Howling Wilderness aesthetics

I’ve had an idea for the Radcracker Podcast that I want to discuss, I just haven’t sat down to organize my thoughts on it. Short version is that part of the worldbuilding/prewriting for a story involves an aesthetics check.

What does the world of the story look like? What do people wear? In a visual medium, what would the color pallet be? In an audio medium, what kind of music would fit the scenery? Things like that.

Anyway, as I’ve been working on the visuals for the characters, here’s some cool stuff I’ve developed for the two main characters.


Graveheart’s jacket will be a little rougher than this, and in cooler colors, but it’s got the general vibe.
He rides a manticore mimic. I’m working on how to make it mechanical.
The mimic isn’t a hoverbike, but this particular design conveys the bulk of his machine. The general larger front half, the sleeker back half–this artist got it right.
And he carries revolvers. A couple of them. The hammers are shaved so they can’t actually hit the back of the bullet in the chamber. Curious…very curious…
While he isn’t bandaged like Joshua Graham, he does cover his entire body at all times, and he is devoutly religious. I had once thought of designing him this way but I didn’t want to draw bandages every time I did a picture of him. This led to the eventual rendering of a man in a mask, coat, and gloves regardless of the time of year.

The other focal character is MARY KATHERINE LITTLETON–aka STORMCUTTER. But I haven’t found all of the pics I want to use for her just yet. I’ll save her for next week.

Regretting the idiocy of my younger years

I’m guessing it’s a hallmark of getting older that you find something to cringe at when you reflect on your past.

For me this has happened a few times over the last couple of years, namely in the political realm. It’s never been more apparent than when Mitt Romney slithers his way into the news, or when literally anything about the Federal Reserve pops up.

So here it is (and I’ve said this on MeWe a few times) in brutal simplicity:

If I had a time machine, 2022 me would go back to 2008 or 2012 and pimp-slap younger me for ever making fun of Ron Paul.

(In my defense, a great deal of my opposition to Paul had to do with the maniacal cultish insanity of his loudest followers, but that’s not really fair to do. I just ran into them all the time.)

Anyway, this is revelant because this popped up online earlier this week.


I’ve got a book about the Fed that I’m gonna read this year. Review pending.

Channel Recommendation: Valliant Renegade

I follow a couple of pop culture channels on YT, specifically ones that report on movie industry news. One such is Valliant Renegade, run by a guy who’s worked in said industry for the last twenty years or so, and knows a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff going on with the major studios.

In his most recent episode he teamed up with a writer called WDW Pro, who runs a website covering the Disney parks in California and Florida. Not really my forte, but with the recent developments in Florida, I appreciated his expertise.

Basically this video covers why the FL government decided to strip Disney’s special status as a borderline independent state within Florida’s borders, how that special status came to be in the first place, and what Disney had been doing with it. Give it a watch.

Writing Update: Howling Won’t-derness

Have I griped lately about how I hate drafting?

There are three phases when I write a book, loosely-speaking. Once I wrap the research and worldbuilding, the writing itself comes down to outlining, drafting, and editing.

Outlining is easy and editing, while time-consuming, is where the tightening of the screws happens.

But drafting? Boy that sucks and I hate it, especially the first act, the first chapter. That’s where I’m at on Howling Wilderness, and the only way out is to grind until I get to Act 2.

Back at it.

In the meantime, check out the original trilogy here, or subscribe to the DreadPennies Adventure Hour podcast, where I’ll narrate the first three books before launching this one.

It wasn’t very long ago that Marvel was actually good…

I’ve got an idea for an eventual video about when DisneyMarvel peaked. No spoilers yet, just know that what I’m about to say totally fortifies the theory:

Netflix-Marvel’s Daredevil series was among the top 3 of trilogies that Marvel has produced on screen in the last 10 years. Maybe top 2. (The Captain America movies were all hits too, pretty much perfect across the board.)

I’m rewatching the series with my wife. It’s her first time through them all. Man alive, compared to what we’ve gotten in the last two years from Marvel, Daredevil is trophy-worthy. I’m not high on the violence, I am extremely high on the story and the values therein.

The first seven minutes of the first episode rapidly establish the key elements of Matt Murdock’s character:

–He lives with his (single) father, who cares a great deal about him. Jack Murdock is devastated when Matt gets in a traffic accident.

–He has selfless tendencies and has since childhood. Matt pushed an old man out of the way of a car accident, getting blinded as a result.

–He’s Catholic, though less devout than his father or grandmother. Nevertheless it’s a core part of who he is. Matt goes to confession and we get some effective exposition about why he’s there.

–He’s proud of his family heritage, specifically his father’s resilience, and believes that he (Matt) has inherited that quality. He’s willing to test the idea. Those Murdock boys have the devil in them.

–He’ll risk his life and well-being to make the city he loves safer, including rescuing helpless women and beating the absolute piss out of human traffickers. End the opening with the scene at the docks, where Matt knocks out three henchmen and lets the devil out on Turk Barrett.

Great writing in TV and film is so hard to come by in the 2020s, it seems. It’s not like all the Marvel stuff was great, don’t get me wrong–and among the Netflix properties, Daredevil was the only good one. My idea of great writing is writing that makes me want to write better, to write like what I’m watching. Daredevil passes that test in spades.

More as we make our way through S1.

Channel Recommendation: ThatUmbrellaGuy

In the last week or so I’ve discovered the channel for That Umbrella Guy on YouTube, who is both a comic creator and a news commentator of some sort. Kind of hard to quantify because he specializes in a few different things.

Mainly he’s gained fame for covering the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp saga over the last two years, to such an extent that he’s even named in the case by the defense (Heard).

He’s also got an Indiegogo set up for his ongoing comic series, which looks really cool, and I’ve backed it at the level where you get all three comics.

Anyway, his commentary is interesting and entertaining, and it’s brought me up to speed on the craziness of this whole ordeal pretty quickly. The trial has concluded its first of what is expected to be six weeks. I’m never one to follow tabloid sagas, but since it’s in a court of law, there’s a level of reality to this “reality TV” thing that is hard to fake.

Plus, TUG is jumping in with Rekieta Law in the coverage, who I also find entertaining and informative.

So if you’re inclined, do check it out.

So hey, “Sonic the Hedgehog” was surprisingly good.

I missed this one on its first go-round. Wasn’t all that stoked for movies in mid-2020 and there was still a ton of uncertainty going on.

But now, two years later, my boys are old enough to shut up in a movie theater for two hours, so I can get into an ongoing franchise with them. I showed them this trailer and said hey, there’s a sequel out now, so if you CLEAN UP YOUR FREAKING ROOM AND DO SOME CHORES we’ll have a Sonic weekend.

The original plan was to see both flicks. They only earned the first one, so we rented this off Amazon and watched it tonight.

Man, it was really, really good. Ben Schwartz did a great voice for Sonic, and while he’s physically recognizable, he doesn’t have the vocals that constantly distract you, like when Ryan Reynolds played Pikachu. James Marsden proves he’s still got some Hunk left in the tank after playing Cyclops 20 years ago (does the dude even age?) and while they had his character in an interracial marriage, they didn’t make any racial jokes or woke BS.

Imagine that! A movie without Current Day stuff or Social Issue jabs in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-something! Just two people of different races who are in love! HOW CAN THIS BE?!

And the story was strong too! I never delved deep into the Sonic lore as a kid–I never had a Sega, but the kid across the street had one, so I played it a few times. As far as I know, they were at least visually true to the source material, and gave us a quick introduction to the world without dragging it out or torturing the backstory. Sonic is a powerful critter, people will want his power, he should hide, or people he love will suffer.

Very basic superhero stuff, but with enough twists and tweaks to keep it interesting.

Solid humor, likable characters, and holy crap, Jim Carrey delivers a 90s-era comedic performance that is just beautiful to watch. Here’s a crazy villain who you’re not rooting for, you’re not agreeing with, but you’re still enjoying, because he’s fun to watch.

It’s no surprise that the first movie did well, and if they hold to this methodology, then I’m not surprised the second one made another truckload of cash.

I’ll post my two cents on that one after I see it.

Decoupling from Amazon: Used Books Edition

Shout-out to my boy Case and his brothers for putting me on, which is at least comparable to Amazon with its free shipping. The used book market is really good over there, but you can find new releases too.

In my ongoing effort to spend less money on Amazon, this one is a huge help. I bought my first order from them last spring and I’ve done it numerous times since then. Go check them out.

What am I working on?

I don’t have any artwork to share on this one yet, because it’s all sketchy blue-line stuff in the rough phase. However, you should know that I’m progressing on both the artwork and the draft for HOWLING WILDERNESS, the next exciting entry in the Engines timeline.

To give you guys a bigger picture, here’s the scope of said timeline.

Engines of Piracy: (1692 AD)

This is a planned trilogy that will replace an old idea I had for a pirate fantasy novel. I realized that several components of the story would work well as an Engines tie-in so I repurposed it as such. Given that it takes place almost 300 years prior to the Liberty trilogy, there won’t be much–if any–character overlap. The protagonist is a Spanish inventor named Tiberio Iniesta, and the antagonist is a British minor nobleman whose name I haven’t decided on yet.

I have other ideas to connect it to the main timeline. Historians will note the year, and when I tell you that it happens in Port Royal, Jamaica, I think you’ll remember a significant event that took place there. It still happens in this alternate timeline but for a very different reason. 🙂

Engines of Liberty (1984 AD)

This is the trilogy I have already written and published. I’ve decided to narrate it for the DreadPennies Adventure Hour podcast, as I will all of these books. Calvin Adler is the central figure of all three books, with love interest Amelia McCracken and antagonist Godfrey Norrington rounding out the big three.

Once upon a time I wrote a novella trilogy called Engines of Winter that took place 10 years after PATRIOT’S GAME, but it ended poorly and I need to rework it. In my head I’m treating part of it like canon, and if I ever get around to it, I’ll make sure to codify the relevant details into the timeline.

Engines of Justice (2034 AD)

This trilogy introduces Ezekiel Duncan “Ezzy” Trench, a member of the Federal Lancer Bureau, whose job it is to hunt down rogue magicians on American soil. He’s a descendant of one of the Rebel Hearts. He has magic himself but he’s approved for use due to his national loyalty.

HOWLING WILDERNESS takes place in this era but it’s not part of the Justice trilogy. HOWLING’S protagonists are a mysterious man known as Graveheart and a young Appalachee woman named Mickey Littleton. The villain’s name is Calico Hind. More as that one comes along.

Similarly I have another standalone called BLOOD RUST that’s about a disgraced bullfighter trying to win back his honor. Only it’s the Engines timeline, so this bullfighter operates mechs and fights against robot bulls.

Engines of Tyranny (2084 AD)

I have to be very careful with what I say about the Tyranny trilogy, because it concludes this alternate timeline in a way that I think is unique. This is the one that will really, flagrantly, definitely connect the Engines timeline to the rest of the DreadVerse.


The eventual goal is to release the individual stories in each trilogy as audiobooks and paperbacks, then release omnibus hardcovers with exclusive illustrations. Each one will have to be crowdfunded. Should be awesome.

Anyway, I’m working on HOWLING, and making it as strong as I can. It’s fun to write and that’s always the key element. Stay tuned.

Trying something new with Radcracker

Instead of doing several small episodes per week, I’ve decided to do one big episode of the main podcast. It’ll drop every Friday. Here’s the first one, and the next one lands tomorrow. They won’t all be 45 mins, but hey, sit down and turn on a game and listen to my opinions.