Tag Archives: Spalding University

House = SOLD!

Yes, you read that right = we’ve finally sold the house. After more than a year on the market, we’re no longer paying for a home we don’t live in! And the timing is perfect—all on God’s time, of course—but we’d reached that point where we just couldn’t scrape the money together for two homes and had paid our last note. I wish I could tell you I was independently wealthy enough to afford a home here and a “Mississippi summer home!” ha.

121008-1311-itsbeginnin1.jpg 121008-1311-itsbeginnin2.jpgBut, all with most new chapters in life, there are positives and negatives moving on. We have a lot of really great memories in the home in Oxford. We were there for five good years: Brittany was in the 7th grade and Brett was 2nd grade when we moved in: Brittany had graduated and Brett was starting 8th by the time we moved. Man…talk about changes (just look at the pictures).051713_1825_Youaretheon2.jpg

Brett7thgradeWe went there knowing only the person who hired BJ at the University—which is what took us there. We leave with a host of people we know and love (even those who have the misfortune to cheer for the Mississippi school UpNorth)—and it’s really them we’ll miss the most. Fortunately we live in a day and age of Facebook and Twitter and whatever else, so we’re expecting to stay virtually in touch.

We watched the Hogs rise…and then fall in the sports programs, particularly when it came to playing Ole Maid. Heck, prior to moving there, the football team had won 7 of the last 10 games. While we lived there, we only won 2 out of 5 against the mascot-ly confused Black Bears. Many of the other sports were in similar reversals (all but the Track team—which continued to dominate on a national level). I’m hoping now that I’m gone and can’t watch them live, they’ll start winning again!

060111_0437_Gradumicate4.jpgI started—and finished!—my MFA while there. Was part of a great MFA program at Spalding University and made a lot of very cool writer pals who are doing great writer things today! The novel that was my thesis is making rounds with an agent and I’ve had good comments from those few who’ve read it.

We all witnessed our largest snow ever—a full 10 inches! I know, I know, you folks in the northern climes laugh at that, but for us it was pretty cool (see what I did there?).

Anyway, it’s nice to have closure on the home…and I’m looking forward to the next chapter of memories to create! And, of course, I’ll put a good bunch of them here. As always, thanks for reading.

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2013 that was

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas!

The years keep rolling around like The Flash and I’m looking back on one again. Yeah, I’ll look forward next week! J

Like most years, 2013 was filled with highs and lows. It was twelve years ago that BJ and I calculated it out and figured out 2013 would be the year Brittany graduated from high school and start college. We just didn’t think it’d happen so fast. But, it did and our baby girl is now a high school graduate and a college freshman.

I began the year with the intentions of attending the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) again for the first time in a decade. MY how things have changed. While they graciously supplied me with a guest badge, I couldn’t even pay to get BJ and the kids in—we were going to make it a summer trip, a sort of post-graduation trip for Brittany (I promise, it’s what she wanted!). So that did happen. What did happen, though, was MegaCon in Orlando invited me as a comics guest and then let me bring both Brittany and Brett to help man the tables. While both had been to shows before, this was by far the biggest for both of them. I’m still not sure Brett was impressed.

In May I returned to Spalding University in Louisville, KY., my alma mater (one of them) where I was honored to get to get to give a talk on comic writing. A brief technological glitch got me off to a slow start…but after few minutes, I regained my composure…I mean, after all, I was talking about graphic novels! Pretty cool, if I do say so myself!

Brittany made a late decision to attend Full Sail after we thought she was going to go to UNA. What changed her mind was touring the campus! We did our best not to try to persuade her one way or the other, but were overjoyed she decided to go to Full Sail.

Late in the summer, after having the house on the market for well over a year, some renters entered the picture and wanted to occupy immediately so that their kids could start school and not have to change in the middle—or a few weeks in to a school year. Completely unprepared for renters, but totally recognizing it as a God-thing, we scrounged to vacate. Fortunately, we had the help of Hank Addy and the Dabbs family and we moved out on a Sunday, they moved in on the next day.

We then spent two months crammed on top of each other in a one bedroom efficiency. BJ called it “glamping,” but that didn’t amuse Brittany and Brett much. The housing market shocked us—and we still haven’t found a house, but we ended up in an apartment in Oviedo and at least the kids have their own personal space now.

Job wise, I moved back in to the classroom as the campus version of my writing for comics and animation class kicked in. While I’m not real fond of the scheduling at Full Sail, I definitely like my class AND being back in the classroom. While I’ve had movement with my writing, I’ll talk about that next week when I look ahead to 2014! See ya next year!

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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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NaNoWriMo and my burfday!

Most of you in the writing world have heard of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. For those of you who haven’t, it’s a month long stab at writing a novel, or at least 50,000 words of it.

NaNoWriMo started in 1999, but I didn’t hear about it until middle 2000s. It’s gained in strength and popularity each year since it began and I’ve thought about doing it nearly every year since I heard about it. You see, the idea isn’t that you complete a 50,000 word draft of the next best thing, ready to be published right then and there. The idea is that you get the words on the page so that you’ll have something to work with, to revise.

It’s a great idea for those who like to call themselves “writer” but do no actual writing (I’ve known quite a few of those people in my day!), or for those who write, but have problems with the “solo” aspect of it and need the deadlines and the encouragement. And by that I mean the idea seems particularly geared to those sorts.

It wasn’t until last week that I realized the “rules” for NaNoWriMo are actually quite flexible: you can have your work “plotted” out as long as you haven’t actually written any of the actual text. Of course, there is no real way to adjudicate that…and there are no “prizes” for those who are successful except the feeling of success and accomplishment.

As I said, though, the thought of being pushed through an entire month (though why they chose November, with THANKSGIVING stuck there at the end confounds me) and watching the word counts of your writing pals rise…has been intriguing.

And so after my fellow Spalding alum and writing pal Kat Shehata tossed out the gauntlet…eh, I picked it up…and so I’m giving it a try this year. In fact, I should probably be writing on it now instead of writing this. If you’re participating, my username is rolandmann. Send me a buddy request and I’ll cheer you on as well.

And oh. It’s my birthday. Those of you on Facebook saw that my wife hacked my account! I’m hoping to be able to get back on soon!

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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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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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Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask

I haven’t had the chance to talk about many books here in recent posts primarily because I’ve been up to my eyeballs in school. Now that that is done, I’m hoping to get back to more regularity here with reviews, talking about writing and that sort of thing.

So it should probably come as no surprise to you that I feel like I have a lot of “catch-up” reading to do now. I’ve got a stack of books that I’ve gotten over the last two years that I’m anxious to get to—many of them by my Imagicopter pals.

Alas, Flyboy is not one of them, but instead is something I found because of my search for superhero novels and it stood out with the very cool title. And with such a cool title, you’d think this would be a rockin’ book, right?

Instead, it was ehh. Just ehh.

I must confess that my opinion might just be bothered by the idea that it is such a cool title…anyway, a synopsis would be something like this: dude who can turn into a fly develops a crush on a waitress who just so happens to be able to make things disappear. They band together with the intention of fighting social injustice and then do such awesome deeds as make mailboxes disappear. Flyboy gets depressed when his mother dies and become a bee instead, and lives with a bee colony until they kick him out.

The problem is that the characters as so interesting as presented and there are a lot of interesting things going on around them (background noise, really)…but they don’t do anything but sit around and whine a lot. I found myself stopping several times and examining the page number and then wondering why I don’t know where the story is going. There were so many ways this book could have gone, but I think the author dropped the ball several times by failing to have a real cohesive plot.

While I wouldn’t say the book is “chock-full,” it certainly has more than its fair share of R-rated language and the obligatory sex scene. Skip it. There are other books out there to read before this one.

AND, I’m excited to announce here the short video that I wrote and directed my final residency at Spalding. It is below and is about two and a half minutes. Enjoy!

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