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slowly and inexorably decrease as the decades ensued, as first the railway and, later, the automobile and the truck superseded the canal as avenues for shipments.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

Words of Wisdom from a Cartoon Character–Or, Reminders of the Meaning of the Season

Sometimes we just need to be reminded.  Sometimes world events, presidential elections, and our far-too-often harried personal lives threaten to throw us for a king-sized and ever-expanding loop.  The weather this time of year doesn’t help.  Daylight Savings is more than a fortnight in the rearview mirror; it’s dark when you go to work in the morning, and dark when you come back home.  And what little light there is, especially here in northern New England, is often muted by brooding thick gray clouds that hang low and bloated over the land, like dirty laundry concealing the blue beyond.

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For me, the reminders begin with the little things, the homey things, the kinds of things Truman Capote writes about at the beginning of his gem of a short story “A Christmas Memory” . . .

“Imagine a morning in late November.  A coming of winter morning more than twenty years ago.  Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town.  A great black stove is its main feature; but there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs placed in front of it.  Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar.”

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Every year, early on Thanksgiving morning, when the house is dark and the sunrise is yet a rumor, I flip through some of the old classic comic books I’ve had since I was a kid, when I began a lifelong hobby of collecting comics.  Many of the issues I have tucked away in closets and boxes were printed decades before I was born.  Their pages, musty and faded with age, never fail to bring a smile.  There are old ads in those pages, tempting the children of sixty years ago with baseball gloves and magic tricks, radio sets and sea monkeys.

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And then there are the stories, of course–simple, far too often devoid of any real character or nuance, distilled to the most rudimentary of plot devices.  But for all that, they are brilliant, ingenious, and, perhaps most important of all, fun.  They offer a break from the stresses and strains of daily living, an escape from the next doctor appointment or set of bills, while simultaneously laying out a bridge to an imaginary world that is always there, only a thought away, ready and willing to amuse and cheer and revitalize us, if only we take the time to visit it.

On Thanksgiving morning, I spend fifteen, maybe twenty minutes with these old issues, these relics from a bygone era, these simple reminders of childhood . . .

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comiccoversuperman117

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In the 1965 musical The Sound of Music–based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway classic of the same name–Julie Andrews’s character, Maria, sings about some of her favorite things:

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“Raindrops on roses/And whiskers on kittens/Bright copper kettles/And warm woolen mittens . . . Cream-colored ponies/And crisp apple strudels/Doorbells and sleigh bells/And schnitzel with noodles . . . Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes/Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes/Silver white winters that melt into springs . . .”  These are a few of her favorite things!

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It’s a basic list, simple and everyday; it echoes the sentiments of Capote’s “A Christmas Memory.”

But perhaps it was everyone’s favorite bookworm, Marcie, who said it best in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving:

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“But Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. . . . We should just be thankful for being together.  I think that’s what they mean by Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown.”

Thanks so much for reading!

–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?w=535

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.

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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!

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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

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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.

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

–Mike

An Anniversary, An Award, a Reminder, and a Thank-You!

One year ago yesterday, I published my first post on The Eye-Dancers site.

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At the time, I really had no clue what I was doing or if anyone would even read the post.

I had visions of it floating in a dark, forgotten corner of cyberspace, existing but not existing.  My mind concocted variations on the old tree-falling-in-the-forest riddle:  “If a post is published on the Web but no one ever sees it, is it really published?”  I was so new to blogging, I didn’t even think to use keywords or categories (I have since added them to my initial post!).  I just wrote a brief synopsis of The Eye-Dancers, held my breath, and hit the “Publish” button.

I didn’t have much of a plan at the time.

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I wanted to introduce the four main characters of The Eye-Dancers, too–each in their own post.  Within a span of a few weeks, character profiles for Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski were created.  After publishing Mitchell’s post, I received an email.  A blogger, somewhere, Liked the post!  (Yes, even now, I still remember that first Like!)  A couple of weeks later, I discovered that, indeed, it might be a good idea to tag posts with keywords and organize posts into categories.  I was, literally, learning as I went.

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For the first few months of The Eye-Dancers site, up until the book was released in mid-November 2012, I was utilizing the blog strictly as a promotional tool for The Eye-Dancers.  A character profile here, an update on the release there–that sort of thing.  But then I got to thinking.  This website could be so much more fun than that.  Why not write about the things I’m interested in, create posts that can talk about the book, yes, but that also explore other topics–writing, quantum physics, comic books, movies, Twilight Zone episodes . . .  The possibilities seemed endless.  My main concern was–would anyone want to read my musings?  I thought it over, then decided to take the plunge into full-scale blogging.  The results have been, to put it mildly, much more rewarding than I ever dared to imagine–and that is because of all of you.  I know I’ve said it before on previous posts, but it merits repeating.  You are the reason why I blog, and you are the reason it’s fun and enjoyable.  You made a blogging neophyte feel welcome and at home here in the blogosphere, and I can’t thank you all enough.

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I have been fortunate enough over the past several months to be nominated for several blogging awards.  And even though I’ve neglected to do an awards post lately, please know that all nominations are very much appreciated.  It’s really a great feeling knowing one of your blogger friends chooses to nominate you for an award.  And I wanted to take this moment to thank those who have nominated The Eye-Dancers in recent weeks . . .

Thanks to Briana from When I Became An Author for nominating me for the Liebster Award!  Briana is a fellow author, and she maintains an exceptional blog.  Please check out her site!

Thanks to the Ambitious Poet and to Sherri at A View from My Summerhouse for nominating The Eye-Dancers for the WordPress Family Award.  I truly appreciate it, and highly recommend that everyone check out their fantastic websites!

Thank you to  Violet Wave and Mary at Author Mary J. McCoy-Dressel for a Supersweet Blogging Award nomination!  Two very talented and creative individuals who author wonderful blogs!  I hope you’ll visit their sites.

Many thanks to Josey from Joseyphina’s World for her nomination of the Dragon’s Loyalty Award!  I can’t recommend Josey’s site highly enough.  Please take a look!  I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Thank you very much to Lucia at Luminous Blue for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Lucia has a captivating blog!  You will be glad you stopped by.

And thanks so much to Mary at Oil Pastels by Mary for nominating The Eye-Dancers for the Sunshine Award.  Mary’s site is a treasure trove of creative energy and talent.  It’s a privilege receiving this nomination from her.

I was lucky enough to have already been nominated for each of these awards previously, but I wanted to thank all of the great bloggers above for their nominations!  I really appreciate it.

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The Eye-Dancers has also been nominated for The Inner Peace Award!  I want to thank Jane at Jane Dougherty Writes, Joanna Fay, Samina at Samina’s Forum for Police Support, and Sherri at A View from My Summerhouse for their nominations!  If you’re not already acquainted with these wonderful bloggers’ websites, please take some time to do so.  I am happy to wait . . . !

The Inner Peace Award is an award that comes with no rules, no questions . . . no conditions.  As such, I will do what I’ve done a few other times in Awards posts, and pass the award on to all followers of The Eye-Dancers site.  (Even when there are Awards rules, in other words, I tend to break them!)  I hope you will accept this award and, even if you do not post on it, I hope you’ll put the image onto your blog . . .

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I would also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that The Eye-Dancers gift card promotion is still running–the last day is August 22, so there is still time to take part, if you haven’t already!

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But mostly, I would like to say one big, hearty thank-you to all of you.  Thanks for reading these off-the-wall posts of mine, for continuing to stop by The Eye-Dancers site, for your great and thoughtful comments, for your ongoing support.  I created The Eye-Dancers site one year ago, on a late-summer day not unlike this one, with the intention of marketing my book of the same name.  And I did.  (And as the previous paragraph attests, I still am!)  But I’ve discovered along the way that the blogging experience is richly rewarding in and of itself.  I genuinely enjoy coming up with posts that I hope will contain some small kernel of truth, interest, or intrigue.  And I enjoy the WordPress community more than this post is able to express.

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It’s been a great first year for The Eye-Dancers.   Here’s hoping the second year will be even better.

Thank you as always so much for reading.  You are the best.

–Mike

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