2022 Reading: Finally got another one

OOF. Took me a few months, but I got another book that blew my mind.

I’ll save the details for the end of the year episode, right now I just want to say this: it’s a bold move to get to the thirteenth book in a procedural series and change up the storytelling mechanism in such a way that could potentially alienate longtime readers.

Johnson has done a few books before that had alternating flashback scenes. I think the fourth or fifth Longmire book dealt with repercussions from his time in Vietnam, and we got glimpses of his war service.

THE WESTERN STAR though is a bit of a dual-case story. Walt was up against a murderer in 1972, and had to face the possibility of him being released from prison 40 years later. We see the case play out in real-time in the past as well as the drama surrounding the release in the present.

And the last 10% of the book was just a gut-punch like you wouldn’t believe. Bold, bold, bold. And for this reader, it worked. I’m glad I’ve kept up with this series.

The 2022 Best-Of list now has 4 books on it. Hoping to get to 10 before the end of the year, but I won’t force it.

Summer Reading List

Admittedly I’ve been in a sort of funk with my reading–I made the mistake of stocking up too heavily on non-fiction and I don’t have enough good fiction to break it up in between.

But I’m getting back on the wagon and knocking out some cool books this summer, starting with:

Another in a long list of history books about the westward expansion, specifically tied to Kit Carson and his exploits.

This dude was a one-armed Civil War veteran who explored the Mountain West. And I get to read it in his own words.

Haven’t red Heinlein in years and I need to fix that.

Cole and Anspach have been nuking the indie publishing game for almsot a decade now. This is the start of their “not Star Wars” series. I’m due to retry it.

First book in a prequel series that covers the origins of the Dune saga.

Gonna be a great summer, cats.


Some of you bought print copies of HND from me recently, and I’m just getting them out in the mail this week. Thanks for your patience.

If you still want one, I have three copies left at $10. That’s cheaper than Amazon, and I’ll draw something in the front for you. Send me a message at dreadpennies [at] g mail dot com.

Man…I really wish I was a full-time writer. So many books I want to get to, including the eventual THE HERO UPSTAIRS.

Nick’s gonna have a pretty wild ride in college.

Production Schedule Update

The more books that I cover for www.UpstreamReviews.com, the more I realize I still need to have some skin in the eBook game. Despite that fact that I neither read nor enjoy eBooks.

Plenty of other people do, and I need to cater to them. I need their money. I need to make it my money, so that I don’t have to keep taking truck money.

So I’ve got to make some eBooks of the DreadPennies Adventure Hour titles.

In order to keep my sanity, I’ve got to track which projects I’m working on, and more importantly, which projects I’m delaying until the former category is done.

While I format some of the Adventure Hour stories for eBooks, I’ll draw things for each story and share them on Insta, just to boost the signal for them. But the books themselves won’t be illustrated, not at first.

CURRENT PROJECT: Howling Wilderness, a new tale in the Engines of Liberty universe.

PENDING PROJECTS: Once HW is finished, I will get eBook versions going on the following titles:

The Guild of Eldritch Adventurers. I’ll add some extra chapters to this one, mainly by breaking up the existing ones, since it’s 40k words but only six chapters. The flow is important. It will get a newer, better cover.

Fool’s Silver. The chapter flow on this one is fine, the cover art will get better too.

Sheriff Porter. Better cover art. I really want to illustrate this one, but I’ll save that for a crowdfunded limited edition or something.

Homeworld. Improved cover art here, but this one also kind of requires illustrations because it’s a “dossier” kind of story. There are visual aids that go with a lot of the stuff inside it. So it’ll be farther down the line.

Answerable Courage. (Currently unpublished from Adventure Hour.) I’ve really struggled with this story ever since I got deeper into the actual history of the Pilgrims. The truth is better than anything I could make up. That being the case, I’m going to lean hard into the changes I’ve made to the history, and just put in an afterword telling people to read that stuff.

Ridley Scott did it with Gladiator, Scott Westerfeld did it with his Leviathan trilogy, and they both made great stuff. I think the revamped version of this story will probably tie into the Engines universe somehow, because that’s how I roll.

I got my Battle Brick Road package

Dropped a new video last week about this comic that I backed on IndieGogo. It launched in 2020 and the campaign just cleared $100,000 gross.

Cool concept, very cool artwork, all around great effort by the creators. What have I been saying? You’ve got to love your work if you want others to love it too, and these guys clearly loved this project.

Because of how IndieGogo works compared to Kickstarter, you can still buy a copy of this even though the campaign is multiple years old.

Not sponsored or anything, I just want teams like this to keep winning.


Is there anything to look forward to in entertainment?

Definitely not an invalid question. I used to have several books per year on pre-order, but so many series have let me down that I stopped sinking money into it. Lockwood? Fifth book sucked. Arc of a Scythe? Third book was ass. Red Rising? Ignore everything after the original trilogy.

So what am I looking forward to? Well, in books, there are a couple of things:


This will match the Illustrated LOTR that I got this year. Beautiful book. The illustrations were done by Tolkien himself. Legend. Comes out in November, mine’s preordered.


Dave tweeted out the pic this weekend. Excellent cover art, and I have enjoyed books by both of these men, so I expect that a collaboration between the two of their sizeable brains will be very engaging. Dunno when it comes out so stay tuned.


He always does. He’s Larry. There will be more Forgotten Warrior, more MHI, all that stuff. He’s the one author that I trust to constantly provide me with good fiction.


I love the Drinker. I tried his other series and didn’t care for it due to content issues. This one sounds awesome though. I’ve got the audio on preorder.

I mean, that all right there is pretty cool.

Are there any good movies coming out?

Short answer is no. I’ve got zero hype for the new Doctor Strange. I don’t trust Disney at all. I’m already hearing that it’s been banned in China so they either included Tibet or gay people in it, two things China hates almost as much as it hates black people. Disney will bravely tell Americans what their education laws have to be, but they’ll bend over and take it for Chinese dollars. They don’t get mine.

Disney’s also making a live-action Chip N’ Dale: Rescue Rangers, but it has Seth Rogen in it, and he’s a giant piece of manure, so yeah, no dollars for him either.

There’s that Top Gun sequel, but it’s a thirty-year sequel. It’s just going to be a rehash of the first one with Maverick as the instructor instead of the student. The cinematography will be cool, I don’t trust the story though.

Jurassic World: Dominion…man, Fallen Kingdom was fun but stupid as hell and full of holes. I have no expectations for this to be any better. But I did just show my kids the first movie so if we catch up on the series, we’ll see.

Lightyear? More openly homosexual propaganda. I understand that this isn’t the fault of the animators or the people who worked on it outside of the writer’s room…so maybe turning this movie into a bomb will make them push back against said writer’s room. Stop. Pushing. Sexuality. On. Kids.

(Then again most of Disney’s customers are childless millennials who spend half their paycheck on cat food? Who knows.)

Thor Four: More Thor. Ha. Ha, ha ha ha. No. Just no. Stop.

Black Adam. Hey, everyone’s tired of superhero movies AND everyone’s tired of The Rock, so if we make The Rock a superhero, maybe that’ll cancel out?

Hocus Pocus 2. Up yours, Disney. This movie didn’t need a sequel. The Sanderson sisters are dead, they can’t come back, otherwise the first movie was pointless. And it’s just gonna be woke anyway. The main present-day characters are all chicks.

Black Panther 2 STAAAAAAAAHP






State of the Dread: May 2022

For the final week of April I was on vacation. It was nice to stay up late and sleep in and do more of what I want to. Considering retirement now.


I wrote 16,000 words in HOWLING WILDERNESS. It’s coming together. It’s a predictable hot mess, but yeah, it’s coming together. Not going to put a deadline on this one. I’m tired of deadlines. I’m tired of not controlling enough in my own life and my own schedule so I’m just going to do as much of it as I can, as quickly as I can, and go from there.

Maybe if I actually sold books once in a while I wouldn’t have to make all my money off of trucking 50+ hours a week. Whatever.


4 books total, 2 print, 2 audio. I didn’t read as much in April. Spent a lot of time listening to podcasts. I also tried a manga that I’ve heard of and the very first page was the protagonist male plowing some chick who turned out to be a huge demon monster, so yeah, I bailed on that. I’m back into some good stuff this month, including more Tolkien. Why is there so much bad writing out there?


I finished this really cool drawing of me with my Durango as an Autobot. My next project is for a YouTube video.


Radcracker Podcast posts every week, except for this last week. Didn’t record while I was on vacation. EofL audio podcasts are coming eventually. Don’t know when, don’t care.


Latest video is here, I talk about some Sanderson books. Managed to add 10 more subscribers this month. Thanks you guys.


Didn’t exercise and I ate like garbage. I’m going full Nazi on it this month and I’ll report back on Memorial Day. I don’t care, I DO NOT CARE.



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.

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.