Recent Reads

Here’s what I have read lately, what I’m reading now, and what I’ll read soon.

Previously…

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RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard. Verdict? It was a good book and deserves its fanbase. Did I get into it? Not really, but not through any fault of the novel; it’s a well-done assemblage of tropes for the young adult “fight the power” genre, and I already have favorites in that sub-category. The apex characters for me are Katniss Everdeen and Darrow of Lykos, and any new character would have to surpass them for me to go crazy over the book.

So check if out if you’re into that, it works pretty well on its own.

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DREAM OF THE IRON DRAGON by Robert Kroese. I’m Twitter-friends with Rob, but if I hadn’t really liked this book, I wouldn’t plug it here. Solid 5 stars, really cool story that starts in space in the future, and ends up with a spaceship crashing in Viking times. Stoked to read the next one.

Content note: fair amount of profanity including F-bombs, normal combat violence, no sensuality.

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THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, BBC full-cast audio rendition. It’s taken me about 15 or 16 years to admit it, but it turns out that I actually don’t like reading these books in their fully-caffeinated iterations, nor do I enjoy listening to them. I like the movies! And these condensed-but-complete radio readings are also pretty enjoyable.

Fun fact, this was recorded in 1981, and Frodo was voiced by Ian Holm, who later went on to play Bilbo in Peter Jackson’s film adaptations. Sam was voiced by Bill Nighy, a.k.a. Davy Jones from the Pirates flicks.

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POWERS OF THE EARTH by Travis J.I. Corcoran. Lamentably I gave it three stars, only because so many of the characters were just caricatures of one form of idealism or another, and the author’s favorites were always heavily presented as the smart ones (though a lot of them were jerks.)

To its credit, the book boasts high-stakes conflict and tension, and a wealth of imagination on the tech-and-science side of things. I can see why it won a Prometheus award for hard sci-fi. But if it lives up to the moniker of “Atlas Shrugged in space” (and it does), then it takes the strengths of Ayn Rand’s classic novel as well as its flaws.

 

And at present I am reading…

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One is a sci-fi about drillers that fight an evil dragon, and one is about how to write sci-fi about drillers fighting evil dragons.

Also:

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In the mornings I toggle back and forth between some Church history books, about the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Man, we easily forget how comfortable our lives are in the modern age…

 

And coming up…

Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds audiobook cover art

The final installment in a Sanderson trilogy, and

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A hike down the Appalachians.

 

Stay tuned, fans.

9/11 at 17 and 34

Not too much to say here, only that it’s been 17 years since 9/11, and I was 17 when it happened. I am now working with a group of youths at my church who weren’t born when it happened.

In the years since, we have constantly been in a hyper-politicized war in the Middle East, first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq. We wanted to crush the terrorist groups responsible. We wanted to remove their ability to ever do this to us or anyone ever again.

Clearly we haven’t achieved this and I don’t know what the answer is. We have a ton of veterans, dead soldiers, and monetary debt, and what to show for it? We keep crushing terrorists and their cells and their leaders and their offshoots in an endless game of Whack-a-Mole. One goes down, another pops up.

If we pull back, they surge and kill civilians. If we keep going, then…I don’t know.

I have spent half my life now in a country funding a war effort. I want to win, and have done with it.

I’m just one person. I don’t know what I can do.

I just want to remember the lessons of that day, remember what the world was like before it, and hope my kids can get a taste of it in the future.

Let’s be better.

This Week’s Card Art

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Finished another template last night (though I might tweak some of the colors later, still a new discipline for me.)

On this one, you & yours would be drawn into Santa’s snowmobile, outfoxing the Abominable Snowman at the North Pole. I might also add some trees in the background just because.

Down below you’ll find the last two templates I did.

I won’t be heavily advertising these until November, but feel free to place an order whenever. Prices start at $25, I draw you in, you print them up and send them out instead of paying a photographer this year. Yay!

 

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First Christmas Card Templates Are Up!

Copyright 2018 by Graham Bradley

Yeah yeah, Christmas decorations in September…this isn’t that.

I’m trying to sell customized art to make a little extra cash this fall. The sooner I open up for business, the more overall moolah I can make. Plus it gives you time to think of what you want me to make for you.

This is cheaper than corralling your whole family front of a professional photographer, only to find out (once you have printed 100 cards) that your 6 year-old was secretly flipping the bird to the camera.

This last week I finished the first of the custom Christmas card art commissions for 2018, and I decided I need to change up my method. It took me about 8 nights of work to knock it out.

Instead, I figure I need to make templates so that I just need to draw people in them. The first two templates are featured above. Over the next few weeks I will add more. (And feel free to make suggestions in the comments!)

Template drawings will start at $25. Some of the more complex ones will be about $50, you’ll see what they look like as September rolls on.

This will allow me to fill orders faster and earn more overall money.

Which is kinda the point. 🙂

You can still commission something from scratch, but that option will start at $75. I’ll post an example of what that looks like once I have permission from the last client to share hers.

Feel free to message me at dreadpennies [at] g mail to get your order started. Or if you have questions, comment below!

Thanks.

We’ll Always Have Summer.

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And so the Bradley clan says goodbye to another summer, that perennial nest of adventure and wonderment and limitless bliss.

To the 11,000 miles of work truck grind, whittled away by audiobooks and podcasts and daydreams under the wide open desert sky;

The movies and the pool days and the barbecues, long nights with the office window open, freshly mowed grass, tank tops and gym shorts;

The birthdays, the 4th, the camping and the memories of summers past;

Reflecting on the few bad years, and the many good ones, liberated from the classroom, wandering the town at midnight, crashing a friend’s house, a short-lived romance killed by September, and the promise that the next year would be even better;

Recalling that final August alone, before securing Schaara in my life, and our journey since, passing on the zeal to our children, who yet will have many summers packed to the gills with that bursting-of-the-heart that comes with hot afternoons and boisterous nights;

Yes, fare thee well summer, we loved you plenty, and though the coming Autumn has venced you once more, we will see you again.

Thank you for always being there.

Updated Pricing on Your Christmas Card Art

Hey there, Dreads.

A few months back I announced I was doing custom Christmas card art for 2018.

This is still the case, and I’ve made some updates to the pricing and the options available. I just finished a custom card for a client and it took a lot longer than I intended, and I’m concerned that if I start scheduling more of these, I won’t get them all done and they won’t match the quality to the price I’m charging.

SO. The fix is this: I’m designing some templates for basic cards with stock backgrounds and stuff, and the “custom” part will just  be how I draw your families. Certain cards will cost more because of their details or popularity or what have you.

Fully custom cards will cost more, and still have a general turnaround time of a week.

Details are pending, as soon as I get the first round of templates done. If you have any questions, comment below or email me at dreadpennies (at) g mail.

Talk to you soon!

Be Where You Are, Enjoy What You’re Doing

One of the first pieces of advice I got when I became a father was to enjoy every phase of it as it was happening. If you got anxious for the next phase, you’d miss what was right in front of you.

I missed a lot of “firsts” with my oldest son because I was out on the road so much, so it was easy to focus on him when I was home. Seems like in no time he went from being this little eight-pound cuddlebug to a 12-pound pooping machine that could roll almost anywhere in the house.

Next week, he starts kindergarten.

A little while ago I was at the UPS store and there was a grandmother there with what I assumed was her two-month-old grandbaby. Grandma was juggling a huge purse and a parcel while holding the grandbaby, and I felt obligated to ask if she needed a hand.

“Yes! Thanks.” Boom. Grandma instantly pushes the baby into my arms. Which I guess makes sense, I mean, what was she going to do, let me open her purse?

And suddenly I remembered how little and light and snuggly my boys were when they were infants. This grandbaby was just chilling with me, no teeth, eyes looking around a little, along for the ride. It gave me some feels, you guys.

I’ve got a five year-old and a three year-old. How did this happen? How have I already been in my first home for a year? I’m thirty-four? What the junk!

And yet.

Time is funny. It goes fast, it goes slow. I have so much of my life ahead of me, and yet so much behind me that urges me to make haste. I simultaneously want to hurry up and pump the brakes. As I was walking home from the mailbox tonight, taking in our quiet neighborhood, the beautiful mountains, the lush yards, and feeling the final kisses of summer at my back…it just made me grateful for a life that has brought me happiness.

I’m grateful for the magic of summers past, and the promises of summers yet to come. I’m enjoying the space in between, while my kids are still slightly limited in the stuff we can do together. My wife mentioned a few months ago that it’s important to her that our kids know awesome summers in their youth. That’s huge to me too. I’m a child of the summertime, and hands-down my greatest young memories happened between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

This is the first year I can think of that I’m excited for autumn to come and ready for summer to be over. With a few weeks left to go, I have to remind myself to enjoy where I’m at. To be where I am.

To not get where I’m going and look back at that time that I burned off of the clock and have any regrets about how I spent my hours.

Autumn will come, and bring its seasonal delights, its own flavor of magic. For now, August is still on, and there is yet an adventure to be had.

Onward into Friday, my friends.

Project Updates

Hi gang,

Last weekend I was at a writing retreat in Midway, put on by Lisa Mangum of Shadow Mountain. Great times were had by all.

Lisa is one of my favorite people in publishing, and very adept at her craft. After getting a chance to talk to her about one of my forthcoming projects, BRIMSTONE, I decided to postpone it for now.

The book needs some work–mainly in reprioritizing a viewpoint, adding some character changes, and removing about a quarter of what’s in the book.

No small feat, but doable. It isn’t something I can tackle right now though, so the podcast episodes won’t be happening in January as planned.

For now, MISTER FRIDAY is still on track for a November release, and I will have more on that as it comes.

On top of that, I am still scheduling commissions for Christmas card art, and you can get all the details on that here.

I officially announce my retirement from major mud runs.

Yes, yes, hello to you too, thank you everyone for attending, we’ll take questions after the announcement.

Everyone knows how much I have come to casually enjoy the sport of sporadic mud-running. I picked it up in 2012 while training for a Tough Mudder, and then made a lateral move to a Spartan Race in 2013. Come 2014 I was training for a second Mudder with my wife.

Those all went relatively well (though i didn’t hydrate enough at the end of my first and got sick). However, when I was recruited for a team in 2015, I hadn’t had time to train, and that one kicked my butt. I ended up getting even sicker and telling my wife not to let me sign up again.

But as the years passed I felt that itch, and decided to sign up for another Spartan Race, hoping to catch that bug again and lose 30 pounds in training.

Turns out that that is a lot harder to do while also working 50+ hours, being a good dad, and nurturing a side career as an artist. One must pick one’s priorities.

And so I declare that while my fitness will remain a focus, I will no longer train for these major runs. Maybe the occasional flat 5-miler. (Most of this last Spartan was on the side of a ski slope. We walked.)

It’s been real and it’s been fun, but a man’s gotta know what is important in his life.

Okay, now we will take questions.