Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Advice for Fellow Newbies - IWSG


Click here to find the other awesome people in IWSG
Happy One Year Anniversary  Insecure Writer’s Support Group website.  Wow.  That was a mouthful.  Yes, it’s that time of the month.  No, no.  Not that time...IWSG time.  A chance to share our fears, frustrations, or offer words of wisdom with other writers.  Today, I'm lucky enough to be a co-host along with Kristin Smith, Suzanne Furness, and Fundy Blue! Be sure to swing by and say hello to them.


When Alex J. Cavanaugh put word out the IWSG was putting together a book to help other writers on their journeys, I thought I’d have nothing to contribute.  I mean, I don’t even have a book published yet. What could I possibly have to offer anyone?  Then, I realized, waitaminute, I do have some words of wisdom to pass along.  Here they are:

Don’t be afraid to share your writing with a critique partner.

Perhaps not the most earth shattering piece of advice but worthy enough to pass along to nervous newbies like me.  

I was petrified to ask someone to review my book.  What if they told me it was a piece of garbage? What if they said it had terrible characters or an awful plot?  I didn’t think I could handle the criticisms. Even if they weren’t catastrophic.  

Finally, I told myself enough is enough.  I reached out to one of my favorite authors for a helping hand.  I chose him because I loved his writing and his crazy sense of humor.  He’s a great fit for me and has been with me every step of the way.  It was the best thing I ever did for my writing.  Not only did I learn how to fine tune my work and accept writing tips without being offended, I made a great friend too.  

If you’re almost finished with your work in progress, it’s time to start thinking about finding a critique partner or two.  Search for someone you think you’d get along with so their suggestions won’t feel so personal.  Look for a writer with a similar style to yours even if it’s not in your genre.  Find an author who’s a few steps ahead of you in their journey.  The best people to help you are those who’ve walked the path before you.

Good luck on your journeys my fellow newbies!

(Category: Writing.  I give Alex Cavanaugh permission to use this submission for his book)



On a side note, I’m looking for someone who has experience with relational trauma or any kind of addiction (either yourself or a close family member/friend) to critique my self-help book on recovering from a partner’s sex addiction.  

You don’t have to personally identify with sex addiction, just be familiar with recovery work. I have someone helping me with grammar and all that fun stuff, but I want to make sure it’s as helpful as it can be. It’s less than 95 pages.  If you feel you can help, please leave a comment below or email me directly to remain confidential: mock.turtle.musings @ gmail.com.  Thank you!

112 comments:

  1. I hope you find someone. Today is the best day to ask though.
    Never be afraid to share with critique partners! You've seen the comments from mine that I've posted on my blog - they are hilarious. How I can I be stressed knowing I will get back comments as awesome as those that will keep me laughing?
    Thanks for contributing to the book, Elsie!

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    1. Thanks, Alex. I just need to be patient. If I didn't ask, I'd regret it. And, if I don't find someone here, I'll ask somewhere else.

      My CP makes me laugh every time I get my work back from him. I love it!! Glad yours do the same for you. What's life without laughter?

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  2. My stepfather was a recovering alcoholic, but I'm afraid I don't know much about his recovery process. I'm sure someone out there can help you though.

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    1. Thank you, Diane. I'm sorry to hear your step-dad was an alcoholic, but I'm glad he was in recovery. There's bound to be someone who fits my incredibility high request. ;)

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  3. Hi Elsie - it's a sensitive subject and I certainly hope someone will come forward or a few people - good luck with that. Reaching out always helps though ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Thank you, Hilary. I figured it couldn't hurt to ask otherwise, I'd never know. Take care!

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  4. Wonderful advice Elsie. And I'm curious about your book. Wish I could help, but I've only known people who have gone through recovery (alcohol and drugs) and haven't been through the process myself.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. It seems most people have been touched by addiction in one way or another. Glad the people you know are in recovery.

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  5. When the writer is ready, it is important to share your words with the right people. Glad you found such a great mentor! Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month. What an exciting month it is!
    Play off the Page

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    1. It really is an exciting month and it's just getting started - woot! woot! I'm truly blessed to have such an awesome CP. He really rocks and I've learned so much from him, it's ridiculous!

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  6. Showing your work to someone else who knows what they're doing is probably the biggest step for any beginning writer. It was years before I showed my words to anyone, and my stories are now better because of it.

    Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG this month!

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    1. It really is a great first step in preparing yourself for releasing your book into the "real" world. I was petrified of what people would think of my writing but now with a great CP, my fears aren't nearly as bad. Glad you found someone to inspire you too.

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  7. Remember that saying "two heads are better than one?" Sharing your story and brainstorming with someone is fun and inspiring. Yes it is very scary to share the story with another person, but if she/he is the right one, you will have a much better story to share with the world! Best wishes. Thanks for co-hosting!

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    1. I agree. I think different people have different styles. That's why it's important to not only share our work with someone, but finding that right someone is important too. Thank you!

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  8. I was fortunate to find a great critique partner through my blog for my latest novel. Someone who is able to be very honest (to a fault!!!) but tell me in a way that makes me want to improve the scene instead of shred it. If you find a good critique partner, hold on tight. It took me almost ten years to find the one I got. :))

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    1. Wow. Ten years. I'm lucky I found my CP so quickly. He's just like yours, able to critique me without making me want to throw it all in the garbage. I love his honesty because he just has a knack for making me laugh about my mistakes.

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  9. Man, the nightmares I had with critique partners, but the last one I had was great! We were paired up for our query & first words to battle, and we really supported each other so much that we switched off MS's.

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    1. I love hearing when a CP clicks with someone. I didn't realize how extraordinarily lucky I am to have found such a great CP on my first try.

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  10. Awesome. Critique partners and such a tricky thing to find. I probably tested out ten before I found the two I completely click with. It's definitely part of the journey, eh?

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    1. I'm definitely grateful my CP and I clicked right away. Don't tell him (don't want his head to swell too much), but he's one of my favorite bloggers and writers. So I was a fan of his before he started helping me and when he said he'd critique me, I was shocked! ;)

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    2. Just goes to show, you never know unless ask, eh?

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  11. Best thing I ever did was join a writer's critique group. At our meetings we bring 5 pages and pass them around. It's a fun way to get immediate feedback. Finding a critique partner for a novel is trickier.

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    1. I really need to do what you did. I don't know why I'm so afraid because we've all felt insecure about our work at one time or another so they'll understand my fears. Bravo to you for joining the group.

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  12. This is a great thing to share. I met my first critique partner at a writers' conference in the elevator. We hit it off and she helped me incredibly.

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    1. I love how you guys met! What a fun story to share. Yeah, I really need to get to a conference one of these days.

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  13. Hi Elsie and thanks for co-hosting us today! I was fortunate to start my first novel while in a critique group. I've had a couple of writing buddies and just joined a new CQ after being away from that process for a while. Nothing holds your feet to fire more than a your fellow authors who are honest, supportive, and want to help you succeed.

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    1. So true, Dean. Being able to find that support by fellow writers is priceless. That's why I love the IWSG. So many people helping each other on their writing journeys.

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  14. Elsie, good post. My critique partners over the years have made all the difference in my journey. Wouldn't be here today without them. Thanks for co-hosting~!

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    1. I'm glad you've found great CPs to help you along your writing career. They really are a treasure.

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  15. What a thoughtful post to send to others like you, and, I don't think this advise is just for newbies. I think this is something all of us can use, or be reminded of. Thanks for sharing and for co-hosting today!

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    1. You're absolutely right. Just when I think I know almost everything about a particular topic, I read someone's advice and an awakening dawns.

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  16. I definitely need to find a CP!! It would help so much!! Good advice.

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    1. I can't stress enough how much my CP has helped me. I hope you find a great one too :)

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  17. Great advice indeed, i get some smart arse comments back sometimes and I make smart arse comments, but it just helps one to laugh at the stupid mistake and fix it, making it all the better.

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    1. I love those smart ass comments I get from Bryan. He makes it almost, almost painless when he tears me apart. I'm kidding, he doesn't tear me apart. Just crushes my soul. It's all good. haha

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  18. Hi, Elsie! Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG with me! :)

    I didn't realize how crucial it is to have a critique partner until I got one. Now, I don't know what I ever did without her! Not only is she a great sounding board, but she's also my personal cheerleader—can't get better than that! So, yes, every writer NEEDS a critique partner! Great post! And great addition to the anthology! :)

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    1. I thank you back, Kristin. I love being a co-host. It's a great opportunity to meet new people. Lots of fun. Yep, I totally relate to how you feel. I can't imagine why I tried to write without a CP. And, my poor guy read my WIP from the jump, so he saw ALL the crap I needed to learn.

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  19. Oh, I completely forgot about the Insecure Writer's group! That is just what I need right now as I'm working on my first novel. I will definitely check that out.

    And your advice is great. At first, as I've been writing, I thought there's no way I can have anyone read my stuff before it's published! But then I thought, would I rather wait and hear all the negative, unhelpful critiques, or would I want someone to kindly point out things that needed improvement? I choose the second :) When I get to that point, I will definitely be reaching out to some people for help!

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    1. Yep, this is a great way to get help, encouragement and honesty from some really great people. I love the IWSG. That's exactly what helped motivate me. I was more afraid of negative reviews than of having one person gently guide me in the right direction. Of course, that doesn't guarantee I won't have any negative reviews - can't please everyone. Best of luck to you!

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  20. I think it's difficult for most newbie writers to give their work up for critique, even by a friendly person. When you write something yourself, when you've put all that love and passion into it, it hurts. It takes some adjusting to take it in positively, to learn that passion is the base but there's more to learn and there's way to better perfect the work and your own talents. It's great advise, quite necessary.

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    1. Absolutely, D. It takes time to not let those critiques hit your heart and make you feel like the world is coming to an end. Okay, that's a bit dramatic. More like you'll up and quit writing forever. No, wait that's pretty dramatic too. hehehe

      I'm so glad you shared your writing over on your other blog. It freakin' rocked. I really can't wait to read more. Keep me posted!!

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  21. Excellent newbie advice, Elsie. And it was so cool of your crit partner to take you on!

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    1. I don't think he knew what he was getting into. I was a high maintenance project when accepted my request. Poor guy. I know I drove him insane. ;p

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  22. I guess I'm just not on the CP train.

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    1. It's never too late. haha

      I'm surprised no one has you as a CP. You'd make an awesome one.

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  23. aww Im happy you comeback and I hope you back for a while ......I hope:)
    hugs!

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    1. I'm here, my friend. I was on vacation but now I'm all settled back into place. Great to see you!! xoxo

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  24. It might not be earth-shattering, but it's ESSENTIAL, and we all need to be reminded of how important it is. All of us. Often. LOL

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    1. Ohhh, that is such a better word - essential. I need reminders like these all the time. Keeps my ego in check. :)

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  25. Thank you for co-hosting IWSG for September, Elsie. Insecurity at the critique portion of writing a novel isn't just a newbie thing. For me, it never goes away! I try to imagine Stephen King handing his latest WIP over to wife Tabitha: Here, dear, have a go at this one.

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    1. And now I have a picture of King doing just that. It must be difficult to critique him, them being married and all. Then again, I'm sure he critiques her work too. Not too shabby having a CP like him.

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  26. Great advice and it is easier to deal with criticism from someone who has walked a similar path because they can relate and judgements don't impede.

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    1. Exactly. The can hand out suggestions in a way you know is productive and not snarky because they've been there, done that.

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  27. I'm still not at the CP stage yet...maybe someday....great advice, though. Thank you for co-hosting this month!

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    1. Thanks for swinging by, Mark. It felt like forever before I was ready for a CP. I think I was only 60 pages in when I had to ask for some guidance.

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  28. Great advice. I am a huge fan of critique groups. They lend support and direction to a newbie.
    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

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    1. I really need to see if there is some kind of writing group in my area. There has to be!!

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  29. Excellent advice. Sending your work out is nerve racking but so worth while. Thanks for being a fellow co-host this month too :)

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    1. That wait on my first submission to my CP was brutal. Thankfully, he turned it around wicked quick. Then, I didn't worry so much when I saw a ton of red on page. I knew it was going to help me become a better writer.

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  30. I'm always afraid that people will be cruel with critiquing my work...one of the reasons I don't do many craft shows and am afraid to peddle my crafts to stores.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that, JoJo. I think your crafts are awesome and worthy of a craft show.

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  31. I had a really rotten experience my first time out so it is really important to find the right person to help you.

    Great post.

    Thanks for co-hosting!

    Heather

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    1. Oh no! I hope things got better after your first CP.

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  32. it takes a bit of humility to take on a crit partner...you have to be willing to listen..and then be willing to make changes to make the book work...and nothing is sacred...and dont take it personally...ha...crit-ing takes a bit of trust as well...

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    1. Agreed. You have to be able to keep your ego in check, your defenses down, and need to remember they are there to help you improve, not bash you.

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  33. Great advice for newbies. I'm lucky to have amazing critique partners. My stories are better because of them.

    Thanks for co-hosting.

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    1. I think mine will turn out better because of my CP too. I can't imagine trying to publish it without all his words of wisdom.

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  34. Great tips for newbe writers. with three books published I feel pleased I took the decision to publish.

    Thanks for your great comment, much appreciated.

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    1. Thank you, I appreciate that. I can't wait until I can say I have three books published, let alone written.

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  35. Great advice! Finding good critique partners is essential for any writer especially since after a while, we become blind to the faults in our work. Thanks for co-hosting!

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    1. I didn't even think about not being able to see our own mistakes because we're so used to making them. You're right. We do become immune to some things.

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  36. Terrific advice on a critique partner, very important for a writer's toolbox. Erin Ireland, author of A Voice in the Night recently visited my blog. You may want read her post to see if you'd like to reach out to her. Link...


    Best regards,
    Donna McDine
    Award-winning Children’s Author
    Ignite Curiosity in your child through reading!
    Write What Inspires You Blog

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    1. Yikes the link did not appear... Here it is http://donna-mcdine.blogspot.com/2014/09/domestic-abuse-voice-in-night-by-erin.html

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    2. Thank you so much for the link. I'm headed over to check her out right now.

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  37. I agree that finding the right critique partner is very important. Ask for the truth, and avoid anyone that is all fluff and slaps on the back. You won't get better with JUST praise. I'd rather get the hard truth and learn something new than to get compliments and learn nothing at all. :-)

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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    1. Exactly. Sometimes it takes a bit of eye-opening for us newbies to see our mistakes. I think we get a bit too close to our work sometimes. And, you're right. I'd never learn anything if my CP just told me how awesome I am. Besides, I already know that. ;p

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  38. I love this article. While I seem to have trouble finding good reviews, it amazes me how many writers don't think they need that element. Without siting in a writing class, critique partners are the only way one's writing wil improve and or evolve. Thanks for sharing and thanks for co-hosting.

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    1. My writing class was long ago. Bordering on fifteen years, I think. I'm sure much has changed since then. Also, I like the closeness of having someone read my work. I feel like they're apt to teach me more that way.

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    2. Toinette - in case you come back, I wanted to let you know I couldn't find the link to your blog on Google+…I'm not as savvy as I thought!

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  39. Good point, it's so important to learn to let other people read your work and learn from their critiques. I'm hoping I'll be ready soon to look for some critique partners! Yay! :)

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    1. Ah, you must be close to finishing your work. Good luck with it!! And, early congrats to you!

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  40. Thanks for co-hosting this month, Elsie. Great advice about a critique partner. When you find a good one, it's like finding gold.

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    1. Yes, critique partners are a treasure to appreciate.

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  41. That's wonderful advice Elsie. I'm a little behind the ball in finding critique partners. I was hoping to have what I was working on completed a bit earlier this year, but it didn't happen. I'll keep plugging away at it, and hopefully by the holidays I can have something I can show to a CP. Thanks for co-hosting this month!

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    1. I was early to the CP game too. I was clueless when I should find one so I asked for one before my WIP was even finished. Poor guy. I ran him through the ringer. Thankfully, he has a ton of patience.

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  42. Critique partners can be a blessing or a curse. It all depends on your luck to find a good one or a bad one. At first I ran into all the wrong ones but later my luck changed and I found some amazing CP's. They can make all the difference in the world. :)

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    1. I agree with you, Al. I kinda look at it the way I look at sponsorship in my twelve steps. Sometimes we are a perfect fit with someone and things grow naturally in the relationship. Others, not so much. Rather than be bummed it didn't work out, I part ways, taking with me all I learned from them and move on. CP is much the same way.

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  43. Hello Elsie and thank you for co-hosting this special anniversary month! You've shared some great advice here and I think it'll make a great addition to the anthology.

    As for you work, I would highly recommend reading Patrick Carnes if you haven't already- he's the go-to guy for well researched and personal information on sex addiction. Specifically "Don't Call it Love" is the one I would recommend.

    While no one close to me personally is recovery from this specific addiction I've been and addictions therapist for the bulk of my career and counseled and handful of individuals with this particular breed of compulsivity and I'd be happy to give you my perspective if you'd like. You can e-mail me at beverly.fox@gmail.com But either way, definitely check out Patrick Carnes.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Beverly. I appreciate them. After my hubby was diagnosed, I devoured every book I could get my hands on about his addiction. Carnes was the first one I read. Scared the pants off of me but it was something I knew I had to be aware of if I stayed with him during his recovery. I also read Melanie Beaty (I think that's how she spells it) and Barbara Steffans. I found most of my help in her book.

      I am so grateful to you for your willingness to help me. Your expertise in the situation is exactly what I was hoping for. I'll be emailing you shortly. Again, thank you!!!

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  44. Great post. I'll keep your advice in mind. Thanks for co-hosting.
    Juneta at Writer's Gambit

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  45. Hi Elsie, thank you for your kind comments to a newbie. Having a critique partner feels a long way off at the moment but hopefully by the time I get there things will have fallen into place a bit more,
    Angela

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    1. I understand where you're coming from. I probably jumped the gun a bit too soon but I don't regret it at all. My CP was so helpful, it saved me from compounding my mistakes as I wrote more. Good luck!

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    2. Angela, just in case you come back and read this - I wanted to let you know I tried to find your blog but google+ wasn't kind to me and I didn't see it.

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    3. uh... you'd already commented on mine before I made it here, so don't worry - you've obviously got a lot going on at the mo ;) it was a very nice comment and I really appreciated it

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    4. Oh good! I must have found your blog directly from the IWSG link. Too many people to remember this month :)

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  46. Getting feedback is so important - I owe a huge amount to my critique partners.

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    1. I owe a ton to mine too. He put up with a lot of crap from me….

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  47. I found corresponding with CPs was one of my biggest steps forward. It stopped me agonising over whether my work was any good and started me towards taking practical steps to improve it. I find it hard to see the wood for the trees by myself, and I think that's the case for many. I hope you find someone who is a good fit to help with your book.

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    1. Same here, Nick. When I started getting back my WIP with less and less red marks all over it, I realized, hey, I'm getting better at this writing thing, aren't I? It is hard to see the forest from the trees when stuck in the midst of it all. I think I've gotten lucky once again…two people offered. How awesome is that?

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  48. I have "spaghetti test" readers. If I'm worried about something, I throw it at them and see if it sticks. Outside perspectives are so important!

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    1. I love that phrase, spaghetti test - so true. CP have a great way of letting us know if something works or not.

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  49. Putting your work out there is scary, but if you are writing with a goal of publication, then you do need to take the risk of letting someone else not only read it, but have a reaction to it. CPs are excellent support systems, when you find the right ones. I would never have gotten any of my short stories published without their invaluable input.

    I am a social worker and have worked in the area of recovery. Lately I've worked in social services, but have experience in addiction counseling and am familiar with the field. At least in my area. I could give it a read for you. My email is donnahole at gmail.

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    1. It was so scary the first time I sent my work to my CP. I was petrified he would come back with, "this sucks, I can't read crap like this!" But, he didn't. He became a fan of my story, even with it's numerous flaws.

      Donna, I would love to get your input on my book. You're exactly the kind of person I was hoping would come along. Two people, I'm so freakin' lucky right now!! Thank you!!!

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  50. Thanks for co-hosting! Critique partners are the best, especially when you find a good fit. I had to go through a few to find the ones I have. It is terrifying, but exhilarating at the same time. :)

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  51. Having a critique partners would be best ~ I hope you find that enthusiastic partner Elsie ~ Have a good weekend ~

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  52. Hi, Elsie. Sorry it took me so long to drop by. You likely have the help you need by now. If you'd like another set of eyes and braincells, I'm good for that. I don't know sex addiction, but I'm currently working with folks in substance abuse (opiates) recovery. Rawknrobyn@aol.com.
    Also, you picked the best of the best as far as CPs and people. Bryan is one of my favorites too.

    Have a nice weekend.

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  53. Great advice and a great post for the guide. Hope you had fun hosting, Elsie. :)

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  54. You mean you're not a published author yet? I fall off the face of the earth, get stuck in orbit for what seems like forever, finally fall back into the atmosphere and what do I discover upon my return? Not a damn thing has changed!

    Get your shit together man! Lol

    I know a thing or two about addiction. Of course you already know that.

    Take care, Elsie! See you in another year or so!

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.