Tag Archives: magicians

Wrapping up launch day so I can go trick-or-treating!

I’ve spent today having so much fun talking to some of you, blogging, bragging about knowing Arjay Lewis and even reading to you (check out my first post of the day). It’s been a blast of a launch day (pun intended), but all things must come to an end. By now I’ve contacted my winners of books and Amazon gift cards. I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this day a success, whether it was by leaving a comment or just by reading the blog. Special thanks to Arjay for letting me interview him!

Everyone have a wonderful Halloween. And if anyone hears from Houdini, please let me know. And above all else, BELIEVE.

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October 31 and magic

Why do I launch my magic books on October 31? Could be one of several reasons. For instance, did you know on October 31, 2011, the global population reached seven billion for the first time in history? Yep. That day is officially known as the Day of Seven Billion. So, you know, lots of potential readers out there.

But that’s not it.

October 31 is, of course, All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints’ Day or Halloween, depending on your religion or lack of it. It’s a day for remembering the dead. A day for spirits and magick.

But that’s not it.

When I first started out my quest to make magic romantic, I did a lot of research about magicians. I read about magicians and magic through history. I researched different types of magic from illusion to mentalism. I watched videos, old and new. From David Copperfield and David Blaine to Houdini. I found out that Harry Houdini, master escape magician whose water torture escapes still elude much of the magical community, died on October 31.

And that’s it.

That’s it because not only did he die on October 31 but because of a pact with his wife, Bess, to do his best to contact her from beyond the grave, a seance is still held every year on the anniversary of his death. In fact, multiple seances are held. There’s even an online one. Harry Houdini, 91 years after death, is still encouraging people to believe.

That’s what I want to do with my writing. It’s why I started writing about magicians. I love that magicians can help us believe in something beyond ourselves, even when we know there’s a trick. A well-performed magic trick can, even for an instant, help us believe that maybe there’s something more out there.

Speaking of believing: This is the 90th year of the Houdini Seance. Do you believe Houdini will choose this year to contact us?

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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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Welcome Nakul Shenoy! And happy birthday, ISLAND MAGIC

Aha! Welcome to party central! It’s the birthday of my new book, Island Magic, and I figured…what better way to celebrate than to have a real live email interview posted on my blog? Nakul Shenoy and I have been twitter buddies since I first started getting seriously interested in magic. He was the first magician to take me seriously, and he’s even read a couple of my books! Now it’s my turn. He has a book about magic coming out, and I thought it’d be a good chance to return the favor. Please help me make him welcome. Also, I’ve decided to give out a $10 Amazon gift card to one random commenter on my blog today, so leave Nakul a question, then beat tracks over to Amazon to buy your copy of Island Magic, if you haven’t already!

~The Interview~

#001_NakulShenoy_ProfileFirst of all, let me be honest, I dont want to know the secrets of my favorite magic tricks. I prefer to believe. Should I read your book?

Indeed, Michelle! I agree. Belief in magic is what keeps many of us going; it inspires us to create effects and presentations that represent ‘real magic’. Anyway, my book is not as much about the tricks, as much as it is about learning to present and perform magic. In many ways the real secrets to creating a magical experience.

This book will serve as a good guide to anybody interested in putting together an effective performance in magic, while also helping them in various ways to improve their confidence, public speaking, and social skills.

You should read my book simply because it is a wonderful thing to be able to amaze and entertain others using magic, and it helps us bring smiles to people’s faces.

Whats the biggest misconception about learning to perform magic?

Good question! The way I see it – and this is based on the numerous interactions I have had over the years – there are two major misconceptions about learning magic.

One, people think magic is performed using hypnosis. That in many ways could be attributed to the mysterious passes and gestures that the magicians perform as part of their act. As romantic as it may sound, hypnotism has really not much to do with the stage magic that we encounter most of the time.

The second misconception is that tricks make magic. Much as this is true, the technical aspects of the trick itself – also called method – has a limited role to play in the performance of magic. A magical performance is embellished with the story, presentation, and premise of the effect; it is this that makes a trick into a miracle. Yet, many of us – including professional magicians – cannot get over the search for the perfect method. Somehow, we can’t get over the belief that learning the secrets of tricks is what makes the best magic.

Whats your best advice for aspiring magicians?

The first, second, and third rule of magic is Practice, Practice, Practice. You really have to internalise the workings and handling of a magic trick, before you can even take it to a rehearsal stage – let alone perform before a live audience.

That aside, the focus of the magician has to be on making magic, magical. As weird as that may sound, in many ways we forget what made us get into magic – that feeling of something being real and amazing – and get too caught up in performing magic tricks, because we can. As far as the aspiring magician remembers to give all the attention to the performance, the presentation that creates the feeling of magic in the audience’s minds, they will create magic, and not just perform a puzzle for the audience to solve.

How do you go about teaching someone to perform magic?

Magic is both an art and a craft. It involves skills that have to be learnt first, then mastered, before they can be crafted together into a charming performance. Much like a musician has to learn and master musical notes and a dancer has to learn and master dance steps, the aspiring magician too has to first concentrate on the basics. Once that step has been crossed comes the performance part, where the focus has to shift on learning and mastering the basics of acting. The words of Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin – the father of modern magic – comes to mind here: the magician is but an actor playing the role of a magician.

Why did you decide to write the Smart Course in Magic?

I took to magic as a 5-year-old kid, fascinated by Mandrake the Magician. I wanted to be Mandrake. In many ways, I still do. I took to seeing any magic show that came my way, as many times as I could. I took to reading anything and everything remotely connected to magic. Somewhere down the line, I found books that dealt with tricks, and later also some that dealt with the performance of magic.

It is just fortuitous that I am where I am today in the world of magic, as I had a lot of things falling into place at the right time – to get the proper guidance, mentorship, and of course friendship. This is linked to a lot of circumstances coming together in the right way – a feat no less magical.

The idea for the Smart Course in Magic came though as I wanted to create a workshop in a book. Not one that taught numerous magic tricks – there are too many already in the market – but one that focused on presenting magic in the way it should be. So in this book, the tricks are incidental; they are taught only in the context of learning a larger concept of magical performance. I do believe I have delivered what I intended with this book.

 

How did you choose mind reading as your specialty in magic?

This came more recently. I was performing stage magic – the conjuring and illusion variety – for about 10 years. Yet somewhere I found that I was going away from my idea of Mandrake The Magician. He did not seem to have a 10-member troupe or a truck load of equipment. That was when I discovered psychological magic or magic of the mind. Dabbling in that allowed me to create an onstage persona of The Mind Reader. And so most of what I do today is limited to the ‘powers’ that I have attributed to that persona.

Have you ever performed other types of magic? Illusion? Sleight of hand?

Yes! I have walked the path, so to say. I began with close up and conjuring magic – mostly the sleight of hand variety. Then I moved to the stage magic – as I found that more fitting to my context, and performed shows with illusions and conjuring effects. As I said earlier, the move to mind reading was my need – to push myself to other realms of magical performance; to entertain audiences in the best way available to me.

Mind reading is very different from other types of magic, but I imagine they use some of the same psychology. How do you see this?

Yes, they are all various genres of magic. And in many ways, the basic rules remain the same. The methods are varied and different, but what makes any type of magic – magic, is the performance of the same. Yet, there is a great difference in the way you are perceived by the audience, basically because of the premise you are performing in and of course the story of the presentation itself. I like it because there is nothing much to hide behind, and it is magical performance at its purest. It is just the audience and you the performer – with minimal focus on props.

Do humans as a whole want to be fooled?

I do have a theory on that, but in this context I would say that we do wish to be entertained. And in the best possible way. Dariel Fitzkee once wrote, “the audience is there to be entertained – entertained by magic” while reminding that magic was only one of the various other modes of entertainment available. This is a truism I hold dear, and remind myself all the time.

If the focus of our performance is to entertain and entertain with magic, then it never matters what the audience is there originally for and with what intent. So again, whether we wish to be fooled or not, I sincerely believe we wish to be entertained.

What is the biggest challenge magicians face today?

Like everything else in life, the digital age is changing things faster than we realise. Television brought along opportunities to take magic to homes, and now the internet has provided the opportunity to take it to everybody in the connected world. Yet, the real joy of magic is in the performance of it – in front of a live audience. And similarly, it is best enjoyed in first person, live. Somehow, in today’s tech world we are losing the charm of the live theatre performances, and this to me is the biggest challenge for the craft and its practitioners.

Okay, you knew I was going to ask. Can you read my mind over the internet?

Haha! Yes, I indeed did. I think it is best that I share that thought offline!

Ha! Get on out of here, magic man. Thanks for stopping by!

If you want to know more about Nakul, check out his bio below:

NAKUL SHENOY is The Mind Reader – an expert magician and hypnotist based in Bangalore, India. A leading corporate speaker and entertainer with unique insights on communication and people behaviour, he travels the world addressing elite audiences drawn from top corporates.

Nakul took to magic at the age of five via his fascination for the comic book ‘Mandrake The Magician’. He performed his first public show at the age of 15, and since then has continued in his self-professed journey to be “a real-life Mandrake”.

Over the last two decades, Nakul has grown to be a sought-after entertainer for Fortune 500 companies and other coveted events, and has performed at venues in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, UK and the USA.

A compulsive reader of books “on every topic under the Sun and beyond,” he haunts Twitter as @nakulshenoy. Nakul’s first book on performance titled ‘Smart Course in Magic’ will be published by HarperCollins India in December 2014.

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Join me June 1 for the Close Up Magic Release Day celebration!: What’s magic to YOU?

Join me June 1 for Close Up Magic’s official release day celebration! It’ll be magic and books and magic books and…LAS VEGAS!!!…all day long. I’ll be posting pictures of me in magical Las Vegas locations all day on June 1. You’ll be able to find me on Facebook, Twitter and right here! Best of all, I want you to be part of the action. I’ve got a list of locations I want to visit in Las Vegas, but I want you to help me out. What about Vegas is magic to YOU? Is it the magicians? The casinos? The over-the-top architecture of places of like Caesar’s Palace and The Venetian? Leave me your suggestions of the best places to use as a backdrop for a picture of me holding Close Up Magic and I’ll do my very best to get there. Plus, if you suggest a place for me to go, I’ll enter you to win a $20 Amazon gift card that you can magically transform into merchandise from Amazon!

I will be posting on my blog all day, but here’s a list of other places where you can find me on June 1:
Twitter
Michelle Garren Flye Facebook Fan Page
Close Up Magic Facebook Fan Page

Look forward to seeing you there!

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The Countdown: So Much to Do, So Little Time!! (Exciting news at the end!)

June 1. The release of my contemporary romance novel Close Up Magic. I feel it coming like the blind curve in a roller coaster. You know the one at the top of the long climb that curves around a partition and you just can’t tell what’s past it? Yep. That’s the one. It might be a plunging fall, it might be more twists and turns. It might be a climb to a higher peak.

Oh my.

When I took on the quest of self-publishing the novel of my dreams, I don’t think I fully appreciated what I was doing. It’s so much easier to turn a book over to a publisher and let them do the work. Let me tell you three things I’ve discovered over the course of the past month.

1. If you’re really gonna do everything you can to sell a book, you’re not going to have time to write.
2. I can survive on four hours of sleep a night, but only if I don’t drink wine.
3. There are some really great people, both in the Twitter-verse and in my own back yard that are willing to help me.

Now that June 1 is right around the corner, I’m looking forward to breathing at least a little sigh of relief. Because no matter what I find around that blind curve, I’ll finally be AROUND it, you know? Success or failure or just more of the same awaits me there, and I plan to embrace it no matter what. Because at least I’ll be there.

So what have I been up to in the world of writing?

1. Finishing up my posts for the Close Up Magic virtual book tour starting on June 3. It’s gonna be loads of fun, so stay tuned!
2. Rounding up reviews. If you missed them, you can find links and excerpts to some of them on the Close Up Magic page of this blog. Here’s a link: Close Up Magic. There are also more on Goodreads and Amazon! BTW, you can also read the ENTIRE first chapter of Close Up Magic on the blog page!
3. Speaking of Goodreads, you can register to win a copy of Close Up Magic here: Goodreads Giveaway.
4. Finalizing and proofreading advance copies of Close Up Magic. I want it to be as perfect as possible for those who buy it!
5. Writing guest posts on friends’ blogs. Many thanks to my friends Zoe Dawson, Donna Steele, Nancy Lee Badger and all the wonderful romance authors at the Contemporary Romance Cafe for allowing me to voice my thoughts on their blogs over the past couple of months!
6. Organizing my thoughts about magic and some of my research in some interesting ways. Want to know more? Check out my Goodreads magic history quiz, my Listmania list of magic books, or my Close Up Magic Facebook Page.

Don’t forget you can still enter to win a Kindle Paperwhite! Like my Facebook Close Up Magic page, Tweet (and tag me) about my book Close Up Magic, post about my book Close Up Magic (and tag me) on Facebook or blog about my book Close Up Magic. Each one is an entry and you can enter as often as you like. Just make sure I know about it. Winner will be announced as soon as possible on June 1.

How can you make the Close Up Magic release day even more special?

Wonder of wonders, guess where I’m going to be on June 1? Las Vegas. The actual setting of my book! This has got to be fate. Karma. I absolutely did NOT plan it. My husband and I are going to Vegas for our anniversary, which just happens to fall at the end of May. And we’ll still be there June 1! I’ve been looking for places to visit in Vegas, which, as most people know, has a rich history in the business of magic. So far I’ve come up with a few, but I’d love to have some more suggestions. I’m inviting everyone who reads my blog to suggest a magical place for me to visit while I’m in Vegas. I’ll go to as many as I can, take a picture of me with the book and then Tweet and blog the pictures on June 1. And everyone who suggests a spot for me to visit gets entered into a drawing for a $20 Amazon gift card! Can’t beat that, can you? So come on, send me your suggestions! Email to michellegflye (at) gmail (dot) com, leave them on my Close Up Magic Facebook Page or right here in the comments!

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Musings on Magic Memories and a Few Announcements without Alliteration

I’ve been reading some “how-to” type books about magic and it got me thinking. When did I really get interested in magic? It feels like I’ve always been fascinated by magical things, and I can’t ever pass up a magic show, whether it’s on the corner of a street fair or at a birthday party or in Las Vegas. If somebody wants to get my attention, they just need to whip out a pack of cards and tell me to pick one.

But when did it all begin? Well, I’ve mentioned the magic show my mother took me to way back when I was a little girl. I was probably about five or so, because the memory is very dim, as if most of the lights are out in that particular room of my memory attic. I remember bits and pieces of the show. I think he may have pulled some animal or other out of a hat…maybe a rabbit, maybe a dove. I know I remember the rings because they glittered and fascinated me. But the best–and worst–part of the show was the end.

All the little kids had been told to pick a carpet square to sit on in the front of the audience. Normally I was a timid thing that wouldn’t have wanted to leave my mother’s side, but I had done it for this show. I wanted to see the magician and his beautiful assistant up close. I think the carpet square I selected was tiger striped, but my memory may have added that. I know I was sitting stage left.

For the finale, the magician announced one of us was sitting on a magic carpet and his assistant would come down and get us and help us make the carpet fly. Of course this was very exciting to a room full of children. Who was the lucky one? To my childish amazement, the assistant came directly to me, led me onto the stage and handed me over to the magician.

He probably asked me some questions. I can’t really remember. I’m sure he asked my name and how old I was. I think he asked me if I wanted to fly. I do remember he lifted me onto a carpeted table and told me to sit very still and close my eyes. And not to open my eyes until he told me I could. Of course I obeyed. I was no rebel. I’d been taught to behave myself and listen to adults. Of course, if I’d opened my eyes, I might never have believed in magic again, because I probably would have seen the trick.

And that’s the real magic I remember from that day. Of the fifty or so kids in the audience, how did he and/or his assistant know to pick me? I might have been the only child out there too timid to do anything other than what the adults told her to. Most kids would peek. Most kids would open their eyes unless you duct-taped them shut. My daughter would. But I would never have thought to do such a thing, and so I sat still, eyes tight shut while I heard the audience ooh and aah and clap. And then the magician, smiling in triumph no doubt, helped me down and told me to take a bow.

That’s not just my favorite magic memory. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories, and it’s definitely the beginning of my lifelong love for magic.

On to the announcements.

You may notice some slight changes to my blog. On the right side of your screen, you’ll see a lovely new JPEG announcing my virtual book tour in June. Watch this space for my blog tour engagements. I’ll get them up soon.

Also, I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be hosting fellow romance author Donna Steele, who’ll be discussing her newest release and writing and whatever else she takes a mind to this Friday. Meanwhile, I plan to insinuate myself into her blog over at SteeleStories.com and blab about magic and Close Up Magic and whatever I can get anyone to listen to. Hope you’ll check in both places and say hey!

Finally, a reminder! You can still enter to win the Kindle Paperwhite. Enter as often as you like. You can enter by tweeting about Close Up Magic and tagging me (@michellegflye), liking the Close Up Magic Facebook Page, posting about Close Up Magic on your Facebook page and tagging me or the Close Up Magic Facebook Page, blogging about Close Up Magic…etc. I’m doing my best to catch every entry, but go ahead and make it hard for me! I like a challenge.

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