Friday, February 24, 2012

Once Upon A Time, the Westside Writer's Schmooze Had Picture Book Critique Night....

One cold, February day…

Charlie woke up...

…and realized it was nearly time for the Picture Book Critique Schmooze!

He immediately called Karol.

“Gosh that’s right,” said Karol (‘cause Karol always says gosh). “We’d better get cracking. I’ll work on a nifty new acronym to remind people not to be cruel and unusual with their critiques.”

“Good idea,” said Charlie. “And I’ll get water and cookies and other important stuff.”

Before they knew it, Schmooze Night was here!

As usual, the Schmooze was quite well attended.

There were even a bunch of newcomers.

About 30 Schmoozers in all!

Karol kicked things off by announcing some of the upcoming events sponsored by the awesome


Then Charlie fascinated the group with his extremely detailed discussion of how to critique, and how to listen to a critique including such valuable tidbits as telling critiquers “Do not expect authors to agree, just to listen,” and telling authors “Do not agree, just listen.”

Everyone was rapt.

Karol woke the crowd back up when she revealed the Snarktastic acronym she and Charlie had come up with:

Shortly thereafter, and following a chaotic round of mayhem and musical chairs while we tried to get the same number of people with manuscripts at each of the five tables, everyone got down to work.

It was a wonderful and rewarding time. There were so many talented writers – who were all incredibly generous with their comments.

Many breakthroughs were had.

“But what about US?!” cried the novelists in the room. “WE need Schmoozerific help, too!”

“Never fear,” Charlie and Karol assured them.

At next month’s Schmooze on March 14th, it’ll be time for the middle grade and young adult writers to shine…or crumble under the weight of crushing disappointment when they’re forced to face the reality that their manuscripts are not completely and utterly PERFECT.

Kidding! We will insist upon the same SNARKY approach from critiquers…um, we mean snarky in that good way!

PLUS – we’re having a first-ever (we think) super-awesome SCHMOOZE RAFFLE!

All Schmoozers in attendance get to put their names in a hat for a chance to win a very special prize!

With that, everyone raced home with their brand-spanking-new notes, eager to revise their works of genius, submit them, and succeed!

Except the novelists, who’ll no doubt race home after next month’s Schmooze with brand-spanking-new notes, eager to revise their works of genius, submit them, and succeed!

As for Charlie and Karol, their work was done, so they decided to get some much-deserved rest.

The end.

EXCEPT – wait!

Since LOTS of great books have author’s notes and acknowledgements at the end, naturally, so does this one:

Big thanks to Joe, Lupe and Greg for leading tables at the Schmooze!

And for a little more info on making your manuscript shine and/or helping your writing buddies make theirs shine, here are some of the critiquing links that Charlie talked about…

Picture Book Critique questions by Sarah Wones Tomp:

Top Ten Questions Dutton Editors Ask Themselves When Looking At A Manuscript

How to critique a picture book text by Sherryl Clark

Ellen Jackson’s discussion of picture book plots

And remember, keep passing the open windows…

Charlie & Karol


  1. My group made me cry...they were too nice.
    Picture Pout

  2. I was wondering how you'd handle the critique nights here on the blog, and now I see. Nicely done. It was an excellent night, at least at our table. Brave authors and generous critiquers (often one and the same) make for a good time!

    1. Greg, you were at the popular table.

  3. We're thinking the blog post for next month's MG and YA Critique night will be written in angsty, first-person/present tense prose...there will be heartbreak, complaining, self-conscious anxiety...and hopefully maturity-building revelations!

  4. Ugh! Good one, Karol. You just gave it away to... both people who read this blog!

  5. Actually, I realized there's a counter on the left hand side bar. Currently 84 visitors (and hopefully counting)...

  6. I wish I could have been there. Thanks for this wonderful post and all the good links.
    Can't wait for the angsty first person/present tense of next month.

  7. This post is gorgeously, brilliantly executed. I love it!!!!!! [illustration here of me singing from the mountaintops with the sun shining at my back, which also doubles as a gold medal for you.]

    LOVE that "cold, February day." I'm off to read these delicious links you've included. Thanks, as ever . . .