Jaye Wells

Author Archives: Jayewells

Costumes

Man alive! Is it Halloween already? Yeah, I know it’s tomorrow, but still. How the heck did it get to almost be November again?

Anyway, today is the obligatory Halloween post on the Blahg. I spent yesterday carving a pumpkin to look like Thomas the Tank Engine and roasting pumpkin seeds. That is all in addition to taking care of gimp hubby. If I get the energy, I’ll take a pic of the pumpkin.

We’re doing the traditional trick or treat thing around here. Spawn is going as…Thomas the Tanks engine. Are we sensing a theme yet?

I don’t really dress up, although I do have witch hat with a long purple wig attached that I wear. I miss the days when I actually put thought into my own Halloween costume and had parties to attend.

The best year was the one where I decided to go as the chick M&M–you know, the green one with the go-go boots.

My problem was I started talking about this costume at least two months before Halloween. Here’s a hint about me, the more I talk about something the less likely it is that I will actually follow through.

Instead of buying the real M&M costume, I decided I’d make my own. So the day before the party , I went to the craft store. Bought a large green t-shirt and foam tape. Taped an M on the shirt, put on my white go-go boots left over form a college party I once attended. Voila–an M&M! Or so I thought.

Except it was apparent a few seconds into the party that no one knew what the hell I was. First of all, you’re probably all aware the M&Ms are round. At that time in my life—I was a size 8. I’m 5’7″. Thus, not so round. Second, the foam tape threw people off for some reason.

The consensus at the party was that I was either a blade of grass or a scallion.

On second thought, maybe it’s best I don’t have to create my own costume any more…

Is anyone out there dressing up? And does anyone else have an embarassing costume story?

I Swear I Haven’t Been Stealing Hubby’s Meds

First, thanks for all the well-wishes for Mr. Jaye. He’s doing well and slept most of yesterday. Today, Spawn comes home from Grandma’s, so we’ll see how long it takes for him to commandeer crutches for nefarious purposes.

Hospitals are ripe grounds for writers. The facility we were at was located in a nice suburb. It lacked that institutional decor so common in most hospitals. Someone had spent serious bucks to decorate this place. Plus, the had free wireless, coffee and muffins. It was kind of like a hotel with people running around in ass-baring gowns.

Anyway, so this wasn’t an urban E.R. filled with the angst of the streets. Just mostly normal looking people. No one was crying or seemed seriously ill. Yet, sometimes I think those kinds of environments are more interesting. Instead of in-your-face drama to feed off of, there’s a challenge. The guy with the iPod over there, what’s his story? What secrets is he hiding behind that affluent yuppie veneer? And the grandmother. What life stories does she keep hidden in her wrinkles? The little boy begging for a sucker from his mom. What will life bring him? Will he be a good person? Or will his mother cry over the monster he’ll become?

There’s a chance I might have had too much free coffee and too little sleep yesterday. But even well-rested and decaffeinated, I spend a lot of time looking at people and wondering. I used to think this was because I was weird. But now I know it was a clue that I needed to become a writer. That means I can never give up writing cause then I’ll just be a freak again. That sounds like a great slogan:

Writers–Not your average freaks.

Feel free to use it.

Writing for Money and Narcotics

I’m off today playing nurse-maid to Mr. Jaye, who is having knee surgery. Not to worry, it’s a standard ACL repair. I should be able to check in while he’s in his Percoset-induced stuppor, though.

In other news, I’ve decided to go back to freelancing. I’d taken a hiatus from it to pursue writing novels. But now I’ve learned how slow this whole publishing process is, and realized I have time to do writing that actually pays me again.

It’s kind of funny. I’ve gotten so used to being slug in the book publishing world that I forgot that I am actually have skills that are in demand in the real world.

Anyway, that’s what’s up in Blahgland. Hopefully on Friday I’ll have interesting things to discuss regarding sitting in a hospital waiting room for six hours and eavesdropping on people’s conversations. Plus, a hubby on narcotics is always good for a laugh or two.

In the meantime, here’s a question of the day to amuse you:
What is the most embarassing injury you’ve ever had?

Inspiration

I have a history of witnessing or overhearing weird things. Not sure if I just look for odd things or if I just hang out in the wrong places.

Take a trip to Charleston about five years ago. A group of ladies from work and I took a road trip for a girls’ weekend. Charleston is magnificent–one of my favorite towns. We drank wine, saw the sights, did a ghost tour and shopped.

The weird event occured one afternoon after some sightseeing. We went to this cute little restaurant called Poogan’s Porch. They had a large sun room in the back of the converted house where we were seated next to a full wall of windows.

We were chatting and figuring out what we wanted to order when out of the corner of my eye I saw a large black thing to my right. It was outside, next to the church, which sat in the lot behind the restaurant. I swiveled my head and did one of those Looney Tunes double-takes.

Standing in broad daylight in the churchyard was a seven-foot tall angel. Only this one wasn’t your typical cherubim dressed in white with a little golden halo. No, this creature was dressed in a black leather kilt-like thingie, had long sooty hair and large wings made with glossy black feathers. He was also shirtless. And from the look of him, the afterlife must be full of Nautilus equipment.


He looked kind of like this picture, except better in person. Also without the tree stumps for legs.

It took me about a nanosecond to take all this in before alerting my friends we had a dark angel in our midst. It didn’t take long to figure out it wasn’t my imagination playing tricks on me again. Women throughout the resturant had left their seats to salivate on the glass separating us from the man in black. The photographer with the dark angel was my second clue that Satan wasn’t in Charleston that day.

I’m not sure if it was the surreal experience of seeing something so unexpected or the fact this guy was a total hottie that burned the experience in my memory. All I know is I think about him from time to time. Our group of gals dubbed him Hottie Dark Angel. Someone took a picture, which I would pay money to get my hands on.

The reason I’m bringing this up now is I was standing in my kitchen the other day thinking about my new book idea. Just as I swiped the counters a final time with my sponge, the image of Hottie Dark Angel popped in my head. Instantly, I knew this guy had to be in my book.

I was so sure of it that I looked up one of my old friends from that trip, whom I have not spoken to in three years and emailed her asking if she had his picture. Unfortunately she doesn’t, but it was good to find an old friend.

My point in all this is that you never know when something you file away might come in handy for a story. I can’t explain it, but that sunny day in Charleston, I knew I was meant to see the HDA. Now I know why.

So, my friends, pay attention. You never know when some totally random thing might spark new life into a story idea. That one trip to Charleston has given me ideas for other stories–the ghost walk alone was quite enlightening.

And if anyone knows a male model who was posing as a hottie demon for a photo shoot in Charleston in October of 2001, email me.

A Star is Born

Someone emailed me the following the other day.

TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER by Dwight V. Swain
Chapter 2 The Words You Write
“A story is words strung onto paper.”

‚”Most writers paragraph for effect, punctuate on impulse and let split
infinitives and comma splices fall where they may. Omnivorous reading
substitutes for systematic study. Syntactic nomenclature is a thing they
learn only if, somehow trapped into teaching others the craft, they find
themselves in need of terms to describe the errors of their students.
None of which in any wise prevents their writing adequate or better than
adequate copy.
In other words, this is a business in which the star performers play by ear, and who cares? So long as a man’s writing is itself clear and accurate and specific, no holds are barred. And anyone who needs instruction in the traffic laws of the English language has wandered into the wrong field.
Yet words are vital to a writer, no matter how askance he looks at grammar.
Some work for him; some against him. And some just clutter up the
landscape.
Specifically, it’s desirable that you learn three things:
1. How to choose the right words.
2. How to make copy vivid.
3. How to keep meaning clear.”

While the entire quote struck a chord with me, I found the highlighted section very interesting.

There is an old debate about whether one can be taught to write. I fall into the school of thought that certain people just have a natural apptitude for writing. While they made need instruction about how to utilize the tools of the craft, an inherent talent for stringing words together exists for people who excel at writing. Others, born without this aptitude, can learn the tools as well, but their ability to make words sing is limited.

It’s like this in many pursuits-athletes, musicians, artists, accountants, lawyers, etc. We are all better at certain things. It doesn’t mean someone can not learn scales or how to write a legal brief with a certain level of proficiency, but I maintain they are not likely to become stars in their profession.

We’ve all known writers who despite years of practice, classes, and dedication to writing still never quite get it. Their writing may improve but for some reason they continue to miss the mark. This does not mean they should quit. After all, we’ve all also read published books by people like this. On the other hand, countless talented writers never get published. That’s a debate for another day, however.

The question of the day is this: Can hard work alone make one a great writer? Or is inherent ability required to stand out of the crowd? Also, how is talent quantified in such a subjective field?

Monkey Mind

Yesterday, I was listening to a workshop on tape by the very wise Natalie Goldberg. She is the author of Writing Down the Bones and a respected teacher of writing.

Her mantra is daily writing practice. Ten minutes a day and your hand doesn’t stop moving. There’s no editing or crossing out. Anything goes.

Natalie is a student of Zen Buddhism and her voice is very soothing. There’s something about listening to her talk that seems very spiritual. But most important she understands writers and the challenges of what she calls the Monkey Mind.

This idea of practicing writing intrigues me. I always think that it’s the pages I produce on my books that is the practice. Yet Goldberg makes an analogy to professional sports. The Superbowl game is the result of hours of practice for the men of the gridiron. Thus, writing practice should come before the book. In fact, she recommends a full year of practice before one tackles an actual story.

Does anyone do this? Write for practice instead of publication? I used to write essays during college, my own version of writing practice. It cleared my head of the static. But at that time, I did not think of myself as a writer. It was just a means of sorting through my life. I lost that practice long before I began pursuing writing as a vocation.

If you haven’t read Writing Down the Bones, I highly recommend it. Although, I’m sure most of you have. But did you follow Goldberg’s advice? Do you practice?

Don’t Make Me Taunt You a Second Time

First, to all of those who told me I was wrong, HAHAHAHA! HA!

Jeffrey won!!

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, the season finale of Project Runway was last night. The dark horse, the designer everyone loved to hate, won. Yipeee! I was right. From now on you will all know better than to question my judgment.

Second, I got an interesting email yesterday. It seems someone at Xlibris has found Jaye’s Blahg. And boy do they have a deal for me.

Again, HAHAHAHAHA!

Let me clarify a few things, Xlibris spammer. First, I do not spend countless hours writing so I can pay my own money to get published. And no, you’ll never convince me that paying anyone to publish my words will eventually lead to someone in New York wanting to give me a contract. In addition, telling me that the traditional method of getting published is too hard is so not the sway me. I gave birth to a twelve-pound kid. You think a few rejections scare me? You just waved a red flag at the bull.

Anyone else have anything fun to share?

Mining for Story Gold

I’m having fun working on my new project. Today, in addition to eeking out six new pages on this story, I focused on research.

Over the last two days, I have gathered info on the following topics:
-Cain from the book of Genesis
-Lilith in Jewish folklore
-Folklore about red heads
-Matriarchies
-Hairless cats (Sphinx breed)
-Demons from ancient Rome and Greece
-Ducati Motorcycles
-The goddess Hekate

This is the time of writing I love the best. The fertile time of imagination where I explore pathways and dark alleys on the internet and in books for ideas. When a random footnote can spark an idea that brings a story into focus. I guess it’s the potential of the story that I fall in love with during this time.

Of course, all of the above won’t make it into my next book. Some of it will just get filed away in the mental Rolodex. But a lot of it will help me create the world of the story in my head even if it’s not explored directly on the page. And with this story, which will be my most complex to date, I’ll need to get my vamps in a row before I start writing in earnest.

Some people loathe research. But I don’t see this as straight research. In fact, its more mining for inspiration. Fiction is a wonderful thing. I can take a theory and twist it until it does what I want it to do. I can take a myth and rewrite it to suit my needs. I can rewrite history and predict the future. I am the great and powerful Oz behind the keyboard.

Oh, man, can you tell I’m having fun?

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

Techno Meltdown


Last night, I went out with my best friend to have what we call Coffee Talk. Although, in all honesty as we’ve aged they have become more like Beer Talk, but we did end up drinking coffee.

Anyway, we were chatting about how we both feel so frazzled all the time. It’s as if the information overload we’re exposed to every day has almost hypnotized us. Where we used to be able to work on the computer and take a quick phone call, now it’s almost impossible. Focusing is difficult.

We decided the answer is a Techno Fast (TM JW). Much like a cleansing fast with food, a techno fast is at least one day of no computer, TV, phone, Blackberry, etc.–pretty much anything which relays information. Use the day to rediscover the joy of silence and do things that involve tactile experiences. My friend, for example, feels as if she is shortchanging herself by not painting often enough. Techno Fast day will be the perfect opportunity for her to unplug and allow herself to play with paint.

I’ve noticed more and more “I’m going to be away” posts from other bloggers–some who are quitting altogether. I can’t say I blame them, as I sometimes feel the pressure of having to produce content every day. It’s my choice to do so, and I enjoy doing it so I am not ready to walk away. However, I can definitely see the benefit of taking a weekend and not touching my laptop.

I figure there will be withdrawal symptoms. Cold sweat at the thought of missed emails. The shakes when I realize I haven’t read about the latest celebrity scandal. But I think overall it would be a positive experience. I could write by hand. I could clean my house, which less than two weeks after Fall Cleaning is in disrepair again. Or I could build a fort with Spawn and play pretend all day. The possibilities are limitless.

Do you think you could use a break from the information overload? Why not unplug for a day or two? Don’t worry, we’ll still be here when you get back.

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.