Meet-ups and Critique Groups

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Feb. 25 Meet-up Guest Speaker: Jennifer March Soloway

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Jennifer March Soloway: Senior Agent, Andrea Brown Agency

Agenting is her dream job. She loves working with writers and illustrators, and nothing gives her greater joy than to help an author elevate their story. She enjoys all genres and kidlit categories, from laugh-out-loud picture books to young adult. A suspense junkie, she adores action-packed thrillers and mysteries. Throw in a dash of romance, and she’s hooked! But as much as she loves a good thriller, her favorite novels focus on family, relationships, sexuality, mental health, or addiction. Regardless of genre, she is most drawn to emotionally compelling voices and fresh perspectives underrepresented in literature. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and English from Mills College in Oakland and lives in San Francisco with her family and a bulldog. To learn more about Jennifer, follow her on Twitter (X?), @marchsoloway, and find her full wish list at


Topic: The Three Stages of Revision and Tips to Sharpen Prose

Every writer’s process is different, but I believe there are three stages of revision: (1) writing for story; (2) revising for structure, plot, character, and clarity; and (3) polishing language at the line level for voice. Using those stages as a guideline, we will discuss how and when to revise which pieces of the story to maximize effort and avoid creative blocks, as well as tips for streamlining and polishing language at the line level.

When: Sunday, Feb. 25, 1:00-2:00 PM


Our meet-ups are virtual over zoom. The zoom link is provided in the bi-monthly email. If you'd like to be added to the email list, please contact Bev Plass at

SoCal welcomes you to join our monthly meet-ups to connect with other creative people and hone your craft. We mingle, have guest speakers, and celebrate writer successes. We generally meet on the fourth Sunday of the month from 1:00-2:00. Sometimes we change the dates due to holidays or other SCBWI events.

Critique Groups


SoCal Writer's Group

SoCal Writers typically meet every fourth Sunday of the month via zoom immediately following the meet-up. The same zoom link is used for both meetings.


Illustrators Group

Illustrators typically meet every second Saturday of the month in person and via zoom (hybrid).


Bilingual Group

Bilingual Latinx Writers who write in Spanish and English typically meet every second Wednesday of the month via zoom or e-critique.


Inland Empire Group

Inland Empire Writers meet every third Saturday of the month via zoom for meet-up and critique groups.


Author-Illustrator Group

Author Illustrators meet every 3 months via zoom for book-dummy critiques.

Writer Submission Guidelines:

Picture Book (PB)

Submission length - Send in one manuscript. 1,000 words or less.

Document type - Word document (NOT Pages or PDF.)


Document formatting - Size 12 font, Times New Roman. Double spaced. 1 inch margin on all sides.

Document header - Title/author last name (on the far left) and page numbers (on the far right)

Middle Grade (MG) / Young Adult (YA)

Submission length - Send in five pages (double spaced)

Document type - Word document (NOT Pages or PDF.)


Document formatting - Size 12 font, Times New Roman. Double spaced. 1 inch margin on all sides.

Document header - Title/author last name (on the far left) and page numbers (on the far right)

Note: If you are submitting a chapter that is later in the novel (not chapter 1), it is helpful to provide a “here’s what has happened so far” summary. It is also helpful to the critiquer if you include a complete synopsis of the novel so they can judge the excerpt within the entire context of the novel. These are merely suggestions, not requirements, to help you maximize the quality of the feedback from your group. First-time submissions: It is highly recommended you attend a meeting once before participating in a critique group. That way, you will know the process we follow. It is important you know the process as this is a moment of vulnerability for members of the group. We want to guide and inspire, not crush our aspiring writers.

Future Meet-up Dates:

March 17- Judy Campbell-Smith- Balancing Writing and Marketing

April 28- Christine Van Zandt- Ask Me Anything (author)

May 26 - Topic: Fabulous First Lines

June 23 - Bruce Hale- Building Suspense

July - no meeting

August 25 - Speaker: Nicole Chen- Writing about Taiwan

September 29 - Speaker: Tia Mele (agent) Pitches and Synopsis

October 27 - Topic: Query Letter Practice

November 24 - TBD

December - No Meeting

March 17 Meet-up Guest Speaker: Judy Campbell Smith

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Judy Campbell Smith

Judy Campbell-Smith writes picture books that spark curiosity and celebrate diversity. Ice Cream Everywhere: Sweet Stories from Around the World, illustrated by Lucy Semple, releases March 15, 2024 from Sleeping Bear Press. Her debut picture book, AJ's Neighborhood, illustrated by Amanda Dowell, was self-published in 2022. Judy's work is often inspired by true stories and reflects her Puerto Rican and African-American heritage. Judy is a volunteer with the SoCal chapter of SCBWI, a PB Power Hour co-host, and the creator of the Back Matter Break Down blog series. She lives in Pomona, California with her family.

March 17 Topic: The Juggling Act: Balancing Writing and Marketing at Each Step on Your Publishing Journey

Do I need a website if I don't have books published yet? Should I write to trends or avoid them? Do I HAVE to be on Tik Tok? If you're asking these questions or having a tough time striking a balance between writing and marketing, then this presentation is for you. We will look at what kind of marketing you can do at each step of the way, whether you are querying, self-publishing, or launching a book. You'll learn how to juggle your time and attention so that your writing doesn't suffer, while while also setting yourself up for marketing success. 

Check out her new book: Ice Cream Everywhere: Sweet Stories From Around the World.