dirty magicJayeWells

 JAYE WELLS is a USA Today-bestselling author of urban fantasy and speculative crime fiction. Raised by booksellers, she loved reading books from a very young age. That gateway drug eventually led to a full-blown writing addiction. When she’s not chasing the word dragon, she loves to travel, drink good bourbon and do things that scare her so she can put them in her books. Jaye lives in Texas. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and at jayewells.com.


I’m happy to have Jaye back on the blog. Not only is she an amazing writer, she’s fun to hang out with too.


Lizs Class Margie and Jaye Wells 1024x768

Margie Asks Jaye: Tell us about Prospero’s War and the first book in the series—Dirty Magic.

The Prospero’s War series is about what would happen if instead of drugs, magic potions were sold illegally on the streets. The main character is an ambitious named Kate Prospero, and in the first book, DIRTY MAGIC, she gets assigned to a Magic Enforcement Agency task force that is trying to bring down the major covens that supply and sell dirty magic on the streets.

The series combines urban fantasy with police procedural, and is set in a fictional Rust Belt town of Babylon, Ohio. It’s a world where clean magic is convenient but expensive and used in lots of everyday situations, like potion-fueled cars, and dirty magic is cheap but dangerous and feeds people’s addictions for easy fixes to life’s problems.


The name of the series refers to both the MEA’s war on dirty magic, as well as Kate’s own internal war over her relationship to her own past as a member of a coven.

Jaye holding pages by pool 1024x719Margie Chimes In:  I love Jaye’s brain! I’ve had the fun of working with Jaye’s uber-cool brain in lots of online classes and in two Immersion Master Classes. Why take the time to do a second 4 ½ day immersion class?

Even though I’ve published several novels, I firmly believe that writing is a craft that is never fully mastered. My second immersion took me even further into more advanced deep editing techniques. I hope to take a third Immersion class with Margie as soon as I can because I learn something new every time.

I also find that it’s easy under deadline to get lazy with the techniques, and a refresher reminds me how important it is to do the extra work to make the words sing.

Margie Chimes In:  You’re smart. And your smart take-the-time-to-deep-edit writing craft shows in your writing. Here’s what people are saying about Dirty Magic.

“Jaye Wells has created a fresh, magical world full of potion junkies & alchemists that promises to break new ground in paranormal thrillers.” – Laurell K. Hamilton

“Kate Prospero is my new favorite heroine—imperfect, haunted, driven, and dangerous.” – Kevin Hearne, NYT Bestselling Author of The Iron Druid Chronicles

“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 series

IMC Oct 2010 Jaye Wells with ThaliaMargie Asks Jaye: Those are impressive endorsements from impressive sources. You’ve worked hard to put out an incredible book. What are some deep editing tools you learned from me and how do you use them?

Jaye Responds: Whether it’s using rhetorical devices to punch up my word craft, or pulling out highlighters (Margie’s EDITS System)to make sure my scenes are well-balanced, or using tricks like backloading to increase tension, I’m always digging into my Lawson Bag O’ Tricks.  I’ve found that my first drafts are stronger because yourlessons have trained me to write for strong emotions rather than just edit for them.

Margie Chimes In:  Yay! You’re deep editing in your mind in your first drafts. You’re fixing things before they get on the screen. Just how deep editing is designed to work. You also use strong emotions. That’s smart. Emotions areessential for hooking the reader. Check out this power Internalization from Dirty Magic.

I hardened the part of me that was still tender after all these years.

Jaye’s good at writing visceral reactions too. Read the examples below.

I stood and walked away on wooden legs.

The potion patch had worn off, but my adrenaline was pounding like lightning through my veins.

My teeth clenched and a hot rush of blood coursed through my veins.

A quickening began in my middle and expanded outward, heating my limbs and hardening my resolve.

IMC Oct 2010 Jaye Wells and Calypso MediumJaye writes urban fantasy and the worlds she builds are asexciting as the characters she creates. Instead of using ordinary character descriptions, Jaye builds a person the way she builds a world—with fresh and cadence-driven descriptions. Here are a few of her first-impression descriptions from her main character, Kate’s, point of view.

Stress lines permanently bracketed Eldritch’s mouth. His bald pate glowed dully under the harsh fluorescent lights. The desk hid a paunch that betrayed a lifelong love affair with fried dough, but one would be unwise to mistake his generous midsection for a sign of weakness.

Her brown hair was cut in a no-nonsense bob. The lines between her brows told me they were used to frowning, and the steel in her gaze hinted at a razor-blade tongue.

She wore a dress over her furry body that tented her thin frame like a muumuu. The floral catastrophe screamed Goodwill donation box.

Once Jaye’s introduced a character, she keeps building him. One way to do that is by using dialogue and body language cues like the ones below.

“Go.” His voice was quiet but held a thin edge of steel.

“That’s too bad.” He took a too-casual sip from his can of Excalabur, the most popular brand of energy potion.

Gardner’s expression went tense, like she’d hoped I would have forgotten about that.

When he finally looked up, his eyes were shiny and red-rimmed.

Many times authors will use the phrase—she/he smiled. Why leave the smile there when you can use that smile to deepen character? Look at Jaye’s smiles.

He smiled self-consciously, an expression that took years off his face.

His smile transformed his face from boyish to almost-mannish.

In addition to the devices above, Jaye also uses a few other tricks, like humor hits and alliteration to pull the reader into the story.  

Humor Hits:

I needed a hot shower and a stiff drink—preferably at the same time.

Cops were worse than housewives when it came to gossip.

The lightning-fast change in topic nearly gave me whiplash.


Metal shrieked and surrendered.

I could see Mez, but occasionally the air sizzled with the static of spent magic from one of his party favors.

Margie Asks Jaye: What do you think your strengths were going into this series based on some of the techniques I teach? Do you have any examples? 

Jaye Responds: Rhetorical devices, cadence, using power words, incorporating all the senses, and backloading are my secret weapons. The first three lines of the book combined cadence, power words, backloading, onomatopoeia, assonance, polysyndeton, as well as three sense: sight, sound, and smell.

Openings can kill a novel or kick it out of the park. I'm teaching a class on openings in May--A Deep Editing Guide to Making Your Openings Pop.

Here’s Jaye’s opening to Dirty Magic.

“It was just another f***ed up night in the Cauldron. Potion junkies huddled in shadowy corners with their ampoules and pipes and needles. The occasional flick of a lighter’s flame illuminated their dirty, desperate faces, and the air sizzled with the ozone scent of spent magic.”

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. You got me with the first line. First lines are critical. Openings are critical. Not just on page one but in every chapter. 

Thank you, Jaye, for sharing Dirty Magic. Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook from Jaye and a lecture packet from me.


# Premise, promise, and penning first linesShanda Carlyle 2014-03-28 11:59
Nice of you to share with us! I've seen that cover before and wondered about it. Great title drew me in first. I'm a magic junkie when it comes to books. :)
Love the craft displayed here. Your opening captured just the right tone, set the stage, kept me reading. I had an ahh moment at "ozone scent of spent magic." Just perfect.
I've been struggling with an opening from a Nano I wrote years ago. It was difficult to get back into that mindset of the story after years' passage. The flow is there AFTER the opening, but I can't seem to nail down a first paragraph--and I've tried many. I'm going nuts trying to pen a story promise.
Any tips on delivering premise, promise and a great first line?

Thanks for bringing us more great examples, Margie.
# Hello Shanda!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 15:37
Shanda --

I agree, DIRTY MAGIC is a brilliant grab-the-reader title!

Love your alliteration and cadence in your subject line:

Premise, promise, and penning first lines

I'm teaching a course on openings in May:

A Deep Edit Guide to Make Your Openings Pop!

I cover style and structure and strategy to add power to openings, and I provide feedback too!

Hope to see you in class in May!
# RE: Margie Grad Jaye WellsJaye Wells 2014-03-28 13:20
Hi Shanda,

Sometimes nailing the first line happens after you've written the rest of the book. It's also common for writers to start the book at the wrong spot. Sometimes the real opening is a couple of paragraphs--or pages or chapters--after where you thought it should begin. Barring that, it might help to sit down and write a list of theme words for your book to help. See if one of those sparks a killer first line. Good luck!
# ThanksShanda Carlyle 2014-03-28 23:53
Thanks for the tip. :)
# Magic is drug.Yolanda Barber 2014-03-28 14:27

I love the concept of magic being a drug. So many great examples, thanks for sharing and inspiring.


Thanks for the learning op's. Whenever I need a reminder of the many techniques you teach this blog is a great refresher.
# Hello Yolanda!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 16:00
Yolanda --

You'll see more examples from Jaye in Immersion class.

Can't wait to work with you in Immersion Master Class in Atlanta!
# RE: Margie Grad Jaye WellsKelly 2014-03-28 14:47
Dirty Magic is an exciting read and Jaye Wells is a fantastic author. I highlighted MANY things she wrote to go back and analyze them. Love her fast-paced writing and her humor, and can't wait to read the next in the series.
# Hello Kelly!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 16:03
Kelly --

You're so smart to highlight and study fresh writing. And Jaye's books give your highlighters a workout!

Thank you for chiming in!
# RE: Margie Grad Jaye WellsJaye Wells 2014-03-31 16:57
Hi Kelly,

Thanks so much! CURSED MOON comes in August. I worked on that book last year in my second Margie immersion class, so I'm very excited to share it with everyone.
# AuthorCate Masters 2014-03-28 14:57
Great post, Jaye! I am a firm believer in lifelong learning as well. As Michelangelo said in his 90s, I am still learning.
I just picked up Dirty Magic and can't wait to start reading it.
I've purchased several packets from you, Margie, and attended the Safari Structure last year, but am always up to learn more, and grow as a writer.
Keep up the excellent work, both of you!
# Hello Cate!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 16:07
Cate --

Ah, you have some of my lecture packets. You're an intrepid learner!

Hope to see you in an online class sometime. I'm teaching a course on openings in May:

---- A Deep Edit Guide to Make Your Openings Pop!

It's a power-packed class!
# RE: Margie Grad Jaye WellsHeather Dearly 2014-03-28 14:59
I love Jaye's work and her work ethic. Great interview! Thank you so much for sharing. :-)
# Hello Heather!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 16:12
Heather --

You know Jaye and her work ethic. Jaye works hard to make her writing stellar, and it shows!

Thanks for posting. Hope to see you here on Wednesday when the Pubbed Margie-Grad Blog features Elizabeth Essex!
# Brilliant ImaginationElizabeth Essex 2014-03-28 15:31
Thanks for sharing, Jaye and Margie!

And I love the pictures from out immersion, (I was all, "What a pretty reading room." :)

There is just so much power and cadence in Jaye's stories that they rocket me along.

Great interview! Cheers, EE
# Hello Elizabeth!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 16:16
Liz --

I love that picture where I'm working with Jaye in the pretty reading room. Your pretty reading room. ;-)

Thank you again for hosting an Immersion class last year!

I'm teaching two Immersion classes in Dallas this year too, but I gave you a break. We could make an Immersion class at your house an every other year event. :-)

See you back here on WEDNESDAY, when I'm featuring YOU!
# Character DescriptionsLori Freeland 2014-03-28 15:58
Jaye, I'm loving your book. I think my favorite examples that Margie pulled were the character descriptions. :) You're sense of humor shines through.
# Hey Lori!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 16:19
Lori --

I love Jaye's writing and her humor as much as I love Whoopie Pies! And you know how much I love Whoopie Pies with bananas. :-)
# Thx for the reminder!Tricia Skinner 2014-03-28 17:31
I need a Margie refresher course. The examples provided from Dirty Magic are brilliant. Solid and creative and inspiring.
# Hello Tricia!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 16:21
Hello Immersion-Grad Tricia!

Miss you!

Hope I bet to work with you in Immersion class at Marcus' house!

Love the way you described Jaye's writing -- solid and creative and inspiring!
# RE: Thx for the reminder!Jaye Wells 2014-03-31 16:58
Hey T! Margie doesn't know this, but Tricia and I are both in the Seton Hill MFA program together and we're critique partners. It definitely shows that she's taken some of your classes. She's going to do big things with her writing.
# RE: Margie Grad Jaye WellsPam Stewart 2014-03-28 19:58
Jayne: Love that first line and love your cover art. Your writing is divine.

Thanks Margie, for yet another opportunity to learn from you and your students!
# Hello Pam!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 16:24
Pam --

Great to see you here!

Maybe I'll see you in the course on openings in May:

----- A Deep Edit Guide to Make Your Openings Pop!

Hundreds more learning opps!
# RE: Margie Grad Jaye WellsJadyn 2014-03-29 09:06
Hi Jaye!
I am mortified to say I haven't read any of your earlier works but I am going to remedy that very soon. Such fresh, powerful writing! Loved the examples!
# Hello Jadyn!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 16:26
Jadyn --

You won't be mortified for long. I bet you'll be reading one of Jaye's books very soon!

You're right. Fresh and powerful writing!
# Great InterviewAngelina Rice 2014-03-29 09:18
Yet another fantastic post, Margie! Super job making the concepts clear.
Jaye, I am absolutely enthralled with the Sabrina Kane series. I can hardly wait to read Dirty Magic.
# Hello Angelina!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 16:29
Angelina --

Thank you!

Sounds like you're a Jaye Wells fan for life!

Jaye always delivers her fresh writing magic. :-)
# RE: Margie Grad Jaye WellsJodelle Brohard 2014-03-29 11:23
Great interview. This really made me want to read Jayne's book, Dirty Magic.
# Hello Jodelle!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 16:34
Jodelle --

I don't think we've met, or cyber-met before. Thanks for dropping by the Pubbed Margie-Grad blog.

Hope to see you here on Wednesday too, when I'm featuring Elizabeth Essex's stellar writing.

Beware: The Pubbed Margie-Grad Blog grows your learning and your list of TBR books.

BTW -- My last sentence is an example of zeugma. :-)
# RE: Margie Grad Jaye WellsPatrick Hughes 2014-03-29 12:31
Hi Jaye and Margie,
I love all the excerpts that were posted -- all the smiles and the visceral reactions and the humor hits.
Jaye, I've read a few of your books and enjoyed them immensely. I agree with Margie -- you got me with first few lines of Dirty Magic as well.
Thanks for the interview.
# Hook & lineLynette M. Burrows 2014-03-29 12:46
Jaye, I am in awe of your fantastic first line.

I am not quite a year after my first Lawson class, Immersion and am in FAB30 now. I understand when you say that writing is a craft that is never quite mastered, but wow, you've got skilz! I hope I can be like you when I grow up. :)

Thanks, Margie, for sharing more solid examples from the Lawson Bag o' Tricks.
# RE: Margie Grad Jaye WellsBernice Russell 2014-03-29 12:56
Love the excerpts, especially the smiles :D
I've heard only the best things about
Margie's online courses, and Jaye's writing is a model example.
Jaye, loving the cover for your new book!
Thanks for taking the time to be on Margie's blog.
# RE: Margie Grad Jaye WellsChristine Kransen 2014-03-29 13:14
This is a wonderful interview and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Love your style of writing. The new book sounds intriguing and I can't wait to read it.
# Writing MagicYolanda Robinson 2014-03-29 15:19
Thanks for being here and sharing your process and the excerpts from your latest. I have to tell you I loved Meridian Six. The examples here are peachy. I was particularly bowled over by this one: The occasional flick of a lighter’s flame illuminated their dirty, desperate faces, and the air sizzled with the ozone scent of spent magic. I look forward to Dirty Magic. It's already been added to my TBR list.
By the bye, any advice for nailing that crucial opening scene?
# RE: Writing MagicJaye Wells 2014-03-31 16:53
Hi Yolanda,

I'm thrilled you enjoyed MERIDIAN SIX! I'm planning on writing the next novella in the series this summer. Thanks for stopping by.

# HookedRebecca H. 2014-03-29 15:39
Altogether fun post. ;-) Loved the excerpt and the break down. And the interview.
That opening line sure hooked me.
Another fine learning opportunity courtesy of Margie.
Jaye, Thanks for popping by!
# Robin OlsonRobin Olson 2014-03-29 21:41
I love your theme-filled power words, Jaye. It's an art I need to pay more attention to. Margie Lawson is definitely a drug worth becoming addicted to. Good luck with your writing.
# RE: Robin OlsonJaye Wells 2014-03-31 16:54
Robin, it really helps to sit down and write a list of theme words. I generally do it before I hit the revisions stage so I can layer them in when I focus on the sentence-level edits. Thanks for stopping by!

# Love the power!Amanda Pedersen 2014-03-30 00:34
Thanks for the learning opps Jaye and Margie! I love your humor hits and the opening line is so perfect. I can't wait to read the series :)
# Talent Talent TalentRayn Ellis 2014-03-30 08:50
Thanks Jaye! The series sounds really cool. Adding it to my reading list right now. Thanks Margie for sharing Jaye's wonderful writing :) I love the idea that I share a writing craft teacher with so many amazingly talented, successful, multi-pubbed authors!
That's gotta rub off right?;)
# Nice interviewCandace Arnold 2014-03-30 09:13
Nice interview. Thanks to Margie for sharing Jaye's wonderful writing and the reasons why it works. Looking forward to the new series.
# Impressive indeedLillian Oakley 2014-03-30 16:42
Impressive, Jaye! Your writing feels so vibrant and compelling. Fascinating examples and great analysis - it was all super fun to read!
# WINNERS! WINNERS!Margie Lawson 2014-03-31 15:57

If you know Jaye Wells, you love her.

If you've read Jaye Wells, you love her writing!

Thank you for dropping by my Pubbed Margie-Grad Blog and celebrating Jaye's writing.

I just clicked over to random.org and learned the names of our TWO WINNERS!



Shanda and Patrick, please email me. You can contact me through my web site.

A big THANK YOU to Jaye Wells for being my guest, and for being a Margie-Grad, and two-time Immersion Grad too!


Drop by the Pubbed Margie-Grad Blog on Wednesay, and you'll be treated to stellar writing by ELIZABETH ESSEX!

See you on Wednesday!
# RE: WINNERS! WINNERS!Jaye Wells 2014-03-31 16:55
Congrats to Shanda and Patrick!

Margie, thank you so much for having me on. I owe you so much for helping me take my writing to the next level, which is why I dedicated the second book the Prospero's War series, CURSED MOON, to you!

Cheers, everyone!
# Thanks!Shanda 2014-04-01 16:15
Thanks, Margie and Jaye. I look forward to the read!

© 2018 Margie Lawson

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