Ch1Con 2015: August 8th!

It’s official! The 2015 Chapter One Young Writers Conference will take place Saturday, August 8th at the Courtyard Chicago Arlington Heights/South hotel, just outside Chicago.

Mark your calendars, because we are SO EXCITED to bring the 2015 conference to you! Stay tuned for lots more announcements, coming sooner than you can read the A Song of Fire and Ice series. (Okay, maybe a lot sooner than that.)

Talk to you soon!


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When Should Ch1Con 2015 Be?

Ch1Con 2014 may have just ended a couple days ago, but we’re already planning next year’s conference–and we need your help!

Ch1Con 2015 will take place in the greater Chicago area again. If you’re interested in coming, vote for when will work best for you in the poll below! (If you can make it to multiple options, feel free to vote for all of them; we’ll be taking the options with the most votes into consideration when choosing our official weekend. Also note: All dates listed are the Saturdays of the weekends we’re considering for the conference.)

Hope to see you next year!



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Thanks for coming!

Hey there, awesome people!

Ch1Con 2014 finished with a bang yesterday, and we are SO GRATEFUL to everyone who attended, spoke, and volunteered to make this year’s conference such a success! We can’t wait to start planning for next year.

If you missed the live stream of our panel on Saturday (or just want to re-watch all the fun), you can check that out here.

Also: Kira and I did a podcast with Newbie Writers! Listen to us laugh awkwardly and ramble about conference mascot Larry the Man-Eating Hamster here.

We have lots of exciting stuff coming your way, so stay tuned!



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Interview with Ariel Kalati

In preparation for Ch1Con this coming weekend, we’re posting interviews with all our wonderful speakers this week! Today’s interview is with Ariel Kalati, who will be speaking on writing despite all the excuses not to on Saturday.

ariel picture (2)

1. Tell us about yourself.
I’m a high school senior (about to graduate) and I’ve essentially been writing stories forever. I finished my first book in seventh grade and have now written five books. Despite my love of writing, I spend most of my time constructing elaborate excuses not to write. I also enjoy studying, especially history. And I am a huge Harry Potter fan and love YA literature in general.
2. You’re going to be a freshman at Sarah Lawrence College this fall. Can you talk a bit about what went into your decision when picking a school?
Sarah Lawrence was pretty much my only choice for a college. I first heard about it in The Princess Diaries, where I read that it was a good school for writers. When I researched it, I found out that it’s actually one of the best schools for writers. What really attracted me to the college, though, was its unique educational program. The curriculum is made up of small seminar classes and individual conferences with professors, and best of all, instead of tests, we get to do individual research projects. Also, there’s a teahouse called “Hagrid’s Hut” on campus, so that’s a plus.
3. Why are semi-colons your favorite form of punctuation?
It all started in seventh grade when I argued with a teacher that she should have used a semicolon instead of a comma, and she said, “No, you can use either.” But I was right, so I started a movement to promote the usage of semicolons. They’re so useful and fun; you can stick independent clauses together without the commitment of a period. I now have a holiday called Semicolon Day on December 28th; the third annual Semicolon Day will be this coming December.
4. You write both novels and poetry. How is writing in these two forms different?
They’re completely different. With poetry, I pour my thoughts and feelings out, unprocessed, and I focus a lot on making it sound nice. Poetry is where I try to express what I can’t express with prose. It’s somewhere in between writing and music. Novels, on the other hand, are a lot more structured and geared towards an audience. I get to develop characters, plot lines, settings, worlds, and adorable comic relief scenes. Obviously, novels are a lot more work, at least for me, but they’re a lot of fun, too. Whereas with my poetry I just try to get my ideas onto the paper, with my novels I try to make something that another person could relate to and fall in love with.
5. What are some of your interests outside of writing and reading?
I love art history. I took AP Art History in freshman year and I’ve been obsessed with the subject ever since. I also want to work towards educational reform, because I think our public school system needs some serious work. And of course I like wasting my time watching channels on YouTube, particularly Vlogbrothers and Superwoman.
6. What are some of your plans now that you’ve graduated from high school?
In addition to going to college, I want to travel as much as I can, and have some crazy adventures. I want to finish editing my book already. And I plan to actually update my blog with stuff that impresses editors and agents.
7. Quick: List five books (either coming out or already released) that you’re excited to read.
The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan; Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater; The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater; Four by Veronica Roth; and whatever Neil Gaiman does next.

Can’t wait to see everyone this weekend!

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Saturday Panel Livestream!

Can’t make it to Ch1Con this year? Never fear! Join us for a live (and free) online broadcast of our Ask Us Anything panel this Saturday (June 14), featuring speakers Amy Zhang, Patrice Caldwell, Kira Budge, and moderator Julia Byers!

The panel will take place from 2:50 to 3:20 PM central time. You can watch live and chat with fellow online attendees at:

Want to ask the panelists a question? You can through one of the following mediums:

Email us before the chat:

Tweet during the chat: #Ch1Con

Talk to you Saturday!


~Julia, founder

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Interview with Amy Zhang

In preparation for Ch1Con this coming weekend, we’re posting interviews with all our wonderful speakers this week! Today’s interview is with Amy Zhang, who will be our keynote speaker on Saturday and participating in our panel.

Amy Zhang

1. Tell us about yourself.
Hi! I’m Amy. Parentheses are my favorite punctuation marks. I broke my typewriter and don’t know where to get it fixed. I still don’t have my driver’s license. I have really weird thumbs. I want to study abroad in Prague someday. I drink too much coffee and I eat too much chocolate.

2. You’re debut Falling into Place comes out with Greenwillow/HarperCollins in September. When you started writing, was it with the goal of someday publishing a novel, or just for fun?
Hmm. I guess I wanted to publish, but I was more focused on small things—literary magazines and the like. I wrote a book because I was bored and lonely and afraid that I wouldn’t get into college, and I figured that having a poem or story published would be something to write on my applications, at least. So I bought a notebook and I think maybe I was going to write a short story, but it ended up being a book. It was a really bad book. I don’t think I ever even titled it. But when I came up with the idea of my second book, I also started thinking about publishing. I wish I remembered better how I came to that decision—I’m totally blanking right now—but it felt right at the time. It still does. I think it always will.

3. Your literary agent is Emily Keyes of Foreword Literary. Can you tell us a bit about what working with an agent is like?
Absolutely! I love love LOVE working with my agent. Agents are different, but when I was querying, I knew that I needed someone who wanted to do some editorial work and was willing to hold my hand a bit more. Usually, we do a round or five of revisions before she sends a project out to editors. I send her frantic emails on a regular basis and she tells me to chill. Emily is basically my fairy godmother.

4. You recently spoke on a panel at BEA (Book Expo America). How was that?
Terrifying! Being on a panel at all with Becca Fitzpatrick, Amanda Maciel, and Kresley Cole had already left me starstruck and tongue-tied. When Jason Segel wandered past and watched for a bit, I wasn’t tongue-tied anymore—I had just forgotten the entire English language. So my answer to the first question, “How would you describe your teenage self?” basically came out, “Um, I’m Amy, and um. Um. Yeah.” But it was also TONS of fun. I learned a lot from the other authors I was on the panel with, and it was just a great overall experience.

5. What are some of your interests outside of writing and reading?
I’ve played piano for fourteen years now, so I have kind of a married-couple relationship with music. I also play tennis, and I love ceramics. Oh, who am I kidding. Outside of writing and reading, my activities are basically sleeping, eating, binge-watching TV shows, and having existential crises.

6. What are some of your plans now that you’ve graduated from high school?
I’m spending the summer writing, wasting as much time as possible at my favorite coffee house with my friends, and finishing the tree of quotes on my wall. In the fall, I’ll be heading off to New York for college!

7. Quick: List five books (either coming out or already released) that you’re excited to read.
LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley, THE ZOO AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Eric Kahn Gale, THE GLASS SENTENCE by S.E. Grove (I’ve just started this one and OMG SO GOOD. ADD IT TO YOUR TBR PILES RIGHT NOW), DANGEROUS GIRLS by Abigail Haas (I just got this one!), and LET’S GET LOST by Adi Alsaid.

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Interview with Kira Budge

In preparation for Ch1Con this coming weekend, we’re posting interviews with all our wonderful speakers this week! Today’s interview is with Kira Budge, who will be speaking Saturday on our panel and leading a workshop on how to open novels on Sunday.

Kira Budge
1. Tell us about yourself.

I feel like I’m answering this question a lot lately, haha! Well, I’m a sophomore at BYU-Idaho studying English: Creative Writing, and a novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, though I like some room to spread out genre-wise. Additionally, I’m the Associate Online Administrator of this lovely writing conference, which I am also speaking at this year. I play cello, foster kittens, and obsess over British TV in my spare time. (Because Doctor Who and Sherlock.) In the past, I’ve worked primarily (for the monies) as a freelance writer and editor.

2. You’re currently studying creative writing at BYU-Idaho. How is writing for classes different from writing for yourself?

Well, I’ve only taken one creative writing class so far at the college level (darn gen eds). Nonetheless, the main difference really is that I wouldn’t write short stories on my own, and short fiction is a big part of creative writing classes, as well as poetry (which I do write on my own at times). Short fiction of all kinds is a stretch for me, and not always an enjoyable one, but I do learn a lot from it. In the end, it’s better than taking something like *gasp* MATH.

3. You’re twenty years old and have already completed eighteen novels. How do you manage to write so much?

See, I used to think nothing of this, and then people started asking me this question! I don’t know, exactly. I guess in general I’m really good at focusing REALLY HARD on one thing at a time, and with NaNoWriMo available to encourage me, it comes naturally that I could write so quickly and prolifically. I mean, it does help that I really love it. =) When I’m writing a novel, I don’t ever want to stop until I’m done. You know, unless it’s not working out. That does happen at times.

4. You previously worked as a freelance editor. What’s your advice for critiquing someone else’s work?

You have to be really aware of the needs of the writer, what they’re looking for from you. For me, sometimes, it’s frustrating when you know you could fix a whole lot more if you went in-depth, but they only want the surface edits. They’re the customer, though, and you have to remember that. Patience is an incredible skill to have! You also want to be kind, especially having been on the receiving end of that yourself, as I have. Encouragement is important for people in artistic fields like this.

5. What are some of your interests outside of writing and reading?

Welllllll, as listed in my little bio above, I do play cello, though I’ve taken kind of a break from that since my one very difficult year of being a music major (freshman year). I also like to watch TV, especially le BBC, and I’ve done fostering/volunteer work with the animal shelter for a while. I also love learning about psychology, which I guess qualifies as reading, but its a bit more of a niche interest. I really do spend the majority of my time reading and doing school, haha!

6. What is your dream career path after college?


For realsies, though, I’m hoping I get married to a guy who can do most the work in terms of, you know, money, so that I can continue to do what I’m doing right now – writing and editing and sending out to agents with the intention of eventually getting published and bestselling and famous and movies deals and yay! Plus I intend to raise a family, so that’ll be happening too, in this ideal scenario.

7. Quick: List five books (either coming out or already released) that you’re excited to read.

SO MUCH PRESSURE! Sorry, I need to consult my Goodreads TBR list real quick here because there’s no way I can do this off the top of my head without spontaneously combusting.

Okay. So five recent/upcoming YA books I haven’t yet read that I’m excited about are:

1) INDEPENDENT STUDY by Joelle Charbonneau (out now) — THE TESTING (book one) was really exciting and well-written! The third book, GRADUATION DAY, also just came out.
2) DEAR KILLER by Katherine Ewell (out now) — I love serial killer novels, guys. Sign me up!
3) WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart (out now) — I am very unclear what this is about but everyone seems to love it and there’s a twist ending, so yay!
4) WINTERSPELL by Claire Legrand (September 2014) — I have been dying to get a great novelization of The Nutcracker, so I’m all over this!
5) UNDIVIDED by Neal Shusterman (October 2014) — The Unwind Dystology is current one of my top top faves.

And that, my friends, is a teeny tiny sample only. There’s a lot of good stuff coming. I could go on for pages. (My TBR list does, in fact, go on for many pages.)

Thanks for reading, guys! Super excited to see everyone at Ch1Con this year. =)

Kira Budge

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