Books, Uncategorized

Zombies, Run! The Book!

51oau13ciglI am so excited to finally have this! I know I’ve been talking off and on about the Zombie, Run! app and it’s running program, and if you have been reading along, you know that I am hooked.

This month, however, I have been swamped – between working, photo trips, events (and meetings to plan upcoming events), and holiday stuff – so I haven’t really had any time to keep up with my running (the time change and  it getting so dark so early hasn’t helped this problem either).

For this reason, I’ve been finding as many other kinds of work outs that I can do on the run (as it were). Seriously, start pinning female superhero workouts, super fun and nerdy but at the same time they actually do a good job of working you out. As a SCA member with a Viking persona, the shieldmaiden workout (by Neila Rey) has a very special place in my heart.

And on the topic of nerdy workouts, finally getting to look (and laugh) through my copy of Zombies, Run! Keeping Fit and Living Well in the Current Zombie Emergency by Naomi Alderman and Six to Start (the team behind the Zombie, Run! program). What I love about this book is how it really mashes up everything that is great about the app but works alongside it as a supplement.

The whole point of this program – both the app and the book – is too have fun while working out and challenging yourself, and the book is such a great addition to help you with that goal. I was absolutely cracking up skimming through and looking at all the makeshift weapons fashioned for the apocalypse – not to mention the walk through of practicing your spear work with a friend and a marker-tipped broomstick!

I’m sharing this book with my dad which means I’ll be using post-its over the given spaces, however, I love that you get spaces to mark your progress and notes.

I’m not going to give too many things away – I promise the book is worth getting! – but I do want to finish up by mentioning one strategy I never thought about: in a zombie apocalypse you shouldn’t spend more than 10 minutes in a place like a grocery store (too many places for crawlers and the like to hide); if you are trying to shop better (less junk food), limiting your rime here can be a good idea as well. If you give yourself less browsing time in the food section, you are a lot less likely to pick up all the junk food a hungry roamer may grab on a whim.

So that’s it! Have fun, get fit, and don’t get turned into a zombie!

  • Taylor Gallagher
Books, Uncategorized

Back to School: Planners Revisited


So I posted at the beginning of the calendar year about my new planner and how much I was loving this tool to keep track of my life. 6 months later and I can honestly say that I am still loving it.

I’ve had a busy 7 months being home filled with events with family and friends, interviews, work schedules, meet ups and the basic goings on in my life and this planner has taken a beating but has been with me every step of the way.

I can reiterate all the reasons why everyone should get a planner from my last post on planners – everything from forgetting to schedule something on your phone (like while on a phone call!)to the benefits of detail memory retention (which comes with writing things down!) and showing off (or working on) that amazing penmanship for anyone you write notes to! – but you can read that yourself.

So why am I talking about planners again?

While I am now out of the July/August to June year schedule that comes with student and teacher life, there are many out there – and four in my family! – who this schedule rules their lives. I have one more sister still in school and three teachers/staff working at the middle school level so while they could use a calendar year planner like I have fallen in love with, their year would be bisected by a planner change.

This lead us once again to Target – they really do have the cutest and best designed planners I have ever see and with enough variation to suit everyone’s personal styles.

I love my small and very open plan planner but my sister – who has become a planner convert – is a huge grid and lined paper fan so the Blue Sky Day Designer is perfect for her. It has all the areas to create check list and notes but with lots of organized lines and days organized with hour by hour segmentation. She’s the sister that is still in college and with year she’ll be doing all her classes as well as looking for work, serving as a bridesmaid in a friends wedding, is in two fraternities (one social and one academic) and serving as the groups secretary in one, so she has a lot going on. This also means she’ll be using a backpack so this larger planner which affords her more space to schedule things in is perfect for her.

Funnily enough, my other younger sister who works as a teacher’s aide and is the mother of a 6 month old, picked the smaller version of this same July 2016 to June 2017 planner. She needed to smaller book that she can throw in a baby bag or purse and run out the door with. She ups her organization using color coordinated highlighter pencils and her advice from today was if you want your planner to look nice and get stressed out with changed plans – that are out of your control – always use pencils; blacked out pen scratches look messy and can get distracting!

For me, It’s a matter of what I have on hand though plans that are more obscure definitely stay in pencil! Also, if you are looking to organize the rest of your paper and office life but with cute flair, there are tons of super cute choices from giant ‘oops’ erasers (I definitely bought this!) to desk globes and chalkboards galore.

So, if you are school bound (whichever way this applies), I cannot recommend buying a beautiful (cause you will use it more!) but useful planner enough.

  • Taylor Gallagher
Books, Uncategorized

From an Editor: On Conduct and Money…

I’ll just say it: it is always a crap shoot unless everyone involved is flexible.

But to start us off, for those not aware, this ended up being a follow up from last week’s post. Therefore, for those of you who’ve already heard of my newest potential client (the one who inspired my last post), I’ll be continuing my story from there.

The past week has been troubling to say the least.

First, I had family members try and reject the book for me based on content they “didn’t think I would be comfortable with”; guys, I can turn down my own work if necessary, thanks. The bigger issue here is that you’ll find that a good amount of editors are less concerned about content – we just want people who will work well with us, take our criticism, and will pay us our due. Again, this doesn’t mean some editors won’t cringe at having the next 50 Shades cross our desk, but for me the content wasn’t the issue, the quality of the work was (since it was published!).

I’m getting off my soap box now, I promise!

Once I got word through the phonetree – again the 4 person communication relay team is not how I enjoy doing business – to my author, I eventually got a single block paragraph note. For those keeping track, this is the second impression that does not bode well for this relationship.

The positives:

  • He was polite in a minimalist, succinct manner (I mean he did say thank you for my time).
  • He gave me information about his book including his intended style, word count, and page length, as well as a basic description of the kind of service he was looking for.

The negatives:

  • This is an introductory business letter and all I received was a block of text rather than a letter introducing me to who the writer is (in either description or in style).
  • Very little concern over who I am or my expertise (which would be critical to hiring me and a point I take pride in).
  • From what I could gather of his style (a repetitive block of text, as it were), he’s looking for a quote (monetary) for the most basic editorial review which won’t be enough to make his book work.
  • But I can only assume this because I was not sent any kind of preview pages – again from what I’ve seen, this isn’t promising.

Lets take each of these negatives at a time:

First, if you write to someone you want to hire to work with you (especially if you are a writer), you must show that you are worth the time by making sure they know that you have taken your time in asking for their help (because even if you are paying them, it is their help you are paying for!).

As a writer, you are your own company so you are supposed to be professional enough to write a multiple paragraph letter (this includes a stand alone salutation, an introduction to you and your work, what you are looking for, and finally signed by you – at least the first time around) seeking said help. You are your brand so don’t make a mockery out of either of us by sending an underwritten email – again, especially if you are looking to hire me to edit a couple hundred pages of your work.

Secondly, even if you have heard of your editor’s work, you really should want to know more about the person than what they are going to charge you. You are handing over something that – more likely than not – you have put your heart and soul into. You don’t want that person to not know what they are doing – a fact which you won’t know unless you actually find out their credentials! The  easiest way to go about this? Ask them about it!

Thirdly, yes, it is possible to get a quote and a time frame based on page numbers, but it doesn’t necessarily work well for either party. As an editor, there is a basic fee you can charge either by hour or by page based on the service being sought out. The problem is, if I as an editor don’t know what your style is or what your pages look like, my hour of work estimation will likely be inaccurate meaning you’ll have to pay more than originally planned, or if charged by page, I might get screwed over if your writing is denser than anticipated. Also, I won’t know how much editing – despite a writers assurance of needing a simple, light hand – I will actually need to do until I get started which can also effect my time and cost estimation.

Which leads us to point four: I need to see sample pages. Here’s the thing, I am not going to steal your story. I’m not going to read a page of your book and say: that’s awesome but I could write it better; let me do that. I just want to gauge what I’m going to be expected to do and what my return should be.

In my first job, I edited an entire (already published) book as an audition piece without compensation, not only to get the job but to better understand the kind of writer I would be working with in both personality and style. While I will not be going to those extremes again without getting some compensation for my work, it is necessary for me to read an author’s creative work to get a handle on what we are both expecting and what can actually be done with those expectations. This first read through can also help me gauge the time needed to read your entire work so I’ll be able to give you a better return date.

Basically, especially in cases where you aren’t meeting (or really talking at all), this means I need some introductory pages.

For those interested in the numbers: cost by the page spans from $3-$7.50 depending on the depth of editorial work; cost by the hour spans from $20-$100 depending on experience, type of work, and personal negotiations.

Again, we work hard and so do you, make a good impression and work with us, or no one is going to get anything done!

  • Taylor Gallagher
Books, Uncategorized

What You Need to Know When Working with an Editor

For anyone who is not aware, one of my jobs – my many, many jobs – is working as a freelance book editor. I’ve just recently passed my third anniversary as such and while I don’t get to do much on the regular – at least since moving to London and back – I love getting to read and correct someone else’s work.

The problem is, as a young person who works with writers, not only is work hard to come by, but when you have possible clients – sorry, authors – many of you haven’t learned how this business works. I will never blame an author for this – especially you young ones out there – but as someone working on both sides of this industry, there is a lot that you need to know.

I was recently approached through an emissary of an emissary of an emissary – for those of you trying to keep up, that is a five person game of telephone – to edit a young man’s manuscript.

That’s it.

I wasn’t given a name, the type of book, a length, fees or payment; nothing except that family members had mentioned to him that I do editorial work and would I be interested.

Author’s and editor’s alike: there is no way of answering this question!

So here’s the big point that I need authors to really think about when approaching anyone that they would like to help them polish up their work: you are an artist but so is your editor!

Editors (and I’m talking copy editors and storyline editors) don’t get much credit – we don’t have our names printed anywhere unless an author thinks of adding us into their list of acknowledgements  (which most people don’t read) but we are there for every step of making your baby/manuscript shine.

As an author, you most likely won’t make much money but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to really think about how you pay and work with an editor.

So here’s my quick how to:

If you need an emissary, make sure they are a good one – an editor’s first impression of you can be directly correlated to the impression left by the person who introduces you. Give them some information about you and your work but, most importantly, your contact information and a proposed sit down where you can talk through everything.

If you don’t trust your messenger (which may be your first problem) to get through that information, see if they can e-troduce you through email (this is where they email you both, addressing – in this case – the intended editor with a quick note where you can then follow up with all your details) and go from there.

When it comes to the actual terms, these can vary but I really recommend having a no-strings attached meeting over lunch or coffee to get to know each other, the project, and discuss the nitty-gritty details without  either of you committing.

You’ll want to hash out:

  • Time Frame: Is this something finished that they’ll be leafing over briefly, a full editorial attack/editorial rewrite, or are they working with you as you write/rewrite? Do you have a specific deadline and have you given them enough time to meet it and give you work the full attention it deserves?
  • Payment: Again, in our way, we are artists too, so if you want to get paid, we need to get paid. Costs are usually negotiable, especially when both parties are younger but some suggestions: look up the industry/guild standard and work from there (this is usually hourly); offer some other exchange – making sure all things are equal! – to make up some of the cost; or some up front and a later payment system based on later sales. This last should only be offered if you already have some kind of deal with a publisher lined up; you only get about 1 of every 10 dollars as an author so paying an editor out of that can do more harm than good to both of you.
  • Editorial Method: Are you going to keep meeting every day/week to go over and deeply discuss edits and needed rewrites or are you working completely through digital means? If the latter, do you both know the programs you’ll be communicating the edits through? If not, you’ll need some tutorials!

The only other thing that you may need to think about is what to do if you aren’t getting what you need – or they aren’t- from your editor. These are two basic choices if you don’t want to be miserable: 1. Talk it out so you both understand what is going wrong and work through it; or 2. Break off the contract while paying them up to that point -and seriously pay them for the hours they did put in as you don’t want an issue later down the road.

I would try option 1 first and then move on to the second if terms cannot be met.

This goes for editors working with writers as well! If your author isn’t doing their part, you can’t be paid. It is part of your job – unfortunately an unpaid part – to bug them until you get pages to work with or answers to your questions.

Basically, the editorial process is a conversation. You’ll be spending days and weeks of your life on this project working with this person – make sure everything fits and remember a good editor knows what they’re doing (that’s what you’re paying them for) but it’s your baby so feel free to go with your gut and don’t be afraid to hash it all out!

Finally, feel free to shoot me questions about anything, I’m here to help!

  • Taylor Gallagher
Books, Fashion, Uncategorized

Geekdom Love!


My ‘I need my quiet time to read and drink tea’ mug.

I’m about to set out on a grand camping adventure (a geeky adventure to be explored at a later date) which meant days of errands for me.

Enter, the Northridge Fashion Center.

I needed boots so before hitting DSW, I wanted to check out smaller, cheaper stores so ended up spending an hour or two wandering the mall when I stumbled on my new favorite gem:

Box Lunch

Think recent fandom shift in Hot Topic but much brighter and with more room to move. Add a touch of book/tea nerd and science lover and here you are.

I had a huge case of “shut up and take my money!”

I ended up buying a nerdy girl mug, a father’s day book (I won’t name this because of a possible audience member!), and a candle, but I have a whole list ready from running shirts to chemical diagram jewelry and everything in between.

I’ve been trying to save money but the thing I love most about this store and why I don’t mind spending money here is that they are charity inclined.

For every $10 you spend in the store, a meal is donated through Feeding America. At the register, you can also donate as easily as rounding your purchase up to the nearest dollar.

While charity shops and the like have a slight edge in the giving back without creating extra waste as their merchandise is used and donated. However, with Box Lunch, you don’t have to worry about their being only one of something and not in your size because it’s all built.

So yes, love, love, love, and that’s all from me.

  • Taylor Gallagher
Books, Uncategorized

A truth universally acknowledged….

That a summer of Austen is just what the doctor ordered.

This year, I took part in the 5th grade 40 book challenge. This is a school year long challenge wherein 5th graders are challenged to read 40 grade level or challenging books across a variety of genres.

I have loved this challenge even though I’ve only managed to get 25 books under my belt – my choices did tend to exceed 600 pages or so, therefore, that number isn’t shocking.

I have completed series started a decade ago, fallen in love withnew authors, and revisited books I’d rushed through before but have now learned to really appreciate.

It’s been absolutely amazing.

But now I’m looking forward and planning an equally daunting but less page heavy book nerd challenge: a summer of Austen.

My recent trip up north had me wandering bookstores and in one I found a copy of The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler and couldn’t stop myself from buying it.

Therefore, it is going to be the start of my summer book challenge; reading all of Austen.

For the sake of my starter novel, I’ll most likely go in the order that the book club read unless I’m persuaded otherwise.

While I have read Pride and Prejudice in high school – including tutoring a friend on the novel – I fell victim to the density of Mansfield Park and stopped. Since then, I’ve discovered webseries which make me hopeful that I’ll manage to complete another attempt.

Speaking of, I’ll probably be watching everything Austen I can get my hands on – film, web and miniseries adaptations, everything, not to mention rounding out with some adaptation novels.

If anyone is interested in this challenge or has any advice, let me know! I am also down to send you my suggestions on best adaptations – seriously, transmedia webseries! I did my dissertation on these and they are amazing!

But for now, read on booknerds!

  • Taylor Gallagher
Books, Uncategorized

40 Book Challenge

This past school year our fifth grade class has decided to challenge itself with a readin challenge: in our 10(ish) monthes of school each student set out to complete 40 books at their reading level (working steadily upward), across genres.

Even back in London, I was invited to join the class as a bit of extra motiveation – telling fifth graders their challenge had gone international was a real motivation!

So now we have a single trimester left and I’m looking to start book number 20…. so far in and so far to go.

Thus far my books have ranged from classics I’ve missed from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to Judy Bloom’s Are You There God, It’s Me, Margret and long pieces from Terry Brooks’ Shannara Series and as many Jojo Moyes and Cecilia Ahern novels as I could get my hands on. Top this list off with the always necessary conclusion to the Princess Diaries’ series by Meg Cabot and I am sitting happy.

I will say this: I’m a bit of a book-horder so it’s been an expensive year! For me, however, it has been so worth every read.

I really encourage this challenge for all ages – it increases reading and language skills from comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling, as well as lets you spend more time away from screens – always a plus in today’s plugged in world.

And in a time where many fantastic book series are being made into television and film, getting a jump start on a series in print can be a great way to explore worlds at a much deeper level.

I’m hoping to speed through books through the rest of the year from more Shannara to starting in on The Magicians series by Lev Grossman which recently was made into a television series (which seems loosely based on the novels). I was lucky enough to win the second book in  a fundraiser but I’ve yet to actually by the first! So you can only guess what my next errand is sure to be!

And if you would like to try this kind of challenge – you can really start whenever and just go for a year! – but don’t have much money at the moment, don’t forget to utalize local secondhand shops and libraries.

Also, if you are going to use the library – even if you think it’s nice – don’t reshelve your own books! Libraries get more money the more their books are used and one major way this is kept track of is electronically monitored reshelving. You don’t even need to fully check a book out to help!

But that’s all my booknerding for now so until next time, read well, live well, be well and I’d love to hear some of your favorite or most recent reads!

  • Taylor Gallagher