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Amy Zhang

NaNoWriMo

The Next Big Thing Meme

The fabulous Lori M. Lee tagged me for this one! I’m going to cheat a bit and tell you about both my about-to-be-published book and my WIP, because ERMAHGERD, guys, I’m so excited for both of them. Okay? Okay.

(Side note: those of you who have added my book on Goodreads, THANK YOU, but that isn’t the official Goodreads page. My publisher didn’t make it. And whoever did mixed me up with another author, so…yeah. Not me. I’ll let you guys know when there’s a book to add–it’ll be around the time that I get to share my title with all of you!)

1. WHAT IS THE WORKING TITLE OF YOUR NEXT BOOK?

Still can’t tell! But I CAN tell you that I submitted it as FOR EVERY LIFE, which is a reference to Newton’s Third Law of Motion, and I CAN tell you that the title of my WIP is MEMENTO MORI, which is Latin for “remember you will die.” Mori is also the name of my protagonist (who’s dying. Shocker, huh?)

2. WHERE DID YOUR IDEA 

FOR 

THE BOOK 

COME FROM?

UNTITLED (we’ll just call it that for now–isn’t it easier?) actually began as two short stories–one about an abandoned imaginary friend, and one about a girl who tries to commit suicide. UNTITLED is their lovechild. I’m not sure where the ideas for the two original short stories came from, but I knew there was a connection between them and I knew I wanted to develop that connection into a full-length novel.

MEMENTO, on the other hand, has been sitting in the back of my mind for…a year? Two? I don’t remember where the idea came from, or when I got it, but I remember thinking, “I have to write this story. I have to.” 


3. IN WHAT GENRE DOES YOUR BOOK FALL?


UNTITLED is YA contemporary with a touch of magical realism. MEMENTO is YA contemporary with a touch of ice cream (or a lot of ice cream).


4. WHAT ACTORS WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY THE PART OF YOUR CHARACTERS IN THE MOVIE RENDITION?


Something about UNTITLED: there are no descriptions of the character’s appearances. None. I want people to be able to see themselves in Liz and Kennie and Julia. I want them to be able to see their friends. I want the characters to be anyone, everyone. So no actors 🙂

As for MEMENTO….I don’t know I’m just really bad with actors and stuff okay LEAVE ME ALONE


5. WHAT IS THE ONE-SENTENCE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR BOOK?


UNTITLED is about a girl who tries to end her short and catastrophic attempt at life, told from the perspective of her abandoned imaginary friend.

MEMENTO MORI is about a girl with half an immune system, a boy with half of his muscles, a cat named Schrödinger, and the road trip they take to solve the paradox of life.


6. WHO IS PUBLISHING YOUR BOOK?


UNTITLED is coming out in fall of 2014 from Greenwillow/HarperCollins. MEMENTO MORI is not currently under contract.


7. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE MANUSCRIPT?

I wrote the first draft of UNTITLED during NaNoWriMo 2012–so, a month. I’m actually super proud of that, mostly because November was a rough month for me, and I was under word count the entire time. I managed to pound out something like 13K in the last two days. Then I revised for about two months, and it sold the following February.

As for MEMENTO…well. I’ve been drafting for the last four months or so, and I have about another 15K to go.

8. WHAT OTHER BOOKS WOULD YOU COMPARE YOUR STORY TO WITHIN YOUR GENRE?


UNTITLED: BEFORE I FALL meets THIRTEEN REASONS WHY

MEMENTO: Hmmm….I’m not sure. My CP says it reminds him a bit of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, except, you know, far less AMAZEBALLS.


9. WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?


“Isn’t this basically the same as question #2?”


Lori’s answer, which I’m seconding. 


10. WHAT ELSE ABOUT THE BOOK MIGHT PIQUE THE READER’S INTEREST?


UNTITLED is told by an imaginary friend, which opened up these incredible options for the story. The story is actually told in a non-linear fashion–there are three main times: a countdown from seven days before Liz crashes her car, a countdown of the hour before Liz crashes her car, and the day after Liz crashes her car. And there’s a chapter with eleven words. I love that chapter.

In MEMENTO, Mori has written letters to the dead for as long as she can remember, and the book is actually her last notebook of letters. Among the addressees: Maurice Sendak, Gregory Peck, Nannerl Mozart, Georgiana Cavendish, and, of course, Schrödinger. I really love playing around with narration (have you noticed?)
I’m tagging fellow Greenwillow author Chessie Zappia, whose book ASK AGAIN LATER sounds totally amazefrackingballs and Mark O’Brien, because he’s working on this new MS that I want everyone to be excited about. Take it away, guys!


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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!

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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.

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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.

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