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!

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!

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!

Blog Tour Winner Announcement!

As you may know, I’ve been touring the web over the past month talking about magic and writing and specifically, Close Up Magic. During the course of that tour, I’ve met some really great people, who’ve commented on my blog posts. Well, today, I get the happy job of awarding a Magic Basket to one of those commenters. The basket includes, among other things, a copy of Magic for Dummies, a mini magic kit and some magic tricks I picked up at Houdini’s Magic Shop in Las Vegas. I’d put up a picture, but I’m actually waiting on a couple of finishing touches to arrive. When they get here, I’ll put it all together and post a picture before I mail it to Rita.

Earlier today with the help of Random.org, I chose commenter Rita Wray as the winner of the magic basket! Congratulations, Rita! I’ll be emailing you in just a few minutes to get your mailing address.

Everybody else, thank you so much for your support during the tour. It meant a lot to hear from readers and potential readers. I’m planning another blog tour for my next book, Saturday Love, which comes out in January. Saturday Love, the sequel to Ducks in a Row, is set in a vineyard in Eastern NC and the heroine is Greek. Hmm. What kind of grand prize could I come up for that? I’m thinking it’ll be yummy!

Review Highlights from this Week

During the course of my blog tour for my contemporary romance Close Up Magic, I asked for reviews as well as traditional blog stops. When I did this, I knew there were no guarantees. In fact, at the time I booked my tour, very few people other than me had actually read Close Up Magic. But I believed in it enough to go ahead and do it.

Well, this week, I braced myself as the reviews started rolling in. Five brave reviewers took a stand and offered me their opinion on my book. Thankfully, they were positive, overall, and I drew a breath of relief. Here are the highlights:

“We have all read those books where the girl is infatuated with the guy, they both have been screwed over by someone close to them and they have trust issues. But what Michelle Garren Flye has done that not many authors are capable of is, she had created incredible characters with such depth that they evoke such true emotion from the reader that you find yourself yelling at your kindle even when you knew it was going to happen.” —We Love Kink

“Michelle Garren Flye is a wizard with words and I completely enjoyed her voice. Also, I always worry about self-published books, but this one was well edited and had no overt errors. If you love fun, sweet romances with a hero you’ll fall for just as hard as the heroine does, then I recommend Close Up Magic.” —Long and Short Reviews

Ahem, a short note here. I can’t help but point out the “wizard with words” thing. Seriously, that may be the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten on my writing! You’re all going to get really tired of that “wizard with words” thing, I think. Especially if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

“It was hard for me to pick one genre for this story. It’s definitely a contemporary romance, but it leaves just a hint of magic, just a bit of imagination which makes me believe that it is a bit of a fantasy book too. You aren’t sure if it’s saying that magic is real or not, but I can tell you that the threads of story and character were woven together..dare I say it…magically 🙂 and I really enjoyed reading it.” —Unabridged Andra

“Ms. Flye is a new author to me and I can’t get over how well written Close Up Magic was for me. The characters had depth to them, the setting was perfect and even the secondary characters were fleshed out. Also, even though I was “reading” the magic tricks, I could picture them in my mind. Great job.” —Harlie’s Books

Another note: I really, really love a good magic show, so obviously I wanted to give my reader a little taste of what it’s like to be at one, and this review confirmed I accomplished that. I’m so glad it worked, and I hope to be a well-known author to Harlie before long. 🙂

“The author has a great way with words, painting a picture so clear I could see the scenes in my mind like a movie. The characters are well drawn and three dimensional – so much so, I loved some and hated some intensely. I was so invested in the well-being of those I enjoyed I wanted to smack those I didn’t, who were interfering with the HEA.” —Straight from the Library

Now, the course of my relationship with reviewers has not always been this smooth, so I’m still waiting for the fly to land in my chocolate pudding. However, I learn so much from competent, honest reviewers, whether what they tell is positive or negative, I’m still looking for more reviews of Close Up Magic. If you’re a reviewer who’d like to check out a copy of Close Up Magic, contact me at michellegflye at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to provide you a copy for your Kindle. And if you’re a reviewer who’s already checked out Close Up Magic and would be interested in reviewing one of my other books, let me know that too.

Thanks to all my book reviewers, and all the other hosts of my blog tour! Tomorrow I’ll be awarding a magic basket to one randomly drawn commenter from the tour and a $20 gift card to one of my hosts (again, randomly chosen)! So check back tomorrow afternoon when I’ve had a chance to compile my list and consult Random.org for the winners. 🙂

Join me June 1 for the Close Up Magic Release Day celebration!: What’s magic to YOU?

Join me June 1 for Close Up Magic’s official release day celebration! It’ll be magic and books and magic books and…LAS VEGAS!!!…all day long. I’ll be posting pictures of me in magical Las Vegas locations all day on June 1. You’ll be able to find me on Facebook, Twitter and right here! Best of all, I want you to be part of the action. I’ve got a list of locations I want to visit in Las Vegas, but I want you to help me out. What about Vegas is magic to YOU? Is it the magicians? The casinos? The over-the-top architecture of places of like Caesar’s Palace and The Venetian? Leave me your suggestions of the best places to use as a backdrop for a picture of me holding Close Up Magic and I’ll do my very best to get there. Plus, if you suggest a place for me to go, I’ll enter you to win a $20 Amazon gift card that you can magically transform into merchandise from Amazon!

I will be posting on my blog all day, but here’s a list of other places where you can find me on June 1:
Twitter
Michelle Garren Flye Facebook Fan Page
Close Up Magic Facebook Fan Page

Look forward to seeing you there!

Musings on Magic Memories and a Few Announcements without Alliteration

I’ve been reading some “how-to” type books about magic and it got me thinking. When did I really get interested in magic? It feels like I’ve always been fascinated by magical things, and I can’t ever pass up a magic show, whether it’s on the corner of a street fair or at a birthday party or in Las Vegas. If somebody wants to get my attention, they just need to whip out a pack of cards and tell me to pick one.

But when did it all begin? Well, I’ve mentioned the magic show my mother took me to way back when I was a little girl. I was probably about five or so, because the memory is very dim, as if most of the lights are out in that particular room of my memory attic. I remember bits and pieces of the show. I think he may have pulled some animal or other out of a hat…maybe a rabbit, maybe a dove. I know I remember the rings because they glittered and fascinated me. But the best–and worst–part of the show was the end.

All the little kids had been told to pick a carpet square to sit on in the front of the audience. Normally I was a timid thing that wouldn’t have wanted to leave my mother’s side, but I had done it for this show. I wanted to see the magician and his beautiful assistant up close. I think the carpet square I selected was tiger striped, but my memory may have added that. I know I was sitting stage left.

For the finale, the magician announced one of us was sitting on a magic carpet and his assistant would come down and get us and help us make the carpet fly. Of course this was very exciting to a room full of children. Who was the lucky one? To my childish amazement, the assistant came directly to me, led me onto the stage and handed me over to the magician.

He probably asked me some questions. I can’t really remember. I’m sure he asked my name and how old I was. I think he asked me if I wanted to fly. I do remember he lifted me onto a carpeted table and told me to sit very still and close my eyes. And not to open my eyes until he told me I could. Of course I obeyed. I was no rebel. I’d been taught to behave myself and listen to adults. Of course, if I’d opened my eyes, I might never have believed in magic again, because I probably would have seen the trick.

And that’s the real magic I remember from that day. Of the fifty or so kids in the audience, how did he and/or his assistant know to pick me? I might have been the only child out there too timid to do anything other than what the adults told her to. Most kids would peek. Most kids would open their eyes unless you duct-taped them shut. My daughter would. But I would never have thought to do such a thing, and so I sat still, eyes tight shut while I heard the audience ooh and aah and clap. And then the magician, smiling in triumph no doubt, helped me down and told me to take a bow.

That’s not just my favorite magic memory. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories, and it’s definitely the beginning of my lifelong love for magic.

On to the announcements.

You may notice some slight changes to my blog. On the right side of your screen, you’ll see a lovely new JPEG announcing my virtual book tour in June. Watch this space for my blog tour engagements. I’ll get them up soon.

Also, I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be hosting fellow romance author Donna Steele, who’ll be discussing her newest release and writing and whatever else she takes a mind to this Friday. Meanwhile, I plan to insinuate myself into her blog over at SteeleStories.com and blab about magic and Close Up Magic and whatever I can get anyone to listen to. Hope you’ll check in both places and say hey!

Finally, a reminder! You can still enter to win the Kindle Paperwhite. Enter as often as you like. You can enter by tweeting about Close Up Magic and tagging me (@michellegflye), liking the Close Up Magic Facebook Page, posting about Close Up Magic on your Facebook page and tagging me or the Close Up Magic Facebook Page, blogging about Close Up Magic…etc. I’m doing my best to catch every entry, but go ahead and make it hard for me! I like a challenge.

Having Fun With Magic…Wanna Join Me? Contest!

Dedication page of Close Up Magic

Dedication page of Close Up Magic


As I mentioned earlier, for the next couple of months, I’ll be tweeting magic, blogging magic, posting on Facebook about magic and generally having lots of fun. And I want you to join in the fun.

I’ve decided to give away a Kindle Paperwhite on June 1 to celebrate the publication of Close Up Magic. To sweeten the deal, I’ll also gift you my books Weeds and Flowers and Ducks in a Row, both of which have very good reviews on Amazon. If you’d like to enter, here’s how to do it:

1. Leave me a comment here or on one of my other magic-related posts.
2. Like Close Up Magic on Facebook. (If you’ve already done this, you’re automatically entered.)
3. Tweet about Close Up Magic and tag me @michellegflye.
4. Join me on one of my guest posts between now and June 1 (I have four lined up and I’ll announce them later on).
5. Post on Facebook about Close Up Magic and tag me.
6. Mention Close Up Magic on your blog and email me a link at michellegflye at gmail dot com.

You can enter as many times as you like. The point is, I love talking to people, and this should be a great conversation starter!

I’ve already been hard at work promoting Close Up Magic, although my silence over here might seem to indicate otherwise. You see, while researching Close Up Magic, I accumulated a lot of unusable but fascinating data. And I’ve decided to put it to work. Everyday I post a little tidbit of the history of magic over on the Facebook fan page I made for Close Up Magic. For instance, just this morning, I posted about the first magician to perform the Sawing a Woman in Half illusion. Don’t know? Head on over and find out: Close Up Magic Fan Page. And tell your friends!

You see, writing Close Up Magic was so much fun, I figure promoting it should be too. It’s all bringing back to me that original childhood excitement I felt when I saw my first magician at the age of five and he made me fly on a magic carpet. I had a string of magic sets as a child. Each time I got one, I was certain I could become the most famous woman magician of all time (more about women’s place in magic on my Facebook page this week). Of course, that never materialized. I always turned to a book to read or a story to write, but, hey, it was fun while it lasted, right? And maybe this is my contribution to the world of magic.