Sunday, April 14, 2013

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!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

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 :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

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.