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Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Critique Group

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 5, 2011

Without a doubt, I look forward to critique group as the highlight of my week. Why? Is it because we’ve known each other for so long that I can’t remember when we started out? Is it the group therapy we offer each other, a bunch of friends eager to listen and offer support? Or is it for the valuable comments on our stories we receive that help us to progress as a writer? All of the above! But really, it’s all about the food.  🙂

Decorated for Autumn


Isn't it lovely?

Bean Dip

Bean Dip with Rosemary

Pumpkin Bars

Frosted Pumpkin Bars

Last week, it was my turn to host. Our group consists of six published authors. We meet every two weeks during the day and rotate houses. The hostess provides the mid-morning snacks. We’ll chat and nosh for up to an hour before settling down to business. I like hosting because it gives me a chance to use my elegant serving bowls and cook new items. I experimented with three new dishes this time, but I’d only add one of them to my repertoire. Here is the recipe for my crustless zucchini pie.

Zucchini Pie

1 large onion, chopped
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 cups zucchini, grated
1 cup biscuit baking mix
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup Eggbeaters

Mix together the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Add in the zucchini, baking mix, cheese, and Eggbeaters. Stir to blend.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray two 9 inch pie dishes with cooking spray. Pour mixture into pie plates, dividing evenly. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Zucchini Pie

Zucchini Pie


Not everyone can make each critique session, and we miss those absent. But as long as four of us are able to come, we’ll meet. We bring our printed story pages beginning with Chapter One. Setting the timer for fifteen to twenty minutes, we read each person’s work silently for the allotted time. Marking down the page numbers, we write our comments on a separate sheet of paper. After each round is over, we pass the pages to the left.

Once we’re done reading everyone’s work, we discuss our comments aloud, focusing on one person at a time. We each have our say, going to the left around the table, until we finish. Then we hand that person our notes to take home. And so on. Often we discuss industry news, publishing markets, promotion and more. We gripe about the industry and we rejoice in our successes. And we offer each other valuable advice on how to improve our work. We are a lifeline for each other and an inspiration for our careers. I couldn’t do it without my critique partners being there for me. Thanks, my friends.

Check out their work:

Allison Chase
Sharon Hartley
Karen Kendall
Cynthia Thomason
Zelda Benjamin

Do you work with a critique partner or group? If so, what’s your process?


10 Responses to “Critique Group”

  1. How nice, Nancy!

  2. Wow, what a wonderful group you’ve got going, Nancy! (Do you ever have guests come in? 🙂 (OK, that was serious actually).

    I will definitely make that zucchini pie–yum. And I’ll go check out the other authors now.

    To answer your question, I’m not part of a regular critique group. My “debut” novel just sold after 11 years at it. There were definitely many trusty readers who are partially responsible for that, plus my agent, and one fantabulous author who really worked some magic. But your experience of sitting down weekly, chatting, noshing, and crafting, sounds very special.

  3. lynnbyer said

    Wow, Nancy! Your tablescape and delectable-looking Zucchini Pie are gorgeous. I have just added your recipe to MY repertoire .

    As always, you entertain beautifully.

  4. Thanks for visiting, Heather. Jenny, sorry but we don’t do guests at this time. 🙂 Congrats on selling your first novel. Hopefully your road down the publishing path will now be smoother! And Lynn, I’m glad you like this recipe. Remember when YOU used to be a member of my critique group, back in the day? FRW still wants you!

  5. Whoa, look at that food! I am so sorry I had to be the “absent one” last week. Everything looks so beautiful and yummy. And of course I missed the girls and the comments. I rarely miss. This group is too important to me.

  6. We missed you too, Cindy. Looking forward to next week at your house.

  7. Our critique group keeps me going when the going gets tough! I feel like in this crazy business we have each other’s backs, and there’s no one better to celebrate the victories with. I like to say it takes a village to write a book. Well, we’re a small, very well-fed village! 🙂

  8. Jeanne Meeks - said

    Yummy. I’m going to try your zucchini pie recipe. My critique group doesn’t eat quite as well — sadly, not at all. But I love the valuable feedback I get from my group and depend upon them to keep me motivated.

    My July 18, 2011 blog “How to Choose a Critque Group” was inspired by my group and others I’ve tried. I wonder if others have come to the same conclusions.

    Your autumn table looks lovely.

  9. Allison, I like your analogy! We are indeed a small village. Jeanne, a critique group is great for motivation, isn’t it? Knowing we have to produce pages keeps us writing.

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