Fall Philly Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Hansen Rolli, by Lindsay Bandy

Today, we catch up with author/illustrator/painter Jennifer Hansen Rolli. I first met Jenny at Picture Book Day back in 2014, right after her adorable picture book JUST ONE MORE came out. Jenny has graced our February art and poetry shows with her lovely paintings, and she’s speaking at Fall Philly this year!
Hi Jenny! We’re so glad to have you as part of our faculty for Fall Philly this year! Catch us up a little – what have you been up to lately? 
Fall Philly is right in my back yard and I am thrilled to be included as one of this year’s presenters. Since the summer, I have been full throttle working on the illustrations for my upcoming book, Claudia and Moth(Viking, Fall17). On the heels of that, I will be illustrating Erin Russell’s PB, How to Trick the Tooth Fairy(Simon & Schuster, Spring 18). On the writing side, I have several manuscripts that I take turns working on, trading courts with my agent.
Can you give our readers a little teaser about what to expect at Fall Philly? 
The theme of my presentation will stress the importance of taking risks and consistently carving out time to get yourself to the next level. I’ll show the many trials and tribulations it took for me to get my first book published, and how exciting each and every step can be. I have a simple process that I’ve settled in on, and I’ll be sharing it with the group and providing the tools for everyone to get moving.
Perhaps I’ll title it “It’s Your Time” or ” Not for Dabblers” : )
Thank you so much for stopping by, Jenny! Can’t wait to see you at Fall Philly!
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Who’s Selling Like Hot Cakes? Adam Lehrhaupt and Val Jones, of Course!

Congrats to regional members Adam Lehrhaupt and Val Jones, whose books were mentioned in Publisher’s Weekly this week as top sellers!

Click to read the PW article, What’s Selling at Harleysville Books, and be sure to check out WHO WANTS BROCCOLI and I WILL NOT EAT YOU!

broccoli-cover-med  i-will-not-eat-you

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Fall Philly Faculty Spotlight: Agent Beth Phelan of the Bent Agency, by Lori Ann Palma

To continue our focus on this year’s Fall Philly Faculty, we’re happy to have Beth Phelan, literary agent from The Bent Agency, to answer our questions.
Hi Beth! What’s on your wish list right now?
I’m always most drawn to the bittersweet. I love anything that makes me smile sadly, laugh with tears in my eyes, or cry because my heart is so full. I want books that push boundaries and challenge our thinking. More specific things on my wishlist right now: YA and MG fantasy and magical realism inspired by underrepresented cultures (especially by #ownvoices); queer protagonists in MG fiction (and YA too); and a YA with a completely new, game-changing spin on vampires. And like a lot of the industry, I was charmed by Netflix’s Stranger Things and would love to find MG or YA in that vein. 
What’s your best tip for creating a strong pitch? 
This is really just my own opinion, but I find it’s most effective to treat it like a conversation. I find it hard to focus on pitches that are recited to me, though I don’t fault anyone for bringing notes to make sure they hit every point they need to! But if you allow it to be a conversation, I think it’s more memorable and easier for me to ask questions that will make me want to know more. 
Thanks so much, Beth! We’re looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks.
If you’d like to meet Beth and our other fabulous Fall Philly faculty, be sure to register today!
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Fall Philly Faculty Spotlight: Agent Melissa Edwards of Stonesong, by Lindsay Bandy

Today, we catch up with another of our lovely Fall Philly Faculty members, Melissa Edwards of Stonesong Literary Agency!  Click here to learn more about Melissa and Stonesong, and if you haven’t signed up for Fall Philly yet, hurry! Spots are filling fast.


Hi Melissa! What’s on your wishlist right now?
I’m looking for middle grade with heart and a sense of adventure. I’d love to see something silly and hilarious, maybe involving a team of kooky kids? I am, of course, always looking for heartstring-pullers in MG. I’d like to see some socioeconomic diversity in MG and YA. I’d love some YA about teens with unusual hobbies or skills, like elite athletes. I’d love a teenage thriller or mystery. I always want YA romance.
How about your best tip for creating a strong pitch?
Draft 10 different versions of your pitch, all with a different tone. Try making it really short. Try making it a little long. Try making it sound more romantic. Try making it sound more thrilling. Try making it sound funny. The ideal pitch will be appropriate for the tone of your book, but it will be an interesting exercise in language to push yourself to approach the pitch from so many angles.
Sounds like a great exercise! Thanks, Melissa – we’ll see you soon!
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Fall Philly Faculty Spotlight: Linda Camacho of Prospect Literary, by Lindsay Bandy

It’s officially my favorite season now, which means it’s time for sweaters and pumpkins and hay rides and open windows and….Fall Philly! We have a pretty spectacular faculty this year, and Lori Ann and I are busy checking in with them about what they’re looking for right now. We’ve also got some posts in store for you to help prepare you for pitching, so stay tuned!

Our First Fabulous Featured Fall Philly Facutly (sorry…I love alliteration almost as much as Fall) is the talented Linda Camacho, agent at Prospect Literary, LLC!


Hi Linda! Can you tell us what’s on your wishlist right now?

  •  I want to be surprised! I look for great stories across all genres. More specifically, I’m looking for a middle grade that breaks my heart (like The Thing About Jellyfish) or is a sweet romance (like Flipped), or is on the spookier side (like Coraline), or one that’s just plain funny (like Diary of a Wimpy Kid). For YA, I could use an amazing fantasy (like The Girl of Fire and Thorns). Or a western (Can’t think of an example, but I really want one!), a historical narrative (like Code Name Verity), or an epically romantic fairytale/myth retelling (like The Star Touched Queen).

What’s your best tip for creating a good pitch?

  • Let the voice of the story shine through your pitch. It’ll give me an idea of the tone and will stand out more than a drier spiel.

Thanks for stopping by! Can’t wait to meet you in a few short weeks!

You can read more about Linda here, and you can meet her and pitch to her at Fall Philly – so go ahead and sign up!

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Fall Philly & Member News by Kim Briggs

And it’s better than ever.

Join us for an all-star line-up of PA authors and acquiring agents at this year’s Fall Philly.

October 23, 2016
9am – 4pm
Warwick Hotel at Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Adam Lehrhaupt (I Will Not Eat You), Elizabeth Kann (Pinkalicious), Becky Birtha (Lucky Beans), Diana Rodriguez Wallach (Anastasia Phoenix), Jennifer Hansen Rolli (Just One More), as well as your hosts, Kim Briggs and Alison Green Myers, will entertain you with five craft focused sessions throughout the day.

And… Sign up for one-to-one pitch sessions with acquiring agents. Adriana Dominguez (Full Circle Literary), Linda Camacho (Prospect Agency), Beth Phelan (The Bent Agency), Kelly Peterson (Corvisiero Literary), Jordy Albert (The Booker Albert Agency), Danielle Burby (HSG Agency), Melissa Edwards (Stonesong Agency), Charlie Olsen (Inkwell Management), and Sean McCarthy (The Sean McCarthy Literary Agency), Christa Heschke (McIntosh and Otis Agency), Carrie Howland (Empire Literary) will be in attendance with limited meetings open to you.
Registration: $99 for SCBWI members, $139 for non-members
Ten minute pitch sessions: $25
Pitches open to registered conferees only.
You are limited to five pitches at the event.
****Please note: Spots are filling FAST.



Yep, one of our members has done it again!! Lauren LeBlanc won SCBWI’s WIP award for her chapter book submission: How to be a Bad Guy by Dallas Bottomley

Fed up with his friends’ obsession with superheroes, 8-year-old Dallas decides to become a villain instead. But when he discovers he would rather stand up for the underdog, he must redefine what villainy means to him.

Here’s the official SCBWI WIP ANNOUNCEMENT. Let’s give a round of applause for Lauren and wish her a ginormous amount of luck for the next round of her journey.

We want your news!

If you’ve recently signed a book deal or won an ward, or your next book is coming out, we want to know and we want to share it with the WORLD!! Please email us at scbwiepa@gmail.com with your news!

Write on,
Kim Briggs, Co-RA Eastern PA SCBWI

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#SCBWISocial: From Seeds to Shoots: How to Generate Writing Ideas, by Lori Ann Palma

It’s the Third Thursday of September already! Seems that we’re having a little mind meld with our As the Eraser Burns sisters today, so be sure to read Laura Bowers’ post 50 WAYS TO GATHER BOOK IDEAS! Then, comment with either a link to a blog post of your own, or just something that inspires you when coming up with new ideas. Don’t forget to link up to both Eastern Penn Points and As the Eraser Burns in your own post, so we can all share the love. Now, here’s Lori Ann….
Sometimes finding great ideas for your fiction writing can feel like waiting for golden eggs that appear as infrequently as—well, golden eggs. Elusive and sporadic by nature, you might find yourself channeling Veruca Salt in the Willy Wonka factory, wanting your shiny, shimmering egg on demand. As wonderful as that would be, I’ve found that ideas never really drop in my hands like fully-formed gems, allowing me to sit down and write an entire story all the way through. Rather, ideas are oftentimes much more humble, and it’s my job to tend them until they shine.
I like to think of my ideas as misshapen seeds. They’re not much to look at, and I know there’s likely a dud or two (or three) that won’t produce anything at all. But all ideas take time and care, so rather than thinking of it as generating an idea, I treat it like I’m germinating an idea. Through writing and outlining, the idea gets its daily watering and begins to grow roots. As I keep working and it shows more potential, a shoot will appear, allowing the story to support more ideas, such as a second character, a subplot, or a fledgling theme. Not every thought will work out, but that’s okay, because there are always more to choose from.
You might be thinking now that you don’t have any new ideas, and to that I say, don’t wait for those golden eggs. An idea can come from anything at all—a snippet of conversation, a movie you really like, a life experience you had. When you read, listen to music, or come across a news story, you are surrounded by ideas plum for the picking. I recently watched a documentary on American whaling and thought about using some elements in a new project. Do I know anything about ships or the high seas? No. Do I know anything about being a whaler who lived in the 19thcentury? Nope. Has it stopped me from exploring the idea? No! That’s what research is for. All you need is a spark that says, “Wow, this is really interesting.” That’s an idea to be planted, and it will be just one of many.
As you start keeping track of the little sparks that cross your mind, jot them down in a notebook that’s by your side at all times, or take notes on your smartphone. Eavesdrop on an interesting conversation between two strangers that makes you laugh or makes you sad—write a note to yourself so you can think on it later and understand why it meant something to you. Watch a movie or show with a character that has a problem you might want to explore—write it down and see where you can use this idea for yourself.
Great fiction for children and young adults begins with one idea. And while it might not gleam like a golden egg, your time and energy will eventually give it a luminous shine.
Share advice on how you grow ideas from seedlings in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your methods! 
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So, What Exactly Do You Do? by Lindsay Bandy

Let’s face it: Explaining what we do is harrrrd. Sometimes, we might opt not to tell anyone that we write or illustrate until something big happens, like a multi-million dollar contract. But that’s a little sad, right? I mean, my husband tells people that he golfs. My kids tell people they like to do crafts and dance. So why is it so hard to tell people we write and/or illustrate?

I think it’s because people “get” golfing. They get kid crafts and dance class and yoga. But the publishing industry? Half the time, we don’t even get it, ourselves, because it is the Wild Wild West. There are no hard and fast rules. There is no one path. It could take ten weeks or ten years. And the hard truth is, not everyone makes it to the six-figure contract stage.

But there are some perks to this Wildness: We can work within the rules and get wildly different, creative outcomes. There are many different paths to success, and multiple definitions of success. You don’t actually have to be J.K. Rowling to do what you love. And if you educate yourself in order to educate others, you can even talk about what you do without (too much) trepidation.

Try these tips next time you hesitate to talk about your work, and please let me know any of your own!

Q: So, are you published yet?? 

You worry that saying NO will make you sound dumb, incompetent, and delusional, right? But if you can explain some of the process, you’ll actually educate someone else on how incredibly complex it is. Being knowledgeable and providing examples can go a long way to helping you feel both understood and positive about your efforts. For example, if you’re in the querying phase, explain what that looks like:

Well, I finished my manuscript, got some peer reviews, polished it up, and now I’m sending query letters to agents that I think would be a good fit. Many agents get about 40 queries a day, and they have their own clients to take care of, as well, so it can be a long wait to hear back from them. Some successful authors query for years before landing their agent or publisher. Did you know that Stephen King had so many rejections he drove a spike into his wall to hold them all? Did you know Harry Potter got like 11 rejections from publishers before being picked up? Did you know it took the creators of Phineas and Ferb 16 years of rejections to get their TV show off the ground? So I’m just trying to be patient and focus on a new project for now. It’s a long haul.

phineas-and-ferb               harry potter

Q: Where are you going this weekend?

Umm….to…a..uh…..writer’s conference. It can feel weird to tell people you’re going away for the weekend to a writer’s and/or illustrator’s conference, because people have expectations. Like you’re going to walk through the door and a beam of light will rest upon your head, and suddenly, publishers will bow down to your genius and throw money at you. If that happens to you, please take a picture. But if not, try something like:

I’m going to a conference to meet other writers/illustrators and learn from industry professionals. I’m also helping out at the registration table!

This brings me to another really important point:


Being involved in an organization like, oh, I don’t know….SCBWI!!! can help you to share your activities with others who get it, as well as those who don’t. Telling people you help out at events, or writing a post for this very blog and sharing it on your own social media sites can be a great way to be doing something…something you can feel proud to talk about and share. Be brave and reach out to an author, illustrator, or agent you admire and see about an interview for our blog or your own. Tweet and interact with authors and illustrators to tell them you love their work. Build relationships, and let them bloom! Don’t just wait for the big thing to happen. Start making things happen now!

I hope that helps you to feel a little more comfortable talking about the awesome and important work you do.

Keep on educating yourself and others, and take the words of Louisa May Alcott to heart:

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.


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Happy Cover Reveal, Kim Briggs!!

I can’t think of a better way to kick off this hot September weekend than revealing the cover for Starr Fall, Book One, the Young Adult Romance Series by Kim Briggs, releasing November 4, 2016 from Inkspell Publishing!


We’re always pumped to share member news (pssst….if you’ve got some, send it our way!), and Kim does so much for our region as RA. We’re super proud of her, and so excited to share her good news! So, without further ado, here it is…..


Starr Fall

Book One of the Starr Fall Series

By Kim Briggs

Release date: November 4, 2016

Publisher: Inkspell Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-939590-94-7

Pre-Order Buy Links:




About the Book:

On the run from the Organization, Starr never planned on falling in love.

Starr Bishop’s the complete package. A perfect smile, brains to match, and a winning attitude. Boys want to date her and girls want to be her. She’s the type of girl you want to hate, if only she wasn’t so damn likable. But don’t worry, she’s not interested in your boyfriend. Boys are one complication she can live without.

When the Organization decides she’s not only the model student but the ideal assassin, Starr’ll need a lot more than high test scores and extracurricular involvement to get herself out of that commitment.

Dark, moody, and dead sexy Christian Evergood is the last person she’d expect—or even want— to come to her rescue. From opposite ends of Webster High’s social hierarchy, their lives collide in one electrifying moment. Christian isn’t the Goth loner he pretends to be, he’s a part Cherokee, All-American boy who wants to be a hero, Starr’s hero. Christian makes Starr forget that the Organization is after her, but nothing will stop the Organization from collecting their top recruit.

By the way, the spot for junior class president just became available.


About the author….


Kim once smashed into a tree while skiing. The accident led to a concussion, a cracked sternum, temporary notoriety as a sixth grader returned from the dead, and the realization that fictionalized accounts are way more interesting than just slipping on the ice.

An unhealthy obsession with conspiracy theories combined with a love of travel and happily ever afters led Kim to write her YA novel, Starr Fall, where a secret organization decides Starr Bishop would make the ideal assassin. While in hiding, Starr meets dark, moody, and dead sexy Christian Evergood. Cue the swoon worthy music. But it’s not all happily ever afters for Kim, her NA novel, And Then He, explores the dark and scary corners of the human psyche. Following a night of innocent flirting with a handsome stranger, Tiffani finds herself in the midst of a nightmare she can’t escape. And Then He is available now through Amazon and other major book retailers. Starr Fall will debut November 2016 with Inkspell Publishing.

When she’s not doing something writerly, Kim can be found jumping into snow drifts with her three kids, husband, and dog. She’s careful to avoid trees.

Twitter | Web | Facebook | Goodreads | INK Sisters Write |

Giveaway Details

To celebrate Starr Fall’s cover release, Kim wants to give away some swag. Let’s look at the cover again…


One lucky winner will receive a bag of Starr Fall swag including bookmarks, all the fixings for s’mores (once you read the book, you’ll know why), and this…


See that little metal tag? It says “Me to We.” Cool huh? You know what else is cool, the purchase of the bracelet bought one month of clean water to a child in a community overseas. Starr’s all about water and making an impact. Kim is too, and she can’t wait to give this bracelet to one lucky recipient. All you need to do is pre-order Starr Fall, then email a copy of the proof of purchase (a screenshot works) to KimBriggsAuthor @ gmail.com (Don’t forget to remove the spaces;)

Winner will be announced on Kim’s Website Monday, October 3, 2016.

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Overcome Writer Burnout By Becoming a Life-Long Learner, by Lori Ann Palma

September is traditionally a time when school comes back to the forefront of our lives. Whether it be shuffling your own children to the bus, returning to teaching, or settling into a new project, our focus shifts away from summer fun to books and schedules. While you may not be in the classroom yourself, you are enrolled in the School of Writing, which doesn’t observe weekends or holidays, and often causes a lot of stress. This relentless and unforgiving schedule can lead to what I call Writer Burnout.
Writer burnout feels like your brain is a tangle of fried wires. You’re sick of the entire writing process, of writing draft after draft, and editing only to edit more. You know you’re supposed to put your head down and keep working, but you’re so tired that you don’t even want, or care, to try. And because we put our hearts and souls into our work, as well as spend time away from family, friends, and children to produce work that often ends up being rejected, the burnout can be detrimental to your goals.
Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You may think the weight of never having all the answers is too much, but everything you need to know to write a great picture book or YA novel is out there, if you have the patience and understanding to accept that you’ll must become a life-long learner. Being a forever student may sound like a curse, but it’s actually very liberating. Immediately, it removes the pressure you feel to know it all. Imagine if you took a breath and said:
I will remain a student of my craft forever.
I’ll never know exactly how to start a project.
I’ll never finish a project and have all the answers on how to write the next one.
I’ll never know how to edit my draft perfectly.
Allowing yourself to be a forever student makes it easier to approach your work with a sense of wonder instead of a test you don’t know how to ace. 
You don’t need to have all the answers now. You must be willing to say, “I don’t know.” And to keep saying it over and over. It’s alright to be confused—it’s what keeps you hungry for answers and willing to explore. It’s what makes writing challenging and creative. Like any journey, the small moments of victory, when you do find a solution, are sweeter because of the work it took to get there.
Slow down and take a seat. Whenever you don’t know something, you seek out resources. My primary resource to increase my writing knowledge is books, but you may want to join a writing group (in person or online) to get real feedback, or go to a writer’s conference for some professional opinions. Sometimes all you need is to revisit the fundamentals of writing through reading blog posts, or the encouragement that comes from knowing all writers encounter fear of the unknown. The benefits of any of these methods can’t be denied—anytime you invest into your own knowledge you won’t come away empty-handed.
If you’re committed to writing come hell or high water, then make a promise to yourself that you won’t let burnout thwart you. Instead, you’ll pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue to learn. This will separate you from the writers who reach their goals from those who will not. Through continuing to be humble enough to be a lifelong student, you’ll train yourself to see each setback as an opportunity to school yourself and improve.
How do you overcome writer burnout? Share in the comments below!
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