Tag Archives: American Idol


A couple of you will already know of Brittany’s (and mine cause she’s too young yet!) experience of auditioning for American Idol, but I figured it was such a cool experience that I’d write about it. Last year they opened up American Idol auditions to 15 year olds. As Brittany had already registered for Camp Electric (she had a blast and made many new friends!) and seeing that Camp Electric ended on the day before American Idol auditions, BJ and I decided that we’d stay the night and let her audition.

We’d heard all the horror stories (and read some of them online, too) about the long lines, so Brittany and I decided we’d get up really early and get down there to get as close to the front as we could. We even scouted out the location the day before (really, we had to get arm bands then, so we just scouted at the same time) so we’d know where to park and where to go for the line.

As a year and a half has now passed, I don’t remember the exact time, but I think we were up at 3 a.m. and out the door by 4. Supposedly AI wouldn’t let you line up before a certain time, but we wanted to be down there anyway. Parking was relatively easy…but we were surprised to see the line extend about three city blocks already. So, we fell in line, parked our hineys on the sidewalk and waited.

We were surrounded by interesting folks; some playing guitar, some listening to music, many of them singing, few of them with really good voices. Still, though, it was kinda cool. Once the line started moving, we learned they were just filtering us into the coliseum to take a seat. As we moved forward, we passed the line which had circled all the way around the block and crossed over and around to the other side.

We made our way in, took our seat, and waited again. Once everyone was in, an announcer told everyone how things would work and proceeded to fire up the audience for the film crew. Once the auditions started, I was super impressed at how quickly and smoothly they went. It was obvious the American Idol people have done that before and know what they’re doing. I don’t watch AI, but was still impressed with their organizational abilities.

In the center of the stadium was 12 tables separated only by curtains. Behind each table sat one or two judges. As the contestants filled onto the floor, they were put in a column of fours, very military style. They then lined 3 to 4 rows of four up in front of each table. The judges would call the entire row forward, speak to them, and then call them individually further forward for their opportunity to sing. After each of the four had their shot, the judges privately conferred and then called them forward as a group to announce their decision. Winners went one direction, others went the other direction. I sat for thirty full minutes before they selected the first winner.

Brittany didn’t place; one judge liked her, the other didn’t…and the decision had to be unanimous. Regardless, it was a good experience for her.


Filed under General, Kids

Happy New Year 2012

Once again everyone, including me, is expressing surprise at how quickly 2011 came and went and we find ourselves in 2012. I told my kids just yesterday that when I was their age,” we thought we’d all be flying in rocket packs like The Jetsons by the year 2000. I gotta admit, though, with all the new-fangled phones on the market today, we are a little bit like Dick Tracy.

The Manns had a different, but fun, Christmas (and very hectic). We took the kids out of school a little early (because they’d got decent grades) and went to Orlando to try to beat the crowds to Disney. And we had a blast there (see pics!). We did Magic Kingdom on the first day and enjoyed a ton of rides and attractions. A family favorite was, of course, Space Mountain.

The second day we went to Disney Hollywood and I wasn’t nearly as impressed. One thing that really bothered me was the “designated smoking areas” seemed to be everywhere. Brett and I accidentally sat in one and continually dodged the smoke. I absolutely cannot stand the smell of it. Honestly, I don’t recall if the Magic Kingdom had the same thing, but I certainly don’t remember anyone smoking there. I just assumed (and you know how dangerous that is) that all the parks were non-smoking. It wasn’t a complete loss: Brittany made it through all the initial phases of American Idol and got to compete/perform on stage. Yes, I’m biased, but she should have won. All three judges liked her and had positive things to say…they didn’t all three like the other two. Regardless, it was a fun experience for her.

It also holds the roller coaster highlight for us in the Rock and Roll Roller Coaster with Aerosmith. Wow, but that thing is fast! Brett and I were both a little nervous before we got on, but it ended up being a great ride.

  When we left Orlando, we began a whirlwind Christmas tour to see our families. We spent Christmas Eve night at home, but that was it! It was great to see family, but it was also good to get home and sleep in my own bed.

And while I don’t really do resolutions, I do have some goals for the coming year. Those include trying to blog once per week, finishing up novel #4, and getting some comic/graphic novel projects going (I’ve got three projects with committed artists—I’m tempted to name them, but will wait until things are more firm).


Filed under General

The absent blogger

I’m afraid to look at the date before I “publish” this one…but I know it was sometime in July. Where oh where has the time gone? Well, for me personally, mostly school. Trying to balance my school with a busy summer schedule was hectic! With a capital WOW! There’s so much to catch up on, I hardly know where to start.

But I gotta start somewhere so I’ll start with Brittany having a go at American Idol. When we learned they lowered the age to 15 this year AND that there were auditions in Nashville AND it was conveniently placed next to Camp Electric on the calendar…well, we decided to do it. Brittany and I went to stand in line around 4 that morning and found the line already formed. However, once it was all said and done, we were in the first ¼ of the entire line. While she didn’t make it past the first round, it was a great experience for her. I was impressed by how efficient they were in their organization. Those guys know what they’re doing.

Brittany has been offered a contract/representation by CTA and we’re still examining those possibilities and praying about it. It sounds very good, but we don’t want to jump into it blind and make a bad decision that she’ll be stuck with. She’s competing in a contest that I’d encourage you to go vote for her here.

She’ll also be competing at the MidSouth Talent Fair Thursday, September 30. This will be her fourth year to compete there, her third in the “senior” category (which is ages 13-21). Come out if you can, and cheer her on.

Brett’s big event is his braces—which he didn’t want. He’s only had them on for two weeks, but we can already see major movement in his teeth!

I’ve had a busy summer also signing copies of Buying Time and working to promote it. I wish I’d had more time—maybe I should “buy” some, huh? Ha. Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis had me up for a reading and a signing and I was happy to have several family members and friends come out to support me. I can’t mention all of you, but if you were there, thank you for coming. If you couldn’t make it, DK graciously put some copies on their shelves, so go in and ask for it and pick up a copy!

This summer, I’ve managed to get myself some podcasting interviews. While I’ve been interviewed on television and for the paper and such before, this was a completely new experience for me—and I had a lot of fun. The first time I went on was with the Imagicopter folks. Next I went on with Andy Childress of bubbaworldcomix.com when we were at SFCC in Jackson. We were interviewed by Cody Shedd and Danny Rushing and had a blast. I’m hoping they’ll holler at me again for a follow up! And then, I had a very cool conversation with John Wilkerson, Jesus Geek. We had such a good time John had to split it into two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. In fact, we talked for another 20 minutes off air as we figured out that we knew some of the same folks out in Killeen, Texas! You should go listen to them—drive up the hits if nothing else! J

This coming Saturday, September 25, while the Razorbacks are beating Alabama, I’ll be at the Winston County Library in Louisville, Mississippi from 9 a.m. until that afternoon. I’ll be there with a handful of authors and artists, so if you’re in the area, come out and see us! You already know about Buying Time, Wizard of Oz, Huck Finn, but I’m also able to promote now Martyrs, an anthology of the early Christian Martyrs in which I wrote a 12 page story of Polycarp.

On October 2, I’ll be the keynote speaker for a Writing Retreat in Byhalia. I’ll be in Coffeeville, Mississippi the next Saturday, October 9. And then, I’ll blink my eyes and it’ll be November and I’ll lead the Hemingway Writers Retreat in Piggott, Arkansas. So, for those of you who read this blog regularly (thank you!), I apologize if I don’t get here as often the next several weeks!


Filed under General