Your Place in This (or Any) World

In chapter 8 of The Eye-Dancers, shortly after arriving in the variant town of Colbyville, Mitchell Brant looks around and takes stock of his new surroundings.  It is, to say the least, an unsettling experience . . .

“A red vehicle drove past, its chrome fenders sparkling in the sunshine.  Just like the cars he’d seen in the parking lot, this one looked odd, old-fashioned.  All of the cars did–parked along the roadside, tight against the curb.  And there was something about the town itself, too.  The flowing, curvy shape of the street lamps, the fancy script lettering on the store fronts, the phone booth across the street . . . Everything just looked dated, off, as if the axis of the universe had shifted a quarter-inch to the left.”

booth

 

It is ironic that Mitchell finds himself in such a situation, feeling like the proverbial stranger in a strange land, because that’s the same way he all-too-often feels at home.  About to enter the seventh grade, Mitchell has always envied the popular kids in his class.  He’s never been one of them.  But his feelings of isolation and awkwardness do not occur only on school property.  Even his own mother seems to think he’s a little strange.  In chapter 1, when his mom eyes him a certain way, the text reads  . . .

“Mitchell knew that look well.  It was the one that made him feel like a Martian, or a Venusian, who had crash-landed onto Earth.  Come to think of it, a lot of things made him feel that way.”

mars

 

Mitchell isn’t the only one in the story who harbors such feelings.  Joe Marma is self-conscious because he’s the shortest boy in his class.  On top of that, he has the perfect older brother, and he can never measure up, no matter how hard he tries.  He has an ever-present chip on his shoulder.

Ryan Swinton struggles with always wanting to please the people around him.  He has a hard time making decisions.  What if he chooses a course of action that others don’t want to pursue?  He compensates by making jokes, always feeling pressure to make people laugh.

From chapter 3 . . .

“There was nothing worse than delivering a punch line and having no one laugh.  But the flip side was also true.  Few things could match the high he felt when he told a joke and people cracked up.  It was the greatest.  Winning their approval.  Winning their favor.  It sometimes felt scary, how important that was to him.”

And Marc Kuslanski feels like a social outcast–he has no real friends, is an only child, and sometimes wonders if he ever really had a childhood to begin with.  He sees other kids his age playing ball and having fun, but he always seems to be left out, perpetually on the sidelines.

This is the character backdrop of The Eye-Dancers, and when these four boys eventually find themselves in a new and different world, their sense of alienation only increases.  They continually come across strange things–antique-looking cars, expressions and words they’ve never heard of, a lack of PCs and cell phones, just to name a few.  As if they didn’t already struggle enough to fit in on Earth, now they have to deal with this. 

placeinworld

 

I believe that the struggles of Mitchell, Joe, Ryan, and Marc mirror our own.  We all, at one point or another, have wanted to fit in–somewhere.  Almost everyone has experienced moments of feeling like a social outcast.  I know I have.

I still remember my first day of junior high.  New school.  Lockers.  Lots of new students from other area grade schools all coming together under one roof.  In an offer of support, one of my older brothers walked me in that day, taking me to my locker.  I had never used a locker in grade school.  It intimidated me.  It seemed a cold, alien thing, metallic, gray, impersonal.  For a moment, I thought I sensed it grinning at me, as if it knew a secret I wasn’t privy to.   “You’re gonna hate it here,” I imagined it saying.

My brother, then a college student, looked around at his old stomping grounds, smiling.  A teacher stopped, said hello, remembering him.  My brother introduced me.  I shook the teacher’s hand, wishing a hole would open up right there in the hallway.  I would jump in, feet first, hoping to escape into the basement, hiding behind the old pipes and furnace and whatever else lurked, unseen, in the corners.  Anyplace else would be better than where I was.

The thing is–as time went on, I adjusted to junior high, and it pushed me to become a better student.  I met new friends, learned new lessons.  I began to grow up.  When you’re twelve or thirteen, you are searching for your place in this world.  So many options exist, just beyond the horizon.  After junior high, there is high school, then perhaps college, a career.  It is an exciting yet overwhelming time.

Back then. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life.  For a while, I wanted to be a marine biologist.  Then a private detective.  Then a teacher.  In the end, my love of writing won out, and I decided to pursue a career in the written word.  That, I eventually came to believe, was my place in this world.

For Mitchell Brant and Joe Marma and Ryan Swinton and Marc Kuslanski, they must also find their place in this world.  But before they can do that, they must first find their place, and themselves, in another, far-off world, a world where the axis of the universe may indeed seem shifted a quarter-inch to the left, but where, also, they will be forced to confront and overcome their insecurities and inner demons.

findyourself

 

The Eye-Dancers, at its core, is a story about growing up, discovery, and keeping the faith even in the midst of adversity.  While it tackles concepts of quantum physics and journeys to an alternate reality, it is, I hope, a story everyone can relate to.

After all, we all experienced that first day of junior high.  And if that wasn’t a trip to an alternate reality, I’m not sure what is . . .

universetilt

 

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

 

“One for the Angels” (Or, Win a Gift Card, Any Gift Card!)

In an early Season One episode of The Twilight Zone titled “One for the Angels,” sidewalk salesman Lou Bookman is confronted by Mr. Death.  Death tells the personable, well-liked pitchman that his time has come–he will die at midnight.  Bookman pleads with Death, asking him to postpone his demise until he makes his one last great pitch–“one for the angels,” he calls it.  While he’s made sales all his life, Bookman tells Death he’s never made that big splash, that monumental transaction.   He yearns for the opportunity.

lou2

 

Death grants him his request, but then Bookman tries to outsmart him.  He retires from the sales trade; therefore, the deal with Death is null and void.  If he’s no longer a pitchman, he can’t make that exciting sale he just waxed poetic about.  He will live on indefinitely.  Death has been defeated!

Not so fast.  It turns out that Death needs to take someone–if not Bookman, then someone else.  Mr. Death selects a little girl–a girl Bookman adores.  She lives in the same apartment building as he does, and the two have become friends.  That’s not unusual for Lou Bookman–children always seem to take a liking to him, and he to them.

loubookman

 

The girl is hit by a truck, and Bookman feels responsible.  He seeks out Mr. Death, pleads to make a deal with him to spare the girl’s life.  She is in a bed, lying comatose, barely holding on.  He asks to be taken in her place.  But Death refuses.  They had an arrangement.  Bookman broke it, and a new deal was struck.  Death will need to be in the girl’s room at the stroke of midnight to take her with him.

outsmartdeath

 

As midnight approaches, Bookman finds Mr. Death on the street and attempts to distract him, knowing that if  Death fails to show up in the girl’s room at midnight, she will live.  Bookman flies into a sales pitch, frantic, determined to succeed.  He shows Death everything he has to sell, and captivates him.  Mr. Death, overwhelmed, finally says, “Give me all you have!”    Midnight comes and goes.  Death has missed his appointed round.  The girl will live.

dealwithdeath2

 

Lou Bookman has done it–he has made his last great sales pitch–“one for the angels,” indeed.  Now Death will need to take him, as per the original agreement.  In saving the girl’s life, Bookman has sacrificed his own.

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

The promotional pitch I am offering here cannot compare with the one made by Lou Bookman in The Twilight Zone fifty-four summers ago.  But I hope it will top a similar Eye-Dancers promo I ran back in April.

annemannequin

 

The concept is the same–during the promotional period, anyone who purchases The Eye-Dancers will have an opportunity to win a gift card.

But the specifics are different.  This promo, for one thing, will last longer–allowing for a possibly much higher gift-card amount to the winner.  Also, the current promo will not be strictly an Amazon affair, as the last one was . . .

Between today (July 11) and August 22, if you buy The Eye-Dancers, wherever it is sold, please notify me–either with a comment on this website, or via email at michaelf424@gmail.com.  I will keep track of  each person who buys the book during this time frame and then, on August 23, the day after the promotion ends, I will randomly select one winner.  The selected person will be awarded a gift card–to anywhere!  If you’d like an Amazon gift card, by all means . . .  Or B & N.  Or even something non-book-related.  Pizza Hut, perhaps?  Your favorite department store?  The choice will be yours!

giftcard

 

The amount of the gift card will be based on the number of overall purchases of The Eye-Dancers during the promotional time period.  For each purchase, $2.00 will be earmarked toward the gift card.  So, for example, if there are thirty purchases during the promotion, the gift card would be for $60 (30 purchases x $2.00 per purchase).  The gift card amount, in other words, will be determined by you!  The more purchases, the higher the amount on the gift card.

I’ll draw the winner’s name on Thursday, August 23, and will immediately send an email notifying them of the good news.  And please just remember that if you do purchase The Eye-Dancers during the designated period to make sure and contact me so I can enter your name into the gift-card contest.

The Eye-Dancers is available for purchase at the following online retail locations . . .

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Eye-Dancers-ebook/dp/B00A8TUS8M

B & N:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-eye-dancers-michael-s-fedison/1113839272?ean=2940015770261

Smashwords:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/255348

Kobo:  http://store.kobobooks.com/books/The-Eye-Dancers/nKFZETbWWkyzV2QkaJWOjg

This promo may not quite be “one for the angels,” but I hope you’ll take part!

oneforfinal

 

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

When a Window Is a Mirror

What motivates us to create something?  If you’re a painter, why do you paint?  If you’re a chef, why do you experiment with new recipes?  And if you’re a writer, why do you write?

There are many answers to these questions, of course.  Perhaps you want to paint a beautiful scene, something that inspires you.  Maybe you want to mix in various ingredients that, at first blush, do not seem to mesh but you strive to complement the yin with the yang.  And maybe you want to write a personal essay, a brutally honest and difficult piece dealing with an old wound.

But what if you are seeking recognition from others?  You want your painting to be showcased in a gallery.  You want your recipe to be featured in a magazine.  You want your novel to be the next big thing.  What then?  Before you begin, do you step back, analyze the market, pick and sift through possibilities, trends, genres?  Perhaps.  It depends.

Since I am a writer, and not a painter or a chef, I can speak from experience only about writing.  And let’s take a look at that word–genre.

genres

 

When I published The Eye-Dancers, the various retail sites where it’s available all required basic information regarding the book.  Obviously, these details include author name, sale price, blurb, and things of that nature.  But they also required a genre, a label, if you will, with which to tag the work.

Let me step back.  At the point of conception, when The Eye-Dancers was only an idea, a potentiality, with no guarantee that it would ever be completed, did I think of and consider the book’s genre?  Yes and no.  I did not select a genre ahead of time and say, “I want to write a book for that market.”  I had a story–the story came first.  But I knew the book would center around four adolescent boys, about to embark on a dimension-shattering adventure.  And I knew the plot would take readers on a wild ride, complete with ghost girls, swirling, hypnotic eyes, dreams that are much more than “just” dreams, and alternate worlds and endless blue voids.  Given all that, the novel was clearly Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy.

througheye

 

Or is it?  Since the protagonists in question are twelve years old, some would further classify the book as middle grade.

When I summarized the plot to a friend, he said, “Yeah, but remember, most young adult readers like to read up, not down.  Why don’t you make the characters seventeen instead of twelve?  And girls read more than boys.  Maybe you should make one of your main characters a girl.”  I just shrugged my shoulders.  If this were a purely marketing project, perhaps he had a point.  The problem is–ideas don’t work like that.  Creativity doesn’t work like that.  I have tried to alter ideas before for reasons other than the story.  It never works.  The Eye-Dancers is a story about Mitchell Brant and Joe Marma and Ryan Swinton and Marc Kuslanski–all boys.  And all preteens.   That’s how the story came to me.  That’s what I had to write, and to share.

Apart from the issue of the characters’ age and gender, there is also the sci-fi/fantasy element.  But there again, is it science fiction and fantasy?  Of course it is.  The premise is based on parallel worlds and quantum physics and the ability to communicate across the void.  And yet–to me, at least, to classify The Eye-Dancers as strictly sci-fi/fantasy doesn’t tell the whole truth. For instance, there are many mainstream aspects to the story.  One of the driving forces that urged me to write The Eye-Dancers was a desire to get inside the four main characters’ heads–to present them as three-dimensional, flawed individuals who are thrust into a dangerous and life-altering predicament, one that will force them to confront their own insecurities, biases, and points of view.

When I first told my mother about the book, she said, “Oh, really?  But I don’t like science fiction!”  I said, “Mom, don’t worry about the label.  It’s not a story about space ships and little green men [not that there’s anything wrong with such stories!  I happen to like them!].  It’s a story about adolescence, growing up, learning new things.  Hopefully it challenges people to view reality in a more layered way.  A lot of it actually feels mainstream.  Really.”

This is true of so many novels.  Today, more than ever, we like to put a sticker on the fiction we read.  Steampunk.  Dystopian.  Urban Fantasy.  Soft Sci-fi.  The list goes on and on.  Such labels have a purpose, of course.  They serve as guideposts to would-be readers, telling them ahead of time what to expect.  If a genre (or subgenre) tends to have several dos and don’ts attached to it, a reader feels safer purchasing a book in one of his or her preferred categories.  At the same time, so many stories cross multiple genres.

Reading a novel is often like looking through a window, but also, simultaneously, seeing your reflection in the glass.

windowmirror

 

On the one hand, you are peering into a new world, complete with imaginative vistas and unexpected twists and turns.  On the other hand, the characters in the story share some of your own struggles.  When you laugh with them, cry with them, care about them, you do that because they speak to you on some innate and mysterious level.

The window into this “other” fictional world has, in turn, become a mirror, reflecting your own.

cat2

 

It is certainly my hope that The Eye-Dancers can create in readers this window-and-mirror duality.  For the twelve-year-old who knows, firsthand, what Ryan feels when he desperately seeks favor and fears rejection, sure.  But also for the fifty-three-year-old office worker who recalls his own struggles in middle school; for the thirty-four-year-old engineer who often looks at her universe with the same logic-oriented lens as Marc; for the ninety-year-old great-grandmother who remembers her first kiss, all these years later, and is right there with Mitchell when he experiences his.

It seems to me that writing about adolescence is not a narrowly defined subgenre at all, but rather, it addresses a period of life that we’ve all gone through, can all remember, and can all relate to.

Is The Eye-Dancers a Young Adult Sci-fi/fantasy novel?  That’s what it says on Amazon.  Heck, that’s what it says in the headline of this very website!

But, first and foremost, I believe it is what any creative writing project should be, above all–a story.  A story that came to me, unasked for, unplanned.

In the words of novelist Jose Saramago,  “The novel is not so much a literary genre, but a literary space, like a sea that is filled by many rivers.”

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

 

Magnolia Moments

This weekend, I will go back home to Rochester, NY, and visit family and old friends.  It’s always an enjoyable time, and if I’m lucky, I’ll also have an opportunity to experience something as magical as it is rare. . . .

On the city’s southeast side, Oxford Street is a well-tended residential avenue, pleasant and attractive for much of the year.  But for one week in early May, a portion of Oxford Street is transformed into a fragrant, flowery paradise.

magnolia3

 

The Oxford Mall is a tree-lined section of the street, flanked on either side by stately homes that watch over the avenue like old poets contemplating the beauty in their midst.  And what beauty it is . . .

The Oxford Mall is famous for its long row of magnolia trees, which bloom each year in early May.  Area residents often make it a point to stroll or drive down the avenue, basking in the display.  I have experienced the magnolias on Oxford Street many times.  It’s something that never gets old.

magnolia1

 

magnolia2

 

But you have to catch the magnolias at the right time, or else you’ll miss them.  Generally, they are in full bloom for a few days, perhaps a week, and then they are gone, not to appear again until the following spring.  I have sometimes wondered–Why is something so beautiful, so breathtaking, also so fleeting?  Shouldn’t the flowers stay a while longer?  Why must they tease us, tantalize us each year, only to fall away within a matter of days?

Then I rethink it.  Maybe it’s their very transience that makes them what they are.  If the magnolias decorated the Oxford Mall for months on end, would they remain so special?  Or would the residents begin to take them for granted–just one more feature, albeit a lovely one, of the Rochester summer landscape?

It is much the same with writing.  Of course any writer wants each word of a manuscript to count.  Every sentence should lead into the next sentence.  Every paragraph should be germane to the story.  Every slice of dialogue should ring true to the character who speaks it.  But at the same time, can every line be a masterpiece?  Can each sentence be a miniature prose poem?

Try it sometime.  Even for one paragraph–try to make every word sing, try to end every sentence with a flourish.  It simply doesn’t work.  Much like the magnolias on Oxford Street, there is a time and a place to “wow” your audience in a manuscript.  If every paragraph was a thing of utter beauty, the overall beauty of the story would blur, blinded by its own brilliance.  You can’t hit a home run with every swing of the bat–nor should you attempt to.  Sometimes there are runners on first and second with nobody out, and a sacrifice bunt makes more sense.

Generally, especially in a long work like a novel, the role of the language is to move the story along, engage the reader, and intrigue.  Simplicity and straightforwardness accomplish this.  The story, in essence, needs to tell itself.  If each sentence is adorned with gold earrings and diamond necklaces, readers will become distracted.  The language elevates itself and becomes the star of the show, thrusting the story and characters into the background.  It may be beautiful writing, but it’s not necessarily effective.

There are, however, places in a story where you do indeed want the language itself to resonate, to leave an indelible impression on the reader.  If you pick your spots, and don’t overdo it, these sections of your story should make an impact.  They will stand out.  They will take the reader by the hand and not let go.  In The Eye-Dancers, I sometimes would try for this effect at the end of a chapter.

At the end of chapter 12, for example, after listening to Marc Kuslanski‘s theory on parallel worlds,  Mitchell Brant ponders the possibility of multiple realities, multiple Mitchells.  It’s a concept he finds equal parts fascinating, equal parts confusing.  The last paragraphs of chapter 12 read as follows:

*********

“It seemed like hours before he got to sleep. . . . [He] lay there, thinking–of worlds upon worlds, layers of existence, side by side.  And he wondered.  What was he doing in those other worlds right now?  Did he have a sister?  Were his parents the same?  Did they get along, somewhere?  Were there really worlds out there where his mom and dad didn’t fight with each other?  Were there worlds where Mitchell was confident?  Where he could talk with ease, and his tongue worked as fluidly, as effortlessly, as his mind?

‘Good night, Mitchell,’ he whispered, to himself, to all of his selves, in all of the worlds in existence.  His last thought before sleep finally took him away was of a line of Mitchell Brants.  They stood, single file, one in front of the other.  He started to count them in his mind’s eye, but the line went on and on, forever.  He was infinite, endless.

When he counted the two hundred sixty-third Mitchell Brant, the line began to melt away, disintegrating into the netherworld of his dreams.”

**********

Yes, I will be driving along Oxford Street this weekend when I’m in Rochester.  And yes, I hope I catch the magnolias at the right time.  But if I don’t, there’s always next year.

And there’s always the reminder . . .

Magnolia moments are precious.  Because they are beautiful?

Yes.

magnolia4

But also, because they are rare.

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

Do You Believe in Miracles?

During the waning moments of the hockey game between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics, broadcaster Al Michaels uttered the now famous line, “Do you believe in miracles?”

Certainly, prior to the game, a miracle was the only hope anyone gave the American hockey team.  Composed of a collection of college kids, the U.S. team was a hard-nosed, well-conditioned group, but way out of their league squaring off against the Soviets.

hockeyteamusa

 

The Soviet team, which had won every gold medal since 1964, was considered the best in the world, more powerful, even, than professional teams in the NHL.  In fact, just months before the start of the 1980 Olympics, the Soviets had thrashed an all-star team of NHL players, 6–0.  And days before the Olympics began, the Americans faced the Soviets in an exhibition game, losing 10–3.

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For Team U.S.A, it appeared to be a case of Mission Impossible.

To everyone on the outside, that was.  But Coach Herb Brooks believed in his team’s chances, and instilled in them that same belief.

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Most teams, he explained, were afraid of the Soviets, didn’t think they could compete with them, and, in essence, had already lost the game before it even began.  It would be different with this U.S. group.  In the locker room before the game, Brooks told his team, “You were born to be a player.  You were meant to be here.  This moment is yours.”

Team U.S.A. had talent, of course.  They represented the best amateur players in the country.  But it wasn’t talent that would enable them to defeat the “unbeatable” Soviets.  It was an ability to believe in the near-impossible, a faith to hold on to their dreams in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

It was, in short, a belief in miracles.

**********

In the Twilight Zone episode “Kick the Can,” this same principle is explored, tested, and, ultimately fulfilled–for all who believe.  For those who don’t–the ending is quite different.

Charles Whitley is a retiree who lives at the Sunnyvale Rest Home.

truax

 

One summer day, while looking out the window, Charles can’t help but notice a group of children playing Kick the Can and Hide-and-Seek on the grounds of the Rest Home.  He’s delighted watching them, and remembers playing the same games in his youth.  His roommate, Ben Conroy, is less nostalgic, and just wants the kids to go away so he can have some peace and quiet.  “They’re making enough noise to raise the dead,” he moans.

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But Charles continues to ponder.  Kick the Can.  Hide-and-Seek.  “All kids play those games,” he says.  “And the minute they stop–they begin to grow old.”  And miracles?  Magic?  He and Ben used to believe in magic once, too, when they were kids.  But not anymore.  “What happened?” he asks.  “What changed?”  Ben says they grew up, that’s all.  “Everybody gets over it.”

Charles, though, is undeterred.  Thinking out loud, he says, “Maybe the people who stay young  . . . maybe they know a secret that they keep from the rest of us.  Maybe the fountain of youth isn’t a fountain at all.  Maybe it’s a way of looking at things, a way of thinking.”

Listening to this, Ben thinks Charles is going crazy, and worries about him.  And when Charles persists in his new outlook, when he starts acting like a kid, playing tricks and running through sprinklers, the other residents of the Home begin to wonder about him, too.

kickcan1

 

That night, late, Charles wakes the residents up, asking them to remember the way it used to be, when they were kids, how they would sneak outside and play Kick the Can.  The others reminisce, too, wistfully.  “Seems like a million years ago.”  “Look how I’ve changed,” they say.

Charles tries to encourage them to join him, to go outside and play.  He looks out the window, into the night.  “Can’t you hear it?” he says.  “Summer.  Grass!  Run!  Jump!  Youth!”  “Wake up!” he pleads.  “I can’t play Kick the Can alone.”

The others join him–all except for Ben, who thinks it nothing but foolishness.  They’re old, he says.  They’ll hurt themselves trying to play a children’s game.

kick2

 

Charles won’t accept that.  “There is magic in the world,” he says. . . .  “And maybe–Kick the Can is the greatest magic of all.”  But Ben won’t go–he remains inside while the others head out to play.

Later, when he does go outside to see what’s happening, Ben is amazed to find a group of children playing Kick the Can.  Only then does he realize–Charles had been right.  The magic did exist.  It was real.  Wanting to join his friends, now magically transformed into children, Ben, begging for a second chance, asks the suddenly young Charles to take him along, too, to make him a kid again.  But Charles the boy no longer recognizes him, and returns to the game.

The gravity of it hits Ben hard–it’s too late.  For the miracle to happen, for the magic to work, he had to believe when the others did.

***********

It is no different in The Eye-Dancers.

After Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski are marooned in the variant town of Colbyville, they discover that the only way to make the trans-universe journey back home is rife with question marks, uncertainties, and risks.  After everything they’ve faced, the challenges and dangers they’ve overcome, their chances of getting back to Earth seem all too bleak.

On the night they intend to go back home, utilizing methods they don’t understand and relying on the same “ghost girl” who got them into this jam to begin with, Joe Marma struggles to try and find a reason for optimism.  He does.  Reflecting on everything that’s taken place, he believes that, somehow, some way, someone must have been watching out for them the entire time.  Too much had happened, too many fortuitous “coincidences” had occurred, to chalk it all up to blind chance.

The text reads:

” . . . Or so he wanted to think.  Maybe it wasn’t true.  Maybe they were just lucky.

“But he didn’t buy that.  He wouldn’t accept it.  Now was not the time to doubt.  It was a time to hope, to trust.  To have faith.  In what or whom, it didn’t really matter.”

All that mattered was that they believe. . . .

So, to return to Al Michaels’ question at the end of Team U.S.A. defeating the vaunted Soviets.  It might just as well have been rhetorical.  No one would have blamed Michaels for not providing us with an answer.

But he did.

It was an answer that the four protagonists in The Eye-Dancers would, by novel’s end, agree with.  It was an answer the residents of Sunnyvale Rest Home not only agreed with, but lived out.  All but one, anyway.

It was an answer, I hope, that we all can echo . . .

“Do you believe in miracles?”

“Yes!”

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

Eye-Dancers Amazon Gift Card Opportunity, a Twitter Announcement, and . . . Mannequins?

In the first-season Twilight Zone episode “The After Hours,” Marsha White, a customer at a large department store, asks where she can find the store’s selection of gold thimbles.

marshawhite

 

She is told the ninth floor, and she is escorted there by the elevator man.  Once dropped off, a saleswoman approaches her–an odd person who makes Marsha uncomfortable.

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Stranger still, there is only one item for sale on the entire ninth floor–the exact gold thimble Marsha is shopping for.  She purchases the item, unaware that this transaction is not the end, but rather the beginning of a spooky, unnerving, and ultimately self-revealing adventure.

anneafterhours

 

By episode’s end, Marsha realizes she is a mannequin–one of the many on display throughout the store.  Each month, a new mannequin is “awakened,” and able to experience life as a person.  But at the end of the thirty days, they must return and let the next mannequin in line have their chance.  Marsha, drunk on life, as it were, had suppressed the knowledge that she was a mannequin.  The peculiar dealings in the department store serve as a reminder, and eventually show her that her time is up.  She must return to her inanimate existence.

annemannequin

 

Now, what does all this have to do with The Eye-Dancers Amazon gift-card promotion that begins today?  I’m not sure!  Except to say, this promotion is very straightforward, and I promise, no one will be turned into a mannequin upon its completion.

For anyone who is thinking of purchasing The Eye-Dancers, the next three weeks offer an intriguing opportunity.  Beginning today, April 2, and ending Sunday, April 21, anyone who purchases The Eye-Dancers on Amazon will be eligible to win an Amazon gift card.  Here is how it works . . .

Between April 2 and April 21, if you buy The Eye-Dancers on Amazon, please notify me–either with a comment on this website, or via email at michaelf424@gmail.com.  I will write down the name of  each person who buys the book during this time frame on a small slip of paper, fold the paper, and place it in a jar.  Then, on April 22, the day after the promotion ends, I will randomly select one of the names from the jar.  The selected person will be awarded the Amazon gift card.

amazongift

The amount of the gift card will be based on the number of Amazon purchases of The Eye-Dancers during the promotional time period.  For each purchase, $1.50 will be earmarked toward the gift card.  So, for example, if there are twenty purchases during the promotion, the gift card would be $30 (20 purchases x $1.50 per purchase).  The gift card amount, in other words, will be determined by you!  The more purchases, the higher the amount on the gift card.

I’ll draw the winner’s name on Monday, April 22, and will email the good news to the winner, and immediately award them the gift card.

Hopefully you’ll take part!  Please remember, this only applies to Amazon purchases.  And if you do buy The Eye-Dancers during the designated period, please make sure to contact me so I can enter your name into the gift-card contest.

The link to The Eye-Dancers on Amazon is:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Eye-Dancers-ebook/dp/B00A8TUS8M

Hopefully, also, the details of this promotion are not as confusing, tricky, or scary as the shopping experience Marsha White endured in “The After Hours”!

A final note:  I have joined the Twitter world!  Please follow me at https://twitter.com/msfedison27.

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

Author Interview–Shannon A. Thompson

I started The Eye-Dancers website in late summer 2012.  Shortly after that, Shannon A. Thompson started her website, shannonathompson,com.  I remember it well because, at the time, I was not really sure where to go with The Eye-Dancers site, what kinds of things to post, and, really, how to go about blogging in general.  I had never attempted anything quite like this before.  When Shannon created her site, she came across mine and Liked a couple of the earliest posts on the site, and became one of the very first followers of The Eye-Dancers blog.  It is an honor and a privilege now to have the opportunity to interview her on The Eye-Dancers site.

I cannot recommend Shannon’s website highly enough.  I strongly encourage you to check it out.  It is full of all manner of engaging information, from reviews to anecdotes, from writing tips to encouraging and inspirational posts.  Shannon has had one novel published already–November Snow–and is about to publish another, Minutes Before Sunset.  In the interview that follows, I ask her about her writing, her novels, her number-one piece of advice for new writers, and her plans for the future.

So, without further delay, I hope you enjoy the interview . . .

1. Please tell us a little bit about your website.

My website is used to communicate with fellow writers, readers, and/or fans. My publications are available for purchasing, and I have the latest news on there, but I mainly use it as a blog—to give writing tips, publishing tips, book reviews, movie reviews, and just little bits about my life. My hope is to inspire others to follow their dreams and even support them while following my own.

2. You have a new Young Adult novel coming out soon—Minutes Before Sunset.  Tell us a little bit about that.  Can you give us a brief synopsis of the novel?

I can! My small synopsis is on my website:

“Minutes Before Sunset is a paranormal romance darkened by a hidden war between shades and lights. Told from two perspectives, one boy will discover the key to his kind’s survival, even if it means sacrificing the one he loves.”

But I have a longer one that I’m about to release 😀

3. When will Minutes Before Sunset be released?  Where will it be sold?

I’m hoping it will be ready to go by the end of April/beginning of May. I will announce that as soon as I know for sure, because I don’t want to announce it then have to change it. It will only be sold on NOOK or Kindle. I am currently working on a novel with a publisher, but I wanted to release Minutes Before Sunset myself to show another side of my work—other than the poetry and my novel that was published.

4. This isn’t your first novel.  You also wrote November Snow, which was published in 2007, when you were sixteen.  I think a lot of people would be impressed that you published a novel at such a young age.  What can you tell us about November Snow?

November Snow is my baby. It’s actually the second novel I attempted to write, but it was the first one I ever completed. I was fifteen when I finished it, and I started it at thirteen. It took a long time, but it means so much to me, because I wrote it as I was dealing with my mother’s death in 2003. What a lot of my readers today don’t know is that I took it off the market for a long time. From 2008 to 2012, it wasn’t available. I did this on purpose, because I was graduating from high school and adjusting to college life. I couldn’t manage it at seventeen—I was too busy figuring out HOW to manage, but now that I have, it’s back, and I’m excited to watch it grow again!

5. Six years have passed between the publication of your first novel and the release of Minutes Before Sunset.  Would you say that you have changed at all as a writer during that time?  If so, in what ways?

Oh my gosh, yes! I have changed so much. Other than being a more responsible individual, I have learned a lot of writing techniques I didn’t understand when I was sixteen. For instance, in November Snow I wrote from two perspectives—Daniel and Serena—but their voices didn’t seem much different; only the events did. Now, at twenty-one, I’ve written other novels by two perspectives, and I worked on their overall voices being different. When I was sixteen, I used adverbs a lot; now I know that’s not a great thing to do. I did a lot of “telling” with my “showing,” but I’ve learned to cut my “telling” out. Honestly, I could go on forever. As a writer, I’m constantly changing, and I think that’s the most exciting part about being a writer—discovering yourself as you discover your world.

6. On your website, you often provide tips and advice to writers, which is a wonderful feature.  But . . . if you could give one piece of advice, and one only, to a new or aspiring writer, what would that be?

Write with passion; succeed with self-discipline. This is my motto, and it keeps my writing moving every day.

7. You will graduate from the University of Kansas with a BA in English this spring.  What are your plans after that?

Unfortunately, after my roommate died, I had to cut down my hours this semester to cope, so I’m graduating in December now. But, ultimately, I feel like this was the right thing for me to do. My plans after school is work—but I have to admit that I have no plans beyond that. I’ve been very busy with Minutes Before Sunset, and, since I have another nine months, it gives me more time to search for jobs.

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

“At sixteen years old, Shannon A. Thompson became the published author of November Snow. At twenty-one, she was featured in Poems: a collection of works by twelve young Kansas poets. She’s lived in five states and moved over fifteen times, which she uses as inspiration for writing. Shannon dedicates all of her published works to lost loved ones, and she encourages everyone to find their passion.”

In addition to her website, you can find Shannon on Twitter  and on Facebook.

Thanks so much to Shannon for doing this interview, and thank you to everyone for reading!

–Mike

 

 

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