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Some upcoming fun!

So I promised this a couple of weeks ago and I’m delivering so that I’ll be good on my word. Most of you know that I try to keep myself busy attending comiccons and writers conferences (as speaker and sometimes attendee) and this year is shaping up nicely. I mentioned MidSouthCon in Memphis last week, and I had a great time. If you missed it, you missed a fun time.

A fun thing I’ll be doing this coming weekend is reenacting at the 150th Anniversary of the battle of Shiloh. Brett will be going with me and it will be his first “major” reenactment (by major, I mean there are over 5000 reenactors signed up, and about 117 canons will be booming!). If you have an interest in this period of our history, I urge you to come out and watch. It’s incredible to see an event this big—you’ll feel like you’ve time traveled. If you come out and look for me, I’ll be wearing grey on Saturday and blue on Sunday.

Then on April 19-21, I’ll be mentoring and leading the 2nd annual Spring Hemingway Writers Retreat at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center in Piggott, Arkansas, where Hemingway briefly made his home. This is a great way for writers to escape for a bit and focus on writing. Not laundry, writing!

On May 24-26, I’m going to return to my alma mater Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky to participate in a panel on author promotion on that Thursday, and then what’s called the SP Love Fest on Friday. The LoveFest is a showcase of the creative works of Spalding students and alum. This is the second time for the event, but the first time I’ve been able to participate.

In July, I’ll be one of the faculty members at Karitos, a Christian Media Arts Conference at Wheaton Academy in West Chicago. I’ve never been there before, but an old college buddy of mine, Justice Carmon, is also part of the faculty and I’m very excited to be a part of it this year.

In August, I’ll return to the Gideon Media Arts Festival in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. I’ll be part of the faculty in the…actually, I’m not sure what the section is called now. It was Graphic Arts last year, but it’s been slightly reorganized and retitled to accommodate the growth of the conference. Hopefully one of the organizers will read this and correct me and help me out. I had a blast there last year and met many talented folks.

Whew! But I’m looking forward to all of them! Hope to see some of you at some of them! Come say hi!

MidSouthCon report next time.

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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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