Dear Twelve Year Old Me

Dear Twelve Year Old Me,

You don’t know it yet, but that writing website you discovered the other day is going to change everything.

You’ll learn so much about the publishing industry, there. Become a better writer. Fall into being a much better person.

And most importantly, you’ll meet some of your best friends.

I know. Crazy. Becoming friends with people on the internet. Didn’t Mom and Dad warn you not to do that? (But it’ll be okay, because that writing website has a wonderful moderator named Bronwen who will keep you from sharing the personal details that could get you kidnapped by a drug cartel/human traffickers.) (You know. Until Fourteen Year Old You and said online friends join NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program, at which you all realize you can now talk without anyone else watching, and you subsequently become completely invested in each other’s lives.)

You don’t know it yet, but a lot of your dreams aren’t going to come true. You won’t be like that girl in that Andrew Clements novel you read over and over again. You won’t be the one juggling schoolwork with book tours and TV appearances.

But that’s okay, that’s more than okay, because you are going to be the one with an AP English essay open in one window and endless novel revisions open in another. You’ll be the one “writing” in notebooks during breaks at theatre rehearsals (because come on, now: we all know that chicken scratch can’t be called writing). You’ll be the one who talks about being scared you’re in the Saggy Middle of your journey to publication as a senior in high school while pacing in a hotel room in New York City, a writing conference in full swing a few floors below.

You’ll be the one who cries a little when you step in the Javits Center for the first time as (Two Weeks Ago) Twenty Year Old You. Because while everybody else in the industry despises it, for someone still so on the outside, that building looks like dreams for the future and rings with those dreams coming true.

Don’t be scared. You’ll still wants it as badly as you do now, Twelve Year Old Me. But you’ll want it differently in seven and a half years. And it’s a long, hard, and beautiful journey to get here.

The other kids on that website you stumbled across are going to be your lifelines through all this. Don’t be mad when they’re better than you; be grateful when they compliment your writing; and always remember how lucky you are to have them in your life.

You don’t deserve them. You still don’t now. But you do have them, and they have you, and that’s what you’re doing here right now.

Because “here” is Arlington Heights, Illinois. And “right now” is 7:21 AM, June 14th, 2014. The morning of the 2014 Chapter One Young Writers Conference. A conference you put together (with a LOT of help from Mom, mind you) so you and your friends and other young writers like you can transcend the boundaries of the internet and distance, at least for a weekend. Because after seven and a half years, you guys deserve that kind of thing.

And now you–or I, I guess, am sitting here on a bath mat across from a hotel toilet, because I don’t want to wake Mom out in the room. And my left shoulder blade is pressed to the wall, legs bent with left flip flop pressed to right thigh, and it’s funny, because in seven and a half years years everything else has changed, but I still sit like I don’t know how to be a functioning human being. (Let’s be honest: I don’t.)

You’re just a snatch of memory held up with velvet rope and spotlights at the back of my mind, now, Twelve Year Old Me: a period in my life I remember probably far too often, because I am scared to forget.

And I love you. Because you won’t know you’re changing everything when you choose to use that website for all the wrong reasons and choose to obsess over it for all the right ones.

Eat your vegetables. Brush your teeth. And don’t watch too much TV; it rots your brain. (But no worries. The doctors fix that in the future by coming up with a drug called “Netflix.” Don’t tell the other kids, but it’s going to be awesome.)

One last word of advice: Thirteen Year Old You will encounter the urge to write a novel titled Pennamed. Much bad will come of this. DON’T GIVE IN. (But actually do, because finishing that first terrible novel is one of the things that sets you down the path to Now. And I love Now.)

I’m off to talk with some of those girls you met the other day. Thanks for introducing me to them. They’re pretty cool.



Twenty Year Old Me

Central Park and Airplanes

Sorry I didn’t get the chance to post yesterday! We didn’t get home until midnight and I had been fighting nodding off the entire way (for some reason a weekend of being touristy in NYC can do that to you), so I just collapsed on my bed the instant I was through the door.

BookCon ended Saturday evening, so Sunday was purely a day for sightseeing. We started with brunch at a French restaurant (peppermint tea and a multi-grain waffle with fresh strawberries and syrup and whipped cream!). Then we were off to Central Park. (Side note: I just yawned and my right ear finally popped after getting off the plane at TEN. THIRTY. last night. Gee thanks, ear.)

We spent the majority of the afternoon walking around Central Park. It was about seventy five out and sunny, which meant the park was packed. The lawns were practically standing room only with so many people spread out to nap or eat or play catch or just take it all in. We trekked to the Obelisk (which was unfortunately under construction, but still pretty cool), the Alice in Wonderland statue (adorable children climbed all over it, paying no mind to the heat), and the Strawberry Fields mosaic (where a guy with a guitar sang “Imagine” and laughing tourists crowded the mosaic for pictures).

After Central Park, it was a whirlwind of making it to our plane on time. We stopped at a street vendor for fresh fruit on our way back to the hotel, then grabbed our luggage and hit the road–at which point all efforts to reach the airport were thwarted by multiple car accidents that completely stopped traffic on our way through Queens to LaGuardia.

Fact: Getting in a car accident in New York City seems to be about one of the worst places to get in a car accident. The firetrucks and ambulances were slow on their way to and from the accidents because so many cars blocked their way to them and these blocking vehicles had nowhere to go. Add in the impatient taxi drivers and angry tourists, and it’s like something out of a disaster movie.

Despite all that, though, we did make it to the airport with plenty of time. We got dinner at one of the LaGuardia food courts, caught a ride with a very bored-looking airport transport vehicle driver dude (thank God, because suitcases full of books are HEAVY), then it was onto the airplane.

Which immediately began to loudly beep. Like it was going to explode.

“It’s just the smoke detector in one of the bathrooms,” a flight attendant assured the guy across the aisle from me. “Although, we can’t seem to find any smoke, so that’s strange.”

I obviously spend far too much time thinking up crazy, violent acts for stories, because my first thought was that someone had rewired the thing to turn it into a bomb and the plane was going to blow up the moment they turned the engines on.

With the help of some maintenance people, they managed to turn the alarm off (which then required closing the bathroom, which then led to massive lines to get into the working one for the duration of the flight–fun times).

Anyway, I spent the flight reading The Lord of the Rings in preparation for Oxford, and mi madre did Sudoku, and Hannah read a Percy Jackson book, and I’m not really sure what Hannah’s mom did because I couldn’t spy on her from my seat. But rest assured, we didn’t blow up and safely made it home and I miss New York already.

But I’m also really glad to finally get some sleep.

Next up in the Summer of Bookish Traveling: Chicago for the Chapter One Young Writers Conference! If I haven’t already driven you crazy with how much I go on about it, you can check out our website at The conference will take place Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15 outside Chicago and it’s for anyone interested in writing, ages 12-22. Registration closes next Wednesday (the 11th), so you should get on that if you might want to come! We’d love to have you. 🙂

Watch out for an in depth, rambling post about BookCon on Saturday (and possibly a review of BookCon as an event, itself) sometime this week!



A Series of Minor Panics, Or: Owning A Business

Back in February, I created an LLC to run Ch1Con through. So many people own small businesses in the United States, I figured it couldn’t be too complicated to get everything started and running properly.

Register the business with the state? Check.

Open a business banking account? Check.

What else could I possibly need to do? (As you’ve probably guessed by now: a freaking ton.)

The past few months have been a whirlwind of forms I didn’t know I needed to fill out until it was almost too late and awkward back-and-forths with Very Official Business People, all much older than me and used to not spewing words like “freaking” in the middle of a sentence.

I have a CPA, a banker, and a lawyer. I have to keep track of a thousand and one numbers and licenses and forms.

Yesterday, my aunt dropped by and mentioned that I have to charge the conference attendees sales tax.

“Really? I asked. “I figured I could just pull it from the amount they’re already paying us.”

She shook her head and laughed. “That’s illegal. You have to get a license from the state to charge sales tax and you have to collect it directly from the customers. With their knowledge.”

Sure enough, a Google search after she’d left proved her right. Which then meant researching how sales tax even works, what to do about use tax, applying for the license, figuring out how to add it to our conference order forms, and not dying from a heart attack. All as quickly as possible.

Three and a half hours I’d meant to spend revising a novel? Gone.

Basically, while I’ve always respected small business owners, I am now in awe of how they handle everything. They are superheroes. And I am never taking my local bookshops and restaurants for granted again.



Register for Ch1Con 2014!

It’s here! It’s finally here!

FB Banner Chicago 2014

After a billion hours of behind-the-scenes work over the past year or so, registration for the 2014 Chapter One Young Writers Conference is finally open.

I founded Ch1Con a couple years ago with the help of some of my writing friends and my seriously wonderful madre. This is our first year opening the conference to the public, and I am SO EXCITED to share it with you. We’ve got some great sessions and workshops lined up, with more announcements to come leading to the conference.

The conference will take place Saturday, June 14th and Sunday, June 15th at the Courtyard Chicago Arlington Heights/South hotel by Marriott, just outside downtown Chicago.

Admission is $75.00 for Saturday (speakers and a panel) and $35.00 for Sunday (writing workshops). You can also order a Ch1Con t-shirt for $20.00.

It would mean the absolute world to me if you considered attending. This conference is my baby and I can’t wait for you to get to know it.

Learn more about Ch1Con through our…

Facebook Page:
Twitter: @Ch1Con

And don’t forget to register here!




Lovely Links

Hey there! I’ve been collecting up some links for a while now to share with you in one compact, beautiful little post. You ready for this? Let’s go!


Smoore’s Adventures

Smoore’s Adventures is the blog of my writing friend Shelby, and I definitely suggest checking her out. She’s a total sweetheart, and besides being an awesome writer, she’s also a seriously talented musician. Like me, she just finished her first year of college, and now she’s getting back into the swing of things with her blog for the summer.


Miss Snark’s First Victim: The 2013 Baker’s Dozen Earliest Info Ever

Are you a writer and don’t know what Miss Snark’s First Victim and/or the Baker’s Dozen Agent Auction is? Make sure to check ’em out, because this is an opportunity you do not want to miss!


Chapter One Young Writers Conference

I know I’ve talked about it before, but if you haven’t checked out Ch1Con yet, you definitely should. 🙂 It’s a conference I run with some friends (and a lot of help from my much more worldly parents), targeting teenage writers. Our next event will be in Chicago in July, 2014, which is still a ways away of course, but I’m already SO EXCITED for it.



If you don’t know what WriteOnCon is, I wrote a post about it last year, which you can read here. If you don’t feel like clicking on that link, let me just say: It’s the most amazing free online writing conference focusing on kidlit in the universe EVER. (There. How ’bout that description?)

Anyway, they’ve just announced the dates for the 2013 conference, and I’m kind of urging my summer vacation to go by faster now, just so WriteOnCon can come. That’s how much I love it.


Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent trilogy (and my personal hero), is going on tour!

Guys, I’m a huge Veronica Roth fan. I am a HUUUGE fan. I am a fan to the point of probably being kind of creepily obsessed with all things her and her books. (Like my friends and I literally drove six hours to Chicago the other weekend just to stalk the set of the Divergent movie.) Obviously I’m not going to stop you from voting for her to come to your state on tour, because I know I’m not the only one who adores her to pieces, but if you wanted to maybe help me get her to come to Michigan instead, I would really appreciate it. Just saying. Because I love her. (And you, whether you vote for Michigan or not.)


… And that’s it for now! Thanks for checking out the links, and I’ll see you next time!