Faculty

June 2017


Sarah Jane Abbott is an assistant editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books at Simon & Schuster. She started her career at S&S as a publicity assistant in 2013 before joining Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books as editorial assistant in 2014. She is also on the editorial boards of Simon & Schuster’s OfftheShelf.com and
RivetedLit.com. She is actively seeking agented submissions and will accept one CWHV conference submission for Paula Wiseman Books. She loves quirky, character driven picture books with a lot of heart and unique, literary middle grade novels.

Title: “Checking All the Boxes: An Editor’s Perspective on Picture Book Craft”

Learn the essential elements of a strong picture book, from plot to character to read-aloud quality and everything in between, including the answers to common questions like: should I write in rhyme or use illustration notes or does my story need a moral? We’ll identify and analyze the strengths of published picture books with craft exercises geared to creating compelling plot arcs and characters.


John M. Cusick is an agent with Folio Jr. / Folio Literary Management, representing picture books, middle-grade, and young adult novels. He is also the author of GIRL PARTS and CHERRY MONEY BABY (Candlewick Press), as well as a regular speaker at writers’ conferences. You can find him online at www.JohnMCusickcom and on twitter, @johnmcusick.

Title: “How to Be a Writer Without Losing Your Mind: Balancing Work, Life and Craft”




Brett Duquette is a Senior Editor at Sterling Publishing. Before becoming an editor, Brett received an MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers. He was a college English professor for several years until joining Sterling Publishing in 2009. His list is comprised of board books, picture books, novelty, classics, middle grade fiction, nonfiction and, licensed titles. He loves new stories and fresh perspectives and is always on the hunt for great writing and beautiful sentences

Title: “Narrative Structure”

“We will examine how to structure novels to keep pace for the reader and to keep on track for the writer. In addition, we will focus on when, in novels, it is appropriate to write about cultures that are or are not our own (diverse voices).”


Harold Underdown is an independent editor and publishing consultant providing critiques, developmental manuscript edits and other services for individuals and publishers. He is the author of THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO CHILDREN’S BOOK PUBLISHING, now in its third edition. He founded and runs “The Purple Crayon,” a respected website with information about children’s publishing, www.underdown.org. He is a frequent speaker/workshop leader at the Highlights Foundation, SCBWI’s national and regional conferences and Kid’s Book Revisions. www.kidsbookrevisions.com

As an in-house editor, he worked at Macmillan, Orchard, and Charlesbridge and has experience in trade and educational publishing. Some of the books he edited are Yumi Heo’s ONE AFTERNOON, Grace Lin’s THE UGLY VEGETABLES, and Larry Pringle’s and Bob Marstall’s AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE. 

Title: “Reader’s Response and Revision Tools: Theory and Practice” 

Reading is not a passive act in which the reader absorbs words from a page. A reader responds to the words, and actively works with an author to tell a story. We will look at what “reader response theory” can teach us, consider how that can help us when assessing a manuscript, and present some tools to use when revising. Bring a manuscript or two for use during the hands-on parts of this presentation.