Tag Archives: Byhalia Christian Writers

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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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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Work and such

On Saturday, I attended the monthly meeting of the Byhalia Christian Writer’s group. BCW is a local chapter of the American Christian Writers (ACW). I joined shortly after moving to Oxford, and the first few meetings had 8-12 folks in attendance. With the move going on and all, I haven’t had the chance to attend for a couple of months and when I entered the room Saturday, found a packed house: 20 attendees! Wow!

BCW is a varied group of writers: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, devotionals. The meetings—which seem to be very short, to me—generally have an hour of educational material(something for writers), an hour of devotional (generally targeted at the writer), and an hour of sharing (where works are read aloud and comments are made/received). For any of you interested, I will be conducting the educational portion of the September 6 meeting. I’ll be talking about Writers and Graphic Storytelling.

I’ve also been invited to be the mentor/coach at the Fall Hemingway-Pfeiffer Creative Writers’ Retreat at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott, Arkansas, Thursday-Saturday, November 13-15, 2008. I’m very excited about this, too, as I met a very talented group of writers in June when I was there and I’m anxious to see the creative energies flow again. Info should be on the website, but if you’re a writer and you want more info, contact Deanna Dismukes, Education Coordinator, at 870.598.3487, ext. 225, or ddismukes@centurytel.net.

I also belong to the American Christian Fiction Writers group and am excited about the annual conference they sponsor. This year’s conference is in September and will be in Minnesota, a state to which I’ve never been! You’ll hear more about that as it approaches.

My editorial contract with Elfin Kids has come to an end, but they were gracious to assign me two additional classic novels to adapt. (You’ll remember I mentioned I’d done a graphic novel adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) Well, I’m currently working on a graphic novel adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. After completing it, I’ll work on The Corsican Brothers. I’ve been very excited about the work with Elfin (possible company name change in their future) because they’re focused on generating work for a younger audience. I’m very excited that when I get my contributor copies, I’ll be able to show my kids—AND to go to their schools to promote them/talk about writing, etc. Not something I could do with some of my earlier works.

I’m also working on my third novel, but progress has slowed considerably as I focus on my Elfin writing work. I did add a “progress” meter to the right. Regrettably, it’s only moved up 1% since I added it there. Buying Time, (novel #1) has been offered two contracts from vanity presses and one from a non-vanity but a POD. I’ve sat on that offer because The Gifted (novel #2) is still under consideration with an agent and I don’t want to pull the rug out from under something that could be good on my part. The POD offer is a good one, and I’ve heard very good things about the folks running it…I just want to wait a little.

I’ve still got a couple of other comic projects kicking around: still looking for an artist of BEAH, and have found an artist in Quinton Bedwell to draw a story I’ve titled Sanctuary. Quinton has had some nice input on the original concept and it’s changed considerably—for the better I think. I’ll be posting more on that later as well.

Lastly, I’m pitching some shorter stuff to some monthly magazines. While the pay isn’t something to scream about, the exposure in them would be nice. Keep your prayers coming for that—and the other projects.

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