Call for New Team Members!

Hey, everyone!

It’s been a few weeks since the 2019 conference and the Ch21Con team is hard at work preparing for the next year of awesome activities! And right now, we are looking for new team members to help us put together our conference and all our online activities.

What does being a Ch21Con team member consist of? Well:

  • attending team meetings to discuss our plans and ideas for the year
  • helping brainstorm ways to get out the word about our conference, and put together fun and writerly activities for our community
  • participating in all our online events (Twitter chats, virtual write-ins, etc.)
  • providing your own expertise and knowledge about the writing and publishing world, as well as any other skills/connections you have, to help us plan and put together an amazing conference in the summer
  • annoying all your friends and family and local libraries and random passerby on the street by telling them nonstop about the conference
  • generally having fun! We’re a pretty informal group

If YOU are interested in applying to the team, please go ahead and fill out an application. No experience is necessary- just a love of writing and the writing community! (If you don’t know what exactly Ch21Con is, check our “About” page).

This IS a volunteer position at a nonprofit, so you won’t get paid- BUT it is both an excellent experience and a great thing to put on your resume! You’ll gain experience with working at a nonprofit, marketing and social media, and interacting in the book world. And to be clear, this is a remote position: everything you do can be through your computer from home, and you can decide your hours.

The link to the application form is here: Apply For The Ch21Con Team

And the deadline for applying is August 18, 2019.

Thank you for your interest! We can’t wait to find the rest of our team!

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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 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

May Online Events

Happy April! We love this month, because April showers = more excuses to cozy up inside and write! As always, this month we’ll 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, May 9th 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 author brand. Join us using #Ch21Con to answer our questions and talk with other writers!

Saturday, May 18th 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://us23.chatzy.com/31718975351540

– The Ch21Con Team

P.S. Today is the FINAL DAY to register for Ch21Con at our discounted early bird admission rate! Register by midnight central time before the price hike by visiting our Register page.

2019 Conference Registration Is Open!

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We’re thrilled to announce that registration for the 2019 Chapter Twenty-One Conference is officially open!

The conference will take place Saturday, June 29th, 2019 at the Hilton Garden Inn – Chicago O’Hare in Des Plaines, Illinois. It will include workshops, two panels, a lunchtime pizza party, trivia (with prizes!), and all kinds of other good stuff. Attendance is open to any writers who will be between the ages of 21 and 29 as of June 29th, 2019. (If you’ll be between the ages of 11 and 20, check out our sister conference, the Chapter One Young Writers Conference!)

Register early (now through the end of April) to get our special Early Bird Admission rate of $74.99 (lunch included)! Registration is available at:

www.chapter21conference.org/register

Interested in who this year’s speakers are? Keep an eye on the blog, because we’ll be announcing the speakers very soon! (And registered attendees will get a sneakpeek!)

Spots are limited to attend the conference, so make sure to register before they’re gone!

We’re so excited for the 2019 conference (and hope you are too)! See you in June!

— The Ch21Con Team

 

2018 Keynote Speaker: Gloria Chao

The Chapter One Events team is absolutely thrilled to announce our keynote speaker for the 2018 Chapter One Young Writers Conference and inaugural Chapter Twenty-One Conference: Gloria Chao!

Gloria ChaoGloria Chao is an MIT graduate turned dentist turned writer. She currently lives in Chicago with her ever-supportive husband for whom she became a nine-hole golfer (sometimes seven). She is always up for Dance Dance Revolution, cooperative board games, or spontaneous dance parties. She was also once a black belt in kung-fu and a competitive dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out. Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at GloriaChao.Wordpress.com.

Gloria is the acclaimed author of young adult contemporary novel American Panda and the upcoming Misaligned.

Gloria will be giving the keynote address at both Ch1Con and Ch21Con, as well as speaking on the conferences’ combined ask anything panel.

Find Gloria Online:

Check out Gloria’s Books:

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Haven’t registered to attend one of our 2018 conferences yet? You can do so by clicking the following links:

Chapter One Young Writers Conference (ages 11-20)

Chapter Twenty-One Conference (ages 21-29)

– The Ch1Events Team

P.S. Our full conference lineup and session descriptions are now live over on our schedule page!

2018 Writing Contest Winners!

Hey, everyone!

We are thrilled today to announce the winners of our second annual Chapter One Events Poetry & Short Fiction Contest! All winning entries will appear in our 2018 contest e-book anthology, which will be available for purchase in mid-July.

You’ll note in the contest results below that we don’t necessarily award a full set of winners for each category. This is because we believe in rewarding quality over quantity, so we’ve limited our winners to only those entries we find fitting of this distinction. (Basically this means, if you won something, it’s because we really love you.)

Now, without further ado: drum roll please………

Ch1Con (Ages 11-20)

Poetry Winners
  • First Place: “Visions” by Miranda Sun
  • Second Place: “Mountain” by Emily Woods
  • Honorable Mentions: “Away with You” by Miranda Sun and “Looking Forward to Nineteen” by Emily Woods
Short Fiction Winners
  • First Place: “The Rosewyvern’s Curse” by Emily Woods
  • Second Place: “We’ve Hit an Iceberg” by Kori Johnson

Ch21Con (Ages 21-29)

Short Fiction Winner
  • First Place: “The New Corpse” by H. L. Cassel

Congratulations!!!

Thank you to all who entered the contest! We really enjoyed reading your entries and we hope you’ll enter again next year. And a HUGE congratulations to our winners!! All our winners this year will receive discounted admission to the relevant conference, as well as one free copy of the 2018 contest e-book anthology–which, again, will be available for purchase in mid-July.

Now go celebrate!

–The Ch1Events Team