Northeastern PA Writing Workshop Opportunity with Clara Gillow Clark and Jan Cheripko by Kim Briggs

Here in Eastern PA SCBWI, we love to spread the word about writing and illustrating events that benefit our members. Many of these events are not SCBWI sponsored events but they provide excellent opportunities to develop your craft. If you know of any, please email us at:  easternpascbwi (@)    (make sure you remove those parenthesis–we’re trying to make things bot safe;)

Below you’ll find an excellent opportunity from two well-known Northeastern PA Children Writers. Check it out!

“You should write a book.”
A Writers’ Workshop with
Jan Cheripko and Clara Gillow Clark
Six Workshops
February 15, 22, and 29, March 7, 14, and 28

“You should write a book about that!”

How many times have you told a story to someone and the listener has said that to you? Or how many times have you thought, pondered, or wondered about writing your memoir, or a novel, or travel log, or a collection of stories?

Here’s a unique opportunity to learn what’s involved in realizing that dream from two award-winning writers.

Jan Cheripko and Clara Gillow Clark, authors of several books for young adults and children, are offering a six-session introductory course at MAKE at Union Chapel in Selleyville which will take you through the steps necessary in constructing a finished manuscript. Each session will last one-and-a-half hours. You can sign up for the entire course, or pick and choose individual sessions.

The workshops will be held on Monday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., starting on Monday, February 15 and running each Monday to March 28. (There will be no workshop held on Monday, March 21.)


Monday, February 15: Session One focuses on theme. In this workshop Jan and Clara discuss the importance of clarifying the overarching ideas that will help you stay focused on your project. Through specific assignments and guided discussions, you’ll learn how to discover the essence of what you’re trying to accomplish which will become the blueprint of your writing. In other words, once you have in focus the why of your writing project, then the what and the how becomes more clear.

Monday, February 22: Session Two centers on setting. The where and the when of a story may seem elementary, yet keeping a time frame and a place in focus for the reader is a challenge. On the one hand, you don’t want your reader to be bogged down in useless or over burdening specifics about the timeline of events, yet at the same time, it’s important for the reader not to become confused by losing track of when events occur. Similarly, overly detailed or redundant facts about where the events are occurring can be distracting. However, the details of the event’s surroundings bring the reader into the action of the story.What’s the right balance for time and place? Jan and Clara will share examples of what works and what doesn’t, and discuss how to achieve that balance.

Monday, February 29: Session Three is filled with characters – all kinds, shapes, colors, descriptions, sizes, and more. Protagonists, antagonists, supporting characters, animals as characters, machines as characters, even whole towns as characters. Jan and Clara will help you look at how to develop believable characters through dialogue, monologue, physical description, psychological description, action, and more. You’ll delve deep into the shadows and soar to the heights of the human experiences to help you create characters that people want to know more about.

Monday, March 7: Session Four takes us on the up and down ride of the story line. Here we look at how a plot is actually constructed. It can’t be too dictatorial – that is, too predictable so that the characters become caricatures. Yet it can’t be too loose so that the reader has little interest in what is happening. We’ll look at specific techniques that a writer must be aware of: a captivating beginning; tension and conflict; building toward an inciting moment; the point of no return; the climax; the denouement.

Monday, March 14: Session Five is an in depth look at language – meaning any technique the author uses to convey his or her ideas. Metaphor, rhythm, alliteration, assonance, repetition, juxtaposition, symbolism, and much, much, for

Monday, March 21: No workshop

Monday, March 28: Session Six is a wrap-up session in which Jan and Clara share their experiences about the challenges of publishing and marketing.

Fees: You can join all six sessions for a discounted fee, or pick and choose which sessions you might wish to attend. The fee is $25.00 per session, or you can choose to attend all six for $100.00 – that’s a $50.00 savings.


Both Jan and Clara have been involved in writing professionally for more than thirty years. Both have experience in the publishing world, and both have taught writing. Don’t be put off by their work in the teen and children’s market. The skills necessary to get a book published are universal, and, in fact, their experience writing for a specific audience has helped them hone their skills even more. They will be sharing information with you through lectures, discussion, hand outs, selected examples, videos, and more that transcends audience. You will be expected to ask questions and participate in discussions, and you’ll be asked to share your work from time to time. The experience of reading your words out loud to an audience and receiving comments is a critically important part of the writing process.


JAN CHERIPKO is the author of seven books for young adults and children, including three novels for teens. His critically acclaimed Imitate the Tiger, winner of the Joan Fassler Memorial Book Award given by the Association of The Care of Children’s Health, focuses on a football player on the edge of alcoholism. His other two novels, Rat and sun moon stars rain, received honors from the International Reading Association, New York Public Library, and other educational and library organizations. Jan is the former assistant to the publisher of Boyds Mills Press, past reporter for the Times-Herald Record, and editor of the Sullivan County Democrat. For more than 25 years he taught English at a private residential school for at risk teens. He has spoken to students, parents, teachers, and administrators throughout the country and abroad. Currently, he serves as a consultant to the Highlights Foundation, where he has taught courses on writing.

CLARA GILLOW CLARK is a critically acclaimed author of six novels of historical fiction for middle grade readers. Many of her books have been shortlisted for numerous State awards. Her novel, Willie and the Rattlesnake King won an International Reading Association Young Adult Choice Award, and her novel, Hill Hawk Hattie was a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year 2004. Clara studied writing at New School for Social Research and has taught writing for 15 years for the Writers’ Institute.


Write on,


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7 Responses to Northeastern PA Writing Workshop Opportunity with Clara Gillow Clark and Jan Cheripko by Kim Briggs

  1. Kristen C.S. says:

    Do you mean Seeleyville near Honesdale? If not, where is Selleyville? And if so, where do I sign up?

  2. Nadine Poper says:

    Would LOVE to attend but too far for me to drive on a weeknight after a long work day…2 hours from my house. 😦

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