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December 19, 2009

Julie Hyzy Guest Blogs

A Modern Crystal Ball

 by Julie Hyzy    HyzyJulie01sm


I had all the answers when I was eleven years old. Seriously. Anything I wanted to know I could find out by simply pulling out my Ouija Board, dragging over a willing participant (usually my brother, Paul), and asking a question. Ouija never failed to deliver. And, amazingly, those answers were exactly what I’d hoped to hear. Never mind my brother complaining, “You’re pushing it!”


I wasn’t. I swear!


Answers poured from the board, spelling themselves out almost as quickly as we could ask questions. How did the Ouija board know things that only we knew? I was utterly intrigued. To a little kid, that wise, heart-shaped piece of wood (planchette) skimming over the board was magic indeed. I had the power of the infinite at my fingertips. This was like having a real crystal ball. Heady stuff.


Of course I only asked important questions: “Who will my first boyfriend be?” “Will I ever get to see David Cassidy in concert?” and, “Will I get published by the time I’m twelve?”


Ouija was way off on that one ;-)

Maybe I had been pushing. But just a little.


Magic 8 Balls weren’t quite as much fun as Ouija because they offered only 20 possible outcomes -- affirmations such as, “It Is Certain” to ominous prognostications such as “Outlook Not So Good.” I put far less stock in the Magic 8 Ball’s responses than I did in my trusty Ouija’s. I have to admit, though, watching that little 20-sided die rise up through the purple fluid was still kinda fun. Sneaking glimpses into the future sure was easy, way back when.


I’m an adult now. I’ve put away such childish things. Having matured, I no longer consult those mystic forecasters from my youth. But I still have burning questions about my future.


Fortunately, I’ve discovered a much better “crystal ball.”

I have my Magic Browser.


I’m not talking about consulting Wikipedia or checking IMDB.com to find out who played the second victim in a random B movie. Oh, no! I’m talking about asking it the really important stuff.


Let me explain how I discovered my Magic Browser: One day, in a fit of frustration -- waiting for word on a project -- I desperately typed the following into my browser: “Will I sell this manuscript?”


The very first hit was the equivalent of: “Sold your manuscript! Great! Now what?”


I took that as a “Yes!”

And wouldn’t you know it? It sold.


Since then, I’ve turned to my Magic Browser for lots of other things. Some quite mundane. For instance, I once asked: “Where the heck are my keys?” and Magic Browser gave me this.


As I was writing this, I typed: “What should I have for lunch today?” Magic Browser came up with three top choices: Going to Chipotle; making a peanut butter sandwich; and ordering pizza. Mmm. Getting hungry now. But it’s cold outside. Peanut butter it is.


Although I can’t manipulate responses by exerting pressure on my fingertips the way I used to with Ouija, I still manage to get the answers I need, because Magic Browser results provide room for interpretation. And isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?


There is one particular question that I pop into my Magic Browser a couple of times a year: “Will I ever make the New York Times Bestseller list?”


So far, the best interpretation I’ve up with equates to -- roughly -- the 8 Ball’s noncommittal “Concentrate and ask again.”


Message received. With that directive in mind, I head back to the keyboard to concentrate on my manuscript and work to make it the best it can be. Right before the book is released, I’ll return to consult my Magic Browser with fingers crossed, excitement in my heart, and the NYT on my mind. One of these days I hope I get an answer that’s closer to “Outlook good.”


Now it’s your turn. Go ahead, type in question and see what answers pop up. Maybe your browser is magic, too!


Julie Hyzy is the author of the Anthony and Barry Award-winning White House Chef mysteries, including State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef and the upcoming Eggsecutive Orders (January, 2010.)  Order Julie's books through one of her favorite bookstores, The Mystery Company, and get free shipping! 


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Welcome, Julie!

I remember the Magic 8-Ball all too well. An aunt scared me off Ouija Boards (to this day they make me nervous!), but the 8-Ball is still around....

I keep an 8-Ball right here on my desk! I'm off to Google whether my daughter reached NYC from DC this morning. In all this snow--!

Thanks for guesting for us, Julie. I really enjoyed State of the Onion. I'm 'way behind in your series. Congrats on your awards!

Hi William... there were lots of aunts out there who tried to scare kids away from Ouija. But I have so many fun memories from that board. My husband swears his Ouija predicted he'd marry me ... by spelling out my long, unpronounceable name... even before we met ;-) LOL

Thanks for the congrats and kind words, Nancy. Hope your daughter makes it safely - although I'm sure the snow is slowing her down. It's not too heavy here yet (Chicago area).

Good morning, Julie! I went through a Ouija board phase when I was eleven (with a little help from my friends), and we dabbled in hypnosis too. Nothing significant came of it, sad to say.

Both my grandmother and my mother used to read the cards for friends (and each other) with some success. They didn't pass it along to me--either the technique or the ability. But my grandmother firmly believed in reincarnation, and I'm still waiting for her to visit me from the other side (although maybe she already has...).

Can't wait for Eggsecutive Orders.

Love this blog, Julie. And oh yes, how well I remember the dreaded "concentrate and ask again." I've used it the Magic 8 ball many times! You and I use it for fun, of course, but did you know that writers (like all artists) tend to be superstitious? Several psychology studies have been done on this topic--it seems to be related to the "unpredictability" involved in any artistic endeavor...leading to "magical thinking" (also prevalent among writers.) Your blog was wonderful and really brought back memories. Wish I had my old Magic 8 ball instead of the cheesy plastic version...still, if it predicts fortune and fame for me (ha ha), I can live with it!

I've gotta try your Magic Browser, Julie. Boy, have I got some questions for it!

I remember there was a kid who scared us off the Ouiji stuff. But we loved it! Someone was *always* pushing, though, and then we'd have major arguments.


I love having my cards or palm read. It gives me some sense of security for the future - even though it's pure fantasy. Like Disney World for the anxious brain.

The Ouiji board told me I'd die skiing when I'm 80 years old. I figure if I can still ski at that age, what a way to go. Love your post.

Sheila, I'm so jealous. I wish I had some of that "seeing" ability in my family tree. Maybe you have it, but the talent just hasn't emerged yet ;-)

Mary - I didn't know artists/writers tended toward superstition, but that makes sense. I do believe in magical thinking, but I also believe it's writers' awareness and openness that allows us to see magic in our lives.

Elizabeth - We used to have those arguments all the time, especially during our seances. Do you remember "I believe in Mary Worth?" LOL

OMG - it worked. I typed: "Will it snow today?"

This is a ringer of a "mystery" question because a blizzard is indeed predicted to dump a foot of snow today on NYC.

Magic Browse's first result: SNOW TODAY

LOL! And congrats on the upcoming pup of Eggsecutive Orders. I've already pre-ordered my copy. Cannot wait!

~ Cleo Coyle
author of Holiday Grind: A Coffeehouse Mystery

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen
“Six mystery writers cooking up crime and recipes.”

I had an 8 ball, too. I had it on my desk at work when a co-worker dropped it and broke it. I was on a phone call and he was tossing it back & forth. I put the caller on hold and told him to put it down or he was going to....oops. And the glass cracked. Blue water spilled all over the carpet. The boss made him pay for the cleaning because he was stupid. So, while I had some momentary satisfaction, I lost my antique Majic 8 Ball.

Your way of answering questions sounds much more fun than talking to myself! I was a poor, deprived child with neither a Magic 8 Ball or ouija board.

Cousin Julie, you rock!

I enjoyed reading your blog. It brought back numerous memories of when I was a child, concentrating incessantly on that Ouiji board of fascination. You are an amazing writer.

I also will be going to the Magic Browser for some much needed answers. Thank you!


Cleo - that's great! Thanks for lofting a softball question ;-)And thanks for the support with Eggsecutive Orders. I'm pretty eggcited about it (sorry!)

Pam - That's so sad! I think your co-worker ought to troll ebay for a replacement. I'm sure there have to be antique ones out there for sale.

Janel - it is fun to throw random questions at the browser. Have you ever tried Mystery Google? You get the answer to the query the person before you asked. Weird.

Cousin Laura! How's the weather out in CO? Are you coming home for Christmas? I'll bet your grandma said novenas for you when the Ouija board was pulled out ;-)

When I was working for a children's educational software company, I had an idea for part of a math product that would use a magic 8 ball to display the answers.
There are online magic 8 balls:
The last one has the better graphics, but they all (INMNSHO) need help.

I had several Magic Balls over the years. For some reason, they all stopped giving me an answewr and I'd just see the points where the answers intersected. My brother had an Ouija Board, but he wouldn't let me play with it. :(

Hi Julie! What a great post. I'm trying to thnk of a really good question for Magic Browser or Mystery Google, or both.

As a kid, I shared a Ouija board with my siblings, but it never cooperated. I think it was afraid of our voodoo dolls.

Looking forward to reading your books. The titles are making me hungry.

I played with the Magic 8 Ball whebn I was a kid. I can't remember what I wished for but it seemed fun at the time. As I grew older I would rely on St. Francis to help me find my lost keys. St. Jude has become my guiding light. The things I have wished for have not always been good for me but the things that I have received seem so much better.

Holly - how cool! I'll bet the kids love it.

Lorraine - Sounds like you had a defective Magic 8 Ball. I do prefer the Ouija board - maybe Santa will bring you one this year to make your brother jealous ;-)

Ramona - Voodoo dolls! That would scare me, too!

Marie - isn't that the truth? What I wish isn't necessarily what's best. But I've learned to trust that everything will work out. Kinda like the Rolling Stones song about not always getting what you want.

Ramona, a friend of mine had cancer 8 years ago and while she was going through chemo I found a "create your own" voodoo doll kit. I sent it to her with instructions that she should use it to fight off the cancer cells. She said the nurses & technicians in the hospital loved the idea and were making little dolls for the other patients. It gave everybody a laugh and as Reader's Digest always told us, "Laughter is the Best Medicine".

Great post, Julie. I'll be checking the magic browser to see if I'll be ready in time for Christmas. Love your books and waiting for the new one to arrive.

Merry merry!

Pam, that is a great story. I think it's all about positive attitude, but if a voodoo doll is the vehicle, more power to it. There's white power to voodoo as well as black power.

For these festive times, I have a voodoo doll party pick holder. Clay doll with holes all over his body, for toothpicks. Talk about an ice breaker at parties.

What a great story, Pam! That's a great idea!

Ramona - I want one of those pick holders. How fun!

MJ - Thanks! I'm sure you will be ready. Merry, merry back to you!

Here ya go, Julie:


I bought mine at Target, but I checked just now, and they are sold out. A victim of the holiday rush.

Julie, it was great to see you here. Your books look great - looks like I'll be ordering them for my pile. ;)

I'll have to try the magic browser. I did have a Magic 8-ball when I was young, and I loved it. I have no idea what happened to it...

Off to look for your books...

Thanks Ramona!! Can't wait to get one.

Hi Laura, thanks for giving my books a look.

I have a great plan for an upcoming scene. Today was crazy and I haven't checked in here for quite a while because of a hacker... more on this in future blogs.

Ramona, I have one of those voodoo doll canape holders, too. Love it. As guests eat the snacks, the body is gradually revealed. Come to think of it, I'll use it when my book club comes to visit!

We have a Magic 8 ball, but it's getting old because you can barely make out the words anymore. Which is fine, because it lets me sort of make them up.

Great blog, Julie, esp. for those of us who see Important Signs everywhere. (which is also a sign of certain mental disorders.)

Hi Ramona and Laura...
I posted replies earlier. Wonder where it went? I'll have to ask my Magic Browser!

thanks for the link, Ramona... and thanks, Laura for checking out my books.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Hmmm.. that's quite an interesting gadget.. :) I guess I will try that soon.. :)

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