May 2020: State of the Dread

No photo description available.
The Mascot of May!

We are 1/3rd of the way through the year! Here’s what’s up:

The Podcast

The BTBC Podcast is on hold until mid-July at the earliest. I’ve wanted to take a break for a while, and I’ve been more excited about a different podcast idea, so I’m tackling that instead. The WTTF Podcast (Welcome to the Faro) is a new podcast wherein I recap my experience as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Find it on whatever platform you use for podcasts and subscribe! I’m really proud of how it’s coming together so far.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, possible text that says 'Welcome to the Faro! Missionary Training Center A Chronicle of My Mission to Barcelona, Spain'

YouTube!

I was only able to record the first 5 chapters of REBEL HEART last month. You can find them on my YouTube playlist here. Right now the view count is pretty low, and filming/uploading is time-consuming, so unless more people are interested I will be leaving that alone for now. Too many irons in the fire. (A frequent problem of mine.)

The Artwork

Image may contain: 2 people

I’m up into the 120s on my #draweveryday challenge. This huge commission was for my friend Lisa, who’s been having a rough go of it even without the WuFlu coming at her. Here’s a bunch of her friends (including yours truly as the Winter Soldier Brother Trucker) wearing Marvel skins.

Image may contain: drawing

This one, though…this one I’m very very pleased with. It’s only a small portion of the cover for WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE (coming November 2020!) but man alive, I LOVE digital drawing! Steelpunk Myles Standish is so much fun to write and draw, too.

As always, follow my Insta for the daily drawings and sketches.

Writing

I’ve been alternating between two short stories that will be the inaugural fare for my StoryTime podcast. The first one is HOMEWORLD, the second is TORERO, both are working titles. I won’t have interior art for them for a while, but I will have cover art before I narrate either. Each one will comprise about 3 episodes of 30 minutes or so. More on that as it develops.

By the end of May I will have a ready script for HOMEWORLD, as I think that’s the stronger of the two stories, and the closest to the greenlight.

Fitness

You may not care, but I do.

My shoulder is back to about 95%. The rest is just details. I can hammer out pushups like before–hell, even better than before, as I don’t have any pain in that shoulder. Pull-ups are another story and I can do about 2.5 before my form collapses, so I need to focus on that direction to get my strength back.

By the end of May, I will weigh under 205 pounds.

Okay now get back to work.

Bad@$$ Artwork for Sleepless Hollow

I’m 5/12ths of the way done with the art for my next book. Follow me on Insta and Twitter (@DreadPennies) for updates in real-time.

Just knocked this one out Saturday, biggest piece in the book.

Silas and Josie.

Kay, the ghost hunter.

Kerstan, a ghost who helps the good guys.

The Headless Horseman with shotguns, riding a mammoth. Because yolo.

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.

What makes a story truly land for me

Long story short: you need a big question, or a big concept.

Every time I come back to this scene ag the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the strength of the concept is just superb.

Q tells Picard that exploration isn’t a physical thing, limited to the five senses. It’s exploring existence and opening your mind up to the seemingly impossible.

That’s where faith finds its place in the universe. I love this exchange. I hope that when I tackle story ideas of my own, I’m able to succinctly describe big truths and concepts like this.

It’s what makes truly good art.

Around here, we celebrate Dread-ful years

Woot woot, sawlid Dad Joke.

2018 sucked for a lot of people in a lot of ways, myself included. That’s just life. Then again, none of my family died, we’re all healthy and I still have a job. Not too much to complain about here at DreadPennies.

January was chill as all hell, no pun intended. I did my first ever author event at a library in Tremonton, Utah. It was an excuse to get out of town and have a quiet anniversary weekend with the wife.

February I taught at LTUE about how to wreck different vehicles in different ways. Also somebody hit my dog with their car so I hope their car wrecks.

March saw more gym time because I was a massive fatty and needed to stop the train. I didn’t lose any weight but I benched 250 for the first time.

April Avengers: Infinity War hit theaters, and the Internet was instantly flooded with dusty people memes. What a movie. Also I sold a short story.

May At work we landed a huge contract for a job to clean up a diesel spill in the desert. I would spend most of my summer driving boxes full of dirt across Utah. Easy easy money.

June My friend Ryan gave me a motorcycle. The baseline for friendship leveled up significantly.

July We took a family trip to Yellowstone for our birthdays, and I saw a bison up close for the first time! Also, the acidic caldera smells a lot like an oil refinery. Nature is pretty bad for nature.

August I finally lost weight when the wife made me do Jillian Michaels workouts in the mornings. Then a routine pipe job at work ended up dislocating my shoulder. Not my best summer ending, more on that later.

September We all welcomed the fall with open arms, and there was much anticipation for a change in the Sunday schedule at church. Also, as the dirt job slowed down, refinery work picked up. I started 60+ hour weeks.

October I did Inktober for the first time and it was a ton of fun. Even got paid to do it! I was on standby at work and had my sketchbook in the truck.

November I got paid to write! Same sitch as Inktober. Also, after looking forward to Thanksgiving for months, I got sick with strep for the weekend. Ugh. But I took the wife to see The Scarlet Pimpernel so the weekend wasn’t a total loss.

December For the first time in a long time, I think I finally found real meaning in the great Christmas holiday, without being super bummed that it was over. God bless us every one (said without irony.)

And now begins the resetting of the apocalypse clock, as 2019 rolls in and I take the long view of what I will accomplish next year.

Will I bore you with it here?

Hell no.

Just get ready for adventure. Fill your life with it. Live for something more than the grind. Strive. Struggle. Achieve.

And get back to work.

My Best Reads of 2018

With 6 days to go, my stats for the year are as follows:

Total books read: 138

Print/eBook: 38

Audiobook: 100

Re-reads: 14

Did not finish: 27 (adjusted total 111)

And now for the best!

Calvin, by Martine Leavitt. A schizophrenic boy is convinced he can make his visions go away if he crosses Lake Erie on foot and meets Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson.

Iron Gold, by Pierce Brown. Fourth of the Red Rising series, first in the follow-up trilogy. Gush gush gush.

Thunderhead, by Neal Shusterman. Second in his Arc of a Scythe trilogy, and worthy of its incredible first installment. My only knock was that it felt like the third act of the story was derailed by a need to add allegory to the 2016 US presidential election. Still, Shusterman told his story well, as always.

Shatter, by Aprilynne Pike. Second of two in AP’s excellent future corporate regency tale, billed as “Marie Antoinette meets Breaking Bad.”

MHM Sinners & Saints, by Larry Correia and John Ringo. Counted as one because of the series factor. I love Correia’s MHI world, and was shocked to find that I love Ringo’s take on it…almost more than the original. (Don’t shoot, Larry! I’m sure you agree.) A great tie-in trilogy with a stunner of an ending.

Quiet, by Susan Cain. Superb book on introversion, what it really is, how it manifests, why it is a benefit to society, and why all those Facebook pages kissing up to it are crap. Read this instead.

Only Human, by Sylvain Neuvel. Though this trilogy experienced a sophomore slump, the third installment brought it back around to greatness. Weird and unique, but ultimately brimming with imagination and an interesting view of life.

The Vanishing American Adult, by Ben Sasse. Did you watch those insane hearings this summer for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh? I mean before all the bogus rape accusations. If you remember the one Senator in the chamber who was saying anything at all that made sense, that was Ben Sasse. Read this book.

The Fantasy Fiction Formula, by Deborah Chester. Recommended to me by Lisa Mangum, this was a belter of a book that will one day make me a million dollars.

Dry, by Neal & Jarrod Shusterman. Hey, it’s Neal again! Dry talks about what would happen if southern California suddenly ran out of water. Crazy book, made all the more horrific because its premise isn’t that far off. While the actual occurrences are debatable, the self-interested human nature depicted in it is not.

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.

Image result for schwarzenegger terminator

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

Image result for optimus prime and autobots

Nope.

Image result for robocop

Sorry, childhood.

Image result for iron giant superman

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

Image result for will robinson robot

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

Image result for isaac asimov robot books

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.

Karel-capek.jpg

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.

Image result for karel capek rur

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.