Launch Day: The Guardian of the Opera – Nocturne

It’s here!  The newest book from our SCW author Cheryl Mahoney is launching today – The Guardian of the Opera: Nocturne is now available for purchase.

Select your format of choice:

Ebook ($6.99)

Paperback ($13.99)

Hardback ($35.99)*

 

And in case you’ve missed the earlier posts about this book, here’s a bit about the story:

Set against the backdrop of 1880s Paris and the stunning Opera Garnier, The Guardian of the Opera: Nocturne brings you the familiar tale of the Phantom of the Opera from a different direction. Meg Giry met the Phantom once when she was twelve years old, a new ballet dancer lost in the Opera’s maze. Years later, when an Angel of Music offers singing lessons to her best friend Christine Daaé, Meg is sure she knows what’s actually happening. But as strange events unfold and the pieces stop adding up, Meg has to wonder if she truly understands the Phantom—or Christine.

Erik is a man of many talents and many masks, and the one covering his face may be the least concealing. The opera house is his kingdom and his refuge, where he stalks through the shadows as the Phantom of the Opera, watching over all that occurs. He never intended to fall in love; when he does, it launches him into a new symphony he’s certain can only end in heartbreak.

You are also invited to join Cheryl’s virtual launch party on Facebook – she’ll be posting fun updates throughout the weekend, plus you can join the Zoom call presentation this evening at 5:30 pm Pacific time.  We hope to see you there!

 

* If you’re wondering why this link doesn’t take you to Amazon, the printers of the hardback had site issues recently and have not been able to sync with Amazon yet – the hardback will eventually be available on Amazon, but for now you can buy it direct from the printers.  And they’re currently offering a 15% off discount (code SAVE15) if you buy today!

Picking Up Someone Else’s Threads

Post by Cheryl Mahoney

I shared a few weeks ago about my experience writing Chapter Two of Pesto, Pirouettes and Potions, a collaborative novel with three other authors.  We’re writing it round-robin style, each writing a chapter then passing it on to the next person, and my second turn came around again recently.

I had a lot of fun reading through the five chapters we had so far, and then writing up Chapter Six.  I got into a nice flow of conversation between the characters, getting to know their dynamics a little more.  I had the chance to play with Charlie and Lola, our two heroines, and their friends Nathan, who dances in the ballet with Charlie, and Mario, Lola’s roommate.  Mario is a flirt who thinks Charlie is cute, Nathan likes to tease straight guys who assume he’s gay (he isn’t), Charlie is totally freaking out over her crush on Lola, and Lola is trying to convince herself not to crush on Charlie–so it’s awkward all around and it was so much fun to write.

This was the first chapter I wrote picking up after other people wrote theirs – I wrote Chapter Two previously, but since it was introducing Charlie (while Chapter One introduced Lola) it was pretty independent.  I really enjoyed being able to riff from things other people had written–like continuing Charlie’s tic of saying “oh goddess,” or building from a previous-chapter moment when Charlie introduced her dog.  I probably wouldn’t have thought of either element, so I loved springing off of the ideas to continue building.

My last post mentioned setting the stage for things to play out louder, possibly in chapters written by others.  For Chapter Six, I got to see the opposite side of it, continuing to build something other people started.  It’s awesome to get such great ideas to play with.

Here’s an excerpt that shows a couple ideas someone else created continuing to grow in my chapter!

**********

Was this whole business, stalking the Pilates classes, showing up at brunch, going too far?  Was Charlie building way too much on one charged exercise class, and one not-quite-a-date?

But it had been such a good sort of date.  It had been a long time since she’d felt a connection like that.  And Sammy had liked Lola—who had understood his name.  Charlie only introduced him as Samwise when she wanted to see if someone would catch the reference, pick up the semi-secret code she was sending out.  And Lola hadn’t just asked about Lord of the Rings, she had asked Sammy if he was a Hobbit.  So adorable.

Oh goddess, she had it bad.

Spinning Threads I Might Not Finish

Four of our Stonehenge Circle Writers—Karen Blakely, R. A. Gates, Kelly Haworth and Cheryl Mahoney—are collaborating to write a new novel: Pesto, Pirouettes and Potions.  It’s unusual for this many authors to work together on one continuous story, so they’ve decided to blog throughout the drafting, to give you some glimpses into the process.

Blog post by Cheryl Mahoney

Last week R. A. Gates told you about writing Chapter One of the story, and introducing Lola.  I was slated to write second, so I dove into writing Chapter Two of the story.  My main task was introducing Charlie, our second lead character.  Charlie must have wanted to share her story, because the scenes flowed pretty well.  We also did more outlining for this story than I usually do for my own, so I was working with a paragraph of notes on what we decided to include for this chapter.  That may have made things easier, because the roadmap was very clearly laid out.

Since this was Charlie’s first chapter, it was mostly about setting up her character and her life.  I started with the bows at the end of a ballet performance—which sent me down a rabbit hole of research on modern ballet and the levels for dancers within a company!  I started inventing characters to form a community around Charlie, both in her dance company and in her neighborhood, which we had decided is very close-knit.  Even though I was creating characters for Charlie to know, I was also trying to hit the point that she’s lonely right now; her grandparents, who raised her, died a few months previously, and she’s also alone romantically.

The funny part about writing this as a collaboration at this point was realizing that I was setting up threads and ideas that I (or at least, I alone) wouldn’t be the one to write the results for.  For example, I wrote a bit where Charlie is hoping to get the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker this year, but someone else may be writing the scene that reveals whether she gets it or not.  With that in mind, I added more notes than usual, detailing what I was trying to set-up and how it might pay-off.  We may not follow all of those ideas, but at least that way it’s noted and can be considered by my fellow writers as they write forward.

It also was interesting to have more immediate feedback for my writing than usual, as I bounced ideas I was having off of my partner writers in almost-real time as I wrote.  I have people I talk to about my writing, but it’s usually not quite so in the moment.

I thought I’d share an excerpt from Chapter Two.  This is my favorite bit, as Charlie struggles to fall asleep and her dog Sammy comes to join her.

********

After Charlie’s mind went around the same circles two or three times, and she tried every possible position at least once, she gave up and turned the light back on.  Some nights were just going to be restless and blue, and there was no use fighting it.

She reached down to the bottom shelf of her bedside table and came up with her worn old paperback of The Two Towers.  She opened at random, landing near the beginning of Chapter Four.  She knew the story backwards and forwards, so she started reading where she was.

Only a few pages in, she heard a thump as the mattress shifted, and then Sammy’s cold nose was pressing against her shoulder.

Charlie rolled over to rub Sammy’s favorite spot between his ears.  “At least I have you, right, Samwise?  That was enough for Frodo.”  He’d had an entire Fellowship, but Sam was really the only one he’d needed, to get all the way through Mordor.

Sammy snuffled, turned around twice, and curled up against her.  Charlie went back to her book, the little terrier a warm lump at the small of her back, and read about Merry, Pippin and Treebeard until she fell asleep.

Stonehenge Story Starts: At First Sight (Prompt)

Welcome to Stonehenge Story Starts, a biweekly writing prompt and story sharing opportunity.  Every other Sunday, we post a writing prompt: an opening line, a concept, a plot hook, maybe an image.  Two weeks later on Saturday, we’ll post again with the writing the prompt inspired.

This week’s prompt is: Write about two people seeing each other for the first time.

(Prompt courtesy of thinkwritten.com)

The deadline to submit your story is Friday, October 18, and we’ll post results on October 19th.

Our writers will be writing for the prompts, but anyone is welcome to participate!  Just come by on Sunday to see the week’s prompt, write during the week, and send any writing you’d like to share to StonehengeCircleWriters@gmail.com by the following Friday at 8 pm.  On Saturday we’ll post participants’ writing (with credit to the author, of course).

Write as much or as little as you choose: a paragraph, a flash fiction piece (less than 1,000 words) or a short story.  (Note, for long writing, we may choose to post only a selection.)  You are encouraged to be as creative as possible with the writing prompts.  Try to do something unexpected, or explore a particular genre like science fiction or historical fiction.  Take the prompt literally, or decide it’s a metaphor.  Your only limit is your own imagination.

Happy writing!

 

Stonehenge Story Starts: Surprises in Flight (Results)

We hope you’re enjoying your Saturday!

This week’s prompt was:

Just as your flight takes off, you discover a shocking note under your seat.  (Prompt courtesy of getfreewrite.com)

 

 

Today’s story is from Cheryl Mahoney, making an unusual foray into the modern day to write a stand-alone short story.

*****

I had tried to deny the situation to myself.  Told myself that I didn’t know how many seats there were to a row, that maybe, just maybe, seat E could in fact be on the aisle.  But once I was standing in the aisle, looking at my row, there was no more deniability.

Two seats by the window.  First aisle.  Five seats in the middle.  Second aisle, and two more seats.  Placing seat E, my seat, squarely in the center of the row.  I was going to be cramped into a tiny seat with two people on either side.  Two sets of knees to climb over if I wanted to stand up.

I sighed, and set to stowing my bag in the overhead compartment.  It was going to be a long ten-hour flight.

Continue reading “Stonehenge Story Starts: Surprises in Flight (Results)”

Stonehenge Story Starts: Surprises in Flight (Prompt)

Welcome to Stonehenge Story Starts, a biweekly writing prompt and story sharing opportunity.  Every other Sunday, we post a writing prompt: an opening line, a concept, a plot hook, maybe an image.  Two weeks later on Saturday, we’ll post again with the writing the prompt inspired.

This week’s prompt is: Just as your flight takes off, you discover a shocking note under your seat.

(Prompt courtesy of getfreewrite.com)

The deadline to submit your story is Friday, October 4, and we’ll post result on October 5th.

Our writers will be writing for the prompts, but anyone is welcome to participate!  Just come by on Sunday to see the week’s prompt, write during the week, and send any writing you’d like to share to StonehengeCircleWriters@gmail.com by the following Friday at 8 pm.  On Saturday we’ll post participants’ writing (with credit to the author, of course).

Write as much or as little as you choose: a paragraph, a flash fiction piece (less than 1,000 words) or a short story.  (Note, for long writing, we may choose to post only a selection.)  You are encouraged to be as creative as possible with the writing prompts.  Try to do something unexpected, or explore a particular genre like science fiction or historical fiction.  Take the prompt literally, or decide it’s a metaphor.  Your only limit is your own imagination.

Happy writing!

 

Stonehenge Story Starts: You Can (?) Go Home Again (Results)

We hope you’re enjoying your Saturday!

This week’s prompt was:

Write a story about revisiting one’s childhood home.

 

Today’s story is from Cheryl Mahoney, writing a follow-up to her story about finding something hidden, one enchantment and 100 years later.

*****

Rose was back at the castle for many days before she returned to her old bedroom.  She wouldn’t have visited today, if Edward hadn’t suggested it.

He stopped her outside of a council meeting.  “I understand I’m living in your old rooms,” he said, smiling.  “I appreciate that you haven’t demanded them back—but I’ve been meaning to ask if you’d like to visit them?”

She hesitated.  She didn’t trust Terrence’s brothers, not even this one, who smiled more than the older two.  Was it merely chance that he’d happened to remember to make this invitation at a time when Terrence wasn’t around?  She let her eyes drop, and murmured, “I wouldn’t want to impose on you.”

Edward’s grin only grew.  “It wouldn’t be an imposition at all.  I only feel bad I didn’t invite you sooner.  I knew you’d be interested to see the place.”  He took her arm—but politely, unthreateningly—and steered her down the corridor.  “It’s right this way—well, you know that, of course.”

She could have said no.  She could have yanked her arm away, and she thought she probably would have, if he had gripped it any tighter.  But it was a polite, even courtly hold, and she wasn’t entirely certain she didn’t want to see her old bedroom.

“I quite like the place,” Edward remarked as they walked.  “So quiet, so removed.  Gives me plenty of room for thinking, you know.”

Sometimes she had liked the quiet.  Sometimes she had wondered why so many stories put princesses away in a tower, all by themselves, and why her own life had to conform to that particular narrative.

Continue reading “Stonehenge Story Starts: You Can (?) Go Home Again (Results)”

Stonehenge Story Starts: You Can (?) Go Home Again (Prompt)

Welcome to Stonehenge Story Starts, a biweekly writing prompt and story sharing opportunity.  Every other Sunday, we post a writing prompt: an opening line, a concept, a plot hook, maybe an image.  Two weeks later on Saturday, we’ll post again with the writing the prompt inspired.

This week’s prompt is: Write a story about revisiting one’s childhood home.

Our writers will be writing for the prompts, but anyone is welcome to participate!  Just come by on Sunday to see the week’s prompt, write during the week, and send any writing you’d like to share to StonehengeCircleWriters@gmail.com by the following Friday at 8 pm.  On Saturday we’ll post participants’ writing (with credit to the author, of course).

Write as much or as little as you choose: a paragraph, a flash fiction piece (less than 1,000 words) or a short story.  (Note, for long writing, we may choose to post only a selection.)  You are encouraged to be as creative as possible with the writing prompts.  Try to do something unexpected, or explore a particular genre like science fiction or historical fiction.  Take the prompt literally, or decide it’s a metaphor.  Your only limit is your own imagination.

Happy writing!

 

Stonehenge Story Starts: Mirror, Mirror (Results)

We hope you’re enjoying your Saturday!

This week’s prompt was:

Write a story about a magic mirror—what it can do, how it’s used, and who it’s used by (Prompt courtesy of @writingprompts)

We have just one story today: Cheryl Mahoney gave us a glimpse of a moment between two characters in her upcoming novel.

*****

            “Rose?  Rose, I know you can hear me.”

Rose didn’t lift her head from her pillow.  “Go away.”

“Don’t you think it might be helpful to talk to me?”

That didn’t even merit a response.

“I’m sorry about Terrence.”

Rose pushed herself up to sit on the bed then, to glare at the woman looking out of the mirror on her wall.  “Don’t talk about him.  Don’t even say his name.  And you know you’re not sorry.”

Continue reading “Stonehenge Story Starts: Mirror, Mirror (Results)”

Stonehenge Story Starts: Mirror, Mirror… (Prompt)

Welcome to Stonehenge Story Starts, a weekly writing prompt and story sharing opportunity.  Each week, we post a writing prompt: an opening line, a concept, a plot hook, maybe an image.  The following Saturday, we’ll post again with the writing the prompt inspired.

This week’s prompt is: Write a story about a magic mirror—what it can do, how it’s used, and who it’s used by (Prompt courtest of @writingprompts)

Our writers will be writing for the prompts, but anyone is welcome to participate!  Just come by on Sunday to see the week’s prompt, write during the week, and send any writing you’d like to share to StonehengeCircleWriters@gmail.com by the following Friday at 8 pm.  On Saturday we’ll post participants’ writing (with credit to the author, of course).

Write as much or as little as you choose: a paragraph, a flash fiction piece (less than 1,000 words) or a short story.  (Note, for long writing, we may choose to post only a selection.)  You are encouraged to be as creative as possible with the writing prompts.  Try to do something unexpected, or explore a particular genre like science fiction or historical fiction.  Take the prompt literally, or decide it’s a metaphor.  Your only limit is your own imagination.

Happy writing!

 

If you like to plan ahead, next week’s prompt will be: Write a story about a magic mirror—what it can do, how it’s used, and who it’s used by (Prompt courtest of @writingprompts)