Ch1Con Blog Tour: Interview with staff member Brett Jonas! (and giveaway!)

Hi all! We're breaking out the blog posts again for the Ch1Con blog tour! If you haven't heard of it before, Chapter One Young Writers Conference is an annual conference for teen writers, by teen writers. This year, the con will take place on Saturday, August 6th in St. Charles, Illinois, and registration is currently open on the Ch1Con website for writers from a middle school to undergraduate level (approximately ages eleven to twenty-three) and at an early bird discount price of $74.99. Between presentations and workshops, attendees will have the chance to participate in literary trivia games and giveaways, with prizes including professional critiques, signed books, and ARCs. There will also be a speaker panel open to any and all questions at the end of the conference followed by a book and swag signing by the speakers. During downtime, all participants are free to enjoy the writing retreat-style atmosphere of the area, relax in the beautiful hotel, and network with each other, establishing vital connections that can make careers and create lifelong friendships.

The full speaker lineup for this year--including NYT bestseller Susan Dennard!--is up on the website, but SPOILER ALERT--it includes me! I'll be running a workshop at the conference about character creation, and I really hope to see you there!

Until then, I have for you a great interview with the wonderful Brett Jonas, a staff member of Ch1Con and a previous attendee! First, Brett's bio, and then on to the interview and the giveaway!

Brett Jonas is a writer, reader, Christian, lover of chocolate, and over-user of smiley faces. After being homeschooled her whole life, she’s now taking classes at the local community college and working in her family’s business, Goat Milk Stuff, with her seven younger siblings. She's one of Chapter One Conference's Creative Consultants, which means she gets to help make decisions about the conference, and she gets to tell everyone she knows about the conference - which, if she's being honest, she would have done anyway. In the rare moments when she’s not writing, reading, or working, you can find her wasting time on Twitter as @BookSquirt, where she loves making friends, squealing about books, and telling everyone about "her" conference.

On the Ch1Con website, you’re listed as a “Creative Consultant.” Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with the conference, and what it is you do?

I got started with the conference by helping the conference team with everything I could last year. I was a paying participant, but I was also a friend to several of the team members, so I volunteered to help. They tossed me my shirt, told me to put it on, and put me to work. I loved every minute of it! I loved it so much that I told Julia, our awesome leader, that I wanted to help again in 2016. She responded by offering me a spot on the team. As one of our Creative Consultants, I do whatever Julia needs me to! So far that's involved attending the Ch1Con twitter and youtube chats, hosting a few virtual write-ins (where we open up a chat room and write and chat with participants at the same time), and offering input as the team makes decisions about the 2016 conference. It's been lots of fun!

Ch1Con is called a writing conference for teens, by teens. I started trying to get published when I was fifteen, so this is an amazing idea to me—I would have loved to attend this as a teenager. What kind of impact do you think Ch1Con has had on the teens who have attended?

As a teen who attended Ch1Con last year (before I was a member of the team), I can say that it had a huge impact on me. There was something incredible about being in the room where it happened, surrounded by other teens, all of us excited to learn and to meet other young writers. But in talking to several other conference attendees, including the 12 year old friend I brought with me, I realized that for many of them, the best part was how much it inspired them. My young friend told me as we were driving home that she loved listening to the speakers, and she loved making friends, but she was more excited than ever to get home and write. She was practically glowing when her grandparents came to pick her up, and she grinned at me when she said "I can't wait for next year!!" That's when I realized how much of a difference it had made for her, and that's when I knew I was now a part of something really special.

To you, what’s the best part about the conference? (If you can pick just one.)

Oh goodness. If I had to pick just ONE aspect, I would say getting the chance to meet my online friends in person. If I could pick a second one, I would say getting to see all of the young writers in the room - including myself - learn from our amazing speakers and network with each other. There was something so infectious about the energy in the room, and it really was amazing to see. (Sorry, I know that's like three things. I'm terrible at picking one thing. LOL)

What do you see in Ch1Con’s future? 

What do I see, or what would I love to see? Personally, I see Ch1Con probably growing a little bit each year, sticking around the Chicago area, providing young writers with a place to meet other young writers and learn. On the other hand, I would love to see us start doing Chapter One Conferences around the country, bringing our love for young writers to young writers all over the United States. We'll see what happens. :)

Last question: If you could have anyone—ANYONE—lead a writing workshop at Ch1Con, who would it be, and what would they do a workshop about? (I would love to attend a workshop on creating characters from J.K. Rowling.)

Wow. Um... probably worldbuilding from Brandon Sanderson. I'm a fantasy writer, so that would be extremely cool and helpful! (I spent two days thinking about this answer for the record. LOL)


Thank you so much for the interview, Brett! I'm so excited for Ch1Con, and I hope everyone who will be attending is, too. If you want to know more about the conference, here are links to their social media. 

Website: Chapter One Young Writers Conference
Twitter: @Ch1Con
YouTube: Chapter One Young Writers Conference
Facebook: Chapter One Young Writers Conference

And, as promised, here is the Rafflecopter for the giveaway! Don't forget to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway