A Cafe Chat with Agent and Novel Nuts & Bolts Leader Linda Camacho, by Lindsay Bandy


I’m so excited about our upcoming 3-part workshop, Novel Nuts & Bolts, with agent Linda Camacho! A few spots are still available, and you can register through May 20. Nuts & Bolts spans three months of intense work on your middle-grade or YA novel, starting Saturday June 9. Participants will meet at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Through Round Table format, writers will work on everything from preparing a pitch to polishing opening chapters. You can find more info and register here, but first stop by the Cafe with Linda to hear firsthand what she has in store for us.


Hi there, Linda, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our comfy booth, can we get you a drink? 

Yes, please! I’ll have a Coke 😉

And a little something to munch on? 

I’ve been in a doughnut mood, so I’ll go for that!

Is there a non-doughnut mood?? I think every mood deserves a good doughnut.

wangAs an agent, you work on everything from middle grade to adult. Can you tell us about a few books (client or not) that you recently enjoyed? 

That’s a tough one, since there are so many fantastic books. Right now, I’m reading Jen Wang’s fantastic The Prince and the Dressmaker (a non-client book), a graphic novel that’s been described as a prince story that meets Kinky Boots. The love story! The fashion!

correcting-1870721_1920.jpgParticipants of Novel Nuts and Bolts are looking forward to having your expert eye and feedback on our early pages, queries, and pitches this summer. We all want a submission package that leaves agents, editors, and readers asking for more – so what kinds of things tend to stop you in your tracks while reading first pages, or raise red flags in a query? 

In the query, it’s best not to slam the genre in which you’re writing, essentially saying, “All YA is bad and terrible, but mine is the best ever!” Don’t do that. Oh, and don’t address me as Mrs. GalltZacker, which has happened, lol.

Good to know, Mrs. Gal–I mean, Ms. Camacho!

feedback-2044701_1920.pngThe cool thing about this workshop is that we have not one, but three meetings. This will give us time to identify those red flags, then receive further feedback on our progress. Will writers also have the chance to receive feedback from one another during the round-tables? 

Oh, definitely. It’ll be run like an MFA workshop, where each provides feedback as well.

How would you describe your agenting style? 

I take on clients whose work I feel very invested in, so I’m very editorial and collaborative throughout the process.

What excites you most about Novel Nuts and Bolts? 

I love getting to meet with new writers and helping them along their journey to publication!

We’re excited, too! See you for our first meeting on June 9!

Just click here for the schedule, and to register!

Linda Camacho was always a fan of escaping into a good book, so the fact that she gets to make it her career is still surreal. She graduated from Cornell with a B.S. in Communication and has seen many sides of the industry. She’s held various positions at Penguin Random House, Dorchester, Simon and Schuster, and Writers House literary agency until she ventured into agenting at Prospect. She’s done everything from foreign rights to editorial to marketing to operations, so it was amazing to see how all the departments worked together to bring books to life. Somewhere in between all that (and little sleep), Linda received her MFA in creative writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Now at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency, Linda continues to work with colleagues and clients who inspire her every day in both the children’s and adult categories.
Linda is especially interested in working on middle-grade and YA novels during this workshop.


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Navigating Nonfiction: Interesting Comparisons, by Anthony D. Fredericks

Navigating  clip_image002[2] (1)   Nonfiction

 A monthly column by Anthony D. Fredericks


Children’s books often present information that is outside the realm of their comprehension.  Often, that information is not a normal part of childrens’ background knowledge (about a particular topic).  For example, as adults, we understand the concept of a “million.”  We’ve dealt with that number many times in our lives, we know what it means when someone says that so-and-so is a millionaire, and we have seen that word or number in print in the tonymay2newspapers and magazines we read.

For young children, however, the word “million” doesn’t hold much meaning because it’s not a word that comes up frequently in their math lessons, nor is it a word that surfaces in most of the books they read.  If “million” is to be used effectively in a book, youngsters have to have something against which it can be compared.  In other words, they have to balance the new word with something with which they are already familiar.  David Schwartz did a marvelous job of this in his book How Much Is a Million? (1985).  He used a number of comparisons in order to give readers some insight into what the words million, billion, and trillion mean.  He did this by outlining how long it would count to each one by saying each number completely and going nonstop.  To count to a million would take 23 days, to a billion would take 95 years, and to count to a trillion would take more than 200,000 years.  WOW!

tonymay3When I wrote A is for Anaconda: A Rainforest Alphabet (https://amzn.to/2HJw7yB) I wanted to give readers a sense of how large certain animals were.  Certain numbers don’t convey much information if youngsters can’t understand how those numbers relate to something with which they are more familiar – something in their background of experiences.  So, I decided to use some familiar comparisons to help readers understand the size of these creatures.

The longest recorded anaconda was 28 feet (8.5 m) long.  That’s longer than a car! (p. 1)

 The largest tarantula in the world is the goliath bird-eating spider of South America.  This rainforest spider weighs up to four ounces (113 gm) and has an 11-inch (28 cm) leg span – about the size of a dinner plate. (p. 26)

tonymay4In drafting my book Weird Walkers (1996) I wanted readers to discover some of the most unusual walkers on the planet.  These included a fish that walks out of the water, a lizard that walks on the surface of water, and even a tree that “walks” through the water.  But, in order to make these biological specimens meaningful for children, I sought to compare how these forms of locomotion were similar to, or different from, the ways in which children typically walk (or locomote).

In describing millipedes, I drew some comparisons between the legs of these critters and the legs of children.

How would you walk if you had eight legs?  How about 80 legs?  How about 200 legs?  How would you coordinate all those legs so that you would be able to move forward and not trip over a dozen or more of your own legs? (p. 8)

Comparisons gives readers a frame of reference – an opportunity to learn about something new by matching it with something familiar.  By including those comparisons in your nonfiction books you help readers process a subject in greater detail and with a heightened sense of comprehension.

clip_image012[2]Anthony D. Fredericks (www.anthonydfredericks.com) is a former professor of education at York College (now retired) and an award-winning and best-selling children’s author of more than 50 titles.  His late

st writing instruction book – Writing Children’s Books: Everything You Need to Know from Story Creation to Getting Published (https://amzn.to/2GOr0AF) – will be released in June.




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A Special Thank You to the Highlights Foundation, by Kim Briggs

In 2014, I received a scholarship to attend the Eastern PA SCBWI Pocono Retreat. I’d been a member of SCBWI for two years, but I’d never attended a chapter event. At the time, the chapter ran two writer focused events a year, and they were pretty pricey—at least for a stay-at-home-mother of three. I couldn’t believe my luck when I landed the scholarship to attend the retreat. To add icing to a pretty delicious cupcake, it was the first year the event would be held at the Highlights Foundation–a place I was already familiar with after attending a Highlights Foundation Workshop the year prior—also on scholarship. You see, the Highlights Foundation believes in supporting writers and illustrators. They support us by providing a comfortable bed, delicious food served by the most lovely people you’ll ever met, along with creative working spaces throughout the property. I should also mention the trails, the cabins, the lodge, along with the gorgeous views, and there’s that man in overalls, who pops in to say, “Hello,” during mealtimes—the unassuming but beloved Kent Brown, the mastermind behind the Highlights Foundation workshops.

Fast forward to 2018, we’re still holding the Eastern PA SCBWI Pocono Retreat at the Highlights Foundation. Now, I’m a Co-Regional Advisor, along with Alison Green Myers. The Art Coop’s been added, along with the Granary, and the Art Wall. There’s also George Brown and Dan Drake, who have come on board. Our Highlights Foundation point person, Jo Lloyd, along with our beloved Amanda and Martha, have been with us from the beginning.

The Highlights Foundation takes care of our physical needs so we can focus on nourishing our creative souls. Thank you Amanda, Jo, Dan, George, Martha, Kent, and Alison, she’s a part of it too. You feed our bodies, so we can feed our minds.

Write on,

Kim Briggs, Co-RA of Eastern PA SCBWI



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A Book Birthday Cafe Chat with Abbey Lee Nash, by Lindsay Bandy


Today is a busy day for Abbey Nash, but she’s taken a few minutes out of her BOOK BIRTHDAY (!) to chat with US at the Cafe! LIFELINE is Abbey’s first novel, and it’s been creating lots of buzz….it received a stellar review from Kirkus and was just listed as one of B&N’s most anticipated YA books for May! Check out the trailer right here. And mark your calendars for November 3, because Abbey will also be joining us as a faculty member for an upcoming event in Lancaster PA. More to come on that…the door is jingling and Abbey is here!


Hi there, Abbey, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our comfy booth, what would you like to drink?

Hi, Lindsay! Thanks so much for having me! My latest fav is peach citrus white tea—iced, please.

And a munchie?

Anything with peanut butter.

lifelineFirst of all, Happy Book Birthday! How does it feel to have LIFELINE hitting shelves today?

I’m giddy with excitement–completely over the moon! My journey to publication has been a long road, beginning in 2008, when I decided to go back to school to earn my Masters in English at Arcadia University. The last ten years have been an emotional roller coaster, full of incredible highs and the kind of lows all writers can relate to—rejection, disappointment, and self-doubt. To finally have a novel reach fruition in this way is an absolute dream come true.

Can you tell us a little bit about what drew you in to writing Eli’s story?

pill-3184911_1920Like many families, my family has been touched by opioid addiction. My younger brother has struggled with addiction for a very long time. Similar to Eli, my brother and I grew up in middle-class suburban areas; both of our parents are educators with master’s degrees. But addiction doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. In writing Eli’s story, it felt important to create a character who seemingly had everything going for him—athletic prowess, popularity, and a loving, supportive family—and yet still suffered from the disease of addiction. It’s my hope that LIFELINE can help to reduce the stigma that often surrounds addiction by starting conversations that will hopefully lead to increased awareness and prevention.


Equally important to me, however, was the idea that the novel would offer a sense of hope for the possibility of recovery. When I started writing LIFELINE, I knew that while the subject matter was dark and intense, the central message of the book would be about the light that comes through the broken places and the things that we hold onto when we think there’s nothing left: faith, love, and hope.

Ultimately, the novel became a prayer for my brother and the millions of other people for whom sobriety is a daily struggle.

It’s clear that you’re passionate about the issues of addiction and recovery, and you frequently post about them on your blog. The link between art and healing comes up in the book, as well as through the stories you feature on the blog. Did a particular real-life story or example stand out to you while you were doing your research?

writing-923882_1920.jpgOver the last few months, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing several artists who have found healing through their artistic practices: painters, writers, actors, and musicians who are creating a sense of hope and possibility within their broader communities. For me, the process of writing and the steady reliability of the rituals surrounding it (the lit candle, the hot coffee, the cozy blanket), has always been something I can hold onto during challenging times. Writing LIFELINE pulled me through the worst parts of my brother’s addiction. Specifically, it allowed me to draft an ending I could find peace in, regardless of my brother’s outcome. While he is currently in the early stages of recovery, writing continues to be a “lifeline” for me as I navigate other challenges that arise in my day-to-day life.

How did you get connected with Tiny Fox Press?

When I decided to pursue an independent publisher for LIFELINE, I began searching in the usual places—Publishers Marketplace, Manuscript Wish List, Twitter, etc… When I found Tiny Fox Press online, I was impressed by their commitment to author comfort and satisfaction throughout the contract negotiation and publishing process. Since then, I’ve developed such gratitude for my editor’s consistent availability, invaluable editorial insights, and willingness to put time and money into marketing. Working with Tiny Fox Press has been an absolute blessing.

How have you been prepping for your book release?

lifeline swagI’ve been fortunate enough to work with a publicist at JKS Communications, who has done an incredible job of coordinating interviews, book reviews, and events. I’ve also run a few pre-order promotions to give readers an opportunity to pick up some LIFELINE “swag” as a thank you for their purchase. The official book trailer for the novel has been running on Facebook and Twitter over the last month. Finally, we’ll be celebrating the launch at Doylestown Bookshop on Friday, May 18th at 6:30. All are welcome, so come on by!

Now that LIFELINE is released, do you plan to do school visits, and/or connect with young people dealing with addiction?

I am so excited about the possibility of school and library visits—as a Writing and Literature instructor, I love hearing from young people about the ways they connect to a story. Over the next few months, I have several events scheduled at local rehab facilities and recovery celebrations, where I’ll be speaking about the book and about my experience with family addiction. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my story in this way. Anyone interested in connecting with me about a school visit or speaking engagement can do so on my website. You can also subscribe to my newsletter to find out about upcoming community events where I’ll be speaking and/or signing books.

As the mom of pre-teens, what do you hope your kids absorb from this book when they’re old enough to read it?

Wow—great question. Of course, I hope and pray that my children never struggle with addiction. However, one of the most important messages of the book is the idea that everyone has broken places; everyone experiences pain and suffering. But it’s what you do with that pain that matters. Often the light that comes through the broken places brings with it incredible beauty and unimaginable blessings. I want my kids to know that life isn’t about being perfect—it’s about owning our imperfections and showing up anyway, with a willingness to choose love and hope in all things.

Okay, Abbey, get ready for Flash Favorites! Deep breath. Focus. Tell us your favorite…..

Song (as of right now, today!) Gah—the pressure! If I had to choose one it’d be “Good Old Days” by Macklemore, but it changes (sometimes daily!)

elementsBook on writing The Elements of Style is an absolute must-have for aspiring writers.

Holiday Christmas! I still get so excited on Christmas morning that I wake up when it’s dark (sometimes even before my kids)!

Type of shoe At the moment, I’m pretty partial to ankle boots, but my running shoes are also a necessity.

peanut-butter-3216263_1920.jpgMidnight snack Banana with peanut butter and ice-cold milk—seriously, peanut butter is my LIFE.

Place to write On my couch, underneath a quilt my grandmother made, in the early morning when everybody else (even my dog) is sound asleep

One-liner of writing advice Don’t write for the “current market”—write YOUR story, the story you need to tell, because chances are it’s exactly what someone else needs to read.

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Abbey! We wish you all the best with LIFELINE, and we look forward to celebrating even more with you in the future!

Visit Abbey’s web site and blog

Like her on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter @nash_abbey



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What’s the FORCE Behind Your Work? Part 3, by Team EPA SCBWI

One with the Force
by Kim Briggs
Co-Regional Advisor

“I’m one with the Force. The Force is with me,” Chirrut Imwe chants repeatedly while he and Baze Malbus protect Jin and Cassian from enemy forces at the remains of the Temple of the Kyber located in the Holy City of Jedha. During the initial battle scene, Chirrut Imwe is grossly outnumbered, but that doesn’t stop him from kicking some serious Dark Side ass. Now add to the equation the fact that he’s blind. BLIND.

As creatives, we struggle with Imposter Syndrome. We doubt our work. We regularly participate in bouts of self-loathing especially in our ability to put words on the page or paint on the paper. We procrastinate with binge watching sessions of Star Wars, Gilmore Girls, and Stranger Things. We fail to put our creative work ahead of laundry piles and dirty dishes. We neglect to use the Force around us for the advancement of our creative pursuits.

Chirrut Imwe’s firm belief in himself and the Force ensures that his blindness is not a weakness, and it is not an obstacle. His blindness allows him to open his senses to the world around him and use the Force and his belief in it to thrive in any circumstance. Obstacles are opportunities. Imposter Syndrome is an obstacle we must overcome. So my friends, I ask you, “Are you one with the Force, and is the Force with you?”

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What’s the FORCE Behind Your Work? Part 2, by Team EPA SCBWI

It’s May, it’s Tuesday, the Pocono Retreat is only 3 days away! So let’s keep the ball rolling with our opening night previews. We can’t wait to hear about the FORCE that drives your work on Friday night!

2016 headshot
by Alison Green Myers
Co-Regional Advisor



Force of Habit. Duh, right?
Get my butt in a chair… 
Sit there until words bleed out and onto the page. 

Seems simple enough.
The butt, the bleeding.
The time ticking.
Maybe it is just me, but creating this habit is anything but simple. I had to call on some pretty powerful forces to help create this habit. First would be my writing partner Kim (Kim Force?) Without our daily appointments to write, without her texting “GO”, I would let other parts of my life take over my writing time. But Kim won’t let that happen. Not on her watch! We make appointments and stick to them,
even in the face of sick kids,
work deadlines,
or even Project Runway finales, we write.

Along with the powerful motivator of appointments and “GO”, Kim and I also talk about books… A LOT. We are both compulsive readers. It helps to talk out plots, share new authors, and celebrate story with Kim Force. Reading keeps me going, keeps the fire lit inside me to create. Talk about Force.


I had this friend in college, Gale. She was one of the smartest, most tenacious people that I had ever met. And, as we do in college, she had a nickname: Gale Force. It was so fitting, much like Hairy Mike or Tall Mark. The name stuck because Gale was a force of nature.

She was powerful in a way that energized those around her and I was lucky enough to get swept up in her winds. Forces of nature are like that, aren’t they? Bold. Quick. Sweeping. In my work I have to be bold and get swept up in story. I channel Gale’s force when I sit at my computer or journal. I want to be fearless and write without doubt. It isn’t easy to hush that voice inside, but when the FORCE is mighty enough, I silence my inner critic and keep going… keep going… keep going.


There’s a great line in THE FORCE AWAKENS: “As long as there’s light, we’ve got a chance.” This quote encompasses the WILL of my work.

A few years back at Pocono we were asked to write down our belief statements as writers or illustrators. In bold letters at the top of my journal I wrote:
I believe there is good in the world. 
I believe in strong women. 
I believe in finding the light.
I believe our bodies are vessels, what we do with them matters more than their sizes. These vessels are meant to create change and face fears. 

Fast forward to this year, I could just as easily say the FORCE of WILL in my work is to create strong female characters and find light in the dark side. This is THE FORCE at work.

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What’s the FORCE Behind Your Work? Part 1, by Team EPA SCBWI


As we started planning this year’s Pocono Mountain Retreat, the opening date– May 4th resonated with us. For those who don’t know Yoda or Luke or Leia or Obi-Wan, the date may not appear as serendipitous. For those who do know STAR WARS, you know May 4th has a special meaning.

STAR WARS fans chose to celebrate “May the Force be with you” as “May the Fourth be with you.” (And who here doesn’t love a clever play-on-words?)

Now we are just a few days away from our own May the Fourth Be With You celebration. We will gather in the woods May 4th, 5th, and 6th to talk about craft and the effort, strength, and yes the FORCE it takes to write and illustrate.

So, the “fourth” didn’t seem like the best fit for our gathering, but FORCE sure did. Isn’t FORCE what energizes us? Isn’t FORCE the powerful current that pushes us forward and pulls us to gather as writers and illustrators?

We want the FORCE to be with you at the 2018 Pocono Retreat and always.
We know the FORCE is mighty in each of you.
We hope you’ll share with us the FORCE that brings you to writing or illustration, or even to this year’s event.

By way of an introduction on Friday, May 4th, please tell us briefly (500 words or less) about your FORCE. Over the next few days, you will read examples from our Regional Team. Go forth and read. Then summon the FORCE to draft your own statements. We can’t wait to hear them at our 2018 Pocono Retreat!

31369500_10155904492825379_7723295938739264232_n(2)Getting to That True Place

by Lindsay Bandy, ARA and Regional Blog-master

So, full disclosure, I’m not much of a Star Wars girl (your puns will go over my head next weekend, but I’ll smile and nod!). However, I definitely feel an invisible, powerful FORCE behind my writing! Not writing has never been an option for me, ever since my angsty tween years, filling a diary with musings on how to make Jonathan Taylor Thomas fall madly in love with me. My writing has (hopefully) improved and (definitely) changed since then, but the force is the same – a deep need to express my emotions, bare my secrets, and untangle my struggles and inner conflicts. It takes a whole lot of writing to get to a point of honesty with yourself (okay, okay, JTT is out of my league), and then a whole lot of courageous re-writing to put that honesty out there for the world to see. It takes FORCE!

Though I’m not a collector of Star Wars memorabilia, I am a collector of quotes. So I’ll be a pioneer and put Hemingway and Obe-Wan Kenobi in the same paragraph! Hemingway first, because, obviously: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” I imagine Hemingway, gruff and half-drunk, leaning over my shoulder and telling me to hit backspace and try again. So I do. And then, a very sober and wise Obe-Wan is on my other shoulder, and this is what he tells me: “You’ll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” So I hit backspace and try again. And again. And again. Because I need to get to that true place. Into my own head and then out of it, into my own heart and then into someone else’s.


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