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Books on my List.

This summer, I was supposed to read all of Jane Austen’s masterpieces (read: all of them), unfortunately, life got in the way. While I’ve managed to dent my list – and I am still planning on working through these (I’m on Emma), I’ve also accumulated quite another mass of books for my Must Read Now pile.

You’ll notice I haven’t described the books, but go to the links for the descriptions and reviews – they’re better than I can do without reading them first! – but I have gone ahead and given you the reason I decided these were worth blowing a paycheck on with enough variety to hit something for most.

1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling

I know, I know: I feel like a failure of a HP fan not having stormed through this one the second I got my hands on it – again, it was a busy summer. I’m also holding out a bit for a prize after getting through the harder Austen’s. I have heard positive and negative reviews but am holding out my opinions until I’ve managed to get through the book myself.

2. Burro Genius: A Memoir by Victor Villasenor

The eighth graders at the elementary school I substitute teach at started this memoir today and between hearing them giggle through reading the bits of awkward humor and getting to curse a little in class, or bemoaning this man’s tragedies (large and small), I am desperate to continue exploring this book. I love memoirs – the more poetic selection of the autobiography section. Every student said something along the lines of ‘I’m so excited to read this book!’ or ‘This is the best book I’ve gotten to read in a long time!’ as they left the classroom. If a book can get a class of 23 twelve year olds excited to read, count me in!

3. Part 2 and 3 of The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman

I think this may have been on an earlier reading list of mine but it’s still here. I did finish the first in this series while the TV adaptation was airing – the two are very, very different! – but haven’t finished the other two. I started this series because I won part three as part of a contest not realizing that it was part of a longer work. Now, at long last, I have book two so I’m looking forward to continuing this adventure.

4. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I probably picked up this books five different bookstore trips before I finally gave in and picked myself up a copy – and this was after the book kept popping up in other places like magazines and my Tumblr dash. Between the bright colors, the reviews, the summary and an look of the equally intriguing sequel, I am so ready to start in on this piece of fiction.

5. Everland by Wendy Spinale

From what I can tell, this is a young adult novel that takes the world of Peter Pan and pixie dust, mixed with the world of steampunk, and tips it on its ear. With a touch of the blitz seen in the Disney Back to Neverland follow up film, Everland promises to be a roller-coaster ride of new unexpected adventures for readers who love Neverland and all it’s darkest turns. This was one of the featured books last time I went into Barnes and Nobles so I couldn’t resist picking it up. Not to mention, the authors name is Wend; Wendy, my darlings, is writing a new twist on Neverland and is willing to tell us all stories about it? Maybe it’s the meta in me, but I love it!



As you can see, my tastes in books is varied – I have (adult) fiction to YA to non-fiction to fantasy to script, but as they say, variety is the spice of life, right?

Anyway, I’m exhausted and I have more English classes to teach in the morning so feel free to share your most recent book buys, reads, updates to your needs lists, or recommendations for me below, but for now, good night (or morning) and have a great long holiday weekend (at least in North America).

  • Taylor Gallagher
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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
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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
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Books, Fashion, Uncategorized

Geekdom Love!

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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
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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
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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
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Books, Fashion

Alice’s Adventures Underground …

And everywhere else!

Flamingo walls. Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Flamingo walls. Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

Since September, I’ve been feeling a bit lost in Wonderland—or, in my case, London. It’s a place so much like home and yet so strangely different in its details that I find myself feeling a bit like a wandering Alice in a new mad world where I’m never quite sure if I’ve slipped through the looking glass forever or if I’m just searching for the best path home.

And then, within my wonderings, I began to notice that London has developed its own Alice fever… the girl is everywhere from emerging patters and silhouettes and color themes in fashion to afternoon teas (1,2,3,4), to advertised events across the city (1,2,3,4,5), even stamps! It’s only recently that I discovered why:

2015 is the 150th Anniversary of Alice and Wonderland’s first publication.

The celebrations are bigger than any un-birthday the Hatter and Hare could ever come up with… but many are probably just as mad.

Of all these events, the maddest of them all would have to be the interactive experience worth visiting again and again: Alice’s Adventures Underground.

Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

I was able to attend this event last Saturday, in what one site led me to believe was the last weekend, and it was an amazing evening. And, luckier still, the event is NOT over. In fact, it’s running through August, which means I’ll be lining up to go at least one more time.

This event has multiple parts from a children’s show, a literary talk series, the interactive experience for up more grown up folk and a club area that stays open later each of which has a separate ticket and therefore price—make sure you’re buying for the right thing! (The children show is for children; no adult permitted without child—check that ticket!) In this post, I’ll be focusing on the Interactive show.

Since this is ongoing and who knows which of you might be gearing to go out, I don’t want to give too much away but I’ll tell you a little more about what you are in for than the main website does:

So, what you’ll learn from the website is that this is an interactive show based on the works by Lewis Carroll where you’ll get to explore a unique version of Wonderland by being part of it, all located within the bowels of The Vaults under Waterloo station.

Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

When you pick your time, you should be aware that you MUST arrive 15 minutes before that allotted time (again, this is on the site), however, if you want to have something to drink when you get to the in world tea party (you must prepay and preorder before going in to the show), get in the right mind set, have a pre-show drink, go to the bathroom, check your coats and bags (it costs 1 pound each checked item), or anything else you feel you need to do, get there even earlier. It’s also a little bit crazy trying to find the entrance so set out earlier than you think you do; you’ll thank me later.

There is also a dress code: you are in the land of the Queen of Hearts so it’s all red and black. Please, guys, for me (yes, this is begging) stick to the dress code! One thing I hadn’t realized before this adventure was that I’m an Alice. My wardrobe would be fit for playing the character, all blues and collars and with my blond hair and petite frame, even the actors played with the resemblance! Still, there were a few blues popping in and out of groups and it was the biggest pain as someone who was embracing the whole experience. Seriously, enjoy the night and go all in—it’s more fun that way!

Like I said, you have to check your coat and bag, but I encourage you to keep cash on you. You are let out into a great space where you can get more drinks and some food, and while you can go back and get your stuff and return to eat, it’s just easier if you have the cash stashed on your person. And it’s hot down there, so keep your layers light.

Now onto the stuff they don’t tell you:

The set is amazing and you will have choices as you interact within it. You enter in through this maze of boxes which let out into a room full of artifacts; pictures hanging from the ceiling, book shelves climbing the walls at impossible angles, mirrors and toys. Take a wander and explore—it’s not exactly a museum so you can touch, just don’t disrupt anything. Beware: don’t get too close to the walls as the doors are hidden and spring open to let you down the next passage ways.

Storytelling wise, you are entering Wonderland after Alice has come and gone, her name and person is a banned subject. The black cards (the clubs and spades) are part of an uprising in Wonderland, fighting to take down the King and Queen of Hearts, the reds (Hearts and Diamonds), on the other hand, are solving the conspiracy. Each suit will follow its own adventure—even coming in a group won’t guarantee you’ll all stay together so you should choose if you want to try sticking together as much as you can or all meet up at the end of the line.

If you are anxious about talking to characters or being approached, you should be aware that it’s possible that this is going to happen. You can either fight through or, if you are struggling, an actor will help you out. Even then, you very rarely have to do anything completely on your own. Don’t not go because you don’t want to be singled out—it’s worth it, I promise.

Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

When you do get to the end, don’t think this is just a room with a band, besides the wandering characters (who are definitely worth having a chat or to with), live music and food, there is a maze that leads through to a second bar as well as the makings of a royal flamingo croquet course for you to play with some friends through the “PIES” door and up the stairs. This is also the only space besides the pre-show room that you are allowed to take pictures in—yes, of and with the wandering characters as well.

That’s all you’re getting from me, at least, for now. Let me know with a comment if you have any questions and I’m sure to answer what I can. Also, here’s a master list I found with other Wonderland inspired events going on through and further out from London, so check your local listings.

Remember: It’s a mad world and we’re all mad here, but the best people usually are…

–Taylor Gallagher

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