Today, I’m thrilled to host my amazing editor and wonderful friend, Annetta Ribken.
As the spearhead behind the Allegories of the Tarot project, she has brought together a phenomenal lineup of writers to tell the stories of the major arcana, is running a funding project to make sure those writers are paid pro rates (a rare thing these days) while balancing her own career as the best editor I’ve ever worked with and a crazy talented author in her own right.
I was so happy to hear she decided to select a card and join the rest of us.
I’ve been asked a few questions since I started this project—Allegories of the Tarot—and one of the most persistent has been, “Why are you doing this?” On my blog is a post which gives you a behind-the-scenes look, but I have been pondering this one question through the whole experience.
It’s a legitimate question. I mean, the obvious answer is I’m a content editor. I’ve been neck-deep in books since I learned to read at age three, and in the writing world now for almost fifteen years. There was so much to learn! I started off writing flash fiction and short stories, running the “story circuit” and placing a few pieces, soon learning although I had some talent and a deep, abiding love for it, writing such things were not paying my bills as a single mom of three children. Moved on to web copy, press releases, articles by the thousands, blogging, anything which needed writing or editing, I was there. I studied every aspect of the business from marketing to social media to formatting, covers, anything that had the least bit to do about writing for a living, soaking up everything like a sponge. Working a full-time job all the while because I was on my own.
My one big goal? Make a living with words.
Then things changed. My children left the nest. Personal circumstances happened to force me to jump full-time into freelancing, and it was scary. As a freelancer, you never know if the net will appear—you just have to work your ass off and keep the faith. Fear is a constant companion.
The “indie revolution” happened. Options that were not open to me or other writers suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I was able to switch my focus from non-fiction to fiction again—although it was a transitional period and I did both. I released a compilation of my short fiction as an experiment and to learn the process of self-publishing and LOVED the experience. I started editing other people’s work, helping them to make the most of their story, and discovered not only I was really good at it, I. Love. It. I wrote a book—the longest piece I had written to date. Then a novella. Went the indie route with no regrets and learned a lot of lessons.
What drives this chariot?
When I say fiction has saved my life and my sanity, I’m as serious as a heart attack. From the time I was a little girl, books were my go-to for everything when bad things happened. And a lot of bad things happened. But when they did, I could escape to the Mushroom Planet; tesserect with Meg and Calvin; solve mysteries with Nancy Drew; sail on a pirate ship with Jim Hawkins; ride the dragons with Lessa and F’lar, and wish for my very own Ruth. I was one of the Fellowship; I walked the sands of Dune; I served as a Keeper on Darkover; fought alongside the people of Boulder with Mother Abigail; explored the world of Flux and Anchor. I fell in love with Roland and Eddie and Jake and Susannah and Oy. I agonized with Jack every step of the way to retrieve the Talisman and wept with Lissa Lissar and her fleethounds.
I visited Catherine the Great and Henry VIII and Charles II. Dived into the Revolutionary War with Johnny Tremain, and cried over Rhett; felt the pain of the rift between the Mains and the Hazards. I read books—so many!—like people breathe air. Because that’s what stories are to me.
When I started my editing business, it was because I wanted to do what I love the most for a living. I had spent too many years in misery, and when said personal circumstances happened, it seemed like the Universe was shoving a foot right up my nether regions. DO IT.
But it’s much more than a job which makes me happy. Every book I edit or write; every story I tell, is a thank you. A thank you to Stephen King, JRR Tolkien, Anne Rice, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Carolyn Keene, Mark Twain, Grace Ingram, Jack Chalker, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card, Ray Bradbury, Robert Louis Stevenson, Madeline L’Engle, Anne McCaffrey, and so many more. A thank you to every single writer who had no idea their stories helped save the life and the sanity of one little girl. A teenager. A grown woman.
I said fear was a constant companion. It still is. When I first got the idea for this anthology, I was terrified. But just like I didn’t let fear stop me from doing many things in my life, it wasn’t going to stop me now. What’s the worst that could happen? I fail? No. You only fail if you don’t get back up. All the stories I read taught me that. So I mapped out a plan, took a deep breath, and jumped in.
The writers in this anthology are some of the most amazing people I have met in my life. They get it. They know their stories are important, they know the power of fiction. Each and every one of them knows how words can make a difference, and it is my honor to work with them. This volume is my heart-felt thank you to every single writer out there who puts their heart on the page and sends it off to realms unknown. Yes. Every writer. You, and all those who saved me.
I don’t think it was an accident when all the cards were chosen, the last one left for me was The Chariot.
About Annetta Ribken: Freelancer writer and editor of over seventy indie novels, Annetta Ribken has been writing since a tender young age, when letters were chiseled on stone tablets. A precocious student, Annetta earned her Ph.D in the School of Hard Knocks, with honors, in the early Age of Disco. Her mission: to take over the Universe, one word at a time. She lives and works just outside of St. Louis with her evil feline overlord, a rescued shelter cat named Athena.
Find her: http://about.me/annettaribken
We’d love your support. If you could share the project, that would be fantastic.
Even better, if you want to help fund the project, you can gain some truly spectacular perks for doing so.