Tag Archives: BCW

In the Spirit of Thankfulness part 1

All these posts going every day on Facebook got me a bit in the thankful mood…but there was no way I was going to keep up with that. So, I offer, here in its entirety, my 30 days of thankfulness! So, I’m thankful for…

30 life! I don’t know that I’ve ever taken it for granted, but the recent scare made me consider it all the more.

29 my wife! (and just for all you snarky folks looking at the numbers—it isn’t a countdown or a count UP, it’s supposed to represent the 30 days of November!) She’s better to me than I deserve! I love you, BJ!

28 my job. In this messed up economy which only looks to get worse, I’m glad to be doing something I enjoy: teaching creative writing to (mostly) pretty motivated students.

27 my daughter. Even though I’ve tried to convince her to stay OUT of the arts because it’s the pathway to a lot of potential heartbreak, she’s multi-talented and incredibly smart, too…if she’ll just apply herself I have no doubt she’ll be incredibly successful(on both counts!).

26 having a roof over my head. Even though I’d really like to sell my house in Oxford so that I can get my family all back under one roof all the time, I know we’re fortunate to have a home with electricity and running water.

25 my son. Also incredibly talented (can you say FIRST CHAIR bay-bee!) and smart, I appreciate the fact that he’s just as happy geeking out with me playing war games as he is doing anything else.

24 my doctor. When we first moved to Oxford, Dr. Will Dabbs was just the kooky doctor we took the kids to see. Over time, however, he’s become my doctor and my friend…and I DO trust him with my life!

23 facebook. Yeah, yeah, I know. I can hear all the groans now. But I’m of the age that I can remember life before social media and there are a lot of names on my facebook “friend list” that I didn’t speak with that much and that now I get to at least keep up with them now and again. For writer-types who dwell in caves, it’s nice. And even though I hid EVERYONE during the last election season—that’s over and I can now enjoy posts again.

22 technology. I’m a technogeek, I admit it. I love technology. And even though I’ve fought (and still do) the idea of me carrying around a cellphone, I LIKE what they are capable of…I just don’t want to have to carry it around.

21 my parents. I’m blessed to have the best set of parents in the world. How they managed to allow me to continue to live in their house when I was a smart-aleck teenager, I’ll never know. I’m thankful for the way they raised me and for the values they taught me.

20 my church. When you move around as much as BJ and I have, it’s difficult to get “settled” with a church family. We’ve been fortunate, though, in that every place to which our names have been on the roles, they’ve welcomed us with open arms: FBC Muscle Shoals, FBC Loretto, FBC Piggott, Yellow Leaf BC, and FBC Oxford.

19 my books. Yeah, I know this sounds like a very materialistic thing…and maybe it is, but I’m still thankful for them (and for BJ allowing me to surround myself with them). Maybe it’s a writer thing, but I do love to—when I’m in “thinking” mode—to just sit back and take in the surroundings of my books, looking at the titles and recalling the emotions of the read or the particulars of it.

18 BCW. Or Byhalia Christian Writers Group. I was shocked by the lack of anything remotely faith-based in Oxford (aside from the Churches, of course) and really expected to find multiple writers group in Oxford…I mean, it’s OXFORD, the home of Billy Faulkner. Byhalia, Mississippi was the closest group I could find…and they treated me like a long lost brother. I don’t get to go as often as I’d like (for various reasons—one of which it’s an hour drive one way), but I know they remember me in their prayers—and how can one NOT be thankful for that?

17 my bed. Traveling makes you realize just how much you appreciate “your” stuff. And while BJ made me buy a mattress for the apartment in Florida, it’s still not “my bed.” And being a reenactor, I sleep on the ground every now and again. Yes, I’m very thankful for my bed.

16 Spalding. Yeah, one of my alma maters makes this list. It’s not that I am NOT thankful for the others—I am—but Spalding has that special place in my heart, mostly because, I think, the admin and faculty there have embraced the idea of nurturing the writer. It’s the first “hall of higher learning” that did NOT scoff at the body of comic work I have.

15 Spalding peeps. So, yeah, I can’t mention Spalding without mentioning my classmates/colleagues who helped make the program what it is…and ALSO embraced my comic geekiness, some of them even sharing that. There are lots of names I could mention, but the Devil Dawgs (don’t ask—long story) are deserving of special call-out for my thankfulness: Marjetta Geerling, Kat Shehata, Karin Goodwin, Rebekah J Harris, Mary Knight (one of my favorite Yankees!).

(so this is longer than what I thought it would be…to be continued)

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Imagicopter

One of the hardest things for a writer to do has nothing at all to do with writing. Actually, ask most writers and they’ll tell you writing is the easy part. It’s all the stuff that comes after that’s so hard! Even the most successful writers today who are blessed with hard-working marketing departments didn’t always have it that way. Many of them remember the day of doing all their own marketing.

At one of the sessions at this past Arkansas Writers Conference, I talked about the art of shameless self-promotion. The funny thing is that most writers aren’t the naturally super-social kind of folks. Most writers would prefer being stuck in a room full of books…alone. Just toss in some food every now and again. But in order to successfully promote, they gotta get past that and walk outside and see people…and the sun.

Writers have to aggressively do everything in their power to promote and sell their work. I could go on about that, but this blog isn’t about that. Maybe some other date, but in a nutshell writers have to do what they can to target newspapers, radio, television and the internet.

I’ve recently become associated with a loose conglomeration of writers (and a few artists) who have banded together in an effort to pool resources when it comes to marketing, especially for those in the small press. Imagicopter is the name of the group and is the brainchild of author H. David Blalock. Basically what happens is that authors join the group, supply bio material for the website (check out my page), and then participate in special “events.” The cool thing is that it can often be difficult for a single small press writer to have a signing as bookstores are often reluctant to put a lot of time and energy into a session for a single unknown or little-known writer. However, if they can promote 4-15 (depending on space available for them) authors at the same time, then that becomes an author “event” and they’re more likely to put time, energy and effort into it.

One of the neat things is the wide variety of authors there. One of my fellow BCW pals also participates in Imagicopter.

Over the course of the last near-year, I’ve participated in events in which Imagicopter was also there (that’s how I met them, after all) and I’ve participated in events with Imagicopter. I’m completely sold on this idea and wonder why this wasn’t done much before now. If you’re a writer in the southern area and your name isn’t John Grisham, I highly recommend you check out Imagicopter’s site and see what it’s all about.

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At the Arkansas Writers’ Conference

I pointed out in an earlier post that 2010 was shaping up to be an incredibly busy year, one that saw me at more conferences, conventions and book signings than in several years. The year is moving by so quickly I can’t believe it is JUNE already!

On June 4-5 I was the Featured Speaker at the Arkansas Writers Conference. Having never been to the AWC before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Oh, I’d been to Little Rock many times before, usually to watch the Hogs whip Ole Maid, but never to a writers’ conference. As I think of it, I’ve never been to a comic convention in LR either!

I met quite a few new folks, saw writers from my pals at BCW (Howdy Chris and Randy!), and saw several writers who often attend the writers retreats at Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center in Piggott. Little Rock being in the center of the state, it was very cool learning that the writers in attendance had come from all four corners of the state.

I met with several writers who’d sent work in earlier for critique and I spoke three times: Shameless Self-Promotion, Put a Little Super in Your Hero, and Dangers of the Internet for Writers. Each of the sessions seemed to go over well with the writers in attendance. Several came up to me at the close of the conference and said nice things and it’s possible that I may receive some invites to other conferences based on the contacts I made…so that’s pretty exciting! At the Awards Banquet the final night (see group pic above), the Conference gave me an “Arkansas Traveler” Certificate. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture says “the certificate [is] presented to distinguished visitors to the state.” You can just imagined how surprised and honored I was to receive the certificate!

This coming weekend (Saturday, June 12) I will be taking part in an event at Eudora Welty Commons as writers and artists from all over the state of Mississippi gather to promote their work and promote the creative arts in Mississippi by Mississippians.

Two weeks later (Sat/Sun, June 26-27), I’ll be one of the many guests at Mississippi’s Southern Fried Comic Con in Jackson, MS. It takes place at the Cabot Lodge near Millsaps College.

A little more than a week later (Tuesday, July 6), I’ll be one of two authors reading and signing at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis, TN. It’ll be the first of that sort for me (reading, then signing).

Buying Time is moving well and so I’m happy about that. I’ll be posting some reviews and quotes and such at a later date—as soon as I can kind of gather them all up. I’m still looking for a few reviewers, so if you know of a review source, let me know!

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Attending Cons, Conferences and Workshops

Today and tomorrow I will attend the Fourth Annual American Christian Writers Conference in Memphis, TN. Although I will be a GF (General Flunkie) at this year’s conference, I’ll still get to be in a creative environment and am betting I’ll be chomping at the bits to get to my keyboard. So, it seemed like the perfect time to reflect on Conferences, Conventions and workshops.

One of the things I’ve had to learn to do is tell the difference in Conferences, Conventions and Workshops. In the comic industry, just about everything professionals attend is called a “convention,” or “con” for short. For instance, the Mid-South Con is a comic/science fiction gathering in Memphis. Generally, it’s a place where fans and readers can go to meet their favorite authors and artists, have their books signed by them, chat with them, and sit in on panel discussions with them. Game designers and publishers are also often found at “cons.” Mid-South Con even has a Writer’s Conference scheduled to take place at the same time. That part of the Mid-South Con will be devoted to workshops with writers and such, although that’s a bit of a rarity in science-fiction and comic conventions. Not a rarity at these kinds of shows is usually a pretty large “dealer’s room” where fans can buy up all sorts of collectible goodies.

A Writer’s Conference is only slightly different. Generally they are geared specifically to writers, or more specifically, to wannabe writers. The guest list at a conference usually includes well known authors, editors and agents. Wannabe writers then vie for their attention to show them they’re the next greatest thing since white bread. Often, it’s the one place where writers can actually meet editors and agents face to face…that is, if they’re not hiding out. Writer conferences usually have a wide variety of sessions intended to help the fledgling writers improve their craft. They often cover such basic things as plot and character, and they also get into more developed ideas such as police procedural in fiction. I sat in on one of the latter ones which was led/taught by a policeman who also happened to be a writer. And no, I’ve never seen a session on comic storytelling or scripting. And yes, I’ve offered to lead them here and there. Most of the responses have been the organizers don’t see a “need” for that kind of session. They may be right…but I’d still like to lead one.

Workshops are geared to the very specific development of writers. Essentially, “workshops” is the writing industry’s way of saying “class,” because that’s essentially what the sessions are. And they run the gamut, too, from very short 50 minute sessions to all day sessions, to those that take place over longer periods.

A writers retreat is also a slightly different beast. These are intended to get the writer away from all the disturbances of the regular work environment and isolate them in such a way that their main focus is simply…to write! After all, that’s what writers should be doing…writing!

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Preparing for…

I’m a little late posting today, so it’s going to be a little shorter… but I do hope you’ll forgive me. I’m preparing for the upcoming ACFW Conference in a couple of weeks and time just got away from me. I was up late last night working on a onesheet to take as a pitch document. No, I’d never heard of a onesheet either until a few months ago. For lack of a better explanation, it’s simply a flyer that tells about the project and about the author. Last night I got to searching and scanning images to use on the page.

Sigh.

I am excited about it, though. While it certainly won’t be my first conference or convention, it definitely sounds like it is something different than anything I’ve ever attended before. I’m planning to pitch my YA series The Gifted, my contemporary fiction Buying Time…and I’m even considering pitching the novel I’m working on simply because I found some cool graphics to use from Cat & Mouse (you can even order the entire run at that link!), the comic I wrote oh so many years ago.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll lead a short Graphic Storytelling workshop at the monthly meeting of the Byhalia Christian Writers group. BCW is part of the larger ACW. Visit the link for directions and contact info.

I’m off to work on my onesheets again.

Here’s another old video for your entertainment pleasure. It’s the 2nd time I was on TAE VAE! Steven and I are both a little less nervous…but they came to our house so we were in our own environment this time.

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