Category Archives: Kids

Any blog posting that has something about one of my kids: Brittany and/or Brett. I’ve done this so their friends can visit these posts and maybe learn something that’ll embarrass them. Hey–what are dads for?

Raising a girl-child and a boy-child

I’m the proud owner of both a girl child and a boy child—and they couldn’t be more different from each other if we had tried. (okay, okay, neither of them are actually a “child” anymore…just roll with it) Thing is, we didn’t do anything different with the two when they were babies.

I can remember before my girl child, my firstborn, arrived. We were in California at the time and were offered untold suggestions, hints, advice—all un-solicited—but all welcomed from veteran parents. Most of the advice was good as it was practical: avoid these foods, watch out for this diaper, be sure this happens before you leave the hospital. It came from the voice(s) of experience, and they were passing that “been there, done that” experience on to us.

One common thing we read, though—and we read a LOT—wasn’t about practical stuff, it was about how not to brainwash your kid. Okay, that’s not what they said, but it was essentially the meat of it. In a nutshell, the argument was that kids turn out the way they do because of the way we raise them. If we provide all gender neutral colors, etc., they won’t grow up like the “stereotype.” Whatever that means.

So, when my first—the girl child—came along, we did much of that: we avoided pink, and girly, froufrou stuff. Yeah—like that mattered. As soon as girl child was old enough to pick what she liked, she went pink. ALL pink! EVERYTHING was pink because that is what she wanted. We didn’t push it on her, she chose it!

She’s since moved on from pink, preferring the more subtle purple, but still…the whole point of this was that all those magazines and books we read about what to do when raising the girl-child were so much hooey. She was born with her unique personality and she wanted to do the things she wanted to do…and that was to be a pretty in pink princess. (she’s still my princess, but that’s another blog for another day)

My boy-child is a completely different story. Like his sister, he chose his own unique style, and gravitated towards blues. (today it is blacks and greys) When BJ re-decorated his room—without talking to him about it first (it was supposed to be a surprise from him, moving from his “little boy” bed to his “big boy” bed)—he was very blunt. She asked, “what do you think?” His response? “I don’t like it.” And yes, we’ve got it all on video.

Moral of the story? All the so-called child-rearing experts (the social ones, not the medical doctors—them, we love!) are full of so much hot air. Dress your kids the way you want to when they’re babies. Put them in dresses, or spots outfits—they’ll make their own choices when they’re old enough to figure it all out. God’s already got a plan for them, so when they DO make those choices…roll with it. It’s all good.

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Happy New Year and looking ahead to 2017

cmcoloredHappy New Year everyone! I know some of you are ready to put 2016 behind you, but I’m ever the optimist so I’m anticipating 2017 to be a great year. I’ll add the obligatory “I can’t believe it’s 2017 already! Where has the time gone?”

I don’t have a lot of convention appearances lined up just yet, but one is fairly immediate. On Jan 19-20, I’ll be a guest at Auburndale City Con (near Lakeland, FL). The other shows I have lined up are: Daytona Beach Comic Convention on April 23, MegaCon in Orlando in May, Wizard Orlando in August. I’ll do something for FCBD (Free Comic Book Day) in May, but don’t have that hammered down yet. Wherever I end up, it’ll likely be with my pal Barry Gregory—three years running. Last year his lovely and talented wife, Jenni joined us, as did Thomas and Rene Florimonte. So, I’ll be somewhere, just not sure where yet. I hope to add a few more shows to the list, and I’ll be sure to let y’all know.

silverblade-cover-posterOn the family front, Brittany is starting 2017 off in LA as she seeks work there. I’m anxious to learn all that she’ll be getting to do this year and anticipate seeing her on the screen before the year is up! Brett will become a senior this year—OH MY!—and he’s becoming quite the young man. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my weekly (mostly) pleasures is my Friday night game session with Brett. Now that Brittany is in LA, she’s talked about joining us…if she can figure out the time difference. BJ’s still working hard on her Young Living business venture and we’re both pretty excited to see what’s in store for her there. If you haven’t “liked” her FB page yet, I’ll ask that you please go do it now: CLICK HERE!

I’m pretty excited about several things on the creative front. I’m working on two projects with long time friend and artist Dean Zachary. I’ll give you more as they develop, but a peek at them looks like: the first we’re calling SilverBlade and the high concept is Indiana Jones meets John Constantine. Joining me and Dean on SilverBlade is Barbara Kaalberg on inks and Thomas O’Connor on colors. You should see an image on this page somewhere. The second project Dean and I are working on is a revamp of Cat & Mouse, a series I did with the talented Mitch Byrd (and Steven Butler on some of the early issues) back in the late 80s/early 90s. Dean and I have made changes and updates, obviously, but the spirit will remain. The first story is about human trafficking, something I’m pretty passionate about. While Barb inked the image you see on this page, we’ve got another super-talented inker in mind to join us here, and the coloring is done by Kevin Gallegly.

Demon's Tails Ad

Demon’s Tails Ad

I can’t mention C&M without folks thinking about Demon. I’m excited to say that Paul Pelletier has agreed to reunite with me and produce a second Demon’s Tails mini-series. As I write, we’re still working on the story details, and—of course—the story will have to move at Paul’s pace, but I’m excited that we’re getting started on it. Thomas Florimonte has agreed to round out the reunited team as inker. So, yeah, I’m pretty excited about it. Long time pal Barry Gregory colored the image you see here, and we’re currently planning for it to be part of the Gallant Universe where Barry and Steven have just wrapped up their incredible John Aman, Amazing Man series. If you haven’t seen it, you need to check it out!

There’s nothing really specific that I can mention, but I’ve been talking to Barry about some pretty cool comic-related projects. I’m looking forward to more on that end. Sorry about being so mysterious about it. You know that you’ll be the first to know when I can talk about it…but the possibilities are pretty exciting.

Hope your year looks to be as exciting as mine. Happy New Year one and all!

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How long?

Hi blog. Did you miss me? I missed me.

Seriously, though. Things have been a mess time wise, but I hope think they’re cooling down. I know, don’t get my hopes up because the holidays are right around the corner, right? Sigh.

My classes have been full, but I’ve made some cuts to the graded work and have actually gotten some help—so that is good. I still enjoy the heck out of the campus classes—I mean, what’s not to love about teaching comic writing, right?

Brittany receiving her diploma

Brittany receiving her diploma

In other big news, Brittany graduated from Full Sail–and she was the Valedictorian of her class! That’s right. Tis true. And she is anxious as everything to get to work! I’m pretty anxious for that to happen, too! Ha! The cool news is that in just the last few months she was cast in major roles for two independent films. She was the lead in Love Waits and is the co-lead in The Colors of Emily (she plays Emily). She’s slated for another big role in March, and The Colors of Emily is actually a trilogy and so she’s booked for both of those in the future. All in all, fantastic success out of the gate!

As you can see from the picture, Mom, Dad and Ang were able to come down for not only Brittany’s graduation, but for Thanksgiving. We had a great time, but man did it go by in a hurry. Brittany wanted to go to Hard Rock Café to celebrate…so we lost our hearing while we were there. I think we sat in the loudest spot in the place.

Brett marched for the last time, as well, and was pretty bummed about it. They put on a pretty cool end of semester show that wasn’t just the

Dad, Brett, Mom, Angie, Brittany, BJ, and Me at Hard Rock.

Dad, Brett, Mom, Angie, Brittany, BJ, and Me at Hard Rock.

band, but kind of an all-around “talent show.” We snagged the family picture one of those nights goofing around. The show was really very cool.

Cat & Mouse is in the hands of a couple of publishers now so it’s just playing the waiting game. I think it has a better shot with one more than the other…but my contacts are better at the other one.

An independent publisher is looking hard at trying to make The Gifted happen as a series of graphic novels. As an indy publisher, but biggest obstacle to getting a graphic novel done is the art. Even if it doesn’t happen, I’m thankful they are making the effort. I’ll talk about that more when I can, of course.

Nothing new on Beah, Citizens or Rejects, but you’ll be the first to know.

I’m also hopeful that I’ll get Buying Time on Amazon and Kindle within the week—hopefully before Christmas.

Okay…hopefully I don’t crash and burn before next week! See you then!

Us being us

Us being us

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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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Visiting the Swamp

I was going to talk about plotting for multiple characters this week…but last week I had the opportunity to see my beloved Razorbacks get beat by Florida. Actually, I went thinking the Hogs had a great chance at victory…and if they’d play quarters 2-4 the way they played in the first quarter, then maybe.

But I’m not here to bemoan that fact—I’m done with that. I am here to say that we came away incredibly impressed by the kindness of Gator fans. The Swamp was about as I expected: it was big. I was, however, surprised to see that there were empty seats. With a team in the top 20, I’d expect to see all 90,000 of the seats filled. It was also very loud. The only things I can think of I’ve personally heard louder were Aerosmith in 1978 and Queen in 1980. I understand how the players can goof up on the field when they can’t hear!

As you can see by the picture, we were surrounded by Gator fans. Brittany isn’t in the picture because school kept her away. The picture was sent to her to show we were missing her. I was a bit concerned when we took our seats because—well, I’ve been to my share of Arkansas-Black Bear games (that’s Ole Miss for the uninitiated) and those are the only games I’ve ever been physically threatened. Yes, I know it’s generally the alcohol speaking, I get that…but it is what it is. We did see a little of that in the pre-game tailgating, even saw a few Hog fans who were humorously displaying their alcohol encouraged Razorback spirit in the form of non-stop hog-calling and high-fiving anyone with a red shirt on. I’m not convinced they made it to half-time, though.

There was one Gator fan about three rows down from us who was indeed alcohol obnoxious. So much so that he almost got into a fistfight, not with a Razorback fan, but with another Gator fan. Yeah, he was THAT obnoxious. Security finally came and removed him and his buddies—and much applause was heard around us. We even had Gator fans apologize to us for his actions. The others around us were sincerely kind; they asked us where we were from, wished us safe travels, said good things about our team (even though we were getting beat), and just all around general niceness.

Yeah, I was impressed.

I’ve not been to that many “away” games for the Razorbacks: Auburn, Miss. State, Ole Maid, Vandy and now Florida. I hesitate to rank them, but Florida and Auburn were both great experiences meeting some very nice “opposition” fans. I’ve never been to Death Valley (LSU), but I’ve heard horror stories about the place.

Their kindness made for a very nice Saturday…and eased the pain of losing…some.

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Watching the J Bros.

So, daughter Brittany dragged me out to see a free Jonas Brothers concert for a July 4th (on the 3rd) celebration. Apparently, they’re “back” together (I never knew they broke up) and this is part of their grand reunion kick-off. I asked Brittany how long they had been broken up and she said three years. I laughed and told her that some of the classic rock bands took that long just to compose their next classic album. It wasn’t near as funny to her as it was to me.

Before we went, she said she wasn’t much of a fan…and yet she sang along with every song they played. I, on the other hand, had never heard ANY of them. When we arrived, I think we parked as far away as humanly possible…but we didn’t allow that to slow us down. Getting to the park (Pigeon’s Roost…or some such) we found the viewing area cram packed. It was body to body, small steps moving forward. At one time, I’m absolutely certain there were more people there to participate in the festivities and see The Jonas Brothers than live in Oxford! Before the rain, that is.

TJBs played ONE song…and the last 20 seconds or so was only the bass player. Technical difficulties stopped them for a period of time. Then, the announcer said the show was postponed because of a quickly moving thunderstorm. Looking behind us, we could clearly see the line of clouds that signaled the storm.

So we waited.

For the longest time, everyone pretty much held their spots. When it started sprinkling, cries of surprise rang out (really? Because the dude warned us about four times!). When it started raining hard, about forty percent of those in the crowd vanished. That was good for Brittany because we got to step forward a bit and get a better vantage point.

We also got drenched.

Fortunately for us, we were next to a big TJB fan and she shared her umbrella with us. Of course, I’m big enough that the water running off the umbrella all ran down my back. Umbrella aside, we still got wet.

But, like most afternoon thunderstorms in central Fla., this one passed over fairly quickly (20 minutes?). But the entire thing took long enough that the authorities determined to have the firework show first, and then the return of TJB. The fireworks were nice—snippets of just about every patriotic song were played while the fireworks went off. They must have spent a ton of money on them!

TJB took the stage and played seven or eight songs to throngs of screaming girls (mostly…few dudes there looking not so dudely in their screaming) and generally put on a good show. By the time they started playing, most of the forty percent who’d left had returned and it was all crowded again. But we still had a much better view (see the pic).

All in all, we had a fun time…even though I still wouldn’t recognize any of their songs if I heard them now.

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Busy busy

So I haven’t been posting here like I’d like to. I know there are a couple of you out there that actually miss it—and you do my ego good, so thanks. It isn’t that I don’t want to post, it’s just that I’ve barely had the chance to even breathe.

Let me catch you up!

For the last year and a half, I’ve been “commuting” back and forth from Mississippi to Orlando, Florida, where I’m a Creative Writing instructor at Full Sail University. Lots of reasons for the commute, but the main one has been our house in Oxford has yet to sell. Yeah, I know—frustrating. In fact, as I write this, it still hasn’t sold (anyone need a nice house out in the suburbs of the county in Oxford?). But, since Brittany is graduating from high school, we’ve decided to suck it up, make the move, and trust God to take care of it (hope He’s listening right now!).

Still, it’s pretty scary.

I’ve been losing about a day and a half each week of my schedule to travel. Driving is about 12-13 hours (depending on whether I’m traveling east or west…and how many stops I have to make) and I lose about a half day just recuperating. Which means I have to make incredible use of the remaining days. Those of you with families know how challenging that can be sometimes.

Of course, when I can, I squeeze in writing time. I know I promised at the new year that I’d give you some updates—and they’re coming soon, promise. I should have some cool art to show you soon! The other thing is that I just got a top secret graphic novel writing gig—sorry, I can’t talk about it yet even though I want to! I promise I’ll spill the beans when they let me. While that’s great news—it is!—the publisher wants the script YESTERDAY. EEEK!

On top of that, I’m making a move from teaching in the MFA program to the BFA program. I’m excited as anything to be making the shift. Why, you ask? Because I’m getting to teach Writing For Comics and Animation. I mean, HOW COOL IS THAT?

Yep, it’s cool…but here’s the downside: the class is running NOW! I’m barely staying one step ahead of the class with lectures. I don’t EVEN want to talk about grading yet. The good news is that come June, the material will be written for the next class that comes in…I’ll have the opportunity to spell check and work out some bugs with the next class…I trust. I just hope this first class, who know they’re the inaugural class, will be forgiving of all the bumps in the road.

So. There it is…in a nutshell. Thanks for sticking with me…I hope to get back to some semblance of “normal” mid-to-late summer.

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