Tag Archives: Becoming Magic

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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Five Days to Becoming Magic: What is “a new kind of romance”?

Another romance writer might well ask me what I mean by “a new kind of romance”?

It’s not a new old idea. I’m not saying we need to go back to the days when women were women and men treated them like delicate flowers. I’m not saying you shouldn’t write about sex in your romances. Sex is an integral part of character development in romance. I’m not even saying tying people up isn’t sexy. If you read Escape Magic (which I call my anti-50-shades bondage romance), for instance, you’ll see there are ways for that to be worked in that are definitely okay.

A new kind of romance is not about going backward. It’s about moving forward. It’s about recognizing that the problems women face today are very much rooted in attitudes we’ve faced all along that are perpetuated by the submissive heroines and macho man heroes from the romances of yesteryear. If we don’t want to be dominated, our reading material should reflect that. Here’s my best definition of what a new kind of romance is, followed by the print cover of my new book with the blurb:

Five days to the release of Becoming Magic! If you want to know why I call it “a new kind of romance”, check out my blog at http://michellegflye.com or read this:
 
What is a new kind of romance?
 
A romance where women are in charge of their own fate and aren’t considered property. A romance where rape is rape, not fantasy. A romance about what real women really want—real men secure enough in their own masculinity to be able to both protect a woman who wants it and back off when she doesn’t.
 
That’s real romance. It’s sexy and fun and no holds barred. It’s loving and tender and passionate. And for me it starts with Becoming Magic.
Becoming Magic Print

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Six Days to Becoming Magic and I feel bad for Laura Ingalls Wilder

In six days my new book Becoming Magic will be unleashed upon the world. I’m calling it “a new kind of romance” because I think it’s time my genre addresses the #metoo movement and accepts that, in the past, our books have been part of the problem—and can now be part of the solution.

Just yesterday, the Association of Library Services to Children played a key role in a cautionary tale for all authors who don’t pay attention to changing times. They removed the name of one of America’s great pioneer women authors from an award. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award will now be known as the Children’s Literature Legacy Award because Wilder’s famous Little House series contains a number of racist (by today’s standards) references to Native Americans and black people.

Understand, first and foremost, that I get it. I read these books as a child and never thought twice about “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” or the reference to blackface. I’m reading them again with my daughter and am extremely grateful that she has a good, analytical head on her eleven-year-old shoulders. She knows those statements are wrong. She didn’t understand the blackface and “darkie” reference until I explained them, and then she knew they were wrong, too. We talked about how times and people’s perceptions change and evolve, and while Wilder may not have thought twice about writing those passages, they are considered wrong now.

She got it.

With all that said, I feel for Wilder. Her writing accurately reflected the social attitudes of her time. And now it is a victim of today’s more evolved social sensibility. Wilder even apologized for some of her writing during her lifetime and lived to see one passage changed from saying “no people, only Indians” to “no settlers, only Indians”, which shows she actually at least partially got it, too. I’m glad to know that.

I hope the removal of Wilder’s name from the award does not mean her books will someday be removed from library shelves. Read with the correct context, these books are invaluable to understanding and remembering our history and the history of our literature. Along with Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird, these books form a map to remind us of where we’ve been so we don’t go back there.

And, Laura Ingalls Wilder, rest assured I get it, too. Writing of any genre may reflect the current time and sensibility, but eventually those times and sensibilities—and sensitivities—will change.

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Seven Days to Becoming Magic: I miss the old days…

blur book stack books bookshelves

A book with no one to advocate for it gets shelved quickly in today’s overwhelmed literary market. I know that. And yet. Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

Just a week away from the release of Becoming Magic, my new kind of romance in which I attempt to prove real heroes are not the dark, brooding macho men of old.

Just a week away from the part I hate—promotion. Literally, the worst part for someone like me. I’m a hermit. I live in my office with my little dog and my cats. It’s my happy place.

Cormac McCarthy sold books for forty years without ever doing a television interview. Emily Dickinson wrote her amazing body of poetry while secluded in her family home—literally lowering baskets from windows for packages and speaking to visitors through doors. Of course, the largest part of her work was discovered after her death…

And then there is William Faulkner, who famously shunned public speaking, but should have spoken out more, as evidenced by his Nobel Prize Speech:

The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.

Yes, writers are reclusive. We prefer to sit at our desks and tap away at our computers. But in today’s world of technology and television and Netflix, it’s up to us—the writers and poets—to seek out new ways to do what Faulkner charged us to do: To remind human beings that there is more to us than our exterior shells show—we have heart and soul and history to prove it. And that means promotion because like the proverbial tree with no listeners, there’s not much point to a book with no readers.

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Eight Days to Becoming Magic: Last Steps and Nerves

So many things can go wrong.

What if I miss a huge typo that changes the meaning of something? Think that can’t happen? In 1631, The Holy Bible was printed without a very important word. It earned the nickname “The Wicked Bible” for saying, in black and white, “Thou shalt commit adultery.”

What if my formatting is wrong? This problem is universal to independently published and traditionally published books. No matter how many times you go through a book in word and even pdf format, spaces vanish, indents undent themselves and typefaces may turn to gibberish. My first few independently published ebooks have several reviews that mention “head-hopping” as being a problem. At first I couldn’t figure this out. I usually tell my stories from two POVs—hero and heroine—but I never change POVs without leaving white space. Well, turns out white space alone doesn’t translate to Kindle or other ebooks very well. It just vanishes, leaving your poor reader with no indication that your story is about to hop to another head.

And finally, what if nobody gets it? I don’t mean, what if nobody buys it. That’s a whole different problem. I’m talking about what if nobody who reads it understands why I wrote it? Why spend hundreds of hours sitting at my computer writing something nobody understands? If nobody gets it, why did I waste my time? I mean, I’m not writing Salman Rushdie type books or a Codex Seraphinianus here. (Google that if you want to get sucked down a rabbit hole!) So basically, if I don’t get my point across, that’s on me.

So it’s eight days to publication. Eight days til I find out the best and the worst.

Eight days to Becoming Magic.

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Happy Summer Solstice! T-minus 10 days and counting to Becoming Magic

Happy longest day of the year! Happy lightest day of the year! Happy summer solstice!

And happy T-minus 10 days to my new book, Becoming Magic. I’m calling it a new kind of romance.

What is a new kind of romance?

A romance where women are in charge of their own fate and aren’t considered property. A romance where rape is rape, not fantasy. A romance about what real women really want—real men secure enough in their own masculinity to be able to both protect a woman who wants it and back off when she doesn’t.

That’s real romance. It’s sexy and fun and no holds barred. It’s loving and tender and passionate. And here’s a little taste of it.

Connor pulled the linking rings back out of their velvet bag and began practicing with the engagement ring on them. “I may need your help, too.”

“With the trick?” She raised her eyebrows. “I’m not sure I’m the one—”

“Nonsense. You know how it works. You just have to catch it correctly.” He tossed the ring to her. She caught it neatly, but the engagement ring went flying.

“Damn.” She cursed softly. “I thought I could do that.”

“No, you weren’t sure. You said so.” He found the engagement ring and replaced it on the linking ring. He fixed her with a stern look. “Be certain.”

“Okay.” She shrugged, but she knew what he was talking about. Every movement in magic—or any showmanship, really—had to be done with certainty. No rethinking yourself or doubts allowed. The audience should never be aware that you might not know what you’re doing. And so she banished any doubts and looked at him expectantly.

“And don’t look at me like that.” He twirled the rings in the air, absently connecting and disconnecting them. She knew how it was done, but he’d gotten so good at it, she couldn’t catch him.

She laughed. “Why not?”

He paused in the act of juggling the rings, caught them and displayed them all connected with the engagement ring dangling at the bottom. “Because you make it hard for me to be certain.”

She tilted her head, wondering what he meant…

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A New Kind of Romance

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]On July 1, 2018, I will release my latest romance, Becoming Magic. In a very real way, this is an apt title for a turning point in my own writing. In it I address some pretty difficult issues facing the world at large as well as writers of romance today.

I’ve written before about how today’s empowered women have influenced my writing. Once upon a time romance was filled with shrinking, helpless “heroines” dominated by dark, brooding, melancholy “heroes”. Women were overpowered by the sexual demands of men in those romances. Rape fantasies were played out in the pages by manly men—remember the “macho man” from the eighties?—men who took what they wanted without asking.

Is it any wonder men of former generations thought we liked to be wolf whistled at, called “darlin” and sweetheart, and that it was okay to cop a feel if we left an opening?

But it seems women are finally willing to speak up and say they don’t like that. We prefer to be asked appropriately before touching begins. In today’s world, the dukes and tycoons of those old romances would find themselves on the wrong end of a sexual harassment lawsuit.  So how do romances change?

It’s a good question. Romances, at their heart, are fantasies. In the post-50 Shades world of romance, authors have begun to push those fantasies to the limit. Rape fantasies are more blatant and much more graphic in many romances. Is there really any need to stop pushing those limits, though?

The simple answer is yes. Fantasies are only fantasies until they touch on reality, and psychologists are already concerned about the effect mainstream media’s acceptance of borderline practices like S&M will have on developing teenage minds and their sex lives. I believe that the problem has existed all along and goes much deeper. I believe romance authors must address sexual harassment and face the #metoo movement head on.

We have a place in this. We can write a new kind of romance, shape the fantasies of the future. We can write first and foremost about love. Sex is a part of love, a way of expressing love and, in some romances, an essential part of character development. It is not, however, an end without means, and romance writers can and should, at least for our own characters, define what those means are.

I hope you’ll read Becoming Magic. And I hope I’ve succeeded, at least partly, in starting to write my own new and more mindful kind of romance.

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