It’s Never Too Late to Get Better

Keep trying. Keep learning.

Being brave means trying even if you’re afraid.

You never fail until you’re dead. Quitting can FEEL like failing, but that’s only true if you never ever try again.

It’s perfectly okay to quit today and try again tomorrow.

Sometimes you need a break.

I wonder how many dreamers are weighed down by reality because once upon a time something didn’t go the way they had hoped, so they stopped trying? What if they woke up tomorrow and tried again?

That’s my everyday right now. The dreams start when I wake up and I do my best to make them my reality until it hurts too much to keep going. Then I let it go. I surrender to the difficulty and survive until the day is done. Then sleep, then wake, and before I stand up, I dream. In my perfect world, what am I today? A writer? An artist or an architect? A musician or a mathematician?

Today I’m a writer.

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It’s a Scary World . . . Someone’s Gotta Change It.

I’m an ally. No doubt. Black Lives Matter. Gay Pride. Trans Pride. I love you all.

Whenever something awful happens in the world, I think about the many, many people who I’ve known and loved who’ve been struggling with things I can only imagine. I am empathetic and sympathetic and I do what I can to be a supportive, loving person.

I recently watched TRIGGER WARNING with KILLER MIKE on Netflix (absolutely GREAT TV, btw) and he spoke a lot about the black dollar. I love that, and searching out black-owned businesses and black creative voices is important. Supporting those businesses and voices is important.

Diversity isn’t anything I’m afraid of. I welcome it, and I believe in the future I see on the streets. Peaceful protests are beautiful, especially when it is fueled and continued and inspired by the atrocities of authority on display in our country.

The people risking their lives to stand up for what is right and good in the middle of a global pandemic are the true and noble heroes of our country. They don’t carry guns. They don’t attack out of fear. They don’t build walls to keep out or hide themselves away in safety bunkers, but they coexist, they rise up, they speak in a voice that needs to be heard by everyone. There has never been so much direct and instant documentation of experience as there is right now, and the people who are facing their fears and putting themselves in harm’s way for something greater than themselves are going to be the voices of our future. They will be the leaders. They are on the right side of history.

Black lives matter.

I love you all. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay strong. This is how we change the world.

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20/20, But Still Wearing Dream Goggles

Progress last year: Wrote a book, shopped it around, discovered that the only way to combat the limbo of waiting during the Great Agent Game is the write more stuff. I wrote two short stories (sold one–more on that to come later this week!), and I spent most of the past three months trying to make a novella work that decided it wasn’t ready (someone once said that writing stories is like juggling chainsaws, and if that’s the case than this particular set of story-chainsaws turned into rubber chickens on an upswing and anvils once they crashed back into my palms–that story’s shelved for another year!)

Hope for THIS year: Sold a story I wrote last year (did I mention that details would come later this week? I did? Rad.) so I hope to sell a few more of them! And while I feel a little discouraged at the cost of time and hope and anxiety, I would LOVE to win at the Great Agent Game, and find someone who enjoys my work AND knows how to sell it. (Because this is something I’m learning, folks–there are going to be agents who love your words but have no idea how to SELL the stuff, and I’m grateful every day that they were honest enough to admit as much to me.) I’m also working on an all-new, all-different sort of novel (with a co-writer, even!) and I’m keeping the dream alive by plotting, developing, outlining, musing, note-taking, world-building, dreaming (and day-dreaming, and nightmaring because I’m a freakin’ HORROR writer, too!) a slew of new worlds, new words, new stories to try and put out into the world.

Good stuff of 2019 (presented here stream-of-consciousness style, mostly for myself to look back and go, “Hey, at least it all wasn’t nightmare politics and fear!”): The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. Knives Out. Killing Eve. Encore! on Disney Plus (The show is weird as hell, but for my money it’s worth having a new streaming service WAY more than The Mandalorian.) The Imagineering Story. My kid being a straight-A student, a well-adjusted middle-schooler, and a kind person. The Immortal Hulk. A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar. Full Throttle by Joe Hill. The rock weather shelter at Cape Perpetua. Wounds by Nathan Ballingrud. Growing Things by Paul Tremblay. And a ton of other stuff . . .

Things to do in 2020: Keep a better record of things I enjoy. Try not to die in a possible nuclear war. Finally get around to seeing Watchmen.

If you’re still around, then I’ll let you in on a secret . . . this is an experiment. I don’t really believe in New Year’s Resolutions (mostly because the only one I’ve stuck with consistently every year is KEEP WRITING and I feel like that one’s easy because I’ll dry up and die if I ever stop!) but I made one this year, and that resolution was to be more social, more open, and more consistent with the content on this site. Even if I just randomly spout a bunch of nonsense for a few minutes once a week. I mean, I’m going to try harder to make them interesting next time, but let’s face it–this is the first day my kid’s gone back to school since the middle of December, and if you’re a parent, you get it. I just need a recovery day from the winter break, man.

I’m Jake, and this is going to be a great year, if the world can be molded and shaped by my imagination and willpower alone. Happy New Year, everyone!


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The Future’s Weird

Long time, my friends.

I’m officially an Oregonian now. I love the trees and the fact that there’s water and I no longer go to bed fearing earthquakes are going to shake the world and swallow me up the way I did in Southern California. Life has improved a thousand percent, and so has the writing.

It’s funny, the way stories can grab you. I worked all of 2018 on my last book, and here I am four months into 2019 and I’m almost done with the next one. This new book feels like the most “me” I can be. The Marley-est. I’m not crazy about that word, but it fits. I’ve opened a vein, and I feel like I can bleed out these kind of stories for the rest of my life, if I want. It’s a whole lot of fun (and monsters and blood and honest, real folks caught up in bad situations.)

I’m stepping up my game here in Lane County, OR. Writing every day, reading every day, pursuing the dream. I’m all in, and grinning. Maybe it’s the rain, or the shadows between the trees, but I feel like I’m in a place I was always meant to be. I’m a little bummed that it took me this long to get here, but I can’t wait to see what happens next.

I’m on kind of a social media blackout at the moment (you’d be surprised at how much work you can get done when you’re not sucked into the Twitter/Facebook vortex) but when I get those sales and the words leave my computer and go out into the world, I’m sure I’ll jump back on to shout from the treetops. I never expected this to be my future, so I’ve stopped guessing at what comes next. All I know is that I’m excited, enthusiastic, and working my ass off to get as close as I can to where I want to be.

That’s all I can do, right?

Be well, my friends. We’ll talk soon.


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State of Jake–Summer 2018

My friends,

For the past seven months I’ve been working on a novel with the working title The Nixie. I’m proud of the work I’ve put in, especially while maintaining a time-sucking day job, and I’m excited about getting the rest of the story complete. I’ve written quite a few unfinished, unpublishable novels in the past, but unlike those other attempts, The Nixie had a beginning, a middle, and an end before I even wrote the first chapter. My outline was pretty barebones, highlighting enough of the story to know that it would be a satisfying journey. It was a sketch, concept art for a massive production, and it is developing into the Marley-est thing I’ve ever written. It’s taken roads I hadn’t even dreamt of in January and it is filling out to be better than I had hoped. As of right now I’m at 75,000 words, and the end is on the horizon. I want to have it finished by mid-September, right before my 40th birthday. I work well with deadlines, so that’s the one I’ve given myself.

When I started this project in January, I was hopeful that I’d be able to bust out a first draft by March, April at the latest. Life gets in the way of intentions, and I’m still not finished, but I’m closer. My first draft has gone through several layers of writing already, adding details and motivations, adding substance and gravity to the skeleton story. It’s coming along nicely, even if it’s taking longer than I wanted it to.

I’m writing my heart out. I’m dreaming bigger and bigger each day and I’m hanging my dreams on the stories I’m creating, which is what I’ve always done, and which is what brings me joy in even the darkest times. I hope you’re doing what you love, too. I hope it delights you, and it makes you smile in waiting rooms or when you’re stuck in traffic. Don’t forget to dream as big as you can. I know I won’t.

More good news coming soon!



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The State of Jake–Jan-Feb 2018

Hi, everyone!

I just thought it’s past time to update the site, especially because it’s getting pretty close to Writers of the Future time! I’ve had a chance to talk with a few of the new winners, and they’re very excited! I’m looking forward to reading their stories, too!

Story-wise, I’m getting some positive feedback on my story, “The Weight of Her Smile” in Unnerving Magazine #5, and even though I only have one review on my little novella, THE POST-APOCALYPTIC TOURIST’S GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES I’m excited that it’s a 5-star. Thanks, Robin!

I was also informed about the new Writers of the Future website, and it has a feature I’ve wanted for a LONG time! Links to the winners! You can check it out HERE and then click right back to this page! (I did this accidentally and found it hilarious. It will probably be less funny to you.)

The lovely folks at Writers of the Future put together a pretty good video of me chatting away, too. YOU CAN CHECK IT OUT HERE (I’d embed it, but your pal Jake doesn’t really know how.)

As far as new work goes, I’ve been experimenting with a new way to write longer pieces. As of yesterday and today, I’m very happy with the results, and I’m hoping to write more about it here if I can actually accomplish my goal. (Honestly, though, I’ll probably write about it if it’s a spectacular failure, too!)

Thanks for checking in, my lovely friends! Until next time!


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Having Survived the Death Flu, Jake Says Happy New Year

Welcome to 2018!

While many of my friends have done 2017 retrospectives, all I have to say is that despite our country being dragged to hell, my personal writing goals soared last year. I met many of my favorite writers and editors, and I made so many incredible new friends, many of whom seem like family. I’ve written two novels this year (the first was trunked because it was a bummer, the second is percolating before it gets another draft). I took some amazing classes, sat at some amazing panels, ate some amazing dinners with creatives and readers and award-winning authors. If Jake of 2016 had ANY IDEA how awesome 2017 would be for me, he probably would’ve spent a little more time in the gym to get his cardio up so he could keep up with the new pace.

I sold a story in 2017 to Unnerving Magazine (and I’ll make sure to post about it when it’s available) and I was lucky enough to be part of Stephen Lawson’s POST-APOCALYPTIC TOURIST’S GUIDE project. I was so damned sick when it was released in December that I barely shared it, and certainly not as loudly as I wish I would have. Writing this story, THE POST-APOCALYPTIC TOURIST’S GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES was one of the strangest experiences I’d ever had with story. I tried to match the tone of the other writers, and I added WAY MORE action to the story, and guess what? That sucker MOVES. I’m very, very proud of it, and I’m excited to be part of the crew. If you’re interested you can check it out at Amazon HERE! If you check it out and want to let me know, or review it, I’d love to hear from you!

Right now, I’m working on my next novel. I’m not outlining it as much as I’m designing this sucker from the ground up, using everything I’ve learned this past year and mixing it with ideas I’ve had bouncing around for the better part of the last decade. I’ll be updating you all when there’s more to share.

There’s so much more to say, but I’m out of time. Gotta pick up the kid from school. So let me end with this:

Every day you have the opportunity to make the world a little better. Remember to laugh, to love, and to take care of yourself as well as those around you. Read a lot! If you’re creative, then take the time to create something! I appreciate you taking the time to visit here, and whether you know it or not you’ve helped to make this the most exciting and creatively-fulfilling time in my life. Thank you so much!

‘Til next time!


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Happy September 16th!!!

Oh, yes. Three exclamation points.

Here’s what I posted on Facebook today. I just copied and pasted it here because I’m out of computer time today, but I needed a record of this:

“One year ago today I got the phone call from Joni that I was a 3rd quarter Finalist for Writers of the Future. It came after a summer of grieving and house repairs and I hadn’t written a word in month. It floored me. I couldn’t stop grinning. This was the first bit of validation I had as a writer outside of friends and family, and yeah, it floored me.
If I could talk to that guy and tell him what the next year of his life would be like he wouldn’t believe me, and he and I both have pretty active and wild imaginations. I get overwhelmed with how incredible this journey is and how so many things have changed for the positive, but what really gets to me most, what blows my mind, is that I’m only at the beginning of this ride.
I’ve got a ton of writer friends here on Facebook, and I’ve been so incredibly lucky to meet so many of you in person this year. I just want to say thanks, and I want you all to know how much I look forward to writing the future with you all. Your stories are important. Your dreams are vital, not only for yourself but for the others in your life you inspire.
Yeah. Let’s do this. Happy September 16th! Even if it wasn’t the day before my birthday, it’s a day I’ll never ever forget.”

I’ve met a ton of incredible writers here, too, and in person. Look forward to doing a more thorough recap in the coming weeks. I love you all!


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The Space Between Drafts

After Writers of the Future I came home fired up to write The Book–a novel that I’ve been noodling around for quite some time that’s set in the same world as my Golden Pen winner, “Acquisition.” The Book was ready to go. The Book demanded my time, my blood, every ounce of my mental fortitude. I gave myself until July 4th, 2017 to finish the first draft.

I totally did it.

Happy dance! Holy mackerel, ya’ll, I was over the moon. I celebrated by jumping right into a LitReactor course with Gemma Files, one of my all-time faves, and had a blast working on short fiction.

Meanwhile, Jaime read The Book . . . and pronounced it GRIM. Pessimistic. Depressing.

But how? I mean, I knew it was DARK and it was supposed to be SCARY, but–

The look on her face. I had to ask.

“Well, it’s not scary. Not really. There’s some messed up stuff, but it isn’t–”

Now, Jake-of-the-Past would’ve run away just then. Covered my ears, “lalalalalalalala,” run as far and as fast as I could go. But new Jake. Golden Pen Jake. Confident Jake, he just nodded. Didn’t even have to read it to know she was probably right. (I DID read it, and yeah, she was dead-on.)

Pessimistic? Depressing? Is that what I want to put into the world?

I read a lot of dark stories, and yeah, quite of few of them can be called depressing, but if they’re beautifully written then it’s the experience of the story. It’s worth the cost to my psyche. A short story can be read in a sitting, and when its done I can set it aside and go hang with my kid and snap out of it. But a book–The Book–is something I have to spend more time with. I’ve got to live it, or at very least give it life. It’s my responsibility. My job to make it good.

I wanted to write something entertaining. Dark, yes. But fun. Escapism, man. Fun.

So, out came the knives. Jaime and I worked to find the story, paying particular attention to the chapters of The Book that matched the tone I was striving for. There were a few, too. Fun bits. Scary bits. So we analyzed those. Unpacked them. And instead of lamenting the loss of three months work I decided to look at it like this:

They’re only words, man.

I’ve hacked out a bunch of The Book already, and the stuff I’m adding back in is making me so happy. Jaime’s involvement is a little more hand’s-on with this draft, and we’re talking about plot points and character motivations and she’s asking questions like: “Where’s the fun? Can we make this more exciting? More interesting? Scarier?”

I guess what I’m saying is that everyone should have a Jaime help them with the second draft.

The rest of the summer’s going to be busy working on this thing, but I’m having so much fun that it doesn’t feel like work, y’know? And if I get to the end of this draft and it’s too goofy or whatever, then draft 3 will be better and draft 4 will be better than 3. This is how I write, and I love it. Infused with joy, man. Even when people are getting their souls ripped out and their fingers cut off.

Big time fun!

Also, I’m going to be at NECRONOMICON PROVIDENCE in August! I get in Thursday evening and leave Sunday afternoon. If you happen to be there, let me know! We can high five!

Gotta get back to it, now. Be good. Infuse your stories with joy. Love what you do.


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Jake’s Going to San Diego Comic Con!


Hey, everyone!!!

I’m truly honored to get a chance to be at the San Diego Comic Con on Saturday, July 22nd! The great and wonderful folks at Galaxy Press are going to be at Booth 1222 and I’ll be there Saturday morning signing copies of L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers of the Future Volume 33, which features my award-winning short story, “Acquistion”! And, as an added bonus, my very good friend Andrew L. Roberts will be there signing, too!

Andy’s story, “Tears for Shülna”, is a tremendously powerful story of love and loss and fathers and sons and selkies. Another award-winner! That’s two of us, yo!

So, if you’re going to be at SDCC on Saturday, come say hello! Free photos and free hugs, upon request.

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