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Amy Zhang

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#MyWritingProcess Blog Tour

Hi everyone! WOOOT NEW WEBSITE!!! What do you guys think? Isn’t Tessa Elwood BRILLIANT?

So the lovely Chessie Zappia tagged me for the #MyWritingProcess blog tour, and I was supposed to post this yesterday but I forgot because I am TERRIBLE. But…um, better late than never? Right?

What am I working on?

…to be totally honest, I’m mostly working on graduating right now. I haven’t really gotten the chance to just sit down and write in SO FREAKING LONG, and I get all crabby when I don’t get to write, so basically I’m constantly raging these days. But I’m working on yet another outline/draft of THIS IS WHERE THE WORLD ENDS, my contemporary WIP about a girl and a boy who make a bet over whether people in general get miracles or apocalypses. I’m also worldbuilding STORYWEAVER, a fantasy set in a castle that sits at the top of a waterfall, in a ridonculously pretty notebook. And still brainstorming MEMENTO MORI, a contemp about a girl with HIV who kidnaps her grandma and takes a road trip with her best friend. And counting down the days to FALLING INTO PLACE’s release, of course (112 DAYS. NOBODY PANIC).

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I think what sets FALLING INTO PLACE apart at first glance is the narrator. Writing through an imaginary narrator is the coolest–it opens up so many possibilities. Time isn’t strict, order is up for interpretation.  It’s was so fun and so freeing to write, and I think it’ll make for a very different reading experience as well. But beyond that, I think what sets FALLING apart are the characters. I know I’m biased, but I really do love these characters, and I also understand how damn unlikable they are at times. I wrote a book about bitches, guys. They aren’t the best people in the world. They just aren’t, but I wanted to make sure that they were people that readers could cheer for regardless. I hope I succeeded.

Why do I write what I do?

Because I have something to say about it. FALLING INTO PLACE is about high school and bullying and good friends and bad friends and everything you overhear in the hallway. It’s everything I wanted to say during high school and didn’t. THIS IS WHERE THE WORLD ENDS is about equality and slut-shaming and victim-blaming…um, everything I wanted to say during high school and didn’t (also, for this one, I have this Paper of Rage titled “I Need to Write This Book Because,” and it’s covered in all-caps and venting). STORYWEAVER, on the other hand, just intoxicates me. I love worldbuilding. I’m making up the religion for the world right now, writing myths and variations and children’s bedtime stories, and it’s, like–I get drunk off that stuff. I love it.

How does my writing process work?

I usually start with a blank sheet of paper. I write a one-sentence summary of the idea, usually. And then I start drawing arrows–the characters appear, the plot develops, lines of dialogue start popping into my head. From there, I start making an outline. I usually make chapter-by-chapter outlines…until I get to halfway-ish point of the book. That’s where I start getting lazy and impatient to actually WRITE. So I do.

And it’s that easy. The words always flow and the characters behave and it just works.


There’s a lot of coffee. A lot of chocolate. Usually some tears. Usually some throwing of nearby objects and pouting. Writing is damn hard. It’s also completely worth it.

I draft using Microsoft Word 2000. It still has the little paper clip dude. I have 2013, but I rarely use it. For STORYWEAVER, I’ve been using Scrivener. I make a schedule. I do my best to stick to it. I give myself stickers when I reach goals. When I revise, I always start with a blank document. And then I revise again. And again. It goes to critique partners. I revise. It goes to my agent. I revise. And then it starts all over again.

Next week on the blog tour:

Stephanie DiazTwenty-one-year-old Stephanie Diaz wrote her debut novel when she should’ve been making short films and listening to class lectures at San Diego State University. When she isn’t lost in books, she can be found singing, marveling at the night sky, or fan-girling over TV shows. Visit her online at


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“BLOGFEST: Class of 2k14 is Thankful For…”

Hey, guys! The Class of 2K14 is doing this blogfest for Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for? Leave it in the comments!
I’m thankful for everyone who has supported my writing—agent, editor, friends, family. I’m thankful for my critique partners, who deserve a category all to themselves. I’m thankful that my book sold to my dream publisher. I’m thankful that I’m debuting with so many amazing people. I’m thankful that this year has given me the opportunity to grow up a little. I’m thankful that this thing called perspective exists. I’m thankful for this line in A Member of the Wedding: “It seems to me I feel the world going around very fast. I feel it turning and it makes me dizzy.”

Most of all, I’m thankful that though my parents often refused to buy me candy or clothes or movies, they never refused to buy me books.

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A Short Story by Yours Truly

Evidently I was not thinking straight when I agreed to participate in Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain this month. Because this month’s prompt is, “Write a retelling of your favorite fairytale, myth, or legend,” and it means that you will all be subjected to my writing. Apologies. Bumblebee.
So, I chose to retell the story of Icarus from Greek mythology. This story has some meaning to me because it was the first Greek myth I ever heard (and so started my small obsession with different mythologies), and I’ve actually spent a lot of time thinking about it. See, the original is one of those kids-you-better-listen-to-your-parents-or-there-will-be-extreme-consequences-like-you-will-DIE stories. So Daedalus and his son, Icarus, get put in jail by King Minos and y’know, since Daedalus is such a genius, he builds them each a pair of wings to escape. But his less-genius son doesn’t listen when his dad tells him not to fly too close to the water or the sun, or the wings will melt. So…he dies. Supposedly, he gets caught up in his own awesome flyingness. I never really liked this. And so…my take on it is pasted below. Don’t come after me with pitchforks, kay? Kay.
Footsteps. They are my greatest fear.
Footsteps mean pain. Humiliation. Anger. Footsteps mean that someone is coming, and that is never good for us.
My mouth tastes like metal, from the cell and my blood. It tastes like darkness, because that is all I’ve been for so, so long.
Footsteps. My heart.
I hear nothing else.
The door opens wide and then the guards are standing above me, and the air around me is stale with their breaths and ale and sweat. They take my arms and drag me in a thousand directions. I hear my father crying out my name, and he is answered with only footsteps and laughter and their echoes, because my voice was among the first pieces of me to die. I can make out my father’s vague shadow, held back by another guard as the rest pull me beyond his reach. Fingers beneath rough gloves grasp my chin and shove it in his direction, so he can watch my face as they beat me.
There is a whisper of old words above me, a taunt or warning from the king—I cannot be bothered to care. I hear my father say my name again.
Everything tastes of metal.
I dream of the sun, but I can only conjure up a weak, watery thing. I have lost track of the days since I saw it last; I have lost the memory of warmth. I remember only that I used to close my eyes and lift my face to the sky, and I would see red, red, red.
Red. Even this color is faint. I am a shadow that bleeds black blood, hidden in a darkness made of invisible shapes.
Sun. Red. Dreams. Sea. Sky. Wind.
I remember the words.
I only remember the words.
I flinch at his touch, and stagnant air rushes into my mouth as I gasp a plea that no one can hear. The floor of the cell is cold, damp against my cheek, and I am not alone. The latter is what I fear.
Please. I consider the shape of the word on my lips, because my pride broke when my mind did. It sits on my tongue, patient, but my throat can’t gather the sound.
The fingers stay on my face, almost tentative, stroking back my matted hair and circling the bruises. Not the leather touch of guards. But the calloused, dry touch of my father, roughened by dreams and failures.
He says my name. He says it again, again, again.
I say nothing. I close my eyes and do not allow myself this moment, because it is passing.
He whispers things, escape, leave this place, back home. Wonderful dreams, wonderful failures.
But then he is pulling me upright, and there is so much pain, a thousand small agonies and a thousand greater ones. I am too tired to scream. I let him drag me to my feet, and I am too tired to ask why.
He straps things to my arms, leather that makes my heart twist and clench and listen for footsteps. My breath breaks and I know nothing but fear, fear, fear. The leather tightens, and gently, my father’s hand turns my face around, saying incomprehensible words. My eyes blur and my vision shifts, and I know, suddenly, that I am dreaming.
For when I turn, I see that my father has given me wings.
And through my fractured vision, I see that he has sprouted them, too. Light, lovely things made of metal and a thousand feathers and countless other things that the guards have left unwanted. This is why the king fears my father. This is why we are here—not for my father’s genius, nor his deceit, but because he knows how to take broken things and make them beautiful.
He says my name again and tells me to look at him, his lips moving in shapes that finally, I recognize. Stay out of the sun, stay above the water, or the wings will give way. He does not let me look away until I nod, and then he takes me to the door. It takes only a single moment for my father to open it, and a strange thing rises inside me, a dark sadness twisted around a distant, bitter smile, because my father made this cage, and all of its secrets are his. The king didn’t chain him. I did.
He takes me out into the hallway and my heart fights inside me, my blood cold as everything I am stills, listening for footsteps. But my father is standing by a window in the tower, and behind him is the wide, wide sea, calling. The light is blinding and piercing and wonderful, and I breathe as though I could capture the sunshine in my chest.
My father swings his arm back and the glass shatters into a thousand stars, and I lean forward and fall.
My stomach clenches and my heart is lost. The rocks and the ocean spell out my beautiful death, and I have never been more alive.
And then I spread my wings. I soar. The wind lifts me and sends me spiraling upwards, and the sky cries my name. The air smells of salt and sunshine and a boundless world, and my name comes from a thousand and one directions.
So alive. I am so alive.
I lift my face upwards, drinking the sun. It stretches its fingers towards me and lures my sweat from my skin. My wings are wide, bending as the sky does, and I stretch higher, higher. The blue is endless, above me and below me and around me, and I have forgotten which is the sky and which is the sea, for there are suns on either side of me.
The wings.
My father’s words come back too late, after I have renounced sanity and given up sense. I am flying down and falling up, and the sea and sky are open to me. There are a thousand feathers swirling, catching the sun on their melting tips, and I am falling surrounded in so, so much light.
My father cries my name.
Then a flurry of color, and a passing, and then nothing. There is no pain.
There are no footsteps.

August 4 – – Musings From Neville’s Navel
August 5 – – Crazy Red Pen
August 6 – – Lily’s Notes in the Margins
August 7 –– Olivia’s Opinions
August 8 – –Snippets, Slices, and Scenes
August 9 – – Mark O’Brien Writes
August 10 – – One Life Glory
August 11 – – A Story of a Dreamer
August 12 – – Life, Among Other Things
August 13 – – Blog of a (Maybe) Teen Author
August 14 – – The Teenage Writer
August 15 – – Scribbling Beyond the Margins
August 16 – – Dragons, Unicorns, and Other Random Things
August 17 – – Kirsten Writes!
August 18 – –The Zebra Clan
August 19 – – Miriam Joy Writes
August 20– – All I Need Is A Keyboard
August 21 ––The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
August 22 – Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

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