brief, allowing for no confusion. The heroine changed often, but because the hero remained the same, and because the words I added like “Love” and “Desire” gives the sense that he has a romantic interest in this one woman, it helped the actresses seem like the same woman. Or so I like to think.

Tip #4: As mentioned above, I’m going to stress it again, because it’s super important. The phrases you choose to include in your video are required to indicate the players of your trailer. Two good examples where, unlike mine, there were multiple characters introduced in Covet and Prada and Prejudice.

Tip #5: Don’t forget to acknowledge the sources (movies) you used to make this video.


June Hur is the author of The Runaway Courtesan. She is currently awaiting the responses of two agents that requested a partial of her manuscript. When she is not working on her next book, she can usually be found at a book shop, searching for a Great Love Story to read and analyze. You can follow her on Twitter or through her blog.

Revising the Monster-Of-A-First-Draft

4 Nov

Have you ever read through your massive first draft and felt faint at the thought of having to revise it? Don’t worry if this is you. You are certainly not alone. The way I revised my 90k manuscript was by focusing on these five elements:

RELEVANCE – Weed out everything that is unnecessary. Ask yourself: Does this scene, dialogue, narration advance the plot/development of my story? If not, delete it—even if you absolutely adore what you’ve written. Sacrifices must be made. I, for one, omitted up to 10,000 words (with trembling fingers!) from my manuscript because it served no purpose to my story. Many other writers who have put their manuscript through intense rounds of editing would tell you the same story.

TONE – If I were to ask readers what the tone of Pride and Prejudice was, the immediate answer would be: light-hearted. If I were to ask readers what the tone of Wuthering Heights was, the answer would be: dark. Both works have consistent tones. For example, you would NOT find a scene of Mr. Darcy in the moor crying out Elizabeth Bennett’s name while tearing at his hair. It just wouldn’t suit. Hence, consistency is important! Keep an eye open for anything in your story that doesn’t complement the tone of your overall work. You don’t want any scenes to jut out awkwardly as if it had been cut out from another genre and pasted onto your manuscript.

CHARACTERIZATION – Make sure that the portrayal of your characters is consistent. Here is a simplified example: Cheated on by so many guys, Jane is shown to be jaded with men, and yet, one chapter later, she is desperately in love with John. Lame, I know. But see the contradiction there? We writers, as creators of fictional human beings, must play the psychologist. One thing I learned while revising is that it’s hard to pick up on these issues when editing one chapter per week. What will prove to be most helpful is to read your manuscript all at once. So book a few days off and read from start till finish with a red pen in hand!

SHOW, DON’T TELL – This is an advice writers will encounter everywhere. It is one of “THE” advices to writing a good fiction. Anyone can tell a story, but it takes effort to show a story. An example to illustrate my point would be something Sarah J. Maas picked up while editing my first five chapters. I had written down: “She was subjected to his indifferent stare.” Sarah asked me: “How does one look indifferent?” How, indeed? Maybe his expression was blank? The readers want to know.

HEAD HOPPING – Sounds fun, doesn’t it? It’s something I did (and still do) often in my writing. But it’s not fun for readers to read. It sometimes confuses the heck out of them (for an extreme case, try reading Virginia Woolfe’s To The Lighthouse). There are some published authors who are able to pull this off very well. I would recommend, however, sticking to the safe side by breaking the story into sections each time the “point of view” changes.

There will be moments when revising your manuscript will seem overwhelming. You might find yourself with an endless list of character inconsistencies, plot holes, and other errors that needs to be fixed. But don’t give up. Don’t let it suck the joy out of writing. Under the jumble of words there is a gem of a story that NEEDS to be told. Just take everything step by step and you will get through it all!

As quoted from Joyce Carol Oates’ book, The Faith of a Writer: “How to attain a destination is always more intriguing (involving, as it does, both ingenuity and labour) than what that destination finally is.”

If you guys have anything else you focus on when revising, feel free to share it, because I’m sure many of us (including myself) will benefit from it.


June Hur is the author of The Runaway Courtesan. She is currently awaiting the responses of two agents that requested a partial of her manuscript. When she is not working on her next book, she can usually be found at a book shop, searching for a Great Love Story to read and analyze. You can follow her on Twitter or through her blog.


28 Oct

My Dearest, Ever-Adored Readers,

(This is my way of saying HELLO!)

My name is June, though most of my Fictionpress readers know me as J.E.Wyatt—and don’t ask me what the “E” in that pseudonym stands for. I don’t know either. But I do know that it makes my pen name look more professional. As you might have noticed through my introduction, I am a very cheerful person, but strangely enough I only write Regency Noire (a term coined by Stephanie Laurens for darker historical romances).

I’m a student at the University of Toronto who lives with her sister, cousin, and a German Shepherd named after Mr. Rochester’s dog, Pilot, in Jane Eyre. Study, study, study, study is  what I do most of my time. But in between—like during subway rides, or during the early hours of the morning—I work on my current project titled THE RUNAWAY COURTESAN. I spent two years working on it, and that isn’t too long (considering it took Goethe 60 years to write Faust!). A year was spent on the first draft and another year was spent revising it. I think I put it through ten to thirteen revisions.

I planned to hold onto this manuscript for another year or two or three until I could perfect it. But I’ve reached a point where I just need to let go of this story. I’ll always think it can get better. So I decided to start QUERYING! I have about 50 agents I plan on querying to on November 20th. The list is bound to grow longer. Anyway, keep your fingers crossed for me! Whatever I go through in this next step, I’ll be sure to share it with everyone here on LTWF.

June Hur

Currently Reading: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov