Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Honing Your Manuscript and Heading To Success

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Date(s) - 09/23/2017
8:00 am - 3:00 pm

Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave - Pittsburgh, PA 15213



Saturday, September 23, 2017

8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Carnegie Mellon University, Hunt Library, Studio A
Map of campus (Hunt Library is #12)

50-person registration limit

$10 fee

August 22: Registration opens for members at 10 a.m.
September 13: Registration opens for non-members at 10 a.m. if space is available
September 17: Registration closes at 10 p.m.


8:00-8:30 Registration, Book sales and signing

8:30-8:45 Welcome, Introduction of speakers, announcements and schedule

8:45-9:45; Session 1: Sabrina Fedel

How our Brains React to Fiction and Why This Matters to Your Writing: Cognitive scientists are now proving what we have known all along – that nothing engages us like a well written story. Learn the science behind what goes on when we read, and use this information to take your writing to the next level to engage readers in a story they just can't put down.

9:45-10:45; Session 2: Stephanie Keyes 

10 Things That Will Brand You As An Amateur and How To Avoid Them: The publishing business is truly unique. When you mix the sheer number of writers vying for publication with the knowledge that each of them has a passion project they’re aching to see in print…the competition is fierce. Therefore, it’s important to act like a pro from the very start. You’ll learn action steps you can take to up your game and better understand the inner workings of the publishing world. A brief Q & A will follow.

10:45-11:45; Session 3: Leah Pileggi

Writing is Editing: If your favorite line that you’ve ever written is getting in the way of your story, are you willing to cut it? What about deleting a whole chapter that doesn’t work? Could changing your 16-year-old protagonist to 13 make your story stronger? What if the picture book about money that you’re working on is really a middle grade novel about race relations? Writers have to be willing to make changes to their work, sometimes big, painful changes. We’ll talk about edits, large and small. Handouts provided. Bring pencils or quill pens.

11:45-1:00; Lunch on your own, Book sales and signing

1:00-2:00; Session 4: Josh Bellin

World-Building 101: Learn the basics of creating original, convincing, compelling worlds in literature for young readers. Topics will include planning and mapping your world; engaging the senses; making setting matter; and introducing backstory. Participants should bring a pen or pencil, as well as something to write on, whether paper or electronic.

2:00-2:30; Wrap-Up, Q&A

2:30-3:00; Book sales and signing


Faculty bios and books offered for sale:


Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). A college teacher, he wrote a bunch of books for college students before returning to fiction. He is the author of three science fiction novels for teens and adults: the two-part Survival Colony series (Survival Colony 9 and Scavenger of Souls) and the deep-space adventure Freefall. Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

Survival Colony 9 HC $10, PB $5

Scavenger of Souls HC $10, PB $5

2-part Survival Colony series HC $18, PB $9

Limited number copies of Freefall HC $10

Cash or check (no cards)



Sabrina Fedel is the author of the historical novel Leaving Kent State, a five star Litpick from Harvard Square Editions. Her poetry and prose has been featured in a variety of journals, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a storySouth Million Writers Award, and a Sundress Publication's Best of the Net '16 award. She is a 2014 graduate of Lesley University's MFA in Creative Writing program, with a concentration in Writing for Young People. Sabrina is an active member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and a 2014 Merit Letter recipient of the SCBWI's WIP Grant. Sabrina writes from her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she teaches English Literature at Robert Morris University and envisions herself as a model in a Title 9 catalog. Her family finds her eccentric. You can learn more about Sabrina at or find her on social media at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Leaving Kent State $22

Cash and all major credit cards



Stephanie Keyes is the author of the YA Fantasy series, The Star Child [Inkspell Publishing], which includes The Star Child, After Faerie, The Fallen Stars, The Star Catcher, The Last Protector, A Faerie Wedding, and Into Faerie: The Star Child Novellas. Her work also appears in the compilations Moonbeams and Magic, Blood In The Shadows, and the international bestseller, Ever in the After: 13 Fantasy Tales. Ms. Keyes has presented and facilitated courses throughout the US and the UK. In addition, her work has received multiple commendations, including first place in the 2014 Dante Rossetti Young Adult Novel Awards—Mythological Category. She's an active member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and Pennwriters. When she's not writing, Ms.Keyes works as a freelance graphic and instructional designer and blogs with her husband, Aaron, on the popular blog, The Nerd Garden ( She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and her boys, Hip-Hop and Bam-Bam, and dogs Duncan MacLeod and Princess Riley. Steph is a hopeless romantic and Whovian who's shamelessly addicted to Nutella and spontaneous singing. 

The Star Child $10.00

The Fallen Stars $12.00

The Star Catcher $14.00

Into Faerie $8.00

Entire Series $38.00

Cash and all major credit cards.



Leah Pileggi studied children’s writing at Chatham University and professional writing at Carnegie Mellon University. Prisoner 88 is her first novel. It’s a middle-grade historical novel based on a real 10-year-old boy who went to prison in Idaho in 1885 for shooting a man who had threatened to kill his father. It’s been on state readings lists in Vermont, Nebraska and Arkansas and was chosen as a Notable Book by the National Council for Teachers of English. Leah is also the author of How to Design a World-Class Engineering College: A History of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Her work has appeared in Hopscotch Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-GazetteThe Chautauquan DailyMental Floss, and The New York Times Magazine.

Prisoner 88 $10

Cash or check