Each month, Julie Paschkis, Laura Kvasnosky, Bonny Becker, Julie Larios and I meet at one of our houses, around one of our tables, to review and critique each other’s work. We also share news, thoughts, stories, quandaries and lunch (or brunch) and tea. As most of you already know, this blog evolved out of our working friendship.
Each year, we exchange gifts for the holidays – small things, often items we have made ourselves, sometimes souvenirs from places we have visited in the past year.
But the greatest gift we give each other isn’t at these yearly holiday gatherings; it is what we give each other each time we meet, and often in between. We give our eyes, ears, brains and trust. It has been many years since I joined this group (around 2002) and it started ten years before that. A few members have come and gone (and come back again). We started blogging together in January of 2012. Between the five of us, we have published 69 books and 309 blog posts. Geez.
There have been a lot of thoughts and ideas shared around our tables. I am forever grateful for the excellent input and feedback I have received over the years – and that is not to discount in any way the friendships we have developed.
If you have a professional critique group like ours, you know how valuable it is. If you don’t and wish you did, find a few open-hearted individuals whose work you respect see if they are amenable to starting a children’s book group with you. Maybe you will find a good group if you take a picture book writing or illustration class or workshop (that is how this group got started). It helps if you are all at a similar place with your writing and/or illustration careers.
Best wishes for a creative and productive new year!
What a lovely reflection. A special hello to everyone. I look forward to the rich images and words each time I read a new post on your blog site. Thank you.
Other than family, I think nothing is sweeter than having a close group of friends, especially with the same interest in children’s book critique. Four friends of mine had a group for about 2 years from our class with Rollin Thomas, but we lived so far apart, it ended. Just delightful that your group is just perfect!
That happened to the first group I was in too – with Leslie Patricelli and Laurie Ann Grover. We tried to meet somewhere in between, but it became too difficult to plan.
What a marvelous picture of celebration and a year of sharing from the heart and minds of those who take turns at providing the wind beneath your wings. My group does likewise and we truly cherish this time to take a deep breath and savor the work we do together. Thanks for sharing these iconic pictures.
Thank you, Rae! It’s always nice to hear about other groups as well.