The Phantom of the Opera Reading and Viewing Challenge

Are you intrigued by a masked man in the shadows?  Love being swept away by stirring musical tragedies?  Want to visit 1880s Paris?  Then this challenge is for you!

Join us to venture below the Opera Garnier and across the underground lake for a Phantom of the Opera Reading and Viewing Challenge.  Since Gaston Leroux’s first publication of The Phantom of the Opera in 1909, the story has been told, retold and continued dozens of times, on the screen, on the stage, and on the page.  Get a little more Phantom into your life in 2020 by participating in this challenge to go exploring through the many versions of the Phantom.  Maybe you’ll meet a new phan friend, or find a new version of the story to love.

I want this above all to be fun, so the rules (which are really more guidelines) are simple and, I hope, welcoming to all.

What Qualifies: Any book, movie or play based on Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera, or an obvious sequel or prequel to the story.  If there’s a masked man with a deformity in love with a singer, while hiding in an opera house, it probably qualifies.  I’ve provided a (non-comprehensive) list of ideas at the end of this post.  Rereads/rewatches are just as valid as new ones, although if you’re someone who watches the Claude Rains Phantom every Saturday, it still only counts as one.  The exception to that rule is if you see a play version more than once in the year, with different lead actors.

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Spirit Sunday: Our genuine need…

Coming Soon: The Servants Audiobook + A Christmas Epilogue

I have a little something special coming out at Christmas… 🙂

Stonehenge Circle Writers

We’re excited to announce two very special releases this month!  In June, five of our authors released The Servants and the Beast, a Beauty and the Beast novella written collaboratively.

On December 23rd, we’re releasing Stonehenge Circle Press’ first audiobook, the audio version of The Servants and the Beast, read for you by four of the authors.  It will be available for purchase through Audible.

On the same day, we’re also releasing a very special Christmas bonus, a short story epilogue to the novella, as the characters celebrate Christmas after the curse ended.  Our writers have collaborated again to write this holiday story, to give you a glimpse of what’s become of your favorite characters.

Stay tuned next week for the cover release of After the Sparkles Settled: In Which the Ones Who Survived the Curse Celebrate Christmas by Karen Blakely, R. A. Gates, Kelly Haworth, Jenniffer Lee and Cheryl…

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Writing Wednesday: After the Thorns

As per my last NaNo update, when November ended I had just a bit of my Princess Beyond the Thorns story still to tell.  So I continued at a pretty close to NaNo pace for the next few days, and finished out the story yesterday, on Tuesday.  I’m happy to have the draft complete and concluded!  Now I can put it away for a few months to let everything simmer before tackling the inevitable revisions…

Counting the three days of December writing, I wrote almost 67,000 words since November 1st.  That brings the total draft to about 121,000…which is long, but fantasy novels are often longer than other genres.  I’ll see what happens in revision.  This may turn out to be two books after all, but for now I’m still looking at it as one.

Over the course of 121,000 words, there were three walls of thorns, two adorable kittens plus a lioness, a handful of sword fights, three villains, two deaths, one wedding, one major fight between the lead couple, and a lot of kissing.

I’d offer an excerpt, but I can’t find anything from the last three days of writing that isn’t rife with spoilers…

Now that the big fantasy draft is done, I have other, slightly lower-key projects in mind to tackle for December.  Plus I have some fun Servants and the Beast-related news that should be going live very soon.  🙂  So stay tuned for that!

Spirit Sunday: Whatever the question…

NaNoWriMo Day 30: Finish Line

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my American readers!  And…it’s the last day of NaNoWriMo!  I’m excited to share that I reached and passed my goal of 60,000 words this month.

I passed the 50,000 mark on November 25th, and actually finished my 60,000 word goal a day early.  I had my highest word count day on November 29th, clocking in at 4,276 words.  I got together with several writing friends in the evening, including two doing NaNo, and it was especially fun to pass the 60,000 mark while writing with them.

I kept writing today, even though the pressure was off, and ended up with a final total of 63,068 words, a personal NaNo best.  I’m sooo close to the end of the novel too–I have about three scenes left, so maybe 2,000 to 4,000 words.  I hope to finish in the next couple of days, so I can slack off for December. 🙂

Well, actually, I have an entirely different project I plan to start in December, that I may share about soon.  We’ll see!  But that’s how it goes…  November 1st through 30th: write.  December 1st: keep writing!

Here’s an end-of-NaNo excerpt.  My characters have been angsting for a while, but I’ve brought them nearly up to the happy ending now.  There’s still a few things for them to work out, though…


Terrence wrapped his hand around hers and it felt so familiar, so good, that Rose couldn’t make herself feel alarm even as they hurried behind the cats.  She knew Xevrix might appear at any moment, but she couldn’t feel it.

“I know this isn’t the time,” Terrence said as they approached the nearest door to the castle, “but when you left through that mirror, did you mean to leave permanently?”

“No,” Rose said in honest surprise.  “Of course not.  I wasn’t that angry.  I mean, I was angry with you—I’m still angry with you, come to think of it, but we can talk about that later—but I just…wanted to prove I could act for myself, I think.”

“Proved,” Terrence said.  “Very proved.  Maybe prove it less intensely next time?”

“Maybe listen to me next time?” Rose countered, tugging on his hand.

“I’m sorry—I’m very, very sorry, and I will happily be very eloquent about it later when we have the time,” he said, pushing open the door.

Coming Soon: New Blog Features

We’re hurtling towards the end of 2019, and even though I’m deep in NaNoWriMo for November, I’m starting to look ahead and make plans for the blog in the future.  I have some exciting new ideas I want to start putting up, so I thought I’d do a bit of a “coming attractions” post to tell regular readers what to expect.

Spirit Sunday

I’ve been reading (and occasionally reviewing) spiritual books for a number of years.  It’s been a reading goal in some years, and I’ve listed a lot of the books I’ve read and found value in.  I’ve also been keeping a journal to note quotes from the spiritual or philosophical books I’ve been reading.  I plan to start sharing some of those quotes and insights as a regular feature.  Starting next week, I’ll be sharing a quote each Sunday.

I’ll note that I am Catholic, and so come from a Christian background.  I have read and found meaning in books from many different faith traditions, though, and I expect both that fact and the non-judgmental feelings behind it to inform the quotes I share.  These will be what spoke to me, but I respect that everyone finds their inspiration in different places and different forms.

The Phantom of the Opera Reading and Viewing Challenge

Closer to my usually scheduled content, I plan to host a reading and viewing challenge in 2020, centered around the Phantom of the Opera.  Even semi-regular readers probably know that I’m very interested in the many, many versions of the Phantom–and that my own version will be coming out in a trilogy in 2020.  So it seems like a natural time to try to gather some other fans around and enjoy exploring the Phantom story together, on page and on screen.  The challenge will have its own, much more extensive, launch post shortly with more details.

Live Blog Writing Collaboration

I and three of my writer friends recently agreed to attempt to co-write a novel in 2020.  We went on a writing retreat in September, where we created characters and outlined a plot, involving a coven, a parkour group and possibly magical pesto.  Trust us, it’s amazing!  We plan to write the book round-robin style, each author writing a chapter then passing it on to the next, and have already assigned chapters based on the outline.

We also plan to blog about the process while we do it, discussing in a live fashion how the book is growing and how the collaboration process is working.  The blogging will be primarily on the Stonehenge Circle Writers blog, but I plan to cross-post over here, so expect to see those updates starting in January too.


Meanwhile, I’ll still be posting about writing and reading and all the usual things…with a few extra features.  Thank you always for reading!