Benefits of Freelance Writing

Things are really looking up right now, keeping me busy with paid assignments and nifty new projects — hence me bumping down to one post a week here at the website. That means more work, more money and more success for yours truly.

But it doesn’t mean health insurance, fund-matched retirement savings, a free health club membership or any of the other nifty side benefits of going to work for The Man.

It does have a few of its own benefits, though. I don’t want to get too maudlin, but…

I’ve been writing full-time since halfway through my wife’s pregnancy. I’ve been at home for every week of my baby’s life. Most of my work days start with him toddling out to cuddle in my lap while I check email and social media accounts for things that require urgent attention. I get to watch him learn words and skills, explore the world and climb the damn bookcase again. I’m there to teach him his ABCs and to kiss his boo-boos when he falls off the bookcase.

When MiniMe, my oldest, gets home from school I’m there to ask about his day and get him sat at the homework table. I’m able to coach his wrestling team immediately after school and to volunteer at events. I’m home for dinner and there for breakfast.

These days, not a lot of parents get to have that kind of presence with their children. Among men, it’s almost unheard of. That, combined with complete control over how I spend my time is good enough benefit to keep me happy with this career choice.

How about you other freelancers out there? What’s your favorite part of the freelance life? What would you change if you could? What would you sacrifice to keep the benefits you value most?

Respecting Our Elders





This is O-Sensei Keiko Fukuda. First female 10th degree judo black belt ever, judo goddess and feminist icon. After teaching martial arts for longer than Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Ed Parker combined, she passed away last week at the age of 99.

I have the sad duty of writing her obituary for Black Belt Magazine.  In doing my research, I had a realization. In the martial arts community, we have a deep respect for our elders that western culture seems to have mostly dropped. We listen when the talk — and not just because most of them can still beat us up. We travel long distances and pay considerable sums for the privilege of spending time with them.


When was the last time you, as a writer, spent some time with your elders? If you write science fiction, did you visit Asimov, Bradbury, Verne, Heinlein or Phil Dick this year? Horror writers — when was the last time you checked in with Poe, or Dunsany, or Lovecraft? Have the romance and erotica writers out there left Auntie Nin and Grannie Austin to molder in a bookshelf?

Shame on so-called crime and detective novels who didn’t at least send Chandler and McDonald a Christmas card.

It’s different, I know. Martial arts masters have been learning for decades, while the books we love often happened early in a writer’s development in her craft. It’s also true that the art has evolved. Journey to the Center of the Earth isn’t Ender’s GameBleak House holds zero candles next to The Brothers K.

But those earlier works, the ones by the writers who defined the genres, they have an energy to them. A sense of what that kind of writing is all about. They handle the themes and questions barehanded, and wrestle with them in ways newer works never get around to. Your favorite books might only be six or ten years old, but they wouldn’t exist if not for the work of those earlier generations.

So take a moment to check in with your literary elders. You might see something in them you missed the last time. Besides, it’s good to enjoy the advantage writers have over the martial arts community. Our copies of those books will still be there for us to visit with, long after the people have moved on.

Exciting News and Pseudonyms

Panamanian_Stompers (3)                         This is the cover of my first published fiction work available on If you’re reading this on February 4, 5 or 6 of 2013 you can head over here and get a copy for free. Otherwise, it’s just 99 cents — which isn’t actually money if you’re well-heeled enough to own a kindle or other e-reading device. So that’s exciting. It’s in e-format only, as will be a few other adult crime novels my publisher will be releasing over the next few weeks. Anything that sells enough, we’ll also push in a dead tree version. When you pop over there, though, you’ll notice one change. The cover will read the book is by “Jake F. Simons.” Since a bunch of folks have already asked why, I want to address that here. Using a pseudonym has disadvantages. Mostly, the dilution of effort. Time I spend promoting Jason Brick doesn’t help Mr. Simons, and vice-versa. That’s true, and already becoming a pain in my backside, but here’s the thing. My crime fiction is violent. It’s dark. There’s cussing, and killing and adult people having adult interactions. Often, all of that is happening all at the same time. I also tend to use what a colleague calls “The Effenheimer” with fair regularity. I’m not embarrassed by that. Some of my favorite authors — Joe R. Lansdale, Carl Hiaasen, Norman Partridge, Harlan Ellison — do the same to great effect. But here’s the thing. I also write guidebooks about karate, articles for major parenting publications and business documents for unsuspecting business owners. I have a series of young adult novels about martial arts and personal integrity due out later this year. The last thing I want is for any fans of that work to Google me and accidentally read a story about two drunk guys getting attacked by a rat while trying to find what they call “takeout nookie.” So Jake F. Simons writes my darker — and often funnier — stuff. Jason Brick will remain the straight-laced, PG-rated alter ego. As the weeks and months go by, I’ll report on how that’s working out for us.