The Method (Is There a Method??) Behind the Blog (And, a Free Promotion)

Time flies.

It’s a cliche, I know, but sometimes the tried-and-true aphorisms say it succinctly and well, and this particular one is spot-on.  Take The Eye-Dancers blog, for instance.  I began this blog, clueless as to how to proceed with it, back in the summer of 2012.  It’s hard to believe six years have come and gone.  But this brings to mind the completion of the “time flies” truism:  Time flies when you’re having fun.  And this blog has been a joy because of all of you.

 

Don’t get the wrong idea.  The way that last paragraph reads, it almost sounds like I’m about to announce the termination of The Eye-Dancers blog.  Not at all!  As long as you want to continue perusing these flights of fancy of mine, I will stick around.  The WordPress community is a special place, and I intend to remain a part of it for the long haul.

 

But I’m struck by how little I’ve changed in my approach to blogging over the years.  Granted, I am no longer new at this.  Six years and over two hundred posts, and, most important of all, your enduring support and encouragement, have helped me feel a lot more comfortable than I did at the start.  The fact remains, though–even now, after all this time, I don’t really have a blogging blueprint, a template, or a schedule.  As the time arrives for my next post, I kind of go with whatever feels right at the moment.  Sometimes this approach may work well.  After all, if I feel inspired to write about something, as opposed to scheduling a post weeks or months in advance, then, hopefully, the prose will be alive and imbued with the heat and purity of inspiration.  On the other hand, without a clear, precise sense of order, the blog may at times seem haphazard and too random.  (Not to mention, the risk of being repetitive.  If I post about something one week, and two or three posts later, I post about something similar because it “feels right,” I may not be tuned in enough to the overlap of the two posts.)

 

How about you?  How do you approach your blog posts?  Do you, as I do, lack a blueprint and forego a script, as it were?  Or do you plan ahead, map out a course of literary action, and, as Marc Kuslanski would surely advocate, prepare several posts ahead?  As with any form of writing, from poetry to short stories to novels and everything in between, fiction and nonfiction alike, there is no one “right” approach.  I am always leery of anyone who attempts to prescribe a set guideline of rules and rituals for writers to follow.  When it comes to creativity, we ought, in the words of Thoreau, to “step to the music which [we] hear, however measured or far away.”

 

And I know, for me, few things in the creative life (in life, period) can match the moment of euphoria when an idea strikes.  It could be anytime, too.  It cannot be scheduled or prepared for.  Creative epiphanies are as capricious as the New England weather.  You can meditate all day, turn an idea over, explore every angle, and come up with nothing, gutted, tempted to take your WIP and toss it in the fireplace for kindling.  Or, you can be taking a walk, showering, mowing the lawn, playing softball, preparing for your fantasy football draft, arguing with a friend, driving down the interstate, and–bam!  The idea hits, with the force and impact of a boulder.  When this happens to me, this unplanned-for gift, I try to hold onto the insight, repeating it over and over if need be, until I am in a position where I can jot the idea down on scrap paper.  (I am old school like that.  I prefer pencil and paper.  My desk is littered with scribbles on the next chapter, story, or blog post.)  And then, as soon as possible, while the idea is still hot and fresh, I let it out–and a post is published, a chapter is written, a short story is completed.

 

I suppose this approach, this reliance on a mysterious muse who flutters and floats, often tantalizingly  just beyond reach, a vision over the next rise, is something the intuitive Mitchell Brant would understand.  It’s organic, not pre-planned; spontaneous, not charted out with preordained precision.  And for someone like me, who has a tendency to over-prepare and obsess over the details, this freedom to allow the muse to guide me is both terrifying and rapturous.

 

In this spirit, I am also, extemporaneously, announcing a promotion for the e-book version of The Singularity Wheel.  If you might want to get a Kindle copy of the novel, now would be an ideal time.  Why?  Because it’s free!  Beginning today, through Friday, July 6, the electronic version of The Singularity Wheel is free.

 

Please feel “free” to take a look!  Here is the link.

And thank you again for the support all these years, for following along with the ramblings and the idiosyncrasies of this blog.  What will the next post be about?  I wish I knew!  But I hope you’ll be here to find out.

 

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

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.

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

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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.

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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.)

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

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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 . . .

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avengers100

xmen100

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 . . .

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“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.

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And thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

An Awards Extravaganza, and . . . Breaking the Rules!

It’s always a great feeling when The Eye-Dancers receives a nomination for a blogging award.  Blogging awards offer us a wonderful way of spreading the goodwill that makes the WordPress community the special place it is.  And it is again with much appreciation and gratitude that I accept the nominations from several blogging friends.

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Thanks to Anne at Tales Along the Way; Jennifer K. Marsh; and Janice at jemsbooks for nominating The Eye-Dancers for The Shauny Award for Blogging Excellence, The Sunshine Award, and The Inner Peace Award, respectively.  I was fortunate enough to have been nominated for these awards previously, but I wanted to thank all three of these wonderful bloggers!  If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting their sites, I strongly urge you to do so!

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Within the past few weeks, The Eye-Dancers has been nominated for three new awards. . . .

Thanks to Janice at jemsbooks for The Butterfly Light Award.  Janice has been a steadfast and ongoing supporter of The Eye-Dancers, and I can’t thank her enough.  I hope you’ll check out her great blog, and download her wonderful books!

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Conditions For Accepting The Award

Here are the conditions for accepting the award :

1. You must write an acceptance post, making sure you link back to the blogger who awarded you and thank them. You MAY NOT lump this award in with a batch of other awards.  [Oops!  This is the first rule I am breaking in this post!]

2. You must individually name and re-award to a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 9999999 bloggers. You must let them know either personally with a comment on their blog OR a pingback (I’d suggest their about page) [Hmm, this is the second rule I am breaking . . .]

3. You must link back to Belinda’s blog either to http://idiotwriting.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/i-love-charismatic-geeks/ OR http://idiotwriting.wordpress.com/about/

4. You must write a short paragraph (yes only one paragraph – damn this is easy) – Entitled either “How I’m Spreading Light” OR “How I’m A Positive Influence”

5. Display Belinda’s lovely “Butterfly Light Award” badge on your blog.

 

“How I’m A Positive Influence”

Honestly, this one was tough!  It feels a little egotistical to use such a heading.  But one thing I hope The Eye-Dancers site has done, and continues to do, is to encourage everyone to unleash the creative powers within, to let them out with a flourish.  Tell your story.  Sing your song.  Paint your picture.  Do what you love, and then share it with the world.  Only you can tell your story.

creativity

 

As for the blogs I nominate, please keep reading!

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Thank you to Jennifer K. Marsh for The Imagine Award.  Jennifer has supported The Eye-Dancers for the long haul, and I very much appreciate it!  She has a wonderful blog (more on this in a minute), and is a very talented author.

the-imagine-award

 

The purpose of The Imagine Award is to highlight blogs which make special use of creativity and passion.

According to the rules, I must nominate 3-5 blogs for the award  [more on this later–more rule-breaking, I’m afraid!] as well as state 3-5 reasons why I like Jennifer’s blog . . .

 

Jennifer’s site is great.  There are many reasons for this.  Here are five . . .

1.  She has a deep appreciation for nature and the environment.  Her posts reflect this, her words portray this.  As a fellow nature lover myself, this is something I genuinely appreciate and admire about Jennifer and her blog.

2. Jennifer is a highly creative and imaginative person, and her posts have the ability to lift me up on wings, enabling me to fly high overhead, and enjoy the view.  She is a talented wordsmith and a dreamer of dreams.

3.  Jennifer has a wonderful sense of humor.  Regardless of what type of post she is writing, her humor shines through.

4.  She is very honest, open, and holds nothing back.  Jennifer will post on subjects that mean a great deal to her, and is not afraid of sharing her heart with her readers.  This, combined with her fantastic sense of humor, truly makes her blog a very personal and heartfelt reading experience.

5.  Jennifer exhibits a tremendous variety in her posts.  From one post to the next, she keeps things fresh and unpredictable.  And when it comes to creative writing, unpredictable is good!

unpredictable

 

So for these reasons and many more, I hope you will visit Jennifer’s blog!

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And thanks so much  to Alisha Williams at Poemotherapi Shoppe for The Paragon of Fine Art Blogger Award nomination!  Alisha’s blog is a creative cornucopia of beautiful words and images.  She is a very talented and accomplished poet.  I am sure you will enjoy visiting her site as much as I do!

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The Paragon of Fine Art Blogger Award celebrates bloggers who love art.

Rules for the acceptance of this award:

  • Along with the acceptance of the PFAB Award please post anything that would express your love for art, it may be in a form of a painting, a photograph, an illustration, a poem or essay, anything done for the love of art.
  • Choose 6 bloggers who should merit the said award.  [I think you know where I’m going with this by now!]
  • Notify the deserving bloggers of the award, let them know the rules.
  • Acknowledge the presenter of this award by linking back.
  • Pin the Ajay-inspired badge on your blog.

 

For this award, I wanted to write a few words on why art is important to me and, indeed, to the world.

It’s an age-old debate.  Does art reflect life?  Or does life reflect art?  To me, both aspects are true.

Art certainly reflects life.  Any artist–writer, painter, singer, etc.–brings their own experiences, their triumphs, failures, loves, and losses into their art, into the things they create.  This much is irrefutable.

But the reverse is also true, and it provides the more important aspect of this life/art, art/life duality.  Ray Bradbury was once interrogated by the police for walking around the streets of his neighborhood at night.  His crime?  Simply walking, thinking, being.  Out of this experience, he created “The Pedestrian,” a futuristic little tale that depicts a world where everyone remains indoors, hidden away from the world, existing within the confines of their walls, glued to their televisions and trapped in a virtual, artificial reality.  This is art.  Taking a personal experience and broadening it, crafting an imaginary tale that on one hand transports us to a faraway world, while on the other forces us to look at our own society, our own laws and mores, our own selves.

pedestrian

 

And by doing this, art shapes our lives.  It causes us to think about things we may not otherwise have considered, it causes us to see the old with a new pair of eyes, with a new point of view.

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It’s always very difficult nominating just a few bloggers for each award.  There are so many wonderful blogs out there, selecting only five or ten or fifteen is virtually impossible.  And the truth is, it is all of you, everyone in the WordPress community, that makes The Eye-Dancers blog so much fun for me.

And so, I would like to share each award mentioned here–The Shauny Award, The Sunshine Award, The Inner Peace Award, The Butterfly Light Award, The Imagine Award, and The Paragon of Fine Arts Blogging Award–with each and every follower of The Eye-Dancers site.  I hope you’ll choose to accept at least one of these awards, and, perhaps, all of them!

thanks

 

Thanks so much for all of your ongoing support!  It means the world to me.  And thanks so much, as always, for reading!

–Mike

It’s A Wonderful (Award)

In Frank Capra’s enduring classic It’s A Wonderful Life, some of the most well-known and memorable scenes feature Clarence, the bumbling angel who has yet to earn his wings.  Clarence is assigned the task of trying to help the movie’s hero, George Bailey, realize that his life is worth living.

itsawonderfullife

 

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To achieve this, the angel restructures the very fabric of reality, and allows George to see what the world would have been like if he’d never been born.  Clarence’s brainstorm succeeds–and George does indeed come to understand that he’s really had a wonderful life.

lifeworthliving

 

But the ending of It’s A Wonderful Life, while not as fantastic or mind-bending, offers the kind of feel-good (some would say corny) moment Capra became famous for.  Corny or not, it remains one of my all-time favorite scenes.

One of the main reasons George Bailey had been in such dire straits to begin with, and why Clarence the angel’s services were needed, concerns a weighty matter of lost money for the family business–the Bailey Building and Loan.  If George can’t find the money, he will go to jail.

But upon returning home from his extraordinary adventure with Clarence, seeing the bank examiner there ready to deliver the grim news, and hugging his children, thankful to be alive and a real person again, despite the pall hanging over him, George is surprised when his wife, Mary, steps inside and tells him, “It’s a miracle, it’s a miracle!”

cominghome

 

One by one, friends, neighbors, residents of the town stream in after Mary, donating whatever money they can spare to help George pay off his debt.  Within minutes, it becomes clear that, not only will the debt be paid and prison avoided, but, in the words of Harry Bailey, George’s younger brother, George has become “the richest man in town.”

money

 

The kind of community spirit and support depicted in this classic film is, in very real ways, kept alive through the WordPress community.  I can’t thank all of you enough for your ongoing encouragement and support of The Eye-Dancers blog, and for continuing to read and comment on these ramblings of mine. You are the best.

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I want to thank Sherri for nominating me for The Shauny Award.  If you’ve never checked out Sherri’s wonderful blog (or even if you have!),  A View From My Summerhouse, I hope you will take a few moments now.  It’s a great place to stop in for a virtual visit, so please take your time!

Before accepting The Shauny Award, I want to thank two other bloggers for recently nominating The Eye-Dancers for two awards–The Sunshine Award and The Dragon’s Loyalty Award.  I was lucky enough to have been nominated for these awards previously, but thanks so much to Dear Kitty. Some blog and to Janice at jemsbooks for the nominations!  After pulling up a chair at Sherri’s blog, I hope you will visit both of these great blogs as well.

I also wanted to take this time to thank Teagan Geneviene.  Teagan was the winner of the recent Eye-Dancers promotion, and she was gracious enough to include me in her fabulous blog, inviting me to participate in her very fun and creative Three Ingredients serial.   Please check out Teagan’s site–you will be glad you did!

And, while you’re at it, I hope you’ll buy her book Atonement, Tennessee, available on Amazon . . .

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shaunyaward

The Rules for The Shauny Award  are quite straightforward:

Show Humanity, Show Love, Be Yourself, Don’t Be Others, Don’t Gossip,

and Share the Love by giving This Award to 10 others.

As readers of The Eye-Dancers blog probably already know, I have a penchant for breaking the rules.  (Kind of like the maxim to never, ever split the infinitive, and how the passive voice should be avoided!)

As such, I am going to break the rules again, simple as they are, for The Shauny Award.  Rather than narrowing the nominations to 10, I would like to nominate every single follower of The Eye-Dancers site.  You are the number-one reason blogging is so much fun for me, and I hope all of you will accept this award.

I may not have been about to jump off a bridge, as old George Bailey was in 1946, but when I began The Eye-Dancers blog, I was hesitant, not at all sure how my posts would be received.  From the first, you all made me feel accepted and welcomed, and for that I thank you.

Because of you, It’s A Wonderful Blogging Life.

end

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

Some of My Favorite Things (Blogs) . . . (Or, the Blog of the Year Award 2013!)

Just shy of one year ago, when The Eye-Dancers site was a fledgling neophyte in the WordPress community, I received my first blog award.  Sheri from The Other Side of Ugly awarded The Eye-Dancers with a Blog of the Year 2012 award.  It was a wonderful moment.  Just starting out, unsure of even the simplest steps to take in the blogosphere, it was a tremendous boost of confidence receiving Sheri’s nomination.  I truly appreciated it then, and truly appreciate it now.

sunrise

 

So it seems fitting somehow that Sheri has again nominated The Eye-Dancers for a Blog of the Year Award–this time for 2013!  Thank you very much, Sheri!  Your continued support over the past year has meant a lot.  For those of you not familiar with Sheri’s blog, The Other Side of Ugly, I hope you’ll take a look.  It is a gem of a site, and should not be missed.

blogofyear

 

Before going on, I would like to take this opportunity to pause for a moment, and thank the wonderful bloggers who have nominated The Eye-Dancers for several other awards over the past few months . . .

Thanks so much to Reshu Malhotra who nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Reshu has a great blog where she writes about health and beauty, sharing with her readers very knowledgeable tips and helpful advice.  Hers is a  beautiful blog, in every sense of the word!

Jennifer Marsh nominated The Eye-Dancers for One Lovely Blog Award.  Jennifer is a very talented author, and I am a big fan of her site!  Please take some time to browse through it.  I’m confident you will become a big fan, too.

Leslie from lesliesholly nominated me for The Sunshine Award.  Leslie has a very eclectic blog, where she talks about a variety of topics, and always keeps her readers engaged.  Her blog is a great place to visit!

Ampbreia’s Space nominated The Eye-Dancers for The Leibster Award.  Ampbeia’s blog is diverse, well written, thought-provoking, and just plain good.  I hope you will stop in for an extended visit!

And Sherri from A View From My Summerhouse nominated The Eye-Dancers for a Dragon’s Loyalty Award.  Sherri’s site is a treasure.  I promise you–if you stop by, you’ll want to stay for a while!

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 instructions for the Blog of the Year 2013 Award are simple:

1-Select the blog(s) you think deserve the Blog Of The Year 2013 Award.

2-Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen- there are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required- and ‘present’ the blog(s) with their award.

3-Let the blog(s) that you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the instructions with them- (please don’t alter the instructions or the badges!)

4-Come over and say hello to the originator of the Blog Of The Year 2013 Award via this link :http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/blog-awards-2-/blog-of-the-year-2013-award/

5-You can now also join the Blog Of The Year Award Facebook Page.Click the link here:https://www.facebook.com/groups/BlogoftheYear

Share your blog posts with  an even wider audience.

6-And as a winner of the award- please add a link back to the blog that presented you with this award-and then proudly display the award on your blog- and start collecting stars!

stars

Who doesn’t love collecting stars? I can see a bright smile on your face and stop being shy. Come on! It’s all yours and grab the awards

Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once-this award is different!

When you begin you will receive the ’1 star’ award- and every time you are given the award by another blog- you can add another star!

There are a total of 6 stars to collect.

Which means that you can check out your favorite blogs- and even if they have already been given the award by someone else- you can still bestow it on them again and help them to reach the maximum of 6 stars! You can either ‘swop’ your badge for the next one each time you are given the award- or even proudly display all six badges if you are lucky enough to be presented with the award 6 times!

You can find all the badges and banners and information you need via this link: ‘Blog of The Year 2013′ Award Badges.

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In the celebrated Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, a defining moment is when Maria sings “My Favorite Things” to the von Trapp children.  It is one of the first moments of true bonding Maria shares with the children, and is one of my favorite scenes of the production.

som

 

So, without further delay, I would like to nominate some of my favorite blogs for the Blog of the Year 2013 award!

http://stormy1218.wordpress.com/

http://stylesalvation.wordpress.com/

http://honeydidyouseethat.wordpress.com/

http://thebondingtool.com/

http://lolarugula.com/

http://oilpastelsbymary.com/

http://charronschatter.com/

http://dadialogues.wordpress.com/

http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/

http://awaywithwordsblog.com/

http://wannabephotographer87.wordpress.com/

http://beebeesworld.wordpress.com/

http://jkmarsh12.wordpress.com/

http://suedreamwalker.wordpress.com/

http://whenibecameanauthor.wordpress.com/

Some of Maria’s favorite things in The Sound of Music include “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens . . .”  The blogs listed above are some of mine.  And I’m sure they will be some of yours, too.

In this season of thankfulness, I also want to extend a hearty thank-you to all the great followers of The Eye-Dancers website.  You are the reason this is so much fun for me.

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Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

A Milestone, a Book Tour, a Thank-You, and a Prince of an Island

On the day I sat down in front of my PC to begin page one, chapter one, of The Eye-Dancers, little did I know where the journey would take me.

blankscreen

 

I had a general idea where I wanted the story to go, and I had a need to tell it.  It felt like a cyclone was bottled up inside of me.  Years earlier, I had dreamed of the wraith-like little girl with the blue, swirling, hypnotic eyes.  And she scared me–just as she scares Mitchell Brant in the opening scene of The Eye-Dancers.  But I wasn’t able to write her story.  Not at that time, anyway.

Then, nearly two decades later, I dreamed of the “ghost girl” again.  She was as real, as vivid, as she had been during that restless night years earlier.  She stood there, in the road, beneath the light of the streetlamp, half there and half not there–the light filtering through her.  And this time, upon waking, I had it!  Somehow, some way, after so many years, the story came to me, unasked for, like a surprise gift from a capricious muse.

muse

 

I felt energized, high on creativity.  I had been wanting to write a novel about growing up, facing the challenges of adolescence, of peer pressure and fitting in and learning to accept yourself for who you really are and what you have to offer the world.  Little did I know the two would intersect.  The “ghost girl” would lead the way, and Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski would follow.

As I began the story, the journey, I wrestled with the same questions and doubts every writer struggles with:  Is the idea any good?  Will I write a hundred pages and then get stuck?  Will anyone want to read it?  Will it be a failure?  And so, when, two years later, I typed the words “The End” on the last page, I felt a wonderful sense of relief.  It was done.  (Well, not really.  There was still the editing and the revising and rewriting, which would take months to complete.)  There is always a sense of loss when you complete such a long and personal writing journey.  But there is also a sense of accomplishment, and, for one brief, glorious moment, there is almost a belief that you can soar, riding the currents of the wind like some space traveler in a Ray Bradbury story.

bradbury

 

When that moment passed, however, I realized the journey was far from over.  Yes, the story had been written.  But the adventure . . . the adventure . . . that had only just begun.

Shortly thereafter, I created this blog, not knowing what to expect, not knowing who, if anyone, would want to read about ghost girls and inter-dimensional voids and dreams and Twilight Zone episodes and old movies and comic books and ideas about writing and creating.  In the beginning, I was clueless.  I didn’t know a thing about blogging, or how to go about it.  But as I soon learned, the WordPress community is a wonderful and welcoming place.  My nervousness quickly departed.  I was like a stage performer, on his opening night, heart racing, breath coming in short, choppy gasps, worried about messing up–but then discovering that the audience is patient and kind, generous with their support, and eager to lend a helping hand.

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And now, all these months later, I have arrived at a milestone.  This post today marks the 100th post on The Eye-Dancers blog.  And I can’t thank you all enough.  Your ongoing support, encouragement, and interest in these ramblings of mine are the reasons I am still here.  You make blogging a joy.  I enjoy every minute of it, and hope you all know how much I appreciate you and thank you for the ways in which you’ve made me a member of this great blogging community.

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I also wanted to announce a new development for The Eye-Dancers, the novel.  Beginning yesterday, and carrying on straight through November 21, The Eye-Dancers is being featured in a book tour.  It’s sponsored by Fire and Ice Book Tours, and I hope you’ll take a look at the schedule and perhaps follow the tour as it makes its rounds through the month of November  . . .

http://fireandicebooktours.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/book-tour-the-eye-dancers-by-michael-s-fedison-ya-teen-sci-fifantasy-tour-dates-11713-112113/

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When I was in the eighth grade, my English teacher surprised the class one gray, nondescript February morning.  She announced that, for the next several days, we would watch a movie in class.  Students cheered.  A movie?  We were all in!  When she said it was Anne of Green Gables, a recently released adaptation of the famous novel written by L.M. Montgomery in 1908, I wasn’t sure what to think.  I had heard of the classic, but had never read it.

anne

 

annenovel

 

Throughout the week, I found myself riveted by the movie.  I smiled many times at Anne’s antics, and cried more than once, my tears hidden in the dim lighting of the room.  Some of the other boys in the class proclaimed they didn’t really like the movie.  “It’s for girls,” they groused.  I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them now.  They liked it.  And I . . . I loved it.  It inspired me to read the book, and then other books by L.M. Montgomery.  And I couldn’t help but notice that many of her stories took place on her native Prince Edward Island, in the Canadian Maritimes.  As time went on, I got the itch to visit Canada’s “Garden of the Gulf.”

pei

 

In 1994, my family and I went.  We drove from Rochester, New York, to PEI–a two-day, 1,000-mile trip.  We stayed a week.  To this day, I maintain PEI is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.  Sometimes, when I’m out in the yard or sitting at my desk or taking a walk, I close my eyes and imagine myself strolling along one of the Island’s red dirt roads, flanked by the wild lupine that bloom seemingly everywhere, a magic carpet of color.

lupins

 

Or I picture myself on one of the Island’s many beaches.  Or on a particular beach, at a particular moment . . .

It was early one morning, midway through our vacation.  Our hotel was close to the sea, and, not being able to sleep, I decided to walk down to the beach.  The previous day, the temperature had soared to record-breaking heights, but now, in the silence of an Island morning, the sun rising over the water, the sand between my toes, a lone seagull calling out, its cry echoing along the beach and the dunes, it was cool, almost chilly.

I looked out over the waves, shielding my eyes from the sun.  There was no one else around–just the gull and me, and a solitary crow pecking at something in the grass a few hundred feet behind me.  And then, even the gull flew away, leaving in its absence the gentle murmur of the sea.  I peered toward the horizon.  I couldn’t tell where the ocean ended and the sky began.  They seemed to merge, melding into one silent entity–timeless, eternal.

beach

 

I listened. For what I didn’t know.  Maybe, in the quiet of the morning, the sea whispered its secrets to those willing to hear them.  But more than anything, I felt a sense of exhilaration.  There was so much out there, beyond the horizon, so much to do and see and discover.  I smiled, eager to travel along the back roads and highways and hidden woodland paths on this journey.

journey

 

As I stood there that morning, two decades ago, I had not yet been online–the Internet was in its infancy.  The term “blog” hadn’t even been invented yet.  If I had known then what I know now, if I had known I would be fortunate enough to discover such a wonderful community on a place called WordPress, in the twenty-first century, I am sure my smile would have been even wider.

Thank you to everyone for all the  support of The Eye-Dancers’ first 100 posts!  I hope you’ll stick around for the next hundred . . .

sunrise

 

Thanks so much for reading!  You are the best.

–Mike

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