Thursday, January 18, 2018

Why Do I Need an Editor? - A Q&A with Harold Underdown

On Saturday, February 10, 2018, long-time children's editor Harold Underdown will join us for a four-hour revision workshop titled Editing Without an Editor: A Revision Tools Workshop. He joins us here on the blog for a Q&A about the workshop and about revision.

JA: First of all, who is it for--beginners or more experienced writers?

HU: It's for both! The workshop covers the different stages and different ways to work on and revise a manuscript. I present appropriate techniques to use at different points, and a framework in which to understand them and modify them as needed.

Beginner or moderately experienced writers will find a range of new ideas and techniques, while published writers will benefit from a broad review and will encounter some new things along the way. It is a general course with a broad focus--which really is how Kid's Book Revisions designs all of our workshops and webinars and our retreat. From the feedback we've received over the years from those who take our workshops, this approach works.

JA: That sounds good, but why do writers need to learn to be their own editor? What's wrong
with sending in a manuscript when someone thinks it's ready?

HU: That question gets at one of the main reasons why I teach about revision. Though it's not true that in-house editors 'don't edit anymore,' it is true that the competition for publication is fierce, and
writers need to submit manuscripts to agents and/or editors that are as strong and polished as
they can make them.

It's difficult to be objective about one's own work, which is why we teach
the best ways to get feedback from others, methods to use to uncover big problems in a story,
and techniques to use to do the final polishing.

JA: That sounds like a lot of work. Why wouldn't writers just want to hire independent editors
like you to help them fix their manuscripts? And why are you offering up techniques that
make writers less likely to need your help?

HU: To start with your first question, an independent editor isn't going to rewrite a manuscript for
you, and you wouldn't want them to. They'll help a writer find problems, but they’ll still have to
do the work.

What we teach in the KBR workshops will save someone time and money and help
them get farther along on their own. We teach about revision because we like to teach, and we're
not concerned about undermining our market (as it were!). Writers will still need our services,
but we hope that they'll solve the easier problems themselves before they come to us.

JA: What about specific kinds of writers, such as writers of picture books of chapter books?
Will the workshop be helpful to them? And what about illustrators?

HU: Absolutely! This workshop is for anyone writing narrative, from picture book to YA, and that
includes narrative nonfiction as well. Some of the techniques work better at one end of the age
range than the other, but the workshop is designed to work with different kinds of manuscripts.

It's not aimed specifically at illustrators, but illustrators who are working on their own writing or
are interested in understanding the writing process will find it helpful.

What Others Have to Say

Two of our own Western Washington members had this to say about their experience working with Harold:

"Not only does Harold have a strong understanding of the industry, he’s an excellent teacher for writers. He helped me with specific and clear feedback on how to make my work better.”  - Michèle Griskey

"I took Harold’s revision workshop at Highlights a few years ago—it was full of insights as well as concrete, actionable suggestions for revising and improving my manuscripts. Highly recommend!" - Kathy Manchip

Sign Me Up!

For more information or to reserve your spot, visit our Harold Underdown event page. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Upcoming classes and a conference

Second Saturday Writing Workshop at Woodinville Library

Catch Laurie Thompson this Saturday, January 13th, at the Woodinville Library for a free workshop on Writing to Make a Difference

Illustrating Picture Books with Dana Sullivan

A new crash course at Green River College for the kid writer/illustrator in a hurry! Overview includes manuscript formatting, storyboards, making a book dummy and illustration techniques. Agents, editors and publishing also discussed. Great for any level of illustrator, from beginner to pro. Bring story ideas and one or two recent picture books you like. Details here.

Nonfiction Webinar

Lisa Owens is offering a webinar on researching your nonfiction children's book on February 28th. See more details here.

Southside Class

Al Rubeck is offering a beginner's course on writing for children in Maple Valley on March 6th and 13th. Topics include plot, character development, point of view, dialogue, marketing, and getting published. Short writing exercises are included as well as an instructor critique if desired. More information here

Al Rubeck has sold fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to children's magazines. He also teaches writing for children with the Kent Parks Dept. 

And Even More South

SCBWI Oregon's Spring Conference will be May 19th and 20th in Wilsonville (just south of Portland). Registration opens on February 5th

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nonfiction Writer Meetings!

Nonfiction writers, grab your calendars! Lisa Owens, our nonfiction coordinator, has organized a slew of free, informal coffee meetings over the next few months around town. The first one is next week! All welcome. 

Nonfiction Writers' Coffee Klatch
Tuesday, January 17, 2018, at 7:00 PM
Crossroads Bellevue, 15600 NE 8th Street, Bellevue
Bring a recent NF-for-kids book to recommend.
Nonfiction Writers' Coffee Klatch
Friday, February 23, 2018, at 10:00 AM
SPL Central Library/Chocolati Cafe, 1000 4th Avenue, Seattle
Social time and visits to children's section/reference desk

Nonfiction Craft Book Talk
Saturday, March 24, 2018, at 10:00 AM
NoteWordies, 636 7th Ave, Kirkland
The Art of the Proposal by Eric Maisel

Nonfiction Writers' Coffee Klatch

Wednesday, May 2, 2018, at 10:00 AM
Third Place Commons, 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park
Discussion: Narrative vs. expository nonfiction for kids

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

January SCBWI WWA Meeting w/ Michèle Griskey and Megan Kelso!

Happy New Year! Join us for the first meeting of 2018 on January 10, 7-9pm, at Demaray Hall at SPU.

Get Better with Michèle Griskey & Comics vs Illustration with Megan Kelso

Get Better
Join Michèle Griskey for a presentation focused on helping writers and illustrators develop a more objective view of their own work to improve their craft. Participants will learn how to evaluate their skills by asking specific questions about their strengths and areas for improvement. Participants can then gain skills and techniques to apply to their own creative processes to overcome barriers and improve their work.

Comics vs. Illustration
Megan Kelso is a drawer with over 25 years of experience in comics and illustration. She will share her thoughts on the differences and similarities in these two modes of expression. The similarities can be deceptive and the differences subtle; Megan will discuss the different strategies she employs to create effective work in both forms.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

January 2018 events

SCBWI WWA events:

January Northern Network Meeting 

2018. Doesn't that sound like a year full of possibilities? Is one of your New Year's resolutions to write/ illustrate more? Let's ring IN the New Year with a Write-IN/ Draw-IN! Bring a current project to work on.  Nothing current happening? I'll have some writing/ drawing prompts to get those creative juices flowing!
Wednesday, January 3, 7:00 p.m., The Bellingham Barnes & Noble (4099 Meridian Street) Questions? Email Rebecca at

The Critique Group Road Show

Seattle on January 3rd at Victrola Coffee and Art in Seattle (411 15th Ave E) at 8 pm! Come out and learn a proven method for critique group success. Bring 3-5 pages of your work-in-progress for feedback.


January 13th at 10am-1pm at the Charles Pink House on Lawrence in Port Townsend. Space is limited, so RSVP to

Monthly Meeting

January 10
January meeting with Michèle Griskey and Megan Kelso. Demaray Hall at SPU, 7-9. Find more details here

The Great Critique
January 20
The Great Critique! Preregistration required