Tag Archives: magic

Just a week and a day away from magic.

Movie Magic, my twelfth novel, hits the virtual bookshelves next Tuesday. I’m happy to say this is my best novel yet because it means I’m still improving. I’ve always believed that if you ever think you know everything about the art you practice, you are (a) wrong and (b) gonna get bored fast.

Art is a truly funny thing. It’s everywhere in so many different forms you sometimes miss it. Most people think of art as painting or drawing, but in truth, art is everywhere you look. Everything that someone has put some thought and inspiration and work into in order to create, that’s art. Everything from gardens to cars and buildings. Leonardo DaVinci said we should study the science of art and the art of science in order to learn how everything connects to everything else.

I think this is what I mean when I say there’s magic everywhere and in everyone’s lives if they learn how to look. Right now, I’m watching the wind blow leaves from the trees outside. There’s science there—the biology, physics, meteorology—but what I’m most interested in is the beauty of the yellow-green leaves glinting in the sunlight as they twirl their way down, sometimes lifting a little to sail on the wind a little before continuing their downward dance.

It’s like a play that’s gone from the playwright’s dreams to a director’s plans to the actors’ interpretations—a three-dimensional painting combining art and science and resulting in magic.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment on here for your chance to win the Movie Magic Contest. Leave a comment on any post on this blog telling me about a time you experienced magic for a chance to win a bottle of the magic-inspired perfume I created on Waft.com and a copy of Movie Magic. Contest ends October 28, 2017 and winner will be announced at 10 a.m. Eastern October 31, 2017 on this blog as part of my release day festivities for Movie Magic. Entrants should check this blog for details on how to provide me with a shipping address in case they win.

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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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Admiring the mystery and magic of life

Harry Houdini once said, “I am a great admirer of mystery and magic. Look at this life—all mystery and magic.” He also claimed that scientists could not accept magic as a science simply because they couldn’t understand it. And though he worked for years to discredit fake mediums, the anniversary of his death (October 31) is still celebrated by some with a séance in the hopes of that he will send a message proving he’s still out there…somewhere.

Houdini guarded his secrets closely, even having his assistants sign secrecy agreements. He obviously knew that the magic of his performance lay in the ignorance of his audience to his methods. So why—to this day—does his name still bear so much magic? I believe the answer is simple. Houdini believed, and that belief carries on.

Magicians are performers and magic is a science that combines performance with physics, chemistry and even biology. Every trick has a secret, but when you see it performed by a capable performer—magic. But as Houdini said, life is full of magic. The Celts, as I was recently reminded, believed in “thin places” between the living world and the eternal world. For the Celts, most of these were fixed places, but I believe you can find them anywhere.

For instance:

  1. The double rainbow I saw over the bookstore the week Steve Jobs died.
  2. The smell of honeysuckle.
  3. Hummingbirds.
  4. The rainbow I saw in Germany when we were unintentionally sidetracked.
  5. Some sunsets. Here’s one:IMG_5926
  6. Moonlight on water. Almost always. Case in point:Juneau moonlight
  7. Flowers in general, but specifically daffodils. And some roses.
  8. Some movies.
  9. Some books.
  10. Alaska. I realized this when I saw salmon swimming upstream. It may be one of the last of the truly magical places, certainly in the U.S.

I could go on, but I’m really more interested in what magic means to you. Which is why I’m running the contest inviting you to share your favorite “thin place”/magical experience. (See “Movie Magic Contest”—above right—for rules.) Leave me a comment below to enter!

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To my readers: Let’s get together.

In twenty-one days, Movie Magic hits virtual shelves everywhere. Meaning my part is done, and it’s up to you guys, my readers, to take it to the next level. You want to know what that feels like for the author?

For me, at least, it’s a strange sort of terrified resignation. I have such great hopes, and I know they can be dashed. Because they have before. Twelve books now—each one well-written with good plots and engaging characters (this from reviewers, not my personal assessment)—but not a bestseller among them. And no matter what I say about writing for myself, it’s not totally true, and I know it. I’m really writing for you.

Who are you? I’ve had the distinct pleasure of hearing from some of my readers. I love reviews because they give me an opportunity to know what I did right and fix what I did wrong the next time, but I never reply to them, although I always “like” them if given the option by the platform. Emails are even better. And I’ve even been invited to speak at a couple of book clubs. So much fun to discuss my book with someone who has read it!

I’m planning something special for the release of Movie Magic. A way for you guys to get to know me, if you so desire. It’s something that’s way out of my comfort zone, so I actually have to make sure it’s something I really want to do, but I’m thinking I’ll be able to do it. If you want to know more, join my Facebook party by clicking the graphic below. I look forward to seeing you there!

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Movie Magic release party!

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Abracadabra: A Facebook Party!

Hope you’ll join me on Facebook on October 31 for a Movie Magic release party!

Sleight of Hand Series 2-page0001

Movie Magic release party!

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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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An abracadabrangle for today

The origin of the word “Abracadabra” is intriguing. In the second century it was recommended that those suffering from serious diseases wear an amulet with an “abracadabrangle” or Abracadabra cone. In other words, the word “Abracadabra” written over and over with the last letter left off. This would, supposedly, make the disease go away.

Imagine living in an age before any real medicine or medical care. When disease and infection were rampant and hope was dim. Magic must have seemed like the only hope to those who suffered. Imagine writing the magic word you’d been given and wrapping it tightly in linen to tie around your neck with a rough bit of thread. Worth a try, right?

And now? What place does such snake oil have in our culture today? Think about all the ails of the world that we cannot, individually, heal. Those who suffer from hunger and fear and loss. Undiagnosed and untreated mental illness. Cruelty and murder in the names of religion or culture or desperation.

If there were a magical charm, wouldn’t it be worth a try?

ABRACADABRA

ABRACADABR

ABRACADAB

ABRACADA

ABRACAD

ABRACA

ABRAC

ABRA

ABR

AB

A

Movie Magic Contest!

Leave a comment on any post on this blog telling me about a time you experienced magic for a chance to win a bottle of the magic-inspired perfume I created on Waft.com and a copy of Movie Magic. Contest ends October 28, 2017 and winner will be announced at 10 a.m. Eastern October 31, 2017 on this blog as part of my release day festivities for Movie Magic. Entrants should check this blog for details on how to provide me with a shipping address in case they win.

 

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