Tag Archives: Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Why don’t I focus?

Some who’ve stopped by here have suggested I write more about writing. And I can appreciate that. I know that it can be frustrating to those of you who don’t know me that well to see me posting about my daughter’s tennis and college trials or my son’s band and baseball achievements. But I thought I’d take one of my blogs to explain my thinking…ya ain’t gotta like it, but at least I’ll try to make some sense for you.

When I first started blogging, my intentions were pretty simple: I wanted a way to keep my friends and family posted on the goings-on of me and mine. It seemed we were moving quite a bit, making some dear friends in each place. Keep in mind, too, that this was in the days before facebook became what it is today. I also wanted to use the blog as an outlet to continue to keep my writing muscles exercised and to feel like I had to do something. I’d enjoyed the weekly columns I’d gotten into the habit of writing for the Piggott paper (now the Rector paper) and the feedback I’d gotten from the community was favorable so it seemed like a good idea.

After some time I found myself without a job and in graduate school. It became a good opportunity to share some writing thoughts as well as some reviews of the books I’d read. I’m not big on reviews, but because I read a lot of superhero fiction, I thought those who had an interest in sci-fi and/or superhero books might get a little something out of the reviews.

Then, I had new work hitting the stands with Huckleberry Finn and Wizard of Oz graphic novels…and of course, my first novel. The blog became an opportunity to promote those things. I hate that idea on my blog, though, because I sometimes feel like I’m “pushing” my work to my friends and family…who would probably be interested in it anyway…but still. I know it’s one of those things that I have to do and I try to think that things like the recent blog hop is a necessity to get more people familiar with my work.

As I started finding myself speaking at writer’s conferences and leading writing workshops more and more, the blog became a way to talk about those experiences, too. Then I was fortunate to land myself back in the classroom…even if it was virtual…where I talk about writing all the time. SO, hopefully you see where this is headed…I find that I spend a lot of time talking about writing so much that I don’t feel like blogging about it too much. Yeah, I’ll do it some when something really calls out to me that needs sayin’, but I spend so much of my time talking about writing that I’m not motivated to blog about it. I know that’ll irk some of you who come here for pearls of writing wisdom…but I’ll apologize to both of you profusely!

So…there it is. And see, I’ve broken yet another rule in that this blog is 521 words.

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MegaCon 2013 report

Me, Brittany, and Tony Fortenberry at MegaCon in 1998.

Me, Brittany, and Tony Fortenberry at MegaCon in 1998.

I feel a bit guilty that I’ve talked about or mentioned Megacon in my last three blogs…but doggone it, I’ve been pretty excited about it—and with good reason. So, this is my report on it!

Brett and Brittany doing table duty at the show. I didn't realize they color-coordinated until looking at the picture.

Brett and Brittany doing table duty at the show. I didn’t realize they color-coordinated until looking at the picture.

I’ve only attended Megacon once before, and that was in 1998. I don’t remember the drive at all, but do remember staying with good pal Tony Fortenberry and his wife Claire. I also remember having a great time…and yes, we went to Disney after!

So, 15 years later, I’m anticipating great things and I wasn’t disappointed. Friday the kids and I set up shop around noon. Unfortunately, Brittany wasn’t feeling well and the first hour or so was occupied with find medicine for her—there’s a story all in itself!

Robert is an Ultraverse fan who stopped by to chat...and I discovered he was a kicker for the Florida Gators...several years back! How cool is that?

Robert is an Ultraverse fan who stopped by to chat…and I discovered he was a kicker for the Florida Gators…several years back! How cool is that?

Tired and anticipating a big Saturday, the kids and I headed back to the apartment.

Me with Thomas Florimonte and Barry Gregory. I've known Barry since the 6th grade. We were creating comics together by the 7th. Yes, they were on notebook paper, but still!

Me with Thomas Florimonte and Barry Gregory. I’ve known Barry since the 6th grade. We were creating comics together by the 7th. Yes, they were on notebook paper, but still!

Saturday was indeed a big day. I haven’t seen such long lines since the last time I went to San Diego Comic Con. In fact, Megacon 2013 reminded me a LOT of SDCC when I last went. The parking lot was packed and we had to park in the back, back 40! When the doors opened, the crowds streamed in. The aisles were jammed packed with congoers, all of whom had great attitudes about the entire thing. Lots of folks stopped to get books and signatures. The Wizard of Oz graphic novel proved to be the most popular title on my table for the weekend. One nice fan brought me some comics to sign and I told her that I didn’t write them. She insisted (nicely) that I did and when I opened the cover to check out the credits, Brett immediately pointed to my name indicating me as the writer.

Me with Paul Pelletier holding a copy of DEMON'S TAILS, a mini-series that I wrote and he drew...oh so long ago.

Me with Paul Pelletier holding a copy of DEMON’S TAILS, a mini-series that I wrote and he drew…oh so long ago.

It was a short lead-up story to the Eliminator mini-series that I co-wrote with Hank Kanalz. I had just flat forgot all about it. I gladly signed her copies—but now I’ve got to go hunt those things down for me! I also got to meet Robert McGinty, a guy who I’ve only ever chatted with on Facebook’s Ultraverse page. I learned he was a kicker in the SEC!

Me and Brittany with supercool comic rockstar Jimmy Palmiotti. He took time to offer some good advice to Brittany in regards to getting "into" the acting business.

Me and Brittany with supercool comic rockstar Jimmy Palmiotti. He took time to offer some good advice to Brittany in regards to getting “into” the acting business.

One of my personal highlights was getting the opportunity to have dinner with my old pals Barry Gregory (and his son), Thomas and Rene Florimonte, and Paul Pelletier. We told stories and caught up for hours. I accused Brittany of being bored and she scolded me later (and in private), telling me she loved to hear the stories we told. The cool thing about old friends like that is that while it had really been 15+ years since I’d really seen any of them, it felt like only last week we were talking. (We did, however, come to the conclusion that Paul has now drawn well over 4,000 pages of comic work! WOW!)

Me with George Perez. He's holding a copy of Genesis #0 for which he did the cover. An anthology, I wrote one story (drawn by Jimmy Palmiotti) and edited the others.

Me with George Perez. He’s holding a copy of Genesis #0 for which he did the cover. An anthology, I wrote one story (drawn by Jimmy Palmiotti) and edited the others.

Sunday was quite a bit slower and all the artists around me were dragging a bit. I got to see and visit with friends George Perez, Jimmy Palmiotti (who was kind enough to take a few minutes to offer Brittany some suggestions for getting into the acting industry), Billy Tucci, Chuck Dixon, as well as make new friends of Brian Demeter and Michael Bramson. Both were incredibly cool guys as well as talented artists.

And yes, once Megacon was over, we made the 12 hour drive back to Mississippi. And yes, we were dog-tired (and Brittany caught some kind of bug while there). All in all though, we’re all looking forward to going to Megacon again next year!

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March 21, 2013 · 11:00 am

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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The absent blogger

I’m afraid to look at the date before I “publish” this one…but I know it was sometime in July. Where oh where has the time gone? Well, for me personally, mostly school. Trying to balance my school with a busy summer schedule was hectic! With a capital WOW! There’s so much to catch up on, I hardly know where to start.

But I gotta start somewhere so I’ll start with Brittany having a go at American Idol. When we learned they lowered the age to 15 this year AND that there were auditions in Nashville AND it was conveniently placed next to Camp Electric on the calendar…well, we decided to do it. Brittany and I went to stand in line around 4 that morning and found the line already formed. However, once it was all said and done, we were in the first ¼ of the entire line. While she didn’t make it past the first round, it was a great experience for her. I was impressed by how efficient they were in their organization. Those guys know what they’re doing.

Brittany has been offered a contract/representation by CTA and we’re still examining those possibilities and praying about it. It sounds very good, but we don’t want to jump into it blind and make a bad decision that she’ll be stuck with. She’s competing in a contest that I’d encourage you to go vote for her here.

She’ll also be competing at the MidSouth Talent Fair Thursday, September 30. This will be her fourth year to compete there, her third in the “senior” category (which is ages 13-21). Come out if you can, and cheer her on.

Brett’s big event is his braces—which he didn’t want. He’s only had them on for two weeks, but we can already see major movement in his teeth!

I’ve had a busy summer also signing copies of Buying Time and working to promote it. I wish I’d had more time—maybe I should “buy” some, huh? Ha. Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis had me up for a reading and a signing and I was happy to have several family members and friends come out to support me. I can’t mention all of you, but if you were there, thank you for coming. If you couldn’t make it, DK graciously put some copies on their shelves, so go in and ask for it and pick up a copy!

This summer, I’ve managed to get myself some podcasting interviews. While I’ve been interviewed on television and for the paper and such before, this was a completely new experience for me—and I had a lot of fun. The first time I went on was with the Imagicopter folks. Next I went on with Andy Childress of bubbaworldcomix.com when we were at SFCC in Jackson. We were interviewed by Cody Shedd and Danny Rushing and had a blast. I’m hoping they’ll holler at me again for a follow up! And then, I had a very cool conversation with John Wilkerson, Jesus Geek. We had such a good time John had to split it into two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. In fact, we talked for another 20 minutes off air as we figured out that we knew some of the same folks out in Killeen, Texas! You should go listen to them—drive up the hits if nothing else! J

This coming Saturday, September 25, while the Razorbacks are beating Alabama, I’ll be at the Winston County Library in Louisville, Mississippi from 9 a.m. until that afternoon. I’ll be there with a handful of authors and artists, so if you’re in the area, come out and see us! You already know about Buying Time, Wizard of Oz, Huck Finn, but I’m also able to promote now Martyrs, an anthology of the early Christian Martyrs in which I wrote a 12 page story of Polycarp.

On October 2, I’ll be the keynote speaker for a Writing Retreat in Byhalia. I’ll be in Coffeeville, Mississippi the next Saturday, October 9. And then, I’ll blink my eyes and it’ll be November and I’ll lead the Hemingway Writers Retreat in Piggott, Arkansas. So, for those of you who read this blog regularly (thank you!), I apologize if I don’t get here as often the next several weeks!

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One week later

It’s been difficult to post to my blog regularly lately. Can’t answer exactly why. Sure the family has been busy, but I’ve still had the time to write here, just haven’t had the energy to do so really. Not sure if that in anticipation of my upcoming school-work, which is about to begin, or what. It won’t do my “hits-per-month” very good, that’s for sure.

Brittany missed a few days of school this week. She was tested for Swine Flu but the test came back negative. The Dr. suggested it was her sinuses again—this happened once before last year. Still, her being tested for Swine Flu was a little tense. She’s got three friends who tested positive for Swine Flu and I think that’s the reason she was tested.

Volleyball is in full swing and Brittany is having a great time. She’s one of the “setters” for the team and that seems to really excite her. BJ and I are still learning about the game. Something will happen and I’ll ask her what the call was…she doesn’t know either. Kinda fun to learn, though. Unfortunately, they were spanked pretty bad by arch-rival Oxford last night.

I’m actually moving sluggishly through the writing project on my plate now as well. I’m still working on Last of the Mohicans GN, and I’m finding it difficult to do. With Huck Finn, I knew the book so well, I moved through the entire process quickly. With Wizard of Oz (no release date from the publisher yet), it was a fun and fast read…and made the scripting easy. LOTM is 430 pages of very heavy text. How in the world do you condense that into a 64 page graphic novel? Don’t get me wrong, I like the book and think there are many visually exciting scenes…but wading through the text to get them is just very, very laborious.

It could be that I’m ready to move on to the project that will follow that. My agent, Kimberly Shumate, is still working hard at placing The Gifted, but we’ve swapped emails and had phone conversation about the “next” thing for me. As soon as I finish LOTM, I plan to get back to Cat & Mouse, the novel of which I’ve already got about 25,000 words written. No, it is not a “novelization” of my comic series—as someone recently thought. Instead, it is a different story inspired by my comic book stories. There will be a few supporting cast members who readers of the comic book will recognize, but beyond that, it’s brand new material. AND, I’m anxious to get back on it.

Lastly, Brittany is competing in the Mid South Fair talent show contest tomorrow. It’ll be in the Desoto County Civic Center Auditorium thing—a place we’ve never been but I understand it is quite BIG! Don’t know what time she goes on, but the competition starts at 2pm. Hope to see some of you there!

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

For those of you who have been following, you know that I’ve been working on a Graphic Novel adaptation of the L. Frank Baum novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I have just completed the draft of my script and await editorial comments, but I thought I’d talk some about the book—which, I’d never read before.

That’s right—I even surprised myself once I started reading it, I realized that I had only ever seen the movie. Wow. But I’d also be willing to bet that most Americans have only ever seen the movie.

For me, however, that error has been corrected. Granted I read it because I had an assignment, but I’m now glad to have done so.

While being very close to the movie in parts, there are quite a few things that the movie leaves out or just flat changes. But y’know, we have to remind ourselves (or I have to remind us for the moment) that the movie was ALSO an adaptation of the same novel I’d just read. And we all know how liberal Hollywood gets with their adaptations.

The company I’m working for is trying to stick very true to the originals—this isn’t one of those “loosely based on” ideas. The goal is to stick very close to the original and get young readers visually interested in the work so that they might actually seek the original out—or something different. Their thoughts (and generally mine, too) are that if the original is good enough to be considered a “classic,” why change it?

What are some of the differences? Well, I’m glad you asked.

The biggest difference for me was that the movie left out the second half of the book completely. After the balloon takes off sans Dorothy with the Wizard, Dorothy and crew take a whole ‘nother trip to the South where they are to see Glinda. Of course, in the movie, Glinda just magically appears.

AND—here’s the biggie, the movie treated it all as an unconscious dream for Dorothy while the book treats it as reality. In the end, when Dorothy returns home, Uncle Henry has built a new house to replace the one taken away by the tornado.

Another odd thing: When Dorothy meets the first good witch in the book, she kisses Dorothy on the forehead before sending her off on the road made of yellow brick. This red “kiss mark” is on her head throughout the entire book. In fact, it gives Dorothy protection because those who see it stay away, or decide to do her no harm.

My last thought is a funny one. Dorothy melts the Witch not to put out a fire, but because she is angry. The Wicked Witch wants the shoes, and thus devises a plan where she trips Dorothy. She succeeds in taking one of the silver shoes, and Dorothy wants it back. She gets so angry, that she grabs a pail of water and throws it on the witch. When the Witch melts, Dorothy takes another bucket of water and just sweeps her out the door—VERY funny.

Good stuff.

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