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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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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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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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Filed under Movie Magic, Sleight of Hand, Writing