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I talk about my writing goals pretty regularly. I post them on the bulletin board beside my desk each month so they're staring me in the face every day. I've also saved the phrase above where I can see it regularly. It's motivational. But there's a problem with it, too: some things can't be planned for or forced into being.

I've been without a critique group or partner for quite a while now, and because I don't feel objective about looking at my own writing (especially after I've been through the same story a hundred times and sometimes miss something obvious like missing punctuation or a missing word, because my brain fills it in automatically), it's got me stuck in a place where things I want to send out into the world are mostly ready, but without another set of eyes on them, I don't feel like I can do that. What if I've missed something more than screwed up punctuation or a word I accidentally deleted when editing?

The problem is finding someone or a group you trust isn't easy. I was lucky with my first group, way back when I first joined a local RWA chapter. An experienced, multi-published author took me under her wing and pulled me into her existing critique group, and I learned a lot from them. My most recent group (I don't even know if I can say recent, since it's been disbanded for more than a few years now) was awesome. We were all at different stages of writing/publishing, all writing something slightly different than each other, and we all learned a lot from each other while making our writing better. In between those and after the last one, I've had brief dalliances with other writers, none of which stuck, either because of timing, personalities, or differences in need.

Because I'm stuck here in critique limbo, I have stories piled up waiting to go out into the world--Freeing Medusa, shapeshifters, short contemporary romances. I'm sad about that. And discouraged that I haven't found a new partner or group after all this time. Partly because of the stories sitting here waiting for release, and partly because it makes some goals unreachable until I get that one settled.

One way around it might be a small group of beta readers, I suppose, though that poses some of the same challenges as a critique group, regarding experience, skill levels, time... I'm pondering it anyway.

Before I get back to my to-do list (revisions on one of those short contemporary romances and figuring out dinner for later), I have a quick snippet for you today from Protecting Medusa.


Philomena parked beside her mother’s house. She’d arrived first, and she needed to get dinner on in a hurry. Once Jason got home, she’d be too distracted to focus on cooking.

She went in the back door, balancing a grocery bag while she reset the alarm, then hit the light switch with her elbow as she continued into the kitchen.

She took her mother’s cast iron skillet from its hook over the counter and put it on the stove, turning the heat to high and dropping in some ground beef before she shed her coat. As she put away the rest of the groceries, the meat began to sizzle.

She rolled up her sleeves and dug a spatula out of the utensil drawer, but froze when she heard a creak from upstairs. She waited, then shook her head. It was a hundred year-old farmhouse.

She stirred the beef in the pan, adding chopped onions she’d picked up at the store--not out of laziness but because she knew she needed to move quickly after three days away and with an excitable six-year-old on his way home. She could take time tomorrow to do her own prep work for dinner.

The sound came again from upstairs. She set the spatula on the spoon rest and turned the flame under her pan down to low, then tugged up the hem of her long skirt to pull her dagger from its leather sheath on her thigh.

A loud thud reached her ears, and her heart beat faster.

Dear Gods, someone really was in the house.

She crept up the back steps, keeping to the edges where she knew her weight wouldn’t make the stairs creak, the smooth handle of her long knife comforting in her sweat-damp hand.

More thumping, accompanied by running water.

She frowned when she got to the top of the steps, wincing as something hit the porcelain bathtub, followed by muffled cursing.

She stuck her head around the corner, but the partially-closed bathroom door at the other end of the hall blocked her view. All she could see were shadows.

Two people? In her mother’s bathroom? She wished she’d grabbed the phone on her way up so she could call the police. No, she should’ve called before coming upstairs. Too late now.

More thumping and a crash.

Her jaw clenched, and she stepped into the hallway, her pulse pounding in her ears.

“I’ve called the police,” she lied, moving slowly along the hall. Frigid air drifted toward her. Either the bathroom window was open, or something was seriously wrong with the furnace. She frowned, holding tighter to her knife.

A dark blur went out the window, and her eyes widened. It was quite a drop to the ground, even with all the snow mounded below from the big storms so far this winter.

When a large, naked man with a gun went to look out the window, she froze in the middle of the hall, her dagger shoulder high.


She swallowed, and then he turned around. Her lungs stopped working.

“Hello, Philomena. Have I ever told you how much I love a woman who can handle a blade?” He caught the edge of the door and pulled it wide open.

She’d know that voice anywhere, and that face, even if she’d only seen him in photos. Ryder Ware, Jason’s father.

And wow, was she seeing him in person.


So, for the writers among us, do you have suggestions on either of my ideas above, new critique group/partner or beta readers? Tips to share from your experiences? Horror stories? Haha! Readers, what are your thoughts on beta reading? I'd love to hear about them.

Until next week, happy reading!


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