Jaye Wells

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The Five Ps

World building is one of my favorite parts of writing. It’s a great place to really let your imagination play, and that, my friends, is the best kind of work.

A few months ago I was asked to speak to some high school kids about what I do, so I came up with this down and dirty way to explain world building to them. I thought I’d share it with you guys in case anyone is interested in incorporating the concepts into their own work.

For the record, world building is not just the work of fantasy novelists. Pretty much every story has its own world building rules. It’s just that different genres require different types of world building. Whereas my novels require things like magic systems and origins stories for vampires, a mystery novelist might focus their efforts on creating a small town form scratch for their cozy detective  Similarly, a thriller writer will need to establish the rules of a spy agency or a women’s fiction writer the politics of a circle of friends.

The Five Ps

1. People (characters): Gender*, sex*, sexual orientation, age,  regional background, profession, religious beliefs, socioeconomic background, education, outlook, zodiac sign, Meyers-Briggs type,e tc, etc.

2. Place (setting): Region (North, South, East, West), city/town/village/planet; architecture; seaside, desert, tundra, mountain, etc.

3. Problem (conflict): What sorts of problems are the people in this setting faced with, i.e.fighting for resources, defending against roving hordes, global warning, winter’s coming, etc? How might they influence the direction of the story?

4. Practices: What is the culture of this world? Are there many or does one dominate? How might these cultures drive the action or problems explored in this story?

5. Peculiarities: These are the twists on worlds we already know. Vampires in space! Aliens in Albuquerque! Wizards fighting cops in a fictional Rust Belt Town!** A nun is a detective! Or perhaps is something less sensational–a twist on a common theme. In Jerry Maguire, the world is agenting in pro sports–something we’ve seen in a shallow way that gets an in-depth exploration. Character twist here is an agent who finds his heart.

The common theme is that each of your Ps must carry a lot of weigh. Combined they paint a picture and each contributes to the conflicts and relationships explored in your story. World building is not about painting backdrops. Characters don’t act in front of your world. They not only live fully in it. They affect and are effected by the world you create. World building is as integral to your plots as conflicts and characters.

Questions about the 5 Ps?

*Before anyone asks, yes, gender and sex are different. Gender is a social construct; sex is a biological construct.

** This one’s been taken. 😉

Dystopia Now?

Have you read the news lately? The NSA’s been conducting extensive domestic monitoring on US citizens. Greece is rounding up its citizens for internment camps.   Gays are to blame! Immigrants are to blame! Men are to blame! Women are to blame! Everyone not like me is to blame!

Sales of George Orwell’s dystopian classic, 1984, are skyrocketing. 

Every day we’re inundated with bad news on a 24-hour news cycle, the economy is still in the shitter and pretty much everyone is pissed and worried all the time.

When people are poor and fed a constant stream of bad news day in and out, they become scared. Totalitarians love fear because it makes people easier to manipulate. Witness Hitler’s rise to power during the Great Depression. He used people’s fear against them, blaming the Jews , Gypsies, and other “fringe groups” for their problems. After all, all good stories need a villain. And no one makes a better villain than the Others.

I don’t know, guys. It’s worrying. Last week, I released a novella about how a group of vampires manages to take over our world by using our dependence on technology against us. They enslave humans in work and blood camps and tell them that their blood will set them free.

When I wrote it, I didn’t know about the NSA thing or the news out of Greece. I just wrote something that scared me. No, I don’t actually believe that a secret cabal of literal vampires are going to take over. But metaphorical ones? I think they’re always trying to take over. I think they’re especially prone to attack when we let our guard down and let fear guide our decisions.

I didn’t write MERIDIAN SIX because I wanted to write a morality tale or preach an agenda. I just wanted to entertain my readers. But if you read it and maybe wonder if something like this could happen, remember: It has happened. Some people are trying to make it happen again. It’s up to all of us to ensure it does not.

 

Meridian Six is Here!

Five years ago, I was asked to contribute a short story to an obscure anthology. The obscure part didn’t matter because it would be my first publication. I had just signed with an agent, but I had yet to sell.

I threw myself into the project and wrote a very short tale about a woman named Carmina Sargosa, who is on the run from the Troika, a totalitarian vampire regime that has enslaved the human race in blood camps. Her goal was to find a house reputed to be an underground railroad for those on the run from the system. It was a few short chapters. I called it “Red Life.”

Fast forward to last year. I’ve finished a five-book series that earned me a spot on the USA Today bestseller list and tone of the top awards for my genre. It’s time to pitch a new series. I have two ideas. One is a vague notion about writing a cops and wizards book. The other is to return to the red-soaked dystopian universe and write the rest of Carmina’s story.

In the end, I decide to pitch the cops and wizards story as my next traditionally published series (the forthcoming DIRTY MAGIC–out January ’14) for several reasons I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say, Carmina was not pleased with this choice. She whispered in my ear. She flashed images of book mountains and robotic bats and an ominous building known only as The Factory. Then she told me her secret, and I realized I had to finish her story.

This novella is the first step in sharing the tale of Carmina Sargosa, the woman the Troika calls Meridian Six. I hope you all enjoy it.

Meridian_Six_Cover_300x480
MERIDIAN SIX: A Novella

Meridian Six remembers the days before the Troika enslaved humans. She also remembers her mother, a freedom fighter murdered in the final battle between humans and vampires. But it is her mother’s final words that have haunted her:

Red means life.

In the years since her mother’s death, she has been used as both a propaganda tool and a blood slave by the Troika. She’s withstood their indignities because the alternative meant bleeding out in a blood camp. But their abuses finally go too far, and she decides to run towards freedom and her mother’s red light.

On the other side, she finds the Sisters of Crimson. They help her just as her mother promised, but they also hand her to the human rebels. The vampires used her famous name to keep human slaves biddable, but now the humans want to use it inspire a revolution.

Meridian Six is about to learn that when the world is at war, freedom is a luxury paid for with blood.

Order Now!  Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Meridian Six Play List

First, a quick bit of housekeeping. Several people have asked if they can preorder MERIDIAN SIX. Unfortunately, since I am self-publishing this novella, that is not an option. Luckily we’re only a few days away from its release (this Thursday-6/6). I’ll definitely be posting buy buttons here as well as through all the normal social media outlets, so you can be sure you won’t miss it once it launches. I’m thrilled at how much early excitement there’s been for this novella.

Second, if you’re a fan of my work, you probably know that I create a soundtrack for every book I write and MERIDIAN SIX was no different. Since it’s coming out this week, I thought I’d share the playlist now to whet your appetites.

Please note: I was going to publish this through iTunes directly but they’ve removed that option. If anyone wants a printable PDF of this list, let me know in comments.

Meridian_Six_Cover_300x480

Meridian Six Novella Soundtrack

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

Fly Me Courageous by Drivin’ n’ Cryin’

My City Was Gone by Pretenders

Cities in Dust by Siouxsie & the Banshees

Running to Stand Still by U2

Games Without Frontiers by Peter Gabriel

I’m Not Your Hero by Tegan and Sara

Headhunter, Vol. 1.0 by Front 242

Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes

Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones

So Far From Your Weapon by The Dead Weather

Red by Elbow

Deadbeat by Hunters

What New York Used to Be by The Kills

Letters from the Sky by Civil Twilight

Remember MERIDIAN SIX launches on 6/6!

 

MERIDIAN SIX Excerpt

Meridian Six remembers the days before the Troika enslaved humans. She also remembers her mother, a freedom fighter who was murdered in the final battle between humans and vampires. But it is her mother’s final words that have haunted her:

Red means life.

When M6 finally runs from the vampires who’ve held her captive, she finds herself used by her own race. In a world at war, freedom is a luxury paid for in blood.

Meridian Six–out 6/6

M6 cover

One.

The frigid air scraped my lungs raw. I pumped my legs faster, praying for a second wind. Stopping wasn’t an option. Their breath beat at my back, and if they caught me, I’d be dead.

I turned the corner, running down an alley. Footsteps echoed behind me. Faster. I wrenched two trashcans back into their path. A male cursed and grunted. Metal scraped against concrete. I focused on the mouth of the alley and prayed for a miracle.

A black sedan screeched to a stop in front of me. I didn’t hesitate. My legs ached with the exertion, but I just managed to launch myself onto the hood. On the other side, the landing lurched every joint in my body.

Keep running. Find the light. Red means life.

#

Read the rest of the excerpt here.

Buy links for this novella will be posted on 6/6.

Newsletter

I just sent out the first issue of my new monthly newsletter. It’s filled to the brim with information on several upcoming releases. If you’re interested in receiving it directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up using the handy form over on the top right.

Included in this issue:

-Cover reveal for my new novella MERIDIAN SIX

-Preorder Buttons for the CARNIEPUNK anthology coming in July

-Preorder buttons for DIRTY MAGIC, out January 21, 2014

-Information about my upcoming Texas tour with Mark Henry, Nicole Peeler, Kevin Hearne and Liliana Hart.

-And an announcement about my new alter ego, Kate Eden.

I hope you’re as excited about all the new stuff coming your way as I am. I’ve been busy preparing lots of cool new stuff for you to read.

Read the newsletter here.

New Dirty Magic Blurb

Fun news! A new blurb for DIRTY MAGIC just landed in my inbox this morning. I’ve published several books, but each time I get a new cover blurb I still squeal like a kid on a Ferris Wheel. IN this case, the blurb happens to come from an author whose work I greatly admire.*happy dance*

 

Jaye Wells raises the urban fantasy bar with DIRTY MAGIC, a hard-boiled series debut as unique and surprising as the creatures and characters peopling it. Kate Prospero is charged with policing the Cauldron, a magical world so fully realized, and so gritty, it gets under your nails. Wells is known for deftly weaving non-stop action with no-holds barred humor, but the unique and deeply drawn relationships are the real alchemy here. DIRTY MAGIC showcases seasoned pro, Wells, at the top of her game, and establishes newcomer Kate Prospero as the urban fantasy heroine to beat. 

-Vicki Pettersson, NYT Bestelling Author of The Signs of the Zodiac and Celestial Blues series

RT Convention and Awards

For the last five days I’ve been at the RT Book Reviews convention in Kansas City. Today was the massive public book signing, which was totally fun, but also exhausting. The whole week is fun and exhausting, actually. For people who spend the majority of our time alone and in comfy yoga pants, spending a week with thousands of people and also wearing Spanx and high heels takes some serious effort. But it’s all worth it because even though it can be tiring, it’s so great to hang out with other readers and writers and remember why we do all this in the first place.

As always, it’s been great to catch up with old friends and make new ones. The readers are as enthusiastic as ever. And the panels have all been interesting and well-attended. I haven’t done a lot of the parties and special events this year, but, as always, the bar has been an interesting spot for industry gossip. I think the next 18 months are going to be verrrrry interesting, but that’s a blog for another time.

This year’s con has been especially awesome because I won an award. I have never won an award for my writing before, and to win one for writing the best book in my genre for the entire year of 2012 is pretty friggin’ amazing.
award

 

There are two other cool things about this award.

1. Blue-Blooded Vamp was the fifth and final book of my Sabina Kane series. If you’ve never written the last book of a series, let me tell you it’s pretty nerve wracking. Not only are you dealing with the normal nerves and stresses that come with publishing any book, but now you’re also dealing with needing to make readers feel like the entire journey of the series was worth their while. So, winning this award means a lot of people enjoyed Sabina’s wild ride. That makes me very happy.

2. Blue-Blooded Vamp was the book that I finally dedicated to my dad. He passed away 21 years ago last week, and his death left a huge hole in my life. If you’ve read BBV, you might remember that there’s a huge part of the narrative dedicated to Sabina’s relationship with her own father. Writing this book allowed me to work through some things I’d been carrying around since I was 17 and woke up to find out I’d never get see my dad again. So, yeah, winning an award for this book in particular was pretty meaningful.

I don’t get the chance often enough to stop and express how blessed and lucky I feel to be able to write stories for you. Readers are the best people in the world, and telling stories is my absolute passion. Thank you for reading mine.

Next week it’s back to deadlines and carpool, but for now I get to hang out with really cool people who love books as much as I do. I hope wherever you are tonight, you’ve got a good book to keep you company.

 

RT Convention 2013

Happy Friday, party people! I’m gearing up for next week’s book bacchanalia aka RT Booklover’s Convention in Kansas City. I’m super excited about this year’s festivities because in addition to all the panels and parties, I’m also winning an award. The last award I won was a  Chuck Palahniuk bookmark made from fake anal beads  for coming up with the best fake porn name in a contest hosted by Mark Henry.*  This award is a little bit of a bigger deal–although I’m fairly certain the award itself won’t be as much of a conversation piece–so I’m super psyched.

For those going to the convention, I thought I’d share a handy quick reference for all the panels and events I’ll be participating in. Also, if you see me at the con, don’t be shy. I’m there to hang out with readers, so please come introduce yourself. Especially if it’s in the bar and you want to buy me a drink.

 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 1, 2013
3:45pm – 4:45pm Marketing/Social Network Make the Most of Social Media, Without Making a Mess
THURSDAY, MAY 2, 2013
10:00am – 11:00am Reader Vampires We Love to Hate
FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2013
10:00am – 11:00am Reader Anything Goes in Urban Fantasy: Authors Tell All
3:45pm – 4:45pm Reader Vampire Social: Meet, Greet & Play
5:00pm – 6:00pm Craft Organizing and Outlining Your Soon-to-Be Bestselling Novel

 

*For the record, the title was “Lawrence of the Labia.”

The Storyteller’s Creed

The Storyteller’s Creed

We believe in the power of Story, the prose almighty. And in creativity, the first begotten product of imagination.

We suffer for this art, we bleed for it. Because we will eventually die but our stories will endure.

We believe in the power of the Word everlasting. With its power to heal and to harm, the rend and to sew. To inspire and entertain. To illuminate and obfuscate.

We understand the power of the Word and we will use it for good. For evil scribes use Words to lead readers down hateful paths.

We believe in the holy bonds forged with our readers. And we will honor this pact by writing the best stories of which we are capable.

We will honor our muses, be they real or imagined. We will feed them well and ply them with plentiful drink until the ideas flow.

We are Writers. Modern day troubadours and raconteurs, who ignore the false prophets and snake oil salesmen with their promises of green.

For the goddess Story is worshiped and glorified. An lo though she may doom us to a van down by the river, we love her now and forever.

Amen.