Four magicians who’ll make you believe

Seriously, in today’s world, why would you NOT want to believe in magic? When I started writing the Sleight of Hand series, I knew very little about the stage magicians I was writing about. I found magic entertaining and fun and I always had, so I figured why not write about it? I tried it and the result has been incredibly entertaining for me.

My fourth book in the series, Movie Magic, will be out October 31. I’m planning a day of festivities for its release, but I love this series so much, I decided I should re-introduce my magicians here.

So I started with Close Up Magic. Andre Hawke is the magician hero in this one, and he’s your typical tall, dark and sexy with a family he’s devoted to and protective of. He’s already got a lot going on in his life when Stacey Matthewson, a talented entertainment reporter with a checkered past, shows up. How does he deal with her? With a little magic, of course.

Excerpt: Her chest felt tight and she found it hard to breathe. Was he going to kiss her? Dear God, she felt paralyzed. Was this really just desire or did he actually know enough magic to CloseUpMagicEbookRevhold her immobile while he considered whether or not to kiss her? Or did she want his kiss so bad she was willing to sacrifice what was left of her career to get it?

She cleared her throat and fought her way out of whatever spell he’d cast. “I, um, do have another reason—” She reached into her purse.

“Save it.” He dropped her hand. “I don’t talk to the press before shows.”

She couldn’t disguise her astonishment. “How do you know I’m a reporter?”

“Fresh off the plane. I recognize the smell of the soap. Congratulations, you’re the first. This evening, anyway.” He glanced at his watch. “I’m not expecting any more for at least a couple hours.” His glare was sharp. “They probably won’t catch me until after the show.”

Keep in mind that throughout the writing of Close Up Magic, I refused to look up how magic tricks were done. I didn’t want to know. I made up my own magic tricks for the books and tried to imagine ways they could be done, but I didn’t want to spoil the magic for myself.

When I started writing Escape Magic, I figured I better change that. Escape magic is very different from close up magic in that the performer relies on a lot of physical strength and dexterity to accomplish their tricks. I’d been challenged to make one of my magicians a female, and, to my surprise, escape magic lends itself very well to female performers. When I started researching the subject, I was surprised at how many women escape artists there actually are. This led me to create Lady Lydia, a friend of Andre who becomes the love interest of Andre’s brother Tony.

Excerpt: Lydia was not easy to find. He finally located her in a knot of cheering male magicians. She was seated on a table with her legs crossed and her arms bound behind her. A handsome, dark complected man teased her with a wine glass. “C’mon, Lady Lydia! Get loose and it’s all yours.”Escape MagicEbook

Lydia pretended to have trouble with the knot. “Oh, you might just have me with this one.”

The dark man smiled a little lasciviously and leaned on the table so his body half covered hers. “Oh, I really hope so. But give it a try anyway.”

Lydia remained perfectly calm. Tony knew she’d probably already worked her way out of the knot, or at least knew how to, but she gave no indication of it. “How on earth could I possibly—oops!” She held up her hands with the rope dangling from one and gave him a little push away from her. “Did you lose something, Samir?”

“Just his pride.” Tony recognized the little toadlike man who spoke as Phil, an illusionist. He frowned, searching his mind. Had Phil even been invited? Before he could speak, Phil made a beckoning motion. “Everybody pay up.”

“Not the right venue, Phil.” Tony stepped forward as Lydia took the wine from the handsome magician’s fingers. Tony noticed a line of empty wine glasses on the table next to her. It wasn’t the first bet, then. His resolution to put a stop to the illicit activities strengthened into an almost protective resolve. “Lydia.”

She glanced at Tony as she sipped the wine. “What? You want to go next?” She dangled the rope in front of him. At his disbelieving look, she laughed. “Sorry, don’t have any cuffs. You have to bring your own.”

Of course, after all that partying in Las Vegas, I was ready for a change of scenery with my next book. That resulted in Island Magic and its reclusive magician hero Ian Logan. Logan is in a sort of self-imposed exile from magic, but when he encounters an old friend in trouble—sexy and damaged divorcee Rachel Duvall—Logan just can’t help but slip back into his magic ways to help her heal.

“I’ll tell you a secret.” He brushed her hair back and leaned over, his lips close to her ear. “Real magicians never have to prepare—as far as you know.”

A pleasant shiver went through her. A vague memory stirred. Her mother in the kitchen prIsland Magic eBookeparing for a dinner party. A good hostess has all her preparation done before the party so it looks like she gets to enjoy everything as much as her guests. She pushed the memory away, knowing it would lead to others where she was the perfect hostess with everything prepared ahead of time. She’d already broken her vow never to cry again once that day. She steeled herself against doing it again.

Lifting her chin, she stepped past him onto the deck. Her hands gripped the white-painted wrought iron railing. His body was solid and warm behind her, but she clung to the cold metal rail as if to keep herself from flying up into the stars. She felt almost certain whatever he was about to do—whatever she was about to see—would surely turn her world upside down.

The tropical sun had set long before. She wondered what time it actually was but didn’t really care enough to find out. Diamonds peppered the velvety black sky, and he wanted her to pick one. She lifted her hand and pointed. “That one.”

He rested his chin on her shoulder, bending his legs so his tall frame molded against hers. She watched his hand the entire time as he reached past her arm, closed his long fingers and brought them back to the glass, releasing the light into the bowl of the wineglass. She stared in wonder at the blue light.

“Did you see a trick?” He smiled at her, offering her the glass, his hand still firmly on top of it.

Finally, we come to Movie Magic. This may be my favorite of the Sleight of Hand books so far. I love the heroine, Sabrina Parker. She’s a plucky, ambitious woman in the Hollywood special effects business. She’s befriended all the other magicians we’ve met so far, using their expertise to create effects for movies that go beyond CGI. But when she needs help on a very special movie, her old friends fail her. They’ve all got projects of their own. What’s a girl to do? Our girl finds Walt Bryson, a sexy, talented children’s magician who lives on the coast of North Carolina. And magic ensues. Magic that involves everything from pirates and Carolina Beaches to the Magic Castle of Hollywood.

She missed the pleasant buzz from the rum. The coffee cleared things up for her too much. Half of her really wanted nothing more than to drink rum and make out with him on this couch in the late afternoon sun while the deck below them bustled with waiters anPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]d the other pirates cleaning up from the afternoon. She really wanted to give in to some crazy impulse. She glared at the innocent cup of coffee. “I miss the rum.”

He laughed softly, brushing her hair back from her face, his fingers tangling briefly in the soft curls. “So do I.” His gaze flickered to her lips and she knew in that moment that she wouldn’t need the rum buzz to kiss him. Oh please, just kiss me already. The thought whispered in her heart, and all she could see for a breathless moment was his lips.

He brushed his thumb over her lips, so tenderly her belly filled with a melting fire. But then he backed away with a reluctant smile. “But maybe we don’t need rum, huh?”

All of my Sleight of Hand books are available at Smashwords, Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and many more of your favorite online book retailers. Pick up one and be ready to believe!

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Movie Magic (Book 4) Available October 31!

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Do you want to believe in magic??

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Movie Magic (Book 4) Available October 31!

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Magic and Love…

I’ve discovered something rather important about magic since I’ve been writing the Sleight of Hand series. It’s harder to believe in magic when you know how it’s done. And to write about magic in the way I do, I had to do a lot of research and some of that included learning how basic tricks are done. I make up most of the magic tricks in my novels, but I have to be able to imagine ways that these tricks could be accomplished if they actually existed, right?

So yeah, I have studied a little magic and watched a lot more. And yet, somehow I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for stage magic, despite the fact that I am now able to at least begin to imagine ways that most tricks could be performed. In fact, if anything, I love the challenge, especially when it’s sleight of hand. I like to try to figure out how I’m being misdirected, and I love when I can’t spot the trick. I love to be left wondering if magic really could exist.

But what does this have to do with love and writing romances?

This is where I wax philosophical. We all know how romantic love works, right?

  • Attraction: you spot that special person and eventually find they’ve spotted you as well.
  • Adoration: you can’t get enough of each other, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
  • Contentment: you’re used to each other, enjoy doing stuff together or just being together.
  • Commitment: whether it’s marriage or living together or just saying you’ll always come back to each other.

And this is where magic and romantic love are very similar: We all know these stages (just as I now know how many magic tricks are performed), but somehow some people are able to make them work and others…aren’t. Boredom sets in instead of contentment or commitment frightens instead of inspiring happiness. Where’s the magic that made everything glow in the first place? What trick enables some to stay together for the long haul while others search endlessly?

The couple married fifty years went through the same initial stages as every other couple, but somehow they made it last. They sit together holding hands while their family celebrates and admires them, leaving us all to wonder: What’s the trick? Where’s the misdirection?

Is it magic?

 

 

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Creation’s Child: The Killer in Me

I’ll take a quick break from promoting Movie Magic (see the beautiful cover to the right) to talk a little bit about one of the most powerful and potentially addictive parts of writing: Creation. Because along with creation comes the ability to kill with impunity within the realm of your creation, that is.

There’s a saying that’s popular among writers. It’s on bumper stickers, coffee cups and t-shirts. “I’m a writer. Don’t piss me off or I’ll put you in a book and kill you.” While I’ve never actually done that, I have killed people off in books to move the story along. In fact, in my very first published book Secrets of the Lotus, I killed off the heroine’s imprisoned brother in order to bring her and the hero closer. Heartless? Cold? Maybe. But here’s the result:

Dan bolted up the stairs rather than wait for the elevator. The door of her apartment was ajar. He went in to find her standing in the kitchen drinking a glass of wine, her eyes red.

“Jo?” He closed the door. “What’s up?”

“He’s dead. James.” Josie lifted her glass as if in a toast. Dan could see tears running down her cheeks. “There was some kind of riot, something stupid. But somebody had one of those weapons, the ones they make out of spoons—what do they call them?”

“A shiv?” Dan pulled the term from some movie or other, then felt like an idiot since he was fairly certain she didn’t really care. He crossed the room and took the wineglass from her, leading her into the living room, tossing some cushions on the floor and sitting with her in his arms. “I’m sorry, baby.”

She felt good enough against him to make him feel guilty, but he also knew her well enough to realize what she needed from him at that moment, and if he let her go, he wasn’t sure what would happen to her. He touched his lips to her hair, allowed himself to breathe her scent and offered her the only real comfort he could.

Since then, in twelve books, I have only (sort of) killed off five characters. I say “sort of” because, well, two of those were characters you didn’t really know but that affected the heroines’ backstories, and one of them had a twist that’s not revealed yet. As in he died, but… (Read the Synchronicity series if you want to know what I’m talking about!)

But of all the deaths of all my characters, the only one that really surprised me was the death in Weeds and Flowers. I say it surprised me because I knew this character had more to accomplish in the story. Hell, he’s talking in the last chapter of the book! It was only after I wrote his death scene that I realized he was a ghost.

The phone rang at six thirty the next morning. I groaned and rolled over. No fair being woken up so early on a Saturday. I heard David’s voice on the phone, muffled. He talked for several minutes, his voice low and somehow ominous, like the first growls of thunder. I rolled over onto my back. Silence fell, a humid shadow over the house. Then I heard Mom’s voice, a flicker of lightning. With my eyes closed so I couldn’t see the bright sunlight that snuck past my shades, I felt a thunderstorm approaching. Them Mom cried “No!”, the lightning struck and I sat up, wide awake. Something awful had happened.

J.K. Rowling cried when she killed off Snape. Agatha Christie supposedly killed Poirot because she was falling in love with him. Arthur Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes because he was tired of him…and later regretted it. I guess my point—other than trying to entice you to read two of my earliest books—is that with creation comes the ability to destroy. Even if it’s just imaginary people in an imaginary world. It’s thrilling and addicting and devastating at the same time.

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The one true sentence

Every now and then I come across something in my writing that strikes a chord. It’s a true sentence. Something I know comes from my own heart and experience. I came across one of those today while doing my “itty bitty” editing on Movie Magic. (That’s the editing that looks at all the “itty bitty” things and tries to find anything at all—a word or letter or typo or whatever—that will jolt the reader out of the story. I never catch them all, but I do catch most of them!)

Anyway, at the risk of giving you all a peek into my own heart, here’s the sentence, spoken by my hero, Walt, to the heroine, Sabrina:

“You know, you leave home thinking you’re leaving everything behind, but what you don’t realize is ‘everything’ includes some pretty good stuff too. The stuff you think will always be there. Like your dad taking you fishing or your mom frying potatoes in the fall. Or laying on your back looking up through the branches of the Christmas tree and feeling like every dream you’ve ever had will eventually come true. Because you’re a kid. Just a kid who doesn’t understand that dreams aren’t reality. And if you want to make magic exist for everyone else, you’ve got to give it up for yourself.”

And there it is. I don’t actually remember the moment I wrote that sentence. I probably wrote it two years ago. I do, however, recognize the homesickness that probably went into that paragraph. The very best writing comes from your own heart, but it’s surprisingly difficult to do. I’m glad I managed it here. And I can’t wait to share the rest of Movie Magic with you!

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Two Months to Magic!

I just realized it’s August 31, exactly two months until Movie Magic releases! I’m very Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]excited about this one. I really, really love the characters and the circumstances, and the setting ranges from Beaufort, N.C., to Hollywood, California, so you get plenty of variety there!

Plus, as you can plainly see, the cover is super beautiful. (Thanks, Farah Evers!)

Anyway, I’m trying to build excitement about the book over the next couple of months, and the best way I know how to do that is to blog about magic and my book and more magic and more book. I’m kicking it off today with an excerpt. Let me know what you think in the comments!

 

The festival was what she’d expected. Crowds of people and stalls all along the roads. As she neared the square, the crowd on the sidewalk became nearly unbearable, but the groups clustered around the booths were much sparser. Spotting some colorful scarves at a booth, Sabrina stepped off the crowded sidewalk into the nearly empty street. Why were so many people sticking to the sidewalks when there was so much to see at the booths? Shaking her head again, she walked bravely toward the stall she’d spotted. Two giggling young women dressed in very short shorts passed her. They both gave her dubious looks and shrugged.

Ignoring them, Sabrina entered the scarf stall. The scarves might be handmade, but they were gorgeous enough to be found on Rodeo Drive. Sabrina ran her fingers over the smooth, silky texture. She turned to ask the slightly grizzled looking woman about the material she’d used and found her looking as dubious as the young women she’d passed. “What?”

“Honey, is that really what you’re wearing for this?” The stocky older woman gestured at Sabrina’s silk blouse and pencil skirt.

Sabrina rolled her eyes, deciding she didn’t want one of the scarves after all. “Look, I know I’m a little overdressed. I didn’t bring clothes for a street fair, okay?” She turned to stalk away.

Someone whooped from the far end of the street and then a chorus of screams sounded from around the square. Sabrina stopped, puzzled, noticing the people on the sidewalks were laughing and pointing. At me? No. Something behind her. Before she could turn, another loud whoop from directly behind her drew a scream of her own, and then a strong arm swooped around her waist and scooped her up and over a shoulder. She gasped, surprised to find herself hanging over the shoulder of her attacker, who smelled strongly of some sort of male cologne meant to stimulate female pheromones. She screamed again and kicked, smacking at her attacker’s back ineffectually as he plowed through the stalls and into an alley.

Find out more on October 31!

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So Much Magic…

Since I have just returned to dry land after seven days on an Alaskan Cruise, I am now an expert on all the magical (and non-magical) aspects of cruises.

We’ll start with the non-magical. There are three. The coffee, to me, was the most important. The coffee on a cruise is just…coffee. It is what it is and you either make do or you actively dislike it and make yourself miserable.

But then you see something like this and suddenly coffee is no longer important because the world is magical. It just is.

Juneau moonlight

Juneau magic

The second non-magic thing about cruises is the toilets. As we found out the morning after we set sail when an entire section of toilets on our side of the boat stopped flushing because somebody threw a tissue in one. It didn’t take long to resolve, but until then, you had to go potty elsewhere. But then you look out the window at 10 p.m. and see something like this:

Sitka Midnight Sun

Midnight (almost) sun magic

Side Note: That’s a container ship on the right. One of those enormous things that dwarfs everything—or at least I used to think so.

The only other thing that I didn’t find magical on the cruise was the size of the shower. Tiny. Closet-sized. Impossible to shave your legs while showering. But then you approach British Columbia after a cool, gray day at sea and this sight greets you:

British Columbia magic

Sunlight magic

Of course with all this magic around me, I was amazingly productive. Seriously. I finished another pass through Movie Magic (coming October 31), and then I got an idea for a magical romance set on a cruise ship and started outlining and making notes…and writing. I say this a little sheepishly because I know it’ll be a couple years before I get this one out. My next magic book, which I plan to write during National Novel Writing Month this year, will tie in to Movie Magic and is tentatively titled Hollywood Magic. (You’ll meet Carole, the heroine, in Movie Magic.) So what the heck am I doing writing Magic at Sea now? Talk about getting the cart before the horse.

In case you’re curious, Magic at Sea will tie in with the adventures of Lady Lydia and Tony Hawke from Escape Magic. I had a lot of complaints about that book. It was my only attempt at a novella in this series, and evidently it didn’t work for a lot of people who wanted more about this particularly passionate couple. So, even though I feel I told their story pretty well (especially for a 99 cent novella), I’m going to pick it up a little more in this one.

But you’ll have to wait. Because before that can happen, I have Timeless, the last book of my Synchronicity series to get through (January 2018?), then Hollywood Magic (October 31, 2018). And then I’ll get to Magic at Sea. And you’ll meet Frankie, Lady Lydia’s protege, and her as-yet unnamed hero.

And just in case you think I’ve forgotten that magic can be found on land as well as at sea, here’s a little bit of heavenly magic perfection I found in Seattle:

Seattle rose

Seattle rose magic

 

 

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