Monday, May 19, 2014

Kind of a Goodbye...

...but not really, because I'm moving this blog to my new website! It's GORGEOUS and perfect and at But I won't be adding any new posts to A Story of a Dreaming, so... *pause for nostalgia*

*long sigh*

I was looking through my old posts the other day and I can't wrap my head around how much has changed. Thanks for sticking around, guys. I hope you'll visit the new site, but if not, it has been SO MUCH fun and I've so appreciated all of your comments and encouragement. *sniffles*

All right, come on. GROUP HUG.

Still dreaming, just at a new URL. <3

Monday, April 21, 2014

Updates and Unicorns*

This morning, my mom asked me why I hadn't updated my blog in a while, to which I responded, "YOU READ MY BLOG?!" But okay, she was right. I haven't updated in a while because ALL THE THINGS have been happening. Like:

My ARCs arrived! And I hugged them! And I took a billion and a half pictures of them! And I took selfies with them! And I cuddled them while I slept acted like a totally normal human being with them!

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This is my name on a thing I wrote (I WROTE THAT THING IN THE PICTURE. LIKE I MADE THAT IN MY HEAD).

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This is the spine on a thing I wrote (and also a viking rune, because vikings are cool)

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This is the FREAKING GORGEOUS cover of a thing I wrote

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This is a thing I wrote on my ACTUAL, PHYSICAL BOOKSHELF

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This is my face and a thing I wrote. See those fingers?
(Yeah, I know I have toe thumbs. Don't stare. They're self-conscious).

Okay, time to get serious. I am so, SO happy and proud to announce (belatedly) that FALLING INTO PLACE was chosen as one of the ten titles featured in the Indies Introduce New Voices program! Here's what they had to say about FALLING:

“In Falling Into Place, Zhang has composed such a fascinating and captivating investigation of character and humanity that readers will find themselves actively rooting for Liz, desperate for her to realize in time that taking herself out of life is never the answer.” —Sara Hines, Eight Cousins Books


I'm also beyond excited to share that I'll be doing a panel at BEA this year with Becca Fitzpatrick, Amanda Maciel, and Kresley Cole. It's called "It's Not Easy Being Teen," which is basically the most accurate statement ever. It'll be on Friday, May 30th from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., so if any of you are coming to BEA, be sure to stop by! I'll also be signing afterwards.

Here's the description of the event from the BEA website:

How do you believably and authentically get into the mindset of a teen? It's simple to skew a voice too young or too old, or to underestimate the breadth of a high schooler's experience. These authors will talk what it takes to portray teens truthfully and the challenges they have faced both on and off the page. Listen in and meet: Amy Zhang (Falling Into Place), Kresley Cole, (Dead of Winter), Becca Fitzpatrick, (Black Ice), Amanda Maciel, (Tease).

*Yeah, okay, so there weren't actually any unicorns in this post. Sorry. Bait-and-switch or whatever, amirite?


Sunday, March 23, 2014

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?

  • Bullying isn't as bad as it used to be.
    • *DISCLAIMER: My concept of "used to be" is drawn almost exclusively from nineties chick flicks.* Bullying is different, sure. It's needling. In a lot of cases, it's subtle. Lots of passive-aggressiveness, gossping behind backs, snide remarks followed by "Ehmahgawd, I'm just kidding! Lighten up!" Honestly? I've seen two primary kinds of bullying:
    • First: within cliques. You fall in with a group of people, and you let them step all over you and talk down to you. So that they'll like you. So that you'll have someone to sit by at lunch. You swallow their crap, you wake up the next morning and do it all over again, and eventually, you forget how to stand up for yourself. Or why you should.
    • Second: there are certain kids that a grade or an entire school will mark as "okay" to bully. Maybe they're not good in social situations. Maybe they don't shower as often as everyone else. Maybe the committed some stupid faux pas in middle school and people still won't let go of it. Whatever the reason, these kids get bullied. Their classmates bully them, and the worst part is, they don't recognize it as bullying it. Once, I confronted one of my friends about her stupid comments to a kid in band, and she replied, "Oh, come on. Look at him. He brings it all upon himself." Hell, even the teachers do it.
    • Example: there was this story a while ago about a group of kids that voted someone unpopular onto a dance court, and how the school/community wouldn't stand for it. It was a beautiful story, but why was that news? Because it's rare. At my school, they've voted someone unpopular onto basically every dance they've held since my freshman year, and our administration barely even addresses it. It's horrible and disgusting and people don't think twice about playing a prank like that, because your part is so small. One click on the computer next to someone's name. You laugh. They don't. You don't ever think of yourself as the antagonist in a story. We are not villains. We are not heroes. We are hormonal. Sometimes we make mistakes, and sometimes we don't. 

  • Cliques aren't as bad as they used to be.
    • I have a friend who puts it like this: "They tell us not to label, but we can't help it. We put people in categories--it's biological. We label and then everyone tells us that labeling is bad, so we lie and say that cliques don't exist." To be clear, it isn't like Mean Girls. It isn't like there are the cool Asians and the nerds and the jocks, and no one intermingles. But there are definitely friend groups, and since my school is a very athletic-oriented one, most of them were formed around the teams you were a part of. And there's definitely a social hierarchy.
    • But then again, I've heard from friends at bigger schools that say that the social structures aren't as rigid as they used to be. It definitely depends on who you ask.

  • Teens are lazy.
    • Here is a typical day for me:
      • 4:30 a.m. Wake up, write (this has been more sporadic this year, because damn, my bed is comfortable. And you could argue that most teens don't get up to meet a deadline. But a lot of sports teams have morning practices, and some classes are held during zero period. There's not a lot of sleeping in).
      • 6:30 a.m. Start getting ready for school: last minute homework, morning routine, etc (this also varies. Like, at the beginning of this year, my morning routine was pretty standard: makeup, hair, and so on. I gave myself a break on No Makeup Mondays and Sweatpants Fridays. Now it's No Makeup Everyday and I'm lucky if I wear real pants twice a week).
      • 7:45 a.m. Get to school, go to the coffee shop, etc.
      • 7: 55 a.m. - 3:10 p.m. School. There might be a study hall in there if you're lucky.
      • 3: 10 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. After-schools. Sports practices (though during tennis season, I rarely get home before seven. On game days, you get home anywhere between 8:30 and 11:30 or later. Games can be on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays. Except varsity football and boys' basketball, which have games on Fridays). When your sport isn't in season, you might be in the weight room, editing the newspaper, attending open gym, or doing some other extracurricular.
        • ALTERNATE: 4:00 p.m. - 9 p.m. (ish): this seems to be a popular work slot for most teens.
      • Whenever you get home, you finish everything else that needs to get done. I play piano, and I try to get in an hour or two of practice a day, but that's not always possible. We have two-three hours of Calculus homework 2-3 times a week. Three reading assignments for reading per reading. Spanish vocab tests, economics packets, and a lot of online work for science classes--all in all, anywhere from fifteen minutes to six hours of homework per night. Keep in mind that the six hours of homework could fall on a night on which we don't get home until ten or eleven.
    • So you see why it's frustrating when the protagonists in YA literature have no homework to worry about and don't seem to care about anything but their love interests? Jesus. Obviously I'd rather be thinking about Benedict Cumberbatch's cheekbones than conic parametric equations, but I also don't want to fail Calc. So drop some stuff, you suggest. Don't take on more than you can chew. You don't need to be in so many extracurriculars. BS. You do whatever you think it'll take to get into college. You snatch as many leadership positions as you can. You take every AP course even though you don't need most of them for the career you have in mind. And you claw your way along while trying to keep your class rank, in order to get scholarships.

  • Teens procrastinate.
    • Okay, so the psychologist Roy Baumeister once did this experiment during which he had two groups of students, right? He put one group of students in front of an oven full of baking cookies and gave them a bowl of radishes, saying the could eat as many radishes as they wanted but weren’t allowed to touch the cookies, and left them alone. The second group was allowed to eat as many cookies as they wanted. After thirty minutes, he gave both groups the same math problem. The group that got to eat cookies solved the problem way faster because the first group had already used up their store of mental energy. Willpower is a real thing, guys. After four years with a schedule like the one outlined above, you don’t have a ton of it. You replenish it with a good night of sleep and a good meal, right? But have to skip dinner at least a few times a week and get maybe five hours of sleep. My sleep deck is the goddamn Titanic. And it isn’t just me, it isn’t just because of writing—most of my friends are stressed. Like. I’m sitting here trying to remember if there’s one of us who hasn’t burst into tears at some point during this last year.
    • Another thing: all of our teachers, coaches, advisors, etc. tell us to prioritize. So we do. But prioritizing means that something has to come first, right? And everything else has to come after that, and that makes people mad. So prioritize really means this: Put my subject first. My sport. My club. And we’re in a stage of our lives where we really need to be liked, and when a teacher/coach/advisor is unhappy, we take it a lot harder than I think most people realize.

  • Teens are shallow.
    • So, I have a love affair with Buzzfeed. But this article pissed me off. At lunch on Friday, my friends and I talked about the gender gap, internalized misogyny, The Handmaid's Tale, and the tendency to fulfill expectations whether we want to or not. After school, we went out for coffee and talked about statutory rape, abortion, tried to figure out our political opinions, and acted out scenes from Frozen.

  • And a personal peeve: High school dances are no longer a thing.
    • A lot of schools have done away with them due to low attendance, but the low attendance is caused primarily by rules about physical contact. For example, a few of our local schools saw a sharp decline in dance attendance after forbidding grinding. People don't buy tickets because the high school dance becomes more of a middle school formal, wherein you stand in your stupid little gender-segregated circles and jump around in time to the music. Less attendance = fewer tickets sold = less money to hire a DJ and buy decorations = crappy music and crappy decorations = an even small attendance for the next dance. So if schools do away with dances, that's usually why, not because we're too busy snapchatting/Facebooking/Tweeting/etc. But on the other hand, schools that do allow grinding tend to have pretty high attendance numbers. So are high school dances dying out? Should they? Meh.
    • Also: Jeez, CNN. Lighten up on the nostalgia. If you want, you can come to my school and relive your prom in our cafeteria, where on dance nights you walk in and smack into an almost-literal wall of heat slide around on the very literally sweat-soaked floors.

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?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Countdowns and Love Lists

Today is March 9th. Which means that there are:

6 months
184 days
4, 416 hours
264,960 seconds

...until FALLING INTO PLACE comes out and my head explodes. Wow. Like, I see the numbers and I have a vague concept that months/days/hours/seconds are divisions of time or something, but I can't actually wrap my head around the idea that this thing I made in my head is going to be...bound? On shelves? Available for purchase? In SIX MONTHS?!

I am terrified and excited and happy beyond words, and to celebrate, I'm going to do a love list, which is a non-exhaustive list of the things you love about a manuscript (inspired by my wonderful CP Mark O'Brien, who was inspired KK Hendin, who was inspired by Rachel, who was inspired by Stephanie Perkins). 


chalk drawings on the roof
scenic towers
jumping off the swings
a 1967 Ford Falcon
being wrong
being right
bouncy balls
wire crowns
twenty-three missed calls
running through the rain
second chances
seven days
fifty-eight minutes
F = ma
green sweaters
flute players
black eyes
the sky
matching friendship rings
cause and effect

Fears Quote



Scenic tower, where Liz once made wishes on sunshine.



Hide and seek behind the old brown couch

beyond the sky...


the cover

the interior

(for more pictures, visit my Pinterest board for FALLING)

Friday, February 28, 2014

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.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

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
- Amazon
- Book Depository
- HarperCollins
- Books-A-Million

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

- Facebook page
- Goodreads

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

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.