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text 2016-10-12 14:15
The Eagle Tree: featured in Amazon Transformations

Ned Hayes wrote a novel so far outside his comfort zone that he wondered if anyone would enjoy it. Kindle Scout readers answered with a resounding "yes."

 

New characters often visit novelist Ned Hayes uninvited, so it wasn't all that strange a few years back when the voice of a fictional teenage boy kept percolating in the back of his mind. Then things got more intense: "A friend of mine took me to this amazing old-growth tree, and the first lines of the story, where the boy saw the Eagle Tree and wanted to climb it, just rose up in me. I had to write the story down. I felt kind of carried away by a rushing stream, and I didn't know where it was really taking me."


I felt like I'd given someone a voice who didn't have one.
--- novelist Ned Hayes

The rushing stream carried Ned to The Eagle Tree, a novel unlike anything he'd ever written. He was a published author of historical fiction, and – even though writing novels wasn't his full-time job, and his books had never reached massive numbers of readers – his work had earned him representation by an established literary agent. But far from being the historical fiction the agent expected, The Eagle Tree was set in modern times, and that percolating voice in Ned's head turned out to belong to a teenage boy diagnosed with autism. In the novel, young March Wong climbs dangerously high into Washington's forests to chase his passion for learning all about trees.

 

"When I first gave the manuscript to my agent, she read it through and said, 'Well, this is a really different kind of book, and I'm not sure I can sell this.'," Ned says.

 

Ned didn't push. He had his own doubts. "I was concerned that maybe it was a book that I had written just for my own pleasure and that I would be the only reader that really enjoyed it."

 

Ned knew a way to test whether the novel would ever speak to anyone but him. As a reader, he'd been participating in Kindle Scout, where authors can submit their never-before-published books. Readers see excerpts from each book, and they can nominate their favorites to receive a publishing contract from Amazon. Ned submitted The Eagle Tree and waited to see if anyone would nominate it. He was about to be carried away by another rushing stream.

 

"One of the earliest comments I received," Ned starts to say, surprising himself by choking up, "was from somebody who had a family member who was on the autism spectrum. They said that this book gave them insight into their family member in a way that they never expected, and it changed their entire relationship. And I just felt really moved by that. Because I felt like I'd given someone a voice who didn't have one."

The response from Scout users was overwhelming. The Kindle Scout team also saw serious potential in Ned’s work and shared his manuscript with Carmen Johnson, an editor at Amazon Publishing’s Little A imprint. Carmen loved it. She worked with Ned to release Kindle, paperback, and audiobook versions of The Eagle Tree. Thinking back to the exciting weeks when everything came together, Ned says, "Amazon really ended up opening a huge number of doors for me."

 

More than 75,000 readers later, the character of March Wong continues to connect with people. Steve Silberman, whose NeuroTribes appeared on many of the most prestigious lists of the best books of 2015, praised Ned's "gorgeously written" book for featuring "one of the most accurate, finely drawn and memorable autistic protagonists I've come across in literature."

 

The success of The Eagle Tree has opened new doors for Ned. He’s collaborating with fellow artists on a graphic novel and an independent film based on the book. He’s also using the bulk of his book royalties to launch OLY ARTS, an arts and culture magazine with print, online, and mobile app editions.

 

He says he wants to "spread the word about the wonderful artists, actors, writers and musicians in the Olympia area who don't have the megaphone they need to earn a living wage for the amazing work they do."

 

The first OLY ARTS issue's 10,000 copies were supposed to last 12 weeks. "It sold out in two-and-a-half weeks flat," Ned says beaming. "So there's a lot of interest and excitement, and it's fantastic to know that readers of The Eagle Tree made this all possible."

 

MORE ABOUT THE EAGLE TREE >>

Amazon Transformations story >> 

 

 

Source: www.amazon.com/p/feature/xetsjgwygkj48jk
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photo 2016-09-26 19:27
The Eagle Tree - Ned Hayes
 
By Keri Anne Griffithon September 25, 2016
 
As an autistic mother to an autistic child, a poet, and an environmental advocate, this book will be important to me for a long time. It moved me to tears. I laughed. And I was ravenously hooked in after a few chapters while whole-heartedly rooting for March and his family.

March is such a strong, determined, passionate young man. I really appreciated reading a story about an autistic protagonist who has depth, nuance, insight, intelligence, and dynamism. He was not dehumanized or belittled. I sensed authentic compassion between the lines of this book that never struck me as misplaced pity and instead struck me more as an attempt at genuine acceptance. The significant characters wanted to see March be his truest self while balancing the need to navigate with March the sometimes harsh realities of the neurotypical world to help March in achieving his own goals.

March and his family were easy to love and also imperfect people who had their own growing yet to do. I enjoyed learning more about the Pacific Northwest and our ecosystem, especially with March as my teacher and guide. I am grateful to have connected to an autistic protagonist whose impairments were significant, whose gifts were hard for him to share, and whose flapping and stimming were an ever present part of how he moved in time and space. Too many people do not yet know how very much autistic people have to offer the world. How excellent if this book chips away at that unfortunate ignorance. Diversity is key with forests and with human kind.

I hope one day to give this book to my son so that it might encourage him to follow his passions brazenly and so that it might serve as an emblem that growth is a constant and life is full of cycles.
Source: www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3H9LW5UFM07IX/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B01BVD40HS
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text 2016-08-31 16:23
How We Write Clergy
(originally published by Elsa Cook on her blogPUBLISHED ON August 24, 2016


I am a character in a book.


I learned of this news from a Facebook message. A member of the community had written a book and he wanted to know if it was alright to name the church in the book. That wasn’t my call anymore. I was no longer the pastor there, except that I was in the book.

 

While I was still in ministry in that place, I had had coffee with Ned Hayes many times. He was someone who came to worship on occasion. It was always clear to me that he was seeking something. He was incredibly well read. He’d read all kinds of theology and had even gone to seminary but there was still something he was looking for. I did not know in the middle of writing another book and that I would end up being a character. Of course, I said yes. By all means, print it. Publish it! I can’t wait to read how those cups of coffee and mornings in church translate into a character like Pastor Ilsa.

 

See what he did there? He changed the name by one letter. No doubt he was trying to avoid the connection to Disney’s Frozen that I cannot quite escape. Smart move. I borrowed a copy from my goddaughter and started to read at the pool.

 

14045951_1068662506550170_8991399356609680619_n.jpg

 

Eagle Tree is the story of a boy growing up in Olympia. He is a boy that is somewhere on the spectrum of autism and it is his voice that leads the reader through the journey of saving this tree in the LBA Woods. When I lived in Olympia, there were signs all over town to save this particular park. This is the fictional story of how that park is saved from the hands of developers by this boy named March who sometimes goes to church at the United Churches of Olympia. Church is a confusing place for March. It is a place where the pastor tells strange stories that are true, but not factually true.

 

This is how Pastor Ilsa is introduced. His mother drags him to church and March offers this narration:

Ilsa says she likes to talk about God because she cannot
entirely understand God, but that is not how I feel at all.
I need to understand things all the way down to the root
.

 

Though Ned denies it, this could have been a note he jotted down while we were having coffee. This is totally something I would say. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I did say something exactly like this. There are, however, other things that don’t line up about me. It is fiction, after all. Pastor Ilsa is married to a professor at the local college by the name of Pierre. His name sounds equally exotic to my husband’s name but their careers are totally different. Ilsa was also a botanist before she came into ministry. There was some kind of accident that shifted her focus. Again, this is not me but makes for a good character. Most surprising to me: Ilsa is old. He husband has grey in his beard. This is not a young pastor.

 

For this, I am admittedly sad. Clergy are so often imagined to be sage and wise because of their many years. It somehow makes them approachable.

 

I’m not complaining. Not exactly. I’m just interested in how we write clergy. I’m interested in how clergy are portrayed in the media. Consider AMC’s Preacher for example. This is nothing like the pastor that Ned Hayes writes.

 

Ned portrays someone far less of a bad ass, though she is a police chaplain which I thought was pretty cool. Maybe because Ned isn’t worried about ratings or sensationalism that television seems to require or maybe because he sees that there is something that good that does happen in church. And he thinks that clergy are a part of that.

 

The pastor he writes is approachable and caring. She has an incredible bond with March. She is able to get on his level and welcome him as a full child of God. I can only pray that I do this every day in my ministry, then and now. It is really what I hope not just for clergy but for all Christians.

 

Ultimately, this is not a book about Christians or even clergy. It’s a book about connections. It’s a book about how we relate to each other and how we relate to the world around us. No matter what separates and divides, we can come together to do good. We can change the world around us. We can make a difference.

 

I am not in the least bit surprised that this is Ned’s heart or that he still sometimes worships with this brave group of people in Olympia that shares the same hope.

 

Source: cookingwithelsa.org/2016/08/24/how-we-write-clergy
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text 2016-08-19 03:06
Book Review: The Eagle Tree
(Thanks to luvtoread for the thoughtful review)

 

Book Review: The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes

 

TheEagleTreeCoverSynopsis: Set in Olympia, Washington, Peter “March” Wong is a fourteen-year-old autistic boy who lives with his mother. He loves trees and loves to climb them. He sees a giant Ponderosa Pine called The Eagle Tree and dreams of climbing it.

 

Review: This was an illuminating, but slow, read. I almost set it aside, but pushed through and I’m very glad that I read it, as I feel this is a book I will continue to think about.

 

The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes is a very sweet book that I discovered by surfing Amazon one evening. I was drawn to the cover and the interesting sounding synopsis, and it was a very unique read.

 

Told entirely from the point of view of Peter “March” Wong, March is an autistic boy who loves to climb trees and learn about them. March is single-minded about the trees, and it was interesting to get inside his head and hear his perspective about other people and why he reacts in certain ways, and why he loves trees and climbing them.

 


“The Eagle Tree was like a lighthouse to me, a beacon of hope, a sign of great life that towers over everything. It drew me in, saying, Climb me, climb me. Trees like this keep me oriented in a storm of things I do not understand.”


 

Once I got over my panic at the thought of a fourteen-year-old boy climbing trees (and big trees!) constantly, most of the time without supervision, I was able to settle into the story.

Set in Olympia, Washington, the trees are all around, and are characters in their own way. Each tree is different, with different features, and March explains them all, which can be very dry at times. So dry, that I almost had to set the book aside. But I continued on because I wanted to know if March would ever climb his beloved Eagle Tree.

 

Once March spies the Eagle Tree, he fixates on being able to climb it, and must overcome obstacles to get close to his tree. Obstacles include his mother, his uncle, the fact that the tree is now on private property and is slated to be bulldozed for a new development, and the state potentially taking March away from his mother.

 

There is a lot of tree science in the book, and there is also a lot of talk about climate change (seriously – if you know someone who doesn’t believe global warming is real, this book might change their mind). Sometimes all of this science stuff just made my eyes glaze over, but other times it was fascinating, especially when it talked of various reasons the beetle populations are so large now and how that impacts trees, and also humans. It’s actually quite scary.

 


“What action can you take to influence the world? What can you do that doesn’t hurt you or the people around you? What can you do that takes all that powerful energy you have and does good in the world?”


 

There are several interesting characters in The Eagle Tree, from March’s hardworking and patient mother, Janet Wong, to March’s kind and understanding uncle, Mike Washington. There are also great characters I wanted to know more about: Maria Elliot, a Nisqually lady who works for the Environmental Defense Council in Olympia, and March’s classmates, Stig, and Sarah.

 

Since March is autistic, it was absolutely fascinating and illuminating to me to be able to see what goes through his mind. Reading how sounds and lights impact March and why he interacts with people the way he does was very insightful. The author, Ned Hayes, has worked with children on the autistic spectrum, and this shows in the writing. I thought this aspect of the book was very well done.

 

There was a part at the end of the book that I got very emotional over, because this book called to mind my great-grandfather, who was a logger and high climber in the PNW. Having just lost my grandfather, his son, this June, I really felt this book in a different way most readers would, as I’ve recently gone through a bunch of the old logging photos and I can understand the allure of climbing trees and how brave someone is who climbs them.

 


“Nature is God’s vast palette, and through it I believe that we can see fingerprints of grace everywhere we look.”


 

So because of my personal attachment to parts of the plot, and due to the fascinating insight into someone with autism, this is a book that will stay with me for a while, and will be one I continue to think about. This would be a good discussion book, but some may have a hard time getting through the drier sections.

 

Bottom Line: Wonderful insight into autism. Very dry in parts, but it has a lot of heart and spotlights timely issues.

 

Links to The Eagle Tree on   Amazon  and   Goodreads

 

Have you read The Eagle Tree? What are your thoughts? Do you know of any other books with autistic characters? Any other books that tackle global warming?

Source: luvtoread.com/2016/08/15/book-review-the-eagle-tree-by-ned-hayes
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photo 2016-07-20 09:29

New York Times bestselling author Steve Silberman on THE EAGLE TREE

"The Eagle Tree is a gorgeously written novel that features one of the most accurate, finely drawn and memorable autistic protagonists in literature. The hero of the book is like a 14-year-old Walt Whitman with autism, seeking communion with the ancient magnificent beings that tower over the landscape around Olympia, Washington. Ned Hayes plays with the conventions of the unreliable narrator so that you end up feeling like March is a very reliable narrator of glorious and terrifying aspects of the world that neurotypicals can’t see. Credible, authentic, powerful. A must-read.”

– Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.

Source: theeagletree.com
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