Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Critique Groups & Free Monthly Shop Talk Sessions

ing a member of an active critique group is almost essential to success as a writer or illustrator.

SCBWI encourages every member to solicit constructive, supportive feedback. Critique groups can: meet in person, or online, regularly, or less so, have several members or only two. There is lots of flexibility here!

If you are a writer or illustrator looking for a critique group, you have options:

* Post a request to the MichKids listserv. Include the following information: genre, experience level (if appropriate), meeting area (Lansing, Detroit, Marquette, etc.), and meeting frequency.

* Navigate to the Blueboards, search on “critique groups” and submit an inquiry.

To learn more about the critique process and how to start a group, see Articles.


Detailed map of michigan state*Laugh! Learn! Elevate your level of craft! Attend community-wide Mitten Shop Talk Sessions!

The Shop Talk group meets regularly every one or two months. All are welcome to attend. Keep your eye on the Event Calendar for a Shop Talk near YOU! For more information on these meets, or Shop Talks in general, please contact Jennifer Rumberger at jenberger75 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Contacts for the various Shop Talks happening all over the state are listed below. Reach out to one in your area. Become an active member of our vibrant and enthusiastic creative community! Join a Shop Talk!


“I think I tell you this after all of our SCBWI meet ups, but they are invaluable!  The people are great and the critiques are what I need.  So thank you for introducing me to the group!  You rock!”  — Lori


Mid-Mitten Shop Talk – Lansing

Co-Coordinators: Charlie Barshaw and Ann Finkelstein

Location: Haslett Branch of the Capital Area Public Library, 1590 Franklin Street, Haslett MI

Mission: To reach out to the Kid Lit talent in our area and create a community.

Goal: To educate, congregate and celebrate.

~ Charlie Barshaw joined SCBWI in 2009 and became an Advisory Committee member in 2012. He has written and published mid grade short stories for Amazon Rapids, written numerous articles for The Mitten blog, and is currently an editor with them. He’s got four YA and MG manuscript drafts in his drawer, still hopes to release them to the world. He is very fortunate to be married to the talented and vivacious Ruth McNally Barshaw.

~ Ann has been a member of SCBWI since 1999. She is the author of SCIENCE IS GOLDEN: A PROBLEM-SOLVING APPROACH TO DOING SCIENCE WITH CHILDREN and several articles in Cricket, Spider and Highlights for Children Magazines. She writes young adult novels.


SE-Mitten Shop Talk – Farmington Hills

Co-Coordinators: Jennifer Rumberger and Patti Richards

Location: Heritage Park Visitor’s Center in Farmington Hills (on Farmington between 10 and 11 Mile)

Mission: To encourage and inspire fellow SCBWI members in Southeastern Michigan

Goal: To meet regularly and share ideas and insights about the creative process, craft, and current trends and marketing in kidlit that we have learned on our own

~Jennifer has been a member of SCBWI since 2010 and is the coordinator of the Shop Talks. She has a handful of magazine articles/stories to her credit as well as a picture book, DUCKLINGS ON THE MOVE. She is a wife and mother of two active teenagers and continues to write and revise picture books.

~ Patti is a freelance writer and editor, former teacher, wife and mother of three. Patti’s children’s stories have appeared in Boys’ Quest Magazine, Bumples Magazine and MeeGenius EBooks for Children. Her articles on parenting, women’s health and education have been published in a variety of magazines and websites. Patti’s credits include,,, Homelife Magazine, Metro Parent Magazine, San Diego Parent Magazine and many others. Email Patti at


GR West Shop Talk – Grand Rapids

Coordinator: David Stricklen

Location: East Grand Rapids Library 746 Lakeside Dr SE, East Grand Rapids, MI

Mission: To pull together the SCBWI writing talent in the Grand Rapids area.

Goal: By tapping into the strengths of each member, we will all grow as writers

~ David is a member of the SCBWI Michigan Advisory Committee and is a student mentor at Northview Middle School near Grand Rapids. He is the author of two YA fantasy adventure books in the Blackwater Pond Series: BENEATH AND BEYOND, a Midwest Book Review “reviewers choice selection” and THROUGH THE EYES OF THE BEAST. The final book in the series, THE HEART OF THE SWARM, will be out in the fall. All three books are published by Beachhead Publishing, an independent publisher in Norton Shores, Michigan. He gives an average of 115 school talks a year. For more details about David and his books, visit


Ann Arbor Area Shop Talk – Ann Arbor

Coordinator: Betsy McKee Williams –

Location: The Ann Arbor District Library at 343 S 5th Ave – Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

Mission:To create and nurture a supportive community of writers and illustrators.
Goal:To meet regularly, tap into the strengths of each member, and support one another toward our individual goals.

~ Betsy McKee Williams lives in Ann Arbor, supports college writing by day, and does her own writing after hours. A member of SCBWI since 2012, she is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing for Young Readers through the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College. Betsy is completing her first middle grade novel, Falling Out of Time.


Up North Shop Talk – Traverse City

Coordinator: Heather Shumaker

Location: Traverse Area District Library, youth services area, 610 Woodmere Ave., Traverse City, MI.

Mission: To create a supportive community for northern Kid Lit creators.

Goal: Exchange knowledge, inspiration and resources among fellow SCBWI members.

 – Heather is the author of three books for adults and a debut middle-grade novel THE GRIFFINS OF CASTLE CARY coming out in spring 2019. She’s been a member of SCBWI since 2013, blogs at and loves all things kid lit.