Crud and Halloween and Book Launch…oh my.

Okay, so I decided to release Escape Magic on October 31, the anniversary of Houdini’s death, right? Pretty good idea. Great idea, in fact, except for the fact that I am the mother of three, two of whom are still young enough to trick-or-treat on Halloween. Which means costumes and candy and, well, you know. And that would not be enough to keep me from launching Escape Magic properly, so I went ahead with it, and came nose-to-nose with something that did keep me from doing it up right.

The crud.

Whether it’s the flu or a bad cold or what, I don’t know, but it has totally sapped my energy. I haven’t tweeted about Escape Magic properly, and I promised some neat Houdini facts on here that I haven’t organized in my brain well enough to write. Whatever it is, the crud sucks.

The fact is, there are some things I have to keep doing in spite of everything. And Escape Magic would be right up there if this hadn’t been such a busy week. But it has and I have no energy left for Twitter or Facebook or even my blog. In fact, I’m going back to bed as soon as I finish this post.

But before I do, I wanted to announce that beginning Monday I’m going to do a week-long celebration of Magic right here on my blog. There’ll be giveaways and balloons and champagne—all right, the balloons and champagne will be imaginary, but the giveaways won’t. I’ve collected a number of cool magic tricks over the past year or so and some very pretty decks of cards. And by next week I should have hard copies of Escape Magic to giveaway (I already have some copies of Close Up Magic). And if all that doesn’t appeal, I’m also going to give away some $5 Amazon gift cards, good to buy anything you want on Amazon (including any of my books–you could probably get more than one of my ebooks!).

So that said, remember Escape Magic is for sale NOW at only 99 cents for the Kindle ($6 or so for the paperback version). If you buy it and love it, leave me a review! I could use a pick-me-up.

Lady Lydia Fires Back: Her Interview with Me!

So today I celebrate the release of ESCAPE MAGIC, Book 2 in the Sleight of Hand series. Just for your reference, you can BUY IT NOW HERE. To sweeten the deal (and hopefully get you hooked), I decided to make CLOSE UP MAGIC free today only (GET IT WHILE IT’S HOT). And of course, I’ll be awarding prizes to commenters here and over on my Sleight of Hand Facebook page. But then I had to figure a good way to REALLY celebrate, and I figured, why not invite Lady Lydia, the heroine of ESCAPE MAGIC, into my office to interview ME?

I’ve never done it before, but if you’ll take a moment and step into my imagination, I’ll do it now.

She’s sitting here now, behind my desk, of course. I’m in the easy chair because Lady Lydia’s always in control. Well, almost always. Except where Tony Hawkins is concerned, of course.

LADY LYDIA: I thought I was conducting this interview.

MGF: Of course you are. You’re my guest.

LADY LYDIA: Good. Because I want to know who you are and why you think you’re qualified to tell my story. How long have you been writing?

MGF: I started writing stories when I was in the first or second grade. I still remember my mother telling me that someday I might be an author, and I decided right then that I wanted nothing more. Of course, I got sidetracked into the whole journalism thing, which wasn’t really for me, and then I got my library science degree, and that was a little more my style…

LADY LYDIA: That’s not what I meant. How long have you been writing romance?

MGF: Oh. Well, if you want to be specific about it—

LADY LYDIA: I do.

MGF: Well, I guess, officially, about four years? My first romance novel, SECRETS OF THE LOTUS, was published in 2010, but I know I’d been writing romance a while before that. In fact, most of my more successful short stories and flash fiction were women’s fiction. I know so many brave and courageous women, and they never cease to inspire me.

LADY LYDIA: How many novels have you written?

MGF: I’ve written five novels that fit into contemporary romance or women’s fiction, and one coming-of-age novel. And Escape Magic is my first novella.

LADY LYDIA: Which makes me wonder…how come Tony and I didn’t get a full-length novel?

MGF: I could tell you that it’s because your story fit nicely into the novella box, but the truth is, I wanted to experiment with a different format. I’ve written short stories and I’ve written novels, but I’ve never tried to make a story fit into fifteen to twenty thousand words with a complete story arc and conflict and everything.

LADY LYDIA: Conflict? What conflict?

MGF: Your conflict and Tony’s were both internal. They come from different sources, but they boil down to fear.

LADY LYDIA: I’m not afraid of anything. But moving on. Why on earth did you decide to write about magic?

MGF: If I had a penny for every time I’d been asked that question…well, I’d have a handful of pennies, anyway. I love magic. I believe in magic, and stage magic is, to me, just an extension of that. I love that I can watch a really good magician and never see the trick. Of course, even a mediocre magician has a pretty good chance at fooling me because I don’t WANT to see the trick. I want them to help me believe. That is the magic.

LADY LYDIA: And that’s all sweetness and light, but escapology is a whole different ballgame. It verges on revealing some tricks of magic.

MGF: Not if it’s done right by a good magician. Like you.

LADY LYDIA: I can’t be sweet-talked. Well, maybe a little bit. Finally, you’ve been calling ESCAPE MAGIC “the anti-50 shades bondage romance”. Is that really how you see it?

MGF: I didn’t set out to write it like that, but, yeah. I do. I mean, you and Tony definitely have a little fun with a certain silk scarf, but you know all the tricks of escapology, so that empowers you to a degree that I’ve never seen in a bondage romance. In fact, there’s no dominant or submissive, just a meeting of equals. Ahem. So to speak.

LADY LYDIA: Yes, well, speaking of silk scarves…I should probably be getting back to Tony now. Not to spoil the ending of the book, but your readers know it’s got an HEA.

MGF: I understand, and yes they do, but one question before you go, Lydia. Do you think you and Tony really have an HEA (happy ever after) to look forward to?

LADY LYDIA: Well, we have just as much chance at one at the end of our book as Stacey and Andre had at the end of CLOSE UP MAGIC. And you saw how they ended up in ESCAPE MAGIC. Maybe you’ll give everyone a hint at our fate in Book 3 of Sleight of Hand, huh?

MGF: Maybe so.

And she’s off, back to Vegas to practice for her show and work on her relationship with Tony (hopefully with a little bit of play, too). But I imagine if any of you have a comment or question for her (or me), she’d be happy to pop back in, especially since, in my imagination, she can get from Vegas to NC in the snap of my fingers. So leave us a comment below and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a fabulous prize!

Escape Magic is only one week away! Enjoy an excerpt NOW!

So I realized today that I can now start a one-week countdown to the release of Escape Magic, the novella that is book 2 of my Sleight of Hand series, and I got really excited! I actually love this book. The characters are fun, the storyline is fun, and the ending…well, it wouldn’t be a romance if it didn’t have a happy ever after, would it? Plus, I got to revisit Stacey and Andre from Book 1, Close Up Magic, and there’s even a glimpse of my tragic hero from Book 3, Island Magic (see if you can spot him!).

Next week you’ll be able to purchase Escape Magic for 99 cents for the Kindle or in paperback (can’t remember how much, but it’s less than my others because it IS a novella). Which means short. Both paperback and Kindle versions include the first chapter of Close Up Magic, just in case you missed it. And, for a limited time, Close Up Magic is only 99 cents for Kindle, so if you want to read Book 1 first, get it right away!

But for now, I thought I’d give you a little taste of why I love this little book. For your exclusive reading pleasure, here’s an excerpt from Escape Magic:

Lydia was not easy to find. Tony finally located her in a knot of cheering men. 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.”

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.”

He gave her a suspicious look. “Are you drunk?”

“Probably not nearly enough.” Her voice sounded clear, but her words made him uncertain.

“Well, I’m not playing, and neither are any of you.” He glared around at the others in the group as he took Lydia’s arm and half helped, half lifted her off the table. “You’re not messing up my brother’s wedding day this way. And Phil, were you even invited?”

“I figured my invitation got lost in the mail.” Phil grinned toothily.

Tony understood. Dear God, there but for your grace… He stopped himself. “Get out. Quietly. And the rest of you should call it a night, too, probably.” He gave them all a scathing glare then turned away, pulling Lydia along with him. “Stupid sons of bitches. And what the hell, Lydia? I thought you had better sense.”

They were in the lobby by this point and she yanked her arm away from his grasp, turning to glare at him. “What’s your damage? I wasn’t doing anything wrong. It was just a little fun.”

“A little fun that looked like it was well on its way to being a gang rape.”

“It was no such thing. You’re projecting.” She glared at him, her hands on her hips.

“Projecting what? Disgust?” He faced her.

Just then, a door opened to the side and a couple came out. Lydia’s head swiveled to watch them and they both ducked, half hiding their faces. Tony frowned at the cloakroom door as it swung closed behind them. “You’re joking.”

She chortled. “Nope. Looks like they were having a little fun, too. C’mon.”

“What?” He held back as she grabbed his hand and started that way.

“Come on.” She tugged at his hand. “If they’ve just come out, it’s available. Let’s go.” She grinned, waggling her eyebrows at him. “I’ll show you what you were projecting. You can’t tell me you don’t want to.”

Her words brought on a surge of unexpected desire. “Jesus.” He hesitated a second more. Why the hell am I hesitating? He let her pull him in the door and shut it behind him.

Writing the Anti-50 Shades Bondage Romance

No offense intended to E.L. James or those who thoroughly enjoyed the erotic fanaticism that swept our great nation with 50 Shades of Grey and its sequels, but when I set out to write ESCAPE MAGIC, the second in my Sleight of Hand series, I knew it might be difficult to avoid comparison. After all, my main female character is young, beautiful and into bondage…on the stage, no less.

No, I haven’t slipped into erotica here, although ESCAPE MAGIC does contain the hottest sex scene I’ve written so far. (Consider that both warning and promise!) In fact, I think I’m still okay calling this a sweet romance, although I’ll be interested to find out what reviewers think. In point of fact, my heroine is a strong, capable, escape magician who just might be more ready to fall in love than she thinks…with the right man.

Here’s the blurb for ESCAPE MAGIC, coming October 31!

For every lock, there is a key…

Escape magician Lady Lydia can pick any lock, untie any knot, free herself from any trunk of doom. She’s spent years perfecting her brand of escapology, and she’s now poised for success with a Las Vegas show and growing popularity. She’s right where she wants to be, and she’s determined not to fall into any trap.

Tony Hawkins has spent the past three years overcoming his addictions to drugs and alcohol. Now he’s back where it all started. Tony’s stronger than he’s ever been, more in control than he ever thought he could be. But the moment he sees Lydia again, he fears he could lose himself in yet another addiction.

Surrounded by magic, magicians and a glamorous Vegas wedding, Escape Magic is a story about forgetting your fear and finding your faith…even if it means taking a leap you never counted on.

Join me here on my blog for an all-day celebration of the release of ESCAPE MAGIC and the life of Harry Houdini, the greatest escape magician of all time. There’ll be prizes and fun facts and maybe a special surprise, if I can work it out on short notice!