Five Years and Two Hundred Posts!

Two hundred years ago, on July 4, 1817, construction of the Erie Canal began.  It had been a long time in the making. First proposed in 1780 as a means to create a navigable water route between Buffalo and the Great Lakes to the west and New York City and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Erie Canal had its share of roadblocks, delays, and controversies.

 

Construction wasn’t completed until 1825, and along the way, there was plenty of public backlash and criticism.  Skeptics of the canal referred to it as “Clinton’s Folly” and DeWitt’s Ditch,” mocking one of the primary movers and shakers of the new waterway, New York State governor DeWitt Clinton.  But it was Clinton and other proponents who would ultimately have the last laugh. The canal fostered a population upsurge in upstate and western New York, including my hometown of Rochester.  And it also served the primary purpose for which it was built.  By 1855, 33,000 commercial shipments traveled up and down the Erie Canal.

 

That number would slowly and inexorably decrease as the decades ensued, as first the railway and, later, the automobile and the truck superseded the canal as avenues for shipments.  Nevertheless, the Erie Canal would live on.  It wouldn’t stagnate and succumb to neglect and decay.  As the canal’s primary function shifted from shipping goods to recreation, it would remain an enduring jewel of the Empire State.  Today, water enthusiasts still can boat along the canal, either in their own craft or on a cruise.  Bicyclists, joggers, and walkers (Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski among them!) enjoy the miles of trails that line the water’s edge.  Two hundred years after ground was broken for New York State’s grand man-made waterway, the Erie Canal continues to prosper.

 

The Eye-Dancers blog is no Erie Canal!  But this entry marks the site’s two-hundredth post.  If someone would have told me, back in the summer of 2012, that The Eye-Dancers website would last five years and two hundred posts, I would have smiled and asked them if they might like to buy a bridge I wanted to sell.  There was no way I could envision it.  I was just trying to craft a few coherent blog posts, not make a fool of myself in the process, and help to spread the word of the at-that-time soon-to-be-released novel The Eye-Dancers.  Along the way, though, I learned that there was nothing to worry about.  I learned that the WordPress community is made up of generous, kind, interesting, and wonderful people who welcome blogging neophytes with open arms.

 

And so, today, five years on, I pause, take stock, glance back, look forward, and thank you all so much.  You are the reason why I’m still here, still blogging, still enjoying every minute of it.  If it weren’t for you, there surely wouldn’t be a two-hundredth post.  You have all inspired me to keep going, keep writing, keep believing, even when doubt and uncertainty threatened to sabotage my efforts.

 

That’s true, too, of The Singularity Wheel, the sequel to The Eye-Dancers.  The support I have received from you regarding the sequel has been a motivator, an elixir, encouraging me to press forward with optimism.  I am in the stretch run of editing The Singularity Wheel, and will look forward to releasing it just as the trees here in the Northeast begin to transform from a canopy of green to a color show of golds, reds, and oranges.

 

In the meantime, and long afterward, I will continue to post, and continue to appreciate everything I have learned and experienced in this worldwide community.  I hope you’ll stick around for the next two hundred posts!

 

Thanks so much for all the support these past five years, and thanks, as always, for reading.

–Mike

The Blogger Recognition Award–and a Few Notes and Sundries

It seems beyond belief to me that The Eye-Dancers blog has been in existence for nearly five years now.  The old saying is true–time flies when you’re having fun.  It has been a blessing beyond anything I ever imagined interacting with all of you over the past five years.  It’s true, of late, this blog has been less active than it used to be, and posts have gradually become fewer and further between.  That, however, is temporary, and about to change.

 

For the past three years, I have been writing the sequel to The Eye-Dancers.  And now, at last, that sequel–The Singularity Wheel–is close to completion.  There are, literally, fewer than ten pages to go before the first draft is done.  This has been a project full of stops and starts, beset with major surgeries midway through, rewrites and revisions galore, and just over the past several months, a wild dash to reach the end.  The first draft will be finished before the end of the month, and then it will be time to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, to edit and polish and cut, cut, cut.  Indeed, you must “kill your darlings” as Faulkner once said.

 

So–over the past few months, while concentrating on finishing The Singularity Wheel, I have neglected The Eye-Dancers blog more than I would like.  But I needed to buckle down, make the commitment, and complete the writing project.  Now, at long lost, that is about to happen.  And when it does, I will return to blogging more frequently.  I will be sharing much more information about The Singularity Wheel, which has a planned release for this summer, and will gladly get back in the swing of the wonderful WordPress community.  I have missed blogging, and I hope you’ll welcome me back when I return in full force within the next few weeks.

 

Even while being too often AWOL over the past few months, though, I have still been humbled and honored by your encouragement, support, and friendship.  Recently, I was nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award.  Ipuna Black nominated me for the award just last month, while Dear Kitty nominated me last fall.  I wanted to take this time to thank both of you and accept this award.  I also encourage everyone to become acquainted with Ipuna’s blog and Kitty’s blog.  They are great places to visit, pull up a chair, and stay for a while–and return to again and again.

 

The rules for The Blogger Recognition Award state that recipients need to explain why and how they started their blog.  Well, in my case, I began The Eye-Dancers blog in the summer of 2012, for the primary purpose of “getting the word out” for my then-upcoming novel, The Eye-Dancers.  I had never blogged before, had never been on social media–I was a neophyte in the purest sense of the word.  I was also nervous.  Who was I to tell people to download my book?  Who really wanted to read anything I wrote?  Was it arrogant to pitch my novel?  These questions, and many more, dogged me through the earliest days of this blog.

 

But as I soon discovered, I had nothing to worry about.  Right from the start, the blogosphere was welcoming, warm, kind, and encouraging.  What had begun as a means for me to spread the word about my book quickly morphed into a gift of virtual friendships that spanned the globe, an opportunity to hold ongoing, invigorating discussions about writing and the mysteries of the creative process, to connect on tangible, as well as intangible, levels.  For me, The Eye-Dancers blog has been a joy.  I treasure the friendships I have formed over the years with so many of you.

 

There is another layer of instruction to The Blogger Recognition Award–and that is to give two pieces of advice for new bloggers.  I’m not sure I have anything profound to say here; I can only share two of the best things I learned along the way.  The first is–just be yourself.  Post about what interests you and what motivates you, and write with honesty and passion.  The great readers on WordPress will appreciate your willingness to share.  And the second is–don’t be afraid.  Don’t hesitate.  You might think you don’t have anything special or unique or profound to say, and, amidst the unrelenting doubts, you may choose not to post.  Don’t give in to the doubts.  You had a reason to start a blog.  You have something to say.  You have a unique and special point of view.  Don’t worry about the topic.  Just write whatever you feel compelled to write, and share your thoughts and perspectives with the rest of us.

 

Now here is where I will break the rules!  The Blogger Recognition Award instructs to choose ten other bloggers to nominate for the award.  But I want to share this award with all of you–anyone and everyone reading, the friends who have supported me from day one.  You are the reason I’m here.  You are the reason I love to blog, and can’t wait to return in full force within the next few weeks.  I hope many of you will accept this award.

 

Thank you, Ipuna, and Kitty!  I greatly appreciate your nomination!

And thanks so much to everyone for reading.

–Mike

 

“Super,” “Fantastic,” and “Batty”? — Milestones All Around!

It was a gala event, an anniversary for DC Comics’ signature hero, and the creative team made sure to announce it to the world.

When Superman number 100 hit the newsstands in the late summer of 1955, the title had been going strong for sixteen years, and the character (introduced in Action Comics number 1, in 1938) for seventeen.

action1

 

The 100th issue would serve as a celebration of what the cover proudly proclaimed to be the “World’s Greatest Adventure Character!”

superman100

 

In 1955, this sort of special anniversary issue was a new phenomenon, in part because the comic book industry had yet to become the collectible gold mine it would morph into several decades hence, but also because most titles simply hadn’t been around long enough to feature major anniversary issues.  But the celebration of the Man of Steel’s status kicked off a trend in the industry.

supermanannual1gala

 

The following year, it was Batman’s turn.  The Caped Crusader’s title hit number 100 in the spring of 1956, and just as with Superman, Batman’s title was celebrating sixteen years at the time issue number 100 rolled around.  (The character of Batman had been around one year longer, introduced in 1939 with Detective Comics number 27.)

detective27

 

Once again, DC pulled out all the stops.  “Batty” stuff indeed . . .

batman100

 

Meanwhile, and several years later, another powerhouse in the comic book field–Marvel Comics–was marking the anniversaries of some of its signature titles:  The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, The X-Men, and Mitchell Brant‘s favorite, The Fantastic Four. All hit their 100th issue in the early and mid 1970s.  By this time, it was fully expected that such a milestone issue would be celebrated with pomp and circumstance . . .

spiderman100

avengers100

xmen100

ff100

 

The stories housed within these special anniversary issues may or may not have been among the best of the genre.  In some ways, it didn’t matter.  More than anything, a title’s 100th issue represented a benchmark, a reminder, if you will, that the heroes had been able to stand the test of time and that the writers and artists involved still possessed a passion for storytelling and a desire to press on.

************

I began The Eye-Dancers blog in the summer of 2012, a complete novice to the blogosphere.  If you were to look up the word “blogging newbie” that summer, my picture probably would have been looking back at you.

me

(Okay, so putting my kindergarten picture here is probably a bit of an exaggeration.  Chalk it up to poetic license!)

I remember feeling overwhelmed and confused as I launched the blog.  I was about to release The Eye-Dancers, the novel, and I knew I wanted to “get the word out,” but how would I manage to do that?  And how many original posts would I be able to come up with?

eyedancerscover

 

So I thought about it, and struggled through the first few months, still grasping for blogging ideas, flailing and poking and writing posts that I doubted anyone other than myself would read.  I’d hit the Publish button and imagine the words drifting outward, not to other bloggers, but to some nowhere zone at the center of a lost cyber-galaxy, an eternally hungry black hole that feasted on unread sentences and paragraphs.

blackhole

 

But then I would see a Like appear, and before long a few intrepid fellow bloggers began to follow the blog.  Very few at first, but their support filled me with enthusiasm and optimism.  Someone out there was reading my words.  Encouraged, I again thought about what I could do, how I could potentially blog for the long haul.  And I decided–why not just write about things that interest me?  Sure, I would want them to tie in to The Eye-Dancers, the novel, in some way, but even so, the possibilities seemed endless.  I dove in, and a remarkable thing happened.  The insecurity lessened, the ideas started to arrive in waves, and I had a blast!  It was fun.  And more surprising still, more and more bloggers began following The Eye-Dancers.  Suddenly that black hole I had initially imagined disappeared, and an ongoing and wonderful adventure kicked into high gear.

endlesspossibilities

 

And now, four years after its inception, The Eye-Dancers blog has reached 5,000 followers. If someone had told me in the summer of 2012 that, by 2016, The Eye-Dancers would be fortunate enough to acquire such a following, I wouldn’t have believed it possible.  But that’s been the great thing about these four years.  The WordPress community welcomed me with open arms, and things just continued to get better and better.

5000

 

Then again, there’s no need for me to break out the past tense here.  I’m not going anywhere.  The sequel to The Eye-Dancers–as long as the literary stars stay aligned–will be due to come out during the early portion of 2017, and I will certainly be blogging about that, as well as many other things, in the months ahead.

starsaligned

 

It is my great hope that you all will continue to read and follow these ramblings and ruminations of mine.  Certainly, The Eye-Dancers doesn’t compare with the great superhero icons and their anniversaries from yesteryear, but your ongoing encouragement has often been as much a tonic for me as any radioactive spider bite or red Kryptonian sunlight.  You are the reason this blog is so enjoyable for me, and you are without a doubt the reason The Eye-Dancers blog is still going strong four years in.  I can’t thank you enough for all your support over these past four years.  You are all the best.

redsun

 

Thanks so much for reading, and I can’t wait to get started on the next four years!

–Mike

A Versatile Blogger Award, Breaking More Rules . . . and a Thank-You

It seems hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for close to three years now.  I remember vividly making the decision, in the summer of 2012, to create a blog devoted to my then-upcoming novel, The Eye-Dancers.  With those first tentative steps, little did I realize how joining the WordPress community would add to my life and enable me to make many friends from around the world.

And that still impresses me, amazes me, even.  You have to remember that I am old-school, having grown up in the ’80s and gone to college in the ’90s . . . my generation was the last one to come of age in a world sans email and chat rooms and social media and smartphones.  So it still astounds me that we have such reach today, such an ability, such a platform–literally, a worldwide audience.  Children growing up today likely take this digitalization of our world for granted.  To them a smartphone is no more extraordinary than the mail would have been to me in 1989.

1980s

 

So for this lifelong reader, writer, classic movie lover, comic book aficionado, and Twilight Zone enthusiast, the WordPress community has been a tremendous blessing–right from day one.  And it’s with great appreciation and gratitude that I accept the nomination of the Versatile Blogger Award from Melissa at Today, You Will Write. For those of you not familiar with Melissa’s fabulous blog, please take a virtual trip over there.  You will be glad you did!

I actually was nominated for the Versatile Blogger award some twenty-six months ago, but I wanted to accept again so I could thank Melissa for nominating me and also thank everyone for all your support (more on this at the end of this post!).  Additionally, the rules for this award have changed a little since March of 2013, and I wanted to take a stab at it.  (Not that I follow rules when it comes to blogging awards!)

Speaking of, here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award.
  • Include a link to their blog.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award with links to their blogs.
  • Finally, post 7 things about yourself. (Answer the questions from the person who nominates you, and then ask 7 of your own.)
  • Also remember to add the Versatile Blogger image to your post.

https://theywalkthenight.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/versatile-blogger.jpg

Here are the seven questions Melissa asked, and which I now will answer . . .

1. Who is your favourite author or what is your favourite book?

It’s very tough to choose just one!  As for authors, I can’t really say I have a favorite–there are so many!  Two, however, who have always served as inspirations are Ray Bradbury for his enthusiasm, imagination, and heart; and Truman Capote for his skill and talent–a master wordsmith if there ever was one.

A favorite book?  Very difficult to choose just one.  But if I absolutely had to, I would probably say To Kill a Mockingbird.

tokillamockingbird

 

2. If you had a super power what would it be?

I’m not sure it’s a super power, but I would probably choose a photographic memory.  I’ve always been keenly aware of all the things I forget.  It strikes me that, if you think about your life, probably 99% of it is forgotten.  Granted, much of it is trivial–what did you have for supper on June 17, 1999?  What time did you go to bed on February 7, 2006?  Even so, it seems sad that we forget so much.

3. If you could produce a movie, which one would you choose?

The Eye-Dancers of course!

eyedancers

 

4. How has WordPress helped you to become a better writer?

This is a great question, and I think the answer is–the regular (or, for me these days, semi-regular!) posting of articles.  Maintaining a blog forces you to come up with (hopefully) original, creative posts on a fixed schedule.  You can’t just wait until you feel inspired or when the spirit moves you.  If you want to maintain something of a steady schedule, you have to write posts on a regular basis.  This steady need to come up with original material has been a wonderful way for me to exercise my creative writing muscles.  They are no longer permitted, since I’ve joined WordPress, to get flabby or out of shape!

5. What fun thing do you do to keep yourself from burning out?

Nothing cheers me up like watching reruns of, well, Cheers or The Honeymooners, or reading a corny old comic book.  And when a physical release is needed, I have always felt at home on the tennis court.

cheers

sa161

 

6. When you were a child, what did you want to become?

For a very brief period, I toyed with the idea of becoming a marine biologist, and there was a time I wanted to be a detective, but for the most part, I have always wanted to be a writer.

7. If you could live anywhere in the world where would you go?

Right where I am–living in the hills of Vermont!  A close second would be Prince Edward Island, Canada, the most beautiful place I’ve ever experienced.

pei

 

Now it’s my turn to ask seven questions for anyone who wants to accept this award.  Yes, it’s rule-breaking time!  Rather than nominate fifteen bloggers, I want to nominate everyone who follows The Eye-Dancers website!  I hope very much that some of you will accept this nomination and delve into the following questions . . .

1. You have the opportunity to step into a time machine and choose any destination you want: past or future.  When and where would you go?

timemachine

 

2. When you were growing up, did you have an idol?  If so, who was it?

3. You have three choices, and only three:  you can watch either a 007 movie, an Alfred Hitchcock classic, or a reality TV show.  Which one do you watch?

dialmformurder

 

4. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

5. What is something about you (it could be a hobby, interest, talent–anything) that most of your friends would be surprised to learn?

6. If money were not an object and you could do anything you wanted for a career or profession, what would you do?

7. There are three items on the table in front of you (only three!):  a chocolate bar, a Stephen King paperback, and a Rubik’s Cube.  Which of these do you reach for?

rubikscube

To conclude, I wanted to thank everyone who has visited, supported, and read The Eye-Dancers blog.  Without your interest and participation these past three years, this blog would not exist today.  Admittedly, I am not posting as often as I once did, as I continue to work on the sequel to The Eye-Dancers (which now, at long last, is close to having an official title!), but my appreciation for all of you is as strong as ever.  You are the reason I enjoy blogging as much as I do.  Hopefully the best is yet to come.

thankyou

Thank you so much for reading these scribblings of mine all these many months!

–Mike

The 777 Writing Challenge, Or a Peek into an Untitled Sequel . . .

When Sherri Matthews invited me to participate in the 777 Writing Challenge, I was honored–as I always am when anyone in the WordPress community invites me to join in on a blog hop.  But with Sherri, it was even more special, as she has been a supporter of The Eye-Dancers almost from its inception, two and a half years ago.  Sherri is a fantastic person and writer whose blog should not be missed.  Be sure to catch her on her wonderful website, A View From My Summerhouse.

The 777 Writing Challenge is very simple:

‘The 777 challenge requires you go to Page 7 of your work-in-progress, scroll down to Line 7 and share the next 7 lines in a blog post. Once you have done this, you can tag 7 other bloggers to do the same with their work-in-progress.’

writingchallenge

 

As those of you who have read some of my other blog hop posts know all too well, I am a rule-breaker, and proud of it!  The same will hold true here, as I fudge (quite!) a bit on the sample size of the excerpt and also nominate nine bloggers rather than seven!

rulebreaking

 

The excerpt I am selecting is from the sequel to The Eye-Dancers (still, sadly, untitled!), the events of which occur five years after the conclusion of the first novel.  Page 7 of this work-in-progress lands near the end of the Prologue, where Monica Tisdale, the “ghost girl” from The Eye-Dancers, learns the hard way that she is able to tap into other dimensions, other realities, and experience those places through the eyes of her alternate selves.  The problem with this?  She is bombarded with sights, sounds, images, memories, as she experiences the onslaught of an infinite number of shared lives.

multipledimensions

 

Here is the excerpt (far longer than just the seven lines requested!), beginning on page 7, line 7, and then, after omitting several paragraphs, picking up again and carrying on to the end of the Prologue . . .

******************

She closed her eyes. She remembered feeling a powerful surge, as if struck by lightning. She remembered the screams and the cries and the unending echo of voices upon voices, filtering through the tunnels and tributaries of existence. There were layers of her that extended without end.

What she did not know, and did not remember, was which Monica Tisdale she was. She was all of them, all of her. She was a single storehouse for an infinite number of lives. Their consciousness was her consciousness. Their joys and torments were hers.

And she dreaded the next onslaught, the next deluge of images, of pain and laughter, tears and jubilation without end. It was too much. Far too much. . . .

 

Monica squirmed, violently, as if having a seizure. The nurse rushed out of the room, calling for assistance. In a moment, a doctor would come in, probe, prod, examine her like an alien specimen in a scientist’s laboratory. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered.

She was in so many places, undergoing so many things . . .

From somewhere, a universe away, and yet inside herself, she heard the buzz of a dentist’s drill, and the dull, thudding pain of its tip as it bored into her upper front tooth. She shouldn’t have felt anything, but the dentist hadn’t given her enough Novocaine.

Somewhere else—she heard laughter, taunting, jeering, as a handful of bigger girls pushed her into a mud puddle. “Get up, you little freak,” they said, and she felt a wet glob of spit land on her face.

Somewhere else again, she was in a gloomy, shadow-filled room, thin streaks of sunlight filtering in through the gaps of brown window slats. She stood up, tried to open the door, but it was locked. In the hallway, beyond, she heard a man’s loud, angry voice, and then the smack of his hand striking flesh. A cry, a scream. Another slap. And a sense of utter helplessness, entrapment, no escape.

“No!” she yelled, from that locked room worlds away, and from the hospital bed where she thrashed and jerked and spasmed. How could she shut off the images and sounds and feelings?

“Please. Please . . . stop . . .”

Mercifully, it did. Her mind went blank for a moment, and then, she was only here, in this one room, this one place. But for how long? When would the next episode occur? And when it did, would she be able to stop it? Or would she remain, simultaneously, in an infinite number of worlds forever, without respite or reprieve?

She didn’t want to think of that. She just breathed a sigh of relief that it was over, if only for a moment. Outside her door, she heard the approaching footfalls of doctors and nurses. She could read their thoughts, know what they were going to say before they said it.

If only they could help her. It didn’t seem possible, but maybe . . .

She shook her head. She was past that now. “Maybe” wasn’t good enough.

She had to contact those others, those boys. But who were they? Where were they from? She had to remember. She concentrated, blocking out the rush of thoughts all around her. A picture formed in her mind. At first it was blurry. Then the colors and lines and contours took shape. Yes. She had done it—she knew them. They were from another world, a world where she herself did not exist. She’d been in trouble (once, somewhere), and had called out. They were the ones who heard. They were the ones who helped.

She did not know if they would want to help her again. But it didn’t matter. The decision wasn’t theirs to make.

It was hers.

************

The following bloggers, talented wordsmiths all, have fantastic websites, and I hope you’ll pay them each a visit and delve into their imaginative and captivating worlds.

I also hope they will take up the 777 Writing Challenge . . .

https://africolonialstories.wordpress.com/

https://jkmarsh12.wordpress.com/

http://gentleandquiet.com/

https://awriterslifeformeblog.wordpress.com/

https://vashtiqvega.wordpress.com/

https://theywalkthenight.wordpress.com/

http://ipunablack.com/

https://jemsbooks.wordpress.com/

https://sonyasolo.wordpress.com/

Thanks again so much to Sherri for including me!

thanksunset

 

And thanks so much to everyone for reading.

–Mike

A Season of Thanksgiving, a Milestone Reached

I am always amazed at how time flies–or so it seems.  “The more I see, the less I know for sure,” John Lennon once said.  But it certainly feels like time speeds along, as if it were some majestic, brightly colored bird, wings outstretched, slicing through the crisp, still November air.

heron

 

It is hard for me now, sitting in front of my trusty old PC, to believe that I began writing The Eye-Dancers back in the first decade of this century, or that I started to conceive of an Eye-Dancers blog more than thirty full moons ago.  Perhaps, as Einstein said, time is an illusion.  How else to explain the swift passage of months and years?

fullmoon

 

When I began this blog, I hadn’t a clue what I was doing.  (It can be argued that I still don’t!)  I had just written a novel, and planned on publishing it.  Other than myself, a few friends, and immediate family members, not a soul anywhere on earth or beyond knew of the soon-to-be book.  I needed a vehicle, something, anything, to “get the word out.”  One of the things I decided upon was a blog devoted to the novel, its characters, its themes, its inspirations, and the process that went in to writing it in the first place.

writingthenovel

 

It was a daunting task.  I knew nothing, less than nothing, about blogging, and had no idea if anyone “out there” would want to learn more about the novel, read about my interests, my take on writing and creativity, read my short stories . . .  It almost seemed egotistical.  Who was I to begin a blog?  Who was I to try and promote a book?  The doubts were very real.  As were the worries.  When I posted my first blog entry, I wondered, first and foremost, if it would be the online equivalent to a black hole and if anyone would even see it or read it; and, second, what their response might be if they did . . .

blackhole

 

But I also knew I had spent over two years writing and editing The Eye-Dancers.  I felt strongly about it, and I did not want the book to lie in a dark dresser drawer, or on a computer hard drive, as the case may be, collecting (virtual) dust, hidden from the world.

eyedancerscover

 

“If you have built castles in the air,” Thoreau said decades and decades ago, from the mists and echoes of the nineteenth century, “your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”  That was what I intended to do.  I had a hammer, a chisel, and a determination to keep at it.

castlesintheair

 

Now I just needed to see how my posts would be received.

I learned very early on that there was no cause for concern.  No one came on the site and blasted the concept.  No one said, “Go home, you talentless wannabe.  We don’t need another sci-fi/fantasy blog!”  On the contrary . . . right from the first, fellow bloggers were welcoming, kind, interested, and, above all, supportive.  For a new blogger like me, it was just the encouragement I needed.

Gradually, slowly, day by day, The Eye-Dancers blog grew.  I remember the snowy winter day, nearly two years ago now, when I reached one hundred followers.  One hundred!  It was more than I had hoped for when I’d started.  It served as a tonic, a motivation to keep at it and keep going.

100

 

Fast-forward to early November 2014, when The Eye-Dancers reached a milestone, going over 3,000 followers.  I never would have imagined this website would stick around this long, or continue growing as it has–and it wouldn’t have, it if it hadn’t been for the WordPress community.  I can’t thank each and every one of you enough.

3000

 

Because of you–your comments, support, interest, and willingness to read these random scribblings I come up with, The Eye-Dancers site has evolved from a place where I originally intended to simply promote my novel to a community of dreamers and writers and artists and thinkers and poets and friends.  It is a joy for me to be a part of.

dreamers

 

So consider this post a thank-you, from me to you in this month of Thanksgiving.  And though I’ve been blogging for over two years now, I can honestly say–this is still only just the beginning.

cornucopia

 

There are so many posts yet to write, so many blogs to enjoy, so many dreams to dream.

Perhaps that last part is the most important–for all of us.  The Eye-Dancers, both the novel and the blog–is all about looking up at the stars on a clear night, seeing them sparkle, like distant diamonds in the sky, and having the courage and hope and faith to believe . . .

stars

 

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations,” Louisa May Alcott once wrote. “I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

Thanks so much to all of you in the WordPress community for helping me, and inspiring me, to keep on reaching.  You’re the best.

reachforstars

 

And thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

The Writing Process Blog Tour

Once again, I have been invited to participate in a blog hop, and once again, I thank you, the WordPress Community, for all of your ongoing support.  It’s a true pleasure being a part of the blogosphere, and having the chance to virtually meet so many great people from around the world has been a richly rewarding experience.

This blog hop–the Writing Process Blog Tour–is one I am particularly intrigued by.  Discussing the writing process is always fun for me, and I want to thank Ipuna Black for tagging me to join in on this tour!

Ipuna writes YA fantasy and is in the process of querying agents with her completed novel. You can follow her on Twitter @IpunaBlack, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ipuna.black, or on her website at ipunablack.com.

Thanks so much again, Ipuna!

And now, on to the questions . . .

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What am I working on?

I am in the midst of writing a sequel to The Eye-Dancers, which, honestly, was not planned.  When I wrote The Eye-Dancers, I really thought it would be a stand-alone novel, but then a funny thing happened.  The germ of an idea struck.  At first, I brushed it off.  There was no need for a sequel!  There were other writing projects to tackle.  But the idea hung around, expanded, became more real.  Muscles and tendons, living cells and nerve endings attached themselves to the bare bones of the frame.  Again, I tried to shrug it off, but it latched on tight, like a poodle yanking on my pants leg, unwilling to let go.  And that’s when I realized–this was a story I had to write.

idea

And so I am, and really enjoying it.  The sequel takes place five years after the conclusion of The Eye-Dancers, and it’s been fun delving back in to the characters’ lives now that they are older, on the threshold of their senior year in high school.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

That’s an interesting question, but, honestly, it’s not one I spend any time thinking about.  Just like with The Eye-Dancers, I have a story to tell.  It came to me, not the other way around.  Whatever differences or similarities it has with other stories of the genre are not by intrinsic design.  I am just writing the story the best way I know how.

One thing I will say, though.  The majority of YA sci-fi/fantasy novels do not include four boys as the protagonists.  In this sense, The Eye-Dancers, as well as the sequel, stand out a bit.  Whether in a good way or a not-so-good way I leave to the readers to determine!

fantasy

Why do I write what I do?

Ray Bradbury once said, “Love.  Fall in love and stay in love.  Write only what you love, and love what you write.  The key word is love.  You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.”

And, in a nutshell, that’s why I write the things I do.  With The Eye-Dancers, Mitchell, Joe, Ryan, and Marc were inspired by friends I grew up with.  The themes in the story are based on ideas, concepts, ways of looking at the universe that have always resonated for me.

I remember talking with my friends when we were boys, when the pathway to adulthood seemed long and winding, the destination so far away we couldn’t see it, didn’t even think about it.  Sometimes we’d go outside at night, look up at the stars, and openly wonder, “Are we alone?  What’s up there?  What is the true scope of the universe?”  And, to the best of my ability, The Eye-Dancers tackles these questions from my youth.

stars

Why do I write what I do?  I have things to say, I guess.  There are things that mean much to me–people, places, ideas, relationships.  And putting these things down on paper in story form (or on the screen, as the case may be) has always been my preferred way of expressing them.

How does your writing process work?

Generally an idea strikes, unasked for, unplanned.  If it’s a short story, I’ll jot a few notes down–essentials I want to make sure I don’t forget.  And then I’ll write the story.  For a standard-length short story (say, between 3,000 and 5,000 words), I usually finish the first draft in a day or two.  Then the hard part–the editing, revisions, rewriting.  This stage may take up to a week.

For a novel, I will also jot down some notes–perhaps two or three pages’ worth–on the characters and the overall arc of the story.  But nothing too detailed.  Without exception, writing a novel is a journey of discovery, and, for me, I have found that if I cling too tightly to preconceived notions about characters or plot, I restrict the story from being told in its own, natural manner.  What I think might happen five chapters down the road rarely does.

That is, simultaneously, the most exciting and most insecure aspect of the writing process.  When we being a long work, we can’t know for sure just how it will turn out or, in truth, that it will turn out at all.  All we can do is dive in, head first, and let the story take us where it will.

windingroad

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And now, the best part of the blog hop!  It is my pleasure to pass the baton on to three authors whose work I greatly admire.  Please check out their wonderful websites, delve in to their creativity, and enjoy your stay, as I’m sure you will . . .

“Catnip” at Life with Catnip

Barbara Monier

Abby Jones at A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

Thanks so much to Catnip, Barbara, and Abby for participating in the blog hop!  And thanks so much to everyone for reading!

–Mike

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