A Meet & Greet in Williamsport on September 29, 2018

You are invited to a Meet & Greet in downtown Williamsport on September 29, 2018, at the historic Otto Bookstore. SCBWI members and nonmembers are encouraged to attend. Attendees will learn about SCBWI resources available to support their craft and interact with authors and illustrators of children’s books.

Otto bookstore
Date: Saturday, September 29, 2018
Time: 3:00-4:45 p.m.
Location: Otto Bookstore
107 West Fourth Street
Williamsport, PA 17701
Contact: For more information, contact Aaron Barth at aaron.barth@gmail.com.

Visit the Otto Bookstore website at www.ottobookstore.com.


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A Fond Farewell from Kim Briggs


Dear Eastern PA SCBWI members,

Hi! This weekend EasternPennPoints announced that I’ve stepped down as Co-Regional Advisor of the Eastern PA chapter of SCBWI. Over the past four years, the chapter has grown significantly both in terms of active members as well as events. We went from hosting two large annual writer/illustrator events per year, plus one illustrator day, to multiple events per month. This growth is both exciting and exhausting. For each event, even the small ones, there are hours of planning and prep work, along with financial recording before and after for not only our chapter’s bookkeeping but also for SCBWI National. For those of you who love words as much as I do, working with the numbers was a bit of a drag.

That said, the events themselves were incredible, and our members are top-notch! More and more members are stepping up to help our chapter, and that is awesome. Member help is invaluable. As the chapter moves forward, they will be relying on your help even more.

I’ve made some amazing friends over the years, and that’s what Eastern PA SCBWI is all about—finding friends who nourish your creative side. Who understand why you listen to the voices in your head. Who get why you spend hours by yourself. Who laugh at your quirky literary humor about Quidditch matches, Gryffindors, and mockingbirds. Who will read your pages and offer feedback. Who will be the shoulder to cry on and your happy dance partner. Who feed you dark chocolate and cupcakes because those words don’t write themselves. (That last one might only be my friends, but that’s why they’re so special to me.)

The e-mails I’ve received from this past weekend’s post have been overwhelming. Thank you for all your kind words, your love, and your support. Please keep in touch: KimBriggs (@) KimBriggsWrite.com.

To Alison, Lindsay, Rona, Virginia, Heather, and Laura, best wishes!

Good luck to all of you, and remember…

Write on,


You can keep up to date with all of Kim’s activities on her website at http://www.kimbriggswrite.com and follow her on twitter.

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Hello, Goodbye – Changes in Your EPA Regional Team! by Lindsay Bandy

Hello School, Goodbye Summer! This time of year is all about beginnings and endings. The same is true here in Eastern PA, as we are shifting responsibilities a bit, welcoming new team members, and saying goodbye to others (though there are no real goodbyes around here – just See Ya Later!) Read on, and be sure to add warm welcomes and warm virtual hugs in the comments!



Goodbye, Kim Briggs!

kim-20-1That’s right, Kim is stepping down as co-RA after a glorious four-year run. She’s going to be spending more time on her writing (woohoo!) and we’ll continue to see her around and celebrate her successes. Thanks, Kim, for making our region such a fun and amazing place to write and illustrate!

Hello, Lindsay Bandy, co-RA!


I’ll be trying to fill Kim’s great big shoes as co-RA, partnering with Alison, and saying goodbye to my roles as blogmaster and ARA.

Hello, Laura Parnum, Blogmaster!

Laura P

You’re going to love the very talented and funny Laura Parnum – and if you’ve been around Eastern PA, you probably already do! She’ll be the new contact person for blog submissions – we’ll get all of the submission and contact info updated shortly. Stay tuned!

Hello, Rona Shirdan, Assistant Regional Advisor!


Rona’s going to be our new Assistant Regional Advisor! Hooray! We’re so excited to welcome her to our team!



We’d also like to say…

Hello, YOU!!


We’re always looking for volunteers at events and submissions to our blog. You don’t have to be published or agented. Just willing to get to know some awesome people and further your knowledge of the industry and better your craft. Win-win!

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Where Do You Get Your Ideas? Part 1, by Anthony D. Fredericks

Navigating clip_image002[2] (1)    Nonfiction

A monthly column by Anthony D. Fredericks

August 1One of the questions I hear quite frequently is, “Where do you get all your ideas?”  For nonfiction authors, this query is sometimes a stumbling block (“Haven’t all the good ideas been taken?”).  Yet, after nearly three decades of writing children’s books, I have discovered that some of the best ideas are often right in front of me. For example, as I write this sentence, it’s 7:16 in the morning and I already have four possible topics for children’s books recorded in my notebook:


The Idea Where it came from
The migration of Monarch butterflies from Mexico to the U.S. An illustration of a butterfly on my coffee cup.
Breakfasts around the world I had a fried egg for breakfast this morning.
The Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantula is the largest spider in the world. I saw a small spider scurry across my windowsill.
A year in the life of a tree (month by month diary) There is a dead tree just outside my office.

You, too, may discover that some of your finest ideas for children’s stories are, quite often, right in front of you.  Here are a few places you may want to explore:

The daily newspaper (print or on-line)

August 2Believe it or not, I find some of my most interesting topics for children’s books right in my local newspaper.  Everything from headlines, display ads, photographs, Letters to the Editor, and editorials offer a daily serving of potential topics that will often turn into book topics.  For example, in 2004 a tsunami (generated by an undersea earthquake) swept through the Indian Ocean.  The headlines in our local newspaper shouted the news for several weeks after this devastating event.  The attendant human misery gave me the inspiration I needed to write The Tsunami Quilt: Grandfather’s Story (https://amzn.to/2NqAtOs ) – a fictional account of an actual tsunami that struck Hawaii on April 1, 1946.  Shortly after it was released, The Tsunami Quilt was presented with The Storytelling World Award (2008) – a testament to the power of a local newspaper to inspire a book.

August 3

Yesterday I purchased a copy of one of the two local newspapers published in our town.  Here are some of the headlines, ads, and photographs that were featured, as well as some of the potential ideas I hatched for future children’s books:


Statement/Phrase Context Possible Book Idea
“Company unveils power line plan” Headline How power is generated (coal, nuclear, solar).
“Anna Mae, 98-Year-Old Yoga Master” Display ad for a senior residence facility Exercise book for kids and their grandparents
“Saving for what’s next is important” Display ad for a

local bank

How to save money
“Put more color into your life” Photograph of a child in a multi-colored jacket How visually-impaired children deal with the world
“Erector Set in original red box” Classified ad The toys used in ancient societies (Egyptians, Romans).



August4Pick up any magazine in your house.  Open to any page, and I’d be willing to bet that there is a new book idea somewhere on that page.  It might be part of an advertisement.  It might be a sentence or a phrase somewhere in an article.  It might be the caption for a photograph.  Or, it might be the name of the magazine itself.  Here are the names of some of the magazines my wife and I currently have on the family room coffee table and some potential children’s book ideas that might result from the titles alone.


Magazine Title Possible Book Idea
Time What is time?  How is it measured?  Where did those measurements come from?
Good Housekeeping A book entitled “How to Clean Up Your Room and Impress Your Parents”
Atlantic The similarities and differences between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Sierra Animals that live at extremely high elevations.
The Artist’s Magazine Vincent van Gogh, Picasso, and Dali as children.

We’ll explore additional places to discover nonfiction book ideas in the September blog.  Stay tuned!


clip_image012[2]Tony is an award-winning author of more than fifty children’s books, including the 2018 Outstanding Science Trade BookTall Tall Tree (https://amzn.to/2KDjDyg).  This blog post was excerpted and modified from Chapter 9 in Tony’s latest writing book: Writing Children’s Books: Everything You Need to Know from Story Creation to Getting Published (https://amzn.to/2tREKCa) which will be released on September 1, 2018.



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The Biggest Mistake You’ll Ever Make! by Anthony D. Fredericks

Navigating  clip_image002[2] (1)   Nonfiction

A monthly column by Anthony D. Fredericks

July1Every so often, a friend will hand me a children’s book manuscript and ask if I would look at it and offer an honest review.  I’m always delighted to do so.  But, over the years I’ve discovered that almost every one of those potential book projects suffers from a critical mistake.  To me, this is the most damaging slipup any children’s writer can make.  Indeed, I can review a manuscript for a mere six seconds and I will instantly know that the author has committed this blunder.  When I ask about it, she will often hang her head and sheepishly admit that, yes, she is guilty of breaking this rule.  And, what is that rule:

If you are going to be a successful children’s author

you MUST read children’s books on a regular basis.

July2Interestingly, many novice writers think that just because they’ve raised some children (and told  them stories at bedtime) or read a book or two to their grandchildren, that they are ready to write their own book for kids.  Unfortunately, just being around kids does not adequately prepare you for writing children’s books.  You need to soak yourself in the culture of children’s literature.  You need to know the language, the themes, the concepts, the tenor, and the presentation.  And, the ONLY way to do that is to read children’s books every day…every week…every month.  Without fail!


Reading current children’s literature – on a regular basis – has enormous benefits for you – particularly as a nonfiction author.  Here are just a few:

AIntroduces you to a wide range of authorial styles.

If you want to get a sense of what good writing is all about you need to sample many different kinds of writing – both fiction and nonfiction.  In so doing, you are getting a full picture of what writers can do with words, concepts, thoughts, and ideas.

B. Shows you language patterns that resonate with readers.

When you read the stories and books of other authors, you can get a real sense of the language appropriate for different age groups.  Knowing the language of kids is essential to writing books that resonate with kids.  This is an important piece of homework.

C. Gives you the opportunity to compare good stories with bad stories. In order to appreciate the good, you need to experience the bad.  In order to know what good books do you need to experience the bad ones.  The bad books give you a frame of reference necessary to your compositional efforts.

July3D. Allows you to see how different authors handle similar themes.

By exposing yourself to a wide variety of storytellers, you can get a sense of how various authors tackle universal themes.  How do they voice those themes?  What words or images do they include?  How are the sentences crafted or paragraphs shaped?  By studying the various ways of presenting a story, you are giving yourself an education available nowhere else.

“So, Tony, what should I read?” you may ask.  Good question!  Here’s my response: Everything you can.  Read old books and new books; books from big publishers and books from small publishers.  Read books at the top of the best-seller list and those at the bottom; read picture books and YA novels.  How do they differ?  What makes some books stand out from the competition and others sink to the bottom of the barrel?  How does one writer’s writing style propel a book into the hands of readers, while another’s make a book seem like radioactive waste?

“I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500.  …you need to read.  You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader.  It’s the great writers who teach us how to write.” – Madeleine L’Engle, children’s author

Here’s the absolute key to success as a children’s author:  If you want to write children’s books you have to read children’s books!  One without the other is like vacationing in Maui without going to the beach or a Manhattan without the maraschino cherry.  Read, and keep reading, lots of children’s books and you will notice a decided improvement in your own abilities to craft nonfiction stories…memorable stories…for a new generation of readers.


clip_image012[2]Tony is an award-winning author of more than fifty children’s books, including Mountain Night, Mountain Day (https://amzn.to/2y6scM2).  This blog post was excerpted from Chapter 4 in Tony’s latest book: Writing Children’s Books: Everything You Need to Know from Story Creation to Getting Published (https://amzn.to/2Jv48rm) which will be released on September 1, 2018.


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Special Meet & Greet at Children’s Book World on August 1, 2018, by Heather Stigall

On Wednesday, August 1st, SCBWI members and friends are invited to meet Heather Hebert at Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA. As store manager, Heather will be able to give us an inside look at what goes into running a successful independent children’s bookstore.

If you’ve never been to Children’s Book World, you’re in for a treat. Though modest in size, the store is brimming from floor to ceiling with our favorites—children’s books! But CBW is more than just a place to buy books. CBW offers special programs such as Book-of-the-Month Club, school summer reading fundraisers, book fair fundraisers, Book Talks, and author and illustrator visits. My children and I have been to several of these, and they are always a big hit!

For more information about CBW, visit their website at http://www.childrensbookworld.net. For further reading, the Philly Voice published an article featuring Children’s Book World in November 2015.You can view that here: https://www.phillyvoice.com/haverfords-childrens-book-world-endures-face-industry-changes/

Bring your enthusiasm, curiosity, questions, and wallets (I know I won’t be able to resist buying at least one book!).


Meet & Greet at Children’s Book World

When: Wednesday, August 1st at 10 AM

Where: 17 Haverford Station Road, Haverford

Note: Metered parking is available as well as free parking on side streets. Please DO NOT park behind the bookstore, as this lot is for patrons of the White Dog Café shopping center

RSVP to: Heather Stigall at HeatherStigallCM@aol.com


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Donate to SCBWI’s Books for Readers Book Drive!


You might have heard about the Books For Readers Book Drive through the SCBWI grapevine. And you probably have a few questions about what it is, when it is, and who can participate. So, check out the Q&A below, straight from Headquarters, and consider taking part in this wonderful outreach to readers!


A: SCBWI BOOKS FOR READERS is our worldwide book drive. Its mission is 3-fold:

  • To help increase book access for readers in desperate need of books by collecting and donating books that SCBWI members create
  • To help promote our authors, illustrators, and their books
  • To advance our mission as an organization of book creators and literacy advocates

The selection committee, comprised of SCBWI staff and members of the SCBWI Board of Advisors, will choose 2 organizations to receive the books.

Q: When can I start sending books for the book drive? How will it work? 

A. SCBWI BOOKS FOR READERS will accept books from June 1-July 9, 2018. You may donate PAL/traditionally published books you wrote or illustrated, or those of other members who did so. Members can send them to:

4727 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 301
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Attn:  SCBWI Books for Readers

Be sure to put the “Attn: SCBWI Books for Readers” line with the address. We receive many deliveries and we want to ensure yours gets included in the proper place. SCBWI HQ will accept, collect, store, curate, and distribute the books to the regional recipients prior to the celebration events to be held in October.

Depending upon the size and need of our recipients, SCBWI HQ will curate the number and type of books to be distributed and donate any surplus books to other nominated causes at its discretion.

Q: What types of books will be collected?

A: We will collect new fiction and non-fiction hard cover and paperback titles for children and teens (ages 0-17) including board books, early readers, picture books, chapter books, middle grade, YA, and graphic novels. Members may donate from 2-6 copies of any one title. The books must be new meaning published in the last 1-2 years.

Q: Can I donate self-published books to the book drive? 

A: Only books written or illustrated by PAL authors and illustrators can be donated.

For more Q & A about the Books for Readers Campaign, click on over to SCBWI’s main web site: https://www.scbwi.org/books-for-readers-faq/


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