Tag Archives: Brittany

2013 that was

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas!

The years keep rolling around like The Flash and I’m looking back on one again. Yeah, I’ll look forward next week! J

Like most years, 2013 was filled with highs and lows. It was twelve years ago that BJ and I calculated it out and figured out 2013 would be the year Brittany graduated from high school and start college. We just didn’t think it’d happen so fast. But, it did and our baby girl is now a high school graduate and a college freshman.

I began the year with the intentions of attending the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) again for the first time in a decade. MY how things have changed. While they graciously supplied me with a guest badge, I couldn’t even pay to get BJ and the kids in—we were going to make it a summer trip, a sort of post-graduation trip for Brittany (I promise, it’s what she wanted!). So that did happen. What did happen, though, was MegaCon in Orlando invited me as a comics guest and then let me bring both Brittany and Brett to help man the tables. While both had been to shows before, this was by far the biggest for both of them. I’m still not sure Brett was impressed.

In May I returned to Spalding University in Louisville, KY., my alma mater (one of them) where I was honored to get to get to give a talk on comic writing. A brief technological glitch got me off to a slow start…but after few minutes, I regained my composure…I mean, after all, I was talking about graphic novels! Pretty cool, if I do say so myself!

Brittany made a late decision to attend Full Sail after we thought she was going to go to UNA. What changed her mind was touring the campus! We did our best not to try to persuade her one way or the other, but were overjoyed she decided to go to Full Sail.

Late in the summer, after having the house on the market for well over a year, some renters entered the picture and wanted to occupy immediately so that their kids could start school and not have to change in the middle—or a few weeks in to a school year. Completely unprepared for renters, but totally recognizing it as a God-thing, we scrounged to vacate. Fortunately, we had the help of Hank Addy and the Dabbs family and we moved out on a Sunday, they moved in on the next day.

We then spent two months crammed on top of each other in a one bedroom efficiency. BJ called it “glamping,” but that didn’t amuse Brittany and Brett much. The housing market shocked us—and we still haven’t found a house, but we ended up in an apartment in Oviedo and at least the kids have their own personal space now.

Job wise, I moved back in to the classroom as the campus version of my writing for comics and animation class kicked in. While I’m not real fond of the scheduling at Full Sail, I definitely like my class AND being back in the classroom. While I’ve had movement with my writing, I’ll talk about that next week when I look ahead to 2014! See ya next year!

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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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Normalcy? What’s that?

Okay, so I’m still struggling to find some normalcy in my life as far as time goes…and while one of my more smart-aleck readers noted that if I have time to blog I have time to write, I view writing here as writing. That’s part of the problem—I’m not having much time for either! Ack! On the positive front, my new class (Writing for Comics and Animation) is in high gear and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. I mean, I’m getting to teach something I really enjoy! My ground class will begin in August and I’m a little apprehensive about it, but still anxious for it. I’ll miss my colleagues in the MFA program…but, not really because I haven’t moved my desk and none of them have changed seats so they’re all still in the same place and I get to see them just like I did before. Unless there’s been a decision of which I’m unaware, I’ll still be reading comic/graphic novel theses for the MFA program when possible.

We’ve still not sold the house in Oxford—so please; if any of you know of someone looking for a home to buy (or RENT at this point), please point them our way. Four bedrooms, wood burning fireplace, nearly three acres, good community. We’d love to just pick it up and bring it with us…but you know how that goes.

We’ve started looking in the areas around Full Sail and have seen some interesting homes. Nothing that really sang out to us and said: This is it! So we’re still looking—we want to make sure we get a place that will be in a good school district for Brett. Brittany has decided to go to Full Sail University—yep, where I teach. Yep, was a surprise for us, too. I think she likes the idea that FSU focuses on what the students want to do and doesn’t waste time with a lot of fluff classes. Man, I wish I could undo some of those ridiculous math classes I was forced to take in college. I can honestly say I haven’t used anything I learned (or didn’t) from the math classes. What a waste of time!

On the writing front, I hope to post about some of the comic projects I’m working on soon. For the most part…I’m waiting on the multi-talented artists to clear their schedules and get some stuff done. Ah…the life of a comic writer. I still can’t say anything about the secret project graphic novel I’m in the middle of writing, but as soon as I can, y’all will be the first to know! I’m also working on a short story for a project—well, I’d better not mention it yet, either, because I don’t know if they want me to yet.

And, if you haven’t picked it up yet, don’t forget I have a short story in the anthology Southern Haunts! Here are SouthernHauntslinks to various editions. If you get the print copy, I’m happy to sign it for you the next time I see you! 🙂

Print (softcover) and kindle editions:

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Haunts-Spirits-That-Among/dp/1937929124

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Haunts-Spirits-Among-ebook/dp/B00BWUXMX4

Nook edition:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/southern-haunts-alexander-s-brown/1114845597?ean=2940016185934&itm=1&usri=southern+haunts

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You are the one

You

Are the one who reacted to the sound of my voice when you were pressing on your mommy’s ribs.

You

Are the one we worried about because you were born five weeks too early.

You

Are the one I called “squeaky” when we brought you home…because you just didn’t cry.

You

Are the one who we “cooked” in the sun the first two weeks you were alive because the doctors told us to.

You

Are the one who couldn’t say grandma and grandpa…and so you have a Magoo and Paco.

You

Are the one who told me when I skipped a word in a book that I read to you at night.

You

Are the one the doctors told us had scarlet fever and we could only think of all the old films where people died because of it.

You

Are the one who celebrated her seventh birthday on the battlefield at Shiloh and loved it (except for the cold feet) despite your mommy’s trepidation.

You

Are the one who has a musical heart—and always will, in more ways than one. Don’t let it worry you—sing for joy at its tune!

You

Are the one who thought we had bears in the trees behind our house…and I pretended I saw them…often.

You

Are the one who lost a front tooth because you ran face first into a classmate…a boy.

You

Are the one who played baseball with the boys for two years because there were no girls teams…and you were the starting shortstop.

You

Are truly my daughter: the only one in your class to have read The Constitution by fifth grade and to not just know that Lincoln freed no slaves, but why he didn’t.

You

Are truly my daughter: you’ve read more cool books and comic books than most of your friends…and you’re proud of your “geek” badge!

You

Are the one who asked me questions about things you heard at school…things that made me turn razorback red…but that I always answered, even if I had to think about the answer for a day.

You

Are the one who still loves me despite my parental errors.

You

Are the one whose boldness in your faith inspires me…and continues to inspire me. Don’t lose that confidence!

You

Are the one with whom I’m still close, despite so many of my female friends telling me that would end at 16.

You

Are the one graduating with honors.

You

Are the one of whom I am incredibly proud for so many reasons. I hope you at least know some of them.

You

Are my Mo.

You

Are my baby-doll.

You

are my daughter.

You

Are the one that I love…

…this’a much and more!

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Why don’t I focus?

Some who’ve stopped by here have suggested I write more about writing. And I can appreciate that. I know that it can be frustrating to those of you who don’t know me that well to see me posting about my daughter’s tennis and college trials or my son’s band and baseball achievements. But I thought I’d take one of my blogs to explain my thinking…ya ain’t gotta like it, but at least I’ll try to make some sense for you.

When I first started blogging, my intentions were pretty simple: I wanted a way to keep my friends and family posted on the goings-on of me and mine. It seemed we were moving quite a bit, making some dear friends in each place. Keep in mind, too, that this was in the days before facebook became what it is today. I also wanted to use the blog as an outlet to continue to keep my writing muscles exercised and to feel like I had to do something. I’d enjoyed the weekly columns I’d gotten into the habit of writing for the Piggott paper (now the Rector paper) and the feedback I’d gotten from the community was favorable so it seemed like a good idea.

After some time I found myself without a job and in graduate school. It became a good opportunity to share some writing thoughts as well as some reviews of the books I’d read. I’m not big on reviews, but because I read a lot of superhero fiction, I thought those who had an interest in sci-fi and/or superhero books might get a little something out of the reviews.

Then, I had new work hitting the stands with Huckleberry Finn and Wizard of Oz graphic novels…and of course, my first novel. The blog became an opportunity to promote those things. I hate that idea on my blog, though, because I sometimes feel like I’m “pushing” my work to my friends and family…who would probably be interested in it anyway…but still. I know it’s one of those things that I have to do and I try to think that things like the recent blog hop is a necessity to get more people familiar with my work.

As I started finding myself speaking at writer’s conferences and leading writing workshops more and more, the blog became a way to talk about those experiences, too. Then I was fortunate to land myself back in the classroom…even if it was virtual…where I talk about writing all the time. SO, hopefully you see where this is headed…I find that I spend a lot of time talking about writing so much that I don’t feel like blogging about it too much. Yeah, I’ll do it some when something really calls out to me that needs sayin’, but I spend so much of my time talking about writing that I’m not motivated to blog about it. I know that’ll irk some of you who come here for pearls of writing wisdom…but I’ll apologize to both of you profusely!

So…there it is. And see, I’ve broken yet another rule in that this blog is 521 words.

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MegaCon 2013 report

Me, Brittany, and Tony Fortenberry at MegaCon in 1998.

Me, Brittany, and Tony Fortenberry at MegaCon in 1998.

I feel a bit guilty that I’ve talked about or mentioned Megacon in my last three blogs…but doggone it, I’ve been pretty excited about it—and with good reason. So, this is my report on it!

Brett and Brittany doing table duty at the show. I didn't realize they color-coordinated until looking at the picture.

Brett and Brittany doing table duty at the show. I didn’t realize they color-coordinated until looking at the picture.

I’ve only attended Megacon once before, and that was in 1998. I don’t remember the drive at all, but do remember staying with good pal Tony Fortenberry and his wife Claire. I also remember having a great time…and yes, we went to Disney after!

So, 15 years later, I’m anticipating great things and I wasn’t disappointed. Friday the kids and I set up shop around noon. Unfortunately, Brittany wasn’t feeling well and the first hour or so was occupied with find medicine for her—there’s a story all in itself!

Robert is an Ultraverse fan who stopped by to chat...and I discovered he was a kicker for the Florida Gators...several years back! How cool is that?

Robert is an Ultraverse fan who stopped by to chat…and I discovered he was a kicker for the Florida Gators…several years back! How cool is that?

Tired and anticipating a big Saturday, the kids and I headed back to the apartment.

Me with Thomas Florimonte and Barry Gregory. I've known Barry since the 6th grade. We were creating comics together by the 7th. Yes, they were on notebook paper, but still!

Me with Thomas Florimonte and Barry Gregory. I’ve known Barry since the 6th grade. We were creating comics together by the 7th. Yes, they were on notebook paper, but still!

Saturday was indeed a big day. I haven’t seen such long lines since the last time I went to San Diego Comic Con. In fact, Megacon 2013 reminded me a LOT of SDCC when I last went. The parking lot was packed and we had to park in the back, back 40! When the doors opened, the crowds streamed in. The aisles were jammed packed with congoers, all of whom had great attitudes about the entire thing. Lots of folks stopped to get books and signatures. The Wizard of Oz graphic novel proved to be the most popular title on my table for the weekend. One nice fan brought me some comics to sign and I told her that I didn’t write them. She insisted (nicely) that I did and when I opened the cover to check out the credits, Brett immediately pointed to my name indicating me as the writer.

Me with Paul Pelletier holding a copy of DEMON'S TAILS, a mini-series that I wrote and he drew...oh so long ago.

Me with Paul Pelletier holding a copy of DEMON’S TAILS, a mini-series that I wrote and he drew…oh so long ago.

It was a short lead-up story to the Eliminator mini-series that I co-wrote with Hank Kanalz. I had just flat forgot all about it. I gladly signed her copies—but now I’ve got to go hunt those things down for me! I also got to meet Robert McGinty, a guy who I’ve only ever chatted with on Facebook’s Ultraverse page. I learned he was a kicker in the SEC!

Me and Brittany with supercool comic rockstar Jimmy Palmiotti. He took time to offer some good advice to Brittany in regards to getting "into" the acting business.

Me and Brittany with supercool comic rockstar Jimmy Palmiotti. He took time to offer some good advice to Brittany in regards to getting “into” the acting business.

One of my personal highlights was getting the opportunity to have dinner with my old pals Barry Gregory (and his son), Thomas and Rene Florimonte, and Paul Pelletier. We told stories and caught up for hours. I accused Brittany of being bored and she scolded me later (and in private), telling me she loved to hear the stories we told. The cool thing about old friends like that is that while it had really been 15+ years since I’d really seen any of them, it felt like only last week we were talking. (We did, however, come to the conclusion that Paul has now drawn well over 4,000 pages of comic work! WOW!)

Me with George Perez. He's holding a copy of Genesis #0 for which he did the cover. An anthology, I wrote one story (drawn by Jimmy Palmiotti) and edited the others.

Me with George Perez. He’s holding a copy of Genesis #0 for which he did the cover. An anthology, I wrote one story (drawn by Jimmy Palmiotti) and edited the others.

Sunday was quite a bit slower and all the artists around me were dragging a bit. I got to see and visit with friends George Perez, Jimmy Palmiotti (who was kind enough to take a few minutes to offer Brittany some suggestions for getting into the acting industry), Billy Tucci, Chuck Dixon, as well as make new friends of Brian Demeter and Michael Bramson. Both were incredibly cool guys as well as talented artists.

And yes, once Megacon was over, we made the 12 hour drive back to Mississippi. And yes, we were dog-tired (and Brittany caught some kind of bug while there). All in all though, we’re all looking forward to going to Megacon again next year!

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March 21, 2013 · 11:00 am

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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