Enjoy my work? Want to share your love? ❤
It’s very close to National Novel Writing Month! Eeee! I’ve started my research and planning and now have a better idea of what to do exactly for the project.
I will be writing about some events or incidents in the Marquis de Sade’s life, a sort of series of short stories in a way, with the overall plot focusing on his imprisonment in Vincennes (and possibly his movement to the Bastille and then to Charenton asylum), and his insufferable wait to be freed.
As much as Sade was a terrible man, I cannot help but see his mother-in-law as the true villain. If you think your in laws are bad, you should hear what Madame de Montreuil (Sade’s mother-in-law) was like.
Mme de Montreuil arranges a lettre de cachet (arrest by order of the King, and imprisonment without trial) against Sade for being a very naughty man, but he evades the authorities. She then sends Sade a letter to inform him that his mother is sick. He comes out of hiding to visit her only to find it is a trap — his mother had already died weeks earlier. Sade is then arrested and spends the next 13 years in prison (moving from Vincennes, to the Bastille, to Charenton asylum), until lettres de cachet are abolished during the Revolution.
So, yeah, I wouldn’t like her for a mother-in-law!
I think the next step is to work out how to portray Mme de Montreuil in the novel. She was, of course, very upset that Sade was freed!
I also want to look at Sade’s childhood, education, time in the army, and other things that I am not so familiar with. BUT, I absolutely want to further explore some of my theories (the reasonable and outrageous) which I only briefly touched on in my thesis — and perhaps ideas of Sade as a libertine and libertarian, a pornographer and philosopher. The great thing about writing fiction (or potentially creative nonfiction), is the creative freedom — I can convey my absurd ideas, and feel only slight guilt about anything I think is unethical!
Yes, I would love to stay as true to the facts as possible (his life was far too interesting to necessitate the addition of fiction), but I’m not writing a biography. I want to write my own narrative of his life.
So, I am quite well into my research. I would absolutely love to chat with some of the authors of my textbooks, such as Francine du Plessix Gray, Neil Schaeffer, Timo Airaksinen, and even Michel Onfray — Why not? Though, it would be interesting and awkward, since I’m not a fan of his arguments at all, haha!
The idea of tweeting them to discuss Sade sounds both hilarious and inappropriate.
I would have absolutely loved to chat with R. F. Brissenden too. Honestly, his work Virtue in Distress, was a wonderful inspiration to me during my thesis writing. In fact, it helped me to decide on my argument (regarding the construction of virtue). Sadly, Mr Brissenden passed many years before I even began considering a thesis. Though, a child approaching him about the Marquis de Sade would have been painfully awkward!
So, I have been preparing for NaNoWriMo in research and planning, but I have also been doing other things, such as setting up a “package” for myself to use during November. It’s nothing, really, just something to help motivate me. For instance, a pack of my favourite pens, a new book stand (because those textbooks won’t stay open, damn it!), ink for the printer, new wrist rests for my keyboard and mouse (this is more because I’ve started getting pains — nerve problems, etc), a large whiteboard for plot/story planning, oh, and I got myself a new computer too 😉
My new book stand.
Look how pretty! It’s been a pain in the arse trying to translate quotes and notes to the computer — holding the book open while typing. Blergh!
And, of course, I’m just casually showing off my textbooks in the background 😉
Probably should have taken a photo of my new computer. I suppose that’s something to be more excited about… but the book stand!
Anyway, I think that’s it for this week. I’ll be sure to fill you in with more of my goings-on next week.
Hey everyone, I have lots of exciting things to talk about!
Firstly, congratulations to the winner of the 1,000 likes #sharingiscaring giveaway! Your super-awesome, amazing book bundle will set sail today. And, I have to say, I am so envious because not even I have the gorgeous Penguin clothbound editions of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and Wuthering Heights. Nor do I have the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban hardcover. And yeah, I know, giving away the 3rd book in the series is kind of mean, I guess. But it’s my favourite!
I’m already thinking of giveaway ideas for that next milestone — 2,000 likes — so keep an eye out!
Now onto NaNo
National Novel Writing Month starts the 1st of November. The goal is simple — well, simple in theory — write 50,000 words in 30 days. If you remember, Eleanor was a winner of last year’s NaNoWriMo, with 50,131 words written in 26 days! Yay!
This month, I will focus on research for my NaNo project — a novel on the Marquis de Sade. At this stage I am simply going over my texts, and thesis work, and just re-introducing myself to Sade. Of course, you well remember my studies on Sade. No? I’m not sure where my fascination with Sade started, but throughout my BA Professional Writing and Publishing degree, I made an effort to focus any creative writing assessment on that very naughty Frenchman. So obsessed was I that I decided to write my honours thesis on him. Well, the thesis title was ‘The construction of virtue in the Marquis de Sade’s Justine‘, so it was more about his tortured heroine. Though, I sort of make a point that they are similar entities — something I will explore in my book.
Anyway, I’m rambling.
While I am doing my research and planning for NaNo, my amazingly-talented graphic designer, Phoenix (of Phoenix Johnson Graphic Design) will be hard at work making a grand cover for the novel — it’s really more of a motivational tool to keep me committed to the project, much like the cover for Eleanor. And it certainly worked!
So, I’m very excited to see what Phoenix has planned for Sade.
During my research and planning, I will get a better idea of what it is I actually want to write. I have most of it sorted — in just this last week of research, I have been able to figure out the overarching plot, and some of the sub plots. Hopefully this means I can fashion up some sort of blurb for you soon.
I have a page set up already. I haven’t 100% decided on a title though. So far, I have a few ideas and have simply picked a temporary one to post up on the NaNo site — Crime of the Marquis de Sade — I’m likely to change it though. Also, I am a wee bit concerned it could be mistaken for a non-fiction work with a title like that.
If you are a fellow NaNoWriMo-er, feel free to check out my profile You are, of course, welcome to add me as a buddy.
Mental Health Month
You may remember, last week I spoke about Mental Health Month. Each year I use my Facebook page as a platform to raise awareness of the stigma associated with mental illness. But, it’s also a time when I ask followers to post pictures, memes, gifs, and whatnot of things that brighten their day, and may well brighten another’s day. See, we all know about the stigma. Words like “crazy”, “bipolar”, “insane”, and so on are casually thrown around, with little appreciation or understanding of mental health, nor of what implications those harmful words cause. Mental illness and suicide are sometimes stigmatised by the media too.
We are therefore surrounded by ideas and words which construct an image of a monster; that the mentally ill are people to be feared.
During Mental Health Month, this is the perfect time to challenge those ideas and words, and to challenge the media, to ensure we no longer stigmatise the mentally ill.
Remember, you can help shed a more positive light on mental health by making a #MentalHealthPromise
It’s very difficult to talk about the stigma surrounding mental health without going into a great, lengthy rant, but I will try and rein myself in.
The point is that we all know about the stigma. We need to work together to end it. Now! You can help. Yes, you can! Please avoid using words like “crazy” to describe someone. At least, ask yourself why you would call someone that. When a crime has been committed, don’t assume the criminal was mentally ill. Don’t even joke about it. Most people living with a mental illness would sooner hurt themselves than anyone else — we are empathetic; we understand pain a great deal and would never wish to inflict that kind of pain on anyone. Also, the mentally ill are more likely to be the victims of crime.
I didn’t want to go this far, I know.
The main aim, however, of my Mental Health Month Facebook posts is to elicit some form of positive reaction. A smile, maybe. Or a picture of a cat. Doesn’t matter. I want people to know they are safe and can post whatever they like on my page without fear.
It’s hard to admit to having a mental illness, because of the stigma, because we can never be sure how someone will respond. It’s important though not to be ashamed or afraid of having a mental illness. Remember, mental illness is not a choice, but recovery is.
Please be kind to each other.
If you or someone you know needs help, please phone
Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24 hour crisis support.
If it is an emergency, phone 000.
Firstly, I want to thank everyone who entered the giveaway. It has, of course, closed and I will be announcing the winner on the 7th, so follow my Facebook page and keep an eye out to see if you’ve won this awesome book bundle!
So, how did you go with the giveaway? Were you able to name all the books?
You may have noticed that most of these books are on my review scale.
A weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I submitted Eleanor to an agent yesterday! Eeee! I’m both relieved and scared, but finally letting Eleanor go means that I can begin focusing on my next project — my entry for this year’s National Novel Writing Month competition — a novel on the Marquis de Sade.
It will be a while before I hear back from the agent, in fact I may not hear back at all. I’m not too familiar with the process, but I know that the odds are against me — I have a greater chance of being passed on.
Regardless, I’m just so happy to have finally reached this stage. It’s been a long road, certainly. I’ve heard it said that writing the book is the easiest part. I knew it to be true (as an editor and proofreader, I knew I’d be killing myself trying to reach perfection), but it wasn’t until I went through it all that I realised just how hard it was. Of course, it hasn’t really ended — not until Eleanor is published!
I want to thank everyone who helped me along the way. Thank you to my partner, Simon. I honestly don’t know how to thank you for everything you’ve done for me ❤
Thank you to my wonderful friend, Phoenix (of Phoenix Johnson Graphic Design), for designing the mock-up cover for Eleanor for last year’s NaNoWriMo. It certainly helped me stay motivated and committed to the project. And, the cover looks damn amazing — I can’t stop looking at it!
Thank you to Amanda J Spedding (of Phoenix Editing and Proofreading) for the copyedit and manuscript assessment. I was simply blown away. Honestly, I’ve been reduced to an inarticulate mass of… of… of something. The advice, suggestions, detailed report on concerns with the manuscript — it was everything I needed to help perfect Eleanor.
And, of course, thank you to family, friends, and fans!
Mental Health Month
October is Mental Health Month, and if you’ve been following me on Facebook you would have noticed all my posts. There’s so much you can do to get involved, and I’ve got a bunch of ideas how — not only in how to raise awareness of the stigma associated with mental illness, but in how to fight the stigma!
This month, you can make a #MentalHealthPromise to help share a positive light on mental health. You can make a promise here.
Be sure to share your promise (you’re welcome to share yours here, or on my Facebook page) and invite your friends to make their own.
Hyperbole and a Half
Ever heard of Hyperbole and a Half?
This blog (and book) is a must read for everyone, but for those living with a mental illness, Hyperbole and a Half is a little gem to brighten their day ❤
If you or someone you know is living with a mental illness, I highly recommend you check out the book. It is a fun, honest, and hilarious read, and one that would make a wonderful present for a loved one.
I have my own copy, and I just love it!
That’s it for this week! But, I’ll be sure to fill you guys in with all my happenings and shenanigans.
Wait, what’s this giveaway?
Dudes, seriously? I’ll break it down for you very quickly.
- 7 x books (paperback and hardcover)
- 2 of these books are Penguin clothbound classics! (I don’t even own these editions!)
- Total value = $150!
- Do you want them? Enter the giveaway!
What?! How do I enter?
- Like and follow my Facebook page
- Like one of my giveaway teaser posts (doesn’t matter which one. I just need to know who’s entering)
- (Optional) For an extra chance, be the first to comment the name of the book pictured (or from the clue).
- (Optional) Tag a friend who likes reading.
Be sure to complete both 1 and 2 for your entry to count! — I can’t stress this enough, guys. So many of you aren’t following the rules. There are only two! If you don’t follow these two very simple rules, your entry will not be eligible.
And, as I’ve said, if you want an extra chance at getting your hands on this collection of 7 books worth $150, then you have to be the first to name the book from my clues. There
are still 6 is still 1 book which has not been named! Come on, guys! I know some of the clues are tricky, but you can work them out. I believe in you!
I’ll even make it easy for you. I won’t make you wade through all my Facebook posts to find those teasers.
Books The book from… Teaser #3 Teaser #5 Teaser #7
- Teaser #10
Teaser #11 Teaser #12 Teaser #13
have has not been named. Just click on the link above, be the first to name the book, and yay!
Wow! Since I started writing this post, so many of you have been able to identify these books! Awesome work!
There are still more teasers to come, which means more chances!
So, what’s in the bundle?
I know everyone has been up-in-arms about this. “What’s in this damn collection?” I’ve heard you ask with fury welling in your eyes. “It’s okay,” I respond. “Please put down the pitchfork. I’ll tell you.”
A few of the books have been identified, so I can share them with you now. I haven’t even revealed this to my Facebook fans, so consider yourselves lucky! They may have guessed, but I haven’t told them whether they were correct or not.
- (Top left) Rebel Heiress, by Fiona Mountain
- (Top right) Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
- (Middle left) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling
- (Middle right) Tess of the d’Ubervilles, by Thomas Hardy
- (Bottom) Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
Congratulations to those who were the first to name the books. You’ll have an extra chance in the giveaway.
This giveaway is open worldwide. It ends 30.09.17 11.59pm AEST, and that one lucky fan will be named 07.10.17.
First off, I know you’ve all been excited about my giveaway. If you’ve been following my facebook page, you would have seen my teaser posts. Each teaser post reveals a clue about an item in the giveaway book bundle.
Teaser #4 has been the most popular so far.
Quite a few of you managed to identify the book. So well done! If you were the first to do so, you will receive an extra chance at taking home this amazing collection of books (not literally. If you win, I’ll post the books out to you, obviously). There are 7 books in total, including 2 x Penguin clothbound classics! This book bundle is valued at $150, so I know you’ll want to get your hands on it!
Keep an eye out for the teaser posts. You’ll have more chances to name the books.
But, PLEASE read the rules. So many people have only completed one part of the rules. They will not be eligible, I’m afraid. There are only 2 rules:
- Like and follow my page
- Like the post
And that means ANY of the posts relating to the giveaway. It could be Teaser #1 or Teaser #10. As long as you like one of them, AND like the page.
And, there are two other optional steps, which are:
- (Optional) For an extra chance, be the first to comment the name of the book pictured (or comment the name from the clue — a quote, or other).
- (Optional) Tag a friend who likes reading.
There are a few books in my teaser posts that have not been identified… yet! Hop on over to my page. Look for the teaser posts, and see if you can name the books!
So far, I have posted these teaser pictures. Can you name them?
This giveaway is open worldwide. It ends 30.09.17 11.59pm AEST, and that one lucky fan will be named 07.10.17.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to have a look at Eleanor. So what’s going on with Eleanor? As you know, my manuscript has come back from the editor. I’ve received mostly positive feedback, but there are some areas of concern I’ll need to address. So far, I’ve gone over most of the issues. There are a couple of things I’ll need to be more attentive to. My heroine, Eleanor, needs the most work at this stage. My editor really liked Mr Ashwood (Henry), Gaston, and Vivienne, which I am thrilled about — particularly her liking Henry, who I was most concerned about. Despite my readings and research, I have still not been very confident writing male characters, especially someone like Henry, who is the love interest of Eleanor.
“That’s not a good sign”, you must think, considering I am focusing this coming National Novel Writing Month on writing a book from the perspective of the Marquis de Sade. He isn’t too hard to get into the mind of though, as I have been researching him and his works for a number of years now. It’s simply a matter of conveying it, in the right way.
Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked, as always.
Once I make all the changes, I will begin pitching to agents. As you know, I have a few in mind. I won’t name them at this stage, though I will keep you guys up to date whenever I have news.
And, because I’m feeling generous, here’s a little teaser taste of Eleanor.
Also, did anyone watch the Matildas beat Brazil last week? It was a fantastic match! With a sellout crowd, this alone should encourage the networks to broadcast more women’s sports. Lisa De Vanna and Sam Kerr were amazing. Watching Kerr’s style and determination throughout the match, I could see that it was only inevitable she would score. Well done to the ladies, and I’m excited to see another match soon!
Anyway, I might leave it there this week. Knowing me, I’ll get distracted again, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some important news I was supposed to give you. Oh well!
As you know, Eleanor was recently sent off to the editor, to get all prettied and vamped up, but now my beloved debut novel is back in my hands, hooray!
So, right now I’m going through all the mark ups and comments, and the report to see where change is needed to be made in the manuscript. There are a number of minor and major issues to work through, so it seems I will be working on Eleanor a bit longer than I had initially anticipated. Still, I have set myself a reasonable deadline to get through everything. I’m hoping to finish by the end of the month, at which time I can finally start contacting agents.
I have to say that I am extremely happy with the editorial services provided by Phoenix Editing and Proofreading. Amanda J Spedding has been incredible to work with, and I highly recommend her to anyone looking to publish — because every manuscript needs an edit. We’re still in talks because we want to ensure Eleanor gets to as near perfect as possible. I just want Eleanor to have the best chance when I submit to agents and publishers.
But, of course, to do that I also have to work on my cover letter more. I have a draft pretty well sorted, just need to perfect it. I also have listed a few agents I want to approach, just have to make sure I approach them at the right time, obviously — a lot of agents will only accept manuscripts at particular times.
I think I’ll leave it there for this week. It’s only a quick update, sorry guys, but I’ll fill you in more when I get closer to finishing up Eleanor. And, hopefully this will be the last time I have to work on this novel before I submit to agents. It’s not that I’m sick of working on it, I’m just ready to let it go.
There seems to be a theme, in a number of the books I’ve read, being that a woman’s confinement within an asylum has been part of some great conspiracy to, as I’ve noted before, silence them.
This is the kind of thing I’d love to study, and write a paper on. And I might just do that!
The Asylum — where do I start?
The Asylum, by John Harwood, is another great find in the “neo-Victorian” historical fiction genre. The characters, narrative, and atmosphere reeked of rich, Gothic elements. Just about every convention of the Gothic literary genre can be found in this novel.
The heroine of the novel, Georgina Ferrars, wakes up in Tregannon House (an asylum) with no memory of why or how she got there. Dr. Maynard Straker informs her that she came of her own free will, under the name of Lucy Ashton, but then suffered a seizure (causing her to lose her memory). Desperate for answers (and for someone to confirm her sanity), Georgina pleads with Dr. Straker to contact her only living relative, her uncle Josiah, so that he may identify her.
Now pay attention, dear readers, for one of our first Gothic conventions!
Her uncle swiftly responds, informing Dr. Straker that Georgina Ferrars is in fact at home with him, stating,
Your patient must be an imposter. (14)
Dun dun dunnn! Doppelgängers! I was just waiting for this line to come, “But if you’re there, then who’s…?” but sadly, it didn’t.
Now, I’ve mentioned a theme of silencing women — that is, I’ve found in my readings of “neo-Victorian” literature — by committing them. In The Asylum, there are a number of motives behind silencing Georgina Ferrars. The doppelgänger, of course, has her own motive — she wishes to take Georgina’s place. This was a very interesting, very different, kind of “silencing” for me to read in the genre. I haven’t as yet come across one like it, where the silencer or oppressor wasn’t a man. Though, in reading further, you will find there is a lot more to it than simply trying to take someone’s place, it soon becomes about erasing a person entirely. But, why would you want to erase the evidence of someone? I’ll leave that for you to figure out, because I assume you’ll go buy the book now.
The structure of the book was a little confusing, as the narrative moves through time, back and forth, but I took little issue with that. Each character and setting was so richly defined, I always knew which character was the focus (Georgina, Emily, and Rosina). The characters were all three-dimensional, and their desires and motivations believable. Save for one. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
It is certainly a difficult feat, creating such depth for most, if not all, the characters, considering a number of the characters and their actions are conveyed only through a series of letters. I wished there could have been more play on that; the notion of the unreliable narrator, because the reader finds the story, or series of stories, through the eyes of three different characters.
However, there were so many characters it was hard to keep up. I especially had difficulty figuring out the family trees.
I actually drew up a family tree to help me keep track. When I get the chance I’ll post it up.
Spoilers from here. Do not read further if you do not wish for the book to be spoiled. Well, who wishes for a book to be spoiled anyway?
And, it proved difficult even remembering Georgina’s and the doppelgänger’s identities. I don’t mean confusing them together, I mean, their names kept changing! (Draws in long breath) First it’s Georgina Ferrars. She admits herself to the asylum as Lucy Ashton, but it’s discovered the name is actually Lucia Ardent (and that ‘Lucy Ashton’ was just a disguise), except that Lucia Ardent is actually the name of the doppelgänger. Then, Georgina discovers her mother is not actually her mother, so instead of Ferrars, she’s actually a Mordaunt! So, she’s Georgina Mordaunt. (Releases breath).
My years of watching soap operas did help keep me up to date though 😉
I would have easily rated this book a Wuthering Heights, or Wormwood: A Drama of Paris, were it not for the ending. It wasn’t the type of ending that bothered me (though you know I have a particular love), it was the ‘bad guy’ spiel, the I’m-going-to-tell-you-everything-of-my-plans-because-I’m-going-to-kill-you-anyway-and-it’ll-be-of-little-consequence-should-I-do-so speech that every bad guy gives. It’s one of those cliches I could have done without, and it really bothered me after Harwood worked so hard to build this eerily beautiful and sublime Gothic atmosphere — one which won me over so easily.
I felt the ‘bad guy’ spiel undermined all of that (the atmosphere, story, plot, etc), and cheapened it, really, to the point that I groaned loudly when reading it. And it didn’t seem plausible that Dr. Straker was the big bad — I warned there’d be spoilers! He seemed suspicious and guilty of something, yes — perhaps in not being completely honest with Georgina — but it was rather elaborate the explanation behind all the incidents, behaviour, etc. One key example is the explanation behind Georgina’s seizure and subsequent memory loss at the beginning of the novel. I honestly groaned and rolled my eyes upon the revelation. I didn’t like it, but to Harwood’s credit, I never believed Dr. Straker when he said Georgina had a seizure — it was all too convenient that she couldn’t remember why she was at the asylum in the first place. I didn’t trust Dr. Straker even then, but it didn’t develop; there wasn’t enough to justify his actions at the end.
Really, to me, the ‘bad guy’ spiel seemed to come across as a clunky means of tying up loose ends (or answering questions the reader may have had), and creating a convenient justification for actions, and whatnot, unexplained. But, I guess, that is pretty much the motive of a ‘bad guy’ spiel, isn’t it? Why else would you have one?
And so that leads me to the other reason I decided on a lower rating — it just was not believable to me that Dr. Straker was the big bad, especially when considering the story and plot. His motives were minuscule and, frankly, I did not understand them. It was essentially a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde moment, except there was no build up to it — it was completely unexpected, and not in a good way. At least, not in my opinion.
One of Georgina’s greatest villains in the novel — the doppelgänger — becomes a meek shell of a person who doesn’t completely own her actions. Instead, this grand villain becomes the epitome of the Canadian never-ending apology…
It seemed a little convenient for Georgina to be able to face her daemon finally (who had a mountain of motive, mind you), and forgive her so easily. Let’s recap though.
The doppelgänger (and main villain of the piece), Lucia Ardent, knows that Georgina has been falsely committed — it is revealed she is the one who sends the telegram, on “behalf” of the uncle. She is aware that Georgina has been trapped roughly five months in that damned asylum. She always had ill intentions, as she confesses at the end of the novel. And so, I simply cannot grasp Georgina’s ability to forgive so readily. In fact, Georgina decides that she will help keep Lucia out of prison for her crime.
Is it merely because there was a greater evil at work? That they had a common enemy in the end?
If I could go back in time, I’d tell past Cadence, “Stop about 80-90% in. You won’t like the ending.” Still, you guys know what I’m like. I like tragedies, I like sad or open endings, and I like the absence of ‘bad guy’ spiels.
BUT, revelation after revelation, this book was full of surprises and kept me on my toes. Despite the semi-predictable love elements to the story (even the one of a taboo nature!), there weren’t a lot of instances of me going, “Well, I knew that was going to happen!”
Again, the atmosphere and characters were rich and well-defined, and I’m always a fan of a bit of epistolary writing — another lovely Gothic element!
If I had stopped 80-90% in, I would have rated The Asylum a Wormwood: A Drama of Paris, or even a Wuthering Heights, but because I read to the very ending, I had to change my rating. So, instead…
I rate this book a Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
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
Image credits: Kate Beaton