2019 Conference Recap

The Chapter Twenty-One Conference was one week ago today! Thank you so much to everyone who joined us, from our speakers to our volunteers to, of course, our wonderful attendees. Thank you also to the Ch1Con team, as always, for collaborating with us on the conferences and to all the authors and publishing friends who sent books and/or book swag for the attendees. We had an amazing time putting on the conference and hope you enjoyed it as well!

We kicked off the conference weekend with a cocktail hour at the hotel bar, which ended up running longer than scheduled, because none of us wanted to leave. (Love you all!) Last year, the Topic of the Weekend (the one thing we kept inexplicably returning to) was cannibals. This year it was ghosts. Hanging out with writers is fun.

Saturday morning, the conference began with an awesome workshop by Katy Rose Pool (author of upcoming YA fantasy novel There Will Come a Darkness – September, 2019). She discussed how to write a page turner by focusing in on the reader’s anticipation, and we all learned a ton.

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Next was our first panel of the day, the annual “Young, Scrappy, & Hungry: A Panel of Young Publishing Professionals,” in which Gretchen Fredericksen (sales strategy coordinator at Macmillan) and I (Ch21Con director Julia Byers–assistant for a children’s literary agency) discussed the non-writing side of publishing. This turned into an extensive discussion on querying practices, comp titles, and how bestseller lists work, and it was nice to give the attendees a behind-the-scenes look into it all.

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Following this was our keynote address! The excellent Francesca Zappia (YA author of books including Eliza and Her Monsters and the upcoming Now Entering Addamsville – October, 2019) returned to the conferences in order to speak about reminding yourself why you write. It was an incredibly inspiring speech. (We also loved her twenty-minute rant on Ghost Adventures + her stories about her own haunted house, although we will NEVER be visiting her family.)

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After Chessie’s keynote, we took a break for lunch. Like last year, we enjoyed a buffet of Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and salad. We had a pleasant surprise when the Ch1Con group decided to join us in our conference room for lunch, giving the teens and twenty-somethings a chance to discuss writing and nerd out about books, movies and TV, and anything else they could think of. (My table mostly spent lunch discussing the Chaos Walking film adaptation, which we are all very excited about and wish would STOP GETTING DELAYED FOR ITS THEATRICAL RELEASE.)

After lunch, it was back to the writing workshops! We kicked off our afternoon with a workshop led by YA author Joan He (Descendant of the Crane and the upcoming The Ones We’re Meant to Find – 2020). She discussed how to build plots and, as Ch21Con team member Allison Mulder said afterward, “I’m pretty sure you [Joan] just fixed my novel.”

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Next was our final workshop of the day, led by Riley Redgate (author of several YA novels, including Final Draft). She taught the Ch21Con attendees all about how to write a kickass query letter (and her workshop was so excellent even I took notes, and I literally read query letters all day as my job).

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Basically, if you haven’t read all of our speakers’ books already, you need to do so immediately.

We ended the conference with our annual “Ask Anything Panel,” which we share with the Chapter One Young Writers Conference. We had some technical difficulties (as per usual), so we ended up doing the live-stream in three places: as a Live on the Ch1Con Instagram, as a Periscope on the Ch21Con Twitter, and as the scheduled live-stream on YouTube. (The YouTube video is missing the beginning of the live-stream though.)

Of course, we also took our annual class photo. Look at all these wonderful, talented people!

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And at the end of the day was the speakers’ exclusive book signing for attendees.

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Overall, we had such an excellent time at Ch21Con 2019 and we can’t wait for next year. Thank you again for joining us in Chicagoland last weekend!

Want even more conference photos? You can view them all here.

Before I sign off, the team and I do have a little more news to share:

Next year, the Chapter Twenty-One Conference will have a new director. I’m so excited to announce that longtime Chapter One Events and Ch21Con team member Ariel Kalati will be taking over!

Ariel is a brilliant, hilarious, and incredibly creative person and I’m so, so excited to see what she does with Ch21Con. (And for the time being, I will be staying on as the president of Chapter One Events. I’ll just no longer be directly involved in event planning for the org.)

Since this year’s conferences were my last time having a captive audience for probably a very long time, I shared a very sentimental and self-serving speech at the end of the day and I figured I would share it here too.

For those who don’t know the “backstory” of Chapter One Events—the nonprofit through which we run these conferences—I founded the for-profit corporation that would eventually become the not-for-profit organization we have today, way back when I was seventeen, with the help of some amazing friends and my incredibly supportive mother. It was the summer before my senior year of high school, and I guess I was looking for a way to procrastinate my college apps or something. Then I directed our original conference, the Chapter One Young Writers Conference, all through college, until 2017, at which point I handed it off to the ever lovely Emma so that I could step aside to found and direct our newer, older conference, the Chapter Twenty-One Conference.

Well, that was the explanation we gave to everyone in 2017, anyway. The original plan had not been to start an older conference at all, because I actually had been contemplating leaving the org entirely for a couple years already at that point. Because as much as I love Chapter One Events, and all of our volunteers and speakers and attendees, after five-ish years with it all, I did eventually reach a point where I was ready to move on to the next “chapter” of my life, if you will. Running this org takes a lot of time and patience and energy, and I was aging out of Ch1Con anyway, so it seemed like perfect timing to leave.

But then, in the midst of making those plans, I noticed that some of our other volunteers and some of our absolutely wonderful attendees were beginning to age out of Ch1Con too. Which meant they were losing this lovely little community we had built and nurtured for them. And it became clear that I couldn’t leave quite yet, because the Big Kids, aka the twenty-something writers, needed a community for them, too.

So the team and I worked together to create Ch21Con, which we launched last year. And I am so, so glad that we’ve established this second, older conference. But I also always knew I was kind of running the conference on borrowed time. Because it was always there, at the back of my mind: it was time for me to go. And to let these guys finally get to really spread their wings and do amazing things by taking the two conferences and the organization at large in their own unique direction. One I could never think of.

So here we are.

I don’t know if anyone wants to hear any words of advice, or lessons I’ve learned from directing these conferences all these years, but you’re going to get them anyway. Because these are things I wish someone had told me when I was younger and hopefully maybe some of this will resonate with you. So:

  1. Dream bigger. The sky is not the limit—you set the limit. You can do anything you set your mind to, as long as you’re willing to work hard for it. So think of the craziest thing in the world—the thing no one else from your hometown has even dreamed of doing, or that one thing that scares you almost more than you want it—and go after it with all your might. Your dreams are for the taking. Go get them.
  2. Be stubborn. I’m not going to tell you not to take no for an answer, because I think that’s actually, like, extremely bad advice in the way a lot of people interpret it. But here’s what I think that phrase should mean: just because one opportunity doesn’t work out doesn’t in any way mean another one won’t. So don’t give up. In most things in life, it only takes one yes, so keep looking and keep pushing and keep propelling yourself forward until you find that one yes. And if a yes isn’t coming, don’t be afraid to make your own opportunities, too. You’re all writers, so I assume you already realize this, but in case you don’t: there is nothing more incredible than creating something from nothing. It is as close to magic as any of us will ever be lucky enough to come. If you can’t find a door, find an ax. Go make magic.
  3. And finally: know when to say goodbye. Take it from me, right now, in this moment: goodbyes are really, really Even when you know it’s time to go, change is the hardest thing in the world—even when it frustrates you a lot of the time, and especially when you have loved the thing you are leaving behind with all your heart despite that frustration. Sometimes, you just need to push yourself into that big, scary unknown.
    • And remember to let yourself change and grow. You are not beholden to anyone else’s dreams for you, least of all those of your younger self. There are incredible things out there still to be discovered. There are so many more mountains to conquer. We are all made of stardust, and your pulse is the hum of the universe within you. So go. Explore.

Thank you, everyone, for an incredible eight years. Thank you for shaping my life in ways I never could have expected—God, there have been so many plot twists along the way—and thank you for bringing some of the best friends I will ever know into my life. And thank you especially to Emma and Ariel, who have been here since before the beginning, and my mom who has been here even longer.

2019, for me, has felt like a year of goodbyes in a lot of ways. Which makes this especially hard. But I firmly believe everything we’ve done with this org so far has just been prologue. Chapter One Events has a lot of amazing stories left to tell, stories I am so excited to see unfold, and hopefully I have some pretty great stories left to tell, too.

So: into the unknown. Here we go.

Thank you. See you at Ch21Con 2020!

— Julia and the Ch21Con Team

2019 Ask Anything Panel

Hey there, everyone!

Can’t make it to one of our 2019 conferences? Not to worry! As in previous years, we’re excited to be able to live-stream the “Ask Anything” panel with our 2019 speakers, so all of you amazing young writers who can’t make it to Ch1Con and Ch21Con 2019 still get to participate in something.

This year, the participating speakers will be:

  • Francesca Zappia (Eliza and Her Monsters)
  • Joan He (Descendant of the Crane)
  • Katy Rose Pool (There Will Come a Darkness – September, 2019!)
  • Riley Redgate (Final Draft)

The panel moderators will be Emma Rose Ryan (Ch1Con director) and Julia Byers (Ch21Con director).

The Ask Anything panel will take place during the conferences on Saturday, June 29th from 4:00 to 5:00 PM CDT (5:00 to 6:00 PM EDT).

This is totally free and you don’t need to sign up for anything; it’s simply our gift to you to thank you for all of your support throughout the year. You can find the live-stream on our organization’s YouTube channel at:

www.youtube.com/chapteroneconference

Or, we’re conveniently embedding the video in the post below:

We’ll be asking the panelists a mixture of questions from both the attendees at the two conferences and those of you watching from home. The questions can be about absolutely anything you want, serious or goofy, writing-related or not. (For example, in 2014 we asked our speakers about their OTPs. One replied that she shipped herself and Panera.)

If you’ll be watching the live-stream and would like to ask the speakers a question, there are two ways you can go about doing it:

1.) If you already know what you’d like to ask, you can email your question(s) to us at chapter21conference@gmail.com any time until the day of the conference.

2.) If you come up with a question while you’re watching the live-stream, you can tweet it using #Ch1Con or #Ch21Con.

Either way, feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like. No promises we’ll make it through every single question during the hour-long panel, but we’ll do our best.

Thanks again for supporting us, guys! It means the world to everyone on the Chapter One Events team.

See you at 4:00 PM central/5:00 PM eastern!

– The Chapter One Events team

2019 Workshop Leader: Katy Rose Pool!

The Chapter One Events team is absolutely thrilled to announce our final workshop leader for the 2019 Chapter One Young Writers Conference and Chapter Twenty-One Conference:
YA fantasy author Katy Rose Pool!

Katy Rose Pool

Katy Rose Pool is a writer living in Berkeley, California. She grew up in Los Angeles, where her screenwriter father taught her about three act structure, characterization, and inciting incidents all before she could tie her shoes. Katy studied history and English at UC Berkeley. She enjoys breakfast sandwiches, fancy cocktails, rooting for the Golden State Warriors, and books that set her on fire.

Katy is represented by Alexandra Machinist and Hillary Jacobson at ICM Partners.

Her debut novel There Will Come a Darkness will be out September 3, 2019 from Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillan.

Katy will be leading workshops at both Ch1Con and Ch21Con, discussing how to write a book that is “unputdownable.” She will also be speaking on the conferences’ combined ask anything panel.

Plus, in honor of speaking, Katy has generously offered to give away an advanced reader’s copy of her hotly anticipated debut novel There Will Come a Darkness (which sold to Macmillan in a million-dollar deal)! Just click the link below to enter the raffle. We’ll leave it open for one week!

Click here by 6/20 to win an ARC of There Will Come a Darkness!

Find Katy online:

Find There Will Come a Darkness on GoodReads here.

Interested in attending one of our young writers’ conferences on June 29 in Des Plaines, IL (a suburb of Chicago)? You can learn more at:

Thank you for joining us for all of our speaker announcements the past couple months! We’re so, so excited about all of the amazing authors and young publishing professionals joining us for the conferences this year. See you on June 29!!

– The Ch1Events Team

June Online Events

Whaaat! It’s JUNE, aka CONFERENCE MONTH, aka WE ARE SO EXCITED!

While we prep for Ch21Con 2019, this month we’ll also be hosting our usual Twitter chat and virtual write-in. All writers are welcome at these events, regardless of age or experience level. We can’t wait to see you at them!

Thursday, June 13th from 8:00 to 9:00 PM ET (7:00 to 8:00 PM CT): Twitter Chat

The topic of our Twitter chat this month is types of publishing. Join us using #Ch21Con to answer our questions and talk with other writers!

Saturday, June 22nd from 7:00 to 10:00 PM ET (6:00 to 9:00 PM CT): Virtual Write-In

Join us to write (and procrastinate) at any point you’re available during the evening. Link to the chat room:  http://us20.chatzy.com/12355628376709

– The Ch21Con Team

P.S. We have one more speaker announcement coming your way soon! And we are HYPE about it! So keep an eye out! (Also, if you want to buy a 2019 conference t-shirt or sweatshirt, orders are due by Monday, June 17! Register now to not miss out!)

2019 Panel Moderators: Emma Rose Ryan & Julia Byers!

The Chapter One Events team is happy to announce our next two speakers for the 2019 Chapter One Young Writers Conference and Chapter Twenty-One Conference: Ch1Con director Emma Rose Ryan & Ch21Con director Julia Byers!

Emma Rose RyanEmma Rose Ryan is an undergraduate studying Creative Writing at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She’s been a member of the Chapter One Young Writers Conference team since the event’s inception, and she was honored to take on the role of Director in 2017. Emma writes middle-grade and YA fiction, focusing on paranormal and urban fantasy genres. When she’s not writing, Emma can be found reciting Shakespeare, watching The West Wing, or petting someone else’s cat.

Emma will be co-moderating the conferences’ combined ask anything panel.

Find Emma online:

6O4A1500-2Julia Byers is the president of nonprofit Chapter One Events, founder of the Chapter One Young Writers Conference, and founder and director of the Chapter Twenty-One Conference. She spends her days as an assistant for a children’s literary agency, her early mornings doing nonprofit work, her evenings writing, and her weekends as a freelance photographer (sometimes not in that order). She is a graduate of the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, where she received Highest Honors in Honors Creative Writing & Literature and minored in Global Media Studies (Film), as well as the Columbia Publishing Course UK, an intensive publishing certificate program organized in collaboration between Columbia University and Exeter College, Oxford University. Her writing has received a variety of honors, including First Place in the Children’s/Young Adult Fiction category of the 82nd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, a Hopwood Award, and the Arthur Miller Award. In her free time, Julia enjoys watching too many movies, doing outdoorsy things like jogging and hiking, and pretending she has free time. She lives in New York City.

Julia will be co-moderating the conferences’ combined ask anything panel, as well as moderating Ch21Con’s young publishing panel.

Find Julia online:

Interested in attending one of our young writers’ conferences on June 29 in Des Plaines, IL (a suburb of Chicago)? You can learn more at:

We’ve got one more amazing speaker to announce as well in the lead-up to the 2019 conferences, so keep an eye on our websites and social media for our last speaker announcement coming your way soon!!

– The Ch1Events Team

2019 Keynote Speaker: Francesca Zappia!

The Chapter One Events team is over-the-moon to announce our keynote speaker for the 2019 Chapter One Young Writers Conference and Chapter Twenty-One Conference: YA author Francesca Zappia!

Chessie ZappiaFrancesca Zappia lives in Indiana and graduated from the University of Indianapolis with a degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, cooking, or playing video games. She was chosen as the 2017 Emerging Author at the Indiana Authors Awards, and her second novel, Eliza and Her Monsters, was chosen as a Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2017, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and was among the Top 10 of the YALSA 2018 Best Fiction for Young Adults list.

You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @ChessieZappia, and on her website, www.francescazappia.com.

Chessie will be giving the keynote addresses at both Ch1Con and Ch21Con, discussing how to keep sight of our reasons for creating stories, and how to harness those reasons. She will also be speaking on the conferences’ combined ask anything panel and signing books at the end of the day.

(If you’re a Ch1Con alumnus, you might remember Chessie leading workshops and speaking on the ask anything panel at our 2016 conference!)

Plus, in honor of speaking, Chessie has generously offered to give away a signed paperback copy of her amazing sophomore book, Eliza and Her Monsters! Just click the link below to enter the raffle. We’ll leave it open for one week!

Click here by 5/31 to win a signed paperback copy of Francesca Zappia’s Eliza and Her Monsters!

Find Chessie online:

Find Chessie’s books on GoodReads:

Interested in attending one of our young writers’ conferences on June 29 in Des Plaines, IL (a suburb of Chicago)? You can learn more at:

We’ve got another amazing speaker or two to announce as well in the lead-up to the 2019 conferences, so keep an eye on our websites and social media for more speaker announcements coming your way soon!!

– The Ch1Events Team

2019 Ch1Con & Ch21Con Blog Tour Schedule!

Hey, everybody! We’re thrilled to announce the 2019 Ch1Con & Ch21Con Blog Tour!

We put together this annual blog tour to share info and fun, behind-the-scenes facts about the Chapter One Young Writers Conference and Chapter Twenty-One Conference (and to give away some awesome prizes, of course). The 2019 blog tour will kick off on Friday, May 10 and conclude towards the end of May. Follow the tour for guest posts, interviews by the Chapter One Events team–and, of course, giveaways!

Ch1Events Blog Tour 2019 Banner

Check out the schedule below:
  • Friday, May 10: www.ch21con.tumblr.com
    • The new Ch21Con Tumblr hosts a interview with conference director Julia Byers!
    • GIVEAWAY: SIGNED hardcover copy of On the Come Up by Angie Thomas!
  • Tuesday, May 14: www.batmansymbol.tumblr.com
    • 2019 workshop leader and panelist Riley Redgate shares a personal post about speaking at the conferences!
  • Friday, May 17: www.anniesullivanauthor.com
    • Author Annie Sullivan hosts an interview of Ch21Con team member Ariel Kalati!
    • GIVEAWAY: $25 Barnes & Noble e-gift card!
  • Wednesday, May 22: www.juliathewritergirl.com
    • Ch21Con director Julia Byers hosts an interview of Ch21Con team member Katie Nichols!
    • GIVEAWAY: SIGNED hardcover copy of The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman!
  • Saturday, May 25: www.kirabrighton.weebly.com
    • Freelance editor Kira Brighton hosts a guest post by Ch21Con team member Katie Nichols, on rekindling your passion for writing!
  • BONUS: Beginning of June: Joan He’s newsletter Looseleaf
    • 2019 workshop leader and panelist Joan He will sharing about speaking at the conferences in her June newsletter! Make sure to subscribe now in order to read it.

We can’t wait to share the tour with you, and hope to see you in Chicagoland at Ch1Con and Ch21Con 2019!

– The Chapter One Events Team