Three Days to Becoming Magic: Magic Numbers and Jack’s Beans

It’s three days to the publication of Becoming Magic and today I started thinking how in folk stories, three is magical and that number has entered our own lives in ways we might not really notice at first. Jack had three magic beans. The first time I pitched a book to a literary agent (someday I’ll write about this rather painful memory), he asked for three things: a 3-page synopsis, the manuscript and proposals for three more books.

I can’t help but wonder if Jack had five magic beans would I have been asked for a five-page synopsis? And five more book proposals?

At any rate, I’m hoping the magical number three will work for me today. I’m going to post three excerpts from Becoming Magic. And if the day is as magical as Jack’s beans, you’ll be intrigued enough to climb the Becoming Magic beanstalk to find the treasure.

Excerpt #1:

She gathered her notes and then slapped them back on the table, turning to him. “Look. We’re obviously going to be working together since there’s no talking my bosses out of this, so let’s lay down a few ground rules.”

He sat back in his chair. “Go ahead.”

“I know you’re a big movie star and you’re probably used to getting your way with women without even having to work for it, but let me just tell you here and now, there’s nowhere to get with me. I’m not looking to get laid, and your charming ways are not going to work with me. Okay?”

A light frown creased his handsome forehead. His eyes were very serious and he nodded. “Noted.”

In a probably vain attempt to keep from looking too vulnerable, she forced herself to take a deep breath. “I would also like to say that I don’t like dirty jokes. They make me uncomfortable and are mostly just rude, not funny.”

The frown on his forehead had deepened. But he just nodded. “Got it.”

“And finally, I don’t like to be touched. I’m not going to let you touch me to further my career, and I don’t care if you fire me. So don’t go for the brush-the-boob casual move or the light hand on my back or pinching my butt or whatever. None of it. I don’t enjoy it and if I don’t enjoy it, you have no right to enjoy it.”

He sat for a moment after she finished speaking, his expression very sober. Then he stood. For a moment, she thought he would just walk out of the room and she wondered what would happen if he went to Sabrina or Walt with what she’d just said. Her heartbeat pounded in her chest, thundering against her ribcage. But she raised her chin in defiance. If she was going to be working in Hollywood again, she was damn well going to do it her way.

He didn’t leave the room, however. After a moment, he asked politely, “Was there anything else?”

She’d expected indignation. His polite acceptance took her by surprise. “Umm, no.”

“Then we can get to work.” He held out a hand and she took it, bemused. He shook her hand and dropped it. “One condition of my own, however. I’d appreciate not being lumped into the same category as an abuser when I don’t think I’ve earned it.”

Excerpt #2:

“What were you feeling right then?”

“Right then?” He studied the screen. “Betrayed, I think. She was supposed to accept the rose. She was supposed to kiss me and later, she was supposed to make love to me. Because it was magic.” He shrugged, then glanced at her. “Sorry, was that too much information?”

“Maybe a little, but I did ask.” She watched onscreen Connor walk away—toward his trailer, probably.

“Why did you ask?”

“Why did you answer?” She countered him neatly, then hit the pause button. “But since you did, I’ll answer your other question. Yes. There are so many things I’d cut from my life if I had a delete button. Things that I worry not only delayed my reaching my eventual goal but may actually prevent it.”

“Like what?”

She hesitated, again torn between blurting out her whole sordid story and hiding it away in the dark reaches of her soul. Hiding won. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

He reached across and caught her hand. “That’s not really fair.” His thumb caressed her knuckles. “I told you mine.”

“Your what?” Her heart pounded in her throat.

“My secret. My too much information. It’s only fair if you share yours.”

Why did his lightest touch set her skin afire? It was so hard to think. And whatever the wine was, it must have a much higher alcohol content than she was used to. Or maybe he’d refilled it more often than she’d thought. At any rate, she felt like everything pleasant was intensified—like the feel of his light caress—and everything unpleasant had faded to the background. How much did Hollywood even matter, anyway?

She answered herself almost instantly, jerked back to reality by her need to conceal her too much information. “It’s not the same thing.”

“How so?” He closed his fingers over hers.

“I—mine isn’t so pleasant. Even yours is romantic and sweet. You just wanted her to love you as much as you loved her. But mine is—not that.”

Excerpt #3:

“How do you do that, anyway?”

“Do what?” He blinked innocently.

“Charm everyone. Her. The waitress the other night. Sabrina and Walt—”

“Oh, if you’d heard the talking to Walt gave me about none other than little old you, you’d know he’s not so charmed.”

“Oh, he’s charmed. But anyway, other people. People you’ve never even met like my sister. They’re all so taken with you. I don’t get it.”

“Well, that’s flattering.” He quirked an eyebrow at her.

She laughed a little. “I mean, I do get it. Sort of. But you and I—well, we know each other a little better, don’t we? It’s not like we’re passing acquaintances and I’m already charmed by you. I mean…”

She trailed off, but he nodded understanding. “Yes, that’s true. We’ve both seen a little of what makes each other tick. You’re wondering how others can see I’m someone worth investing in.”

“Well, yeah.” She shrugged. “For want of a better way of putting it.”

He paused, thinking. “I believe it’s like anything. It’s like picking up a book by an author you’ve never read before and deciding you want to read it. Or even listening to a song all the way through. You don’t know you’re going to like it. You might even hate it. But you sort of judge it from the beginning notes of the song or the first line of the book. I’ve got a good beginning note, I guess.”

She smiled. “I like that way of putting it. Like choosing a dessert. I can tell from the smell that you have some ingredients I like.” Her glance caught his and she felt her face heat up a little as she realized what she had said. “Or something like that.”

Thanks for reading. Hope your day is magical!

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…

Five stars on Amazon and an excerpt from Movie Magic

Currently Movie Magic has five stars on both Amazon and Smashwords. If you enjoy romance (and possibly even if you don’t), you’ll like Movie Magic. I’m confident about that. It has everything. I realized that when I was coming up with tags for searches on Beaches, small town, Hollywood, contemporary romance, movies, movie making, California…the list goes on. I could even have included “pirates” in it, but I didn’t. What are you waiting for? It’s only $2.99 for an ebook! Here’s an excerpt to help you make the decision to commit to reading Movie Magic:

During a lull in their work, she laid her head on the sofa arm and closed her eyes. The storm raged on outside. She opened her eyes to see Walt sitting beside the sofa, his gaze locked on the fire. He held a beer in one hand, his elbow resting on the knee of one long, denim-clad leg. She smiled a little, watching the dance of the firelight on his beard. “A sandy cowboy and a sexy pirate.” She yawned. “Hollywood really would love you.”

He glanced at her. “I thought you were asleep.”

“Mm. Maybe I will. I bet my dreams will be sweet.”

“Did you have more wine than I thought you did or are your internal censors busted?” He took a sip of the beer.

“Just sleepy and a little high off a job well done.” She reached out to touch the stack of crumpled paper on the coffee table.

He smiled, turning back to the fire. “Get some rest.”

“Where will you sleep?”

Did his smile deepen a little bit? His voice rumbled with amusement when he answered. “Everything you say right now sounds like an invitation, you know.” He took a sip of his beer. “And I’m having a really tough time not replying in the affirmative.”

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!”

Two Months to Magic!

I just realized it’s August 31, exactly two months until Movie Magic releases! I’m very Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]excited about this one. I really, really love the characters and the circumstances, and the setting ranges from Beaufort, N.C., to Hollywood, California, so you get plenty of variety there!

Plus, as you can plainly see, the cover is super beautiful. (Thanks, Farah Evers!)

Anyway, I’m trying to build excitement about the book over the next couple of months, and the best way I know how to do that is to blog about magic and my book and more magic and more book. I’m kicking it off today with an excerpt. Let me know what you think in the comments!

 

The festival was what she’d expected. Crowds of people and stalls all along the roads. As she neared the square, the crowd on the sidewalk became nearly unbearable, but the groups clustered around the booths were much sparser. Spotting some colorful scarves at a booth, Sabrina stepped off the crowded sidewalk into the nearly empty street. Why were so many people sticking to the sidewalks when there was so much to see at the booths? Shaking her head again, she walked bravely toward the stall she’d spotted. Two giggling young women dressed in very short shorts passed her. They both gave her dubious looks and shrugged.

Ignoring them, Sabrina entered the scarf stall. The scarves might be handmade, but they were gorgeous enough to be found on Rodeo Drive. Sabrina ran her fingers over the smooth, silky texture. She turned to ask the slightly grizzled looking woman about the material she’d used and found her looking as dubious as the young women she’d passed. “What?”

“Honey, is that really what you’re wearing for this?” The stocky older woman gestured at Sabrina’s silk blouse and pencil skirt.

Sabrina rolled her eyes, deciding she didn’t want one of the scarves after all. “Look, I know I’m a little overdressed. I didn’t bring clothes for a street fair, okay?” She turned to stalk away.

Someone whooped from the far end of the street and then a chorus of screams sounded from around the square. Sabrina stopped, puzzled, noticing the people on the sidewalks were laughing and pointing. At me? No. Something behind her. Before she could turn, another loud whoop from directly behind her drew a scream of her own, and then a strong arm swooped around her waist and scooped her up and over a shoulder. She gasped, surprised to find herself hanging over the shoulder of her attacker, who smelled strongly of some sort of male cologne meant to stimulate female pheromones. She screamed again and kicked, smacking at her attacker’s back ineffectually as he plowed through the stalls and into an alley.

Find out more on October 31!

Giveaways and an excerpt

I’m expanding my probably ill-conceived time limit for comments. If you comment any time today or tomorrow on one of today’s posts and I still have coupon codes to give out, you’re eligible. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from Time Being to convince you to read it:

Lost in thought, Kaelyn almost missed the first whispers. The branches of the bushes nearest her were already waving in a nonexistent breeze when she noticed them. She faced them, unafraid and head held high. Everything became very quiet. She raised her chin and spoke. “I am Kaelyn, Queen of the Meti. I am looking for a kinsman. His name is Hunter Drake.”

The whispers started again, grew louder, and Kaelyn waited, knowing there was still a possibility that she would feel the telltale prick of the Little People’s barb in her neck, the spread of their poison through her system. Tamsin would remove the barb if it happened, but it wouldn’t be in time to stop her from experiencing some of its torture. What would they make her see this time? Last time it had been forgetting her father’s death, fighting to return to him. And each time she’d remembered had brought with it a rush of loneliness and fear.

This time would they bring back her baby? Maybe make her feel what it would have been like to hold it in her arms, to hear its cry, her body answering a call she’d never experienced before? Would she be able to return from that anguish? Jack had helped her back the last time, but even he might not be able to bring her back from the new torture she imagined. And maybe this time, she wouldn’t want to come back. She closed her eyes, half anticipating, half dreading the sting of the barb in her neck.