2018 Ch1Con & Ch21Con Blog Tour: Interview with Brett Jonas & Allison Mulder

2018 blog tour banner.png

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 MulderAllison 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 - blog tourBrett 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:

Click here to win a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card!

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!


Countdown to Ch1Con 2015

If you’ve ever seen that episode of Gilmore Girls where Lorelai leaves a billion messages for herself at the inn, because they’re getting ready to open and she’s super stressed out, and she drives everyone crazy–Yeah. That’s me right now, with the conference this weekend.

I’ve found that no matter how much legwork you put into an event, things will ALWAYS come up in the last few days leading to it. So I’m currently juggling a thousand last minute questions and mini emergencies, between speakers and volunteers and, oh yeah, attendees. And while so far my team and I have been able to handle everything (THANK GOD for the Ch1Con team), I keep panicking that something’s going to slip and the entire conference will come crashing down because of it. And I so, so don’t want that to happen, because all of these awesome people are coming and I want them to have the best experience possible. And yeah.

At the same time though, we’re doing the best we can. I am SO EXCITED to finally see this thing we’ve been planning for over a year now come to fruition. And more than anything, I’m blown away by how much support we’ve received this year, how many attendees have decided to give us a chance, and how many great new memories people will hopefully make this weekend.

I trust my team. I trust the work we’ve put into this and the love we have for it. So here goes.

Chapter One Young Writers Conference, 2015: We’re coming for you.

Five days.


NaNo Day 10: Ch1Con Indiegogo!

Ch1Con Badge 2014 [Matted]It’s live! Help us fund the 2015 Chapter One Young Writers Conference and make teen writers’ dreams come true! (Also mine. Just saying.)

You can find our Indiegogo campaign here.

Ummm. Okay. Let’s see. What else for today?

I’ve got a mound of homework to do. (I ended up falling asleep before I could get started on it last night.)

I’ve got classes to attend. (Yay weekdays.)

And 2K in NaNo to write. (Plus 500 words left over from yesterday’s 1K, because Once Upon a Time was more distracting than expected. By which I mean the special effects were even more terrible than expected. By which I mean: Yay. Once Upon a Time.)

So yeah. That’s what I’ve got on my plate today.

Goal for today: 2,000 + yesterday’s 500 = 2,500.

Overall goal: 19,000.

Current word count: 19,046.

How’s NaNo going for you? Real life getting in the way yet?


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 outrageous, 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 my mom 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 www.chapteroneconference.com. 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!



Wordy Wednesday (“Writer’s Digest Conference 2013, Notes Part 2”)

As to be expected, the end of the semester (and school year, for me) is absolutely CRAZY. Lots of homework and studying and trying not to get distracted by the great outdoors. Plus, I’m currently sick with allergies, so that’s always fun. I’m really excited to (finally) be done with my eight credit hour Spanish classes next week, though, so I’ve just gotta push through this last little bit, then it’s summer vacation! Yay!

On a more somber note, prayers for all those affected by the tragedies in Boston this week (I can’t even imagine), and prayers, also, for my angry-old-man-cat, Willy, who hasn’t been eating much the past few days and has started having trouble breathing. He’s seventeen and a half, but a fighter. If you’ve been around since the beginning of this blog (or share my stalker tendencies), then you’ll remember that it was Willy having a massive seizure a year and a half ago that actually got me started on the blogging train (I needed something to do while keeping him company 24/7, and there wasn’t a TV in his room 😉 ).

Anyway, back to what we’re here for. This week’s Wordy Wednesday is a continuation of my notes from the Writer’s Digest Conference East 2013 earlier this month, today on the topic of Publishing Short Stories.

If you haven’t read last Wednesday’s notes on Going from Aspiring Writer to Published Author, click here.


Panel: How to Write for Big Name Publications [4-5-13]

Moderator: Jessica Strawser

Panelists: Susan Shapiro, Paula Derrow, Christian Hoard? (the panelist works at Rolling Stone; I missed his last name when they were doing the introductions), and A.J. Jacobs.


          A.J.: Start small, work up to the big publications. You need experience to pitch the larger magazines.

          Susan: However, sometimes you can break in with big pubs as a newbie, too. Don’t pitch a profile or a complicated news piece—pitch a deep personal essay, where you can send the editor the entire piece—it’s MUCH easier. Susan suggests using the method she calls the “Humiliation Essay,” in which you write about your most humiliating secret.

          Paula: It’s all in the execution—how is your story different? Look into writing for the front sections of mags—those are done by the junior editors, who are easier to pitch to.

          Susan: Magazine websites are easier to get into than the print ones—they’re a good stepping stone to getting into the print mags.

          A.J.: Creatively, right now is the greatest time to be a writer. Financially, not so much.

          A.J: Study what a publication has done, compliment them, and THEN pitch your own writing.

          A.J.: You write for two reasons. #1 is the prestige; #2 is the money. (Get that? Money es numero DOS!)

          Paula: It’s getting harder to break into the print magazine market—there are fewer long, narrative pieces. Think 700 words now, rather than 3 to 4,000. It used to be $3.00/word, now it’s more like $250.00/story. This is a downward trend.

          Paula: there’s less back and forth with the editor now.

          Susan: Best secret to writing: hire a good shrink.

          Susan: Go slow. Don’t send off your writing the moment you finish a piece.

          Susan: “Addicts depend on substance, not people.” – Don’t be an addict about writing.

          Susan: Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Hire a ghost editor.

          Christian: Rolling Stone website publishes 30 to 40 e-articles every day, but only for about $0.75/word.

          Jessica: Magazines—unlike novels, is better to ignore the submission guidelines—find the RIGHT editor, rather than just subbing to the magazine in general.

          Susan: THE OPINIONATOR pays $150.00/story—that’s a good deal.

          Susan: It’s about the online articles now, not the in print ones.

          Jessica: Shoot for the lower-level editors, rather than the high-up ones.

          Paula: Your writing needs a twist—the secret to a good personal essay is to have a twist in a traditional topic.

          Jessica/Paula: Read the mag before you submit

          Susan: On your byline, it’s good to be like “… and so-and-so is working on a novel/memoir/etc. on the same subject” – gets you attention from editors, producers, lit agents, etc.

          Susan: Check which articles are freelance—call and ask to speak with the editors of those articles

          Christian: Just because it’s obvious to you doesn’t mean it’s obvious to the editors (could be something they forgot to cover; there are lots of little holes)—put a new twist on an old topic, and you’re gold.

          A.J.: For your cover letter—a couple of punchy paragraphs about your idea and a short bio at the end.

          A.J.: “There’s a fine line between persistence and stalking” – don’t stalk an editor to try to get them to publish you

          A.J.: The profiles, the big topics—those are generally given to the staff writers.

          Susan: 95% of editors also write. Find their work. Read it. Tell them why you’re contacting them: “I’m a fan of your work, I just read your piece ___ in ____!”

          Jessica: Look at “front of the book” – shorter assignments are good for getting your feet wet.

          A.J.: Best way to get a book deal is through a magazine article, newspaper article, etc. “You can’t just write books.” BRANDING (per usual)—keep your brand out there or people will forget about you.

          Susan: write the piece at the same time as you write the book.

          Paula: having the pressure of real life—a “real job,” etc—can be great to let you have the pressure you need to write your book. Quitting your job can actually make you write less, because there’s less time pressure.

          Christian: If you’re unsure about something, try to start a dialogue with your editor.

          Christian: If you can, it’s always best to be an editor before you’re a writer; it makes you a better writer.

          Jessica: Don’t be afraid to ask your questions up front.

          A.J.: Up front, be like, “Here’s what I’m thinking, what are you thinking?”

          Jessica: Ask UP FRONT to clarify the assignment; get all the details right away.

          Paula: Phone calls allow for more creating—bouncing, developing ideas—than emails do.

          Susan: Ghost editors are good—share your work for critique before you show it to the editor.

          Susan: Write your essays around your book, not using the same, direct words from your book.

          Susan: It’s easier to be foreign in the current publishing market. If you have anything unique about you, UTILIZE IT in your writing.


Panel: How to Become a Regular Contributor to Any Publication [4-6-13]

Moderator: Jessica Strawser

Panelists: Zachary Petit, Susan Shapiro, Debbie Harmsen

          Jessica: Pitching a regular column to a magazine is like asking an editor to go out with you every Saturday for the next year without even meeting first.

          Jessica: Pitch one article. If they like it, then you pitch more.

          Susan: The biggest mistake people make is to launch into their own story in their pitch, rather than focusing on the story they’re actually pitching.

          Susan: 90% of editors also write—as do a lot of agents. Find what they’ve written, read, use that knowledge to your advantage.

          Susan: The biggest insult is to email pros with form letters rather than giving personal attention—better to be a kiss-up than a self-absorbed jerk.

          Susan: Start by focusing on the person you want something from, not yourself.

          Debbie: Try not to be irritating—use email, not phone calls.

          Zachary: Follow. Submission. Guidelines.

          Susan: Always have the name of the agent or editor in your letter—find their personal email.

          Zachary: If you google “[insert name of person you’re submitting to here]@” their email should pop up.

          Jessica: The first impression goes beyond your first email to them—it goes to your entire online persona. Don’t have inappropriate pictures on Facebook, etc. “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

          Susan: If it’s on your blog, website, Twitter, etc—it’s already published. If you’re already giving it away for free, it’ll be very hard to sell.

          Zachary: Always make your inappropriate photos (if you feel the need to have some online) PRIVATE.

          Zachary: Always be polite and courteous—“don’t be the writer that lands herself in the blacklist folder.”

          Jessica: Editors want to have a big staple of writers to call upon; they want to have more regular contributors to work with; they WANT you to be on that list; they want your first assignment to go great—so NAIL that first assignment.

          Debbie: If you’re writing a book, it’s your brand. If you’re writing for a publication, it’s THEIR brand.

          Debbie: It’s easier for the editor to work with someone they already know.

          Debbie: The first impression isn’t just getting that first assignment, it’s how the assignment goes.

          Debbie: You don’t have to be Michael Jordan, but you need to be a solid player (rather than Dennis Rodman)

          Susan: Use ghost editors if you’re worried about grammar or spelling—if you’re not 100% sure your writing is perfect, GET. HELP.

          Susan: Always turn your work in early and clean.

          Susan: Be open to the editor changing anything they want.

          Susan: Write thank you letters, put the editors’ names in your acknowledgements, send little thank you gifts—treat them to lunch, etc. Ask them to be on panels, in events, etc; anywhere the editors can be honored.

          Susan: It isn’t about being the best; it’s about having a good attitude.

          Zachary/Susan: Fact-check before you turn in your assignment—show your fact checking; put fact-checking in your reference tab, track changes comments, at the end, put page numbers just to the right—whatever the publication prefers. Just make sure to fact-check.

          Susan: Make sure to thank the little people in your acknowledgements.

          Jessica: Try to strike a good balance with an editor FROM THE START.

          Jessica: Casual formality—no emoticons, “lol,” etc. in your language. Don’t be overly familiar. But also don’t be overly stiff.

          Debbie: Don’t stalk the editor. Let them invite you to follow them on Twitter, to friend you on Facebook, etc.

          Debbie: Try to group questions together rather than sending a new email with a new question in it every hour.

          Debbie: Most editors prefer email to phone—if you do call, make sure to ask if they have time to talk to you right then.

          Susan: Never finish something and then send it straight out—get a mentor to critique your work, not just be like, “I like it.”

          Susan: Writing groups are great. So are ghost editors. Use these resources.

          Susan: The people who are open for criticism, turning in work early, asking questions, taking notes, etc.—they are the ones who get deals.

          Zachary: When and how to pitch again—it’s not bad form to pitch again right away (if they liked your last article), but MAKE SURE IT’S READY.

          Jessica: Wait until your first assignment is edited—you’ve signed off on your pre-publication galleys—before pitching the next assignment.

          Jessica: Don’t send an open-ended message like, “Hey, let me know if you ever need anything!” If it doesn’t work for making plans with your friends, it isn’t going to work with an editor, either. Make sure to make definite plans.

          Jessica: Pitch the next project once the assignment is complete, but it’s still fresh in the editor’s mind.

          Susan: The best thing is to let the article publication completely play out before you submit again.

          Susan: Break the rules WHEN necessary, but ONLY when necessary. (She told a story here about how she pressured a publishing house into giving her a deal for her next book by publishing lots of short pieces on the book’s topic and thus creating immense interest in it—something you’re not generally supposed to do, pressuring the publishing house, but she knew it was the only way she’d get that deal.)

          Zachary: Be honest if you’ve already written a really similar piece, when pitching.

          Susan: There are two people you should never lie to about your writing: your editor and your shrink.

          Zachary: Be willing and open for everything you write to be critiqued and torn to pieces.

          Susan: Go to as many conferences, panels, and seminars as you can—try to stay as up to date as possible.

          Susan: Start high—try the best places you can—and if none of those places want your piece, then head lower.


Marketing Short Fiction: The Science of Publishing [4-7-13]

Speaker: Jacob Appel

          There are only about 3,000 slots for short story publications a year. A lot of those go to people like Jacob Appel (who sold 30 stories last year).

          There’s a systematic way of doing the short-story-publishing-thing. The quality of your story MATTERS.

          There are more great stories being written than there are spaces to publish them.

          There are 2 ways you can approach short story publishing:

o   Process-based approach: work on only one story at a time. If it sells, then you work on the next one.

o   Career-approach (which in the long run is better for you): Work on multiple projects at once, not putting a particular focus on any of them.

          Check out Best American Short Stories. There’s a list of about 150-200 good magazines.

          Hit journals at their “weak points”:

o   Contests—you have a chance of about 750 to 1 of winning, whereas when just trying to publish, the magazine gets about 5,000 submissions a month and only buys 3 or 4. YOUR ODDS ARE MUCH BETTER WITH CONTESTS.

§  Why contests rock:

·         Someone has to win (make sure the rules say someone has to win, or it’s pointless).

·         They’re being judged blind (it doesn’t matter what the author has done before this story)

·         Prominent authors like Joyce Carol Oates don’t do contests.

o   Theme issues are also good—submit to these. WRITE FOR THE OPPORTUNITY.

o   Find out details of the mag—act like you know someone who works there—it’s easy to intimidate an intern into sending your story on to the editor.

§  Gateway approach—tiers—get past the intern who doesn’t know any better, and you’ll have a much higher chance of the editor taking your work seriously.

§  Goal: Convince the first gatekeeper (the intern) that you are a famous author presenting your work fraudulently (under a “fake name,” you know). Don’t think like you’re a pro, but act like one. Trick the intern into thinking you’re important.

·         Basically: Act like a subsidy publisher.

          Be a repeat-set player—don’t be a one-time player.

          As a writer, you aren’t a hospital patient—you’re a doctor. You aren’t focused on getting that one person home, you’re focused on getting ALL that patients in your wing home (the “patients” being “stories” and yeah).

          Always make the editors think you want their feedback—submit a beautiful letter telling them how you appreciate their opinion, and then send a thank you note afterward.

          “If a journal rejects you three times, you should never submit again.” —Stephen Dixon; BAD ADVICE. Don’t take rejection personally; don’t let it discourage you. Be relentless.

          Writers are writers, and editors are editors—LISTEN TO THEM. They know what they’re doing.

          Just because something enters the world one way doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Revising is not a bad thing. Rewriting is not a bad thing.

          You should submit a story EVERY DAY. If you get a rejection, you submit two stories the next day. If you get a rejection that hurts, send out 10 to 20 the next day, just to get it out of your system. You need to get used to rejection.

          Being kind, courteous, level-headed—that is what gets you your network more than anything else. BE LOYAL. Be a good person.

          You have to think of the publishing industry as a process, not a project.

          Internet journals are more likely to accept previously-published work than print journals are.

          Cover-letter—make it very standard and plain—don’t attract with format and style, but with content.

o   First paragraph: Short and simple. Make it personal (“I am an avid reader of your journal”; “I am subscribed to your magazine”; etc.).

o   Second paragraph: Credentials—say someone suggested you submit there, even if it was your crazy, unpublished uncle. (The intern won’t know any better.)

o   With short stories, agents are helpful, but not necessary the way they are with novels.

          Short story collections are not profitable—the reason agents will represent a short story writer is because they think there will be a novel eventually down the line.

          Find an agent who reps VERY similar projects to yours.

          Agents only have about 20 publishers it makes sense to submit to, with short story collections; for writers, there are more like 80.

o   Submit to the lower-level publishers, publish with them, and then the larger players will be interested in your next collection.

          Go to the back of Best American Short Stories to find the list of journals.


       As always, while these notes might be helpful (despite how extremely scattered and incomplete they are; sorry ’bout that), actually attending a conference is a LOT better. I highly suggest getting to a Writer’s Digest Conference if you ever have the chance, and if you don’t have the money or time to go to a conference in person, the annual online (and FREE!) Write On Con event is great also.



WDC Weekend: Home Again

I. Am. So. Tired.

If I wake up again before the end of the semester, it will be a miracle.

I know this is like a five second post, but I am exhausted (if I didn’t already mention that) and I wanted to let y’all know I made it home safely.

And came home to this:


And yeah. Time to go tackle that Spanish homework I’ve been putting off all weekend, and I’ll see if I can start typing up conference notes for this Wordy Wednesday. Sound good?

¡Buenas noches!


WDC Weekend: Sunday Morning Sleepiness

Sunday morning is always the hardest part of WDC. You’ve already been sitting in sessions for the past two days, you generally are completely sleep deprived, and you know you’re going to have to leave in a few hours for the airport to go back to your fabulous, ordinary life away from the magic of New York City and all the gazillion writers you just got to share air with for the past two days.

Plus, if you’re a freshman in college like me, going back to real life also means going back to the last two weeks of classes and then FINALS! WHOO! (On the upside, UMich is going to the championship game tomorrow, so the campus is basically going to be crazy with energy all day. Which will be great for keeping me awake through Spanish class.)

We’ve got just the closing keynote address left, then we’re going to go do a little more sightseeing around Rockefeller and such, and then it’s off to the airport. And even though I should really work on the plane, I’m thinking there’s a nice long nap in my future.

After I posted yesterday, we had a couple more sessions, then we went out to dinner at this super schmancy Italian restaurant (which had absolutely DELICIOUS sauce on their pasta pomodoro), and then we saw Newsies on Broadway, which was as fantastic as is to be expected. (The dancing, the set, the very attractive actors–Julia was one happy theatre-goer.) It was Broadway Cares night, which I swear I have an uncanny affinity for attending (this was my third time attending a Broadway Cares night in, I think, the past four shows I’ve gone to), and they were selling some really AWESOME merchandise to raise money for it, including copies of the playbill signed by the entire cast.

If you didn’t know, I have the absolute best mother in the whole wide world. I didn’t even have to beg her all that much before she forked over the cash for the playbill. (Which reminds me–Hero, I got cast autographs for you. Including from some of the principles. You’re welcome.)

I’m going to be posting more pictures from throughout the weekend on my Facebook page, so make sure to go like it if you haven’t already. (And if you don’t have FB, you can still view the page, so that works too! Yay!)

The closing keynote is about to start–talk to you later!



WDC Weekend: Pitch Slam Recap

After rushing to get ready this morning and receiving some unwelcome surprises (hello, allergies, I missed you this winter too!), we all finally made it to the first session this morning. And it’s basically just been a whirlwind since then, going between sessions, practicing our pitches, and then finally: THE PITCH SLAM. (You have to read that in a really deep, dramatic movie-announcer voice.)

The Slam is basically the most nerve-wracking thing on the planet. This was my third year doing it, and I still had a mini panic attack before speaking to each of the eleven agents I got to. It was also totally fun though, because I pitched in a completely different way this year than I have in the past, and it made it a lot more free flow and fun (instead of having a really set query letter-style pitch that I just read to the agents, I gave them my elevator pitch from memory and then just winged it from there). Plus: I had the opportunity during the Pitch Slam to meet one of my writing friends in person, the super cool Joan (who has great boots, by the way). Read her blog here.

We ran into each other on accident, as I was leaving one agent’s table and cutting between another agent’s line and her table, and Joan happened to be in that line. She recognized me, we freaked out, and it was awesome. 🙂

(Sorry if this post at all seems like it’s kind of all over the place. I’m only half-aware of what I’m doing right now, because I’m still coming off my adrenaline high from the Pitch Slam, and I’ve gotta leave for the next session in a minute.)

So anyway: the Pitch Slam. I got to talk to eleven agents (which is a really high number for WDC–most people only get to talk to three or five–but my mom’s awesome and acts as a placeholder for me in the lines so I get to talk to more). Of those eleven agents, I got requests from ALL ELEVEN. And I am now about to go pass out from happiness and nerves and excitement and AHHHHH. 😀

… Off to the next session, now. Talk to you soon!



WDC Weekend: We’re at the Conference!

It’s 12:11 AM, I am absolutely exhausted, and the first day of the conference is done. Basic overview of the day:

After posting this morning, I scampered off to Spanish class to sit through an hour of la gramática, and then skipped and jumped and danced on my way back to the dorm, because I was Free! Free! For the whole weekend! To go to New York City, my favorite place on earth, and interact with other writers!

Did some last minute packing, managed to jam/possibly dislocate my right pinky finger on my hall’s bathroom door (no worries, like all cool people I’m left-handed), and then Mom picked me up and we drove to the airport. Where we had a very tasty and deep-fat-fried lunch:


Afterward, we headed off to get on the plane. Only, apparently, there was some mix up about which gate our plane was boarding at, so we had to rush off and find the new gate. And then, at the new gate, they informed us that the intercom system was broken on the plane, so they were finding us a new plane instead. So then they herded us all back to the original gate, where the new plane was going to load. Except, then, apparently they managed to fix the plane with the broken intercom, and we all had to go back to THAT gate. At which point we all started getting that nervous crawling feeling because the gate claimed that the plane loading there was going to Baltimore, not New York City. At which point the very kind and patient airport workers informed us that they had indeed fixed the plane, that was indeed the right gate, and it was indeed going to NYC.

On the plane, Mom and I took lots of fabulous selfies. A sampling of my personal favorites:




At the airport, we reunited with my writing-parner-in-crime, Mel, and then took a cab to the hotel, at which point we realized that Writer’s Digest Conference in January is far different from Writer’s Digest Conference in April. As in: There are. So many. People here. The hotel is basically flooded, because not only are there three different conferences going on at it right now, but there are also a ton of people here for WrestleMania, and spring break, and there are all sorts of fancy rich school groups, and whoa. Lots’a people.

The first few sessions were as fantastic as always (there’s a reason I love WDC so much and keep going back year after year), and then afterward we checked into the hotel, at which point they told us they had run out of the type of room we had reserved, and instead let us have free wi-fi for the day (score!), and–get this–a corner room. That you can actually see part of Times Square from. OH MY GOSH.


Sorry for the blurriness. I suck at taking pictures when it’s dark out.

We settled in, had fun playing with the bed (it folds into the wall):


Disclaimer: Nobody was harmed in the taking of this photo.

… And then we ventured into the city! (At which point my camera died, because my battery has the lifespan of a jar of Nutella in a room of hungry college students, and therefore I have no pictures from our adventures beyond the walls of the hotel.)

We explored Times Square, ate some very delicious New York style pizza at Ray’s, and then got dessert at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. And then came back, and now we’re sitting in our fancy schmanzy hotel room, Mel and I blogging while my mom looks at us like we’re crazy people. Which is probably true, but oh well.

Because seriously: We are currently at the Writer’s Digest Conference, the most wondrous conference ever. In New York City, the most magical place on earth.



PS. Check out Mel’s blog for some detailed evaluations on the mental states of the magical creatures (*cough* not-quite-normal but all very average humans) we’ve encountered so far!

PPS. Check out Joan’s blog for more conference fun!

PPPS. Reminder that I’m going to be posting my notes from all the various sessions after the conference is over, and throughout the conference I’ll be continuing to blog about what’s going on, so stay tuned for more!

Write On Con 2012

The conference is coming! The conference is coming!

For anyone who doesn’t know, Write On Con is this super awesome annual writing conference that I adore. Wanna know why?

Okay, well I’m going to tell you anyway.

  1. It’s online. Which means that I don’t have to move my butt out of my chair to attend it.
  2. There’s this great workshopping element to the conference where you can get critique on your query letter and the opening scene of your novel and stuff.
  3. IT’S FREE. Oh my gosh it’s FREE.

As somebody who’s been blessed with the opportunity to attend more than a few writing conferences the past couple of years, I can guarantee you that it costs a lot of money to go to one. A LOT. So imagine the pure, five-year-old-on-Christmas joy I felt when I first found out about Write On Con. I swear: it was like getting a puppy.

Say hello to Sammy as a puppy. Even back then people were confusing her for a boy.

Write On Con was created a while back by some authors for the purpose of providing all the perks of attending a writing conference–sessions from publishing professionals, networking with other writers, etc–without all the cost, and they’ve stayed true to that ideal ever since. Plus, they’ve worked in ways for attendees to get lots of great feedback on the things that matter most when submitting your writing to literary agents and editors through their forums and forum events. You can even get feedback from literary agents, who snoop around during the conference as “ninja agents,” critiquing and requesting material based on what they find in the forums.

The one thing Write On Con lacks is the fun of being immersed the entire conference-straight in writing related things; eating, breathing, sleeping in the same space as other writers. But really, when it’s free, who cares?

So anyway, I’m super excited for Write On Con, and I hope you are too, because it’s a great event. Information for attending:

Who: You!

What: The biggest online writing conference ever (and it’s free!).

When: Monday, August 13th through Wednesday, August 15th

Where: http://writeoncon.com/

Why: Because really. If you’re a writer, and you’re breathing right now, why wouldn’t you attend?

See you at the conference! (Also: You can look me up on the forums, if you’d like.)