Tag Archives: Amazon gift card

Happy Launch Day, Movie Magic! (Check out the reading at the end…)

It’s October 31, and that means the launch of my new book, Movie Magic. I so enjoyed writing this one, and I’m so hoping you will enjoy reading it.

Today, we celebrate. At the end of the day (about 5 p.m.), I’ll draw names from all my commenters for prizes. Everything from signed copies of Movie Magic to Amazon gift cards. Every comment is eligible, and multiple entries are encouraged.

By the way, Ann Marie was the winner of the special edition Sleight of Hand perfume from Waft.com. I’ll be in touch with her to arrange delivery!

I leave you with this. It’s me, reading from chapter one of Movie Magic. I’m not big on public performances, but I really believe in this book.

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Welcome Nakul Shenoy! And happy birthday, ISLAND MAGIC

Aha! Welcome to party central! It’s the birthday of my new book, Island Magic, and I figured…what better way to celebrate than to have a real live email interview posted on my blog? Nakul Shenoy and I have been twitter buddies since I first started getting seriously interested in magic. He was the first magician to take me seriously, and he’s even read a couple of my books! Now it’s my turn. He has a book about magic coming out, and I thought it’d be a good chance to return the favor. Please help me make him welcome. Also, I’ve decided to give out a $10 Amazon gift card to one random commenter on my blog today, so leave Nakul a question, then beat tracks over to Amazon to buy your copy of Island Magic, if you haven’t already!

~The Interview~

#001_NakulShenoy_ProfileFirst of all, let me be honest, I dont want to know the secrets of my favorite magic tricks. I prefer to believe. Should I read your book?

Indeed, Michelle! I agree. Belief in magic is what keeps many of us going; it inspires us to create effects and presentations that represent ‘real magic’. Anyway, my book is not as much about the tricks, as much as it is about learning to present and perform magic. In many ways the real secrets to creating a magical experience.

This book will serve as a good guide to anybody interested in putting together an effective performance in magic, while also helping them in various ways to improve their confidence, public speaking, and social skills.

You should read my book simply because it is a wonderful thing to be able to amaze and entertain others using magic, and it helps us bring smiles to people’s faces.

Whats the biggest misconception about learning to perform magic?

Good question! The way I see it – and this is based on the numerous interactions I have had over the years – there are two major misconceptions about learning magic.

One, people think magic is performed using hypnosis. That in many ways could be attributed to the mysterious passes and gestures that the magicians perform as part of their act. As romantic as it may sound, hypnotism has really not much to do with the stage magic that we encounter most of the time.

The second misconception is that tricks make magic. Much as this is true, the technical aspects of the trick itself – also called method – has a limited role to play in the performance of magic. A magical performance is embellished with the story, presentation, and premise of the effect; it is this that makes a trick into a miracle. Yet, many of us – including professional magicians – cannot get over the search for the perfect method. Somehow, we can’t get over the belief that learning the secrets of tricks is what makes the best magic.

Whats your best advice for aspiring magicians?

The first, second, and third rule of magic is Practice, Practice, Practice. You really have to internalise the workings and handling of a magic trick, before you can even take it to a rehearsal stage – let alone perform before a live audience.

That aside, the focus of the magician has to be on making magic, magical. As weird as that may sound, in many ways we forget what made us get into magic – that feeling of something being real and amazing – and get too caught up in performing magic tricks, because we can. As far as the aspiring magician remembers to give all the attention to the performance, the presentation that creates the feeling of magic in the audience’s minds, they will create magic, and not just perform a puzzle for the audience to solve.

How do you go about teaching someone to perform magic?

Magic is both an art and a craft. It involves skills that have to be learnt first, then mastered, before they can be crafted together into a charming performance. Much like a musician has to learn and master musical notes and a dancer has to learn and master dance steps, the aspiring magician too has to first concentrate on the basics. Once that step has been crossed comes the performance part, where the focus has to shift on learning and mastering the basics of acting. The words of Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin – the father of modern magic – comes to mind here: the magician is but an actor playing the role of a magician.

Why did you decide to write the Smart Course in Magic?

I took to magic as a 5-year-old kid, fascinated by Mandrake the Magician. I wanted to be Mandrake. In many ways, I still do. I took to seeing any magic show that came my way, as many times as I could. I took to reading anything and everything remotely connected to magic. Somewhere down the line, I found books that dealt with tricks, and later also some that dealt with the performance of magic.

It is just fortuitous that I am where I am today in the world of magic, as I had a lot of things falling into place at the right time – to get the proper guidance, mentorship, and of course friendship. This is linked to a lot of circumstances coming together in the right way – a feat no less magical.

The idea for the Smart Course in Magic came though as I wanted to create a workshop in a book. Not one that taught numerous magic tricks – there are too many already in the market – but one that focused on presenting magic in the way it should be. So in this book, the tricks are incidental; they are taught only in the context of learning a larger concept of magical performance. I do believe I have delivered what I intended with this book.

 

How did you choose mind reading as your specialty in magic?

This came more recently. I was performing stage magic – the conjuring and illusion variety – for about 10 years. Yet somewhere I found that I was going away from my idea of Mandrake The Magician. He did not seem to have a 10-member troupe or a truck load of equipment. That was when I discovered psychological magic or magic of the mind. Dabbling in that allowed me to create an onstage persona of The Mind Reader. And so most of what I do today is limited to the ‘powers’ that I have attributed to that persona.

Have you ever performed other types of magic? Illusion? Sleight of hand?

Yes! I have walked the path, so to say. I began with close up and conjuring magic – mostly the sleight of hand variety. Then I moved to the stage magic – as I found that more fitting to my context, and performed shows with illusions and conjuring effects. As I said earlier, the move to mind reading was my need – to push myself to other realms of magical performance; to entertain audiences in the best way available to me.

Mind reading is very different from other types of magic, but I imagine they use some of the same psychology. How do you see this?

Yes, they are all various genres of magic. And in many ways, the basic rules remain the same. The methods are varied and different, but what makes any type of magic – magic, is the performance of the same. Yet, there is a great difference in the way you are perceived by the audience, basically because of the premise you are performing in and of course the story of the presentation itself. I like it because there is nothing much to hide behind, and it is magical performance at its purest. It is just the audience and you the performer – with minimal focus on props.

Do humans as a whole want to be fooled?

I do have a theory on that, but in this context I would say that we do wish to be entertained. And in the best possible way. Dariel Fitzkee once wrote, “the audience is there to be entertained – entertained by magic” while reminding that magic was only one of the various other modes of entertainment available. This is a truism I hold dear, and remind myself all the time.

If the focus of our performance is to entertain and entertain with magic, then it never matters what the audience is there originally for and with what intent. So again, whether we wish to be fooled or not, I sincerely believe we wish to be entertained.

What is the biggest challenge magicians face today?

Like everything else in life, the digital age is changing things faster than we realise. Television brought along opportunities to take magic to homes, and now the internet has provided the opportunity to take it to everybody in the connected world. Yet, the real joy of magic is in the performance of it – in front of a live audience. And similarly, it is best enjoyed in first person, live. Somehow, in today’s tech world we are losing the charm of the live theatre performances, and this to me is the biggest challenge for the craft and its practitioners.

Okay, you knew I was going to ask. Can you read my mind over the internet?

Haha! Yes, I indeed did. I think it is best that I share that thought offline!

Ha! Get on out of here, magic man. Thanks for stopping by!

If you want to know more about Nakul, check out his bio below:

NAKUL SHENOY is The Mind Reader – an expert magician and hypnotist based in Bangalore, India. A leading corporate speaker and entertainer with unique insights on communication and people behaviour, he travels the world addressing elite audiences drawn from top corporates.

Nakul took to magic at the age of five via his fascination for the comic book ‘Mandrake The Magician’. He performed his first public show at the age of 15, and since then has continued in his self-professed journey to be “a real-life Mandrake”.

Over the last two decades, Nakul has grown to be a sought-after entertainer for Fortune 500 companies and other coveted events, and has performed at venues in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, UK and the USA.

A compulsive reader of books “on every topic under the Sun and beyond,” he haunts Twitter as @nakulshenoy. Nakul’s first book on performance titled ‘Smart Course in Magic’ will be published by HarperCollins India in December 2014.

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Winner, winner! $50 Gift Card Giveaway

I am totally late in announcing this (I was supposed to do it at 6 p.m. last night), but I did shut off entries at that point. Not that there were any more, but I wouldn’t have entered them in the giveaway if there were! And after consulting Random.org, the winner of the $50 Amazon gift card giveaway was…Cheryl Rhodes! I’ve already contacted Cheryl, who was kind enough to write TWO reviews. One for Close Up Magic and one for Tracks in the Sand. She was also kind enough to give them both five stars! Which I didn’t even require, if you remember. 🙂 Although she did point out a typo in Close Up Magic that I totally missed. When I get a chance, I’ll be fixing that one.

Thank you to everyone who participated. I love giving stuff away, especially e-gift cards. 🙂 They don’t even require me to go to the post office and stand in line! So I might be looking for more ways to give away gift cards over the next month. Stay tuned!

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Review a Book, Win a $50 AMAZON Gift Card!

Last week I gave away more than a thousand books on Kindle. Free. I was astounded. Blown away, really, by the enthusiasm. Okay, yeah, this is America. Stick the word “FREE” on something and we’ll likely pick it up. Even if we throw it in the garbage can later. But this was different because there are literally hundreds—probably thousands—of Kindle books up for grabs every day. Most written by people like me who are just trying to make it in the big world.

And more than a thousand readers selected MY books from that pile of free Kindle books. That means something. To me, anyway.

Okay, so, step one for me as an author is complete. My books are out there on Kindles everywhere. Check. The next step for me is to encourage you to READ my books. I know how it is. You download a “To Read” list on your Kindle and you never quite get around to actually READING them. And certainly not to REVIEWING them (step three). So here’s my idea. How about, if you read my books by August 15 at 6 p.m. AND review them on AMAZON, you get entered in a drawing for a $50 AMAZON gift card. For FREE! Certainly makes reviewing sound a lot better, doesn’t it?

And I’m talking about a real, honest review. If you don’t like my writing, I invite you to tell me why. If you do like my writing, I’d love to hear from you. I’ve learned a lot from both types of reviews from readers. Of course, I’m taking a risk here. It’s quite possible I could get one star from someone who reads my book just because of this giveaway and posts, “I didn’t like it because it wasn’t the Wall Street Journal.” I hope I don’t get those, but I have enough faith in my ability to write well in my genre that I’m willing to risk it.

So, if you like romance and women’s literature, and if you have read one of my books, and if you’re willing to write a review on one of them before August 15, here’s how to enter:

1. Download and read one of my books or read one of the ones you got in last week’s freebies.
2. Post an honest review on Amazon about the book.
3. Email me at michellegflye@gmail.com to let me know you posted a review.
4. Winner (selected by random draw) will be announced August 15 6 p.m. Eastern!

Good luck! I’ve already got a couple of entries!

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Five Days of Free Kindle Books: Weeds and Flowers

I’m giving away one of my books each day of this work week and using the opportunity to spotlight them and give you a little background into why I wrote them on this blog. And to sweeten the deal, I’m offering a $50 gift card for anyone who writes a review of one of my books on Amazon and posts it by August 15. Winner will be chosen by random drawing that evening. All you have to do is drop me an email at michellegflye at gmail dot com to let me know you posted the review. I want your honest take on ANY of my books (including the three published by actual publishers), not just the five I’m offering for free, but if you want a free book, here’s your chance!

Weeds and Flowers coverWeeds and Flowers is the one book I’ve written that I would not classify as a romance. It’s about growing up in a small town and losing faith and finding your first love and lots of other things, but it’s not a romance. It’s a mystery, a coming-of-age story, a story about family and friends. When someone asks me which one of my books they should start with, I usually say this one. Because at its heart, it’s what I’m really about.

Weeds and Flowers is set in a small town and it’s very loosely based on a murder that happened there when I was a girl. That murder changed things in my trusting little town. It happened just a few blocks away to a girl who lived a very similar life to my own with a family and friends who loved her. Although I’ve changed names and circumstances, it was that time period that changed so much in my town that I wrote about.

Here’s a few paragraphs from what might be my favorite of all my novels:

On Friday, I spent the night at Marleen’s. Mom didn’t really like for me to spend the night away from home, so this was a rare treat. “Have her over here,” Mom would always say, never seeming to realize how difficult that was. Mom liked Marleen because Marleen always behaved well in front of parents. “She’s quiet and ladylike,” Mom said. “Maybe some of it will rub off on you.” To which I’d reply that if Mom didn’t want a tomboy for a daughter, she shouldn’t have let my real dad give me a boy’s name.

But even Mom had to admit that if I kept turning Marleen’s invitations around and insisting she sleep over at my house, somebody would get offended. Marleen didn’t mind, but her mother was sort of touchy. Mom said Mrs. Galloway came from the wrong side of the tracks and often thought other people didn’t think she was good enough for them. Besides, I wanted an opportunity to see Kyle up close without seeming too obvious. And Friday should be perfect since Marleen’s parents were going out and leaving Kyle in charge.

“I hope Jeff doesn’t bug us too much,” Marleen said. Her brother Jeff had become a little creepy, in a greasemonkey kind of way. “God, I wish I just had one adorable brother like you do. You know Kyle’s planning to bring his new girlfriend over?”

I shrugged, as if I didn’t care. She knew, of course, but I hated to admit my hopeless crush, even to my best friend.

But Marleen just sighed. “Neither of them has an artistic soul, you know? I mean, all Jeff cares about is cars and all Kyle cares about is girls. There’s so much more to life than that. No one understands me. Well, no one but…”

She broke off, but I suspected I knew who she was talking about. She’d been over to Mrs. Whitford’s garden again, talking to Brian. I didn’t go with her when Brian was in the garden anymore. I wasn’t sure why, but it seemed weird to me that he was so interested in talking to Marleen when he was a good twenty years old than her.

Brian wasn’t in the garden when we got to Marleen’s house, and Kyle wasn’t home yet, so I let Marleen convince me to go to the garden. Most of the roses had withered, and there weren’t so many bugs as during the summer, but the garden still had a creepy feel to it. Marleen and I discussed the school Halloween dance for a while. Who was taking who. Who wasn’t going. Who would probably kiss who. Who would ask us to dance if we decided it was worth our while to go.

The back screen door at the house banged shut and we peered through the thinning bushes to see Brian pulling spades and hoes and shovels out of the storage area in the basement of the old house. He didn’t appear to have seen us, and with difficulty I managed to hold Marleen down. I didn’t want to have to talk to him. She giggled but acquiesced.

We watched as Brian pulled what seemed like every gardening tool he owned out of the storage closet, then seemed to find what he was looking for. He stood, stretched, and turned slowly, his eyes scanning the garden, a trowel in one hand, a bag of bulbs in the other. As we crouched in the garden, the scent of damp earth and rotting plants filling our nostrils, Brian drove the trowel into the ground again and again. I could hear the thud of its blade, the ripping sounds of roots and sometimes a tiny clink as it hit a rock or pebble.

Finally, tired of watching Brian thrusting into the earth, I tugged on Marleen’s shirttail. She shook her head and stayed where she was. I shrugged and headed for the fence, crawling with my head down. I wasn’t able to see Brian or tell for sure if he saw me, but the stabbing noises continued. Only later, when Marleen joined me in her yard did I realize that Brian couldn’t have escaped seeing us from his back porch as he came outside. Somehow realizing he’d known we were there and acted like he hadn’t creeped me out even more.

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Five Days of Free Kindle Books: Saturday Love

As you all probably hopefully know by now, I’m giving away one of my books each day of this work week. And to sweeten the deal, I’m offering a $50 gift card for anyone who writes a review of one of my books on Amazon and posts it by August 15. Winner will be chosen by random drawing that evening. All you have to do is drop me an email at michellegflye at gmail dot com to let me know you posted the review. I want your honest take on ANY of my books (including the three published by actual publishers), not just the five I’m offering for free this week, but this definitely gives you a chance to read one of my books!

Saturday LoveToday’s free Kindle book is Saturday Love, the sequel to Ducks in a Row. In many ways, Saturday Love is a much better romance than Ducks. It certainly sticks closer to the prescribed one hero, one heroine and a happily ever after formula, though I did take some liberties. Saturday Love is also the only one of my self-published novels to be professionally edited (by the awesome Kristin Anders). Please don’t let this scare you off the others, though. I’m pretty good at catching my own errors. It was just that this one confounded me at every turn. I wrote and rewrote it and still wasn’t satisfied. By the time I handed it over to Kristin, it was a hot mess, but she somehow helped me work through it, and the result pleased even me. I hope it will please you, too!

Here’s a snippet to get you going:

“You’ve never made scuppernong wine, though.” Will glanced up at Accalia curiously.

“No. That is true. Our wines have always been European. It’s a new venture for us. For me.” Her expression showed no concern, and even a hint of arrogance. “To be truthful, I fell in love with the taste of your scuppernong wine while on a buying trip in the States. I took some home to my father.” She smiled. “He didn’t really understand the draw, but when I showed him the numbers, even he had to admit it could be a profitable expansion if done correctly.” She paused. “Nonetheless, I am under no illusions. Although I have the backing of my father’s name and his label, this is my venture, using my capital. If I fail, I fail alone. If I succeed…” She spread her hands.

Will’s respect for the woman tripled. He recognized her passion because he’d felt it himself, working at the restaurant. It was why he’d put in such long hours there, even before Cady came to work for him. He shoved thoughts of Cady away. “Well, I look forward to seeing you succeed, Ms. Nikoulas.” He stood, holding out a hand as he stepped around the desk. “We would be more than happy to help you on your way.”

Her face broke into a smile and she stood, unfortunately a little more enthusiastically than gracefully, and fell into his chest. Without missing a beat, Will put an arm around her waist to steady her, stepping away only when he was certain she wouldn’t fall. “Are you all right?” He noticed a slight blush on her cheeks.

“Sorry.” She laughed, obviously embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to jump at you. I’m not known for being graceful.”

At the sound of a slight cough, they both turned. Lisa stood in the door, a glint of amusement in her eyes but her face schooled into a professional expression. “Ms. Nikoulas, I just wanted to stop by and say hello. I’m Lisa Hubbard, the manager of the vineyard. I trust you’ve seen everything you need to?”

“Yes. I have, and I believe we’ve reached a deal.” Accalia looked happily at Will. “Mr. Hubbard and I, that is.”

“Perfect.” Lisa took her hand. “My brother will be your contact here, but feel free to call on either of us at any time. You are, of course, welcome back here as often as you like.”

“Thank you.” Accalia nodded. “And please, call me Accalia.”

“And I’m Lisa.”

“And Will.” Will stepped in. “Accalia is a lovely name. Greek?”

She nodded. “My father is Greek, my mother American. I’ve spent half my life here and half there. The best of both worlds, I suppose.”

“What does your name mean?” Lisa tilted her head curiously, lapsing out of her businesswoman persona for a moment.

Accalia winced. “Nothing very attractive, actually. My mother told me my father chose it because it means ‘chaos’ or something like that.”

“Mary Shelley said all invention comes out of chaos.” Will smiled at her.

“He got that from his education at UNC.” Lisa waggled her eyebrows expressively.

“More than they taught you at Duke.” Will turned his back on her to find Accalia watching them with amusement. “Would you like to see any more of the vineyards? I’ll be more than happy to give you a guided tour.”

“Thank you, but I saw a good bit earlier, thanks to your map.” She turned and started down the hall. Will walked beside her, his hand resting on the small of her back as he reached around her to open the front door.

“We look forward to seeing you again, Accalia.”

She gave him an almost shy, slightly awkward but still friendly smile. “Thank you…Will.”

Will watched her cross the parking lot to her Jeep. Her figure was trim, almost athletic, and her blonde hair shone in the sun. He turned to be confronted by his sister, leaning on Natalie’s desk. When his eyes met hers, she pretended to fan herself. “Was it getting hot in here or was it just me, Natalie?”

“What on earth are you talking about?” Will frowned at her.

“You were flirting with her!” Lisa chortled.

“I was not.” Will brushed past her.

“Well, don’t get me wrong, Will. Seriously, if you get us more buyers by flirting than by giving tours of the vineyard, I’m all for it.” She laughed. “As long as our clients aren’t married.”

Will froze at his office door and glanced over his shoulder. She couldn’t have meant the remark the way it sounded, but the explosion of pain in his chest wouldn’t be denied. Lisa’s teasing smile faded and Natalie looked like she might cry. Lisa took half a step toward him and opened her mouth as if to say something but he shook his head and went into his office, shutting the door carefully behind him.

He sat at the desk, looking at his hands. God, he missed the restaurant. There was always something to do there. If you were done getting ready for the lunch rush, you’d better get started getting ready for dinner. And paperwork and orders and checks to be signed. And then Cady came and even the least favorite of his chores became a joy because he was near her. He groaned and laid his head on his arms. These memories of her had to go. He had to forget. Somehow.

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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!

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