Tag Archives: family

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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A Poem for My Daughter

When she was born, I finished the process of becoming a mother of three.

For My Daughter

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

You’re my heart and my soul,

You’re a star in my sky.

You made our family whole,

When the stork dropped you by.

 

You are loved, my firefly,

Never doubt your self-worth.

No one else could satisfy

Your place on this earth.

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National Poetry Month: Poem 3

Poem 3:

17

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

Today’s the day.

Seventeen.

Amazing how the years

Aren’t long enough.

Filled with Moments.

Moments to live over and over again

And Moments to wish you had back.

 

Nobody said it’d be easy.

Did they?

Nobody said there’d be no regrets

Or that everything would be perfect.

They said

You’ll be a family.

We are.

We have been

From that first Moment

Of love.

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Time is not your friend.

PSM_V05_D144_Mountain_laurel

Immortality and everlasting love are two of the meanings of mountain laurel.

This morning I taught my nine-year-old how to make waffles because it’s summer, everybody’s getting up at a different time…and, well, she’s nine. It’s time to start doing some basic stuff for yourself like making your own breakfast. But as soon as I thought that, I realized something.

 

She’s nine years old. How did that happen?

Time isn’t our friend, is it? It rushes us along, always on its schedule, never paying attention to the moments we want to stand still and enjoy like our vacations and celebrations. Time only takes a breather when we’re standing in line at the DMV or going to an unpleasant doctor’s appointment. Then Time says, “Hold up there, what’s your rush?” And the seconds slowly become minutes and seem like hours.

I’ve been fascinated by the concept of time for most of my life, I think. I remember my mother telling me once how long it would take for the Jello she’d just put into the refrigerator to jell. An hour.

How long is an hour? I said.

She probably rolled her eyes and sighed, but I remember her laughing a little. “Sixty minutes.”

Sixty minutes? How could I possibly live that long? I wanted the Jello now. And yet, when I ran along and played with my Barbie dolls, all of sudden, an hour had passed. And I was enjoying a plateful of jiggly green Jello that I could poke with my fork to see it wobble and not get fussed at for playing with my food.

My obsession with time has continued through the years. Don’t rush it, people say when you’re trying your best to get through one stage of your life—high school, college, the first years of married life, the first stage of child-rearing, the lean years during your first jobs when you’re not making much money…

And they’re right. Because all of a sudden you’re teaching your nine-year-old baby who’s sprouted ridiculously long legs to make waffles. Or reaching up to give your 12-year-old a hug. Or teaching your 16-year-old to drive. All because it’s time. And you were never allowed to stand still for those moments in time that you’ll always treasure but can never go back to.

And all of this is to say that on Wednesday, my book Out of Time, which explores some of my thoughts about time, will mark another point in my timeline. And this time, I’ll be enjoying that moment with you right here on my blog. I’ll be posting throughout the day about Out of Time and what it means in my personal quest to understand the rush of time. Please stop by with any questions about my writing, thoughts about time, comments about the weather…whatever. And at high noon, the pinnacle of the hours of the day…I’ll have a special guest here. Then at 7 p.m. (Eastern), as the hours of the day draw to a close, I’ll choose one commenter from a random drawing to receive the grand prize of a Kindle Fire!

So take a few moments from your day and stop by. Help me make the most of the day…before we’re out of time.

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I’m not sure I actually write romance.

It’s not that I don’t want to. Or even that I don’t try. It’s just that I’m told…over and over…that even though my stories have strong romantic elements (and…spoiler ahead…a happily-ever-after ending), they’re not really romance. Check out the following quotes from actual reviews:

“Reading this book was an odd experience, and my grade for it really depends on what it’s trying to be. As “womens’ fiction” this is quite an engaging story, but as a romance it fails.” –Amazon review for Where the Heart Lies

“Even though I was not thrilled with the romance in the book, it is still a worthwhile read.” –Amazon review for Where the Heart Lies

“a well-written, thought-provoking novel and is not what I expect from a typical romance” –Amazon review for Ducks in a Row

“Although categorized as romance, it is not the typical romance that I normally read.” –Amazon review for Ducks in a Row

You get the picture. I have had to accept the fact that I don’t always write the typical, run-of-the-mill, escapist romance. However, I feel the romances in the two books above were the meatiest (ooh, not a romantic descriptor at all) ones I have ever written. And here I am with another offering that probably won’t please all romance lovers.

Image

Tracks in the Sand has been turned down by some of the best romance publishers out there. I suspect it’s because although it fits RWA’s definition of a romance (it has a central love story with a happily ever after ending), it isn’t your mama’s romance. And it’s not what passes for romance in today’s market, either.

First of all, my heroine is a tough little bitch. Seriously, she is. In fact, one of the editors who turned Tracks down originally told me she couldn’t relate to the heroine as she was written then. I softened her a little, but I didn’t want to change her too much. She’s been through some serious shiznit in her life, and her current attitudes about people and situations reflect that.

By contrast, my hero is not an asshole. He’s warm and kind and exactly what the heroine needs to heal. He knows what he wants, he’s not afraid to go after it, he’s even successful—although not a doctor or a lawyer or any of the typical trades. He’s not even a fireman. In fact, he owns a hardware store.

And though the romance is central to the story, the heroine’s journey is fraught with many topics you don’t find in typical romances. Cancer, alcoholism, and child abuse to name a few. Not romantic subjects but perfect obstacles to add a touch of reality and depth to her story.

So I have to say…don’t read Tracks in the Sand if you’re looking for escapism. It’s not that kind of romance. However, if you want a story that’ll make you believe in the strength of love and family and forgiveness, I think this one might be it.

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