Poetic Harassment

The powerful bloggers say “Post every day,”

But that’s a rate I can’t sustain

Still it sits in my head and I think I should say

Whatever pops into my brain.

That turns a blog into Twitter though,

And we have enough of that crap

The goal of my writing should be to spread joy

Not spout garbage takes in all caps.

Since I was a kid I have written these rhymes

For purpose of whimsy and humor

You can hate on these lyrics and call them a crime

I care ’bout as much as a tumor.

Buy all of my books and share with your homies

The wit of your boi Graham Bradley

I’ll be too busy with sequels to rap for you normies

If not, I’ll keep dropping this madly.

End of January Report

Sup homies

January was productive. Fell short of a few goals, started some habits, failed to start others, February is a reset button.

I did 10 episodes of the Brother Trucker Book Club Podcast, to which you should subscribe. Only great things in the future there.

Several old Engines of Liberty drawings are on my Instagram page, you can see them there along with new works in progress.

I am still writing SLEEPLESS HOLLOW, my intended release for October.

There are other work-based considerations taking up my time, but forward movement is still happening, stay tuned here for details.

Peace out.

80 years ago this Christmas, Karel Čapek died. So what?

Think about what sci-fi would look like without the term “robot” in it. Think of all the properties that would be vastly different, or gone altogether.

No C-3PO, and maybe no R2-D2 either.

Image result for c3po and r2d2 No Terminators, which probably means no breakthrough role for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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No Optimus Prime, no Autobots. No new Bumblebee movie this weekend.

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Nope.

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Sorry, childhood.

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Will Robinson died because nobody was there to warn him of danger.

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Virtually no career track for Isaac Asimov, as presently constituted. The dude wrote an entire library of robot stories.

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Not to say someone else wouldn’t have eventually come up with the idea of man-shaped machine that could think for itself, and give it a name that would become universal around the world, but we’re going off of what did happen in our timeline.

The writer responsible for this massive genre cornerstone was none other than Czech author Karel Čapek, pronounced “kuh-RELL CHAP-eck,” who died on Christmas of 1938. Here is his Wikipedia article, and a picture of him.

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The term “robot” comes from a Czech word for “labor,” which was a central theme of the play he wrote, Rossum’s Universal Robots, set in a future where the robots performed manual tasks for humans, then eventually rose up and took over, and achieved sentience bit by bit.

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The play is about 60 pages long, and I meant to have read it before doing this post, but work and life have taken my focus and it fell down the list of priorities. Nevertheless, as we humans like to celebrate round numbers of anniversaries, I wanted to give his legend a boost on his 80th.

Personally I’m grateful for his work. Transformers and Terminator both came out in 1984, the year I was born, and they’ve had a massive influence on my creative work throughout my whole life. Robots have always been my thing and I’m sure I’ll write a lot of stories about them in different ways.

Between Stan Lee and Karel Čapek, I’ve been thinking a lot this fall about what kind of mark I want to leave on the creative world during my time. It will be a lot harder than it was in their day; competition is stronger and more plentiful, and it’s hard to stand out. Will I ever revolutionize sci-fi and fantasy like these men did? It is my hope, and can only happen if I work at it.

I do have the great fortune to stand on the shoulders of giants in my time. Thanks for your stories, Karel Čapek. Keep resting in peace, and Merry Christmas to you all.

Now get back to work.

December writing update

Hey, Dreads.

Last night I finished a short story for an anthology about lesser-known fairy tales. Mine’s based on a Spanish story. I sent it in and now the waiting game begins.

The other project I worked on during November was a romance novel. There’s a lot of secrecy around this one, so no details here.

The most important update for today is that I am taking another crack at my fantasy epic, Brimstone. This is my “blast crew goes to Mordor” series and I love it more than most of what I have written.

It just had some flaws in the mechanics of the story, and I think I know how to address them now. It will be a good palate cleanser from these other two stories, and it will get a considerable monkey off of my back too.

I need to rearrange some chapters, rewrite others, and cut about 20% overall. This will be Graham at his Genghis Khan-iest.

Get back to work.

Heroes get remembered, legends never die.

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While it may be premature to call Michael Crichton a legend after ten years, the man was certainly prolific, productive, and proficient. I will always heap praise on his imagination as well as his technical knowledge, his zeal for research, and his ability to take that which is “commonly known to be impossible…”

…and make me believe that it is not only possible, but about to happen.

Time travel. Cloned dinosaurs. Alien probes that give us godlike powers by accident. Gnarly aggressive gorillas that really don’t want us taking diamonds from Africa. And that’s just a small sampling of his work that I’ve read.

The man had the #1 book, movie, and TV show in America at the same time in the 1990s. He wrote novels to pay his way through medical school because oh yeah, he was a freaking doctor.

When I hit seventh grade, and was just about tired of middle grade/young adult books (keep in mind that Harry Potter wasn’t a thing yet), I made the jump to big-time sci-fi so I could read THE LOST WORLD and then JURASSIC PARK. (Oops. Order, and such.)

Then I gobbled up whatever else of his I could, partly because I was much less picky, and partly because I didn’t know why I liked what I liked, only that I liked it, and I didn’t have this idea in my head that I only had time to read the best of anything. Some of his stuff wasn’t the greatest, but most of it was, and it fueled my drive to tell my own stories.

Granted, I made up a lot of stuff that he would have researched, but hey, baby steps.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of his passing due to cancer. It was significant enough in my life that I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news.

I’m just glad that he left so much of his time and work for people to enjoy even after his death, in the form of books. The fact that they’re good, and historically significant in American culture, ensures that many future generations will have the chance to enjoy them as I have, and that makes me happy.

RIP, Mr. Crichton. And thank you for your labors.

Ichabod Crane was not a sexy dude.

I wrote about this back in 2013 on my old blog, and it’s a good time to revisit this subject.

Washington Irving’s best-known tale is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, featuring lanky Connecticut schoolmaster Ichabod Crane versus the ghost of the Headless Horseman.

Everyone has heard of the story, due to its staying power over the centuries (Irving wrote it in the early 1800s) but Hollywood tends to butcher the important parts.

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The two most recent adaptations were Sleepy Hollow from 1999, wherein Ichabod Crane is a sexy supernatural detective played by Johnny Depp, in his pre-Jack Sparrow days.

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Later he was played by Tom Mison in the TV show “Sleepy Hollow,” which was a wild, wild departure from just about anything having to do with Irving’s classic (other than Ichabod, Katrina, and the Horseman.)

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Apparently Jeff Goldblum portrayed Ichabod in a for-TV version of the movie back in the early 1980s. This version of the character was closer to accurate, even if the story wasn’t.

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To date, the most correct portrayal I’ve seen is the animated Disney version from many many decades ago. Both the character and the story are directly adapted from what Irving crafted.

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I bring this up because I usually read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in October, and have for the past five or six years. Yesterday I plugged in the audio (I have the version narrated by Tom Mison, funnily enough) and as always, it’s a striking feat of language and emotion and storytelling.

This story always draws me in, and not just because Irving was a fantastic writer; I found out back in 2015 that I actually have a ancestors buried in the Old Dutch Church Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York. (Their names were Dirke Storm and Gregoris Storm.)

Naturally this has fueled my imagination for some time, and I’ve poured that fuel into a story idea that I’ve been kicking around since my twenties. I’ve tried tackling it before, only to fail, but this is the year that I can make it happen.

So my NaNoWriMo novel is called SLEEPLESS HOLLOW. It’s a modern-day follow-up to Irving’s original story, one that treats it all as historical fact, and accurately portrays the characters he created.

I won’t get into too many details for now, just know that SLEEPLESS HOLLOW is going to be my big release of 2019. It will be about a year before you guys get to read it, but check back here for updates and snippets as I write and illustrate it.

And if you need something to hold you over in the meantime, head over to http://www.gutenberg.org and grab a free ebook copy of Irving’s Legend. Fall in love with it like I do every time I read it.

There is more to be discovered in that sleepy little villa…

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.

 

 

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.

Characters First: Why “Incredibles 2” was a worthy addition to the first one.

It’s always scary when they make a sequel to a really great movie. If the first one was 100% great, the second one would only need to hit 90% for you to feel like it didn’t live up.

Fortunately, Pixar has enough cultural capital for people to give them credit in the sequel department.

DreamWorks, for example, sequeled the hell out of the Shrek franchise, and none of them were all that great. The How To Train Your Dragon series started strong, but the sequel wasn’t able to recapture all the magic, and the 500 spinoff shows have watered down the product. Still, the third looks promising.

Incredibles, though, knows what it’s about. Yes, there are superheroes, and societal issues, and Big Questions, but those are just dressing on the plate. At its core, it’s a family story.

Bob is the husband/father who hates his job and longs for the glory days when he felt more valuable to the world. Now he tries to fill that void by figuring out how to be the dad his kids need him to be.

Helen struggles with the opposite problem–trusting her husband to run a tight ship like she does at home, while also accepting the responsibility of being The Main Superhero who will usher in a new era.

Violet isn’t just the girl with invisibility powers; she wants more adult responsibilities, and a relationship with a boy. The fact that she has powers and has to hide them makes that really hard to manage.

Dash is trying to keep up with a changing curriculum at school, and idolizes his dad, hoping to live up to his standard of heroism someday.

And Jack-Jack…oh man. That baby. Anyone who has had a baby boy in their house knows what’s up. Even without any dialogue, and limited cognition, he imposes his will on the world around him. Jack-Jack steals the show.

I could go on and on about the brilliant angles and aspects of this, but really, you just need to see it and you probably will. The 14-year wait, while unconventional, was worth it, and your patience is rewarded.

I would rather have to wait a decade and a half and have them get it right anyway.

Send Graham to Writing Camp!

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Well okay it’s more a of a retreat than a camp, but there will be real hiking and stuff. But the important part is, there will be writing, and coaching and stuff, with a legit editrix who I really want to work with.

Here’s the skinny: we were able to pay for my dog’s leg surgery, but it’s left just about no wiggle room in the budget for a while. This retreat is one of the reasons I moved up to Utah, to improve my writing and my career, so it’s really important to me that I get in.

SO. I’m open to commissioned artwork. These make great customized gifts (see the gallery below.) The larger pieces are 18″ x 24″. I can do them for $75 apiece, and I’ll include shipping in that. Please note that for this promotion, $75 will also get you an illustrated background, not just a foreground. 

I also have copies of the Engines of Liberty books on hand, as well as about 18 copies of THE HERO NEXT DOOR, with a blank sheet in the cover for a custom drawing. Contact me for prices on those. Many a reluctant teen reader has jumped into these books for hours of fun.

My email address is grahampbradley [at] gmail (dot com.)

Talk to you soon!

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My sister requested a female Star-Lord for her friend’s birthday.

 

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Another gift for a friend, with her two oldest kids as Winter Soldier and Captain America.
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Illustrations from “KILL THE BEAST”
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More illustrations from “KILL THE BEAST.” My friend Danielle was the female model.
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Commission for my friend, with her oldest as Batman.
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Same friend as the Batman drawing, this is her youngest.
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Commission for my friend Case, a drill operator on the blast crew.