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.

5 Things I learned from a social media absence (#2 will SHOCK you!)

A week ago, President Russell M. Nelson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints challenged the youth to go 7 days without social media. I decided to join in because I am an assistant youth advisor in my local Church ward.

Here is what I learned from those 7 days without constant social connection.

5: It was harder than I want to admit it was.

Granted, our lives are generally digital these days, but I’ve only owned a smartphone for five years, and I wish I was disciplined enough to not feel like I was going through withdrawals by avoiding Facebook or Twitter. That should be a warning to me.

4: Most of what I consume on social media is pointless.

We tell ourselves we are staying connected and informed…but about what? And at what price? How often are we really just filling ourselves with negativity and anxiety?

3: My immediate surroundings are more important than a digital environment.

It’s one of those things you know, but don’t realize that you were ignoring it until you actively address it.

2: The sting of a championship loss by your hometown’s first-ever pro sports team doesn’t suck as bad if you don’t wallow in it.

Up yours, Washington Capitals.

Really 2: Most of what I post is only interesting to me.

And I think my tweets and posts are just me assuming that my thoughts and observations are interesting to others. Instead of putting them online, I started writing them down privately. Hey, that used to be called a journal!

1: You do a lot of productive things when you don’t waste time online.

I packed food for work each night. I got out of bed on time. I hit the gym in the morning. And even though my kids ruined my scale with bath water, I can tell I lost a little more weight.

Were those the things President Nelson wanted me to learn with his challenge? Probably not, but I bet he suspected a lot of us would figure it out.

The real takeaway is that social media can be good if you actively make it so…but if you coast, and if you don’t prioritize, it becomes so much idle noise. Noise that distracts me from my commitments to my family and to God.

Even though I wasnt perfect in my fast (I did check it from time to time near the end, though I didn’t post anything), it helped me see what I want to do with it going forward.

If you didn’t participate in it this last week, try it sometime. Go without something that you are hooked on. See how you can better yourself without it.

Then get back to work.

Writing Update, December 2017

Hi gang,

It’s been an unimaginably busy year for me, and yet somehow I managed to get three books finished. KILL THE BEAST came out in February, and THE HERO NEXT DOOR came out last week. The other book, THE KORBADELL JOB, is currently under review with one of my favorite publishers. It’s a middle-grade fantasy.

All this, and I moved out of state, bought a house, and started training for a new job. At least life isn’t boring.

That said, I could not have done it without my friends, the Hibberts, and my mom moved in with us too, which has been nice. Between that and a lot of praying, things have gone better than it sounds on paper.

For now, I’m spending my evenings in training for a career change. I’m getting ready to get out of trucking. It will take a few months, but I’m excited to find something that works better for me.

Here’s what’s next in the meantime:

DECEMBER: I’ve got three short stories coming out on Wattpad, in a trilogy called Engines of Winter. These are sequels to Engines of Libertyset ten years after PATRIOT’S GAME. I’ll post one per week  until they’re all live.

JANUARY: Currently the audiobook for KTB is under production. It should launch around this time.

FEBRUARY: I’ll be at LTUE in Provo, Utah. I’ll post my schedule when we get closer. LTUE is a get-together between writers, artists, musicians, and producers, and it’s one of my favorite symposiums (symposia? Damn Latin) up here.

SPRINGTIME: My next book is called HOMEWORLD, about an alien invasion. More on it as I get closer to it. It won’t be terribly long, more like KTB in length. This is a fun one.

JUNE: I’m presenting at FyreCon. More details when it’s closer.

SEPT/OCT: It’s my intention to publish another book here, but I won’t announce it until the summer. This is subject to change.

Granted, the right publishing contract could derail a lot of this…so we’ll see.

THE HERO NEXT DOOR is live!

Hi everyone,

It’s been an incredibly long journey with this one and I’m so pleased that it’s finally out there. The Kickstarter backers got their perks this week, and now the book’s available to the general public.

Paperback is here. It’s $14.99.

Kindle version is here. It’s $3.99, but if you bought the paperback, it’s only $0.99.

Thank you, everyone. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year not being as crazy as it has so far 🙂

I’ve slashed the Kindle prices on four books.

Hey all,

For $6 you can own the Kindle versions of the four books I have out right now. Each of them is fully illustrated.

KILL THE BEAST: a spoof on the classic love story with the arrogant woodsman as the protagonist.

(Engines of Liberty)

REBEL HEART: Calvin Adler trains to become a technomancer so he can fight British magicians.

SUICIDE RUN: After ticking off both sides, Calvin literally runs for his life and accidentally empowers his most dangerous enemy.

PATRIOT’S GAME: It all comes down to this…mages and monsters versus men and machines. 
Enjoy! I hope you’ll leave a review on Amazon, those are a huge help to me. Thanks all!

Guardians Vol. 2 gets a HISHE

The embedder sucks on my page, sorry. Click HERE for the video. 

The ineffable folks at HISHE worked their magic on what is so far my favorite movie of 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
No movie is bulletproof, and I suppose you can always find a hole in a plot. Still, none of this stuff occurred to me as I was watching it, because the writers and actors did such an ace job of pulling me into the story. The characters really drove this tale, which was ultimately about fatherhood and family. 
I could go on all day about the brilliance of James Gunn’s artistic choices, or how much heart he brought to a bottom-of-the-barrel roster of characters. I learned a lot as a writer by watching this movie, mainly that I really need to focus more on my characters, their wills, and their interconnected conflicts.
Quill had a competition with Rocket, a resentment with Yondu, a skeptical approach to Ego, and a romantic entanglement (with obstacles) with Gamora. Gamora had a slight power struggle with Rocket, a familial conflict with Nebula, and a different brand of contention with her own father. Yondu stole the show with his own story, showing that he was more than just a hired thief, and had made decisions in the past he was not comfortable with–decisions that revealed his own complex humanity. 
It’s easy to put that stuff on paper, but the actors brought it to life with great skill. Three months later I am still jamming out to the soundtrack because it evokes so much feeling. 
These Marvel movies might never have been intended to be as good as they’ve been–and we’re lucky the directors and creators decided to go for broke, because by and large they’ve succeeded.
Except for you, Thor Movies. You suck.