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#shewriteshistory Marry Shelley

This article was written by Sarah Rapacz and edited by Gabrielle Goodleo

It’s no secret that aside from romance, horror is probably one of the most popular modern genres of literature today. But do you know who some of the most famous inventors of modern horror are? Here’s a secret: it’s a woman.

In today’s world, everyone has heard of Frankenstein, a horrifying amalgamation of human parts that terrorizes villages. In common culture, Frankenstein’s only role is to break down doors and make unintelligible noises as he shuffles around causing havoc. However, this portrayal does a disservice to the original conception of the character, who is actually well-read, intelligent, and gentle-hearted. The monster has been thrust into an uncaring world that sees beauty as skin deep. There are many more intricacies lost in adaptation, such as themes surrounding life, death, beauty, hubris, and morality. So although many are familiar with Frankenstein, few know of its roots as a novel, designed by one of the most prolific writers of the era: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

Shelley wrote Frankenstein when she was only 18 years old and she published it later on– in 1818 under the title: The Modern Prometheus. While modern adaptations accurately capture the horror aspects of the work, what they fail to portray is the detail and nuance that makes Frankenstein so unique. Originally, this book was the product of a bet between Shelley, her husband, and their friend Lord Byron; all writers who sought to create the best horror story. Shelley conceived the idea of a scientist and expanded the story out from there. Living in a man’s world, no one ever thought that Shelley’s book would become the cultural behemoth that it is today. Even in her time, when the work was published anonymously, everyone assumed that it was written by her husband, not herself.

Shelley took inspiration from the world around her in the creation of this novel, both from Gothic and Romantic influences; but she also drew on aspects of her own life. Shelley was surrounded by other writers, such as her parents, husband, and his circle of friends, and as a result, she was indoctrinated into the world of literature from a young age and carried this passion throughout her life. There were even times when writing was her only solace in an unforgiving world. Her writing is sometimes reflective of the hardships she faced, such as the deaths of her mother and daughter. These themes become prevalent in her works, which focus on topics of mortality and the inner turmoil of man. Many theorists speculate that Frankenstein’s monster was inspired by Shelley’s loss of her daughter, and that perhaps the monster was just a child lost in a violent world.

Although Frankenstein is Shelley’s most well-known work, she was not a one-hit-wonder. In addition to The Modern Prometheus, Shelley wrote Mathilda, The Last Man, Valperga, Lodore, Falkner, and Perkin Warbeck, to name a few novels. Many of these works featured autobiographical elements, similar to Frankenstein. Shelley incorporated people from her life into these works, creating richer characters and interactions in the process. Additionally, Shelley seemed to have a fascination with science fiction, conjuring up intricate scenarios for her works. Her stories featured everything from massive monsters to interpersonal conflicts, to disease ridden apocalypses. She is truly a pioneer of the science fiction genre, arguably the mother of modern science fiction.

So why does Mary Shelley’s writing work so well? It’s no secret that Frankenstein is the kind of book you either love or hate. There is no in between. Shelley spends half of the story writing complex and winded sentences that never seem to end. The characters, when they aren’t talking about the scenery, spend more time talking about their feelings than Dr. Phil. But it has become popular enough that it is an everlasting icon in science-fiction literature.

Despite being a science fiction novel, there is one thing Shelley does well in the book: she learns to take lessons from the writing around her and use it to express her own story. For instance, Shelley would’ve been largely familiar with the romance literature of the victorian area, especially with her husband, Percy, being a leading founder of the romantic movement at the time. Victorian romance saw nature as a spiritual experience that was open to the viewer any time they wanted to seek spiritual growth. Shelley used the same theory in her own writing. For instance, take a look at this passage from the book:


The weight upon my spirit was sensibly lightened as I plunged yet deeper in the ravine of Arve. The immense mountains and precipices that overhung me on every side, the sound of the river raging among the rocks, and the dashing of the waterfalls around spoke of a power mighty as Omnipotence — and I ceased to fear or to bend before any being less almighty than that which had created and ruled the elements, here displayed in their most terrific guise. (9.13)

In this small paragraph, it’s clear that the mountains are used to express a spiritual experience that would claim romantic literature, but it’s in a science fiction novel. Shelley created vivid worlds of monsters, but she used the theory of ‘write what you know’ when it came to her style of writing and we can do the same.

So how do we do it? Look at the following prompts below and try your hand at studying the art of Mary Shelley. Even consider picking up a copy of Frankenstein and reading through it before taking a stab at the following prompts inspired by the mother of horror.

  1. Prompt Line Starters.

Take one of the lines from Frankenstein below:

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

2.  Nightmares play a big part in the story. Of course, this is part of the reason it is considered horror. Spend some time writing about a character’s recurring nightmare. What is it and how does it affect their daily life?

3. Take some time to describe the nature around you or your character. Is it a spiritual experience or does it drain their energy? How does it affect the scene of the story?

4. If you are familiar with the writing of Frankenstein, rewrite the ending the way you would’ve wanted to end it. Would it be happier?

5. Create several characters who would’ve lived in Frankenstein’s world. What would their journals and letters look like and how would they relate to the book?

I hope you enjoyed this #shewriteshistory based off the famous Mary Shelley, look for more #shewriteshistory in the future!

Did you love Frankenstein or any of Shelley’s other works? Let us know below and remember, Say it with words!

MEM

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Book Review

The Chronicles of Hawthorn: A Magical Fantasy Adventure

From the desk of Reedsy Discovery. Check out my profile here.

SYNOPSIS

An ancient prophecy. A deadly enemy. A young girl’s fight to save her people and her own soul.

4 books. 800+ pages of magical fantasy that spell fast-paced adventure.

Follow Flynn Hawthorn on her magical journey as she struggles to find the courage to fulfill her destiny, fights for the future of her people, and finds an unlikely love that defies all odds.

Growing up as the daughter of the High Priestess was never easy, but now that Flynn has reached the age of initiation she can no longer hide in the shadows. Stepping into her new role should’ve been easy, instead she and her best friend find themselves knee deep in troubles beyond their abilities.

From petulant faeries to evil witches, Flynn will have to push beyond her limits to reunite the Book of Shadow and Light. If she fails everything she loves will fall into darkness.

The Chronicles of Hawthorn Box Set contains four books from the best-selling young adult fantasy series. If you like historical fantasy, magical adventure, deadly enemies, and unbreakable friendships that readers have called, “truly a wonderful read for all ages,” then you’ll love Rue’s spell-casting spectacular.

My Thoughts:

The Chronicles of Hawthorn felt like a generic convulsion of the greatest fantasy novels trying, and failing, to be one great fantasy novel. From the lack of setting, to overly generic plot points and randomly thrown together names, there were many issues found within the book. For the purpose of this review, let’s start with Setting first.

Perhaps after reading some of the best female writers of our time like P.C. Cast, Charlaine Harris and Rachel Mead, I expected a little too much from this book. There were so many generic words that sounded as if they were strung together from a random website generator that I wasn’t sure which one was the title of the location of the book. All I am sure of is that it was supposed to be an island, and that there are other islands near by and that’s questionable.

The setting felt as if the author had too many things trying to happen to focus on one idea and pinpoint them all down. Because of this what little names involved the setting either sounded computer generated or used the same letters, making them hard to keep up with. Traditionally, I would have preferred the author keep the setting simple, as opposed to the complex world they tried to build.

Apart from the name, we didn’t get much information about setting. I feel like I have no defined idea what the houses looked liked or even really what the forest looked like and this created distance between myself and the book. I would’ve loved to see more detail. I wish the world building was just a tad bit stronger.

Lastly, Flynn herself was completely annoying. She spent most of the book complaining about how her mother didn’t love her. By chapter two, I was bored and tired. For one, can we get another subject please? What about a book where the family stands with the MC against the town or something? Relational conflict doesn’t always have to be about family.

Of course, by the end of the book, Flynn masters the elements she needs to not only save the day, but gain approval. This gave me serious concerns about the message that the book was sending to young adults. I wouldn’t want my child reading a book that tells her to conform to society for approval, or that who she is isn’t less than good.

Final Verdict:

Overall, there were a lot of different concerns with this book and because of that, I have to give a 1 out of 5 stars. There’s just not enough clarity or voice overall to make this book stand out or make the message strong and personal

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Welcome to Merlot Et Mots, Publishing

I am the Queen of Procrastination

Welcome to My Really Old Blog

I am the Queen of Procrastination. I’m also the Queen of Great Ideas. Ever feel that way? Do you have a list of ideas piling up, waiting with anticipation for the moment you decide to start them? I can relate. In fact, this entire blog can relate.

I created my WordPress account in early 2003, way back when it was shiny and new. I loved the site. My problem? I didn’t think I had anything to say. I knew I wanted to blog about writing, but what did I have to share? At the time, I was just a geeky kid who loved reading Harry Potter. I had no idea what I was doing. So, the blog sat empty.  That is, until a few months ago, when I decided to change my lifestyle of procrastination.

If you’re anything like me, your desk might look like this.

My name is Maggie Chapman, but from now on, I’ll go by my pen name, Maggie Burleson–a change I will explain in a later post. I’m a 28 year-old college student and a soon-to-be published writer.

The journey of this blog began during my sophomore year of college, though my writing career began much earlier than that. Back in those days, I struggled not only with  procrastination, but also from depression, lack of self-discipline, motivation, and a slew of other things that kept me from pursuing writing as a career rather than just a hobby.

I graduated high school in 2008, right when the recession hit. I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to college at the time, but after looking for a job for almost ten years (from 2004-2014) without success, I realized I had no choice. It was as if the universe was giving me a big blinking sign at the time.

So I started with community college, where I learned to fall in love with writing in a new way. I took as many English classes and poetry classes as I could and even finished my first novel during this time. The depression that had claimed my life for the past few years seemed to evaporate. I was happier than I’d ever been before. But I still had no idea what I wanted to do for a career.

Writing never seemed like a viable career and part of me feared that I would lose my passion while trying to turn it into a business.

After earning a two-year arts degree from my community college, I was accepted to The University of Wilmington in North Carolina as a sophomore in Spring of 2017. A college almost seven hours away from my hometown (personal goal I set for myself almost three years ago.)

Suddenly, I had to decide on a path for my future. I wanted to choose a career that wouldn’t bore me or make me part of the 9-to-5 crowd, just getting by. That year, I promised myself that I would never, ever settle for anything less than what I wanted. It turns out that writing was what I wanted most seriously. I majored in creative writing. This was the best choice I’d ever made.

I decided to self-publish my own books early on in my career. I don’t think traditional publishing was ever a question for me.While sitting on the floor in a dorm building older than my great grandmother, I founded the idea of Merlot Et Mots. It would be a self-publishing company that works similarly to how a traditional publishing company does. A company that provides learners with a way to fall in love with reading and provides writers with a way to remain in control without feeling isolated. Let me tell you this: writing is lonely. Self-publishing is also lonely as hell. The stigma of low-quality content and half-assed editing attached to the self-publishing world still reigns. It is a dark, deep, and at times, frustrating and depressing industry.

I firmly believe writing is only a struggle (business wise) when we try to set the exact same rules to every project.


This blog is an attempt to break that stigma and make writing and reading more accessible. I still don’t know a lot about what’s going to happen here, but I do know that my goals include providing readers with great content that makes them happy, even if for only a moment. I also seek to give writers a voice, let them know that writing is hard and Merlot Et Mots get it too; to provide them with tips and tools for getting the job done that go beyond the basic how-tos; to teach writers that we can love and enjoy writing, find pride in our words and make a living happily writing, despite the hard work that this path requires and the anguish that comes along with it.

I’ll use this blog to provide tips on staying physically active as a writer while managing a solid writing schedule, eating healthy food that doesn’t take time away from your writing to make, and learning to fall in love with your first draft, even if it needs major editing at the same time. Togethr, we’ll discuss why positive reinforcement is a benefit to writers, especially when writing on difficult topics, and how to feel loved, even when you feel isolated in your writing. This introduction is just a small peek into what Merlot Et Mots means to me. However, I hope every post on this blog brings you encouragement, love, and health.

Because that’s what this is. A blog of love. A blog of realism. A blog of happiness. And yes, you can have it all.

Be happy, lovely readers. And remember:
Say it with words.