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.
So there’s this thing that happens after you complete a book. I call it “the hangover” but it could just as easily be called the “post-book malaise.”
Novels take a long time to write. Granted, they take less time now than they used to. My first novel took nine months. My most recent one took about four while I was also juggling grad school and writing two novellas at the same time. But I’m a full-timer now so I’m not grabbing writing time during the kid’s naps any more.
Anyway, The Hangover. After months of constant anxiety wherein you’re convinced you’ll never make this story work and OMG I NEED TO BE WRITING during every other life activity, it’s disorienting at best to suddenly find yourself with free time. You kind of wander around listlessly, wondering who you are without the stress and the story to define you.
It’s sort of like crash-landing back into the real world. After months spent in a place where you call the shots, you arrive back home where people are unpredictable and place demands on you. You have to do all the laundry that’s piled up. There are decisions to be made and you’re so tired from making all the decisions in that world you just left.
I turned in the aforementioned novel and novellas on Saturday. Sunday was easy because my family was around to distract me. Monday, I went to buy a pair of shoes and spent my afternoon reading a book for grad school at a coffee shop. I also spent a lot of the day crying. Suddenly, my brain isn’t preoccupied with story problems so it has a lot of time to worry about things like mortality and the unbearable randomness of life. So I went to yoga and spent a good hour out of my head, which was a huge relief.
I woke up this morning, ready to go back to yoga only to find out class was cancelled. I told my husband in a bit of a panic, “What am I going to do today?” He shot me a level look. “Anything you want.”
Being a full-time writer isn’t like other professions. You don’t ever leave the work behind. I can’t even escape my office because I have to walk by it every day. It’s hard to turn it off and just be present. This is why I’ve started doing yoga five days a week–to give myself a break from the constant worry.
I know I’m not selling this. Mostly I sound like a neurotic Type A who can’t relax, which, in fact, I am. But I’ve also recently realized that this mode of living isn’t working for me. So on top of the normal post-book hangover, I’m also reassessing my relationship with writing, and figuring out how to make it a less fraught experience. To figure out how to spend more time in The Zone and less in the panic zone.
But first I have to figure out what to do with my day. First, I’m going to sit on my ass and watch cooking shows without guilt. Then I am going to dive into my closet and clear out anything that doesn’t fit any more. Maybe this doesn’t sound fun to anyone else, but a little spring cleaning is great for the mental feng shui.
In the middle of all this, I’ll catch myself thinking, “Oh God, I need to be writing!” and gently remind myself that I already did my writing and I deserve a little rest. Then I’ll worry that maybe right at that very moment my editor might be reading the book and thinking I’ve finally lost my magic. Then I’ll shh myself and remind me that no story is perfect and any story problem can be fixed. But she won’t be calling today because that call never comes until you’re finally at peace with having a break.
Soon enough there will be a new book to write. But for now, I’m trying to adjust to reentering the atmosphere and remember I have a place here, too. Maybe other writers don’t go through this strange experience, but if you do, just know you’re not alone. Be gentle with yourself and practice being present. We spend far too much time in other places of our own making. It’s important to learn how to be in this world–the one we don’t control–too.
Fun treat for you guys today. I’ve received permission to show you the cover concept for Prospero’s War 3, DEADLY SPELLS! The book will come out in March 2015, but you get to see the pretty now.
Bam! Isn’t it awesome? Couple things.
1. This is a preliminary version of the cover. My brilliant cover wizard, Lauren Panepinto, had this to say about it:
“For Deadly Spells we are still working on the coloring, lighting, and the background. More ‘alchemical drug den’ feel.”
2. Maybe you’re wondering why we’d release this now if it’s only a preliminary version. Well, the thing about publishing is they work in cycles. Right now, my publisher, Orbit, is hard at work on the titles in the Spring 2015 catalogue. Instead of letting someone else get first crack at revealing the covers, we’re releasing them now so I get the thrill of being the first one to show it to you.
3. As in all the Prospero’s War covers, there are hints about the alchemical process the story is based on hidden in the cover. Hint: Look at the symbols.
4. I’m still writing DEADLY SPELLS, so I don’t have an official blurb to share. I can say it revolves around a murder and the media and lots and lots of secrets.
In case you haven’t see the other covers in the series, I’ve pasted all three below so you can them together. Remember, CURSED MOON comes out in August!
This Saturday I’ll be attending ConDFW in Addison, TX. It’s a really low-key, fun con, so if you’re in the area stop on by and say Hi!
Here’s my schedule for the day:
PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Saturday, 10am: Don’t Quit Your Day Job!
Panelists: Gloria Oliver, Jaye Wells, K Hutson, Lou Antonelli (M), Paul Black￼￼￼￼￼￼
A popular panel from last year, we bring the perennial topic back: what does one do to survive while waiting for the big break? Our panelists talk about what they had to do to survive, and if there was video evidence to prove it.
READING (Trinity VIII)
Saturday, 12pm: Jaye Wells, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Martha Wells
AUTOGRAPHS (Dealers Room)
Saturday, 1pm: P. N. Elrod, Candace Havens, Jaye Wells
PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Saturday, 3pm: What Is A Parody?
Panelists: A. Lee Martinez (M), Kathy Turski, Bev Hale, KB Bogen, Jaye Wells
To quote Wikipedia: “A parody (/ˈpærədi/; also called spoof, send-up, take-off or lampoon), in current use, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on or trivialize an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of satiric or ironic imitation.” Famous examples are “Weird Al” Yankovic in song and Mel Brooks in movie (and musical!). There are always dangers in parody – Weird Al has been sued because of his parodies before, for instance. Our humorists talk about how to create a parody – and what to watch out for.
Are you a fan of the popular game Cards Against Humanity? Do you like my books?
Lucky for you, I’ve created a custom booster pack called “Jaye Wells Has No Humility.” The pack includes forty white answer cards based on both my Sabina Kane and Prospero’s War series. See the link for details and legal stuff.
The booster pack can be downloaded here. Have fun!
Dirty Magic is out! I’ve conducted a series of interviews and written guest blogs, and several new outlets and bloggers have also written features and reviews about the book. Below, you’ll find a handy list of links to all. I’ll be updating it as more are posted.
Special note: For the month of February, Mysterious Galaxy bookstores have chosen DIRTY MAGIC as the selection for the Fantastic Firsts book club. Sign up for the club and receive a 20% discount on this and all books selected for the program. More info here.
Library Journal: Starred Review, “[Dirty Magic] is grim, gritty, and completely fascinating.”
RT Book Reviews: 4.5 Stars, Top Pick. “Wells works her own brand of magic by laying the foundation for a complex and gritty new mythos starring a damaged, yet resilient, heroine.”
Under the Covers Book Blog: 5 Feathers. “DIRTY MAGIC is a flat-out high-octane thrill ride in an alluring world. Kate Prospero will become a highly recognizable name in Urban Fantasy.”
The Barnes and Noble Book Blog: Most anticipated Sci-Fi and Fantasy releases of 2014
Guest Blog Posts About Dirty Magic
Buzzfeed: 9 Crime Shows That Could Be Improved with Magic
Huffington Post: 8 Ways to Get a Fictional High
SF Signal: Bathtub Alchemy: Updating Established Magic Systems
Urban Fantasy Investigations: We Built this City on Dirty Magic
Paranormal Haven: Making Monsters
Fantasy Book Critic: Revisionist History
RT Book Reviews: The Left-Handed Path
Under the Covers Book Blog: Risky Research
I’m back home after six days at Seton Hill university for my first MFA residency. I’m not sure what I expected when I went, but whatever that was, the actual experience exceed it.
The Writing Popular Fiction program isn’t so much school as it is an incredibly warm incubator for writers. I sat in several modules on the craft of writing fiction, as well as critique workshops where we had the chance to give feedback on works in progress and have our own work evaluated. Even after five years of having my work judged by agents, editors, and readers, I was still sitting there with damp palms when my turn came. I shouldn’t have worried, though, because the feedback I received was both thoughtful and helpful.
In addition to the normal coursework, we were treated to two talks by the lovely Philip Palmer. In addition to being a respected author of space opera, he is also an esteemed writer and producer of screenplays and radio plays for the BBC. In other words, the man knows his craft, and it’s obvious he’s very passionate about sharing that knowledge. I was also lucky enough to spend time getting to hang out with Philip and Nicole Peeler, who is a professor for Seton Hill as well as my good friend, because the three of us are all published by Orbit. We also had a fun signing together at Rickert and Beagle Books in Pittsbugh after residency.
Now the real work of the program begins as all the student head home to produce pages for our term writing assignments and do our readings and write papers for the Readings in the Genre courses. I sat down today and plotted out all of the deadlines and due dates this term, and I admit I’m nervous. But that’s all part of the process, I suppose. If it was too easy the lessons wouldn’t have as much staying power.
Besides all this school stuff, I’m also ramping up for the release of Dirty Magic on Tuesday. In addition to all the guest blog posts going up and the normal tweeting and Facebooking, I’ll have a signing in Houston on Friday at Murder by the Book in Houston at 6:30.
And typing all that has exhausted me. But, and this was a result of the MFA residency I didn’t expect, I understand how incredibly blessed I am. We get so caught up in the business that it’s easy to forget the reasons we were drawn to the art. It’s such an honor to know that people pay hard-earned money to read the twisted products of my warped imagination. It’s a job not to be taken lightly or for granted.
Now, I’m heading out to speak to my son’s school about what it’s like to be a writer. After my week in Pittsburgh, I’m ready to recruit the next generation of storytellers into the fold. It’s not an easy job, but it is a wonderful one.
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook (if you don’t you need to remedy that right now), you might have seen me mention that I’m embarking on an epic journey to earn my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. The program I’m doing is offered through Seton Hill near Pittsburgh, PA, and it’ll take me just over two years to complete.
Yes, I know I’m already a writer of popular fiction. But I want to be a better writer of popular fiction. Plus, since it’s a terminal degree in the field, once I’m done I’ll be eligible to teach at the college level. Terrifying, right? Terrifyingly awesome.
Anyway, I leave tomorrow for a week-long intensive residency on campus. I’ll basically be running from critique sessions to modules on characterization and plotting from nine a.m. to nine p.m. for five days. They bring in a guest speaker for each residency, and this term’s distinguished guest is Philip Palmer. I’m pretty excited about this because Philip is a fellow Orbit author, and I’m sure we’ll have lots to chat about.
Once the residency is over, we’ll return to our homes and get started on the real work of the program: Writing and reading books. I’ll have a certain number of pages I’ll be required to turn into a mentor and critique group each month. The idea is that doing this for several terms will result in a finished book by the end of the program.
In addition, I’m taking a Readings in the Genre class. This term I opted to focus on the romance genre class because it offers a few UF-type books, while the SFF class didn’t have any urban fantasy (biting my tongue on this one). Below I’ve listed the books I’ll be reading for the class, in case you’re interested in reading along or adding to your TBR pile. I would quibble a little over the genres listed for some of these books, but since it’s not my class to teach, I won’t do that here.
Paranormal Romance – Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Urban Fantasy Romance – Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
Romantic Comedy – My One and Only by Kristan Higgins
Fantasy Romance – Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Romantic Suspense/Erotica – Rush by Maya Banks
YA Fantasy Romance – Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Historical Romance – Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick
Since I’m taking romance this semester, I’ll probably do horror or mystery next time so I’m studying a good cross-section of genres.
Anyway, I’m crazy excited about this new adventure. I haven’t decided which book I’ll be writing for my thesis, but for the first term, I’ll be using the third Kate Prospero book as my writing assignments since it’s due in like three months. I have a spec project I’d like to turn my attention to after that, but we’ll see what happens. Mostly, I’m just excited that I got to buy new school supplies.
Did you notice anything different? Yes, my friends, ye olde web site got a makeover over the weekend. Hopefully you’ll find the new design easy to navigate and pleasing to your eye stalks. Huge thanks to Mr. Jaye for doing all the coding. He has proven once again he’s more than just a pretty face.
Some new features you might enjoy are the handy clickable slideshow and list of appearances on the home page. I’ve also reorganized my book page so it’s easier to find out more about my different series. The FAQ has also been updated on the About page. In the near future, I’ll be uploading a handy PDF with all my books in reading order in case you’d like to print it and take it to your favorite bookery.
Have a look around and let me know what you think!