State of Jake: March 2017

This is a big month for me, friends. A BIG MONTH!

Countdown to my Writers of the Future workshop! I’ve been submitting to the contest for years now, and I’ve daydreamed about this opportunity to pick the brains of some genuine bestselling writers. I’ve got a list of questions as long as my arm, and a week to ask as many as possible. Wish me luck!

Turns out I didn’t win the Wattpad contest #BattletheBeast. I lost to a beautiful writer, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam who’s had stories appear in Black Static, so I don’t feel so bad. $10,000 prize money and having my short story filmed would’ve been cool, but I now feel like I’ve got a pretty great ice-breaker for when I meet Lev Grossman. I also learned what I’m going to call the $10,000 Lesson: Write for your intended audience! In this case, it means I should’ve written for the bottom line of TV production. If someone’s going to make a short film of your story, don’t create an elaborate set of ruins covered in dead bird skeletons. Understand budget. I also got some wonderful advice from the amazing S.P. Miskowski who said that writing for the stage taught her a similar lesson. If you’re going to have a ship come on and off the stage between scenes, you’re going to end up with angry stagehands. Budget. Practicality. These are the reasons George R.R. Martin left TV, but don’t ever forget he made a living at it for years, first. Bottom line, people.

My March edition of the Midnight Mix-Tape (Antarctica) can be found HERE. I’ve spoken with a few writers now who ask me why I’m writing for ThisIsHorror.co.uk and I always end up saying the same thing. I love those guys, and I believe in what they do. “But Jake, money flows towards the writer, remember? If you’re not getting paid, why do it?” Way I figure it, they’ve got more readers than my blog, right? If I can connect with even one person I don’t find another way, it seems like a good idea. Plus, when you review books you can get them free and get them early. Who doesn’t love free books?

But what about your fiction, Jake?

I’ve outlined a novel. Not the same, meh-way I’ve outlined before, with lines like “COOL SHIT HAPPENS HERE,” but I really took the time to knock out actually scenes and emotions and purposeful actions. I always thought that I could just wing it, and it has led to hundreds of thousands of words trapped in dead-end stories. I’ve got 20 years of almosts here, so trying something new is exhilarating, not stifling. The part of writing I like is making things beautiful (not that you get much of that here). Creating a story–a skeleton to build upon–means I can relax into the story and concentrate on the parts I love. Plus, it means no more dead ends. You’ll be getting Jake Marley novels soon. Stories that have been incubating for years, but are finally solidifying into something I can be proud of.

There’s going to be a lot more coming from me soon. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Love, Jake

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A Quick Interview Chat with Andrew L. Roberts

Here’s a video chat I did with fellow Writers of the Future Volume 33 winner, Andrew L. Roberts!

I don’t know how to embed videos yet, so here’s a weird long link!

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fandrew.roberts.946179%2Fvideos%2F10154608537628772%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Let me know what you think!

Jake

 

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State of Jake: Feb 2017

Hey, everyone! Life has been crazy-busy. Here’s an update!

I’m reviewing two books a month for ThisIsHorror.co.uk and loving it. There’s something so wonderful about getting to read a variety of authors, a few of whom I wouldn’t have even heard about before doing this. I’m mostly assigned books to read, but I’ve been able to request a few and Bob Pastorella has been very accommodating.

I’m also writing a monthly column! The second edition of Midnight Mix-Tape features Women In Horror! Great fuckin’ stories for people who like to have nightmares.

I’m ALSO participating in a community of psychos where we’re all writing a Story A Week! Here’s a LINK to Michael David Wilson’s article about it on LitReactor.

I’ve also had a story accepted in an upcoming ‘zine, which I will totally write more about when I know I can.

I’ve written my first piece on Wattpad. There’s a contest going on right now for SyFy’s The Magicians called #BattletheBeast. My entry is a story called, “Where the Birds Go to Die.” Give it a read, maybe a vote! Let me know what you think, here or there!

I am ALSO excited to have an Author Page up on Amazon.com! My wife, Jaime, has had one up for awhile, but I’m excited to join her. Take a stroll and check out Vol. 33 of Writers of the Future. My story will be in there! I promise! It’ll totally be worth the buy!

(If you check on Jaime’s author page link above, you can also see me as a male model for her book. Ha!)

This year is going to be exciting as hell for me. I’m going to FOGCon in March. I’m going to the Writers of the Future Workshop in March. I’m going to StokerCon in April. And I’m officially going to NecronomiCon Providence in August. I’m going to get to sign my first book. I’m going to meet SO MANY of my writing heroes and new writing friends. I’m going to be writing my ass off to climb that mountain. I just needed my foot in the door, friends, and now I’m busting through it.

Love to you all. If you see this in the future, I hope you can feel the excitement I’m experiencing right now. I’m finally participating in a world that I’ve spent my whole life reading about, and I hope that someone out there enjoys reading my stories as much as I enjoy writing them!

Take care, and let’s have the best damned 2017 we can!

Jake

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I am a Madman. Not at All Like on TV.

Madness isn’t just a disease. It’s also a gift you can be given.

Michael David Wilson, proprietor of ThisIsHorror.co.uk, has drafted me into his Story-a-Week Challenge for 2017.

I’m 2 weeks in, and I’ve got 2 stories under my belt.

50 more to go.

Fifty stories, man. And, on top of that, I’ve got a novel I’m trying to finish up.

And 2 book reviews due every month.

And a monthly article, also at ThisIsHorror. (You saw my last post, right? It’s short, but it’ll take you right to the Midnight Mix-Tape!)

Soooooo … all this to say, I’d love it if you’d wish me luck.

I hope that your 2017 will be as productive as mine!

Jake

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The Midnight Mix-Tape is Live at This Is Horror

So much has happened so quickly here. I’m reviewing books twice a month for This Is Horror, and now I get my very own monthly feature — The Midnight Mix-Tape!

Click though HERE, then come back and tell me what you think!

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My First Time … Doing a Book Review

Hey there, cuties.

(Several people just clicked away to something else. Ha!)

I just thought I’d drop in, keep this thing going, by saying that my VERY FIRST OFFICIAL BOOK REVIEW FOR THIS IS HORROR dropped this week.

That’s right. Jake Marley is an Official Book Reviewer. Having read a bajillion reviews all over the internet, I’d never once considered what writing a complete review entailed. I’ve written paragraph blurbs on Amazon and Goodreads, or I’ve talked about stories here by saying the literary equivalent of “Dude, check this out,” but I’ve never had to critically examine a book, even for 800 words, and then put my own stamp on it. I tried to write it as honestly as possible, which is kind of hard when you want to ingratiate yourself in a new community.

I think I did okay.

Check it out HERE, if you’d like. I’m totally going to link in any future reviews as individual blog posts on this site, if only so I have content here every month. It’s a little cheaty, but I’m a busy guy.

Love you all!

Jake

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The Art of Scaring the Hell Out of Someone: FRAGILE DREAMS by Philip Fracassi

front_cover_image_fragile_dreams

Horror is subjective, of course. It’s an emotion more than a genre. I’ve read horrific crime stories, horrific dramas, horrific comedies (take out the laugh tracks and prat falls in any comedy and the situations usually creep toward horror). But it’s a rare thing indeed to be scared by a piece of fiction. Grossed out? Sure. Unsettled to the point of sleepless nights? Yeah. But scared? Like visceral, heart-pounding FEAR? Rare indeed.

This brings me to Philip Fracassi’s Fragile Dreams. This novella, published by Journalstone, scared me, man. It put me in a claustrophobic nightmare and KEPT ME THERE for the whole ride. The horror built upon itself, and I found myself looking away from the page to gasp or to just take a breather before diving back in under the rubble.

Fracassi wormed his way into my secret heart, my safe place, and he found a raw nerve and started slicing away at it. Pennywise scared me in Stephen King’s It. The thing living at the end of the corridor in The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle scared me. The voices in the vents in Laird Barron’s “The Broadsword” scared me. And what happens during Matthew’s perilous job interview in Fragile Dreams scared me.

Thanks, Philip. I’ll be anxiously awaiting your next one.

Get your copy of Fragile Dreams DIRECTLY FROM THE PUBLISHER.

Or, find a local retailer to BUY FRAGILE DREAMS HERE.

Or, get yourself a copy from AMAZON.

 

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Flash Fiction, Novels, and Everything in Between

If April is the cruelest month, she should take some lessons from November. Man, this has been a fuckin’ ROLLER COASTER of a month. Every UP in my personal life seemed to coincide with a DOWN in the rest of the world. I’d get a bit of good news, and then I’d jump on Facebook to share it and see that another brutal, nasty tragedy hit someone close to me, so I tried keeping my mouth shut, tried keeping my cards close to my chest, and maybe slip a few morsels in between the chaos and madness of America, November 2016.

I’m heartsick about the world, but on that front I’m already doing what I can. I don’t have enough strength or patience, or emotional overflow to stretch myself too thinly, but I treat each new day as an opportunity to do what I can with what I’ve got. That’s personal life stuff. If I share it here than at best it sounds like bragging, at worst I’ll be judged for how little effect on the world it will actually have. No win, so scratch it. Moving on to other topics.

I wrote a flash fiction piece this month. 1000 words. It makes me uncomfortable to think that a story can be so concise, but if I start adding to it I’ll just fuck it up. Best to leave well enough alone. I’m going to shop it around, but if I don’t sell it by March it’s going up on the blog. I’m proud of it, and I’ll use it as a calling card.

I also worked on the novel. It seems everyone’s working on a novel, until you realize that you only THINK that because you surround yourself with writers. Turns out, most of the world doesn’t give a flying fuck that I’m writing a novel. They look at me like I say I’m training to climb a mountain, or that I’m really getting the hang of Latin. Outside of daily life, it seems like a ridiculous, pointless endeavor to a lot of people. They don’t know how to respond when I blurt it out, not realizing that I don’t really care what they say, I’m just getting used to the idea of admitting I’m a writer.

Do you know how fucking HARD that is? To do something so personal and private for so long, then stand up and say, “Yeah, I think that I put words together in pleasant and interesting ways to entertain others,” and NOT feel like an asshole? Seriously, do you? I’d love some tips.

But I get to say that. I get to put myself out there now. I’ve really worked hard at getting good enough at this to feel like the things I write are WORTH sharing, and even worth SELLING. I’m ready for what comes next. So I tell everybody I won an award for a story, even if I know they’re not readers. I invite the scrutiny, the odd-duck looks, the puzzlement. I also invite the over-enthusiasm of other folks who want to write, too, but they just don’t have the time. I get it, man. I’ve been there. We all have 24-hours, but I know I wouldn’t have time either if I tried to get enough sleep. (I’m a 5 hours a night kinda guy, if I’m lucky).

I don’t want to grow up to write short stories. I love them, and I’ll read them forever, and I’ll even write more of them in the future, but if I’m honest I know that I want to be a novelist. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how horror stories can’t carry entire novels, and I tend to agree, but I know what makes me fall in love with certain books that ARE horror novels. (And usually LONG-ASS horror novels, too!) It’s the rest of the book. The characters. The world. The lives they have that are interrupted by the horror. A horror novel, in my head, needs to be built as carefully and as PURPOSEFULLY as an epic fantasy. You need to know your world, even if it resembles the one outside your door, and you need to twist the perceptions of that world to suit the story.

At least, these are the conceits I’m working with on MY book. I don’t really know. It’s a theory that I believe will pay off. I’m kind of counting on it, actually.

I’m a writer. I can say that now. I’m also 38, and I’ve kept all of my early attempts private and quiet. I’m ready to kick open the door and share every word that I’ve bled onto the page. Not just in 1000-word or 4000-word chunks, either, but in novels. In stories that suck a reader in and give them something resonant and (ideally) unforgettable.

Wish me luck.

JM

 

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Each Thing I Show You is a Piece of My Heart

The title of this post is a rip-off of an extraordinary short fiction title by Gemma Files and Stephen L. Barringer. I’ve changed the last word, because I want the ether of internet madness to know that the following stories have become a part of me. They’ve entered my heart and helped form, not just into the writer I am, but into the person I have become.

All of these stories are online, and free, and bring me great joy. As a post-Thanksgiving post, I’ve decided to share what I’m thankful for. Stories. They do more than entertain and pass the time. They alter perceptions of reality. They make the world a more interesting place. I hope you can find something here that you enjoy, and that some of them might inspire you to seek out the authors and support more of their work.

“each thing i show you is a piece of my death” by Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer

“Skullpocket” by Nathan Ballingrud

“The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall

“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong

“Mr. Gaunt” by John Langan

“The Devil Under the Maison Blue” by Michael Wehunt

“The Ladies’ Aquatic Gardening Society” by Henry Lien

“Sing Me Your Scars” by Damien Angelica Walters

“The Thyme Fiend” by Jeffrey Ford

“Chapter Six” by Stephen Graham Jones

“Frontier Death Song” by Laird Barron

“The End of the End of Everything” by Dale Bailey

“The Loud Table” by Jonathan Carroll

“A Matter of Shapespace” by Brian Trent

“No Breather in the World But Thee” by Jeff VanderMeer

“The Night Cyclist” by Stephen Graham Jones

There are more stories that have changed or inspired me this year — there are ALWAYS more stories, as Uncle Stevie said in some book or another — but these were the ones I could find while procrastinating on my work-in-progress by writing this blog post. (Honesty, man.)

Thank you all.

Jake

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My Giant Bearded Face Makes the News

My first ever author interview, folks! Read it HERE.

There’s something a little unnerving about the experience of an interview, especially when your brain opts to go for full honesty over the way cooler lies of a rehearsed story. I just chatted away, then spent a day wondering if I botched it. Luckily, I think the article turned out pretty good. It reveals a few capital-T Truths about me (like — GASP! –I use a pen name!) and gives a weird shout out to my high school, but over all I’m happy.

Be well, y’all.

JM

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