Tag Archives: Hollywood

Facing fear of publishing (with excerpt from Movie Magic)

In January I made the usual New Year’s resolutions: eat healthier, exercise more, etc. But I also made a resolution I had never made before. Fight fear.

Fear has held me back my entire life. I’m a timid person by nature, though I’ve overcome much of that through the love of my family. Yet still, I have more than my share of phobias. Spiders, stage fright, dentists (that’s a big one).

I haven’t overcome these phobias, but I have forced myself to face them. Just last week I smashed a spider that had my daughter cornered. In a gesture at fighting off my general timidity, I recently took the opportunity to travel with my son to Germany. And I tried out for and got a bit part in our local theater’s production of “A Christmas Carol”. So, yeah, I’m working on it.

And this morning, I went to the dentist for the first time in…a while. My teeth are still sore. Like everything, I began to draw a parallel between sore teeth and publishing a book.

When you write a novel, you bare a part of your soul, and the more covering you can pull away (just like the dental hygienist did to my teeth this morning), the better your writing will be. And just like my teeth, which are now sore and more exposed to temperature changes, so the writer’s soul becomes exposed to critics.

The temptation is to keep part of the soul covered. A thin veil. Remove yourself from the story and tell yourself it’s the characters’ story you’re telling. And while this is true to a point, the truth is, the writer is in every story she tells. And once that story is published, the writer is exposed. Perhaps this is why Emily Dickinson published less than a dozen poems in her lifetime. So much of her soul exposed through her poems might have been too much for her to bear.

So publishing is a leap of faith in our own work and our own souls. It might be ignored or disliked or even loved, but it’s bound to be painful in one way or another. With that thought in mind, I present a taste of my soul in the form of an excerpt from Movie Magic:

“What’ll it be, Cowboy?” Her eyes flickered over him in a just slightly less than shameless fashion.

“What would you recommend, Gypsy?”

The woman looked pleased that he remembered her name. “Depends. Are you just here to drink tonight, Walt, or are you eating?”

“You know I’m not going to pass up the burgers.” He leaned on the bar. “We want beer. Maybe one of those pepper beers you guys are so proud of.”

The woman raised her eyebrows and looked at Sabrina. She nodded, her appraisal obviously satisfactory. “Two ghost brews coming up.” She reached beneath the counter and with a flick of her wrist produced two bottles with a label bearing a picture of an ethereal white spirit sporting a pirate hat. She stopped short of handing it to them. “They’re on the house if you do that trick again.”

“Which trick?” Walt raised his eyebrows, trying to look innocent.

“You know which trick.” She uncapped the beer and set it in front of him.

He glanced at the beer, then back to her. “You got a glass?”

“Better than that. I’ve got a bottle of cheap beer back here. You don’t even have to waste yours.”

“What if it doesn’t work?” He looked anxious.

Sabrina laughed and Gypsy grinned at her. “I like this one. She’s got faith.”

“I kind of like her too.” Walt’s sideways grin warmed Sabrina and she couldn’t help smiling back. Walt tapped the bar. “Bring it on, Gypsy. I’m up to any challenge tonight.”

Gypsy let out a whoop that attracted the attention of everyone in the bar area. By the time she’d set the bottle of beer and a glass in front of Walt, the other patrons were crowding around. Sabrina enjoyed her front row seat as she watched Walt pick up the bottle, unscrew the top and take a swig. Then he upended the bottle on the bar with a flourish, somehow not spilling a drop. The crowd oohed appreciatively, then waited as Walt placed a coaster on the bottom of the upended bottle, flipped it back over the right way, then upended it again over the glass. When nothing happened, he pretended to be confused, peered inside for a second while Sabrina and probably the rest of the crowd held their breath, then held it over the glass again, removed the coaster and tapped the bottom of the bottle, producing a gush of beer into the mug. Walt handed the mug to Gypsy with a bow while everyone applauded.

 

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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!”

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Four magicians who’ll make you believe

Seriously, in today’s world, why would you NOT want to believe in magic? When I started writing the Sleight of Hand series, I knew very little about the stage magicians I was writing about. I found magic entertaining and fun and I always had, so I figured why not write about it? I tried it and the result has been incredibly entertaining for me.

My fourth book in the series, Movie Magic, will be out October 31. I’m planning a day of festivities for its release, but I love this series so much, I decided I should re-introduce my magicians here.

So I started with Close Up Magic. Andre Hawke is the magician hero in this one, and he’s your typical tall, dark and sexy with a family he’s devoted to and protective of. He’s already got a lot going on in his life when Stacey Matthewson, a talented entertainment reporter with a checkered past, shows up. How does he deal with her? With a little magic, of course.

Excerpt: Her chest felt tight and she found it hard to breathe. Was he going to kiss her? Dear God, she felt paralyzed. Was this really just desire or did he actually know enough magic to CloseUpMagicEbookRevhold her immobile while he considered whether or not to kiss her? Or did she want his kiss so bad she was willing to sacrifice what was left of her career to get it?

She cleared her throat and fought her way out of whatever spell he’d cast. “I, um, do have another reason—” She reached into her purse.

“Save it.” He dropped her hand. “I don’t talk to the press before shows.”

She couldn’t disguise her astonishment. “How do you know I’m a reporter?”

“Fresh off the plane. I recognize the smell of the soap. Congratulations, you’re the first. This evening, anyway.” He glanced at his watch. “I’m not expecting any more for at least a couple hours.” His glare was sharp. “They probably won’t catch me until after the show.”

Keep in mind that throughout the writing of Close Up Magic, I refused to look up how magic tricks were done. I didn’t want to know. I made up my own magic tricks for the books and tried to imagine ways they could be done, but I didn’t want to spoil the magic for myself.

When I started writing Escape Magic, I figured I better change that. Escape magic is very different from close up magic in that the performer relies on a lot of physical strength and dexterity to accomplish their tricks. I’d been challenged to make one of my magicians a female, and, to my surprise, escape magic lends itself very well to female performers. When I started researching the subject, I was surprised at how many women escape artists there actually are. This led me to create Lady Lydia, a friend of Andre who becomes the love interest of Andre’s brother Tony.

Excerpt: Lydia was not easy to find. He finally located her in a knot of cheering male magicians. 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.”Escape MagicEbook

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.”

Of course, after all that partying in Las Vegas, I was ready for a change of scenery with my next book. That resulted in Island Magic and its reclusive magician hero Ian Logan. Logan is in a sort of self-imposed exile from magic, but when he encounters an old friend in trouble—sexy and damaged divorcee Rachel Duvall—Logan just can’t help but slip back into his magic ways to help her heal.

“I’ll tell you a secret.” He brushed her hair back and leaned over, his lips close to her ear. “Real magicians never have to prepare—as far as you know.”

A pleasant shiver went through her. A vague memory stirred. Her mother in the kitchen prIsland Magic eBookeparing for a dinner party. A good hostess has all her preparation done before the party so it looks like she gets to enjoy everything as much as her guests. She pushed the memory away, knowing it would lead to others where she was the perfect hostess with everything prepared ahead of time. She’d already broken her vow never to cry again once that day. She steeled herself against doing it again.

Lifting her chin, she stepped past him onto the deck. Her hands gripped the white-painted wrought iron railing. His body was solid and warm behind her, but she clung to the cold metal rail as if to keep herself from flying up into the stars. She felt almost certain whatever he was about to do—whatever she was about to see—would surely turn her world upside down.

The tropical sun had set long before. She wondered what time it actually was but didn’t really care enough to find out. Diamonds peppered the velvety black sky, and he wanted her to pick one. She lifted her hand and pointed. “That one.”

He rested his chin on her shoulder, bending his legs so his tall frame molded against hers. She watched his hand the entire time as he reached past her arm, closed his long fingers and brought them back to the glass, releasing the light into the bowl of the wineglass. She stared in wonder at the blue light.

“Did you see a trick?” He smiled at her, offering her the glass, his hand still firmly on top of it.

Finally, we come to Movie Magic. This may be my favorite of the Sleight of Hand books so far. I love the heroine, Sabrina Parker. She’s a plucky, ambitious woman in the Hollywood special effects business. She’s befriended all the other magicians we’ve met so far, using their expertise to create effects for movies that go beyond CGI. But when she needs help on a very special movie, her old friends fail her. They’ve all got projects of their own. What’s a girl to do? Our girl finds Walt Bryson, a sexy, talented children’s magician who lives on the coast of North Carolina. And magic ensues. Magic that involves everything from pirates and Carolina Beaches to the Magic Castle of Hollywood.

She missed the pleasant buzz from the rum. The coffee cleared things up for her too much. Half of her really wanted nothing more than to drink rum and make out with him on this couch in the late afternoon sun while the deck below them bustled with waiters anPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]d the other pirates cleaning up from the afternoon. She really wanted to give in to some crazy impulse. She glared at the innocent cup of coffee. “I miss the rum.”

He laughed softly, brushing her hair back from her face, his fingers tangling briefly in the soft curls. “So do I.” His gaze flickered to her lips and she knew in that moment that she wouldn’t need the rum buzz to kiss him. Oh please, just kiss me already. The thought whispered in her heart, and all she could see for a breathless moment was his lips.

He brushed his thumb over her lips, so tenderly her belly filled with a melting fire. But then he backed away with a reluctant smile. “But maybe we don’t need rum, huh?”

All of my Sleight of Hand books are available at Smashwords, Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and many more of your favorite online book retailers. Pick up one and be ready to believe!

Sleight of Hand Series 2-page0001

Movie Magic (Book 4) Available October 31!

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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!

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Cover Reveal: Movie Magic!

Anyone want to see a magic trick? Ta-daa!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]

Okay, not so much a magic trick, but I sort of feel like this entire book is magic. It started out as something totally different. It was a book called Pirate Magic. Yeah, I know. Goofy. Although maybe not! I might actually write that one someday! Anyway, I digress. That was back in 2014. I had an idea set in Beaufort, N.C., and it was all about pirate cosplayers and it was a lot of fun. But it had too many problems, so then I started writing Movie Magic in 2015 and I set part of it in Beaufort and put some of my pirate cosplayers into this book…and it was a mess.

So obviously I abandoned the whole concept. Went off and wrote and published the first two books of Synchronicity and never looked back…

…Until this summer. I published Time Being in June and turned to the third book of Synchronicity. But, although Timeless is written and waiting for editing, I couldn’t get into it. And I can’t stand to NOT have some sort of writing project going on, so I picked up Movie Magic, and I fell in love with the characters all over again and I edited and rewrote like a madman for a couple of weeks and bam! It was done, the story was told.

I then formatted and edited again and then I called on the fabulous Farah Evers for a cover. For this one, I had such a definite idea of what I wanted, it took no time at all for her to come up with the beautiful cover you see above.

So now what? I have the book. I have the cover. But I always try to release my magic books on October 31, the anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death. So I guess I’m just going to have to start pulling out some magic tricks to entertain you guys for three months!

Stay tuned!

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Coming soon…

Cover Reveal Movie Magic-page0001

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July 30, 2017 · 12:17 pm

Magic in the Wings…

I seem to always have about three novels in the works these days. So after Time Being‘s release in June, I took a couple weeks off and then I picked up one of my previous projects, a Sleight of Hand novel I wrote way back in 2014 during NaNoWriMo.

If you’ve ever completed a National Novel Writing Month novel, you know what you tend to end up with. It’s usually a huge mess. This one, in particular was a bit of a mess to begin with because I’d taken two ideas, Pirate Magic and an untitled novel about a children’s magician, and thrown them in together. The result couldn’t be pretty, right?

Actually, it wasn’t as bad as I’d first thought. I actually enjoyed unraveling the knots I’d tied my plot into and filling in the holes. I really fell in love with my characters all over again. If you’ve read Island Magic, you’ll recognize Sabrina Parker, the tough and talented special effects expert who helped magician Ian Logan fake a plane crash on a remote tropical island. And Walt Bryson, children’s magician, makes a perfect love interest for the intrepid Ms. Parker.

It’s a match made in the stars—Hollywood stars, that is!

Anyway, here’s the blurb, which may change a bit before I’m done. I’m always tweaking these things, right up until I’m ready to publish it. I’m hoping to have this one out by October. It still needs another copy-editing run-through and maybe even a little light editing, but for the most part the story is done, and here it is:

Lights…camera…magic!

Sabrina Parker has spent her professional life creating unbelievable stunts and magical effects for movies and stage magicians. Now she needs a magician to help her bring a very special movie to life. Her search leads her to the very unlikely stage of Walt Bryson, host of a long-running children’s television show in Beaufort, North Carolina.

Walt isn’t terribly happy about taking Hollywood’s call. He’s never sought the same notoriety as his Ian Logan and Andre Hawke. But there’s something about the beautiful, levelheaded Ms. Parker, and when he reads her screenplay, he knows he wants to work with her. For the first time in years, he’s willing to put tragedy behind him and make real magic.

 

Can Walt and Sabrina use love as their guide or will their past mistakes haunt their future?

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