Tag Archives: Gideon Media Arts Conference

The Big 7 Trip

So this coming school year will find Brett in the 7th grade. Uh…wow. When did THAT happen? As one of the coming of age rituals that FBC does, all the incoming 7th graders get to take a trip—thus, “The Big 7 Trip.” As a dad, I got to go, too! To be honest, I’d been working so much lately, that when BJ asked me and said that it was so I could go with Brett, I said yes automatically without even asking what it was. Truthfully, it probably wouldn’t have mattered—I would have wanted to go with him anyway.

When it came time to go, I finally asked what it was. We made our way to Stone Mountain, GA. and got to participate in the AtlantaFest, a three day long music festival. In between watching some cool shows, we got to go play around Stone Mountain. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun. Brett got to stay in a hotel room with his good buddy Bryce, chaperone free! Dangerous, yes? They did great…except for the fact that Bryce drank a 20 once Coke…and apparently that causes him to NOT sleep…and their air conditioner didn’t work the first night and the two of them burned up!

There were several acts, but the highlights were Toby Mac and Jeremy Camp. We got to see the Skit Guys live, and Coach Mark Richt was one of the speakers. I’m not really a Georgia fan, but I’m a big Mark Richt fan. Hearing him tell his story was pretty cool. He nearly converted me to a Georgia fan.

Okay, not really, but he was a good speaker.

The group of us rode the tram up to the top of Stone Mountain, played around a bit, then rode back down…except for me and Brett and Bryce. We decided to walk down and around the mountain to return to the park. On our way back, the three of us hid in the bushes when the tour train went by and we whooped and hollered like wild Indians. Pretty sure it didn’t fool any of the passengers, but it was pretty funny anyway. Brett and Bryce then did a high ropes course while I sat and watched.

Brett and I got to walk around some and snagged us some AtlantaFest swag. I discovered that Brittany can’t stand that I use that term. Seems she thinks her generation created it…or something. Whatever. We got to watch a short preview of the film Hellbound, picked up a free CD of B-SHOC, got a free bandana from Christian Connections and had our picture taken by them, then talked to Lauren Jones, the president of Reactiv Wear, a company that creates some spiffy designer apparel with the idea of challenging believers to rise above the situation and react as Christ would. Some pretty cool stuff, be sure to check out their website. And while the entire thing was new to me, I learned the AtlantaFest has been going on for over 20 years! Maybe next year they’ll invite one of my favorites, like Guardian or Petra. Brett even mentioned he’d want to return if Petra played!

I want to mention again the two upcoming conferences where I’ll be teaching. The first is Karitos at Wheaton Academy in the Chicago area. It’ll be July 12-14 and I’ll be teaching several sessions there in the literary track. This is the first year to be at Karitos, but my old college pal Justice Carmon will be there and I’m excited to see him and be a part of the conference. The second is the Gideon Media Festival. It’ll be August 11-16 and it’s my second year to be there. Added this year is a comic writer and artist contest and a comic gala. There were threats to try add a ComicCon there, but I think it was too much to try to add so quickly. Maybe next year. Anyway, check out the conferences and make plans to go if you can. You won’t regret it.

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Spalding reunion the first

I had the fantastic opportunity to return to my Alma Mater this past week and what an incredible time I had. First, I was honored to take part in a panel of Young Adult Alumni on the Care and Tending of Books. Also on the panel was (my good friend and fantastic writer) Marjetta Geerling, Cory Jackson, Kelly Creagh, Edie Edith Hemingway, Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen. There were six of us total and each of us had a slightly different story to tell. Dunno if they were just being kind, but several attendees mentioned they thought it was one of the better of the residency.

Those who frequent this spot know that I highly recommend the Spalding MFA program for Writing (Yes, I also teach in an MFA program, but we teach Writing for Entertainment and don’t even cover prose or poetry…so it’s very much non-competitive kind of thing). My experience there was a far better experience than I had with my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. Spalding has a very “nurture the writer” mentality, not smash them upside the head and make them feel horrible one.

Rebekah J. Harris, me, Marjetta Geerling

As part of my trip there, I got to participate in the Homecoming festivities for the MFA program. While it was my first homecoming, it certainly wasn’t the first homecoming for the university or program. Part of the festivities includes what’s called the SPLoveFest, a short period of time when Alumni get to set up at a table and peddle their wares—mostly recently published books of one sort or another. I set up at one of the tables and displayed several of my comic series, including the graphic novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Ever the classics, they were popular amongst my more literary brethren at Spalding. I was further excited that several asked about my as-yet-to-be-published The Interns. No news on that yet, but stay tuned.

A couple of you noted that I did not blog last week. I apologize for that. We are trying to sell our home in Oxford so that we can effect a move to Orlando and the task of continually keeping the house ready to show just caused me to let that date slip right on by me. I’ll try not to let it happen again. I’ve got more material for Writer’s Mistakes in the not too distant future, weaned, of course, from my students and just from around the internet.

I’ll be appearing at the Gideon Media Festival again this year August 11-16. There is a comic contest available (as well as some other contests if the dates haven’t already passed), so go check it out. Additionally, I’ll be appearing at the Karitos in July (12-14) [like them on FB here]. Still working out the details for this one, but I’m looking forward to them both. Check them out!

Photo is YA author Rebekah J. Harris, me, and Marjetta Geerling, courtesy of Rebekah.

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Gideon Film Festival and writing to music

This upcoming weekend, August 6-11, I will be one of the faculty for the Gideon Media Arts Conference to be held at Ridgecrest, North Carolina. I must say, I’m very excited about it. I learned about Gideon roughly two years ago, just after the event. I fished around a little, ended up “meeting” (you know how that goes over the internet, right?) Ken Raney, the guy who heads up the Graphic Arts track at the Conference, then getting involved with Clash Creative, which led to my involvement in the Martyrs anthology (how’s that for narrative summary?). I desperately wanted to participate last year, but by the time I’d learned the dates, I’d already had something scheduled—so I was bummed. Not that the event I was going to wasn’t as good, I wanted to do both!

So, as soon as September rolled around last year, I started hounding Ken regarding the dates for the 2011 Conference. I got the dates from him and blocked it out on my calendar. No, I hadn’t gotten the invite to come, but I wanted to be sure I could go just in case I did. Those of you who’ve been in my sessions know how much I enjoy them, and I wanted to make sure everything was good-to-go, at least on my end.

Lo and behold, several weeks back, I got the email from Ken! As an added bonus, Brittany will be attending the film/musician sessions there. So, you should check it out. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it and am anxious to be a part of it! Come out and see us!

Many years ago—when I first started writing comics—I used to listen to music very regularly as I composed. I gravitated toward the classic rock because it was what I knew and liked. I tried listening to classical but found myself distracted by the intricacies of it. I tried listening to “nature” music—you know, the kind that has wind and rain and lightning and thunder. But it made me sleepy. I tried listening to country, but found that I just spent my time laughing at it.

So most music was distracting to me. But I could play classical rock and I often thought of that music as a sort of sound track to my stories: I could see my characters interacting with one another and the music playing behind them. In fact, most of my very early comics share titles with the music I was listening to at the time. Most readers—I assume—never even noticed. A few caught them, but I’ve always guessed that’s because we shared an interest in that particular style of music and they recognized the titles immediately.

I could never listen to anything “new” though because I was too busy listening to the lyrics or intricacies of guitars or drums. Essentially, it distracted me from writing. I had to listen to music that was familiar so that it played, nearly unnoticed, in the background. MUCH like a good soundtrack for a movie. About ten years ago, I went silent, opting for no tunes. However, over the last few years, I’ve started listening to music again. Maybe I’ll talk about the whos, whys and wherefores in a future blog.

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Say hello to Clash Creative

Around May of last year I stumbled upon the website for the Gideon Media Arts Conference. I was flabbergasted to have found such a cool event. As most of you know, the last few years has seen me teach “Graphic Storytelling” in several different venues. This was what I’d been doing on a grand scale—and I desperately wanted to be involved!

Alas, it wasn’t to be so—primarily because the time was late and their plans were set. But I was virtual-introduced to Ken Raney, a man with a mission…and a vision. Ken and I boo-hooed a little that I couldn’t be there, but he had other ideas he wanted to talk about and was a bit mysterious about it all. Not long after the conference, I participated in a Skype conference call with Ken and a couple of other creative minds. It seems Ken wanted to form a sort of Christian creative brain-trust, a creative house of ideas (if you’ll permit me to steal that line from a company which no longer employs that idea!), a place for high quality creative ideas with a Christian bent. I was all over it!

Each of the members created marketable ideas and we hashed them out. My contribution—which is still with Clash—is a project entitled Moonbeam Bobby. In a nutshell, Bobby Moonbeam is the young son of a missionary family, a family whose mission field happens to be—you guessed it: the Moon!

It wasn’t long before Ken had generated art for all the potential projects and began pitching them around. The interest he’s already generated is pretty incredible.

But what I didn’t realize is that he was busy doing so many other things with Clash Creative.

This past Monday, Clash Creative launched the official website. You should really go take a look. Even as such an early phase, it’s chock full of information, regarding the many forms of entertainment. It even has a “career bio” of yours truly there.

Clash Creative is targeted at teens. The primary aim of the Clash website is to be a portal website for Christian teenagers of all things entertainment: movies, tv, literature, comics, games, you name it. The site states that Clash is “dedicated to bringing excellent, enlightening, even edifying entertainment to Christian teens and tweens.

As I said earlier: I’m all over that.

So, swing by the grand opening of the site. You’ll be amazed at what you see.

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