Jaye Wells

Meridian Six Now in Audio

Hot on the heels of Cursed Moon’s release earlier this week, the audiobook for Meridian Six is now available! Meridian Six is the first novella set in a brand new, near-future world where vampires have imprisoned the entire human race in blood and labor camps.More novellas are planned in this story about a group of rebels trying to overthrow their bloodthirsty overlords.

The audiobook was narrated by the very talented Nicky Phillips. She did a great job capturing Meridian Six’s voice and was a dream to work with on this project.

Meridian_SixMeridian Six remembers the days before the Troika enslaved humans. She also remembers her mother, a freedom fighter murdered in the final battle between humans and vampires. But it is her mother’s final words that have haunted her: Red means life. In the years since her mother’s death, she has been used as both a propaganda tool and a blood slave by the Troika. She’s withstood their indignities because the alternative meant bleeding out in a blood camp. But their abuses finally go too far, and she decides to run toward freedom and her mother’s red light. On the other side of the light, she meets a band of human rebels who want to take their world back from the Troika. The vampires used her famous name to keep human slaves biddable, but now the rebels will use it inspire a revolution. For Meridian Six, freedom is a luxury paid for with blood.

Buy the Audiobook now!

AudibleItunes | Amazon 

Also available in both print and ebook!

Amazon | B&N | Apple | Kobo

The Cursed Moon Has Risen

Wells_CursedMoon-TPToday is the day! Cursed Moon is finally out on bookstore shelves (both physical and virtual).

In this installment, a rare Blue Moon is about to rise over Babylon, and Kate Prospero and her team at the MEA are trying their best to keep the chaos to a minimum. Someone is stealing potions from the covens, and the MEA must find the responsible party before the Blue Moon rises and all hell breaks loose.

All the old characters you love are there–Kate, Morales, Volos, Baba, Pen, the MEA team, etc. But there are some new characters, too, such as Aphrodite Johnson, who is the leader of the Mystical Coven of the Sacred Orgasm. There’s a villain who believes he’s the second coming of Dionysus, and a henchman who dressed like a leprechaun. Oh, and horny Satyrs. And … well, I don’t want to give too much away. Needless to say, it’s full of all the things that make a story a Jaye Wells story–action, quirky characters, gritty situations, plot twists, and lots and lots of juicy conflict. I hope you enjoy it!

Buy Cursed Moon now!

B&N | Apple |Indiebound | Kobo |Audible | Amazon 

The Habits of Happy Writers

Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this writing life. It’s hard to ignore the upheaval in the industry and the number of authors abandoning traditional publishing–or writing altogether–because they’re not happy. But you want to know a secret? When you hang out with independent authors, they do the same thing the rest of us do–they bitch about writing, they angst about their careers and their stress levels Granted, they also talk about how much money they’re making and how much freedom they have, but it’s not like they’re all finally like, “Hey, writing makes me happy.”

Here’s the thing: None of this is new. There’s a long and rich literary tradition of the tortured writer. There’s a reason we’re all thought to be drunks and crazies. Some might say it’s a chicken or the egg argument: Did writing make us crazy or does writing attract crazies?

There’s little in the act of writing that fosters a feeling of security. Sometimes you’ll have glorious days when the stars align and you spend a few delirious hours in The Zone or write a passage of prose that is brilliant and down-to-the-marrow true. But usually, it’s an unglamorous slog through page after page while constantly worrying that the story won’t come together, or your editor will hate it, or your readers will hate it, or, or, or …

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Beyond the somewhat bipolar existence of creation, there’s the absolutely erratic and fickle nature of the publishing business. Writers have some control but not much. It’s not uncommon for a writer to work their ass off and write a great book only to have some experimental pricing scheme by their publisher, a major retailer, a tanking genre, or a bad release date torpedo that book’s chances of success. Then, once the book comes out, you’re barraged with reviews and comments and emails by people who don’t know you personally but have no problem saying incredibly personal and insulting things about your life’s work.

Please don’t misunderstand. The writing life has a lot going for it. The truth is that this life wouldn’t break my heart so often if I didn’t love it so much. I love writing. I love, as James Michener said, “the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” I love books and reading. I love book people, including my colleagues, editors, agents, and booksellers. I love meeting readers and being invited into their lives just because I managed to entertain them by spinning a yarn. I feel very blessed and lucky that I’ve managed to have the career I’ve had so far.

This is where someone will say, “Boohoo! No one forced you to be a writer. You knew what you were getting into!”

Well, yes and no. I did chose this. But I did not know what I was getting into. No one does. This comic gets pretty close to showing what it’s like. But even though I chose the life, and regardless of whether I knew what I was getting into, I am in this life. Writing isn’t just my job. It’s my lifestyle. It’s as part of me as being a mother or a wife is. Walking away from it would be as painful as divorcing my husband or sending my kid to be raised by someone else. I complain about it because I want to have a happier relationship with it than the dysfunctional one it has become.

I was thinking about all of this the other night wen I watched Twenty Feet from Stardom, a documentary about backup singers. Merry Clayton, who sang backup on The Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter”, as well as some of the other biggest songs of the era, commented on her lack of success as a solo artist:

I felt like if I just gave my heart to what I was doing, I would automatically be a star.”  

When I heard those words and heard the catch in Clayton’s voice as she spoke, I had a corresponding dip in my gut. This, I think, is at the crux of so much suffering for creative types. We’re told that if we work hard and are talented we’ll be successful.

Alas.

I recognize that this may sound childish. After all, no one is guaranteed success regardless of industry. Luck plays an uncomfortably large role in everyone’s lives. But we like to look for patterns. When our friends hit lists and score movie deals we try to figure what they did that we did not do. We wonder how we can shift our plans to increase the possibility of luck blessing us with its golden rays. We keep gambling on luck. We keep hoping that the next book will be THE BOOK.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my own career, it’s that the Next Big Book mentality is a recipe for heartache. As I’ve said in the past, the writing life is not the work of weeks or months, but the work of years and decades–it’s the work of a lifetime. How, then, do we craft this life so that our happiness is not tied to the success or failure of an individual project? How do we shape our habits so that we can be happy day-to-day, week-to-week in this work of a lifetime?

1. Redefine success. I’ve said a million times that if you judge success as a writer based on income 95% of writers are miserable failures. You get to define what success means to you. Remember to make it quantifiable and within your control otherwise you’re making wishes, not goals.

2. Create habits that foster contentment. This year I started doing yoga a minimum of three times a week and I meditate often. These mindfulness practices help me battle my natural tendency toward anxiety. They also remind me to stay connected to the people in my life who love me regardless of the kinds of reviews my books get.

3. Spend less time online. Social media has lots of great things going for it for writers. But it can also be a huge energy vampire for us. Several days a week for the last few months, I have logged into Twitter or Facebook in the morning to see links to news or commentary by one of my colleagues on the Amazon-Hachette feud. How much writing do you think I got done on those days? That’s just one example. We have all had days ruined by shit online. Trivial shit, important shit, shit that had nothing to do with us but still altered our mental weather system. Choose your time online wisely.

4. Foster other interests. Writing started as a hobby for me when I was a stay at home mom. Writing time was my reward at the end of the day or during my son’s nap time. It was an escape and a joy. But then it became my job and suddenly I didn’t have anything I got to do just for fun. Now I cook and I do yoga, but for years I had no interests outside of writing. It consumed everything–hell, writing conferences were my only vacations. Not only does this make you a workaholic, it also makes you pretty boring. Have something else you can do that doesn’t have pressure attached to it.

5. Play. A few years ago I did a class based on Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. You can buy the book and go through the steps on your own, but I enjoyed having the classroom set up. Regardless, the best part of Cameron’s techniques for rediscovering your creativity was the concept of artist dates. These are opportunities you create for yourself to go do fun and creative things. During the class, I took myself on some cool artist dates. The point of them is to remember to play and also to get out of your comfort zone a little. Also, remember that play is the fuel of creativity. Remember to have fun when you’re writing instead of verbally abusing yourself and driving your muse like a task master. Trust me, your writing will thrive much better if you enjoy it.

6. Get help. A friend sat me down yesterday and told me it’s time to get a virtual assistant. For the last several years I’ve been managing to write multiple books a year and overseeing every aspect of my marketing efforts, which results in a really inconsistent shotgun approach but also a lot of stress as I try to keep all the plates spinning. Identify the areas that cause you stress or keep you from writing and see if you can abandon them or farm them out to someone. This is especially true for anything that causes you undue stress or that is a trigger for insecurity or an inability to write (like reading reviews or social media, etc). If you’re short on money, maybe there’s a trade you can arrange with an organized family member or friend. The point is, none of us is a superhero. Sometimes we need help. Our first job is writing, and if all the other tasks of being published are keeping that from happening, find someone who can help you.

I guess the bottom line is that writing won’t make you happy. Money and best seller lists won’t make you happy. Happiness comes from within and doing the work of getting happy is important. A happy writer will weather the roller coaster of the writerly life with more calm that one that depends on money and fame for self worth.

I don’t claim to have all this figured out, and I’ll admit one of my reasons for posting this is to hear how other authors deal with these issues. If you’ve got some happiness habits, I’d love to hear them in comments!

 

 

Newsletter Contest

In anticipation of CURSED MOON’s release on August 12 (next Tuesday) I’m hosting a big contest in my newsletter.

Prizes include a copy of Dirty Magic (either a signed print version or ebook, winner’s choice) plus a Tshirt. But not just any T-shirt: a Laser Vaginas World Tour 2014 commemorative T-shirt.

Processed with MoldivWho are the Laser Vaginas? Some people believe the Laser Vaginas are a feminist punk rock band whose goal is to rock mysogyny off the face of the planet. Others believe Laser Vaginas is a joke that took on a life of its own. They’ve appeared in fiction (Kevin Hearne’s SHATTERED), have galleries full of bar napkin art dedicated to them, and may or may not be working on their official web site. Either way, across the globe, people have taken up the cry of PEWPEWPEW.

The design is currently owned by only three people in the entire universe: Kevin Hearne, Nicole Peeler, and myself. This means if you are one of the two winners, you will be part of the extremely selective Laser Vaginas Herd.

As I mentioned, two subscribers to my newsletter will win one T-shirt plus a signed copy of DIRTY MAGIC. This contest is open worldwide (because the Laser Vaginas know no borders), and no purchase is required to enter. Simply subscribe to my newsletter (the form is on the sidebar to the right). I’ll announce the two winners on 8/12 (Tuesday) in the newsletter. Easy peasy!

 

Alchemy and The Prospero’s War Series

Even with all the blog posts I’ve written about the Prospero’s War series, it occurred to me this weekend I never wrote anything about the stages of alchemy. See, the magic in the series is loosely based on alchemy (called “bathtub alchemy” in the books). Loosely basing it gave me a lot of leeway, but I still had to do a ton of research into alchemy in order to make the magic believable. Unlike other forms of magic, alchemy has a long, documented history and, as a psuedo-science, has some basis in scientific fact versus more arcane or mystical magic systems.

Because I knew next to nothing about alchemy, I started with The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy to become familiar with the basic concepts and nomenclature. I moved on to more esoteric texts after (see list below), but the most important book ended up being not about alchemy as a science, but alchemy as a metaphor.

See, the coolest thing about alchemy is it’s a multi-layered concept. On the surface it’s a pseudo-science used to turn lead into gold. But alchemists weren’t merely scientists, they were believers. Thus, alchemy has a rich symbolic language, i.e. the language of birds, and uses many archetypes and metaphors that use alchemical processes to explore the theme of human individuation. Enter: Anatomy of the Psyche by Edward Edinger.

Edinger was a psychiatrist who was a preeminent Jungian analyst who taught at the C. G. Jung Institute. In the book, he breaks down each of the major steps of alchemy through analysis of the prevailing archetypes and symbols associated with it and uses them to explore the symbolic meanings of myths and the dreams of his patients. Further, it used each stage to explore the idea of self individuation, which, if you’ve studied any Joseph Campbell (also a student of Jung) you know that myths are symbolic representations of the journey a human takes to evolve into their true self. It was reading this book that gave me the spark for one of the biggest ideas in the Prospero’s War series.

I decided to base each book in the series on a different alchemical process.

Doing this accomplished several goals at once. First, it provided me with a framework for each story because I’d have a preset list of symbols and themes to explore in each story. Second, it gave me a really nice progression of character growth for Kate. Third, it allowed me to do something I really enjoy, which is taking preexisting myths and symbols and twisting them in a new way.

A side note about alchemical processes: Depending on your source, there are anywhere from three to one hundred and nine (!) stages in alchemical transformation. In addition, depending on the source, the stages can occur in different orders. To simplify things, I chose a seven-stage formula because Edinger and several other alchemical sources identified them as the major stages.

Seven Stages of Alchemy (from Anatomy of the Psyche)

1. Calcinatio

2. Solutio

3. Caogulatio

4. Sublimatio

5. Mortificatio

6. Separatio

7. Conunctio

For a complete list of symbolic correspondences for each stage, click here.

While I used Edinger’s list of processes, I varied the order based on the progression I felt was best for the stories. Thus, Dirty Magic is based on Calcination and Cursed Moon (out Aug. 12) is based on Solutio, but Deadly Spells (out Feb. 2015) is based on Separatio.

Since CURSED MOON is the next book out, I thought I’d list the major theme words associated with the story. But first, here’s the book blurb:

When a rare Blue Moon upsets the magical balance in the city, Detective Kate Prospero and her Magic Enforcement colleagues pitch in to help Babylon PD keep the peace. Between potions going haywire and emotions running high, every cop in the city is on edge. But the moon’s impact is especially strong for Kate, who’s wrestling with guilt over her use of illegal magic.

As I mentioned, Cursed Moon is based on the alchemical stage of Solutio.

Here is a list of words associated with the Solutio (also called the Dissolution) stage:

Water, Blue, white, Id, subconscious, emotional blockages, nightmares, moon, excess, greed, Dionysus, tears, intoxication, stalking, personal power, sexuality, sea.

Contained in that list is the plot for this book, as well as the key’s to understand Kate Prospero’s personal story arc for the novel. You might not knowing it from the list alone, but I guarantee if you read the book and then come back to read this post, you’ll have a major AHA moment.

Working with this sort of symbolic riddle for each book is really fun, and, I think, results in a really layered and rich story. If you’d like to learn more about alchemy as I’ve discussed it here, check out the following books and web sites.

Books:

  • Anatomy of the Psyche by Edward Edinger
  • Ego and Archetype by Edward Edinger
  • Real Alchemy by Robert Allen Bartlett
  • Spagyrics: The Alchemical Preparation of Medicinal Essences, Tinctures, and Elixirs by Manfred M. Junius
  • The Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook by Karen Harrison
  • The Alchemist’s Handbook by Frater Albertus
  • The Path of Alchemy: Energetic Healing and the World of Natural Magic by Mark Stavish
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy by Dennis Hauck
  • The Alchemists’ Kitchen: Extraordinairy Potions and Curious Notions by Guy Ogilvy

Web sites:

On the Language of Birds 

AlchemyLab.com: Great resource for alchemical information, including the chart of correspondences for each stage listed in this post

Alchemical and Archaic Chemistry Terms: Huge glossary of nomenclature

The Chymistry of Isaac Newton: A University of Indiana at Bloomington project on the alchemical experiments of Sir Isaac Newton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sabina Kane Covers!

As some of you might have heard, I’m releasing a new Sabina Kane novella in October. FOOL’S GOLD is a prequel novella to Red-Headed Stepchild. It’s set in the late-’70s in L.A. and follows Sabina’s first mission as an assassin. Today, Orbit sent me the cover for the novella, so I thought I’d share it with you.

FOOL’S GOLD is an expanded and updated version of the previously published short story “Vampsploitation,” which appeared in an anthology years ago. I added about 10k words, so it’s pretty much a new story. The preorder links are not yet live on this novella, but they should be up soon. Keep an eye here or through Twitter, Facebook, or my newsletter (form is on the right-hand side of this page) for updates!

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!

 

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A few years ago, I published a short story called, “Violet Tendencies.” The action of the story takes place between THE MAGE IN BLACK and GREEN-EYED DEMON, and answers the question of what happened to Valva the demon. Well, today, Orbit surprised me by sending me a brand new cover for the story!

For reference, here is the original cover. It’s fine, but I never really loved it because it departed so much in style from the series covers. Several months ago I asked to have the cover redone, but never heard anything else–until today when they surprised me.

 

VioletTendencies_OSF
But check out the new cover!

Buy it at  B&N |AppleKobo*
Read an excerpt here.

Gorgeous, right?!? I am so psyched that all of the Sabina Kane short fiction thus far now have cohesive cover designs. I have to say I’ve been very lucky in the cover department. I hope these get you excited about getting some more Sabina Kane fiction!

*It may take a couple of days for the new cover to get uploaded into the retailer’s system. Also, I am not linking to Amazon because of the current feud with my publisher, but if that’s your preferred retailer for ebooks, it’s available there, as well.

Prospero’s War Series

When I started writing the Prospero’s War series, I had one goal: I wanted to see what would happen if I took the cop shows I loved (The Wire, The Shield, Luther, etc) and added wizards. How would the conversation about the societal costs of addiction and the ever-graying line between good and evil change when filtered through the metaphor of magic?

The resulting series has been compared to J.D. Robb’s In Death series and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. It also received some very kind early reviews from authors I really respect:

“Jaye Wells has created a fresh, magical world full of potion junkies & alchemists that promises to break new ground in paranormal thrillers.” – Laurell K. Hamilton, NYT Bestselling author of the Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series

“Kate Prospero is my new favorite heroine—imperfect, haunted, driven, and dangerous.” – Kevin Hearne, NYT Bestselling Author of The Iron Druid Chronicles

Dirty Magic showcases seasoned pro, Wells, at the top of her game, and establishes newcomer Kate Prospero as the urban fantasy heroine to beat.” – Vicki Pettersson, NYT Bestselling Author of The Signs of the Zodiac and Celestial Blues series

In the first novel in the series, DIRTY MAGIC (read ch. 1 here), we meet beat cop Kate Prospero, who gets herself assigned to a Magic Enforcement Agency task force focused on breaking up the covens of wizards to cook and sell dirty magic potions. Her first case on the task force involves tracking down the wizard behind a dangerous new potion that turns its users into feral monsters (werewolf-esque). The twist is all the evidence is pointing her to old flame, John Volos, as the culprit.

On August 12,  the second book, CURSED MOON (read ch. 1 here) , comes out. A rare Blue Moon is coming and the city of Babylon is definitely feeling the magic-warping effects. The cops have their hands full keeping things under control as potions go haywire and people start acting strangely, and that’s before a psychotic mage decides to terrorize the city.

If you haven’t given the series a try, I’d suggest starting with DIRTY MAGIC. The books are designed to each have their own case to solve, but there are also major relationship elements that build from one book to another, as well as Kate’s own character arc.

If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, you might enjoy the twist of crime fiction mixed with UF. If you’re a fan of police procedurals, you might find the magic and quirky characters adds a refreshing twist on crime fiction genre conventions.

DIRTY MAGIC COVER (1)

Order Dirty Magic now from Audible | B&N | Apple | Indie Bound

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Cursed Moon releases August 12!

Preorder  now from B&N | Apple |Indiebound | Kobo |
Happy reading!

Three Things

photo (58)

To read an excerpt of MERIDIAN SIX, click here.

 

Prayers

It’s Complex, But Simple

As you can probably tell from my recent blog silence, I’ve been pretty busy lately. Since my last update I’ve attended Phoenix Comicon, gone to PA for my MFA residency at Seton Hill, went on vacation to Asheville, NC, and revised a novel. Oh, and there’s been this little thing happening between my publisher and Amazon taking up a lot of my headspace.

There’s been a lot of ink and blood spilled over this feud, and I’m certainly not interested in adding to fire and brimstone tone. However, I do want to say this: Unlike most of the loudest voices in this debate, what’s happening directly affects my career. Cursed Moon comes out in less than four weeks, and it is not up for preorder on Amazon. This will hurt the book’s sales. It likely will hurt the series. It’s not fair, but there’s not much I can do about it except keep writing and hope that my readers will keep buying my books.

While some authors are calling for a boycott of Amazon, I feel this is a mistake. For one, I’d be a huge hypocrite if I did since I have books for sale there (including a few self-published titles), and I likely will continue doing business with them in the future. Business is complicated and sometimes the choices we’re offered aren’t ideal, but they’re the cards we’re dealt and we must play in order to stay in the game. Second, readers love Amazon. Authors love readers. Trying to alienate the people who buy our books from their favorite source of books is begging for a backlash. I get it: Amazon offers convenience and cheap books. They do lots of things right. So does Hachette, for that matter (I’ve written eight books with them for a reason).

This feud is just proof that the publishing business is a complicated one filled with complicated people. I wish there were easy answers (preferably ones that resulted in my receiving lots of awards and becoming a household name). But what I know for sure is that no middle man can destroy the bond that exists between storytellers and story lovers.  Yes, the business of writing is complex, but the reason we put up with it is simple: We love stories. Even if I have to sell books out of the back of a van down by the river, I will keep writing stories for you. That’s as close to a religion as I have.

I’m sorry that you can’t buy my books at Amazon if that’s your preferred retailer. However, there are lots of other retailers offering great discounts on my books, and I hope that you’ll buy them there instead of simply opting not to buy my books. But the choice really is yours.

Now, on to some more pleasant stuff. First, in anticipation of Cursed Moon’s release, Hachette is offering Dirty Magic for only $1.99 in all ebook formats. That’s almost 80% off the cover price, folks. You can also get the print book for a huge discount at several retailers (except Amazon, who is still carrying the book, but have opted to not discount Hachette backlist titles while this feud continues). So if you haven’t read Dirty Magic now would be a great time to snag a copy. If you have read it, it’s a great time to tell your friends to get in on the action.

Also, as I mentioned, Cursed Moon comes out on August 12. You can read the first chapter here.