An unintentional review post on Wildthorn

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

All of my books have arrived in the mail. Woo! I can’t wait to crack into them!

I recently finished reading Wildthorn, by Jane Eagland. It was amazing! But, I will speak (write?) more of that in a minute. I just started Florence and Giles, by John Harding. It was so difficult to choose (from those above), but I wanted to go with something not so terribly close to Wildthorn, in terms of plot or story, as it would possibly all bleed together, and I haven’t had any breaks from reading. So, a different story will have to be the break. It is hard though, as I have obviously chosen a particular type of novel I am after for the comps. I might consider straying away for a wee while, after Florence and Giles — either a break entirely, or temporarily move on to another genre — before my brain implodes.

But firstly, I want to talk about Wildthorn.
I haven’t read a book so remarkably rich in detail, so powerful, and with a plot and story so gut-wrenchingly beautiful yet painful, in a very long time. It was full of twists — some I could see coming, though most I could not — scandals, secret and forbidden loves, betrayal (like, I-want-to-punch-that-person-in-the-face betrayal), as well as I-want-to-punch-that-person-in-the-face-again loss and sadness. I was also very fond of the language, style, and tone of the novel. And, the research that went into this book? The detail of the asylum, the “treatments”, the characterisation of the doctors and patients — just wow!

Wildthorn Jane Eagland

Much like my Eleanor, the heroine of Wildthorn, Louisa Cosgrove, craves a life off the path which has been already laid for her. Her desire to become a doctor is relentlessly and mercilessly crushed by external forces; namely her family, who does nothing but try and rid her of her unfeminine qualities, and her unfeminine dream.

Most of the book explores the consequences of a nineteenth-century woman choosing to defy the societal expectations of her sex. A vindictive plot against her stifles her dream, if only physically, for she is incarcerated in an asylum, Wildthorn Hall, for her crimes against not only her sex, but her family — an unruly woman, seeking a career reserved solely for men, would bring shame to the family.

Louisa is the kickarse heroine we need. She’s not going to go out and start beating up baddies, but her knowledge of the scientific world, for instance, makes me want to be just like her — I think contemporary women would absolutely idolise her. In fact, you could say, she’s just like Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: independent, intelligent, and is possessed by a desire to harness the dark arts. Well, not quite, but in the Victorian period, a woman’s fascination with such unrefined or masculine things, was just as sinful.

Eagland never stopped surprising me. I’d think I had something figured out, but then I’d be blown away with revelation after revelation.

For instance, Louisa was committed under the name Lucy Childs. Of course, I started off believing it to be some conspiracy. It’s absolutely something that could have happened in nineteenth-century England. Women were committed for all manner of absurd reasons, and it wasn’t difficult to make a woman seem crazy — a woman wanting to be anything other than what was expected of her, is enough for her to be deemed mad — so, I believed her to be honest about her identity, but then I was soon convinced that perhaps her incarceration really was done for her benefit. Perhaps whoever was responsible did really care for her well-being. Of course, I quickly dismissed that idea too, for surely they would have at least considered the rest cure to such a horrible alternative. Yet, the asylum is the ideal place to silence a person — a woman.

Once you delve deeper, you start to doubt yourself, and you start to fear that you would have been committed, had you lived in Victorian England.

This should be enough to scare you from ever attempting time travel.

Reasons for admission

Solving the puzzle of who was responsible for Louisa’s imprisonment had me devouring page after page. It was impossible to put this book down, save for sleep. And, I never stopped hoping for her to make it out of there alive. I wanted her to make it out, she had to. I wasn’t going to accept otherwise. Of course, I won’t divulge whether she did or not. You’ll have to find out yourself 😉

My only qualm is with the ending. It wasn’t satisfying for me, but as you know, I’m very particular about endings!

There are a lot of similarities between Wildthorn and Eleanor, which I am happy to see. I think Wildthorn will make a fantastic addition to my comps list for when I submit to agents and publishers.

Be sure to get yourself a copy, and tell your friends. Wildthorn is a must read!

I rate this book a Wuthering Heights.

The scale:
10. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
9. Wormwood: A Drama of Paris – Marie Corelli
8. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
7. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
5. Fox in Socks – Dr. Seuss
4. The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown
3. The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger
2. Dune – Frank Herbert
1. Fallen – Lauren Kate
0. 50 Shades of Grey – E. L. James

Read more about the scale here

Anyway…
I didn’t actually mean for this post to turn into a review like that, I just had a lot to say about the book. I probably have a lot more to say, but maybe I’ll save that until later.

What was I actually going to talk about? I can’t remember. You know what, fine. This can be a review post, haha!

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Comps, cover letters, editors, agents

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!!!

Cadence twitter Fiona Mountain follower

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!

Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain

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!).

Cadence Tweets Natasha Lester AWC

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.

Eleanor by CadenceSo, 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.

Dodger by Terry PratchettSince 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!

Eleanor – done and dusted-ish

TeamBeta has finished going through Eleanor, and I’ve received very positive comments! Yay!

Eleanor by Cadence

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!

Editor
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.

Birthday break!

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.

Professor Farnsworth

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.

Comps
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 by Terry Pratchett

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…

Let the hate mail flow

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!

Eleanor – Comps, cover letters, and courses

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’.

Comps
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!

Cover letters
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)…

Courses
…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…

and etc
… 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.