Category Archives: Writing and Wrangling


NaNo is in the air.

It’s also in my email, my Facebook newsfeed, and all over Twitter. Instagram—yup. Everywhere.

For those who don’t know, this is the gist of NaNoWriMo: For the month of November, thou shalt write every day until you reach the magic number of 50,000 words. It actually works out to 1667/day, which seems like a reachable goal, yes?

For most people, maybe. For me, not so much.

The first time I attempted NaNo I had no computer so I started off writing on yellow legal pads. I want to say this was somewhere around 2005 and I wanted to prove I was more than a flash fiction or short story writer, although there’s nothing wrong with being either. Or both.

I think I got up to about 25k and punked out. After a few months of useless editing, I burned those yellow legal pads lest someone actually SEE them and know I wrote that shit. Every error known to literature I committed in that ‘script. *shudder*

Editing cannot save every story and it certainly couldn’t save that one. And after failing so spectacularly, it was a couple of years before I tried again.

This time, I was armed with a Sony Vaio. Man, I loved that thing. It was a tank. I put out so many words on that machine it was insane. Hundreds of articles, thousands of words, whoa. I eventually wrote Athena’s Promise on it in about eight weeks. But it was like a cork was pounded into each and every finger when it came to typing out 1667 a day for the month of November. WTF? Blergh.

Better than the last one, but only 10,000 words this time before I conceded defeat. Shit happens. It was still 10k more than what I started with. But with my crazy schedule I just could not make it work.

So, in the end, I don’t think I fit with NaNo or that NaNo fits with me. And that’s okay. I do envy a tiny bit the camaraderie and the fun activities, but I’ll just cheer on the writers for whom this platform works. I don’t think I’m the only one out here for whatever reason chooses not to participate in NaNo, but it is fun to give it a try to see if it works for you. If it does, that’s great! If not, that’s great too, because believe it or not, I learned a lot from my mistakes. Especially with the first book. Wow. I kind of got that word vomit out of the way so that’s a good thing. I might try it again at some point, although it won’t be this year.

What about you? Are you doing NaNo or taking a pass?

Why I Don’t Write Book Reviews

I will, however, judge your bad fashion choices.
I will, however, judge your bad fashion choices.

I would love to. I’ve been reading since I was just out of infancy. Millions and millions of glorious, magnificent, fabulous words. Thousands of stories. Some I loved, some I hated, some that didn’t leave a lasting impression but were good for a couple of hours of entertainment. I love them all, even the bad ones. I wrote my way through my senior year of high school with book reports. In the past, I used to love writing reviews.

Things Are Different Now

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Amazon cracking down on reviews in an attempt to clean up the rather nasty problem of fake reviews and sock puppets. Now, Amazon says if you know an author, you may not review. Their TOS clearly states if you have a financial stake in a book, you cannot review, and they are removing reviews even as we speak.
From the start of my career as a professional editor, my policy has been I do not review. It sucks because I am an avid reader, the biggest fan of STORY. It’s part of the price I pay to do what I love for a living, and while I wish I could review, I can’t.

No Review For You

Think about it. If I review a client’s book, it’s a conflict of interest. Although I work on a flat fee basis and have no direct financial stake in its success, of course I want my clients to do well. What kind of credibility would I have in reviewing a client’s book? None. I will say I do not take on stories I don’t believe in 100%. I don’t work on books that are not ready or that I don’t like, and I am blessed with a wicked talented roster of clients. When I say I love a story or a character, I absolutely mean it or I wouldn’t say it.

But a detailed review? Can’t do it. It would be suspect and rightfully so.

Other People’s Work

“But what about other authors?” you may ask.

I’m glad you did.

I wish I could, but again, there pops up the specter of credibility. Not only that, but my personal reading time is really limited, and most of my reading time is spent on manuscripts I’m editing or craft books. I read outside that as time allows and to keep up with trends, but the fact is editing is my business and I find it difficult to read as a reader now and not an editor. It makes me sad sometimes, but the bright side is I’m doing what I love so how can I hold a grudge?

So, reviewing books as long as I’m working as an editor is a moral and ethical line I’m not willing to cross. Although I understand what Amazon is trying to do, I don’t fully agree with the way they’re going about it. You can’t really divorce the writer from the reader, and in today’s social media climate, readers know writers in a way unprecedented in the past.

I don’t have a solution, but I am watching Amazon and wondering how this is all going to shake out.

What do you think about Amazon’s new policy as a reader, writer, or editor?

Hard Work Pays Off!

Wow, so much is going on lately my head’s spinning. Those of you who subscribe to the writer’s newsletter on already know some of this, PLUS you received a brand-new story from me! If anyone else is interested in reading MOSAIC, just sign up for the newsletter and boom. It’s yours.


Three years ago Patti Larsen introduced me to Sydlynn Thadea Hayle and her family. It is accurate to say my life has not been the same since.

I knew from the first book in the Hayle Coven Novels that all Syd had to do was get in front of the right people, at the right time, and the right place. I had a BLAST editing Syd’s stories–and I live in total amazement at the prolific and stellar talent from Patti Larsen. She’s a total professional with a work ethic that could fell Paul Bunyan. The woman is an animal.

So it is with a great deal of smugness and I TOLD YOU SO-ITIS that I announce Patti Larsen’s FAMILY MAGIC won the World’s Best Story of 2014 competition out of a field of over 1,000.


Oh yeah! Which means Syd and Patti are on their way to a traditional publishing contract, distribution, and a book tour. Possibly MOVIES. Or TV. CAN YOU EVEN STAND IT?

Me neither 🙂

I’m incredibly proud of Patti and the work that’s gone into the Hayle Universe. This is one of those “overnight” successes which only took years, sweat, tears, and blood. But that’s why we love our job, no?


Aaron Galvin has not only released the second in his Salted series,Taken With A Grain of Salt, he’s made Salted, the first book, FREE.

He’s also on a book tour in Indiana; check here for dates and places.

Praise for Salted:

Debut author Aaron Galvin gives us robust characters and non-stop action, making this imaginative story of characters from a parallel, underwater world (the Salt) worth a look.

Finally a fresh take on what goes on under the sea. A thrilling, dark, page turner that leaves the reader wanting more. I am definitely hooked and eagerly awaiting the sequel. Although it is under the YA genre, adults will love this book. Readers will enjoy the exposure to a new fantasy world that has not been done before. The characters are well developed and interesting. A great read, highly recommend!!

Congratulations, Aaron!


I can’t believe it’s December already. This year FLEW. I’m already mulling over plans for 2015–I’m thinking about doing another anthology based on the Zodiac, playing with Sally Mae, and finishing up a few loose ends in addition to the work flow.

What plans are you pondering?


Welcome to my new digs! Sometimes, in seeming catastrophe, good things can happen.

I’ve had the plan for some time to break off my editing brain from my writerly brain but still have them linked. Due to unavoidable circumstances, the timeline for that process has been bumped up considerably.

Instead of looking at it as a disaster, I’m going to take it and shape it into an OPPORTUNITY.

Here on, you will find the editing half of my brain. Later on this year, I’ll introduce you to the writerly half.

I’ll let you guess which half is which. Photo courtesy of

In the meantime, hang tight while I hang curtains and throw a little paint on the walls. I’ll have it spiffy in no time!

Before you leave, take a quick minute and sign up for my monthly newsletter. It’s chock-full of editing goodness and the latest on new releases from some outstanding authors. See you there!

What’s Going On

Well, you know. The usual. Busy is BUSY, but that’s nothing unusual for not only me, but most everyone I know. And while busy is good, it can also be frazzling sometimes. Especially when you share space with a judgmental and obnoxious cat who is all up in your business 24/7. Not mentioning any names.

The bitchiest cat face on the planet. Judging. Always judging.

I’m not the most dedicated of bloggers on the planet, that’s for sure. And when I do decide to post, I have ten million ideas but when I open up a blank document, do you think I can find a brain cell? Hell, no. They scatter like rats deserting the Black Pearl sucked into a black, watery vortex. Please tell me I’m not the only one.

Since I’ve wanted to impart some editing tips and tricks for the longest time, I figured the easiest way was to create a monthly newsletter. You can sign up at the top of this page–and it will be information you won’t see posted on the blog. I’ll also include a shout-out to the writers I know who are releasing some outstanding work.

The first newsletter launched January 31st, and included five important editing tips when starting the editing process. On February 28th, the newsletter will continue on this editing journey with what you should look for in your First Read. Tell you what–sign up today and I’ll make sure you get the first five tips, too.

Now to get this feline out of my face so I can work. Wish me luck. Heh.

MeiLin Miranda Reads VISTA BRIDGE At ComicCon!

Yes! It’s true! Here’s our own MeiLin Miranda reading her story based on the Wheel of Fortune card from Allegories of the Tarot

at ComicCon:

What a fabulous job

Two quick things: If you purchase the paperback copy of Allegories you get the KINDLE version FOR FREE. Yes. You do.

AND…the first monthly Word Webber newsletter will be coming out January 31st. Sign up now so you don’t miss anything! Like new releases, some editing tips, and a SPECIAL SURPRISE. Heh.

Go on, now. Go kick Monday in the taco!


Preditors and Editors Reader’s Awards of 2013

While you’re here, don’t forget to sign up for the new monthly newsletter! It will include new release news, tasty tidbits, and probably some shenanigans. Because that’s how I roll.

So the results of the Preditor and Editors Readers Poll of 2013 are in. Congratulations to all the participants and to the winners!

As you may be able to tell from the nifty new badges on the sidebar, Allegories of the Tarot placed in the top ten, and I also placed in the top ten. What those badges don’t tell you is Allegories placed at number five out of a field of sixty fabulous anthologies, and I placed at number two.



I’m thrilled because each and every one of the contributors to the anthology worked their asses off, and every single one brought their A game. I’m so incredibly proud of the volume we put together I can hardly stand it. I know I might be biased, but I really feel this is the best group of stories I’ve ever read. Working on the anthology with this group of writers was AMAZING. It was fun, wild, crazy, and one of the best experiences of my life, not just my editing career. Just…man. Thank you, guys. You are wonderful to work with, and I am honored you came along with me on this ride. MAD LOVE.

I’d also like to thank all the backers from the Indiegogo campaign who helped make this happen. We couldn’t have done it without you, so this is your victory as much as it is ours. THANK YOU, for believing in this project and helping us realize our vision.

As for the editor award–I’m gobsmacked and yes, very happy. An editor’s job is to make the work the best it can be, and for it to look like an editor was never there. We’re the shadow people So to be honored with an award like this is really validating, although if I’m to be completely honest, it feels a little weird, too. The editor/writer relationship is between two people, and it’s special. I’d like to thank my absolutely stellar clients who keep me on my toes, total involvement in the editing process, and most of all, for the trust they have in me. I’m grateful and feel so honored.



Vote For Your Favorite Editor and Anthology!

Yes, it’s that time of year–the Annual Preditors and Editors Reading Poll. I’m really thrilled and honored to be nominated for the Best Editor award this year–and today is the last day to vote.


I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate being nominated in the first place. I work with some amazing authors and I absolutely love what I do. Allegories of the Tarot was a major project in 2013, and I’m beyond proud at the teamwork producing an outstanding collection.

If you feel the same way and would like to show your support, you can vote for the anthology here and if you happen to have a favorite editor *cough cough* you can vote for Best Editor here.

While you’re at it, take a look at the categories–you may find some favorite authors, books, and artists you can support. The site loads a little slow at times, but this kind of endorsement and affirmation means a lot to the indies who work hard to publish quality books for your reading pleasure.

Please take a minute to cast your vote for your favorites. We all appreciate it so much!

Good luck to all the nominees!




WOW. November was one busy month and it FLEW. Once ALLEGORIES OF THE TAROT released it was one huge blur until the end of the amazing blog tour sponsored by Badass Marketing. And let me tell you, it was BADASS. The contest was a resounding success, and the winners announced here and will be contacted later today with their prizes or arrangements to deliver their prizes.

I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Badass Marketing. They were on top of EVERYTHING which relieved a huge amount of pressure from me. Organized, accessible, friendly, and tons of fun. If you’re looking for a marketing ninja, I can’t recommend this company highly enough.

Allegories of the Tarot was a special project straight from my heart. I wrote about what it meant to me here. It really was one of the best experiences of my life, and I’m thrilled with its reception, although I’m feeling the sadz that’s it’s all over. I loved every minute of putting this together, and I had the best team in the history of teams. Make sure to look up the authors included in this volume of outstanding talent–you will not be disappointed.

Please leave a review if you’ve read Allegories–I’d love to hear your opinion. Reviews and word of mouth is so important to indies, and we appreciate every single review, no matter your opinion. And remember, if you buy the print version, you’ll get the Kindle version for free. A great Christmas present!


Speaking of great Christmas presents, it can be quite a conundrum to decide what to give to the writer in your life. I can help you with that. This year, for the first time, I am offering a limited number of gift certificates for editing services.

Manuscript Evaluation: An overall manuscript evaluation is available. A manuscript evaluation includes an assessment of the overall plot, story arc, characterization, and story flow. It does not include line edits, copy edits, or in-line comments. A complete document will be provided with an honest opinion of strengths and weaknesses and where improvements can be made, up to a 50k word count. Additional charges will be assessed for longer material. Normally, this service runs for $250, but for the holiday season only the purchase price is $199. You will be provided with a printable gift certificate to present to your beloved writer.

Three Chapter Evaluation: A three-chapter evaluation includes suggestions on improving the opening chapters to draw in the reader, establishment of character and inciting incident. It does not include line edits, copy edits, or in-line comments. A complete document will be provided with an honest opinion of strengths, weaknesses, and where improvements can be made. For the holiday season, this service is only $50. This also comes with a printable gift certificate to slip into your favorite writer’s stocking.
Both services are in limited number, so get ‘em while you can!
Contact me at annetta(dot)ribken(at) for more information and details.
And finally, I just want to remind you that you can keep up with the new releases on my Editing Work page. I try to keep it updated, but if you want great reading, that’s the place to find it.
In the meantime, thanks to everyone for all their support for ALLEGORIES. Go forth and READ ALL THE WORDS!


allegoriesblogtourbannerGet to know Timothy Bryant Smith, one of the 22 contributors to the recently-released Allegories of the Tarot Anthology (which is already trailblazing its way up the fantasy anthology charts on Amazon!). Timothy wrote his tale, Transformation, based on the Death card.

Get the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology in on AmazonSmashwords,Kobo, and everywhere else e-books are sold. Add the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology to your Goodreads to-read shelf!

About Timothy

timothy-smithTimothy Smith lives in North Carolina where he and his wife split their time between running their restaurant, indulging in creative projects, and spending time with their two dogs. A lifelong student of symbolism and creative expression, Timothy has always enjoyed exploring the eclectic myths and archetypal characters of various religions and their respective cultures throughout history. Inspired in his youth by the insights of Jung, Campbell, and other authors who defined the field of comparative mythologies and their impact on culture and the human condition, Timothy has studied and practiced various systems of divination since his childhood.

This is Timothy’s first contribution to an anthology, but hopefully not his last.

Just a few questions…

What intrigues you about this particular Tarot card? Aside from the Lovers card, the Death card is (perhaps) one of the most frequently misinterpreted cards in the deck. Death, as an inevitability of living, is such a taboo subject to begin with. The Death card invokes such vivid imagery, sadly, it only serves to confound the neophyte interpreter into thinking an issue of mortality must be at hand. The involuntarily and reflexively dire associations that come with drawing the Death card are, unavoidably, a manifestation and expression of the individual’s fear of dying—as if drawing this card is some sort of harbinger of physical death. This, of course, is completely inaccurate and a repeatedly misused portend of what this card is actually meant to represent. The specter of the Death card (as a harbinger the physical event) is often abused in movies, television, and pop culture. Just as the Lovers card is often falsely portrayed as the dealing with sex, or the Devil card having something to do with the ultimate personification of evil, these types of cursory interpretations have always frustrated me when I see them. The Death card offers a sacred knowledge so very much more profound than what pop culture has attempted to paint it as meaning.

Why did you decide to get roped into this project? I have repeatedly broken a promise to my special friend Annetta Ribken to write something worthy of publishing. This might be my chance to make good on that promise.

Have you ever had dealings with the Tarot before? Yes. I was that weird little kid who had a deck of Tarot cards hidden under his bed instead of Playboy magazines (ok… I had a few of those as well). Divination has fascinated me my entire life and continues to fascinate me to this day. It has always provided me with a special counsel; a conduit of imagery, metaphor, and allusion which allows me to transmogrify unconscious desire into lucid intent.

What other projects do you have planned? I have often wanted to create an in-depth compendium of divination, its systems and the cultures from which they originate, and an interactive experience by which people could learn what real divination can be and mean to the journey we must all go through. Maybe even help reclaim it from the ridicule both science and religion have heaped upon it (having never actually studied it or simply fearing it, respectively). Divination provides an answer that both science and religion have, to date, failed to provide. This project, sadly, remains an infrequently visited folder on the desktop of my life.

How did you decide what to write about? When Annetta asked me to write one of the stories (I was a bit late to the selection of cards) nearly all of them had been picked by other writers.  I was both pleasantly surprised and a bit perplexed the Death card had not yet been picked.  It was one of maybe three or four left to choose from, so I grabbed it as soon as I saw it was available.

I toyed around with writing the story of the Death card as a metanarrative—the personification of Death expressing a narrative about the various takes and misconceptions of what Death is, how it’s perceived, and what it has come to mean to the cultures who fear, avoid, embrace, and worship it.  Sort of a 3000-word Facebook rant by the Grim Reaper as if It had a few minutes of humanity’s time to set them straight on a few things.  I just couldn’t get it right.  The first few drafts sounded too absolutist and didn’t leave much to the questions a reader’s imagination might have—as most metanarratives are wont to do.  I realized it lacked compassion and the ability of the readers to sympathize or immerse themselves in what was being said.  There wasn’t any real plot device or thematic vehicle to what I was writing.  So I choose instead to go back and explore a more approachable story with characters, settings, and dialogue about an event in a young woman’s life that I felt we could all relate to some degree while still getting across the idea that Death isn’t about dying, it’s about transforming in order to continue existing.

How literal did you want to get with your card? That’s problematic with the Death card, as the Death card is not meant to be taken literally.  I really wanted people to see Death the way the Tarot intends for it to be seen and understood—as a transformation from one state to another; a passageway through the cycle or circumstance of existence.  Humanity sees Death as an end of the body, something to be mourned, avoided, feared.  The Tarot intends for the Death card to be seen as a willing rite of passage the soul must make on its way back to the Source.

Is your story a part of something you’ve written about previously? Only in my story’s setting.  I am still developing a novel that is based, at least in part, in Knoxville, Tennessee the same as my allegories story.  I have no idea why this story took me there, it just happened.  I should really go there sometime, I suppose.

Would you like to have written about any other card?  Which card?  Why? I would have loved to write about any (or all) of the other cards.  Fortunately, Annetta has some amazing authors who beat me to it.  This is a really special collection of stories written by some really talented writers.

If you could have the power to divine the future, would you or would you not and why? I believe we all have this ability as long as the information is put into the correct context.  Divination, in my experience, is not really about predicting the future, it’s about becoming conscious of the present, making a choice, and having some insight as to where that choice might take you.  The deepest, powerful, and most lucid moments of personal transformation lies in being honest and aware about where you’re coming from, where you are now, what is influencing you, where your path will lead, and the new situation which will likely unfold from that awareness.  This is not magic or divination per se, rather a basic ritual of self-awareness.

The Tarot cards are tools in the guise of symbols.  Each encapsulates an archetypal area of self-awareness.  Ultimately, though, the hammer, screwdriver, saw blade, and measuring tape are useless in building the abode of Self unless you take the time to understand and accept their appropriate usage and technique.  Or perhaps one could think of the Tarot cards as just one set of musical instruments one might play in orchestrating the symphony of the soul.  These symbols/tools/instruments are just “allegories” of Self and what an honor it has been getting to tell the story of at least one of them!

About Allegories of the Tarot

allegoriestarotcoverOnce upon a time, there was an editor with a fascination for the Tarot. She was struck one day by a crazy idea. “Hey,” she said. “What if twenty-two writers each wrote a story about the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot and were fashioned into an anthology?”

The idea would not leave her alone.

And thus, the Allegories of the Tarot was born.

Crowdfunded by a campaign on Indiegogo with the help and support of an amazing group of writers, twenty-two stories were crafted around the mysteries of the Tarot. The group includes a Pushcart Prize nominee, a Pulp Ark nominee, a former Bigfoot researcher, a journalist, an award-winning YA author, and a Rhysling Award winner. Professional writers, new talent, and a range of genres boggling the mind: Horror, Speculative Fiction, Bizarro Fiction, Erotica, Mystery, Humor, Paranormal, Epic Fantasy, Literary, Romance, and Historical Fantasy.

What has emerged is an outstanding collection of fiction, unique and mysterious. Stories that will make you cry, make you laugh, and make you think. Stories that make you feel the touch of the Universe.

Dare to step through the portal to shadowy realms and emotional journeys.

Get the book!

Allegories of the Tarot is available in e-book and paperback format on AmazonKobo, and in multiple e-book formats on Smashwords.

Don’t forget to add Allegories of the Tarot to your to-read shelf on Goodreads.

Connect with the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology on its websiteFacebook, and Twitter.