Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Treason at Hanford: Now an Award-winning Manuscript

Over the weekend, I attended the Ft. Bend Writer's Conference. It was a wonderful day and I met some great folks (Hey Dawn and Joe!). The subject of the conference was screen writing. Granted, I'm still working on my novels but most of the tips can apply to novels as well as screenplays.

Anyway, I entered Treason at Hanford into the Novel-Writing Contest...and won third place. There were others who tied for 3rd with me but the simple fact is I Won Third Place. Yippee!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Nostalgia Triggers

I don’t know about y’all but almost anything can trigger a nostalgia trip for me. It can be a smell, a song, seeing and holding something from my past, etc. It doesn’t matter. And there are two seasons of the year that trigger the greatest nostalgia: summer and Christmas. I’m probably not alone with that.

Lately, since my 5-year-old is growing up, my trips have been back to my own childhood. This summer has two very different trips. One, of course, is the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. That shot me back to the summer of 1977 (and 1978, a year early). The other is the realization that 20 years ago, I was preparing to go to college at The University of Texas at Austin. Hook’em.

There are times where I aim to trigger the nostalgia myself. In trying to figure out what to eat for lunch, I settled on McDonald’s and its wonderful sandwich, the Big Mac. Why is this an important milestone for me? Well, as I was a growing boy, Mickey D’s was the closest fast food restaurant to our house so we’d go there a lot. It was also on the way to our church. Back then, ordering a Big Mac and actually eating it was a goal I had. I can remember the first time I did it. My dad and I were going to an astronomy club meeting at the local high school. I was not yet a high schooler. I ordered a Big Mac, complete with its environmentally UN-friendly Styrofoam container, and I ate the whole thing. I even went home and told my mom. It was that big a deal.

Nowadays, of course, with the expanding waistline problem and the lack of physical activity to rival my childhood, I eat Big Mac rarely. But when I do go to Mickey D’s, I almost always order a Big Mac. And today’s Big Mac is especially tasty. And I'm ten-years-old again. And it's summer. And I'm smiling.

What are y’all’s favorite nostalgia triggers?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Return to the Comic Book Store

Over this past weekend, for the first time in years—I think I calculated it to before my five-and-a-half year old son was born—I went into a comic store. And not just any store but the one I used to go to every Saturday: Third Planet here in Houston. Every Saturday, I would have breakfast with my grandfather and we’d talk. Then, I’d mow his lawn and he’d overpay me for the work, as grandfathers are wont to do. With fresh cash in hand, I’d go to Third Planet and buy the latest issues of all my favorite books.

I’m a DC man, always have been. I like Marvel characters but I always gravitate toward the DCU. So, on Friday last, as my son looked at all the Star Wars memorabilia (see, I trained him well), I talked with one of the guys who worked there about the state of Marvel and DC. His only comment on Marvel was “This is not the time to get into Marvel.” Okay, I thought, done. And then he proceeded to tell me what’s what in the DCU. Quite interesting, stuff.

What got me in there in the first place was a link from some website about a new version of The Brave and the Bold. That book was my favorite book when I was growing up. I have at least 125 of the 200 issues. And, since Batman was (and is) my favorite character, having him team up with various members of the DCU was cool The old DC Comics Presents (where Superman teamed up with other characters) was fine but BatB was better.

I ended up buying issue #1 of the new BatB and read it that night. It was like going back in time. I blazed through it, enjoying the George Perez art (he’s still one of the best) and the mere fact I was reading an actual comic book. I have kept somewhat current with DC Comics through the trade paperbacks issued every year. Honestly, that’s the best way to read an entire story: when all the issues are collected and there’s new front and back matter by the artists and writers. In fact, I liked the new issue so much that I went back to the comic store and bought issues 2-6, the current one. And, at the current cover price of $2.95, I don’t’ know how modern kids keep it up. Back when I was buying comics, the special Annuals were $1.00 and the books were $0.25 to $0.75 cents. It was a travesty when comics went to $1.00 for a regular issue and the Annuals were even more.

It’s neat to be reading comics again. It’s another link to my childhood that still exists for me. Star Wars will always be there and, I think, comics will, too. I think now to those young’uns for whom Harry Potter represents childhood. I wonder if, in the future, when they read the adventures of Harry Potter to their children, if the feelings of childhood will return for them. I think so.