Just a quick note here to let you know I’ll be at Mumfest this year, representing both Michelle Garren Flye and my alter ego Shelley Gee, who you might know as the writer of charming children’s mysteries. I will have copies of all my books, including my poetry booklet, which is in limited release (meaning you either have to go to The Next Chapter Books & Art or find me to purchase a copy). I’ve cut the prices for Mumfest weekend if you buy directly from me, so it’s a great time to stock up on good books! I hope to meet some of you at Mumfest. I’ll be in the purple tent on Middle Street with my friend Noel of Blissworks. It’s hard to miss! Noel’s artwork is fantastic!
I’ve never liked that phrase “the exception that proves the rule”. If there’s an exception, then it proves the rule is faulty, right? Or does it prove that there is a rule to begin with? Or is it that you’re “testing” (proving) the rule with your exception?
No matter what, the expression is rife with possibilities for misinterpretation.
Which is why I’ve decided that Dickens Magic, which is most definitely an exception to my normal formula for Sleight of Hand books, proves nothing. Nothing except that I will go where my characters and their story lead me.
But how is Dickens Magic different from my other books? First of all, the hero and heroine are not magicians. Neither one of them. They aren’t involved in magic (at first, at least) in any way.
Second, Dickens Magic does not take place in any exotic locales like Las Vegas or the Caribbean or Hollywood. There is one very brief scene in New York City. The rest of the book is set entirely in New Bern, N.C., one of the least exotic locales you could ever want to visit.
Third, Dickens Magic’s setting centers around a building. It’s actually a building I love. The Masonic Theatre where RiverTowne Players performs. And it’s based on my own theatrical exploits. I tell everyone my recent desire to be an actress is my midlife crisis. And I’m good with that. But the truth is, if I had never walked into that theater with my daughter when she auditioned for The Little Mermaid, Jr. at the age of five, that midlife crisis would probably have lain dormant forever. I couldn’t do it anywhere else, I’m pretty sure.
Finally, I never put myself in my books. I can honestly say I’ve never read one of my books and seen myself in it. But this one, I kind of did, although I didn’t realize it until the final round of editing. It startled me at first when I noticed it, and certainly it’s not a real clear portrait of who I am, but it’s there. I’m not one of the main characters, though, so don’t think I think I’m the multitalented Kate.
So, my exception is out there. It doesn’t prove a thing. I’ll return to the rules (or most of them, at least) next time. Though maybe I’ll decide it’s more fun breaking the rules, especially the rules I’ve made myself.
Yesterday, my family and I fled our home on the coastal plain of North Carolina. We made the decision on the spur of the moment, and if my son hadn’t started college this fall and I wanted so badly to be with him, we might not have made it. So I know why others stayed.
I’ve heard it over and over. From well-meaning people and authorities and news reporters. Why would you stay? Why would you risk your family’s lives that way?
Indulge me in a little story. It’s a different story than most that you’ll hear about evacuating, but to me, it gets to the heart of why it is so difficult to leave. It takes place after we’d spent days getting our house ready for the hurricane that we anxiously tracked day after day after day.
It takes place after we packed our most precious photo albums and possessions and what we’d need to survive a week away from home into the cars with two kids, two dogs, two cats and a bearded dragon and set off for the Airbnb we’d found that would allow our small farm to take up residence.
It takes place after we arrived safely and told our family and friends that all was well and walked the dogs and fed the cats and ate a frozen pizza at midnight, smiling because we knew we’d see my oldest son soon.
It takes place after I got ready for bed and as I reached into my bag for a charge cord for my phone and found the one I’d brought—and suddenly my world felt like it might just fall apart. A blue cord, that I’d bought because it matched my bedspread so well. It was usually plugged in by my nightstand. It didn’t belong here in this little house and I desperately wished that I’d left it at home.
And that’s when it hit me. Home really might not be there anymore. That charge cord might be all that was left of my bedroom decor. And yes, it’s a trite thing when compared to life and limb, but the nerve-wracking week of preparation and vacillating between staying and going, the exhausting drive to unfamiliar territory where all we can do is wait until we find out if and when we can return home all coalesced for a moment in that blue charge cord I held in my hand and I wished with all my heart that I could be back home.
We know we did the right thing. We heeded the mandatory evacuation order and left. We are not in danger of anything except being inconvenienced as we wait and worry about friends and possessions we left behind. We are together and that is what matters. But every time I look at that blue charge cord, I am homesick, and I know why those who stayed did so. It’s not about possessions or greed or foolishness. It’s about home.
They stayed because they needed to be with the world they knew.
I just realized it’s August 31, exactly two months until Movie Magic releases! I’m very 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!
Anyone want to see a magic trick? Ta-daa!
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!
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:
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?
Earth Day is over, so I feel a little safer making a confession. My carbon footprint is huge.
It’s not on purpose. I love animals. I’m concerned about the environment. I vote Democrat (although at times I’m not sure this helps a WHOLE heckuva lot). I truly believe that we humans damage the planet and someday we’ll regret it.
I also drive an SUV (mid-size, not huge) because I have three kids and when we’re on a family trip, that third-row seating is invaluable. And though I try to make it to the Farmer’s Market or stop at the roadside stands to buy local, it’s often more practical to buy my veggies at the grocery store (I do pay the extra buck for an organic avocado, though).
I’m repulsed by bugs and terrified by spiders, so I don’t garden. Well, except for container gardening. I have made a few ventures into that arena. I donate often to charities that say they support endangered wildlife, but I often wonder if their frequent mailings don’t use most of the money I send them. (I would opt out of that junk mail, but, really, have you tried to opt out of junk mail? It should be simple, but it’s really not.)
I make purchases from Amazon instead of going to the store. That way I can indulge my natural disinclination to make contact with other human beings. And I buy books. Lots of books. Because when the EMP goes off and ebooks are no longer available, I’m going to need something to read.
I feel guilty about these things I do wrong—and not just on Earth Day—but I can’t promise I will change. I probably won’t ride my bike to work or walk to the store because it’s impractical for me as a mother of three. However, in honor of Mother Earth, which I love even though I feel certain she will wreak her revenge on humans one day, I make three resolutions:
1. I will buy 99 percent of my wine from vineyards in North Carolina. When I don’t buy local, I’ll buy European wines because shipping from Europe causes less environmental damage than trucking across the U.S. from California.
2. I will buy organic produce as often as possible. Even when it’s not necessarily better for me, it’s better for the environment if it is grown by a farmer who doesn’t use poisonous pesticides that kill honeybees and other beneficial insects.
3. I will no longer renew or purchase magazine or newspaper subscriptions. These are unnecessary as most of them are available either free or for a comparable price online.
These are tiny things and many, many people could look at my life and tell me of SO many other places I could change to reduce my carbon footprint. And maybe I will, but for now, this is what Earth Day for the rest of us is like.