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Friday, August 15, 2014

Congratulations, Mike!

My homage to author-friend, Mike Dunne, originally appeared in Scribblings Dec 29 2013. 

Once upon a Wednesday, I hurried into the local Panera's bakery-restaurant to meet  with my local authors manuscript review group. Frankly, I was a bit of a mess both inside and outside. Half-asleep and a touch grumpy. Dressed like a frump, having dressed in haste. Worrying that my hurried reviews may not have done justice to my fellow authors' submissions.

Those who arrived before me were parked at the front window. (Damage to fenders & glass was minimal.) They had already added another four-person table to the original tables, and they were chatting about books, readings & writing while waiting for late comers. Everything was as it should be. With one exception. A man, definitely not a group member, was sitting with his back to me as I approached. He was intent on whatever he was doing on his laptop and seemingly oblivious to the people rapidly filling up spaces at the doubled table. Was he so engrossed in his work, he hadn't noticed them? Us. Or was he fully aware of us and stubbornly hanging on to his spot because he had arrived first?

Mike turned toward me. I knew who he was at once even without the chorus of gleeful voices from the other authors. After all, he looked just like his picture...

The soccer goal?  Wedged between his end of the table and the nearest window.

The other members assured us that they could get along without me for a few minutes. Mike and I took advantage of those precious minutes catching up as swiftly as we could, chiefly with stuph we had never been able to wedge into our emails. Mike also solved the mystery of his unexpected appearance. He sometimes traveled north from the home office to update the more far-flung employees with the latest changes in tech. MD has neither confirmed nor denied his role (if any) in flanging employees from the deep south to the Mid-Atlantic states so he'd have an e/x/c/u/s/e duty to head north.

This time, they sent him out in our general direction. Yippee! While he was with us but not in Panera's, Mike had a chance to take in a local soccer match. I assume the players welcomed him, since he was carrying around one of their goals.

We've never had a second chance to meet. Mike consistently works well over 40 hours a week at just one job, and at one time he had a hugely long commute right on out of his state to reach his job. As for me, I don't travel well anymore not unlike r/i/p/e/ c/h/e/e/s/e  a creme brule souffle. I treasure our few minutes even more, and I believe Mike does as well.

Mike Dunne and I have been writer-friends for about twelve years now. So far as I can remember, we met at the "Critters" site created by Aburt as a place for authors to exchange crits of their works. I joined the Critters Writers Workshop not long before retiring from the university. I'm not sure when Mike became a member but by 2002 Mike had already critted a half dozen chapters of Seabird.

Mike, help! Correct me if I'm wrong in any of this! My brain is slowly altering into r/i/p/e/ c/h/e/e/s/e.  Yeah, yeah, overripe cheese.

MD is one of the hardest-working Christian writers that I've ever met. He's also a caring husband (wife Nance), caring dad (sons Conor and Shane), and caring puppy stepdad (white German shepherd, Abby). Mike also cares greatly about the welfare of the people of Haiti. If I remember correctly, as part of various church group teams, Mike has labored to make at least a few things right in Haiti four times now. While there, he and the teams to which he's belonged offer their help in any way they can.

In one of his Haiti blog entries, he mentioned being teamed with others to work on a stubbornly non-functioning vehicle. None of them were auto mechanics but they did their best together.

Reading about their challenge reminded me of a "The Hitchhiker's Guide" conversation. Three of the main characters have just "strolled off with" the Formula One equivalent of a spaceship. The conversation goes, "Can you fly this?  No.   Can you?  No.   How about you?  No.   Great! We'll do it together!"  And they did! In Haiti that is.  Not so much the HHG characters.

Whether at home, work, church, or in Haiti Mike evidently believes that 12 hour work days can't hold all the work that needs doing, so he tops off the days and weeks with fiction-writing, blog-writing, review-writing, freelance technical-writing, Sunday School teaching, serving as sous chef to his wife Nance and ever-vigilant & caring father to Shane & Conor. Oh and playmate to Abby of course. And ...maybe...plumber.

For an extra added challenge this mid-December, Mike battled a fearsome cold sometimes out on the streets of Harvest Alabama, but mostly at home. The cold, or the cough anyway, may have developed from cheering for Manchester United. Or acting out all the characters' lines from the latest New Kingdoms
 scenes, before keying them in.

More about "New Kingdoms" in a bit.

Back when our friendship was young--and neither of us were published--Mike was writing what would be his first "lightly-published" story, "The Fire of Iblis". Mike Dunne worked in Dubai and other Middle Eastern, African & European countries for about 12 years. Actually, he and his wife met in a not-the-US country. Beats me which one right now. During part of that time, he learned about pre-Islamic Middle Eastern culture. "The Fire of Iblis" reflects his knowledge accumulated over a decade. He plans to write a series of stories similar to Iblis. Each one will echo the ancient culture of the region but all will be set in--how shall I say this--Mike's fantasy universe of a newly imagined ancient Persia? I hope that's close!

Recently Iblis became Mike's first PUBLISHED story, revised but still named "The Fire of Iblis" and now to be found in  Someone Wicked, a PG13-ish horror anthology produced by Weldon Burge's newish fiction publishing company, Smart Rhino.  Go here to read Mike Dunne's Smart Rhino "bio page".

Midway between the two publication dates for "Iblis" (2003 & 2013), my fantasy novel "Seabird" came out. Mike kindly offered a blurb for its back cover. He mentioned the lightly-published version his story at the end of his blub, I suspect to give himself author street cred in the eyes of the casual reader. Given the plot of "The Fire of Iblis", plus the gripping (and slightly gruesome) early chapters of "Night's Edge", Mike had already made his literary bones.

I look forward to the day successive volumes of his New Kingdoms fantasy series--Night's Edge, Dawn's Light and Sunset's Fire--begin to appear on Amazon, B & N, Smashwords, or wherever else he and his publisher choose to place it.

(Hm. Sunset's Fire. Fire of Iblis. The fiery prologue of Night's Edge. What is it with Mike and fire?)

Nevermind! Let's move along to Mike Dunne's own blog and website URLs. Please take the time to visit them!

Mike's original blog
Stream of Consciousness: Writing, random thoughts, football (soccer)& more..
His current focus here are reviews of other stories in the Someone Wicked anthology. In the past, sports and faith have been common subjects. I used to be mentioned in August but I went away.   :-( 

A few months ago, his Haiti Diary entries took over.
Beginning with
and ending here:
 Those were 2013.  Mike's URL for his 2014 Haiti mission. begins here.

Mike Dunne in Haiti October 2010

Be sure to check out a second picture taken in Haiti, at:

Mike created a new website the past six months, more or less.

Welcome to Michael Dunne Writes!
“Thank you for visiting my web home. Here you will find information on
my published works, notes on upcoming projects, and informative blogs and reviews. “

(Me:  This site has pages for New Kingdoms, a wip short story "Night of the Assassins" and another book review or two. With regard to the "Night of the Assassins" page, here we discover that Mike’s pre-Islam Arabian story, “Fire of Iblis” was only the first of many! Yippee!
(To Mike: Do I remember another "Arabian" story that takes place in a secret passage like the kind within pyramids? If there is no such story, please write it! Yes. Now.)

I've never interviewed Mike, unless the brief visit at Panera's counts.
Here* instead is a pseudo-interview based on stuph Mike wrote for Forbes (Dec 11 2013).

What I'm Currently Addicted To...
This Is Helping Me Create...
     Collaborating with other authors.
Can't Do Without
     God, family, writing, music...and money helps too.
My Secret Ambition
     Quit my day job and make a living writing.
I'm Known For...
     ...being a great writer, teacher, and speaker.
My Current Project
     Night's Edge - book 1 of New Kingdoms.  Night of the Assassins - short story
My Greatest Achievement
     Achievements do not make one great.
My Biggest Regret
     Not listening to my high school English teacher.
Where I'd Like To Be 10 Years From Now
     Standing in the middle of Alamut or Petra researching a novel.

* The pseudo-interview will stay here until either Forbes or Mike tell me to cease and desist.

"I may not always be right, but I always write."--Mike Dunne

Shh! Secret postscript!

Mike would never do this but that doesn’t stop me! (You may have noticed?)
Mike may always write but he does more than write fiction. 
Go to his website, “Mike Dunne – Writes”

"In addition to my creative writing pursuits, I offer a number of professional, freelance writing services:

 - Proofreading
 - Technical Writing
 - Creative Writing

After reviewing my qualifications and the service descriptions & fees, please let me know how I can help you. If you have a manuscript that requires proofreading, a project proposal for creative or technical writing, or just want to drop me a line, I'll be glad to hear from you!"

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