Five Days of Free Kindle Books: Close Up Magic

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 this week, but this definitely gives you a chance to read one of my books!

CloseUpMagicEbookRev Today’s free book is Close Up Magic. Now, I will admit that a little bit of my fangirl self entered into the conception of this particular novel. I wrote it after my husband took me to see David Copperfield live on stage in Las Vegas. This was a bucket list item for me and had been since I was a tiny girl watching a gorgeous David Copperfield perform magic on a grainy black and white television set. The true magic then was the way he lit up that old tube tv and made me believe that magic could exist. The magic when I saw him on stage in Las Vegas as a forty-some year old woman? That he could still make me believe. That I’m still a fangirl after all these years.

To me, love is the greatest magic of all, and so it didn’t take long to make the connection. Why not a series of romances featuring a magician as either hero or heroine? And if my first hero bears a passing resemblance to a young David Copperfield, well, you’ll just have to understand that I’m paying homage to the little girl who watched spellbound from our nappy living room carpet while a black and white (but still handsome) young magician performed miracles on my television set.

Here’s a little taste of Close Up Magic:

She sank into a chair and Mattie handed her a bottle of water. She took an absent swig and turned to Andre. “I thought you’d told me everything.”

“I did.” He spread his hands, a classic magician gesture to indicate he had nothing up his sleeves. Bobby made a little movement, then stilled as she glared at him.

“What about the police? You failed to mention that tidbit.” She turned her full attention back to Andre.

He hesitated. “It was nothing, really.”

“They don’t call the cops for nothing in Vegas, Andre. Private security handles most disturbances in casinos.”

He sighed, resigned. “Tony got drunk, caused a little ruckus when he started losing. I wasn’t around when it started, but when I got back to the resort, I was notified of it and managed to talk the police into letting us handle it privately.”

“I imagine that took a lot of fast talking on your part.” She made a face as if she had tasted something bad and took another gulp of water.

“Not really. Tony’s a good guy, and the resort preferred to handle it privately as well. Thankfully the man Tony punched was an employee and not a guest.” He shrugged, perching on a stool with a nonchalance he didn’t feel.

She shook her head and stood, crossing the room to stand immediately in front of him, her cheeks flushed, her eyes glinting with anger. “Next time I say tell me everything, you better do it. This could’ve blown the whole thing out of the water. All it would’ve taken is a paper trail and Larry would have everything he needed.” She jabbed him in the chest. “And you’d have no one to blame but yourself when he took you down right with your brother.”

She stood close enough so he could smell her perfume and he imagined nuzzling the little hollow of her collarbone, kissing her neck just below her ear… He pulled himself out of the fantasy with difficulty. “Okay. I’m sorry.”

At her dubious look, he spread his hands again. “It’s all I can say. I guess I was still trying to protect him.”

“From me?” She raised her eyebrows a tiny bit, and he shrugged.

“Yeah. From anybody that might hurt him.”

“Great.” She nodded. “Good. You go ahead and keep that up, then. Keep on protecting him, and you’ll ruin yourself.” She brushed past him and out the door, slamming it behind her.

He stared after her, a little stunned. “She is magnificent.” He said it to himself, forgetting he had an audience. Mattie snorted and Bobby grinned, but they both–thank God–kept their comments to themselves.

One final note. Although Close Up Magic is the only book in my Sleight of Hand series that I’m featuring in this promotion, Escape Magic, the novella that is book 2 of the series, is also available. Book 3, Island Magic, should be out this fall and I’m currently working hard on Movie Magic, which will hopefully be ready for you by Spring 2015.

Time to let go, move on…and give out some prizes!

So my Magic Fun Week Celebration is drawing to a close, and I’m waxing a little nostalgic. It seems like just the other day I gave you a list of some surprising Houdini facts. And remember the time I listed the five female escape magicians who were a little like Lady Lydia? Sigh. How does time fly so fast? Why it might have just been yesterday that we were talking about the greatest escape magic tricks!

But it is time to let go, move on to the next project. It’s waiting on my laptop right now. The edits for Saturday Love, the highly anticipated sequel to Ducks in a Row. But before I do, I want to leave you with this one rather startling statement (and the winners of my magical prizes–I haven’t forgotten):

You are within a mile of an aspiring writer right now.

No joke. There are a lot of us. And by aspiring, I mean a writer who hopes to one day have a bestseller on the shelves. Maybe they’re in the process of writing their first one, maybe they’ve got seven books already floating around out there in the ether. Maybe they have yet to put pen to paper (sounds better than fingertips to keyboard), but they do plan to one day write a book.

My point is, there are a lot of people out there writing books, and some of us are even publishing them. Readers have a lot to choose from, and they’re going to choose a book with twenty to a hundred favorable reviews over a book that has just one. So how do these aspiring writers obtain those reviews?

No clue. But I’m not too proud to beg.

Please, please, please if you’ve read and enjoyed one of my books, leave me a review on Amazon! It might just help the next reader decide if she wants to take a chance on me or go back to her favorite best-selling author.

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

I don’t actually have a chicken dinner to award anyone, but I do have some pretty cool stuff. Without further ado, here are our winners and what they won.

Winners! Richard, Scotch & Soda; Cheryl Rhodes, Linking Rings; C.J. May, Love Me deck; John Hinson, Archangel deck; Sherry Thompson, Escape Magic; Sal, Escape Magic.

Winners! Richard, Scotch & Soda; Cheryl Rhodes, Linking Rings; C.J. May, Love Me deck; John Hinson, Archangel deck; Sherry Thompson, Escape Magic; Sal, Escape Magic.

Thanks to everyone who participated, and also everyone who has given Escape Magic a warm welcome into the world. Escape Magic will remain a cool 99 cents for Kindle, but the special 99 cent price for Close Up Magic for Kindle will expire on Monday. So if you haven’t gotten your copy of Book 1 of my Sleight of Hand series, do it now!

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!

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!

Crud and Halloween and Book Launch…oh my.

Okay, so I decided to release Escape Magic on October 31, the anniversary of Houdini’s death, right? Pretty good idea. Great idea, in fact, except for the fact that I am the mother of three, two of whom are still young enough to trick-or-treat on Halloween. Which means costumes and candy and, well, you know. And that would not be enough to keep me from launching Escape Magic properly, so I went ahead with it, and came nose-to-nose with something that did keep me from doing it up right.

The crud.

Whether it’s the flu or a bad cold or what, I don’t know, but it has totally sapped my energy. I haven’t tweeted about Escape Magic properly, and I promised some neat Houdini facts on here that I haven’t organized in my brain well enough to write. Whatever it is, the crud sucks.

The fact is, there are some things I have to keep doing in spite of everything. And Escape Magic would be right up there if this hadn’t been such a busy week. But it has and I have no energy left for Twitter or Facebook or even my blog. In fact, I’m going back to bed as soon as I finish this post.

But before I do, I wanted to announce that beginning Monday I’m going to do a week-long celebration of Magic right here on my blog. There’ll be giveaways and balloons and champagne—all right, the balloons and champagne will be imaginary, but the giveaways won’t. I’ve collected a number of cool magic tricks over the past year or so and some very pretty decks of cards. And by next week I should have hard copies of Escape Magic to giveaway (I already have some copies of Close Up Magic). And if all that doesn’t appeal, I’m also going to give away some $5 Amazon gift cards, good to buy anything you want on Amazon (including any of my books–you could probably get more than one of my ebooks!).

So that said, remember Escape Magic is for sale NOW at only 99 cents for the Kindle ($6 or so for the paperback version). If you buy it and love it, leave me a review! I could use a pick-me-up.

Escape Magic is only one week away! Enjoy an excerpt NOW!

So I realized today that I can now start a one-week countdown to the release of Escape Magic, the novella that is book 2 of my Sleight of Hand series, and I got really excited! I actually love this book. The characters are fun, the storyline is fun, and the ending…well, it wouldn’t be a romance if it didn’t have a happy ever after, would it? Plus, I got to revisit Stacey and Andre from Book 1, Close Up Magic, and there’s even a glimpse of my tragic hero from Book 3, Island Magic (see if you can spot him!).

Next week you’ll be able to purchase Escape Magic for 99 cents for the Kindle or in paperback (can’t remember how much, but it’s less than my others because it IS a novella). Which means short. Both paperback and Kindle versions include the first chapter of Close Up Magic, just in case you missed it. And, for a limited time, Close Up Magic is only 99 cents for Kindle, so if you want to read Book 1 first, get it right away!

But for now, I thought I’d give you a little taste of why I love this little book. For your exclusive reading pleasure, here’s an excerpt from Escape Magic:

Lydia was not easy to find. Tony finally located her in a knot of cheering men. She was seated on a table with her legs crossed and her arms bound behind her. A handsome, dark complected man teased her with a wine glass. “C’mon, Lady Lydia! Get loose and it’s all yours.”

Lydia pretended to have trouble with the knot. “Oh, you might just have me with this one.”

The dark man smiled a little lasciviously and leaned on the table so his body half covered hers. “Oh, I really hope so. But give it a try anyway.”

Lydia remained perfectly calm. Tony knew she’d probably already worked her way out of the knot, or at least knew how to, but she gave no indication of it. “How on earth could I possibly—oops!” She held up her hands with the rope dangling from one and gave him a little push away from her. “Did you lose something, Samir?”

“Just his pride.” Tony recognized the little toadlike man who spoke as Phil, an illusionist. He frowned, searching his mind. Had Phil even been invited? Before he could speak, Phil made a beckoning motion. “Everybody pay up.”

“Not the right venue, Phil.” Tony stepped forward as Lydia took the wine from the handsome magician’s fingers. Tony noticed a line of empty wine glasses on the table next to her. It wasn’t the first bet, then. His resolution to put a stop to the illicit activities strengthened into an almost protective resolve. “Lydia.”

She glanced at Tony as she sipped the wine. “What? You want to go next?” She dangled the rope in front of him. At his disbelieving look, she laughed. “Sorry, don’t have any cuffs. You have to bring your own.”

He gave her a suspicious look. “Are you drunk?”

“Probably not nearly enough.” Her voice sounded clear, but her words made him uncertain.

“Well, I’m not playing, and neither are any of you.” He glared around at the others in the group as he took Lydia’s arm and half helped, half lifted her off the table. “You’re not messing up my brother’s wedding day this way. And Phil, were you even invited?”

“I figured my invitation got lost in the mail.” Phil grinned toothily.

Tony understood. Dear God, there but for your grace… He stopped himself. “Get out. Quietly. And the rest of you should call it a night, too, probably.” He gave them all a scathing glare then turned away, pulling Lydia along with him. “Stupid sons of bitches. And what the hell, Lydia? I thought you had better sense.”

They were in the lobby by this point and she yanked her arm away from his grasp, turning to glare at him. “What’s your damage? I wasn’t doing anything wrong. It was just a little fun.”

“A little fun that looked like it was well on its way to being a gang rape.”

“It was no such thing. You’re projecting.” She glared at him, her hands on her hips.

“Projecting what? Disgust?” He faced her.

Just then, a door opened to the side and a couple came out. Lydia’s head swiveled to watch them and they both ducked, half hiding their faces. Tony frowned at the cloakroom door as it swung closed behind them. “You’re joking.”

She chortled. “Nope. Looks like they were having a little fun, too. C’mon.”

“What?” He held back as she grabbed his hand and started that way.

“Come on.” She tugged at his hand. “If they’ve just come out, it’s available. Let’s go.” She grinned, waggling her eyebrows at him. “I’ll show you what you were projecting. You can’t tell me you don’t want to.”

Her words brought on a surge of unexpected desire. “Jesus.” He hesitated a second more. Why the hell am I hesitating? He let her pull him in the door and shut it behind him.

Writing the Anti-50 Shades Bondage Romance

No offense intended to E.L. James or those who thoroughly enjoyed the erotic fanaticism that swept our great nation with 50 Shades of Grey and its sequels, but when I set out to write ESCAPE MAGIC, the second in my Sleight of Hand series, I knew it might be difficult to avoid comparison. After all, my main female character is young, beautiful and into bondage…on the stage, no less.

No, I haven’t slipped into erotica here, although ESCAPE MAGIC does contain the hottest sex scene I’ve written so far. (Consider that both warning and promise!) In fact, I think I’m still okay calling this a sweet romance, although I’ll be interested to find out what reviewers think. In point of fact, my heroine is a strong, capable, escape magician who just might be more ready to fall in love than she thinks…with the right man.

Here’s the blurb for ESCAPE MAGIC, coming October 31!

For every lock, there is a key…

Escape magician Lady Lydia can pick any lock, untie any knot, free herself from any trunk of doom. She’s spent years perfecting her brand of escapology, and she’s now poised for success with a Las Vegas show and growing popularity. She’s right where she wants to be, and she’s determined not to fall into any trap.

Tony Hawkins has spent the past three years overcoming his addictions to drugs and alcohol. Now he’s back where it all started. Tony’s stronger than he’s ever been, more in control than he ever thought he could be. But the moment he sees Lydia again, he fears he could lose himself in yet another addiction.

Surrounded by magic, magicians and a glamorous Vegas wedding, Escape Magic is a story about forgetting your fear and finding your faith…even if it means taking a leap you never counted on.

Join me here on my blog for an all-day celebration of the release of ESCAPE MAGIC and the life of Harry Houdini, the greatest escape magician of all time. There’ll be prizes and fun facts and maybe a special surprise, if I can work it out on short notice!