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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.
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!
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!
We’re still have a few more weeks until the launch of DIRTY MAGIC, but I have something cool to share with you today. Orbit has released the first EIGHT chapters in a free extended preview ebook through the major etailers. This excerpt gives you ample opportunity to test out Kate Prospero’s world and see if it’s a place you’d like to know more about.
The preview is only available electronically because it’s the easiest method to deliver a preview like this for free. However, the final novel will be available in both print and ebook through all retailers on January 21. I hope if you enjoy this preview that you’ll preorder the novel through your favorite retail outlet. Preorders are crucial to creating early buzz for a book, and since this is a new series we need all the early excitement we can get.
Also, I hope to be announcing a Really Cool Thing later this week regarding preorders of Dirty Magic. Trust me, you’re gonna love this. In the meantime, keep your preorder receipts! Just sayin’.
Get the FREE extended preview now!
It’s almost Thanksgiving! This time of year always put me in a reflective mood. This year especially, since lots of changes are about to happen in my life.
The two biggest changes will happen in January. First, I’ll be starting my MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill. I’m incredibly excited about this. A lot of people have asked why I’m bothering getting an MFA when I’m already published. The main reason is that this degree will allow me to teach. I also find it really fun to teach others about the craft, and have realized that the more I teach others the stronger my own writing grows. My hope is that I’ll be able to parlay this degree into more opportunities to teach workshops and possibly even land a job as a professor in a program similar to Seton Hill’s.
Second, my new Prospero’s War series will debut on January 21. I am so, so proud of DIRTY MAGIC, and the early feedback I’m getting is incredibly exciting. Over the next couple of months, you should keep an eye out for all the cool contests and promotions we’ll be running to get the word out. Case in point, on December 10, my publisher is launching a free, three-chapter preview of DIRTY MAGIC. (For some reason, Amazon is the only retailer with a link up for the preview at the moment, but if you have another preference, keep an eye out on those sites.) If you like what you read, be sure to preorder the book!
Other changes are happening, too. For instance, I’ve begun writing the third Kate Prospero book already, and it will be my tenth published novel. Ten! I can’t believe it. It wasn’t so long ago I couldn’t imagine even completing one novel. Now, I’m a bestselling, award-winning author with lots of books under my belt. It’s been a wild ride so far, and I’m so excited to see where this career takes me next.
But enough babbling about what’s coming. Right now, I’m busy writing and prepping for Turkey Day. Last night, I made some candied ginger to use in a couple of recipes, as well as the brine I’ll be using for the turkey. The candied ginger turned out great. Cool trick: You can use all the sugar that falls off the ginger to sprinkle on top of desserts or put it in your coffee for a little kick.
Our menu is as follows:
Dressing (my mom’s specialty)
Roasted brussel sprouts with bacon, shallots, and balsamic vinegar
Broccoli with Cheese Sauce (this is a must-have for Mr. Jaye)
Mashed potatoes with gravy
Homemade cranberry relish
Homemade yeast rolls
A lot of people drink wine while they’re cooking, but this year we’ll be having Old Fashioneds made using a batch of brandied cherries I made last year. They’re delicious. Also, I tend not to worry so much about getting the meal together when I have some delicious bourbon in mah belly.
What are your must-have dishes for Thanksgiving?
Happy Halloween, sinners! I’m pretty sure it will come as no surprise to anyone whose read my books that this is one of my favorite holidays. To celebrate, I’ve created the plan for the perfect New Orleans style Halloween shindig. Check it out at the Orbit blog.
Of course, my main celebration this year was publishing a Halloween-themed Sabina Kane novella set in New Orleans. If you haven’t check it out, today is the perfect time to do so. Buy links are in the sidebar to your right.
Also, some of you might know that tomorrow marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Basically, people pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This year, I’ve decided to participate because I have a book to write and it needs to happen quickly. If you’re participating, please be my buddy–my user name is Jayebird75.
Also, also I don’t think I’ve mentioned here on the blog that I’ve joined the gang at the Hide and Create podcast. Each member of the podcast represents a different approach to the industry: I’m the traditionally pubbed author, Moses Siregar is the Indie author, Jordan Ellinger is a tie-in writer, and Joshua Essoe is the editor. Each week, we post 30-minute shows about a variety of writing topics. This week we discussed creating tension in writing. Upcoming episodes include a 2-part interview with my agent, Rebecca Strauss, and an epic throw-down where we each defend our own writing paths. If you’re a writer, you should totally check us out.
I hope you each have a fun and safe Halloween. Remember: Friends don’t let friends eat stale Tootsie Rolls!
It’s finally here! My new Sabina Kane novella, RUSTED VEINS, is out! It’s a Halloween-themed novella set in New Orleans, and the action takes place a couple of years after the end of the completed series. Yes, you get to meet Giguhl and Valva’s demon kids. Yes, the usual suspects are all there: Sabina, Adam, Giguhl, Valva, Brooks, Erron, Rhea, Nyx, etc. If you’ve been missing Team Awesome you’ll definitely want to check this out! Alternately, if you haven’t read the Sabina Kane series yet, this is a great way to get your toes wet for only $2.99.
Orbit has created a special page for the story with excerpt and buy links. Go check it out!