Admiring the mystery and magic of life

Harry Houdini once said, “I am a great admirer of mystery and magic. Look at this life—all mystery and magic.” He also claimed that scientists could not accept magic as a science simply because they couldn’t understand it. And though he worked for years to discredit fake mediums, the anniversary of his death (October 31) is still celebrated by some with a séance in the hopes of that he will send a message proving he’s still out there…somewhere.

Houdini guarded his secrets closely, even having his assistants sign secrecy agreements. He obviously knew that the magic of his performance lay in the ignorance of his audience to his methods. So why—to this day—does his name still bear so much magic? I believe the answer is simple. Houdini believed, and that belief carries on.

Magicians are performers and magic is a science that combines performance with physics, chemistry and even biology. Every trick has a secret, but when you see it performed by a capable performer—magic. But as Houdini said, life is full of magic. The Celts, as I was recently reminded, believed in “thin places” between the living world and the eternal world. For the Celts, most of these were fixed places, but I believe you can find them anywhere.

For instance:

  1. The double rainbow I saw over the bookstore the week Steve Jobs died.
  2. The smell of honeysuckle.
  3. Hummingbirds.
  4. The rainbow I saw in Germany when we were unintentionally sidetracked.
  5. Some sunsets. Here’s one:IMG_5926
  6. Moonlight on water. Almost always. Case in point:Juneau moonlight
  7. Flowers in general, but specifically daffodils. And some roses.
  8. Some movies.
  9. Some books.
  10. Alaska. I realized this when I saw salmon swimming upstream. It may be one of the last of the truly magical places, certainly in the U.S.

I could go on, but I’m really more interested in what magic means to you. Which is why I’m running the contest inviting you to share your favorite “thin place”/magical experience. (See “Movie Magic Contest”—above right—for rules.) Leave me a comment below to enter!

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To my readers: Let’s get together.

In twenty-one days, Movie Magic hits virtual shelves everywhere. Meaning my part is done, and it’s up to you guys, my readers, to take it to the next level. You want to know what that feels like for the author?

For me, at least, it’s a strange sort of terrified resignation. I have such great hopes, and I know they can be dashed. Because they have before. Twelve books now—each one well-written with good plots and engaging characters (this from reviewers, not my personal assessment)—but not a bestseller among them. And no matter what I say about writing for myself, it’s not totally true, and I know it. I’m really writing for you.

Who are you? I’ve had the distinct pleasure of hearing from some of my readers. I love reviews because they give me an opportunity to know what I did right and fix what I did wrong the next time, but I never reply to them, although I always “like” them if given the option by the platform. Emails are even better. And I’ve even been invited to speak at a couple of book clubs. So much fun to discuss my book with someone who has read it!

I’m planning something special for the release of Movie Magic. A way for you guys to get to know me, if you so desire. It’s something that’s way out of my comfort zone, so I actually have to make sure it’s something I really want to do, but I’m thinking I’ll be able to do it. If you want to know more, join my Facebook party by clicking the graphic below. I look forward to seeing you there!

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Movie Magic release party!

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Abracadabra: A Facebook Party!

Hope you’ll join me on Facebook on October 31 for a Movie Magic release party!

Sleight of Hand Series 2-page0001

Movie Magic release party!

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Abracadabra: When writing is fun.

Movie Magic, like all of my Sleight of Hand books to date, was seriously fun to write. I wrote it a few years ago as a National Novel Writing Month project, then let it sit for a year or two to ripen. Rewriting was even more fun, and even now I can’t seem to stop re-reading parts of it. Here’s one of my favorites, which takes place during a casting call for a movie:

“Ma’am, are you all right?”

She opened her eyes to see the sandwich girl standing in front of her holding a white Styrofoam carton in her hand. She looked concerned, an expression that clashed strangely with her tattooed arms but not with her delicate features and blue eyes. Sabrina smiled but it felt like a grimace. “Sure. I’m fine. Just looking for someone who can read.” Without thinking, she handed the girl the paper. “You’d think that would be easy enough, wouldn’t you?”

The girl looked at the paper. Her eye fell on a passage and she read, her voice clear and well inflected, “I think you might do something better with the time than waste it in asking riddles with no answers.”

Sabrina sat up straighter. She didn’t have to look at the paper. “If you knew Time as well as I do, you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.”

The girl backed up a step. “I don’t know what you mean.”

That’s it. The perfect combination of confusion and irritation. A harder edge than most people would take with Alice. Sabrina stood. “Of course you don’t. I dare say you’ve never even spoken with Time.”

The girl gave her a hooded glare of contempt. “Perhaps not. But I know I have to beat Time when I learn music.”

The others had turned by now, their attention caught by the unexpected little drama taking place. Ignoring them, Sabrina stood and waved a hand in the air. “Ah, that accounts for it. He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o’clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: you’d only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!”

The girl, who Sabrina couldn’t help but think of as her Alice now, shook her head, “That would be grand, certainly. But then—I shouldn’t be hungry for it, you know.”

“Not at first, perhaps.” Sabrina’s mouth curved in an almost seductive way and she took a step closer to the girl, lowering her voice in an intimate way. “But you could keep it to half-past one as long as you liked.”

This was the moment of truth, and Sabrina’s newfound Alice didn’t fail her. Her expression changed from irritation to an odd mix of disgust and hope. She held it for just a second, then laughed, dropping out of character. “That was fun!”

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An abracadabrangle for today

The origin of the word “Abracadabra” is intriguing. In the second century it was recommended that those suffering from serious diseases wear an amulet with an “abracadabrangle” or Abracadabra cone. In other words, the word “Abracadabra” written over and over with the last letter left off. This would, supposedly, make the disease go away.

Imagine living in an age before any real medicine or medical care. When disease and infection were rampant and hope was dim. Magic must have seemed like the only hope to those who suffered. Imagine writing the magic word you’d been given and wrapping it tightly in linen to tie around your neck with a rough bit of thread. Worth a try, right?

And now? What place does such snake oil have in our culture today? Think about all the ails of the world that we cannot, individually, heal. Those who suffer from hunger and fear and loss. Undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. Cruelty and murder in the names of religion or culture or desperation.

If there were a magical charm, wouldn’t it be worth a try?

ABRACADABRA

ABRACADABR

ABRACADAB

ABRACADA

ABRACAD

ABRACA

ABRAC

ABRA

ABR

AB

A

Movie Magic Contest!

Leave a comment on any post on this blog telling me about a time you experienced magic for a chance to win a bottle of the magic-inspired perfume I created on Waft.com and a copy of Movie Magic. Contest ends October 28, 2017 and winner will be announced at 10 a.m. Eastern October 31, 2017 on this blog as part of my release day festivities for Movie Magic. Entrants should check this blog for details on how to provide me with a shipping address in case they win.

 

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Abracadabra: Share to win. I’ll start us off.

So the response to my charming giveaway is underwhelming at best, but I shall plug faithfully on. I really want to give away my charmingly romantic perfume and my latest book in the Sleight of Hand series, so I invite you again to share a moment when you saw magic. And to kick it off, I’ll share my most recent experience with magic with you now.

I just got back from a trip to Germany, and on the last day as my tour group companions and I wearily boarded the bus for a trip through the Black Forest to our hotel beyond Heidelberg, magic (in spite of the whole Black Forest thing) was the last thing I expected.

In this respect, I was not, at first, disappointed. The Black Forest was beautiful with trees donning their fall colors and all, but there was nothing especially mysterious or fairytale-like about the home of the Grimm brothers. No magic. Lovely farms and plenty of gorgeous landscapes which I snapped pictures of through the windows of the bus, though.

Black Forest

The Black Forest was beautiful but prosaic. At first.

I’d stopped snapping pictures through my window, however, as we came around a curve, and was gazing dreamily (half asleep) through the window on the other side of the bus when I saw it. A beautiful valley straight out of a fairytale with little cottages clustered around a church—and a rainbow arching over the whole thing. I blinked. Was that really a rainbow? The morning mist had, I thought, long since burned away, so where could the rainbow be emanating from? Perhaps just enough of the mist had lingered a bit longer in the valley, though I couldn’t actually see it from above.

Regardless, it felt like magic, and its restorative influence revived me enough to continue watching the sights go by for another ten or fifteen minutes.

Are you still listening? Because this is where I realized the full significance of the magic I’d seen.

The tour director announced that we’d gone astray. The GPS had guided us wrong and we’d have to turn back, which unfortunately would put us off our schedule. My ears perked up. Did this mean we weren’t even supposed to have passed the fairytale rainbow valley? Could the old magic of the Black Forest have touched even the modern GPS to lead us down a path to show us magic still did exist there?

It had. We passed the valley I’d noticed before. There was no rainbow this time, but I hadn’t actually expected there to be one. That rainbow had been a magical moment in time, a good omen for our group, and omens, once seen, may fade.

Now it’s your turn. Our world needs to believe in magic more than ever. We all see it. Sometimes we capture it on film, sometimes just in our memories. But it’s out there, and the more we share it, the better off we all will be.

Leave a comment on any post on this blog telling me about a time you experienced magic for a chance to win a bottle of the magic-inspired perfume I created on Waft.com and a copy of Movie Magic. Contest ends October 28, 2017 and winner will be announced at 10 a.m. Eastern October 31, 2017 on this blog as part of my release day festivities for Movie Magic. Entrants should check this blog for details on how to provide me with a shipping address in case they win.

 

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For Tom

I wrote this on Facebook this morning in memory of Tom Petty and the victims of the Las Vegas massacre. I feel strongly enough about this thought to take a break from my promotion of Movie Magic to share it here, too.

God bless.

I keep thinking about Tom Petty this morning, not just because of his death but because his songs always had a ring of truth to them. My favorite was always “I Won’t Back Down”.

This morning my heart aches not just because the man who helped write the words “I know what’s right, I got just one life” is gone from our lives—out into the great wide open—but also because the interpretation of his words is so highly subjective.

How we choose to spend our one life is up to each individual, and that’s terrifying when you think of the Stephen Paddocks in the world.

You see, I have an idea of what Paddock’s motivations were. I believe he seethed at the news and hated the people who put us here. I believe he sometimes wanted to scream in frustration at the way our country’s liberties and laws were being twisted and skewed. I am fairly certain he felt like I have over the past eleven months. Unlike me, however, I believe he sort of liked feeling that way. Like the old Native American legend says, the wolf you feed is the one that’s strongest. Paddock fed the wolf of hate and he enjoyed seeing it tear the flesh he threw it.

And that’s what has happened to America this year. So many of us (on all sides, to quote our president) have fed the wolf of hate and now we’re spewing pus out over the world. Blame whoever you want—politicians, media, the system that has failed us—but it’s us that the blame lands on in the end.

Face it. We’re all free falling through this world together, and our choices make the world what it is, so be careful what the choices you make are. I’m choosing to love as best I can. I’m choosing to accept that I can’t change what’s happened and not even most of what will happen. But I can choose what I put into the world. I can choose to feed the wolf of love, even if it won’t always be easy. After all, we all know there ain’t no easy way out.

I guess, like Tom Petty says in another of my favorites, “I’ve started out for God knows where, I guess I’ll know when I get there.” If anyone wants to join me, my hand is held out to you.

RIP Tom Petty
Las Vegas

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