Tag Archives: Nashville Tennessee

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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Nashville this week, Southern Expressions in October

I’m excited about this week…and about a week still several months away. This week will be my first ever signing/appearance in the Nashville, Tenn., area. I know, can you believe it? All these years so close and I’ve never been there for an appearance, not once.

So, if you’re in the Nashville area, I’d love for you to come out and see me: it’s FREE! On Wednesday (March 23), from 4:30 until 5:30, I will be at the Madison Branch of the Nashville Public Library and will be talking about how to have a Career in comics. I’ve created “event notices” on both Facebook and Goodreads. Click the links and tell me you’ll be there! Then, on Thursday (March 24, of course), at the Goodlettsville branch, I’ll lead a limited space workshop for teens from 4:30 until 6, then will give a general public talk Creating a Comic Book from Idea to Publication. Most folks don’t know, thinking the “comic art fairies” show up at night and do the work—kinda like the elves did for that shoemaker dude. Again, click the links: Facebook, Goodreads. If you’ve got questions about anything, contact the library there in Nashville. ßlink is right there. Also, if you visit the link, you’ll see that my sessions are the #3 ad in the rolling ads. My public thanks to Jennifer Hunsicker who worked hard to make this happen. Yes, of course, pictures to follow.

Also, I’ll be signing comics at Rick’s City Comics from 12-2 on Thursday. Dig into those collections and bring your copies out for me to sign. Rick is even digging around to see what he’s got in the backstock!

While in Nashville, I’m hoping to catch up with artist Sam Payne, a talented guy who did some work for me when I was editor at Malibu. I’d give you a link to his site, or some of his work, but Sam is horribly absent from the web, something I’ve been on him to correct—I mean, folks need to be able to see his art! I’ve been trying to twist Sam’s arm to work on a project with me—and yes, I’m hoping putting it out here in public like this will help convince him it’s the thing to do! I’ll stop short of giving you his email address and telling you to bomb his email with messages of “do the project with Roland!”

But I’ll keep that thought in the back of my head.

I was made aware, too, of something pretty cool. You all have heard me talk about Imagicopter before. Well, one of the many authors I’ve met through Imagicopter is Glen Stripling. I was just made aware that he said some pretty nice things about Buying Time on his own website. Go check it out—and check out his work while you’re at it.

My other big news is that I’ve been invited to be a speaker at the Southern Expressions Authors Conference 2011 to be held in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, this coming October. I must say, I’m very excited about this and it looks to be a very cool conference. I want to encourage writers in the area to mark it on your calendars and plan to come.

I’ll be coaching Brett in baseball again this year…we start practices this week! Looks to be a fast and fun summer!

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The absent blogger

I’m afraid to look at the date before I “publish” this one…but I know it was sometime in July. Where oh where has the time gone? Well, for me personally, mostly school. Trying to balance my school with a busy summer schedule was hectic! With a capital WOW! There’s so much to catch up on, I hardly know where to start.

But I gotta start somewhere so I’ll start with Brittany having a go at American Idol. When we learned they lowered the age to 15 this year AND that there were auditions in Nashville AND it was conveniently placed next to Camp Electric on the calendar…well, we decided to do it. Brittany and I went to stand in line around 4 that morning and found the line already formed. However, once it was all said and done, we were in the first ¼ of the entire line. While she didn’t make it past the first round, it was a great experience for her. I was impressed by how efficient they were in their organization. Those guys know what they’re doing.

Brittany has been offered a contract/representation by CTA and we’re still examining those possibilities and praying about it. It sounds very good, but we don’t want to jump into it blind and make a bad decision that she’ll be stuck with. She’s competing in a contest that I’d encourage you to go vote for her here.

She’ll also be competing at the MidSouth Talent Fair Thursday, September 30. This will be her fourth year to compete there, her third in the “senior” category (which is ages 13-21). Come out if you can, and cheer her on.

Brett’s big event is his braces—which he didn’t want. He’s only had them on for two weeks, but we can already see major movement in his teeth!

I’ve had a busy summer also signing copies of Buying Time and working to promote it. I wish I’d had more time—maybe I should “buy” some, huh? Ha. Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis had me up for a reading and a signing and I was happy to have several family members and friends come out to support me. I can’t mention all of you, but if you were there, thank you for coming. If you couldn’t make it, DK graciously put some copies on their shelves, so go in and ask for it and pick up a copy!

This summer, I’ve managed to get myself some podcasting interviews. While I’ve been interviewed on television and for the paper and such before, this was a completely new experience for me—and I had a lot of fun. The first time I went on was with the Imagicopter folks. Next I went on with Andy Childress of bubbaworldcomix.com when we were at SFCC in Jackson. We were interviewed by Cody Shedd and Danny Rushing and had a blast. I’m hoping they’ll holler at me again for a follow up! And then, I had a very cool conversation with John Wilkerson, Jesus Geek. We had such a good time John had to split it into two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. In fact, we talked for another 20 minutes off air as we figured out that we knew some of the same folks out in Killeen, Texas! You should go listen to them—drive up the hits if nothing else! J

This coming Saturday, September 25, while the Razorbacks are beating Alabama, I’ll be at the Winston County Library in Louisville, Mississippi from 9 a.m. until that afternoon. I’ll be there with a handful of authors and artists, so if you’re in the area, come out and see us! You already know about Buying Time, Wizard of Oz, Huck Finn, but I’m also able to promote now Martyrs, an anthology of the early Christian Martyrs in which I wrote a 12 page story of Polycarp.

On October 2, I’ll be the keynote speaker for a Writing Retreat in Byhalia. I’ll be in Coffeeville, Mississippi the next Saturday, October 9. And then, I’ll blink my eyes and it’ll be November and I’ll lead the Hemingway Writers Retreat in Piggott, Arkansas. So, for those of you who read this blog regularly (thank you!), I apologize if I don’t get here as often the next several weeks!

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