Not for the last time did Irene regret buying that magic set all those years before.
Now all I have to do is figure out the most effective way to deploy them.
Do I press them into the hands of all I meet?
Do I save them for giving out to people who sound like they might actually be interested in editorial services?
Do I stick them up on random bulletin boards? (If I were selling a used snowblower, I’d tack a notice up at the local IGA grocery store, but that’s different . . . or maybe it isn’t.)
Do I scatter them broadcast over freebie tables and consuites at sf/fantasy conventions I happen to attend?
This self-promotional thing, it is tricksy and difficult, especially if one doesn’t have the natural temperament for it in the first place.
I have successfully obtained a refund for a piece of software that was on the netbook I don’t use any more. I had thought that when I purchased a year’s subscription that I would get a notification when it was time to renew, and would then need to do so manually . . . but no, it was an automatic thing, and the transaction went through about a week before Boskone, and nearly threw a monkey wrench into the works for that expedition.
I don’t like automatic updates. If my computer is going to change something or add something, I want to be present for the occasion so I can flip the switch myself.
The subscription charge was substantial enough that I went to the trouble of looking up the refund procedure, which – much to my surprise – turned out to be relatively painless and not to require actually…
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Consider the Little Box of Magic Tricks from Barron’s. I’ve seen the Ideal 100-Trick Spectacular Magic Show Suitcase well spoken-of. Consider too Joshua Jay’s The Complete Magician Kit. The Klutz Book of Magic includes props and can be considered a magic set all by itself.
In my opinion, the best magic sets are ones you make yourself. Hand assembled with love. You know your own child the best.
Props: a set of cups and balls (you know your budget best — these range from inexpensive plastic ones (and some big-name pros use the three-color inexpensive ones in their pro acts; e.g. David Regal) up to OMG three-figure prices.
A ball vase. Everyone loves a ball vase, especially someone who is going to grow up to be a magician. Check the number of pros whose first trick was a ball vase, given to them by a dad or uncle at age six. Just because it’s an inexpensive plastic thing that comes in every kiddie magic set doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Ed Marlo had a ball vase routine. I do Michael Skinner’s ball vase routine (which involves appearances, vanishes, penetrations, color changes, and ends with the ball vase in the spectator’s hands and examinable).
A set of 4″ or 5″ linking rings.
A set of 1″ sponge balls.
All of these are standard dealer items and available at any magic shop.
Ordinary coins and cards you can procure locally and as-needed.
More books: consider Gotcha!: 18 Amazing Ways to Freak Out Your Friends by David Acer. There’s a book, and matching DVD, called Wild About Harry by Rachel Colombini which features Harry-Potter-themed magic tricks. The tricks vary in skill level, but nothing a sufficiently motivated young magician can’t master (e.g. a book test that proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that you’ve memorized the entirety of one of the Harry Potter volumes).
Also for the young … Google on How To Make a Harry Potter Magic Wand to get a huge selection of instructional pages and videos (an excellent parent-and-child craft project opportunity). An awful lot of magic involves arts-and-crafts. This may be your first; it won’t be your last.
No matter what you do, download and read Under/Over by Joshua Jay from Vanishing Inc. It’s a free ebook (PDF format).
Find or make a nice wooden case that will fit everything, and there you go.
All good stories need a villain, or, more properly, an antagonist. (“Villain” is so judgmental, really — not to mention classist, since its origins lie in the Anglo-French and Old French vilain “peasant, farmer, commoner, churl, yokel” (12c.), from Medieval Latin villanus “farmhand,” from Latin villa “country house, farm.” As always, the city folks write the books.)
An antagonist is simply one who opposes the main character, also known as the protagonist. They’re often “the bad guy,” because readers like to identify with the main character, and prefer in most cases to identify with someone they can think of as “the good guy.” It doesn’t necessarily need to follow that the antagonist, in their role as “bad guy”, also has to be a bad person; all that’s required is that they present a strong and believable opponent for the protagonist to, in most cases, overcome.
What’s primarily required in…
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This is one of those questions, like “Where do you get your ideas?”, that people will keep asking writers – and like the question about ideas, it’s one that doesn’t have an answer, or at least not the kind of answer the questioner is looking for.
Even before I was a novelist, people used to ask me how long it took me to write my dissertation. The only answer that I could give them – “Well, if you look at it one way, it took me three years. If you look at it another way, it took me about three very intense months. But I needed the three years first.” – somehow never really satisfied them, even though it was true.
The short story I finished just this past weekend is much the same. In terms of actual putting-words-on-screen writing time, it took me about a week. But this was…
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Jim Macdonald and I have a reading at 1 PM in Griffin, here in the Westin hotel, and we’re going to be reading a brand-new, just-finished short story . . . one that we’ve been mulling over for a long time, that finally came together in this past week.
If you’re here at Boskone, we’d be delighted to see you there.
If you’re driving into Boston from out of town, you have to get lost at least once on Massachusetts Avenue.
Normally, our GPS navigator saves us from this, but the rules caught up with us this trip, because the navigator went toes-up on us shortly before departure. Fortunately, we were able to access Google Maps via my phone — not by using the phone’s web feature, because it doesn’t really have one, but by calling our younger son back in Colebrook and having him find the necessary directions and relay them to us.
After that mini-adventure, we made it safely to the Westin hotel, and our first programming item is a signing at 2 PM in the Galleria. We’re signing alongside Ken MacLeod and Charlie Stross, so if you’ve got a book (or a short story in an anthology, or a bookplate, or whatever), feel free to bring it in…
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