the Ambitious CardThis is probably not the best time to be writing this.

I’m in the cramped Green Room just off-stage at the local Elk’s Club, waiting to be introduced. “Green Room” might be overstating the case; I think it became the Green Room when it was determined it was too small to be a janitor’s closet.

The good news is that there is running water; the bad news is, it won’t stop.

Ah, the glamorous life of a working magician! In a few seconds, I’ll step on-stage and do my level best to Wow this drowsy, blue-haired, post-lunch crowd with my patented blend of mystifying magic and clever banter … assuming that the antsy dove nestled uncomfortably in my armpit doesn’t cut off his own air supply and unceremoniously drop from my sleeve, unconscious, and hit the stage before I do. Again.

Despite that potential dove disaster, as a general rule, things go better on-stage than off. On-stage I am in control. I pick the volunteers that I want to work with, I tell the jokes I want to tell, I perform the tricks that I like to do. It’s great. But it’s only for about thirty minutes, once a week — if I’m having a good week. More often, sadly, it’s thirty minutes a month.

The rest of the time, I’m at the mercy of the universe. But then, really, which of us isn’t?

Since my divorce, I’ve taken residence back in my teenage abode, in the small apartment above my uncle’s small apartment above his small magic store in South Minneapolis. I was pretty much raised there by Uncle Harry and his late wife, Aunt Alice.

As he’s fond of saying, Harry taught me everything I know about magic, but not everything he knows. He’s mostly retired from performing, preferring to spend his days in the bar next to his store, exchanging barbs and quips with the remaining members of The Minneapolis Mystics – a group of past-their-prime performers, ranging from mentalists to ventriloquists. A lively, if eclectic group, prone to memory lapses and ribald knock-knock jokes.

And then there’s my divorce. My relationship with my ex-wife has recently been more professional than personal. As the Assistant DA, she had to come to my rescue when I was implicated in the deaths of an increasing number of local psychics. It didn’t help matters that her current husband was the lead police homicide detective on the case. It also didn’t help matters that, in every instance, the evidence against me was — what’s the best way to put this? – persuasive.

To compound matters, at the same time I fell in love with, of all people, a psychic. Oddly enough, she didn’t see it coming. And, since psychics were – at the time – dropping like flies (or, if you prefer, like doves), it says something about my considerable charm that she also fell in love with me.

Of course, as they say, the course of true love never did run smooth and we experienced our share of bumps – emotional and physical – before we were able to walk off into the sunset together. Not that I’m giving away the ending …

Wait – they’re reading my introduction out on stage. It’s show time. Just enough time for a quick final check: Conscious dove? Check. Zipper up? Check? Sparkling personality and brilliant stage illusions?

Well, two out of three ain’t bad.


You can read more about Eli in The Ambitious Card, the first book in the new “Eli Marks” mystery series.

About The Book
The life of a magician isn’t all kiddie shows and card tricks. Sometimes it’s murder. Especially when magician Eli Marks very publicly debunks a famed psychic, and said psychic ends up dead. The evidence, including a bloody King of Diamonds playing card (one from Eli’s own Ambitious Card routine), directs the police right to Eli.

As more psychics are slain, and more King cards rise to the top, Eli can’t escape suspicion. Things get really complicated when romance blooms with a beautiful psychic, and Eli discovers she’s the next target for murder, and he’s scheduled to die with her. Now Eli must use every trick he knows to keep them both alive and reveal the true killer.

Meet the author
In real life, John’s not a magician, but he has directed six low-budget features that cost very little and made even less – that’s no small trick. He’s also written multiple books on the subject of low-budget filmmaking. Ironically, they’ve made more than the films.

His blog, “Fast, Cheap Movie Thoughts” has been named “One of the 50 Best Blogs for Moviemakers” and “One of The 100 Best Blogs For Film and Theater Students.” He’s also written for TV and the stage.

John lives in Minnesota and shares his home with his lovely wife, several dogs, a few cats and a handful of pet allergies.

Visit John on his website, Twitter or on Facebook

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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