Jaye Wells

Children of Ash Review

If you’ve been curious about my Meridian Six series, check out this awesome write-up on Children of Ash by the esteemed reviewer Paul Goat Allen.

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Here’s a preview:

What do you get when you blend together kick ass post-apocalyptic fiction, vampire-fueled dark fantasy, and nightmarish dystopian fiction? The Meridian Six saga by Jaye Wells, of course!

Thus far the series consists of two novellas (Meridian Six and the recently released Children of Ash) and—I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again—this is one of the very best vampire series that I’ve ever read: tonally comparable to Cronin’s Passage trilogy, Hogan and del Toro’s Strain trilogy, and Matheson’s I am Legend. -Paul Goat Allen

To read the entire review, check out Paul’s site.

Buy Children of Ash now in print or ebook! 

Amazon | B & N | Kobo | iBooks

Craft Thursday: Creator vs Consumer

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Are you a creator or a consumer?

It’s a question I think about a lot these days. So much of our energy seems to be focused on consuming, chewing each other up and digesting whatever is offered without thought or principle.

I’m scared. I’m sad. I’m angry. I know this is because I have spent too much time lately consuming the garbage I’m seeing here and elsewhere online and in the news. As the old saying goes, “garage in, garbage out.”

I don’t want to be angry or bitter. I don’t want to believe that this world is unsalvageable or that people are not basically good. I don’t want to lose hope.

Yet, I know the source of hope always lies in creation. Luckily, my life centers on being creative and sharing those creations with others. I know magic exists in this world and in people because I have seen it over and over through stories and paintings, architecture and songs. I have seen strangers be kind. I have seen miracles in the mundane. I have seen humility in the magnificent.

Even if you’re not “a creative” you can still foster a positive creator mentality in your own life.

Creator Mentality means that you:
do instead of complain
make instead of destroy
build instead of tear down
share instead of hoard
foster curiosity instead of suspicion
compliment instead of insult
think instead of obey
build up instead of tear down
join communities instead of factions
are open and present instead of closed and anxious

Imagination, progress, change–these are the vehicles of creation. The fuels of this miraculous engine are curiosity, delight, and enthusiasm.

It’s a choice you have to make every day. Some days it’s harder than others. We’re not perfect, but we have potential.

Today, I choose creation. I hope you will, too.

Update

IMG_2290I’m finally back home after a whirlwind, two-week trip. First, I went to Greensburg, PA to do my final MFA residency at Seton Hill. That week culminated with my thesis defense and graduation. My husband came up for the festivities and surprised me by showing up with my mom and step-father. I am notoriously hard to surprise, but they managed it somehow. It was great to have my own little cheering section at the ceremony. I even made it through without too many tears, although I’d be lying if I said there were none.

IMG_2303The day after graduation, the four of us headed to Fallingwater for the day. In college, I studied art history with a concentration on American art and architecture so this was a major deal. It’s about as close to a religious experience as I get (outside of libraries and bookstores), and I might have cried there, too. Let’s just say it was an emotional week in a great way all around.

Beautiful Pittsburgh

Beautiful Pittsburgh

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Gorgeous sky over Appalachia

After having the esteemed Dr. Nicole Peeler play party host and tour guide in Pittsburgh, we said goodbye to my parents and headed down to Virginia for a few days. Near Charlottesville, there is a great area with lots of wineries and great restaurants and some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet. We got to attend a talk and interview with Butch Taylor and Stuart Gunter, both wonderful musicians and very friendly people. We also bought some gorgeous photographs by Steve Edgar, who is both a talented photographer and a musician. And, of course, there was lots of wine “tasting” and delicious food eating. It was a pretty perfect trip all around.

Now I’m back home and settling in for my post-MFA life. I’m already working on a couple of new projects because working keeps me out of trouble. I’m also looking forward to more time to read for pleasure, a luxury I wasn’t afforded for the last two-and-a-half years of graduate school. Of course, I’m always reading about five books at a time and some of those are research for a secret project.

Urban AlliesComing up this month, the URBAN ALLIES anthology is coming out. I’m super excited about this one. They took several bestselling urban fantasy authors, paired us up, and had us write cross-over stories that combined our worlds. I co-wrote a story called Ladies’ Fight with Caitlin Kittredge that combines Ava from her Hellhound Chronicles and my own Sabina Kane. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to write Sabina, Adam and Mr. Giggles again. I think you’ll love that story and all of the amazing offerings from Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden, Jonathan Mayberry, Kelley Armstrong, Seanan McGuire, and so many other talented UF authors.

Preorder Urban Allies now!

Indiebound | Amazon| B&N | iBooks | Kobo 

But that’s not all!

I’m also working on a print version of my second Meridian Six story, Children of Ash. The ebook has been out for a while, but I’ve been getting loads of emails asking for print, too. Hopefully that will be ready to buy in the next couple of weeks. If you’re curious about that series, click here for a blurb and free preview of both books.

I hope summer is treating you all well. Happy reading!

 

Craft Thursday: The Lists

listIt’s pretty common in my workshops for me to suggest writers make lists of words for their stories. It’s a technique I learned from Alexander Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Novelists. In the book, she recommends that authors make lists of thematic words relating to their story and characters that can be woven through the narrative to add more emotional resonance and create image systems. It’s a great technique that I use for my own novels.

Recently, I picked up Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing. I’ve been sipping from this font of writerly knowledge a bit at a time, giving myself time to digest each essay. Bradbury has long been a favorite writer of mine, and I’m not sure why it took me so long to find this book, but I sort of feel like it came into my life at the perfect time. Aren’t books magic that way?

Anyway, one of Bradbury’s techniques reminded me of the word lists I mentioned above. According to Bradbury, for years, he kept running lists of words. When he needed to sit down to write a short story, he’d look at that list, choose a word and start writing.  The idea that we each have our own unique image system that can be used to find story ideas sort of blew my mind.

Lately, I’ve been in a weird space. I finished a novel a couple of months ago that took me two years to write. I want to write, but the idea of diving headlong into another huge project so soon feels daunting. The well needs some time to refill. However, I have a book on submission and lots of time of my hands now that I’ve finished most of my grad school coursework. Idle time is dangerous for an imagination. But then Bradbury and his word list offered me the perfect solution. Why not just write my own list and use it to write some shorts of my own? Not because I’m supposed to be writing, but because I want to be writing.

An interesting thing happens when you start to make these lists. Following Bradbury’s example, I formatted my list with “the” in front of each noun, e.g. “The Moon,” “The Tomb,” “The Hallway.” It’s a fun exercise to sit down and see how one image leads to others and before you know it, you have this neat list of all the images that your subconscious loves or fears. So far, my list is four pages long. That’s material for a LOT of stories.

Also? It’s fascinating to see what’s coming up. Images appear like words in the those Magic Eight Balls. They sort of emerge from the depths of my brain before sinking down below again. Paying attention to what’s coming up has been enlightening and has helped me really get a handle on my own personal image system. Meaning, the themes and images I go back to over and over again in my stories–the symbols that make up a large part of my writer voice. The ideas that fascinate and scare me enough to keep returning to them over and over in my work.

I feel sort of silly that it didn’t occur to me to apply the word lists I used for my novel to other things, but that’s sort of how this writing thing goes. The tools you think you’ve mastered have a way of evolving into new uses. I’m excited to see what sort of short stories come out of this, and even ore excited to see how my list of images grows and changes over the years as I become fascinated by or afraid of new things. As I fall in love with new ideas and characters and places.

So I guess today’s craft advice is twofold:

1. Always be open to using old tools in new ways.

2. If you pay attention, the mentors you need will appear right when you need them.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

Authornomics Interview

I recently sat down for an interview with Authornomics to discuss the writing life and my career.

Here’s a sneak peek:

You’ve written about writers needing to be more flexible. What strategies do you have for writers who are looking to get out of their comfort zone? Do you ever struggle with flexibility? Why is being flexible so important?

Flexibility is important in that every book offers new challenges. The more tools a writer has in their toolbox, the easier it is to duck and weave when new problems pop up. I also think we have to be less invested the in the mythologies we create about our writing. If you tell yourself that “real writers” don’t do this or that you could be actively working against your own progress. We get too invested in “shoulds” and acting like writing has to feel like punishment to be legitimate that we forget that writing can and should be fun a lot of the time. Being flexible allows more space for play.

Check out the rest here!

Craft Thursday: World Bibles

Craft Thursday: Inspiring Yourself Into Inertia

24-take-the-first-stepI just spent half an hour watching videos about creativity. They’re fun, right? They make us feel better–like we’re improving ourselves even as we sit on our rear ends and passively absorb their wisdom.

Maybe that’s why you come here to read my Craft Thursday posts or watch my Youtube videos. You want to improve yourself. You’re committing to your craft by seeking out tools and resources and inspiration.

That’s all well and good. It’s great, in fact. But only if you get to the moment where you turn off your web browser, open a blank page, and put words on it. Even better if you do this every or most days.

The truth is that if you’re not careful you will inspire yourself into inertia. You will convince yourself that you will write eventually once you’ve learned all there is to know about writing. Once you’ve improved yourself enough you will finally be ready.

Well, my friends, the truth is that the true path of improvement and inspiration is the path of  doing. It is the path of trying. It is making a practice out of your art. Isn’t it nice to think of writing that way–as a practice? There is no blog post I could write, there is no Youtube video, there is no craft book that will finally tip you over into being ready. You become ready by working when you’re not ready. By practicing.

So today, I want you to promise yourself that you will spend half an hour putting the pen to page. It doesn’t matter if you write a short story, a poem, or a snippet of dialogue. Write something. Practice the craft.  Inspire yourself, improve yourself, and inform yourself by doing the damned thing.

Happy writing.

J.

Craft Thursday: Must-Read Craft Books

When I’m teaching writing classes, I tend to mention the same craft books over and over. So for today’s Craft Thursday, I thought I’d share the titles with you and why I like them. This is by no means an exhaustive list of every good craft and writing life book I’ve read. It’s just a list of the ones I name-check most.

 

41KC-kry-QL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_1. Fiction First Aid Raymond Obstfeld: Great overview of common problems that plague a lot of manuscripts. Good to read prior to revision to help diagnose problems. I don’t think I read this straight through, but I’ve referred to it again and again over the years.

2. Writing & Personality by John K DiTiberio & George Jensen: This book used Meyers-Briggs personality to help explain how each type approaches large writing projects. I can not overstate how much this book did to help me find my process. I reread the section on my time at least twice a year–or whenever I try to convince myself that I’d have an easier time if I plotted (hint: I wouldn’t). Note: I’ve had trouble finding new copies of this book, but you might get lucky and run into at a used book store.

41OCo751wEL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_3. Rules for the Dance by Mary Oliver: I don’t know why it took me so long to discover Mary Oliver’s poetry, but now that I have, I’m totally in love. This book is Oliver’s primer on writing and reading metrical verse. You might have learned some of the information about meter in high school, but if you’re like me, the only one you could reliably name was “iambic pentameter.” I suggest this book because understanding the rhythm of language will help your prose crackle with emotion and texture. If you don’t read this book, you should at a minimum start trying to read more poetry and music lyrics. Trust me, it will help you become a better writer.

4. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: This is not a craft book–it’s a writing life survival manual. I probably have as many books about how to survive being a writer as I do how to become a better one. This is a great, easy-to-read book that is worth rereading at least once a year.

51xKvj+iyQL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_5. The Anatomy of Story by John Truby: Truby’s background is in screenwriting, but the way he constructs his stories is very similar to my own process. By that I mean, he advocates an organic approach. Instead of plotting, the prework here is focused on character creation and world building. The book is filled with writing exercises and great advice. It can be a bit dense, but it’s definitely worth a read.

6. Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card: Character creation is one of my strengths, but I read this because I was writing a book with multiple POV characters and wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing anything. He introduces both topics in a clear way that’s great for newer writers. However, for my money, the best thing in this book is Card’s MICE Quotient. I won’t tell you what it is, but it sort of blew my mind.

What are your favorite craft books?

Craft Thursday: Permit Yourself

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One of the best skills you can foster as a writer is that of self-permission. I’m not talking about rationalizing destructive behavior or justifying crappy choices. Instead, you need to learn how to stop looking toward society, your friends and family, etc for permission to follow your instincts.

The greatest gift I gave myself as a new writer was permission to be a novice. After beating myself up for not writing brilliant prose and force-feeding myself every nugget of advice I could find from the experts, I finally threw up my hands and admitted that I wasn’t supposed to be good yet. I’d never written a book before, so how could I expect to be good at it?

Giving myself permission to be a beginner opened a door inside of me. Suddenly, I was free to play and experiment. To laugh at myself and let myself grow. More importantly, it allowed me to complete my first novel. I told myself I just needed to get it down. It didn’t have to be good–it just had to be done.

Since then, I’ve had to give myself permission to do lots of other things I found scary. I gave myself permission to go back to grad school even though everyone thought it was crazy. I gave myself permission to write a new genre. I even gave myself permission to take a break when I felt burned out.

The point is that your creative life is your responsibility. There is no fairy craft mother who’s going to point you on the right path or look out for you. More likely,  you will run into lots of people with their own agenda or products to sell who are great at pretending to be looking out for you. Long-term happiness in the creative entrepreneurial life requires that you get good at becoming your own advocate. It requires the courage to give yourself permission to make choices that go against conventional wisdom and to ignore the voices of people who are terrified you’ll be the crab to escape the pot.

It also requires that you get very honest about why you’re doing this. Are you writing because you want to be a millionaire (best of luck with that, friend) or are you writing because telling your story is as critical to your existence as oxygen? Maybe you fall somewhere in the middle (most of us do), and you need to decide where your hard lines exist and where you’re willing to compromise. If you’re in this for money, give yourself permission to ignore the people who are in it for art, and vice versa. Repeat after me: The existence of a different approach is not an indictment of your approach. 

So, my friends, tell me: What scary writing thing did you have to give yourself permission to do?

 

 

Craft Thursday: Jaye’s Office Hours

This week, I wanted to let you know that I’ve started a new thing called “Jaye’s Office Hours.” Since I can’t get everywhere to teach writing classes or speak about my books, I decided to use vlogging to get some of my lessons out there. Jaye’s Office Hours won’t just be about craft. I’ll also answer questions about my stories and do virtual readings, etc.

Here’s my most recent vlog, where I discuss the three types of research I use to write my books.

Be sure to subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss any of the videos. Also, if you have a topic you’d like for me to tackle or a question about my writing or how to write, let me know in comments!