What’s Your Preference?

Hello, SE Friends. Mae here today, ready to talk support and organizations. As authors when we sit down and peck away at the keyboard, it’s a solitary process. If you’re like me, you have a cat poking in every so often and strolling across your keyboard or curling up on your desk. Or maybe you have a playful pup dropping a toy at your feet and demanding attention. And of course, there are interruptions from kids and spouses, but for the most part, when we sit down to create it’s us and our characters.

Woman typing on laptop and sitting on floor with fluffy cat

That’s all well and good during the creation process, but what about learning, marketing, and brainstorming with other authors? That’s where we all need support organizations and those special author friends who make up our inner circle. In this article I thought I’d take a look at some of the backbone of support authors rely upon.

Critique Partners and Beta Readers
Personally, I don’t use beta readers, but that’s just me. I do, however, work with a critique partner, sometimes more than one, during the story creation process. If I get something wrong in the plot or development, I want to know about it while the novel is growing, not after it’s done. So for me, I choose critique over beta. Some authors use both and swear by them.

What’s your preference?

Brainstorming
Several years back I lost a very dear critique partner who I’d worked with for twelve years. We never met in person—she lived in Michigan, and I live in Pennsylvania, but we exchanged WIP segments every Sunday night. Beyond that, we brainstormed, kicking around plot ideas via emails and chat sessions. If she was stuck, I’d help her. If I was stuck, she’d help me. I still remember discussing the time loop in my first novel Weathering Rock, and both of us so cross-eyed by the tripped up logic we couldn’t see straight. Sadly, she passed away before Weathering Rock was accepted by a publisher. I’ve worked with several critique partners since Karen passed away, but never anyone who brainstormed with me, and I miss that. Is brainstorming your WIP something you like to do with another writer, or do you prefer to work through the thorny patches alone?

What’s your preference?

Professional Organizations
You may hear Rave Reviews Book Club mentioned a time or two on Story Empire, because every SE author is a member. We didn’t plan it that way necessarily, but so many of us in the club have connected, it just happened. I’m not here to sell you on the merits of RRBC, other than to say if you’re looking for amazing author support it’s a great place to be. It’s a professional organization of small press and indie authors who network and support each other. I’m in my second year of membership with RRBC and look forward to many more.

I’m also a member of the International Thriller Writers. Membership in this organization is free of charge. It’s a professional organization with some of the top names in the business. They have an annual conference, numerous programs, networking and learning opportunities and member benefits.

This year I also paid dues to join the Mystery Writers of America as an Active Status member. Woo-hoo! I’m jazzed about the whole concept. MWA is the premier organization for mystery and crime writers. They offer so many member opportunities, my mind is spinning trying to sort through it all. I still need to connect with a local chapter and delve into all the goodies on the website. I believe being affiliated with an organization like MWA can only enhance my efforts and career as an author.

In other genres, Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) offer the same pedigree as MWA. How do you feel about about these and other writers’ organizations?

What’s your preference?

Portrait of cute cat amazed by what she`s reading

Craft Books and Magazines
Ssh! I have a secret—I have a crazy fear of craft books and magazines. Let me explain…

Back in the day, I was a regular subscriber to Writer’s Digest and a member of the Writer’s Digest Book Club. I read so many articles and bought so many books on the craft of writing, I should have been a guru.

But something strange happened. I got so hung up worrying about the nuts and bolts of craft and whether or not I was heeding the advice of such-and-such noted expert, my creativity suffered. It took me a while to realize what had happened, and when I did, I put all the craft books aside. Since then (and it’s been many years), I rarely open a craft book for fear the same thing might happen again. Serious paranoia.

Recently, however, I entered a subscription to The Writer magazine. International Thriller Writers offered such a sizeable discount to their members, I couldn’t refuse. I also picked up a copy of Mystery Scene magazine and am considering a regular subscription (my lovely publisher put my last book on the back cover, so no way was I letting that issue slip by :)). These are baby steps for me as I slowly ease back into reading craft materials, but I know many authors can’t get enough.

What’s your preference?

It all comes down to support, networking, friendships with other authors and how you prefer to work, market, and manage your time. Do you critique, do you beta read? Do you brainstorm with others? Are you a member of a book club and/or professional writer’s organization? Do you devour books on the subject of writing? There are many opportunities available to all of us, but what’s your preference?

I look forward to hearing about yours in the comments!

 

Bio banner for author Mae Clair

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65 thoughts on “What’s Your Preference?

  1. Romance Writers of American and our local chapter–Sunshine State Romance Authors– offer a high level of support. I’m proud to be one of the founding officers for our chapter and observe one by one how the members move forward in their careers with publishing contracts, confidence, and skill. It’s a blessing to have a good critique partner. I brainstorm with mine as well. It helps when you’re in a hole, as you were with the time loop, or when the story needs a fresh idea or nuance. Another thing that helps is a trusty feline fur fae flitting in and out of the room or cozying up to the solitary writer. Raven and Marigold can attest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to hear about your friend, Mae. I’m kind of on my own – not by choice, but I haven’t been able to find writer’s groups and I have no betas or CPs. There’s another writer I met at a writing retreat that helped in a time of crisis, but nothing on a regular basis. I tried SCBWI for a year, but didn’t get much out of it – definitely looking into the others you mentioned. With craft books, I’ve only read one – On Writing by Stephen King. Figured he must know a little bit about writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Teri, I bought King’s book too, I just haven’t cracked it open yet.It’s one I DO want to read though.
      I hope you have luck with finding a good critique partner. It makes all the difference in the world.I know RRBC is working on forming critique circles. When it comes to working with a crit partner, I always like more of a one-on-one than a group. Sometimes you can find that one-on-one relationship after joining a group!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, Mae. When it comes to on line support, I’m an active #RRBC and #RWISA member and also support several Indie groups as well as favorite authors that I’ve read, reviewed and follow. Locally I belong to the book club at our local library, where I have the opportunity to read and discuss books on a regular basis. Other local/regional memberships include Chamber of Commerce, Maine Writer’s and Publishers. I also subscribe to Writer’s Digest and Poet’s and Writers. There is probably a lot more to my ‘preference’ story, but these are the ones that come to mind right now. I think the key is for each writer to find where they fit in and get actively involved. If what you’re doing works for you, great. If not, move on. But don’t be confined to where you are, be open to new ideas and new support groups and resources.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well said, Bette! What works for one may not work for another.

      I’m glad you mentioned libraries too, because they’re a wonderful source of connecting with other writers and readers. You sound very active in your groups. I think it’s important for writers to have connections in a local environment and larger ones as well. No one else “gets” the writing life like another writer.

      Thanks for visiting today and sharing! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Editors are important, whether you’re an indie writer or traditionally published. A lot of indie writers overlook that stage, which can be reflected in the finished product. It sounds like you found a good editor to connect with Robbie. Of course, online groups are good too. Joining one was how I sold my first book several years ago!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I belong to a writers’ group that meets twice a month. We read our pages out loud and critique each other, brainstorm, or just yak writing, whatever the reader chooses. We’ve known each other long enough, we work with whatever that person needs at the time. New members get used to us:) Earlier in my writing, I read craft books –my favorite is still Jack Bickham’s Scene and Structure– and I belonged to MWA and went to conferences and was on panels, but I haven’t done any of that for a while. I still read one craft book a year to keep myself sharp, but I’ve been more of a recluse than usual the last few years. Our house is starting to settle down a little, though, so who knows?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love the sound of your writing group, Judi. The group I was in years (decades?) ago operated much like that.

      I have never been to a conference but it’s on my bucket list. You were highly active!!

      Love the idea of reading one craft book a year to stay sharp. That’s good speed for me, and I think I might give it a try! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. What a great article, Mae. I’ve never even thought about a critique partner, and it sounds awesome. Sorry to hear about your friend. I have used Beta readers with mixed results. I used to belong to a local writer’s group, which sadly has now closed its doors. I’m a member of is RRBC online, but not anything else off-line. I need to check out what organisations are available in the UK. Partly, I haven’t joined genre-specific groups because of being a multi-genre writer. Does that matter, do you think? So far, I haven’t subscribed to magazines or craft books … I’ve done plenty of research, etc., online though! And, like you, I get worried about getting overwhelmed and losing my creativity. Thanks for an informative post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Harmony, when Karen passed away I was utterly lost for several years not having a CP to work with. I’ve written a few books without a CP, but it always feels like writing without a safety net. There was even a period where I tried to connect with others and we worked for a while but the fit just wasn’t right. I think a good CP has to have a connection with you on more levels than the writing front. Karen and I met online through a forum unrelated to writing and then realized we both loved to write from communicating back and forth. We were friends first, then CPs and that made a lot of difference.

      The benefits of having a CP are amazing, so definitely check it out if it sounds appealing to you.

      I tend to cross genres too which is one of the reasons I held off for so many years before making a decision to join a large organization like MWA. For years I wrote romance but couldn’t bring myself to join RWA because it didn’t feel like a good fit. My books were flavored too heavily with mystery. You might also look into regional groups that aren’t genre specific. My area has several of those, and you might find with a little investigation, that yours does too.

      Also glad to hear I’m not the only one who gets paranoid about stifling creativity, LOL!

      Like

  6. I was a part of the writing support group ROW80 (A Round of Words in 80 Days) for several years. Then, when the person who started the group turned the reins over to someone else, I thought it was time for me to step away as well. It’s a fine group of people, but I found it caused me extra stress and work to make sure I had my bi-weekly update posts done. I’ve found that I’m really better as a lone writer in my little cave. I do use beta readers. And even though I’m a line editor, I don’t do my own editing. So I do need help from some, but not until I’m done.

    I’ve stayed away from craft books. I did buy On Writing by Stephen King, but I haven’t gotten far in it yet. He’s really the only one I trust to know what he’s talking about. Plus, he’s a “pantser” like me, so he understands that you don’t HAVE to plot, especially after writing for several years. (He believes the characters are more important than the plot, and so do I. The plot happens BECAUSE of the characters.) I tried plotting for awhile, because I was told I needed to, but it destroyed my creativity. I don’t always WANT to know what happens next. That’s part of the fun.

    I think writers are all different in how they approach writing. That makes us all unique.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I remember your ROW80 posts. I had never heard of that group before, but if it’s still around I bet there are others on here who might find it interesting. A few commenters mentioned about looking for online groups.

      Some people do work better alone, and you made a great point about even editors needing someone to edit they’re work.

      I have Stephen King’s book too, although I haven’t cracked it open yet. What he said about characters, is firmly what I believe too. I had no idea he was a panster. I like character-driven fiction both as a reader and a writer. I think Mr. King’s book will have to be on my reading list this year! 🙂

      Like

  7. I loved your story about Karen and the brainstorming. Every Sunday morning, unless one of us out of pocket, my sister and I sit down with cups of coffee and our phones and share where we are in our latest WIP’s. Her input is invaluable to me. She is my mentor in many ways, but I, on the other hand, get some good ideas for her story direction. I would love to be a part of a formal critique group and hope the one at RRBC gets finalized. But, in the meanwhile, I’ll keep my Sunday morning brainstorming sessions with Linda! Thanks for sharing. This was a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jan, I love how you work with your sister. I also think it’s wonderful that you have someone so close to you who is also a writer. That must be amazing. Your Sunday morning routine sounds wonderful!

      I did see that RRBC is working on finalizing a critique group. It seems like they’re always working on something to benefit the members. I hope many people take advantage of it when it rolls out. Critique is invaluable!

      Thanks for visiting and sharing today! 🙂

      Like

  8. Looks like I’m late to the party today. My critique group is on life support, but they’ve been so helpful to me. We send 3000 words in advance, then go over it at our meetings. They’re good for spotting small picture items. I tend to write too fast for them, and they never get to see one of my projects all the way to the end. In fact, they’ve never seen most of my short fiction because they’re always working on my novel projects. Maybe it’s because we meet once per month. I also put out a call for beta readers when I’m ready, and this serves another purpose. They see the big picture items that an author might miss. Sometimes, the non-author perspective is the one to pay attention to. If you find a reader who does not write themselves, they can offer what your customers might need. I guess this is my way of saying I use both, but they serve different purposes. In fact, it won’t be long before I put out a call for beta readers once again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your critique group operates like my local writing group. We send 5000 words in advance, and meet once a month. It has been months since I attended, simply because I can’t find the time to crit so many WIPS. I like groups that do discussion too. My old one (long since disbanded) was a combination of both.

      The feedback of a non-writer is highly valuable, especially when you find someone who reads a ton of stuff in your chosen genre.

      It sounds like you have a good system in place, Craig. And I know you’re getting ready to wrap another ms–assuming Otto leaves you alone 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I used to be a member of three official and one unofficial local writing groups. Two of them we read pages aloud; the other two we submitted pages in advance and came prepared to discuss. There are merits to both types of critiquing, and I’d recommend either or both. I no longer participate in any of the groups, though. (For various reasons, not worth discussing now.)

    I enjoy brainstorming with other people, for my work or for theirs. That, to me, is the essence of the creative process and one of the most satisfying parts of writing a book.

    If you’ve seen my bookcases, you know I have more than a shelf full of writing books. I don’t get bogged down in the minutia of the execution. I do use them for overall concepts (and occasionally when I get stuck). I can’t recommend James Scott Bell’s books highly enough.

    I’ve been dragging my feet about joining groups like RWA because of the cost. I didn’t realize there were free organizations out there. I think I’m going to explore that option. It feels like that’s the next step in my evolution as a writer.

    Really enjoyed this post, Mae.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think brainstorming is key, especially when you (as the writer) can’t see the forest for the trees. Sometimes you just need that other perspective or suggestion to get you over the hurdle or nudge you in the right direction.

      I’m going to have to look into James Scott Bell’s craft books. I like the idea of reading one a year (like Judi said) to stay sharp. After that, I’ll see if I can embrace a few more 🙂

      My groups operated like yours did, Staci–one reading aloud (no longer together) and the other getting work in advance and discussing at the meeting. I had benefit from both, but I think the writers in my first group were more serious about publication which made a difference. There’s also a regional group in my area that I was president of many many years ago. They disbanded, then reformed, and I’d like to give them another try.

      I think there are probably a number of free groups out there. I don’t even remember how I found ITW, but I was shocked to learn to they offer so much and don’t require a fee for membership. Definitely check around. RWA and the others can get costly.

      Like

      • I second Staci on James Scott Bell’s books. Haven’t found one yet that hasn’t been helpful. Recently purchased one on marketing. It’s on my “to read” list which is just as long as my “to do” list. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have been giving local talks on self-publishing for beginners. Not that I’m any kind of expert, but I can at least tell some of these folks what worked for me, and then give them a list of reference materials. On my list of most helpful books, No. 1 says “Anything by James Scott Bell.” I learned more from his books than most of the others put together. Give ’em a try, Mae. Bet you’ll agree.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Interesting and eye-opening post, Mae. I’ve not been a self-published author for long, but I’ve never used any of the supports you’ve enumerated here. The only support mechanism mentioned her that I’ve heard about before, is beta readers. I like the concept of brainstorming partners – and of course, I’m a member of Rave Reviews Book Club too. Much food for thought here, Mae. Thank you!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Glad I provided something for you to consider, John! Critique partners and brainstorming are wonderful during the creation process of a novel or any work. And, of course, beta readers are good at the finish should you choose to use them. RRBC, as you know, can’t be beat for author support. I love how active our members are. I’m glad you stopped by today to check out the post!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on and commented:

    Today at Story Empire, author Mae Clair discusses resources available to writers: beta readers, critique groups, resource materials, organizations and more. Read her thoughts, then weigh in with your own opinions.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Great post, Mae. I use beta readers (I have nine) but I do it chapter by chapter, taking their reactions and comments very seriously, as I go. So in a sense, I have nine critique partners, with varying degrees of writing knowledge. Some are more technically knowledgeable than others, which I quite like. It gives me a sense of what folks who simply read for pleasure will think, as well as what those who spot errors will notice. And I can tell immediately if each chapter is doing what I intended for it to do. I do it the same way with my editor, fixing each chapter until it’s the best I can do, before moving on. It’s not so overwhelming that way.

    I’d really like to join an organization, but honestly, I don’t have enough hours in the day for my writing as it is. And I’d end up not participating. I have more stories to tell than I have time to tell them in, so I’m focused on that. (Looking for a good, affordable Virtual Assistant, too, to relieve me of some of the nuts and bolts that keep me away from writing, as well.)

    I brainstorm with my betas about new ideas, and when I’m lucky enough to spend time with her, my cover designer. She and I are always on the same wave length, and she has given me some great ideas for my earlier books, though her own career is keeping her too busy to play often, these days.

    Great post, as always, Mae!

    Liked by 4 people

    • HI, Marcia. Yep, it sounds to me like you have nine critique partners. WOW! Chapter by chapter is how I work too. When you work that way you know immediately what needs to be adjusted before moving onto the next chapter or scene. I’ve done beta reading for others, but have never asked for betas on my books because, hopefully, any problems were caught and corrected in the critique stage.

      Oh–a virtual assistant! Lucky you! I wish I could squeeze more writing hours into my day as well. Like you said there are so many stories to tell!

      And I understand your reservation about writing groups. I’m hoping I can find the time to make use of those I’ve joined. RRBC is a breed of its own, so that one is no problem and I love it, but the others…well, time will tell! Thanks for visiting and commenting! 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

      • Chapter by chapter just makes sense to me, Mae. I don’t want to find out at the end of a 400-page book that I have to change something going all the way back to the beginning. Eeep. 🙂 I can’t really afford a VA, yet, but I’m hoping. At my age, I don’t have decades to write the things I want to write. I need all the help I can get, so I can concentrate on the stories, themselves. But at this point, it’s still a dream. It’s just me, plugging away here, all by myself. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      • I’m 100% in agreement with you about chapter-by-chapter, Marcia. I couldn’t imagine working any other way.

        For being “just you” you’re accomplishing a lot, so keep doing what you’re doing! And the fact that you enjoy it so much, always shines through! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. What a great view into your writing world! I’ve got my Writing Sisters, who are basically a critique group, fountain of brainstorming energy, and a source of beta readers. Otherwise, I’ve only had occasion to use beta readers once so far, and they offered invaluable feedback. I think the choice of beta reader has a lot to do with how useful their feedback can be.

    Love to brainstorm alone, but there’s something to be said about setting up the “wall” and having fellow writers throw ideas at it with you. The final storyline of my latest novel included a lot of ideas from my writing sisters.

    I belong to Sisters in Crime, and would love to join MWA or TWA or RWA, but they seem to like their members to be published or have a book coming out. And they’re a little rich for my blood at this point. Also looking forward to joining RRBC. There’s a lot of benefit to banding together with fellow writers.

    I’m still a subscriber to Writers Digest, though I don’t read it as religiously as I used to because I’m reading/writing/gardening/working/etc. I have a vast collection of craft books I never seem to manage to read, but my intentions are there! Just got Donald Maass’ latest. I often find the advice is basically the same, but each writer explains it a little differently. Some craft books resonate with me more than others.

    Great post, Mae!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Julie, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Donald Maass’ books, so it sounds like you picked up a good one. And I am highly envious of your Writing Sisters. Whenever you blog that you’re going on a retreat with them I turn green with envy thinking of a weekend away doing nothing but talking writing, brainstorming and writing! You’re so lucky to have them! 🙂

      Sisters in Crime is one I haven’t looked into yet because I’m not sure I fit. I write more psychological thrillers then crime driven books, but I know those terms encompass a broad range. I need to see if there is a local chapter in my area.

      And we will happily welcome you to RRBC. You’ll definitely find a lot of support with that group! 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

  14. As you know, I’m also a member of ITW, Sisters in Crime, and MTW (I’m renewing my membership right now, in fact). All three are wonderful organizations. I love craft books. For a planner like me, I deep-dive into the craft of writing. I don’t use beta readers. Very early on I did, and they did more harm than good. I do have a few critique partners, whom I cherish, but I don’t necessarily brainstorm with them unless it involves police procedures or their past experience on the job. Often I use tidbits from the stories I drag out of them. My awesome editor and I brainstorm, though. Love her!

    I’m so sorry you lost Karen. It sounds like you two had a special relationship.

    Liked by 4 people

    • HI, Sue. Yes, Karen and I did have an awesome relationship. My first book, Weathering Rock, was dedicated to her. I miss her but I know she has to be thrilled I’m publishing. She was always pushing me to submit my stuff 🙂

      It sounds like you and your editor have a great relationship too. I think it helps to have someone you can brainstorm with. Also glad you find craft books helpful. I will slowly ease my way back into them, starting with The Writer magazine. It’s been a lot of years between then and now and I think I’ve come far enough not let too much advice effect my creativity. As for MWA–I still need to discover all the goodies it offers. I can’t wait to delve in!

      Liked by 5 people

  15. I’m a member of a writing group and prefer that over beta readers. We’re a very mixed bunch – some published, some on the way, others writing for fun – and I love getting feedback from them. Reading aloud to an ‘audience’ gives me another perspective on my writing too. Their support gave me the confidence to send off an ms with an usual POV (that of a 5 year old) to publishers. I wasn’t sure it would be of interest to adults, but they enjoyed it, so I gave it a go. And it got accepted – out in June!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Wow, Sara, that’s awesome! Congratulations on your upcoming release. I bet your writing group was cheering 🙂

      Writing groups are fabulous. I was a member of a local group for many years before it disbanded. That was my first experience with critiquing and it definitely put me on the path to seeking out other writers. I’m currently a member of another group, which is a mixed bunch like yours. My first group read aloud but this one doesn’t. Even with national groups available to writers, it’s still helpful to have a local network too. Writers need that interaction. Sounds like you have a great group!

      Liked by 4 people

  16. Mae, I am a member of a local writer’s group that my friend and I started years ago. Right now, membership has dwindled (my friend moved away) but the folks in this group have been a tremendous help. I’ve also used beta readers – they helped in ways the writer’s group didn’t because they had the advantage of reading the manuscript at one time.

    Other than RRBC, I haven’t joined any other online groups. It is something I might consider, however. Thanks for sharing your ideas today.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Joan, I think it’s great you and your friend started a writing group. It’s a shame that she moved away. Even with a small membership, local groups are beneficial. Occasionally, I would even meet one on one with a friend from my early (local) writing group days. Membership in that group eventually dwindled too with people moving away. I’ve got so many good memories though.:)

      For online groups, you might want to look into International Thriller Writers, which has many mystery writers among their ranks. Their membership is free of charge and they offer many benefits. I haven’t explored most of them, but they’re a good group to be affiliated with.

      Liked by 3 people

  17. Our house is also blessed by pets – cats and a dog. As our daughters and grandson live in another town they fill our time. There are interruptions from writing but I don’t mind.
    I also use betas.I think that a fresh pair of eyes over a manuscript is necessary. I can miss a thing even if I read the sentence 10 times. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a critique partner, someone to work chapter by chapter. I need betas as my English is the one I learned in University, years ago, or the one I read in books/movies. Not the living, present day usage. I sometimes cal it Romlish (Romanian-English). Along the years since I started along this path of writing/publishing, like you, I lost but not 1, I lost 3 betas. They are now in the stars ‘world, God rest their souls!

    Regarding craft/ writing books….. I read so many that there was a moment when I stopped and wondered what came into me to imagine I write a book? My head was so full of don’t do this/don’t use that that I doubted my abilities. Then I put them aside and went on, never looking back. They are useful to a point.

    am sad to say that I can’t be a member of any of theprofessional organizations you mentioned, no matter how much I’d have liked it! The meager sum I earned form my books these 4 years isn’t enough to at least join one. so, perhaps, in the coming years, if my life thread goes so long. .
    I am glad you managed to do it and can see a dream come true. You fully deserve it. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Carmen, I think writers should use either betas or critique partners, definitely one of the other. You are so right about needing that fresh pair of eyes, and I understand your concern about writing in another language (something I can’t even imagine doing!). It’s good that you work with betas, although I know there are groups out there (Facebook or otherwise) where you could connect with a CP. I do, however, understand the reluctance in doing that. I like to have a personal connection with my CPs, so that they’re not just someone I selected from a group, but someone I’ve come to know online first.

      As for craft/writing books, what happened to you is exactly what happened to me. I got hung up on so many do’s and don’ts my creativity got lost in the shuffle. As you said–they are good to a point. Too much of anything can be overdose!

      Your house sounds fun with the pets demanding attention. Writers need critters 🙂
      And one group you can join (for the mystery slant) is ITW. It’s completely free and you’re likely to find some great resources there!

      Liked by 4 people

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