Chapter One Young Writers Conference: 2014 Blog Tour!!

chich1 panner

Happy Friday, Readers! Today, I’m participating in the Ch1Con Blog Tour!!

What’s Ch1Con?

…Seriously? It’s THE coolest writers conference for young writers (middle school through undergraduate)…aka it’s where all the cool kids will be.

This year, the conference takes place from June 14-15 just outside Chicago, Illinois. The team includes CEO Julia Byers, Creative Director Molly Brennan, Associate Online Administrator Kira Budge, Event Aide Lynn Byers, and a number of other speakers and contributors heavily involved in the teen writing world. There will be a number of speakers, including headliner Amy Zhang, whose debut YA contemp novel FALLING INTO PLACE comes out in September and has already received rave reviews for its “complex web of relationships and interactions” (quote via Goodreads) and unique POV.

FYI, Amy’s amazing…You’re going to want to be there. Read my “before the book deal” interview with her (the fame hasn’t changed her one bit)

Oh, and guess what?!?! I’m one of the speakers!! That’s right. I’ll be giving an interactive talk on “Following the Rules: Worldbuilding 101.” It’s open to writers of all genres, and I really hope you’re able to attend. You can register here:

Why was the conference started?

Well… There are few events as enjoyable and productive for people in our field as writing conferences. With so many options out there, many specifically designed towards certain genres or groups, writers can almost always find a conference geared towards their needs! Because the teen writing community is a particularly vibrant one, set to determine the future of the industry, it seemed fitting that there be a conference just for them. Thus, a number of teen writers, friends for many years thanks to the wonder of the Internet, came together to create the Chapter One Young Writers Conference, which takes place every summer and brings young writers together to hear from accomplished speakers of their age, complete workshops, and celebrate the influence young writers have on the world. This year’s conference will be the first session open for public registration!

The original conference took place in 2012 with six teenagers in attendance in person and countless others attending via an online live stream.

It was an experiment limited to members of the Scholastic’s Write It community and their friends: Could a group of teenagers from across North America really get together and run their own conference?

The answer soon became apparent: Yes.

And so Chapter One Young Writers Conference was born!

The schedule

Saturday’s sessions will include presentations by up-and-coming young authors and a panel for attendees to ask the speakers anything, from querying tips to OTPs! Sunday’s sessions will focus on workshopping, including Ch1Con’s signature “Roundtable Critique” event. Between sessions, attendees will have the option to participate in literary trivia games and giveaways, with prizes like professional critiques, ARCs, and literary-themed jewelry! (I’ll be giving away some signed swag from author buds and a critique!)

During downtime, all participants are free to explore the wonderful sites in the Chicago area.

The Location

The conference will be held in the Courtyard Chicago Arlington Heights/South Marriot, with sessions from 9am to 4:30pm Saturday the 14th, and 9am to 12:30pm Sunday the 15th. Tickets for transport and room reservations can be bought online, with links on the conference’s Travel page. Registration is now open.

For more information, check out the social media platforms of the conference:
Website: Chapter One Young Writers Conference
Facebook: Chapter One Young Writers Conference
Twitter: @Ch1Con

And don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour as it spans a number of writing blogs through the next couple of weeks! Check out Chapter One Young Writers on its social media sites for the full tour information!

Hope to see you there!

Whimsically Yours,



Updates – 11/29/12


  1. eXpose – my college fashion org’s student run fashion show has been postponed until next semester which means I have all of Winter break to work on my designs!!!
  2. At 4pm EST today 12/3/12 look for a review of the YA Dystopia Sovereign by E.R. Arroyo, check out her interview with moi 🙂
  3. Tomorrow On 12/4/2012 I will announce a book giveaway of Sovereign (ebook or paperback) so look for that then
  4. Tomorrow On 12/4/2012 I will also post a list of MUST follow industry blogs for writes, they are my favorite writing blogs above and beyond the rest
  5. And last but certainly not least congratulations to Stephanie Diaz, who I interviewed for Whimsically Yours‘ Teens Can Write TOO Week (she’s now 20), for selling her YA novel EXTRACTION to St. Martin’s Press for publication in 2014!!!!! 🙂  Check out her website to learn more 🙂

Also there are a couple pits contests coming up/going on that if you have a completed & polished manuscript you should definitely look out for and enter:

  • Pitch Wars You have until December 5th to enter – it’s a contest where agented authors, industry interns, and editors team up with aspiring writers to shine up their manuscripts and pitches to present to some awesome agents.




  • Pitch Mas – Tuesday 12/4: 11pm-2am EST is the first submission window  with Thursday 12/6 being an all day Twitter pitch fest!




And for the record my life is in a much better state, haha, minus the fact that I still have tons of papers, finals coming up, and internships to apply for (aka the usual).  A little stress never hurt anyone I suppose…

Best of luck to those of you NaNoWriMoing (1-2 more day(s)!!!)

Whimsically Yours,


Interview with YA Writer Stephanie Diaz

Meet Stephanie who, at the time of this interview, was a fellow 19 year old writer and is a college student.  She’s now 20!!! Happy belated birthday.  But for the purpose of Teens Can Write TOO! Week she’s a writer who has some great words of wisdom for us all 🙂


I’m Stephanie, a 19-year-old writer (I’ll be 20 on October 7!) born and raised in Southern California. The book that got me my agent and will be on sub pretty soon is a YA sci-fi called Extraction. It’s about a girl named Clementine who wins an escape from a settlement on a planet where the moon is poisonous and children are killed off when they turn twenty. Only, she has to leave a boy who’s very special to her behind.

UPDATE: EXTRACTION sold to St. Martin’s Griffin and will be published on July 22, 2014. So Stephanie’s going to be a published author, YAY, I can’t wait to read it!!! (you can add it to Goodreads, here!)

Enjoy the interview 🙂

 What is your favorite place to write?

I’m constantly struggling with finding places to write where I won’t be distracted by the internet! My bedroom is nice. But I really wish I had access to an ocean cave or a glass room in the middle of a forest (preferably during a storm). Somewhere far away and pretty.

 What is the first story you remember writing?

A YA fantasy about a girl who discovers a magical world of fairies and elves hidden by the lake in her neighborhood.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I can’t quite remember the first time, but by third grade I was writing stories all the time.

If you could be any character from a book, movie, play, or musical who would it be and why?

I’d be Tris Prior from Divergent, because she’s brave. 

When & why did you start writing?

I’ve been writing since I was so young, it feels like I was born with a need for words and stories ingrained in my brain. I’ve stuck with them because they’re my release and my comfort. 

How do you overcome “writer’s block” ? 

Usually it means there’s something not quite right about what I’ve written recently, or the way the plot is headed. So, I go back to the last point where things were working, and then I try to think of a brand-new, inspiring place to head from there.

Are you a full time writer…why/why not?

I study film production at San Diego State University, so sadly I can’t write full time yet. I hope someday!

Coffee or tea?

Tea! (wild berry and chai are my favorites) 

Fun Fact about yourself most people don’t know?

I sing and play guitar. I have some videos of original songs up on youtube. 😛 

How did you find a literary agent?

I found my lovely agent, Alison Fargis of Stonesong (without whom Extraction would not be anywhere near what it’s become), through the good old querying process. I had a lot of help from writer friends and a few other supportive agents along the way. 

–how long did it take?

I signed with Alison six months to the day after I sent my first query letter for Extraction. But I queried two other manuscripts in previous years—the first when I was 13. All in all, it took me six years of writing/revising/querying.

–what was querying like for you?

With Extraction, I received two revise-and-requests from agents before Alison read my manuscript. So, the six months of querying were fraught with periods of intense revisions. Some days I’d feel like Extraction was “the one,” while on others I was exhausted and ready to turn my attention to a new manuscript. I did garner a number of requests—26 in all, out of about 130 queries—and those kept me going. But I was close to giving up at times, and was never more so than on the day I received a rejection letter for my second R&R. 

The next day I got an email from a different agent asking when a good time would be to talk on the phone. A week later, after four offers of representation and a weekend of hair-pulling/nail-biting, I signed with Alison. 🙂

 What is some advice you would impart to teen writers who wish to be published?

Remember that you’re young and you have lots of years ahead of you. Keep writing, no matter what. And take time to live and enjoy the world. 🙂

 If you had/have an animal spirit which animal(s) would it be…why?

Either a bear or a sea otter.  They’ve always been my favorites.

 What is your favorite childhood book and/or author?

It’s a tie between The Giver by Lois Lowry and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

What is the next book you want to write?

To cope with my impatience/worry about the impending submission process for Extraction, I’m working on a YA fantasy that’s Pirates of the Caribbean meets Shadow and Bone, with dragons. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by Stephanie, best writing wishes to you 🙂 I look forward to seeing your books in stores!

Whimsically Yours,


Interview with Teen Writer Amy Zhang

Hello Readers,

Today, as a part of Teens Can Write TOO! Week, I would like to introduce you to Amy Zhang, she’s an agented writer & a lit agent intern who’s 16!  She also has a great sense of humor 🙂

Update (5/27/14): Amy’s debut, Falling into Place, is out September 9th from Greenwillow/HarperCollins! You can preorder it here: IndieBound | B&N | Amazon


Hi! I’m Amy, sixteen, represented by Emily Keyes of the L. Perkins Agency Foreword Literary.

My YA fantasy on subs, WILDFLOWER, is about a girl who isn’t sure why she’s still alive, a boy who believes that love is a weakness, and the pointless annual Wars that bring them together. There’s some blood and some dying and some kissing and some backstabbing. I’m also revising a very different kind of fantasy, tentatively titled BENEATH DISQUIET STARS, about a girl who lost her name and was given a promise: that very soon she would lose her life as well, or her first love would lose his.

 How did you find a literary agent?

 I queried.

 Haha. Well, I queried and was rejected and had basically no idea what I was doing, at first. I queried about forty agents and got around seven requests, and then I stopped for a while to do revisions on my manuscript. The second time, I actually did my homework—I researched, I made a list of agents who I thought best fit my manuscript, and I personalized each query. I sent out nine queries, got four requests, and had an offer within a week.

 I actually saw the email with the offer during school, while I should have been doing research for a history project. Being the suave, collected person I was, I read the email and promptly fell out of my chair. And then, when everybody turned to look at me, I had to say that I’d found a particularly interesting piece of information on Haiti’s government.

 And I had, um, kind of neglected to tell my agent that I was technically a minor until she called. Which was….awkward. And I learned that on top of being suave and collected, I was also an excellent conversationalist.

 Agent: “So, do you mind if I ask how old you are?”

 Me: “Oh…um…hey, yeah, about that…I mean, I meant to mention it earlier…uh…erm…I’m like, kind of in high school? A little bit?


 When and why did you start writing?

 I started writing in eighth grade, when I moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to some teensy, cow-surrounded town in Wisconsin. The culture shock kind of killed my soul a little bit. There were only 7,000 people in the town (who had all known each other since the moment they’d left the womb), only one movie theater, and only one mall which was really too pitiful to be called a mall at all. Also, my transcripts had gotten messed up when I changed schools, so I ended up taking Algebra twice, an eighth-grade science class instead of Biology, and none of the honors classes I was supposed to take. So, I had a lot of time and nowhere to spend it.

 I was also in kind of a dark place at the time. I disliked my new friends because they weren’t my old ones, and I was angry with my parents for making us move. To Wisconsin, of all places (have I mentioned that I hate milk? Detest it. Not a bit fan of cows, either). I started writing because I was bored, kept writing because I needed to escape, and am still writing because somewhere along the way, I fell in love with the words.

 Have you had any challenges directly related to being a teen writer?

 Gosh, yes. I guess the biggest one is trying to find the time to write. I try to write at least ten hours a week, but the problem is that I’m fairly involved at school and in my community. It was manageable until this year. Frankly, I was too ambitious. I thought I could take all of my APs and maintain my grades keep my leadership positions in all of my clubs and be the editor-in-chief of our newspaper and the captain of our Forensics team and play sports and piano and violin and be a literary intern and study for SATs and ACTs and blog and kind of keep up my social life and still write. But to do that, I usually have to get up around 4:00 to get in two hours of writing before school. Unfortunately, I rarely get home from school before six, and usually get to bed around twelve.

 Yeah. So I have sleeping marathons on weekends and chug caffeine like there’s no tomorrow. Carpe diem, right?

 Another thing is that I try very, very hard to keep my writing life and um, the rest of my life separate. I can honestly count the number of people who know me personally and are also aware that I write on my fingers. Writing is something I love so much that I’m honestly terrified to talk about it with people I know.

 Why do you wish to be a traditional author?

 Honestly, I guess my main reason is that I don’t want to be marginalized by my age. I didn’t mention my age in any step of the querying process because I wanted to get signed for my work. I don’t want the fact that I’m sixteen to matter.

 How do you overcome “writer’s block”?

 Ha. I don’t.

 Sometimes I write music for my manuscripts, or draw maps, or illustrate scenes. I try to submerge myself in the world I’ve built in my head, and that usually gets me back on track. Or I just sit and twiddle my thumbs.

 What is your favorite childhood book and/or author?

 Charlotte’s Web, the first book that made me cry. The Magic Tree House Series, which first showed me that words could be teleporters and time machines and spells. Harry Potter, the first series I fell in love with. The Series of Unfortunate Events, which broke my heart. Anne of Green Gables, which mended it. The Little Princess, The Little House on the Prairie, The Secret Garden…and I could go on, but I just realized that the question asked for ONE book/author, and I totally just listed like, ten. Oops.

 Fun fact about yourself most people don’t know?

 English wasn’t my first language. I know, weird, right? I was born in China, and moved to America with my parents when I was three.

 If you could have breakfast with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what would you eat?

 I’d like to have breakfast with Alan Menken and Herman Ashman, the two guys that wrote music and lyrics for Disney. We’d eat chocolate-covered bacon and muffins.

 Imagine you are writing a memoir…what is its title?


 Coffee or Tea?

 It really depends on the day. I usually go with tea, but if I’m legitimately three seconds away from collapsing into an unconscious, drooling heap (and let’s face it, that’s about every other morning), then I’d probably get coffee, which seems to wake me up faster.

 Advice to teen writers who wish to be published?

 Never give up. A lot of people are going to tell you that you can’t. A lot of people are going to say “no.” But it only takes one yes.

 Thanks for stopping by Amy!  Best of luck in your writing endevours…Readers: keep an eye out for this teen writer on bestseller lists in the near future 🙂

You can connect with Amy on her Twitter: @EncoreUnReveur or on her blog: A Story of a Dreamer

Also writers be sure to enter your completed manuscript in these October Pitch Contests.  And everyone be sure to enter these book giveaways 🙂

Whimsically Yours,