Lyn Liao Butler: On Letting Your Ideas Develop

Debut author Lyn Liao Butler explains how her novel, The Tiger Mom's Tale, evolved during the writing process.
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Lyn Liao Butler was born in Taiwan and moved to the States when she was seven. In her past and present lives, she has been: a concert pianist, a professional ballet and modern dancer, a fitness studio owner, a personal trainer and instructor, an RYT-200 hour yoga instructor, a purse designer with an Etsy shop and most recently, author of multi-cultural women's fiction. Lyn did not have a Tiger Mom. She came about her over-achieving all on her own. When she is not torturing clients or talking to imaginary characters, Lyn enjoys spending time with her FDNY husband, their son (the happiest little boy in the world), two stubborn dachshunds, and trying crazy yoga poses on a stand-up paddleboard. So far, she has not fallen into the water yet.

Lyn Liao Butler

Lyn Liao Butler

In this post, Liao Butler explains how her novel, The Tiger Mom's Tale, evolved during the writing process, and much more!

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Writing the Personal Essay 101

There will still be knowledge and ideas, but they will rise not from reason, a product of the mind, but from the experiencing of the writer's life. The course also helps the writer investigate the origins of the personal desire to write and to identify goals for the writing itself and for publication.

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Name: Lyn Liao Butler
Literary agent: Rachel Brooks, BookEnds Literary Agency
Book title: The Tiger Mom’s Tale
Publisher: Berkley/Penguin Random House
Release date: July 6, 2021
Genre: Asian American Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Elevator pitch for the book: When an American woman inherits the wealth of her Taiwanese family, she travels to confront them about their betrayals of the past in this stunning debut by Lyn Liao Butler.

The Tiger Mom's Tale by Lyn Liao Butler

The Tiger Mom's Tale by Lyn Liao Butler

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What prompted you to write this book?

I was born in Taiwan but moved to the States when I was seven and was raised here. I’ve always felt American on the inside but looked Asian on the outside. I wanted to tell a story about someone who feels this way, and who has to reconcile the two sides of her heritage in order to find out who she really is.

(Telling Our Family Stories: 4 Reasons Why It’s More Important Than Ever to Write Our Family Narratives)

How long did it take to go from idea to publication?

I started writing this book in January of 2015. Four years (and three manuscripts) later, I finally signed with an agent, and the book was sold to my dream publisher a few months after. It took about four-and-a-half years to go from an idea into a deal. And yes, the idea changed drastically. The Tiger Mom’s Tale is a complete rewrite of that first book I wrote in 2015 but has the same characters.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

Yes, I learned how slow publishing is! And that there’s so much waiting, at every stage of the game, from querying agents, to being on submission, to waiting for edits, book cover, getting a release date, etc. Writers need to learn patience and the best way not to focus on how slow everything is, is to write something else (or in my case, write a few other something else's).

(The Story That Drove Me to Write)

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

Not so much surprises, more like “eye-opening” moments. When I started writing it in 2015, I really thought I could just write a book, get an agent right away and sell it. I was so naïve on the whole process. I actually sent that first book off to agents without a single person reading the book besides myself. I cringe now to think of agents reading that first version. I’m sorry, to any agents who requested the full and read it!

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

It portrays a Taiwanese-American woman and her experiences of looking Asian on the outside and how she is treated in America. At the same time, when she is in Taiwan, she is told she’s not Asian enough, or not really Taiwanese. I hope readers can get a sense of what it’s like to be an Asian woman in America. I also wanted readers to get to know the Taiwanese culture and foods, if they are not familiar. I want readers to see Asians as Americans too, and not just “other” who should go back to where they came from (even though some are born in America).

Lyn Liao Butler: On Letting Your Ideas Develop

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Develop a thick skin as soon as you can because the publishing journey can be brutal. There is rejection at every turn (unless you are one of those super lucky which is very, very rare), from querying, being on sub, and reader reviews. Also, try to connect with other writers at the same stage you are at for every stage, because they will truly save your sanity as you navigate this exciting, but often stressful journey.

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