Jaye Wells

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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!

 

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: 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?

 

 

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!