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

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Sign on for net neutrality

Are you an Author's Guild member? (If not, perhaps you should be.) Read the Guild's letter to the FCC regarding the upcoming vote on net neutrality and, if you agree that the regulations about to be repealed should be upheld, sign on here.

For better or worse, SCBWI has traditionally stayed away from most political advocacy, other than those directly related to literacy. The Guild takes a much more active approach to issues that affect authors, illustrators, and publishers, ranging from copyright infringement to First Amendment topics. That's one of the many reasons to consider Guild membership, too. Learn more.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Wednesday, December 13 - Book Events that Change Lives

Please join us on Wednesday, December 13, at Seattle Pacific University (SPU) in Demaray Hall from 7-9 pm. We’ve got goings-on a-plenty, from our pre-meeting Annual Cookie Exchange to a stellar panel talk on “Book Events That Change Lives.” We’ll also be offering Passport holders a last chance to sign up for the Great Critique held on January 20, 2018. You won’t want to miss this meeting!

What: Book Events that Change Lives. Join Kim Baker as she moderates a panel with Linda Johns, and authors, librarians, and media specialists who host and present at a variety of library and school events. Learn how to market yourself to public and private schools, the benefits of a book signing at a public library, how to build audience, and more!
When: Wednesday, December 13, 7-9 pm.
Where: SPU, Demaray Hall. Parking is free in commuter lots after 5 p.m. except where noted by signs.

The Official Cookie Exchange Rules:
· Make at least one dozen cookies – three cookies on a plate to be judged. The rest are for general scarfing.
· Label the plate with your name, your category (most beautiful or most delicious) and the name of your cookie.
· Set them up before 6:30 pm. You will be directed to the setup area by Snack Mistress Milagros.
· Contest closes at 6:45 pm, to give judges time to argue about “mouthfeel,” “depth of flavor” and “locally-foraged toothsome essence.”

Winner will receive PRIZES. FAME. GLORY!

And don’t forget the annual Book Exchange!
· Bring up to five kid-lit books you no longer have room for.
· Take only as many books as you bring.

Extra books will be donated to Kinder Konnection ( and a non-profit that helps underserved school children in Washington State.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Regional December Events

December 2
Martha Brockenbrough and Susan Adrian fill Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park with holiday cheer for LOVE, SANTA and NUTCRACKED.

December 3
Join Janet Lee Carey for a Chickens Christmas story time and sing along at The Neverending Bookshop. For more family fun, attend the  Bothell Tree Lighting ceremony at 5 pm, then come to the bookstore for cozy cocoa, yummy treats and the Chickens Christmas Celebration! 

December 3
HERE WE ARE with Oliver Jeffers at University Bookstore. Tickets required.

December 6
The Critique Group Roadshow hits Issaquah!


December 6
Northern Network MeetingCome share new work and get feedback on it. Bring a picture book manuscript, a few pages of a novel, or a few illustrations, and we’ll celebrate your creativity!
(Don’t be timid. We promise not to throw rotten tomatoes at you! :) )

Date: Wednesday, December 6, 20177:00 p.m.
Location: The Bellingham Barnes & Noble (4099 Meridian Street)
Questions? Email Rebecca at

December 6
The Other Side: SCBWI Peninsula Kidlit Drink Night, Wednesday December 6th  6 pm at The Pourhouse. We have the “Living Room Space” reserved. Just look for the friendly faces!
Share news, tips, support and conversation. Hope to see new and old faces, pre-published, published children’s book authors and illustrators and those involved in children’s books in any way.

December 9
Suzanne Kaufman reads Confiscated at Third Place Books in Seward Park.

December 9
Corinna Luyken will be on hand at Secret Garden for the Ballard Art Walk.

December 13
SCBWI WWA December meeting, book donation, and cookie-fest! 

December 15
The Whatsits (Kevan Atteberry, Ben Clanton, Jennifer Mann, Elizabeth Rose Stanton, and Wendy Wahman!) will be at University Bookstore talking and signing books. 

December 18 ⛄️
In lieu of an office party, join us an SCBWI WWA Holiday Happy Hour, 6-8, at Percy's in Ballard! Good cheer, HH prices on food and drinks, plus a tarot reader on site. Kick off the holidays with some creative comrades! 

December 20
The Critique Group Road Show hits Tacoma!

Events will be added periodically.  Did we miss something? 
Email us at

Double-check times and whatnot with bookstores before you set out for events. If you snap a great picture, tag us at @scbwiwwa on Instagram and/or Twitter, and we'll try to repost. If you have good news or an event coming up, let us know!

Support book culture.
Support independent bookstores and libraries.
Support authors.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November Book Events

November 9
William Joyce will be at Third Place Books Ravenna to talk about SANTA CALLS.

November 10
Shannon Messenger is at University Bookstore to talk about NIGHTFALL, the latest in her Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

November 12
Join Suzanne Kaufman for the launch party of CONFISCATED! at Secret Garden at 3 p.m.

November 15
The Peninsula Network meets up for a Kid Lit Drink Night at The Pourhouse in Port Townsend at 6 p.m.! All welcome.

November 15, too
Marissa Meyer shares RENEGADES, the first book in her new series, at Third Place Books LFP. Signing line tickets available with purchase.

November 19
Up and comer Jeff Kinney rolls into town to make THE GETAWAY from University Bookstore. Tickets required.

November 19: 19th Harder

November 25
Join Elizabeth Rose Stanton for a special story time at Third Place Books, Seward Park!

December 3
HERE WE ARE with Oliver Jeffers at University Bookstore. Tickets required.

Double-check times and whatnot with bookstores before you set out for events. If you snap a great picture, tag us at @scbwiwwa on Instagram and/or Twitter, and we'll try to repost. If you have good news or an event coming up, let us know!

Support book culture.
Support independent bookstores and libraries.
Support authors.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Featured Illustrator: Faith Pray

Faith Pray is our Featured Illustrator for November/December! Faith was the Booster Award winner at the 25th SCBWI Western Washington Conference for Writers and Illustrators this past spring. Faith is a book-loving writer/illustrator living in Port Townsend, Washington. She regularly wrangles four wildebeest-children, and make art and stories in all her extra corners.

Can you briefly explain your creative process, favorite mediums, etc?
I work mostly in pencils, colored pencils, watercolor, and watercolor sticks, but am always exploring new feels.

I'm drawn to pencils. It's my most portable medium, and keeps me without excuse when traveling to kids' soccer practices and violin lessons. Blackwing animator pencils are quite fun, because the eraser is bundled into the pencils, so I have less chance of losing my eraser or having it get all smudged-up from lead.  

I like to add color and texture in with watercolor paints, Polycolor oil pencils, Prismacolors, watercolor sticks, and Graphitint sticks. After I have a base drawing or painting, I scan it to my computer and tidy everything up with Photoshop.

Where do you find your ideas? Do you have a process?
I try to carve out sketch and dream time every day. I read. I fill sketchbooks and notebooks with concepts, scribbles, characters, sketches. It also helps that I am surrounded by kids 15 hours a day. Kids are my daily source of oddity and inquiry.

I have a burning goal to make art and words happen every day. If I miss a day of creative breath, I get itchy. I think that constant creative practice helps grow my ideas.

How do you deal with creative blocks?
I use sticky notes to shuffle a story that's confusing. I switch from words to sketches if my story won't eek out. I switch to words if my sketches need more story. I have out-loud arguments - with myself - and often. I read books on craft.  I hunt for story lightning to strike, and if it doesn't, I keep hunting.

I push myself with online illustration challenges. In different seasons, I've enjoyed SCBWI's monthly "Draw It" prompts, Twitter's #Colour_Collective weekly prompts, as well as prompts from illustrator friends.

Who are your illustrator heroes?

Did you have any favorite children’s books as a child?
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken.
Rainbabies (Laura Mehmed, Jim LaMarche)
The Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker.

What’s inspiring you and your work right now?
I'm inspired any time I get to play with pencils and paint. Extra inspired when I get to connect with illustrator and writer friends, meet up at conferences, or have virtual chats. I'm thrilled to be taking a Writing for Children class with SCBWI-WWA's Jolie Stekly this Fall.

Any words of wisdom you want to share?
I really want a magic wand that will magick me into an accomplished author/illustrator, but my best magic spell is still the tried-and-true one: Keep it up. Every day. Don't give up.

And as much as I want to grow into a published author-illustrator, I want even more to be a learner, to create my best, find joy in the making, and spread love wherever I go.

I'm thankful for each day I get to put my creative spin into the world, and so grateful for this booster award. Thank you, SCBWI-WWA!

Thank you, Faith!
You can view Faith Pray’s portfolio here.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

SCBWI WWA November meeting next week in BELLEVUE!

Our November meeting is coming up this Wednesday, November 8, 7-9pm, and 
this month only the meeting will be held at Bellevue College N201.

Not sure where to go? Here's a map, and there's free parking (look for signs). Join us for Poetry Power with Sean Petrie & Critique Group 101 with Mark Maciejewski.

Poetry Power
Want to break through writer’s block? Add some panache to your prose? On-the-spot poetry does both! Discover how the process of creating instant poetry can help put words on the page, enliven your writing, and even generate new story ideas. Poetry can provide tools for overcoming writer’s block, boost writing confidence, enliven existing text, and produce new story ideas. Plus, it’s fun.
There will be vintage typewriters on hand, if you want to try it old-school style!

Critique Group 101
Join I Am Fartacus author Mark Maciejewski as he shares best practices for creating productive and lasting critique groups. He is a member of an intensive weekly critique group, The Papercuts, which he counts as a major factor in his writing success. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Inside Story is on November 4th!

Don’t forget! Inside Story is coming up on Saturday, Nov. 4., 2:00pm until 4:00 pmat the downtown Bellevue Library (1111 110th Ave. NE in Bellevue).

Meet and greet 17 local children’s authors and illustrators including: Ruth Austin, Bonny Becker, Martha Brockenbrough, Dori Hillestad Butler, Laurel Gale, Melissa Goodman, Lois V. Harris, Amanda Hosch, Kelly Jones, Suzanne Kaufman, Karen Lewis, Margaret Read MacDonald, Lisa L. Owens, Michaele Razi, Karen S. Robbins, Laurie Ann Thompson and Wendy Wahman.

Hear 2-minute “behind the scenes” stories from each author or illustrator about their recently published books. Win (and purchase) autographed books. Mingle with your fellow children’s book lovers.

Hope to see you there!