Category Archives: Movie Magic

Facing fear of publishing (with excerpt from Movie Magic)

In January I made the usual New Year’s resolutions: eat healthier, exercise more, etc. But I also made a resolution I had never made before. Fight fear.

Fear has held me back my entire life. I’m a timid person by nature, though I’ve overcome much of that through the love of my family. Yet still, I have more than my share of phobias. Spiders, stage fright, dentists (that’s a big one).

I haven’t overcome these phobias, but I have forced myself to face them. Just last week I smashed a spider that had my daughter cornered. In a gesture at fighting off my general timidity, I recently took the opportunity to travel with my son to Germany. And I tried out for and got a bit part in our local theater’s production of “A Christmas Carol”. So, yeah, I’m working on it.

And this morning, I went to the dentist for the first time in…a while. My teeth are still sore. Like everything, I began to draw a parallel between sore teeth and publishing a book.

When you write a novel, you bare a part of your soul, and the more covering you can pull away (just like the dental hygienist did to my teeth this morning), the better your writing will be. And just like my teeth, which are now sore and more exposed to temperature changes, so the writer’s soul becomes exposed to critics.

The temptation is to keep part of the soul covered. A thin veil. Remove yourself from the story and tell yourself it’s the characters’ story you’re telling. And while this is true to a point, the truth is, the writer is in every story she tells. And once that story is published, the writer is exposed. Perhaps this is why Emily Dickinson published less than a dozen poems in her lifetime. So much of her soul exposed through her poems might have been too much for her to bear.

So publishing is a leap of faith in our own work and our own souls. It might be ignored or disliked or even loved, but it’s bound to be painful in one way or another. With that thought in mind, I present a taste of my soul in the form of an excerpt from Movie Magic:

“What’ll it be, Cowboy?” Her eyes flickered over him in a just slightly less than shameless fashion.

“What would you recommend, Gypsy?”

The woman looked pleased that he remembered her name. “Depends. Are you just here to drink tonight, Walt, or are you eating?”

“You know I’m not going to pass up the burgers.” He leaned on the bar. “We want beer. Maybe one of those pepper beers you guys are so proud of.”

The woman raised her eyebrows and looked at Sabrina. She nodded, her appraisal obviously satisfactory. “Two ghost brews coming up.” She reached beneath the counter and with a flick of her wrist produced two bottles with a label bearing a picture of an ethereal white spirit sporting a pirate hat. She stopped short of handing it to them. “They’re on the house if you do that trick again.”

“Which trick?” Walt raised his eyebrows, trying to look innocent.

“You know which trick.” She uncapped the beer and set it in front of him.

He glanced at the beer, then back to her. “You got a glass?”

“Better than that. I’ve got a bottle of cheap beer back here. You don’t even have to waste yours.”

“What if it doesn’t work?” He looked anxious.

Sabrina laughed and Gypsy grinned at her. “I like this one. She’s got faith.”

“I kind of like her too.” Walt’s sideways grin warmed Sabrina and she couldn’t help smiling back. Walt tapped the bar. “Bring it on, Gypsy. I’m up to any challenge tonight.”

Gypsy let out a whoop that attracted the attention of everyone in the bar area. By the time she’d set the bottle of beer and a glass in front of Walt, the other patrons were crowding around. Sabrina enjoyed her front row seat as she watched Walt pick up the bottle, unscrew the top and take a swig. Then he upended the bottle on the bar with a flourish, somehow not spilling a drop. The crowd oohed appreciatively, then waited as Walt placed a coaster on the bottom of the upended bottle, flipped it back over the right way, then upended it again over the glass. When nothing happened, he pretended to be confused, peered inside for a second while Sabrina and probably the rest of the crowd held their breath, then held it over the glass again, removed the coaster and tapped the bottom of the bottle, producing a gush of beer into the mug. Walt handed the mug to Gypsy with a bow while everyone applauded.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie Magic, Writing

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie Magic, Writing

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!

Comments Off on Abracadabra: A Facebook Party!

Filed under Movie Magic, Writing

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!”

Comments Off on Abracadabra: When writing is fun.

Filed under Movie Magic, Writing

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.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Movie Magic, Writing

Magic and Love…

I’ve discovered something rather important about magic since I’ve been writing the Sleight of Hand series. It’s harder to believe in magic when you know how it’s done. And to write about magic in the way I do, I had to do a lot of research and some of that included learning how basic tricks are done. I make up most of the magic tricks in my novels, but I have to be able to imagine ways that these tricks could be accomplished if they actually existed, right?

So yeah, I have studied a little magic and watched a lot more. And yet, somehow I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for stage magic, despite the fact that I am now able to at least begin to imagine ways that most tricks could be performed. In fact, if anything, I love the challenge, especially when it’s sleight of hand. I like to try to figure out how I’m being misdirected, and I love when I can’t spot the trick. I love to be left wondering if magic really could exist.

But what does this have to do with love and writing romances?

This is where I wax philosophical. We all know how romantic love works, right?

  • Attraction: you spot that special person and eventually find they’ve spotted you as well.
  • Adoration: you can’t get enough of each other, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
  • Contentment: you’re used to each other, enjoy doing stuff together or just being together.
  • Commitment: whether it’s marriage or living together or just saying you’ll always come back to each other.

And this is where magic and romantic love are very similar: We all know these stages (just as I now know how many magic tricks are performed), but somehow some people are able to make them work and others…aren’t. Boredom sets in instead of contentment or commitment frightens instead of inspiring happiness. Where’s the magic that made everything glow in the first place? What trick enables some to stay together for the long haul while others search endlessly?

The couple married fifty years went through the same initial stages as every other couple, but somehow they made it last. They sit together holding hands while their family celebrates and admires them, leaving us all to wonder: What’s the trick? Where’s the misdirection?

Is it magic?

 

 

Comments Off on Magic and Love…

Filed under Movie Magic, Sleight of Hand, Writing

The one true sentence

Every now and then I come across something in my writing that strikes a chord. It’s a true sentence. Something I know comes from my own heart and experience. I came across one of those today while doing my “itty bitty” editing on Movie Magic. (That’s the editing that looks at all the “itty bitty” things and tries to find anything at all—a word or letter or typo or whatever—that will jolt the reader out of the story. I never catch them all, but I do catch most of them!)

Anyway, at the risk of giving you all a peek into my own heart, here’s the sentence, spoken by my hero, Walt, to the heroine, Sabrina:

“You know, you leave home thinking you’re leaving everything behind, but what you don’t realize is ‘everything’ includes some pretty good stuff too. The stuff you think will always be there. Like your dad taking you fishing or your mom frying potatoes in the fall. Or laying on your back looking up through the branches of the Christmas tree and feeling like every dream you’ve ever had will eventually come true. Because you’re a kid. Just a kid who doesn’t understand that dreams aren’t reality. And if you want to make magic exist for everyone else, you’ve got to give it up for yourself.”

And there it is. I don’t actually remember the moment I wrote that sentence. I probably wrote it two years ago. I do, however, recognize the homesickness that probably went into that paragraph. The very best writing comes from your own heart, but it’s surprisingly difficult to do. I’m glad I managed it here. And I can’t wait to share the rest of Movie Magic with you!

Comments Off on The one true sentence

Filed under Movie Magic, Writing