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SCBWI International

Northern Ohio Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators


List-Service Discussion Board

As a NOSCBWI member, you may take advantage of this Yahoo Group Message Board which connects you with other writers/illustrators all over Ohio — from Cleveland to Cincinnati and Youngstown to Toledo!

  • Get up-to-date info on regional meetings and speakers events
  • Learn about workshops, classes and conferences
  • Find or start a critique group
  • Get updates on industry news
  • Share triumphs and goals with other writers and illustrators

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To get started or if you are having difficulty with login, contact the Ohio List-serve Moderator.

Online Critique Groups

Picture Book Writers Critique group
The group is currently at capacity and unable to accept new members. Its members are from all over Ohio. Moderated by Susan Collett.

Illustrators Critique Group
NoH-SCBWI Illustrations Critique on Google Groups is limited to Children's Book Illustrations. Members may post links to artwork hosted on other sites. There is no image hosting on this site. Moderated by Anne Beekman.

In-Person Writing Critique Groups

West Akron
A group of writers and illustrators who are committed to children's literature and want to share and network with like-minded people. We welcome people who are interested in any genre, from books and stories for babies through young adult.
Meetings: Last Wednesday of the month • 6:30 until 8:15pm • Ayres/West branch of the Akron Public Library
Contact: Karen Fabre • krfab@earthlink.net

Meetings consist of sharing good news, a speaker or discussion on a writing topic and optional critique of members' work. Guests are welcome but continuing attendance requires SCBWI membership.
Meetings: Third Wednesday of each month • 7:00 to 9:00 p.m • Upper Arlington Library, Tremont Road
Contact: Andrea Hall • coscbwi@yahoo.com

Meetings are held in various locations and new members are welcome.
Meetings: Third Tuesday of each month • Contact email address below for more information.
Contact: Nancy Parish • HBloss@aol.com • 513-469-0861

A Dayton Area Critique Group was recently formed.
Meetings: Contact email address below for more information.
Liz Ball • aerball@aol.com

Shaker Heights
The Eastside "Heights Writers" critique group is open to all genre of children's writing & illustrating.
Meetings: Meets monthly on the 3rd or 4th Saturday of the month • 9:30 a.m. • Shaker Heights Main Library 2nd floor meeting room (corner of Van Aken Blvd. & Lee Rd.)
Contact: Beth Choi or Kevin McMahon 

The Northeast Ohio Children's Writers, a group of mixed genre children's writers and illustrators
Meetings: Second Wednesday of each month • 6:30 p.m. • Solon Library
Contact: Mary Ryan • ryanmaryc@aol.com

Solon - Middle Grades and Young Adult Authors
Manuscripts are e-mailed at the beginning of the month for review and discussed at our meeting. We critique MG and YA only.
Meetings: Last Monday of each month • 6:00 p.m. • Borders Books, Kruse Drive, Solon
Contact: Kim Van Sickler • kimvansickler@gmail.com
This group is currently full and not able to take new members. Thank you for your interest.

The group is currently accepting new, Toledo area, members.
Meetings: Quarterly, operating as an online group the remainder of the year.
Contact: Position is open.
To volunteer coordinating this group, please contact Victoria Selvaggio • vselvaggio@windstream.net • 330-798-2474

We read a chapter in a writing craft book each month, discuss our journey and do critiques whenever members are ready. The group is currently accepting new members.
Meetings:  First Thursday of every month • 7-9 p.m. • Barnes & Noble Crocker Park in Westlake
Contact: Bonnie Sweebe

Guidelines for successful Critique Groups

Select a time and meeting place

  • It will be impossible to please everyone, but a poll will reveal the day/time and location that is most convenient for the largest number of participants. 
  • A meeting place that is public and offers refreshments is most comfortable. The public library is ideal. Many bookstores and coffee shops welcome small groups with advanced notice.  Meeting in private homes can be stressful on the host, and causes problems for guests with allergies.

Form a group

  • Set a maximum number of members for the group. Four to eight members is ideal. Groups over 10 may become unmanageable.
  • Set a focus for members that are interested in a specific genre, for example:
    • Picture Books
    • Middle Grades and Young Adults
    • Non-fiction
  • Keep an up-to-date list of attendees with phone numbers and emails. Make this available to all group members.
  • Send emails and set up a telephone chain if meeting must be changed or canceled due to weather, holidays, etc.
  • Draw on all members to help out so all the planning doesn't fall on one person.

Wear nametags

  • Nametags relieve the pressure of remembering names for those familiar faces
  • Require posting of full names online. Anonymity breeds malicious comments without repercussions.
Set rules & time limits
  • Select a Moderator. This is usually the group coordinator, if they are present. The moderator must be prepared to firmly stop conversations that are not in the spirit of constructive criticism or go over the set time limit.
  • Begin promptly at the determined time. Allow for brief introductions with socialization time at the end.
  • Use a timer. When the bell rings the discussion must move on to allow everyone a chance to have their work discussed. A time limit of 5-10 minutes is usually sufficient for discussion. If a topic is going over time,the moderator can request that it can be carried on between individuals after the meeting.

Keep on Topic

  • Critiques should be limited to Children's Books writing. Do not spend excessive time on questions that can be found on other sites or better answered on other message boards, such as about agents, contracts, or queries.
  • Authors should indicate any special concerns or problems they would like addressed in critique. For example, questions about pacing, word selection or character development.
  • Unless it is an illustration group, writers should refrain from discussing artwork. In Children’s Book publishing,  unless someone is both author and illustrator, writers seldom have any say in the illustrations that will appear with their words.

Giving a Critique

  • Be honest, but polite. Your opinion should focus on the work, never on the author or artist.
  • Give one or two concise comments as to not overwhelm the person being reviewed.
  • Be specific and constructive. If you don't like something, explain why you don't think it is working and offer a solution.

Receiving a critique

  • Ask and be prepared for an honest response and don't be defensive!
  • You may not agree with every opinion given. Accept them graciously or disregard them without retort and move on.
  • Take notes so you can remember what was said when you are ready to make revisions.
  • Thank the reviewers, even if you don’t agree with them.

Recommendations for successful on-line groups

  • Do not endlessly quote previous threads. Delete all but relevant portions of the previous message.
  • Do not permit anonymous responses. Give full names.
  • Moderators may reserve the right to delete offensive or off topic comments.
  • Screen for spammers. Set up your message board so people must request an invitation to join. On Google Groups you can choose to write a custom question that will appear on your group's sign-up page. 

Online Critiquing Resources

The following resources are not affiliated with the SCBWI. Inclusion here does not imply endorsement, and all members are encouraged to seek the advise of legal council as needed.

Starting a Critique Group
by Mary Rosenblum

The Give and Take of Critique
by Linda Sue Park

E-mail Critiquing
by LeAnn Campbell

Nuts And Bolts of Critiquing
by Tina Morgan

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, or How to Choose a Writers' Group
by Holly Lisle


©2010. Northern Ohio Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators.
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