Jaye Wells

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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?

 

 

DFW Con Schedule

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April 23-24, I’ll be at DFW Con in downtown Ft. Worth. I first attended this event two years ago and found it to be a rally great experience. I’m excited to be presenting again this year. The guest of honor this year is Christopher Golden, and there are a ton of great speakers lined up. If you’re in or near DFW, you should check it out!

More info about DFW Con can be found here.

My schedule:

Saturday, 4:00-4:50. Workshop – So Here’s My Problem. Room 202B.
Instructors will help writers with whatever writing challenge they bring to the table. Each of the FOUR writers will have 11 minutes to discuss their problem and receive feedback from the instructors.
Moderator: Melissa Lenhardt
Panelists: Jaye Wells, Paul Black, Steven Salpeter, Nadia Cornier, Tara McKelvey

Sunday, 8:00-8:50 am. Panel – Independent & Small Press Publishing. Room 202C.
A panel on independent and small press publishing.
Moderator: D.L. Young
Panelists: Laura Maisano, Pamela Skjolsvik, Jaye Wells, David Doub, Harry Hall, Lindsay Cummings

Sunday, 11:00-11:50 am. Delivering Your Pops and Payoffs. Room 202B.
Good stories don’t happen by accident. To master the art of delivering satisfying tales, writers must learn how to effectively make story promises in Act One as well as how to deliver satisfying payoffs by The End. This class will explore the types of promises you must make from the first line of your story, demonstrate a variety of tools you can use to make those promises, and offer strategies to avoid cheating your readers out of satisfying payoffs.

Children of Ash is Here!

The long-awaited sequel to Meridian Six is finally here! The novella comes in at a whopping 40,000 words, which is almost a novel but not quite. With the story growing so much, I’m considering writing a full-length novel in this world if the demand exists for more of these stories.

A masterful fusion of post-apocalyptic fiction, dark fantasy, and subtle social commentary, this is, simply put, the best self-published vampire story I have read in my 20 years of reviewing. And it’s just the beginning of a series that has the potential to change the landscape of genre fiction. Mark my words: It’s that good. -Paul Goat Allen on Meridian Six 

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The exciting second installment of the Meridian Six series …

Freedom is a luxury paid for with blood.

Several months after their first victory over the vampires, Meridian Six and her band of rebels are called in to Book Mountain for a brand new mission. The leader of another rebel group needs help saving children who were captured by the Troika and sent to Krovgorod, the worst of the vampire labor camps. Getting inside the prison camp will be simple, but escaping it will be hell.

Red means life.

Buy Children of Ash now!

Kindle | Kobo | iBooks | Nook

Note: iBooks and Nook are coming. I’ll update this post with links once they are available.

If you have not yet read the first novella in this series, please check out Meridian Six.

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In a world at war, freedom is a luxury paid for with blood.

The daughter of a rebel leader, Meridian Six was used as a propaganda tool and blood slave to her vampire captors for years after her mother died. When she finally escapes, she runs toward a red light signal that leads the way to the underground world of human rebels. All she wants is freedom, but what she finds instead of a rebellion in search of a hero–and for some reason they think she fits the bill. The vampires used her famous name as a tool of oppression, but now the humans want to use it to inspire a revolution.

Buy Meridian Six now!

Amazon | B&N | Apple | Kobo | Audible

 

2015 In Review

It is my habit to begin every year by looking back over the previous year and reflecting on the things I learned. Often, I am shocked at how much happened and how much I managed to accomplish. In many ways, 2105 was a great year. I traveled a LOT and met so many cool people, and I learned quite a bit about myself and what I want from my writing career. It was also a year of transformation and transition.  I spent a lot of time feeling like I was spinning my wheels professionally, but I’m starting to feel myself gain some traction again. Hopefully that will be the trend of 2016–forward motion toward things that make me happy and fulfilled and  leaving behind the things that don’t matter. Regardless, I am thankful for the lessons I’ve learned, the people I’ve met and the ones I’ve come to know better, and for the chance to continue on this crazy journey.

Places Visited:

Pittsburgh (twice)

Houston (twice)

Grand Cayman (twice)

Charlottesville, VA

Salado, TX

New Orleans

Scotland

Raleigh, NC

Hilton Head, SC

Phoenix, AZ

Falmouth, Jamiaca

Cozumel, Mexico

 

Publishing Stats:

Stories published: 2 (Deadly Spells and The Uncanny Collection)

Stories completed: 4 (2 short stories, 1 novella, 1 novel draft)

Speaking Engagements (keynotes, cons, panels): 6

Other: Dirty Magic and Cursed Moon optioned for TV

 

Personal Stats/Fun 2015 Facts:

-Turned 40

-Renovated my house

-Became the mom of a teenager

-Took SCUBA diving lessons

-Completed two terms of grad school

-Worked with the Pixel Project campaign to end violence against women

 

But what about my plans for 2016? Well, I know I’ll be traveling and teaching and writing. I’ve got two projects lined up for release in the next month or so. The Urban Allies anthology will come out this July.  There’s a novel that I want to write that will require a lot of research and a trip to an exotic land. There’s another novel that is trying really hard to lure me into yet another genre. There are short stories for Kate Prospero and Sabina Kane to be written. I also will graduate from grad school in June. Once that happens, I intend to celebrate and give myself a much-needed break from trying to conquer the world. Will this finally be the year I learn to relax? Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Uncanny Collection: Tales of Mayhem and Magic

Hello friends!

It’s almost Halloween, which is my favorite holiday. To celebrate I’ve decided to release a special short story collection.

 

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Here, every day is Halloween, and the tricks and treats are endless. This collection of three supernatural tales is sure to give you lots of chills and thrills.

THE WEREWIFE: One week after she is bitten by the dog-faced boy at a traveling carnival, a mild-mannered housewife gets a sudden, unrelenting craving for raw meat. She doesn’t remember eating the cat or running naked through the park under the full moon, but her husband’s getting strange calls from concerned neighbors. When he takes her back to the carnival a year later, looking for a cure, it’ll either get better…or a whole lot worse.

THE BLUEST HOUR: A journalist travels to New Orleans to track down the mysterious “Soul Singers”–psychopomps who guide spirits into the afterlife. In this city known for music and its connection to death, a man can learn things he’s not ready to know.

THE DEADLINE: An ambitious journalist opens an investigation into the decade’s old murder of a priest and a nun at a local Catholic college. She swears she’ll do anything to earn her big break, but the price could be her very soul.

Buy THE UNCANNY COLLECTION now!

Kindle | iBooks | Kobo | Nook

But that’s not all!

The Hot Scott - 600x960If you’re not such a fan of spooky stuff, I have a treat for you. Did you know I write paranormal romance under the name Kate Eden? This series is a lighter option for my readers who like more humor in their Jaye Wells stories.

The first book in the Murdoch Vampire series, THE HOT SCOT, is on sale for only $.99 on both Kindle and iBooks!

 

Hope you enjoy all these tricks and treats. Stay spooky, y’all!

Strong Female Characters? Let Me Show You How

I had a great conversation recently with Smart Bitches, Trashy Books about “strong female characters.” We had so much to talk about that she had to break  up the podcast into two episodes.

Here’s Part One:

Strong Female Characters: An Interview with Jaye Wells, Part 1

For any hearing impaired readers, or anyone who prefers to read instead of listen, the transcript should be up soon!

Craft Thursday: Conscious Rebellion

If you spend five minutes in the company of a new writer and you’ll hear the word “rule” at least once. This will especially be the case if you happen to be discussing a best selling author’s book. “They broke the head-hopping rule!” “I don’t know why this person sells so many books, they break the rule about not starting with weather all the time!”

 

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This nifty little graph explains the stages people go through when learning something new. When you start writing, you’re unconsciously incompetent. You don’t know what you’re doing because you’re a novice. You start studying–reading craft books, taking workshops, etc–and suddenly you start understanding the rules of the thing. This is the stage where a lot of new writers I run into are stuck, and that’s what I want to talk about today.

When you start learning the rules of writing, you think you’re figuring it out. Aha! As long as I don’t start with weather and don’t head hop and I never use anything but “said” in dialogue tags I’ll be a bestseller!

Sorry, kid. But the way you get from consciously incompetent to consciously competent is to understand the reasons for those rules so you can learn how to break them effectively. It’s not enough to simply have a To Not Do list.

1. You need to understand that writing by the rules leads to formulaic writing. (Hint: This is bad.)

2. You need to understand that the masters are the masters because they learned the ins and outs of the rules and then broke them with conscious intention. There are no happy accidents when it comes to rule breaking. Unconscious incompetent writers break rules because they don’t know them and it shows. Masters break the rules because they know them and it shows.

2. You have to read books with an eye toward learning instead of simple entertainment. Read with a pen in your hand and make notes as you go. Did the author head hop? Why? Was it effective? Why or why not? How did the author handle a tricky POV shift? How do they structure their scenes? Basically, you need to see how professionals make the sausage so you can get to grinding your own meat. (This is the best metaphor [meataphor?] I’ve ever written)

3. You need to write your ass off. Then you need to have a good critique partner tear that shit up. The trick here is finding someone who knows what the hell they’re doing. Someone who understands that a new writer needs different feedback from a pro. Someone who understands that being a comma Nazi ain’t the same as giving helpful feedback. Lots of national writers’ groups have local chapters that offer critique groups. There are lots of great places online, too (if you have favorites, recomend them in comments, please).

4. You need to challenge yourself to truly understand the concepts you’re learning. It’s one thing to read Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat to gather tricks for your toolbox. It’s something else to read it and think it’s some sort of storytelling bible. How tired do you think agents and editors are of seeing formulaic crap from new writers who think shallow plot formulas are the key to bestsellerdom?

Look, I liked Saved the Cat. I read it when I was a younger writer. I made the mistake of thinking I could use it as a shortcut to understanding story structure in a real and nuanced way. In short, I thought I could fudge my way toward knowing how to plot. Wrong. Very wrong. Now, I use techniques from that book in specific instances (“Pope in the Pool” is a favorite), but I’d only recomend it as a craft book to read after lecturing the new writer about how it’s not a panacea for your plot issues. Same goes with The Hero’s Journey. If you’re using a list of steps you printed off the internet without having read Hero with a Thousand Faces or Michael’s Hauge’s excellent writing on the hero’s journey, you’re not really learning it. For that matter, you need to read Jung and Edinger to understand the psychology behind why the Hero’s Journey is effective. This is not to say you shouldn’t read Save the Cat or try out the Hero’s Journey steps, but understand that these short cuts don’t equate to craft mastery.

5. You need to understand that most writers go through the stage where they worship rules like a golden calf. Did you know I can always tell when my reviews are written by insecure new writers? They’re always the ones who point out that I broke rules. “She used ‘I’ too much in her first person story!” SMH. Of COURSE I broke the rules. I’m a mutha effin’ professional.

But, listen, it’s part of the process of becoming a pro. When you’re a novice, you’re insecure. Of course you are. As you gain experience and get some chops, you’ll rely less on knowing the rules. You’ll learn to admire people who break the rules well. But for now, when you sneer at a pro writer for breaking a rule, understand that you’re betraying some insecurity. When you say, “How is this idiot a bestseller? They used a prologue!” What you’re saying is, “I need to feel better about my own lack of experience by tearing down those who have more experience.” It’s fine. We’ve all done it. Just understand that the rest of us know the score. And, when you’re done sneering, don’t forget to learn from those idiots who have the success you crave.

6. You need to know that a lot of writing rules are crap. Sometimes they’re influenced by genre trends and sometimes they’re perpetuated by blowhards who couldn’t write their way out of a wet paper bag.

Also? Accept that you will always have more to learn. Yes, even when you reach the pinnacle of unconscious competence. Literature is a fluid art. It’s constantly evolving and writers who think they know everything often get left behind. Plus, there’s no such thing as a perfect book. Isn’t that a relief? Isn’t it nice to know that you are not and never will be a perfect writer? Consider this your permission to experiment and play with the craft. No, you’ll never be perfect, but you can always get better.

Questions?

 

Prospero’s War on Sale!

Huge news! My publisher has slashed the price of the ebooks for Dirty Magic and Cursed Moon for a limited time. If you’ve already gotten your fix, spread the word to your friends!

About the Prospero’s War series:
The Prospero’s War series combines the gritty action of police procedurals with the speculative elements of urban fantasy. It’s a world where cops and wizards are fighting a war over addictive, dangerous, and illegal dirty magic. Some have described it as The Wire with wizards.

Book Sale Graphic- Dirty Magic & Cursed Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy Dirty Magic on sale for just $2.99 now!

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Buy Cursed Moon on sale for just $4.99 now!

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Pixel Project

This month, I’ve been participating in the Pixel Project’s Read for Pixels Campaign to help end violence against women. Thirteen bestselling authors have come together to talk about our experiences with VAW and to help raise awareness and funds for the important issue.

Last night, I participated in a Google Hangout with Regina Yau, who is the founder and President of The Pixel Project. Regina and I discussed a writer’s responsibility in fiction and the importance of stories in helping to shape society’s attitudes about violence and women. I also took some fun questions from the audience. Check it out.

Also, all of the authors participating in the campaign have donated special perks for donors. I contributed a cameo in one of my upcoming books along with a handwritten haiku for the winner. There are also wallpapers featuring book covers, critiques, signed books, and lots of other goodies. Of course, the greatest perk of all is knowing you’re helping to make a difference. The campaign is 2/3 towards their goal of raising $6000. Let’s help them surpass that! Please donate here.

MEA site

 

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Exciting news!

My new Magic Enforcement Agency site is live. It’s got lots of information about the Prospero’s War series. Great for fans of the series or people wanting to know what it’s all about. There are even a couple of fun extras, like the music playlist for the series and an Ask the Wizard section. Go check it out!

MagicEnforcementAgency.com