Tag Archives: The Interns

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop hello

Hi there and welcome to my blog! For my regular readers, I beg your patience as I participate—for the first time ever—in a blog hop.

For those of you new here, you’re likely here thanks to a link provided to you by my friend and colleague, author Tom Lucas. I want to thank Tom for inviting me to participate and for encouraging all of you to check out my page.

I know that you’re getting a wide variety of authors as you make the hops. Honestly, I’m not how sure far up (or down) the string of hops I am…but I’m pretty sure you haven’t run across many like me. Good or bad? That decision is up to you. (The images on this page is a sampling of covers to things I’ve written).

I spent a little more than ten years in the comic book industry (graphic novels to you more literary types) mostly as a writer, but some of that time as an editor…and some of that time as a Marvel editor. I quit writing for a few years to take up my second career: teaching! That career led me to a side-career of speaking (at writer conferences and the like), which I never thought I’d like…and yes, the introvert in me still gets nervous. Once I got going with the teaching, I dove back into writing, this time my focus was prose. I still write comics and have several graphic novel projects in the works that I’ll be talking about on this page soon. I’ve got an agent trying to sell my YA novel, The Intern, but next week I’ll be answering my ten questions about my first novel, Buying Time, which is a contemporary fiction work…with a smattering of romance (completely unintentional on my part!), a tiny sprinkle of sci-fi (completely intentional on my part!), and a coating of faith (a natural extension on my part!).

I blog about once a week where I break all the “rules” of blogging in that I pretty much write about what I want to write about (y’know—if you’re going to “do” a blog, you need a FOCUS!). I write about writing, review the occasional book, write a little about my family, rarely politics (though those seem generate the most comments!) and whatever else strikes my fancy.

So, I hope to see you next week where I’ll also point you to five more unique writers!

Thanks for stopping by.

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Gradumicated

Well, it’s official! As of May 21, I’m officially terminal. Degreed, that is. Hooded robes. Cowhide in frames. After nearly two years, I’m now the proud holder of a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing degree from Spalding University. For those who don’t know (and don’t feel bad, I didn’t know either until I asked just what exactly did “terminal degree” mean…I mean, I wasn’t ready to die or anything like that), an MFA is a “terminal degree” in the same way a PhD is. What that means, is that I’ve gotten the highest education available specific to WRITING. Tis the end of the road. Yes, I could have gotten a PhD in Creative Writing…the difference would have been with the PhD I would have had to have had a lot of extra “fluff” courses to go with it. Things like Literature and foreign languages. But because I knew Writing was where I wanted to be, I didn’t need all that extra stuff.

The funny thing about that is, I’d been accepted into a PhD program for Creative Writing. However, after a 4 hour meeting with the director, he said I didn’t need a PhD, and that I needed to find an MFA program instead. It would be faster and serve the same purpose. The difference for me now (with degree in hand) is that I need to focus on publishing!

So, I’m excited to be done so that I can insert myself into an already crowded job market. I’ve had one near miss (was in the top 3…but didn’t get the offer) and am still on the short list for a couple that I’m very interested in. Plus, I’m still finding announced positions and applying as I discover them.

But I’m also saddened because the Spalding MFA program is such a fantastic program and I will miss the learning, encouragement, camaraderie and feeling of community that Spalding residencies foster. It’s a very “comfortable” place, even though the residencies are grueling days and hours! At my last residency, I had the opportunity to write and direct a short film. What an incredible experience. The University should be posting those soon and when they do, you can bet I’ll be floating the link all over the place. It’s a considerably altered/adapted scene from the opening of my novel, The Interns (which I’m considering renaming to Mississippi Needs Super-Heroes, Too. I’d welcome your thoughts on the titles)…which is now in my agent’s hands! Woo-hoo!

I would publicly encourage anyone and everyone who’s considered further writing education to look into the Spalding MFA program. It is a “low residency” program, which means your time physically on the Louisville, KY campus is limited. Most of the work is done from home. It’s great for the non-tradition student—basically, those with a real life which often consists of jobs and families and responsibilities and such. Not that traditional students don’t have those…yeah, okay, they usually don’t have them.

Anyway, we called PhD holders “Doctor”…so, you may now officially refer to me as “Master Mann”

bwahhhahahahha

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Plot to the end

Writers are bombarded with endless suggestions of how to improve their craft and what to do to make their work “successful” (successful is, of course, defined differently by different writers). I guess this blog is another of those. My response has always been though—take all the feedback and ideas you can get, pour them into a pot, stir them up, and take out of it something that is useful to you as a writer.

I’ve always been one who’s plotted a story from start to finish before sitting down to the nitty-gritty of writing. Part of that is the nature of comic books, the industry where I’ve gotten the over-whelming majority of my work. Comics are episodic by design and stories must be tailored and crafted to fit within a specified number of pages so that writers have to know what is happening and when it’s happening. It’s not limiting, as some might suggest, but it is what it is.

I’d often read about writers, though, who just begin typing without really knowing what the story is or where it is going. Obviously, I’m talking prose writers—comic writers don’t have that liberty. After having finished two novels, I wanted to give it a try just to … y’know…see?

I didn’t get to finish the one before I started on another (The Interns, listed at the side of this blog page, for those of you keeping score) and started it the same way. Actually, it was much easier for The Interns because I was only supposed to generate 20-ish pages for my Spalding MFA workshop—it didn’t matter what the story was or where it was going, right?

As is often the case for writers, the more I wrote on The Interns, the more I liked the character and the situation in which I’d placed him. It was fun watching him squirm. But I still didn’t know exactly where the story was going. Oh sure, I’d developed ideas because of the situations, but it seemed like endless possibilities and I’d started to really want the story to mean something.

So after 70 pages, and a nice talk from my writing mentor this semester, I knew I had to go back and figure out what the story was and where it was going. To put it simply, I had to go back and plot it out from start to finish. Okay, maybe not from the very beginning because I’d written a good deal of that. I did have to figure out the ending. Getting there was fun as I got to explore the myriad paths of possibilities.

But ultimately, I picked one…and that’s where we’re going.

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