#70 Writing a YA Romance Novel with Jennifer Chen

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I first met Jennifer Chen when we were in an online Facebook group together. I watched as her career continued to soar, and as she made the progression from widely-published journalist to acclaimed YA debut author.

YA is a topic I haven’t covered yet on the podcast, and as someone who admittedly did not read YA until Jen’s book, I was smitten in so many ways: by the dialogue, the scenes, and overall the craft Jen uses throughout her book.

I know you will find so much value through our conversation:

In this Episode

  • How Jennifer started her YA writing journey
  • Going on submission during the pandemic, and eventually getting a 2 book deal
  • The exercise of narrowing down characters
  • The art of writing time pressure into your story 
  • Jen’s advice for excavating specific emotions for your characters

Watch on You Tube

About Jennifer

Jennifer Chen is a freelance journalist who has written for TodayNew York TimesOprah DailyReal Simple, and Bust. Jennifer has a MFA and BFA in dramatic writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is a proud volunteer for WriteGirl, a creative writing and mentoring organization. She lives in Los Angeles with her TV writer husband, twins, two pugs, and a cat named Gremlin. 

Contact Jennifer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jchenwriter 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jchenwriter/ 

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@jchenwriter 

Substack newsletter: https://jenniferchen.substack.com 

Website: https://jchenwriter.com


Connect with Estelle:

Estelle’s Bookshop (where you can buy the books from the authors in this podcast): 


Her website: https://estelleserasmus.com (sign up for her newsletter and receive her free pitching guide).

Writing That Gets Noticed: Find Your Voice, Become a Better Storyteller, Get Published: https://estelleserasmus.com/books/writing-that-gets-noticed/

Adjunct Instructor, NYU (Sign up for her latest classes-Writing That Gets Noticed is now a course for the Journalism Certificate) https://www.sps.nyu.edu/professional-pathways/faculty/1068-estelle-erasmus.html

Her Substack https://estelleserasmus.substack.com (with craft advice and writing opportunities)

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/EstelleSErasmus/

X (formerly Twitter): https://twitter.com/EstelleSErasmus

Threads: https://www.threads.net/@estelleserasmus

Blue Sky: https://bsky.app/profile/estelleserasmus.bsky.social

Take a Class with Me 

Here is a short promo for my new NYU Course Writing That Gets Noticed, in case you were wondering what it is all about.


Here is the link to register. Spots are limited.

Where I’ll be Next

Let me know if you will be at AWP. Maybe we can grab a cup of coffee?

Also, let me know what you want me to cover in the podcast, Freelance Writing Direct and on my Substack at [email protected]

AWP session


Where I Just Was

At Podfest Expo 2024 in Orlando, FL.

I usually don’t post more than once a week, but you will be seeing one from me very shortly. Here is a little preview of the talk I moderated and participated on with Ronit Plank, of Let’s Talk Memoir and Bianca Marais of The Shit No One Tells You About Writing. More soon.