While cleaning an old lantern, Kira Franklin releases a genie. But this gender-morphing, appearance-bending creature doesn't do "big" wishes. So forget stopping world hunger or ending war. And still heartbroken from the jerk who dumped her, Kira doesn't believe in the perfect man.
So she wishes for her dream job. Stage manager at the hottest theater in town, the Landmark. And presto: she's running Romeo and Juliet. Except, like everything else these days, this is one crazy production. And now Teel, the genie, insists she finish her wishes so "he" can move on.
Her second wish is about her appearance, which isn't exactly catching her third wish's eye. And there's the rub.
Because that old saying about being careful what you wish for is so spot-on. And Kira is about to discover that moxie, not magic, is what can make all your dreams come true.
|Product dimensions:||5.13(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.87(d)|
About the Author
Morgan Keyes grew up in California, Texas, Georgia, and Minnesota, accompanied by parents, a brother, a dog, and a cat. Also, there were lots and lots of books. Morgan now lives near Washington, D.C., spending time reading, traveling, reading, writing, reading, cooking, reading, wrestling with cats, and reading. Because there are still lots and lots of books. Visit Morgan online at MorganKeyes.com.
Read an Excerpt
I love the theater. The theater is my life.
At least that's what I told myself as I suffered my third sneezing fit in an hour.
Standing in the costume shop at the Fox Hill Dinner Theater, I extracted a linty tissue from my pocket and blew my nose, trying not to pay attention to the clouds of dust swirling in the overhead fluorescent lights. If I let myself think about how much debris filled the air around me, my lungs would seize up and I'd collapse in front of a dozen feather-covered costumes from Gypsy.
"Gotta have a gimmick, Kira Franklin," I muttered to myself.
A gimmick—that was the name of the game in the cutthroat world of Midwestern dinner theater. And without one, Fox Hill would be out of business in less than a month. Anna Harper, the dinner theater's artistic director and my boss for the past seven years, was fully aware of our company's dire straits. She'd been hinting for months that I should get my résumé out, that I should try to nail down my dream job at Landmark Stage, the Twin Cities' newest theatrical darling. In fact, she'd pretty much told me that my next paycheck would be my last—the theater loved me, couldn't work without me, but just couldn't afford to keep me, blah, blah, blah.
Alas, my Fox Hill credentials weren't likely to spark interest from the Landmark. Like it or not, I'd limited my marketability by staying with Anna for as long as I had. Every time I applied for a position with the prestigious Landmark Stage—even just working in the ticket office—I received a polite, anonymous, form-letter rejection.
Nevertheless, barring a miracle, Anna was going to have to cut me loose. But we wouldn't go down without a fight. Prior to hiring some starry-eyed kid right out of high school, Anna had decided on one last money-making scheme: selling our old costumes to the public. We were trying to be as festive as possible as we launched our last-ditch bid for survival—we had taken out full-page ads in both the Minneapolis StarTribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press announcing our grand sale: Evening gowns! Dance wear! Halloween costumes for young and old alike!
We played up the glamour, providing a long list of our hit shows from the past decade. We kinda, sorta, maybe hoped that no one would focus on the fact that most of the costumes were designed for a handful of quick outings on stage. We absolutely refused to make any guarantee that seams would hold, that sequins would stay attached, that feathers and ribbons and bows would last through a single wearing at a glamorous society ball.
That's why we kept a costumer on hand during all performances.
A costumer, someone to run lights, someone to run the sound board, people to change sets and hand out props—it could take more than a dozen backstage folks to mount one of our productions. And I was the person in charge of all of them, at least until I was laid off. Kira Franklin, stage manager extraordinaire.
Okay. That wasn't really the way that I thought of myself. I always stopped after the "manager" part.
But my father added the "extraordinaire" when he dutifully attended each of our productions. And so did my high school debate coach. And the handful of friends that I managed to rope into seeing individual shows, most often by handing out coupons for free dessert at our luscious gourmet buffet table (two entrées nightly!).
Come to think of it, most of my friends had dropped the "extraordinaire" a few years back, too. Maybe it was our Christmas production of Miracle on 34 Street, with a well-developed seventeen-year-old playing the little girl role, because we just couldn't find a kid who could stick to our rehearsal schedule.
Truth was, the Fox Hill Dinner Theater was not a leading light in the Twin Cities' theater community.
Let me explain a little more about who and what and where we were. You've probably heard of the Mall of America, right? The largest shopping mall in North America, with more than four hundred stores? Employs 12,000 people? Built around an amusement park, with a flight simulator, aquarium, and real live (okay, dead) dinosaur walk? Visited by forty million people each and every year?
Fox Hill was about a mile south of there.
We were located in an old strip mall, space we took over from a Woolworth's that was driven out of business by the big box stores even farther down the road. We had a decent-size "house" with seating for five hundred. There were two steam tables to serve dinner, and a thrust stage that reached into the audience, bringing musicals so close that patrons could practically touch them. But in a metropolitan area with a thriving artistic community and more than one hundred theaters, large and small, Fox Hill had its work cut out for it.
And things weren't exactly helped by the fact that our next-door neighbor was a porno-movie theater—the Fox Hill Cinema. You might have thought that dirty movies were a losing business proposition in the wake of the Internet and perfect-for-home-viewing DVDs. The fading grande dame, though, had cleverly diversified to stay in business with its three-screen emporium. Two showed the latest skin flicks, and one showed art films.
It could be really interesting to watch the line at their ticket window. It was pretty easy to tell who was in line for the Truffaut retrospective, and who was waiting for Goldilust and the Three Bares. At the dinner theater, we tried to promote ourselves to the first group, and we hoped that the second crowd didn't wander through our doors by mistake. You had to take your customers where you found them, though. Isn't that one of the primary rules of business? Well, it should have been.
"Kira? Are you in here?"
As if to answer, I sneezed again. "Yeah. In the back room."
Maddy Rubens pushed aside a sliding rack of thirty-six identical dresses—the irresistible Paris Originals from last year's overly optimistic production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Maddy was a lighting designer who had worked at Fox Hill on occasional gigs between the handful of dream jobs that she'd landed in New York, the more usual local productions, and the rare-but-lusted-after West Coast projects. More important, Maddy was my housemate and best friend.
"Jules and I finished going through the jewelry," she announced. "There's enough crap out there for a dozen high school proms. Tiaras up the wazoo, and enough pearls to strangle a decent-size horse."
"Gives all new meaning to the phrase 'costume'jewelry," I said.
"We're calling it a day and going to get burritos. Are you coming with?"
My stomach rumbled. Even though I'd had an Egg McMuffin with double hash browns for breakfast, I'd worked through our supposed lunch break. In fact, I'd had nothing but coffee since coming in that morning—four of my jumbo java mugs' worth. I'd brewed it first thing, taking elaborate care to put out the sign that read "Kira's Stash." I liked my coffee twice as strong as anyone else did, and I'd finally conceded the necessity of labeling my own carafe after poor Anna had been kept awake for thirty-six straight hours following one particularly long dress rehearsal with nothing but my java for sustenance.
"Burritos sound great," I said, "but I want to finish up Kismet."'
"The costumes will still be here tomorrow," Maddy said, reasonably enough. "You work too hard."
I sighed. "I don't work hard enough. I told Anna I would have all of this stuff ready by last Friday."
"The same Anna who's signing your walking papers next week?" Trust Maddy to tell it like it was.
"Come on," I said. "Could you just walk out? Leave all this behind?" Maddy snorted, but I knew that she was every bit as tied to the theatrical world as I was. We weren't in it for the money—both of us, along with Jules, could barely afford to pay my father rent on the second-floor apartment he provided us at well below market rate. We were in the theater because we loved it. It made our hearts sing, as corny as that sounded. We loved the creativity, the feeling that we were making something from nothing.
Either that, or we were bug-eyed crazy.
"Yeah, you're right," Maddy agreed reluctantly, as I'd known she would. "But you still have to eat. Let's go! Jules is treating. We're going to get chips. With extra salsa. And guac-a-mo-le…" She turned the last word into a seductive song.
I shook my head reluctantly. "Nope. I wouldn't enjoy it, with this stuff hanging over my head. But tell Jules that buying tonight doesn't get her off the hook for the Scrabble victory dinner she owes me."
Jules—Julia Kathleen McElroy—was the third occupant of our apartment. She was an actress. After spending years trying to top the charts in the Twin Cities theater scene, Jules had settled into a comfortable career doing industrials, training films for companies. Her most successful role had been "Stubborn Defendant" in You're Being Deposed? Expect the Worst.
"Fine," Maddy said with a resigned sigh. But then she took a step closer to me, resting her blunt-fingered hand on my arm. "Just tell me with a straight face that this doesn't have anything to do with today's date."
"Today's date?" I asked, and I almost managed to sound puzzled. What could I say? Acting wasn't my strong suit. I knew it would be overkill to say, "I don't have a date today. Do you?" Besides, I could never be quite that blasé about the greatest disaster in my entire life.
"Kira," Maddy remonstrated.
I shook my head. "It doesn't have anything to do with today's date." I said the words with the rote certainty of a small child reciting multiplication tables.
"I don't believe you."
I raised my chin and looked straight into her piercing blue eyes, forcing myself not to blink my muddy-brown ones. (Read: I braced myself to lie through my teeth.) "Madeline Rubens, I swear on my next and last paycheck and all else that is holy that my skipping burritos tonight has nothing to do with today's date. Cross my heart and hope to die." She just stared at me. "What? Do you want me to spit in my hand, so we can shake on it like five-year-olds? Make a blood oath?" I looked around with a cartoonish manic grin. "There's got to be a dagger or two in here somewhere. Where's the stuff from Camelot?"
Maddy rolled her eyes. "Okay then. We'll see you at home. Cheerio!"
"Wait," I called before she could walk away. "I thought you and Colin broke up last week."
"We did." She shrugged. "I just haven't broken the habit of saying 'Cheerio' yet."
I couldn't help but laugh as she left the costume shop. Maddy changed boyfriends more often than the porno house next door changed its movies. Colin had lasted two full weeks, which was typical. In the five years that Maddy and I had been housemates, only one guy had made it to a month, and that was because Maddy had spent three weeks on a road trip.
No fuss, no muss—when Maddy was bored she moved on, pleased to have learned a few words in a new language, or a couple of idiomatic expressions. Colin had actually taught Maddy the rules for cricket. Come to think of it, Gordon had taught her those rules a couple of years ago, and Nigel, a few years before that. Cricket comprehension didn't last much longer than love, in Maddy's book.
My life would have been so much simpler if I could just treat men, treat relationships, the way that Maddy treated hers.
I'd lied to her. Of course, my decision to skip burritos had everything to do with the date. January 7. One year ago today, I had been left at the altar by TEWSBU, The Ex Who Shall Be Unnamed.
Okay. Not quite literally at the altar. We'd planned a civil ceremony.
But I'd worn a white dress, with a veil and a train and everything. Maddy and Jules had stood beside me in personalized bridesmaid gowns. Their dresses had been made out of an emerald-green silk that actually worked well for both of them. Predictably, Jules had selected a stunning strapless sheath that showed off her willowy form, while Maddy enjoyed something substantially less revealing. My father had worn his tux. Judge Saylor, one of my father's former law firm partners, had stood at the front of the room, smiling and friendly as the minutes ticked by.
But TEWSBU never showed.
I wasted a couple of hours imagining every possible disaster that could have befallen him. People who worked in the theater were superstitious by nature, our imaginations heightened by the dramatic fare we consumed every day. I pictured my beloved mutilated in a car crash. I imagined him cut down by robbers when he stopped at the drug store for a silly, unnecessary disposable camera. I panicked that the stress of the day, the excitement of fulfilling his lifelong dream of perfect, permanent married love, had all proved too much for him, had brought on a heart attack.
Drawing on my experience as a stage manager, I'd started phoning hospitals. I had created so many contact sheets for so many shows—complete with blocks of emergency contacts in boldface type—that I knew most of the numbers by heart. My cell phone grew hot beside my ear as sympathetic nurse after sympathetic nurse reported that they had no patients matching my professionally accurate description of my fiancé.
Sometime during phone call fourteen, he left a voice mail. My so-called beloved was a director. His message used our common language, the patois of the theater that we both lived and breathed. He was sure I'd understand eventually, he said. He'd only just realized it himself. The blocking of our entire relationship was just not right.
Blocking. Where the actors stood when they said their lines.
I had spent the night of my would-be wedding, precisely one year ago, kneeling on the bathroom floor of the Hyatt Regency. Maddy and Jules had taken turns holding my torn-down updo off my face, offering me damp paper towels and glasses of cold water to rinse my mouth.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was immediately drawn into this book! I thought the story was cute, fun and I could really envision the characters. As a current resident AND native St. Paul girl, I loved the references! I look forward to reading more in this series.
this whole series is crazy funny!
The story has promise - it could have gone different more predictable ways but didn't which made it a delightful story. The characters were well developed, plot line was good - I think I would have liked to see TEWSBU (The Ex Sho Shall Be Unnamed) get his just desserts. First in a series - excellent!
Entertaining from start to finish - I want to read more by this author
A year later, Kira Franklin - still recovering from a break up, jobless and an extra thirty pounds heavier - is in desperate need of a miracle. One day, she gets that miracle in the shape of a genie. Now her troubles are over.or so she thinks. Her wishes end up making her life anything but easier. Every wish seems to just turn into a huge fiasco - like when she wished away her extra thirty pounds, her family and friends began to think she was anorexic. How Not to Make a Wish sounded interesting when I read the back of the book, but I'm disappointed to say it was anything but. It was ridiculously predictable, and the plot really fell flat. I had a hard time trying to actually finish the entire book. The characters lacked depth and were too whiny for my liking. I also felt like the genie, Teel, was just thrown in to mix things up a bit because not really anything was revealed about his character. He just popped in every now and again to help move the story along. How Not to Make a Wish was not a book for me and I think it's safe to say I won't be reading the rest of this series.
The competition is fierce and cut throat as Fox Hill stage manager Kira Franklin sorts through the debris of dusty junk seeking an angle to save the dinner theatre. She finds a lamp that she assumes was from some long ago production and starts to clean it to see if there is any sale value. However to her shock, her polishing releases Teel the genie. He tells her he will grant her wishes, but keep them reasonable as eliminating world hunger is outside his range though extinction would do the trick. Scornfully Kira fails to read the contract with its four wishes but instead sarcastically wishes for the job she covets and is stunned gets it as she now works at the Landmark Stage. However, that proves not to match her fantasy as her boss is an insane egomaniac; her other wishes turn out as poorly as her first one. Then again, the one wish she did not make involves set designer John McRae, but as she falls in love with him she knows he is leaving. Fans will get what we wish for as Mindy Klasky provides a jocular over the top of the entire Midwest refreshing tale filled with poignancy as chick lit heroine Kira gives a first hand account of her desires, sneezes, and failed wishes; Murphy had nothing go wrong compared to her. Lighthearted, HOW NOT TO MAKE A WISH is an amusing contemporary as the audience and Kira wonder how can seemingly innocent wishes go so badly and she wishes she had no more coming. Harriet Klausner
I struggled to finish this; not recommended!