Tag Archives: reading

Interview with Mike Fedison, Author of The Eye-Dancers

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This is a “cross post” from Nerd in the Brain, so if you read both blogs, don’t be alarmed. 🙂

Grace recently did a wonderful job in helping me develop questions for an author of a self-published book…the fantastic Mike Fedison. His book, The Eye-Dancers, is a great read for just about all ages.  (Okay, so the toddler crowd might not enjoy it, but just about everyone else will.) 😉  Some really good advice is given to young authors in the interview, so Grace and I thought this blog would be a great venue for the interview, too.  Grace hasn’t actually read The Eye-Dancers yet, but it’s next on her list…I’m thinking you’ll be hearing her thoughts on the book in the near future.

A great read for a small investment!  Click the picture for links to purchase. :)

A great read for a small investment! Click the picture for links to purchase. 🙂

Without further ado, here’s the interview:

1. Before we really get started with the questions, tell us a little bit about your book.

The Eye-Dancers is a book that (I would like to think!) is hard to pigeonhole. On the one hand, it is a young adult sci-fi/fantasy complete with ghost girls, parallel worlds, quantum physics, mystery, and endless blue voids. I hope readers of all ages will find that the story takes them on a wild, imaginative ride. But on the other hand, the story is, at its heart, about four boys, their struggles to fit in, their difficulties with insecurities , and the challenges of adolescence. Despite the science-fiction backdrop, I very much hope that readers will become invested in the characters, root for them, and care about them.

The Eye-Dancers also explores the theme of oneness—everything is connected. Events and people that seem so far away, a universe away, are, in actuality, much closer to us than we ever dared to think.

2. How did The Eye-Dancers come to be? Was it a story you formulated over time or were you just zapped with inspiration one day?

Both! Back when I was a teenager, I had a vivid dream—the kind of dream that stays with you long after you wake up. In the dream, I felt an unexplainable need to look through my bedroom window, into the street. It was late, well after midnight. When I looked outside, there was a girl standing beneath the streetlight. But she was no ordinary girl. The light seemed to filter right through her, as though she were more ghost than girl. She gestured for me to come outside, and I felt scared, as if she represented a threat.

Then I woke up. Even back then I was always looking to write stories, and I remember wanting very much to incorporate this “ghost girl” into a tale. I tried several, but nothing worked. I couldn’t seem to build a story around her. So—reluctantly, I filed her away in a “story vault,” hoping that, one day, she would appear in a novel or shorter piece of fiction.

Year went by—twenty years, to be exact! And then, one night, I had the same dream—dreaming of this same “ghost girl.” But this time, when I woke up, the basic idea for The Eye-Dancers was in place. It was one of those extreme highs in a writer’s life. Going to bed, I had nothing. Upon waking, I had a novel to write. I felt energized, and couldn’t wait to get started. The next day, I did . . .

3. Tell us a bit about your writing process. Are there outlines and notes and scheduled writing times or a flurry of ideas crammed into a document when you have spare moments or something in between?

I don’t really have scheduled writing times—my dream is to be able to be a full-time novelist, but that hasn’t happened yet! As such, I just write when I can. Sometimes it’s very early in the morning. Sometimes it’s on a lazy, nondescript Saturday afternoon. Other times it’s late at night. The key is—to write at least something nearly every day. Once I get into the process of writing a novel, I want to make sure I keep the momentum going.

I don’t use detailed, chapter-by-chapter outlines—I find those too restrictive. The creative process is fluid and can change midstream. I wouldn’t want to adhere firmly to a set plan ahead of time when the characters in the story might be telling me to go in an entirely new direction. (And yes, characters DO talk to me, after a fashion! I need to keep my ears open.) I do write a lot of notes, though—guideposts where I think the story is going. These, too, can change, though, the deeper I get in to the novel.

4. What advice do you have for a young aspiring author?

Write what you love, not what’s in vogue. Write because you have to, because if you don’t, you feel like you’re going to burst. Be willing to work hard at your craft, and edit, edit, edit. When you think a story is finished, it isn’t. Be open and receptive to feedback, but at the same time, believe in your story, your voice, and what you’re trying to say. And keep dreaming, keep persevering, never stop trying. There will be rejections and criticisms and self-doubts. Get through those. Keep going, and reach for the stars.

5. Your characters are incredibly intriguing and flawed (in an interesting way). Are the characters of The Eye-Dancers based on aspects of yourself or people you know?

They are! The four main characters are inspired by friends I knew growing up. And yes, there are aspects of myself in them, as well, particularly the character of Mitchell Brant. It was very fun writing for these boys!

6. Is there a character in the book that you relate to better than the others? 

Without a doubt, Mitchell Brant. Mitchell’s love of old comic books in general (and The Fantastic Four in particular), his shyness around girls, and his overactive imagination are aspects I, myself, shared when I was that age.

7. What were your favorite books as a kid? Were you influenced by them as you were writing your novel?

Well, certainly those old comic books. I still love collectible comic books from decades past! Also, I was (and still am) a big fan of The Twilight Zone. I always enjoyed the imaginative storytelling of that show and the important themes it explores. As for books, Ray Bradbury has always been a favorite—I love his writing style, his enthusiasm, his imagination. I used to read Stephen King a lot. It was a favorite of mine when I was a teenager. I think all writers are influenced by their favorite authors. As time goes on, though, you naturally develop your own style, perspective, and cultivate a voice and point of view that is uniquely your own.

8. What are you reading now?

Honestly, most of my reading is assigned! I do a lot of freelance proofreading work for a handful of book publishers. On average, I proofread thirty to forty books each year—which, unfortunately, doesn’t leave as much time as I’d like for pleasure reading. That said, when there is a book I really want to read, I will read it! I enjoy reading the work of indie and up-and-coming authors. I love the classics, and enjoy imaginative storytelling in all its many forms. In a nutshell, I love to read. Always have, always will.

9. Why did you decide to self publish? Are you pleased with the results?

I did query several agents, and a handful of publishers first, but, despite some interest, nothing ever worked out the way I would have liked. In the end, I decided to self-publish. I liked the idea of marketing the book myself, interacting directly with readers, setting the book’s selling price—just being in complete creative control of the entire process.

As for the results, that’s hard to say. I look at this as a long-term project, and I feel like the process has only just begun. I have had a great time interacting with readers and bloggers. That has been a joy. I suppose I will wait to claim success (or failure) for at least a couple of years. Until then, I will do my best to “get the word out” regarding The Eye-Dancers. A wonderful interview opportunity like this one certainly helps!

10. Do you have any other projects in the works for us to look forward to?

I am putting the finishing touches on a collection of three short stories that will be released later this summer. Also, I have just begun working on a sequel to The Eye-Dancers. It will be fun to delve back into that world again!

We hope you enjoyed our first author interview!  We had a lot of fun with this…perhaps more author interviews should be in our future?

An Important Theme in To Kill a Mockingbird

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Yep, we’re still working on To Kill a Mockingbird.  We’ve finished reading the book, but there’s so much more exploring to do!  Today, Grace finished up an essay on what she believes is the most important theme in the book.  Of course, there are several themes in To Kill a Mockingbird, but she had to choose just one.  Here’s what she had to say:

 

I think that stereotypes are the main theme in To Kill a Mockingbird because of how strongly they are used. People seem to have many stereotypes toward black people and women.

A stereotype is when you judge someone based solely on their appearance. If you looked at Scout, you would think that she is very boyish and wild. You would be starting a stereotype towards Scout. What you wouldn’t know is that Scout is very well-behaved because you didn’t get to know her. This shows that stereotypes cannot always be trusted.

One of the most common stereotypes in To Kill a Mockingbird is toward black people. This stereotype was obviously started by the white people. It is believed that black people are not as good as white people, just because their skin is a different color.

Another common stereotype in the book is toward women. This stereotype has been around before Maycomb, but it is highly believed them women should be “ladies.” This means that they should wear dresses, cook and clean, act respectful, and be completely polite in everything they do.

Even though people create and follow stereotypes all the time, they are not always true. “Boo” Radley, for instance, was believed to be a monster, figuratively and literally. But really, he was just a man who liked his privacy. This stereotype was most likely formed on the fact that “Boo” is so quiet, rarely coming out of his home.

Often stereotypes are untrue, but some have some sort of truth to them. For example, Aunt Alexandria is believed to be a lady just because she dresses like one. This is true, because her appearance reflects greatly on her personality.

Over all, I believe that stereotypes are a large part of To Kill a Mockingbird and reflect deeply on the people of the time. I also think that if there were no stereotypes, the book would be completely different. Stereotypes have proven that, even if they are sometimes wrong, they play a large part in people’s lives, then and now.

-Grace ❤

Adult Conversations

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Another assignment from To Kill a Mockingbird!  Grace’s assignment was to think about Scout being in the courtroom during some rather unsavory testimony and whether she agreed with Scout that children should hear adult conversations or if she agreed with some of the adults in the courtroom that children should not hear what the grown ups had to say.  This is her opinion on the situation…if you agree with her or not, I think she’s done a great job with one of her first opinion pieces. 🙂

 

Children should be allowed to listen to adult conversation, whatever the topic, because they will be adults themselves one day. I believe that the earlier children learn about life, the easier it will be to merge into adulthood. Some people believe that children should be shielded from things such as bad words and violence, and I agree with them to a point. I do not believe that children should not hear a single bad word or see anything that might have gore in it, but there are limits. For example, if someone says something that you don’t want your child to say, you could tell them not to repeat it.

 

I especially think that children should be told about things that will or might eventually happen to them. I’m not saying that you should let your four-year-old watch The Matrix, but I don’t think they should be protected from life. Some people might say that children wouldn’t even understand things like sex and cursing, so they shouldn’t be exposed to them. But I think that if a child wouldn’t understand something, how could it hurt them?

 

Overall, I think that children should be told about certain things and see certain things, such as how babies are made and financial decisions, because they will need to know when they get older. Please understand that this is only my opinion, and that I am not trying to force my beliefs onto anybody.

-Grace ❤

Character Analysis: “Scout” Jean Louise Finch

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Scout, the main character in To Kill a Mockingbird, is an adventurous young girl who is not like your typical lady. I think Scout is a good person, but sometimes lets her temper, and curiosity, get the best of her.

Scout is forthcoming and bold, saying what she means the first time. She cares about her family and friends deeply and will defend them in a fight. Because of her boldness, she sometimes loses her head when someone insults her family. You can see this when she chased her cousin who insulted Atticus. She also seems to stay consistent under pressure, keeping her head and thinking things through. Unfortunately, her love for her family is the only thing that causes her to lose her temper and act without thinking. For example, she attacks a man who insults Atticus when he stands up for Tom Robinson.

Scout is curious and brave; exploring Maycomb with her friends is one of her favorite activities. When she meets Dill, her best friend, she begins to learn about the Radley Place, making her more curious than ever. She, Dill, and Jem often try to get Boo, a “ghost” that lives in the Radley Place, to come out.

Unlike the other ladies of Maycomb, Scout is not very proper. She wears pants and plays in the dirt, causing the women to look down on her. She likes herself the way she is and has no intention of changing. This is a very important part of Scout’s character. It separates her from all the other people in Maycomb. When Aunt Alexandra tries to convince Scout to be a “lady”, she refuses.

Based on this information, I would say that Scout is a bold, caring person, thinking about her family before herself and willing to break the rules to do what’s right. I would like to have a friend like her, mainly because she would stick up for me.

-Grace ❤

The Week in Pictures

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Lots of fun was had this week!  So much fun, actually, that I had to hold back on the pictures. 🙂  Don’t worry…I’ll go into some of our activities in more detail throughout the week.

Ebola Virus

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This assignment was a little strange and only vaguely related to To Kill a Mockingbird, but I knew Grace would enjoy it, so I went ahead and let her have at it. 😉  There is an incident in To Kill a Mockingbird that involves a dog with rabies, so this assignment branched out a bit in that direction.  First we discussed rabies: how you get it, the treatment, the symptoms, etc.  Then Grace got to pick a disease from a list (oh boy!) for a little bit of research.  This was, of course, a rather short assignment, not a full-on research project, so I only required a couple of sources and a short write-up.  She went straight for Ebola, and this is what she found:

 

The Ebola virus is a contagious disease that originated in Africa, but has never infected a human in the United States. It it spread through direct contact of an infected organism or bite of an infected animal. Symptoms include vomiting, sore throat, stomach pain, dehydration, diarrhea, weakness, rash, dry, hacking cough, fever, muscle and joint pain, severe headache, internal and external bleeding, and hiccups.

Scientists do not know where exactly the virus came from, but suspect from some sort of animal host. There has been a report of infected monkeys imported from the Philippines for lab-work. Some of the researchers became infected, but showed no sign of the illness. Still, scientists suspect that the virus originated in primates similar to the monkeys. There is no vaccine nor cure for the virus, but scientists are working to find one.

 

 

 

 

Resources

http://ebola.emedtv.com/ebola-virus/the-ebola-virus.html

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6518

 

 

 

What Is a Hero?

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Grace is currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird and enjoying it.  One of her reading response questions asked what it means to be a hero.  Here’s Grace’s take on it – I, personally, think she’s nailed it…

My idea of a hero is someone who will stand up for others no matter what. That means they do not think they are more important than everyone else.  I think that someone who will stand up for what they believe in and not force their beliefs on other people is a hero as well.

Many people think that you have to have super powers and a really cool cape to be a hero, but you don’t. You can be a hero without even realizing it. In my mind, anyone who helps someone out or stands up to a bully is a hero.

I also believe that someone who tries to solve problems calmly is a hero. It may be hard to resist the urge to punch someone in the face (trust me, I know), but it can be done, even if that means apologizing to someone really annoying.

In short, I believe that anyone can be a hero whether they know it or not.

-Grace ❤

The Week (Or Two) In Pictures

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Fun with DNA!  Grace assisted in the creation of this model at the Science Center. :)

Fun with DNA! Grace assisted in the creation of this model at the Science Center. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Part of a rather interesting explanation of evergreens and sugar cycles at the Nature Center. ;)

Part of a rather interesting explanation of evergreens and sugar cycles at the Nature Center. 😉

More fun at the Nature Center.

More fun at the Nature Center.

A quick little water pressure demonstration.

A quick little water pressure demonstration.

One of many new reptile friends. :D

One of many new reptile friends. 😀

So pretty!

So pretty!

Snake snuggles. :D

Snake snuggles. 😀

Learning about evergreens.  (Actually, looking at me taking pictures when she should have been learning about evergreens. ;) )

Learning about evergreens. (Actually, looking at me taking pictures when she should have been learning about evergreens. 😉 )

Trying some white pine tea. (Nature Center)

Trying some white pine tea. (Nature Center)

Using some problem solving skills to use a 24" string to measure out exactly 18".

Using some problem solving skills to use a 24″ string to measure out exactly 18″.

"Volunteering" looks a bit more like reading and eating.  The folks at the Literacy Council are good to us. :D

“Volunteering” looks a bit more like reading and eating. The folks at the Literacy Council are good to us. 😀

Preparing for a science experiment...balloons + yeast + sugar = fun. ;)

Preparing for a science experiment…balloons + yeast + sugar = fun. 😉

A yeasty balloon success!

A yeasty balloon success!

Happy Halloween!

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We are having a pretty laid back day for Halloween, but we have had some educational, spooky fun. 😉

We started our day with reading some Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems.  Then Grace read about zombies and other spooky topics in Muse magazine.  (Thanks to Amy and crew at Turning Over a New Leaf!)

It’s important to brush up on your zombie knowledge at every opportunity! 😉

Of course, the real fun was on Monday with our pumpkin carving.  We planned our pumpkin in our traditional way, but Daddy let Grace play a way bigger part in creating a template and carving.

We always start our carving ritual with each of us drawing a face for our pumpkin.

 

Then we take a family vote on best eyes, nose, and mouth.

 

Then…presto, whammo! We have a jack-o-lantern. 😀

 

All of the “Grace carving” and “Grace cleaning a pumpkin” pictures are currently on her Daddy’s phone…I’ll be sharing those this weekend in “The Week in Pictures.”  Until then, amuse yourself with this bit of artwork Grace created from the Halloween candy:

Happy Halloween!!!  We hope everyone has a super-fun and safe night!

 

 

Signed Copy of The Mark of Athena Giveaway

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When we went to see Rick Riordan speak, Grace and I ended up with an extra signed copy of The Mark of Athena.  We would love to give the extra book to one of our blog readers, but we want to be fair, so we decided on a simple contest/giveaway.

“How do I enter?!?!” you’re all screaming.  Well, it’s easy.  Read the riddle below and leave a comment with your answer.  The winner will be chosen randomly from the correct responses.  We will accept responses here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

The winner will be chosen next Friday (October 19th, 2012) at 2:00 in the afternoon.

Here’s the riddle:

They follow and lead, but only as you pass.
Dress yourself in darkest black,
And they are darker still.
Always they flee the light,
Though without the sun there would be none.
Good luck!
-Emily and Grace