Finding The Write Place: Volumes Book Cafe

 

Volumes Book Cafe

1474 N Milwaukee Ave

Chicago, IL 60622

Hours:

Mon-Sat 9:30AM – 10PM

Sun: 10AM – 8PM

(Hours subject to change. Check the cafe’s website for up-to-date info)

Noise level: Medium level of noise. People are talking in small groups and there are board games you can play, but there is no music playing in the background.

Availability of space: Good amount of tables present (about 5 low tables, 2 hi-top tables and a bar of seating). I went during lunchtime on a Saturday and had no problem finding seating.

Bathrooms: Yes.

Food: Yes, pastries.

Wifi: Free (password on each table).

Outlets: Yes, at the bar top along the wall.

I loved this cute cafe, but the thing I loved most by far was that it’s also a USED BOOKSHOP! The whole back section is a bookstore. They also have adorable bookish knickknacks for sale and a book subscription program! I definitely recommend this to any writer who likes to find new reads when they’re writing and doesn’t mind conversations happening around them. (I just wore headphones and I was perfectly fine!) I think this is my new favorite neighborhood cafe and bookstore in the Wicker Park area!

 

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This post is brought to you by Kat Cho at ChiYAwriters.com.

Inspiration Station: The Value of Artistic Detours

Inspiration Station is an occasional series on ChiYAwriters.com highlighting the people, places, and works of art that inspire us as writers.

I had a pleasantly chatty cab driver during a recent trip to the airport. He’s a painter who drives to pay the bills, and he told me about his artistic inspirations and growing interest in using metal as a canvas. I shared the premise of my latest novel and the characters who drive it.

“I used to write too,” he said. “I still think of poems every now and then. But at some point, I guess you have to choose.”

To some extent, he’s completely right: there are only so many hours in a day, after all, and gaining expertise in anything requires immense dedication, so you’d better choose your investment wisely.

And yet.

I went to a combined middle and high school focused on both academics and the arts. There, I was surrounded by people who, at age fourteen, were better painters than I will ever be. I personally focused on film photography, but my graduation requirements included classes in sculpture and painting. I also voluntarily participated in orchestra and—surprising me most of all—an intro-level drama class. At this school, even our “traditional” history and English classes often incorporated video, live sketches, or creative writing into assignments. Each of these art forms pushed me to think in nuanced ways about objects and perspective, color and sound, movement and light. Doing so improved my photographic eye at the time and, in the years since, has come to fundamentally shape my writing.

I only use my camera once or twice a year now, so I suppose I also chose one particular creative path. But I constantly draw on the lessons I learned through exploring other disciplines. They each changed my perspective and continue to reveal new worlds for my characters to explore. And why not? One of the first things we learn in crafting characters is to give them things—often multiple things—to be passionate about. This informs a character’s motivations but, more importantly, gives us the specific lens through which they see the world.

Writing may have been the path I committed myself to, but I know I can be more intentional about taking artistic detours. I may not have the hours to explore that I did in high school, but I can carve out a few minutes at a time to keep the road more interesting and my creative well more full.

As we reached O’Hare, my newfound artistic pal and I wished each other luck. He told me he planned to write a new poem, and I promised to take my camera out for a spin.

I hope, reader, that you’ll join us in embracing the scenic route.

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This post is brought to you by Anna Waggener at ChiYAwriters.com.

Chicago Writes: Local Writing & Book Conferences in 2018!

Since ChiYA is a Chicago based site, I thought I’d give you guys some local Writing Conferences and Book Festivals that are taking place in 2018:

The Book Cellar’s Annual Young Adult Book Festival

When: TBD, Generally takes place in April

What: A one day book festival centered around Young Adult fiction.

Where: Chicago, IL

Cost: FREE

The 2018 Writing Workshop of Chicago

When: June 23, 2018

What: Per the website

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (250 total).

Where: Chicago, IL

Cost: $169 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2018 WWOC and access to all workshops, all day. As of October 24, 2017, registration is now OPEN.
Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents in attendance.
Add $69 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from Brian Klems, one of the day’s instructors.
Add $79 — for an in-depth personal critique of the first 10 pages of your novel.

There is already a huge list of agents attending including, Moe Ferrara (BookEnds Literary), Kelly Van Sant (D4EO Literary), Gemma Cooper (The Bent Agency), Marcy Posner (Folio Literary), with more to come!

Chapter One Con

When: TBD, usually in late summer/August

What: An amazing conference for young writers!

per website

The Chapter One Young Writers Conference (or Ch1Con) is a writer’s conference entirely by and for teens and young adults.

Where: Rosemont, IL

Cost: Early Bird Admission ($49.99)

Regular Admission ($74.99)

Late Rate Admission ($99.99)

Anderson’s Bookshop Young Adult Literature Conference

When: TBD, usually around November

What: 2-day event meant as a conference to showcase young adult novels to booksellers, librarians, and fans. Saturday is the “adult day” which is when the booksellers, librarians and adult fans can attend for $120. Sunday is teen day which is free and only permits teen fans.

Where: Naperville, IL

Cost: $120 for adults on Saturday. Free for teens on Sunday

BONUS! Online Conferences!

Write On Con

When: February 9-11, 2018

What: Per the website

WriteOnCon is a three-day online children’s book conference for writers and illustrators of picture books, middle grade, young adult, and even new adult. It was founded in 2010 and is now run by a new team of writers who are eager to hearken back to the awesomeness that they remember so fondly from being attendees over the years, while also bringing exciting new elements to the mix.

WriteOnCon features blogs, vlogs, pitch sessions, Q&As, critique forums, and more — there’s something for every writer/illustrator, in every stage of their career. From the comfort of your home, a library, a coffee shop — any place with an internet connection — you can meet agents and editors, connect with potential critique partners, and generally soak up a whole bunch of knowledge!

Where: ONLINE!

Cost: $5

Manuscript Academy

When: TBD, though you can access all past classes right now for a fee of $225 (Or go a la carte for $49 per class)

What: Per the Website

The Manuscript Academy, LLC is brought to you by literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer, conference organizer and media professional Julie Kingsley, and Manuscript Wish List®.

We offer world-class publishing instruction that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home or your favorite coffeeshop. Unlike traditional conferences, you simply need a computer, a tablet, or even your smartphone to log in and enjoy the very best instruction from some of the top minds in the literary community. Every online Manuscript Academy conference will give you the full educational and networking value of a traditional writing conference, but without the hassle of travel, paying for meals out, or arranging childcare.

Where: ONLINE!

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This post is brought to you by Kat Cho at ChiYAwriters.com.

From A to Z: A Writer’s Guide to the New Year

From A to Z is an occasional series on ChiYAwriters.com that examines the nuts and bolts of the writing (and publishing) process.

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As we head into the last few weeks of 2017, I’m here with a quick activity to help put your writing year in perspective before we hurdle into a brand new one.

When I feel at a crossroads in my professional life, I use a similar process to think through my accomplishments and goals, and the guide can be adapted to reflect on anything else that’s important to you. The goal is to take some time to quiet any voices of self-doubt, acknowledge your accomplishments, and set the stage for what comes next.

1. Prepare your space.

Put on some relaxing music, pour yourself a cup of your favorite beverage, maybe even set out a small snack tray. Grab a notebook and your favorite pen. This should be a fun activity rather than a daunting one! And be sure you have at least 90 uninterrupted minutes: no need to feel frazzled for something so important.

2. Set a timer for seven minutes. Write down your “shoulds.”

“Don’t should yourself,” one mentor used to tell me. She meant that dwelling on the things I wished I’d done better or the things I wished I’d said wouldn’t help me undo the past—but would certainly make me feel worse. While the core of that message is true, sometimes it’s healthy to get out a little heartache so it doesn’t niggle at the back of your mind. So indulge for a few minutes by recording all of your “shoulds.” I should’ve read more books. I should’ve gotten up at six a.m. to write every day. I should’ve been published by now.

3. Now shake it off. Take a breath. Set your timer for 45 minutes and fill in this list:

  • Write down every writing project you started, even if you didn’t finish. Revisions count too. Take some time to fill out these bullets by describing what you enjoyed about these projects, what you learned, and what you think you did really well.
  • Write down every trip you took, and how it enriched your life. Maybe you had a fantastic vacation and learned about Italian history. Maybe you visited family, and they reminded you of little moments that truly matter. Or maybe you didn’t travel much this year, but you did have a fantastic summer day on the beach of your local lake. These are the moments that help make up our memories and that contribute to our writing.
  • Write down every book you read, and follow it with a note for any podcast, article, movie, or poem that has stuck with you, too. For me, reading is one of the first things to go when my schedule fills up, and then I beat myself up for reading so little—but an exercise like this helps me realize that I’ve actually consumed many perspectives over the year (and, often, that I’ve read more than I realized).
  • Write down anything else that contributed to your writing life. Note the queries you submitted, the research you completed, the conferences you attended, the contests you applied for. No matter the outcome, it takes courage to put yourself out there, and you deserve to recognize yourself for it.
  • Write down the communities you participated in and how. Writing can feel very isolating, but we often have more support systems than we realize. Take some time to remember your brunches with writing friends (shout out to the ChiYA community!), any manuscripts or query letters you helped a friend hone, and any online communities you’ve contributed to or felt supported by this year.
  • Write down any other accomplishments that come to mind. Once you get started, your writing mind often takes over: indulge it. If there’s anything else you feel proud of doing this year, take some time to note it. Maybe a project went well at work or you made the best pie of your life. If you’re remembering it now, it’s meaningful enough to make the list.

Your timer may have gone off by now. If you’re on a roll and have the time, turn it off and keep going. Just don’t let yourself stop before it rings.

4. Take some time to reflect.

Revel in the knowledge that you did a lot this year—probably far more than you realized before you started this session. Be kind to yourself as you consider all of the things you managed to fit into 365 days, in addition to feeding yourself and occasionally doing dishes. This is also a good time for a ritualistic trashing of your “should” list. After all, look at everything you actually did do! That means far more than your eccentric inner perfectionist.

5. Jot down 1-3 goals for 2018.

Make them achievable but ambitious. And make them while knowing that this time next year, they might be on your “should” list, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. And that certainly doesn’t mean you won’t achieve a hundred other amazing things.

6. Take some time for yourself.

Finish your beverage. Take a walk to clear your head, or do some gentle stretches, or write a letter to your future self if you’re into that sort of thing. Just don’t plunge right back into daily life: let your mind wander and let all the words on all those pages be enough.

The truth is, the writing road is long and filled with pitfalls. Every journey is different, and it’s so easy to gloss over the things we do every day to reach our goals when we only get the highlights from other people. I hope that regardless of how many goals you think you’ve accomplished or missed in 2017, this exercise will help you be kind to yourself as you reflect and set goals for the year ahead.

From all of us at ChiYA, may the rest of your December be restful, and may 2018 overflow with good news and grand adventures.

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This post is brought to you by Anna Waggener at ChiYAwriters.com.

Finding the Write Place: Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Finding the Write Place is an occasional series on ChiYAwriters.com that highlights some of our favorite places to write here in the Windy City.

Chicago Athletic Association Lobby

12 S Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60603
Open 24 hours, small bites menu & beverage service begins 11a.m. The Milk Room serves coffee and pastries beginning at 7a.m. that you can bring to your table.

(Hours subject to change. Check the hotel’s website for up-to-date info)

Noise level: Quiet in the morning, but fills up and gets noisier throughout the day and best for those who don’t mind activity around them or wearing headphones. Music generally unobtrusive and varies–seasonal, 80s, etc.

Availability of space: Wide variety of seating, again, more available during the morning hours. There is one library-style table with outlets that seats 10 as well as small round tables that seat 2 along the windows. Large chairs and sofas are grouped together throughout the lobby and seating by the three fireplaces is always popular. On a Sunday afternoon, three of us were able to find spots at the library table.

Bathrooms: Yes (but hard to find–ask the front desk or a member of the wait staff)

Food: Yes! There is a small bites and drinks menu. The hotel also has a number of places to eat–including a Shake Shack on the ground floor and the Game Room next door to the lobby that you can step away to.

Wifi: Free

Outlets: Yes at the long table and some along the walls by the small round deuce tables.

When you enter the hotel, head up the stairs on the right of the ground floor entrance and you’ll be transported to old Chicago as you arrive in the lobby of the hotel. I love writing at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. In fact, I wrote and revised a large chunk of my debut novel here. It’s perfect for folks who want to feel like they are writing in a Hogwarts common room or love a clubby feel amidst beautifully preserved gothic architecture. Also excellent for those who want to treat themselves to a cocktail after they hit the day’s word count.

Great for small groups or for solo writers . This is one of ChiYA’s favorite haunts. And the hotel holiday decoration game is on point (and excellent for selfies). They even serve glögg.

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This post is brought to you by Samira Ahmed at ChiYAwriters.com.

Ask ChiYA: How to Find a Writing Group

Ask ChiYA is an occasional series on ChiYAwriters.com in which we answer readers’ questions about the world of YA writing and publishing.

question markQuestion: 

Hi! I’m interested in writing a YA novel, but I’m a senior in college—there’s no writing group on campus, and I’m not friends with anybody who wants to write. Is there a writing group related to Chicago YA writers I could join? Thanks!

Answer:

Hi Reader!

Thanks so much for reaching out. ChiYA doesn’t have a writing group, but here are a few suggestions from our bloggers:

  • The NaNoWriMo forums are a great community, and I found them super helpful and supportive when I was starting out. There’s also a local chapter called ChiWriMo. It’s not specifically YA focused, but writers for all ages/genres participate in their chats, meetups, etc. They have a Facebook group, as well.
  • The 88 Cups of Tea Facebook group is very supportive, and I know some folks have found critique partners through that.
  • The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) offers lots of resources for new writers, including local critique groups and mentorship programs. There is a fee to join the organization, but there’s a student rate if you’re interested. Also, the “Blueboard” discussion forums are open to everyone, even if you’re not a member.
  • You might try starting a writing group on campus by reaching out to creative writing professors or posting a flier in the English department. There’s a good chance some other students at your college would also love to join a writing group.

Finally, a word of caution: as always, be careful when using forums or other online resources. If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable or requests to meet up in person (outside of a group-sanctioned event in a public place), contact the forum moderator immediately.

Best of luck!

The ChiYA Writers

P.S. If you know of any other good resources for new writers, please leave them in the comments below!

P.P.S. If you have any questions for ChiYA, please reach out via our contact form. We’d love to hear from you!

Chicago YA Writers
This post is brought to you by ChiYAwriters.com.