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.

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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.

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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.

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Release Day Warning: Amazon is a no go!

Sadly, Becoming Magic is NOT up in the Kindle store in spite of everything having been done right by me. I’ve sent them a message and hopefully it’ll be fixed within 24 hours. In the meantime, I’m sending everyone to Smashwords who have a lovely big sale going on in which ALL of my other books have a 100% off coupon (SS100) for the month of July only. And Becoming Magic is only $2.99, so you could catch up on all the Sleight of Hand books for the single price of $2.99—who wouldn’t want to do that? Check it out here: Smashwords Summer Sale!

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Happy Birthday, Becoming Magic! Time for a new kind of romance.

pile of covered books

I pray I am not shouting into the whirlwind of too many voices this time. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Happy birthday to my newest baby, Becoming Magic! It’s high time for this book. In a world with so much denigration of women, it’s past time for the genre of books most heavily written by women to honor what women really are.

We are powerful.

We are beautiful.

We are creative.

We are romantic.

We are sexy.

We are strong.

Does anyone want to deny any of the above? As a member of the “lesser” sex, I can say honestly that the only reason I can see that we were ever called that is so men can make us think less of ourselves. We’ve been victims long enough. It’s time to rise up and recognize the men who actually appreciate what women really are.

They are equal partners.

They are not afraid of us.

They are willing to treat women as equals.

They are romantic.

They are sexy.

They are strong.

Please notice that I didn’t say they are dukes or melancholy or macho or sadists. All except the last could, possibly, be part of who they are, but as women, it’s time to defy the melancholy, macho, duke hero who practices S&M. We know what we want, and it doesn’t include rape.

That’s what a new kind of romance is all about. Please try out my new kind of romance, Becoming Magic. You can find the first chapter here. Read it. If you enjoy it, download the whole book at your favorite ebook retailer. The paperback version should be available soon.

Read it.

And then tell me what you think.

Dear God, may this book please not be lost in the shuffle of many. May it not be caught up in a whirlwind of other voices that drown it out. May it please make it to the eyes of the readers who need it. In your name I pray, Amen.

Love,

Michelle

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One Day (!!!) to Becoming Magic: Why do I write about love?

IMG_3576Just one more day to the release of Becoming Magic. My fourteenth—if I’m counting right—novel. All of them, to one degree or another, about love and the importance of love in life.

As a child, I wrote fairy tales, dreamed of dancing with a handsome prince and living happily ever after. I peopled my daydreams with heroes and heroines from the books I read nonstop. They weren’t all romances that I read, either. Mysteries, science fiction, fantasy—they all had romance in them, I realized. Or they could have. Sometimes I rewrote those stories in my mind so they went the way I wanted them to.

So I guess I have always been fascinated by love. Love has great power that has nothing to do with paper valentine hearts and fat cupids. Love can rule the world if we let it. Or it can destroy lives.

I know, of course, that love stories don’t always end well. Maybe that’s why I write romances. I want that happily ever after, not just for me, but for everyone. So, if you’re struggling in life and are lonely, it’s sort of my letter of encouragement to you. Maybe you haven’t found love yet, but I’m rooting for you.

Love,

Michelle

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Two Days to Becoming Magic: A Salute to Just Journalists

assorted wooden alphabets inside the crate

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

It’s just two days to the release of my new romance, Becoming Magic—and I can’t seem to stop thinking about The Capital Gazette‘s dead.

This probably wasn’t considered a mass shooting. A mass shooting, I think, is defined as ten or more victims. There were only five in Annapolis yesterday.

Just five people who didn’t get up and go to work this morning. Because yesterday a man decided it was okay to take a shotgun into their office and shoot them.

This is not a very magical way of thinking.

This is not romantic at all.

This is the life we’re now living.

Somewhere along the timeline of my life it became somehow okay to solve your problems by picking up a gun and shooting the people who you see as causing it. How did we get here?

Some say we need to go back to God.

Some say we’ve lost our common decency. Those people may be right because I can’t help but think that yesterday there was a certain dismissive attitude about the five dead people. I heard the whisper of common conception as plainly as if someone were standing behind me shouting it into my ear.

They were just journalists.

Just journalists. I went to journalism school. I worked on small newspapers in both North Carolina and Virginia. I remember getting up in the morning to drive an hour to the small newspaper I worked at and feeling like I was the luckiest person alive to have gotten a job doing something I loved doing. I loved writing the news in that tiny town. I loved helping with the layout and typesetting and taking photos of people’s kids playing soccer and even—a couple of times—driving all over the back country of North Carolina delivering the papers.

So I was just a journalist, too.

I wasn’t even that great at it, and the hours were terrible, and I got paid next to nothing. But I was proud to have a press pass and to work to uphold the basic principles of journalism.

I imagine those journalists at The Capital Gazette felt the same way.

Just journalism is nothing to sneeze at, fellow citizens. Just journalism is all that holds those in power in check. Just journalism holds a light of truth on the unethical. Just journalism verifies and monitors and maintains independence.

And all too often, just journalism suffers because of it.

I apologize for the length of this stream of consciousness column. I encourage you to read up about the victims of yesterday’s shooting. They were just journalists and I salute them.

Oh yeah, and buy my book, on sale July 1.

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