Chapter One Young Writers Conference 2017

2017 ch1con blog tour banner.jpgHello readers! Today we’re participating in the Ch1Con 2017 Blog Tour, an annual tour in preparation for this year’s conference, which brings original content from the Chapter One Young Writers Conference team to a number of fantastic, writing-related blogs. You’re on one of those right now!

If you haven’t heard of it, the Chapter One Young Writers Conference (Ch1Con) is a writing conference entirely by and for young writers. The team is composed of a number of high school, college, and early-twenty-something writers, who work to create a unique, inclusive experience for young attendees. The conference, with its subset focus on the young adult novel, brings teens together to hear from accomplished speakers their own age, participate in professional workshops, and celebrate the influence young writers have on the world. With an atmosphere that combines the professional aspects of a conference with the awesomeness of hanging out with fellow teen book nerds, Ch1Con is a true can’t-miss experience!

The first Ch1Con took place in Chicago 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. So, eager to get others involved in the fun as well, the team took the conference public in 2014.

This year, Ch1Con is bigger and brighter than ever, with more opportunities, cooler giveaways, and a new roundup of fantastic speakers headlining the conference on Saturday, August 5th in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Registration is currently open on the Ch1Con website for writers ages eleven to twenty-three and at an early bird discounted price of $49.99. The speaker lineup is up on the website now, featuring Kody Keplinger, author of a bevy of YA hits including THE DUFF (now a major motion picture!), literary agent superstar Brent Taylor, more.

Between the awesome 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 an author panel open to any and all questions at the end of the conference, followed by a book and swag signing by participating speakers. During downtime, all participants are free to explore Chicago, relax at the conference’s beautiful partner hotel in the nearby suburb of Rosemont (where the annual Friday night pizza party will be hosted), and network with each other, establishing the sort of vital connections that can make careers and create lifelong friendships.

The 2017 conference will be held at a brand new venue, the SPACE by Doejo event center, with sessions running from 9:45 AM to 4:30 PM on Saturday the 5th of August. Tickets for transportation and room reservations can be purchased online with links on the conference’s Travel page. Early bird registration is currently open at this link with adult registration for those 18+ and youth registration (with parental/guardian consent) for those under 18.

So, if you’re a writer between the ages of eleven and twenty-three and you’re interested in this opportunity, register ASAP! With a growing number of young writers discovering the magic of this event, seats are sure to sell out fast, and the early bird price ends June 1st. For more information and to join the Ch1Con community online, check out these links:

Website: Chapter One Young Writers Conference

Twitter: @Ch1Con

Tumblr: Ch1Con

Pinterest: Ch1Con

Instagram: @Ch1Con

YouTube: Chapter One Young Writers Conference

Facebook: Chapter One Young Writers Conference

And, of course, you can follow the rest of the Ch1Con 2017 Blog Tour at:

The Chapter One Young Writers Conference. Every story needs a beginning. This is ours.

Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

at a book

Where I’ve Been…

It has been a rough 4 months for my family and I.  My mother had a mini stroke in December of 2016, and then she passed away after a massive stroke on April 5.  In between, I was working on and then publishing my first cozy mystery.  I was compelled to keep moving forward, even though I was being overwhelmed by the problems that surface when you are caring for an elderly parent.

Each time I made a trip to a hospital or doctor’s office to accompany my mother, I would bring all of my writing tools.  I had my iPhone in my purse to use for dictation, my HP mini to jot down ideas and outlines, and if I forgot these things, I would go to the nearest pharmacy and buy a pen and notebook.  It was crazy, and in retrospect, pointless.

Caring for someone who is terminally ill is exhausting, even if you won’t admit it to yourself.  Thanks in part to my Fitbit tracking online, I discovered I was only sleeping about 3 hours per day, and my blood pressure had soared.  Logging 3 hours of drive time per day to get to a stroke unit at a hospital in another state, along with caring for my children and farm had compromised my own health.

The trouble hasn’t ended there.  A poorly written Will from 32 years ago has caused an incredible amount of stress, as well as finding out my mother hadn’t paid any of her bills in four months, has sent my husband and me on an unwelcome rollercoaster ride.  We’re now wading through endless months of probate and dealing with relatives I haven’t heard from in over 20 years.  Such is life after death.

Where I’m Going…

I realized that I had 2 choices to make after my mother passed away – either lie down and give up because the stress is overwhelming, or I could decide to get back to writing to forget about my problems.

I’ve decided to get back to writing.

I have two novels that are almost completed (within 4 chapters), and a new cozy mystery that I’m outlining.  I’m excited to get back to enjoying the simple things, like a cup of coffee in the morning, reading my email, and then working on a chapter or two.

I’ve also decided to write a new Will.

I’m sure many people who are reading this are thinking, so what is the big deal about a Will?  When I die, my stuff will go to my relatives.  Not a problem.  I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. Dead wrong.

You HAVE TO write a will to make sure that your assets and book royalties/copyrights and website/domain ownership (yep, this is for indie authors too), go to the person or organization that you designate.  My parents wrote a will 32 years ago that included their parents.  Their parents died over 17 years ago.  Unfortunately, this meant that THEIR descendants were then entitled to property and money from my mother’s estate, not just my brother and I.  In my case, this includes two uncles, an aunt, and all of their tribe.  My lawyer told me that intent doesn’t matter; the written word does.  Lesson learned.

I hope that none of you reading this has the misfortune to go through what I recently did.  A lengthy illness of a loved one, followed by a legal nightmare isn’t something I would wish on my worst enemy.

I want to tell you, from my own experience, to do the following things after you read this post:

  1. Tell your family that you love them. You never know when something terrible may happen, and you may not get another chance to tell them how you feel.
  2. If you have elderly parents, talk with them about their estate, and persuade them if necessary to write a new Will. Have them write a Power of Attorney as well when they are writing their Will, naming someone to be in charge of their accounts and property in the event of their death.
  3. Have a DNR request in writing (Do Not Resuscitate).  This form states whether or not they wish to be resuscitated.  When someone can’t speak for themselves and you’re the next living relative, the hospital is going to go to you for a decision about their care.   If it is in writing, you won’t have to make a difficult decision later.  If you’re writing a DNR, do a Medical Power of Attorney as well – this gives someone else the power to make medical decisions for them in the event they are incapacitated – such as therapy and nursing home selection.
  4. Discuss and include, if necessary, the disposition of pets in a Will.  Who is going to care for Fluffy and Rover when you’re ill or dead?  Will the pets be turned over to an animal rescue or Humane Society, or will someone else take them in and care for them?  Money should be left in the Will for the care and feeding of any animals to anyone willing to take the animals in.
  5. Write your own Will. You can’t get out of this world alive, so accept the fact that someday someone is going to have to deal with your estate.  This is your chance to decide what will happen with your money and property, including your book rights.
  6. When you’re caring for someone ill, put everything else that isn’t important on hold, and accept help when it is offered. I tried to juggle a lot of responsibility because I thought I could handle it all.  I couldn’t and I almost had my own health crisis as a result.
  7. Rest when you can. If you have small children, you know all too well how difficult it is to get the rest you need.  The same is true when you’re caring for other loved ones.  If you don’t, you won’t be able to provide the best care to your loved ones.
  8. Be forgiving of yourself and other caregivers. You’ll probably make some mistakes, but getting upset won’t help you get through the tough times any easier.

These are just some of the lessons I have learned during the last few months.  There will be more roadblocks, of that I am sure.




Cat Cafe!

I had the pleasure to be invited last October to visit Nurri Kassikohvik – the cat care in Tallinn, Estonia. Not only I got to visit the cafe, I was also invited to give a talk on the subject of cat! Nurri Kassikohvik situates in a super handy city centre location in Tallinn in the heart […]

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Christmas Cats Review

The author sent me an ARC of this book (epub format) in exchange for an honest review. My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Plot (by Goodreads) Another adventure story from Inca the extraordinary Siberian kitty-cat. It is Christmas time, and Inca is ready to enjoy the holiday season with her Siamese sister Cara and […]

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Cat Fashion!

A couple of weeks ago I launched my new designer collection with Vida Voices. I was particularly impressed with Vida’s ethics including setting up a reading programme for their makers. For their ‘Voices Collection’ I chose four of my strongest female felines: Matilda, the intrepid explorer and pioneering aeronaut from Owl and Pussycat II; my beautiful […]

via ‘Wearable art – here we call it fashion’ — Katzenworld

Writing – Character Development

Every human being has secrets. Why we hide the truth (or lies) from others and sometimes ourselves is often the most interesting part behind a good secret, but understanding what makes up a secret can help an author write a character in a more genuine way. So what should we know about our characters’ secrets? […]

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Charity Mews – Bella Update

Hi everyone, Some of you may remember our story from last year about Bella the cat that managed to eat a whole kebab stick! We are pleased to be back with an update today to let everyone know that she is doing just fine and living happily ever after at her forever home with her […]

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List of Books on Writing in 2017

Welcome to the Distress Signals Blogging Bonanza! What’s that, you’re wondering? Well, you can either go and read this post or read the next sentence. In a nutshell: Distress Signals was out in paperback in the UK and Ireland on January 5 and hits the U.S.A. on February 2, and every day in between I’m […]

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Lucy’s Christmas Miracle (A Frank Rozzani Private Detective Short Story) by Don Massenzio — My train of thoughts on…

I bought this book (mobi format). My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot (by Goodreads) It’s the Christmas Season and a child is missing. Her parents are frantic. Join Private Detective Frank Rozzani and all of his friends as they search for her in the inclement weather of a cold winter night. It will take a miracle […]

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