Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lyrics of the Week: Gravity

The first time I heard this song was on So You Think You Can Dance. The routine was amazing, and the song blew me away. It actually landed on a playlist for one of my books, it moved me so much!

Gravity - Sara Bareilles

Something always brings me back to you.
It never takes too long.
No matter what I say or do, I still feel you here 'till the moment I'm gone.

You hold me without touch.
You keep me without chains.
I never wanted anything so much than to drown in your love and not feel your reign.

Set me free, leave me be. I don't want to fall another moment into your gravity.
Here I am and I stand so tall, just the way I'm supposed to be.
But you're on to me and all over me.

You loved me 'cause I'm fragile.
When I thought that I was strong.
But you touch me for a little while and all my fragile strength is gone.

Set me free, leave me be. I don't want to fall another moment into your gravity.
Here I am and I stand so tall, just the way I'm supposed to be.
But you're on to me and all over me.

I live here on my knees as I
Try to make you see that you're
Everything I think I need here on the ground.
But you're neither friend nor foe though I
Can't seem to let you go.
The one thing that I still know is that you're keeping me down
You're keeping me down, yeah, yeah, yeah
You're onto me, onto me and all over

Something always brings me back to you
It never takes too long
Your pal,

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Who Did It Better? (the Carmen edition)

Brace yourselves, folks!

Well, it ain't Phantom, and it isn't even Andrew Lloyd Webber, in fact. It's Bizet, and one of my favorite arias of all time! (But I'll be honest, the first place I heard it was in The Aristocats...) I present to you, "Habanera!"

Maria Callas

First of all, isn't that amazing? Covent Garden in 1962? As for Maria, she is known as the definitive Carmen, but I'm still not so sure about her. Not to sound snarky, but I feel the same about her as I do about Sarah Brightman. I think she has a beautiful voice, but I don't always like what she does with it. Her diction is unclear at times and she occasionally has "Kermit-the-frog-itis," if that makes any sense. The music sounds trapped! It's not flying and soaring the way it ought to! I like the control of her high notes, but it feels like too much control for me. Again, I want to hear those babies fly!

Angela Gheorghiu

I have an mp3 of this performance, and I LOVE it! Such a full, rich voice, and a gorgeous rendition! Again, I just wish there was better diction here, as I would love to understand the lyrics...I always want to sing along when I hear Angela, and there's just the right kind of snap in her voice that drives home the character for me, yet enough ease of movement to make you understand why she's such a troublemaker. So sexy! Her refrains sell it for me. The precision of the softer, more restrained lines, and then the power immediately after. That's what I was missing from Maria Callas!

Anna Caterina Antonacci

How about a video from an actual performance this time? I think it gives a better idea of what Carmen is all about. Not the opera, but the free, untamed, and harsh. Which also sums up Anna Caterina's voice for me. Free and harsh. She makes it sound easiest of the three, which is how it should sound. And finally! Impeccable diction! What I'm not such a fan of in her voice is how grating it sounds at times. As for her expressions...well, operatic, to be sure!

So, there we have the three contenders, with pros and cons for each of them, and it's time to pick a winner. And I think I'll go with...

Angela Gheorghiu! What do you think?

Your pal,

Friday, September 27, 2013

Interview With Michelle Rodriguez

To promote her latest publication, Manifestations of a Phantom's Soul, Volume Two, I decided to have a little chat with Michelle Rodriguez. Feel free to eavesdrop!

Michelle Rodriguez, author of "Opera Macabre" and "The Opera Ghost Unraveled"

To get the awkward question out of the way, what would you say is your least favorite part of writing?

Endings!  For so many reasons.  There’s the difficulty in coming up with a satisfying and complete experience for the reader.  And then there’s the fact that you basically have to wrap up a few hundred page novel in a couple of paragraphs and let go.  Sometimes that final ending paragraph can take me hours.  And then it’s done, and at least for my original works, I always have a hard time letting the characters go and live their lives.  Enduring every trial with them, every heartache and triumph, they become friends and are real.  I was the one with my heroine when she cried her heart out for a lost love and the one watching that blissful moment when she found her hero all over again.  I imagine it similar to what a parent feels like when their children grow up and leave.  …Ask me in about 10 years, and I’ll let you know if that’s an applicable comparison! :)

You posted your first Phantom story online in 2010--I adore that one, by the way!--but you've been writing them even longer than that. What is the best part about writing Phantom stories? What makes you keep writing and sharing them?

Phantom was one of the first stories I felt a passionate connection to.  I was desperate for there to be more, and I still feel that way today.  That yearning for closure has never gone away, like it’s still an ellipsis that I can finish.  Maybe it’s because none of my fictionalized endings are the real ending and I’m still looking for a perfect fit.  And then there are the fans.  They continuously inspire me and push me to give them more.  They’re longing for that perfect ending as much as I am, and I love that I can eagerly take them on my creative journey with me.

The best part about writing Phantom stories for me is that they feel like home.  For every adventure I go on in between Phantom tales, whether it’s among vampires or demons, I can always go home to the Paris opera house and find my friends.  They are the versions of the characters I’ve created in my head, and every time I need them, I can find them and breathe life into them again.  There are no other characters I’ve written who I can return to; once their stories are over, I have to let them go.  But Erik and Christine are characters I’ve been able to hold and keep.  That’s pretty amazing!  I never have to grieve giving them up.

I'm always blown away at the emotion of your work, and the roller coaster rides you take your readers on. As exhilarating and exhausting as it can be to read, it's got to be even more so to write! How do you put so much feeling into your writing?

You’d think writing my stories would make me an emotional basketcase, but for me, it actually is a stress reliever!  Yes, there have been many times where writing a particularly aggressive or depressing scene has left me lashing out irrationally at my husband and in a stellar mood all day, but if I can go back and reread it and feel all of those things again, then it’s worth it.  The “how” part of the question doesn’t really have a definite answer.  I just write.  And whatever comes out often surprises even me.

It happens to the best of us on occasion; how do you cope with writer's block?

For each of my novels, I have a playlist of songs that either inspired the story or go with the mood of it.  Music, to me, is my greatest source of creativity.  So when those moments come, and of course they always must, I put my headphones on, hit play, and let my mind wander.  I immerse myself in the very things that brought me the story to begin with and try to find its spark again.  I also make it a point not to take a break from writing even if the words are stuttered and having a hard time finding my pencil.  I may write only a paragraph or two that particular day, but it keeps the characters in suspension in my mind instead of letting them go.  I feel like if I step too far away, I’ll lose the feeling of the piece as a whole.

The writing process doesn't end with the first do you know when a story is ready to be posted online or published?

First of all, as many of you know, I’m a stickler for doing my first drafts by hand.  Pencil and notebook all the way!  I adore a good pencil and maybe it’s because of the implication that it’s never final.  My first edit comes as I painstakingly type every word onto the computer.  It’s a tedious job, but I pick out things that seem awkward when I’m typing and make changes.  Then once every word is typed, I take a break from the story for a few days or weeks before I do another round of edits.  Sometimes that’s the last one before posting.  If it feels good, I let it go as is.  I don’t like to change more than sentence structures or words because I feel like it breaks the flow of the language, and to me, that’s as important as the story itself.

For publishing, I turn into a crazy person!  I start to nitpick because I feel like it’s my last chance.  Again, I’m doing little more than changing sentence structures, but my inner perfectionist takes control.  I literally cannot read a single book I’ve published!  I’m too afraid I’ll find things that could have made it better.  Crazy, I know.

I think you do some pretty amazing things with your stories, from the words you use to the myriad twists you've put to the original Phantom story. What would you say sets you apart from other Phantom writers? Don't be afraid to toot your own horn!

I was going to say my inability to “toot my own horn”, LOL!  I actually think that keeps me striving to exceed my own limits.

I don’t restrict my writing or the crazy workings of my imagination.  Between my pencil and paper, I never doubt and am the most self-confident person in the world, and yet the instant the last letter is printed and it’s just me again, I become the absolute opposite.  I think that’s a testament to how much of myself is in every word I write.  I pour my heart and soul through my characters and never put bars in between.  Because of that, it’s always an obstacle when it comes to posting and putting my stories out there for the world to share.  I have to keep reminding myself why I do it: that I’m not looking for judgment, just to give others something I have such passion in.  I crave that happy ending for Erik as much as every one of my phans, but I want it to feel real and earned.

To other writers looking to take on Erik's story, what do you think is the most important thing to keep in mind when writing about the Phantom? He's one of the most beloved characters of literature, after all.

I think people have to remember that he’s not the hero.  He can grow into being the hero, but he doesn’t start out that way.  I know people like to romanticize the character and give him a fairytale story, but I like the reality in him: the darker parts, the sins on his soul.  As a character, he’s a writer’s dream because he needs redemption.  I love giving him a passion to be redeemed for his transgressions through love.  Love is the ultimate gift and something he’s always been denied.  It’s something that can turn any villain into a hero and transform.

There are twelve stories in
Manifestations of a Phantom's Soul, Volume Two, including a few never posted online. If you had to pick just one, which one is your favorite?

That’s like asking me to choose which of my children I love most, LOL!  But if you’re going to twist my arm, I will say that I have a special love for “A Twist in my Story”.  I feel it has been the most overlooked of all my posted stories, and it’s one I’m the most proud of.  People don’t like an angry Christine, especially in a story where Erik is doing everything he can to win her affections.  She hates herself for caring about him as much as she hates him for what he is.  I think that story is very real even if cruel at times.

I also love “Let It Bleed”.  Every level of Erik is in that story: dark, angry, passionate, tender, sorry.  I’ve always wanted to expand it into something longer (future project?)

Which one was the most difficult to write?

Most people would expect me to say “Captivated” just because of the subject matter, but actually, that one always made sense in my mind.  I knew where it was going and how it would get there.  The hardest one for me to write was definitely “Forget Me Not”.  Most of you know I am a hopeless romantic, and I want happy endings.  But no matter how I tried to interpret that story, it could not have a happy ending.  I obsessed over finding one.  That was one of the few stories I did take a break from and leave unfinished for awhile because I didn’t want to end it the way I inevitably did.  But there was no other path that made sense.  Any other would have taken something away from the power of that story and ripped the symbolism apart.  It had to be tragic, and writing it was like torture to me!  Do you ever wonder why I don’t write death scenes?  LOL!  “Forget Me Not” was close enough to that in my book!

You've been writing about the Phantom for years now, and I don't think anyone who reads your work denies the love you have for the story. How has writing Erik and Christine changed you? Not necessarily just as a writer, but on the whole?

I had to really think about this question for awhile because it hit me a bit deeper than expected.  Writing Erik taught me how to deal with my son.  It’s amazing the life lessons you get from the most obscure places.  My son is 7 years old, and he is autistic.  When he was younger (and still now to a lesser degree), he had these awful tantrums that would go on for hours at a time.  He’d be so consumed that he wouldn’t even realize what was going on around him.  He’d shake so hard, and I often had to stop him from banging his head against any solid surface.  I’ve said how alike my son is to Erik.  He’s a genius who runs on passion; he needs to feel like he is in complete control of his world; he has a deficiency that sets him apart from others constantly.  Writing Erik often put me in Christine’s shoes, dealing with his temper and his genius, and I had to learn from her perspective how to have patience and tolerance and love through the hardest and most difficult situations.

Your newest Phantom story, "Rib-caged Hearts," is in progress online and you have the third book of the Angel and Demon Chronicles coming out later this fall. Any hints what your next project might be?

Oh gosh!  I wish I could say ‘catch up on some sleep’, but that’s not even an option, LOL!  I would like to publish one of my other Phantom novels this winter and then another of my vampire novels in the spring.  I’m also considering doing a third volume of “Manifestations of a Phantom’s Soul” next summer or fall.  Maybe it should be a yearly thing, LOL!

I also have plans to return to writing a new vampire novel and a long, DARK Phantom story, for those who love the darker ones.

On top of that, I will be performing in another opera production and 2 solo vocal recitals this spring.  And by then the baby should be walking!  As if things couldn’t be crazy enough!


To read "Rib-caged Hearts," go to:

To visit Michelle's website, click here:

And don't forget her Facebook page!

Michelle's published works are available on, and to read my reviews, visit "The Bookshelf" page of this blog. Manifestations of a Phantom's Soul, Volume Two is now available for purchase. Be sure to get a copy! It's a must-read for any phan!

Your pal,

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review: Wake Unto Me - Lisa Cach

A haunted castle, a handsome young man dead for four hundred years, one heck of a scary portrait of a witch, and a treasure hunt -- not to mention a princess for a roommate! -- all await 15 year old American girl Caitlyn Monahan when she earns a scholarship to a French boarding school.

There are secrets behind the stone walls of Chateau de la Fortune, buried for centuries along with the mystery of who killed Raphael, the charming ghost who visits Caitlyn at night. But as Caitlyn unearths the history of the castle, nothing scares her as badly as the secret she learns about herself, and the reason she was chosen to come to the Fortune School.

And nothing breaks her heart as badly as falling in love with a dead guy.

Nice cover, right?


 I think it took me so long to review this because I felt so ambivalent about it. I wanted to like it, but...well...

Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad book. In fact, it was pretty good (I don't regret spending money on it, at least). But it grossly misrepresented itself. I thought I was reading a love story with a ghost, and what I got was a weird, paranormal mystery with plots and subplots and anti-plots and un-plots and re-plots and a lot of "What the flaming ostriches is going on here?"

Lisa Cach can write, or I would never have made it through this. But her descriptions tend to wander off without adult supervision and I had to skim several paragraphs about the historical details and layout of Chateau de la Fortune. There are a TON of secondary characters that probably should have either gotten bigger roles in the action or been dispensed with. The greater part of the book was so intricately laid out that the ending felt too easy and fell flat. This either should have been longer, or had a sequel to go along with it.

And that's pretty much it. I really don't have a lot to say about this one. Again, it wasn't bad, but it just didn't do much for me.

Your humble book nerd,

Kitten VS. Robot Dog and Adult Cat

This is just cats being cats...or should I say kittens being kittens? And who doesn't love kittens? Honestly?

Your pal,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

TV Spot Wednesday

Here's another one of our favorites.

Am I the only one who feels like I'm just throwing this stuff out for the heck of it?

DISH Network iPad and Hopper

Your pal,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lyrics of the Week: September

Heck, why not? It's a beautiful song, and it's the perfect time of year for it! Beautiful, but bittersweet...I spent the autumn it came out writing increasingly depressing poetry in the basement, listening to it over and over again on the radio. It's odd, but I wouldn't mind going back to that autumn. Parts of it sucked, but others...well, they turned into cherished memories, and that's explanation enough. I started to figure out who I am in that basement listening to this song!

September - Daughtry

 How the time passed away? All the trouble that we gave
And all those days we spent out by the lake
Has it all gone to waste? All the promises we made
One by one they vanish just the same

Of all the things I still remember
Summer's never looked the same
The years go by and time just seems to fly
But the memories remain

In the middle of September we'd still play out in the rain
Nothing to lose but everything to gain
Reflecting now on how things could've been
It was worth it in the end

Now it all seems so clear, there's nothing left to fear
So we made our way by finding what was real
Now the days are so long that summer's moving on
We reach for something that's already gone

Of all the things I still remember
Summer's never looked the same
The years go by and time just seems to fly
But the memories remain

In the middle of September we'd still play out in the rain
Nothing to lose but everything to gain
Reflecting now on how things could've been
It was worth it in the end

We knew we had to leave this town
But we never knew when and we never knew how
We would end up here the way we are
Yeah we knew we had to leave this town
But we never knew when and we never knew how

Of all the things I still remember
Summer's never looked the same
The years go by and time just seems to fly
But the memories remain

In the middle of September we'd still play out in the rain
Nothing to lose but everything to gain
Reflecting now on how things could've been
It was worth it in the end

Your pal,

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Book Stats! So Far...

Why not a little something about writing today? It's been awhile! And it seems appropriate, considering that today is Stephen King's birthday! (Just thought I'd throw that one out there...) I was just thinking about numbers a few days ago, and this is how things stand so far in my time as a still-unpublished writer. It's amazing what little details you remember about every project!

- I've written four books in the past three years. That's about one book every sixteen months! The average time for finishing a novel is about six to eight months, but I'd say my current average isn't that bad considering I get about two and a half hours of writing time a day, and that's on a GOOD day.

- My first book was written in one year exactly, starting on Halloween and ending on the very next Halloween. It was about 303 pages long from start to finish, with twelve chapters plus one epilogue. There was a move during that time, so my memories are of writing the first chapter sitting on the washing machine in the utility room of one house looking out onto the backyard and writing the last chapter sitting at the foot of my bed in another house looking out onto a different backyard. The fall season had a huge influence on this one (the action takes place between August and October), and even now autumn makes me want to get back to that story and those characters.  Unfortunately, I can't count this as a finished product because it needs drastic revision. Surprise! It's the Gargantuan Novel Re-Write! I'll get it right one of these days, I swear I will!

- Second book, written in eighteen months and finished on my sister's twentieth birthday. She started reading this one as I wrote it, then I took it over to finish it and wouldn't let her have it until I was done. In that time, she got sidetracked from it and STILL hasn't finished reading it! This one was 350 pages long and called for extensive research on medieval methods of smithing. I hit the 100-page mark about six months into it, the second Christmas after I started it. This was the first thing I ever stayed up late to write, and that's a practice I haven't let go of. It's also the first time I tried writing in first person and actually stuck to it, though I alternated the perspectives between chapters. I first got into Phantom of the Opera in the process of writing this one, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't have a tiny bit of influence on it.

- My third book was written in a whopping eight months! To the day! Started February 7 (after a false start on chapter one) and ended October 7, at seven-fifteen in the morning! The hand-written draft ended up being 403 pages long, and I reached 100 pages three months into the project, cutting the old record in half! I used third person limited perspective in this one (and I'm only just returning to that POV) to give myself a challenge, and while I started using music as a point of inspiration during my second book, it was only while writing this one that I adopted the idea of playlists to keep the inspiration going. I stayed up late writing this one as well, and got through writer's block by the use of lucid dreaming. At this point in my writing, I was searching for tips anywhere I could find them and I came across the idea of character interviews to flesh out the people in the story, so I spent a solid two weeks getting to know the people I was going to be spending the next few months with. And guess what? Those three characters are still rattling around in my head! *wink wink*

- The fourth book was started in July about halfway through the third book, and I have no stats for this one. I typed it as I wrote it and I didn't track the progress. It's definitely my best writing, especially since I spent this summer on a second draft (ending with a page count of 337), and without a doubt my favorite project so far!

- The fifth book...ouch. It was finished in six months, but it's only 102 pages long--if that even counts as a about novella? And it took every last bit of those six months to write those one hundred pages! That was the absolute WORST time I've ever had writing, and if I didn't have fantastic support from my audience and a beyond-excellent beta reader, I wouldn't have finished it! The usual blood, sweat and tears went into writing it, along with anxiety, depression, insomnia, stubbornness, anger, misery, and a few manic episodes when I broke down into hysterical laughter before falling down in exhaustion. I'm *cough* told that it's my masterpiece...

I'm working on my sixth book now, which is a return to third person perspective and my first foray into a modern setting. I won't say any more, but I've only been working on it for a month now, and I'm over seventy pages into the first draft! Do I smell a new record in the air?

Your pal,

Friday, September 20, 2013

The First Choice

Heck, why not post one of my own stories over here? It's my blog! And I'm still proud of how this one turned out! :)

The First Choice
a Phantom of the Opera story by Angels-Protégée 

Erik watched her from the shadowy catwalks above the stage, hearing the music pour forth from her crystal throat. He'd been watching her for weeks, months even. He couldn't help himself. She was everything he was looking for. After years of composing beneath the Opera, he'd decided the time had come to present his music to the world. He was a brilliant composer, easily the greatest composer on earth. He just needed a brilliant artist, a truly splendid singer…and there she was onstage.

Carlotta Giudicelli.

She'd been the prima donna for two seasons now and had already made a name for herself. She was world-renowned, this fearless Italian diva, and she commanded the audience's attention the moment she stepped onto the stage. She had talent, appeal, and an august personality. She was, in short, the perfect voice for Erik's music.

Which isn't to say she's perfect, plain and simple, he reflected. Her acting skills were rather shabby and, while she had terrific range, she lacked clarity, tone, and control in her highest notes. Most importantly, she had no soul, no spark to her to speak of. The ability to throw a world-class tantrum does not a diva make. But this didn't worry Erik. These were mere trifles that could be corrected with time and instruction. The potential was there, and that's what mattered.

But how to meet that potential and harvest its fruits? It was rather a nuisance, but that blasted deformity he was born with made any face-to-face encounter a tad unpleasant. He supposed he could always wear his mask when dealing with La Carlotta, but people seemed to find it menacing, for some reason…

Well, he'd cross that bridge when it arrived. First, he would have to approach Signora Giudicelli with his proposition: join forces with him, and they would make history. Women like Carlotta fed off praise and admiration and didn't take kindly to impudent proposals, however lucrative. He would have to tread carefully if he wanted to win Carlotta's favor.

He returned to his lair beneath the Opera, already planning how to woo her.


It wasn't the bouquet of roses in her dressing room that surprised Carlotta the next day, though they were lovely enough. It was the card that came with them that caught her attention. "With admiration and the greatest respects. E."

Carlotta read the card once more, studying the odd, labored handwriting and the expensive paper. She was used to her adoring public sending her flowers by now; indeed, she was quite used to much larger arrangements in such abundance her dressing room often resembled the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. But those flowers all had notes of gushing affection and lavish worship. This note was simple and terse. Six words, one initial, end of story. It was not at all what she was used to.

She set the card aside with a sniff and a toss of her head that nearly set the dainty hat perched upon her flaming tresses toppling. She didn't have time for such things. Rehearsal was due to start soon, and she planned to remind that pinhead Reyer exactly why she was the Opera Garnier's star soprano.


From his usual place in the shadows, Erik studied Carlotta as she performed her final aria of the day, finishing with an ambitious but unmoving cadenza. She must have gotten the roses…he'd set them on her dressing table himself, for Gounod's sake! Why did she look so detached and uninterested?

Maybe I should have chosen some other flowers, he decided. Something more impressive…and maybe with a little more flattery in the card…

He drummed his fingers thoughtfully, calculating his next move.


The next morning, there was an enormous vase full of lilies waiting for Carlotta when she arrived at the Opera. These too were accompanied by a note, again in that strange handwriting. "As enchanted as I am by your beauty, I am doubly bewitched by your talent. E."

Well, that was more like it! This E person was getting better at his game!

There was a knock on the dressing room door and Carlotta beckoned, "Enter."

The door swung open and her seamstress came in, carrying Carlotta's newest costume over her arm. "It's time for your fitting, signora," she said.

"Very well," Carlotta replied. "Come on, then, hurry up. I haven't got all day."

The seamstress helped her into the beaded, bejeweled gown and fussed about at her feet, adjusting the hem and checking that the train draped just so. She then examined the bodice, tutting softly at the straining seams. "I don't understand," she said. "This was made according to your measurements, signora, and I'm afraid I'll have to let it out after all."

"After all?" The seamstress gave a start at the snap in the lady's voice. "What do you mean, after all?"

"Nothing, signora," came the reply. "Only that—well, you're not quite so slender as in the past—which isn't to say that you're not still slender—"

"Are you calling me fat?"

"Not at all! I was merely stating—"

She never finished the sentence. With many indignant exclamations in her native tongue, Carlotta divested herself of the costume once again, dressed, and stormed from the room. How dare an ordinary seamstress insult her! She was Carlotta Giudicelli, star of the Paris Opera! She had brought the audience to its knees at La Scala and they had worshiped the ground she stood on at Covent Garden! She was treated with respect and admiration the world over, but not here in Paris.

She let out a final snort of contempt. French…


Erik gave a huff of annoyance as he watched Signora Giudicelli stomp about the stage, holding cast and crew hostage to her temper. How was he supposed to make his proposal to her if she were always in the midst of a tantrum? Had the lilies gone unappreciated as well?

He saw her launch a tirade against her seamstress. Ah, so she'd been made aware she was no longer the willowy goddess of two seasons ago. He shook his head. Carlotta was never such a shrew as when her pride had been wounded.

Now it was necessary to smooth those ruffled feathers with an even bigger gesture to capture her attention. French women had never struck him as low-maintenance creatures, but this fiery diva was of another caliber altogether.

He sighed heavily. Italians…


"What in the name of the pope is going on here?" Carlotta demanded later that week. A crowd had gathered in the corridor outside her dressing room, jostling each other to get a glimpse inside. She forced her way through and paused on the threshold.

Orchids. The entire room was filled with orchids. White, pink, yellow, purple, all heaped in baskets and spilling out of vases.

Well, she was accustomed to getting flowers from her devotees, but this had never happened before. Surely they couldn't all be from the same person.

She scoured the dressing room looking in every bouquet for a card, a note, something! Finally, in the vase nearest the vanity, she found one—just one.

You are a rare jewel, signora, and the crown of the Opera. I wait with breathless anticipation for you to grace the stage once again.

Fondest wishes,


Carlotta furrowed her brow. He was sparing with words, this E, but there was an elegance to them nonetheless. He must have very fine taste to appreciate genius when he heard it, though the orchids were rather overdone.

But a new thought occurred to her as she gazed around at the flowers. One would have to think very highly of a lady to send her so many at once, and orchids were so expensive! Who would go to such trouble and such cost for just anyone? Even for the "crown of the Opera?"

A possibility presented itself to Carlotta, a splendid, fantastical possibility. She had a secret admirer!


The orchid scheme had done the trick, so far as Erik could tell. When Carlotta appeared for rehearsal that day, she was smiling like a contented house cat. There was a certain sauciness in her manner that was a little grating, but she was civil, even pleasant. Maybe he'd finally started to make some headway.

Just in the nick of time, too—he had to do something about those high notes.


Gifts and trinkets continued to appear in Carlotta's dressing room over the next several weeks, always dazzling in nature and accompanied by notes of increasing warmth. She was flattered by the attention and intrigued by the mystery. Who was this E who held her in such regard? Not that it wasn't perfectly natural for her to be admired, but she'd been met with less admiration than was her due in Paris. No one placed any value on the labor and devotion she put into her career. It was a relief to run across a Frenchman who esteemed her so.

Elsewhere in the theater, Erik was totaling up how much this investment had already cost him. He wasn't prone to being charitable, but he'd spent the better part of a month heaping expensive gifts upon the Italian diva and he'd never been so glad to receive his salary from the management. It had seemed to please her, and hopefully by this time she'd come to see that this mysterious benefactor had immense resources at his disposal. When the time came for them to go into partnership, the recollection of his wealth would be sure to guide her worldly hand.

He'd spent time enough softening her up. The company's new production of The Magic Flute was to open that night, with La Carlotta cast as the Queen of the Night. If the premiere was a success, she would be in a good mood indeed. Good enough, perhaps, to be easily won over.

It was settled. After the show, he would meet Carlotta face-to—well, not exactly face-to-face, but the closest he could get to it, at any rate.

He removed the mask he wore and studied it critically. In hindsight, he thought, maybe I shouldn't have made it so threatening.


Carlotta made her way back to her dressing room after the performance, basking in her latest triumph. Her public had adored her, as well they ought to. It was about time they acknowledged the hard work and dedication she poured into her art!

But wait, someone already had acknowledged it…her secret admirer, E. She wondered what new surprise he'd planned for her.

She brushed off everyone in the corridors and arrived outside her dressing room. There was a flutter of anticipation in her belly as she opened the door—

An exclamation of shock burst from her as she saw the man standing before the mirror. He wore a long black cape and an immaculate suit, and covering half of his face was a white mask.

"Who do you think you are?" she demanded. "What are you doing here? I demand that you leave this instant!"

"Please calm yourself, signora," he said, using the most entrancing, beautiful voice she'd ever heard. "Pardon my intrusion; I merely wanted to congratulate you on your performance tonight."

Carlotta raised her eyebrows but her tone was pleased. "Thank you very much, monsieur. Might I have the pleasure of your name?"

"You know me," the man replied, "as E."

A smile spread across her face. Her man of mystery in the flesh! She gave her very best curtsy and said, "I'm delighted to meet you at last, monsieur."

"The pleasure is all mine, signora," Erik assured her with his very best bow. He hoped she didn't plan on exchanging niceties all night. He wasn't good at this at all!

Carlotta batted her eyelashes coyly. "Is that all that brings you here, monsieur?" she asked. "You just wanted to congratulate me?"

"Not at all, signora. This is rather awkward for me to say, but I've been watching you for some time now, and I believe you're exactly what I need."

Imagine the surprise and amazement of Signora Giudicelli when she heard these words! She'd suspected the mysterious E admired her, but this was quite unexpected!

"Your voice, signora, is one of a kind, and your talent is undeniable. You have captured my attention in the most exquisite way."

Well, how enchanting indeed! Carlotta held her head a bit higher and asked, "In what way?"

Erik bowed his head to her and said, "I have a proposal to make you, signora."

If someone had thrown a pail of water in her face, Carlotta couldn't have been more dumbstruck. Proposal?

"If we are allied together," Erik went on, "we will go far. There could be no limit to what we could accomplish."

Allied together? Surely he couldn't mean—that they get married?

"If you will enter into partnership with me, signora," he said, "I can assure you—"

"Stop," Carlotta interrupted. Poor man…he was so smitten with her, but she was devoted to her career. She felt so sorry for him, but she would have to break his heart. "I think I see where this is going."

Erik paused, feeling wrong-footed and not caring for it at all. "You do?"

"I do, monsieur." She adopted her tragic heroine guise—which, admittedly, wasn't much different from any of her other guises and was still just plain Carlotta Giudicelli. "I'm deeply sorry, but I'm afraid I must decline your proposal."

"Why?" Erik asked. He'd been so sure she'd say yes!

"I'm committed to my art," she replied. "Perhaps if you were to come at any other time, I might…but I'm focusing on my career at the moment."

"Exactly," Erik agreed, trying to regain the flow of the conversation. "I'm here about your career."

Carlotta froze in place. "You are?"

"Of course. Why did you think I was here?"

An embarrassed flush crept into the diva's cheeks but she answered with as much dignity as she could muster. "I thought you were proposing marriage, monsieur."

For a moment Erik stood stock-still, blindsided by a revelation he most definitely hadn't seen coming. Then, very slowly, his face split into a grin and he began to laugh. He chuckled, then he cackled, throwing back his head in a fit of mirth that positively rankled La Carlotta. She drew herself up haughtily and demanded, "Does something amuse you, monsieur?"

Erik hardly had the breath to reply, but he managed to wheeze, "I'm afraid—you've misunderstood—my intentions—my dear signora."

"Clearly. And what are your intentions, may I ask?"

Still choking with laughter, he struggled to pull himself together and said, "I'm a composer, signora, and I need to give my music a voice. Not just any voice, but a spectacular voice. If you sing my music, we will both be famed beyond your wildest dreams."

She sniffed fussily. "I'm already famous."

"And yet you still go unsung in France! They don't recognize what a treasure you are! Work with me, and I promise you the entire world will eat from the palm of your hand."

Her annoyance at being made a fool of began to fade as Carlotta considered the proposal. This E was already very wealthy; he must be a very successful composer…but still, he needed her. Her, Signora Carlotta Giudicelli! And according to him, she needed him as well to get the acclaim she deserved…

She'd heard of things like this—shady businessmen duping singers into sham deal and making fortunes off the talent of others. She smelled something strange about this offer. "What's the catch?"

"There's no catch," Erik replied. "I would merely give you singing lessons and then you would—"

He barely had time to duck as she threw a vase of carnations at his head. It smashed against the mirror, cracking the glass so the reflections within looked fragmented and the flowers flew everywhere. What did I say? he quizzed wildly as she began to rant and scream in Italian. "Signora, please," he reasoned, "what's the matter?"

"Singing lessons!" she shrieked. "Singing lessons! How dare you! How dare you suggest that I, I, La Carlotta, receive singing lessons!"

"Please be reasonable, you need proper instruction, you must have more soul before you can be a truly great artist—"

She drowned out the rest of his speech with another wail of fury, advancing on him like a mastiff. This isn't how I'd planned this!

Carlotta seized a heavy hairbrush from the vanity—more ammunition. Before she had time to launch her missile, however, Erik vanished, leaving only the cracked mirror and shattered vase as evidence he'd been there at all.

She threw the brush down, still huffing in a rage. Singing lessons! The nerve! The impudence! She'd never been so insulted in her life!



Erik watched from his usual place above the stage, gazing down at the rehearsal. It had been several weeks since the scene in Carlotta's dressing room, and he hadn't attempted to communicate with her again. That ungrateful harridan!

Just look at her down there, he groused, sounding like a banshee with laryngitis…How could he ever have thought she was a gifted singer? She was horrendous!

He needed a new voice, a new singer, someone who was the exact opposite of La Carlotta…Carlotta was loud and demanding, so he wanted someone soft-spoken and demure…Carlotta loved to be the center of attention, so he wanted someone from outside the spotlight…Carlotta had the waistline of a mature tree, so he wanted a mere slip of a thing…Carlotta was Italian, and he certainly wouldn't make that mistake again…

He scanned the stage as if willing this new talent to spontaneously appear. Not another redhead, that would never do. A blonde, perhaps? No, he preferred brunettes after all. And maybe it would be best if she wasn't a singer to start with…

His eyes fell on one of the chorus girls. She was slender and easily spotted with those thick, dark curls. Wait a minute, he knew her; he'd often heard her singing to herself backstage when no one was listening. She had an uncommon voice, to be sure—but what was her name? Colette? Corrine?

"Christine!" the ballet mistress barked out. "You're drifting out of the line again!"

Christine, that was it! Erik studied her appraisingly for several long minutes, then nodded to himself. She'll do.


You know, this thing gets more hits on deviantART than on! I wonder why...

Your pal,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

TV Spot Wednesday

Why not try another weekly? This one doesn't require a lot of time or brain cells, so it should be fairly easy. Pick a funny commercial, post it, share the giggles! But why on Wednesday, you ask? Well...

Geico - Camel on Wednesday

Because it's HUMP DAAAYYY!

Your pal,

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Who Did It Better? (Les Miserables edition)

Here we go with the OTHER most popular musical of all time (and who knows? I might even get my review of the movie posted sometime this century!). Marius was definitely not my favorite character when I read the book, as he so often seemed like a lovesick child, but I respected his choice to throw aside his whole world for a cause he believed in. If I had to put words to it, I liked what he did without liking him. In the musical, however, that was different. Very much so. So this one is all about Marius and his solo, "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables." Also known as my typical dinner shift at work!

Michael Ball

Aside from Michael Ball being a terrific singer...can't you feel his pain? "The very words that they had sung became their last communion..." Shivers! "Oh my friends, my friends, don't ask me..." It's heartbreaking--or at least, it's breaking my heart. Feel free to make your own assessments. You don't need to watch to feel the emotion; just close your eyes and listen. If you can't feel it, check your pulse because you might be dead.

Hadley Fraser

Well, duh! Listen to that! Listen to it! WHY does this man have to be so amazing?  He went from Marius on West End to Grantaire in the 25th anniversary concert to Javert back on West End (and don't get me started on his Javert) and I'm not sure there's anything he CAN'T do with his voice. I would love to see him play the Phantom!

Eddie Redmayne

This was one of my favorite scenes of the whole movie, and it was one of them that made me cry the first time I watched it. And the second...and the third...I mean it, I just lost it. If the actors in the movie weren't quite up to par from a technical standpoint (and it doesn't even seem fair to say that about Eddie, as he had one of the best voices of the cast), then they made up for it in raw emotion. I always say I prefer actors who sing, rather than singers who act, and this is why. If Michael broke my heart and Hadley blew my mind, then Eddie just destroyed me. I repeat: destroyed me.

No winners this time, as they are all amazing. So how about a three-way tie?

Your pal,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lyrics of the Week: Love Song For a Vampire

Another one from a movie! (Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, utter nonsense if you ask me) These are some of my favorite lyrics, period, and a constant source of inspiration.

Love Song For a Vampire - Annie Lennox

 Come into these arms again
And lay your body down
The rhythm of this trembling heart
Is beating like a drum

It beats for you - It bleeds for you
It knows not how it sounds
For it is the drum of drums
It is the song of songs...

Once I had the rarest rose
That ever deigned to bloom.
Cruel winter chilled the bud
And stole my flower too soon.

Oh loneliness - oh hopelessness
To search the ends of time
For there is in all the world
No greater love than mine.

Love, oh love, oh love...
Still falls the rain... (still falls the rain)
Love, oh love, oh, love...
Still falls the night...
Love, oh love, oh love...
Be mine forever.... (be mine forever)
Love, oh love, oh love....

Let me be the only one
To keep you from the cold
Now the floor of heaven's lain
With stars of brightest gold

They shine for you - they shine for you
They burn for all to see
Come into these arms again
And set this spirit free

Your pal,

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Who Did It Better? (Love Never Dies edition, Part Two)

Oh ho, bet you didn't think I'd be back with this one, did you? You couldn't really expect me to skip a solo! Here we go with "Til I Hear You Sing!"

Ramin Karimloo (original London production)

OK, Ramin lovers, here's where I rain on your parade a tiddly bit. I'm not such a fan of his voice when he guns it on those big notes. Not sure why. I just prefer when he sings softer and gentler. Then, THEN...*le sigh* Give me that stuff in my ears, and I'll turn to butter. But I'll admit, he knocked that last note flat on its backside!

Ben Lewis (revised Melbourne production) we have the exact opposite. I love the power and control in Ben's big notes, but the mellow ones do nothing for me. There's something that feels pretty dang Phantom-y in the dark, dangerous opening (but I can't quite take him seriously when he turns on the ooh-I'm-scary) and I straight up got goosebumps when he got to "Let hopes pass, let dreams pass." I'm still not sold on LND, but it has its moments, and that one is one of them.

I call this one a draw. Ramin's got the crooning down to an art, and Ben blew the roof off the place. If only there was a singer who nailed both...if only...

No, wait! I got it!

John Owen-Jones

Ben, Ramin, I got some bad news, boys. You just. Got. Served.

Your pal,

Friday, September 13, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Trailer: Of Light and Darkness - Shayne Leighton

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to find videos attached to books on GoodReads. Which is how I found this.

Of Light and Darkness

Your pal,

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lyrics of the Week: Storybook Love

Here we are! Fans of The Princess Bride will recognize this one!

Storybook Love - Willy DeVille

 Come my love, I'll tell you a tale
Of a boy and girl, and their love story,
And how he loved her oh, so much,
And all the charms she did possess.
My love is like a storybook story.
But it's as real as the feelings I feel.
My love is like a storybook story.
But it's as real as the feelings I feel;
It's as real as the feelings I feel.
Now this did happen once upon a time
When things were not so complex,
And how he worshipped the ground she walked.
When he looked in her eyes, he became obsessed.
This love was stronger than the powers so dark,
A prince could have within his keeping;
His spells to weave and steal a heart
Within her breast, but only sleeping.
He said, "Don't you know I love you oh, so much,
And lay my heart at the foot of your dress?"
She said, "Don't you know that storybook loves
Always have a happy ending?"
Then he swooped her up, just like in the books,
And on his stallion they rode away.

Your pal,

Friday, September 6, 2013

Immortal Aria

Remember my mentioning a little Phantom retelling called Chanson de l'Ange a while back? Remember my mentioning there is a soundtrack in production featuring original music to go along with it? That's where Immortal Aria comes in! Bonnie Anne Pinard and Nathan Allen Pinard teamed up to officially form the group, and here I am to bring it to your attention. Besides, it's Phantom Friday!

You can find the official website here:

The Facebook page here:

And the Twitter page here:

In the meantime, I leave you with videos and beautiful music!

The Bleeding Rose

Waltz With Death

Orphan In Winter


Your pal,

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Well, Shoot...

Bad news, peeps. I've lost my blogging mojo. Don't get me wrong, if I have something I want to post it will find its way over here, but what with one thing and another it's gotten to be a chore trying to get something up every day. So the new policy is to post whenever I feel like it, whenever I have something to talk about, and under any of the following:

  • new review (book or movie)
  • regular feature (lyrics of the week, artist of the month)
  • Phantom Friday (duh!)
There you have it!

Your pal,

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The odds are not in my favor. I'll probably have to wait until the movie goes to DVD before I can see it, enduring everyone's rants and raves about it the whole time, but for now we ALL have to wait before it hits the big screen in the first place. Is anyone else as excited as I am?

 Catching Fire trailers

Mark your calendars for November 22, and tell me how the movie was!

Your pal,

Monday, September 2, 2013

Harry Potter, Children's Books? I Think Not!

I read this post on Tumblr, and now you can never ever EVER tell me that the Harry Potter series is simply "children's literature" ever again. EVER.


The themes in each Harry Potter book. This might one of the greatest pins of all time.

Your pal,

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Lyrics of the Week: Carnival of Rust

Already got the artist of the month up, but this was supposed to be a weekly feature, remember?

Carnival of Rust - Poets of the Fall

D' you breathe the name of your saviour in your hour of need,
And taste the blame if the flavor should remind you of greed?
Of implication, insinuation and ill will, 'til you cannot lie still,
In all this turmoil, before red cape and foil come closing in for a kill

Come feed the rain
'cause I'm thirsty for your love dancing underneath the skies of lust
Yeah, feed the rain
'cause without your love my life ain't nothing but this carnival of rust

It's all a game, avoiding failure, when true colors will bleed
All in the name of misbehavior and the things we don't need
I lust for after no disaster can touch, touch us anymore
And more than ever, I hope to never fall, where enough is not the same it was before

Come feed the rain...
'cause I'm thirsty for your love dancing underneath the skies of lust
Yeah, feed the rain
'cause without your love my life ain't nothing but this carnival of rust
Yeah, feed the rain
'cause I'm thirsty for your love dancing underneath the skies of lust
Yeah, feed the rain
'cause without your love my life ain't nothing but this carnival of rust

Don't walk away, don't walk away, oh, when the world is burning
Don't walk away, don't walk away, oh, when the heart is yearning
Don't walk away, don't walk away, oh, when the world is burning
Don't walk away, don't walk away, oh, when the heart is yearning

Your pal,

Artist of the Month - September 2013

I've been letting this slide for a loooooong time, but I promise I'm going to try to get back to regular posts, with a better structure than just randomly deciding what to ramble about from day to day. So, the first artist of the new era of A-P's Eclectic Nonsense is...

*drum roll*

George Strait

Mom RAISED us on George! We watched Pure Country so many times I STILL have the entire movie memorized! CDs, concerts, cassettes, T-shirts, if it was about King George, we had it! I swear on my mother's eyes, the day he retires will be a sad day at our house.

Oh man, how in the name of all things holy am I going to keep this post short?!

I Cross My Heart

All My Exes Live in Texas

Baby's Gotten Good At Goodbye


Ocean Front Property


Easy Come Easy Go

Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?

As much as it hurts to stop (and believe me, it HURTS!), stop I must.

Happy listening!