Monday, December 31, 2012

Finding More Balance in 2013

by Jodie Renner, freelance editor and craft-of-fiction writer

Peg Brantley’s thought-provoking article, "With Decisive Intent" and excellent list here on Friday made me start thinking about goals and balance, about assessing the year that's ending today and making plans for next year.

Although I got a lot done in 2012 workwise (edited a lot of excellent fiction and published many of craft-of-fiction blog posts and two e-books), I neglected other important areas of my life, especially health and fitness, so I hope to reach a better balance in 2013.

Here’s my personal assessment of accomplishments for 2012 and areas I need to work on for 2013:

Plus side for 2012 – Actions and efforts I feel good about:
~ Enjoyed editing lots of high-quality, well-written, compelling novels, and received encouraging email comments* and glowing testimonials** from my clients, so my job continues to be very rewarding. (See a few samples of testimonials below.)

~ Wrote and published two craft-of-fiction books, Writing a Killer Thriller and Style that Sizzles & Pacing for Power, which are both selling really well and have received 32 reviews on Amazon, and all but two are 5-stars. (See below *** for excerpts from some of the reviews of the two books.)

~ Managed to travel to some great places, including four excellent, stimulating writers’ conferences

- SDSU Writers’ Conference in San Diego in January (and met up with LJ and Drew while there).

- Tallahassee Writer’s Conference, Tallahassee, Florida, in May (met writer and editor par excellence, Jessica Morrell, and Peggy Kassees and a bunch of other awesome people in the Tallahassee Writer’s Association). 

- Jessica Morrell’s Summer in Words writers’ conference in Cannon Beach, Oregon, in June (and joined my sister from BC there). 

- Craftfest and Thrillerfest in New York City in July, where I met up with my thriller-writer clients Beverly Purdy, Ian Walkley and Dara Carr, and chatted with writers Shane Gericke, Doug Lyle, Jim Bell, Bob Dugoni, and others.

But despite/because of all that, my life has been kind of unbalanced this past year and for a few years now, with other areas being neglected, so it's time for me to pay more attention to other aspects of it.

Negative side for 2012 – Aspects of my life I neglected, areas to work on for 2013:
~ Gained too much weight from spending too much time sitting at my home computer, with the fridge and cupboards (and chocolate!) nearby.

~ My fitness level has dropped (steadily in the past several years), again from spending too much time sitting at my computer and not enough time exercising.

~ Workaholic, a bit too driven – sometimes neglected people important to me.

~ Spent too much time inside my head (and other people’s books) and not enough time paying attention to the world around me.

Jodie's Resolutions for 2013:
Cut back a bit on my editing (sorry, clients!), and no editing on weekends, so I can:

~ Write daily, or at least 3-4 hours per week, and publish another book or two.

~ Declutter my house in preparation for downsizing and selling it.

~ Concentrate on getting and staying fit. Exercise more, and go for a walk at least once a day. Get back to dancing once a week. Add line dancing.

~ Lose some weight and keep it off. (Getting a good start on this one right now.)

~ Nurture personal relationships more. Get out and socialize more.

~ Appreciate nature more. Work in my garden. Walk in the park or the woods. Nurture my spiritual side.

~ Pay attention to the news and try to make a difference in the world. Get my head out of the sand.

~ Continue to travel at every opportunity.

- How about you? Do you feel your life is pretty well-balanced? Any ways you could improve the balance a bit?

- What do you feel good about for 2012? Accomplishments? Relationships? Health and wellness? Lifestyle?

- What are some areas you feel you could work on for 2013?

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! From me and everyone here at CFC! Thanks for your support in 2012, and we wish you health, happiness, and continued creativity and productivity in 2013!

*An email I received a week ago, on Christmas Eve:

"One of the best things about 2012 was starting to work with you! I am very grateful for the heart and soul that you put into editing my book, and look forward to ever greater things in 2013!

Enjoy this beautiful time of the year, Jodie, and may the best of life fall on you and yours. I look forward to picking up where we left off soon!

Warmly, A.K."

**Two of the many testimonials I received in 2012 (both of these in December):

“Jodie Renner is a 5-star thriller editor with the eye of an eagle and the skill of a surgeon. She goes beyond copy and line editing to target even the most elusive content issues. A pleasure to work with—highly recommended."

~ Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore, Dec. 2012, #1 Amazon and international bestselling authors of The Phoenix Apostles and The Grail Conspiracy

“When Jodie Renner says ‘Let’s take your manuscript to the next level,’ she means it. Writing a thriller offers challenges unique to the genre, and Jodie is more than prepared to deal with all of them. Whether ratcheting up the tension, dealing with POV or timeline issues, grammar, or offering suggestions to enhance the plot or pick up the pace, Jodie’s suggestions are spot-on and invariably valuable. As an author, all you have to bring to the table is a manuscript and an open mind, and you will end up with a far superior product than you had when you started. I’ve worked with Jodie on two thrillers, including the Amazon Top 25 overall bestseller, The Lonely Mile, and now Parallax View, and the moment I have another thriller ready, I’ll work with her again. If you’re looking for a way to set your work apart, look no farther than Jodie Renner Editing.”

- Allan Leverone, author of thrillers, mysteries and horror novels, Dec. 1, 2012. (Parallax View will be published on Amazon in a few weeks.)

***A few excerpts from 5-star Amazon reviews of Style that Sizzles & Pacing for Power:

“Style that Sizzles is a book every fiction writer needs to have. I’ve read dozens of writing craft books, and this one is a gem. Jodie Renner addresses all the crucial issues and components in a novel and shows with great right-and-wrong examples how to trim and tighten your writing. As a professional copyeditor, she brings years of expertise to the fore and examines both the big-picture issues involved in cutting or revising scenes as well as the many micro issues such as clunky dialog and overuse of adverbs and adjectives. As a professional novelist, copyeditor, and writing coach, I can honestly say this comprehensive book covers everything a writer at any level needs to make a novel sizzle.”
-      Susanne (C.S.) Lakin, writer and editor

"Jodie Renner has achieved a remarkable feat here – she’s distilled everything a fiction writer needs to know to draft edgy, compelling fiction into a short and sweet book. And she’s done it by excluding all the fluff other craft books use as filler. 

Of course she includes the core writing techniques required for publishable manuscripts such as show vs. tell, deep POV, natural-sounding dialogue, and all the rest. But what’s exceptionally useful is that the book is essentially a micro-manual for quick, easy-to-learn techniques to pare down your writing and make it lean and mean. 

Ms. Renner is the queen of thrillers and other crime fiction, but the invaluable advice provided here is applicable to anything you write, including non-fiction."
-          Eyeclocker, Nov. 17, 2012

***And finally, a few excerpts from 5-star reviews on Amazon for Writing a Killer Thriller:
“Jodie Renner is a terrific editor, one that I trusted with my last three novels. And her advice columns are so good, I print and save them all. For thriller authors, this will be the best money you ever spend.”

- L.J. Sellers, bestselling author of provocative mysteries & thrillers

“With years of experience as a professional editor to many successful authors, Renner knows what it takes to write a good thriller, and she lays it all out here in a no-nonsense, easy-to-understand manner. From building excitement and suspense on every page, to adding tension and conflict to each chapter, this book is packed with information you simply can’t afford to miss if you want to gain that ever-elusive competitive edge in the world of fiction.”

- Andrew E. Kaufman, #1 bestselling author of The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted and While the Savage Sleeps 

“Jodie Renner’s Writing a Killer Thriller is an absolute must-have for anyone even thinking about writing a thriller. Jodie has a gift for spotting what makes a thriller work and relaying that message in a very succinct and relatable way. Her booklet will help keep your prose tight while making sure that you never forget the essentials for making a thriller hum—tension, conflict, and suspense.”

- Stephen Schreckinger, attorney and writer, New York, NY

Jodie Renner is a freelance editor specializing in thrillers, mysteries and other crime fiction. For more information on Jodie's editing services and books, please visit her website at


  1. Overall, it sounds like you had a great year, Jodie. Thanks for sharing. I have similar goals for next year and also want more balance in my life. I plan to get away from the computer more and get out of the house to take hand drumming lessons and yoga classes.

    But last year was good for me too. I wrote two novels that I'm happy with, signed with Thomas & Mercer, and sold well all year. I feel very blessed to be starting the new year is this position. Best wishes in the new year to everyone!

    1. L.J., I'm thrilled for your career. As unbalanced as you might feel, you have been an inspiration to find more balance in my own life.

      I know someone who is way into drumming. Have fun!

  2. I definitely plan to exercise more in 2013. Like many writers, I now spend far too long at a computer and nowhere near enough time outside. Happy New Year to you all, and thank you for your friendship, encouragement and support in 2012.

  3. Congratulations, LJ, on signing with Thomas & Mercer this year! Great news, and so well-deserved! And you're already a role model for me, with your cycling and dancing and spending time with the little ones in your life. Best wishes for more excellent accomplishments in 2013!

  4. Jenny, I think the plan to exercise more is a common one among writers - and busy editors, too! Let's hope we all meet our health and fitness goals for 2013!

  5. I think all of us who spend a lot of time sitting in front of computers are planning to exercise more in the New Year. I'm also planning to eat more sensibly.

    Apart from that, I have no major resolutions. Staying healthy is a big enough challenge for me.

    Happy New Year, Jodie!

  6. Congratulations on those wonderful testimonials, Jodie. They are well deserved.

    More exercise and more time with my husband are on the top of my list of things I want to improve. Pretty much in the same place they were last year. As long as they're there, though, there's always a chance I can make them happen.

  7. Thanks, Marlyn and Peg. Hopefully we can all inspire each other in the New Year! Marlyn, I hope your health improves or at least stays steady. Our health should be the number one priority for all of us! So let's hope we can all stay on track in 2013 with more exercise and eating healthy!

  8. Finding balance seems to be a never-ending struggle. Until they're willing to add a few hours to the day, I know it's something I'll be dealing with as well. Here's to a happy, healthy, safe and productive 2013 to you and everyone at CFC...

  9. Same to you, Al! I've really enjoyed working on two of your thrillers with you, and look forward to future collaborations!

  10. I'm a little late adding words here. Like Allan says, balance seems to be an endless struggle, and I'm no different than most. I work too hard and play too little. Once I submit my manuscript to Thomas & Mercer in a few weeks, I'm going to try and search for balance in my life--at least until the next one's due in a year.

    Happy New Year to all our CFC friends and readers!


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