Hey there! I’m sliding in today with a stop on the 2018 Ch1Con & Ch21Con Blog Tour!
That’s right: we started a new conference! This year, on Saturday, August 4th at the Hilton Garden Inn – Chicago O’Hare in the suburb of Des Plaines, IL, we’ll be hosting TWO young writer’s conferences!
(Stick around until the end of the post for a giveaway of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card!)
The Chapter One Young Writers Conference will be for writers ages 11 to 20. The Chapter Twenty-One Conference will be for writers ages 21 to 29. They’ll share speakers, but the Ch1Con sessions will be tailored more towards writing craft, whereas the Ch21Con sessions will be tailored more towards getting published.
The entire Chapter One Events team and I are ridiculously excited for both conferences, and we hope to see you there!
In honor of the conferences, the past few weeks we’ve been hosting our annual blog tour. And I have the honor of hosting the final stop, interviewing two of our current team members (one of whom is speaking at the conferences)!
Allison Mulder: Ch21Con Team Member and 2018 Workshop Leader & Panelist
Allison Mulder grew up in the Midwest, and enjoys cheesy jokes and eldritch horrors in equal measure. Some of her interests include anime, videogames, and the creepiest creatures that the cold, black depths of the ocean have to offer. Her stories have appeared in Fireside Fiction, Escape Pod, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and more. You can find them at allisonmulder.wordpress.com, though Allison herself is more easily found on Twitter as @AMulderWrites.
Brett Jonas: Ch1Con Team Member
Brett Jonas is a professional fangirl who has been writing YA novels since she was fifteen. She lives in Southern Indiana with her husband, and works in her family’s business, Goat Milk Stuff, where she snuggles baby goats and taste-tests the newest goat milk candies. Her hobbies include reading, playing violin, and chasing her seven younger siblings. She can usually be found wasting time on Twitter as @BookSquirt, or at brettjonas.com.
(You might notice Allison and Brett have matching photos. This is because I offer to take discounted headshots for conference goers every year as a fundraiser for Chapter One Events. And also because Allison and Brett are secretly twins.)
Well, without further ado, let’s get to the interview!
You’ve both been part of Chapter One Events for a few years now. What has been your favorite part of working on the conferences?
Allison: I think my favorite part of working on the conferences has always been the people. That’s how I became an unofficial shadow staffer in the first place, because stuffing folders and shuffling tables around was a blast as long as it meant getting more time to hang out with my friends in the Ch1Con staff. I felt very welcome even before I was an official part of the team. Seeing participants come back year after year has also been great–an experience only rivalled by the joy of seeing first-time participants joining the group. All in all, Ch1Events are chock full of great people, both online and off. The fantastic information, the fun workshop sessions, the wealth of free book swag, all of that [excellent] stuff is mainly just an excuse to hang out, at heart.
Brett: The best part of being a Ch1Con team member for me is getting to be a part of someone’s life-changing moment. I know that personally, my life changed when I went to my first Ch1Con, and I know several other people who have had the same experience. Knowing that all of the hard work we put in will change someone’s life? It makes everything worth it.
Allison, you’ve moved from attendee, to team member, to speaker. Are you excited to speak at the conferences this year? Nervous? Both?
Allison: I am exci-terrified. Or rather, excitement dominates currently, but I’m sure the pendulum will swing toward terror as the conference gets closer. Luckily, I’ve got two things going for me. 1) I will finally benefit from all the fake interviews I’ve given myself in the shower over the years. 2) The subject I’m speaking on (short story submissions) involves information I have unleashed upon numerous friends the instant they dared ask, “So, uh…how do short story sales…work?” I am a rambler, and I love short fiction. My biggest concern may be how little time I’ve been given to speak, but in a worst-case scenario I’ll just go slightly rogue. You know, bide my time until lunch or something, then extend my session in a very hush-hush, under-the-table Q&A operated with utmost secrecy, lest our hawk-eyed directors Julia and Emma find out, and order us to disperse… But seriously, I love my session’s topic. I love sharing what I’ve learned, the same way other authors did for me as I first started. And I’ll have so many friends in the room, I suspect it’ll feel as if I’m rambling about short fiction as usual, except more structured, and this time to the whole room.
Brett, you’ve always been a huge proponent of the community aspect of Ch1Con. What would you say is the best thing about the Ch1Con community?
Brett: The best thing about the Ch1Con community is how we all come together as young writers and feel like we belong in this group. There’s nothing like finding “your people”, and Ch1Con is the perfect place to create lifelong friendships that will withstand the miles and time zones between us.
If you could give one piece of writing advice to young writers, what would it be?
Allison: Get comfortable with critique. Which means accepting criticism, but also knowing when to discard it. (Learning how to GIVE good critique helps, too.) Sharing my writing on forums when I was young, finding more regular critique partners as I got older… Those steps were invaluable to getting where I am now, and I’m glad it’s something I started doing early. My personal strategy is allowing myself one day to privately pout over any extremely negative critique. The next day, I can usually summon a more objective view on things. There will always be many different opinions about a piece of writing, so learn to accept that. Learn to understand others’ interpretation, (especially if that knowledge will keep you from embarrassing yourself, or unintentionally hurting any of your readers), but remember to tell the story you want to tell, in the way that you think it should be told. The best critique partners can help with that, whether by agreeing or by questioning you.
Brett: Find your support network. Find another writer or two (or three or four) who are in the same stage as you, whether that’s writing your first novels, querying, or dabbling in short stories, and really connect with them. They will be your rock when everything in the writing world is uncertain.
We always holds a team movie night the night before Ch1Con (and now Ch21Con) while we do final conference prep. What’s your pick for the movie this year?
Allison: I think it was one of the Twitter chats recently where the scifi movie Arrival came up as a suggestion, and I would be a poor short fiction author if I didn’t adopt that as my pick immediately. It’s based on a short story by Ted Chiang. It is beautiful and weird and excellently soundtracked. It’s a very Allison movie. I saw it in theaters with my sister, and we both loved it, but walked out with my sister just kind of repeating, “WHAT? WHAT EVEN–?” and me rapturously explaining things to her. That seems like an experience that would be fun to duplicate in a room full of Ch1Events friends.
Brett: I won’t be there (*sob*) so I probably don’t get a vote.
(Don’t worry, guys! We’re working on finding a way to get Brett there this year.)
Are there any last things you’d like to tell readers about Ch1Con and/or Ch21Con?
Allison: Bring your friends! It’ll be fun!
But also, make new friends when you’re there! It’ll be fun!
And also, make new friends (and bring your friends, in a digital sense) to the online Twitter chats and virtual write-ins! They’re a great year-round expansion of the kinds of conversations that happen at the conference itself. It’ll be fun!
Brett: You won’t regret going to the conference. When I signed up for my first Ch1Con, I wasn’t sure if the money and time would be worth it, but it has paid for itself over and over again with the knowledge and connections and friends that I’ve gained. Every young writer should go to Ch1Con!
A huge thanks to Allison and Brett for letting me interview them!
Sadly, this is the final stop on this year’s blog tour, but you can check out the rest of the tour stops (and enter some awesome giveaways!) here.
And, as promised, as part of this tour stop we’re giving away a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card! You can enter that giveaway by clicking the link below:
Thanks again for checking out the final stop on the 2018 Ch1Con & Ch21Con Blog Tour! We hope to see you at the conferences this August!