Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ch1Con Blog Tour: Interviews With the Team!

Hello everyone! Today I am writing an extra-exciting blog post (yes, even more exciting than '10 foods I want to eat now') because I am participating in a blog tour! Exclamation points!

What is this blog tour? It's part of the conference I might have mentioned a few times on this blog: Chapter One Young Writers Conference, or Ch1Con for short. Ch1Con is an amazing thing. It started in 2012. Well, the whole thing started, I guess, in 2007 or so, really. I met a group of fellow young writers on an Internet forum called Write It. Over the course of years and years, we shared our writing, learned about editing and publishing, fangirled over books and authors and movies, created jokes, cheered each other on, and generally became very close friends. And in 2012, we decided to meet each other in person. One of us, Julia Byers, decided that this was a great opportunity to create something that she had never seen before: a unique conference by young writers and for young writers. Together, we worked throughout a year to create informative sessions and fun activities teaching each other about writing, editing, publishing, and the unique struggles of being a young writer. That first Ch1Con is one of the best memories of my life, and it solidified in all our minds that we had to make this a serious thing, available to all young writers.

A writing community is SO vital to young writers. Having a passion for something creative can make it seem like the world is against you. Plus, creative writing and publishing isn't something that usual groups of friends or classes in school will teach you about. Taking the journey to becoming a better writer can be very lonely as a kid or teenager. All of us at Ch1Con knew that, hence why we loved Write It. But a lot of young writers didn't have a community like that. That's why we created Ch1Con. It has an online presence, providing resources, informative chats, and extra fun stuff on Twitter, Tumblr, and Google Plus throughout the year (check the bottom of this post for all the links). And every year- this year being on August 8, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, at the Courtyard Chicago Arlington Heights/South Hotel- we host an awesome conference that provides both a sense of community and incredible resources for young writers. You can register here. Early bird registration (until June 1st) is $39.99.

And in case seeing our lovely faces isn't enough motivation, we have an absurdly cool lineup of speakers- the successful writer Kat Zhang (of the Hybrid Chronicles), the about-to-be-published writer Ava Jae (BEYOND THE RED, coming out spring 2016), and the freelance editor Taryn Albright (aka the Girl with the Green Pen). PLUS as a special bonus, Louise Fury of the Bent Agency will open up to queries only from the conference attendees up to thirty days after the event. !!!

So in conclusion to my little essay here: REGISTER FOR CH1CON. If you are a young writer, you will totally love it.

Now as for what this post is actually about: Ch1Con has an amazing team of people who help to plan the conference, run online events, and maintain our online accounts. Three of our team members- Julia Byers, founder; Kira Budge, associate online administrator; and Emma Ryan, Tumblr expert- are going to be featured on this post today, answering interview questions. So without me going on any longer- here they are:


Julia Byers, Founder of Ch1Con

You're the founder of Ch1Con. What inspired you to create this conference by young writers, for young writers?

Ch1Con came about mainly as a result of two things: (1) I'd gone to a couple writer's conferences in high school and, as awesome as the people at them were, there were so few other teenagers in attendance that they were a little intimidating. On top of that, they were ridiculously expensive and, due to the all-adult speakers, some of the advice shared in sessions wasn't quite relevant to me yet. (I didn't need to know how to juggle work and kids with a writing career! I needed to know how to juggle homework and theatre rehearsals.) And (2) some of my closest friends were other kid writers I knew solely from the internet (hi, Ariel!). After years of trading advice and stories, we were desperate to meet, so what better way to get our parents to take a leap of faith and let us than by running our own (affordable and fun) writer's conference that featured speakers who not only were successful in the publishing industry, but also our own age?
One struggle for many young writers is balancing schoolwork and writing. How do you deal with this problem?

DON'T SLEEP. (Kidding. Mostly.) It really is all about balance. I've learned over the years how to do the least work necessary for class and, in turn, how to write quicker and more efficiently when I'm not in it. I try not to write during class itself (because focusing during lecture means I'm less likely to need to do the longer and more boring reading out of the text book later), but I'll sometimes pull out a notebook and jot down lines or ideas if my mind is really whirring. I pretty much always have my laptop and a notebook on me, so even if I only have ten minutes between classes, that's viable work time. If the sun is up, I'm working on something, whether it be homework or a novel (or something else, like Ch1Con stuff).

I also work a lot on weekends and over school breaks, and I take advantage of the excuses events like NaNoWriMo give me to forgo things like going out on weekends or, like, working out. HOWEVER, I also do generally reserve a couple nights a week for hanging out with friends or reading a book or watching a movie. Letting myself take breaks is key to avoiding burnout. (And burnout is a real and scary thing. Avoid it at all costs.)
There are a lot of exciting events happening at this year's Ch1Con, but if you had to pick one, what would you say you are most excited for? 
Ugh, don't do this to me! I'm so excited about all the speakers we're bringing to this year's conference. They're all seriously amazing individuals. But if I really have to pick, I guess the event I'm most excited for is Taryn Albright's writing workshop. As a freelance editor, she's helped whip countless novels into shape, over fifty of which have gone on to garner their authors literary agents and dozens of which have found homes with major publishing houses. The fact that she'll be working with our attendees this year is just the coolest thing ever. I can't wait for her to be able to add some Ch1Con attendees to her list of successes.  
It's a well-known fact that the Ch1Con team ships itself with Panera Bread. If you could ship any Panera Bread food item with any YA book, what would it be?
This is the best and most difficult question anyone has ever asked me. Ummm, I'm going to say Panera baguette with ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins. (Because even Parisians must appreciate how delicious Panera baguette is.)
Kira Budge, Associate Online Administrator
You've written 18 books already, so you're obviously a very prolific writer. What are some tips you would give young writers on how to write as often and as well as you do?
First of all, write what you love. If you love it, if it speaks to you, you're much more likely to have a good output. Be excited about what you're doing! Second of all, have OCD. ;) Seriously, though, my mental illness does contribute to my prolific writing endeavors because I hate having things left unfinished! Weird how mental illness has little advantages like that, huh?

Last year, you attended Ch1Con. What was your favorite part of the event?

More than anything, I loved getting to spend time with other people having the same interests and living in a similar time in their lives as me. I felt like I really belonged, I got to talk about my favorite things (like Harry Potter and the Hunger Games), and it was just so fun!

As Ch1Con's associate online administrator, you know a lot about the Internet writing community. What are some ways that Ch1Con has contributed to this community?

Our biweekly Twitter chats and monthly YouTube chats are the most notable way! We have so much fun discussing the lives of young writers and how the craft speaks to us in those talks. You pick up all kinds of gems being in the chats. Our general social media presence, signal boosting cool posts and info, is also big.

If your twelve-year-old self had attended Ch1Con, what kind of session would you have wanted to see?

Probably something focused solely on how incredibly awesome young writers are. I was very determined to show the whole entire world that young writers rocked it.

Emma Ryan, Tumblr Runner
You run the official Ch1Con Tumblr blog. How do you choose all the cool stuff that you post and reblog on there?

I did my best to follow as many cool book blogs as possible when I started the Tumblr, and I basically steal content from them. That's the nature of Tumblr, I guess, but I definitely owe a lot of what the blog is to the wider booklr community who create really cool/funny/beautiful posts for me to reblog!

Many young writers belong to fandoms for books and TV shows as well as writing. How do you think that this passion for other people's art intersects with our love for making our own art?

I think being a passionate fan of something can give a writer a better understanding of what their work can do. When we care deeply about a fictional world or person, we realize "Hey, I have the power to make people feel this way, but about MY work!" 

 That said, it also gives writers a better understanding of the tremendous power and responsibility the writer has to an audience (when you're published anyway :) ). Every author will take away a different lesson from observing fandoms, but I feel my personal take-away has made me a more reader-conscious, empathetic writer.

For example, now that I've become involved in the fan communities of tumblr/twitter/the wider Internet, I am FAR less likely to queer-bait, white wash or otherwise manipulate my readership for a punchline or a cliffhanger. I now know the kind of confusion and hurt feelings those narrative choices can cause. I'm far more careful about the promises or hints I make in my writing, and I'm more likely to leave things ambiguous because I trust my readership to speculate or draw their own conclusions. 

Besides the obvious (clothes, toiletries, etc) what would you recommend someone pack to attend Ch1Con?

Panera...also, notebooks.

If you could pick any fictional character to attend Ch1Con, who would it be, and why?

I feel like Cath from Fangirl (by Rainbow Rowell) is right in our target audience. Plus, I want to be buddies with basically ALL of RR's characters!


So there you have it! From the Ch1Con team themselves, all the questions you obviously had about writing and Panera Bread answered. :) But seriously, Ch1Con is going to be awesome this year, and if you are a writer from middle school through undergraduate, you should definitely check it out. (And REGISTER.)

Also, if you aren't a young writer, but you do love classics and going to London for the summer, another program you can check out for this summer is the Benedictus Summer School Foundations of European Culture program. My friend is planning to go, and they need some more applicants to fill up the program. It sounds like it's going to be really cool, so check it out.

And here are some links to all our Ch1Con websites:

Twitter: @Ch1Con

Chapter One Young Writers Conference. Every story needs a beginning. This is ours.

Thanks so much for reading this, and see you on Saturday!


  1. I'm still not over all of the Panera in this post haha. Thanks for hosting a tour spot, Ariel! :)

  2. This was excellent. Love the interviews. But: 1. The con this year is only one day? :-(
    2. What with all the Panera talk, get them to sponsor the con (like, maybe provide lunch?) and 3. Is there any way you guys can promote this to the audience it addresses? I know you put up notices in college but the people who really need this are in HS and MS, no? Just a thought. Can't wait for August 8.

    1. Despite all our youth and silliness, Osnat, I promise you we are working very hard and doing lots of research on this stuff. We are somewhat professional, after all. ;) We'll take your thoughts into due consideration.