A Few Reviews

Screen shot 2016-04-25 at 9.09.18 AMIt’s been far too long since I talked about what I’ve been reading, and I hope to get back to doing this on a regular basis. Here are a few stories I’ve particularly enjoyed lately.

Rainbow’s Edge by Leland and Angelo Dirks

If you’ve read any of the TwoMinutesGo flash fiction either here or on JD Mader’s blog, then you might know Leland Dirks. I’ve been a fan of his writing since I read Jimmy Mender and His Miracle Dog, and I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of Rainbow’s Edge. And I could not stop reading it. In fact, I read it twice. I was completely pulled into the world of this story, a journey of a father and son unspooling the truth of a troubled past as the son lays comatose in his hospital bed. It would have been so easy to push a story like this into melodrama and sentimentality, but in the hands of this skilled author, it is neither of those things. If you enjoy magic realism and tales of redemption and forgiveness, I highly recommend this moving and beautifully written story. (Available for preorder here until April 30.)

FScreen shot 2016-04-25 at 9.02.23 AMinding Travis by Melissa Bowersock (No Time for Travis, Book One)

As of this writing, Finding Travis is up for nomination on Kindle Scout. I am a fan of Melissa Bowersock’s smooth, agile writing style. And I think this story is one of my favorites of hers. Travis is adrift, his marriage all but over, spending his free time as a historical re-enactor for tourists visiting Arizona’s Fort Verde. Then a celestial anomaly—we think—pulls him back in time to the frontier days at the same location, where he is assigned to medical duties in a world before the existence of penicillin and modern surgical hygiene practices. The historical details are seamlessly woven with the plot and the character development (I have a book-crush on Travis’s assistant, Riley), making for a lovely, engaging read. I hear there’s a sequel coming, and I can’t wait to read it.

Wife Material: A Novel of Misbehavior and Freedom by Deborah Cox

I like getting out of my comfort zone once in a while, so I chose this title. Wife Material tells a story of religious abuse and sexual repression in the modern Church of Christ. This was one powerful, fascinating, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching story. I was so deep into the reading that at one point, my husband popped into my room and I actually got angry at the disruption. I couldn’t even talk for a while, after reading some parts. The scenes bounce around in time, which as a reader intrigues me, especially when it’s done well.

What have you been reading lately?


The Magic of Writing Fiction about Magic


I’ve loved magic since I was a kid. I eagerly watched magicians on television, especially Doug Henning, Harry Anderson, and David Copperfield. It looked so cool that they could appear to cut a person in half, make something vanish, or perform some other jaw-dropping feat. In my head, I knew that the illusions performed were not physically possible. Harry Anderson wasn’t “really” sticking a giant hatpin right through his arm on Saturday Night Live. David Copperfield wasn’t “really” making a 747 disappear. Doug Henning didn’t just…do that, did he? But I still was enthralled. The craft of illusion fascinated me, and even though I was able to suspend my disbelief, I admired the work and practice it must have taken to make the performances look so smooth.

Then I had a chance to peek behind the curtain. I lived with a magician for a few years, and he had a lot of magician friends. I watched them practice; I went to their shows; I learned about their props. And for a short time, I was an actual assistant, right down to the fishnet tights and misdirection. I wasn’t very good at my job, but it was a lot of fun to dress up on a weekend and try to get people to put money in our hat. I learned how to juggle and perform a few simple illusions, much to the delight of various small, fussy children and their weary parents.

I still watched the professionals with agog, even though most of the time I knew how the tricks worked. I met Harry Anderson in a Manhattan magic store (he’s adorably sweet and freakishly tall), I spoke with David Copperfield after one of his shows (eerily intense and possibly a vampire), ditto Jeff McBride (less eerily intense than Copperfield though), among others. But there was one thing I noticed time and time again.

Nearly all of the women I’d met in magic were the assistants. They were better than I had been, earned a lot more money than I had, but they weren’t headlining.

My career ambitions lay elsewhere, and just as well, because as I said, I wasn’t very good at my assistant job. You need to be flexible to fold yourself into some of those illusions, and that wasn’t in my skill set. But the question still ruminated in the back of my mind: why aren’t there more women in magic?

As I grew into writing and left magic to the professionals, I discovered two fundamental truths. First, no experience is wasted. Second, certain themes and ideas resonate for a reason. I hoped that one day I would find a suitable vehicle for my magical past and write about a woman who wanted to be a magician in her own right. And then Christina Davenport popped into my head. When I first “met” her, she was a snarky waitress, auditioning to become a magician’s assistant, hoping he wouldn’t figure out that she wanted to use him as a springboard into her own spotlight. It was a sort of power struggle between her and the magician: he wanted her to get inside a box illusion and she didn’t want to reveal her claustrophobia or her ambitions. When I started asking her more questions, a story developed.

How to handle the magic in the story was another challenge.

I’d hung around enough magicians to have internalized the idea that you don’t spill the secrets. Even though magicians like Penn and Teller do let a few cats out of the bag, it’s done strategically, and to let the audience share in the wonder of how something is done.

But how could I write a story set in a background of street and stage magic without a little peek inside—enough to pull a reader into the world and make the (sometimes imagined for the sake of the story) illusions look real without ticking off the magicians by revealing too much? Well, the magicians union hasn’t made me disappear yet, so maybe I struck the right balance.

Another reason I liked working with the theme of magic is that it sort of mirrors the art of fiction itself. Fiction writers harness the power of misdirection, of showmanship, and throw around a little sleight of hand when needed. So even though I might have been a bad assistant, maybe it was because I was really rehearsing for a different role in magic.


A quick and shamelessly promotional note—for a limited time, A Sudden Gust of Gravity will be available free from The Choosy Bookworm. If you sign up for the Read and Review program, you’ll get a free copy of the book in exchange for your honest review. Even though it’s listed under “suspense and thrillers,” the story is more on the suspense-y, romance-y side. Categories are funny sometimes.

Holiday Giveaway News

GobbleOne of my favorite parts of being an author is sharing my books with readers. As an independent author, I get to give them away whenever I want to. And that makes me smile.

It’s even more fun around the holidays, especially when I’m getting together with other authors who are doing the same. I’ve probably told you about a few of these things in various places, but I wanted to gather them up here for you:

You still have time to enter the E-Novelists At Work/Choosy Bookworm Giveaway for a chance to win books and swag from thirty different authors, as well as one of two gift cards that could stretch your holiday budget.


Over the US Thanksgiving weekend (November 27-30) I’ll be just one of many authors participating in a Facebook party thrown by Master Koda Select Publishing. They’re a great crew, and they’ve generously let me be part of the family during their events over the last couple of years. If you want to take a break and have a little fun, we’ll have games, prizes, and a drawing for a bunch of free books and other goodies. They’ve foolishly allowed me to take their stage for an hour on Friday, November 27 at 7 p.m. EST. Mwa ha ha… You can join the party here. 

If you pop over to Goodreads, you can enter the giveaway for one of two signed copies of A Sudden Gust of Gravity. Drawing ends December 9.

For those of you who celebrate, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving. I know I have a lot to be thankful for.


Thirty Days, Thirty Authors

Thirty days. Thirty authors. You can win…big.

This month, I’m taking part in a month-long holiday book-a-palooza with eNovel Authors at Work, The Choosy Bookworm, and Book Partners in Crime Promotions. You can enter a variety of drawings to win books, gift cards, and even $250 in PayPal cash.

I’ll be giving away a few copies of Drawing Breath and Don’t Tell Anyone. Because I love giving away books. And I might have special deals going on a few titles, including A Sudden Gust of Gravity, which I expect will be live on Amazon around the time my turn comes up during Thanksgiving weekend, which I’ll be sharing with the lovely Bronwyn Elsmore and RP Dahlke. (See fancy banner graphic below.)

But until then:

  1. You can enter the drawing to win one of two $250 PayPal gift cards.
  2. You can enter ten different drawings to win books and other cool swag from our lineup of authors. Start here and scroll below the main drawing; new Rafflecopters will go up every three days for each new group of authors.

Thank you for your time, happy November, and have fun!

Real Life into Fiction

What makes you care about your favorite fictional characters?

Typewriter - Once upon a timeThink about your favorite novels. There might be a ripping good story and great writing, but I bet it also stars characters that leap off the page. Even if the characters inhabit a fantasy world and have two heads and green fur, they feel as real as the person sitting next to you. That being feels…real to you. You care what happens to she/he/it. Ever wonder how writers do that? I can’t speak for all writers, but here are a few secrets some of us use to take our real life experiences into fiction. Continue reading “Real Life into Fiction”

Playing Charlie Cool: Sneak Peek

PlayingCharlieCoolPrelim400Hi, everyone! While Art Dude is finishing the cover, I’d like to share an excerpt from Playing Charlie Cool. The e-book is available for pre-order on Amazon. You can save a buck by ordering now at the introductory price, and it will be delivered to your Kindle when the book is published at the beginning of October. Although it’s a sequel to The Picture of Cool and Don’t Tell Anyone, Playing Charlie Cool is a standalone story. (Scroll down to find out how you can grab a free copy of The Picture of Cool.)

First…what’s Playing Charlie Cool about?

With a few humble words, mayoral staffer Joshua Goldberg comes out to the New York press, resigns his post, and leaves his wife. Three months later, he is still skittish about making his relationship with television producer Charlie Trager public. Charlie understands Joshua’s stress over the divorce and his desire to step back into the political spotlight. But he’s tired of schedule conflicts and frustrated about getting put on the back burner while the pressure ravages the man he loves. Managing some of the most demanding divas in network television has taught Charlie patience. But his cool façade is wearing thin. Longing to ease Joshua’s anguish and burning for control in a situation that seems headed off the rails, Charlie takes a huge risk that could destroy everything he and Joshua have worked so hard to build. Continue reading “Playing Charlie Cool: Sneak Peek”

Why Tell a Story?

Typewriter - Once upon a timeFor as long as I can remember, I have been observing people. Not in a creepy, stalker-ish way, or at least not according to the local authorities. But as a watchful, introverted child attempting to make sense of the world, and later, as a watchful, introverted adult, still attempting to make sense of the world and my place in it.

People are fascinating. How they can say one thing and do another. How they are capable of great feats but falter at the smallest tasks. How they can smile at you and promise the world, right before crushing you under their heels. Continue reading “Why Tell a Story?”