Are you a young writer? Know a young writer? Tell them about the amazing Ch1Con (https://chapteroneconference.com/) happening August 5th in Chicago. It’s a conference put on by young writers for young writers ages roughly 11-23. The conference brings in top writers, agents, and speakers to get attendees started early on the pathway to success, all while also providing opportunities to find critique partners and learn the ropes of the publishing industry.
To learn more, check out an interview below with Julia Byers, Founder and Director of the Ch1Con, and afterwards, enter to win a copy of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas!
How did you come with the idea for Ch1Con?
We started Ch1Con my senior year of high school. The inspiration for it was twofold: when I was sixteen, I started attending the big, New York City writer’s conferences. While they were awesome and I learned A TON, I also felt rather alone at them because most of the attendees were adults (and the conferences were definitely geared towards adults). At the same time, some of my best friends in the world were teen writers I knew only online, and we were desperate to meet one another in person. So, I figured, why not kill two birds with one stone: by starting our own conference for young writers, teens like us would be able to learn about writing in an environment that was less daunting—and, you know, I’d get to spend a weekend hanging out with my amazing writer friends.
Why do you think it’s so important for young writers to have their own conference to attend?
As a young writer, it’s really easy to feel alone. Writing is awesome, of course, but it’s also naturally an isolating activity. And, as I mentioned in my previous answer, the huge writer’s conferences catered to adults are great opportunities—except they’re not really designed for kids (especially if you’re shy and awkward, like me), which makes them isolating as well.
And community is so important. Writing is a hard business, so it helps an incredible amount to have a support network in place, to have critique partners to help you fix your plot holes and friends to threaten to TP literary agents’ houses when they reject your magnum opus. [ Editor’s note: Please don’t TP agent’s houses 😉 ]
With Ch1Con, we strive to foster that type of community. Watching teen writers find critique partners and geek out about books together has been the absolute highlight of directing the conference.
What’s your favorite thing about the Ch1Con?
Sorry to use the word “community” a billion times, but I love how much of a community Ch1Con has become. I love how we’re small enough to feel intimate but big enough that we can bring in speakers like our keynote this year, Kody Keplinger (and, of course, the lovely Annie!). So much of what we’re doing now with the conference has developed from the attendees, speakers, and volunteers all just wanting to hang out together more, like our Friday night pizza party or everyone eating lunch together on Saturday during the conference.
Ch1Con might be a lot of work to put on, but it doesn’t feel like work; it feels like I’m spending the weekend hanging out with friends, gushing about OTPs and WIPs. I look forward to it all year.
How long have you been writing? Have you always found it easy?
I’ve been writing for longer than I can remember. My mom likes to talk about how, back before I knew how to read or write, I’d follow her around with a pencil and paper and make her write down my stories for me. (You might say I was a BIT of a handful growing up.) Honestly, though, writing has never really been “easy,” per say. I’ve always struggled with it. It’s just too much of a part of me to ever give up.
What advice would you give to young writers?
Keep going. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s also so important. This is a tough industry, but the really wonderful thing about it is that if you keep working hard and putting yourself out there, you will eventually reach your writing goals. It might not happen on the timeline you want it to, but it will someday. Don’t give up.
What’s your best writing tip?
Every story is a mystery. Whether you’re writing a contemporary romance, or high fantasy, or space opera (or, you know, a literal whodunit mystery), don’t forget to include plenty of clues and twists for the reader. It’s the reader trying to figure out what happens next that keeps them invested in the story. (And, you know, that’s something you want.)
What YA books are you most looking forward to in the near future?
Well, not in the near future, but I would be negligent not to mention The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (which we’re giving away as part of this post!). I’m currently reading it and there are no words to encompass quite how fantastic this book is.
Another book that just came out (but I’m so excited to read) is The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli.
Stuff that isn’t out yet that I’m looking forward to: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera and No Good Deed by Goldy Moldavsky. (I’m kind of cheating with that last one, because I’ve already read it. But it’s hilarious and I highly recommend it when it releases!)
Thanks, Julia, for stopping by to tell us all about Ch1Con! I’ll be there this year, and I hope you will, too! Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of the The Hate U Give: