TeenWriter Tuesday: Making It Work as a Writer While You’re Still in School

falling-into-placeWisconsin teenager Amy Zhang played tennis after school. She went out with friends and did homework. She also wrote a book. A very good book called Falling Into Place. She was 16 when she found an agent who sold it to pa publisher. It was released in 2015 and now has a four-star rating on Amazon.

It wasn’t even her first book.

How did she do it?

In an interview for GMA News Online, Amy talks about squeezing in time to write before school–from 4 to 6 in the morning. She thinks it was “the most disciplined time of my life.” For more of her interview, go HERE.

She was shopping a different book to editors and agents while she wrote Falling, and having no success. Then she sent out Falling and got an agent offer in three days (this is NOT usual!).

amy-zhang“I remember this very clearly, I was taking a quiz in my chemistry class and I got a text from my agent and she said, ‘Call me as soon as you can,’ so during my lunch hour I called her back and she gave me the news and I completely freaked out. I called my mom and cried.”

Now Amy is thinking about learning more about publishing and marketing. And of course, she’s going to continue writing. You can check out Amy’s other books HERE.

Amy’s advice for new writers

  • Keep writing.
  • Writing’s a skill and craft that has to be developed. (So keep studying the craft.)
  • Find readers and be open to their opinions.
  • Read a lot… and make sure you include unfamiliar authors, new styles, new genres.

“Nobody’s born being good at writing.”

So how do YOU squeeze writing into YOUR day?



Posted in Advice, Amy Zhang, Finding your focus, Teen Authors, Teen Authors, Teen writers, Writing, Young Adult books | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

TeenWriter: The #WeWriteBooks Contest is almost here!

I just found out about this and couldn’t wait for TeenWriter Tuesday to tell you!

The #WeWriteBooks Contest will open NEXT WEDNESDAY, September 14.

Student in a library surrounded by piles of books

Submissions may be made from September 14 through September 28 OR UNTIL THEY GET 300 ENTRIES. So hurry up and enter!

If you are UNDER 21, don’t have an agent and are unpublished, then you’re eligible to enter.

Submit 3,000 words or less of your manuscript (preferably the FIRST 3,000 words).

Special formatting and submission rules are on the Go Teen Writers blog.


And good luck!

Posted in #WeWriteBooks, Awards, Contest, Teen Authors, Teen writers, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Monday Advice from Editors and Agents: Three Tips for the Price of One

Today’s three tips provide some dead-on great advice about

  1. Your VOICE
  2. PITCHing your book
  3. STRIKING THE HEART of your reader

ChrisKeeslarHeadShotThe advice comes from Chris Keeslar, who’s been a leading industry professional for over 20 years. Keeslar started editing romance for Dorchester Publishing, where he worked with authors such as Marjorie M. Liu, Victoria Alexander and Lynsay Sands. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief for Boroughs Publishing Group, an e-book publishing house that accepts submissions in almost all romance sub-genres.

Although Keeslar edits romance, his advice is applicable to ANY genre of writing. This particular article was published last month on the Romance University (R U Ready?) blog. I have no hesitation in recommending this blog to all writers; it’s been one of Writers Digest 100 Best Websites for Writers since 2013.

deal-of-the-day-1438910There are a lot more tidbits than the ones I’m picking out below, so I recommend you read the article in its entirety HERE.

Now the Advice, in a Nutshell

On finding Your VOICE

  1. “When authors or teachers or editors tell you to “Find your voice,” they’re not just talking about what words you use and how you naturally arrange them; they want you to discover that inner core of yourself that makes you write, what it makes you write and why.”

    On PITCHing your book

  2. “A pitch is just using your Voice to tell a friend why they should read a book, see a movie or listen to a song.”

    On STRIKING THE HEART of your reader

  3. “What are all the reasons people shouldn’t be together? Know them. Then know the reasons of your characters. Finally, know your audience and how they will benefit from watching your characters learn the truth.”


Posted in Advice, Agent/Editor Pitch, Craft of Writing, Interior life; interiority, Motivation, Romance, Voice, Writing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Fun Friday: 4th Graders, Families and Teachers Get FREE Admission to National Parks



Explore ancient dwellings!   FREE



See a waterfall taller than a building!   FREE


Fourth graders, take your family along! Teachers, download activity guides and send your whole fourth grade class!




This is a terrific program called EVERY KID IN A PARK, from the U.S.



bison-yellowstone 975669


Department of the Interior. It targets THIS SCHOOL YEAR’s fourth graders, their families and educators–offering  free access to hundreds of national parks, lands, and waters for an entire year.



You can sign up, beginning September 1. The website everykidinapark.gov has suggestions for trips to see animals, forests, mountains– you name it.

You can’t pass this up!


Lake McDonald


Posted in Every Kid In A Park program, Traveling, U.S. Parks, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

TeenWriter Tuesday: Teen Playwright’s Debut

Emma Baxter

During her junior year in high school, Emma Q. Baxter wrote a coming-of-age comedy for the Paula Vogel Mentors Project, a fellowship program run by Philadelphia Young Playwrights. The project pairs aspiring student playwrights  with a professional playwright mentor for one year.
Emma wrote NEARLY FAMOUS from start to finish and then, in May, she was partnered with Found Theater Company to produce a full production of the work. Together with Writers Theatre of New Jersey they brought the play to life this July at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Philadelphia and again at the Roxbury  (New Jersey) Performing Arts Center in Emma’s hometown.

(Photo: Courtesy of Walter F. Rodriguez)

According to Emma,  being part of the Paula Vogel Mentors Project “was life-changing… I felt like my work was valuable and important— around every corner was someone asking a serious question about my play or consulting me for a major decision about the production. I was amazed with every step of the process at how much everyone involved with the project was truly invested in my play and cared about what I had to say.”


“Saturday night was the night of a lifetime. It was so incredible for me to watch my words performed on stage, and having so many people I know and love in the audience only amplified the surreal experience… Seeing Nearly Famous come to life and be appreciated was an indescribably magical experience.”

If your high school creative writing program includes play writing, why not see if a local theater group would be willing to mentor one of your students all the way to DEBUT?


Posted in Plays, Playwrights, Teen Authors, Teen writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment