Monthly Archives: April 2014

House = SOLD!

Yes, you read that right = we’ve finally sold the house. After more than a year on the market, we’re no longer paying for a home we don’t live in! And the timing is perfect—all on God’s time, of course—but we’d reached that point where we just couldn’t scrape the money together for two homes and had paid our last note. I wish I could tell you I was independently wealthy enough to afford a home here and a “Mississippi summer home!” ha.

121008-1311-itsbeginnin1.jpg 121008-1311-itsbeginnin2.jpgBut, all with most new chapters in life, there are positives and negatives moving on. We have a lot of really great memories in the home in Oxford. We were there for five good years: Brittany was in the 7th grade and Brett was 2nd grade when we moved in: Brittany had graduated and Brett was starting 8th by the time we moved. Man…talk about changes (just look at the pictures).051713_1825_Youaretheon2.jpg

Brett7thgradeWe went there knowing only the person who hired BJ at the University—which is what took us there. We leave with a host of people we know and love (even those who have the misfortune to cheer for the Mississippi school UpNorth)—and it’s really them we’ll miss the most. Fortunately we live in a day and age of Facebook and Twitter and whatever else, so we’re expecting to stay virtually in touch.

We watched the Hogs rise…and then fall in the sports programs, particularly when it came to playing Ole Maid. Heck, prior to moving there, the football team had won 7 of the last 10 games. While we lived there, we only won 2 out of 5 against the mascot-ly confused Black Bears. Many of the other sports were in similar reversals (all but the Track team—which continued to dominate on a national level). I’m hoping now that I’m gone and can’t watch them live, they’ll start winning again!

060111_0437_Gradumicate4.jpgI started—and finished!—my MFA while there. Was part of a great MFA program at Spalding University and made a lot of very cool writer pals who are doing great writer things today! The novel that was my thesis is making rounds with an agent and I’ve had good comments from those few who’ve read it.

We all witnessed our largest snow ever—a full 10 inches! I know, I know, you folks in the northern climes laugh at that, but for us it was pretty cool (see what I did there?).

Anyway, it’s nice to have closure on the home…and I’m looking forward to the next chapter of memories to create! And, of course, I’ll put a good bunch of them here. As always, thanks for reading.

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Filed under Kids, Moving

Hemingway in the Spring

Longtime visitors here will recall my association with the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center located in Piggott, Arkansas. The Pfeiffer home is where Hemingway lived for a short time while married to Pauline Pfeiffer and where he wrote parts of A Farewell to Arms. I have a great affection for the place not just because they invite me there, but because it’s in Piggott, my second home of sorts.

The museum holds three annual retreats. Writing retreats are different from writing conferences in that the object for the writers (most of them) is to get away and just write. At a conference, the writers play more of a student role and sit in on lectures and presentations. While there are fun writing exercises for the writers at the HPMEC retreats, the goal is to WRITE! My function as mentor is to lead them in the short exercises, provide feedback and comments to them on their writing, and to generally encourage them to get’er done! I very much enjoy reading the work and offering the encouraging feedback. Writing is work, yes, but it should also be fun!

HemingwaySpring2014 copy*Pictured: Bethany Mallett Stephens, Linda Wyss, Anne Winchester, Barbara Taylor, me (in all my bearded glory!), Susan Hemingway, Ethan Baker, Doug Hemingway, Fay Guin. Yes, we did have a couple who shared Ernie’s last name and Doug even looked the part of Ernest!

I’m not sure exactly when the retreats started, probably 2002, because 2008 was the 6th Annual. Initially they were weeklong summer retreats led by Dr. Rob Lamm from Arkansas State University. I learned about the retreat when I was editor of The Piggott Times in 2007. The very next year, 2008, one of the mentors couldn’t make it and they asked me to step in to to help out, which I gladly did!! The retreats had become so popular that they decided to begin an annual Fall retreat and I was asked to lead the first one. It was an abbreviated version (three days), but was no less packed with writing! In April of 2011, I was then asked to lead the first ever Spring retreat, a near-mirror image of the Fall version (meaning, it’s just a little shorter).

During my association there, I’ve worked with three different directors, but it’s a testament to them and the staff there—who are fantastic!—that the retreats continue to grow and flourish. Last week, five of the nine retreating writers had never been to any of the retreats before (and I specifically mean the HPMEC retreats, not retreats in general…because I don’t know the answer to that).

Writers come from all over, but mostly from the Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee area. I understand there was a New York writer there this past fall.

If you’re a writer and you’ve never been to a retreat, the Hemingway Writers Retreats are excellent ones to attend. They’d take great care of you and you can write where Hemingway did—maybe even channel some Hemingway in your writing.

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Filed under Speaking/Presenting/Appearances

WIP = BEAH

The story of BEAH goes back to the late 90s for me. After Marvel fired about 400 people, me being one of them, I set about to writing full steam again. I also decided to become a full-fledged indy publisher and get away from Corporate Comics. I did just that for about five years, losing a ton of money because I was acting like a big company and yet it was just me flying solo (well, I mean that for the business/marketing/money end—I worked with some really talented creators). Essentially, I tried to do too much.

Anyhow, it was while watching multiple episodes of Winnie the Pooh with my kids that the inspiration of Beah hit me. Drawing my inspiration from the great indy title, Cerebus, I figured I’d start off with a parody of WIP. Wasn’t long till I figured that was doomed to failure…and so I started thinking, well, what if the toys grew up? Long story short, I eventually got around to the idea that what if the kid just leaves the toys? What would happen? Toy lawlessness would run amuck, right? For those who wonder, yeah, there’s some Toy Story inspiration behind it, too. But that’s a good thing, right?

But over time, Beah became completely its own thing. Oh, I did go through the Cerebus spoof stage, but not in publication–mine was all on paper only read by (mostly) just me.

My good friend John Drury was initially slated to do the project back in the late 90s. But life took him–and us, elsewhere and we simply stopped pursuing it.

Fast forward to 2012 when I spotted Tim Holtrop’s art online and was immediately taken by his style. That and the fact that he–like me– had ties to Caliber Press in the early 90s made me want to talk to him. Well, that and his voiced faith. Tim and I share a common faith and we hit it off immediately. I was happy to have found a new friend even if we never went anywhere with a project. As luck would have it, I pitched the Beah concept to Tim, and over time, I think he, too, has developed an affinity for the stuffed animals.

Tim set out to do the design work and MAN, it would take an entire publication just to show you all the cool designs he did for both the characters and the setting. I present you with just a tiny smattering of those here, but I think you’ll agree how wonderful those are.

And, to top it off, fantastic colors have been provided by Emily Y. Kanalz. I worked with Emily back in the day at Malibu/Marvel. I know you don’t get to see them here much (and truthfully, I’m not sure whether the book will BE in color–but I sure hope so!), but WOW! She’s knocked it out of the park!

No, Beah doesn’t have a home yet, but we’re hoping to find one soon! In the meantime, don’t forget to find us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/beahcomic) and LIKE the page! We need more likes, so go now! We’ll be posting update there for you to get some sneak peeks and keep you posted as we search for a publishing home for Beah.

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Filed under Projects, writing