Tag Archives: Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center

Paragould Arkansas: Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo

Hey all my NE Arkansas friends, family, and fans! I’ll be appearing as a COMIC GUEST at the Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo this Saturday and Sunday in Paragould, Arkansas. It has the longest show hours of any show I’ve ever been to: Saturday is listed as 9am to 9pm and then Sunday from 9am until 7pm.

ParagouldFNCEOn Sunday, I’ll have my very own Q&A, which starts at 12pm—that’s noon for those of you who (like me), have a hard time remembering exactly if 12pm is noon or midnight. It’s noon, so show up and ask me some fun questions about working in comics as a writer or an editor…or about my cool day job teaching comic writing these days at Full Sail University!

This will be about my fourth time to appear as a guest at a show in the state of Arkansas, but only the second time as a “comic” guest and certainly the first in this part of the state. The first time I was a comic guest in the great state of Arkansas was in either 1999 or 2000 and was in Little Rock. I think the name of the show was “RockCon,” but I can’t find my notes from then, so I’m not sure. I DO remember that whoever it was putting on the show, treated me well.

The next time I was a guest was in 2010, and I was the Keynote Speaker at the Arkansas Writers Conference in Little Rock. My invite there, of course, was thanks to the writing retreats I’d done at the Hemingway Writers Retreats at the Hemingway-Pfieffer Museum and Education Center in Piggott, Arkansas. You can read about my fun experience as Keynote Speaker here: https://rolandmann.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/at-the-arkansas-writers’-conference/

I returned to Arkansas as an author guest in February of 2011 at Ozarks University in Clarksdale. Regrettably, it snowed that weekend and very few people attended the actual show. However, I still had a great time because I got to meet new people and make new writerly/artist friends.

So I’m very much looking forward to being a comic guest in Paragould. I’ve got a lot of family and friends in the surrounding area—my cousin (first cousin, for those of you keeping score), Dr. Kevin Mann is even a dentist in the area—so I’m hoping to see many of them during the two days.

As a diehard Razorback fan, I’d really like to be invited to do more comic shows in this state–hint hint to all you comic show coordinators!

See you Saturday and/or Sunday! Bring some stuff for me to sign, or pick something up from me there!

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Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year everyone! I think I’ll do for 2015 what I did for 2014: I’ll post “a look back” this week…and “a look ahead” next week. WordPress provided me with an interesting report, but they’ve gussied it up so it’s more flair than substance this year. A few interesting tidbits from it though:

My most popular post for 2014 was The Origin of Hotty Toddy, a post I wrote in an attempt to poke fun at the obnoxious University of Mississippi football chant. I think what happens is that since they were winning this year, more people heard the chant and wanted to know a little something about it and my post turned up in the google search. Kinda funny.

The most popular day for my blog in 2014 was Oct 4, which was, probably not coincidentally the day after the Black Bears beat Alabama. Yeah, I post about other stuff (like this entry), but random googlers tend to find the Hotty Toddy post.

032714_2005_MegaCon20142.jpgMy top commenters are some pretty decent writers/bloggers, so I’m honored they visit AND comment on my page. Because of that, they get a shout out from me now! Krystol Diggs, who is a former student of mine from Full Sail. Kayla Dean, who I met when she attended the Hemingway Writers Retreat in Piggott, Arkansas. Freeda Baker Nichols, another writer I met at Hemingway and who is a far more consistent blogger than I am! Dot Hatfield, yet another writer I met at Hemingway! You see a trend, don’t you? Rounding out the top five is my mom—thanks, Mom! Show these writers some love and check out what they have to say since they’re often nice enough to leave comments for me here!

I did a handful of shows/appearances/speaking engagements again this year and had a blast at all of them. In March I returned to Memphis where I was the keynote Speaker at the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference. I met a small press publisher that expressed interest in my work. We’ve been talking for several months. Nothing hard and fast, but it’s promising.

In April, I returned to the Hemingway Writers Retreat where we had a great retreat. I was also a comic guest at MegaCon again this year. I moderated a panel “Break-in Stories” with a handful of really talented folks!

In September I got to go back to the Shoals Alabama area where I was a guest at the Geek Gathering in Sheffield. It was a fantastic little con and I sure wish they’d had something like that when I lived there. That area remains the only place I’d willingly go back to in a heartbeat! Then in October, I was a presenter at the Florida Writers Conference where I met a whole slew of new people.

Creatively, it’s been a decent year, too. I’ve been talking to a few artists not mentioned on this page before about projects, so hopefully something will come of those and you’ll see it here.

ArkansasReviewIn August, my short story “Broken Down Truck” was published by Arkansas Review (v.45 #2) and in September, my graphic novel adaptation of The Remaining was published.

With all the advances in digital media, I’m looking to release some of my older comic work digitally and possible make it available via print on demand.

My novel, Buying Time, was made available in print via Amazon and in Kindle format on Christmas day! So I hope you’ve picked up your copy! Autographs are free! J Oh! And if you’ve already read it, pop on over there and leave a review on Amazon. I hear they really help!

It’s cool to see technology advancing so quickly…cool, but a little scary. Hopefully you’ve all “liked” my author page on Facebook so you can keep up with all the new stuff.

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Hemingway in the Spring

Longtime visitors here will recall my association with the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center located in Piggott, Arkansas. The Pfeiffer home is where Hemingway lived for a short time while married to Pauline Pfeiffer and where he wrote parts of A Farewell to Arms. I have a great affection for the place not just because they invite me there, but because it’s in Piggott, my second home of sorts.

The museum holds three annual retreats. Writing retreats are different from writing conferences in that the object for the writers (most of them) is to get away and just write. At a conference, the writers play more of a student role and sit in on lectures and presentations. While there are fun writing exercises for the writers at the HPMEC retreats, the goal is to WRITE! My function as mentor is to lead them in the short exercises, provide feedback and comments to them on their writing, and to generally encourage them to get’er done! I very much enjoy reading the work and offering the encouraging feedback. Writing is work, yes, but it should also be fun!

HemingwaySpring2014 copy*Pictured: Bethany Mallett Stephens, Linda Wyss, Anne Winchester, Barbara Taylor, me (in all my bearded glory!), Susan Hemingway, Ethan Baker, Doug Hemingway, Fay Guin. Yes, we did have a couple who shared Ernie’s last name and Doug even looked the part of Ernest!

I’m not sure exactly when the retreats started, probably 2002, because 2008 was the 6th Annual. Initially they were weeklong summer retreats led by Dr. Rob Lamm from Arkansas State University. I learned about the retreat when I was editor of The Piggott Times in 2007. The very next year, 2008, one of the mentors couldn’t make it and they asked me to step in to to help out, which I gladly did!! The retreats had become so popular that they decided to begin an annual Fall retreat and I was asked to lead the first one. It was an abbreviated version (three days), but was no less packed with writing! In April of 2011, I was then asked to lead the first ever Spring retreat, a near-mirror image of the Fall version (meaning, it’s just a little shorter).

During my association there, I’ve worked with three different directors, but it’s a testament to them and the staff there—who are fantastic!—that the retreats continue to grow and flourish. Last week, five of the nine retreating writers had never been to any of the retreats before (and I specifically mean the HPMEC retreats, not retreats in general…because I don’t know the answer to that).

Writers come from all over, but mostly from the Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee area. I understand there was a New York writer there this past fall.

If you’re a writer and you’ve never been to a retreat, the Hemingway Writers Retreats are excellent ones to attend. They’d take great care of you and you can write where Hemingway did—maybe even channel some Hemingway in your writing.

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2014 that will be

Happy New Year everyone! I hope this blog post finds you all healthy and ready for the new year. I know I am!

Why, you ask?

Well, I’m glad you asked, let me tell you. But before I do, I want to offer up this video to you from the Mann family. Please accept this as our wish from us to you for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

So now, why am I excited about 2014? Well, I have several projects that are near “pitch” phase and I’ll be showing some of the images from those soon. They are (in no particular order): Beah with art by Tim Holtrop and coloring by Emily Kanalz; Citizens with Joe Baden; The Rejects with JC Grande and colors by Jesse Heagy; Sand Gears with Quinton Bedwell; Cat & Mouse with Henry Martinez. I’m also very close to finishing up a script adaptation of the upcoming post-rapture horror film, The Remaining, with artist Kyle Hotz! On top of that, I’m in talks to have some of my out of print work made available digitally (work like Krey and Demon’s Tails) and I’ve found some talented new colorists to work on those books: David Tigner is working on coloring SilverStorm, Jeremy Kahn is coloring Krey, Elijah Minott is coloring Demon’s Tails. All in all, some pretty exciting stuff.

Additionally, the calendar is filling up with some exciting events/conferences/conventions, and all. In March (8th) I’m speaking at the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference. I’m excited to be presenting there—it’s in Memphis, if the title didn’t give it away. Two weeks later I’m on the guest list for MegaCon, which is in Orlando, Florida. I had a great time as a guest there last year and am looking forward to another great show. I’m also trying to pitch a panel there but haven’t gotten word on that yet.

In April I’ll be the mentor at the Spring Hemingway Writers Retreat at the Hemingway Museum and Education Center in Piggott, Arkansas. It’s a place I’ve been before and I’ve said this before, too: this is one of those great opportunities for writers to get away and write! There are some instructional exercises, but it is mostly focused writing time with one on one feedback from mentors (which will be yours truly in April!). Lots of good writing has come out of the retreats I’ve been associated with. If you’re looking for a shorter getaway, this is the perfect opportunity for you.

Also in April, and on a more personal note, the grave for my Civil War ancestor William Montgomery Mann will have a dedication ceremony that features a new headstone with his unit markings. This is something I’ve hoped for since about 1986…and it really is all happening as the result of hard work from my dad.

In September (20th and 21st), I’m a comic guest at The Geek Gathering in Sheffield, Alabama, near my old stomping grounds in Florence. I’m hoping to get to see some of my old pals there.

A colleague of mine at Full Sail is putting together a group of presenters for the Florida Writers conference in October. While final word isn’t in on it yet (nor do I know the actual date), I’m pretty excited to be a part of the team she’s put together.

So, lots of stuff has me excited. So let’s dive in and hopefully we’ll all have a great 2014!

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The 2nd Spring Creative Writers Retreat

The Second annual Spring Creative Writers Retreat was held at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center in Piggott, Arkansas. Once again, I was honored to serve as the mentor/instructor. This marks my fifth year to be involved as a mentor/instructor. As always, it was an incredible experience.

Some have asked how I got involved with a Writers Retreat in farming country Arkansas. Well, I’ll tell ya! When I moved to Piggott to become editor of the then Piggott Times, I worked hard to get to know the people I didn’t already know. Keep in mind, my family has been there for 150 years and has a long history there so I’m kin to about one-third of the folks there. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I know how I think it did: Deana Dismukes, who was then the Center’s administrator, had been delivering press releases to me. The summer of 2007, she asked me to come up and talk to the writers at the retreat. It was in the 5th or 6th year. She bribed me with lunch…and so I went. I did a story for the paper on the retreat and the writers there.

Then, in 2008, after I’d moved to Oxpatch, Deana asked me to come be the assistant mentor for the week long summer session. It seemed the mentor who’d help get it all started, Dr. Rob Lamm, had responsibilities elsewhere and his assistant was stepping up. I gladly accepted!

The retreats were so popular with the writers they demanded a Fall version. Thus, that November, a three-day Fall retreat saw its inaugural session with me as the only mentor. The others had regularly scheduled school responsibilities and I was available! The next year, 2009, the Fall retreat expanded to a weeklong event. Last year, 2011, writers demanded a Spring retreat. It was—and still is—a three day event. I’m honored to have been the only mentor at all of the Fall and Spring Retreats, and I love to see the continual flow of new writers coming to get some of Hemingway’s ambiance (he wrote parts of Farewell to Arms in the barn studio there on the grounds).

Generally, I give the writers a mini-lecture followed by writing exercises both in the morning and then after lunch. Many of them come with projects they’re working on (like novels) and just want some time to get away and write! I know of about three novels that have been at least partially finished—or at least worked on—while at the retreat.

This year was no exception with a slightly smaller—but no less talented group. Pictured are: front (l-r) Dr. Adam Long – Associate Director for the Museum and Ed. Center, me, Mary Lou Moran; back (l-r), John Achor, Shannon Richards, Linda Wyss, Jane Gatewood, Jerry Davis. Not pictured are Anne Winchester and Brett Thielemier.

If you’ve ever considered a retreat, let me encourage you to consider the Creative Writers Retreats at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Tell’em Roland sent ya!

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Once again, Writers Retreat at HPMEC

Those of you who’ve been around this blog for at least 7 months know of the Hemingway-Pfeifer Museum and Education Center and the awesome writers retreats. I’ve just come away from another week of retreating writers in the small town of Piggott, Arkansas, where Hemingway penned portions of his famous Farewell to Arms.

While I’ve known about the Pfeifer home and the museum for some time now, I wasn’t aware of the writers retreat until the summer of 2007 when the contacted me to do a story for the paper where I was editor. They fed me lunch, I listened for a bit, and did a story on it for the paper only to find out it was the first time the paper had ever even been there (I wasn’t editor there for the other retreats!). Needless to say, that shocked me, but one of the goals I had as editor was to make it more of a local paper, something it hadn’t really done before then.

The next summer, 2008, I’d already moved on from the paper but kept in contact with a lot of the people there, and the kind folks at HPMEC contacted me about being one of the Writing Mentors there. I jumped on the opportunity. It must have gone well, because they invited me back to be the sole Mentor in 2009 partly because Dr. Rob Lamm, the regular summer Mentor, couldn’t make it that year. Interest in the retreat had been growing and they were looking for ways to enhance the experience for writers, so the now annual Fall Retreat was created and I became the Mentor for that. This past April they put on the first (and abbreviated) Spring retreat. As I’ve said before, writers should consider doing something like this—if not the HPMEC retreat.

There were 14 writers in attendance this time, 10 of whom were first timers! Pictured are: front row, l-r: Brinda Gore, Dorothy Johnson, Cristy Phillips, Monica Moore, Teresa Lee, Kayla Dean; back row, l-r: Freeda Nichols, Elizabeth Foster, Richard Collum, Linda Wyss, Shannon Richards, Sue Whitmire, Barbara Collier, me, Evelyn Clark, Diana Sanders-HPMEC Assistant Director.

As usual, the writers came from all over and had a wide variety of interests. It is the first time, however, that I’ve ever had one bring part of a working dissertation for comments!

As usual, the writers left both full exhausted from the long week of writing and fully energized at the same time. Teresa Lee was so much so that she began her very own blog the very following Sunday. Check it out here: Close To Home

I am beginning to wonder, though… Two years ago Deana Dismukes, who was coordinating the retreats and putting together the anthologies, retired to many tearful writers and joyful grandchildren. At this retreat, Diana Sanders let us know she was about to retire and spend time with her grandchildren. A retirement party was thrown in her honor and her presence will be greatly missed.

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Taking Criticism

So I’m writing this particular entry because of this blog post. Not necessarily the post itself, which is just a review of an independent book, but the author’s response to that review. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s gone viral (there’s a blog all in itself, huh?), but it’s certainly making the rounds with small press and indy writers.

Before I get off on that, though, I want to give a head’s up and a brief report. This week I’ll be leading the first ever SPRING edition of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Writers Retreat to be held at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center (HPMEC). It’s not the first HPMEC Writers Retreat, but the first one in Spring. Why, you ask? Tis simple: the demand for such an awesome environment to escape from the rigors (and hassles) of everyday life and focus on writing is growing and growing. This is, of course, in tribute to the fantastic staff who host it and take such good care of the writers (and their mentor!). The schedule for this version is both condensed and expanded: meaning the days are longer but there are fewer days.

My sessions at the Nashville Public Library system branches at Goodlettsville and Madison this past week seemed to go well. The librarians seemed happy when it was all said and done, and that’s important. Sara at the Madison branch suggested that the event was one of the better attended. The photos here are courtesy of her! I met some cool folks and talked about graphic novels/comic books. Hard to beat that!

Okay, so back to the title topic. For those who didn’t go view the blog, I’ll recap. The site, Big Al’s Books and Pals, is a book review blog. Big Al accepts independently (self-published and small press publishers alike) published books to read and review. As with all reviews, authors aren’t guaranteed a “good” review. I’d love to submit my own book for more reviews, but the few I’ve tried I haven’t had much luck (though I’m hoping to get some reviews over at Goodreads—yes, I’ll keep you posted).

So Big Al posts a review of this book (not gonna mention the book as I don’t want to drive hits to her!—you’ll see why). Says the story was compelling, but that the book was full of typos and the like and thus would make it hard for casual readers (ie, NON-reviewers) to actually finish the book. Wasn’t a glowing review and wasn’t a horrible condemnation. However, the author immediately begins to defend herself telling Big Al he read the wrong version (if I read it correctly, the version was SUPPLIED by the author!). She argues with others leaving comments, even swearing at them at one point. Many, many followed that up with an “I’ll never read your book no matter how good it is because you’re a jerk” kind of statement.

Thing is, though, authors must know that the very nature of their work lends itself to criticism (“criticism,” as a reminder, is not inherently a negative word). It’s something they should prepare for. It’s something I even talk about sometimes in workshops or retreats—obviously partly because my job is often to extend criticism throughout. In a nutshell, I always say (and try to practice what I preach, as well) listen to all criticism—the good and the bad—and place it all into a big pot. Stir it up and learn from it. Some of the criticism an author receives will be well informed and on target. Some of the criticism an author receives will just be hot air. Regardless, it is someone’s opinion—and obviously someone who TOOK THE TIME to read that author’s work. So give them the courtesy of their opinion, thank them, and then ignore it if you wish.

It really isn’t that hard to do.

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