Hi Readers,


critiques (Photo credit: sfegette)

I  have waited to publish this article. It took place three months ago but it is still something I want to share with you.

My first SCBWI, (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators),  Picture Book critique group was a huge success. I had garnered the names from the piles of names given us after the October SCBWI, Mid Atlantic Conference and sent out blanket emails for those interested in picture books and the Leesburg Area to return my emails. It took most of Nov and December and then I had a list. But it was decided to wait till after the holidays to meet.

Finally mid January — holidays are over- I sent a blanket email announcing the obvious and could anyone meet Feb. 10, two pm.? Most could. I went to the library and requested a room which fortunately was vacant for that day and time.

We had a grand time getting to know each other and what we were writing. Then we critiqued three manuscripts. I and another didn’t get to have a crit. I wasn’t ready and for the other person there just was not enough time. We’ll go first the next meeting. In a month.

One person had the perfect manuscript for Highlights magazine. We critiqued it and found very few things wrong with it. We gave a few suggestions and hope she submits it. I hope she comes the next month to tell us what she did.

The way I used to do crits was to read the manuscript silently to ourselves and write down the suggestions on the ms. Someone here in this group suggested since our books were going to be read out loud to have someone read our ms out loud and tell the author our suggestions. It worked great. No ones feelings got hurt that I can see and most wanted even more suggestions than we could give. I told the group about the Oreo method and we stuck with that. Most had some idea of how to critique and had done it before.

We’ve met three times since then and it has been a boon to me.(I keep forgetting to ask if the Highlights Magazine submission got accepted.) I’ve heard others say it’s real helpful to them, too. I’m so glad I have this critique group.

And another good thing: I am here today as well just as an author’s opinion, not as a whole guest post. Note I said author? IS that bad? Spouting of at the mouth and then saying I’m an author? Remember my post of Aspiring Writer vs Author? I still question. Especially since I don’t have a print book yet. Maybe once I see it. See the real book, I’ll feel better for it. I’ll feel like an author. Having a book that doesn’t download properly doesn’t quite make it. Anyway, check it out OK? Maybe it’ll be interesting to you. Cher has some interesting questions. See you there.

Book cover for Annie's Special Day My photo is of my children’s book which is having some more delays in publishing. Although some people can get an E version from   not everyone can get it downloaded properly. The publisher is committed to making it work. It can be difficult to keep a web site working properly. Soon my Nook, Kindle and Amazon links will go up. And sooner still a print copy is coming out. Yippee! I’ll be sure and let you know when that happens OK?

Amazon Kindle wordmark.

Amazon Kindle wordmark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you have a critique group and how do you give your critiques?

About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
This entry was posted in Clara Bowman-Jahn, Clarike Bowman-Jahn, personal growth, social networking, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    I’ve been attending a PB crit group through our SCBWI chapter. I missed the last one, because I was trying to finish some things before conference. Once I get through my first round of memoir revisions, I hope to join one of the 12x groups. It just didn’t make sense to join earlier. Good luck with the book.


    • clarbojahn says:

      Thanks, Stacy. I do love my group. Can one join the 12x group late? I also didn’t join in the group because it didn’t make sense for me then, at the time it was being formed but I’d love to be considered now.

      So proud of you for doing the memoir revisions already. You’ve done a lot this year. Congrats your self. 🙂


  2. Catherine Johnson says:

    That is great going to a live critique session. I hope you get lots from it.
    Oh my that cover is gorgeous, I’m so happy for you. I have no luck with e-books, will there be a paperback version one day? Congrats Clar!


  3. So frustrating, the delays with your book! I hope they get everything working properly soon! Love the sound of your critique group, but wondering… what is the Oreo method? Going over to check out your guest post 🙂


    • clarbojahn says:

      Thanks, Susanna. I know they are doing everything they can but it is frustrating waiting till I can download it properly and maybe another can download it! One of my publishers said she had no problem.

      Thanks for checking out my guest post. Hope you liked it. 🙂

      Oreo method is saying two good statements in-between a bad or critical statement. I’ll do a post on it soon.


  4. The cover of your book is gorgeous, hope it comes out in hard cover soon. Good for you organising the critique group. I to wondered what the Oreo method was.


  5. suzicate says:

    I’ve belonged to a writer’s group but it’s so large they don’t have time for critiques which disappointed me. I went to another “critique” group and was disappointed at how much time was wasted with a man blaring how another should change his book ready for publication…not simple changes but entire scenes which changed the outcome of the plot. His opinions were not constructive and were mainly pointing out that he thought he could tell the story better. I didn’t go back. I’d like to find a group like yours. I think the problem here was there were so many various genre writers that couldn’t fit themselves into other types of writing. (I couldn’t begin to tell someone how to write sci-fi nor would I attempt it)


    • clarbojahn says:

      Yes, I see your point, Suzicate. We keep our group small and to the Picture book niche. Right now we do have someone who is writing a tween book and she gave us all a chapter to take home. That way we could comment on it and bring it back next month.

      I am sorry you have had such bad experiences with crit and writer’s groups. A leader should have stepped in and limited that kind of critique. It does no one any good to rewrite a whole book in one session.. And especially if it ruined the intent of the writer.

      So far our group is working great together. 🙂


  6. Congratulations, Clarike…that’s quite an accomplishment! I’d love to hear how it all came to be…
    As soon as my A to Z Blogging Challenge is over, I’m getting connected again with a critique group. Thanks for the motivation!



  7. Joanna says:

    Tried to post this morning but can’t have gone through. I think it’s great that you have a) started an in-person crit group and b) one that seems to have gelled and be working well. Btavo.

    I love the front cover of Annie’s Special Day. Indeed you ARE an author!


  8. Margot Finke says:

    Clar, SCBWI is a wonderful place to learn the secrets of writing, publishing, and crafting books for children. A great way to find critique partners and form a group too – either online or in person. Way to GO, mate. So glad it all went so well for you.

    BOOKS for KIDS – Manuscript Critiques


  9. Congratulations! This sounds like a wonderful group! Thanks for telling us about it!


  10. So nice that you started a critique group. I like the format. And, I like the idea of someone else reading your manuscript, as it takes on a different meaning. I would like to be part of a monthly group, but the SCBWI for SW OH meets in Columbus in the evenings — 90 min drive.

    I do wish the publication of your book wasn’t having such a hard time. Like Veronica in Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, “I want it now!” 🙂


    • clarbojahn says:

      So sorry you can’t make the SW crit group. Does seem quite like a marathon. I’m lucky with this. Since I started it, I get to pick where and when we have it. Now everyone likes the two PM time and the Friday afternoon slot at the library.

      lol for Veronica. I guess I do need a little more patience. 🙂


  11. Cher Green says:

    Clara, Great to have you at the blog today. Look forward to further features with you involved. Congrats on the new book.


  12. pattyabr says:

    congrats 🙂


  13. Darlene says:

    I have belonged to a critique group for almost ten years. Without them I would have never completed and published two (soon to be three) books. We always read our work out loud. It is so valuable. I am so glad you found a group that you are comfortable with. I now belong to another group as well and get different feedback from them so it is good to compare. Have fun!


  14. Clar…I love your book cover…and join everyone in hoping the publishing/uploading issues are soon a thing of the past.:) Congrats and kudos to you for starting a critique group. I’m with Stacy in the Colorado Springs (Rocky Mountain) Chapter of SCBWI…and although I am not always able to go to the meetings (VERY local…10 minutes from my house) because of other obligations, the meetings I have gone to have been exceptionally helpful. It is a VERY small group…and there is time for one-on-one critiques…I’ve gotten a lot out of it. It can be hard for people to put their stuff out there…but our group is caring and uplifting. 🙂 And I love the idea of the OREO method…kind of how we need to parent, I guess. 🙂


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