State of the Dread: December 2021

May be an image of 1 person, beard, nature and tree

There’s a lot that I did better in 2020 than 2021, namely production on this site. I’ve had sprints where I scheduled posts every day, decided it was too much work, and then went months without anything at all.

At the end of those long stretches I always regret neglecting the site. It’s kind of my main thing. When I get yeeted off of every other platform due to being too spicy and/or based, I’ll need this to be my fallback. So I guess I’d better maintain it.

Here’s the skinny for now:

GENERAL:

I spent the first two weeks of November in Pennsylvania for work. No laptop, so little production, but I took my phone and managed a decent first draft of my current WiP, called SIGNATURE WOUNDS. I got through a round of edits on it and sent it to a friend for beta reading, once that gets back and I’ve implemented his feedback, I’ll get it recorded and put it on the podcast.

Other than that, work has been very demanding, what with it being the holidays. We’ve had a few guys quit because the time commitment is high. Sucks, but I get it. I did 50 hours in 4 days last week alone. I’m also making more money than I ever thought I’d make as a nurse, before I dropped out of college, lol. GO BE A TRUCKER.

WRITING

“State of the Dread” will return on a monthly basis.

The aforementioned SIGNATURE WOUNDS will be followed by a very short story in an anthology edited by Rob Kroese, whose books I enjoy a ton. I’m gonna stay mum on the details until it’s ready to go, there’s just a hard deadline on it so I’ve got to put it ahead of other stuff.

After that, the big project for 2022 will be the first installment in my Brimstone world, called THE KORBADELL JOB. It’s a blue-collar epic fantasy, a sort of Lord of the Rings meets Avatar: The Last Airbender. I’ve pitched it before as “blast crew goes to Mordor.”

Unlike earlier installments on the DreadPennies Adventure Hour, this one will be released in episodes of 30-45 minutes every week until the first one is done, just like you’d tune in for a TV show. That’ll give me time to generate some art for hype.

I also write book reviews over at UpstreamReviews.com. Excellent site, great people there.

READING

For the most part I’ve stuck to my goal of reading less in 2021, and I’ve only got 6 or 7 books on my “Best of the Year” list right now. I’m slightly disappointed, because that’s a success rate under 10%, but whatever. I expect that in 2022 I will keep this pace.

I’ll read fewer books, but they’ll be longer and more substantial. I actually finished DUNE in 2021 and got extremely into it. I like that feeling, I’ve really missed it. And there’s a ton of source material for me to get involved in down the road. My wife has read EYE OF THE WORLD a few times and I might take another swing at The Wheel of Time as a result.

VIDEOS/PODCASTS

This is a category now! Haha. Thanks to everyone who subscribed to my YouTube channel, I want to make more of this stuff. Nothing has gotten near as much traction as my Mayflower Pilgrim video, so it’s not the biggest priority in the world, but once or twice a month I’ll throw something up on there.

As for the podcasts, I think I’ve figured out what I’m doing there. DreadPennies Adventure Hour will be the primary vehicle for audio fiction, while The Radcracker Podcast will cover book and movie reviews, as well as thoughts I’ve had during my nonfiction reads. I’ve loved sharing that stuff since the days of the Brother Trucker Book Club podcast. It’s easy to record that stuff on the fly or when I’m multitasking, so it doesn’t take a massive time commitment.

DRAWING

Haven’t done as much of this as I might have liked, and I haven’t read a lot of the art books I’ve acquired in the last few years. I think one of the main reasons is that last year I did a Draw Every Day challenge, and this year I didn’t. So for 2022 I’m going to go through the exercises in my Etherington Brother books one by one, and post my progress on Instagram.

I’ve been focusing more on drawing my own stuff, for better or worse. A lot of guys on Insta get popular by drawing Marvel or Star Wars stuff in their own style, and I don’t want to do that anymore. I drew a Jeep with a Captain America paint job, thinking I’d do that for the entire Avengers lineup, and after one vehicle I asked myself What the heck are you wasting your time on this for…and didn’t have a good answer. So whatever I do, it’ll be strictly Graham Bradley/Dreadverse stuff, unless I’m telling a joke.

FITNESS

Got back into weightlifting for a few months in the spring, before life went ape-nuts crazy at work. It hasn’t stopped going ape-nuts crazy, I’ve just decided not to be a twit about it and get back into the gym at least twice a week, plus endurance exercises at home with my sons.

The other big thing is I’m going to get on the Intermittent Fasting wagon again. I’ve had a lot of success with that in the past and need to stop making excuses. Here’s a good book I read on the subject.

OTHER

Look, life is always going to be busy, and sometimes that’s a legit reason, other times it’s just a bad excuse. Proper planning prevents poor performance. Or as a great man once told me, “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” And he’s rich as h*ck, so he’s right.

Another thing I’ve decided to go cold turkey on is swearing. I really struggled with that in SIGNATURE WOUNDS, because the MC is an Afghanistan veteran, but I don’t care. I create work to magnify my talents and create an alternative to the mainstream, which sucks butthole. I guess that’s a form of profanity even though I didn’t say the naughty word. Progress, not perfection. I hold the priesthood, I should be better on that front.

Anyway, that’s where things are at for the final chapter of 2021. I’m going to work and enjoy Christmas. You do the same. Be rad, drive safe, see you out there.

Memento Mori and Production

A couple of YT channels I follow covered the recent death of manga artist Kentaro Miura, the creator and writer of long-running series BERSERK. Here’s YBZ’s video:

And here’s one from Clownfish TV:

Both channels brought some unique perspectives that touched on things I hadn’t put into words, but had felt pretty deeply for a while.

Ya Boi Zack is a retired soldier and Marine who isn’t far from turning 50 years old. He’s had a long and turbulent life, bouncing in and out of the armed forces, being married and divorced multiple times, and fathering a few kids. His experiences mirror mine in very few ways, and contrast with them in many more. I usually find his perspectives insightful and informative.

Given the amount of death he saw up close in the Middle East as a soldier, his views on the amount of life we all deserve are tempered by the fact that anyone can die at any time, and all the time we have is the all the time we get. This is an old idea in the Western world that I first recall studying from Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor. Applied properly, it would prompt us to be judicious with the time we have, and the efforts we expend in mortality.

As for Clownfish TV, their video was more about the work required to create great art, and how you have to build your entire life around it, and if you’re successful at it there’s some monetary success, but so much time goes into it that it’s hard to have any left for yourself. I kind of learned that lesson when I illustrated the Engines novels, because the art took way longer than the writing did (and a lot of it hasn’t aged well.)

Everyone wants that success but not everyone wants to work for it the way that Miura did. And who can blame them? He was only in his mid-50s and he was working on Berserk for more than three decades. I guess the point is you have to love your work first, love it enough to do it even if it doesn’t make you a million dollars, and use the time you have in your life for that which you deem most important.

For me, if I ever fail in my duties as a husband and father, it won’t ever matter how successful I am as an artist. I hope I never lose sight of that.

HOMEWORLD is now live on your podcast machine! Listening is mandatory.

It’s finally ready! I’m excited to share this one with you. I mostly recorded it on my phone in my car whilst parked at work before my shift. Good acoustics in there, better than in my office, and doing it in chunks helped me to get the pacing and intonation right.

I’ve had this story swimming around in my head for years and years, so to finally have it out in the open is a relief. I hope you guys like it.

Patreon is here, to back the podcast financially.

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State of the Dread: November 2020

No photo description available.

The Podcast

The DreadPennies Adventure Hour is underway! Thank you guys for the response on SLEEPLESS HOLLOW. It was a lot of fun to record. This month the adventure is WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE. Here are the links to the podcast on the big three platforms. Subscribe and enjoy!

DPAH on Google

DPAH on Spotify

DPAH on Anchor

The Artwork

The #DrawEveryDay campaign continues. I was able to knock out Inktober (because I’ve kind of been doing it all year) and had a lot of fun with it. Check out my Instagram and hit the follow button.

The Writing

The main focus of my writing is to generate content for the DPAH podcast. I have some chapters to edit for WAC, so I’ll take care of those over the next week or so, and then I’m into editing the Adventure for December. I need to roll back the drawing and get back on the writing so that I don’t record more than my buffer has in store.

The Reading

WINTERDANCE by Gary Paulsen, THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner, and OVERSTATED by Colin Quinn are on the list of good books I’ve read in October. One is a nonfic about sled dogs, one is a really great fantasy caper, and one is a comedy roast of all 50 states.

Now I’m delving into some classics, like 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA because I haven’t touched that one in years. Jules Verne in one of the earliest voices in sci-fi and worth the attention. As for audiobooks, I’m doing a lot more podcasts right now, so I’m only picking at the odd book here and there.

The Rest

That’s about it, really. Just enjoying the seasons and trying to find ways to spend better time with my kids. You should too. Tune into the podcast, see you out there!

New Episode Monday! SLEEPLESS HOLLOW # 4 0f 4

This is it, gang! The end is here! Where did Josie end up? What do Silas and Kay do? Does Ichabod get away with it?

Find out in episode four!

And here is some artwork 🙂

Josie watches Silas die in 1776. I drew this one on a sketchbook in a pickup truck during a night shift.
The gang heads out into an exciting new future.

The latter part of the book didn’t have as much art as that middle part. 2019 threw a wrench in my plans pretty hard, what with family trials and the like, so I had to pare back the roster.

Hopefully in the future I can illustrate a few more pieces and release an “author’s preferred edition” or something. For now, I have plenty to get around to.

Episode one is here.

Episode two is here.

Episode three is here.

Find the show on Spotify, and tell your friends to subscribe!

Available on Apple Podcasts as well!

Behind-the-scenes podcasts are available to Patreon backers here.

Thank you everyone for tuning in this month! Next week, WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE kicks off!

New Episode Monday! SLEEPLESS HOLLOW, part 3 of 4!

Episode 3 gives us chapters 11-15, including the incredible chapter 14, “The Woman In White.” This is perhaps the most action-packed chapter of the whole book.

(But don’t worry, episode 4 will have all of the really satisfying endings.)

And now, the artwork!

The Woman in White brings the ghosts of Brom and Katrina to meet Crane.
Crane tells Brom and Katrina that he’s going back in time to undo the Legend.
The fully-armed Headless Horseman runs interference for Crane.
Left side of a two-page spread called “The Horseman’s Menagerie.” Silas protects Josie from the ghosts of savage animals, as the Headless Horseman rides into battle on a newer, more vicious mount.
The right side of “The Horseman’s Menagerie.” Kerstan gets in on the action, and Kay goes ‘full metal awesome’ while trying to take down the Horseman.

Episode one is here.

Episode two is here.

Find the show on Spotify, and tell your friends to subscribe!

Available on Apple Podcasts as well!

Behind-the-scenes podcasts are available to Patreon backers here.

Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion!

New Episode Monday! SLEEPLESS HOLLOW, part 2 of 4

Here it is, folks! Episode 2 is live, and that puts the first ten chapters of SLEEPLESS HOLLOW onto the airwaves.

https://anchor.fm/dreadpennies/embed/episodes/2-Sleepless-Hollow–Episode-2-ek9c5q

I didn’t post about this last week, so here’s the art from these chapters:

Kerstan watches as Josie goes to work.
Silas watches over Sleepy Hollow from the high school.
Silas jumps into the resurrection machine with Crowe.
Part 1 of a 2-page spread, the soon-to-be-Headless Horseman charges Silas…
Silas kills the Horseman in 1776…

You can find episode one here.

And the first behind-the-scenes audio episode (28 mins) is available for backers on my Patreon page!

Thanks everyone! Tell your friends!

State of the Dread: October 2020

Hey gang! Sorry this one is a week late, that has been life in a nutshell. Lots going on!

The Podcast

The biggest news of it all: the Brother Trucker Book Club has wrapped up for now (I haven’t ruled out future episodes, but it’s not on the docket for the foreseeable future.) Schaara and I batted cleanup last week and the final episode went live with much success.

BTBC: Apple Spotify Anchor

And of course, the DREADPENNIES ADVENTURE HOUR is up and running! With an audio performance of SLEEPLESS HOLLOW by yours truly! You can now get the entire audiobook for free by subscribing to the podcast. Tell your friends about it, and please consider backing the Patreon! Behind-the-scenes episodes will post on Fridays.

DPAH on Google

DPAH on Spotify

DPAH on Anchor

Also, Welcome To The Faro will conclude this month as well. We’re almost to the end of my mission. Plenty of great listening out there for you!

WTTF: Apple Spotify Anchor

The Writing

This has taken a backseat what with having to record audio for the podcast, but since I just finished the final episode of SLEEPLESS, the next three weeks are focused on finishing the script for WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE, which will launch in November.

The Artwork

Once again, I am participating in Inktober! Check out instagram.com/dreadpennies for my daily entries. I’m behind by a day, but I’ll catch up.

I want to address the so-called controversy surrounding Inktober this year. Apparently someone has beef with Jake Parker, the founder, and tried to get his forthcoming book canceled over it. I don’t know the details of this beef, and I’m not going to dig it up. The beef has entered the legal arena and I assume will be settled there. For the time being I continue to support Jake Parker as I have for years, given my familiarity with his good work and the work of his good colleagues, such as Will Terry.

It concerns me that this trend of accusing, dividing, and taking sides based on Internet Hype has reached this specific realm of public creativity, especially seeing as how it coincides with an attempt to hijack Inktober and replace it with a very similar idea controlled by someone else. (There’s a new hashtag circulating, I’m not going to say what it is, but it’s a clear attempt to steal the success Jake has had, and it’s annoying to say the least.)

I’ve seen this play out in a number of other areas over the last several years; somebody makes something, it becomes a success, somebody else hijacks it and turns it into a shadow of its former greatness, and we’re left muttering over how “X used to be cool.”

Kind of like how “Honest Trailers” used to be funny, before it started parroting dumb cultural talking points from the public sphere. I don’t want to see that happen with Inktober so I’m going to wait for all the fact to come out, and, like I said, continue to participate in the meantime. High school is over, you guys. Let’s act like it.

The Reading

Hoooo boy, my reading took a huge kick in September, haha. Mainly because I wasn’t listening to anything, I was training for my new position at work. I think I read maybe 2 or 3 books in the whole month. Things are picking up now, though.

The Rest

That’s about it. I’m adjusting to the physical nature of the new gig, mainly how I come home sore and exhausted everyday, but my pants are all a little looser and will continue to do so. Kind of awesome how I got this job right around Pie Season, I don’t have to worry about gaining 20 pounds this year.

That’s it, get back to work.

State of the Dread: September 2020

Check out the mascot! This should be a “football and school are both back” month, but because some twit back East had to eat an undercooked bat, here we are, uncertain of our otherwise certain things.

The Podcast

I’ve finished recording all episodes of Welcome To The Faro. It’s been a great trip down memory lane. Now I get to focus on my next project, the DreadPennies Adventure Hour.

The Brother Trucker Book Club is still in production, but I can’t say it will last forever. One of my biggest weaknesses as a content creator is that I try to do too much and end up burning out.

As much as I have loved reviewing books on the pod, I may just switch to another, simpler format for that later. Once the DPAH launches I want it to be my flagship production. Speaking of that…

BTBC: Apple      Spotify      Anchor

WTTF: Apple     Spotify      Anchor

The Writing

As much as it pains me to do this, I will not be releasing a physical book in 2020. But! I will still be publishing. WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE will be the second story on the DPAH podcast, broken into episodes all throughout November.

This has become necessary as a result of stuff in my home life and my day job. My career was affected by Big ‘Rona and that’s forced us to take on a bunch of other stuff at once. I will spare you the details.

Suffice it to say that if I tried to finish all the art that I want in that book, it wouldn’t be good, and some would be left out. So I want to take my time on it. I can still record the audiobook for the podcast, and meet the 2020 deadline.

The physical book will come out in 2021, fully illustrated. After all, the Pilgrims set sail in 1620, but the First Thanksgiving was in 1621. That way I hit both dates!

The Artwork

I finished my series on Presidential Puns. That actually got me a paid gig designing a logo for an old friend, so that’s cool. Exactly what I’m into. Make sure you’re following me on Instagram to see what I draw every day.

The Reading

You can expect me to slow down a little on this too, as I am not going to be plugged into my phone as much, listening to books all day long.

That said, I am being more picky about my reading in general, and more nonfiction is taking the stage. Maybe I’m just getting bored with so much genre fic, very little of it transcends its peers.

I like to be blown away when I read something.

The Fitness

I’m still doing push ups. I’m about to get a much more physical position at work, so the burn is going to be legit. All the rust and cobwebs will be gone by the end of September. I seriously cannot wait.

The Rest

Be excellent to each other. And stand up for yourself a little more. Let people know that you love them, but they don’t own you. Own yourself.

Are you doing everything you can?

This morning I thought about a man that I haven’t remembered in a while. Back in the days of my old blog I wrote about him once or twice and he deserves to have his story told a little more often, or at least, to have my part of his story told.

His name is Jim Heller, and he was an artist. He was also almost completely paralyzed; anything from the neck down was immobile, except for very slight movements in his right hand.

It was those movements that allowed him to become a precise artist. I got to see him work every now and then because we went to church together, and our ward would divide up service assignments to help him out.

On the 2nd of every month, my brother and I would ride our bikes down to his place and make him dinner. This was always a bit of a process because Jim was a slow eater. He would wheel his electric chair into the doorway of his kitchen and tell us what to pull out of the fridge or the cabinets, then have us nuke it in the mike.

We had to cut everything up for him and feed it to him one small bite at a time. He had to tell us every time he was ready for another bite, or a drink through the straw. It took a few hours.

Not that it was an imposition or anything; he was very easy to talk to and we had great conversations. Jim loved movies too, so we would put on a John Wayne flick, or a cheesy sci-fi, or a WW2 film. I watched Anaconda and Tora! Tora! Tora! while feeding him. The only time I’ve ever seen The Ghost In The Darkness was while I was spooning peas into Jim’s mouth. (Awesome movie, btw.)

In my teens I didn’t have a lot going on that wasn’t scheduled for me by my parents. Go to youth activities at church, go to piano lessons, go to Boy Scouts, go go go. When I had time to myself, I spent it ignoring my homework so I could sit at my drawing table while blasting KoRn or Offspring on my CD player.

The lack of a full schedule made it easy for me to visit Jim. I don’t remember seeing it as an imposition or anything, because what else was I doing with my life? Goofing off and daydreaming about girls who would never date me because I was the weird kid?

No, go take one night in thirty and feed someone. That’s a kind of service I don’t do any more. I’m too busy, too dialed in on my own stuff. Plus, obviously, I’ve got a wife and kids now, it’s just different.

But back then, I think it was really good for me to see up close the life of someone who had to rely on others for absolutely everything. Jim had a nurse come by who helped him with his medical stuff, his pill sorting, his bathing and dressing, getting in and out of bed, all that. He always had to have his remote on his tray and his LifeAlert right next to it.

One night he called his neighbor at 2AM because there was a bug chewing on the soft skin under his arm and the pain was excruciating. Jim tried to ride it out without calling and it just got to be too much.

Think about that next time you have an itch and you scratch it and it goes away. Think about a life where you couldn’t do that for yourself.

I never once, in the three or four years that I regularly visited him, heard Jim gripe about his condition, or pity himself. Dude got diagnosed with whatever had put him in a chair in his 20s. Doctors said he would probably die in his 40s. He made it to his 60s.

And to the utter extent that he was able, he worked to support himself.

Every time we came by, we wrapped up the night by setting his art supplies out on the tray on his wheelchair. Pencils and brushes with long sticks attached. Paint pallets with just a drop of this color here, a slight mixture of these two there. Throw some water droplets on to loosen up this shade here, I don’t need much.

He painted scenery, animals, westerns, faces. Indians and mountain men, cowboys and pioneers. Wolverines battling wolves for a kill. Lynxes in the wild. Temples. Christ. His friends.

A few times a year we would load his stuff into his big old van, then help him onto the ramp so he could get inside. Hook his chair to the floor with ratchet straps and drive him to convention centers so he could sell prints and originals. It was heavy and repetitive, and tiring in the Vegas heat.

Yet the whole time you’re doing it, you’re saying to yourself, what am I going to do? Cry about it to the guy who can’t walk? Can’t take a leak without help? Come on, man. Even when I was just a low-ambition punk@$$ from Henderson I could figure that part out.

There are still times that I feel bad about not being there when he died, in July of 2001. I had missed our appointment on the 2nd of that month because I finally had things on my calendar. I had a job (tire tech) and a sport to train for (cheerleading).

He called our house and asked if I was coming. It was 6:30. I apologized profusely, I can’t even remember what I was doing that night but I was busy. He said NBD, he would call his niece, she was over there all the time.

I said I would make it up to him next month. He died about two weeks later.

I made it a point to sing at his funeral. Felt I owed him that.

Often I make the mistake of assuming that everyone has had the same life experiences I have, that they’ve known the same kind of people and have shaped their expectations of life accordingly. I have to remind myself that that isn’t the case.

We’ve all had unique struggles, they just happen in the same vein sometimes. And there will always be someone who has it worse than we do–not that it’s a competition. The point is that someone else’s trials can help you realize not only your blessings, but the limitations you are putting on yourself.

Especially today, in the age of competitive victimhood, with social media being such an easy platform for you to scream your hardships into the void of the world, looking for validation.

When that temptation arises, think of men like Jim. He dealt with those demons at some point in his life, I’m sure of it. That kind of stoicism is usually a destination, not a starting point, and he got there.

I for one am very grateful that he did, and for what he taught me in our short time together. Men like that ought to be remembered.

Learn from that. And get back to work.