Bitchy Editor says this is it!

I’m obsessed with my new alter ego, who I’ve come to call Bitchy Editor. I’ve asked her to step forward out of my subconscious and oversee the re-issue of my six novels. So far she’s sunk her teeth into this first book with a blood-thirsty zeal.

She pushed for want she wanted from the fine folks at Deranged Doctor Design, leaving me with a cover I love. Check it out.

Most of her efforts, though, have centered on giving the book itself what I thought was going to be a quick once over. You know, get rid of some of those lingering adverbs. Reduce the he saids, and make the he pondereds, he chuckleds and he exclaimeds go almost completely away.

She has been doing that, and found more than I expected, but that wasn’t enough. She’s decided to look at every sentence and demand to know what it is doing in my book. Does this matter? Who cares about this? Why is this in here?

But it shows my characters development. It’s so cute. I worked so hard on that paragraph. Bitchy Editor has little sympathy for any of that, and she wants me to stop starting so many sentences with but while I’m at it.

The result is I went from about 119,000 words down to 95,000 and it’s a better book. Maybe a little less charming here and there, but readers will never miss those cute detours I took.

I gave her a chance to do one last read after I cleaned up the blood from the first mess she made, just to check the continuity on what she cut, and she’s already loped off another 3000 words and she’s not even halfway through the book. Yikes. I had no idea she lived within me.

Of course, merely eliminating words does not make for a better book. (It does make for an easier to read bad book, but that isn’t my intention.) Eliminating the right words does, and damn if Bitchy Editor doesn’t seem to have a good feel for what needs to go. She’s also added some stuff, tweaking the plot slightly to make motivation more clear.

Why didn’t your original editor do this, you might ask? Well, he did much to improve the book, and he tried to do more. I ignored too many of his suggestion and he was a little too polite with me. Bitchy Editor has no such restraint.

The good news is I’m proud of this new product already, and excited to be releasing it sometime in mid-January. I’ll post more details here.

Wise and quiet

Days aren’t what they used to be. About a year ago, I did the math and decided that If really wanted to, I could retire. I was a little young to do so, and of course one can always use the extra money from working longer. But my husband, who is a few years older, was a retired teacher already and I was discovering that being employed is harder when your spouse no longer is. Besides, I have this crazy dream of writing more speculative fiction, much more speculative fiction in fact, and I was beginning to realize that was only going to happen if I didn’t have to go into an office every day and try to figure out seismic signals bouncing up from the earth. I was ready to be an early retiree.

Psychedelic 13So I gave my notice at work, and we sold our house and moved, and I woke up in a strange new place with boxes everywhere and spent about a whole month unpacking and tying to get my arms around what sort of life I now had. All my reference points were gone, and I was far too discombobulated to post a blog, much less to write fiction. Hell, I could hardly sleep or eat. In spite of a fair amount of careful planning, this was not the dream life for which I had hoped. Nothing, other than the slowly shrinking mess of boxes, was wrong. But nothing was right either and I didn’t even know why.

Something deep inside us knows what we need. Apparently, I needed yoga. I already have a little daily qigong routine I do, and that practice helped keep me grounded through the house sale and the move. But once I arrived in a strange place and found myself with no job and no schedule, I seem to have overloaded my circuits well beyond what my solitary qigong sessions could handle. So I spontaneously signed up for a monthly all-the-yoga-classes-you-care-to-attend program in the small town that is my new home, and it probably saved my sanity.

wise and quietIt got me to breathe slowly. It got me to sit with other people who were breathing slowly. It gave me a reason to bathe and go into town and know what time it was. And, thanks to several wonderful instructors, it gave me bits of wisdom to ponder.

When I wrote x0 four years ago, I had very little idea about how to write a novel. I only knew that I was compelled to tell this story, the tale of two women who shared a special gift. In the world of x0, everyone broadcasts their emotions all the time. Only the gifted can receive that information. Only the very gifted become telepaths, because they are the ones who have the rare ability to listen well. My two heroes were gifted because they knew how to listen.

During a yoga class last week, the instructor encouraged us to be wise enough to listen to our inner selves, and to let our minds be quiet enough to hear. I decided right there on my yoga mat that this advice needed to be carried further. I needed to be wise enough to listen in general, and quiet enough to hear that which was worth hearing. I was overcome with believing that this wonderful advice was good for writers, good for would-be telepaths, good for yogis and very good for newly retired people. In fact, it is probably wonderful advice for everyone.

For one thing, if you listen, you will hear what you need to hear. Like in my case, when I heard that I needed to listen more.

(For more thoughts on retiring early and pursuing a dream, see my posts If you’re going to be an old car, Am I a Shape Shifter Now? and Greener Grass.)

How to write like a wolf

I wasn’t such a big fan of personality tests when I was younger, but once I joined the workforce I was required to take the Myers Briggs test and it changed my life. I discovered that in spite of a cheerful tendency to smile a lot and a skill for using words well, I was in fact not Miss Congeniality like everyone else thought. I was very much an introvert. Well, that suddenly explained a lot.



They say that a smart person understands others, but a wise person understands herself. The fact is, the more you understand yourself, the better you can make your approach to writing work well for you.

Recently a popular website came out with animals to represent all sixteen of the Myers Briggs types.They don’t all seem to fit perfectly, but they are sort of a fun way to look at it. You can check them out here. I happen to be a wolf, and now I try to write like one. What does that mean?



Clearly there is no right personality for an author, we come in all flavors. However, if you know you are an introvert like me, you can save time by not forcing yourself to make oodles of friends online, engaging in lots of chat about your writing. You know you always hated group projects in school, so you don’t need to turn your novel into one now. The effort to do so will just drain you.

However, if those exchanges fill you with energy, like my extroverted counterpart the dog, then you are a extrovert and would do well to benefit from this free flow of helpful ideas. Just consider getting your author friends to help you set and keep daily or weekly writing goals, lest the socializing fill your free time.



Are you a planner, or someone who prefers to take things as they come? I’m a solid planner here, so I don’t fight my need to work out exactly how I am going to write my books. As a start my fifth novel I have a pretty good idea of how fast I write and how long I want my book to be, and I literally put both word and chapter goals in my calendar to cover the six months or so during which the first draft will happen.

I once had a “wing it” style friend, more meerkat than wolf, tell me he could plan like that if he wanted to, but it would seem to him like working with a dull headache. How funny, I thought. To me it feels like working with a soft warm blanket around me. I do, however, wrestle with the unexpected. I fight my frustrations at life’s little emergencies while he struggles to make sure that his book moves along while he happily takes life as it comes. Both ways yield a novel in the end.



If you are someone who strongly favors their hunches as much as I do, you won’t want to chart out your plot that carefully. For all my planning about when and how much I am going to write, I use the loosest of outlines, with only a few key characters and a basic story line sketched out before I start. I trust my intuition to handle the rest, and it seems to do so just fine. Before I finish a book I know that several characters and plot developments will surprise me, and some of these surprises will become my favorite parts of the book.

Another author I know, more deer than wolf, defines every single occurrence in his stories in a detailed outline. He knows exactly what is going to happen before he starts writing the book. To me he seems highly suspicious of his intuition, but to him he is taking the time to give his story his very best effort. His plots are as imaginative and interesting  as any I’ve encountered, reminding me that there is no right way to be creative, only the way that works best for you.



The final Myers Briggs criteria has to do with whether your mind or your heart steers your actions. Before I began to write full length books, I guessed that the feelers had an advantage. I was surprised to discover how much thought goes into a complex plot, and into ultimately producing a book.  I fall near the middle here, only slightly more led by my heart, only slightly more wolf than octopus. In this arena I think that any author needs to find others to compliment their own tendencies. I rely on three highly analytic beta readers (including my officially-an-octopus daughter) to ferret out the plot holes that are most likely to show up in my most emotional scenes.

I happen to be a wolf, and now I try to write like one. You? You need to write like the honeybee, or lion or otter that you truly are.

(For more thoughts on being an INFJ, visit my y1 blog here.)