Monthly Archives: April 2017

Jake’s at StokerCon 2017!

Hey, everyone! I’ll be at StokerCon 2017 (April 27-30) in Long Beach, CA! I’m not on any panels or programming, but I’ll just be around having a good time at the Queen Mary, meeting great people in the Horror Community!

I’ve learned there’s incredible value in “being in the room” with folks you admire or aspire to be. Authors and editors from across the country will be there, and I’m just a 20 minute drive away, so I’m going to be there, too. I owe at least one hug–I’m looking at YOU, Richard Thomas–and I’m hoping to meet some interweb friends IRL, as the kid’s say.

Seriously, if you see me there, say Hi! I’m fun and approachable–I promise!

I look forward to seeing you!



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Daily Writing Goals

Hey, everybody! I wanted to jump in here really quick and answer a question from Kelly A. Varner from Facebook! She asks: “Can you talk about your daily writing goals? Certain number of hours? Words?

Answer: Hi, Kelly! I’m luckily a pretty fast writer, so I aim for time spent writing rather than word count.

I usually have between half-an-hour to 2 hours to write while my kid is at school and Jaime is busy reading or doing something wonderfully arty. Those blocks of time are usually pretty intense, and I can get lost fairly easily if I don’t set an alarm of some sort, usually on my phone. Of course, I also have to set my phone on the other side of the room, out of reach, so I don’t get distracted with emails or Facebook or whatever. In those blocks of time I can get between 500 and 3000 words down in the manuscript, depending on how locked into the story I am. If I’ve outlined beforehand then most of it is salvageable, but if I’m trying to discover the story as I go I know that at least half those words will be scrapped in editing, either when I sit down to write the next day or after I show Jaime.

My most significant “daily writing goal” is to “write daily.” One scene, one page, one paragraph. Get something down every day, even if the only time you have is on a lunch break at work. You can’t rewrite beautifully if you don’t have anything written in the first place. Remember, too, that first drafts can be awful, ugly things–nobody is going to see them but you! This realization really freed me up!

Thanks for the question, Kelly!



I’ll be signing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 22 at 3PM! Come find me at Booth 135 Galaxy Press, where I’ll be signing copies of L. Ron Hubbard Presents the Writers of the Future Volume 33!

Very exciting times in Marleyland!


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Writers of the Future Part Two: Get Over Your Impostor Syndrome

The Writers of the Future contest is quarterly, costs nothing to enter, and has the coolest prize ever–you get flown out to Hollywood, put up in a swanky hotel, and participate in an intense Writers Workshop with working professionals who teach you the ins and outs of being a pro writer.

“You all have the tools you need,” Tim Powers told us the first day of the Workshop, “or you wouldn’t be here. You wrote professional stories, and you’re all capable of writing more of them.”

Here’s a funny little term that pops up when you learn about people becoming suddenly successful at something, even if they had worked at for a long time: Impostor Syndrome. I think everyone one of the 2017 winners had it at one time or another. Usually it took the form of a wide-eyed stare, or a self-deprecating joke. Sometimes it was subtle, other times it was as obvious as a lighthouse on a starless night. It was like we were all just waiting for someone to notice us, to look down at a clipboard, and to frown and say, “I don’t see YOU on this list.”

I felt my Impostor Syndrome the worst when I had to explain the contest to my family. My wife and kid knew how much of my day was filled with words and ideas, but the rest of my family knew I liked books and writing, but I don’t know that they really understood how big I had been dreaming. Once I won my spot in the third quarter, I really had to start OWNING it.

I know it sounds weird, but it was actually really hard to admit I was, like, a real WRITER. I was going to get PUBLISHED, you know, if the contest judges didn’t figure out that I was an impostor first . . .

None of my family gave me any shit when I told them. Turns out, they all kind of knew I was into this whole writing thing a whole lot more than I gave them credit for, and they all agreed that it was about damn time I was finally published.

See, the Impostor Syndrome was in me from the first rejection letter I ever received, back in 2003 from John Joseph Adams. It was a personal rejection–something that isn’t all that easy to come by–but I took it hard. I spent years self-rejecting, or sending out stories that were only partially me because a rejection wouldn’t hurt so bad if I knew I was trying to write like someone else. This creeping doubt made me feel, deep down inside, like writing was for OTHERS. College graduates, or world explorers, or geniuses with magic fingertips and expensive laptops. It made me question my abilities and my imagination.

The Writers of the Future has changed all of that. My inner critic is sitting back to watch what I do next, and he’s grinning. I’ve got stories to tell–lots of them!–and I’m looking forward to getting them down on the page and connecting with more readers.

The best part is, in this anthology I’m in some terrific company. No impostors here, just award-winning writers with imagination and heart, doing what we love.


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Writers of the Future, the Real Part One: Where I Tell the Beginning and the End

This is an incredible time in my life. I feel very lucky to be experiencing so many new milestones, so close together, that it’s hard to process them into some sort of linear, coherent timeline, but I’m still going to try. (And, there’re pictures!)

Almost exactly a year ago I received a rejection on my story, “Acquisition,” from C.C. Finlay at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. (Actually, it was rejected by “Charlie”, which, apparently, is a much bigger deal.) He said he enjoyed it, but didn’t buy the ending with the way it was set up. I’d left a gap in my story–I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, about gaps in my stories, so I’ll move on. I fixed the gap (to my own satisfaction) with a five-word sentence and submitted it to the Writers of the Future contest even though it was only the first month of the 3rd quarter. I could’ve kept the story, tinkered with it, for a few months, but I wanted it gone. I didn’t want to think about it all summer, if I could help it.

On April 2nd, I claimed my award for 1st place. I was a nervous wreck, but managed to stumble out my Thank You speech and not make a complete ass of myself.


Aw! Look how happy I am!

Then, later that night, they announced the grand-prize Golden Pen winner–and holy shit it was me!

I kinda went bananas.


I high-fived everyone. I shook hands with everyone. I hugged David Farland and Erika Christensen and was simultaneously overjoyed and overwhelmed. I know when you win something you’re supposed to be subdued, but I really, really wasn’t. I feel a little bad now (after all, for me to win three other dudes didn’t), but I hope they know I love them each dearly and would’ve absolutely cheered the loudest if any of them had won instead.

I love cheering for friends.

I said some stuff. Was interviewed. Did a sweaty, manic signing. Said more stuff. Stayed up too late, soaking up wisdom from Laurie Tom and Martin Shoemaker and Megan O’Keefe and I was KO’d by the time I rolled back to my hotel room and conked out.

A week later, I’m still ragged. I’ve given the beginning and the end of this thing, but there’s a whole lot of middle (including guest stars Tim Powers, Robert Sawyer, and Nnedi Okorafor, among a bevy of others!)

I’m going to document everything. Not linearly, and not coherently, but as truthfully and honestly as possible. I’ve been a secret writer, struggling over story and prose and characters and motivations, with my lovely and talented wife Jaime for TWENTY FREAKIN’ YEARS. I can’t help but be jubilant, and I can’t help but want to scream to the rafters about how exciting this is for me.

Luckily, this is my blog. I get to do what I want. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share as much as I possibly can. I’ll excerpt notes, I’ll give away secrets of my personal success, and I’ll be as honest as I know how to be.

That was probably the best lesson of this entire experience. When I felt joy, I told someone. When I was nervous, I owned up to it. When I wanted success for someone else I just fuckin’ said so. I don’t think I’ve EVER IN MY LIFE been so genuine with strangers, and you know what? It felt GREAT. Really, really great. I wasn’t trying to be cool. I wasn’t trying to be tame. I was on an emotionally exciting roller coaster, and instead of pretending that I wasn’t, or that I should just fit in, I grabbed whoever was around me and threw them on board. I stopped worrying about being obnoxious, or abrasive, or unpleasant. I was me, and I trusted that those around me would steer clear if I got on their nerves. We’re all grown-ups, right?

The link below is full of nice things Ron Collins said about me. It makes me blush, so I’m just going to leave this here:

(and I think this next one is the same as the last, but on the Galaxy Press site instead):

So, Writers of the Future, Part 1. If you want to read what all the fuss is about, HERE’S A LINK TO THE BOOK. Get yourself a copy, and let me know what you think.

More later! Love you all!



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The First of Many Writers of the Future Posts! You’ve Been Warned!

Hello, all! I’m up early today, getting excited about my first call-in radio interview about winning Writers of the Future!

I won the Golden Pen! Didn’t I mention that yet? No? Ah, bloggy friends, I’ll be more vigilant this week. But, y’know, some of us are still trying to cram some fiction-writing in!

Was that too sassy? Maybe.

If there’s any possible chance you’re reading this today, April 10, 2017, then you should head over to Reddit where the latest crop of Writers and Illustrators of the Future are doing an Ask Me Anything! AMA! Woohoo!


I’ve got a figurative TON of information to share with you all! Check back soon, and if you have any questions, JUMP OVER TO REDDIT, yo!



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