Jaye Wells

Author Archives: Jayewells

Changing Course

For those who don’t read the Blahg on the weekend, which is smart cause I normally don’t post, we had a busy weekend. Book in a Week started on Saturday.

Thus far, I’ve written eighty pages. Some of you have joined in and are making great progress, as well.

Only, I have a confession to make. After killing myself for two days, I’ve reached a conclusion. I am not ready to write this book right now. I like the idea and the characters, but ugh–it’s a struggle. Instead, another character and story have been nagging at me. Out of the compulsion to finish what I started, I decided I’d use BIAW to pound out a very rough draft of the book in progress so I could start the book I’ve been itching to really work on.

But last night, a very wise man who knows me very well, asked me a question. Why am I Stressing myself out over a book I don’t want to work on right now? He pointed out that since I’m not published, I have the freedom to write any book I want without regard to the market, deadlines or expectations.

It was a lightbulb moment. You mean, I can write something for the pure joy of it? Hmm.

So today, I start a new book. It’s not a romance. In fact, it’s much darker than anything I’ve written while having just enough sass to make it my own. This is one of those stories that came to me almost fully formed. But most of all, the few pages I’ve written on it have been fun. I’m almost giddy.

So fear not, BIAWers. I’m still working. But I have some work I need to do before I make any major word count progress on this story. I still want to hear about your progress, though.

Book in a Week Day Two

Day One was a success. I did it–forty pages in one day. Ten thousand words.

Here’s the caveat–it’s probably the worst crap I’ve ever written. But that’s what it’s supposed to be. Turn off the editor and let your fingers fly.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
-Write every possible moment. Even if you only have five minutes, write something. Those little pieces add up quickly.

-Turning off the editor is very tough. I usually edit as I write, so my first drafts are clean. Not allowing myself to go back and tweak is difficult. But I will say, not editing increased my output. I think I wrote for a total of five hours.

-This is not a pace I’d try to keep up over long periods. I already had seventy pages of this book written. One week at forty pages a day should get me to the end of a rough draft. I couldn’t maintain this pace much longer. In fact, I wonder if I’ll be able to even keep it up this week.

-This is a good exercise for opening up creativity. Once you get in the zone, you don’t even notice your fingers on the keys. Your writer brain is in control and you might be surprised by the new twists your story takes. I plot my books in advance with a little wiggle room for detours. But I was surprised how many of those today might actually end up enhancing the story.

If you missed Day One, it’s not to late to jump in on the BIAW action. Just start whenever you’re ready. The point is you’re making writing a priority and getting as much done as possible.

Good luck to those who have already committed. Let us know how you’re doing.

Book in a Week Day One

Welcome to the first day of Book in a Week on Jaye’s Blahg. For those who didn’t already know, this week’s goal is to write as many pages as possible a day without editing. We’ll go from today, Saturday, through Friday.

I’ll be posting my daily word counts all week as part of my regular posts. If you’d like to join in, please feel free to let us know how you’re doing. Support and comiserating are also encouraged.

My word count for today will be posted tonight by midnight. My goal is forty pages.

Good luck!

Overheard in Dallas

In the last 48 hours, I have heard both of these conversations in public.

In line at a convenience store in a nice suburban neighborhood:
Man No. 1: “Man, I’m in pain.”
Man No. 2: “Is that from the stabbing?”
Man No. 1: “Nah. I lifted some heavy shit today.”

In an office:
Man No. 1: I’ll be right back. I need to go poop.
Silence.
Man No. 1: Fred?
Fred: Yeah?
Man No. 1: I’ll be right back, I gotta go poop before we meet.
Fred: Ok, cool.

I’m not sure which conversation shocked me more. Probably the later since I was sitting nearby eating lunch.

What strange things have you overheard lately?

EDIT: I forgot to remind everyone interested that Book in a Weeek begins tomorrow. I’ll be including info for BIAW on my posts this week. Feel free to join in and share your progress. We’ll go from Saturday until Friday.

History is Now

I’m a closet dork. Although, I suppose if you ask my closest friends they’ll tell you this is not news.

For example, in college I took a seminar on the Romanesque Cloister for my art history degree. Our grade was heavily determined by one paper. We worked on the research all semester and then presented our findings to the class, complete with slides and handouts. The subject I chose was depictions of footwashing in the cloister. Riveting, no? It was to me. Sometimes, I still pull that paper out (I got an A, by the way), and it makes me smile.

The point is, I’m intrigued by history. In addition to my degree in the history of art, I minored in history with an emphasis on Western European history. Why my parents allowed this dead end combination, I have no clue. My husband loves getting my student loan bills since knowledge of footwashing is so crucial to being a stay at home mom.

I inherited this love of history from my father. He was a major Civil War buff. He even wrote a book about a certain regiment from Ohio before he died. He was so proud of that book. A traveling salesman, he spend his free hours in the library of whichever town he happened to be in. During summers with him, I was dragged to every Civil War battlefield or museum he could find. The book never got published. He tried, but eventually paid to have the manuscript hardbound to place on his own shelf. It’s now on my shelf.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my history with history. And how I haven’t explored my interest in it in a few years.

See the thing is once I started writing with publication in mind, I lost some of my joy of reading. Writing was supposed to be something I did just for me. But as I do with many things, I turned it into a source of challenge.

So, in between working on books I hope to sell, I’ll be indulging my love of research. Perhaps I’ll turn it into nonfiction. Perhaps I won’t write a book from it at all. I’ve just realized I need an escape from my pursuit of publication. Do something just for me that doesn’t have expectations or rules attached.

If doing that makes me a dork, I don’t want to be right.

Texas Nitwit of the Year

Oh boy, I really try not to discuss politics on this Blahg. But I couldn’t stay out of this issue.

A certain candidate for Texas state comptroller has made a big mistake. He’s accusing his opponent, Susan Combs, of writing porn because she published romance novels twenty years ago.

Fred Head is about to feel the fury of thousands of romance authors. Already, Texas chapters are send out the rallying cry to members. Not only is this man showing his complete ignorance of the genre, he also commited copyright infringement by posting photocopied pages of Susan Combs’s book Perfect Match on his web site.

I could go into a tirade about the genre and how we’re unfairly maligned. But I won’t do it. Everyone has their opinion. The problem here is that this man is accusing a woman of being a pornographer–a serious claim.

If you agree that Head is being a nitwit, please follow the link and email him. As long as we allow politicians to continue this kind of low brow mud slinging it will only get worse.

Genre Uber Alles

Just found this interesting article about how genre-specific bookstores are flipping the big chains the finger.

Anyone have any good genre-specific chains they frequent? I’m going to gather a list in Dallas and post it later this week.

One of these days I’m totally going to open a romance-only book store.

Viva Voce

Yesterday, I was listening to a tapped workshop by Julie Elizabeth Leto called “Ditching the Book of Your Heart for the Book of Your Voice.” Here is an article written by Leto based on the workshop.

The overall idea of the books of your heart is to write the book that is deep inside you regardless of the market. While I agree with this in theory, I think there are pitfalls with the phrase.

First, it implies that the book must be some deep spelunking expedition into your soul. Second, as Leto mentions, the singular use of the word book implies that each of us only has one such book inside us.

Personally, anything I write from my soul ends up sounding like self-indulgent pap. When I try to be deep I end up sounding ridiculous. The key word there is “try.”

So should we, as Leto suggests, focus instead on the books of our voice?

First, we have to define voice. I can hear you guys groaning. Voice is hard to describe. I’m sure we could all cite examples of writers or musicians who have distinctive voices. But we’d probably be hard pressed to give it a concrete definition or even describe our own.

From the article:

The best definition I’ve found so far came from an article entitled, “Finding Your Voice” by Laura Backes of the Children’s Book Insider. Here’s what she wrote:

One of your most powerful tools as a writer is not your vocabulary, your mastery of grammar or even your fancy computer — it’s your voice. Your unique blend of description, character and style allows you to talk to the reader through the printed word. Without a voice, a manuscript may have an exciting plot, interesting characters and a surprise ending, but it might not get published. The voice is what beckons the reader to curl up with a book and whispers, “Pay attention. I’m going to tell you a story.”

It’s still fuzzy, but I think that gives us an idea. So how do we determine what our voice is?

That’s harder. First, it’s almost impossible to know your own voice without having other people read your work. A critique group is invaluable in this regard. Hearing feedback about what resonates with them and what doesn’t teaches you a lot about your style.

Another trick is reading your blog. Unless you’re presenting an alternate personna on your blog, it’s likely that the voice you use to communicate with your readers will hint at your prose voice. I can name several bloggers I read who have distinctive voices. I’d bet money if I was given three stories written by three of them without by-lines I could name which blogger wrote which piece.

The other key is to write like the wind. The more you write the more you’ll see patterns in your work: the way you phrase things, the way you handle themes, the types of stories that come naturally.

Okay so we’ve kind of got an idea of what voice is and may have an inkling about our own. How do we get to the book of our voice? The key is being honest with yourself.

As much as I’d like to, I doubt I’d be very successful at writing hard-edged fiction. Same goes for anything that has little to no humor. A wise friend once told me not to worry so much about which genre I’m writing because as long as it’s got the funny I’ll do fine. This doesn’t mean I try to be a comedian. It means that my voice lends itself well to humor. As I said earlier, when I take myself too seriously the results are laughable (but not in a good way.) There have been many story ideas I’ve had to put aside because I knew they wouldn’t work with my voice.

The answer is to write the kinds of stories that reflect your unique perspective on the world. I think if you do that, you’ll find you’re writing from your heart anyway. Because once you find your voice, you’re tapping into issues and themes that are unique to you. You’re writing about things the way you see them.

Writing the books of your voice doesn’t guarantee publishing success. But it’s a hell of a lot more fun than writing something that isn’t true to who you are.

How would you describe your voice?

Clearing the Clutter

Spawn had Fall Break last week, so I the opportunity to have my own writing break. I’d been going warp speed since about February on my writing. It felt nice to give myself permission to step away for a few days.

Part of my break was clearing out the physical clutter, which helps relive mental clutter for me. Yesterday, I cleaned, organized and even painted my front door a new color. Don’t get too impressed, these manic phases of homemaking only come about once every other year on the weekend of a full moon.

The bad news is everyone in my family got injured this weekend. Hubby retore his ACL, I got my pinkie toenail ripped off (vacuums are from the Devil) and Spawn’s face had a run-in with a wooden block. We’re the walking wounded, but at least our house is clean.

This frenzy of organization came at a good time. Next week I’m joining in on a Book in a Week (BIAW) with my local writers group. I have almost four chapters done of my current project, so I’m hoping BIAW will help me finish the first draft.

If you’ve never done BIAW (this is my first time), it’s supposed to be a great way to jump start your project. For seven days, you turn off the internal editor and just write like the wind. You set a daily word goal and report back to the group.

I was thinking that if anyone wanted to join in we could do daily updates here on the Blahg. Just post your daily word count goal in comments and then next week we’ll report in on our progress. We’ll start this Saturday and go until Friday the 20th. Let me know if you’re interested.

Book Meme

S.W. Vaughn tagged me for this meme. It’s tough because for each question I had at least twenty books I could list.

#1 – One book that changed your life:
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I know a lot of people hate this book, but I enjoyed it. John Galt is a stud.

#2 – One book that you’ve read more than once:
Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught–this was one of my first romances, which I read at age 12-ish. Still a favorite.

#3 – One book you’d want on a desert island:
Call me practical, but I’d want some sort of survival guide.

#4 – One book that made you laugh:
Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

#5 – One book that made you cry:
Plantation by Dorthea Benton Frank

#6 – One book that you wish you had written:
Too many to choose one. But one day I hope someone lists one of my books in this space.

#7 – One book that you wish had never been written:
Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch Hammer)

#8 – One book you’re currently reading:
Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison

#9 – One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Blink by Malcom Gladwell

#10 – Tag Five People: I won’t tag anyone, but anyone who wants to join in let us know in comments.