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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.

Eleanor update – alphas, betas, publishers

Eleanor is now in the hands of its first reader, and I must say, I am beyond scared has just gone through its first reader, and I am both excited and anxious to go over their notes!

(Now entering deciphering mode)

Eleanor - Si's notes

I now have a lot of ideas on how to change up the story a little, and to fix any inconsistencies I can before I go on to the next step, beta readers. This will hopefully happen either at the end of this month or beginning of the next. It all depends on how much I want to change, really.

My main concerns at this stage are consistency and flow. These are things I won’t be a great judge of — I’ve stared at this manuscript so much, I can’t be sure anymore. It’s one thing to have the story playing over and over in my head, but whether or not I have successfully conveyed it to the reader, that is another thing. So I must pass this burden on to the beta readers. Sorry, guys!

My first reader has assured me that, for the most part, the manuscript is consistent and flows well, with nice pacing (but there are of course issues too). And I am hoping the fact that it took this reader only 5 hours to get through the book is due to it being a good story, not because it was so poor they had to rush through it… ahem. The beta readers will give me a better idea however, as my first reader is surely biased 😉

So what comes next?
After beta readers? I think I’ll be looking at publishers. I have a few in mind. This is all very new to me however, so of course, before I make that plunge, I will do some research.

But you can rest assured that when it comes to the exciting and scary parts, I’ll do my very best to vaguebook the hell out of it! 😉 So make sure you’re following me on facebook and twitter to get the latest news on all the goings-on with Eleanor.

Eleanor edited

Drastic changes to Eleanor, beta readers, and bastard USB sticks!

BREAKING NEWS: I just absolutely hate USB sticks! Well, this particular one that I had been relying on so heavily. It decided it would corrupt itself, or allow itself to be corrupted or, much like The Marquis de Sade’s Justine, its virtuous nature was corrupted by external forces.

I lost roughly 80% of my files, including two novels, Eleanor and Wings of Malice.

Not to worry (I know you were), as I had recently backed up my files onto other external drives. I believe the discrepancy (in word count, and so forth) has been rectified, but this rude awakening has led me to consider using an online cloud thingy. So, I’ve downloaded Dropbox.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, Eleanor is soon to be sent off to beta readers. Hooray! (insert the sounds of celestial beings singing).

Eleanor edited

Well, now. Back to your regular programming.

Just so typical of my indecisive nature, I have a number of alternate endings for Eleanor. And, as you may have guessed, I can’t decide which one I like most.

And so, I will be doing none of them! I have deleted all of these alternate endings, and am starting afresh… with an ending I never thought I would write.

This new ending however, has left me with some complications.

One such complication: Can there be a happily ever after in a tragedy? I think we all know the answer to that. And yet, a tragedy like Romeo and Juliet is commonly referred to as a romance. I cannot think why.

Other complications have meant me having to do something so uncharacteristic of myself, it has shocked not only me, and my partner, but it goes completely against my ethical standpoint. Let’s simply say that, if the vegan community didn’t already hate me, it will now!

I always thought my cruelty-free lifestyle would seamlessly and naturally translate into my work, but I am looking to challenge myself and my readers. I want to write something shocking. This may mean people despising or loving my writing (or being utterly apathetic, who knows?). As long as it evokes a response, a strong emotional response (and a review, wink wink), then I have done my job.

Though I would love to publish all of my endings, I’ve been told that it’s not exactly feasible. That is unfortunate, because I am rather fond of them all. Perhaps I could make Eleanor a Choose Your Own Adventure-style book?

I had also considered putting it up to a vote, but then that may mean revealing the ending… Hmm… I think there is a flaw in that plan. Perhaps instead, a simple, subtle poll?:

Subtle, no?

It is all rather moot though. I have already chosen my ending for Eleanor. Still, if I could publish all 5(?) endings, I would.

In other news… shocking, shocking news… while I have successfully killed off many characters in the past (in a number of my works, and without shedding a single tear), a death scene I recently wrote had me weeping uncontrollably. All in a few lines. Does this make me a master writer? I think so 😉

I shall let you, the reader, be the judge of that however.

(Arrogance mode deactivated).

Born of hallowed love – a work in progress

Born of hallowed love.
Tainted and fated
by prophecy;
a higher purpose she wished
to be unburdened by.

Cursed blood.
The key to salvation,
in death only.

Cursed with age.
The envy of her immortal brethren.

Unwilling to continue a sacrifice,
to fight
to die
for another’s cause
and never her own.

She leads her own crusade
in search of herself

In misery feigned
her devotion to her line
and yet accepted
for there was no other way
no other purpose of her being
than to be as a vessel.

For what is one life,
her life, to the lives of man?

© 2017

And in lost sanity, she found

Want to read more of my Alice in Wonderland series?
Check out Down the rabbit hole


And in lost sanity, she found,
where madness consumed,
locked doors to greet her.
Yet, no passage through for
her broken body;
she drags her legs, deformed.

Scented shadows left behind,
soothing, but overwhelming,
and intangible fields of sorrow
beckon her to chasms, a garden;
lamentable deceit.

Unreal, all imagined, and yet
with bloodied legs to carry her
freedom, still so far.

Guided by her heart,
led astray by the voices,
hopeless all, as her life flows.
Every second, her death awaits.

Base sin, calling to her
as she withers,
as she withers.

© 2017


Want to read more dark fairy tales?
Read my Cinderella poem, And Cinderella, poisoned
Read my Snow White minuscule musing, Snow White

Snow White

No chalice spilled
yet poison coloured her cheeks
The flesh within, tainted
Rosy shell bleeding the toxins at her bite

© 2017


Want to read more dark fairy tales?
Read my Cinderella poem, And Cinderella, poisoned
Check out my Alice in Wonderland series

Historical fiction: Research

I know a lot of people, myself included, who have said that they feel like they belong in another period of time. Yes, I feel that at times. All the time. Absolutely. I think the idea of being, say in 19thC London, away from the thrall of Facebook (and away from the evil trolls who frequent it), could mean me spending more time… focusing on my pox-ridden body.

And that is the reality. We probably couldn’t manage living in those times. We romanticise it because of people like Mr. Darcy, but the truth is that we would likely be those people lying in the streets, struggling to survive because illegal immigrants like Heathcliff have taken our jobs!

Also, let’s not forget how women couldn’t vote, women were property, women couldn’t own property (unless they were lucky enough to be in a family with no males), and so on and so forth. So, if you were a guy, things might be all right for you then. That is, if you weren’t poor!

This brings me to the next subject of focus in my historical fiction blog posts: research.

In my ideal historical fiction, is a realistic (and honest) portrayal of the setting and lifestyle of the period. But even writers like Jane Austen weren’t that honest, and she lived in those times! It was all very pretty, the idea that we could choose who we wanted to marry, but that really wasn’t true. Marriage was for social or financial benefit. And for that reason, Mr. Collins is the most realistic character in Pride and Prejudice. He might be boorish and ugly, but he is realistic.

But really, Mr. Darcy. What a hunk of a man! Or was he?

I imagined Jennifer Ehle (of the BBC’s miniseries Pride and Prejudice) was a more realistic portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet than Keira Knightly (in both physique and acting ability!), but I never questioned whether Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen were realistic portrayals of Mr. Darcy.

Keep in mind, it’s never a good idea to challenge the romantic image of Mr. Darcy as he has been conveyed in film and television. Women will come at you with pitchforks! But, I came across a number of articles looking at that very idea, and I’ve come to the single conclusion:

We’ve been lied to!

A study, conducted by Professor John Sutherland of University College, London (where Eleanor attends, by the way), revealed that “the revered Darcy would have had powdered white hair, a pointy chin, a pale complexion, a long nose and sloping shoulders. Not quite the brooding, chiselled chap portrayed on-screen by modern-day actors” (Thompson). Feeling heartbroken yet? Go ahead and read more.

“That’s all well and good, Cadence,” you might say “but that was in the film, not the novel.”

“Well,” I would respond. “please let me explain.”

Mr. Darcy is described by Austen as “handsomer than Mr. Bingley” (8), which is interesting considering the unappetising description given by University College, London’s study. And so, the “brooding, chiselled chap” in Pride and Prejudice is probably just as brooding and chiselled as The Marquis de Sade!

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Fig. 1 Portrait of Sade (Smithsonian.com)

Geoffrey Rush was aptly chosen to represent Sade, in my opinion. Perhaps then he is the closest to Mr. Darcy? But I may be wrong. What do you think? Would you watch Rush as Darcy in the next Pride and Prejudice film? I know I would!

marquisshag
Fig. 2 Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis de Sade (Rushysgirl)

As readers, we aren’t given much to go with in terms of description — “fine, tall person, [with] handome features” (Austen 7) — and I imagine the BBC series and film have clouded our judgement and given us a biased image of the “handsomer than Mr. Bingley” Mr. Darcy.

But enough of Mr. Darcy, and his lies!

Emily Brontë offered us a much more detailed, and rich description of the brooding and chiselled Heathcliff. Nelly describes Heathcliff, upon his return:

He had grown a tall, athletic, well-formed man; beside whom, my master seemed quite slender and youth-like. His upright carriage suggested the idea of his having been in the army. His countenance was much older in expression and decision of feature than Mr. Linton’s; it looked intelligent, and retained no marks of further degradation. A half-civilised ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows and eyes full of black fire, but it was subdued; and his manner was even dignified: quite divested of roughness, though too stern for grace (Brontë 69).

And upon their meeting, Mr. Lockwood describes Heathcliff as:

…a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman: that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire: rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence, because he has an erect and handsome figure; and rather morose (3).

Though, of course, our image of beauty changes with time. Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley will always adhere to our image of beauty because the description is lacking. We then see Pride and Prejudice as timeless, in that regard. The reader is able to create their own image of what beauty is.

So… should I be creating a detailed image of beauty (my own interpretation, or rather the depiction of beauty of 19thC London) or, instead, should I consider the readership’s desire for a timeless beauty?

To accommodate this need of the reader, and like Austen, I too have not given detailed descriptions of characters, such as Eleanor’s love interest, Mr. Ashwood. Yet, part of that stems from Eleanor’s own rebellion from her duty in finding a husband. She is more concerned with content of character, in a friend or confidant (who she sees Mr. Ashwood as). And therefore, does not consider his appearance too deeply.

What other novels do you feel have not been entirely honest with the reader?
Let me know in the comment section below.

What do we see in terms of historical fiction, however? In my experience, in my readings of historical fiction, the image of beauty has been altered by the author’s personal bias, and not “limited” to the standards as set by the period. If we can go back to Wuthering Heights, we see this with Heathcliff. Although the character is seen as dangerous, violent, exotic, and sometimes that is attributed to his mysterious origins and colour of his skin, Heathcliff is still considered beautiful when compared to Mr. Linton for example, who is perhaps more aligned to the true standard of beauty for that period.

So, what is beauty? Should we be challenging our own standards, or leaving it open to interpretation?

In my last historical fiction post, I mentioned how I am trying to be more open to the demand for a romanticised history, and I think I have done that in Eleanor, at least I hope so. For example, Eleanor’s young sister, Vivienne, falls in love with a man whom she knows nothing about. He is handsome, yes, but as Eleanor and Vivienne grew up without a mother, they were without that person to arrange marriages or find suitors for them (such as Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice), they’re now going in blind. Vivienne knows that she should find someone to free her from her financial problems, she believes she has found someone to do that, but it was essentially ‘love at first sight’, that compelled her to fall for the mysterious Mr. Winters.

Eleanor rejects the societal expectations of her sex, and embraces the possibility of living life as a spinster. She sees that as the fate of someone of her social standing (particularly after the death of her father, and considering her money woes), therefore she believes it right to accept her future now, and prepare for it. She would rather that fate than to marry without love.

Eleanor edited

And yet, all the while, Eleanor is faced with the question of what love truly is.

Getting sidetracked! The point is, Eleanor is well aware of the consequences of veering off the path meant for her, in search of another.

But, what were/are the biggest research issues in writing Eleanor?

  • Specifics about human anatomy, in terms of surgical procedures [both Henry (Mr. Ashwood) and Eleanor perform surgeries].
  • Language. Trying to make accurate dialogue for 19thC London, which entails looking at other works written of that time. But I also like to write pretentiously, so it’s pretty easy for me! 😉
  • Etiquette.

I recently happened upon a book on etiquette, which will perhaps be of the greatest help for me in terms of staying true to the lifestyle mannerisms of 19thC London. There are specific moments in Eleanor I have been uncertain of, and already this little book, Hints of etiquette: A shield against the vulgar (which contains, Hints on Etiquette and the Usages of Society: with a Glance at Bad Habits, 1842, and Hints for Etiquette; or, Dining out Made Easy, 1849) has answered a number of my questions. For instance, in regards to dancing.

I’m quite fond of this entry (on how not to be a bitch!):

It has somewhere been observed that, ‘In good society, a tacit understanding exists that whatsoever conversation may take place shall be to a certain degree sacred, and may not honourably be carried out of it, and repeated to the prejudice of the utterer’ (Agogos, 68-69).

But, of course, I refer again to Eleanor and Vivienne’s naivety of such customs. It is a factor that surfaces again and again in the novel, and illustrates their poor decision making in some scenarios.

In regards to my issue with maintaining consistent and dated language… this is something I will delve into further in my historical fiction blog post concerning language. Most of the research was through reading, ultimately. That is probably the best advice out there, read, read, read!

In terms of my research of human anatomy…

Many universities have a program whereby members of the public can take full advantage of their libraries. This has been most beneficial to me, in particular with researching human anatomy. I often borrow books from a local university. And, as a former student with Curtin University, I am privileged enough to be able to continue using their library facilities both on-campus and online. That is just one of the many perks of choosing an education with them!

What is your research process?
Let me know in the comment section below.

I also attempted to research human anatomy and surgical procedures from videos. This is (or, would have been) something helpful for my research and writing process as I describe a particular procedure in Eleanor. Alas! I found it to be quite difficult viewing. Nausea was a problem! Instead, I had to rely on graphic images of the procedure from books and online. A book I found to be incredibly useful was, …. Wait, scratch that! I don’t really want to give it away. The specific surgical procedure is quite a pivotal plot point, so, just ignore this.

However, I will say that the late Dr. Clarendon (Eleanor’s father) was well-versed in human anatomy, as you know (he was a revered anatomist with University College, London), but his field of specialty, or at least his focus, was on the female reproductive system. He considered some theories like the ‘wandering womb’, for example. But, I will not go further. This is simply to illustrate an example of the research I have had to undertake for Eleanor.

I have so much more to say, but sadly this post is getting a little too long. Perhaps I will make a part 2, but for now, I will leave it as is. Feel free to message me, or comment below with your thoughts.

Please join me next time when I look at male characters in historical fiction.

What are your thoughts on historical fiction?
Who are your favourite authors?
Let me know in the comment section below.


Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.: New York and London, 2001. Print.
Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Wordsworth Editions Ltd: Hertfordshire, 1992. Print.
“Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis de Sade” Image. Rushysgirl. 10 Sep. 2007. Web. Date accessed 5 June 2015.
“Portrait of Sade” Image. Smithsonian.com Feb. 2015. Web. Date accessed 10 Apr. 2017.
Thompson, Rachel. “This is what Mr. Darcy would have actually looked like – and it’s not pretty“. Mashable. 9 Feb. 2017. Web. Date accessed 18 Mar. 2017.