Tag Archives: magic

Have it, Give it, Still Got it, by Carole Howard

Once upon a time, boys and girls, there was a magical place. Anyone who had enough of a thing could give some of it away to someone who didn’t have enough. The magic: as soon as the person gave it away, her supply would be replenished.

wand-clipart-canstock7512335Let’s say you had enough food to eat. More than enough, even. You could give some of it away to a family down the street that had fallen on hard times. As soon as you gave away a turkey, a bag of potatoes, milk, breakfast cereal, tomatoes and cookies, they were all replaced in your cupboard, exactly as they had been. A turkey for a turkey, a bag of potatoes…… well, you get the idea.

In this magical place, it also worked for clothing. (A tee shirt for a teeshirt, woolen socks for woolen socks.) Housing. (Have two houses? Give one away and it comes right back!) Books. Money. Anything you can think of. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful place to live?

Too bad things don’t really work that way.  Except…wait!  There is something that does.  Blood. You have enough blood. Some people don’t. Give away some of yours and your body replaces it. Simple. Magic? Not exactly.

My husband and I started donating blood about a year ago, and we now do it every 56 days, the maximum frequency allowed. It helps that we live ½ mile from the blood-donation trailer of our local hospital, yes, but I’d like to think we’d do it anyway. It’s so easy. It’s so valuable. We have plenty. Others need it. No-brainer, right?

It all started when my husband decided – don’t ask why, it’s a long story – he wanted to donate one of his kidneys to anyone who needed it, not necessarily a friend or relative. It’s called an “undirected donation.” We went through the process of having him tested, physically and emotionally. He and his kidney passed with flying colors.

In the end, though, I exercised my marital veto power. My reasoning was that, even though the statistics for the recuperation of donors were excellent, the statistical sample contained very few people his age. So we decided to help people in a different way: we donate blood and get our friends to do it, too.

Some problems are hard to solve, others easy. This one’s not rocket science: if you give some of your blood away, it’s replenished. No magic necessary.

Have you ever donated blood? Would you consider it?

*     *     *

Carole Howard is he author of Deadly Adagio, published by Second Wind Publishing.  She’s happy to give her blood away, and happy to get it (and the cookie!) back again.


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Get the facts right and the magic takes care of itself

Fantasy author Malcolm R. Campbell is new to Second Wind Publishing with the upcoming publication of his novel “The Sun Singer.”  This is his first post on the famous Second Wind Publishing blog.

One of my father's textbooks was my first "writer's Bible"

One of my father’s textbooks was my first “writer’s Bible”

My father was a journalism school dean, the author of multiple journalism textbooks and active in multiple journalism education organizations. When one grows up in a journalist’s household like that, he accepts at an early age that in reporting, the facts come first in news stories, features and (yes) in editorials and reviews.

When I taught college level journalism for several years, I was forever surprised at the number of assignments students turned in that left out the important facts—the who, what, where, when, why and how. I wrote the lead to a made-up news story on the board and asked the class what they thought: “Random officials announced here today that somebody done somebody wrong somewhere.”

Naturally, nobody could find any actual news in that opening paragraph. Without identifying the guilty parties, I then read the leads to several of the news stories turned in the previous day. Most were missing facts and, worse yet, some included the reporters’ opinions about the real or imagined facts. Goodness knows, when a lot of a news story is muddy, the reader won’t even believe the stuff the reporter gets right.

Journalism was a previous life for me. But it still has a strong impact on my fiction. I am very picky about the facts behind even the tallest tale and the most wildly magical characters.

Case in point: my contemporary fantasy adventure novel The Sun Singer is set in Glacier National Park. Even though most of my readers probably haven’t been to the park, I want my descriptions of trails, mountains, lakes, the old hotels, the animals and the trees and wildflowers to be a hand-in-glove fit to what a reader would see if he stands where my protagonist stood.

Needless to say, my father never said “get the facts right and the magic takes care of itself.” That’s my evolving theory, though, and I’m sticking to it. As the writer of fantasy novels and paranormal short stories, I see facts (real locations. real historical events) as jumping off places. You’ve probably heard that the best lies are those that include a smattering of verifiable truths. I see magic in fantasy fiction the same way.

With the facts nailed down into a solid foundation, the magic is not only anchored in place but it begins to sound plausible. Not that my readers will put down my book at the end of the day and try to conjure up spirits or fling lightning bolts across the yard. But while they’re reading, I want the facts to hypnotize them into believing that the magic is also real.

Plus, when readers see the facts are right, they’ll have no way of knowing for sure just where the fiction in the tale begins and ends. Like any beautifully told lie, a well-told fantasy includes as many facts as possible. After that, the magic takes care of itself.



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March 29th is Festival of Smoke and Mirrors Day

Celebrate Festival of Smoke and Mirrors Day!

Grab a book from Second Wind Publishing


A Spark of Heavenly Fire by Pat Bertram

The Red Death has quarantined the state of Colorado and the dead start to outnumber the living. Reporter Greg Pullman investigates and against the backdrop of chaos, he falls in love with Kate Cummings. Will he discover the source of the disease before it’s too late for the woman he loves?
Also by Pat Bertram: Daughter Am I , Grief: The Great Yearning , Light Bringer and More Deaths Than One


The Magic Fault by Paul Mohrbacher

The theft of the Shroud of Turin turns the Catholic Church upside down. Only one clue is left and its obscurity baffles all: the relic will head off a disaster of epic proportion.


False Positive by J J Dare

It all started when Joe Daniels’ wife is involved in a terrible automobile crash. Nothing is as it seems as Joe battles faceless enemies in an effort to discover the truth behind his wife’s “accident.”
Also from J J Dare: False World


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1000 Posts and Going Strong!!!

Yesterday, we hit our 1000th post! An incredible accomplishment, and it’s all due to the wonderful Second Wind authors who give up a day or two a month to bring you such articles as A Love Letter From Me to You by Sherrie Hansen, the inspirational and touching 1000th post. Sherrie ends her post with a most profound statement: “What is a book, if not a love letter written to our readers?”

Too often, writers get caught up in the story and forget why they are really writing — to share their vision, their world, their  love. In such a way, blog posts, too, are love letters, carefully crafted to connect with those who might stop by and comment. 4,922 comments have been left on this blog, which means almost 5,000 moments where a blog author connected to a reader. That is truly awesome!

Here are a few of those remarkable 1000 posts:

Top of the World at Just the Right Moment by Norm Brown talks about a stunning moment when he was in the right place at the right time. And check out his classic Do Not Lean, which was “Fresh Pressed” here on WordPress.

The Trouble With Birthdays by J. Conrad Guest is a celebration of life, baseball, and summer. And If the Novel is Dying, What’s That Say About Imagination? is a celebration of reading.

Writer Beware–POV Confusion/Character Overload by Juliet Waldron explains the dangers of too many point of view shifts.

Chemistry and Subtext by Lucy Balch tells how writers can enhance the budding romances in their books.

How living in Germany Helped Me Become a Better Writer by Coco Ihle talks about the importance of detailing subjects familiar to the author, but possibly unique or unconventional to someone else.

The Joys of Lying to Children by Noah Baird I had a hard time choosing which Noah Baird post to highlight, but lying to children is perhaps even funnier than Vasectomies For Beginners by Noah Baird. Or not.

Compelled to Compare by Sherrie Hansen talks about appreciating what she has, both as a woman and a writer, but my favorite is Don’t Keep Me Hanging Too Long!

Are You Happy? by J J Dare talks about being happy and feeling heated rush the assassin feels right after he pulls the trigger. Um, yeah. You’ll have to read the post. Or this read this one instead: Goodbye, Mr. Phobia by J J Dare.

Writing what you know by Nichole Bennett talks about writing what you’re comfortable with and researching the rest.

On Butt Glue, Diplomacy, and Lying: Lessons Learned by Laura Wharton talks about the lessons she learned in her first year as a published writer.

Isabella’s Smile and the Miracle in Dakota Park — by Calvin Davis is a delight parable for writers and everyone who needs a bit of assurance that sometimes the impossible is really possible.

Excuse me? What? by Dellani Oakes talks about the ways in which writing is like childbirth. If you’re an author, you will probably agree.

Killer Cocktail Events in Minnesota by Christine Husom talks about the Midwest Booksellers Association annual trade show. Be sure to stop by and tell her about trade shows you’ve gone to.

Interview With Deborah J Ledford, Author of Snare and Staccato

Excerpt From “School of Lies” by Mickey Hoffman

DO YOU GESTALT? by Nancy A. Niles talks about role playing to get to know your characters.

Traveling Thoughts by Mairead Walpole talks about the magic of the Florida sun.

What You Write Matters by Pat Bertram reminds us that writing has an affect on the people who read it so use your power wisely.

and don’t forget the Second Wind Short Story Contest!! The deadline is December 31, 2011, so you still have plenty of time to enter.


Filed under life, writing

Displaced Pudding by J J Dare

The world is chaos. Chaos is disorder. Disorder begs an established order. From this, we create.

Writers write for many reasons. One of these reasons is to make sense of a puzzling situation and bring fictional closure to a mystery they cannot solve in their own lives. Writers live in their own heads and, for me, it’s a nice world in which to be Head Honcho.

It’s a tough job. I’m responsible for all of my characters. Woe to me if  Misty’s lost inhaler is used a few pages away without an explanation to its disappearance or discovery. I’m an absentminded creator if Jennifer’s missing twin brother suddenly appears with nary a question posed or Brad’s immovable wrecked truck miraculously moves. Yes, even miracles need an explanation and if my characters could fire me, I’m sure some would have by now.

I coined a term for my tangible and intangible lapses: Displaced Pudding. Since my home is now housing three full households and two partial ones, displaced items are the norm. The pudding incident is the least of these (I did find the pudding several days later, balefully sitting atop the refrigerator like an angry Buddha).

The bottom sheet incident is still being investigated. A new set of sheets was last seen a month ago. Yesterday, I discovered the bottom sheet to this set had gone AWOL. I checked the top of the fridge first, which seems to be a gathering place for missing and exploited items, but it wasn’t there. If it’s hiding in plain sight, it’s as good as Chris Angel.

I still can’t find the missing blouse from last week. It was there in the morning and gone by evening. Several others suggested possible theories, but I’m leaning toward what my daughter said about “Our house’s black hole that sucks everything in.”

Occasionally one of my cats is missing for a few hours inside my home. I think cats understand and use black holes to display their superior intellect. They understand the “now I’m here, now I’m not” concept of Displaced Pudding.

I’m beginning to understand there’s a place for displacement in the world and in the world of writing. If everything had an explanation, the world around us would be boring. Searching is sometimes more satisfying than finding the answer. However, too much Displaced Pudding can have a negative effect on your life or in your writing.


(P. S.: If anyone sees a full-size black and white bottom sheet floating around, please let me know – it might be mine)

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch


Filed under life, musings, writing

Spread the magic…

Do you know what I like the most about this time of year?  It’s not the food, though that’s usually really good.  And it isn’t the gifts, though I got some great ones this year.  What I like most about this time of year is that we all—adults and children, alike—are more than willing to believe in a little magic.

We, as a culture, encourage the idea of Santa Claus.  Really?  A big guy who can swoosh down your chimney with a bag full of presents?  Who has flying reindeer?  And survives on a diet of milk and cookies?  Come on!  There’s a little magic in that.

But I think there’s more than that.  I think the magic of Christmas is more than the commercial idea of Santa.  To me, there is magic in the bells.  Yes, the church bells, but also the Salvation Army bell ringers.  I know those ringers are freezing their fingers off to remind shoppers that there are less fortunate ones out there.  And most people give.  Maybe only a few cents—the change in their pocket—but something. Then there are the people who don’t have much, but give to the Angel Trees, or knit scarves for the homeless, or donate a few extra cans to the food bank.

To me, that is the magic of Christmas.  When people help each other without looking for any kind of reward or even a “thank you.”  Those opportunities for random acts of kindness are just more prevalent during the holidays then any other time of year.

But magic should be spread.  So I plan to look for one of those opportunities each and every month in 2011.  I want to make this year a year of kindness.  Because, really, don’t we all need a little more kindness, a little more magic, in our lives?




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Magical moments don’t just happen in books

I had an amazing encounter with a stag yesterday. I was walking my dog, Rudy, at 6:30 in the morning. It was quiet—no other people or dogs out that early since it was a Saturday. Our destination was a meadow near my house. It’s about the size of a soccer field, and is surrounded by a creek and woods on one side and my subdivision on the other three sides.

We saw the stag the second we stepped from the paved sidewalk onto the wet, muddy grass of the meadow. Normally I would have turned around and saved my shoes—I wasn’t expecting mud—but the stag made that small inconvenience worthwhile.

He walked slowly away from us. I expected him to break into a run the closer we got—flight is the behavior I typically see in our neighborhood deer—but he never did. Instead, once he reached the edge of the woods, he turned and faced us.

Until then, I had allowed Rudy to lead me toward the stag. Rudy was not acting like the ten-year-old dog that he is: He was prancing and bounding and straining at the leash, and clearly had an early-morning deer chase in mind.

I’m not good at judging distances, but I believe I allowed Rudy to get me within fifteen feet of the stag (deer is too tame a word for this majestic animal). I got chills when I noticed that his fully-formed antlers literally sparkled in the sunlight. (My logical mind knew them to be wet, but his behavior made me wonder if he was magical.)

He stood his ground, showing us no fear. Head held high, his eyes squarely meeting ours, he might have even stamped a foot on the ground. He engaged in a subtle dance with us: As we passed him he slowly pivoted, so that his antlers were facing us at all times.

I was grateful for the leash, because for the first time in my life I felt afraid about what antlers are capable of. I didn’t allow Rudy to get any closer.

The stag won the face-off. We moved away, finally turning onto the bridge that led us over the creek and out of sight of him. When we returned, five minutes later, he was gone—much to Rudy’s disappointment. Mine, too.

I’ve always wondered why J.K. Rowling picked a stag for Harry Potter’s patronus. Now I understand why.

Lucy Balch

Love Trumps Logic

Coming soon from Second Wind Publishing


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Winter Weather

When I was a child, I remembered praying for snow. Not because it was pretty or fun to play in but because school would be cancelled. I think many children have these memories. My son won’t.


While he was born in a “Northern” state, we moved when he was far too young to remember the magic of seeing the years first snow fall. He remembers playing in it when he was two, or so he says, but not the simple joys of snowman, snowball fights, nor waiting for the newscaster to read off those school closings.


Southern Mississippi is a different world than my winter memories. Now though, he can say he saw snow once as a child. The memory of sitting in class and hearing other children squeal outside. The teacher going to the window and in utter shock saying, “It’s snowing.”


The entire class running outside to see snow, many for the first time in their lives, even the teachers and school staff standing outside to see the rare occurrence of snow falling so far south.

Now he wishes each day for enough to stick that he can build a snowman. Maybe someday.

Suzette Vaughn

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