SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Local Critique Groups

EASTERN PA SCBWI AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR CRITIQUE GROUPS 

Critique groups can be a key resource in your journey as an author and/or illustrator. I find surrounding myself with creative people inspires me. They help me brainstorm ideas when I’m stuck and see flaws in my work. But they also point out my strengths as a writer and offer me support when I need it most.

But critique groups work best if the group is a good fit and all members challenge themselves to make the experience valuable for others. The group leader’s job is to coordinate and communicate the group’s rules and meeting times so that members come prepared and participate in a way that breeds a positive and supportive community. I hope you find a group that helps you be the best writer and/or illustrator you can be. And I doubly hope you’ll make the effort to be that partner for others.

Please Note: You must be an active SCBWI member in order to join an SCBWI Critique Group. Please make sure your membership is up-to-date. Leaders, please make sure to ask any prospective members if they are active SCBWI members before allowing them to join your group.

EPA SCBWI Critique Groups are often held on a monthly basis, in communities throughout Eastern Pennsylvania. Each group is unique, shaped by the talents and focus of the Critique Group Leader and participants.

On this site you will see a list of critique groups throughout Eastern PA. If the group is open to new members, please contact the leader directly. If you do not see a group open in your area or an online group that meets your needs, please contact the Critique Group Coordinator, Heather Pierce Stigall, at heatherstigallcm@aol.com the subject line: Critique Groups. I will contact you about other possibilities.

Please include:

1) Region: The EPA county where the group will meet.

2) Group name: Optional (The Group Leader can select the name or, once formed, the group can decide.)

3) Genres: List all formats that you would like to critique. BB=Board Book, PB=Picture Book, CB=Chapter Book, MG=Middle Grade, YA-Young Adult, NA=New Adult; fiction/non-fiction, Poetry

4) Writers/Illustrators:Do you want writers/and or illustrators to join?

5) Contact Person: Your name

6) Contact email: Your preferred email address

7) Meeting Place: You can be specific or more general, for example, “Barnes & Noble, Fairless Hills.”

8) Meeting Time: Please give a sense of weekday/weekend and day/evening and meeting frequency.

9) Open to New Members: Yes or No

10) Additional notes including submission guidelines: Optional

 

Below you’ll find a listing of critique groups within Eastern PA. We ask that groups help us keep this information current by emailing changes to Heather Pierce Stigall at heatherstigallcm@aol.com

 

ONLINE GROUPS LISTED FIRST, THEN ALPHABETICALLY BY CITY or REGION

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Region: ONLINE–EASTERN PA

Group Name: The Highlighters

Genre: Mostly PBs, but some members also write poetry, MG, and CB

Writers/Illustrators: Writers

Contact Person: Becky Scharnhorst

Contact email: beckyscharnhorst@gmail.com

Meeting Place: ONLINE

CLOSED to new members

Additional Notes: We send manuscripts out at the beginning of every month and sometimes in the middle of the month.

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Region: ONLINE–EASTERN PA

Group Name: WNYR – Writing Non-Fiction for Young Readers

Genre: All categories of NF (birth to YA)

Writers/Illustrators: Writers

Contact Person: Rani Iyer

Contact email: iyerani@gmail.com

Meeting Place: ONLINE

Open to new members? YES

Additional Notes: The group will have a max. of 10 writers. It is open to published & non-published writers. The critiques will be submitted via online forum.  All members submit once per month during open period of submission (kept open for a week to 10 days). If you miss submitting critiques or new materials, you must drop out. Members can submit revisions or parts of longer work. Word limit for submission is 2,000 words max, from single manuscript. NO critiques in November or December but restarts promptly on Jan 2. Min of three members, max of 10 required to run this group.

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Region: ONLINE–LANCASTER/EASTERN PA

Group Name: Java & PB

Genre: PB

Writers/Illustrators: Writers

Contact Person: Katie Caprino

Contact email: kathryncaprino@hotmail.com

Meeting Place: ONLINE

CLOSED to New Members

Additional Notes: we send manuscripts out at the beginning of each month

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Region: BERKS COUNTY

Genres: PB and CB

Writers/Illustrators: Writers

Contact Person: Nadine Poper

Contact Email:  teachna@hotmail.com

Meeting place: Fleetwood Library

Meeting Time: Tuesday evenings; monthly

Open to new members? YES

Additional notes:  Members should have knowledge in current children’s literature. We open each meeting with any information about upcoming writing opportunities such as webinars and workshops, and the children’s book you are currently reading.  Members submit manuscripts for critique 1 week prior to meeting. Maximum of 6 members. This group is not currently seeking YA.

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Region: BERKS COUNTY

Group Name: Reading Writers

Genres: MG and YA

Writers/Illustrators: Writers

Contact Person: Lorraine Storms

Contact Email: lryanstorms@gmail.com

First Meeting place: Exeter Community Library, 4569 Prestwick Dr, Reading, 19606, Children’s Area Study Room

Meeting Time: Contact Lorraine for details

Open to new members? YES

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Region: BUCKS COUNTY (Newtown, New Hope)

Genres: PB, CB, MG, YA

Writers/Illustrators: Both

Contact Person: Barbara Clark

Contact Email: bnknclark@gmail.com

Meeting Place: Corner Bakery Cafe, 3 West Road, Newtown, PA 18940

Meeting Time: Weekday, during the day; monthly

Open to New Members? YES

Additional Notes including Submission Guidelines: Members email manuscripts to all group members one week prior to meetings.

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Region: BUCKS COUNTY (Warrington)

Group name: Pencilvania Children’s Book Writer Critique Group

Genre: PB, MS, Poetry (Open to any children’s book genre)

Contact Person: Ali Pichardo

Contact Email: apichardo56@gmail.com

Meeting Place: Wegmans, Warrington, PA

Meetings: Fridays; weekly

CLOSED to new members. Ali Pichardo is happy to share her tips on how to start your own group.

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Region: CHESTER COUNTY (West Chester)

Genres: Mainly kid lit, but all genres welcome

Writers/Illustrators: Both

Contact Person: Lesley Grigg

Contact Email: mail@lesleygrigg.com

Meeting Place: TBA or online

Meeting Time: Weekend Day or Weeknight

Open to new members: YES

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Region: CUMBERLAND COUNTY (Harrisburg)

Genres: PB and CB

Writers/Illustrators: Writers

Contact Person: Susan Sempeles

Contact Email: write.now@comcast.net

Meeting place: New Cumberland Public Library, 1 Benjamin Plaza, New Cumberland

Meeting Time: Saturday afternoons; monthly

Open to new members? YES

Additional notes: Members meet in person.

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Region: DELAWARE COUNTY 

Genres: PB (primarily PB but other kidlit writing welcome)

Writers/Illustrators: Writers and writer/illustrators

Contact Person: Donna Righi

Contact Email: dmr999@verizon.net

Meeting place: TBD; currently meeting in Drexel Hill area

Meeting Time: Saturdays; monthly (May change per member’s needs)

Open to new members? YES – new members are very welcome!

Additional notes: Ideal Membership: Pre-published and published picture book, kidlit writers, and writer-illustrators. Critique Group Goal: To be a supportive, helpful, informative space where people can feel safe sharing their work.

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Region: DELAWARE/CHESTER COUNTY

Group Name: Del/Chesco

Genres: BB, PB, CB, MG, fiction, non-fiction

Writers/Illustrators: mainly illustrators who also write

Contact Person: Berrie Torgan-Randall

Contact Email: berrietr@hotmail.com

Meeting Place: Rachel Kohl Library, 687 Smithbridge Rd, Glen Mills, PA 19342

Meeting Time: Friday, during the day; monthly

Open to New Members? YES

Additional Notes: Please send a brief bio and website (if you have one), cell phone number and email address. Bring a piece that you are working on if you want to receive feedback from the group

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Region: KING OF PRUSSIA/MALVERN

Genres: PB/CB

Writers/Illustrators: Both

Contact Person: Robin Jordan

Contact Email: Robinamjordan@gmail.com

Meeting Place: Barnes and Noble, Wayne

Meeting Time: Weekday, during the day; monthly

CLOSED to New Members

Additional Notes: Notes: This is a critique group for experienced and dedicated authors.

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Region: LANCASTER

Genres: all genres

Writers/Illustrators: Illustrators

Contact Person: Sheri Hansen

Contact Email: sherichansen@gmail.com

Meeting Place: Prince Street Café

Meeting Time: Monday evenings; please email Sheri for specifics

Open to New Members: YES

Other Notes: This is a new group open to any illustrator who is looking for group feedback, professional community, and the fun and challenge of developing our art ideas together.

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Region: LANCASTER

Group Name:

Genres: PB, CB, MG, YA

Writers/Illustrators: Yes

Contact Person: Eva Polites

Contact Email: evapol@comcast.net

Meeting Place: Panera–Fruitville Pike

Meeting Time: Tuesdays

CLOSED to New Members

Additional Notes including Submission Guidelines if any: Let’s get together!!!

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Region: LANCASTER COUNTY 

Group Name: Lititz Area Children’s Writing Critique Group

Genres: PB, CB, MG, YA, NA – Fiction & Nonfiction

Writers/Illustrators: Writers & Writer-Illustrators

Contact Person: Diane Guscott

Contact Email:  dianeguscott@gmail.com

Meeting Place:  Lititz Public Library

Meeting Time: Weekday Evenings

Open to New Members? YES

Additional Notes: Contact Diane for details

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Region: LANCASTER COUNTY

Genres: PB, CB, MG, YA – Fiction & Nonfiction

Writers/Illustrators: Writers & Writer-Illustrators

Contact Person: Jeanne Moran

Contact Email:  authorjeannemoran@gmail.com

Meeting Place:  Lititz Area Mennonite School

Meeting Time: Sunday afternoons; monthly

Open to New Members? Contact Jeanne Moran

Additional Notes: We share our work-in-progress by email a week before our monthly in-person meeting. When we meet, we offer verbal and written feedback to the author in the form of encouragement and constructive critique. Our guidelines are available on request. Our group is limited to six active members. Please contact Jeanne Moran for information on membership availability.

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Region: LEHIGH VALLEY/ NORTHAMPTON COUNTY

Genres: PB, CB, MG, YA

Writers/Illustrators: Yes

Contact Person: Elizabeth Loane

Contact Email: elizloane@gmail.com

Meeting Place:  Barnes & Nobles, Freemansburg Ave., Bethlehem, PA

Meeting Time:  Tuesday evenings; monthly

CLOSED to New Members

Additional Notes including Submission Guidelines if any: Must be willing to review all genres and be committed to make most meetings.

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Region: LYCOMING COUNTY/WILLIAMSPORT

Genre: PB, CB, MG, YA  Fiction and nonfiction

Writers/Illustrators: Writers only

Contact Person: Amanda Hooper

Contact Email: amandahooper67@gmail.com

Meeting Place: James V. Brown Library, Williamsport

Meeting Time: Monday evenings; monthly

Open to new members: YES

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Region: MONTGOMERY COUNTY (Royersford/Limerick/Collegeville/Norristown/King of Prussia)

Genres: PB (fiction and non-fiction), CB, MG, YA

Writers/Illustrators: All welcome

Contact Person: Marilyn (Molly) Lorenz

Contact Email: mmmlorenz@gmail.com

Meeting Place:  Towne Book Center, Collegeville, PA

Meeting Time:  Tuesday evenings; monthly

CLOSED to New Members

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Region: MONTGOMERY COUNTY

Group Name: Bucks-Mont Children’s Writers

Genres: PB, CB, MG, YA

Writers/Illustrators: All writers

Contact Person: Wendy Greenley

Contact Email: wendy@wendygreenley.com

Meeting Place: Barnes & Noble, North Wales, PA

Meeting Time: Mornings; twice per month

CLOSED to New Members

Additional Notes including Submission Guidelines if any: Manuscripts are exchanged a week in advance online. Comments and manuscripts returned at the meeting. Group size is limited. No “drop ins.”

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Region: PHILLY – CENTER CITY

Group Name: Center City Philly PB Crit Group

Genres: PB

Writers/Illustrators: Writers and author-illustrators

Contact Person: Anna Forester

Contact Email: annaveforrester@gmail.com

Meeting Place: Various locations in Center City

Meeting Time: Wednesday evenings; monthly

CLOSED to New Members. However we do keep a waiting list.

Additional Notes: including Submission Guidelines if any: The group is capped at 8 members and includes both published and unpublished authors and author/illustrators. 4 people present work each month, subbing 1 week in advance of meetings.

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Region: PHILLY – PENNSYLVANIA AVE

Group Name: Philadelphia Writers + Illustrators Crit Group

Genres: PB

Writers/Illustrators: both

Contact Person: Drew Samsoe

Contact Email: missdrewillustration@gmail.com

Meeting Place: Whole Foods Market, 2101 Pennsylvania Avenue

Meeting Time: Tuesday evenings; monthly

CLOSED to New Members: We currently have 11 members and no open positions.

Additional Notes including Submission Guidelines if any:  We are a group of both published and unpublished authors, illustrators, and author-illustrators, focusing on writing while giving art direction.  Work is submitted 5 days before meet date (dummy or manuscript attachments accepted). 5 people present each month with 20 minutes allotted to each work. Members who are absent for meetings are obligated to submit emailed critiques within a week after meet date.

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Region: PHILLY–QUEEN VILLAGE

Group Name: Philadelphia Picture Book Critique Group

Genres: PB

Writers/Illustrators: writers & writer-illustrators

Contact Person: Kristen Rashid

Contact email: kristenrashid@gmail.com

Meeting Place: The Bagel Place, 404 Queen Street 19147

Meeting Time: Friday mornings, monthly; beginning January 2019

Open to New Members: YES

Additional Notes: This group will be capped at 8 active members who are committed to attending the monthly meeting, submitting work on a monthly or bimonthly basis (depending on the number of members), and giving constructive feedback. Please contact Kristen if you are interested in joining, including a brief bio and a link to your website if you have one. Manuscripts/dummies will be sent via email one week in advance of the meeting. Each member will be responsible for providing written and verbal feedback at the in-person meeting. Members who are absent for meetings will be obligated to submit emailed critiques within a week after meet date. No drop ins.

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Region: PHILLY—WESTERN SUBURBS

Group Name: Lancaster Ave Writers’ Group

Genres: MG and YA

Writers/Illustrators: Writers

Contact Person: Laura Parnum

Contact e-mail: lparnum@msn.com

Meeting Place: Panera Bread, 278 East Lancaster Ave, Wynnewood, PA 19096

Meeting Time: usually Thursday evenings; monthly

CLOSED to new members. This group is currently closed to new members, but we keep a waiting list in case a spot opens up.

Additional notes: Members submit 10-30 pages (one member at a time) on a rolling basis every two weeks for critique. We use an online critique format, adding comments to Word documents, which we share using Slack. We also use Slack to communicate questions, comments, suggestions, tools, and writerly resources (such as contests, conferences, and news). We meet once a month to catch up in person, discuss updates in our writer lives, and enjoy one another’s company!

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Region: POCONO MOUNTAINS

Genre: My writing focus: Board Books, Picture Books. (Group Genre: OPEN)

Writers/Illustrators: ALL WELCOME!

Contact Person: Kelly Jean Gillow

Contact Email: kellygillow@countryhomelearning.com

Meeting Place: Country Home Learning & Art Center, 1784 Rt. 209 Suite101 Brodheadsville, Pa.                                    18322 (Across from Wawa)

Meeting Time: Thursday evenings; monthly

Open to New Members? YES

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Region: SCHUYLKILL COUNTY

Genre: PB, CB, MG,

Writer/Illus: Writers, Illustrators and writers/illustrators

Contact Person: Valeria Wicker

Contact email: wickerillustrations@gmail.com

Meeting Place: To be discussed, preferably Pottsville or Orwigsburg public libraries

Meeting Time: Once per month

Open to New Members? YES

Additional notes and submission guidelines: Members should have basic knowledge in children’s literature, structural components such as story arc, current illustration and industry trends. Each member will be forwarding their work by email at least one week before the meeting. Writers/ illustrators may forward their dummies if possible. Illustrators only: JPEG images 200dpi or less. Must be willing to read all members work, provide feedback and commit to attend most meetings.

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Region: SOUTHERN WAYNE COUNTY

Group Name: NEPA Writer Forge

Genres: All genres welcome! [At present, the group mostly consists of YA, NA, and A manuscripts, though occasionally PB, CB, and MG are brought as well.]

Writers/Illustrators: Yes [Again, mostly writers at this time.]

Contact Person: Kristen Strocchia

Contact Email: kcstrocchia@gmail.com

Meeting Place: Please email Kristen Strocchia to find out the next meeting date and location

Meeting Time: Once per month.

Open to New Members? Yes and No…Our current group is comfortably full, but we are open to splitting into genre specific/locale accessible groups if there are other interested writers in the area.

Additional Notes including Submission Guidelines if any: Each member’s critique lasts approximately 20 minutes including: time to read your manuscript portion aloud, and time for each other member to provide feedback. Generally this time period allows for 7-9 pages to be shared and critiqued comfortably.

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That’s it for now, if you didn’t find a group in your area or you’re interested in starting one, please email EPA Critique Group Coordinator Heather Pierce Stigall at heatherstigallcm@aol.com

Thanks and talk to you soon!

Happy writing & illustrating,

Heather Stigall

Critique Group Coordinator Eastern PA SCBWI