I won’t grow up’

Author Mike Blumer, May Township, who writes under the name J. Michael Blumer, has created a fantasy world with fantasy characters who do fantastical things.

Jan 29, 2008 - 09:09:01 CST.

Story by Jackie Dubbe

MAY TOWNSHIP — So, what would you do if you had to get somewhere far away fast?

Well, you'd summon a journeywind, of course.

Or maybe you'd go to sleep and dream-slip.

And when you arrived at your destination, it might be Gabendoor, where you'd meet up with wizards or the triplets — Molly Folly, Nelly Never and Tillie Truly Sallyforth, delightful siblings with their own form of broken English. Tillie Truly always tells the truth, and Nellie Never never does.





Mike Blumer of May Township is the author of The Secret Books of Gabendoor series, in which his main characters, Windslow and his stepsister, Hillary, dream-slip travel to Gabendoor.

Both Windslow and Hillary are 13 years old. They became step-siblings when his father married her mother. Because of an accident, Windslow is in a wheelchair. His being differently-abled and the kids' step-sibling relationship adds a refreshing dynamic to these pre-teen/teen fantasy novels.

Blumer has spent much of his life as a bit of a scamp "in his own world."

"I'm the only person I know who was suspended from kindergarten," says Blumer. "I love doing art, and one time, when it was time for a nap, I went out the window and did art all afternoon until I was found by the police."

Then there was the time in fourth grade when he was banned from the playground because he had lassoed a bully and hog-tied him on the playground with a jump rope.

He remembers his mother sitting him down when he was about 9 years old and saying, "Michael, you're the kind of little boy I don't want you to play with."

Blumer says it was worth being banned from the playground because he got to spend playground time inside painting with Mrs. Wold, and that turned him around.

"I had too much energy and creativity," says Blumer.

‘In sixth grade, Mrs. Rice assigned us to write an opening to a short story. It was the best homework ever," he says. Blumer wrote and rewrote and rewrote again and then turned in his assignment. "She gave me an F. She said I had plagiarized," he says. It wasn't until he returned from home carrying all his revisions that Mrs. Rice changed his F to an A.

Blumer calls himself an avid reader. He's loved books like "The Pearl," "The Old Man and the Sea," "Treasure Island" and "20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." He read "War and Peace" at age 14, and as a teen did an oral book report on "All Quiet on the Western Front."

"Complexities of characters fascinated me," says Blumer.

As a young man, he considered writing careers, so he started college in a creative writing program. When he had to write a piece about a true-life experience, he wrote about an adventure he and a friend had at Pine Tree Orchard when they were eventually chased off by the police. He got another F when his professor said Blumer's writing was fiction.

He dropped out of the creative writing program and moved to the business and psychology programs. He spent 1970-71 in the Army, married and then went to work in sales and marketing with Northwestern Bell, which became Qwest. After a career with Qwest, he was offered a buyout or a position in Portland.

"My grown kids called me a hypocrite," he says. "They said ‘Would-n't this be a good time to be a writer?

You always said you wanted to do that'." (These are the same kids who had dubbed him an "alternative life form" because of his creative child rearing techniques — such as making them sing their arguments.)


Blumer started selling cars so he wouldn't have to take work home, and he began writing.

He joined an Internet online writing group that wrote "Lord of the Rings"-type fantasy for adults. His venture back into writing began with an adult fantasy series he intends to finish after the Secret Books of Gabendoor series. "The story I was developing had 500,000 words, so I knew it was at least a trilogy," says Blumer.

In the adult fantasy, he has an alter ego, Mike the janitor, custodian of a virtual pub on the Internet called the Serendip. It's a place where characters hang out to discuss and gossip about their authors. Mike the janitor "… ain't one of them uppity writer types." He simply takes care of the pub, living in the cellar with a few bats as companions and feeds the unnamed dragon that doubles as the Serendip's mascot and part-time bouncer.

One sixth grade teacher in Blumer's online writing group asked if anyone had a chapter that her students could critique. "I thought I could have fun with this," says Blumer. "When your goal is to get an F, it's a throwaway.

"I decided to have a wizard come to Earth from someplace. So, a journeywind burps out three wizards. The writers group loved it and wanted a second chapter. I wrote the whole book not knowing what was going to happen," he says.

"I set aside the books of writing rules and went on my own," he says, "and I was published by mistake."

He had submitted "The Book of Second Chances" to a publishing company that did books in a series. About six months later, he got a letter from them suggesting a possible book contract: "Please call."

When he called, he was asked what the name of the second book was.

He had to think fast, "Uh, ‘The Book of Broken Promises'."

"And the third book?"

"Uh, ‘The Book of Twisted Truths'."

"What's the name of the series?"

"Uh, The Secret Books of Gabendoor."

They sent him a contract in the mail.

"I had to quick write down the titles before I forgot them," says Blumer.
He felt lucky, "Point 03 percent of submitted manuscripts are published," he says. "And there's a lot of work after publishing.

"As a fantasy or science fiction writer, we're looked at as second cousins by the kind of group that rejected Harry Potter," says Blumer, "yet many classics are fantasy and science fiction.

"You have to decide if you're going to write to the market — there is the business side of it," he says.

"Kids started saying things like, ‘I hope Hillary will ..., Windslow will ..., the Sallyforth sisters will ...,'" he says, "so, I started writing for fans."

Plot development falls into basically two categories, he explains. At one end are the outliners who have set out the whole book before they begin writing. At the other end are the organic writers.

"I'm an organic writer," says Blumer. "I never know what's going to happen, and that's so much fun because I get to experience a story as it develops. I love discovering the story as it unfolds, but I envy outliners and how reassuring that must be."

He says he uses wordplay to discover the names of his characters — names like Fistlock and Haggerwolf and Larkstone.

"My mind is always in my imagination," he says. "Sometimes I regret that my brain has to take time to deal with reality."

Blumer speaks about the passion of writing with groups of both adults and children.

"I love talking with kids in schools. I've always been a 2-year-old. I never grew up," he says. "Luckily, I was smart enough to marry a second grade teacher who knows how to handle me."

Blumer's books can be ordered complete with study guides, posters, trading cards and dream-slip bracelet bands.

He's built props to take into classrooms when he talks with students. "I'm a teacher at heart," he says. For example, he built a "Magic Book of Second Chances" that lights up and glass jewels flash.

"I tell kids to keep the passion (for writing), that it comes from you — cling to that," he says.

Editor's Note: Teachers who would like Mike Blumer to visit with or work with their classes, can contact him at:

jmblumer [at] gabendoor.com.


Author visits middle school book club

Jesse Alderman, a 12-year-old Faribault Middle School sixth-grader, looks through an original manuscript from author J. Michael Blumer. Blumer visited Jesse and other students during the school’s book club. (Corey Butler Jr./Daily News)


FARIBAULT — An author of a book can sometimes seem as fictitious as the things they write about. But for 20 Faribault Middle School students, reality struck on Wednesday. Minnesota author J. Michael Blumer visited with the sixth-grade reading club to cap off a year of reading, discussing and expanding the imaginative mind. 


“It’s pretty cool,” said 12-year-old Jesse Alderman. 


Blumer is the author of the “Secret Books of Gabendoor,” a three-book series that continues to expand. He talked about his experiences with writing throughout his life and how he came to writing the series. He told the students he has always enjoyed writing.


“There’s no pressure to my writing — just have fun,” he told the students, describing the ability to craft your own world. “You can go deeper. As a writer, you can do that.”


Blumer said he has always been an imaginative person and described himself as an “organic” writer, telling the kids he can develop ideas and work with them within his fantasy world of Gabendoor. He said while that may not be the genre of choice of budding wordsmiths, they should go with their instinct.


“Write the story that’s inside you,” he told the students. “Write what you want.”


Jesse, who has read a book from Blumer’s series, said he’s not so much a writer, but rather a reading enthusiast.


“I like reading,” he said following Blumer’s presentation. “It’s like TV in your head.”


But for those interested in writing, Blumer said it’s a difficult path to publication. He told the students not to let that deter them. “If you don’t get in line, you can’t get published,” he said.


FMS sixth-grade language arts teacher Vicky Hubert said ending book club with a visit from an author was a great sendoff for the sixth-graders. In its second year, she said the monthly after-school group will continue next year to allow students to harness their interest in reading. She said they meet every two weeks or so and read parts of three books, discussing them, and then finishing them before the next meeting, where they discuss the second halves of the books.


“It’s just like an adult book club,” she said.

Minnesota Children’s author

J. Michael Blumer spoke to Sun Path students Dec. 5 about his new book, "The Book of Second Chances," and his writing career. In the photo at left, Blumer tosses a prize to a student for asking a question.

According to the Children’s Literature Network, he began writing in high school, jotting down his muses and thoughts in simple journals. His life took him into the corporate world. After many years he turned back to writing thanks to encouragement from his family. His children had dubbed him an "alternative life form" because of his creative child rearing techniques such as making his sons sing their arguments.

His venture back into writing began with an adult fantasy series he intends to finish after the "Secret Books of Gabendoor." He has an alter ego, Mike the janitor, custodian of a virtual pub on the Internet called the Serendip. It’s a place where characters hang out to discuss and gossip about their authors. Mike the janitor "…ain’t one of them uppity writer types." He simply takes care of the pub, living in the cellar with a few bats as companions and feeds the unnamed dragon that doubles as the Serendip’s mascot and part time bouncer.

At night, Mike is a writer, and continues to work on his "Secret Books of Gabendoor" series. He is married to a second grade schoolteacher, which explains why his marriage has lasted so long. His wife knows just how to handle him. Mike lives in Stillwater, Minnesota with his wife, Jane and their golden retriever, Nova.

The Book of Second Chances is the first in volume one of "The Secret Books of Gabendoor" series. The book details how Windslow, a boy in a wheelchair, and his stepsister, Hillary, find a magic Book of Second Chances. The book dream-slips them to Gabendoor where they battle the evil wizard, Fistlock. Fistlock wants the book to rule Gabendoor. Hillary wants the book to change the future. Windslow wants it to change the past. The trouble is, no one knows how the book really works and the fate of Gabendoor depends on it.


Dear Mr. Blumer,

My son Micheal met you a couple years ago when he was a student at Northdale Middle School. I was troubled with the way he refused to read and he said that it wasn't worth his time it was boring etc. You see I'm an aspiring writer myself and believe that reading is an essential part of imagination and creative growth. You had given him a copy of your first book "Book of Second Chances" and shook his hand. He was so excited that day when he came home from school, he could hardly contain himself, he had met a REAL AUTHOR as he put it in his own words. He read that book cover to cover in about a week. Impressive to me being I could barely get him to pick up a book let alone read one. He then insisted that I read the book also, which I agreed to do, since my curiosity was peaked, to see what had grabbed and held his attention. I got about halfway through the book when I spilled my glass of water on it and ruined it. I never got to finish the book and promised to get him a new copy. Unfortunately, my wife decided to cheat on me, and home life got rather unstable to say the least and I let that promise slide a little. After the divorce it's just Micheal, Jazmyn (his sister) and I working on rebuilding life. So I just ordered all three books of the series so far and looking forward to the rest. I want to uphold my promise to him. We are working on our "second chance" in life without "broken promises" or "twisted truths". I was wondering if you would put your personal touch inside the cover of each of the books. I appreciate it so much and wish I knew what you said to him that day, but he hasn't stopped reading since and loves the library now. Thank you so very much. Please write it as MICHEAL, it is an uncommon spelling a lot of people see the spelling and change it thinking it is wrong but it is spelled correctly. Thank you again, you have truly inspired us all to look inside and become better, honest and more respectful people.