Tag Archives: Piggott Arkansas

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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Lebanon MegaCon tomorrow…and a tease

GeekGatheringMeandZombieMikeI must confess that I’m incredibly excited to let y’all know that I’ve been invited to be a comic guest for the very first time in the state of Missouri, a state where I’ve got a bunch of family and friends way down in the Southeastern boothill! But, the Lebanon Mega Con is not in that part of the state, so the folks I know there will have to drive a ways if the intend to come. (Google maps tells me it’s about a four hour drive from the Piggott, Ark area)

No, the Lebanon Mega Con will be in Lebanon, Mo. If you’re like me, you had to google it. Lebanon is Northeast of Springfield…and I did know where that is! Lebanon finds itself about three hours from Kansas City, about two hours from St. Louis, about three and a half hours from Tulsa, and about three hours from Fayetteville, Ark—so I’m hoping to see a healthy sampling of Hawg fans!

I don’t know many of the other guests, but you may know some of them. You can find a link to the webpage here: and to the Facebook group here.

Some of the “walkers” from The Walking Dead television show will be there. Among them will be Mike Koske (see the picture) who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting before. Super nice guy (for a zombie!). Be sure to get an autograph from him.

Some of the other comic guests include my old pal Jim Hall! Also there will be Billy Martinez, Jeremy Haun, and Samuel Clarke Hawbaker! There will also be a wrestler or two and some cosplay folks there.

While I haven’t seen a final schedule yet, I’ll likely be on a couple of panels where we can talk about breaking into comics, doing comics and that sort of thing.

13059823_10208213325544724_525251584_nAs a way of a teaser, I want to drop this image here. It’s important to a new project I’m involved in…and it’s just so dang cool that I had to show you SOMEthing. More to come.

Anyway, Lebanon MegaCon starts tomorrow, so make your plans to attend! It’s great to see a show in central Missouri! Bring books for me to sign…or if you don’t have any (shame on you!), I’ll have some there for you to pick up. I’ll sign them on the spot! Autographs are free! I’ll see you 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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Momma was a Mann

It’s not unusual to hear that line when you attend a Mann family reunion. After all, the married females who were born Mann change their last name and so when their descendants attend the reunion, everyone wants to know where in the tree they fit in. Mom and Dad work hard on making family tree charts and it’s very interesting to look at all the branches on the tree (ie., the cousins). Our reunions have been the descendants of John Wesley Mann, who was my gggrandfather (John Wesley->Robert Earl->Walden Bill->Billy Richard->me!).

I’ve always gotten a lot of mileage out of my last name. I mean, kids always poke fun of names (as well as a lot of other things) and it was always something that I just embraced. It isn’t unusual that I’ve heard “What’s up, Man? Get it? Mann.” It’s one of those things I’ve heard so much it’s always funnier to the speaker than to me. My first name has also been the source of my fun-poking. I’ve heard the theme song to Rawhide all my life, but the best one was probably when my gradeschool pal Kendall Jones sang the Rolo theme song for me. My nickname in that group of friends was, of course, “Rolo.”

When I got married and started to contemplate names for my kids, I wanted to embrace the name and make it work for my kids. We opted to be surprised at the sex of our first baby so we had to come up with names for both male and female. For a girl, I tried to convince BJ to go with WonderWo. You see? WonderWo Mann?

Yeah, it was a bit of a stretch and Brittany tells us that she is thankful today NOT to be named that.

When Brett was born, we knew his sex before he arrived. It was a lot easier, I thought, to come up with a name that worked for a boy. So I pushed pretty hard. I thought “Batt Mann” or “Spyder Mann” would make great names for a kid! Can’t you just see it now when he’s in 7th grade; “Mrs. Johnson, can you send Batt Mann to the office?” How cool would that have been? When I tell Brett this, he doesn’t get all gung-ho about it, but he’s not as vocally opposed to it as Brittany is to WonderWo.

So the Mann reunion was a fun time and we got to meet and chat with many cousins; some we’ve never met before and some we see only every reunion. And for those whose last name is not Mann, they often say “Momma was a Mann,” which is kinda funny…yes, even to us.

While I’m trying to talk Dad into backing up one more generation to John Wesley’s father, we haven’t done that yet. We did, however, have a cemetery dedication for William Montgomery Mann, a private in Co. E, 5th Arkansas Infantry CSA. My dad worked hard to get this done, and I was very happy to see it done. It’s something I’ve wanted since around 1987, when I first joined the SCV (Sons of Confederate Veterans). Here’s a link to a video I made of the service if you’re interested.

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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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In the Spirit of Thankfulness part 2

My thankful missive was longer than I expected, so here is the second—but no less important—half of the 30 days of thankfulness. I’m thankful for…

14 my sister. Even though I was pretty mean to her when we were kids, I’m thankful to have a beautiful and smart sister who loves me despite that fact. How the heck SHE ended up a computer geek is beyond me. I’m pretty sure she did it just to SPITE me. 😉 (she gets to head this week because she just had a birthday and STILL hasn’t caught me! Happy birthday, sis!)

13 the year and a half I got to live in Piggott. Piggott is that place that’s always been a home away from home for me. I’m kin to about 1/3 of the people there simply because my family has been in that are for 150+ years. Though the job situation (meaning mostly—the boss) was less than desirable, I’m glad to have gotten the chance to live and work there for a brief time. What made it even better was that most of the residents seemed to appreciate the work I did there AND seemed to enjoy my writing. I’ll never forget the first words from Mayor Gerald Morris when I told him who my family was (he knew them all): “Welcome home.”

12 good bosses. Having a bad boss (see #13) reminds you to be thankful for the good bosses you have (BJ can attest to that also!), and I’ve had some good ones in my time. I’ll mention by name: Noelani Cornell (my current boss at Full Sail University), Chris Ulm (the EIC during my time at Malibu), and the late Dr. Bill Foster (Department Chair at UNA where I taught).

11 Malibu Comics. Yeah, I know the company is long dead (shut down in 96), but it—and the people associated with it—hold a very dear place in my heart. Like some of the other entries here, there are far too many people to name. But I always think of Malibu as the four principle partners: Scott Rosenberg, Chris Ulm, Dave Olbrich, and Tom Mason. These guys took in the young writer from Mississippi and quickly made me a part of the family. I’m also forever grateful to Tom—I’m sure he knows—for opening up his home to me and BJ after the ’94 Northridge earthquake made us homeless.

10 my beloved Southland. I know that about half of you won’t get it, but MY country is the South not the USA, which forces our relationship at the end of a gun barrel (or a drone, these days). And for those one or two idjits who stop by here because google led you to the word “southland,” the whole Dixie thing is not about race for most (yes, there are some idiots of all creeds and colors and yes, states)…but I once tried to explain it all by saying I’ve got a lot more in common with the black guy who lives on the street in front of me than the white guy who lives up north. Truth!

9 little league organizations (all of them, not any one in particular). My dad coached me for several years when I was in high school and it was one of those things that helped bring us together when I was such a rotten teen. It gave us some common ground stuff to talk about…and it didn’t hurt that he was a darn good coach—we went 25-0 when I was a senior. I’ve been able to coach both of my kids for a number of years and I love that part about coaching … I really missed it last year and that’s probably what put it on my mind to make me so thankful.

8 my friends in law enforcement. Like the other entries, there’s too many to name—but I’ll still shout out to a couple for ridealongs and other such cool info I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else: Bobby Joe Killen and Dave Cullison!

7 my writing skills. You’re welcome to laugh—and that won’t offend me…but at whatever level I have them, I’m thankful for them. Like any writer, I hope my writing brings joy and pleasure to others…but it really is something I very much enjoy and I’m thankful for whatever skills I may have.

6 my students (most of them—ha). I’ve often said that teaching is a lot like editing: a very thankless job. An editor is (in general) good if they are “invisible” to the projects they work on, bringing out the best in the creators they’re working with, allowing them to shine. It’s an awesome feeling when a student drops you a private message or publicly thanks you for instruction/advice/encouragement.

5 my extended family. They’re a bunch of nuts, but they’re mine. (see the facebook entry#23 as a sidenote for this one, too)

4 my earthquake desk. BJ hates it. I bought it for $25 back around 1988. My dad knew this place (I don’t remember how) and we picked up this huge metal desk. It’s HEAVY. I started calling it earthquake desk in California because if the big one came (again), we could just jump under it and we’d be okay. The thing is STURDY. Every time we move BJ tries to talk me into getting rid of it and getting something “nicer.” You watch—she’ll do it again once we sell this house!

3 Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. No, I’m not going to get into the debate as to who did what. But they were an amazing team and helped me develop a love for reading when I was but a wee lad.

2 YOU, dear reader. You continue to visit my blog and read my ramblings when I know that is exactly what they are. Many of you offer you own comments and much encouragement…and you are highly treasured by me!

1 my salvation. Okay, yeah, I DID intentionally leave this one for the #1 spot (and because the first of November also happens to be my birthday!) I’m thankful that a loving God forgives me of the sins I commit daily (oh-stop! Y’ain’t so perfect yerself) and that I live in a country that I’m free to express that (mostly).

So there…if you read this far, thanks for hanging with me. Lots to be thankful for…I could probably go on, but I won’t. THANKFULLY for you, November only has 30 days!

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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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