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Wendy Coles-Littlepage
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Author of 'Disfigured, a Gothic Romance Featuring the Phantom of the Opera'
Author of 'Disfigured, a Gothic Romance Featuring the Phantom of the Opera'

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Happy to announce that my Gothic romance, 'Disfigured;' featuring the Phantom of the Opera, is FINALLY available in paperback! A very time-consuming process, I can tell you. You can find it right next to the Ebook version on Amazon. Check out my website and there is a link.
www.disfiguredseries.com.
Thanks!

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It feels like I've been caught up in a whirlwind lately, so much going on in life.  It is very hard to find time to write, and I have so much farther to go in book 2 of my 'Disfigured' series.  I feel good if I can get 2 pages finished in a day.  Also trying to research agents to query in my spare (!) time.  I think I am perhaps a little more than half way finished now.

I have been researching for the book, too.  In the second book, tentatively titled 'About-Face', Erik takes a steamer across the Atlantic to New York.  I studied up on transatlantic travel in the late 1800s, as well as what hotel he would stay at while there.  He is going with a surgeon who has a clinic where he performs early plastic surgery techniques on men who were injured in the civil war.  He thinks (the surgeon) he can help Erik improve his facial appearance!    I have to admit, although it takes precious time, I do really enjoy doing research, especially now that you can find everything you need on the internet!

But don't worry, fans of Erik and Sylvie, she soon follows after him.

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I just wanted to share this little quote from Frances Mayes, one of my favorite writers.  She was talking about the 20th anniversary of "Under the Tuscan Sun".  Can you believe it's been 20 years?  Anyway, this one should strike a chord with writers and authors:

"You never know, of course, when you write a book what its fate will be. Sink out of sight, soar to the sun–who knows."

So true, Frances! It is a bit like sending your first child out into the world - you want everyone to love him or her.

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Hello all!  I am posting an excerpt from a review my book, 'Disfigured' received from the Militant Recommender Book Review Blog, by Stephanie Piro.  Stephanie is an avid book reviewer and talented cartoonist.  If you visit her website, http://militantrecommender.blogspot.com/, you can see the charming artwork she created to illustrate her review.
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“Swoon-ily Romantic Retelling of Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera!”
…we see and hear about the Phantom and the events that unfold at the Paris Opera House through Sylvie's eyes.  This is a captivating concept as sometimes we only hear second-hand, as Sylvie [Disfigured’s heroine] does, about Erik's exploits, and that take place "off stage" so to speak. Ms. Coles-Littlepage has given us a darkly romantic Phantom, one who seems to come to life on the page, and a man that the reader (if you are anything like the Recommender!) will fall in love with along with Sylvie.  If you are a Phantom Phan or just someone who likes a good story, then be sure to add Disfigured to your collection!
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Thank you, Stephanie!

The Phantom of the Opera - a New Look at an Old Story

When I arrived at the idea of writing ‘Disfigured’, my book about the relationship between Sylvie, a private cook, and  Erik, AKA the Phantom, I had three important premises that I felt strongly about.  First, I knew I did not want to write about any male character that was, shall we say, not exactly human.  So no vampires, no werewolves, no time-traveling from the past or future, no ghosts, no superpowers.  I just wanted my good bad guy (or bad good guy) to be a man.  Albeit a very clever, even brilliant, man.
At the time I was writing my book, I happened to stop in to a large bookstore, and while browsing the aisles, was startled to see that an entire long row of book shelves, hundreds of books, in fact, were dedicated to what the store called “Supernatural Romance”.  I’m certain she had no idea what Pandora’s Box she was opening when Stephenie Meyer wrote ‘Twilight’, but we sure know now!  It made me feel even more strongly that I wanted to go against that grain.  And after all, Erik spends a lot of time and effort in the Phantom of the Opera story trying to convince people that he is, in fact, supernatural.
The second thing I felt, and still feel, strongly about is that Erik and Christine do not belong together; they are completely wrong for each other, and when Christine marries Raoul, she is making the right choice for her age and nature.  I realize that there are many phans out there who feel otherwise, but if you take away the romance of the story, and look at what you actually have, they would never have been happy together.  Would Erik really be able to trust a girl who sneaked up on him and pulled off his mask without asking permission?  Who gave him away in front of an entire theatre audience?  Even more difficult to imagine going well would be their wedding night.  Non, non, non!
So who would be right for Erik?  What would she be like?  Thinking about this, I created Sylvie Bessette, cook.  Her insatiable curiosity makes it impossible for her to stay away from Erik, and by forcing herself into his reclusive life, they become friends.  I really wanted Sylvie to be a heroine, to be strong in her own right, and brave enough to rescue the man she loves from certain disaster.  I also thought it would be interesting for Sylvie, in her unwitting part of the love triangle, to be a little obsessed, not quite so violently as Erik becomes in his obsession with Christine, but obsessed nevertheless.  It helps her to understand him.
The third thing was not to have explicit scenes of sex.  I wanted my book to be read by anyone, and not everyone wants to read a book with explicit sex.  I took for my model a series of mysteries that I am enormously fond of, the Amelia Peabody series by the late writer, Elizabeth Peters.  I love that series, and a few of my paperback volumes are literally falling apart (I suppose that could partly be blamed on my tendency to read them while in the bath).  Peters’ heroine and her husband, Amelia Peabody Emerson and Professor Radcliffe Emerson (he hates his first name, by the way) have a passionate marriage, with plenty of great sex, but it is only hinted at, never detailed.  I liked that approach – you never become sidetracked from the detective activities going on, and there is nothing wrong with a bit of modesty now and then.  It is refreshing.  If you have not read this series, I recommend it.  It is a long one; perhaps 20 books in total, following the Emersons through the years as they excavate in Egypt of the 1800s and solve murders as they go along.  You will learn quite a bit about Egyptology while you are at it!

Currently I am reading an older translation of Gaston Leroux's book, 'The Phantom of the Opera', originally published 1911, to hunt out quotes.  For my first book, 'Disfigured', I used quotes from Alexandre Dumas novels at the beginning of each chapter.  The quote would, naturally, have something to do with what was happening in that chapter.  I'm trying to do the same thing for the second book in the series, using the Phantom book by Leroux.  I am finding it rather hard going, though, because it is such an oddity of a book!  Have you read it?

It served as the inspiration for ALW's musical of the same name, but with much editing down and streamlining.  Where I have found it very useful, though, is in filling in background information about Erik's life before he came to live beneath the opera building. 

I am not sure I will end up using quotes from this book to start my chapters in Book Two; we shall see!  Only if I can find enough good ones.  Otherwise, it might be back to Dumas!

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Currently, my novel, 'Disfigured', is a Kindle eBook, but I am stressing over writing the perfect query letter to help me find a literary agent.  I really want to see my book, and the books in the series that follow, in print.  I am about halfway through writing the second book in my series, following Sylvie and Erik and their further adventures.  I read everything I can find and have visited many websites to learn about how to write the perfect query letter.  In fact, the writing community I belong to here on Google+ has a lot of good info that has been helpful to me.

Finding the right match for my series in a literary agency, and then composing just the right query letter that would result in an agent asking for more info or visiting my website is downright nail biting!  I have read that agents are bombarded with thousands of these letters every week!  It's terrifying, really.  How do I make mine stand out?

But I'm going to do it; my letter is finished, and I have a couple of agencies in mind (after all, 'Disfigured' is a Gothic romance, not War and Peace), but I'm not emailing it out yet because of a tip I saw on Google+ that August is the worst month to send your letters out.  Who knew?

Whenever I am out and about and stop to peruse the bookshelves in a store, I visualize my book sitting there.  It will be there, I tell myself.  The only thing I have to fear may be fear itself, but that is pretty potent fear!   Wish me luck!

“Poor, unhappy Erik!  Shall we pity him? Shall we curse him? He asked only to be 'some one,' like everybody else. But he was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face; he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the entire empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar. Ah, yes, we must need pity the Opera ghost...”

          -Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera
 
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