I love interviews.

Just for the record. In case you were wondering if you could ask me questions. Because I actually love questions. Even my kids can only wear me down after asking the same question about ten times.

Seriously, though, interviews are fun. Like writing but you don’t have to come up with the idea yourself. I’ve done several interviews on my blog tour for Becoming Magic, and I’ve enjoyed all of them. Today I’m at the lovely Teresa Noel’s blog for another interview. You can find it here: T’s Stuff Interview.

One of the questions Teresa asked me was about my favorite part of the book. I had to think about it, and, I admit, I considered many different parts. I finally settled on one, but I won’t spoil it here. Go check out the interview!

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Blog Tours: The Why and Where I am Today

In my first journalism class, I learned about the who, what, when, where, why and how. Today I kicked off my umpteenth blog tour for my fourteenth (?I think?) book. So who is me, what is a blog tour, when is now and how is through Goddess Fish, a blog tour company I’ve worked with successfully before.

Why is a little tougher. Why do blog tours? I already blog. Sometimes I neglect my own blog, so why write guest posts and interviews for someone else’s blog? Why pay a third party to set it up? Simple. Hope.

Hope that somebody who reads these blogs will want to read my book. Hope that they’ll love it enough to tell ten friends and at least five of those friends will love it enough to tell ten more. And so on.

Hope springs eternal in the breast of every born writer. We are made of hope or we wouldn’t keep writing. We exist on hope because we know our writing is never going to support us. We live for hope because without it, there is nothing.

Today, I hope you’ll join me at Edgar’s Books for an interview in which I speak about what makes Becoming Magic different from everything else I’ve written and from much of what is available in the romance market these days. I also reveal what my first reaction is to a bad review. And why I hope I keep getting them.

Find me here: Becoming Magic: Book Tour and Blog Giveaway. Oh yeah, and there is a giveaway to register for, too!

A New Kind of Romance: Changing the soul of romance literature

I just read a wonderful article in The New York Times by Alexandra Alter called “The Changing Face of Romance Novels”. The article addressed how romance novels are slowly changing to more accurately reflect the growing diversity in our world. However, Alter points out that many of the more diverse authors who write diverse romance must turn to alternative publishing outlets to get their books to readers as traditional publishing does not embrace change—at least not right away.

The article got me thinking. More diversity is a wonderful thing. More accurately reflecting the world we live in is invaluable. And yet, that doesn’t address what I see as the core problem in my genre the way my new kind of romance will. You see, though the face of literature definitely needs to change with changing times and audiences, the soul of romance must be addressed as well.

Gustave Flaubert said, “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” If the romance genre continues to explore the darker desires and pitfalls of humanity, is that what we romance authors believe love is all about? Is that what the publishing industry believes?

Isn’t it our duty as artists to illuminate the brighter side of love?

Yes, sex sells. It always has and always will. It sells books and clothes and cars. It sells candy and music. The publishing industry needs to take note, however, that you can’t just give the romance genre a facelift (even if it does need one). In today’s world, however, it is more important than ever to show through the romance genre that sexy does not need to include what women don’t want in their lives—whether that is controlling heroes, discrimination, assault or harassment of any sort.

 

 

Take the Plunge: See beyond the stigma of “self-published”

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How to convince a reader to take that leap of faith into your book? Photo by Oliver Sju00f6stru00f6m on Pexels.com

I get it. I’m old enough to remember vanity presses. I remember the indie-publishing phenomenon of The Christmas BoxRemember how quickly indie publishing grew after Richard Paul Evans’s little treasure was discovered by mainstream publishing? Vanity presses became independent presses and developed into KDP and Smashwords, providing a voice for authors who either can’t make it through the gatekeepers of traditional presses or, like me (I like to think, anyway), lost patience with the hoops you must jump through.

I’ve had three books published by two different traditional publishers. In all three cases, I enjoyed the experience of having professional cover designers, editors and book designers. It was invigorating working on a deadline. But at both publishers, my editors eventually left, putting me back at square one of trying to sell my book to another editor.

I’d rather sell it to you, my readers. But finding you is another process. Gaining your faith is yet another. I’ve been doing this for eight years now. My first book, Secrets of the Lotus, was published by Lyrical Press (now the digital first arm of Kensington Press) on July 5, 2010. I started this blog around then, too. Eight years, fourteen books, and countless blog posts later, I’ve got a few devoted readers. They’re the ones who’ll take the plunge no matter what I put out.

So I better make it good.

I think I’ve managed to improve both my writing and my publishing skills. I edit my own work now, but I have worked with enough professional editors so I have pretty good idea of how to find the holes in my own plots. I put all my manuscripts through a thorough proofreading at least twice by me and I have some beta readers who’ll look over drafts for me, too. I’ve learned a lot about the formatting of both ebooks and print. My self-published books look good now. Clean and pretty with clearly delineated breaks and chapters. And my covers are almost always professionally designed.

Now, I’m working on the marketing. That’s the really tough part. That’s the final push every author—traditional or self—must somehow summon to convince a reader that their book is worth reading. That’s why we query book reviewers and write blogs, why we spend hours writing guest posts for online book tours and tend to all our social media sites from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Goodreads.

It’s all to push you, dear reader, over the edge of a cliff and into the world of our writing.

Go ahead. Jump. If you don’t, you might miss out on the next self-publishing phenomenon.

 

The importance of secondary characters in Becoming Magic

It’s a common misconception that a romance has two characters: hero and heroine. Unless you literally strand those two characters on a deserted island, you must create characters who figure into their daily lives. And unless they work and live in the same place, those secondary characters are going to be different.

I always strive to have secondary characters serve a purpose. I feel like old friends or family members can help reveal something about the main characters’ backstories or character traits that we didn’t already know. For this reason, I brought in Connor’s brother Jeff, the handsome pilot of Connor’s private plane, and Mira, Carole’s cute if a little immature college student sister. I feel like Mira probably serves more of a purpose to the storyline since she’s at first jealous of Carole’s relationship with Connor and later appalled that her sister would leave him. Check out these two short excerpts that illustrate the ways these two characters serve their purpose. First Jeff:

“Forgive my brother, ma’am. Jeff Wallace. The older sibling of the Wallace clan.”

Carole’s jaw dropped. “Oh. Well, that explains some stuff, then.” She felt like an idiot. The two men were very similar in height, build and features. She glanced at Connor. “You might have mentioned that your brother was the pilot.”

“Sorry.” Connor didn’t look at all sorry. “You just seemed so certain of yourself, I didn’t want to disappoint you.” He smiled a little wickedly. “I mean, it’s a shame to disabuse you of the notion that I lose touch with who and what I am whenever I’m offered a bit of Hollywood hospitality.” He turned to his brother. “Sorry, bro. She drank your champagne. You got another glass?”

Carole’s face felt aflame with embarrassment. “Oh my God. I’m so sorry. I—”

“He’s messing with you.” Jeff punched his brother in the arm. “Cut it out.” He turned back to Carole. “I never drink when I fly. Of course the champagne was meant for you. He called ahead to arrange it.”

And now Mira:

Mira stood in the doorway. “Better take some jeans and sweaters too. Just in case Connor takes you hiking. I hear he likes to hike.” She spoke casually, but Carole detected a glitter in her eyes. Was that really envy? As long as she could remember, Mira had been the prettier one, the more glam one, the one everyone loved without effort. Carole was smart and decent enough looking, but her little sister outshone her at every turn.

Carole frowned. “What’s up?”

“What do you mean, what’s up?” Mira didn’t meet her eyes.

“I mean you sound all jealous or something. Like I stole your boyfriend. This is work, Mira.”

“Ugh!” Mira threw her hands into the air. “I’m sorry. I just…maybe in a way you are stealing my boyfriend.”

“I was not aware of this thing between you and Connor Wallace,” Carole said solemnly.

Mira’s lips twitched. “Don’t laugh. You go to L.A. and be spotted on Connor Wallace’s arm, you’re stealing a lot of girls’ boyfriend. Because it’ll mean he’s off the market.”

“Why on earth would it mean that? He’s dated lots of women.”

“Because you’re the kind of girl a guy dates when he’s ready to settle down.”

Of course, my Sleight of Hand books wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from one of my other magical couples. In this case, Walt and Sabrina from Movie Magic are (slight spoiler alert if you haven’t read their story yet) planning their wedding and working on Connor’s documentary about becoming a magician. In a way, they serve almost parental roles for Carole, who has been Walt’s assistant since high school. Here’s just a taste of what they’re doing in the book:

Connor pulled out the linking rings, ready to manipulate them, and paused, his eyes on the engagement ring. “Well, that’s not right.” He pretended to try to get the ring off only to have it caught between two rings. He looked up. “Did somebody lose this?”

The audience tittered, but it had a surprised, anticipatory sound to it. Connor worked the rings again, managing only to get the engagement ring looped over three. He worked until he had managed to get it off all but one. “Finally.” He set the others aside. “I think this ring will only be released into the hands of its rightful owner.” He tossed it up into the air and caught it, the ring still in place. He glanced around, turning to Carole. “Is this yours?” He tossed it to her.

She caught it with pride, holding it up to display the diamond still hanging on.

“It would appear not.” Connor held out a hand and she threw it back, watching as he caught it expertly. He appeared to think. “I have an idea. Maybe I need another magician’s help with this one.” He swung around to Walt and threw the ring to him.

Walt caught it, tossing it back in one fluid motion, then turning to drop to one knee in front of Sabrina. He held up the diamond ring. “No magic is equal to what you’ve done to me. Say you’ll stay in my life forever.”

Tears spilled over onto Sabrina’s cheeks, amazing Carole. She’d never seen Sabrina cry before. But as she held out her hand to let him place the ring on her finger, she could only nod, wordless and obviously happy.

In a very real way, this book—and the whole Sleight of Hand series is about family. It’s a very large family made up of lots of smaller families, but they’re all bound together by a love of magic and each other. And a belief that love is a magic all its own.

First Review of Becoming Magic: 5 Stars on Amazon!

Real reviews mean a lot to authors. Think about that. We actively encourage others to tell us what they really think. And no author I know would ever consider helpful any review that was less than honest, no matter how much it stroked their ego.

With that said, I was thrilled—and relieved—that my first review for Becoming Magic on Amazon was five stars. It comes, full disclosure, from an acquaintance who is a very talented magician and writer, Arjay (R.J.) Lewis. Arjay was the magical consultant on Becoming Magic, and he’s helped me design a magical holiday show for my next book Dickens Magic—plus I’ve read several of his books. So when I read his review of Becoming Magic, it was a little bit like both Stephen and Mac King had combined into one joint force to praise my book. You can read the whole thing here, but here’s the part that meant the most to me:

…Flye boldly takes on a #metoo concept, which not only explains why our heroine is reluctant, but makes understandable the hero’s confusion as to why his advances are being rejected. It was a difficult choice, because in the hands of lesser writer, it could’ve been a cheap and tawdry device. But in Flye’s excellent craftsmanship, it is handled artfully and the reader understands both sides of the conflict.

This book means a lot to me because in a way it marks my own rebirth as a writer. When #metoo came along, I realized I was guilty of perpetuating in my writing what could be seen as dangerous situations for women—in Island Magic, the heroine is actually kidnapped by the hero. Though I’ve never gone for rape fantasies and my only bondage romance (Escape Magic) was actually pretty positive in that the heroine was the escape magician, I’ve sworn off some of the favorite tropes of romances and am striving to rebuild my own corner of the romance genre with more positive heroes, heroines and romantic situations.

Time will be the only thing that will tell if romance readers are willing to accept a new kind of romance. But at least one reviewer thought it worked, and that means a lot.

Becoming Magic Release Day Reflections with Contest

IMG_3805I haven’t spent a great deal of time worrying about the release of Becoming Magic today, in spite of a glitch at Amazon that has prevented the Kindle version from being available. Oh well, that’s life.

No, instead, I’ve been participating in a Facebook moon photography “contest” hosted by a fellow author, Robert Beatty, author of the fantastic Serafina series. I love taking pictures of the moon, so I chimed in with my Juneau Moon, seen at the left.

Photography got me thinking about some of my other favorite things to photograph. My very favorite thing of all to photograph (besides my kids) are flowers. So, since I happen to have some very pretty roses sitting on my kitchen counter, I snapped a pic of one of those and posted it on Facebook. Because, hey, I’m a romance author, right? Red roses are my thing. I’m calling this one Kitchen Rose. (If you look hard at the bottom right corner, you can see breakfast.)

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And of course, no day would be quite complete without taking a picture of my cat. Her name is Calliope, who was the muse of poetry. She posed quite prettily for me with my daughter’s sneakers, but you can tell my floor needs sweeping!

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What’s your favorite thing to photograph? Do you have a favorite photo on your phone right now? Would you like to win a print copy of Becoming Magic? Visit my Facebook page here: Michelle Garren Flye, author and post your favorite picture of the moon, a pretty flower or your pet. I’ll choose my favorite and send you a print copy of Becoming Magic.