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I know I gave you guys an update last week, but it feels like it has been months. Maybe it’s because I just keep forgetting to tell you about all the awesome stuff that’s been happening. Such as… historical fiction writer, Fiona Mountain, is now following me on Twitter!!!
If you remember, I recently mentioned how much I loved her novel, Rebel Heiress (also known as Lady of the Butterflies), so I was gushing when I saw my Twitter notifications!
Firstly, let’s get this out of the way…
Despite still being sick, I feel so much better this week. To all those concerned, it’s okay, don’t worry. My blood test results came back — all negative.
Now to the important stuff
It seems things are progressing a lot more quickly now since finishing Eleanor. I’m further into my comparable works list, I’m taking a course on writing pitches and cover letters, Pitch Your Novel: How to Attract Agents and Publishers (by the lovely Natasha Lester, and hosted with the Australian Writers’ Centre), I’ve booked an editor (the one I was after, yay!) to start working on my manuscript in August, and I’m now on the search for an agent (the course name would have given that away!).
If you are interested in the course, you can find more details here.
Yes, because I am so fickle and indecisive (you would have noticed this as you joined me on my journey as I wrote Eleanor — I moved from writing a novella to novel, from considering self-publishing to traditional, and now from unagented to agented… fingers crossed!), I am now on the lookout for an agent. There are a few I know of, and have been considering, so I will work on that while my manuscript is being edited.
I just want to make sure Eleanor has the best chance at publication.
To do this, I have to write a CV/cover letter (including a pitch). This is something that is really important, so I have to ensure I do it right — to sell myself, and Eleanor, as best I can.
Regarding the pitch
I’ve had my latest one critiqued by The Book Doctors (Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry). While I received mostly positive feedback, there is also a lot I need to work on still to perfect it. A pitch is around 200 words (maybe a bit more), and is basically similar to what you would find as the blurb on books (unfortunately, I haven’t updated mine yet — you’ll find the old one on the cover art). So, for this task I will be checking out a lot of blurbs, and looking at ways to write something clear and concise to illustrate the awesomeness that is Eleanor.
So, that was the old one, as in the oldest one. Below is my latest one, with some changes.
“Eleanor Clarendon-Addams is no stranger to the macabre. For most of her life she has been consumed by her passion for human anatomy. And after the untimely death of her father, a revered anatomy professor, her ambition intensified. In her despair, she sees only one path, she desires only one thing: to continue her father’s work. But as she is confronted by the societal strangleholds of her sex, she finds the path to her dream laden with thorns. Her dream is declared unbecoming, unfeminine.
When Eleanor is banned from her father’s university by the newly-appointed professor, Dr. Hollioake, her goal of becoming an anatomist falls apart. She is left with a numb emptiness, and a longing she must silence. Her dream is dying.
Just when all seems lost, like-minded student Henry comes along and brings Eleanor from the precipice. He helps her find her way once again, and all reason and rationality that may have begun nesting in her mind vanish. A love begins.
Amidst the pressure of Victorian London society, and failed by her own sex, Eleanor’s dream is quickly becoming a nightmare. Caught between a world of body snatching and scandalous societies, her sister’s fall from grace, and a love she feels unworthy of, Eleanor verges on the brink of insanity.
So blinded by her passion and removed of any logic, she risks her sanity and her soul to keep her father’s memory alive, but soon discovers that to reach her dream she could lose so much more.”
What do you think? Would my blurb influence you to purchase Eleanor?
I’ve already noticed a number of differences in the advice I’ve received from The Book Doctors, and that offered by Natasha Lester in the course. The Book Doctors seemed to suggest authors should avoid writing rhetorical questions into their blurb/pitch, whereas Natasha Lester encourages it. I am inclined to agree with Natasha (as rhetorical questions are all over blurbs — I very rarely see a book without one), so I will put one back into my pitch.
Now, to comps
As you know, I’ve been working through my comps list, which is a list of novels that could be comparable to Eleanor — I pretty much have to read within the genre (and sometimes outside of) to find out. This list is something that will need to be included in the CV/cover letter for agents and publishers.
Since I was sick last week (I think this illness has been with me around two weeks now!), I struggled to finish Dodger. I failed to reach my deadline, which meant me having to start and finish reading The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein within four days. I did manage it though, haha!
I must say, I was a little disappointed with Dodger. I was expecting so much more. Apologies to Terry Pratchett fans! The plot and story weren’t really plausible in my opinion, and Dodger acted quite uncharacteristically, but as I’ve said before, it is a children’s book (a surprise considering some of the language!), so I can’t be too annoyed about that. And true to Oliver Twist style, there was an unbelievable happily ever after — which I despise. Well, not despise, but I do prefer tragedies (if that is still an apt term these days), or even the occasional open ending, because they are more realistic to me. A HEA with a marriage, for instance, makes me question what comes next. Surely a divorce, right? Since most marriages end in divorce? Anyway, maybe I’ll give myself some more time before I consider writing up a proper review of all these books I’ve been reading.
The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein is another story. I instantly fell in love with it. It will definitely make my comps list. It’s similar to Eleanor in language, style, and theme. I will look at more of Peter Ackroyd’s works now, to see if there are other novels to be added to my list.
I am also considering Natasha Lester’s works as possible comps too.
Next on the comps list?
I will be starting Wildthorn, by Jane Eagland, which sounds like it will be another amazing read. My lovely, supportive brother bought it for me for my birthday, along with the next book on my comps list (which I will tell you about next week!).
And, oh my god! The cover of Wildthorn is so pretty and shiny!
Now, I realise this blog post is getting quite long, so I think I will end it here. If I can think of any other updates I may have missed, I’ll put them in the next blog post.
But, one last teaser?
Okay, my lovely graphic designer, Phoenix Johnson, is working with me on ideas for my next project — a novel about the Marquis de Sade. I’m still thinking about titles at the moment, and even the story and plot are still coming together in my head. The cover will simply be a mock-up/teaser to help me commit to the project during National Novel Writing Month, much like how the cover for Eleanor came to be. But we’re also working on ideas for my second novel, Wings of Malice. As soon as the covers are made, you guys will be the first to see them!
Thanks again for joining me. See you next week!
My beta team did an absolutely amazing job of going through Eleanor. I had no idea the amount of typos still left in the manuscript. It’s quite embarrassing actually, but since I’ve read it so many times, I have been left blind to a lot of errors. Sorry to say, I’m not perfect. I am so grateful for TeamBeta’s eye. And… knowing that I’ve made my beta team cry (and not from poor writing) is pretty awesome. Sorry, but I feed off their tears! Mwahahaa!
So, now that I’ve harvested enough souls through my betas’ tears, it’s time to consider an editor. I have contacted one today. Fingers crossed they agree to take on Eleanor.
Meanwhile, I’m still tackling my comps list. I’ll soon be moving on from Dodger, by Terry Pratchett to The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, by Peter Ackroyd. I would have liked to have Dodger finished by now, but I was quite ill last week. I’ve just now accrued a form of hives, which have spread all over my body. What fun!
Dodger has been an interesting read so far. It is not quite what I was expecting. I thought it would be more of a modern re-imagining of Oliver Twist, but it seems to be more of a prelude (possibly) to the events in Oliver Twist, focusing on Dodger’s life. I’m sure it will become clearer the further I delve into it. I am not too fond of some of the cameos, such as Charles Dickens himself, Sweeney Todd, and Benjamin Disraeli (though, that one addition seems to make a bit of sense at the very least). However, as I have been recently informed, Dodger is actually a children’s book (I had no idea. It could still very well work as a comp… maybe), so that may explain some of the choices made in the story/plot.
I am really looking forward to The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein.
I might leave it there this week. My doctor wants me to have plenty of rest. I never say no to naps, so I might just do that now.
I am writing this a little earlier than usual as I will be jetting off (via car) for a wee birthday break in a couple of days. Yes, I will be older and wiser, and maybe even a little depressed because I’m still in denial about the ’90s being so long ago.
I’m pretty sure the ’90s was only 10 years ago.
Anyway, let’s move on from my mid-life crisis to more pressing matters.
I have almost finished Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett. In fact, I should finish it this evening (as in Thursday… evening). I have really enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to the ending. Adora Belle Dearheart is, of course, my favourite character. She is the main reason I am using Going Postal as a comp. Both she and Eleanor share quite a number of qualities, and I feel that Adora is the best example I can give of how Eleanor’s character is portrayed. If you’re confused, it’s because I watched the TV mini-series/film adaptation first. So I was already a little familiar with Miss Dearheart before I started reading.
Of course, Going Postal is still quite reminiscent of Victorian fiction, despite being set in the Discworld.
So, what’s coming next? I hear you ask. I have a few books I want to check out — I named a few last week including, The Goddess and the Thief by Essie Fox, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd (I did want to start The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein next, but I won’t receive it for a while). However, as you know, I am very indecisive when it comes to… making decisions, so I thought I’d instead try and remain in the world of Terry Pratchett with Dodger. I thought I already had a copy of it lying around, but it seems I don’t. So, I need to somehow buy a copy between now and tomorrow, so I can ensure I keep to my deadline.
Dodger will make for a perfect comp, I believe (without having read it already!), and I’m certain it will be better than Oliver Twist (on which it’s based), because I really couldn’t stand that book! Hang on a sec…
There we go 😉
Look, I know I’m not the only person in the world to dislike Oliver Twist, so just calm down.
In other news…
Wings of Malice
I have been making great progress with Wings of Malice. I have set myself a daily goal for my edits, which will ensure I have a near-polished manuscript by the time National Novel Writing Month comes around, at which point I will once again abandon the project in order to start another 😉
National Novel Writing Month
As you may recall, I recently mentioned my project idea for this year’s NaNoWriMo. For the moment, I am still set on doing a piece on the Marquis de Sade. Though, I am still exploring other ideas as well. So far, I have planned for my edits of Wings of Malice to finish at the end of September. I will then spend October researching Sade (or at least refreshing my memory of what I learnt of him during university), and planning out the narrative. It will be an historical fiction piece, not nonfiction.
Anyway, I might leave it there, but please do join me next week for another update. There may just be some awesome news to reveal, and possibly some photos from my birthday trip. See you then!
It’s getting to that stage where I will have to abandon my ‘noobness’ and start immersing myself fully into the world of post writing… stuff. For Eleanor’s sake. This will include building a platform (well, more so than I have), writing cover letters, reading comps, submitting to an editor, submitting to publishers, and I’m sure there are a tonne of other things I must do before I get promoted to ‘Competent Author’.
I have been continuing my read through of comparative works. My aim at the moment is to read one book a week. I’ve finished The House I Loved, by Tatiana de Rosnay, and now I’m onto Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett. I’m not certain what will be next on the list at this stage, but right now I’m considering The Goddess and the Thief (reminiscent of The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins) by Essie Fox — if you recall, I bought it fairly recently with my haul of Marie Corelli and Daphne du Maurier books. Also on the list is Beloved, by Toni Morrison, however, since it was published in 1987 it may not make for a good comp. I’m told that it is best to find recently published works. Not sure if this is a strict ‘rule’, still, I will try to stick to more recent neo-Victorian works.
In my search for modern retellings of Frankenstein, I happened upon The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, by Peter Ackroyd. It isn’t exactly the retelling I imagined (as is my understanding, at least), rather it is a story about Victor Frankenstein meeting Percy Bysshe Shelley, so of course, I immediately ordered it from Book Depository.
So, as you can see, I am accruing books faster than I am reading them and, of course, I have no room for them either. Seems a trip to IKEA for new bookcases is in order!
So, I have to start considering writing a cover letter for Eleanor, for when I submit to publishers. Problem is, I’ve never written one, and I don’t know how. From my understanding, it appears that I will have to discuss comps (which is why I am powering through so many books at the moment), or at least the marketability of Eleanor. But, never fear… because… (now, stay with me here)…
…I’ve happened upon a course — Pitch Your Novel: How to Attract Agents and Publishers — run by the Australian Writers’ Centre. I don’t usually enrol in courses like this, but I thought I’d give it a go. I was also excited to learn that Natasha Lester, author of If I Should Lose You and What is Left Over, After and former tutor of mine from Curtin University, is hosting the course. So, that was enough to win me over. I haven’t started the course yet, but fingers crossed I’ll find time this week, because…
… while all of this is happening (research and reading), I will be attempting to continue my work through Wings of Malice. I didn’t quite realise just how much it was I was undertaking until I wrote it all down just now!
Join me again next week for another update.
Okay, so I’ve abandoned any and all attempts at having a break, because it’s just not working. Instead, I’m placing all my thoughts, effort, and time into continuing my work on Wings of Malice, a young adult fantasy novel.
Getting back into it after such a long break has been tough. Fortunately, I did leave the project with most of it already complete. At this stage, I’m merely going through and refreshing my memory of the story and plot, and doing my 3rd round of edits as I read. There are of course areas where I will need to write up new stuff. This is just typical of my process. I’ll be onto my 2nd or 3rd round of edits on a project, but then will have a fair few blank spaces or chapters, which I have neglected (and usually continue to neglect, in favour of something easier!) To that I say, “No!”
I know it’s wrong, but I keep doing it!
Of course, after working on Eleanor, I’ve learnt some things about my writing. Most importantly, I’ve learnt how to identify errors that I make. And it is difficult, because I’m relatively blind to my own errors. I’m easily able to identify them in a client’s work, but it is harder to do so for my own. I cannot explain why. I suppose it is simply a matter of having fresh eyes looking at it. Knowing a story so well, and being able to picture every aspect of it, makes me blind to see how it is truly conveyed in my writing.
As I look over Wings of Malice now, I can see some of those errors that I had been making. Some of them appear quite obvious now (it has been a year since looking at the project), such as issues with point of view. Though, I think that was more to do with my inability to decide on 3rd person omniscient or 3rd person limited. Also, each chapter focuses on a different character and so, once again, I had difficulty in deciding whose point of view should be showcased. Trust me, it’s a thing. And I’m working on it! Though, I confess, I still have trouble every now and then with slipping from 3rd person limited to 3rd person omniscient. I’ll blame it on the fact that prior to 2013, I wrote everything in 1st person. There we go!
With Eleanor, however, I had already made the decision on p.o.v, etc before I started writing it.
I can also see how my writing and writing process have developed since last year — even just the little things. I am now able to organise and prioritise my work better. 12- to 14-hour days are a norm now, and my impossible deadlines are starting to become a reality. National Novel Writing Month has made me realise my true potential. I had never thought it possible to write 50k words within a month, and did not expect myself to even finish, but I did! So, the pessimist in me is trying to learn to become more confident in my ability.
Now, where were we?
Ah, of course! To help keep me motivated and committed to Wings of Malice (at least until NaNoWriMo this year), I will be employing the services of Phoenix Johnson Graphic Design once again.
If you remember, Phoenix designed the deliciously orgasmic cover for Eleanor.
I have a few design ideas for Wings of Malice, but nothing set in stone as yet. And this will of course mean rewriting the blurb. It is awful, I know. I’m horrible at writing blurbs. I know I’m not alone in this though… ahem… right?
In other news…
Comps! If you remember, last week I discussed how I would research possible comparable titles to Eleanor. I recently started reading, The House I Loved, by Tatiana de Rosnay — a potential candidate for my list. I’m only about halfway through, so I’m not certain I will name it as a comp, but it is a neo-Victorian or, as it’s set in France, neo-Napoleon III? No? Neapolitan, then? Napolitana? Should I just shut up? Okay, will do. 😛
Speaking of Napoleon III, or at least a Napoleon, I suppose it’s the right time to reveal my NaNoWriMo project idea. I will be writing a piece on the Marquis de Sade. Shock. Horror! I know, I’m quite predictable. I love reading about his life though. And, I thought I’d put my Honours thesis research to use because, quite honestly, I don’t think I have it in me right now to get my paper ready for an academic publication. Not now, at least.
Oh, and there is a link between Napoleon and Sade, don’t worry. I’m not making things up. I’ll let you know more details as soon as I figure them out myself. Right now, the plan is to write about a series of important events in Sade’s life. Each chapter will reveal a different event. I know, right now it doesn’t sound exciting. I’m stuck between not wanting to explain too much of it, and not knowing how to even express it! It’s in my head, figuring itself out (and now casually listening to The Cranberries’ “Zombie”).
You really don’t want to know how my mind works, and why it wanders where it does!
Anyway, thanks for keeping up to date with my work. Join me again next week!
Taking this “relaxing” week off (after finishing up Eleanor) is just not happening. I’m feeling a little empty not working those 14-18 hour days. So, I’ve been considering starting a new project, but I know I should stay Eleanor-focused. It will need more work, I know that. It’s just this bloody break. What should I be doing?
I think I should be checking out comparable works in the genre. That’s what I should be doing!
So that’s what I started doing yesterday.
The plan is to come up with a list of comp titles, so when I submit to publishers they know what Eleanor is like. Pretty simple, right? Well, sort of. I need to find books in the “neo-Victorian” subgenre of historical fiction, which I think Eleanor would fall into. I didn’t even know “neo-Victorian”, as a genre, existed until recently.
In my search, I came across something interesting (well, something that I thought was interesting). Did you know Penny Dreadful is a comic book? Based off the TV series. Did you know that?
Yes? Oh, never mind then.
Anyway, I thought it might be a good comp, possibly. Even though it’s a comic. Still, it gives you an idea of the kind of theme, tone, or style that Eleanor is like, right? Well, that’s the point.
The entire “neo-Victorian” genre and culture as a whole, is quite popular today and that popularity is only growing. If we look to fashion, Victorian or steampunk events (I attended one a few years ago, and it was awesome!), films like Hysteria and, of course, the TV show Penny Dreadful (and even Downton Abbey), we can see the influence the Victorian/Edwardian/Gothic has on us today.
Mostly, I’m looking for Victorian/Gothic/Romantic historical fiction, with the same (or similar) language and style you would find from works of that time.
I’m also looking at reimaginings of V/G/R works, like Frankenstein, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dickensian works, and so on.
I’m considering adding Going Postal by Terry Pratchett to that list, as Adora Belle Dearheart is an amazingly strong, independent character, and I see shared elements between her and Eleanor. Though, Pratchett is (or sadly, was) a god in the literary world, so choosing him, or his work, as a comp might be a big leap for little ol’ me.
Still, she is kickarse!
In any case, it means me having to read a shitload of books. I have around 16 on my list so far. Don’t worry, that list is growing.
So, what’s coming up?
TeamBeta is reading through Eleanor, and I’m very patiently awaiting their response.
And then what?
Well, as I have noted, I have an editor in mind for taking on Eleanor. I’m hoping (after TeamBeta has finished looking over my manuscript), to send in a request for her amazing services.
Also, as I mentioned in my previous post, I have been considering a new project (for National Novel Writing Month), and I’m very eager to start it. It is quite different from my usual writings. It’s still historical fiction, but it will deal with themes that I wouldn’t dare explore normally. Even the language itself, will be quite challenging, but I want to challenge myself. It will shock you, trust me, as it shocks me thinking about what exactly I will be writing.
I’ll leave you all waiting with bated breath 😉
Oh my god! Eleanor is DONE!!! I can’t believe it.
Maybe I should have posted a picture of a ‘The End’? Meh.
There we go 😛
It’s quite surreal. I never truly thought this day would come. I’m so used to self-sabotage that I never expected to get a complete manuscript out. A Travesty and Wings of Malice are just two examples of unfinished (and near compete) manuscripts, which I’ve abandoned because of the fear of what’s to come next. One day I’ll come back to them, I’m sure, but for now…
Eleanor is now currently being read by my beta team (TeamBeta). You know who you are! Thank you so much for donating your time and eyeballs. It means a lot to me.
So, what now?
This week, I’m planning on relaxing, which actually means doing other people’s editing, haha! I will also be cat-sitting for someone in the city, so the change of environment will do me wonders, I’m sure. And, although I need to do work, I will try and do some proper relaxing as well, don’t worry. I want to get my mind off Eleanor for a while, and focus on other important things like smooching cats, playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, watching YouTubers play Until Dawn (I know! I’ve watched maybe 10 playthroughs, but every one of them is different and I can’t get enough), catching up on some much-needed reading (still need to finish Vendetta), and sleeping more than 5 hours a night.
However, I’m already thinking about my next project — something I’m considering for National Novel Writing Month, so I might jot down a few ideas (I’ve already started!)
Once my beta team get through Eleanor (and I’ve made any amendments necessary), I’m going to contact an editor I have in mind. Fingers crossed she’ll take on my manuscript. I’m hoping this will all happen before the end of July. I’m setting myself a reasonable deadline for myself this time! (Still can’t believe I edited my manuscript in only 4 weeks!)
God, I don’t know. As you know, this is all new to me. I suppose I’ll have to really start getting into research mode on publishers. Yep, still looking to publish the ol’ traditional way. There’s one in particular I’ve been looking at. They require a cover letter (as I imagine most publishers do), so that might be something I will work on this week coming as well.
Oh, and the ending?
It was hard choosing from the 5 different endings I had planned (and written), but I think I chose the best possible one. I really do, and that is hard for me to say, given how I usually end my novels. I went with something well off from what I had initially planned. And, I know it’s a pain in the arse to say, but really, I don’t want to ruin anything for you guys. Maybe, in time, I will consider publishing (on this site) my alternative endings, and you can critique each one 😉
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me throughout this massive project — my friends, family, followers, cat, and bunny.
Don’t leave me now!
Stay tuned, because I will be posting more updates on Eleanor as they come. Until then…
Since I’ve been watching so much Until Dawn lately, O’ Death has become a bit of a theme song for this week. I love this song. Have a listen.
I sing it every time.
Bye for now!