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!

Wings of Malice, comps, and Sade

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.

I left Wings of Malice about a year ago after hitting a wall, but also, more importantly, to start my National Novel Writing Month project, Eleanor.

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.

Phoenix Johnson Graphic Design

If you remember, Phoenix designed the deliciously orgasmic cover for Eleanor.

Eleanor by Cadence

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. 😛

The House I Loved - Tatiana de Rosnay

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!

Eleanor update – end sort of still in sight

These last two weeks have been so stressful. See, I have a terrible habit of setting myself impossible deadlines. I said to myself, “Self,” I said, “You can edit 400 pages in 4 weeks, easily!” And hey, I probably could have reached my weekly deadlines, if it weren’t for things getting in the way, such as my day job, eating, sleeping… all that stuff. But, you know what? I’m still going to do it. Even if it kills me, I’m going to finish editing all these (now 410!) pages before the end of next week. It’s okay… it’s only 128 pages left.

But, you know, I also have to rewrite one or two scenes, blah, blah, blah.

THEN, onto my beta readers. They’ve been waiting very patiently, so let’s all give them a round of applause! I’ll forward on your cheers to them.

Also, I want to apologise. So many of you were upset you didn’t get an update from me last week regarding Eleanor. I think stress got the best of me, and quite frankly, I was burnt out. I told myself to relax, to just skip one week. Yet, my legions of fans were disappointed, and for that I’m sorry.

By the way, you guys know that I’m only pretending to be really arrogant, right? Cool. Just wanted to be sure you knew.

1nsesl

Right, well, now that that has all been settled, and I’ve regained the love of my adoring fans, I’ll get back to Eleanor.

So, by my calculations, I am roughly 68.78048781% into my edits. I am reasonably happy with that. I tell myself I am reasonably happy with that. Though, I was hoping to have hit 75% by now, as you know. So here we are…

Eleanor word count June

But… if I push on, I can still potentially reach that goal.

So, Cadence, what’s next?
Well, I’ll tell you… what’s next. After my beta readers… have a read, I am going to contact an editor (because let’s face it, I’m not perfect at editing — I get a little semi colon and em dash happy at times) to see if she’d be willing to take on Eleanor. Yes, I have an editor in mind, an amazing editor, so fingers crossed!

In the meantime?
I’ll be looking at traditional publishing. I have a few publishers in mind. It will be a LONG process, I know, but I am willing to take on all the heartache down that road because I really believe in Eleanor. One heartache close in sight — writing a cover letter for submissions.

In the future?
I’m already thinking about my next project. Don’t worry, I will fill you in on all the details as they come. This will likely be a project for National Novel Writing Month, so I will essentially be doing planning, research, and so forth. I do also have two other projects in the works however, as you know — A Travesty (my first novel) and Wings of Malice (my second novel). And, as you know, I kind of abandoned those two novels after hitting a major wall. Once I hit around 80k words I start to get a little lost, and self-sabotagey. I think it comes down to the fear of ‘what’s next?’ But it hasn’t happened with Eleanor. I won’t let it. So, those novels are also candidates for the near future.

Getting sidetracked
One last thing. I seriously can’t stop looking at the cover design for Eleanor. I am in love with it. Phoenix Johnson has done an amazing job, especially as she is new to designing — this was her first paid gig!

Eleanor edited

Join me next week for another exciting instalment of, What’s going on with Cadence and that novel, Eleanor, she keeps talking about? Until then…

Eleanor update – end in sight

I am a quarter way through my final round of edits. And this time, I mean final!

Eleanor has come such a long way in only 6 months. From a small seedling, an idea of a female surgeon in 19thC London (originally titled, A Victorian Surgeon), to novella (after reaching 50,000 words during National Novel Writing Month), Eleanor has now transformed into a novel!

I thought to share a small screenshot of my novel thus far. My only qualm… that damn widow! Please ignore.

Word count

These next few weeks will be tough though. On top of editing, I’ll be house-sitting for a family member, and this means being distracted by an adorable kitten, and mischievous bunny! I don’t know how I’ll make it, but I am determined to get to the end, and have Eleanor sent off to beta readers as soon as possible.

There are, of course, other concerns I need to address. One that has been bothering me to near madness is my blurb.

14922983_611277469032764_517743893_o-1

It has to be fixed! I have a more recent version, but I think I will wait until after I pass on my manuscript to betas. I’ll need something to do then.

Also, God damn! I can’t stop looking at my wrap-around cover! I can’t thank Phoenix Johnson enough for her awesome work!

A short post this week, I know. I will post more updates as they come however. For now, try and keep your cool. It’s completely understandable, you’re beyond excited, you’ve been waiting so long for Eleanor to be published. That day will come soon, I promise you.