Author Archives: C. J. Leger

What’s in a Writing Space?

A writing space is the one thing a writer cannot do without even if all other items on their “to get” list are impossible. What makes it so important? Well, the simple fact that it really is a section of space that can be designed to bring you into a state of mind that can allow you to jot down everything you feel and see, while at the same time being completely invisible to you once you get going. So, let’s get personal; I’m always saying how I hate writers who do not engage with their readers. I mean, what is the point of pouring your heart out onto these pages if you’re not even going to let the people who read these words into your life just a tiny bit. So while I explain, I’ll be letting you into my writing world. Let’s begin; every writing space needs a few things:

A Point of Focus

My writing space is my home office on the second story of my home, and everything in it is strategically placed to surround one of my two windows. When I sit at my desk, which looks out towards the front of my home, I have the perfect view of an old arched door that is attached to an old coral brick home that sits behind the house that’s directly across the street from ours. Why do I love this view and this door? Because it calls to me; I can only see the last sliver of this home and the door itself is barely visible, covered by a small tree in the backyard.

I am usually a history writer in some form or shape, and this home is a gorgeous colonial one, with the style and wonder attributed to that era, barely changed since then. When I look at this door, with its eloquently shaped arch design atop, I am always drawn to it expecting to see someone in old dress form walk out of it. But no one ever does, its almost completely abandoned, which makes it void of distraction and makes me wonder enough about its hidden mysteriousness to drive me into this timeframe in my mind. Once I lock onto it, I’m lost in the pages of what I am writing.

If I look to the right of that view, past the house directly in front of mine, I see rolling mountains with houses and lights pristinely visible in the night. If i focus on this, it takes me to a whole new genre. Whatever it is, every riding space should have a point of focus; whether that point is used to remind you of why you are writing or to just spin you into a different dimension, is up to the writer.

Design According to your Genre

Most writers, not all, usually stick to a specific genre and sub-genres when they write. Its only fair that you surround yourself with design that represents that style. Personally, my writing space includes a wrought iron lamp with a scalloped bowl design up top and a beautifully sculpted pedestal base; colored in a deep bronze, this lamp is venetian/florentine and its right in front on my face, which amplifies my mind’s mistaken though process that tells it I’m in another time. Behind me I have a bookshelf full of history books adorned by a draping vine plant and cork boards, rather than dry erase boards, to keep that wine feel alive. Everything from the throw over my reading chair to the decorative boxes on my desk that hold my papers, are chosen to fit this theme.

Ambiance & Solitude 

Just because you bought the furniture does not mean you’ve brought the space alive. I do so by purchasing ambient-specific items. My lamp, described above, has a low-wattage, glow emission. I purchase imported candles, my favorite being Pecksniff’s Brand, and I make it as comfortable as possible. I invest in a music subscription (Google Play) and I sit and pick a suggested playlist offered depending on what day and time it is. I usually choose the Stargazers category and continue to “Into the Cosmos with Neil deGrass Tyson”; this is my favorite writing playlist, full of dreamy classical music with lively tones, and the scenes in my books just come alive to them.

Finally, I rarely choose a space that has no windows. I must see the weather, snow, rain, trees, and I enjoy being up high, so I usually love second story spaces.

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How to get Approved for a Galley by a Publisher

So you want to be a professional reader; that’s great. Just understand that its usually an unpaid position, and you will have to work hard to even get your first galley. But it’s not impossible. Follow these steps and learn the terminology and you will be on your way.

What is a Galley?

Essentially, a galley is a review copy of a book that either, has not been published yet or has, and is requested by a book reviewer and approved for release by the publisher.

In this scenario, the reader will read the book and write a review about it, however, publishers will not just give out galleys to anyone. I personally worked very hard for the current two I am reading, Rome’s Revolution and Stargazers, which were approved by Oxford University Press and Lion Hudson respectively.

How to Attract Publishers

Publishers just aren’t willing to hand out copies of their books to just anyone; you’ll have to show them that you have multiple viable avenues on which to place your book reviews. Galleys, of course, are usually requested by the reviewer, and publishers want to see that you are serious about reading, not just their book, but many books and not just looking to get free books to read just because you can. So establishing a good following and remaining consistent is key.

What are Publishers Looking for?

First, publishers do not want to waste any time, so make sure you have a VISIBLE email address on any of your social profiles or website. They are not looking to call and talk to you; they usually only want to communicate via email most of the time or need to have a contact email for their rosters.

Second, you will need to have at least either a Twitter account or a Facebook account, to which you can post your updates and publicize your content.

Sign up for book-related social networks such as GoodReads and BookLikes. Place your profile information on your website so that publishers know your reviews will be spread across many avenues and will get more attention drawn to their book.

Finally, be active on these networks. Publishers want to see a steady, lively flow of activity, which suggests you are an interesting candidate. The more activity you put out, the larger your following and your attractiveness.

Follow these steps and you will be sure to land a galley from a reputable publisher and hopefully make some connections along the way.

© C. J. Leger February 20, 2014

Interview with Vanessa Wester, author of the Hybrid Series

Great Read!

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“Hybrid (The Evolution Trilogy)” by Vanessa Wester is a very original paranormal novel with great romance and a unique story line. It starts off as a regular University love story between Steven Thorn and Caitlin. They meet at her first day at a UK university and fall for each other. By allowing alternating viewpoints we get to feel for the characters and see the pure nature of their feelings for each other. Wester establishes also a few important side characters and gives enough time to the romance part before changing course and embarking on the paranormal part of the story. The latter is indeed quite unique and makes this book a welcome addition to the often predictable or repetitive helpings in the genre.
By opening the book with a mysterious prologue the author has already prepared us readers for some twists and the solid plot does not let us down.

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Should you edit your own Work?

Most writers start off with a limited budget, which means, they are often editing their own work to save costs on hiring an editor. But is that the correct thing to do? The answer is NO.

The reason: most people will read what they expect to see when it comes to their own work. In other words, when you re-read your work, you will read it the way you’ve intended for the words to be translated to your readers, because you are the one who knows what this translation is. It’s similar to the concept of creating your own language, you are really the only one who knows what the words mean; whether or not that’s what it is portrayed to your readers is a completely different story.

Because the way you try to evoke emotion may be different from how the reader is affected, having editor on deck is the most invaluable thing you can do for the advancement of your book. An outside person can read your manuscript and interpret the way it’s written as opposed to the way you intended for it to be written. However, before handing your gem to just anyone claiming to be an editor, you have to protect yourself and your work.

As the copyright office expects (and prefers) for you to issue the best version of your manuscript for copyrighting, you will most likely have to do this after it’s been edited, which means the copy you hand over is not protected.

Research online for competent editors, and then research their associated acquaintances; previous employment, projects, and authors they’ve worked with. After researching them for good references, do the same for any publishing companies they have worked with in the past to see if they are reputable. This is also why I always recommend hiring a literary agent who can source you with a match.

Aside from catching the things that are wrong with your manuscript, a good editor can help you hone your skills so that you can adapt to a particular style and not be “all over the place”.

Will having an editor increase my chances of being published?

Yes, it will. Editors are well connected; they know many literary agents and have worked with various publishers in the past. A good editor will be able to introduce you to these parties, and if not, always keep in mind that publishers like to see that an author is willing to put in the hard work to sell their manuscript; this includes hiring and paying for an editor out-of-pocket.

“many writers want to publish a book not because they want to be an author, but because they want to have “been” an author.”

 

So once that manuscript hits their desk and they see in print that you’ve taken the time to hire an editor, they will be more inclined to believe that you are serious about your book and being an author. Why do i say this? Because many writers want to publish a book not because they want to be an author, but because they want to have “been” an author. In other words, they don’t have any intention on continuing to write and build a brand, but want at least one published piece under their belt for their resume.

Now that you know why hiring an editor is a good idea, don’t hesitate to contemplate it as a possibility or take it to offense that you may need one.

© C. J. Leger February 16, 2015 http://www.CJLeger.com

BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “SILVER LIGHTNING” @AUTHORWDARLING

Lit World Interviews

wendy anne darling

Title: Silver Lightning

Author: Wendy Anne Darling

ISBN 13: 978-1502418937

ASIN: B00O2AZLP8

Website: https://wendyannedarling.wordpress.com/

Pages: 189

Genre: YA, Children’sFantasy, Children’s Literature, Young Adult (8-15), Children’s Adventure

*A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review, which follows.

One night, Alex Bascolme awakened from a dream, so real that he could smell the salt in the air from the ocean along the California coast. He could even feel the sand squishing between his toes, as if he stood on the beach that night. The strange dreams continued after that first night, leaving Alex to wonder what they could mean for him. When Alex’s Father was laid-off from work, Alex and his family moved from Colorado to California; the dreams apparently foretelling his true destiny.

Once in California, Alex meets a new friend named Logan, and the two boys find a magical motorcycle…

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Feedback for my thriller “The Healer” #amreading

When you melt into your soul, you are able to pour your emotions onto paper in only a way others with the same experience can understand. Its easy to say “I’m speechless”, its harder to search your mind for your soul’s words, and more rewarding. This is the type of author I’ve heard about in Christoph Fischer. Look him up.

writerchristophfischer

marketing4Here is the transcript from a reader’s group on the Internet where my thriller
THE HEALER was being discussed. I don’t think I’ve ever read something about any of my books that has hit me so hard. I don’t know if I should cry or smile over this amazing comment:

“I’m reading Christoph Fischer’s The Healer right now and it is really powerful. The writing itself is strong but the story – wow. It’s difficult for me to read given that I’m also going through chemotherapy and a host of other things and I’m finding moments where I need to just put it down and think.

I’m barely a third through and already know that this is going to be one of those books that I always remember and think back on. I want to go online to read his other reviews but I’m too afraid to, not wanting to see…

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How to Format a Book Proposal for a Publisher or Agent

Most elements revolving the sale capacity of a book/author, is quite frankly decided by how you format  a book proposal. Before your book can hit the market with representation behind it, it has to make it past the review crew, so be sure to include the following.

Research your Audience and Peers

One of the most important sections of your proposal will address the audience of your genre and the peers you will be associated with within it. An agent/ publisher will not accept a book just because it is well written, they have to be able to have an idea about how it will sell; they will ask for the following marketing plan:

  • What genre is your book in
  • Who are you targeting as your audience (history buffs, housewives in their 30s, teens 14-17, gamers…) They have to know who they can sell your book to before saying yes.
  • How many similar books in this genre have been sold in the past 5 years, how many best sellers in that genre? (include titles, publishers, publishing date and the year). At least 5-7.
  • Which authors are most like you in terms of your writing style, themes, and background.

Without this analysis, the agent or publisher you are appealing to will not accept your proposal. This section sets up their marketing plan, their advance factors and the expected revenue report of your books, which is pretty much everything. If they see that similar books have sold relatively well, they’ll believe its a good market to dip into.

Part 1

The first section of your proposal should be a cover letter. Address each one to the specific agents or publishers, tailer each proposal. Your cover should be interesting, it should catch their eye and include the genre of your book, your name and the word count of the sample you are sending (usually just the first 3 chapters).

Agents will ask for something called a shell sheet, it should only be 1 page long and include the title of your book, the book’s genre again, word count and a tagline.

As with all freelance story ghostwriting, your proposal should also include a back flap description of your book in a riveting fashion. Include your bio and a photo of yourself.

Ensure that your biography includes any relevant educational background, especially if proposing a non-fiction book; agents want to see what makes you qualified to write such a book, and so will any readers. List your achievements, relevant recognitions and any previous publishing history you may have had (have you been published before, if so by whom?).

Each proposal should be accompanied by a synopsis. Do not make it longer than three pages, and encompass the basics of your story from beginning to end.

Part 2

The second half of your proposal is ALL business. Make sure to include the marketing plan we stated in section 1 (Research your Peers and Audience). Next is your competition plan, this is where you doll up your book and tell the recipient what makes your book different from the similar titles presented in the marketing plan, and provide your angle for why your story is better.

Be prepared to include what you will do on your own to promote your book. Make sure to have a website for yourself already in place, social networking connections and possibly a blog with a following. State any local books stores you may reach out to to promote your book and any ideas you may have for promotional giveaways.

Part 3

You’re almost done! All you have to do now is provide a history of your manuscript (has it been published before, when?), or whether or not it has been submitted to editors. This is different from whether your not YOU have been published before.

Now it all comes back to that very first paragraph we talked about. The last thing to do is attach a copy of the first 3 chapters of your book.

Remember to NEVER send a complete manuscript unless specifically requested by a publisher or agent. Also, any manuscripts requested are usually recycled, should you like for it to be returned, provide adequate postage. That’s it, you’re all done, so remember it all actually starts with just writing. Make sure you have at least the first 3 chapters written before pursuing anything.

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Current Read Prepublication: Rome’s Revolution by Richard Alston

Currently, we have onboard:

Rome’s Revolution 

Death of the Republic & Birth of the Empire

by Richard Alston

Publisher: Oxford University Press

I have the prepublication uncorrected copy, which I will be reading and posting a review about here and on NetGalley. The book is set for publication in June of this year. Stay tuned.

5 Classic Books Everyone Should Read

Books are a constant in my life. They are source of knowledge that can serve to teach generations for centuries to come. While some books seem to be a very entertaining past time for a specific timeframe, other books make it into the realm of timelessness, becoming classics forever.

I’ve always felt that all avid readers should invest into creating their own library. It’s okay to purchase books and resell them when you’re done reading them, but there are some classic books that should make it into a permanent slot in your library. Here’s my list:

1. Dracula Unabridged by Bram Stoker

dracula-book-coverThis book remains at the top of my list as one of my favorites. It’s a book thats been with me almost my entire life and was written by Bram Stoker, who changed the idea of reading for an entire generation, and brought imaginary fear into the hearts of the people of England. Creating an unforgettable character, Dracula has been remade, remembered, and heralded for decades.

Centered in England, this book takes you through the lives and diaries of four young and in love characters,

  • Jonathan Harker
  • Mina Murray
  • Lucy Westenra
  • Dr. John Seward

Through their stories the reader is engulfed by a world of obsession, determination, love and fear, as they attempt to take their lives back from a supernatural monster.

2. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare

shakespeare1As classic as classic gets, the complete works of William Shakespeare should be a staple in every library. His plays are timeless and show the sheer passion a writer can evoke when pouring out their heart onto a page. Shakespeare’s plays, while lacking in large, complex words, still manages to create complex feelings.

He seems the figure who’d only publish a finished copy if it was completely and totally written to the epitome of the literary version of a true feeling. In other words, if you could put an extreme feeling into words, which is often never, you’ll get something from out of the pages of his plays.

From King Henry VIII to Romeo and Juliet, his plays have brought to life stories that even today, continue to transpire within humankind.

3.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

Btr-Gatsby-CoverF. Scott Fitzgerald created a character that encompasses everything we want to be, inclusive of the demons we carry with us that often are the driving force behind the determined actions we take to achieve what we want, leave behind what we don’t, and the delusions we create to make ourselves believe its all okay.

J. Gatsby is a man who owns its all and shares it all because there’s only one thing in this world thats worth more than everything he has combined, a woman. Set in the roaring twenties when women dared to cut their hair and shed their layers of clothes, this book gives readers an inside look at a time when Americans were drowning in money that was available for the taking and shaping the “standards” of the future.

4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

wuthering-heightsHow far would you go to love who you love? Emily Bronte’s story takes us through a story of the depths an orphan can be plunged into when there is no one to protect them or let them know of the riches their parents may have left them. It also brings to life the love that can grow and be shared by two children who grow up together, offering a kind soul to distract each other  from the abuses of life and the lengths a tortured orphan would go through to keep that love alive.

Heathcliff and Catherine’s love story is poisonous, unforgettable, and pure all at the same time. Set on the eerie moors of England, Bronte makes the setting cloudy and misty, creating a private viewing experience for the reader. This book becomes an intimate experience between the characters and the reader.

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

jane eyreThere isn’t much i can say about this book without offering spoilers, but its a classic portrayal of the inferiority a woman can feel in the presence of a man who has it all and shows interest and one point and indifference the next.

Jane arrives at Thornfield to play the role of governess to a child in the care of Mr. Rochester, the mysterious master of the home. The novel spans the lifetime of Jane, from her younger years as an orphan to her experiences and love affections at Thornfield.

These are my top 5 classic books and are based on my personal interests. Decide on your favorite authors, your lifestyle, your educational discipline and interests and you’ll soon come up with a grand library; from there you’ll be able to pick out those classic readings that may interest you. Not every classic book or classic author is for everyone. So dig, explore and read.

© C. J. Leger January 30, 2014