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Amy Zhang


GUYS. Guess what arrived this week?

SQUEEEE!!!!!!! You know what this means? GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s an awesome collection of stories for writers at any stage, and mine just happens to be about the way I started writing. So, to enter this giveaway: In the comments, briefly tell me about how you started writing. You can earn an extra entry if you tweet about it! Next Sunday, I’ll put all of your beautiful names in a hat and the winner gets a copy! Yay! (U.S. only, please. I’m a poor high school student).
SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *dances* *trips* *twitches on ground*

EDIT: Contest is now closed! The winner is Deserae McGlothen! Deserae, please find my email under the Contact tab and give me your address. 😀 😀 😀

I Keep Forgetting to Blog About This… *cue belated confetti*

One day last summer, I was bored (okay, let’s face it–I was bored almost every day last summer, but it just happened that this particular day’s boredom led to something less boring), so I started Googling random things, and eventually this led to the search, “writing contests.” I was in between manuscripts, so I figured that I’d write a few short stories or something (maybe. Fine, I don’t actually really remember much…). I ended up finding a call for submissions for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers. So I wrote an essay. And I submitted it. And then I went back to watching reruns of Friends.
A few months ago, I got an email during Physics that said that my essay had been accepted for publication. I had to read the email twice because a) I was simultaneously trying to take notes on Bernoulli’s Principle or something, b) it took me a minute to remember what this was about, having completely forgotten that I had submitted anything at all. Once I did remember, I flailed and accidentally-on-purpose slapped my friend in the arm. She slapped me back.
But then other things happened, our teachers began throwing homework at us like possessed dodgeballers (I’ve never been good at dodgeball, okay?), and between it all, I kind of forgot about it again until I got an email a few days ago for publicity info and other exciting things. Soooo, without further ado…
Here’s the cover!

And here’s the Table of Contents (LOOK AT MY NAME :D)

And here’s the first page of my essay (this is all from Amazon’s Look Inside feature)…


(I know, the title kind of bothers me now. When I was writing it last summer, I wanted to show that I am both a teenager and a writer, but now I’m afraid that people will see it as another “teen author” thing. Ah, well. My name! Is on that page! Also, isn’t the quote amazingorgeous?!)

And here’s my bio!


(Such a lie. I text all the time. And tweet. And email. And play Fruit Ninja.

You can buy it here (B&N), or here (Amazon), or here (Chicken Soup). Also, Goodreads! I’ll be doing a giveaway sometime in the next few months, so stay tuned!

Want High Schoolers to Learn About Your Upcoming Book?

Hi, everyone!

So, you guys may or may not know that I’m the head editor of our school newspaper. Recently, I had this idea of interviewing the lovely Leigh Ann Kopans about her upcoming book, ONE (and yes, the hyperlink is a less-than-subtle hint to add it on Goodreads. DO IT! 🙂 …..

And then I managed to get ARCs of ONE displayed in both our school library and in our local library…
It’s only been up for about a week, but so far, the response has been really positive. The thing is, the kids in my school aren’t big on reading (I know. It’s seriously depressing), and I think having this opportunity is exciting for a lot my peers. I mean, it isn’t every day that you get to read about an author’s writing process, recieve advice about writing, and oogle at books that haven’t even been released yet.
I really, really like doing this. First of all, it makes high schoolers excited to read, and second of all, it captures the attention of the target audience, as well as that of teachers and librarians. I’d really like to keep doing it.
Basically, I’m wondering if any other authors debuting in 2013 or spring 2014 would be interested in being interviewed and having an ARC or two displayed in our library. Just think, you’d be getting some publicity AND helping anti-reading kids fall in love with your books. I’m also starting a writing club at our school, so during the 2013-14 school year, I’d like to have a featured author every month that the club can Skype chat (or otherwise communicate) with about writing, revising, critiquing, etc.
A few other things:
1. The featured books must be YA.
2. We have one more issue coming out this May, and five next year (November, December, February, March, and May), so the books would have to release close-ish to those dates.
3. The authors would obviously have to send me cookies (I’m only mostly joking)
EDIT: 4. The book would preferably be a debut. If it isn’t, it must be a standalone or the first of a series (I’m afraid doing second installments would be confusing for people who haven’t read the first).
If you’re interested, please shoot me an email at azhang68[at]gmail[dot]com!

EDIT: The May and February slots are filled. The October/November slot may be filled, but you might be able to convince me to double up :)

On Pleasing Everyone

This morning on Twitter, I ranted about a book. This post is about that book. So if you know what book I’m talking about and don’t want to see spoilers, please don’t read on!


I don’t think I’ve ever felt as insulted as a reader than I did this morning.

Writing is hard, okay? It’s part perspiration and part inspiration and part masochism and part sadism and part wasting time on the Internet (mostly the last one). It’s hard because of a lot of things, but I’m only going to talk about two today. First: there is going to be suffering in your book. Your characters are going to miserable for the majority of the story, or you will have no conflict and therefore no plot. A part of you is going to enjoy tormenting these characters (because ANGST), and another part of you is going to be suffering just as much as they are. Do not DO NOT DO NOT chicken out, or your readers are going to close the book.

Second: at some point, you have to relinquish control. When you got that first flash of inspiration, you made a promise to your newborn characters: I will tell your story. You are documenting lives that, even though they’re fictional, have backstories, secrets, whys. Plot twists have to make sense. Endings have to stay true to the journeys that led up to them.

When they don’t, your readers will know.

Anyway. Back to the book. I’m not usually a big fan of love triangles, but last night, I was about halfway through this book and I found myself thinking, this love triangle is amazingly executed. The author didn’t make either of the two boys the obvious choice, and the girl caught between them wasn’t annoying, and she didn’t spend her time staring out into the rain, picturing their two smexy faces. The triangle didn’t hinder the plot or drive it, and the characterization of the protagonists wasn’t dependent upon the romantic tension. And, most importantly, it seemed that the author was going to make everyone live with their choices. In fact, she could have written a fantastically happy/tragic/satisfying ending.

But then she introduced a loophole that nearly caused me to throw the book across the room. The very essence of a love triangle is that somebody has to choose and somebody has to lose, right? You don’t get to believe that one boy is dead so you can get together with the other one, and then wait till that one is dead to get together with the first one.

As a reader, I felt completely bullshitted.

Please don’t write to please people. Please don’t try to please everybody. Please don’t write an ending that betrays the themes in your book. Please don’t force an ending on your characters that isn’t theirs.

I am Not a Teen Writer

I am a writer.

I sit curled in corners with my laptop balanced on my knees, the keyboard chattering beneath my fingers, a story spilling onto my screen. I strain my eyes squinting at my dim computer screen in the ungodly hours of morning. I stay up into the even ungodlier hours of night trying to patch up plot holes or developing characters or figuring out what to say to Oprah when she asks me to be in her book club.

I am a teenager.

I waste money on clothes I don’t need (also at Cherry Berry, because what’s the world without frozen yogurt?). I procrastinate. I have a microwave and a goldfish in our editing room for the school newspaper, both of which are strictly prohibited by the school. I do stupid things. I go to Walmart with my friends, and we race each other in shopping carts. I pull all-nighters before exams. I worry about college. I’m afraid of responsibility.

I am a writer. I am a teenager. But I am not a teen writer.

We don’t call 30-year old writers “adult writers” (I mean, unless they write for adults, but THAT DOESN’T COUNT). We don’t call 50-year olds “middle-aged writers.” We don’t call 70-year old writers “senior writers.” But we’re free with the “teen writer” label, and too often, that label is associated with phrases like, they took pity on you Or they want to use your age as a marketing strategy. Or you’re good, for your age.

Listen up. I don’t want to be good for my age.

I want to write. I want to get better. I want other people to read the manuscript I’ve spent hundreds of hours working on. I want what every other writer wants.

I’m not saying that my age doesn’t matter–it does, because being sixteen affects me every bit as much as being a writer does. But being sixteen doesn’t make me less of a writer. Being a writer doesn’t make me less of a teenager.

We are writers. We don’t measure ourselves in years, or successes, or failures. We measure ourselves in words. In drafts. In revisions. In the mistakes we learned from. In the stories we promised to tell.

I am not a teen writer. I’m just a writer.

Why I Write

I have a confession to make. Last week, our AP English teacher told us to write a “Why I Write” post as homework. Well, I kind of forgot to do it, and ended up reposting my “This is Why” post on my school blog. I know, I’m a terrible person.

So, this week, I’m (finally) writing my “Why I Write” post.

*clears throat*



I don’t know.

I don’t know why I write. I write because I breathe. I write because I have to. I write because I don’t know how to stop.

Maybe I write because I’m a narcissist. Or maybe I write because I doubt myself. Maybe neither. Maybe both (probably both). Maybe it’s just that I love that letters make words and words, stories. Or that I love beautiful things, and a story is the most beautiful thing of all.

Maybe I write because there are too many worlds and not enough bridges. Because there are many chasms and many faults, many directions to go and many reasons to run away. Because I’m a dreamer. Because when I jump, I do so knowing that I might fall flat on my face. But maybe I write because I know that I may also fly.

Maybe I write because my head is full of doors, otherworlds, caged stories. There are so many stories to tell, so many beating hearts, so many breaths and bodies and lives. Maybe I write because I can’t resist the lure of motion, or maybe because I’m afraid of passing moments and oblivion. Maybe I write because I don’t want to let go.

Maybe I write because I’m insane and writing makes me more insane and less insane and embrace insanity. Maybe I write because the sound of tapping keys organizes my confusion, quiets my neuroticism and obsessiveness and nerves, makes my fear of failure a very small and silly thing.

Maybe I write to remind myself that I’m not alone, that I’m not the only person on the planet who is sad or lonely or afraid, that we all have hidden tears and fake smiles. Maybe I write to give myself a voice, a place, a name, a reason, a choice.

I don’t know why I write. I don’t know why I started. All I know is that I do write, that I will always write, that I love to write. And that’s what matters.

The One That Could Have Been

If you caught the Friends reference in the title, be my lobster.


Between finals and SATs and revising and interning, the last two weeks were probably among the most hectic of my life. So, while running around and studying and reading and missing the deadline for tennis leagues and forgetting to practice piano and trying to boost my SAT score up another thirty points and doing homework and desperately searching for time to revise, I found myself wondering if my life would have be easier if I hadn’t started writing. I wondered what it would have been like.

I came up with this.


Amy Zhang is a small and rather clueless junior with a love of books. In the morning, she gets up after hitting the snooze button 3.4 times (on average, that is–her most recent career interest is statistical analysis), gets dressed, and goes to school. She has maintained her class rank, due to the fact that she has nothing better to do in AP Chemistry than listen. She actually takes notes in her notebook instead of scribbling ideas and worldbuilding details in the margins. Her Physics grade is in good shape, because she is also considering a major in civil engineering (not that she knows what civil engineers do. She just thinks it sounds cool).

When she meets with her counselor to discuss her future, she lists off a few other careers she’s thinking about and tries very hard to ignore the fact that she isn’t quite suited to any of them. Math and science are her strengths; that’s what everyone has always told her, so it must be true. Sure, she likes reading, but she can’t exactly read for a living. Or at least, she had never heard of such a career. Anyway, her AP English grade is wobbling; she only took this class so she could write it on her college application. Her mind obviously isn’t meant for literature. Her world is made of numbers and lines, and creativity is a childish thing.

After she goes home, she does her homework and plays piano, and then she reads, because frankly, she doesn’t have much else to do. Writing is a mystery to her, authors are distant and mystical figures, and she is only vaguely aware of the existence of a publishing industry. She digs through an old box out of boredom and comes across an old notebook. It’s mostly empty. The first few pages hold a story with no end, and she smiles because she was once silly enough to try to turn her imagination into a tangible thing.


The fact that I was thisclose to living that reality scares the hell out of me. There’s a line, I think, between writing and being a writer, and when you cross it, there’s no going back. You don’t write, you are a writer. Words become a desperately, irrevocably living part of you. Don’t ignore them. Don’t abandon them. Write until your fingers are brittle and your heart is raw with all the stories you’ve told. Write until your words are greater than your doubts. Just write.

(Also, what would you guys have been doing if you hadn’t started writing? Share! I’m curious 🙂

2012 Recap

Here’s a secret: I hate New Year’s Eve, for three reasons: 1) For the first six months, my dates are always wrong, 2) January always feels like an enormously long Monday, and 3) I always look back and feel all down because I hadn’t accomplished all of the things I’d wanted to accomplish that year. So…I wrote this to prove to myself that I didn’t spend the entire year lying on the couch watching Big Bang Theory.
January: Made a New Year’s resolution to sign with an agent this year. Began re-querying my YA fantasy, WILDFLOWER. Sent nine queries, received four full requests. Fell out of my chair during Global Studies upon receiving a request from an awesome agent just ten days later.
February: Officially signed with the wonderful Emily Keyes of the L. Perkins Agency on the 23rd. Started revising WILDFLOWER for subs.
March: Made a twitter and this blog. Tried to balance revising, school, and extracurriculars with arguable success.
April: Finished revising WILDFLOWER…but it came in at almost 125K. Started working on another round of revisions with the sole purpose of cutting words.
May: Struck up a conversation regarding BEA, fake boobs, and man purses on Twitter, and irrevocably became writing friends with John, Ari, Olivia, and Mark. Started the For Love of YA blog with my wonderful critique partner/soulmate/brother-from-another-mother, Mark.
June: Took exams, finished up sophomore year, went to a few graduation parties, did some other generally stupid things to celebrate the start of summer vacation, like getting kicked out of Walmart for pushing my friend Noah down the isles at four in the morning, which, apparently, is frowned upon. Finished another round of revisions for WILDFLOWER and managed to cut 20,000 words. Started discussing subs, which was super exciting. Turned sixteen. Realized that I really, really needed to find the time to take Driver’s Ed, because all evidence suggested that I would be the last person in my grade to get my license. Ended up become very apathetic towards the subject as the month went on. Continued mooching rides off friends.
July: Got a marketing internship with Entangled Publishing, which I was truly terrible at. Wrote a novel about wolves and stars and hot chocolate. Officially sent WILDFLOWER out on subs. A few houses requested the manuscript. Then, on the 25th, I got an email while wandering through Walmart titled “Don’t Freak Out,” saying that a senior editor at Harlequin wanted to take it to acquisitions. Naturally, I freaked out. Actually, I almost fell over. A Walmart employee caught me and asked me if I was okay in a very Oh-crap-this-child-is-insane kind of way. I hugged her. And then ran away.
August: Became an intern for Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Larsen Pomada. Read some full requests, loved being on the other side of the querying process. Waited for the acquisitions meeting. Made the varsity team for tennis. Realized that real-life-summer-vacation wasn’t nearly as long as Phineas and Ferb’s summer vacation, frantically tried to finish AP homework.
September: Got kicked off the varsity team for tennis, which was…sad (meh. I still lettered, so I’m still putting it on college applications). Started junior year with a totally screwed up schedule, tried taking Pre-Calc as an independent study (which was a total fail), ended up having to take it as an online course. Assumed the editor-in-chief position for our school newspaper, published our first issue (which was so awfully awful it was just awful…but we figured out what to do by the second issue). Realized that taking AP Chemistry was probably one of the worst decisions that I had ever made. WILDFLOWER received its first rejection. I moped. Found out that the editor at Harlequin got called to jury duty, so the acquisitions meeting had been moved back yet again.
October: Found out that another senior editor at Harlequin had expressed interest in WILDFLOWER, and that both would take it to the board. Got an official date for the acquisitions meeting, which was later cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy. Signed up and outlined for NaNo. Got a phone call at six in the morning saying that a boy in my grade had died in a car accident, almost quit NaNo because the novel I’d planned to write was about a car crash, and I didn’t think I could handle it emotionally.
November: Received the news that the board at Harlequin ultimately decided to pass on WILDFLOWER. Could not find enough chocolate to smother the sobby feels. Decided to participate in NaNoWriMo because I was tired of moping. Didn’t sleep very much. Was bribed into going Black Friday shopping, which was…terrifying. Finished my YA contemp, FOR EVERY LIFE, on November 30th.
December: Sent FOR EVERY LIFE off to my agent and critique partners, who all seemed to really like it. Started talking about subbing it. Had a mild life crisis regarding what to do with my life. Spent winter break studying for the SATs, revising FOR EVERY LIFE, and trying to watch all ten seasons of Friends. Wrote this blog post. Am currently realizing that I have not, in fact, wasted an entire year of my life doing nothing of importance.
In all seriousness, this was a great year. I wrote, I read, I made friends, and honestly, I’m so, so thankful for all of you. So…happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!

In Which I Chicken Out of Swearing

Hi! I’m back! Yay! There are too many exclamation marks in this line!

I had planned to give you guys a basic overview of my NaNo novel last week, but things happened (namely, homework), and I didn’t get around to it. So I’m doing it now! (Also, I was tagged last week by the lovely Olivia for the Liebster Award, so…I will eventually get around to that, too. Someone poke me with a stick if I don’t. Please).

Here’s a pitch for FOR EVERY LIFE:

Liz Emerson is not a good person. She spreads rumors. She drinks. She kisses her friends’ boyfriends. And she’s ruined a few lives here and there. Okay, so she’s ruined a lot of lives. But because she is Liz Emerson, because she is ruthless and heartless and fearless, people don’t expect her to care.

She does.

Liz Emerson, you see, is drowning. She is suffocating beneath the weight of all the things she has done, and now, she simply can’t go on. But because she’s hurt enough people in her short and catastrophic attempt at life, she makes her suicide look like a car accident, certain that she will die and be forgotten.

Except. She doesn’t die.

Told from the perspective of Liz’s childhood imaginary friend, FOR EVERY LIFE is a story about the loss of innocence, the art of being alive, and a heartbroken girl’s countdown to giving up.

And here’s a small excerpt! I literally closed my eyes, scrolled through the manuscript, stopped at a random place, and copy/pasted it below. Enjoy! 

WARNING: There is exactly one naughty word below. So. You’ve been warned.


There are three kinds of people in Liz’s world after the surgery is pronounced successful.
There are the ones who are breathless, shaking, crying in that crushing and desperate kind of relief—namely, Julia and Monica. When the doctor first told Monica that her daughter had not, in fact, died on the operating table, Monica went to Julia and held her, because she couldn’t hold Liz.
There are those who aren’t at all surprised. They shrug and say that they were never worried, that they knew Liz was strong enough, and this is true enough. Then they sit around and share stories about Liz, laughing together at the things she had done, things that were once b*tchy but were now decidedly hilariousand awesome and so freaking legit.
And then there is Matthew Deringer, who is just the slightest bit disappointed, because he had already ordered flowers for the funeral.
…yeah, okay. I chickened out of the naughty word thing.

NaNo Recap (or, Why I Have Been MIA for the Last Month)

So, for those of you who don’t know, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time ever this year! And it was insane. And exhilarating. And exhausting. And so much fun. And here’s a recap of what happened.

Before November 1st, I flip-flopped back and forth on whether or not I actually wanted to do NaNo. As you may or may not know, I’m a junior this year. Which means homework. And standardized testing. And more homework. And more standardized testing. And a whole crap-ton clubs and other things-I-do-to-get-into-a-semi-decent-college-and-maybe-have-a-future. And Forensics (which is a public speaking thing, not a dead body thing) season is about to begin, and winter tennis leagues are starting up. So I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to NaNo. But due to a number of very convincing CP’s (oh, you know who you are. Stop trying to look innocent ;), I signed up on the website and made outlines and was totally pumped for November to begin.

The novel I planned to write was about a girl dying in a hospital from a car accident. Her car had slid down a hill and crashed into a tree.

On October 29th, a boy in my grade died when his car crashed into a tree.

So…I almost quit NaNo then. See, I go to this teensy school where everyone knows everyone, and our grade only has about a hundred people, so…yeah. That was a very, very hard day of school. I sat down to finish outlining that night, and I  just couldn’t.

What happened? I don’t really know. I didn’t just want to sit there and mope, I guess. I wanted to distract myself. And so, all of my emotions kind of poured into the story, and it ended up being so personal that I’m actually kind of nervous to let people see it.

Also, my other novel (WILDFLOWER, remember?) was supposed to go to acquisitions in the last week of October. Because of Hurricane Sandy, it got moved back. Well, they ended up having it in the first week of November. And I had really high hopes because two senior editors were presenting it. And it had been at acquisitions for so long. And, I dunno, the two editors actually seemed to like it.

Only…the publishing house ended up passing it on because they had a similar project coming out soon.

And yes, I was crushed. I was at a friend’s house when my agent called with the news (and yeah, said friend overheard everything and blackmailed me into telling the whole story, so now there’s one more person who knows…I was SO annoyed), and I still had to go volunteer that night and pretend everything was normal while in reality I just wanted to kick unicorns off a cliff, and honestly, I just didn’t want to write. I was in a very deep why-the-heck-am-I-still-doing-this-I’m-obviously-no-good funk. So the NaNo novel just sat there for a while. I was also very rarely home on weekends this November, and our teachers decided to just bury us in homework, so between all of that, I had almost no hope that I’d finish NaNo.

What happened? Um, I got sick of feeling sorry for myself. Guys, after a while, moping gets boring. And once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. Also, I admit it–I really wanted to win NaNo (I have this weird thing with schedules. Once I make one, I am obsessed with staying on track). And honestly? I just wanted to finish.

And I did.