Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Picture Book Revision Mini-Retreat with Harold Underdown

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Date(s) - 10/20/2017 - 10/22/2017
12:00 am

Christ The King Retreat House
500 Brookford Road - Syracuse, NY 13224


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Picture Book Revision Mini-Retreat with Harold Underdown

Come join us at the peaceful Christ The King Retreat House in Syracuse, NY. For more information on our venue, please visit their website:

This retreat includes meals, lodging, Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul, and one in-person manuscript critique from Harold Underdown. 

If you have any dietary issues (i.e. vegetarian, gluten-free) please contact Kim at Put Revision Mini-Retreat Dietary Concerns in the subject line. 

Critiqe submissions are to be sent to Kim at no later than September 18, 2017. Please put Picture Book Revision Mini-Retreat Manuscript in the subject line. Name your file this way please: Your last name, your first name, title. On the first page put your name, title of piece, word count. If you are an author/illustrator you may include a dummy.

West/Central Upstate NY SCBWI, October 20 (7:00 p.m.) to October 22 (3:30 p.m.), 2017


Do you have a picture book manuscript—fiction or narrative nonfiction—that needs work? Do you wish you could learn techniques that would help you revise and re-imagine not only this manuscript, but future ones?

Then come to the Picture Book Revision Mini-Retreat. Learn how to revise like an editor by working with Harold Underdown, who has distilled the methods he has used in editing manuscripts with individual clients and in the online Kid's Book Revisions class.

Harold and his colleague in KBR, Eileen Robinson, have offered this curriculum online and in workshops. You can find comments by participants here: Or you can view a video recording of a preview webinar called "The Unwritten: What You Don't Say When Writing Picture Books" here:

We will begin on the Friday evening with a presentation called “Reading and Responding Like an Editor,” in which Harold compares “reader response” theory and the lit. crit. approach, and discusses how to use insights from "reader response" to understand how picture books work. We will also do introductions and set up optional critique groups.

The revision work starts on Saturday morning. We open with a look at methods for getting feedback from others, including making critique groups work better. Later in the weekend, we will learn and try out a variety of techniques for self-editing, from big picture revision down to copy-editing and other methods to use to polish a manuscript, working on your own or with a partner. We will also explore methods to use to create new material for a story or otherwise "re-imagine" it.

Outside of the presentation time, there's time for you to write, to revise, to try out the techniques you’ve just learned, to work with other participants in critique groups, and to meet with Harold one-on-one for critiques. When he’s not meeting about critiques, Harold will be around for advice, consultation, or just to chat.


Harold Underdown is an independent editor and publishing consultant; he does critiques, helps to develop manuscripts, and provides other editorial and consulting services for individuals and publishers.

Harold enjoys teaching, and in that role wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Children's Book Publishing, now in its third edition. He founded and runs "The Purple Crayon," a respected web site with information about the children's publishing world at He speaks and gives workshops through the Highlights Foundation, SCBWI's national and regional conferences, and Kid’s Book Revisions (offering online and on-site tutorials, webinars, and workshops in partnership with Eileen Robinson:

As an in-house editor, he worked at Macmillan, Orchard, and Charlesbridge, and has experience in trade and educational publishing. Among the books he has edited are Yumi Heo's One Afternoon, Larry Pringle's and Bob Marstall's An Extraordinary Life, Lisa Rowe Fraustino's Ash, Grace Lin's The Ugly Vegetables, and Sneed Collard's and Michael Rothman's The Forest in the Clouds.


Sessions at Mini-Retreat


5:00-6:00 Arrival and settling in

Supper 6:00

Friday evening, 7:00-9:00,  "Reading and Responding Like an Editor" presentation, schedule review, introductions, and initial critique group set-up.



Breakfast 8:00-9:00

Saturday, 9-10:30, "Getting Feedback from Others," including critique group tips.

Saturday, 10:30-12:30, writing/critique group time with Harold on call

Lunch 12:30

Saturday, 1:30-3:00, writing/critique group time with Harold on call

Saturday, 3:00-6:00, individual critique meetings and writing/critique group time

Supper 6:00

Saturday, 7-9, "Re-Imagining Your Picture Book," creative strategies to find new approaches and material.



Breakfast 8:00-8:30

Sunday, 8:30-9:30, "Big Picture Revision"

Sunday, 9:30-11:30, remaining individual critique meetings and writing time

Sunday, 11:30-12:30, writing/critique group time with Harold on call

Lunch 12:30

Sunday, 1:30-3:30, "Tightening and Polishing," followed by final questions, lessons learned, and goals