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.

Open to Commissions Again

Hey gang, I’m taking commissions again. Gotta save up cheddar for some stuff, you know how it is.

For the last few years I have drawn Christmas and Halloween cards for my family in different styles (most recently with digital colors.)

Now I’m open to doing them for you! I started out doing colored pencils and water colors and am now equipped to do digital drawings that you can print off on your cards, or use online.

$25 per drawing. Dreadpennies [at] gmail is my address. Hit me up.

“Not your fault” this song is stuck in my head.

Full confession: I have no idea what this song is about, it just sounds like a guy who really likes this girl he’s with, but he freaks out over stuff and she’ll probably leave him, so he’s trying to head her off at the pass.

That said, I dig the sound. I’ve never really been a fan of Awolnation but they have a unique flavor to them. That or I just don’t listen to a lot of that genre, whatever the heck it is.

State of the Dread: July 2018

I usually have projects going on a few fronts, and am trying not to spread myself too thin. When I was setting annual goals in January, I wanted to have a book out by now, but some other demands have landed on my lap and taken priority. Nevertheless, here’s what I’m up to:

ART: I have a commission on deck that I haven’t been working on because of my day job and other stuff. Once this other stuff (see “career” below) is taken care off, that’s the next big thing. Keep an eye on my instagram, @GrahamBeRad.

WRITING: So hey, good news! When the “Ready Set Write” folks on YouTube read one of my pages, I was unknowingly entered into a monthly contest to get a five-page critique, and I won! So I have them looking at the first five pages of a different project.

I’m attending Lisa Mangum’s writing retreat at Capitol Reef next month too, which gets me another five page critique, so I’m having her look at different pages of the same project, due out in November. This book will also have an audio part, narrated by yours truly. #FridayFighters

FITNESS: Not as explosive as it was in 2012 when I trained for a mud run back then, but I’m determined to keep it up even after my Spartan Race this month. Once again, outside life has been derailed by my…

CAREER: I’m still studying to make a position change at work. I’ve failed the test twice and I really want to pass it on the next attempt. But even if I were to pass it like, TOMORROW, I am sure I would still have to be a trucker for a little while because of some jobs the company has going. Nevertheless, passing the test will free up my time and energy for drawing, writing, and gettin’ dem gainz.

 

 

Subway Canyon hike, August 2008

My first summer in Provo, I entered a lottery for a permit to hike the Subway Canyon with two of my friends. I’d done the hike once before as part of a Scout Camp, but this go-round would be different: we’d start from the bottom and go up, then come back down, instead of dropping in from the top (because we needed to have our car at the bottom.)

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All the camping spots were full when we got in, and it was late, so we didn’t bother pitching tents on the ant-covered ground. I slept on the roof, while Shane and Eli reclined the seats in my Subaru and left the hatch open.

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At the entrance to the park.

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This was a foot bridge near the bottom of the trail, covered in debris from a flash flood before we got there.Sub Canyon 008

Shane and Eli playing Nature Boy.

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Eli was a wrestler from Texas, grew up on cattle ranches and whatnot. I spent that summer working out with him and Shane (who was an exercise sciences major.) Most nights at the gym we were pounding iron.

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The main appeal of this hike, for me anyway, is that you spend almost half of it swimming.

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There are holes like this all the way down.

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This is about as high up the trail as we could manage. Once you hit the waterfalls, it’s time to turn back.

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Some of the pools are really deep.

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And the rock formations are amazing. I don’t know how many tens of thousands of years it took to do this, but it’s been going on for a heckuva long time.

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The way back down is a lot more fun.

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Lots of natural water slides.

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I stopped taking pictures during the last two miles or so, because we were out of bottled water and the sun had taken its toll on us. It was pretty miserable once we were away from the water, and when we got back to my car it had ants crawling all up in it, so we spent the rest of the drive back to Provo squashing bugs and talking about the upcoming semester.

This was about year after I had read Louis L’Amour’s autobiography, EDUCATION OF A WANDERING MAN, wherein I learned a truth that has made a great deal of sense to me:

Adventure is just a romantic name for trouble. I’m glad I have friends to get in trouble with me.

Project Wūgòu zhū: The Dirt Hog

Last month I got a motorcycle, my first in over a decade. Admittedly there’s some anxiety over me getting on a bike again, after what happened last time. (Long story short, I did a stupid and crashed and it hurt real bad for a few months, and also it was expensive.)

Anyway, I’m not spending a lot of money on it yet because I have other priorities, but I will pick at it here and there and post updates as they come. It needs a little work and I need a full set of riding gear before I get it up and going.

As for the name, “Wūgòu zhū” is Google’s literal translation of “Dirt Hog.” I had a friend check it but she wasn’t 100% sure. I hope it’s right and that it doesn’t actually mean something like “swine genitalia” or whatever.

The most obvious problem when I got the bike was the broken front wheel fender, which is held to the underside of the front fork assembly by three bolts with 10MM heads, nothing crazy. I Googled around in search of parts, but since it’s a Chinese bike, it’s hard to find anything official over here in the states.

However, I did come across ChinaRiders.net, a forum of enthusiasts for Chinese bikes in the Americas, and they’ve been really helpful so far. One of them even sent me a spare fender he had lying around and didn’t charge me for it. Super helpful of him. I got it installed once it arrived.

Next up I need to replace the clutch perch because the mirror mount is broken off, so I only have a mirror on my right handlebar. Between that and getting the matching mirrors, it should cost about $30, so I’ll get around to it later. It sounds like most of the stuff on this bike can be replaced with generics.

But I do plan to design some vinyl decals and place an order in the near future, so maybe some decorative stuff will be my next move.

Reading Roundup, July 2018

What up. It’s the second week of July and I’m almost at 60 books read for the year. Some stats:

Average pace: 2.2 books per week, slightly inflated because:

Did not finish: 14

Print/ebooks: 17

Audiobooks: 42

Best-of-year candidates: 7

As you can see, I’m much more openly embracing the “bore me and die” mantra when it comes to not finishing a book. I’ve learned more about my own writing by reading so much, and ditching a book I don’t care for.

Basically I like to read books that move, and have energy. And I need to write the same way.

Two months of summer left 🙂

Ten Years On

It’s been a great two days at Fyrecon so far. I’ve done one presentation and five panels so far, with two more panels and another class tomorrow. Things are humming right along.

Tonight I’m decompressing in my living room, thinking back to where I was in 2008. I was on my own for the first time in earnest. Renting a bedroom in a rundown house in Provo, with intermittent utilities, friends out of town, a dating life that was deader than Nixon, and too many bills to pay for how much money I was making.

My happiness came from three things: reading, writing, and lifting weights with the only two guys I knew who didn’t go out to sell Comcast that summer.

Stuff broke. My car. My A/C. My hopes and dreams for grades and girlfriends. By summer’s end I would abandon my college track and embrace the working life whole-hog. I occasionally snuck out of the house to go for a run by myself, but mostly I juggled jobs while trying to make ends meet.

I worked for APX Alarm. Life was that rough.

In the spirit of counting one’s blessings, today I am really damn well off. And I need to keep that in mind when I start focusing too much on where I’m failing.

I haven’t yet passed that test at work. I spend most of the time driving the worst of the big trucks we have. I hate my dispatcher. Cash always seems to be short.

But.

I have Schaara. We have a house. We have two boys who are crazy, but we love them. I make a decent living and soon I will make an even better one. I’m presenting at writing conferences. I have readers! I have books out! I finally bench pressed 250 this year!

So here I sit, on my couch in my living room, listening to my generally quiet neighborhood, but for the passing cars every now and then, and the chirping crickets who are desperate to get it on.

My life is blessed, my prayers have been answered, and though my ambitions live on, I am content.

Despite setbacks, I will release a new book this year.

Ever since the launch of REBEL HEART in 2014, I have released a book every year. SUICIDE RUN came in 2015, PATRIOT’S GAME in 2016, and 2017 saw KILL THE BEAST and THE HERO NEXT DOOR come into the world.

2018 ended up being busier than I expected, and the projects that I wanted to finish won’t get off the ground in time. I have a book that is ideal for a Halloween launch, and I just won’t be done for this year. I also have about 8 or 9 straight months of illustrating for another book that’s already finished (but in need of edits.)

Still, I wanted to publish something this year. This week, I finally figured out what to do. The working title is THE FRIDAY FIGHTER.

For the last two years, I have launched a short story on Black Friday, satirizing the unofficial holiday, in which I have never participated. I really don’t care for the Black Friday brouhaha, and every year it gets crazier. That prompted the first story I did in 2016, which then necessitated a sequel in 2017.

For 2018, I will write a third story, one that wraps up nice and tight, and then of course illustrate it. Expect to see it early-to-mid November.

More details as we get closer. But yay! I will publish again in 2018.