Tag Archives: Oxford Mississippi

No Cellphone? Yeah, what of it?

I do not own a cellphone.

There, I said it.

I realize that puts me in the overwhelming minority of Americans, but I’m really okay with that. I can’t tell you, though, the number of shocked and surprised looks I get when this information comes forward. Many react like I’ve told them I don’t own shoes and they simply can’t comprehend what I’ve just said. Of course, it isn’t unusual that folks can’t comprehend what I say. “I” sometimes can’t comprehend what I say.

It’s not that I’ve never had one, I have. Twice.

The first time I owned a cellphone I enjoyed it. It was during those brief months when I worked selling academic furniture (yeah, I know—long story THERE, too!) and traveled the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas. I wasn’t usually gone for more than a couple of days, but I spend considerable time on the road and it was good to have to speak with university representatives, my bosses, and—of course—my family.

This was in the days before the smartphones (that’s one word, right?) and so my biggest concern was actually getting a signal. The “can you hear me now” commercial often applied to my experience. This would have been 2005, nearly ten years ago now.

After that job disappeared, the phone went with it. No, “I” paid for it—but I didn’t see a need for it once I stopped traveling.

Fast forward to 2011 when I took a job in Orlando, Fl., but still owned a home (and a family!) in Oxford, Ms. So, I got another one so that I could keep my family posted during my drive/commute and while I was away. The first year of my employment saw me a week here, week there, etc., so there was a lot of driving. On top of that, eldest child reaches the age where “everybody else has a cellphone, I should too,” wah wah wah. And when she started driving, the idea sounded a lot better.

Fast forward once again just slightly to 2012 when the entire family decides to get on “a plan.” Yep, they sold it to us that way. So, we all got smartphones except for the youngest. Except, this time, I didn’t really see a need for it. We kept them for several months until the entire family finally joined me in Orlando and the provider we had did not(and still does not, I think) service the area. So we got out. But the family wanted a new “plan” in Orlando.

Except I opted out.

Yep. S’true. While I found the smartphone a fun gadget, I didn’t really “need” it (what I needed was to sell my house in Oxford—but that’s another story!) and so I was having a real hard time justifying the expense.

The only time I really regret the decision is when wifey sends me to the grocery store and I find myself staring at product labels. Only then would I really like to have a phone.

Maybe I should try to get one of those Obama phone?

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Eventually, everything breaks

An old friend of mine used to always tell me that computer hard drives have a 100% failure rate. I’m not sure if it was originally his or not, but he was fond of saying it whenever we talked about computers. Initially, I had a hard time wrapping my brain around that—“but I just bought this hard drive, how can you tell me that there is a 100% chance it will fail.”

To date, he’s been absolutely correct. For computers, I just move my information from the old one to the next and keep going.

But I’m finding that there are a lot of other things that possibly fall into that category, particularly anything that uses electricity.

I missed blogging last week because we loaded up a 26foot Uhaul and then spent 2 days driving 750 miles with it packed so tight I was sticking things in with a half-open (or was it half-closed?) door. Then I had to put it all directly into a storage because we still have no place to move to yet.

But the point is that BJ and I had this lamp that I’d wanted for some time before we actually got it. It was my favorite. Those of you more astute writers have picked up on the past tense. The lamp wasn’t fancy, nor was it really that expensive. When we got our sectional sofa (eighteen years ago), I wanted one of those cool lamps that spread out into five different pieces so it would light up every spot on the sofa—I could read anywhere I sat. So we got it—and I loved the lamp.

The sofa is now gone, too. We decided a few months back that after eighteen years, the sofa would not be making the trip to Florida with us.

The lamp DID, though.

After I put everything in storage…tired as all get out, I put the lamp in the back of my truck to take it to our tiny apartment (it’s a one room and VERY temporary) so that I could continue to use it.

When we pulled up at the apartment the kids grabbed armfuls of stuff and headed in because we were all tired. When I went to take the lamp out, I saw the base had a piece broken off. When I actually picked it up to take it out of the truck, the base just…crumbled. Crumbled into so many pieces. I didn’t realize it until it broke that it was a concrete block base wrapped in some thick plastic/rubber material.

There was nothing to do but toss the entire thing.

I guess that’s why the really “old” things go in museums.

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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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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop part deux

Thanks for making it back to part two of my participation in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way that readers can discover new authors, because with bookstores closing and publishers not promoting new authors as much, we need to find a way to introduce readers to authors they may not see in their local bookstore.

Here you have the chance to find many new authors. You’ll find information about me, my blog, and my book – Buying Time. But that’s not all! Click on the links at the bottom to other authors you might like to check out—they’re picked out by me!

I’d like to thank my friend and colleague, author Tom Lucas for tagging me to participate. Click this link to find out about his book, Leather to the Corinthians, and show him some internet love by leaving a snarky comment! http://readtomlucas.com/

In this particular hop, I and my fellow authors, in their respective blogs, have answered 10 questions where you get to learn about our current work as well as some insights into our process, from characters and inspirations to plotting and cover decisions. I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the title of your book? Buying Time

2: Where did the idea come from for the book? It’s loosely based on a short story with the same title that I wrote back in my college days about a time traveling time salesman.

3: What genre does your book come under? Contemporary fiction. I tried calling it sci-fi for a bit…but a few hard core sci-fi readers complained there wasn’t enough sci-fi in the book…and they’re probably right. The sci-fi elements are very secondary to the story, which also has elements of faith and romance (yeah, I know—not exactly sure how that happened!).

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? This was actually probably the hardest question to answer because I didn’t visually actors when I wrote this (I sometimes do that when I write, but not for this work). I’d choose Alan Rickman to play Big Ben, the time salesman; Milo Ventimiglia as Tom Morgan; David Duchovny as Larry Pace; Sandra Bullock at Grace Pace.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Two completely different men are offered an opportunity to redo a part of their life. (One-sentences are hard!)

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? Small indy publisher out of Oxford, Miss.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? About two years just for the first draft. After two polish and clean up edit rounds by me, I sent the word out to about a dozen first readers who gave me feedback. I went back in for a very healthy revision based on the collected notes I’d received. The entire process took about three years. Way too long, in my opinion.

8: How did the cover come about? I had a basic idea for the cover and communicated that to the designer, Emily Y. Kanalz who then proceeded to do a bang-up job on the final product. I love what she did!

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book? Lots of things combined, really. I love time travel stories (Buying Time is NOT a time travel story) and alternate histories. I also think, given the chance, that many of us would revisit some part of our life to fix it or do it differently. This story came about as a result of all those ideas colliding!

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Like most of my work, it’s set in the South…the setting I use is the area of Florence, Alabama.

Below you will find authors who will be joining me by blog, next Wednesday. Do be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates and exciting developments.

Sidney Williams: http://sidneywilliams.blogspot.com

Sean Taylor: http://seanhtaylor.blogspot.com

Aaron Drown: www.achristopherdrown.com

Happy Writing and Reading

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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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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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