Prize Drawing Complete

I’ve drawn names and notified the winners via email. Check your accounts, including your spam folder just in case.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you all for following.

I know I’ve said it before, but the release of these books has been so exciting for me. I hope you all enjoy reading the stories as much as I did writing them. I wish you all the best.

Sleight of Hand #1: Private Performance — for only 99 cents!

Prize Drawing Winners Soon Announced

We’re set to draw the winners for free copies of books from my Sleight of Hand series, and for the Amazon gift cards. I expect we will be able to announce those winners sometime on Monday.

In the meantime, I want to thank everyone who has followed and shown an interest in my books. They’ve been a lot of hard work. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to have so many people finally ready to read them. Thank you all so much!

By the way, if you missed my interviews, you can still catch them here, here and here.

Shout-out to all my new followers

I’d like to thank everyone for following, and wish you luck in the coming prize drawing. I’d also like to thank the bloggers and reviewers who’ve participated in my blog tour this month. Next week, I have an interview with Bianca at Wicked With Ink. I’m very much looking forward to it.

In the meantime, enjoy a few magic tricks: Magic for the Blind.

Inferno

A good magic trick is like a good story. It has dramatic imagery. It engages your emotions. Its ending is both surprising and inevitable.

A good magic trick doesn’t have to have a story (just as a good story doesn’t have to have a magic trick). Some do, but most magical stories are corny nonsense (e.g., “My grandfather gave me this coin on his deathbed…”).

Here’s one of my favorite magic tricks by a very talented man named Joshua Jay.

The things I like about it are the same things I appreciate in a story. It becomes apparent that we’re eliminating cards from the deck, but he never says anything about the last card until he asks his spectator to open the matchbox. He doesn’t say “Get ready to see what the remaining card is, because you won’t believe your eyes!” He lets the imagery speak for itself. (The fact that the last card is singed by flame is a lovely touch, too.)

I also like the respect he shows his audience. Personally, I find the way a lot of magicians talk to women to be embarrassing. Hearing them makes me feel like I’m watching Michael Scott tell racist jokes in an episode of The Office. Oh, I squirm. Joshua Jay’s far more easygoing and affable than the guys I’m talking about. Even when he tells the woman, “You’re sick,” he knows the joke will play. I mean, she did just say she wanted to see him burn. But then he shrugs, and does her bidding. (A poorer magician would turn it around and say something about burning women instead.) Most importantly, at no point during this performance do I get a sense that Jay feels superior to his spectators — and oh boy is that a problem in magic.

It’s also a big problem in storytelling. I mean, the author’s the one holding all the cards. Hell, authors are creating our own worlds, our own people over here. Why shouldn’t we feel superior?

Well, because even a novel is a collaborative artwork. Sure, it’s not like theater or a rock show, but I need the pictures in your head to tell my story. My words don’t work without those pictures. You and your brain are doing all the work.

Magicians and authors both would do well to remember how essential their audience is to what they’re trying to accomplish.

Without you, dear reader, there’s no fire.

Magic hit squad gonna make me disappear

A few of my friends have asked me, after reading an advance copy of Private Performance, whether magicians are going to be upset with me.

To a romance novelist, the word ‘exposure’ has delectable connotations, but to a magician it’s deadly. If you ever want to get a magi’s heart rate up (and not in a good way), remind them of that FOX series “Breaking the Magician’s Code.” It exposed the methods of many popular illusions. All in all, it was an ugly affair.

So where do I get off talking about these secrets in my books? Well, for one thing, that FOX show was on TV, and its audience received it passively. “Oh,” a viewer might have said at the time, “so that’s how it’s done. Huh.”

Reading a book’s more intimate than that. A book’s the perfect place to learn some secrets.

Plus — how does the old phrase go? “If you ever want to keep a secret, put it in a book.” Everything you could ever want to learn about magic has already been published. Some old-school practitioners grumble, but it’s better this way. For one thing, it levels the playing field. Magic’s still such a boys’ club. Thanks to the Internet, it doesn’t have to be anymore. You don’t have to please some misogynist fart behind closed doors to learn some great tricks. Now you can hit up your favorite online retailer, or, to a lesser extent, just go to YouTube.

I’m not giving anything away in my book that isn’t already “out there” in one way or another.

So I mention flash paper. So I talk about “the pass.”

But the biggest thing I’m giving away is this: magicians have to practice. They go into a room and rehearse, like dancers, like singers, like athletes. They’ll do it over and over until they get it right. I’ve stayed up until 3 in the morning, practicing a single move. I looked at the clock and was flummoxed. I never lose track of time like that. I’ve talked to other magicians about it; they’ve had the same experience. We enter into a state of flow when we’re rehearsing. We can’t stop. We don’t want to stop.

And the real tragedy is that, when we’re done, we can’t show anyone. Oh, we can show them the trick. We love to do that. But the thing we practiced for hours and days and weeks and even months — the move itself — the beautiful, curious little move — has to stay hidden. Or else the magic doesn’t work.

Every good magician is burning to show you something they’re not allowed to.

Which is what Private Performance is. It’s the move you’re not supposed to see.