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.

Here are some RESOURCES  you might find helpful regarding critique groups.

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 scbwiepaCGC@gmail.com the subject line: Critique Groups. I will contact you about other possibilities. If you would like to start your own critique group, I will need the following information:

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 scbwiepaCGC@gmail.com

UPDATE AS OF JUNE 2020:

We want to support you in your writing and illustrating. Critique groups are an essential way to improve your craft. They are also incredibly helpful for learning about the business of writing and illustrating for children.

SCBWI recommends virtual events through 2020. 

We are asking all critique groups to meet virtually or online.

 

ONLINE GROUPS LISTED FIRST, THEN ALPHABETICALLY BY CITY or REGION

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Region: ONLINE–EASTERN PA

Group Name: C & A: Critiques & Accountability

Genres: Fiction & Non-Fiction BB & PB

Writers/Illustrators: Writers (author-illustrators are welcome)

Contact Person: Virginia Law Manning

Contact email: vl_law@yahoo.com

Meeting Place: we will meet virtually on Zoom or a similar format

Meeting Time: to be determined by members (please let me know your preference when you email)

Open to New Members: YES

Additional Notes: I am looking to start a new critique group for motivated SCBWI members who have been writing & revising manuscripts for several years, read picture books regularly, and are active in the children’s book community. I am especially interested in finding members who are teachers, librarians, or booksellers, or who have young children at home. Interested members should have strong critique skills and be eager to receive constructive criticism on their work. The name of the group, C & A: Critiques & Accountability, was chosen because I hope members will encourage each other to focus on their writing and the structure of deadlines and meetings will keep us accountable.

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Region: ONLINE–EASTERN PA

Genres: CB, MG, YA (Fiction only)

Writers/Illustrators: Writers Only

Contact Person: Emily Fillingham

Contact email: Emily.fillingham@gmail.com 

Meeting Place: ONLINE

Meeting Time: Once a month, depending on availability of members

Open to New Members: YES

Additional notes: We’ll submit work to a shared Google folder during the first week of every month, then take the rest of the month to write critiques.  Feel free to submit complete stories (one per month), sections of a larger work, or revisions from a previous submission. Up to 2,500 words per monthly submission.

Meeting Time: Once a month, depending on availability of members

Open to New Members: YES

Additional notes: We’ll submit work to a shared Google folder during the first week of every month, then take the rest of the month to write critiques.  Feel free to submit complete stories (one per month), sections of a larger work, or revisions from a previous submission. Up to 2,500 words per monthly submission.

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Region: ONLINE–EASTERN PA

Genres: CB, MG, YA (Fiction only)

Writers/Illustrators: Writers Only

Contact Person: Emily Fillingham

Contact email: Emily.fillingham@gmail.com 

Meeting Place: ONLINE

Meeting Time: Once a month, depending on availability of members

Open to New Members: YES

Additional notes: We’ll submit work to a shared Google folder during the first week of every month, then take the rest of the month to write critiques.  Feel free to submit complete stories (one per month), sections of a larger work, or revisions from a previous submission. Up to 2,500 words per monthly submission.
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Region: ONLINE–EASTERN PA

Genres: Fiction, Non-fiction, and speculative fiction MG=Middle Grade and YA-Young Adult

Writers/Illustrators: Writers Only

Contact Person: Alyssa Reynoso-Morris

Contact email: alyssareymorris@gmail.com

Meeting Place: ONLINE

Meeting Time: Last Saturday or Sunday of the Month

CLOSED to New Members

Additional notes: We’ll submit work to a shared google folder during the first week of every month, then take the rest of the month to write critiques.  Feel free to submit complete stories (one per month), sections of a larger work, or revisions from a previous submission. Up to 5,000 words per monthly submission.

 

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Region: ONLINE–EASTERN PA

Genre: CB, MG, & YA

Writers/Illustrators: Writers

Contact Person: Alice Berger

Contact email: Alice.berger@yahoo.com

Meeting Place: Online

Meeting Time: N/A

Additional Notes: We’ll submit work to an online forum during the first week of every month, then take the rest of the month to write critiques.  Feel free to submit complete stories (one per month), sections of a larger work, or revisions from a previous submission. Up to 2,500 words per monthly submission.

CLOSED to New Members

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Region: ONLINE–EASTERN PA

Genre: PB & BB

Writers/Illustrators: Both can join!

Contact Person: Caitlin Eslinger

Contact email: Weddcaitlin@gmail.com

Meeting Place: Online

Meeting Time: We would send out manuscripts at the beginning and middle of the month

CLOSED to New Members

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Region: ONLINE–EASTERN PA

Group Name: TBD

Genre: Primarily CB, MG, YA

Writers/Illustrators: Writers

Contact Person: Chris Low

Contact email: chrislowauthor@gmail.com

Meeting Place: ONLINE

CLOSED to New Members

Additional Notes Including Submission Guidelines: We’ll submit work to a shared google folder during the first week of every month, then take the rest of the month to write critiques.  Feel free to submit complete stories (one per month), sections of a larger work, or revisions from a previous submission. Up to 5,000 words per monthly submission.

 

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

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: 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: West Chester

Meeting Time: Weeknights

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

Writers/Illustrators: Writers and writer/illustrators

Contact Person: Tim Canny

Contact Email: timcanny@verizon.net

Meeting place: Lawrence Park Shopping Center, Broomall

Meeting Time: Saturday mornings; monthly

OPEN to new members? YES

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: 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: LACAWANNA & SURROUNDING AREAS

Genres: BB/PB/Early Readers

Writers/Illustrators: Writers Only

Contact Person: Josette Abruzzini

Contact Email: Josette.abruzzini@gmail.com

Meeting Place: While the weather is nice we plan to meet at local parks, then move to indoor cafes come winter. Since we are planning on trying new locations it’s best to email Fawn and find out where and when we are meeting for the month

Meeting Time: Friday evenings; monthly (for now–this may change to Sundays or another day as it meets the needs of group members)

Open to New Members? YES

Additional Notes: Notes: We will be exchanging our manuscripts via email the week before we meet so we will have the critiques ready to discuss at the meeting.  When submitting your email please be use 12 pt font, and be sure to include your name and title on each page.  We are going to be open to allowing children to attend if you cannot arrange a sitter.

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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

Additional 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: 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:  Slate Cafe, Lititz

Meeting Time: Sundays; monthly

Open to New Members? YES

Additional Notes: Contact Diane for details

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Region: LANCASTER COUNTY (Lititz-Area)

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

Writers/Illustrators: Writers & Writer-Illustrators

Contact Person: Pradeep Velugubantla

Contact Email: pradeep.velugubantla@gmail.com

Meeting Place:  Lititz Area Mennonite School

Meeting Time: Sunday afternoons; monthly

Open to New Members? Contact Pradeep Velugubantla

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 Pradeep Velugubantla for information on membership availability.

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Region: LEHIGH VALLEY/ NORTHAMPTON COUNTY

Genres: PB, CB, MG, YA

Writers/Illustrators: Yes

Contact Person: Mark Magro

Contact Email: mmagro26@gmail.com

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

Meeting Time:  Tuesday evenings; monthly

Open to New Members? YES

Additional Notes: 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: Tammy Burke

Contact Email: deirsprite@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 

Group Name: Write On!

Genres: BB, PB, CB, MG, Poetry

Writers/Illustrators: Writers & Illustrators are welcome to join

Contact Person: Sally Silverman & Suzanne Shockley

Contact Email: sallysilverman@comcast.net OR suzanneshockley2@gmail.com

Meeting Place:  via Zoom

Meeting Time:  Monthly; first Tuesday of each month; 7-9 PM

Open to New Members: YES

Additional Notes & Submission Guidelines: Submissions via Word document due the week before each meeting

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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: Steve Silbiger

Contact Email: silbigers@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: 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: MONTGOMERY COUNTY

Group Name: Main Line Writers Group

Genres: PB, CB, MG

Writers/Illustrators: Writers

Contact Person: Sarah Heaton

Contact Email: thebestsarahinthewholewideworld@hotmail.com

Meeting Place: Rosemont, PA

Meeting Time: Weekday days; monthly

CLOSED to New Members

Additional Notes: Submit to the group 1 week ahead of time. We meet in person to discuss each other’s work.

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Region: PHILADELPHIA–CENTER CITY (Group 1 of 2)

Genres: Picture Book

Writers/Illustrators: Writers

Contact Person: Lois Wickstrom

Contact Email: reluctantspy@gmail.com

Meeting Place: Currently online (location TBD once safe to do so)

Meeting Time: Group 1–Friday evenings, monthly; Group 2–Tuesday evenings 1-2 times/month

Open to New Members: YES

Additional Notes: If you are interested in joining this group, please contact Lois. Once we have a few members we can determine the best time/day to meet.

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Region: PHILLY–CENTER CITY (Group 2 of 2)

Group Name: Graphic Novel & Comics Critique Group

Genres: All categories of graphic novels & comics

Writers/Illustrators: writers, illustrators & writer-illustrators

Contact Person: Kaela Parkhouse

Contact Email: kparkhouse@gmail.com

Meeting Place: Spread Bagelry, 2401 Walnut Street

Meeting Time: Friday mornings; monthly

Open to New Members: YES

Additional Notes: This is a new group open to anyone working on comics and graphic novels for teens and children. Looking for 6 people who are committed to meeting monthly. Bring a piece that you are working on if you want to receive feedback from the group. Once a group is established, work will be submitted 5 days before meet date. Please contact Kaela if you’re interested in joining and include a brief bio and a link to your website if you have one.

 

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Region: PHILADELPHIA (Rittenhouse/Fitler/Grad Hospital/Logan Sq area)

Genres: PB

Writers/Illustrators: writers & illustrators

Contact Person: Michael Toledano

Contact Email: michaelstoledano@gmail.com

Meeting Place: Fitler Square Park when the weather is nice; Over Google Meets when weather is lousy

Meeting Time: Once a month during the week. Ideally sometime between 10am-3pm

Open to New Members: YES

Additional Notes: Please contact Michael for more information

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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:  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

CLOSED to New Members

Additional Notes: This group will be capped at 6 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.

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: 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: 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