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  • Michael Dunne

Looking Behind; Gazing Ahead

Desert Sunset (Creative Commons)

(Originally published 12/30/2016) If you read my Haiti blogs, it won't be long before you come across the Haitian proverb: Dèyè mòn gen mòn. In short, this proverb reflects a stark truth about life in Haiti: beyond the mountains, more mountains. 2016 contained its share of mountain peaks and valleys. I try my best to find lessons embedded in each of those situations. This blog highlights a few of the mountaintops I was fortunate to walk upon this year.

On the surface, the desert is an inhospitable place. During the day, the heat is hardly bearable and can be deadly to the unprepared. However, after ten years lived in the Middle East, I developed a deep love of the desert. I recognized that where some see a stark, unlivable environment, there exists beauty found nowhere else on Earth. The image above captures an endless ocean of sand at sunset. The end of one day and beginning of the next are bookends in the desert; parenthetically enclosing one of the true wonders of our world: Arabian nights. I've camped in the desert under a full moon whose gleam is so bright it's hard to sleep. It's difficult to describe just how brightly the moon and stars shine in the dark, desert sky. Away from civilization, there is a pureness one experiences, a clarity of eye and thought seldom found in the presence of humanity.

Sand Dunes at Night (Creative Commons)

2016 had its share of parched earth and thirsty moments. Many of them of my own, unwitting design. In fact, you might know of them . . . if I were a more prolific blogger. I suppose I'm enough of a twentieth century man that I want to keep my private life private. At the same time, I'm enough of a twenty-first century man to realize that sharing isn't necessarily a cardinal sin (at least in moderation).

2016 also contained a number of successes in the writing and proofreading/editing realms. Probably top of the list on the professional side is the opportunity to complete two editing projects for Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of One Stop For Writers fame. These fine folks saw fit to invite me to work on two of their growing library of writing thesauri:The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Places and The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces.

I know there are seemingly no end of websites et al out there for writers. In my opinion, if you fancy yourself as any sort of writer, you owe it to yourself to visit One Stop For Writers and the related site, Writers Helping Writers. Angela and Becca have done a phenomenal job compiling a treasure trove of resources that will speed you on your way to success.

I was also excited to continue my relationship with author and publisher David Wood. I completed proofreading projects on two of David's Dane Maddock Universe titles this year: The Book of Bones and Justice.

On the publication front, 2016 was a sparse year for me. I have continued to make progress (albeit slow) with Book One of New Kingdoms. Night's Edge now boasts @ 73,000 words. However, there is still quite a bit to go. Yet, there is renewed urgency to complete this work, with my editor, Carson Buckingham, waiting patiently to receive the manuscript. In turn, while you are waiting for Night's Edge to be published, I highly recommend Carson's book Home.

I've also been working on my novella Villainy, which features the fictional English highwayman Richard Winthrop. Villainy is nearly complete and should join Night's Edge in publication during 2017.Several other projects are also in various states of being, so all in all, the new year is looking quite promising on the story horizon.

What do the road signs like for 2017? It's not that I believe every self-help tidbit of advice I read on the Internet but, even the late actor and senator, Fred Thompson, believed in plans, right? After all, he said it in the film The Hunt For Red October, "The Russians don't take a dump, son, without a plan."

Sounds like reasonable advice.I'm going to throw caution to the wind and make public (at least part of) my master plan for 2017 success. In no particular order of priority (but potentially in the order each task may occur):

  1. Complete the Full Course on How to Write a Book in Scrivener taught by Karen Prince

  2. Read Author 2.0 Blueprint by Joanna Penn

  3. Complete Night's Edge

  4. Send Night's Edge to my editor

  5. Publish Night's Edge (this one has a number of sub-tasks, depending on whether I go the traditional or self-publishing route)

  6. Complete and self-publish Villainy

  7. Develop marketing and promotional plans for all works in my portfolio

  8. Secure at least four proofreading/editing projects (one per quarter)

  9. Co-author a novel in the Dane Maddock universe (thanks to Dane now being a part of Kindle Worlds)

  10. Return to Haiti

Is that it?

Hardly. Number ten alone will keep me busy most of the year all by itself, as will my full-time, corporate day job. Then there's family and other important commitments. But, that's why I need a plan. In fact, each item of the to-do list above will have a date assigned to it (I'm just not showing you, that's all). Because, as we all know: A goal without a date is just a dream.

May you all enjoy a healthy, happy and productive 2017!


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