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fiction

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!

 

LON PRATER-THE MAGICIAN INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

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Get to know Lon Prater, 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!). Lon wrote his tale, The Intern’s Story, based on The Magician card. You can read an excerpt of his story below. 

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 Lon

lon-praterLon Prater has worked in the Reactor Compartments of USS Enterprise, edited the military’s textbook on arms deals, and kept things safe in the produce and laundry industries. He lives, writes, and plays a lot of board games in Pensacola, Florida. Visit lonprater.com to find out more.

Just a few questions…

What intrigues you about this particular Tarot card? I like the idea of transformative knowledge. That having gone through certain stages, the Magician has learned a thing or two about both the divine and the mundane, and he’s been changed by it. Empowered by knowledge, the Magician is equipped to deal with what comes next.

Why did you decide to get roped into this project?  Annetta and I used to be part of a smallish online writers group. I know her talent, her obsession with quality, and her drive. There is no way I would pass up the chance to be a part of a project she believes so strongly in.

Have you ever had dealings with the Tarot before? I have had rune readings done several times by a skilled friend, but I am foggy on whether I’ve had any honest-to-gosh Tarot readings.

What other projects do you have planned? A novel I co-wrote with Josh Rountree, ALAMO RISING, is due to debut at Worldcon San Antonio this year. Having a lot of fun with promotional plans that I’ll be able to talk more about later in the year.

How did you decide what to write about? As I considered the list of cards which were still available, and reviewed their meanings, I got a flash of insight about a story I had been working on a few weeks earlier. The story didn’t work for me at the time because I didn’t know what it was about. But seeing The Magician’s element of connecting the spiritual and material worlds in order to create a new life, I instantly realized what my story was really about, and then set to redrafting it.

How literal did you want to get with your card? I didn’t really want to go for literal. The card itself is a metaphor, and taking metaphor too literally seems to cause enough problems in the world as it is, without me adding to it.

Is your story a part of something you’ve written about previously? I have actually written one other story about photographing fairies, a long time past. It wasn’t very good and I should never have let the publisher have it, but I was desperate for the feeling of having sold a story, so… Now the little zine it appeared in is long-defunct, and that story will never ever (ever ever) see the light of day again.

Would you like to have written about any other card? Which card? Why? No. Once I read the descriptions of the Magician and had that flash of insight about “The Intern’s Story” there was no chance of wanting to go with another card. It was a tense little wait when I requested it from Annetta, hoping no one else had beat me to it!

If you could have the power to divine the future, would you or would you not and why? I would love to. But with my luck it would be some terribly limited and useless divination, like I’d only be able to tell whether Hart of Dixie would get better again, or how long before men wearing jeggings becomes a capital offense.

An excerpt from The Intern’s Story

Hansom Haddix nudged the antique pickup’s three-on-the-tree column shifter back into third. The transmission shrieked like a circular saw cutting through knotty wood. The big truck shuddered, but somehow kept right on zooming down the red clay Georgia road. We were on a mission, the infamous white-haired photographer and I.

I just didn’t know what it was.

Read the rest of The Intern’s Story in the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology!

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.

 

RELEASING TODAY: THE ALLEGORIES OF THE TAROT ANTHOLOGY!

allegoriesblogtourbannerGet the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology in on Amazon and Smashwords.
Add the Allegories of the Tarot Anthology to your Goodreads to-read shelf!

Swing by the Allegories of the Tarot Facebook page and enter the release-day giveaway of a custom Tarot box–complete with Tarot deck!

allegoriestarotcover(1)Who hasn’t been fascinated by the mysterious Tarot, writer and reader alike? For centuries, fortune-telling by the Tarot has caught many an imagination, but nothing like what will be presented here.

22 cards… each an individual splinter of the human psyche.

22 writers… honing each splinter into a story of triumph and decay, arrogance and humility.

Stories of the brightest lights and the darkest corners of the weirdest minds.

22 cross-genre worlds.

22 portals into the Universal.

Only one way to get there.

Come with us. Cross the portals. The Universal awaits.

About the book

Once 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 these stories 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.

Early readers have fallen in love with the Allegories of the Tarot

“Allegories of the Tarot Anthology is a magical book. Magic that will keep you turning the pages. There are muses, demons,  psychics, evil,and more! I shivered, I laughed and I even cried. Magic, I tell you. Magic.“-Julie Affleck

“Reviewing an anthology is slightly more difficult than discussing a book or comic because the tone varies from author to author. However, Allegories somehow flowed together as a well-matched whole. The project ended up feeling like several beads strung together to form a beautiful necklace that were more amazing for being paired together.” -Jodi Scaife

“All twenty-two stories in this volume are, in a word, superb. I found myself scouring the Internet as I read it; every story made me want to go find more work by its author. The ultimate compliment I can give Allegories is to say that when I finished it, I thought how I envy those who haven’t read it yet.” -Lisa Millraney

Get the book!

Allegories of the Tarot is available in e-book and paperback format on Amazon, and in multiple e-book formats on Smashwords. Buy the print version on Amazon and get the e-version for FREE!

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.

Busy Netta Is Busy

But it’s been a fun busy. If there is such a thing.

Of course, I’ve been rolling full steam on Allegories of the Tarot (you can find the official website here), and I have to say it has been one hell of an experience. I’m learning a lot, but the best part of the whole thing is this group of writers are just…well, FABULOUS. They’re funny, and supportive, and seem to want to see this anthology come to light almost as much as I do. It’s a great group, and I love seeing how some of these writers who have never met before are forging new connections and friendships. It’s been a totally team effort, for which I’m really grateful and touched. SO. Much. Fun. You’ll see a taste of what I mean Monday, May 13th when I post a very interesting story about the Tarot cards which have taken over my house on the official website. Too hilarious.

I’ve never put an anthology together before, so I didn’t know what to expect. All I can say from what I see this is what being an indie is all about. Supporting each other, helping out, reaching out. It’s been a blast.

Red Tash graciously gave me some Internet love, and I also appeared on the blog of Pushcart Prize nominee Loren Kleinman. In the meantime, the lovely Eden Baylee interviewed me on her blog. She asked some interesting questions and it was an honor to appear. Then today, the incorrigible Laura Eno invited me to Tuesday Tea With Mistress Snark. I’m still hearing orange yammering in my ear (you’ll have to read the article to understand…) and I earned this beautiful badge, which I display with a big BOOYAH:

 

Except for the orange thing. Heh.
Except for the orange thing. Heh.

We’re working on the cover concept, thanks to the brilliance of Kris Austen Radcliffe, who has also contributed some other stunning images to the campaign. Like my very own Chariot teaser card:

 

How cool is this?
How cool is this?

There are a lot more things in the works, and everything will be updated on the on the official website as they happen. I can say I’ve received six stories so far, and every single one of them has blown off my socks. So happy!

In the meantime, I’m trying to get Sally Mae to cooperate (lawd, that girl is a handful!) and get Pallas out of the sticky wicket in which she now resides. All while keeping up with the editing, which is going really well. I love my job :) I know not many people can say that, and I feel pretty blessed.

Check out the Allegories campaign (widget in the sidebar) because there are some amazing perks up for grabs for donating, including signed pendants/magnets of the cards. Limited run. Oh, and books, mysterious swag, editing services…something for everyone. If you can’t donate, please consider sharing. The more the word gets out, the closer we get to achieving our goal. A huge thanks to the supporters, the shouters, and the writers for getting behind this and all their help. You people rock and I heart you.

 

You guys ROCK!
You guys ROCK!

Allegories of the Tarot–The Monday Scoop

Today I’m taking a little break from introducing the authors of this anthology to bring you up to date. Don’t worry! This week you will meet the writers behind The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, and The Chariot.

So far, I’ve introduced The FoolThe MagicianThe High Priestess, and The Empress. If you’ve missed anyone so far, go ahead and take a look.

Things are going well–everyone’s pulling together to get the word out, and I appreciate all the shares, Tweets, shout-outs, and most of all, the support. The writers are actually so stoked for this too, I’ve already received three stories–even before contracts and payment have gone out. Before funding! I’m so honored and touched by this, I can’t even tell you. And the stories?

HOLY. SHAZAAM.

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BOOYAH!

Photo courtesy of dantada from morguefile.com

All I can say is…this collection is going to blow your socks completely off your feet.

Coming up we have a special, one-of-a-kind perk (SO COOL) that will be posted sometime this week, and another exceptional surprise I will reveal in the next couple of weeks. So excited!

In the meantime, come on back to meet four more writers and their back stories of why they want to participate and the card they’ve chosen. You can read here how all this got started.

I’m really looking forward to putting out an excellent literary project and I’m giving this everything I have. Please help spread the word, and donate if you can. Every dollar helps, and the perks are amazing thanks to the support of the people involved. You’ll get good value for your contribution!

Thank you, thank you, to all the people who are helping to bring this project together. Mad love to you!

Spike Marlowe – The Empress

Today we’re going to meet the writer behind the next card in the deck of the Allegories of the Tarot project, Spike Marlowe. So far you’ve been introduced to The FoolThe Magician, and The High Priestess.

I’ve known Spike for a long time, and she is one of those special people who walk the paths of my heart. She tends to have that effect on people. Her work is haunting, weird, and bizarre, and once you read one of her stories, you’re hooked. Spike can take the most unusual elements and weave them into a story you never forget. Just check out the sample of Placenta of Love and you’ll see what I mean.

The card she’s chosen is The Empress–a perfect fit, in my opinion. I can’t wait to see her story.

From Wikipedia: “The Empress is mother, a creator and nurturer. In many decks she can be shown as pregnant. She can represent the creation of life, of romance, of art or business. The Empress can represent the germination of an idea before it is ready to be fully born. The Empress is often associated with Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love, and indeed the Rider-Waite deck brandishes her symbol upon a heart-shaped bolster. The Empress is also often interpreted to be Demeter, goddess of abundance. She is the giver of earthly gifts, although at the same time, she can be overprotective and possessive. In anger she can withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped: Due to her fury and grief, Demeter keeps the Earth cold and barren until Spring when her child is returned to her.”

Photo by Kris Austen Radcliffe
Photo by Kris Austen Radcliffe

What intrigues you about this particular Tarot card?

Amongst other themes, the Empress represents feminine energy and creativity. My fiction tends to be filled with this feminine energy and elements the Empress represents. And, of course, as a writer, how could I not be interested in a card that represents creativity and the act of creation?

Why did you decide to get roped into this project?

There are four reasons why I decided to do this project:

1) It’s different than the other fiction projects I’ve been working on.
2) An amazing group of people are involved.
3) The tarot is a fascinating topic, and a ripe resource for artists.
4) I adore working with Annetta Ribken.

Have you ever had dealings with the Tarot before?

I have. I’ve had friends who read Tarot, some professionally. Having them read my Tarot has always been a fascinating and illuminating experience.

What other projects do you have planned?

I just turned a draft of a new book titled Little Miss Battle Queen to my editor at Eraserhead Press. It’s basically Battle Royale with pint-sized beauty queens. I’m also looking forward to reworking a book I wrote last fall calledHowl. It’s a fantastical YA that’s part Watership Down, The Shining, Donnie Darko and Allen Ginsberg.

So much beauty, inside and out.

So much beauty, inside and out!

Bio:

Spike Marlowe is a San Francisco writer who has been known to make busking appearances wherever she travels. Though she has held a variety of odd jobs, including performer in a Wild West show, detective, Bigfoot researcher and writer for an internet content farm, she now focuses on writing bizarro and weird fiction. Her first book, Placenta of Love, is now available.

You can find Spike at her websiteBizzaro Central, on Amazon, on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter @spikemarlowe.

Check out the Allegories of the Tarot Campaign and a listing of the perks currently available on the Perks Page. Donate if you can, and share if you would. Your support is much appreciated!

Billie Sue Mosiman – The High Priestess

So, you have met The Fool and you’ve met The Magician, so now it’s time to meet The High Priestess. This is the third card and will be the third story in the Allegories of the Tarot anthology.

I know Billie Sue through Facebook, and have come to know her as a generous, supportive person. She is a gem–as busy as she is writing and converting her impressive backlist to accommodate the e-book revolution, she always has time for her fans and fellow writers. I’m so happy she decided to join this project!

Her chosen card–The High Priestess.

From Wikipedia: “Commonly this card is associated with the card reader or the querant, because it is also focused on ‘secrets’. It also interpreted when a secret is kept or revealed, when you are holding on to the truth or revealing it. The card is associated with mystery, when powerful feminine influences and support are currently in force for the querant. It can also represent the perfect woman in a man’s life, and to a woman it can represent being independently solo, perhaps without a man.”

Beauty and mystery, which suits Billie Sue to a ‘T’. Photo by Kris Austen Radcliffe

What intrigues you about this particular Tarot card?

The High Priestess is involved with intuition, higher powers, mystery, and subconscious mind. I’ve always thought the card was very intriguing with the priestess sitting before an elegant veil and she sits between darkness and light, represented by the pillars of Solomon’s temple. It made me wonder—did she advise Solomon? Did he listen?

Why did you decide to get roped into this project?

I trust the editor and although I’ve written one short story years ago for an anthology on the Tarot, I wanted another crack at it.

Have you ever had dealings with the Tarot before?

I have a few decks and have played with them before because they’re beautiful works of art and they’re mysterious.

What other projects do you have planned?

I have a few short stories that have been bought for other anthologies and I’m always writing new stories while trying to finish a new novel.

Mysterious her own self. :)

Bio: Billie Sue Mosiman sold her first novel in 1983 and since then has published more than a dozen novels and hundreds of short stories. She was nominated for the Edgar and was a finalist for the Stoker.

You can find Billie Sue on her blogon Facebook, at her YouTube Channel, her Amazon Author page, or follow her on Twitter @billiemosiman.

Billie Sue has generously donated a copy of her book, BANISHED for the Allegories of the Tarot Campaign, along with other cool swag which you can find on the Perks Page.

Lon Prater – The Magician

Yesterday we met The Fool and Peter Giglio, the writer behind the card. Today we meet another of the authors included in the Allegories of the Tarot anthology, Lon Prater. I had the pleasure of working with Lon in a small critique group many moons ago at the beginning of my fiction career. He was kind and supportive to a fledgling wordslinger, and whether he realizes it or not, taught me a lot.

He chose The Magician–the first numbered card in the Tarot deck. And that surprised me not one bit.

From Wikipedia: “In the Magician’s right hand is a wand raised towards heaven, the sky or the element æther, while his left hand is pointing to the earth. This iconographic gesture has multiple meanings, but is endemic to the Mysteries, symbolizing divine immanence, the ability of the magician to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. On the table in front of the Magician the symbols of the four Tarot suits signify the Classical elements of earth, air, fire and water. Beneath are roses and lilies, changed into garden flowers, to show the culture of aspiration.

“When the Magician appears in a spread, it points to the talents, capabilities and resources at the querent’s disposal. Depending on the card’s placement in relation to other cards, the message is to tap into one’s full potential rather than holding back, especially when there is a need to transform something. There are choices and directions to take. Guidance can arrive through one’s own intuition or in the form of someone who brings about change or transformation.

“The card can mean that a manipulator is floating around, usually if it’s reversed. He may be a beneficent guide, but he does not necessarily have our best interests in mind. He may also represent the querent’s ego or self-awareness. He can also represent the intoxication of power, both good and bad.”

Behold! The Magician! Photo by Kris Austen Radcliffe

Behold! The Magician!

Photo by Kris Austen Radcliffe

What intrigues you about this particular Tarot card? I like the idea of transformative knowledge. That having gone through certain stages, the Magician has learned a thing or two about both the divine and the mundane, and he’s been changed by it. Empowered by knowledge, the Magician is equipped to deal with what comes next.

Why did you decide to get roped into this project? Annetta and I used to be part of a smallish online writers group. I know her talent, her obsession with quality, and her drive. There is no way I would pass up the chance to be a part of a project she believes so strongly in.

Have you ever had dealings with the Tarot before? I have had rune readings done several times by a skilled friend, but I am foggy on whether I’ve had any honest-to-gosh Tarot readings.

What other projects do you have planned? A novel I co-wrote with Josh Rountree, ALAMO RISING, is due to debut at Worldcon San Antonio this year. Having a lot of fun with promotional plans that I’ll be able to talk more about later in the year.

That smile is nothing but magic.

Bio: Lon Prater has worked in the Reactor Compartments of USS Enterprise, edited the military’s textbook on arms deals, and kept things safe in the produce and laundry industries. He lives, writes, and plays a lot of boardgames in Pensacola, Florida.

You can find Lon at his website.

He has generously donated his Mad Critiquing Skillz plus some of his fabulous fiction as perks for the Allegories of the Tarot Campaign, so make sure to check that out as well as the Perks page.

Editing With Netta–Story Structure

In the beginning, I advised you start the editing process by throwing your masterpiece into a drawer or a closet for at least a couple of weeks before you begin digging in. This is to not only give your brain a much-needed rest, but to also give you distance so you can look at the manuscript with “fresh eyes.”

Don't be scared. Unless you're writing about the undead. Or spiders. *shudder*
Don’t be scared. Unless you’re writing about the undead. Or spiders. *shudder*

*Photo courtesy of kconnors from morguefile.com

You will be surprised—maybe even shocked when you take it out and look at it again. It might be better than you thought it was, or it might be worse. A word to the wise: a writer is the worst judge of their own work. A close second would be your mother, or your Best Friend Forever. At this point you want to maintain a certain amount of objectivity, or at least as much as you can muster. Please refrain from blasting it out to everyone you know, because at worst you will get a ton of back-patting, which serves you not at all, or at best, a ton of back-patting which serves you not at all when it comes to editing.

Yes, you just wrote a book and you should be proud. But let’s wait until we pretty it up a little, okay?

The first thing you need to look at is the basic story structure. This is the framework on which the rest of your story hangs—the skeleton, if you will. There are many ways to look at the framework, but it basically boils down to this:

1. A character has a problem. (Also known as the “inciting incident”.)
2. Bad things happen and conflict intensifies.
3. Climax
4. Resolution
5. The hero learns something about self/life. Or not.

It sounds really simple, doesn’t it? It’s just that easy and just that difficult.

Take the time and resist the temptation of the red pen just yet. What you want to do here is keep a notebook and pen handy, or whatever writing implements float your boat, and read the manuscript. Jot down notes about what “feels off” as you read. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does the beginning drag? This is a common issue with many manuscripts, because in your first draft you’re getting your feet wet, putting your back into it, finding a way to open the story. The beginning of your book is crucial–this is where you will either hook your reader or not. Start with a bang, not with a boring conversation or long description of the setting. Grab your reader by the balls and take off. This might mean cutting a paragraph, a chapter, or even the first two or three chapters. Try to look at it through the eyes of the reader. Have you engendered enough curiosity for the reader to turn the page? No? Then cut it.

2. Is there enough conflict? As bad as you’ve made it for your protag, can you make it worse? If the Prince is on a horse to rescue the Princess, break the horse’s leg. BE MEAN. Then be MEANER. Cry in your Kleenex if you must–I know, I hate being mean to my characters, too–but if you’re crying, then your reader is crying. But without conflict there is no story.

3. Is there a satisfying climax? Do the events come to a resounding crescendo? Or do you leave the reader unsatisfied and wondering why the hell they just slogged through two hundred pages only to be left hanging? Readers don’t like this, people.

4. Is your major plot point resolved? Or are there dangling bits which need a solution? If it’s a stand-alone work, you need to make sure your subplots are dealt with in a satisfactory manner, but if it’s a series, these can dangle for the next work. However, it’s necessary the MAJOR PLOT POINT of the book is resolved. Readers don’t like this, either. As a matter of fact, if you don’t resolve your major plot point, be prepared for pitchforks, fire, and possibly tar and feathers. Worse than that, those readers will most likely never buy another thing you write for fear they’re going to be left hanging once again.

5. The story goal—what has changed about your protagonist? What has s/he learned from this experience, or what have they missed? If there’s no change in the character, then why? And there’d better be a compelling reason, or you just lost the whole point of the book.

Once you’ve got your notes jotted from the first read, then you can take out your red pen and work on specifics. This is what we’ll talk about next week.

Next week--IT'S THE RED PEN!
Next week–IT’S THE RED PEN!

*Photo courtesy of jppi of morguefile.com

I Am An Editor And Batshit Crazy

That’s the first thing you should probably know.

I’m a lot of other things, including a writer, but the question I’m asked the most is, “What’s it like being an editor? I mean, what exactly is it you do?”

The thing is, when people think of the term “editor”, they may think of a hunched over old lady, gnarled and grey, with crazy hair and long dirty fingernails, just looking for your grammar and punctuation mistakes. When she finds one, she’ll cackle with glee, wielding a red pen with unbridled joy, slashing the words, sentences, paragraphs with all the happiness of a zombie eating fresh (or not-so-fresh) entrails.

I don’t do that.

Or, the picture may be of a prim and proper virginal school teacher, with a mighty ruler at the ready to smack your knuckles into shreds of bleeding flesh should you end your sentence with a preposition; using “their” instead of “there”; abusing semi-colons on a regular basis.

I don’t even own a ruler.

Some people think of editors as nasty, overweight men who smoke cigars, play poker, and simply look at the first word of your story before dousing it with gasoline and lighting a match before sending a rejection letter which makes you cry for your mother and vow to never go near another writing implement ever again.

I don’t do that, either.

The term “editor” is somewhat misleading, because there are many different types of editors. The technical term for what I do is a content or developmental editor, also affectionately known in some circles as a “story doctor”.

In essence, I evaluate a story for proper structure, plot holes, character development, and story arc. I look at narrative flow, dialog, and voice. I’ll determine if the story holds together, and provide suggestions on how to tighten tension, balance narrative with action and dialog, and whether or not you really need the monkey in the corner with the cymbals.

Monkey
Yes, it’s a monkey. Yes, it’s cute. Yes, I’ll cut him from your story because I’m mean like that.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In order to perform my job properly as a content editor, I have to know the story better than the writer. I need to know the characters intimately; understand the writer’s vision; connect with the overall message or theme the writer is attempting to get across. As a writer myself, I can say being a content editor is more difficult than writing your own book, because I actually have to crawl inside the writer’s head. This is not always easy to do, and it doesn’t always work with every writer because everyone is unique. While I’m used to the insanity inside my own head, it might take time to adjust to the insanity of someone else. Because as we all know, writers are basically batshit crazy, too. I mean that with all due respect and love.

Bats in the belfry
Don’t play. You know they’re flying in your belfry too.

Story editing is very much a team effort, and it takes a great deal of trust. The writer has to trust I know my shiz-niz, and I have to trust the writer to be open-minded and willing to do the work. To stand up for what he or she feels is necessary to the story, but to also understand my passion is the story and I have the story’s best interest at heart.

In order to do this, I have to dive deep. When I perform a first read, there is no other world for me than the one the author has created. I liken it to lucid dreaming; my background is unique in that I have been reading almost every genre known to mankind since I was three years old. That’s over fifty years worth of reading. Uncountable books have saved my life and my sanity more times than I can count in very difficult and personal life circumstances, but as a result, I understand on almost an instinctual level what a story needs in order to connect with the reader. I take my job very, very seriously because fiction means so much to me.

There is no greater joy for me than when a client I have worked with releases a book on which we have both worked to great reviews and readers who find a new author with whom they’ve connected. I know how much a good book can make a difference in someone’s life, whether it’s momentary entertainment or a story which makes a reader think of a situation in a different light. There are books which can actually change the way a reader views the world or gives them a perspective they’ve never considered before. Other books can take you away to a different place, introduce you to people you’d never meet in real life, or whisk you away into a marvelous world making the stresses of everyday life disappear if only for a few hours. Books which refresh the soul, make you cry, laugh, and relate to similar experiences. It’s amazing.

I absolutely love what I do. It’s not always easy and it can be very draining emotionally. It takes a lot of work; sometimes I’m dreaming of the narrative, working out problems in my dreams, and sometimes I wander around in a daze forgetting to feed my cat or even myself. And you should see my laundry pile. Sometimes I have to take a break and put some distance between myself and the manuscript, give myself some time to re-charge and re-assess, because the book and the writer are depending on me. I am acutely aware of my responsibility as a content editor and the fact I hold the writer’s beating heart in my hands.

The shadowed heart
Trust me. I know exactly what I’m holding in my hands, and I’d rather break my own than yours. But the story comes FIRST.

And when I see a raw manuscript transformed into something wondrous, I am the happiest I have ever been. When I see a writer “get it”, and find their voice, see their vision come to light, it’s like being a midwife to a joyful birth.

I love my job. It’s taken a lot of work to get here, and I know there are many people who hate what they do; I spent many years (too many!) in the same position. I feel extremely fortunate that even at this late stage of my life, I have found my passion, what I love to do, and am able to make it happen. I thank the Universe at every turn for the most amazing people with whom I’ve had the honor to work; for the support of loved ones even when they think I’m batshit crazy, and the opportunity to have a small part in helping a fabulous book or story be the best it can be.

For me, story is everything. It is the reflection of the human experience, the heart and soul of what makes us all human and connected.

Yes. I am an editor. It’s likely I’m batshit crazy. But I’m also one of the luckiest women alive.

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