Imagine That! by Anthony D. Fredericks

Write Angles LogoA Monthly Column by Anthony D. Fredericks

Imagine That!

Last December, our son, his wife, and their 17-month-old daughter (Amelia) journeyed from Colorado to visit us for about a week. Since they were limited in regards to the number of toys they could bring along, we decided to create some playthings that would keep Amelia engaged while she was with us.

IMG_0265[2]We had just purchased a storage cabinet, which arrived in a large cardboard box. As we looked at the box, we both came to the same conclusion: “Let’s transform the box into a house.” So, with utility knife in hand, we cut out a small “door” on one side and a “window” in each of the two ends. We didn’t decorate it or add any frills to this cardboard dwelling.

The box became Amelia’s constant plaything the entire week she was with us. Dolls went in and out on a regular basis. A large stuffed Santa sat on the roof and “guarded” the house from all manner of nefarious creatures. Pop-Pop (me) stuck his head in the windows and through the open door, playing an endless series of “Peek-a-Boo” and other games.

We provided Amelia with a box of crayons and she “decorated” the house as only the imagination of a 17-month-old can do. There were scribbles along one wall, lines and circles over the roof, and an apparently incoherent (to adults) series of marks, doodles, and figures that adorned the interior walls.

IMG_2076[4]During the entire visit, the cardboard house was a constant source of pleasure for Amelia. She never tired of the imaginative activities invented on the spot. She was able to crawl in and out of the house at will, becoming a character just like the stuffed bunnies and several cat toys that occasionally took up residence in and out of her cardboard creation. It was also a great place to take a nap!

She had simply created her own environment—a private universe inhabited by inanimate objects that took on imaginary personalities, did impossible tasks, and moved in creative ways. The fact that her grandfather was a coconspirator in these escapades only served to heighten the fun. In her mind, it was the best toy ever created. She never stopped giggling. She never stopped playing.™

thinking emojiSo, how’s your imagination?

It’s an interesting question—one I frequently ask myself as I’m in the middle of a new project or deep into the revision of a contracted book. Am I thinking like an adult (logical, pragmatic, rational), or have I allowed my imagination to take a flight of fancy or side trip down an imaginary route? Although my specialty is nonfiction, I am also aware that good nonfiction is also good storytelling. Have I built my facts around a compelling storyline, or have I succumbed to a dry encyclopedic entry that’s scientifically accurate but devoid of human interest? Am I telling or am I showing?

clip_image002[2]When I wrote Tall Tall Tree, a picture book about the majestic redwood trees of northern California, I wanted readers to become engaged in a story rather than be passive observers to a parade of lifeless facts. So, I wrapped up the information in a playful rhyme, a mathematical journey, and a game of “I Spy.” As one reviewer observed, “Its lyrical quality is engaging, its language rich with vivid vocabulary.” In short, it became just what I had hoped: an imaginative investigation of an intriguing ecosystem.

When it looks as though my literary ventures are stalled or becoming mired in linguistic “goo,” I go back to the basics—I watch kids. I observe them in the mall or at a local playground; I watch them at play at the shore or along a forest trail; or I volunteer at the local library so I can read stories and talk with them about their own imaginary adventures and make-believe worlds. This constant contact with kids ensures I don’t become “too adult” or “too grown-up” in my writing. It helps me preserve an imaginative outlook on the world and it stimulates me to move out of a mental comfort zone that often compresses my thinking and inhibits my creativity.

kids playingWatch kids at play and, no matter whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you will discover new approaches to your writing and new pathways to explore in your scenes, dialogue, plots, and points of view. Your writing will become authentic and imaginative simply because its foundation is built on the thinking of kids, rather than the logic of adults.

Okay, who’s ready for a game of “Peek-a-Boo?”


Writing Children's books cover


Tony is an award-winning writer of more than 50 children’s books, including the 2018 CBC/NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Tall Tall Tree ( He is also the author of the e-book Writing Children’s Books: 701 Creative Prompts for Stories Kids Will Love ( [“Wow! There are story ideas here for every genre and writing style.” —Amazon 5-star review]

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A Cafe Chat with YA Author Jamie Beth Cohen, by Lindsay Bandy

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We’re back at the Cafe, chatting with YA Author and Fall Philly faculty member Jamie Beth Cohen! Jamie’s going to be sitting on our Diversity Panel and leading a fantastic breakout session on November 2, so if you haven’t registered yet, please do!


Hi there, Jamie, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle in, what will you have to drink?

Decaf, almond, no whip Mocha … I’ve been dairy-free since 2012 and I’m super-sensitive to caffeine, so even decaf gives me a little buzz, but I am a BIG fan of chocolate.



And how about something to eat? 

The dairy-free thing eliminates most baked goods from my diet (sad face) so, I guess a fruit cup? Unless there are French fries around here, because French fries are my favorite food.

French fries, coming right up!


Wasted PrettyFirst off, congrats on the success of your debut YA novel, WASTED PRETTY! We’ve been following each other’s publishing journeys for several years, and I’m so excited for you. What has surprised you most about being a debut author?

Thanks so much, Lindsay! I’m excited for you, too! This is going to sound like a downer, but I don’t mean it that way. The most surprising thing about my debut year is that regular life doesn’t stop for your book release. Like many debut authors, I have a day-job and a family and interests and commitments outside of writing. When I was a second-grader, dreaming of being a published novelist, I didn’t factor in things like the need for health insurance and how little money most people make writing. But really, I don’t mean this as a downer, more as a cautionary tale. I’ve had to work to make my debut year feel special because I was also juggling so many other things. But it has felt special! It just took A LOT of logistical planning to carve out some celebratory time.

Can you tell us how you found your publisher, Black Rose Writing?

I was in the query trenches trying to find an agent with WASTED PRETTY in 2015 and again in 2017. I also did #pitchwars twice with this manuscript. As I got closer to that magic number of 100 rejections, I started to research small presses that were open to direct submissions. Two of my writer-friends had published with Black Rose Writing and they were having good experiences, so I subbed to BRW. Having writer friends is so important for so many reason, but especially in this case, because I don’t think I would have felt comfortable going with a small press if I didn’t know someone personally who had pubbed with them. Thanks to my friends who were with Black Rose Writing, I knew exactly what I was getting into, which is really important because going with a small press has pros and cons.

In addition to YA fiction, you’ve published many nonfiction articles and poems, including impressive bylines in Teen Vogue and The Washington Post. Across genres, what drives your writing?

teen vogueI tend to write about difficult things, the kind of things people would prefer I didn’t talk about at dinner parties. For example, WASTED PRETTY is a sex-positive book that also deals with sexual assault, and my published essays cover feminism, parenting in the current political and ecological climate, end-of-life issues, and antisemitism. No matter what I’m writing, I’m looking to unpack things that have happened to me in hopes of helping other people who have experienced similar things and may feel alone. I’m always striving for emotional authenticity and connection with the reader.

At Fall Philly, you’re going to be presenting on reaching reluctant teen readers. Can you give us a little teaser of what to expect from your breakout session?

Well, I was a reluctant reader, so I’m going to touch on my personal journey from reluctant reader to published author, but we’ll also do some writing exercises, and talk about why some teens are reluctant readers and why it’s still important to write for them.


You’re also going to be participating on our panel about writing inclusively, accurately, and sensitively. What’s one question or misconception you’d love to address on the panel?

I’d like to address the issue of push-back against the #ownvoices movement. I’ve heard a lot of writers (and other artists) say, “If I can only write from my own perspective, I’ll eventually run out of stories to tell,” and while I understand that concern, I think it’s really important to remember that publishing is a business. So while a white writer might want to write a story that centers on a Black character — with nothing but positive intent — the reality is, statistically it’s going to be easier for that white writer to get published than it would be for a Black writer telling the same story. When viewed through the lens of the business, it becomes more clear that if what you’re intending to do is lift up the stories of Black people, but you’re doing it at the expense of a Black writer being able to sell their own story, are you actually working against your own aim? In the on-line non-fiction circles I’m in, the question often comes up, “Are you the best person to tell this story?” and I think that’s a valid question in fiction also, especially for Kid Lit authors who are helping shape the next generation of decision makers.


Okay, so, there’s some debate about whether WASTED PRETTY, which is set in the 1990s, is contemporary fiction or historical fiction. (Clearly, since I remember wearing scrunchies and over-sized tees the first time around, it’s contemporary – but to teens born in the new millennium, it feels like history!!) This is a story that has great teen and adult appeal, so I’m wondering how you’ve approached marketing. Have you reached out to your teen and adult readers via different avenues?

I’ve got to be honest, marketing, for me, is like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks… I have a presence on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter, but I’m not convinced any of those platforms have helped actually sell books. Because I’m an extrovert, my favorite thing to do is in-person events. I’ve done several adult book groups, and I had a great one this summer with teens and adults together — that was a blast! As you might imagine, there’s a nostalgia factor in WASTED PRETTY for the adults, but it seems I’ve done enough “world-building” that the teens can jump right into that time period and get a lot out of it. The book has become a conversation starter for teens and their adults and that has been really gratifying to watch.

Okay, Jamie, one last fry, and it’s time for Flash Favorites! Ready, set, tell us your favorite….

tuck everlasting.jpgBook as a kid: Tuck Everlasting

Game for family game night: Uno

Song or album: Oh my gosh, people have just one? That’s a thing? Oy! Let’s go with “Silent All These Years,” by Tori Amos

Thing about the 90’s: The music, almost all of it!


Thing about the 90’s re-load in 2019: That my daughter saw me with a choker necklace on at my book release party and finally thought I was cool!

Job other than writing: Scooping ice cream in Pittsburgh in 1992

Cute Buddy the Cat antic (our cats look like twins!): Man, that cat! He’s the sweetest, cuddliest, fluff-ball at 3am, but the rest of the time, he’s a biter! I’m sure there’s a lesson there somewhere!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Jamie! Can’t wait to see you in November!

Thank you!


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An Interview with Author and Illustrator Adrienne Wright, by Virginia Law Manning

Adrienne Wright, author and illustrator of Hector: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph that Changed Apartheid (Page Street Kids, 2019), will be joining our faculty at Fall Philly on November 2. Virginia Law Manning caught up with Adrienne to discuss this important book.

Virginia: I’m thrilled to talk to you today, Adrienne, about your powerful debut picture book, Hector: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph that Changed Apartheid (Page Street Kids, June 2019). Ever since you first told me about your project, I was excited because I understood what an important story it was to share with young readers. For those who haven’t read your book, can you tell them what it’s about?

HECTOR COVER lo res for website

Adrienne: Thanks for inviting me, Virginia! Hector: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph that Changed Apartheid is based on the true story of a 12-year-old boy, Hector Zolile Pieterson, who was killed by police while caught up in a student protest against unfair and inferior education for black students in 1976. The event was captured in a heartbreaking photograph of Hector, which shed light on the events that helped lead to the end of apartheid.

Virginia: You’ve said your publisher describes the book as the biography of a photograph. Do you remember when you first saw the image?

The World newpaper June 16Adrienne: I was a teenager at the time of the student protest, living in Benoni, a town near Johannesburg and Soweto. Sam Nzima’s photograph was first published in The World newspaper, local to black readers in Soweto. I saw it in the days following, when it was published in various other newspapers before being banned.

Virginia: At that time, how much did you know about Hector?

Adrienne: I knew nothing about Hector. When the photograph was first published, Hector was not identified. Then after it was printed in the paper, the South African government banned the photograph. It was out of the public eye for a long time. During that time, I moved to the United States. After apartheid ended in 1994, the photograph resurfaced, but Hector’s memory and the protest had been kept alive as part of the struggle [against apartheid].

 Virginia: When did you first start thinking about writing a book about Hector?

Adrienne: I’d seen the photograph at various times over the years. About seven years ago I came across it again online. The image is so powerful that when I saw it, I recognized it instantly. But I wondered why I knew so little about the boy himself. I knew about the protest and the student movement that led to the tragic image, but nothing about Hector, the person.

In talking to my sister, I found out she had been to the Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial in Soweto. I had no idea that the museum existed until she told me about her visit!

After finding the photo online, I researched to see if I could find any books for children about Hector or the protest in general and found none. As I looked at the photo more closely, I noticed that he was wearing only one shoe. I wanted to know why. I wanted to know what had happened to his sister, who is seen running, crying, next to the older boy who is carrying Hector. And what happened to the older boy? And the photographer who took the iconic photograph? I thought if I could find the answers to all these questions, it might be of interest to readers.

Before doing much more research though, I began sketching concept illustrations of the protest. I hadn’t written anything yet. I kept thinking someone else would!

Virginia: How did you do your research?

Adrienne: I contacted the Hector Pieterson Museum director and discovered that Hector’s sister Antoinette, seen in the photograph, worked there as a guide. She agreed to be interviewed and arranged for her mother to be interviewed too. I was also able to get in touch with Sam Nzima, the photographer, and I interviewed him and got his permission to use the photograph. These three people were my primary sources. I also started to see more articles and interviews online.

I had a couple of books about Soweto and the protests, which gave some general information. Then I visited South Africa and was lucky enough to meet Antoinette and Hector’s mother. Antoinette guided me on a tour of the Hector Pieterson Museum and gave me even more insight into her brother’s life and the events of June 16, 1976, the day of the protest. These additional conversations were invaluable.

While in South Africa, I spent time at libraries and delved into their archives of cuttings and microfilm of newspapers and magazines, which I used for some of the illustrations. Also, some of the now unbanned photos by Sam Nzima and other photographers were references or inspiration for the art.

Antoinette+me at musuem

Adrienne with Hector’s sister, Antionette, at the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum

Virginia: How long did it take you to write Hector from the time you first had the idea to the date you submitted your manuscript to Page Street Kids?

Adrienne: About five years from first ideas to submitting a WIP, then another two-plus years to publication. The road was long but worth every step! My original idea was to tell parallel stories of Hector, the black boy, and a white girl (a real person) living separate and unequal lives in South Africa. It took many manuscript versions and critiques from industry professionals to finally convince me to let go of the white girl’s story, since it “didn’t move Hector’s story forward,” as they would say. That was an important lesson for me to learn. It’s often tough to let go of something you believe has strength and you think is essential and interesting. I still wanted to keep the idea of alternate viewpoints, especially since, as I mentioned, Hector died early in the day of the protest, so I needed others to continue the story after his death.

Virginia: When you talk about your book, do you find many people recognize the photograph?

Adrienne: So far, not many people here in the U.S. recognize the photograph. I’ve come across a scant few who know any details of the protest and what it stood for, but that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it. Of course, in South Africa, the photograph of Hector is iconic, and Hector is a hero. The museum and memorial are in Soweto, near the spot where Hector was gunned down. It’s now a destination for those visiting South Africa. His story is becoming well known, especially for foreign visitors. Hopefully my book will continue to spread the word.

Virginia: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with readers?

Adrienne: Keep trying, keep putting yourself out there! (I know it can be exhausting.) I also recommend you write and/or illustrate things that really mean something to you. If you don’t feel it in your heart, it won’t come out on the page. And to quote Debbie Ridpath Ohi, “Writers and illustrators: You only fail if you quit. Take a break if you need to, but DON’T GIVE UP.”

Virginia: Thank you so much, Adrienne, for sharing your story as well as Hector’s with our members! I’m truly grateful for the inspiration you’ve given us all!!!

Adrienne will be speaking on our panel, “Bridging the Divide—Real Talk on Writing Sensitively, Inclusively, and Accurately,” and will be offering critiques and leading a breakout session at Fall Philly. To register, go to our event page here.

Jaska & Esme January 2019Adrienne Wright is an author, illustrator, member of SCBWI, and the chapter’s former Illustrator Coordinator (2000-2017). She lives in Gulph Mills, PA with her family.

Adrienne’s debut picture book, Hector: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph that Changed Apartheid (published by Page Street Kids, June 4, 2019, distributed by MacMillan), is a Junior Library Guild selection and received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and ALA Booklist.

You can find out more on Adrienne’s website at and follow her on Twitter (@adiillustrate) and Instagram (


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A Cafe Chat with Assistant Editor Nicole Fiorica, by Laura Parnum


Today I’ve invited Nicole Fiorica to chat with me at the EasternPennPoints Café. Nicole is an assistant editor at Margaret K. McElderry Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. She’ll also be joining us at our Fall Philly event on November 2, where she’ll be delivering our opening keynote address.

Laura: Hi, Nicole. Welcome to the EasternPennPoints Café. Before we start chatting, can I offer you something to eat or drink?

Nicole: Just coffee and a donut for me!

Laura: Coming right up! So, tell us about McElderry Books. What kind of books do you publish?

Nicole: McElderry publishes a pretty wide range of books, from teen all the way down to picture books, and across genres. The unifying factor is that we tend to look for books with a literary sensibility as well as commercial appeal. I would say we’re most known for publishing teen and middle grade fantasy, but we also publish teen thrillers, voice-driven contemporary, historical middle grade, nonfiction, and a small but growing list of graphic novels. Essentially, we have the freedom to publish the stories we’re really passionate about, and that’s always super exciting.

Laura: And what path did you take to land in your current position as assistant editor?

bookstoreNicole: Even though I studied communications and psychology at school, I always knew I wanted to get into books somehow, and without being sure where to start, I got a job as a bookseller my local Books-A-Million store. I think this is the best thing I could have done; it’s incredibly useful to know your way around a bookstore and to understand how books get into the hands of readers! From there, I landed a publicity internship with Crown Publishing, and after that was an editorial intern with St. Martin’s Press, where I learned so much about evaluating submissions and crafting edit notes and countless other things I probably take for granted now. At this point, I was sure I wanted to be an editor and was very lucky to get my job at S&S. I started as an editorial assistant, which is where most junior editors begin, assisting both of the acquiring editors for the imprint. For all of their titles, I also provided edit notes, wrote flaps, prepared for sales meetings—the whole nine yards. As an assistant editor, I still do all of those things, but in addition to editing the books on my own list.

Laura: Tell us about an upcoming project that you’re excited about.

Nicole: I’ve had such a tremendous blast working on a YA thriller called I KILLED ZOE SPANOS by Kit Frick. When Anna arrives in the Hamptons for a nanny position, she discovers she looks a lot like a missing girl named Zoe. And when Zoe’s body is found, Anna confesses to her murder—but a teen podcast reporter isn’t buying her story and is determined to uncover the truth. This is a twisted, atmospheric page turner that will be out June 2020, right in time to take on your next beach trip.

Laura: Oooh, that sounds intriguing! I’ll be sure to check it out.

Here’s a fun one: If you had the magical ability to jump into any book in time and watch the story unfold from the inside, what book would you choose?

Strange the Dreamer imageNicole: Normally this would be a difficult question for me to answer, but I’m feeling pretty confident: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I’m somewhat obsessed with this book—not just with the story itself, about a librarian apprentice searching for a lost city—but also with the way the story was crafted. The world and the real conflict unfold so methodically, as the story spans a continent and alternating points of view introduced at carefully chosen moments. It probably wouldn’t be the happiest world to watch unfold in real time, but it’s such a stunning story that comes together with such vivid imagination . . . I can’t say more without spoiling, but I would want to see it all for myself.

Laura: Okay, get ready. As fast as you can, what is your favorite

Color: Periwinkle

reading outside imageMovie: The Martian.

Emoji: The shrugging girl. That’s me 90% of the time.

Outdoor activity: Haha what uh . . . reading outside?

Podcast: Binge Mode

Laura: Whew! Thanks. And finally, tell us a little about what you’ll be speaking about at Fall Philly.

Nicole: I’ll be speaking about one of my favorite topics: characters! And, specifically, how to write characters that readers will care about. I’ll be getting into some of the nitty gritty of how to create a character that’s empathetic to readers (even if they aren’t necessarily sympathetic), and how those key character elements unfold over the course of the story’s plot to create a lasting impact on the audience. I will get very emotional about fictional people and events. It’ll be fun!

Laura: I can’t wait! Thanks so much for chatting with us at the EasternPennPoints Café. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Philly in November.

Nicole: Great talking with you as well! I can’t wait to see you (and everyone) there!

For more information about our Fall Philly event and to register, click here

THIS ONENicole Fiorica is an assistant editor at Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. She works on everything from picture books through young adult, in a wide range of genres including both fiction and nonfiction. Prior to joining S&S, she graduated from Fordham University with a degree in Communications and Media. She has had internships with St. Martin’s Press, W.W. Norton & Co, and the Crown Publishing Group. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, Nicole enjoys pottery and watches too much reality TV.


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A New Monthly Feature: Member News


Member News Column Coming to the Blog

We want to share your news with the world! Beginning at the end of October, we’ll feature a monthly “Member News” column on our EasternPennPoints blog. Send us your children’s book related news: book deals, awards, author or illustrator events (signings, launch parties, appearances), etc.

News sent by the 20th of each month will appear in that month’s Member News column on the last day of the month.

Please e-mail your news to Laura Parnum at with the subject line “Member News” so we can help spread your good news!

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A Cafe Chat with Dawn Michelle Hardy, The Literary Lobbyist, by Lindsay Bandy

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Fall Philly is exactly one month away, and I’m very excited to introduce you to Dawn Michelle Hardy, CEO of Dream Relations PR. We’re doing lots of new things this time around, including a pre-event Twitter Live Chat with Dawn @DAWNMICHELLEPR on Thursday, October 10 at 7 p.m., using the hashtag #FallPhilly! Dawn stopped by the Cafe to chat with me, but she’s excited to answer YOUR questions online October 10 and, of course, on November 2 at Fall Philly. She’ll be doing a keynote on platform building, participating in our diversity panel, and offering critiques throughout the day.

Register to reserve your spot with Dawn today!

Dawn Michelle Hardy_stepstightcrop.jpg


Lindsay: Hi there, Dawn, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! We’re so excited to have you at this year’s Fall Philly on November 2. Many of our published members will be in attendance at this year’s event, participating in the regional book fair. As the CEO of a literary PR company, what is one piece of advice you always give your published clients?

Dawn: I’ve been in publishing for 17-years and have been running Dream Relations PR & Literary Consulting for 15 years. The #1 piece of advice I give all authors, whether they are self-published or seeking a traditional deal, identify and connect with your primary target reader. If you are writing a novel connect with the reader who will most certainly identify with characters, the setting or even the obstacles in your story. Focus on a specific demographic. You don’t have to promote your book to everyone, just the right ones.

Lindsay: For authors who are just starting out on the road to publication, what is one helpful step they can take to get a platform going?

image-from-rawpixel-id-427364-jpegDawn: I’m a big fan of authors using social media. It’s cost effective and running 24/7. You can share a message and engage an audience using video, photos, and copy at no cost.

I’ve watched authors build their brand by sharing personal preferences for their reading or writing experiences. Writers share places they enjoy reading or writing, beverages they sip while reading, pictures of pets with the books, inspirational quotes for novice writers and more.

image-from-rawpixel-id-384334-jpegInstagram has been a fun place for authors over the last few years. Check out the #bookstagram hashtag and you can connect with authors and readers directly. You can find me @TheLiteraryLobbyist. I see social media as a must because it allows you to be proactive in connecting with like-minded individuals. You follow and engage them and vice versa. On Instagram most users have an email tab or direct message option in which you can request and gather their contact information including phone numbers. You can use those email addresses to build a reader database. Email marketing list are priceless and the author that comes to the table with a significant list will have a strong point for negotiation with a publisher.  You don’t have to spend a dime or even change out of your pajamas to accomplish this. 😊

Lindsay: I know that promoting diverse literature is close to your heart, and I’m really looking forward to hearing your perspective during our panel discussion on writing sensitively, inclusively, and accurately. What’s one misconception you’d love to address on the panel?

image-from-rawpixel-id-413224-jpegDawn: Black women and their reading choices. Black women are the #1 book buying audience in the country, outpacing everyone in starting small businesses and pursuing college degrees at large rates. However, when it comes to being offered a book deal for contemporary women’s fiction, they experience endless rejection from publishers. All publishing professionals will agree that positioning a book properly is a major factor in the book’s success. Publishers appear to be challenged in positioning books written by WOC or they want more narrative on the understood ‘black experience’. Every book written by a person of color does not need to address civil rights, race in America or slavery. Sometimes a girl with ambitious career goals, rocky romances and crazy family are enough to keep us turning the pages. In 2014 The Atlantic published an article that shared this truth, the most likely person to read a book — in any format — is a black woman who’s been to college.

So, why can’t she get a book deal?

Lindsay: Wow. Great stats – and even better question. We’re looking forward to hearing more – and reading more from women of color!

In addition to participating on the panel and giving our closing keynote, you’re offering critiques throughout the day. With your experience as a literary agent and publicist, you have a unique perspective when looking at manuscripts at various stages. What special insights can you offer participants who sign up for a critique with you?

Dawn: Take the critique experience as an opportunity to learn and make a professional connection. I call it speed mentoring. Please do not be nervous. The odds of you getting an offer for representation during our conversation is slim, but you can learn.

I like when writers can tell me who the current top names are in the genre they are writing. Tell me who your primary reader is. Every book is not for everyone. Take this time to run a promotional idea past me. What ideas do you have to promote the book?  Never take any critique as a personal assault on your person. I am giving advice to help you fulfill your aspirations of being a bestselling author, look for the lesson. Smile and keep in touch on social.

Alrighty, Dawn,  prepare for our special feature – Flash Favorites! Ready, set, tell us your favorite….

where the wild things areBook as a child Where the Wild Things Are

Place to read My deck at home

Vacation spot I love beaches! Whether in South Africa or Martha’s Vineyard.

Type of shoe Wedges

black pantherSocial media platform Instagram 😊

Song on your playlist right now Chainsmoking by Jacob Banks

Movie Black Panther, with all those beautiful melanated people.



Thank you so much for joining us today, Dawn! Can’t wait to see you in November and chat with you on Twitter on October 10 at 7 p.m. 



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Announcing New Roles for the Eastern PA SCBWI Regional Team

Some changes are coming to our Eastern PA SCBWI regional team. But don’t worry, no one is going away for good. We’re just shifting our roles. This is good news because it means we’ve got some exciting plans and initiatives in the works, which you’ll hear more about soon.

2016 headshotAlison Green Myers – Alison, who has served on the regional team for five years, will be stepping down as Co-Regional Advisor. Alison will continue on as the Chair of the Pocono Retreat as well as the Chair of the PAL Committee. Alison says, “I’m glad that these responsibilities will keep me connected to the regional team and able to contribute to the member group that we’ve built.”


Rona Shirdan – Rona will be making the leap from Assistant Regional Advisor to Co-Regional Advisor, where she and current Co-Regional Advisor Lindsay Bandy will head up our chapter’s events and activities. Rona has been busy planning some new initiatives for our region, which we hope to unveil soon.

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Laura Parnum – Blogmaster Laura Parnum will be expanding her duties as she fills the Assistant Regional Advisor role. Laura will continue running the blog while assisting the Regional Advisors with communications and area events. Laura is looking forward to getting to know more members, either in person or through online communication.

VirginiaManningPhotoVirginia Law Manning – After two years as Illustrator Coordinator, Virginia will be transitioning into a new role—EPA Field Trip Coordinator. Virginia is excited to plan more events for SCBWI members and nonmembers and hopes to have the opportunity to meet you in person at one of our upcoming events. She can be reached at Be sure to check out these events already in the works.

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Berrie Torgan-Randall – We are very excited to announce that Berrie Torgan-Randall will be joining the team as Illustrator Coordinator. Berrie has been passionate about children’s literature since she was a little girl, and has fed her desire by becoming a children’s librarian and by pursuing a career as an illustrator and writer of children’s books. She is looking forward to making connections with professionals while organizing events for illustrators who are on a similar journey of creating beautiful and meaningful picture books.

Co-Regional Advisor Lindsay Bandy and our Critique Group Coordinator and Meet & Greet Coordinator, Heather Stigall, will continue in their current roles. The transitions will go into effect October 1, 2019. Please reach out to us by e-mail at with any questions or to find out how you can get involved.

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