So where did Lady Lydia come from, anyway? Escape Magic Free Today!

Escape MagicEbookWhen I started out to write Escape Magic, I knew I wanted my hero to be Tony, brother of Andre in Close Up Magic. Tony’s a much more serious character than his talented magician brother. He’s managed Andre’s career and helped him achieve stardom, but he’s always in the background. Tony struggles with substance abuse issues, which figured heavily into the plot of Close Up Magic, but by the beginning of Escape Magic, he’s got those issues under control and is a much stronger man because of it.

Of course, though Tony has been associated with the magic world for a large portion of his life, he’s not a magician. And my Sleight of Hand books need a magician. So I created Lady Lydia, escape artist. She’s got a past with Tony and Andre. She’s performed with them, and—not being the most honest heroine I’ve ever written—she’s “borrowed” tricks from them. She’s fiery, talented, strong and stubborn. And when she meets the new improved Tony, sparks fly!

I often call this my anti-50 Shades of Grey bondage romance. I mean, hey, my heroine is an escape magician. She’s about as far away from Anastasia as you can get. And Tony, though he is a strong male hero, has a major weakness when it comes to addiction. It frightens him that he could fall back into that same trap again. He needs a strong heroine like Lady Lydia to show him that not all addictions are bad for him.

The one complaint I’ve gotten about this book is that it is too short. It was my first attempt at the novella format. And I truly did feel that I told Lydia and Tony’s story completely in it. Anyway, it’s free today and tomorrow and if you don’t get enough of Lydia and Tony, rest assured, they (and Andre and Stacey!) make an appearance in Island Magic, too!

Time to let go, move on…and give out some prizes!

So my Magic Fun Week Celebration is drawing to a close, and I’m waxing a little nostalgic. It seems like just the other day I gave you a list of some surprising Houdini facts. And remember the time I listed the five female escape magicians who were a little like Lady Lydia? Sigh. How does time fly so fast? Why it might have just been yesterday that we were talking about the greatest escape magic tricks!

But it is time to let go, move on to the next project. It’s waiting on my laptop right now. The edits for Saturday Love, the highly anticipated sequel to Ducks in a Row. But before I do, I want to leave you with this one rather startling statement (and the winners of my magical prizes–I haven’t forgotten):

You are within a mile of an aspiring writer right now.

No joke. There are a lot of us. And by aspiring, I mean a writer who hopes to one day have a bestseller on the shelves. Maybe they’re in the process of writing their first one, maybe they’ve got seven books already floating around out there in the ether. Maybe they have yet to put pen to paper (sounds better than fingertips to keyboard), but they do plan to one day write a book.

My point is, there are a lot of people out there writing books, and some of us are even publishing them. Readers have a lot to choose from, and they’re going to choose a book with twenty to a hundred favorable reviews over a book that has just one. So how do these aspiring writers obtain those reviews?

No clue. But I’m not too proud to beg.

Please, please, please if you’ve read and enjoyed one of my books, leave me a review on Amazon! It might just help the next reader decide if she wants to take a chance on me or go back to her favorite best-selling author.

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

I don’t actually have a chicken dinner to award anyone, but I do have some pretty cool stuff. Without further ado, here are our winners and what they won.

Winners! Richard, Scotch & Soda; Cheryl Rhodes, Linking Rings; C.J. May, Love Me deck; John Hinson, Archangel deck; Sherry Thompson, Escape Magic; Sal, Escape Magic.

Winners! Richard, Scotch & Soda; Cheryl Rhodes, Linking Rings; C.J. May, Love Me deck; John Hinson, Archangel deck; Sherry Thompson, Escape Magic; Sal, Escape Magic.

Thanks to everyone who participated, and also everyone who has given Escape Magic a warm welcome into the world. Escape Magic will remain a cool 99 cents for Kindle, but the special 99 cent price for Close Up Magic for Kindle will expire on Monday. So if you haven’t gotten your copy of Book 1 of my Sleight of Hand series, do it now!

Greatest Escape Magic Tricks and Your Last Chance to Win!

Today I wind up my week-long magic celebration and I figured what better way to do it than by counting down a few of my favorite escape magic tricks. Actually, it’s not really a countdown because they’re just in the order I happened to think of them in, but these are the ones that stuck with me. Maybe you have one of your own that you’d like to add to the list.

1. Houdini’s crate escape. I’ve seen pictures of this one. Houdini shackled in a packing crate that is padlocked, nailed shut and bound with rope before being dropped into a river. Of course, he escaped!

2. David Copperfield’s escape from Alcatraz. It’s like a mini-movie and really just fun to watch. Copperfield uses what’s available (surely not props left there for him) to escape Alcatraz in (spoiler!) the police helicopter!

3. Criss Angel’s “Buried Alive”. Give him his due, it takes a lot of guts to allow yourself to be padlocked in a glass coffin and buried in cement.

4. Dorothy Dietrich straitjacket escape while suspended from a burning rope. Enough said.

5. Kristen Johnson’s Full View Water Torture Cell Escape. Houdini was suspended upside down, but his audience could only see him from the front. Johnson’s audience can see all around, witness her efforts, hold their breath along with her.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment below! Today is the last chance to win one of my fabulous magical prizes. 🙂

My Favorite of Houdini’s Magic Tricks

I’ve always said that half the reason I write about magic is so I can spend hours on Youtube watching magic. And it’s true. I do love watching magic, and if it’s part of my research, then I have a viable excuse, right?

Escape Magic was particularly fun to research because I’ve always been fascinated by Harry Houdini. He’s a legend and you can actually see him perform on Youtube. It’s sort of like he really did find a way to reach out from beyond the grave. Houdini was known for his water escapes, but I think my favorite will always be the suspended straitjacket escape. He would perform this trick outside, sometimes in front of the local newspaper office of whatever town he was performing in. Of course he made headlines, thus generating free publicity for his shows, which then sold out. The pure genius of the marketing strategy is what really gets me, but the ease with which he slipped out of the straitjacket is also pretty impressive. Check it out here: straitjacket escape.

How about you? Do you have a favorite escape magic trick (by Houdini or someone else)? Leave me a comment below for a chance to win a magic trick, special deck of cards, a magic wand or one of my Sleight of Hand books!

And the magic for today…an excerpt!

Yeah, I’ll be back with some more fun magic facts tomorrow, but it’s Wednesday and my brain is starting to feel a little fried. If you missed them, I counted down 10 Intriguing Things I’ve Learned About Houdini and Five Female Escapologists Who MIGHT Have Inspired Lady Lydia. Today, I’m going to let myself off easy and give you three reasons I like to write about magic:

1. Magic is fun. If there’s a good magic show in the area, I’m right there.
2. Magic can be romantic. Handsome magician producing a red rose out of thin air, anyone?
3. Everyone needs to believe. Really, you’ve got to believe in something or life is like an arid plain with nothing growing on it. Whether it’s God or love or aliens or magic, human beings want to believe. Stage magic is just an extension of that.

In the meantime, remember both Close Up Magic and Escape Magic are currently on sale for 99 cents for the Kindle! And if you want to spring for a paperback, those are available, too. And just to get you in the mood, here’s an excerpt from the beginning of Escape Magic:

Chapter 1

It looked real. The bride and groom posed in front of the waterfall, palm trees and beautiful tropical flowers framing them. Her smile was radiant, and her groom couldn’t take his eyes off her. The wedding photographer—the only photographer allowed past the yellow tape barrier that held back the paparazzi—directed them to face each other, and when she tilted her head to look at her husband, it was obvious to anyone within sight that these two were for real. What they had would last.

Of course, not all of it was real. Bride and groom, paparazzi determined to capture something of their happiness in their cameras…those were real. The waterfall and palm trees and lavish surroundings were part of a garden in a climate-controlled, high-end mall outside a Las Vegas casino. But in that moment, it was an oasis of perfection. Maybe it was the solid reality of the love between the two that made it easier to accept the practiced falsity of Vegas.

Tony looked on at the happy couple, and his heart swelled with satisfaction for his brother. Three years and lots of trust-building and soul-searching had passed since Andre met Stacey. If they didn’t have a solid foundation to base a relationship on, Tony felt certain no one did.

“Say, man, you know who’s getting married?”

Tony glanced to his side. A heavyset man in a gold suit with pompadour-style hair and dark gold-rimmed sunglasses stood next to him. He must have ducked under the barrier. Tony shrugged. Didn’t really matter. Andre and Stacey were so happy they wouldn’t mind sharing a little of it… even with an Elvis impersonator. That actually was why they’d chosen Vegas for the wedding. They both loved its unpredictability and unique aura.

Not to mention the fact that they’d met there.

At least something good came out of my failure. Shaking off the feeling of uneasy guilt those memories always brought with them, Tony smiled and gave the beautiful couple by the waterfall a last look. Then he took Elvis by the arm and led him back behind the barrier. “My brother. Andre Hawke. If you don’t mind, though, we’d prefer you watch from back here.”

“Sure, man. No problem.” Elvis watched in silence for a few minutes. “Hawke? Isn’t he that magician fellow? Saw his show once. The one where he pulled her on the stage, I think. Did an amazing card trick with her. And everybody was in tears by the time he was done. Really cute. So he’s marrying her? Finally?” At Tony’s nod, Elvis shook his head, dark hair flopping over his eye, rhinestones catching the glimmer of the mall lights and reflecting back rainbows. “Vegas, man. You never know what’ll happen.”

Tony couldn’t help but grin as the other man melted into the crowd. As he turned back to his brother and sister-in-law, his eyes were caught by a flame-haired, leather-clad figure standing on the upper level of the mall. He paused, frowned, and the truth of Elvis’s words hit him. “Nope. You just never know.”

What do you believe in? Leave me a comment below to enter to win one of the fabulous prizes (all magic-related) I’m giving away this week!

Five Female Escapologists Who Might Have Inspired Lady Lydia

I say “might” because Lady Lydia sprang fully formed from my own head, but in the process of researching escapology, I discovered the field of escapology is mostly dominated by men. However, a few beautiful, brave women have gone before Lydia. Here’s my tribute to them:

1. Dorothy Dietrich. In addition to successfully escaping from a straitjacket while suspended from a burning rope fifteen stories up and no net beneath her, Dietrich is one of the few magicians to successfully perform the bullet catch.

2. Kristen Johnson. Part of the husband and wife team of Ridgeway and Johnson Entertainment Inc., Kristen has mastered the “Full View Water Torture Cell” in addition to many other feats of escapology.

3. Alexanderia the Great. Specializing in water escapes, Alexanderia has been dubbed a “Modern Day Houdini.”

4. Minerva. A contemporary of Houdini’s, Minerva performed throughout the world and was known as the “American Queen of Mystery.”

5. Morgan the Escapist. Known for her 55 Gallon Underwater Challenge in which she escapes from a barrel of icy cold water after being chained, handcuffed and padlocked, Morgan has won awards for her magic.

Do you know of another female escape artist, past or present? Leave me a comment for a chance to win one of the fabulous prizes I’m awarding during Magic Week!

Magic Fun Week Celebration Kick Off! Win a prize!

Today I kick off a week-long celebration of magic, in particular escape magic, in honor of the launch of my novella Escape Magic. Escape Magic is Book 2 of my Sleight of Hand series, in which either the hero or the heroine is a magician, so I’m not going to limit myself to celebrating just escapology. However, I did want to kick off the week with a list of the ten most intriguing things I’ve discovered about Houdini during my research on escapology:

1. Houdini was not an instant success and after years of trying various magic bits and tricks, he actually ran an ad offering to sell all his tricks and equipment for $20. Fortunately, no one took him up on it.

2. Houdini began his career as the greatest escape magician very humbly. He started out by challenging the crowd to present him with a pair of handcuffs he couldn’t get out of. Houdini’s “Challenge Act” quickly became a success and launched his career as an escapologist.

3. Houdini was fascinated with the occult but also dedicated to debunking every “spiritualist” he encountered. Being a magician and a former “spiritualist” himself, he knew all the tricks, would attend seances in disguise, then expose the illusions in his own shows.

4. Magic tricks could not be copyrighted, so Houdini introduced his “Chinese Water Torture Cell” in a one-act play, which he copyrighted, thus preventing other magicians from using the effect.

5. Houdini was one of the first movie stars, having starred in an experimental film in 1901. He later went on to produce, act and in many films through his Houdini Pictures Corporation.

6. Houdini’s interest in water escapes led to his development of a diving suit that a diver could take off quickly in case of emergency.

7. Although a great deal of controversy surrounds the events leading up to Harry Houdini’s death on October 31, 1926, the actual cause of death was peritonitis, brought on by untreated appendicitis.

8. Several days before his death, Houdini is rumored to have been punched in the stomach several times by a university student, who had heard that Houdini could withstand any punch to the abdomen.

9. Houdini and his wife, Bess, had made a pact to try to contact each other from the afterlife. Bess remained true to her husband, holding seances for ten years after his death. Finally, however, she gave up. Seances continue to be held by Houdini afficionados and fans every year on the anniversary of his death.

10. Houdini was buried in a bronze coffin he planned to use in a new underwater effect he was never able to add to his act.

Sources:
Wild About Harry
Harry Houdini Biography
10 Facts About Houdini

Now it’s your turn. What do you know about Harry Houdini? This week I’m awarding prizes to my commenters! These prizes include a pack of Archangels Bicycle playing cards, a pack of Love Me playing cards by artist Curtis Kulig, the famous Magic Rings trick and one of the best coin tricks I actually know the secret to, Scotch & Soda, which I actually purchased at the Houdini Magic Shop in Las Vegas. I also have magic wands and several paperback copies of both Close Up Magic and Escape Magic, although you get either one of those for only 99 cents for the Kindle!