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Amy Zhang


I’m Feeling Lucky

Last year at this time, I was waiting to announce my book deal. FALLING INTO PLACE was in between titles. I was euphoric every time I thought about the fact that my baby book was going to be a real book, a book that sat on bookshelves, a book that people would hold and read and maybe even love. I was working off the sleep deck that resulted from getting up at ungodly hours every morning to write. My hair was twenty-four inches long. I was getting ready to take what would hopefully be my last SAT (it wasn’t).

Two years ago at this time, my agent and I were just getting ready to submit my YA fantasy, WILDFLOWER. Remember WILDFLOWER? I was halfway through high school. I was just starting to get to know my critique group. I was working on another fantasy about a nameless girl and a lost boy and wolves. Somewhere, jotted down in one of my idea folders, was a line about a girl who explained her suicide in terms of Newton’s laws of motion.

Three years ago at this time, I had just finished drafting my query. I was going to send my first one on the last day that I was fourteen. I had just finished freshman year, and it hadn’t been as horrible as everyone made it out to be. I still didn’t like Wisconsin. It was getting too hot too quickly, and the world smelled like cow manure. I closed myself in my closet every day to write. Maybe because I wasn’t distracted there. Maybe because in the dark, I could pretend I was somewhere else.

Four years ago at this time, I had just finished my first manuscript. It was about five kids who saved the world from villains based off of kids in school I didn’t like. It was bad. More importantly, I had learned to acknowledge that it was bad. And more important still—I had decided not to give up. I was going to keep writing.

Five years ago at this time, I was clueless. I didn’t know that I was about to move to Wisconsin, didn’t know that the move would make me so determined to be miserable. I thought I would grow up and go into the math or science field. Maybe both. All I knew about writing was that I wasn’t good at it. When we got our final report cards that year, one of my friends looked over and was surprised. “I can’t believe you scored higher than me in English,” she said. “I’m better at the, you know, creative stuff. And you’re better at math and stuff.”

I’ve been reflecting on all of that a lot this week. I’ve seen a few reviews of FALLING already. I’ve seen Waiting on Wednesdays. I’ve seen that people are looking forward to reading it, and it blows me away. It doesn’t seem real—ever. I say I can’t even a lot, too much, because I. Cannot. Even. I can’t wrap my mind around how freaking lucky I feel. I can’t comprehend any of it—I see those snapshots of my life above and I can’t entirely connect them. Like. What happened? How?

This year, right now, I’m packing for BEA. I’m getting ready for my panel. I have pens for my signing. I’m filling out my housing information for college. I’m graduating on Sunday. I’m terrified to leave. I miss my friends already. Sometimes I hold my ARC while I watch a movie or sit around, and I flip through it and look at my name and think, holy. Freaking. Crap. I still have doubts, I still have secrets, I am still incoherent on a regular basis.

I am very happy. I like who I am. They say that doesn’t happen a lot in high school—maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t, but either way, I’m lucky.

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YA Mythbusters

Okay, let’s face it–a lot of books and movies don’t accurately address teenage life. Like, I, for one, have never hit my head on a chandelier while drunk-dancing, which unfortunately means that I haven’t been caught by a conveniently-placed Heath Ledger, either (womp). So let’s examine a few of the misconceptions, shall we?






What do you guys think? Did I miss anything important? Leave below in the comments, and I’ll do another post. Also, what do you guys think of having a Twitter chat about this? YA authors, do you have questions or want to do a fact-check on your contemp manuscripts?

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COVER REVEAL (and Nostalgia)!!!!


HUGE thanks to the wonderful people at YA Highway, who not only hosted my cover reveal, but managed to put it together in, like, two freaking hours. If that’s not a superpower, I don’t know what is. And also to the amazing, AMAZING team at Greenwillow who designed this breathtaking cover. Can we just sit here for a minute and marvel at how amazeballs they are? Because HOLY CRAP THAT COVER.

AND ALSO ginormous thanks to my agent, who played fairy godmother/therapist/shoulder-to-whine-on/superhero/buttsaver this week (and every other week).



*deep breaths*

Seriously, though. I love everything about it. I love the physics equations in the background, even though I’ve spent the last few weeks staring at them and realizing that I forgot everything I learned in physics. I love the car falling and the road and the words. I love my name (DO YOU SEE MY NAME IN THE CORNER THERE BECAUSE OH MY GOD MY NAME IS ON A BOOK). And I love love love love LOVE the hand, because it’s THE IMAGINARY FRIEND’S HAND!!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!

Okay. Okay. So it’s actually kind of funny that I’m having my reveal today, because it’s exactly one day after the anniversary of my book. That’s right. FALLING INTO PLACE sold on February 28, 2013. And in another one hundred and ninety-three days (that’s ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-THREE, 19FREAKING3) days, you’ll be able to go to your bookstore and, like, TOUCH IT. AND HOLD IT. AND READ IT.

*brain implodes*

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The life-changing, panic-inducing, holy-hell-it’s-happening text from my agent.

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Shameless Self-Promotion


Yes, it’s true–I am actually alive. I am actually blogging. I am (hopefully) here to stay this time. Because I’ve missed you, Internet.

(I just realized that this is my first post of 2014. *stares at calendar* *smacks self*)

Anyway, I’m going to try really super incredibly terribly hard to get back on a blogging schedule, but for today, I thought I’d compile a handy-dandy Here’s-What-Amy-Has-Been-Doing-Instead-of-Blogging guide (also known as shameless self-promotion, but shhhhhhh).

I’ve done some new interviews and guest posts!

Sometimes Books Don’t Sell
Interview at Brooke Reviews
Interview at Rachel Russell Books

I have purchase links!

Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

I have stuff for you to like/add/follow!

Facebook page

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2013 Recap

Are we absolutely sure that there were 365 days in 2013? Maybe we skipped a month? I demand a recount. I don’t want this year to end.

It has been a CRAZY AMAZING year. I can’t believe how much has changed since this time last year. I have new interests! I have new friends! I have a friggin’ BOOK DEAL with my dream publisher!!! And so first off, I want to thank all of the people without whom my year would have been very, very different: my editor and the rest the team at Greenwillow, my AMAZING agent, my critique partners, friends, family. Thank you, THANK YOU for indulging all of my writing neuroses (and all other neuroses).

The highlight of my year was probably that “Call me, I have good news” text I got from my agent back in February, but some other ones include meeting my agent and editor without looking too idiotic, seeing my cover and bursting into tears in the middle of class (it is SO BEAUTIFUL. I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to share it with you guys), deciding to go to BEA with one of my critique partners, joining the Class of 2K14 and getting to know so many wonderful ladies, and the crabcakes from G&M Restaurant and Lounge in Baltimore.

I think the best book I read this year has to be Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It’s a fantastic example of so many things–characterization, POV, voice. It made me laugh and cry and stay up until 3:00 a.m, and I don’t regret a minute of it. I also loved Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen.

As for 2014…okay, I admit it–I’m terrified. Some of the most fundamental aspects of my life are going to change next year. Most likely, I’ll move halfway across the country. I’ll be on my own for the first time in my life. I’ll have a book on shelves. But here’s the thing–my life changes every year. It changes every day. And change is always terrifying, but I guess all you can do is roll out of bed and put on pants anyway, right? (Ew, pants.)

And lastly, some resolutions: I didn’t complete any manuscripts this year, but I started a few and I’m almost done with one. For 2014, I hope to write and revise three novels: MEMENTO MORI, THIS IS WHERE THE WORLD ENDS, and THE STORYWEAVER. I hope to learn more about publicity and marketing. I hope to keep up this blog. I hope to not go completely insane.

Bring it on, 2014.

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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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Every year, my church holds this pie sale. We go in for a night or two, peel hundreds of apples, make pounds and pounds of crumble topping, and throw food at each other. It would be fun, except we’re not allowed to eat anything—all those pies, DO NOT TOUCH.

Last year, on Annual Pie-Making Day, my novel was rejected at acquisitions. I was crushed. I cried in the car.

This year, I couldn’t stop smiling because my editor had just emailed me, saying that she had read my revision and cried again.

(I like making people cry.)

It’s funny—so much has changed. So much hasn’t. Robert Frost said it best, I think: “In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

I touched one of the pies tonight. I ate some crumble topping, and it was fantastic. 

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Post-Deadline Thoughts

As of 1:14 A.M. October 21st, I have finished my first round of revisions. I have met my first deadline, and it feels unbelievable.

Revising this book was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Drafting it had been so simple–the story told itself, poured through my fingertips as if I were only a vessel for it. It is, as my publisher says, a “jigsaw puzzle,” and while drafting, the pieces had fallen into place all by themselves, and I had expected revising it to be just as easily.

It didn’t, of course. Because the book is told in a non-linear fashion, I couldn’t move a scene without changing two scenes before it and three scenes that followed. I would try to make subtle revisions, a nudge here, a shift there, and everything would fall apart, and I would sit curled on my floor with my laptop cast among the circle of charts and revision plans and the pages of my edit letter, thinking about all that could go wrong, all that was going wrong. I thought about all that homework piling up and all of that college stuff I hadn’t touched yet. I thought about the thirty, forty, fifty chapters of my book I had yet to edit. I thought about all of the chapters from contests that I had yet to critique and all those manuscripts from my internship that I had yet to read.

Basically, I sat there and whimpered. Cried. Sent panicky, all-caps emails to just about everyone–critique partners, non-writer friends, teachers, my agent. Cried some more, thinking about marketing and publicity and how I didn’t know how to do any of it. A bit more, imagining all of the bad reviews I was sure to get. And then some more, because there was so much to do, and I would have more time to do if I would stop bawling.

Today, of all days, I should have had a breakdown. I had noticed a pattern–they usually came during the ungodly hours of Monday morning, surprise, start off the week strong! Today (well, yesterday, really) was the last day before my deadline, and I wasn’t finished with my final read-through. It was a perfect opportunity to eat chocolate and cry, and I was ready to, when I was suddenly struck by what an incredible thing it was for me to be stressed at all.

I was stressing over turning in my manuscript on time to my dream publisher. My editor brought some of my favorite books, books that I’ve grown up with, into the world–she had made it possible for me to fall in love with these characters and peek into their distant lands and take them with me, between covers designed by people who were now working on my cover, copyedited by people who were combing my manuscript for mistakes, loved by a team that was now taking an enormous risk by loving my book as well.

It’s two in the morning. I am exhausted, sleep-deprived, barely aware of what I’m typing, and I am the happiest person in the world.

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Sh*t People Say to Writers

Last Sunday, my local newspaper wrote a story about me…and my writing…and stuff. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I used to be very, very secretive about writing. I never talked about it. So this week was WEIRD and awkward and generally hard for me, but on the bright side, I FINALLY get to write this post! I’ve always wanted to. 🙂

So you wrote a book?
Actually, I’ve written five novel-length works. The first one will never, ever see the light of day. I queried the second one and found my agent with it (YAY!), but it never made it past acquisitions. I also wrote a (very bad) sequel to it that clocked in around 200K (LOLZ). I wrote a standalone Norse-inspired fantasy about wolves and hot chocolate and losing your first love, which I’m planning to revise. Then I wrote this one, which sold. And I’m currently working on a few projects–
Like, a novel? Fiction or nonfiction? Wait, what are you doing? Why are you poking me?
I’m trying to edit your redundancy, but your “delete” button seems to be broken.
How many pages is your fiction novel?
OH MY–*breathes* never mind. And I don’t know. 51,000 words. Ish.
What is your book about?
(via Title To Come)
BONUS: What is your book about (old church ladies edition)
It’s about fornication and drinking and drugs and abortion and basically what your grandson/granddaughter does on weekends, except I’m not going to tell you that because I’m afraid you’ll have a literal heart attack.
Childhood, ma’am. It’s about childhood and growing up. *insert smile and innocent head-tilt*
So how much did you have to, like, pay for them to publish this book?
Actually, in traditional publishing, the publishing house gives you money for the–
What?! How much did you make?
Good question. Would you like to know how much I weigh, too?
Dude, I wish I had the time to write a book.
What? What is this time thing that you speak of?
What’s your book called?
Um, I can’t tell you right now. I went through a title change, and the new title is still confidential. Hopefully I can share soon, though!
Whatever. You just don’t want us to buy it, do you?
I actually really, really want you to buy it, because your money will trickle down to me. And I do like money an awful lot.
Okay, so can I read it now?

But you need someone to read it! What if it sucks?
Gee, that isn’t the stuff of my nightmares or anything.
Am I in your book?
Oh, honey. Would I really tell you if you were?
Can I be in your next book?
Sure. I’ll kill you brutally within the opening pages. I’ll even let you choose your own method of death. Sound good? (but if I DO put you in a book and you don’t like what you read, remember this conversation, kay? xoxoxo).
Well, can I be in the movie?
On the teensy chance that they make a movie…no.
Do you know J.K. Rowling?
Yup. We had lunch the other day.
Why did you write a book about suicide? You’re not suicidal, are you?
No, but once I wrote a fantasy about a world at war and a girl who kills people, and I’m not homicidal.

I’d like to write a novel. How does it work? Can you tell your publisher to buy my book?
Well. I can tell you that it DOESN’T work like that. First you have to write a novel and edit the unmerciful suck out of it. And after it’s nice and pretty and polished, you have to slug through the query trenches and hope you find an agent who loves it enough to sub it for you, and then you have to hope that an editor loves it enough to invest money and time and tears and sweat and passion into it.
So…YA magical realism? That’s like Twilight, isn’t it?
Why won’t you answer any of our questions? You won’t even tell us what the title is. Stop being so stuck up about it.
Eek! I don’t mean to come off that way–but I’ve never really talked about my writing with people, and this makes me feel so incredibly uncomfortable that I’ve pretty much depleted what little social ability I have. But I really can’t tell you the title!
Geez, you talk about this so often. You sound so stuck up.
But–YOU ASKED! I don’t mean to sound stuck up! But this is something I’m genuinely and overwhelmingly happy about, and I’m sorry if I’m doing something to make you misinterpret this. But I AM proud of myself, I DO love writing, and sometimes it’s hard not to smile like an idiot about it.

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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!)


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?)





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.” 


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).


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


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.


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


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.



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.


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

Lori’s answer, which I’m seconding. 


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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