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Essays And Fiction Ithaca

Dedicated to learning better writing through critiquing
(established 2005; formerly Vestal Writers founded in 1992)

The group’s focus is genre  novels–romance, mystery, suspense, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, or horror. Emphasis is on being productive writers–writing, revising, and submitting novels for traditional publication. Sorry, but this group doesn’t critique literary fiction, non-genre fiction, memoir, nonfiction, poetry, screenplays, plays, essays, magazine and newspaper articles, etc.

The group exists solely for the purpose of learning publishable writing through critiquing. Critiquing, also known as workshopping, is the basis of the MFA approach.

Critiquing is about teaching and learning craft. Each critique group member, no matter what their level or experience, must be willing to be both teacher and student.

A successful critique group requires positive, helpful attitudes and a willingness to help yourself through giving time and energy to help others. When you offer suggestions on someone’s work, you’re learning how to diagnose and solve problems in your own work.

Critiquing should empower members with a sense of collective and individual progress.

Goals of the Group:

  • To keep writing and keep improving
  • To provide support and encouragement to each other
  • To get (& keep) members published

The group doesn’t organize activities or exercises, invite speakers, or promote published members. For networking, market news, promotion, etc., members are encouraged to join and participate in national and local writing organizations such as Mystery Writers of America (MWA), Romance Writers of America (RWA), Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), International Thriller Writers (ITW), Horror Writers Association (HWA), Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Historical Novel Society (HNS), etc.

If you’re a genre novelist (published or not), and you live a reasonable distance from downtown Ithaca, NY (USA), and you’re interested in possibly joining, first print out, read, and be prepared to pass a quiz on (just kidding, but please do actually read carefully):
Critiquing rules & procedures
Criteria for accepting new members
How to critique & be critiqued
then contact the group leader

If this group doesn’t sound right for you  (and it makes no claim to be right for everyone), try finding a writing group, or starting your own.

Update January 2, 2017

Copyright 2000-2017

Photo: Ithaca, NY courtesy of the talented Paul Joran


  • Ph.D., University of Houston, Literature and Creative Writing, 2008
  • M.A., SUNY-Binghamton, English and Creative Writing, 2003
  • B.A., College of Charleston, English, 1999


  • Fiction Writing
  • Personal Essay
  • Creative Nonfiction


Jacob White's story collection Being Dead in South Carolina was published by Leapfrog Press in 2013. His fiction and essays have appeared in many places, such as The Georgia Review, New Letters, The Literary ReviewShenandoah, Cimarron Review, Salt Hill, New Orleans Review, Modern Language Studies, Juked, Hobart Online, and The Sewanee Review, from whom he received the Andrew Lytle Prize. He has received honorable mentions in both Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize anthologies, as well as the Donald Barthelme Memorial Fellowship in Fiction from the University of Houston and the Father William Ralston Fellowship from The Sewanee Writers' Conference. He co-edited Green Mountains Review from 2011-2013.