Friday, February 26, 2016

Dove Exiled Blog Tour: Karen Bao Guest Post

I am so glad to have Karen Bao with us today to discuss about her journey from manuscript to publication. Bao has written Dove Arising and Dove Exiled, which are the first two novels in The Dove Chronicles trilogy. The Dove Chronicles is a dystopian trilogy that takes place 200 years from now. Thanks to Penguin and Karen for having me be a part of this blog tour.

Title: Dove Exiled
Author: Karen Bao
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Pages: 336
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks |
The Book DepositoryIndieBound

Synopsis (from

The thrilling follow-up to the groundbreaking debut Dove Arising.

Phaet Theta fled the Moon and has been hiding on Earth with her friend Wes and his family. But Phaet’s past catches up with her when the Lunar Bases attack the community and reveal that Phaet is a fugitive. She’s torn between staying on Earth with Wes—whom she’s just discovered her feelings for—and stowing away on a Moon-bound ship to rescue her siblings from the wrath of the government who killed their mother. But when Phaet makes the agonizing decision to return to the Moon, she finds the rebel movement there has turned her into their “Girl Sage,” a symbol of their struggle. She’s the biggest celebrity on the Moon: half the people worship her, and the other half want her dead.

To this day, writing Dove Arising and getting it published feels like a dream. Although I’d always loved books, I never dreamed of sending one out into the world. Here’s the story of my transition from violinist-scientist-wannabe to young adult author.

2012 was a ticking time bomb of a year. As a high school senior waiting to hear back from colleges, I chewed my fingernails down to the pink, constantly searching for an escape from the questions that constantly nagged me: Do you really think you can “make it” as a science major? Are you ready to leave home, anyway?

I combined my insecurities with a hefty dose of science nerdiness and a large pinch of my mother’s stories growing up in communist China. After many sleepless nights (and missed homework assignments), the mixture yielded a story about a 15-year-old introvert named Phaet living on the moon in the year 2347. When her mother is “quarantined” for illness, she must leave home and join the brutal Lunar Militia to save her younger siblings from destitution.

The first draft was crap. As a seventeen-year-old who’d never studied writing, I knew it was bad but had no idea how to fix it. However, I also knew that parts of it were good: for example, I could feel Phaet’s quiet, innocent brilliance, and believed I had captured her likeness on paper.

So I decided to try and get it published.

At this point, the publishing process was a complete mystery to me. Authors (with a capital “A”) wrote brilliant things, sent them into a vacuum…and out came shiny, beautiful bound books. Daunted, I reached out to the one person I knew in publishing: Simon Lipskar at Writers House. He’d conducted an orchestra I’d played in during middle school. My email essentially said, “Remember me, the violinist? I wrote a book. What do I do now?”

Because Simon represented Christopher Paolini, an author I’d admired since childhood, I expected that he’d give me a few editorial suggestions. Maybe talk about how to submit manuscripts to agents.

Instead, he offered representation, saying that my writing had a strong voice and was full of promise. That day was the first and only time I’ve cried of happiness.

Of course, there were caveats: the manuscript was in a dire state, and I’d have to devote months to revising it before we could submit it to publishers. But none of that mattered as much as the fact that I now had an agent.

All of this happened three days after I’d graduated from high school.

When Simon said I needed to revise, he meant it. With the help of a brilliant editor at Writers House, Genevieve, I cut out the last third of the book and reworked the first two-thirds until it was nearly unrecognizable. We exchanged fifteen-page edit letters and emails upon emails of brainstorming. Amid all my biology-major schoolwork, I worked on logical consistency, world-building, and getting to know my “side” characters. Every time I cut out a scene, I felt the page bleeding, even though I knew it had to happen.

The process took a year. By that time, the book was tighter, stronger, and seemed to flow effortlessly. And I was grateful for the struggle, because I felt like a real writer now. I could see problems before they arose, at least more often than before. Now, after finishing the last two books in the Dove Chronicles, I couldn’t be more thankful that Simon and Genevieve put me through Editorial Bootcamp.

I’m a better writer now – but that doesn’t mean that I’ll stop getting fifteen-page edit letters. My next project is a high fantasy series with two narrators that’s infused with the marine ecology I’ve studied in college. As I write bigger books, I expect to hit bigger problems – but at least I know I can solve them.


Karen Bao is a writer, musician, and aspiring scientist. She has a brother three years younger than her and a violin sixty years older than her. Born in California and raised in New Jersey, she currently studies environmental biology at college in New York City. Karen began writing Dove Arising at the age of seventeen.

For more information about Karen Bao, check out her website.

Don't forget to check the rest of the Dove Exiled Blog Tour!

02/22/16: Live Love Read | Book Playlist
02/23/16: Steph In Wonderland | Guest Post
02/24/16: ButterMyBooks | Top 10 List
02/25/16: Caught Between The Pages | Interview
02/26/16: Nicole's Novel Reads | Guest Post
02/29/16: Pretty Sassy Cool | Dreamcasting Post
03/01/16: Addicted Readers | 25 Random Things About Me
03/02/16: Live To Read | Book Playlist
03/03/16: Fashion By The Book | Interview
03/04/16: Seeing Double In Neverland | Top 10 List


  1. Karen's publishing story is so inspirational, especially to aspiring authors who didn't go to school with writing in mind, such as myself. I'm so happy for Karen nd I'm really excited for her next series! Fantasy isn't really my thing but aspects of marine ecology are incredibly fascinating! Thanks, Nicole for featuring Karen Bao!

    1. Isn't it? I loved reading her story! I am super excited for her next series. Although I am not a huge fan of high fantasy for the most part, I love marine ecology and anything biology related!