Enter to win a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card from Ch21Con–a great conference for young writers! Bit first, learn all about the conference!
Can you tell us a little about Ch21Con?
Ch21Con is the sister conference to Chapter One Young Writers Conference, which developed in 2012. Basically, a group of young writers met on Scholastic’s Write It forums (I was one of them) and we decided we wanted to meet up, but instead of just hanging out, we decided to put together a small conference specifically geared for young writers. Fast forward six years, and the conference grew by a lot, and we grew up as well, which meant we had outgrown the target age of the conference. So, we decided to start a second conference geared to twenty-something writers. Both conferences are run entirely by writers who are in the target age range, and have an array of awesome speakers: authors who got published young, publishing professionals, experts in different aspects of the book industry. The conference is an excellent opportunity to meet other young writers in a safe, low-pressure environment (I can attest that it’s super easy to make friends there, even if you are generally awkward) and to learn firsthand about the publishing industry and the world of writing as a 20-something. It’s accessible to young/beginning writers, but the conference also takes its attendees seriously, giving real advice and expecting serious commitment to writing. And we also have AMAZING book giveaways and swag. If you can’t make it to the in-person conference, don’t worry! We’ve got a free live-stream of our panel and super cool online events throughout the year.
Is there anything different at the conference this year from years past?
We always have different speakers who host different panels and workshops, making every year a little bit different. This year we’ve got the amazing Joan He, author of DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE; Riley Redgate, author of FINAL DRAFT; and publishing professional Gretchen Fredericksen. We’ve also got an awesome keynote speaker whose identity will be announced soon. This is also our second year having the two separate conferences, both Chapter One and Chapter Twenty-One. Last year went great, so we’re hoping this year solidifies the awesomeness of Chapter Twenty-One Con.
Why do you think it’s so important for young writers to have their own conference to attend?
I think young writers are in serious need of community, much like all young artists. When you’re a young writer, you feel like the Young Baby among other writers, but like the Weirdo Book Nerd among other young people. It’s also difficult to find writing advice and resources geared specifically towards young writers, that isn’t necessarily condescending or inaccessible. Young writers want to know about things like querying, book publicity, and agents just as much as adult authors do, but they also need to know things like how to balance writing time with schoolwork. Both teenagers and twenty-somethings are in a period of life when they’re figuring out their identities, and when you’re a writer, a big part of that is your creative work. Writing can be lonely, but you don’t have to be alone to be a writer, and I think it’s important for young people to know that and to have others who support them in their writing journey.
What’s your favorite thing about the Ch21Con?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. I love the speakers literally every single year- I learn so much from them and I’m so inspired. Every lunch break at every conference has had me sitting with other attendees, all of whom have pulled out our notebooks or laptops, and are saying to each other, “I just got super inspired by that speaker! I have to write some stuff down!” It’s a great feeling to be around other people my age who also have just heard this amazing person spout wisdom and also get this same “I love writing” reaction to it. That’s the best part about the in-person conference. There’s a similar feeling during the monthly Twitter chats, when the community gets together and discusses different aspects of writing life. The connection with other writers is definitely the best thing.
Are you a writer too? How long have you been writing? Have you always found it easy?
Yeah, I’m a writer (although not published- yet!). I’ve been writing since I learned the alphabet, pretty much; I have old journals full of terribly spelled stories about my stuffed animals and imaginary friends. I would not say I find writing “easy” because writing inevitably includes editing, which is super difficult for me. However, writing stories has always come pretty naturally to me. I remember getting mad at other kids in elementary school because they didn’t get that writing stories is so easy! I now understand that different people have different skills.
What’s your best writing tip?
My best writing tip is to first of all not get obsessed with following any particular tip, because everyone has their own method. However besides that, I would warn writers that editing requires rewriting- more than once. You can’t just go in and fix sentences. You will have to open a new document and rewrite the thing. Which is good if you like drafting, because it means you get to draft again, but this time in a more structured way.
What are some of your favorite books of all time?
I’m a big fan of Harry Potter, of course, which is close to my heart no matter what J.K. Rowling says on Twitter. I also love everything Neil Gaiman writes, especially his Sandman books. Other books I love the most: the Six of Crows series, The Hate U Give, Spinning Silver, The Sisters of the Winter Wood, and American Panda, which was written by last year’s keynote speaker, Gloria Chao.
What YA books are you most looking forward to in the near future?
I still have to read DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE, by our 2019 speaker Joan He! I waited too long to get it from the library and it was checked out. LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME just released and I’m hearing great things, so that’s on my TBR as well. Most of the books I was excited for have come out in the last couple of months, so I need to go check out upcoming releases so I can get excited again.
Chapter One Young Writers Conference (Ages 11-20)
- Website: Chapter One Young Writers Conference
- Twitter: @Ch1Con
- Tumblr: Ch1Con
- Instagram: @Ch1Con
- YouTube: Chapter One Conference
- Facebook: Chapter One Conference
Chapter Twenty-One Conference (Ages 21-29)
- Website: Chapter Twenty-One Conference
- Twitter: @Ch21Con
- Tumblr: Ch21Con
- Instagram: @Ch21Con
- Facebook: Chapter 21 Conference
Enter to win a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble at the link below: